Monday, 31 August 2015

Solo Traveller - Episode 19: Convergence

Dimmul/Foreven (2936 C587A7A-C) / Date: 281-1106

"I think," says Lt. Gytovo, "that we should try to be diplomatic. Odds are they got left in the lurch like everybody else in this whole sad affair. I say we trade amnesty for a ride to high command."

Everyone agrees. They hike for two more hours to get to the road leading up the side of the mountain. Major Vetne is again tied to a tree, and gagged for good measure. One of the severely injured soldiers is feeling well enough that she can sit against a tree opposite the prisoner, and keep him covered with an ACR. Eshtam and Lt. Gytovo lead the other four mercenaries up the road.

The guards walking outside the ship are getting careless. Lt. Gytovo has led his unit most of the way across the parking lot without them noticing. He shouts out "Parley!" to get their attention, waving the whitest shreds of fabric he could find.

[the soldiers are Surprised; encounter range = medium;
reaction=4, hostile, attack on 8+ (roll=3, do not attack)
Our heroes do not know this, but the soldiers are Caidro, Nakko, and a random (1d6=)guy (#232) from the Veterans supplement

Q: What does Caidro want? Delay/Tactics]

The three soldiers are all wearing ballistic cloth armour jackets, but in three different styles. One wears generic-looking camouflage and has a pistol holstered on his hip (vet#232), the other is wearing grey coveralls and holds an ACR (Nakko), and the leader, who steps forward to talk, wears a tacky souvenir t-shirt ("Dive in to Oothoom!") and has a submachinegun on a sling (Caidro). He looks over the the new arrivals -- four in combat armour, two in fatigues, all with gauss rifles -- and runs his hand through his hair nervously. "You look like you've seen better days," he says.

"Yeah. We're just trying to get home."

"Yeah. I understand. Let me get the boss," he lies. Caidro trots back up the ramp and into the ship. He returns with four more armed soldiers.

"Now how about you put those guns down and those hands up?" says Caidro.

[Q: What does the crew of the Hekabe do? Mistrust / Dispute (as seen in Star Trader part 13)]

Lt. Gytovo starts backing away slowly. The soldiers behind him make no movement either to raise or put down their rifles. "Come on," says the Lieutenant, "we've all seen enough action for a while. The fighting's over."

"Shut up," says Caidro. "I'll do the talking here. You're outnumbered."

"You're outgunned."

Just then a bedraggled-looking woman comes bounding down the ramp out of the ship, brandishing a shotgun like one unused to firearms. "What's going on?" shouts Inty. "Who are they?"

"We're Imperial observers," says Lt. Gytovo. "We're trying to stop a war from consuming this whole planet, and maybe spilling over into other systems."

"Shut up," shout Caidro, "Shut up! Shut up!"

Then everyone starts talking at once, each shouting to be heard over the others.

[Q: Do things get messy? 50/50: 07, Exceptional Yes.
Q: Who fires first? (1d6): 1-2 'Imperial' team, 3-4 Caidro's mercs, 5 Inty fires shotgun into the air to get people's attention, 6 everyone

1d6=6, everyone

For the combat, I am using the expanded combat rules out of German Traveller book 2, which are I believe taken from Azhanti High Lightning, and rather similar to Striker. I am ignoring Action Points in favour of the classic Traveller 1 action/round for expediency.

All merc stats (#s) from Veterans, except Caidro who got his own character sheet when he was introduced. Heldamin's mercs were all selected from the TL15 Artillery characters. The Tetrarchy mercs are the first 4 TL13 ones; they each start with a light wound. Attack bonus (Att) for everyone includes skill&DEX modifiers. *Eshtam only gets her full bonus for single shots, not autofire]

Name  (#)   Sx Wounds Weapon    Att ML
----------- -- ------ ------    --- --
Alfie (152) m  light  Gauss Rfl  +0  8
Betman(153) m  light  Gauss Rfl  +0  6
Gamis (154) f  light  Gauss Rfl  +0  3
Dellt (155) m  light  Gauss Rfl  +1  5
Eshtam      f         Gauss Rfl  +5*
Lt. Gytovo  m         Gauss Rfl  +3

Ypsla (211) f         Revolver   +0  7
Phil  (213) m         ACR        +1  6
Xi Xi (204) f         ACR        +0  3
Psiro (206) m         ACR        +0  4
Omig  (232) m         Auto Pst   +1 12
Nakko (222) m         ACR        +0 16
Caidro      m         SMG        +0  7


[Round 1
Since everyone is out in the open, they need to make a ML check in order to attack instead of just diving for cover this round. Since Inty and Eshtam are PCs, they don't have a morale score but would both seek cover. Lt. Gytovo is a quasi-PC, and I know he'd stand and fight.]

Half of each side rush for cover as weapons are drawn; Caidro's mercenaries duck behind the landing gears of the Hekabe, Lt. Gytovo's squad rush behind the empty crates and the meson gun's generator (being a fusion generator, it is more than resistant to small arms fire).

Lt. Gytovo, Alfie, and Betman spray the mercs with bursts from their gauss weapons; Ypsla and Omig return fire with their pistols, Nakko with an ACR.

Bullets fly every which way, but only Ypsla is hit (by Lt. Gytovo), and falls to the ground seriously wounded.

[Round 2]

All the shooters who began in the open have now moved under cover.

Gamis and Dellt catch Xi Xi in a crossfire; she is killed instantly. Lt. Gytovo's fire grazes Omig's arm [light wound, no KO]. Phil hits Gamis squarely in the chest; she goes down bleeding heavily (serious wound).

[Round 3]

Inty has been yelling for everyone to stop. Her voice is just starting to be heard above the din.

Phil, Psiro, and Caidro panic [fail Morale checks], and retreat up the ramp into the ship.

Lt. Gytovo hits Omig again, but his armour absorbs the impact. Eshtam draws a bead on Nakko and squeezes off a single shot; he falls, barely clinging onto life (serious wound).

Inty is still yelling for everyone to stop shooting.

[Q: Do people stop? Very Unlikely: 19, Yes.]

Omig is only the only mercenary from the ship left standing outside. He makes a show of putting his gun on the ground, then cautiously emerges from behind the landing gear.

Lt. Gytovo lowers his gun but does not discard it. The others follow his lead.

"Imperial observers, huh?" asks Inty. "How do we know you are who you say you are?"

"Who the fuck are you, anyway?" counters Eshtam.

"We need to all sit and discuss this rationally," says Lt. Gytovo, "before anyone else gets needlessly hurt."

"He's right," says Eshtam, more calmly. "And I need to contact the Maud. We have vital information."

"Ummm..." says Inty.

"What?"

"I think we have a problem."

"What?" say Eshtam And Lt. Gytovo in chorus.

"We were hired to bring these mercenaries... we were told it was just a transport job... I... I think we were set up."

"Look," says the Lieutenant, "I got a bunch of tired and wounded soldiers that just want to go home. Can you get everybody out here so we can talk?"

"I can... I can get most of them. I'm afraid our employer is indisposed."

"Your employer?" asks Eshtam. "Who...?"

"She's a Zoan diplomat. Or so she said."

"Oh. Not who I'd hoped. Get them all out here, then."

Inty goes back towards the ramp to find Caidro and Diula peeking out, looking a bit pale. She tells them to come outside without any hardware, and have Orneev fetch the medkits out of the ship's locker. Caidro comes out empty handed, the rest follow. The mercenaries outside lay their guns in a pile. Lt. Gytovo orders one to check the wounded, another to fetch the rest of their party. Caidro does the same. No one present has any medical skill, but Inty and Eshtam, at least, have had first aid training [medic-0 from the Jack of all Trades skill], so they tend to the injured as best they are able. Bandages are applied, and the casualties are helped into bunks on the ship. Xi Xi's body is covered with a blanket and put in the cargo hold.

Then everyone reconvenes outside. Inty gets them to all sit in a circle, and tries to mediate the discussion as best she is able. She's almost surprised when it works [though she shouldn't be; she has Leader-2]. Everyone is told they get a vote, but the options aren't as clear cut as perhaps they should be. Some wish to stay right where they are, some wish to get to neutral territory, and some insist that the only way forward is to fly the Hekabe up to the Imperial battlecruiser in orbit.

[Those who are seriously wounded, a prisoner (Major Vetne), or passed out drunk in their staterooms (Heldamin) aren't voting. Eshtam and Gytovo have an obvious vote, the rest roll 1d6 on the appropriate table.

Mercenaries' options:
1 leave ship and walk to neutral territory
2 surrender to Imperium
3 stay at resort indefinitely
4 start combat anew*
5 agree with majority
6 stall for time


*this will look like stalling for time unless there are a lot who wish to fight. There's a pile  of gauss rifles not 20m away.

The Hekabe's crew have slightly different options. I'm rolling twice for Inty and takinge the lower result, as she is leaning towards letting the Imperium settle the matter, but is afraid of the possible consequences.

Merchants' options:
1-2 surrender to imperium
3   stall
4   agree with majority
5   kill outsiders
6   kill Heldamin's mercs


Results of the vote:

Leave: Alfie
Surrender: Eshtam, Gytovo, Phil, Inty
Stay at resort: Psiro, Caidro
Agree with majority: Diula
Kill Heldamin's mercs: Orneev (not voiced, appears to be stalling)
Stall: Betman, Gamis, Omig

So...]

"Well," says Inty, "It looks like the motion to surrender has carried the day."

"I don't think so," says Betman, "there are some of us who still haven't voted."

"So vote!" says Inty. "If you don't like the options presented, feel free to propose a new one. But if even one of you votes to surrender, that's it. All the others together wouldn't be enough to swing either of the other camps."

"What if we come up with a good idea?" says Betman. "Can other people change their votes?"

"I don't care," says Eshtam. "They can if they want to. So do you have another idea?"

