Gregory 0:00
Mayor Leopold: enclosed find our report on the group we’re calling the Jacko Gang. Please note that the document uses code names due to captured members’ refusal to speak on their nature or origin.

Jim 0:13
Hi, I’m Jim Ryan and I am playing Karloff Carradine.

Gregory 0:18
The group is engaged in limited targeted raids mostly for intact technology or specialty resources, but not for food or water.

Ben 0:26
Hi, I’m Ben and I’m playing Jones Johnson IV.

Gregory 0:30
How they acquire membership is currently unknown, but we’ve had reports of children seen among their ranks.

Zoë 0:35
Hi, I’m Zoe, and I’m playing Comet “Baby Teeth” Sharps.

Gregory 0:40
We still have no information on how they require their advanced Terror Technology.

Lucy 0:44
Hi, I’m Lucy and I’m playing Vake.

Gregory 0:48
It is the conclusion of this logistics team that you employ Ego Drivers to deal with the problem, and better to pay them than to risk people we care about.

Gregory 1:23
Welcome back 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 and I would like to thank you for your patience as I’ve dealt with some stuff that has affected some of my projects. To avoid another unplanned hiatus, I’m making a couple of changes about how I’m doing Tabletop Garden editing.

Gregory 1:49
First, I’m going to make sure that there’s an entire campaign, an entire storyline, finished being recorded and edited before I start releasing it. So that might mean a larger gap between campaigns, but it should prevent there being a large gap in the middle of a campaign. And second, just in order to make editing a little easier. You might notice this being a little rougher. from here on in, you’ll probably hear a few more umms, a little more table chatter or background noise. But I’ll continue to edit out anything that I think would be really unpleasant to listen to or doesn’t actually contribute to the story or the conversation happening as part of the game. And so without further preamble, 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:

Gregory 3:02
Please tell your friends share it on social media. And if you want to support the show my patreon is at: We now continue Tabletop Garden: Ego Driver.

Jim 3:26
And so I’m gonna very briefly because I know how my radio sounds. I’m gonna very briefly try to break through: B2, D2, A3, E4, B5, E5. however much of that gets through

Gregory 3:47
alright so you get kind of a layout of roughly where these bikers are. Comet.

Zoë 3:52
Just like Battleship!

Jim 3:53

Zoë 3:54
Hello! I’m really interested in trying to not go through a portal but shoot through a portal and see if I can hit bikers without… I don’t know if bullets pass through portals. Can I reach this portal?

Gregory 4:09
Yeah, you can make your way along the streets and take a left and be facing that portal.

Zoë 4:15
When I am facing this portal. Can I see a biker through it?

Gregory 4:20
Yeah, you can see a biker that is looking back through the… actually I take that back they are not looking back through the portal they are looking in horror off to one side as if they just saw someone horribly, brutally killed several blocks away.

Zoë 4:36
Great to know! I would like to use my machine gun to fire through the portal at that biker, as long as they don’t look like my mom so far as I can tell.

Gregory 4:49
They’re wearing a helmet.

Zoë 4:50
Well, I’m gonna say, “I hope this isn’t my mom!” before opening fire.

Gregory 4:55
All right!

Zoë 4:56
And that will hit!

Gregory 4:59
They hear your gun spinning up and look over just in time to not dodge with a nine versus your 16.

Zoë 5:05
And that ignores 12 armor.

Gregory 5:07
And because you beat them by…

Zoë 5:10
oh yeah,

Gregory 5:11

Zoë 5:12
I hit an extra time for every three points over the defense roll.

Gregory 5:16
So you hit them three times ignoring 12 armor each time. 38 damage each time. So that means that 30 of that gets through.

Zoë 5:24
That’s a lot!

Gregory 5:24
So your machine gun just tears through them, they they look shocked for a moment and then just get torn apart by your bullets. And the biker that you’re right next to, Vake, is looking at this stuff in horror and looks at you and says, “I knew I couldn’t trust an ego driver.”

Lucy 5:44
Okay, I just asked you to please be quiet.

Gregory 5:48
Karloff and Vake you hear another strange, almost musical noise. And over on a building that’s sort of equidistant between the two of you. You see a line of light and a woman is there. And she’s moving as if ice skating on the surface of the building. She’s not in a vehicle. She’s just wearing some sort of skates and she rides in a wide circle and does a hop up on to the sort of pointy tip that’s at the at the top of this building. There’s sort of a tower, a mast coming up out of it and hangs on to the mast and looks around. She gestures out with a hand and all of the portals vanish and they reappear in different places. One of them is close enough that you can see her illuminated in the golden light of the portal. And she’s wearing a black leather suit and a red bow tie. She has that that golden glow from her skates is lighting up the ground around her feet. And she reaches into her jacket and pulls out something small that glitters and she flicks it at Karloff.

Jim 7:12
Oh boy.

Gregory 7:13
Like she’s flipping a coin.

Jim 7:14
Oh, that doesn’t look good. Go ahead and roll this. Oh yeah, that’s not good.

Gregory 7:19
So she rolled a 19. You rolled a 12.

Jim 7:23
It did hurt.

Gregory 7:26
She ignores 20 of your armor.

Jim 7:29
Ah, that would be all of it!

Gregory 7:30
Your armor is 28. Oh, okay. Oh, you got personal armor too? Right?

Jim 7:35
I do have some personal armor, I think. Not a lot.

Gregory 7:40
I have your total noted as 28. 41 of that damage gets through as a glittering coi, from her hand punches through the windshield of your car? And does it… does it impact your body? Or is this just like exhaustion and shock damage?

Jim 8:06
Well, that’s an interesting question because that takes me below my… that puts me at negative 11.

Gregory 8:12
Probably don’t have enough energy to spend. So this is going to take you out. So she flicks this coin and it zips through the air and flies straight through the windshield of Karloff’s car. And through him. I’m going to say that it’s probably a gut hit. Because she’s up on that mast or she’s angling down, it punches into your into your stomach and blood spreads out. And you can tell that you are wounded bad.

Jim 8:49
You’re gonna hear just crackling over the radio. “C3…” And then it’s just gonna be static. And he sort of looks down, and he… He kind of chuckles because he never expected to be taken out by a coin to the gut.

