My Games

Friday, September 30, 2022

Stop!! Hibari-Kun! Not-Review

 

I saw this anime (originally a manga but I watched the anime) recommended on a tiktok (unfortunately can't remember where specifically anymore). I'm not gonna lie, I went in with low expectations, expecting it to be a slog to get through at the very least, or extremely offensive at the worst, but I was actually pleasantly surprised on both counts. It certainly is of a time and place, but all things considered I thought it handled the issues surprisingly well (obviously I am hardly an authority on the matter though so take what I say with a grain of salt), but more importantly, it was just a really fun and enjoyable show, I liked it so much I ended up practically binging it.

So I've buried the lede, but Stop!! Hibari-Kun! is a 1980's animated sitcom about a "cross-dressing boy" (although in most regard she really seems to be transgender and I will use she/her pronouns), her yakuza family, and a boy, a friend of the family, who is living with them.

While many episodes do involve Hibari's gender at least in some way (much less so as the show goes on), Hibari herself is basically always in control of the situation, never in any real danger, always comes out on top, and it always feels like the audience is expected to be on her side- to the point that she will often wink and stick her tongue out to the audience in fourth wall breaking assurance. It has almost a Looney Tunes / Bugs Bunny kind of logic to it.

Her family largely doesn't understand her identity in critical ways and I can very much imagine that would be triggering for people, yet at the same time, despite being this traditionalist yakuza family obsessed with conventional masculinity, they ultimately are mostly accepting of her when it counts, on the occasions where they're kinda shitty to her it's usually about something else, and her grace in the matters feels more like a strength of her character than an implicit acceptance of those characters. There are subtle things, like how her youngest sister and one of the yakuza underbosses will refer to her with she/her pronouns and call her Hibari-chan instead of -kun. There is one episode where Hibari has a really sweet moment with her dad where he is more explicitly accepting of her and they bond; little nice things like that. Similarly, whenever characters treat Hibari poorly due to her gender identity, they are always painted as the butt of the joke or being in the wrong in the situation. Also, there are plenty of episodes, especially as it goes on, that have little to nothing to do with Hibari or her gender and are good on their own terms.


As for the situation of the sitcom; there's Hibari, her yakuza father, her three sisters (two older, one younger), and Kosaku who is Hibari's age, the friend of the family who is living with them because his mom died, and then various ancillary characters like school friends, bullies/rivals, yakuza henchmen, etc. Only her family, Kosaku, and the yakuza know that she is a "cross-dresser", at school she identifies as a girl and in fact she's the most popular girl in school. There are sometimes plotlines where her identity is threatened to be exposed, and I think it's handled about as well as could be hoped for what is not an ideal plot pivot point from a modern perspective, but ya at least imo it seemed to be mostly handled well. Also, that becomes much less focal as the show goes on.

Episodes often involve episodic or slightly-serialized romcom triangles or quadrangles, typical teen sitcom type stuff. There's a bit of a will they / won't they with Hibari and Kosaku. His inability to confront his own ideas about gender and sexuality, again, could be triggering, but I think the show does a good job of framing things in such a way that the audience is not meant to sympathize with his "struggle".

The later episodes are not quite as good, at a certain point they kinda jump the shark, and over time it becomes less focused on interesting character drama and more on wacky hijinks alone which fell a little flat for me. I do appreciate though that many episodes are focused more on the side characters than Hibari or Kosaku, and some of the best episodes are not really about them.

In typical not-review fashion I'm not explaining this show well, but I just find it really fun and delightful. Hibari is a strong character, she's funny, she has that larger than life cartoon logic to her; even the situation aside it's genuinely a fun show, and I also hope people find the character to be a powerful and suitable symbol and don't find it offensive or hurtful, or can enjoy it independent of that, just for what it is, a fun show.



Friday, September 23, 2022

MRD Vol.2 PR 7: MRD is Sacrifice

After some discussion on my server, I've decided going forward to refer to what was previously being called Maximum Recursion Depth 2 (MRD2) as MRD Vol. 2. I've updated the labels on previous posts but the text and titles have been left unchanged for now. I will definitely screw this up and occasionally refer to it as MRD2 still but oh well. MRD Vol. 2 takes place in the same setting and is mostly cross-compatible with MRD Vol. 1 and I had intended it to be like an ongoing "zine", or almost like an ever expanding superhero comic book universe, but calling it MRD2 gave the impression it was like a new version of the game altogether, which is definitely not the case. Let me know what you think of this.


Current Index
Play Reports

Some other posts for context


Color Codes:
Design Notes


THE CAMPAIGN

The Corporation
RegeXperience: “Live for the RegeXperience”. Childishly edgy experimental entertainment and defense company that doesn’t want the world to know what’s really behind their algorithm. EXPERIENCE, ALGORITHM, ENTERTAINMENT

The Manager
Baz Beetz: Infectiously enthusiastic “artiste” and true believer in the company mission who is as profound as nonsensical.

The Cyblessed Liaison
“Tastes like eating out the ass-end of human progress.”: Like a cheap flaccid little candle dripping wax down an otherwise glorious cake wearing a tacky suit reminiscent of a 1980’s faux-wood-paneled station wagon.

The Issue
The Team must survive on Neo Siberia Bead, overtaken by the angelic Ophan bio-engineered slime molds, Smiling Boy Cultists, and famine. Not only must they survive, but they must hatch an escape plan within a month, before the Solar Scorch immolates the entire Tomino's Array (and lasers Washington DC into oblivion...)

The Team

Ben: Larry
Nazarite Contract: Fast Lane Fintechnomancer
Larry's past life was one of public mission in conscious contrarianism to his peers partying with the money of their employers. The brief accolades received from new acquaintances never quite made up for the lack of money and freedom. When he'd ask what others were doing to make the world a better place, they'd stare as if they had never considered the question before. What's the point of caring if no one else does?

Lukas: Ikarus
Nazarite Contract: Infrared Ranger
Was an heir to a crime family but betrayed them when his conscience caught up to him. In need of structure and a sense of justice, but without any good frame of reference and few other options, he shortly thereafter accepted the Nazarite Contract with The Corporation.

Huffa: Ernst
Nazarite Contract: Psychonautical Sub-Mariner
Golem: Forgetting Pile - An oozey amorphous Golem collective made of empowered trash and detritus.
An old man who trawls through the unconscious sea gathering the things people forget from their dreams. Sometimes its material that The Corporation deems useful.

Where we left off...
The Team have been trapped inside the bio-engineered Ophan slime mold-infested Neo Siberia Bead of Tomino's Array, the former Space Settlement of the Ziegler Family, the most powerful faction of the spacenoids. They've held out for roughly a month, building a domicile and maintaining the life support systems, but soon they must break out, or else the entire Array will burn to a crisp channeling solar energy firing at Washington DC.


Salvation!
The Smiling Boy Cultists have created a human-ophan hybrid and celebrate their salvation. Its body is twisted in an Oroboros wheel shape, a pink fire in the center, and numerous pairs of phoenix wings sprouting from the core. It speaks gibberish gurgled through slime in grotesque smacking sounds and wet farts. A disgusting, pitiful thing, transcendentally alluring.

Simultaneously, a tear in reality forms along the inside of the ceiling of the Neo Siberia Bead.


