Jun 10

AAR: Operation Angel Basin Setup

Between May 27 and May 29, a team of four MCs ran a series of linked missions set in a collaboratively generated Sprawl.
This was Operation Angel Basin.

Here’s the initial public pitch. I had a couple of goals for this project. The first was to play a series of linked games, something which my schedule hasn’t allowed recently. The second was to generate a Sprawl collaboratively with a larger-than-normal group. In these posts, I’ll be giving my report in regular text and my analysis, suggestions and thoughts in italics.

Before the convention, the MC team (4 of us–Thanks to Rob, Colin and David!) had brainstormed an overall theme, some implications, and potential mission ideas. The theme was “Cloning”. We had a general idea of how we wanted the plot to progress and what we wanted to be revealed in each of the four slots.

We began on Friday night with a setup session. This was scheduled from 8-12, but we gave stragglers time to arrive and ended early, so it was more like a leisurely 3-3.5 hours. This was the plan:

Welcome and Introduction

(Explain cyberpunk? Explain The Sprawl.)

We had allowed space for 16 players at the setup session. As it was, we had half that, in no small part because of the way I had structured the event. One of my unanswered questions when I developed this concept was “how many players would skip a full gaming session of a 2.5 day convention to participate in a setup session. It was great to see enough interest in the concept that three groups worth of players (including MCs) did so. All the players were familiar with cyberpunk (never a given at a convention or even just a regular gaming table) and all but one had played The Sprawl before.

Bathe it in Neon

Explain overall location for our Sprawl: Los Angeles 2050

  • Have each player give our Sprawl one piece of cyberpunk colour.
  • Centrally locate these so the players and GMs can refer throughout.
  • Ask questions about the colour and its implications for this cyberpunk future.

The colour that characterised our Los Angeles was:

Neon
Continuous rain
Low-grade flooding
Flying cars
Skyscrapers to the stratosphere
Holograms in the mist
Ads on the clouds
Blues and greys and chrome
No AIs… yet
Governments are irrelevant
Sub-molecular robotics (Picites, by analogy from Nanites)

So, a mix of typical cyberpunk (especially Blade Runner) with some unique characteristics. The last item in particular ended up having a major effect on the game.

Rob had a set of portable dry-erase sheets which stuck to the walls (mostly!) with static electricity. We wrote all the cyberpunk colour, Corps, and area descriptions on those so everyone could see them and refer to them throughout.

Make Everything Corporate

  • Each person writes the name and major focus of a Corp on an index card.
  • Explain it to the group.
  • Writes it on a commonly visible surface.
  • Max of 2 minutes each.

The Corporations that ruled our Sprawl (and their main area of operation) were:

Virtua-Combine Electronics (virtual mining)
Sands-Olson Network (media)
Memory Solstice (VR, media)
L.O.B. Co (consumer goods)
Fullerton Universal Kinetic Unified (heavy industry)
Ares Manufacturing (heavy industry, especially asteroid mining)
Google ID (financial)
Verizon-Blackwater.Gov (police and municipal services)
Athenatech (cyber & bio-tech)
Isis and Osiris Inc (rejuvenation technology)
GeneSense (pico-bio-engineering)

That gave us a good range of corporate specialisations.
The time limit was a precaution, but it wasn’t necessary in this case.

Make The Sprawl Dirty, High-Tech, and Excessive

We divided the room into three groups to create three different sections of the Sprawl.

  • Build part of Los Angeles at each table
  • Where is it? What makes it different to today? What makes it cyberpunk? What makes it special? What is its reputation?

Each group had one MC, while I acted as the interface between the three groups. Listening in to their ideas and communicating relevant bits to different groups (for example, the two weather control elements, and the extension of the 10 Freeway to Catalina.

The three parts of Los Angeles that the players created were South Bay-Long Beach, Orange County and the Channel Islands-Cataline Marine Sprawl.

Make Everything Personal

  • Pick playbooks and make characters.
  • MCs ask questions: What makes the characters distinct from other characters with the same playbook? Where are they based?
  • MCs ask the cyberware questions. Who are they +hunted and +owned by?
  • MC’s record answers and make notes on the characters.

As players finished creating their characters we transitioned into a 5 minute break. I began to circulate the sign-up sheets for each of the four game slots.

