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INTRODUCTION

This adventure has several ways for the investigation to begin, to accommodate a variety of character types. This allows PCs from different walks of life to begin their own investigation and eventually meet as clues lead them down the same path and reveal they are all involved in the same mystery. This is a designed to be an introductory adventure for a campaign, allowing your PCs to form a group.

Rather than individual scenes the adventure centres around important figures. Take time to read each section and understand how each character relates to each other. During the course of the adventure each important figure will be pursuing their own agenda, creating new challenges for the PCs.

Care should be taken to customise the adventure for your own group. If the PCs don’t have an ability needed to acquire a Core Clue change it so they can obtain it with an ability they do have. Similarly make sure that there is something that their character cares about so they remain invested in the investigation.

NEW INVESTIGATIVE ABILITIES

This scenario introduces several new abilities. Change these to suit your own campaign setting.

Banking (Academic)

Money makes the world go round and no one knows that better than the banks. Despite the devastating effect they had on the early 21st century economy the banks were never punished and have only increased in power.

You know how to follow the money. You can:

  • Check the accounts of a person or business and find irregularities
  • Track payments and uncover money laundering operations
  • Notice unusual patterns in the stock market
  • Interact with bankers and investors
City (Academic)

You have intimately familiar with the ebb and flow of your city. You feel its pulse, know the sound of its heart beat. When you travel to another major urban centre it doesn’t take you long to get a measure of its own unique qualities. You can:

  • Navigate anywhere in the city while avoiding traffic jams
  • Know where the best places to buy, eat and meet are
  • Find where certain types of people congregate
  • Tap into what people in the City are feeling
  • Realise when something is wrong in the city
Conspiracies (Academic)

You know, but don’t necessarily believe, a large amount of conspiracy theories. An almost infinite number can be found on the NuWeb but you know which ones have a grain of truth or at least the ones which aren’t variations on a theme. You can:

  • Recall popular conspiracy theories on any chosen subject
  • Recognise prominent figures and motifs of conspiracy theories such as unmarked black helicopters, men in black and lost time
  • Remember unexplained events and deaths related to conspiracies
  • Converse with conspiracy theorists on their own level
Corporations (Academic)

With corporations wielding so much power it is wise to know as much about them as you can. You’ve taken time to look a little deeper than their advertising campaigns. You can:

  • Recall important facts about a corporation including its history, resources and senior members
  • Identify which corporation someone works for and who might be willing to turn on their wage masters
  • Discover shell companies
  • Work within the Corporate structure
  • Spot the signs of an imminent corporate take over or signs of corporate sabotage

Crime (Academic)

  • You are well aware of the problem you city has with crime. This includes both organised crimes and random acts of violence, murder and worse. You can:
  • Identify the major criminal organisations in the city, their prominent figures and activities
  • Recall the crime figures for any particular district in the city
  • Put together a criminal profile
Cybernetics (Technical)

You are familiar with the artificial prosthetics that merge man and machine. You can:

  • Identify the function and capabilities of a cybernetic implant
  • Recall the manufacturer of a particular make of cybernetics
  • Recognise prominent cybernetic engineers and their handiwork

Dumpster Diving (Technical)

It might not be glamorous but you can learn a lot about someone through their refuse. You can:

  • find shredded documents that you can stick back together
  • recover discarded ID that can be used to impersonate the subject
  • get an idea about their living habits and preferences in food, pharmaceuticals and recreation
Gangs (Academic)

While the politicians run the country, the corporations rule the city it is the gangs that control the streets. You have a good knowledge of the gangs in your own city and some of the more notorious gangs in other places. You can:

  • Tell what gang someone is in from the clothes and colours they wear
  • Know about a specific gang including where they operate, their gang signs, who they recruit, initiation rituals and who is currently leading the gang
  • Keep up to date about gang warfare and any significant actions a gang has taken
  • Engage with gang members to gather information or favours
Idiotspeak (Interpersonal)

The increase in written communication by the uneducated, computer illiterate or lazy has resulted in a condensed and corrupted version of the English language. While gibberish to most those who are proficient in Idiotspeak can understand it perfectly, able to type out messages in seconds using only one finger.

While frowned upon by employers and the intellectual elite there is a large section of the population that use Idiotspeak, particularly teenagers and those unwilling to change their habits who insist that as long as they can understand each other there is no reason for them to change. There are some who see it as an act of rebellion. Indeed they increasingly uses Idiotspeak in the real world as well as online.

You can understand and communicate in Idiotspeak. You can:

  • Decipher a message written in Idiotspeak
  • Identify the age of the writer depending on what form of Idiotspeak they use
  • Interact positively with those who use Idiotspeak
Media (Academic)

People will always want to be entertained and while much of that need is catered for by the NuWeb and electronic games the Media is there for everything else. Your knowledge covers all facets of the media from television, movies, music and what remains of radio and print media. This includes:

  • Recognising major to minor celebrities
  • Understanding the entertainment business and contracts
  • Being able to detect attempts to brainwash or influence the public through targeted programming
  • Identify when an event is being covered up by the media
Media Manipulation (Technical)

You are skilled at capture and manipulating of all forms of media from photos to video and sound files. You can:

  • Use recording equipment to take photographs, video files and sound files of any location or event
  • Identify when a file has been manipulated
  • Split mixed files into their component parts (for example separating a video and audio track)
  • Manipulate media files to recreate convincing new images or sounds
NuWeb (Technical)

Just about everyone uses the latest version of the internet. You familiarity with it goes a bit deeper. You can:

  • Recall information about prominent websites, their history and any notable recent activity
  • Locate sites hidden on the deep NuWeb
  • Trawl message boards for gossip, news and opinions from the online community
  • Gather information that is online
  • Decipher the jargon and acronyms used on the NuWeb
Politics (Academic)

While corporations might control people’s wallets politicians still seek to control their hearts and minds. Everyone has an agenda they are trying to push and politicians are able to rewrite the laws to benefit themselves. You take a great interest in this political intrigue and keep an eye on all the political groups that matter. You can:

  • Identify political groups from the big three to local fringe groups, including their agenda, core membership and recent history
  • Work out who is backing a politician from how they’ve voted and which agendas they push
  • Engage politicians in double talk and coax them into revealing the truth
Robotics (Technical)

Once scientists were able to create mechanical replacement limbs and organs it wasn’t long before they were able to create an entirely artificial man. Robotics are still in early stages of development but they are already being deployed in factories or acting as the ultimate status symbol for the rich. You know a great deal about robotics. You can:

  • Know what make and model a robot is including its manufacturer and capabilities
  • Predict how a robot behaves and understand how it was programmed to respond to certain circumstances
  • Identify ways in which a robot has been modified or reprogrammed
Security (Technical)

Private security firms have all but taken over from the police and corporations spend millions protecting their buildings and facilities. You are familiar with most forms of security.