Mother at the Gate
Smooth, featureless humanoid abstraction; an over-large face of holographic planes of two eyes and a mouth, sloppily desperately pressing against the edge of reality-the gate, wanting. Mother at the Gate weeps silently.

The holograms subliminally flash the words SPACE, TIME, and CONSCIOUSNESS, and project the message that a sacrifice must be made in the name of each before the end of the phase.

SPACE is [] and SACRIFICE
TIME is [] and SACRIFICE
CONSCIOUSNESS is [] and SACRIFICE

Is, And, But, Not, All, None

Here, Now, Then, There, Alone, Together

SARAI, HOGARTH, ESME, THELEAPINGLORENZINO, CAPTAINCOBRA, DOUGHBOY, CYRILZIEGLER, ABE, ISAAC, LARRY, IKARUS, ERNST, FREDDYMERCURY, ASHMCCLAREN, BAZBEETZ

The SACRIFICEs must consent, but can be coerced or misled.

The SACRIFICEs must mean something. What would “CONSCIOUSNESS is FREDDYMERCURY and SACRIFICE but not here” or “SPACE is THELEAPINGLORENZINO all together then and SACRIFICE” mean?

The idea here was for it to be like the videogame Baba is You, but more loose and abstract, it would be too complicated and distracting to make them full-on puzzles like the videogame. It seemed like a logical extension of Concept Crafting in MRD Vol. 2, and the usage of Words as a core part of the gameplay. I had conceived of this "sacrifice" scenario before having the idea to make it like Baba is You sentences, which was itself very last minute. The scenario turned out fine, but I need to think more about specifically how I want this Baba is You mechanic to work.

The SBC are marching in a vector towards Mother at the Gate. The scene is like any cult confronting what they've been told is their salvation, reveling in awe of nothing.

The Team engage with the SBC amicably, learning that Abe has sacrificed his and Sarai's son Isaac to create the human-Ophan Isaac hybrid, Sarai seemingly resents existence and lives almost entirely in the Zoetrope Superhighway via her Virtual Boy VR headset, Hogarth is jealous of Sarai and wants to be closer to Abe, and Esme is jealous of Isaac's significance to Abe and the SBC.

Summoning their Golem and using their various Gear and Nazarite Features, they toss a supernaturally augmented child's skeleton, that of Isaac which they recovered at the end of the previous session, and manipulate the crowd to convince Abe to sacrifice himself, after which the rest of the family are in turn pressured or convinced to sacrifice themselves:

CONSCIOUSNESS IS NOT ABE ALONE NOW AND SACRIFICE

TIME IS TOGETHER NOW HOGARTH AND SACRIFICE

SPACE IS ESME TOGETHER THERE AND SACRIFICE

After which the Bead ruptures, and the SBC mysteriously phase away. Captain Cobra had hoped to rescue some of the cultists who had once been regular citizens of the space settlement and were victims of circumstance, and it is later confirmed that some of the phased SBC reappeared among the space flotilla of the Pirates of Perversity.


Confronting the Amalekite Fleet
While Captain Cobra returns to the Pirates and they hack the Array to stop the Solar Scorch, The Team (with Cyril Ziegler) are confronted by the Amalekite Fleet.

Enthalpy Olam Ha Ba (Amalekite Fleet Commander) raises a portrait videocomm with The Team, threatening them for approaching the Fleet. A necrotic Hamsa hand clutches and obscures their face, revealing only their corpse-like bulging eyes and purple pallor. The Hamsa's "evil eye" is like a holographic tattoo, and fractal, like countless eyes within eyes.
Their voice sounds transduced and lossy, with a "shhh" noise coming through the wire, and with uncannily improper inflection like modern AI generated speech. They fire what at first appears to be a missile towards The Team, but is actually the Ark of Lailah of the First Cry and Final Word. Meanwhile, Hamsa hand orbital strike pods descend towards the Earth; the Amalekites planting spies and saboteurs throughout the world.

The Team are given the option whether to pursue the Hamsa Strike Pods before they fall out of scan range, or defeat Lailah while the Pirates of Perversity stop the Solar Scorch, and they choose the latter.


Lailah of the First Cry and Final Word: Eldritch kaiju beastwoman in a translucent tube. Her chest is torn open and instruments pump air and fluids in the heart and lungs which pulse against the surface of the tube as if trying in vain to escape. The exposed head, not quite human nor beast, chokes and breathes in eerie, dissonant whistles like the violin strings of a horror movie score, and not quite human nor beast blood-curdling shrieks.

Uses Full Quiver Quivering at the beginning of Conflict and defeating the angels destroys the Gear, meanwhile each turn it will use Star Coo. After Full Quiver Quivering is destroyed, it will use Ribbon Strike Proboscis.

Uses each of the other Gear once each turn until destroyed.

Star Coo (PANIC + ALLURE)
A sound like bleating, nails on a chalkboard, sensual whispers, and reminiscent humming. Next action must apply a Star Coo negative mod.
  1. PANIC (Wd6)
  2. WORSHIP (Wd6)
  3. SUBMISSION (Pd6)
  4. PAIN (Nd6)
  5. OBSESSION (Pd6)
  6. TRAUMA (Nd6)
Full Quiver Quivering (BABY + NIGHT)
Swirls of spacetime vibrating softly until activated, like little eyeballs of starlight. Nervous creatures born with violent purpose.
Summons 3 angels, each with a driving need. They home in on enemies until their need is met. Defeating an angel provides its need as a mod. SUSTENANCE (Serpent tongue, oily wings, Nd6), LAUGHTER (goat horns, hyena maw, Pd6), PATIENCE (cockroach thorax, elephant trunk, Wd6).

Ribbon Strike Proboscis ((ENERGY + OUBLIETTE) + LIGHTNING)
Projects like lightning, a tree fractal of lung, an energy vortex trapping its prey inside and sucking the life out of them, exposing traumas. Breaking the mod makes it acquirable.
Each turn drains oxygen (Nd6) and induces hallucinations (Wd6).
The lung branches crack through your Golem, down your mouth… While doing so, the proboscis is vulnerable:
Insurgent Seed: Dropping a seed inside you, which will fight for survival against your Wyrm Shamir symbiont. Now or in the near future, some major change or conflict will challenge your Nazarite Vow.
Lost Breath (KAO): Stealing your breath, taking your voice and replacing it with another. When you speak, rather than carbon exhalation, you release an inhuman sound or visible substance. To find your literal voice, you must find your figurative voice as well.
  • Rejecting the KAO takes an additional Wd6 per turn, or Enhanced WIS Damage once to be permanently immune.
Karma Vampire: It steals something from one of your Karmic Attachments, changing its nature and replacing it with something fabricated and hollow.

I did not have the time or energy to draft this up until nearly a week after the fact so I've forgotten a lot of the particulars unfortunately, but it went really well. I've foregone HP or attack/damage rolls altogether for Golem conflict; instead the PCs must disable the opponents' Gear. In this case Lailah's Gear deal Damage to the PCs' Golems automatically per turn or reactively (as a consequence of the PCs' actions), and probably I'll design things similarly going forward because I was happy with how this went, it just made things way smoother and the Players could focus solely on the problem solving aspects of disabling the Gears vs. any mechanical stuff.

