Braindead at the Shopping Mall, a Reboot the Future Play Report

I was very excited to get on to a game of Reboot the Future at GrogMeat2021.  

Memories of trying to get Glastonbury tickets had come back to me as I childishly sit there hitting F5 in the hope of getting the prized #1 backer of this game, when the Kickstarter went live (still 10 days to back it, as of 21/Nov/2021). 

So Reboot the Future is Newt Newport's attempt to make the Cyberpunk game of his dreams.  He's pushed the usual near-future setting further into the space age by setting it in the year 2223.  He's also using Paul Mitchener's Liminal system, which is simple and accessible, yet has some very clever rulings to give it meaningful depth both in a rules sense and to support roleplaying.

Technically this game was run using a table, some dice, print outs and (unverified) humans!

Many thanks to the other players PookieAndrew and Rob (aka JellyRovers on discord), Newt was our avuncular referee. 

...Here Be Spoilers...

Mourn the Fall of the Mall

The year is 2223 and the drone swoops down over the remnants of New Oldham, a partially terraformed desert planet in the Proxima Centauri system, nearly four light-years from Earth-Prime.  As the drone tracks through the air, it shows a myriad of information points on its display, it then scans over the Shopping centre, the data drops off, black space in the grid appears, no datasphere coverage.  Odd.

The drone banks and a yellow triangle alert flashes, it sees a hoverbike speeding along the torn-up expressway, jumping over holes and then banking and turning down a slip road.  The drone follows as the bike heads down towards a dry river bed, besides which a dilapidated old Steel Mill sits.  The bike and rider disappear into the darkness.  The drone hovers outside, waiting.

Brain Dead in the Shopping Mall

Pitbull, jumps from his bike as it slows and bumps against the end wall, of what passes for the garage of the Stainless Steel ProvidersLadykiller, GreaseMonkey and StreetRonin are lounging in a makeshift "war" room.  Ladykiller is plugged in and oblivious to anyone else, the occasional, strangled giggle is heard.  GreaseMonkey is toying with a large ball of electronics; wires, tubes, and metallic chunks.  The device judders and sparks fly out from it, at which point GreaseMonkey, looks over to StreetRonin for affirmation of her progress.  StreetRonin is picking her nails with a long thin vibroblade, steam hisses and she looks down at the makeshift work, the nails/meat-tallic claws, glint in the pale, yellow light of the LEDs.  She smiles coldly at GreaseMonkey, clacking her claws together, GreaseMonkey shifts uneasily, focusing on his work.

The Old Steel Mill

Pitbull walks to the fridge for a beer, passing over the footage from his scouting of the mall, they all connect in to assess.  It's been 30 minutes since they received a new job offer, a Find and RetrieveHead to the old shopping centre, the Palace of Dreams, find a bike in the local car dealership, a Rider 2000 HoverBike.  This had come from Imperial Sterling Inc, the corp responsible for this messed up world, for the deaths of many they'd known and loved.  All of the group had deep connections with this corp.  It wasn't ideal, but life in New Oldham, was often about difficult choices, often about just surviing.

Rider 2000 HoverBike

LadyKiller looked up, "I'll spell it out, for those more meat than mind.  Seems there was a previous investigation into the mall, DataSphere coverage is minimal, looks like all senors are down.  There is some kind of Monument in the centre, dust storms followed the previous explorers, like it was sentient, they went missing, something is not ... cool... about this job."

The others look at each other, StreetRonin proposes to throw up some drones in the sky and Pitbull would suggests circling the mall, the others would then monitor all these feeds.  Then they turned to one of the three "interns", Ted, or was it Fred, could even be Ned.  

StreetRonin, beckons the Intern over, a clawed finger on their chest, "Name?"   
"I'm Ted miss.", whispered the white-faced urchin.  
SreetRonin looked him up and down and grinned, "Today, you have won the shittery.  Let's go."  
"S-sss-ss sorry, Miss.  Shittery?", stuttered Ted
"The. Shit. Lottery.  We require cannon fodder.  Don't dawdle.", with this StreetRonin, slahses her fingers across the metal plates of his barely adequate armour, sparks fly and deep scratches are left behind.  Ted stumbles after her.