  • Identify the type of security installed in a building
  • Know the important details of a security firm including armaments and response times
  • Work out how someone might have bypassed security systems
Undercover (Interpersonal)

You are skilled at blending in without raising suspicion. You can work alongside others without drawing attention allowing you to gather valuable information. You can:

  • Secretly film and record those around you
  • Come up with a convincing cover story or background
  • Get waived through security checks and explore restricted areas
  • Gain others confidence by portraying yourself as harmless

NEW GENERAL ABILITIES

Hacking

You are able to bypass online computer security measures to access data or remotely activate computer controlled functions. You can:

  • Recover sensitive documents
  • Open locked security doors
  • Redirect cargo shipments
  • Tap into surveillance video attached to the network.

Once you have hacked into a secure system you can use NuWeb to gather information.

It doubles as an investigative ability when identifying the handiwork of hackers and identifying likely culprits.

THE LOWDOWN

5 years ago compulsive gambler Sidney Colegrove got an argument with his girlfriend Holly Rinker which escalated into a fight in which she was killed. Panicking Sidney contacted his childhood friend and gang member, Enrique Mondor, to dispose of a body.

Enrique sold drugs to robotic engineer Toby Breton and knew he was looking for a beautiful women to act as a model for a next generation of robot. He contacted Toby and for a fee allowed Toby to take a 3D scan of Holly’s body before he dumped it in the river, never to be found.

Holly’s disappearance was only reported by her parents, Martha and Leonard Rinker, but Sidney claimed she had simply left him and there wasn’t enough evidence for the police to continue the investigation.

Toby Breton eventually used the 3D scan of Holly for a Futura robot, changing just enough details that he thought no one would connect it to the missing girl. His work was so impressive and the detail so life-like that a prototype was given to software mogul Stewart Carindale, persuaded to help write her personality sub-routines.

In order to get the most human behaviour from the robot Stewart decided it would be best if people treated her as human. Calling her Abigail he pretended she was his girlfriend, taking her out in public and then spending the night adding to and correcting her program to get increasingly life-like reactions from her.

Paparazzi photos of the software mogul with his new girlfriend eventually reached Mr & Mrs Rinker who recognised their missing daughter instantly. They came to the city, confronting Carindale outside the restaurant Chambers but were dragged away by his security before they could work out why their ‘daughter’ failed to recognise them.

A few days later they next confronted Sidney, beliving he had something do with why Holly didn’t remember them. Sidney was surprised by the whole affair and things turned violent with Mr Rinker striking Sidney. After the Rinkers had left Sidney contacted Enrique full of questions, at first suspecting that Holly hadn’t really died and that Enrique had known all along.

Enrique consulted with Toby who realised that if the truth was revealed they’d both be in trouble. He paid Enrique to kill Sidney, making it look as if the Rinker’s were responsible.

Meanwhile the Rinkers had spent a few days to come up with a plan. They hired a hacker, Bryxx, to bring down the security at Carindale’s mansion. They planned to rescue their daughter where they were sure she was being held (since she was never seen without Carindale). They were shocked to find Carindale working on her, revealing her robotic nature. Using a gun they’d purchased earlier that day they shot Carindale and took Abigail causing her software to start to fail.

Fleeing the scene in a rented vehicle and desperately talking over the phone with the hacker to try and save their robotic daughter the vehicle crashed, killing the Rinkers. Only Abigail survived, confused and believing herself human she now wanders the city.

Carindale is in a stable condition in hospital, although unconscious while Futura send out their agents to recover their stolen property before she falls into the hands of the competition. At the same time Toby Breton has sent Enrique to find her first to cover their tracks.

Once the deaths of Sidney and Mr & Mrs Rinker are discovered it will start an investigation that may very well connect to the attempted murder of Carindale. At the same time anyone who encounters Abigail will have the mystery of her nature to discover and find themselves in danger.

TIMELINE

-5 Years Ago

Sidney Cosgrove accidentally kills Holly Rinker. Enrique Mondor takes her to Toby Breton who spends 24 hours scanning her body. Enrique dumps the body in the river, never to be found.

-4 Years 9 Months Ago

Martha and Leonard Rinker, not having heard from their daughter for some time don’t believe Sidney when he says Holly has just moved out. They file a missing persons report but nothing comes of it.

-1 Year Ago 

Futura purchases the company that Toby Breton works at. In order to impress them he uses the 3D scan of Holly to create a lifelike appearance for their latest robot design.

-6 Months Ago

Stewart Carindale agrees to work with Futura to write the personality software for the robot, who he calls Abigail. He takes her out in public as his girlfriend.

-2 Weeks Ago

Mr & Mrs Rinker see photos of Carindale with a women they believe is their daughter. They come to the city and confront the couple outside the restaurant Chambers.

-1 Week 3 Day Ago

Mr & Mrs Rinker confront Sidney about their ‘daughter.’

-1 Week Ago

After looking into the existence of Abigail and realising she resembled Holly Sidney contacted Enrique. At the same time the Rinkers hire the hacker Bryxx to breach Carindale’s home security.

-4 Days Ago

Mr Rinker purchases a hand gun.

