Friday, 31 January 2014

Solo Traveller - Episode 14, part 2: Dulce et decorum (9Qs #5, continued)

Dimmul/Foreven (2936 C587A7A-C) / Date: 268-1106

• roll a d6 twice for an encounter featuring: (1) betrayal, (5) combat.

Here is the combat.

The Map:

Since the large scale conflict system is a bit abstract, the map really only serves to indicate relative positions of the units. It is divided into three deployment zones for each side: Support, Reserve, and Front Line (since the friendly forces never retreated into their support zone, I have truncated the map on their side in the pictures).

Setup:

Republic of Erhai forces
Command platoon
Strength 10
Rating 3 (Skill 1)
Morale 7
TL 12
Artillery company
Strength 4
Rating 4 (Skill 2)
Morale 9
TL 12
Infantry platoon
Strength 40
Rating 3 (Skill 1)
Morale 7
TL 12
Vehicle platoon A
Strength 4
Rating 3 (Skill 1)
Morale 7
TL 12
Infantry company
Strength 100
Rating 2 (Skill 0)
Morale 7
TL 12
Vehicle platoon B
Strength 4
Rating 2 (Skill 0)
Morale 6
TL 12


Ilparan forces
command squad
Strength 8
Rating 3 (Skill 1)
Morale 6
TL 12
vehicle platoon (green)
Strength 4
Rating 4(Skill 2)
Morale 8
TL 12
infantry platoon (red)
Strength 40
Rating 4 (Skill 2)
Morale 8
TL 12
vehicle platoon (yellow)
Strength 4
Rating 3 (Skill 1)
Morale 7
TL 12
infantry platoon (blue)
Strength 40
Rating 3 (Skill 1)
Morale 7
TL 12


Imperial marines
command fire team
Strength 5
Rating 5 (Skill 4)
Morale 9
TL 15
heavy infantry fire team
Strength 5
Rating 5 (Skill 3)
Morale 9
TL 15
infantry squad
Strength 20
Rating 4 (Skill 2)
Morale 9
TL 15


At the start of the scenerio, most of the friendly forces (the Ilparan army troops and their advisors from the Imperial Marines 329th Engineering Corps) are in a frontier base, which is the Reserve section of the map. Only the Ilparan Blue infantry platoon is away from the base, patrolling the area which will become their Front Line in this skirmish.

The enemy (units from the Republic of Erhai's army) have been slowly advancing into the disputed zone. The bulk of their forces therefore start far to the rear (in their support zone). The artillery company, proteced by some tanks (Vehicle platoon B) have taken up an advance position in the Reserve zone.

The Erhaian command unit has a Leadership skill of 1, so will get at least one command action per turn. The Ilparan commanders also have Leadership 1, but the Imperial command is designated as a secondary command unit, and will always provide one bonus command action (which will obviously be used to move Imperial troops).

Note:

It will probably become obvious that I'm not a war gamer. I've also never used this system before, so this was as much a learning exersize as anything else. Looking back, I notice it was a definite tactical mistake for the enemy artillery to be anywhere other than in their Support zone. I totally just guessed on the composition of the two sides, but that seemed to come out about right. The Imperial troops 3 tech level (TL 15 vs. 12) advantage was even scarier than I imagined.



Surprise round

command phase

A traitor in the Ilparan camp has transmitted targetting information to the enemy artillery. They initiate the battle by shelling the Ilparan base with chemical rounds.

action phase
For artillery to attack infantry, they need 7+. They roll 12 +2 skill +2 range = 16; hit with effect 9.
Damage is 9 (effect) +4 (unit size) +15 (modifier vs. infantry) = 28 damage

The red platoon reduced to str 12.

morale phase

The red platoon loses 2 points of morale (-1 for being attacked, -1 for being reduced to half strength), reducing it to 6.

withdrawal phase (optional)
No one is withdrawing. I'm not going to record this phase for the rest of the battle unless it is used.





round 1

The battle now begins in earnest.

command phase

The enemy rolls a Leadership check 10+1=11; Effect 3 + Tactics 1 = 4 actions this round. They issue the following orders:
-vehicle platoon B to attack blue infantry platoon
-infantry platoon to advance to Reserve Zone
-forward observers to spot for the artillery (an artillery unit requires 2 actions in order to attack)
-artillery to continue shelling the red infantry platoon

The friendly commanders roll a 6 +1 (skill) +1 (bonus for being in Reserve zone) for their Leadership check. Zero effect results in 1 action + 1 bonus action for the secondary command unit. Orders:
-Imperial heavy infantry to attack vehicle platoon B
-yellow vehicle platoon to advance to Front Line

action phase

The actions alternate, starting with the side with the most actions. A unit may only take 2 actions per round, and any unit taking a second action must wait until all first actions have been taken. So--

Vehicle platoon B attacks Blue infantry platoon
rolls 10 +0 (skill) +2 (range) = 12. They need 8+, so hit with effect 4.
Damage is 4 (effect) +3 (unit size) +5 (modifier for vehicle vs. infantry)=12. Blue Infantry platoon is reduced to strength 28.

Imperial Heavy Infantry attack Vehicle Platoon B
roll 10 +3 skill +0 range (need 9+): hits, with effect 4
4 effect +3 difference in TL +1 size -1 hvy. infantry vs. vehicles =7. Platoon B is destroyed by FGMPs.

Enenmy infantry platoon advances to their Reserve Zone.

Yellow vehicle platoon advances to the Front Line.

Artillery continue shelling the Red Infantry Platoon with chemical rounds.
attack roll is 6 +1 skill +2 range=9
damage 2 effect +4 size +15 artillery vs. infantry =21. Red Infantry platoon destroyed.


morale phase
(I found it was definitely best to keep track of morale changes as they occurred rather than in one fell bookkeeping phase. But, to summarise:)
Blue Infantry platoon was attacked, so -1 morale.
The Artillery and the Heavy Infantry both destroyed enemy units, so +2 each.
Being in the same zone as a destroyed allied unit is worth -1 morale. This was applied to the enemy's Artillery company, and the friendly Green Vehicle platoon, Command, and all three Imperial units.




round 2

command phase

The enemy rolls a 3 for their Leader check. Only 1 action this round.
-Infantry company to advance to Reserve zone

The friendly command rolls a 5: 1 action +1 bonus action for secondary command unit.
-Imperial Heavy Infantry to advance to Front Line, then
-attack Artillery

action phase

Both sides advance.

Heavy Infantry attacks Artillery
roll 3 +3 skill +2 range=8. need 8+, so hit with Effect 0.
Damage: 0 +3 TL +1 size +0 vs.artillery =4. Destroyed!


morale phase

The enemy Infantry Platoon and Infantry Company both suffer -1 morale for shaing a deployment zone with the allied Artillery unit when it was destroyed.
The Heavy Infantry fire team gains +2 morale for destroying it.





round 3

command phase

The enemy rolls Leadership, 8+1 = 2 actions.
-Infantry company to attack Heavy Infantry
-Infantry platoon to attack Blue Infantry platoon

The friendly command rolls a 5 again: 1 action +1 bonus action for secondary command unit.
-Heavy Infantry to attack Infantry company
-Yellow Vehicle platoon to attack Infantry company

action phase

Infantry company attacks Heavy Infantry
roll 12 +0 skill -1 range =11. Hits, Effect 2
damage: 2 effect +4 size -3 inferior TL -2 mod = only 1 damage. Heavy Infantry is reduced to 4 Strength.

Heavy Infantry counterattacks Infantry company
roll 6 +3 skill +2 range =11. Hits, Effect 4
damage 4 effect +1 size +3 TL +4 mod =12. Infantry company reduced to Strength 88.

Infantry platoon attacks Blue Infantry platoon
roll 4 +1skil -1 range =4. No damage is inflicted (but morale penalty for being attacked will still apply.)

Yellow Vehicle platoon attacks Infantry company
roll 7 +1skill +2 range =9. Hits, Effect 2
damage 2 effect +3 size +5 mod =10. Infantry company further reduced to 78 strength.

morale phase

Heavy Infantry, Infantry company, and Blue Infantry platoon all suffer -1morale for being attacked this round.




round 4

command phase

enemy roll 11+1 for Leadership check:  4 actions
-Infantry company to advance to Front Line
-Infantry company to attack Heavy Infantry
-vehicle platoon A to advance to Reserve zone
-vehicle platoon A to attack Yellow vehicle platoon

friendly roll 5+1+1: 1 action +1 bonus action
-Green vehicle platoon to advance to Front Line
-Green vehicle platoon to attack Infantry company


action phase

Infantry company and Green vehicle platoon advance.

Infantry company attacks Heavy Infantry
roll 3 +0 skill +1 range =4: miss

Green vehicle platoon attacks Infantry company
roll 7 +2 skill +0 range =9. Hits, Effect 1
damage 1 +3size +5 mod =8. Infantry company reduced to Str 70.

vehicle platoon A advances to Reserve zone.

vehicle platoon A attacks Yellow vehicle platoon
roll 9 +1skill +2 range = hit, 3 effect
damage 3 +3size -1 mod = 5 damage. Destroyed!

morale phase

The Heavy Infantry and the Infantry Company both take -1 to morale for being attacked.
The Heavy Infantry, blue Infantry platoon, and Green Vehicle platoon shared a deployment zone with the Yellow Vehicle Platoon when it was destroyed, so suffer -1 for that.






round 5

command phase

enemy rolls 11+1, getting 4 actions
-Vehicle Platoon A to attack Blue Infantry platoon
-Vehicle Platoon A to attack Heavy Infantry
-Infantry Company to attack Heavy Infantry
-Infantry Company to attack Command

friendly Leadership roll is also 11+1, getting 4 actions +1 bonus
-Heavy Infantry to attack Command
-Heavy Infantry to attack Infantry Company
-Green Vehicle Platoon to attack Infantry Company
-Blue Infantry platoon to attack vehicle platoon A
-Imperial Infantry squad to advance to Front Line

action phase

Heavy Infantry attack enemy Command
roll 8 +3 skill +0 range= hit, Effect 2
damage 2 +3 TL +1 size +2 mod =8 Command is reduced to 2 Strength.

Vehicle Platoon A attacks Blue Infantry platoon
roll 9 +1 skill +2 range = hit, Effect 4
damage 4 +4 size +5 mod =13. Reduced to 15 strength

Heavy Infantry attack Infantry Company
roll 10 +3 skill +1 range =14. hits, Effect 7
damage 7 +1 size +3 TL +4 mod =15. Infantry Company reduced to 55 strength.

Vehicle Platoon A attacks Heavy Infantry
roll 5 +1 skill +2 range. just hits, 0 Effect
damage 0 +4size +2 mod -3 TL =3dmg. Heavy Infantry reduced to a single soldier (Str 1)

Green Vehicle Platoon attacks Infantry Company
roll 6 +2 skill +0 range = just hits, 0 Effect
damage 0 +4siz +5 mod = 9. reduced to 46 str

Infantry Company just make their morale roll, and attack the Heavy Infantry
roll 11 +0skill +1 range= hit, 3 Effect
damage 3 +4 size -3 TL -2 mod =2. The last of the Heavy Infantry falls.

Blue Infantry platoon fail their morale (so do not attack vehicle platoon A)

Infantry Company, despite having defeated the Imperial Marines in artillery battle dress, fail their morale check and do not attack the Ilparan Command as ordered.


morale phase

This round the enemy Command, Infantry Company, and the Blue Infantry platoon were all attacked (-1) and reduced to less than half strength (additional -1).
The Infantry Company earned back all of it with a +2 for destroying an enemy unit.
The Blue Infantry platoon suffered an additional -1 for sharing a zone with the Heavy Infantry when they were destroyed.
The Green Vehicle platoon also suffered -1 for being in that zone.




round 6

command phase

enemy Leadership check is 12+1: 5 actions
-Vehicle Platoon A to attack Blue Infantry platoon
-Vehicle Platoon A to attack Green Vehicle platoon
-Infantry Company to attack Command
-Infantry Company to attack Imperial Infantry squad
-Infantry Platoon to attack Green Vehicle platoon

friendly roll 7+1: 1 action +1 bonus
-Imperial Infantry squad to attack Infantry Company
-Green Vehicle platoon to attack Vehicle Platoon A

action phase

Vehicle Platoon A attacks Blue Infantry platoon
attack roll of 4 does no damage, but will inflict enough of a morale loss to rout the unit in the morale phase

Imperial Infantry squad attacks Infantry Company
roll 9 +2 skill +1 range = hit, 4 Effect
damage 4 +3 TL +0 mod +2 size = 9dmg, reduced to 37

Vehicle Platoon A attacks Green Vehicle platoon
roll 10 +1skill +0 range = hit, 2 Effect
damage 2 +3 size -1 mod = 4dmg. Destroyed!

