Spies Glazing Over

Alright, now we can actually start playing Spark. If you missed last week’s post, the basic gist is that a businessman, a runaway shinobi, and a thief have all been attacked by ninjas and it results in the daughter of the businessman getting kidnapped. So, what shall happen now? Will they go rescue her? Will they try to rebuild? Well, let’s find out.

Our first step for this part of the session is to advance agendas from each of the different factions. However, you can also let their plans fail if you so choose. Normally, me and a couple of players would roll our Spark die to determine what order we pick the factions, but in this case, I’ll make this as simple as possible.

  • The Home Office failed their agenda in leaking the government documents, for as soon as they got their hands on them, MI6 broke in and torched the files. (Blocked)
  • This, in turn, caused the Home Office and MI6 to become mortal enemies, now using the secrets they have of each other as weapons. (Tie)
  • And in the middle of all this, the Taka Clan succeed in raiding a village and kidnapped a select few people who know something about their secret. Now they plan on executing them and anyone who would be foolish enough to get them back. (Claim)
  • Sherry Corps succeeded in creating their neighbourhood… unfortunately, it got destroyed by the Taka Clan. (Unblocked, but due to circumstances, it be blocked)

And with that, now we can begin our game proper. Okay, first off, I actually like the step-by-step process of the game when you first make it… but the problem is that it can take a while to finally get going. Thankfully there are premade settings, which are really good. An example would be a police drama taking place in Montreal, Quebec.

Though, there’s a silver lining to the set up. The trade off is that now I’m fully eager to play the game. So, we begin with determining how the scene is set up. This… This is gonna be a little difficult. It’s at this moment that I realize that some games might be harder to manipulate into a Solo RPG… But this is a voyage. And I’m gonna try my best!

So, how this would normally work is that me and a few others roll Spark dice to see who would get control over a certain part of the scene. There’s the Platform, which is where the scene is taking place, Tilt, which is what’s happening in the scene, and Question, what needs to be answered in the scene. Basic stuff. Those who don’t get first pickings control NPCs, though for this, we don’t need to worry about that.

What we need to worry about now is finding out who will be the second and third persons to determine the scene. Well, that will be our good ol friends the Rune and Covetous Poet. The Runes will take control of Tsubasamaru’s Spark die while Covetous Poet will take control of Rat’s. We roll out our Spark Die and determine the scene from there. So, let’s begin.

[SPARK ROLL INITIATIVE!!!]

  • First pickings: Tsubasamaru/Runes (5.4)
  • Second pickings: Rat/Poet (5.3)
  • Third pickings: George/Me (3)

Alright. [Randomly determining what Runes will pick: 3, Tilt]

[Q: Will Poet pick Platform? A: 5, yes]

Alright, that makes my job easier. So, let’s determine this in order:

  • Platform: 778, Smoking Room
  • Tilt: (Stone) Berkana, The trio are recuperating from last night’s raid and this is their break in-between fixing the neighbourhood.
  • Question: What will our heroes do with the Taka Clan?

And with that… we begin.

It had been one day since the attack on George’s hometown. The trio had been busy repairing the town and this was their small break. George lit up a cigar and smoked it.

“Damn those assholes…” George pounded his fist into the table. “Are we seriously gonna let them just get away with this?”

[Odds: Even. A: 43]

“Yes.” Tsubasamaru said. “If we choose to pursue them, they’ll simply kill us.”

[Q: Does George know about Tsubasamaru’s connection with the Taka Clan? Odds: Even. A: 34]

“OH BULLCRAP!” George punches the wall next to Tsubasamaru. “You’re just too scared because you betrayed them! If we don’t go and rescue these people, they will die! Do you want blood on your hands?”

At which point, since both George and Tsubasamaru are disagreeing with each other, we are at conflict. Conflict happens when one person makes a declaration (example: let’s follow the Taka Clan) and another disagrees (example: No, let’s not), and it usually determines an outcome. How this works is a bit simple. First, each character chooses a side. They can choose to support a side and boost someone’s die by one step, they can create an entirely new outcome all together, or abstain all together.