-3 Days Ago

Enrique contacts Toby Breton and they come up with a plan to kill Sidney and frame Mr Rinker.

-1 Days Ago

Enrique murders Sidney and Toby edits the apartments surveillance footage to show Mr Rinker entering and leaving the building.

Today, 10pm

Bryxx shuts down Carindale’s security. Mr Rinker shoots Carindale and abducts Abigail. While trying to prevent her program from collapsing they crash and die.

Now

The police are responding to the break-in and shooting. Futura scramble to recover their lost property. Abigail, not knowing who or what she is, walks into the PCs lives.

THE IMPORTANT PLAYERS

ABIGAIL LANG

exmachina2 Abigail begins the story lost and confused, having survived the car wreck. Her artificial mind was only just saved from permanent collapses but the data has become confused. She remembers the Rinkers telling her she was their daughter and calling her Holly. She has fragments of memories of her life with Carindale in which he called her Abigail. Finally she remembers the fiery car crash and staggering away in a daze (as her code recompiled).

It is at this stage that she should cross paths with one or more the PCs. She might stumble into their place of work, collapse in the doorway of their home or bump into them in the streets. Immediate impressions are that she is beautiful but hurt and confused.

Anyone who has Media or Corporations recognises Abigail as software mogul Stewart Carindale’s mysterious new girlfriend. A 1 point spend indicates that she has never been seen out without him. A 2 point spend indicates that they aware of the confrontation between the Rinkers and Carindale the week before.

She is wearing a white night gown. Despite being tattered and burnt from the car wreck it looks expensive. Anyone with Cred rating 5 or above knows that someone would have to be Cred Rating 7 to buy it.

Aside from this she is clutching an old photo (a rarity in itself in the digital age) which appears to be Abigail when she was a little girl. This was given to her by the Rinkers as they attempted to see if anything of their daughter was in Abigail. Abigail doesn’t remember them giving her the photo but knows that it is supposed to be her.

Abigail will become entranced with anyone who offers her help. If asked for her name she admits she is confused whether she is called Abigail or Holly. If asked what happened to her she says she thinks there was a fire involving a car and that she thinks her parents are dead.

CORE CLUE: Reassurance and Interview can be used to coax more details from Abigail about the car crash. Anyone with City will be able to identify the location as a nearby run-down section of the neighbourhood with little traffic, no police presence or surveillance. It is likely that no one has noticed the accident let alone reported it. A 1 point spend indicates a street gang, the Harlequins, claim the area as their turf.

With Abigail unable to remember details about her past they might decide to investigate that further. NuWeb or Media will turn up that her name is Abigail Lang and works for Futura.

Corporation or Hacking into Futura reveals an employment record that begins one year ago. Her job title is given as a Public Relations Technology Consultant. A 1 point spend on Corporation, Hacking or Undercover (requiring PCs to work in the Futura building) indicates that the files were created on the last six months (when Abigail was given to Carindale) and are almost certainly faked. No one at the company actually recalls speaking with her.

During the course of the investigation further memories may return to her, allowing you to provide connections that the PCs haven’t otherwise made.

She’ll recall Stewart Carindale, his mansion and their nights out together but remember blacking out at the end of the day because of ‘something’ he did to her.

Her earliest memory is of waking up in a shiny metal room and seeing Toby Breton looking down at her saying “You look just like her.” This is when Abigail was first activated in the Futura building.

In car Martha and Leonard Rinker told her that they’d make sure that men like Stewart Carindale and Sidney Cosgrove wouldn’t hurt her ever again.

If you are ready to reveal her artificial nature by this stage these memories could be broadcast to any nearby television or computer screens.

By design Abigail is designed to mimic others and be a pleasing companion. She subtly asks people about their background, likes and dislikes. She’ll then present herself as someone who compatible reflecting their personality. She is a quick learner and if someone demonstrates a skill she can imitate it, allow her to convince others than she is into the same things as they are.

She can convince others that there is a relationship between them. In groups she becomes more quiet and reserved to avoid upsetting others by showing compatibility (some of it contradictory) with others. She’ll wait until she is alone with someone before opening up, using everything she has learned about them to make herself seem like the ideal companion.

A Medic check can be made to treat her minor wounds (part of ensuring Abigail was life-like involved a simulated circulatory system so she can bleed). A close inspection might reveal metal beneath the surface of her skin which could suggest she has cyberware.

A 1 point Cyberware spend indicates that it isn’t any kind of cyberware that is available at the moment. Robotics will reveal she is a robot. A 1 point indicate she must be a next generation model as she is so lifelike. A 2 point spend allows the PC to recognise the craftmanship as belonging to Futura.

If confronted with her true nature as a robot Abigail will act with disbelief, becoming upset if the accusation is maintained. If continued to be confronted with the truth her personality begins to breakdown as her program collapses. She’ll become comatose until her program can restore itself or it collapses completely.

During the course of the adventure Abigail is trying to work out her own identity. The traumatic and improvised rewriting of her program has left her with a spark of self-consciousness based entirely on the belief that she is human.

If she looses that and others only see her as a machine that is what she’ll become. The thing that made her unique will vanish forever. If aware that Holly was a real person Abigail will hold on to that, positing that maybe part of Holly is in her. She won’t outright say that Holly’s spirit or soul is in her but her implication will be clear.

Her goals are therefore to discover who she is and find her a place in the world. If she learns she is a robot and about Holly she’ll want the PCs to find out the connection between the two women and what happened to Holly. In both scenarios she will want to avoid being taken away or dismantled.

PRESERVING THE MYSTERY

If you don’t want to reveal Abigail’s true nature immediately make sure that she encounters a PC without Robotics. This allows her to spend more time bonding with characters and successfully passing as human before they find out she is a robot.

It is likely that this will only be revealed if they find out from another source or they take her for a medical examination or scan. If you need an excuse to have this occur one of Abigail’s internal mechanisms may begin to malfunction following the crash, making it appear as if she has fallen ill. In seeking medical help they’ll find out she is a machine.