Green Vehicle platoon would have gone next, but is no longer.

Infantry Company attacks Ilparan Command
roll 9 +0 skill -1 range = miss (needed 9+)

Infantry Company attack the Imperial Infantry squad
roll 9 +0 skill +1 range = hit, 2 Effect
damage 2 +4 size +0 mod -3 TL = 3 damage, reding them to Str 17.

The Infantry Platoon was to attack the Green Vehicle platoon, but lose their action as their target has already been destroyed.



morale phase

Ilparan Command lose -1 for being attacked, even though no damage was taken. The Infantry Company also take -1 for being attacked.
The Blue Infantry platoon take -1 for being attacked, which routs the unit.
For being in the same zone when their ally routs, the Imperial Infantry squad suffers -1 morale. They suffer -1 for having been attacked as well.
Vehicle Platoon A receives +1 for routing an enemy unit, +2 more for destroying one.
Being inthe same zone as a destroyed ally causes the Imperial Infantry to take another -1.



withdrawal phase

Neither side is in particularly good shape. The Ilparan army has been all but eliminated. Force Commander Hinniter was instructed not to draw the Imperium into a war on Dimmul, so she orders her troops not to press the attack. The Republic of Erhai similarly does not want to antagonise the Imperium, and there's a chance that their forces remaining on this battlefield are just too technologically inferior to defeat the Imperial marines.

Both sides withdraw.

all withdraw


Thursday, 30 January 2014

Solo Traveller - Episode 14, part 1: Wars and Rumours of Wars (9Qs #5)

Dimmul/Foreven (2936 C587A7A-C) / Date: 262-1106

After a few days at the embassy, Eshtam and Lt. Gytovo are ferried up into orbit to rendez-vous with Force Commander Hinniter and her soldiers from the 329th Engineering Corps, who are being dropped off in style by a TL15 50000ton Ghalalk-class armoured cruiser. They receive a warm welcome from Commander Darus, but are very cooly received by Hinniter and her unit. Darus gives them a summary briefing (mostly for the Force Commander's benefit) and supplies Eshtam with a TL15 secure-channel radio transceiver. Both are then outfitted to match the Unit: TL14 combat armour, gauss rifles, gauss pistol sidearms.

Four cutters transport the unit to the surface, one for personnel, three for heavy equipment. The destination is Fort Lishet, a small outpost in the disputed zone between Ilpara and the two Gerhai nations. The terrain is some of the worst on Dimmul, rocky desert pockmarked with boiling volcanic springs. About 200 members of the Ilparan army are stationed at Fort Lishet, a mix of infantry and light armoured vehicle platoons. The fort itself is just a collection of temporary sheet-metal and plasteel structures, ringed by a perimeter fence of razor wire and passive motion sensors.

The Imperial troops are ostensibly here to help shore up the fort's defences and familiarise the Ilparans with some of the new TL14 equipment they have imported. Fort Lishet will eventually be expanded to provide security for the planned refinery to be built over the natural gas field nearby. The Ilparans are generally pleased to be receiving Imperial support, and are frankly in awe of their equipment. The Imperial marines were hand-picked for this assignment. They recognise that it's more of a diplomatic mission than a technical one, and adopt a generally avuncular attitude towards their hosts. They are much more aloof towards Lt. Gytovo and Eshtam. The Imperial troops sense their COs distrust of the pair and keep them at a distance, and the Ilparan troops follow suit.

The heat and scent of sulphur on the breeze are oppressive, but Eshtam spends most of her time in the comfort of the Imperial command tent (so-called, though it's really more of a portable plasteel bunker), which is nicely air-conditioned for the sake of the electronics. Hinniter has given her a table in the corner, filled with communications devices, and she spends her days doing SIGINT. Hinniter has reluctantly assigned two of her own personnel to assist, so the chatter can be monitored all 25.4 standard hours per day. Lt. Gytovo despairs of being shunned by the other marines, and eventually starts sharing listening shifts with Eshtam. The majority of the transmissions they intercept are dirty jokes and gravball scores, with the occasional unimportant order or status report to break the monotony.

[As a baseline, it's a Difficult comms check to unscramble an important communiqué.

Q: Does Ladver use higher a tech comm unit to contact Allies than is available on Dimmul? (Likely | 4[d10]) No.

So, Eshtam's comm roll 10+3+3(TL15vs.12) =16: Effect=6, Exceptional Success! She gets useful information about the scale and nature of Ladver's plot and pinpoints a location where a lot of the signals are coming from.]

Q5. How can any heroic gains from the results of Q4 suddenly be undermined as new information about the true face/scheme/power of the enemy becomes known?

Be the GM first:
• Use the random idea generator to inspire an evolution of the threats by more clearly defining the source of the danger and developing its hostility to the heroes and/or the setting. (I rolled twice:)

Triumph / Investment. - Ladver's scheme is working. He's got wars about to start between the three nations and their allies are ready to step in. The scope of the plot is (near-)total world war to destabilise the planet so a former colony (on a minor planet in the system) can seize control of mainworld once the major powers have worn themselves out fighting each other.

Angrily / Aromatic. - chemical warfare.

• roll a d6 twice for an encounter featuring: (1) betrayal, (5) combat. Actually, the other option would have been Revelation, and there needed to be a bit of that too (as seen above) to move the story along. I fear I'm beginning to chafe under the structured nature of the 9Qs format. But I'm still enjoying the adventure.

• Choose or use the random idea generator to inspire the place where and when the
encounter will occur. The place and time do not have to be the same as in Q4.

Primitive badlands.
Military headquarters.

Be the PCs next: Use the heroes' abilities to respond to the threats as per their heroic motivation and the RPG's rules.

Be the GM once more: Close the encounter by resolving NPC reactions to the heroes.

The PC/GM portions are going to have to be intermingled...]

Eshtam and Lt. Gytovo step outside of the command tent for a break. They wander aimlessly through the camp, enjoying the warmth for the few minutes before it becomes unbearable, talking idly whilst they walk.

"I think I'm starting to see Ladver's game," says the Lieutenant. "How much longer do we have to stay here before we move out?"

"Dunno," replies Eshtam. "It partly depends on what Commander Darus gets out of the Ilparan leaders. As he's ever so fond of reminding us, it's still his show. Gotta respect the chain of command... sir."

"I thought you hated playing soldier? The uniform growing on you, Corporal?"

"It beats wearing heels and makeup 10 hours a day."

"Oh, but I miss the smell of that perfume you found. What was it called, eau de salope?"

Eshtam's reply is cut short by the sounds of incoming artillery fire, followed by explosions, screams, and the smell of nerve gas.

[King Ladver has an agent somewhere in the camp. They've put a targeting device in the mess tent, and activated it during one of the two Ilparan infantry platoons' lunch period. The shelling is centred on the mess tent, but stray shells fall all over the camp.

Q: Are Eshtam and Lt. Gytovo near their combat armour when shells drop? (Very Unlikely | 4[d10]) No.
Q: can they get to it at all? (Unlikely | 1[d10]) No, and... they can't get to their Gauss rifles either.
Q: Can they make it to a sealed vehicle? (50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but... 1d6 END poison damage: Eshtam takes 1, Lt. Gytovo 3
Q: Can they get to one of the Imperial grav carriers? (50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but... Ilparan AFV (Tracked) TL12
Q: Is anyone else inside? (Somewhat Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and... driver & gunner are present + (1d6-1 others) 1 soldier.
Q: Are any of them injured? (50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes. (1d3) 2 of them take 1d6 END damage each]

Chaos descends upon the camp, which is soon shrouded in a gruesome yellow haze. More conventional munitions follow the chemical agents, adding to the din of shouting and engines starting up. Eshtam and Lieutenant Gytovo are caught out in the midst of the affray, and duck in to the nearest available shelter, which happens to be an Armoured Fighting Vehicle belonging to the Ilparan army. They are ushered inside by one of the vehicle's crew, who seals the door behind them. They fall to the deck, followed by the woman who led them in, coughing from their brief exposure to the gas. There is an Ilparan infantry trooper in full combat armour also lying on the deck, doubled over in pain. The driver swivels round in her seat and looks down at the rest. She winces as a shell goes off nearby, and debris plinks down on the armoured roof. "What do we do now?" she asks.

Lieutenant Gytovo quickly looks up and notes the insignia worn by the three women; he's the ranking officer here. He forces himself to his feet. "Drive," he says, "just drive. Get us out of the camp and away from the shelling."

[Lt. Gytovo makes two Leadership checks.
To rally troops: Ldr+Soc, difficult. He rolls 11+1 -2, success.
To order them to flee: Ldr+Soc, average. rolls 8+1, success.

Q: Can the party get out of the war zone undetected? (Unlikely | 2[d10]) No.
Q: Encounter with enemy troops? (Very Likely | 3[d10]) No.]

The driver turns back in her seat and starts the AFV without a word. Within seconds the tank-like vehicle is speeding through the camp. She doesn't even steer towards a gate, just crashing straight through the perimeter fence. Suddenly a voice is heard over the comm. "Green 26, where are you going? Green 26, respond!"

"That's us Lieutenant," says the driver "Orders?"

Lt. Gytovo glances in Eshtam's direction for advice. "Change of plans," she croaks.

"Just turn that thing off and keep going!" he says.

Eshtam tries to contact FC Hinniter on a secure channel using her own comm unit. [Easy comms check: 4+3=success] She gets Hinniter's aide de camp, who refuses to hand the comm over.

"Dammit," shouts Eshtam, "tell your boss this is grey squad, priority Black-sigma. We're commandeering an Ilparan vehicle and crew, and are pursuing the mission on our own from now on. Quickly!" [Hinniter's reaction roll: 10, responsive]

After a few moments comes the reply: "Acknowledged, grey squad. Force Commander Hinniter says good luck and good riddance!"

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

LotFP solo - Part the Fourth: "...too mad / Was the attempt, and yet more mad were now / Repentance of the irrevocable deed"

"What luck," said Neldir, his words echoing in the dank cave, "that I ran across the three of you that night near C-. Not many elves come out this far from our forest. Yes, quite a stroke of luck indeed. I had thought I'd have to settle for human... ah, helpers. No, it's going to work much better this way."

The three elves -- gagged, bound, and trussed -- could only look on in horror as Neldir traced the magic circles on the cave floor.





Scene 4

chaos 4

Setup: Interrupt (was: set off to ruin after thieves) Remote Event: Attract/Evil (Neldir summons a demon to track the party)

characters: Neldir, the Elders of the Elven Forest, Eril the Vampire, Ranwitha the Pious Merchant, thieves, Siorighan MU12, summoned demon

threads: find Neldir & the book
get item for Vampire
track down thieves
pay thieves' debt to get crown


Scene 5

chaos 5

Setup: (unaltered) set off to ruin after thieves

characters: Neldir, the Elders of the Elven Forest, Eril the Vampire, Ranwitha the Pious Merchant, thieves, Siorighan MU12, summoned demon

threads: find Neldir & the book
get item for Vampire
track down thieves
pay thieves' debt to get crown

day 8.

The PCs set off to the south, fully rested and with plenty of provisions. No encounters.

day 9.

The party manages to get lost, travelling SE instead of S-SE to avoid the hills. A hawk flies overhead, but otherwise the day passes without incident.

day 10.

