Acrimony Playtest

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Automata Automata's picture
Acrimony Playtest

Here's my playtest so far.

The session ran for about four hours, including discussing the rules. It started much later than intended after one player was late.

To start with I allowed characters to purchase some items at the unnamed station they were on before getting the mission briefing to get them some familiar with the tech level of the setting and the items, as well as start rolling dice to learn the system. While they were interested in a few things, in the end they only got two vac suits with @-rep. Other items were considered but a lot of the available purchases (I skimmed the items from the Making Characters pdf and removed Major or (R) items) they wanted were already owned by someone in the group. Thus far this has been their only use of Rep due to low scores that would be relevant on Kongyún. I might remind them about Flex allowing for factional NPC's to show up next time.

Arriving ten days after Chi disappeared, the group scanned the asteroid on approach, but only got general information about where things were.

Chi was flippant and antagonised Constable Yu, but Njal managed to convince him that Chi was just an idiot and the Sylph claimed to have turned off their biomods and be drunk, which Yu believed. He did search Chi a second time for insolence.

The characters checked in at the BestRest Motel and Inn, and began researching. They discovered footage of Chi delivering Mariposa’s payment to Lion and realised it was faked and that public footage of Chi had been deleted by a professional.

Chi's old room was searched and found to have been emptied and a cleaner nanoswarm had likely been used to remove evidence of whoever had been there's presence. The footage of that person had also been removed, but it was clearly by a lesser hacker than the one who blanked Chi's presence from the public cameras.

While investigating the goings on at Kongyún the group discovered that Chi had previously met up with Chang’e Jade, a wannabe reporter and local blogger/conspiracy nut.

After doing an incredibly thorough job investigating Jade’s blog (rolled 00) and hacking her mesh (another crit) they discovered her apparent romantic interest in Chi, and that someone else had hacked her at some point.

They noticed many stores closed around them and people were whispering rumours about the group being spies etc.

Jade was sent a message to meet the players in a secluded location, which she agreed to given she can fly and knows her way around, and they talked with her about the activities on the station and the disappearances, including that of Chi. Chi managed to hide that they were the same person she was looking for (she 99’d on a perceive check, should that have been kinesics?).

When heading back from the meeting they were confronted by Josef Bves, and they managed to convince him that their cover stories were true.

Before leaving they saw that Bves caught a young worker at an XP store and confronted him with the phrase “shamsu heiroah yanaksha”. The man responded “iltubzuga isthazuhma.” Bves and the Confessors dragged him away. Chi managed to ask a local what just happened, and got a mumbled response about Bves looking out for people. Since their translators didn’t reveal the meaning of the phrase they asked what Bves had said, which prompted the person to send them a short clip of exactly what they’d just seen from the locals perspective – they either misinterpreted or deliberately misunderstood the question. The local left immediately after sending the video of ‘what Bves said’.

A speck bot was sent to follow Bves, but the metal laden tunnels were blocking the connection to it (are there any rules for the range of bots and drones I can port over from 1e?). Amal was able to follow behind the Confessors secretly, with a Gnat bot that Njal was jamming (can he do that? I can't find 2e rules about it, or about Forks for that matter, which the player considered briefly) following at the full extent of their mesh connection later, in turn followed by Chi and Sváfa. They came upon the group in their secret psychosurgery lab, and hacked into the impromptu labs mesh to see what they were doing. They overheard some Confessor thugs talking about how this was the third ‘infected’ this week.

A psychology check from Chi revealed the earlier call and response from Bves and the shop keep was likely a verbal tic and that this may be the exsurgant virus. The group watched briefly to see what Josef was doing. While they could not see what data Bves was getting from the Ego Bridge, a Psychosurgery test revealed his AR prompts seemed to indicate he was a professional who had developed specific tools and methods of dealing with this situation, indicating hard earned familiarity with this strain and its victims.

The group left the tunnels and returned to the ship, where they used Njal’s radio booster to contact Eludere and warned her about the apparent infection. She found no record of the particular call and response with a quick search and began organising a group of sentinels to come and quarantine the incident if needed. She requested they continue investigating and report back when they knew who/what is causing the infection.

