Niederdorf Security Report: February 27, 2113
Apologies for the lack of report last week. We’ve had success suppressing the Jacko gangs using the group of Ego Drivers recruited from the city and its outlying settlements.
Hi, I’m Ben and I’m playing Jones Johnson IV.
After eliminating Codename: Beat It they proceeded with repairs before receiving an assignment to terminate Codename: Smooth Criminal, although they demanded double payment.
Hi, I’m Jim Ryan and I am playing Karloff Carradine.
Our scouts report that they made contact in an ambush, spreading confusion and mayhem within the criminal ranks and minimizing their defensive capabilities.
Hi, I’m Zoë and I’m playing Comet “Baby Teeth” Sharps.
Smooth Criminal apparently possesses advanced technology, believed to be Subaltern.
Hi, I’m Lucy and I’m playing Vake.
The ultimate result of the confrontation is still unclear. Given the anomalous events at the conflict site we are unlikely to know more until the Ego Drivers return.
Welcome to Tabletop Garden, an actual play podcast where we collaborate on short, self contained stories about interesting characters, and we do it with an agenda. I’m Gregory Avery-Weir. Today we continue Ego Driver, a post-apocalyptic vehicular combat campaign using the Big Eyes Small Mouth Third Edition rules. As always, our agenda will be to honestly portray diverse characters, pursue healthy play practices, and craft story with social responsibility. Additionally, for this campaign we’ll be following the agenda: Save yourself, make it look good, and live like you’re dying.
If you like the show, you can find more info on it at tabletop.garden Please tell your friends, review us on wherever you get podcasts, and if you want to support the show my Patreon is at patreon.com/gregoryaveryweir. We now continue Tabletop Garden: Ego Driver.
The remaining raiders… one of the raiders that’s behind Comet, I think, just cuts and runs. I think tries to go after and rescue the friend of his that is being dragged behind Karloff’s car. So he just guns it and drives out to the entrance of the parking lot where you all came in and heads down the hairpin turns and just… manages in this turn to pull up beside the tethered car. Although obviously next turn he’ll have to do some pretty fancy driving in order to keep up with it if if this transfer doesn’t work.
His friend who’s in the car being dragged, she kicks out her windshield, which is the side away from Karloff, and tries to climb out onto the hood and sees if she can jump across to to his car, which is a pretty difficult move.
But it is cinematically awesome.
This is true.
They do not have any jumping from car to car skills. They’re not that kind of wasteland raider. So this is just a straight Body check. That is that is not… that is an 11 which is all right, but not enough to get a tricky jump. So she jumps out to jump on to his car and just slams into his hood and grunts in pain and then rolls off onto the road. She’s not dead, but she is now looking pretty beat up, but that car that Karloff is dragging behind him no longer has a person in it.
And Vake. You have someone standing on your hood, you’ve got Prince blaring outside. Someone has violated the sanctity of your cabin with bullets, and you’re still tethered to Smooth Criminal’s car with Annie in the driver’s seat.
What I would like to do is plow forward so that the Smooth Criminal vehicle hits that car that’s in front of it.
I’m utilizing, I guess, those spikes in this activity.
Think this is…
I don’t know if that should be an attack or a drive, though.
I think it has to drive because you’re… you’re kind of able to do this more easily because you’re tethered together like that. Like they can’t turn from side to side. But it’s still going to be a drive.
They’ll be at a minus three, I guess. And it’s Annie’s drive, which… is she any good at driving? No. She rolled a 14 which makes it an 11. You rolled a 14, with your specialization, is up to a 15 so you drive forward. You’re kind of coupled to her car so you’re not going to take damage from this crash. This isn’t going very fast — you’re starting from a standstill — but you are able to slam this car into the next car. It hits the force field and drops it a level.
I was also hoping to dislodge the person standing on top of my vehicle or at least make them have to make a check too.
Yes, they are going to try and stay on. They roll a 15 but I think it’s very difficult to stay on your weird shifting-surface car so they go rolling off. Let’s see… the back window of the super car’s open so they go tumbling forward off of the hood of your car into the backseat of Sweet Criminal’s car and are struggling to keep their balance there… they do not have their balance. They’re struggling to keep their bearings. You can probably do another maneuver with this because that was that was just a short forward thrust of your driving if you want to do something else.
All right. Well, then I will also say, “Hey, Jolissa, make like Carrie Underwood says, and take the wheel, how about!” And I’m going to hop out of the tank and join the party in the car in front of me.
So you dive into this now full-to-capacity car, because this is not a four seater. This is a two seater car. So when I say backseat, I really mean kind of like back console of this this fancy sporty, you know, like super car. So you’re kind of on top of this other raider in the back with both Smooth Criminal and Annie looking very put out by having four people in a two-person car. Are you gonna hit someone?
I would very much like to do that.
Is everybody available?
Oh, yeah, you’ve got that area attack. Right? You can swing your thing around.
Yeah, so you can hit all three of… Well, I’m going to say you can hit all three of them, but I think you’re at a minus one to attack because you’re trying to swing a pole around in a small car. I’m gonna say minus three. Because that sounds real awkward to me. Even with your flexibility.
So I could just hit somebody real good?
Yeah, I think if you hit somebody real good you wouldn’t have a penalty because that would be kind of a jab.
Okay, I’m gonna have a go at Smooth Criminal. And just in case I roll badly, I’ll go ahead and say, so it sounds cool, at least, before I don’t roll well, “I’m not in here with y’all. You’re in here with me!”
As the scripture says.
So you rolled a 16. Smooth Criminal rolled a 12 and was also at a penalty because of your weird twisty flexible pole. So you whack him solidly in the forehead, actually, probably in the back of the head.
Yeah, sounds good.
And he had healed up a bit. But you have almost taken him out again. He has like no personal protection. So he is hurting heavily, but not entirely out.
