Pod capsules were designed for only one person. The entire pod motel concept was to provide an economic place for a person to get a few hours of sleep – fitting two into the pod made for very tight quarters, especially if one of them snored. April partied hard and crashed hard and when she entered NREM, the deepest levels of sleep, she snored. Though she often slept through April’s snoring, almost as often the snoring woke Guihan. She looked at the time display on her phone and decided to go ahead and get up. She rummaged through her bag for her toiletries, a top and leggings, then she left the pod. In the foyer of the Gekota Capsule Motel, she put on her boots before heading to the public bath down the street.
A thoroughly relaxed Guihan felt she could nod off while soaking in the warm tub, when a familiar voice asked “Why are we up so early?” Looking up, she saw April sitting on a small stool next to the tub. April stretched while yawning.
“I thought we should get an early start and make the delivery during rush hour” replied Guihan.
“Rush hour? Why? I thought you hated rush hour – the packed crowds and perverts groping your butt on the train” April asked.
“Yeah, but think of it,” said Guihan, “when it’s crowded, there’s less hassle from the cops and less of a chance of being robbed.”
April said “You mean armed robbery. Rush hour is feasting time for the pick pockets. Grant it, I think you may be right about the cops though.”
“You’re right about pick pockets, but pick pockets seldom go for a case chained to someone’s wrist.” Guihan replied.
“You know, you look kind of cute when your hair is wet and plastered to your head” said April.
Guihan laughed. “It won’t take long to dry and raise it to its full height. There’s time for you to take a bath, if you want.”
“No thanks,” said April “I’d rather have breakfast instead. Besides, I can’t wait to get on the train and have my ass grabbed by strangers – that’s sarcasm in case you didn’t notice.”
They had finished their pastries and were sipping the last of their coffee when they arrived to the jewelry shop the Smirker used as a front. He handed the package to Guihan who placed it in her case. She locked the case and handcuffed it to her wrist. They had no idea what was in the package and that was probably a good thing. In the transporting business it was dangerous to know too much. They said goodbye to the Smirker, he grunted but didn’t change his expression. Guihan and April left the shop headed toward the transit station.
Setting the Encounter Parameters
Encounters or game scenarios in 5150: New Beginnings are written in an uniform way. This is old hat to those who are familiar with games from Two Hour Wargames, but I’ll mention the format briefly before getting into the specifics for this encounter.
All encounters are organized in the same easy to follow sections. They start with an Objective section which defines the objective of the game scenario; a Forces section which defines the known characters used in the scenario; the Deployment section which defines if a specific layout or battle board is needed; the Special Instructions section which defines scenario specific parameters used with the game’s general rules; then a How Many of Them? and Have You Met Them Before? sections used when resolving possible enemy forces; and concludes with a summary section usually containing Increasing Rep D6 and Decreasing Rep D6 information.
So before I get to the Special Instructions, I know the objective is to deliver a package. I have chosen my group to consist of Guihan, my Star, and April, a Grunt Co-Star. And, there’s no battle board needed unless combat occurs.
The meat and potatoes of any encounter is the Special Instructions section which lays out the parameters to be used by the game mechanics in playing the encounter. These are laid out in bullet format and it is important not to skip any of them. Some of them may be optional under some circumstances, but don’t make an assumption and skip them without determining if they apply.
One of the first things in any encounter is to determine the time of day in which the encounter occurs. Few places in the world have the same amount of activity throughout the day. Traffic where I live is a prime example – during some parts of the day it takes me about 14-15 minutes to travel 10 miles (if I obey the traffic laws), but during rush hour, it will take me 60-90 minutes to travel those same 10 miles. A roll of a single D6 and my encounter takes place during the daytime hours.
Next step is to determine the starting point and ending point of my delivery encounter. To do this, I roll 2D6 on the New Hope City Transit Map, since the girls are traveling by rail and not going off planet. My dice score was a 7, my starting point is the Pubs and Recreation Area – the name isn’t important, it could be a different station name in your story such as Farragut Square (a familiar name from somewhere). The second roll of the dice results in a 10, City Hall, but the Embarcadaro is the destination in my story. The important thing to gather from the map is the daytime law level for the starting point is a 3, there is one stop where the law level is a 3 and then the final destination stop where the law level is a 4. That’s 3 points where a Travel Encounter could occur.
Once the girls arrive at the Embarcadaro, I roll 2d6 on the City Hall area table (because I’m too lazy to build a table for San Fran’s Embarcadaro) and determine their destination is an office building.
I roll 1/2D6 and discover the girls must resolve 2 PEFs before reaching the building. This is in addition to the 5 PEFs inside of the building according to the City Hall table.
When I start to resolve the PEFs outside of the building, I roll 1/2D6 and if the die score is less or equal to the number of the PEF being resolved, there will be a Confrontation. There will only be one Confrontation if a Confrontation occurs – all other PEFs are resolved as normal NPCs.
The Starting Point – Farragut Square
Ok, I really shouldn’t use Farragut Square as the starting point of the game. The square is a hub in Washington D.C. where several light rail lines converge. Every time I’ve been to D.C., I’ve passed through Farragut Square. It’s named after the famous Civil War admiral who ordered “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” Yeah, that’s where that quote comes from. Let’s call it “Fairaday Square” in my story and a transit hub would be an idea location for a dealer like the Smirker to set up shop.
I rolled a six on 1D6, passing 0D6, so there is no travel encounter here.
Next Stop – Middleton Heights
The district manager of Middleton Heights has launched a re-branding campaign to change the district’s name to “Mid-City”, but it is still denoted by its official name at the transit station.
