[Post-Apocalyptic] Furious Roads - Ness's Story
(05-16-2021, 11:45 AM)Semicolon Wrote: I'm a little curious to know if Clunkrock's telling the truth, because this seems too good to be true.

You might find these tables helpful for this type of situation. I refer to it as "My Favorite Rumour Table."  Most of the tool is irrelevant to this situation, but parts of it, mainly the reaction roll mechanic and the final truth table, could help keep the truth hidden a bit longer from you, the player, while offering some insight into the NPC's intentions and exactly in what way they are lying or telling the truth. I've had a lot of fun using it in my own campaigns.
(05-23-2021, 10:31 AM)Teviko604 Wrote: You might find these tables helpful for this type of situation.

Thanks for the suggestion.  I used the truthfulness table over on Ninja Chronos as a test run.  And it turns out the NPC was lying there, too!

So much duplicity...
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It's been a while since Ness had decent food to eat, and Clunkrock and company have a suspiciously copious amount of it.  I'm talking the good stuff, like quality-brand dog food, as well as dried and/or roasted varmint.  Clunkrock for his part seems fine with her eating her body weight in chow.  He uses the mealtime opportunity to quiz Ness about Mr. Tinker and where others might be found.

Ness is canny enough not to give everything away, but she has only a middling score in Cunning, so you have to forgive her if she's not one hundred percent sensible about what she does share.  Clunkrock now knows there are a couple people hiding — Mr. Tinker and Scuttle, natch — even if he doesn't know where they are.  And let's consider this: Clunkrock's not bone-stupid, and there can only be so many places within walking distance that provide enough shelter.  But Ness is more concerned about immediate issues, like eating as much as possible before hightailing it out of there.  Easy enough to do the former, but harder to do the latter when everyone's watching.

Eventually everyone has to rest, and Clunkrock's kind enough to provide her a semi-private place to lay her head.  He has water for washing up, too, if she wants.  A hell of a luxury in this blighted land.  How does Clunkrock rate all this?  Is it just because he's a black thumb, and their kind are as precious as the fuel which runs the vehicles they repair?

(9[d10]) Yes

Makes sense to me, oracle.  Let's continue.

The workshop quiets down, but Ness isn't going to go to sleep so easily.  There's also the question of whether she's been guarded.  Is she?

(5[d10]) Yes, but...

... the guard looks tired!  And if she waits long enough, and gives him no reason for alarm, he's going to fall asleep any minute now.  That'll be her cue to escape.

And so she waits.  Does it take long for the guard to nod off?

(3[d10]) No

Excellent, he said, rubbing his hands together.  Ness is finally catching a break after a lot of calamities.  Though calamities are what make the game interesting, right?

With all the stealth she can muster, Ness creeps from the little tent-structure Clunkrock allowed her to use.  I think it may be worth making a Deftness roll to be absolutely certain she doesn't wake the guard by accident.  So that'll be the usual two dice, plus one die for a high attribute (Deftness 5), and the Fate Die.

Here we go!

15 = 4[d6]+1[d6]+4[d6]+6[d6]

Wow, talk about having your bacon saved.  That's three failures, BUT the Fate Die overrides all others and it's a six.  That guarantees a positive outcome regardless of the rest.  So Ness is sneaking out when she accidentally bumps into something and makes a metal clanking noise, but the guard is so soundly asleep that he's undisturbed.  Whew.

Her next task is gathering useful (and edible) stuff for Mr. Tinker and Scuttle.  I'm not cruel enough to demand a string of rolls for that sort of thing, so Ness works quickly and quietly, getting some canned food and looking for medical supplies.  Though we have to bear in mind that she's not an organic mechanic, and she's a fifteen-year-old girl, so she's not the best judge of what's helpful.  I guess it's worth finding out if there's anything useful in the first place.

(1[d10]) No, and...

... what she does find shakes her to her very core.

She's searching Clunkrock's stores when she discovers a metal trap door of sorts leading to a chamber carved from the earth.  Back in ye olde days people used to use stone or earthen pits to keep food (relatively) cool in environments where they might otherwise spoil in a hurry.  It turns out Clunkrock's using the same technique for his collection of body parts.  Arms and legs, plus choice cuts of meat.  Some are salted, some hung to dry.  The whole pit smells of decay, though it's a controlled rot designed to keep the meat flavorful and, more importantly, non-toxic.

