Saturday, 4 February 2017

SNS 2: Uplifted Cat Seeks Legal Rights

SATURDAY NIGHT SCREAMSHEET 2: here at Vircades Project we spent good money on a subscription to the a time-traveller's news digest, but all we got in return a bunch of celebutante garbage. Still, I was able to turn it into an adventure, below the jump...

FEATURING: Lawfare! Cats! Keratinised penile spines!

KASHA SEEKS LEGAL INHERITANCE
Network 60 Daily Update


...legal complications following the death of Enrique Solo (54). The SoloGene founder, eccentric billionaire and uplift pioneer left no will. His two children (Leo and America Solo, both 14) and his former partner (Ms Jara Mitchell of Fort Worth TX, 42) have both put forward claims on his estimated $4.5 billion worth, while contesting a number of patents with SoloGene.


The intervention of Kasha has further complicated the affair. The celebrity cat has made claims to membership in the Solo family and produced verified online message transcripts indicating that Mr Solo wished him to have an inheritance. He further alleges that SoloGene is responsible for wholesale tampering with Mr Solo’s personal cloud server data store, removing evidence of Mr Solo’s intentions. Independent security experts confirm that some tampering certainly took place but cannot clearly identify a culprit. Kasha’s belief in SoloGene’s complicity is backed by the chat logs, in which Mr Solo himself alleged that SoloGene was intentionally acting to prevent further development of the cat uplift patent.


INVESTORS PRESS SOLOGENE FOR ANSWERS
Singapore Review


...Following the announcement of the successful Kasha project, investors have eagerly awaited the release of a successful cat uplift product onto the market. Indeed, the original announcement caused SoloGene stock to rise almost 430% and funded their major expansion through the last twelve quarters. Few of these investors expected immediate results and were simply happy to see SoloGene remain profitable through its period of expansion.


Five years later, shareholder patience has run out. Many admit to investing out of a simple desire to see uplifted cats reach the market, rather than any economically pragmatic reason. The “cat fancier” faction among the shareholders was willing to live with low dividends and high research costs in pursuit of this goal. But with no obvious progress yet made, they want answers from the board. Kasha’s recent accusations have fuelled a fire among investors that may yet burn SoloGene to the ground.


PETULANT AMERICA SOLO DEMANDS “SENTIENT CAT DISSECTION”
Outraged Citizen Monthly


America Solo shocked the world this morning with claims that Kasha the uplifted cat is “nothing but a fraud.” “My father was not an honest man. The so-called uplift-cat is nothing but a bio-computer AI implanted in a bio-drone. Impressive tech but no more sentient than a Mr Wacko(™) doll.” She further called upon Kasha to submit to medical testing to disprove her allegations. Kasha’s lawyers replied that such testing could not be adequately carried out without invasive surgery and severe risk to their client. Kasha himself used last's nights Tonight Show appearance to make wry comments about America Solo’s own intellectual faculties. “She loves Bop Metal, after all…”


Saturday, 28 January 2017

SNS 1: Are Teenage Drone Pilots Child Soldiers?


I always loved the "Screamsheet" adventure format in the back of Cyberpunk 2020, sooooo:

SATURDAY NIGHT SCREAMSHEET: Vircades Project compiles the news from the grimdark future so you don't have to, sifting out adventure opportunities from all the trash and misinformation.


There's an adventure outline beneath the jump. This week - kidnapping, dixie gangsters and teenage drone pilots!


FIGHTING CONTINUES AROUND CHOLUTECA
Islamic Republic News Service

...government forces routed from their fortifications under ferocious strafing fire from insurgent “Fatbed” gunbirds. The rebels drones even succeeded in downing one of the government’s antiquated Cessna A-37s over the city itself.

It was only by evening that government forces rallied. Electrothermal anti-aircraft cannon brought up by Primeval corporation mercenaries forced the gunbirds to retreat, while a counter-attack by “stalker” type drones stalled the guerilla advance. But with EMP mortar rounds raining down on the city limits, it seems clear that the Honduran army has a tough fight on its hands if it means to keep the rebels from cutting the Pan-American Highway by week’s end.