Eludere also advised they get the gear out of the scratch space immediately, as the situation is elevating, and suggested they attempt to sneak weapons off the ship if possible. Finally, the Proxy brought up the idea of seeking help from Mariposa Chen, and admitted Firewall may be able to pay her for providing assistance a second time, but would rather see if she can be motivated through self-interest first.

At this point the session ends, to be picked up next week when the group finally goes exploring the mines.

Gameplay wise the QSR covered a lot of the basic actions, but I had to dip into the playtest 2e rules on occasion, and even then, I had to make stuff up on occasion due to lack of familiarity with things like Jamming. I think I had the player roll a COG check when it should have been SOM, maybe? That's from skimming the 1e rules.

I had to copy the item descriptions from the playtest material into list for the players to see what their gear actually does, which was a bit of a hassle, especially since if you only had the QSR you’d have no idea what these things do. I think I also had to find some things in 1e and hope they still work, since I could find nothing about it in the 2e playtest stuff released so far.

That aside, the players got the hang of the rules really quickly, and I think the comparison of the rolling system to blackjack helped with that, so thanks to the people who mentioned that. Everyone picked up on using Pool to flip rolls quickly, but since they only skimmed the rules no-one really did much extra with their points other than one or two spending Pool to get a bonus on some difficult rolls.

We had a lot of fun with this and will be trying to finish Acrimony in a few days.

A few things I'm considering, and would be interested to hear thoughts on: Should I add a simple server thing for Njal to the scratch space, so he doesn't need to finangle some way to contact the group in the caves? It does seem like a bit of oversight, but I'm not sure if it's because it is meant to be simple and I'm overcomplicating it, or if it is meant to be a challenge for whoever plays Njal to overcome.

With all the research and hacking going on Njál and Sváfa’s players had lots to do, and Chi's player got some action with the talking/investigation sections too, a fair bit worrying about what the first Chi had done with Jade, and concerned he may have made a mess of things. Amal's player though is a bit more reserved, and didn't find much to do. Sneaking after the Confessor's and the occasional group Perceive check were large parts of their action during the game. Does anyone have any tips on how to present Amal's player with more opportunities? I don't want to force stuff on them if they don't want to be as involved as the others, I just want to give the player options.

Since we’re looking at making some test characters after the game I was trying to find the rules on Forkin/Merging for 2e but they seem to not exist yet. Has anyone doing playtests come up with ideas on how to port 1e’s rules?

Finally, I can’t seem to find anything about modding morphs, or the options to do so. There’s a tiny bit in Acquiring Gear and Morphs about the rolls needed to mod them, but nothing about what options there are. Is this just another case of the playtest material not being out yet? In particular one character was wondering about changing movement modes.

Thanks for the help, and I’ll put up more playtest results once the next game is finished.

Edit: some typos.

Mykaen Mykaen's picture
Thanks for the update!

I like to hear how people do with the official scenarios and what people do with them. I ran this scenario 3 times and played in it once and you gave it some different life than what I have seen in my plays (and I may add that to my future ones).

The QSR is pretty simple and is meant for absolutely new people into the game. Having gear descriptions in there for the pre-gens would be really helpful. As a GM I usually just explained it as I asked and then forgot to mention that it came up when people asked me about scenario. Thanks for mentioning it.

My players had issues grasping pools but with a little nudging got them. I am reworking a sheet to lay on the table for that purpose.

I gave all the players ghostriders, so Njal wasn't stuck on the habitat's system. This also gave Njal's player some autonomy on where they could go considering the mesh in the tunnels is flaky at best. I usually limit how the radio booster works in the tunnels. So with Njal on the habitat system he is probably going to be hamstrung in short order unless you do something.

Proposed solution:

Spoiler: Highlight to view

As a solution you could put in a set of QE comms in the scratch space, or maybe an ecto or maybe even a spare morph.

As for Amal

Spoiler: Highlight to view

There is a fair bit of combat coming up. Looking over Amal's skills they come from mining background and I tend to add a +10 in dealing with other miners.

