A monster’s bounty – A weird cyberpunk fantasy adventure – S1E04

Brief summary: Lt. Athen Smarte is a Hunter. Solitary warriors who hunt down and dispatch warp monsters. In the last session she hunted and killed three goblins who had made a lair under the Morikai Bread Factory, attacking the workers.

As her second advancement, I choose to increase Athen’s Vigor attribute to d8. I think she will need it.

After a well deserved rest, the next day, Athen returns to Vertden FOB. She decides to avoid the mess hall for now and heads directly to supplies and provisions to meet the quartermaster.

Q: Does she meet Taro?
A: Yes
Q: Does he continue bullying her?
A: Yes, and, he’s not going to let go easily.

She hasn’t managed to finish 4 steps into the courtyard when she hears an unwelcome voice. “I thought I told you to leave.”
“Piss off Taro. That was yesterday. I’m back to collect.” Athen sternly replies and keeps on a steady pace.
Tarp quickly stands up from the bench and cuts off her path. “Leave” he says slowly, pausing on every syllable.
“Make me.” Athen replies, her hands itching for a fight. Adrenaline still high from yesterday.

Q: Are there bystanders?
A: False presupposition.
Note: I had difficulty finding a proper answer to this and the story detailed to an incorrect path. Therefore I returned back here with a decision that when a false presupposition can’t be answered I will instead trigger an intervention without answering the asked question.

Intervention: Entity Positive
Q: Is it Athen?
A: No
Q: Is it Taro?
A: Yes, and he just received a mission

“Cut this crap Taro. Who cares about her? We have an assignment. It’s a Red Mark mission!” Another Hunter, a friend of Taro’s comes and intervenes.
“This ain’t over Smarte!” Taro says and laughs wildly as he hugs his friend in joy.
“Asshat” Athen mutters between her teeth as she can’t digest the news. Taro was given a Red Mark mission. These are corporate sanctioned high end targets for high tech rewards.


The quartermaster eyes Athen heavily.

UNE: Cautious, Bearing: Comfort: Focus: Previous Scene.

“Don’t let that asshole Taro get to you girl. Remember where you came from. You weren’t a bounty hunter or a security lap dog. You were a ranger. Carry that with pride.” The old grognard tells her. Athen breaks a little smile. “Thank you.”
“You showed those greenskins that they can’t mess with us. Too bad they took so long to call for our help. Here.” He says and puts a pouch credit coins on the table. “Your reward.”
Athen takes her reward and nods to the old soldier before heading to Col. Faulknen’s office.

Athen’s wealth die has increased to a d8.


Right now I’m having some difficulty connecting the dots of the single sessions into a grander adventure scheme. It feels to me as if Athen is running along without any specific purpose.
I had a discussion over at discord and through some tips that were shared (Thank you @John Lopez – check out his patreon if you haven’t) I realized I needed to spend some time to bullet point a few things about my setting.
Since the setting is something unique, I must pay attention to it. For starters I will create a quick bullet point journal of characters, factions and locations, including everything introduced so far. Then I will try to map them out (thinking about a hex map) with events overlay. Then I will see if I need to introduce a few more factions or just generate an adventure and build as I go.

For starters I gathered up in a document all the information I had for characters, factions and locations so far.

Next I named the city. It’s Morieva.
And I generated a map in watabou for it.

Morieva

Next I detailed the open threads.
Threads:

  • Goblins in the city
  • Third eye drug exchange
  • Merlin the smuggler
  • Taro’s Red Mark mission

And now I will generate an adventure using Cyberpunk Adventure Generator

Quest giver: Anti-corporation Rock Band.
Quest type: Intelligence of Megacorp HQ.
Target: Item, A cyberkey that will unlock any lock mechanical or digital
In the possession of: Quest giver
Professions: Megacorp hired propagandist reporter
Location: Streets, Megacorp HQ
Antagonists: Classic Hitman with a suit and concealed weaponry
Rewards: Blastor – cyberspace weaponry
Random event: Propaganda flyers rain down from the sky

I don’t like the implied setting and it doesn’t fit my protagonist at all. I could push it to fit but instead I will try the next adventure generator in my list.

