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Old 06-26-2017, 12:30 PM   #1
L.J.Steele
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Default Some help with Timewatch's Free RPG day Font of Knowledge

SPOILERS AHEAD for this adventure.

I am planning on running Font of Knowledge for my group next month -- all newcomers to Timewatch and to Gumshoe.

The pitch:
Time-traveling saboteurs just snuffed out all human life with Comic Sans? You're a member of TimeWatch, an elite organization of time cops who keep history safe. Find out what happened, track clues forwards and backwards in time, and save true history from those who try to erase it -- like the hyperintelligent AI BREEN, which has distributed itself throughout time. Good luck, Agent. Everyone -- and we mean everyone -- is counting on you.


As I started prepping things, I found the adventure has a structural problem.

There's a briefing room intro -- a bit low energy -- trying to decide if I can start things at the end of an action scene.

Scene two is in the alternate time-line Florence, late 15C, height of the Medici, with the evil AI having suborned a young Leonardo DaVinci and Florence a clock-punk paradise full of Medici's Mechanical Men and Pazzi's ParaPeople doing all the labor. The location and the changes are themselves interesting, as will be the investigation.

Scene Three is a trap -- the PCs are sent to after the robot uprising, where they must survive an ambush and escape. Combat! Again high energy.

Then the energy seems to drain out of the adventure.

Scene Four is going back to 11th C Florence, where it is a tiny town to stop an AI-infected evangelist from replacing Gothic lettering with Comic Sans and encouraging the Church to promote mass literacy. As a setting, 11th C Florence isn't all that interesting and the AI is not that powerful at this point. As written, fairly dull and lacking a strong foe.

Scene Five (optional) is going back further to the Year 900 to stop the AI's nanobots from disburing. Again, there's a technical issue, but nothing to fight or outwit.

Scene Six (coda) is the PCs stopping the AI, by keeping a kid from plugging in an old computer with a copy of the AI on it, which will let it reboot, create its nanobots, and send the back to 900, where they eventually infect the prophet in 11C Florence, who then changes things so that Florence is clock-punk in 15C, and the robots rise up and kill everyone in 16C. Again, there's no real foe here -- the AI is inactive, and the computer is in the hands of a kid who should be easy for trained agents to handle.

---

So I think I need to restructure. The energy as written is in Scenes 2 and 3 -- I need to build from that to something even cooler, but I'm trying to decide what.
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Old 06-26-2017, 01:45 PM   #2
David Johnston2
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Default Re: Some help with Timewatch's Free RPG day Font of Knowledge

The obvious finisher is "Having found out where and when the AI came from in the future the characters must break into the high security facility where it was initially developed and neutralize it before history tells it that its first attempt will fail and it tries a different approach."
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Old 06-26-2017, 02:40 PM   #3
Anthony
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Berkeley, CA
Default Re: Some help with Timewatch's Free RPG day Font of Knowledge

Hm. Looks like there's no available pdf version of the adventure to make it easier to figure out what works. Based on your synopsis, I'd say that after stage 3 BREEN has become aware of the presence of interloping hostile agents and has sent its own forces, the agents of Time<pun related to clocks and computers> back in time to make sure everything turns out the right way -- i.e. humanity is wiped out, and thus in each of the final three steps you have competition.
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Old 06-26-2017, 03:04 PM   #4
L.J.Steele
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Default Re: Some help with Timewatch's Free RPG day Font of Knowledge

Sadly, I have yet to find the adventure in .pdf, tho the pre-gen PCs are up on one website.

As written, the game ends on an anticlimax -- stop an 11 yo girl from plugging in a computer and allowing BREEN to download itself into a previously prepared nano-bot robot, which it then sends back in time.

So letís make this more interesting. Right now, there's no good reason for BREEN to try to destroy the world using Comic Sans besides it being funny.

So, the PCs had fought BREEN (the AI) in 1994 (the year Comic Sans was created) prior to the briefing scene (a flashback) instead of in 2061. A kernel of BREEN escaped into the internet, finding refuge in Vincent Connareís MacIntosh. The BREEN kernel crashed the computerís primitive architecture, so Connare set it aside and eventually gave it to Microsoft as part of the history of Comic Sans. BREEN lies dormant in Microsoftís vaults until 2044 or 2075, when the computer is activated as part of a MicroApplezoni-baba anniversary celebration. It escapes as described into a BREEN safehouse containing a prepared nanobot body and a one-shot time machine.