ARE THE CHAEBOLS HIRING GAMERS TO FIGHT THEIR WARS?
GamerGateWay.com

...won the 2023 Sparkle Vampire World Wars World Championship under the moniker Twilight<3 before being drafted into the Korean Airforce like so many other championship gamers.

Following his return,Twilight<3 surprised many by choosing not to return to the pro-gamer scene, instead hiring out to the private sector. For the corporations, gamers provide a source of trained and battle proven talent. Col. Mikaelova notes that “the interfaces used in modern drone swarms are, if anything, a generation or three behind the newest games. These days, most combat drone AIs and pilot aid systems use code originally built for the entertainment sector.”

His suicide has prompted renewed calls among veterans organisations for better psychological support for drone operators. Twilight<3 is known to have taken part in LG Yeongdeok’s oil platform security operations in the Gulf of Mexico, targeting “Wolverine” insurgents in southern Texas. “He spent days at a time monitoring terrorists and terrorist sympathisers in their family homes, waiting for the moment to strike. There’s an intimacy to this kind of operation unprecedented in the history of warfare” claimed…

GAMER HERO? YOU COULD BE A WAR HERO! ENTER THE TOURNAMENT, WIN A JOB!
Miami Noticeboard

Age 14+, tournament entrants must possess an Immortal Sanguine Crystal Medallion in Sparkle Vampire World Wars or a platinum rating in Titancraft. Must be willing to move to Miami for at least one two-year tour of duty. 35k annual salary and benefits - see below for contract details.

TEENAGE DRONE PILOTS ARE CHILD SOLDIERS, RULES UNITED NATIONS
Auckland Post

“The high rates of PTSD among drone operators going right back to the Obama era should prove to any honest observer that these people are as much “combatants” as soldiers on the frontline. To say otherwise is frankly disrespectful to a generation of American veterans. If we forbid children from taking part in other forms of combat, why should we tolerate this?”

[...]

The Secretary General’s comments were ignored by all parties.

Monday, 5 December 2016

I search the [Cyber] Corpse


The other day I walked past the most embarrassed man in southern England. He was wearing a kevlar vest, a riot helmet and carrying a complicated neo-club in one hand. The other hand was cuffed to a fortified payroll briefcase. He was standing next to the doors of an armoured van belonging to an internationally regarded security firm, clearly locked out of his own vehicle.

The van was screaming - well, loudly enunciating, like a female Avery Brooks - "HELP, HELP. VEHICLE UNDER ATTACK! PLEASE CALL THE POLICE. PLEASE CALL THE POLICE" loud enough to penetrate the walls of the bank across the street. By the time I left the bank minutes later three police cars were hurtling down the high-street, past laughing office workers and startled grandmothers.
________________________________________________________________________________

So my colleague in OSR-damaged cyberpunk Geist has a new blog: Neural Archive. He's been putting together ideas (and beautiful pages) for a cyberpunk City Kit - we've been talking Vornheim and science fiction and...

There's brainstorming on-going at the VFTE forums.

There's a small sample to the left. I'd encourage you to visit the blog and see the full pages, let them speak for themselves. Check it out! Add him on G+ (where he goes by the name "Geist" because he's more mysterious-than-thou).

There's lots to say about the a "city kit" for cyberpunk. That's for another time. Right now, this post is all about corpses.

Fancy looting some bodies before the meat wagons and the scavengers reach them? Need a D66 loot generator?

The main take-away from writing - and this has been a brainstorming session, more than anything else - is that it could/should have been so much longer...

Here's a printable googledoc.

ROLL A D66.


