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  • Help a new ST with a Technocracy Chronicle

    Hi guys, I'm preparing for a M20 Chronicle that I'll be running in a month or two. It's a game where the player characters are members of the Technocratic Union who are in a special division that attempts to save mankind from the horrors of the supernatural. Theme and mood is a cross between various media like The X-Files, Stranger Things, Men In Black, Ghostbusters, Fringe, Warehouse 13, and Torchwood. The idea is to capture the feel of covert government-type agents dispatched to solve mysterious and often horrific events occurring all over the country. Each story will highlight a different city or town that is experiencing its own supernatural phenomena. The player characters will be from all over the county, and occasional scenes will take place in their homes and show a bit of their life outside the Union. Each story arc will begin with a debriefing in headquarters, followed by the James Bond-esq equipment scene, and then deployment. From there the players will choose their own path to unraveling mysteries and advancing the plot. Meta-plot and other game lines are mostly ignored. The Avatar Storm/Dimensional Anomaly occurred and has faded away by this point, though I'm not sure if I should stick with that for reasons I'll mention below. The Technocracy has gone through some changes due to losing contact with their leadership, and more moderate-to-less-extreme leaders have taken charge in their place. Other supernaturals exist, but for the purposes of this chronicle the Mage cosmology is assumed to be the correct one and any such characters that show up will either be enemies or short term NPCs. Each story is self contained, though they are all connected in a way. The players will take on various supernatural threats across the country which are all seemingly unconnected. I was considering using Threat Null as the main cross-story antagonist through this chronicle. Perhaps I should use the plot arc that the Dimensional Anomaly is being maintained by the Void Engineers to keep them at bay? What thoughts does the forum have?

  • #2
    One serious question you're going to have to deal with is how you are going to run requisitions and backup.

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    • #3
      Those backgrounds seem pretty straightforward to me. I can easily work with a player who invests in them. In fact, I planned on giving a few bonus points for character creation specificity for backgrounds to encourage taking things like this. I'm also thinking Enlightenment/Arete 3 to start.

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      • #4
        That sounds like a pretty decent pitch for a great chronicle.

        Are you going to be running this as a Monster of the Week type story?
        So one story could be about a Sorcerer cult that's trying to summon a demon, lead by an infernalist mage (not necessarily a nephandi).
        Another could be about a series of impossible assassinations that turns out to be committed by a Euthanatos sect.
        Another could be a town has become unpopulated overnight, as in all these people who were there one minute are now gone. It turns out the people have been trapped in a Mirror Zone in which only their town exists, cut off from mainstream reality, surrounded by horrible monsters (spirits). This was the work of a small tribe of Dreamspeakers, taking revenge on the settlement displacing their ancestors.

        If we're going into other gamelines, I'd put Wraiths in there more than any of the others. Wraiths are really strange as antagonists, especially since the official word from the Technocracy is that they simply do not exist. So having your Scientists encounter things that they are not allowed to acknowledge officially would create an interesting point of contention.

        Also, a lot of what you throw at them would depend on which conventions your players are taking. There isn't much point throwing spirits stuff at them unless you have a few Void Engineers on the team.


        Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running UPDATE Chapter 26: Towers of Glass

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Saikou View Post
          That sounds like a pretty decent pitch for a great chronicle.

          Are you going to be running this as a Monster of the Week type story?
          So one story could be about a Sorcerer cult that's trying to summon a demon, lead by an infernalist mage (not necessarily a nephandi).
          Another could be about a series of impossible assassinations that turns out to be committed by a Euthanatos sect.
          Another could be a town has become unpopulated overnight, as in all these people who were there one minute are now gone. It turns out the people have been trapped in a Mirror Zone in which only their town exists, cut off from mainstream reality, surrounded by horrible monsters (spirits). This was the work of a small tribe of Dreamspeakers, taking revenge on the settlement displacing their ancestors.
          Yeah sorta like a Monster of the Week type deal. I might decide on some linking factor in some of the stories later on but the idea is to have a whole range of things I can show off in the Chronicle without it feeling unfocused.

          Those ideas are all fantastic by the way.

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          • #6
            Sounds awesome!


