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[Pbp] Psychosis - Ship of Fools
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 2:47 am    Post subject: [Pbp] Psychosis - Ship of Fools Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

On my last trip to storage, I found a half-forgotten 90s RPG book, system and scenario in one. I always wanted to try this thing out, not because it looked any good, but because it seemed really intriguing. It hasn't happened in the past two decades since I got the thing, so I'm giving it a shot here. I think Pbp is a pretty good medium for it anyway, and I'm looking for two or three players.



I'm not going to lie: the game is more-or-less based on player disempowerment. Not in the @World sense of 'the MC makes everything up and the dice don't matter,' but in the sense that the gameplay is centered on low information and unreliable information. One of the major elements of the game is supposed to be figuring out what the goal even is. Almost anything I could tell you about the actual scenario would be a spoiler.

(On that note, anyone else who's had a look at the book, please don't spoil it here, even under spoiler tags.)

I know it's a niche taste, and a hard sell. All I can say is that I'm not actually an asshole and will do my best to make it as positive an experience as I can. If, despite the disclaimers, you're interested in trying out this unusual and challenging experience, here's the (abridged) player briefing:

Quote:
• You'll be faced with an unreliable vision of the game world, which may change or be confusing, especially in the beginning. Don't be discouraged, it is a puzzle which is intended to be solved.

• There is no chargen.

• The resolution mechanic is card-based. You have a hand of cards drawn from a Major Arcana-less tarot deck, and attempt to perform challenging tasks by playing them for their face value (or 12/14/16/20 for Pages/Knights/Queens/Kings) against either a target number or another character's card play.

• Sample TNs are 5 for simple, 10 for ordinary, 15 for hard, and 25 for near impossible. TNs are not set in stone, a clever or foolish approach can raise or lower the TN.

• Suits matter. Wands represent physical force, Swords represent physical agility, Pentacles represent intellect, and Cups represent social ability. Wands and Cups are opposed suits, and so are Swords and Pentacles.

• A challenge has a preferred suit (e.g. a fistfight would have wands as preferred). When attempting a challenge, you must play a card of the preferred suit if possible. If you do, you may also play any number of non-opposed cards and total their values. If you cannot, you can attempt the challenge with a single non-opposed card.

• When you run out of cards in your hand, you draw up to your hand size (which starts at 5).

• At any time, you can put a card from your hand into your trace. Cards in your trace count against your hand size, but are not discarded when you play them. You cannot have more than one card of any suit in your trace, and you cannot voluntarily remove a card from your trace, so trace slots are best saved for high values.

• Events beyond your control may discard your hand and trace (and refill your hand), so don't get too attached. Also, when you draw an Ace into your hand, it means some sort of special event is happening; the Ace is discarded and a replacement card drawn, then the MC draws from a deck made up of the set-aside Major Arcana to see what happens.

If anyone has any questions, I will answer as far as I can without entering spoiler territory.

edit: Kings are valued at 20, not 18 as I originally posted.
_________________
"Now that we've determined that up to π angels can dance on the head of a pin, how do we determine the specific number (or fraction) of angels dancing?"
"What if angels from another pin engage them in melee combat?"


Last edited by angelfromanotherpin on Tue Jan 10, 2017 2:24 pm; edited 2 times in total
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SlyJohnny
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 3:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Well, my curiosity is piqued. I'm down.
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Thaluikhain
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 3:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Ah, so I have an excuse for not knowing what is going on? Perfect, I'm in.
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Darth Rabbitt
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

This should be fun.
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Welcome aboard, guys. I'll jump right into it.

IC stuff in quote boxes, OOC not in quote boxes.

SlyJohnny:
Quote:
You wake up, or perhaps die, the sensation has elements of both. Your head is pounding like a soft-boiled egg being cracked open by a steel spoon. Your stomach seems to contain an enraged squirrel. Your tongue has apparently been replaced with a small strip of the Sahara desert, and the muscles of your limbs with moist twine.

In short, you are elaborately hung over.

Struggling your sight-holes open, you see by the over-bright and scratchy light that you are lying on the bunk of a small cabin of some kind, and wearing a uniform that is... dark-colored. There is a crest embroidered on it, but your vision is too bleary at the moment to make it out. A strangely-angled window admits the light, and shows only grey mist.

