Wednesday, 28 March 2018

The Search For Sin - part one

I remember Harrison and Ford had started working this case while it was still hot, but the chief just dropped this case file on my desk!

 Chief Bryant with agents Harrison and Ford

From the notes, Cindy was an 'entertainment model' Nexus-6 replicant, working the bar and dancing for the space jockeys on an orbital freight transfer station. Somehow, she ended up hiding away on an inbound shuttle. killing a freight handler and security guard at the shuttle terminus when she broke out of the hold.
"Sin" then went on to murder two armed police officers who responded to the call-out before she disappeared into the sprawl. Jeez, this is one cross-wired skin job!

 CCTV image of Sin just before she shot both cops
H and Ernie had burned 5% of the case budget and worn down some shoe leather going around interviewing possible witnesses for clues, but came up empty handed before being reassigned. Now, it looks like some grass downtown is willing to sell some information and Bryant has re-open the case. Problem is, the snitch will only meet on his patch - great! This district is decidedly "unfriendly" to law enforcement officers and getting spotted on the streets could spark a riot.

The informant has arranged to meet by the corner of the Metropole Hotel and starts the game close to the middle of the board, in base contact with one 'crowd',

and another two crowd markers are placed within 12 inches of the informant.

The rules recommend making "Crowd Markers" on circular bases, but I decided to simply glue the groups of individual bases together. I think this gives a more random look to the 'crowd' and I made sure that the groups will also fit together to form larger mobs.

I took a cab as far as the driver was prepared to go into the sprawl, and then entered the meeting area at a casual stroll, keeping my distance from the nearest crowds and keeping an eye on my contact.

If my character ends up within 6 inches of a hostile crowd I have to roll on an event table, where there's only a slim chance that things DON'T get very ugly, very quickly, so I decide he'll play it cool but he still needs to get to the snitch before the would-be-informant has the chance to get cold feet and do a runner!

With a crowd making its way in my direction on my side of the street, I headed across the road and cautiously followed the nearest group.

Fudge 1: I couldn't find any ruling on crowd normal movement. It seemed wrong to have them just standing still, so I had them move at 1/2 speed (3") towards a random board edge. If they exited the board, they would re-appear (as a 'new' crowd) at a random entry point.
Fudge 2: If a crowd reaches a junction, they dice for which direction to take.

I managed to reach an alley where I could keep watch on the snitch and the crowds, and was thankful for the bolt-hole it offered - with another crowd making its way up the opposite street, I was starting to question my decision not to bring any back-up!

The campaign is played as a series of missions as the agents attempt to gather evidence from "Persons Of Interest" and "Minor Suspects", so they can attempt to tackle the "Major Suspect".

However, there's a set budget for the case, and if this reaches zero before the final mission is successfully completed, you're thrown off the case and you've lost the campaign.
I could have spent some of my budget on various things (including police back-up or a buddy agent) before the game started, but decided to keep costs down at this early stage of the campaign - it's going to cost 5% of my budget to pay the informant!

The approaching crowd took a right turn at the T section, and I had a clear gap to approach the grass over by the hotel,

I seized my chance and began strolling across the road junction directly towards my informant - my stomach tightened as I wondered what he would do as I got closer?

As soon as my character gets within 3 inches of the snitch, I have to roll on an event table - will he 'bottle it' and run, get cold feet and clam up or worse?

I'm relieved to find he's ready to talk when I reach him. He wants the money, and I want the info - and we both want to get business done as quickly as possible!

My character had to carry out a "Process Evidence" skill action at this point, 1 or 2 goals = 1 piece of evidence, 3 or more goals = 2 pieces of evidence.
The 'goal system' used in the rules simply means that the better your character is at something (Attributes, Skills and Traits), the more D6 he has in that specific 'pool' to roll against the difficulty level (the "Target Number") of the task, with scores of 4+ each counting as a success.

He made good on the deal, and had a couple of useful bits of evidence, but time was running out (for both of us) as fresh crowds were approaching from both ends of the street - we decided to slip off down the side street.

As I explained earlier, if the crowd 'spots' the agent his cover is blown - but if the grass is spotted talking to him, they're both in trouble!

Too late! We'd been spotted and the cry had gone up, which told us that ALL of the crowds were hot on our heels!

Fudge 3: The nearest crowd got within 6 inches of the agent and the result of the event table roll was "Riot Incited". Detailed instructions for that crowd marker's actions are given in the rules, but what about the others?
Again it didn't seem 'right' to me that they'd just stand there if this was meant to be a "hostile area", so I had them react since they were 'in sight'.

