Project Aphelion Solo Play #029: Operation Honeypot, part I

There’s just so much in here. A new month, three scenarios, a ton of consequences, preparing a massive Tower Defense Scenario, family drama… A lot. Welcome to Operation Honeypot.


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March 24th, 2056

‘You really should pick this up, you know. He’s been calling you all morning. They must be worried.’

Chloe peels her eyes away from the terminal’s monitor and looks at the ringing commlink without much interest. Her father’s LTG number stares back at her like an accusation, and she doesn’t appreciate this attitude. ‘If they were worried, they’d call you to check what happened, and they’d stop being worried.’

‘They did. I said you probably lost your phone in all the mess you made in my flat. He pretended to have bought it. Just pick up the damn phone, you sullen child.’

Chloe knows that her facial expression right now is the one of a sullen child, but she doesn’t care. If Sarah made peace with what their parents did to them, that’s fine. As far as Chloe’s concerned, they don’t deserve having any daughters. But her sister wants them to be a family – even as she’s starting to build her own, hopefully less toxic. How can she say ‘no’ to something so small as surviving a phone call? With a sigh, Chloe redirects the call to her terminal and finally accepts the connection.

‘What is it?’ They may be in contact, but there’s no reason why they’d be entitled to a friendly one. Her father’s expression quickly changes into a tense, carefully controlled smile at her abruptness.

‘Chloe… I’m glad to see that you’re okay. I wanted to talk to you about something important. I wouldn’t have called otherwise.’

She nods, forcing herself to keep her face neutral. Make the effort, asked her Sarah. The bare minimum, if nothing else.

‘I’m doing fine. What happened?’

‘Nothing yet. But there might. I’ve had some friends keep an ear to the ground and they’ve heard a lot about you. There’s a new group in Denver who is looking for you. Extensively. Turning every stone, basically, and making a lot of noise.’

‘We know. They won’t find me.’ There. That should be enough, shouldn’t it? She can see her father struggling desperately against his temper on the other side of the call and she fights to conceal a satisfied smile.

‘Chloe, listen – they really are bringing a lot of attention to themselves. And to you. The more they look for you, the more people will be interested in why. Which means, more people will start looking for you, if only to cash in on the finder’s fee. This is dangerous.’

Oh. This does catch her off-guard. It’s not something they anticipated, but it does make sense. She hates that it makes sense. But no matter how angry she is at her father, discounting his thirty years of police and military experience would be a mistake. They can’t afford mistakes, not when Fayette’s life is at stake. And yet… She so doesn’t want to ask for his help. Chloe looks at her sister and the pleading in her eyes is apparently clear enough to bring in the cavalry.

‘Hi, dad,’ says Sarah, sitting down on the bed next to her sister, so her face fits in the camera angle as well. ‘Sounds like a real issue. Thanks for pointing that out – we’ve taken enough precautions to make their job basically impossible. But you’re right, if they’re making enough noise to be heard in Dallas, it needs to stop. Any advice?’

The relief on their father’s face is so obvious, Chloe suddenly feels as if she were punched in the stomach. She doesn’t want this, but she’s happy for her sister who obviously does. And yet… Too much at stake, she reminds herself and smiles a bit, against her wishes and her better judgement.

‘Hey, Sarah. Good to see you. I can’t really give you any other advice than shut it down. The longer they dig, the more people will join to see what’s valuable. Obviously, I’m not telling you to do anything drastic – but you need to get rid of that investigation before it attracts vultures.’

‘Roger that, sir. We don’t want to compromise our hiding place, though – and any direct action would do just that. Assuming I don’t want to do anything drastic, what’s your professional opinion? Risk is acceptable, we’ve handled worse than a couple of clueless mooks.’ Sarah raises her hand before their father manages to react. ‘Figure of speech. I’m not ignoring the danger.’

‘I know you’re not. I know you.’ The words ring true and it feels wrong, but Chloe barely has the time to process that, before the next hit lands. ‘You’re smart and capable, Sarah. If you want my professional opinion, the investigation is dead, they just don’t know it. They’re running in circles and based on what you’ve said, their employer must be getting desperate – he’s been failing miserably for over a year now. They would follow the trail of even a sliver of data, and they’d follow it right where you want them.’

