Mission 22 – Backlash – Part 2

Written by: Marius          Played on: 16 OCT 2010
PREVIOUS: Mission 22 – Backlash – Part 1
NEXT: Mission 23 – Prodigal Son

We utilize one of our contacts, Eliza, to get us across the boarder without any government entanglements. We see on the news that a 100,000¥ bounty is out for “information leading to the capture of” us. Nice. Now wondering if we can trust Eliza we hide the van and steal a passenger car. We arrive at Eliza’s in that.

On the way there we crack into this data. Levi plays an audio file about a shipment, there are Triad bosses on the recording. We decide to head to Clints. On the way there we get a call from Tabby offering us sanctuary, which we accept. Levi refuses to enter, citing that someone should watch the outside bla bla bla… he is in one of his cowardly moods again. Cho agrees to stay outside and babysit him, they go for a walk. 

Once inside Tabby seems a little offended that we are not all there. She sees right through our “they went for a walk” excuse and is not buying it, she knows we don’t trust her… at least that is what I gathered.

Tabby tells us that if we can rescue the bodyguard she might be able to clear our names. We show her the gun fragment and she recognizes its engraving; it belongs to “DP” a Chavez Family thug. She says she needs the data. I radio Levi and Cho make their way toward the house. Levi makes a copy of the data first. 

It wasn’t until after the session was over that I realized the mission obviously intended for the team to only have one copy of the data. Later, it would force them to choose who they wanted to give the data to.

I didn’t think about it during prep and so, when they asked if they could, I saw no reason to tell them they couldn’t. It wasn’t until I realized they could “make nice with everyone” that way and that it reduced the power of the “barganning chip” that I realized my mistake.

In retrospect, I would have put a limiting factor on distributing the data. Perhaps the hard drive was encrypted which prevented making a copy of it. Perhaps the data was hardware locked, it could be easily read from the drive but actualy copying it to another device was prohibited. Whatever the reason, it would take several weeks to decode the data so it could be copied to multiple devices.

We hand over the data and she gives us 3000¥. She also gives us the keys to a GMC Bulldog. The same type Detrius and I used to drive from Seattle to Denver. The team even used one of these for our first few runs until it was destroyed by heavy weapons fire. Tabby is also nice enough to furnish us with some arms, as we left most of the big stuff in Thumper. We are all real anxious to get back into the safety of our own van. 

We head to the address she gave us of where the Chavez guys hang out. We arive and find a warehouse with two entrances. We storm the place with tactical precision. Levi, Wheeler and Jade take one entrance, while Clint, Cho and Myself take the other.

After we are about half done killing mother fuckers a wall bursts in and in pour more dudes with guns, also shooting at the Chavez. As Sun-Tsu says, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. We both team up killing the Chavez. At one point I lay down arms and throw my body onto the bodyguard who is tied to a chair, taking him down and laying on top of him to protect him from stray bullets. 

As we are explaining the situation to the “bodyguard”, who is in fact Matt Greyfox, the leader of the Koshari who burst through the door tells Greyfox to come with him to safety. We tell him we were sent by Tabby and he decides he is safer with us. I loot several corpses on the way out and end up with a handful of weapons. 

Back at Tabby’s we debrief, Matt Greyfox attempts to hug Tabby, but she pushes him away. She say that Raven has made contact. Matt says we need to go to the ZDF Headquarters, and there he can help us clear our names. He says the guy he was protecting was the one who called in the ZDF, and that they know our identities. 

Tabby tells us she can clear us with the ZDF without us turning ourselves in first. Matt continues to insist that we go into the Hub with him. The team decides to go into the hub. Once that decision has been made, Levi, who had seemed to have no opinion up until now suddenly refuses to go citing this as the worst idea ever. So after further debate we decide to go with Tabby’s plan. 

The drama of this scene was somewhat mitigated as I mentioned above. Since the team had already and could continue making copies of the data, nothing was preventing them from “making peace with everyone.”

The choice here would have been much more pivotal if the option was to deal with an individual they know and deliver the data to the Koshari but leave the ZDF on their asses or to walk directly into ZDF headquarters (a questionable decision) in hopes of clearing their names but leaving the Koshari without the data they hired the team to recover.

Ultimately there was still plenty of drama and discussion in determining if they wanted to try to clear their names with the ZDF directly or not.

Matt Greyfox understands our decision, and states he will still do what he can. He says if he has the data that we acquired that will go a long way. Even though we freely handed it over to Tabby only hours before, Levi now refuses to hand over the data, stating that we were to be paid for it and he is not going to give it away for free.

The whole team tries to convince him and finally I agree to give him 6000¥ if he will hand over the data and stop being a stupid prick. This is one of several occasions when I have strongly considered killing him. 

This was an akward player situation that I should have handled better. One player felt that, in character if nothing else, Levi would want to withhold the data from his employers for the payout they were promised which ran counter to everyone else’s preservation instincts.

Rather than mediating the conversation to a compromise that the group was happy with, I trusted the conversation and the players to run their course and reach a satisfactory ending. The result was a heated discussion between players and real life anger including several strong opinions on the character and the player and desires for retaliation that were expressed to me after the session. It did not blossom into full on character vs character violence, but it wasn’t more than a few steps away and was in danger of occuring in future sessions.

A lot of this I fault myself for never laying out a social contract of some type prior to our fist session discussing our expectations for, among many other things, player cooperation and handling conflict. A lot of that evolved naturally over our play sessions, but in this case lacking it directly led to an akward clash of player styles and interests.

While I trust my players to be mature and work it out moving forward, I am still dealing with the after effects of this conflict. In the days immediately following the session, I was forced to take a much more hands on approach than I wanted to head off any future instances of similar conflict and to prevent fallout from spiraling out of control.

It was a good lesson for me, if nothing else, in anticipating and heading off problems like this in advance. Moving forward, I explained to the conflicting player that the game was a colaborative excercise in fun and that he needed to be willing to compromise in persuit of fun for the group, regardless of “what my character would do.” I also explained to the other players that their own reactions to the player and retaliatory plans were disrespectful to the player and not welcome in the game.

I explicitely explained to all players that unrestricted Player vs Player interactions were not something I was interested in running in the game. That further disputes between characters that reached an impass had to be resolved between players in some form of a compromise.

Some scenarios, like pre-agreed upon scenes between players or certain planned scenes that result in interesting story telling (as we did in Side Mission 01 – The Curious Conch) are considered exceptions to the rule, but all require passing through my approval and consideration first and must benefit enjoyment of the game. Its way more heavy handed than I would have liked and I would have preferred to have never had to draw that line in the first place.

That night we all crash at Clint’s place. The next morning we head to a meeting with Matt Greyfox, Tabby, and Mark Longfeather Raven. Raven asks for our story and we tell him of the events. He says he is still ok with us and that he will use us for work in the future. 

Tabby says she was unable to fully clear us with the ZDF, they know we did not kill that guy, but we DID kill a few of their people. Tabby says she can get us a discount on facial reconstructive surgery. I take her up on it, eager to get a new face, to avoid the ZDF, as well as several other.. issues.. from my past. 

We get a lift back to our parking spot to find Thumper… GONE. Presumably confiscated by the ZDF. Fuck.
PREVIOUS: Mission 22 – Backlash – Part 1
NEXT: Mission 23 – Prodigal Son

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