Friday, April 26, 2013

116: Scale Tree

ENTRY 116: Scale Tree

A dinosaur-skinned pineapple, leathery green-grey scales embossed with buried circuit-patterns. Banned in most habitats, ostensibly because of its addictive properties, Scale Trees are popular in the underground as the gateway to the bloodiest, raunchiest squad-level tactics and combat simulator game in the Solar system. Users are injected into an alternate reality, taking the place of one of a small group under siege in an endless city under a broken dome, fighting each other and a series of waves of alien machines. Outnumbered and outgunned, the players are forced to work together achieve their mission objectives before the petal fades or they die, forcing them to log out of the game. So far, meta-analysis of the game on a strategic level shows that several human teams have not only driven the aliens out of parts of the city, but have used their gates to invade the aliens’ world as a guerrilla force. New weapons, enemies, and locations appear regularly, which is part of what makes the game—and the drug—so addictive.

The actual reason for the banning of scale trees has less to do with the nature of the game than some of the consequences of playing it. Habitual users may not suffer physical damage from the simulated warfare, but develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorders based on their experiences, which become more severe and marked as the user becomes more and more addicted to the game. Further, the highly realistic nature of the game is in part due to the programs tapping into the users’ memories to fill in details, some of which are stored locally in the user’s wetware—memories which can bleed through into their real-world perceptions as terrifying flashbacks where they relive the gruesome combats they have endured.

Scale Tree Mechanics

Addiction Modifier
Addiction Type
2d10 hours

Periods spent under the influence of this petal encourage the development of skills related to squad-level tactics and military professions, such as Academics: Military Science and Profession: Military Ops, and characters receive 2 Rez points that may be spent towards improving such skills for every 50 hours under the influence. Every 10 hours of play, the character gains 1d10 mental stress.


Achievement of mission goals, demonstration of team-work and skills, and certain bloody actions unlock certain sweets for users of scale tree petals.
  • Promotion (subjective, leadership displayed): The user’s squadmates take note of their abilities and informally promote the character to the next rank; a promoted character halves the number of hours needed to gain Rez points from scale tree (25 hours for the 1st promotion, 12.5 hours for the 2nd, etc.). Characters who screw up can also be demoted, which doubles the number of hours needed.
  • Scalphunter (objective, 30+ kills in a single session with trophies taken): The user gains the Brave trait, if they did not have it already, and 1d10 mental stress.
  • No Pacifists In The Trench (objective, Combat Paralysis trait): Users with the Combat Paralysis trait that take a scale tree petal enter into a mild coma for 1d10 days. When they emerge, they no longer have the Combat Paralysis trait. Instead, they have the Modified Behavior (Bloodthirsty, boosted) trait and 1d10 mental stress.


  1. I absolutely love this one. This is a great use of petals, of VR gaming, of sim experience, of addiction, etc. I can see a whole campaign from this. Nice work!