The “Snips and the Wasters” Series is the log of an actual play campaign of the game “Wasters”, with a Facebook Page here, a Website here, and, of course, a Discord server where playtesting and discussions are going on. The game is built from a B/X chassis, and as such, it does not only have a Basic Mode (where Snips is playing) but also an Xpert Mode. The following is an adventure of Expert Level characters, on Level 9 and 10, respectively, built with 300.000 XP.
The pros start from the same outpost, in the same city, but they don’t share missions with the low level characters. If anything, they hire such people as retainers.
We raise the curtain for Ripps the Sniper, Theo the Engineer, and their retainers Emmet, Jeff, and Preston, and the guard dog Gripper. And to the newby Expert Iceman, a Sentinel with emotional problems, and Booster, a Ronin. Booster hired a hacker called Convey and a nomad called Richard to complement his skillset. Iceman spoke to another jobseeker, but the guy just up and left. Iceman does not vibe with people. A Charisma Score of 7 haunts you even at level 10.
Either way, the team decides on a mission: Disrupt a block, namely, distract and lure away (or destroy) a number of haywire bots. What sounds like a suicide mission at level 2 is more a question of “does it pay well enough?” at level 10. To bolster that, they take a side job on the way: Clearing a stash from a tip off a data stick.
One thing is the same, no matter what level you are: Encumbrance. Usually one would think that a successful waster will have wheels or wings, but these items are shockingly expensive, so even a level 10 Ronin has to walk on foot, and that means, he has to carry his shit. And that means, he gets slow. So despite a lot of starting money and several cyber implants, there is still a limit to what armor, weapons, tools and ammunition a team can bring. And all this stuff slows a team down. So this team moves with 20 feet per combat round, or 60 per exploration turn. Slow! So to carry things, we took a mule with us.
The stash is almost on the way, so they take it on the way to the job. And they try something new: Moving recklessly with double speed, doubling the chance for encounters, but saving some time. Crossing a block will cost only 30 minutes, not an hour, that way.
But it quickly turns out that it is not worth it. Doubling the chance of encounters means mainly one thing: Many more encounters. And more encounters mean more risk, more ammo, more wounds, and more cost. So, spoiler alert: Go slow.
Our first encounter was a swarm of drones, which Iceman jammed successfully, and they drifted uselessly about. Our second encounter was a goat. We passed it by. Live and let live, and we have no beef with goats. Our third encounter: 10 micro-drones! These buzzed our way at speed. Again, Iceman jammed them, but two of them powered through and moved in on us.
The whole team opened up with guns. Only Iceman’s shotgun scored a hit and took one out, the other one zipped at us undeterred, and all our many shots missed it. Only Ripps the Sniper hit it, but it was only a grazing shot.
In the end, the micro-drone hit Convey the hacker right in the face, with such a speed that it broke… and it broke his head too. One dead, and that only on the second block.
We kept moving (passing a block with some history with Snips, but this crew knows nothing about all that) and reached the block with the stash. This block turned out to be gang territory belonging to the Street Cats, but under attack: Dysfunctional military bots from the neighbouring gouvernment block had started a block war. In game term, that means a double chance of encounters again, and they can be with either party.
We decided to be sneaky, and slipped into the area. Soon we witnessed a battle: Ten Street Cats in battle with eight soldier bots, and the soldier bots having the advantage. The question came up which side we should aid, but cold Iceman said: “None. Let them duke it out while we get the stash.”
And that we did, finding a two-storey warehouse, 80 feet wide and deep. In front it had one door, in the back two. One of those in the back had the air of a lesser door, and that was what Booster picked for our entrance. Ripps checked for traps, then we busted the door open and sent the dog Gripper in to check for hidden foes. Instead of foes, he disturbed three little children who fled up the stairs.
Kids in a warzone
“Good!” said Iceman. “Now we know the stairs are not boobytrapped.”
