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Hydro Hacker Operatives (H2O) is a game of hydropunk Robin Hoods who steal water from the rich corporations to provide it to their neighborhood. This game is currently in development, and once we have a ready to go ashcan, we will bring the game to Kickstarter. H2O is a Powered by the Apocalypse game, but like many similar games (such as Headspace) it has drifted from the core PbtA system by adding on mechanics for hydro hacking and Neighborhoods.

WORLD     |     CHARACTERS     |     GAME     |     LEARN MORE

 

What Happened To The World?

So here’s the short of it…we fucked up. Not you and I, but the collective “we” known as  humanity. Pretty much since the crying Native American guy, nearly 300 years ago, we have been slowly fucking up the environment, and now in 2265 we are living with the consequences. That’s the thing. Everyone thought that ecological collapse would be some catastrophic disaster, like some stupid movie, but that day never came. We thought we were saving the environment by making small, insignificant wins and patting ourselves on the back, and all the while the corporations continually screwed us. Screwed us all.

Every oil spill, every company illegally dumping waste, every pharmaceutical we dumped into the toilet kept adding up. Eventually, we just hit critical mass and we broke the fucking water cycle. The oceans are now a mix of chemicals and oceanic prions. Groundwater became polluted as we tried to squeeze the last of the fossil fuel out of the ground, and surface water just collected pollutants. When the water cycle broke, the availability of potable water began to drop, and drop fast. When it did, people did what you would expect: armed conflicts, water terrorism, hoarding, riots, etc. Just like the experts, who the corporations spent millions of dollars telling us to ignore, had been telling us all along. It got so bad that governments couldn’t keep things under control, and they sure as hell couldn’t figure out a solution to the problem. They became marginalized, and as they did the corporations stepped right in.

 

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But their short-term solution backfired, as the corporations were embedded too deep. There was no way to remove them from the systems they had taken over. The governments could not provide for their people without the corporations’ assistance. Eventually, this system of dependence reached its natural conclusion: mergers. When it was done, corporations and governments were indistinguishable. The government operates in name only, and everything that happens in the background is run by the corporations.

The most prominent of the corporations is the Water Authority. The Authority, as they are known on the streets, is the most powerful and most ruthless of the corporations. They control the flow of water, and they have the security to make sure the masses do not rise up to take it.

So today we have water handed down to us by the Authority. Most of it is recycled, or what we call green water. It’s for the most part drinkable, killing us slower than dehydration would, but occasionally there are lapses in quality control, leading to outbreaks and sickness. Sometimes something gets really fucked up at the recycling plant and the water goes red…too toxic to use for anything living.

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The plumber makes the water flow from greedy hands to needy hands.

And then there is pristine water, the blue water, the kind that our ancestors could drink freely. The corporations keep that locked away in sealed reservoirs, like the Great Lakes Reservoirs. Some of it is water that they were able to save before the water cycle went bad, and the rest they mine on Mars and Europa and ship back to Earth.

Blue water is too expensive for any regular people to afford. It’s the beverage of the rich, the same ones whose hands are on the spigot. While we test our water, making sure it’s green before we can drink it, there are people who live high in their glass towers who have water you can drink without testing. And here is the truth: they are never going to share it with the poor masses. There isn’t enough, and they don’t give a shit about us. What they choose to share, they let pass through them and into the recycling plants so that it can wind up in our taps.

Meanwhile, the Authority rations out water to every neighborhood, and everyone has a ration card used to turn on any faucet. If you are lucky, you and your neighbors make it to the end of the month with a few drops to spare, but there are times when the system breaks, water becomes contaminated, or the Authority just shorts everyone to make sure that the suits make profit quotas for the quarter.

When that happens, we step in. We are hydropunks. We raid the corporate reservoirs, hijack their tanks, and divert that precious blue water into the dark web of the old municipal water systems, cutting deals with organized criminals to store and launder the water through their reservoirs. We go hydro hacking. There is nothing safe about it. The Authority considers hydro hacking a capital offense and won’t hesitate to make an example out of us. But when your neighbors are counting on you, when a few drops of blue water determine whether your neighborhood remains a friendly community or devolves into desperate scavengers, you can’t worry about the cost.

Water was made to flow. So go make it flow!

 – “Pex”  Renegade Diviner

 

What Do The Characters Do?

Without a Diviner and their drones, finding water stashes is nearly impossible.

Without a Diviner and their drones, finding water stashes is nearly impossible.

In Hydro Hacker Operatives, the characters are a group, living in a Neighborhood, working to help the Neighborhood survive. Characters fill the roles necessary for this with playbooks:

 

  • The Plumber – Carrying the secret skills of plumbing and the knowledge of how the Authority moves water.
  • The Diviner – A scientist who knows how to find and secure drinkable water.
  • The Hacker – Uses their skills to keep the Authority AI’s from detecting Hydro Hacks.
  • The Broker – Makes deals with the Dark Net to secure reservoirs, and knows how to scrounge water when things get desperate.
  • The Neighborhood Watch – Looks out for and protects the neighborhood from outside threats.
  • The Community Activist – Helps the Neighborhood manage their resources and heal from discord and strife.

 

The Characters are all based in a single Neighborhood and help to make sure that it survives and hopefully thrives. When water runs short, they acquire more water. When outside forces threaten their homes, they work to protect where they live.

 

How Does The Game Support That?

  • At the core of the game is the Powered by the Apocalypse system, so all the things you like about moves, advancements, agendas, principles, etc. are in the game.
  • In addition, we have developed a clock-based subsystem, which simulates the flow of water during a hydro hack. Once you have hacked some water, you use a resource-allocation mechanic to maintain and grow your Neighborhood.

 

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The hacker keeps your activities hidden from the authority, hopefully...

The hacker keeps your activities hidden from the authority, hopefully…

 

When Is This Coming Out?

We are currently designing the game and running frequent playtests online and at various gaming conventions. Our goal is to have the rules of the game nearly complete and ready to go so that we can launch a Kickstarter to help defray layout, printing, and art costs. We are firm believers in going to Kickstarter with the game completely designed, then asking for money to enhance the artwork and pay for publishing.

How Do I Learn More?

The Neighborhood Watch protects her community by protecting her hackers.

The Neighborhood Watch protects her community by protecting her hackers.

There are many ways to follow the progress of Hydro Hacker Operatives…