Project Aphelion Solo Play #047: Step by Step

In this episode we’re continuing our long-ass Scenario of ensuring the independence of the main characters of this story. It’s going reasonably well so far, but we’re just about to get to the hardest part: a Payout 15 Extraction Scenario!


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Scenario 028b: Handing the Notice

After we’ve sorted out our Familiarity with CIA, it’s time to run the Wheeler’s extraction. The premise is simple: we’ve had a very successful conversation with Wheeler’s handlers, connected with the agency, even had them deliver us a pile of intel on the subject of bug spirits – pile that we’re about to spend here. We have convinced the agency that we’re perfectly happy working with them, on both the Cutters’ investigation and the matters of removing bus spirits from Aurora.

Now, we’re about to specify we’re happy working with them. Not for them. Which will make a lot of difference.

Payout: 15 (extracting a R5 (1) Social Crew of Wheeler)
Threat Rating: 15×5 = 75. Reduced by R5 (3) Crew (Tomorrow, Tonight, Wheeler) = 60. Minus 2 for two elementals = 58.
Scenario Rating: 15 + (58/5 = 12) = 27. Spending 12 Intel points to get it down to 15.
Build Points: 15
Free Modules: 15

With Payout 15 and SR 15, the Scenario main Actor doesn’t get any support – we’re just talking to Wheeler’s superior and explaining that:

  • after 5 years of undercover operation, he’s out,
  • they can keep him as voluntary, well-meaning contact at the top of Cutters’ chapter or they can start the whole thing from the beginning, working somebody into the cartel from the ground up,
  • stabilizing the situation in the Aurora is in everybody’s best interest,
  • focusing on the removal of bug spirits is more important than spying on a local chapter of a gun-smuggling cartel.

Again, we’re going with the Social approach against an Investigative/Scientific Actor, forcing them to use the tertiary focus: in this case, this means 5 dice, 3 Actions, 3 skill, 3 Res, 3 Clout, 2 automarks and 2 soak. Also, all attributes at 15 and pools at 30. However, we’re all at Familiarity 10, so the basic difficulty is 1, and skills don’t matter. Let’s roll for the behavior of the main Actor: with a 6, they’re a Support in Conservative Control, which means they’ll try to focus on controlling our abilities to score marks and keeping themselves safe, not on scoring against us, which means that we don’t have to delegate Tonight to action control. It also means they’ll limit themselves to one offensive action each turn, Taking a Breath with all others.


Playthrough

T1:Module 1: Initiation. We’re going with Diplomacy, forcing the Defense to respond in kind.
Scenario complications: 15v3=13/30 (we changed the Challenge to ‘double the SR’, to avoid it triggering always in 1-2 interval)


T2: Module 2: Reiteration.
Scenario complications: 15v3=13+13 = 26/30

Let’s test the Resolve/Conditioning! We’re spending 1 BP here (1/15 BP), adding a new Scene with a R4 default Actor. The dice have decided it will be an Investigative Scene – we’re not sneaking, so I suppose we’re in defense, trying to notice somebody snooping around. We do care about the quiet and discreet nature of this meeting, don’t we? The dice have also decided that we’ll raise the rating of the default Actor to R4 (2) (2/15 BP). We have two Scenes to cover in one interval!

Tonight: MA Conditioning+1, 4v5=2
Tomorrow: MA Conditioning+1, 3v4=2
Wheeler: MA Conditioning+1, 5v1=5
Offense total: 9

Scenario: MA Conditioning, 5v3=4 -> Offense wins, generating 5 Clout in the Finale.


That’s one Scene taken care of. How about the second? Let’s make it an Investigative Defense Scene. Against us, a R4 (2) Technical/Investigative Actor (2 dice in Investigative Tasks, skill 1, Clout 1, Res 1, 0 soak, and 0 automark + 2 ablative automarks), a Support character on Conservative Control behavior (not particularly perky those NPCs today). As they’re sneaking against us, their MT = highest Awareness attribute (Wheeler’s 5) + 2 for 2 extra Actors in the Defense = 7.

Offense: PA Stealth, 2v5=2+3 = 4 towards MT. MT 4/7
Tonight: PA Perception+1, 3v4=2. PA TaB. SP 5/5 MP 7/7
Wheeler: PA Perception+1, 5v6=4. PA Perception+1, 5v6=4. PA TaB, 3v4=3. SP 5/5 MP 8/8
Tomorrow: PA Perception+1, 4v3=4. PA TaB. SP 8/8 MP 8/8
MT: -10/7 -> flip to Offense!


T3:
Scenario complications: 15v3=26+11=37/30 -> 7 net
Complication roll: 5-7 = negative complications  of magnitude 15+50% = 23. Rolled a 4: 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’s inconvenient. But it’s fine, we’ve already won the main Scene in this module, so we’ll just have to restore our communicativeness back to normal. And, of course, catch the person who was trying to spy on us!

