Regime Quest 17

Results from Previous round votes:

2 Votes: Plan Talon of Antares (SV thread)

1 Vote: Plan CCC on my blog

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Winning Plan:

[X] Do not interact with Subtracter, leave immediately for Delphia

[X] Take only volunteers from Delphia

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Day 14 Log (Crisis):

 

Blender + Builder travel to Delphia from Shington (adv Blender’s vehicle, Blender’s experience, disadv nighttime transit), roll 6, success

Blender diplomacy w/Delphian Ultras (adv Warlord, high Tally), roll 8, success

Delphian Harvest (innate disadv), roll 9, success

Blender + Builder + new Ultras travel back to Shington from Delphia (disadv only one vehicle, disadv ragtag group), roll 10, success

 

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There’s an old song I liked, back when I was young and the world made sense.  I forget most of how it goes, the words I mean, but I remember the message, the story of it.

The protagonist is a rich guy, no time for love.  Some people come to lynch him and kill him.  But they decide to only rob him instead, they take all his money and they let him go.

The chorus goes ‘and I walked away from the hanging tree’, or something like that.

That was the line that I had playing in my head, over and over, as I carefully and methodically drove all twenty one of our new recruits back into Shington.

It wasn’t a song about winning.  It wasn’t even a song about trying, or doing anything.  The protagonist demonstrated no agency at all, that I can recollect.  It was a song about surviving, about things not turning out as bad as they could have, and it was a perfect summary of my life right now.

Start with the trip over.

I’d been driving at night.  Racing the clock, with Builder in the passenger seat.  Builder, who, it had turned out, had never been in a vehicle in her life, and who proved to my dismay that not eating very much didn’t actually stop you from vomiting with excessive force and frequency.

I’d almost left her behind.  She’d be taking up a space that I might have needed for a recruit, but I’d been worried about what she might say, who might hear her.  She had needed a quick talk about the importance of information security, about what lies were ok to tell to who, and I had decided, on the spur of the moment, to give that talk during our drive to Delphia.

Also, while it probably was not strictly necessary, I’d always been more comfortable with someone to talk to on a night trip.  My gifts would protect me if I wrapped my car around a tree, but they wouldn’t do the same for my car, and being marooned out in the wilds would have utterly ruined my schedule.

So, yes, the trip over, I’d been driving tired, talking at the same time, over dark roads with only the moon and my headlights to guide me.  The road was ruined in places, blocked by wreckage in others, and I had to remember all of the squirrels paths and side ways that we Troubleshooters had worked out.

I did it.  Flawlessly.

I made it into Delphia just as the sun was coming up.  I left Builder with the car, telling her to spend the day looking into how it was formed, figure out what her gift could do.

That wasn’t the main reason I left her, of course.  The main thing she was doing was sitting on the car and making sure that no one walked off with it.  She might have essentially no combat capability, but no one in Delphia knew that.  They’d see the sigil, they wouldn’t test her.  At least I’d hoped they wouldn’t.

That was the point at which the ‘when is the other foot going to drop’ feeling had really set in.  I’d been ready for just about any reception in Delphia.

What actually happened was astoundingly mundane.

Grinder was still in charge, she remembered me from my Troubleshooter days.  She didn’t doubt that I was the Warlord for a second, someone had apparently told her sometime in the last few weeks, and she’d already assembled the volunteers.

The volunteers, in my fevered expectations, had been the single biggest stumbling block.  I’d hatched a dozen plans for how I could get more, all of them skirting the darkest edges of my ethics and occasioning enormous bouts of self doubt.

My basic plan had been to offer up my healing gift to the victims.  I would heal the family members of those who were Processed.  It had felt scummy, but the obvious alternative was simply grabbing people up off of the street.

If that hadn’t worked I’d been willing to sweeten the pot.  Builder’s gift lent itself readily to bribery.  Possessions weren’t any use to the dead, of course, but they could be left with friends or family, transforming the lives of the healthy in ways analogous to the sorts of healing I was willing to provide.

None of that had been necessary.

Somehow, in my imagination, I’d never considered the obvious possibility that Subtracter’s expectations were grounded in reality.  She’d been doing this a while, it kind of stood to reason that she’d have a realistic estimate.

I didn’t exactly dig into it.  It was entirely possible that Grinder had conscripted these individuals, that the ugliness was only out of my sight, and I was the beneficiary of the Regime’s customary heartlessness.

I very deliberately did not ask.  It isn’t like I could have done anything differently if I’d found out anything horrifying, so I just let myself remain ignorant.

I’ll carry that.  I have to.

