Thursday, 19 April 2018

Experiments in Horror - Silent Legions (part 2)


After a night of phantasmagorically terrifying dreams, Leslie calls the others to let them know he's cracked the code, and suggests they convene at Eleanor's for lunch. She suggests they meet at a pub instead; her housekeeper has the day off and she doesn't want to get left with the washing up. Bettina suggests the 'Spoons in Causton as she's a bit skint. Eleanor offers to pick up the tab as a show of esprit de corps -- falling afoul of a conspiracy of murder and silence is one thing, being seen at a chain pub is quite another!

Leslie hides the original diary in his loft before setting out.

[Q: Will it be OK there? Certain (2+): O4 C7 - Yes. (No one s quite onto them yet)]

They read through Leslie's transliteration of the diary in turns, then decide which bit of information within provides the best clue to follow up. The name James Haverdon appears quite often; [1d4=] Bettina has met him before in a professional capacity, and thinks he will probably make a good ally, or at least willing source of information.

"He hired me once," she explains, "to dig up dirt on his brother -- the black sheep of the Haverdon clan -- that would prevent his returning to England, so he couldn't claim the inheritance. It looks like Gerald Frazer was in contact with Haverdon's sister, Georgina. I'm sure James Haverdon is on our side -- call it instinct -- but I can't just turn up on his doorstep asking about his sister's connection to a dead man. He'd think I was trying to blackmail him..."

"Leave that to me," says Eleanor. "The WI is always raising funds for some worthy cause or other. I'm sure I can get us an appointment with the Baronet."

[Eleanor needs to roll Persuade 8+ to arrange a meeting for this evening: 2d6+1(skill)+1(CHA)=12, success.

Other die rolls for the above--

Actor: Baronet C.K. James Haverdon
d6=male
Age: Aged or mature in their position
Profession: Businessman, clerk, banker, or other white-collar job
Memorable Quirks: Remarkably well-prepared for whatever situation they find
Social Standing: A solid and reliable community member
Relation to Situation: A reluctant participant induced by threat or profit
Their Advantage in the Situation: A network of relatives useful in dealing with the problem

He once employed B to (random Mythic Event): NPC negative - lose / distance; find evidence of felony (d8=murder) so black sheep of family cannot return to claim inheritance.

Q: Why does Bettina think the Actor can help? conceal / friendship : diary hints at Frazer's illicit dealings with family member
Q: Can Eleanor think of a reason to ring up the baronet? 50/50 (4+): O5 C7 - Yes.]



Investigation scene 3 - the Baronet


Eleanor leads the group to the baronet's manse that evening, ostensibly to secure his support for a charity drive raising money to combat teenage delinquency in the county. The pretence hardly lasts until the butler shows them into Haverdon's sitting room, but he seems unperturbed by the deception, and strangely relieved when they begin to tell him their story.

[UNE--
NPC Relationship: neutral
Conversation Mood: cautious
insane - chaos - contacts]


"I would like to help you," says Haverdon, "but of course this may have some bearing on the good name of my family. We cannot afford another incident like the one with broth-- well, miss McAdams, I think you know the incident in question. And I've had enough of people coming begging at my door for strange favours of late."

"I see," says Eleanor, "maybe we could help each other then..."

[The Clue from this (admittedly truncated) scene leads to a random Conflict scene--

{Conflict scene: The thugs of the Enemy seek out the heroes to intimidate or thrash them into breaking off their investigations. The intended violence is unlikely to be lethal unless the Enemy is confident they can get away with it without stirring up yet more trouble.}

It made the most sense to me to invert this, so the PCs are the thugs here.

There are 1d6=4 opponents
All are humans from Bestiary chapter: (1d6)1-3 ordinary, 4 heavy 5 expert 6 leader

I rolled a Cult Tag: Massive Ritual
Scheme (from the Tag options): Create a large-scale "celebration" that triggers the magic]


"It's the Yule Festival planning committee," says Haverdon. "They've been absolutely hounding me of late. Do you know them?"

"I know of them," says Eleanor. "They approached the WI, but we voted not to be a part of it all. The old guard were concerned by the pagan trappings of their celebration. The same ones kicked up a fuss when Mags Fortescue said we should have a Halloween costume night for the kiddies. I just thought it was too American!"

"This is different. Not at all just a bit of harmless fun. They keep saying I must allow the celebrations to take place on my lands. They want me to clear out some of the woods and have a giant bonfire there, that it must take place in that very spot. I'm not a superstitious man, but I tell you, there is something incontrovertibly sinister going on."


Conflict Scene 1


Haverdon has provided the party with a list of names. That night, Bettina sneaks up to the house of the Yule Fire committee chair[d6=]woman, and punctures the tyres of her car. She then posts a note through her door: 'WE CAN GET TO YOU'.

[B needs a Stealth roll of 8+ to puncture the tyres without being seen: 2d6+1(skill)=8, success.
She needs a 6+ Stealth roll to post the note: 10+1=success.]


Leslie hides the transcriptions in his office safe, but the real diary is still in his house. That night, the demon manifests again, but doesn't reach his bedroom before dissolving back to its own hellish dimension. Leslie's dreams are no less troubled than the night before.

[It manifest for 1d6=3 rounds; it needs 1d4=4 rounds to get to Leslie.
Nightmares: +1d6=1 Madness (total now 18)]


The next morning, disturbed by his dreams and another, even more horrible foreboding, Leslie decides to hide diary in his own chimney, just like Gerald had done. He spends the rest of the day in bed [healing 1hp for sleep, +2hp for bed rest].

Eleanor goes into Causton for some shopping. She calls the chairwoman from one of the few remaining phone boxes in England, and asks if the note was received.

[UNE--
NPC Relationship: distrustful
Conversation Mood: withdrawn
knowing - news - equipment]


"Yes, I got your message. I have reported it to the police."

"You don't want them involved. We know too much about you. Cancel Yule or else."

[She needs a Persuade roll of 10+ to make any headway at all: 2d6+1(skill)+1(Cha)=7, failure]

Eleanor's threat is greeted with laughter, and a definitive click. But late that night, Eleanor decides it is she who will have the last word. She slinks up to the chairwoman's house, and is pleased to see four brand new tyres on the car. These she leaves well alone, intent as she is on cutting the car's brake lines.

[Stealth 2d6-1)no skill)=8, success.
She needs a Vehicle roll of 9+ to cut the brake lines: 2d6+0(skill)+1(Int)=10 success

Also that night: the demon appears for 2 rounds, but once again fails to reach Leslie. His nightmares yield 1d6=4 madness.

Q: Does Eleanor's plan succeed? 50/50 (4+): O6 C1 - Yes, and...]


Eleanor calls again from Causton, and repeats her threats.

"I will tell the others we must cancel it," says the chairwoman.

"I suggest you also leave the village."

"We shall see."

- - -

The next day, Eleanor leads the group back to visit Haverdon. She is at first still chuffed with her success in frightening off the Yule Fire committee chairwoman, but by the time the tea is brought into the baronet's study, the feeling has waned.

"We've got them to back down," says Eleanor once the servants have left the study, "but it isn't finished yet, is it?"

"No," sighs Haverdon. "They'll just try some other way."

"How can we stop them?

"Cut off the head of the serpent..."

"I told her to leave town--"

"She's the public face, not the true leader."

"Her name wasn't even in the diary," offers Bettina. "But it does keep mentioning a meeting between 'the leader' and someone known as 'La Belle Dame'."

Haverdon laughs. "That's a very old nickname; I'm surprised Frazer even knew it. It refers to Janice Messing -- professor emerita, St John's college. We did English at Cambridge together. Oh, it seems an age ago! You see, she was obsessed with Keats..."

[The adventure was in danger of wandering all over the place, so I made the decision that Haverdon's information would lead to the final Investigation Scene.

I rolled:

The clue is in a Place in possession of an Actor who has a reason not to admit their possession of it, perhaps due to threats by an Enemy, rivalry with a Friend, or their own actions in obtaining it.

Actor Generation--
d6=F

Actor: Professor Janice Messing
Age: Aged or mature in their position.

Profession: Teacher, professor, or other education worker.
Memorable Quirks: Always forgetting things or fumbling simple matters
Social Standing: A solid and reliable community member
Relation to Situation: The person responsible for hiding it or investigating it
Their Advantage in the Situation: Knowledge of a secret useful to them in opposing the PCs

Q: Does she live alone? 50/50 (4+): O4 C8 - Yes]



Investigation Scene 4


Janice Messing looks suspiciously at the strangers on the doorstep of her semi-detached. "Who did you say you were with again?"

"The WI," says Eleanor. "We've roped our partners into helping, as you can see."

[E needs to roll a Persuade of 9+ to gain admittance: 2d6+2=6, fail.]

"I'm not receiving visitors today"

"Fine. I'd hoped to do this in private, but you leave me no choice. We're actually investigating the death of Gerald Frazer... and related matters. The trail has led us here. I Think you'd rather talk to us than to the police."

[One more try, but at 11+: 2d6+2=4]

"Who sent you? Not that ridiculous old fool, Haverdon? It is I who shall be calling the police if you don't leave this very instant." [UNE: prejudiced - discrimination - contacts]

Leslie pushes through the half-open door and into her house.

[Her STR is 3d6=9. Opposed STR checks: L 2d6+1=9 vs. her 2d6=4, success]

"What are you doing?!" shrieks the professor.

"Quiet!" says Leslie. "We came here for answers and you're going to provide them... or else."

[Q: Anyone else in the house? Unlikely (5+): O2 C1 - No, and... neighbours are out.

Eleanor spends an Expertise point to activate her Folie à deux class ability, allowing an automatic success on her Persuade skill to intimidate. If the target is under supernatural influence, she gets a Mental saving throw to avoid the effect. To preserve suspense, I decided to roll the save first,  using the UNE chart to determine her power level relative to the PCs if needed, and only ask the Oracle about supernatural influence if the save is a (probable success). But I rolled 1d20=1! There's no way that could succeed.]


Eleanor lays the course of their investigations out plainly before the professor, who nods knowingly but says nothing.

"I've fired a warning shot across the cult's bow," concludes Eleanor, "and now the kid gloves are off. You don't want to find yourself on the wrong side of this equation, or you'll find I can do much more injury to an old English teacher than just stringing together mixed metaphors."