Encounter in the grassland: a Lion (normally, I'd have re-rolled this, but as a lion was emntioned in the last rumour...)

Both surprised, encounter distance 140', reaction = 4, unfriendly.

The elves try to evade, but cannot. The lion gradually closes to within 60'.

Miolla, Théscine, Benyithelnol and Debinvarr try to frighten it off by shooting it with their bows. All of them hit except Debinvarr. Damage rolls are 3+1+1= 5 damage, which only angers the beast. It rushes to attack.

The lion savages Caerndíl with tooth and claw (damage 11, reduced to -3hp), mortally wounding him.
Oighonlaer misses, but Firdeth (14+1, 8 damage) and Lycinia (13+2, 4 damage) seriously wound the beast.

Yet (round 2, morale check succeeds) it fights on. Oighonlaer drives his spear into the great cat's flank, and it falls (with 0hp). Firdeth delivers the coup de grâce.

Oighonlaer rushes to Caerndíl's aid with the healing salve. Three applications heal 7 total damage, bringing him back up to 4hp.

That night as the elves are camping in the hills, a band of 6 brigands notice their campfire and approach with nefarious intent. Fortunately Debinvarr and Lycinia see the glint of their weapons in the moonlight, and rouse their friends to action. [encounter-hills (night): 6 brigands. no surprise, reaction =3, unfriendly.
Q: Do they attempt to frighten off the party? Likely: 06, Exceptional Yes.]

Brigands:
CHA CON DEX INT STR WIS HP AC
12   6  11   9   8   4   3 15
11   8  10  14   8   7   5 15
 9  13   6  13  14   9   7 13
 9  12   7   5  10  12   6 13
 9  11  13   7  10   6   2 16
 9   7   9  14  12  11   5 15
All 0-level fighters with leather & shield, short sword, short bow


The Brigands are no match for the elves. The battle is quick and bloody; only one brigand escapes with her life (fails morale at the start of the 3rd round and flees). Of the elves, only Benyitholnel was wounded, but it was enough to nearly do him in (down to -1hp). Three applications of healing salve cure nearly all his injuries (back to 3 of 4 hp).

day 11.

The next day after six hours travel they arrive at the ruins, where they find...



Scene 6

Chaos: 6

Setup: Roll of 1 agianst Chaos factor indicates an altered scene. The PCs were going to set up camp and explore the surface area of the ruined monestary.

Alteration: Event Focus - NPC action. Who? - Thieves. Event Meaning - Haggle Opposition. The thieves are in their camp when the party arrives. They will try to get the PCs to help them.

characters: Neldir, the Elders of the Elven Forest, Eril the Vampire, Ranwitha the Pious Merchant, thieves, Siorighan MU12, summoned demon

threads: find Neldir & the book
get item for Vampire
track down thieves
pay thieves' debt to get crown


day 11. Above ground, the ruined monastery is just a jumble of toppled columns and crumbling walls. Three tents are visible, pitched against one of the larger walls still standing. A young man in tattered leather armour sits outside the tents over a cooking fire. He grabs a shortsword and stands as he notices the elves approach, though it's clear he hasn't much fight left in him.

Oighonlaer whispers for his companions to hang back. He lays his spear on the ground and approaches the man slowly, with open hands. "Friend," says he, "you've no need of weapons. We are here to help."

After a few moments hesitation, the man lets the sword drop weakly from his fingers, then sinks to his knees, weeping. The elves approach and bid him good courage. Debinvarr offers him a drink from his waterskin.

Just then a woman stumbles from one of the tents, leaning on a broken spear. Her simple travelling clothes are stained with blood, she has her left arm in a sling, and there is some sort of gangrenous infection spreading from her left shoulder upwards towards her face.

After some awkward introductions and allaying of suspicions, all are gathered around the fire. The sick woman, a fledgling wizard named Aldira, tells the following tale:

"There were six of us, headstrong all and in search of fortune and glory. How we got tangled up with that sorceress, Siorighan, I'll never really understand. But in the end we had amassed a terrible debt, owing 3500 silvers to the Duc de Val d'Oine, borrowed for a scheme that... well, that didn't go to plan. We had nothing with which to pay him, and it looked as though we were going to end up in his dungeons. Siorighan stepped in, and offered to pay the debt for us, provided that we give her the proper assurance that we would indeed repay her: and by that she meant accept her geas.

"And so the longer it takes, the more desperate we are to find the money. Finally, things got so bad that we let Fr. Biölning talk us into stealing a holy relic. He is -- or was -- a priest of the mighty storm god from across the sea, so it wasn't blasphemy against his own gods, he said. But the gods have surely cursed us for our sacrilege. And the crown was a fake as well! So we came here, hoping for plunder.

"Disaster has followed disaster. We have found very little treasure. Una, Biölning, and Nell are dead. Yrene and I are dying. And still we can think of nothing but another foray into the crypts. Do you truly mean to help us?"

---

I generated the NPC party according to the D&D Basic rulebook, again replacing Elves and Halflings with 0-level fighters to suit the setting. There were (1d4+4=) six of them ; the first (1d6=3) three being injured, the rest dead. The injured ones each got 1d10 damage, and made a saving throw vs. poison to see if they were diseased from fighting a certain monster (more on this in a later post).


1. Aldira, f, Magic-User 3, CH12 CN13 DX10 IN16 ST9 WI6 HP4/13, diseased
2. Tibalt, m, Fighter 0, CH8 CN8 DX12 IN12 ST17 WI13 HP1/3 (henchman of deceased cleric)
3. Yrene, f, Specialist 3, CH12 CN9 DX8 IN10 ST13 WI9 5/13, diseased

dead:
4. Una, M-U3, f (on dungeon level 2)
5. Fr. Biölning, C3, m (recovered/buried)
6. Penelope, Ftr0, f (on dungeon level 1)

I put an X in two random squares on the graph paper that will become the dungeon map to indicate where the two missing thieves (Nell & Una) fell.

They all have mundane equipment, and each get treasure type U & V. I rolled shite for their treasure:

Treasure Type V (HC VII)
1. No treasure.
2. EP: 2
3. No treasure.
4. (SP: 21)
5. EP: 10
6. No treasure.

Treasure Type U (HC VI)
1. No treasure.
2. CP: 12
3. CP: 58
4. (CP: 34)
5. No treasure.
6. (CP: 91)

Nothing useful to give, but they have extra food in the camp. Una also may or may not have a spellbook, should her body be discovered.





Monday, 27 January 2014

LotFP solo - Part the Third: „Es fängt schon an zu tagen, / Der Kampf ist nicht mehr weit!“

"I'm not sure this is something we're meant to be involved in," said Oighonlaer to his companions as they hurried north through the forest.

"I think Eril is nice," replied Miolla. "Not like the other humans."

"What about the Merchant?" asked Caerindíl, "She gave us all this food for--"

"I don't trust any of them," interjected Benyithelnol derisively. "That vampire had better have some useful information to trade for the crown, or she'll be sorry!"


Scene 3

chaos 3

Setup: unmodified - set out towards Castle Vyljusz on trail of thieves

characters: Neldir, the Elders of the Elven Forest, Eril the Vampire, Ranwitha the Pious Merchant, thieves

threads: find Neldir & the book
get item for Vampire
track down thieves




The party's route is shown in purple, the thieves' in yellow. The slight colour changes mark the beginning of the second day's travel. The thieves are a day ahead, so were not overtaken.

The red X marks the site of a random wilderness encounter, which became the party's first combat.

day 5.

Whilst making a forced march northwards, the PCs meet 5 unwholesome-looking toughs in a clearing. [random encounter: NPC party, rolled up according to the Basic rulebook, equipped according to the d30 Companion. Gender=1,3,2,2,3; all male. Reaction = 2: hostile] The toughs take one look at the elves stepping into the clearing, and wordlessly draw their weapons. The battle is joined!

I have an excel spreadsheet that rolls stats by the dozen, so:

          CHA CON DEX INT STR WIS
Dwarf      11  13  14   6  13   8
Cleric      4   7  10   8  11  12
Fighter A   8   8   7  12  15  13
Fighter B  10  15  11  10   8   8
Fighter C  10   7   9  14  14  12


Dwarf, D1, leather & shield, warhammer, HP 10, AC 16, Att +2, Dmg 1d8+1
Cleric, C2, chainmail, light mace, HP 5, AC 17, Att +1, Dmg 1d6, Spells- Command, Turn Undead
Fighter A, F2, leather, great axe, HP 7, AC 13, Att +3, Dmg 1d10
Fighter B, F1, leather, longsword, HP 6, AC 14, Att +2, Dmg 1d8
Fighter C, F1, chainmail & shield, broadsword, HP 5, AC 17, Att +3, Dmg 1d8+1

There's no surprise. I rolled individual initiative. This is the first combat, so I recorded it a little more exactingly than I (probably) will in the future.

round 1

6
Caerindíl attacks the Dwarf, rolls 5+1, miss.
5
Fighter A attacks Lycinia, rolls 1+3, swinging his greataxe several feet short of his intended target.
Fighter B attacks Debinvarr, 6+3, faring little better than his compatriot.
Fighter C attacks Miolla, 11+3; she deftly sidesteps the blow.
4
Benyithelnol attacks the Cleric, 7+2, missing.
Oighonlaer attacks Fighter A, 3+0, his spear thrust doesn't even come close
2
Miolla attacks Fighter C, 2+3, miss.
Debinvarr flashes in front of Fighter B, 5+0, who is not at all impressed.
Lycinia attacks Fighter A, 11+2, who fails to dodge her sword stroke (she only hit due to his DEX penalty).  The blade opens his stomach, and he falls (damage 9, brings him to -2hp).
Dwarf attacks Théscine, 12+2, his hammer glances off her shield.
Cleric casts Command on Benyithelnol. "Flee!" (Benyithelnol has 1 hit die and INT 9 so is not allowed a saving throw) He runs out of the clearing.
1
Théscine attacks the Dwarf, 11+1 miss
Firdeth attacks the Cleric, 13+1-2(rapier vs. chain), but her thin blade cannnot penetrate his armour.


round 2:

6
Caerindíl attacks Dwarf, 15+1, spearing his shoulder for 7 damage (Dwarf reduced to 3hp)
5
Fighter B attacks Debinvarr 7+3, but can't find an opening.
Fighter C attacks Miolla 11+3, who once again is always just outside his reach.
4
Oighonlaer attacks Fighter B, 19+0, delivering a nasty blow with his spear for 4 damage (Ftr B reduced to 2hp), but his opponent grits his teeth and snarls back in defiance.
2
Miolla attacks Fighter C, 17+3, not landing the blow she had hoped for, but her great strength assures that it is quite palpable: (1d8+2=)3 damage, reducing Ftr C to 2hp)
Debinvarr attacks Fighter B, 15+0, his rapier cutting for 1 damage (FtrB down to 1hp)
Lycinia attacks Cleric, 16+2, her blade cutting through his armour. He takes 6 damage (to -1hp), and sinks to the bloody forest floor
Dwarf attacks Théscine, 18+2, his mighty warhammer crashes down upon her brow. She crumples before him, mortally wounded (7 damage reduces her to -3hp; she will die in 1d10 minutes unless healed)
1
Firdeth rushes to attack the Dwarf, 10+1, but is unable to avenge her friend.

round 3 (NPCs pass morale check)

6
Caerindíl attacks the Dwarf, 11+1, missing.
5
Fighter B attacks Debinvarr 16+3, who falls under the onslaught to lie broken in the underbrush (8 damage brings him to -3hp, mortally wounded; he too has 1d10 minutes to live)
Fighter C attacks Miolla, 17+3; He catches her with the tip of his sword, biting deep into her side (only 2 damage, but it's half her hit points)
4
Oighonlaer attacks Fighter B, 3+0, who effortlessly knocks away the head of his spear
2
Miolla's riposte against Fighter C, 19+3, shatters his ribcage (6 damage reduces him to -4hp; he is killed outright).
Lycinia attacks Fighter B, 10+2, missing
Dwarf attacks Firdeth, 14+2, a solid hit does 5 damage (reducing her to 2hp).
1
Firdeth, still wincing from the pain, counter-attacks the Dwarf, 18+1, her rapier slashes him across the throat for 4 damage, removing him from the fight (reduced to -1hp)


round 4 (the 2 remaining NPCs (Fighters B & C surprisingly pass their morale check)

6
Caerindíl attacks Fighter B, 4+1, or rather tries to, but the man keeps knocking his spear away
5
Fighter B steps in to attack Lycinia 9+3, but she parrys his swing
Fighter C attacks Miolla 11+3, who is still too nimble for him to land a hit
4
Oighonlaer attacks Fighter B, 1+0, but nearly drops his spear in the process.
2
Miolla attacks Fighter C, 4+3, in avoiding his sword she hasn't come into striking distance herself, either.
Lycinia attacks Fighter B, 20+2, who raises his sword in a last desperate defence. Her mighty swing cleaves through the metal of his blade, his leather armour, and finally bone; 8 damage brings the fighter to -7hp, killing him instantly.
1
Firdeth attacks Fighter C, 8+1-2, scraping the point of her rapier against his mail, to no effect

round 5 (morale check rolls 3! Fighter C fights to the death!)

