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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

FWTD: Chasing Colin and muggings in Manhattan 2080 (sessions 5 and 6, or 7 and 8, depending on how you count)

So, we've got 3 more sessions since the last one I blogged about. Let me see what I can tell you about the last two.

Dorotheia and her runner friend had decided to go to the Omniscients. They did, and after getting off the metro and walking less than a couple blocks, a kid approached them. He (or she, who can tell at that age?) handed them a note.
"Freak, get in the 2nd building left".
And so they did. It was completely dark inside. The Omnscient explained he sees better in the dark. It was probably not an exaggeration.
They explained they're looking for a couple - or maybe 3 - Colin clones. And they asked for help tracking them from the description.
"How am I supposed to do that?", the Omniscient inquired. "I can't just walk the streets and look at everyone that fits your description, right?"
"Then how can you help us?"
"Here, take these bugs in two jars. If you find a Colin, smash one on him, and run. Then send me a note, and I'd have him delivered to you."
In essence, he just gave them two psychic bugs. They even thanked him for it.
After that, they went back to the Colin Hunters. The apartment was empty (the Colins were actually inside, sedated, and kept by a Math Addict. But they didn't know that).
So the Runner left Dorotheia and went to his Black Trader. He sent him on an errand: to deliver a message. And he gave him a bottle of lemonade on a nice red string, which he attached to his belt.
The Runner went on... and he promptly blew his chance to notice he has been followed.
As this happened, he only noticed a trio of guys that were dressed like workers or maybe street persons. There were also 3 Animalist in the same part of the metro, and the three looked at them and rose as one, deciding to go farther away. Well, Animalists are dangerous.
The three passed over the Runner - who even followed them with a glance to make sure the Animalist wouldn't try to kill them or something - but as they passed near him, the train started decelerating.
Which actually meant the momentum was pushing them back towards him. And as it turned out, one of them knew how to use this, by performing a flying kick towards him.
Now, our Runner is a consummate artist with knives. He did manage to sidestep, but the guy passed him by and landed on his feet in a boxing stance. The other two pulled a shiv and a knife.
"Hey, guys, can't we sort this out?"
"Sure. Just give us this bottle".
He had the idea that this was more important than lemonade, and refused. At which point, he had to dodge a shiv.
Actually, he managed that, and tried to go around the boxer.
Well, he did. Except he caught a hook to the head, and fell over.
He was poised for brain damage, but there was actually an NPC with very good Emergency medicine skill (a pacifist, who traveled in the same subway car and just had studied lots of first aid for philosophical reasons).
(To clarify, I generated the passengers in this car of the metro at random, because I expected him to go to the Trader. What I didn't expect him to fail the roll to spot the ambush, but it turned out that he had min-maxed, and his Awareness had taken a plunge. Well, even maximum skill with knives isn't always enough).
So, he could be played in as little as a few weeks of in-game time. It was time for a temporary character. The player decided on an Animalist.


Dimitri from the Orphans, however, lived to tell the story of their first meeting with a Hunter!
After a fight with Skin Borgs, where he had fought next to Hummingbirds, he got invited to a party. Specifically, it was a mud party...but they loaned him protective clothes. Or, as one of them put it, "Youdon'twanttoknowhowdirtythatmudis,sweetie!" Yeah, Hummingbirds often talk like this.
It was a good night, all in all. He got closer to a girl, and enjoyed the music, but during a (live! Can you imagine!) performance from a band that sang about fighting Skin Borgs... she decided to go crowdsurfing towards the scene, gliding over the heads of people.
Except someone dropped her. Good news: she smashed into mud, so the fall wasn't hard.
Bad news: she smashed into mud face-first, and likely swallowed some of it. There are ways to get a nastier disease in Manhattan 2080...but I can't think of any right now.
So, he helped her get up, and after she was over throwing up, volunteered to accompany her to a Black Med (she didn't have insurance).
However, on the way there, he met a weird guy laying in the middle of the street. He was hurt in the leg (which he didn't notice), and he handed him money and a note.
"Take this! It's all for you!"
I don't know what was passing through the player's head - most likely, he decided someone wants to bind him with a contract - but Dimitri only took the note.
The man jumped, thanked him enthusiastically, and ran away.
The note said "you've got 5 minutes to run!" As soon as he took it and the man ran, an arrow struck next to his leg.
Cue ominous music.
Both he and the girl got a City Knowledge check, and she made it.
"I think that's a hunter. Sorry, sweetie, I don't think I can help against one of those sickos... I can send for help, though! Try to live long enough, will ya?"
He promised, and he ran. The only issue was, he didn't make it by a large enough margin.
So he got another arrow, through the calves. Not immediately lethal, but it hurt. And worse of all, he didn't manage to spot whoever was shooting at him.
At this point, he started being cunning... and ran into a store.
"I need bandages!"
Since he was bleeding, the clerk behind the counter decided to gain a bit more.
"$5, mister!"
"Here, and you can have this note as well!"
As he was hoping, the Hunter switched to the clerk, and started sending the crossbow bolts in his hands and feet. Dimitri ran to find a Black Med.
Due to being better at orienting, he found one almost at the same time as the Hummingbird chick. She was impressed with him until he admitted he hasn't killed the Hunter, but passed the note. So she gave him a peck at the cheek, and ran away.
Later the story repeated itself, when he got in the Orphanage. A chick who was fancying him went to help him after his wound got worse - and she calmed him she didn't believe anything people were saying about him.
"Leaving the old man to his fate was just cautious! You might have spent us a war."
"Exactly my thoughts."
"Tell me, how did you run away from this Hunter? I hear he almost killed Orange (a red-head Orphan with round head, who doesn't like Dimitri-note Asen) and his friend Marcel when they went to investigate."
Well, Dimitri was at least honest. He told her how he had dealt with it, and got another peck at the cheek, before she left him, too.
He went back to sleep, figuring out it wasn't the worse option he had available.