In this case, the GM will choose to abstain and Rat will support George, since he cares about what happens to Rose. Now, we roll it out. George will use his Heart (he’s emotional about this situation) and Tsubasamaru will represent mind. George’s Heart Die is stepped up to D12.

[Roll: 7 (+1 from Persuasion)(George) vs. 1 (Tsubasamaru)]

George wins the conflict and pays Influence. Right, I should express what Influence is. Influence is the Fate Points of this game, but, each time you win a conflict, you pay an Influence. Each character has about four influences for answering four questions regarding their history. Don’t worry, I’ll give you guys count after each scene.

“… Fine, I’ve been meaning to settle the score with them anyways. We’ll leave now. Tell Chiron to keep watch.” Tsubasamaru said.

“Very well. Let’s go, Rat.” George said. The three leave.

And our scene ends and we do closing. First step is claiming influence. All those beliefs we had will factor into how we gain our Influence. For example: Love is better than anger is refuted. George clearly was thinking through anger rather than love. Despite this, he gains an influence. Now to have a list of beliefs confirmed/refuted.

  • Those who abandon their friends are worse than scum is confirmed. (+1 Influence to the GM)
  • Love is better than anger is refuted. (+1 Influence to George)
  • I help the people who help me is confirmed. (+1 Influence to Rat)

Influence Count:

  • George: 4
  • Tsubasamaru: 4
  • Rat: 5
  • GM: Hm… I’m gonna play it safe and say 5.

Alright, new scene.

  • First Pickings: Me (6)
  • Second Pickings: Poet (4)
  • Third Pickings: Runes (3)

I’m gonna take Platform and say that this is them on their way to the Taka Clan hideout.

[Q: Will Poet take Tilt? Odds: Even. A: 88. Interrupt as soon as the scene begins]

Alright.

  • Platform: The path to the Taka Clan hideout.
  • Tilt: (Gold) Wunjo reversed. Our heroes have become demoralized from the lack of any lead on the clan.
  • Question: [Roll: 7] Will they be able to survive an onslaught of their crushed morale?

And then since there’s been a scene interrupt.

  • Action: 634, Negate
  • Thing: 932, Trial
  • Plot Device: 697, Romantic Equal – A character becomes smitten with another character who has talents and abilities commensurate with their own.

Okay… This is weird. Alright, let’s make it work!

“We’re lost, aren’t we?” George asked.

“For the five hundredth time, no! I know how the Taka Clan hide their tracks.” Tsubasamaru said.

[Q: Are they in conflict? Odds: Even. A: 73]

No, they’re not. We are, however, at conflict, as the Taka Clan doesn’t want to be seen. This can also show you how the GM does his thing. So obviously George and Rat want the Clan to be found, so they’ll support Tsubasamaru, bumping his mind to a D10. I’ll be using my setting’s Mind die for this, since the Taka Clan would want to hide their tracks. Roll it out.

[Roll: 4 (Tsubasamaru) vs. 7 (+2 from the GM’s spark) (Taka Clan)]

[Q: Will Tsubasamaru try to tie? Odds: Even. A: 62]

No, I’ll concede. Tsubasamaru is unable to find the Taka Clan hideout, but gains an Influence as per the cost of loss.

“DAMN IT!” Tsubasamaru shouted. Rat begins to sneak around.

Rat’s gonna try and find at least a clue for where the hideout would be. Conflict, this time Rat’s Mind, bumped up to 12.

[Roll: 5 (+1 from Scrounging Skill) vs. 8 (+2 from Spark Die) (Taka Clan)]

[Q: Will Rat try to tie? Odds: Very Unlikely. A: 100]

An interrupt as Rat concedes and gets an influence.