This game reminds me of the moment in the film Doomsday where the heroine encounters a graffito which says, PEOPLE HAVE ALWAYS EATEN PEOPLE.

Anyway, this story keeps coming around to cannibalism, and I'm not taking responsibility for that because the random tables are at fault.  Whatever the case, Clunkrock's got a lot of meat stored away, and Ness is horrified.  Is this corner of the wasteland truly so overrun with those who subsist on human flesh?  It seems so, though you have to wonder if Clunkrock himself indulges, since he has so much other stuff.

This seems like a good time to check for a nasty surprise, like the sudden appearance of Clunkrock or one of his men.  What say you, oracle?

(3[d10]) No

More good luck for Ness!  And it's pretty clear she needs to get the heck out of here before someone DOES figure out what she's doing and she ends up parted out in Clunkrock's meat locker.

And so she climbs up into the warship's superstructure, picking her way by the light of the stars, until she's completely clear of Clunkrock's guarded section.  She then flees across the desert back to the supermarket.  Though without any medical supplies to help Mr. Tinker, his situation isn't going to improve much.  In fact, did he survive the day?

(2[d10]) No

Ah, well, that solves that problem.  Ness returns to discover a distraught Scuttle mourning over Mr. Tinker's body.  All Ness can think about is how Clunkrock and his people would probably already have carved the man into pieces for storage.  That's not going to happen here, because she's not some kind of savage.  A crazie like all the other crazies out in the wasteland, but not THAT insane.

By this time it's got to be close to morning.  Scuttle needs to eat in order to gain strength, and then the two of them need to get out of there.  Where they go isn't as important as not being near to Clunkrock's warship when he discovers Ness gone and his stores robbed.  So Scuttle can eat her fill, but she needs to do it in a hurry.

Are they ready to head out before dawn?

(1[d10]) No, and...

... they hear the sound of an engine when first light breaks.  Ness climbs out onto the supermarket's broken roof to have a better vantage point.  Is it Clunkrock's men?

(6[d10]) Yes

It's the same vehicle which carried the procurement expedition.  It didn't take long for them to figure out what happened, it seemed, and they're determined to catch their thief.  Of all the things to abscond with in this world, there are two things worth killing for: food and fuel.  Ness knows this, and given what she saw back there, she knows what her fate will be if they catch her.

But are the men coming to the supermarket?  Like I said, there are limited places Ness and Scuttle could be, so it won't take a genius to narrow them down.  Still, this might not be their first choice for a search.  Is it?

(2[d10]) No

Ness watches as they pass out of sight.  She's gotten yet another reprieve in a string of lucky rolls that can't possibly last.  And now it's time for her and Scuttle to move out, taking as much of the potable water they can carry from the supermarket's source.  She has no possessions of her own after what's gone down in previous sessions, and Scuttle doesn't have much, either.  They're not going to be able to put up any real fight against these men if they're caught, that's for sure.

And we have a problem here: Ness has nowhere to go.  She doesn't know the region, and we've already determined that Scuttle isn't much help when it comes to anything.  So it seems to me there's only one real option, and that's going back to the raceway.

At first blush this seems like an insane thing to do, but it's the only guaranteed island of civilization Ness knows that's within distance of their capabilities and supplies.  And there's the possibility that they could avoid the masters of the raceway and connect with others who have the mobility to get them somewhere relatively safe.  It's a risk, a BIG risk, but it's less so than wandering out into the wastes and hoping to run across something.

So the decision is made: head back and hope for the best.  And also hope they can make it before Clunkrock's men catch up to them.
The pressing question involving Ness right now is whether she and Scuttle can make it back to the raceway without Clunkrock's men finding them.  So... do they?

(6[d10]) Yes, but...

... things are more complicated than that.

It's the second day after Ness and Scuttle fled the supermarket — remember that it took Ness days on foot to reach it in the first place — and the sound of engines carries.  The complication will hit in just a second, so hang on.  First Ness and Scuttle have to hide, if they can.  Are there any good spots for concealment?