"Wait, wait," interjects Caidro, "what if we don't have a majority in the end. Can those that want to leave still leave?"

Eshtam shrugs. "I don't know. I guess."

"Hey," says Betman, "Why does everyone keep looking to her for answers. Who put her in charge?"

Lt. Gytovo points up at the sky.

[Q: What do the stallers want? Release / Pain: Not to get in trouble. The mercs want to activate their repatriation bonds in neutral territory.
Q: Did Heldamin say anything about the bonds? 50/50: 95, Exceptional no. NB: her silence following the revelation from her employer is reflected in the last Star Trader post -- I played the crossover bits in tandem. It will all be revealed in a few paragraphs.

The stallers re-roll: Betman changes to Surrender, Gamis, Omig, and Orneev each roll a 6.]

Betman looks confused, then suddenly understands the implication of the Lieutenant's skyward gesture. He falls silent for a moment, then clears his throat. "Maybe we should let the Imperium handle this after all," he says. No one else speaks up.

"Right," Eshtam says as she stands up and brushes the dust from her fatigues, "I'm going onto the bridge and calling the Maud right now. Any objections?"

[Q: Any objections? 50/50: No.]

Eshtam goes to into the ship, with Inty and Caidro in tow. She sits in the first officer's seat, and switches on the ship's communicator. "This could take a while," she says. "I suggest you get comfortable." Inty sits in her captain's seat, and unconsciously begins to fidget with the chair's swivel controls. Caidro slumps in the navigator's chair.

[Eshtam needs a Commo roll of 9+ to get through over all the chatter: 10+1=success; it still takes 1d6x10=30minutes.]

After half an hour of waiting in the communications queue, Eshtam finally sees the receiver light start blinking. The face of a harried comms officer aboard the Maud appears on her screen. "This is the Imperial battlecruiser Maud," he says, barely suppressing a yawn.

"Maud, I'd like to request a song."

"A song? What--? We're in the midst of a planet-wide crisis. This is no time for stupid j--"

"It's a code phrase! Look it up!"

"A code... uh, let me... oh! Ma'am! I'm sorry, ma'am, it's been a long shift. Commander Darus isn't on the bridge right now. I'll track him down for you. Just a moment..."

Whilst she's waiting, Eshtam glances over to see Inty and Caidro staring at one another in amazement at what has just transpired. Inty is about to say something when the Maud's comm officer interrupts. "Ma'am, commander Darus is in his quarters. He'll take the call there. Putting you through..."

The screen goes black for a moment, then Commander Darus appears, still rubbing the sleep from his eyes. "Sorry, been on duty for about 30 hours straight. They only relieved me an hour ago. So, Ms. Dreejeh, you had a request?"

"Something the whole family will enjoy."

"You're lucky not to be alone for the holidays."

"Has anyone ever told you your code phrases are rather twee?"

"Come now, Ms. Dreejeh. What's the point of working for Naval Intelligence if you can't talk like a spy off the vids now and then? So who's with you?"

"Me and the Lieutenant found a far trader on the ground, the -- hey, Captain, what's she called?"

"The Hekabe."

"The Hekabe. We have a prisoner, mercenaries from two sides, some lost imperial free traders, and the ship itself. The mercs just want to activate their repatriation bonds. Are you collecting them up there, or should we drop them at the port?"

"You haven't heard?" says Darus, "All the bonds are rubbish. The money was never put in escrow, and the governments that had contracted the mercenaries no longer exist."

[Q: Does anything happen at that revelation? 50/50: Yes.
Q: What? Break / Portals]

Caidro looks shocked, then leaps from his seat. "I'm getting the hell off this ship," he says as he sprints from the bridge. Inty looks shocked, but Eshtam just rolls her eyes and goes back to the communicator.

"We need to come upstairs."

"That would be best. I'll put you back through to the bridge and let them know you're to be given top priority to dock with the Maud. You might want to let the captain talk with them to make sure you have all the necessary clearances before you take off. So you don't get shot down."

Inty makes the arrangements whilst Eshtam goes back outside to tell the rest the news.  Everyone else has agreed to surrender to the Imperial Navy except Caidro and Alfie. No one tries to stop them. The wounded are helped into the ship, Major Vetne is locked in a stateroom, and then they're underway.

[Q: Any incidents? 50/50: No.]

Eshtam and Inty are alone in the cockpit as the ship lifts off. Inty is flying, Eshtam is monitoring the comms. They are barely 100 metres in the air when she presses the call button. "Maud, we're under way, but there are two enemy combatants -- one a person of interest -- on the ground where we left. They're standing next to a meson accelerator so they shouldn't be hard to spot."

"We see it, ma'am. We'll arrange for a pick up."

"I thought you were going to let them go." says Inty.

"I changed my mind."

[Q: Is Caidro captured? 50/50: 29, Yes.]

The rest of the flight is passed in silence. The Hekabe flies alongside the Maud, practically disappearing against the bulk of the 50,000 tonne battlecruiser. The ships join airlocks, and when the hatch opens a squad of Imperial marines in battle dress step through into the trader. Everyone who can walk is taken aboard the cruiser for processing, whilst the squad medic remains on the Hekabe to see to the wounded. Only Eshtam and Lt. Gytovo are afforded any respect by the marines, and only once they have been positively identified.

"Processing" lasts [2d6=] seven days. Eshtam and Lt. Gytovo are billeted together as, despite the size of the Maud, space is still at a premium, especially given the number of prisoners brought back by various missions. They are both given marine fatigues to wear, but only the Lieutenant has rank insignia, and neither have any unit markings. They spend two days in lengthy debriefings, then are given use of the officers' mess whilst they wait for their next summons. Commander Darus stops by to see them a few times, only for brief social visits, though he does pass them some dossiers as information is compiled. One day he does not appear, and instead sends word that they should have an early night; they're required at a briefing at 08:00 the next morning.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Solo Traveller - Episode 18: Behind enemy lines (9Qs #8)

Q8.
Where does the final showdown between the heroes and the enemy take place in
relation to the results of Q7?
Be the GM first:
• Use the random idea generator to inspire a dramatic finish that brings the heroes,
their enemy, and any other relevant participants into an ultimate confrontation.
• Choose one or two of the following or roll a d6 twice for an encounter in which
(3-4) the enemy takes aggressive action
against unsuspecting victims
all within the context of the encounters in Questions 1-7.
• 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 Q7.

[Waste/Bureaucracy]


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

A major scurries up to the Brigadier General Uztri and salutes smartly. "Ma'am, the Generalissima has requested an immediate audience with prisoners. Ma'am!" Eshtam is sure she sees the man wink at Dame Giikagin.

The prisoners are remanded into the major's custody, guarded by a pair of armoured soldiers. They leave the command centre and march to the lift. When they emerge onto a higher floor, the major orders the soldiers to remove the Ilparan to a comfortable holding area, and states that he will look after the VIPs. They march Corporal Lugalaa down the corridor as he ushers the remaining three into a nearby office.

"Thank the Star of Day," says Dame Giikagin once the door has closed, "I was beginning to worry that you'd been caught, or... or worse. Lieutenant, Eshtam, meet my agent, Major Vetne."

"Please," says the Major, "take a seat. I'll make a call and see about getting you that meeting."

As she is getting comfortable, Eshtam notices too late that Major Vetne went from his gun rather than his communicator. He shoots Dame Giikagin in the head then trains his pistol on her and Lt. Gytovo. "Don't move, please. My employer may wish you to live through this, and I should hate to disappoint him."

He produces a non-regulation (and TL15) commo from his desk drawer, and speaks into it. "Your majesty, it's Major Vetne."

"Yeeeees?" comes the reply after a few moments, a man's voice with a slightly lazy drawl.

"I've cleaned up after myself as you requested, Your Majesty. I have the Imperials here now. What do you want me to do with them?"

"Oh, I don't mind. You're all probably doomed anyway. I just wanted to make extra sure Dame G didn't escape. Bye!"

Just then explosions begin to rock the base, seemingly from within [the effects of the meson gun operated by Heldamin's mercenaries outside the Hekabe in Star Trader part 13. The meson beam can pass through solid rock into the base's interior, so it may as well be outside in plain sight].

A look of terror crosses the Major Vetne's face as he realises death is staring over his shoulder. Lt. Gytovo takes advantage of the Major's momentary consternation and springs out of his chair at him. Eshtam is right behind him.

Lt. Gytovo grabs his arm and smashes his hand into the wall, sending his pistol clattering to the floor [opposed grappling checks: 10 vs. 7 = disarmed]. Eshtam scoops up the gun and turns it on the surprised Major, who stands stock still [failed Morale roll].

Lt. Gytovo twists Major Vetne's arm behind his back and shoves him up roughly against a wall. Eshtam puts the gun in his face.

"No, wait! I have information. Let me live; I'll help you get to Ladver."

"We need a decent communicator," says Eshtam as another explosion booms through the base.

"Take mine!"

"I was thinking of something not provided by the psychopath who's trying to kill everyone."

"I see your point. I can get you something." More explosions.

"Let's move out."

[Q: Is Major Vetne lying? 50/50: 35, Yes.
Q: Does anyone confront them in the chaos? 50/50: 73, No.]

They rush through the base after the Major, avoiding the lifts in favour of service stairwells. Many soldiers lie dead and injured in the tunnels, many more have dropped everything in their flight to safety. Lt. Gytovo grabs some ACRs from the floor as they run through an area that had been hit particularly hard. Eshtam pockets a comm. The Major keeps his hands where the others can see them.

When they get to the back hangar...

[Q: Are the vehicles all taken? Very Likely: 66, Yes +event: NPC action - Kill / Masses (see Q9 wrap-up)]

...they find that all vehicles still capable of movement have long since departed. They flee outside into the forest as another explosion seems to shake the whole mountain.