The pain in your head becomes much sharper at the sound of a series of brief detonations. Either you are under artillery bombardment, or someone is knocking on the cabin door.

SlyJohnny's starting hand is:
• King/20 of Swords
• 8 of Swords
• 9 of Wands
• 6 of Wands
• 4 of Pentacles


Thaluikhain:
Quote:
Your awareness is vague. In the distance, spotlights stab into the night sky, and irregular flashes of light mark the horizon. You hear the rumble of distant bombs, and the faint pop-pop-pop of bursting flak.

A pressure on your chest and shoulders makes you aware that you are strapped into the cockpit of a fighter 'plane. The cockpit window is shattered, and broken shards lie in your lap and on the floor. You smell fuel on the air. Over your shoulder, you hear the crackle of flames.

You have crashed! If you do not escape soon, you will burn to death!

Thaluikhain's starting hand is:
• King/20 of Wands
• Knight/14 of Wands
• 6 of Wands
• Queen/16 of Cups
• 7 of Swords


Darth Rabbitt:
Quote:
Your eyes open to see the frosty surface of a cryo-freeze pod door, which slowly begins to yawn outward. Your mind is foggier than your breath, but as the last vestiges of cold-sleep drift away, identity returns. You are Kyle Ripper, deep-space salvager. As you step from the pod, you hear the faint whine of the servos in your powerful cyber-arms. The cockpit of a scout ship, even your own Red Lance, has little room for stretching, alas.

A glance at the instruments sends tingles down your spine before you quite realize what the readings mean. The Red Lance's autopilot has docked your ship with a huge hulk, adrift in deep space. The computer is spitting out its usual list of complaints about the target: structural instability, hull leaks, space diseases, alien lifeforms, the usual; but two things catch your attention. First, the hulk has - for now - a breathable atmosphere on board. Second, it's design is... totally unknown to your databases.

The Ripper has been fishing for wrecks in space for years, and never dared to hope for an opportunity like this. A huge ship, maybe from an undiscovered species, holding who knows what cargo and tech secrets? The airlock is calling to you, even as the last feeble objections of the cowardly computer - rad levels, grav distortions - sputter to a halt.


DR's starting hand is:
• Knight/14 of Pentacles
• 2 of Pentacles
• 10 of Wands
• 5 of Swords
• 2 of Cups
_________________
"Now that we've determined that up to π angels can dance on the head of a pin, how do we determine the specific number (or fraction) of angels dancing?"
"What if angels from another pin engage them in melee combat?"


Last edited by angelfromanotherpin on Tue Jan 10, 2017 5:41 am; edited 1 time in total
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SlyJohnny
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

((Put that twenty of swords into trace))

I rise slowly, cautiously, letting my throbbing head acclimatize to the fact it has to move around now. I make a noise of acknowledgement at the door, a grunt or a groan, and look blearily around for a wash basin in the cabin, or anything else that promises cold water.
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Thaluikhain
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Put 20 of wands into trace, and then use it to try and tear free and escape.
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

SlyJohnny:
Quote:
The room spins and shifts as you get up, but you spot a basin on a small table. At your grunt, the door opens, and a young man in a sailor's outfit comes in. He is somewhat out of breath.

"Hauptmann Grubel has killed Ludwig," he says, panting. "Now he wants to see you." He and another sailor enter the cabin and take you by the arms. "You'll hide, and I'll tell Grubel we couldn't find you."

They attempt to lead you from the cabin.

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Thaluikhain:
Quote:
A French-accented voice says, "Do not struggle, Monsieur, I will help you." However, by the time the beret-wearing man with a knife has made it to you, you have already slashed your harness away with a shard of glass.

You clamber out and run into the dark, feeling the heat of your 'plane fireballing behind you. You are slightly dizzy, perhaps a concussion from the crash?

"Hurry, Monsieur!" cries your companion. "The soldiers cannot help but see that, they will come."

You hear the roar of an engine, and see a truck approaching along a nearby road. Its blackout headlights are dimmed, but you clearly make out the silhouettes of armed men riding in the back. Your companion is leading you directly away from them to where, a few hundred yards away, squat the gates of a town.

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Thaluikhain
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Hmmm...I don't suppose I can identify the uniforms or the truck or the wreckage to see if I'm in 1940s France or some other time/place?