So there are some more raiders who are active. The raider who is in the car with you, Vake, takes their gun around and points it at you pretty point blank and fires.
Ok. So now it was just my turn. So I’m back up to my full defense, correct?
So they got a 13, you got a 10. So they hit. So they’re going to hit your force field first.
I’ve got your force field currently at…
- Gregory 8:22
Okay. So they’re dealing 29 damage total. So your force field drops a level to 12. And then they’ve got 13 damage leftover.
I’ve got armor at 10.
So you take three that make it through your armor.
Oh, and they hit you twice because they beat your roll by three. So your force field will drop another four and you will take seven more damage.
Okay, so that also gives me two character points that I can convert into something.
Cool. The other drivers can finally get their vehicles moving. I think that the giant death mole is probably their primary concern at the moment since they saw it tear apart one of their allies’ cars.
“Death mole.” That’s much better than “Betsy.”
Betsy the death mole. Are you actively gunning for the car that you’re face to face with at the moment, Ben?
My visual interpretation of what was happening was he would be revving the engine at it. I don’t really have the ability to make an intimidate check in this system. But I figure that seems intimidating.
So yes, he is. He would be intention-ing to move at the vehicle in front of him.
I think that that car ahead of you is going to just throw the wheel hard left and turn to the side as he pulls out to just kind of go around you. I don’t think that unless you’re kind of already in motion that you can do much to immediately stop him from getting around you. You can obviously do a U turn pretty easily. But he’ll drive past your passenger side and spray you with bullets as he goes.
He has fallen into my clever plan.
I am pretty sure that he is not going to hit you at all.
Am I still able to roll defense? Or is this one I’m just taking?
Yeah, you can roll defense.
I’m still able to do some maneuvering.
Yeah. And you’re able to like duck within the car. And real quickly shut a panel or whatever, in order to protect from this attack. So you roll the 12 so you are able to just kind of take it by deflecting the bullets and ducking out of the way of any that make it through gaps. The other car that’s on that side of the parking lot is going to gun its engine and do another drive by. It’s going to spray you with a wide arc of bullets just running along your whole length not even focusing on the drivers department. That’s at a minus three and you’re to minus one to defend.
No, I actually have multi defense.
But there’s the Spread that he’s doing that gives you a minus one.
All right. So he rolled a six and you rolled an 11 so those bullets also just go totally wide and he continues kind of driving in formation with the other car. And the one that’s currently behind you is going to lean out their driver side window and probably try and aim for whatever hatch is on the back of this that would let someone get into the car and is trying to bypass armor. The partial bypass, not the full bypass.
Yeah, a lot of the way I envision this vehicle is: it’s not just hatches; it’s, he has literally bolted plates on. So there’s definitely going to be gaps between the plates.
Alright, so this is a minus three for them.
And I think I only had one level of extra. So that should make a minus one now.
So they rolled in 11.
Yep, I’ve only got one.
Ah, you’re fine.
That puts me at 18.
So you’re able to position yourself so that anything that makes it through the gap ricochets around harmlessly within this this very very sturdy metal chamber that’s in the middle of your car. All right. It is Annie’s turn. Annie is in this car with Vake.
Remember, you’re in the car with them. You’re in the car with them!
Yeah, they’re in the car with me.
And she… she’s like actually straight up against that empty car. So she doesn’t really have any room to maneuver with this vehicle. So I think she just puts her elbow on the headrest and props her rifle on her arm and points it at you. She says, “Where the fuck did you get that car?!”
Hey, I don’t guess you would mind using a silencer real quick with that?
She says, “What?!” and pulls the trigger.
Oh crap. They’re in there with you!
And she holds a 20 to hit. She’s very good with this rifle.
Ooh, that’s not good.
So you… you rolled an eight. She rolled a 20, which means that she beat your defense by 12, which means that she got a critical hit. So she is going to do 120 damage, ignoring 20 of your armor.
So your force field drops one level.
And you take 112 damage.
You have armor!
Do you have any armor left? She ignores 20 of it.
Oh no. I have 10 armor.
Then that leaves you with, I believe, 102 damage.
I believe I’m super dead.
Comet, you’re rubbing your eyes and just barely seeing your vision clear when you see through the window of this supercar in front of you Annie pointing a rifle straight at Vake’s chest and pulling the trigger. And there’s just a spray of blood that you can see out the back of Vake as the shot clearly goes straight through them, leaving a very visible hole as they… do you fall backwards?
So they slump backwards onto the back shelf that’s at the back of this supercar. The bullet also goes straight through you through the back window and hits the mounting point for those spikes and they snap free. And Annie says, “Well, it’s ours now.” And Jones, it’s your turn.
You’re currently facing away from all this so you can’t see what’s going on very easily.
I don’t quite see it, unfortunately. I don’t think I’ve got an angle to see that with three and a half cars in between me and it.
There was definitely a big blip on your sonar as there was a very loud gunshot.
Yeah. Well, as much as that hurts I’m going to have to continue with the plan I’ve got because I just don’t have any way to get a line of effect to that problem right now.
Hey, no need to worry, it was super cinematic.
We’ve got a Volvo. We’re pretty sure we can put you back together. Just got to find the rest of you. The cinematic here on my half of the battlefield. This is what, in the vision, was actually happening. And I’m actually kind of glad that it panned out the way I wanted it to. So as the guy was zipping past me, what Jones was doing was actually getting the controls ready for the grapple arm for his backhoe. What I’m hoping is like, right as he got past me, because you know, time turns and turns the way does, that right as he was getting past me and it got back to my turn, I’m able to take the arm and grab the rear end of his vehicle.
That sounds legit.
So that’s what I am going to try to do.
Now it’s time to pull that grapple rules, is it?
