Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Solo Traveller - Episode 8: Volunteers (9Qs - setup)

Uloryy/Foreven (3033 A877758-7) / Date: 208-1106

"That kind of hardware," continues Commander Darus, "and in that amount... this isn't criminals. It's more like revolution. Even all the way out here on the fringes of the Imperium, this is serious; even if it's not quite within our borders, these things have a way of destabilising whole subsectors if left unchecked. I need to know who's behind this and why, and I need to know quickly -- and without tipping my hand to... well, to whoever they are."

"Look, I've done this before," says Eshtam. "The CV I worked up to get this replacement pilot job isn't entirely truthful about the things I did in the IISS. I'd say you could check, but there's no scout base in this system, so I doubt you have the time and -- no, offence, Commander -- I doubt you have the security clearance."

[Q: Actually, does he? (Unlikely | 5[d10]) No, but... he is in Naval Intelligence

"No, I suppose I don't. Look, superspy or no, this is officially a naval mission, and you are, I believe, currently a civilian. I can't put you in command. But I can brief the team leader that you are qualified to run this sort of operation and to consider your input seriously."

"All right, then."

[The adventure that started with 76 Patrons has gotten sidetracked in a major way. This is going to require a little more than Travelling Alone or Star Trader to play out, so I have decided to try running it with The 9Qs from http://solonexus.blogspot.co.uk/.


9Qs Step 1: Choose your RPG

Well, I've already done this. Back to the narrative...]

"Your mission," explains the Commander, "is to land on Uloryy, unload all your cargo as normal, and wait for someone to make contact. Your cover story is that Captain Aalir was killed during a hijacking attempt by two of the passengers you picked up on New Dlemmis. Fortunately the Dikiishgammurga was nearby; you were able to send a distress signal, and a boarding party of Imperial marines came to your rescue.

"We can't risk one of your passengers compromising the mission with idle chatter, so we're going to escort them to the highport and keep them under wraps, or give them free passage elsewhere as a reward for their cooperation and service to the Imperium, or some such. I'm sending two navy personnel to impersonate the 'surviving passengers' so someone can be seen to go ashore at the downport.

"I don't think the Galatea's crew are in on any conspiracy, but I can't take the chance, and I can't risk their loyalties to Captain Aalir getting in the way. They will all be detained until this is over.

"I've rounded up some volunteers to impersonate the crew of the Galatea. They have the necessary skills to fill in, so you can still run the ship."

"Who have you got for me?" asks Eshtam.

9Qs Step 2: Create your PC(s)

[I will pick three NPCs from list in Schlachtkreuzer Kinunir, one with Medic skill, one with Engineering, and one with Gunnery. They will of course have all the Service skills for their careers (according to the MGT main book) at level 0, and I may use Mythic questions to check for other skills later if it seems appropriate. And since they're going to be on a TL7 planet, I'm going to see in advance if any of them have Drive-0 as a background skill.
Using rpgsolo.com's Get NPC tool, I'll give each two random personality traits.
I'll also roll a reaction for each to see his initial opinion of Eshtam.

"Gelray" - Starman Ishedukshim Unamshiiguu
#46 Runner Starman B7B899 age 26, Navy 2 terms, Vilani Male
Medic-1, Slug Carbine-1, Vacc-1, Drive-0
Belligerent, Deceitful
Reaction: 5, Hostile. May attack

"Daffid" - Starman Luug Slinx
#35 Engineer Starman 856973 age 34, Navy 4 terms, Human Male
Engineering-1, Blade-2, Vacc-1, Drive-0
Organised, Devil's Advocate
Reaction: 12, Genuinely friendly

"Zet" - Sgt. Tendhas Gytovo
#58 Third Team Leader Sergeant AB8888 age 26, Marines 2 terms, Human Male
Slug Rifle-1, Battle dress-1, Vacc-2, Gunner-2, Survival-2, Cutlass-1, Zero-G-1
Serious, Clever
Reaction: 6, Unreceptive

9Qs Step 3: Select a Random Idea Generator

I've started to feel that a simple d6 roll for yes/yes,and/yes,but &c. is a bit too simplistic. I am gravitating towards rpgsolo.com's version of the Mythic odds with the and/but grafted on, which seems to offer the best of both worlds. Also, I don't need to know odds or memorise the chart, just decide on the likelihood.