Ikarus took the Karma Vampire effect from Ribbon Strike Proboscis, altering their Karmic Attachment with IQ Warburton III aka The Cofounder in ways which will be explored in the future.

Ernst took the Insurgent Seed, relating it to their Nazarite Vow:
Among the ruins you have found a treasure, and you must cherish and protect it from a world that will never love it as much as you do.
Where the treasure is an already chewed ball of bubblegum, the implications of which have not yet been explored.

Larry took the Lost Breath Karmic Attachment, and now coughs blood and bile when speaking, not unlike their Lycaon Strain Golem itself.

After defeating Lailah, the Amalekite Fleet finishes its Hamsa Strike Pod drops and flies off, and the Pirates of Perversity stop the Solar Scorch just in time to save Washington DC (but Tomino's Array has been burnt out from the inside out).

Back at HQ
For saving Washington DC, the Team receive the Mods VICTORY, GOVERNMENT, and PROMOTION, in addition to what they salvaged off of Lailah.

They also learn that the Ziegler Family, now located on Anno's Array, have created an alliance between the spacenoids and the Amalekites and have declared war against Earth.

They were offered the following Issues to explore:
  • Track down the Amalekite spies throughout the world.
  • A cosmically significant being known as The Celestial Predator is heading towards Anno’s Array. Despite the war, The Celestial Predator must be dealt with or else it could lead to the extinction of all mankind, Earther, Spacenoid, and Amalekite alike.
  •  Eden-Cheney Processing has acquired the rights to the Teagen Tenderloin Kaiju carcass (from all the way back in the first few sessions...), which may inadvertently expose corporate intel, as a Tempeh Toon for which RegeXperience owns the license. Meet with Freddy Mercury at their Napa facilities.
  • While not an Issue per se, The Team may choose to make a formal complaint to HR about the Cyblessed Poachers, Cyblessed who were hunting humans for sport in the Neo Siberia Bead, or in some other way attempt to address this situation.

Unlike at the beginning of the Campaign, the Team now have The Upstartups as well as The Corporate Alliance. As GM I gave them fiat that unless I say otherwise, it can be assumed that however they want to delegate the tasks as Players will work out, but that does not preclude the possibility of betrayal or acts of self interest. With that in mind, and so I can effectively prep before next session, they chose to take on the Issue of tracking down the Amalekite spies, while still filing the HR complaint (but not prioritizing it as their main Issue), delegating the deal with Eden-Cheney Processing and the Teagen Tenderloin Kaiju carcass to the Upstartups, and delegating covertly investigating The Celestial Predator on Anno's Array to the Corporate Alliance.

There are a lot of moving parts in this Campaign at this point, and I asked the Players at the end of session if they'd like to start seeing closure on certain things or if they were content with how things were developing, and they said the latter. Even so, probably for my own sake some of these threads should start getting tied up, but we'll see!

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Weird Senses

Shoutout to SemiurgeBugbear Slug, and Harris for suggestions! Several of these are my interpretations of some of their suggestions, we had a lot of intersecting ideas, there's way more one could do with this concept than is fully explored here for sure. They had several more suggestions that I didn't think fit with what I was doing here, but were still really cool in their own right, so hopefully they will do their own versions of this too. Here I focus more on the senses per se than the sense organs, but they had great suggestions that had more to do with form and in a few cases I couldn't resist, but another table could lean more so into that.

As with Weird & Non-Violent Superpowers, I had intended to write 50, but coincidentally ran out of steam again at 21, so maybe I'll just start making that a thing.

  1. Broadband Electromagnetic Vision: Micro, radio, infrared, ultraviolet, etc.
  2. Anti-Pattern Awareness: Acute awareness of irregular processes.
  3. Subjective Time Differential: Intuit the difference in the relative experience of time between two or more individuals such as due to traumatic stress, fun, boredom, etc.
  4. Inflammasome: High-resolution conscious awareness of inflammasomes, microbiomes, pathogens, and DAMPs.
  5. Infra/Ultra-Sonic Hearing: Hear low- or high-frequency soundwaves.
  6. Empathy: Advanced awareness of emotional states.
  7. Hyperspatiality: Perceive higher dimensions.
  8. Multiversity: Awareness of other selves across the multiverse.
  9. Simulation: Maintain full conscious awareness of one or potentially more imagined spaces, or simulations, and mentally move through and perceive them as if real.
  10. Mutagenic Digestion: A gooey pouch-like organ. When a sufficient mass of sensory organ of another species is placed inside and digested, it temporarily takes on that organ's form and function.
  11. Will: Awareness of the will to live of those in the vicinity.
  12. Reflection Tracing: Perceive the source of a reflected signal like light or sound, or anything along its path.
  13. Smooth Time: Experience the flow of time not as single moments, but as the rolling average of ~6s of normal time, like lotion moisturizing consciousness indulgently.
  14. Infomatica: Perception of the coalescence or collapse of information i.e. enthalpy and entropy, in all its forms.
  15. Beyond the Cave Awareness: Awareness of the Platonic Form, Prototype, or most Exemplar of any thing.
  16. Genopathic Chemoception: Chemocept the genetic or evolutionary history of organisms via something like taste.
  17. Cherubic Pressure: Sense love density as a kind of pressure. Passion and lust acute like pain, attachment and contentment firm yet dull, like a squeeze on the shoulder.
  18. Econometric Temperature: Sense the exchange of money and goods or services like wispy phosphenes in the periphery and broad market trends like storms and bolts of lightning.
  19. Super-self Awareness: Recognition of the self as part of one or more super organisms, the ability to mentally graph the network like a map, and sense one's place in the map, like if a cell in your body could in part commune with you.
  20. Morpho-Lucidity: Perceive nearby dreams as if they were real (be careful not to lose track of what's real and what's a dream...).
  21. Anthropocene: Awareness of social constructs, legalism, taboos, and other epiphenomena of human civilization; like seeing the source code of the matrix or the fine print of a contract or the view from a CEO's corner office on the top floor of a skyscraper.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Weird and Non-Violent Superpowers

I was really happy with my previous Superpowers 2.0 Weird & Wonderful Table (and from there I link some older tables), but I'm also really interested in Non-Violent Encounter Design which is a emphasized in my game Maximum Recursion Depth, so I wanted to try conceiving of superpowers that are dynamic and interesting, but not strictly violent in utility or nature. So, rather than generic "telepathy" or "mind control", it might be "knows when a lie is told". It's ok if the powers could theoretically be used violently, but they should be interesting in non-violent ways. Redlight from the Superpowers 2.0 table would also be good for this table but I'll do new ones. It wouldn't surprise me if I accidentally recreate some powers I've written before but will try to avoid doing that.

Was gonna do 50 but then lost my momentum, so here are 21.

