The Gemini Pheonix Affair: Ep 2 - Run Rabbit Run
Tony uses his street connections to find Gem and Brhom (now going by his fake ID, Lutrin) a room in a poor neighborhood where they can easily hide in a crowd and stay clear of the city's cameras. The Stalinesque hab-block isn't much to look at on the outside, but inside they find a tight-knit community who look out for each other. They welcome Gem and Lu and help them get settled.
Meanwhile, high above a flitter named the Wilma Deering glides in to dock at Halo station. The pilot, Gideon Quinn, nervously conceals a small black cube in his jacket. He checks his laser is properly concealed before approaching the security checkpoint. Quinn pulls up a photo on his slate. The man in the photo is working security, and Quinn falls into that line of passengers and waits. The security guard points to Quinn and pulls him out of line for a thorough scan and pat-down, but doesn't find any of the contraband Quinn is carrying. They exchange a knowing glance as Quinn skates through the checkpoint and heads to Prometheus.
From the top of the elevator, Quinn can see a huge hurricane bearing down on CentAm.
Gem and Lu settle in to their new digs. Lu stashes his heavy weapons in the tiny closet that comes with the room. The locals notice and seem to like having someone like Lu around to protect them.
Quinn walks into a lavish office in the Messiah district of Nexus City. A bodyguard scans him, finding no weapons, then leaves Quinn alone with the man behind the polished wood desk. Marco Santoro accepts the black cube from Quinn, along with a transfer of 150,000 credits. Santoro comments on Quinn's skill as a pilot and his drive to win at any cost. Those are traits Santoro can use. Quinn doesn't like where this is going at all, but he keeps his trap shut and gives the boss all due respect. Santoro tells Quinn he'll be in touch soon.
Back in Enforcement Zone 11, the PDN blares a warning that a category 5 hurricane will hit Nexus City in a few hours. Citizens should shelter in place and evacuate all ground-level dwellings. Lu makes a good mule hauling the hab-dwellers meager possessions up to the 3rd floor. Gem and Lu discuss where they might go once they escape Terra: Luna first, then Ceres, or maybe all the way to Saturn. Gem has a romantic notion of commanding her own ship and becoming a corsair.
Not long after, the storm falls on Nexus City.
As the cyclone hammers the Atlantic coast of CentAm and biblical rain falls on Nexus City, people huddle in 3 very different shelters: Quinn chills in a very comfortable motel room near the spaceport, Tony works in the glow of his cyber slate in his more modest apartment midtown, and Gem and Lu pass time with their new friends in the hab-block as the sewers overflow and flood their building with meter deep brown-water.
Tony uses Gem's real ID to buy two tickets to fly to Paris, hoping that will throw Agent Walker off their scent. He digs into agent Argyle Walker an finds where the man is staying, out by the spaceport. Taking pains to disguising his own location, Tony calls the agent's motel room. Walker answers. Tony tells him Gem is on the move again and asks if Walker still prefers she keep breathing. He does, warns she needs to move quickly, her pursuers from Mars are in Nexus City and closing in.
Tony hears back from one of his contacts. They got Tony a meeting that might help him get off-world. As soon as the storm passes, Tony meets with none other than Marco Santoro. The boss knows Tony's father. Tony's dad can't come in from the cold yet, but Santoro promises to let him know his son is doing very well for himself. In fact, Tony's latest dive caught Santoro's attention. He thinks tony could do very well for himself out in the black, working with Santoro's associates. He's glad to help Tony and his friends get to Luna. He asks Tony to stay close to Miss Webb (Gem), she too might prove useful to his associates.
Santoro's office calls Quinn and gets him a nice corporate ground car to make the pickup. Quinn leaves to pick up Tony about 19:00. Tony calls Gem and tells her to grab Lu and get ready to leave Terra.
Gem and Lu wait for pickup in the hab-block's 3rd floor commissary. About 10 minutes before they expect pickup, Lu loads up all his gear and heavy weapons, then heads up to the roof to do a security sweep. He leaves Gem on the 3rd floor. From the roof Lu sees three young thugs crossing the street toward the building's front door. They carry beat-sticks. Lu fires a warning shot. The thugs rush the front door. Lu runs for the elevator and alerts Gem on their commlink.