Gregory 9:15
This seems like a good time to do a quick chat before we wrap up for this recording session. So we have three agenda principles for this campaign. We’ve talked about the first two: save yourself and make it look good. But we haven’t yet talked about the third. Live like you’re dying: Don’t be afraid of failure. You’re not going to last long anyway, so don’t waste a second being cautious.

Gregory 9:47
So this is this sort of fatalistic “live each day like it’s your last and also don’t be afraid to sacrifice yourself” is a theme that shows up a lot in this sort of fiction. It also is in interesting tension with the idea of saving yourself and giving up your allies. But there’s also something that I find interesting in role playing games, which is that there’s a certain approach or role playing games where you want to win, and you want to do what makes you successful. And to regard failing, character failure, as something you’ve done wrong as a player. But one perspective that I like is looking at failure as an opportunity to have dramatic events happen.

Lucy 10:34
Yeah, I mean, I love failing. Sorry, Zo.

Zoë 10:38
No, you’re good. It’s all you.

Lucy 10:41
Ah, yeah. I mean, I like failing. And, I mean, not as much in in real life, I guess. A lot in games, because I think thinking about failure for a character is often pretty interesting. In role playing games that I’ve played before, at least, I know in this particular game, in the whatever session, it was, when Vake died. I knew – Lucy – I knew that when they got out of the tank and climbed into that car, that that was a terrible idea. Like that was not smart. But I was like, well, live like you’re dying. And that’s what Vake would do. So that’s what I did. And I think it was dramatic. So I guess it succeeded on that front.

Zoë 11:34
It was very dramatic.

Gregory 11:36
Jim is as both the person who just had a had a character taken out. And as someone in a situation where I don’t think this was a necessarily a case of Karloff… Karloff certainly took a risk going through an unknown portal, but he also got taken out by an enemy that had just shown up, and that you didn’t even kind of have enough information on to evaluate the risk of… how do you feel about this failure and, and, and loss as, as a dramatic element in in roleplay?

Jim 12:10
So, it’s interesting. I think that it’s always something that can be very good for the story. If it is done in a way that means something.

Gregory 12:27
Mm hmm.

Jim 12:28
I think that having not too long ago, been through another in character death after a campaign that was building up very largely to that character being taken out. And there were signs of it everywhere. Contrasting this, with that, I’m gonna say, this was not, shall we say rife with meaning per se. But…

Gregory 12:53
Yeah, this was just kind of like random. “Oh, shit.”

Jim 12:56
I think it’s very appropriate for the setting. And I think this is very much spinning a narrative where this is an enemy that we did not know very much about, and we very sorely underestimated. And this is the first time I feel like we’ve had a kind of thing where we see failure on the horizon, potentially. And so I think that kind of thing is good. That kind of reversal, I think is good and almost necessary for a story in which we’ve had for the most part, unbridled success. Yes. Vake did get taken out last time,

Lucy 13:37
Speak for yourself.

Gregory 13:41
But I think it definitely is the case that like, we can all see how Vake could have come out of that just fine.

Jim 13:47
Yes. That’s the thing is that, yeah, Vake did get taken out last… before. So I mean, that is the exception to what I was what I was talking about, but it didn’t take.

Gregory 13:56
And I think that I think that having established that it didn’t take we’re we’re sort of… we’ve set a certain expectation for this campaign that I don’t know that it is certain that Karloff has gone. Right.

Jim 14:08

Gregory 14:08
Like this is a setting where where death is, is not not necessarily… Getting taken out of a scene… We don’t know whether or not something’s gonna happen to save him like it did to Vake. You know, we don’t know whether someone could stabilize him or not. But I think that some campaigns, you can be like, “Oh, well, you got taken out so you’re dead.” I think that this is a campaign where it’s more where some of that weight is taken out by the fact that like, death apparently isn’t necessarily final in this this particular sub genre. Does that cheapen it?

Jim 14:46
I don’t know that it does. I think that death should represent… well, “death…” I think that something like being taken out should represent in some way, the story moving forward for that person character that character’s arc, it’s going to affect them. I don’t think we’ve had enough time to see how Vake’s return has affected them.

Gregory 15:08

Lucy 15:09
I’m headed for apotheosis.

Jim 15:10

Lucy 15:11
Just heads up.

Jim 15:12
This is a, this is a theme with you.

Gregory 15:16
You have died and come back and therefore represent some sort of prophetic being.

Ben 15:23
One of the things that I’m kind of reminded of about dying being a bad thing is connected to some of the mechanics of the earlier gaming systems.

Gregory 15:36
Oh, yeah.

Ben 15:36
The modern gaming system, you know, 5e, if you die and write a new character, the rules, say, build a character at the same level as the party. Whereas in second ed, the rule was, you built a character a level lower than the party.

Gregory 15:52
Yeah, going back to Dungeons and Dragons, again, death there meant losing something real beyond the emotions, which which are absolutely real. You also, like, lost time, like the progress of numbers that you’ve made was was dropped.

Ben 16:09
Yeah. And even even back in that system, if you could get brought back to life, you were still generally permanently less capable as a character, because you could only be brought back so many times in order to reduce some of your stats potentially. And, you know, D&D wasn’t the only game that had systems like that. Shadowrun You know, when you came back, you couldn’t get all the benefits of a character who’s had time to build their character over over the period of various roles you can take advantage of when you’re, you’re building long term. And it’s actually one of the things I’m, I’m glad that the modern systems step away from because I feel a lot of people weren’t willing to have a story arc where their character would sacrifice themselves, because they’re like, well, it’s a cool story. But then next week, I’m playing a dude who’s weaker than everyone else. And that’s no fun.

Gregory 17:10
Yeah, it seems like one could defend that sort of mechanic by saying that it made death more meaningful. But it also makes it so that people are unwilling to engage in the narrative meaning because it’s just plain inconvenient. From a, you know, gamey, rules-y standpoint. If that is the intended purpose of having death be so painful, I don’t think that it actually succeeds.