6
Caerindíl attacks Fighter C, 20+1, the point of his spear doesn't penetrate the mail armour, but the force of the blow nearly knocks the wind out of him (1 damage, reducing him to 1hp)
5
Fighter C attacks Miolla wildly, 1+3, missing
4
Oighonlaer attacks Fighter C, 10+0, but is unable to connect
2
Miolla is wounded and so drops back out of the fight
Lycinia attacks Fighter C, 18+2, a flash of steel and it's all over, as the final enemy falls bleeding at her feet (4 damage, leaving him at -3hp, mortally wounded).

-end combat-

Oighonlaer and Benyithelnol (who is just now returning to the clearing) each have half the party's supply of elvish healing salve. Each of them rushes forward to the aid of their fallen comrades.
Debinvarr is given 2 applications of healing salve (cures 5; he now has 2hp).
Théscine is also given 2 applications of healing salve (cures 5; she now has 2hp).
Miolla, who was severely wounded but still mobile, takes 1 application as well (cures 3 -- she's back to full hp).

Meanwhile, the rest of the PCs are looting the bodies.

Treasure: I rolled on the Classed NPCs: Quick Magic Item Determination tables in the d30 Companion for each enemy, treating an inappropriate result as Nothing; so between the five of them there's a single unlabeled potion (to be determined on table POTIONS I)

They also have (according to D&D Basic) Treasure Type U & V each, which I generated quickly at http://www.mithrilandmages.com/utilities/:
Gems (5): Garnet-750 sp, Tiger Eye Agate-50 sp, Jasper-250 sp, Carnelian-250 sp, Smoky Quartz-100sp. Total Value: 1400 sp. (Actually, there was a 1000sp gem too, but that seemed excessive, so I ignored it)
181cp


Travel recommences...

Q: Did the thieves also make a forced march? Likely: 11, Yes +Event
Event: NPC Negative - Eril: Persecute Illness (Eril has been forced to leave Cheapington -- run out of town by torch-wielding peasants -- though the PCs won't know this until they go back there.)

There are no further encounters on the way to the castle.



Castle Vyljusz is round keep, with 9 levels. Most of the keep is old and well-worn, but shows some signs of newer construction. Its owner, Siorighan, is an aristocrat, though untitled. She is also a 12th level magic-user, whose personality can best be described as prim & proper. She's not from this part of the world, nor were the original builders of the keep, though it is not thought that she has any connection to them.

The elves approach the soldiers guarding the portcullis, who turn out to be (reaction=9) talkative, and allow them to enter. They are received by the Major-domo (apprentice, MU2; temperament: Obliging; reaction (best 2 of 3d6, since he's obliging): 10).

Q: Did the thieves already hand over the Crown?  A sure thing: 22, Yes
Q: Is Siorighan satisfied? 50/50: 86, Exceptional No.
Q: Why not? Deceive/Hope - the Crown is a fake (only worth ~100sp for the gold, gems are paste)
Q: Will the M-U help party? 50/50: 21, Yes.
Q: Out of good will? 50/50: 34, No.

The magic-user is intrigued at a party of noble elves showing up at her door. She invites them to stay the night, and provides them with a sumptuous banquet in her great hall. The conversation naturally turns to their quest, which the excited elves recount to her in turn, perhaps a little too freely. Siorighan owns that she has the Crown, and patiently listens to Oighonlaer as he explains why he and his fellows need it.

"I understand your predicament," she says, "and I would like to help you, but I'm afraid I cannot just give you something for nothing. Now, I'm not after any sacred relics -- far from it! These thieves brought me the Crown of their own initiative. They owe me a great deal of money, you see, and they hoped the crown would pay their debt. The fools didn't even examine the crown before they took it, or they'd know it was almost worthless. They've set off already on another ill-advised scheme. They're headed south to some ruins, which are said to be haunted, and of course full of treasure. If you want the crown, go after them. Either help them or kill them, I don't rightly care. But either you or the thieves bring back 3500 silvers worth of actual treasure to pay their debt. Then you may have the crown. But you look tired from your journey, and some of you are injured. Please enjoy the safety of my castle whilst you rest and recover. Let me know your answer to my proposition before you leave."

-------

 Upkeep:

The elves are allowed to rest for 2 days at castle to recover all lost Hit Points.
They trade a 100sp gem to have their potion identified; It's a potion of ESP.

Since the castle counts as civilisation, it is time to award XP for monsters slain and treasure recovered.

Total combat XP: 175
Total treasure XP: 1400 (the 181cp do not contribute toward this; only the gems count)

so 1575/8= 196XP each

They also pick up a rumour from Castle Vyljusz's soldiers.
Type: location - region
Bibliomancy: ipsae lacte domum referent distenta capellae / ubera nec magnos metuent armenta leones;
(Vergil: Ecloga IV, 21-2)
(the she goats will return home, udders distended with milk / and the herd will not fear the great lions)
Interpretation: there are no dangerous wild beasts in the region around the castle. I will check for the truth of this rumour should a random encounter be indicated within 3 hexes of the Castle.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Sci-fi/Fantasy & the gender imbalance

The random NPCs from Traveller episode 11 (and earlier) got me to thinking. There were three groups, the N/PC party of four, the four criminals, and the six soldiers. In each group there was one woman, the rest being men. The party had been determined in advance by the same system (d6, 1-3=m, 4-6=f). My character's gender was not determined at random, but all her shipmates' were, and as luck would have it she replaced the sole female member of that group when she was hired as the temporary pilot. The gender imbalance of the Galatea's crew did strike me a bit odd at the time, but I sort of forgot about it as it was more interesting to find out (via the NPC Relationship Table) that the (vilani) Captain was schtupping the (solomani) engineer, who was scarcely half his age.

When I rolled for the genders of the criminals and the soldiers, I was again struck by the weird imbalance. At the time, I wrote in my game notes:

"Gender is indicated for the bad guys to make them slightly more than a collection of stats. I actually rolled 10d6 for all the NPCs in this scene (1-3 m, 4-6 f), and only 2 of those dice were 4 or higher (gaming flashback to the crappiest fireball ever cast)."

I've always liked the implicit assumption that Traveller's universe of the far future had gotten over biases based on gender and skin colouration, as summed up in the note at the end of the character generation section:


A NOTE ON GENDER AND RACE

Nowhere in these rules is a specific requirement established that any character (player or non-player) be of a specific gender or race. Any character is potentially of any race and of either sex.

-Traveller (Bk. 1 p.25, Starter Traveller Bk 1 p.17, Traveller Book p.30)


To be sure, the results I rolled were hardly outside the realm of possibility; sometimes random results just don't average out. What bothered me, though, was the fact that if I had merely presented the three groups without comment, it would have hardly seemed as if anything unusual had occurred. Perhaps it would even seem progressive of me to have included a woman in each of the groups.

The imbalance is so prevalent as to become background noise; if I had just seen the NPCs presented like that, or even with no women present, I might not have noticed, either. That's the most insidious part of the problem; we're so used to seeing it done that way we don't even find it remarkable. But if you swing the balance the other way, it stands out in an instant.

Groups of thugs and soldiers tend towards being all-male affairs. If there is a woman present, she's usually the only one, and never just one of the rank-and-file. She will usually be the smartest, sexiest, meanest &c one of the group, and the only one with different stats. If in a fantasy environment, she'll have the best armour. If there's an illustration, it will usually be plate mail with inexplicable décolleté.

The men under her command are almost never portrayed as if being commanded by such a woman is anything unusual (ok, they're a single stat block: but it seems like this is the implication). It's nice that there's no glass ceiling in Magicdale, but it does seem odd that no one else is following her example. She wasn't born a 6th level fighter. Why do the PCs never wander into a village to find such a personage at the beginning of her career?

This setup is something that's altogether too common in RPGs, even when they are ostensibly trying to be more egalitarian than other media. By only including women who are unusual in their level of attainment or 0-level peasants, it implies that, whilst women can be the equals of men, really only very few of them are.

There is always the argument that the gender roles in these worlds are based on medieval Europe (or wherever, but usually Europe), but if we can posit a 'medieval' world where pseudo-vikings team up with pseudo-hoplites to fight actual dragons, I think we can safely declare that argument invalid. Besides, it's not really the values of medieval europe that are the problem; it's the sad justification for the modern-day values being used in their place (this goes double for Game of Thrones).

Things are starting to change, but even so, it seems like the imbalance is still creeps in unconsciously even when it is consciouly addressed. Many adventures present groups of cannon fodder NPCs that just have a bunch of stats and are designated simply 'Bandits, 0-level human warriors' or the like, but just as often the text accompanying them makes bland references to 'the men'. By not specifying a gender, it re-enforces the default male stereotype unthinkingly. By implication, all other generic humans in the adventure will seem male unless it is specifically stated otherwise. Often the women primarily show up only as peasants ('20 farmers, human, m or f').

And there are also lots of adventures where the gender of generic stat-block NPCs isn't mentioned at all. I wonder what the implication is? Do we assume they're all male? That seems to be the default setting. I'd like to read it otherwise, but I'm afraid this is just attempting to look at it charitably.


P.S. For extra fun, re-read this essay but mentally substitute white/non-white person for male/female.

P.P.S. Yes, I realise I've written this whole thing with an absolute gender binary. Can anyone think of an example of a published RPG supplement that presents a human/humanoid culture without one? Monsters and aliens with 3+ biological sexes don't count. Das Schwarze Auge's elves are supposed to be all fairly androgynous, but I don't think they're exactly presented as being genderqueer.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Solo Traveller- Episode 13: The Glamorous World of Espionage (9Qs #4)

Dimmul/Foreven (2936 C587A7A-C) / Date: 235-1106

Q4. How can the fight be brought to the enemy, gaining ground for the heroic motivation?

[Be the PCs first:
• Roll a d4 twice to declare an act of: (1) defiance, (2) infiltration

• Choose or use the random idea generator to inspire the place where and when the
encounter will occur: Battle-scarred metropolis.]

The trip to Dimmul aboard the Dikiishgammurga passes without incident. Eshtam spent most of her time studying the library data on the world and its history, and prepping for the mission with Sergeant Gytovo.

Dimmul's spaceport is located in Vunsetgie, a minor city-state on the planet's equator. Embassies of many governments, from both on- and offworld, surround the port in a semi-circle. The most prestigious governments (which naturally includes the Imperium) have their compounds near the end points of the semi-circle, close to the beach.

The city-state is much like other crowded TL12 cities, though large portions of the suburbs and industrial districts still bear the scars of the last invasion in the war of 1095 – 1102. The days are long and hot, the nights temperate. Many consider Vunsetgie a desirable posting.

Unlike Imperial spaceports, there is no extrality zone. Vunsetgian police patrol the streets and the port alike. The law level is high, but minor fractions are usually met with only a warning.

