octaNe: Cars Needs Women!
Afternoon everyone! We had a fun night at Danís last night. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Lesley had the idea of getting us over to do some gaming on Danís birthday, but we were in Cairns at the time. So after we got back, I organised a game of octaNe with Gav and John coming along.
Boots, Gav, Vickie and I also organised a present for Dan: the Battlefield 1942 Reload Pack, with the core game plus the Road to Rome expansion. I imagine Dan, Gav and Boots will be hooking up for some online fun very soon! (Well, at least once Boots finds time in his busy scheduleÖ ;-D )
Anyway, Iíve been spending a few hours last week on an adventure idea Iíd had before we went up to Cairns, called ďCars Needs Women!Ē I typed it up over Friday night and Saturday so it would be ready to go and to keep how it would work clear in my mind. Iíve PDFed it for download and play.
So we all rocked over to Danís place a little after eight; we wound up running late because I was assembling some tracks from various CDs in order to use as backing music. Iíve been putting some tracks into around six or seven playlists based on the regions of the Former United States (Shangri-L.A./California, New Texaco, Free States/Rockabilly) as well as what I consider the four major character activities (cruising in cars, hanging around in roadhouses and bars, fights, car chases). I couldnít find any decent Elvis or Rat Pack compilations in the stores, but as the players didnít go anywhere near Lost Vegas, that didnít become a problem. I wound up with an eclectic mix including (but not limited to) the Red Elvises, Dire Straits, the Ramones, Radio Birdman, Van Halen, Steve Miller Band, Credence Clearwater Revival and ZZ Top. I wouldíve put some Bruce Springsteen and John Cougar on as well, but ran out of time, unfortunately.
The characters were:
Agent D, Straght-Laced G-Man In Black (Dan)
El Disco Inferno, Masked Luchador without a mask (John) (Yes, I know itís the same as the example in the book, but why try to improve on perfection?)
Icarus, Dynamite-Happy Crazed Aviator (Gav)
Marauder Mary, Black Outlaw Biker Bitch (Vickie)
The game started off in a bar in Shangri-L.A. (rather than waiting to pick El Disco up in New Texaco, I decided to just yank him over to Lost Angels, as itís where Route 66 starts). Two smartcars ram-raid the place, and some acrobatics and inspired use of the bar room tables on the part of the players (not to mention some natty Stunt rolls) saw one of them driving along the bar top on two wheels, with holes in its roof (thanks to Marauder Maryís twin sawn-offs). The other one literally bumped into El Disco Inferno, stunning him Ė but as Johnís Stunt result was a 3, he narrated that its wheels fell off. The heroic luchador wound up charming the car out of its panic, and it turned out it had been running away from something; I figured that something was the other smartcar, which exited the bar via a side door stretched wide by Agent Dís Expando-Ray (a little gift from some friends from out of town). And so, El Disco Inferno procured for himself a ride, a cherry-red classic Mustang (The Commitmentsí ďMustang SallyĒ came on around then).
Marauder Mary heard screaming from outside, and upon investigation, discovered yet another smartcar kidnapping two women and driving off. She lassoed its rear bumper with a length of drive chain and tied the other end around a nearby lamppost. Unfortunately, just as she got one of the girls out of the car, the chain broke (Stunt roll of 3) and the car made good its escape.
At the same time, Agent D and Icarus exited the bar by the side door. Icarus noticed his pet snake was missing from where he left her on his gyrocopter, whilst Agent D spotted the illegal alien heíd been looking for (I canít for the life of me remember what it was called, but it was basically a large pink jellyfish), just as it got catapulted into a third smartcar, which also headed out of town at a great rate of knots.
As the players are mounting up to give pursuit (and El Disco Inferno is laying his macho action down on Barbie, the almost-kidnapping-victim Marauder Mary rescued), a Road Marshal drives up and tells the team that these abductions have been happening all over, that the victims are all female and that the cars subsequently head east. The Road Marshals have enough problems on their hands right now, so heís happy to hand jurisdiction over to Agent D (that way, he can go fill out paperwork at the bar). Icarus wheels his gyrocopter into the street while Agent D gets into his Ford POS, Mary kick-starts her Harley and El Discoís Mustang backs out of the bar (he put its wheels back on by hand). The team puts the pedal to the metal and takes off in pursuit.
As they head out of California and into the Wastelands, Marauder Mary gets flagged down by a couple of sons of Nihon, standing by their jetcar with a table, some papers, a clipboard and a pen. They want her to take a product survey on what women want in cars. Mary, of course, wants something with two wheels. They faithfully take her comments down, and as none of the other playersí cars have a woman behind the wheel (well, except maybe for El Discoís Mustang, but he was behind the wheel at the same time, and I think it wouldíve been obvious that Barbie wasnít driving), the researchers ignore them.
A few more miles down the road, a space slug erupts through the tarmac and thunders toward El Disco Inferno, who, as this is a traffic infringement (the thing is on the wrong side of the road, after all), throws the book at it Ė specifically, his Espanol-Ingles dictionary (also his Major item). The monster swallows it, stops and ruminates for a couple of minutes, then turns to El Disco and converses with him in fluent Spanglish (six on the Daring roll). Turns out itís a rare breed of intelligent slug, and it wants to take its family off to the beach (apparently, the strain has no problems with water, either). Agent D gives it some quite detailed directions, and the team parts company with the beast on amicable terms.
We skip through a montage of road scenes, intercut with campouts under the stars and shots of the distant dust cloud being kicked up by the pack of smartcars Ė although itís not got any closer, it has been getting bigger. Itís also starting to turn north-east after passing through New Texaco, following Route 66 toward the Missed and the Mysterious East.