I think Posthuman is taking a layered approach to the conversion to 2e so they just didn't present that info to us yet in the beta (let's make sure the engine is working before worrying about the color of the vehicle). It might not be a bad idea to start listing what is missing so it makes it into the final cut. A thought for a new thread I suppose.

ubik2 ubik2's picture
Automata wrote:Chi managed to

Automata wrote:
Chi managed to hide that they were the same person she was looking for (she 99’d on a perceive check, should that have been kinesics?).

I'd probably have used kinesics to recognize Chi from body language, but perceive seems fine.

Automata wrote:
(are there any rules for the range of bots and drones I can port over from 1e?). Amal was able to follow behind the Confessors secretly, with a Gnat bot that Njal was jamming (can he do that? I can't find 2e rules about it, or about Forks for that matter, which the player considered briefly)

Njal's radio booster would normally provide plenty of range (25km in an urban setting). I don't think there's any rules in 1e, 2e, or the QSR to account for the kind of interference specific to the tunnels of an iron asteroid. You might ignore it unless you want to introduce more complication (if things are going too easy). I'd probably not bother, since I'd want to move to the point where Amal gets to do combat, and feels more involved.
Jamming is covered in Actions and Combat, page 25. I think we're missing the Integration test rules, though. I'd probably ask for a SOMx3 check, and if you fail, you take -10 on physical actions.
I'm not aware of any 2e fork details, though I suspect the gnat doesn't have enough compute power to run a fork.

Automata wrote:
Finally, I can’t seem to find anything about modding morphs, or the options to do so. There’s a tiny bit in Acquiring Gear and Morphs about the rolls needed to mod them, but nothing about what options there are. Is this just another case of the playtest material not being out yet? In particular one character was wondering about changing movement modes.

So there's simple options, like adding the morph traits based on their CP and the free budget. There was also a spreadsheet floating around with the computations used to price the morphs. I don't think there was any explicit note about movement mode costs in there, but I could be mistaken.

Glad to hear you're having fun.

Automata Automata's picture
On the topic of the metal

On the topic of the metal blocking radio signals I seem to have conflated the spotty mesh access and with the mines at some point, as I can't find the info I thought I'd read in Acrimony. I might say they just grab a more sensitive receiver from the ship and point the booster in the direction of the mines or something. I think that works better than undoing what had already made for some interesting play time and challenges.

I'll try to use Kinesics more, since I think I only called for one roll of that, and I think I'm overusing Perceive in situations other checks may be more appropriate.

Thanks for locating the Jamming rules for me.

Mykaen, thanks for the idea with the bonus on checks with the miners, I might do that. I had considered adding a Spare to the scratch space, but since I seem to have made up the signal interference I might go with the simpler idea.

Edit: And in regards to the other sections of character creation I suppose I'll try to adapt 1e stuff or just make something up as a temporary rule for now. Do you know where that spreadsheet may have been located so I can go looking for it?

Thanks for the suggestions.

ubik2 ubik2's picture
So, I think the original was

So, I think the original was shared from Dropbox, but that link/account has since expired (the Argonauts pdf link shared by Rob Boyle is also gone).
I couldn't find a clean copy of what I originally downloaded, but I do have a copy imported to Google Sheets.

As for pricing mobility, the entry for Slitheroid mentions that the mobility system was ignored for costing. The Reaper has a lot of high value mobility systems, but it doesn't look like those were included in the cost either. Based on that, I'm assuming they just included mobility systems for free.

Edit: In case that link isn't showing up, here's the URL.

It's also possible that the developers don't want this shared anymore. If that's the case, let me know, and I'll pull it.

Edit 2: For some detail on communication in mining, there's some discussion starting on page 34.

There's some ability of the tunnel to act as a waveguide (a bit like how a fiber optic cable channels light). Mining equipment needs power, so when miners work these areas, running power is part of the process. In a future where there's portable nuclear energy available, that might not happen, but it's hard to imagine them not dropping a few mesh nodes along the way. Unless those have been deliberately removed after the tunnels were created, you can expect networking from them.

