Project Aphelion Solo Play #046: Best Friends Forever

It’s high time to sort out the situation in the Warrens and restore the natural order of the Universe: with Tomorrow being on top of any pile, Wheeler at her side. At least she considers it the natural order of things. Other people might not agree, but they’re not the protagonists here.


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Test the Waters

As a quick reminder from the last episode, we’re starting a consequence-generated Payout 75 Complex Scenario / Mini-Campaign with a general narrative payout of securing Tomorrow’s and Wheeler’s independence in the Warrens. For this, we need to extract him from the CIA, make sure the feds don’t hate us, find an influential ally (Ares Firewatch), and quietly take over all Cutters’ Assets. We’ve split the Scenario into smaller chunks, with pieces ranging from Payout 1 to Payout 15:

  1. Payout 10 negotiations with CIA
  2. Payout 15 Wheeler’s extraction
  3. Payout 12 social/political maneuvers to get back to Fam 10 with CIA
  4. Payout 3 military interlude
  5. Payout 7 forging the best-friends-forever connection to Firewatch
  6. Payout 6 extraction of Hellhounds
  7. Payout 9 extraction of Cutters’ gangers
  8. Payout 3 extraction of the Fleet
  9. Payout 3 extraction of the Barracks
  10. Payout 3 extraction of the Command Center
  11. Payout 3 extraction of the Habitat / Best Western
  12. Payout 1 Finale of the Complex Scenario with a Godfather-like wedding scene, I guess.

Some of them need to happen in a specific order (1-2-3), some are supposed to be at the end (12), but others are more flexible. However, we can’t just jump into the ocean and start swimming. We’ll need to be quiet and smart about it, with Scenarios on the Fly, projects, and spending Resources in between, to pull off everything without a hitch. Scenarios 1 to 3 are obviously going to be the hardest; as contextual Scenarios / negotiations, they’ll get 10-15 dice against us. Thankfully, this time we’ll have more than just 1 character on our side – and we have a lot of intel to spend.

What we’ll need very soon, is an Intelligence Center, an Investigative Facility allowing for a variety of useful projects. But what we’ll need much sooner, is to use an Intelligence Center to cover our search of an Intelligence Center – which means this is the moment we cash in on the use of Crowley’s Facility that Tonight’s has already negotiated. What we’re looking for is just a R1 Intelligence Center – a Project with Challenge 5, which Tomorrow can stealthily achieve in two days (rolling 3v1), with 1 net mark (consequences roll 5+1=6, no consequences). As we already have a Facility Frame and 2 Facilities in it, we can add a third and still have 2 slots free – which means we just need to spend 1 Payout of money for it and keep track of Tomorrow’s deployment costs. Also, +1 social project. By July 10th, we got our R1 Intelligence Center.
This is what it lets us do:

Stealth DeploymentHostile/DefenseProvides Concealment equal to Payout for the target Asset for all Scenarios for the duration. Unless Interference is run against the Stealth Deployment or the Concealment is dropped, the target doesn’t know about it, and cannot react. Familiarity and retaliation rules don’t apply.Intelligence Center
DisinformationHostile/OffenseAdds Resistance equal to Payout to the target Project.Intelligence Center
Covert OpsBeneficial/DefenseAdds Soak against Investigation projects. Must have Payout equal to target Project. Intelligence Center

The Magic Little Things

Tonight is still tied-up in the think-tank with the Jammers, which means we’re down half of our forces. Therefore, we cannot do anything too drastic, because we simply don’t have enough spiritual dice power for it. Here’s what we can do, though: get some more money, as we’re about to start spending it like crazy. Time for Tomorrow’s Income Scenario!

Again, though the power of dice, we’re winning it with 5 net marks, because we have 5 dice and it’s a Payout 3 Scenario. Like last month, we’re continuing our co-operation with Alp Group, so we get +3 Rep, +1 Scenario for them (1/3 on the path to Fam 9), 3 points of cash Payout, +1 learning tick in Sorcery, +1 Scenario run with magic-only. For consequences, I rolled a 4 +5 = 9, positive consequences with magnitude +25% = 4. With a 1, we’ve encountered a magical Anomaly! As the Project Aphelion anomalies are not applicable in Shadowrun, I’m going to rule that we’re facing Payout 4 of Karma Anomaly Scenario.

Yes, we have Karma now.

Here’s the deal: we’ve started playing a new campaign, and it is going to be an Aphelion/Shadowrun game. Unlike me, Jakub actually cares enough to port the magic system from Shadowrun to Aphelion – and I’ve decided to appropriate it for this campaign as well. Does this mean I need to rewrite my magician and completely change how this whole thing works? Yes. Will it be more fun? Duh.