They hear gunshots at the main door. Gem tells Tony what's going on. Quinn floors it, weaving through traffic on the highway and briefly losing control. He recovers and the company car screams down the highway.
Lu reaches the ground floor and when the elevator door opens he faces down one thug holding a shotgun.
@greymorn, again, great cyberpunk feel for Nexus City. The weather and challenges of getting up the "well" and off-world are woven in extremely well. Appreciate the update.
Scribe of the Adventure System
Lu and the thug take cover and trade shots. Lu can hear the other two thugs running for the stairs at the corner of the block. He shouts into his comm, telling Gem to haul ass for the back door.
Lu dashes from the elevator to the main hall that leads to the stairs, singeing Mr. Shotgun with his laser pistol as he goes, but he isn't fast enough to reach the stairs before the thug closes in. Lu is a sitting duck in the long, straight hallway and the thug hits him with a devastating shotgun blast in the back. Lu's high-tech defense screen collapses and the force of the blast makes him stumble, but he reaches the staircase and slams the door shut. Unfortunately, it's a primary fire escape so the door doesn't lock. Lu runs, this time leaving the thug in the dust. He goes up the front stairs, crosses the 2nd floor, and heads down the back stairs, finding himself just a few meters behind Gem.
Meanwhile, Quinn's reckless speeding has the attention of SecForce. He lets the prowler close in, then loses pursuit by suddenly veering off down an exit ramp.
As Quinn closes in on the hab-block, Gem runs out the back door of the building. A car that was waiting near the other corner of the building drives up and stops right in front of her. The window rolls down and a bounty hunter fires a venom-spitter point blank into Gem's midsection.
Lu reaches the doorway. The hunter opens the car door and takes cover behind it, leveling an SMG at Lu ...
Quinn tears around the corner, sees the situation ahead and makes a split-second decision: he rams the bounty hunter's car! The back end of the sedan crushes in and it fishtails. Gem barely dives out of the way, but the bounty hunter isn't so lucky. He is sandwiched by the body of the car and the car door and sent sprawling. His SMG skitters across the pavement.
Shaken but unhurt, Tony and Quinn take aim at the prone bounty hunter and yell for Gem to get in the car. But she's not moving. The paralytic poison from the spitter is taking its toll. Lu scoops up Gem in one arm. Quinn is jacked into his car and mentally commands the back doors to open. Lu dives into the back seat, covering Gem with his body.
Quinn closes the doors and burns rubber reversing down the street. He takes out a utility pole trying a bootlegger but ends up facing the right way, and they speed off before the stunned bounty hunter get get to his feet and retrieve his gun.
@scribe A few weird rule situations came up in this session.
1. More negative feedback on critical fails. They are too common (16%, 25% ... DnD peeps are accustomed to 5%) and they apply very unevenly. Many times a crit-fail is no big deal, but in some places the rules call for a major impact.
2. I totally spaced on the rules for toxins. Need clarification on how that all works. I ended up defaulting to GM fiat on poor Gem's condition. The rules for this are spread out all over the core book, too much flipping.
3. Weird but totally awesome when Lu took that shotgun blast. Did we do this correctly? The thug rolled a 12 and totaled 26 damage! We all thought Lu was a goner. His grade I screen absorbed (3+8) 11 damage before collapsing, leaving 15 for him to handle. He has Toughness d10 and an armored coat (+2/d6). He spent 1 Fate to soak and got a max on the d6, ending up with 17 and soaking it all! I guess he's just one tough bastard.
4. The crit fail was really harsh in the chase scene. Quinn has Drive d4 but he's jacked in so it's a d6. Even so, he crit failed 3 times during that chase. He didn't actually crash until he did it on purpose, but it made his PC seem really incompetent. Our consensus is that not being able to spend Fate and auto-failing is harsh enough. The extra "crit fail, you're screwed" doesn't fit given how common those rolls actually are. On the other hand, the Out of Control table was pretty fun.