Sarah grins, the plan already formulating in her head. ‘Like bears to the honey.’

‘Exactly.’ Their father responds with a smile – a genuine one. ‘See what makes them tick, set up a honeypot, shut the trap, deal with the problem on your terms.’ He hesitates for a moment, then plows through. ‘Sarah – just remember that they’re not the real enemy. They might not even know they’re doing anything illegal. They don’t need to be harmed.’

‘I’m aware,’ she retorts, suddenly annoyed. ‘Why do y’all expect me to go on a murderous rampage? It’s not like I… You know what? Never mind, forget I ever told you anything.’ Sarah straightens her back and looks at their father with a curious mix of disappointment and defiance. ‘Yes, sir, obviously they’re not the real enemy. Thank you for your expertise. We’ll lure them, we’ll trap them, we’ll show them that they’re seriously underpaid and underprepared for the job at hand. If they don’t know that they’re doing something illegal, we’ll let them know. We’ll deal with the problem. You really don’t have to tell me not to kill people.’

Here it is, thinks Chloe. Here’s how deep this family bonding goes. It’s the same shit as always.

‘I’m just… Sarah, I know what kind of people are around you. I don’t want you to lose your footing again. You deserve better than this. I know that you’re very much in love and your boyfriend…’

‘Fiancé, actually. Got engaged a couple days ago.’

Boom. Chloe’s stifles a laugh as she looks at their father – so painfully, so obviously at loss for words. What now, sir? Is she grounded? How is she going to be punished? What will you try to take away from her this time?

The silence stretches, and Sarah’s smile grows colder and paler. After a ridiculously long pause – it couldn’t be more than ten seconds, but it felt like a decade – she adds: ‘You have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to wish me best luck. I suggest you take it. Might not get another.’

‘Congratulations, Sarah,’ he says finally and it’s clear that it costs him everything. ‘I hope you’ll be happy and don’t ever grow to regret that choice.’

Sarah nods politely, but her back is rigid and her fists clench the bedsheets off-camera in a so well-known gesture of absolute, helpless frustration. ‘Thank you, sir,’ she answers in a perfectly level voice. ‘I think I’ll be very happy with somebody who doesn’t automatically assume the worst possible thing about me. And thank you for the birthday wishes. You don’t have to call tomorrow. The contact line isn’t really that safe.’

‘We’ll call you when it’s necessary,’ adds Chloe and cuts the connection before their father has a chance to react. It’s petty, she knows. But hell, he deserves petty.

Sarah sighs, lets go of the bedsheets and falls flat on her back. She stares the the ceiling, her face so carefully neutral, that Chloe is almost sorry she was right. 

‘For what it’s worth, I’m happy for you,’ she offers, lying down next to her sister. ‘Adam and you make a great couple. And dad is… Himself. Nothing new here.’

‘Why do I keep hoping for it to change…? Argh,’ Sarah enunciates the groan precisely. ‘I’m so stupid sometimes. But feelings aside, old man’s not wrong. We gotta deal with this investigation. Are you willing to risk it?’

‘Well, I can’t hide for the rest of my life. Might as well do it. Dad’s a total asshole, but he wouldn’t suggest it if it didn’t have a high chance of success.’

‘Cool. I’ll start the prep work. It won’t be easy, but…’ 

‘We got this,’ assures her Chloe. ‘You are smart and capable, even if the manipulative prick also thinks so.’

‘That’s some messed-up reverse psychology.’ Sarah laughs and finally relaxes. ‘Thanks. I am so damn happy to have you back, you know? I hope soon we’ll both be able to just live our fucking lives.’

Chloe joins her in laughter. ‘We already are living our lives. Away from them. Away from prisons, one kind or another. Not everything is perfect, but believe me – it is so much better. Now, let’s set up those honeypots, snares, and deadfalls, so I can have my girlfriend back and go with you on double dates.’