Theo was less sure: “Maybe the kids just know how to avoid the trigger.”
Meanwhile, Booster herded everyone inside, including the mule, and we blockaded the door. Apart from the stairs upwards, there were also a door to the east and south. They got blocked as well, to create a safe base where we could leave the mule. Then Booster and Richard led the way up the stairs.
We found a room with one door north and one south. Ripps the Sniper heard the kids behind the north door, and Booster went there to talk to them and reassure them, but they fled farther. Booster checked and found that they had gone east through another door. Booster decided to spike that one, getting the children safely out of the way. Harm’s and our’s.
We went through the south door and found a wide big hall that was apparently often used for meetings. At the eastern end, another door north. We went there and found the stash: Drugs. Drugs, drugs, and more drugs, crates full, and worth four times more than the job we had agreed to do.
The amount of drugs brought up the question of transport capacity, and we had to calculate loads and sacks and backpacks and saddlebags, and they did not suffice, so we also had to prepare boxes to carry the rest.
While we were busy carrying stuff, Ripps and Theo remained downstairs — and suddenly someone rattled at the outer door and shouted incoherently in Chinese. Then shots were fired, and the Chinese ran east, followed by robot stomping and shooting. And then the Chinese went in through the other door, farther east, where they started battling the robots, but also rattling at our eastern door, shrieking and shouting in hightened emotion. Really bad that not a single one on the team spoke Chinese, so we had no idea what they wanted. (Well, Booster would have had an idea, but he was not there at the time)
Then they started hacking the door apart with huge axes.
Ripps and Theo did not waste time philosophising about their motives, they just set up a defensive position and aimed at the door. Once the door split and the shouting people showed up, they fired, taking down two. The rest of them swarmed in and attacked the two with axes.
Booster and the others stopped carrying stuff and came down the stairs, where they split up: Some of the team joined the fight with the Chinese. Iceman and Richard blocked the stairway to make sure nobody would get to our stash. Booster decided that the robots were the common enemy, and chucked an energy grenade at them before laying down serious fire at them.
Absolute chaos ensued when the robots stormed in — robot dogs with gun turrets on their backs — and a crazy three-way battle broke out. Booster stood by his decision to let the Chinese be Chinese and only attack the gun-toting robo-dogs. He unpacked a sledgehammer and started cracking robot heads.
The Chinese went under first. Then Theo managed to hack some of the robo-dogs and set them to shooting each other, and only one remained.
Theo had the idea to hack it and turn it to our side, and the cyber-team went to work. Success! One robo-dog won for the team. And it can carry 500 coins worth of drugs too.
The long way home
After making sure that the streets outside were quiet for the moment, the team headed out, loaded with crates, sacks and backpacks, and leading a robo dog and a mule. Only the dog Gripper was unencumbered and went ahead a bit.
Soon enough, in neutral territory, we met a group of five members of the gang “Fast Dogs”. Booster’s instinct was to just ignore them, but of course the guys were curious what we might be carrying there and they came closer. At that point the day was getting old, and we were already tired and had negatives on our rolls.
“Ey, what you got there?” asked the gangers. Theo tried to reason his way out, but they were obnoxious. Booster set down his crate and stepped forward to give them a hard staring contest. He made sure they were well aware of the multitude of weapons we carried, and then he pointed south. “You, fuck off.”
A reaction roll of 10 made it so that they felt that to be a wise counsel, and weaseled off.
We holed up for the night with a cycle of watches.
We moved on, but now we entered Fast Dog territory. More gangers would be bad news, because inside their own territory we could hardly tell them to sod off. And, just like that, Gripper sniffed at a corner and yelped. With a bad feeling, Booster set down his crate again and made ready. He looked around the corner into a shady side alley, and there were three more Fast Dogs, but harder ones. These here wore tactical vests and carried machine guns, and they made to move out of the shadows to come towards us.