  1. Babylon: Understand all languages, and also understand the nature of semantics, syntax, and pragmatics.
  2. Martian Tonic: Secretes a vapor that evokes a panic response in anyone who tries to lie in their presence.
  3. Pre-Tort: Immediate and flawless knowledge of all laws and legal precedents in a location; supernatural ability to identify, defend against, and exploit legal loopholes and fine-print.
  4. Psy-cartography: Real-Time high-resolution mental map (not "live-footage", still symbolic) of any city-sized area that reveals itself as an area is explored for the first time, and can be accessed at any time.
  5. Lockpick: Pick any mechanical, electronic, chemical, etc. lock and encrypt any code, without conscious knowledge of the key, lock mechanism, decryption key, algorithm, etc.
  6. Atomic Schedule: So long as an event was feasible at the time of adding it to the schedule, can never be late for any scheduled event, nor be required to leave early, nor be the cause of rescheduling. The universe itself will conform to make the schedule work.
  7. Raw Power: Fully power any object car-sized or smaller effortlessly (including themself), whether the object requires food and water, gasoline, electricity, etc. Can power larger objects to varying degrees with effort.
  8. Finders Keepers: Lost items softly glow in their presence, and if taken, gently compel them towards the original owner.
  9. Tag: Any person or object tagged can be tracked via a tag sense for up to 24 hours. Only one thing may be tagged at a time and tagging something new replaces the previous tag.
  10. Rhetoric: Supernaturally persuasive at argumentation, so long as the argument had any realistic chance of convincing in the first place. The power is in the argument, not a kind of mind manipulation per se.
  11. Vuvuzela: Produce the sound of a vuvuzela that cannot be dampened even in a vacuum, nor magnified. Exceedingly annoying.
  12. Matryoshka: Dismantling any object (without breaking it) yields a smaller but otherwise perfect replica of the original thing. Replicas can be further deconstructed, but a deconstructed object reconstructed cannot again be replicated.
  13. Blame: If anyone else could conceivably have committed an act for which they would otherwise be the most likely perpetrator, any of those others will be suspected before them, especially if they point towards one other person or group specifically.
  14. Forget-Me-***: Immediately forgotten when not in the presence of others, and immediately remembered when back in their presence.
  15. Super-Synesthesia: Sense-responses mapped to other sense responses (like colors having a smell, or concepts having a tune, etc.) as with regular synesthesia, except the stimulus evokes the response even when it can't be perceived; e.g. even if blindfolded, someone wearing a yellow shirt would still smell yellow.
  16. Hypno-Boar: Supernaturally boring. Not literally hypnotic nor sleep inducing, but one might be surprised with what they can get away with saying or doing in plain sight, or just behind the scene...
  17. Treefall: Silent, so long as nobody is listening.
  18. Hierarchy: Fill any power vacuum unquestioned. Maintaining the power structure is another matter...
  19. Sponsor: Any one person at a time besides themself cannot be impeded from trying to better themself, so long as it is not intentionally at anyone else's expense.
  20. Naptime: Any consenting individuals in the vicinity may immediately enter a restful, healthy, and otherwise natural sleep.
  21. Becko-neko: Summons a needy golden cat randomly at inopportune moments. Heeding the beckoning cat provides a magic gold coin redeemable for any experience which the spender would otherwise deem too luxurious.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Tunnels & Trolls: Maximum Hack Pt. 2, Character Types and Talents

As I explained in the first post, this is an old draft I finally decided to publish. Apparently I never completed it, but it is what it is.

This is a continuation of TNT: Max, my heavily-modified hack of TNT (that may or may not get re-branded if I think it's sufficiently different from TNT proper). In the first post I talk about character creation and abilities, which I think maintain the spirit of TNT, while being more streamlined. Here I'll talk about Character Types and Talents.

Character Types

Warrior
The Warrior is virtually identical to TNT Deluxe.
  • +1d6 combat dice per level (unarmed or melee weapon).
  • Can double the damage reduction of armor but increase chance of it breaking (Roll SR LK for Wear & Tear).
    • SR starts at 1, on each fail, increase subsequent Wear & Tear SR level by 1 and decrease damage reduction of armor by 1, until it no longer provides any more protection.
  • No Magic

Rogue
I am not a fan of the TNT Deluxe Rogue. It seems to suffer from the "generalist" problem; it can do everything mildly well, but nothing exceptionally well, which is just not satisfying. I attempt to ameliorate that with this version of the Rogue. This version doubles-down on being a "skill monkey". Since I intend to heavily emphasize talents in this system as compared to TNT Deluxe, this will hopefully make Rogues much more useful.
  • Start with one Level 1 spell and one extra Talent.
  • Gain a number of spells each level with a total spell level up to their Rogue Level.
    • E.g. A level three Rogue can learn three level 1 spells, or one level 2 spell and one level 1 spell.
  • Once per day, can roll a LK SR in place of another SR at one level higher than the SR it's replacing.

Wizard
Other than gaining spells per level in addition to being able to learn spells by other means, wizards in TNT Max are basically the same as TNT Deluxe.
  • Start with all first-level spells.
  • Spells cost Wizard Level – Spell Level less PRE to cast (e.g. for a level 2 wizard casting a level 1 spell, the spell costs 2-1=1 less PRE).
  • When casting with a focus (staff, wand, amulet, etc.) subtract Wizard Level from PRE cost (e.g. a level 2 wizard with a focus spends 2 fewer PRE to cast a spell).
  • Only apply Combat Adds to Light Weapons.

Special Types

This includes Multi-Typing, Subtypes, Specialists, and other unique cases.

Multi-Typing
A character may choose to take the benefits of a different type. In other words, at Level 2, a Warrior may choose to take a level as a Rogue, meaning they would be considered a Level 1 Warrior and a Level 1 Rogue. It would not be practical to multi-type with Warrior and Wizard since they have certain mutually exclusive abilities (as a Warrior, you can't cast magic; as a Wizard, you can only apply Combat Adds to Light Weapons). In such a case, it may be better to make a subtype.

Subtypes
While it's fun to come up with new Character Types, sometimes it's more practical just to tweak a pre-existing Character Type. It's a good template to easily hack in your own Character Types without too much worry about balance or playtesting. I posted a few TNT Character Sybtypes that could be tweaked for this system pretty easily. In particular, if you want a completely non-magical Rogue, you can use the Ace; give them an additional talent instead of a spell at level 1, and they can add their Ace level to SRs when applying a talent in addition to the normal talent bonus.

Specialists
I have somewhat mixed feelings about including this feature from TNT Deluxe, but you certainly don't have to use it. If you rolled triplets on an attribute during character creation (put one or more asterisks by the attribute), they are considered "Specialists". You may want to tweak it depending on your setting, but I would say this should grant them something like a talent, or level 1 spell-like ability, as the result of a mutation or some other non-mundane means. It should be something that feels cool, but doesn't make them uber-powerful compared to the rest of the party.

Talents

Unfinished 🙃

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Tunnels & Trolls: Maximum Hack Pt. 1, Character Creation and Attributes

This is a super old draft from like 2019. I kinda stopped with TNT after I had an off-putting interaction with one of the TNT devs (won't say which one, and will say explicitly it was nothing terrible, more just a difference of opinion?) and also because my Aquarian Dawn TNT Campaign got killed by covid (or maybe it had gotten disrupted by work, I don't remember anymore).