All right. You got a 15 to hit and the Raider is going to roll a 12. So not enough.
In essence, yes, but thankfully they’re not that bad in this system. Basically, it’s a normal attack to begin with. So first, I have to successfully hit with the vehicle.
So do you do your normal damage with the grapple?
“A successful grapple deals no damage on the first turn.”
Okay, this punches in… what through their back window and kind of hooks on to their backseat?
Yeah. Where is it… “In the case that the grabbing character is [much more stronger]…” his penalty is only a minus one for actions whereas the other character is down to minus six. Normally we’re both at minus three. I have super strength on my vehicle.
So I presume that means I am considered exceptionally stronger so I’ve got a minus one to my actions and he has a minus six right now.
Cool. So he’s driving past, looking pretty proud of himself for that drive by, and then all of a sudden there’s a huge crash and that backhoe claw goes through his back window, hooks onto his backseat, and he slams forward and his head bumps into the windscreen as all this forward momentum is immediately absorbed by the impressive hydraulics of this machine. His ally is pulling ahead of him.
I’m going to attempt to make a drive to pull us a little further away. We’re getting a little too clustered for my personal preference.
So I am at a minus one to control our movement.
And he is at a minus six. So you got 15, and he got an 11.
I’m just moving us forward a couple squares to get us… actually let me get him just ahead of the fire. That’s mean to put him right next to the fire.
You drag this car backwards with him, his foot’s completely on the floorboards with the accelerator. But your machine just has far more power than his and you’re just dragging him away from the rest of the group toward that other exit and that highway that no one else is on.
And I will call out over the CB, “Hey, Karloff! I’m going to toss one down your way!”
Karloff, you were able to barely see that the driver leap out of the car that you were dragging behind you. You’re turning one of the hairpin turns with it stretched out behind you. And so if you kind of just keep going, the way you’re going, it’s going to swing out and probably just swing off of the outer curve of this hairpin turn.
Okay, that makes what I was going to do next easier. If it’s going to continue swinging down down the mountain. All I will do then, when it gets there, is I’m just going to release the cable so that it can do that.
Do you want it to go further down onto the winding road? Or do you just want it to be off the roadway and out of play.
I was going to toss it out to play if at all possible.
Then it goes over the very rusty guard rail and just starts rolling and bouncing down the mountain.
Excellent. So for my next trick, my idea was to… involved an attack on these vehicles up at the top of the mountain. Right now I see before me two or three cars in this area. Are they all occupied?
There’s one car that’s on fire up there. But you can see two cars that are pulling out of the parking lot and heading your way. And then just uphill from you, entering the hairpin turn that you just left, is that one car that tried to help its buddy.
But the jump didn’t work.
Well, let me explain what my thought is here. Because it does involve going completely tangential to what people may think that I’m doing given where I am right now, because it involves jumping again.
Also to get out of the way of this other vehicle that’s about to come tumbling down at me. My plan is to jump over the intervening wall between me and the area of road leading immediately up to the platform and in so doing, with momentum, hopefully driving around the burning vehicle, extending my electroram, and ramming directly into the side of the wonder car.
Karloff has no idea that there has been activity up there so he doesn’t know who’s in what car necessarily. But that was what he was intending to do.
There’s going to be some drive checks. And just because you’re going to be heading, unbeknownst to you, into oncoming traffic in order to get to where your destination is.
Okay. Worst comes to worst, I can use the electroram against another vehicle coming straight toward me. So that can always help.
Yeah, I think if you don’t beat their drive rolls, you’ll have the option of either attacking them or not at all.
Okay, awesome. What first?
You drive up on this hairpin turn, and then suddenly take a hard left and engage your retro boosters again, launching you up this very steep rock wall like you did before. You hit the top of that wall, you sail over the guardrail onto the onto the road again, and sailing through the air toward the entrance to this parking lot. Meanwhile, you see two cars that you didn’t really have a good viewpoint on driving straight towards you. Their drivers look very surprised as they see you coming towards them. So you give me a drive check. And each of them will try and beat it.
Wow. You rolled high. You got a 21; they got a 12 and a 13. So they look mystified as they try and intercept you, but you sail straight between them. And as you approach this car with your electro ram extended, you can see that there are three people in it. No, I’m sorry, there are four people in it. There is Smooth Criminal, Annie, there’s a raider, and Vake is there, lying on their back and looking very the worse for wear.
Knowing this, seeing this sort of in the back of my head. I’m thinking, “Oh, crap.” But if I can see that she appears to be unmoving.
Yeah, they appear to be unconscious at least.
Okay. Thankfully, this is a stunning attack. So it actually does not do lethal damage with with the electro ram. If I manage to hit the vehicle then it is supposed to give everyone inside the vehicle an electric shock.
Excellent. This is going to be versus Annie’s defense.
So you got a 14, Annie got a 12, so she was not able to get out of the way in time. And your electro ram strikes the car. So it’s got penetrating 20 on it?
Yeah, it is 20 ranks of penetrating.
I spent a lot on that one.
So you ignore 80 armor. So okay, so the first thing that happens is… So you’re coming in with 98 damage. You first impact the force field that’s around this mega car. It fizzles out but not before stealing 28 of your damage. So you’ve got 70 left that’s coming in and its level drops by one. You then have to interact with the armor. The armor on this is very very high but you ignore all of it.
You just hit the armor directly and your damage penetrates through and you deal your full 70 remaining damage to everyone inside the car.
Electricity surges out from the electro ram that’s that’s sharpened to a point that’s up front as it slams in and the whole vehicle and probably the ones connected to it have this electricity coursing over that for just a moment.
As you are making impact and as the force field is fading you can see Smooth Criminal lift up a hand and there’s some sort of weird glow to his hand as he does it. And as the electricity courses over him you all feel lighter. All of the cars here except the super car start feeling lighter and lighter and the ones that are close to the supercar, so Comet’s car and Karloff’s car, actually start drifting up off of the ground.
