Project Aphelion Solo Play #040: Pocket Money

Is this the final blow we’ll going to deal d’Venescu? No. Does it have the potential to be the most fun? Yes.

In case this is not yet obvious, the protagonist of this story is basically a chaotic neutral warlock/rogue who wishes to be a wizard.


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Scenario 026: Pocket Money

Welcome to the ultimate dick move. If you remember from the previous episode, our nemesis, Anton d’Venescu, was working hard to scrounge some money for his Faction, before the month rolls over and he needs to pay his bills (mostly his medical bills, I assume). He has managed to do so, pocketing 10 Resources (50,000c) on May 28th, before moving on with his plan of destroying Aztechnology.

On May 28th, we have figured out how to steal his hard-earned money.

Tomorrow doesn’t hate d’Venescu – never hate your enemy if you can pity them. Will the pity stop her from completely destroying the blood mage, his alliances, his livelihood, and any hopes for the future? No. He has ruined Chloe’s life – he will go down. He might keep his life; Tomorrow is still somewhat on a fence about that.

Now, let’s see how we can best cause him grief.

We’re going to play to our strengths here, combining Investigative Scenario with a Social one, as the Crew taken for that Scenario consists of Tomorrow, Tonight, and two elementals. Aztechnology’s stealth deployment covers us with (median roll) 7 points of Concealment, which means we have a very nice start in the Scenario. Let’s generate it!

Scenario Generation

Here’s the plan: d’Venescu is an inpatient in Juzu Clinic, and this is where his Resources are stored: probably on certified credsticks in a safe in his room. We will break into the clinic, with Tonight running distraction duty in a Social part of the Scenario (having an ally spirit that’s your doppelgänger, but with social skills, is the dream, eh?), while Tomorrow sneaks into d’Venescu’s room and deals with the heist part. D’Venescu is not home, because he has been invited over to Dzitbalchen’s house for a sleepover and anti-Aztech project, which is just as well, as we wanted to avoid a face-to-face meeting.

For mechanical purposes, this is a Capture the Flag Scenario with a Race against Time Metascene/Finale. This means we need to get to the Payout then get out with it without getting spotted and/or captured – and we have only limited time to do so!

Payout: 8, pure cash we’re stealing from d’Venescu.

Threat Rating: Payout x5 = 40. Minus R5 (2) Crew of the Offense = 30. Minus 2 for 2 elementals = 28.

Legwork: Let’s use 1 day to run legwork, both Tomorrow and Tonight working for the same project. Tomorrow, Sorcery, 5v1=5. Tonight, Con, 5v2=5. Total 10/8, reducing the Threat by 10% of 28 = 3, taking the Threat down to 25 and nudging the complications roll 1 point towards the nearest extreme.

Scenario Rating: Payout + TR/5 = 8+5 = 13. Because I have a pile of d’Venescu intel that will soon become obsolete due to the lack of d’Venescu, I’ll spend 5 points to take down SR to 8, setting the Challenge in most MTs to 8. The default Rating for background Actors is R3, with 2 points of ablative soak/automarks (once they’re spent, they’re gone – and they get spent at the first opportunity: if we shot them, they’re soak; if they shot us, they’re automarks.)

Build Points: TR/5 = 5
Free Modules: 8 + 8 passages
Free Scenes: 8

We will be using the procedural generation rules to create the layout of the Juzu clinic for the heist part, and deal with the Social part as contextual sub-Scenarios run during the game.

We place the first module: Gateway. Gateways come with a drone Actor (Inv/Tech) marking every time it is used – unless it’s prevented from doing so. If the person is unauthorized, trigger a reaction from Security Defense Actors in the Scenario.

As we don’t have it yet, we create the second module: Service Space: Security Station, with half a median roll = 3 Security Actors (Inv/War) in it. The Security Station provides all Actors in the module and in the Finale with additional Investigative soak = 2 (SR/5). Additionally, it reinforces the Finale, providing it with soak and automarks equal to half the Payout.

After this, we let the procedural generation take over.

The next module we generated is a Passage – we’ll take it as one of the free passages (1/8). As we rolled, it’s a passage turning right, and as it doesn’t connect to any existing module, it spawns another Gateway (module 3), which would make a Security Station, but we already have one.