"I don't want anything to do with them anymore," says the professor. "They're a bad lot, and up to something nefarious. If you want my help, I will give it, on the condition that you never return here again." [UNE: scheming - plot - current scene]

"Done."

"Good. The cult leader is a [d6=]woman called Xanthippe Deniston. She lives at Dovecoate Manor, near Midsomer Mallow. There's a back way into the house -- I'd come in through the woods, not the road. You needn't worry about any guard dogs; no animals can stand being so close to the corruption. But there may be.... other sorts of guardians."

"Can you offer us any advice?"

"Only that they may be on to you. She sent round some of her lackeys just yesterday, asking if any meddlesome persons had been to see me." [UNE: mysterious - shadows - previous scene]

[Q: Is there an ambush when the PCs leave? 50/50 (4+): O1 C1 - No, and... not being followed, or else followers really inept
+Event:  PC positive (d4=Eleanor)- open / conversation]


Following their interview with Professor Messing, the investigators retire to the nearest pub to plan their next move over lunch and a quick pint (except for Eleanor, who naturally always has white wine). They decide they must follow up the lead this very night, so after lunch they will all rest up and  equip for another nocturnal mission.

Before leaving the pub, Eleanor must excuse herself to go powder her nose. The pub's smoking area is right outside the ladies', and as luck would have it [the Event above], one of the cultists is in this very pub. [1d6=]He has just stepped out to have a fag whilst he makes a call to one of his co-conspirators. Eleanor can hear every unguarded word through the open ventilation window.

[UNE--
NPC Relationship: neutral
Conversation Mood: neutral
scheming - means - relics

Relics? d30=cup]


"I don't know... no... no... She won't let us use the chalice... Yes, I told her... Yes, of course... She won't let it out of the display cabinet... Really, all that power, and she treats it like the good china... Ha, ha, yeah... Ok, catch you later. Cheers... Ha, ha, yeah, Iey'wve'gyg-mah to you too, matey."

to be continued...

Friday, 13 April 2018

Experiments in Horror - Silent Legions (part 1)


Brief Prefatory Remarks

Writers block has lately damned this (and my other) blog to silence. I tried going back to old games, but that didn't seem to spark my creativity sufficiently. I decided something new and simple might be a good idea, hoping that coming to something fresh might provide the necessary spark, but simplicity ever eludes me. So instead I decided the stars were right for dusting off one of the horror game ideas I've always been intending to try but never seem to get round to starting. Of course, picking one proved to be the next obstacle. After no small amount of vacillation and hesitancy, I decided that there were three serious contenders, so I might as well try them all and make a connected series of posts out of it. But I will spare you any further wittering, and jump right into the first Experiment.

Silent Legions

Set Up

I finally invested in a copy of Silent Legions back in October, intending to use the sandbox tools for other things, but after a read-through decided I would like to try playing it as-is. This initial Experiment is actually my first go at Silent Legions; the adventure did stall for several months, but I was inspired to finish it when I came up with the idea for the series.

I wanted it to run it using the Adventure Template tables, but other than that I had no real ideas. I usually avoid modern settings altogether, as I can never think of good characters. There's always the archetype of the scholar hunting down forgotten lore hidden in ancient, sometimes unspeakable texts, but I can play that in real life at the BL.

So I decided to make random characters and use that as a jumping off point. I used a party of four so I could have one of each character class. Stats were rolled 3d6 in order for each, as Silent Legions allows you to increase one stat to 14, based on your class. Everything that could be rolled, was.

Rather than go through it in detail, I will just summarise the PCs, and include their character sheets below for those who are interested (and my own reference).

- Terence Blevins is the Investigator. I rolled Bureaucrat for his background, and decided that he works on the local county council's planning committee.

- Bettina McAdams is the Scholar. Her background is Private Investigator. After uni, she wasn't sure what to do with an English degree, and decided to set herself up as a PI. Shadowing unfaithful spouses doesn't pay particularly well, so she's Struggling to make ends meet (taking the Struggling wealth level gave her a bonus skill).

- The Tough character is a man by the name of Leslie Cavanaugh. I rolled Antiquarian for his background, and decided the combination of that with his character class meant that he owned a military memorabilia shop. He takes fencing classes to stay fit, being nearly 50 (Combat skill 0, Str 16).

- Eleanor Carlisle-Landry is the Socialite. She's a Stay-at-home-spouse (Background), married to an Affluent (Wealth) businessman whose work requires frequent long trips abroad.

According to the rulebook, each player's character should have a relationship with the character of the player to their left (there's a d12 table provided). I made a 4-character sheet, so I rolled them in a clockwise fashion. Thus we find that Terence is Bettina's friend from book club; when Bettina was a teenager, she had a summer job working at Leslie's shop; Leslie once had an affair with Eleanor; Terence was once indicted for corruption, and Eleanor was his character witness in court (he was acquitted).

At this point they were looking more like the cast of a Midsomer Murders episode than a party of occult investigators. So I said 'fuck it' and used Midsomer for the setting. Terence and Bettina live in Causton, the other two live in one of the villages. If I need a map, there's one in the DVD special features, but I decided not to pre-roll Tags for any of the locations and just see how things turned out.

Patrick Robinson as Terence Blevins
Terence Blevins
Male, Age 33
Class: Investigator
Background: Bureaucrat
Wealth: Average
Str 8 Int 9 Wis 14 Dex 12 Con 9 Cha 13
AC 9, Att +1, HP 4
Computer 0, Culture/Home 0, Law 1, Perception 1, Persuade 0, Research 0, Leadership 0
Connection: friend of Bettina from book club


Amanda Ryan as Bettina McAdams
Bettina McAdams
Female, Age 24
Class: Scholar
Background: Private eye
Wealth: Struggling
Str 8 Int 13 Wis 14 Dex 10 Con 11 Cha 6
AC 9, Att +0, HP 4
Culture/Home 0, Law 0, Occult 0, Perception 0, Research 0, Science 0, Stealth 1, Gambling 0
Connection: once had summer job at Leslie's shop


David Troughton as Leslie Cavanaugh
Leslie Cavanaugh
Male, Age 48
Class: Tough
Background: Antiquarian
Wealth: Average
Str 16 Int 12 Wis 11 Dex 14 Con 11 Cha 11
AC 8, Att +1, HP 6
Culture/Home 1, Business 0, History 1, Language 0 (French), Athletics 0, Combat/Primitive 0, Tactics 0
Connection: had affair with Eleanor



Lucy Punch as Eleanor Carlisle-Landry
Eleanor Carlisle-Landry
Female, Age 36
Class: Socialite
Background: Stay-at-home spouse
Wealth: Affluent
Str 11 Int 14 Wis 16 Dex 11 Con 9 Cha 14
AC 9, Att +1, HP 3
Culture/Home 1, Perception 0, Persuade 1, Vehicle/Land 0, Religion 0, Athletics 0
Connection: once was called to court as Terence's character witness


My toolbox for the experiment is:

Now then, on to...

The Adventure

[The rulebook suggests starting to build an Adventure Template by first rolling the Resolution and working backwards. I'm not sure how beneficial an idea this is for solo gaming, but I rolled one anyway and put it at the bottom of my notes in case I needed to refer to it:

Resolution (no time pressure): An Enemy has retreated here to recover after a defeat or setback, and is using a Scheme to further their control of their new home. The investigations reveal both the reason for the Enemy’s flight here and the nature of the tools being used.

I never actually did until now, and I'm kind of pleased at how things more -or-less got to it of their own accord. Or at least it did in retrospect; perhaps it was a subconscious pull.


The Hook

The hook is the initial scene for the adventure wherein the PCs become involved. I rolled:

The Hook: The heroes stumble across the remains of a Crime connected to a Secret at the site, or suddenly find themselves in the middle of the Crime in progress.

The Secret would need to be found out through play, so I left that to one side. I rolled the Crime according to the One Roll Crime Creation tables:

Crime:
A relative or neighbour of the victim discovered it.
Police attitude: Restrained. Someone important wants this hushed up.
Clue: Vehicle identification leads toward the culprit
Gossip: Very quiet, with few people having heard of it.
Seeming nature: Street violence. Beatings, muggings, random murder
witnesses: Malicious. They twisted what they saw to hurt someone.

Now to set the scene...]


It is a lovely English summer's day (24°C, overcast), perfect for the village fete in Midsomer Worthy. In addition to the folk who make their homes in the village, the fete has drawn punters from all over the Midlands, and even some tourists from as far afield as London. All the usual diversions are on offer: ring toss, a "gypsy" fortune teller, morris dancing, a beer tent, a Pimm's tent, another beer tent, face painting for the kids, etc. But unbeknownst to all save a select and scheming few, something sinister is afoot. ..


At their last book club meeting, Bettina had convinced Terrance to go with her to the fete. As our story opens, she is having her cards read in the fortune teller's tent. Terence is waiting outside, as last year "Madame Yolanda" (Mrs. Iverson) made a clumsy pass at him under the pretence of reading his palm.

Bettina finally emerges, and begins to laughingly relate the portentous news from her reading. "She said there would be a handsome gentleman in my future! I think her powers of observation leave a bit to be desired! Now, if--"

Suddenly a scream pierces the air, and blue car tears out of the parking lot in a cloud of dust and gravel, nearly running down several people. Bettina instinctively notes the license plate number. Some police appear moments later, and start ushering people away from the parking lot.

Terence hears a shrill, officious voice behind him demanding to know what's going on. He wheels about to see Eleanor, wearing a stylish sundress and carrying a clipboard, upon which the scores for the WI baking competition are being tallied. Behind her, an older gentleman is struggling to catch up, a drink in each hand and his cane tucked awkwardly beneath his arm.

"Terence! I thought you didn't like fetes." asks Eleanor.

"Not really, but--"

"Did you see what happened?"

"No, I--"

"I'm going to find out. Leslie, wait here."

Eleanor goes over to the police, who at first try to shoo her away, but her inimitable charm wins over the detective constable. She rejoins her friends shortly thereafter.

[Eleanor spent an Expertise Point (of which 1st level characters have 2) to activate her Socialite class ability italFolie à deuxital, allowing her to win  an otherwise impossible (or nearly: 13+ needed) Persuade skill check.]

"You look pleased with yourself," says Terence.

"The constable 'wasn't supposed to say anything', so don't go blabbing, but it looks like Gerald Frazer's gone and gotten himself murdered!"

"He had it coming," muses Leslie.