5. When Quinn intentionally crashed into the bad guy's stationary car, none of us had a clear idea of how to handle it. We all agreed the ramming car should take much less damage than the car getting rammed. I ruled on the fly that they would take d6's and the target would take the full d10s. I let Quinn decide how many dice, since he had space to control the impact speed. He decided they would each take 3 dice. Quinn and Tony didn't take any damage thanks to the car's 4 Structure acting as armor, but the bounty hunter didn't get that benefit and had already used his actions for the round so he couldn't dodge. He took 5 wounds, not enough to be devastated, I just decided he was prone and stunned. Likewise I just decided Quinn and Tony were shaken even though they took no wounds. That all sat pretty well with everyone at the table.
Overall, I need to think more about vehicles and handling chase scenes. Your rules are fine for an occasional small encounter, but Quinn's core concept is a racer. We need more meat on the bones for that.
@greymorn, appreciate the feedback. Here are my responses:
1. Ultimately, most of the time the only negative, is you can't spend Fate on it. That is a critical gating factor that prevents the player's from never failing. Due to the nature of the system, rolling a "1" is the only alternative for a Critical Failure. The better you are the more the chance decreases. Most Critical Failures don't have a specified rule, so the referee can determine based on the situation if there is any negative impact. Respectfully, are you overusing it?
2. We held (and will) to a design principle where rules are only listed once in the Core Rules. That way if anything changes you don't run into consistency problems. The rules for Toxins are all on page 127. The other relative rules you are referring to are Statistic Damage (page 43) that is listed with Effect Damage as it can occur from multiple sources not just toxins. Crippled (page 38) is a condition listed with the other conditions. The toxins themselves are listed where referenced. For example, the toxins available for needlers are listed with needlers and aspiders toxin is listed with the spider. If we ever release a "Deluxe" edition, I would relocate the Toxin rules to Effect Damage. That all said, I would have had Gem getting shot with the venom spitter be entirely narrative; what does the story want to have happen here. To me, that is not scripting (really..), she is an NPC. I generally don't waste time on making rolls to see what happens to NPCs... While you are learning the system, you might find it helpful, using toxins as an example, to add what you need to remember to your game notes during preparation, so you don't need to look it up. For speed of play, I almost never look anything up if I don't absolutely have to; for the record, that tactic also applies to games (in the past) that I didn't design.
3. Very close. Here is the "official" recap:
- Thugs rolls a massive 26 damage.
- "If the screen suffers a Devastating Blow, the damage in excess of half its Durability penetrates the screen applied to the
wearer rather than the screen and the screen goes offline." It would have stopped 7 damage (Structure 3 + half Durability 8 or 4 = 7) and collapsed. Lu would take the remainder suffering 19 points of damage.
- Lu's Toughness for damage checks is 8 (passive Toughness 6 +2 armor); if he didn't make a soak check he would take a whopping 11 wounds.
- But he did soak (Toughness d10 +d6 armor die) and rolled a 17. This replaces his Toughness (above) as long as it is a more favorable result (soaking can't make things worse). Lu would have suffered 2 wounds.
4. This is all with intent and one of the areas where the result of a Critical Failure needs to be specified. The reason being, vehicle combat or a chase is supposed to be cinematic and fast; not endless and drawn out. Remember, just driving requires no skill and no checks. Once the shooting starts, its game on. When you get into combat maneuvers and operating at top speed, you are making operator (in this case Drive) checks and if you fail you go Out of Control. We considered having the Critical Failure require another operator check before going Out of Control, but - wherever possible - the rules don't call for or recommend multiple checks. It doesn't really make sense, reduces drama, and slows the game down which makes it less cinematic. Critical Failure = Out of Control = simple and fast. That said, the Out of Control table was carefully crafted. There is only an 8.33% of a major crash; a 66.6% chance of a change in position or speed; a beneficent 8.33% chance of automatically regaining control; and an 8.33% chance of taking some minor damage in a crash and losing speed (this was based on a d12, not 2d6; so the chances of hitting a 2 or 12 are even less). Regarding him seeming incompetent, I think that is a matter of perception. For example, he is in a chase or getting shot at and goes Out of Control (rolls a 3) and skids 5 yards to the left. Presume he then makes his Drive check to regain control. That is cinematic vehicle combat with continual action, not Quinn is incompetent. Also, it is intended to be very dangerous. If you only risked going Out of Control when your vehicle took damage, you would lose a massive cinematic aspect of vehicle combat and chases; they would be much less dramatic and, in fact, Quinn's skill would become far less important. You get a Critical Failure while trying to execute a high-speed combat turn under fire and... well... you just don't make the turn... oh, but what happens...?
