My Games

Monday, June 20, 2022

MRD2 PR 3: You Weren't Supposed to See That Yet

Previous PRs and general MRD2 context

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 Quarterly earnings report is coming up soon, and The Corporation is anomalously underperforming.
  • Several brand launches this Quarter were undercut by a previously unknown startup in San Francisco. The Corporation wants The Team to investigate The Startup on the pretense of a buyout.
  • The Startup somehow acquired the licensing rights to the old Jingo Jangles cartoon, undercutting The Corporation’s upcoming Tempeh Toons licensed products line, just as the Jingo Jangles Museum is reopening.
  • Several other corporations, including The Rival Corporation, have been hit by a similarly bad Quarter. The Cyblessed Liaisons intend to arrange a meeting in neutral territory, Venus City of Tehom.

And last but not least...

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.

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 investigated the Jingo Jangles Museum to glean insights into how The Startup scooped The Corporation on their quarterly strategy. After encounters with Transdimensional Toons, they travelled through a portal into a Vessel of Tehom, a strange place with an inhospitable environment and competing forces that would crush a human body. Summoning their Golem, they traversed the spinning rings in this plane towards the core, making Karmic Attachments along the way with the likes of Doughboy and the Dreadnaughty, a broken-legged Leaping Lorenzino (given a Dreadnaught for a peg leg), and a mysterious figure in a sub-sub-dimensional shadow who The Team suspect is The Cofounder of The Startup. Finally, the core ruptured, revealing an enigmatic foe, The Entropy Elancer.

The "Boss Fight"

Design Notes
The majority of this session ended up being a "boss fight". I don't intend to rely too much on these, but I wanted to stress test some of the mechanics of the game. We've decided to forego Golem Ability Scores altogether, finding them redundant. Instead, Nazarite Ability Scores apply to their Golem. The Players can choose one Ability Score to get a d6 Damage Die for their Golem (the rest would be d4), and there are no ability score modifier bonuses or anything so it's really just for thematic purposes, if they want to further differentiate their Nazarites and Golems.

This is something that is not so much a mechanical rule as a design goal, but I made a point of saying, yes you can always just roll for damage, but in most regards, if you try to use your Gear in interesting ways and do something more than just attacking, it will generally be more beneficial to do so.

Gladly, they took that to heart and not a single basic attack roll was made! In fact, they dealt literally 0 Damage to the Entropy Elancer, instead focusing on systematically breaking its Gear. I still think a traditional attack and HP system makes sense as a fallback, but I actually really like the idea that this should be probably the primary approach to Golem Conflict, where enemy Golem have extremely high HP, and it's usually more worthwhile to target their Gear rather than attacking directly (and maybe breaking Gear can equivocate to some large amount of Damage so that they aren't disincentivized altogether from mixing approaches). While the core of this Gear system is built on Concept Crafting, I do think this idea of Gear Targeting was inspired by Batteries Not Included.

Entropy Elancer (Inner Ring)
The core ruptures, and the auto-erotic necro-rgasmic moan of an entire civilization whines at a jarring frequency like poking at a blister, before turning tinny, and abruptly and prematurely ceasing. Amid the destruction, a merely normal-sized Golem not unlike The Team’s elances onto the Inner Ring as if it were a stage. Strobing lights flutter like bugs in the sky and the Entropy Elancer dances in myoclonic jerks masquerading frames between moments of light like a kinesthetic zombie artform. Dead bodies and viscera in detailed Transdimensional Toon form slough off its sleek body apathetically.
  • HP: 30; Hits each PC each turn with one of three attacks randomly. Immune to physical damage so long as it remains in motion.
    • Wd8 (Strobing Lights)
      • x3 Strobing Lights: (1HP each) While the strobing lights are present, Entropy Elancer can bypass obstacles between flickers of light.
    • Nd6 (Phosphene Slipper Kicks): NAT Save (or maybe a different Save if feasible) or else Gear is disabled. 
      • Partial Success: Gear/Mod not disabled; Entropy Elancer gains one of that Gear’s Words as a Mod.
      • Full Failure: Destroys Mod permanently (if there was a Mod); Entropy Elancer gains the destroyed Word as a Mod.
    • Pd8 (Zoetropic Thunder- wowing the audience)
    • A Discordant Curtain phosphene can be sensed at the edge of consciousness, and from beyond the fourth wall the shadows of an audience can be seen.
    • They are enraptured by the performance, but will be moved to support Entropy Elancer or The Team depending on circumstances, providing morale boosts or even throwing things onto the stage. They’ll throw Words onto the stage which can be used as Mods or other things.
  • Leaping Lorenzinos holding hands thrust-kick back and forth between the middle and outer rings like meteors (Nd8). 
    • Occasionally they get stuck in place and become obstacles on the ring.
    • They appear to be specifically targeting The Team, but may be used to trap the Entropy Elancer in place.