The Processing itself, well, a dirty secret of the world is that no abomination exists that isn’t ultimately mundane in the doing.  No atrocity has ever been committed, but the guys pulling the levers complained about their callouses.

It was an afternoon like any other.  I sat in a waiting room, reading through some old magazines, while the Company put hundreds to death.

It had been this, and nothing else, that had ultimately ruined the Old World.

Everyone, in their descriptions, they hung around stories of Toppling cities, of clouds of dust rising and Ultras hurling tanks.  All that had happened.

But that was a hurricane, a volcano.  Mankind could take losses.  We’d done so before, great plagues of the past had winnowed us, had taken vast numbers, and we hadn’t been ruined.

But the Process was something new.

Ask people to flee, to take their families and run, and they would.  They’d go cursing and wishing that they could do something, but they would have run.  The world would have scattered.

But give us a lure, a way to fight back, and, well, that was us, wasn’t it?  The people who ran towards the fires, towards the falling buildings?  That was the best of humanity, and the Process weaponized it.

The people who should have been keeping things going, who should have been leading diasporas, they’d died in rooms like these, died dreaming of being reborn with the capacity to do more than survive, dreaming of fighting back.

A siren’s song, and a deadly one.  It had culled us, was still culling us.  The people who were dying upstairs, they had chosen those deaths, chosen to take their one in thirty instead of living one more worthless day under the foot of Warlords like me.

That afternoon seemed to stretch on for months.  It had gnawed at me, dug at the roots of me, dragged up memories of my village’s fall, of my friends and families herded into trucks and brought to a facility just like this one.

But eventually it ended.

Hundreds had died.

And twenty one had survived.  A foul tradeoff, by any measure.

I’d been so caught up in my worries about how to get the recruits that I hadn’t really pondered how I was going to get them back.  They weren’t exactly going to fit in my little sedan.

Builder, strangely enough, had been the answer to this one.

She’d gotten bored pretty quickly, trying to understand how the car worked.  She wasn’t disassembling it, and she was worried about breaking something if she poked around in the engine without supervision.

So what she’d done instead, over the course of a long day, was work on a sort of wheeled skiff which would drag along behind the car as it drove.

Her first versions, she confessed, had been embarrassingly bad, but ultimately she’d attracted the attentions of some locals, and they’d pitched in with their basic knowledge of stuff they’d seen attached to the back of a lot of cars.

To my surprise, they’d come up with a pretty fair copy of a basic hauling two.  It wouldn’t have won any prizes, of course, wouldn’t have been allowed on the road, back in the day, but damned if it didn’t work.

We’d stowed the new recruits on the back, crammed a bunch of the stronger ones in the backseat, and we’d driven back to the Lair.

Even now, stepping back into my own home, with the new Ultras all introduced to Shington’s gangs, and Builder safely back at her place.  I’m still waiting for that other boot to drop.

Maybe I always will.

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Day 15:

 

Days remaining: 16

AP available: (4 after crisis + 1 for 6 hours sleep) = 5/10

Prestige: 3

Timeslots available: 2, morning and afternoon

Builder Timeslot Available: afternoon

Posse: 1 out of 3 slots filled

Force size: 0

Condition: Healthy

(Ultra format: Role, Ultra Strength/Speed/Toughness, other gift description)

 

Posse:

Builder — 0/0/0, a woman who can alter objects for miles around into other things, blessed with a ‘Bulletproof’ blend

Ultra Allies:

Owner – housemate, 0/0/1 operates an imaginary firm, with real effects on the world,

Maker- Friend, and protégé of Snitcher, 0/0/1, can summon the spirit of things

Clawer – Ultra fighter 2/0/1, melee combatant, deadly hooks for hands

Stopper – partner of Clawer, 0/0/0, steals form’s velocity by looking at them

Sticker – Did dentistry for her brother, 0/0/2, Creates slime, can choose its stickiness

Grower – 0/*0/1, an outside Ultra I sponsored into the Lair, has a bullet blend from me, can rapidly increase the size and mass of objects

Joker — 0/2/0, a woman who can change what other people/herself look like

 

Ultra Enemies:

Masher- Enemy, and fellow protégé of Subtracter, 3*/0/3*, trades off strength and durability as she moves or stays still

Picker – First Fist protégé, 0/1/0, ‘selects the outcome of things’

 

Ultra Acquaintances:

Tracker – Running buddy, 1/0/1, Creates tracks, and can move things on them

Shower – Adder’s protégé, 1*/0/1*, gains strength and durability from witnesses

Echoer – Singer I am a fan of, 1/1/1, can duplicate any action that she sees

Bubbler – Operates Ultra clinic 0/0/?, traps things in bubbles that heal and move them