The mob had started running while we'd slipped out of sight around the corner, as they appeared at the T junction, we sprinted off into the warren of back alleys.
I yelled at my informant to follow me to the nearest cop station, but he declined my gentlemanly offer (in a decidedly UN-gentlemanly manner!) and ran off in a different direction.

Part of the mission brief was that I had to ensure the snitch's safety, getting him off the board fulfilled that obligation, but if he'd come into the station, I could have tried to get more information from him under interrogation - fair enough, since he might have tried to "sell" me more info for an extra slice of my budget if the dice had rolled differently when I checked his reaction on our initial meeting!

The financial evidence my contact had given me proved beyond doubt that "Sin" hadn't just run away from a crappy job and gone to ground, and there was a lot more to this skin job than we first assumed.
I'll have to get this report written up tonight, and have a word with Bryant in the morning.

All-in-all I'm quite pleased with "The Department" rules after this first run through. There's some really clever mechanics yet to be showcased (I especially like the fabricant's "sub routines" which determine how they'll act / react in given situations), and while the above AAR might have been lacking in 'action', it was still engrossing and quite tense to play, and captured the atmosphere of the genre.
My only complaint at this stage is that there's no detailed appendix, so finding specific rules is a pain in the arse bit of a bind.

I'm off to join my character Hank for a drink in his office, so for now, thanks very much for reading, and as ever your comments, questions or suggestions will be most welcome


  1. Great AAR Greg, it follows the feel of the movie, where it's not all about blowing away a sim away. Shall be interesting to see how the other rules play out as your campaign progresses

    1. Thanks Dave, I'd intended 'toning down' the photo's to try and capture the atmosphere from the movie, but in my rush to get the AAR posted I totally forgot - I'd literally only just finished the game, and I guess I was still influenced by the atmosphere it had created in my mind's eye :-)

  2. Superb! Building into a really atmospheric story.

    1. Many thanks Michael, glad you enjoyed Hank's introduction to the blog :-)

  3. As a big "Blade Runner" fan this certainly captured the flavour of the films. The rules look interesting even though I have never heard of them before. They do remind me of THW's 5150 New Hope City rules, which are designed for private investigators.

    1. Cheers Bryan, I was worried my attempt at explaining various rules mechanics might detract from the narrative.
      I wasn't aware New Hope City could have been used for the Blade Runner setting - I'm going to have to take a look at them now :-)

    2. They're still available for sale in the THW store - $5.00 for the PDF version and $10.00 for the print version. I have the print version.

    3. Many thanks Bryan, I've just downloaded the PDF :-)
      To be honest, I'd previously completely missed the "PI" suffix to the title, which is why they never came to mind.
      I do really like Ed's stuff, so I'm looking forward to printing these off and seeing what I can do with them!

    4. 20% off until the end of Easter (I only mention it because I rushed straight in and forgot to enter the promo code!)
      Printed 'em off and I REALLY like 'em :-)
      The plan is to run this campaign with "The Department" and then either run a sequel with "New Hope City" with a PI taking over the case if Hank fails, or running the NEXT case with "New Hope City" ;-)

  4. Sounds interesting. The budget idea is reminiscent of THX-1138.

    1. Thanks Hugh - I had to google THX-1138, I thought it might have been another set of rules! ;-)
      I'll have to try and get a copy, especially since it was George Lucas's first movie :-)

  5. Great, atmospheric AAR mate, lovely narrative and a great sounding set of rules

    1. Many thanks Andy - the project's been simmering for quite a while, and I'm quite pleased to have got it started :-)

  6. Hi Greg good start to the story and in an atmospheric setting. I recognise the World Works printing, but who are the others!

    Looking forward to the next installment and I hope you don't mind but I'm rooting for Sin

    1. Cheers John, the rules DO actually make more sense when put into practice, than just reading through - though the lack of an index is a pain.
      The buildings are all WWG, on a Battle Systems mat, but I think the 'futuristic' ones are fan-bashes.

      For some reason, I'm in the rare position where I really don't favour one "side" over the other - but obviously I was glad Hank didn't end up in the hands of the mob on this first mission!

  7. I enjoyed reading through this scenario (a genre I've never dabbled in) despite some of your reticence with the rules. I did keep thinking though that throughout this did sound like a rpg (- no bad thing.), having figures on the table though made it have a look to it too.

    1. Thanks Joe, the rules obviously achieve their objective :-) "Play The Department cooperatively against the game, play against an opponent, or play as a pen and paper RPG".
      Having said that, I find one of the appeals of MOST skirmish games is that it's easy to get immersed in a role-playing style of play (as you say - no bad thing) :-)