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[FastLane] Cyberpunks Of The Carribean

Started by ejh, January 22, 2005, 12:56:33 AM

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Fastlane actual play:

People agreed on Cyberpunk as a genre.  In order to get some kind of unity we tried to think of some geographical location we could play besides the U.S.  (One of the players had mentioned When Gravity Falls, which is apparently Middle Eastern C-Punk, and that sounded kinda cool.)

We considered Sao Paolo, Rio, and finally the Carribean, and chose the latter as a setting because it has so many varied nations and cultures, and the whole "beach/island paradise" thing appealed.

The four protagonists were: A thug -- an immigrant from the United States (which is now run down and economically depressed and insignificant compared to Central and South America), a son of a rich hotel manager in Barbados, I think, who's also a rising local cricket star; a "security expert" for a data haven who specializes in hunting down and eliminating (in real life/meatspace) any hackers who threaten it, and a super-famous Dominican cyberbaseball star (he plays in the league where restrictions on cybernetic/surgical play enhancement are very loose).

Between the extensive sets of favors they came up with, and the NPCs required for their starting Lives, I had about two or three dozen NPCs on my list.  It was crazy.  I couldn't have possibly gotten them all involved in six sessions' worth of play.   I didn't know how much to spend on them so I put 5 or 10 into the life-related ones as required, sometimes a little over, and left it at that.  I had a huge bank as Croupier.  Probably way underspent on NPCs.

To get things started, I decided to just run them through some starting conflicts and see what came up.

Started with the baseball player -- for some reason his manager was putting in his rival player instead of him, at a crucial moment.  (I totally suck at coming up with baseball drama because I don't know anything about sports. I needed help from the players.)  We decided we would first play out the conflict to see whether he could change his manager's mind, and then if he got to play, play out the game win or loss.  In retrospect, this was a bad idea.  He lost on the first conflict (didn't cover his ass betting), which kind of "whiffed" him -- humbled, brought down a peg.  I didn't have my head on straight enough to suggest he burn scores to get a win.  Inauspicious start.  I should have had a "preferred outcome" which allowed things to keep going more interestingly with him.  My bad.

Then I went to the thug.  One of the badass local thugs he had displaced when he moved in and started being more competent than them had set him up -- sent him on an imaginary job to a place where he and his friends could beat some humility into them.  I thought I was setting up a fight, but the player chose as his preferred outcome to face him down verbally and take the fight out of him.  Note to self: roleplayers, given the choice, sometimes choose to win nonviolently.  Who knew.  He won and humbled the thug.  He was a real slickster, realized that playing the sixes would allow him to bet even and maximize the portion of his take that was "winnings," a strategy repeated by him and others throughout the night.

Note that though I don't know the thug's player very well, I would not have pegged him as somebody who would jump on the narrative bandwagon the way he did.  He was constantly contributing little morsels of story about the underworld politcs involved in his situation.  A born narrativist, gentlemen!

Next was the security expert.  He was given an off the books job, by his boss, whom he owed a favor.  This was personal.  He was asked to make sure that a particular guy didn't keep a particular appointment.  It turned out that guy was the baseball player's manager, a sleazy guy who had gotten involved with the security expert's boss's young daughter.  The security expert chased him down in his boat and intimidated him to within an inch of his life, and ended up abandoning him on the island and sending the boss's daughter home to talk to Dad in the manager's speedboat.  The manager called in a favor from the baseball player to get  a ride home.

All of the above conflicts were against very small values, because I mostly just wanted people to see the system.  The only reason the baseball player lost is that he didn't cover himself at all and left large portions of the board open to major losses.

The next conflict simultaneously involved two players in separate and unrelated contests.  They were in the same conflict because they happened at the same time in the same place: the hotel manager's son was sent up to quiet down a really out of control party, consisting of players from a Dominican baseball team and their fans, and in the midst of that same out of control party the baseball player was trying to soothe his wounded ego by picking up two women for a menage a trois.  (Nice preferred outcome, Greg!)  Both won their contests quite handily and achieved their goals.  Really nice narration on the process by which the hotel manager guy managed to bring an out of control party back in control by force of personality, demonstration of control (he had the fuse boxes shut down to the room to cut the music off), and finally some logistical engineering (he handed out passes for smaller rooms elsewhere in the hotel to that fraction of the party which seemed to be pairing up into couples for the night, thereby reducing the crowding in the room by a large fraction).  The baseball player and his two fans were one of the people handed passes to private rooms  (cue funky porno soundtrack).  Ahem.  Whatever.  He scored a life point in womanizing out of the deal, who can complain?  And the hotel manager's son scored a life point in Hotel Management, which is one of his Lifes.  Both of these conflicts were against fairly low values (maybe 3 points)

The next conflict involved the Thug and the Security Expert teaming up to track down and rub out a particularly (physically and cyberspatially) dangerous hacker dude, who had penetrated the data haven.  The backstory as to why they were working together was complex but totally logical and again provided without a second thought by the Thug's player.