Eshtam and Sergeant Gytovo arrive at the Imperial embassy in one of the Dikiishgammurga's pinnaces. They march from the landing pad across the compound with the unit of marines sent here to bolster the garrison, and wearing their unit's insignia and combat armour; as much as Eshtam hates to play soldier, Sergeant Gytovo is even more uncomfortable, having to pretend he's a member of an inferior unit. Still, the chance of enemy agents observing the goings-on in the embassy is too high to risk them being seen.

Once inside the main embassy building, they are separated from the troops and shown to their temporary quarters. They spend the next few days getting acclimated to the planet (Eshtam is unused to planets with breathable atmosphere) and meeting with the Controller, an Imperial Vargr. She seldom leaves the embassy compound, as she attracts too much attention.

They are also introduced to "Khivar Trele", the agent with whom they will be working. Khivar is 42, craggy-faced, and has thinning, sandy blond hair. His flashy clothes and strong accent mark him immediately as an offworlder. He wears a press badge at all times; he introduces himself as a war correspondent for the Foreven Subsector P Quarterly Review a news magazine (well-respected, despite its Imperial bias) based out of Mingiz. [Khivar Trele is the cover identity of the new agent PC I rolled up; working for a news organisation with known Imperial leanings excuses his frequent trips to the embassy.]

Like much of the press corps (foreign and otherwise), Khivar spends the bulk of his time at the Port Taanaga Resort Hotel mingling with other journalists, visiting diplomats, spies, mercenaries, and travellers. The Port Taanaga (pronounced PORtanaga by locals and anyone in the know) is a 120-storey beachfront resort. Within are spas, boutiques, cinemas, a theatre, nightclubs: the works. The main courtyard is completely enclosed in a glass cone that reaches the very top level of the tower. The ground floor is completely given over to the Poolside, a restaurant whose 300+ tables are arrayed around the many swimming pools and ornamental fountains in the courtyard. Everyone who's anyone goes there to make their deals and hammer out diplomacy away from the figureheads to whom they must report. The constant noise of the fountains and generally poor acoustics are more than adequate screens for conversation.

Khivar already has an established cover, and a good reason to be hanging around the Port Taanaga. Sergeant Gytovo is given the cover story of being employed as Khivar's bodyguard. His credentials identify him as Limo Sturnn, a mercenary from Imllgh (his actual homeworld, to make the cover more believable; the sergeant isn't used to all this cloak-and-dagger business).

Eshtam assumes the identity of Gahani Basrra, a cousin of one of the embassy staff who is trying to put her life back together after a nasty divorce. Late one night she is smuggled out of the embassy. She checks into a cheap residence motel in another part of town, pays cash, and tearfully calls her cousin at the embassy from the lobby paycomm begging for help getting a job so she can get her life back together. The cousin, a junior ambassador, calls in a favour owed by a shift manager at the Port Taanaga to get Gahani a waitressing job at the Poolside. Eshtam actually used to wait tables in college, so she knows the routine. It also obviates the need for her to interact with any enemy agents; as a waitress she's effectively invisible.

Khivar pumps his contacts for information, as 'the Citizens of the Imperium have a right to know'. He and Sgt. Gytovo stay in a suite in the hotel. The sergeant and Eshtam pretend to meet and fall madly in lust. Their 'assignations' are used to pass information and items between Eshtam and Khivar, who have no other contact. Sergeant Gytovo is uncomfortable with this part of the mission, but does his best to maintain the façade. Eshtam takes a perverse delight in his discomfort, going out of her way to make sure he is covered in the scent of her perfume, lipstick smudges, even the occasional stray hair. When Khivar identifies potential targets, Eshtam sets about observing them clandestinely, and following their movements. The initial list of suspects is soon narrowed to three, and surveillance efforts become more concentrated. Eshtam convinces one of the cleaning staff to loan her a passkey so she and her boyfriend can have a tryst in one of the nicer suites; she uses it instead to rifle through the suspects' rooms, steal data from their private computers (using some electronic intrusion devices provided by the Controller; she's no expert), and pass the it back to Sgt. Gytovo. Khivar brings it to the embassy for decryption and analysis.

[That was rather a lot of narrative. Now, let's roll some dice.

Q: Does pretending to have a torrid affair cause Sgt. Gytovo to actually develop feelings for Eshtam? (Unlikely | 3[d10]) No. (phew! he's so not her type.)
Q: Does Eshtam's work uniform require a skirt that's too short to conceal a weapon underneath? (Somewhat Likely | 2[d10]) No. (such luck on this mission so far!)
Q: Can the sergeant smuggle in some body pistols for himself and Eshtam? (Somewhat Likely | 9[d10]) Yes. (She'll wear hers in a holster around her thigh, not just tucked into a garter. It will stay hidden in a makeup bag in her employee locker when she's not at work. He'll keep his in the suite when it's not in his pocket, and an auto pistol outside in Khivar's air/raft.)

Now to the mission itself. MGT's Agent sourcebook has a useful system for espionage mission resolution which seems ideal for this setup. I think the lack of variability in skills used for each mission type would need to be addressed in a campaign that focussed on spies and spying, but for now it's perfectly fine as written.

Since they're both doing very different things, Eshtam and Khivar will each get their own mission and skill checks. Sgt. Gytovo is just a go-between, so doesn't need one of his own. I'll use all the tables, including Payout, though that one doesn't apply just yet. Eshtam will (probably) be rewarded once the adventure is over, but Khivar is still working for the Ministry and should just be drawing a salary. Increases in Trust can potentially be applied, though.

Eshtam:
Mission Type: Covert Action
Mission Target: Private Data
Mission Length: 3 weeks
Mission Difficulty: Challenging (need a total Effect of 11)
Payout: 2d6x1,000 Credits; +1 Trust
Skills used: Deception, Investigate, Recon, Stealth

Each skill roll needs 8+ for each; any attribute can be used as long as it can be justified.

Eshtam's skill checks-
Deception (Int) 9+3, Investigate (Int) 3+2, Recon (Int) 9+4, Stealth (Dex) 11+2
Total effect = 11; success!


Khivar:
Espionage Mission Type: Political Action
Espionage Mission Target: Public Data
Determine Length of Mission: 3 weeks
Espionage Mission Difficulty: Medium (needs 9 Effect)
Espionage Mission Payout: 2d6x300 Credits
Skills used: Admin, Carouse, Investigate, Persuade.

Khivar's skill checks-
Admin (Int) 11+2, Carouse (Soc) 8+2, Investigate (Int) 4+4, Persuade (Edu) 7+2
Total effect = 8; failure!

The mission failure table result is [6-1] 5: One of Khivar's friends is murdered by an enemy trying to get to him. His Network (Political) is reduced by 1.

Be the GM next: Use the random idea generator to inspire an encounter that reacts with appropriate resistance to the heroes' declared act.

Q: What will the enemy try to do (Mythic)? Overthrow / Failure. - try to assassinate Khivar
Q: Where? Galactic posh resort. - well then, that's pretty obvious

Q: Is there a double-agent inside the Imperial Embassy? (Somewhat Unlikely | 7[d10]) Yes, but... not activated against the PCs at this time.
Q: Who is the attacker? Relentless trooper.
Q: Working alone? (50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but... has backup in the hotel
Q: Have Eshtam or Sgt. Gytovo been compromised by Khivar's failure? (Somewhat Unlikely | 4[d10]) No.

At the start of the encounter...
Q: Is Gytovo nearby? (Unlikely | 6[d10]) Yes, but... not visible
Q: Is Eshtam nearby? (Unlikely | 2[d10]) No.
Q: Is she working? (50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and... she's 6 hours into her shift and due for a break.

The assassin is a human male, stats are #139 from Veterans. He's wearing casual clothing, and has a concealed dagger under his coat.

He attempts to sneak up behind Khivar in the corridor near his suite. [Opposed skill rolls: Stealth 12+1 vs. Recon 12+1.] Khivar hears someone behind him just as the assassin is about to strike.

The assassin wins the initiative. His attack roll is 7+2, a hit. He does 6 damage to Khivar's DEX, leaving him with a physical UPP of 819. Khivar is unarmed, so attempts to flee. Opposed DEX checks: 11-2 vs. 7+0. Despite his injury, or perhaps spurred on by pain and fear, Khivar manages to outdistance the assassin as he runs for his life.

Q: is there a nearby lift? (50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

Khivar slips inside the lift just as the doors close. He stabs the button for a random floor as he fumbles for his communicator. He tells Sgt. Gytovo to find him on the 34th floor.


Be the PCs once more: Use the heroes' abilities to respond to the threats as per their heroic motivation and the RPG's rules.

Q: Does Gytovo reach him before the assassin catches up? (50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

Almost as soon as the sergeant finds Khivan in the 34th floor corridor, the assassin emerges from a nearby lift. Sgt. Gytovo wins the initiative, and fires his body pistol at the assassin [range ~6m, roll 7+1 -1dodge], but misses. The assassin closes in on Khivar, slashing with his dagger [11+2 -1dodge, hits for 10 damage: 9 END, 1 STR]. Khivan falls to the floor, seriously wounded [phys. UPP 710].

The sergeant fires again, but the shot goes wide. The assassin runs away down the corridor.

Q: Does Gytovo give chase? (50/50 | 4[d10]) No.

Sgt. Gytovo stays with Khivar, trying to stop the bleeding. He calls Eshtam to tell her what happened, and to see if she can spot the assassin leaving. Then he calls the emergency number for medical assistance.

Eshtam slips toward the front exit.

Q: Does she see the merc attempting to leave? (Unlikely | 7[d10]) Yes.
Q: Does he talk to anyone on the way out? (50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

[Difficult Recon check to notice his [1d3+1] two compatriots -- Veterans #140 (male human) & #141 (female human) -- react as he goes past: 10+4, success.

Deception check to slip away on the pretext of meeting her beau: 8+3 success

Eshtam tails them: her Stealth 7+2 vs. #141's Recon 6+1; They do not notice her following them.

Q: Can they get to Khivar before the medics arrive? (Somewhat Unlikely | 3[d10]) No.
Q: Can they get there before hotel security? (Very Unlikely | 10[d10]) Yes, and... hotel security has been bribed to stay away.

Q: How do they react? Intolerance / Enemies. - Positively / Abnormal.]

The pair of mercenaries pull guns on the [1d3 medics, skill 1d3] staff medic and Gytovo, attempting to frighten them off. The medic's reaction roll is 6, Unreceptive. He tells them there's a life at stake, and he can't turn his back on that.

Eshtam draws her own gun and sneaks up behind the mercenaries [stealth vs. recon to get right behind them: 11+2 vs. 11+1, success]. Sgt. Gytovo pulls his gun on the mercenaries as well, hoping for a standoff.  He shouts at the mercenaries to back off. The medic shouts at everyone to go away and let him tend to a dying man. The mercenaries are defiant.

Q: Do the mercs do something crazy? (Somewhat Unlikely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

The woman looks Sergeant Gytovo straight in the eye for a moment, smiles, then shoots Khivar [hits for 9 damage] in the head, killing him outright (my lovely new character! c'est la guerre...).

[Now it goes into a combat round. The medic wins initiative, but fails a morale check.] The medic scrambles to his feet and rushes past Sgt. Gytovo in a panic, leaving his medkit behind. Eshtam raises her gun to Khivar's killer and fires point blank between her shoulders [7+2 +2 for ambush, hits for 11 damage: 6 STR 5 END, reducing her phys. UPP to 080]. The woman crumples to the ground. Sgt. Gytovo, still kneeling beside his fallen comrade, fires his body pistol at the remaining mercenary [11+1, hits for 12 damage, reducing his phys. UPP to 002]. His shot drops the second mercenary.

Eshtam and Sgt. Gytovo quickly confer. She decides to keep playing her part, so goes to hide in a supply cupboard. The sergeant calls the embassy to report in.

[Q: Do they tell him to wait for the police? (50/50 | 4[d10]) No.]

