State of the Table: Autumn 2011 Edition

It has been a late summer of transitions and the gaming reflects that.

My buddy, Pete moved out and that has rearranged the games I was in with him.

The O’Declan Brewing Company (Burning Wheel): If we pick this game up again, it’ll be when Pete is good and situated and me and Aaron find a night when we can head up north to get our games on.  From talking to Aaron, I have a feeling we might pick up something else; we might be able to get Aaron to GM something for me and Pete, which would be a hoot.

But I also really want to play a few more sessions with the O.B.C.  At the end of our last session, they paid a mercenary company to skulk into town and murder their enemies.  I want to play through the consequences of that, dammit.

The Hudson River Valley (Apocalypse World): This summer’s weekend scheduling made gaming with these folks all but impossible, so we haven’t gamed in months.  But we’re picking it up this Saturday.  I’m cooking up letters to the players that lead us into play five years after our last game.

Lights of Hoover:  Dammit, but I think this game is a fatal casualty of Pete moving out.  I’m not sure that any of us have the will to start it up without him here.

Cyberpunk Lunches: The half-hour format was rough but I think we were making it work.  A few weeks of consistent summer traveling put the kibosh on this one.  I’m beginning to think that Autumn and Spring are my gaming seasons.  Summer travels and the winter holidays tend to muss up gaming the other half of the year.

Lady Blackbird and then what?: Continuing with our house game tradition, we’re getting together with my housemates and a few friends to consider a Thursday night game.  Our first night will be Lady Blackbird and then we’ll figure it out from there.  I’m hungering for a campaign of Dogs in the Vineyard until I leave town but we’ll see…might be Dungeon World or somethin’ else.

The Surprising Ballad of Hal Whitewyrm:  I’m shocked at how much I am enjoying playing this play-by-post with Daniel.  During an online conversation about pbp someone had taught em the valuable lesson that the pace is glacial and they were right.  But there are advantages to that.  I can peruse books, character histories,  look over beliefs and take my sweet time.  That has been good fun and it has me writing regularly, which is a nice start for other things.

And medium of the game aside, Daniel has made this romantic, stuck-between-worlds character who has really charmed me.  Yeah, he is a fugitive from junior high daydreaming but there is passion in those daydreams and the burning up process has left its mark, veering it off from perfect reinventions.  I think that the restrictions of the lifepaths has helped and Daniel has embraced that, making the tough choices necessary to make this version of the character, rather than trying to hold on to an ideal version.  Burning Wheel demanded that he let some parts go and allowed him to accentuate other bits and its led to interesting choices.

And how about you?  How were your summer games and what is your autumn looking like?

Cyberpunk Lunch 1.1, 1.2: Snatch and Grab Job

Our first games of Technoir:

1.1 Snatch and Grab

For the first game, 1.0, we made up characters.  We’ve got

Ezekiel Starkweather a.k.a. Zeke, a linked-in reporter

Jane Roland, a.k.a. Scar, a veteran soldier courier

Captain Alexander Finch a.k.a. Finch, a helicopter pilot (“Doc Holiday but with a helicopter,” Aaron said).  Solid

I rolled for 3 items on my Plot Map.

I got two Connections and one Place:

  • Jasna Duke, Resevoir Director
  • Draga Zhang, Lawyer
  • Resevoir Fortress

Huh.  They bought stuff, used Connections and a few tidbits got added to the map but not much.

  • Brat, Veteran of Low Earth Orbit Wars

I was bummed that so much cool stuff didn’t end up on the page but okay, that’ll be for next time, I reckon.

I had ideas but those ideas were also inspired by stuff not yet on the map.  I told myself that I’d keep the idea to myself, see how the dice rolled.

Jasna Duke, rich and powerful reservoir director, can’t find his daughter and he wants this crew to track her down.  They’re hired by Draga, the jurisdiction lawyer, who works on retainer for Jasna and in this case, is just a people-who-knows-people.  Draga calls them in, explains the job and sets them on it.