Anyway, I haven't been up for writing lately but wanted to post something, so I'm digging this out, make what you will of it. There's a part 2, I forget if that's sufficient or if I had left it in an incomplete state, but I'll post part 2 eventually as well.

design notes in this color

Tunnels & Trolls: Maximum

Or, 

The GLOG of TNT


I've been playing TNT for a little while now and really love the system. Here were my initial thoughts when I first started getting into it. This is my attempt to create a new version of the game, one that streamlines things and makes some heavy modifications, but is still true to what TNT is; in the spirit of DIY efforts towards old-school D&D from the OSR movement, and in particular GLOG. Even though I actually have very little experience playing GLOG, one thing that I like about it, is its emphasis on streamlining DIY and customization, and I hope this hack for TNT ends up working in a similar regard. While this hack does change the core game, it should be mostly backwards compatible with other versions of TNT, with a little bit of adjustment. It is probably presumptuous of me to assume this hack could have the same impact for TNT as GLOG has had for OSR, but that's the goal. I should also say that at this stage this hack is mostly untested, except for the pieces of retroactively integrated into my current campaign, but TNT is a simple enough system that I feel reasonably comfortable with the changes I've made to the system.

One additional note: I may decide to "rebrand" this entirely, removing TNT-specific terminology and making it effectively its own game, since TNT doesn't have a proper OGL or equivalent. My understanding is that the TNT people are pretty reasonable, but if I take this far enough, I'd like to actually have ownership of it, and I think the end product will likely be distinct enough to justify it. But at least for now I will continue to refer to it as a TNT hack.

I've been appreciating following Jones Smith's Fiction First system unfold at wasitlikely, so I've decided to break this hack up into several posts as well, and then I'll collate it all at the end. This makes it more manageable, and it also allows for me to adjust things based on any feedback.

Another note, I will likely continue to make new Character Types and Hacks for TNT Deluxe as I've been doing, but when possible, I will try to include versions for TNT Max as well, and also to make TNT Max versions of other Character Types I've already posted.

Character Creation

Roll 3d6 six times, drop the lowest two, and assign the values to the attributes Physique (PHY), Finesse (FIN), Presence (PRE), and Luck (LCK). You can be less generous at your table if you'd prefer, but I like to be nice.

If you roll triple values on any one of those 3d6 rolls, roll 3d6 again and take the total as a single value, and put a * next to that attribute for every triplet.

Either before or after attribute rolls, choose or roll randomly for a Character Type and apply any starting abilities.

Take an equipment package or some starting amount of gold (250 for instance).

Take three talents.
I've reduced the attributes for simplicity and out of personal preference. I'll explain my reasoning for these attributes next. Otherwise, this is mostly similar to standard TNT. I increased the number of talents because I think talents are a nice, light, flexible way to give characters special abilities, and talents will also effectively replace kindreds. I realize kindreds (race in D&D) is something many people like about the game, but I don't think it works as well with the decreased number of attributes since it's based on mulitplicative modifiers and how they affect combat adds. Even with D&D I prefer a race-as-flavor or race-as-class approach. However, if you want special kindred abilities, talents can be used in that regard (as discussed in a later post).

Attributes

Physique (PHY): This attribute reflects physical abilities, such as the ability to inflict physical harm, fighting skill, weight-lifting / encumbrance (if you're so inclined), physical durability, fortitude, etc.
  • Use for PHY SRs.
  • Add each point above 12 to damage total as Combat Adds.
  • PHY also reflects the maximum amount of damage you can take before being incapacitated.
Finesse (FIN): This attribute reflects dexterity, flexibility, acrobatics, speed, agility, defensive maneuvers, hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, etc. 
  • Use for FIN SRs.
  • Add each point above 12 to damage total as Combat Adds.
  • Use for missile attacks and finesse attack SRs.
Presence (PRE): This attribute reflects certain ephemeral aspects of a person; their force of will, magical abilities, ability to draw an audience, etc.
  • Use for PRE SRs.
  • Certain spells have a PRE minimum in order to be cast.
  • PRE also reflects maximum mana for spellcasting.
Luck (LK): This attribute reflects luck as an actual force of nature in the universe, but also gets used as a catch-all for things that might not fit neatly into the other attributes, such as item durability (Wear & Tear). In certain cases it is also used to defend against the effects of magic; primarily curses or magic which affects fates and destinies.
  • Use for LK SRs.
  • Add each point above 12 to damage total as Combat Adds.
  • Use for Wear & Tear SRs.
Attributes are where this hack most differ from core TNT. I prefer to have a few, very broad, very archetypal attributes. TNT Deluxe attributes aren't bad, and I can understand why somebody might want to keep Strength and Consitution or Intelligence and Wizardry separate, but that's not what I'm doing here. I've said before on this blog that I'm a big fan of Cypher System, so this is somewhat modeled after that. I've always liked the idea of "Presence"; in part because I don't like Intelligence as a quantitative attribute, but also because Presence allows you to condense magical ability, charisma, and some of these other ephemeral qualities in a useful and interesting way, so you can avoid dump stats while still codifying these qualities. I don't plan on making the curse / fates aspect of LCK a major sub-system, if I make it at all it would be bolt-on, but I do think that with four attributes, it doesn't make sense to have magic condensed solely into a single attribute. 

In subsequent posts I will talk about the different character types, talents, character advancement, and other basic mechanics of the game. It is mostly pretty similar to TNT Deluxe except where it is accounting for these attributes, but I do try to somewhat standardize characters and NPCs with a uniform Character Rating metric, but I'm getting ahead of myself!

Monday, August 15, 2022

MRD2 PR 6: Napalm Octopus, Razzle Dazzle Dog, and Turkey head on a stick (Shalom Bebee!)

This ended up being a great session. Really leaned into the Concept Crafting in this Survival Sandbox Scenario (S^3 ;)) to great effect. I try to write these PRs within a day or two after the session but this time I got busy, so it may be briefer and more approximated as a result, but it was a great session.

Current Index
Play Reports

Some other posts for context


Color Codes:
NPCs, the actors I try to embody with my so-called "voice acting"
Design Notes

THE CAMPAIGN

The Corporation
RegeXperience: “Live for the RegeXperience”. Childishly edgy experimental entertainment and defense company that doesn’t want the world to know what’s really behind their algorithm. EXPERIENCE, ALGORITHM, ENTERTAINMENT

The Manager
Baz Beetz: Infectiously enthusiastic “artiste” and true believer in the company mission who is as profound as nonsensical.

The Cyblessed Liaison
“Tastes like eating out the ass-end of human progress.”: Like a cheap flaccid little candle dripping wax down an otherwise glorious cake wearing a tacky suit reminiscent of a 1980’s faux-wood-paneled station wagon.

The Issue

The Team must survive on Neo Siberia Bead, overtaken by the angelic Ophan bio-engineered slime molds, Smiling Boy Cultists, and famine. Not only must they survive, but they must hatch an escape plan within a month, before the Solar Scorch immolates the entire Tomino's Array (and lasers Washington DC into oblivion...)

The Team


Ben: Larry
Nazarite Contract: Fast Lane Fintechnomancer
Larry's past life was one of public mission in conscious contrarianism to his peers partying with the money of their employers. The brief accolades received from new acquaintances never quite made up for the lack of money and freedom. When he'd ask what others were doing to make the world a better place, they'd stare as if they had never considered the question before. What's the point of caring if no one else does?

Lukas: Ikarus
Nazarite Contract: Infrared Ranger
Was an heir to a crime family but betrayed them when his conscience caught up to him. In need of structure and a sense of justice, but without any good frame of reference and few other options, he shortly thereafter accepted the Nazarite Contract with The Corporation.

