Tuesday, February 20, 2024

CSV Natani: Death Match of the Bands

Iria Ocano, generated in Unstable Diffusion
by her player.

 This is a quick report on what has happened in my White Star campaign over the last few sessions as the PCs played their way through Cascadia's bloody and perilous Deathmatch of the bands.

Session 9: January 22nd, 2024: Intrigue and Politics

Ciara tapped deep into her deviousness to help Leedo sabotage the Black Sun mercenaries. She started by sending anonymous warnings to Princess Dorala. She then faked a legal siexure of some major dockyards on the Taurelian home system, forcing their representative to jump home to sort matters out immediately and leave a proxy to observe the Festival of the Culling.

She also wove a botnet into the local film production systems so that she could weaponize the camera drones being used in the filming.

The band began to plan their tactical strategies while Ciara wrestled with whether to be on stage in a mask, or simply hide so that there was no choice of begin seen by the Alterrians that might yet be hunting her.

Iria, Leedo, Ciara, Pavo, along with newcomers Hrungg and Dj'hurk finalized their contracts as the band Iria and the Bloody Murder and began participating in the 3-day multi-stage concert / gladiatorial event.

Session 10: January 29th, 2024: Metal & Mind Control

I set the concert up using clocks from the Forged in the Dark engine. Whether a number landed with the audience would come down to an interaction roll by Iria. The other band members, if they were not doing something else sneaky, would roll a d20 and aim to get under Charisma. If successful they would add a +1 to Iria's roll. A failure would give her no bonus. A failure by 5 or more would cause a -1 penalty.

The bands would play back and forth one number at a time. If Iria succeeded the roll they would fill in one segment of the clock. If they failed, I would fill in a segment for the other band. 4 successes means they won the performance part of the concert. 3 failures and they would lose.

Losers in the musical part of the performnace would have to roll on a table to discover what blood-sport they would have to participate in for a chance to carry on to the next round.


Chariots of the Metal Gods: The band builds a hover vehicle out of cheap modular parts, scrap, and old weapons and goes after the rival band. If the vehicle is disabled, the fuel tank is destroyed, if they crash, or if at least one member of the band is not playing for 10 seconds they are eliminated.


The Maze of Qualification: Reach the center of a deadly labyrinth filled with alien monsters and traps while armed only with primitive bows, swords, axes, or shields, to claim the crystal trophy at its heart before the rival band does.


Capture the Flag: Played on a plain of volcanic rock near a live lava spout and toxic fumes. Players are armed with air filters and live ammunition slug-throwers.


Feast of Champions: Using ceremonial spears, the players must survive a battle with enraged and freshly-thawed alien crustaceans to be served to the religious caste of Cascadia and foreign dignitaries in a ceremonial feast at the zenith of the festival.


Arena of Rock: Both bands are placed on delicate crystal pillars with amps and instrumnets and are expected to use acoustics to shatter the pillar of the other band, sending them to a plain of jagged crystal below. Bands may be armed.


The Tower of Storms: An arena battle fought hand-to-hand by champions of each band using weaponized instruments.

Iria and the Bloody Murder were one of a number of bands to play in the concert. Among the others were:

The New Sync Boys - an R&B boy band with a devious streak
Pink Fauxhawk - a cyberpunked industrial band with a lot of robots and high-tech toys.
Cold Snap - a darkwave and gothic metal band fronted by Iria's old lover.
BInAri stAr - a high concept electronica band.
Carcass Crawler - death metal Void cultists with a Void Knight (think Sith) front-man.

And a couple of others that did not come into play.

While the band got off to a rocking start against Carcass Crawler, as they started to beat out the rivals, the band leader attempted to use mind-control on Iria in mid-performance. She managed to shake it off and keep performing, only missing a beat. In retaliation Roth, Iria's trusty alien brute roadie henchman used his own mind control powers and caused the singer of Carcass Crawler to eat his own guitar on stage, after which Iria's rendition of Ballroom Blitz won the day and put them as a clear fan favourite going forward.

The crowd was entertained, but Carcass Crawler were forced to engage in Capture the Flag to continue against the New Sync Boys. Despite being a soppy retro-90s boy band, NSB had some nasty tricks, and managed to only have one of their six hospitalized before killing the members of CC in a bloody crossfire.

Session 10: February 5th, 2024 - A Matter of Energy

Iria & the Bloody Murder's next opponents BInAri stAr were an easy defeat even without dirty tricks- they were too high concept for what was a decidedly low-brow crowd. Iria focused on high energy punk/metal classics that kept people on their feet to crush the competition.

