The Untamed Wilds: Electric Skies

Kwargrow

Explorer
OOC:
This uses the TUW 2e gaming system created in 2008. Information on the system can be found in the Community page: The Untamed Wilds. The first edition was printed in 1988.


The Helton Metroplex



Helton, the New Glitter City, where the only things worth having are fake and expensive. Helton sprawl reaches as far west as Victoria and Columbus, to the north in Conroe and Cleveland, and east to the eighty-foot Sabine Wall on the banks of the Sabine River, where beyond that the encroaching Gulf of Mexico had turned what was once called Louisiana into an enormous swamp populated with thirty-foot-long alligators and snakes that can swallow a person whole.


After the Violent Shift the survivors of the Midwest surged to the south, desperate to escape Way storms that rolled down from the mountains and destroyed almost everything in their path. The population of Helton tripled in less than a decade, leaving the largest problem of how to feed so many new mouths. Farms outside the city limits were eradicated by swarms of insects and packs of dogs that the reemerging Way lines had increased to monstrous size and ferocious appetites. With the Way lines affecting the appearance of humans, new racist groups were attacking anyone they could make a scapegoat of. With the collapse of the federal government, there was no outside aid, and Helton teetered on the brink of collapse that had reduced so many other great cities to ruin.


It was the influence of magic that saved the metropolis as academics experimented and learned about the new wave of energy that technology could not detect or manipulate. The ‘magicians’ joined law enforcement and hospitals, bringing order and stability to the ever-widening city. Massive skyscrapers were built both to house people and to grow food with aeroponic levels that were maintained and distributed by the inhabitants of the same buildings. Robots maintain the plants, and the people guard the robots and sell the food for a profit. With abundant food sources, more people moved from other failing areas of the country, telling stories about monsters thought to be myths, but as always the greatest threats were roving gangs of people killing and taking whatever they could.


With the widespread destruction of the Violent Shift, the oil industry collapsed, and fuel reserves were quickly consumed. Once the epicenter for fossil fuels, Helton had to adapt and evolve. Tall Tesla towers were erected to broadcast electricity all over the city, and to power these towers the most abundant resource was utilized, people. New devices were invented to transform the motion of people into useable energy, along with widespread solar panel and wind turbines built into the city structures, and all ground vehicles were transferred to electric. Air ships were implemented to transport goods and people far above the congested streets, and new railways were built for the fastest mode of transportation across the city.


Helton is now the largest city in North America and has started to accept international trade again. Twenty two million people call it home.


Leadership: The Helton City Council administrates the massive city, although bribes from corporate interests often sway votes to the benefit of a few over the many. Helton is divided up into hundreds of districts and city council elections are heated affairs with more than a few assassinations of promising candidates over the years.


Transportation: Widespread and reliable public transportation is available at all hours. The cheapest and fastest are the railways that stretch from one end of the city to the other, stopping at regular rail stations along the way. Private citizens still rent out their services and vehicles as an alternate means of transportation to anywhere in the city. The roadways are wide and there are no lanes since all are connected to the VR realm. The most expensive means to get around are airships for those who have the means to avoid the crowded rails and congested roads. With the invention of the Vehicle Link Displays, all means of transportation are connected by the VR Realm and accidents are now rare and minimal in damage.


Law Enforcement: The Helton Police Department solves crimes and keeps the peace. The world might have drastically changed, but humanity hasn’t, and the same old crimes are committed every day. The emergence of the Way lines has brought about new controlled substances as magical drugs can increase Way line manipulation for a time, yet can cause the user to lose control and attack anything close by.


Nearby places of interest:

The Gulf of Mexico: The Violent Shift swept the gulf clear of oil drilling platforms, yet no residual remains of any oil spill was seen. The coastline was battered by tremendous waves, wiping away island populations like Galveston. Large boats still fish the gulf, but reports of tremendous marine life are well documented and sometimes ships set out into the water and never return.


