Saturday, April 18, 2020

Chrome•Hammer: //Grid Lock

Another Chrome•Hammer playtest!  This time it's a VR mission, with the goal of controlling all four Stacks on the table.  Forgive me for not being particularly clever here.  I'm just trying to log this for posterity. :)

Here's the table.
Tron, eat you heart out!
These are the Stacks.

This is a Stack.  The fact that it is actually a stack it totally a coincidence.
These are the Corporate IC programs.  Two Sentries™, a D-Mon™, a Watchdog™, another Sentry™, and a WizzardEye™.

If I had more time or less quarantine, I'd have gotten some better minis.
These are the 'Punks, all hidden.  Amaranth, Bloo, Verdun, Flavio and Agent M.  Why does Agent M look different? Because I had a cool VR model I wanted to use.  This is Agent M's "C0R4X" avatar.  I'm lazy, so nobody has anything special except for Agent M, who has a Cyberdeck.

I wanted to make some 2D shrinky-dink "avatars" but I didn't have time.

The first turn, everybody moves forward as quickly as they can.

Pretty standard so far.
The Corporation's Order dice both came up less than the number of Stacks they control (4) so they get two VR points.  Three programs approach, heading in the general direction of the 'Punks.

Icehouse pyramids work really well for this aesthetic.
The two black ones are VR points.
Two of the 'Punks make contact with Stacks.  The others make for the other side of the table, but they are hindered by having to move in straight lines, because cyberspace.

For a moment, I thought this might be too easy.
The Corporation scores another VR point, giving them 3, and spends one to Overclock the WizzardEye™, letting it get into position to scan Agent M.  Unfortunately, it fails, and wanders off a half move in a random direction.  I wanted to use the Glitch ability to randomly move an enemy, but I didn't have enough VR points.

Haven't yet taken down the Christmas tree from the last office party.
On the 'Punks' Phase, Flavio and Verdun try to Hack the Stacks, but the Corporation spends a VR point each to Lag them, bumping their target numbers to 10+, and they each fail, losing more Stealth in the process.
Who hacks a Corporate VR node using dial-up?

Agent M and Bloo approach a third Stack, but don't have time to to Hack it yet.  On the Corporation's Phase, several programs advance toward them.  The WizzardEye™ fails again, but the Overclocked Watchdog™ gets close enough to spot MAgent M is Exposed!

Woof!  Woof!  Woof!
Agent M and Flavio manage to Hack two of the Stacks!  The mission is half done!  Unfortunately, Verdun fails again and is Exposed!

L337 H4XX0RZ!

Amaranth sneaks over to help, but not before a Sentry™ attacks Verdun, driving him away from the Stack!

Ouch!  Damned campers!
Even worse, a Sentry™ and the Watchdog™ gang up on Agent M, the Watchdog™ Overclocking again to attack him a second time, knocking him offline and Tagging him!

That dog is a menace!
Despite controlling two Stacks now, the 'Punks don't manage to generate and VR points.  Amaranth tries to Hack a third Stack, but fails.  Verdun and Flavio both try to destroy the Sentry™, but it fights back and both are injured further.

I feel like this is where it really started to go wrong.
The Corporation, only controlling two Stacks, manages to barely eke out 1 VR point.  Then things get hairy as the Sentry™ shoots down Flavio, Tagging him and removing him from VR.  A second Sentry™ scans Amaranth, but for only 1 point, which isn't enough to Expose her, but the Corporation makes good use of it's single VR point, allowing the first Sentry™ to go again, scanning Amaranth for a point automatically in a Close Call, and following it up with a "free" attack.  But Amaranth sends him packing!

Or maybe here's where it went wrong.
On the 'Punks' Phase, Amaranth blows her shot at the Stack, leaving her standing in the open.  Verdun shoots at the Sentry™ near him, and manages to hurt it, but its counterattack finishes Verdun off. :(

Ok, things are definitely going downhill now.
I can't remember why this Sentry™ is injured, but whatever.  He shoots Amaranth and down she goes!

Thankfully, he doesn't have time to perform a "teabag" animation over her corpse.
Bloo Hacks the third Stack successfully, but now the enemy are swarming him!  Luckily, with no Exposed 'Punks on the table, the guard programs have slowed down a bit.

"Threat eliminated.  Entering power-saving mode."
Next turn, Bloo makes for the last Stack.  Unfortunately, he's up on a construct and that slows him down.  On the other hand, he managed to gain two VR points this phase, and uses them both for extra Orders that get him into contact with the last Stack, but not soon enough to Hack it.