First thing’s first, they want to talk to Jasna.  They circle the Reservoir in Finch’s helicopter and are given the landing clearance.  Zeke is a smart-ass, turns out he has a link to Jasna; he’s Jasna’s biographer.  They ask some questions about how the daughter hangs out with.  I roll on Duke’s table and get the Manhunt Squad.  “She hangs out with a gang of bounty hunters lately.”  Cool.

They asked about her cell phone and Jasna said it was off-line and I added or its been hacked to seem off-line.

Jim umped on that and has Zeke roll his Hack verb and added the Adjective: Traceable.

The crew tracked it to a club near D.C.’s hub, now buried by urban levels, nearly entirely underground.

The club was fairly well guarded but Aaron has Finch roll XXX to find a weak point in security.  They wait until a guard walks away from a door to help a musician with gear and they walk in the back door.

And there is Eve Duke, the Paris Hilton of the cyberpunk age.  She’s partying it up in the V.I.P. section of the club with a gang of bounty hunters.  But oddly, there’s Eve Duke, walking up the stairs towards the V.I.P. section, when a bouncer approaches her, she wrist-locks him and throws him down the stairs.

They decide to watch.  She pulls a gun and fixes a silencer to the barrel.

Scar tries to subdue Angry Eve but her roll ties.  Angry Eve pushes her aside, kicks a table over, puts Scared Eve against the wall and puts her gun to her head.

Finch decides to fire on the bounty hunters, driving them away.  Adjective: Running for cover (not really an adjective, so sue me)

Scars rolls again and this time puts a solid adjective on Angry Eve, Adjective: Unconscious

They zip-tie both of the ladies’ hands and feet and get to the helipad.  Police sirens are in the distance.

End of 1.1

1.2 WTF

A quick infra-red scan reveals that Angry Eve is in fact a synth.  Scared Eve is petulant and not talking.  Some things aren’t adding up.  Scared Eve has been texting with dad constantly over the past 24 hours and her phone isn’t the one they were given the tracking info on.  Angry Eve’s phone is the one they were given access to, the one they were told to find.

They consider throwing the synth into the ocean but decide against it.  “Plus, she might just swim her way home.”

They decide to head to Brat, a war veteran turned black market splicer to make ends meet.   Brat lets them know that Angry Eve is not just any Synth but a bleeding edge top-of-the-line synth, probably out of Hong Kong.  He has never seen her equal.  He’s also an Eve Duke fanboy and suggests that this is the reason she’s been long-rumored to be in two places at once.

They call Jasna and he’s an asshole, talking to them like he talks to any indentured servant on his payroll.  Here’s the thing: Finch is loyal to Jasna and doesn’t want to eff him over.  But they’ve grabbed two daughters and not just one, dammit and Jasna lied about the gig, knowing damned well they were in fact sending them after a dangerous synth.

“This was a measure taken to insure that my daughter was able to get an education and not fear being kidnapped.”


They decide to take Scared Eve back to dad and keep the Synth with them while they negotiate their pay.

End of 1.2

We’re playing in short half hour bursts, which is interesting.  The flow of dice is interesting.  There was a moment where I had enough push dice to make the roll a 7 but that seems like a Dick Move.

I didn’t have much from the initial Plot Map, so I added a few things in from the Master Table to spice things up.  The session didn’t seem to have legs until the second Eve showed up.

Technoir Transmission: The NE Sprawl (Master Table/Exposition)

It is the transmissions that really grabbed me from the Technoir playtest documents.  They are somewhere between Apocalypse World’s Threats/Fronts, a Fiasco Playset, the In a Wicked Age oracle and Shock: Social Science Fiction’s minutae.

I want to write a transmission for a space elevator city and naturally, I really want to do up a batch of linked Transmissions that make up the colonized solar system.  But first, this one needs some statting up and fleshing out in order to be fully playable; this is only the Master Table and the Exposition.  Once I have it complete, I will post it up here.


The technology that shapes the NE Sprawl is in its shipping and news publishing.  R.A.S’s (rigid air ships) take incoming cargo from sea-steadings in the Atlantic to skydocks throughout the sprawl, with drones orbiting them to fend off lightning.  News is published through uncounted ronin reporter feeds since the newspaper/network news collapse.  This has led to P.R. firms setting up fake feeds whose sole purpose is to transmit lies and propaganda on behalf of their high-paying clients.