A travel encounter does occur and it’s a Pickpocket. However, the pickpocket is caught in his attempt by Guihan. Not wanting to get the law involved, Guihan lets him go. April gives him a swift kick in the rear as he flees.
Final Stop – The Embarcadaro
Their final stop and I roll another travel encounter. The possible things that can happen on a travel encounter are robbery, armed robbery, getting arrested, having your pocket picked or having a Confrontation. You determine which by rolling 1D6 and subtracting the area’s law level for that time of day.
It’s another pickpocket and the thief succeeds in lifting Guihan’s phone. Guihan has three choices, she can pursue the thief, report the crime to the law (like that’s going to happen), or finish her job and find the thief later. If Guihan were a bit older and more professional, she would finish the job and worry about the phone later. But, a punk kid, & a girl at that, whose most important possession is her phone – of course, Guihan and April sprint after the thief.
So a Travel Encounter within the Delivery Encounter spawned a Robbery (Pickpocket) Encounter which in turn now has me playing a Pursuit Encounter. There may only be 18 basic Encounters in 5150: New Beginnings, but they never play the same.
This version of the Pursuit Encounter is much more streamlined than the Pursuit Encounters from other THW rule books. Maybe it is too streamlined in that parts of it are not intuitive if there are no vehicles involved. In fact, the Special Instructions section and the Pursuit Table is all about vehicles. What if everyone is on foot?
On the Pursuit Table, Guihan passes more D6 than the thief. She can choose to Shoot the thief, Bash the thief (which doesn’t make sense since neither one is in a vehicle), or she can Board the thief and enter melee. Again, the “boarding the thief” doesn’t make sense as both are on foot. I’m choosing Guihan has caught the thief and they enter melee.
From what I can gather, Guihan has caught the thief and they both enter melee. But what about April? I think what I’ll do is that after the first round of melee, I’ll roll on the Pursuit Table & if she passes any of her D6, she will join the melee.
But just as I’m thinking about April, my mind jumps back to the Pickpocket section of the Robbery Encounter. If the Pickpocket had failed, Guihan could have chosen to confront the thief. Remember, in the previous Travel Encounter, Guihan chose to let the thief go. When you choose to confront the thief, there is a chance (1 on a D6) the thief will have 1/2D6 backup accomplices. So, If I choose to pursuit the thief, do I check to see if his backup runs with him?
It’s a wet cold rainy day here where I live. I think I’ll take a nice warm bath while I think about this.
Ok, here’s what I’m going to do. I will roll a D6 and on a result of 1, the thief will have 1/2D6 accomplices. Each accomplice will take a Challenge test to see if he or she will melt into the crowd if successful or bolt and run if failing the Challenge. I can’t stress enough that when something ambiguous comes up in a game, use a Challenge to resolve it.
I roll the D6 and the thief is alone, she is none other than “Sticky Fingers” Jane. In earlier posts, I gave the game stats for Jane, Guihan and April – here’s a recap:
- Rep 5 Star
- Smooth & Resilient Attributes
- Big A$$ Pistol
- No Armor
- No Enhancements
- Rep 4 Co-Star
- Free Spirit & Crack Shot Attributes
- 2 A3 Auto Pistols
- No Armor
- No Enhancements
Sticky Fingers Jane
- Rep 4 NPC Grunt
- Initiative Attribute
- No Weapon
- No Armor
- Physical Enhancements
In the Pursuit Encounter, the Action Table is not used – instead, we go straight into Melee. I set up the Battle Board with Guihan and Jane in contact, and April on the edge to show she is just arriving. Now, if Jane was older and more experienced, she would just drop the phone and escape – but, like Guihan and April, she’s young and thinks she’s indestructible.
Sticky Fingers Jane gets a +1D6 bonus on the Melee table for having Physical Enhancements. In the first round of Melee, Jane passes 1 more D6 than Guihan – Guihan suffers a -1 to her Rep & will fight the next round of Melee at Rep 4.
I roll on the Pursuit Table to see if April arrives – April does arrive. Does she join the Melee? Here is where I want to do something different. Being trigger happy, I think April will pull a pistol and order Jane to surrender. To do this, we go back to the Challenge since there isn’t a provision for this action in the Pursuit Table or the Melee Table (in the Pursuit Table, April would just shoot if she wasn’t going to join the Melee).
- First, we need to determine what the Challenge is about: April want to order Jane to surrender, which is an Interaction.
- We need to determine what is the Success outcome of the Challenge: April has an Interaction with Jane.
- We need to determine what is the Failure outcome of the Challenge: April plunges into Melee with Jane.
- We need to determine the Difficulty of the Challenge: I think it should be an “Easy” Challenge, because April really doesn’t want to shoot or fight and Jane being a pickpocket, would also prefer not to fight.
“Give back the phone, or eat lead!” growled April.
April passes the Challenge and we go to the Interaction Table. Since she has the Free Spirit Attribute and she and Guihan outnumber Jane, she gets two additional D6 to roll on the Interaction Table. Gun Barrel diplomacy prevails! Jane gives back the phone; April just earned an Increasing Rep D6. Guihan has a bloody nose, but is otherwise okay. With no apologies or pleasantries, Jane walks away.
Guihan takes the “Was the Package Damaged?” Challenge from my Delivery Encounter and the package is safe and undamaged.
Unfortunately, I have to break this AAR (After Action Report) into two parts due to its length. I hope this gives you an idea as to how the game flows and some of the possibilities that can occur during an encounter. The girls are in the Embarcadaro and headed toward Mr. Morimoto’s office, but there are two PEFs to be resolved before they reach the office building.
I know it’s a lot of words, but I’m writing this for those who have never played a 5150 game before as well as for those of you who are interested in the new rules. Let me know how I’m doing in the comments.