Scenario 16: Operation Honeypot

This will be an entirely different Scenario than all previous ones. This time, we’re in the Defense, and we’re building this Scenario for our benefit! As you’ll see, the Scenario Generation system works perfectly well with the roles reversed, and we still will face our massive Resistance in the Finale to achieve our goals. It won’t be easier than being the Offense – it will be much different, though.

The basic premise: d’Venescu’s Investigative Crew is circling around Chloe, and while they make no progress due to Crowley running interference, this is a potential threat. For example, if Aztechnology decides to remove d’Venescu’s Social asset, his Faction will switch to Investigative as the primary focus, giving the Investigative team 5 dice instead of 3 – more than we can soak! Or, with the new month approaching, Crowley might decide he’s done with this interference, and we’ll find ourselves with our hand in a nasty, stinky, wet place.

We do not want them to succeed. We want to remove them from the game – preferably not by killing them, just by informing them that they’re underpaid and underprepared for this job. Which would make them abandon ship.

For weeks now, they made no progress in their investigation, which makes them a prime target for a tiny bit of a honeypot trap.


Scenario Generation

What we’re attempting here, is a Tower Defense Scenario. Usually, the legwork we’re doing is supposed to make the Scenario easier – in here, it’s making it harder. Threat Rating is basically reversed – each point reduces the Scenario Rating by 1, cutting our number of available Build Points and reducing the Rating of the default Actors.

Payout: 14. First, we want to remove R3 Crew from the game, which costs us 6 points of Payout. The 8 left, we’ll cash in as intel about d’Venescu. If we get it, we’ll use it to finish off the first stage of taking him down a notch and reducing his Faction to R4.

Legwork: Works the same way as usual. I got finally reminded that my sources of Clout still apply in the Legwork phase, which changes the calculations a bit, to my benefit.
Tomorrow, Sorcery, 5v1=5.
Chloe, Hacking, 6v3=6.
Tonight, Con, 5v5=3.
Total 14, 0 net. Took one day, March 24th. We’ll raise it up in a moment.

Threat Rating: Scenario rolls 14v3=11. TR = 3 (for R3 Crew) + 6 (half marks). This means that the Scenario Rating would go from 14 down to 5, and Defense would get 9 points of Clout everywhere we normally have Threat-Rating introduced Resistance, like Hardpoints.

That would be awful. This won’t stand. To fix this situation, we will delve deep into our Faction’s Resources. That’s why we’ve been collecting them, after all. To remove 9 points of Threat Rating, we need 17 net marks on our legwork task. A bit too pricey, so instead, we’ll reduce it by 6, paying for 11 net marks. Steep price, but one I’m willing to pay.

We’ll throw into this:

  • 2 points of d’Venescu-connected intel
  • 3 points of Fayette-connected intel
  • 3 points of magic research intel (all that magical security expertise comes in handy)
  • 3 points of general-use influence

There you go, a whooping 11 points of Resources pumped into a Scenario with Payout 14. After Deployment Costs, we won’t really be making much on this – but we’ll put 14 points into our main campaign tracker and cripple d’Venescu, and that’s the point.

This means that Threat Rating equals 3. As we’re playing the Defense, for all intents and purposes, it equals negative 3.

Scenario Rating: Payout + TR = 14 + (-3) = 11. Default Actors R4.

Free Modules: 14 + 14 Passages
Free Scenes: 14
Build Points: 11

We’re not going for strictly physical modules here. Instead, we’re dragging the Offense straight into the honeypot of data, while they think they can get their payout (as they’re supposed to have Payout 14 here too, it’s equivalent to finishing their Payout 9 investigation, ie. finding Chloe + robbing us of 5 Payouts worth of cash, why not. Let’s gamble.)