The sergeant runs down a few flights of stairs, then composes himself, goes out into the corridor and waits for the lift. He gets in amongst the other passengers, takes it down to the lobby, and attempts to just walk out in the most blasé way possible.

[Q: Can he sneak out without incident? (Unlikely | 8[d10]) Yes.]

He crosses the lobby and goes straight for the door. He overhears the concierge talking to one of the doormen, telling him the police will be arriving at any minute, and could he get them in as quietly as possible without alarming the guests?

[Q: Does he make it back to the embassy? (50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes.]

The sergeant reaches Khivar's air/raft. He is just turning on the engine when the police arrive in a pair of grav cruisers. They pay him no mind as he slowly pulls away and drives back to the safety of the Imperial embassy.

Eshtam is discovered by the cleaners [1d6] 4 hours later, still in tears. She babbles incoherently at them about having seen blood and bodies everywhere, and there was shooting, and her boyfriend with a gun, and to tell the boss she quits and has enough saved up for a low passage offworld and she's just going home to mother and the hell with this place!!!

[Deception roll to get away with it 11+2; success.

Q: Will there be any fallout from the mission? (Likely | 1[d10]) No, and... ]

The Controller is pleased with the mission outcome, despite losing an agent.

"In fact," she confides at their next briefing, "Khivar was playing it a little too dangerous and may soon have become a liability. I do hope this will be a lesson for you. Fortunately, you are in the clear for now. the local police are treading softly since an Imperial citizen was murdered on their turf. There don't seem to be any witnesses coming forth, and no one has suggested that the missing waitress was anything other than an innocent bystander to the whole mess.

"Analysis of the data obtained by Ms. Dreejeh has confirmed my worst suspicions. This conspiracy is the work of one man, Antery Ladver: a notorious gangster, arms dealer, political agitator, and all-round nasty piece of work. He lives extravagantly, considers himself a smooth, charming playboy, but beneath the veneer he's a sadistic, amoral thug. A damned clever one, though. And arrogant; he calls himself 'King' Ladver.

"He ran the biggest criminal syndicate on Pa'trix for years before their Internal Security Bureau caught on to him; an impressive feat by any means, but even more so since he was an offworlder. This is who we're up against. I don't have time to go through his entire CV for you. We've been watching him for a long time. I've had a thorough dossier prepared; I suggest you both study it carefully.

"We aren't sure why he's going to such extraordinary lengths to destabilise this world, or who's paying him to do it. We have allowed him too much freedom in the past, with the proviso that he stay out of the Imperial sphere of influence. We can no longer allow him to move about unchecked."

"Wait," interrupts Sgt. Gytovo, "he's a notorious criminal whose been allowed to go planet hopping through the sector stirring up trouble?"

"He has had his uses," states the Controller bluntly, "especially when we could throw him against the Zhodani. His usefulness is at an end. I'm sorry if this offends your idealism, sergeant. There's more to protecting the Imperium than chasing down pirates."

"Yes, ma'am. I understand, ma'am."

"I doubt that you do, sergeant. But that is of no consequence at this time. Your loyalty and dedication are irreproachable, and that is all your mission requires. We've had reports that Ladver is currently operating in the region around the Teblosk lowlands, a disputed region between three mutually-hostile minor nations: The Republic of Erhai, the Erhai Tetrarchy, and Ilpara. Aside from a few oases, the lowlands are largely uninhabitable desert. There are great quantities of natural gas and some uranium deposits as well, so the area would be a prize for any of the three. Recently there's been a lot of fighting going on between all three sides, native troops and a good number of foreign and offworld mercenaries. The Republic of Erhai was also recently the scene of a failed coup d'état, which had almost certainly been backed by one of the other two or their allies.

"The Ilparans have petitioned the Imperium for military aid; they're a mostly neutral and, for Dimmul, not very belligerent nation, primarily concerned with internal politics and external trade. Despite my reservations, our esteemed Imperial council on Mingiz have decided to grant the petition. We've sent in some strategic advisers already. The next phase is to send in some field advisers on the ground, a platoon of the 329th Engineering Corps from 'Dmeel. You'll be seconded to them for the next phase of your mission. Don't roll your eyes at the thought of being put into a support unit, marine. These guys have access to some of the best hardware in the sector.

"The secondment of a sergeant to an advisory unit would look more than a little suspicious. Forgive the lack of ceremony, but you are hereby receiving your commission, Lieutenant Gytovo. Commander Darus had the foresight to leave orders to this affect with us at the embassy, and our naval envoy is handling the paperwork. Corporal Dreejeh will be assigned to you as an aide-de-camp. Naturally, this cover identity will be dissolved at the end of your assignment.

"Your CO will be Force Commander Adine Hinniter. She has not been briefed on the specifics of your mission, only that it may override hers and she is to provide all reasonable assistance.

"You are to track down Ladver, and determine the scope of his involvement and his aims, with a view to neutralising the threat he poses. You may kill or capture him as you see fit, but bear in mind that simply removing him may not necessarily stop the wheels he has set in motion.

"You leave in three days."

Thursday, 23 January 2014

LotFP solo - Part the Second: "Some have accused me of a strange design / Against the creed and morals of this land"

"My Noble Lady," drones the vampire's thrall, "seeks to acquire the Holy Crown of St. Aerdwine. It is a relic being brought on a tour of holy sites by monks from the Monastery of the Blue Stones. For the space of two moons it is being kept at the the Church of St. Gelevaard, that the pilgrims may see its bejewelled splendours, and bathe their souls in the holy light of its presence. My Lady cannot enter the Church to steal it; you elves, immortal yet living, are under no such constraints. But do not think this a wicked deed. By this seeming crime you avert a greater Evil."


Scene: 2

Chaos: 4

Setup: unmodified - travel to the church to get the item for the Vampire

Rolling a random treasure results in a Gold Tiara set with Garnets (3500sp).

Fleshing out the Vampire's mission with the d30 Companion produces the following:
Obstacle: race against antagonist(s)
Feature: sanctuary
Phenomenon: charm
Vampire's goal/reason: noble goal, extreme measures
Antagonists' goal/reason: debt owed
Theme: judgement
Key NPC: scribe

Characters: Neldir, the Elders of the Elven Forest, Eril the Vampire

Threads: find Neldir & the book
get item for Vampire


day 3.

Unsure of whether or not to trust the vampire and her minion, the elves also are in agreement that they haven't any other leads. And so they decide to pursue this course of action, at least for now.  The PCs buy 2 days worth of iron rations each before setting out on the road. They arrive at Castle Tarm without incident, but the soldiers on patrol outside are decidedly unfriendly and refuse them entry in to the castle. Undaunted, they pitch their camp a short distance away. The soldiers can plainly see their campfire from the battlements, but fortunately make no move against them.

day 4.

Travelling on the road towards the Church, they encounter 8 heavy horsemen (Ftr0, chainmail, lance, sword, heavy crossbow). Their leader rides her warhorse right up into the midst of the party, and glowers down at them. "Strayed a bit far from yer forest, have ye? Ye've no business here; go back home, little elfies. There's none as want ye here!"

"Please, good knight," responds Oighonlaer earnestly, "we are sent into the world to learn of your kind, not to trouble them. Please let us pass, and we shall tell all we meet of the might of the great knights protecting Castle Tarm!"

[The d30 Companion's road encounter indicated bully/threaten, and I rolled up Arrogant for the captain's personality.

Oighonlaer has the highest Charisma, making him the de facto spokesperson for the party. To flatter his way past the soldiers he'll need to roll over their Morale (of 9) on 2d6. His roll is 10+1(CHA mod.), success: Oighlaer earns 1/2 XP for this encounter (40XP).]

"Great knights, my saddle-sore arse," laughs the soldier, but even so she motions to her troops to follow, rides off, and leaves the elves to their journey.

When the elves finally arrive at the church, they are greeted at the gate by an acolyte, Sister Hertsild, who is scarcely friendlier than the soldiers have been.

[She's a first level cleric. Her reaction roll is 5, Unfriendly

Q: what happened recently? Ambush/Plans - a group of thieves broke into the church overnight, ambushed and killed the guards and stole the Holy Crown of St. Aerdwine.
Q: Is there anyone willing to talk? 50/50: 42 Yes. a Pious Merchant
Q: Did clerics use divination to determine the movements of the thieves? Very Likely: 26 Yes. The destination of thieves is (randomly determined) Castle Vyljusz
Q: Will the merchant offer any aid? Unlikely: 05 Yes, Food]

Sister Hertsild is very brusque and unforthcoming. She ushers the elves into the courtyard, half-heartedly points out the usual points of interest of the Church, and flatly says that there will be no viewing of the Relic this week. She then abruptly takes her leave. None of the clerics, nor the laypeople, nor the pilgrims have anything to say to this group of strange, non-human wanderers. All save one, a woman named Ranwitha, a merchant making a pilgrimage.

"Just this morning," she confides, "the priests said that they will not be displaying the Relic. They tried to placate the crowd with a flimsy theological excuse and a bold sermon. Lies from the pulpit. Such blasphemy! I have overheard some of the younger clergy talking, and they said many disturbing things. A group of thieves is supposed to have broken into the sanctuary and absconded with the relic. And killed all the guards! Thieves and murderers!"

"Pray tell, gentle Radwitha," replied Oighonlaer, "does anyone know where these blackguards are headed?"

"Oh, yes! The high priest prayed to St. Gelevaard, and he received a sign: the thieves made straight for Castle Vyljusz. I don't know why no one has yet gone after them. Though they may fear the witch of Castle Vyljusz, I can't believe they would allow her to just take the Crown!"

"Perhaps we," said Oighonlaer, "could be the heroes needed in this most desperate hour..."

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

LotFP solo - Part the First: „Fernab liegt die Welt / Wie versenkt in eine tiefe Gruft“

"Gather round, O children," spake the elven sage, his voice resounding throughout the Shimmering Hall. Eight young elves silently moved to sit at his feet. Behind the sage, the council of elders stood impassively. "Bow not your heads," the sage continued, "look to me, for you will be children no more. An hundred years and a year have you lived; time it is to put aside childish things and find your way in the world. We are a dying race, yet proud, and ever-observant of the old customs. You are the best of your generation, the fruit of the noblest and most worthy houses. Before you can truly take your place amongst us as equals, you must be proved worthy. Venture forth from our forest, from great and wondrous Feyalldra, into the human lands, there to fulfil this noble Quest, which I now lay upon you...."

I've had elves on the brain for some reason, and that combined with reading about other people's dungeon crawls has inspired me to try something similar. So I rolled up a party of 8 elves to send forth into certain death adventure and glory.

My toolbox for the adventure (campaign?) is:
  • Ruleset: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
  • GM: Mythic (chaos factor & events & all)
  • Random encounters & other misc. rules:  B/X (Moldvay/Cook), Labyrinth Lord if needed
  • d30 Sandbox Companion for fleshing out the world
  • Rumours: my Rumours system 
  • Random idea generator:  I made a joke about using bibliomancy as a random idea generator, but it may actually be a good idea so I will try it. Since LotFP has an early modern flavour, I'm going to do this old skool: whenever the rumours (or whatever Mythic doesn't cover) needs a random idea, I shall randomly point at a passage in my complete works of that famous ancient wizard, Vergil.  
 I've also been playing with Hexographer, so I have 60x80 hexes to explore. Each hex is 2 miles across. Here's the starting area (click to enlarge):


Feyalldra is the great elven city in the Elven Forest (all the heavy forest west of the river/lake - Elves move through their forest as if it were clear terrain, and automatically find enough food and water). The stone circle is a meeting place for the humans and elves to conduct trade. Cheapington is (as its name suggests) a mercantile town that grew up because of the human-elf trade. The Church of St. Gelevaard is a church of the Light God, built on the very site where St. Gelevaard was martyred 1000 years ago. The climate and and pseudo-medievality is that of southern England circa 1550AD. There is a large bay 20 miles south of Cheapington, the ocean proper is 20 miles further south. This area is on the border of civilisation, so firearms are a bit rarer than in other parts (to the East). I'll make up / randomly determine the rest as I go.