Louisiana: The major populations of the former state are all gone, yet the guards of the Sabine Wall report seeing some tribes of people in the distance, sometimes riding on the backs of giant alligators.


The Big Thicket: The forests to the north of Houston have all regrown, populated by tribes of secretive elves, giants, and orcs.


Dallas/Fort Worth: No one knows why but a major Way storm descended on the Dallas/ Fort Worth area and has been swirling over the remains of the dual cities since the Violent Shift. No one that has travelled there has ever returned.


Austin: The former capital of Texas was rocked by earthquakes that toppled most of the buildings. It is now an abandoned ruin populated by wild animals.


San Antonio: After the collapse of the federal government San Antonio was taken over by deserters from the Mexican army. There is little communication between their leadership and the Helton Council.
 
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Kwargrow

Explorer
Part One: A chance encounter

It’s a cloudy night but the Helton Metroplex is as bright as always. Floating lights illuminate the sidewalks and shine from the tops of buildings high above the Columbus sector, close to the western edge of the city. In the ground floor window of one tall, square skyscraper the words ‘Axelrad Lounge’ are spelled out in flashing lights alternating green and purple. On the road in between the buildings cars, trucks, and cycles roll by in perfect precision, their safe conduct guaranteed by their connection to the VR realm. Above, moving between the towering structures, drones bring packages, and air ships fly by with passengers.

The city doesn’t notice one little fight.

Thomas, Hawkeye, and Syd Vicious are outside the Axelrad Lounge, having just trounced five go-gangers from the Hudu Krew that thought they would start a problem. The violent attack had no explanation, just pure malice and intent to harm. Bouncers from the lounge came out at the commotion, along with some of the patrons, but after some explanation, the three victors were allowed to go their own way.

As they return to their jobs in the bar, once bouncer asks another, “What the hells are the Hudu Krew doing out this way? This is the Wild Wongos’ territory.”

The second bouncer, a burly orc, shrugs his broad shoulders and replies, “I hope this pain-spill don’t cause another gang scuffle. Nobody wants to party when there’s blood on the streets.”

The crowd of curious patrons returns to the bar except for one woman, who nods her head at the three. She’s a little over six feet tall, has dark hair, and tan skin. She is dressed casually in a plain black dress that comes down to her knees. She appears barefoot at first, but closer examination reveals both her legs are cybernetic.

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With a refined Texas twang she says, “You look like you can handle yourselves well. That’s good. I’m Shatterframe. I’m a fixer. I run jobs for Freelancers, or Runners, if you prefer the new term.” Glancing at the unconscious go-gangers she smirks and says, “If you would like to talk some business, we can go back inside to my table. Don’t worry about the creeps. They’ll bugger off or either get picked up by the Wild Wongos."
 
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Waynan

Explorer
Syd knew he was the one who started this mess when one of the Hudu Krew called him out. Damn, but the past always seems to bite one in the ass. That Thomas and Hawkeye jumped in to help surprised Syd at first; but then, this motley assortment of characters had found a vibe together from first meeting and they had wanted to come to the Axelrad for a few drinks, some cool beats and to feel each other out a little more to see just how well they might work together.
Well, his old go-ganger chums were just the ones to prove that the three of them had excellent and synchronous instincts in a mess.
Syd was completely surprised to find the Hudus this far into Wongo territory. Something was going down and if the Hudus were involved then the Ju Ju Zombies couldn't be far behind. How was he going to explain this, especially to Hawkeye who's parents, by the story Hawk told them, were probably killed by the Zombies. It fit their MO.
But, he needed Hawkeye to get back at Texaco, the largest Tesla Tower corp, at least in Texas. Unfortunately, Hawkeye was all about vengeance against the go-gangers. And now, beating on his old crew, or Krew, one of whom Syd was certain had recognized him, things were going to get sticky. Not that he wasn't up for the fight. Syd actually loved "slicing-n-dicing", he just was hoping it would be against the Johnsons in the suits.
Now, this woman, Shatterframe, had seen it all, the fight that is, and is wanting to recruit them for her interests. Not that Syd couldn't use the nuyen.
Well, he hoped Hawkeye would do the wheeling-n-dealing. The only time Syd talked "business", was when his fists, blades or guns did the talking.
 