[Q: Is it the interrupt scene from the start of the scene? Odds: Very Likely. A: 40]

Suddenly, out of the blue, someone comes to them and throws a shuriken at a random point on the ground.

“There. That’s where they are hiding.” A woman said. They looked to her.

“And… you are?” Tsubasamaru asked.

“Like you. A runaway. After their raid yesterday, I can’t help but feel that I was fighting for the wrong side. Please, let me come with you.” She said.

[Q: Do they accept her? Odds: Very Likely. A: 88]

“How can we know you’re telling the truth?” Tsubasamaru asked.

“Because I know how you feel! I felt guilty after we kidnapped those people and I don’t want them to die!” She said. Suddenly…

  • Random Event: A New NPC (I’m gonna assume it’s her)
  • Action: 341, Enact
  • Thing: 696, Quarrel
  • Plot Device: 976, You Can’t Outrun Your Past – A character who has committed past transgressions finds themselves in present trouble because of what they’ve done.

Tsubasamaru began to feel some pain. He remembered his time in the past, where he was hired by his own clan to murder a family for finding out the secret behind their flying techniques. He didn’t go through with it, though he wasn’t lucky enough to stop the others from doing what he was asked to do.

He shook his head. “… You’re right… This is exactly how I felt when I left the clan. You regretted kidnapping those people, correct?” He asked.

[Odds: Extremely Likely. A: 26]

“Yes. I do. Very much.” She said.

“Then you’re more than welcome to join us.” Tsubasamaru said.

[Q: Will George intervene? Odds: Even A: 26]

“Now hold on, you might be right about her being a spy.” George said.

“No. I can see in her eyes that she isn’t.” Tsubasamaru said.

“Really?” George asked.

Now they are in conflict. Rat’s gonna side with Tsubasamaru on the logic that people deserve a better life. GM, however, is gonna create something new. If he succeeds, they get ambushed by ninjas. GM will use Spark, while George and Tsubasamaru will use Mind.

[Roll: 8 (Tsubasamaru) vs. 8 (George) vs. 6 (+2 from Spark)(GM)]

Alright, so the conflict escalates. The GM will support Tsubasamaru, giving him a D10.

[Roll: 10 (Tsubasamaru) vs. 4 (George)]

And so Tsubasamaru wins the escalated conflict and pays 2 Influence for winning.

“Yeah, I’m positive.” Tsubasamaru said.

“… Very well. Only because you’re being honest with me here. Let’s go.” George said. George dusted off the ground and popped the cover off. There is a stairway leading down to the hideout.

“Shall we?” Tsubasamaru said.

“Lead the way.” George said. The four went down.

Alright, scene end.

  • The truth will set you free confirmed. (+1 for George)
  • Knowing too much shouldn’t justify someone’s death confirmed. (+1 for Tsubasamaru)
  • We are worthy of a better life confirmed. (+1 for Rat)

Influence Count:

  • George: 5
  • Tsubasamaru: 4
  • Rat: 7
  • GM: 4

New Scene time.

  • First Pickings: Me (3)
  • Second Pickings: Runes (1.6)
  • Third Pickings: Poet (1.1)

Alright, once again picking platform and saying they are just outside where the prisoners are being held. Runes will be doing Tilt.

  • Tilt: (Spirit) Wunjo. Our heroes are over thrilled at how easy the raid seemed to be.
  • Question: Will our heroes realize this is all a trap?

“There we go!” Tsubasamaru said upon finding the prison doors. He looks to Rat who gets his lock picking gear ready. However, Rat feels like something isn’t right.

“Wait… Doesn’t this feel a little too easy?” Rat asked.

[Q: Anyone objecting? Odds: Even. A: 13]

“Whatever! Just open the door!” George barked. Rat glared.

We are in conflict. Rat feels like there will be an ambush. Tsubasamaru supports George for Rat to ignore any potential ambush and just open the door and GM supports Rat. Rat will use his Mind (Logic) and George will use his heart. Roll it out.

