Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Chapter II: I Came Here to Kick Ass and Use Punctuation Correctly

You: What do you want to do? The sirens are getting closer.
Stranger: Sex
Stranger: What you wanna do?
You: There could not be a worse time for that. You’re armed and surrounded by shitted up police robots, and the only other person around is a guy in a suit who it looks like you've beaten up.
Stranger: Well there is to be a girl for sex
You: There are definitely none of those around here.
Stranger: Your m or f
You: The guy in the suit is male. Also old, and kind of unconscious.
Stranger: Well I didn't ask about the old guy 
You: He's the only one here.
Stranger: I asked about the person I'm talking too 
You: Well, aside from you, smashed up robots and the unconscious old guy, there isn't really anyone to talk to.
Stranger: Well bye then
Stranger: Because im not really gay
You: That, believe me, is the least of your obstacles.
Your chat has been disconnected. Click here to chat again.

The Story So Far: Ellis Cobalt was a war veteran, genius, super strong robot and the best goddamn PI in Utopolis. Unfortunately, due to a chain of unknown events, they have had their memory wiped and have come to standing in an expensive apartment with a dead guy, a gun, and nothing to speak to their innocence except a note that says “YOU DIDN’T KILL HIM”.
To make things worse, for some reason every few minutes Ellis’ memory completely resets itself, and their personality is forced to reconstruct itself from the ground up, with… unpredictable results.
So far Ellis has made a full and detailed exploration of the apartment’s 3D food printer, tried and failed to masturbate, and robbed the dead guy’s credit card (ignoring the important and essential clue in the dead guy’s hand).
Then the police arrived, and Ellis went on to gun down a small army of police bots before discovering our hero's gun couldn’t harm humans. So they knocked the human detective out.
Of course, right now Ellis Cobalt doesn’t remember any of this…

You're now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
You: You have no memory of how you got here, what you’re doing, or even who you are. All you know are your surroundings. Your surroundings are pretty alarming. You are standing in front of a pile of woodchip that used to be a pair of double doors, and around you are scattered the remains of a small army of police robots. In amongst the massacred machinery is an older gentleman in a suit, who’s groaning and trying to move. Behind you is the absolute height of deluxe penthouse apartments. In one hand you are holding a smoking pistol with “TURING” written along the side. In the other you are holding a fistful of kitchen knives, for some reason. Oh, and you can hear approaching sirens. Good luck! What do you want to do? 
Stranger: Hmmm
You: The sirens are getting louder. You want to have a look around? Check your pockets? Or something else?
Stranger: Survey the area?
You: You’re standing in a vast, expensive looking apartment, all white furnishings and floor to ceiling windows with one way glass. To your west a French door leads out to a balcony with a crystal clear outdoor pool, the rush hour traffic hovering in an aerial queue above and below it. To the east is a large table with an intricate looking architectural model on top of it. To the south, in front of you, is a busted door and a pile of dead police robots, as well as an injured guy in a suit. And to the north, behind you, is a dead body. Looking around you can also see, a kitchenette, several large bookshelves, and open doors to the bedroom and bathroom.
Stranger: Hmmm, out to balcony 
Stranger: What floor?
You: You step out onto a balcony long enough to house a crystal clear Olympic swimming pool. The French doors close behind you, and from the outside appear to be a wall of mirrors. An endless stream of traffic is flying overhead. Beyond the edge of the balcony only a few distant sky needles rival your own building in height. The real shock comes when you look into the pool however. The glass bottomed pool reveals an impossibly sheer drop, and far, far below you can see the distant pin pricks of buildings that might once have been considered skyscrapers themselves, gathering around the base of the tower you are standing in. 
You: You don’t have much time to enjoy this view however, as a pair of large police cars, with what look like cannons poking out of the side, are flying down towards you, a squadron of police bots hanging from beneath the chassis of each one.
Stranger: What floor am I on
You: The top floor. I couldn't tell you the number, but it's in triple if not quadruple digits.
Stranger: Hmmm, ok backtrack inside, turn stove burners on high, open oven, turned on, but with pilot light out, scurry into hallway, to laundry chute
Stranger: Jump in, slide down carefully several floors, changing clothes out of the dirty oned