In any case, go with the French-accented man away from the soldiers, using Wand20 again.
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SlyJohnny
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

"Wait. Wait." I say, shaking the sailors off firmly. I need time to collect myself. Also, cold water.

I fumble around for a faucet or a pitcher at the basin. I grab a glass if there's one to be had, or just put my mouth to the running faucet otherwise. I drink deeply, and scrutinise myself and my uniform crest in the mirror as I do so. What the hell did I take last night?

I rise, looking around the room, starting with the bed. If this is regular habit for me, I might have some hangover cure lying within reach, something for my head. I look for anything else that might be useful, anything to give me a clue as to what my situation here is.

"How long do I have? Where is Grubel, right now?"

Are we at sea? Where do these assholes expect me to hide on a ship, if people are looking for me?

I glance at the strange window with a fraught expression, hoping it will explain everything.
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Darth Rabbitt
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

"This is too good an opportunity to pass," I mutter to myself. "But I should take a moment or two to prepare before boarding."

I put my Knight of Pentacles into trace, and then check the Red Lance for anything that might be of use to me or my salvage mission. And also check the computer for any relevant data beyond "it's dangerous out there."
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

SlyJohnny:
Quote:
The basin has a pitcher and glass nearby, but your desperate swallows are fruitless; the pitcher is emptied, and you feel as parched as before. The shaving mirror shows you to be in a low-necked, wide-lapel, gold-accented, indigo dress uniform. You read the mirrored crest with a little effort 'Luftschiff LZ 127.'

The window's weird angle was not an illusion of bleary vision, it slopes so that the view is out and down. Through a brief gap in the mist, you spy the unmistakable view of the ocean from far above. The slight shifting of the floor was not mere nausea; you are on an airship.

No pills or other cures are apparent, and your bed is a plain bunk of little note, except that it has obviously been slept on and not in. An officer's cap that matches your uniform lies brim up on the floor nearby.

The sailors grasp you again. "Sir, he'll be here at any moment!" Despite their obvious urgency, they only tug. Whatever rank you hold, its authority seems intact and the decision is plainly yours.


Thaluikhain:
There is a distinctly 1940s France thing going on, yes. For instance, your aviator's uniform includes leather headgear, big goggles, a dashing scarf, and a fur-collared flight jacket.
Quote:
You run towards the town. Almost immediately there are shouts from behind you, and the sound of booted feet in pursuit. You pat for your sidearm, but your holster flaps empty.

Even at night, the town is picturesque, with cobbled streets that wind up and down gentle hills, small townhouses and cottages, and larger buildings from the depths of history. Many plazas and intersections hold sculpted stone fountains. But the buildings are dark, the doors barred, the windows shuttered, and many are in poor repair.

You reach the gates well ahead of your pursuers. Your companion runs down an alley, waving for you to follow with one hand and pressing a finger to his lips with the other. But there are many streets to lose yourself in...


Darth Rabbitt:
Quote:
Your computer, finished with its nagging, has apparently decided to reboot in a fit of pique. No matter! Kyle Ripper needs no tools beyond his cyber-arms and keen intellect. Of course, a blaster rifle is a weapon, not a tool, so you retrieve your trusty Goliathon Mk VII from its rack beside the airlock before heading through.

The air on the hulk tastes musty and stale, but the Ripper has lived on worse. The entry passage is narrow, and the lights are dim and flickering; your shoulder beacons click on automatically. Large ducts run along the slime-coated walls, and the floor and ceiling are comprised of interlocking metal grillwork. Something like a rat with too many legs scurries past the grill beneath you.

A panel on the wall to your left lights up, and from it a pleasantly-accented voice asks, "Can I be of assistance?"

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SlyJohnny
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I stick my head out of the window, and make a sustained effort not to vomit at the vertigo this causes. I inspect the sides of the hull; both assessing my chances of escaping the cabin by scrambling along the side of it, and seeing if there is any evidence of smaller vehicles attached to it, something I could use to escape. I wonder if I feel I could even pilot a biplane, if there was one.

I leave the window swinging open, retrieve my cap from the floor and doff it, and consent follow the sailors.

"Why has Grubel killed Ludwig? What happened last night?"

I check my pockets as I move, wondering if I'm carrying anything enlightening.