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MacConnell

Creator of The Untamed Wilds
Thomas looks at the woman as she speaks. He nods to his two new friends and makes an agreeable gesture with his head toward the offer, though he does not yet speak. He picks up one of the fallen Hudus and pins him against the brick wall, holding him up by the neck using his left hand, while he rifles through his clothing with his right, looking for cred, weapons, or anything useful.

He drops the still, breathing, foe and strolls back into the bar to Shatterframe's table. His extremely deep voice is quiet and lacks useful inflection. With his size, it often makes others think of him as slow, dim-witted. "Friends have taken to calling me Trollick. That will do. Shall we call you Shatterframe? What is the gig?"
 

Kwargrow

Explorer
OOC: The main communication device in this future is still called a phone, which can be installed under Cybernetics or be a handheld device. Phones can make or receive calls from anywhere within the city as 3D holograms, audio only, or text only. Phones can contact the VR for performing everyday tasks, searching for information or directions. Phones are easily available and it is assumed characters have access to one unless they are prevented during gameplay. You can own multiple phones or access multiple phones lines through one device. There are no phone numbers, all phones are connected through the VR. Phones can be hacked through the VR and used to spy against the user. Because of this most Freelancers only use the voice to text mode and hardly ever use the hologram.


OOC: Money is measured in credits, which is kept on small, rectangular credsticks. Everyone has their own credstick, not useable by other people unless the code is broken in the VR, which is enforced by banks. You can choose to not have bank enforcement, using only credsticks to hold your credits, but then anyone who gets hands on your credstick can break it and steal your money.
 

Kwargrow

Explorer
If you posted this week, gain 5 xp.

Searching the Hudu Krew gains you: 5 personal credsticks, bank enforced; 4 low quality knives (sellable for 20 credit at a resale shop), clothes (you can steal their matching faux-leather jackets as a sign of disrespect. Doing this will earn you a grudge from the go-gang) Truly these were the scrubs.

While you search the gang, Shatterframe says, “Do you know the Hudu Krew are operated by the Mars corporation? Most of the gangs are run by corporations of course. The rank and file soldiers don’t know that, but the leaders all answer to someone in a nice suit or they don’t survive. Everyone has their place on the food chain, even Freelancers.”

Now, this woman, Shatterframe, had seen it all, the fight that is, and is wanting to recruit them
Friends have taken to calling me Trollick. That will do. Shall we call you Shatterframe?
Victory Drinks


Shatterframe nods. “A pleasure to meet you three.” With no objections, Shatterframe leads the way in the Axelrad Lounge.


Relishing their victory, the three decide a drink with a new friend couldn’t hurt. They follow Shatterframe into the Axelrad Lounge, the sound washing over them as they entered. There was music coming through the ceiling speakers, but it was background noise. This was a place for conversations. There is a dance floor, with one passionate couple grinding away at each other, but most of the clientele were seated in booths along the walls, some of them with weapons on the table The Axelrad Lounge did not require anyone to give up their weapons, but they do require a device placed over firearms to prevent them from firing. The devices would be removed when they leave, the standard policy around Helton.


Shatterframe’s booth has chairs large enough to fit giants, and she motions you to pick your seat with a charming smile. After you are seated, you can use your phone to send your drink order to the table, which will relay the order to a waiter who will bring it to you. They serve edible drinks only, but beyond that they can make anything within reason. Shatterframe orders a glass of white wine, takes out an inhaler stick and starts to puff on it.

She says, “First round is on me, of course. Let me start by telling you a little about myself. You know my name, I’m a former Freelancer that managed to live long enough to become a fixer. When I saw you stand up to that gang out there, it told me that you have guts and skill, two things that can bring you the necessary credits to live a long healthy life in this world.