Wheeler: PA Perception, 5v7=1 toward MT. PA Perception, 5v7=3 towards MT. PA Tab, 3v4=2. SP 5/5 MP 8/8
Ex-Offense: PA Stealth, 2v5=2 against MT.
MT 12/7 -> Ex-Defense wins, noticing the skulking spy!


Meanwhile:
Tonight: MA Software+1, 5v6=4 towards MT. MA Hacking+1, 5v6=2 towards MT. MA IT+1, 3v8=2 towards MT. PA TaB x2. SP 5/5 MP 6/7
Tomorrow: MA Electronic Warfare+1, 5v5=2 towards MT. MA IT+1, 5v6=2 towards MT. MA Hacking+1, 5v6=1 towards MT. PA TaB x2. SP 8/8 MP 7/8
MT 13/23


T4:
Let us continue fixing our comm glitch – undoubtedly cause by whatever nefarious plan was just unfolding with the sneaking spy.

Tonight: MA Software, 5v6=2 towards MT. MA Hacking, 5v6=1 towards MT. PA TaB x2. SP 5/5 MP 6/7
Tomorrow: MA Electronic Warfare, 5v5=2 towards MT. MA IT, 5v6=2 towards MT. MA Hacking 5v6=3 towards MT. PA TaB x2. SP 8/8 MP 6/8
MT 23/23 -> Comms bug fixed, moving on with the Scenario!


Module 3: Boost Composure. With the complications over, I’m no longer counting intervals. They don’t matter. Let’s get those extra Morale points, why don’t we? CR = Scenario’s Wit, so basically 15. No BPs spent here!

Tonight: MA Diplomacy+1, 5v1=5+1. MA Negotiation+1, 5v1=5. MA Investigation+1, 5v4=3. PA TaB x2. SP 3/5 MP 5/7
Wheeler: MA Negotiation+1, 4v4=3. MA Diplomacy+1, 4v4=4. PA TaB x2. SP 5/5 MP 8/8
Tomorrow: MA Diplomacy+1, 5v2=5+4. MA Negotiation+1, 5v2=5. MA Con+1, 5v2=5. PA TaB x2. SP 8/8 MP 5/8

Scenario: Conservatively. MA 5v1=5.
MT 35/15 -> Offense wins, gets +23 MP each, so I suppose we stop counting them.


Module 4: Dirty Twist. Wit is actually our best approach, but FINE, we’ll go with Resolve for this one and try to reduce the soak in the Finale. MT = 15, and we can only use Resolve skills to get there. It’s still a Social thing, so we’re using the same Familiarity etc. 1 BP spent here, on 1 extra point of Resistance (3/15 BP).

Tonight: MA Leadership+1, 4v5=3+1. MA Teaching+1, 4v5=3. MA Conditioning+1, 4v5=3.
Wheeler: MA Leadership+1, 5v1=5. MA Conditioning+1, 5v1=5.
Tomorrow: MA Leadership+1, 3v3=3+4. MA Teaching+1, 3v3=3. MA Conditioning+1, 3v3=3.
Scenario: Conservatively. MA 5v1=5.
MT  28/15 -> Offense wins, reducing soak in the Finale by 13 points.


Module 5: Distraction. MT = SR = 15, if we win, we start the Finale with SR/5 = 3 automarks. No BPs spent.

Seeing as we use 2-3 actions and Scenario uses 1, I’m gonna rule that we won. 3 automarks in the Finale!


Module 6: Flair. Woohoo! An opportunity to double-up on the Payout! Sure, why not. We get to spend 2 BPs here, and we’re introducing a global Stress modifier! This means that the base difficulty raises to 3. It’ll still get eaten away by skills, but it’ll add up in time (5/15 BP).

Tonight: MA Diplomacy+1, 5v1=5+1. MA Negotiation+1, 5v1=5. MA Con+1, 5v1=5.
Wheeler: MA Leadership+1, 5v1=5. MA Conditioning+1, 5v1=5.
Tomorrow: MA Diplomacy+1, 5v2=5+4. MA Negotiation+1, 5v2=5. MA Con+1, 5v2=5.
Scenario: Conservatively. MA 5v1=5.

MT 35/15 -> Offense wins, raises the Payout by 15. This means Finale has Challenge 15, Res 30 and ablative soak 30 (-13). We come in with 5 Clout and 3 automarks. Gotta fix our odds!


Module 7: Poise.Time to take care of that Resistance. 3 BPs spent here, all on a situational modifier for Logic in the module. No spellcasting this time! (8/15 BP)

Tonight: MA Diplomacy+1, 5v1=5+1. MA Negotiation+1, 5v1=5. MA Con+1, 5v1=5.
Wheeler: MA Leadership+1, 5v1=5. MA Conditioning+1, 5v1=5.
Tomorrow: MA Diplomacy+1, 5v2=5+4. MA Negotiation+1, 5v2=5. MA Con+1, 5v2=5.
Scenario: Conservatively. MA 5v1=5.

