First session of CyberTex, a GURPS Cyberpunk campaign set in the Texas Corridor Megacity of 2065. Think Bladerunner meets William Gibson meets Gunsmoke.
I was pretty happy with how this first game went. Writing the adventure as “scenes” really helps keep an open-ended game like this (unlike a classic dungeon adventure) on track. The players were very inventive. Total playing time was 4 or 5 hours, which passed very quickly, and there was less actual fighting than any game I’ve ever run. That is what I wanted — to have a story driven game in which non-combat skills were just as important as combat skills.
We have some fine-tuning to do with guidelines for cyberspace cowboy hacking kind of stuff, etc., but I found GURPS to be excellent for this kind of game.
We played this session mostly in a “theater of the mind” style, occasionally drawing very simple maps on graph paper.
I’ll post some starting facts about the CyberTex world soon. Need to edit so it doesn’t reveal stuff to my players.
Episode 1 takes place in the DFW region of the dome-enclosed megacity stretching down the old IH35 corridor.
Character starting points: 200, plus max 50 in disadvantages/quirks. Starting them somewhat high, as we are only playing once per month. Also going high-side on experience points awarded for this reason. 5 character points awarded to each PC at the end of this episode.
Cast of Characters/Players…
- Hawk — played by William. Superintelligent former astronaut candidate, maimed in explosion and fitted out with cybernetic eye with lots of extrasensory and tech-interface functions and a bionic ear.
- Inuyama – played by Randy. Former Sumo wrestler from Japan, kicked out of league for cheating by use of cranial skill chip slot giving information and advantage on opponents. Sent to Texas by his benefactors to get him out of Japan. Big, very fast, and tough in hand to hand combat.
- Joe played by Jeff L. – psychologically damaged vet from the corporate wars, Joe is an expert marksman, sniper, and gun slinger. Suffers from odd delusions and blood lust.
- Max – Played by Jeff K. Jack of all trades tinkerer, medic, and hustler, with contacts in the criminal underworld and streetwise skills.
- the Gamemaster — Bob (that me!)
The games begins as Max is contacted by an underworld contact and offered a lucrative contract to put together a team and rescue the kidnapped cyberneticist Tien Salazar. Max contacts three sometimes-associates (the other PCs), and they meet outside Gus’s Rotgut Emporium, a popular watering hole for rogues, scoundrels, and underworld types. Their contact is to be a man known as “the Pinky”. Upon arriving, all but Hawk go in together and find a table. Hawk remains behind, using his enhanced perception to see who in the room shows any interest in the team. Hawk does, in fact, notice a patron who seems to be following the team, and using his bionic eye’s telescopic function he can tell that the person also has a cybernetic eye. The Pinky arrives and introduces himself, but by this time Hawk has used his data uplink to text a message to Max, informing him of the spy. The spy realizes he has been spotted and makes a break for it. Hawk distracts him, while Max and Inuyama approach from behind. The sumo easily takes the guy in a bear hug, and the group remove him to a dark corner for questioning.
Inuyama succeeds with an Intimidation roll, but the guy really doesn’t know much. Just babbles about how “The Lord will soon arrive and rule the world.” Hawk uses his bionic eye’s microscopic vision to examine the spy’s own bionic eye. He is able to see that it is both an eye, a camera, and has a tiny parabolic microphone. He switch to his bug detector function, and determines that the spy’s eye has been transmitting. Using his own data uplink and hacking skill, Hawk enters CyberSpace and can determine that the eye has been transmitting to an old data center, but can’t get a location in the real world. He then makes another hacking roll and shuts the guy’s bionic eye totally down. After Max threatens the guy a bit, they run him off, seeing that they will get no more info.
Finally, they have their meeting with the Pinky, who is known as the Pinky due to bionic pinky on his left hand. The Pinky explains that Tien Salazar, a gifted cyberneticist, has been working for his employer, but disappeared last night. He was not supposed to be out on the street. He can’t be located. The Pinky’s employer wishes to remain unknown, and thus wishes to hire the PCs to recover Salazar and return him to a safe house. Payment upon recovery and return of Salazar will be $100,000. The Pinky can also offer the group support in the form a working budget, reasonable weapons, and transportation.