Next roll landed on a 7: Storage Module/Treasury (module 4), with a free Hardpoint in front of it. Hardpoint gets a free Inv/War Actor, running a Credential Check Task, provided with TR/5 = 5 of Resistance and Clout in this Task. The Storage Module gets half a median roll = 2 Inv/Sci Defense Actors and a median roll = 4 of Extras protecting the extra Payout: additional 10% times median roll = extra 50% = 4 Payout. Each of those 4 points adds a BP to to spent in the Finale.

Next roll created another Gateway (module 5), which is fun, because it means there’s a second entry to the Treasury Module, bypassing the Hardpoint.

Next roll gave us a Service Space (module 6), and the median roll has decided it’s a Comm Room, providing Actors in the module and in the Finale with 2 automarks in Social Focus. It gets half a median roll = 3 Defense Actors. It also provides the Finale with soak and automarks = Payout/2 = 4.

Next roll gave us a Hardpoint (module 7), so it looks like we just can’t catch a break here.

As we need the Finale module, it’s going to be the last we place (module 8), but we let the procedural generation decide what module it is: Social Space. Looks like the mage keeps his hard-earned money in a shared space, probably in some general-use safe box in the clinic’s recreational space for the inpatients. We’ll connect it with a passage/corridor to the Hardpoint we’ve just created. The module comes with half a median roll = 3 of Defense Actors, each of them having 2 extra Stamina points in the pools.

The basic structure for the Scenario is ready:

The interesting part is the three Gateways – there’s nothing stopping us from splitting the party and sending each of the characters to a different entry – Tonight taking care of the security guards in module 2 through a contextual Social sub-Scenario and Tomorrow sneaking into the clinic through a backdoor in module 5. This is exactly the kind of a thing she made a doppelgänger for, after all.

Next step: a metascene and the Finale! I’ve already mentioned we’re doing it as Race against Time – we need to rob d’Venescu before he comes home, basically. The time window is small: 5 + Payout = 13 intervals. I will additionally shorten it by 3, to just 10 intervals, spending 3/5 BPs. The Finale has a Challenge equal to SR, Resistance equal to Payout, and ablative Soak equal to half the Payout.

Next step: place Scenes. Every module comes with its own Scene, but we’re going to assume all Defense Actors are in a Passive mode, doing their jobs or loitering and we’ll generate the Scenes as we go through the Scenario. Why? Because I haven’t tested this yet.

Next step: spend BPs. We have 2 BPs to spend in modules and 4 extra to spend in the Finale. I’ll go through all modules and roll a median roll – if it scores a mark, then a BP is spent. There’s a Wit situational modifier in Module 2, raising the base difficulty by 1 – ouch, as that’s exactly where we’ll be running our distraction duty. In module 4A, the Checkpoint Actor gets a bump to R4, and the basic BPs are spent.

In the Finale, we need to spend extra 4 BPs, and they go into:

  • adding an extra Actor
  • introducing a +1 Stress modifier in the whole Scenario
  • adding a new Scene – I believe a Getaway would be appropriate, with a free default Actor keeping an eye on us
  • adding a new module! The dice have decided it’s going to be a Passage, connecting the Module 8 with, let me roll, with Module 5. If you could only hear my laughter now.


I like this Scenario so far. It’s not one I’d have generated on my own (I was always avoiding placing extra Gateways, as to not make it so obviously easy for myself to do the doppelgänger distraction trick), which means it’s a brand new challenge. Let’s see how we can get better prepared for it.
We’re taking Steven and Jade with us, which are still both only R3 elementals, but they’ll do. We’ll be most certainly summoning another Air Elemental to help out with Concealment power.

For the Investigative part, we’re putting Tomorrow in her stealth suit, which gives her 2 Res against active Lookout Tasks and 3 soak against active and passive Lookouts. We’ll borrow Chloe’s Overlay Bot for Stealth and take the Locksmithing Set with us, to provide us with Clout in Electronic Warfare, as we break into the safe or dismantle sensors. We’ll grab an extra InvisiCloak with us that will provide us with extra 3 points of Concealment when we need it. Tomorrow’s Driven trait will also be useful, if I stop forgetting about it.