"Oh, tut. He was a patently absurd little man, but he didn't have any enemies. Not any real ones, at any rate."

"He must've had at least one."

"Why are the police trying to keep it quiet?" asks Bettina.

"And you are...?" sneers Eleanor.

"This is my friend, Bettina," offers Terence.

"Oh?" asks Eleanor, raising her eyebrow and looking Bettina over. "Do tell!"

"My friend whom I told you about. From book club."

"Oh. Of course. I thought she did look a bit sporty for your taste." She turns back to Bettina. "But now that you mention it, it does seem a little odd."

"Not only that," continues Bettina, "but I had a quick wander over that way. And before they turned me back, I overheard one of the witnesses giving a statement. She said it was a yellow Prius that fled the scene. I saw it too, and it was definitely a dark blue Vauxhall. That's not the sort of mistake one makes, even in duress. Strange, don't you think?"

"Did I mention Bettina's a private detective?" adds Terence.

[Bettina needed to make a Perception skill roll of 6+: 2d6+1(wis)+0(skill)=8, success.

I made a few rolls on the Actor generation tables to determine who the victim was: up-and-coming, teacher, bad plastic surgery (pec implants), Formerly honoured but now in less repute (also pec implants).]



Introduction

[The Introduction Scene is where the PCs realise there was much more to Hook scene  than they thought, and it steers them in the direction of the adventure.

Introduction: A Friend is willing to give them leads to the Investigation scenes, which they acquired as part of a recent social or physical Conflict that they won. The Enemy wants a rematch, and the Friend and possibly the PCs will be involved in yet another Conflict related to their strife.

The Friend was rolled up on the Actor generation tables--

Charles Bairstow
Age: decrepit
Profession: Carpenter
Always asking for favors or “loans”, whether petty or large
An outcast, from personal qualities.
Relation: Someone now in hiding, thought dead or silenced
Relation to situation: They feel a great debt of honor towards someone involved

A lot of what I rolled didn't seem immediately relevant, especially as this was the first adventure, but it was still enough to spark a scene.]


The next day, the local papers contain a very subdued report of the murder. The report does state that several eyewitness accounts reported seeing a yellow Prius fleeing the scene, which they believe belongs to Charles Bairstow of Badger's Drift. Mr. Bairstow is currently being sought by the police.

Eleanor's suspicious mind takes over and she rings up Charles, but the call goes straight to voicemail. She gets a call later that day from an unrecognised number, and is surprised/relieved/intrigued to hear Charles' voice when she answers. She tells him everything that happened, and of her and her friends' suspicions. He convinces her that she and the others are the only ones who can save him, but that it may be dangerous for them. She readily agrees to help; this is far more exciting than judging cakes and jams!

A meeting is set for Saturday at The Swan in Badger's Drift. Eleanor reserves the function room for a 'fundraiser committee meeting'.

When they have all arrived, and Eleanor's bought the first round, a private courier enters, hands over a packet, and abruptly leaves. The packet contains dozens of newspaper clippings, a key, a packet of letters, and a typed letter from Bairstow saying that Frazer had been in contact with him about certain unspeakable events which he had discovered to have taken place in the village.

The letter concludes with another tantalisingly cryptic statement: "I may not reveal my involvement in these matters at this time, but if you will help me, I will explain it all afterwards."

[The contents of the packet were just off the top of my head. I left them vague in hopes that it would all make sense later, and details would emerge through play. From a game mechanics perspective, the leads (from the Introduction scene rolled) were going to be a set of three Investigation scenes with associated Challenges.

The scenes rolled were:

-The clue is in an abandoned Place, where one or more challenges lie between the PCs and obtaining it.
-The object is obtained relatively easily, but an Actor is needed to make its significance clear, the situation complicated by that Actor’s motivations and potential challenges to reaching them.
-The clue is somehow dangerous to its possessor, and has been locked away or hidden away not just to keep it safe, but also to keep bystanders from being harmed by it. Challenges face those who would attempt to reclaim it.

I rolled 1d4 to see which class wouldn't get a challenge at this stage. The characters will end up facing--

-Investigator challenge: Find object at home of Frazer - It’s been hidden behind a brick or other structural object.
-Scholar challenge: A diary scripted in a private cipher created by the author. - obvs. above-mentioned object; need help/library to decipher
-Tough challenge: environmental danger: Structural weakness in stairs or ladders.


Investigation scene 1: Frazer's home

They decide that they cannot delay their investigations for another day. After a fortifying pub dinner, they go off to their respective homes and dress for a nocturnal operation, agreeing to meet at Eleanor's house at 1am.

Everyone is dressed in black. Eleanor has found enough balaclavas for the whole group -- she had extras in the attic with her skiing gear. They pile into Terence's car and drive to the house of Gerald Frazer.

Due to her profession, Bettina is unanimously chosen to do the actual breaking in. She doesn't protest, until such a time as it becomes evident that lockpicking isn't really a part of her skill set.

[She needs to roll 8+ on Security: 2d6-1(no skill)=5, failure]

So she takes a stone from the garden and breaks the window in the back door instead.

[Q: Are they spotted? Unlikely (5+): O6 C2 - Yes, and...
Q: By whom? 1 police, 2 thugs, 3 burglars, 4 neighbours, 5 guard dog, 6 guard beast]


Bettina snakes her arm through the broken window and unlocks the door. But she has not gone five steps inside when a largish angry mutt starts barking, and bares its teeth at the intruders.

[Initiative: PCs 5, dog 8]

The mutt snaps viciously at Bettina, but she backpedals just out of its reach [it missed]. Everyone turns and flees out the door. The dog's jaws clamp down on Bettina's calf as she runs away, but she manages to shake it loose. Leslie manages to slam the door in the dog's face the moment Bettina emerges into the garden.

They rush back to the car, and speed off into the night.

[The dog was entitled to a free attack since Bettina fled the combat without taking an action to disengage. It hit her for 1 damage, leaving her with 3hp; she heals the wound with 8 hours of sleep.]

They come back the next night with an armful of raw steaks.

[Q: Does this work? Certain (2+): O2 C3 - Yes, but...]

Whoever has been feeding Gerald's dog has boarded over the broken window, but Leslie manages to jimmy a lounge window open. The dog stops growling when she smells the meat, and happily ignores the intruders in favour of the special treat -- Eleanor only shops at the best local butcher.

They turn over the house, but there seems to be absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. Leslie nearly kills himself when the extensible ladder to the loft gives way [the Tough class challenge; he made his saving throw so didn't take falling damage]. When he helps Eleanor to have a look, she reports that it's empty.

[Perception roll 6+ : Terence 2d6+1(wis)-1(no skill)=11, success]

Meanwhile, Terrance has found a strange parcel wrapped in black velvet and secured with jeweller's wire hidden up the chimney. By this time, the dog has finished her repast and has begun growling. They avoid the kitchen and its peevish occupant, making their exit via the front door.

[Q: Are they spotted? 50/50: 03 C8 - No.]


Investigation scene 2: the diary

Back at Eleanor's, they proceed directly to her kitchen for a good stiff drink. Glasses in hand, they turn their attention to their prize. The book itself is a locked diary, but aside from this fact its appearance is wholly out of keeping with the mystery surrounding it, for it was obviously purchased down the local WH Smith's. It is but the work of a second for Bettina to force the lock with a butter knife.

The pages are covered in an incomprehensible jumble of letters. The writing begins very neatly on the first page, but soon becomes sloppier and more frantic.

"What language is this?" asks Eleanor.

"Not a language," says Leslie. "I think this is written in code."

Passing it round and round the table does not bring them any closer to its decipherment, no matter how many G&Ts they apply to the problem. By dawn, no one is in a fit state to drive, so Eleanor puts them up for the 'night'. They decide to each take a day with the diary in turn to attempt cracking the code.

[They need roll of 9+ on Language to break the code.]

Bettina takes the first turn, but she cannot make any sense of the thing [her Deep Gnosis class ability doesn't help, since she doesn't have the requisite skill for the challenge]. Leslie picks it up from her office the next day, and puts his mind to the problem.

[2d6+0(skill)=10, success!

Q: So is it in English? 50/50 (4+): O6 C6 - Yes
+Event:  Horror - PC - appear / presence
Q: Which PC? (1d6): 1 T, 2 E, 3 B, 4-6 L (since it makes sense to come from the diary); d6=L]


Leslie decides to apply the Caesar cipher (A=C, B=D, C=E etc.), and is pleased to find he has cracked the code in no time at all. It is still a laborious task to copy out the diary into a readable format, but the handwriting does become rather large and unrestrained towards the end, so the page count of his transliteration is significantly lessened.

The diary records a series of strange events, brief conversations, wild suspicions, and horrific deductions. "Pure twaddle," says Leslie under his breath as he writes out some of the headier passages, but after a time his flesh starts to creep and he is left with the unwholesome certainty that none of the words before him are untrue, or even exaggerated. Some of the passages lapse into a barbarous tongue, the which he cannot comprehend at all. But they do remind him ever so much of the sorts of primitive magico-religious incantations he once read about in those Jane Harrison books on his shelf. He feels a brief flutter of shame: allowing himself to shudder at the idea of a dionysiac snake-cult or some such rot -- a sensible chap of his age! No, he's been at this too long, and fatigue is making him dreamy. Best to have a stiff scotch, then off to bed.

But his fears, it seem, were all too well-founded. For copying out the incantations, though he understood them not, activated the evil spell, and attracted the attention of a malicious entity on another plane of existence. The thing coalesces that night in Leslie's bedchamber, pouring like smoke out of the accursed diary. Leslie is awakened by a biting cold, as the thing's translucent claw reaches out to grasp his shoulder. He turns with a start, and is confronted by the demonic visage, so much like a man's but twisted and warped into a snarling, toothy caricature. He tries to scream but cannot, as the cold spreads through his limbs. And then the thing is gone.

[For the entity's stats, I just used the Ghost in the bestiary chapter. It appears by the diary or copy nightly, and attacks for 1d6 rounds.

This night it only manifested for d6=2 rounds. In total, Leslie took 4 damage. Seeing the thing earned him 1d8=8 madness.

I wasn't sure if he'd call anyone else so I rolled a d4 with the proviso that if his number came up (it did) he wouldn't reach out. I decided that toughing it out alone would earn him +1d6=3 madness.

Q: Does he get enough sleep for healing purposes? 50/50 (4+): O4 C3 - Yes, but... terrible nightmares.

