5150: Science Fiction

Mr. Morimoto’s Package – Part Two

Guihan & April meet Officers Qwan & O’Malley

There was only a cold silence as Sticky Fingers Jane walked away from Guihan and April. Once she was out of sight, April remarked “She looked pissed.”

Guihan chuckled, “I think I’d be upset if I had to give up something I’d just scored. Of course, she probably didn’t expect we’d chase her down.”

“Yeah,” said April and then she asked “Are you okay? She smacked you pretty good with that cyborg arm.”

“I’m fine” replied Guihan, “Nothing seems broken and the blood’s stopped.”

“Well, you’re lucky, I bet with that arm she could break skulls like eggshells” said April.

Guihan looked at the time on her phone and said “Enough about her, if we hustle, we can still deliver this package before lunch.”

The Story So Far…

Several months ago, six, seven, eight months or so, I received a draft of the new edition of 5150: New Beginnings to play test. I confess I didn’t do any play testing – my inner editor got the best of me and I concentrated on grammar and continuity instead. At the beginning of this month, Ed sent me the final edit to play, review, write about, whatever (he actually said “whatever”).

In another thread of my life, I finally gave in and bought the Games Workshop House Escher miniatures box set. The Cyberpunk genre runs deep in my soul and I purchased some resin Cyberpunk figures from various dealers on Etsy. I want to expand my Star Punk Dreams series to include other stories and other characters. Not only can these figures be used in Cyberpunk 2020, but they can be used as a motely band of mercenaries in 5150: Citizen Soldier and the more civilian sculpts in 5150: New Beginnings.

So enter Guihan and April, a couple of young “punk” girls trying to find a way to make a living. The dealer, Jimmy “the Smirker” John has hired them to deliver a package. They have to use the transit system in delivering the package. At the first two stops, nothing noteworthy happens, but at the final stop, Sticky Fingers Jane lifts Guihan’s phone and after a pursuit, Jane reluctantly returns the phone.

There are two more PEFs to resolve on their way to the office building where Mr. Morimoto is located. Once inside of the building there are 5 PEFs to resolve. Looks like the girls are going to meet a lot of new people today.

Guihan & April meet a couple of friends

5150 History and Evolution

5150: New Beginnings did not begin as a full RPG (role playing game). I can only think of two science fiction role playing games before 5150 and they were Judge Dredd and Traveler. 5150: Book One was a hybrid game like GWs Rogue Trader, it was a table top game with RPG immersive components. Rogue Trader evolved into a full Table Top wargame, Warhammer 40K. But the immersive role playing element would reappear in games like Necromunda.

The 5150 series of games also produced table top wargames like Star Army, Citizen Soldier, Star Navy, etc. The “civilian” games continued to be hybrid games incorporating both table top wargame and role playing elements until the 5150: No Limits series. Now, this new edition of 5150: New Beginnings is designed as a complete Role Playing Game along the lines of Starfinder and Traveler.

“Which is better?” some demand, knowing that if you don’t choose their favorite method, you’re a heretic. Well, it’s all good, think of it as an Almond Joy/Mounds commercial – “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.”

In a nutshell, the biggest difference between this version of 5150: New Beginnings and it’s earlier versions is that this new one is a full RPG. Doesn’t mean it’s the perfect game, but it has the tools you can couple with your imagination to make your game perfect.

Resolving the First PEF

In Resolving PEFs, I’ve run into a grammatical construction that makes my little brain spin. The editor with the red pen inside of me doesn’t like it. If you’ve never played a THW game before, it’s the kind of thing that will drive you crazy until you figure it out – if you have played a THW game before you’ll probably not even notice it.

The Encounter sends me to page 59 on Resolving PEFs and there I’m told I need answer three questions:

  • How Many of Them?
  • Who Are They?
  • Are They Friends of Foes?

For convenience, the “How Many of Them?” process is in the Encounter itself, so I don’t have to flip pages. I follow the process and Guihan and April have met two NPCs.