For the Social part, Tonight’s First Impression will be of course useful, although it will cancel itself out with the Anarchist trait. We’ll take the Pheromone Emitter, to raise the Fam by 2. We will also put her in Tomorrow’s elegant suit and pretty jewelry, giving her 1 Res and 1 soak in Social Tasks and 4 automarks in society Social Scenes.

Other than that, I think we’re ready to go. Complications have a chance of messing everything up for us, of course.


T1:Scenario complications: 8v2=7/8. Oops. It will be very painful in interval 2.

Module 1: Gateway.
Tonight approaches the Gateway, doesn’t worry about the drone keeping track of the visitors and open the front door to the clinic, smiling at the guards sitting in their booth right behind the entry. TaB, because we want her in peak condition for what’s about to happen.


Module 5: Gateway.
Tomorrow and the elementals arrive at the Gateway under 7 points of Concealment due to the stealth deployment.

Tomorrow: MA Animate (Sorcery+1), 5v2=5 -2 soak = 3 vs R3 Drone -> controlled by Tomorrow (Conc 6). Move to the Passage to Module 8 (Conc 5). SP 8/8 MP 8/8
Steven: PA Concealment, 3v3=3 Res vs Lookouts for Tomorrow, Jade, and self (Conc 6). Move to Passage (Conc 5).
Jade: PA Concealment, 3v3=2 Res vs Lookouts for Tomorrow, Jade, and self (Conc 6). Move to Passage (Conc 5).
Drone: Ignores the passers-by, as its actions are under our control.

Scenario complications: 8v2=8 +7 = 15/8, 7 net.
Complications roll: 6, moved to 7 for legwork – 7 = 0, negative complications with magnitude = Payout + 50% = 12.
The Offense Actors suffer a comm glitch. Add Resistance equal to the magnitude to all the Social and Creative Actions they attempt for the rest of the Scenario. Attempts at alerting others or communicating using comms become a Main Task with Challenge equal to magnitude. Players can try using their Technical skills to fix the glitch in a Main Task with Challenge equal to magnitude.

Well, that complicates our doppelgänger plan, doesn’t it? With Tonight in Module 2 and Tomorrow in the passage to Module 8, they lost the communication and they need to focus on fixing it, instead of doing what they had planned. As Tomorrow is marginally better at the technical things, we’ll let her start.

Tomorrow: MA Electronic Warfare+1, 5v6=3 (Conc 4). MA Hacking+1, 5v8=2 (Conc 3). MA Electronic Warfare, 5v6=4 (Conc 2). PA Stealth+1, 5v2=+5 Conc (Conc 7). Move to Module 8 (Conc 6). SP 7/8 MP 5/8.
Steven and Jade: Sust Concealment. Move to Module 8 (Conc 4).
Tonight: MA Hacking+1, 5v9=1. MA Software+1, 5v9=2 (-> this makes 12, which means the glitch is removed!). MP 5/7. This leaves Tonight with just enough time and actions to say hi to the guards and trigger the contextual Scenario!

The contextual Scenario can be run alongside the physical one – it works on the same intervals. In this case, what we’re trying to do, is make sure the Security is busy, preferably removed from the Scenario completely. By drawing them into the Contextual Scenario, we’re effectively draining their mental actions. They’re not oblivious to the reality around them and if an alarm is raised while we’re chatting with them, they’ll go and investigate – but if we win, they will be effectively convinced to leave that one slide.

For all intents and purposes, the Payout of this Scenario equals the highest Rating of the Actors we’re dragging into the conversation +1 per each additional one, making it a Payout 5 and SR 5 Scenario.

So, as we’ve just triggered the Initiation Module of the Contextual Scenario, we’ll have Tonight spend her last mental action on a Diplomacy action card, as she chats up the security guards (MP 4/7). We establish the Familiarity of a godsdamn 10 (ah, those pretty spirit elves and their feminine wiles – or just plain luck). Now the Conditioning roll only happens if you revisit the module again, so this closes our proceedings for this interval – except from doing a TaB and restoring 2 points of Morale to Tonight (MP 6/7).

Back to Tonight, doing her thing. For the sake of convenience, we’re treating all Defense Actors as one ‘Defense’ with Rating = R3 +1 per each extra Actor, making them a R5 Inv/War Actor. Isn’t going to help them much in a Social Scenario (tertiary Focus, which means they only have 2 dice, 2 skill, 1 Res and 1 Clout, 0 soak and 0 automarks in it), but it does give them 3 MAs total, almost equating them with us. A reminder that in this module we not only have the +1 Stress mod, but also the +1 Wit mod, basically making a +2 mod for the purposes of a conversation. There’s also 5 Res in the Finale +1 for 1 Actor, reduced by 2 Career Clout, and 4 points of ablative soak. Defense in a Balanced Control mode, so they’ll use 2/3 MAs and chill with the rest.

However, we don’t give a damn and go straight for the throat, jumping for the Showdown/Finale.

Tonight: MA Ace in the Hole (Negotiation+1), 5v1=5 automarks for the next MT Task. MA Diplomacy+1, 5v5=3 towards MT +4 automarks +5 automarks -4 soak. MA Con+1, 5v5=3 towards MT. PA (2) TaB. MP 6/7.
Offense MT: 11/5

Defense: MA 2v1=2 -1 soak =1. MA 2v1=2 -1 soak =1.
Offense MT: 9/5 = Offense wins, scores the Payout of removing the three Defense Actors from the Investigative Scenario.

The Security Guards are completely enamored with Tonight, causing them to ignore their monitors and duties, while attending to the needs of this sweet young woman.


Now, it’s time for Tomorrow to steal what is there to be stolen in Module 8. There are four R3 Actors there, busy loitering, so let me generate them.

  • R3 Inv/Social – a security guard on a break. Aggressive Offense. Passive lookout.
  • R3 Sci/Social – a medic on a break. Aggressive Control. Passive lookout.
  • R3 Sci/Inv – a researcher on a break. Balanced Defense. Passive lookout.
  • R3 Tech/War – a paramedic driver on a break. Aggressive Defense. Passive lookout.

They’re all just chilling in the Social Space, but they do have 4 points of soak and automarks equal to half Payout – which isn’t going to matter until we interact with them or break concealment.

The Finale is a Main Task with challenge = SR (8), Resistance = Payout+1 (9) and ablative soak = Payout/2 = 4. What we need to do is to sneak past all of them. As they’re all on passive Lookout, each of them would reduce our Concealment pool by 1 in each interval, to a total of 4 – if our high-class stealth suit didn’t provide us with 3 points of soak against it, so they only take 1 from us each interval. As long as we *stay* in Concealment, we should be able to just ignore the lounging Actors and get to d’Venescu’s gear. Once we do (ie. succeed at the Finale Scene), we trigger the Getaway, with a R3 Actor in active Lookout – probably this security guard on a break.

Tomorrow: PA Stealth+1, 5v2=+4 Conc (Conc 10). MA AI (Sorcery+1), 5v2=4 Clout for Logic tasks (Conc 9). PA (2) TaB (Conc 8). SP 8/8 MP 6/8.
Steven and Jade: sustain Concealment, giving us 5 Res against active lookouts, idle otherwise (Conc 4).

Defense: Continues their passive lookout, as they have no reason to do anything else. Our Concealment drops to 7, elementals’ to 3.

Time to do the thang. Tonight is going to run the Offense Scene to take over the functionality of the Security Station for the Offense, which will:

  • remove the 2 points of soak and automarks that all Actors get in Investigative Tasks in Module 2 and in the Finale.
  • give us 2 points of soak and 2 automarks in Module 2 and in the Finale.
  • remove the 4 points of soak and automarks the Finale Scene gets – otherwise, we won’t have much success in our job.
  • give us 4 points of soak and automarks in the Finale.

As Tonight has already removed the Defense from this module, the Offense Scene is basically unopposed – just imagine Tonight continuing to flirt with all three guards at the same time, like the most charming person she is. With Fam 10, all her skills remove the Stress and Wit modifiers anyway, and her Career 2 Trait eats the Resistance of the MT, which means she scores 5 marks in every actions, easily scoring 10/8 in 2 actions and using a third one to run a Leadership+1 Task, 4v4=2, giving Tomorrow extra 2 points of Clout for Electronic Warfare with a ‘go-go-go’ signal.

