Exploit Zero: Mukden Run

A lazy afternoon in Lower New Kowloon’s Diàn District

Welcome to S7 in 2022. So far, so good.

Here on Cape Cod, our Tuesday Game Nights are off to a solid start as we not only have a new regular at the table – Mike E. – but have launched into a fresh D&D 5E campaign. Props to Neighbor Mike who not merely wrote it but has taken the GM seat and is doing an excellent job keeping the rest of us on task, diverting any murder hobo tendencies into actual plot progression. (how does he do it?) I’ll be posting about our shenanigans in the near future.

In the meantime, the group graciously agreed to some straight up tabletop combat, so we had an afternoon of pizza and cyberpunk mayhem play testing some new options for Exploit Zero last Saturday.

The crew consisted of one of each Agent SP – a Ronin, a Razor, a Sawbones, a Splicer, and a Shiver- who received a two-part mission: 1. kidnap the wife of a rival executive, Mrs Duret-Toffler, and 2. hack a nearby Public Data mast and upload a (fabricated) video from the TransHuman radical group, H+, claiming responsibility.

This was a standard 6-Turn game on a 4 x 4 mat. Move rate was bumped to 6″ per action to accommodate the larger mission area. Also, 4 out of the 5 team members elected to field test some Burakku Experimental Technology. (BXT) This is prototype cybernetic augmentations that greatly enhance an Agent’s capabilities but have an ever-increasing chance of malfunctioning and rendering that same Agent severely diminished or incapacitated. Only Matt’s Sawbones decided to play it safe, figuring someone in the group had to be the designated driver in case things went belly up.

Turns One and Two – in which annoyances are dispatched then reinforced

The crew enters the mission area and immediately fans out. Mike D’s Razor and Matt’s Sawbones beeline toward Mrs D-T, Other Pat’s Shiver and Mike E’s Ronin cross the avenue to the data mast, while John’s Splicer and Drone take up station behind a SUV near one of the possible HSEC entry points.

Mrs D-T’s bodyguards drop fast but an emergency call goes out when her bio-signs spike and she fails to answer the security check-in call. Sirens wail. Here come the reinforcements.

Turns Three and Four – in which cracks appear in the veneer of professional carnage

The game may be cooperative but the dice are not. In fact, they just plain suck sometimes.

A squad of HSEC mere steps away, John cackles gleefully, readies his drone’s gun pod for some full-auto fun – and then totally fumbles the rest of his action dice. ??!!

Next thing he knows, his Splicer is stuck on the other side of the Mercedes, bleeding from a gunshot wound while the drone buzzes unhelpfully at his shoulder. This crisis forces the Shiver and the Ronin to turn back to assist. Which they do, but the data mast hack goes on hold.

In the meantime, Mrs D-T watches Mike D’s Razor literally disassemble the first security guard. She screams as the now-blood-covered Razor advances on the second one. He in turn panics, tries to pull his VIP to safety while missing horribly with his Keltech SMG. Other Pat’s Sawbones sighs, steps up, and puts him out of his misery. (stop, it’s just embarrassing at this point, now)

Guards eliminated, the VIP is amenable to a sudden change in her day’s itinerary.

But the team is not in the clear yet: More HSEC arrive. One wave near the data mast. Another behind the Agents with Mrs D-T. To top it off, a HSEC Razor – a rival Agent – responds to the emergency call and challenges Mike D’s character.

Turn Five and Six – in which complications and narrow escapes factor heavily

Burakku X-Tech: brilliant when it works – catastrophic when it doesn’t.

There are six flavors of BXT, ranging from cyber legs for a serious movement rate boost to cranial for enhanced hacking and piloting skills. The catch is an Agent has to pass a Glitch Roll at the start of every activation, and the risk of malfunction increases every turn.

The Razor’s Arms glitched. The Ronin’s Eyes glitched. The Splicer’s Cranial aug glitched. And the Sawbones Neural Aug glitched.

Not all at once, thank the Dark Net loa. But enough that the mood went from darkly comical to deadly earnest in about two minutes.

D10 Elite HSEC inbound, the Sawbones had to help the severely migrained Splicer get away right before his own nervous system seized up. At the other end of the board, the Razor’s arms suddenly flopped useless at her sides while facing the enemy Agent, so her Ronin buddy shot him down – right before his eye augs went snow blind.

Aside from one amazing moment when the near-blind Ronin lobbed a one-in-a-million micro grenade to demolish a squad of HSEC, the last two turns more resembled the Land of Spastic, Misfit Toys as the hampered Agents flailed and fumbled with the data mast and kicked Mrs D-T towards the exit point.

At the very end, they passed her off, one to a less-damaged other, getting her out in a nick of time. Talk about a close thing.


I’ve heard it said that if after a session the players talk about the rules, it’s a bad game. If they talk about the game, it’s a good set of rules. The wrinkles are getting ironed out – that’s what play test games are for – but I’m pleased to say most of the post-mission chatter centered on the game drama not the rules issues. I’m excited about offering another layer to people’s Exploit Zero games. I hope they have as much fun as we did.

That’s it for now. Thanks for stopping by. Stay loose, choombas.


*If you’re interested in cooperative or solo cyberpunk espionage and mayhem, you can purchase copies of Exploit Zero, the Tsim Sha Tsui Expansion, and Hostile Takeover at Amazon HERE or WargameVault HERE.

6 responses to “Exploit Zero: Mukden Run”

  1. That looks like it was an excellent game.

    Great to hear about your rpg- ing too.



    1. Thanks Pete. RPGs are featuring more in our weekly sessions. There are six of us regulars at this point and it’s just a simpler way to keep everyone engaged.

  2. Great looking table & mini’s as always

    1. Good to hear from you. Thank you.
      I aim for the full gaming experience: painted minis, cool terrain, snacks, mood music, banter…

  3. The table looks fantastic! Where did you get the mat with the street layout from?

    1. Thanks.
      The mat is from Playmats.eu. Called ‘Future City’, IIRC

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