The search was officially called off at 21:00 Imperial Standard Time (14.9.8 planetary time). The exhausted workers hurried back to the shelter as quickly as their weary extremities would carry them, and bent nearly double against the gale. The snow fell thicker by the minute, and the steadily blinking beacon atop the shelter was almost hidden by the sideways-blowing gusts of white.
The workers collapsed one by one on the long, dingy benches of the staging room. Some began to divest themselves of their thermal survival gear, others merely slumped in exhaustion.
"Close the damn door," shouted an irritated Quarren.
"Not until you've all checked in," said the overseer gruffly. "There's still one left."
"It's Arluumo," called a Human, trying to remove the gloves of a dazed Ho'din. "The cold's really got to him."
The overseer strode over and the obliging Human pressed her senseless friend's hand to the proffered datapad. The overseer glanced at the display, then keyed in his passcode.
"All right," he said, "everyone present and accounted for. Close the door!"
"But, sir," hazards a Trianni, "we aren't all accounted for. We didn't find Ornam."
"And with the blizzard coming on, it's unlikely we ever will. Now, all of you get some food and then some sleep. For participating in the search, you've earned a one-hour work reprieve in the morning, but since you didn't find the missing worker you'll be spending it on a mandatory Safety & Work Protocol refresher. The Empire does not wish any more accidents amongst its labour force, and I do not intend to fall short of this period's quota. Are we understood? Good. Dismissed!"
[As I've been getting excited/trepidatious about the impending release of the new Star Wars movie, I decided it was time to get back to my d6 Star Wars campaign (which began here, and continued here).
For the next adventure, the PCs have been sent to mine crystals in the frozen north of Mygeeto. Mr. Kuththuk provided them all with false identities, and arranged for them all to sign on for a long-term stint with a Mygeetan mining concern (technically a private company, but with de facto Imperial control). The PCs are waiting for Morga's agent on Mygeeto to make contact, and instruct them of the task they must perform.
As the adventure begins, our heroes have been in the mining base for some 8 weeks. To account for the time they've been here, each PC needs to make an Easy (10) Stamina roll to bear up under the hard labour and harsh environment (as usual, a Willpower roll at +5 difficulty is allowed if it fails). They also must make one other skill roll at Moderate (15) to account for their other activities.
Stamina 2D+2=11, success.
Intimidate 5D=19, success. Zil gains a reputation amongst the other workers; she likes to sit on a table in the cafeteria and hold court. She keeps Lina and/or Oosuu around at all times as her henchmen.
Stamina 2D+1=5, failure. The Wild Die was a 1, so he starts out as Wounded; Willpower 4D-1D(for the Wounded condition)=15, success. He's holding on, despite being ill from cold and overwork. Jather has to look after him.
Streetwise 5D+1-1D=15, success. He gains a contact who can provide controlled substances.
Stamina 3D=12, success.
Blaster Repair 4D=16. She gains a technical post, maintaining laser drills in the shop.
Stamina 2D=4, failure. Willpower 3D+2=16, success. Jather doesn't do well with physical exertion, but he has the resolve to push on. (NB the Stamina roll was a simple failure rather than a mishap, so he doesn't suffer any damage.)
Gambling 6D=24, someone owes him money
Stamina 3D+2=14, as an ex-soldier, Lina is unsurprisingly able to deal with hardship.
Technical 3D=14, just failed... she gets assigned to Maintenance instead of Technical.
The dormitories are gender-segregated. Two of the PCs thus need to make Moderate (15) Persuasion rolls to get the party bunked together. Oosuu 4D+2=22(+5wild)=27; she gets to room with Zil and Lina, + one harmless NPC. Jather rolls 5D+2=15 (but the Wild Die=1, a complication); he gets to room with Wex and two other NPCS, one of whom is a known snitch.
To determine what Morga wants the PCs to do I used Age of Fable's plot generator (link), mixing Cyberpunk with Space Opera.
