Alright, so let’s begin playing Bliss Stage. I personally can’t wait to play it right now. The only problem is trying to figure out how to start it off. I have the setup, yes, but not a starting scenario. And I have an idea of what to do, but I feel like it’s more of an endgame scenario and not something for me to start off the session with but something to close it out on.
Fortunately, Bliss Stage has that covered with a section of the RPG called “The First Action”, which basically describes how the game begins. We start with a scenario in which it’s discovered that alien remotes are located outside the base. I can see a scene where the Authority Figure, a person who owns the farm that the base is situated on, approaching Shun lying on a pile of hay and telling him that he has to fight.
[Q: Is he aware that Shun hates using the ANIMA? Purpose: To Knowledge of the “First Action” Thread. A: 68, Surge bumping it to 70. Yes, which means the Surge Counter goes up to 2. Chaos can’t change the answer]
While Frank would shove Shun off of the pile and go pilot, he instead decides to use honey to lure the fly, saying how he’s their only hope for the farm, playing to his loyalty to his gang. Shun just sighs and gets going. Frank tells Shun that he has to destroy the remotes and take out their pilot(s). He’ll prep himself for controlling the ANIMa. Scene ends with a point to Chaos (crap’s already hitting the fan and Shun is going to do something he doesn’t like) and we begin our Mission with a Scene Roll.
[Scene Roll: 3]
So the scene is altered. Shun arrives at his docking station (which used to be the Cellar) only to find that his Anchor will not be Jack, but rather his buddy Sayaka. He’s obviously gonna ask why this is, and rather than ask the engine, I’ll pull a quote from the game:
“I’m an anchor because I wasn’t quick enough to be a pilot, but I couldn’t just sit back and do nothing.”
In this case though, Sayaka was crippled from a bad run-in with the Lawl. Shun is gonna try to talk Sayaka out of Anchoring him, due to the risks that it has. This will begin the NPC interaction.
- NPC Mood: 89 = Helpful
- NPC Bearing: (fixed on Friendly) 8 = Delight
- NPC Focus: 96 = Previous Scene
So she speaks out in delight about how she was selected to be Shun’s Anchor, though Shun is trying to convince her otherwise. The way this will work is that, during a conversation round, Sayaka and Shun will say one piece and roll a Fudge Die. If it’s a plus, then it will tip in the favor of the arguer (Sayaka wants to Anchor, Shun wants her out of it) and minues will be not in their favor.
So far, while Shun realizes that Sayaka really wants to help him (one point in her favor), he brings up the worry that she’ll get hurt, even if she’s not actively in the fray (one point in his favor). However, Sayaka reassures Shun that she can handle it (one point in her favor) and with that, Shun realizes why she was picked as his Anchor.
He trusts her more than Jack. Thus, the interlude action is seen as a Trust Building action, and thus his trust with Sayaka increases by one. So he relents and loads up in the ANIMa. Scene ends with him being in a little more control (or going into a more controlled environment) and we begin the next scene.
[Scene Roll: 4]
Scene interrupt time.
- Event Focus: NPC Positive
- NPC?: The Cow Herder
- How Many Traits: Three
- Traits: Convincing, Annoyed, Articulate
- Name: Zeke
- Event Meanings: Divide Liberty
However, we’re going to focus on the mission at hand before we get into what’s going on here. Right now, we’re heading into the dreamscape. I’ll go with the game’s example and say that the dreamscape will be akin to that of what they can see in real life (for example, the Bay Bridge), but I’m going to add a bit of a strange filter to it because, hey, it’s a dream.
[What is the Dreamscape like? A: A jagged sword.]
So, outside, the ANIMa can see the farmyard, but instead of wheat stalks, Shun sees giant weapons implanted in the ground.
[Q: Can he take the swords? Purpose: To Knowledge of the “First Action” Thread. A: 100. Chaos and Surge can’t affect this.]
… Holy. Crap. Alright, let’s go for this. What’s the unexpected route?
[Unexpectedly: 1 = Foreshadowing]
Alright, I’ll set up that thread I had set up with that NPC action. So, ANIMa powers on, Shun sees the field of wheat, now a field of swords, and now he can go over and pick a sword up. Alright, so as he’s equipping his ANIMa, something happens.
- Event Focus: NPC Action
- NPC?: Frank the Authority Figure.
- Event Meanings: Create Expectations
Frank pipes in from the Anchor’s controls and tells Shun that he is to eradicate the aliens at all costs and that he won’t let a single one go. I can safely say that with that, we can begin equipping the ANIMa.
[Q: Would the sword represent a relationship like the others? Purpose: To Knowledge of the “First Action” Thread. A: 83. Chaos could make it sway to either “Yes, But” or “Yes”. I’ll pick Yes, which increases the Surge Counter by one.]
Okay, so yes, it would count. Quoting the MyDreamVisions website: “A sword can represent a challenge, dramatic conflict, a flourish, honor, or dignity.” And since Frank offered a challenge, the sword will represent him. Now, what do I mean by that? Well, ANIMa are powered by relationships, not just love but also friendships, family, or even rivalries.
The Anchor is important, as it becomes the chassis for the ANIMa. From there, I can add different parts to the ANIMa, sort of like a game of Armored Core. For the sake of completion, I’ll say that I’ll incorporate Jack as a laser rifle. This totals to 11 Intimacy total. Not too shabby, and if I need to, I can add more parts in the middle of a mission, provided they’re represented by undamaged or unused Relationships.