Entangle the Characters in The Sprawl

We then moved into the modified Links Phase.

  • Each player writes down on an index card a kind of mission their character participated in, the target corporation, and one playbook that their mission requires.
  • MCs collect the cards and arrange them into an order.

This was the part that had the most potential for problems. We had to rearrange the players into two groups of 4, run a brief links mission, then repeat the process three times so that every player got to play out the links mission they wrote down. As it turned out, we didn’t have any trouble.
Our considerations when arranging the missions were:

  • Aligning the required playbooks. So if there was one Hacker and one mission required a Hacker, that mission couldn’t run at the same time as the Hacker’s own mission.

We started by looking at the requirements. If there were multiple missions that required a certain playbook, we started with those to reduce the chance that we would be stuck later.

  • Shuffling the characters to create a thick network of links.
  • Balancing the corporations that were targeted to create drama.

We had two or three runs against Ares and GeneSense, so we started with missions against those two, and ended with missions against those two. Establish the clocks early. Give opportunity to finish with dice rolls with real consequences.

  • Run the links missions.
    1. Go to table, quick intros
    2. Do the scene/mission
    3. Lead player makes the Links Mission Move (a custom move for this Operation)
    4. Characters gain Links as usual.
    5. Repeat until everyone has been the lead character on a mission.

The Links Mission Move
When the corp investigates who messed with their shit, the MC determines which stat best reflects the progress of the mission. The lead character rolls that stat.
10+: The corp doesn’t find much. Describe what they find and increase that Corp Clock by 1.
7-9: Choose one:

  • Someone was running a scheme and you fucked it up. Who was it? The MC will create a Threat and increase that Threat Clock by 1.
  • Whose DNA was left at the scene? Increase the Corp Clock by 1.
  • Who did the Corp catch up with later? The MC will make a move with serious future implications.
  • You were home free until ______ sold that paydata. Take +2 Cred and Increase the Corp Clock by 2.

6-: They’re on you like rice on a California roll. The Corp Clock increases by 3.

As we wound down, I circulated the mission sign-up sheets again.

Think Offscreen

Thanks to a lot of 6- rolls, the clocks escalated quickly! Notably, Ares and GeneSense were 0000 and 2200 respectively. That decided which corporations would start at the center of our story.

Based on the created characters and the post-Links clock states, we whittled down the list of corporations that we needed to think about. The Corps that were central to the series were:

Memory Solstice (VR, media)
Ares Manufacturing (heavy industry, especially asteroid mining)
Isis and Osiris Inc (rejuvenation technology)
GeneSense (pico-bio-engineering)

Corps that played a small roll were:

Sands-Olson Network (media)
Google ID (financial)
Verizon-Blackwater.Gov (police and municipal services)
Athenatech (cyber & bio-tech)

Corps that were only used for colour were:

Fullerton Universal Kinetic Unified (heavy industry)
L.O.B. Co (consumer goods)
Virtua-Combine Electronics (virtual mining)

Several Threats were also generated by character creation, most notably the Pixie KIllers, a gang/resistance organisation dedicated to keeping humanity free of picites.

More in the next post!

Apr 23

Operation Angel Basin

Reports are emerging from Los Angeles of advance planning for a series of ops at the end of May, code name: Operation Angel Basin. Initial reports were sparse:

Operation Angel Basin is a series of linked missions set in a neon and chrome cyberpunk Sprawl. In this setup session we will collaboratively create the Sprawl that will serve as the core setting. We’ll create the important sections of the Sprawl, the global megacorporations that control it, and the badass professional operatives who move in their shadows.

Here’s what we’ve been able to piece together.

This will all go down at Gamex in Los Angeles. Missions will take place in several sessions over the course of the weekend and the operatives undertaking those missions can recur in multiple missions, building up a coherent shared story. (This makes it similar to the Living Dungeon World series from a few years ago. There are a few important differences though, which operatives who remember that series should note.)

Most of the sessions are Mission Sessions, but the first session (Friday, 8pm) will be a special Setup Session.

In the Setup Session, everyone who wants to participate will collaboratively create a world and characters.