Ben 17:35
And like this, this moment that we just had, whether or not the death is final or not, it’s it’s one that we see a lot in stories, which is, well, how do we signify that this villain is a major threat? Well, they just show up and someone gets effectively one shot even though I mean, you did have… Karloff had some damage on him before…

Gregory 18:00

Ben 18:00
…the the attack was thrown But still, the it’s that that moment you see in a lot of movies and and a lot of a lot of TV shows where the new enemy shows up and someone in the party gets taken out immediately. Just to signify, This is an actual threat. This is not the same mooks you’ve been dealing with so far. And so while it’s it may not be the this character has been building up for the moment, it’s still a solid statement moment for the NPC and for the players to recognize the threat level.

Gregory 18:40
And hopefully, it doesn’t take stuff away from that if later on, someone is dug up out of the rubble and, and has managed to be rescued or whatever. But that’s in part on how the story is told. And and whether I guess whether is y’all are saying there’s that lasting effect on the character of this experience they’ve gone through. Zoe, have you ever gone through the experience of of having a character die? I guess in the first fight you had a time when we do a sketchy rules call from me. Your character was on the chopping block.

Zoë 19:12
Yeah. And that was I think that’s just uh, that feels a little bit different than you know, having a character for a handful of sessions who makes makes a choice or rolls poorly. But I while I haven’t personally I had a character that has died. I’ve been in a 5e game where another character died, but but a, a character’s animal companion died. And it was like a very, very climactic moment. And I think that having that moment while it was like, super devastating for everyone, it is one of the most memorable times that I can think of with this like group that I’ve been with for almost a year now, playing 5e with. And I think of like a comparing comparing that game to my my Pathfinder game. Even though I find myself much more emotionally distressed at the 5e game, our GM has put us in a lot more tough and risky situations and thrown a lot more stuff at us than the other game. And having those opportunities for failure where we’re where, you know, it is it is a hard fight people do make death saves, like, we have, you know, characters down for the whole fight or away or, I don’t know, something like that. I think that like being being in a in a game system where failure is less mechanically devastating is really rewarding. And I would really, I look forward to having the opportunity at some point to play a game where failure literally is rewarded with experience rather than experience being granted by success. Because I think that I don’t know for from a narrative perspective. Those are the moments that are much more defining, like seeing, seeing, seeing your characters make tough choices, rather than, you know, just really, really kick the crap out of the bad dude and get all the loot. It’s hard with these like shorter story arcs like we’re doing for this Tabletop Garden, because I feel like it’s hard to get attached to characters and groups over just a few sessions. But I think that is a really important part of these worlds that we’re building to sort of, you know, make those tough choices, and especially since they are shorter, I don’t know it takes a little bit of the weight out of failure, but it also makes it a little bit more freeing.

Gregory 21:53
Does anyone else have thoughts on that sort of on failure that fall short of death or major loss? Just the the low level failures that and their effect on story and drama?

Lucy 22:05
I was thinking about something Zoe just said about mechanics. I you know, that monster of the week, I can’t remember which system that is… apocalypse?

Gregory 22:15
Yeah, Powered by the Apocalypse based.

Lucy 22:16
Powered by the Apocalypse. They reward, you know, experience when you fail, which I think is an interesting mechanic. Although the, um, from what I’ve heard of it, it doesn’t really particularly seem to motivate the players to fail, particularly. So I’m not sure.

Gregory 22:34
One rule that that I think is interesting in the Chronicles of Darkness system, which is the the revision to the New World of Darkness system is that you can get experience points, essentially for… for turning a regular failure that you’ve had into a dramatic failure and making it worse. Which is…

Lucy 22:52
Oh, yeah.

Gregory 22:53
…I think a more compelling thing for a player to consider.

Lucy 22:57
I like that mechanic too. I was also contrasting the mechanics of all of these games with my current most long term game, which is in Rosette…

Gregory 23:10
Rosette Diceless!

Lucy 23:11

Gregory 23:12 Or for more stuff that we’ve made.

Zoë 23:21
Greg, I’m not sure, I caught that. Could you say it two more times?

Lucy 23:24
But it’s all consent based. So you’re never making a choice because of a dice roll. And you’re always thinking about the kind of story that you want to tell. And you always get to decide what the effects of failure mean for your characters. So it is interesting to contrast that kind of play with this kind of play. And certainly Karloff’s possible death, I think is very jarring, right? Because there’s no control over that. But I’m not sure that I value that more or less than a more consent based sort of system.

Jim 24:05
I think as far as failures in general are concerned, I think that I really like the idea that failure should be interesting. And it should drive things forward. Regardless of how major or minor it is. I do like the way that games like Monster of the Week and Dungeon World turn failure into a learning experience. Your character gets more experience, more experience points when they fail. But then I also like the philosophy that missing a roll doesn’t necessarily mean that you have failed at your task, per se. It means that, again, in Powered by the Apocalypse terms, the GM gets to make a hard move against you. So you might be able to do something but it could come at great cost.

Gregory 25:02
Yeah, you’re not rolling to see if you move the plot forward, you’re rolling to see if you… how much control you have and how many downsides you have to take as part of that progression.

Jim 25:14
Exactly. And even one of the things that I like about Rosette Diceless, for example… I tried to hold it together.

Zoë 25:32
This episode was sponsored by Rosette Diceless, Rosette Diceless. What’s the website again?

Gregory 25:40

Jim 25:41
Rosette Diceless, that’s the one you want to check out.

Gregory 25:44
Or look us up on Drive Thru RPG, or on Kindle or Amazon print-on-demand! Sorry, you were saying.

Jim 25:53
I was saying one of the things that I like about Rosette Diceless is that regardless of whether you are succeeding or failing, you are always moving things forward, things are always changing. And the GM has to react to whatever the characters are doing, because that forms the plot. So I very much think that in games that are meant to be focused on the PCs as protagonists, failure should definitely inform everything that’s going on as much as success and should always have significance to it.

Gregory 26:32
Yeah. Well, thank you all for chatting with me about that. And this is the end of one recording session. But at the next recording session, we will resume in the ruined city of Yetnikoff and we will find out what happens to the rest of you as you face Billie Jean.

Gregory 26:56
Vake. You are standing on a rooftop next to a biker who expressed anger at you. But who has who did who did not shoot at you. Did you? Did you hit this person? And then say you didn’t want to kill them?