Perhaps the issue is more one of bandwidth, and the nodes that are used for communication when they build the tunnels just tend to have a bit more latency, making complicated actions (like hacking) more difficult.

Automata Automata's picture
Ooh, that's useful. Thanks

Ooh, that's useful. Thanks for passing that along, it's cool seeing how all the features come together to determine costs.

Mykaen Mykaen's picture
You didn't make up the signal interference.

This might come off a bit more aggressive than I am intending. I fully encourage you to run it your way no matter how I sound. :)

On page 12, in the the Kongyun section, it says:
"The entire asteroid is in microgravity, with limited power and mesh infrastructure. Any tests relying on the local mesh or power grid suffer a –10 modifier in public areas. Utilities and heat are completely absent in abandoned tunnels, may be lacking in private tunnels, and are spotty elsewhere."

ubik2 had a nice find with that Underground Mine Communications doc. I went hunting for something like this after I commented but found it hidden behind an IEEE paywall that I wouldn't cross. It's a 1978 article, and technology has moved on a bit, but it's worth me reading a few times as I do wireless networking. The gist I get on a first pass skim is that they need to use a couple of different technologies to deal with signal loss inherent with the walls of a mine vs fiber optics (they even say so on page 34, last paragraph that leads into 35).

It's likely that Fa Jing had mesh access in most of the tunnels while those mines were active. I suppose Fa Jing could work extra using nanotech to make those walls reflective for the frequencies involved, but it is likely cheaper for them to string mesh points where they actively needed to mine. They also might have moved access points when they moved operations to different sections. As for private tunnels, the miners would do with whatever they had prints for and could get printed at reasonable cost.

There are salvage ops going on, and reclamation work by Fa Jing is sure to be happening too as they are leaving that rock. Mesh points in minor or deactivated tunnels would be prime for being pulled or scavenged.

So I'm back to thinking that mesh access would be spotty. And for me, it ratchets up the tension by a notch when characters are without mesh access. Also it ties up a couple of plot holes.

But roll (or role) with what works for you and your players. If Njal is on the ship or habitat systems so be it, it fixes the need for everyone to have a ghostrider, or him having a portable server. :)

Automata Automata's picture
Acrimony Playtest Part 2

We start right where we left off, with the team on the ship, having just been given some objectives from Eludere.

Mission Objectives:
• Acquire gear from scratch space.
o Consider sneaking weapons off of ship if needed.
• Identify source of apparent Exsurgent infection.
o Remove/quarantine source if possible.
• Secondary:
o Investigate any possible links with Fa Jing’s ‘Lion’ installation.
o Investigate possible link between Triads and apparent Exsurgent infection.
 If no link is determined, attempt to obtain aid from Mariposa Chen.
 If no link is determined, attempt to locate and deliver payment for prior aid.
• New payment may be organised for both missions, if needed.
• Confront Josepf Bves and his Confessors—this situation is extremely volatile and should be handled with care.

After picking up some mining grade radio receivers from their undercover mining ship the team split up, Chi and Sváfa going after the scratch space, while Amal had a good look at the security around the space port and used their experience with security and that little look around to come up with a few options. Ultimately they decided against trying to go around the asteroid, since while Amal playing rocket spider would have been fun the same sensors that detect micrometeors might have detected a flying robot armed with guns.

Instead Amal passed along information regarding the types of sensors and scanners typically used at this sort of spaceport (being familiar with Comet Mining and Security), and Njál went to work hacking the scanners, taking his time to do so. Things got a bit hairy when the system almost detected his intrusion, but it was passed off as a glitch thanks to some impressive digital obfuscation.

Scanners hacked Amal had their smart clothes form a shell-tight suit holding the guns to their undercarriage, with some decorations like robes and flowing fabric to further conceal the weapons. Constable Yu checked the scanners results, saw things were fine, and waved them through since Chi wasn’t there.