Last edited by SlyJohnny on Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:09 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Darth Rabbitt
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Relying on my (assumed) scavenger's experience in dealing with shipboard computers, I first look around to check for any hidden turrets, cameras and/or other security measures that a large vessel might have. Then I answer to the panel, "Yes. Can you provide me with the name, cargo and mission of this vessel?"
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

SlyJohnny
Quote:
The icy gale outside cuts to the bone. Clinging to the outside of the hull at an intended access point might be doable, but there are no handholds outside your window, and in any case the frigid air and high winds could be rapidly fatal without better protection than you currently have. You do see some small depending structures dangling from the rear of the gondola, but nothing that immediately seems like an aircraft. You do have a vague sense that you could pilot a 'plane, although not with professional confidence.

Your pockets contain lint, an inch-long pencil, a slide rule, and a few ticket stubs, apparently for this vessel. They are dated: 18 Juli, 1936.

The sailors - crewmen, you suppose - hustle you out the door and into a narrow passage. One turns right and hurries away, the other leads you to the left, speaking low and rapidly.

"Herr Loeper – the Reich Governor – was found dead in his cabin. Grubel revealed himself as Gestapo, and suspects foul play. He has been questioning the passengers, brutally. When he laid hands on Fraulein Weiss, Ludwig protested. Grubel shot him dead! He says, that resistance means all the officers are suspects now."

The crewman pulls a steep gangway of shiny metal down from the ceiling and climbs it up to the next level. Far down the corridor behind you, you hear a voice raised in anger.


Darth Rabbitt:
Quote:
You see no sign of turret, sensor, field, or alarm. Onboard security measures appear to be either very inadequate or very well-hidden.

The pleasant voice continues calmly. "This vessel's name, converted into your language, is Divine Purgatory. I am not able to answer your other questions. May I direct you to a higher-rated node by a route free from hostile intruders?"
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SlyJohnny
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I linger behind, listening to the distant voice. I idly play with the slide rule, adjusting it in my hands, trying to evoke a sense of familiarity with it. What do I use it for? What is my role on this vessel?

((Do I need to initiate a roll, ever, or do I play cards only in response to challenges? By the way, how old did I look in the mirror? Or is my appearance up to me?))


Last edited by SlyJohnny on Tue Jan 10, 2017 11:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

SlyJohnny:
I'm not sure what you mean by 'need.' If you try something that's actually difficult or opposed, I'll let you know. If you think the task is obviously difficult or opposed, feel free to save time and declare your card play along with the action - if the difficulty turns out to be illusory, obviously you won't have to pay the resources.

You are an able-bodied human adult somewhere in your 30s. Further details are up to you.

Quote:
As you fiddle with the tool, the yelling fades away. You are having the strongest memory, a flood that sweeps your thoughts away. A stream of advanced mathematics fills your mind. You recall charts studied over late night coffee, and courses figured to the nth decimal place marked out on them. Spherical trigonometry. Celestial navigation.

You are a navigator.

You snap back to full awareness at the sound of a blow striking flesh and a cry of pain; the voices have stopped. In the same instant, the metal gangway rises from the deck before you, apparently snapping closed by itself. You must act quickly if you are to follow the crewman to the upper deck.

Catching the gangway before it closes is a Swords challenge, although of course you can do something else if you want.
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SlyJohnny
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I shake my head at the ascending gangplank as if I'm telling it "no", trying to get ahold of my slowly mounting sense of dread. I look up for the crewman and wave him away if he's still visible, trying to give off an air of authority and a self-assurance in my decision that I don't feel.

I turn away and move down the corridor towards the original source of the voices, trying to make them out, should they pick up again. Did one of the voices seem like it could be Grubel's? I try to remember the man, call his face and voice and personality to mind.


Last edited by SlyJohnny on Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:45 am; edited 1 time in total
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Thaluikhain
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I continue to follow the French man for now. I also discretely look for insignia on my uniform. When I've got a moment and he's not paying attention, look for an identity tag or personal documentation.