Something funny about being fast.
The enemies pile on, forcing Close Calls until finally the D-Mon™ Exposes Bloo and burns him for four damage!  (And more importantly, forces him away from the Stack.)  I'm thinking if the 'Punks (well, 'Punk) don't get any VR points this Turn, it's probably over!

Boss music starts playing...
Bloo was closer than I thought!  He moves up to Hack the Stack, but the Corporation uses their last VR point to Lag him, giving him a +2 target number penalty!  But Bloo managed to generate a VR point of his own!  Looking back, he probably should have just saved it, and taken a second action, but instead he uses it to Firewall, negating the Lag.

Unfortunately, he still rolls a six, which fails!

The Corporate units then proceed to dog pile him.  They lose every Assault, but each one does a guaranteed point of damage, and soon, Bloo is out!

Dying Pac-Man noise.
There you go!  That actually seemed to play pretty well!  I might be just about ready to do something with all of this soon!

Ĝis la revido!"

Jason "Ludanto" Smith C;E

Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Department: Seventh Mission

Mission Seven: The Nightclub

Sorry.  I've been sitting on this one for quite a while now because I didn't have the "nightclub" terrain I needed.  Sure, I could have faked it, but I was also looking for an excuse to do some crafting.  So, after a long time, I finally built my nightclub set, and I'm using it for this mission.  It's not perfect, but it's pretty good, I think.

Ok.  Let's get on with The Nightclub.
Agent M has to get into this nightclub to plant listening devices in the offices.  That's it.  If things go well, this will be relatively boring, and nobody will get hurt.

It's probably called "Tech Noir", but without my AR goggles, who knows?
Despite the trench coat and waving his man-stopper pistol around, this is an "under cover" mission, and as such, Agent M isn't allowed to bring backup or any big guns.  I do spring for some body armor (Budget 1), though.  Just in case.  With the mission cost of 10 Budget and 2 Place Evidence, this brings my Budget down to 41.

The Setup

There's a crowd standing in line by the front door, where an armed bouncer... bounces things, I guess?

Very popular spot with the local zombie cosplay enthusiasts.

At the back  door is another armed guard.  And inside are two more, milling about the dance floor, which counts as one large, hard-to-disperse crowd.

"Does it smell like pee back here to you?"
"Yes, Other Barry, yes it does."

Turns 1 & 2

Agent M starts one move into the board, and the first turn charging toward the door.  Six dice only yielded two goals, though, so he didn't quite make it there.  On the second turn, Agent M makes contact with the bouncer at the door and tries to Negotiate [TN3] his way in.  M's Intuition + Fate + Edge gives him 7 dice, and he rolls 1,1,2,2,3,5,6.  Yuck!  Only the five and six are goals, but the six counts as two goals, giving me the three that I need.  Agent M agrees to go out with the bouncer's ugly sister if he can get in, so the bouncer lets him.

I know this looks intimidating, but people are really casual
about guns in the cyber-future.

Turn 3

Agent M runs an impressive 13 cm through the crowd, toward the first office, taking a brief moment to enjoy the live music.  Well, live singer.  The music is pre-recorded.

♫Personaaal responsibility!  Personaaal responsibility!♫
♫Bullets are the beauty of thy blistering skyyyy!♫

Turn 4

One of the interior guard turns and stares right in Agent M's direction.  M can't let himself be seen going into the office, so he just hangs out all casual-like by the office door.

"Uh, pardon me.  Is this the way to the restrooms?"

Turns 5 & 6

A lucky break!  Both guards face away from the office, and Agent M slips unnoticed through the door!  He then spends the next full turn planting the bug in a plant.  Hopefully the guards will stay occupied for one more turn.

Agent M proceeds to molest the ficus.

Also, I don't know how to handle the bouncers outside.  I mean, they shouldn't be wandering off, right?  They've got jobs to do.  I just ignored any instructions for them to move away from their posts.

Turn 7

Agent M's luck holds!  He dashes out of the office and starts for the other one.

The other guest looks at him in disgust.
"Dude, did you even wash your hands?"

Turns 8

Another amazing run puts Agent M 14 cm across the room at the other office door.  Unfortunately, one of the guards can see him from there, so that's where he waits...

"Don't mind me.  Just standing here checking FaceBük on my uPhone."

Turn 9

Well, crap.  Both guards turn in M's general direction.  He's going to have to wait it out, and hope that they don't notice him.  He moves behind the bar a bit just in case.