According to the Scene roll, simply being near the diary is dangerous. So anyone sleeping by diary will gain 1d6 madness per night, whether or not it has been read. Bettina gained 1d6=1 Madness. Leslie gains another 1d6=6. His total madness is now 17; there are no ill effects yet. He heals 1hp by morning, so he's back to 3hp.]


to be continued...

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Star Wars RPG solo - Part 24: Escape from Spire Base

Meanwhile...Lina and Baprasta have been sitting on the floor out of sight in the Juggernaut's cockpit, anxiously listening to the comlink chatter, wondering if they are supposed to be starting the vehicle or not. When they get Zil's final order, Lina sighs. "I guess this was all for nothing. I was kind of looking forward to driving this thing. If Zil let me."

"I'm sure the barge will be fun," says Baprasta. "Colder, but fun."

They open the outer hatch and slide out into the snow. Lina crouches low and instinctively takes the lead, motioning for Baprasta to follow her. The Barabel is relieved to know that this Human knows what she's doing, and hopes she can keep from embarrassing herself in front of the professional soldier.

[B&L sneak L 2D+1=10, B 3D+1=20 (wild6+4)
Perception roll for Stormtrooper unit 3d=9]


The way is mostly clear. At one point a unit of stormtroopers crosses their path, but they conceal themselves amongst a collection of spare duracrete support pylons, and the imperials pass them by without a second glance.


Meanwhile...

Zil's band is trotting by a circuitous route towards the crystal sorting station. Zil and Wex, still clad in stormtrooper armour, take the lead. Oosuu and Dr. Ehks follow at a short distance behind.

[Q: Encounter? 50/50 (4+): O6 C3 - Yes, but... normal stormtroopers
Zil needs an Easy (10) Con roll: 3D=11]


As luck would have it, they round a corner right into a stormtrooper patrol. "They went that way!" shouts Zil. "You guys go left, we'll go right and cut them off!"

The stormtroopers charge off without a word.

[J runs (2x speed) 3D=8, ok
Q: Does he evade pursuit? 50/50 (4+): O2 C6 - No.

I rolled 1d6 for each group of PCs to see what order they'd arrive in, taking the results as rounds.

Timing:
Z,W,X,O round 1
B&L round 2
J round 4]


Zil's band rushes into the sorting station and out the other side without impediment. Lina sees them from her hiding spot, and she and Baprasta follow shortly thereafter. Zil leads the way, running quickly down the stone steps carved into the cliff face and onto the short dock.
The long, tapering barge by the dock is about halfway full of crystals. Two more barges are connected in a train before it, heaped to the brim with crystals and bobbing precariously in the swiftly flowing icy current. Three more barges empty are connected behind, secured out of sight beneath the rocky overhang.

The barge is longer than the dock, so Zil and her companions must trot carefully along the slippery, metre-wide rim to reach the second barge. The barge couplers are huge masses of interlocking metal and heavy-duty cables, each side jutting a metre out from its housing. Dr. Ehks skitters with ease over the coupler into the second car. Wex, Oosuu, and Zil aren't far behind him.

Red streaks of light flash out overhead from the cliff top -- blaster bolts! The sound reaches everyone's ears moments later, followed by the ever-increasing howl of fear coming steadily toward them. Then Jather appears, silhouetted by the yellow base lights, as he leaps at full bore over the top of the cliff. The laser fire lights up the misty air like a halo round the Devaronian, who is propelled down almost to the middle of the barge below. He sinks up to his knees in the pile of loose crystals, dazed but whole.

The four stormtroopers pursuing Jather stop at the cliff edge, as eight snowtroopers come into view, rushing down the stone steps to the dock.

[Jather spent his Force Point to run and jump over the edge whilst dodging. The force point DOUBLES all his die codes, but he has a subsequent -2D penalty to each for taking 3 actions.

Running (Easy)  (3Dx2=6D)-2D: 4D=18 vs. 10, success
Dodge (4D+2=8D+4)-2D: 6D+4=28 (stormtroopers unsurprisingly miss)
Jump (2Dx2=4D)-2D: 2D=6, fail, so takes full damage from fall

Strength x2(for Force Point):4D=16 vs. damage 3D=16, stun


setup

At this point it went into proper combat rounds. This was even more complicated than the firefight in the diner, so I used a map: 1 square = 1 metre. I scanned it and used Paint to move the combatants and show movement.

The PCs are all indicated by their initials, with an X for Dr. Ehks. 1-4 are the normal stormtroopers, 5-12 are the snowtroopers.

There are 6 barges total
1d6=3; #3 is 1d100=55% full
4,5,6 under overhang

The barges are 15m long, 5m wide at the backs tapering to 3m at the front. The barge rims are about a metre wide.

Movement:
-Easy (10) climb to get up from inside half-full #3
-Moderate (12) to move over crystals
-Moderate (12) Jumping roll (as part of movement allowance) to leap between barges
 or
 Easy (10) Climbing roll (full round activity) to climb over a coupler
-Barge sides are Easy (8) terrain, BUT any Mishap or Complication (a 1 on the Wild die) rolled whilst on them requires an immediate Easy (10) Dexterity roll to not slip off.
-the dock is safe]


Round 1

[Round 1]
Jather leaps to his feet and rushes to join his friends at the rear of the barge, but the stormtroopers atop the cliff have him in their sights. The blaster bolts fly furiously round him, shattering crystals behind and beside him as he runs. But the highly-trained stormtroopers are merely manoeuvring him into a crossfire. Jather collapses face first, wisps of smoke rising from his back.

Dr. Ehks is intent on getting to the droid pilot, and clambers across into the first barge. Wex and Zil fire at the snowtroopers as they advance from the dock onto the barge rim. Two of them are hit in the barrage, but their armour deflect the bolts, and they continue undaunted. Oosuu drops her heavy bag onto the crystals behind her, and squeezes off a lucky shot which catches a snowtrooper right in the visor. The trooper crumples; the others step over him without a moment's hesitation and return fire. Bolts sizzle  by the Twi'lek's head, and thud off both Wex and Zil's stolen armour. They are shaken by the force of the impact, but otherwise unharmed.

[J moves ~10m to end of barge, full dodge 4D+2=11 +range 8

2 pairs of stormtroopers fire on him 4D+1D= 19, 20 hit 2x
18vs9=Incap.
25vs7=Killed

X climbs to barge 1, 10, success

O fires, drops bag 3D+2-1D=12, hits #5, 16v7, Incap
W fires 4D=22, hits #4; 10vs.15, no dmg
Z fires 3D+1=21, hits #6  11vs.20, no damage

L scrambles across, climb 3D+2=15, success
B full dodge 4D+2=16

snowtroopers advance, firing -1D 2acts, -1D armour, +1D combine=4D
PC dodge (reaction)
6 L dodge 3D+2=15; att 3D=12 miss
7&8 Wex hit 14vs11=stun(-1D)
9&10 O dodge, 10 vs. 11 missed
11&12 Z hit 19 vs16, stun (-1D)]


Round 2

[Round 2]
Both Wex and Zil decide to put some distance between themselves and the advancing snowtroopers, ducking and weaving as they go. The stormtroopers on the cliff edge turn all their guns on Wex. A blast hits him in the stomach and he falls, almost rolling over the side. He catches himself at the last instant, and winces at the sight of his blood staining the snowy deck beneath him. Oosuu hesitates, then follows her retreating companions. She is certain that she can feel the heat of the blaster bolts whizzing past her lekku. Dr. Ehks makes it to the cockpit.

The snowtroopers are coming up towards the bow of the barge. One slips on the rim and tumbles into the ice flow, disappearing in an instant. The others continue unperturbed.

Baprasta had panicked, and was cowering against the side of the barge, hoping to remain out of sight. But the sight of poor Jather's demise and the relentless advance of the Imperial terror troops is suddenly more than she can bear. A sudden swell of heroism takes hold of her, causing her cold reptilian blood to run hot. She leaps up and charges straight at the nearest snowtrooper within the barge. Even an elite soldier of the mighty Empire can feel fear when an enraged Barabel is bearing down upon them. The hapless soul stands rooted in place as Baprasta scoops him up and in a single fluid motion hurls him right into the next snowtrooper behind him. There is a crunch of composite plastoid armour plating and bone, then the bodies fall into the crystals in a contorted heap. Some of the other snowtroopers have the presence of mind to fire at the Barabel. Some miss in their haste and panic, and some do not, but between the living Force driving her actions and the heavy scales covering her muscular form, she scarcely feels it.


[X run to cockpit 

W&Z retreat, full dodge
L get blaster from bag
O after Z, full dodge
L dodge (3D+2=18), get gun

ST 1-4 fire Wex +2D
hit 5D=18 3D=14, wounded; dx 1D+2=10 (Wild6) doesn't fall in

6-8 up to bow of barge, firing at L O Z
all miss, 8 rolls wild 1, fails dex, falls in


B spends force point
half move to #9, lift(grapple, throw at 10

-2D for 2 actions
Grapple : 10D=21, ok
Throw 4D+4=20, diff 15

damage 10D=34, vs6, dead
10 dodge fail 36 vs. 16, dead

dodge other two's shots: (8D+4-3D=)5D+4=13
1 hit: 5D=21 vs. 5Dx2=39, no damage]


Round 3

[Round 3]
Dr. Ehks jumps behind the controls in the cramped cockpit, sitting on the deactivated droid pilot's lap. He slams down the release lever, and the barge train detaches from its magnetic moorings with a lurch and begin to drift in the current.

The sudden shift throws everyone off balance. No one goes over the side, but most find it impossible to do anything other than try to keep their footing.

Lina stands with legs braced, and unleashes a short-range fusillade across the coupler at the two snowtroopers who have reached the bow. One of them falls, a smoking hole bored in his midsection. The other shrugs off the blasts as they ricochet off his chest plate.

Down in the barge, Baprasta's momentum carries her right into the next snowtrooper. She delivers a powerful uppercut, but the snowtrooper's armour proves harder to crack at this angle. He falls back wounded, but not yet out of the fight.

The stormtroopers on the cliff train their blasters on Baprasta. Bolt after bolt thuds harmlessly off her scales, until one hits her in a vital spot, and she drops.