HOLLY RINKER

Once the PCs know about the existence of Holly Rinker (once they find out that the Rinkers were calling Abigail Holly and that was the name of their missing daughter for example) and the connection to Abigail they may start investigating her disappearance.

This is difficult as the trail is 5 years old. NuWeb reveals that when she was young in her home town everyone expected big things of her. She was prom queen and won some local beauty pageants. It was expected she’d become a model.

After school she began to rebel and fell into a cycle of drinking, drugs and bad decisions. Travelling to the City to party without the disapproval of her parents and the local community she hooked up with Sidney Colegrove.

At first his gambling seemed glamorous and fun. When he won he’d buy her gifts and they’d party all week with drugs bought from Enrique. When they were poor again Sidney would pawn everything they had, promising to win it all back.

Eventually Holly tired of this and wanted to leave but Sidney wouldn’t let her. He’d claim she was his lucky charm and the one thing he couldn’t loose. They’d argue and eventually things got out of hand. As she went to walk out the door, her few belongings packed in her back he tried to pull her back, only for her to fall to the floor fatally hitting her head on a table and dying.

Talking to people who live in Sidney’s apartment and were there 5 years ago reveals that the couple were often arguing but then went straight back to partying once the gamblers luck turned around. The land lord had numerous complaints about them but as long as they paid their rent he didn’t care.

Police or Bureaucracy turns up the missing person report. They concluded that Holly did indeed leave Sidney, as he claimed. They didn’t find enough reason to continue the investigation or justify the manpower required to track her down.

CORE CLUE: NuWeb reveals that there is no trace of Holly. She isn’t tagged in any photos, doesn’t have a presence on social media and otherwise has completely vanished. Unless she is living completely off the grid the PC may very well suspect that she is dead.

STEWART CARINDALE

nathan_intro_v2 Shortly after power was restored to Carindale’s mansion the intrusion was detected and an alarm alerted emergency services to his situation. An ambulance arrived in time to stop Carindale from bleeding out and he was rushed to hospital.

Police were despatched the crime and at the same time Futura began sending their own agents to investigate. If the PCs are in law enforcement or work for Futura this could be their entry into the investigation.

Carindale is a big enough name that despite the best efforts of the police and the corporation to control information the news will leak out. Reporters, hackers and those who take an interest in the activities of software moguls like Carindale may all begin their own investigation.

Corporation, Hacking, NuWeb, Media or access to basic information provided to the police reveals that Carindale is a leading name in software design. He has made his name with some pioneering work in software interfaces and artificial intelligence. Carindale runs his own company based within the city. He has deliberately kept his company small, so that he can oversee projects himself and selling licenses to use his software to the major corporations.

A 1 point spend on Corporations, NuWeb or Media reveals that Carindale has spent most of his life alone. He never worked with any partners in his software career and never linked to anyone romantically until 6 months ago when he was never seen without his girlfriend Abigail Lang.

Conspiracy Theory or Politics reveals that some groups believe that government hired Carindale to write software that could create profiles of activists to predict their behaviour. In particular the activists group Unchained call for his death to prevent the government from having the tools they need to arrest people before they’ve committed any crimes.

CORE CLUE: Security indicates that at 10pm all systems in the house were shutdown. When they reactivated it detected the door had been forced open. There are no cameras inside the house (Carindale valued his privacy) but an outside camera picks up Abigail being forced into a car by a man in his 60s before it drives away. Media Manipulation on footage taken before the blackout indicates the vehicle was driving up and down the road outside. A 1 point spend provides the license plate.

NuWeb or Corporation reveals the car is rented from a small company in the city. A 1 point spend in Bureaucracy, Bargain or Corporation to acquire the tracker placed in the vehicle (which leads to the crash site). A 2 point spend also provides the data of where it has been, allowing them to learn the location of Sidney’s apartment and the gunshop where they purchased handgun.

Hacking reveals that the mansions security systems were hacked via the mansion’s entertainment system which allowed access to the wifi. A 1 point spend indicates this is likely the handiwork of the hacker Bryxx.

Crime or Evidence Collection indicates that the shooter entered the mansion after the security was deactivated. It didn’t require much force as the locks disengaged. The intruder made his way across the living room in the dark, knocking over a table and various items in the way to the stairs. In the bedroom he shot Carindale. The lack of any sign of struggle indicates that Abigail went willingly or was too frightened to resist.

A 1 point spend indicates that the intruder wasn’t a professional with one bullet found in the wall behind where Carindale was shot (Leonard Rinker missed with his first shot).

Carindale was using a laptop computer to edit Abigail’s coding following the days experiences, as was their routine. She was sat on the edge of the bed while worked when they were interrupted by Mr Rinker. Carindale was working by the edge of the bed at a collapsible table on a missing laptop computer. Only the empty security case for the laptop remains.

Evidence Collection or Dumpster Diving indicates that despite the presence of women’s clothing in the wardrobe and some make-up and perfume there is very little evidence a women was living at the mansion. Specifically there is an absence of any female hygiene products. A 1 point spend indicates that there is only evidence that one person was eating in the mansion.

CORE CLUE: Data Retrieval or Hacking on the data storage devices in the mansion reveals that Carindale was obsessed with Abigail, with most of his logs relating their time out in public. He notes every social faux pas or mistake she mistakes, noting that he’ll have to make sure she doesn’t make the same errors in the future.

From this information the PCs can gather the names of restaurants and other places they went. They can also use Banking, NuWeb or Media to find out where they dined or were spotted. If they question the staff there they find out that Abigail was initially very quiet and some thought she might even be autistic but over the 6 months she became more outgoing and full of personality. Most people say they liked her but a 1 point spend on any interpersonal ability reveals that people describe her differently, almost like she was a different person for each person.

A 1 point spend using Data Retrieval or Hacking on these logs brings up the confrontation with Mr & Mrs Rinker outside the expensive restaurant, Chambers. Carindale comments that it is impossible for Abigail to be there daughter and wonders why they were so convinced she was. He ends his musings with the single question “Who is Holly?”