Sucker — Ultra entertainer, ?/?/?, pulls objects/people towards her at incredible rate

Gunner — 0/0/1, she shoots tracking Ultra Blasts at roughly Ultra Strength One

Chiller — 1/0/1, can freeze any object she touches, leaving them brittle and easily broken

Cutter — 1/1/1, she is a brutal front line combatant

Smasher — 3/0/1, a woman who is billed as the strongest Ultra fighter of all time

Swimmer — 1/0/1, she can ‘swim’ through solid surfaces

Burner — 0/0/1, she can summon Ultra fire from anywhere that she can see

Maxxer — 0/0/0, she can augment the gifts of other Ultras, pushing their gifts

Puncher — 1/0/1, her strength and speed both go up when she repeats her movements

Replayer — 1/2/0, she can ‘step back in time’ to undo damage that she takes

 

Faction Rankings:

Regime 7

KEM 8

Pantheon 2

Union 4

Resistance 9

Prevailer 3

Knights 3

 

[spoiler=Actions]

Actions:

[ ] Invite Owner into Posse (Timeslot cost: 0, AP Cost 0, auto success)

Motive: Owner has more or less volunteered to join me, no more work is needed to get her onboard.  I already trust her to watch me while I sleep, and her gift and Builders have some intriguing synergies.  She can feed Builder, she can probably get a company car or even helicopter to fix my transport problems.  There’s a lot to like about the idea.

Concerns: She would be a second member of my posse with no particular combat gifts.  Ultra toughness one doesn’t particularly terrify the world.  She will also probably do me any particular favor I need without having to be part of my Posse, I might want to save my slots for people who aren’t already well disposed to me.

 

[ ] Contact Knights (Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 2, returns 1 on success)

Motive: My recent actions have opened up the possibility of collaboration with the Knights of Purity. Their assistance could be valuable, insofar as they don’t count towards the Regime’s ridiculous rule against outnumbering our enemies, and I might be able to acquire some of their blessed equipment if I play my cards right.

Concerns: I don’t know if I really want to be associating with such a group. KEM wouldn’t mind, but the Resistance would pull away from me, and I might end up coming into contact with Second Fist or their sponsored Ultras. It is likely that anything they might want from me would be rather evil.

 

[ ] Seek Transportation

-[ ] Scavenge (Timeslot cost: 2; AP cost 4, refunds 3 on success)

Motive: My current transportation sufficed for me in my troubleshooter role, but I will likely require a larger vehicle, or several vehicles, in order to bring everyone to Ar Harbor. I can seek to find something in the suburbs and surrounding towns.

Concerns: Leaving Shington could be dangerous, and I am far from guaranteed to find a bus or truck suitable to my needs, as the area has already been heavily scavenged.

-[ ] Trade with existing owners (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: As above, but instead of fixing up ruined vehicles I’ll negotiate to get them from their current owners.

Concerns: Snitcher may disapprove of a warlord being civil

-[ ] Seize by force (Timeslot cost: 2; AP cost 4, refunds 3 on success)

Motive: As above, but instead of asking my contacts for vehicles I’ll just take what I want. My role as warlord and my Tally should minimize resistance

Concerns: People like their vehicles, and won’t like the one who takes them. I will make enemies.

-[ ] Seek Transportation [Adder + Company] (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: As above, but Adder can use his gift to make something for my purposes, and the Company can duplicate it and make it permanent.

Concerns: Adder and I are not close, he may decline to aid me, owing to his rivalry with my sponsor, Subtracter.

 

[ ] Seek Target Information

-[ ] Company (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: The Company logs every Ultra they create. Their Ar Harbor records would be useful information

Concerns: Ultras migrate and conceal their gifts, this information would be incomplete

-[ ] Subtracter (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 3, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: Subtracter is the military leader of the Regime, she will have information on this target

Concerns: Subtracter is stupid and violent, I don’t like to be around her

-[ ] Survivors (Timeslot cost:1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: There have been 2 other attempts at Ar Harbor. I can seek out and question survivors in the outer city.

Concerns: I may be unable to find any survivors, and I may be misled by liars.

 

[ ] Seek Posse Members

-[ ] wander & gossip, (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 1, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: There are dozens of powerful Ultras in the Lair. I know only the barest fraction of them. I can learn the basics on 1-6 of them in a few hours of socializing and gossiping, opening up in depth investigation options on them and adding them to my list of acquaintances.

Concerns: None

-[ ] At Ultra Fights, (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 1, refunds 1 on success)

Constraint: Only available in the afternoon or night on days divisible by 4 (day 4, 8, etc)

Motive: There are dozens of powerful Ultras in the Lair. I know only the barest fraction of them. I can learn the basics on 3-12 of them in a few hours of socializing and gossiping at this kind of event.

