We checked into the Hotel Tomo, where BoyCon would continue and got our fill of Anime themed hospitality. After some board games and awesome pizza at Infero Pizza, we settled in for a nice game of FAE, set in an early (2025) Cyberpunk setting.
Josh, perhaps because he knows a few things about environmental studies, proposed the most awesome segue between life as we know it and a grim cyberpunk reality. From his description – which included Greece exiting from the Euro Union, global warning advancing faster that society could bulwark themselves against, and international theft of Cyber-ware trade secrets – I imagined that he had been reading Cyberpunk settings or work on this one for quite some time. Nope, he had thought up all of it on the drive in that morning.
Josh opened us up playing three security guards at a skyplex owned (at least in part) by Bio Gen. The twin skyplexes security network has been under attack by an invasive virus, and the power to both buildings had just gone out. We were there to keep people calm in a time of possible panic.
There really wasn’t much panic. People leaving to get a pizza until the power came back on mostly…. Until a scientist walked out of the elevator (emergency power) and while we were distracted by her long legs and feigned dripping of her badge, her built-like-Fabio boyfriend came charging out of the elevator and cold-clocked one of us!
After a scuffle they escaped into the night and we faded to black over the urban swamp of LA 2025.
Josh put out one setting aspect and then asked for others. His was.
Urban swamps surround worlds largest port
The port in LA was built up, but everything around it has been submerged as the tides rose, leaving most of LA a swampland. Many buildings were abandoned on the lower floors (as they were under water) and the 3rd floor was the new 1st!
We made up some new stories, added some details about the state of things and then decided that once a person had a certain amount of their body replaced by Cyberware (3/5), they stopped being recognized as citizens with rights, and were indentured servants to the company that owned their Cyberware. Second class citizens known as “fractions”.
Humanity for Sale (the 3/5th Law)
Character creation wen’t beautifully smoothly, as I think it always will in FAE. Josh mentioned that both Cyberware (Obvious in this setting, no wetware or concealed cyber components) and being wired (able to jack directly into the “Net”) required and aspect that defined us as such, and then allowed us to spend down some of our refresh for cyber/wired stunts.
I thought that was a nice bit of mechanical crunch to signify the difference between the pure humans, and those that had been modified by nascent technology. He also allowed two stunts to “stack” so long as they were Cyber or Wired. So, for instance you could have “Because of my Hyper-Kinetic Cyber Arm I have +4 to Forcefully Attack when fighting in close quarters” and have that take up two stunt slots. Some pretty hefty might there.
He also said we could define said cyberware in play, which was great, because I got to add all the flavor I wanted and then define it as a stunt as needed, which leads to our characters.
I played a Grexit (Greek Euro Zone Exit Refugee) loaded up with Cyberware by jointly held corporations. I think my name was George, but I went by SNix, a shortening of the Serial Number SN68v4, which identified George as corporate property.
Justin was playing Hu Kai, a freelance Net Runner associated with a grey market think tank called the Walled Garden. Hu Kai was deep in debt (to various organizations) but was a genius prized for his security compromising skills.
Zach played a fixer named Schmitt. He owned a swamp boat (the Schmitty) and was friends with everyone… literally everyone. Schmitt helped people find people. He was an addict though, hooded on memory stims, and often pursuing a high at the extent of all else.
The play is the thing
Josh started us off with a job. We were hired to recover stolen property (reference the prelude above). I won’t go into the details of the plot since he might run it again, but here are some of the highlights of play.
The system was really seamless. We typically used overcome obstacles to deal with trouble, and compels to get into it. Josh made sure to play up our trouble aspects (Hu Kai’s debt, SNix’s servitude, and specifically the hit of the entire Library of Congress in three seconds, Schmitt’s addition). They were both prompts to action as well as complications along the way.
We started the the game late so it was a shortish session, but in that time we saw the inner workings of Josh’s world concept, finished the job, and had some fun character development.
Thoughts on the game
FAE once again impresses me with simple and elegant character creation.
Josh’s ideas for the setting, though not all new, formed a comprehensive picture that was just awesome. Just imagine if everything we were afraid might go wrong (global warming accelerating, privatization of all government services, and the denigration of human rights) did… and then did some more. Josh had it spot on.
Playing a pariah character who really didn’t accept that he was any different than anyone else was fun times. Legally he was bound to service, but this was new to him and he wasn’t ready to accept it.
The wide latitude given to approaches in FAE is great for flavoring your actions, whether they be using cyber-eyes to scan and record a transaction or Future Facebook to make friends with people in real life, it was easy to fit the fiction into the mechanics and back again.