HARDWIRED

A little side project I’m working on. A cooperative game where players are jacked up Agents sent on corporate black ops.

Guess who played way too much Syndicate back in the day…

***

 

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An All-Nighter

 

Someone tipped off Han Chou Telemetrics.

 

04:17 in the Shunyi District, HCT Corporate Zone, you and your crew slipped out the back door of their secure server facility ninety seconds ahead of schedule. That minute and a half saved your life; you caught their Rapid Response Team by surprise. They came at you fast and heavy. You came back faster and heavier. When it was over, they were down but your driver was dead and the get-away was totaled. So the four of you took off running.

 

Han Chou management won’t call the police – which is good. They’d have to admit to the breach and that would translate into a huge hit to their reputation, as well as their stock values. So they’re handling this in-house – which is bad. That means every HCT Security Specialist and Rent-a-Cop in New Kowloon is gunning for you.

 

You pulled an all-nighter on this one and there’s a trail of bodies, blood, and bullet casings in the dark alleys of Shunyi to prove it.  Less than an hour of night left, you’re still on foot and low on ammo, but you’re nearly home. Asian-Pacific holo-ads glow in the sky over the buildings just ahead.

 

Your uplink squirted ‘Package Retrieved’ the second you stepped outside the HCT building, so you know your company will back you when you reach the Neutral Zone. With the UN-enforced ceasefire, Han Chou won’t risk an open confrontation. They’ll have to eat the loss. The nearest checkpoint is just seven blocks away, next to the Yintai Shopping Center.

 

All you have to do is get there.

Book Release: Zombie Six – Enemy of my Enemy

BOOK RELEASE

 

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Thanks to those of you who followed along at the HSSJ blog. My latest Mil SF book, “Enemy of my Enemy” is now available at Amazon.

Print version HERE. eBook available 17 March. Pre-order HERE.

Thanks and Enjoy.

ZONA: The Chistoysk run.

Playing ZONA last night, our STALKER-flavored skirmish rules. Four STALKERs visited the town of Chistoysk near the Black Woods. The Fat Man wanted a cell tower in town repaired and was offering a wad of rubles to get it done.

“Plus,” he said. “I hear one of the RMUs stashed a bit of gear in the area. It goes missing, who’s to say how that happened, eh?”

The team agreed it was worth their time and took the job.

“One last thing,” the Fat Man added as they headed toward the door. “You might want to keep an eye out for Rotters. The fast kind, not shufflers. Zoombies,” he cackled.

Derek spit on the pavement. “Derr`mo. I thought this sounded too easy.”

“If it was easy,” John said. “Anyone could do it.”

Pat cracked his shotgun open and loaded two shells. “Off we go, then.”

***

The game began with four players entering from the south edge. Chistoysk is considered a Threat Level Two zone and has three Hot Spots in addition to the mission objective. Three groups of hostiles are present at the start go the game: two small packs of Ragers and one Rager brute.

 

The first couple turns saw the players advancing. Pat and Matt entered the nearest building. John pressed through to the Hot Spot on their left, while Derek went on an end run, angling through the ruins for the Hot Spot on the right.

 

Matt climbed to the top floor and immediately began shooting zombies. He dropped one straightway, which might not have been the wisest move. He may have thinned the herd but he also got their attention. Following the simple AI rules, the hostiles all began to converge on the sound.

 

This left Pat downstairs fending off a mob of rabid undead. After fumbling his (only) Molotov cocktail and scorching the building’s already devastated exterior, he spent a number of activations frantically blasting away with his double barrel shotgun (great in CQB but needs reloading every two shots) or hacking away with his machete.

Meanwhile John headed toward the Hot Spot on the second floor of the nearby building.

“Oh quit whining. You’ll be fine,” he yelled to Pat. “There’s only 8 of them.”

John triggered the Hot Spot, spawning feral dogs, who immediately clambered up to attack him. Derek suffered an empathy spasm and turned aside to help Pat by picking off  Zekes from a distance with his AK74.

 

After a lot of blood, bullets, swearing, and a near-death experience, all the Zekes and Dogs were down. John not only salvaged a Med-Kit from the cache, but found an Anomaly containing an Artifact. (Granted +1″ to his Movement)

Pat staggered to his feet, blinked at the freshly re-killed undead piled around him, and went down the road after John, who was heading toward the Cell Tower. Derek followed at a distance, picking a path through the debris on the first floor of the central apartment building. Oddly, Matt remained in his third-floor perch.