Logically, notice a Floozy is using logic, the next thing to do is to determine who these NPCs are. Logical, right? I mean it’s the next bullet point in the Resolving PEFs section. BUT… that’s not what happens.

Guihan & April meet an Investigative Reporter & Private Detective

In both the Encounter and the Resolving PEFs section, I’m told to find out who is the leader of the NPCs by rolling on the list. My little brain screams “What list?” Some research finds that this step is several paragraphs away from where it should be. The player really should discover who the NPCs are before determining who the leader is.

I should use the Who Are They (NHC) – Profession Table to determine who Guihan and April have met. Though my setting isn’t New Hope City, I’m using New Hope City as a template for my city, again because I’m lazy. It turns out Guihan and April have met two Exotics. I roll in the Exotics Profession section on page 13 to find out what kind of Exotics they’ve met and Yikes! – they’ve met two cops (one male and one female).

The next step would be to determine what race they would be, but in my world setting there are no aliens found outside of the spaceport area – so all of the NPCs in this encounter will be Basic Humanoids.

Knowing the race, you would then proceed to discover the Rep and Skills of the NPCs. I believe this is the place where you would determine who is the leader. Under the previous rules, the leader would be the NPC with the highest Rep, but in these rules, you roll for it. Aha! In this case, we have a reflection of modern life – the leader is the male with Rep 3 and the subordinate is female with Rep 4!

Now comes the crucial part – Are They Friends or Foes? Guihan and April have never met them before, so we do an Interaction. Here are the stats:

Kim Guihan

  • Rep 5 Star
  • Smooth & Resilient Attributes
  • Big A$$ Pistol
  • No Armor
  • No Enhancements
  • People Skill 5
  • Savvy Skill 4
  • Items: Case chained to wrist & 2 Flash-Bang Grenades

April Sanchez

  • Rep 4 Co-Star
  • Free Spirit & Crack Shot Attributes
  • 2 A-3 Pistols
  • No Armor
  • No Enhancements
  • People Skill 3
  • Savvy Skill 4
  • Items: 2 Flash-Bang Grenades

Officer Danny Qwan

  • Rep 3 NPC Leader
  • Runt Attribute
  • A-3 SMG & Pistol
  • Soft Armor
  • No Enhancements
  • People Skill 3
  • Savvy Skill 2
  • Items: Handcuffs, Taser, Night Stick

Officer Katherine O’Malley

  • Rep 4 NPC
  • Coward Attribute
  • A-3 SMG & Pistol
  • Soft Armor
  • No Enhancements
  • People Skill 4
  • Savvy Skill 3
  • Items: Handcuffs, Taser, Night Stick

I rolled poorly for the NPCs’ Attributes and I fought the urge to reroll them.

Guihan and April turned on the charm and got a favorable response from the officers. They get an Increasing Rep D6.

Guihan & April meet a pair of Transporters

Resolving PEF Number Two

The second PEF resolved into a male Salesclerk and a female Laborer (a Cannery worker). The couple are known to Guihan so Interaction is not required and further Interaction is optional. I rolled up their stats and filed them away for another time, they’re not needed for this Encounter.

The Office Building

Guihan and April have reached the office building, the Gladstowe Shipping building. The building’s primary occupant is the Gladstowe Shipping Company, but there are other businesses as well, all having connection to the maritime industry in one form or another. According to the building type and time of day, there are 5 PEFs to resolve.

Office PEF 1

The PEF resolves to 2 Exotics an Investigative Reporter & a Private Detective, both male. Guihan and April don’t know them, so an Interaction takes place.

Robert Talisman, Investigative Reporter

  • Rep 3 NPC Leader
  • Nerves of Steel Attribute
  • Big A$$ Pistol
  • No Armor
  • Sensory Enhancement
  • People Skill 3
  • Savvy Skill 2

James Mogambo, Private Detective

  • Rep 4 NPC
  • Nerves of Steel Attribute
  • Big A$$ Pistol
  • No Armor
  • No Enhancements
  • People Skill 4
  • Savvy Skill 3

The Interaction is Favorable – Guihan and April get an Increasing Rep D6.

