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Campaign: Down the Tubes

Campaign: Down the Tubes
The High Concept: Cyberpunk roleplaying, literally

’This is Rose Wild net casting to you live from outside the Chesburo Center in Chicago where Reverend Anthony Satyr has gathered 100 or so people to protest the opening ceremonies of this years Chescon. Reverend Satyr and his organization Leviticus 1928 have been long time critics of cybernetic enhancements claiming that they are abominations in the eyes of God. They have, more recently, begun several small but increasingly violent protests outside of TUBEing centers, claiming that the creation of virtual realities spits in the face of God’s true creation. Representatives of the Virtual Reality Role Playing Association or VRRPA have commented that “So long as Reverend Satyr adheres to all local ordinances we commend his dedication while disagreeing with his conclusions” Meanwhile a spokesperson close to the Reverend has stated “We and The Reverend will do all that we can to see this blight wiped clean from the face of the Earth.”
So, the Reverend’s people are gathering as fans of TUBEs and TUBEing begin to arrive and we’ll be here reporting as events unfold. This is Rose Wild net casting.’

Campaign in Brief:
Nearly anyone who can afford a Link Implant has tried TUBEing at some point, but only a few have the physical ability, mental acuity, and improvisational acting chops to be professional role-players. These elite athletes draw impressive salaries, travel the world and have adventures, well virtual adventures, unless you believe the rumors that these highly trained gamers are sometimes recruited by governments, corporations or even wealthy individuals to perform side jobs that most professionals would consider impossible.

The World
It’s 2035 and the world sucks – it’s not quite the distopian future envisioned by the Sci-Fi luminaries of the past but it’s sure as hell not a Utopia either. Global warming’s raised the sea levels some, screwed with the weather a bit and made food a bit less diverse; Population’s have kept climbing creating unemployment and racial tensions and some pretty rabid nationalism and made our delightfully less diverse food somewhat more scarce; But it’s not all bad – I mean we’ve got a lunar resort if you can afford it, and we got people ‘to’ Mars plus there’s TUBEing and while we can’t all be professional level TUBErs we can link in and experience the game like we are…

A Brief History of TUBE and TUBEing
At his inauguration in 2017 President Gleason was assassinated. The who and the why really don’t matter that much any more but the official investigation included a few footnotes regarding Secret Service training techniques. Several LinkSim trained agents’ in field response time was recorded at only 40% of their in sim averages. Hoping to improve those numbers the Secret Service commissioned Tadwell Electronics, the creator of LinkSim, to develop a new virtual reality simulator that would accurately measure and train agents’ real world reactions.
The prototype TUBE (Tadwell Universal BioSimulation Equipment) was delivered in mid 2018 and consisted of a large tube filled with a variable density liquid, modified SCUBA equipment and a massive upgrade to the agencies current LinkSim software. The agent in training was suspended in the liquid, the software then ran the simulation, just as it always had, except that it no longer intercepted the brain’s signals telling the body to move, rather while suspended in the fluid the agent’s body would actual perform the tasks required by the Sim. The fluid itself recorded the agent’s movements and fed them back into the LinkSim software.
The results were spectacular and agents’ in field response times actually tended to be slightly better than their TUBE averages. This was attributed to the density of the liquid the agents were training in. This success led to a proliferation of the TUBE training across governmental agencies, no few improvements to the technology and it’s eventual leak into general population.
Once out, the question of use was an obvious one, in a world where LinkSim was commonly available what place was there for TUBE? Education was a first choice many universities and almost all technical schools became TUBE equipped, some high-end gyms began offering TUBE time for those who wanted more interesting exercise experiences, in short order gyms were competing for who offered the most desirable exercise sims. Eventually, these exercise sims began to have stories, plots and in sim options and patrons would have their experiences recorded for later viewing. As these recording began to leak and bootleg copies began appearing it became clear that there was a very real and active market for recordings of real people, doing things that they were actually capable of in unusual environments. This was when Champs Gym in Chicago hired a local gaming group to set up the first TUBEcon in 2023. The rest is, as they say, history…

TUBEing Today
With dozens of large TUBE centers in the US and hundreds worldwide the sport of TUBEing is going strong. Professional teams travel from center to center to compete in carefully crafted simulations ranging from wild Space Opera to Savage fantasy, pre-modern espionage to wild west shoot outs, anything the talented team of VRRPA GM’s are capable of conceiving TUBErs can face and conquer. All fed out through the Net either live or as edited highlights for subscribers to experience.

Character Creation:

Race: All characters are Human and begin with the normal Bonus Edge.

Attributes: Are Purchased as Normal

Skills: Are purchased as Normal

Edges and Hindrances: Are purchased as normal; No Arcane Background is appropriate for the Down the Tubes setting except as noted below. Psionics could, I suppose, be appropriate at the GM’s whim but Psionic abilities should not, generally, function in a TUBE scenario.

New Edges

TUBE Training:
Requirements: Novice

Select any two edges or increase any 2 attributes by 1 die type or gain 4 skill points that can add new skills or increase existing skills ignoring the normal limitations of attributes; you gain access to these abilities only while TUBEing. This edge may be taken three times, once for each application.

Improved TUBE Training:
Requirements: Seasoned, TUBE Training

At the beginning of any TUBE Scenario select any Edge, or any one Attribute to increase by 1 die type, or two skill points worth of skill purchases. You gain access to these abilities only while TUBEing and only for the duration of the current scenario This edge may be taken three times, once for each application.

Advanced Tube Training
Requirements: Veteran, Improved TUBE Training

As Improved Tube Training

Tube Savvy:
Requirements: Novice

An innate understanding of the rules and algorithms that are used to drive the core TUBE system improves your ability to utilize some skills within the system. You gain 4 skill points that must be applied to skills you already have; you gain access to these abilities only while TUBEing

New Hindrance
Slowed Reactions (Minor)

Select Strength or Agility while in a TUBE scenario this attribute and all associated skills are reduced by 1 die type. This Hindrance may be taken twice, once for each application.

Arcane Backgrounds
Some Tube Scenarios allow for the use of Arcane Backgrounds, these and their associated skills can be purchased with the TUBE Edges above, but are only active in scenarios where these abilities are “Turned on” by the GM and must operate within whatever limits have been imposed. Power Selection for these is done at the beginning of the scenario and is not fixed as they normally are in Savage Worlds.

Minor or ubiquitous augmentations can probably just be assumed (Everyone has a Link, it’s essentially the equivalent of every credit card, retailer club card, cell phone, web surfing tool and email app accessible via HUD drop down menu in your head) For anything more serious I would, until I get around to tuning an arcane background for cybernetics, just use the Arcane Background (Super Powers) and file off the serial numbers.

Two Worlds
This campaign as well as a few more I have in mind work on the idea that the players exist in two worlds, the edges and hindrances reflect the hope that play would be balanced between the two. This game, as envisioned, would be the characters traveling to strange and exotic locations and having adventures, while also playing through entire game scenarios in the TUBEs – sort of a sounding board for weird ideas, and a venue for one shot stories, that sort of thing. This could also easily be run downplaying either of the two worlds. It being only about cyberpunk adventures or only about the TUBE games, whatever works for the GM but you may wish to revisit the Edges and Hindrances if you choose to go either way.

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