On May 15th, I ran the 12th session of Interface Zero with my online group.
The team previously discovered their boss, Rich Truehart, had been kidnapped by a clone of one of their associates and friends, James Hoffmann. Upon discovering this the group hightailed it to Chicago and forcibly captured and interrogated said clone. They determined Rich was being held in a secure detention module of Nortec Tower, the corporate HQ of Nortec, the parent company of Hoffmann’s former (and his clone’s current) employer, Ravenlocke. That was last time.
This time, the team had little time but needed to break into the secure facility to get Rich out. This would have been essentially impossible other than having an inside man, since Hoffmann and his clone had the same biometric data. The security module was actually located inside one of the skyscraper’s internal support columns, with tension cables for the harmonic balancers of the building running through it. After determining that security was too tight for any other approach, the team decided to break into a maintenance level off the parking garage, enter the support column through a maintenance access panel, and climb the 30-plus stories to the module by essentially shimmying up the cable. Two of the team members were able to make the climb. Hayate, the team’s muscle, had climbing experience and gear. Glimmer, the team’s intrusion specialist, had cybernetic gecko hands which allowed for easy progress up the inside of the column. The two remaining members of the team, Dummy (the driver) and Sister Maria (the face/nun) kept a lookout.
Hayate used thermite to bore a hole in the bottom of the module, and then he and Glimmer clambered into the maintenance crawlspace in the bottom. Meanwhile, Hoffmann had entered the module and brought Truehart from his cell to the interrogation room, which was on the first floor of the module and closer to the extraction team. Hoffmann went to chat with the guard posted outside the interrogation room, which gave Truehart a chance to dash for the access panel to the crawlspace. Hoffmann then took care of the guard quietly, and walked out as if nothing had happened.
The team worked quickly to get Truehart down to the maintenance level and into their getaway vehicle, a minivan Dummy had “borrowed” from a friend at a junkyard. The dash out of the city was relatively uneventful; the group chose an exit point that was usually crowded out by people trying to get into the city, making the exit easier. However, their extraction was noticed, and a VTOL was soon on their tail, with flashing lights and a loudspeaker instructing them to pull over. Dummy put the car on autonomous control and prepared for a quick exit. Once the group got to an underpass the VTOL couldn’t follow them under, everyone bailed. The van couldn’t slow down much if they were to escape detection, so Sister Maria ended up with a broken leg and Glimmer with a cracked rib. Everyone else was shaken, but mostly unhurt.
Dummy found the nearest vehicle, a harvester running overnight in a nearby field. He hacked into the harvester’s autonomous controls, and slowed it down enough for the team to clamber or be pulled into the grain bin. Once near the farm, the group disgorged from the harvester and smuggled themselves back to Boston in a horse trailer.
One thing that was different about this session was that I put more planning into it. While there was still improv going on, the planning made things go a lot more smoothly, and got everyone a little more involved, compared to some sessions where one or two characters grab the spotlight. I intend to do more planning for the subsequent sessions in this game as well.
Another thing which was made fairly clear to me is that even when things go well, I’m running out of steam for this particular group and this particular conflict. I’m not entirely sure what it is, but a good part of it is having very uneven character development. Between having some join late, some have uneven attendance, and some really have spotlight-stealing characters, it’s hard to make the party feel cohesive. I’m OK with only running this game for 3-4 more sessions, but I still want to make them fun and give my players a good sense of closure.