MT 35/15 -> Offense wins, reducing the Finale’s Resistance by 20. This means Finale has Challenge 15, Res 10 and ablative soak 17. We come in with 5 Clout and 3 automarks.


Module 9: Play the Odds.MT=Payout. If we win, we’ll apply a +3 mod on Defense’s Actions in the Finale.

We will win. Dice said so. So, in the Finale, we’re facing global mod +2, Defense is facing +5 (the skills won’t save them now!)


Module 10: Dirty Twist. Let’s go for the soak reduction again, using our Resolve instead of Wit. No BPs spent.

Tonight: MA Leadership+1, 4v4=2+1. MA Teaching+1, 4v4=3. MA Conditioning+1, 4v4=2.
Wheeler: MA Leadership+1, 5v1=5. MA Conditioning+1, 5v1=5.
Tomorrow: MA Leadership+1, 3v2=2+4. MA Teaching+1, 3v2=2. MA Conditioning+1, 3v2=3.
Scenario: Conservatively. MA 5v1=5.

MT  24/15 -> Offense wins, reducing soak in the Finale by 9 points. This means Finale has Challenge 15, Res 10 and ablative soak 8. We come in with 5 Clout and 3 automarks.


Module 11: Dirty Twist. I don’t want this soak. 3 BPs spent here, to increase the Actor’s tier! As they start as R5, the next step is R5 (2), then R5 (3)*1, then R5 (4)*2 – which means a R5 Actor with 4 ablative automarks and 2 rerolls! (11/15 BP)

Tonight: MA Leadership+1, 4v4=2+1. MA Teaching+1, 4v4=4. MA Conditioning+1, 4v4=3.
Wheeler: MA Leadership+1, 5v1=5. MA Conditioning+1, 5v1=5.
Tomorrow: MA Leadership+1, 3v2=3+4. MA Teaching+1, 3v2=2. MA Conditioning+1, 3v2=2.
Scenario: Conservatively. MA 5v1+4 automarks=9.

MT  22/15 -> Offense wins, reducing soak in the Finale by 7 points. This means Finale has Challenge 15, Res 10 and ablative soak 1. We come in with 5 Clout and 3 automarks. I think we can leave that 1 point of soak be.


Module 12: Poise. Time to take care of the Resistance that’s still here. No BPs spent.

Tonight: MA Diplomacy+1, 5v1=5+1. MA Negotiation+1, 5v1=5. MA Con+1, 5v1=5.
Wheeler: MA Leadership+1, 5v1=5. MA Conditioning+1, 5v1=5.
Tomorrow: MA Diplomacy+1, 5v2=5+4. MA Negotiation+1, 5v2=5. MA Con+1, 5v2=5.
Scenario: Conservatively. MA 5v1=5.

MT 35/15 -> Offense wins, reducing the Finale’s Resistance by 20. This means Finale has Challenge 15, Res 0 and ablative soak 1. We come in with 5 Clout and 3 automarks.


Module 13: Distraction. MT = SR = 15, if we win, we start the Finale with +SR/5 = 3 automarks. 1 BP spent on extra point of Resistance (12/15 BP).

I mean, we won, +3 automarks in the Finale! This means Finale has Challenge 15, Res 0 and ablative soak 1. We come in with 5 Clout and 6 automarks.


Module 14: Distraction. Let’s just do it again, at this point it’s our best choice. No BPs spent, +3 automarks. This means Finale has Challenge 15, Res 0 and ablative soak 1. We come in with 5 Clout and 9 automarks.


Module 15: Showdown! We’re fighting for 30 points of Payout here.

Tonight: MA Diplomacy+1, 5v1=5+10-1 soak. MA Negotiation+1, 5v1=5. MA Con+1, 5v1=5.
Wheeler: MA Leadership+1, 5v1=5. MA Conditioning+1, 5v1=5.
Tomorrow: MA Diplomacy+1, 5v1=5+4. MA Negotiation+1, 5v1=5. MA Con+1, 5v1=5.
Scenario: Conservatively. MA 5v3=4.

MT 53/15 -> Offense wins. By a lot.


Wrapping Up

Payout: 30 (15 points for Wheeler’s extraction, 12 to buy out the lost Familiarity, 3 points of Intel. The first two will tick off the two parts of the complex Scenario for us, the intel is just random 3 points of Intel) 

Rep: +30 for Tomorrow and Tonight. Meaning +6 points of Influence for our Faction. 

Familiarity: Extracting Wheeler is a hostile Scenario and it causes 6-point drop with CIA, but the extra Payout brings us back to Fam 10. No harm, no foul, right? CIA likes us, even when we’re stealing their agent from them. Also, +1 Scenario (3/4) to get back to Fam 10 with Wheeler. 