…as well as the various inactive cars around. Jones, you probably feel this lightness but you’re not actually affected materially by it. But within this car, we can see Vake and the three members of the Jacko gang knocked completely unconscious by this electricity. But little beads of that blue goo that had settled around the floorboards are drifting up into the air and a few of them land on Vake and soak into the rags.
Are they sticky, though?
Back from the grave!
You’re, you’re unconscious, so it’s hard to tell. But at the moment, they’re slick, but not sticky.
I just was asking for informational purposes.
Comet, your car is starting to float.
Yeah, that’s good.
Right now. It’s it’s roughly neutrally buoyant, I’ll say. It’s like a like a depleted helium balloon.
You know what would bring it a little closer to the ground is probably hitting that supercar with a lance. Do I see Vake stir at all?
They are down for the count.
Being quite certain that Vake is dead. I will hit this car with my lance and I’ll say, “This one’s for you, Vake!” And I turn off the music.
Because I’m pretty sure you’re dead. I’m real sorry if you get poisoned. I’m not trying to move around because my car is floating but I can at least winch myself in to a car that is not floating.
Yeah give me an attack roll just to make sure that you hit solidly. Yeah. So your lance breaks through that force field, dropping it another level but you can still see it kind of shimmering around the puncture point where your lance is passing through the field. It probably goes into the passenger compartment. Lucy, does it hit Vake?
I de-powered at quite a lot, so I’m hoping that it gets just into the car. But isn’t there a ton of armor still?
Oh, yeah, actually, there’s enough that it just hits the armor.
But is it still in enough to get the linked attack?
So it punches through the force field and all of its damage is absorbed by the armor. But because you still hit that tangled effect comes into play. And you’re now tethered floating like a half filled balloon to the supercar which is sturdily sticking to the ground.
And do I get the linked attack on this term or on the next turn?
If you don’t penetrate the armor you’re not able to use it just as a link. Smooth Criminal’s unconscious. All of the raiders who are heading downhill and have their initiative right now are just gonna keep going. I think that it was pretty clear that Smooth Criminal’s down at this point. Vake is unconscious, Annie is unconscious…. So I think we go right around back to Jones. You’re dragging this car behind, the driver is screaming, “No, no, no! Aaaaah! Aaaagh!”
Ahh, sucks to be him. Are these guys who were guys evacuating down? Have they adjusted their positions a bit for this term? Or is that roughly where they are?
The one that was further ahead that tried to rescue her friend is around the hairpin turn now. Down kind of one level further. There is someone just kind of dusting themselves off and sitting up, having missed jump across to another car.
That’s roughly here, right below you on the mountainside.
Look, I at least feel like giving people a sporting chance. I’m not throwing a car at a person. So we’re going to throw a car at a car.
“A character who’s… grabbed an opponent… can hurl [the other opponent]. This is resolved as a normal unarmed attack. A successful hit will release the foe…” Deals an extra five damage plus falling damage. “If the [character] throws the opponent at another enemy, the target must make a defense roll or suffer equal damage.” The grapple is ended.
So I am going to be tossing the blue car at the brown car.
Okay. So that’s probably at least five meters down. The car that’s in the lead and is pulling around that turn, looks back at their companion who’s dusting themselves off the side of the road and their companion waves them on and shouts, “Go, go! I’ll be fine!” And then the driver looks up to see a car sailing over the raise.
A shadow passes over them…
Yes, a shadow passes over their friend, they look up, they see the the car hurtling towards them. They swerve mightily but their roll of 11 is nowhere near enough to avoid your attack of 17 as the car that is thrown by your hydraulic backhoe arm crashes straight into their car. There’s not actually a whole lot of damage done here — it only ends up being 15 falling damage — but the car landed on top of the other car and so they are both completely out of commission. The bottom car, I think the the driver’s crushed. I think the top car is just… the driver is is knocked unconscious by the force and that car is completely immovable now because it’s not… doesn’t have four on the ground.
Now, I have no idea what’s going on with this floaty thing. I’m sure the various systems on this are registering some kind of imbalance in the system.
Yeah, you’re probably getting like anomaly readings, because this equipment probably is designed to detect anomalies.
Yeah, so my immediate response is actually going to be to back up just a little bit so the arm can reach the other car in case I need another projectile.
Okay, you get ready to be able to throw again.
Since I’ve got multiple different sections of treads, I’m going to be basically spinning wheels on purpose to try to start to dig into the ground directly.
So you’re kind of trying to hunker down in the dirt and get yourself a little more stable. You’re still fine. You’re a very heavy vehicle.
But it’s one of those he doesn’t know anomalies the most recent anomaly he knows is the “things floating in space nearby” so he’s… his probably mindset is he thinks it’s moved.
I think that’s a fair assumption.
So he’s trying to get more in the ground so that if need be he can bolt down.
Karloff, your vehicle is lifting up off the ground. You’re actually reasonably familiar with feeling weightless in your car. This is not probably not a particularly strange experience for you except that you don’t seem to be landing.
First off, the simplest thing would just be to not retract the electro ram so that I can have something I’m kind of attached to.
I think that because it doesn’t have a Tangle on it, like your harpoon gun does, I think that it holds on for a little bit. But as this weightlessness continues it manages to pull free of the other vehicle.
I see. Okay. Well then, that being the case, I think we should probably harpoon something. Before I do that, though, do we have other targets up here that appear to be giving us trouble? Or is it just this weightlessness thing right now?
It’s just the weightlessness thing. The remaining two cars that still have drivers seem to be booking it.
Okay. This seemed to happen when the fellow in the car was going unconscious, right? It was…
…like he raised his hand and it happened?