(8[d10]) Yes

They secret themselves away in the ruins of an old house.  It's not the sort of thing that'd provide shelter, but it's good enough for their purposes now.  From here they can observe the men who made up Clunkrock's procurement expedition, now looking to procure something a bit fleshier.  BUT that's not all they see, because heading across the land in the opposite direction is a caravan Ness has come to know all too well: the slave train of Count Eater and Imperator Chain.  They  haven't stopped looking since the disaster at the raceway.

It's a tossup as to who's the greater evil here.  Eater and his people are cannibals, as Clunkrock and company seem to be, but they're also slavers, so they don't just consume the ones they capture.  There's a chance, however slight, of making it off the dinner menu.

Still, Ness isn't going to jump up and flag Count Eater down.  Doubtless Imperator Chain, whom you may recall has it out for Ness, won't treat her so kindly when next they meet.  Though we don't know how he and the others are going to treat Clunkrock's men.  Do they clash?

(2[d10]) No

Interesting.  When it seems the two groups might come into conflict, they instead meet on the wasteland flats and convene some sort of meeting.  Now things begin to make some kind of sense.  Clunkrock gets most of his provisions as payment for his talents as a black thumb, but there's also something else: he's trading meat to people like Count Eater for still more supplies and parts.  Ness can't know all this, of course, but now you do.

This makes the situation even more perilous, as the two groups coordinate to search for Ness and Scuttle.  Hidden where they are, they have a good chance of avoiding detection and, as much as I hate to do it, this is a situation where Ness's trait, "in the right place," works to her advantage.

Still, there's a possibility they can be discovered, however slight.  And that calls for a roll.  Ness's Cunning is 3, so there's no advantage there, but she has her trait, so that adds a die.  And let us not forget that Fortune Die!  That makes, what?  Four dice altogether?  Here we go.

15 = 6[d6]+2[d6]+2[d6]+5[d6]

One success is all Ness needed, and that extra die didn't help much.  The cannibal slavers and their motorized companions come close to uncovering Ness's hiding place, but they don't succeed.  Too many hidey-holes and not enough men to cover them.

The only thing Ness and Scuttle can do is wait the bad guys out, so they do.  After a while the searchers part with what appears to be an agreement to reunite, as some of Count Eater's men go with Clunkrock's.  But I want to see if the cannibal slavers set up camp nearby, because they've spent the day searching and are probably tired and hungry.

(9[d10]) Yes

As the day begins to fail, and the wasteland grows dark, Count Eater and his men set up camp for the night.  This means sentries, so it's possible they might spot Ness and Scuttle when they move.  However, staying in one place for two days straight is a bad idea.

It occurs to me that Count Eater may be more cunning than I gave him credit for, and he's sent out a couple of men to search in the dark, just in case something like this happens.  But I want to be sure.

(10[d10]) Yes, and...

... Ness and Scuttle stumble onto them when they decide to make their move!  Unarmed and no physical match for Count Eater's men regardless, the only thing they can do is run.  Two cannibal slavers raise a whoop and come charging after them.

The only advantage Ness and Scuttle possess is their smaller size and quicker reflexes.  They're teen girls, and these are wasteland-scoured men.  They're good at brute force, and not so much wasteland parkour.  In a flash, Ness and Scuttle make to lose the men in the tangled ruins of this neighborhood in which they hid during the day.  But now I'm wondering if they send out an alarm.

(9[d10]) Yes

One of the men fires a flare gun into the sky, illuminating everything in splashes of red.  Imagine the blood-colored illumination as the flare slowly drifts down from the sky on its parachute, creating uneven and flickering shadows.

Can they lose themselves once more, given that they don't have the night to rely upon anymore?  I'm going to add a die for "in the right place," but SUBTRACT a die because of the advantage Count Eater's men have working by flare-light.  At least until it goes out, which won't be long.  Though I guess there's nothing stopping them from firing another if the situation warrants it.