I like a player with initiative, but our hero unfortunately hadn’t scoped out their surroundings quite enough…

You: Great plan, but the small but expensive looking kitchenette doesn't have a stove. Only a 3D food printer
Stranger: Interesting then stop up toilets sinks, light cigarette to sprinkler system
Stranger: Or some other flames
Stranger: Setting off the alarms to be a distraction
You: It works! There's now water showering down everywhere around you. The large building model on the table seems to flicker and vanish momentarily. Looks like it's a hologram and the water's interfering.

What? The large architectural model I keep mentioning is a hologram? How mysterious and probably relevant…

Stranger: Same plan snaking down
You: You find a laundry basket, but no chute.

Never mind.

You: The guy in the suit has got to his knees by the door. "Ellis!" he croaks. "What the Christ are you doing?"
Stranger: Fine, maintenence shafts then
You: A thorough survey of the flat shows two ways out- the front door, and the balcony, where even now the police cars are starting to land.
Stranger: Interrogate man
You: What do you want to ask?
Stranger: What in the fuck happened?
Stranger: And why are the authorities en route
You: You're asking me that? We got a call saying shots fired, came down and you started shooting up the joint soon as we came through the door!”
You: He stands up. "Where's Clagg, Ellis? Where's Clagg Masterdon?"
Stranger: Perfect. How the fuck should iknow
Stranger: Reaches into pocket. Looks for id
You: "Because you're his goddamn bodyguard!"
You: Your pockets contain a digital camera, an ID badge that reads NAME: Ellis Cobalt PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR’S LICENSE: 161228020382 And a notepad with two lines of text written onto the first page. First it says TAKE LOTS OF NOTES. Secondly it says YOU DIDN’T KILL HIM. 
You: There's also another ID for a guy called "Clagg Masterdon"- the photo resembles the dead body by the sofa. And a credit card in the same name. It says $6 trillion on the readout.
Stranger: Hmmm......takes note near light source, looks for pen/pencil indentations, in case there was another note
You: Clever. It looks like a brand new notebook. Paper's barely even creased.

I’m getting excited now. We’ve got a player who’s thoughtful enough to look for clues, who’s just put their hand in their pockets and pulled out all the clues they needs to get started, and they’re talking sensibly to the one character in all this who might listen and help. I’m actually worried they might resolve the whole plot before…

Your chat has been disconnected. Click here to chat again.

Never mind.

You're now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
You: You have no memory of how you got here, what you’re doing, or even who you are. All you know are your surroundings. Your surroundings are pretty alarming. You are standing in front of a pile of woodchip that used to be a pair of double doors, and around you are scattered the remains of a small army of police robots. A guy in a suit is looking at you expectantly. In your left hand is a gun with TURING written along the barrel, and an ID that reads NAME: Ellis Cobalt PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR’S LICENSE: 161228020382. In your other hand is a notepad with two lines of text written onto the first page. First it says TAKE LOTS OF NOTES. Secondly it says YOU DIDN’T KILL HIM, and an ID for a fat old guy by the name of Clagg Masterdon. What are you going to do?

Come on buddy. I know you’re disorientated but you’ve got all the clues you need right there. Just take a moment to think it through…

Stranger: shoot the nearest guy
You: You point your gun at the guy in the suit. It clicks uselessly. "My feelings are hurt," he says. "But seriously, you know Turing guns can't hurt humans, right?"
Stranger: btw, whose clagg masterdon
You: "Clagg Masterdon is the guy you're supposed to be the bodyguard for," the guy in the suit says. "What the hell is wrong with you?"
Stranger: well, some bodyguards are perfectly down to earth, while others got some screws loose

It seems we’ve got ourselves a badass.