The PCs get enough information to locate the safehouse, so they can try to get there in time to keep BREEN from re-assembling. (And they have to time it to get the BREEN kernel after it downloads into the bot. If they don't get it by surprise, having cut off its escape routes, it'll escape (again), replicate elsewhere, and try the same stunt.

This gives an infiltration scene, a combat scene with the BREEN bot, and possibly a one-shot improvised time machine to complicate things.

Possible Clues-- the bot body they find in 900 is modeled on a commercial bot common in late 21st century Japan.
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Old 06-26-2017, 07:22 PM   #5
Fred Brackin
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Default Re: Some help with Timewatch's Free RPG day Font of Knowledge

Quote:
Originally Posted by L.J.Steele View Post
SPOILERS AHEAD for this adventure.

I am planning on running Font of Knowledge for my group next month -- all newcomers to Timewatch and to Gumshoe.

The pitch:


As I started prepping things, I found the adventure has a structural problem.
There's a briefing room intro -- a bit low energy -- trying to decide if I can start things at the end of an action scene.
.
As a note this introductory scene may not be necessary _if_ the players already know who their characters are and what's going on. However, if you need to convey these things to both the players and their characters it's probably just as well to leave it in.

We were starting anew campaign once with a GM who really likes the Bourne movies and we were all Bourne style amnesiacs. We didn't know who we were or what was going on and things didn't go well at the first scene. Fortunately, none of the hostages were injured.

So unless the players are in a good position with knowledge of their characters and the setting, starting on a lower stress note can be a good thing.
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Old 06-27-2017, 11:29 AM   #6
L.J.Steele
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Default Re: Some help with Timewatch's Free RPG day Font of Knowledge

Fair enough. But I hate an info dump scene with no tension or conflict. I'll ponder. It just feels flat. I'll be using the pre-gens -- if I can get my players interested in it, then maybe we can do characters and try Behind Enemy Times.

So...assume you are a hyperintelligent AI that's being hunted by timetravellers. You have pre-stashed a robot body and a time machine somewhere on earth sometime within 75 years of 1994 in hopes of hiding a kernel of yourself from Timewatch's scrutiny -- what's a clever place to hide your safehouse? Computer makers, robotics factories, all too obvious. Toy maker? Internet of Things that Go Bump in the Night? Couple of my PCs are computer guys (more so than I) so I'm trying to think of something clever as an interesting challenge to infiltrate and then fight.
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Old 06-27-2017, 12:17 PM   #7
Anthony
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Berkeley, CA
Default Re: Some help with Timewatch's Free RPG day Font of Knowledge

Well, most people with computers don't particularly want random outsiders coming in and messing with them. You could always combine your forces of evil, and have it hiding out with spammers and scammers (someone like Kim Dotcom perhaps. Or various shadier Bitcoin operators; the Mt. Gox theft seems like it could be used in a game).
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Old 06-27-2017, 12:35 PM   #8
RogerBW
 
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: near London, UK
Default Re: Some help with Timewatch's Free RPG day Font of Knowledge

In a coffin, such that you can get out. (It's a bit late for the Safety Coffin to be popular, that's more a 19th century thing.)
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Old 06-27-2017, 03:02 PM   #9
L.J.Steele
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Default Re: Some help with Timewatch's Free RPG day Font of Knowledge

In answer to my own question -- the cover image -- the bot with knives and a "Sushi 2 Go" t-shirt is disconnected from the adventure at present. So the final fight takes place on a late 21st century Japanese automated whaling factory ship. It's protected by a Japanese naval escort (this now post Shinso Abe's re-militarization) and shadowed by Greenpeace-ish vessels. Give the AI a secret compartment that's hardened enough to withstand sinking, at least long enough for the AI's bot to escape via the 1 shot time machine.

I'm open to better ideas, but this ties back to the module.
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Old 07-05-2017, 03:01 PM   #10
L.J.Steele
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Default Re: Some help with Timewatch's Free RPG day Font of Knowledge

Pelgrane just released the PDF if anyone is interested in the adventure

http://site.pelgranepress.com/index....edge-flipbook/
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