Sunday, 27 May 2012

Interface Zero: Vegas

Since Rohin fell in love with the Interface Zero setting for Savage Worlds even more than I did, he decided to run a game based in the Free City of Las Vegas, located in the Northeast of Baja Mexico. The city was controlled in equal parts by corporate and organised crime interests. The party would all be working as security and troubleshooters at a strip mall owned by corporate magnate Bob Ho.

We played several sessions in 2012, but didn't manage to resolve the main storyline.

+Andrew played Gerald Rigg, an android security guard.
John played Mr. X, a blind mouse-hybrid hacker.
+Melysa played Kuma, a genetically modified security dog with near-human intelligence.
I played Devlin Monterey, a dog-hybrid rentacop of French-Canadian extraction.

The game started with a couple of us pulling security duty in the mall. A few kids started a food fight, so I intimidated them (and drew my stun-stick) and they ran away. During the ruckus, a virtual graffiti artist dropped a hyper-reality tag on the wall. I think he got chased off by Mr. X.

We were soon called into our boss' office, and given a mission. The daughter of a friend of the company had gone missing, and we were asked to find her. The situation was big and complex. The reference photos for the daughter had been doctored, but we managed to hack her school and find security footage of her. She'd disappeared from an alley in a Triad part of town during some turmoil with rival Hispanic gangs, but we learned she had friends in the Mafia and had probably gone with them. We tracked down the car she'd been taken away in, but it was booby-trapped and exploded. It began to seem as though she might have run away rather than being kidnapped.

We were sent video footage from the kidnapper showing her being sexually assaulted. The man in the video had a class ring. Her father was a member of the same class; we tracked down three other members who were currently in Baja Mexico - a scientist working for a bio-research facility, someone with connections to the European mafia, and an ex-General now working as a fight promoter and manager for a cyber-gladiator.

We ended up at a bit of an impasse, trying to untangle the various webs of stories and connections, and trying to figure out the best way to gain leverage and information hile exposing ourselves to minimal harm. Luckily, we had some other things to keep us occupied...

We received a tip-off that some gangers were going to raid one of our stock warehouses. We waited nearby in our AV, swooping in once they entered corporate property and our jurisdiction. We engaged them with deadly force, killing most of them and destroying their van as they fled using our vehicle-mounted cannon.

We'd been hearing rumours of a Bio-Horror prowling around the city ever since the start of the game, but we finally got a call that it was rampaging through one of our company malls.  We arrived to find it - a mutated giant tiger-like creature - prowling around an upper-storey food court, eating things and people. Some of us engaged it head-on to draw its attention, while the others guided the civilians to safety. It was a tough fight, but we eventually managed to subdue it.

As we transported it to the roof for extraction, a second Bio-Horror, like the first one but twice the size, climbed up onto the roof and, using  voice synthesiser, demanded the return of his "brother." It charged, and I faced it down as the others hurried for the AV. Miraculously, I put one shot into its head and it went down. My elation was short-lived, as it began to regenerate and showed signs of moving. We cleared out as fast as we could.

That was as much as we got through in 2012. My first impressions of playing Savage Worlds are that the dice did tend to feel "swingy" quite a lot of the time. In particular, I had a hard time trying to get decent damage rolls, and it was frustrating to not have the option of spending a Benny to reroll. I spent four or five rounds shooting the little Bio-Horror to no effect, only to completely drop the larger Bio-Horror with a single shot from the same gun. From what I've read about the system since, we probably could have used a few combat manoeuvres other than just repeatedly making attack rolls.

Deciding what to increase with an advance does tend to take a little while, unless you have it planned out. To start with, I guess there were a few Edges on my wish-list that I hadn't managed to pick up at character creation. I found that Skills only start to feel really competent at d10 or higher; starting with d8's, I flubbed more rolls than I would have liked.

Overall it's a serviceable game. I think we spent a lot of time trying to plan our approaches and minimise exposure to danger rather than just diving in, which given the way NPCs tend to fold like card-houses, was probably largely unnecessary. I think we were still in a Cyberpunk 2020 mindset to some degree, where a single bullet can lay you low. While that's still true in Interface Zero, characters are by and large somewhat more resilient.

The VR/HR elements of Interface Zero were also a bit hand-wavey at times; the setting book gives a glimpse at an awesome vision of hyper-reality, but doesn't have solid enough grounding principles to allow for us to extrapolate logical outcomes without relying on GM fiat. Also, the rules for hacking and controlling other people were a bit vague.

I'm actually writing this blog post in April 2013, and I've recently put in for the Interface Zero 2.0 Kickstarter at the PDF level, so it will be interesting to see if the new version addresses any of my concerns with the setting-specific rules.