Yeah, it seemed like he was trying to do something to ward you off and…
Interesting. First things first, let us go ahead and use the harpoon okay to stay relatively stable, if we can. All of these vehicles like right around us are hovering except for the special wonderful car of the future, right?
So give me an attack roll just to make sure that you get a solid positioning.
Yeah. Because if not, I’m gonna have to try to figure out a way to rig the thrusters to get me around.
Hey, it might work!
It could! It could. But that’s Plan B. Let’s see here.
So you are… you rolled a 20. You solidly land your harpoon into the body of the wonder car. And it’s actually like starting to strain a little bit now that it’s got the negative mass of two cars pulling at it, but it is, impressively, still staying stuck to the ground. Vake’s car, or Vake’s tank, and the other two junk cars around are slowly drifting off to one side and lifting very, very slowly into the sky. They’re only like a meter or two off of the ground at this point, like the height of a person. I think that we can drop out of rounds right now, unless anyone wants to chase down the folks that are fleeing, and you can tell me how you try and get yourself out of this situation.
I mean, let’s just assume I take the last wreckage of the car and try and chuck it at one of them. It doesn’t matter if I hit or not.
You throw it down the road and you probably managed to clip one of them and send that car careening down the mountain side but one of the cars does get away.
It’s good to let one get away that way they can tell the tales of how the cities are standing up for themselves. Which gang was it, the Jones Gang? No, I’m Jones. I’m going to start a gang now! No, which was the gangs name?
The Jacko Gang.
The Jacko Gang’s days are numbered.
Comet and Karloff, you’re the two that are kind of in the most trouble at the moment.
I’ve got a winch on my harpoon gun thing, so I’m just going to start winching myself towards the car until it’s close enough that I can jump out.
You’re able to winch yourself closer and then you can jump out and grab hold of the other car. You’re still weightless. You’re still floating.
Oh, I’m weightless! Wow. Okay, yeah, I’ll try to grab hold of the car and check on my buddy Vake and see if she’s… they appear to be breathing.
They are! They’re breathing very very shallowly. But despite the fact that you’re pretty sure that bullet went all the way through, it looks like… You’ve probably seen enough bullet wounds to think that it looks like it actually somehow got lodged in. You must have, in the shock, seen it wrong because that wound definitely is not a through and through. But they’re breathing, barely. So are all the rest of the people in the car.
I’m guessing the doors are locked. Or is there a window open?
I think there are enough windows open at this point, because they were shooting out, that you can you can get in. I think that the force field dropped entirely when Karloff hit it.
Comet will look around inside and see if there’s any buttons or something. She’s pretty smart! She might be able to find the “drop gravity” release button.
You look around and you don’t see any buttons on the console that seem to do it. It’s it’s hard because they’re labeled in the language you don’t understand. It’s even a script that you don’t recognize. These characters seem vaguely familiar to you but you’re not sure what they are. But as you’re looking around you can see that on Smooth Criminal’s arm, like under the sleeve of his of his jacket, is some sort of device strapped to his arm that has an active, friendly, glowing, like, golden light on it.
This, again, this device is kind of seems like this wonder car in that it’s not scavenged technology. This has to be from one of the ships. From on the ships that crashed. So this was either gotten from a Terror Engine or or from wreckage that got scattered across the wastes.
Well, I’m going to look around and make sure none of my friends are on the ground underneath a vehicle, and then say, “Well, here goes nothing!” and press the button.
Karloff, you’ve seen Comet clamber inside this vehicle and you barely have enough time to see her kind of cock her head in a probably slightly mischevious fashion and she looks up at you, and…
I think now would be an excellent time to engage the thrusters on a lower setting so that it’s not like a full jump. But I have a feeling something’s about to happen.
All right, you have enough time to… is it a lever that activates these?
It’s gotta be… it was either a button or a lever but I like a lever better.
Alright, so you kind of turn this lever halfway and engage the rockets just as gravity rather suddenly returns. Your car slowly settles to the ground as you slowly throttle back on the on the rockets. Vake’s car lands and the entire thing warps weirdly. Like, it’s less like a car is hitting the ground from a distance and more like a slow motion water balloon settling on the ground. The whole thing is flexing. And then it actually like drives forward and back a little bit as if it’s settling into place, as if there’s someone at the wheel. Comet’s car just slams to the ground on its excellent Volvo shocks. Probably quite a bit the worst for wear but not completely out of commission.
The light bar on the front just falls off.
And the raider cars just fall apart as they impact the ground.
So something that tends to show up a lot in post apocalyptic fiction is disability you often have disabled characters show up in the in the post apocalypse and it often takes like one of two forums. So you’ve got sort of the what I think of as the Mad Max three Beyond Thunderdome form where disability is like master and blaster. The characters are kind of others and seen as somehow broken or damaged by this world and are either threats because of their monsters or are like someone you have to protect. The sort of other form that they often take is the Fury Road approach where disability is more seen of like this is a world in which people have all sorts of problems, and so it’s almost unremarked upon if a character is missing a limb or has a limp or is disfigured in some way.
I think that it’s interesting how with zero coordination each of you has a character who’s somehow neurodiverse or disabled or in Jones’s case just old enough that he’s got some stuff going on. I think we’ve got… Vake is definitely not neurotypical, Baby Teeth is disfigured, Karloff is missing an arm and then Jones is is pretty old. What do y’all think about disability and how it manifests in the post apocalypse?
One of the thoughts and I’m going to kind of pull back just a step from just disability in the post apocalypse but disability in creating a character. I personally like giving characters weaknesses as I find a weakness is a more humanizing character flaw than, “My character trait is: I’m awesome.” I mean, we’ve definitely gotten a lot of detail out of out of our characters’ respective uniqueness and a lot of our defining characteristics between each other seems to be more what makes us disfigured or disabled in our various ways. That’s a lot of how we have almost built our characters.
