Hej folx! I was part of a TTRPG-Secret Santa for my local gaming club where people volunteer to run oneshots. Being a Secret Santa-type of thing, people who play the game don’t know what they will play and who the GM is before they play. I volunteered to GM some Altered State because that has been on my pile of shame of games I bought but really haven’t played. I am not a big Cyberpunk-guy having only played Shadowrun years ago (which I really don’t like). So this was kind of hard for me. How to do an engaging, fast-moving cool oneshot?

When I write this, all the anxiety is gone of course. I have already GMed the session and people really enjoyed it. This post is only for the community to share my notes with you and talk about something that I was worried about: I started the oneshot in medias res with the PCs running from drones because their heist had failed.
Then I did a flashback scene which established what the heist was about. Cutting back to the failed heist, I let every player come up with a reason why the heist failed and took it from there. Thanks again for @s5photog and FeelinGood Louis from the discord server for giving me some advice.

Anyway, here’s my notes if you want to do some crazy meta-level shit yourself (I put VURT by Jeff Noons and Altered Carbon into a blender):


  • security bot crashes into house wall
  • several bots of the protectorate are on your heels
  • van drives so fast, it’s about to fall apart
  • one of your NPC-companions is hit in the chest, falls out of the van, somersaults and stops moving


  • Don Scabies (Thomas Noon), chihuahua-cyborg smoking a cigarette
  • four cyberdogs guard him
  • Mission: break into oneirovault inside of a high security feather to steal something for Don Scabies*
  • Hoggert’s law of equivalence of waking world and dream world**
  • Don scbaies gives the PCs a blobfish-like dream being


  • PCs establish how the heist failed and where they are in the van (driver, co-driver, gunner)
  • Van has three CHUNKS :heart::heart::heart:
  • Security Bots are a weaker version of the yellow drones in Altered State
  • PCs have to survive for d6 ROUNDS to be able to escape
  • reaching warehouse were Don Scabies and cyber dogs hold the line
  • (optional: d12 ROUNDS to get the thing out of the oneirovault)


  • man with mask stands in front of open and empty vault
  • he is Jeffrey, Thomas’ husband and asks the PCs what they are doing here
  • he will tell the players that Thomas wants the PCs to get him back into the real world
  • he refuses and vomits out some cyber spiders that attack the players
  • Jeffrey’s first form: :heart:, +4 to all checks and BASIC
  • Jeffrey’s second form: :heart::heart:, +6 to all checks, AUGMENTED
  • Jeffrey’s third form: :heart::heart::heart::heart:, +8 to all checks and AUGMENTED, tentacles: CON or assimilated in 1 ROUND.


  • if the players either die fighting Jeffrey or defeat him, they awake strapped to a couch in a surgery room
  • Cyborg surgeon and tired-looking police men greet them
  • PCs get coffee in styrofoam cups and thanks for participating in the experiment
  • outside the laboratory rain drizzles, neon lights glare, headache

What does the GM need to know to run this oneshot:


The oneshot plays with the ideas of multiple levels of reality. The players think that they are trying to steal something for Don Scabies and that the reality they are in is the actual world, while in reality they are in a simulation as part of an experiment to improve the security AI of the oneirovault. Introducing the oneirovault in the simulation focuses the player’s attention on the oneirovault being part of some high-technology dream world, when in reality the oneirovault is a dream world within a simulation the players take to be real world.

*this is the “lore dump”-part of the oneshot. It doesn’t matter if the players are a bit confused as long as they understand the main point, which is: there is a technology that makes it possible to store dream worlds on feathers. Some of these feathers can be consumed like drugs and make it possible to dream of whatever is stored on the feather (if you know VURT, you know what I mean. If you don’t, you should read it). Other feathers are used to store separate dream worlds that function as security vaults for information that should not be accessible to the public.
**Hoggert’s law is basically Hobart’s law from VURT: if something is taken out of a dream world, something of equal value has to be left behind, which is why Don Scabies gives a dream being to the players


Not familiar with the novels you referenced, but the session sounds really cool. Just getting into ICRPG, did you reduce the chunks.hearts for the dream world? Jeffery seems light on health to me, but I have only read the core rules once.


VURT is a really weird British cyberpunk-novel by Jeffrey Noon from the 90s.
The idea is basically that people have found a technology to coat feathers with a type of substance that makes it able to store complete dream worlds on them. Those feathers come in different colours for different types of dreams (some of them legal, some of them illegal), but are also used by the police for storing sensitive data in those feather dream worlds. Weird shit, highly recommend reading it.

As for the CHUNKS of the van or any of the hearts: I did not change them when changing from one world to the other. Jeffrey is a bit light on health in Altered State-terms, but that’s okay, since the outcome of the fight only influences how the cyborg surgeon and the tired cops will react. You could alsways change the stats though and make every one of his phases even tougher.
If the party dies when fighting Jeffrey: “Thank you for confirming that our security measures as they are, a sufficient to deal with imminent threats.”
If the party defeats all three forms of Jeffrey: “Thank you for confirming that our security measures need to be updated and reinforcements need to be put in place.”


Seeing the title, I thought this might be inspired by Transmetropolitan, but it appears to be much more surreal. Glad it worked for your players, and for you as a GM (I don’t think I get it, other than feathers are VR data storage, I guess?).


When I first thought about the one-shot I wanted to get some Transmetropolitan in there, but the title is the only bit that made it into this version.
My first idea was a sort of heist, where the PCs enter a dream world and steal a cryogenically frozen head for their client (for the client to simply smash the head when they get it; I think Spider Jerusalem did something like that in one of the comics).

Maybe the idea is too heavily dependent on VURT. :sweat_smile:
It’s a bit like Inception but with different types of realities that have different types of causes.
There’s virtual reality that can simulate a world without you realising that you are in a simulation (think Altered Carbon).
Then there are those feathers that can be consumed and which create a dream world that temporarily replaces your world but is more akin to some type of lucid dreaming.
The players start in a simulated reality without knowing that they are in a simulated reality. Within that simulated reality they enter a dream world to steal something.
And in the end they awake in the actual world learning that everything they did up to that point was a simulation.


I just added VURT to my amazon Wishlist. Hopefully pick it up next week.

Ya, the chunks aspect is real fuzzy for me having not played the system yet. I am recruiting players now for a one shot. I want run the intro adventure that Hank published.


CHUNKS are basically HEARTS but for vehicles. Every CHUNK can also tied to a specific function of the vehicle.
I always think of Chrono Trigger and the Dragon Tank-boss fight. The tank has three parts: a head, a body and wheels. The head can heal the tank and shoot fire. The body shoots missiles and lasers. The wheels can charge up and ram you.

In ICRPG-terms head, body and wheels would be separate CHUNKS. When they are destroyed the function that is tied to them doesn’t work anymore. That’s why in Chrono Trigger you destroy the head first to stop the tank from healing. :wink:

@KaneDriscol also has a video that goes in-depth on CHUNKS and constructing vehicles with them: