I zipped up Saturday night for citizenbrown's RPG set in Iain Banks' Culture. It was a little unfortunate that I was the only player with a strong grounding in the universe, but I think it all worked out reasonably well. Chun had put together a diceless system that started with a fairly rapid character creation round in which we drew cards labelled with... attributes, let's say. These cards gave us some role-playing hooks and could be played during the adventure for improvements in success. Since I had the best understanding of the universe, Chun allowed me to play a Ship (and associated avatar). One of the attributes I drew was 'Hilarious' - "You're hilarious, but people don't always get your jokes -- the first time you make everyone (including the GM) at least chuckle, you get [a token used to improve results]." Anyway, I chose (for my 'hilarious' Culture ship name) N Objects Walk into a Bar. Now, I wonder if N Bodies Walk into ħ would be an improvement.
I can't remember what I said to first make people crack up, but I managed to do it a few times. When a drone was about to do something I considered foolish, I liked my deadpan Wonka "don't. stop. come back." More in the nature of a malicious prank was when rizwank demanded a weapon of me -- admittedly, in the middle of a battle -- and I displaced a board with a nail in it into his hands. Suffice to say, our diplomatic Contact mission got a little out of control, but I think we managed a nice success.
I chatted with a few people afterwards, but pretty quickly hit the road back, returning for my game on Sunday:
Session 38: Big Band Wolf, a rules-light adventure set in the world of Cowboy Bebop, with the players being the five crewmembers of the Bebop.
I was really happy with how it all turned out, and it helped a lot that the players were all at least vaguely familiar with the show, and could jump into the roles. I also liked the very simple thing I did to sort of set the stage for how the characters were relating right at that moment. I had written five questions -- one for each character -- and asked a different player to answer it. So we learned that Faye had recently stolen and eaten Ed's favorite snack, and Jet had not yet fixed the water system on the Bebop, and so on.
The crew got a tip on a bounty (San "Wolf" Shatsu) from Big Shot and made their way to Bonestell City on Mars, where the bounty had recently robbed a casino. Jet talked to the ISSP and learned that Wolf had been seen recently with members of the Water Room Gang, though the relationship was unclear. Spike struck out on getting info at a bar, though he did get into a minor scuffle (after being caught trying to pickpocket back the money he offered a guy for information), with Ein helpfully grabbing the pant leg of the opponent. Spike & Jet next try their luck at a bar that's a known hangout of the triad. Spike suavely tries to order a San Wolf Shatsu at the bar, and pretty soon there's a full-on brawl and gun-battle in the bar. The barman unloads a shotgun into Jet's back and shoulder. Ein heroically leaps on the bar to try to get at the barman, but finds the bartop slick as a bowling alley and slides all the way down the bar, through the pyramid of glassware and onto the floor. Spike jeet kune do's most of the combatants; Jet shoots one or two, but gets shot three more times himself (though two bullets sink into his cyberarm).
Meanwhile, Faye has cased the casino, schmoozed the pit boss, gotten a comped room at the hotel (though the pit boss certainly memorized the room number), been bought a drink by a handsome stranger, who goes on to spill Wolf's location to her in exchange for a promise of 15% of the 2.5 million woolong bounty, taking the valet ticket for Faye's Red Tail as collateral.
Faye, Spike, and what's left of Jet regroup at the Bebop, and make plans to take Wolf down at one of the atmosphere regeneration plants on the edge of the city. Eventually, they head out, leaving Ed and Ein on the Bebop, except that Ed stows away on the Hammerhead.
Ed hacks the atmosphere regeneration plant into displaying phony alarms and warnings, discomfiting Wolf and his gang, who are holed up inside. Faye and Spike deal with some of them, as Jet circles above the fray.
Meanwhile, back on the Bebop... Ein notices that the ship proximity sensor comes on. A ship is approaching, and it hooks the Bebop with grapples, and starts cutting a hole in the hull, preparatory to a piratical boarding. Ein locks himself in the bridge and calls Jet, who is horrified to find that A) Ed is not on the Bebop B) the Bebop is being attacked C) Ein is apparently pawing randomly at the control panel of the ship, doing who knows what. Jet races back to the Bebop.
Faye and Spike corner Wolf, who has donned a spacesuit. Wolf replaces the phony warning alarms with genuine warning alarms, by shutting off the atmosphere regenerator. Faye downs Wolf with a nasty shot to the hip, and Spike makes a lucky guess at restarting the generator. Wolf monologues a little bit as he tries to crawl away, revealing that the casino heist was a ruse set up to earn his initiation into the Water Room Gang, intended only to lure the crew of the Bebop, so that the Mountain Lord of the Triad could dognap Ein (since the idiot cowboys don't know what they've got there) and use Ein's datadog powers to unlock quantum encrypted code locks on bank vaults. Faye & Spike collect the bounty on Wolf, and Faye recovers her ship. Soon there's an enemy ship with the dognapped Ein, chased by Jet & Ed, chased by Spike, chased by Faye. Ed briefly takes control of the enemy ship's computer and shuts off its engines -- effective but somewhat dangerous in the gravity well of Mars. Through slightly dodgy GM finesse to get to the ending he wants, the dognappers escape.
A bit later, the bounty hunters tackle the Mountain Master's penthouse suite, landing the Swordfish II on the roof, and Faye blasting through the mirrored windows and parking the Red Tail inside the penthouse, startling a call-girl. Faye grabs the girl by the hair (the fan-boys sit up and take notice) but the tart doesn't know anything and finally faints. Faye switches clothes with the tart (the fan-boys sit up and take notice). Jet and Spike have a hard time getting through a solid metal door; Jet's attempt to punch with his cyberarm manages only to squash his fingers out of shape. His more refined attempt at lockpicking is more successful.
Faye is shot by a couple goons, but Jet and Spike take them out. They find a cowering butler and intimidate some info out of him: the boss has taken his prize datadog to the Marsianskoi Banka to 'make a large after-hours withdrawal'.
At the bank, stakes are upped. Faye gets badly shot just on entering the building through the window that the Water Room Gang boss used as an entrance. Grenades solve the difficulty. The brother & sister combo of boss body guards get rather short-shrift as time grew short, but they at least got to put their punch daggers and pistols to some good use on Jet and Spike. They find the boss just as Ein has succeeded in opening the vault door, which opens on maybe a billion woolongs in cash and gold. The boss offers them a 25% share, but once the 'Black Dog' bites, he never lets go. Jet puts a bullet between his eyes. Jet and Spike look at each other in front of an open bank vault. Ein barks. Roll Credits.
After my game, Dab ran his goth RPG, where a group of club habitués tried to collect signed copies of some goth/industrial albums for a dying friend. Lightly plotted and more an excuse for Dab's acquaintances from the scene to show up as the PCs and NPCs, but there were some fun scenes as we riffed on the setting and the oddball characters. It ran short, which was actually nice, since then I could spend some time drifting around socializing with various peoples, and managed to hit an opportune moment to snag one of the Louisiana hotlinks I'd brought off the grill that the Pope manfully manned to feed the horde. Played some Rock Band, schmoozed a little more, and then headed back. Unfortunately, there was a two car injury collision on the 405 at Santa Monica that blocked the two left lanes and was not too far ahead of me. I almost made it over to get off at Wilshire, but didn't. I did get into the Santa Monica exit lane, but pretty soon everyone was at a standstill. I expect they towed the wreckage off down the SM offramp and so stopped all traffic. I was stuck there maybe 20-30 minutes -- long enough for me and a number of other people to switch off our engines. Crummy, but one of those situations where you know some other people are having a far crummier night.