If you’ve got Ego Drivers gunning for you, there’s not much you can do but keep running. Their weird alien tech all runs on Terror Energy. So they do anything the big cities tell them.
Hi, I’m Zoe, and I’m playing Comet “Baby Teeth” Sharps.
They’ll come up out of the ground itself and tear you apart before you even know what’s happening.
Hi, I’m Ben, and I’m playing Jones Johnson IV.
Even if you surrender, they’ll kill you in cold blood, if that’s what they’re being paid to do.
Hi, I’m Jim Ryan and I am playing Karloff Carradine.
And even if you manage to kill one, I’ve got bad news. Half the time they don’t even stay dead.
Hi, I’m Lucy and I’m playing Vake.
If you’ve got Ego Drivers gunning for you, there’s only one group of folks that can help. And they might be even worse.
Hello and 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 campaign of post apocalyptic vehicular combat using the Big Eyes Small Mouth third edition rule set. We didn’t end up doing an out of character discussion for this segment of recording but I do want to take a moment to call out RPG Casts. They’re very cool site that collects a whole bunch of role playing actual play podcasts and has a heavy focus on the presence of marginalized voices and on accessibility measures. And Tabletop Garden has recently been added and I’ve already seen a spike of traffic. So if you came here through RPG Casts thanks. And if you’re looking for more actual play podcasts to check out, go to rpgcasts.com. And now we return to the city of Niederdorf as we continue Tabletop Garden: Ego Driver.
What prompt do I want to give Jones? Do you have an idea as for a vignette, Ben?
The only thing I had figured that was what Jones was going to do, because he actually has, you know, mechanics and electronics and those various things. I figured he was going to either drag back the wonder car by towing it, so to speak, or gut various parts out of it.
Then you arrive at the garage space that’s been set aside for you. And you open up the big cargo container at the back of your vehicle and reveal that you have taken the wonder car with you. And it’s damaged somewhat, although there are parts of it that seem to have been repaired and an almost naive way. The repairs are made out of metal that looks like it’s been done expertly but by someone who didn’t quite understand what they were doing. And this is these are the places that were fixed by the blue goo when it was kind of broken and spilled all over the car.
Jones is going to take some time because we, let’s just say, did significant structural damage to this vehicle. I’m sure he has connections for how he gets, you know, high tech parts to do repairs on his vehicle. He’s going to kind of do the high level: is this still salvageable? Could someone take the time to repair it or have we’ve done so much damage that I should you know, okay, here’s a laser cannon. I know a guy who will buy that. Here’s a force field generator. Let me find a buyer for that.
I think you’re initially baffled because this vehicle is in a situation that you’re not used to seeing, which is that this appears to be mostly factory parts. This isn’t a vehicle that someone assembled in the wasteland. All of these parts are meant to go together.
You have this time where you go, oh, where do I figure out where the good parts stop, because, you know, this laser cannon clearly is meant to be swapped out of this mount. But this is the mount that it’s meant to go in. There’s no jury rigged weird braces that make it fit in the wrong place. All of the body panels have the proper brackets and screws to hold them in place. So I think your final diagnosis would be: it’s probably more profitable to fix this and get it working than to break it up for parts.
Okay, so if it’s if it’s mostly mostly originals, even as a collector’s item, that right there would be, you know, getting it functional and driving, that’s probably what he’ll spend a lot of time doing. And we were describing this as, you know, the wonder car. So I’m assuming that there is experimental tech, or at least stuff that isn’t normal variety. So that’s probably where he’s going to have to spend a decent amount of time is trying to figure out what this thing was supposed to do to undo some of the damage.
Yeah, so you spend a lot of time trying to figure this out and looking at it. And wherever it comes from, it’s not from around here is one of your final decisions. You can eventually make sense of most of it. But this was some sort of maybe government project or something from some country you’re not familiar with. A lot of the writing on parts is not in a language you recognize and you’re, you’re able to essentially evaluate the damage and get a plan for how to fix it. But you’re left with a very long shopping list of parts that you’re essentially going to have to make up out of whole cloth. This is the sort of thing that you’ll probably need someone who’s an expert in using Terror Engine resources to repair because this is the sort of tech that requires that sort of energy and those sort of production facilities in order to replicate.
This is either a sell it to someone who knows how much it’s worth and just kind of bite your tongue on the fact that you’re losing most of the money or set it aside in a safe place and work on it for months.
He seems like the kind of guy who is more than willing to have a project every now and then that he just tinkers on to work with so we’ll consider this part of the long term going beyond the scale of the campaign is: this is the new car in his garage that he’s going to be working on for a while.
All right, is there any further business stuff that y’all want to do in town? Modifications to your cars, checking in with people?
I would like to figure out what’s going on with my armor situation and I guess figure out my fashion. I don’t know if they have some sort of you know Stitch Fix like box I can order…
No, we have no sponsorship for this podcast, so probably not.
I feel like my mummy aesthetic would be…
You can, once you are properly dressed for going outside, you can track down a place in town that will be able to sell you the armored clothing and and other things that you need to replace what was damaged beyond repair. Are you changing up your look any?
