Monday, June 24, 2013

The End Was Nigh 3: Jacob Rude Against the World Crime League

Well, after six months of waiting and bashing my head in trying to get it out of my system. Scheduling with Camarilla/MES stuff conflicted with their schedules and this was the first time I could make it since Janurary. First up, thank you to Ericka for being awesome and giving me a ride, honestly, you are my LARP mentor.

For those of you who just went through the mods she through out this weekend, that last statement should scare the shit out of you.

So we got to game, and I set my gear down in the Barn. The Barn was empty for the most part. Since the Original Sin club moved/closed down, it's been something of a ramshackle for squatters without a place to live. I liked it, it was a lot less crowded than the shanty town. The problem I had was that the power was off (In Game, all essential areas had emergency red lights on), and since the Barn was so low priority that when it became pitch black out, so did the interior of the Barn. It sucked because someone placed a bench right infront of the bunk room door and I nearly went flying through the curtain. I have an idea for this in the future of the Barn isn't going to get used (maybe someone else can use it in my stead)

"I'm making a face at you right now, and you can't see it"
(Photo By Katherine Chartier)
Anyway, this was the first game where I finally got to play Jacob 'Rude' (not his real name). Jacob is a Retrograde, a mutation of humanity ('actual' humans are rare, and possibly villains) who were raised too close to radiation. They look ghoulish, almost zombie like, so they wear decorated masks to distinguish themselves. Their favorite phrase (or at least their most used) is "Don't shoot, I'm alive". They're pretty cool at handling radiation, halving damage from it. Rude is from the Brokelands, the remains of outer Old York (New York got bombed out and flooded). Like most people who grew up in Old York, Rude has a general "fuck you" attitude. In short, I play him like he has the Common Sense Merit from New World of Darkness, he looks around and goes "Are you fucking kidding me?" He's a Tinker, a builder of weapons and armor and carries with him a giant combat wrench (tm) he calls The Fix.

In game, Rude came in with a Caravan lead by Brock (played by fellow LARP buddy Ryan) who immediately set to get people to teach him his required skills. Five minutes in, he runs into Wulfram (played by my friend Kat). Wulf and Rude are friends from the Brokelands, with Wulf the Scavenger and Rude the Tinker. They immediately hit it off and decide to work together.

Of course that's where things went south.

It seems that someone was messing with Psionics (Psychics, basically DR's version of Mages). One of them created a Maelstrom of 30 Damage Fire that cleared out the area, with Wulf and Rude just barely outside of his periphery. Settling that, a bunch of us were tasked to help dig trenches to make sure radiation fallout didn't seep into the ground water. We ran through the forest searching for three sources of concentrated fallout, fighting through waves of Shamblers and Diggers, Basic Zed and Zed that can burrow through the ground, respectively. This was the part where being a Retro was cool, because every so often, everyone in the area got blasted with radiation damage. Rude got half of that damage. However, by the end of the run, everyone was declared to have radiation poisoning. That meant roleplaying vomitting, bloody eyes and ears. So I went to the Ops booth and dabbed some prop blood (I'm assuming, DR NJ tends to go balls out with these things), making sure I dribbled it on my mask to make it look like Rude was crying from his eyes.

We went back into town to get healed. Wulf and Rude both calling for healers. No one was available, so for nearly two hours, Kat and I played sick and dying in the main hall. The problem, the radiation took a point of health for every hour it wasn't healed. Rude had 1 point of health left on the sheet. So of course, that was obvious. Rude and Wulf started laughing. They were going to die. Rude, who was a fucking Retro was going to die of RADIATION SICKNESS. He was seriously pissed at this notion. At the last 15 minutes, someone showed up and did the required procedure. It was already late into the evening, and Rude had just had enough. So that was Friday.