Lucy 27:14

Gregory 27:15

Ben 27:15
Yeah, that was that was usual gamer logic.

Gregory 27:18
Okay. They did not…

Lucy 27:21
I said, “I don’t want to hurt you anymore.”

Gregory 27:23
Okay. They have not attacked back yet. Even though they know they could have.

Lucy 27:30
Yeah, they had a turn.

Gregory 27:32
They look like they’re about to retaliate now.

Lucy 27:35
Oh, so…

Gregory 27:36
They’re like pulling out their their gun

Lucy 27:39
They’re pulling out their gun?

Gregory 27:40

Lucy 27:41
I thought we had a good talk!

Gregory 27:43
You can also see diagonally across an intersection on a nearby building. You can see Billie Jean has her back to you.

Lucy 27:51
Oh, interesting, huh? Then I guess what I am going to do is something I am certain to regret. And I’m going to just leave my friend behind here on top of this building. And go… because I saw what happened, right?

Gregory 28:17
Yeah, you saw her throw her hand out and heard Karloff get cut off over the radio or give a dying soliloquy over the radio.

Jim 28:29
Very short soliloquy.

Lucy 28:32
I am going to go bounding with Pole off of my building on to Billie Jean’s building. I’ll take the attack of opportunity if that is a thing.

Gregory 28:44
It is not.

Lucy 28:46
Excellent. And try to leap over to her building in an attempt to surprise her.

Gregory 28:55
All right, give me your Acrobatics. You very deftly step off of the railing to this building and leap up in the air towards the next one. Are you going to come down attacking with a leaping attack?

Lucy 29:11
Yeah, I am. I don’t 100% know how this game works in this sort of thing, but I don’t think I could possibly one shotter but I don’t want to kill her. I really just want to make her stop throwing coins at people.

Gregory 29:27
All right, you can you can choose not to do full damage. If it’s going to kill her, you can basically decrease your damage value as much as you want.

Lucy 29:35
Okay, here’s my leaping attack.

Gregory 29:39
All right, she rolled a 15 you rolled an 18. So that will hit you swing down at her, and around her you see that static bubble. As soon as your your poll comes down that that’s the indicator of a forcefield. You strain against this forcefield and manage to punch through, but it very much slows down your strike. So you only deal one point of damage to her.

Lucy 30:07

Gregory 30:08
But her forcefield is now dropped by one step.

Lucy 30:11
I also once I have her attention, which I assume I now do,

Gregory 30:16
Yeah, she wheels around and looks you up and down says, “What the hell?”

Lucy 30:21
I say. “I see you have six fingers on your left hand. Someone wants to meet you.”

Gregory 30:30
She looks at you very blankly and says, “what?”

Lucy 30:37
I say it a little bit louder this time.

Gregory 30:41
She kind of backs up a few steps and says, “Where did you get that weapon?”

Lucy 30:48
Uh, I’ve had it for a while I don’t see how that’s relevant to the moment at hand. We’re in the midst of an intense family situation here.

Gregory 30:59
I will do the bikers’ turn now. So the those portals shifted the last time that Billie Jean waved her hand. And the bikes that are in front of the new portals now drive through. And two of them are crossing paths near comets vehicle. And two of them are crossing paths sort of ahead of Jones’s vehicle. And so you can each see that that glow, that bright glow from cross streets, and then you hear the roaring of motorcycle engines, and then these bikes each emerge and fire at you as you go past with those strange glowing tracer bullets. So on Comet, their first attack is a 10, yours is your defense is 16, so you manage to duck down and move your car a bit to avoid any lasting damage. The second biker that swoops by…

Zoë 32:02
Do I do DCV again?

Gregory 32:03

Zoë 32:04

Gregory 32:06
So they rolled a nine and you rolled an 11. So this one also… this one’s a little closer, but you managed to to duck down and avoid all of this rain of bullets, but there are definitely a few glowing holes in in various thinner parts of your vehicle that suggest that these things can chew through armor in an unsettling fashion.

Zoë 32:28
Oh boy,

Gregory 32:29
For Jones, you’ve got two against you.

Ben 32:33
I do have Extra Defense.

Gregory 32:35
All right, here’s the first one. Wow, they are rolling really badly. This one they rolled an eight, you rolled a 17. So in this case, you probably are just able to like adjust one of your armor platings to just ricochet those bullets off completely harmlessly. And this one does hit.

Ben 32:57
I’m going to reroll.

Gregory 32:58
Okay, you’re using your Divine Relationship, and you had a 14 before now you’ve got a 16 which is enough to avoid their attack of 15. So this one is a little closer, but luckily their front tire hits a rock just as they’re firing and it lifts their arm just enough to avoid hitting a weak point on your armor and they zoom back through and end up back on the rooftops again. Billie Jean looks at Vake and says, “What do you mean family situation?”

Lucy 33:26
I mean, I feel like this is sort of a dramatic moment. For you, mostly. I’m really third party here. However, I do not mean to kill you.

Gregory 33:40
Aren’t you the assassins from Niederdorf? You’ve already killed my siblings.

Lucy 33:43
Your siblings?

Gregory 33:44

Lucy 33:45
I knew it. I knew it was intense family drama.

Gregory 33:49
I’m… I was talking metaphorically. Jones?

Ben 33:53
When we last left Billy Jean she was up on the roof but I thought she was kind of elevated on the roof?

Gregory 34:00
Yeah, she’s up on a mast like an antenna mast. So I guess Vake swung down at her and then landed maybe on the… is Vake up on the antenna mast with her or is Vake down on the rooftop?

Lucy 34:13
I think it probably makes more sense that I did some sort of flippy thing and then landed down below.

Gregory 34:19
Alright, so you’ve kind of been shouting back and forth. So yeah, so Billie Jean is visible to Jones. Vake is not although Billie Jean is clearly talking to someone down on the roof.

Ben 34:31
Yeah, I never understand quite what Vake is doing but in the principle of attempting to keep Billy Jean alive. I will however do something that should help us in the long term of the fight. The laser that’s been protected up on the top of my vehicle will angle up and I am going to take a series of shots from the very angry red prism on the front of it. I will be willingly lowering its damage down to one.