I mean, I was joking about fashion. Vake is way more interested in really the practical work of blocking all sensation. So I mean, yes, probably the look is different just because they spent a different amount of time and energy doing this. So I guess it probably all looks a little cleaner right now.
All right. You probably spend some time berating some poor shop clerks and end up with a functional, very sensory-swaddling outfit again.
And before long you all receive a message that Mayor Leopold will see you.
I’m carrying some papers with me when we go to the mayor’s office.
You show up at the mayor’s office. Karloff is already there. Looks like he’s been waiting for a while. Vake arrives carrying some papers.
I did make a trip out to the bar and got a bottle and then came back.
Jones will probably have a lot of oil caked on top of the dirt that he’s usually covered in.
Comet stopped and got a corn dog or some tacos or something and is coming into the office with like a with a… just enough for one person but uh. But a bit of food to eat.
Oh, the smell is incredible. Ugh.
Yeah, I know, they smell incredible!
I’m going to nod and grunt at Vake when they come in. Just sort of the “oh you’re not dead” type acknowledgement and that’s it.
Vake will offer a sort of “yeah, I guess not” shrug.
Unfortunately, Jones is going to be much more uncomfortable for Vake because Jones is going to literally come up and give Vake a quick hug and be like, “It’s good you ain’t dead.”
Probably padding a couple dirty handprints on them, too.
You want a french fry? Would that would that make it any better?
It would not… that… you know, no. No, no thank you.
Can I have a french fry?
No hugs, no french fries.
And the Secretary says, “The mayor will see you now.”
So you are let into Mayor Leopold’s office again. He is wearing a different suit than he was when you saw him earlier, Karloff. And he his office which you got a peek of earlier was a little messier than it is now. It’s back to being carefully arranged. And there’s a folder laid out on the table. And there are those those lock boxes of money lined up on the edge of the desk. And he says, “Well done out there.” He says, “Mr. Carradine gave me a very visual demonstration of the good work you did. I appreciate you taking those animals off of our hands and as agreed we’ve paid double for that work. I’d love to be able to give you more time to rest in our idyllic little piece of heaven but I’m afraid that things seem to be escalating out there and we’d like to have you back out as soon as possible and cleaning up more of the mess.”
Yeah, that’s fine.
I’m not cleaning up any mess. Somebody else can clean up someone else’s mess.
Left enough of a mess in that backseat.
Jolissa keeps our tank in immaculate condition.
He kind of looks at you like he doesn’t really understand what you’re talking about doesn’t particularly care but wants to look like he’s paying attention. And then he reaches over and grabs the folder from his desk and flips it open and he takes out a piece of paper and offers it to… probably to Karloff.
I have already walked over, picked up my box, opened it, looked in, and am now carrying it like before.
The piece of paper is a map of what looks like a city. And he says, “This is the ruin city of Yetnikoff. It’s about a day’s drive from here. We’ve had some reportings of Jacko Gang sightings in the area and some anomalous behavior. I have to say, my experts are pretty concerned and I’m concerned as well as well at some of the technology that was in the hands of those raiders. There’s certain things that are left over from the old world we don’t want in the hands of the people who are going to prey on the good and proper citizens of civilized society. We’d like to find out more about what they’ve got and how they have it.
“So Leo…” I put a grea….
Leopold. Mayor Leopold.
…a greasy hand down on this desk and lean over, like, “What what exactly do you mean by anomalous behavior?”
Well, folks aren’t really making too much sense. They talk about strange lights flashing among the streets, strange sounds howling as if of monsters. Who knows what? Probably local superstition. You know how folks out in the wasteland can be when they see something that falls outside of their narrow worldview, but…
Jones just kind of coughs and gives him a look.
“But what we do know is that there’s been a sighting of another one of the Jacko Gang’s known agents in the area.” And he takes a paper out of the folder and holds it up and there’s a photograph on it. And Comet, when you see the photo, you immediately are transported into memory.
Oh, boy. Oh, I know what this is.
You remember being out in the wasteland riding along in the backseat of a car, the hot wind in your hair. You’re very young. And you see this woman’s face looking back at you from the driver seat of the car with a smile. And you are looking at a photograph of the same woman from your memories, just years older, about the same number of years older that you are old. And it’s a kind of a blurry photo. She’s maybe being been caught with a telephoto lens. And the heading at the top of the page reads, “Alias: Billie Jean”
I stop chewing my corn dog for a second and kind of cough.
You want me to hold that corn dog for you?
I don’t think you want to hold this corn dog, Vake.
I’m happy to hold the corn dog for you.
So how much of that city is still upright?
Leopold says, “Well, the buildings are mostly still standing. There’s been some definite structural damage but you should be able to go in in your vehicles. I wouldn’t recommend doing much urban exploration in there but it seems like the sort of place that criminals could hide out in and have their activities not be particularly observed. There’s a good solid several square blocks of the inner city that are still standing.”
So what exactly is our mission? Obviously you don’t want us to actually clean things.
