What I like about playing immersion games (sometimes called RPG-lite games) is using the action from the game play to craft a story. I’m playing NEW HOPE CITY, PI from Two Hour Wargames. New Hope City, PI is a supplement of 5150: NEW BEGINNINGS – URBAN RENEWAL and you will need a copy of Urban Renewal to play the game.
Your character is a Private Investigator. You can use one of your existing Urban Renewal star characters or create a new one using the Step by Step Star process (starting on page 4 of Urban Renewal. I’m using Pearl Lemay from my Pearl’s Plight campaign. She’s a perfect character for this game, in Pearl’s Plight, she wanted to become a bodyguard. Here, she is expanding her security business to include investigation work. You can also use any of your character’s grunts. In this case, Pearl is working alone as Nina is off saving the galaxy as a member of a COG team.
Here’s Pearl’s stats: She is a Basic (basic humanoid) female Rep 5 star. Her skill levels are a 5 for Savvy, a 4 for People & a 4 for Fitness. She originally started with a People skill of 3, but by the end of Pearl’s Plight, she had been able to raise it to a 4. Her two attributes are she is Ambidextrous and she’s Hard as Nails.
Once you have your character, you are ready to set up the crime and begin filling out your Case Notebook. There are five categories of crimes. You can roll for the crime or you can simply choose which category of crime you want to investigate. In my case, the reason I chose to play New Hope City, PI is because a crime had popped into my head. The crime I’m going to solve is a kidnapping.
The next step is to determine the victim. You roll on The Victim table to find out what circle the victim comes from and then you go to the appropriate Circle Table and find out the victim’s profession. My victim comes from the Exotics Circle, an athlete – a boxer, Betty Caruso.
Now it’s time to get a few specifics about the crime to be able to start the investigation. Rolling on the tables, I discover the crime occurred during the early part of the day at an apartment complex in Lower Gaea.
The Difficulty Factor for this case is a 3, which means I have to find 6 clues to solve the case. Pearl’s employer to solve the case is Betty’s manager Ed Svenson. It’s a pressing case – I’ve got two days to solve it.
Everything is set. I’m ready to start looking for my first clue.
The investigation starts with rolling on the Advance the Investigation Table. With my first roll, I’m to get information from a person of interest. I then roll on the victim’s circle table to find out who the person of interest is. In this case, the person of interest is an investigative reporter, a female with Rep 5, Fit 5, Pep 3, Sav 4 and armed with a pistol. It’s early in the day, she’s at City Hall. She needs a name – I started to choose the well known New Hope City reporter Ashlynn Cooper, but she and Pearl have a history. No, this reporter has to be someone new – Maureen Kipp.
Pearl needs to travel from Svenson’s gym to City Hall using the transit system. Right off the bat, I roll a travel encounter on the train. The PEFs resolved as follows: a salesman, an assembly line worker, a Hishen busboy, a transit cop and a thief. It’s obvious my encounter will be with the thief. The thief is a female, Rep 3, Fit 3, Pep 2, Sav 1 and is unarmed. The encounter is a robbery. So, an unarmed low Rep thief is going to attempt to rob Pearl in broad daylight while a transit cop is present – that pretty much means the thief is a pickpocket. And I have the perfect character already painted up, Roxxy the Ogress, a G.A.X. Rolling on the pickpocket table uses the characters’ Savvy skill.
Pearl’s Savvy is 4 times the Savvy of Roxxy, but they end up with the same number of successes. Roxxy decides not to pick Pearl’s pocket. You roll for a travel encounter at each stop on the transit map. Luck is with me in that there are no further encounters. (But wait, the Floozy is playing a game that centers around encounters, doesn’t she want more encounters? Well, I do, but I want ones that count toward solving the crime. Besides, if Pearl has to beat the snot out of every punk in New Hope City, she’ll be too beat down and tired herself when she’ll really need to be at the top of her game.)
Once Pearl is in the target area, I roll on the City Hall Buildings table to determine the target building where Pearl will find Maureen Kipp. The result is an office building. To add a little interest to the story, I’ve decided to make the office building the New Hope District Court House. Maureen is there to cover a high profile trial.
Entering the building triggers a Defining Moment. Pearl encounters 2 NPCs. Yikes, Pearl has bumped into Ashlynn Cooper who has a guy with her that has to be Billy Pink. Rolling on the Opposed Challenge table for the People Skill Challenge – Ashlynn exchanges a pleasantry with Pearl and goes on her way with Billy. No slap across the face, no name calling, no catty remarks, Pearl is shocked.
With the Defining Moment out of the way, Pearl can now question Maureen. First you roll to see if the person of interest is alone. Maureen is not alone. Rolling to find out who is with Maureen, I discover it is an Ordinary Joe. Instead of rolling to see if the Joe is a cook, farmer, or factory worker, I decide that the Joe is a Maureen’s cameraman. By not being alone, the number of dice I roll on the questioning table is reduced by one, which may make it harder to get any useful information. Luck is with Pearl, she has 2 more successes than the person of interest – Maureen has answered the questions and counts as one clue solved.