Let's meet the party.

Caerindíl
Elf, Level 1, male
Cha 7 Con 17 Dex 9 Int 11 Str 10 Wis 10
Hit Points: 7
Social Standing: 8 (knight)
Personality: defensive, sensitive
Armour: leather & shield
Weapons: spear
Equipment: 50' rope, grappling hook, pouch, backpack, bedroll, 25SP

Miolla
Elf, Level 1, female
Cha 14 Con 12 Dex 18 Int 6 Str 16 Wis 7
Hit Points: 4
Social Standing: 14 (viscountess)
Personality: ignorant, honest
Armour: leather
Weapons: longbow, heavy mace, dagger
Equipment: quiver & 20 arrows, bedroll, cooking pots, tinderbox, torch, backpack, 2 sacks, 16SP

Debinvarr
Elf, Level 1, male
Cha 13 Con 13 Dex 16 Int 11 Str 8 Wis 14
Hit Points: 5
Social Standing: 12 (knight commander)
Personality: humourous, eager
Armour: leather
Weapons: longbow, rapier
Equipment: quiver & 20 arrows, bedroll, waterskin, 2 torches, 50' rope, shovel, sack, 9SP, 3CP

Lycinia
Elf, Level 1, female
Cha 11 Con 14 Dex 16 Int 16 Str 15 Wis 9
Hit Points: 6
Social Standing: 17 (princess)
Personality: taciturn, curious
Armour: chainmail
Weapons: longsword, dagger
Equipment: tinderbox, 3 torches, bedroll, scroll case, backpack, ink, 10 candles, silver mirror, 2SP, 1CP

Théscine
Elf, Level 1, female
Cha 9 Con 9 Dex 13 Int 10 Str 10 Wis 10
Hit Points: 4
Social Standing: 11 (knight banneret)
Personality: obsessive, independent
Armour: leather & shield
Weapons: shortsword, short bow
Equipment: quiver & 20 arrows, bedroll, waterskin, backpack, steel mirror, 20SP

Firdeth
Elf, Level 1, female
Cha 11 Con 15 Dex 11 Int 12 Str 12 Wis 6
Hit Points: 7
Social Standing: 8 (knight)
Personality: distracted, evasive
Armour: leather
Weapons: rapier, sling
Equipment: lantern, 4 flasks of oil, pouch, 20 sling stones, tinderbox, bedroll, sack, 18SP

Benyithelnol
Elf, Level 1, male
Cha 8 Con 11 Dex 15 Int 9 Str 14 Wis 14
Hit Points: 4
Social Standing: 11 (knight banneret)
Personality: xenophobic, boastful
Armour: leather
Weapons: longbow, light mace
Equipment: quiver & 20 arrows, bedroll, 2 torches, backpack, 8SP, 8CP

Oighonlaer
Elf, Level 1, male
Cha 15 Con 13 Dex 13 Int 10 Str 6 Wis 10
Hit Points: 5
Social Standing: 13 (baron)
Personality: spiritual, popular
Armour: chainmail
Weapons: spear
Equipment: map of the kingdom, bedroll, wooden holy symbol, waterskin, backpack, 5SP

Notes: I was lazy and didn't type these up until I'd been playing a while, so their leftover money is slightly lower than when they were first equipped, and all their rations have been eaten. If you ever need a party of elves to throw at your players, have at.

Social Standing is just the roll for starting money. Since these are all noble elves, I wanted to have some idea of their relative hierarchy. Equivalent human titles are thus (mostly following the list in World of Greyhawk):
18 Duke/Duchess
17 Prince/princess
16 Marquis/Marquise
15 Count/Countess
14 Viscount/Viscountess
13 Baron/Baroness
12 Knight commander
11 knight banneret
10 Knight companion
 9 knight bachelor
 8 knight
 7 elder
 6 yeoman
5- untitled

Labyrinth Lord conversion: LotFP elves are all Chaotic in alignment and start only knowing 1 spell, Read Magic. For LL, make them all Neutral and give them each 2 first level spells in their spellbooks. Also, convert SP to GP, and CP to SP.

Enough with the set-up; onwards to adventure!



Scene 1

Chaos: 5

Setup: Neldir the elf has stolen a forbidden tome of ancient lore from the library in the ancient elven city of Feyalldra. He was last seen fleeing south, several days ago. The PC's quest is to track him down, recover the book, and bring him back if possible. The characters collect their equipment and spend a night's sacred vigil in the Shimmering Hall. The Elders give them each 2 applications of a healing salve (cures 1d4 damage - I'd like to keep them alive at least a little while). In the morning, the PCs set out towards human village to the south.

Modified Scene? roll of 2 = Interrupt (under chaos to modify, even is interrupt, odd is altered)

Interrupt: Remote Event - Oppose victory (there will be a problem in the human town, making it hard to get any information there.)

Characters: Neldir, the Elders of the Elven Forest

Threads: find Neldir & the book



day 1. The characters travel to Stone Circle without incident (i.e. no random encounters). It's easy travelling through the forest in which they grew up.

day 2. Travelling along the road to Cheapington won't take the whole day, but the PCs intend to stop over there and see if any of the humans have news of Neldir. The rolls for encounter are 6,1,6. One forest encounter in the morning, a second encounter when they hit town.

Forest encounter: (2d8=)11 brigands (5 on horses, 6 on foot)
Neither party is surprised, The brigand's initial reaction is Indifferent. The elves decide these humans look a bit unsavoury, and so casually attempt to evade them.

Q: Do brigands pursue? Yes.
The elves attempt to lose their pursuers in the forest. Chance of evasion, using Expert set evasion rules is: 70% +25%(forest) -25% (brigands faster). A roll of 31 is a success. The elves slip into the trees and disappear, leaving the frustrated brigands to stake out the road again.

The elves arrive at Cheapington in the early evening. They find lodging at an inn (the Lamb and Trefoil) and sit down to a simple meal. They had been told that elves were welcome in the town, but everyone seems strange and distant. Something is amiss.

After dinner, they are sipping wine in the inn's common room when someone does finally approach them.

Rolling on the encounter table results in a Vampire!
Reaction roll is fortunately 9, Talkative.

Q: Is the encounter related to the problem in the village? 50/50 - 78, No.
Q: what's up in the village? Desert / Prison. Prisoner(s) broke out of local gaol and killed the head of the watch in the process.
Q: What does the vampire want, then? Release / Riches

Six places in the vicinity (mostly off the above map) could hold riches. Rolling 1d6 and counting counterclockwise =5, the Church of St. Gelevaard.

"Don't worry, my friends," says the vampire, "I do not feast upon your kind. I do have information on the one whom you seek, but I require a service of you in return. There is a certain... treasure... at the the Church of St. Gelevaard. If you acquire it for me, I will tell you everything I know."

Eril
Vampire, Fighter, Level ?, Female, apparent age ~45
large frame, has thick grey hair and soft brown eyes.
str 17 chr14

The elves decide to vote on whether or not to accept Eril's offer. Caerindíl, Debinvarr, Lycinia, and Oighonlaer vote Yea; Miolla, Théscine, Firdeth, Benyithelnol, and Oighonlaer vote Nay.

Q: Does Eril accept they need to think about it overnight? Unlikely. 20, Yes.
Q: Can party find anyone else with information about Neldir? 50/50, 67, No.
Q: Can Lycinia convince Miolla to change vote? Somewhat likely. 57, Yes.
Q: Do the characters pick up any other rumour in town? 50/50. 46, Yes.

Rumour type: Fact (table 1) about Environment (table 3)
Magnitude (table 7): roll of 11, +/-4 (so, pretty bad)
What's the rumour about: "...matri multis balatibus agnum / Martius a stabulis rapuit lupus. Undique clamor / tollitur..."(Aeneid IX, 565-7)
(with much bleating the lamb is snatched from the enclosure by the wolf of Mars. Thence arises a clamour)
Interpretation: Barbarian raiders (beserkers) from the hills have been plaguing the village of Ullgrim.  Ullgrim (pop. ~50) is a farming village about 50 miles SW of Cheapington.


The next morning there is a strange man waiting for the elves in the common room as they come down to breakfast. He wears a tunic embroidered with the the same device found on Eril's signet ring. "My Lady wishes to know if you have reconsidered her offer?" intones the man in a far-off voice.

"We have," replies Oighonlaer. "Pray tell what it is your noble Lady seeks?"

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Solo Traveller - Episode 12: Friends & Enemies (9Qs #3)

Uloryy/Foreven (3033 A877758-7) / Date: 210-1106Q3. What elements of the results of Q1a or b and Q2 suddenly get twisted together in
a surprising manner, increasing the danger to the heroic motivation?


[Be the GM first:
• Use the random idea generator to inspire a shocking plot twist that wholly or partially expresses a relationship between the threat encountered in Q1a or b and the unusual event experienced in Q2, alluding to greater dangers ahead.

Delay / Peace.

• Roll a d6 twice to express that twist in an encounter of: (3) revelation, (2) betrayal
• Choose or use the random idea generator to inspire the place where and when the encounter will occur: Syndicate pod.

Be the PCs next:
Use the heroes' abilities to respond to the twist as per their heroic motivation and the RPG's rules.
Be the GM once more:
Close the encounter by resolving NPC reactions to the heroes.]

The aftermath of the battle: All the soldiers have been incapacitated or killed. Starman Unamshiiguu is seriously wounded. Slinx is injured but mobile. The criminal's leader, Heni, is incapacitated, as is Palina, one of the thugs.

"So who set us up?" asks Sgt. Gytovo as he reloads his weapon. "I know it can't have been any of my guys, so it looks like you guys have a traitor in your midst."

"What do we do now?" says Sir Fenzies.

"We need to get out of here. Fast. You three," says the sergeant, pointing to Eshtam, Slinx and Bov, "sort the bodies and figure out who's going to make it. Me and his highness are going to have a little conference and find somewhere to hide out and stash the weapons."

"I've got a sort of artist's loft in a converted startown warehouse." says Sir Fenzies, "We could hide there."

"Is that where you were supposed to take the consignment?"

"No."

"It'll do, then."

Sir Fenzies has an expensive air/raft he imported from Mingiz. Slinx rides with him, with their injured compatriots (Heni, Palina and Unamshiiguu) in the back seat. Bov drives the weapon truck. Sgt. Gytovo rides shotgun, Eshtam crams into the middle of the front seat. Three prisoners (V, W, and Z) are put in the back seat of the cab and covered with a tarp. The air/raft leads; Bov has been given the address in case they get separated (he's never been there before).

[Q: Are there any problems on the way to the hideout? (Somewhat Likely | 2[d10]) No.
Q: Can Sir Fenzies call in a mob doctor to care for the wounded? (Very Likely | 9[d10]) Yes.
Q: Does (d6,2 =male) he agree that Eshtam and Bov can pick him up in order to not give away their location?  (50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes.
Q: Is anyone looking for the party in startown? (Very Likely | 4[d10]) No.]

It is soon apparent that Sir Fenzies' 'hideout' is more of a secret love-nest than anything else. Still, at least it seems to be a well-kept secret. The injured are unloaded and arranged on the plush sofas in the entertainment suite. The sergeant keeps a watch over them with Heni's silenced pistol, just in case. Sir Fenzies calls a doctor he knows to patch everyone up. The doctor agrees to be picked up from a restaurant ("you know," says Sir Fenzies," the one with the awful higlaten sauce") in another neighbourhood, so they don't have to give away the hideout location in case the comm is being tapped.

Eshtam and Bov go out to fetch the doctor, returning within the hour and without incident. They come back to the smell of Sir Fenzies and Slinx cooking up something in the kitchen, and sergeant Gytovo scowling as he listens to their prattle.

The doctor stabilises the wounded whilst everyone else eats. Sgt. Gytovo organises the watch schedule. In the morning of the next day he convinces the doctor to bring the prisoners round so he can question them.