Audience Word List:
  2. DANCE
  5. LIGHT
  6. STAGE
  11. WALL
  14. MOTION
  16. OPERA
  17. SONG

Design Notes
As part of encouraging the Players to use the Words as Mods for their Gear and engage with the environment in interesting ways, if PCs do something which would grant them new Words, they can use one Word as a free action. kind of like how in FATE you get a free evoke on an Aspect when you create an Aspect (or it's been a while since I've played FATE but it's something like that).

Additionally, I decided that they can use the Words to do individual, specific effects, not as a Mod for their Gear, but in such a case it's a one-time use (and they can also use Words in this way as Nazarites outside of their Golem). It gives them more opportunities to use the Words in interesting and fun ways, while still incentivizing them to use them as Gear Mods more often than not.

This is a rough approximation of events, I remember some particulars and not others offhand...

The PCs figured out quickly that they needed to drum up support from the audience, so Lycaon Strain used one of their Gear that produces a fear-inducing howl, along with the ENTERTAINMENT Mod, to turn the scenario into something like a horror movie with The Team as the protagonists and Entropy Elancer the monster, and the audience threw several Words onto the ring for them: DANCE, APPLAUSE, OVATION. They used APPLAUSE to create a raucous soundwave to destroy one of the Strobing Lights, and as a result the Entropy Elancer's phasing ability was diminished.

My memory of the middle of the fight gets fuzzier, but I remember that Forgetting Pile used their previous Mod HONEY with one of their Gear to break the Tesselating Zoetrope Gear, disabling that attack, and later the Entropy Elancer uses the Phosphene Kick to break Forgetting Pile's UNCONSCIOUS+OOZE Gear into just OOZE, but then I think Chemysterious Cascader used a Gear to drum up more excitement from the audience to get more Words: OPERA, ILLUSTRATION, WALL, CURTAIN, and Forgetting Pile creates an OOZE CURTAIN to disable the Discordant Curtain Gear. At some point a Leaping Lorenzino is used to break a Strobing Light.

Around the end, Forgetting Pile and Chemysterious Cascader use their Gear collectively to summon a manifestation of Harry the Honeybadger and Barrys the Bees, the Jingo Jangles Transdimensional Toons they met at the museum, to break the Phosphene Slippers, and then bees consume the Entropy Elancer.

I'm definitely not telling it right, but it played out along these lines.

Design Notes
Obviously the Players themselves didn't have everything laid out in front of them, but you can see here how, because the Entropy Elancer has one attack associated with each Gear, along with some other miscellaneous stuff, they're incentivized to target the Gears vs. just dealing Damage directly.

I also tried to make each attack interesting. The Strobing Lights are what give Entropy Elancer it's phasing ability. The Phosphene Kick can break Gear or steal Mods. The Zoetropic Thunder can drum up the audience in its favor. The Leaping Lorenzinos can hem in the PCs, but also be leveraged by them.

Before being defeated, the Discordant Curtain falls. 

Star Wars-style text crawl overlays like a laser word projector (The Transcending Descender [a creature made of projected words, from previous session]):

Outnumbered and viciously attacked by the treacherous Villains of Regexperience, our Hero makes their valiant exit stage left as the Discordant Curtain falls like a guillotine a hair’s breadth before the evil Nazarites. Thwarted for now, the malicious lot return to the mundane reality of The Startup Office, finding themselves in the midst of The Founder. While they lie and scheme to undermine the rebel upstartup, where has our hero gone? Fret not, our hero will return, mightier than ever, for progress never fails in the end! Stay tooned my fresh friends. Fraxinus!

