Deviant at Midwinter [Deviant: The Renegades]

Deviant: The Renegades

Hi all! Meghan Fitzgerald here, to give you the rundown on how the Deviant: The Renegades playtest went at Midwinter. Since neither Eric nor Dave could make it, Eric provided me with an excellent playtest to run, in which we were mostly testing out the Variations (powers) and Scars (power drawbacks). I had four players, but two of them couldn’t make it, so our very own Dixie and Neall stepped in to play in their places. Keep in mind the game is not in its final form and I’m not including all the details.

The player characters were:

Sister Laura Clements (Coactive), an elderly nun who hulked out into a giant monster and couldn’t control her murderous urges;

Kenneth Post (Invasive), a cyborg politician with nanites constantly rewiring his brain to make him omnicompetent with a built-in sensor array, who was overwhelmingly paranoid and came across as completely untrustworthy;

Natalie Brown (Mutant), a nurse who lost her family to the conspiracy, who could make copies of herself and short-range teleport but sometimes hallucinated or mentally glitched out;

And Daniel Thompson (Cephalist), a body snatcher and face thief with a genetic disorder that made him sick and constantly exhausted.

Their goal was supposed to be simple: infiltrate a cruise ship, find the man working for the conspiracy that’s after them, and get information out of him that would let them take the conspiracy down.

Getting on board was easy: Kenneth (and his nanites) hacked the ship’s database to reserve cabins for the group and get the layout of the ship, Daniel possessed one of the ticket checkers and then one of the luggage checkers so they could pass unmolested and Natalie could smuggle her gun aboard, and away they went. They disguised themselves to avoid getting recognized as former test subjects. They spent some time eavesdropping subtly and poking around to figure out where the places were onboard that guests weren’t supposed to go, and then went there, either stealthily or pretending to be innocent, confused tourists.

They learned that the man they were looking for — Aleksandr Mogilevich, an internationally wanted white-collar criminal who lived out at sea to avoid arrest — wasn’t on board yet, and that the ship had an off-limits helipad where presumably Aleksandr would arrive once they were far enough from land. They also learned that this ship had much stricter security than a normal cruise ship ought. Since Natalie could teleport through doors and walls as long as her DNA was present on the other side, Daniel possessed one of the guards and took a piece of her hair into the comm tower so she could later get in easily. They tried to investigate the lower decks, too, where a creepy lab held a bunch of prisoners, but that effort was interrupted when…

Having been keeping an eye and ear out for signs of Aleksandr’s arrival, Kenneth heard the helicopter touch down from belowdecks and, resolving the Spooked Condition (which he got from using a Deviant-specific Merit) and giving in to paranoia, ran off to try to handle it alone in the middle of the night. This was where things started to go…downhill. (In the best way!)

The rest of the cohort realized soon enough what he was doing and went after him, but in the meantime he chose to dramatically fail a failed roll that led to him shooting himself in the foot and getting himself knocked out by guards. Everyone else arrived just in time to see a guard dragging him into a stairwell…and Sister Clements hulked out, flew into a murderous rage, and killed all the guards in a messy few seconds of pure carnage. (She was Size 10 at the time. The corridor got awfully cramped.)

They used a dead guard’s corpse and keycard to bypass all the security leading into Aleksandr’s private quarters, including fingerprint scanners and retina scanners, the works. They only had a minute or two before backup would arrive, since monitored security cameras were everywhere and they hadn’t dealt with those yet. They used that time to investigate, looking for dirt on the conspiracy. They found that! They also found out that a Russian submarine working for the conspiracy was following the ship, ready to torpedo it into oblivion should it become compromised. Yes, with a couple thousand clueless civilian guests on board. And maybe Aleksandr, too.

The cohort intercepted a communication from the people on the submarine, who had received word that Renegades were on board and making a mess of things. The players chose to dramatically fail an attempt to convince the Russians they were guards and the disturbance had been taken care of. So, while the Russians did believe them…the response was “Oh…but we already fired the torpedo.” A second later, the ship rocked with the impact.