The Offense is a R3 Investigative Crew. As the rating of the crew equals the sum of Career ranks, this might be one person, two or three. To establish that, I’ll roll 3d10 and count the marks, just like I’m doing with other Assets. I scored 1 mark in the first roll and 1 in the second, leaving me with 1 to spare = this means we’ve generated three Actors at R4 (default for the Scenario). If I scored 3 marks, that would mean one Actor, at Rating (default +2). You get it. We don’t know their exact focuses or behaviors – we’ll learn that during the Scenario – unless we run an extra investigation into this (we might).

I could draft the modules and defenses now, but we’ll get to it in a moment.


Scenario on the Fly

Each of the Offense Actors will come equipped with 4 dice, 4 skill, 4 Resistance, 4 Clout, 2 soak and 2 automarks for Investigative actions (and half of that for their secondary focuses). That’s a lot, and we need to shoot them down. We can’t let them run rampant in the Scenario, but building up Resistance won’t give us much – instead, we need to equip ourselves with a lot of Clout, which will allow us to take down Offense and win in the Scenario Finale.

The Finale comes with 14 Resistance, we can generate about 5 from Artificial Intelligence spell, plus Tomorrow’s 2 on Magician skills, 2 from Driven and extra 1 on Sorcery… Let’s find ourselves a way of getting extra 4 points of Clout – enough to overcome the Offense’s Resistance.

This is a quick Scenario on the Fly run by Tomorrow (a R2 Actor) for Payout 4. First, we need to run the Project to set it up. Rolling 1v4, it takes us 5 days (by March 29th), then we quickly resolve it with legwork (by March 31th) and Scenario itself (April 1st).

R2 Crew: 2 dice, 2 skill, 2 Resistance, 2 Clout, 1 soak, 1 automark. Scenario Payout 4.

Legwork: 2v4=2+2 +1 automark, 1 net.
Threat Rating: 4v7 = 1 (-1 soak) + 2 (-1 soak) = 1. TR 1-1 = 0
Challenge: Payout + 0 = 4.

Tomorrow needs to score 4 marks as Offense. She’s rolling 2 v 6 – 2 (Skill) + 4 (Payout Resistance) – 2 Clout = 2v6, and she comes in with 1 automark. Scenario rolls 4 v 6 – 1 (number of Actors) + 2 (Resistance) = 4v7, and gets hit with 1 point of Soak each interval.

T1: Offense: 2v6=2 + 1 automark = 3. MT 3/4. Defense: 4v7=3 -1 soak = 1. MT 1/4
T2: Offense: 2v6=2. MT 3/4. Defense: 4v7=0 -1 soak = 0. MT 3/4
T3: Offense: 2v6=1. MT 4/4. Defense: 4v7=2 -1 soak = 1. MT 3/4
T4: Offense: 2v6=0. MT 3/4. Defense: 4v7=1 -1 soak = 0. MT 3/4
T5: Offense: 2v6=2. MT 5/4. Defense: 4v7=2 -1 soak = 1. MT 4/4
Offense wins with 0 net marks.

Scenario consequences: median roll 7, no consequences.

So, by March 31st, we are ready to build the Honeypot, and all of the Defense Actors in it, our Crew included, will have extra 4 points of Clout in it. Tomorrow also gets her +4 Rep.


Crowd Control

With Tomorrow busy generating extra Clout for us, we have a couple days to set up the battlefield.
First, our Ghostworks Facility, as you remember, is running a False Flag project as we pretend to be Aztechnology. This thing is still very much in order and this is where we cash in.

Second: Tonight will get busy with a Social investigation, trying to learn as much as she can about the d’Venescu’s Investigative Crew. For that, she needs to run a project with Challenge equal to Rating of the Asset to get an answer to the who-dunnit and what-for. (Yes, I know that d’Venescu just hired them through a Hiring Board. Tomorrow’s Faction doesn’t get this knowledge for free.) Rolling 1v5, she scores the required 3 marks in 4 days (by March 28th). This is when we learn that:

  • They have been hired to find Chloe as mercenaries, though a third-party hiring board (or, more likely, a fixer).
  • They have no other reasoning behind it than just being paid.

I would normally roll for those answers, but we already have those established. Instead, I’ll roll for the project consequences! And I actually rolled an 8, so we’re getting a freebie with magnitude 3.

