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Found 14 results

  1. code zero

    FACTION BACKGROUNDS ANAZI DYNASTY (AD) The Anazi Dynasty are not the most technologically advanced or have the largest military but they are the indisputable leaders when it comes to medical knowledge, genetic manipulation, and bioware. They are most known for their genetic experimentation as the leaders in gene-splicing, but that came at a great cost. For decades their tampering with gene-splicing with themselves have left dormant genes which passed to their offspring, births started to happen where there were non-controlled mutations. At first, some of them was considered cute; A boy with cat ears, a girl with a tail, another child covered with fur, and there was a child who developed reptilian skin. Along with those traits came other benefits, but there was no mistaking they didn’t look human anymore. This caused them to be treated poorly, given the other history of their nation which resulted in them developing xenophobia of the other nations. Although they were called mutants and freaks, it didn’t stop other rich families of other nations seeking them out to ‘enhance’ themselves. Forced to obtain the scraps and choices of planets has required them to live in very harsh environments. Very few outsiders have gone to the core, most encounters have been through the borderlands or neutral territories. Over decades rumors grew, some people have said they aren’t human or largely grotesque, rumored to be monsters. Anazi Dynasty, of course, have done nothing to change the perception of others, they are perfectly fine with others thinking them monsters. In fact, they embraced much of that psychological profile within their military. That is why many of them have horns, modified armor, to make them seem less human. Even if there was a human underneath without any mutations, their enemies would never know. The core citizens and initial countries that make up the Anazi Dynasty are descendants that can be traced back to Terra and Africa. UNITED REPUBLIC (UR) The United Republic is the oldest, largest and most powerful nations in terms of military, territory, and technology. Although the Shingen Empire would disagree about UR being the leader in technology. After Terra Fall they were in the best position to bring order to the chaos that ensued. They blazed a path to creating order and maintaining discipline, although this was usually through the means of a strong military. The assumed control of New Terra and secured their seat as the controlling body of what would soon be the failing United Nations. Their society was built on the back of capitalism and a free market, often the wealthiest were who made the laws and rules. This end result was a strong matriarch in control of most things. Since public image held an important factor, the United Republic became the embodiment of what it meant to be human. That meant there are no mutants, aliens, or cyberoids in their ranks, at least that one can tell from visual appearance. Only those citizens that were part of the productive society were considered able to vote, everyone else was considered second class citizens. They utilize a natural genetic breeding program, which pairs good “households” with each other. This ensures that the best genes are produced so that the wealthiest, strong, beautiful are the ones who continue to maintain their power. The core citizens and initial countries that make up the United Republic are descendants that can be traced back to Terra, USA, Canada, Mexico, Russia and the former Eastern Bloc. EUROPA CONFEDERATION (EC) Next, to the United Republic, the Europa Confederation is the second largest and oldest nation. Before the Civil War that led to Europa Confederation being formed and the splinter nation Shingen Empire, they were a force to be reckoned with. They were able to stop the further advance of the UR from taking over all the good colonies and planets. In the early days, they established themselves when fear of the psions started to emerge. Instead of fearing those with psionic abilities or trying to utilize them as weapons, they instead embraced the evolving humans. Other nations created restrictions and apartheid but they welcomed anyone with psionic gifts. They even elevated them to places of leadership and power. Most psions were part of the Inquisition of the Church since psionic abilities were gifts meant to be used for the betterment of humankind. This also served to help expand the influence the Church held. Legends date back to the early days of psions that the royal family themselves had psionic abilities and that was the main reason they welcomed them. It would make sense if that was true since every royal member since after Terra Fall have been psions. The core citizens and initial countries that make up the Europa Confederation are descendants that can be traced back to Terra, most European nations including United Kingdom, France, Spain and some of the middle-eastern area of China. SHINGEN EMPIRE (SE) The Shingen Empire was born from war so it makes sense that their ideology is centered around warfare and bushido. There was a disagreement in what the next evolution step for humanity should be. Europa wanted to embrace psionic abilities while Shingen believed that human bodies were frail and weak. He believed the next step was for humans to shed their broken bodies and embrace cyberization, not just part cyborg or cybernetic enhancement but full blown cyberoid. Their technological level is on par with the United Republic, if not better. Since the UR technology has safety measures put in place to protect human life, they were able to throw those cautions and safety’s away. There are not many situations or conditions that can prove to be devastating to a cyberoid. The process to undergo cyberization doesn’t come without costs. Currently, there is a psychological strain as well as pain that the person endures. As such they are bred in cybernetic embryo’s, taught in schools until they become a mature age. In which they do an aptitude test to determine if they are ready for cyberization. Although the main core of their society has undergone full cyberization, there some that are still human. There are also some cyberoids that can be made in the image of a human, these mostly interact with other humans since most of their nation are a machine. Having a human-like interface makes people feel more comfortable around them. The core citizens and initial countries that make up the Shingen Empire are descendants that can be traced back to Terra, Japan, Korea and parts of China. FEDERATED COMMONWEALTH (FC) The Federated Commonwealth are one of the smaller nations, only having six planets that comprise their core planets, with a few systems on the outlines around them. They originally were part of different mining corporations who rebelled against the United Republic control. They were being overworked while being forced to defend themselves from raiders and pirates. They just weren’t considered worth sending security forces to defend, at least that was the perception of the workers. The six planets worked together, deciding to become a Federation forming under a Commonwealth and declared their independence. Although only a few planets, the mining rights they maintain help keeps them in a position of power. Since the majority of the planets are buried deep within systems with chaotic asteroids, which makes great mining, but proves highly unsafe conditions for those not familiar with them. Their society is very much a melting pot in terms of appearance. They have normal looking humans, those with cybernetic enhancements, a few psions, mutants and even alien species amongst their planets. One could even find a few independent cyberoids as well. Appearance and even money were never important, the only thing that mattered was hard work. If you could work and you did work hard, you got rewarded. The core citizens and initial countries that make up the Federated Commonwealth are descendants that can be traced back to Terra, Australia and various islands along the Pacific Rim.
  2. A brief glimpse into the background of the various factions. FACTION BACKGROUNDS ANAZI DYNASTY (AD) The Anazi Dynasty are not the most technologically advanced or have the largest military but they are the indisputable leaders when it comes to medical knowledge, genetic manipulation, and bioware. They are most known for their genetic experimentation as the leaders in gene-splicing, but that came at a great cost. For decades their tampering with gene-splicing with themselves have left dormant genes which passed to their offspring, births started to happen where there were non-controlled mutations. At first, some of them was considered cute; A boy with cat ears, a girl with a tail, another child covered with fur, and there was a child who developed reptilian skin. Along with those traits came other benefits, but there was no mistaking they didn’t look human anymore. This caused them to be treated poorly, given the other history of their nation which resulted in them developing xenophobia of the other nations. Although they were called mutants and freaks, it didn’t stop other rich families of other nations seeking them out to ‘enhance’ themselves. Forced to obtain the scraps and choices of planets has required them to live in very harsh environments. Very few outsiders have gone to the core, most encounters have been through the borderlands or neutral territories. Over decades rumors grew, some people have said they aren’t human or largely grotesque, rumored to be monsters. Anazi Dynasty, of course, have done nothing to change the perception of others, they are perfectly fine with others thinking them monsters. In fact, they embraced much of that psychological profile within their military. That is why many of them have horns, modified armor, to make them seem less human. Even if there was a human underneath without any mutations, their enemies would never know. The core citizens and initial countries that make up the Anazi Dynasty are descendants that can be traced back to Terra and Africa. UNITED REPUBLIC (UR) The United Republic is the oldest, largest and most powerful nations in terms of military, territory, and technology. Although the Shingen Empire would disagree about UR being the leader in technology. After Terra Fall they were in the best position to bring order to the chaos that ensued. They blazed a path to creating order and maintaining discipline, although this was usually through the means of a strong military. The assumed control of New Terra and secured their seat as the controlling body of what would soon be the failing United Nations. Their society was built on the back of capitalism and a free market, often the wealthiest were who made the laws and rules. This end result was a strong matriarch in control of most things. Since public image held an important factor, the United Republic became the embodiment of what it meant to be human. That meant there are no mutants, aliens, or cyberoids in their ranks, at least that one can tell from visual appearance. Only those citizens that were part of the productive society were considered able to vote, everyone else was considered second class citizens. They utilize a natural genetic breeding program, which pairs good “households” with each other. This ensures that the best genes are produced so that the wealthiest, strong, beautiful are the ones who continue to maintain their power. The core citizens and initial countries that make up the United Republic are descendants that can be traced back to Terra, USA, Canada, Mexico, Russia and the former Eastern Bloc. EUROPA CONFEDERATION (EC) Next, to the United Republic, the Europa Confederation is the second largest and oldest nation. Before the Civil War that led to Europa Confederation being formed and the splinter nation Shingen Empire, they were a force to be reckoned with. They were able to stop the further advance of the UR from taking over all the good colonies and planets. In the early days, they established themselves when fear of the psions started to emerge. Instead of fearing those with psionic abilities or trying to utilize them as weapons, they instead embraced the evolving humans. Other nations created restrictions and apartheid but they welcomed anyone with psionic gifts. They even elevated them to places of leadership and power. Most psions were part of the Inquisition of the Church since psionic abilities were gifts meant to be used for the betterment of humankind. This also served to help expand the influence the Church held. Legends date back to the early days of psions that the royal family themselves had psionic abilities and that was the main reason they welcomed them. It would make sense if that was true since every royal member since after Terra Fall have been psions. The core citizens and initial countries that make up the Europa Confederation are descendants that can be traced back to Terra, most European nations including United Kingdom, France, Spain and some of the middle-eastern area of China. SHINGEN EMPIRE (SE) The Shingen Empire was born from war so it makes sense that their ideology is centered around warfare and bushido. There was a disagreement in what the next evolution step for humanity should be. Europa wanted to embrace psionic abilities while Shingen believed that human bodies were frail and weak. He believed the next step was for humans to shed their broken bodies and embrace cyberization, not just part cyborg or cybernetic enhancement but full blown cyberoid. Their technological level is on par with the United Republic, if not better. Since the UR technology has safety measures put in place to protect human life, they were able to throw those cautions and safety’s away. There are not many situations or conditions that can prove to be devastating to a cyberoid. The process to undergo cyberization doesn’t come without costs. Currently, there is a psychological strain as well as pain that the person endures. As such they are bred in cybernetic embryo’s, taught in schools until they become a mature age. In which they do an aptitude test to determine if they are ready for cyberization. Although the main core of their society has undergone full cyberization, there some that are still human. There are also some cyberoids that can be made in the image of a human, these mostly interact with other humans since most of their nation are a machine. Having a human-like interface makes people feel more comfortable around them. The core citizens and initial countries that make up the Shingen Empire are descendants that can be traced back to Terra, Japan, Korea and parts of China. FEDERATED COMMONWEALTH (FC) The Federated Commonwealth are one of the smaller nations, only having six planets that comprise their core planets, with a few systems on the outlines around them. They originally were part of different mining corporations who rebelled against the United Republic control. They were being overworked while being forced to defend themselves from raiders and pirates. They just weren’t considered worth sending security forces to defend, at least that was the perception of the workers. The six planets worked together, deciding to become a Federation forming under a Commonwealth and declared their independence. Although only a few planets, the mining rights they maintain help keeps them in a position of power. Since the majority of the planets are buried deep within systems with chaotic asteroids, which makes great mining, but proves highly unsafe conditions for those not familiar with them. Their society is very much a melting pot in terms of appearance. They have normal looking humans, those with cybernetic enhancements, a few psions, mutants and even alien species amongst their planets. One could even find a few independent cyberoids as well. Appearance and even money were never important, the only thing that mattered was hard work. If you could work and you did work hard, you got rewarded. The core citizens and initial countries that make up the Federated Commonwealth are descendants that can be traced back to Terra, Australia and various islands along the Pacific Rim. View full article
  3. PSIONIC CONVERGENCE - HUMANITY EVOLVES Humans have always evolved, sometimes this was because of choice and other times it was not. There were no records of when exactly the first Psion was discovered. Some recordings hint they were left over biological experiments, human weapons initially created to be used in WWIII. Other reports state that long exposure due to global warming and pollution created a mutant virus strain. There are even stories that claim it was an act of God, divine punishment for humanity's crimes or a gift to help overcome the upcoming struggles. The change did not happen overnight, it didn't impact the world largely at that time. The change first appeared in children or young adults. It was estimated that only 1 in every 100,000 were affected at first. In large, these changes were mostly enhancements to abilities a person already had; heightened senses, quickened reflexes, intuition, and even an unnatural affinity with technology. Jokes littered the media about how certain athletes were really Psions. Many people who had an ability didn't even realize it. It wasn't always evident. Like all things, it was like a muscle, it needed to be developed in order to really use it. There was a growing apprehension among the public since no one could explain the phenomenon, and at that time, no real method of detection existed. Were Psions still humans or were they something new? There wasn't a media station or net broadcast that wasn't debating about the big question. Distrust and fear continued to grow. Some debates were very heated, usually when involving religious leaders discussing the events. Some people viewed it as the next step of evolution for humanity and others thought it was a curse. At that time, when a Psion was discovered, they each experienced their own 15 minutes of fame as every one of them was put under a media microscope. Paparazzi followed them. Any background on a person's past was sifted through. It was the new reality show of the time. Publicly, they were given an almost celebrity status, but in the background, you could hear the murmurs; freak, mutant, unhuman. It ripped many families apart. Conspiracy theorists clamored this was all the start of an alien invasion, that Psions weren't human or that they were tools of the government. This created protest movements like Pure Humans and Free Terra which spread propaganda about Psions really being clones or body snatchers. Being involved with them meant you could be infected. In a few instances, security and police had intervened to stop protests, but no one had yet to get hurt. Chicago in the United States of America was the first recorded violent outbreak. It was also the first time a Psion was recorded utilizing their abilities in the form of a weapon and human lives were lost. Although there were a lot of studies and research into psionic abilities, methods of detection weren't as much of a priority as figuring out where they came from. The ability to identify someone with Psionic potential grew out of that incident. At one of the research centers where testing was being done, True Humans were protesting against PHR (Psions Have Rights). An 11-year-old girl named Amelia Devone was being tested since her older brother Victor had already tested positive. The rest of the account is unreliable. Witnesses' accounts said there was pushing and the girl was knocked to the ground. Before she was trampled by the hostile crowd, rocks and just about anything that wasn't nailed down, was being thrown back and forth. Glass shattered from windows above, raining down on the protesters. It wasn't simply falling either. It was being directed. People from both groups were injured. Rumors spread that a hooded individual was controlling the glass telekinetically. The underlying fear, the mumblings in the background, were suddenly at the forefront of conversations. Psions were no longer celebrated but feared. The powers starting to emerge were growing in strength, they were no longer just simple enhancements to human abilities. Now that they could be identified easier and faster, it was becoming easier to develop their powers more. It was also harder to hide them, soon they discovered Psions with the abilities in telepathy, empathy, and telekinetic abilities. Media had rumors about someone who could teleport, blink away and someone who caused people to sleep with a touch. Their abilities were no longer simple parlor tricks but were starting to be seen as threats, possible weapons. A scientist in Japan working for Murai-Tech developed the first psionic power detector (PPD). The PPD was able to detect if psionic abilities were being used in the vicinity. It couldn't identify what the power was or who was using but was more like a radar that something was being used. It, unfortunately, wasn't very accurate as not all abilities had clear identifiers but it was a hot commodity. Soon they were integrated to be used with personal notepads and wrist pads. Although they were about as be used with personal notepads and wrist pads. Although they were about as accurate as a mood ring, everyone used them. Psions started to adopt them as accessories so they could mingle better with everyone else. Murai-Tech profits skyrocketed, allowing them to research new medical breakthroughs for a neural interface while researching better control methods for cybernetic limb control. It was during these tests they discovered a way to inhibit psionic abilities. It wasn't exactly a cure or a real effective way to stop them, but they noticed that something with cybernetics inhibited psionic abilities and power. Masato Shinjryo was a prominent Psionic who was involved in a hit and run accident. He had heightened senses, almost 6th sense ability during his mixed martial arts tournaments. After a celebrating a match win one night at the bar, on his way home he was struck by a driver. His spinal cord was snapped and he lost the ability to use both his legs. When they replaced his legs so that he could be able to walk again, they noticed his psionic index had changed. It was barely registering anymore. This discovery was what prompted cybernetic implants to become the next hot commodity not only for humans but for psionics who simply wanted to be treated normally. The fear mongering about Psions was starting to vanish. Publicly there was a brief calm in the world since it was easier to identify those that were humans and those there were Psions. At least that was the overall consensus during that time. Between the PPD, cybernetic implants lowering psionic ability society looked like it may get back to normal or at least as normal as it could be an overpopulated, heavy crime rate and polluted world. "This was the definite calm before the storm. Warning, records from this time period may be corrupted and not fully accurate. These are accounts that have been collected from individuals, they may be slightly biased as they are from their perspective point of views. Are you ready to continue?"
