code::2050 Playtest Alpha AAR: Ivan’s Bane

So, Friday night was the first official test of code::2050 as a 5e extension. From my perspective, the key points in this session were our first test of the hacking and firearms rules.

What Happens in Prague…

Just to lay out the scenario with a quick sketch: Our team, consisting of a Drow rogue hacker, a Tabaxi ranger, a Human bard, a Human paladin, and a Human monk, were engaged to investigate a nightclub in Prague to determine why it is so much more popular than a very similar, nearby club. We went to the club, did a hack, did a combat, and found something interesting.

The First Hack

The five steps we laid out in the Q&D Guide to Hacking are, so far, rock solid. They accomplished exactly what they were meant to accomplish: they gave both the hacker and the DM a common concept and starting point. After less than a one minute rundown of the steps, the hacker was able to get where she needed to get and to find what she needed to find on the club’s network. This was especially satisfying, because the hacker, who is a teenager and who has had computers, phones, and tablets available to her for her entire life, was completely at a loss as to how to proceed. This is the essential difference between driving a car and repairing a car.

The DM did a good job of mediating the things the hacker was attempting, as far as difficulty and time, but in my opinion he needed to be a little more ‘assistive’, since this was the first time anyone had done this, him included. The hacker needed a little more guidance and hand-holding as far as what really deserved her attention. And, since she was physically separated from the rest of us, she was kind of on her own.

Later, of course, we realized that there was wifi throughout the club, which would have saved the hassle and risk of sneaking into the office and having the hacker physically separated. We won’t make that mistake again.

Bringing a Knife to a Gun Fight

We later busted in on some guards and got into a fight, and the fight included guns. Our rogue and two of the guards got shots off. I took some damage from a burst of submachinegun fire, and one of the guards was killed by a shot from the rogue. The remainder of the combat was using hand weapons, which proved to be quite devastating up close, where the firearms were at a disadvantage due to the zero range.

The damage from the guns was significant, but nothing out of line for the scale of the combat. Guns aren’t nice, but they aren’t game-changers, either. So far, so good there.

World-Building Lessons

I’m already seeing where our efforts need to be directed toward world building for the code::2050 core rules. While the concept of a modern city and a nightclub were familiar enough, we were lacking important information that the DM kind of filled us in with on the fly.

Among these things:

  • How prevalent is magic, and what will people do if they see you use it?
  • How do people react to adventurers, since with all our crap we clearly were such?
  • What are the rules and attitudes regarding the weapons we’re carrying?

Frankly, I was more than a little surprised that we were allowed into a nightclub with all our crap. I would have expected it to at least get checked at the door. But we were ushered in, no problem. Whatevs, not my club.

What About Next Time?

We’ll be playing again in a couple weeks. I can already see where we can improve things by leveraging technology that it hadn’t occurred to us to leverage before now. Part of that can be attributed to the running start, where ‘in game’ the team has been working together for some weeks, with this being our first actual session. Part of it, in my case at least, is I’m thinking as if the setting is medieval, rather than slightly postmodern.

I’ve got some ideas on how to make that work for us. We’ll see how it goes next time.