[X detaches barges from dock

sudden shift requires Mod (15) dex roll to act this round

W fail
Z fail
O fail
L ok, fires at 6&7 10,12 hits
fail dodges
no damage, killed
B ok, atts 11 brawl; 20vs13, wounded

1,2 fire on B
B fails dodge 19vs 24, no damage
3,4 fires on B 17 vs. 29, Incap]


Round 4

[Round 04]
Oosuu stands her ground, blasting away at the snowtroopers, but ineffectually. Zil moves onto the crystal pile, away from the slippery edge. She drops prone to present a smaller target, and brace her E-11 for a better shot. Wex sees the wisdom in her actions, and crawls from the rim onto the pile beside her. Lina retreats a few paces backwards, firing all the while. The snowtrooper seems nigh impervious to the energy bolts splashing off his chest plate -- until he tries to take aim at Lina. The swaying of the barge throws off his balance as the blaster barks in his hands, and red bolts streak into the sky.

The snowtroopers in the half-empty barge trot up to join their fellow on the bow. One, though still reeling from the Barabel's punch, makes the short climb, as the other slips on a patch of ice and slides back down. The stormtroopers upon the cliff edge turn almost as one and run down the steps to the dock, before the barges are swept away by the current.

[W&Z move onto crystals, drop prone
L backs up 5m (half-move = free action, no roll), fires
7 dodges 5D=19 vs. 3D=17, hit : 16vs13, stun (-1D)
O fires at 7, miss

7 fires at Lina : 3D=8, wild1=mishap, Dex roll 1D+1Dboots=11, doesn't slip

11&12 advance, climb up side: 3D-1D(2actions)+1Dboots; 3D=13,8
one makes it, other slips back down

1,2,3,4 run down stairs - Easy (7) move rolls: 7,12,9,10 all ok ~14m to get to bottom of steps]


Round 5

[Round 05]
Two more snowtroopers fall under the relentless hail of energy blasts. Only one snowtrooper is left standing. He finally manages to scale the side of the barge up to the bow, and even gets a few shots of his own off once atop it. He thinks not of his fallen comrades, only the inevitability of Victory for the Empire.

The four stormtroopers leap from the dock into the empty fifth barge. They too think of nothing save Victory.

[L fires at 7 hit; dam 22vs7, mortal
W fire at 11 hit; 27vs7, killed

12 climb ok, fires at L (dodge) =miss

1,2,3,4, jump into barge #5
Easy (10) jump: 7,10,17,14, one fails (slips but no damage from fall (Strength 4D=28(wild) vs. Damage 3D=9)]


Round 6

[Round 06]
As the barge train gains momentum in the ice river, bodies on the rims begin to slide off. Two disappear over the side into the swift current, one plops down into the half-empty barge. The firefight continues, but instability and constant motion causes the blasts to streak away from the action altogether. Oosuu decides to get onto the crystal pile lest she be pitched overboard. A lucky shot hits the snowtrooper in the shoulder and he nearly goes over, but stands rooted to the spot with fanatical determination. Ignorant of the pain, he fires back at Lina. His bolt grazes her temple. A lesser soldier might collapse, but Lina's training and fortitude are the equal of any Imperial. She grits her teeth against the ringing in her ear and shouts back with inarticulate defiance.

[L fires at 12, 12 dodges 3D=15! L miss
W hits 12 (5D -1D armour -1D wounded=16(wild 6+3)), wounded (NB  I often forget that Wounds drop one prone... even when I remember earlier in the fight!)
Z miss
O miss

12 hits Lina 3D+2=8, spend chr pt +5=13 vs. 5D=19, Wounded

1&2 help 3&4 climb up to rim of #5]


Round 7

[Round 07]
Bolt after bolt splashes off the snowtrooper's armour. Each one knocks him back a step, and he falls senseless into the half empty barge. But whilst he is vanquished, the remaining stormtroopers are eager to fight. They have all climbed up onto the bow of the fifth barge, four grim silhouettes against the receding lights of Spire Base and the barge's own dimly glowing work lights.

[L atts 12, hit, stun -1D
W miss
Z hit 13vs12, stun (-2Dtotal)
O hits 21vs13 wound2

12 prone, -4D actions = hors de combat

3&4 help 1&2 climb up to rim of #5]


[Round 08]
Their numbers are now even, but the stormtroopers are still fresh to the fight, and possess superior tactics. Lina shouts to her companions to concentrate fire on the left, but her words are swallowed up by the rushing wind, and unheeded. Lina hits her target, whose armour takes the brunt of the blast, and her companions fire ineffectually all round the others.

The stormtroopers concentrate on both Lina and Oosuu. Lina takes a blast squarely in the chest. She falls to her knees, tries weakly to raise her blaster again, then topples forward into the crystals. Oosuu feels energy bolts tear into both arms, and lets out a yelp, nearly dropping her blaster before she realises that they only tore through the padding in her sleeves and not her skin beneath.

[N.B. Lina wanted to use her Command skill, but I ruled it impossible under the circumstances, so I didn't penalise her -1D for the action)

(random targets 1d4=)
L fires at 1 (range Medium) 15, just hits; 13vs11, stun
W fires at 3 miss
Z fires at 4 miss
O fires at 4 miss

1&2 combine at (1-2 O 3-4 L 5 Z 6 W)
O dodge 13, 15 diff ; 16 hits 2D+2=16(wild6+5) vs. 17 stun

3&4 fire L hit 3D+2=10, spend last chr point for +4; 14vs24; Incap.]


[Rounds 09-11]
Oosuu panics and flops gracelessly onto her stomach as blaster fire continues to streak over her head. Wex feels a twinge at his heartstrings when he sees Lina collapse, and silently vows revenge. He and Zil begin to pick off the stormtroopers with deadly tenacity. Bolt after bolt slams into their composite shells, throwing up showers of sparks. One falls, then another, then a third. Oosuu recovers her senses and adds to the barrage. The final stormtrooper drops forward onto the coupler and slides off into the ice river.

[{Round 09}
O full dodge +11
W hits 3; wild 3D=19 (wild6+6+2): 17vs10, incap
Z hits 4; 20vs7, mortal

1&2 combine fire at Oosuu, miss

{Round 10}
Wex hits 1, wounded
Zil hits 2, Incap

1 miss

{Round 11}
O hits 1, incap.]


Oosuu and Zil rush to check on Lina as Wex crawls up to the cockpit. He isn't ready for the news, even though he's sure of what it will be. "Is it over? Are we safe?" asks the scientist.

"The fight's over," says Wex, "but we're far from safe yet."

"I turned the pilot droid on," hazards Dr. Ehks. "It seemed the best course of action. But it will just take us to the processing plant downriver..."

"Switch it off," says Wex. "Let me drive for a while."

[Q: pilot droid a problem? Unlikely (5+): O4 C2 - No, and... just drives.

Wex needs an Easy (10) Mechanical roll to pilot it; 3D=11, ok]


Wex trades places with the Xexto, and steers the barge train on a straighter course through the ice river. When Zil's voice crackles over his comlink, telling him that Lina is in bad shape but alive, he let out a sigh of profound relief. He hadn't even been aware that he was holding his breath.

Then Zil turns to Oosuu. "We're not done yet. We need to leave Lina here for now -- she's safe enough. We need to check on the others. And..."

"Oosuu remember Phaeda, Zil. Not need explain; Oosuu not show mercy."

Their relief to find Baprasta alive is tempered by the sight of Jather's smouldering corpse. Zil tells Wex the news over the comlink, and says that whichever one of them isn't driving should bring Oosuu's bag back and help collect supplies. "I want some of the snowtrooper armour," she explains, "and as much of their gear as we can carry."

Dr. Ehks scrambles back with the bag. Zil has him empty the contents into the river and start filling it with the snowtroopers' armour and supplies as she and Oosuu go back over the empty barges to deal with the stormtroopers. Zil is almost startled at the Twi'lek's sang froid as she blasts away at the fallen enemies.

Wex pilots the barge train to a halt, stopping where the riverbank is mostly exposed crystal and ice. "It'll be harder for them to track us if we get off here," he says over the comlink.

They use the safety lines to hoist their unconscious friends onto the crystal shore. Oosuu is the last one on the barge. She goes back to the cockpit and reactivates the pilot droid, ordering it to continue to the processing station. As it pulls out into the river, she shoots it, then leaps out onto the bank [Jump easy (9) 2D+2=10, ok]. The barge train is swept off by the current, and starts to founder as it rounds a bend too sharply and careens off the crystal bank.

Oosuu watches it go, and utters a strangely lilting threnody for the lost Jather.

Next post: The frozen wastes!

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Star Wars RPG solo - Part 23: Breakout

It's almost time for breakfast when Zil makes it back to her room. Oosuu rolls over when the door opens, and blinks at her sleepily. She's about to says something lascivious, but stops short when she sees her friend plod listlessly inside.


Scene 19

Chaos:
Madness (d6)

Setup: Zil makes her plan

NPC list: Trefftun (contact), Dr. Ehks (target), Lt. Haldee (ISB agent / double-agent for the Alliance / love interest), informant, Imperial commander, overseer

Threads: mission, rebel's offer


"Zil, what wrong?"

"Nothing."

"Zil come home smelling like other girl again and Oosuu not tease. That how serious Oosuu know it is, Zil."

"I don't want to talk about it right now. I really just need to talk to Lina."

"Lina not good relationships..."

"No, not like that. We need to move forward on this extraction, and I need her tactical advice."

"Oh. OK. But Oosuu still here if Zil need lekku to cry on."

Zil spends the next two days in deep, if furtive, conversation with Lina. She spends the next two nights with the Lieutenant, but always slinks back to her own room before the wake-up klaxons sound. Oosuu finds she doesn't like having the room to herself -- there's no electronics to tinker with like when she had her own flat -- but she doesn't begrudge Zil her time away, and is happy that she and her 'special friend' seem to have worked past whatever quarrel had brought her such distress the other night.

Zil, for her part, has worked out the plan, and informed the rest of the roles they will play: she and Wex disguised as stormtroopers will escort Oosuu up the spire to grab Dr. Ehks, whilst Lina and Baprasta secure a vehicle and Jather finds the controls that extend the force-bridge. What could possibly go wrong?


Scene 20

Chaos:
Madness (d6)

Setup: the plan unfolds

NPC list: Trefftun (contact), Dr. Ehks (target), Lt. Haldee (ISB agent / double-agent for the Alliance / love interest), informant, Imperial commander, overseer

Threads: mission, rebel's offer

At Zil's signal, Lt. Haldee summons two stormtroopers to her quarters. They fail to notice the Barabel lurking in the shadows. When the door slides shut Baprasta comes right up behind them and lays them out flat, her powerful fists crashing down on the very top of each one's head.