The New Magic System

I don’t feel like rewriting it, so here are Jakub’s rules for our Baltic Piracy game:

  • Magic is a Positive Trait instead of an Attribute, starting at 3, maximum of 6. To increase it, you gotta spend Karma Resource Payouts equal to double the new rank, up to 6. When you Initiate, you can increase the maximum Magic Trait rank.
  • Added Resource: Karma. Equivalent to other Payouts, it’s acquired through Scenarios or Passive generation,just like all other Resources. Scenario involving it will take you to high Background Counts, and against Magical opponents, such as places of power, ley nexi, metaplanes etc.
  • Added new Global Modifier Background Count: affects all magical Tasks, works like other Global Mods. Present in high pollution, aspected domains, and Steve’s basement.
  • Spells: Spells now work like Traits, without ranks, but providing the character with an Action Card of that spell. All Spells are Mental Actions. Physical Spells are Soaked with Toughness (plus Physical Soak, like Armor), while Mana by Resolve (plus whatever Resolve Soak the target has).
  • New Skills: Spellcasting, Conjuring (gonna slap it together with Banishing, they have no business being separate Skills anyway), Ritual Spellcasting, Arcana (for spellcrafting), Alchemy (magic consumables crafting), Counterspelling (acts like Avoid Action Cards but for Spells), Assenssing.
  • Astral Perception allows Awareness Tasks against non-material enemies, and provides Clout for Lookout against living things equal to your Magic.
  • Force: Spells no longer have Force, adjust the desired power through Combined Actions. For overcasting, you can transfer Physical Actions to Mental Action up to your Magic, but doing so causes Physical Drain in 1 – 1 ratio.
  • Drain: base Drain no longer exists. Positive added Drain (for example if the SR spell has Drain of F/2+3, then that +3 is the added Drain) is halved, and counts as additional Morale Pool reduction when using the spell. Negative Drain (say, if SR Spell has F/2-3) is halved, and counts as Bonus Actions for that Task).
  • Spell’s effect is equal to marks scored, plus positive Drain.
  • Positive Drain also counts as additional Clout.
  • Each character starts with 5 Spells. You can buy more for Opportunities, as if they were Positive Traits. During the game, you can buy more spells for 5 Karma, up to 5 times you Magic rank.
  • Adepts start with 3 free Powers, which we’ll translate to Aphelion rules as close as possible on a case by case basis. You can buy more for Opportunities, as if they were Positive Qualities, or during the game for 5 karma each, up to you Magic.
  • Spirits are now Drones at the rating equal to marks scored when summoning, and use the same rules. Spirit powers apply as closely as possible, on a case by case basis.

Takeaways:

  • Spells are Basic Cards, I can buy more for Karma
  • Background Count is a thing
  • I got more magic skills to learn, but I still use Logic for it
  • Initiations, welcome back – Advanced Action Cards are metamagics (mostly)
  • We’re starting with Magic 3 and 5 Spells; we can have up to 15 (Magic x5)

This means we need to rewrite some of Tomorrow’s abilities and stop just handwaving her magical abilities. Her current AAC/spells are:

  1. [Free] Summon Elemental
  2. Shapechange
  3. Artificial Intelligence
  4. [Free] Animate
  5. [Free] Counterspell

From those, Summon Elemental and Counterspelling are now covered by skills and don’t need to be AAC, and Shapechange, AI, and Animate go down to Basic Action Cards, covering 3/5 starting spell slots. Considering what spells are we using normally in the narrative as guidelines for the spell choices here, we’ll pick Levitate and Lightning Bolt. Bonus MAs count as Combined Actions, reducing the difficulty.

  1. Shapechange (OG Drain: F-3; Aphelion Drain: -2, counts as 2 bonus MAs for the spell)
  2. Artificial Intelligence (OG Drain: F/2 (custom 4e.); Aphelion Drain: 0)
  3. Animate (OG Drain: F-1; Aphelion Drain -1, counts as 1 bonus MA for the spell)
  4. Levitate (OG Drain: F-2; Aphelion Drain -1, counts as 1 bonus MA for the spell). Levitate allows you to telekinetically lift a person or object and move it around. You have to beat a threshold equal to the subject’s mass divided by 200 kilograms, rounded up. The subject of the spell can be moved anywhere in your line of sight at a movement rate equal to the spell’s Force in meters per Combat Turn. If you’re trying to levitate an item held by a living being, or levitate an unwilling living being, that being can defend against the Spellcasting Test with Toughness. You can use this spell to levitate yourself, if you need a view from a higher perspective or desire some parachute-free sky diving.
  5. Lightning Bolt (OG Drain: F-3; Aphelion Drain -2, counts as 2 bonus MAs for the spell). The spells creates and direct vicious strikes of electricity that cause Electricity damage (+1 Res/marks to all Tasks). Lightning Bolt is a single target spell dealing Stamina Damage = marks.

This leaves us with five AAC to pick.

  1. [Free] Spellcrafting. Spend 5 Karma. Start a project with Challenge equal to 10 modified by the Drain code. When complete, the character knows a new spell, and possesses a formulae from which others can learn it as normal.
  2. [Free] Masking. Change your aura’s appearance into the desired form. Marks scored in Arcana = Soak against Assenssing and Astral Perception Tasks. Use an Impersonation skill to copy another magician’s aura.
  3. [Free] Centering. Marks scored can be added as ablative automarks to Spellcasting, Ritual Spellcasting or Arcana Tasks while Sustained. Sustained. Logic.
  4. Talismongery. Run a project equal to the area BC. When the Project is complete, generate 1 Karma, reduce the BC by 1 until the end of Cycle. If the BC is reduced to 0 during a Cycle, permanently reduce BC by 1. BC must be higher than 0 to use Talismongery. Project. Logic.
  5. Alchemy. Use Alchemy to cast a spell with chosen Force on material consumable vessel. That spell can be cast from a vessel using a single Mental or Physical Action. Force = Resistance and Challenge. Project. Logic.

LOOK AT THIS. I think magic research is back on the menu. AAC system was far too restrictive for the spells (I used to have over a dozen of them in SR, here it got reduced to 1 at chargen), and now I can come up with spells and do magic investigations. Looking forward to it! I need to catch up with spells I’m using in the narrative (Fashion, Makeover, Create Food, Sterilize), add the ones Tomorrow used to have but I’m not using because of the ‘Shadrowun cheese factor’ (Influence, Shape Earth, Slow – honestly, Slow is the ultimate MVP for stopping bullets), and make a lot more!

Are we done? Like hell we are. As she has mentioned multiple times, Tomorrow is an adept. A mystical adept, but still an adept. This means she doesn’t get astral perception for free, but needs to buy it with adept powers. We only get 3 – some of them are already covered in chargen, some of them aren’t.

  1. Astral Perception – absolutely necessary for obvious reasons.
  2. Mind over Matter – the reason why we’re using our Logic as our Fitness.
  3. Sustenance – for no other reason than narrative, because it has no bearing on the game that Tomorrow sleeps 3 hours a day and only needs one meal. But it’s important for the character’s personality, because she’s burning the candle on both ends, and she knows that.

Other adept powers, like Voice Control, Facial Sculpt, Multi-Tasking, and Heightened Concentration, we’ll probably add later, at a cost of 5 Karma/each, once Tomorrow’s Magic raises above 3.


Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Let’s do the easy thing, that we totally can do without Tonight: get Wheeler his promotion and honorable discharge from the military. Narratively, it requires nothing else than contacting his current employer to organize it. Through years of service alone, he deserves to be a captain at this point, and as he’s currently working as a special agent for a civilian agency, removing himself from the military shouldn’t cause any suspicion in the CIA. If anything, it should suggest to them that he’s willing to work for them indefinitely.

Well, joke’s on them, but we’ll still use our Intelligence Center to hide those negotiations from the world.

Again, this is a tiny Payout 3 Scenario and we will not be wasting time on playing it in full. As this is a part of the Payout-75 Scenario we’ve been gifted by Wheeler, we don’t need to run projects to prepare any of them. He probably has spent the last month thinking it all through. This means we’re facing the usual dice pools and challenges, and end up with 5 net marks, bringing Tomorrow +3 Rep, +1 Social project, +1 learning tick in Negotiation. And Captain Wheeler is now officially an honorably-discharged veteran of UCAS military.

Consequences roll ended on a 4 +5 = 9, positive consequence of magnitude 4. And a 6: A Faction appreciated your efforts and proposed a Think Tank Project with Payout equal magnitude. If caused by a hostile move, the target Faction’s most hostile competitor appreciated it.

Oops. Looks like we’re getting friendly with the CIA. Well, this Scenario has scored us 3/75 Payouts towards the mini-campaign. It was not technically beneficial for CIA, so we don’t get to raise the Familiarity with them for it – but we will, if we run this project with them! Which we will, of course, because we:

  1. Like getting free intel.
  2. Want to raise Fam with CIA anyway, and this will make it 1 point easier, saving us 1 Payout from the big Scenario.

So, suddenly and unexpectedly, Tomorrow is going to work with CIA for a moment. Why don’t we make it about bug spirits? They must know that’s what she did over the last month, and they are specifically interested in the topic (re: metaplot). As the main Focus of CIA is investigative and they’re a R3 Faction, we’ll work with their Investigative Crew on this, rolling 3v1 each day and scoring 6/4 marks in two days. Consequence roll 4+2=6, no further consequences, but we’ve exchanged intel on bug spirits with CIA and scored 4 points of intel for ourselves. This mutually beneficial project has also raised our Familiarity with CIA to 7, which means we only need 9 more Payouts (not 10) to raise it to 10. I’ll put the spare point into the Finale, maybe we’ll make a bigger party. We’ve just made our job a tiny bit easier!

Here’s where we’re at:

  1. Payout 9 negotiations with CIA
  2. Payout 15 Wheeler’s extraction
  3. Payout 12 social/political maneuvers to get back to Fam 10 with CIA
  4. Payout 3 military interlude
  5. Payout 7 forging the best-friends-forever connection to Firewatch
  6. Payout 6 extraction of Hellhounds
  7. Payout 9 extraction of Cutters’ gangers
  8. Payout 3 extraction of the Fleet
  9. Payout 3 extraction of the Barracks
  10. Payout 3 extraction of the Command Center
  11. Payout 3 extraction of the Habitat / Best Western
  12. Payout 2 Finale of the Complex Scenario

A New Face

Now, I want to use all that I can in my negotiations with CIA, which means we need to wait for Tonight – not long, though, just one day. A perfect amount of time to create R3 credentials with our 3 Faction dice. We’ll spend 3 ritual supplies (1,500c) and a day on the Challenge 3 project to release Tonight from being an ally spirit. Instead, we’ll make her a free spirit in a spirit pact – they both like the telepathic connection way to much to resign from it. The credentials don’t have a mechanical use – it’s just a fancy name for a new physical form for the ally spirit that can be added to the formula. Tonight deserves to have her own face.

And because it’s Aphelion, I rolled for consequences – with a roll of 2 and no net marks, we put some negative consequences in the game, of magnitude 4! With an 8: A person from a character backstory is in danger. Launch a Project with Payout equal to the magnitude to save them, pushing that character’s background plot forward. Pick which player it entails.

Sure, why not! Let’s roll on the contacts. With a 10, it’s Sheila Kile, Alp Group (R1 investigative/scientific, Fam 6) – Tomorrow’s steadfast employer and the source of monthly Income Scenario paychecks!

But first things first.