Back to Reality

At the startup, mid conversation with The Founder, Doughboy alongside them, and The Leaping Lorenzino in the guise of a phone app like an incredibly homoerotic 90’s 16-bit fighting videogame port.

I finally name and characterize THE FOUNDER and THE COFOUNDER:

Ash McLaren: Prettyboy up-and-comer with dorky predilections and glassy eyes seeking long lost wonder.

IQ Warburton III: Sharply dressed and sharply cunning coder rich in name only with a salty chip on his shoulder.

The Team are informed that they can either attempt to close on the buyout / snoop around the office or head uptown to Fort Mason to investigate the fallout of the Kaiju attack that they missed from session 1, that was apparently in the form of Teagan Tenderloin the Tempeh Toon, The Corporation's licensed toon brand that got scooped by The Startup's Jingo Jangles licensed toons. The Venus City pre-meeting will be starting in a few hours, so they only have time to do one of those two options in San Francisco, or both if they are ok with skipping the big meeting.

They choose to stick around at the office.

Larry and Icarus get into PRO Conflict with Ash McLaren, where they can leverage the various information they've sleuthed to benefit their argument in favor of buyout.

Meanwhile Ernst engages in WetOps, stealing a keyfob to get onto the company Wifi to access the augmented reality space [from previous session]. Then, they retrieve The Cofounder's unique keyfob from the memory of an employee who once saw The Cofounder use the key, to unlock The Cofounder's Office, all to decrypt the rest of the data they stole.

After decrypting the data, they get the following intel:
Files discuss the meeting in Venus City, funds being diverted quasi-legally, and references to a large number of secret investors across Earth and Tomino’s Array* with no obvious connection except to someone or something referred to as “Hibernating Hyberia”.

* Tomino's Array is one of the Space Settlements and was a HOTSPOT for one of the other ISSUES. Given the nature of ESCALATION in the campaign, when they pursue some ISSUES over others, the others continue to ESCALATE without their involvement...

Ernst also gets the Mod BACKDOOR for the successful hacking and decryption.

After agreeing on The Buyout (in part by convincing The Founder he has no choice, that The Corporations will swallow them up eventually so better to take the deal now while the terms are good, and also they lie to him that The Cofounder already agreed to be bought out himself), they receive the Mod SALE. Also, Icarus makes a Karmic Attachment with The Founder (now being Karmically Attached to both Ash McLaren The Founder and IQ Warburton III The Cofounder).

The successful hacking into the augmented reality and the Karmic Attachment co-occur, at which point something strange happens. Ash McLaren (The Founder) wears a special helmet, which they learned about in the augmented reality in the previous session. They see underneath The Founder’s helmet a draconic, chitinous moth-like monster has eaten through the back of his skull and hijacked him like a parasite.

“Oh, you weren’t supposed to see that yet”. Reality itself goes fuzzy for a second, and then he appears normal, and acts as though nothing happened.

Icarus pulls a stunt of sorts with his Eternal Flamethrower to get some analytics on whatever is underneath the helmet, and it becomes apparent that whatever they saw is no longer in reality, that underneath the helmet is relatively normal brainwaves and organic tissue.

And this is where we leave off, but next time it's off to Venus City! Fraxinus!


  1. These write ups are quite entertaining! I like seeing the drama unfold!

    1. Thanks, I think these PRs have been better than a lot of my older ones. It doesn't hurt that I've been better about writing them shortly after each session rather than waiting several weeks or months and then trying to compile them well after the fact lol.

      I liked the approach of writing them like a blend of PR and Module / GM Notes in my last campaign, and this time I'm trying to add these Design Notes, and be better about adding recaps at the front so that new readers or those less familiar with the setting can still maybe kind of understand (so long as they're willing to "come along for the ride" but that's a caveat regardless lol).

      Basically trying to make them more like holistic entertainment but also gameable experiences wrapped up into one post.

    2. I like the idea of making them modules as well! That is neat!