Monday, 14 August 2017

Star Wars RPG solo - Part 14: At home in the underworld

Back in the relative safety of their flat, our somewhat-subdued heroes are trying to drift into their usual routine. Lina is field-stripping and cleaning her blaster with uncommon rigour, Oosuu is sprawled on the sofa watching a holo-documentary on the life cycle of the Bantha and drinking the galaxy's cheapest beer, Zil and Wex are sharing a bottle of Ithorian brandy that Jather stole from the market. The thief himself is just returning from a sudden supply run. "I thought I told you two nerf herders that this was for cooking!" he says, snatching the bottle from Wex's hand.

"You did," says Wex peevishly, "but there's nothing else to drink."

"Oosuu said share beer," offers Oosuu over her shoulder.

"That swill's not potable," says Wex, "so I stand by my statement."

"Wex loss. More for Oosuu!"

"Fortunately," says the Devaronian as he places a bottle of bubbling green liquid on the table, "doctor Jather foresaw this little eventuality. Now, I'm going to bake us up something rich, so you lot can either start shelling these quozma nuts or get out of my kitchen. Anyways, what'd I miss when I was out?"

"We were considering our options," says Zil. "whether we stay put like we said, or keep running."

"And?"

"Morga's a clever Hutt. He understands the value of what we're offering, and that he can't afford not to deal if it's genuine. And I'm counting on my reputation to convince him it probably is."

"Is genuine. Oosuu already say."

"He'll check anyways," says Wex.

"It won't take much time to check, if I know good old Porubek," says Zil. "But Morga's probably going to wait a while to contact us, just to make us sweat."

"Think we're still safe here?" asks Jather.

"It's a good bet he knows where we live by now, or will soon," says Wex. "But what do we do about Lina?"

"I'm sitting right here, Wex!"

"You're just as much a fugitive from Ord Mantell as we are," says Zil. "Wex is trying in his own misguided way to keep you from having to deal with a Hutt. But you're safest if you stick with us, really."

"Thanks, Zil. I guess..."

"So we're resolved to all just sit here and wait," says Wex. "Anyone mind telling me how we're going to afford food and rent? We're skint."

"Oosuu get job, Oosuu suppose."

"Fixing blasters?"

"No tools! Oosuu wait tables. Again."

"I might be able to get us some quick money," says Jather. "But it's risky..."

[The PCs must wait 2d6=4 weeks for confirmation]

Despite everyone privately thinking it's a dreadful idea, Jather somehow convinces the rest that he can make them plenty of money at the local casino -- not so much that he attracts the attention of the local crime families or the Imperials they pay off to do business, but enough to pay the bills. Oosuu wishes him luck, but still marches out and gets herself a job waiting tables.

Zil doesn't want Jather to be left alone at the casinos. "Not that I don't trust you," she explains, "but if you win big you're going to be an easy target."

Jather readily agrees, but insists she has to look the part if she's coming along. It takes her two days to find a suitable evening gown that they can afford. When she steps out of her room in it for the first time, the others' jaws collectively drop at the sight of her strapless and sequinned splendour.

"Wow, Zil," says Wex, "you clean up good. Who'd of thunk it."

"That's a... very daring look," says Lina. "I could never pull it off. I wouldn't be brave enough. That skirt's slit halfway up to orbit!"

"Nice garter," observes Jather. "The red's a good contrast."

"I hope you lechers all realise," says Zil, "that I had Oosuu rig the garter to conceal my hold-out blaster. That's why I needed the skirt slit so high."

. . .

The casino that Jather has selected is a seamy and smoky affair, but with just the right veneer of class. It's full of the dregs of Phaeda's high society, second-rate gamblers fleeing their debts in the Core Systems, Imperial Navy officers who will never rate their own command, and all their associated arm-/tentacle-/pseudopod-candy (and most of this last on a per-hour basis). If Jather were a religious being, this would probably be the image of his heaven.

Zil does her best to be attentive and charming, all the while scanning the crowd for potential dangers, as Jather settles into a game of Sabaac.

[For simplicity, I used the Gambling tables in the catch-up section of Midkemia Press' Cities. Each week, Jather rolls 1d% + his 5D+2 Gambling skill; a mishap will result in a -10 total modifier.

