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Saturday, 23 March 2013

Fates Worse Than Death: Two-shot of the 2000s

So, for those of you who know me, I've been running a series of one-shots featuring the games of different decades. So far, we've played Backswords and Bucklers, ZeFRS, Unknown Armies, and yesterday, it was time for Fates Worse than Death (by Vajra Games).
It's a neo-cyberpunk setting (a.k.a. postcyberpunk according to TVTropes). Guns are regulated, while characters aren't, for the most part, lone operators, but have different social networks to help them deal with life and cope with consequences.
The Runner (guy who transports messages and stuff) Jack was hired by an Animalist to run and fetch a disk from "a boy in a wheelchair" in an abandoned building. He got paid handsomely for speed.
He ran.In fact, he ran so fast, he was only hearing rapidly approaching motorcycles.
He bothered to check the door of the abandoned building, which probably saved his life. Drake contact poison is nasty, and it was smeared all over the handle. And there seemed to be spikes all over the door, in the usual places where one would push or kick it down.
He also noticed the empty cans on a cord alarm and managed not to trigger it, so it was only when he called on the guy in the wheelchair that he turned to look at him. With 3 eyes. Well, 2 biologic eyes, and 1 barrel of a home-made illegal gun.
After he described who he works for, he was given a disk and advised to hurry. And so he did.
Meaning, he was already getting out of the place, when 3 motorcycles stopped on the street. And now we switched to another PC.
Because I didn't have an idea whether what was on the disk the Cracker handed him was actually useful. And from this depended the 3rd PC's introduction.

Earlier, the Thief...
... was approached by an Animalist. He wanted him to go to some lady's flat, and steal any notes possible, including ones thrown away.
The player is suspicious, so she looked at me and asked:
"What the hell for?"
"Do you care?"
"Not really. What's in it for me?"
They settled on 185$ for this.
And yes, that's a whole lot. However, the operation is supported by more than one gang... No, Animalists aren't actually one of them, they're just using one of them for the "face", and a Sexologist gal. Talk about contradictory signals for anyone that tries to puzzle that out!
Anyway, money aren't really an issue, and this Animalist ain't got the patience to bargain.