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            • #7
              Originally posted by PazuzuAxelf View Post
              Those backgrounds seem pretty straightforward to me. I can easily work with a player who invests in them. In fact, I planned on giving a few bonus points for character creation specificity for backgrounds to encourage taking things like this. I'm also thinking Enlightenment/Arete 3 to start.
              They seem straightforward, but they can very quickly change how the team deals with things. Though it goes hand in hand with the increased difficulty of Union missions given you have to maintain secrecy.

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              • #8
                Ok, my suggestion is: don't keep it only about the reality deviants. Introduce a little bit of good ol' political intrigue inside the Union itself. Make them see also some of the problems of the labirinthical bureoucracy inside the Union.

                How do you do this?

                First of all, assign them to a local Supervisor. The convention and methodology of that high ranking officer is very important. It would be preferable if your players are multi conventional, rather than being all from the same one. Try establishing possible divergency amongst your players and that Supervisor. I would recommend an Enforcer from the Syndicate for that position, or a Men in Grey if they are mostly Sindics or VEs. You could use a guy from SPD, if you wanna have their Supervisor as the "final boss" villain, and giving a hook to investigate the Pentex infiltration.

                Be that as it may, a few points:
                -The Supervisor oversees many amalgams, of which the PC will be one. Make at least one of those amalgams to be rivals (not mortal enemies, like traditionalists, but competitors). Those guys wanna the attention of the Supervisor, and the players are on their way. The two groups can't shoot lasers on each other of course, but they can show up on an investigating scene, trying to get the merits for themselves. If they think they can get away with it, they can even risk taking a few evidences from an investigation of the players. On many occasions however, that equip the players were counting on, were already requested... Let the players worship their Supervisor, who may even give put more wood on the fire, telling the players things like "well, amalgam 202 has already requested the quantum analizer... They asked it the moment they knew you guys were after ghosts... I'm not sure why they would use that thou, since they are know investigating vampires, and those doesn't have trans dimensional emanations..." The Supervisor may be playing the amalgams to play some hidden cards thou... Maybe diverting the attention on something he would like to hide...
                -The Supervisor has a rival too - another officer is his rival trying to get political influence inside the Union. Play with factions here - if one is a Progenitor or VE, make the other a Iterator. Now, that guy is more than just a civilized rival; this one has enough influence to give "tips" to several reality deviants to go against the PC and the other amalgams associated (he can't go on direct confrontation of course, but on dire situations, assassination could happen, but only with the most extreme care. Blackmail is something he would surely try, property destruction on rare occasions, and political undermining at levels that could be invisible to the players). The PC own Supervisor however, will probably return the favor... And may use the players for that. So, when the players are sent to "destroy a deviants lab", they should be careful about it... Even more so because those guys have the means to use their Field agents as " deniable assets", and get away with whatever except the most stupid things. So... Who will your players be loyal to?
                -Third: some agent is actually in working for some higher stance (maybe he works for Control directly, if that's still a thing for you). Reports have came to the right hands concerning what could be misbehavior of... Someone. That's good news for the players if they are careful: it's possible that two higher ranks could become avaiable for their promotion. Or... Well... Or, if the Supervisors are smart and the players stupid... Room 101 could be waiting.

                Add to all that all the problems with the Deviants, and they are ready for some paranoia game where no one is to be trusted.

                As for the linking between all deviants outside the Union, make it some Nephandi manipulador, they are great as villains. Hell, may the two rival Supervisors are being played by him too.

                Throw a few traditionalists who are really assholes, causing all sorts of mayhem, but also put some who are really nice guys. When you can, have the PC befriend a few traditionalists, guys who can save the PC on very important situations, and stablish a bound, to add a few complications. And if the players save some of those deviants, só much the better! An agent without secrets is not an agent at all... To play with the Union, make the secrets have their own secrets... If the players have prestine records... Well, make them do stuff they won't be putting in their reports... And let the paranoia of getting under the gaze of Control (or their superiors) make them look over their shoulders at all time (the rival amalgam would also love to learn a few of those secreta)

                EDIT: make both Supervisors constantly and actively try to find dirty on the players. When one (or both of them) do, he will make the PC his pawns on his pocket. But those guys have secrets too... Lots of them.