Our scene ends with our hero striding off into the fray. Chaos Factor is lowered because everything went as expected. Now we roll up a new scene.
[Scene Roll: 9, no Scene Event]
So now, our hero is on the road.
[What is the Dreamscape like?: The Taurus symbol]
The road forks off into two different directions and behind Shun, the road curves until it’s a complete circle. He can’t go back to the barn, he can only go one of two routes. He is unsure of this, so he’ll ask his Anchor where to go.
[Left or Right?: Right.]
[Q: Was Right the right call? Purpose: To Knowledge of the “First Action” Thread. A: 47, Surge decreasing it to 45. Chaos can’t change directions. Additional Surge Counter added.]
No, it wasn’t. However, this is where that foreshadowed thread comes in.
[Q: Would third party people be distorted? Purpose: To Knowledge of the mystery thread. A: 5, Surge brings it down to 1. Chaos can’t change direction.]
No, and unexpectedly…
This is where things go out of control for the dream, as Sayaka is slowly losing her ability to discern the dream. Shun can see it perfectly though. He sees Zeke, the cow rancher, walking up to one of the generals of the Lawl, Roger, and talking with him.
[Q: Can Shun discern what they’re saying, even though he’s in a dream setting? Purpose: TO Knowledge of the mystery thread. A: 64, Chaos can’t change direction]
Yes he can. He is able to discern what the two are saying. Zeke is talking with Roger about where the farm is. Since the ANIMa were reversed engineered alien remotes which act as gigantic robots, they see me.
[Q: Do they freak out? Purpose: To Conflict of the mystery thread. Adding a 10 to it because it’s understandable for them to have a freak out over an ANIMa approaching them. A: 106 WE BROKEN THE SCALE!!!]
… Well… I guess I’ll just deduct the extra six points, put them in Shun’s number of Bliss Points, and roll up both a Random Event and an Unexpectedly.
[Roll: 9, Upstaged]
- Event Focus: Introduce a new NPC.
- Allegiance (1-2 = Ally, 3-4 = Lawl, 5-6 = Bliss): Lawl.
- How Many Traits: Three
- Traits: Disagreeable, Underdressed, Confident
- Motivation?: Revenge
- Name: General Jacob
- Event Meaning: Take Stalemate
Suddenly, another ANIMa comes into view. One with a big, tough, six-legged chassis and arm cannons to boot. It fires at Shun and we have reached Climax, meaning we reached a point where there’s clear danger to our Pilot. This is where we can roll dice. We have a choice between rolling regular old dice or Fudge Dice. We’ll go with Fudge Dice for now.
You roll as many Fudge Dice as you have a total Intimacy. In this case, it’ll be 11.
[Roll: 3 Blanks, 4 Minuses, 4 Pluses]
Alright, so, if I read the rules correctly, I can put these dice into a couple of categories. I have four plusses, so that means I can put one into Mission Success (I have to say how the mission was a success, since this was completely unrelated to the mission), a plus in the Pilot’s Safety, and two plusses in Relationship Safety between Sayaka and Jack. The results are that I succeed in the mission goal, which I guess was “find out what’s going on”, I remain safe, and my relationships with Sayaka and Jack are unharmed.
I’m placing a blank in my relationship with Frank. This results in the relationship getting stressed (represented by the sword trying to block itself from the bullets, but getting chipped away). Everything else goes into Bliss, which means I take four additional Bliss. But other than that? I’m good! The new mission goal is obvious: defeat General Jacob.
And since I’m fighting him, that puts Shun in danger, and thus, calls for a climax.
[Roll: 5 Pluses, 3 Blanks, 3 Minueses]
Rolling in the plusses! Well, same thing as usual. Plus in Success, Plus in safety, and the remainder into his Relationship Safeties. The result? Total pwnage. And no, there’s no special rule for AMINa vs. ANIMa fighting. We’re playing an RPG based off Evangelion, not Gundam… Except for those three different times in the series where the children had to fight rogue EVA units… but besides the point.
Shun decimates Jacob, albeit with three additional Bliss.
[Q: Does Shun destroy Jacob? Purpose: To Conflict with the mystery thread. A: 1]
No, and unexpectedly…
By this point, Sayaka is able to stabilize the dream, and as such, is able to see that Zeke is chatting with the Lawl. Shun explains about how Zeke was selling them out. Zeke tries to defend himself. He was only trying to make sure he didn’t get persecuted by telling them where the resistance is hiding out. Jacob and Roger, however, reveal that they don’t care where it is.
They’re not the ones who want the information anyways.
As it turns out, the Lawl are moles for the Bliss, and they are the ones who wanted the information of where the barn is. They knew it’d be heavily defended, so they simply sent a few drones to distract the sole ANIMa and raid the barn.
To make matters worse? They’re already there. The scuffle with Jacob and the Lawl were just a diversion.
[Q: Can Jacob still fight? Purpose: To Ending the Zeke is a traitor thread. -10 for being defeated. A: 14, Chaos unable to change direction.]
No. And he’s fatally wounded from the battle. However, as he bleeds out, he laughs, saying he finally has his revenge on Shun and the others for their assault that led to Shun to be recruited by the group. With that, he dies and Shun is forced to rush back to the farm as the aliens close in on the barn.
But remember, the ANIMa is still running inside a partial dream. Things could happen to him. Especially since the path that led him here was a dream induced fork in the road. Will he be able to save the farm in time? Tune in…
Next time. Don’t you love cliffhangers?