“I gotta bad feeling,” Derek muttered.

As John and Pat approached the cell tower, Matt’s homicidal tendencies surfaced. “If I can’t have the mission objective,” he thought in profanity-laced Russian. “No one can.” And with that, he began shooting.

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Treachery: the wounds of a friend. John and Pat are shot in the back. No objective for them.

Derek quickly scrambled to cover. Peering out a broken window, he stared at the building at the southern edge of town.

“How am I gonna kill this guy?” he thought.

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***

We called it after that perfidious display of mercenary ambition and callousness.

It was a good game. Tense as the Zekes and Dogs piled on. The other two Hot Spots went un-searched, and of course no one got the Mission Objective. I’m going to tweak the On-Table Hostiles and maybe add spawning points in order to pressure players into cooperating more than killing one another. Not that you can’t do it. The Zone is a dangerous place.  I just want that to be a difficult, momentous decision.

Thanks as always to the members of the Cape Cod Wargame Commission.

Have a great day.

 

Oh and if you’re in a STALKER state of mind, A Prayer to Saint Strelok is available at Amazon. Thanks.

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Missing Persons – Part 1

New Kowloon. 2069

Shenghua Street, District 5. LNK

The members of Blue Rose Import/Export were enjoying a meal in the back room of The Osaka Shuffle when a smartly dressed woman approached them. She apologized for interrupting, sat down and explained with great hesitation she needed their help to locate her missing daughter.

“It’s been a week, no one’s heard from her. None of her friends. Not her Boss or her apartment manager. The police let me file a Missing Persons report but they won’t do anything because she’s an adult. They say she probably ran off with some new boyfriend and will turn up later. But that’s not like her. She wasn’t dating anyone and she doesn’t just leave like that. I just know something’s wrong. Will you help me? I can pay you.”

A 1,500 Yuan advance is a great incentive. Add expenses plus another 1,500 when they find her.

So yeah, you took the job.

***

The evening unfolded as the team split up – one half to her place of employment, the other to the club she frequented. (Gentleman Loser) Leads in both locations point to her apartment building in District 6. It seemed like straightforward easy money job, a “Where’s Waldo” or in this case “Where’s Sun Dai Yu?”

Until they picked up a tail.

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C33r magnifies a frame grab from local street cam footage. Some guy and his pet drone are shadowing them.

 

I won’t bore you with details, but the evening’s session ended in a messy, back alley brawl as the tail turned out to be a private investigator contracted by the Asian-Pacific military to track down AWOL combat simulacra. He flashed his credentials and a general purpose warrant that would allow him to run ID tests on Derek’s character, C33r. (that’s ‘Seer” to you)

The members of Blue Rose were disinclined to acquiesce to his request.

Part 1 ended with C33r shooting one very nosy drone out of the air and Other Pat’s character, Marlow, using his shot-fist on the investigator’s head. Shot-Fist: 1 Head: 0

The team left District 6 in a hurry with Dai Yu’s laptop. (stolen from her apartment, btw)

More next week.

 

Why STALKER?

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As the setting for a skirmish wargame setting?

Are you kidding? If you have ever played any of the STALKER PC games, you shouldn’t be asking that question. And if you haven’t played STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl, Call of Pripyat, or Clear Sky, you need to get on that. Right now.

Dark, brooding, creeping dread punctuated by moments of pulse-spiking terror as you scavenge the irradiated countryside around Chernobyl searching for valuable, other-worldly artifacts.

Face down bandits, blind, feral dogs, mutant boars, and shuffling waves of mind-wiped zombified soldiers. Hunt invisible, swamp-dwelling Cthulhu-esque bloodsuckers, collect the bounty on deformed psychic horrors, and always watch out for Snorks.

Zona Perestrelki (Russian for ‘Zone Firefights’) will combine the solid game engine of our “Cleared To Engage” rules with the distinct STALKER-themed hostile environment and a simple campaign system that will allow you to transform a bumbling group of Molodovs into Zone-hardened veterans – if they live long enough.

My Chechen Wars Kickstarter miniatures are slated to arrive first of the year, so look for them in AARs of our ZP playtest games Q1 2018.

