Thursday, January 24, 2013

The New Crew

My opinion on setting up for a run is that you need to be light about it but you need to think it too and if you go too light or too ready it's no good either way.  I had a long time to consider things while healing up and helping out them Farthrow missionaries, and I figured that I was pretty used to setting up and working a plan and maybe that's where I had that problem before.  Plans were like wishes and you could get attached to wishing instead of seeing what you got.  I was just about ready to get back down in The Cut and maybe find some folks and join their crew and I decided to go lighter the next time I did a run, less thinking it.  I was putting it off mostly, I knew I was on top of things again from a physical angle but I wasn't too happy about having to be low cat on the scrotum pole and having to smile it up or fight all the time anymore.  So it was lucky me when the Dubliner pilot Patio came looking for me in the creche.  I kind of considered old Patio a decent guy because he represented himself very well when we jacked his shuttle that time.  I was kind of surprised when he said he knew a fellow that was looking to get a crew together because I thought offworlders were kind of like them adams and all businessmen and workers and all tubes and cubes and stuff.  But I should have known there was crews out there in the other worlds too cause people need to get by, funny ways or not.

I kind of figured that I'd have to prove myself and so right off when Patio introduced me to the crew boss I made myself useful and hooked him up.  He said he needed to do a run for some data and I knew I could help out and make some points with him because I still had a line on access chips.  He sure was a weird guy though and I couldn't figure his tell or if he was playing me or not because he set me right up with some really fresh gear for that find.  It was really fresh gear too, way too good for some old finder share.   I watched him real close but couldn't figure him so I suspected he was working it to see what I would do.  I made he was running a test on me but not like the usual fight or beatdown, he was running my personality.  He asked me what kind of trade he'd need to get a decent corp chip so he could tap their terminal and when I asked what he had, he pulled out some real quality meds and food bars.  We were in a pretty crummy dive and he was waving around some real flash and attracting lots of attention which I also couldn't figure.  And sure enough one really big old mutie comes over to mess with him and then I knew what was going on.  This was a set up so I could call this guy out and he did it because I was so small and all and he figured I'd back out and he'd get back all that gear anyhow.  Well he didn't know that I was Eloi, and that was really some quality gear.

The mutie was really big and he had some kind of skin thing that made him look pretty tough and hard to cut.   He was touchy about it too and tried to give the boss a hard time over it.  There was a small gang with him but he was a bit spooked and cooling off a bit too and also a hard guy in the bosses crew had give him back some spine while he was sniffing around.  He started walking away and so I didn't want to miss my chance so I called out 'Hey you forgot yer skin cream' and sure enough then he comes at me like a storm.  I figured I should play it a bit cause this was my show, so I waited for him to close and then jumped up at the last when he took his swing. But factually I was still a bit tight and I botched it up.  I hadn't done much slash and tumble in the cloud hugger creche, so I was way out of practice.  I jumped too slow and he clipped me pretty good and I was on the floor.  Ugly's buddies step up too thinking maybe they'll score some of our flash, but the rest of this new crew is all moving in on them and it's back and forth a while and everyone in there except the boss. Then I saw my chance to put this guy out and quick as tunnel snakes I jump up and drop the guy.  We lit out of there pretty quick after that.

I thought the boss would be all perturbed because I botched it, but he was still playing it really fresh.  I couldn't figure him out, either he had a wicked hard scheme running or maybe he was just all tell and didn't care. He wanted to know the best way across town to my chip guy and when I told him we could go below and use the tube he was all for it, till he found out we'd have to walk.  I guess on his planet they have trains running in their shit tubes or something.  Anyway he wasn't hot to walk so we got a rickshaw and I made a good trade with some of them food bars to get us there without any shakedowns or jacks.  I was all tweaked too and feeling very fine because this crew seemed alright and wasn't mean or stupid either.  This crew were almost like folks, and we were on a run.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Le Havre

I got to play this at Hammercon and I enjoyed it so I ordered a copy of it (from this great on-line game store in Canada German Boardgame Company which is another post itself really) and I got a chance to play it a couple times over the holidays.  I'm not going to go into the mechanics or the theme since you can read about it, but it's a resource manipulation game where you build up wealth by converting raw materials into goods and money and investing in infrastructure.