And then there was a new PC as well. He's playing an Utopia child who combines anger management issues and military training, having prepared to protect the Utopian community...
BTW, his starting location was picked at random.
An Utopia child went to pick his armour and his sword from a Black Trader.
Granted, that's not the first thing most Utopians do in the city. But this one was special. His community had sent him away and gave him a monthly stipend.
"You have to save the life of someone, to make up for this, before you can submit for examination", his father had said after an anger-related incident. "Until then, you're no longer allowed here".
It was partially for this reason that he went to Manhattan. It was an inner city, and he had heard many people might need help and not get any there.
So, he donned his plate armour and went to see the city in which he had arrived a couple hours ago.
Let me repeat. He donned his armour and went to see the Skin Borgs territory while in it!
Yeah...
It was just a matter of time before he met two female Skin Borgs. They looked at him and, not recognising him, asked him whether he's trying to join.
"Join who?"
"Are you fucking with us?"
Nope, he wasn't fucking with them. Not that he would have minded... or maybe he would have, they didn't dwell on this topic. In short, they told him in no uncertain terms: Skin Borgs and people that want to join them are allowed Skins. Everybody else is advised not to display heavy Skins, like this one.
Actually, he was wondering. But when he heard the explanation "Skins are important, because we love them! They make us feel secure... (etc.)", his face hardened, and he thanked them for the tip.
And then he moved towards 145th street. There were some battles, so he passed through a small passage.
That is, he tried to. He was accosted by dirty, silent people in rags with long, almost animal claws.
(And he had no idea what Maulers even are).
So he kept them at a distance with his sword, until some sounds startled them, and they ran. He put the sword back in the sheath, and moved away.
Next thing we knew, he had approached a Black Med - yes, the same guy - and asked him for directions. The guy, mostly Hispanic-looking, pointed him to a place kept by a guy of mostly Indian descent.
Being well-educated, our Utopia Child pre-paid for the week, which gained him the good attitude of the owner. It was pretty impossible to gain the good attitude of the Sitting Oak, his nephew, who obviously had a genetic mod for size, or just weird genetic. Although that was less likely, with him being almost pure Native Indian, as far as could be determined from a casual observation. The guy, it turned out, was repairing the building as necessary, and acting as a bouncer. He was currently in the process of sharpening his tomahowk.
The PC prayed a lot (it's one of his quirks) and went to sleep.
In the night, he heard a crack, and got a visitation by a mixed group of a man with animal claws, a guy who looked like a nerd...except he was the one who had just kicked the door in, a guy with a cyber-eye and a subliminal truth analyser, and someone else who mostly kept silent.
"What are you doing here, Skin Borg?"
"What?"
"You're a Skin Borg."
"No I'm not!"
The guy turned to the man with the truth analyser.
"Is he telling the truth?"
"As far as he knows it."
Things went better from that moment on. At the end, they even left him $5 for the door. Then he asked them innocently.
"By the way, do you want to pray with me, to whatever you believe in?"
This lead to a mass facepalm - there wasn't a single religious person in that group - and they moved away. Our hero started the praying part of his routine early.
In the morning, he decided to gather some intelligence. Already being aware that his tourist data chip isn't up to date on gangs and stuff, he went up the highest building in the area, and climbed on the roof. From there, he took meticulous notes on the area - and Dragons territory got his attention just as he noticed the Roofers coming to him.
Of course, he had no idea that Roofers consider roofs their own "turf", and are territorial.
Luckily for him, the first couple of Roofers had a more restrained member, and he didn't like the sight of his sword.
Luckily for them, the guy managed to stop the other one from attacking our hero. He went down and headed towards the Dragons territory. There, he tried to get to a building that was rather aside from the rest of them, reasoning that rope bridges wouldn't be usable, and it's therefore not Roofers turf.
There was just one issue - it was an apartment building with Indies. That means they were rich enough to afford a door, locks, and a guard behind armoured glass. Of course, the guard wasn't really up for letting him in.
"Are you living here? Or do you have invitation?"
"Nope. I just want to get on the roof."
"Sorry, can't let you. Besides, why do you want to get the Roofers angry?"
In short, they talked about the Roofers, and the guard told him who are the Dragons. The Utopia Child wasn't really impressed, or not positively.
"And you're just letting them destroy buildings at whim?"
"Well, there's plenty unused buildings!"
"What do the local gangs think, then?"
"The Dragons are the local gang."
"Aren't they supposed to keep order?"
"I suspect the Dragons would argue they're reaffirming the natural order, or something. Never understood their ideas, myself. Apart from electrocuting people you dislike. That part is easy enough."
He had some Italian food and went back to his room to meditate for the day.