  • Players will each create a Corporation (or similarly dominant organisation) using the usual rules for The Sprawl.
  • Players will divide into groups and create characters and detail part of the overall Sprawl that will serve as the game’s setting.
  • Players will create relationships between their characters by playing a few very short missions. (This will be a slightly more involved version of the usual Links phase of character creation. In this version, some parts of these missions will be fully played out using a custom variant of Conduct a Mission.)

After the players have created their characters and the setting, players will be able to register for Mission Sessions to be run throughout the convention.

The Mission Sessions operate much like a normal one-shot of The Sprawl. Players will use the characters and setting they made in the Setup Session, so each game will get to the Mission quickly. We will use the additional time to chrome everything and bathe the setting and characters in neon to a greater degree than is usually possible in a convention slot. We will also fully explore the post-mission complications and discuss the ramifications of the mission to the entire sprawl.

NOTE: There will be no pre-registration for Mission Sessions. Attendees at the Setup Session will register for Mission Sessions after character generation. If there are spaces in any given mission, players can register at the RPG table in the usual way after the Setup Session (from Saturday morning on). We will prepare a number of partially generated characters for drop-in players.

The number of games in each Mission Session slot will be somewhat flexible, depending on interest of the pre-registered players in the Setup Session. So if only 4 players want to play in the Sunday morning game, then that slot might be full and no drop-in players will be able to register.

Stay tuned to this feed for further information as this breaking story develops.

Apr 05

CyberKittens: Project Bakeneko

INCOMING INTEL // Project Bakeneko // Run report..

Their first mistake was to think they could tame the soul of a cat.

Their second mistake was to imagine they could improve it.

Their third mistake was to believe what they were experimenting on were still cats.

Their last mistake was not quite closing the cage door.

CyberKittens: Project Bakeneko releases the Once-Cat, a hybrid fusion of feline and machine, into The Sprawl. Playing a Once-Cat puts an emphasis on transhumanism (transfelineism?) and the dark-bleeding consequences of medical and technological development. As the Once-Cat is implemented as an overlay for existing playbooks, a player can explore these themes whilst also being an active and useful component of any group. Depending on the tone at your table, the Once-Cat can be gritty and hard, a source of over-the-top badass comedy, or anywhere in between.

CyberKittens: Project Bakeneko is the brainchild of Dana Kubilus and the first of two CyberKittens setting mods which will be included in the stretch goal/setting collection which I’ll be collating over the northern hemisphere summer. In the meantime, we thought it be a fun April release. It’s available on DriveThruRPG as a Pay What You Want download and for April we’re donating all the proceeds to spay/neuter shelters in Cincinnati and Seattle.

Those of you who follow @thesprawl_rpg on twitter or The Sprawl RPG on facebook might have noticed that we played a game of this on Saturday night. Here’s a storify of The Pangu Exposure.

End OP report..

Mar 04

Operations.. Wave Front // Fire Breath

INCOMING INTEL // OPERATION WAVE FRONT // Run report..

The main white-on-black PDF was released in the last week of February

In progress right now are more PDF versions:

  • a full colour version of the game rules with black text on a white background (still intended to be read on a screen, but for those who don’t want to read white text on a black background)
  • a black and white print-friendly pdf version of the game rules for home printing

And the final playbooks:

  • Interface data (early draft status) here..
  • Operative data (late draft status – expect imminent update) here..

Once those are set, we will finalise the Print on Demand versions. This will take a little longer as I will order proofs to check that the files print correctly before I make them available. Yesterday I had a chance to check out a book that DriveThru printed last month and the quality is very good, so I’m hoping there won’t be any issues. As soon as I receive physical proofs, I’ll post pictures here.

Finally, the last step will be completing and compiling the stretch goals. Several of the settings are finished, some are almost finished, and the rest will be finished in May and June when I will put those together. My preliminary plan is to release the settings and missions as stand-alone pdfs to backers through Kickstarter updates and dropbox, then to compile the whole collection into a single pdf and PoD which I will fulfill through DTRPG.

OPERATION WAVE FRONT // Text ends..

..

INCOMING INTEL // OPERATION FIRE BREATH // Run report..