  4. Humans have always evolved, sometimes this was because of choice and other times it was not. There were no records of when exactly the first Psion was discovered. Some recordings hint they were left over biological experiments, human weapons initially created to be used in WWIII. Other reports state that long exposure due to global warming and pollution created a mutant virus strain. There are even stories that claim it was an act of God, divine punishment for humanity's crimes or a gift to help overcome the upcoming struggles. PSIONIC CONVERGENCE - HUMANITY EVOLVES Humans have always evolved, sometimes this was because of choice and other times it was not. There were no records of when exactly the first Psion was discovered. Some recordings hint they were left over biological experiments, human weapons initially created to be used in WWIII. Other reports state that long exposure due to global warming and pollution created a mutant virus strain. There are even stories that claim it was an act of God, divine punishment for humanity's crimes or a gift to help overcome the upcoming struggles. The change did not happen overnight, it didn't impact the world largely at that time. The change first appeared in children or young adults. It was estimated that only 1 in every 100,000 were affected at first. In large, these changes were mostly enhancements to abilities a person already had; heightened senses, quickened reflexes, intuition, and even an unnatural affinity with technology. Jokes littered the media about how certain athletes were really Psions. Many people who had an ability didn't even realize it. It wasn't always evident. Like all things, it was like a muscle, it needed to be developed in order to really use it. There was a growing apprehension among the public since no one could explain the phenomenon, and at that time, no real method of detection existed. Were Psions still humans or were they something new? There wasn't a media station or net broadcast that wasn't debating about the big question. Distrust and fear continued to grow. Some debates were very heated, usually when involving religious leaders discussing the events. Some people viewed it as the next step of evolution for humanity and others thought it was a curse. At that time, when a Psion was discovered, they each experienced their own 15 minutes of fame as every one of them was put under a media microscope. Paparazzi followed them. Any background on a person's past was sifted through. It was the new reality show of the time. Publicly, they were given an almost celebrity status, but in the background, you could hear the murmurs; freak, mutant, unhuman. It ripped many families apart. Conspiracy theorists clamored this was all the start of an alien invasion, that Psions weren't human or that they were tools of the government. This created protest movements like Pure Humans and Free Terra which spread propaganda about Psions really being clones or body snatchers. Being involved with them meant you could be infected. In a few instances, security and police had intervened to stop protests, but no one had yet to get hurt. Chicago in the United States of America was the first recorded violent outbreak. It was also the first time a Psion was recorded utilizing their abilities in the form of a weapon and human lives were lost. Although there were a lot of studies and research into psionic abilities, methods of detection weren't as much of a priority as figuring out where they came from. The ability to identify someone with Psionic potential grew out of that incident. At one of the research centers where testing was being done, True Humans were protesting against PHR (Psions Have Rights). An 11-year-old girl named Amelia Devone was being tested since her older brother Victor had already tested positive. The rest of the account is unreliable. Witnesses' accounts said there was pushing and the girl was knocked to the ground. Before she was trampled by the hostile crowd, rocks and just about anything that wasn't nailed down, was being thrown back and forth. Glass shattered from windows above, raining down on the protesters. It wasn't simply falling either. It was being directed. People from both groups were injured. Rumors spread that a hooded individual was controlling the glass telekinetically. The underlying fear, the mumblings in the background, were suddenly at the forefront of conversations. Psions were no longer celebrated but feared. The powers starting to emerge were growing in strength, they were no longer just simple enhancements to human abilities. Now that they could be identified easier and faster, it was becoming easier to develop their powers more. It was also harder to hide them, soon they discovered Psions with the abilities in telepathy, empathy, and telekinetic abilities. Media had rumors about someone who could teleport, blink away and someone who caused people to sleep with a touch. Their abilities were no longer simple parlor tricks but were starting to be seen as threats, possible weapons. A scientist in Japan working for Murai-Tech developed the first psionic power detector (PPD). The PPD was able to detect if psionic abilities were being used in the vicinity. It couldn't identify what the power was or who was using but was more like a radar that something was being used. It, unfortunately, wasn't very accurate as not all abilities had clear identifiers but it was a hot commodity. Soon they were integrated to be used with personal notepads and wrist pads. Although they were about as be used with personal notepads and wrist pads. Although they were about as accurate as a mood ring, everyone used them. Psions started to adopt them as accessories so they could mingle better with everyone else. Murai-Tech profits skyrocketed, allowing them to research new medical breakthroughs for a neural interface while researching better control methods for cybernetic limb control. It was during these tests they discovered a way to inhibit psionic abilities. It wasn't exactly a cure or a real effective way to stop them, but they noticed that something with cybernetics inhibited psionic abilities and power. Masato Shinjryo was a prominent Psionic who was involved in a hit and run accident. He had heightened senses, almost 6th sense ability during his mixed martial arts tournaments. After a celebrating a match win one night at the bar, on his way home he was struck by a driver. His spinal cord was snapped and he lost the ability to use both his legs. When they replaced his legs so that he could be able to walk again, they noticed his psionic index had changed. It was barely registering anymore. This discovery was what prompted cybernetic implants to become the next hot commodity not only for humans but for psionics who simply wanted to be treated normally. The fear mongering about Psions was starting to vanish. Publicly there was a brief calm in the world since it was easier to identify those that were humans and those there were Psions. At least that was the overall consensus during that time. Between the PPD, cybernetic implants lowering psionic ability society looked like it may get back to normal or at least as normal as it could be an overpopulated, heavy crime rate and polluted world. "This was the definite calm before the storm. Warning, records from this time period may be corrupted and not fully accurate. These are accounts that have been collected from individuals, they may be slightly biased as they are from their perspective point of views. Are you ready to continue?" View full article
  5. code zero

    Player-A Anna (Federated Commonwealth) Vs Player-B Ben (Anazi Dynasty) Both players have already chosen their secondary objectives, been deployed and rolled for initiative. The primary objective is a Data Retrieval indicated by the orange token(s). It will require someone to spend an action interacting, winning a successful skill check to access the system, then another successful skill checks to determine if the data retrieval is successful. A failed roll will require using another terminal. Once they have the data, they then have to make it back to their extraction point. Player-A Anna won initiative and is playing the Federated Commonwealth strike team with a Battle Value of about 300 points. She chose Assassinate as her secondary objective. Since she will be fighting an opposing force, she determined it was the best option. After she kills an opposing unit, she will have to do a skill check to determine if it was her target. Player-B Ben is playing the Anazi Dynasty squad with a Battle Value of about 300 points. His secondary objective is to Implant False Data. It is very similar to a Data Retrieval as it would use the same terminals. Since he has to interact with the same terminals, it meant he could kill two birds with one stone. TURN 1: START PHASE Turn 1 begins with the Start Phase. If there were abilities or status effects that triggered here, they would trigger and resolve before moving on to determine how many Activation Points the players have access to use. There is currently no Start of Turn effects happening so we move on to determine Activation Points. Player-A Anna has two Hero units (Emma King and Ethan Walker) and one fireteam (4 models) that are active. That gives her a total of 5 Activation Points (1AP + 1AP + 3AP = 5AP). Her commander for this operation, which is considered private information, will be Emma King. Ethan has a special ability which will come in handy later. Player-B Ben has one Hero unit (Akila Reis) and two fireteams (5 models each) that are active. That gives him access to 7 Activation Points to use (1AP + 3AP + 3AP = 7AP). The commander for Ben is the leader of Fireteam Omega. Choosing a fireteam has a commander is risky, but it can also work out in his favor. When a fireteam loses a member, a skill roll is done to determine if that was the fireteam leader. If it was that could give the fireteam Aberrant Status, which means AP generated by that unit can only be used by the unit that generated the AP. Why didn't Player-B Ben split his two fireteams up so he could have a total of three fireteams? The minimum amount of units to make up a fireteam are three units. Yes, that would give him 9AP to spend and is a good method to min/max AP. But there are two factors which work against him in that scenario. One is the built-in soft cap known as Fatigue. A unit can only be activated twice unless they have a special trait or skill that allows them to be activated again. That means at a maximum the three fireteams would be using 6AP. He would have wasted AP unless he wanted to give his units Fatigue as well as making them less effective and more susceptible to become a Broken Unit, which gives them Aberrant Status and lowers the amount of AP they create. TURN 1: PLAYER PHASE - ROUND ONE Now that we have determined AP for each player we move into the Player Phase. Anna won the initiative roll so she will be the first Active Player, with Ben being the Reactive Player. She expends 1AP then declares that she will activate her fireteam using a Move Action. She does not have to say if it is a short or long action or what her move will be at this time. This creates a priority window known as a Trigger Point that Ben, the Reactive Player, can declare a response to her action. He can choose to respond with a Steal Initiative by declaring his response and expending 1AP. If he doesn’t choose to respond, he would not get another opportunity to respond in this manner. Ben chooses to wait to see what direction Anna will go so he passes. Anna’s action will now resolve, this is when she would do her action. She knows currently her opponent doesn't have LoS (line of sight) so she decides to take a Long Move Action Sprint. Sprint allows her to double her movement and able to dive for cover if able too. Diving for Cover lets a unit move half of its base size to touch against a terrain that would provide cover if it can. She can choose to expend another Activation Point to activate the second unit or pass to let her opponent move. At this time she does not want to expend a point but instead wants to hold them in reserve to see how Ben moves. TURN 1: PLAYER PHASE - ROUND TWO Ben will now become the Active Player, while Anna becomes the Reactive Player. Ben uses 1AP to activate fireteam Alpha, declaring a Move Action. This opens a priority window, Trigger Point, to which Anna can respond. She chooses to pass, to not respond to the trigger. Since Anna passed Ben's move action will now resolve, he declares it will be a Short Move Action and moves his unit forward. For his second action, he also does another Short Move Action moving forward, staying out of line of sight of his opponents units. Ben chooses to spend another Activation Point to activate the second unit, maintaining himself as the Active Player. He chooses to activate his other fireteam with a Move Action, creating a Trigger Point. Anna declares she will respond to Steal Initiative by expending 1AP to activate Ethan. This does create another priority window, Trigger Point, that Ben could also Steal Initiative back by expending 1AP. However since he has already activated two units this round, it would mean the unit would have Fatigue status. Sometimes that risk is definitely worth it, but for now, he will pass and wait. Anna will use a Short Move Action using his units jump jets to leap up to the higher platform. She doesn't have to worry about line of sight at this time. He does another Short Move Action to use his jump jets to get to the top, putting her unit it a better sniping position. Ben will now finish his actions for his second unit. That fireteam will use a Long Move Action Sprint to move forward. Since Ben has activated 2 units during his Active Player round, the round will automatically pass to Anna now. TURN 1: PLAYER PHASE - ROUND THREE Round Three, Anna is the Active Player with Ben the Reactive Player. She spends 1AP to activate Emma King with a move action, creating a Trigger Point (priority window). Ben responds with Stealing Initiative, spending 1AP to activate Akila Reis which creates another Trigger Point. Anna decides to not respond and instead pass to Ben. That means Ben will resolve his actions first. He uses his first action as a Short Move Action to move Akila forward more. Then for his second Short Move Action, he does a Cautious Move, which will let him move forward without creating a trigger from an opposing unit. But he has to be out of LoS to start to move and end out of LoS as well. This allows him to avoid triggering Anna's sniper who would have had LoS. Anna will now resolve the actions for Emma King. She uses two Short Move Actions to move her forward and turning so it is facing towards her other fireteam. TURN 1: PLAYER PHASE - ROUND FOUR Round Four, Ben is the Active Player with Anna as the Reactive Player. He spends 1AP to activate his fireteam Omega with a Short Move Action. This creates a Trigger Point (priority window), in which Anna chooses to Steal Initiative. She spends 1AP to activate Emma King using a Special Action, this creates another Trigger Point (priority window), in which Ben chooses to Steal Initiative as well by spending 1AP to activate his other fireteam for a Move Action. Anna chooses to not Steal Initiative a second time because she doesn't want any units to have Fatigue. Ben resolves his fireteam Alpha, using a Short Move Action. He uses his units special ability to teleport his unit into the building where the objective is. Then he uses his second action for another Short Move Action to get into position with the terminal. Anna will now get to resolve her hero Emma King's actions. She is going uses a Long Action to use her unit's special ability. As long as her unit is not within line of sight or within a Hostile Zone of an enemy (6" radius around a unit) her unit can energize a power armor unit. It essentially gives her activation to the unit within LoS of her choosing (providing it is a power armor unit) and doesn't trigger the "Activation token". That means if the unit had activated twice, it wouldn't gain fatigue or if it had activated once already, it wouldn't switch over to the red state. Her Corer fireteam will use 2 Short Actions to enter the building. Ben will now resolve his initial unit that started the round (first in, last out order sequence). His fireteam is locked into doing a Move Action. The question is will he charge forward or instead choose to wait. Deciding to be aggressive he does a Short Move Action to teleport his units into the building, this will trigger Anna's unit letting her respond. They both choose to Combat Actions. Ben's fireteam is in base to base contact, with support from the fireteam units touching their base. The third is shooting. Combat is handled individually but resolves simultaneous. Although we handle each units rolls separately in this situation, all damage doesn't take effect until the end so all units get their responses in. Two of Ben's units are killed, one of Anna's units is killed and the other is has 2 wounds. Anna's first skill check for her Secondary Objective was a failure. Her second roll was also a failure, neither of the downed opponents met her requirements. TURN 1: PLAYER PHASE - ROUND FIVE Round Five, Anna is the Active Player with Ben as the Reactive Player. Anna spends 1AP to activate her fireteam to use a Special Action creating a Trigger Point. Ben chooses to Steal Initiative, spending 1AP to activate his fireteam alpha. This gives his unit Fatigue status reducing their stats. Since Anna doesn't have any more moves, he figures he is safe at this point. Ben's unit uses a Long Action to interface with the terminal to Implant False Data. He win's his skill check and achieves his Secondary Objective. Anna will now resolve her unit's actions. Anna's fireteam takes a Long Action to interface with the terminal. She successfully rolls and succeeds with her skill check, achieving the Primary Objective of Data Retrieval. Her action does trigger a response from Ben's fireteam who is in LoS. He chooses a Combat Action response, getting a success but Anna successfully makes an armor save. Anna has no more AP, so the round automatically passes to the next player. TURN 1: PLAYER PHASE - ROUND SIX Round Six, Ben is the Active Player with Anna as the Reactive Player. Ben spends his last AP to activate Akila using a Long Move Action to sprint her across the field. TURN 1 : END PHASE We now move into the End Phase for Turn 1. Any end of turn effects happen, that removes activation tokens as well as Fatigue status. The Primary Objective was obtained which triggers an Extraction Point for Anna's team. She rolls a D10 to randomly choose which of the 4 sectors of her deployment zone that extraction will happen. For each of the four 12" square sections of her deployment zone, she will roll. 2,3 is the left most; 4,5 the next one over; 6,7 the next one over; Finally 8,9 is the right most section. 