Saturday, September 8, 2012

Episode 2: Robobugs and Cybervoyers

After a DEPLORABLE five month gap, we dove back into the Mass Effect universe this week for the second session of what started as a mysterious [Classified Sci-Fi Adventure]. The gap's been so significant that I forgot to take any pictures, so I'll be illustrating this post with handouts from the game--but I'll get into that later. Otherwise, the interim months have been rather kind in regards to new tools to run this specific game.

Mission Brief: Schematic 1
The first, flashiest, and freest is the Mass Effect Datapad app for the iPad, a sleek app that utilizes Mass Effect's in-game menu treatments to present the series's hundreds of fantastic recorded and written codex entries--among other inconsequential options. As I've told each of the game's players that he has an omitool with access to an encyclopedic galactic database, this app manifests that resource at the game table with both the perfect info and aesthetic. Those features, combined with the iPad's already futuristic flair, makes this easily the highest tech player handout I've ever used in a game. The only down side is that the adventure itself is far enough off the beaten path and we have enough people familiar with the Mass Effect universe that there hasn't been overly much reason to consult the datapad. When we do, though, it's @#$%in' cool!

Mission Brief: Schematic 2
The other, far less free tool is the Bose Soundlink Wireless Mobile Speaker. I picked this treasure up a few months ago after Erik got one as a birthday present and totally raved about it--and rightly so. If you don't have one of these or haven't played with one, you are missing out on one of the perks of living in the future. This light, unassuming rectangle easily connects to any Bluetooth device and pumps out room rattling sound. I'm all about using music and soundtracks in my RPGs, especially for this game since Mass Effect has such great (and readily available) music. But for my last few games its meant toting about a defunct computer's speakers and sub-woofer and shackling them to my iPhone or laptop to get the sound I want. No more! The Soundlink magically connects to my iPhone, makes flipping through songs a matter of a thumb flick, and has the power to drown our conference room game space in sound. GMs take note, the technology to conduct your game's behind the scenes orchestra is finally, unobtrusively here.

Okay, so that's what's new from before the game even got started. Here's what's new from the game itself. I forgot to take any photos, so instead I'm going to post every clue, data point, and virtual handout the party has collect thus far. If anyone has any interested in running this game themselves down the line, I'll post my complete adventure notes and the rest of the handouts once the game wraps up...

Oh yeah. So I'm breaking my established structure with my second game: I'm running a third session of this. After two players came to me asking when we can play again and a third noted on his Facebook that we have one session left, it seems like the interest to wrap this one up is totally there. I definitely wrote more than two sessions of adventure for this one, so I'll have to watch that in the future if I'm going to keep to my totally arbitrary two-session structure. So, expect a recap of a third Mass Effect session, hopefully by the end of the month even (doubly so as I'm really getting amped up for the next thing... but more on that in due time).

Mass Effect Session 2 Highlights!

Captain Eiger, Human Gunslinger (James Jacobs)
Mission Brief: Partial Transmission
* Why's there a weasel on my character sheet? A leech weasel?
* Seeing all the hidden pictures* in the schematics--the one-armed frog, the Batman rooms, the sad robot, etc. (*hidden pictures may or may not be an actual thing.)
* Lots of great theories based on hacked e-mails and handouts. Cerberus might NOT be nice people.
* Raiding the liquor cabinet.

Sathar Vrusk, Turian Monk-Zen Archer (Rob McCreary)
Blue Suns Drop Team Readout
* Breathing in a hot lung-load of "The Smoke." Following that up with a deep bleaching of his insides to clean out any potential/probable invaders
* Showing real concern for that sick chain letter girl.
* Getting fed up with all the computering and charging down the middle corridor, guns drawn.
* Totally getting the hivemind robo-corpses' attention, both with a flung keycard and bullets.
* Shooting the gooey gray filling out of the corpse-ooze remains of the station's crew.

Cerise 7, Asari Bard (Erik Mona)
E-mail: Yvette Rodriguez
* Coming out of no where with serious science know-how--picked up lots of clues with this (especially in the nano-engineer's chalkboard room and with the homemade V.I.).
* Formulated the theory that the base's first floor is totally a sham. Gathered significant support for the theory.
* Conversing with a pile of 30 not-so-dead station staffers.
* Out performing a robocorpse chorus.
* Opening the door for that nice dead krogan.

Gippy Consuelo, Salarian (James Sutter)
Transmission Log: Hui Napier
* Discovered that fire and gray smoke are not friends. Flamethrowered a smoking corpse to contain its billowing ick--and did so without scorching any teammates!
* Found a hidden password by breaking open a bunch of sports memorabilia.
* Experimenting on the corpses and smoke with all sorts of biotic effects.
* Nice job squirting all over that one corpse.
* Distinguished between the wussy fire bombs and hardcore fire grenades

Talos, Quarian (Andrew Vallas)
E-mail: Zioa Mashir
* Continues to pretty much be the master of the "Tech Check."
* Avoided setting off something terrible in the chief tech's office.
* Hardly any locked or jury-rigged door has kept closed in the face of his hardcore hacking.
* Revealing the schematics for a ridiculously advanced nanomachine... too bad about 50 billion had all ready spooled off the nano-robot printer.
* Firebombs FTW. Especially the lob that took down the last zombie.

Note About Handouts
E-mail: Marshall Hutruger
I've been displaying all of these handouts from my laptop using a projector (check out at the previous Mass Effect post for a glimpse of how this looks in operation). On the technical side, I wanted this to have a look suggestive of 80's sci-fi and Apple 2E interfaces. I was able to get this using a bare bones, free word processing program called WriteRoom using its Terminal display setting and the Glass TTY VT220 font. If you're interested in recreating what you're seeing here, use these. You can also download plain text versions for each of these messages and PNG files of the schematics from the following links (right click and "save as" to download): Schematic 1, Schematic 2, Partial Transmission, Blue Suns Drop Team Readout, Yvette Rodriguez's E-mail, Hui Napier's Transmission Log, Zioa Mashir's E-mail, Marshall Hutruger's E-mail.

We left off with the crew descending into the underground second level, facing off against a robotic corpse orgy, and then opening a door that brought them face-to-face with a charging, eyeless Krogan in shattered Blue Suns mercenary armor. Check back in a few weeks for the startling conclusion: "Blind Came the Krogan!" (Also known as: "Berth of Death!" or "Song of the Smokeasites!")