Orison Writeup: January 2013

If you’re reading this and wondering about the system itself, the finished PDF will be on this site… someday. If you’re interested in getting it right now, let me know!

Actual Play, 10/01/2013: Orison (The Midguard Ring, Finale)

The Characters

Raleigh, the friendly engineer with a bionic arm; Edwin, the perceptive ex-miner with an exotic pistol; Xenon, the mutant merc with a custom rifle; and Torquill, the ex-military alien doctor.

Previously, on Orison…

Part 1

  • A failed military coup and engine failure leads the party to the shanty towns of the Midguard ring, for parts and people!
  • Xenon meets an old friend turned legit!
  • Raleigh breaks a vending machine!
  • The local club is almost empty, and the party leaves without incident!
  • Robot vagrants attack, desperate for energy!
  • Ambush at the mechanics shop! The last instigator of the coup is captured alive!
  • …and Torquill’s sidekick was there, all along!

Part 2

  • Why are the streetlights getting dimmer?
  • Dragging the unconscious instigator back to the shuttle!
  • A nasty device is causing the rail to malfunction – a crash is narrowly avoided when it’s thrown out the window!
  • Xenon’s bionics are critically failing… emergency surgery on the shuttle!
  • Return to the apartment the device landed on (after being thrown out a window)… what a coincidence, Xenon’s friend lives here!
  • Tragedy strikes: Xenon’s bionics overload when he gets to close! [I think he’ll be out cold for exactly a session?]

Part 3

  • A lead from Xenon’s pal – go to the Phrozt masons, they’ll have work.
  • Things are pretty dark out now – except for that neon church?
  • Zzang, the benevolent Karg owner of the poor-house… not a species known for friendliness? Probably merits a follow-up..
  • Onwards to the guildhall – a volcanic godfather hires them to put a stop to whatever’s going on at.. the bike factory? PLUS: A crystalline gift for Edwin, to use in a moment of need!
  • The factory’s the only place still lit up now…
  • “Hey, we need their clothes – Raleigh, entice the workers over with sexual promises”
  • “Oh, actually we can just walk in and pretend to be customers. Never mind!”
  • Robot combat on floor 2: a narrow victory, no-one escapes without cuts and bruises!
  • The elevator awaits – what’s on floor 3?

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…And now, the thrilling conclusion

Part 4

Back at the apartment – Xenon wakes up with a tragic hangover. The device knocked him out cold. His old friend, Osh, is on hand – “your friends called – they’re at the Bike Factory, it sounds like they’re in trouble.”

Osh isn’t a doctor, but Xenon’s still hurting the best he can offer is a shot of whiskey to numb the pain? Luckily (critical pass) Xenon can handle his drink and sets off without any side-effects.

Back at the factory – the party decide to press on and let Xenon catch up. From the elevator window, they can see everything’s turned off except the building they’re in. Suddenly, the ground shakes – an earthquake? But that can’t be right, they’re in a satellite hundreds of miles above the planet! [… is what they should have been thinking, but apparently this part didn’t clock at the time!]

On floor 3 – the bike factory proper. Shadowy mechanical appartus hangs from the roof, a conveyor belt is carrying mechanical parts across and around the room. There’s some interesting machines to their left, and ahead, a large hunched figure – mechanical? A robot? Is looking over the conveyor belt, chuckling.

Edwin and Raleigh move closer to the figure. It’s a Karg, albeit decked out in bionics across his arms and chest. He starts talking with them, asking what they think about his “work” for his “sponsors”. Edwin’s had enough, and draws his pistol. The Karg sees the threat, and flings something at the pair – another nasty device!

Meanwhile – Torquill is checking out the interesting machines. They’re hover-mats, powerful enough to carry two and travel about walking speed. Just about to power one up when he gets a call from Xenon (“Can’t really talk right now…!”)

Xenon finds an old maintenance ladder leading up to the 3rd floor, and starts climbing. Once he’s at the top, he could either climb onto the roof for a hatch, or kick out the glass on the elevator and jump in. Unsurprisingly (for Xenon’s character) the direct approach is chosen – SMASH!

Edwin deflects the device with ease onto a nearby conveyor belt, where (thankfully) it’s carried away from the players. The Karg makes a leap for the rafters, but loses a chunk of his chest in the process – Edwin gets a shot clear off. Raleigh ducks behind some cover and starts trying to hack into the mechanical systems. Before long, a pair of robotic arms unfurl from the ceiling – but Raleigh’s not controlling them…

Things get a little messy. Torquill spots the Karg in the girders, and forces him back to the ground. Xenon gets a shot off, breaking the Karg’s bionics – his arms and chest armour are left smoking on the ground as the lizardy bastard makes a break for the next room. Raleigh manages to get the arms shut down just before one clamps around her torso. Edwin leads the charge to the next room.