No. We just want you to investigate. We want you to take a look; if you can find this Billie Jean, detain her if you can. She’s likely to know things. And if you can’t avoid killing her, well another piece of trash off the highways…
…but we prefer that we be able to talk to her about it
Jones, didn’t you… we’re… I mean if we’re looking for tech that they’ve got a hold of, Jones didn’t you bring back that supercar?
Well, yeah, I figured it’s gonna take some more parts to fix it up, though.
Well, that’s not what I meant. I mean, is there anything we can, you know, get a lead on there just to save us some time in town? And by town. I mean the name of the town that is on the map that I’m currently looking at, but can’t read because I got my corn dogs smudges on it?
The mayor says we’d like to take a look at at what you brought back. But one of the important things is that we want to find out how they’re getting and maintaining so much of it. I mean, what that first car you encountered had was was one thing. You reported some some equipment on that. But this car that Smooth Criminal was in possession of, well, we we want to know more.
I mean, it’s possible there was some old facility out in that city that they broke into, and they’re going to be throwing random parts at us for the next 10 years if we don’t deal with it.
If that’s the case, then we want to know where that facility is and where they’re keeping whatever they took from it. Any other questions?
I mean, did we already discussed payment? Was that… did I miss that?
Was your standard rate all right?
“Well, I’m just pointing out that the only reason I’m still here is because of that bad ass technology they’ve got running around.” And I toss the papers that I’m carrying at Mayor Leopold, without much care to where they land. They’re the X rays of my chest area that I grabbed from the hospital.
He casually grabs at the papers and winds up managing to grab at one of them kind of crumbled in his hand. And he looks at over and he says, “This, this is this is something. I assume your chest is not supposed to look like this?”
And the rest of you can see this picture and it’s an X ray of what you take far too long to realize is a human chest but it looks like it could be you know a humanoid chest because much of this stuff in it has been pushed out of the way by the path of this bullet. It’s like someone reassembled a person who had fallen apart and didn’t quite know what they were doing as they were putting them back together.
Yeah, it’s whatever. It’s par for the course. I’m just saying, I’m raising my rates. Medical care is expensive.
I just shrug and I nod affirming what they said.
He says, “Well, I figure you didn’t originally sign up to be dealing with this level of armaments. So shall we say that we maintain your elevated rate from your last job and just remove the killing mandate?
That sounds pretty good to me.
All right, then.
Jones probably, like picks up one of the random X rays and kind of holds it upside down, and then left, right, trying to figure out. And kind of looks over at Vake and the X ray and like, ends up just tossing it back on the table, shaking his head at the whole thing.
The mayor says, “Well, then I wish you well.”
And we will cut forward. You’ve spent about a day driving down lonely highways from Niederdorf to Yetnikoff. It’s pretty unlikely that you’ve heard of this place. If you’ve got area knowledge, the skill, you might have. It’s kind of inconsequential. It used to be a big city, and now it’s just miles and miles and miles of ruins. With a strangely intact central city in it, just looking like bunch of skyscrapers poking up out of a bunch of rubble. You can see that there’s a lot of very scrubby vines and stubborn looking trees that are growing in and around the buildings, mostly up on their surfaces. In several places you can see where the facade of the building has sort of slough off and is leaning against the next. You’re seeing it from a distance at around sundown. But as you’re approaching it’s it’s well into dusk. If you were to guess there might be something somewhat anomalous about how the these buildings are still staying upright. But it’s not strong enough that you see any notable effect other than just the fact that there’s this isolated, intact several blocks of urban street.
On our way here, I’m going to get on the channel and say, “Hey, Hey, everybody. Hope you’ve been having a nice drive. I don’t know if you caught this anytime we’ve talked before. But that was my mom. Billie Jean is my mom and I really…”
Jones’s vehicle just just starts drifting off the side of the road and slowly stopping.
Yeah, that’s so that’s my mom. And, um, can we not hurt her? Can we just not do that? I mean, I don’t have any… I mean, it’s a complicated relationship. And, I mean, it’s not like we’ve talked in the past two decades, but I really… I… if… I don’t, if, if anything happens, I just I don’t think that I would be okay with it. And and I… yeah, I just wanted to put that out there. Is that going to be a problem for anybody?
Not wanting to harm one’s parental figure seems logical.
Jones’s horn starts doing those very short honks that one would one would hear if someone were banging his head on the horn of his steering wheel.
Additionally, a search of databases reveals that she was more like a beauty queen from a movie scene. I said, Don’t mind. But what do you mean… I will trail off.
Oh, my God.
I think you hear a hiss of a signal from Karloff’s radio. And then you just hear from him, “So long as she does– static first.”
Yeah. Well, I was just thinking about the possibility that she might be like a huge jerk. So I you know what, whatever happens. Some, I mean, if there’s a tense situation, certainly act the way you would, but I at least want to maybe talk to her before. Yeah, I don’t… That’s all. That’s all. I’ll just think. Yeah, that’s all. Thanks. Thanks, guys. Yeah.
You are welcome. I am happy to assist you.