So, here’s my proposition. I set up the jobs and provide safe transportation to and from the job site. I’ll be staying in my car, and you guys will do the out of car work. You won’t pay me, I’ll take my cut from the clients, but I will pay you on behalf of the clients. For instance, there are several jobs I could use the three of you on.”



You all receive a message on your phone. (If you decide to not have a phone, then Shatterframe slides you a folded piece of paper)

The received message is this list:
First offer: In Cleveland district, close to the northern border of the city, a lounge of lizards from the thick forests outside of Helton have attacked the community. Could be good target practice.
Pay: 2000 credits each

Second offer: In Sugarland there is a storage unit that I’ve lost the key to. I need you to open this locked storage unit. Inside you will find a box. You may open the box, I just need what’s inside. You don’t have to keep the box, just the statue inside the box. Bring me that statue.
Pay: 2500 credits each

Third offer: Down on the coast in a place called Surfside Beach four people have disappeared. All of their equipment, supplies, clothes, and vehicles were found, just no people. I need you to investigate their disappearance. As per their choice by law, the families involved have elected to hire Freelancers instead of the HPD to solve this mystery, so don’t count on cooperation from law enforcement.
Pay: 1500 credits each


You receive another message with an address and Shatterframe tells you, “You can take these jobs in any order or you can wait for new jobs to pop up. There is nothing illegal in having these messages, but some of the things you do to fulfill these jobs will be illegal. I can answer any questions you have now.”
 
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Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Hawkeye speaks up!

OOC: I didn't realize that the actual story thread was active, or I would have posted before now. I have this thread bookmarked now, so that oversight won't happen again. :cool:


OOC: Question about phones: what would be the related skill required to modify one's phone, to make it harder to hack in the VR?


Hawkeye speaks up, "I'm down with that; I have a day-job with TI, but I work from home / my mobile office, so I can multi-task. As long as my projects get turned in on time, they don't care what my daily timetable is. 2500 extra cred sounds great to me, why don't we check out that storage unit? As for the box, if the contents are as delicate as a statue, I'd imagine the box is built to protect it from breakage. I'd recommend getting the box, opening it to ensure the statue is inside, make sure the box doesn't have tracking software, and then just use it to transport the statue safely. We should also check the box out astrally, to make sure there's no traceable auras on it. Whaddya say, guys?"
 

MacConnell

Creator of The Untamed Wilds
Trollick Is Intrigued

If you posted this week, gain 5 xp.

Searching the Hudu Krew gains you: 5 personal credsticks, bank enforced; 4 low quality knives (sellable for 20 credit at a resale shop), clothes (you can steal their matching faux-leather jackets as a sign of disrespect. Doing this will earn you a grudge from the go-gang) Truly these were the scrubs.
Trollick will confiscate the credsticks. Until he learns better, he will simple hold these waiting for the right opportunity to give them over to Hawkeye for hacking. He considers it a waste of time to pawn the knives, so if the other two do not want them, he will deposit them in the club's dumpster. He will, also, take the jackets for spite, tossing them in the dumpster, after carving out one of the insignia with one of their knives. He will keep the insignia.

GM said:
While you search the gang, Shatterframe says, “Do you know the Hudu Krew are operated by the Mars corporation? Most of the gangs are run by corporations of course. The rank and file soldiers don’t know that, but the leaders all answer to someone in a nice suit or they don’t survive. Everyone has their place on the food chain, even Freelancers.”
"Good to know."

GM said:
...The Axelrad Lounge did not require anyone to give up their weapons, but they do require a device placed over firearms to prevent them from firing. The devices would be removed when they leave, the standard policy around Houston.
Trollick makes no attempt to conceal the possession of his firearm. He removes it from the holster at the small of his back, placing it on the table, using the provided device to safety it.

GM said:
... You all receive a message on your phone...