"What now?" asks Lt. Gytovo.

"I'll see if I can contact our friends in the scout ship," says Eshtam, "then fly us up to the cruiser. I'd say our mission here is well and truly finished."

"No arguments from me. But we'd better keep moving until nightfall. And I suggest we maintain radio silence until then. I don't want us to get caught in any mop up operations."

They make their way through the forest. Eshtam leads, followed by Major Vetne, with Lt. Gytovo behind. The major has been informed that his value as a prisoner is merely a matter of conjecture, and that any attempt to flee will result in a back full of lead. He has no reason to doubt the truth of these statements. Sporadic sounds of gunfire are heard during their march, but they see no one.

Towards evening, there is a great rumbling in the distance. All three turn at once to see an angry red sky, and the top of a mushroom cloud over a distant mountain. Major Vetne makes a religious hand gesture in spite of himself. When he finally can tear his eyes away from the terrible sight, he sees Lt. Gytovo aiming a rifle at his head.

"I... I didn't know..." he stammers. "My job was just to get Ilpara and the Republic fighting, and implicate the CherGaSen government. Then the Tetrarchy could sweep in and reclaim the territory that was rightfully theirs, and put an end to the Generalissima and her renegade government once and for all! This wasn't the plan. I've been had. We all have."

"Good to know," says the Lieutenant through gritted teeth. "Now that we have a clearer picture of what's going on, we won't be needing to keep you around any more."

"Hey," says Eshtam, "not like this. Put the gun down. This fuck will get what he deserves, but not like this."

"He's a murderer," says Lieutenant Gytovo.

"But you aren't. Put the gun down and let's keep moving until it gets dark. We're still on a mission, and we don't want to come back empty handed. You're better than this. That's why you signed up, isn't it? C'mon, Tendhas, you're better than this."

Maybe her words were sinking in, or maybe he's just shocked to hear Eshtam call him by his first name. Either way, the rifle dips half-heartedly, and then he lowers it entirely. Major Vetne still stands wide-eyed, afraid to lower his hands, or move at all.

"You're right," mutters the Lieutenant, "you're right. Just don't call me by my first name again, 'kay? Only me mum does that."

They spend a miserable, chilly night without a fire. Eshtam and the Lieutenant huddle uncomfortably together for warmth, sleeping in shifts to stand watch. Major Vetne sleeps across from them, as best as he is able, with his arms tied behind his back around a tree.

Eshtam finds some edible bark for their joyless and meagre breakfast. There were some inviting-looking berries, but the Major, as a local, confirmed her suspicion that they were poisonous [she made a Survival roll, Lt. Gytovo missed his despite actually having a higher skill level]. Before they move out, Eshtam tries the commo she picked up, but it seems to have died -- probably due to the EMP from the nukes, she thinks. She tosses it aside and they set off.

[There will be 1d3 encounters each day on the CT chart. 61-66 will be an animal encounter, any nonsensical result will indicate no encounter.

1d3=2 checks today. The first encounter check was Rowdies, so no encounter

The second was 2d=6 soldiers on patrol
side: 1-2 Republic of Erhai, 3-4 Tetrarchy, 5-6 Nlursin Polis
even = government troops, odd = mercenaries

1d6=3: tetrarchy mercs
TL: 10+1d3=13

Q: What is their status? Failure / Adversities; their mission was a failure and they're cut off too. 1d6= 6 (all) of them are wounded.

I rolled for each one on the Striker damage table: 4 have light wounds, 2 are seriously wounded (L:mfmm, S:mf)

encounter range: Long, no surprise
reaction=9, intrigued]

Moving out at dawn, they soon spot movement in the distance. A unit or four soldiers in combat armour are about 50m ahead in a clearing. Lt. Gytovo prods the Major in the back with his ACR. "Well?"

"No idea," says the Major. "Offworlders, I'd guess. They appear to have Tetrarchy markings on their pauldrons."

"Eshtam, you cover this piece of shit. I'm going to try to parley with our friends over there."

The lieutenant gives Eshtam his rifle, and walks towards the soldiers with open hands. One of them walks slowly out to meet him, also unarmed. They confer for a few minutes, then Lt. Gytovo waves to Eshtam to come forward.

There are six mercenaries in all, four walking wounded and two with injuries so severe they cannot stand on their own. The acting unit commander, Lance Sergeant Dellt, explains their situation. "We were part of the Knights of Cabiria, a mechanised company out of Olos, hired to support the Tetrarchy offencive with some joint striker missions -- us and native troops -- against Republic targets. Then yesterday all the Tetrarchy forces cut and ran. My platoon decided to flee to neutral territory and activate our repatriation bonds. We got caught out by fleeing republic armour, and there was a firefight. I think we're all that's left of our platoon. Salvaged what we could out of our wrecked tank, and went on foot. That's when we saw the nukes..."

[Q: Are communications even possible? 50/50: 93, Exceptional No.]

"Comms?" asks Eshtam.

"Nothing," replies Dellt. "The tank's onboard systems were hardened, but got totally fried by laser fire. Our personal commos got fried when the nukes went off, along with the handcomps and the cheap, crappy map box. Luckily we got a hardcopy map of the area in the emergency kit. And a pair of optical field glasses. Not much else. Who's that, then?"

[How do they react when they see the prisoner? 8, interested]

"This is our prisoner," says the Lieutenant. "He was working for the guy that started this whole mess. We're taking him to hand over to Naval Intelligence. Unless he gets uncooperative or tries to run. Then we're just shooting him."

"Huh," says Dellt. "Wait -- Naval intelligence. You two are Imperials? Oh, shit..."

"Don't worry, Sargent," says Eshtam, "no one's going to waste time bringing charges against six wounded soldiers who got caught up in this mess. If we all get back to a neutral state, you guys can activate your bonds and go home. We might even give you a ride if we can give our friends upstairs a call. I do think it would be safer if we all stick together."

"No arguments from me, ma'am."

"I'm not a soldier. You can call me Eshtam. Now, lets see that map."

[Q: How far to the border? 1d6x10=40 hours on foot.]

They travel as far as they are able until dusk. It's slow progress, as the wounded need to be carried on makeshift stretchers. Other than Major Vetne (who is tied to a tree), they all sleep better that night, as they can take shorter shifts on watch.

The next day (281-1106) is another long slog through the woody foothills. At one point they come upon a large (200kg) predator, which they scare off with small arms fire.

In the early afternoon, a glint of metal is spotted high up on a mountain above the treeline. Eshtam, Lt. Gytovo, and Dellt break off ahead to investigate. A starship has landed, seemingly in the empty parking lot before some sort of recreational facility. They take turns peering through the field glasses.

[Opposed Recon checks, using the best skill level on each side: 6+2(Eshtam) vs. 4+1 (best of those in the ship); Eshtam detects 1d6=3 soldiers outside ship]

"Well? What do you think?" the Lieutenant asks Eshtam as she stares at it through the binoculars.

"Standard A2 far trader. Imperial registration markings. No signs of external damage. Cargo ramp is down. And there's two -- no, make that three guards milling about between the ship and that artillery piece."

"Most of us came in civilian transport," says Dellt. "We shipped all our vehicles on ahead as freight."

"Those guys with you?" asks the Lieutenant.

"Can't see much detail at this range," mumbles Eshtam, "but looks like they're mostly wearing street clothes, maybe armour jackets."

"Wouldn't be ours, then. We're all cavalry units: that's how come 'Knights'. And we all got combat armour; 's how we survived the wreck of our tank. And we don't got nothin' no where near as sophisticated as they got there."

"What is it?" asks Eshtam.

"What is it?" replies Dellt incredulously.

Lt. Gytovo laughs. "That, my dear scout, is a battlefield meson accelerator."

"Oh... oh! What's the range on one of those things?"

"Far enough."

"So what do we do? One way or the other we need on that ship."

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

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

Q7.
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?"

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Solo Traveller - Episode 16: The hidden ship (9Qs #6)

[Picking up again with the 9Qs...

Q6.
How can the adverse results from Q4 and Q5 be further intensified, forcing the
heroes to commit to a do-or-die course of action in accordance with the heroic
motivation?
Be the GM first:
• Use the random idea generator to inspire a worsening of the threats beyond
anything that had been conceived before, making it clear that if action is not taken
against the threats, the consequences will be disastrous.


Betray / Leadership.

follow on from Q5's revelation: the offworld movements were partly a display of hubris; Ladver does seem unconcerned about burning bridges, too. And certain traitors in high government positions on Dimmul's mainworld are involved (through blackmail and/or bribes & offers of power in the new régime. Ladver has hired mercenaries on all sides in order to foment a three-way shooting war on the ground, and is pulling in the former colonies as well. Everyone thinks he's on their side.

• Choose one or two of the following or roll a d6 twice for an encounter featuring (1-2) intrigue, (3-4) pursuit, and/or (5-6) combat.

• 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 Q5.


Hidden scout ship (a Colony scout ship belonging to Ladver's other clients)

Q: VIP(s) on board? Likely: Yes. 1d3=2
Q: Who? rolling 34 twice in a row on the MGT main book's NPC chart results in two Conspirators. I already knew that... I'll try two sensible rolls on the Random Patron table: 24 Minor Noble, 31 Diplomat... plus a pilot and three guards (TL11 marines) in double occupancy staterooms
Q: What are they up to right now? Activity / News.
Q: Are they waiting for someone? 50/50: Yes.

Be the PCs next:
Use the heroes' abilities to most effectively respond to the severity of the situation as
per their heroic motivation and the RPG's rules.
]


Dimmul/Foreven (2936 C587A7A-C) / Date: 278-1106

Eshtam and Lt. Gytovo leave the three soldiers with the stolen air/raft and head up the hill. As they are about to come over the crest, they see a type-S scout/courrier, draped with a great deal of camouflage netting, nestled in the valley between one hill and the next, about 200m from their position. They instantly hide themselves in the long grass, and the Lieutenant studies the ship through a pair of field glasses, which he then passes to Eshtam.

