26 September 2006

Shock: Actual Play - Lost In A Haze

My regular group played a first game of Shock: last night. After a bit of talking about themes we decided on philip K Dick style dystopian near future weirdness.

The games issues are: authoritarian government, individuality and the pharmaceutical industry.

The shocks are: dream monitoring, food additives and computer gestalt.

Praxis was divided into Combat vs Drugs and Corruption vs Law.

The characters were from all over society, from a government-subsidised secretly subversive artist to a freelance illegal propaganda programmer. By the time we had built the world and characters, we only had time to play through one scene each.

First was Goat, a bowling alley assistant. He had a conflict-free first scene in which he grabbed and concealed a pda from an assassinated businessman when he was supposed to be unblocking the toilets.

Next was Stan Myles, the propaganda hacker. He set up the scene as a shady deal in a cafe, but was interrupted by an alarm indicating that his secure data stores were under attack. He got moving to a computer terminal and tried to save his stuff from the attackers, who were revealed as the BATFP (Bureau of Alchohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Programming). A conflict had both him and the BATFP win, meaning that Myles saved his data but that the area is now physcially surrounded by a police swat team.

Then we went to Horatio Woo, an underground brain surgeon. He was in the middle of installing a brain shunt (allowing the user to avoid mandatory dream-monitoring devices). A mysterious antagonist sabotaged the power in the mobile surgery and a conflict ensued, which I can't quite remember the results of. Except that I'm pretty sure the guy undergoing surgery was okay. The identity of the attacker is still a mystery.

Next stop was Steve Perkins, middle manager at Halptmann Drugs Corp. He had just got home and was sitting down to do some extra work before dinner when he was interrupted by a violent protest. He called the cops, while the protesters tried to get into his apartment. It ended up with some protesters getting aggresive and Perkins sedating them before turning them over to the cops. Who or why they were there is as yet unknown.

And then to our government food additive drone, Richard Higgins. His antagonist, by the way, is the internal audit bureau. Nice. His scene involved an appointment with a dodgy food manufacturer followed by a surprise visit by an audit agent. Higgins tried to get the search stopped on a technicality but failed, inadvertantly letting slip some clues that he's not totally honest.

Finally, we went to Dave the Dope, our secretly subversive artist. We played through his new show's opening. It turned out that someone had sabotaged the promotional materials and advertising so nobody turned up (dates had been messed with). This wasn't so bad, but then the heat got turned up when a bomb was discovered in the factory. A conflict ensued with both sides winning - Dave got a big publicity boost due to the destruction of all his new works in the explosion.

As you can probably guess, we had a lot of fun. Any game that ends with anti-art terrorism is a winner in my book.

The rules worked well, although we had a few hiccups as is usual with a new system. I did have trouble with the book, though. It's very badly organised for looking up stuff in play. A few times we had questions that I am pretty sure are answered in there somewhere, but it was impossible to find them quickly in play. So we just made stuff up and carried on instead. I think I'll need to re-read and make a cheat-sheet before next time, however.

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