Well, we’re trying a new system – the CBR+PNK hack of Blades in the Dark. We wanted a change and to do a little city/scifi type game.
Lets see how it goes!
PCs: A-K (Intrusion Specialist), Jack (Undercover Investigator) Dr. Morellius (Uplifted Scientist)
Sometimes to get things done, you need people that don’t exist. The Secure Service Diagnostics doesn’t exist on any records, but when those in the know hear about dangerous tech, an SSD cell gets activated.
Flight PA-52 was stopped and boarded after an altercation with a drunk passenger. The passenger refused to surrender and opened fire with a shielded implant-gun. This would have been a regular (if terrible) event. But when the body was taken to the morgue the Archive AI flagged an error – the body was a duplicate. On investigation the two bodies were indeed duplicates – identical clones which had been discovered in similar events. Apparently the criminal in question didn’t handle alcohol or taking orders well.
SSD was called up to investigate. The presumed dead criminal was one Andrei Chekov, a known associate of the Rayu Bratva – a dangerous criminal operation. The Rayu Bratva are known as the power behind “Paradise Arcology”, a playground for the rich and desperate alike, and while nominally within the jurisdiction the Russian Federation, it has been an independent city which enforced it’s own laws – which made it a haven for activities branded illegal elsewhere. Also it was the “home city” of Paradise Airlines flight 52. A team was needed on site to investigate.
A-K quickly got a hold of the administrative plans of the Arcology – floor plans, zoning, and other civil authority records. The biggest issue they would encounter was the Pass-Chip system. Paradise Administrative Authority (PAA, the government) provided it’s own currency and economy, everyone who entered was provided with a Bio-ID chip which facilitated payment, security, and location of everyone in the Arcology. Outside currency was exchanged by PAA on entry and exit. Jack secured some Bio-ID chips from some underworld contacts – chips which would be able to duplicate the ID of anyone standing close – it would allow the team to make purchases and move about so long as they didn’t do anything excessive.
Dr. Morellius was concerned about locating this cloning tech. Cloning per-se was old hat, but duplicating a personality along with their body was something new. He scanned through any agencies in Paradise that dealt with genetics, plastic surgery or cybernetics. One company proved very interesting – The Eden Clinic. They provided some very expensive (and elsewhere illegal) therapies for rejuvenation, reproduction, and modification of genetic expression. Some of their suspected clients included famous actors and models, along with many criminals seeking to change their appearance and mask their DNA fingerprints. One headline story that the Doctor uncovered was about an attempted break in by a Dr. Bancali (a famous researcher) who was arrested attempting to steal proprietary procedures after being denied requests to help his daughter by the Clinic. Dr. Bancali later disappeared.
In an attempt to provide a believable cover, the team co-operated to create a spoof-ID of a rich, but not publicly known figure. Using photos and video, Jack put together a convincing disguise of a Mr Elliot Rusk, while A-K managed to insert some delays in Rusk’s bank so that any purchases would not be flagged for some days. Using this newly acquired ID the team secured a suite at “Neptune’s Palace”, a high end, and very discrete, hotel-casino.
Before they made their entry, Dr. Morellius took a look at the news archives for Paradis Arcology for any useful unrest, and learnt of the Undercity – where the staff and maintenance workers for the Arcology lived. Of especial interest was the many legal cases brought against the Paradise Administrative Authority for worker exploitation and infrastructure mismanagement.
The actual infiltration went well. Mr Rusk (aka Jack) flew into the Arcology, passed through customs and security with no issues, and was greeted by the Concierge Service of Neptune’s Palace. His personal assistant for the stay would be one P. Fasbider, a young lady who knew all the ins and outs of the Arcology and would be happy to secure anything Mr Rusk needed for his stay at the Palace. Meanwhile A-K and Morellius took the train into the service entry (along with the workers and city supplies). They spoofed some worker IDs and were able to enter along with their cargo – four duffel bags full of some rather interesting equipment.
Jack secured a limo (with a small verbal altercation with a local Bratva thug) and met his companions, bringing them back to the hotel and started prep for the next phase of their mission – infiltrating Eden Clinic.
At the Table
This was a massive change of pace. None of us had played CBR+PNK before, and the system was just different enough from Blades in the Dark to trip us up a few times. The biggest change is the “Approach+Skill” dice pool rather than the “Actions” from Blades. The decision point of “Aggressive/Smart/Cautious/Empathetic” seemed to drag us out of RP a large number of times. It was also vague enough to make the decision into a discussion pretty much every time. Not sure I’m convinced of the change yet.
We’re going to have to play for a few more sessions to get a better feel for this game. We’re hitting the ago-old problem of a scifi vs fantasy. Most people can understand and picture what a particular fantasy setting is all about by using only a minimal of words. If you were to say “Inspired by english fairytale” then the players would get a picture of dark forests, fields, thatched roofs, and some weird/scary creatures likes fairies and goblins. But when you start mentioning a science-fiction story, it covers such a wide range of things that you need a lot of discussion to narrow done what precisely is meant. For this reason we had long “session 0” where we talked about science fiction and what sort of themes and genres were going to appear. Even during session 1 we were still spending a lot of time fleshing out the setting and the types of technology appearing.
The setting is still evolving a bit, but now we have something of a cross between “Neuromancer” and “The Windup Girl”. We have uplifted species (Dr Morellius is an uplifted octopus driving a synthetic-body), bio hacking, alongside some impressive cybernetics (cyber bodies, implanted weapons) and of course the info-tech stuff (hacking, near AI, etc). And of course we’re in an artifical environment (Paradise Arcology which is something like a high-tech las Vegas/Monaco)
I’m very curious to see where this goes, and also will be glad when our fourth player gets a break at work and can rejoin us 🙂 Anyway, next week will see the characters infiltrating “Eden Clinic” and getting a step closer to their goals.