First thing - Cards and Cardboard.  This game comes with a lot of cards and a lot of cardboard.  There are lots and lots of tokens for the resources.  Cardboard chits represent cows and clay and fish and iron and wood - it's all about the goods.  I played twice with containers for those chits and one time using the spaces on the board and I believe that you need to have some strategy for managing the cardboard or it gets out of hand.  Little square bowls seem to work best - especially if you can put them on the board in the spaces provided.  There are cards for buildings and ships that need to be laid out and also the turn sequence is done using cards.  Have enough space at the table for players to organize all their building cards and resources too.

Next thing - Time.  It's a good three hours if you play the short game (the one where you start with more goods and play fewer rounds).  If you play the full game you start with less goods and really feel you are building up from scratch, but it's not a lot different in the end, just longer.  It's just like Titan in that respect.  You can start with more tokens and some of the early combos done for you already and it won't really change the game, but it will seem like you've cheated.  I say don't be afraid of the short game, especially if you're playing with less hardcore gamers or those with less patience.

How does it play?  I really like it, it has a lot of fiddly bits which I enjoy and there is a whole strategy in blocking other people from using buildings that can be interesting.  It isn't directly confrontational but there is a feeling of resource pressure from the other players which I don't get out of Puerto Rico.  I enjoy the hard decisions and the game moves quickly for a turn based.  Set up is an ordeal however with many cards to arrange and tokens to pass out, so a good storage strategy is essential if you don't want to add that time to the start of the game.

I like it and it fits into the same niche as the Mayfair crayon train games or Puerto Rico.  Its a good grown-up family game.  I haven't played with less than 4 players (played 4 and 5) but apparently it plays well with 1-5.  I don't see myself playing it single player since I'd just play a video game instead of wrangling all those chits around - but if the power was out and the zombie barricades were all in place it might be fun.  I'd try it with 2-3 however and it probably works much better than the train games or Puerto Rico with smaller numbers of players.  There is also a stand alone 2 player game called Le Havre: The Inland Port which looks interesting because it does away with all the goods tokens in favour of a resource dial or something.

Le Havre is a good game.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The worst thing

The worst thing that ever happened is when I got shot.  I can kind of remember my mother, and it was pretty bad when she went away, but that was a long time ago and it's hard to remember that time.  I still remember every part about getting shot though.  I can remember jumping down from the window. I can remember the dusty air pulling against my arms as I slid out my knives to take the guy out.  I can remember the merc and how his visor reflected the flash as he stepped out from the cargo door and the weight of the thing as it slammed into my chest.  It didn't even hurt, it just slammed into me and spun me in the other direction.  I can remember not being able to get a breath and then blood in my mouth and I couldn't see anymore, just white.  I can remember hearing folks and guys yelling and more shots but I don't remember what they were yelling.  I remember being surprised that Cross was there and not up watching the window and then he picked me up and there was so much pain.  I don't remember after that, but he said he thought I was capped for sure and he just grabbed me so he had something.  He thought he was capped too.  He got out though.

