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Good & Evil, Incorporated


Blind Men Hit Hard

ActualPlay/game notes for a Matrix game I ran earlier this year, to introduce my buddies to Wushu.


The Matrix is a great setting for a Wushu one-shot. Everybody is familiar with it, high-octane action is expected, you have a built-in group role (they're all crew on the same hovercraft), and there are built-in, easily grasped plots and inciting incidents. The GM, in his role as "orders from Zion", gives the action a kick in the pants, and the players run with it.

Character Creation

I believe I gave each player a 5 in combat and hacking traits, and let them pick another trait or two that would be at 4 and 3, along with a weakness at 1. They picked appropriately Matrixy names and we were good to go. Including the opening combat that I ran to get them familiar with the rules, this part took about 15 minutes.


I had two players, and Wushu works great for small groups. When fighting VersusMooks, with a dice cap of 6 and combat traits of 5, you can figure on each player generating about 4 yang successes per round. Multiply this by the party size and the number of rounds you want the fight to last, and you've got your ThreatRating. This works with any party size, so scaling is dead easy.

I generally give the Nemeses chi equal to the sum of the PC's chi. Two PCs with 3 each yields a single villain with 6 chi or two with 3 chi each.

The Game

The PCs are free minds on the hovercraft Gilgamesh. Their mission: to set new hardlines into the matrix. Each hardline has two components: a hardware component in the real world, the broadcast point, and a software component in the matrix. This is effectively a trojan horse or virus planted by the free minds to give them a back door into the system.

A hardline "tap", as it's called, looks like a corkscrew. You find a secluded location, screw it into the wall or floor, and it's self-extracting and self-installing, blooming over the course of a minute or so into a black phone. The agents occasionally hunt for and destroy these, so there always has to be someone installing new ones.

The Hook

As charted by the statistics experts back in Zion, Agents are finding and destroying taps much quicker than they used to, sometimes within days of installation, before they've even been used. Unless this is stopped, access to the matrix may be cut off completely, leaving Zion unable to free any more humans or affect the matrix at all.

Opening Scene

I like to run a combat scene at the opening of games. It helps get the players in the action-descriptive mood, and once I describe the setup, the players are in charge, leaving me free to think about what will happen next while they fold, spindle, and mutilate the opposition.

The crewmen of the Gilgamesh have spent a productive day in the matrix, installing a number of taps, avoiding authorities, and looking good in black. They're heading for their exit, a cheap hotel room in the city, when suddenly,

Blam! Bang! Boom! The walls blow in, the swat team comes through dressed in body armor and ready to rumble, and player narration kicks in.

The players were a bit tentative at first, asking me, "can I shoot one of them?" Yes, you can, just say it. Describe how he flips backward while you're at it. "Well, can I kick the gun out of somebody's hand, too?" Yes, you can, just say it. Describe how you flip backward while you're at it, too. They eventually got into the spirit of it and were wrecking furniture, cops, and the carpet with glee. They seemed to especially like "And then I empty my machine pistol at them on full auto" as a detail.

If I were doing this again, I might include a NPC crewmember in the very first scene, so I could take the first action and show them what kind of narration was allowable. Then again, maybe not, Nemeses work well for this purpose too.


The PCs exit back to their bodies, where the captain, a Zion-born human with no matrix jack, tells them about the uptick in tap destruction, and they decide to stake out some taps in the city, hoping to see what's going on. The captain arms them with a tracer tag, a dart that will let them track something within the matrix without following it directly.


Back in the matrix, our two PCs have each staked out a separate building, but remain within running distance of each other. Other teams from other ships are staking out different taps. Of course, everything goes down where the PCs are, because they're PCs.

One PC has staked out, um, I don't remember, it was a throwaway. The other staked out a hardline in the basement of a church. I big, ancient-looking, gothic cathedral. He was across the street on a roof when he saw an old, blind man tap, tap, tapping his way down the street. He seemed to be going toward the church. The PC called his teammate on a cell and then took aim at the old man on a hunch.

Sirens wailed as the police approached. A black SUV and several police cars screeched to a halt. The old man pointed at the church and then got into the SUV. The PC shot the SUV with the tracking dart.