The cohort rushed up to the helipad, where Aleksandr was getting ready to take off again and a swarm of guards protected him. Natalie created a slew of copies of herself to dash out into the fray and cause a distracting chaos, while Daniel possessed Aleksandr, and Sister Clements carted both his insensate body and Kenneth’s unconscious one through the battle as she sliced her way through guards. Natalie teleported into the helicopter, and managed to avoid getting shot by the pilot! …but her mental glitching meant she couldn’t spend a Willpower to enhance her Firearms roll. She failed it and chose to make it dramatic, which meant she shot the control panel instead and the helicopter went haywire — no longer an escape option. During all this, the Russians fired a couple more torpedoes.

Daniel, as Aleksandr, ordered all the guards to stand down and mercifully succeeded on his roll. In the meantime, Natalie teleported off to ready a lifeboat for the cohort, while the penultimate torpedo tore into the ship, the helicopter tumbled into the sea, and the civilians poured onto the upper deck to get into lifeboats of their own in a panic. Natalie managed to stave off tourists trying to get into the cohort’s lifeboat by making a bunch of copies of herself and populating the entire boat with them. “Sorry, it’s full!”

Sister Clements barreled through the crowd, leapt into the lifeboat followed by “Aleksandr,” and then transformed back into a naked old woman. (They gave her Aleksandr’s suit to wear, once Daniel got back to his own body.) Natalie performed some first aid for Kenneth and woke him up, and then they tied Aleksandr up and started the interrogation. They promised not to kill him if he ratted out the conspiracy and told them everything they wanted to know, so he did.

Then they dumped him into the ocean and let him drown, lifeboating off into the sunset to take down a conspiracy, while in the background the final torpedo demolished the cruise ship, sinking it with almost 2,000 souls aboard.

We had a ton of fun and the feedback was highly positive! Everyone loved how varied and powerful the Variations were, and felt like they always had lots of interesting options, while their Scars were always there to threaten their subtlety, safety, or sanity. (Or everyone else’s.) They definitely felt the sense ofisolation and uphill struggle that lies at the heart of Deviant, and were legitimately invested in destroying the conspiracy that had in turn destroyed their characters’ lives.

Many thanks to those of you who played!

A note from Dixie:

Hi all! I just wanted to add that this playtest was so much fun, and really gave me context for Deviant I was lacking previously (how the different types might work together, the scope of their powers, and the common causes uniting them). Meghan is a fantastic Storyteller, so if you ever see her running demos at a convention, you should try one out! Many thanks to Eric for putting the packets together, Dave for all his hard work on the line, Meghan for running the game, and my fellow players for really embodying their characters.

I played Natalie Brown in this game and finding ways to use my clone and teleportation powers was extremely exciting, even if I both ruined a perfectly good helicopter with a dramatic failure and doomed several innocent tourists to death by filling a lifeboat with six of me. Also, I think we cut off a guy’s hand — or was it his head? We definitely talked about doing it (fingerprint and retina scanners, you know).

Hey, it’s all for the cause, right?

Right?

  7 comments for “Deviant at Midwinter [Deviant: The Renegades]

  1. Bluegrass Geek
    February 28, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    That’s a great read! Really looking forward to this game.

  2. Ryan Spinney
    February 28, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    Cool

  3. Kevin
    March 1, 2019 at 5:25 am

    Is there an option for us players to get a hand on a playtest, because this game might be exactly what my troupe has been missing. Looks great!

  4. Tim Flannigan
    March 1, 2019 at 9:57 am

    Can’t wait for this to KS!

  5. Eric Hansen
    March 1, 2019 at 8:35 pm

    First of all: PLEASE take my money. I’m gonna jump down this Kickstarter wallet-first.

    A small (ish) ST question, on the off-chance you read this: When planning for stuff like this session, how do you go about it? Do you just make up what you feel is reasonable security etc. for the story and so long as the characters’ set of skills/powers look like they can progress through it, just kind of assume they’ll work something out? Do you take a look at their powers, have a specific path in mind (like, say, “I assume they’ll impersonate the baggage person to sneak a gun in”)?

    Basically, as someone who’s run a LOT of games for my little band of misfits, I’m kinda just looking to glean some amount of wisdom from the planning/design strategies someone in the industry uses when planning one-shots (or in general!). Anyway, thanks in advance!

  6. Hrefn
    March 5, 2019 at 8:53 am

    A fun read, sounds like Deviant is going to be an interesting game with plenty of variation as far as character types and powers are concerned.

  7. Nuitloupe
    March 5, 2019 at 10:33 am

    Is there a way we can get our hands on an early playtest document, please, please?

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