Office PEF 2

The PEF resolves to 2 Exotics, a female Transporter and a male Transporter. Guihan and April don’t know them, so an Interaction takes place.

Miku Gozen, Transporter

  • Rep 4 NPC Leader
  • Free Spirit Attribute
  • Big A$$ Pistol
  • No Armor
  • Sensory Enhancement
  • People Skill 4
  • Savvy Skill 3
  • Items: Katana

Peter Scott, Transporter

  • Rep 4 NPC
  • Agile Attribute
  • Big A$$ Pistol
  • No Armor
  • Stims
  • People Skill 3
  • Savvy Skill 4

The Transporters ignore Guihan and April.

Office PEF 3

The PEF resolves to three Gangers who Guihan and April know. There’s no Interaction.

Guihan & April meet some Gangers they know.

Office PEF 4

The PEF resolves to a single female Police Detctive working undercover whom Guihan and April do not know, so there is an Interaction.

Sherry Diamond, Police Detective

  • Rep 4 NPC Leader
  • Hard as Nails Attribute
  • P-1 Pistol
  • No Armor
  • No Enhancements
  • People Skill 4
  • Savvy Skill 3

Detective Diamond ignores Guihan and April.

Office PEF 5

This last PEF resolves to be a male Government Assistant – Assistant District Attorney with his Robot bodyguard. They have met before where April gave testimony in a trial that freed a ganger friend. The Assistant District Attorney does not like the girls. This Interaction might not go well.

Mitchell Greene, Assistant District Attorney

  • Rep 4 NPC Leader
  • Wussy Attribute
  • Unarmed
  • No Armor
  • Sensory Enhancement
  • People Skill 4
  • Savvy Skill 3

Police Droid Z-753A

  • Rep 4 NPC
  • Resilient & Logical Attributes
  • Big A$$ Pistol
  • Hard Body Armor
  • No Enhancements
  • People Skill 3
  • Savvy Skill 4

Whew! The girls got lucky. While they received an unfavorable result and a Decreasing Rep D6, there was no Confrontation.

Guihan & April meet Detective Sherry Diamond

In Summary

Guihan and April delivered the package to Mr. Morimoto, safe and sound. There were no Confrontations.

As a group, Guihan and April received 3 Increasing Rep D6 for completing the Encounter; 2 Increasing Rep D6 from Interactions; 1 Decreasing Rep D6 from an Interaction.

In addition, April received 1 Increasing Rep D6 for her Interaction with Sticky Fingers Jane.

Guihan received 3 Decreasing Rep D6 for having her pocket picked.

It’s not the end of the month yet, but it looks like Guihan and April will finish the month just as broke when they began it. I think they’ll be eating a lot of Ramen.

It took me way longer to write up the report of the Encounter than it did to play it. I didn’t even give the NPCs names while playing.

Opinion

I’ve received requests to give an opinion on the new system versus the old. This really isn’t fair. A lot has changed over the years in how we play games. You know, it’s like when a YouTube Reactor claims he’s listening to the Beatles for the first time and will give an honest opinion – BUT then he chooses a cover song they did in a Hamburg Pub in 1959, four years before their first hit.

Comparing versions of games is troublesome, there’s always someone who claims D&D 3.5 is better than 5.0 & those who proclaim the true gospel is AD&D 2nd Ed. This new edition of 5150: New Beginnings is different from other editions.

