Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Solo Traveller - Episode 17: Anybody home? (9Qs #7)

Where can the heroic motivation be most effectively redeemed?
Be the PCs first:
• roll a d4 twice to declare an act of (1)
defiance, (2) infiltration that aims to bring an end to the threats.
• 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 Q6.

=Dystopian palace.

Dimmul/Foreven (2936 C587A7A-C) / Date: 279-1106

There is an uneasy peace aboard the CherGaSen scout ship. Lt. Gytovo thinks he can take Dame Giikagin at her word, but the Ilparan soldiers are uncomfortable working with the 'enemy'. Dame Giikagin orders her subordinates to accept that they are prisoners of war, and Lt. Gytovo admonishes his 'unit' to treat them in scrupulously in accordance with the Imperial Rules of War, lest they be the ones responsible for the Imperium severing ties with their nation.

The following morning, the camouflage netting is pulled down off the ship, and Eshtam fires up the engines. They are soon in the air, Eshtam piloting the ship at a leisurely pace, flying NOE to avoid radar detection.

Not quite an hour later, the ship reaches the outskirts of the town of Nulfaora, a sleepy resort-town of only about 12000 permanent inhabitants. It is nestled in a wooded valley at the base of a small, heavily forested mountain. The Presidential Palace of the Republic of Erhai stands atop the low mountain, looking down over the town. A military base is less-obviously situated within the mountain itself.

Eshtam puts the ship down on the outskirts of the town in a large, empty parking lot. Dame Giikagin tries the comm to let her contact know they've arrived, but there is no answer. Eshtam tries to get a channel through, but even she is unable. There's no chatter on any civilian channels either.

"I don't like it," says the Lieutenant, echoing everyone's thoughts.

Eshtam, Lt. Gytovo, and Dame Giikagin don flak vests out of the ship's locker. Eshtam and the lieutenant take a pair of ACRs, and give the noble back her pistol. Lugalaa has her combat armour and gauss rifle. They all walk down the ramp and scan the area around the ship. Nothing moves, and there is no sound save the occasional call of a grunnet from the woods, or the cough of the desgo-birds soaring on the breeze. Lt. Gytovo orders Deevi and Juild to stay behind on the ship to guard the prisoners. The rest of them walk slowly across the vacant lot up to the tourist centre at the edge of town. They can see through the large and copious windows that there is no one inside. "I know it's the off season," says Dame Giikagin, "but you think there'd be someone at work today."

Eshtam slips off ahead by herself to get a feel for the place [Recon roll 11+4; this succeeds even at a level of Formidable]. She comes back a few minutes later.

"It's a ghost town," she says. "not a person moving on the street. And once you get a few blocks in, there's burnt out vehicles and buildings everywhere. But at least there's no bodies."

"We'd better get a little closer," says Lt. Gytovo, "and see if there's anyone left here at all. And then see about the palace. I'll wave a white flag if we spot any patrols. But, Corporal, keep your gauss rifle handy."

"Oh, I was gonna, sir."

[There will be 1d3=2 encounters as they move through the town.

Encounter #1: Unusually quiet street (actually, this set the tone for the whole place)]

They walk into the town very slowly, very cautiously. Dame Giikagin is noticeably agitated, but does her best to put on a brave face. They farther into town they go, the worse it looks. They begin to pass one burnt out building after another, and many of those that are still intact are riddled with bullet holes. Some streets are cratered from artillery fire, and wrecked vehicles are everywhere -- mostly civilian but a fair few are military. Eshtam and the Lieutenant examine everything, trying to figure out who was involved. Lugalaa is quiet, comporting herself like a proper soldier... until they pass the wreckage of an armoured personnel carrier.

"Awwwwwww," coos Lugalaa, pointing at the half-blasted insignia, "how cuuuute! What kind of animal d'ya think it's supposed to be? It's adorable, whatever it is!"

"It's a drossenar," says Eshtam. "They're native to Veegint... like the mercenaries who owned this wreck. An outfit called 'Hean's Drossenars', after their Captain."

"Never heard of 'em," says Lt. Gytovo.

"No reason you should've, Lieutenant. Hean tried to recruit me when I was looking for a way off Veegint. I turned him down. I didn't want to be a soldier, especially not one who ended up here..."

"Let me know how that works out for you."

"So, uh, what's the plan?" asks Cpl. Lugalaa.

"We should still go to the Presidential Palace," says the Lieutenant, "and try make contact with the good Dame's agent, and figure out where everybody went. Looks like they evacuated the civilian population before the fighting started, but the army should still be here."

"Won't the Erhaians just shoot us, sir?"

"We're going in as representatives of the Imperium. That ought to make them think twice."

"No offence, sir, but why do you think that will make a difference?"

"They can't risk the Imperium backing their enemies."

"Besides," adds Eshtam, "we've got an ace-in-the-hole in the form of a fifty thousand ton Imperial cruiser in orbit above our heads."

"Would that be the one you were unable to contact... ma'am?"

"Just keep walking, Corporal."

They keep going, having lapsed into silence. It soon becomes obvious that most of the destroyed military vehicles are of a lower tech level than is standard on Dimmul, and now that they know what to look for, the stylised drossenar insignia shows up again and again. There can be little doubt that Hean's Drossenars were not the victors.