A Black Med's day
We already mentioned our Black Med. For OOC reasons, he didn't get much time outside of meeting the other PCs.
He heard a store clerk has been shot by a Hunter. The Night Shift at the scene showed him there have been 9 crossbow bolts involved, the last one through the skull. And they paid him a couple bucks for the expert opinion: was the guy even alive when he has been shot?
His expert opinion said that this was highly unlikely, and the bloodloss would have killed him without the last bolt, too. Whatever conclusions the officer had made about the Hunter, he has chosen not to share.


Glossary of Terms in the Fates Worse Than Death setting
Also: as stated at the beginning of this post, here are some terms.
It's the latest session of my campaign in the Fates Worse Than Death setting.
Colin is a self-replicating serial killer that "downloads" his mind in the mind of victims via technology, and "overwrites" their identity, replacing them. Math Addicts, Freaks, Humankalories, Hummingbirds and Orphans are gangs in 2080 Manhattan, and number in the hundreds, some in the thousands. Skin Borgs are an aggressive gang that's contained at 145th street. They're recognisable by, hold on to it, the fact that they wear very heavy armours (or high-tech armours that provide the same protection)!
Pusher gangs are the footsoldiers of the Drug lords, which have a monopoly on the drug market that they have wrested away from the gangs. Gangs are more like mutual protection societies, since they can't sell drugs, the city is monitored against importing guns, and the gang of Sexologists forbids pimps from working. These are, as we know, the three greatest sources of income for organised crime. For example, while the Day Shift is the corrupt part of the NYPD, the non-corrupt cops are practically acting like a gang in the setting, and are known as the Night Shift.
Also, many gang members are part of societies that fight the spread of Colin...while people elsewhere consider him an urban myth. But in the ghetto, there are people worshipping him/them as a god/gods (they're morons and suck, yes, if you ask me, but then nobody threatens them, because Colin might take offence). This makes Colin Hunters that much more useful.
Hope that helps.

Also, I need to remind you that there is a video tutorial for the setting if you're interested to learn more.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYoof0c9jao
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2Kj6V9rIH8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-gLwYaHOs0
As I said, FWTD is an involved setting.

Which makes it similar to all the other settings I like, namely Modern and Historical games, Eclipse Phase, Blue planet, Equinox, Glorantha, Exalted,  Legend (the one from Dragon Warriors and Bloodsword), Orb (from the gamebooks, yes, the game is still in development), Westeros (from ASoIaF), Dune, and I suspect I might soon add Aethos to that list.
None of these is reading-light, as you might have noticed. Not even my homebrews are reading-light. I've said it already on this blog, but that's probably my greatest strength as a GM, and my greatest weakness. I'm not planning to change either way.