He raised a cigarette to his lips- and immediately began coughing and gagging.
“Ack! Why did I just do that?” he asked himself.
“Because it’s a noir tale, you have to” said the narrator.
And here begins the tale of Andrew Robinson and his grand investigation (or not so, it’s all random, really) using 5150: Urban Renewal and New Hope City: PI from Two Hour Wargames mentioned in last post.
Opening up NHC: PI, we roll on a sequence of tables to learn what our crime is:
Crime: Theft – car
Victim: Mover (ie “Mover & Shaker”) – Office Holder (I make this a member of the City Council)
When & Where: Daytime while parked in a parking garage outside a Grocery Store in Gaia Heights (upper class residential district of New Hope City)
Difficulty of case: 2
Clues Needed: 4 (2 x difficulty)
Pressing: No (time limit to find first clue is null)
“Hired by” Victim’s father, a Scientist.
Tying all these things together, I’m saying that a member of the City Council in charge of Science & Tech called the cops because his son’s car was stolen in broad daylight. Perhaps there was something questionable in the car that Mr. Cit Council doesn’t want exposed? Maybe he has some enemies that are targeting him? We’ll find out in the first encounter.
How does all this work?
The first encounter in an Investigation is always a Get Information: Person of Interest with the Victim/Employer as the PoI. We already know who the person is, so we have to find out where they want to meet us and when. Let’s see when they want to talk:
5 – Evening
Now to find out where, I could use the locations for Scientist or City Council. I’ll stick with City Council as it makes more sense. So I look for the “Where are they?” table for City Council, Evening and see that they would be in Gaia Heights. No surprise there, but now what kind of building? Let’s see with a 2d6 roll
4 – Doctor’s Office
Doctor’s Office? Has something happened to our City Council Member? “An automatic door closed on my hand. The sensor was faulty. Broke all the little bones. Hurt like hell. I’m going to be here a while, so I figured we could talk while they reset all the bones.” I hope he’s telling the truth and crooks aren’t busting bones over some kind of indiscretion.
So now I have an encounter in Gaia Heights where the goal is to get to the Doctor’s Office. Let’s see what our table will look like. Hopping over to the other book (yes, I’m flipping between the two books a LOT for all these different tables.) I roll on the city terrain table. You don’t HAVE to roll on all these tables. In fact, unless something happens where guns start firing, you really don’t even need to set up a table, but I’m going through all the motions to show the maximum amount of steps of what can be done with this system, so if you’re bored, just wait for the pictures. Anyway, terrain:
9 – Street with 1 + 1d3 buildings. (1)
Fancy, isn’t it? So I need to merely walk from the lower right of the street to the building on the upper left, have an encounter with my employer, and then leave the way I came. Boring, right? So let’s see what else I need to keep in mind.
According to this transit map, in Gaea Heights (which apparently I’ve been spelling wrong this whole time), there are going to be 3 PEFs (Potential Enemy Forces) on the map. PEFs are basically amorphous NPCs that float around the map based on their own charts. Whenever they come within eyesight of your character, you check to see who they are. They could be no one, they could be friends, they could be just passers-by, and they could be muggers, theives or any other kind of ne’er-do-wells that I would need to step in and get scrappy with. Odds are in this location I’ll probably run into more Movers and other hoity-toity types, but who knows, that’s kind of the fun of these kinds of games is that a game can turn out to be absolutely nothing or the biggest cluster eff you’ve ever played.
And as with many games you play solo there’s the explicit rule of “you don’t have to roll randomly if you don’t have to.” If I want to walk in on a mugging, I do. If I want to just skip to the interrogation of the witness, I do. If I want to witness a drive by, I do. Or I can keep rolling and see what happens. Sure, it’s longer and a bit grindy to do, but it will also make things a bit more surprising for me, and for you, my dear reader, so I’ll keep doing that (until, of course, you come up with an awesome idea that I’ll just HAVE to play).
So we have our simplistic board. Two buildings with two parking lots beside. I suppose I should add some fences and maybe a few garbage cans and parked (non-stolen) cars.
