Welcome to part 4 of my The Sprawl Campaign Diary. Last time the group rescued White Knight from Mnemotronics. In this post I will recap Sessions 3.5 (the aftermath of freeing White Knight) to 6.
In Session 3 the group rescued White Knight from Mnemotronics. They were uncertain though, whether they should deliver her to their employer, Logan, though.
After some talking they decided to knock White Knight unconscious, and deliver her to Logan, to get their payment.
The meeting place was an abandoned house in the outskirts of Neo-Shanghai. Paladin made sure nothing fishy would happen, while Laughing Lady and Jinx did the actual deal. At first it went alright: Logan turned up, one of his goons took White Knight, and carried her to their car. Logan showed them their payment, but then Paladin saw what was actually happening: It was a double-cross: Logan wanted to get revenge, for being humiliated. Paladin made short work of Logan, and his goons. So, in the end they got to keep White Knight, and sold her data another way.
At the end of the session Jean-Paul Williams turned up at Paladins door, and delivered Charlotte Nakamura back to him. The protectors of Gaia did not have equipment to un-brainwash her. The only way for Paladin and Jean-Paul to get rid of Charlotte seemed to be to free her from her pain.
In another place Steel Cannibal asked a favor of Laughing Lady: She should bring a former member of the Men of the Machine, called Roadkill, to him. As a reward she would get a considerable amount of money, and she would become the second in command of the Pulse.
In response to the Men of the Machine, and the Pulse now hunting Roadkill, he decided to leave Neo-Shanghai (his player dropped out; it fitted the fiction pretty well).
For this mission, the group decided to smuggle a package from Mieux Vivre out of upper Neo-Shanghai. This package was rather heavy, and scans between upper and lower Neo-Shanghai would have definitely picked it up.
Paladin used this opportunity to spend some money: He always wanted a cargo drone, so he bought one. It wasn't the fastest one, but it did the job.
It wasn't that easy though: Marcus Hamilton (who Laughing Lady convinced to join The Pulse in Mission 1) forwarded the job description to Laughing Lady. Now the Men of the Machine, who since last Mission were now an ally of The Pulse, got a mission from their patrons, Mieux Vivre, to get that package back.
Their first lead was Marcus Hamilton – he was quick to talk, after they broke his legs: Marcus told the Men of the Machine who the groups contact and payer "Todd" was, and gave them Todd's phone number which one of their hackers tracked. Bad news for the group.
Marcus Hamilton called Laughing Lady, and told her about this. They managed to get Todd to safety.
Afterwards Laughing decided to call her Men of the Machine contact, George Chrome, and ask why they beat up his friend Marcus:
Well, Laughing Lady. We had the choice between supporting The Pulse, or collaborating with our patron, Mieux Vivre. To be frank: Mieux Vivre is more important to us.
You seem to be involved in this mission though, what about this: If you stop your work on this mission, and give us the current location of the package, you will get a little bit of money.
Interestingly Laughing Lady agreed, and left the mission, without saying why. Jinx and Paladin were confused, and it seemed fishy, but they didn't have evidence of her betraying them, so they continued their mission.
The Men of the Machine now followed the transport, complicating the job, but Paladin managed to shrug them off. There were no further complications, when delivering the package to their contact outside of Neo-Shanghai.
Jinx and Paladin were still pretty uncertain about Laughing Lady's reliability. People can't just suddenly leave a mission. In the end they came to an agreement to keep working together, including safety from Jinx's side, in form of a Deadman-Switch, releasing incriminating data on Laughing Lady, if not pressed every 72 hours.
To end this session, Paladin received a chess-piece via mail: A black rook. On opening the parcel, the rook scanned his face, and offered him a mission to kill a certain "Dominic Weston" for good pay. GPS-Coordinates for his location, updated every hour, were included.
If Paladin would keep his chess-piece whole, until the game he was in was over, he would also get erased from Robotech's Wanted-Records. If he did not it would become worse.
The group started together, thinking about Paladin's job to kill Dominic Weston, and researching about chess-pieces. There indeed were some murders in the past, where broken chess-pieces were found. So it had to be some kind of game Paladin was in.
The group then split up:
- Paladin went on his mission to kill Dominic Weston.
- Jinx decided to humiliate Pixel, who was interfering with Sasha's business for a while now.
- Steel Cannibal had a talk with Laughing Lady about the future of The Pulse.