14 = 6[d6]+5[d6]+3[d6]

By the way, I'm rolling for Ness on behalf of Scuttle, as well.  It seems like the thing to do, given this is Ness's story.  If Scuttle were operating independently, I'd roll for her specific results.  For simplicity's sake, I'm treating them like a unit with Ness as the leader.  And her being leader has paid off!  Hustling through broken uprights and around crumbling walls and beneath collapsed beams of rotting roofs, Ness and Scuttle manage to break line of sight with the slavers and confuse the situation.

But here's the thing: these guys aren't THAT stupid, and they know Ness and Scuttle can't have gotten very far, even if they don't know exactly where to look.  And Count Eater's camp has been roused by the flare, so more are on their way with torches and even the odd flashlight using batteries that haven't yet died in this godawful waste.

Is there anywhere Ness can go to escape with Scuttle?

(7[d10]) Yes

Pure luck reveals a depression in the floor of one of the ruined buildings to be more than a depression, but a section of large piping that's broken open.  It's dark in there, and weirdly moist, but it's a damned sight better than staying exposed on the surface.  It may even be too small for the grown men of Count Eater's camp to fit, should they find it.

Scuttle is reluctant to climb inside, but Ness insists and they enter this cramped and lightless space.  Ness feels her way along, hoping nothing will bite her or cut her, and also hoping the pipe actually LEADS somewhere and doesn't just stop.

I guess that begs two questions for the oracle: 1) is there anything harmful in there, and 2) does the pipe go somewhere?  Let's check.

(5[d10]) No

There is nothing harmful in there, at least so far as Ness and Scuttle go.  It's dirty and the interior of the pipe beneath their hands and knees has a gross, slimy quality because there's the slightest bit of water still flowing through the length of this thing, but it's not dangerous.  Dangerous is the men on their trail.

Speaking of, and before we ask the second question from above, I need to know if the cannibal slavers find the pipe.

(2[d10]) No

Thank goodness for small favors, right?  They may be in a disgusting pipe running underground to potentially nowhere, but at least it's better than being roasted on a spit.

Which brings us to Question #2: does this pipe lead to something?

(9[d10]) Yes +Twist: Emotional event / Changes the goal

They're still crawling when something makes a cracking sound and the pipe shifts beneath them.  Ness says to speed up, though they're both going about as fast as they can, given the space.  But it's too late, as the pipe gives way, disintegrating beneath them from corrosion or long-ago damage or who knows what.  Ness manages to grab hold of the edge and not plummet, but Scuttle DOES fall, her cry moving away rapidly as she descends.  A loud impact follows.  She's hit something hard.

Silence.  Ness calls for Scuttle, but hears nothing.  Flailing around in the dark, her free hand connects with piping along a concrete wall.  She's able to grab hold enough that it's safe to let go of the broken pipe.  Now she's clinging to a vertical surface with a potentially long drop beneath her.  Or maybe not that far, as it didn't take long for Scuttle to crash.

She begins her descent.  And, no, I'm not making a bunch of rolls because she's taking her time and there's no immediate threat to make this riskier than climbing down a tree.  I may consult the oracle a lot, but that's because I'm looking for story guidance.  Rolling for every little thing is dull and, I think, takes agency from the player in favor of random number generation.  That's no fun.  I've played with a few GMs like that.

Lower.  Lower.  Ness thinks she might hear Scuttle's labored breathing in the dark, but she can't be sure because her own breath and heartbeat are so loud.  And then she extends a foot to discover a solid surface.  It holds her weight.  Soon she's able to let go of the pipes entirely and stand.

Wherever they are, it's large because the echoes of every sound are distinct.  Ness CAN hear Scuttle and she searches the shadows to find her new companion.  The flooring beneath her is a steel grid, rough with rust.  And then Ness finds Scuttle.

Without any sort of light to see by, assessing Scuttle's condition is going to be tough.  But Ness can at least check for broken bones or obvious bleeding.

Broken bones?

(6[d10]) Yes, but...

... it's not a compound fracture.  Her arm has an unpleasant crookedness, that's for sure, and touching it causes enough pain that Scuttle is roused.


(10[d10]) Yes, and...

... it's soaked Scuttle's side.  Something hard pierced her when she fell.  Maybe a hunk of broken steel?  Who can tell?  All we know is that Ness is going to have to be an organic mechanic after all and get this situation sorted out before Scuttle bleeds to death.  She also knows that a broken limb not properly set will heal in bad way.