The nice little detective badge is our hero, Detective Robinson. Lastly I need to add our three Potential Enemy Forces. That sounds far more intimidating than it can be. To add those I simply roll a d6 for each and add those to the board as if the board was split into a 9 space grid. I’m “cheating” a bit since my character is starting in the upper right of the “9” block, when I should be starting at the bottom of it, but walking from behind the alley seemed silly to me. If I roll a 1, the PEF will start in the building, but may walk outside before I get there, otherwise everything else starts outside. So let’s see:
2 – 4 – 2
That puts one at the other end of the street, and two in the parking lot right beside the doctor’s office. The rule is to put them out of Line of Sight if possible, if not, just stick them right in the middle of their spaces. So this is what the board looks like.
The PEF behind the car will remain hidden, the two in the parking lot are out in the open, but because it is evening, they won’t be revealed until I am in the same section (one ninth of the board) as them. Makes walking around after dark a bit more….interesting. PEFs have their own Reputation score, much like our detective has. They will activate on 4’s, so let’s get this thing started by rolling Activation Dice and see what happens!
Me: 1 Them: 2
Big numbers there. So here’s what it means: They have initiative because they rolled higher. It also means that they get to activate every group (group is defined as a bunch of models that are at least 2″ from another model) that has a group leader of Rep 2 or higher. Since children and elderly have a Rep of 2 usually, everyone will get to go. After that, I’ll get to do my normal activation. Of course, this being the reaction system, that doesn’t mean I won’t just sit there and wait for them to shoot at me, but for now, let’s see what the PEFs do.
I’m supposed to start with the closest PEF. They look pretty equidistant to me, so I’ll just grab one of the ones in the parking lot and start there. I roll 2d6 and check out the PEF movement table.
I’m comparing the dice to a target number of 4. Any dice that are equal or under the target number are considered to have passed. So I check out the passed 2d6 column to see what the PEF does. In this case, the PEF moves 1 section directly towards me. Diagonals count, but the fence prevents it from walking into my section, so now it’s in the street right in front of me. Again, if it can be behind cover, it’s supposed to get there, and it can hide behind the car, so I stick it in there. Not a great place for it to be, really. Now let’s check the other PEF in the parking lot.
That’s only a pass 1d6. The PEF will go to enter the nearest building. That’s the doctor’s office, not the unnamed building beside me. That’s one less thing I’ll need to worry about. Now the one at the end of the street.
Same thing, into the doctor’s office. That gives me a little more breathing room out here on the dangerous streets of New Hope City. So for my activation, I will just walk my given 8″ to cross the street and begin heading towards the doctor’s office. The “table” is 3’x 3′, so I’m not quite out of my section yet. If I chose to “fast move” I could go as far as 16″ at a clip, but why rush? Should I be afraid of something? Since there’s nothing to react to, we go again to the Activation dice.
Me: 5 Them: 5
Doubles! If you roll doubles and the number is higher than the law level of the location you are playing in, a new PEF is created. The law in this area in the evening is 4, so we do indeed create a new one. We create it just like the beginning of the game, so it might pop up right next to me. Let’s see.
Another one at the other end of the street. I can’t seem to get it behind the car well, so I just drop it in the middle of the street. So now we have this.
But still, nothing interesting. Let’s keep those dice rolling.
Me: 5 Them: 4
Good thing I have a Rep of 5, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to activate this round. So on I walk towards the office. But this brings me into the same section with the shadow behind the car! It also allows me to peek around it! So now I get to see what’s standing there! Muggers? A couple making out? Jehovah Witnesses? Again I’m rolling 2d6 versus the target of 4, only this time I’m adding +1 to the Rep due to it being in the Evening. People like being out in the evening, so it’s more likely for me to run into some. So let’s roll ‘dem bones.
Passing 2d6 means I found people! Now to go through the process of figuring out the everything else about the experience. First, how many did I find? First, we start with how many of “me” there are: 1. Then we roll one die
If it’s an odd number, you subtract half (round up) from that number and that’s how many you have. Even, you add half that. So in this case, I would end up with zero, but you always get at least 1. So there’s one guy on the other side of that car. Now I roll on a table for the location I’m in to see what type of person I find. It’s a 2d6 roll.