"No patrons behind the (neon) yellow line!"

Turns 10 & 11

Now's his chance!  Agent M ducks into the second office while the guards are looking away, and installs the other listening device behind a friendly-looking cube.  Unfortunately, he's now trapped, and will have to wait for the guards to move away again.

♫This was a triumph!  I'm making a note here: Huge succes!♫

Turns 12 - 16

Ugh!  Come on, you guys!  Move!

While he waits, M builds a rapport with the cube.

Turn 17

Finally!  It's a close thing, but there's just enough room to duck out without being seen!

"Holy crap!  Does anybody else see this laser, or is the Molly kicking in?"

Turns 18 & 19

With the mission complete, M ducks out the back door and disappears into the city.

[Longing look at cube.  Sheds a single tear.]

Post-Battle Results:

Nobody was KO'd (See? Boring!) so there's no need to roll for injuries.

Agent M gets +1XP for surviving the "fight".  Each bug will earn him 1d6 (4, 2) Financial Evidence, but it's not really "in the field", so no bonus XP there.

Station Actions:

Agent M gets one Station Action for free.  I want to convert some of my excess Evidence into different types, but the kind that can be converted is the kind that I don't have.  So, might as well ask for more Budget with a Negotiate [TN3(5)] test.  Nope. Bupkis.

Internal Affairs

Well, at least I didn't get any IA points.


Budget: (-11) 41/100
XP: (+1) 4
People Evidence: 1/2
Place Evidence: (-2) 1/4
Electronic Evidence: (+4) 4/1
Financial Evidence: (+2) 8/3
Physical Evidence: 0/1

I don't know which mission will be next.  I've got to bump up my People, Place, and Physical Evidence before I run out of Budget, though.


"Uh, so you're Larry's sister, eh?  What's with the frying pan, anyway?"

Ĝis la revido!"

Jason "Ludanto" Smith C;E

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Chrome•Hammer: //Virus Upload

This weekend I had a chance to playtest some cyberpunk minis beta rules.  Welcome to:

In the first mission, FOZ Pictures Corporation fought Meyerdyne Corporation over a resource extraction site.  Despite Meyerdyne's ED-2099 droid turning more than once on its own units, the pharmaceutical corporation came out on top, dropping FOZ's stock.

Meyerdyne captures the resource extractors.
Now it's time for some payback!

FOZ uses back-channels to hire a crew of 'Punks to sneak into a Meyerdyne installation and upload a virus, so that's what they do.  Here's the Meyerdyne compound.  Sorry for the terrain.  I'm still building up a collection.

In the future, all terrain is Taco Bell.
The yellow triangles are spawn points.  There's a basic guard at each.  The Corporation spent its extra kilobitcoins on a camera, an automated turret, a security drone, and a cyber-watchdog.  The turret and the camera start on the board, but the drone and the dog are waiting in the wings as reinforcements.

And these are our 'Punks for this evening's entertainment:

The bright colors don't seem very stealthy, but they make
for great camouflage in the neon-soaked future.
From left to right, Amaranth has a cloaking device, Verdun has a cyberdeck for hacking, Agent M has a cloaking device, Flavio has a laser-sword, and Bloo has, you guessed it, a cloaking device.  All of the 'Punks start hidden.

The mission goal is simple.  Get to the Objective and hack the virus into it.

It looks like a bomb, I know.
But there are a few distractions as well.  There are a couple Data Terminals with juicy pay-data waiting to be stolen...

The red light means they need a courtesy clerk at this one.
... and Loot Crates with high-tech gear, also waiting to be stolen.

But it's usually just junk left over from conventions.
If you're familiar with Squad-Hammer, the rules work basically like that.  The 'Punks go first, because they're the ones infiltrating the base.  Since they're currently hidden and need to get all the way to the other side of the table, they run for it, of course.  Only four of them are able to activate, though.  They swing wide to avoid the camera at the corner of that raised platform with the green stripe.

Right about here was the last time I thought this would be easy.
You can see that blue "1" beside Verdun.  That's because he ran too fast and too loudly.  He's gained a point of "Pulse", which puts him 1/6 of the way toward being Exposed.  The guards have moved toward the group, but they move slowly because they don't know that there's anything to be concerned about.  Yet.