And I shut off my radio and perhaps put some music on the loudspeaker briefly before I realize that I meant to put it inside my car instead.
Even though you turned your radio off, it comes on for a second and Jolissa says, “Would you like me to tell you a joke?”
Um, yeah, actually.
Interrupting cow w–
That’s a good one, Jolissa.
Hahaha. I think it is funny as well.
I feel a lot better now. Okay, I’m gonna, I’m gonna go now.
You are welcome.
Cool. Cool deal. Good scene. Go team. Thank you, Jolissa.
Jolissa is there for you.
By the time you get to the inner city where these sightings were reported, it is dusk. The streets are pretty shadowy anyway. A combination of just the buildings shading them, and the overgrowth and ruination means that not much sun tends to hit the streets between these buildings. The damage to the roads and the debris and so on means that you can probably only go two abreast in these streets.
I’m going to turn on some some of the work floodlights.
Which are basically the the functional equivalent of a white umbrella with a light underneath it so that it produces sort of a soft area light.
Okay, so Jones’s car as well lit. I don’t know how you want to proceed with this exploration. I’ve essentially made a grid of buildings roughly five by five. They’re of different degrees of of intactness, but you can generally drive between them as you wish. How do you want to tackle this?
There’s actually one question before we would, quote unquote, tackle it. Which would be to Baby Teeth. “Does your mom know you?”
Um, I don’t… I don’t think so. I mean, we probably look a little bit alike, but I haven’t… I’ve only got a picture of her. I have some memories. But I we haven’t. No, we haven’t seen each other since I was a little kid. I barely I’m I mean, I remember enough to know the picture of her when I saw her, but no, no, we don’t know each other.
I don’t know what you guys’ thought is. But since I have the functional tremor sense, I’ll at least be able to give us a heads up if someone else is driving on the streets if we want to go dark or hide. But if people are hiding in the buildings and just kind of chilling, won’t work for much.
Well, Vake will at least try climbing up on the roof of the tank and removing their ear plugs, trying to listen to see if there’s anything to be heard.
All right. Are you doing this kind of staying out of the streets out from among the buildings for a bit and listening from outside?
I think that’s what I would do at first.
Each of you give me a mind roll with I don’t know what bonuses.
I get a plus three to sensory because of my heightened senses.
Okay. And then think Jones’s is represented as a special sense?
Yeah, I mean, I do have a specialty in sensors on my electronics,
Okay, then then let’s, let’s have you roll that.
And the rest of us just straight up mind? Yeah, I don’t know that the rest of you are going to be able to get all that much.
If it helps I can tell you one thing that I’ve been trying to do on the way there and as we’re here. Which is more sort of just old fashioned tracking, where I’m looking for signs of other vehicles, tire marks, things of that nature, discarded food wrappers, things, you know, whatever someone who would have been driving into this place might have left behind.
Yeah, give me that check.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a skill for it. But…
Then just a straight mind will do it.
What kind of bounty hunter doesn’t have a tracking skill? The one that I built.
it’s usually hard to track people when you’re driving at 100 kilometers an hour.
My roll is 14 plus three for 17.
My roll’s terrible, so we’re just going to kind of ignore it.
What was the total? Because it…
That’ll be an 11. He’s just I’ve got just one rank in that.
That’s you know, that’s that’s okay. And then Commet got a 19 straight?
And Karloff got an 11. So Karloff, you have seen signs of passage as you’ve been approaching. There are folks around; the ruined cities are places where people tend to scavenge. But for stuff that’s like organized groups like you’re looking for, you’ve spotted a few signs of recent activity. Like, it looks like places where people on motorcycles have camped but you’re not able to make enough sense of like where they went. You’re not finding, like, tracks going from camp to camp. So there’s a biker gang somewhere around here. You don’t know if it’s the same group or not.
Comet, from a distance, looking at this collection of tall buildings you’re pretty sure that you haven’t seen any motion in the streets among them. But there is… you see in a place or two, a light up near the tops of the buildings. You’re talking about, like someone lit a cigarette and and didn’t quite shield it well enough, or there’s a little bit of reflection of moonlight off of something shiny. But it seems likely that there are some people up in high places. Maybe lookouts? Who knows? …that are being pretty chill about where they are and what they’re doing.
Pretty chill as in they’re not doing much, or pretty…?
Oh, as in they’re trying to be stealthy.
Gotcha. I convey that information via the radio system. “We got we got company up in the up in the high parts of the buildings. I dunno if they’re snipers or just lookouts.”
Jones, your sonar… It’s a little funky to get working above ground.
Yeah, I figured trying to bounce sonar through a building is challenging.
There’s a whole lot of echoes and bouncing around of the signal. But it’s looking like most of the buildings are either full of rubble or big open voids. There is not much sign you’re seeing of like noise going on in the buildings. As you direct your sonar upward in response to Comet’s reports, you’re detecting some sort of movement up on the rooftops, but you can’t really place what it would be. They’re either not very numerous are not moving very much or both.