The target Faction appreciated your efforts and invited to a diplomatic meeting to establish relations. The initial Familiarity equals magnitude. If caused by hostile move, the target Faction’s most hostile competitor appreciated it.

It was, technically, a hostile move. Now, we need a most hostile competitor of d’Venescu. This is, obviously, Aztechnology – but we already know them. Next up is Crowley, and we already know them. Next up is Dzitbalchen… But the dragon and d’Venescu are working together, aren’t they? They are on neutral terms… I’m on the fence here. Odds vs evens, whether it’s the dragon or a brand new Faction, then!

It IS a new Faction! Oh boy. A new piece of the puzzle. Let’s go.

Faction Rating: 9v6=2! That’s not much bigger than us!
Primary Focus: Social (Beneficial Defense)
Secondary Focus: Technical (Exclusive Defense)
Other: (Beneficial Growth)
Trait: Placating Faction, adds 2 priority to beneficial Projects resulting in improving Familiarity with a Faction with lowest Familiarity.
Assets: R2 Social Crew (1 person)
Connections: d’Venescu, Fam 3. Us, Fam 3.
Name: Irene Woods. 77 year-old, clinical manager.

But whyyyyy? I don’t know and I don’t have to. Emergent gameplay, yo.

Median roll = 9, they’re motivated by friendship. They honestly think they’re helping a friend, whether the friend wants it or not. And who they are in regards to the story? Median roll = 2, they’re connected to a background Faction that hasn’t played an important role in the campaign so far.

Now, looking at the list, it leaves us: Henequen, Doc Harmon, Crowley, or Ancients – with a quick roll, we end on Doc Harmon. I think the clinic has found a rather roundabout way of fixing the relationship with their landlords – through connecting us with an acquaintance of Doctor’s and hoping that Tomorrow’s good word is enough to make Wheeler not evict them. Harmon’s Familiarity with Irene equals 4.

As they’ve already invited us to a diplomatic meeting, we can make it into a quick Scenario with a Payout of 3, to raise the Familiarity from original 3 to 6. Tonight is a R1 Actor, but for the purposes of the Scenario, she comes in as R2 anyway, so.

R2 Crew: 2 dice, 2 skill, 2 Resistance, 2 Clout, 1 soak, 1 automark. Scenario Payout 3.
Legwork: 2v4=2+1 automark, 0 net.
Threat Rating: 3v7 = 0. TR 0
Challenge: Payout + 0 = 3

T1: Offense: 2v6=1 + 1 automark = 2. MT 2/3. Defense: 3v7=0 -1 soak = 0. MT 2/3
T2: Offense: 2v6=0. MT 2/3. Defense: 3v7=1 -1 soak = 0. MT 2/3
T1: Offense: 2v6=2. MT 4/3. Defense: 3v7=1 -1 soak = 0. MT 4/3
Offense wins, with 1 net mark. Tonight collects +3 Rep

Scenario consequences: 8+1=9, magnitude 4. Median roll = 6.
A Faction appreciated your efforts and proposed a Think Tank Project with payout equal magnitude.

Well, we’ll take it. If Irene Woods, the elderly clinic manager, honestly thinks she’s helping a friend by delivering us intel about d’Venescu (4 points of it!), I think I know how she’s connected to the whole shindig. And I’m looking forward to throwing some more of the original Ivy & Chrome adventure into this. Because there’s a perfectly fitting angle for what has just happened. We’ll get to Irene after we’re done with the Honeypot, for reasons (of moving on with the story, mostly).

Irene delivers her 4 points of intel to us, rolling 2v4=2+2, and completing the job in 2 days (by April 1st). There are no further consequences.

On the last day of March, as she’s got nothing else to do, Tonight is going to try and get us that Wit Training Facility, scoring 3rd mark out of 6.


Hackers gonna Hack

That leaves us with Chloe, who has found herself with 7 days that she can spend doing something useful. What we will have her do, is chipping away at the main quest, trying to secure more information now how to safely retrieve Fayette. I think she can pull off a Payout 4 Scenario, gifting us 4 points of intel about Fayette and +4 to the main campaign counter.

