MRD Vol.2 PR 1: Maximum Recursion Depth Volume 2, or Sometimes Less is More and Sometimes More is More
Some other posts for context
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
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 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...)
Nazarite Contract: Fast Lane Fintechnomancer
Golem: Lycaon Strain
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?
Nazarite Contract: Infrared Ranger
Golem: Chemysterious Cascader
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 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.
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.
- PANIC (Wd6)
- WORSHIP (Wd6)
- SUBMISSION (Pd6)
- PAIN (Nd6)
- OBSESSION (Pd6)
- 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.
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!