I figure that it was Lad that tipped them off, and that's how they knew we were going to do the port run and how they set up for us.  I don't know what he got for it, but folks never saw him again so he either got a lot or they tossed him in the cycler.  He wasn't on the run, but almost everyone else was because I had planned it out forever and it was going to be a real good one, real big.  I had the stock lists and all the right gear and even some suits and chips from their corp fuzz.  I got it all together after we found a guy that had keycode for InterSee, a low grade shipping corp that had warehouse at the port.  I used those credits we had and it was planned out and we were stocked legit for a run on them.  The list said there were only a few guys on security and we had a perfect run getting in, but that was all sour because when we got in they had mercs set up for us.   They got a lot of my crew right off, most of my crew capped or caught, and even the ones that got out went deep after that. I didn't see those folks again.  They could have killed everyone, they could have changed the chips too so we couldn't even get in, but InterSee wanted to make sure our gang did get in and was busted up, and they wanted some folks to get away too.  They wanted folks to know.  It was pretty smart if you think about it.

I was laid up for a long time, like just a month just trying to not be dead. Cross always said he knew a bunch of adams up in the city that were as good as folks and ran some kind of crew that helped out muties and bents.  They lived in ships or something and were all deep thinkers and holy rollers who came down to G4 to  be good and helpful or something.  I didn't figure any of that, and I used to say they must want something but now I don't know because they took us in and didn't flag or turn sour on us either.  Not that I had a choice trusting them, I wasn't going to make it in The Cut the way I was busted up.  I always figured Cross was angling to be boss of the crew and that he didn't much like me cause he always got on me about things, but he was good folk and he took care of me even though he didn't have to.  I didn't figure it back then but now I think maybe he didn't care about being boss as much as he wanted it to be good for the crew.  He took care of me because I was all the crew that was left.  Anyway these adams did patch me up and were all pretty chuffed to see me and they even knew I was Eloi and that was pretty important to them for some reason.  They knew a lot about my mutie though like how I didn't look old and how I could live with a broke heart for so long.  They even seemed kind of sad about it, like when you owe someone for a trade but you can't make good on it.

The adams were from some place called Farthrow which wasn't in any of my code or even the files I read from that datacore.  I wanted to run some searches or navsim  and check that out cause I was laid up with nothing to do.  They didn't let me use their gear though, and mine was all spragged and no way to fix it.  I didn't even have any of those old audibles to listen to and all the stim these adams had was like clouds whispering or something.  I was nearly out of my mind bored except that Cross would come by and tell me a joke or blow some dust up some adams back for a laugh.   They were so easy to dust and they had a really bad tell so you knew just how to twist them up too.  He would tell me about some folks we knew or if he saw someone from the crew or what he heard going on.  He stopped coming though.  The adams let me stay with them for a couple months more and I kind of helped around the place while I got better.  I was itching to get out of there though, I thought I might try to find Cross or maybe see if I could get in with a new crew.

And then that pilot showed up.

next: The New Crew

Friday, January 11, 2013

What's all this then?

I suppose if you are one of the two people reading this who aren't ad-bots you noticed that there's been a bit of weird sci-fi diary posting going on.  Well last session my RPG group all sat down to create the setting and characters for our next game, Diaspora.  Diaspora is a FATE based game and so I'm pretty stoked to try it out.  I found the book was both compelling and a bit frustrating since it was done in a very narrative and conversational way but could use some better organization and perhaps even a bit more deconstruction on some of the FATE concepts at least relating to character creation.   Still it's pretty cool.  It took us all evening to work up a cluster and some characters so we could start playing next session and I thought it was a really fun way to kick off a campaign.  It was kind of like the game of Fiasco but more buildy and less gamey.  I had no problem with that since I love world building and especially collaborative world building.  I had no trouble building my system and it was fun setting up the cluster and everything.  I found that it was hard to build a good character in that session however.  I think that it was a great way of building a framework for a character, especially how they are integrated  in the setting, but it wasn't easy figuring out how the character worked, how they thought or what they wanted.  FATE starts characters off as whole people and advises if you want character progression you build it in by elevating and lowering skills or changing aspects over time which I can grok, but it's harder than it looks starting out.  Perhaps my problem is  that because I'm a big proponent of emergent story I'm not used to including that arc into my character.