Ted (or Ned, maybe Fred)

A little while later and the group are all watching footage of the drones as it circles the shopping centre, a black van is parked at the entrance and a figure is standing beside it, talking into something.

Their comms crackles and an unfamiliar voice announces with authority, "Evening all, this is Inspector Samuel.  I know you are listening.  I used to be the bobby on this beat.  Now let's say we all talk about what's going on and how we can learn something to our mutual benefit."

"Don't trust him, that van, I did a trace, it's owned by Imperial Stering Inc.", mutters LadyKiller.  StreetRonin's voice comes in over the comms, "We are sending someone to negotiate, if he dies horribly, in a hail of bullets, you'll upset us."  

StreetRonin's bike skids to a halt at the top of the expressway, she turns to Ted.  "Get down there and see what he wants, we'll be listening."

Ted jumps off and begins jogging down the abandoned street to the shopping centre entrance and the strange black vehicle.  He slows, there is no one around, he tries to peer into the van, but the windows are blacked out.  Suddenly, a voice whispers in his ear, "You're fucking knicked me old beauty!"  Ted jumps back and reaches for his cosh.  "Whooah!  Easy there, just my little joke, old habits die hard."

Ted is beside the man his back against the van.  The man has a gas mask covering his face and is dressed in survival gear and wears a large hooded cloak, his hands are up in the air in mock surrender, he cackles uncontrollably at Ted.  Ted squeakily shouts, "Turn to channel 23!!"

Inspector Samuel

On their hidden frequency Samuel's gives the group the low down, he was here to investigate missing cyber-enhanced individuals, his partner Eddie Lyons had been on the case and has gone missing.  The black bus he was in is able to operate in the dust zone, it would clear a path through the storms, he calls it, the "Magic Bus". If they help him, he'll lend them the bus, he knows they need to get into the Shopping Centre, so "squid pro go", take the bus, get the Rider 2000 and find out what happened to Eddie.

As they listen and question the man, LadyKiller has hacked into more information from the datasphere points on the outskirts of this area and on Samuel.  She confirms he is legit, also it seems he was somewhat romantically involved with Eddie.  Something odd though, a van like the one Samuel's has, was owned by Imperial Sterling Inc to collect corpses - is this a double-cross?

The Magic Bus not the Moria Sex Bus

With greed written large in their eyes, it doesn't take long for the Stainless Steel Providers to throw caution to the wind and rendezvous with the van.  Samuels explains the workings of the van, and they see already, there is a circle of dust that is cleared around the van.  They pile their bikes into the back and then Pitbull takes the wheel.  The barriers are down on the shopping centre entrance, but he puts the pedal to the floor and takes off up the bank, landing with a jolt and spinning around, but mainly, now inside the centre.  The rest of the crew pick themselves up and start to survey the scene.

GreaseMonkey consults his gizmo, it jumps in the palm of his hand and lets out a series of electronic squonks.  GreaseMonkey, pats it and then declares, "Over there.  Towards the tower.  Power signals, everything else is dead."  Meanwhile, GreaseMonkey has a series of wires plugged into part of the Vans interior, he's trying to identify and replicate the dust clearing properties of the van - this could be worth millions.

The van makes its way through the deserted roads and down towards the tower, which is surrounded by a series of five bunkers or mausoleums and a church off to one side.

The Monument

Coming to a halt at the tower, GreaseMonkey gets out and inspects a small plaque at the base of the tower.  He unscrews it and starts examining the insides, there is a circuit board, this seems to control the signals that are emanating from the tower, he fiddles around with it and gets an unpleasant blast of magnetic waves, he staggers back to the van.

The others are investigating the five mausoleums, they seem empty, there are places for bodies, but the bodies are missing.  On the final mausoleum, they find some steps descending into the dark.