July 15th, 2056

For the first time in forever, Tonight looks nervous. Tomorrow looks at the identical face in front of her, watching the same signs of unease she’s used to seeing in the mirror – the tension around the eyes, the light smirk that so annoys other people, the reflexive tossing back the hair as always falling on her face.

‘We don’t have to do it, if you’re not ready,’ she reminds the ally spirit. ‘It’s entirely up to you.’

‘It will make many things easier. The market. The negotiations. The daily life.’

‘It will. But it’s still your decision to make. I love you like a sister, like a best friend, and like myself.’

‘You hate yourself,’ scoffs Tonight. ‘But I’ll take the first two. Now, make me pretty.’

Tomorrow laughs at the spirit’s haughty expression of big airs. She reaches out and puts a strand of hair behind Tonight’s ear. ‘I have to rearrange some things in your formula. It might be a bit uncomfortable. I’m sorry.’ With Tonight’s acknowledging nod, Tomorrow activates the binding circle. She double-checks her notes – Tonight’s formula, her true name, is a long string of magical symbols and complex equations, and as much as Tomorrow is confident in her abilities to remember her own research, the stakes are simply too high to be cocky about it.

She gently pulls on the strings that bind them together; it’s not the time to unravel them yet. She just tugs at them, until the physical shape of a blue-haired elf slides to the side, leaving Tonight in her pure form: naked, inky-blue, and spotted with gold like the night sky, with two brilliant stars glowing in place of her eyes. Delicately and carefully, she covers it with a thin veil of mana, wrapping the milky-white fabric around Tonight’s astral body. Then, she follows the spirit’s instructions, shaping the ears, the facial structure, molding the eyes, nose, mouth… It’s harder than previously, when she just used her own body as a mold – but Tonight deserves to be herself.

After long hours of sculpting, aided by a set of mirrors and the spirit’s harsh critiques, Tomorrow looks at her work with satisfaction. The new form isn’t that much different – still an elf, as there is no better explanation for the eternal youth. The facial features are still similar – enough to call them family, but different enough to have nobody mistake them. Long, dark green hair flows in gentle waves in the back. On one side of the head, the hair is braided in a complex pattern, the other side being just a faded undercut – Tonight really hates the hair constantly falling on her face – showing an array of golden earrings connected with golden chains. A black tank top with lace back and skin-tight leggings will be enough for the summer and won’t stop Tonight from putting on anything else, even if she won’t be able to dematerialize with physical clothing.

‘Happy?’ asks Tomorrow after Tonight stops turning around between the mirrors and checking out her new figure. ‘You might be the vainest person in the room, and you have serious competition here.’

‘I’ll have an eternity to spend in this body. I need to make sure it fits.’ She considers her reflection again. ‘I think it does.’

‘Well, then.’ Tomorrow gently picks up the golden strands connecting the five stars of her tattoo with the identical, glowing symbol on Tonight’s forearm. ‘Ready, o Fairest of Them All?’

Tonight nods, her green eyes – so green they had to be created by magic or cyberware – wide open and scared.

One by one, the bindings of gold unravel, falling apart as Tomorrow wills the connection between her and the ally spirit to fade. The last one, the one connecting Gienah, the brightest star of the Corvus constellation, hangs there for a moment longer.

See you on the other side, sister, says Tomorrow and breaks the last bond between them.


Putting Down the Fires

It’s July 16th, Tonight has a new face, we scored 30 points of intel from our project with the Jammers, and we can focus on getting Wheeler out of CIA… Yeah, no, because we tossed some negative consequences into our life and now we have to deal with that first.

As it’s a project with Challenge 4 and we roll 3 dice, putting down this fire will take Tomorrow 2 days, ending up with 6/4 marks in the project, and no further consequences – other than raising her familiarity with Sheila by 1, up to 7. Let me roll a bit: the danger to Sheila came from (1) brand new and yet unencountered Faction and it was motivated by (9) Friendship.

27Cyber Robotics5Technical (beneficial defense)
R2 Maintenance Bay
R1 (2) Crew
Social (beneficial offence)
R2 (4) Crew
(wild card)Abrasive Factions
add 2 priority to hostile Projects against Factions with the lowest Familiarity other than 1.

Connections: (forced) Alp Group, Fam 9. (1d25=1) Us, Fam 5. (1d25=14) Bug Spirits, Fam 6.

Would you look at the time? It’s time to fight more bug spirits. Wherever we look, there’s some insect running around. I think we’ll resurrect the Bug Spirits Faction – it’s not the same hive, but it is a hive. And Warrens are full of them, so are other parts of Denver. And I think some of them have infiltrated Cyber Robotics – a sister-corporation of Alp Group, and Sheila has ended up on their ‘recruitment’ roster. We have solved the issue and saved Sheila from falling into the bug spirits’ trap – in the end, pushing Tomorrow even deeper into the ‘fighting bug spirits’ jig. Looks like with each step, the water reaches even higher. How do we know Cyber Robotics? It’s probably the gig we did earlier this month for Alp Group, helping them with installing security for Cyber Robotics.

The resurrected Bug Spirits’ Faction:

14Bug Spirits4Scientific (beneficial growth)R2 FacilitySocial (hostile offense)R2 (4) Crew(beneficial defense)Abrasiveadd 2 priority to hostile Projects against Factions with the lowest Familiarity other than 1.

Connections: (free) Cyber Robotics, Fam 6. (1d25=16) Alp Group, Fam 4. (1d25=19) Irene Woods, Fam 2.