Vake, you are listening and you hear, carried on the wind and echoing. voices. And they’re mostly whispers. So you’re mostly just hearing like, whispering, but you occasionally you will hear a little bit of voiced sound. It seems to be more than just a few people. It’s like there’s a group that’s maybe seen well-lit vehicles arriving from a distance and is trying to be quiet.
I’ll go run over and hop into Baby Teeth’s car.
Hey, bud, what’s up?
Hey, I’m hearing a lot of voices. Sounds like there’s a lot of them. But I think they’re cool. I like how they talk real soft.
Yeah, that’s probably… probably because they don’t want us to hear them because they’re going to ambush us, so…
Really courteous of them. Really. When you think about it. I appreciate the hell out of it.
Yeah, that’s nice. I’m glad that you can… you got… I mean, you got great ears. You could hear it. That’s… That’s awesome. So yeah, we should be prepared for an attack then.
Yeah, I’m 100% on your side. I definitely don’t think we should harm such kind and courteous people, so…
So maybe wouldn’t it be better if they were just not talking at all.
Hey, Baby Teeth.
You, you said you saw like little fires or something right?
Yeah, just a very faint lights, like somebody was lighting a cigarette or something. Up, up high.
Can you let me know which one? Give me, give me like a building like three, four, two the right, or north or whichever direction you want to use?
It’s… it’s building three, four, two north to the right, that’s the one!
Just just looking at that one, Greg, from the sonar, is that that one that’s mostly voided or is that one that’s that’s filled with rubble on the inside?
It’s patchwork, I’d say? It does seem to be more stable towards the top.
Well, I’m not concerned as much about the stability at the top as I am about the stability at the ground level.
If you’re asking what I think you’re asking…
That’s what I’m asking, Greg.
If you dug a hole through it it would probably collapse.
Because I think I want to do that. Because that sounds like fun.
Alright! So what is the formation that y’all are in while there is a major urban demolition going on?
I over armored and hit pointed myself so I’m happy to be pretty close to the action. I don’t, I don’t think I’ll take a lot of damage.
I, in character, do not understand. I have not been given sufficient cues that there is going to be any demolition so I’m currently in my current position.
I’m wondering if we want to grab one of them for more information or not. No, I think this is this will be fine.
I’ll mention I think that the building that Comet saw people on is this one near the perimeter.
Where we were?
Yeah, one of the ones that’s got a good view of the surrounding territory.
Really the only question that I think I would have with respect to my role in this is: Do you want a distraction first? If not, then I will hang back and wait to pull in. If so, then I have a thing I will do.
How high can you jump?
Oh, quite high.
If they were to to jump to a different building…
I can jump real high.
…because the rats may just leave the nest this may not shake them out of the tree.
I’m not gonna have anything to do with rats, sorry. You’ll need a different player on the board.
Karloff you you know what I’m talking about right?
Can you jump high enough to get a shot at the roof?
Should be able to, yeah.
Rats carry a lot of diseases. Be careful.
Yeah, that too.
And then turn on the drill? I don’t know if this is going to be drilling or if this will be me placing some dynamite. Probably drill.
Yeah, I think both will do the job.
Let me… I’m checking jumping again.
I have Jumping three.
And Lucy, what… Vake’s jumping?
That is five.
Oh, okay. Vake, you think that you can jump to the top of one of these buildings.
Oh, yeah. I thought that without any kind of data, so…
Karloff, you can get a decent amount of height you’re not going to end up at top of the building.
Oh no. I… my plan isn’t to get on the building. My plan is to get a good vantage from which to get a shot at the people on top of the building.
You can definitely do that. So I currently have you spread out, Comet near where Jones is going to be approaching a building and then Vake and Karloff on parallel streets. Is that how you want to be?
That seems fine.
I’d actually like my tank to be close to Baby Teeth’s location because that is where I physically am currently.
Okay. Vake is with Comet in the street beside the building that Jones is planning to take down.
Okay. And then Karloff is on the next street over in a slightly more secure position. Okay, so give me initiatives.
If there’s anybody you need to shoot on top of a building. I’ve got a swanky machine gun that will reach.
Wow, that is a comically low initiative. I think the minimum I can roll is a 16. So getting a 17 on my initiative. It’s just sad.
Oh, I thought you were talking about mine. I was like, “Well, no need to be mean about it!”
And I will roll for mine. Okay. So it’s going to be Jones first. Yes. So you approach this dark city and Comet and Vake are driving next to each other down a street with Karloff little ways out, and Jones turns off slightly from the group and just turns on the drill and starts plowing into this building.
I never knew I wanted to take down a building with this character. But I kind of do now.
Is it noisy?
I think the drill itself is noisy. And I think that you probably have this 10 seconds or so after you realize what is going to happen when you know that it’s going to be very, very loud.
10 seconds. That’s probably fast enough for me to hop out of this vehicle and run over into the tank.
You leap into your tank just as Jones makes contact with this building. Give me… I guess… Do you have a demolition skill?
Yeah, I have it. It’s a three. So what stat?
I’m gonna say Mind here.
I think that knowing what to aim for, as far more important than like, getting the angle perfectly right.