[Eshtam & Gytovo used Stealth to sneak up, rolling 9+2 and 9+1 respectively. This beat the guard's Recon roll of 6+1 easily.]

"I guess we need to see what's in the ship," says Lt. Gytovo. "I count only one guard outside."

"I see 'im."

"Looks like we gotta take him out then storm the ship."

"Looks like."

"I'm calling Cpl. Lugalaa up here to help; she's infantry. I think me and her have to go in. It's going to be close quarters in there, and I don't trust the other two to operate too far outside their MOS. I suppose you want to come too..."

"Ha! That's where you're wrong. I'm more than happy to leave the fighting to the trained fighters. I'll bring the other two in if you call for us; not unless."

"Fine. Call them up here. I'll eliminate the guard."

"Give me the rifle. I'll do it. You're trained for boarding actions, not this."

"Are you serious?"

"Yes, Lieutenant, I am. We've got one shot to take him out, and it has to count. Commander Darus let me see your service record before our first mission. I'm a higher rated marksman than you are. Besides, I've done this before."

"Sometimes you really scare me, you know that?"

[Taking the single shot with the gauss rifle, Eshtam will be using the Aim for the Kill rule in Mercenary. She spends 3 actions (the maximum allowed) aiming, for +6 damage. She rolls 8+3(skill&dex; no aiming bonus as it all goes to damage)=hit. Effect=3, damage= 18+6+3=27. The guard wears a TL8 Flak Jacket, so his armour reduces damage by 6 to 21; his Physical UPP only 846 (Veterans #77).]

Eshtam takes the gauss rifle and lays down in the grass. She steadies the gun, takes careful aim and squeezes off a single shot. There's a soft, sharp crack as the slug is accelerated past the speed of sound, and then the guard collapses in mid-stride. Lt. Gytovo lowers the field glasses, and shudders in spite of himself.

[Very Difficult Recon check for the soldiers on the ship to notice anything; both fail.]

The party approaches the ship undetected. Lt. Gytovo takes the dead guard's ACR & flak vest; the helmet is bloody and has a hole through it. Eshtam gives Lugalaa her gauss rifle back.

[I gave the soldiers aboard ship a 2nd Recon check to notice the Lieutenant futzing around with armour outside: one rolls a marginal success.]

A voice calls down from inside the ship. "Hey Stineral! Still awake out there?"

Lt. Gytovo wastes no time, but motions for Lugalaa to follow. They bound up the ramp together into the ship.

[Lt. Gytovo rolls Leader & Tactics: Leader 4+1, fail (no bonus); Tactics 9+1=10, +2 Initiative for him and the Corporal. The enemies roll no bonuses at all.]

There are two women wearing flak vests and holding ACRs in the room at the top of the ramp. They immediately raise their guns at the sight of the strangers dashing towards them.

[Round 1

Initiative:
11 Lt. Gytovo
10 Guard B (Veterans #89, female Vilani)
 8 Cpl. Lugalaa
 7 Guard A (Veterans #83, female Human)]

Lt. Gytovo immediately opens fire, spraying the room with bullets [full auto dice: 6,4,4,3,2,2; grouped as 9,6,6 +2 skill&dex = 3hits. A is hit twice, her physical UPP reduced to 730: KO. B is hit once: her armour takes most of it. She only takes 1 point of STR damage (down to 567)].

Both guards are hit, and one falls bleeding onto the deck. The other guard returns fire, opening up with a full burst from her ACR [full auto dice 4,4,2,1,1,1; only a single hit on Lugalaa]. Most of the bullets fly over their heads, but a few ricochet off Cpl. Lugalaa's combat armour.

Cpl. Lugalaa returns fire with a short, but ineffectual burst.

[Round 2

recoil penalties lower everyone's initiative. New order is:
9 Lt. Gytovo
8 Cpl. Lugalaa
6 Guard B]

Lt. Gytovo yells for the remaining guard to surrender [which requires an Routine (+2) Leadership check for Lugalaa to hold her fire: 8+1+2, success. The guard fails a Morale check]

The remaining guard lowers her weapon and slowly puts it on the deck. "How many more of you are on the ship?" asks the lieutenant.

"There's just three more: Dame Giikagin, her attaché, and the pilot."

[NPC stats
Minor Noble - Citizens of the Imperium Noble # 27 Knight, Vilani Female
Diplomat - Citizens of the Imperium Diplomat # 29 Ambassador, Human Male
Pilot - 1001 Characters Navy #132, Human Female]

Lt. Gytovo calls down the ramp for the others to come up. Eshtam collects the guards' ACRs and the soldiers frog march the prisoner outside to keep a watch over her. Lt. Gytovo goes with Lugalaa further into the ship.

[Q: Does one of the other NPCs come forth to attack? Unlikely: No.
Q: Can 1d3 of the passengers get to the bridge? Likely: Yes, and... The pilot reaches the bridge and calls for help.
Q: Do the other two surrender? Likely: No.]

They slink down a short L-shaped corridor, Lugalaa (in her heavy combat armour) in the lead. They come upon the noble and her aide in the lounge, pistols in hand.

[Round 1

Initiative:
gytovo- tactics roll 8+1=9; +1 init for PCs

12 diplo
 7 Gytovo
 6 Lugalaa
 4 noble]

The aide fires his pistol rapidly, expending half the magazine as he ducks behind an upturned table [autofire dice: 6,6,5,4, = 10+2,11+2]. Both Lt. Gytovo and Lugalaa are hit by the fusillade, but their armour takes the brunt [he takes 3 damage to his DEX (down to A88), she takes 4 to END (down to 874)].

The Lieutenant returns fire, squeezing off a single shot at the aide, but the bullet lodges itself in the bulkhead. Lugalaa fires on the aide as well. The gauss rifle's needle-like bullets whizz right through the table and rip into the aide's chest [rolls 9+2, -2 for cover. 16 damage (4END 8STR 4DEX) drops the aide's physical UPP 050- seriously wounded.] The man falls nearly lifeless to the deck, his breathing ragged.

The noble is undaunted by the loss of her assistant [she made her morale check]. She empties most of her pistol at her assailants [autofire 6,4,3,3 = 10, 6]. Lt Gytovo is hit, and feels his ribs bruise through the ballistic cloth [8 damage - 6 for armour = 2 DEX damage; UPP down to A68].

[Round 2]
Lt. Gytovo yells, "We need her alive!" [Leadership roll 9+1, Lugalaa obeys] as both he and Lugalaa duck back into the corridor. "I'll cover you. You rush in and overpower her. Got it? OK, on three. One...two...three!"

[Round 3]
Lt. Gytovo fires a few short bursts up towards the ceiling whilst Lugalaa runs at the noble.

[Lt. Gytovo's suppression fire roll 11+1, succeeds. The noble suffers a -2 initiative penalty, and -1 on all other actions.]

The noble returns fire, but misses as she's more concerned with keeping her head down [8+0, -1 suppression = miss].

[Round 4]

Lugalaa swings her rifle like a club. The butt crashes down on the noble's head, knocking her senseless.

The lieutenant proceeds to the bridge. The pilot puts her hands in the air as he enters [fails morale]. He marches her back out into the lounge. She starts when she sees the aide lying in a pool of blood. "Are you going to kill us, then?" she asks.

"Not unless we have to."

"Do you mind if I keep him from bleeding to death?"

"Be my guest."

The pilot takes a medkit down off the wall, opens it so the Lieutenant can see there isn't a weapon concealed within, and starts bandaging the aide's wounds [first aid check 9+2, heals 6 damage, up to 164]. The aide soon comes round, but is woozy from the pain meds.

The Lieutenant keeps the pilot talking whilst she tends to the injured aide.

[Difficult Interrogation check, 9+1 = success
Q: Did she call Ladver's men coming for the meeting? Very Likely, Yes.
Q: What do they do? Return / Lies.
Q: Is the scout ship armed? Yes, but... sandcaster only]

She admits that she called her contact (their spy, or one of them) in the Republic governmental palace and told her their ship was under attack. She was told to repel the boarders, keep the VIPs safe, and reschedule their meeting once the dust had settled or they had relocated to somewhere safer.

Eshtam tries to calls the Imperial battle cruiser Maud in orbit on secure channel [bouncing the signal off a satellite to hide the source makes it a Difficult roll: 5+3, failure], but can't seem to raise them on the comm. After a short conference with the Lieutenant, it is decided they need to interview the noble [Lt. Gytovo's interrogation roll (avg. difficulty) = 8+1, success].

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


[reaction = 11, Enthusiastic] Dame Giikagin is a low-level functionary in the government of the CherGaSen Alliance, a collection of former colonies (Cherndl, Gaakishuu, & Senbor) in the outer solar system on the desert world of Jommul (G630634-B). She is personally overseeing the mission to the mainworld, trying to weaken the former colonial masters (Ilpara & the Erhais) to prevent any of the three from re-annexing Jommul. For this purpose the CherGaSen government has been accepting weapons and advisers from an outside system, probably Zoe (Zoe/Foreven 2534 BAAA257-E) or possibly even Olos (Olos/Foreven 2538 A588652-D). She knows the name 'King' Ladver, but insists her government would never risk employing such a notorious criminal. Both Eshtam and the Lieutenant are convinced this is just her idealism speaking, however. She is also surprised the Imperium is risking involvement in an exterior matter. Lt. Gytovo insists that the Imperium would not be backing Ilpara unless they thought it would bring more stability to the system, and promote trade; shooting wars this close to the Imperial border make the powers-that-be nervous, especially when the Imperium must share the Foreven sector with the Zhodani Consulate. The dame points out that the neither she nor her Erhaian contact knew anything about the presence of Imperial troops at the Ilparan base -- or the attack would never have been allowed to happen. Eshtam decides to explain what she knows so far, that Ladver has been funnelling arms and troops to Dimmul in what seems a bid to destabilise the planet, and thus her government may be playing right into his hands.