R2 Crew: 2 dice, 2 skill, 2 Resistance, 2 Clout, 1 soak, 1 automark. Scenario Payout 4.
Legwork: 2v4=1+0+1+1 +1 automark, 0 net.
Threat Rating: 4v7 = 1 (-1 soak) + 2 (-1 soak) + 1 (-1 soak) + 2 (-1 soak)  = 2. TR 1-0 = 1
Challenge: Payout + 1 = 5.

Chloe needs to score 5 marks as Offense. She’s rolling 2 v 6 – 2 (Skill) + 4 (Payout Resistance) – 2 Clout = 2v6, and she comes in with 1 automark. Scenario rolls 4 v 6 – 1 (number of Actors) + 2 (Resistance) = 4v7, and gets hit with 1 point of Soak each interval.

T1: Offense: 2v6=2 + 1 automark = 3. MT 3/5. Defense: 4v7=2 -1 soak = 1. MT 2/5
T2: Offense: 2v6=1. MT 3/5. Defense: 4v7=2 -1 soak = 0. MT 2/5
T3: Offense: 2v6=0. MT 2/5. Defense: 4v7=1 -1 soak = 0. MT 2/5
T4: Offense: 2v6=1. MT 3/5. Defense: 4v7=3 -1 soak = 2. MT 1/5
T5: Offense: 2v6=1. MT 2/5. Defense: 4v7=1 -1 soak = 0. MT 2/5
T6: Offense: 2v6=1. MT 3/5. Defense: 4v7=0 -1 soak = 0. MT 3/5
T7: Offense: 2v6=1. MT 4/5. Defense: 4v7=0 -1 soak = 0. MT 4/5
T8: Offense: 2v6=2. MT 6/5. Defense: 4v7=1 -1 soak = 0. MT 6/5

Offense wins, with 1 net mark. Chloe gets +4 to her rep tracker, we net 4 points of Fayette-intel, and the main campaign tracker grows to 64.

Consequences: rolled a 9 +1, so a positive consequence of magnitude Payout +2 = 6. Median roll = 7.

A Faction appreciated your efforts, and gifted you information about a potential next Scenario with Payout equal magnitude. If caused by hostile move, the target Faction’s most hostile competitor appreciated it.

We were basically doing a self-beneficial Scenario, not even against anybody, so I suppose we’re the Faction who has gifted itself with information about a potential next Scenario – which means we don’t need to run a project to find it. We’ll take care of that one after the Honeypot.

In any case, Chloe has spent 4 days preparing this short Scenario, then 4 more on legwork (because she was rolling like a blob), and 1 more on running it, which brings her calendar to April 2nd, and makes April 3rd the earliest date when we can pull off the Honeypot.

Chloe has also picked up some skills in the latest Scenario we’ve played, so quickly:
(Teaching +1, 3v4=2) Hacking 4, 6v7=1/4 (by March 30th)

To synchronize the calendars, Tonight runs her Wit Facility project on April 1st and 2nd, scoring 1 more mark (4/6). Tomorrow has April 2nd unaccounted for, so she’ll take a day off. We had her miss her own birthday on March 25th, because we were busy, so we’ll let her have that one.


Meanwhile, the Villain

Last we left off, d’Venescu’s Social Crew had time off. On 25th March, they get back to work. This is just after the Ghosts and the Machine Scenario Aztechonolgy has run against them, destroying precious data and causing all kinds of distress. The Investigative Crew is busy looking for Chloe and nearing towards our Honeypot. The rented Facility is providing the Investigative Crew with Warfare Resistance.

What should the Social Crew do, to honor their Excessive, but Exclusive Defense? Probably put all eggs in one bloody basket and run a Social Engineering project for the Investigative Crew, providing them with Social Clout for all Projects and Scenarios for the duration. The project they’re running has Payout 3 (I rolled for it), and they’re finished within one day – from 25th March onward, the Investigative Crew gets extra 3 points of Social Clout in Scenarios. This incurred the standard deployment costs, so he’s down to 31+4,325c.


