Mail Order Apocalypse is live!

If you have followed this blog for a while, you know that I do a lot of crowdfunding as a backer. Kickstarter alone lists over 200 projects that I have backed in some way.

Well, now it is time for me to jump into the other end of the pool: I have just launched the Zine Quest 4 campaign for Mail Order Apocalypse! Follow this link to the campaign:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jollyorc/zine-quest-mail-order-apocalypse/

What is it about?

Mail Order Apocalypse (or MOA for short) is a dark future roleplaying game, where capitalism eventually shut all humans out. Paradise is within humanity’s reach, but our ancestors made sure we cannot afford it.

This may look to be a game about survival, figuring out how to eke out an existence when the machines have claimed everything worth anything. But that isn’t entirely true. This is a game about daring heists and robberies!

See, the machines don’t hate us. They don’t actually want to kill anyone, but the laws humanity put into their programming don’t allow them to give us anything for free. And we don’t have currency to pay with. So survival takes the form of trying to make a living in the wastelands, trying to farm algae, or to recycle the scraps we find.

But the more efficient and much more fun way is to trick or rob the machines:

We hijack their communication network, set up a pretend address and then have a drone deliver your order while the fake credit score is still good. Or you hold up one of those post trains that link the factories, overcome the guard machines, and live richly!

Some have learned how to infiltrate the automated farms. One can live well there, provided the machines don’t recognise you as the pest you are.

Of course, there are also those who live on the work of others, who raid settlements for their own gain. Maybe you are one of them?

Hacking Runs for Fun and Profit

A key element of modern games is often the heist, caper, or in the case of cyberpunk-esque games, the „run“. The common part here is that the target is usually a complicated and large system, full of people, computers, security systems and other components.

In movies and books, we follow the crew through their preparations and then see them pull off the perfect caper, where each element more or less seamlessly enables the next part, until it all comes together in a showdown and ends with the heroes walking (or running?) off with their ill-gotten gains.

There are quite a lot of attempts to map this into game mechanics, and here is my own one:

It introduces two concepts:

  • the network map of the entity that is to be robbed
  • failure cascades

Lets start with the network map. It could look something like this:

The goal is to escape with the loot from the vault. Except that as long as there is someone or something to call reinforcements, things will go bad. And if the vault door isn’t opened, they can’t get to their loot in the first place.

Researching this network is the usual preparation phase for the players, where they can dig for information, ask around, bribe people, steal floorplans, and so on. It might even be that you, as the DM, don’t even have the network map prepared but you create it with your players as you play along.

In the end, the map shows the possible choke points that need to be taken out, as well as the objectives that need to be met. Either directly, or indirectly. 

And that is where the second core idea comes into play: Cascades. I’m stealing those from the boardgame hit Pandemic. Disease occurrences are marked by adding little cubes to a city. Whenever there are three or more cubes of the same type in one city, there is a virulent outbreak. That means that every neighbouring city also receives a cube. If that tips them over the 2‑cube-is-safe limit, there is an outbreak too.

Let’s apply the same idea here, but with a lower limit: If there are two incidents at one place, it triggers the cascade. So if Joe the Guard does not get his coffee from the Cantina AND the toilet is clogged, he’ll fail at his job (calling the reinforcments in case he sees anything). And that means that the „Reinforcements“ node gets its first little cube. 

A similar effect could be achieved by simply taking Joe out (kidnapping, poisoning or bribery for example), but that might not always be possible — and it won’t create a cube at Reinforcements.

So, the planning and execution phase means that the crew selects points in the network, take them out and hopefully create cascades that take out adjacent points for them.

This isn’t playtested, but I think it should be fun to run things this way!

Return to Hypogea

It has been a while. So long that I couldn’t even find my stack of characters and had to roll up a new one.

But yesterday, I returned to Hypogea, the karst under the valley of fire. Joining the Clockwise Observatory as Alpascal, a short, stocky first-year student of the School of Artificers with an everful crock of shit.

This was a very happy reunion, even though I didn’t know any of the other players yet. Still, Alpascal was quickly welcomed by his peers, and the backstory involving Alpascal, a frog, and the chimerists love spell ended up happily for me, as the chimerist now has to care for the five pollywog-creatures. (Who are adorable, but Alpascal isn’t ready to be a father yet, and Fred the frog needs the help,)

The group made its way to the sickle marsh, looking for the lone savant that imprisoned a few errant students into some gem. They swam, stomped, rafted and walked on the way, met water vipers, cephalopod patrols and other assorted creatures and during the whole time never stopped punning.

Really, the punning, it was bad. So bad. All the time. All the punning.

Can’t wait until next time!

RPGs in Beirut

And no, we’re not talking about war. We’re talking warGAMING and roleplaying games.

I was in town for Bread & Net, and when we were walking the city on sunday, we came across a game store: Multiverse. And frankly, this place is awesome:

It is mostly board games though

The staff is actually pretty knowledgeable and full of hustle. They know their games, have several painting stations for the table top gamers in the cellar, host regular wargaming and MtG tournaments, you can rent tables and play a wide variety of board games (sorted in terms of complexity, so you can easily grab something easy for the family from the shelf), and then they told me they also have a dedicated D&D room.

What?! I need to see this!“

Behind a door labelled „Emergency Exit“, I then first was greeted with this…

yeah, this thing is a bit cheap looking, but A for effort!

And then there was a foreboding doorway..

Let’s light this up…

oooh, this looks promising!

You can see the D&D library. Plus a bunch of self-printed PDFs, downloaded from online stores.

yeah, I was pretty amazed.
really, I like this.
I could get used to this.. All the space for the savvy GM.
looking at all the nifty stuff on the walls.
but wait, what is THIS?
THEY EVEN HAVE A DICE TOWER!
need monsters for your campaign? We got you covered!
a bunch of custom lasercut 3D signage all over the place.

They even get you in touch with GMs that can run games for you, if you find yourself in Beirut without a group. Really, this place is magical and apparently thriving too!

So, when in Beirut, go to Multiverse!