5. Fair point. I think you handled it perfectly including the use of the conditions to reflect the crash. I'll think about adding some ramming rules to Outland. The Rundown rules in the Supers extra are a good template.
Regarding Quinn and Vehicle Combat and Chases, we have never found we needed more there. It is a pretty close to normal combat with the Vehicle Advanced Action replacing things like Charge. Anyone shooting still has all the normal options and, in fact, if they have a higher initiative rank than the target could Full Attack as they aren't likely to need their Defense as the operator is making the Defend checks. From a consistency perspective, it is never the intent to make some aspect of the game into a"mini-game". That tends to lead to slower and less cinematic outcomes. In general, vehicle action will be one of two things. Combat, which - whenever possible - involves all the characters or a chase which may only involve the operator. In either case, you don't want to drag things out and lessen the involvement of the other characters. Ultimately, Quinn is critically involved in either case as it stands. That said, if you come up with any ideas that strengthen the "cinematic" intent, I would be glad to look at them and add them into Outland.
Scribe of the Adventure System
@scribe Thanks for the reply. Can you give me a similar breakdown of how the venom-spitter shot should have been resolved? I've read the rules several times now and I'm not getting it. Who rolls? which dice? against what DN and with what result?
@greymorn, my pleasure (using Agent on page 70):
- Venom Spitter hits and the target fails to Dodge
- Agent inflicts Fortitude d8 +d4 damage; presume average result of 7 on damage check
- Unarmored Gem with a Toughness d4 suffers 4 wounds (7 less passive Toughness of 3)
- The damage check succeeded, so she is Shaken and suffers the effect of the toxin
- Paralytic Toxin (Toxicity 8; Potency d10; Athletics)
- (Toxins, page 127) The Toxicity sets the DN for Gem's Toughness check against the toxin at 8; she fails her resistance check
- (Toxins, page 127) The Potency sets the damage die; in this case a d10 against the affected statistic or Athletics
- (Statistic Damage, page 43) Presume Gem has Athletics d4, so her passive is a 3; Potency gets an average result of 6 inflicted to Athletics
- (Statistic Damage, page 43) The damage check succeeded, so Gem is Shaken again (no additional result, but - bear in mind - statistic damage might come from another source that is not already associated with inflicting damage; exposure and asphyxiation for example); the check exceeded her passive Athletics by 3, so her statistics is reduced one step (per 3 that exceed the DN) to Athletics d2
- (Toxins, page 127) The toxins effect is applied over three turns; the next turn she gets another Toughness check and again fails
- (Conditions, page 38) Presume another average damage check via the Potency of a 6 and the same result; this results in her Athletics d2 being reduced one step; a statistic reduced below a d2 is Crippled; Gem is paralyzed
Ultimately, we always give the toxin statistics where it is used; the Agent's profile for example. So, once you get a handle on Toxicity, Potency, and the three per step aspect of statistic damage, this goes pretty fast. The key element is, barring a Critical Success on the Toughness check, that the toxin is applied three turns in a row. As I stated before, I rarely roll anything for NPCs (meaning NPC v. NPC). I just make a reasonable call on what happens and focus the action on the players.
On another note, if you really want to take someone down, the Sedative toxin (page 61) is particularly nasty. It applies Stunned in place of Shaken and follows the same rule as stunners. If you are Devastated by being Stunned a second time, while still Stunned, say goodnight.
All of this, of course, is a balancing act between what the players might want to inflict on their opponents balanced with what could be inflicted on them.
Scribe of the Adventure System
Also, I wrote an article on Subdual options in the event it is helpful: http://adventure-system.com/subdual/
Scribe of the Adventure System