1 is a critical failure, which lets her opponent choose which section and 10 is a success which lets her choose. She rolls a 9 making the far right sector the extraction point that she needs to get her units to successfully end the game. TURN 2 : START PHASE Neither side has lost their commander. All units, for the most part, are still intact, so Anna gets 5AP while Ben gets 7AP. TURN 2 : PLAYER PHASE - ROUND ONE Anna is the Active Player, with Ben as the Reactive Player. Anna spends 1AP to activate her fireteam, creating a Trigger Point. Ben responds to Steal Initiative by spending 1AP to activate fireteam Alpha, creating another Trigger Point. Anna responds to Steal Initiative by expending another AP to activate Emma King. Emma King's actions will resolve first. She uses a Short Move Action to move forward, crossing line of sight of Ben's hero. He chooses to shoot and her response is to dodge. He inflicts one wound onto Emma before she moves behind cover. Ben's fireteam will activate now. He uses a long action to do his Data Retrieval. He fails the roll, failing to get anything from this terminal. He will have to try the other terminal now. Anna's fireteam can now resolve their actions. She chooses a combat action, which triggers a response from Ben's fireteam that is in line of sight. His response is to shoot back. Ben inflicts a killing blow onto the unit that was wounded earlier. Anna's unit destroys one of Ben's units as well, knocking the other one unconscious. Both units now gain Aberrant Status, each player also loses 1AP now that the fireteams are Broken. Anna makes a willpower roll and fails, retreating back. Ben makes his willpower roll and is able to stay there. TURN 2 : PLAYER PHASE - ROUND TWO Ben is the Active Player, with Anna as the Reactive Player. Ben uses 1AP on Akila for a Move Action, creating a Trigger Point. Anna steals the Initiative to activate Emma. Ben passes and chooses to not Steal Initiative back. Anna uses a Short Move Action to move her unit into base to base with the Broken Fireteam. For her second short action, she uses a special ability that allows her to join the fireteam, removing their Broken Status. Ben uses a Long Action to Sprint his unit over towards the incapacitated unit. END OF GAME I apologize if it is a bit messy. I tried to recreate as much as the game as I could after the video loss. At this point is where our notes of the game and audio vanishes so not a lot of information to recreate from. However, we do know how the game ended up ending. Ben revived his unconscious unit, finished achieving the Primary Objective and had an Extraction Point created. They were making their way to the extraction point but Anna was just able to get to her's faster and ended the game. Then we move into adding up the Objective Points. Anna was able to make it to the Extraction Point and safely extract the rest of her units. Tallying up her points, she received a total of 6 points. She got 3 points for achieving the Primary Objective, 2 points for achieving her Secondary Objective, 1 point of a successful extraction and 1 point for destroying more than 50-100 points of opposing units. Ben was able to get an Extraction Point but he didn't make it in time. He received 3 points for achieving the Primary Objective, 1 point for his Secondary Objective and 1 point for destroying more than 50-100 points of opposing units. However, his Secondary Objective has some special text to it. Although it only gives 1 point as a Secondary Objective, it removes 1 point from the opponent if the primary mission was Data Retrieval. It also removes a second point from the opposing unit if the Secondary Objective was achieved before the Primary Objective. The final tally of points is Anna with a total of 5 points. She had 7 points originally, but after subtracting 2 because of Ben's Secondary Objective that left her with 5. Ben was able to achieve a total of 5 points. The first tie breaker goes to the amount of damage inflicted. Anna inflicted 75 points of damage to enemy units, while Ben inflicted 100 points so he ends up winning the Scenario. It could have easily gone the other way around. There were a couple tactical mistakes that the players made. Are you able to spot what they could have done differently?/ Part 1 - Playing Code Zero: Introduction Part 2 - Playing the Game: Action | Reaction System Part 3 | Game Playthrough
  6. Both players have already chosen their secondary objectives, been deployed and rolled for initiative. The primary objective is a Data Retrieval indicated by the orange token(s). It will require someone to spend an action interacting, winning a successful skill check to access the system, then another successful skill checks to determine if the data retrieval is successful. A failed roll will require using another terminal. Once they have the data, they then have to make it back to their extraction point. Player-A Anna (Federated Commonwealth) Vs Player-B Ben (Anazi Dynasty) Both players have already chosen their secondary objectives, been deployed and rolled for initiative. The primary objective is a Data Retrieval indicated by the orange token(s). It will require someone to spend an action interacting, winning a successful skill check to access the system, then another successful skill checks to determine if the data retrieval is successful. A failed roll will require using another terminal. Once they have the data, they then have to make it back to their extraction point. Player-A Anna won initiative and is playing the Federated Commonwealth strike team with a Battle Value of about 300 points. She chose Assassinate as her secondary objective. Since she will be fighting an opposing force, she determined it was the best option. After she kills an opposing unit, she will have to do a skill check to determine if it was her target. Player-B Ben is playing the Anazi Dynasty squad with a Battle Value of about 300 points. His secondary objective is to Implant False Data. It is very similar to a Data Retrieval as it would use the same terminals. Since he has to interact with the same terminals, it meant he could kill two birds with one stone. TURN 1: START PHASE Turn 1 begins with the Start Phase. If there were abilities or status effects that triggered here, they would trigger and resolve before moving on to determine how many Activation Points the players have access to use. There is currently no Start of Turn effects happening so we move on to determine Activation Points. Player-A Anna has two Hero units (Emma King and Ethan Walker) and one fireteam (4 models) that are active. That gives her a total of 5 Activation Points (1AP + 1AP + 3AP = 5AP). Her commander for this operation, which is considered private information, will be Emma King. Ethan has a special ability which will come in handy later. Player-B Ben has one Hero unit (Akila Reis) and two fireteams (5 models each) that are active. That gives him access to 7 Activation Points to use (1AP + 3AP + 3AP = 7AP). The commander for Ben is the leader of Fireteam Omega. Choosing a fireteam has a commander is risky, but it can also work out in his favor. When a fireteam loses a member, a skill roll is done to determine if that was the fireteam leader. If it was that could give the fireteam Aberrant Status, which means AP generated by that unit can only be used by the unit that generated the AP. Why didn't Player-B Ben split his two fireteams up so he could have a total of three fireteams? The minimum amount of units to make up a fireteam are three units. Yes, that would give him 9AP to spend and is a good method to min/max AP. But there are two factors which work against him in that scenario. One is the built-in soft cap known as Fatigue. A unit can only be activated twice unless they have a special trait or skill that allows them to be activated again. That means at a maximum the three fireteams would be using 6AP. He would have wasted AP unless he wanted to give his units Fatigue as well as making them less effective and more susceptible to become a Broken Unit, which gives them Aberrant Status and lowers the amount of AP they create. TURN 1: PLAYER PHASE - ROUND ONE Now that we have determined AP for each player we move into the Player Phase. Anna won the initiative roll so she will be the first Active Player, with Ben being the Reactive Player. She expends 1AP then declares that she will activate her fireteam using a Move Action. She does not have to say if it is a short or long action or what her move will be at this time. This creates a priority window known as a Trigger Point that Ben, the Reactive Player, can declare a response to her action. He can choose to respond with a Steal Initiative by declaring his response and expending 1AP. If he doesn’t choose to respond, he would not get another opportunity to respond in this manner. Ben chooses to wait to see what direction Anna will go so he passes. Anna’s action will now resolve, this is when she would do her action. She knows currently her opponent doesn't have LoS (line of sight) so she decides to take a Long Move Action Sprint. Sprint allows her to double her movement and able to dive for cover if able too. Diving for Cover lets a unit move half of its base size to touch against a terrain that would provide cover if it can. She can choose to expend another Activation Point to activate the second unit or pass to let her opponent move. At this time she does not want to expend a point but instead wants to hold them in reserve to see how Ben moves. TURN 1: PLAYER PHASE - ROUND TWO Ben will now become the Active Player, while Anna becomes the Reactive Player. Ben uses 1AP to activate fireteam Alpha, declaring a Move Action. This opens a priority window, Trigger Point, to which Anna can respond. She chooses to pass, to not respond to the trigger. Since Anna passed Ben's move action will now resolve, he declares it will be a Short Move Action and moves his unit forward. For his second action, he also does another Short Move Action moving forward, staying out of line of sight of his opponents units. Ben chooses to spend another Activation Point to activate the second unit, maintaining himself as the Active Player. He chooses to activate his other fireteam with a Move Action, creating a Trigger Point. Anna declares she will respond to Steal Initiative by expending 1AP to activate Ethan. This does create another priority window, Trigger Point, that Ben could also Steal Initiative back by expending 1AP. However since he has already activated two units this round, it would mean the unit would have Fatigue status. Sometimes that risk is definitely worth it, but for now, he will pass and wait. Anna will use a Short Move Action using his units jump jets to leap up to the higher platform. She doesn't have to worry about line of sight at this time. He does another Short Move Action to use his jump jets to get to the top, putting her unit it a better sniping position. Ben will now finish his actions for his second unit. That fireteam will use a Long Move Action Sprint to move forward. Since Ben has activated 2 units during his Active Player round, the round will automatically pass to Anna now. TURN 1: PLAYER PHASE - ROUND THREE Round Three, Anna is the Active Player with Ben the Reactive Player. She spends 1AP to activate Emma King with a move action, creating a Trigger Point (priority window). Ben responds with Stealing Initiative, spending 1AP to activate Akila Reis which creates another Trigger Point. Anna decides to not respond and instead pass to Ben. That means Ben will resolve his actions first. He uses his first action as a Short Move Action to move Akila forward more. Then for his second Short Move Action, he does a Cautious Move, which will let him move forward without creating a trigger from an opposing unit. But he has to be out of LoS to start to move and end out of LoS as well. This allows him to avoid triggering Anna's sniper who would have had LoS. Anna will now resolve the actions for Emma King. She uses two Short Move Actions to move her forward and turning so it is facing towards her other fireteam. TURN 1: PLAYER PHASE - ROUND FOUR Round Four, Ben is the Active Player with Anna as the Reactive Player. He spends 1AP to activate his fireteam Omega with a Short Move Action. This creates a Trigger Point (priority window), in which Anna chooses to Steal Initiative. She spends 1AP to activate Emma King using a Special Action, this creates another Trigger Point (priority window), in which Ben chooses to Steal Initiative as well by spending 1AP to activate his other fireteam for a Move Action. Anna chooses to not Steal Initiative a second time because she doesn't want any units to have Fatigue. Ben resolves his fireteam Alpha, using a Short Move Action. He uses his units special ability to teleport his unit into the building where the objective is. Then he uses his second action for another Short Move Action to get into position with the terminal. Anna will now get to resolve her hero Emma King's actions. She is going uses a Long Action to use her unit's special ability. As long as her unit is not within line of sight or within a Hostile Zone of an enemy (6" radius around a unit) her unit can energize a power armor unit. It essentially gives her activation to the unit within LoS of her choosing (providing it is a power armor unit) and doesn't trigger the "Activation token". That means if the unit had activated twice, it wouldn't gain fatigue or if it had activated once already, it wouldn't switch over to the red state. Her Corer fireteam will use 2 Short Actions to enter the building. Ben will now resolve his initial unit that started the round (first in, last out order sequence). His fireteam is locked into doing a Move Action. The question is will he charge forward or instead choose to wait. Deciding to be aggressive he does a Short Move Action to teleport his units into the building, this will trigger Anna's unit letting her respond. They both choose to Combat Actions. Ben's fireteam is in base to base contact, with support from the fireteam units touching their base. The third is shooting. Combat is handled individually but resolves simultaneous. Although we handle each units rolls separately in this situation, all damage doesn't take effect until the end so all units get their responses in. Two of Ben's units are killed, one of Anna's units is killed and the other is has 2 wounds. Anna's first skill check for her Secondary Objective was a failure. Her second roll was also a failure, neither of the downed opponents met her requirements. TURN 1: PLAYER PHASE - ROUND FIVE Round Five, Anna is the Active Player with Ben as the Reactive Player. Anna spends 1AP to activate her fireteam to use a Special Action creating a Trigger Point. Ben chooses to Steal Initiative, spending 1AP to activate his fireteam alpha. This gives his unit Fatigue status reducing their stats. Since Anna doesn't have any more moves, he figures he is safe at this point. Ben's unit uses a Long Action to interface with the terminal to Implant False Data. He win's his skill check and achieves his Secondary Objective. Anna will now resolve her unit's actions. Anna's fireteam takes a Long Action to interface with the terminal. She successfully rolls and succeeds with her skill check, achieving the Primary Objective of Data Retrieval. Her action does trigger a response from Ben's fireteam who is in LoS. He chooses a Combat Action response, getting a success but Anna successfully makes an armor save. Anna has no more AP, so the round automatically passes to the next player. TURN 1: PLAYER PHASE - ROUND SIX Round Six, Ben is the Active Player with Anna as the Reactive Player. Ben spends his last AP to activate Akila using a Long Move Action to sprint her across the field. TURN 1 : END PHASE We now move into the End Phase for Turn 1. Any end of turn effects happen, that removes activation tokens as well as Fatigue status. The Primary Objective was obtained which triggers an Extraction Point for Anna's team. She rolls a D10 to randomly choose which of the 4 sectors of her deployment zone that extraction will happen. For each of the four 12" square sections of her deployment zone, she will roll. 2,3 is the left most; 4,5 the next one over; 6,7 the next one over; Finally 8,9 is the right most section. 