Until then,

GET OUT OF HERE, STALKER!

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Blue Rose Import/Export

Character figs for our upcoming Interface Zero 2.0 games set in New Kowloon 2069.

 

Blue Rose I/E is one of New Kowloon’s finest independent trade services, offering secure storage, fast transport, and outstanding turnaround time for all your goods and products. Stop by our warehouse at Dock 5H – 37. North Pier, Lower New Kowloon. Or visit our VR office on the Grid at BR_EI.LNK.COM. 

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Remember – Quality shows at Blue Rose! 

 

Interface Zero 2.0 @ NK69

More RPG game prep last Tuesday evening. We finished up Character Creation then read through a bit of game setting fluff on New Hong Kong in 2069. After, we ran through another simple scenario to hammer out the combat mechanics. (It’s taking me a bit to wrap my head around the granularity and pace of a RPG game)

The fight took place at the Docks in Lower New Kong with the Ebony Hand crew fending off the Trade and Transit Security forces for four turns. The TTS outnumbered the EH slightly, plus they were kitted out with Kevlar. While vicious as wharf rats, the gangers’ main advantage was their hacker, who could splice into the docks loading array and shift Conex containers to block or funnel the security into EH lanes of fire.

Here are some pictures.

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North J38 Docks, LNK
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Kheper Mac and the Ebony Hand
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New Hong Kong Trade and Transit Security force

Long story short, the Ebony Hand made quick work of the Dock rent-a-cops, blasting away and using the Conex containers to shove them aside or even squish them on a couple occasions. (Shaken cops who couldn’t crawl away fast enough were turned into tarmac pizza. Eeeew.)

Easy win for the chrome and mirror shade punks.

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That shotgun came in handy.
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Kheper Mac, chummer. Remember that name.
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EH hacker at Data Node.
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“Hey, who’s moving the containers?”

First RPG session is in two weeks.  For now, here’s the New Hong Kong fluff and a short list of cyberpunk slang to get you in the mood.

Til then, have a large one, omae.

 

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NEW HONG KONG IN 2069

Considered Asia’s premier ‘International City’ and the financial capital of the Eastern Hemisphere, New Hong Kong was originally conceived in 2027 as a large-scale urban expansion to the original city. However, explosive population growth and increasing market dominance from the development of advancing technologies ensured the new metropolitan area received formal recognition as a separate municipality in 2041.

With an estimated population of 8.3 million between the Upper and Lower sector in a total area of just over 900 square miles, New Hong Kong (or ‘NK’ as it is known) is literally a ‘City of the Future.’

The Ground Sector, or Lower City, is constructed on existing landmass south of old Hong Kong with parts extending over the South China Sea. The Sky Sector, or Upper City, is built on a massive platform called the ‘Terrace’ which rests 7,000 feet (2 kilometers) above sea level. The Terrace is supported by twelve gigantic pillars called spindles, each one covering twelve city blocks. Internationally, New Hong Kong’s dual sectors are designated LNK and UNK for Lower and Upper New Kong.

UNK is home to the world’s largest and most prestigious corporate, commercial, and financial entities. With available space at a premium, residence on the Terrace is restricted and possible only to the world’s most famous, well-connected, and affluent individuals.

LNK is divided into twelve numbered districts, designated by the Terrace Spindle inside its zone. While the Lower City contains numerous upscale residential areas and exclusive corporate arcologies, it is primarily home to a vast multitude of laborers, merchants, wage-slaves, and workers who either make the daily commute as service personnel in the Terrace, or are employed in one of the hundreds of factories and dock-related industries on the ground level. Because large portions of the Lower City are in shadow most of the day, LNK is nicknamed ‘Dark Town’ and it lives up to this moniker in more ways than one.

Aside from the usual range of carnal entertainment and distraction like casinos, bars, pharma-dens, brothels of every type, and simsense arcades, Dark Town also specializes in illicit Gray and Black Market cyberware, biotech, robotics, and nanotech. Traditional Triad families keep a tight rein on all criminal and semi-legal activity, although recently both the Japanese Yakuza and Russian Bratva have been stepping up their attempts to gain control of the docks and airports.