Finally, the Pinky reveals that Salazar is a man of disturbing tastes, and is known to frequent an establishment called Pearl’s Party Dome. He suspects that is where he went.
The team parts with the Pinky, and procedes to Pearl’s Party Dome, where the scum go to have a good time. All manner of pleasures are available within. They arrive, and once again Hawk lags behind to check for anyone tailing them. He sees none. Joe strikes up a friendship with the bartender, who introduces him to the proprietor of the place, Pearl. Pearl is a double amputee transvestite in a motorized wheelchair. Chubby, with a slight five o’clock shadow under the heavy makeup, Pearl were some kind of cybervision goggles and is flanked by 2 small hovering drones. She is also extremley intelligent. Sounds like Truman Capote. Joe explains what kind of “fun” he’s looking for, and discovers that another person was there last night looking for similar wild fun, and disappeared with two of Pearl’s girls. Pearl is pissed. She is protective of her girls, and wants them back. Joe negotiates a deal to recover them, and Pearl gives him and the team access to the room from which they disappeared. She clearly will be a good ally and resource for the PCs.
While this is happening, Hawk has hacked into the security system and is examining video of Salazar entered the place and partying. He finds time missing from the video records.
After the team searches the room and investigates, they eventually discover 2 clues. First, an unusual looking Tarot card, with an odd run on it, and images of cybernetics and circuitry. Hawk discovers that the data port in the room was used to inject a virus into the security system, producing false security data to cover up the disappearance of the scientist and two women. He also finds some hidden occult messages in the virus, similar to the “our Lord is coming to rule the world” line of the spy, and the symbol on the tarot card.
Still, the team is unable to determine how the 3 disappeared from the room. Joe and Inuyama investigate in the service area of the Party Dome, questioning employees, and discover that 4 people — 2 men and 2 women – left via the service entrance at about the time of the missing time in the security recordings. Hawk is able to patch into a security camera in the alley and get plate numbers of the group’s car. The team acquires the name and address associated with the car, which leads them to the apartment of one of the 2 missing women.
They find no one at the apartment, and break in. Inside they find a books, programs, and art of an occult/cyber-occult nature. They find a picture of Tien Salazar pinned to the wall. They find materials similar to the cyber-tarot card they found in the room at the Party Dome. Hacking into an active data port in the small apartment, Hawk is able to tell that a frequent data connection has been made to a data center from the early 2000s. He is able to determine the center’s physical location. The group assumes this is the same one the spy’s eye was transmitting to from the Rottgut Emporium. They gear up to infiltrate the data center, mainly by picking up Joe’s weapons.
They surveil the data center, a 3-story concrete building with no windows, and one door in the front. It is surrounded by taller buildings. Hawk’s IR vision detects two heat signatures up on the roof. Hawk and Joe take position on top of a 7 -story, confirming 2 guards with guns on the roof of the data center. Inuyama and Max create a distration by throwing a bunch of Max’s firecrackers to the roof of the data center, causing the 2 guards to turn their backs. Joe quickly and efficiently kills both with deadly shots from his sniper rifle. To fast, in fact, for the guards to signal any trouble. As the data center is concrete and secure, no other guards show up.
The team quickly move to the door of the data center, and Hawk attempts to hack the door control, rolling a critical failure and setting off the alarms. It’s a large heavy metal door. Inuyama uses his great size, strength, and speed to bulldoze through the door.
With the alarm sounding, they search the building. In the basement, they discover 12 cyber-cultists all jacked into a massive spherical data device – a huge cyberspace deck. All are deep in a trance, completely zoned out. However, 3 cyber-enhanced pit bulls rush the PCs. After some manuvering in the building, the PCs kill the dogs, and return to the basement. They discover the cultists have been automatically un-jacked from the data sphere upon activation of the guard dogs, and the sphere itself has self-destructed. They do not find Tien Salazar in the building. However, they do find the two women from Pearl’s among the cultists.
The episode concludes. Next time the PCs will deal with the captive hookers. Pearl will not be happy to find that 2 of her valued employees were involved in abducting a customer, or that they are occult weirdos.