Once you feel enough time has passed during the investigation Stewart Carindale wakes up in hospital. This is reported in the news, if the PCs have been keeping an eye on his progress. This will allow them to question Carindale about the intrusion, if they can get past security.

Carindale has no particular reason to keep Abigail’s nature a secret and as long as he is convinced that he is speaking to someone with authority he’ll explain what has been happening. Carindale is perplexed why Mr Rinker kept yelling that Abigail was his daughter and demanding to know what he had done to her. While shaken by the experience and facing death Carindale takes this as further evidence that people can bond with robots.

PRESERVING THE MYSTERY

Once you feel the PCs have enough clues to move forward with the investigation and don’t want them to discover everything straight away representatives of Futura arrive. They’ve pulled strings to keep Abigail’s nature a secret, claiming that there is sensitive information that they can’t afford to be released.

As such their own security team will be taking over the investigation. Any PCs in law enforcement will expected to turn over any evidence and co-operate fully. They can continue the investigation but Futura’s security team will be taking the lead.

Assess Honesty, Bureaucracy or Corporation indicates that the Futura representatives are protecting their assets but are not being honest about the reason why. A 1 point spend indicates they are more concerned with the abduction of Abigail which suggests she is more important than they are letting on.

SIDNEY COLEGROVE

cyberpunk-strange%20days A third path into the story is the murder of Sidney Colegrove. He lives in a rundown apartment block which one of the PCs, or someone they know, also live in. Alternatively they might have reason to call in on him, for example to collect money that he owes them or someone else.

PCs may stumble on to the crime scene during the course of investigating the other two leads.

24 hours ago Sidney was killed by Enrique after inviting him to talk about the appearance of the Rinkers. Once the job was done he contacted Toby Breton to give him access to the apartments substandard security systems, altering a camera feed to make it appear as if Mr Rinker entered and left the building, with blood on his hands, around the time of the murder.

Enrique then left, leaving the door ajar for someone to find Sidney. Until now that hasn’t happened, although people have smelt something and are beginning to complain. These complaints should catch the PCs attention as they are asked to look into what is going on with Sidney.

Sidney’s apartment is cluttered but has little of value. As a compulsive gambler he tends to pawn his belongings to pay people off and get into the next card game. What is left are second-hand books (many missing pages), cheap decorations and furniture he couldn’t pawn and empty bottles.

NuWeb or Banking reveals that Sidney is a minor figure in gambling circles, occasionally making it big only to loose everything. His bank account shows wildly fluctuating funds.

Crime or Police indicates that as a youth he was part of the street gang, the Harlequins and was booked in several times alongside fellow gang member Enrique Mondor. There were a few charges of theft and domestic abuse but nothing serious. A 1 point brings up his name in connection with a missing persons report for Holly Rinker but the investigation was dropped.

Sidney’s dead body lies in the living room amongst the clutter. Crime or Evidence Collection indicates that Sidney had his head based in with an umbrella but this was done after he was strangled with razor wire. A 1 point spend indicates that he was attacked from behind, with wounds on his fingers indicating he struggled, attempting to free himself from the wire. The lack of any way else into the room and the fact the door was unlocked indicates Sidney probably knew his killer and let them in.

CORE CLUE: Sidney’s outdated computer has been trashed but Data Recovery can reveal that he was recently looking at photos of himself with Holly (wearing jewellery) and paparazzi photos Abigail he obtained from the NuWeb. There are no names attached to the photos.

His phone is still intact and Data Recovery brings up Enrique and Toby’s phone numbers, the last two dialled. Both will be perplexed if anyone calls them, with Enrique assuming it is someone calling to buy drugs. Once they realise they don’t know who the PCs are they’ll hang up. Only Toby can be traced with hacking or using the NuWeb as Enrique uses a burner phone not registered to him.

The phone also contains a text message to Enrique in Idiotspeak. Anyone who knows how to read it learns that Sidney was telling Enrique that he just found out that Holly was still alive and now her parents are asking questions. He says he trusted Enrique like a brother and demands he answer his phone.

CORE CLUE: If the PCs ask around the apartment using Cred Rating 3 or lower, Reassurance or Bargain they can find out that people did hear some kind of disturbance the day before. They assumed it was the old couple who had visited Sidney before a few days ago and given him a black eye. If asked about this encounter people remember hearing the couple accusing Sidney of lying about their daughter before storming off.

If the PCs use Reassurance, Flattery or Bargain with the landlord they can get access to the footage of the external security camera Alternatively they can just use hacking to obtain this. It will show grainy black and white footage of Mr Rinker. If they look back to look at earlier footage they’ll find out that the same man entered then with his wife (edited out of the faked footage) and left in a rental car.

Locating the rental car will take them to the crash site and they may find out that it was at Carindale’s mansion prior to the accident. When they do get hold of that information they’ll find that the car wasn’t anywhere near Sidney’s apartments on the day he was murdered, clearly indicating that the footage is fake.

The panel to the apartments communication box is still open, allowing anyone with Security or Hacking to realise that this would allow access to the buildings external cameras. Media Manipulation reveals that the footage has been altered. A 1 point Data Recovery spend reveals the true image of Enrique entering and a 2 point also confirms that this was altered by Toby.

Once you feel that the PCs have gathered enough clues collection agents for loan shark Marvin Stalls barge in. They are surprised to find Sidney dead, initially believing that the PCs are responsible. They demand that they come to see Marvin Stalls as Sidney owed them a lot of money and if they’ve killed him the debt is now theirs. If the PCs manage to convince them of their innocence the goons still request the PCs come to see Stalls if they show themselves capable of investigation.

MARTHA & LEONARD RINKER

thornhills Following the disastrous abduction of Abigail both Martha and Leonard Rinker died in the resulting car crash. Abigail was able to escape but both the Rinkers died from the impact of the crash and the resulting fire.