Cyber-fantasy fans will be pleased to hear that testing on Touched is progressing nicely. There are a few details on G+ and I tweeted an outline of the game at @TheSprawl_RPG (storified here). The setting is based on the sudden appearance of magical rifts, their exploitation by corporations and their effect on humanity. As it stands there will be:

  • Three setting phases or sub-settings: an otherworldly horror phase of first contact with magic, a phase where humanity has adapted to the new magical situation, and a more advanced transhumanist integration of magic into humanity.
  • The Shaman who has made a deal with an otherworldly horror, can gaze beyond reality and see glimpses of the future.
  • The Mage who has studied magic (usually in a corporate-controlled Magical Order) and learned to summon magical energies, shape them and control them.
  • A new basic move (akin to Apocalypse World’s Open Your Brain)
  • A set of metahuman templates (Dwarf-kin, Elf-kin, Wild-kin, Human-kin)

I have preliminary ideas for at least four more playbooks which blur the line between magic and technology.

Steve is revising the rules as a result of the playtest and finishing some intro material, but backers should expect an update with playtest documents in early March.

OPERATION FIRE BREATH // Text ends..

Aug 06

Operation Indianapolis: The Sprawl at Gen Con

I offered The Sprawl and Dungeon World in the Games on Demand room at Gen Con. Players chose The Sprawl in seven of those sessions and I ran a private game for a backer. That added up to 31 seats (30 unique players—uncluding some of you!) over eight runs of my 2-hour con scenario, The Downtown Datatheft.

I adapted The Sprawl in a few ways to run in a two hour slot:

  1. pre-generated Corporations (the five example corps from the book: Solar Investments, HelixTec, Existence Entertainment, Ecuadine Petrochem, and Shanghai Securities).

  2. six background Mission Briefs (much like love letters in Apocalypse World) which included a prewritten a corporate background (answering the second cyberware question: hunted/owned/independant) and legwork and mission complications.
  3. abbreviating the Links step down to two questions on each Mission Brief.
  4. describing the job rather than playing out a scene with their employer.
  5. abbreviating the Legwork phase to one roll with 7-9 options customised to the Mission Brief.
  6. putting a stopwatch on the players while they made their plan.
  7. pregenerated individualised complications during the mission.

When I described the job, I asked the players which sprawl the game took place in. The eight games spanned the globe:

  • Marakesh, gateway between Europe and the Ecuadine space elevator in Mauritania.

  • ChiNdy, the Chicago-Indianapolis Sprawl.
  • Dubai, bubbled jewel of the United States Arab Emirates.
  • Manilla-Luzon, where underwater arcologies look down on bioengineered coral reefs.
  • London, hypertube-connected tenements sprawling from Bristol to Dover.
  • Bangkok, the Venice of South-East Asia, flood-waters rising, monsoons falling.
  • Detroit, the city of Robocop.
  • The Upper Midwest Megalopolis, draining the resources of the western US and sending back pacification forces.

Some numbers!

The 31 characters were quite diverse in Mission Brief and Playbook selection. The Mission Briefs were quite evenly selected: all were chosen five times except for Owned by Ecuadine (4 players) and Independant Operative (7 players). The most popular Playbook was the Infiltrator (6 players), which matches with last time I looked at playtest numbers. Next most popular were the Hunter and the Hacker (4 players each), although it wasn’t until the fourth game that someone chose a Hacker. Next was Reporter, Pusher, Tech and Soldier (3 each) then Killer and Fixer (2 each). Only one person chose a Driver, and while their plan and the mission setup allowed for some badass driving, they didn’t really do any as it turned out.

My biggest takeaway from these games was to put players on a timer more often. We weren’t really tracking experience, but I did make a set of Mission Directives, the second of which was “If you complete your plan within five minutes, mark experience”. I didn’t realise how much this would throw down a guantlet to the players until the first session. Planning a mission is 2m15.87s seemed very quick, but it turned out to be right in the middle of the recorded times. In the end, the quickest plan was 00m58.28s (the only group with three players) and the quickest time for a four player group was 1m22.64s. Congratulations to the Bangkok and Detroit crews respectively!

The remarkable thing about these times for me was that both the Detroit group (1m22.64s) and the Upper Midwest Group (1m25.44s) both went through at least two revisions of the plan in those times. All eight plans were perfectly workable and all succeeded (the highest the Action Clock ever got was 2200), although characters died in two games (a Hacker in London fried by Black ICE and a Fixer in Bangkok whose base jump went wrong). The Sprawl gives you plenty of help to keep going with the mission once the plan goes wrong, so there’s absolutely no reason to waste time second guessing your cool plan.