Of course, when Lucios the Thief went to check, things rapidly went pear-shaped. Granted, the guard dog in the yard failed an willpower check and ate the offered steak, but then triggered the alarm on the door, and only fast reflexes prevented him from both being electrocuted and poisoned.
A spark of brilliance allowed him to rapidly disarm the alarm, but the signal has already been given. Expect private security within minutes.
Lucios ran up, disarmed the other alarm on the lady's door in another flash of brilliance, snatched all documents and whatever the containers had, and ran. She outran the private security guards - not the best, since people at the central assumed a "false positive" because it was interrupted, therefore, not such a hard task outrunning them - then jumped through a window, triggering yet another alarm (yes, this is a secure building!). Of course, now it didn't matter, since the guards were already there, and the new ones weren't going to get there fast enough.
The guard landed less successfully than Lucios and sprained an ankle. Lucios ran away successfully.
 And now I knew what was in the disk. This was the flat of the IT specialist protecting some servers. I had already established that the Cracker would be able to get in, and after getting some info, was noticed and located. The three motorcycle guys were, well, "clean-up team". Which is as nasty as it sounds. Due to the Thief's success, it was successful, but due to attracting attention, they didn't have the full info. Had Lucios acquired nothing, he would have had mostly useless info.
But now, we're at the Black Med guy.
So, the Black Med was approached by an indie gal. She went to ask for his help with a patient. Said patient had issues with his lower body, meaning paralysis.
If you see a trend, it's because it's there.
He had a bad day, though, and so decided it was Drake halluxinogenic poison, administered by a Drake, and probably a tendon being cut in the process. When a Drake was summoned to give an antidote, he quickly corrected him - the injury wasn't clean enough to be made by a piece of glass, the preferred delivery system for Drakes. It looked more like some thicker blade had gone through armour, and partially stopped by it. Besides, as he pointed out, their hallucinogenic stuff wears off in less time than the time that had passed.
The patient confirmed, it was a Bowie that went through his armour. But mostly, he was rambling about spiders...and nets. And flames. And Colin. But well, everybody is scared by Colin, right?
The two specialists confirmed it was some halucinogenic drug with really long effects. The paralysis was a side-effect, one almost on the level of losing part of your brain... which, as we all know, is quite possible with one of the nastier drugs the Drug Lords produce. Anyway, said side-effect also explains why the gal, which they identified as sexologist,didn't just heal him her way. The condition for Sexologist powers to work couldn't be met!
The Black Med shrugged, and said "give him a stimulant to counteract weakness, or he doesn't stand much of a chance". Then he left.
At the peak of the stimulant, there was only very limited mobility being achieved. I leave it to you to work out what happened to this guy.
So, back at the building with our Runner. Now I knew the team had orders to capture alive and question, if possible.
Two of the three went in, one pointed a SMG to our Runner. "Show me your pockets, now!"
The guy tried to slip the disc in the back of his pants before doing so. Unfortunately, the guy noticed it, and started raising the SMG towards his head.
The Runner jumped aside, narrowly missing a short burst, then jumped over a fence. The motorcycle guy tried jumping it with his machine, but had a really bad day, and his second wheel caught on it.
He tumbled, and while he was on the ground, the Runner was all over him like smell on French cheese.
It was a relatively light wound only, on the gut but not reaching vital organs, and the Cleaner pulled out his own knife, since the SMG had been dropped. And he wanted to cut this guy to ribbons.
The Runner didn't lose hope for not achieving insta-win in his attack. Soon later, he managed to stick his knife in the other's neck, too, slowing him even more. Shallow wounds are still painful, and if he haven't missed the jugular, that would have been a short one.
There followed a series of attacks, dodges, and misses due to attacking from too far away. As always, knife fights are fast, even if there are many rolls.
At roughly this point, they heard a single gunshot. It was followed by two bursts.
Yes, the Cracker was no more. The funny thing was, he had shot one of the Cleaners lethally. So, two armed to the teeth pro-mercenaries achieved a heroic win against a guy in a wheelchair, after he had fired his only bullet. And they gave only one victim in the process.
The Runner left himself open, then twisted away from the strike, and charged his opponent, aiming for the face. He actually popped him an eye, but amazingly, the other one kept swinging.
I had to remind them about the first UFC, when a guy lost his eye to a forbidden gouging, but didn't release his hold and broke the other's arm. He's now got a glass eye, and is, or was, president of the Japanese federation of BJJ. So, eye attacks aren't a guaranteed win - actually, nothing is, AFAICT.
However, it impaired him greatly, so the guy Runner just got to the SMG, jumped, rolled, and used a burst. From almost point-blank, since the guy had tried intercepting him and stabbing him in the back before he gets to the weapon.
That was it, the guy fell down, bleeding. The Runner, well, ran away with an expensive (and fully illegal) SMG. He had to play cat and mouse with the last guy, but he knew the area better than him.
Amazingly, he made the wrong turn, and came up against an opponent with a motorcycle and a SMG. Reacting a split-second earlier, he threw himself away, and was only hit by one bullet. It wasn't such a nasty wound.
The second time, the Runner won the game, and found the Animalist still there.
"I want extra! You didn't mention crazy guys with motorcycles!"
"If you had been faster, you wouldn't have met them at all. I'm already paying you handsomely!"
He gave him the disk, but kept the SMG.

At this point, we were interrupted by phone calls, and a couple of the players had to leave and meet an appointment they had scheduled for later in the evening. So we never got them to meet whoever was behind the drug. After all, it was in development, and even its unfinished form was used as a poison by an, ahem, associate gang that did some dirty work.
However, the players unanimously liked the setting, and required that the game be extended to a two-shot format instead of a one-shot. We'll see.
Maybe due to the shorter time, or due to the dice, but it's the first of our one-shots where no PC died. Actually, I'm hoping the new players are just learning how to deal with the usual challenges, meaning "above their level".
So, next week is for the second part of this. And the one after that is for the One-shot of the 2010s.
After that, one of the players wants to try his hand at GMing, and we're starting a campaign. It's likely to be either Tenra Bansho Zero, ot FWtD!

All in all, I'm quite happy with the game.