While all this hacking was going on the two biomorphs made it to the scratch space, gathered the gear and gun from it, and headed into town to meet up with the others. They decided to take the disassembler hive sans case, as it would be easier to hide. While in transit the group decided to investigate the triad angle first, and used Firewall’s contact details to message Mariposa Chen, who quickly organised a meeting.

In Chen’s office they found a triad boss who very much wanted her payment, but was convinced they were telling the truth about the first Chi going missing, and taking the payment with them. She admitted to strange things going on, and noted her underground psychosurgery business had dealt with a lot of odd trauma, but wasn’t willing to let the gang talk to her pyschosurgeons, or their patients.

From the discussion the group realised she saw Bves as a bit of a rival for controlling the mines, and she was unlikely to move against him without significant cause. Not wanting to push their luck the team decided not to ask for more help, instead agreeing to look for the first payment, and organise a replacement if they couldn’t find the first.

Finally deciding to head to the mines, Njál noticed he was being hacked. Although not able to effectively fight off the hacker, he managed to cut his connection to town and spend a few minutes rebooting and re-securing his connections. Once back online he used his encryption app to warn the others what had happened, and while Chi checked their own devices, they found nothing.

Amal, Chi, and Sváfa were all hacked.

Chi looks around trying to find anyone suspicious, and (crit fail) swears they saw someone looking their way before rounding the corner. Chi wanted to go after them, but the group was already heading to the mines and didn’t entirely believe the person had been suspicious at all (some good rolls got around metagaming, which was good since no-one wanted to go hunting what they all OOC knew was a false lead that only happened after Chi’s player had already been told a hacker could be anywhere on Kongyún).

The group entered the mines and did not get lost at all (the first roll got them on Chi’s trail, even without accounting for the information they’d acquired).

The lady warning them not to go any further stumped them for a bit, and Chi, who is apparently a bit of a psychopath, to go along with the psychosurgery and psychology skills, considered killing her to hide the fact the group was going this way. While she’d likely be restored later the group didn’t want to kill someone who may well be innocent and just giving a regular business warning, and so left her there after she started ignoring them.

Njál had his Gnat bots flying overwatch as they went through the tunnels, and it was lucky he did, since he was the only one to spot the IED the Confessors had planted. As soon as he warned the others Best, who was watching through their systems, set the explosives off. Chi and Sváfa dove to safety, and only got peppered with debris that bounced off of their armour, while Amal took a few dents. The Gnat bot that spotted it was smashed against the wall of the tunnel, immobile, but with the camera still functioning.

While the Confessors moved into position to open fire the group called out and through dumb luck convinced them to hold their fire, partly by yelling out “shamsu heiroah yanaksha” and partly by offering help. A conversation took place under gunpoint. The investigators revealed they’d already passed on what little they knew and there was no point immediately killing them, especially as they were here to help. They said others were coming already. At some point he admitted to having killed the first Chi to arrive on Kongyún, and claims he had been infected.

Uncertain as to how, or even if, the situation could still be contained, Bves asked who the group were. A quick tacnet conversation leads the players to decide things are bad enough that memories may be wiped at this point anyway, so they decide to go all in.


“Firewall? You expect me to believe you’re Firewall?”

Turns out they can be really persuasive, or at least the dice say they can be.

Wanting to at least try to see if they were honest before resulting to truly desperate measures like tossing all the mining explosives they could get at the artifact, Bves explained the history of the artifact, and how he’d had experience fighting the TITANs and their mad creations during the Fall. The group describing how Basilisk hacks worked (in as much as they knew) and several ways to attempt to contain them while still gaining information on them (air gapped cameras, low quality images etc) convinced him giving them a chance was worth a shot. He also went over how he is able to remove the infection if he catches it early enough using psychosurgery.

Njál contacted Eludere again and explained what Bves had told them, and she let them make the call on how to deal with the artifact, advising them to contain if possible, and attempt to destroy it if not, or if it seems to be taking steps to escape.

On their way to the artifact chamber Njál asked if the hacking attempt he’d fought off had been one of the Confessors. A Kinesics check caught that he was a bit awkward about answering that, and when pressed he admitted Best had hacked all of them, and only Njál had noticed.