Huffa: Ernst
Nazarite Contract: Psychonautical Sub-Mariner
Golem: Forgetting Pile - An oozey amorphous Golem collective made of empowered trash and detritus.
An old man who trawls through the unconscious sea gathering the things people forget from their dreams. Sometimes its material that The Corporation deems useful.

Crisis Captain preview of things to come...

Where we left off...

On the verge of bringing the Upstartups into the fold, the Team must now deal with the Space Settlements. The Corporate Alliance and Ziegler Bead are on the verge of war, and the Amalekite Fleet lingers ominously just beyond their reach.

The Team chose to follow Cyril Ziegler aka THE EMISSARY to Ziegler Bead on Tomino's Array to negotiate terms of war. The negotiations quickly go sour as Captain Cobra and the Pirates of Perversity crash through the castle. In the process, The Team learns that the Royals present in the negotiations except for Cyril were all body doubles and that The Zieglers and their personal army have invaded Asimov's Array. They are remotely triggering a Solar Scorch, wherein the Solar Tech of Tomino's Array will be harnessed to overload, burning out the entire Array, and pointed towards Washington DC to incinerate the entire city. They also learn that Captain Cobra and the Pirates of Perversity were inadvertently responsible for the Ophan Crisis, overbreeding wild Ophan, the bio-engineered slime molds of the Array critical both as maintenance droids and livestock, in order to collect on the bounty (aka the Cobra effect aka Perverse Incentive). On top of all that, Ikarus' Karma attracts him to a folklore book on Hibernating Hyberia, a supposed ancient advanced civilization that had encrypted itself into history, whose 111th Genius Prince and Spirit Companion will raise them back to glory, and that Hyberia may have been part of or contemporaneous with the Amalekites.

Despite The Team's attempt to halt Conflict between the Pirates and the (false) Royals, pinkish Ophan flora overtakes Ziegler Bead, funneling The Team into the completely overtaken Neo Siberia Bead, along with Captain Cobra and Cyril Ziegler, who they've convinced via Karmic Attachment to find new purpose working against the Ziegler Family who were prepared to sacrifice him.

They've begun to scavenge resources, fix broken systems, and build shelter, surviving the Ophan wilds and the Smiling Boy Cultists, until they can plan their escape before the Solar Scorch, and (maybe) save Washington DC.


Cleaning the Lake

After securing shelter, the Team must clean Magenta Lake so they have clean water and food, before the end of the phase (~1 week). Investigating closer, they find two Smiling Boy Cultists, Sheepish Esme and Himbo Hogarth. The affable Hogarth tries to indoctrinate them into the brotherhood, encouraging them to starve themselves in service of the Ophan, which they politely resist.

Ernst summons The Forgetting Pile for a moment, modding their Gear with a PORTAL, using the trash powers of The Forgetting Pile to filter out the pollutants from the water to a safe location and ungunk the Pipeline Pig mecha, then sending it back to the Tehomic aether before more Pipeline Pigs would arrive in retaliation.

After cleaning the Lake, they found a buried treasure HARPOON and some resources OIL and GLASS.

Napalm Octopus Drone and The Razzle Dazzle Dog

With some spare time on their hands before the end of the phase, The Team decide to build some Gear for defending their shelter and exploring safely around the Smiling Boy Cultists.

Combining OIL+POWER they craft an Inflammable Octopus Drone, its tendrils shooting out oil from slits in the shelter, creating an oil mote that Ikarus can light up with his Eternal Flamethrower. They Mod it with RUBBER ((OIL+POWER)+RUBBER) to make it bouncy like a Napalm Octopus Drone.

They also combine ILLUSTRATION+GLASS to create a jeep-sized, dog-like quadrupedal vehicle with Razzle Dazzle camouflage, The Razzle Dazzle Dog.


Turkey head on a stick

Smiling Boy Cultists, including Sheepish Esme and Himbo Hogarth, but also Virtual Boy headgear-wearing Sarai and Cult Leader- Ropemaster Abe (Michael Parks type, especially like the Kevin Smith movies Red State or Tusk), arrive at the Domicile, with the intention of forceful conversion. The Cultists wear masks like faces within faces, or like tanned human baby hides.

Hiding in plain sight among them are two Cyblessed Poachers, visible to Ikarus and Larry respectively given the Karmic Attachments they made in what they thought were dreams at the end of Phase One (previous session).

Cyblessed Poachers: A posse of Cyblessed are illegally hunting humans amid the chaos. Wearing pink hunting gear in the style of the girl’s cartoon Shalom Bebee like Hello Kitty meets Pink Panther cartoon.

“Patriarch”: Gaunt old man in a blue collar shirt naked from the waist down, his light barely penetrating a ball of white hair like an anemone. Wd12 Impossible Proofs told through Dogma.

“Patronizer”: Gaudy but good-looking middle aged professional, entirely in gold, surgical light for a head, wearing too many expensive watches telling different times. Pd12 Unconscious manipulation of non-spacetime dimensions.

The Smiling Boy Cultists can't see the Cyblessed Poachers, nor can be convinced of their presence, and they refuse to see the Cyblessed as anything other than god-like saviors.

A mysterious Visceral Eviscerating Hollering, a sound as if coming through a broken beer bottle, snipes one of the Cultists, setting off Conflict.

I should have written the Conflict notes ASAP, but roughly from memory...

Larry activates the Napalm Octopus Drone and Ikarus lights it up with the Eternal Flamethrower, brutally burning many Cultists and a murder of tamed Ophan, while Ernst works with Captain Cobra to take down some more Cultists and activate The Razzle Dazzle Dog for an escape.

For defeating some of these threats, they receive ROPE, ROCK, and ROCK.

"Patriarch" attacks Ikarus with an Impossible Proof, triggering Ikarus' Crisis Captain Nazarite Feature.

I asked about a Henshin / Power Rangers Morphin' Time-style transformation sequence, and Lukas hadn't thought about it so tbd on that, but imagine something like that for yourselves.

The same mysterious force that sniped the cultist with a beer bottle funneled Visceral Eviscerating Hollering attacks Leaping Lorenzino, and rather than reactivate the Karmic Attachment to protect him somehow, Larry chose to let it happen, so the Venus Figurine mini-Golem body broke and Leaping Lorenzino is back to being a homoerotic smartphone app.

Larry <did something I no longer remember...> to denegrate "Patronizer", transforming it into "Penniless" by devaluing its self concept, forcing it into retreat (and gaining the Mod PENNY).

Larry throws the Harpoon through "Patriarch"'s anemone bioluminescence, creating an open wound. Ikarus throws a ROCK through the wound, which eventually gets pushed out as a PEARL, but managed to injure "Patriarch" (I think it was a bit more involved than I'm describing, wish I had written this sooner after the session...), forcing its retreat as well.

Eventually everyone gets in the Razzle Dazzle Dog and makes a stealthy escape.

Phase Three Fresh Air

At the beginning of Phase Three they notice that the air is getting thinner, and must acquire more oxygen before the end of the phase. Larry uses his Zip Ribbon Regressor Nazarite Feature to learn that the oxygen generator is broken, that it exists in the Ophan Forest, and it's part of a complex of buildings that the Smiling Boy Cultists have co-opted.