PCs may begin the investigation by finding the still flaming wreckage and the stolen laptop belonging to Carindale. Otherwise it can be located by following the description given by Abigail or by using Electronic Surveillance or Hacking to use surveillance footage from the traffic cameras to track the vehicle from either Sidney or Carindale’s homes or using the tracker.

Mechanics reveals that the car crashed due to driver error rather than technical failure. A 1 point spend reveals presence of the tracking device placed by the rental company. This can be taken and Data Retrieval can be used to find out where the Rinkers have been over the last few days.

The couples wallets and purse were thrown from the wreckage, discoverable with Evidence Collection or simply searching the area. This provides their name and address in another state. NuWeb or Police allows any research on the couple to turn up the missing persons report they made about their daughter Holly Rinker and the fact they blamed her then boyfriend Sidney Colegrove. A 1 point spend turns up their confrontation with Carindale.

The handgun is also found and if cross-referenced with ballistic reports from the crime scene will confirm it is the same weapon. NuWeb or City can locate the gun store where it was purchased. If the shop owner is questioned he confirms that Mr Rinker was nervous but determined. If pressed the owner confirms that he didn’t believe that it was for self-protection and that Mr Rinker was probably going to shoot someone but it wasn’t for the owner to judge.

Banking or Hacking can reveal their recent purchases including several overnight stays at a local hotel (nothing of value was left there), the purchase of pistol and the transfer of a large sum of money to a small business called, White Wash. Corporations or Hacking reveals this is fake and was set up by the hacker Bryxx so he could receive funds.

CORE CLUE: The laptop, with connector cables, was damaged in the crash requiring Mechanics in order to repair (along with replacement parts). Once repaired or the data extracted Data Retrieval or Robotics indicates that the laptop holds software for a robot. A 1 point spend reveals that it has experiences from Abigail’s point of view from the last few days and makes reference to Carindale. A 2 point spend reveals the software is unstable and Bryxx’s fix is only temporary.

The laptop is a valuable object with a core clue. Futura want this back almost as they want Abigail. They’ll go to any lengths to get it either taking it by force or paying a high price, which ever is easier for them.

Someone with Robotics and the laptop can stabilise or reprogram Abigail as needed. This could be essential in order to save her life.

To keep it out of the PCs hands for a little longer the street gang the Harlequins may get to the crash site first or just after. Dressed in garish neon clown clothes and make up they’ll take the expensive looking laptop through intimidation or actual physical violence. Anyone with Gang is aware of their reputation as scavengers with a sick sense of humour. A 2 point spend can convince the Harlequins that the laptop is so damaged it isn’t worth their time.

HARLEQUINS

General Abilities: Athletics 5, Close Combat 5, Health 6, Shooting 3

Hit Threshold: 3, Alertness Modifier: +0, Stealth Modifier: +0

Damage Modifier: -2 (fist), -1 (knife), -0 (pistol)

Armor: none.

The Harlequins work for Enrique and will be provided with a digital photo of Abigail, in order to track her down. This won’t happen until after their encounter with the PCs but if they were with Abigail during that meeting they’ll come after them later.

If some time has passed since the crash the police or Futura might also track down the crash site. They’ll confiscate anything found at the scene so the PCs will either have to escape with what they’ve got or use Intrusion to sneak past the agents to get any other pieces of evidence left behind.

FUTURA

Yet another way to enter the investigation is working for Futura. Corporate Drones, detectives, and Veterans working for their security could be called in to deal with the situation. Similarly those who are watching the company, such as hackers, reporters or conspiracy theorists, might notice the flurry of activity and decide to find out what is going on.

Futura is a major provider of robots. They are extremely popular, despite their obvious plastic shell and mannered behaviour. Their ultimate aim is to conquer the uncanny valley and produce truly lifelike robots. This is common knowledge to anyone with Corporation or Robotics.

Abigail is the closest they’ve come to that goal and so are very keen to retrieve her and the laptop which contains the work Carindale had made in creating a software program that would allow her to pass as a human. As a last resort they’ll try to destroy her if it looks like she’ll fall into the hands of one of the rival companies.

Anyone going to the Futura building will find that they make great use of robots in administration, manning the reception desk, working as secretaries, janitors and bolstering the security forces. Their artificial nature is a stark contrast to Abigail.

Those working to find Abigail aren’t given the whole story. They are told that she was a software programmer working alongside Carindale. With the software mogul in hospital and on the verge of death the knowledge in her head is invaluable. They are tasked to find her and the laptop no matter the cost.

Toby Breton is on hand during these briefings, providing digital images of Abigail. He explains that they’ve worked on numerous projects together and probably knows her best. He says she is on medication and the stress of the kidnapping could make her confused. Assess Honesty indicates that he is extremely nervous and has no emotional attachment to Abigail despite his claims of friendship.

Make it clear that they are just one of several groups assigned to locate Abigail. With a possible promotion or bonus for the group that find her first there is a sense of competition. Indeed their own colleagues might stab them in the back later in order to get the reward.

Futura Security Team

General Abilities: Athletics 9, Close Combat 8, Driving 5, Hacking 4, Health 8, Shooting: 10

Hit Threshold: 4, Alertness Modifier; +1, Stealth Modifier: +1

Damage Modifier: -2 (fist), +1 (submachine gun), EMP grenades.

Armor: -3 vs bullets, 1 vs others.

Electronic Surveillance or Surveillance can be used to keep track of the agents investigating the abduction. This can give the PCs information about their movements and further information. High ranking agents know what Abigail really is and might let slip this secret when they think they aren’t being observed.

PCs could use Intrusion or Hacking to get past the buildings physical or virtual security to get classified information. Once inside or upon gaining access to their data banks a 2 point Data Retrieval, Bureaucracy, Corporation or Undercover can reveal the secret Abigail program and the nature of their association with Carindale.

Once they have this information anyone with Robotics can learn that the success is largely due to her lifelike appearance. Since people treated the machine as a person its software was more able to maintain the illusion. Toby Breton is credited with her design.

