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Saturday 23 September 2023

Quick-Start Saturday: The Gaia Complex

Quick-starts are means of trying out a roleplaying game before you buy. Each should provide a Game Master with sufficient background to introduce and explain the setting to her players, the rules to run the scenario included, and a set of ready-to-play, pre-generated characters that the players can pick up and understand almost as soon as they have sat down to play. The scenario itself should provide an introduction to the setting for the players as well as to the type of adventures that their characters will have and just an idea of some of the things their characters will be doing on said adventures. All of which should be packaged up in an easy-to-understand booklet whose contents, with a minimum of preparation upon the part of the Game Master, can be brought to the table and run for her gaming group in a single evening’s session—or perhaps too. And at the end of it, Game Master and players alike should ideally know whether they want to play the game again, perhaps purchasing another adventure or even the full rules for the roleplaying game.

Alternatively, if the Game Master already has the full rules for the roleplaying game for the quick-start is for, then what it provides is a sample scenario that she still run as an introduction or even as part of her campaign for the roleplaying game. The ideal quick-start should entice and intrigue a playing group, but above all effectively introduce and teach the roleplaying game, as well as showcase both rules and setting.


What is it?
The Gaia Complex – Quick Start is the quick-start for The Gaia Complex
A Game of Flesh and Wires, the Science Fiction, Cyberpunk roleplaying game published by Hansor Publishing.

It includes an extensive explanation of the setting, rules for actions and combat, details of the arms, armour, and equipment fielded by the Player Characters, two ‘Data Seeds’ (or scenario outlines and hooks),
and five ready-to-play, Player Characters, or Agents.

It is a fifty-two page, full colour PDF.

The quick-start is lightly illustrated, but the artwork is decent. The rules are a slightly stripped down version from the core rulebook, but do include examples of the rules which speed the learning of the game.

How long will it take to play?
The Gaia Complex – Quick Start and its two ‘Data Seeds’ are designed to be played through in two or so sessions.

What else do you need to play?
The Gaia Complex – Quick Start requires two twelve-sided dice and three three-sided (or six-sided) dice per player

Who do you play?
The five Player Characters a Human Operator, an ex-cop, made redundant, turned mercenary, a Human technician and drone operator, Human Operator, an ex-gang member and corporate enforcer, a Feral with his partner dog, and a Human Hacker.

How is a Player Character defined?
An Agent has seven stats—Brawn, Reflexes, Guts, Brains, Allure, Perception, and Grit. Stats are rated between one and ten. There are multiple skills. These do not have a value. A Player Character either has them or does not have them and his proficiency in them is determined by their associated stat. Endurance represents his physical health and Pressure his mental health.

How do the mechanics work?
Mechanically, The Gaia Complex uses two twelve-sided dice to determine the outcome of a skill attempt. A roll equal to or below the skill’s associated stat, after any modifiers for complexity, counts as a success, on either die. If both succeed, the Player Character will succeed at the skill attempt, whether he has the skill or not. If both roll higher than the modified stat value, the attempt is a failure, and if both are equal to twelve, it is a critical failure. If the stat value is below the difficulty rating of the skill test, the player has to roll the dice, but if higher, his character automatically succeeds. A specialisation in a skill allows the reroll of a single die if the result was not a twelve. Grit can be spent by the player to modify the die result.

How does combat work?
Combat in The Gaia Complex uses the same mechanics. It includes support actions such as ‘Jack Into a Hacking Rig’, ‘Perform a Hacking Action’, ‘Perform a Drone Action’, and ‘Meld – Feral Only’ which fit the setting. The range of other options are what you would expect for a modern modern game with firearms, included aimed shot, snapshot, and burst fire. Burst fire enables the attacker to reroll a single damage die. Combat is deadly, with Endurance reduced to zero indicating death, whilst Pressure reduced to zero, either from a Vampire special ability or the effects of a program in the Core.

In addition to the rules for combat, there are rules for drone use and access and hacking The Core, a virtual space akin to Cyberspace. Hacking usually targets secret data stores and other locations below the extensive data archives of The Core. It requires a hacking Rig and Jacking in and in combat, a hacking Player Character can only do one action per round. Out of combat, hacking is handled in narrative fashion rather than rolling for every encounter. Several dangerous countermeasures are detailed to ward off any hacking attempt

How do Vampire and Feral abilities work?
A Feral can Meld with a ‘partnered’ animal, which requires the use of the Meld skill. This enables him to imprint his consciousness into the animal and see through its eyes and act as if he is the animal. Damage suffered by the animal is suffered as Pressure damage by the Feral.

Vampires are not included in The Gaia Complex – Quick Start.

What do you play?
The setting for The Gaia Complex – Quick Start is the year 2119. Following the Resource War of 2039 and the damage done to the environment, humanity was forced to retreat into sealed metropolises. New Europe, which covers most of the European continent is the largest. in addition to the development of atmospheric processing and other meteorological protective technology, cyberware was developed and spread, true A.I.s came online, including in new Europe, Gaia. Her technological developments would revolutionise society, including heavy surveillance and increasingly, robotic law enforcement. The streets exploded into guerilla warfare as a resistance, augmented by cyberware,
arose against the surveillance and law enforcement as hackers attempted to stop the influence of the A.I.s. In between horrors out myth have swept onto the streets—vampires! Eventually, a synthetic blood source was developed as food for the vampires, but that does not stop vampire gangs in search of real from being a problem. Another species are the Feral, which are capable of melding with the consciousness of an animal, which are mostly biogenetic closes in 2119.

The Gaia Complex – Quick Start includes two of what it calls a ‘Data Seed’. This is not a scenario as such, but rather an expanded hook that includes an idea, one or more suggested scenes, and more. In ‘The Raid’, the Player Characters are hires to infiltrate and steal a file called ‘Hivemind’ from a research facility in Bruss (old Brussels). The three suggested scenes describe the research facility and what might be found inside and below it, followed by a difficult escape. The second ‘Data Seed’, ‘The Hack’, the Player Characters are hired to kill a mercenary hacker. Its suggested scenes involve the Player Characters hunting down the hacker and confronting him in his base.

Is there anything missing?
The Gaia Complex – Quick Start is complete.

Is it easy to prepare?
The core rules presented in
The Gaia Complex – Quick Start are relatively easy to prepare. However, the Game Master will need to do some extra preparation in order to have either ‘Data Seed’ ready to play.

Is it worth it?
Yes and no. Anyone wanting something that can be run with relatively little preparation, including a read-to-play scenario is advised to look elsewhere as each
‘Data Seed’ in The Gaia Complex – Quick Start requires more preparation than a standard scenario would. So, no. However, a Game Master happy to undertake that preparation or run either ‘Data Seed’ from the given information will have no issue with The Gaia Complex – Quick Start. So, yes.

Where can you get it?
The Gaia Complex – Quick Start is available to download here.

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