Meanwhile in secret members of the band began monitoring the manoeuvring of the Black Sun, and their frustrations as their marks proved to difficult to reach thanks to Iria's meddling.

Catching a mysterious hacker attempting to access Leedo's equipment gave them a reason to tighten their own security and hunker down while Ciara engaged in some vicious cyberwarfare, only to discover that they were dealing with an obsessive fan, not a sinister agent of another band.

Of course, they had bigger worries, as they were informed they would have to engage in a mandatory combat game on the next dawn as part of the structure of the competition.

Session 11: February 12th, 2024 - Chariots of the Metal Gods

As Kuna finished moving his Tarelian brandy, he tried contacting their financier D'vorgan to pay him his share of the money, only to be told by someone claiming to be Veles IX security that D'vorgan is dead, and they would send an agent to discuss the matter personally. Kuna was left with a bad feeling. However he was quickly distracted by the band as they pleaded with him to help them sort out the oncoming battle; they needed him to remote pilot the tank they were assembling.

The finalized vehicle they designed was long, aerodynamic, and with a clearplaz screen in front of a stage on teh back for Iria and Hrungg to perform on, while Pavo served as a control relay for Kuna, Leedo and Dj'hurk handled guns, while Ciara was in charge of engineering and electronic warfare. The ship was fitted with two heavy laser turrets, and an auto-cannon controlled by Hrungg's drum kit. Kuna had cotnrol over both the aim of the cannon and a single stinger missile.

They found themselves up against the tenacious New Sync Boys who had built a five-man hovering stage with a massive balded bulldozer scoop to use for ramming and as an adjustable shield. There were machine gun turrets in front of each member, and they had arranged a song-and-dance routine allowing some to fire while others danced and sang. The flight they dedicated to a simple AI.

The NSB tank was slower, but far better armoured. Without Kuna they may have had a hard time getting a good bead on the Enemy. As it was, Leedo came up with the idea of burning the New Sync Boys' machine-gun ammo pods rather than trying to damage their armoured ship.

As the two vehicles floated above the volcanic plane and bullets flew, Ammo crate after ammo crate was blown, leaving one of the NSB badly wounded and burned, and causing another one to fall of the ship in the process.

It took Iria every inch of nerve to keep herself and Hrungg playing as heavy machine gun ammo punched holes in the clear shield in front of them, but she never wavered as she hammered on hard with a loud and raucus version of I Fought the Law

Kuna managed to get a good lock with the Stinger and blew off one of the arms holding on the dozer blade on the front of the NSB ship causing it to drop one end of the blade into the soil, and swinging the whole ship in a massive lazy circle. While one member of NSB fought desperately to keep firing, and another to try to use a cutting torch to cut the blade loose, only one was left to hold the song.

Itia used her fear-inducing rock out ability to break that singer's concentration, causing him to lose his nerve, stop singing, and flee to the emergency bunker in the back of their ship. No other member of the band was able to find the tune in the ensuing 10 seconds, causing NSB to be disqualified.

Partying hard afterwards, the Bloody Murder were quite happy until Iria learned that Raythe, her ex-lover, and a man she left when she discovered he was using their band to launder money for a terrorist front, was in their next musical opponent, Cold Snap. She warned the band, Raythe is a psychopath, a sniper, and has terrorist connections. The only reason he wasn't already trying to kill them was because he would want to humble Iria on stage.

That said, he sent her a bouquet of black roses, that Ciara, on careful inspection, discovered were printed with a bio-circuit that could be used as a homing beacon of some kind. They burned the roses, except one, whose circuit they ruined with a precision laser so that Iria could wear it on stage in defiance.

Session 12: February 19, 2024: Firefight on Stage

As the band stepped on stage to play against Cold Snap, Iria channeled her defiance into a tour-de-force performance, wowing the crowd with her energy, which trumped Cold Snap's ability to play directly into the Cascadian bloodlust.During her second performance, however, Leedo and Hrungg both noticed a tracing dot on Iria's torso, and both moved in to cover her.

Leedo managed to bump Iria out of the way while jamming with her, leaving the laser blast to follow to punch a hole through Hrungg's gut. To everyone's amazement, Hrungg kept on playing, albeit shakily.