Anyway I'm eager to figure it out.  I kind of knew what I wanted to play but I wasn't entirely satisfied with what I had  built on the fly.  The basics were all good and I felt at one with the setting, however I had no idea about how the aspects I had jotted down would get me the character I wanted to be playing.  There was a disconnect between the aspects and what I saw my character doing.  The skills I picked were better but I must admit I chose them more to match expected challenges I'd likely face and less to provide a dynamic character story.  I know it was problematic as soon as I finished and when everyone in the group was reading of similar list of high skills like alertness, resolve, stamina I could see they were doing it too.   Experience with other games has prepared us to maximize our mechanical skills over designing characters based on a narrative arc.

So I used the framework of the character story I had, the setting material and the inter-player connections, and started writing a first person narration.  That was even more fun than the quick build (but it couldn't have happened without that short outline).  I found that the extra room of the narration really filled out the character in a way that a couple quick short paragraphs and shoe-horned in aspects and skills did not - especially for planning the character's arc.  I am certain that there are people that can do it that way, quick thinking thespian sorts that can come up with a complex persona in a few lines but I had really mull things over and let the character emerge.  I found the character telling me most things I wanted to know about their motivation, their skills and what level of skill they had from the narration which I think is the way it's done.  If you've played FATE before you probably trying to figure out what my problem is since it's all clear and understandable to you - well piss off because it wasn't.  I just had to work through it myself.

Anyway here are the links to those narrations all in one place.   I found them amusing as well as helpful. I might even continue on some kind of narration as we play.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


I copied that datcore before we swapped it.  I had to do a lot of trades to get that gear too but I think I'd gone nuts without it.  Most folks have a basic set of hookups or they have really solid gear cause they are working code, but I never worked much code.  I could have if I wanted to, but if you want to be good you have to work it all the time and working code all the time is pretty stale.  My gear was pretty good cause I like running more than just vidstim, but I had to up it to copy that core though - it was pretty dense.  I traded a bunch of stuff to this old adam for some old work gear which was still pretty solid and I did run a lot of nav code on it so you know it was better than regular. I spent a lot of time with that nav stuff, and I was really hitting the search too.  That core had some files that went back way far and had lots of info about New Eden and Dublin Core and other systems in the cluster, even some really old stuff without interact or stim or anything.  I found it really interesting actually.

Some folks got on me about why I was wasting my share on gear if I wasn't working it or hacking on me about running  nav sims while sitting on some pile of old bact tubes.  They called me Er Highness and stuff.  I told them there wasn't much difference between a ship and a tunnel really since it's all simstim, but they were pretty stupid mostly and couldn't figure that.  I didn't even tell them most stuff I found out because they would just make fun of it.  They did like it when I played some of the old audibles though - no one had ever heard any songs like that before.  I did a lot of trades on the songs, so whatever I was still laughing.

I even went up to the city a few times looking for trades and gear.  I don't like the city because its hard to get around without a chip and even if you can spoof one you can't tell most people apart anyway. It's not like with folks where you can see who's what and who they run with, there's lots more clones up in the city and city people look all the same even if their mutie has a tell.  They still dress mostly the same, like for their job and stuff.  Eloi isn't really a mutie, and it's a hard tell cause we mostly look like kids and folks don't much look at kids - good ones anyway - so I get by fine in The Cut.  The city is worse though cause Eloi don't look so much like clone kids and most places you want to be up there won't let kids in anyway so you stick out.  I went by myself one time to scope some gear and then I had to extricate some old adam that wanted to play games - he would have been surprised anyway.

A couple times I went with Tom and played his boy while he got some code I wanted, but he's not good at trades like I am and so I had to watch and keep shut up and I know he loved it too.  We saw that pilot one time too.  Tom needed some stim and we went to this place and there's the guy.  We were all hot to run but he didn't do nothing and I saw he had a good drunk going so we don't and then he drops his hat and says "Hey you mind my hat!" So I run after it and sure thing there's a Qkey in there so I pocket that, and when I hand the hat back he's all "O such a fine lad!" - he's from Dublin Core so it's all Lad and Langers with him - but he gives me a quick wink too so I know he's working it.  A couple times after that he tipped us for a run too - good trades and no hard feelings.