I got: "The heroes must beset a technician in a fortress, but have to contend with exploration, and opposition from government officials trying to frame someone famous". The framing someone famous didn't really fit, but the rest congealed into the adventure that follows.
I pre-loaded the NPC List with archetypes, and fleshed them out as Events warranted. Some didn't come up due to the vagaries of dice-rolling, but it kept the adventure from seeming forced.
Enough set-up, on to the first (randomly determined) scene...]
Chaos: Average (d10)
Setup: NPC action (blackmailer) - Lie / A representative (=blackmailer pretends to be Morga's agent)
NPC list: contact, target, ISB agent, informant, Imperial commander, rebel agent, love interest, blackmailer, overseer, executive
Threads: survive the wait
The twenty or so searchers stow their cold survival gear, then shuffle off towards the cavernous mess hall. Most of the facility's other 200 labourers are in the recreation area or have returned to their bunks by now, but a few are enjoying the quiet of the nearly empty room. "Mother Jungle be praised," exclaims a hungry Ithorian as the mess droid hands her a tray of food portions, "they left us some green ones!"
Zil has been waiting in the cafeteria as well. She walks up unnoticed and taps a weary Lina on the shoulder as she is joining the serving queue. "Green or not," says Zil, "just put a few in your pockets and meet me back in our room."
Lina sighs. "What about Oosuu?"
"She already knows."
Zil heads back to their spartan quarters to find their fourth bunkmate, a quiet, skittish Selonian named Meeg. Meeg looks up with a start as Zil enters. "Out," says Zil. "I need to talk to my girls."
Meeg doesn't have to be told twice.
Oosuu and Lina trudge in a few minutes later and sit on the Lina's bunk (the bottom one, opposite Meeg's) and begin to mechanically eat their processed nutrient packs. Zil sits on her (top, of course) bunk and waits.
"Zil, why not join search?" asks Oosuu.
"Because I hated that kark, Ornam."
"What Oosuu say about not use Hutt slang? Also, very mean, Zil."
"I was kidding! Sort of. I mean, I did hate him, so it would've looked out of place if I'd volunteered. Plus, I had important business here. And I'm sorry about the Huttese thing. But everyone says 'kark'. It's practically become a Basic word."
"Oosuu not care. Loan word still Huttese."
"Can we not do this again?" sighs Lina. "I thought you had something to tell us."
"I do. Morga's agent has finally made contact."
"Really?" asks Lina. "I was beginning to think there was no job, that we were going to be stuck on Mygeeto for the whole two years of our contract."
"That not how Hutts are," says Oosuu. "Prefer watch suffering."
"Still, it took 'em long enough."
"For a soldier," says Zil, "you sure complain a lot about the conditions here."
"This isn't like being in a garrison -- more like a prison. Ten hour patrols I can handle, ten hours a day mining crystals--"
Lina stops short as the door opens, and one of the more infamous workers enters. Inzoyln is a Bith, far from her homeworld on the other side of the galaxy. She has a reputation for knowing everyone's business, and may be even more 'respected' here than Zil.
"I'll keep this brief," says Inzoyln. "You know Baprasta, the Barabel?"
"She kinda sticks out," says Zil.
"Your task is simple: knock her off."
"Does it matter if it looks like an accident or not?" asks Zil.
"No, just that it's done. But an accident will raise fewer suspicions."
"Do you honestly want to keep a Hutt waiting longer than you have to?"
"Point taken. Is this part of the big job, or just something to keep us from getting too idle?"
"We'll talk about that when it's done. Now I have to get out of here before I'm seen. I was never here." And with that, she slips out into the corridor.
Oosuu falls back on the bed and heaves a huge sigh. "Oosuu hate work Hutts"
Lina just stares.