They infiltrate in the Razzle Dazzle Dog, and Ernst alone uses their WetOps Nazarite Feature to "hide in plain sight" as a "janitor" for the Cultists. Seeing Sarai zonked out wearing her Virtual Boy goggles, Ernst uses the Sub-Atomic Treasure Nazarite Feature to pull an object from Sarai's subconscious that might aid in fixing the oxygen, instead finding that Sarai's subconscious is a direct portal to the Virtual Zoetrope Superhighway Vessel of Tehom (from Session 2). Ernst pulls crimson VR voxels of the rings from the Virtual Zoetrope Superhighway and uses them as gaskets to fix the oxygen machine, and The Team extricates without drawing the attention of the Smiling Boy Cultists.

They investigate the perimeter of the Neo Siberia Bead with their spare time, finding a suspicious looking alter atop a hill, upon which is the skeletal remains of what appears to be a child sacrifice, which they take as *SKELETON (the * denoting it's a special item in this case).

The Team attaches a WING Mod to the Razzle Dazzle Dog ((ILLUSTRATION+GLASS)+WING) to turn it into a flying machine, and when they investigate from the skies, they find that the Cultists, Ophan, and Pipeline Pigs, including Ophan-infested Truffle Pigs, are converging towards them, and towards a flying human child - Ophan hybrid creature, staring directly at them... and that's where we end the session ;).

Unfortunately due to some scheduling conflicts we're going to have to pause for a couple weeks or so, but looking forward to seeing where this goes! I might end up running a FIST one-shot in the meantime involving FIST and CYCLOPS teaming up against The United Spacetimes of America, if I can find enough people and figure out the scheduling...

Sunday, August 7, 2022

MRD2 PR 5: Captain Cobra crashing the castle in 5...4...3...2...1...

Despite a few hiccups on my part, this was another good session bringing some new stuff to the table. In fact, one of the players said it was their favorite session yet, and the others also really liked the direction of things. I'll clarify where I think I went wrong, but on the whole I feel good about it. Anyway, this might not be my best play report, but the scenario around Neo Siberia Bead is really cool and will be followed up on next session so if nothing else check that part out!

Current Index


Some other posts for context

Color Codes:

Design Notes
Hyperlinks

THE CAMPAIGN

The Corporation
RegeXperience: “Live for the RegeXperience”. Childishly edgy experimental entertainment and defense company that doesn’t want the world to know what’s really behind their algorithm. EXPERIENCE, ALGORITHM, ENTERTAINMENT

The Manager
Baz Beetz: Infectiously enthusiastic “artiste” and true believer in the company mission who is as profound as nonsensical.

The Cyblessed Liaison
“Tastes like eating out the ass-end of human progress.”: Like a cheap flaccid little candle dripping wax down an otherwise glorious cake wearing a tacky suit reminiscent of a 1980’s faux-wood-paneled station wagon.

The Issue
On the verge of bringing the Upstartups into the fold, the Team must now deal with the Space Settlements. The Corporate Alliance and Ziegler Bead are on the verge of war, and the Amalekite Fleet lingers ominously just beyond their reach...

The Team

Ben: Larry
Nazarite Contract: Fast Lane Fintechnomancer
Larry's past life was one of public mission in conscious contrarianism to his peers partying with the money of their employers. The brief accolades received from new acquaintances never quite made up for the lack of money and freedom. When he'd ask what others were doing to make the world a better place, they'd stare as if they had never considered the question before. What's the point of caring if no one else does?

Lukas: Icarus Tromp
Nazarite Contract: Infrared Ranger
Was an heir to a crime family but betrayed them when his conscience caught up to him. In need of structure and a sense of justice, but without any good frame of reference and few other options, he shortly thereafter accepted the Nazarite Contract with The Corporation.

Huffa: Ernst
Nazarite Contract: Psychonautical Sub-Mariner
Golem: Forgetting Pile - An oozey amorphous Golem collective made of empowered trash and detritus.
An old man who trawls through the unconscious sea gathering the things people forget from their dreams. Sometimes its material that The Corporation deems useful.

Where we left off...

The Team met with the other Corporate representatives in the Vessel of Tehom known as Venus City, where violence is physically impossible. The Stakes at hand were:
  • Form a Corporate Alliance or work independently.
  • Fold the Upstartups into the Corporate hierarchy or crush them.
  • Consolidate power on the space settlements or appease them.
The Team took the Positions to form the Corporate Alliance, Fold the Upstartups, and Consolidate power on the space settlements, and tracked down the stakeholders for the other Corporations and through various means convinced them all towards a majority vote in favor on their Positions.

Scales of Conviction

As a result of their efforts in the previous session, all of the votes work out in The Team's favor. THE EMISSARY* (now given a name and description) invites The Team to come to Ziegler Bead on Tomino's Array to discuss terms of war civilly. The Team are reminded of the Amalekite Fleet near the Space Settlement, and also consider first discussing this matter with their manager Baz Beetz, before ultimately deciding to accept the offer.

*Cyril Ziegler (THE EMISSARY): Distantly royal dandy and martial arts master who is competent and ambiguously unambitious.

Discussing with my players in our debrief at the end of the session, the Players did not feel like they were fully aware of their options- e.g. investigating the Amalekite Fleet independently, trying to infiltrate Tomino's Array rather than going along with Cyril, or leveraging other resources like Baz for more information. Some of that they felt was on them for not thinking of those things, but I felt like it was more a failure on my part in not making the options more salient or having more hooks for them.

Miscellany

Meanwhile, Ikarus holds a private conversation (via Discord DM's during our in-person game) with Barney Bates, the nepotistic patron and uncle of Finny Bates, the Manager from QuinceSoft who the Team caught attempting to sell secrets to The Amalekites. The conversation is kept private from the rest of The Team.

Tomino’s Array

One of several space settlements near Earth. An Array consists of individual city-sized settlements called Beads, which are combined as they develop, forming an Array. Tomino’s Array is the oldest Array at nearly 20 years old, and has developed a culture of its own.



Ziegler Bead

The most affluent and well established Bead of Tomino’s Array. Has a quaint charm like a rural Slavic countryside, ignoring the exposed technological infrastructure supporting the Bead. Has a beautiful but also somewhat disturbing aesthetic reminiscent of old Eastern European aristocracy.

The Team discuss briefly with the Ziegler Family, all of whom are present aside from the de facto dictator of Tomino's Array Redic Ziegler. They learn a little more about the Ophan, the bioengineered slime molds crucial to the functioning of Tomino's Array, that were starting to turn feral and overpopulate. They learn that the Ziegler's had put out a bounty, but that Captain Cobra and the Pirates of Perversity were abusing the bounty in some way. However not long into their conversation, THE ADMIRAL predicts the exact moment in which Captain Cobra and The Pirates of Perversity will infiltrate the castle, in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1...

Captain Cobra: Effortlessly charming space pirate and former government agent who is always pursuing half-baked schemes that work until they don't. Black and gold costume like a cross between Yatterman and Cobra Commander with kinky leather overtones. Domino mask with aviator sunglass lenses.

This played out very differently than I expected. I don't remember what queued it up, but it was not my intention to have Captain Cobra arrive that soon and in that way, it just kind of worked out organically.

A couple mecha, Captain Cobra, and some Pirates of Perversity foot soldiers crash through the castle, immediately killing THE ADMIRAL.