When water was privatized, corporations set up quasi-medieval fiefs in order to protect their stockholders’ resources.  Beyond the coast, the Atlantic Ocean is dotted with sea-steadings, each a city-state onto itself, some ruled by corporate shipping interests, others self-governed as industrial cooperative pirate-havens.


New York City, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Albany, and Baltimore all reached out and became a single, cyclopean urban tumor.   The Sprawl has grown over old and dated political and geographical lines.  Because of a city that has outstripped the county, state and federal laws that once contained the cities cannot contain the crime within the sprawl.   Gated communities became walled townships and entire slums are off the grid or at best in areas with rolling brown-outs.


  1. Reporter
  2. Lawyer, jurisdiction law
  3. Parole Officer
  4. Reservoir Director
  5. Sea-Stedding Black Marketeer
  6. Low Earth Orbit Veteran


  1. Water Riots
  2. Visiting Brazilian Dignitary Assassinated
  3. Shipping Strike
  4. Elections heating up
  5. Low Earth Orbit War ends, veterans to return home.
  6. Underground newsfeed leaks police scandal.


  1. Desperate local sheriff department
  2. Reservoir Trust Company
  3. Sprawl Directorship
  4. Sky-loaders’ Union
  5. Cuban/Southern/Serbian mob
  6. Media Ronin


  1. Reservoir Fortress
  2. Travel Nexus Tower
  3. Sea-stedding
  4. Manhattan Walled Community
  5. 5 Cities Museum
  6. Subway Tenement


  1. Data strip with 1000 credit card numbers
  2. Weapon from high profile murder
  3. Blackmail info for CEO
  4. Prison password keys
  5. Synth, in cryo, with highest turing score to date
  6. Zero-G regenerative system


  1. Manhunt Squad
  2. Intercept Gang
  3. Smear P.R. Firm
  4. Elite Heist Crew
  5. Sprawl Major Crimes Unit
  6. Corporate Bodyguard Team

NOTE: And if this looks at all interesting, here’s the kickstarter link.

Mars and more designs at the shop…

Cyberpunk 2020: Trauma Team

“Activated Trauma Team Insurance Cards show up on the holographic map of the Northeast Sprawl.  Johnny Silverhand is over-dosing in his penthouse.  An as-yet-unidentified insurance card-holder is bleeding out downtown, pinned down by some of Morgan Blackhand’s merc buddies.  Meanwhile, an Arasaka upper-middle-manager is having a minor heart attack, no big deal but he’s asking for help taking his shot of nano-stent as he nor his concubine can find any usable veins.  The heart-attack suit is a double-black card holder, so he moves to the top of the queue.  Let’s move, Trauma Team.”

From this SG thread:

The part I remember is the insurance you could buy. The highest-end insurance meant that an armored hover-bulance would find you and get you the fuck outta dodge and to the ER for where the finest trauma surgeons awaited.

Shit, I wanted a game about the ambulance teams, fuck everything else. Shit, I still want that game. Maybe with lego-made hover-bulances and city-scapes, med evac-ing asshole rock-stars who are in the middle of a domestic and/or corporate CEO’s who are being targeted for a high end assassination when they punch their insurance card.

Might have to play that concept with Technoir (kickstarter, playtest doc, SG thread), write up a Transmission for the Northeast Sprawl, the U.S. mega-city that has occurred as New York City, Albany, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore and Washington D.C. have merged into one pulsing urban tumor.

I wouldn’t want Trauma Team Inc. to be this neat and tidy employer but the business to have been bought out and is being sold in pieces hither and yon.  The team has to decide to stick with their shift-mates and maybe buy-out their ambulance-ship or make their own way.

I really like the character concepts this could bring to the table.  Former military medics, armed-to-the-teeth-security-guards, a daredevil pilot and so on.  Working stiff mercenary EMT’s doing their best with a bad situation, with a medical system that is beyond broken, in a flying medical support vehicle that can save most any life and stop any bullet if its in the right place at the right time.

That said, I still want to build the ambulance-ship out of lego’s and I’d want some city-morph tiles with which to make up places where the trauma goes down.