Tags: Cloud, Mist, Fog, Aerosol, Nano-tech, Nanites, Alternate, Augmented, Virtual, Reality, Recursion.
This technological cloud of wonders comes in many forms and can deliver just about any virtual experience a GM can imagine. It can be a one off encounter, a recurring event, a curse, a blessing or mere entertainment. Or maybe you just want to throw a curve-ball at your PCs instead of the the standards from the list of weather choices in the Ninth World Guidebook. Basically, this cloud is a virtual or alternate reality program delivered by a cloud of bio-chem aerosol, nanites, possibly even an energy wall or through some alternate form of matter? The actual vector really doesn’t matter, the description you use as it approaches is probably much more important, as well as the reaction of the PCs while they panic to find cover or a means to protect themselves from their imagined impending doom. Regardless, if it affects a party, it should affect all present whether biological, technological or other.
You may present the event to be a slow moving wall of fog rolling in across the prairies, enveloping a player or their whole party while they are bedded down for the evening. It could be a gas filled chamber, the emissions from a discovery or any other source, even a defective cypher. Regardless, offer a player or group intrusion, as appropriate. If it is taken carry on with the program. If not, then nothing happens and the program doesn’t take, with the players none the wiser.
If the intrusion is accepted the program starts from the current encounter and carries on however the GM devises. If it is a group event, the program usually ensures it is an internally consistent story as well. As GM you will want to continue play, as if the PCs were experiencing the world normally, but they are now interacting with the program. The encounter passes by and then, just like a dream sequence, things slowly get surreal, but then again we are talking about the Ninth World.
Yet another form of this intrusion might be a cloud that lasts for 10 minutes, an hour or a day and acts as a layer of armour or impregnates the whole being of the PC(s) giving them an augmented reality on top of their own. They might get a bonus to their intellect rolls for perception? Perhaps they perceive their current environment, as it was in one of the eight previous worlds? Maybe strange sibilant voices whisper to them at inopportune times or every person they encounter looks like a malevolent creature. Again, too many options to cover in a one pager.
Another alternative, instead of the cloud being an alternate or virtual reality program, is that it could be a recursion gate of whichever sort the GM feels appropriate. This could be a means for a GM to introduce an ancient or even a current Ninth World related recursions into their Numenera game.
Questions you might ask yourself before inflicting the program on your players, and this list is by no means exhaustive:
What is your favourite colour, you know, what colours scares your players, use that as part of the cloud description? Does the cloud have a heaviness or oiliness to it or some other thing about it that might creep out your players? How does it move and billow, does it seem natural or intelligent in the way it moves?
Is the program meant to entertain, impart knowledge, provide skills training, advertise, simulate battle experiences, replay a memory, torture with nightmares or any of a million other experiences.
How long does the program actually last? Is it compressed time? Would the PCs come about and not even notice any time missing, nothing more than a blink of an eye?
If the PCs realize it is a dream or program, can they stop it? Is that process as simple as an Intellect roll? Does the program end when one of the PCs die in program with everyone then returning to the real world?
As usual, have fun with that!
P.S. (17FEB2015) Having thrown this at the players, as a GM Intrusion during my last session on the weekend, the PCs were woken by their recently acquired companion animal, a frilled baul. The low wall of moving ground fog(~3ft/1m) looked very much like fog from a CO2 based fog machine, but it undulated and flowed cross current to the prevailing wind at the time. Even though it only moved at walking speed they quickly figured out they would not likely outrun the wall. They waited and took their lumps, it came, past and flowed off to the west. Little do they know I decided on saving the “program” for a delayed reaction during the next session, or maybe later…
Now I’m just debating what the scenario will be, how long and how realistic? Having though further on it, they got XP for taking the intrusion. Funny if they get another intrusion during the “VR program”, in fact earning XP from an intrusion within an intrusion, twist on a dream within a dream.