[Roll: 4 (+3 from Sizing Up Dire Situations) vs. 10 (+2 from Intimidation)]

George wins and pays an Influence.

To Rat’s dismay, both George and Tsubasamaru convinced him to open the door. It was easy… too easy.

[Q: Is the girl they got faking her story? Odds: Very Unlikely. A: 3]

Just then, a kunai comes streaking for Rat.

Since this is an attempt to remove Rat from the scene/hurting him, this will result in a conflict. George and Tsubasamaru support Rat, who will use his dodging and Body Die, which has become a D20 for the sake of the roll. I will be using my world’s Body die as well. Well, I’d be using Spark since this is an NPC I’m controlling, but it’d make sense for her to use Body.

[Roll: 20 vs. 4-]

Okay, no contest, Rat not only dodges, but he reflects the Kunai right into her. He wins, pays influence.

[Q: Does she die? Odds: Even. A: 63]

Rat dodged, his kick knocked the kunai right into her arm. She screamed in pain as George covered her mouth.

“What the hell was that?!” George asked.

“She was gonna kill us…” Tsubasamaru sighed. Rat went over and began opening the door.

Alright, another conflict time. George and Tsubasamaru support Rat who will be doing Body. Now, I’m gonna be using Spark for this, since this is essentially luck if he opens the lock.

[Roll: 8 vs. 5 (+2 from Spark)]

Alright, so Rat wins and pays another influence.

Rat opens the door.

[Q: Is anyone in there? Odds: Even. A: 15]

The people who were kidnapped left their cell and clamoured to George.

“Thank you! Thank you!” One of them said. George noticed that Rose was with them. He ran over and gave her a hug.

“I’m glad you’re alive!” George said.

“I’m glad you are too!” Rose said.

“Now, let’s get out of here before more ninjas show up…” Tsubasamaru said, holding the kunoichi close to him.

[Q: Do more Ninjas show? Odds: Even. A: 58]

The two nod and leave the cell.

And end scene.

  • Everyone is a miserable little pile of secrets has been confirmed in the form of the Kunoichi (+1 for the GM)
  • Violence breeds violence is confirmed (+1 for Tsubasamaru)

Influence Count:

  • George: 4
  • Tsubasamaru: 5
  • Rat: 5
  • GM: 5

Now we roll up our Spark again.

  • First Pickings: Poet (5)
  • Second Pickings: Runes (4.4)
  • Third Pickings: Me (4.3)

[Q: Will Poet pick the Platform? Odds: Even. A: 44]

Yes, he will and will also throw off the first random event in the scene. Runes will pick between question and tilt. First half tilt, second half question.

[Roll: 1]

Alright.

  • Platform: Hidden Chamber (I’m assuming this is right after they left)
  • Tilt: (Ice) Ger reversed. I think that means they’re reaping what they sow.
  • Question:

Now, this is where I have to throw down all the marbles. Everyone has one belief either unconfirmed or unrefuted. These beliefs are:

  • The secrets of our world will destroy us.
  • Keeping secrets suck.
  • Multiversal Travel is a mistake.
  • All people, rich or poor, deserve respect.

I want to hit the most I can. This… this is gonna be the climax.

My question is:

How will the reunion between Tsubasamaru and Kark fare?

Now, random event.

  • Action: 845, Secure
  • Thing: 226, Dinner Party
  • Plot Device: 339, Foreign Bank Transfers – Someone gains a tremendous amount of wealth, success, or good fortune through strange and unaccounted for means.

Erm… What?

As the group head for the exit, they end up in a dining room. Dozens upon dozens of ninjas are there, all of different worlds. They turn their heads to face the group. The head of the party, Kark Taka, claps his hands.

“Ah! A pleasure to have you join us for our 1,000,000th member celebration!” Kark said.

“What… The… hell?” Tsubasamaru muttered.

“Tsubasamaru, this is a celebration. We knew you’d come here to save these villagers, so we set everything up.” Kark said.