You: "I think I know what category you're in," the guy says. "How about I come in and we talk it over, and we don't bring down the army of police bots?"
Stranger: sorry dude, police bots just dont cut out for me. im in for flesh and blood. not cling amd clang
You: "I see," the guy says. "Look Ellis, I was hoping this could end peacefully. But if you want trouble..." he reaches for the inside of his jacket. "I bought some."
Stranger: yeah? u dont have to. bc im a real badass on my own
You: The guy in the suit pulls a gun. You see the word Turing written along the barrel. "Okay, you get one chance. Drop everything and kneel on the ground, and we'll talk this over like civilised people."
Stranger: civilizations has ended long ago. the irony to kneel when you weaklings have already bow down to these machines. I am not foing to be on th same level as you are

A philosophical badass. A philosophical badass who hates machines? Nice. Sure would be a shame if something… ironic happened to them…

You: The guy sighs and pulls the trigger. You feel a hard punch to the chest, and look down to see a neat round bullet hole. There are wires and sparks coming out of it.
You: "You're one to talk about machines, Ellis," the guy says. "That was a warning shot. Next time I shoot something important."
Stranger: told you im not going to go down like you
You: He shoots again, another hole opens in your chest. More sparks fly.
Stranger: the only importance within me is my core, it is corrupted enough, these bulletholes mean nothing

A dark philosophical badass.

Stranger: so is it my turn now?
You: What are you going to do?
Stranger: I stood up and disarm him. choking him next
You: You take him down easily, lifting him up like a ragdoll.

Sadly, this player’s disappointed by the arsenal I’ve put at their disposal.

Stranger: or maybe theres some high tech laser tht might fry him up
Stranger: or missiles. you never go wrong with them

By the way? Remember those police cars parking on the balcony?

You: There's a shattering sound, and suddenly a dozen police robots have ridden in behind you, like tiny tanks on unicycles.
Stranger: now this might go several ways. a roborevolution, or getting chased by other robots
You: "DROP THE DETECTIVE AND YOUR WEAPONS," the closest robot says. As a clue.

The player starts thinking through their situation and formulates a plan. A brilliant plan that absolutely will not work in any way whatsoever.

Stranger: since, as a robot, im already able to take actions on my accordance, the programmers think im virally infected. and theres a high chance of contaminating other robots since my wires are exposed thru the bulletholes
You: Is your plan to rub your exposed wires on the robots to infect them with a computer virus?
Stranger: not rub, but theres gotta be an open port somewhere

Why does it always seem to come back to that?

Stranger: the robots need an internal power source
You: "WE WILL OPEN FIRE ON THREE," the lead robot says. "ONE."
Stranger: kill tht guy. if they open fire he\'ll be dead anyway
You: How are you going to kill him?
You: "TWO."
Stranger: before count of three, breakout
Stranger: choking, laserbeams, electrocution, missiles, perhaps as a shield from those bullets
Stranger: the possibilities are endless
You: As you begin choking the man the bullets come flying. Within seconds you're getting swiss cheesed, having discovered you have a really disappointing lack of lasers. Your pistol takes down a couple of the robots, but you are forced out the front door onto the landing outside.
You: You step out onto a lavishly furnished corridor, with the sort of carpets that are expensive but not so expensive you wouldn’t mind the postman walking all over them. The corridor curves away in both directions.
You: There is a lot of gunfire.
Stranger: which way the corridor leads to?
You: You don't know. They lead away on a curve in both directions.
Stranger: well, just run either way.
You: You run down the hallway, passing occasionally opening, and rapidly closing front door. This is clearly a nice place, and it’s large, you’re running for a while. Eventually you reach a pair of sliding doors underneath an arch of wrought ironwork and gold leaf, just in case anyone mistakes this for the door to an elevator poor people might use. There’s a big green button to summon the elevator.

If a games master ever describes a button as “big” and “a bright colour that might appeal to a small child” they’re probably trying to guide you to something.

Stranger: but since im a robot, shouldnt the floorplan be mapped into my memory?
You: Your memory is wiped. At this point, I'd draw your attention to the notepad you've been holding.
You: How you held it at the same time as a gun and a detective (do you still have him btw?) is beyond me. But you're a robot.
Stranger: hes dead. so of no use anymore
Stranger: thrown him as distraction while running away

That was Detective Jack Haggart, a grizzled, no bullshit detective who had a long, sometimes friendly, sometimes adversarial but always respectful history with Ellis Cobalt. He was a stickler for the rules, but only because he cared about getting things right. He deserved better than this.