D66
I SEARCH THE [CYBER] CORPSE
11
Red candle dedicated to Santa Muerte, to find and hold onto love.
12
Work-in-progress death haiku scrawled on scrap paper.
13
Pack of “most-wanted” playing cards marked with faces identifying members of organisation allied or affiliated with a PC (3 of Hearts).
14
Apparently real Human eyeball in a climate controlled, completely transparent jar. Fixed angle. Residential address on packet.
15
Half-taken packet of pills for virulently contagious illness.
16
Competition winner’s back-stage pass to highly rated late night talk show.
21
Unmarked Clip-on IFF tag. Bearer identified as friendly until identified as hostile by human oversight by autonomous drones owned by 1-2 Police, 3-4 Major Corporation, 5-6 Local Cartel. IFF code expires after D3 days - requires quantum passcode provided by central server to update.
22
Tourist’s guidebook to this sprawl written in foreign language.
23
Body-lotto ticket - 25% chance that the owner’s death resulted in a winning number.
24
Gold plated bullet inscribed with chintzy script, serial number “2 of 5.”
25
Uncomfortable quantity of pink hair dye.
26
Scrawled jelly-fish recipe - motherly handwriting, champion taste.
31
Gold candle dedicated to Santa Muerte, to find wealth and prosperity.
32
Bag of contaminated drugs, three doses.
33
Annotated copy of Neuromancer. Line [D20] of page [3D20 + D12] marked for special attention.
34
Glass vial containing a live spider and eggs, not native breed.
35
3d printed 40mm figure of the a PC’s contact, exaggerated physical characteristics.
36
41
Photograph of PC printed on folded paper.
42
Illegally fabricated copy of police-issue robo-cab hailer thumb - can use to flag down passing robo-cabs and ride for free. Roll D6 - on roll of 1, codes have updated and vehicle secretly alerts police, locks riders inside when they arrive.
43
Emergency Medical Aid membership card belonging to person with different face, gender and complexion to the corpse.
44
Key to railway safety deposit box.
45
Brightly painted pollution filter mask, gang colours.
46
Unlocked datastick containing 200GB of cult Sludge Metal albums.
51
Strictly offline samizdat political pamphlet for luddite political organisation.
52
Shark Fetus in a test tube hung from a necklace.
53
Zen Prayer Beads - tactical ‘runners brand, non reflective material.
54
Creepy Lover’s Pendant - half of a matched pair which changes colour depending on physical distance from the bearer of the other.
55
Vial of water from the Colorado River, religious iconography.
56
Love letter from a ranking Syndicate leader.
61
Pristine physical copy of a classic album, obsolete format.
62
1kg packet of “flour” - (covert biological feedstock, identifiable by tech and medical specialists). Pre-programmed shape will emerge if introduced to the correct household chemical.
63
“Fitbit” style fitness device - hacking device will reveal detailed record of former owner’s movements, heart-rate and drug intake for the last D3 weeks.
64
Keycard and address for a very hidden, very private cyberware clinic.
65
Expensive condoms with STD detection sensors. Phone number scrawled on back of packet.
66
Black Candle devoted to Santa Muerte, to bring death and vengeance upon one’s enemies.

It's only theft if he was innocent. Or still alive.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Black Hack (Cyber) Bestiary









Way back when I reviewed The Black Hack Cyber-Hacked, one of my (few) disappointments with the system was its short "bestiary" - just the usual gutterpunk suspects.


Well, there's a simple solution to that.

Lurking below are over fifty new antagonists for a Cyber-Hacked, Mirrorshades or modern-day Black Hack game, giving the player characters targets to shoot from the blood soaked streets to the ash-coated wastelands. Not just criminals and cops and cartel soldiers 'neither - there are some surprises down the list!

I couldn't resist putting in (entire sentences of) fluff into this table, nor pretty-ing up this post with pictures. If you want a google-doc in the usual Black Hack format, unpolluted by images or unnecessary ink-draining descriptive words, there's a link at the bottom of the post.

A couple of the entries here use rules from David Black's Additional Things PDF, available free on his blog here, most notably the Panic! rule.