Saturday began with Raider O'Clock. That point in the ass crack of the morning when the NPC shifts start and send out parties to attack the cabins and sleeping areas. My Raiders were Dread Surgeons, and their first trick was to gas the room (in real life, they shouted out the command. Anyone within earshot was subject to it's effects). Rude, a Retro, was immune mostly save for some grogginess. For the record, I'm not a morning person in real life. So I was groggy in real life as well. Next thing I know, someone (Ericka, who was Storyteller in charge that weekend) bound my hands while I was still getting my bearings and then proceeded to cut out one of Rude's kidneys. She was kind and did patch him up, but that was the start of the day.

Bitch.

So the hunt for Kidneys started. They caught the culprit but Rude never got his back. He fine with that though, though he was peeing in odd colors later on.

After that was the NPC shift. These are always fun, and this month was no different. It was also a change for me to get some color out in the sun. The ST on call was Ericka, and her first mod she had me go on was to roleplay with a group as a swarm of Cicadas. Cicadas in game are hard to kill and could eat through everything. They were noted by their buzzing sound, created through Kazoos. I didn't have one, so I started making the sound with my lips. We made a circuit around camp, which lead to people fleeing in droves as the buzzing got closer and closer. The lakefront area emptied out quickly, and then we found ourselves converging on the Double Tap, the main bar and meeting area for Characters. Many of them ran in to the bar and closed the doors, while some formed a literal shieldwall. What they didn't realize was that Cicadas could get around shields, and we did. They panicked and backed off, leaving the door open. Everyone filed right out of the building. In a game where Zombies, Raiders, and unspeakable horrors are out to get you, people ran shitless from swarms of cicadas.

The next Mod was a Raider mod, moving through the camp as a roving pack of hockey mask wearing Raiders. We had a good run, got killed a bunch of times by one concentrated group of skilled players. But that went south the moment they ran into another group of Super Raiders, soon the entire area was a warzone. At one point, I spawned (NPCs can respawn like in video games) and hid in a set of bushes. A pair of non combatant PCs showed up and I came out, scaring them. It's part of the job, harry the fighters, scare the townsfolk. Do not think you're safe in these woods.

The next module was an RolePlay mod, I was to give out the town's first Newspaper. I was a Newsie, so long as I didn't have to sing Carrying the Banner again (don't ask) I was okay. The module kinda went flat. I'll admit, I was pretty low on spoons at that point. Two travel and combat heavy modules in 80+ degree weather will wipe you out. The body was hydrated and the spirit willing, but there was no umph. I also picked a bad time to stop by the Double Tap. For those of you who don't play DR, Literacy isn't a given. In fact it's a skill you have to purchase in game. So many people couldn't read, and at 2 Credits a pop, it was a bit of a bitch to shell out for. Eventually, ST staff did it again and got better results. So I'm going to call that one on me.

My final mod was a Slaver Module. I played a part of a group of Slavers who set a honey trap for the towns folk to try and capture and enslave them. We put a bunch of the slave NPCs out in a field and had them screaming for help while others ran to town. When they came back with people, we sprang out of the nearby tents and towns and proceeded to lay siege on the players. We had about four or five PCs captured and tied up and ready to go. One escaped and got reinforcements, so we set up another ambush. This one turned into a battle, one we couldn't win. We had gotten a number of the PCs into a Wagon and were "ready to go" when the battle hit a pitch. A bunch of us decided to cut our losses and Fair Escaped on out. Those that remained fought well, and died. One of the PCs was killed in the fray.

After that, my shift was done, and I was pretty low on spoons. I ate some soup I brought with me and napped...for about two hours. I got up at a crawl and attempted to finish out the night. This was the night I got to Do Shit. Rude is a Tinker, that means Repairs mostly for him. He set up shop at a work bench and started bang away on peoples stuff to fix them, making him a nice pile of credits. He also stopped by a fight against Raiders and Chopped the NPCs broken weapons, getting him nice pieces of scrap for future building/possible trading. Barring the work, I socialized a bit, got to know the towns people. I saw a drag show in character and witness two weddings, one intentional and charming, the other unintentional, and psychotic. When the "presiding priest" is Nacho Man Randy Salvage, and his nuptials was a long winded diatribe  filled with ooh yeah, dig it, and ended with "And now by the power invested in me, I now pronounce you man and wife, dig it!" it was needless to say a whirlwind of emotion.