So 13 plus three is 16.
All right. So with a 16 that is a quite good roll. You find a structural pillar on this building that’s still standing and aim for a spot that your sonar says you’ll be able to not just get caught up in a bunch of loose rubble. And there’s an enormous bang and crack as your drill head makes contact with the reinforced concrete of this building. And shards of rock and metal are getting tossed everywhere.
The the structure of buildings means that this is actually throwing up a lot more debris than just going through solid rock, as you have previously, does. And you you quickly disappear into the building. And after that initial noise it’s actually pretty quiet other than a low rumble coming from within the structure.
The rest of you hear, or had the opportunity to hear, in Vake’s case, motorcycle engines start at the top of that building and rev and vroom. And then, a moment later, there’s an enormous crack from within the building and it starts to collapse downward, sending clouds and clouds of dust out from it. Jones, you emerge from the other side as this building starts to collapse. And Vake, give me a drive check, please. Also, Comet, give me a drive check.
And also, Jolissa wants to come on the radio and say we have detected motorcycle engines from the top of the building. This is a notification.
Thanks, Jolissa. We could hear them. That’s cool.
You are welcome.
Did you say to do a drive check? Greg?
Calculating a new route to avoid collapsing building.
Alright, so Comet got a 20 and Vake got a 17, both with specialties. That means that you’re able to presumably pull forward further into the city and out of the blast zone for this collapsing building.
Forward to the next block. Still… Vake and Comet still riding pretty much side by side on this road. And you’re having to navigate from side to side a bit around debris that’s already in the road. So you’re not able to go at top speed by any means. Karloff, you have heard this enormous bang and ensuing rumble as this building starts coming down. What are you doing?
Excellent. For me to be able to see the top of that building, I’m probably gonna have to come around the block. I’m guessing is that would that be an accurate statement?
Yeah, if you take your next right, you’ll be able to be heading toward that collapsing building and kind of see whatever is on its roof as it comes down.
Okay, good. I think that as rubble is going to be coming down, I plan to be in the air jumping over the rubble at the time that it hits the ground.
That’ll be hopefully taking care of that. So yes, I’m planning to sort of come up, leap through the air as this is coming in… My objective here really is more than anything to put the fear of me into them, really. So I’m really only going to target one of them.
Okay, give me a Drive check first to see how your jump does.
I got an 18.
So you turn that corner and engage your boosters and launch up into the air in a graceful arc over this collapsing building. You see a small glimpse of Jones emerging from the building below you before this, this wave of rubble blocks him from your view, again, beneath you. And you see above you, as this building is going down, two motorcycles leaping from the roof of the collapsing building over to the next building over, they don’t seem to have any, like, rocket boosters on them; there… must have hit a ramp or something in order to get over.
Okay, so here’s what I’m planning to do. I would like to harpoon one of the writers and I’m going through and drag him along behind my vehicle as this black Humvee with death imagery painted on it comes hurtling through the air toward them.
All right, give me your attack.
Excellent. It’s an 18!
They rolled a 13 and… are you aiming primarily for the motorcycle or for the rider?
Oh, I’m aiming for the rider. This is going to be absolutely horrible. It’s going to look terrible. The point is to be really an example to the other rider.
Okay, so you see this motorcycle thats painted a blood red leaping through the air above you. You take aim in the middle of your jump, and that harpoon goes straight through the rider, pulling them off the bike. The bike continues in its arc, and you hear a scraping noise as it hits the roof of the building and then eventually a loud thump as it falls to the street on the other side. But you also hear the scream of the writer as they’re impaled on your weapon and yanked in an arc through the air. And, I imagine… are you reeling them in very fast or are you letting them swing?
Yeah, I’m letting them swing.
Okay, so as you’re rocketing forward, they’re pulled in a great arc and just slammed into that rubble, and the scream is cut short and your harpoon pulls out of the rubble, bloody, but without a body on it anymore.
That’s good. I think that’s good enough. Make an example of him.
That’s an example!
Comet. You’ve driven ahead of this rubble, and fortunately probably didn’t have a way to get a good view of what just happened. But you do hear an awful scream that is cut short immediately.
I will look behind just to see if I see anything. Do I see another, any other bikers?
You can hear those engines rumbling and echoing through these buildings, but it’s very hard to figure out where they’re coming from. You don’t have a good sight line on any.
Gotcha. I will do approximately nothing. I’m just going to keep driving and use up my time to look around and see if I see more people. Just reconnoiter.
Okay, you’re not seeing anyone. Presumably, they’re all up in the buildings — in and on the buildings — but you’re not seeing anyone easily visible. They haven’t had a turn yet, so that might change.
Yeah, just hang out then.
There’s a noise it’s very hard to describe. It’s got a low bass to it. And it’s just like a single tone that echoes through the streets. And an orange glow shines — almost golden glow — shines from some side streets up ahead of Comet and Vake and it’s shining across… So these are, these are cross streets so you’re kind of seeing it shine from the… both the left and the right up ahead. But it’s not immediately obvious what’s happening there. Vake!