1 is a critical failure, which lets her opponent choose which section and 10 is a success which lets her choose. She rolls a 9 making the far right sector the extraction point that she needs to get her units to successfully end the game. TURN 2 : START PHASE Neither side has lost their commander. All units, for the most part, are still intact, so Anna gets 5AP while Ben gets 7AP. TURN 2 : PLAYER PHASE - ROUND ONE Anna is the Active Player, with Ben as the Reactive Player. Anna spends 1AP to activate her fireteam, creating a Trigger Point. Ben responds to Steal Initiative by spending 1AP to activate fireteam Alpha, creating another Trigger Point. Anna responds to Steal Initiative by expending another AP to activate Emma King. Emma King's actions will resolve first. She uses a Short Move Action to move forward, crossing line of sight of Ben's hero. He chooses to shoot and her response is to dodge. He inflicts one wound onto Emma before she moves behind cover. Ben's fireteam will activate now. He uses a long action to do his Data Retrieval. He fails the roll, failing to get anything from this terminal. He will have to try the other terminal now. Anna's fireteam can now resolve their actions. She chooses a combat action, which triggers a response from Ben's fireteam that is in line of sight. His response is to shoot back. Ben inflicts a killing blow onto the unit that was wounded earlier. Anna's unit destroys one of Ben's units as well, knocking the other one unconscious. Both units now gain Aberrant Status, each player also loses 1AP now that the fireteams are Broken. Anna makes a willpower roll and fails, retreating back. Ben makes his willpower roll and is able to stay there. TURN 2 : PLAYER PHASE - ROUND TWO Ben is the Active Player, with Anna as the Reactive Player. Ben uses 1AP on Akila for a Move Action, creating a Trigger Point. Anna steals the Initiative to activate Emma. Ben passes and chooses to not Steal Initiative back. Anna uses a Short Move Action to move her unit into base to base with the Broken Fireteam. For her second short action, she uses a special ability that allows her to join the fireteam, removing their Broken Status. Ben uses a Long Action to Sprint his unit over towards the incapacitated unit. END OF GAME I apologize if it is a bit messy. I tried to recreate as much as the game as I could after the video loss. At this point is where our notes of the game and audio vanishes so not a lot of information to recreate from. However, we do know how the game ended up ending. Ben revived his unconscious unit, finished achieving the Primary Objective and had an Extraction Point created. They were making their way to the extraction point but Anna was just able to get to her's faster and ended the game. Then we move into adding up the Objective Points. Anna was able to make it to the Extraction Point and safely extract the rest of her units. Tallying up her points, she received a total of 6 points. She got 3 points for achieving the Primary Objective, 2 points for achieving her Secondary Objective, 1 point of a successful extraction and 1 point for destroying more than 50-100 points of opposing units. Ben was able to get an Extraction Point but he didn't make it in time. He received 3 points for achieving the Primary Objective, 1 point for his Secondary Objective and 1 point for destroying more than 50-100 points of opposing units. However, his Secondary Objective has some special text to it. Although it only gives 1 point as a Secondary Objective, it removes 1 point from the opponent if the primary mission was Data Retrieval. It also removes a second point from the opposing unit if the Secondary Objective was achieved before the Primary Objective. The final tally of points is Anna with a total of 5 points. She had 7 points originally, but after subtracting 2 because of Ben's Secondary Objective that left her with 5. Ben was able to achieve a total of 5 points. The first tie breaker goes to the amount of damage inflicted. Anna inflicted 75 points of damage to enemy units, while Ben inflicted 100 points so he ends up winning the Scenario. It could have easily gone the other way around. There were a couple tactical mistakes that the players made. Are you able to spot what they could have done differently?/ Part 1 - Playing Code Zero: Introduction Part 2 - Playing the Game: Action | Reaction System Part 3 | Game Playthrough View full article
  7. One of the main reasons for designing a game is to take something that was existed and improve upon it. That means identifying an issue, looking at examples of how others have implemented it, weighing in the pros/cons and then putting your own spin on it. Sometimes a new design simply comes from "I wish we could have done that" then create a method to allow something that previously couldn't happen. One of the main reasons for designing a game is to take something that was existed and improve upon it. That means identifying an issue, looking at examples of how others have implemented it, weighing in the pros/cons and then putting your own spin on it. Sometimes a new design simply comes from "I wish we could have done that" then create a method to allow something that previously couldn't happen. Looking from a miniatures game perspective, when playing a game there is probably nothing more annoying than making a mistake. Little mistakes because of how items are abstracted in games can cascade into a much worse mistake. It is a blow to morale when you end up in a situation, that it seems hopeless which in turn affects the enjoyment of the game. We as gamers suspend disbelief because there are many things that can't be represented accurately so they are abstracted. Take a traditional IGO-UGO system. You are setup in a room, waiting to strike, then the opponent simply walks in shoots at your troops and you have no ability to respond to it. You start to ask, "When does that happen normally, I should have at least gotten one shot off". Timing, initiative and other factors affect that but they are nuances that factor into it. One one side a player can say, that is a bad play because it could have been predicted. That is part of the strategy, trying to determine how an opposing player will react to where your position is. Even though they walked across an open area to enter the building it should have been able to be seen. The Action/Reaction system is something that was created to try to bridge those differences. There a number of games that utilize that system in different methods, when one player takes an action, the opposing player can react with certain actions. It allows the players to not have a harder time suspending disbelief, creates interaction between players that normally didn't exist. There are still issues with the system though as each game system has pros/cons. I'm going to take a step back and look at a gaming system that has refined action/reaction to an almost science. Action/reaction are at the heart of the majority of card games like Magic the Gathering or World of Warcraft TCG. In a nutshell, they gain resources per turn, using those resources to play cards. When an active player has priority and plays a card, priority passes to their opponent who might be able to respond. The rules themselves sound complex and are a bear to read through but the application of the system is fairly straightforward. Action | Reaction System An example of a well-known Action/Reaction system is basically an IGO-UGO activation with reaction response built into it. The Active Player activates their units, one at a time and does their actions. The Reactive Player responds usually when one of the Active Players models cross line of sight. They resolve rolls. This continues until the Active Player can no longer activate any more models. Then they switch roles. The Reactive Player role although interacting is more of a “sit and wait”. There is also no limitation on a number of times a unit can be activated in a turn. It is a great game, solid system but still has the issue at points where suspending disbelief becomes harder. We wanted to do things a bit different to create some interesting and unique opportunities in a battle. We felt this simulated cinematic action movie sequences better as well as providing more opportunities for players. In Code Zero activation is not IGO-UGO, it is an alternate activation. That means during a game turn the roles will switch back and forth. We also wanted there to be a method for the Reactive Player to respond to an action without it requiring the Active Player to cross line of sight. Although we don’t put a hard limit on a number of times a unit can be activated, there is a soft limit. If you wanted to run a unit from one side of the board, spending all your activations points, to the other side you could but it comes at a cost… they get tired and gain fatigue from being overworked. Standard Activation - 2 Short Actions 1| Active Player: The Active Player spends 1 Activation Point choosing to activate a unit declaring their first action. Example: “I’m going to activate this fireteam and do a move action”. 1A| Trigger Point: This is a priority window that opens up allowing the Reactive Player to respond the Active Player’s actions. 2| Reactive Player: The Reactive Player can declare to respond if the activating unit is within line of sight of one of the Reactive Player’s units. Since this is the first action of that unit, this is a special opportunity that they can choose to Steal Initiative. They would spend 1AP and choose a unit to activate. This swaps the Active|Reactive roles temporarily as the Reactive Player’s unit will resolve their actions first. They could also choose to do nothing and pass. Example: “I don’t have a response, pass” 3| Active Player: The Active Player now moves his unit that he chose to activate to where he is going to end up. Example: “I am using a Short Move Action to move my movement of 4” to here” 3A| Trigger Point: If the Active Player’s unit crosses line of sight with any Reactive Player’s units this creates a trigger to allow the Reactive Player to respond. Example: In this case, he doesn’t cross any line of sight with any units. 4| Active Player: The Active Player now declares his 2nd short action. 4A| Trigger Point: This is a priority window that opens up allowing the Reactive Player to respond to the Active Player’s actions. Unlike the first priority window that opened up, only players in Line of Sight can respond. Activation and Steal Initiative 1| Active Player: The Active Player spends 1 Activation Point choosing to activate a unit declaring their first action. Example: “I’m going to activate this fireteam and do a move action”. 1A| Trigger Point: This is a priority window that opens up allowing the Reactive Player to respond the Active Player’s actions. 2| Reactive Player: The Reactive Player can declare to respond if the activating unit is within line of sight of one of the Reactive Player’s units. Since this is the first action of that unit, this is a special opportunity that they can choose to Steal Initiative. They would spend 1AP and choose a unit to activate. This swaps the Active|Reactive roles temporarily as the Reactive Player’s unit will resolve their actions first. They could also choose to do nothing and pass. Example: “In response, I’m going to activate this fireteam and do a move action.” The Reactive Player now temporarily takes over the Active Player role, while the Active Player becomes the Reactive Player. They would declare and do their 2 actions. If it triggered any reactions from the Reactive Player those would be handled normally. Once those actions are complete, roles get returned to normal. Example: In this example, there were no units who could react to Player-B moving their units. 3| Active Player: The Active Player now moves his unit that he chose to activate to where he is going to end up. Example: “I am using a Short Move Action to move my movement of 4” to here” 3A| Trigger Point: If the Active Player’s unit crosses line of sight with any Reactive Player’s units this creates a trigger to allow the Reactive Player to respond. Example: In this case, he doesn’t cross any line of sight with any units. 4| Active Player: The Active Player now declares his 2nd short action. 4A| Trigger Point: This is a priority window that opens up allowing the Reactive Player to respond to the Active Player’s actions. Unlike the first priority window that opened up, only players in Line of Sight can respond. Activation and Chain Reaction 1| Active Player: The Active Player spends 1 Activation Point choosing to activate a unit declaring their first action. Example: “I’m going to activate this fireteam and do a move action”. 1A| Trigger Point: This is a priority window that opens up allowing the Reactive Player to respond the Active Player’s actions. 2| Reactive Player: The Reactive Player declares he is going to Steal Initiative and activate one of his fireteams to do a move action. Unlike before the Active Player didn’t have any other units that could have benefited her doing a response. However, in this example she does have Sergeant who Steals Initiative back. 3| Active Player: The Active Player spends 1AP and chooses to activate her Sergeant. This creates a Chain Reaction. The Reactive Player could also Steal Initiative again BUT it would come at a cost, that unit would gain “Fatigue” status. In this example, he chooses to not respond. 4| Active Player: Uses the units special ability to use a jump pack, allowing her to have her unit leap putting it on top of the building and gaining high ground. Now the Reactive Player would then resolve their actions, then finally the Active Player would resolve the actions of the first unit. Resources Are Valuable Activation Points are your resources and resource management is an important part of the game. Some people might be asking, "Why would someone want to do that?". I hope that becomes more clear in the gameplay run-through. I apologize for the animated gifs, hopefully, they didn't confuse things. I have never worked with them before but I was trying to find a way to demonstrate without having 50 pictures for the examples. Hopefully, that worked a bit. On paper, it can sound complex and complicated. If you are familiar with a certain TCG then it should be easier to grasp and understand. Decisions become important. However bad decisions don't necessarily cause a cascade effect that a player can't bounce back from. They can but at a cost, move a unit out of danger providing you can predict that was where the player was going to go. Keep in mind you don't know what their secondary objective is. The only information you have at that time is the unit they are activating and what that action is (move, combat or special action). If it was a move action, you don't have the information of where they will move yet. When you choose to move or not to move can become important. A Reactive Player can only Steal Initiative once per round in the Player Phase unless they want to give the activated unit Fatigue status. One round in the Player Phase is when the Active Player has activated 1-2 units, then the Active Player and Reactive Player switch roles. This alternating activation happens until they are both out of Activation Points. Part 3 will cover a battle report for a game going through the whole game, bringing everything we have covered together. Part 1 - Playing Code Zero: Introduction Part 2 - Playing the Game: Action | Reaction System Part 3 | Game Playthrough
  8. One of the main reasons for designing a game is to take something that was existed and improve upon it. That means identifying an issue, looking at examples of how others have implemented it, weighing in the pros/cons and then putting your own spin on it. Sometimes a new design simply comes from "I wish we could have done that" then create a method to allow something that previously couldn't happen. One of the main reasons for designing a game is to take something that was existed and improve upon it. That means identifying an issue, looking at examples of how others have implemented it, weighing in the pros/cons and then putting your own spin on it. Sometimes a new design simply comes from "I wish we could have done that" then create a method to allow something that previously couldn't happen. One of the main reasons for designing a game is to take something that was existed and improve upon it. That means identifying an issue, looking at examples of how others have implemented it, weighing in the pros/cons and then putting your own spin on it. Sometimes a new design simply comes from "I wish we could have done that" then create a method to allow something that previously couldn't happen. Looking from a miniatures game perspective, when playing a game there is probably nothing more annoying than making a mistake. Little mistakes because of how items are abstracted in games can cascade into a much worse mistake. It is a blow to morale when you end up in a situation, that it seems hopeless which in turn affects the enjoyment of the game. We as gamers suspend disbelief because there are many things that can't be represented accurately so they are abstracted. Take a traditional IGO-UGO system. You are setup in a room, waiting to strike, then the opponent simply walks in shoots at your troops and you have no ability to respond to it. You start to ask, "When does that happen normally, I should have at least gotten one shot off". Timing, initiative and other factors affect that but they are nuances that factor into it. One one side a player can say, that is a bad play because it could have been predicted. That is part of the strategy, trying to determine how an opposing player will react to where your position is. Even though they walked across an open area to enter the building it should have been able to be seen. The Action/Reaction system is something that was created to try to bridge those differences. There a number of games that utilize that system in different methods, when one player takes an action, the opposing player can react with certain actions. It allows the players to not have a harder time suspending disbelief, creates interaction between players that normally didn't exist. There are still issues with the system though as each game system has pros/cons. I'm going to take a step back and look at a gaming system that has refined action/reaction to an almost science. Action/reaction are at the heart of the majority of card games like Magic the Gathering or World of Warcraft TCG. In a nutshell, they gain resources per turn, using those resources to play cards. When an active player has priority and plays a card, priority passes to their opponent who might be able to respond. The rules themselves sound complex and are a bear to read through but the application of the system is fairly straightforward. Action | Reaction System An example of a well-known Action/Reaction system is basically an IGO-UGO activation with reaction response built into it. The Active Player activates their units, one at a time and does their actions. The Reactive Player responds usually when one of the Active Players models cross line of sight. They resolve rolls. This continues until the Active Player can no longer activate any more models. Then they switch roles. The Reactive Player role although interacting is more of a “sit and wait”. There is also no limitation on a number of times a unit can be activated in a turn. It is a great game, solid system but still has the issue at points where suspending disbelief becomes harder. We wanted to do things a bit different to create some interesting and unique opportunities in a battle. We felt this simulated cinematic action movie sequences better as well as providing more opportunities for players. In Code Zero activation is not IGO-UGO, it is an alternate activation. That means during a game turn the roles will switch back and forth. We also wanted there to be a method for the Reactive Player to respond to an action without it requiring the Active Player to cross line of sight. Although we don’t put a hard limit on a number of times a unit can be activated, there is a soft limit. If you wanted to run a unit from one side of the board, spending all your activations points, to the other side you could but it comes at a cost… they get tired and gain fatigue from being overworked. Standard Activation - 2 Short Actions 1| Active Player: The Active Player spends 1 Activation Point choosing to activate a unit declaring their first action. Example: “I’m going to activate this fireteam and do a move action”. 