Jul 09

Three Tight Jams

As I noted in a (backer only) Kickstarter update, I was at Origins last month. I ran three games of The Sprawl in Games on Demand for players including external playtesters, backers, and interested people who missed the kickstarter.

I ran the same mission three times, The Bogatyrev Jam, a hostile extraction of a mobile target passing through the team’s sprawl, each time with fun and different results. When I run The Sprawl, I usually have the players write the corporations we create on index cards, but at Gamex back in May, I forgot to pack them, so I picked up a noteboard (as frequently used by Fate GMs for recording aspects in play). Here are the Sprawls we created over the three Origins games:

The Amazonian Landfall Sprawl

This was actually two linked Sprawls: The Amazonian Landfall Sprawl in the once-forested upper Amazon basin connected by a corporate controlled space elevator to the Amazonian Canopy Sprawl, a geosynchronous conglomeration of orbital platforms. This mission ended with a bloody, high-speed extraction from a passenger shuttle in the space elevator itself. Bogatyrev did not survive.

The Paris Sprawl

One of the players introduced experimental man-portable laser systems into the fiction… so of course he was sliced in half by laser fire in the final showdown in a narrow Parisian street. I can’t remember whether I advanced the Action Clock to 0000 or not. Either way, the mission ended… poorly. I think Bogatyrev survived though.

The SeaTacPorCouver Sprawl

This one was a tangled tale in which every corp was implicated. It ended with a passenger jet hijacking, an air to surface missile, a spot of intra-team sniping, and Bogatyrev’s corpse dangling from a parachutist. Good times!

Coming Attractions

My next convention appearance will be Gen Con in a few weeks. I’ll be running The Sprawl in Games on Demand, hopefully with a new two-hour quickstart game. I’m running a backer reward game and I’ll try to find time in my schedule for a backer meet and greet; stay tuned! Twitter will probably be the best way to get in touch over the weekend.

Dec 20

Move Cull: Obligations

There are a lot of moves in The Sprawl. I’m in the process of revising and streamlining them. Currently in my sights is Obligations/Hit The Street. This is tricky because there are a lot of flow on effects, especially for the Hunter and Fixer.

Obligations basically has two effects: (1) signposting the potential for Contacts as a source of general complications and (2) specifically complicating Hit the Street.

Contacts as a form of complication (1) is already covered by the MC Agenda (Fill the character’s lives with action, intrigue and complication; Be mindful of the characters personal directives and put your bloody fingers all over them) and thus by the moves and principles, and by the explicit text in the Contact section.

Contacts as a player-facing complication in Hit the Street (2) can be handled by tweaking that move to include a player-selected source of complication. Conveniently enough, that’s a better implementation of contacts as a source of complication anyway.

This is what I’m thinking at the moment:

Hit the Street (Style)
When you go to a Contact for help, roll+Style, on a 10+, choose 3, on at 7-9 choose 2:

  • They have what you want, immediately.

  • You get a little something extra… (choose either +intel or +gear)
  • It doesn’t attract unexpected attention, complications or consequences.
  • The price is fair.
  • They don’t have a pressing problem they need your help with. If they don’t choose this option, take -1 ongoing to Hit the Street until you help them.

Basically now the choice for immediate success on on a 7-9 is between unwanted attention, contact trouble, and extortionate prices. Pick one to avoid.

For reference, this was the Obligation move:

Obligations
At the start of each mission, roll+Obligations. On a hit, one of your Obligations has a pressing problem that they need your help with. The MC will pick the Contact and introduce the problem during the mission. On a 7-9, you can either help your Contact or avoid them and their problem. As long as you avoid them you take -1 ongoing to hit the street with your other contacts. On a 10+, you can’t avoid them or their problem.

Oct 01

Character Creation // Step 8

If you’ve read the Kickstarter Preview [Link accessible for backers only] of The Sprawl, you may have noticed a big highlighted heading, “Extended Chargen Example”, at the end of Chapter 3: Making a Character. Over the next week or two, I will post sections from this extended example. If there’s some aspect of the process that isn’t clear, make a note in the comments and I’ll expand or clarify my description as necessary. The earlier posts are here: Step 0; Steps 1 & 2; Steps 3 & 4; Step 5; Steps 6 & 7.