Concerns: Ultras associated with the Fights are more likely than most to be melee combatants.

 

[ ] Seek Warband Members

-[ ] At the Yard, (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: The Lair is surrounded by hundreds of Regime Ultras. The strongest come to the Yard to show their power and appeal to those like me, who would give them purpose. I should be able to gather between 5 and 20 Ultras of such caliber.

Concerns: I will need to provide housing and direction to these Ultras, or risk them wandering off. I can expect to spend at least an action a day on them, and training them might well eat up more. Ideally a Posse member will be tasked with this.

-[ ] [Gang name] From a Gang, (Timeslot cost: 2; AP cost 5, refunds 3 on success)

Motive: The Ultras that surround Shington are organized into Gangs dozens strong. If I can recruit such a force I might have my whole Warband right there.

Concerns: These Ultras likely already have patrons in the Lair, who I would need to negotiate with. Their leader would also likely want a place in my Posse, and she would be the primary locus of their loyalty until I’d had time to win them over.

 

[ ] Investigate Acquaintance:

-[ ] [Name], (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success, 2 if we become allies)

Motive: I can spend some serious one on one time with an Ultra I’ve chosen, evaluating the capability of their gift, the alignment of their values with mine, and their basic ccompetence. If all checks out, I might move them into my Ultra Allies column.

Concerns: None

 

[ ] Invite Ally into Posse:

-[ ] [Name], (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 3, refunds 3 on success)

Motive: If I want to bring an ally into my posse, get them to take actions on my behalf and rise or fall with me, this is the way to do it. I will only take this action on those I’ve already made allies, and once this has been taken it is difficult to undo.

Concerns: Posse members are most of the way into my circle of trust, and will operate on my behalf, representing me to stranger. A mistake here would be dangerous and damaging. I should be careful before taking this step, potentially investigating a prospect several times.

 

[ ] Seek Information on Snitcher’s patterns

-[ ] Passive listening (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 1, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: Snitcher can ride my senses at any moment, and bring Her along. If I am ever to contact my KEM allies, my resistance allies, or show any kindness or weakness whatsoever, I need to understand when this is likely to take place. Gossip can hint at this, particularly if I carefully steer conversations. This action would be mostly undetectable, even if he was riding me when I took it.

Concerns: None

-[ ] Active interrogation of Snitches (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 3, refunds 2 on success)

Motive: As above, but rather than listen for random gossip I will seek out other linked individuals and directly ask them how often he rides their senses, and what actions he has reacted to in the past.

Concerns: More likely Snitcher notices this, unknown consequences of that.

-[ ] Confront Snitcher Directly (Timeslot cost:1; AP cost 4, refunds 3 on success)

Motive: As above, but take the simplest possible route. Go to Snitcher and ask him for the deal.

Concerns: I am sponsored by Subtracter, not Snitcher, he may not wish to aid me. He may demand favors or other services in exchange for the information.

 

[ ] Seek Information on Regime military operations

-[ ] Ask Subtracter (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 3, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: My life depends on doing this right. I need to get a basic understanding of what She is expecting from my attack on Ar Harbor. Do I need to seize the Company Facility? Kill all the enemies? Are there any constraints on how I go about it? Subtracter is the leader of the Regime’s military, and my sponsor, she will know these answers.

Concerns: Subtracter is stupid and brutal, and she killed my neighbors, I hate spending time with her.

-[ ] Ask Around (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: As above, but ask survivors of previous missions instead of my evil boss.

Concerns: My predecessors may not have told them everything, their views of their missions may omit certain command level details that I need to worry about.

[ ] Relax and Recuperate

-[ ] By visiting Blisser (Timeslot cost: X (slots spent until AP reaches max), AP cost 0, returns 3 per time period. DANGER, this action may cause addiction)

-[ ]By lounging around, (Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 0, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: I could do with some rest.

Concerns: None

-[ ]By patronizing entertainment areas (Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 1, refunds 3 on success)

Motive: I could do with some rest, and I might learn some things by socializin

Concerns: None

-[ ]By using my gift to repair the city (Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 2, refunds 5 on success)

Motive: It needs to be done.

Concerns: This is not becoming behavior of a warlord, Snitcher may take notice, and people may talk

-[ ]By using my gift to heal people (Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 1, refunds 5 on success)

Motive: This is why I have my gift.

Concerns: This is not becoming behavior of a warlord, Snitcher may take notice, and people may talk

[ ] Organize Armory [Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 2, returns 2 on success)

Motive: I carry, in my backpack and on my person, various items to blend with if the need arises. I am overdue to look through my setup and take an inventory, once that is done I could seek out new objects if I am missing anything useful.