This was a two parter, first "get him alone in a place you control" and then "eliminate him."  It worked out very nicely, though the Thug took a loss in the first one and the Security Expert had to carry the day himself.  (that was an 8 point obstacle, I think).  The second part -- "eliminate him" -- was a 10 point obstacle, the toughest I'd thrown at them so far.  They took care of it handily working together, and ended up doing some useful humbling of the opposition.  The opposition was a collective foe, the hacker bastards in general, and so they were able to actually kill this guy even though they didn't have the points to humble the whole group out of existence -- this guy didn't have an individual Appraisal value.  (In the meantime I had the Hotel Management guy casing the hotel where they'd cornered the hacker -- it was condemned and he was seeing if it was something his dad should buy.  He was there when the fight started, though he managed to avoid getting involved.  He recommended his dad pass on this one.)

They shot him full of holes while he was on a 3-d webcam, crowing to his fellow hacker thugs about how bad they'd ripped off the data haven and how badly they'd screwed over their original employers/buyers (the Thug's friendly crime boss).   The demoralizing effect of this on the fellow hacker thugs explained the Humbling that happened to the group's collective Appraisal value.

After that it was getting late so I suggested we fold it up for the night.

Overall it was a lot of fun, if a bit scattered.  If I were to do it all again, I'd be careful not to choose Preferred Outcomes for obstacles/whatever that brought things to a halt, like in that initial baseball conflict. (Note that with tracking down the hacker, the preferred outcome wasn't "you don't find him" but it was "you don't find him in an area where you have control of the situation and he has no backup.")  I'd ask the players to go easy on the sheer number of Favors they threw together, so that I had time to actually work the NPCs into things.  I might ask them to think a little harder about how to get themselves together -- but honestly it seemed to run fine with people mostly living parallel lives, not working together as a team.

Everybody was interested in playing again, perhaps in a more coherent "scenario."  Nobody had any problem with the Fortune in the Middle mechanics.  I just repeated when necessary, "remember, you bought off that obstacle/whatever, you own the narration now.  You're the GM for the duration of this conflict.  Tell us what happens."

These are mostly guys who have never shown an interest in "alternative" RPGs before, but nobody had any problem whatsoever with any part of it.  Smooth as anything.

Thanks, Lxndr!

Larry L.

This is the game that recommends a roulette wheel for fortune, right? Did you use such for your game?


Sounds like a fun start! And good catch with the whole "framing the conflict" thing. The advice in octaNe was one of the best summations of it I've seen: "only do a conflict when both outcomes are cool" or something to that effect, leaving the GM to fastforward past the less interesting conflicts. (Incidentally, I learned this the hard way a few times. This one time, I spent an hour of game time asking my space-operatic crew... where they wanted to seat their various guests on the ship. Ouch.)

As for the Favors: wow! That's... crazy! FOr aforementioned oneshot, I had everyone create one favor to each of the other players, and one other favor (a low amount, but that was becaues time was shortish). This low number of favors, and the binding of folks together with favors, worked pretty well.

I'll be curious to see how your players' various threads end up entangling (since I hope they entangle a wee bit for the sake of fun).


We did use a roulette wheel -- in fact, that's what sold the group on the game in the first place.  One of them happened to own a roulette wheel which he never used, and the whole group is nuts for gambling (in real life one of their favorite vacation activities is frequenting craps tables in casinos).  I've brought various indie RPGs over when I came to hang with these guys before, and none had evoked an interest anything *like* FastLane.  (none had evoked much interest at all in fact.)

I'll keep y'all posted on the future adventures in the Carribean, as soon as they happen. :)

Larry L.

I had a feeling the roulette wheel would pique potential players' interest.

"Hey guys, you wanna play a role-playing game?" Bust out the nerd dice...


"Gentlemen, let's play Fastlane!" Break out a bloody ROULETTE WHEEL...

Sounds like a good game to hook non-gamers.


This is true -- though these guys are all hardcore gamers.  Just not indie game gamers. :)