Step 8: Choose Directives

Norah (MC): Now choose two directives from the list on your playbook. In The Sprawl your character gets better by “marking experience” when certain conditions are met. You mark experience when certain moves happen…

Aanya: Like the Rep move I thought about choosing for Core: “When your reputation gets you into trouble, mark experience.”

Norah: Exactly! Everyone also marks experience when you, as a team, do what the mission requires according to the Mission Directives. Those are different for each mission. Finally, the third way you mark experience is with these Personal Directives. These apply individually, so choose two things from that list that you want to play to and get experience from.

John: Two of mine have a blank spot in. Can I write in when it applies?

Norah: Yes. You just have to make sure the sentence makes sense. Usually it can be a group or an individual, but sometimes one will fit better than the other.

John: Okay, well Oakley is a Masochist. When he suffers one or more harm, I’ll mark experience. He’s also Protective. He has a daughter in The Sprawl; he looks after her and sends her money.

Norah: Tell us about Oakley’s daughter! What’s her name? How old is she?

John: Her name is… Robyn. She’s ten and lives with a foster family. He sees her every week or so. She thinks he’s in the army. Which is kinda true…

Norah: So when Oakley puts his responsibility to Robyn ahead of the mission, you mark experience.

John: Cool!

Takumi: Money is a major motivation for Hub, so I’m going to pick the Financial Directive first: When Hub hinders the mission for a chance at extra profit, he marks experience.

Norah (looking at her notes): Is that how his team got killed in Peru?

Takumi: … Oh… yeah, definitely! He got greedy and they got dead.

Aanya: Yikes!

Takumi: And since then he’s made a lot of contacts in the shadiest parts of cyberspace, trading sensitive information. When his membership in Darknet hinders the mission, I mark experience.

Norah: That’s the Network Directive, right?

Takumi: Yup!

John: How long will it take for Takumi to sell us all out?! Wow!

Aanya: Core’s not going to sell the team out, but she is going to cause trouble. I’m choosing Illustrious! When your desire for fame draws unwanted attention to the mission, mark experience.

Norah: Perfect! What else?

Aanya: Um… Revealing! I want to know more about Hub’s Darknet. When Core discovers more information about Darknet, mark experience.

Takumi: Awesome!

Norah: Lucky last, Sarah.

Sarah: Yeah… I was looking at the full list in the book but I’m just going to choose two from my playbook: Financial and Violent. She has a lot of repressed rage at the corporations, and it often comes out in missions: When she deliberately chooses to use violence to overcome a problem when a non-violent option exists, I mark experience. Financial is the same as Hub has.

Norah: Great, we’re almost done, just one step left…

Sep 30

Character Creation // Steps 6 & 7

If you’ve read the Kickstarter Preview [Link accessible for backers only] of The Sprawl, you may have noticed a big highlighted heading, “Extended Chargen Example”, at the end of Chapter 3: Making a Character. Over the next week or two, I will post sections from this extended example. If there’s some aspect of the process that isn’t clear, make a note in the comments and I’ll expand or clarify my description as necessary. The earlier posts are here: Step 0; Steps 1 & 2; Steps 3 & 4; Step 5.

Step 6: Choose Gear

Norah (MC): After you’ve chosen your playbook moves, look at the gear section of your playbook and follow the instructions there to choose your gear.

Killers get their custom weapon, two other weapons and another item. John gives Oakley a linked silenced machine pistol and a machete as subtle options to balance The Shanghai Special. He chooses a armoured jacket – less protection than body armour, but way less obvious.

Fixers get one weapon and two other items. Takumi chooses a semi-auto pistol, trauma derms and an armoured coat for Hub.

Infiltrators get three weapons and one other item. Sarah chooses a stealth suit, as well as a silenced smg, a hand taser and a sword to give her several quiet options.

Aanya chooses a performance deck and names it Hellblade. She chooses three programs: Lockdown, Sift and Alert to help Core spot and overcome ICE, and make some big scores on the side. She chooses a flechette pistol, armoured clothing, and a flashy motorcycle.

Norah (MC): Once you’ve chosen gear, write down that you have five cred.