[B Hide 3D+1=14 vs. their search 2D=10

Brawl 6D-1D(2 actions) = 19, 21
Damage: 5D=23 vs. 3D=10 mortal wound
 5D=21 vs. 3D=11, incapacitated]


"I hope you didn't crack the helmets," says Lt. Haldee. "Zil, Wex, you can come out now."

They come out from the bathroom. Baprasta is already removing the stormtroopers' armour for Zil and Wex to don. Baprasta helps Wex get suited up, whilst Lt. Haldee assists Zil.

"I always hate watching you get dressed, Zil," muses the Lieutenant. "It means you're leaving me."

Wex mouths the words "I told you" to Baprasta. Zil flushes a bit, then changes the subject.

"I hate to ask," says Zil, "but..."

"Don't worry about me," says Lt. Haldee. "The report I'm about to transmit will implicate the base commander in this affair. You workers were not the focus of my investigation, having been checked by the Bureau already. For all we know, Trefftun and the commander recruited you to do the Hutt's dirty work after you got here. As long as you don't get caught, there's more than enough evidence to get the Commander sent down on corruption and subversion charges and this incident hushed up. I'll have to play woman-scorned, but hopefully I'll get myself sent to track you down. I won't find you, of course -- not officially, if I do find you. I hope I find you, Zil."

Baprasta puts the bodies in laundry sack. Zil and Wex look out into the hall to make sure the coast is clear before Baprasta heads off towards the laundry to hide her burden. Zil doesn't look back as Lt. Haldee's door slides shut. She doesn't have to; she knows she watched her go.

"Let's go find that technician," says Wex.

"Good," thinks Zil, nodding. "He's staying in character."

[Q: Does Baprasta encounter anyone en route? 50/50 (4+): O2 C6 - No.
Q: Will the bodies be found before morning? Unlikely (5+): O2 C5 - No.
Q: Any problems retrieving Oosuu? Doubtful (6): O4 C3 - No, but... trouble getting into workshop for tools
Trouble (1d6): 1-2 need Con roll, 4-6 need Security roll: 1d6=4
O easy (10) security roll: 3D=11, Success, but wild die =1, complication]


Wex and Zil march into the cafeteria looking for Oosuu, although they know she isn't there. One of the technicians helpfully says he saw her in the holovid viewing room, adding a sarcastic "I hope she's not in trouble." Zil and Wex go off to find her there.

"Oosuu Fortuna!" barks Wex, startling the six beings watching the holofilm. "You need to come with us." Oosuu sighs, and follows them from the room. When they get to the workshop, the door is locked. Oosuu has to hack the passcode, though it isn't hard to guess, as only four numbers on the filthy datapad have greasy fingerprints.

But just as they are about to go inside, an Imperial officer comes down the corridor. "And just what are you doing?" he asks.

[Wex makes a Moderate (12) Con roll: 3D=8, spending a character point for +1d6=5, success]

"The commander has a leak in his shower," says Wex. "He says this creature is the only one who can fix it properly. If you can believe that!"

"These aliens must be useful for something. Carry on, troopers."

Once inside, Oosuu throws a selection of tools in a bag, and the three of them head towards the turbolift up the Spire.

[Q: clear path to spire? 50/50 (4+): O1 C4 - No, but...]

They've hardly gotten halfway there before another junior officer comes down the corridor towards them. He is about to ask them their business when Oosuu cuts him off.

"Oosuu need fix Officer Kaarde shower. Officer Kaarde say Oosuu get arse in gear, or punished. Please not in Oosuu way, Oosuu not want in trouble."

[She makes a Con roll; base difficulty is Moderate (12), +5 since she has no authority: 17 vs. her 4D+2=18]

"I have no idea what you just said," says the Imperial. "But if Commander Kaarde summoned you, I won't get in your way. Carry on!"

They reach the turbolift without further interruptions. When the door slides shut, Oosuu turns to Zil. "Keep getting stopped. This not going to work."

"Why didn't you say so before?"

"Oosuu did say so before."


Meanwhile...

Outside a light snow is falling. The lights from the base shine yellow in the misty night air, illumining the scene with a diffuse glow. Baprasta, Lina, and Jather emerge from a disused service hatch, which the strong Barabel closes gently behind them. Lina checks their comlinks for perhaps the fifth time, and then they separate. Jather slinks off towards the force bridge control box, whilst Lina and Baprasta head off to the vehicle pool. They wind their way through a maze of outbuildings and machinery, trying to stick to the shadows. Lina hears every step of their heavily booted feet make a deafening crunch in the freshly fallen snow. They come upon a single stormtrooper patrol, but the troopers are too deeply engrossed in their conversation about the new BT-16s to notice the two women rushing across the vehicle lot behind them.

[Moderate (12) Sneak rolls to get out to vehicle
L 2D+1=4, spend 1 character point: (+1d6=)6+6+5exploding!
B 3D+1=12

Easy (10) Hide rolls to work unobserved:
L 2D+1=10
B 3D+1=16]


The stormtroopers march out of sight, as Lina and Baprasta clamber into the waiting juggernaut. Lina removes the plates beneath the main controls at leisure; she's ready to hotwire the juggernaut on Zil's signal. "I wish we could turn the heating units on," says Baprasta, slumped low in the co-pilot's seat. "I feel like it's going to be a long, cold wait."


Meanwhile...

Jather pads through the snow to the plasteel booth which houses the bridge controls. He's about to get inside out of the snow when a stormtrooper's voice calls from behind him. "Hey you! What are you doing over there?"

[Moderate (12) Sneak rolls to get out 4D+2=17
Moderate (14) Hide to stay concealed 4D+2=11
Very difficult (23) Con roll: 6D=21, fail]


"Oh! Hi. I'm, uh, just out taking in the night air. It gets so claustrophobic inside."

[Q: Alert sounded? Likely (3+): O1 C2 - No, and...]

The stormtroopers aren't having any of it, but neither do they particularly care why he was out of the base. They march Jather back inside at gunpoint.


Meanwhile, up in the spire...

"Lab this way," says Oosuu.

[Q: Challenged? 50/50 (4+): O6 C1 - Yes, and...
officer & 1d6=2 stormtroopers]


When they are not 10 metres from the door to the lab, an Imperial officer briskly rounds the corner, two stormtroopers struggling to keep pace behind him. He halts abruptly, and holds up his hand for the rest to do the same. Zil and Wex do their best to snap to attention but the Imperial hardly notices, as he is too busy looking down at Oosuu with evident distaste.

"Where are you taking this... Twi'lek?"

"The atmosphere recycling system in the lab is playing up again," says Wex. "Dr. Ehks requested this technician to come up and look at it."

"I wasn't notified. I'll have to clear it."

In a white blur, Zil rushes forward, grabs the officer by the collar and shoves her blaster under his chin.

[Zil's Dex 3D+1 vs. his Pcn 2D to do it quickly enough: 11 vs. 6, ok
Moderate (15) Intimidation 5D=18]


"Tell those two to put their hands in the air and face the wall," says Zil, "or I'll tell them myself through a hole in your skull."

"Do as she says!"

Oosuu takes the Imperials' weapons as Wex covers them.

"You'll never get away with this!" sneers the officer.

"That's what they all say. Now open the lab door."

[Q: Any heroics? Unlikely (5+): O1 C3 - No, but...
How many people in the lab? 1d6=3]


The officer swallows hard, but does as Zil commands. Zil shoves him through the door. Oosuu and Wex prod the stormtroopers through at gunpoint. Dr. Ehks and two of his assistants watch the intrusion with fear and consternation.

"Dr. Ehks," says Zil removing her helmet, "we've come to get you out of here."

"What?"

"Dr. Ehks being rescued!" chirps Oosuu.

"I knew there was something different about you!" exclaims the scientist. "There was no way you'd come here just as another worker." [UNE: prejudiced - partiality - last scene]

"Oosuu mostly not liar. But explain later. Must escape."

"What about those two? asks Zil, indicating the assistants.

[Q: Do they want out? 50/50 (4+): O3 C3 - No, but... they don't want to get involved at all
+Event: NPC action (Imperial commander) - Mistrust / The mundane (see below)]


"Please don't hurt us!" shrieks one of the assistants.

"No, I mean, are you coming or not?"

"I, uh, don't think--"

"Fine," says Zil. She adjusts her blaster's setting and stuns the two lab assistants. Then she turns to the officer. "They're not involved. I don't want them in any more trouble than they need to be. You, on the other hand, are a tool of the Empire."

She switches her blaster back.


Meanwhile, down in the base...

When Jather is brought back inside, he finds the base in commotion. He catches a human by  the arm as she is hurrying down the corridor. "What's going on?" he asks nervously.

"The commander has called a special workers meeting. Mandatory, if you hadn't guessed. I think he feels we need to be reminded that we work for the Empire or something." [the random event from above]

[J needs Very Difficult (25) Con roll to avoid raising suspicions: 6D=21, spends last character point for +1d6=6+3(exploding), success]

Jather turns to his stormtrooper captors. "Zil wanted to get a pazaak tournament together for old time's sake. She probably went into that one barracks room where the loudspeaker doesn't work so as not to be interrupted. I'd better go fetch her and the rest so they don't miss the meeting."

"You do that, worker 17. And tomorrow I'd better see that you've reported the faulty loudspeaker to technical."

"Yes, sir!"

Jather runs off towards the barracks, and slips back outside at the first opportunity. 

[Difficult (18): 4D+2=11, wild die=1, complication]


Meanwhile, up in the spire...

Oosuu grabs a few extra tools, and puts them along with the stormtroopers' belts and weapons in her bag.

"Dr. Ehks, how far are your quarters?" asks Zil.

"Not far... why?"

"You can't go out in the snow dressed like that. You'll freeze to death."

"I see your point," says the Xexto.

[Q: Get to X's quarters? Unlikely (5+): O6 C2 - Yes, and...
Q: Get out of spire without a fight? 50/50 (4+): O6 C3 - Yes, but...]


As if by some miracle, the way to his quarters and back to the turbolift is entirely clear. Once in the lift, the six-limbed scientist begins hurriedly putting on his snowsuit. When the lift is about halfway down the spire, Zil activates her comlink.