Okay, but we can’t tell what it is. We just know there’s orange light coming in from those directions.
Yeah, it’s it’s pretty bright. It’s like someone turned on some golden colored headlights from each of those side streets.
Okay, I am going to pop back out of the tank, grab my Pole, and do something very acrobatic that will jettison me all the way up the side of the building, on top of the building that we are right beside. The one that still has a motorcycle, potentially, on top of it.
Okay. Give me an acrobatics, please, or whatever we decided it was.
So I rolled…
Poorly? No, I rolled pretty good.
Yeah, you rolled a 24, which is very, very, very good. You launch out of that aperture on your tank like someone launched from a cannon, do an acrobatic pirouette in midair, do a flip at the top of your arc, and land just deftly, not even not even like a three point landing, but like a like a gymnast landing from a spinning jump. And you’re up on the top of this building. And you see… you see a motorcycler. They’re revving his engine and he’s facing into a glowing, golden hole in midair. And you can see three other holes scattered on the rooftops around you.
A golden, glowing hole?
Yes. So it’s it’s maybe three meters across in diameter. It’s this ring of glowing, golden light. And on the other side of it, you see, like, if you look through the ring, you see the street level.
So I guess he didn’t see my amazing Cirque du Soleil shit?
He seems focused on like gunning and getting ready to go through that hole.
No, that’s cool. If I need any appreciation I have Jolissa.
as Jolissa “It was a 9.9 landing.”
Am I able to make an attack on this turn or does that mean…
Oh, yeah. Yeah, you can convert that landing directly into a sprint and and attack if you like.
Okay, well, I will go ahead and roll for that. Can I use my leaping attack?
Yeah, why not?
So I’m attacking with a 14.
They rolled a 13. You do the leap, and they seem to kind of hear something and look around and look up just in time to see your pole swinging down at them.
My goal will really be to knock them off of the motorcycle if possible, or mess up their motorcycle situation.
You hit them. They’re protected a little bit by the small wind screen and accouterments that’s on their bike. This is more of a crotch-rocket-style bike than like a laid back Harley-Davidson-style bike. But you can tell that it would be pretty easy to aim around that. They have partial armor, so it’s a reduced penalty. But in this case, you dealt a decent amount of damage anyway, so they’ve taken 21 damage. And they’re definitely knocked off of balance enough that they’re one foot down on the ground with their motorcycle now, so they’d have to… they’re, they’re engaged with you. Are you landing right next to them?
Yeah. And I’m going to say, “Hey, listen, I really like how quiet you’ve been. So I don’t really care to… to hurt you anymore. If you just want to kind of keep it at this level. I think you’re doing great.”
He says, “Are you not the extermination team from Niederdorf?”
Oh, no, definitely not. I hear people talking about rats. But believe me, I don’t want anything to do with them. No, as far as I’m concerned, you’re cool.
He calls out, “Hey, boss!”
No, no, no, no, no.
As you’re having this conversation the other motorcycles on different rooftops gun their engines and there’s a loud roaring of bikes and three motorcycles emerge from those side streets.
Jolissa will come on to the radio for all of you and say, “They seem to have some sort of device allowing them transportation between rooftops and street level, for your information.”
So like portals!
Like portals, yes. What a good synonym.
These three bikes emerge from from these portals. One of them is going to take a drive by at Karloff. They’re firing some sort of automatic, like, machine pistol or Uzi or something like that. But there’s a weird golden flash with each shot and a tracer glow to them that makes you think that these are not normal firearms.
Damn I can never remember… so you tied, you each got 11, which… tie go to the attacker. The bullets successfully make contact and your armor is less than 40 right?
So these things punch straight through the armor of your car and deal 35 damage to you.
Okay, that tells us things.
That is pain.
They leave little glowing red holes, bullet holes, behind.
35 damage. I assume we were at full before we came here because there was like time and…
Yes, yeah you are all healed up and repaired and so on. The other two… I guess one of them is going to fire at Comet’s car one of those going to fire at Vake’s car I don’t think that they have made the connection between Vake and Vake’s car and the whole situation yet. I don’t think there’s been enough time. So this is the attack on Comet.
Where is my armor? Okay, I’m rolling DCV, and I don’t have to worry about my armor.
They rolled a 14, you rolled a 17. So you’re able to careen from side to side of this rubble-filled urban street as they’re firing down at you from zooming across this intersection up ahead and then they’re gone. The bike that’s going the opposite direction from them is opening fire on Vake’s car.
Do I roll the same DCV whether I’m in it or not?
Yeah, I think so. Does Jolissa have stats for this? I think we said that Jolissa would just use your defense stats for simplicity sake.
Alright, so they hit you. We’re not tracking your vehicles damage separately… Should we just apply it to your health and just kind of abstract it? Or how do we want to do this? Since you’re separate?
I mean, I don’t… I’m not sure. Whatever you think would be the easiest, most logical way. I mean, I do have armor still.
Yeah… let’s, let’s track the damage to your car. And if it if it ends up mattering, we can figure it out. So your car’s armor is 60. So it ignores 40 of that. So your car will take 15.