Absolutely. Like when I was making mine the first things that I came up with were like, “All right, what are my defects,” I guess, using the the language from this game. That was an easier jumping off point, like, especially in a post apocalyptic setting, where it’s very easy to explain why you would choose to create a character like that. And because of the post apocalyptic fiction that has existed before, especially. And given the point buy system of the BESM world, it just seemed like a good place to start to create a character that’s more human, more… has more depth.
But I think that we… there’s the, the defects and flaws that show up in role playing systems as sort of a way of balancing or rounding a character. But I think that there’s definitely a subset of those that we would consider disability in a different way than the rest of them. And there there is that dividing line. “Not so strong” we wouldn’t necessarily consider a disability in the same way that having an artificial limb we would.
So I think Vake is a little bit different, I mean, in that what we are describing as Vake’s neuro atypicality are actually Attributes. You know, superpowers from the system, right? Heightened Senses, you know, the game thinks that that would be great, right? That there would be an upside to having those but… and and they’re clearly there is, right? I mean, and I can see how especially in Mad Max world, there’s a benefit to hearing and seeing everything that’s trying to sneak up on you. But as a person myself who… I live with hypersensitivity… I mean, there’s definitely a lot more nuance to that, right? I mean, it is kind of a superpower, but it’s also creates a lot of obstacles. So I knew when I was looking at that and creating Vake that that was something that I wanted to try and portray with a little bit more nuance than just, “That’s real cool that they can know that things are coming,” you know?
Something that I generally try to do with characters after I build them is trying to figure out realistically how they would behave, how they would exist, if they were real people. Since our starting point for this was very much an over the top genre, or a genre that has a lot of things that are over the top that have been done in it and are being used as inspirations for the campaign, my mind went a lot to Fury Road and also to Death Race. And I pretty much totally smashed characters from those two things together in many ways to try to come up with Karloff. All the way down to his name, in fact.
The thing with that though is that I then make myself try to think, “Okay, how would someone trying to survive in a world like that realistically behave? How would they do things and what would really motivate them?” Because it’s not going to be whatever they have that might be considered a disability. Karloff lost an arm. He got a new arm and he kept going. Karloff had a lot of experiences in his youth that left him kind of scarred and and having trouble speaking and he doesn’t really let that define what he’s doing. He just plays to his strengths. And his strengths largely being his professional code and his knowledge of survival.
Something that’s, I think, a strength of strong dramatic melodramatic genres, like post apocalyptic stories is that just because everything is so over the top, there’s the potential to explore very dramatic aspects of different abilities and differences between characters that would seem much more crass in a less genre-y form. You can totally still do it wrong. Like I’m thinking of some of the depictions in Preacher, the comic book, of… There’s at least one disfigured character and I think several other folks with awful disabilities that I don’t think are handled very nicely at all. I think it’s pretty gross. But I think that there is the capability of being like, “Oh, hey, let’s show just how everyone can be a badass in a different way. Let’s show this sort of person being a badass.”
You have to really think about the context of the work or the game or the world when you’re thinking about disability, because — I’m coming from critical disability studies when I think about this — because a lot of that kind of work is thinking about how we think about ability or able-bodied-ness and disability is really a lot about how we think about the world, right, and what we value in the world. So what we cast as being a strength or weakness says a lot about our cultural values. And I think that’s an important thing to think about. When you’re trying to portray disability or thinking about the concept of disability and characters.
That seems to fit with a lot of the stuff that post apocalypse examines, which is, in part, what if we didn’t have to follow all these rules anymore? And that the on the surface, the obvious one is the rule of law. But you’ve also got the thing of, we can re contextualize all of our social values. And we may discover that the things that we value in a person or the things that we call strengths aren’t the same after everything changes.
And then also, I think, just with that kind of world, you expect there to be a great deal of variety, I think. The world has ended. Civilization has been messed up on a fundamental level. So…
…everyone who’s left is is special in some way just for being left.
Yeah. Wide variation is expected at this point.
Cool. Well, thank you for chatting with me about that and we can return to Niederdorf.
The big thing is: what are you going to do? What do you what are you going to do with these people? Your mission from Mayor Leopold was to kill Smooth Criminal but he is currently unconscious and at your mercy.
I’m going to poke him a few times make sure he’s like not waking up. Shake him a little bit. “Hey, hey!” And like maybe slap his face a couple of times. “Hey you still there?”
He is out cold. He seems responsive in the sense of like you’re setting off reflexes as you slap him. Like he shifts a little bit. But he’s been hit by a electrical stun device that’s designed to keep him out for a long time.
So I am prepared to go up to him and basically stab him which… I’m not doing it violently or quickly or anything like that. I’m just getting up casually, pulling out a knife, and heading over there. And if they stop me I’ll stop. Right now I’m just doing the job that was given to us.
I don’t think Jones is going to stop you. I think as soon as he sees how badly injured Vake is he’s probably going to say, “Shit,” and run back to his truck to try and grab the apocalypse tech equivalent of a first aid kit which is probably just…
…bandages and alcohol and some duct tape or white cloth…
And needle and thread probably, yeah.
Yeah. I mean he’s going to be trying to grab that stuff to try to patch them up.
I think that once Comet figures out that Vake is not joining the party she’ll probably head over the same direction and leave Smooth Criminal to be taken care of or not by someone else.
You guys, Vake gets badly shot all the time. It’s fine.
But it usually doesn’t get through Vake.
We’ll we’ll say that you get back to Smooth Criminal’s vehicle with medical supplies, both of you, just in time to see Karloff with like his knife out and carefully considering the the smoothest and most reliable way to be slitting Smooth Criminal’s throat or whatever.
I will definitely look at him and then just go back to working on Vake. What he is doing is passively being approved of.