                Example: a Virtual Adept, that actually is an infiltrated NWO, is the contact of one of them inside traditionalist activities... The Supervisor uses that operarive as a counter infornation source, but sometimes also leaks things he shouldn't... To the prejudice of his rival.
                That agent don't even know it. If the players find out that one of the amalgams of the rival, or an agent assassinated due to some of this leaks, they could blackmail the Supervisor.
                Or they could be assassinated by Eutanathoi in the middle of the night if they don't be careful...
                Last edited by Karlgust; 01-27-2017, 06:23 PM.

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                • #9
                  I like those ideas, I just might steal them and start a Technocracy Chronicle.

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                  • #10
                    Another ideas:

                    -The players have a hidden "benefactor". From time to time, they'll get some help... But they don't from whom.
                    Who could that be? Maybe it's from Control itself... Why would Control do that? Perhaps, its a test. Will the players notify their untrustworth Supervisor, seek someone with bigger rank than him to notify that, seek a neutral party for help or keep it secret?
                    Maybe it's a Virtual Adept Máster. If anyone in the Union finds out, that could be seen as treachery.
                    Why would he do that? Maybe they have common goals. Maybe he believe the PC may be potential candidates for defection. Maybe he is manipulating them. The choice remais the same: inform the superiors or keep the secret?
                    Another: who knows? Maybe their new patron is something else...
                    Whatever it is, it could just stay as a hidden character. The main concern to the players would be: inform the superiors or keep the secret? (Make it so in a way that they would actually fear the consequences. For example, if they start suspecting of their Superior, they probably wouldn't tell him... But it's like dirty cops you know? What do you do if you see a bunch of cops commiting a crime? Who will you ask for help?)

                    -An enemy among us - technocrats aren't the only ones that infiltrate the Traditions. Two can play that game. An very very bold etherite or virtual adept is living in one of the closer amalgams to the players. That guy is always friendly to the players, and is the leader of a allied amalgam (as opposed to the rival one). If he is discovered, the players may be implied. Actually, its good that the players finds out about him; that spy, of course, took precautious to imply the players in his schemes, if he were ever revealed. Now, he can use the players as unwilling pawns -making matters worse.

                    -Help me please! A traditionalist comes for the players seeking for help. He agrees to become a mole inside the traditions for them if they help him get rid of some deep problem (he wouldn't make such a deal unless for something serious; maybe a Cabal of Euthanatos found out that he were doing something very bad; for now, only this other group knows, so the players will need to race against time to eliminate all proofs against their potential contact before they tell others). Many twists are possible here, at your sadistic desire - that could be a trap, or this Mage could be an infernalist, or even full nephandi. If he is nephandi, will they toast him - or the opportunity to get such a mole is too good to pass? Well, maybe, having those informations, they can control him, since he'll be in their pockets... Or so they think.

                    The new guy: after the players formed some bound, a new agent arrives, and with him, a letter to the Supervisor; he is to join the PC amalgam. Signed: Control.
                    Make that one a weirdo and misterious. A Cyborg from It-X, a ultra perfect girl with Green eyes and huge tits from the Progenitors, too perfect to let anyone too confortable around, or some lunatic VE that looks like is talking to himself all the time and never look anyone in the eyes, with clothes and hair always messed up.
                    Whats the purpose of this guy? Why would Control place him with the players? (For that one, I like that the answer is: no reason. He is just a helping hand with Dimensional Science/Life/Matter or any other Spheres the players may be lacking. Control just placed that agent to improve the efficiency of the amalgam. But let the players be paranoid with him... Which is a great way to generate ressentment. Also, if you go with the It X cyborg or the perfected Progenitor, that character should have a superiority/inferiority complex. He/She is better than human... But at the same time, he doesn't feel as apreciated as "those inferiors". Thát NPC won't show it all the times, but may give little hints on looks and behavior)

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                    • #11
                      Vacations on Autochtonia: that one is only possible without all the meta, if Autochtonia is still a thing (I also hated all that metaplot). One of the players gets a strict message, without any previous note: take the first vessel to Autochtonia IMEDIATLY.
                      After a week, he returns. Without any memories about the entire time he were out. Even Mind can't restore his memories of this time.