Dame Giikagin agrees that things are out of control, and agrees to help for the good of her people. Under the watchful eyes of her new allies, she puts in a call to her agent in the Erhaian government to arrange a meeting.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Solo Traveller - Episode 15: Just shut up and drive

[To answer the burning question of What happens next? in the Star Trader adventure, we will need to back up a few days to where my first solo Traveller campaign left off, right after the stalemate between the Republic of Erhai and Ilpara heated up.

When last we left our heroes, they had commandeered an Ilparan armoured fighting vehicle (along with three Ilparan soldiers) and were fleeing the shelling across the wasteland and through the mountains beyond, headed for the source of some intercepted transmissions.

Nothing says Traveller like an overland excursion in a tracked vehicle with a laser turret. This part of the adventure sits in-between Q5 and Q6 of the 9Qs, and forms a unit unto itself. I have more to say about the 9Qs, but that shall wait until I've finished writing up the rest of the adventure. So, to set the stage--

New NPCs (three Ilparan soldiers):
After the usual NPC generation rolls for flavour & random personality traits, I used Veterans to find the first pair with TVD & Laser, switching out redundant & CT-only skills (Fwd. Obs.) with MGT skills, adding recon-1 for MGT rank skills, &c &c.


Lance Cpl. Deevi Uystolag
gunner
A68557 Army-Cavalry 3terms, Human Female
Gun Cbt. (slug rifle) 1, Mechanic 2, Gun Cbt. (energy rifle) 2, Heavy Weapons (launchers) 2, Vacc 1, Recon 1
Equipment: cloth armour TL 10, ACR
Injured: -3END
Personal: cynical, logical; Lance Cpl. Uystolag intends to be a career soldier, like her parents and their parents before them.


Lance Cpl. Juild Er-Nanzec
driver
654955 Army-Cavalry 3 terms, Human Female
Gun Cbt. (slug rifle) 2, Heavy Weapons (launchers) 1, Gun Cbt. (energy rifle)  2, Mechanic 1, Drive (Tracked) 1, Vacc 1, Recon 1
Equipment: cloth armour TL 10, ACR
Personal: judgemental, sloppy; Juild doesn't really want to be here. She only joined the army so they'd pay for her university studies when her tour of duty is complete. Sadly, voluntarily leaving the service has proved harder than she expected, owing to the constant state of warfare on the planet.


Cpl. Agimishkis Lugalaa
infantry soldier
878755 Army-Infantry 3 terms, Vilani Female
Heavy Weapons (launchers) 1, Gun Cbt. (slug rifle) 2, Flyer (grav) 1, Recruiting 1, Stealth 1, Recon 1
Equipment: Combat armour TL 12, gauss rifle
Injured: -5END (she didn't have her helmet on when the shelling started, so got gassed)
Personal: ditzy, battle-scarred; Lugalaa is a competent soldier, and has been on the front lines of two major campaigns, to which the burns on her hands, scars down her face, and jagged hairline readily attest. She has the respect of her superiors, who overlook her personal uniform "enhancements": bright pink lipstick, rainbow-glitter nail polish, and badges of cute baby animals in betwixt her campaign ribbons and pair of Ilparan Hero Stars (equivalent to the Imperial SEH).



Procedure:

The trip will be handled somewhat in the abstract, since I don't have a map. The terrain is low mountains, which are lightly forested. Each day will be divided into three phases: Encounters, Recon, and Travel.

Encounters: roll 1/day on the MGT rural encounter chart. Resolve as necessary.

Recon: the party must succeed in a Recon check (8+) each day to avoid military patrols. The difficulty will initially be Difficult (-2DM) until the first one succeeds, whereafter it will drop to Average (no DM). If the total Effect from Navigation checks is 8 or higher, there is an additional -2DM to all recon checks to simulate the area being more highly patrolled.

If a patrol encounter cannot be avoided, roll 1d6 to determine the nature of the patrol: 1. Ilparan army, 2. Erhai Tetrarchy army, 3. Erhai Tetrarchy mercenaries, 4. Republic of Erhai mercenaries, 5-6. Republic of Erhai army.

(For reference, the Imperium sent the PCs to back Ilpara. The Republic of Erhai initiated hostilities with Ilpara. The Tetrarchy opportunistically sent in troops to shore up their border defences, and possibly make a grab for territory should either of the other two be sufficiently weakened.)

Resolve the encounter as necessary. Apply a -2DM to further Recon checks, which will persist until a successful check is made.

Travel: A series of Navigation checks will be made to get the AFV through the terrain to the co-ordinates that were pinpointed in episode 14. A cumulative total of the Effect of the navigation rolls will be kept, and the destination will be reached once it hits 10. The navigation rolls will be Average difficulty, though if the party switches to a flying vehicle they will get a +2 bonus since it will be easier to negotiate the terrain.

A day on Dimmul is 25.4 standard hours. I'll worry about squaring the elapsed time with the standard Imperial calender in the next post.]


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

day 1.

Recon: Eshtam rolls 6+4-2(Difficult)=8; The party manage to escape the battlefield without drawing fire, and avoid the withdrawing Republic of Erhai forces. Subsequent recon checks are now Average (no DM).

Encounter: A roll of 63 indicates a monastery on the mountainside. [Difficult recon check to determine if it's occupied: 5+4=fail] No one is visible outside, so the party decides to investigate cautiously. The monastery turns out to be inhabited by a small group of monks who live here in an attempt to retreat from society. They are reasonably friendly (reaction roll of 9) and offer food and shelter for 1 day.

Navigation: 4+2=6. total Effect=-2. The party has set out in completely the wrong direction.


day 2.

The party spend a day resting, as guests of the monks. No recon, encounter, or navigation rolls are therefore required. But there is a small chance of detection by enemies, so: Difficult Recon check for them, roll 7 + (skill of 1d3) 1= 8, failure.

The day is spent peacefully. Each injured character heals 1d6 + current END bonus in damage.
Eshtam heals 5 (back to normal)
Lt. Gytovo heals 2 (END heals up to 7)
Lance Cpl. Uystolag heals 2 (END up to 7)
Cpl. Lugalaa heals 4 (END up to 7)


day 3.

Recon: 9+2=success.

Encounter: roll of 46: small community - not what it seems
Q: What does it seem like? Intensely / Poor.
Q: What is it really? Infested headquarters.

Atop a low mountain sits a cluster of houses. The characters decide to go out and attempt to trade for food. [Very Difficult Recon to notice this is a secret army base: Eshtam rolls 9+4=13, success] The characters sneak away undetected.

Navigation: 8+2=10 total effect 0; back where they started...


day 4.

Recon: 7+4=success.

Encounter: Grounded spacecraft - pinnace
Q: Has it been shot down? Somewhat Likely: No.
Q: Is it part of the current conflict? Likely: Yes, and... on a mission
Q: Which side? Tetrarchry - mercs
reaction roll = 5: Hostile, may attack

In a mountain glen, the AFV comes upon a mercenary pinnace. The nose is painted to look like some sort of fierce carnivore. There are several soldiers around it, wearing mercenary uniforms with Tetrarchy markings to indicate their current allegiance. One of them, wearing battle dress and carrying a plasma gun, begins to approach the party's AFV, motioning for them not to come any closer. Not wanting to start a pointless firefight, the Lieutenant suggests they give these mercs a wide berth.

Navigation: 7+2=9, total effect 1


day 5.

Recon: 7+4=success.

Encounter: isolated homestead - unfriendly
Q: Do they attack? 50/50: No.
Q: Do they inform the authorities? 50/50: No, but... rumour spreads. Increase recon difficulty back to 10.

The party encounter a small compound belonging to a few trappers and their families. They seem suspicious: not overtly hostile but highly mistrustful of outsiders. They decide to leave them alone.

Navigation: 10+2=12. total effect = 5


day 6.

Recon: 2+2=4, failure. My random combat unit tables (work-in-progress) produce 16 poorly equipped soldiers: TL10, no leader, reaction = 11, enthusiastic
Q: Mercs? 50/50: No.
Q: Injured? Somewhat Likely: Yes, and... trade food for medical supplies.

A platoon of injured Erhaian soldiers is camped out in a clearing. One of them spots the AFV, and he flags it down with a bloodstained white t-shirt. Lt. Gytovo orders the Juild to stop. He and Eshtam go out to parley, but he makes sure that Cpl. Uystolag is in the gun turret just in case. When they emerge from the AFV, the rest of the platoon -- those that can walk, anyway -- come forward out of the trees, unarmed and hands in the air. The man who flagged them down seems to be in charge, though just a private himself. "We saw some action two days ago, against some mercs. Not really sure which side they were on, just that is wasn't ours. We took heavy losses, and the command unit was lost. That's when we decided to run. I don't care who you people are or where you're going or about this war or anything, but please, I got a lot of wounded here and no way to help them. We've got like no ammo left, but lots of food. If you got medkits, I'll trade you all the field rations you can carry. And we don't got a radio or any comm units, so don't go worrying about us giving away your position. What d'ya say. Please? We all just want to live to go home."

"Yeah, OK," says the Lieutenant. "I believe you."

"For once, Lieuteant," adds Eshtam, "I completely agree with you."

They hand over all but one medkit and some spare survival blankets out of the AFV in exchange for a week's worth of food.


Encounter: 26, police chase

The characters come upon 10 MPs from the Republic of Erhai in military air/rafts looking for deserters. They aren't immediately spotted, and manage to lose them without much trouble [difficult recon roll to avoid: 9+4=13, success].