Anyway here are a few observations that are subject to change before the book actually goes to the printer:

  • Star Power is changed & handled differently.
  • The Attributes have been changed from Urban Renewal to work better with the Action Table.
  • There is no Table Top option printed in the rules. If you want to use a Table Top, you’ll need to incorporate movement, in-sight, and attributes from Citizen Soldier or Urban Renewal or Chain Reaction 2015.
  • Items are handled a little differently & are mostly optional in your campaign. In fact, they can be confusing & prone to overthinking. If you do use items, keep it simple.
  • Rules for Drones are in this edition.
  • There is now a way to purchase items using Lifetime Rep D6. Evidently, I overlooked this in creating my characters and NPCs.
  • Items can have a Quality modifier.
  • The Psy rules appear in a core rule book for the first time. They first appeared in the supplement 5150: Infestation & disappeared almost as quickly.
  • There are rules for computer hacking. The hacking rules are based on Challenges. The computer descriptions are slightly humorous if you’ve ever worked in the IT field.
  • The Combat Damage section appears between the Shooting & Melee sections instead of after.
  • When using the Who Are They? section for creating NPCs, there’s no mechanism to give the NPCs Melee weapons – if you want your NPC to have a katana, baseball bat, nine iron, black jack, etc. Just give it to them as an item. Whether or not you can give an unarmed NPC a melee weapon is your call.
  • The Confrontation Encounter now includes the Police Are Called section. The Police Are Called section was in previous rules, but easily overlooked. Placing a copy of the section here not only serves as a reminder, but it reduces page turning.
  • The Pursuit Encounter is kind of wonky if you don’t have a car. (In my opinion, there is too much emphasis on car ownership in the game. I think that it is because we live in a country where mass transit & other forms of transportation are so underdeveloped.)
  • All of the aliens from previous 5150 books are in this edition.
  • There’s a section on generating robotic and digital characters.

This list is just some of the things that jumped out at me. There are some things I don’t really buy into, but I didn’t buy into them in the earlier editions either. I’m looking at you 9 rings of known space & your wonky explanation of pseudo-astrophysics!

Guihan & April meet Assistant District Attorney Mitchell Greene & he is not happy to see them.

Does the game have everything? No. If you want everything buy both of the GURPS Basic Set Volumes & the GURPS Space Supplement & then spend a year or two figuring out how to play the game. Oh yeah, hope you like math… lots of math.

Something I did do that was impossible before the 5150: No Limits series is that I played 90% of the game with just pencil & paper.

Someone asked if this edition has a better narrative flow than other 5150 games, is it like Larger Than Life. To be honest, narrative flow is up to the game master and the players. I’ve played in some Larger Than Life games that had no flow at all, jerking you from scene to scene. I’ve also played in Larger Than Life games that weaved very enjoyable tales. (In one game, Will Shakespeare killed my jealous husband & in another, just as I was about to lay my hands on the treasure of Opar, I was kidnapped by Great Apes. The game ended with me, a villainess, hoping Tarzan would come to my rescue.)

When I see the question about narrative flow, I wonder if the real question is “how scripted is this adventure & can I go off script?” It’s about how much control the game mechanics or game master has over the character’s actions. You’ll hear terms like “open sandbox”, “guided adventure”, & “railroading” among game masters & game designers.

If you the player, play 5150: New Beginnings open to the possibilities and capable of rolling with the punches, then it has a very good narrative flow. A narrow view of the Encounter I just played is supposed to throw the player into a Confrontation over the package or the player escapes having a Confrontation. A more open view is the adventures of two young kids running an errand and all of the things that could happen. The focus wasn’t about avoiding a Confrontation or winning a Confrontation. In the end, the encounter was about meeting people and chasing a pickpocket.

So the tools are there to play games with narrative flow, if you the player or game master use them.

WAIT! CUT! – Someone get that alien floozy out of the shot!

Your comments and thoughts are always welcome. “Please folks, do like, share and subscribe. And we’ll see you on down the trail!” – Santee, Arizona Ghostriders

2 thoughts on “Mr. Morimoto’s Package – Part Two”

  1. Good stuff. I’m guessing you were a DM in other games as you built your NPCs for the Encounters. There are 32 already generated Encounters .That gives you 72 pre-generated lists over a variety of areas in NHC that you can use as written. No need to roll up NPCs at random. I’ll have to do one to show how to do it.

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