“For what?” Tsubasamaru asked.

“A proposition! We want you to forget this silly tirade and join us again! We need someone as talented as you to face a new threat. See, we have heard stories of a war tensing up between two fostering countries. MI6 has spies littered throughout Russia and we have our ninjas littered throughout America. Together, our war will destroy whatever petty fight the two countries would have done. We want you to finish the fight.” Kark said.

“… What do I get in exchange for joining you guys?” Tsubasamaru asked.

“Why…” As he said that, Ninjas aimed their kunais towards the group. “Your lives!” Kark said.

“Heh…” Tsubasamaru broke out into laugher. It took a moment before he stopped. “You know what’s so damn funny? All this time, I’ve been wondering if this thing that led us here… multiversal travel… had been a blessing for us. But seeing that you’re screwing over with innocents proves to me one thing: it’s nothing but a bloody mistake!” And with that, Tsubasamaru goes out into an all out attack, flying towards Kark with his sword.

Well, here goes nothing. Tsubasamaru’s conflict is that he guns for Kark and takes him down. GM resolves that Tsubasamaru will get hurt or even killed in the process. George supports Tsubasamaru while Rat proposes that the two go into a stalemate while the others escape. Tsubasamaru will roll his Body at D20, Kark and Rat will roll Spark. Kark’s die will step up because his Ranged Attacks are his specialty.

[Roll: 15 (+6 from his Athletics + Acrobatics + Ninja Art of Flying) (Tsubasamaru) 10 (+2 from Spark) (Kark) 4 (Rat)]

All the Ninjas whip their shurikens at Tsubasmaru, but he was too fast to keep up. The shurikens wound up hitting each other. Tsubasamaru plunges his sword deep into Kark as he gazes in shock. He coughs out blood, then smiles.

“So… Why have you come to betray us…?” Kark asked.

“Because… I don’t want a foundation built on secrets and lies. Our lives shouldn’t be to expose and keep them. It should be to protect lives. That will be something I will do without you, sensei.” Kark said.

“… Heh… There’s a reason we protect those secrets, boy… Because… those very secrets will destroy us…” And with that, Kark dies of his wounds. Tsubasamaru pulls his katana from his corpse and turns around. Half the people are either shocked or happy. Tsubasamaru cleans his blade.

“There. The clan will no longer bother us.” Tsubasamaru said. He walked forward as the kunoichi runs up to him and hits him.

“YOU FOOL! You killed our leader! Now who will lead us?” She said. Tsubasamaru smiled and poked her forehead.

“You. And if you fail to be a leader, I’ll step in and replace you.” Tsubasamaru said. With that, he left with the kunoichi and a dining room full of corpses.

… Damn. Just… Damn. End scene.

  • The secrets of our world will destroy us is confirmed (+1 for GM)
  • Keeping secrets suck is confirmed. (+1 for George)
  • Multiversal Travel is a confirmed mistake. (+1 for Tsubasamaru)

And with that, everyone gets a +3 Influence. See, the idea is that, when all three beliefs are met, they refresh, and everyone gets an extra Influence. Because we hit three nails on the head, we got three influences for everyone.

  • George: 7
  • Tsubasamaru: 7
  • Rat: 8
  • GM: 8

And I think we can do one more scene before we finish up this game.

  • First Pickings: Me (3)
  • Second Pickings: Poet (2)
  • Third Pickings: Runes (1)

I’ll take Question again.

[Q: Will Poet take Platform? Odds: Even. A: 17]

And Runes will take Tilt.

  • Platform: (232) Dam/Reservoir (I’ll say it’s by the town)
  • Tilt: (Spirit) Nyd. Everyone is traumatized from the incident.
  • Question: Will Tsubasamaru be banished from town for his murder of Kark?

The town slowly was rebuilt. The trio headed to the Reservoir to oversee the final changes on the revamping.

“Well… That was a crazy day.” George said.

“You said it.” Rat said. Chiron approached the group.

