Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Orin Incident


Account of the Orin Labor Revolt 2306AD

Perhaps it had been inevitable, but it seemed none of the security forces were prepared. In recent months the mine shafts in Orin had suffered several structural failures, the result of a drive to make quotas pushing safe mining practices aside.  All told scores of Tracted workers, including women and children, had been trapped or crushed in cave-ins. As accidents accumulated a rising tide of rage built toward a tidal wave of violence. The miners wanted work to halt. They wanted efforts to be made to try and search for survivors. Corporate had scoffed; this was not in the terms of their contracts. To the executives of FerrumSky it was cheaper to bring in new labor than shut down a mine to search for survivors.  They relented only in part, so long as it was off shift and overseen by volunteer Prods, workers could try and find the strength and time to mount a rescue. This half-measure worked at first, but then came the final insult.
Work Crews 22A, C, and D from Shift Delta 976 had ended the day well behind quota. The shift overseer felt it necessary to extend the entire shift by four hours. This easily consumed what time D976 had to contribute to the faltering search. (Now, resentment long left unattended had boiled into insurrection.)>this sentence relocated for impact.
For his efforts Shift Overseer Xander had been unceremoniously decapitated with a shovel by an enraged handful of miners who had planned to keep looking for their wives and children. The sudden attack caught the standing security forces flatfooted. Wasting no time Work Crew 22D of Shift Delta 976 overran their guards in seconds, triggering 22A and 22C to follow suit. There was no semblance of order just dozens of bodies surging over four surprised men. They never even had time to touch their weapons. One moment they were there and the next they were trampled underfoot. Then the entire Shift Delta 976 erupted into complete bedlam.
The rampaging shift made it as far as the entrance to their sector before encountering a gate. While it slowed them momentarily the press of bodies easily forced the meager chain link fence aside. The only appreciable loss was the leading edge of miners, crushed beneath the impetuous of the headlong charge.
By now the noise had alerted more guards. First reports were dismissed by those on the surface. Never had the settlement of Orin, or the world of Hathor for that matter, experienced a labor revolt of this magnitude. There were procedures in place to deal with a Tracted or two getting out of hand but an entire work shift? It was simply unprecedented.
Unsure of how to respond, panicked cries went out on the TAC net.  Elements of shifts Alpha 006, Zeta 357, and Gamma 584 overheard these reports and immediately joined the uprising by attacking the closest Prods and destroying anything between them and the surface. What began as chaos became all out pandemonium.
The disbelief meant that no organized effort was made to put down the uprising. Individual groups of Prods followed standard procedures and used non-lethal rounds fired from CCR's, and were overwhelmed. Gradually, a sense of purpose entered into the actions of the Contracted of Orin. Where once had been a pell-mell dash, a sense of purpose descended on the situation. Freed from the confines of the work shafts and moving into the more open corridors of the access shafts the mob formed into smaller groups of miners who brutally turned their tools on their oppressors.
As the scope of the crisis became increasingly evident the klaxon sounded. Orin's masters sealed the metal gate separating the hewn corridors of the central mine shaft from the remainder of Orin. Prods moved through the dormitory holds sealing off-duty shifts in. Anyone outside of their designated areas was simply shot. Rubber bullets were exchanged for more lethal fair and barricades erected.  Their flanks secured, the Prods gathered at the Gate and formed a wall of overlapping riot shields. Shock batons crackled, rifles and shotguns were pumped.
As the workers approached the gate a change settled over them. Artificial divisions fell away, replaced with a new resolve. Freedom from their contracts was in sight. Progenitor colonists strode on with Drops. The enhanced strove next to those whose genes remained unchanged. All had been liberated and joined as they had broken their contracts.
The door was a solid edifice of rusted steel, one meter thick and four meters high. Set into solid rock it formed a barrier between the mines and the dormitories. Groups of Gen-Mod Breakers wielding saws set about cutting breaches along the length of the door. As gashes were rent into the sides of the gate Breakers with Pneumatic hammers set about widening the breaches.
As the breaches opened the Prods held firm. In short order the holes were wide enough to admit the rioters in ones and twos. The Prods let loose barrages of fire as the former miners broke through like water bursting a dam. Drones lashed out with pliable lines and seized Breakers pulling them into the open where they were gunned down with merciless fervor. But all weapons have limitations. Without time to pause and reload the outgoing fire slackened and Breakers reached the Prod lines. The shield-wall buckled and more and more Breakers burst through and a vicious melee began.
The Prods, still outnumbered even after the carnage, broke and fled, though several were torn down by the enraged miners. The surviving Breakers slipped out of Orin Mine into Hathor's bleak night. A few hours later a convoy of reinforcements arrived, sweeping the complex and gathering the surviving Prods. With no Breakers to contradict them they reported the rebellion crushed. FerrumSky never traced the escaped Breakers but never the less they declared those who escaped to have died from exposure in Hathor's hostile climate.
The executive board of FerrumSky conducted an extensive review of the cost of the Orin Incident. They determined that the lack of resolve and readiness displayed by Armed Security had caused substantial material loss in the incident.  The remaining Prods stationed at Orin were repurposed to replace the lost contracts. Then FerrumSky negotiated to bring in the notorious Black Squadron Security firm. Best known for their suppression of Earth's food riots at the close of the 22nd century, they rapidly took to instilling a new fear into the Tracted.
However, the story of the Orin Mine is whispered amongst those still slaving away in the many mines and little by little, in twos and threes more Tracted have broken their contracts and braved everything to escape. The Orin Incident, which FerrumSky distilled to a group of columns on a spreadsheet, became a candle in the darkness for the Tracted of Hathor.