Tomorrow: MA sust AI. MA Sciences+1, 5v3=4 towards MT +4 automarks -4 ablative soak (Conc 6). MA Electronic Warfare+1, 5v6=1 towards MT (Conc 5). PA Stealth+1, 5v2=4 +2 automarks = +6 Conc (Conc 11). PA TaB. SP 8/8 MP 5/8
Steven and Jade: sustain Concealment, giving us 5 Res against active lookouts, idle otherwise (Conc 3).
Offense MT: 5/8

Defense: Continues their passive lookout, but as we’ve given ourselves +6 Investigative soak, they can bite our 9-soak butt.

Okay, let’s finish this! We will not be going for the Treasury this time, as no extra points of cash or intel are worth potentially failing the Concealment in the Scenario (our 9 soak works only in the Finale Module!). The game actually got much harder, I admit. Not necessarily on the numbers side, but definitely on the planning side – you need to wage carefully what modules and scenes are worth completing and which you can afford to ignore – doing it all might not always be the best choice, especially in a Race against Time Scenario.

Believe me, this is the first time I’m leaving a Treasury untouched, because it would cost me at least 4 more intervals and greatly increased the probability of discovery.

Tonight: Stays in Module 2, making sure the Defense won’t take over (they wouldn’t, they’re “distracted” for the duration of the Scenario, but outside of the mechanics, it just makes sense). MA Leadership, 4v4=3 Clout for Tomorrow’s Palming. PA TaB.

Tomorrow: PA Palming+1, 5v8=0 towards MT (Conc 10). MA sust AI. MA Sorcery+1, 5v2=4 towards MT (Conc 9). MA Electronic Warfare, 5v6=3 towards MT (Conc 8).
Steven and Jade: sustain Concealment, giving us 5 Res against active lookouts, idle otherwise (Conc 3).

Defense: Continues their passive lookout, none the wiser that we just swiped d’Venescu’s credsticks from his coat.
Offense MT: 12/8 -> Offense wins, with 4 net marks -> and triggers the Getaway Scene.

Grabbing the credsticks was an act raising suspicion – enough to push the R3 Inv/Social security guard into Active Lookout. As an Aggressive Offense Actor, he’ll commit all of his available Actions to the Lookout, trying to pierce our Concealment. He has 3 dice, 3 skill, 2 Res, 2 Clout, 1 automark (+2 ablative) and 1 soak.

However, we and our 5 points of Investigative soak (the 4 from the Finale Scene are gone, but the 2 for the Investigative Tasks are for the Module, not for the Scene) aren’t particularly worried.

The MT for accomplishing the Scene equals 8 and the Defense is trying to see through our Concealment, but with the elementals keeping up the Concealment power and stacking extra 5 Resistance against the Lookout, we’re rolling 5v2 +2 automarks on Stealth while Defense is rolling 3v8 and gets hit with 5 soak each time, so he literally can’t score a mark, even with the ablative marks.

I declare the Getaway successful. The whole Scenario took 6 minutes, in and out. That’s what we can call a simple heist.

Wrapping Up

Payout: 8, we removed those from d’Venescu and added to our Faction’s resources. This means he has 4+1,075c and we have… uh… 23+4,900c. We’re a one rich witch.

Rep: +8 for Tomorrow and Tonight, scoring another 2 points of Influence

Familiarity: As it was done with Aztechnology and against their enemy, +1 mutually-beneficial project to Aztech. It’s a third in a row, which means we upgrade to Fam 9 with the megacorp. We’ve started at 4, if I remember correctly. We did not break Concealment in this Scenario (not anywhere it mattered, Tonight had every right to walk in and chat with the security, asking for directions to wherever), d’Venescu has no idea whatsoever who stole his money. Probably one of those people loitering around in the social space where he literally left his coat for, like, 10 minutes. He probably doesn’t use ‘like’ as a comma, but that’s on him.

