IRON JAWBONE - A 24XX SOLO ACTUAL PLAY
This was my first session where I tried playing the 24XX system solo. Here is an actual play, set in the far future.
Far future in deep space. The space station 14-ON (14th Orbital Node) is orbiting a terrestrial world. Due to its shape, it is usually not called 14-ON, but IRON JAWBONE. Huge cities span across the interior of the space station. The world that Iron Jawbone orbits, TOM MURPHY, is a hub for space traffic in this sector. Despite this, the process of terraforming Tom Murphy is slow and will not be completed for some time. As a result, most people live in the space station above.
I originally played this back in November, shortly before Thanksgiving. I shared this session with people by passing around a Google Doc, but I figured it would be better to move it to a more permanent place, since I was sharing the game journal I was actively playing in. I had very little idea of what these character would be like going into this, just quickly drawing up three out of the character creation rules in the 24XX SRD. I used a simple oracle and a couple tables out of the Universal NPC Emulator, however I was surprised by how easily I was able to just lean on the game's ruleset to take care of things for me. What you see in the above section is also about all I wrote down about the setting - I went into this session with a cool idea for a scene, a raid on a train, and just went for it.
MAKING AN ENTRANCE
Scene: The Powerlift, the train system that connects the space station across each of its three districts: Anchor, The Shallows, and High Point. Atop the train, D-Team have secured themselves to the roof of Car 3 and are ready to breach the train. Inside, members of a gang local to Anchor have taken control and everyone is a hostage. D-Team takes position, nods to one another, and jumps back. With one smooth motion into a chaotic scene, each of the three swings into the window, kicking it in. Hopefully, the element of surprise will be enough.
The train car is full of civilians and two gang members, one by the door and one in the middle of the car. D-Team crashes through the windows and Archie fires at the gang member in the middle of the car with his rifle.
Archie (Shooting): 3, setback or partial success.
The gangster is shot in the shoulder but is not out, and ducks behind civilians in the car to avoid being hit again. Kirka raises her shotgun and fires at the gangster standing by the door.
Kirka (Shooting): 2, failure.
Kirka fires her shotgun as the civilians in the car scream and duck, but she fires too high and the blast goes over the gangster’s head. He returns fire and she’s hit, the bullet damaging her black battle armor. Seeing an opportunity to keep them from getting hit, Zemi drops a smoke grenade.
Zemi (Explosives): 2, failure.
Zemi rolls a smoke grenade down the aisle, but the pin is jammed and after a brief puff of smoke, it fails to activate. Zemi is standing in the middle of the aisle, exposed. The gangster at the door takes the opportunity to fire on Zemi and, because she is exposed, the bullets hit. They ping off her battle armor around her shoulders and torso, making it difficult for her to maneuver. (This represents a hindrance for Zemi later.) The gangster behind the civilians takes one as a hostage. Archie, always the good shot, takes the risk and raises his rifle to shoot the gangster.
Archie (Shooting): 8! Total success.
Archie fires and the gangster goes limp, collapsing immediately. The man he was holding puts as much distance as he can between himself and the now-dead criminal.
Kirka levels her shotgun at the gangster at the door and asks him to drop his weapon.
Kirka (Persuade): 3, setback or partial success.
The gangster appears to recognize that he’s outnumbered and in a bad position. He keeps his gun raised, though. [At this point, I spoke with my fiance for a few minutes and the pacing slowed down. So, I decided I’d go for a pacing move to get back into it. Pacing: 2, reveal a new detail. From UNE, I rolled on the NPC noun table and got Conscript, implying this guy may be a greenhorn.] D-Team has a chance to look at this gangster carefully. He is younger and does not appear to be very experienced. His hands shake on the gun - he is nervous. [I rolled again in UNE on the NPC bearing table this time, and got Resentment.] It’s clear to the team that the young man is not happy with this situation, both with the gang for putting him here and with D-Team for killing his partner and pointing their weapons at him. Archie is going to ask him to stand down, and he will get some help on the roll from the situation, which is that the gangster is hesitant.
Archie (Persuade): 1, 6. Because of the help from the situation, he is able to take the higher roll from the D6.
The gangster reluctantly puts the weapon down, and Kirka puts him in handcuffs. D-Team looks through the window into the next car. There are civilians and no gangsters. The team walks into the next car, Car 2.
Roll for bad luck: 5, no bad luck. They look into Car 1. There are civilians inside and no gangsters. As D-Team enters the car, one of the civilians tells Zemi that she overheard the gang talking about…
UNE NPC motivation: Compel Magic. The gangsters are trying to use everyone onboard for some kind of ritual. This is disturbing news.
The team looks into the Conductor’s Booth. There are four gangsters inside. They don’t have the conductor held hostage inside, however the end of the line is coming soon. Whatever ritual they’re trying to conduct must involve getting there at this speed, which doesn’t bode well. D-Team tells the civilians in Car 1 to retreat to the rear cars and they separate the last few cars (Car 2, 3, and A, which is an auxiliary car for storage).
