I have finished reading 5150 Urban Renewal, the revised edition for Two Hour Wargames' 5150 New Beginnings. There is a bit of streamlining of the rules (for instance, no more stunned status or hit locations) but, more than that, there is a considerable overhaul of the campaign system.
In Urban Renewal you start a campaign with your Star alone. Recruiting grunts is a mission in itself, and sometimes you may actually want to do missions on your own. There is a defined goal: improve your character as much as you can before retiring, over a span of at most 10 years -- the campaign officially starts at January 2220 and time advances by months. This way, characters now will want to complete jobs mostly for a better chance to improve their Rep and skills, balancing risks and rewards.
To try out the campaign system I created the following character:
JERRY JENKINS (Star) - Sales Clerk (LWC) / Cash 2
REP 5 / FIT 4 / PEP 5 / SAV 3
Equipment: BA Pistol, Com-link
Home: Lower Polariston
Instead of making my Star as a bounty hunter, ganger or some other more "adventurous" type, I decided to go for one of the "ordinary joe" professions. Jenkins is a clerk at a holo-vid store, with plans of getting rich quickly. He has made some deals involving contraband and is looking for other profitable jobs. So let's get started:
Jenkins decides to look for others who might be interested to work with him. [This is my first encounter for the month and I set it up as a Chillin' encounter at a bar in Lower Polariston, during the evening.] On the way to the bar, he notices three women leaving an abandoned building. He recognizes their jackets: one of the local gangs. Jenkins walks into the bar, sits at the counter and looks around. There is just a bunch of old drunk men sitting around, no one he would want in a risky job. Not long after, the three ganger women enter the building. Eventually, Jenkins starts talking to them and gets on their good side [a successful People challenge.] He writes down Viper's comlink ID and tells her that he will call if a job comes up. When Jenkins leaves the bar, he is approached by a man in a trenchcoat, coming from an alley: a robbery. He draws his pistol when he sees the robber's machine pistol pointed at him. Shots are fired but no one is hit. While Jenkins runs away from the robber, police sirens can be heard in the distance.
Jenkins then starts looking for jobs [I spend another encounter to look for jobs, getting two offers.] He meets with a certain Mr. Rolf in a Green shop at the Financial district. Rolf is looking for someone who will "retrieve" something for him. The pay is good, so he accepts the job and gets the details. So now Jenkins must break into a restaurant in Middleton and steal some body parts (!) from there, no questions asked. The catch is that the restaurant owner's brother is a police sergeant who has the habit of protecting the place.
Jenkins contacts Viper about the job, but when he mentions the involvement of a police sergeant, she says that she will not take part in it. He decides to break into the restaurant late in the night, so he prepares and takes the train to Middleton. He moves down the street to the restaurant without drawing attention, forces the lock of a side door and enters. Once inside, he catches the sergeant off guard, causing him to snap fire and miss [thanks to the Resilient attribute and Star power.] Jenkins shoots back and also misses. In a rush of adrenaline, he jumps at the sergeant. Taken by surprise, the man fires again but Jenkins pushes his arm to the side and knocks him out with a well-placed pistol whip. He manages to find the body parts while hearing police sirens. As he runs down the street, two police cruisers appear and quickly he has two pistols and two shotguns pointed at him. Jenkins surrenders and is arrested, charged for attempted murder and stealing. Surprisingly, he manages to get bail until his judgment.
Nine days later, Jenkins is summoned to court. After a long and taxing trial, he is considered not guilty due to some technical issues! His lawyer boasts his own ability to defend him... but maybe someone in the shadows wanted to avoid exposing the whole issue with the body parts in the restaurant... [Some lucky rolls allowed this "not guilty" result while rolling 3 dice against 7 of the accusation, so I came up with this idea about some "shadowy" influences...]
This completes the first month of Jenkins' campaign. Characters that may re-appear later: Mr. Rolf, Jocelyn and Hannah (the other two gangers he met in the bar), Jonah (the police sergeant). Despite his failed mission, Viper has remained in the group.
My first impressions about the campaign system of 5150 Urban Renewal are very positive. As I am still "learning my way" around the new campaign system, this took me a few hours to play. In a way, it reminds me of Larger Than Life, also from Two Hour Wargames: very narrative-driven, a real blend of RPG and wargame. I played this in the computer, as it made it faster to set up different boards than doing so on the table. I will continue Jenkins' campaign to see how far he goes.