At the end of the second round, Agent M has opened a Loot Crate and found a dose of Joltt™, a sort of automatic healing injector.  Cracking the crate gives him 3 Pulse (-1 for his cloaking device), and two of the guards passing by failed to spot him, but got close enough that Agent M took 2 more Pulse. Verdun ran straight for the objective in the back of the picture.  He's still hidden, but once again he ran too loudly and gave himself another Pulse.

I think they fill these crates with 'Punk-nip, to lure them in.
After the third round, Bloo, in the bottom right, failed to hack a Data Terminal, locking it (and removing it from the table).  This gave him 3 Pulse, but his cloaking device soaked one of them. Flavio ran for the door of the building and gave himself 1 Pulse.  And Verdun failed to hack the objective, taking 3 Pulse.  Yikes.  The guards still don't know there's anybody here, though.

Verdun's our hacker.  This should have been a cyber-cake-walk.
This job is taking too long!  A drone spawns, scanning for trouble.

[Hover-noises and beeping]
Round 4!  Verdun tries to hack the objective again, and fails again, despite the +2 bonus from his cyberdeck!  With 7 Pulse, he's Exposed!  All of the guards know where he is now, and come gunning for him!  These three shoot at him and manage to hit him for four damage (out of seven).  They're close enough that he does get to shoot back, though.

Too many nights playing Call of Duty XLII.
Not enough nights practicing hacking.
When the alarms go off, a cyber-dog is dispatched as well to help track down any intruders.

Meanwhile, Amaranth has been sidling up to this other Data Terminal, and managed to hack it on the first try, but a guard and the drone are on her scent, and she's in danger of becoming Exposed.

I guess Amaranth is the better hacker.
On the fifth turn, Verdun tries the hack one more time, and fails AGAIN before finally trying to duck back into this alley to escape.  But he's not fast enough, and this guard drops him!

Shouldn't have run.  Just got shot in the back.
Amaranth tries to run as well, but she's isn't quite around the corner before she's filled full of lead!

Better hacker.  Not better dodger.
On round six, the dog that Bloo has been struggling with finally takes him down.  Normally, he would have run, but the dog has a special ability to lock its jaws on you and keep you in the fight.

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend.
Inside of a dog, is where Bloo is now.
I'm considering failing the mission and just running for the exit at this point, but these 'Punks are n00bz, and the only thing they'll lose if they're killed is their names, and the awesome Mazamun-A™ laser-sword that Flavio found in a loot crate on the roof of the building earlier.

No, it's OK. We can do this!
So, Flavio and Agent M go for it!  Agent M actually had a lot of Pulse earlier, but took a few  turns to hide before sneaking across the compound.  Unfortunately, that stupid dog scented him, and with a lucky roll inflicted 7 Pulse!  That would have been enough to Expose Agent M right in front of the turret, but luckily his cloaking device kept him just barely hidden.  Flavio, on the other hand, fails to hack the objective and is Exposed!  This again! :(

But Agent M is a bad-ass!  He swoops in and hacks the objective, successfully uploading the virus!  Mission accomplished!  Time to get out!

Flavio, why do you have snausages in your pocket?
Round 10 is a terrifying battle in the alley behind the building.  Flavio had run initially, but comes back to slash the cyber-dog off of Agent M, giving him time to use the Joltt™ that he found to revive Verdun!  This might turn out OK!

Right here is where some people quit.  Not allowed to hurt dogs in media.
Buuuut, it doesn't.  The drone and the other guard have cut off their escape!  Flavio is down and everyone else is seriously injured.  Verdun is hidden at least, but that won't last long, and he still can't move through enemy figures.

Sad music starts playing.  Things start going slo-mo.
On round 13, Agent M and Flavio make meaningful eye contact and with bloody screams charge at the enemies!  They do some damage, but they're too hurt, and they get gunned down on the dirty concrete of the Meyerdyne facility's back lot.

Dramatic, artistic ending.  Damned indie films.  What kind of ending was  that?
Points-wise, the 'Punks score 15, but the Corporation scores 35.  Meyerdyne doesn't lose any stock, but FOZ doesn't really lose anything either since they hadn't really invested anything into these 'Punks yet.

Since the Corporate player didn't lose, the next mission is randomly rolled.

This seemed pretty rough for the 'Punks, but if they had made one of those first couple of hacks on the objective, it probably would have been a different story.  I liked how things played out.  It never felt unfair and I felt like I had some options while I played, although it can be hard to tell how much fun the Corporation player was having, since I was playing both sides.

Perhaps I'll share more if I play again.

Ĝis la revido!"

Jason "Ludanto" Smith C;E