So I was busy keeping my mind on things and didn't have it too hard for a change.  For a long while there before it was hard going for me, lots of fights and never getting enough of anything.  Even when folks are folks it's hard to get enough food in The Cut, but it got a bit easier after I proved I could use my knives and I could do runs.  If you're running you're working, and everyone respects that, even if you are small you get a share.  Once I was boss it got easier for the whole crew cause I played it right and we always had something good going.  I should have known that even when things are good though some folks will still be all hot and sometimes you can't make it work for them though.  We did some real big runs then too, stuff that no one else was doing - well at least no folks we'd heard of.  We ran a hit on a bact farm one time and offlined the whole thing for days, which was stupid if you think on it because a lot of folks went hungry too.  But someone paid good to do it and I wanted to see if we could do it.  I was thinking more me and less us that time.  We usually didn't deal with credit or do runs without loot and I didn't slice off shares of it either.  I rolled that credit into some gear that could get us into the port because I thought we might be able to do a real solid run on some import.    That would be some kind of run, not just old gear and seconds but some really fresh stuff.  Some of the crew couldn't figure that though and they didn't figure running for credit either, and I guess someone noticed I wasn't paying attention to every detail  like before either because I thought all the crew would work their parts.  I should have seen those tells but I wasn't looking.

Next: The Worst Thing

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Good Time

There are some tunnels that lead up to the surface that are mostly forgot.  A lot of these are sealed so unless you have a way to cut them, and you can do it without getting noticed, those are no good.  Others have sour air and those are hard to run unless you have good gear - and no one has good gear.  There are some that still work and that aren't monitored though.  The best ones lead into the bact farms because no one wants to go there and they change up so much that no one knows anybody, so even if they see you no one gives a fuck.  If you can find some of these then it's easy getting places you can find some good stuff.  If you do find a good one then you have to sit on it and probably there's lots of fights over it.  It gets pretty rough too.  One of the worst fights we had was over a choice tunnel that Lad found.  He came back from a splunk all tweeking but trying to not tip anyone - he lost a finger one time cause he's got a real bad tell - but everyone knew he found something.  We punched it up and it wasn't in the files so we knew it was a good one.  Anyway that one was sweet and we made a good run off it, but we got jacked on the way back and it was real bad.  Some folks got hurt really bad, some folks got dead.  It's easier to jack a crew on a run than make a run but it's sour doing that and I never let us do it unless we had to. Sometimes you have to do stuff.

Sometimes you get lucky though and one time we got a tunnel that went all the way up to the surface.  That time was a good one, we spent a lot of time up there even though there was just sand and stuff mostly and nothing to grab or eat or anything.  I liked just looking up at the sky.  Most folks can't stand that because it feels like anyone could see you out there and a few folks really don't like looking up at the sky because it gives them a bit of a freak, but I liked it lots although you can't really see the sun or nothing with all the dust.  You can see the patterns in the dust though.  The code I got off that pilot guy says that the dust is suspended in atmo and that goes real high so that even when it's not blowing on the ground it is still floating up high in the air. It gets hotter up there and that makes it move around more so you can see it and the parts that are hot or cold and the light behind it and it's really interesting to see how it moves. I think so anyway.  The code says it's only around the equator that you can even breath cause the atmo is hot enough and moving enough to lift some of that dust so anywhere else you go you'd choke on it all.  What a shithole planet.

