Pocket Danger Patrol
by John HarperShadow-Threat-o-MaticGMless procedure and house rules
Kimura the Athletic Sleuth, Oro the Cybered Scout and Valentino the Bio-Enhanced Face (me). I lost the slip of paper with the other players' names on it!
Expert Guards (Kimura), Insectoid Bio-Experiment (Oro), Misinfo / Deception and Time Bomb (me)
We began by generating nine Threats, keeping the four most interesting ones then taking turns claiming them. Given those four details, our Mission clearly involved breaking into a heavily defended top-secret bio-laboratory in some rainy Seattle arcology, probably at midnight. We decided that the Time Bomb should have a two-turn Countdown, the Expert Guards should be Guarding the Insectoid Bio-Experiment, and the Misinfo / Deception had to be defeated first (it was Guarding everything).
We rolled d8's for random Styles and Roles then came up with a Special Ability or two, leaving the rest to be developed in play. Kimura took some sort of Martial Arts, Oro was equipped with Active Camouflage and I went with "Wingman 4.0," a heads-up display that revealed emotional states by analyzing facial expressions and heat signatures. I must have been thinking of this scene
We talked briefly about the nature of our group and our roles within it. Kimura was both the brains and brawn of the operation, while I acted as our front-man for networking and negotiations (Schmooze, 1d8), and Oro handled reconnaissance. Clearly, we specialized in infiltrating high-security facilities just like this one.
I described Valentino as a generic rich Hollywood pretty boy type who occasionally evaded pursuit by ducking into crowds and walking away looking like someone else (Face-Shifting, 1d8). Oro was a quiet mousy type with slicked-back hair and a furtive expression, always glancing around, like a nervous tic. I suggested that his cyberware might make him twitchy and he agreed, adding that they're old first-generation military implants that have compromised his health, and that he took this mission to pay for the necessary upgrades before it's too late. Kimura was a mysterious Japanese kung-fu detective in a black suit and shades. He had no cyberware (was, in fact, spiritually opposed to it) and kept himself in peak physical and mental condition in order to stay competitive. Oro and I agreed that we'd probably have a lot of respect for him, and that we'd usually defer to his leadership and better judgment. But while we were in it for the money, Kimura was in it for the challenge, often accepting extremely dangerous missions just for the opportunity to fight, for instance, a roomful of Expert Guards all by himself.
We went over the dice mechanics then started the flashbacks. Usually, I ask everyone to take turns collaborating and briefly narrating an earlier scene in which they rescued the PC to their left. Those tend to run a little long for a two-hour game, so instead we went around and described how each of our PCs learned something about one of the current Threats.
The first flashback involved our first encounter with the Insectoid Bio-Experiment, maybe a year and a half ago. We were being employed by a corporation known as SILF who were involved in all sorts of shady dealings, mostly concerning high tech research in exotic locations. They'd flown us out to an LA arcology to sneak into a competitor's R&D department, erase all the data and wreck everything. (SILF had recently failed to acquire this company and now wanted it destroyed.) When we were caught in the act and apprehended, SILF activated their contingency plan, and their secret army of terrifying insectoid cyber-monsters suddenly overran the building. Hundreds were killed, the company was ruined, and we barely escaped with our lives.
Oro narrated a brief scene in which he evaded the creatures by using his Active Camouflage and Overclocked Reflexes. He rolled a lot of hits and little or no danger, safely hiding from the swarm in an air duct. Bonus dice were placed on the Threat card, representing the knowledge that, while the insects may be big and scary, they're actually somewhat slow and can be outrun if you just keep your cool.
We decided that we'd had to go underground to avoid SILF's cleanup crews, and that Kimura had never forgiven their betrayal. Recently, we'd contacted a rival corporation to offer them our services and inside information. Our new mission: infiltrate the SILF bio-lab in Seattle and destroy those bugs.
I targeted the Expert Guards for my flashback, describing my recent night out buying drinks for some SILF security officers. My Face-Shifting allowed me to go unrecognized even by guys I'd worked with for years, and I got them talking about their jobs and their current schedules and shift changes. I brought in Wingman to tell me when they were lying or telling incomplete truths, and to cross-reference those with the incomplete truths that other people had recently told me. I rolled a few hits, describing them as new insight into their security measures.
Finally, Kimura vs. the Misinfo / Deception. I owned this Threat and suggested that it represented all of those incomplete truths that we were contending with. Over the years, SILF had disseminated many careful lies concerning this bio-lab's operations and Kimura was having trouble separating fact from fiction. He wanted a scene that wasn't just him sitting at a computer terminal, so I suggested a montage of us gathering information over several nights. While Oro snuck around on rooftops and I ran down my network of informants at various runner dives, Kimura directed our actions and monitored our audio / video feeds from a nearby van. Someone suggested the danger that SILF might have agents specifically watching for just this sort of activity. They might slowly zero in on him over those few nights and come knocking on his windshield. He rolled a few hits and a little danger, resulting in him Being Shadowed. Someone was tailing him, and maybe someone even took a photo of him, but he figured it was nothing to worry about.
Each Threat then rolled against the Mission track, and both the Misinfo and the Expert Guards hit, bringing it down to only four boxes. We took this to mean that the Guards were much better armed than we'd been led to believe...