The next room is the top floor of the factory – a showroom, with dozens of ready bikes on display. The Karg is messing with the biggest one. As Edwin and the others pile into the room, he finally activates it – transforming it into a giant exo-suit around him.

But Edwin’s ready for this – he’s got the gift from the Phrozt gangsters. “Dodge this!” Throwing the crystal right onto the suit’s thorax, it shatters, covering the mech in EMP-producing radiation. Almost as soon as the mech was ready, it starts collapsing around the unfortunate Karg. Panicking, he takes another shot from someone before leaping to one of the display bikes, smashing the window, and jumping the bike onto the nearby monorail line. Edwin, being the closest, leaps onto the bike with him and Torquill makes the jump, following close behind.

Raleigh and Xenon fail the jump, totalling the bikes. Before they can try again, they’re distracted by… Zzang! He’s come to the factory looking for his estranged son (Voz) in an attempt to stop him. Right now the entire stations in jeopardy if the devices, now going off all over the satellite, aren’t shut down. The characters begin searching for [an initially non-existent!] basement to find the master switch.

Edwin’s got some good hits on Voz, and he’s started to slow down. Meanwhile, Torquill is catching up with his own bike, ready to cut them off as soon as possible.

Back at the factory, the trio find a hidden switch in the lift to get down to the basement, where they find the master device controlling the rest. It takes all Raleigh’s best engineering ability to get the device shut down – especially with hers and Xenon’s bionics getting progressively worse – but she does finally shut down the device, nearly collapsing as she does so.

Edwin’s got Voz in a sleeperhold now and he’s fighting consciousness. He can’t drive and fight at the same time, and before long the able security chief has got the Karg in custody, ready to receive judgement. The group reunite, and under the cover of the still recovering lights get both lizards back to the Mason’s headquarters. The godfather listens to the party’s story and the father’s pleas to take him instead – but needs to know more about Voz’s so-called ‘sponsor’. It’s interrogation for him, and it’s unlikely to be a pleasant one at that.

Roll credits!

My Thoughts

On a Wing and a Prayer – the Orison (Game) System

My Orison system that we’ve been playtesting has come quite a way since being a pure Lady Blackbird hack. One thing it’s never had is much in the way of advances taken; the characters from this adventure are all nearly “max” level now. I like this for two reasons – firstly, it keeps character ability pretty equal and next time, everyone can play as other characters from the ship. As Tom suggested, over time we’ll collectively build up a crew roster of previous and current characters and the ship will be filled with some awesomely personal NPCs. There’s opportunity to bring an old character ‘out of retirement’, or for a new character to go check up on them and see what they’re up to!

After this last session, I had a much clearer idea of the theme – lonely drifters, wandering the galaxy – and the potential unique appeal for Orison. There’s plenty of story games, and plenty with a sci-fi theme, and definitely some with lonely drifters out to atone or be heroic or whatever, but I don’t think many are designed around the idea of having a whole roster of characters you build up over time.

As players get to choose what’s most important to the character in terms of their tags, it’s easy to get back ‘into character’ – for example, one look at Raleigh’s roster will tell you she’s a friendly (one tag) human with a bionic arm (another tag) who likes to tinker (the last tag) and combat’s her weak spot (her lowest stat.) I’ve redesigned the rosters to support having more than one character on the go and writing plenty of space for background and appearance, just to jog the player’s memory further.

Anyway, the last session went really well – better than expected (It was lucky that two of them were left to turn off the device!) and everyone seemed to have a good time. It was good practice for me as GM too, but I’m very keen to hand over the rails now and see how others find it to GM (and how I find it to play!)

For now, there’s not much I feel needs adding but some things that come to mind:

  • Death rules still remain untested! These are much harsher than previously but still no-one’s come close to dying yet. I’m hoping more merciless GMs will help test this aspect.
  • Some minor confusion over method titles, enough to make me think a rename might be in order. Knowledge doesn’t really convey the idea of stopping and thinking as much as I’d like, and since Social is also used for hacking it might make more sense to rename it communication.
  • Given the adjustment towards having more characters, some kind of development of the ship itself might be relevant. Perhaps the ship can be given tags as well, either upgrades for the ship or some kind of tool or weapon that can be kept on the ship and passed from one character to another. Perhaps these ship tags can be the rewards players get for completing adventures? (I also like the idea of the players drawing the ship and adding tags together, along the lines of The Quiet Year.)