Killing Dominic Weston
Dominic Weston's GPS-Coordinates led to a pier in lower Neo-Shanghai. When Paladin got there he saw several house boats near the pier. The coordinates narrowed the selection down: One of four house boats was where Dominic Weston was right now. Paladin waited several hours, but there wasn't any change in the coordinates, so his solution was to drop remote-detonated C4 onto each house boat.
Surprisingly this did not work out, and Dominic Weston escaped, starting a cat and mouse chase through Neo-Shanghai. With the help of a hacker, Paladin managed to get Dominic's phone number (in addition to the information, that he was previously employed at Subsonic Neo-Shanghai Banking, but dismissed due to tax evasion), and via his phone, his current location. Then it was easy game (using remote-detonated C4 again).
Dealing with Pixel
Pixel, owner of Pixel's VR Sex-Dungeon, was interfering with Jinx's Sasha for a while now, and Jinx decided to strike back, destroying Pixel's Servers. The trail lead to Rudeboi Hosting: A under the radar hosting company, located in a bad neighbourhood, using Apartments to house Servers.
Some deception, threats and grenades later, Rudeboi Hosting was nothing more but smoldering ashes.
The future of The Pulse
Steel Cannibal asked Laughing Lady to take another look at the site Roadkill was supposed to be last time.
When they arrived the actual topic became clear: Steel Cannibal was thinking about resigning, and giving up control of The Pulse to Mike Fractal, an officer of the Men of the Machine – Steel Cannibal asked for Laughing Lady's opinion. Laughing Lady of course wasn't happy about this, and talked Steel Cannibal into not resigning.
Then the truth came out: The Men of the Machine were going to pay Steel Cannibal lots of money, for him to resign. It was clear that, if he would not accept, he would be made to accept with a gun pointed at his head. Something had to be done about the Men of the Machine.
The group decided, that next mission had to be taking out the Men of the Machine.
This mission, again, started with the group together, planning on how to destroy the Men of the Machine, using a meeting Steel Cannibal had with the high ranks of the Men of the Machine, to change control to Mike Fractal. Jinx quickly left the mission though, she did not want to deal with Steel Cannibal.
Jinx quickly got her own work though, because shortly after Jinx left Paladin received a call from a nervous androgynous voice, asking Paladin to kill one certain "Jinx". Obviously Pixel was behind this; Paladin forwarded this to Jinx, and Jinx already had a plan.
The Deadman of the Machine
Paladin and Laughing Lady decided to hijack the meeting where Steel Cannibal would get his payment, to kill the high ranking officers of the Men of the Machine.
It was going to happen in the outskirts of Neo-Shanghai, George Chrome and Mike Fractal were going to be there. Paladin would deal with that.
The rest of the Men of the Machine should be taken out by a bomb hidden inside a cake as a "celebratory offer".
Both worked out pretty well, though Paladins job wasn't made easier by him getting attacked by a sniper, and an armored Humvee, both carrying chess-pieces (queen and a knight).
It also was not certain, whether the bomb-cake did it's job of killing all Men of the Machine members, especially their leader, Hannah Komarov.
To deal with Pixel Jinx decided to make use of her newly acquired gang, the Hounds of Ulster. Call back Pixel, say, they captured Jinx, and would like to deliver her.
In the meeting Pixel (they were alone) transfered only a partial amount of money, and after some mocking from Jinx Pixel pulled a gun, but the Hounds of Ulster were faster, and disarmed Pixel.
After some talking, Jinx decided to give Pixel another chance, and they started cooperating.
Next mission: Acquire a key exchange scheme … But something else might also happen.
In this section I will talk a bit about my GMing experiences with The Sprawl.
A lot has happened in the last 4 sessions. The group sold White Knight's data on their own, and a double-cross between the group's members happened, thus the reward system totally broke. The players are now rich.
Now the group wasn't forced to work together anymore, thus everyone went their own paths, which was a lot of effort for me as a GM, and pretty boring for the players. Most of the spotlight went to Paladin, because his scenes were fighting, which required mechanics, while the other guys, if they had scenes, had to roll dice rarely. This also meant that Paladin leveled way more quickly (since I substituted the XP system with a Fail-For-XP system, like in Dungeon World).
Starting with Session 5 the group didn't work together anymore, since they had enough money, to not have to work together.
This, and quite a lot of other stuff (I will do a Rant/IMHO on the Sprawl eventually) made us drop The Sprawl as a system. There will be one more session, to say goodbye to the group, and then we will check out some other systems.
Probably The Veil, though I haven't read The Veil yet, so that might change.