All right. And is Comet doing anything to stop them?
Negative. I think she probably looks over and sighs a little bit and goes back to helping her friend. Or comrade, at least. And turns the other direction.
This bounty was supposed to be brought in dead, yeah?
All right. So if they’re not stopping me I’m going to do it because I’m doing my job as given. And so, yeah. I’m gonna come forward and just… I shall end his life.
Karloff, with a swift motion of the knife, earns his double paycheck. And you’re now left with Smooth Criminal’s corpse. Annie is still unconscious. And Vake, as you’re looking over them, they’re… They look really really rough. They’re not breathing in any way that suggests that they have just been shot through the chest. You can see traces of that blue gleaming in in and among that wound, and even though there’s an injury in their chest that should result in, like, a visible hole that you can see seat cushion through, they’ve got flesh blocking it now. They’re not looking great. Like, you definitely look at them and go “Doctor now,” but somehow they’re not actively dead. Or actively dying, even. They seem like you could probably bandage them up and watch them carefully and that they would make it back to town.
That’s a that’s a good sign that some of that blue stuff got on them. I think they’re going to be okay. Maybe. But, uh, let’s, let’s wrap ’em up, or wrap ’em up more.
Yeah, I’m sure we can find… and Jones is going to kind of like walk over to the tank and kind of knock on it like, “Hey, your boss over here. Do you have more people? Bandages, anything in there?
Oh boy. Lucy What does Jolissa do or say?
There will be a pause and then Jolissa will say, “One moment, please. Bandages will be bestowed in 10 9 8 7 6…”
I start backing away.
“…5 4 3 2 1. There you are. How else may I help you?” A bunch of bandages kind of start pelting the area out of one of the apertures from the side of the tank.
Prepare the bandage cannon!
I’ll just kind of grab a couple up and kind of try and wrap up the chest and keep the blood on the inside.
You are welcome. Shall I also play some tutorials on bandages to assist you?
This… Yeah, this will do!
Playing video on bandaging.
Jones is just gonna start shaking his head and walking away.
Welcome to Sandy’s surgery hour, the show where Sandy shows you how to do all sorts of field triage. On today’s episode, we’ll see how to bandage wounds. We’ll learn step by step all of the different ways…
Hold on. Are we seeing video?
Yeah, so the video that’s playing… what what How was the video playing on the tank?
You know how you can have like TVs on the side of an RV? It’s kinda like that.
Oh, okay. Okay.
So this this screen that previously just looked like another piece of armor plating turns on. It’s kind of scratched up a bit from just the damage that’s happened to the armor. But you can still see the image pretty clearly. And this white clad person in sort of a vaguely medical outfit, but one that you don’t recognize, is standing there holding bandages. And they’ve got this kind of strange, almost like black rubber looking trim to their outfit. It’s a strange style of fashion that you don’t recognize where it’s from.
And they proceed to speak in a language that you don’t understand. But they’re very clearly like, doing tutorial like step by step on bandaging and there’s diagrams and useful iconography. So even though you can’t understand the words that are being spoken, you can see the examples well enough to start bandaging.
And I think we’ll jump forward now. Vake, you see yourself in a white room, and you have this vague, fuzzy image of this person in white with you. And it’s incredibly comfortable feeling. You think that this is a place you’ve been before. And everything is quiet. There’s a very pleasant background hum, and people are talking in gentle tones, and you feel like this is a place that you belong. And then gradually, this brightly lit, but warm fuzziness is replaced. It grows colder and sharper and brighter, and that background hum turns into the drone of overhead fluorescent lighting and you’re in a cold, cold room. Still white, still brightly lit, but you’re lying on a bed with scratchy sheets, and you realize that you can feel the sheets because you do not have those rags wrapped around you that you’ve always always worn when around people.
You’re in a strange room, you are completely naked, and there’s no one in here with you. But it is bright, smells like bleach, which is probably the only saving grace making this even slightly a pleasant experience.
I start thrashing immediately to kick the sheets off.
You kind of kick the sheets off and are left with this weird like plasticky pleathery substance that the bed is made out of.
I roll out of the bed.
Your bare feet land on cold tile, and you can see that now, yeah, you’re definitely in one of the Niederdorf medical rooms. And there’s a whole bunch of X rays and like medical notes scattered around. And some… there’s a one of those rolling side tables that has like bloody surgical supplies on it. And there are several empty syringes that you recognize as the ones that would contain that blue goo.
I shove the rolling table out of the way. I’m looking for my things.
Over on a side table there’s… Pole is lying there. And your goggles are there. And some pieces of your armor, not your chest armor, and a few like incidental pieces of clothing. None of the clothing that would have gone on your chest area is there and there are no rags.
Oh, fuck. I snap the goggles on. What about my earplugs? Are those here?
Yeah, everything is here except your rags and anything that would have been near where the bullet hit you.
I put on the goggles and I put in the earplugs and I pick up Pole and I’m trembling tremendously. I just shove everything else to the side. And are there any other medical supplies in here? Like…
Yeah, I mean, you can go through drawers and…
…stuff to find medical supplies.
I’m going to go through the drawers and make a huge mess looking for bandages.
You manage to find the drawer that has both like Ace style bandage wraps and also gauze and so on. And probably, as you’re digging into that the door opens and the doctor that you dealt with earlier steps in and then averts her eyes and says, “There’s a gown over on the counter over there that you can use. But would you like me to come back?”
If I wanted a gown I would have a gown on!
I’ll put down Pole close by and unroll some of the bandages and start wrapping it around my hand and up my arm. But I’m not I’m not ashamed. Like I’m not trying to cover up or anything like that.
She doesn’t seem aghast or anything, but she kind of respectfully averts her eyes and looks at another part of the room as you’re wrapping yourself. And she says we’re not sure how you’re alive, you know. That stuff… the nanogel isn’t usually able to deal with wounds like the ones you had.