At the final airlock the group heavily encrypted the Creepybot, and had it swing the damaged Gnat bot into the chamber on a piece of string. It then took a low-quality video from it, and the group viewed it on an ecto. The character who looked at the video did not react to the infection call phrase, and proceeded to describe it to the others.

Healthy paranoia right there.

The crystal in the middle was barely more than a blob in the recording, and the fog soon formed a wall to block off view of even that. The Gnat had also picked up that the first Chi had left a taggant in there, but per strict programming didn’t try to read it. The group repeated the earlier process and then had the Creepybot write the message on the ground.

“Collect a sample, report back to Eludere to decide what to do with it.”

Having being told Chi was infected earlier, the group decide this message had to have been post-infection, and was intended as a trap to get them to spread the infection.

The group head back to New City to get some rest, and pick up some Nanodetectors to try to ensure no-one else gets infected by the fog, not being entirely sure on it’s role in infecting people.

As one player had to leave we wrapped up there, the players having avoided any fights, and the artifact ostensibly contained until more Firewall agents could arrive. Bves would likely be recruited, alongside some of the core Confessors. The rest would likely be treated as associates or allies of Firewall. Fa Jing never learned about the artifact, and Mariposa was finally given her payment. Jade never saw Chi again, and after pining for a while began to move on – one of those four that came through recently had caught her eye.

Thus ends our groups first experience with Eclipse Phase. Everyone liked it, and we’re already putting together test characters for a few more forays before EP2 comes out (hopefully that’ll be soon).

Despite not getting to any fights Amal’s player seemed to have much more fun this time, probably helped along by being given the opportunity to examine and then smuggle weapons through the security. We didn’t really have any hangups this session, everyone had some ideas on what they could do, and how to do those things. I suppose that means it was quite the effective quick start guide, though I do think it needs those few little extra bits I mentioned earlier, particularly the items descriptions.

We still didn’t do much with the pools other than get some bonuses and flip some dice, but hopefully that’ll come with time.

A little note on the other playtest stuff and character creation:

I think we’re all looking forward to the full game being out, but the current system of skill packages seemed to go down well with everyone. It lets you put together a solid base, and get an idea for how skills should be spread out, and then has room for customisation and editing to make each character unique.

nezumi.hebereke nezumi.hebereke's picture
Wow, hats off to your group,

Wow, hats off to your group, and to your excellent storytelling. I've run this a bunch of times, and I've never seen it handled so gracefully. I'm glad it was a hit!

Mykaen Mykaen's picture
I meant to comment earlier

I meant to comment earlier but it slipped my mind.

It looks like everyone was cautious and did the job right. Congratulations to them! It looks like you all had fun. :)

Automata Automata's picture
Thanks, glad you liked it. We

Thanks, glad you liked it. We had lots of fun with it, and I've got one player coming around soon to go over character ideas, and the others in a few days. I'm considering doing some Simulspace 'tests/training' to mess around with the system as more of 2e is released. Maybe some Jurassic Park style stuff inspired by the image in the 1e book, or maybe throw them against the fight from Acrimony since they missed it. We'll just have to see how things go.

I do like the way they're taking the group so far. Current ideas seem to be aiming for a spy/scout group, which could be quite interesting. Any advice on running such a group, or links to somewhere I can learn more would be greatly appreciated.

Happy New Year!

Colony Drop Colony Drop's picture
Reading through the playtest

Reading through the playtest this morning, and I noticed that neither Chi nor Njal have weapons listed. Now I can understand Njal not having weapons (he's an infomorph), but shouldn't Chi have one? It seems odd, or maybe I'm missing something.

My headspace is not your headspace, so All hope abandon, ye who press ENTER here.

Colony Drop Colony Drop's picture
Okay, I was missing something

Okay, I was missing something. I think they're assuming that Chi will take the pistol from the Firewall cache, but shouldn't she have an unarmed attack listed?

My headspace is not your headspace, so All hope abandon, ye who press ENTER here.