For the first week, he bets 400 credits: 5D+2=35 (wild 6,6,4!)

But d%=33, for a result on the chart of "You break even, with no gain and no loss."]

Jather has an extraordinary run of bad luck. He doesn't lose any money, but try as he might he can't seem to make any. It's only his consummate skill that has kept him from losing more than he did. After three nights, he feels he must talk to Zil.

"I don't think this is working."

"Well, I didn't want to say anything," says Zil, "but I'm glad you noticed. What do we do now?"

"I can do this, I know I can. It's just... you're bad luck, Zil."

"What do you mean?"

"I just don't think you're working out, is all."

"Not working out? Come on! I can feel all their eyes on me when we walk in the place. I've gotten propositions from dozens of the men there. And dozens of women. And possibly that spherical thing with the wings, I'm not sure... It's not like I get off on the attention or anything. What more do you expect me to do?"

"Zil... you're a right stunner in that dress, but you scare people. Otherwise every single one of them would be falling at your feet. There's a fine line between femme fatale and off-world kick-murder squad -- and I think you've crossed it."

. . .

The next morning Zil and Jather start working on Oosuu to convince her to take Zil's place. Zil trusts her ability to spot danger a light year away, even if she's not particularly much use in a fight. But she admits that the Twi'lek would be far more decorative than either Lina or Wex.

Neither of them is prepared for her reticence, nor the vehemence of her initial refusal. Oosuu launches into a long, angry and mostly incoherent monologue, which may or may not be entirely in Basic, but of which the substance is "that all Zil think Twi'leks good for!!! (sic)"

Zil can't even reply before Oosuu has stormed out of the flat. A look of terror passes over Jather's face. Zil's not sure if he's more scared of having to go alone or with her. But then his expression brightens, as the gears in the Devaronian's brain turn over, and he runs out into the street after Oosuu.

Lina is trying to screw up her courage and volunteer, but deep down she knows what Zil will say if she does. She's almost found the guts to ask when Jather returns, grinning his crooked smile.

"She'll do it," he says. "I made her see reason."

"How?" asks Zil.

"I told her that we were counting on people to think all that about her, so they won't think that she's there to keep an eye out for trouble. And that if she were just a floozy, we wouldn't have asked her to do the job."

"Well, yeah, that's sort of the whole point."

"We know that, Zil, but she's upset that you didn't say it up front. So I told her you were sorry and you'd do her chores from now on to make up for it."

"You what? Fine. But who's going to go to the casino with her after I've killed you...?"

. . .

Oosuu insists on waiting for her first paycheck before buying, as she puts it, her disguise. Being that she is their only current source of income, no one puts up any argument. She tells Jather to buy a fresh pack of Sabaac cards and practice against Zil, Wex, and Lina whilst she's working; she'll have her money in 5 days.

The fated evening finally arrives. Oosuu steps out of her room to show the others her ensemble. They've become inured to the Twi'lek wandering nonchalantly about the flat in her underwear, and so are wholly unprepared for the deliberate presentation of her ample charms. She looks beamingly over her stunned companions, but there is a certain malicious cast to her smile.

"What think?" asks Oosuu. "Remember, Zil say look tawdry."

"Wh--what?" protests Zil, stumbling over her words. "I... I never..."

"Zil think it."

"No. I didn't... I mean... um... you..."

"Oosuu face up here, Zil."

. . .

Jather has soon declared Oosuu to be his good luck charm. The first night they're out, they come home 3000 credits richer, having set out with a mere 300. His winning streak continues, but he does his best to keep it to a modest level to avoid the wrong sort of attention. Solvent or not, Oosuu refuses to give up her job. She convinces Jather that he needs to take Zil out as backup sometimes, and also Lina, whose jealousy was beginning to turn into resentment. Jather is more than happy to oblige her, but he never seems to win as high when he's out with the other two. Wex, for his part, is happy to sit round the flat and be a parasite.

[Q: Anyone get in trouble during this time? 50/50 (4+): O1 C2 - No, and...]