1A| Trigger Point: This is a priority window that opens up allowing the Reactive Player to respond the Active Player’s actions. 2| Reactive Player: The Reactive Player can declare to respond if the activating unit is within line of sight of one of the Reactive Player’s units. Since this is the first action of that unit, this is a special opportunity that they can choose to Steal Initiative. They would spend 1AP and choose a unit to activate. This swaps the Active|Reactive roles temporarily as the Reactive Player’s unit will resolve their actions first. They could also choose to do nothing and pass. Example: “I don’t have a response, pass” 3| Active Player: The Active Player now moves his unit that he chose to activate to where he is going to end up. Example: “I am using a Short Move Action to move my movement of 4” to here” 3A| Trigger Point: If the Active Player’s unit crosses line of sight with any Reactive Player’s units this creates a trigger to allow the Reactive Player to respond. Example: In this case, he doesn’t cross any line of sight with any units. 4| Active Player: The Active Player now declares his 2nd short action. 4A| Trigger Point: This is a priority window that opens up allowing the Reactive Player to respond to the Active Player’s actions. Unlike the first priority window that opened up, only players in Line of Sight can respond. Activation and Steal Initiative 1| Active Player: The Active Player spends 1 Activation Point choosing to activate a unit declaring their first action. Example: “I’m going to activate this fireteam and do a move action”. 1A| Trigger Point: This is a priority window that opens up allowing the Reactive Player to respond the Active Player’s actions. 2| Reactive Player: The Reactive Player can declare to respond if the activating unit is within line of sight of one of the Reactive Player’s units. Since this is the first action of that unit, this is a special opportunity that they can choose to Steal Initiative. They would spend 1AP and choose a unit to activate. This swaps the Active|Reactive roles temporarily as the Reactive Player’s unit will resolve their actions first. They could also choose to do nothing and pass. Example: “In response, I’m going to activate this fireteam and do a move action.” The Reactive Player now temporarily takes over the Active Player role, while the Active Player becomes the Reactive Player. They would declare and do their 2 actions. If it triggered any reactions from the Reactive Player those would be handled normally. Once those actions are complete, roles get returned to normal. Example: In this example, there were no units who could react to Player-B moving their units. 3| Active Player: The Active Player now moves his unit that he chose to activate to where he is going to end up. Example: “I am using a Short Move Action to move my movement of 4” to here” 3A| Trigger Point: If the Active Player’s unit crosses line of sight with any Reactive Player’s units this creates a trigger to allow the Reactive Player to respond. Example: In this case, he doesn’t cross any line of sight with any units. 4| Active Player: The Active Player now declares his 2nd short action. 4A| Trigger Point: This is a priority window that opens up allowing the Reactive Player to respond to the Active Player’s actions. Unlike the first priority window that opened up, only players in Line of Sight can respond. Activation and Chain Reaction 1| Active Player: The Active Player spends 1 Activation Point choosing to activate a unit declaring their first action. Example: “I’m going to activate this fireteam and do a move action”. 1A| Trigger Point: This is a priority window that opens up allowing the Reactive Player to respond the Active Player’s actions. 2| Reactive Player: The Reactive Player declares he is going to Steal Initiative and activate one of his fireteams to do a move action. Unlike before the Active Player didn’t have any other units that could have benefited her doing a response. However, in this example she does have Sergeant who Steals Initiative back. 3| Active Player: The Active Player spends 1AP and chooses to activate her Sergeant. This creates a Chain Reaction. The Reactive Player could also Steal Initiative again BUT it would come at a cost, that unit would gain “Fatigue” status. In this example, he chooses to not respond. 4| Active Player: Uses the units special ability to use a jump pack, allowing her to have her unit leap putting it on top of the building and gaining high ground. Now the Reactive Player would then resolve their actions, then finally the Active Player would resolve the actions of the first unit. Resources Are Valuable Activation Points are your resources and resource management is an important part of the game. Some people might be asking, "Why would someone want to do that?". I hope that becomes more clear in the gameplay run-through. I apologize for the animated gifs, hopefully, they didn't confuse things. I have never worked with them before but I was trying to find a way to demonstrate without having 50 pictures for the examples. Hopefully, that worked a bit. On paper, it can sound complex and complicated. If you are familiar with a certain TCG then it should be easier to grasp and understand. Decisions become important. However bad decisions don't necessarily cause a cascade effect that a player can't bounce back from. They can but at a cost, move a unit out of danger providing you can predict that was where the player was going to go. Keep in mind you don't know what their secondary objective is. The only information you have at that time is the unit they are activating and what that action is (move, combat or special action). If it was a move action, you don't have the information of where they will move yet. When you choose to move or not to move can become important. A Reactive Player can only Steal Initiative once per round in the Player Phase unless they want to give the activated unit Fatigue status. One round in the Player Phase is when the Active Player has activated 1-2 units, then the Active Player and Reactive Player switch roles. This alternating activation happens until they are both out of Activation Points. Part 3 will cover a battle report for a game going through the whole game, bringing everything we have covered together. Part 1 - Playing Code Zero: Introduction Part 2 - Playing the Game: Action | Reaction System Part 3 | Game Playthrough View full article
  9. Miniatures are great to collect, paint and have but at the same time they really shine when you have a rule system to go with them. We have already established the baseline for our lore, history for the environment and the universe that the game takes place in. Now it needs some rules to go with the story. I have covered various parts of game design and our process on a couple blogs, here I’ll start with the basic outline we created. This outline was a list of things that we knew we wanted the game to incorporate and do. Code Zero originally evolved from a card game design that was similar to some popular TCG (Trading Card Games). The players gain X resources a turn, these resources are used to do actions and other players react to those actions. From there we evolved that into a miniatures skirmish game, keeping the action/reaction system. From the brief description, it can sound similar to other popular miniatures game with similar systems, but the experience is much different. The main focus of the game becomes almost like a chess match, where one player’s actions can have more of an impact or interaction with the other player. The game has a good ebb and flow, with the back and forth between players putting the strategy more on timing and maneuvering. Game Outline Skirmish Game Scaleable games utilizing a few miniatures (5 models) but able to handle squad based games (15-30 models). A Squad is made up of 1-3 fireteams which consist of 3-5 models per fireteam. Squad commanded by a hero who is a ranked commander like a Lieutenant or Sergeant. For every squad, you can have up to 2 Lieutenants or Sergeants (single models). Uses D10 Gameplay should have a cinematic feel to combat and movement. Activation Point System Activations Points are utilized to activate units. AP is generated based on unit type. Single units generate 1AP, while fireteams generate 3AP. Activation allows 2 short actions or 1 long action. You can’t use all activations on just one or two units, but you aren’t limited to only one activate per unit. Units can usually be activated up 2 times in a turn, otherwise, they gain a negative status trait “Fatigue”. Alternate Activation but don’t just limit it to 1 activation per round. Ability to steal the initiative. Campaign / Scenario System Missions are about achieving objectives, not simply wiping out the other player. A scenario is a basic one-shot game that most game systems use. A campaign is a set of 3-5 scenarios. Right now the outline can seem similar to other games out there with some minor changes. We will need to better define how it is different. But before we jump into that, we need to take a step back. Taking A Step Back “Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.” - James Baldwin Paraphrased the same saying goes, “You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.” Instead of jumping into things, it is good to take a step back to examine other game systems or more so the negatives of some of those mechanics. This understanding will help create an outline and goals for what we want to accomplish. There are many mechanics that make up a game, even a simple game can have multiple layers. For that reason, we want to break it up into more manageable pieces. For this segment, we’ll focus on game size, initiative, deployment, and objectives. 6’x6’ gaming table is a large table, most dining room tables are either 6’x4’ or 4’x4’. If the game surface is too big, it then becomes less accessible to the average person and requires a more specialized play surface. Too large of an area for a small game means wasted space, also more expensive to get terrain to properly cover the table effectively. For many games, initiative and deployment usually go hand in hand. Players have a roll-off, with the winner choosing to deploy or go first. There are a couple variations of this, but they all still put a strong position on winning the roll. Either going first and/or having the first pick of a better deployment zone can have a huge impact on the game. Not just simply choosing a better spot but also knowing how to properly deploy. If a player is going second, they make a mistake deploying, then it becomes even harder to come back from, which can lead to a poor game experience. If the game doesn’t have objectives, then the goal is usually wipe out the opposing force.There are subtle differences between systems but mistakes cascade negatively on themselves. That is a simplifying it a bit but it explains the general outline and why we wanted to make some changes. Code Zero Game Setup Code Zero can play on a 6’x4’ game table but ultimately it is designed to work with a 4’x4’. We did some testing with 3’x3’ games but they tend to be short but lack room to allow effective maneuvering of units. 4’x4’ was a good middle ground between the large game table and small game area. The game does require terrain but having an effective, dynamic game table with terrain doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. There are many inexpensive options from laser cut terrain, board/card terrain or simply just creating your own buildings. It only takes a little imagination, some time and paints to make a good looking and effective game table. Most of the terrain we suggest are buildings, crates, and walls since battles tend to take place in populated or city environments. You usually want terrain to block line of sight, requiring units to move around instead of simply shooting at each other across the table. A good basis to start with is to have a minimum of eight big terrain pieces and 6 small pieces of terrain. We suggest having an asymmetric table, meaning that both sides are not identical. This creates an artificial imbalance by giving an advantage to one side of the table over another. Objectives, Scenarios, and Campaigns The game is Objective based. There is a public objective that both players are trying to accomplish as well as private objectives only known to them. We use an Objective Deck that is shuffled up. The first card is flipped which becomes the Primary Objective that both players are trying to achieve. The players then each draw 3 cards and keep 1 of them, creating their Secondary Objective. This is a private objective only known to them until it is accomplished and then it is revealed. This can have an additional impact on how players deploy their units. Some objective examples: Hacker Infiltration, Locate the Admin, Rescue Unit, First Blood, Forward Observation, Sabotage, Data Retrieval, Terminate, Infection, Assassinate, Rescue Hostage, Implant False Data, and Aggressive Deployment. If you are only playing 1 short game, we consider that a Scenario. It is a basic one-shot game, achieve the objectives and then get to the extraction point to get out or eliminate the other team. This would probably be considered more of a casual game environment. In order to create a wider range and emphasis on the importance of decisions we also added a Campaign system. A Campaign is a set of 3-5 scenarios. You have a higher battle value to create your army with. However, it places an importance on heroes, fireteams that are destroyed can be replaced in other scenarios but heroes can’t. The goal is to win the majority of points within the scenarios to get the most points and win the campaign. The campaign setting would be considered a tournament environment as that is the setting it was designed for. Someone could lose a scenario or two but still win the campaign depending on their points. However surviving becomes important as you only have X amount of points for all the scenarios in that campaign. As you lose units, you use up those points to where you might not be able to replace lost units. Initiative and Deployment Now that the game table is setup, objectives have been chosen. We need to look at how we handle initiative, deployment and their relationship with the rest of the game. Players will roll against each other for the Initiative Roll. The winner will then get to choose between “Activating First” or “Deploying First”. We have an asymmetric table setup, which puts reliance on someone wanting to have the first pick to deploy. We have also chosen the objectives, one is public so we at least know the main thing both players are working towards. The secondary objective is private, one chosen to suit that players strike force, play style, and table. That can impact if they still want to deploy first or activate first. How can we lessen the impact of losing the initiative roll as well deploying badly? Objectives was a small step into lessening the impact. Players can win based on points even by only achieving the secondary objective but without knowing the other players secondary objective, they have that same opportunity. We added a type of reaction called “Steal Initiative” which is tied into the Action/Reaction system we’ll get to later, but this softens against not going first. Traditionally games deploy in an IGO-UGO fashion, where the player that wins deployment deploys their whole army. Then the opposing players deploy. Some variations allow them to keep a couple units back to deploy after the opposing player. We took this a step further with alternating deployment. Instead of creating an “all eggs in one basket” scenario, it creates back and forth almost chess type interaction. The player deploying first chooses to deploy 1-2 units. They could deploy 2 or only 1, then the opposing player gets to deploy in their zone 1-2 units. The players alternate until all units have been deployed. This allows players, based on the known knowledge of objectives better anticipate and plan how to deal with each other. Instead of one playing placing all forces one side of the zone. Then the other player placing on the far opposite. It instead lets the player distribute units based on the opposing player's unit placement. Now that everyone is placed, the player that has “Activating First” gets to activate their unit first. Players use an alternating system to activate. The first Active Player will activate 1-2 units, while the opposing player is the Reactive Player. Then they alternate roles until there are no more Activation Points left to activate units. One of the actions that a Reactive Player can take when an Active Player expends 1 Activation Point to activate a unit for their first action is “Steal Initiative”. It allows the roles of Active Player and Reactive Player to temporarily switch, letting that player expend 1 Activation Point to activate their unit. With all the small, subtle changes that we have made and combined with how the system works, it has a larger impact on how a game will unfold. By simply changing the order of events in some cases, it drastically alters game play. This creates a unique experience because of how they mix along with the order of events changing. We can do some things that usually wasn’t available to do as well, like a feint for example. The next article will be, "Part 2 - Action | Reaction System" in which will we explain more in depth about the Action | Reaction System we use and how it is different than the traditional known ones. There is a lot to cover under it so it will need its own post but I wanted to set the basics up first. Part 1 - Playing Code Zero: Introduction Part 2 - Playing the Game: Action | Reaction System Part 3 | Game Playthrough