That was the time that we found that pilot too, and that was a really good time.  The ports are all totally locked up and you can forget about ever finding a way into those or even seeing any ships unless you have a chip in you.  Some times some crazy bastards will land outside the ports though - it's not really hard to sneak in because you'd be crazy to do it.  The dust really messes up with sonics and EM sniffers which means its hard to find someone landing.  It's not as hard to spot them as it is for them to land though.  This crazy pilot we found had really messed up his ship anyway and we got a lot of good stuff that time.  That was the time that I was boss too, and I wanted to run it really cool and not rush it because I figured that he'd be ready to bust us up some and he wasn't going anywhere.  I knew he'd be sweating too because of the stories you hear and I was going to work that.  Some of the guys got rough with me because they wanted to just run it fast and they thought I was scared or something, but did a beat down on Cross and they remembered that I was Eloi and not some punk kid.  He was cut pretty bad but I didn't kill him and no hard feelings.
Anyway my way played out and it turned up good because that pilot guy was smart enough to deal fair and so everyone got what they needed and I got what I wanted too which is plus.  We brought him to the city and he let us have the core and anything we could pull off that ship before someone came.  Some of the folks wanted to cross him but I did it fair and I got a lot of code that he probably would have flashed if we were playing him, and some of that was really interesting too.  That all turned out really good for me actually.

Next: Working

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Life in The Cut

People think it's bad on Gladian 4.  They think it is bad on the surface in those sprawling crowded dust bowls they call cities.  The soil is crap for farming and what little light gets through the atmo is barely enough to keep the plants alive.  People say on Gladian 4 its so bad they use bullets for credit, and that's true enough, but that's not bad.  The Cut is bad.  Down in the Cut they don't have bullets.  Down in the Cut they use people for credit, and parts of people too.

In my understanding G4 has always been a penal colony, hundreds of cycles of dumping crooks and crazies and people not wanted in the garden of New Eden.  Who ever first found this place coming in from those beautiful green worlds must have wanted to eat their blaster.  What a shit hole system - BLAMMO.  The boss men must have figured they had found the shittiest system ever spun because they didn't even try building nothing, they just started dumping.  And at first it was just crooks that were dumped, and maybe some unlucky  bastards who didn't know when to keep their traps shut.  Later it was experiments.  That’s when the Eloi got dumped, and some other things too.  Life was hard back then but it wasn't the hell that came after.  Maybe it wasn't even that bad really.  Eloi are pretty tough - not strong or anything but really tough.  We can eat most anything, we don’t get sick, we can take a lot of rads.  And we’re quick - quicker than most food anyway.  Sure there were some other types that were pretty messed up, but mostly folks were folks - even those giant ropey fuckers were folks sort of.  Ya I think back then it was tough but it was probably OK.  Once the Garden Wars started up though, then it got pretty bad.  Once the wars started rolling even shitty little G4 must have started looking pretty good, and that's when they started coming.  And they just never stopped coming. 

They had changed too, all those new bloods, they weren't like people so much anymore, more like parts of people - more like termites all working together in those giant crazy mounds.  Just like those termites they started digging too, that’s when they started the cuts, all those holes and tunnels that became The Cut.  Whatever piss poor rocks and oil they could find below they started digging it up - and it was buried pretty damn deep.  I guess poor G never had much for the heavy mins, and the places where there had been enough water or plants together to make oil and coal were pretty spread out, pretty deep.  Still there was some there, and they wanted it.  They treated people like bugs too.  They made everyone work and work and if you couldn't work you got dumped. Sometimes you got ate.

The more they came, the deeper they dug, and the more the folks kind of melted down into the tunnels and cracks to get away from them.  And the more they crowded their way in after us. We're in there pretty deep now,  I don’t think I even saw the sun till I was like eight or nine cycles.  I don’t remember being too impressed with it either.  Some people say the Garden Wars ended a few hundred cycles ago, but if it did no one told anyone out here on G4.  Maybe things are a little better up top, there might be some fancy folks up there in the cities now buying and selling and washing their toes.  Nothing’s really changed down below though.   It’s always been bad down in The Cut and it gets worse all the time.

Next:  A Good Time