Scene 12

Chaos
: Average (d10)

Setup: meeting Mr. Kuththuk (redux)

NPC list: Morga the Hutt, a mysterious enemy, Lt. Nomu the crooked Imperial, infochant

Threads: make contacts, sell datapad

[Q: Is Morga willing to deal? Likely (3+): O3 C2 - Yes, and...

At the start of the scene, I made Language rolls for each PC to see if they know Huttese. Diff. = Moderate (12) for the three criminals: Z12, J20, W12, they all know it. Lina needed to roll a 15; 2D+2=10, she doesn't speak it.]

Four weeks pass by in a strange blur, and then one morning Zil receives a communiqué from Mr. Kuththuk, telling her that a meeting with the great Morga has been arranged. The evening sees them arrive at a closed art gallery. Zil enters the passcode they've been given and leads her friends inside, where the nattily-dressed Trandoshan is there to meet them.

He leads them towards the back of the gallery, pausing several times to admire a painting or comment upon a piece of sculpture.

"...and it's too bad none of you can see into the infra-red. The pigments in this piece really stand out! But I'm afraid we haven't convened to discuss the finer points of art. So let's get down to the business at hand, shall we?"

[Wex's bargain roll: 4D+1=18 vs. Mr. Kuththuk's 6D+2=20]

"We made our offer," says Wex. I'd say it's worth enough to secure a clean slate for all of us. What do you think?"

"My good Mr. Enstipo," says the Trandoshan, "whilst I agree it is a most tempting offer, I'm not in a position to make the final decision."

"Then what are we here for?"

"Why, Mr. Enstipo, I would have thought that obvious. You are here to present the merchandise for inspection, and then discuss terms of sale. The great Morga never buys something of this nature sight unseen. Call your associate and have the piece brought for inspection."

"Sorry, we're not letting you take it away."

"Oh, Mr. Enstipo, don't be foolish. It is not I, who will be receiving the piece. It is the great Morga himself!"

A thug at the back of the gallery presses a button, and a partition slides open to reveal the Hutt lounging in the back room on a sled-like throne.

"Wex, make call," says Oosuu gravely. "Oosuu talk."

"I hardly think--" says Zil.

"Not in way Zil. Oosuu fix."

Wex is already making the call as Oosuu walks forward, stops a distance away from the Hutt's and makes an elaborate, formal bow. She rises and addresses Morga in Huttese, and all trace of her accent vanishes.

"O most illustrious and esteemed Morga, as renowned amongst the pitiful stars of the rest of the galaxy as you are amongst the myriad brilliant suns of Hutt Space, we do most humbly, most reverently, and most gratefully thank you for this audience which you have bestowed upon us. It is our supreme hope that this list of disgraceful traitors which we shall place before you anon shall be a worthy gift for your eminence. Indeed, we thought of none other to whom we might offer such a token, for surely there is none other so astute and masterful. Whilst many would comprehend its value, none other could employ it so ingeniously, nor possess resources great enough to exploit it to the utmost. It is our deepest, most fervent wish that you look smilingly upon this our gift, and deem us worthy of your favour."

[Her Persuasion 4D+2=21 vs. Morga's Willpower 5D=13]

Lina soon arrives with the datapad, and hands it immediately over to Wex. Wex hands it to Oosuu, bows respectfully (he hopes) at the Hutt, and slinks back to the others. Oosuu enters the passcode, then kneels before the Hutt to present the device, raising it up with both hands over her bowed head.

[UNE--
NPC Relationship: friendly
Conversation Mood: helpful
friendly - celebration - treasure]

The slavering Hutt looks over the datapad gleefully. He motions with his stubby arm for Mr. Kuththuk to come take it from him.

"Rise, little Twi'lek," booms the Hutt. "You have certainly found me a worthy prize. As I am great, it pleases me to show mercy when mercy is merited. I accept your gift, and the slate is now clean. But that is just with me! Before I tell Chruigok that your group's capture is not a favour worth a Hutt's attention, there is a task I would have you do..."

. . .

The great weight of being hunted by a Hutt having been lifted, they are all laughing and joking as they make their way back across town towards their flat, but Oosuu is uncharacteristically sullen.

"Oosuu, what's up?" asks Zil.