“I’m glad you guys made it back okay.” Chiron said.

“Yeah, I’m glad too.” George said. George turned around and saw Tsubasamaru leaving the area. “Hey! Tsubasamaru! Where are you going?” George asked.

“I’m no longer needed here. Besides, I don’t think anyone would want to associate with a murderer like me.” Tsubasamaru said. “Especially if my actions cause violence to breed violence. Besides, war is fast approaching. There’ll be a power vacuum soon, and I will have to fix it.” Tsubasamaru began to leave, but Rat protested.

“No! Wait!” Rat said. Tsubasamaru turned around.

“Hm?” Tsubasamaru asked.

“The way you took that guy out… it was amazing! That should give you tons of respect.” Rat said.

“That isn’t something I am proud of though. I murdered someone and justified my own selfish whims. For that, I must leave and atone.” Tsubasamaru said. He walked off, but George spoke up.

They are in conflict. Rat will support George in getting Tsubasamaru to stay and the GM will decide another raid will happen if he wins. George will use his heart, Tsubasamaru will use his heart, GM will use spark.

[Roll: 9 (+1 from Persuasion) (George) vs. 3 (Tsubasamaru) vs. 3 (+2 from Spark Die) (GM)]

George wins and pays the price of victory.

“Wait. You saved us back there. If it weren’t for you, more people would have died. You may have blood on your hands, but at least you stopped them before you had even more blood to deal with. If you want to leave, then leave. But you make a good ally. A good defender.” George said. Tsubasamaru stops.

“… You think so?” Tsubasamaru asked.

“I know so.” George said. With a smile, Tsubasamaru walks back to George, Rat, and Chiron.

“Alright… I’ll stay.” He said.

The rest of the day goes on uninterrupted.

And that’s the game. We now close up this scene and do the final step.

  • Those who abandon their friends are worse than scum is confirmed. (+1 for GM)
  • Violence breeds violence is stated. (+1 for Tsubasamaru)
  • All people, rich or poor, deserve respect is confirmed. (+1 for Rat, refresh and +3 for everyone)
  • We are worthy of a better life is confirmed. (+1 for Rat)

Influence Total

  • George: 9
  • Tsubasamaru: 11
  • Rat: 13
  • GM: 12

And now we get to the last phase of the game: Reflecting. When a player has 12 or more Influence points, they can play 12 of those points to inspire a character and their belief. The benefit to this is that, once everyone has changed a belief, you and your friends can change the belief of the world. So, if we had three changes, one for each player, we could totally change “everyone is a miserable little pile of secrets” to something more like… “we are nothing without our secrets” or even a completely different belief based upon what had went on.

In this case, Rat will spend his twelve points to inspire Tsubasamaru. Usually there’d be a brief roleplaying scene, but the above felt good enough. Later on in the night, Tsubasamaru and Rat talk a bit about protecting Rose and Tsubasamaru confronts Rat on why he chose to save him over Rose despite it being clear that it was him that the ninjas wanted. Rat confesses and says that it’s because Tsubasamaru would be able to do the right thing when lives are in peril, and that he’d give up if they took him.

This got Tsubasamaru to thinking of what he did to Kark was a good thing. His belief of “violence breeds violence” is changed to “violence is a last resort”, as he wants to struggle with the idea that, sometimes you have to be violent. That and I don’t want him to go full knight templar just yet. Both parties gain a new talent. Rat chooses to have deception as a common talent whereas Tsubasamaru chooses Leadership as a Broad talent.

And that’s it. I liked the game, though it was a little lengthy in terms of steps and all that. If you like the idea of a game which features constant character personality development and changing game worlds, then this is for you. I recommend you pick it up. Sadly I haven’t delved too deep into the Cold War or Crossover aspect as I had thought I would, but hey, there might be a next time.

And with that, we’ve finished 24 games. Next game’s gonna be special. Why? Well, it’s a milestone. Bon voyage, gamers.

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