(by Matt Wirth with Nick Baran and Robert Ferrick)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

More Design Decisions and More Playtesting

Playtesting at Brainstorm in Chicago.
Photo Matt Wirth
I have to admit I've been neglecting the blog. It isn't that Broken Contract has taken a backseat. Indeed, it's actually been the primary focus of my "free time." Here is a breakdown of what has been going on:

The Rulebook

Over the summer I made the decision to extract all of the background information from the rulebook to keep it concise and useful to those who use rule sets for their own purposes. This gives us the flexibility that as the rules evolve, the background and scenarios can still maintain their relevance. It also means that I can put the compact rule set anywhere I want, making them more accessible to people.

Broken Contract Rule Book PDF 9/3/15

FerrumSky Episode I

This means that all of that background and the scenarios need to go somewhere. For now the new home is in the FerrumSky book which presents all of the background information composed regarding the iron mining and manufacture corporation, FerrumSky. All of the characters written/depicted for the setting, along with a collection of scenarios and special rules will all go within this module/supplement/book.

Scenarios and Characters

The last two months I have done a lot of playtesting both solo and with various people in Milwaukee and Chicago. These sessions have inspired a lot of minor changes. Many of the stats and special rules of the characters have been reworked. Scenarios have been roughly composed and some have been kept and others have been played, analyzed, and discarded. It's definitely been a process. The last couple of days I've been solo playing the first 3 mission campaign over and over again to fine tune the campaign rules and make sure that it's fun and replayable with different results.

3D Prints from Prodos.

The Models

After accumulating this pile of 3D printed parts they were shipped off to Valiant for casting. As of last week Valiant contacted me letting me know that silicon masters of all of these parts have been made and the master molds and first casts should be coming soon. From left to right the above models are Will Kollis - the Breaker Crew Leader, Micha Donelly, Overseer Billins (with alternate arm and head) and the Prod Gen-Mod with alternate arm. All of these models were part of the Kickstarter and represent what I believe to be a step forward for the quality and presentation of Broken Contract.

A mix of pro printed components and proxies.

The Game Components

Over the last couple months Sam has been finishing up the components needed to play the game. Here you can see completed designs for the Character Dashboard, Initiative Deck, and Action/Wound chits. He's currently working on the Equipment Cards to replace these as well as proper Character Stat Cards. That will leave Special Ability Cards to be the final piece of the puzzle as far as player interface with their dashboard.

Board Sections and the Making Mine Scenery Series

One of the big draws to the Broken Contract Design Blog was the Making Mine Scenery series of how-to articles. Well, I've been looking at printing options and the printed board sections are looking like they are going to be 8"x8", not 8"x10" like the mine sections that I've built. What does that mean? Well, I'll probably have to reboot the series and start over! The techniques will still be the same, but I'm going to want to rebuild everything to the correct size, so we will begin again in the near future.

That's all the latest, If you have any questions don't hesitate to comment. Thank you for following along.

-Nick