Well, Irene’s back in the game. This is going to be fun!


Eyes on the Prize

It’s time (ish, after we give Tonight two days off while Tomorrow is doing her project for Sheila – her first two days of life as a free spirit) to start solving the mess with the CIA. CIA is an Investigative/Scientific Faction, with the Investigative Crew being the part supporting Wheeler’s investigation of the Cutters. It is them that we need to befriend and raise the Familiarity with.

We could do it in many different ways, but we’ll obviously hit them where they’re weakest: in their Tertiary Focus, with a Social Scenario. We’ll pay 400c to use our contact for the job – we won’t go talk to Wheeler’s employer without him. We’ll also use the two days we had to cover the Scenario with 6 points of Stealth Deployment – we don’t care about hiding it from CIA, but we care about hiding it from the Cutters.


Scenario 028a: Best Friends Forever

What we’re going to do here is a contextual Scenario, in which we force the CIA to use their Social Focus – and they’re not particularly great at it. We are, though. We are particularly great at Social (this is our 39th project in this Focus!).

Payout: 9 (raising Familiarity with CIA from 7 to 10)
Threat Rating: 9×5 = 45. Reduced by R5 (3) Crew (Tomorrow, Tonight, Wheeler) = 30. Minus 2 for two elementals = 28.
Scenario Rating: 9 + (28/5 = 6) = 15. Spending 5 Intel points to get it down to 10.

Build Points: 10
Free Modules: 9

Now, normally, Scenario would come in with 9 dice, 5 Actions, 5 skill, 5 Res, 5 Clout, 3 automarks, and 3 soak. However. CIA is an Inv/Sci Faction and we’re about to be friendly and negotiate the rules of future co-operation. This means they’re forced to use their Tertiary Focus, slashing their dice pool to (9/2 = 5, 5/2 = 3) 3 dice, 2 Actions, 2 skill, 2 Res, 2 Clout, 1 automark, and 1 soak. Because of the +1 SR, they’re also getting a R3 support Actor with 2 ablative soak/automarks. The Finale has a Challenge of 10, 9 points of Resistance, 5 ablative soak.

Here’s what we’re going with – we’re meeting with the CIA’s Investigative Crew (represented here by this extra R3 Actor, because they are, conveniently, a R3 Crew) to discuss the details of the co-operation in the investigation about Cutters, dropping the bug spirits’ plot into there and making sure they trust us completely – which will make it that much funnier worse when we backstab them in the next Scenario.


Playthrough

T1: Module 1: Initiation. In here, let’s start everybody on the path of Diplomacy, engaging the Defense with a Social task. We’re at Familiarity 7, which means that everybody’s basic difficulty is 3 in this Scenario. The main Actor is a R9 Investigative/Scientific, in a Debuff SOP and Balanced Control mood. The supporting Actor is a R3 Inv/Sci Actor, a Marker in a Conservative Control mood.Pools S/M: Tomorrow 8/8, Tonight 5/7, Wheeler 5/8, Scenario 18/18, Support 6/6

Scenario Complications: 9v3 = 5/10


T2: Module 2: Read the Room. We attempt to read the Defense, with MT = Defense’s Resolve +1 for extra Actors = 10. If we win, we get to cut Finale’s Challenge by half Payout. We spend 1/10 BP here, on a Situational Modifier (Wit) – just 1 point here, raising the difficulty of Social Tasks by 1 (to 4). But first:

Scenario Complications: 9v3 = 7 +5 = 12/10, 2 net.
Complications roll: 7 -2 net = 5, no complications this time.

Tonight: MA Diplomacy+1, 5v2=5 towards MT +1 automark from clothes. MA Circular Reasoning (Con+1), 5v1=5 Res for disproving the Con. MA Con, 5v2=5 towards MT. PA TaB. MP  5/7.
Wheeler: MA Leadership+1, 5v1=5 Clout for Tomorrow’s Nego. MA Negotiation+1, 4v6=0 towards MT. PA TaB. MP 7/8
Tomorrow: MA Diplomacy+1, 5v4=4 +4 automarks towards MT. MA Negotiation+1, 5v1=5 towards MT. MA Arcana+1, 5v9=1 towards MT. PA TaB. MP 6/8
Steven: MA Confusion, 4v2=4 morale dmg to Support, 2 soaked (ablative soak/marks gone). MA Confusion, 4v2=4 morale dmg to Support.
Jade: standing by.
MT 25/10

Scenario: MA Social 3v2=3+1 = 4 against MT. MA Social 3v2=3 against MT. MP 16/18
Support: at 0 MP, TaB 3v5=3. MP 3/6

MT 18/10 -> Offense wins, Finale’s Challenge reduced from 10 to 5.


Module 3: Flair. A Scene with MT = Payout against the Scenario. If we win, we increase the Finale’s Payout by net marks, up to 100% of original Payout. No BPs spent here.

Tonight: MA Stalling Tactics (Con+1), 5v1=5; MA Stalling Tactics, 5v1=5, total > Scen Resolve, 2 Actions wasted. PA TaB. PA TaB. MP 7/7.
Wheeler: MA Conditioning+1, 5v1=5 towards MT. MA Leadership+1, 5v1=5 towards MT. PA Tab x 3. MP 6/8
Tomorrow: MA Sciences+1, 5v1=5 towards MT. MA Diplomacy+1, 5v4=5+4 automarks. PA TaB x2. MP 6/8.
Steven: MA Confusion, 4v2=4 morale dmg to Support, 2 soaked (ablative soak/marks gone). MA Confusion, 4v2=1 morale dmg to Support +3 Drain.
Jade: standing by.
MT 24/9

Scenario: two actions wasted by Tonight.
Support: at 0 MP, Tab 3v5=3. MP 3/3.