Assets: Well, I suppose now we have a R5 Commander in our Faction. I told you it’s gonna happen sooner or later.

Skill learning
Tonight: Diplomacy +6, Conditioning +4, Perception +1, Software +1, Hacking +1l, IT +1, Negotiation +4, Investigation +1, Leadership +3, Teaching +3, Con +4
Tomorrow: Diplomacy +6, Conditioning +4, Perception +1, EW +1, IT +1, Hacking +1, Negotiation +5, Con +5, Leadership +3, Teaching +3
Wheeler: Diplomacy, Conditioning, Perception, Negotiation, Leadership

Scenario consequences: As we’ve finished the Scenario with an absurd number of net marks, that means 45 points of positive consequences for us (Payout +50%). With a 6, we’re getting another think-tank project, but as the consequences were triggered by a hostile move, we’re getting it from CIA’s most hostile competitors, which in their case means Ares Firewatch. It’s a good thing we’ve already connected with them and convinced them to have our back in this whole thing.

Also, contextual Scenarios need work. There’s not enough variety and it needs a more varied, responsive algorithm to perform well in solo play. It’ll do in GM’ed session, but we have bigger plans than that.


Just How Long Was that Scenario?

Here’s where we are:

  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

Let’s be honest, the hard parts are already behind us – which means that we can run the rest of those pieces through quick resolution, because this game is really not about taking over the Cutters’ business. It just kinda happened through the consequences.

Tomorrow needs to take care of the think-tank project with the Firewatch – openly and legally, as it’s just a part of her security consultancy job to advise the Firewatch, but Tonight and Wheeler are free to do other things.

Tomorrow works with the Firewatch (R5 Faction) in their primary Investigative focus, which means rolling 5 dice each day, so she’ll gather 45 marks in 9 days, ending on July 31st with 45 intel points, no net marks, and no further consequences. That keeps Tomorrow busy until the end of the month, so the rest of the Faction needs to deal with the world without her.

We’ll be using Intelligence Center to take over the Cutters’ Assets without the Cutters realizing – after all, nothing really changes hands here; we’re just gently and quietly transferring the ownership and loyalty from the semi-corporate to a sole entrepreneur. The Intelligence Center covers an Asset in all Scenarios for as long as it’s sustained, so we’ll make it cover Wheeler’s tracks as he sorts out his own damn business, like an adult he is. We’re not in a rush whatsoever – if anything, we won’t be picking up crews and fleets this month, because we don’t want to pay their maintenance costs this month. We’ll take over the Facilities, as their upkeep is reasonably cheap, and we gotta start somewhere.

Meanwhile, Tonight will do her monthly dealings from the Income Scenario, and then, I guess, will start working on taking over the Shadowmarket…? If we’re already building a kingdom…


Who’s Your Boss?

Over the course of our Shadowrun campaign, Wheeler went from the Cutters’ local bookie and accountant to the commander-in-chief, mostly thanks to ruthlessly using everything our party has done to his advantage. Even when we royally messed up, he just shifted the blame for subsequent problems onto his back-then boss, Logan, who got demoted and shipped out to Seattle. As Friese, the second-in-command, had no desire to run a cartel, Wheeler took over and never let anybody to threaten his position.

Him and Tomorrow are made for each other.

Now, he gets to shift the loyalty he’s been building over the year to himself personally, untangling whatever business Cutters are doing in Denver from the rest of the cartel. We’ll start with the easiest: three R1 Facilities, as him and Tomorrow start having plans for the area. Each of the Facilities comes with 10 Extras, so we’re actually taking over the people, not buildings. The buildings stay where they are, of course.

We’ll start with Best Western Hotel, the R1 Habitat (Social). As this is a Payout 3 Scenario, and Wheeler’s a R5 Asset, we know how this will end – with a success and 5 net marks. The consequence roll landed on a 4, giving us ultimately a 9 and positive consequences of magnitude 4; with a 7, the target Faction’s most hostile competitor has gifted us with information about a potential next Scenario with Payout 4. As we’re working against the Cutters, the Scenario comes from Phase, who is still at Familiarity 1 with the cartel – and is actually one of the few people who know about the whole operation. I love it when the narrative aligns.

Best Western, from now on, will bring us passive income of monthly rent (not much, it’s a crappy building in a really bad neighborhood, and rent’s really cheap). We’ll upgrade it later.


July 23rd, 2056

‘How’s the Firewatch gig going for you? Did you make new friends already?’ Phase’s voice is light and teasing, and Tomorrow can’t stop herself from returning the smile. As hard as it is to talk over the roaring of the engines, those two hours on Friday afternoons have quickly become her favorites. She looks at the team racing one another through the narrow, maze-like lanes of the arena below, trying to steal a flag.