The received message is this list:
...
At the vibration, Trollick removes his phone from its pouch on the outside of his left thigh. It is a voice to text, only phone. He thumbs in his code and reads the messages, sliding over to the a different icon in the middle of doing so to place his beer order at Shatterframe's expense. "Hmm. The last one sounds the most complicated with the most possible complications, yet offers the lowest cred. The first sounds straight forward and simple. The second... well, I do not know."
 
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Waynan

Explorer
At this point Syd speaks up:
"I'm ready to do any of the jobs on the list, guys.", he says as he puts his phone away in one of his armored vest pockets, "I'm ready to get some action, any action; especially if credits are involved. If I may suggest, however... I'd like a go at the second job on the list."
Syd smiles at Shatterframe, then looks to Trollick and Hawkeye for their response.
 
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MacConnell

Creator of The Untamed Wilds
At this point Syd speaks up:
"I'm ready to do any of the jobs on the list, guys.", he says ..."I'd like a go at the second job on the list."
Trollick rubs his bearded chin with his left hand. "We have only just met. Perhaps we should move for a job that sounds more straight forward that way we can get a feel for one another's tactics. The lizard jobs sounds quick and straight forward, even if a bit dull."
 

Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Hawkeye scoffs, "Sounds like a muscle job to me. What would you like me to do, film it?"

Hawkeye gives the group his trademarked "wry grin," hoping that the joke goes over as well as it did when he imagined it in his mind's eye.
 

Waynan

Explorer
Syd smirks at Hawkeye's comment as he thinks about it for a moment, then answers Trollick:

"Well, maybe; but I have found that what seems simple is never quite as."
 

MacConnell

Creator of The Untamed Wilds
Trollick Continues to Converse

Hawkeye scoffs, "Sounds like a muscle job to me. What would you like me to do, film it?"
Trollick presses his tongue against his cheek and rubs his bearded chin again. "That's not a bad idea."
Syd smirks at Hawkeye's comment as he thinks about it for a moment, then answers Trollick:"Well, maybe; but I have found that what seems simple is never quite as."
"Which is my assessment of the retrieval job. It seems the simplest task yet offers the highest pay."
 

Kwargrow

Explorer
OOC:
Question about phones: what would be the related skill required to modify one's phone, to make it harder to hack in the VR?
Phones come with built in defenses but beyond that people can increase their phone security by adding their Commercial Task- Inversion. Unless someone is hunting you the phone hack won't often be an issue. The only time it is regularly used is when someone enters a restricted area, such as certain garden skyscrapers, then the building security would hack the phone to spy on whoever was in their building.
 

Kwargrow

Explorer
If you posted during the previous week, your character receives 5 xp.

Shatterframe smiles and nods at your banter. "Whatever you decide, be at the address in three hours and we'll get to work. You may use your own transportation for the job if you wish. You have my number from the messages I sent you. I don't receive or send holograms. Now I need to prepare for our journey." She stands up and leaves the booth, inviting the three to stay as long as they like.

The atmosphere of the Axelrad Lounge appeals to the new Runners. The staff seems professional and competent, and the other customers seem content to mind their own business. You may use the Axelrad Lounge for meetings again if you like. Trollick, Syd Vicious, and Hawkeye take the time to chat and get to know each other better, sharing a few stories of their experience and how they built their skill sets. During the conversation the group decides to take the Cleveland job and knock out a few lizards. The quick, simple task will help the team adjust to each other.

At 2:00 am the three leave the lounge and travel to the address twenty blocks away. The electric sign depicts a plate of cheese nachos with a comical face driving in a sparkling black convertible. The text next to it reads 'Nacho Ordinary Vehicle Repair Center'. This street doesn't look much different from the one you left, with floating lights illuminating skyscrapers as far as you can see and different businesses on the ground floors with their signs glaring in vibrant colors. There is a little more traffic with vehicles speeding past on the street, but at this hour not much business is done.

As you arrive, the cargo door at the repair center rolls up and a plain maroon Ford van pulls out. The doors open and you can see Shatterframe seated in the operator chair with the Vehicle Link Display over her eyes.