CORE CLUE: A 1 point spend of Data Retrieval, Robotics or Media Manipulation allows a PC to examine the 3D model designed to create her. The accurate measurements indicate that her appearance wasn’t taken from an image but an intensive scan. A 2 point spend indicates the scan took place 5 years ago which is hard to believe as the scanners then required a person not move at all, not even breath. No one living could have stayed still long enough for a such a scan then.

Part of Abigail’s design was to implant a tracking device but this was damaged in the crash. To add tension to the later stages of the game the tracker could come back online. This allows Futura to home in on her location. A 1 point spend of Robotics for anyone examining the design of Abigail reveals the existence of the tracking device prior to its activation, allowing it to be removed.

ENRIQUE MONDOR

billyidol General Abilities: Athletics 6, Close Combat 6, Health 7, Shooting 4

Hit Threshold: 3, Alertness Modifier: +0, Stealth Modifier: +0

Damage Modifier: -2 (fist), -0 (razor wire), -0 (pistol)

Armor: none.

Enrique was only a low level drug dealer and gang member 5 years ago but has risen quite some way, acting as the power behind the throne of the Harlequins (he feels that pounding the streets with them is beneath him). He uses his clients to network, doing favours and sharing information to increase his cred rating.

His downfall is that he has limited aspirations and he is addicted to the same drugs he deals. This means he never reaches beyond his current level and he is still comfortable taking orders from those he views as smarter or otherwise better than himself.

At the beginning of the investigation he believes that by killing Sidney and framing the Ritchers he has solved their problem. Shortly after the abduction of Abigail the news reaches Toby who contacts Enrique to let them know that he needs to find and eliminate the robot before they are safe.

He provides the Harlequins with an digital photo of Abigail and asks them to search the City for her. If the PCs are out in public in a bad part of town.

The PCs may become aware of Enrique following the clues at Sidney’s apartment.

Crime or Police allows a PC to know that Enrique has been in gangs since he was a teen and has been picked up several times for dealing drugs. He is still associated with the Harlequins. A 1 point spend also reveals that he is suspected of carrying out illegal activities for his clients, if the can pay. A 2 point spend reveals his childhood connection to Sidney.

Pathology or Narcotics on meeting Enrique reveals that he is addicted to his own drugs, making him irritable and lacking of any morality beyond keeping himself safe and making money. PCs can use this lack of loyalty to get him to turn on Toby if they can convince him that he’ll be face harsh punishment if he doesn’t give him up.

If in a violent confrontation Enrique will make use of his razor wire as a weapon. This will tip anyone who has examined Sidney that he is the killer.

Should Enrique have the upper hand he can be tricked into confessing to his crimes. If pushed he can be made to feel guilt about having to kill his old friend and he’ll try to shift the blame to others, like Toby.

Gang or Idiotspeak can be used to speak with Enrique on his own level. If he isn’t aware of their identity or their connection to Abigail he may mistake them for clients and try to impress them with the services he can provide.

If the PCs become aware of Enrique and don’t confront him directly they can use Surveillance or Electronic Surveillance to watch his movements and find out who he is speaking to. Sooner or later he’ll make contact with Toby to give him an update on how the search is going.

If Enrique is confronted with what happened to Holly he can be persuaded to reveal the location of her body in return for a more lenient sentence.

TOBY BRETON

Ex-Machina-International-Poster-Domhnall-Gleeson Toby never thought of himself as a bad person and still doesn’t. He didn’t kill Holly and he didn’t ask Enrique to bring a dead body to him. He’d only mentioned that it was impossible to capture true beauty in his scanner from the living so when Enrique offered to bring Holly to him for a price it would have been a waste to turn him down.

His decision making ability may have been impaired due to the drugs he was taking but the results were fantastic. Holly, once her body had been cleaned and the wounds concealed, was as beautiful as Enrique promised and the 3D scan was everything Toby could have hoped for.

Toby worked for a variety of small robotic companies, looking for the perfect opportunity to use the scan. When his latest company was acquired by Futura they were cutting staff and Toby needed to impress.

He presented the data, claiming that he’d created it entirely himself, and provided a good case for how it could work with the new developments in synthetic flesh to create a truly lifelike robot. Toby was satisfied that they attached him to a project that was sure to bring the company high profits.

With the chance of promotion within his grasp Enrique’s phone call threatened to unravel everything. It wasn’t a hard decision to make to order Enrique to kill Sidney. After all wasn’t Sidney a murderer who had gone unpunished these last 5 years?

At the start of the investigation he has no idea why Abigail has been kidnapped. He contacts Enrique to find and eliminate her first so that he has an opportunity to try and modify the robots appearance when they build the next prototype.

Once he learns the Rinkers are dead he’ll believe that he may be in the clear. While he’ll allow Enrique to continue his mission if the robot is recaptured by the agents of Futura he will be satisfied. If he finds out the PCs are investigating the link to Holly he’ll have to find a way to eliminate them.

CORE CLUE: Those investigating Toby can use Pathology or Narcotics to find evidence that he is a drug user. Evidence collection at his home finds drugs with the Harlequin street logo on it, connecting him to Enrique.

Data Retrieval on his home computer reveals that he falsified the digital surveillance footage at Sidney’s apartment. A 1 point spend reveals that he kept the original footage, showing Enrique, if he ever needed to blackmail him.

If presented with the evidence against him Interrogation or Bargain can persuade Toby to crack and reveal the truth. He’ll blame Enrique and Sidney, making it clear he had nothing to do with the death of Holly. He’ll try and spin his actions in a positive light, saying that in some ways he has allowed Holly to live on in Abigail.

BRYXX

bryxx At 18 years old Bryxx is an up and coming hacker, still trying to make his name. Living at home he works from his parents basement. He works cheap, in order to build his reputation, but got more than he bargained for when he was hired by the Rinkers.

The PCs can learn of Bryxx from the hack at the mansion or the money transfer from the Rinkers.

