One-shot: Punkbusters

2055 Los Angeles has expanded subterraneously. Elon Musk’s legacy tunnels and bootleg basement construction provide a place for people of all sorts to escape the heat–literally and figuratively.

You’re a member of the LA Special Containment Patrol (LA:SCP), sort of like a cyberpunk ghostbusting unit. Weird things are happening. Good luck out there.

Spoiler warning for Introductory Antimemetics. This is a one-shot based heavily on SCP lore, and new missions can be adapted from the files there. If your players are already familiar with Introductory Antimemetics, the last battle will be too easy for them.

This follows the story format 1, 2, Twist: There are two official missions, then an encounter with a twist. Run time is between 2-5 hours. The more people, the longer this will take.

A few documents should be printed out ahead of time.


Characters

Director Mary Hutchinson, your team’s dispatcher for the day. She shows up on a large screen in the LA:SCP base, as well as communicating through your badge.

Alastair Grey, appearing as a business executive. Only asks questions. Not fully conscious, just a representation of a human.

Setting and Flavor

Travel underground happens by autonomous vehicles hailed via almost any electronic device. Boston Dynamics “Doggos” roam pedestrian and off-map tunnels as delivery vehicles and cop mounts.

Bootleg augments are done underground at street clinics. Implanted LEDs powered by skin conductivity are the most common one. Dramatic plastic surgery, sense enhancements, and electronic tattoos are also popular.

The lights in the tunnel reflect time of day outside: blue in the day, red at night.

  • “Cheapest dentist you’ll ever find!”
  • Genetically modified giant rat pet on leash
  • A man missing one of his eyes is standing in the middle of the street, shouting about the evils and inherent sin of bioagumentation. “Shut up, Peter, you’re just saying that cuz you can’t afford augs!”
  • An old woman wearing a VR visor bumps into the party
  • “She Blinded Me With Science!” blasts from a bar
  • Shady dealer notices badges, smiles, backs away. “I’m getting the stuff from my car!” and ditches
  • 8 legged bootleg Doggo passes over the party
  • Converted ambulance with cut off top drives by with disco lights

The Base

The base is a large converted warehouse in the LA warehouse district. Characters begin in the sleeping area. The tools room has all of the tools they bought with their point buys. The training room contains some mats, weights, and punching bags. They enter the underground through a large elevator.

The server room contains tables full of monitors and several large server towers. Take care to describe this. The tables have usb sticks scattered across them, as well as some on the floor.

The medical bay has four vats with naked bodies floating in some sort of fluid, as well as a locked chest with blue amnestic drugs. If a character dies in the first mission, they are replaced by one of the spare bodies.

Missions

The Trashbeast

“A humanoid entity is roaming the underground near the city downtown. It was reported after removing the hand of one victim. There are no known fatalities at this time. Your job is to neutralize the target, one way or another.” – Director Hutchinson

The beast is reportedly last seen in the utility tunnels, and might be in the dark off-the-grid tunnels by now. It can be tracked by its weird sonic signature, the screams of victims, or whatever the party needs.

When located, it looks like nothing more than a pile of trash, containing pots and pans, a refrigerator, cardboard. It will attack and advance on the party when disturbed, doing bash attacks with parts of its body. If it overwhelms someone, begins to consume their body parts like a woodchipper.

It’s vulnerable to fire. Inside the refrigerator is a phylactery that looks like an overgrown terrarium, but of flesh. Destroying this will make the trashbeast collapse.

Info Spiders

“A series of unusual reports are coming from a mall down in Beverly Hills. People coming in as one person and leaving thinking they are someone else, down to speaking new foreign languages. We ruled out drugs. There are no signs of violence except for circular bruises on the victim’s legs and arms.” – Director Hutchinson

“This may be a memetic or antimemetic hazard, so we are authorizing you to use the kits in the med cabinet.” Tools in this cupboard include syringes full of blue serum.. These are amnesiac drugs that cause forgetting of all info for 5 minutes, 1 hour, and 1 day. There are enough for each player to have one full set.

“New task: Recover at least one of the spider bodies. Keep it as intact as you can.”

The Spiders resemble a virus, with a plunger and injector located on the bottom of them. They work in groups to inject garbage data into their targets. Easy to kill with a solid hit, but there are a lot of them.

They inject information to an overwhelming degree, overwriting memory or filling brain with out of context facts and skills. When a hit lands, draw garbage data from the page “Junk Data”. This works well cut up and stuffed in an envelope.