"Oosuu have bad feeling about this."

"About what? We're in the clear. And we have our next job all lined up."

"Hutt job. Oosuu not like work Hutts. Oosuu finish job, Oosuu run."

"They're no worse than any of the other crime lords."

"Oosuu not agree. Zil do what want. Oosuu finish, then Oosuu out. Oosuu only got job to save necks."

"And pretty handily you did it!" exclaims Jather.

"Oosuu," says Zil, "I'm sorry I ever doubted you. That was quite some speech. I... I didn't know you were so fluent in Huttese."

"Oosuu from Hutt Space. Not speak much Basic there. Speak more Tespeen."

"Never heard of it."

"Tespeen pretty. Highly inflected."

"We could all just speak Huttese amongst ourselves if you prefer."

"Oosuu fine speak Basic."

"But if it's easier for you--"

"Oosuu speak Basic all time. Understand fine, understood fine."

"Yes, but, you were so eloquent, that--"

"Wex, why Zil so thick?"




--- --- --- ---

Thus ends the second adventure. It was much shorter than the first, so I set the base Character Point (XP) award at 6.

Lina had a bit of a lacklustre performance, so only gets 5. Wex did a few important things, so gets the base award. Oosuu, Jather, and Zil all had some stellar moments, so earn 7 each.

There will be (2d6=) 11 weeks between this and the next adventure, so there is plenty of time to improve/train skills.

Expenditures:
O 10 total; 3pts blaster to 3D+2; 2pts stamina 3D
W 11 total; 5pts streetwise 5D+1; 4 blaster 5D
Z 11 total; 4pts Sneak 4D+1; 3 starship gunnery 3D+2
L 11 total; 4pts Command 4D+2; 4 blaster 5D
J 10 total; 4pts Dodge 4D+2; 5pts Gambling 6D

to be continued...

Friday, 4 August 2017

Star Wars RPG solo - Part 13: The criminal element

Jather is up at dawn the next morning gathering fresh produce from the market stalls as they open. His kitchen virtuosity dispels any bad feelings left over from his dereliction of duty the night before. Lina starts getting nervous as the afternoon wears on, afraid the infochant won't call back. Zil and Wex both have to keep reminding her that the junkie can't be expected to be an early riser.

Scene 9

Chaos:
Average (d10)

Setup: waiting for the man

NPC list: Morga the Hutt, a mysterious enemy, Lt. Nomu the crooked Imperial, infochant

Threads: make contacts, sell datapad

She finally does call Zil, and tells her they should all meet up at a club tonight, and she'll introduce them to her guy.

[I rolled on the Musical Style table in Augmented Reality (p. 38) to determine what kind of club it was, and by extension, who can pass the dress code.
Anthemic NeoPunk = dresscode not in force]

The Separatist Alliance is a night club built in a converted droid foundry on the outskirts of the city. In truth, the foundry closed its doors well over a hundred years ago, and even then it never produced anything more dangerous than 3rd-class agbots, but the owners reckoned they were starting a dance hall and not a history lesson.

Our heroes arrive after nearly an hour of travel on three separate repulsor-buses, and join the queue to get in. Zil, Wex, and Jather have all brought hold-out blasters...

[Hide skills vs. bouncers' Search (3D)
W 3D=14 vs. 13
Z 3D=16 vs. 4
J 4D+2=11 vs. 10]

...but none of the bouncers patting them down find anything suspicious.

The dull thrumming they heard from the queue outside becomes a roar once they pass into the building. Spotlights flash and criss-cross in patterns. Beings from all over the galaxy mingle in a great and heaving mass. Some of them are milling about between the occasional tables and vinyl settees, some are dancing to the distorted and frenetic sounds of the opening band. Lina hates it, Oosuu wants to join the dancers, Jather finds it bewildering, whilst Wex and Zil are reminded of their misspent youth.

Wex, Lina, and Oosuu pretend not to know Zil and Jather, in order to discreetly keep watch for any hidden dangers. Oosuu insists she has the best vantage point from the dance floor, as she can look in 360 degrees without raising suspicions. She has run off and is pushing her way through the throng before anyone can raise an objection.