Well, I’m just fucking lucky, I guess. This is really great to be back here. So… thanks?
I just… you need to know that your entire chest cavity has been reconfigured things are in different places now than they were before.
I mean, okay, it seems to be still working fine. So what’s the problem?
I suppose there’s not much of a problem just you might want to get a bracelet or something so that future doctors know? You seem like the sort that goes in for major surgery pretty often.
I told you before I get shot up on the regular. That’s why you have medical equipment here. You know what, I believe in you.
We can provide you with a tattoo that might give the basic differences in case of emergency situations.
If you come at me with any kind of a tattoo sort of implement I will hurt you.
I was just… I was just offering. I’ll I’ll let you continue getting dressed and bring more gauze.
I’m going to need a good bit more gauze.
I’ll see what I can do. For the rest of you… are y’all taking Annie back to Niederdorf with you?
Is she wanted?
Only in the sense that she is a member she seems to be a member of the Jacko Gang.
And they’re all kind of wanted as just general rewards for bandits.
Yeah, I mean if there’s something to that effect going on where they pay bounties at Niederdorf, then sure. Go ahead and bind her up and bring her back as well if folks are amenable to that.
Don’t you want to leave her as an example for the rest of them? I mean they’re all dead. Who’s going to go back and you know…
No, no. I only chucked a car at one of them. I let the other one get away.
Yeah, a few of ’em got away.
Well, yeah let’s let’s bring her in. At least maybe she can get patched up.
Who is kind of having Annie in their car?
I have a passenger seat.
I shall be bringing the slightly less Smooth Criminal now with me in my vehicle.
Excellent. When Comet arrived at the border checkpoint that’s in that outer wall around the city of Niederdorf, you’re initially almost waved through. But as they’re just doing the standard check the tires, make sure there’s no one hiding underneath your car, one of the guards gasps and pulls a piece of paper off of the wall of the guard shack and hold it up and says, “That’s that’s Annie! She’s a notorious member of the Jacko Gang!”
Yeah well she’s she’s pretty beat up and we we just thought we’d bring her in so you can do whatever you’re going to do with her. But but yeah she I mean she probably needs medical attention first but I mean you do you want her?
Oh, yeah. We’ll make sure that she never sees the light of day again.
Oh that sounds that sounds nice. Well yeah you can just… she’s just kind of tight kind of taking up space in my car so you you just want to grab her here?
They say, “Yeah!” and they pull her out pretty roughly. Not like you would want someone to treat an injured person and they kind of toss her into the back cargo compartment of the little… What are they called? The little all terrain vehicles that are basically glorified golf carts that the…
Yeah they throw into the cargo compartment of their utility vehicle and head off into the town with her. They don’t seem to be heading to the hospital. They seem to be heading to another location.
Shoulda hidden her.
Karloff, you took stewardship of Smooth Criminal’s body. What do you do with it?
Well, going to drive into the into the town as far as I I can. Up to wherever I’m supposed to park. And then I’m going to carry the body with me to the office of whoever it was that gave us this job. Was it the mayor? I can’t remember his name.
Yeah, Mayor Leopold.
Yeah, I’m bringing I’m bringing the corpse to the mayor’s office unless someone tries to stop me.
All right, you pull into that guard garage where you previously did the necessary repairs to your vehicle and you toss Smooth Criminal over your shoulder and you march him through the streets of Niederdorf. And people are aghast. They’re staring and pointing. And women are crying out in in fright. Children are kind of trailing along behind you. You think they’d never seen a dead body before with a stab wound in it.
“Sheltered sheep! They need to see what this is like outside! They need to see how gritty and hard life is out there in the wastes!” I’m thinking to myself,
And you march on into that office that’s on the side of the facility containing the Terror Engine. And there are guards at the door that, as you’re coming up, they seem to be regarding you as, “Oh, this is just one of the goons that the mayor has do his dirty work.” And it takes them a little bit too long to realize that you have a corpse over your shoulder. And so as they kind of put hands up and look around and try and figure out what they’re supposed to do in this situation, since they’re used to just kind of… They’re used to putting down folks who are trying to complain to the mayor rather than people carrying bodies. You’ve basically breezed past them.
You march up into that very well appointed waiting room and the secretary stares at you just with a pale pale face. Gray. And backs up to the desk and presses the button and says, “Mayor, Mayor Leopold. Mr. Carradine is here.”
Next time you got to do them up like Weekend at Bernie’s, so nobody knows.
The door to Leopold’s office opens and you see him there. He’s got his normal big white beard and he looks you up and down and looks the corpse and he seems completely unbothered by this.
I’m going to come into his office and just set the corpse down on his desk.
He says, “Well done. That’s one less bit of trouble we’ve got for our little piece of heaven here.”
We also brought in one of the gang members.
“Oh! Well, we’ll make sure to get the standard reward to you for that.” He says, “I hadn’t yet received word of your return to town so I don’t have the money properly collected but if you’d like to wait, it shouldn’t be too long.”
All right, well, consider this your notice. We’ve returned to town.
Next time on Tabletop Garden: Ego Driver.
I hear people talking about rats but believe me I don’t want anything to do with them.
I never knew I wanted to take down a building with this character but I kind of do now.
An orange almost golden glow shines from some side streets up ahead of Comet and Vake.
Can we not hurt her? Can we just not do that?
So long as she doesn’t static first.
Big Eyes Small Mouth third edition was created by Guardians of Order. The theme music for this campaign is “Wasteland” by Phantom Elite available under a Creative Commons Attribution non commercial no derivatives license. For more Tabletop Garden and to subscribe to us visit tabletop.garden and to support the work I do visit: patreon.com/gregoryaveryweir
Transcribed by https://otter.ai