Booster reckoned that a man with a machine gun and vest inside his own turf will be unreasonable to argue with. He will demand a big cut of the loot, because we are trespassing and it is their turf. Simple psychology. Therefore, Booster just opened fire without further ado.
As a high level Ronin he was able to pump two bursts of 5.56 into Ganger number one, and downed him. With hostilities opened, Theo unpacked a particle beam from his cyberdeck, melting down the other two opponents into a heap of bubbling flesh.
“Onwards!” commanded Booster, took up his box and moved on, leaving the fallen with all their gear and weapons where they lay.
Slowly moving on with our loads, we got to an area where we noticed a mixed group coming from the front: Grownups and, again! Kids. The grownups carrying weapons. They saw us, we saw them. Again, Booster applied psychology: If you are going with kids, you don’t want to start a battle. We are carrying big boxes, and people with big boxes also don’t start battles. So Booster insisted that we just move on, slow and steady, giving them plenty of time to switch sides of the street and avoid our group, if they so wished. If they wished to confront us, it would be on them.
That worked okay, they did stay quiet and prepared to give us a berth…. but then someone chucked a brick at us.
Feral kids … in a war zone
Ripps the sniper located movement in a side street to the south. Booster set down his crate and aimed that way. “You others move on 40 feet. I will cover you. Then I follow and you cover me!”
The others moved on, and Booster aimed. In his rangefinder visor he saw movement: The brickthrower was small, a kid. And it was preparing for another throw. Booster aimed high against the wall on the second level of the adjoining building and shot once, to signal to the kid that this was no fun. The kid desisted.
But in fact, Booster had shown weakness. As he turned to pick up his box and move, ten kids stormed out of windows and alleyways and rushed Booster, to dive into his box and grab whatever of the drugs they could.
The others, who were supposed to cover him, hesitated … these were just kids! They held their fire, and the kids could swarm Booster unhindered. Booster also did not want to hurt kids, he knocked one of the thieves out with a nonlethal fist attack, so at least fewer of the drugs would get stolen. The only one who knew no qualms was Iceman, the cold arse. How did he become a Sentinel? He shot one of the kids down with a shotgun, while the rest of the team, and the NPC group with kids and grownup mix watched in horror.
Booster scooped up what the two kids had dropped and moved to the group.
Running after the little thieves? Booster said no. Not worth it. Running after them would mean abandoning the loads here, and that would only invite more of those raids. We let them run. Probably to their doom, because you can’t eat drugs, and in this hard environment it is doubtful that they will be able to sell them well.
Moving on, we passed the mixed group. It was a question if they would react to the kill they had just seen, but now Iceman used psychology: “If they want to get involved, it is their decision. They have seen what we will do if they cross us.”
And he was right. The group was nervous, but it did not try to stop us. And 911 was not an option. That’s anarchy for you.
Booster cautioned now, breaking the fourth wall: “We have tested the game mechanic with moving faster, and it is not worth the risk. Let’s move slow. It takes longer, but fewer encounters are better, even if it means spending another night out here.”
In fact, this worked so well that we had not a single encounter after that – and we spent another night in the wastes before crossing the last gang territory.
We made it back for a massive payout.
Snips 1 – Fighting Dogs
Snips 2 – Fighting Robots
Snips 3 – Fighting Swordsmen
Snips 4 – Fighting Kids
Snips 5 – Fighting Dreadnoughts
Snips 6 –
Fighting Running from the Boss
Snips 7 – Fighting Cops
Snips 8 – Fighting in the Pharmacy
Snips 9 – Fighting Cats
Snips 10 – Fighting Lions
Snips 11 – Fighting Code
Snips 12 – Fighting Chaos
Snips 13 – Fighting Words
Snips 14 – Fighting Mechas
Snips 15 – Fighting in Cubicles
Snips 16 – Fighting Fire
Snips 17 – Fighting Frogmen
— Image: Emre Ezer, Pexels