Concerns: None

[ ] Seek new residence [ Timeslot cost: 3, returns 1 if successful ]

Motive: I could get a lot more done if I got a full night’s sleep

Concerns: Owner and I have guarded one another’s rest for a long time. I wouldn’t necessarily be able to trust a new person to the same extent.

[ ] Action: Other (Timeslot cost: x, returns x if successful)

 

KEM Actions:

[ ] Assign Assassination mission [Timeslot cost 1, AP cost 3, returns 1 on success, can only be done in the morning, uncertain Snitcher risk]

Description: KEM are the only humans who fight back on a consistent, day to day basis.  We’ve come up together, they and I, and pointing them at my foes is only common sense.  If I give them a target, then I trust them to make a good faith effort to put that Ultra down.  Their odds of success, of course, vary wildly depending on how much info I can provide, and the gifts of the Ultra in question.

 

Resistance Actions:

[ ] Assign Information Gathering Mission [Timeslot cost 1, AP cost 2, returns 1 on success, can only be done in the morning, uncertain Snitcher risk]

Description: The humans are the ocean in which the Ultras swim, the saying goes.  The Resistance’s capacity to gather information about Ultras is unsurpassed.  If I give them a target, then they will give me every bit of public information on the target, and often times a little bit more.  Ultras are people, after all.  I believe this with all my heart.  And people trust other people, even those that they ultimately shouldn’t.  I can assign as many targets as I wish, but the more I assign the less details I will probably get, and the longer it might take.

[ ] Debrief Information Gathering Mission [Timeslot cost 1, AP cost 0, returns 1 on success, can only be done in the morning, uncertain Snitcher risk]

Description: The information that the Resistance gathers is worthless if I never regain it.  Using protocols I’ve worked out ahead of time, and my recent discovery of Snitcher’s habits, it should be possible for me to take the Resistance’s reports with minimal risk.  I expect I should give them a day or two for local targets, and possibly as much as four for targets in Ar Harbor or further afield.

 

Builder Actions:

[ ] Repair Structure [Timeslot cost 1]

Description: Builder can repair most any structure any structure in just a few hours, spreading broken portions back into place and generating new matter as needed.

[ ] Construct Known Structure [ Timeslot cost 1]

Description: Builder can construct any easily described structure with the same ease that she repairs them.  Her present education limits this to extremely primitive structures, but that might well be changeable.

[ ] Construct Known Items [Timeslot cost 1]

Description: Builder’s gits aren’t limited to buildings.  If she can get a perfect understanding of an objects, and samples for every component, then she can form any items that I might desire.  The easiest way to accomplish this, of course, would be to provide her with a sample.

[ ] Memorize Patterns [ Timeslot cost 1]

Description: Builder’s gifts are heavily limited by her imperfect education.  The more patterns I can get her to learn, the more she can construct from any given material.  If I provide her with patterns or specimens I’m pretty sure she can memorize them and add them to her arsenal.

[/spoiler]

3 thoughts on “Regime Quest 17

  1. Is the song she’s thinking of “The Hanging Tree” from the 1959 Western movie? (I’d never heard of this but that’s what google turned up.) Interesting that this stuck around for over a century!

    (I can’t remember if WordPress comments allow HTML but if they do here’s a link for anyone else who wants to hear the song: “The Hanging Tree”)

    1. I didn’t know it was a movie, but that was definitely the song. It’s been stuck in my head for like a decade!

  2. (Free action) Invite Owner into Posse. There’s a lot to like about this idea; but the major advantage is that Owner already has my trust. And in this anarchic world, that is *very* important.

    (Morning action) Assign information gathering mission: Vanisher (Merlin). Dealing with the others will be fairly straightforward (though I might need to imbue my entire Posse with ‘fireproof’ before taking down Igniter). But Vanisher is going to be a lot of trouble unless she’s blinded. It’ll be a great deal of help to find out about any weak spots well in advance.

    (Afternoon action) Investigate acquaintance: Replayer. I should get someone on my Posse with Ultra Speed of at least two, and it’s only reasonable to investigate all options before choosing one.

    (Builder’s action) Investigate patterns: The damaged busses. Building on her success building the rig yesterday, and giving her some (badly damaged) vehicles that she can take apart, let’s see how she can do at figuring out how busses work. (This also keeps her away from talking to potentially hostile Ultras and triggering further trouble. Ideally, I should be handling all the talking-to-people-not-in-the-Posse jobs from now on). If the busses get repaired, that’s good, but for the moment it’s more important for Builder to learn how they work.

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