Okay. I’m writing it down.
So those cars emerged from those side streets and you hear the roaring of their, of their engines. And then shortly after they cross the intersection that they popped out from the roar of their engines changes weirdly and presumably going back through those portals again.
Jones, you’re probably seeing all sorts of strange echoes on your sonar. You’re definitely seeing the movements of the motorcycles. I’m not sure that you can get much that’s near the rubble just because it’s so loud, that this building is still coming down right behind you.
Right. I of course, did not hear the conversation between Vake and the the rider at the top. So I presume they are exterminating rats. So I don’t want to tear down that building. So first off, I’m going to turn off my lights because I guess I don’t need them with all this glowing going on. And I’m going to kind of cut… not the actual corner but more through where it’s not structural on the building.
Okay, so you’re just going to drive through the lobby of this building?
Yeah, because I’m I’m pretty sure I can’t make that kind of a cut real quick. I’d have to make some kind of drive check to turn that hard in the middle of a collapsing building.
Yeah, so just kind of steer for the empty parts of the building and hope for the best. And Karloff, you see outside your driver side window down a street for a moment, the nose of Jones’s giant mining rig poke out as he does a very wide turn.
Yeah, I’m trying to figure out where these guys are… where they are going and where they’re coming from. But I’m pretty sure sonar is not helping me much. So I’m trying to get back into normal terrain. So I can actually pick up some visuals. So I’m pretty sure if these are actual, like, spatial rifts, sonar is going to get really confusing.
Yeah, the echoes that were already pretty bad are real rough. So you can see the glow from these holes reflected so you can get a general idea of where they’re sitting.
And I don’t think I can get to get a view or even to consider trying to drive into one of them at this point.
Yeah, I think making your way through the building probably takes a round.
So you’re not able to get to one this round.
I’m good with that.
So are you doing any other actions, or just?
I’m probably just repositioning myself because I don’t really have any useful targets. And I don’t wish to damage this building. Because I know Vake is there.
So, Karloff, you have landed in an intersection. You’ve gotten riddled with bullets. You’ve taken out one of these bikers. You have a hint that Vake is out out of their car. Although you don’t have line of sight on them. You can see the glow of these portals and you do have enough maneuvering that you could get to one of them if you wanted.
Oh, good, because now that I’ve seen them somehow using weapons that penetrate the car like it’s butter, I think that I’m going to have to take this fight to them as quickly as possible because this needs to be stopped. We’ve got to figure out where they’re coming from. And so that is what I am going to do. I presume I can’t actually see them otherwise, and that I can kind of intuit that I saw them come sort of from like this area or something along those lines?
Yeah, and you can still see the glow from that portal coming out from that side street if you’re heading in that direction.
They drove out and then turned around and drove back is that what happened
They drove straight on and you’re seeing glows from both sides so it’s… they drove out of one portal and into another.
All right, yeah, I’m heading for it.
So you head down this street careening from side to side, dodging plants and rubble, and turn the corner and there is this perfect hole in space. This ring of glowing light. And through it you can see mostly stars, but also the the bottom of the rooftop. So you drive down the street through this portal — are you going through?
Yes, I am going through.
And you emerge on a rooftop. Beside you looking… not surprised, but as if this was the worst scenario is one of those bikers.
Ah, excellent. Now would be an excellent time to make use of of weaponry against said biker.
Actually, from here where I am. Can I also kind of see where some of the others are?
Yeah, one sec…
Not that I’ll be able to communicate it very eloquently to everyone, but…
They’re… garbled radio noises
Eloquence is overrated.
They’re scattered around on various rooftops, some of them have portals next to them, some of them don’t.
Yeah, I think I’m going to try and harpoon this guy right, right next to me. Bring him along.
He looks at you and sees that harpoon start to turn and his eyes open wide and he, like, puts up both hands and waves them as to say, “No, no, no, don’t do it. Don’t do it!”
Oh, I’m doing it.
That’s a pretty good roll.
All right, you get a 19; he gets a 13. You aim that harpoon and it punches straight through the side panel of the motorcycle, pinning his leg to it, and then stabs straight through him, and he screams awfully and is… you can kind of yank him dragging both him and the motorcycle off balance. He is out of the fight.
And you’re now on a rooftop.
One thing I’m gonna start communicating over the radio, very briefly… we had a map of this place, right?
Yeah, it looks like the map you had is like what police would use if there was a police helicopter that had to indicate what building a criminal’s in. That’s the sort of map you have.
Okay, good. And so I’m going to, very briefly, because I know how my radio sounds, I’m gonna very briefly try to break through: B2. D2. A3. fades out
Next time, on Tabletop Garden: Ego Driver.
She’s moving as if ice skating on the surface of the building.
You stay down. I ain’t gonna come back.
Don’t see how that’s relevant to the moment at hand. We’re in the midst of an intense family situation here.
Hey, Mom… It’s me! We haven’t seen each other in a while
You’re gonna hear, crackling over the radio, “C3…” Then it’s just gonna be static.
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