Black Bagger: a corporate spook, a government kidnapper, a paranoid fantasy.
3 HD
Pistol (2d4), electronic B&E tools, thermoptic camo (disadvantage to detect), Cyber-Optics, Cyber-Audio
Bounty Hunter: hunting your contacts down one by one.
4 HD 6 AP
Pistol (1D10), taser (CON test vs 1d4 rounds stun), tracking device, flashbangs (con test vs disadvantage on all tests 1d4 rounds), hand-cuffs, gas mask with in-built NVG, Cybernetic Grappling Hand, range truck, custom armour
Bubblegum Knight: neon super-vigilantes chase down hi-tech threats to society (like you), while looking super fabulous (I've never watched Bubblegum Crisis).
6 HD 10 AP
Hardsuit (AP10 articulated armour suit, with Knuckle Bombs (2d12, 2 uses), Laser Sword (2d8), Pulse Laser (2d8), full suite of visual and audio options, no disadvantage for running in high heels), high performance motorbike, preposterous/wonderful pop star costume, mic
Cartel Witch: the heady atmosphere of casual violence, superstition and religious fervour pervading Cartel culture inculcates a particular terrifying brand of esper. 
4 HD 4 AP
Machete (2d6), kevlar vest, ritual components, level three psychic powers: Hold Person, Terrify, Silence, Darkvision. Can cast Enhance and Cure Light Wounds as rituals if provided with the right cocktail of drugs, blood and ritual components
Chipped Serial Killer: a sabotaged skill chip or a black market personality reboot can turn an ordinary person into a terrifying, remorseless killer.
4 HD 2 AP
Fire axe (1d10), tranq pistol (1d6, CON test vs paralysis), Chip Socket, stab proof vest, advantage to strength tests, immune to most mind-affecting and charisma effects. Human victims must test vs Panic! upon first seeing the serial killer's eyes
Chipped Triad: the right skill chips can turn any teenage wannabe into something straight out of a Hong Kong martial arts flick. Almost, anyway.
2 HD 4 AP (Dodge)
Butterfly swords (2d4, two attacks), submachine gun (d6), d3 cyberware items, Chip Socket
Corporate Bodyguard: standing between you and the hostile extraction target.
4 HD 4 AP
Pistol (1D10), expensive taser gloves (unarmed attack, CON test vs 1d4 rounds stun), expensive armoured suit, iShades with visual enhancements, Cyber-Audio
Coyote: it seems like new walls rise every day - mental, physical, national, commercial. Good business for skilled blockade runners; their skills always come at a price.
2 HD 4 AP
Night-scoped rifle (2d6), electro-prod (1d4, CON save vs paralysis) range truck with search light and night vision windscreen, binoculars, flash-light, armoured thermoptic camo (advantage to stealth tests) with kevlar inlays
Coywolf: increasing numbers of feral coyote-wolf hybrids prowl the desiccated high plains, desperate for ecogee meat.
1 HD
Teeth and Claws (1d6). Gains another 1d6 if one or more other coywolves are attacking the same target
Crom Cultist: a few slabs of grafted muscle and black hair extensions freely available in any salon can turn the lankiest nerd into Conan the neo-Barbarian.
3 HD 1 AP
Carbon Steel Claymore (2d4 - two handed), Sub-machine gun (2d4), biker jacket, Dermal Weave Flesh, Bone Enhancement, 2x doses of +1 Str drug
Death Squad Paramilitary: when corporations, governments or the DEA want someone dead in the slums, they send in their latter days Contras.
2 HD 4 AP
Sub-machine gun (d6), machete (d6), binoculars, kevlar vest, NVG night-scope, lots of drugs, Adrenal Enhancement. Squad may have flamethrower (2d6, dex test vs catching fire), Humvee or aggressively ordinary sedan with AP4 bullet proof windows
Dolphin Prophet: the rumours about the underwater research lab were true. 
2 HD
Unarmed attack (1d6), advantage against landlubbers in water. Level four psychic powers: Clairvoyance, Sleep, Feeblemind, Telepathy, Screech (as Mental Blast)
Droog: those crazy nadsat spouting teens, spent too much time in the milk bar listening to classical music.
2 HD
Big stick (d6), fancy hat, advantage on melee attacks against enemies with lower HD.
Exterminator: someone has to deal with the sewer-gators.
1 HD 1 AP
Shotgun (d4) with bean-bags (d4, CON save vs d4 rounds stun), hardy work-wear with head-mounted flashlight, rebreather, unnecessarily loud motion-sensor, tool kit, small but vicious enhanced dog (HD2, AP1, teeth (d6) )
Feral Child: whether Area Boys in Lagos or Corner Boys in New York, syndicates and armies are always willing to exploit lost children. Meanwhile, gangs of dispossessed kids struggle for what they can take to survive.
1 HD
Knife (d4), d3 doses of random combat drug. Depending on local circumstance, may have rifle (d4) or kevlar vest (AP2)

Continued below the jump! Juicers! Cyborgs! Things that should not be!