"Glad you fellas could make it. Get in," she says through the van's intercom, which sounds remarkably like her own voice. From your experience with VLD's you know the operator can hear and see everything happening in their vehicle from internal sensors monitoring the passengers. There is ample space for the three of you. Traffic is sparse on the way to Cleveland district and Shatterframe is quickly able to reach peak speed on the highway so you arrive in good time.

Some Helton districts have exterior walls to protect citizens from what lives outside the city, and Cleveland is one of those districts. Shatterframe drives you through quiet streets to the thirty foot wall. Over the barrier the group can see the tops of trees from the overgrown Sam Houston forest. At the base of the concrete, in a shallow gully underneath a floating light, one man and one woman are waiting next to a bent and torn drainage grate with a hole large enough for a giant to fit through. They are both carrying shotguns.

Shatterframe tells you, "Your contacts names are Travis and Luceena. They'll point you at the lizards and you earn some quick pay."

You leave the van and approach the man and woman. Although their faces look distraught, they are friendly and shake hands with you when introductions are made. Travis is a short man with dark skin and a long goatee. Luceena is an elf over a foot taller than Travis, has lighter skin with curly green hair. They are both wearing flannel shirts and overalls.

Travis motions to the twisted grate and tells you, "Big lizards come in through here. Bastards. We're not allowed to leave the city to go after them or we would, but I guess that's what you're here for."

Luceena says,"Four of those things got in here when our horses were out to graze. They got our babies, Trydthrough and Maxina. We killed two of the things, but the others ran back through here. Bring us the heads and the credits are yours."
 
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MacConnell

Creator of The Untamed Wilds
Trollick nods, calming himself and expanding his sensitivity to the surrounding area. He is comfortable in the wilds that deter the urbanites, having grown up in them. With no adieu nor any further delay, he stoops through the opening in the grate. He pauses on the other side to wait for his friends.
[sblock=Perception]Effectiveness: Mind + Knowledge + Commercial

This passive technique represents noticing patterns, anomalies, or dangers in the immediate area due to seeing or hearing or even smelling things subconsciously. This may be augmented by various active or passive Collegiate Tasks. There is no random aspect to this task. This task may be opposed by Blend or Stealth, whichever is more appropriate.

Check: effectiveness + Konokoro (Collegiate) + d100: 13 + 18 + 82 = 113[/sblock]
 
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Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Hawkeye takes a few moments to don his suit of heavy armor. He looks like a fish out of water, stumbling around in it, obviously having never worn it before. But after a minute or two, he seems to acclimate to the bulkiness, and his movements become less awkward, if not completely fluid.

Hawkeye says, "Big, clunky gun, check. Heavy, bulky armor, check. Ok, I'm ready. Let's go shoot some lizards!"

Hawkeye plods along behind Trollick, trying not to look like a total newb.
 

Waynan

Explorer
Syd says nothing, just nods and follows behind. Hawkeye and Trollick will make perfect shields, if they get ambushed coming through the grate and drain pipe...but, then, since Syd was smaller and quick (out of necessity growing up on the streets all his life), and as the three got to know each other, the two "big guys" agreed that this was probably the best battle tactic, allowing Syd to use his ambush tactics to the best effect against hostiles.

He also kept silent because, Syd was a true street kid and had never been around natural things except for the occasional city park, and all this "green" had him as nervous as a bag of cats.
 

Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
As Hawkeye reaches Trollick's position, he also pauses to take in his surroundings.

OOC: Perception die roll (d100): 63, non-mulligan.
 

Waynan

Explorer
Perception Roll: 59
Dang, but I miss Mulligans.

SYd finds that his two large compatriots fairly effectively block his forward line of sight when he is behind them, so he slows enough to get a few paces behind them and relies on his street sense (a sort of anxiety, really) to feel out any danger in their immediate proximity. All this green, though, was still a little unnerving. He felt naked, even though there were a lot of trees and shrubs.

"Keep it together, boy."​, he kept thinking to himself as he looked intently into every shadow.
 
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