  10. Miniatures are great to collect, paint and have but at the same time they really shine when you have a rule system to go with them. We have already established the baseline for our lore, history for the environment and the universe that the game takes place in. Now it needs some rules to go with the story. I have covered various parts of game design and our process in a couple blogs, here I’ll start with the basic outline we created. This outline was a list of things that we knew we wanted the game to incorporate and do. Miniatures are great to collect, paint and have but at the same time they really shine when you have a rule system to go with them. We have already established the baseline for our lore, history for the environment and the universe that the game takes place in. Now it needs some rules to go with the story. I have covered various parts of game design and our process on a couple blogs, here I’ll start with the basic outline we created. This outline was a list of things that we knew we wanted the game to incorporate and do. Code Zero originally evolved from a card game design that was similar to some popular TCG (Trading Card Games). The players gain X resources a turn, these resources are used to do actions and other players react to those actions. From there we evolved that into a miniatures skirmish game, keeping the action/reaction system. From the brief description, it can sound similar to other popular miniatures game with similar systems, but the experience is much different. The main focus of the game becomes almost like a chess match, where one player’s actions can have more of an impact or interaction with the other player. The game has a good ebb and flow, with the back and forth between players putting the strategy more on timing and maneuvering. Game Outline Skirmish Game Scaleable games utilizing a few miniatures (5 models) but able to handle squad based games (15-30 models). A Squad is made up of 1-3 fireteams which consist of 3-5 models per fireteam. Squad commanded by a hero who is a ranked commander like a Lieutenant or Sergeant. For every squad, you can have up to 2 Lieutenants or Sergeants (single models). Uses D10 Gameplay should have a cinematic feel to combat and movement. Activation Point System Activations Points are utilized to activate units. AP is generated based on unit type. Single units generate 1AP, while fireteams generate 3AP. Activation allows 2 short actions or 1 long action. You can’t use all activations on just one or two units, but you aren’t limited to only one activate per unit. Units can usually be activated up 2 times in a turn, otherwise, they gain a negative status trait “Fatigue”. Alternate Activation but don’t just limit it to 1 activation per round. Ability to steal the initiative. Campaign / Scenario System Missions are about achieving objectives, not simply wiping out the other player. A scenario is a basic one-shot game that most game systems use. A campaign is a set of 3-5 scenarios. Right now the outline can seem similar to other games out there with some minor changes. We will need to better define how it is different. But before we jump into that, we need to take a step back. Taking A Step Back “Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.” - James Baldwin Paraphrased the same saying goes, “You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.” Instead of jumping into things, it is good to take a step back to examine other game systems or more so the negatives of some of those mechanics. This understanding will help create an outline and goals for what we want to accomplish. There are many mechanics that make up a game, even a simple game can have multiple layers. For that reason, we want to break it up into more manageable pieces. For this segment, we’ll focus on game size, initiative, deployment, and objectives. 6’x6’ gaming table is a large table, most dining room tables are either 6’x4’ or 4’x4’. If the game surface is too big, it then becomes less accessible to the average person and requires a more specialized play surface. Too large of an area for a small game means wasted space, also more expensive to get terrain to properly cover the table effectively. For many games, initiative and deployment usually go hand in hand. Players have a roll-off, with the winner choosing to deploy or go first. There are a couple variations of this, but they all still put a strong position on winning the roll. Either going first and/or having the first pick of a better deployment zone can have a huge impact on the game. Not just simply choosing a better spot but also knowing how to properly deploy. If a player is going second, they make a mistake deploying, then it becomes even harder to come back from, which can lead to a poor game experience. If the game doesn’t have objectives, then the goal is usually wipe out the opposing force.There are subtle differences between systems but mistakes cascade negatively on themselves. That is a simplifying it a bit but it explains the general outline and why we wanted to make some changes. Code Zero Game Setup Code Zero can play on a 6’x4’ game table but ultimately it is designed to work with a 4’x4’. We did some testing with 3’x3’ games but they tend to be short but lack room to allow effective maneuvering of units. 4’x4’ was a good middle ground between the large game table and small game area. The game does require terrain but having an effective, dynamic game table with terrain doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. There are many inexpensive options from laser cut terrain, board/card terrain or simply just creating your own buildings. It only takes a little imagination, some time and paints to make a good looking and effective game table. Most of the terrain we suggest are buildings, crates, and walls since battles tend to take place in populated or city environments. You usually want terrain to block line of sight, requiring units to move around instead of simply shooting at each other across the table. A good basis to start with is to have a minimum of eight big terrain pieces and 6 small pieces of terrain. We suggest having an asymmetric table, meaning that both sides are not identical. This creates an artificial imbalance by giving an advantage to one side of the table over another. Objectives, Scenarios, and Campaigns The game is Objective based. There is a public objective that both players are trying to accomplish as well as private objectives only known to them. We use an Objective Deck that is shuffled up. The first card is flipped which becomes the Primary Objective that both players are trying to achieve. The players then each draw 3 cards and keep 1 of them, creating their Secondary Objective. This is a private objective only known to them until it is accomplished and then it is revealed. This can have an additional impact on how players deploy their units. Some objective examples: Hacker Infiltration, Locate the Admin, Rescue Unit, First Blood, Forward Observation, Sabotage, Data Retrieval, Terminate, Infection, Assassinate, Rescue Hostage, Implant False Data, and Aggressive Deployment. If you are only playing 1 short game, we consider that a Scenario. It is a basic one-shot game, achieve the objectives and then get to the extraction point to get out or eliminate the other team. This would probably be considered more of a casual game environment. In order to create a wider range and emphasis on the importance of decisions we also added a Campaign system. A Campaign is a set of 3-5 scenarios. You have a higher battle value to create your army with. However, it places an importance on heroes, fireteams that are destroyed can be replaced in other scenarios but heroes can’t. The goal is to win the majority of points within the scenarios to get the most points and win the campaign. The campaign setting would be considered a tournament environment as that is the setting it was designed for. Someone could lose a scenario or two but still win the campaign depending on their points. However surviving becomes important as you only have X amount of points for all the scenarios in that campaign. As you lose units, you use up those points to where you might not be able to replace lost units. Initiative and Deployment Now that the game table is setup, objectives have been chosen. We need to look at how we handle initiative, deployment and their relationship with the rest of the game. Players will roll against each other for the Initiative Roll. The winner will then get to choose between “Activating First” or “Deploying First”. We have an asymmetric table setup, which puts reliance on someone wanting to have the first pick to deploy. We have also chosen the objectives, one is public so we at least know the main thing both players are working towards. The secondary objective is private, one chosen to suit that players strike force, play style, and table. That can impact if they still want to deploy first or activate first. How can we lessen the impact of losing the initiative roll as well deploying badly? Objectives was a small step into lessening the impact. Players can win based on points even by only achieving the secondary objective but without knowing the other players secondary objective, they have that same opportunity. We added a type of reaction called “Steal Initiative” which is tied into the Action/Reaction system we’ll get to later, but this softens against not going first. Traditionally games deploy in an IGO-UGO fashion, where the player that wins deployment deploys their whole army. Then the opposing players deploy. Some variations allow them to keep a couple units back to deploy after the opposing player. We took this a step further with alternating deployment. Instead of creating an “all eggs in one basket” scenario, it creates back and forth almost chess type interaction. The player deploying first chooses to deploy 1-2 units. They could deploy 2 or only 1, then the opposing player gets to deploy in their zone 1-2 units. The players alternate until all units have been deployed. This allows players, based on the known knowledge of objectives better anticipate and plan how to deal with each other. Instead of one playing placing all forces one side of the zone. Then the other player placing on the far opposite. It instead lets the player distribute units based on the opposing player's unit placement. Now that everyone is placed, the player that has “Activating First” gets to activate their unit first. Players use an alternating system to activate. The first Active Player will activate 1-2 units, while the opposing player is the Reactive Player. Then they alternate roles until there are no more Activation Points left to activate units. One of the actions that a Reactive Player can take when an Active Player expends 1 Activation Point to activate a unit for their first action is “Steal Initiative”. It allows the roles of Active Player and Reactive Player to temporarily switch, letting that player expend 1 Activation Point to activate their unit. With all the small, subtle changes that we have made and combined with how the system works, it has a larger impact on how a game will unfold. By simply changing the order of events in some cases, it drastically alters game play. This creates a unique experience because of how they mix along with the order of events changing. We can do some things that usually wasn’t available to do as well, like a feint for example. The next article will be, "Part 2 - Action | Reaction System" in which will we explain more in depth about the Action | Reaction System we use and how it is different than the traditional known ones. There is a lot to cover under it so it will need its own post but I wanted to set the basics up first. Part 1 - Playing Code Zero: Introduction Part 2 - Playing the Game: Action | Reaction System Part 3 | Game Playthrough View full article
  11. code zero

    Terra, once the shining jewel of humanity, is a planet rich in history, and the birthplace for many millenniums of stories and events. Humanity in its inception had not been kind to her, and years of war and pollution took their toll, leaving her scarred and tarnished. To find answers and solutions, humanity had to look to the stars. “Greetings and salutations! Welcome to the Archives. I am your guide, HA-L235, or simply Hal. I do not get travelers often. Here at the Galactic Archive VIII, we compile all entries and records within the database to create the most accurate historical account possible. This archive is maintained by Appregio. WARNING! Historical records after Terra Fall are not complete. Other than what was already downloaded into the existing databases, all other information was recorded manually. It may not be completely factual, or consistent, as records were pieced together. Information may be biased based on individual recordings, thus, we can not vouch for the accuracy of the records. For the most accurate records I suggest you access Archive at /*REDACTED*/.” Terra, once the shining jewel of humanity, is a planet rich in history, and the birthplace for many millenniums of stories and events. Humanity in its inception had not been kind to her, and years of war and pollution took their toll, leaving her scarred and tarnished. To find answers and solutions, humanity had to look to the stars. Almost two millennia have passed since Terra Fall, when it vanished and was lost to humankind. Humanity was still in their infancy as they spread their influence to the stars to create new opportunities. During that process, and with Terra gone, they lost memory of their origin, and the only remains of humanity's history had to be preserved and pieced together from remnants. Great museums, such as The Record in the Kaelius system and The Census Bureau, hold collections of what is left of Terra's history. Bits and pieces of information have been mended into a story that provides a shell of an existence for humanity. It is said that things like race and morals are considered social constructs. Nothing tests that theory more than when the history of a whole species vanishes. After Terra Fall, there only existed a few hundred terrabytes of information between the databases in the Orbital Relays, the newer colonies, as well as what was available on the part of the net that survived. Given the circumstances, there were only a couple organizations willing to collect, datamine and archive the information. Historical information was the least of humanity's problems as they struggled to survive. Cut off from Terra, there was a vacuum of leadership and government for almost every country. A few took this as an opportunity to stake a claim for themselves, while others banded together with other nations to stabilize some of the already established frontier systems. Under the guise of bringing order to chaos, war erupted over control of the best planets. It was swift and deadly, ultimately resulting in the splintering of nations and resources. /*REDACTED*/ /*REDACTED*/ "Further information is no longer accessible from this particular archive. We have vlogs, audio records, and images but given their incomplete nature, actual events of the following few hundred years are conjecture.” "/*REDACTED*/ ... ERROR ID10... .. /*REDACTED*/ ERROR; unauthorized entry. ...humanity must be cleansed. ... ERROR... Holonovel, "Corsair Rising", loaded.” --------------------------------------------------------------------------- "He sells his loyalties to the highest bidder. Shouldn’t even a mercenary have morals? That’s the textbook definition of a whore!" - Nadia Scieva Gethrel City on the planet Zhaan, in the United Republic and Anazi Dynasty Corridor The air around the streets smelled like poodak, unclean and foul as if it has never rained to wash away the cesspool. That wasn’t too far from the truth since it never did rain on Zhaan. The air was moist and sticky, warm but the atmosphere was still in the early stages of terraforming. Those who grew up or have lived on these types of planets were used to breathing the lower oxygen air which made it easy to spot off worlders or those used to better lives because of the rebreathers they used. It would be close to 500 