The front of the church was swarmed with cops, who had not yet entered the building. Both PCs go in the back, hoping to get to the basement exit before anybody enters the building.

Fat chance. The stained glass windows get kicked in when the cops come in and furious kung fu erupts among the pews. An agent enters the fray after a couple of rounds. The PCs needed to get out.

The obstacles here were mooks, threat rating 15 or so, an Agent nemesis, with 4 or 5 chi and combat 5, and secondary goals with 5 yang successes needed apiece for them to get out the exit.

I believe the agent stomped a hole in the floor to get to the basement and then picked up a pew and began laying about with it like a 15-foot club. They wiped out most of the mooks before they could get out, but I don't think they got the agent.


The PCs are safely out of the matrix, and they have a day or so to recuperate. All their lost chi refreshes now. The SUV they tagged apparently took the old man south of downtown, to an island that sits in the bay. It's heavily fortified, approachable only by air, boat, or a narrow causeway that leads out to it. The structure itself is a huge, black glass pyramid. The PCs decide to go in, find out how the old man is tracking their taps, and kill him if possible.


Getting into the building was a 10 point challenge with a time limit of 4 rounds of description. If they hadn't made it in by then, detection and then combat would ensue. One PC had a stealth trait 4, the other had no applicable traits so was rolling versus a 2. I really like the way all challenges work using the same basic mechanism in Wushu.

The PCs described for me their black rubber raft, the dark of the night as they approached, engine dead to avoid the noise, their paddling against the current, etc. They made it with style. As they approached, a convoy of black cars came up the causeway, so they timed their entrance to dive through the closing door, right after the last car.

They made their way up through the ducts, crawlspaces, and stairwells until they reach the peak of the pyramid.


The penthouse is a big, square room with sloping glass walls/ceiling that rise to the point of the pyramid. The elevator protrudes from one wall.

The room is mostly empty, except for a desk with a smiling secretary, and the old man, tap, tap, tapping with his stick at the floor of the room.

Ding! The elevator stops and opens, and the PCs have a moment to take all this in before the secretary smiles and greets them. She's annoyingly perky, behind her massive, expensive, granite-top desk.

"May I help you gentlemen?"

They are uncertain. "We're here to see the old man."

"I'm sorry, he's not available." She's still smiling as she reaches down, grips the edge of the desk, stands up, and flips the heavy stone desk across the room like a toddler tossing a plate, forcing the PCs to duck and roll while she slaps the alarm and charges them. The desk breaks out one of the windows and a breeze blows out from the penthouse into the night.

One of the PCs fends off the Agent, the other goes to attack the old man. He sees a map of the city laid out on the floor with red pushpins matching the locations of recently pulled hardlines, and the old man tap, tap, tapping on the floor and bending to push in a blue pin. He stands up and waits patiently for the PC to close, then attacks like a fencer with his little walking cane. It's all the PC can do to hold him off, and he hits HARD with that stick.

The other crew member and the lady agent have dueled their way out onto the sloped black glass, balancing precariously on window frames as they leap at each other and shoot and punch. A helicopter buzzes the building and then returns for another pass.

It tries to chaingun the PC on the exterior, who evades by sliding down the slope of the glass. The other PC, inside, runs, LEAPS, and grabs the landing leg of the chopper. He flips up inside, tosses out the hapless pilot as he starts to morph into an agent, and takes the stick.

He sees the old man rear back and THROW his stick at the chopper like a spear. It penetrates the windshield, narrowly missing the PC pilot. He chainguns the old man.

The lady Agent has run down the side of the pyramid after the escaping PC, so he shoots at her to slow her down while the other brings the chopper into a dive straight at her, bailing out at the last second as she calmly stares into the approaching blades and fires her pistol at him.

Nearly out of life and luck, they two free minds liberate a car from the garage they entered earlier and flee to the safety of an exit.

The lady Agent had stats identical to the agent earlier. The old man also had a combat trait of 5, but not much chi, he was a locating program, not really an agent.

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Page last modified on February 09, 2006, at 12:39 PM