GreaseMonkey stumbles across to join them, hair frazzled and smoking above his mask.  The others point to his hair, trying to make themselves heard, but he shrugs.  StreetRonin stretches out a hand, stopping Ted, "You stay in the Bus, we may need to leave in a hurry."  Then, the remaining four step down out of the dust and into the beginnings of a metal staircase, that stretches down past the limits of their lights.

StreetRonin goes first and after a long but uninterrupted descent, they are on the floor of a bright and clean looking service tunnel.  They hear quiet noises up ahead, there are a series of slack-jawed, pale-eyed creatures, they seem to be performing menial cleaning and repair jobs.  Straws are drawn and PitBull has the short one, he edges up the corridor towards a group of these creatures.

CleenzNet New Oldham franchise

There is no struggle as Pitbull puts one of the cleaners into a headlock and drags them back to the waiting group.  The other group of creatures seem to ignore this attack and carry on about their business.  They investigative their captive, the skin is cold, pale and puffy, almost greenish and there seems to be an eye missing, a possible cyber implant removed?

The group continue down the corridor, the other creatures go about their business and it is not long before they are faced with a large steel blast door.  LadyKiller announces that the datasphere is back on, it seems GreaseMonkey's tinkerings have done some good.  LadyKiller hacks into the CCTVs beyond the door.  They see some heavily-armed security guards, just on the other side of the door, a lab and a series of holding cells.  One of the cells contains Eddie and also notorious criminal and terrorist, Norman the Nazi.

Norman the Nazi

LadyKiller triggers the door mechanism and it begins to lift, StreetRonin slides underneath the door and with a thrust of her katana, and a crunch and squelch, one of the guards screams and drops to the floor.  The second guard aims their rife at StreetRonin and then falls backwards as a round from Pitbull's cyber-enhanced assault rifle hits him between the eyes.

The group proceed into the area,  They see, lit up like a Christmas tree, the Rover 2000, up some stairs that lead to a podium outside the Car dealership.  Pitbull races up and begins tinkering with the bike.  The rest of the group split, LadyKiller goes into the lab and starts downloading information from whatever hardware she can access.  The remainder of the group goes into the holding cells, freeing Eddie.  She is bruised, battered and semiconscious but will live.  LadyKiller joins them, just in time to see Norman, screaming abuse at the group, threatening and cajoling them to let him out.  LadyKiller grins and jumps into cyberspace, tearing up Norman's virtual defences like confetti and replacing his Avatar of a bulldog with an eye patch, with a rather fetching rendition of Carmen Miranda in a pink tutu... Norman roars his displeasure as they turn to leave.

Norman gets a new Avatar

LadyKiller sprints back into the lab, the download is done, they disconnect.  Then, they pause a signal on the screen in front, a signal from off-world has been received.  Alarms start going off, a computerised voice intones, "Self-Destruct sequence begun, three minutes to achieve safe distance... 2:59... 2:58...

Pitbull's Rover 2000 bursts into life and he roars off through the empty shopping mall, "See ya at the mill!"  the others are already sprinting down the corridor and then up the staircase, they run out of the mausoleum towards the Magic Bus.  StreetRonin is screaming on the comms to Ted, "Get it started and get us out of here and you may just earn your stripes!"

Ted powers the Magic Bus through the car park and on towards the exit, rubble, boxes and debris goes flying as it accelerates, flames are sprouting up from the road behind him.  The ground starts to rumble and as the van smashes through the security gates, a horn is heard to the side as the Rover 2000 appears in Ted's side mirror, Pitbull gives them a fist salute as he overtakes.  

The dark, dusty sky lights up as the shopping centre explodes in a ball of flame, the bus is hit by shock waves as Ted fights to keep it on the road, and then they are free and gliding up the expressway, back to the old steel mill.  

Ted grins from ear to ear and StreetRonin rests a friendly clawed hand on his shoulder.

Goodbye Palace of Dreams


  1. Huge thanks for doing this Jim, you really captured the fun you players had with the adventure :)


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