[Encounter #2: 4 soldiers. Eshtam's Recon (+4) vs. theirs (INT 12, Recon-1 = +3): 12+4 vs. 6+3)]

A patrol of four Erhaian soldiers is finally spotted in a winding residential street. They are ostensibly on patrol, but are so careless that they don't spot the four people trotting up behind them until they have closed to well within 10 metres, and then only because Lt. Gytovo calls out, "Parley!"

The surprised soldiers wheel about to face their pursuers. [reaction: 9, intrigued]

"Oh, hey, um... hi!" says the leader, a young man of about 20.

"We're representatives of the Imperium," says Lt. Gytovo. "We need to speak with someone in charge. This whole planet's going to be at war with itself if we don't act quickly."

"Oh... uh, I really don't know anything about that. I mean, I'd like to help, but..."

"Sarge," says one of the other soldiers, "ain't that girl wearing Ilparan combat armour...?"

"Oh, I'm with them," says Lugalaa.

"Quiet, corporal!" barks Lt. Gytovo. "I'll do the talking here. Who's your CO, soldier?"

"Sir! That'd be Captain Kashudaagir, sir! But I'm not sure he can help, either... sir!"

"Call in, then. Tell him you've got four people representing the Imperium on the ground, and 50,000 tons representing us in orbit, and it's his call which he wants to deal with."

"Oh, shit... Miinda, make the call!"

[Q: Does the call have the desired effect? 50/50: 75, No.
Q: What happens instead? Communicate / Failure]

The Erhaian soldier activates her communicator. "Patrol 2-J to base, patrol 2-J to base, over... Patrol 2-J to base, do you copy? Base? Hello, anybody there?" She looks at her communicator with a scowl, knocks it against her helmet several times, then repeats her call on several different frequencies. Finally she gives up. "There's a lot of interference. I think we're being jammed."

"Great," says Eshtam. "We need to get to the compound -- quietly. I think someone may be trying to keep us away."

"Do you think we've been set up, mi'lady?" Lt. Gytovo asks the noble. "How well do you trust your agent?"

"He's been well paid by my government to... oh, I see your point."

"Right," says Lt. Gytovo, raising his weapon, "we may have been set up by a serial traitor. I need the four of you to take us to meet your captain, or someone else with rank. You'll have to lead the way. Nothing personal, but we have to count on your friends not to shoot through you."

[the Erhaian soldiers need to fail a morale check to obey the orders of someone whom they should, by rights, be taking prisoner. They are just recruits, so Morale is only (1d6+1=) 2; they unsurprisingly fail the check on 2d6.]

They march through side streets, winding their way towards the compound, or at least the restricted area at the foot of the mountain.

[Difficult (-2) Recon check to avoid other patrols on the way: Eshtam rolls 8+4, success]

Be the GM next:
Use the random idea generator to inspire an encounter with relevant threats
committed to preventing the heroes' success.
Be the PCs once more:
Use the heroes' abilities to respond to the threats' resistance as per their heroic
motivation and the RPG's rules.

Oppress / Allies

[Q: Is compound full of activity? 50/50: 98, Exceptional No.
Q: Is the president here? Unlikely: 33: Yes + Event: Remote event - Gratify / Opposition]

"We're almost there, sir. I'll see if I can get a quiet word with the captain. He'll know what to..." The young soldier's words trail off as the sound of explosions rips the air. Units of grav carriers are moving in from north, gunboats have just engaged in a firefight with Erhaian units on the ground, and artillery units hidden in the trees are about to start pounding the government palace on the mountainside.

"I see Tetrarchy insignia," says the Lieutenant, "but who do those yellow grav tanks belong to?"

One of the soldiers looks where the lieutenant is pointing. "Aw, hell!" he exclaims, "They's Nlursin Polis tanks. They's supposed to be our allies. My sister goes to uni at N-Pol Tech! This can't be happening!"

[Q: Can the party reach the compound? Unlikely: 07, Yes.]

As the explosions get nearer their position, the Erhaian soldiers panic and break into a dead run towards the nearest checkpoint. The rest have no choice but to follow them. The checkpoint guards wave everyone quickly into a tunnel before they even have time to realise they're not all Erhaian.

[Q: Is the captain there? Unlikely: 34, Yes.
reaction=12, Genuinely friendly]

The Erhaian soldiers are at a loss what to do with their new guests, so just cover them half-heartedly with their weapons. The young soldier runs off to find Captain Kashudaagir, his CO, and brings him back quickly. After a brief conference with Dame Giikagin, he agrees to escort them into the compound and bring them to the Generalissima's attention.

They surrender their weapons to the Captain, and he leads them through the plasteel-reinforced tunnels into the command centre, where they are introduced to [rank 1d6+4=7 on the CT Mercenary table] Brigadier General Jayn Uztri, a silver-haired veteran whose uniform is running out of space for campaign ribbons [reaction=5: Hostile, may attack].

Dame Giikagin start explaining the situation, but the Brigadier General cuts her off sharply. "Let me get this straight: a member of a belligerent government, an enemy grunt, and a pair of self-styled Imperial agents show up on my doorstep demanding to speak to the commander-in-chief about a plot by an offworld gangster to threaten the whole planet  for reasons unknown, so we need to make peace with everyone right now. And all this whilst we're in the midst of a surprise assault by one of our former allies. Give me one good reason why I should believe you jokers... and why I shouldn't just have the lot of you shot?"


  1. "Uh, well . . . there is our 50,000 ton Imperial Cruiser in orbit . . . who do you want them to side with? Is that a good enough reason?"

    -- Jeff