Q: Does Sgt. Gytovo have Interrogation skill? (50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes. Interrogation/Doubletalk-1

Badgering ~(diff) 1d6 hours roll10+2

(Using the charts in Mercenary, I roll up: Medium Cadre mission Training (compensation B) 9 weeks
Merc unit: large(60 members), trait-bigotry, fame bonus +1soc, avg skill=marginal)

Q: How much does the merc know? (2d6=8, basic details)
Q: Why are the recruits fighting? Trust / A plan. They believe in their cause, and accept the designs of their leaders.

random roll of 6 nearest likely systems to find out destination of conspiracy: Dimmul (!)

Q: Are recruits from Dimmul? (Very Likely | 7[d10]) Yes.
Q: Are they part of a major conflict? (50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes.
Q: Is there any outside involvement? (Somewhat Unlikely | 6[d10]) No, but... proxy war between 2 of Dimmul's major players.
Q: How far into the training are they? 2 weeks
Q: Are more shipments due in? (Somewhat Likely | 9[d10]) Yes.
Q: Small arms? (Likely | 8[d10]) Yes.
Q: Who set up the criminals? Organized Shadow lawyer.
Q: Does Sir Fenzies begin to suspect he isn't dealing with the crew of a free trader? (Likely | 8[d10]) Yes.
Q: What does he intend to do about this information? Block / Weather. Keep this from becoming a shitstorm.]

After many hours of interrogations, Sgt. Gytovo has gotten the broad details of the conspiracy out of the prisoners. Eshtam is a bit relieved to see that he did it through psychological interrogation techniques rather than just beating it out of them. Eshtam mostly listens in, but is more concerned with keeping an eye on the criminals. Bov is a reluctant nurse, but he thinks someone should to attend to Palina and Heni, who are doped up on medical slow drug. Slinx keeps watch over Starman Unamshiiguu, who is similarly medicated. Sir Fenzies has medicated himself recreationally, and is left to his drowsy euphoria. The doctor has been doing his best to keep the prisoners conscious for their grilling.

Sgt. Gytovo is conferring with Eshtam about their next move when Bov interrupts. "They don't pay me to figure stuff out," he says, "but it don't take no genius to see that you guys aren't just some bunch of merchants what got in over their heads."

"Where's this going?" asks Eshtam

"Look, I just wanna walk out of this without ending up in a jail or a coffin."

"The way I see it," says Sgt. Gytovo, "you guys have a traitor in your organisation, who's managed to use your smuggling contacts to bring in a load of weapons and wasn't too concerned about blowing you away in order to pick them up."

"This guy won't know anything," Eshtam interrupts, "I say we trade his cooperation now for letting him go when we make our move."

"This is on you if it backfires."

"We have bigger problems. I'm not here to play cops and robbers."

"Fine."

"Alright, Bov, you and your crew go free when we clear out. But I'm going to need your gun until then to prove your bona fides. And let me see Sir Fenzies' comm."

[Q: Is Sir Fenzies' personal comm way of a much higher TL and way better than it needs to be? (Likely | 7[d10]) Yes. TL(9+1d6)=13 - it can call the highport.]

Eshtam puts a call through to the Imperial Navy facilities located on Uloryy highport. Within four hours they have managed to contact the Dikiishgammurga, and set up a secure channel. She makes a full report.

[Q: What are the commander's orders? Abandon / A burden.]

Commander Darus decides that the mission, whilst somewhat successful, has also been compromised, and arranges for evac the following morning. Sgt. Gytovo grudgingly keeps his word, and allows Bov to drive off in the air/raft with his injured compatriots and the doctor just before dawn. An hour later, a pair of g-carriers arrive at the warehouse, full  of marines in battle dress. The party and their prisoners are transported back to the starport in one of the carriers, whose troops stay behind to guard the weapons shipment until it can be collected. The sergeant seems more taciturn than usual during the trip; Slinx quietly informs Eshtam that their escort aren't from the Dikiishgammurga; they're from the Bettina von Arnim, a 30000-ton battle rider, flagship of the Imperial defence fleet stationed at Uloryy.

"Ever been on a ship this big before?" asks Slinx as their pinnace approaches the enormous, weapon-laden cruiser.

"Just once," says Eshtam, "when I was a schoolgirl. Back when the Imperium was sending round an old Azhanti High Lightning class cruiser on a goodwill tour of Foreven and Seven Sisters before it was decommissioned. My class won a tour in some essay contest or something. First time I was ever in space, too."

Sergeant Gytovo speaks, almost for the first time since they were collected by the marines. "Somehow I can't picture you as ever having been a schoolgirl."

The following three days aboard the Bettina are filled with questions, briefings, debriefings, and interviews, both singularly and as a group, conducted by a variety of high-ranking naval officers. The prisoners are doubtlessly subjected to a similar, if slightly more pointed, programme.

On the morning of the fifth day aboard, a pair of Ensigns collect the party from their  breakfast, and march them into the Bettina's command centre. A large number of high-ranking officers are present, including the Commander Darus of the Dikiishgammurga and the Bettina's own Fleet Admiral Vemantir. Sergeant Gytovo and Slinx snap to attention immediately upon seeing her, and Unamshiiguu follows suit, as well as he is able.

"At ease, soldiers," says the Admiral. "I've sent for you all as I thought you might like to see the fruits of your labours. Please, have a seat."

Commander Darus explains, "It seems that certain elements have contracted a mercenary company to perform a 9-week cadre mission on Uloryy, right under everyone's noses. There's a lot of countryside and empty farmland to hide in here, and a sizable group of offworlders brought as seasonal labourers in via low passage hardly raised an eyebrow. The mercenaries were to shape them into a mechanised infantry battalion, then move the lot of them offworld in a bulk freighter to the theatre of operations on Dimmul. Once on Dimmul, the mercs were to have a second ticket waiting for them to assist the battalion in active duty.

"I won't bore you with a summation of the political situation on Dimmul nor the Imperium's official stance on it -- not yet anyway -- but suffice it to say that there is no side in any current conflict in the Dimmul system which has Imperial backing, nor can we allow inaction in this matter to appear to sanction it.

"We are therefore launching a full-scale ground action with fighter and ortillery support in order to neutralise the training camp. I see you bristling, Sergeant. Don't worry, you're not missing anything; the Dikiishgammurga is not one of the ships taking a direct part in this operation. She's still looking for our unidentified visitor, who may very well be wrapped up in this whole affair.

"Besides, you've already captured all their heavy weapons. We're sending such an overwhelming force against them that we don't expect there will be much action at all, just a quick surrender. Then our troops on the ground will stay to convert their camp into a POW compound and guard it whilst we await further orders from High Command. We've already dispatched fast couriers to inform them of the situation at the close of your mission, and sent word to... other interested parties. I'm afraid the four of you will need to remain on the Bettina until we have word from above."

The operation goes much as Commander Darus had hoped; the mercenaries and their charges are far too poorly equipped to think about taking on Imperial marines. Within four hours comes unconditional surrender, and within 72 hours the important prisoners have been identified and ferried up to the Bettina for questioning.

The party are given full use of the officers' club and recreational facilities, though the ship's crew are stand-offish and regard them with more than a little suspicion. Some of the senior officers smart at the idea of having to share their space with enlisted men and a civilian. Eshtam and Gytovo spend most of their free time alone in their respective quarters, Slinx and Unamshiiguu play a lot of cards. Some personal items and clean uniforms are brought over to them from their ship, and Eshtam's duffle bag is retrieved for her from the Galatea, though without her weapons. The Commander checks in on everyone from time to time, and quietly slips Eshtam some of the dossiers from interrogation sessions with the mercenary officers.

A week and a half plods slowly by. Finally there is buzz around the ship that some VIPs have come aboard. But the waiting continues. Finally, orders come through; there will be a briefing the next day at 1100 (ship time).

Two ensigns arrive at Eshtam's quarters at 1045 precisely. They salute in greeting, and one tersely explains they are to escort her to the war room. The journey is passed in silence.

Inside the war room, fourteen seats have been arranged around the table/holo-projector. Eshtam is ushered into the only empty seat, right next to Sgt. Gytovo wearing his full dress uniform.

There are six navy representatives, three of which are flag officers. Eshtam recognises Commander Darus and Fleet Admiral Vemantir; the rest are unknown to her. Three representatives of the IISS are present. Eshtam is almost surprised to see Special Executive Thurmond, her former SpecOps handler. She recognises the other two as members of his staff. Rounding out the group are a Imperial nobleman in ceremonial dress and two smartly-dressed assistants. Slinx and Unamshiiguu are nowhere to be seen. Amongst all the pressed uniforms and finery, Eshtam feels positively underdressed.

Commander Darus addresses the room. "Ladies, gentlemen, my lord, you've all been briefed on the situation here on Uloryy, and read the dossiers detailing the mission undertaken by Sergeant Gytovo and Ms. Dreejeh, and the intelligence gleaned therefrom. You are all, I believe, in agreement as to the next phase, so let me sum up the salient points for the benefit of our two operatives.

"There is an unknown agency at work within Imperial space, attempting to start another war on Dimmul. They have been moving soldiers and equipment within Imperial borders for some time, probably to keep off the radar of Dimmul's various factions. They can't intend to do this indefinitely, as their willingness to burn their bridges demonstrates.

"There are currently six hot wars -- five on the ground and one in space -- involving the mainworld, but these have been dragging on for some time now, and are mostly stalemates. The beginning of a new war, one with potentially massive outside involvement, will further destabilise the system and may start to spill over into neighbouring systems. The Imperium would prefer not to have an interstellar war right outside its borders, so it is imperative we trace this back to its source and eliminate the threat.

"You two have been chosen to continue on with this mission, in light of your recent exemplary success, and with your individual skills and service records in mind."

"If I may interrupt," says the Baron, "I would like to point out that there are certain... holes in Ms. Dreejeh's service record, especially at the tail end of it before her dismissal. Might I ask, just what is it in her service record that makes her so suitable for this assignment?"

Thurmond smiles across the table at the Baron. "Sorry, Trev, 'need to know' and all that."

"All indications," continues Commander Darus, "point to Dimmul itself, so that's where you'll be headed. The Dikiishgammurga will deliver you in-system. You'll be taken to the Imperial Embassy, disguised as relief troops for the security detail. I'll be disembarking with you, to stay at the embassy for the duration as the representative of Naval Intelligence. We'll be running this mission in tandem with the Ministry of Justice. The Baron's already got a controller in place on Dimmul. You'll be working with some of her agents on the ground. The IISS will be taking a somewhat less direct role, but Special Executive Thurmond assures me that he has couriers on standby in case normal diplomatic channels become compromised. Now, I believe it's time to turn this briefing over to the Ministry. Dr. Uikstra, you have the floor."

One of the baron's aides, a strangely ageless woman with hair pulled severely back into a bun, stands and activates the holo display. A globe representing Dimmul appears, hovering above the centre of the table. "Thanks, Mike," she begins, "Right, if everyone will please page down to section 1.2.15 of the dossier..."

* * *

After the briefing, Thurmond visits Eshtam in her quarters.

"So I guess this means I'm back in the IISS?" she asks.

"It's not that simple, Esh. You were one of my best operatives, but after that last mission you were giving off just a little too much heat. The mission was buried, but you still had to go. I never intended it to be for long, just enough so that things could die down a little. The detached duty office would have kept tabs on you, so I could call you back in when the time was right."

"Seems right to me."

"It isn't. Not... not really. Look, when Mike -- Commander Darus -- recognised your name, he knew you were one of mine. That's why he sent you in, in the first place. He knows better than to ask me questions I can't answer, and for old friendship's sake he probably won't go digging. But this is his show, make no mistake. Never you mind the Ministry of Justice posturing. This is strictly a military operation. He pulled me in as a courtesy.

"Fine. But what about the baron? He seems pretty keen to know my record. He's MoJ, and has got an Imperial Warrant... is he just being thorough, or is this about T'nan?"

"T'nan never happened. Get that through your head. And don't worry about any Imperial Warrants; the order to bury the mission came from pretty high up."