Quest Contact
A Mercenary Group: A nearby mercenary group has posted several jobs. They are willing to pay anyone who completes them.

Adventure
Prevent Something: Something is going to happen unless you interfere and you’re the only chance of preventing it.

Location
A Fortress: Whether still occupied or not, several military fortresses litter the land from wars past. Unoccupied fortresses rarely stay that way for long when bandits or monsters looking for a lair chance upon them.

Antagonists
Royalty: They’re the rich of the rich, make the laws, and are never questioned. But not every royal has the best intentions of their subjects at heart.

Twists and Complications
Dodgy Ally: For the adventure to be a success the players will need outside help. This person may have their own agenda, want all the treasure, or could be a spy for the enemy.
Time Limit: There’s a deadline and the adventure need to finish by a certain time or something happens.

The Dramatic Conflict
Family/Friend: Someone the players know will be harmed by completing this job. Is the cause worthy enough for their sacrifice?

Much better. I can start asking oracle questions to define the adventure as it evolves.

Q: Is the mercenary group, the Hunter’s guild?
A: Yes, and the job posting will be offered to Athen directly.
Q: Is the royalty, the TeraTek corporation?
A: No
Q: Is it another corporation?
A: Yes
Q: Is the fortress, Vertden FOB?
A: No
Q: Why is only Athen capable of completing the adventure?
A: The answer involves procrastinating over desires, combined with a struggle over nature.
Q: Is the friend involved in dramatic conflict Col Faulkner?
A: Yes, but Athen doesn’t know it yet, so that meta plot is subject to change.

So I have a rough layout. The old Ocano Point base is about to be captured by Mao-Hsai Unlimited corporation. Thing is this base used to serve troops that fought in the Warp Wars and housed the previous Hunter local guild HQ. It was abandoned in a rush and contains research data that must be recovered. The Hunter Athen is the only available Hunter for the mission. A possibility is that there is information on the data that incriminates the Colonel about something that happened during the war.
I don’t like all the meta knowledge that is being fed to me at once, and also the fact that it doesn’t connect at all with my current threads. On the other hand it’s a quite interesting new thread and I’m willing to see where it will take me.
Also I dislike the fact that there is no personal goal for the protagonist. I somehow feel as if I’m in a CRPG without any significant scenario.


Q: Will the Colonel assign the mission to Smarte?
A: No
So, I need to create a new character, even if it’s just for this.

Donjon: Lenard Jaenke: Male Soldier. Lenard is muscular, with cropped silver hair and brown eyes.
He wears military fatigues and carries a semi-automatic pistol.

“Smarte! report to Cpt Jaenke. He’s asked for you.” A fellow hunter called her.

The captain’s office is filled with the smoke from his cigar. He has put it off, but only just before. Athen can barely see the captain through the smoke. The captain is a muscular man with cropped silver hair and brown eyes.
“Smarte.” He says in a voice, cracked under the weight of countless cigars of the past.
“Sir.” The lieutenant replies.
“We’ve got a situation. A delicate one. We have sources that indicate that our old base in Ocano Point has been scouted by Mao-Hsai Unlimited. We had to retreat from Ocano in a hurry and when we hit back, there was no strategic importance for the location anymore.” The captain explains.
Athen nods.
“We’ll let them have it. We don’t care about that dump. But…” the captain sighs. “What’s inside must be recovered. We have battle reports, monster autopsies, experimental weapon blueprints. Lots of shit. And we must get there fast. Konicek and Girbach were supposed to get it. But, they were outside of Morieva, and a landslide has cut them off. You’re the only one available, so we rely on you alone for this one. Questions?”
‘Crap, a two person job given to just her’. Athen thought.
“Yes sir. How do I recover the data?” Athen asks.

Here I will give the dodgy ally twist.
Q: Will there be a guild payment for it?
A: Yes

“You’re going to need a hacker, guild fee. Konicek is our guild hacker, but…” the captain lets it trail off.
“He’s blocked by the landslide, yes. What about Ocano Point. Is is clear?” Athen asks another question.