years before rain might really fall on this planet. For now, there was the sonic drones which would sani-pulse away the physical dirt but it wasn’t the same as a real shower with soap and water. You could make the place look visibly clean but it did nothing for the acrid stench of unwashed masses. Things could always be a lot worse, at least that is what Jason Cross constantly tells himself. It was his own way of trying to stay positive no matter how bad the situation was. The problem was he never truly believed it. In reality, he was already planning for everything to go sideways, trying to stay two steps ahead of the eventual bad luck that followed him. He was now just another merc trying to eke out a living. If he wanted to take some high risk bounty hunter jobs or high end security detail it would be a lot easier. With his experience and ranking as a Corsair, there were even cushy jobs to take as options to work within the core worlds. Core worlds were the prestigious and wealthy planets within each nation. Each faction had their own core worlds where their ideals were the strongest and they had the military power and force to back it up. They were considered the most secure and lawful parts of the nations although that didn’t mean criminals didn’t exist there. It just was a different breed of crime. The dominant nations controlled the galaxy, each hard their own set of core worlds they protected. They were the cream of the crop, protected by the best security and military personnel that the 51st century could offer. Around each of the core worlds was an area of space referred to the outer rim notoriously known as code zero, serving as a buffer between the nations. They were also known as corridor worlds because the borders were often shared between multiple factions. This was the wild frontier, planets deemed less important. Some were still in the process of terraforming while others didn’t have any real value except serving as a buffer to protect the core from riff raff. Some people were starting to wonder if Jason really earned his current rank or somehow played the system since he always seemed to take lower rated jobs. Others were always trying to run towards the core while he seemed to avoid it like the plague. The Syndicate is a neutral party and broker that manages Corsairs, licensed mercenaries. The Corsair Agreement allowed them to handle testing, licensing, insurance and employment disputes which would in-turn be reflected by a Corsairs CNet ranking. Any nation could refuse to accept the license for multiple reasons and laws, unless someone was an outright terrorist usually bans were temporary. It just meant a Corsair had to move on to someplace else for a time. It was hard to find experienced soldiers and some nations need the import and export of Free Traders so everyone tried to stay legit. That didn’t mean there weren’t other ways to make things tough on a Corsair like taxes or fees for business deals. Gethrel City was like any other corridor world, filled with hard working people trying to survive surrounded by pirates, rogues and thieves with no real law enforcement around. There hadn’t been a large scale conflict since the 2nd Galactic War but that didn’t stop skirmishes or invasions from happening, resulting in these corridor worlds changing hands almost yearly. Like most outer rim worlds, there were military outposts that had local Sheriffs and Marshals. The problem was there was never enough manpower or weaponry to deal with everything, and the best was dedicated to protecting the 1st class citizens and core worlds. The military were only about protecting their own, bullying others out of the way. Jason took another sip of his Zen cooler, trying to look like an average citizen down on his luck and drowning his sorrows of another workday away. He was slouched over the table, resting almost all his weight on it, shoulders sore and aching from a long 12 hour shift. He would scrape his foot against the ground, rotating his ankles trying to stretch the stiffness from them. When someone worked 12 hours on their feet the whole time, every pressure point would be tingly and cause pain. That was of course all an act, he wasn’t a worker and he hasn’t worked a 12 hour shift in quite a few years. Not to mention he didn’t have normal muscles like humans, he was technically classified as a military grade full body cyborg. The only organic part of him was probably just his brain, he couldn’t remember anymore. No one looking at him would be able to tell him visually apart from a normal human. Even his skin was synthetic but simulated warmth, color and a heartbeat like everyone else. Being a cyborg however wasn’t cheap, maintenance, parts, and fine tuning all required credits. A female voiced quietly into his comm, sounding electrical and synthetic like it was fed through a voicebox said, “He’s late. Are you sure he didn’t take the money and run?” He brought the bottle to his lips, pretending to take another drink while quietly saying, “I doubt it. He was skeevy but according to the Dark-Net, he delivers. You’re supposed to be on standby, not watching me.” Jason took a real drink now, then sighed loudly like he just lost his job today. “I can do both, be on standby and watch, besides who do you think you are talking to,” she said. Ayame Izumi, one of the galaxies best hackers although not completely because of her skill and talent. She was a Cyberoid but unlike her counterparts in the Shingen Empire, she wasn’t part of the collective. Cyberoids were technically humans, not robots or artificial intelligences or constructs but the next step in human evolution according to Shingen. Most of the nation shed their frail bodies to be reborn as a Cyberoid. They were very similar to cyborgs like him, but with a few key differences. Citizens of the Shingen Empire are birthed in essentially test tubes called birthing chambers. While in the birthing chamber their growth is accelerated, sending electrical impulses into the body downloading data to the brain and preparing the body for processing. One year later they emerge from the birthing chambers in a mature eighteen year old body. The side effect of the process is that their human body is more frail than the average person. If they don’t undergo processing, which is a personal choice and not everyone does it, then they might live until they are forty. Otherwise they spend a couple years in classes, preparing and training them how to integrate into the collective. When they go through processing, their anima, a person's soul, along with their intelligence gets downloaded into a Cyberoid shell. They spend another two years in school before their are assigned a role within the Empire. Joining the collective does have its benefits, they share things with each other through a net. Their purpose is for the sole purpose of the Shingen Empire. Many would consider Ayame defective in need of conditioning. They might have even purged her to protect the secret that Cyberoids were just like humans, flawed in their own way. Express individuality was frowned upon since it created ebbs against the society they were trying to create. She should have been able to be part of and hear the collective but it was something she was always able to block out. When they suppressed key emotions, instead of loyalty to the Shingen Empire being heightened her survival instincts and loyalty to herself kicked in. She knew she would always choose herself first and that was why she originally ran. It wasn’t until she met Jason she stopped running. Jason said, “I don’t want this Op blown because we really need the creds. I want enough to at least afford a real bath.” She laughed again, it sounded electronic, almost forced like she knew she was supposed to laugh but didn’t actually feel the need to expend the energy to express it. “If anyone gets caught it is always you. Besides you are a Cyborg with synthflesh which means bacteria doesn’t even grow on you.” “That doesn’t change the fact that I love how I feel floating in the water, I can still feel the water.” Even more quietly under his breath he muttered, “Besides I like how the soap smells.” The last comment seemed to silence Ayame for a bit. It wasn’t that she didn’t know what something smelled like, it just didn’t trigger certain memories and feelings like it does with most humans. Sometimes food to others reminds them of comfort, home and growing up but for her it was just food. She wondered to herself, if that was a human trait then did it mean she truly wasn’t human afterall. “Don’t go there. You are human. Don’t think every human is the same copy of another, we’re all unique in our own ways just like you,” he said in a solemn whisper before taking another drink. “I… do not know what you are talking about. I am observing and trying to find the target.” Was this agitation? She didn’t understand what exactly these emotions were, the cyber circuits were trying to make sense of them. Most of all she didn’t understand why Jason treated her like a human, instead of a machine which is what most people outside of Shingen do. It was like that the first time they met. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- "I apologize, I am not sure what happened. There appears to be some database corruption. I am attempting to make corrections to compensate.” View full article
  12. code zero

    Code Zero is a 32mm miniatures game which simulates skirmishes and combat set within a sci-fi universe. Players take control of a small squad of troops, broken up into fireteams, competing with each other to achieve one or several objectives and complete their mission. These combat situations take place within a theater of war, on the borders along the core worlds of various factions. This area is often referred to as Code Zero - “To refer to a dangerous place or situation that should be avoided or at least only be entered with significant backup.” Code Zero is a 32mm miniatures game which simulates skirmishes and combat set within a sci-fi universe. Players take control of a small squad of troops, broken up into fireteams, competing with each other to achieve one or several objectives and complete their mission. These combat situations take place within a theater of war, on the borders along the core worlds of various factions. This area is often referred to as Code Zero - “To refer to a dangerous place or situation that should be avoided or at least only be entered with significant backup.” Code Zero is designed to create a cinematic feel of gameplay, while reflecting the dynamic ebb and flow of the battle that can happen within any given engagement. We do this by utilizing an action/reaction system, allowing both players to interact in a method keeping everyone engrossed with the battle. A typical game consists of 8 rounds, with each round consisting of three phases: Start Phase, Player Phase, and End Phase. During the Player Phase, both players alternate between the Active Player and Reactive Player roles. The Active Player can choose to activate, move, and shoot with one to two of their units. Meanwhile the opponent in the Reactive Player role will get a chance to respond to certain actions. Players gain Activation Points (AP) depending on the units within their control. There are two basic types of units; heroes which are single models usually someone who has a rank, and fireteams which consist of 3-5 models. Heroes generate 1 AP each and fireteams generate 3 AP each. During the Player Phase, the active player will choose one unit to activate by spending one AP, letting that unit take 2 short actions or 1 long action. The reactive player has two opportunities to respond, they can spend one AP to activate one of their own units and/or wait until a unit moves within line of sight to respond with a snapfire. After they resolve those units, the Active Player can choose to activate a 2nd unit or pass the active turn to the other player. They will each take turns alternating between ‘active’ and ‘reactive’ players until both players are out of activation points. Most units can only be activated up to two times and an Active Player can choose to activate more than 2 units. This comes at a cost, giving the activated unit “fatigue” status which has a negative effect on their abilities. View full article
  13. code zero

    The endless winds of the Northern Craterous Expanse whispered outside the ballistic glass window in Taris Exlee’s quarters. He turned over on his bed and rapped it with his knuckles as if to touch the dim blue moon that shone through the clouds. Although the broad, concave window made the apartment feel a bit like an aquarium, such a protective measure against the harsh environment was necessary to ensure the United Republic’s continued presence on Zarmina, the only habitable planet in the remote Gliese 581 system. Exlee propped himself up on his elbow and stared out at the arid expanse. He had joined UR Research Station Zarmina six months before by invitation from the ColDef Corporation, one of Zarmina’s chief investors. Exlee’s dream was to work on a materials research team to deploy experimental ship armor on the fringes of UR territory, and ColDef’s lab on Zarmina offered a prominent reputation to any scientist who could put up in long hours on a remote planet. Zarmina Station’s peaceful but moody interior, in opposition to the planet bent on destroying it, echoed the tense, understated sentiments among the several thousand residents inside. As part of a new push to establish United Republic colonies at the edge of its territory, the research station was subjected to frequent lockdowns amid rumors of infiltration from a number of vectors: Shingen agents, Outer Rim pirates, insurrectionists--there was even talk of a Pulsar Cult revival. During these lockdowns, the lab’s operations ceased, and the scientists, along with all the other colonists, were remanded by Station Security to their quarters. Getting anything--and anyone--on and off the planet had become a particularly labored and bureaucratic affair. ColDef was powerless to circumvent such pauses; its was just one voice among the many corporations that made up the United Republic, and official UR planetary policy was one line--maybe the only one--that a corporation did not want to cross. During such lockdowns, Exlee was forced to occupy his time. He read, jogged up and down the stations narrow corridors, and volunteered to receive and catalogue shipments to the team’s materials library, which the station expedited through security. On this night, after finishing another bad science fiction novel, he turned off his reading light and lied down just as the winds started up. With hope, tomorrow would bring a message that the research could continue. The moon outside cast its gaze down at the station. Exlee’s handset beeped and he slowly grabbed it off the night table. It was a message alright, but nothing too promising: a delivery of alloy materials had arrived on the planet. It would be ready for him at the materials lab whenever he could sign for it. He tried to go back to sleep but was kept awake at the notion of retrieving it. Maybe it was a sign that work would soon resume. Even though the research was halted, he could at least catalogue it with the other material samples. He got out of bed, got dressed, and exited his apartment in Resident Wing 6 to begin the two-kilometer hike to the other side of the station. The halls were quiet and dark at this hour. Two station security agents approached him as he rounded into the main hall. “Evening, Dr. Exlee,” said a sharp-nosed agent, Station Security had instituted a “suggested” curfew to residents at every 18 hours, but Exlee had enough security clearance that he could walk around without question. Exlee liked walking at night hours. It was peaceful. The station had low ceilings and bulkheads that gave it a cramped feeling, even despite attempts to reproduce the vibrant, lived-in atmosphere of an orbital station with a lively market and other highly-trafficked commercial spaces interspersed throughout the Resident Wings. He was adjusting well. It would only be another 8 standard months until he was rotated again, and his boss promised him a lab on a lush, bright planet next time. The only problem was that the station just opened 6 months ago so it was still underpopulated. Whole Resident Wings, like this one, were still uninhabited except for official offices, places like the lab, which required people to walk here. Tonight, only the presence of security guards and a janitor punctuated the stillness of the wing. He waved to the janitor as she mopped the floor in the wing. She moved slow and looked old. Her hair was long and she sported face tattoos common to diggers--asteroid mining families. She waved back. Exlee arrived at the lab. It was shuttered and dark, which was odd, considering the message originated from there just 30 minutes ago. He tapped his code into the keypad and walked through the door into the lab. The lights would come on with motion, but since there was none, Exlee brushed his arm on the wall to turn on the light switch from memory. The lights came on. A clicking noise behind him punctuated the silence. Exlee turned and a delivery agent stood with an ancient-looking revolver pointed at his face. Exlee opened his mouth but the agent shushed him. “Shut up. Log in and transfer the data to this,” he said in a nervous, raspy voice and threw a handset onto the desk. While Exlee nodded at the man and turned his terminal on, the agent walked around and grabbed Exlee’s own handset. He then stepped back while Exlee sat with a nervous sway. “It’s, uh, uploading,” said Exlee. The agent looked away to poke at some metal plates on a worktable. Exlee paused for a moment while the files transferred. He slowly looked up at the agent who had the gun trained on him. “Who are you?” said Exlee. The agent said nothing. Exlee shifted and the agent jumped up. The lights went