You: Okidoke. The robo-unicycles are in hot pursuit. What are you going to do now?
Stranger: okay, so the notebook. what of it
You: It's got two things written in it: "TAKE LOTS OF NOTES" and "YOU DIDN'T KILL HIM".
You: You also have a pen.

That pen is the single means Ellis Cobalt has of retaining information on a long term basis. It is less easy than I would like to persuade them of the importance of this.

Stranger: just keep running and hiding
You: You're at a dead end. The only way out is this extremely overpriced looking elevator door with the green button.
Stranger: there were rooms. so I couldve sneak back into one of them. hide, have the robots chase the elevator insyead
You: As soon as they see you coming people get inside and lock the doors. And these are the sorts of people who have door locks that can stop a rocket launcher.
Stranger: damn, then blast off a few robots and take the elevator to wherever
You: You press the button, and a "going up" arrow appears over the door.
Stranger: okay
You: The robots come screaming around the corner, guns blazing. How are you going to hold them off?
Stranger: just plain shooting a machine gun for now. I robbed it off someone while running just now.

Okay, that’s it. You kill Haggart and summon machine guns from nowhere, you’re going to get a boss fight.

You: You mow down the first lot easily. Then another comes trundling around the corner. It's bigger, bulkier, and the gun is... bigger. Much bigger.
Stranger: when will the elevator open up? if I can make it just in time would be very great
You: Looking at the sign it's about 60% of the way there now.
You: There's a high pitch rising sound coming from the big robot.
Stranger: then just keep on shooting, and throwing vases or ttash cans or whatever
Stranger: and gamma rays, robots gotta hv gamma rays
You: A deep red orange light begins to glow in the depths of the trashcan sized gun barrel of the robot.
You: 80%
Stranger: ill be able to make it just in time. so rn juat continue shooting
You: You punch a few holes in the robot. It doesn't seem to mind.
You: The light in the gun is getting brighter. 90%
Stranger: know where its shooting at
You: It's pointing right down the landing at you, at chest height.
Stranger: so, when it fires, ill be able to avoid
You: Maybe. The light is so bright it's impossible to look at now, the noise impossibly loud. What are you going to do?
You: 95%
Stranger: dude im a robot, I can withstand bright and loud.
You: You may not be able to withstand what comes next. 98%
Stranger: time to play dirty then. trip the unicycle robot off
You: You slide along the ground, kicking at the robot's wheel. It wobbles, then begins to fall over towards where you're now lying on the floor. With a ping the lift doors open.
Stranger: crawl into it quickly,before he tumbles down
You: As the robot tumbles over its gun goes off, creating a massive hole in the floor that it tumbles into. Looking down after it, you see it's falling a long, long way, past many, many floors. You scramble over to the lift before more backup comes.
Stranger: okay. thts a happy ending

Jack Haggart had three kids. Yeah, I just made them up, but that won't make Jimmy, Daisy and Byzantium any less sad when they hear he's dead.

It’s time to wrap up, but I feel like when Ellis next comes to- on the floor of an elevator, riddled with bullet holes, they’ll be owed a bit of an explanation about how they ended up there. So I give the player a nudge.

You: Not quite yet... you feel your memory beginning to fade. Want to write anything in the notebook?
Stranger: nothing, no notes yet as far, no any important memory since I woke up. maybe ill write iv killed who and whi
You: What will you write? Time is short, be quick!
Stranger: I killed the detective guy

You bastard.

So now Ellis Cobalt is on the run, with even less idea than before about why this is the case or what they can do to save themselves. Where’s the lift going? What will Ellis find there? And will they try to eat it, kill it, or rub their wires on it?
Find out next time, on Silicon Bullets!


  1. This seems like a race-to-the-bottom situation that occurs when players have little investment in their characters.

    I hope a champion comes along to get Ellis out of this!

  2. This is brilliant, and also surely cannot end well