CBR+PNK ep2 – Eden Clinic

We’re back. This time the team wanted to confirm that the Eden Clinic was indeed the right target before they committed to breaking in.

parc-15 lobby by David Hu architects

In Game

PCs: A-K (Intrusion Specialist), Jack (Undercover Investigator)
NPC: Dr. Morellius (Uplifted Scientist)

From the prior work of Dr Morellius, the team knew the location of suspicious deliveries which would be needed for cloning humans and related technologies. But in the huge Paradise Arcology this was only a first step. The “Eden Clinic” was a mystery – no address or corporate information was publicly available, and only thanks to their previous research was the delivery address known to them.

From one of their smuggled bags, they unpacked and assembled their scout-drone. The interface controls allowed for all of them to piggyback and analyse all it saw. Their scout drone silently lifted away from their balcony and into the expanse of the arcology’s central caldera – a maze of greenery and skyscrapers that supported the shield panels far above. Jack piloted the drone through the artificial canyons, easily avoiding the security patrols. The delivery address only provided a loading dock at street level which led to an express elevator. Unwilling to leave without more information, Jack started scanning through windows – searching for EM emissions that would point to some kind of laboratory. WIth the assistance of Dr Morellius they spotted some strange temperature and EM readings – a huge refrigeration area on the 52’nd floor!

Unfortunately a number of security-drones had started to show interest in their scout-drone buzzing various windows. Jack tried to make a break and fly away, but while the scout was built for silent and precise flying, it was not able to outrun the security-drones. A-K had a plan and started to identify and hack into the security frequencies – but she needed time and proximity to the security-drones. Jack used the precision flying of the scout-drone to lead the pursuers through a maze of balconies, overhangs, coolant towers and other obstacles, always staying just close enough to pick up the security control signal. A-K finally shouted in joy as she sent a command for the security.-drones to drop into standby mode. As all the pursuing drones stopped and began to drift towards the ground, Jack was able to fly the scout-drone away and out of sight of any patrols. Bringing it back to the hotel safely and unfollowed.

With the location confirmed, it was decided that Jack should pay a visit. In the guise of Mr Rusk Jr, Jack headed to the building and entered the lobby. From the public directory the only information he could find about the 52 and 53rd floors was “clinic”. But that was enough. Taking the elevator up to the 52nd floor, Jack entered a very zen-like room. Marble floor, paneled walls, and exotic greenery growing everywhere. But there was no sign of an exit of any people. While appearing casual, Jack furiously scanned the walls, but all he was able to see were small lenses placed near the ceiling. The lenses began to flash and a holographic person appeared in the room. “Good afternoon. How can the Eden CLinic be of assistance Mr…?”
Jack smiled. “My Rusk, I have an appointment”:

<Flashback> A-K stared at the plugs on her lap in frustration. How to hack a system without even a contact address? The Building Environmental Control! The Clinic is drawing a lot of power and has it’s own connections to things like temperature control, water, electricity etc. All she needed was enough of a connection to insert an appointment. (comment: omg the roll was absurd – 4 dice, all 6s.) With some clever spoofing of command responses A-K managed to get into the Eden Clinic’s administrative computer. Adding in a meeting for Mr Rusk and one of the on-staff doctors was easy enough. Even better was being able to copy the staffing schedules for the next week. One other useful bit of data was a video feed of various cameras. A-K couldn’t trace where the feed was being sent, but it was enough to call Dr Morellius for a consult.

Jack waited. A door appeared and a Dr Talo introduced himself and led “Mr Rusk” to a conference room and short interview. Knowing A-K was watching and recording made Jack feel a little more ambitious. Dr Talo was happy to hear of the glowing compliments on the reputation of the Clinic, but became obviously nervous when Mr Rusk requested a tour of the facilities. “I am sorry Mr Rusk, but as you are well aware, our primary investor has placed discretion above all other concerns. Our clients information is totally secure, and we do not allow any entry to anyone other than our own vetted staff and our clients.

“Oh, i’m sorry, I was asking as I was thinking of becoming an investor.” Jack smiled innocently. Dr Talo began to sweat as he glanced fearfully at the cameras hidden in the walls, obviously concerned about his _actual_ investors that would be looking on and judging him. “I’m terribly sorry Mr Rusk, I dont have the knowledge or authorisation to carry out a tour that would do justice to our facilities. I will contact the board and have then organise a tour for you. They will be able to contact you at the…?”
“Neptune’s Palace”
“Certainly. They will reach out to you shortly. In the meantime here are my contact details should you have any further questions about any work you might want done to yourself.”

A-K and Morellius had been frantically scanning the video feeds – and had identified the surgical rooms. They could identify much of the specialised equipment for reconstructive surgery, cybernetic implantation, and other cosmetic procedures – but there were two bits of equipment that were unidentified. Something that looked like a cradle for a human head, filled with technological looking sensors. The resolution was not fine enough for more detail, but one of these boxes was sitting in an operating theatre, while another was in a room that looked like a lounge or waiting room of some kind. They agreed that these items were the unidentified tech, and sent the signal for Jack to get out.

As Jack was leaving, A-K noticed increased traffic in the Eden Clinic network, as well as a number of scans on their own hotel network. She disconnected from the network and quickly worked to remove traces of their digital presence in the hotel, then waited for Jack to return.

At the Table

I am still not sold on this game.

We had a fun session and we’re eager to find out how the final “intrusion” will go. But the game plays significantly different from Blades in the Dark (or other games we’ve tried) for it still to be an effort to run. There were a couple of fun scenes in there – the drone chase and the interview stand out – but there was a lot of mechanical fumbling. The players would want to do something and often there was a need to discuss (out of character) how that action could be adjudicated mechanically. The bare bones of the CBR+PNK pamphlets keeps the core action of FitD games, but has stripped out examples and extended explanations that are present in the Blades books – we were trying to fall back on old habits, but enough has changed in CBR+PNK that we’d trip ourselves up.

I am getting the feeling that without the shared knowledge of setting (either provided in the books, or understood by players with shared assumptions) the remaining mechanics leave the game a little too game-like. Its an interesting issue.

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