Ness wears double layers against heat, sweat and blowing sand.  The shirt she wears over the other can be shredded, which she does now.  Seeking out the wound, Ness tries to find a way to bind it up and stop the worst of the bleeding.

I think THIS calls for a roll.  She's doing something she's not skilled in doing, and she's doing it in the dark by feel alone.  That subtracts a die and leaves one plus the Fortune Die.  Let's do this.

8 = 2[d6]+6[d6]

The Fortune Die saves the day.  While Ness would have otherwise failed, she's bailed out by pure luck and manages to get the makeshift bandages tied into place around Scuttle's skinny waist and keep her from bleeding to death.  But the arm is going to be a different story.  There's no way she can deal with that in these conditions.  For one thing, what's she going to use for a splint?  Exactly.

Whatever she does next, she can't wait forever.  She and Scuttle agree to move on as best they can.  Somewhere there has to be a door or another passage or some way to get out, because who builds a room full of pipes underground with no egress?

Supporting Scuttle's weight, Ness seeks out the wall and finds it again.  Then they begin a methodical circuit of the room, which they discover is full of all sorts of pipes and valves.  Clearly this is some kind of pump room, or central location for the underground system which once served this area.

Do they find the way out?

(10[d10]) Yes, and...

... it's a concrete staircase.  They work their way up, step by step, until they reach a door.  Unlocked?

(5[d10]) Yes, but...

... it's jammed by something and only a little bit open.  Ness is going to need to pry it farther, and that means finding a tool in the dark, with absolutely no idea where to look.  I kind of wish I hadn't asked the oracle anything.

Well, if she has to look, she's going to look.  What say you, oracle?  Are you going to cut her a break?

(1[d10]) No, and...

... in the course of searching, the floor grating collapses, spilling Ness down an incline and into a few inches of nasty water.  It collects here, I suppose, piped in from somewhere despite age and disuse.  Ness is soaked with the filthy stuff.  Who knows what kind of weird parasites or plain old bacteria live in this muck?  The radiation of this wasted world hasn't killed everything.  There are still people, after all.

She and Scuttle are able to keep track of each other by sound.  But one has to wonder if the ruckus has stirred up anything down here.

(2[d10]) No

Wipe your brow, Semicolon.  Ness isn't in THAT much trouble.  And she can renew her search for some kind of tool.  Any luck?

(2[d10]) No

Okay, this is bad.  Ness works her way back to Scuttle and ponders their conundrum.  If she can't fashion a pry-bar from something, she's either going to have to muscle it open or find a way to squeeze through.  Muscling it open isn't realistic, given her size and Brawn, but it's possible with her Deftness 5 (it's her best stat) that she could make it through the opening to the other side.  And then what?  We'll worry about that when it happens.

So the decision is made.  Ness is going to squeeze through and look for a way to get the door open so Scuttle can escape with her.  Though it doesn't count enough to get her an extra die, the slimy nastiness she has all over her will help when slithering through the jammed door.  So here we go.

21 = 6[d6]+5[d6]+6[d6]+4[d6]

Two successes!  Nice.  Ness expels all her breath and tries to think small as she pushes and claws and wriggles her way through the opening.  Though it looks like she might get stuck, she doesn't, and soon she's in the pitch blackness on the other side, as opposed to the original pitch blackness.

Can she move what's blocking the door?

(3[d10]) No

You are cruel, oracle.

It's a collapsed ceiling support, and it has the door completely blocked.  There's absolutely no way to budge it.  Maybe if Ness had time, tools and a better Brawn.  None of those things are available.

And here we have what we call a moral dilemma.  Ness already abandoned one companion to his fate — remember Colossus? — and now she could easily leave another.  But here's the difference between Scuttle and Colossus: Scuttle is who Ness used to be.  Because Ness wasn't always a hardened survivor.  Once she was just as feral and raw as Scuttle, and it's only through luck and determination that she made it to fifteen.  Scuttle is her age and only just starting her life as a wasteland crazie.  If Ness leaves, it's like leaving herself.

What should she do?  What CAN she do?

I suppose that's a question for next time.

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