Skill Learning:
Tomorrow: Sorcery +3, Electronic Warfare +2, Hacking +1, Stealth +4, Sciences +1, Palming +1
Tonight: Hacking +1, Software +1, Diplomacy +2, Negotiation +1, Con +1, Leadership +1

Scenario Consequences: Rolled an 8 +4 net marks, and we end up on positive consequences with magnitude = Payout + 50%  = 12! Then, a 10:
A new Faction moves into the Sector and opens a dialogue – their initial Project is beneficial to you with Payout equal to magnitude.
Oh, my favorite. Let’s see who they are.

No.NameRatingPrimary Focus, Behavior, & AssetsSecondary Focus, Behavior, & AssetsTertiary Focus BehaviorTrait
21History Colorado Museum3Creative (exclusive offense)
R2 (2) Crew
Investigative (beneficial offense)
R1 (1) Crew
(beneficial offense)Placating
add 2 priority to beneficial Projects resulting in improving Familiarity with a Faction with the lowest Familiarity.

Initial Familiarity: 5 +1 for First Impression = 6
Other Familiarity: Bug Spirits, 8

HUH. Well, I think Tomorrow has only done two ‘creative’ things in her life:

  • she sold an antique she borrowed from the person who found it for hard cash and the connection with Henequen
  • she instructed two people how to chant during a magic ritual

I don’t see the potential in the second one, but if we assume that Henequen has resold (or donated to a museum for a tax break) the Howling Coyote’s artifact, there’s a slight chance that one Miss Sarah James would be mentioned as the discoverer of the said antique, and maybe, potentially, hired for some other artifact-recovery jobs. As a start, they will run a beneficial project for us – I think what makes most sense is the Art Vernissage, which is a passive project generating Influence. We’ll take those 12 points, please and thank you, we’ll bask in the stolen glory of an antique-rescuing hero. We’ll use it well. They score those 12 marks in 5 days, which means that it will come into the play on June 4th. I’ll keep them in mind. For the sake of convenience, I’m gonna call them History Colorado Museum, which is a real museum in Denver and it looks pretty cool on the internet. We will specifically ignore their connection with the bug spirits until it blows up in our face.

End of the Month

The Scenario above happens on May 30th, which means we have 31st to account for – Tomorrow is still one day short of her proper shore leave, so that’s easy – I guess Tonight gets an extra day too, because I can’t be bothered to come up with anything new. But it does remind me that on May 20th we were supposed to cash in on 3 Payouts of cash from BBs’ Shadowmarket, so I’ll add it to the list of Resources.

Paying the Bills

Exactly what we were waiting for: time to pay the bills! We’ll pay for Fayette through our teeth, but I can’t be bothered to generate stats for her, so we’re just paying the standard price for a R2 Asset.

Gear Maintenance250010001800R2
Contacts Upkeep2300800600R2
Total Monthly6,100c2,800c3,700c2 Payouts
Scenarios / Projects9971
Deployment Costs90% of monthly Upkeep = 5,490c90% of monthly Upkeep = 2,520c70% of monthly Upkeep = 2,590c10% of monthly Upkeep = 1,000c
Facility UpkeepR3 Field Lab = 3,000c. R1 Ghostworks = 1,000c.
Total Faction Expenses37,200 = 7 cash payouts + 2,200c
Cash Left19 cash payouts + 2,700c

Guess who also has to pay the bills. Yes, this is what we were working for.

  • d’Venescu’s resources: 4+1,075c
  • d’Venescu’s expenses: 5 Payouts for himself + 2 Payouts for his bodyguard

Oh no, the math doesn’t add up. I guess he won’t pay for his own upkeep, which means he cannot be deployed until he can pay the bills. He pays his bodyguard’s paycheck, because otherwise he has no Assets to work with. This brings his Resources to 2+1,075c.

However, he still has himself as an Asset, which means his Faction switches from Warfare/Scientific to Scientific/Warfare, pushing the bodyguard into a Secondary Focus and halving the dice pool. He also draws a new behavior for the Scientific Focus, landing on Beneficial Offense, pushing Warfare into Exclusive Defense. He would love to co-operate with his ally Dzitbalchen, but he literally cannot afford to do so. So sad.

Coming Up!

As we roll into June, we get to see what’s up with this war we’re running. I have a feeling it will end in June.

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