Leedo scanned the area and noticed that Cold Snap had not engaged their privacy screen, and Raythe was holding a guitar with a laser integrated into the neck just like the one Leedo had found in the Naughty Nina. Happy to play that game, Leedo switched instruments while all ayes were on the valiantly playing Hrungg, and returned fire, hitting Raythe in the chest with his own one-shot laser.

Meanwhile, in space, Kuna and Tazik took note of a small satellite jockeying for position near them in geosynchronous orbit over the venue. He had Tazik keep locked on to it.

Cold Snap's second number had to be instrumental, as Raythe was being rushed to a nearby hospital with a smoking hole in the chest. Not something they were quite ready for, and they began to lose the audience, giving Iria and the Bloody Murder a strong advantage.

While Raythe was beign dragged to the hospital however, he was targeting an orbital gauss cannon, fighting the paramedics to use his wrist computer. Without a functional black rose on Iria he could not target it automatically.

Kuna, noticing the satellite going stealth and powering up magnetic rails ordered Tazik to melt it to slag, while he and A.N.O.D.E. smoothed things over with planetary security, sending them as thoroughly scrubbed logs as he could manage and still give evidence that the satellite was up to no good.

After the set, Iria was able to bask in the glow of a mad crowd and watch as the remaining members of Cold Snap battled it out with Pink Fauxhawk for the other spot in the finals. Pink Fauxhawk proved the better warriors when it came to killing alien crustaceans, and so secured their place across from Iria and the Bloody Murder for the final play-off.

Not content to sit idle, Leedo and Ciara planned to sabotage Pink Fauxhawk. Leedo approached the Black Sun guard protecting the Fauxhawks' locker room and started invading his space.

"Do you know who I am?"

"Yeah, you're the asshole all over the Suns' feed. Lucky for you, I am assigned to guard this door, not kick you ass. Now piss off before I forget that fact."

"Oh well..."

At this point Leedo tried to cold-cock the guard but failed to get through his armor. The guard grabbed Leedo by the head and started to squeeze as he called for a goon squad who were free to beat beat him as much as they pleased.

Leedo managed to squirm free, pop his claws, and punch the guard in the crotch... a bad move as Taurelians have religious taboos about this attack, and the guard took it as a deep, spiritual insult.

He started shooting at the fleeing Leedo with an ion rifle as the rest of the squad showed up and they began chasing him out into the promenade and commissary.

The moment they were clear, Ciara snuck in and began hacking the security cameras and lock on the Fauxhawks' locker room.

Leedo led the Black Suns on a merry chase through the crowded lobby trying to get lost on the crowd. At one point he accidentally jostled a concert-goer who spilled his drink on another concert-goer, who, thanks to a quirk of biochemistry immediately caught fire.

The goons were forced to stop and try to find a fire extinguisher that wouldn't cause the burning guest to explode, while stopping his girlfriend from throwing drinks at the guest with the spilled drink, and writing up the bartender bot for sellign her more ammunition giving Leedo a chance to slip away and sneak back into the band lounge.

Meanwhile, a scan told Ciara that there was a robot guarding the Fauxhawks' instruments. She swiftly hacked into it and re-programmed it to destroy musical instruments at all costs, before rejoining the band and putting up with Leedo telling her how much he thinks her plans suck.

After an hour a representative from the concert brought a witness from the Pink Fauchawks to flip a coin for which band gets to play their final competitive number first. The Fauxhawks won the flip...

...which meant as they rolled their instruments on stage as part of their show, the small, unobtrusive robot riding the cart and sprang to live attacking their instruments with a swarm of micro-missiles before leaping onto the drum kit and activating a self-destruct sequence.

(had they lost the coin flip, it would have been The Bloody Murder's instruments under fire...)

To their credit, Pink Fauxhawk played it cool, riling up the fans while a couple of band members ran off, and came back in a running gunfight with the same Black Suns goon squad with stlen instruments belonging to the New Sync Boys and Cold Snap.They played the stolen instruments hard and made a show of destroying them as they played to entertain the crowd.

In spite of their incredible showmanship, they were no match for Iria rocking out as hard as she could, and claimed the win for Deathmatch of the Bands.

After a few moments of basking in the celebration behind the privacy screen the rest of the band fanded back and let Iria play a solo song she had composed on the flight from Veles system to the Solana Vortex. Wowing the crowd one last time.

She invited Hrungg to join her band proper as Brax reminded her she had a recording deal just waiting for a few details, and paid them out enough prize money to afford a small ship.

Of course there is a lot on the move in Cascadia, and they have far from completed their business there....

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