Gregory 34:58
Okay. I will remind you that you don’t reduce force fields until you get through them.

Ben 35:05

Gregory 35:05

Ben 35:06
This specific attack has 55 force field penetration. Sorry, 56.

Gregory 35:11
All right.

Ben 35:14
And is auto fire.

Gregory 35:15
So Jones rolled a 21. Billie Jean got a 19. So, you… one of those laser bolts hits her. It punches just about straight through her force field with a shimmer of static but just leaves a little burn on the the shoulder of her leather suit. And she looks down. So yes, her forcefield has dropped again.

Ben 35:40
She does have some armor on underneath?

Gregory 35:42
It looks like it probably hurt her like she winces okay, but it is just one damage.

Ben 35:47
All right, yeah. It’s only one. Not trying to kill; I’m trying to annoy. I really need some cover from these bikers constantly trying to do these drive bys. What is the internal consistency of the building directly in front of me?

Gregory 36:02
Building directly in front of you is… I’ll say it’s, well let me just roll a die… or two dice, since this is BESM. It’s got a pretty good mix of some small spaces and some dense rubble.

Ben 36:17
Okay, I’m going to try and find some area that’s slightly more rubble.

Gregory 36:20

Ben 36:21
Just to give me some cover.

Gregory 36:23
And you’re avoiding…

Ben 36:24
I’m avoiding structural because I don’t need to bring down lots of buildings.

Gregory 36:29
All right. And are you… you’re generally trying to kind of not have a direct line of sight to the outside?

Ben 36:33
Yeah, I’m figuring I’m going to be trying to do the opposite of what they’re doing. But with buildings instead of portals.

Gregory 36:41
Alright. So you dig into the to the rubble that’s inside this building. And I guess, yeah, Vake is the only one with a decent line of sight on this. You see him just drive into a building and the building doesn’t seem to go down this time. Vake, Billie Jean just said that when she said sibling it was a metaphor.

Lucy 37:01
Uh… okay.

Gregory 37:05
…all right. Comet. You’ve just gotten shot at you probably can’t see very clearly what’s going on at the top of the building where Billie Jean is just because you’re directly at the base of it. That makes sense, but you could see some light flashing from her. What you don’t know are her rollerblades and the sound of Karloff falling unconscious over the radio

Lucy 37:28
comment. Would you like to be apprised of the situation? With your parental unit?

Zoë 37:37
Yes, yes. Julissa, that would that would be good.

Lucy 37:41
Your parental unit is located on top of this building. There’s sort of a laser pointer situation. That transpires, I love it, it seems that your parental unit has murdered one of your colleagues faac. In other news, she is now attempting to explain literary devices to vake. I can tell her from personal experience that this is a useless task.

Zoë 38:09
I’m not entirely surprised.

Gregory 38:11
Billie Jean kind of tilts her head and lifts a finger to her ear and says to Vake, “Are they… who are they talking about?”

Lucy 38:21
Who are? Who are you talking about?

Gregory 38:25
Your people are on the radio talking about a parental unit.

Lucy 38:30
Oh, that’s you. You’re the parental unit.

Gregory 38:33
“No, no, I’m not.” Comet, what do you do?

Ben 38:36
Truly, we have sent our best diplomat.

Zoë 38:41
I’m going to just keep trying to take out other bikers because I in character can’t really think straight about anything that’s going on right now. So if I drive over like to this area…

Gregory 38:54
You drive between the two portals.

Zoë 38:56
I don’t want to stop in between quite yet. But do I see any people? With my nose… I’m just trying to get my nose like barely stuck out. Do I see anything through either of those portals?

Gregory 39:08
Yeah, if you inch forward, you see like the edge of a tire. Having seen you fire through the portal at their allies before they’ve definitely taken cover.

Zoë 39:18
Makes sense.

Gregory 39:19
You might be able to get a shot off.

Zoë 39:21
Well, now it’s time to try another thing to do through a portal because I really don’t want to die on top of a rooftop like our friend did. It’s gonna be hard to get him down. I’m going to try to use an area attack through a portal.

Gregory 39:36
All right.

Zoë 39:36
My vehicle around… I’ll have right up to a portal where I can see a wheel coming through. And I’m going to use my stunning energy blast weapon and see if it’ll work through a portal. It has a range of, or an area of 10 meters, looks like.

Gregory 39:53
I’ll say they’ve got a plus three to their defense since you’re kind of they’ve got cover and also the… You’re not doing your full circle since going through a portal.

Zoë 40:03
Fair enough. I will roll ACV. That’s pretty decent.

Gregory 40:07
All right, so you roll an 18. They even with their bonus roll a 12 so you still catch them in the blast.

Zoë 40:17
I’m gonna, I’m gonna get you. That’s yeah 56 points of damage. And the target needs to make a body stat roll at a 12 or they will be stunned. In this case, that’s a an electrical short so their their equipment fails. It doesn’t necessarily hurt them unless they have a pacemaker or something. Or they’re a cyborg.

Gregory 40:40
We’ll say that it ends up being the biker that’s closest to us. So they take 36 damage after their armor absorbs some of the blast. And then they make a… you said body?

Zoë 40:52
Mm hmm.

Gregory 40:52
Their body check is 15 so they are not stunned.

Zoë 40:55
All right. And that is what I do.

Gregory 40:58
Vake, you see a blast of electricity come out of one of the portals and cascade over the biker there and they they’re definitely shocked but they don’t drop or anything.

Lucy 41:09
Comet. That was a good one.

Zoë 41:13
Thanks, Jolissa.

Lucy 41:15
I am happy to assist you.

Zoë 41:17
God. I love her.

Gregory 41:21
All right, it is Billie Jean’s turn.

Lucy 41:25
Don’t worry if she wants to conversate some more I am ready.

Ben 41:30
Heavily armed conversationalist.

Lucy 41:34
Pow, pow, pow, pow.

Gregory 41:36
So she from up on the antenna gestures with her hand. And you see those portals shift again. And she reaches into her jacket and pulls out another coin and this sort… and rolls it over her knuckles and then flips it over her shoulder just like up into the air and you see it glitter for a moment that go up into the… like you lose sight of it. And she says, “Who is it that I’m supposed to be the parent of?”