MT 24/9 -> Offense wins, Finale’s Payout raised by +100% (18 now -> Yes, this also means 18 points of Resistance and 9 points of ablative soak in the Finale)


Module 4: Poise. MT = Payout, if we win, we reduce the Finale’s Resistance by net marks. 2 BPs spent here, +2 Res (BP 3/10).

Tonight: MA Stalling Tactics (Con+1), 5v3=4; MA Stalling Tactics, 5v3=4; MA Stalling Tactics, 5v1=3, total > Scen Resolve, 3 Actions wasted. MP 7/7.
Wheeler: MA Conditioning+1, 5v1=5 towards MT. MA Leadership+1, 5v1=5 towards MT. PA Tab x 3. MP 7/8
Tomorrow: MA Sciences+1, 5v1=5 towards MT. MA Diplomacy+1, 5v4=3+4 automarks. MA Spellcasting+1, 5v1=5 towards MT. PA TaB x2. MP 5/8.
Steven: MA Confusion, 4v2=4 morale dmg to Support, 2 soaked (ablative soak/marks gone). MA Confusion, 4v2=1 morale dmg to Support +3 Drain.
Jade: standing by.
MT 27/9

Scenario: all actions wasted by Tonight.
Support: at 0 MP, MP 0/0 -> out of the game.

MT 27/9 -> Offense wins, reducing the Resistance in the Finale by 18.


Module 5: Boost Composure. MT = Scenario’s Wit = 9. If we win, we get TR/5 + net marks of extra Morale points. No BPs spent.

Tonight: MA Stalling Tactics (Con+1), 5v1=5; MA Stalling Tactics, 5v1=5, total > Scen Resolve, 2 Actions wasted. MA Leadership+1, 4v4=3 +1 automark towards MT. PA TaB. MP 7/7.
Wheeler: MA Conditioning+1, 5v1=5 towards MT. MA Leadership+1, 5v1=5 towards MT. PA Tab x 3. MP 8/8
Tomorrow: MA Job Well Done. MA Sciences+1, 5v1=5 towards MT, +3 MP. MA Diplomacy+1, 5v2=5+4 automarks towards MT. PA TaB. MP 8/8

Scenario: all actions wasted by Tonight.

MT: 28/9 -> Offense wins, gains 21 points of Morale. I guess I’ll stop counting it.


Module 6: Reiteration. Each side tests Resolve+Conditioning. The winner adds Res or Clout to the Finale. No BPs spent.

Tonight: Conditioning+1, 4v3=3
Wheeler: Conditioning+1, 5v1=5
Tomorrow: Conditioning+1, 3v2=3

Scenario: 9v1=9

Offense: 11; Defense: 9 -> Offense wins, gets 2 points of Clout in the Finale.


Module 7: Dirty Twist. MT = chosen attribute, Wit = 9. If we win, we reduce the soak in the Finale by net marks. No BPs spent.

Tonight: MA Diplomacy+1, 5v1=5+1. MA Impersonation+1, 5v1=5. MA Investigation+1, 5v1=5.
Wheeler: MA Tactics+1, 4v1=4. MA Negotiation+1, 4v6=1.
Tomorrow: MA Diplomacy+1, 5v1=5 +4. MA Investigation+1, 5v1=5. MA Negotiation+1, 5v1=5

Scenario: 3v1=3+1 automark. 3v1=3

MT 33/9 -> Offense wins, we wiped out any soak from the Finale.


Module 8: Showdown. Let’s just go for the Finale. Skipping a module adds +1 to BPs, so we have 8 to spend here. Because of all the work we did so far, the Finale is a simple Scene. The total Payout = 18, but we removed 18 points of Resistance and all of the soak. The MT is just 5. We also have 2 points of Clout. Let’s spend the BPs!

  • Situational Modifier (Wit) +4
  • Global Stress Modifier +1
  • Additional Actor R3 with 2 automarks/soak (Technical/Scientific)
  • Extra Actor’s tier raised to R4 with 2 automarks/soak

Ouch! That means that the basic difficulty for Mental Tasks rose from 3 to 4, and the difficulty of Wit Tasks to 8! We also have an extra Actor to fight against us. But as we’re still keeping up the Social approach, they only have 1 dice in it, so joke’s on them, again.

Tonight: MA Diplomacy+1, 5v3=4+1. MA Impersonation+1, 5v5=3. MA Negotiation+1, 5v4=3.
Wheeler: MA Conditioning+1, 5v1=5 towards MT. MA Leadership+1, 5v1=5 towards MT.
Tomorrow: MA Diplomacy+1, 5v4=4 +4. MA Investigation+1, 5v4=4. MA Negotiation+1, 5v5=3

Scenario: 3v6=0 automark. 3v6=1+1Support: 1v7=1. 1v7=1.

MT: 40/5 -> Offense wins. With an offensive number of net marks.


Wrapping Up

You know what? This is a high-level campaign I’m running. I need to rethink my choices, level of preparation, and forces sent to do jobs. Huh. I mean, yes, I approached the Scenario from behind, because taking it up-front would be uncomfortably hard – but it was too easy. Guess I didn’t need Wheeler for this one – but talking about him behind his back? Maybe next time I’ll just keep him in there narratively? But then, I mostly picked him up to get the reduction in Threat Rating, because using a contact costs me 400c and reducing TR by 5 costs me 1 intel = 5000c. You see the problem here.