‘Yeah, Ravenheart and I spend most of the time braiding each other’s hair. We look at the satellite maps and thermal imaging, then unbraid everything and start anew. And after ice cream, we go and burn down a spirit or two. It’s like a pillow fight, only we’re not in our underwear.’ 

‘Oh, the visuals. You remind me of my younger years.’ Laughing, Phase picks up one of the baseballs lying next to her and hurls it at the team’s goalie. The leather ball hits Mike straight in the arm, causing him to drop the tetsubo. ‘Oi! I’ll see you do this again, and you’ll be sweeping the whole damn arena. No spitting on my turf!’ She catches Mike’s glare and points at her eyes, then at him. Only after the young ork nods, she leans back in her seat. ‘I’m proud of you for carrying the mantle. Not that it matters what I think, of course.’

‘Of course it doesn’t. But thank you. Want to join us?’ 

‘Nah, I’m married now.’ The runner winks, leaving Tomorrow with a feeling that she took a wrong turn and suddenly found herself in a different part of the woods. ‘I think I’m done with insect spirits for the moment. I got a bunch of teenagers to get back in shape. I was thinking we could have the trainings more often, and maybe add some other stuff to it…’

‘Like what?’

‘Like things that are actually useful in life? Let’s be honest, most of them won’t go into professional sport. Sharpie could, if she gets smarter and finds a team willing to pick up a physad. Mike too. The rest? I know it helps them to have something cool in their lives, but it’s high time I teach them other stuff than just shooting, punching, and biking. So they have more options than gangs and the shadows.’

‘Sounds like you’re are setting up a community center for youth-at-risk-of-delinquency.’ 

‘Maybe. I don’t know yet.’ Phase shrugs, her eyes following the exploits of the bikers below. With the official training over, they are just messing around, practicing the tricks and laughing like teenagers should. ‘I used to volunteer at one, back in Chicago. I got the time and means,’ she adds with a grin, opening a bottle of water and taking a swig. ‘One of my old teammates hooked me up with a nice opportunity to cash in on my special skills, so I did. But that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about.’

Tomorrow closes her eyes shaded by the sunglasses and tilts her head back, enjoying the late afternoon sun. ‘Oh? What do you need?’ 

‘I need nothing. But listen – now that you’re setting up your new independent life and all, how about your arm candy chats with my arm candy, and they make some good decisions unimpeded by Seattle gang politics? It would be silly to let the enmity between the Cutters and the Ancients stand on the path to our collective happiness and prosperity.’

‘Bikes and guns, eh?’ Tomorrow can’t help but laugh at Phase’s smooth but obviously fake attempt at negotiation. They both know it’s better left to other people.

‘Untapped potential and a valuable alliance, according to Ice. Wanna come by our place tomorrow evening? We’ll braid each other’s hair, they’ll make some shady deals behind the backs of their past gang overlords, and everybody will be satisfied in the end.’

‘You’re doing it on purpose now, aren’t you?’ There’s no need to read an aura, not with that tone in Phase’s voice. Yet, Tomorrow hates guessing. She opens her eyes to the astral space. Phase’s aura is vibrant and glowing, with specks of amusement glittering right on the surface.

‘I am. It’s just hilarious how you blush. For a fearsome witch, you’re such a baby.’

‘I have no idea what you’re talking about.’

‘Uhm, yeah, sure you don’t.’ Phase’s grin is infectious, and Tomorrow soon finds herself laughing too.

‘Are you really gonna make fun of me for spending five years hooked up on drugs in a solitary cell instead of dating and socialising?’

‘Yeah.’

‘You know it was deeply traumatic and left me scarred for life? Like, literal brain damage?’

‘Yeah.’

Tomorrow chuckles and shakes her head. ‘Oh, get bent. I’m more than happy with my first and only boyfriend. We’re getting married as soon as we’re done with all of the current workload. Count yourself invited to the party, if you and Ice feel like coming.’

‘He hates parties, but I’ll pop in. I’m happy for you. Adam’s pretty cool – especially since he’s not a Cutter. And I suppose you don’t want to wait, huh?’

‘Adam doesn’t either…’ Tomorrow narrows her eyes, looking at her companion suspiciously – until she catches up. ‘Yeah. Of course you get it. How’s that going for two?’ 

‘Fine. Like you, Ice is not getting any older. But I’m only twenty-seven. Life’s dangerous as fuck, and the chances of either of us living until old age are minimal. So we just decided to not worry about the whole metahumanity shit and focus on what’s important to us right now.’

Tomorrow eyes Phase’s bottle of water, then smiles. ‘Gotcha. Well, good luck. I’ll make sure to have some lemonade at our wedding. Consider the offer to hunt down insect spirits with me withdrawn.’