The team loses some ground when they hit the Mighty Missed; there's no sign of how the smartcars got across the broad river. Marauder Mary uses her scavenging skill to find a raft big enough to fit an automobile. Icarus hooks it up to his gyrocopter and tows Marauder Mary across on it, just as a mist starts to spring up on the surface of the water (and itís 11 AM on a clear, sunny day). The aviator is towing El Disco and his Mustang across though the now pea-soup fog, and launches a flare to see where heís going. It highlights the massive head and neck of a sea monster, which, with an ďOch aye denuuuuu!Ē, attacks the raft! (What do you mean, whatís the Loch Ness Monster doing in the Mississippi? Itís the last place anyone would think to look for the Loch Ness Monster! Duh!)
Thinking quickly, Agent D shoots El Disco with his Expando-Ray, turning him into a fifty-foot-tall Ultra El Disco, who (after marvelling at the radically increased dimensions of the monster in his pants) grabs Nessieís neck and tail and shoves the tail ourobouros-style into its mouth. Icarus then flies by and drops a stick of dynamite into the monsterís mouth; the resulting explosion drenches Icarus and El Disco in Nessie meat. (Of course, El Discoís in the ideal place to get a bathÖ)
The team finally catch up with the pack of smartcars, just as the last of them is passing through the walls of the Detroit Rock City foundries. El Disco (now back to normal size) and Agent D take the frontal approach and go in via reception; El Disco charms the receptionist into thinking heís a representative from the government of New Texaco, interested in establishing imports, while Agent D flashes his ID and gets in on official INS business. Marauder Mary leaps her bike into the back of a cloth-topped delivery truck and attempts to hold up the mutant driver Ė an Adult Mutant Brawling Armadillo, as it turns out Ė but winds up heading off to the bar with him (his brother rode with her old gang). As for Icarus, he lands on the roof and makes his way in through a ventilation duct.
El Disco is given a tour of the showrooms while Agent D stumbles upon the boardroom. At the far end of the meeting table, seated on a tall plinth and always in shadow, is the Imperious Chairman, who asks a Security Cylon (ďBY YOUR COMMAND, IMPERIOUS CHAIRMANĒ) whether their recent market sample included a creature of the Agentís description. The Cylon confirms it, but notes that Agent Dís description of a male alien is inaccurate; the being is female. (Agent D clarifies that the race is known for its ability to change sex.) Agent D is taken to the market survey area, at the same time as El Disco and Barbie enter with their tour guide / sales rep, Mary comes in after having volunteered for the survey (she got what her armadillo pal Larry knew about the whole thing out of him over a few beers) and Icarus finds a vent grille overlooking the whole room.
It turns out that Detroit Rock City is keen on making inroads into the largely untapped female market for motor vehicles, and wanted to do a market survey. The women have been brought to Detroit because DRC doesnít want to give what itís up to away to potential competitors. The rogue smartcars DRC contracted to ďpoll the potential marketĒ interpreted the project requirements a little too aggressively, but DRC is returning home those who didnít sign the confidentiality agreement, and those who did sign are currently participating in the survey (i.e. being asked questions by Disco Robot Gigolo market researchers and trying out full-size concept mock-ups) and will be returned once theyíve completed it.
Icarus isnít alone in his vent duct, however; at the same grille are those two self-same Japanese market researchers Marauder Mary ran into earlier. Theyíre getting as much as they can on camera, and when Icarus opens the grille, drops down into the back seat of a conveniently-placed convertible and gets his snake back from where a bemused Disco Robot Gigolo is trying to ask it questions, they get rumbled by security. And just as Agent D finds his alien and cuffs him/her (it?), one of the guys from Japan whips out a remote control and presses the Big Red Button.
Icarus heads back to the roof, and notices that the near shore of Lake St. Clair has started to froth and bubble. Sure enough, by the entire team gets outside, Godzilla his own bad self has emerged from the waters and is busy doing to Detroit what heís done to Tokyo so many times before. Although DRCís defences (Terminator and T2ís Hunter Killer tanks) engage the atomic behemoth, itís Icarus who, with a roll of a 5 against a Hazard Rating of 3, KOs the mighty monster with twelve sticks of dynamite duct taped together.
Overall, things didnít go exactly as planned, but (a) thatís whatís octaNeís all about and (b) I didnít exactly have a firm adventure plan anyway. There are a couple of things I'd prefer to do better for next time:
I wound up forgetting about the rules for additional Gear. Dan and Gav pulled new stuff (Agent Dís Ford POS and Expando-Ray, Icarus' supply of dynamite) out of nowhere, and John scored El Disco's Mustang early on; I should have had them pay a Plot Point for each new item. Of course, they wound up with so many Plot Points at the end that deducting one or two now shouldnít hurt much.
I noticed that some of the encounters (like the space slug and Godzilla) were resolved rather quickly when the first Stunt roll came up with a five or six; it meant that one person pretty much wrapped everything up before anyone else could take a crack at it. To fix this up, I think I need to ensure that the players are using their Skills, impose Hazard ratings more frequently, and allow everyone a chance to announce their stunts and deciding the dramatic order before actually making rolls. A few more threes and fours would have made things interesting for the whole team. On the other hand, I don't think anyone else noticed (or if they did, it didn't really worry them), so if no one felt left out, why fix what ain't broke?
In the end, the most important goal was achieved: even though things went late and sleep was catching up (with John especially) as we got closer to wrapping, a good time was had by all. Weíll have to do it again soon.
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