Wex notices Lina looking fidgety. "You don't like this place?" he asks.

"It reminds me of my little sister's holotape collection."

"C'mon, this song's a classic! Though there's not usually a Gamorrean on vocals..."

[Q: Anything up? 50/50 (4+): O1 C3 - No, but... plenty of shifty-looking beings about.]

Zil and Jather make a circuit of the club looking for the find infochant. They spot her turquoise coat from afar as a spotlight briefly plays over it. She's sitting hunched over the bar with a forgotten drink before her. It takes a moment for her to register Zil's hand waving in front of her face, but she snaps back to the present and she greets Zil and Jather with a friendly, if somewhat rictus-looking grin.

Zil makes an effort to be polite, but rushes quickly through the exchange of pleasantries. "Your guy here yet?" she says abruptly.

"He is," responds the infochant. "I'll make an introduction. But first, I believe there was the question of my fee...?"

"Afterwards. If this is a trap, I'm not paying."

"Why would it be a trap?"

"We're dealing with a Hutt's organisation."

"Oh. Right."

"I don't think she'd set us up," Jather says to Zil. Then turning to the infochant, "Did you even tell your friend who we were?"

"How could I? We've all been keeping our names out of it. I just said that you haven't been here long and you have a deal to make."

"Here," says Zil, "have 100 credits, then, to show I trust you. You can have the other 150 in a few minutes, as I don't think we'll be talking much today. Just setting up a further meeting."

"Ta. Follow me."

[Q: Where is the meeting? (1d6) 1-2 back room, 3-5 dark booth, 6 toilet; d6=3

first impressions: Furtive and on edge, unkempt, tattoos (Augmented reality p. 19).
He has 1d6-1=2 hangers on, bodyguard (d6=human, d6=f) and his (d6=)boyfriend

UNE--
NPC Relationship: neutral
Conversation Mood: guarded
scheming - agenda - rewards]

The infochant leads them over to a large, dark booth in an alcove on the back wall where her dealer is waiting. "Hey Frag," she screams over the music, "these are the people I told you about."

'Frag' is a bit scruffy looking, wearing ragged spacers' leathers with the arms ripped off and dark sungoggles. He also seems a bit sketched. His boytoy sits beside him, immaculate and glittery, and is intently running a finger along the tattooed patterns covering Frag's arms. On his other side sits a muscle-bound woman in a bright yellow party dress. She has an ugly, oversized clutch bag on the table before her, big enough to conceal a Blastech DL-44, were one that sort of person.

Frag hands his boy a pile of credits and sends him to the bar. His bodyguard gets up and stands by table, motioning for Zil and Jather to have a seat.

"So, you want in with Morga the Hutt," says Frag, cracking his knuckles.

"Don't worry," says Zil, "we aren't looking to muscle in on your racket."

"What are you looking for?"

"We have a certain matter to discuss. And an item to offer as consideration for said matter."

"That tells me all of nothing!"

"We have unfinished business. If Morga gets wind of the offer, he'll know what we're on about."

"What's in it for me? I'm not exactly running a charity, here."

"We'll kick back a portion of the profits. Or you can take 500 credits and be done with it."

[opposed Bargain rolls, Zil's 3D vs. Frag's 2D +5 bonus: 10 vs. 14]

"500 credits? That's pathetic."

"For delivering a message? I'd say it's more than you're worth."

"Now you're pushing it..."

"Let me make myself absolutely clear. We have unfinished business with a Hutt, whose attention we first need to get. You know someone who knows someone who's got his ear, or thereabouts, so you're our messenger. The message can either be communicated by you telling them for us, or else be written in your blood on a wall somewhere for them to find. Personally, I'd take the 500 credits..."

[Zil's Intimidate (5D) vs. Frag's Willpower (2D +10 for upper hand): 22 vs. 18]

"Yeah, OK. 500 credits to make a few calls is a good deal, I guess. Where do I find you?"

"How bout I give you my comlink number and you call me?"

"Sure. Great."

"Make sure to mention the name Vudlor Taf. I'm sure we're not the only people with unfinished business."

"Fudlar Tav. Got it."

"Close enough. Keep in touch. Let me know how you get on."

