I’m going to be testing out the Apocalypse Oracle (made by archon1024 from Reddit’s Solo Roleplaying group) by using There Is No Spoon, much like how I used it to test CRGE. The idea I have is a hovercraft that’s operated by only two people. They’re a vigilante group seeking to discourage people from abusing the Matrix to their whims and desires. This is set sometime before the Matrix and perhaps around the time of the There is no Spoony Veteran game.
My character creation is simple. Two points to the Matrix Stat for 3 and four to make the Katana skill a 6. Zero’s Deal will be determined by the Oracle, which I shall now go into detail talking about.
The Oracle is designed in a sleek, ergonomic layout that echoes that of katamoiran’s RPGs. There’s only four pages and two of them are needed to use and play a game. The overall intent is to minimize as much flipping through pages as possible and compared to using Mythic or CRGE, it works efficiently.
For Mythic, I had to flip a page or two to get to Actions and Descriptors, but for Apocalypse Oracle, I just need to glance to the right side of the first page. It’s card-based resolution for the complex categories had me puzzled at first, but as I noticed how it ties in the suits to mean different things on top of the rank, it started to click.
So, let’s get to drawing. My first two cards are a 6 & 7 of Diamonds. In translation, this means “(mental/plot/technical) Harm (quality/operation) Simple”. This can invite a lot of different interpretations, and so my interpretation for the deal is “Those who abuse the Matrix must be purged.” It utilizes a Plot to Harm a Simple Operation. His Fate then is “you will end up abusing the Matrix at one point.”
Now, afterwards, I realize that the Action and Description do not work like Mythic and that they are mutually exclusive in that you ask separate questions to the two as opposed to how Mythic uses the two to combine into a single meaning. Perhaps I mistook the two for the “Event Meanings: Action and Subject” section. Despite that, I felt like the Description helped carve a direction for my character, Zero, to go.
Now comes time to generate a plot as the Apocalypse Oracle instructs, which is also used by drawing cards. The first card, which is the event that kicks off the story, is a Three of Hearts, an Enemy Action that’s passive, docile, or even positive. At first, I thought docile and passive meant the same, but a quick Google search showed me that is not the case.
In any case, I’m going to do the proper way of using the Action section and ask “What did Zero’s target do that’s positive?”, to which the card says 5 of Diamonds. The target is plotting to move something that’s beneficial… To which I now go to the Description section and ask “what is it that’s beneficial?” A Three of Clubs shows that it’s large in design. I think I have enough details to conclude on what it is.
Zero’s target, Ra, has a Hoverbarge called the Horakhty that is mostly used as an ark for Coppertops, still in their pods while Ra’s team works to Redpill them. Sounds nice on paper, right? Ra rescues a bunch of people and converts them to Zion. However, Zero believes that Zion is to be made of people who make the choice to escape the Matrix by themselves and not be forced upon. As a result, Zero plans to hijack the Horakhty and free the Coppertops. He tries to do this by getting his Operator and brother, Binary, to hack an opening into the Horakhty via the Matrix, using the jack out via phone method to enter the Hoverbarge.
That is how we’re setting up the scene, but Scene Set up is a lot different than just rolling a die to see if it lines up with Chaos. I roll two dice to see what sort of complication comes up and if it’s an altered scene. I roll a 1, which is Conflict (Ra’s group finds me and tries to take me out) and I rolled a 5 for checking if the scene is altered. On a 5 or 6, the scene is altered. A 6 means it’s a pacing move.
On the center left of the first page, there are three sets of moves. A Pacing Move is something to keep the plot moving along, while the Soft and Hard moves are dependant on the Karma die, a sort of reverse Chaos Factor. Every time a character fails and there’s consequences, so long as the Karma Die is not a 1, you default to Soft Moves, reducing the die by 1 point for each move. If it’s at a 1, you make a Hard Move and roll the Karma Die again.
This is where the “Apocalypse” of Apocalypse Oracle comes in, since it has the same sort of GM Moves as Powered by the Apocalypse and it’s extremely interesting since this means you don’t have to have it just be “your character fails”. If your character fails and there’s consequences for failing, you can show just what those consequences are.
Now we get into the game.
Zero heard the ringing of the telephone from just beyond the corner. He rushed to go grab the phone.
Now I’m going to ask it a yes/no question. It works on an Odds factor, with Likely having 3 and up being yes and Unlikely being 5 and up being yes. You also roll another D6 to see if it’s modified by a But or And.