Payout: 18 (9 points of Influence to raise Fam with CIA to 10. Extra 9 points: 5 points of intel + 4 Payouts worth of gear for our bug-spirit hunting adventure. Because why not?)
Rep: +18 for Tomorrow and Tonight, netting us +4 Influence
Career progression: Tonight gets +1 to Scenarios won exclusively through Social Tasks and +1 to successfully Conned characters – which brings her to 15/15 and unlocks Career (3)! And here’s her new AAC: [Free] Rebuke (M, S, Wit, Diplomacy. Marks provide soak for the chosen roll during a Social Main Task)

Skill learning:
Tomorrow: Diplomacy +5, Negotiation +3, Arcana +1, Sciences +1, Spellcasting +1, Conditioning +1, Investigation +2
Tonight: Diplomacy +4, Con +4, Conditioning +1, Impersonation +2, Investigation +1, Negotiation +1
Wheeler: Diplomacy, Leadership, Negotiation, Conditioning, Tactics

Familiarity: Raised CIA to 10. 1/4 to get Wheeler back from 9 to 10, which matters only mechanically anyway.

Consequences: I’m not going to roll. It’s above 10, obv. Which means positive consequences with magnitude 18 +50% = 27. And we rolled 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.

I’m going to need a bigger Familiarity matrix.

284Investigative (exclusive offense)R2 Listening PostSocial (exclusive defense)R1 (2) Crew(exclusive defense)R1 (4) Creative FleetPlacating Faction add 2 priority to beneficial Projects resulting in improving Familiarity with a Faction with the lowest Familiarity.

Connections: Us, Fam 6. Zacualtipan, Fam 6. Green Bishops, Fam 8

Uh. That’s a weird one. Thankfully, they have a Listening post, which means they can generate Intel for us – and we’ll take it, all 27 points. Please and thank you. I guess it’s some connected spy agency, specializing in the bug spirits: a) we’re fighting them, b) Zacualtipan was using them to spy on us, c) Green Bishops were at Fam 3 with them. We’ll call them ‘Dept. 16′, a section of CIA dealing with the insect spirit threat, and go from there.


Who Watches the Firewatch

As Phase has mentioned at the beginning of the bug spirit business, if anybody has answers to Tomorrow’s questions about the nature of bug spirits, it’s Firewatch – Knight Errant’s special forces. We’ve used our contact to make contact with Firewatch – specifically with the Firewatch Team 2 that Phase has previously worked with on a case of missing simsense star, Euphoria. We’ll let Tomorrow, Tonight, and Wheeler deal with the ‘let’s make sure Firewatch is on our side’ part – it’ll make the extraction from CIA more plausible on the narrative level.

As it’s only Payout 7, we’ll do it with quick resolution and move on with the plot. Also, 400c paid for using Wheeler to sort out his own business.

R5 (3) Crew: 5 dice, 5 skill, 3 Resistance, 3 Clout, 2 soak, 2 automarks. +3 automark for 3 Actors
Scenario Payout 7
Legwork: 5v1=5+5. 3 net.
Threat Rating: 7v6 = 3 (-2 soak) = 1. TR 1-2 = 0
Challenge: Payout + 0 = 7.

R5 (3) Crew needs to score 7 marks. Offense is rolling 5 v 6 – 5 (skill) + 7 (Payout Resistance) – 3 (Clout) = 5v5, and starts with 2 automarks, plus scores +3 in each roll. Scenario rolls 7 v 6 – 3 (number of Actors) + 3 (Resistance) = 7v6, and gets hit with 2 points of Soak each interval.

T1: Offense: 5v6=3 + 5 = 8. MT 8/7. Defense: 7v6=3 (-2 soak) = 1. MT 7/7 -> Offense wins, with 0 net

And sorted, Tomorrow and Tonight score +7 Rep, getting us extra +2 points of Influence, each gets +1 learning tick in Diplomacy, we raise our Familiarity with Firewatch to 10.

As for the consequences, we roll without any net marks – and land on a 9, which means positive consequences of magnitude +25%, which means 7 + 25% = 9. With a 6, we’re netting ourselves a think-tank project with Firewatch, and in the end, another 9 points of intel on bug spirits.

Than means Tomorrow is going to spend the next 2 days (July 20th-21st) on the investigative project with Firewatch – a test run, I suppose, gathering 10/9 marks using Firewatch’s primary investigative focus dice. With a 5+1=6, there are no further consequences – but we get 9 more points of intel! Tonight gets 2 days off, because she deserves them.

The Social Scenario with Firewatch was also our 40th Social project, which means that we’ve accomplished a deed necessary to raise our Faction to Rating 4! Now, we only need to spend 40 Resources and it’s done – we’ll spend 20 points of Influence and 20 points of cash, why not.

We’re a Faction R4, now! One more dice on Faction Layer, wee!