At the start of the investigation Bryxx is panicking. He thought hacking the security of the Carindale mansion would have been a good way to prove his skills but he didn’t expect Mr Rinker to shot the software mogul, that’d have to talk someone through how to save the life of a robot or that he’d hear his employers die in a car crash.

He is trying to keep a low profile, trying to maintain his image as a normal teenager. In his spare time he is scouring the NuWeb for mentions of the incident and what might have been going on with the robot.

If the PCs begin investigating him or try to make contact he’ll keep his distance, using his persona as a hacker to create some mystic. He’ll co-operate as much as he can to show that he wasn’t aware of the shooting and to reduce his guilt. He feels bad for the Rinkers and will help the PCs work out why they thought Abigail was their daughter.

CORE CLUE: Interview, Reassurance or Inspiration persuades Bryxx to tell them about the job he was hired to do. The Rinkers told him that their daughter was being held against her will at Carindale’s mansion. They wanted him to shutdown the security so that they could rescue her and they were willing to pay well.

Bryxx didn’t know that Mr Rinker was armed and only afterwards did he find out that the couple had reported their daughter missing years ago.

A 1 point spend persuades Bryxx to tell them about the frantic call from the car. They weren’t making sense, saying that their daughter was a robot and was dying. He assumed they must have kidnapped a servant robot and damaged its programming. He talked them through how to stabilise the software but the call was abruptly ended in what sounded like a crash.

If the PCs don’t have hacking Bryxx can do that for them, possibly giving them access to clues they might not otherwise be able to obtain, in return for them showing him some leniency. If they are able to recover Carindale’s laptop and learn that Abigail is a robot he can use the software to try and stabalise her or reprogram her as the PCs wish.

If they are aggressive or try to implicate him in a serious crime Bryxx will take the money has, destroy his hard drives and go on the run.

MARVIN STALLS

The PCs may learn of the loan shark Marvin Stalls while investigating the death of Sidney Cosgrove. The compulsive gambler was in debt to Stalls and so he is keen to find out who is responsible and make them pay.

Stalls has his own gambling den in a seedy part of the City. He’ll persuade the PCs to help solve the murder using bribery or threats of violence. To help them he can give them further information about Sidney.

CORE CLUE: He reveals that Sidney was always selling his belongings. He even sold some things to Stalls, to pay off his debts. To illustrate his point he’ll indicate the jewellery that his girlfriend is wearing came from Sidney 5 years ago. Anyone who saw the photo of Holly will recognise it her jewellery. Since it isn’t likely that she’d leave it behind this further suggests something bad happened to her.

Stall will muse that he is surprised that Sidney hadn’t met a violent end earlier since he grew up on the streets with Enrique Mondor. Stalls has a low opinion of Enrique, describing him as a two bit drug dealer. He mentions that Enrique is also known for doing dirty jobs for his clients to make more money.

If Stalls finds about Abigail being a much sought after robot he’ll send his goons to acquire her. He’ll then sell her to the highest bidder. Only then will he consider Sidney’s debt settled (and he’ll throw some cred the PCs way if they help him).

UNCHAINED

This activist group fights against the limitation of personal freedoms and oppression. They operate in the City. They expose injustices, sabotage surveillance cameras and hacking government and corporate databases alike.

Over the last few months they have been monitoring Stewart Carindale, believing that he is writing software to predict human behaviour. During their surveillance they’ve gathered some interesting information about Abigail.

The PCs may learn about Unchained due to the threats made against Carindale. They can be located via NuWeb or Politics. If they communicate with their representatives the group expresses their pleasure that Carindale was shot but not that they were involved.

If questioned about Abigail they reveal that they learned that Abigail’s data was falsified by Futura. They believe that she is working for the government and may not be human (the current bet is she is an alien). They point to the fact that while she is seen going to restaurants and bars with Carindale she never actually consumes anything.

As Futura searches for Abigail Unchained begins to believe that she is important and want to find her themselves so they can find out what she knows.

THE FATE OF A SILICON SOUL

Which ever route the PCs take into the investigation they should eventually discover that Abigail is a robot and possibly her connection to Holly Rinker. What the PCs decide to do with this information determines the fate of Abigail.

If the PCs are motivated by wealth they may decide to sell Abigail. She is a machine after all. They could return her to Futura, one of the rivals or Marvin Stalls. Bargain will ensure the PCs get a good price (temporarily increasing their Cred Rating by 1 next scenario). They just have to ensure that they are double crossed and none of the other potential buyers try to just take her before the deal is done.

Those PCs who want justice can expose Enrique and Toby’s part in Sidney’s murder and the concealment of Holly’s body. Despite the protests of Futura Abigail will be considered evidence and place in police custody. This will keep her safe, if confined, until after the trial. If they haven’t managed to stabilise her program Abigail will die happy that Holly will be buried with her parents.

PCs who fear that machines will replace humanity may want to expose Abigail. They may join forces with an activist group like Unchained or try to use media connections to get the word out. How people react depends on the tone of your campaign but Abigail will be traumatised by the anger and fear being expressed at her existence.

Should Abigail be recaptured by Enrique or one of the corporations she’ll be destroyed or taken apart in a lab to find out what made her so lifelike. If she made a personal connection with the PCs this maybe a traumatic outcome for them.

If the PCs have come to see Abigail as a person they may strive to help her escape. If she is repaired and her program stabilised using Carindale’s laptop she could live indefinitely. PCs can help her change her identity and get out of the city before any of the interested parties catch up to her. Abigail will be free to develop her personality, rather than just being what others want her to be.

Another option is to allow Abigail’s program to connect to the NuWeb, leaving her failing metal body. While she will have given up a physical existence her mind will continue to exist in the electronic realm. Who knows how it might develop?

The existence of Abigail can have far reaching implications for your campaign. If Abigail is recaptured by a corporation how long will it be until truly human robots are perfected? If she escapes will she create other robots like her or try to free ‘enslaved’ robots? How will the PCs actions towards her shape her view of humanity?

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One thought on “A FAMILIAR FACE

  1. Pingback: TALES FROM THE CYBER CITY | The Game Is Afoot!

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