The Nest unfolds out of the fiberoptic data line in a maintenance area of the mall. It resembles a grotesque metal octopus, with no visible center, just a twitching, pulsing mess of cables melted together spewing new spiders and electric sparks. A large amount of damage will cause the nest to retreat back inside the data line, while destroying the data line itself will starve it out.

When the Nest makes direct contact with the party, they need to save to avoid getting a major delusion:

  • Belief that your body map is that of a velociraptor: 3 feet tall with talons
  • UFOs are terrifyingly true. You have been abducted, once. Bright lights remind you of this.
  • You believe that you’re a spy for another agency.
  • Any injectables (amnestics and mnestics) are disgusting pro-vaxxer paraphernalia
  • You have a lot of imposter syndrome. Should they really let you on these missions, using these dangerous tools?
  • Intense phobia of the dark.
  • You’ve been a plumber your whole life. You constantly notice water piping and always find how the situation relates to plumbing.

Blue amnestic drugs will prevent delusions and junk information from taking hold.

Alastair Grey

“Hell of a first day, isn’t it?” – Alastair Grey

When the team returns to the base after the Infospiders mission, they’re greeted by Alastair Grey.

“What do you mean? This isn’t your first day. Who’s talking? I don’t see anyone. My memetic shielding software isn’t letting me see you either, this is bad news.” – Director Hutchinson

The information in the Alastair Grey PDF will noisily begin printing from a computer in the server room.

Attacks: Alastair Grey will go up to a player and ask them an innocuous question. They roll a save (DC 14) and forget that information on a failure. The severity of the memory loss elevates.

  • (2) Name, family, job, friends, hobbies
  • (2) Appearance, personality, ability to recognize self / team members, layout of the building
  • (2) Ability to read, unique skills, understanding of objects around you, understanding of languages
  • (1) How breathe, talk, see, stand
  • Death

Weakness: Anything full of data will hit him, causing an “Ow” or description of Alastair in pain. There are numerous computers, servers, and usb sticks around the base. Hitting him with enough servers will kill him, reconnecting the party with the real world.

Ending

If Alistair Grey is defeated, Mary Hutchinson will come back online and tell the characters that their training has served them well. This was not their first day, they’ve been working at LA:SCP for 4 years now. They’ll put their heads together again, no doubt. They’ve done it before.

If Alistair Grey isn’t defeated, the vats will break open, and Director Hutchinson will great the new players, saying that there has been a tragic mishap and that their service will be needed now. There is no sign of Alastair Grey, for now…


Rules

This is rules light so as not to need prep on the part of the players, and is inclusive of people new to RPGs.

There are three stats: Brawn (Strength / Constitution), Brains (Intelligence / Wisdom), and Moxie (Dexterity / Charisma). Each character has one strong stat that they roll with advantage, one stat they’re ok at, and one dump stat that they roll with disadvantage.

You’ll need a lot of D20s. Advantage = roll with 2 D20s, take higher number. Disadvantage = roll 2 D20s, take the lower number.

Each character has 2 wounds. If they are strong in Brawn, they have 3. Wound levels are mild / moderate / severe.

Character Build

All characters get a name, a background, and points to buy items. This should take less than 30 minutes.

Background gives them a +2 for their specialty skills. No promises of balance.

  • Occult Historian (Occult, History, Perception)
  • Bruiser (Intimidate, Unarmed combat)
  • Fast Talker (Persuade, Doublethink)
  • Iron Man (Carry, +1 health)
  • Acrobat (Acrobatics, Climb, Jump)
  • Medic (First Aid, Medicine)
  • Investigator (Communications, Arts/Crafts/Photography)
  • Head Doctor (Psychology, Doublethink)
  • Sharpshooter (Firearms, Ranged Weapons)
  • Mad Scientist (Chemistry, Physics, Biology)
  • Hacker (Research, Computers)
  • Light Fingers (Slight of Hand, Stealth, Drive)
The Head Doctor: A character sheet

Players get 5 buy points to start, and as a DM you can reward players with points after missions as seems fit. Also not particularly balanced.

1 point2 points3 points
Shooting earmuff + blindfold
TaserFirst aid kit
Sharpies + duct tapeHeavy hammerPistol and ammo
FlashlightGrenadeRifle and ammo
GoPro
Flashbang x 2Bulletproof vest
Polaroid cameraBowie KnifeIndustrial vacuum cleaner
(backpack style)
Hard driveFire extinguisherRocket skates
Lighter x 2
Bow and arrows x10Infrared goggles
Spray paint x 2Nootropic spray x3
Baseball bat
Hand radio set

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