My Games

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!

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Design Notes


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.


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)
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.


  1. This sounds like a really cool session!

    1. Thanks! I'm still annoyed with how I mishandled the stuff on Ziegler Bead / the castle, but once they got to Neo Siberia Bead things got really cool.