Now I go back to the Advance the Investigation table and this time the result is Find an Object. Since this is the first time I’ve gotten the find an object result, the object is going to be at the scene of the crime – in this case it’s Betty Caruso’s apartment, which means Pearl needs to use the transit system to go all the way back to Lower Gaea.
Pearl got as far as Lower Polariston before having another travel encounter. Pearl is beginning to wish she’d driven her car into the city. Her fellow passengers are all ordinary joes, a waiter, a Xeog sous chef, a delivery driver and a housewife. Rolling on the Travel Encounter table, the result is a Chillin’ encounter. The objective of the Chillin’ encounter is to have a successful People Skill challenge. Pearl strikes up a conversation with the waiter and the sous chef. Rolling on the Opposed Challenge table, Pearl scores more successes than the waiter and chef for a “Pleasant Response.” When you reach your destination, there is a chance of being robbed at the train station. Both times Pearl has left the stations without being robbed.
After arriving at the apartment complex, Pearl tries to get the manager to let her into the apartment. As with the Chillin’ encounter, this calls for a People Skill challenge. So far, the best thing about Pearl’s previous campaign is the increase in her People Skill. She ekes out a win and the manager agrees to let her into Betty’s Apartment. With the manager hovering over her, Pearl carefully searches the apartment – by rolling on the Find an Object table, Pearl finds a clue. Two clues found, four more to go.
Returning to the Advance the Investigation table, I score the Get Information from a Person Interest result. This time, Pearl is off to question a store owner. The store is located in Pub and Recreation area of the city. When building my story, I need to keep in mind that the transit areas reflect the majority of the homes and businesses found in that area. Just as there are bars and diners in the Financial District, there are businesses in the Pub and Recreation area not related to entertainment. In this case, Rolling on the Pub and Rec Buildings table, the store owner will meet Pearl in a restaurant. Of course this means another trip on the transit system.
The Pub and Recreation station is just one stop away from Lower Gaea. Pearl makes the trip without incident. Rolling on the LWC Generator table (Law-abiding Working Class), the store owner is Female, Rep 4, Fit 3, Pep 4′, Sav 2 and is unarmed. When Pearl meets the store owner, the day part has changed to evening. The store owner is not alone, she has one person with her. When questioning a person of interest, if they are not alone it does one of two things. First, it reduces the number of dice you roll increasing the chance of the person being uncooperative. Second, if “complications” arise, the person and the people with her could become very aggressive toward the PI.
Entering the restaurant triggers a defining moment. Passing one d6 doesn’t result in any NPCs to deal with, but “something is going”, which means for the rest of the game, defining moments will be resolved with 3 d6. Pearl’s Pep is 4 and the store owner’s Pep is 4, but since the owner is not alone, Pearl would roll only 3 dice while the owner rolls 4. To make things more favorable, Pearl decides to buy party favors for the owner and her guest. The party favors pay off as the person of interest answers the questions – another clue won. Pearl now has three of the six clues needed to solve the case.
After after dinner, Pearl decides to call it a day. She uses the transit system to travel to Lower Hope where Mrs. Chang has been taking care of Pearl’s daughter, Jun. As the train pulls out of the Lower Gaea station, Pearl has an encounter. There are seven people in the car with Pearl, a ganger, a Joe spouse, a transit cop, a street walker, a mechanic, a waiter, and a reporter. The encounter is to be a robbery, only this time it ain’t no pickpocket.
After generating the NPCs, it’s time for in sight tests. Pearl and the ganger each have 2 successes, and the transit cop and reporter each have 1 success. Pearl and the ganger act simultaneously with the ganger having a slight edge since his weapon is already drawn. The ganger fires his machine pistol in a swath. The first bullet misses Pearl, the second hits the Joe spouse and the third hits the transit cop. Pearl snap fires and hits the ganger. Rolling on the damage table, the spouse, transit cop and ganger are all knocked down. The spouse and transit cop both score “knocked down to the ground – carry on” result from the Knocked Down test. The ganger, however, scores “out of the fight”.
After the encounter, Pearl arrives at the Lower Hope station and makes her way to “Madam Chang’s Palace of Delights Brothel” where Mrs. Chang has been keeping Jun. The day part is late, so Pearl decides she and Jun will spend the night at the brothel in Mrs. Chang’s apartment. The first day is over and Pearl has half of the clues needed to solve the case.
This is a good stopping point. Unlike actual short stories, I need to keep posts around 2,000 words. So, I’ll finish playing the game in the next post and then I’ll write the story. Most of the time I just present the story, but this time I thought I’d show how the game mechanics help me develop the characters and plot points.