Step 7: Consider Background and Contacts

Norah (MC): Next think about your character’s background. Where did they come from, where did they grow up, who do they hang out with? This will guide the kind of contacts you have, so make a few notes about that.

John (playing Oakley): I already said that Oakley has a military background. He came from a working-class Hispanic family in some sprawling megacity on the eastern coast of the US.

Sarah (playing Zero): Zero lived in a middle-class suburb on the outskirts of the Sprawl. She had a happy and sheltered upbringing before the chemical accident. Then she spent a lot of time in hospitals, both for herself and for her family.

Aanya (playing Core): I’m going to play to the stereotype and say that Core is a spoiled brat who ran away from her cushy life in a corporate arcology, Her mother was an executive and her father was a researcher. They left her alone a lot because they were always travelling.

Takumi (Playing Hub): Takumi’s childhood was unremarkable, but he had a pretty decent career in corporate media before he decided to pack it in for the excitement and paycheck of a corporate troubleshooting career.

Sep 29

Character Creation // Step 5

If you’ve read the Kickstarter Preview [Link accessible for backers only] of The Sprawl, you may have noticed a big highlighted heading, “Extended Chargen Example”, at the end of Chapter 3: Making a Character. Over the next week or two, I will post sections from this extended example. If there’s some aspect of the process that isn’t clear, make a note in the comments and I’ll expand or clarify my description as necessary. The earlier posts are here: Step 0; Steps 1 & 2; Steps 3 & 4.

Step 5: Choose Playbook Moves

Norah (MC): The next step is to pick your playbook moves. Each playbook has one or two moves that you get automatically, then a list from which you choose one or two more. Your playbook will say how many moves to choose. Look at that list and pick your starting moves. Some moves might have options to choose from that further define how that move works for your character. Make those choices now too.

Takumi reads the moves on the Fixer playbook and sees that Hub gets two moves automatically: Hustling and I know a Guy who knows a Guy. Takumi wants Hub to be the kind of Fixer whose side jobs support his shadow work, so looks over the options for Hustling and chooses Surveillance and Technical Work as his two jobs. He writes down that he has 2-crew. Hub gets one more playbook move; Takumi chooses Smooth (which substitutes +Style for +Links when helping) because wants to be able to support the rest of his team well, regardless of his personal history with them.

Aanya sees that Hackers get Jack in and Console Cowboy automatically. Neither require any choices. She looks over the rest of the moves and is faced with a hard choice. Aanya wants Core to be an ICE smashing badass, but she also wants her to have a little notoriety. She decides that Core will start off skilled, but not known: the confident and talented young gun with a chip on her shoulder about the lack of recognition. Rep can come later. For her first move, Aanya chooses ICE Breaker to give Core an edge against all types of ICE.

Infiltrators get Covert Entry automatically. Sarah sees Zero as more of a sneaky type than a face, so she chooses Cat Burglar. Sarah already gave Zero a good Edge score, so she decides to double down on legwork and take Case the Joint. That extra +gear (from Cat Burglar) and +intel (from Case the Joint) will give her lots of options to get out of trouble during jobs.

John looks at the Killer’s moves and sees that he has several choices to make. His two set moves are Chromed and Custom Weapon. For Chromed, John looks over the full list of cyberware in Chapter Five, but decides to go with a Targeting Suite so Oakley can use his Synth when he shoots people.

Norah (MC): Who installed that second piece of cyberware and what’s your relationship with them now?

John: It was another Shanghai Security mod; installed before he skipped out on them.

Norah writes a x2 next to “Oakley is hunted by Shanghai Security” on her MC Sheet.

For Oakley’s custom weapon, John builds a big genade-lugging gun. He chooses shotgun as his base and adds the options automatic, hi-powered, and ridiculous payload. He names it The Shanghai Special (4 damage close/near loud messy autofire breach dangerous).

Finally, John considers his move choices. Oakley is already pretty tough in a combat situation, so John decides to give him a non-combat option. He is attracted to Serious Badass which uses Style and Emotionless which would allow him to substitute Synth for Edge when playing hardball. Oakley already has +1 Edge, so Emotionless isn’t much of an improvement and John does want Oakley’s low Style to cause trouble, so he chooses Serious Badass.

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