Lucy 42:08
To be 100% honest with you. I’m super concerned about where that coin is going to land.

Gregory 42:13
And Comet

Zoë 42:15

Gregory 42:16
This is just going to be a defense role based on how how good your positioning is in being in a safe spot in your vehicle. Because you kind of can’t see this one coming.

Zoë 42:30
I’m probably just sitting in in the driver’s seat. Just looking around to see if I see anything.

Gregory 42:39
And maybe it’s more of your armor placement.

Zoë 42:42
Not trying to do anything special.

Gregory 42:44
She’s at a penalty for this roll…

Zoë 42:45

Lucy 42:46

Zoë 42:47
It’s a good one.

Gregory 42:49
She rolled an 18 to hit.

Zoë 42:50
And I’ll roll DCV. Maybe I’m rolling hot. Alright, let’s… unless adding a couple points will… hmm. That wouldn’t be bad. I feel like it’s not justifiable to use energy points here since I don’t see it coming. So I’m going to leave that roll.

Gregory 43:12
All right. So you’re kind of sitting there looking, probably trying to see if you see the biker fall over. And all of a sudden you hear a very loud bang as a coin penetrates straight through the roof of your vehicle.

Zoë 43:25
Oh boy.

Gregory 43:26
So it ignores 20 of your armor.

Zoë 43:30
All right. That leaves me with 40 because I got too much armor after that first incident.

Gregory 43:38
And nine… that leaves you with 40… Yeah, so nine damage comes through so you’re probably what? Are you cut by it?

Zoë 43:48
I think that makes sense. I think maybe one of the sleeves of my denim jacket is no longer fully attached.

Ben 43:56

Gregory 43:56
Not your jacket!

Zoë 43:57
It’s okay. I can pass it up. “It’s okay, guys.”

Lucy 44:01
Look, there’s skin and there’s fashion.

Zoë 44:04
You’re right. They are two separate things.

Ben 44:10
Thanks, Jolissa.

Gregory 44:11
Billie Jean kind of shrugs at at Vake.

Lucy 44:14
That wasn’t Jolissa.

Zoë 44:15
It’s just Lucy.

Lucy 44:16

Zoë 44:19
Jolissa doesn’t make jokes unless… Unless you tell her to.

Gregory 44:23
So I will real quick move these portals around.

Lucy 44:27
Are you requesting a joke?

Zoë 44:29
No, thank you. Uh, ouch!

Gregory 44:33
Yeah, with where you are. I think all the portals are gonna be centering on Comet.

Zoë 44:38

Ben 44:40
Sorry, my bad.

Zoë 44:42
Nah, it’s cool.

Ben 44:43
I thought at least a couple of them would go crazy but maybe not.

Gregory 44:46
I think if they can’t get like if they can’t don’t see a way to fire on Jones. I’m not sure they’ll bother…

Ben 44:51
I just didn’t think all four would come through this turn. I thought only two were coming through this turn.

Gregory 44:55

Ben 44:55
Which is a tactical error on my part.

Gregory 44:58
And we’ll give I’ll give one of these folks a quick break because they just got shot at. That person’s injured too.

Lucy 45:07
You know, what some people call tactical mistakes other people might call dramatic.

Zoë 45:15
For sure.

Gregory 45:17
Vake, you’re up.

Lucy 45:18
Vake is having a quick interchange mentally. It seems like Billie Jean is monitoring radio and not telepathy. So, anyway Vake mentally is like, “What’s the opposite of matricide? Or patricide? I can’t think of what the alternate thing would be like when you’re not when you’re trying to kill your parent but when you’re trying to kill your child.”

Zoë 45:48
Infanticide is baby killing but I don’t know about just regular child killing. Do I want to Google that on my work computer?

Ben 45:59
That’s close enough.

Lucy 46:00
“It is not necessary to Google anything on your work computer. It is infanticide, Vake. That is the word you are searching for.”

Lucy 46:08
“Infanticide! That’s what you’re trying to do!” Now she’s saying that out loud to Billie Jean. But it probably comes off a little bit weird, because she’s just had sort of… or sorry, they… have just had a… well I guess she, being Jolissa and they, being Vake, have just had an internal conversation which has now become external.

Gregory 46:28
Billie Jean says, “I’m trying to kill a baby?!”

Lucy 46:31
Well, yeah, your baby. That doesn’t seem cool at all. I’m really rethinking whether I should be trying to hurt you harder.

Gregory 46:39
Look, whoever you’re talking about. This kid is not my son or my daughter or whatever. All right, I’ve never had a kid.

Lucy 46:45
“Wow, that really reminds me of something I’ve heard recently, but…” Vake is going to try to do something acrobatic to pop up there and hit Billie Jean with Pole.

Gregory 47:01

Lucy 47:03
Do I need to do an acrobatic..?

Gregory 47:05

Lucy 47:05
…first or just an attack?

Gregory 47:08
Actually… Yeah, there’s there’s a chance you won’t be able to make it up there. Hmm… No, nevermind, your Pole extends enough. Just Just give me the attack.

Lucy 47:19
Okay, I am not going to use leaping just this time. Just Pole.

Gregory 47:23

Lucy 47:24
I mean, I’m asking.

Gregory 47:26
Up to you. You can leap or not.

Lucy 47:28
Okay. Well, then I will leap.

Gregory 47:31
The the risk with leaking is… leaping is if you miss you’re kind of off balance when you land.

Lucy 47:37

Gregory 47:38
Right. So you rolled a nine and she rolled a 15. You leap up there and she dodges to one side and does a really deft twirl around the pole. And your your whiff throws you off balance and when you land you have to… you’re you’re kind of splayed out a little bit. Your three point landing is a little bit more of a 3.78 landing.

Lucy 48:07
Yeah, because it’s more of a four point landing. “Damn it!”

Gregory 48:12
She says, “Look, I don’t know what you’re trying to pull here. Why won’t you just leave us alone?”

Lucy 48:16
I just told you we’re not even trying to hurt you. I mean, when I say we, I mean at least a solid, well, now at this point 75% of us. That that’s a lot.