                      Well...

                      That will make the players shit their pants.

                      And what happened there?

                      Thats anyone's guess. You don't even need it revelead; maybe Control extracted everything he knows from him. Maybe the agent now has a secret conditioning. Maybe he were subjected to some horrendous experiments, that its best he doesn't remember. Or maybe something more inocuous, he just helped with some secret project, but had to erase the memories about for the sake of secrecy. Whatever it is, the important part is to keep the players in constantly paranoia, and to have that sense that "Control is watching"

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                      • #12
                        One thing that I personally find makes for a good Technocracy game, don't ALWAYS stick to the tried and trusty 'reality police' format. Give your agents a mission to some place on the front lines of earth. Send them to third world nations to subvert the machinations of the traditions, trying to pull the country into a 'dark age' of free magic. Places where they aren't the big dog, but they're also a lot freer to use whatever means necessary.

                        Give them some time to actually build up a technocratic apparatus before confronting the local mages.

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                        • #13
                          Lots of great material here you guys! I will definitely be referring back to this thread when writing for the game in the future.

                          Originally posted by ChristopherZacher View Post
                          Sounds awesome!
                          Thanks!
                          Last edited by PazuzuAxelf; 01-28-2017, 08:44 PM.

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                          • #14
                            If you're going to run a Technocrat game like The X-Files (etc.), you might want to read the Book of Madness, as it has material on how the Union handles phenomenon outside of its wheelhouse (as in, things the Union party line denies exist). To put it simply, it has to run it as a conspiracy within a conspiracy (which is why watching X-Files can be informative). Agents who encounter ghosts or demons (and presumably also the Fey) tend to be assigned to the same sort of cases. This serves the double purpose of putting the most knowledgeable personnel on the job (for the purposes of maximizing chances of success), and to contain that very knowledge on a need-to-know basis (so that "normal" agents can remain blissfully ignorant of verboten topics). This has the effect of leaving such agents alienated from their fellow Technocrats, in the same way that FBI agents assigned to the X-Files were ridiculed or pitied (depending on how much they seemed to believe in the paranormal phenomena they investigate).

                            So first and foremost, your amalgam is going to be on poor terms with other amalgams, who might be derisive of those stuck on cases that are weird even for Enlightened folks. The post may be punishment assignment within the Union, with few chances for advancing out of it (partly because the Union wants to keep those who deal with such things isolated). Try to have at least one of the player characters be just such an unfortunate agent, who failed, was framed, pissed off a higher up, or simply got in the way of someone's plans, and got transferred to the amalgam.

                            For that matter, the same lack of respect among the amalgam's peers may very easily exist among their superiors, including the ones holding the purse strings. When budget meetings come up, the amalgam handling "special cases" should be lower on the list of priorities, especially when every Convention demands more funding for their projects. Lack of resources should be a problem for the group, until or unless they can either make their superiors take them more seriously, or find a way to supplement their budget through other methods.

                            This not only deals with raw cash, but the kinds of materials - mundane or otherwise - that cash could supply. While you can let characters take backgrounds like Backup and Requisitions, you may want to limit them to a certain number of dots for the entire amalgam. They simply don't have the pull in the Union to expect squads of armed dudes or special equipment. The amalgam's superiors will also be wary of granting either, unless there's a demonstrateable justification for it. Asking for some more dudes is reasonable if the amalgam is raiding a large compound or trying to search a huge area. Less so if they just want to curbstomp a minor threat that the amalgam could take out themselves. Same with frivalous requests for tanks or laser rifles or HIT Marks. The Union's resources are stretched thin everywhere, and the player amalgam simply is not important enough to be making demands.

                            Treat this as a challenge for the players. They can't expect to use their backgrounds to overpower their opposition or solve their problems. Instead, they need to use their wits and what resources they can leverage for themselves. It fosters creativity, and promotes the players really getting involved in the locations they visit and the characters they meet.


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                            • #15
                              Give the game The Black Watchmen a look in. Not so much for story ideas - though you could harvest it - for puzzle ideas to put your people to and the kind of intelligence gathering they might get up to when they roll their Investigate/Research/etc checks.

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