The team operates a legitimate cover business registered as ‘Blue Rose Import Export.’ They maintain a nice but standard virtual office staffed with a commercial level business A.I. and they lease a mid-sized warehouse near the LNK North Docks. They also have a safe house in District 5 behind the Hong Ying Rice and Noodle Shop on Shenghua Street. This safe house is reasonably secure and is equipped with additional gear, medical supplies, weapons and ammunition. The Blue Rose is fronted by Matt’s character, a Human 2.0. It falls then that this small trade and transport company operating in LNK would employ a Repair Android, a Cybernetics Technician, and a Security/Bodyguard.

The crew has a solid working relationship with the local Triad boss, having done a number of security, delivery, and exchange jobs for them over the past two years. The team, while new, is considered reliable and enjoys a reputation for quick, clean work and while having scruples, doesn’t hesitate to get stuck in if necessary.

***

CYBERPUNK SLANG (Mostly Shadowrun ‘verse)

  • Angel: usually an (unknown) benefactor
  • Biz: Business
  • Buzz: go away
  • Chipped: Senses, skills, reflexes, muscles, and so on, enhanced by cyberware.
  • Chummer: Pal, Buddy
  • Cleaner: assassin (or team) used to eliminate all traces of a mission, including the participants.
  • Comm: any device that allows direct communication
  • Corp: anything related to corporations
  • Dataslave: Corporate decker or other data processing employee.
  • Datasteal: Theft of data from a computer, usually by decking.
  • Deck: Cyberdeck or its use.
  • Decker: Cyberdeck user.
  • Deckhead: Simsense abuser; anyone with a datajack or chipjack.
  • Drek: Shit
  • Dumped: Involuntarily ejected from the Matrix.
  • Dumpshock: Nausea and disorientation from being dumped out of a simsense interface (usually the Matrix or a remote control rig)
  • Exec: Corporate executive.
  • Frag: Common swear word; Someones (desired) death in a disrespectfully rejoicing context.
  • Geek: To kill. (outdated)
  • Go-go-go: A bike gang or gang member.
  • Heatwave: Police crackdown.
  • Hoi: Hi/Hello
  • Hose: Screw up.
  • Ice: Security software. “Intrusion Countermeasures,” or IC.
  • Jack In: enter cyberspace
  • Jack out: to leave cyberspace.
  • Jander: to walk in an arrogant yet casual manner
  • Kobun: Member of a Yakuza clan.
  • Mr. Johnson: an anonymous employer or corporate agent.
  • Nutrisoy: Cheaply processed food product, derived from soybeans
  • Nuyen: World standard of currency.
  • Omae: Friend
  • Oyabun: Head of a Yakuza clan.
  • Panzer: Any ground-effect combat vehicle.
  • Paydata: A datafile worth brouzouf on the black market.
  • Plex: A metropolitan complex, or “metroplex”.
  • Poli: A policlub or policlub member.
  • Razorguy: Heavily cybered samurai or other muscle.
  • Samurai: Mercenary or muscle for hire. Implies honor code.
  • Sarariman: From “salaryman.” A corporate employee.
  • Screamer: Credstick or other ID that triggers computer alarms if used.
  • Seoul Man: A member of a Seoulpa ring.
  • Seoulpa ring: A small criminal gang with connections to others like it.
  • Shaikujin: “Honest citizen.” A corporate employee.
  • Simsense: ASIST sensory broadcast or recording.
  • SINless: Lacking a System Identification Number.
  • Slot: Mild curse word.
  • Slot and Run: Hurry up. Get to the point.
  • So ka: I understand. I get it.
  • Soykaf: Ersatz coffee substitute made from soybeans.
  • Sprawl: a metroplex
  • Squatter: to fraternize below one’s social level.
  • Suit: A “straight citizen.”
  • System Identification Number (SIN): Identification number assigned to each person in the society.
  • T-bird: Low-altitude vehicle (LAV), usually vectored thrust.
  • Trid, Trideo: Holographic animated media; Three-dimensional successor to video.
  • Vatjob: A person with extensive cyberware replacement, reference is to a portion of the process during which the patient must be submerged in nutrient fluid.
  • Wetwork: Assassination. Murder.
  • Wired: Equipped with cyberware, especially increased reflexes.
  • Yak: Yakuza. Either a clan member or a clan itself.
  • brouzouf: monetary unit
  • schway: cool
  • shazbot: dickhead