‘As long as we’re still up for that hair-braiding, I won’t really miss out on any of the fun.’


First Deal out of Many

As a quick interlude in his quest for autonomy, we’ll send Wheeler to strike the first of the deals for our Faction’s benefit, not for the Cutters’. As this is only a Payout 4 Scenario, we won’t bother with playing it in full. It’s a Social Scenario of negotiations that will bring us 4 Payouts of cash money, because we’re about to incur some high costs of running a Faction and need to build a solid foundation for it.

R5 (1) Crew: 5 dice, 5 skill, 3 Resistance, 3 Clout, 2 soak, 2 automarks. +1 automark for 1 Actor
Scenario Payout 4

Legwork: Skipping to not waste a day
Threat Rating: 4v8 = 1 (-2 soak) = 0.
TR 0-0 = 0
Challenge: Payout + 0 = 4.

R5 (1) Crew needs to score 4 marks. Wheeler is rolling 5 v 6 – 5 (skill) + 4 (Payout Resistance) – 3 (Clout) = 5v2, and starts with 2 automarks, plus scores +1 in each roll. Scenario rolls 4 v 6 – 1 (number of Actors) + 3 (Resistance) = 4v8, and gets hit with 2 points of Soak each interval.

T1: Offense: 5v2=5 +3 = 8. MT 8/4. Defense: 4v8=2 (-2 soak) = 0. MT 8/4 -> Offense wins, with 4 net

That’s +4 cash for the Faction, +4 Rep and a tick in Negotiation for Wheeler, +1 beneficial Scenario with Phase (3/4 needed to get to Fam 10). Consequence roll landed on a 3 +4 net marks = 7, so there are no further consequences of this. Just a nice double date between friends and some mutually beneficial deals on guns and bikes.


Step by Step

Moving on! The next step (July 25th) is taking over the Command Center, and as it’s another Payout 3 Scenario, it ends with the same math. We’re still covered by the Intelligence Center, causing no drops in Familiarity with the Cutters. It gives us a R1 Command Center (with projects of adding Warfare Clout/Resistance in projects and Scenarios), Wheeler get’s +3 Rep (netting us an Influence point), +1 mark in Leadership. Consequence roll lands on a 7 +5, generating a positive consequence of magnitude 5. With a 1, it’s another magical Anomaly and potential 5 points of Karma to collect in a Scenario – if somebody has the time to deal with it (we already have one with Payout 4 on back burner).

We proceed with the whole thing the next day (July 26th), taking over the Barracks (giving us access to Protective Duty and Provoke Response projects). +3 Rep and +1 Leadership tick for Wheeler, positive consequences of magnitude 5, with a diplomatic meeting to establish relations with the target Faction’s most hostile competitor. Sadly, we already have established Familiarity with literally every Faction that has Familiarity with the Cutters, so it’s either bumping the Fam with Phase +1 or creating a new Faction. The dice have decided it’s the former, so best-friends-only Fam 10 has been established. The Cutters are still none-the-wiser that we’re taking over their business thanks to the Intelligence Center.

However, just because the Cutters don’t know it’s us who’s taking over their business, doesn’t mean they can’t notice something is going on. Now, all they need to do is run a Moleworks project to ‘find an ongoing Project with the desired Payout.’ However, this project requires the Ghostworks Investigative Facility, and they don’t have it. Conveniently, they have a Fam 10 ally who has both the facility and the means to run this project for them – only, it’s us. This means that they (Cutters’ command in Seattle) will reach out to Wheeler to reach out to us to figure out the situation, and we’ll stall or redirect their ire at some other target… I don’t know yet. We’ll see whether Tomorrow feels more like biding time or causing chaos. Probably the first, because we don’t have a good target for blame-shifting – the best call would be Ancients or BBs, but both would come with more problems than we care to solve. We can definitely stall the until the end of the month (it’s only a couple days more), giving Wheeler the time needed to finish his solo quest of… ah… establishing dominance.

The Scenario of extraction of a R3 (2) Warfare Crew (Giorgio and Stella) will be much harder (Payout 9), so I’ll put both Wheeler and Tonight on the job. It takes place on July 27th.

R5 (2) Crew: 5 dice, 5 skill, 3 Resistance, 3 Clout, 2 soak, 2 automarks. +2 automarks for 2 Actors
Scenario Payout 9

Legwork: Skipping to not waste a day
Threat Rating: 9v7 = 2 (-2 soak) = 0.
TR 0-0 = 0
Challenge: Payout + 0 = 9.

R5 (2) Crew needs to score 9 marks. Wheeler and Tonight are rolling 5 v 6 – 5 (skill) + 9 (Payout Resistance) – 3 (Clout) = 5v7, and start with 2 automarks, plus score +2 in each roll. Scenario rolls 9 v 6 – 2 (number of Actors) + 3 (Resistance) = 9v7, and gets hit with 2 points of Soak each interval.

