[Tears in Rain] The Girl With the Shades

edited December 2007 in Actual Play
We played Tears in Rain. Two players, my friend Joe M and I. We know each other quite well, socialise as well as game, and have been doing for at least three years, I think. Joe, you just chime in whenever, these are my personal reflections, they are most certainly biased.

So, none of us have played Trollbabe before - I have read the rules several times lately, but Joe only managed to read through most of them shortly before we met up. I think it's fair to say that I lured Joe (and possibly myself) into trying the game for real via Tears in Rain. Trollbabe is sharp. Razor sharp. No, vibro-blade sharp. And Tears in Rain IS an interesting angle upon the original TB system, which I have no doubt is a classic. A masterpiece. I want to like Sorcerer better, but it's very, very hard not to love TB. Keep in mind, though, that we were both TB novices before this game.

Nuff said, we met. I had planned a small set op Stakes & Consequences (think: a town in Dogs) on a personal scale, with a teeny-weeny relationship-map as well. But Joe suggested I'd be the Blade Runner and he the GM instead. Hell, why not? So I came up with a character while Joe had a quick think about the adventure. We also briefly discussed the sleekness and beauty of TB and how impressed we were by the clarity of the game text.

I came up with Simms, an uncool Blade Runner. His number was 6, with specialities Combat( Firearms), Tech(Information Retrieval) and Social(Insightful). Simms wears a woolen hat on his balding head, leather gloves and boots. His personal stuff is a silver flask and a slinky. His gear is a recording kit in a suitcase and night goggles. His gun is a Neidegger Runner Elite.

Fade in...

"Give me a hardcopy right there."
The player has to decide on the location of the first scene. I chose Simms's apartment, which he shared with his mate Bundo. It was the regular poker night with two other friends attending. Simms wanted to go to bed, but Bundo was all "no way, have a stack of chips and keep playing". I called a conflict right there. Simms wanted to win all the remaining poker chips in one last high- stakes hand of poker. Action-type was social and I chose the action-to-action pace because it seemed nicely topical. Anyway, I failed the first roll and called upon a relationship to reroll (Dreyfus, one of the other guys, also a policeman) and won in the end. Simms bluffs big time and wins the lot. Bundo leaves the apartment, slamming the door.

In TB/TiR the GM narrates successes and the player failures, which is REALLY strange but very cool.

Next day, Bundo doesn't show up for lunch with Simms, which is strange. Bundo is a technician with the ETL corporation, and never late or ill. You see where this is going, yeah? To cut a longer story short, Simms uses his working time and resources as a policeman (and a string of successful rolls, I might add) to discover the following:
Bundo didn't show up for work.
An Asian teenager showed up asking for him at his work - second-hand clothes all around but hi-spec shades and a wallet full of ID cards. The girl's voice ID was that of the City's most popular pop singer Jamillah, who is 30 and Hispanic. WTF?

Simms visits Jamillah, who is weird and all over him. He barely escapes her approaches. Another successful roll locates Bundo as having spent money at the scruffy motel Lucky 7. He takes the monorail but is followed by the Asian girl with the shades and a huge old-looking black guy. Gets off at a seedy station, runs to the mens room and waits for his pursuer.

Conflict with big black guy - Joe called it and the guy just wanted to intimidate Simms, while Simms wanted to shake him down. Here's how fucking cool this system is: Joe called the conflict, e.g. he gets to decide the action type (Combat, but could have been Tech or Social, totally up to him) and the Pace, e.g. how many successes you need to roll to achieve your goal. I succeed the first roll of two needed. Joe narrated how Simms ended up on the wet floor of the mens' room, dropping his gun but somehow with the black guy's BIG GUN in his hand. Next roll: failure. Simms pulls the trigger and blows off half the guy's arm. Guy doesn't even flinch, but instead bashes Simm's head against the tile floor until there's blood. Third roll: failure. Big ouch, and I give and gets to narrate how the black guy takes his BIG GUN back and kicks Simm's Neidegger into the pissoir. Black guy knows Simms's name and everything, plus he works for ETL. Fuck.

Nuff said, back at the apartment Simms, beaten up and miserable, calls Jamillah, who comes over RIGHT AWAY and is even more weird and pushy and up fucking close. In my mind, I think: I should run a Voight-Kampff test on this girl, she's weird. Do I do it? Nah, Instead I call a conflict: I show her a video of the black guy: "Do you know him?" And fail the roll. I reroll "A sudden reveal" and states that the guy is mentioning Jamillah's name, and roll. Failure. Again. Simm's is out cold. Incapacitated. I narrated Jamillah hitting him on the head with a booze bottle.

Epilogue: Bundo leaves the City with his girlfriend the replicant Asian girl with the expensive shades. Big black guy strokes Simms over the head and tells him everything is going to be OK. Simms offers him a sip from his flask.

Fade out...

I really enjoy playing with Joe - I love it when I can throw him off balance with a remark or an observation, and when he does the same to me, all in-game. We created an amazing version of the Blade Runner setting, plus I felt SO MUCH like the protagonist in a Chandler story.

Joe, you had some good points about TiR and the necessity of replicants being part of the setting, plus some issue about not knowing what was expected from you as the GM. And did you enjoy it as much as I did?

EDIT: Placed thread in the proper category and a typo


  • I really enjoyed it, and it did feel terribly noir: "What? Who? Oh crap, I'm tied to a chair."

    I'll add some thoughts in the morning, but I was genuinely surprised you weren't Voight-Kampfing all over the place. Is fending off latina pop princesses just a part of your daily routine, Per? Jeez! :D
  • Nice write-up, P-man.

    I was pleasantly surprised by the depth and communication of Trollbabe. All I really knew was 'there's a single Number' and 'it has stakes'. I didn't know about stakes vs goals, how injury worked, the pace system or the content players and the GM had jurisdiction over.

    It was difficult to get started. I had to come up with Stakes, but not communicate it to the player? But the Stakes had to interest the player? How do I do that without communicating or seeing flags? And for the first scene, the player's chosen location had no easy connection to the Stakes. Building from there towards the stakes felt artificial.

    I really enjoyed playing the replicants as big, awkward kids. They're children wearing their parent's shoes. Jamillah was all over the place, wildly inappropriate. She latched onto any compassion the cop showed her. We had a fun bit where she was trying to make Simms stay by holding the glass to his mouth, as you would a child. The big guy's stroking of Simm's hair was another fun image.

    Towards the end, I had a realisation about this variant. In Trollbabe, it's entirely obvious who's troll and who's human. In Tears in Rain, many stories will inevitably have to be about finding out who's a replicant. While bladerunners are apart from humans and replicants, this is not the same role as the trollbabes' place in the world. So perhaps Bladerunner isn't a great fit. That said, you could make it more obvious who the replicants were, at least to the PC. Mechanically, that could be a reroll source. Or you could make it absolutely clear during free-and-clear stages whether the NPC was synthetic.

    A world where it was obvious who was real and who was artificial would be a clearer match to Trollbabe. But perhaps a less interesting one.
  • So cool. I'll have to talk one of my local groups into trying this.
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