Fantastic! 10 is the ONLY entry in the Heights that comes up criminal! Did I just catch someone monkeying with a car? Let’s see what kind of criminal it is. Again, it’s another 2d6 roll inside the criminal table.
Dealer. Oh. Huh. Now let’s see if it’s an alien dealer. First, there’s a 2 in 6 chance it’s a Zhuh-Zhuh.
Nope. Now a 1 in 6 chance it’s a Razor.
Naw. Another 1 in 6 chance it’s a Hishen
Ah, it’s a Hishen drug(?) dealer. Hishen are a cruel people whose empire are exclusively slave traders. Those that live in the city are usually those that have sworn off the empire and are just trying to make a living and try to act like “normal” people. Of course, they also all have the following traits.
Cruel: Counts a +1d6 when taking a People related
Challenge against those with a lower Rep.
So there’s that. What is this guy doing out here, in a “good” section of town this evening. Am I doing racial profiling by questioning this? Well, luckily the game is going to do it for me. We now go into an opposed People Challenge to see how our meeting goes. Remember, though, that I am a Charismatic Genius. Sadly, my Charisma doesn’t work on Hishen, so I am at a -2d6 to my roll. That makes my people skill a 1. Eep. I need to determine the Hishen’s stats, and that’s an easy roll on the NPC table, so let’s take a look
# Gen Rep Fit Pep Sav Wpn
4 M 3 3 1 2 Machine Pistol
Great, not much of a people person either. So we are both rolling one die and looking for successes. Successes are simply 1’s, 2’s and 3’s.
Me: 6 Him: 3
So I have 0 successes to his 1 success. I’m getting the cold shoulder from this NPC. I know he’s up to no good and he does NOT want me there. I’m definitely of a higher Rep than him, so if I want to push things, I could, but this would probably come down to a fight and a machine pistol can throw a lot of lead into the air. He might not draw on me, if he’s smart, but that’s a risk. I don’t push it, but knowing a Hishen is poking around the area is definitely suspicious, and he gets written into my notebook. Anytime I meet a Hishen for the rest of the campaign, I roll a d6; on a 1, it’s going to be this one again.
Now it’s the oppositions time for Activation. Luckily they rolled 4 (remember the Activation dice?) so the Hishen can’t act with its low Rep, but the PEFs can. I roll for the one at the end of the street right next to me first. Remember, I roll against a 4.
Which does pass 2d6, so it’s going to walk right towards me and activate. Oh boy. I wonder if this guy has friends. Now I’m rolling against a 5 to see if this PEF is actually people.
Yup! People are walking this way! Wonder who? First, how many?
1-5=Not enough. So it’s only one person again. But who?
Dang, almost another criminal. This time it’s a “Shaker.” No, not the old religion. In fact it’s a
Attorney. Who, strangely, also has a 1 in 6 chance of being a Zhuh-Zhuh (large ape-like alien).
No, but that would have been awesome! So an attorney is walking down the street. Big deal. But I still have to do the people challenge. Hey, it’s possible he might stop me from seeing the member of City Council for some legal reason. Let’s find out.
# Gen Rep Fit Pep Sav Wpn
1 M 5 5 3 4 BAP
Woah. This guy’s no push over. Luckily he’s human so I’ll be rolling 3 dice, and so will he.
Me: 4,1,4 Him: 2,2,5
Again, I lose by 1 which means I get the cold shoulder by him. I’ve got nothing against the guy. Jeez, can’t a guy just walk down the street in this town? Finally I check for the two PEFs in the building. They’ll only come out if they pass 1d6 versus their 4.
They both stay in the building. So here’s where we are now.
Nothing, so far, has “happened,” but there are some plot hooks floating out there. I’m sure you guys can come up with some ideas as to what that Hishen could be doing in front of that car. If you have ideas, don’t hesitate to post them in the comments section. We’ll continue tomorrow where I’ll enter the building and talk with our councilman.