T1: Offense: 5v7=3 +4 = 7. MT 7/9. Defense: 9v7=3 (-2 soak) = 1. MT 6/9
T2: Offense: 5v7=1 +2 = 3. MT 9/9. Defense: 9v7=4 (-2 soak) = 2. MT 8/9
T3: Offense: 5v7=2 +2 = 4. MT 10/9. Defense: 9v7=6 (-2 soak) = 4. MT 6/9
T4: Offense: 5v7=4 +2 = 6. MT 12/9. Defense: 9v7=3 (-2 soak) = 1. MT 11/9 -> Offense wins, with 2 net marks.

This Scenario has brought us a R3 (2) Warfare Crew, +9 Rep for Tonight and Wheeler, +2 Influence points for the Faction, tick in Negotiation for Tonight and in Leadership for Wheeler. Consequence roll 5 +2 = 7, nothing else happens here.
And it brought us here:

  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

So close! Now, do I want to stall with the Hellhounds and the Fleet, so I don’t have to pay the monthly upkeep costs…? Nah, let’s just get this over with. The help won’t be necessary, so Tonight is back to doing what she want’s to be doing (we’ll get there in a moment), and meanwhile, we keep Wheeler busy.

The R1 Fleet extraction is a Payout 3 Scenario, so it goes the obvious, well known way: +3 Rep, +1 tick in Leadership, 5 net marks, ending with positive consequences of magnitude 3: a Faction hostile to the Cutters’ gifts us a project with Payout 3, so we’ll cash in on another lucrative deal from Phase & Ice – sport is great for betting, and casino always wins.

This leaves Wheeler with the last extraction: the Hellhounds. A Payout 6 Scenario, so we actually have to roll for it.

R5 (1) Crew: 5 dice, 5 skill, 3 Resistance, 3 Clout, 2 soak, 2 automarks. +1 automark for 1Actor
Scenario Payout 6

Legwork: Skipping to not waste a day
Threat Rating: 6v8 = 1 (-2 soak) = 0.
TR 0-0 = 0
Challenge: Payout + 0 = 6.

R5 (1) Crew needs to score 6 marks. Wheeler is rolling 5 v 6 – 5 (skill) + 6 (Payout Resistance) – 3 (Clout) = 5v4, and start with 2 automarks, plus score +1 in each roll. Scenario rolls 6 v 6 – 1 (number of Actors) + 3 (Resistance) = 6v8, and gets hit with 2 points of Soak each interval.

T1: Offense: 5v4=4 +3 = 7. MT 7/6. Defense: 6v8=2 (-2 soak) = 0. MT 7/6 -> Offense wins, with 1 net mark.

So, a R2 (2) Crew of contractors is ours. +6 Rep for Wheeler and +1 tick in Negotiation, +1 Influence point for the Faction. No further consequences.

Now, just the ‘wrap everything up,’ which is that Payout 2 Scenario of free Influence… But it’ll wait until next month. Wheeler gets two days off on July 30th and 31st, equalizing his schedule with Tomorrow’s, which is important for reasons.

  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 29th, 2056

Salazar narrows his eyes suspiciously the moment he enters Adam’s office and sees Sarah in one of the chairs. It’s not one of their usual meetings, not this late in the afternoon, and the mage instantaneously switches to a high alert. Not that Adam doesn’t trust his head of security, but having Sarah here serves more than one purpose. Just in case.

‘This doesn’t bode well,’ declares Salazar, taking just a step inside the room and lingering close to the door. ‘Somebody’s gonna die, right?’

‘That depends entirely on how this conversation goes,’ laughs Sarah, causing Salazar to tense up even more. He glances at her lounging leisurely in the chair, a hellhound puppy in her lap, and he’s clearly on the fence about the situation, even when Sarah adds: ‘I’m joking. Chill.’

‘Sit down, Sal,’ cuts in Adam, shaking his head. ‘It’s important, but not a matter of life and death.’

The mage nods and takes the other chair, next to Sarah. He casts her another suspicious glare, but seems to relax when she responds with an exaggerated eyeroll. If he noticed her observing the astral space – he shouldn’t, not with Sarah’s skill at masking – and reading his aura, he made no sign of it. ‘So, what’s up?’

‘This is for you. And for yours.’ Sarah hands him a plain blue envelope, which Salazar picks up with two fingers and opens after a second of hesitation, all the time looking as if he expected it to explode.

Adam watches the unfolding scene, wondering what exactly has been happening between the two of them over the last year to warrant this ridiculous mix of distrust and loyalty.

The envelope doesn’t explode, of course.

‘This Sunday?’ asks Salazar after reading the short invitation, written in Tonight’s surprisingly exquisite penmanship. ‘I don’t know, I think I’m at work then.’