Gregory 48:29
She says you just tried to hit me with a military grade weapon. And you hear the roar of engines again as the bikes ride through the portals for an all out assault on Comet.

Zoë 48:45

Gregory 48:45
So this will be for attacks. Here’s the first one,

Zoë 48:50
Which I… let’s see.

Gregory 48:52
You’ll defend against each one.

Zoë 48:54
And each time I have to roll slightly. I get a penalty. Right,

Gregory 48:58
Right. Yeah.

Zoë 48:59

Lucy 49:01
I believe in you, Comet, you got this.

Zoë 49:05
“Thanks!” As I hear some bullets getting very close to hitting me.

Gregory 49:11
The first bike roars past the front of your car with a 12 of an attack you rolled a 13. So bullets go all around your car and a few of them you managed to duck out of the way of as they punch through your windshield and rico… They don’t even ricochet they just pass through your car harmlessly. The second attack comes from behind and you’re at a minus one to defend against it.

Zoë 49:39
I am going to just have that attack.

Gregory 49:45
They roll the 14 and your final roll was a 12. And so they’re going to ignore 40 of your armor.

Zoë 49:53
Okay, so that leaves me with 20 armor so I take 15 points of damage?

Gregory 50:01

Zoë 50:02
All right.

Gregory 50:04
So you’re kind of ducking down and have barely recovered from that first attack when a bunch of bright red bullet holes appear in the back door of your car. And what… where do these bullets end up?

Zoë 50:20
These ones end up, I think my passenger seat’s probably pretty well screwed at this point. I might, I might get one. And I would like to avoid getting hit in any very important places for now, I might get one through the back seat and into my into my, like, love handles and maybe take take a couple of arm shots. Again, the jacket is not not really gonna make it out of here so well.

Gregory 50:52
That’s the real tragedy here.

Zoë 50:53
And it really is, I mean, I’m replaceable, but but that’s a nice jacket.

Gregory 50:59
The third attack comes from in front of you and your at a minus three, this time.

Zoë 51:02
Oh boy, try to roll hot, I’m going to spend a number of energy points to increase that roll.

Gregory 51:15
All right, they rolled a 12 and you got a 14, which would have dropped to 11. So you’re gonna need to spend 20 energy points. In order to get a plus two.

Zoë 51:25
I’m willing to do that. I would like to make some sort of last minute driving maneuver to swing out of the way a little bit to avoid that attack.

Gregory 51:36
Alright, so you, you throw the wheel to one side and slam on the accelerator just in time to get slightly out of the way of those shots. And then your fourth attack on you comes from behind again. And you’re going to be a minus six against this one.

Zoë 51:55
Which is the most minus you can get in this right.

Gregory 51:59

Zoë 51:59
I can’t be any more minus. Oh, it’s pretty good one. Yeah.

Gregory 52:04
So they rolled an 11 year old a 17.

Zoë 52:07
Which is 11. I’m going to spend, I’m gonna spend some more points and bump that up. It’s just one. I want to live to see my mom even if it’s right before I tie her up and throw her in the back of my car and take her to the authorities.

Gregory 52:23
All right, so you spend 10 more energy points…

Zoë 52:26
I sure do!

Gregory 52:27
…manage to just hunker down and withstand this, this rain of bullets firing all above your head and probably a few of them punching through some of the less important compartments of your car.

Zoë 52:42
The driver’s manual is ruined now I’m never gonna know how to you know set the right tire pressure in my car.

Lucy 52:49
I have looked up some information from ancient Sage Tim Gunn on how to repair denim.

Zoë 52:57
Thanks… thanks, Jolissa.

Lucy 52:59
These files are antiquities.

Zoë 53:02
That’s good. I’m sure I can I’m sure I can make it work

Lucy 53:06
Make it work. That is right.

Gregory 53:10
Well done everybody. Jones.

Ben 53:15

Gregory 53:16
You’re… you’ve been able to follow most of what’s been going on. With your sonar you can see the vehicles pretty well once when they’re on the ground. So you were able to see that that hail of bullets on Comet and then hear over the radio that she’s okay. I think probably Vake and Billie Jean you’ve got less of a good idea what’s going on up there.

Ben 53:41
Then I guess I’m going to have to… we’ve just got to we got to get some of these numbers down a little bit. So from the… because I guess on this side, I’ll see the backside of this portal. Does the backside look real?

Gregory 53:58
Yeah, the when you’re when you’re looking from so you’re able to pull forward and look down the street. And you know, there are two portals on the street because you can see the light from both of them. But from the back side, you don’t see that portal so you only see the one ring of light, you can’t see the other portal.

Ben 54:16

Gregory 54:17
Except you know, it’s there because of the light it’s shedding. But you can see through the distant portal, like, the hint of a mirror of some… of a car that’s in cover at the edge of the portal.

Ben 54:32
Okay, um, we’ll at least try and take one out cuz I think the far portal is going to be too far for me to throw dynamite. That’s definitely out of range. So since I’ve got the laser up, I’m just going to fire the laser through there.

Ben 54:51
And I’m going to be aiming for the driver and trying to ignore the vehicle in front of them.

Gregory 55:00

Ben 55:00
I think I’m annoyed at this point.

Gregory 55:02
So you are trying to kill.

Ben 55:04
Yeah, motorcycle Dude, I’m good with that.

Gregory 55:08
Cool. You’re only at a minus two to ignore their armor. You rolled an 18 they rolled a 12. So you’re you’re effectively at a 16 versus their 12, which means that you hit twice and ignore the armor of their motorcycle.

Ben 55:27
And if they have any forcefield on their body, that’s probably ignored too.

Gregory 55:32
Okay, do you punch armor at all with that?

Ben 55:35
No. So any body… any armor on their body still applies.

Gregory 55:40
All right, so we’ll say you’re hitting this one. So you hit them twice for 14 each. They have eight armor on just as part of their like motorcycle gear as an armor vest. So they end up taking a total of 16 damage. Is that right? 14 minus eight… no, 14 minus six so they end up taking 12 damage.

Ben 56:06

Gregory 56:09
So they’re they’re blasted by this laser a few times. And there that thing burns a lot so they’re clearly you can see them lean a little bit into the portal enough to see that they’re they’re cradling the burns on their chest. But they don’t seem to be to be down yet.