off. “Exlee! Duck!” said an aged feminine voice. Exlee jumped down to lean against a desk opposite the agent. The motion-activated lights lit up the room just as the janitor rushed at the agent and hit the revolver out of his hand with a broom handle. The agent danced away from another swing, then picked up a microscope from the worktable. The janitor swung again with a practiced overhand arc, but the agent brought the microscope up to block it at the last second. The force of the swing broke the broomstick and sent splinters out from the impact. The janitor bounced toward him with another swing, and the agent blocked again. He turned and leapt over a desk just as yet another swing came down. They both eyed the revolver that had skidded somewhere into the corner. The agent was trying to maneuver himself there. He paused as he and the janitor stood either side of a desk, both making feints here and there but neither willing to commit. Neither spoke, perhaps because they both knew it was useless. One of them was going to end up dead. Maybe that was the thought that moved the agent to jump first. He ran for the corner, hopping over a desk as the janitor followed a second later. The agent moved too slow, and the janitor leapt over a desk and tacked him into another. He elbowed her in the face, and again, but she held on, eventually wedging the broken broom handle under his chin and pulling hard. He kicked out, sending both of them tumbling onto the floor, but her grip was firm. Exlee sat against the desk with his eyes closed. He heard a gurgling sound and then silence from the corner. A minute passed, and the janitor crawled over to him. Her nose and lips dripped blood onto her shirt collar. She sat down and winced. Exlee slowly looked over, saw the blood, and asked, “you’re not just a janitor, are you?” “Taris Exlee. Doctor Taris Exlee” she said, leaning against the desk and touching her face to check for broken bones. “You… do I know you?” asked Exlee. “I doubt it. But we’ve known you for quite some time now.” “Just, who are you?” “You’ve heard the rumors about us. Everyone does. Disappearing scientists, engineers, construction facilities?” she said, dabbing her nose with her sleeve. “Are you… Arpeggio?” The janitor shrugged. “The name’s not important, but let’s say that those aren’t just rumors.” She turned to him. “Look, you hear a lot of the bad stuff but none of the good. Up until our initiatives started taking hold, you had a lot of factions gearing up to wipe each other out of existence. They were not only trying to develop their own technology, but they were trying really hard to prevent their competitors’ technological advances by any means necessary. They stole, they killed, destroyed, burned. Hell, you heard about Bellorophon station, right? “Yeah, a chemical leak.” The janitor laughed then cringed at a pain in her ribs. “You could say that. A chemical leak that caused a hundred thousand casualties. Over six months.” She nodded and smirked. “Anyway, everyone was stealing or destroying anything they could get.” Exlee looked at the blood spot on her overalls. It looked to be growing. “The kid with the best toys is going to come out ahead,” he offered. She grunted in response. “The problem was that instead of better toys emerging from this whole scrap, the different factions were just ending up with the same toys, and they were old and clumsy. The fighting was getting more brutal every year.” Exlee raised his eyebrows in a show of incredulity but said nothing. “That’s where we stepped in. We like to think of ourselves as the galaxy’s janitors.” She gestured at the disarrayed lab. “Look around. We don’t want this kind of thing to happen to humanity. We can’t have that. So we’ve decided that we’re gonna take good care of the ship factories, armories, and development labs like this one. Sure, we make a little money, but you get to do your work without guys like that coming in and ruining your day.” “So why don’t you just steal the data?” asked Exlee. “No one wants a messy playground, Exlee. As long as we keep the toys in our closet and dole them out so kids play nice, no one has to risk losing their toys for good.” “Alright, I get it. Enough with the toys.” “Tell you what, Exlee,” said the janitor. She cracked her knuckles, felt her side, and winced. “I like you. I’ve watched you enough that I want you to end up some place safe. I feel like we can come to an arrangement here.” She adjusted her hat. “How would you like to live a safe, healthy life with your family and complete your research in peace? I would even get you off this planet and get you somewhere nice. Somewhere with a good view, maybe a sunset.” “I don’t have a choice, do I?” asked Exlee. “There’s always a choice, Doctor. But I’m just a janitor, not a philosopher. Think about it. We’ll pay you extra for your hard work. All you have to do is keep us updated with your research data. We’ll be in touch with a way you can do that with no risk.” She looked out toward the hall and nodded. “We’ve got lots of janitors around, willing to help.” Exlee thought for a minute, then said, “that sounds nice but the problem isn’t the money. It’s the pace. No data is going to be produced unless they start the research again.” The janitor rose, grunting until she stood on her two shaky feet. She then offered Exlee a hand up. “We can take care of that. This lab is going to be operational before you know it, and I’ll make sure no one bothers you again.” She looked around for her work cap. “What are you going to do now?” asked Exlee. “Clean up this mess. I am a janitor, after all. You should go now.” She grabbed a broom and began sweeping up broken glass. Exlee walked back to his apartment at an unhurried pace. The same sharp-faced security guard stood at the entrance to his wing. “How’d it go?” he asked with a yawn.. Exlee stared out the hall window at the cold, windswept plain. “I think I just got a promotion.”
  14. The Arpeggio Conglomerate is a group of corporations that share similar interests. They were the ones who initially created the first Moonbase and also backed the first Deep Space Mapping Exploration Project. Although the Conglomerate is well known, the actual members of the board remain a mystery even amongst each other. This is necessary to protect both the members and their families, and to ensure that everyone is dealing with each other equally. The endless winds of the Northern Craterous Expanse whispered outside the ballistic glass window in Taris Exlee’s quarters. He turned over on his bed and rapped it with his knuckles as if to touch the dim blue moon that shone through the clouds. Although the broad, concave window made the apartment feel a bit like an aquarium, such a protective measure against the harsh environment was necessary to ensure the United Republic’s continued presence on Zarmina, the only habitable planet in the remote Gliese 581 system. Exlee propped himself up on his elbow and stared out at the arid expanse. He had joined UR Research Station Zarmina six months before by invitation from the ColDef Corporation, one of Zarmina’s chief investors. Exlee’s dream was to work on a materials research team to deploy experimental ship armor on the fringes of UR territory, and ColDef’s lab on Zarmina offered a prominent reputation to any scientist who could put up in long hours on a remote planet. Zarmina Station’s peaceful but moody interior, in opposition to the planet bent on destroying it, echoed the tense, understated sentiments among the several thousand residents inside. As part of a new push to establish United Republic colonies at the edge of its territory, the research station was subjected to frequent lockdowns amid rumors of infiltration from a number of vectors: Shingen agents, Outer Rim pirates, insurrectionists--there was even talk of a Pulsar Cult revival. During these lockdowns, the lab’s operations ceased, and the scientists, along with all the other colonists, were remanded by Station Security to their quarters. Getting anything--and anyone--on and off the planet had become a particularly labored and bureaucratic affair. ColDef was powerless to circumvent such pauses; its was just one voice among the many corporations that made up the United Republic, and official UR planetary policy was one line--maybe the only one--that a corporation did not want to cross. During such lockdowns, Exlee was forced to occupy his time. He read, jogged up and down the stations narrow corridors, and volunteered to receive and catalogue shipments to the team’s materials library, which the station expedited through security. On this night, after finishing another bad science fiction novel, he turned off his reading light and lied down just as the winds started up. With hope, tomorrow would bring a message that the research could continue. The moon outside cast its gaze down at the station. Exlee’s handset beeped and he slowly grabbed it off the night table. It was a message alright, but nothing too promising: a delivery of alloy materials had arrived on the planet. It would be ready for him at the materials lab whenever he could sign for it. He tried to go back to sleep but was kept awake at the notion of retrieving it. Maybe it was a sign that work would soon resume. Even though the research was halted, he could at least catalogue it with the other material samples. He got out of bed, got dressed, and exited his apartment in Resident Wing 6 to begin the two-kilometer hike to the other side of the station. The halls were quiet and dark at this hour. Two station security agents approached him as he rounded into the main hall. “Evening, Dr. Exlee,” said a sharp-nosed agent, Station Security had instituted a “suggested” curfew to residents at every 18 hours, but Exlee had enough security clearance that he could walk around without question. Exlee liked walking at night hours. It was peaceful. The station had low ceilings and bulkheads that gave it a cramped feeling, even despite attempts to reproduce the vibrant, lived-in atmosphere of an orbital station with a lively market and other highly-trafficked commercial spaces interspersed throughout the Resident Wings. He was adjusting well. It would only be another 8 standard months until he was rotated again, and his boss promised him a lab on a lush, bright planet next time. The only problem was that the station just opened 6 months ago so it was still underpopulated. Whole Resident Wings, like this one, were still uninhabited except for official offices, places like the lab, which required people to walk here. Tonight, only the presence of security guards and a janitor punctuated the stillness of the wing. He waved to the janitor as she mopped the floor in the wing. She moved slow and looked old. Her hair was long and she sported face tattoos common to diggers--asteroid mining families. She waved back. Exlee arrived at the lab. It was shuttered and dark, which was odd, considering the message originated from there just 30 minutes ago. He tapped his code into the keypad and walked through the door into the lab. The lights would come on with motion, but since there was none, Exlee brushed his arm on the wall to turn on the light switch from memory. The lights came on. A clicking noise behind him punctuated the silence. Exlee turned and a delivery agent stood with an ancient-looking revolver pointed at his face. Exlee opened his mouth but the agent shushed him. “Shut up. Log in and transfer the data to this,” he said in a nervous, raspy voice and threw a handset onto the desk. While Exlee nodded at the man and turned his terminal on, the agent walked around and grabbed Exlee’s own handset. He then stepped back while Exlee sat with a nervous sway. “It’s, uh, uploading,” said Exlee. The agent looked away to poke at some metal plates on a worktable. Exlee paused for a moment while the files transferred. He slowly looked up at the agent who had the gun trained on him. “Who are you?” said Exlee. The agent said nothing. Exlee shifted and the agent jumped up. The lights went off. “Exlee! Duck!” said an aged feminine voice. Exlee jumped down to lean against a desk opposite the agent. The motion-activated lights lit up the room just as the janitor rushed at the agent and hit the revolver out of his hand with a broom handle. The agent danced away from another swing, then picked up a microscope from the worktable. The janitor swung again with a practiced overhand arc, but the agent brought the microscope up to block it at the last second. The force of the swing broke the broomstick and sent splinters out from the impact. The janitor bounced toward him with another swing, and the agent blocked again. He turned and leapt over a desk just as yet another swing came down. They both eyed the revolver that had skidded somewhere into the corner. The agent was trying to maneuver himself there. He paused as he and the janitor stood either side of a desk, both making feints here and there but neither willing to commit. Neither spoke, perhaps because they both knew it was useless. One of them was going to end up dead. Maybe that was the thought that moved the agent to jump first. He ran for the corner, hopping over a desk as the janitor followed a second later. The agent moved too slow, and the janitor leapt over a desk and tacked him into another. He elbowed her in the face, and again, but she held on, eventually wedging the broken broom handle under his chin and pulling hard. He kicked out, sending both of them tumbling onto the floor, but her grip was firm. Exlee sat against the desk with his eyes closed. He heard a gurgling sound and then silence from the corner. A minute passed, and the janitor crawled over to him. Her nose and lips dripped blood onto her shirt collar. She sat down and winced. Exlee slowly looked over, saw the blood, and asked, “you’re not just a janitor, are you?” “Taris Exlee. Doctor Taris Exlee” she said, leaning against the desk and touching her face to check for broken bones. “You… do I know you?” asked Exlee. “I doubt it. But we’ve known you for quite some time now.” “Just, who are you?” “You’ve heard the rumors about us. Everyone does. Disappearing scientists, engineers, construction facilities?” she said, dabbing her nose with her sleeve. “Are you… Arpeggio?” The janitor shrugged. “The name’s not important, but let’s say that those aren’t just rumors.” She turned to him. “Look, you hear a lot of the bad stuff but none of the good. Up until our initiatives started taking hold, you had a lot of factions gearing up to wipe each other out of existence. They were not only trying to develop their own technology, but they were trying really hard to prevent their competitors’ technological advances by any means necessary. They stole, they killed, destroyed, burned. Hell, you heard about Bellorophon station, right? “Yeah, a chemical leak.” The janitor laughed then cringed at a pain in her ribs. “You could say that. A chemical leak that caused a hundred thousand casualties. Over six months.” She nodded and smirked. “Anyway, everyone was stealing or destroying anything they could get.” Exlee looked at the blood spot on her overalls. It looked to be growing. “The kid with the best toys is going to come out ahead,” he offered. She grunted in response. “The problem was that instead of better toys emerging from this whole scrap, the different factions were just ending up with the same toys, and they were old and clumsy. The fighting was getting more brutal every year.” Exlee raised his eyebrows in a show of incredulity but said nothing. “That’s where we stepped in. We like to think of ourselves as the galaxy’s janitors.” She gestured at the disarrayed lab. “Look around. We don’t want this kind of thing to happen to humanity. We can’t have that. So we’ve decided that we’re gonna take good care of the ship factories, armories, and development labs like this one. Sure, we make a little money, but you get to do your work without guys like that coming in and ruining your day.” “So why don’t you just steal the data?” asked Exlee. “No one wants a messy playground, Exlee. As long as we keep the toys in our closet and dole them out so kids play nice, no one has to risk losing their toys for good.” “Alright, I get it. Enough with the toys.” “Tell you what, Exlee,” said the janitor. She cracked her knuckles, felt her side, and winced. “I like you. I’ve watched you enough that I want you to end up some place safe. I feel like we can come to an arrangement here.” She adjusted her hat. “How would you like to live a safe, healthy life with your family and complete your research in peace? I would even get you off this planet and get you somewhere nice. Somewhere with a good view, maybe a sunset.” “I don’t have a choice, do I?” asked Exlee. “There’s always a choice, Doctor. But I’m just a janitor, not a philosopher. Think about it. We’ll pay you extra for your hard work. All you have to do is keep us updated with your research data. We’ll be in touch with a way you can do that with no risk.” She looked out toward the hall and nodded. “We’ve got lots of janitors around, willing to help.” Exlee thought for a minute, then said, “that sounds nice but the problem isn’t the money. It’s the pace. No data is going to be produced unless they start the research again.” The janitor rose, grunting until she stood on her two shaky feet. She then offered Exlee a hand up. “We can take care of that. This lab is going to be operational before you know it, and I’ll make sure no one bothers you again.” She looked around for her work cap. “What are you going to do now?” asked Exlee. “Clean up this mess. I am a janitor, after all. You should go now.” She grabbed a broom and began sweeping up broken glass. Exlee walked back to his apartment at an unhurried pace. The same sharp-faced security guard stood at the entrance to his wing. “How’d it go?” he asked with a yawn.. Exlee stared out the hall window at the cold, windswept plain. “I think I just got a promotion.” View full article