Of course, as the night rolled on, so did the terror. People died, and as they died they came out of the ground again. Death is not singular in Dystopia Rising. I mentioned earlier that the PCs are mutated strains of humanity. That mutation is in part connected to fact that everyone carries the Zombie Infection. It's what allows us to heal over time, our powers. However, once we're killed, the infection takes hold a little bit. Each  Strain/Race has a different number of times they can  be killed, some are 2 times, others are much higher. When those run out, you come back as a Zed. When you die before that, you go through the Gravemind, the hyper conscious mass that speaks to the Zed. It tortures you a little, and you come back relatively in tact, but slightly less than yourself and a bit crazier. 14 people died this month, which in a game of hundreds isn't a bad thing in a game. In a LARP though, it doesn't matter. These were now over a dozen people closer to their last ride when they'd come back and try to eat the ones they love.

Ericka, who plays Commissioner Rosemary Van Buren in the game, went to the Morgue to see if the rumors were true and her friend Daisy had been killed. Rude knew Rosemary (whom he called Rose) and went to support her. He also did it for another reason. It's not approved yet by the Storytellers, but Jacob Rude has a Fascination with Death. Retrogrades, when their Infection takes hold, they come back as any number of truly advanced and dangerous forms of Zed. Everyone knows it, and Rude is intimately aware of what will happen. He knows, with unyielding certainty, that someday he'll come out of a Morgue as something that may potentially kill the ones he legit loves, and they may have to be the ones they put down.

Soon, others joined the small 'party' at the morgue, awaiting loved ones who may have fallen. Some were only rumored to have died and resurfaced, some did not. No one came back as a Zed, so silent celebrations were had. Rosemary went to the Tap to make sure Daisy was okay, Rude went to inform her of the new "re-arrivals". While no one saw it, in the darkness between the Morgue and the Tap, Rude cried. I did that scene because, frankly, that is as much me living out his story than me living out his story for other people. It'll be revealed why that happened, but it was something I needed to experience personally. It worked.

Shortly after, I called it a night. I did not play Rude on sunday, instead opting to clean up the Barn early to get out and food after game early. If anyone asked, Rude left on the next Caravan out Saturday night.

In the end, I enjoyed the game very well. I have to admit that I got hit very hard and got tapped of energy. Sunday was murder for me to get up and get moving. I also felt like, despite knowing a fair chunk of the players and their PCs, I wasn't tied to anyone and I missed out. This was a sort of ennui and disconnection which probably added to my like of motivation. I'm not pinning that on anyone other than myself. That's my personality being inept with reaching out to others. I was almost happy in my little dark private barn (though for the love of god I'd have killed for a match in there) and just the quiet of screaming players and raiding Zed, but it also lead to a lot of what felt like me walking around witnessing other people, instead of taking place. That's a weakness I have to deal with in my gaming, and I'm glad I got to explore/discover that.

As for the future, well, Rude was a lot more fun to play than my first one. I can't guarantee every month. I'm unemployed and it costs to go to and fro from games. So I promise to come back. I want to thank Ericka, Allie, Shoshana, Bartosz, Alex, Kat, Ryan, Jason, Jester, Robin and Taran and a crew of others who made me feel welcome in game. Also like to thank Michael Pucci for building this fucked up nightmare circus of a game and Peter Woodworth, whose DR-centric novel "Dead Heroes: Runner" made me love Old York even more and I got to meet this month. You folks gave me a whole new kind of world to play in, and a whole new style of gaming to think about. I've got ideas, and you've only yourselves to blame.

So in the end, Jacob Rude will return. And so will his looney toons player too.

Later, and keep on swinging