Navigation: 8+2 total 7


day 7.

Recon: 4+4 -2 (following previous day's encounter) = fail. The resultant encounter is 8 soldiers (stats: Army from 1001 Characters) in two TL12 military air/rafts [Armour: 12, Hull: 3, Structure: 3, Autocannon]

The encounter starts at Very Long range. The party wins the initiative.

Lance Cpl. Er-Nanzec is driving, Lance Cpl. Uystolag is in the gun turret. They both ask Lt. Gytovo for his orders. It looks like the air/rafts are circling to flank them, and they're both faster and more manoeuvrable than the party's AFV. There's no choice but to stand and fight.

[round 1]
Deevi fires the triple laser turret at the lead air/raft. The lasers tear into it, but it continues towards them, still firing its autocannon. Bullets ricochet off the AFV's armour, but do little more than scratch the paint. The second air/raft's gunner doesn't even score a single hit.

[Deevi's rolls were: 10,6,10 +2skill -2 range. 2 hits on A: damage rolls were both 18, -12 for armour=6 (two single hits): weapon & hull, armour & armour. The air/raft is reduced to  armour 10, hull 2, and gets -2 to attack.

Air/raft A used auto fire, rolling: 12,12,6,2: 2 hits, all damage absorbed by armour.

Air/raft B rolled poorly.]

[Round 2]
The air/rafts close range [to Long]. Deevi fires again at the lead air/raft. The lasers slice right through its hull, and the vehicle suddenly loses power and plummets to the ground, and crumples from the impact. The other air/raft turns to flee, firing its cannon behind it as it goes. The AFV stands up to the punishment as the slugs hammer its glacis, sending tremors through the plasteel exterior which can almost be felt within.

[Deevi rolled 10, 9, 10: 3 hits (4 single, 1 double: drive, hull, hull, structure + double drive hit. The drives were completely disabled. The air/raft falls 50m to ground, passengers take (15d6)÷4 damage: survivors will almost certainly be unconscious, if not dead.

Air/raft B failed their Morale roll.
Their gunner did manage to score two hits on the AFV, reducing the hull and armour values by 1 point each.]

[round 3]
Deevi fires one last time at the fleeing air/raft. It seems to lose a great deal of speed after the lasers hit [double drive hit, speed -25%], but there's no way to prevent its escape.

[Q: Anything salvageable from wreck? Unlikely: No, and... ]

Lt. Gytovo orders Juild to drive over to see if there's anything useful in the crashed air/raft. But as she is turning the AFV round, the wreck explodes in a huge ball of fire. "Let's keep moving," says the Lieutenant.


Encounter: small community on trade route.

Following the engagement with the two armoured flyers, the local villages have been put on alert, and militia patrols have been stepped up to look for enemy troops. At dusk, Cpl. Lugalaa (who is on watch) reports that she has spotted a small hillside community in the distance; they are just starting to turn on their house lights as the sun sets. After some quick deliberation, Eshtam and the Lieutenant both agree that they need to lose the AFV in favour of a less obvious craft. They scout around the woods to find a largish deadfall, and set to work hiding the AFV next to it [Recon check to camouflage the AFV (Eshtam rolls 9+4) vs. Recon check of potential search party (9+2) = success].

Eshtam and Cpl. Lugalaa are the stealthiest, so that night the pair of them sneak into the village.

[Q: Does anyone still awake in the village have an exceptional Recon skill? Somewhat Unlikely: Yes. 1d6=2

Stealth rolls for Eshtam & Lugalaa: 11+2, 4+1 respectively vs. recon of villager(s) 2+2=4.]

There are a few militia soldiers patrolling the streets even in the middle of the night, but none so watchful that they can't be avoided. The pair skulk around the houses at the outskirts of the village, and finally settle on a vehicle parked alongside someone's utility shed: a ubiquitous civilian light cargo hauler, muddy and bearing numerous dents.

[Q: Are the keys in the air/raft? Unlikely: No, but... it is unlocked.

To hotwire the air/raft (diff=Average): Lugalaa rolls 8+0, success.

Q: Do they get away without incident? Somewhat Likely: Yes.]

Juild feels a bit slighted to see them come back with a grav vehicle; if she can't drive [no skill], then what is she doing on the mission? Lt. Gytovo has her trade guns with Lugalaa, who is now the driver, and tells Juild since she has the best gun [gauss rifle], she gets to be the gunner now. Lance Corporal Uistolag has been a soldier too long to complain about her demotion from gunner to passenger,  for which the Lieutenant is entirely grateful.

Navigation: --


day 8.

Recon: 9+4 -2 (following previous day's encounter) = success
Encounter: a crop sprayer drone flies overhead; initially it makes everyone nervous, as they think it's a surveillance drone or possibly some sort of warbot, but then it starts dusting a nearby field. Relieved, the party ignores it.
Navigation: 6+2 +2(air/raft) total=9


day 9.

Recon: 10+4 -2 (Navigation total > 7)= 12, success
Encounter: animal
Navigation: 10+2+2 Arrival at objective

"If I'm reading the map-box right," says Eshtam, "the source of those scrambled communications we intercepted should be right over this next ridge. Lugalaa, why don't you park over there, and me and the good Lieutenant will go out and have a look round."

"Sir?" she asks, looking at Lt. Gytovo -- the ranking officer here -- plaintively for confirmation.

"How many times do I have to tell you, Corporal? It's her mission; the rest of us are just along for the ride."

"Yes, sir. Landing as requested over there, sir... ma'am."

"Corporal Lugalaa," says Lt. Gytovo, "I think I'd better take your gauss rifle whilst we reconnoitre. If  things get hairy, I don't much fancy our chances with just our sidearms."

"Sir... yes, sir," she says, reluctantly, as she hands over the gun. Lt. Gytovo looks it over, noting that the butt is covered in pastel puffy stickers from a popular children's holovid programme. Lugalaa looks a bit embarrassed.

"Are these Chippy the Chirper stickers regulation, soldier?"

"Hey, let me see," says Eshtam, "I used to watch that when I was a kid!"

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Traveller - Star Trader: part 13

Date: 276-1106

arrive at Dimmul/Foreven (2936 C587A7A-C Ri Hi Amber)

The moment we hit normal space the comms panel lit up like the Holiday night fireworks display over Hizkóno bay. There was chatter on all frequencies about a new war heating up, between two maybe three nations. it was a bit confusing with the names being so similar. And there were increased troop movements in other nations as well, gearing up to settle old scores or something. I mean I'd read the TAS warnings and noted the Amber classification, but I'd always heard that all the warnings were a bit overcautious. Hells, I had a weeks shore leave here back in 1103, I thought it was a nice place. Barely left the beach the whole time... except to go back to that lifeguard's flat. What was his name...?

Anyway, seems like the warnings finally came true. Things are bad enough that the Imperium is stepping in. Or got pulled in. One of those little nations went and made the mistake of attacking Imperial troops. There's a 50,000 tonne battle cruiser, the Maud, in orbit that's making everyone really nervous. The highport's backed up with extra customs inspectors, and a detachment of Imperial marines stationed at the downport. I think there's a kinuniir-class ship at the highport, too, but it may just be a rumour.

Got a direct hail from a merchant vessel, wondering where we'd come from and if we had any business tips to pass on. Heldamin said to tell them we came from Yk directly. Don't know what's eating her. [ship encounter: merchant courier, asks for info on world just left]

Heldamin said she'd called ahead to see if her friends were here yet, and it looks like we beat them all. She gave me some landing coordinates, and said we should land straight away, and avoid the starport completely. I wasn't sure that was such a good idea but then Orneev piped up and said we could probably slip in unnoticed in all the chaos. After Mingiz, he's had more than enough of Imperial marines for a while. I forget he's from an unaligned world sometimes.

So we went in real quiet. Orneev was right, no one even hailed us from the air or ground. We put down on a landing pad halfway up a mountain. There was a pretty steep drop down ones side, and some kind of compound hidden amongst the trees. "What is this?" I asked Heldamin, "some sort of mercenary base?" "No," she said, laughing, "It's a ski resort. Sorry there's no snow. Just my luck to come here in the off-season."

[I need to find a good random sci-fi location generator. I did go to look for one when I got to this part, but my crappy internet connection dropped out again. So I used the alternate method of closing my eyes, opening random file in my C:/Documents/Traveller folder, and using first planet-based location mentioned.]

. . .

Later: Things are a bit fraught here at the moment. Heldamin transmitted the charter fee payment codes when we hit normal space, before she knew what was up. But I can't get a line through to the bank to pay the mortgage, and I daren't risk trying from the ground. I hope we aren't here too long. But at least the bank has a world-emergency clause, so I will try not to sweat it.


Date: 277-1106

The place is deserted and locked up. Not even a caretaker to guard the place. The landing pad turned out to be the parking lot. There's a single two-lane road leading down the mountain. Diula had a wander down it for a couple kilometres, but said it's all just forest as far as she can see.

The mercenaries spent the morning unloading their cargo and setting some stuff up. There was a big cannon-looking thing attached to an even bigger fusion generator, and some sort of communications dish which they put up on the roof of one of the chalets. They had some cables running down from it all the way to a battle computer by the rest of their kit.

Nakko said they had time for a quick test. Two of the mercs suited up in grav belts and headed off, low above the trees. After about half an hour, the two with the grav belts radioed back, and the other 6 did something with the cannon. It started humming real loud, and some light flashed, and then it went back down to the level of background noise. And that was it.

[The Hekabe's crew are all from civilian backgrounds, so they have no idea what the mercs are doing or what any of the kit is. The cannon is a TL15 meson accelerator. The two girls with grav belts are the forward observers. The dish is a receiver for their laser communications units, not radio. This will all become important much later.]

"Uh-oh," I says to Heldamin. "Looks like their thing is broken. Do they have the tools to fix it?"

Heldamin just laughs. "No," she says, "it's working alright. Just fine. Anyways, if I know what those guys are like, they'll be wanting to celebrate a successful field test. Luckily, I planned ahead. Come on, help me get some glasses out. It's a nice evening, maybe we can picnic."

[Q: Do the PCs get suspicious? 04, Exceptional yes.
Inty quizzes Heldamin: Reaction=7. Heldamin tries to play it all off. Her carousing roll needs 10+, 11+2=succeeds again!]


Date: 278-1106

Damn that Heldamin. I don't think I've been this hungover since that one time on Stipps. and I'm pretty sure that was partly due to oxygen starvation.

Nothing to watch on the vid either. Local stations are all just war war war. Talking heads saying how the Imperium should leave/annex the world/take sides/broker a treaty... This is not helping my headache. I'm almost tempted to ask Diula if I can borrow some of those musicals she bought on Oothoom.


Date: 279-1106

Heldamin was up early this morning, and she had her business face on again. She took the mercs outside for a talk. Then they were all waiting around, and we were sneaking looks out the portholes but they just seemed edgy. Then the two took off on their grav belts, and the rest of them powered up the device again. They messed about with it for a while. Then they gave up and came inside. The grav belts never came back.

[Q: How is the mood aboard ship? Travel / Fears]

All the comm channels went silent too. Like there was a blackout or something. The mercs were all hiding, and Heldamin with them. Talked to Orneev and Diula, they thought maybe we shouldn't be staying here.

[Q: Does anyone cause trouble? 50/50: 50, Yes.
1d6: 1 Inty, 2 Diula, 3 Orneev 4 merc, 5 Caidro, 6 Heldamin]
4=merc
Q: What is the end result? Carry / Exterior factors]

Heldamin and a couple of the mercs eventually came looking for some food. I tried to ask Heldamin if maybe we shouldn't try to go to the highport after all. She didn't even have a chance to open her mouth before one of the mercs had a right go at me, screaming about how we were being paid to transport them where they liked, and since they were paying for it we were going to damn well stay put until they say it's time to go, and it's none of our actual business what they are doing or what we do or don't hear over the bloody comms!

His buddies ushered him out and Heldamin said she'd talk to them about manners aboard my ship. But that we couldn't leave yet.

. . .

Later: Heard a long, loud boom like thunder, everyone ran to look outside. The sky to the north east was all angry and red. Caidro immediately started drinking himself sick. Heldamin ran outside to sit by the communications relay. she won't let anyone talk to her, and she isn't coming inside.


Date: 280-1106
The communication blackout finally ended this evening, and I almost wish it hadn't. It's all a horrible mess. The wars are spilling out all over the place, with several nations invading their rivals. Three of the conflicts went nuclear.

The Imperial navy is interdicting the planet. All ships are grounded, anyone trying to leave the world will be shot down without question. Ships at the port are volunteering to ferry relief supplies, but no one else is allowed to fly.

Later: Heldamin came back inside, finally. She immediately got into a screaming row with Caidro and Nakko both.

Nakko explained to me later that things hadn't gone to plan and we were on our own for a while until it cooled off. The mercs are setting up armed patrols around the perimeter of the resort.


Date: 281-1106

Caidro finally got his head screwed on straight, but Heldamin's been blind drunk in her stateroom ever since she came back into the ship. The mercs are restless, but Nakko is putting them through the paces to keep some sort of order.

Shit. There's commotion outside. Orneev and Diula just burst onto the bridge with an armload of guns from the ship's locker. He handed me a shotgun and Diula said to look out the porthole. There was six soldiers coming up the road, most of them in heavy armour. Caidro and two other mercs were walking up to greet them, everybody had guns in hand and it looked like they were about to start blazing away at each other. "Do something!" pleaded Orneev.

I guess it's up to me. I'll record what happens for posterity when I get back. If this is my last log entry, well, you can guess how it went.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Traveller - Star Trader: part 12

Date: 263-1106

arrive at Chabloha/Foreven (2837 E733884-2 Na Po)

Seems like there's no traffic in-system at all. Not a peep on the comm, nothing even on the long-range scanners.

Put down on the surface. The port is barely a thing, just an automated beacon amidst some flat concrete landing pads, one of which is covered in crap. A hand-painted metal sign which read "settlement" in Galanglic and Vilani pointed to a trail leading off to a nearby hill with a rocky outcropping. Beyond that there's a big red sun in the sky, and sandy desert as far as the eye can see.

Time to suit up and get walking, I suppose.

[world event: Holiday or festival celebrations slow things down, but become an enjoyable diversion.

it takes 1d6=4 days to unload & sell cargo

Total sale DM of +7: +3 Orneev's broker skill, +3 Poor world, +1 quality (from Star Trader event); roll 7+7=300%, Kcr30/tonne

But Chabloha is primitive and lacks a real port facility, so the payment may be unusual (1d6): 1-2 barter, 3-4 gold, 5 Imp. credits, 6 other hard currency
roll: 5! What luck.]


Date: 264-1106

Seems we came in the middle of a the annual Lab-20c Festival, a two-week long celebration commemorating the scientists who came up with the plan to harness the oxygen-producing cave plants to produce an artificially habitable environment, thus saving the original colony. There's music and dancing and games and some sort of fungus liqueur which goes down super smooth. We're taking turns guarding the ship, because no one -- not even Diula -- wants to miss this.

Orneev found a local merchant who was very interested in taking the blades off our hands, to the tune of cr300,000. She even paid in Imperial credits! But, and there's always a but, she said it will be at least three days before she can send her people to collect.


Date: 266-1106

No one's seen the new medic for a couple days. She didn't leave a message on the Hekabe either. If we don't see her before it's time to go, well, we can always find another medic.

. . .

Later: Hadn't seen Diula for a while either, and she hadn't been answering her commo. So I called Heldamin, and she just laughed. "Not to worry," she says, "she's back aboard. She brought a new friend back to, er, play with." "Really?" I asked, "Diula? I didn't think she had it in her. Did you get a look at him? her?" "It, I think," she said laughing, "Just kidding. Diula just knocked on my door and asked if I could mind the shop for a while. Honestly, I'm glad I didn't see. Less chance of terrifying images haunting my dreams. She's a good one and all, but there are some mysteries I'd rather leave unsolved!" Well, good on her, anyways.


Date: 267-1106

Heldamin has actually started getting anxious about how long we've been here. She asked if I could hurry up the blade deal so we aren't late. Never seen her so businesslike before.


Date: 268-1106

Got everything unloaded and paid for, then Heldamin insisted we dust off immediately, the second we closed the cargo hatch. She rattled off some coordinates, and we headed halfway across the planet, to some ancient impact crater far away from all the cave cities. In the crater was a pair of ships, a fat trader and some other ship with a custom 200t hull.

Heldamin said she needed to have a talk with her associates, so she suited up and went aboard the merchant ship. She was gone a good while, and when she came back there were 8 others with her. I was a bit suspicious, looking at the hardware they packing, but then they came in the airlock and the helmets came off and there was a familiar face smiling out at us.

"Nakko!" called Orneev and Diula in unison.

"Looks like I'll be flying with you guys," he said.

"Nakko," said Caidro, a bit more seriously, "I didn't expect you'd make it."

"And miss all the fun?" said Nakko. "Though you almost did. You're late."

"Hardly," said Heldamin, "We're right on schedule."

"We don't got any time for testing."

"You don't need it. I've got grade A merchandise. It'll work a dream. You just need to trust me." Then she got all official on me. "So, Inty, there's been a little change of plans. You can probably guess that three freighters won't carry a whole army. We need to get to the new rendez-vous on Dimmul. We need to go now."

Well, she is chartering the ship. And she bought us all presents at the festival. So we found room for everyone. Some of the staterooms are now double-occupancy, but they're soldiers so they're used to it. Heldamin was expecting them so she got the extra provisions & life support when she filled the ship with necessaries at Yk spaceport.

We're almost at the gas giant now.


Date: 269-1106

"See you all on Dimmul," said Heldamin over the comm and us and the two other ships went into jump space. I did warn her that we're no space fleet and so the odds of us all coming out at the same time are ridiculously slim. She said that she understands, and that we have a nice place picked out to wait once we get there.

Date: 272-1106

Mercs are spending a lot of time in the cargo hold, and except for Nakko, and sometimes Caidro, they aren't mixing too much with the rest of us. Heldamin says we shouldn't mind them, they're gearing up for a mission and don't have time for "us civilians". Besides, she thinks they're being boring.

...

Later: I think I preferred them boring. Two of the mercs had a screaming row [jump event] in the cargo bay that spilled out into the common area. I was afraid they were going to go for their guns at one point. Nakko came out and actually sent them to their rooms!

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Library Data

Yk/Foreven (2937 D463545-3 Ni)

Yk is a small, rocky world that is predominantly uninhabitable desert. The sparse population is clustered in settlements on the shore of the planet's single freshwater sea. Around the littoral zone are forests of squat flowering trees, many of which rely on the nitrogen cycle rather than photosynthesis, and not a few are actually carnivorous, though none which are of a size to be more than a nuisance to humans. The planet's rotation is highly eccentric, resulting in a season of twilight lasting half of the 328 day year (which is equivalent to 386 standard days in length). The population is at the lower end of tech level 3. Building are mostly of stone, brick, and a native reddish-brown concrete, and due to the low (.5g) gravity are typically built high. The world's single starport was built in the midst of unarable desert, and is a day's ride from the closest settlements, the largest of which, Vcru Teol, is a city of around 20,000 inhabitants. Imperial credits and other hard currencies are traded there as an enticement to travellers.