How Is It April Already?

Well, that was more eventful than I expected. Stuff just keeps happening, if you let everybody in the party do their things. I might cut down on that at some point if it becomes too much to handle, but as I’m playing this solo and for my own amusement, I don’t mind having multiple plates in the air.


Faction Expenses

We didn’t buy new gear; the only change from the last month is +6 total contact ranks for Tomorrow (+1 Wheeler, +1 Raven, +2 Salazar, +2 Caw-Caw) and Tonight and Chloe having enough days off to offset deployment fatigue.

TomorrowTonightChloe
Necessities120010001100
Gear Maintenance300010001100
Contacts Upkeep1900800600
Luxuries000
Total Monthly6,10028002800
Scenarios Played443
Cost of Scenarios12,20056004200
Facility CostsR1 Field Lab = 250. R1 Ghostworks = 250. R1 Frame = 500
Total Faction Expenses23,000 = 4 cash payouts + 3,000c
Cash Left8 cash payouts + 3270c

On April 1st, we also net that 1 point of magic research intel from out Field Lab.


Meanwhile, the Villain

We got bills to pay, d’Venescu has bills to pay. I had him pay deployment costs as we go, so I don’t have to keep track of them, but he still needs to pay the monthly upkeep costs. His R3 Social Crew costs him 3000c. His hired R3 Investigation Crew costs him 3 Resources. This brings his Faction Resources down to 28+1,325c. He started with 50 not that long ago, so I’d say our mission of bleeding him out works pretty well indeed.


State of the World

Oh shit, here we go again. We’ve been so busy, the time just flew between our fingers.

  1. Aztechnology‘s previous project, establishing a Trade Route between Shadowmarket and Aztlan Sector, has failed when d’Venescu has removed their Social Crew from the game. They’re left with a R2 Scientific Fleet. As they did already pay the blood mage back for his (un)provoked attack, they’ll focus on rebuilding their Faction by getting more assets.
  2. Henequen, ever since he appeared in this campaign, has been upgrading his garrison (up to R3) and looking for new art pieces. Finally, he has succeeded and as a result, he has raised the Rating of another Faction’s Asset by 1. Well, in the last two months he has run two projects with Cutters to the mutual benefit, so we’ll raise Cutters’ Warfare Crew to R3 as the effect of this. Wheeler’s life really becomes easier through those Henequen projects. Now, the dragon’s primary focus is Warfare and in a Hostile Defense behavior… Why not Provoke Response from the Faction on lowest Familiarity – which is the lately weakened Aztechnology? If there ever was a moment to move against the megacorp, it’s right now.
  3. Cutters were busy building up wealth and commerce. The project has failed, and in the effect, they need to reduce the Rating of an existing Asset by 1. We’ll reduce the Rating of the Barracks – they’ve been so focused on the commerce lately, that their Warfare Assets are losing their edge. Wheeler, no matter how happy he might be personally, doesn’t like this loosening of discipline, and will try to establish a Command Center – a new Facility – to bring it all into shape.
  4. Hellhounds are still focusing on rebuilding the Faction and bringing in more resources. You don’t build a business in a day – or even two weeks.
  5. Doc Harmon is still doing what he was doing. He blimped on the radar last month, but is still a background Faction.
  6. Crowley is thankfully keeping a steady course and still providing us with that lovely 3 points of soak against investigative projects.
  7. Phase has failed in her project to hunt down the Hive Queen and the Insect Shaman. As an effect, we get to create a new Freelance Crew in the area – they are a R5 Scientific/Investigative Crew, ready to be hired by some Faction. Meanwhile, Phase switches to a new project. As a Hostile Offense Investigative Faction with an Excessive trait, she just goes all-in and decides to run a full-time interference against anything the bug spirits might be doing.
  8. Ancients are still waiting for a chance to be a part of the story.
  9. ALOHA was trying to recruit a new Crew and they succeeded. Not only are they getting a R1 Warfare Crew, they also get another asset at R1. Why not a R1 Crew for their secondary, Scientific focus? As a Vindictive Faction, they will want to enact their revenge on us / the Cutters, so they will prepare to do so. We’ll check in on them next month.
  10. Yakuza is still infiltrating ALOHA. Honestly, who cares at this point?
  11. Green Bishops are in the background.
  12. Zacualtipan was scheming along – which is all the notes I possess on the subject. However, she has failed, probably against her brother – and raised another Factions’ Asset Rating by 1, giving Dzitbalchen a freebie of bumping his Intelligence Center to R2. So now, she will just do what she’s best at, embrace her Beneficial Offense behavior and organize a PR Campaign, providing us with Payout 4 worth of Social Focus for projects.
  13. BBs have essentially failed at establishing their trade relationship with the Cutters, because damn gangs can never just get along. In effect, they raised the Rating of another Faction’s Asset by 1. As they’ve only ever dealt with us and the Cutters, we’ll toss for it. With odds, we’re getting a freebie! Why, thanks. They are a Social/Warfare Faction… Let’s say that the money we’ve made on the Shadowmarket let us raise the Field Lab up to 2. While they are a Placating Faction, we’ll put them into a Bidding War against Cutters, because they already have the Trading Post for it. Also, neighborhood drama.
  14. Bug Spirits have succeeded (by rolling three 10s, so they succeeded so hard) in their project of Mind Mining Phase’s network and as an effect, they got to raise the Rating of an existing Asset by 1. They now have a R3 Crew and they’re growing stronger every time we look in their direction. And they will continue to grow, because this is what they do.
  15. Hawai’ian Cutters are doing what they did, vaguely working on keeping ALOHA as a client.
  16. D’Venescu is continuing with his projects, and does not consider his investigation failed just because they made no progress.
  17. Dzitbalchen was collecting intel against his sister and preparing himself for a big strike. He has succeeded and lowered Familiarity with her by 1. His Intelligence Center is still providing d’Venescu’s Crew with Concealment – as it matters now, I’ve rolled for Payout – they get deployed with 4 Concealment points.
  18. Alp Group, Tomorrow’s more or less employer, are still establishing themselves on the market.
  19. Irene Woods… Ah, who cares.