[Q: Does the phone get destroyed as Zero reaches for it? Odds: Likely. A: 6 & 5]
However, the phone is blasted out of his hands. He looks over and sees a masked gunman aiming a pistol at him. Zero sighs, knowing that this was one of Ra’s flunkies, and gets out his katana.
For this battle, I’ll assume that he’s at Matrix 4, Gun Fu 4. This leads to a complex fight where the masked shooter fires at Zero, who just slashes at the bullets. Because I keep rolling Double Successes, I’m going to instead consult the Oracle of what move the masked shooter does next. A rolled a 2, Obvious Passive, so the shooter calls for backup.
Knowing he’d be outnumbered, Zero runs off and tells his brother to patch him through to another phone.
[Q: Is he able to? Odds: Even. A: 6 & 3]
Yes, he’s able to. Another phone begins to ring.
[Q: Does Ra’s men get to it first? Odds: Likely. A: 3 & 4]
They do. Five armed men come in front of the ringing phone booth and aim at Zero. Because of this, I’m going to give the masked shooter an advantage die. Unfortunately, he only succeeded on a Skill Success while Zero gets a Matrix Success. He runs through them with his katana, then gets on the phone as he enters the Hoverbarge.
Now, while the rules of the game say that the Matrix Die is only applicable inside the Matrix, I’m tempted to go with the twist that Zion itself is a simulation just so that I can keep the Matrix die in. However, I’m not. The scene ends and now we do another scene roll.
Zero’s intended action now is to find the Coppertops and free their pods for the Machines to take back to their bays. 5 & 5 reveal that it’s an altered scene where all is not as it seems. Hmm… I think I know where to take this now. A random event shows a ten of hearts. Passive Bystanders… The Coppertops.
He’s found them and is now about to free them… But… What exactly is not right with this scene? The Queen of Spades shows that it’s an Exotic Function. … Oh boy. This isn’t what I’ve expected at all…
The pods are all set up like a nursing bay. Some of the pods have been forced open and some liquid trails reveal that one of them had been dragged out. Zero is going to stealthily investigate where the people have been taken. He rolls a 2, which is a success since all general skills not otherwise modified are 3. He follows the trail and notices it leads to the kitchen.
[Q: Is there anyone guarding it? Odds: Likely. A: 5 & 3]
Yes. He’s going to have to roll stealth again. A six botches it and he is caught. He now has to get into a fist fight with the guard. He fails and now we get to do a Hard Move since the Karma Die I rolled on a 1. 6 means a Threat Succeeds. He is eventually beaten up as he is taken into the kitchen where he sees some of the Coppertops… Being served as food for the crew.
I’m going to spend a Matrix Chip to regain a Body Chip and he resists being the next object on the menu by punching the guard and slamming his head against the counter before running off. His aim now is simple. Commandeer the ship and kill Ra.
Scene Setup has him finding Ra at his cockpit. 5 & 2 reveal it’s another mystery… But what’s the mystery here this time? The Three of Spades reveals a large purpose or function. Ra reveals that he’s making food out of the Coppertops to help feed everyone in Zion. Zero brings up how that’s disgusting and that no one would resort to cannibalism. Ra just laughs and says how it’s not a matter of if they’ll eat them and a matter of when.
Food on Zion is, when it’s not scarce, bland. By making food from humans, he’s introducing food with a richer texture than the slop they get and just as much if not more nourishment. He then brings up how it’s no different to how the machines farm them as batteries, their version of food. Zero then says how that’s the reason why they shouldn’t succumb to being like the machines and they have a fight. Ra hasn’t been good at fist fights so his brawl is a 2. However, he gets a hit on Zero and leaves him at the mercy of the Hard Moves. 2, Cause Harm…
He knocks Zero out and brings him to be prepared to be cooked…
And that’s where we’ll end this session.
Overall, the Oracle is very robust with the only problems being due to my own mistakes and nothing from the actual Oracle itself. The instructions are simple and easy to follow and the tables I used either worked as I expected or even better than what I’ve expected. The only minor hang up I have with this is that some of the cards I draw to answer the Description questions leave me a little stumped. That said, I don’t think it’s that bad of a hang up and I was able to work with what I got rather easily.
However, this is only Session 1. Next session will deal with the second page of the Apocalypse Oracle, which shows four sections for Dungeons, Hexes, NPCs, and Plot Hooks.