Chabloha/Foreven (2837 E733884-2 Na Po)

On the surface, Chabloha seems like a dead world.  The atmosphere is very thin, and what little surface water exists is shallow and has very high pH levels. When the first human explorers arrived they had no ideas of staying. The first permanent settlement was a scientific research base that was abandoned during the long night. The 500 or so residents remaining on the world were forced to fend for themselves, and were faced with a very hostile environment once their technology inevitably ran down. Fortunately, they had discovered extensive underground cavern systems teeming with plant life, and with a bit of work were able to turn the caves into a habitable area (with effectively a thin atmosphere). They were so successful that today there are hundreds of millions living in the underground cavern cities. The tech level of the world remains low, though locally-made survuval suits incorporating the oxygen-producing flora allow excursions of up to 6 standard hours on the world's surface. Chablohans are not averse to outside trade, but have little use for most high-tech goods. Travellers should be aware that Imperial credits are of little use on Chabloha, and should be prepared to pay for goods and services with precious metals or even barter.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Traveller - Star Trader: part 11

Date: 250-1106

arrive at Yk/Foreven (2937 D463545-3 Ni)

Soon after hitting normal space we were met by a 400t close escort. The comms officer told us that they were part of an anti-piracy task force sent from Mingiz, and that we should be careful whilst we're here, and let them know if we see anything suspicious. When they found out we just came from Mingiz, they were real anxious for any news on the storms. Seems about half their crew is from there, and they hadn't heard anything for more than a week. I sent them all the broadcasts I recorded when I was sleeping or too busy to watch live, and they were super grateful. [ship encounter: 400t close escort - Warn you of piracy in this system]

Starport here is class D, so there's no highport. Put in at the downport, which is probably the saddest I've seen since Lime. Lots of sheetmetal buildings and ancient forklifts. Not a grav pod in sight. But they have a communications bureau of a sort, and plenty of locals selling stuff around the perimeter. Had to buy us some cold weather clothing. The local stuff's all skins and furs, weirdly bumpy purple and crimson leather seems to be the fashion, and red-brown pelts. At least we'll fit in. Except Heldamin who's got another sparkly robe, that is.

Decided we'd look for cargo away from the port. Everyone wants to see the sites. Or almost everyone. Diula says she hates this primitive stuff and would prefer to stay aboard ship. Caidro wants to stay and guard his cargo. Well, the rest of us will have fun.


Date: 251-1106

It took a whole day's ride to get from the port to Vcru Teol, a modestly-sized (20,000pop) city. At least I think it was a day. I'm told it's Twilight Season now, so it won't get any lighter. They took us in waggons pulled by these four-legged, pointy-eared, spindly-legged beasts called horses. I'm told they aren't native to this world. We could see the fires lighting the city from about 10km or so off. Actual fires! And the buildings look so fragile and spindly, climbing up into the dark sky. Everyone's wearing furs and cloaks, it's cold but not so bad I think, and about every third person is walking round with some sort of muzzle-loader rifle on their back, with carved wood stocks. The air's really clean, and smells sweet from the plant fibre they burn. Good business or not, I'm glad we came.


Date: 252-1106

[world event: Goods are on offer direct from the grower/manufacturer. It is top quality stuff that will sell with a +1 bonus.]

We found a factor for some planet-wide trading company who was eager to deal. He'd got a consignment of blades -- war blades, farm tools, all sorts -- from the famous blacksmiths of Jwahhios Teol (as he said) that was sitting in his warehouse. He said they were too expensive to unload locally, but offworld "people would clamour for such wondrous steel". He showed us a selection, and though none of us are experts, we could see that he wasn't exaggerating. His price was steep, but no surprise there. Orneev said he was sure we could make a tidy profit off these at our next stop [Chabloha is poor, so +3 sale DM], so we bought all 10 tonnes.

[10t blades @ cr13,000/t; purchase roll 12 (!) -2 (away from port mod.)=10: 130%]

And I got to use our new commos to call the ship and let them know to expect a delivery, in case it arrives back before we do. Probably won't, but Diula wanted us to try them out.

. . .

Later: Things got real messy real fast. Didn't notice the streets getting empty, and so we didn't realise it was 'late'. I guess the locals' bodyclocks keep the same day-night cycles even in the Twilight Season. We were just wandering the city, taking in the sights, and then suddenly we were surrounded by these four rough-looking women. They were wearing long black cloaks and furs underneath that were looking a bit mangy. The leader had a crossbow, and another had a sword. "Hey, offworlders!" she said, I guess we didn't really blend in at all. "How about you hand over your valuables to save us the trouble of having to search your corpses." And I was sure they meant it.

But then Heldamin had a gauss pistol in her hand spitting slugs at them and it all went to hell real quick.

[encounter in town: 4 peasants (TL-3, so TL1 weapons only), Hostile attack on 5+: 11=attack
PCs roll 5+1(Leader skill) vs. NPCs 6+0 = no surprise
short range ~4m
Q: What are they after? Kill / Good - they're brigands

       UPP    Weapon     hit damage
       ---    ------     --- ------
Thug A 89B467 sword      +1   2D
Thug B 8A7694 dagger     +3   2D
Thug C C48976 cudgel     +3   2D
Leader 379567 crossbow   +1   3D

Inty   939A84 shotgun    -1   4D
Orneev 86B798 carbine    +0   3D
Bval   56674A carbine    +1   3D
Held   46894B gauss pst. +1   4D


-Round 1-
The PCs weapons are all slung, so they have a -3DM to hit this round.
Inty fires a singularly ineffectual blast with her shotgun at the swordswoman (missed A). Orneev drops B with a quick shot from his carbine (14 damage drops END to 0 and STR to 1, KO). Bval is good with a carbine too; his shot drops C, seriously wounding her (DEX & END to 0). Heldamin is lucky not to hit one of her friends (rolls a 3).

Classic Traveller combat is simultaneous, so all the brigands still get to attack.
One hits Inty with her sword, reducing STR to 0 and END to 8; Inty passes out from shock. Orneev is nearly sliced open by a dagger, but fortunately cold weather clothing counts as jack armour, so he feels a draught but is otherwise unhurt. Bval is not so lucky. The woman's club crashes down on his head, cracking his skull (DEX and END both reduced to 0; serious wound). The leader's crossbow bolt whizzes past Heldamin's head.

-Round 2-
The brigands need 6+ for a morale check; they stand.

The remaining brigands press in on their opponents. Orneev finds shooting at this range a bit challenging (-4DM at close range) as the woman can grab his gun to push it aside. The leader drops her crossbow to charge at Heldamin with a dagger. Heldamin fires point-blank, dropping her in her tracks.

-Round 3-
The last brigand turns and runs (failed Morale). Heldamin fires after her but she gets away.

The sounds of gunfire will certainly attract the city guard. A roll under the planet's Law Level (5-) means there will be trouble: 12= No trouble at all.]

They came at us fast, and I barely got a shot off before I got hit in the side with a sword. Of all things! There was a lot of blood and then it all went fuzzy.

I came to in Orneev's arms not long after, and he was so sweet and worried it was very touching. Heldamin was talking to the city guardsman that were suddenly everywhere, I thought we were really in trouble then but it turns out these were notorious brigands that jumped us and the city guard were happy we delivered three of them into their hands. They brought us to a doctor -- a chirurgeon, they called him. He patched me up ok in no time, but he said Bval was in a really bad way and couldn't be moved.

We agreed that we couldn't wait for him to get better, so he would have to be left behind. I'm going to give him his last month's salary and throw in one of the mid passage vouchers I've been sitting on. I feel a bit guilty, but he was a pretty shit medic to begin with.


Date: 254-1106

Took another whole "day" to ride back to the port. The blades came about 23 standard hours later.

[port event: Someone needs to get off-world fast ... but its not as simple as that ....
Q: Why not? Antagonise / Good
Random NPC from patrons list: Researcher]

Zuuganaamsa Keshushagu
female vilani
homeworld: Lasperth
267985  Scientist  Age:38  5 Terms
computer-1, air/raft-1, medic-2, leader-1
auto pistol, high psg, low psg, cr60000


There was a woman travelling with us from Vcru Teol, a vilani scientist called Zuuganaamsa. She said she really couldn't deal with this backwater any longer and wanted to know if we could get her offworld. Turns out she's a medical researcher, and we do need a new ship's medic.

Caidro was the only one who balked, but I explained to him that we legally needed a medic aboard, and if we got boarded again without one...

Diula said that was really cold, she didn't think I had it in me. I had just meant it would cause us a lot of problems. I forgot what happened to Caidro the last time we got boarded. Dammit, I was just trying to be a good captain!

ship's fund cr323,592

 +100,000 charter (on 251-1106)
   -2,000 B's final salary
 -130,000 blades
     -600 cold weather clothing
---------
cr290,992 new ship's fund


next charter payment on 265-1106.
next mortgage also 265-1106.


Date: 255-1106
All loaded and heading out to the jump point. The new doc seems ok. She can treat a sword wound ok, not that I plan on making a habit of getting them!

Ran into a modular cutter doing some sort of planetary survey. They were polite and returned our hail, but they were too busy to talk.

Almost time to jump now.

[Jump event: Cargo containers have shifted due to grav compensator malfunction. Need re-setting.
I made a quick table to determine what had shifted, and what the likelihood (in Mythic terms) of Caidro freaking out since he's so protective of his/Heldamin's cargo.

die what shifted freakout
--- ------------ --------
1-2 blades       unlikely
3-4 H's cargo    likely
5-6 both         50/50

5=both
Q: Does Caidro get angry? 50/50: 90, No.

Cargo shifts, Diula and Caidro go to fix it, no big deal. Inty doesn't bother recording the incident in the log. But it could have been a disaster, so I gave it a chance to play out.]