D-Team takes position outside the door to the Conductor’s Booth. Archie stands back from the window, lines up his rifle with the head of the driver, and takes the shot.
Archie (Shooting): 3, setback or partial success.
The shot goes cleanly through the window and kills the driver instantly. The gangster behind the control panel slumps forward onto the throttle and the whole train jerks as it begins to move a little faster. Zemi tries again to use a smoke grenade, pulling the pin and tossing it in.
Zemi (Explosives, hindered from the damaged shoulder plate on the armor earlier): 1, failure.
She pulls the pin on the smoke grenade and tries to throw it through both windows, but it gets stuck in the sealed passage between the two cars, and smoke billows, filling both. Nobody can see well. Kirka readies her shotgun and waits.
One of the gangsters tries to fire through the door but fails, and the bullet ricochets around the cab until it hits him in the side. He falls to the floor and covers his wound.
Another gangster exits the cab and tries to pull on the seal on either side of the passageway to let the smoke out so they can see what they’re doing in the cab. She likewise fails and not only can’t remove the seal, but is exposed by standing in the passageway. Kirka is close enough and the gangster is exposed enough that she is not hindered by the smoke. She blasts the gangster with her shotgun.
Kirka (Shooting): 8! Total success.
The gangster’s body is filled with shot and falls limp in the passage. The third gangster enters the passage and tries to locate the mechanism to separate Car 1. As much as they needed the people on-board for the ritual, he doesn’t want to be caught. He tries to separate the car from the locomotive, with a setback. He successfully disconnects the car, but he is stuck in the passage as space opens up below him. As the seal is broken, smoke rushes out of both rooms. He is unable to keep his footing and falls through, crushed under the speeding train car.
Kirka drops her shotgun. She takes several steps back and lines up with the door of the Conductor’s Booth. She is the one on the team with the best chance of stopping the train, due to her knowledge of electronics. She takes a breath, runs forward, and jumps across the gap.
Kirka (Leaping): 6! Total success.
She lands in the locomotive successfully. The gangster on the ground, still clutching his wound, raises his gun and fires with partial success - he gets the shot off, but is out of ammunition. As soon as Kirka lands in the Conductor’s Booth, she has the wind knocked out of her as the bullet buries itself in the battle armor. She recoils and braces herself against the opposite wall. This hinders her, but she is determined to stop this train as soon as possible, and shoves the body in the driver’s seat to the floor. She attempts to use the control panel to stop the train.
Kirka (Hacking): 2, failure.
The bullet from earlier cracked the panel and the blood and damage to the screen have made it difficult to use. There’s not enough time to open up the panel and try to connect to the underlying control system. She looks to her right and sees the emergency brake. Roll for bad luck? 1, the gangster is directly in front of the hatch where the brake is. Kirka stands up and tries to move the gangster.
Kirka (Hand to Hand): 1, failure.
The two, both in rough shape, thrash about while slipping on the blood and water on the floor. Kirka gets the upper hand, but the gangster pulls a cheap shot and knees her in the side, in a gap in the armor. He bashes in the faceplate of the battle armor, breaking it. Roll for bad luck (end of the line)? 5, there’s still some time before the train gets there, although not much. Kirka rears back with the heavy, armored gauntlet, and hopes to knock out this asshole.
Kirka (Hand to Hand): 2, failure.
Kirka winds up and throws a punch, missing as the gangster scrambles out of the way. He eyes a heavy wrench on the other side of the cab and tries to go for it, however he exposes himself by crossing paths with the doorway.
Archie (Shooting): 7, success.
From the retreating Car 1, as it loses its momentum, Archie lines up a shot and fires at the gangster, who is going for the wrench. The gangster’s body goes limp, and Kirka has a chance to pull the brake. Anyone can pull a brake, but the question is if Kirka can do it in time.
Kirka (Mechanical): 3, partial success or setback.
She pulls the brake hard. The sound of the wheels is deafening as they screech, but it only slows the train as it reaches the end of its line, plowing through signs. The locomotive derails, and Kirka is flung around the cabin, slamming into the walls as the leading section of the train rolls over again and again, finally skidding to a stop. In Car 1, Zemi and Archie have enough time to pull the car’s emergency brake and it slows them with more than enough room. The two get down from the train car and run over to the locomotive, now a huge, battered hunk of metal lying in a cloud of dust. They approach the entrance and see Kirka crawling out of the wreckage, injured but not finished.
After this point, I tried to get back into the game at a later time and just couldn't get the story going in a satisfactory way. But I did have a lot of fun with this and I'll definitely be coming back to this system. The session was very fast-paced and exciting, and when things did slow down, they sped back up again; it never felt like the game was stagnating.