I had designed the scenario with the idea in mind that The Team would have to decide whether or not to side with the Ziegler's in their own self defense (the Pirates attacking on-site) and for the sake of setting the terms of war (basically the pre-war "Geneva Convention"), or turn on the Ziegler's because they are fascist assholes and Pirate Queen Prismasha (Empress of Space) asked them to look out for Captain Cobra, and then it would turn into a conflict. Instead, they tried to use their various mind-altering Nazarite Features, Golem, and Mods to create a ceasefire and discuss terms. This was successful, but really muddied my plans and this is where I feel I choked a bit and kind of railroaded them. They were happy with the direction things went, but agreed it was a little railroad-y. Which is especially bad because I had more than enough prepped to where if I hadn't railroaded them it would have still been totally fine >.<.

It plays out where they learn that Captain Cobra is at least partially responsible for the devastation that has occurred in the Neo Siberia Bead with the overpopulating Ophan, by engaging with a Perverse Incentive / Cobra Effect around the bounty.

Ikarus' Karmic Attachment to IQ Warburton III (THE COFOUNDER) leads him towards a book on the Ziegler's bookshelf, a folklore book about 

Hibernating Hyberia: A long-dead prehistoric super-civilization that encrypted itself in what would become history. The manuscript was found mysteriously in one of the early space settlements. Not given much acknowledgement on Earth, but has become popular modern folklore in the settlements. It is prophesied that the 111th generation prince of Hyberia will be a genius warmonger, and alongside their spirit companion, will decrypt the civilization and bring it back to its former glory. Some speculate that Hyberia was an Amalekite Kingdom, or contemporaneous with them.

Some kind of glowing pink flora overtakes the Bead, consuming everything except The Team, Cyril Ziegler, and Captain Cobra, who all collectively agree to take the escape hatch towards Neo Siberia Bead, seemingly led that way by the flora itself. Captain Cobra reluctantly agrees to work with Cyril as they have no recourse.

They learn that all the royals besides Cyril were actually body doubles, that the reason why Redic was not present is because he is the most famous / recognizable and would have been hardest to fake. The Ziegler's and their army left for Asimov's Array which they have overtaken, and triggered a Solar Scorch on Tomino's Array. The Array will be gathering a surplus of solar energy over the course of the next month, honing the energy into a solar beam to wipe out Washington DC (and also burn out Tomino's Array to a husk, taking out the Ophan and Pirates of Perversity and the remaining population of the Array all at once).

Trapped in Neo Siberia Bead, they must first learn to survive, and then escape, within a month.

So ya I admittedly bungled that part above, I mean they still had fun establishing the ceasefire, but I muddled how it played out, but once they got to Neo Siberia Bead, that's where they all really enjoyed things.


Neo Siberia Bead

Overtaken by fuzzy glowing pinkish flora like a forest, a sickeningly addictive sweet and floral aroma surrounds the space like an olfactory aura. Few humans found out in the open, those out seem to have gone insane, or are afraid, hostile, and unwilling to interact. The Team are attacked by Ophan Bugs immediately unless they seek/make shelter or find some other solution.

The Ophan flora knowingly seal the Bead exits immediately after The Team arrive, even barricading the extradimensional vertices of Tehom and spacetime. The only escape is to make a Sacrifice to the Shamir at enormous cost, destroy the Ophan, or something more ingenious.

There are four phases (each ~1 week). At the end of phase four the Solar Scorch would happen, requiring Sacrifice to the Shamir or death.

Ophan Bugs: Without shelter or protection, get bit by BuzzWords. Must be taken; if over Mod capacity, must remove another Mod. Using these BuzzWords takes 1d6 Damage of the respective kind, or sometimes they just trigger randomly, getting used up but incurring Damage.
  1. PAIN (NAT)
  2. HUNGER (NAT)
  3. SICKNESS (WIS)
  4. MADNESS (PRO)
They first tried to summon their Golem to protect themselves from the Ophan Bugs, but this attracted the attention of Pipeline Pigs (like this but as giant robots) which burrowed out from under them. When they unsummoned their Golem, the Pipeline Pigs left them alone. 

Ernst uses the Mod HONEY to create a protective balm from the Ophan Bugs, using up the Mod at the end of this scenario, but they must still establish shelter by the end of Phase One.

The Survival Zone consists of the Dilapidated Dome Domicile in an open plains area by the Bead entrance (where they arrive), and it is between the other two areas, the Magenta Lake and Ophan Forest.

Dilapidated Dome Domicile

They investigate the Domicile first as that's where they're starting, and it's their phase one survival requirement. The Dome must be repaired in order to provide shelter, such as using METAL or PLASTIC. The shelter has one METAL and requires one more resource to repair. Has a Defense Turret (DEFENSE + TURRET) which can optionally be repaired by creating a Gear for it (affecting its final form), or salvaged for one of its mods. The turret can be used as a free action for the Team as a whole once per round of Conflict. A small murder of Ophan are digesting a few Smiling Boy Cultists and are hostile to The Team.

They use the Mods ALGORITHM+PARASITE to create a Gear repairing the Defense Turret, where it shoots out slugs (literal parasites not "slug" as in bullet) that can decode a genome and break down an organism into goop. They then use the turret to goopify the murder of Ophan, and they use one of their Mods WALL + the available METAL  to do the repairs on the Domicile.

Given how efficiently they handled the Ophan Bugs I gave them a little extra time to explore Magenta Lake before the end of phase one.

Magenta Lake

They learn that Magenta Lake offers POLLUTION+WATER until cleaned, and can be fished for livestock Ophan. A Pipeline Pig is trying to clean the lake but is in a clearly dysfunctional subroutine cycle. It must be destroyed and removed in order to clean the lake, but will be hostile to Golem.

End of Phase One

The Team each experience a nightmare and/or malnutrition/anxiety delusion, creating either a Karmic Attachment or taking Enhanced Damage (d12) of the respective kind.

"Patriarch": Gaunt old man in a blue collar shirt naked from the waist down... 
"Patronizer": Gaudy but good-looking middle aged professional, entirely in gold, ..., wearing too many expensive watches telling different times.
"Protector": Ernst chose this one, and had to take the Nature Damage because they already have 6 Karma. By taking the Damage, they got no further description of this nightmare.

I believe Ikarus took the Karmic Attachment with "Patriarch" and Larry with "Patronizer" but I should really double check that 😬.


End of Session

The Players really liked this survivalist / base-building turn of events. I'm annoyed at myself for how messy the Ziegler Bead scenario went, but they still had fun and like I said they were very into the Neo Siberia Bead. Concept Crafting lends itself well to this kind of thing, and the world of MRD is so weird and abstract that it's arguably even more so effective because it grants the level of diegetic flexibility in how the Mods are handled and what they can do. One of the Players said this was their favorite session yet, and another said that this was unlike anything they've done before in another RPG, and the latter especially is one of my favorite things to hear so I'm happy with that :).

There are still a few more phases to go in this Survival Zone so I'll try to use the time between now and next session to polish that up even more, and I've also got the Amalekite Fleet scenario largely prepped, so I think the next handful of sessions will be really good. And given how much they are enjoying the survival / base-building stuff, I will likely try to add more of that into the Campaign going forward.