[Q: Any problems that night? 50/50 (4+): O2 C1 - No, and...
Q: Does he get word through? Likely (3+): O6 C2 - Yes, and... 1d3=1 day later]


Scene 10

Chaos: Average (d10)

Setup: first contact

NPC list: Morga the Hutt, a mysterious enemy, Lt. Nomu the crooked Imperial, infochant

Threads: make contacts, sell datapad


Around sunset the next day, Zil's comlink flashes, and she answers.

"Yeah?"

An unmistakable Trandoshan's voice replies, "This is Mr. Kuththuk. With whom am I speaking?"

"This is Zil."

"Ah, Ms. Lhahon. This is a pleasant surprise! I presume Mr. Enstipo is with you, and his charming friend Ms. Oosuu."

"We're all here."

"Mr. Plazeed as well?"

"Of course. We're in this together."

"My, you certainly are! A somewhat surprising turn of events, but there you are. I take it this conversation is between us all."

"We're all listening," says Wex, as they all crowd round the kitchen table.

"Good," continues Mr. Kuththuk. "Then I will make this offer: hand over Ms. Lhahon to me and the gracious and grateful Morga the Hutt shall forgive the rest of you. A clean slate all round, and potentially some work for Ms. Oosuu, as previously discussed."

Zil goes tense with fear even as Wex shouts, "No deal! We've come this far together and we're not about to start backstabbing one another now."

"Oosuu agree!"

"Jather? Jather!"

"What do you take me for?!" says the offended Devaronian. "What Wex said. We're in this mess together."

"I see," says Mr. Kuththuk. "Your loyalty is to be commended, although that does still leave you in quite the predicament. But then you presumably had some sort of offer to make. I'm all auditory organs, as they say."

"Morga prizes loyalty," says Wex. "What if I told you we knew that not everyone in his employ was, in fact, loyal?"

"I would say that is an unfortunately common blight in our line of business. But you have a name? More than one, I would hope. And proof?"

"We've got a datapad with a list of imperial informants and spies in all the major operations on Ord Mantell...

[Q: Including Morga's? 50/50 (4+): O4 C8 - Yes]

...including yours."

"I see. And you're certain of its authenticity?"

"Oosuu crack security," says Oosuu. "Not fake."

"A slicer as well as a technician! Dear lady, there may very well be a job offer for you if we can put all this unpleasantness behind us. I will contact the great Morga and see how he wishes to proceed. Until tomorrow evening, then. Good night."


Scene 11

Chaos: Average (d10)

Setup: meeting Mr. Kuththuk

NPC list: Morga the Hutt, a mysterious enemy, Lt. Nomu the crooked Imperial, infochant

Threads: make contacts, sell datapad

The meeting is arranged for the next evening in a public park [Scarlet Heroes random location=Splendid garden]. Lina reluctantly agrees to sit out the meeting as she has never before met their contact. They leave her in a nearby café and head into the park, where they find Mr. Kuththuk sitting on park bench in front of a bubbling fountain. There are no goons obviously lurking nearby, but there is lots of vegetation to conceal them.

"Ah, my friends," says the Trandoshan, "I'm so glad you could make it. I don't suppose you have the datapad on you? No, of course not. You're not amateurs, after all! Please, sit. The basin rim is cold, but I had my associates dry it off for you. I told them to go admire the scenery so we can talk like civilised beings." [UNE: friendly - comfort - power]

"Has Morga made a decision?" asks Zil.

"He's certainly considering it. But we'll need more to go on than just your word, I'm afraid."

"I can offer you the list of Porubek's people who were named. He gave me the datapad to deliver, so he must know what's on it. See how the people on this list are doing, or if anyone's seen them lately..."

"I quite understand. Transmit the list to me, and I'll have it looked into. This could take some time."

"Of course."

"You won't leave Phaeda...?"

"No. Not until this is settled."

"I must say, I'm surprised you came here of all places. An excellent hiding spot, I must confess; we'd never have found you here had you not contacted us first. Why, it's the happiest of coincidences I was anywhere near Phaeda when I got the call. Well, I'll be in touch at the first opportunity. Enjoy your stay here, if you can."