‘Consider yourself having a day off for the occasion.’ Adam leans back in his chair. ‘Unless we’re under attack for some reason.’

‘It’s not like you have anything better to do,’ supplies Sarah with a grin, her fingers gently petting Nabucco’s shiny black fur.

‘Fine. I’ll come to your party. But don’t expect me to dance.’

‘I expect you to have fun. For a change.’

Ah, that’s the moment.

‘I’ve heard you’re bored in my employ.’

His calm words have an immediate effect. Salazar sits up straighter, and his eyes momentarily go hard and guarded, making Adam partially regret the approach they’ve chosen. But then, they don’t have a whole day, and Salazar is not a child. He either can adjust to the situation or he’s a liability.

‘I don’t know where you heard that.’ He has a passable control over his face. One can barely notice the split-second angry look he throws Sarah. ‘You have any complaints about the quality of my work or are we in the rumor business now?’

‘Sal, it’s alright.’ Sarah responds with a friendly smile. ‘Really.’

‘I have no complaints about your work,’ agrees Adam. ‘You’re the best security officer I’ve ever had. I was wondering if you’d be interested in a small adjustment to your terms of employment.’

‘Like what, exactly?’ The spark of careful interest in Salazar’s eyes is unmistakable, and Adam sees no reason not to treat his ally with the trust he has proven to deserve.

‘As of yesterday, nothing around here belongs to the Cutters anymore. Not a single gun, not a single person, not a goddamn stone. You were never a part of it, but I see no reason why you should be kept in the dark about this slight change.’

‘So whose is it…?’ Salazar looks at Sarah, his brows furrowed.

‘I told you Adam and I were fine, we just needed to work out a couple of things before the wedding.’ She pokes Salazar’s shin with her boot – gently enough to not wake the dog sleeping in her embrace. ‘We did.’

‘Of course you fucking took over the whole business. This is not even surprising. Does Seattle know?’ 

‘They don’t. They have lost any oversight months ago. Denver is a fully independent chapter. If Seattle tries to sweep in, we’ll deal with them. Quickly.’ 

Sarah grins and Salazar’s mouth twitches even as he’s trying to keep his face neutral. ‘You see, we don’t like people telling us what to do with our lives,’ she explains. 

‘There’s only so long one can work for other people,’ agrees Adam. ‘Which brings us to the next point. Do you want to work with us instead of for us?’

‘What’s in it for me?’

‘Freedom. Agency. Lack of boredom. Personal goals. Share in the spoils. Take your pick.’

Salazar considers Sarah’s offer for a second, then shakes his head lightly. ‘That’s a very pretty picture you’re painting. Details,’ he demands, turning back to Adam. ‘What’s your plan?’

‘We want to make this place worth living in – which means both convenient and profitable. I have no interest in taking over more turf than the area near Best Western and Shadowmarket, I want trade and security. Sarah is working with Firewatch to get rid of insect spirits nearby, so we don’t get nuked like Chicago, and afterwards, I believe, it’s more magic research.’

Sarah nods. ‘I have several leads on very weird things happening in the Warrens’ astral space. And I want to chart that leyline we’ve tapped into before, maybe use it for a bit of geomancy. This should keep me busy until the new semester at uni.’

‘So the question is: what do you want, Sal?’

It takes him a while, but nobody is about to rush him. If anything, Adam is happy Salazar is taking his time – it beats half-baked ideas spewed out in the heat of the moment. It’s not like they don’t expect Sal to make certain calls – there’s a reason why they took Nabucco to the meeting. Finally, the mage raises his head, staring at Adam with a challenge. ‘I want my fucking gang back.’

‘Deal.’ Adam stifles a triumphant smile, his guess at Salazar’s price proving correct. He likes winning those little bets with Sarah. Gangers will be gangers, even if shown options of a better life. Although, he probably shouldn’t judge – not in the light of his own decisions. ‘We’ll help Hellhounds rebuild. I’d rather have you as an ally than as a bored employee.’

‘I’d rather have you as a friend,’ Sarah adds without any pressure. ‘Help us change this hellhole into something better, Sal. Mostly for our collective benefit, not gonna lie, but incidentally also for other people. As long as they’re on our side, of course.’

‘A witch, a warlord, and a blood mage.’ Salazar shakes his head, a nasty smile on his face. ‘They’ll either nuke us or buy the rights to a movie. Either way, it won’t be boring. I’m in. Nice touch with the dog, I’m flattered you put so much thought into convincing me.’

‘We value your support and co-operation…’

‘…You assface.’

Salazar laughs. ‘You two deserve each other. If you try to screw me over with this, I’ll burn your house down. But as long as we’re on the same side – I’m looking forward to the new arrangement.’


Coming Up!

We rewind the time a bit, take a look into the spirit world, and then it’s high time to roll to the next month and finally fisnish this completely unexpected Scenario with the Cutters!

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