"Lina, get the transport fired up -- Jather, get ready with that bridge!"

[Q: Can Jather respond? Unknown: 1d6=5, Unlikely (5+): O6 C3 - Yes, but...]

The Devaronian's breathless and panicked voice shouts back almost immediately, "Not now Zil!"

Jather was seen when he ducked outside, and is currently being pursued by [1d6=] three stormtroopers. Jather sprints over the ice like a tauntaun, but the stormtroopers slip and slide with every step. Two fall face first into the snow. The third sees Jather about to round the bend, and drops to one knee, firing off a fusillade from his blaster. The red bolts streak past the Devaronian's head as he disappears from sight.

[The pursuit is the complication from the Wild die, above.

{Round 1}
Easy terrain-
J all out movement (speed x4): 3D=6,6,6+4, success!
Stormtroopers High speed (speed x2) :2D= 6 mishap, 10 ok, 3 mishap
2 stormtroopers fall over
last one halts

{Round 2}
J move & dodge:
Move 2d=9, slightly slowed
dodge: 3D+2=11
st shoots 4D=8(wild 1) missing

- - -

Q: Stormtroopers waiting at the bottom of the lift? Likely (3+): O5 C5 - Yes.
+Event: PC negative - Zil - Control / Liberty]



Meanwhile...

The turbolift has almost reached the bottom of the spire. The four nervous beings within are all training blasters on the doorway, fearing a firefight might erupt the moment the doors open. The lift stops, shudders a moment -- then begins rising.

"Blast!" swears Zil. "They're really on to us!"

But Oosuu is already digging into her bag of tools. She rips open the instrument panel with a prybar, then attacks the wires inside with a pair of cutters.

[O needs a Moderate (12) tech roll for manual control; 3D=12]

The turbolift grinds to a halt. Zil glances at the readout above the door and grimaces. "We're 254 metres up the Spire. What now?"

"Quiet, Zil," grumbles the Twi'lek. "Oosuu not finished yet."

Oosuu shears through a handful of wire together, and with a sickening lurch the turbolift's brakes disengage. It begins falling, and picking up speed. Oosuu grabs the wires, and holds the ends together, applying the brakes in fits and starts to control the speed of descent. She stops the turbolift 20m from the bottom.

"Too dangerous go in base," says Oosuu. "Oosuu think get out here."

Zil and Wex force the doors open as Oosuu shoulders her tool bag. One by one they clamber out of the lift and slide down the icy crystal spire, twisting along its length so as not to land on the roof of the base. Dr. Ehks moves like one born to it, his six limbs steering him down to a graceful landing. Wex lands hard and seems a bit wobbly. Luckily the deep snow at the bottom cushions all their landings.

[They needed Easy (10) climbing/jumping rolls:

O 9
Z 11
W 5
X 15 (has +1D racial bonus)

3D damage from fall:
 O 2D+2=14(wild 6+1)vs11, no damage
 W 2D+1=8 vs. 11, stun]


"Why Oosuu always land on arse?" says the Twi'lek.

"Come on," says Zil. She offers a hand to help Oosuu up, and they all set off running. As they sprint along the grey metal sides of the base's outbuildings, Zil shouts into her comlink. "Jather, where the hell are you?"

"Being chased by stormtroopers through the snow," comes the breathless reply.

"What about the bridge?"

"No dice!"

"We'll try it then!"

[Q: Can Zil's band get in sight of bridge w/o encounter? 50/50 (4+): O6 C5 - Yes.
Q: Guarded? Likely (3+): O6 C2 - Yes, and...snowtrooper unit]


Zil leads the others on a new trajectory, and they take cover behind a stack of old supply crates. The bridge control booth is barely visible some 50 metres ahead through the misty darkness and swirling snow. "Well?" asks Zil. "Is it clear?"

"Snowtrooper guarding controls," gasps Oosuu. "Oosuu count six."

Zil swears under her breath and angrily jabs at her comlink switch. "Change of plan, everyone.
 We're getting out on the barge!"


Next post: A battle on the ice river!

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Star Wars RPG solo - Part 22: Secret Imperial Projects

The overseer bursts into the cafeteria with a pair of stormtroopers, disrupting the mid-day meal period. The workers fall instantly silent, but are soon relieved when he addresses the now-hushed throng.

"Who're today's shift technicians? The atmosphere recycling equipment's broke in the lab again. Come with me to get your tools, then these boys'll take you up the Spire."

The cafeteria instantly returns to its normal mealtime routine.

"Oosuu not hungry today anyway," says Oosuu, rising from her seat. "Baprasta like red ones? Have Oosuu protein packs."

Scene 15

Chaos:
Madness (d6)

Setup: Chaos die =4, Interrupt (was: planning infiltration of Spire)
Interrupt: Move toward a thread (mission) - Expose / Technology

NPC list: Trefftun (contact), Dr. Ehks (target), Lt. Haldee (ISB agent / double-agent for the Alliance), informant, Imperial commander, love interest, overseer

Threads: mission, rebel's offer

Oosuu and the other two techs collect their toolkits, then the stormtroopers escort them through the security blast doors at the rear of the base, and into the turbolift. Oosuu pays especial attention as one of the troopers uses a datacard to activate the lift itself. The trip up the spire takes nearly two minutes. Oosuu can hear the soft thrumming of the inertial dampers as the lift changes speed.

The lift doors finally open to reveal a poorly-lit hexagonal corridor with dirty floor gratings; this could be practically any base or space station in the Empire. The stormtroopers escort the workers down the long corridor and towards another security door. The farther they proceed, the stronger the smell of burnt plastic fills the corridor. An Imperial officer stands waiting, covering his nose with a handkerchief. "You took long enough," he says, then punches in a code to open the security door.

Oosuu, perhaps having watched too many cartoons, was expecting a sterile white room with test tubes and bubbling liquid. The laboratory that greets the astonished Twi'lek's eyes is instead a maze of strange machines, computers, workbenches, wires, and assorted bits of junk lying about. As she looks round to take it all in, a Xexto scientist -- in a reassuringly cartoony white lab coat, complete with hand computer sticking out the breast pocket -- scurries up to the lead technician.

"It's happened again. I think the particulate matter from the crystals shreds the insides of the gas separator. I've requisitioned an upgrade, but with the bureaucracy here--"

"Blaming the Empire for this scum's shoddy work isn't going to get you a reprieve," says the officer. "You're already behind schedule, Dr. Ehks."

"Then I suggest you let them get started without further delay, Commander."

The officer gives no reply, but turns sharply on his heel and stalks out of the lab. Oosuu and the other technicians get to work, each on a separate section of the air recycling machinery. Dr. Ehks paces nervously in his lab, going to each technician in turn to see how they are doing, and trying not to get in their way.

[Oosuu makes some die rolls for the scene--
Moderate (12) Tech roll to fix her section: 3D=12, ok
Difficult (17) Perception to see anything interesting: 4D+2=21
Difficult (17) Starship Weapon Repair to understand what she's looking at: 4D=21

Q: Does she get to talk to Dr. Ehks? Unlikely (5+): O6 C1 - Yes, and...
UNE--
NPC Relationship: friendly
Conversation Mood: sociable
prejudiced - dislike - recent scene]


Oosuu is sitting cross-legged on the floor next to a yawning access hatch and surrounded by a careful (to the Twi'lek's eye, at any rate) arrangement of the insides of several oxygen reclamation cylinders. Dr. Ehks steps cautiously through the (to the Xexto's eye) massive debris field to get a look at what she's doing.

"I haven't seen you round here before," says Dr. Ehks.

Oosuu takes the hydrospanner out of her mouth to reply. "Oosuu new, come in last group."

"I see. You're the only new tech?"

"Oosuu think so."

"Everything going well down at the base? I heard there was already an accident."

"Bith die. Fall in river, swept away. Oosuu friend Wex tried to save, almost die too."

"This always happens when they send us new workers. Production almost halts whilst they try to integrate, and someone always ends up hurt. They should train the whole lot of you together before you come, and this wouldn't happen."

"Oosuu suppose."

"How's the recycler coming?"

"Almost done. Not Oosuu specialty, but fix ok. Oosuu better with lasers," she says, gesturing with an ion drill towards a fixture of experimental equipment which lies half concealed beneath an oily grey tarpaulin.

[Difficult (20) Persuasion roll to get him talking more pointedly: 4D+2=22]

"You know what we're making there?" asks the scientist.

"Is obvious, Oosuu think. Oosuu not work on ship blasters for a while, but insides all look same. Even when out of housings and spread over tables," she says, pointing at various piles of metal and circuitry. "Plus, Oosuu get barge loading duty, see what size special crystals rejected, what size kept."

"My word. How ever did you end up here?"

"Twi'lek gotta eat."

"You could be somewhere else. Somewhere they might appreciate your skills."

"Listen Oosuu talk. Most think Oosuu not have skills."

"More's the pity. Look, perhaps I can help you out. I can't just pull you up here to work in the lab -- security is maddening around here, you understand -- but I can put is a good word here and there. Maybe get you a better position somewhere." [friendly - aid - future action]

"Oosuu appreciate that. Nice have new friend."

[Q: Any fallout? 50/50 (4+): O6 C5 - Yes.
Separate / Jealousy - problems with other techs]


Dr. Ehks
Template: Xexto scientist
Dexterity 4D
Knowledge 3D+1

 Bureaucracy 4D+1
 Scholar: physics 7D+1
Mechanical 3D
 Shields 5D
Perception 2D+1
Strength 1D+2
Technical 3D+2

 Computer 4D+2
 Starship Weapon Repair 7D+2
 Starship Weapon Engineering (A) 2D
Special: +1D bonus to all climbing rolls
         +1D bonus to all Perception rolls
          made to determine initiative.



Scene 16

Chaos:
Madness (d6)

Setup: planning infiltration of Spire
Chaos die =1, Altered

NPC list: Trefftun (contact), Dr. Ehks (target), Lt. Haldee (ISB agent / double-agent for the Alliance), informant, Imperial commander, love interest, overseer

Threads: mission, rebel's offer

[Q: How is the scene Altered? Excitement / Misfortune
Q: Misfortune for whom? (1d6): 1-2 to PCs, 3-4 to others, 5-6 to both
1d6=4, others
Q: What? (1d4): 1 crevasse, 2 monster, 3 avalanche, 4 industrial accident
1d4=4]


The next day finds our heroes all out on the ice mining crystals. Zil is preoccupied by thoughts of her evening with the charming ISB agent, and decides to quiz Oosuu endlessly about her trip up the Spire to push those thoughts to one side.