Q: Do the hunters have recent intel?
A: No

“We haven’t set foot there in a long time. Can’t tell what to expect. Find a hacker, keep them safe. Find the data, bring them back. That will be all.” Cpt Jaenke wraps it up.
“Yes sir, on it.” Athen replies and leaves.


This is a chance to use a Secret Clock. I have no clue whether Mao-Hsai Unlimited will get to the site before Athen, so I will start a clock that will trigger at Red (not combined, either three Diamonds or three Hearts will trigger it) and a dependent clock that has to do with Mao-Hsai data recovery at Black (again, not combined, either three Clubs or three Spades will trigger it).
Time unit until Athen gets to Ocano Point will be one hour, and after she arrives, it will be one turn.

I expect that it will take Athen 1 hour to get home and then she can start trying her streetwise knowledge to see if she can find a hacker. I’ll give one hour per attempt.

13:00: Return from Vertden FOB
14:00: Streetwise (d4-2): Success.
Donjon: Quinn Rocheford: Male Computer Hacker. Quinn has messy blonde hair and large green eyes. He wears a grey suit and glasses with silver rims.

It doesn’t take long for Athen to dust off her contacts list and find Quinn. He had worked with associates of her in the past, but apart from that reference she has no clue about him. He agreed to meet her at Gustav’s.

Q: Does it take long for Quinn to arrive?
A: No. I decide it’s going to be another hour, he was readily available.
Intervention: Regress plot
So I got lost in a series of questions that lead nowhere.
I’m starting over again with more specific questions.
Q: Is Quinn under attack by someone during the meet?
A: No
Q: Does Quinn lack a specific piece of equipment required to perform his task?
A: Yes
Q: Does he know where to get it?
A: Yes, but (it’s illegal/costs/will take time to get): will take time to get.
Q: Will it take too long?
A: No, and it’s going to be only 1d6: 4 more hours.

‘Just my luck’ Athen cursed when Quinn explained to her that he had his deck under repairs when it was damaged in a firefight. At least it would be within the day, and a few hours later, at 19:00, they were ready to leave for Ocano Point.
She didn’t like the fact that Quinn didn’t tell her about his shortcoming before she had arranged to meet him. He’s either untrustworthy or didn’t want to miss the job. Or both.

Q: Is there a regular route to Ocano Point? (unlikely, I imagine this as an abandoned place, far from habitated regions).
A: No, and, there’s no road to there either. They will have to take a cab up to a point and then walk.
I would expect one hour for the cab ride, and then 1d6: 4 hours walking.
So, it’s dead midnight when they arrive at Ocano Point.


Athen will search to see if she can find any corporate presence on approaching the site.
Athen: Notice (d6): Success+. Let’s unveil the first Secret Clock: No Mao-Hsai presence.

I need to get some information about Quinn from UNE.
I get “Dependable Politician”. I’ll take it that he’s a man of his word, and prefers diplomacy to other means.

“It seems clear. I see no lights, or movement.” Athen says to Quinn.
“I promised my skillset, but are you sure it seems a good idea to go inside an abandoned fort from the war? There could still be monsters lurking inside. Especially if, as you say, our own troops had to abandon it to the enemy.” Quinn tries to persuade Athen.
“We’ll take our precautions.” Athen says and arms her pistol.

Now, since I got a raise on the Notice check, I’ll ask.
Q: Did Athen notice anything else?
A: No

Since I haven’t decided yet how to run this part of the adventure (dungeon romp? hex flower? five room dungeon?) I’ll pause here to recollect myself and do some digging.

Session Summary

I’m starting to get a little lost in all the worldbuilding associated with this adventure. I think I’m trying to get two birds with one stone.
I love the concept and the protagonist, but I should have my world set up before I set off to adventure in it. Then I might have had a better objective for my protagonist, something to drive her to achieve.
Where is the struggle? What opposing forces does Athen have to contend with to find calmness?
Insofar I didn’t have these issues with my other adventures because I either had generic lore that could apply easily without much effort, or I knew the setting very well.
I may run the mission in one of my next sessions but I’m well aware that I need to have some serious world building involved before I continue further.