Ben 56:31
Yeah, I was hoping for more than two hits.

Gregory 56:33
Comet, you’re kind of getting attacked from all sides at the moment.

Zoë 56:39
I sure am. And I would like to get out of that general area and head to a place where I’m not getting attacked from all sides. Vake and/or Lucy, would you have told Jolissa that they’re monitoring our radio conversations while you mentally communicated with her?

Lucy 57:04
Oh, yes. Jolissa definitely notes that. Shall we communicate?

Zoë 57:09
Um, what?

Lucy 57:13
Are we, are we in character or out of character?

Zoë 57:15
Oh, I was I was asking you that out of character. But um, if I wouldn’t think to ask Jolissa if we’re being listened to.

Lucy 57:24
Okay, Jolissa’s got you.

Zoë 57:25
But if Jolissa would probably say that, I might, I might ask, “Jolissa, status update? Where, Where is everybody?”

Lucy 57:37
Comet, I am happy to accommodate your request. Let’s see. Currently Vake is not very adequately dealing with your parental unit, who does not seem to understand that she is a parental unit.

Zoë 57:57
Oh, jeez.

Lucy 57:58
Addition… Yes. Should you have any documentation to provide I would be happy to somehow provide that information. Additionally, Jones is continuing to attack your foes and Karloff continues to be dead. In additional information, you should know that this channel is being monitored. Your parental unit seems capable of hearing over radio signals.

Zoë 58:30
Oh. Oh, um, Hey, Hey, Hey, Mom. It’s me. We haven’t seen each other in a while. Jolissa, by the way I’m not I’m not talking to you. I just want to make that clear. Just in, case…

Lucy 58:48
Oh, thank you. I was becoming very confused.

Zoë 58:51
Yeah, I don’t think you’re my mom. Even though I’m sure you’d be a great parent. Hey, Mom…

Gregory 58:55
Vake, you see, Billy Jean, like, key a little a little radio control on her chest and say, “Hey, kid, look, first of all, if you’re trying for a family reunion, this is real bad way to start. Uh, also, you’re confused, all right? I’ve babysat some kids in my time. But you’re not my child.”

Zoë 59:24
“Okay, well, we can settle that later. All right.” I’m going to try to find let’s see, who can I get to with…

Lucy 59:35
Vake, who does not hear that part of the conversation is also very confused. “You’re right. I really don’t think you’re my mom. So… yeah.”

Gregory 59:44
She, she looks down at you… I don’t I don’t even… how does, how do I make this reaction work even in genre?

Lucy 59:56
You’re welcome.

Zoë 59:58
Um, I’m gonna go go somewhere, let’s say well I was talking to my mom I was driving. I’m probably gonna head back over to the first building. And let’s see, they keep moving the portal so I’ll just stand out stand I’ll stand in my car I’ll be in my car near my friend and is there an attack readying mechanic in this game? Can I maybe prepare?

Gregory 1:00:33
Yeah, you can prep an attack but it’ll just it’ll it will drop your initiative once you take it.

Zoë 1:00:40
That’s fine. If If a biker who isn’t my mom comes in a direction accessible by my machine gun. I would like… or… Yeah, I would like to shoot them with it whether it’s through a portal or in person,

Gregory 1:00:58

Zoë 1:01:01
And that is that is all just going to hang out and and assess the damage to my body.

Gregory 1:01:10
Billie Jean says, “Man, I knew you Ego Drivers were ignorant stooges but I didn’t guess quite how stupid you really were.”

Lucy 1:01:18
That’s mean.

Gregory 1:01:19
And she…

Zoë 1:01:21
I regret doing what I just did. I don’t that’s not a good place to be but that’s fine.

Ben 1:01:26
Yeah, I’m not really sure it’s the best place either for you.

Zoë 1:01:28
That’s I didn’t I wasn’t thinking about the fact that they were up on the roof and she had the coin toss. Whatever I’m here now.

Gregory 1:01:35
She leans over and I think that that probably both Comet and Jones can kind of see this tiny figure up there hanging at the antenna mast.

Zoë 1:01:48
I wave with my head popped out of the window like, “Hey, don’t don’t kill me! You’re definitely my mom.”

Gregory 1:01:55
And she gestures with her hand again to move the portals and then she kind of looks Jones’s vehicle over and flourishes another coin and just chucks it overhand at Jones’s vehicle and you can see, Vake, that there’s like a little golden flash every time she tosses a coin.

Lucy 1:02:22
Jolissa will come on the radio for Jones to hear. “Incoming coin for you, Jones.”

Ben 1:02:31
Oh dear.

Lucy 1:02:34
That is correct.

Ben 1:02:36
Yeah, I’ll spend two energy on that too. I don’t want to get hit with this thing.

Gregory 1:02:41
All right. So you you hear the warning and you batten down the hatches and you hear just this incredibly loud ping come from from your armor as as a slug of silver hits with a… as if projected by some sort of rail cannon but doesn’t manage to penetrate through.

Ben 1:03:05
Yeah, I still think I’m gonna curse because that probably sounds really loud inside a giant metal can.

Gregory 1:03:10
She pushes herself off from the antenna and lands on those skates and skates up to the to the edge of the building where there have been clearly ramps set up just with sheet metal leaning against the the edges of the roof and skates up over a ramp and jumps into the air and looks down at Comet as she arcs in the air over that street and then lands on the roof opposite and does that cool turning stop that you can do on skates and looks at Vake and kind of shrugs and shouts, “Just looks like some kid to me.”

Gregory 1:04:01
Next time on Tabletop Garden: Ego Driver.

Jim 1:04:04
You gonna help, or finish me off? Just do whatever you’re gonna do.

Lucy 1:04:10
I do not find you reprehensible, Comet.

Ben 1:04:14
Jones is probably one of those folks who who believes in the terror that is nuclear weaponry.

Zoë 1:04:22
No, just… just fuck off.

Gregory 1:04:26
That’s funny because I was just gonna say: if you if you run into Mayor Leopold again, tell him the same thing.

Gregory 1:04:32
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 and to support the work I do visit

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