But Oosuu's interrogation is interrupted by the sound of a blast. One of the laser drills has exploded, seriously injuring a worker.

Once again the shift is called to a halt, the injured rushed to the infirmary, the rest to mandatory safety training. Some stormtroopers interrupt the training to take Oosuu and some of the other techs in for questioning. Oosuu is fully exonerated after several hours of cross-examination. Zil is relieved to see her trudge into their room two hours after curfew and flop face first into her bunk without a word. Zil listens in the darkness to the Twi'lek's breathing become softer and more even as she drifts into sleep.

[This scene was more dice than action:

laser drill explodes; damage 5D=10 vs. Strength 2D=6, wounded

Q: O blamed by other techs? 50/50 (4+): O5 C2 - Yes, and...
Q: Was it one she worked on recently? 50/50 (4+): O6 C6 - Yes
+Event: Remote event - Malice / Power (revealed in scene 18)
Q: Was it her fault? Moderate (12) Blaster repair: 4D=14, No.
Q: Exonerated? 50/50: O5 C2 - Yes, and... tampering discovered]



Scene 17

Chaos:
Madness (d6)

Setup: finish planning

NPC list: Trefftun (contact), Dr. Ehks (target), Lt. Haldee (ISB agent / double-agent for the Alliance), informant, Imperial commander, love interest, overseer

Threads: mission, rebel's offer

"Hey, Jather," says Lina, "I didn't know it was your birthday."

"Uh, it's not."

"But... but I just saw Oosuu with an armload of sweet protein packs she'd saved up for the party."


"Zil wants us all to meet, but she needed an excuse to allay any suspicions about what we're up to."

"Oh."

"Hopefully we get everything planned in this meeting. Otherwise Zil might hafta turn 29 again."

- - -

Fake party or not, Oosuu has managed to festoon Wex and Jather's room with colourful streamers made from wires she's looted from the machine shop's waste pile, and has convinced Baprasta to make a banner with letters inscribed on the backs of old work orders. As all her friends arrive, Oosuu hands out the protein packs she's been saving for just such an occasion, then they find seats on the beds in the narrow room.

"So," says Zil to her assembled comrades once the squabbles over who gets which protein flavours have died down, "I have an idea how we're going to do this, but it will require outside help. Fortunately, I seem to have acquired some, but I thought I'd ask your opinions on it first."

"Oh! This Zil special friend?" asks Oosuu with a malicious smile.

"She's not my special anything, she's ju--"

"Zil come home late smelling all like other girl perfume. Also--"

"Hey!"

"Now this is an interesting development," says Wex. "Do tell."

"Shut the hell up, both of you," growls Zil. "We've got work to discuss."

Wex's next comment dies on his lips.

"Oosuu know what Oosuu smell," mumbles the Twi'lek.

"Here's the thing," says Zil, pointedly ignoring her, "she's apparently ISB, but she's working some other angle too. She's all about us getting Dr. Ehks out of here, but she wants us to consider giving him over to a third party instead of Morga."

"Wait, are you serious?" says Wex. "The ISB want us to betray both Morga AND the Empire?"

"Like I said, she's working some other angle."

"Have you lost your mind? Just how pretty is this friend of yours?"

"Maybe this is some internal poodoo," hazards Baprasta. "The Empire isn't exactly one big happy family."

"I still think it's a set-up," says Wex.

"I thought that too, at first," says Zil. "But she knows who we all are -- who we really are -- and why we're here. And who sent us. With that sort of knowledge, she doesn't need a trap. She could have us shot as spies just like that."

"If she's really ISB, she could do that regardless," sighs Lina.

"If that's her game, she would have done already," says Jather. "There's nothing to be gained by waiting."

"OK. Fine," says Wex. "So then what is her angle? Who's this third party she wants us to give the doc over to?"

"She hasn't said yet. I think she's sounding me out still."

"Is that what they're calling it now?"

"Wex, knock it off."

"I'm not joking any more, Zil. You want us to consider trusting your new ISB friend and betraying Morga for her for the benefit of person or persons unknown. Am I the only one that sees a problem with this?"

"I don't really know Morga or nothing," says Baprasta, "but I'll do whatever the rest of you decide. So I abstain. We are voting, right?"

"If Zil friend can help against Hutts, Oosuu say swap allegiance."

"Even if it means getting in bed with the ISB?" asks Jather, who then quickly adds, "Sorry Zil. Poor choice of phrasing."

"Oosuu think yes."

"Maybe we need to find out what she can offer us," says Wex. "Decide if it's worth our while."

"Um," says Baprasta, "what if we don't help her? Would she turn us over to the ISB?"

"I'm pretty sure she wouldn't," says Zil. "Look, if it will make you all happy, I'll find out what assistance she proposes to offer us, both during and after the mission. I'm sure she'll be in touch with me again soon."


Scene 18

Chaos: Madness (d6)

Setup: Zil talks to the ISB (double-)agent

NPC list: Trefftun (contact), Dr. Ehks (target), Lt. Haldee (ISB agent / double-agent for the Alliance / love interest), informant, Imperial commander, overseer

Threads: mission, rebel's offer

[N.B. This scene revolves round the Remote Event (Malice / Power) from scene 16.

UNE--
NPC Relationship: neutral
Conversation Mood: neutral
prejudiced - reputation - flaws]


"You wanted to see me?" asks Zil.

"Zil, come in," comes Lt. Haldee's voice.

"It's dark in here."

"Don't touch the light. My head can't take it."

Zil steps inside, and feels for the switch behind her. The door slides shut, and Zil stops short, waiting as her eyes slowly adjust, feeling the humid darkness close round her, prickling her skin. She takes a slow breath of the spice-scented air and searches the gloom for Lieutenant Haldee, until she can just make out her shape curled up on one side of the settee. Zil takes a step forward, and her nose wrinkles at a sour, pungent note.

"You've been drinking," says Zil.

"Nothing escapes you, does it?"

"Well, I don't have your ISB training, but..."

"Come here. Sit. There's another glass on the side somewhere. And another bottle. Bring it, would you, Zil? I seem to have spilt most of this one."

Zil fetches a glass and a bottle of something dark and amber, then goes over to sit with Lt. Haldee on her sofa. The other woman's eyes are dry, but Zil isn't so heartless that she doesn't know why they're so red and swollen. Zil pours and waits for the Lieutenant to say something, but she just sits and looks over towards Zil, absently swirling the liquid in her newly filled glass.

"What's going on?" asks Zil softly.

"Mmmm... no. Not yet. First I want to know if you've thought about my question."

Yeah. I mean, no, not much. Been busy with other things, like planning this kidnapping. Or whatever."

"I could help you, Zil. I want to help you. But I need to know who you are first."

"Sounds like you've read my file, anyways. What's more to know?"

"You're a mercenary, Zil. You sell your questionable service to the highest bidder, and woe betide those who get in your way."

"I guess..."

"But there's more to you than that, isn't there, Zil?" [UNE: knowing - account - the character]

"If you say so."

Oh, drop the tough girl act for a moment. You're never so fierce as when you're looking out for your friends. You had a chance to cut any one of them loose before you came here, and you didn't, and you even got your new friend along. And Wex -- he was a hair away from being sent off to the waste processing plant when you intervened on his behalf."

"He's useful: a good pilot. Something we might need in an escape."

"Useful, sure. Fine. But what about Jather?"

"Jather has his moments."

"I've met him, Zil."

"He has hidden depths. He's just out of his element here, but when--"

"You're defending Jather to me. Why do you care what I think of him?"

"I don't, it's just... oh. I see what you're doing."

"ISB, Zil, remember? I'm good at getting the truth out of people."

"Fine. So the truth is I'm not as hard as I make myself out to be. So what? Why do you care?"

"Because I think underneath it all you're a good person. Or you want to be." [prejudiced - belief - current scene]

"I really don't understand you. What's this all about?"

"I want to show you something, Zil. This hasn't gone public yet, so you have to promise not to tell anyone. There will be an official announcement later. I don't know when. Maybe soon, maybe... maybe it will take some time to filter out to the Rim."

Lt. Haldee leans forward and reaches for something on the low table, her hand snaking between the bottles and beneath her discarded officer's jacket. She produces a small holotape player and places it between herself and Zil on the cushion. She goes to activate it, but her finger hesitates over the switch. Once activated, the shimmering, somewhat flattened and grainy image of a blue planet appears. It takes Zil a moment to realise that what she's actually looking at is the surreptitious recording of a 2D viewscreen.

"Alderaan," whispers Lt. Haldee.

"There's voices on the tape," says Zil, "but I can't make them out. Turn up the sound."

"No. Just watch."

Zil glances up to see Lt. Haldee sitting with her eyes closed, but decides against asking why. She watches the shaky holo-recording with increasing bewilderment as nothing is plainly happening; the jewel-like planet just floats serenely against the starry background of space. Then there is a green glow at the bottom of the image, and a bolt of energy streaks out towards the planet, which seconds later explodes in a brilliant fireball. The recording abruptly ends.

"That... that can't be real," she gasps.

"It is, Zil."

"How...?"

"A super weapon of some sort, a mobile battlestation. I don't have the particulars. It doesn't matter."

"The whole planet..."

"This is why I need to know, Zil."

"Know what?"

"That you're the right sort of person."

"To do what?"

"To fight against them."

"Who?"

"The Empire."

"You're ISB..."

"I'm a double-agent for the rebellion, Zil. I thought you would have worked that out by now."

"I didn't think..."

"I will help you, Zil, here, on Mygeeto. I'll help you get Dr. Ehks away, even if you do just slink off back to the Hutts. Just to strike a blow at them, for what they did. But I hope you will consider what you're doing, and do the right thing in the end. The Alliance could use you, Zil. You and your friends."

"I'll have to tell them something. They'll want to know why I'm suddenly going soft."

"Not about this. Not yet."

"I think if they knew... I'm sure I could convince them somehow. I should go talk to Oosuu. She can persuade the others better than I can."

"Don't go, Zil. Not yet."

"We have to get moving--"

"Zil, I grew up on Alderaan."

"You..."

"Just stay with me a little while."


Next post: Zil's plan unfolds!