And here’s where we’re at:

  1. Payout 9 negotiations with CIA
  2. Payout 15 Wheeler’s extraction
  3. Payout 12 social/political maneuvers to get back to Fam 10 with CIA
  4. Payout 3 military interlude
  5. Payout 7 forging the best-friends-forever connection to Firewatch
  6. Payout 6 extraction of Hellhounds
  7. Payout 9 extraction of Cutters’ gangers
  8. Payout 3 extraction of the Fleet
  9. Payout 3 extraction of the Barracks
  10. Payout 3 extraction of the Command Center
  11. Payout 3 extraction of the Habitat / Best Western
  12. Payout 2 Finale of the Complex Scenario

July 19th, 2056

There is a hard knot in Tomorrow’s stomach, when they wait for their guest. As much as she got used to gang leaders, mercenaries, spirits, and even megacorps, all kinds of law enforcement still put her on edge. 

Firewatch is not the cops, she reminds herself, adjusting her dress and finding some peace in the menial task. It’s special forces. Of a corp. And I’m not even doing anything illegal. Not right now, at least. 

Tonight smiles at her from her seat on the opposite side of the table. The spirit looks perfectly at ease, her green eyes sparkling with joy and enthusiasm. She is clearly enjoying her new experience – it’s the first time they all could actually go out, and in this expensive restaurant, in an immaculate pantsuit on top of her magically-created black base, she looks every inch a modern professional, from the dark green shiny hair to golden high heels.

‘It will be fine,’ mutters Adam, right before the dark-haired woman appears near their booth, led by the restaurant’s host. As they stand up to greet her, he sends Tomorrow another supportive look, before shaking hands with their guest and taking the lead in the conversation – just as they agreed.

‘Thank you for meeting with us, captain.’

Anne Ravenheart nods, taking her place by the table. ‘It’s not often we’re being contacted with an offer of help, captain Wheeler. Especially through two very disconnected channels.’

‘Please, I’m no longer in the military.’

The woman shrugs lightly, showing how unimportant the past tense is in this case, and Tomorrow must agree with her. Adam will always be a soldier. She will never stop being an ex-con, no matter what her new SIN says. Tonight… Tonight is the only one who doesn’t have to worry about the past.

Tonight smiles and introduces herself as a friend and associate, and from Ravenheart’s expression, she did not expect to see a free spirit at the negotiation table. Tomorrow knows that the woman is a shaman, and if the name she’s using is not a coincidence, she know whom she follows – but will this be enough to build a working relationship on?

‘I was rather surprised by the Chicago connection,’ admits Ravenheart over dinner, once they finish exchanging pleasantries befitting the place. ‘But I’ve been told you were successful in eradicating one hive already. Which is much more than one can expect from a private citizen.

Tomorrow smiles, sure that Ravenheart had somebody do the necessary legwork – not that she was hiding, using an ex-shadowrunner as a point of contact. ‘We all need to do our part. It’s like with recycling.’

‘You mean: better left to the professionals.’

‘I am a professional,’ she reminds her guest – and herself. ‘We all are, even if our specialties lie outside of your line of work, captain.’

Adam slides in, bringing the conversation where it belongs. ‘Warrens are a labyrinth of tunnels, ruins, sewers, and hovels. They’re full of all kinds of scum, and no matter what the media say, not even half of that is metahuman. Whatever was left of the Brotherhood, is now breeding freely. From ants to roach-invested flesh-form ghouls.’

Ravenheart scowls. ‘Is it that bad already? What did you do with it?’

‘Took it down with narcojet, then burned to ashes with a fire elemental.’ Tomorrow shrugs. ‘It was the first one I saw, so I needed to test what works. And it was barely several hundred meters into the Warrens, in a ghoul lair. The deeper, the merrier.’

‘I’ve read the reports from the last year. It was expected that the most of them will have perished in the fires.’

‘Maybe they did,’ agrees Tonight lightly. ‘But whatever is left, is plenty. We have started mapping the area, marking the signs of insect spirit activities. But if you intend to clean the place, you’ll need local support, scouts, and guides.’

‘And what is your price?’

‘I’m sure you’re aware of my current obligations.’ Adam lets his voice trail off, but Ravenheart nods almost instantly, her eyes sharp and focused. Calculating. ‘Our co-operation would make it easier for me to convince my current employer to release me from those obligations, while still leaving me where I’m stationed. We have bigger problems in the Warrens than their investigation. Insect spirits are threatening the whole city, and I don’t have the time for politics of the agency.’

Ravenheart raises her eyebrow. ‘You want to stay in the Warrens, captain? And run a gun cartel?’ 

‘Better me than somebody who’d find it their life’s purpose, don’t you think, captain?’ 

Tomorrow realizes she’s staring at his confident smile and forces herself to pay attention to the conversation. She’s not needed here. Adam and Tonight are much better than she is at any social interactions, letting her take the backseat. If anything, she’s just here to supply them with data. Perfect, as far as she’s concerned. Exactly how it should be. 

Ravenheart and Adam come to an agreement quickly, soon connecting over their military experiences. Tonight joins them with light-hearted comments from a more spiritual perspective, finally able to just be her brilliant, charming self in front of other people. Worth every second of work.

‘I’d be delighted,’ answers Tomorrow, once Ravenheart suggests a couple days of a trial run, just to exchange information and compare the maps and data. The shaman smiles and nods – if she minds Tomorrow being quiet, she doesn’t show it. 

She’s one of us, says Raven. Make it worth her time, and she’ll be an ally. 

He doesn’t have to tell her what will happen otherwise. Tomorrow has no plans wasting Ravenheart’s time. Or her own. As far as allies go, this time she has found one that’s already in alignment.


Coming Up

We continue the quest for independence, wherever it will take us. Knowing Aphelion’s consequences, it will take us places not yet considered.

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