I have too many Factions in this game. Unless something super important happens, next month we’re moving Doc Harmon, Ancients, ALOHA, Yakuza, Green Bishops, Hawai’ian Cutters, Alp Group, and Irene Woods into the background. My familiarity matrix is currently 20 by 20, and it’s a lot of a table to cross-reference, y’all.

To sum up:

  • Aztechnology is about to be attacked by Henequen, but d’Venescu isn’t going against them directly. Well, we probably shouldn’t go against them, pretending to be d’Venescu… That would be a very bad idea… But, should d’Venescu poke the Azzie bear again…
  • The trade relations between Cutters and BBs are going down the drain and the warfare is back on the table – not yet to be used, it’s there. Wheeler is dissatisfied with the level of strategic preparedness of his local mini-army and he’s going to work on raising their Warfare usefulness – which might come in handy if the problems with BBs continue. Spoiler alert: Wheeler likes the situation unstable – it makes life more fun for him. Also nobody from the Cutters above him wants to take over a business that’s bringing good money but is in a constant state of turmoil. It’s a precarious and carefully cultivated state of balance, giving Wheeler a total control over the area.
  • We still have our investigation soak from Crowley, which is good, because d’Venescu is doubling-up on the offense. Taking out his hired Crew will be a big hit to his Faction, not only because he will need to hire a new one – ideally, we’ll throw him into an unending, spiraling series of retaliation strikes between him and Aztechnology.
  • The conflict against Phase and the bug spirits keeps going terribly wrong for the runner. She’s not yet up against the wall, but she’s doing literally all she can to run interference against their projects, and they still manage to win. Phase will need help.

Are we done here? I think we’re done here.


Coming Up

This post is getting way too long, and the Scenario won’t be short either. We’ll get to it in the next episode!

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