(Did I see what type of helmets the soldiers chasing me we wearing? The main powers of that era had distinctive helmets, but I can't remember off the top of my head what the French ones looked like, unless they still had those fireman looking ones. Also, am I wearing a parachute? I think fighter pilots wore theirs, bomber crew had them close to hand. There's probably a nice survival kit in the plane I've left behind, but contemporary survival films always mention lots of uses for parachutes.)
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Darth Rabbitt
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

"Go ahead," I tell the voice. I furtively grip my blaster, lest the voice is actually attempting to lead me into a trap, the ship malfunctions, or I come across anything that looks dangerous.
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

SlyJohnny:
Quote:
The gangway closes with a clang of finality. As you turn and walk towards where the argument seemed to be happening, you consider the name Grubel. Nothing. You have no associations, except a vision of the black SS uniform. He was undercover, would he have even changed into it yet?

Your headache and dizziness are starting to recede.

The corridor is long, for an airship companionway, but not that long. You pass various crew cabins, and come to the door of the dining room. There has been no sign of what happened to the crewman who came this way. A furtive glance through the door's porthole reveals a few of the passengers, men and women in elegant clothing. None are familiar. Seated at the long rectangular table or standing at the sideboards, they are not socializing, but seem merely to be drinking or smoking in anxious silence.


Thaluikhain:
The helmets were distinctively German. You are not wearing a 'chute.
Quote:
The only insignia you can find is an iron-on patch on your jacket; it depicts a skeleton riding a falling bomb. You can't find any dog tags, but perhaps the chain snapped in the crash and they're slithering around inside your flight suit. When you get a little more respite you can check the backup tags in your boot.

Your companion leads you down side streets, past one man sitting on his stoop, plucking a mandolin as if trying to use the flak and bombs as percussion accompaniment. He holds up a hand to stop you, and you see that on a larger road ahead, a Wehrmacht officer is leading a patrol past you.

You have the opportunity to notice something here. Trying to do so is a Cups challenge.


Darth Rabbitt:
Quote:
A soft whirring noise from boot-level announces the arrival of a small servo-bot, resembling a fat silvery disk about a foot across, rolling on tiny wheels. "Please follow me," it says, in precisely the same calm voice that the wall panel used. The servo begins to whir away at the pace of a brisk walk.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I follow the servo, still keeping an eye out for trouble and my blaster ready.
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SlyJohnny
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The time for subtlety disappeared with the opportunity for escape. I open the dining room door a crack.

"Where is Herr Groebel? Has anyone seen him?" I ask the nervous throng of passengers.
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Thaluikhain
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 2:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Ok, put the 16 of Cups into trace and then use that.
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

SlyJohnny:
Quote:
The passengers start at your address.

"I've seen entirely too much of him," says one, a balding middle-aged gentleman in a monocle. "I don't know where he is now, and I don't want to know."

"The last I saw of him, he went out that very door," says a young woman, her hand shaking as she takes a drag from her cigarette. "Come in, before he sees you."

"There are no laws anymore," says a younger man, holding an iced towel to his face. "No safety."

"Sir, you look most unwell," says a stocky matron, all fur and feathers, as she bustles over. "Come in, and let's have a look at you."

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Thaluikhain:
Quote:
You note an man watching you with overly-casual interest from a doorway. You give him a meaningful glare, and he withdraws sheepishly into the house.

The patrol past, your companion leads you across the road. The opposite alley takes a turn, and you almost run into a couple of Germans urinating against a wall. Their submachineguns are hanging loose from straps, and your companion launches himself, fists flying, in a surprise attack.

Punching the soldiers is a Wands challenge, if you want to join in.
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Darth Rabbitt:
Quote:
The servo bumbles across the floor ahead of you, trying to make inane small talk. "How has your wake-cycle been? Are you pair-or-multiply-bonded? What are the fortunes of your local recreation groups?" The Ripper doesn't waste his breath answering, it's clearly just a subroutine, the little gadget wouldn't really hear anything you said back anyway.

After interminable narrow corridors, you enter a truly vast vault. Looking up, the light from your shoulders peters out before revealing the ceiling. A strange sense of dread passes over you, a new and very distinct flavor. Have your years in tight spaces given you a touch of agoraphobia? Or maybe you saw movement in the shadows that didn't register consciously? The feeling passes, and you continue.

The servo leads you across the emptiness, and to another corridor, when it begins to run in tight circles and emit a tiny but piercing alarm. Dark shapes drop out of the overhead grillwork in the corridor, shiny-carapaced and many-armed. They lunge for you.

Fighting with your cyber-arms is a Wands challenge, fighting with your blaster or running away are Swords challenges.
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