Inzoyln Template: Bith Industrial Espionage Agent
[I'd asked the Oracle:
Q: Is the target on the NPC list? 50/50 (4+): O1 C10 - No. So a random Archetype (Barabel shockboxer) was selected. Inzoyln's archetype was similarly random, and I gave her some skill dice to suit her role (11D, though I wasn't counting as I added them; I just picked numbers that seemed right).]
Chaos: Out of Control (d8)
Setup: d8=4, Interrupt (was: scope out target)
Interrupt: PC negative - Oosuu - Attract / Jealousy
NPC list: contact, target, ISB agent, informant, Imperial commander, rebel agent, love interest, Inzoyln the Bith blackmailer, overseer, executive, Baprasta the barabel shockboxer (false target)
Threads: survive the wait, false assassination
[Q: What kind of jealousy? (1d6) 1-3 personal, 4-6 professional: 1d6=2
NPC Relationship: hostile
Conversation Mood: cautious
mysterious - rumour - weapons]
Every third day, instead of mining, Oosuu does a shift in the maintenance area fixing and maintaining various tools: laser drills, breathers, personal heating-units, densitometers, etc. etc. The day after the meeting with Inzoyln just so happens to be one of these days, to the Twi'lek's relief. Nothing distracts her so much as having something complicated that she can fix, and with the Hutt's awful task weighing heavily upon her soul, a distraction is sorely needed.
This shift sees her with a large pile of [1d4=] drills needing repair, and in spite of her growing feelings of apprehension she's having a [blaster repair 4D=15] Moderately good day. Oosuu is usually the last one left in the workshop at day's end, always reluctant to leave the relative peace of her electronic mechanisms to be once again submerged in Zil's social machinations.
So it is that Oosuu is holding up the last of the laser drills on her workbench to admire her handiwork, when she is startled from her reverie by a voice behind her.
"So, if it isn't Zil's special little Twi'lek."
Oosuu turns about to see one of the senior techs, a [1d6: 1 Twi'lek, 2 Chiss, 3 Wroonian 4 Zeltron 5-6 Human] Chiss named Yarishe, standing silhouetted in the doorway behind her. Her face is in shadow, but Oosuu can just make out the red eyes glaring at her.
"What say?" asks Oosuu, pushing her goggles up onto her forehead.
"You heard me," sneers Yarishe.
"Yes, Oosuu Zil friend. Why? Yarishe want talk Zil?"
"Yeah, 'Yarishe want talk Zil'. I bet Zil's ready to hear complete sentences for a change."
"Yarishe, leave Oosuu alone. Oosuu not in mood."
"I'd watch how you talk to me if I were you. There's some sharp little tools that got out of the maintenance area somehow and are floating round the compound. A little Twi'lek could get hurt if she weren't careful."
"Why Yarishe threaten?"
"Not a threat, girly. Just saying, you need to watch where you step. Else Zil might be looking for some new blue company."
"Your days are numbered, little Twi'lek. And once you're out of the way--" [UNE: hostile - destruction - the character]
Oosuu starts laughing in spite of herself.
"You wanna go right now?" says Yarishe, stepping forward into the light.
[Oosuu needs to roll Persuasion; the roll is Difficult (staring at 20, +5 for Yarishe's enmity, -5 since she's telling the truth); 4D+2=21, success.]
"Oosuu just Zil friend. But Zil owe life. Yarishe hurt Oosuu, Zil hurt Yarishe. Go now or Oosuu relate conversation. Yarishe never sleep again."
Next post: the conspiracies deepen!
--- Character sheets for reference ---
Template: Human Fixer
Starship Gunnery 3D+2
Template: Devaronian Grifter
Repulsorlift operation 3D
Template: Human Gunrunner
Template: Twi'lek Outlaw Tech
Blaster repair 4D
Computer prog./repair 4D
First Aid 3D+1
Space Transport repair 4D
Starship weapon repair 4D
Major Riilina Cazerdy
Template: Human Merc
Space Transport repair 3D+1