While perfect in every way the mission Patch Job has missed potentials for fun for those keen on Classic play. The slant of the mission currently takes it in the Straight direction, but a few tweaks can make all the difference. Here are a few additions that you might want to consider after reading through the mission to complicate the fate of the Troubleshooters involved.
Serious Health Warning
The ten-foot pole represents an old Other Game standard of adventuring. Few parties would pass up the opportunity of investing in one to make travel through the next dungeon a simpler and safer experience. You could prod, poke and push anything from a safe distance and avoid the worries of flashing frying fireballs or gut-piercing spears through the belly. Of course, no notice of reality played a part in the ten-foot poles existence. The fact passages in dungeons tended to be ten feet square didn’t seem to be an issue, nor the cramped crawlways or man-sized doorways that appeared regular as clockwork. The pole seemed to vanish when inconvenient, only to reappear when the next deathtrap loomed.
What the heck does that have to do with the mission?
Patience, young one. The fullness of time will reveal everything.
Once Tech Services have presented the Troubleshooters with the COIT and the box of Hull Skin, the next item out of the equipment box looks like a ten foot metal pole with a mop head on the end. Tech Services provide the ten-foot mop because they have discovered that Hull Skin possesses extreme carcinogenic properties. Research & Development developed the Hull Skin and Tech Services have paranoid theories that the side effects failed to feature in the documentation because R&D have foul plans in mind (as opposed to the more believable reasoning that they are just too eccentric and over-zealous to ever test or document anything properly). Desperate to ensure that the mission succeeds, Tech Service has decided to provide something useful. Just not too useful.
Solid but lightweight, the ten foot mop can withstand considerable weight and a heavy beating without suffering damage. Getting the pole through the TUBE station holds a whole bucketload of potential fun – especially at the outer barriers, in the funicular, on the stairs, going down the escalator and getting over the tracks. Mind, the final obstacle actually offers a great second purpose for the mop – the Troubleshooters could use it to vault over the tracks to the far wall.
Fetch, Sit, Play Dead
The warning at the top of the escalator, at location 2, fell foul of some late editing and lost the vital final component to the pun – a dog. The setup involves the literal translation of the warning, which appears to require that anyone using the escalator needs to carry a dog. Based on a genuine sign on the London Underground, this confusion over the warning has prompted many problems, jokes and complaints.
Well, where did the dog go then? Oddly, it was a Petbot and the same fellow makes an appearance in both Send in the Clones and Mister Bubbles. Pushing a concept too far can certainly dampen the humor, so it was a fair edit. That said, the mission equipment could easily include a Pet-class bot, especially if you have yet to play either of the previously mentioned missions. Use the information from Mister Bubbles at the back of the main rule book.
Alternatively, if a team assigned Petbot does not appeal, add a couple of Doberbots to the upper area of the TUBE station. Troubleshooters violating security or accessing off-limits areas may hear a swish, followed by two Doberbots issuing from holes in the walls. Set to subdue and hold traitorous citizens without a ticket, the Doberbot programming has suffered from Rex-I’s influence as much as any bot in the station. The Troubleshooter team may blast them into pieces, but reaching the top of the escalator discover that a dog suddenly represents the only way to get down. Cue frenzied efforts to stick the bits of the Doberbots back together, along with sudden and frighten resurrection of the cyber-mongrels halfway through the journey.
Up, Up and Aw-Arggh!
While not explicit in the text, I included the huge fans in the floor of the platform as homage to the bullet-time effects from The Matrix. In the first film of the series, the hero fights the villainous Agent Smith in an underground station dodging bullets through slow motion weaving and while delivering incredible, high-flying kicks, pictured from a rotating viewpoint. The fans offer the chance to experiment with bullet-time, PARANOIA style.
As stated in passing with the mission, page 30, the Troubleshooters can muster mediocre bullet-time moves with an Agility or Violence check; but, Gamemasters with the inclination might amplify the entertainment value of the fans and offer the characters astonishing moments of control. If acrobatic feats and slo-mo spinning kicks seem fun, ease up on the bad checks and scatter around a few Perversity Points to add to the entertainment. If the players get too cocky, have a poorly planned dive into an updraft lead to a headlong dive into the track area or one of the Troubleshooters pinned to the extractor mesh in the ceiling. Make the experience a memorable one, as every PARANOIA firefight really should be.