I'll also be using the other generators on the site for the random ideas.]

The Commander addresses the 'crew' on the bridge of the Galatea.

"Your primary mission objective is to discover both the identities of the conspirators and the aim of their movement or organisation. Your secondary objective is to break up this conspiracy if it is at all feasible to do so, or to trace it back to its source if not. You may capture or neutralise any enemy agent as you see fit. Remember, this is primarily an investigation to uncover the nature and extent of the threat to this world, this sector, or indeed to the Imperium itself. Don't get in over your heads. We cannot monitor your progress, so we may not be close by if things get hairy. Good luck, soldiers!"

Monday, 30 December 2013

Solo Traveller - Episode 7: Complications

Uloryy/Foreven (3033 A877758-7) / Date: 208-1106

[A ship encounter is indicated at destination. Star Trader comes up with a Military encounter: Battlecruiser 1250t. I'll use a 1200t Kinunir.
Nature of encounter: Warn you of an unidentified ship in this system

Q: Is this unidentified ship related to the contraband in the hold? Y
Q: Are we supposed to deliver the cargo to the mainworld? Y
Q: Do we need to contact the unidentified ship to let them know first? No, and... they will make contact with the captain.
Q: What is the nature of the contraband? (rpgsolo.com Get Thing results in Flamethrower) Heavy weapons
Q: Does the captain know what the cargo really is? Yes, and... what it is intended for.
Q: What is it intended for? Assist / Outside. The weapons are intended for use on another world; Uloryy is just the drop-point.
Q: Will the Captain be forthcoming about the cargo? No.

Q: Will there be a problem relating to the fugitive? Yes.
Q: What's she running from? Combatively / Damaged. She's a deserter from the (roll on draft table) Imperial Marines. stats - Veterans #133]

Within a minute of returning to normal space, an officious female voice is heard over the comm. "This is kinunir-class battle cruiser Dikiishgammurga to unidentified 200-ton vessel, please respond."

Eshtam flips a switch to transmit transponder data, then looks to the Captain. "Kinunir-class," she says, "pretty big for a system patrol boat."

"I'll do the talking," says Captain Aalir. "We hear you, Dikiishgammurga. This is Captain Kaduushili Aalir of the free trader Galatea. My pilot is transmitting our ID codes now."

"Acknowledged, Galatea. What is the purpose of your trip to Ulorry?"

"We've got freight and passengers to unload offworld, and hope to fill the hold for a trip out."

"Of course... wait a moment. It says here you jumped in and out of New Dlemmis in less than 72 hours. What's the rush?"

"Our consignment. There's a substantial bonus, but it's time-sensitive. Still, it's enough to make up for running light."

"I see. Captain, would you mind please transmitting your cargo and passenger manifest? Normally, we'd let the port authority handle customs, but there's an unidentified ship in the system, and it's been running from our patrols. We need to check all traffic to and from the planet."

"We've nothing to hide. Transmitting now. Eshtam, maintain present course and speed."

After a few tense minutes, the comm light blinks again. This time a man's voice is heard. "Captain I regret to inform you that one of your passengers is a fugitive. Sgt. Malna Borstelden, alias Ginier Jhent, is deserter from the Imperial Marines 8923rd Infantry Battalion, stationed on Oothoom. We consider her to be armed and dangerous. We're going to need to board your ship and take Sgt. Borstelden into custody. Your cooperation will be appreciated."

"Ah... of course," stammers Captain Aalir. "Whatever we can do to help..."

"Just maintain your present heading, let my troops on your ship, and stay out of the way. We don't want anyone getting hurt."

[Q: Does the fugitive catch on? Yes.
Q: Does she attempt to take over the ship? No, but...]

The Galatea drifts along on its course, waiting for the large navy vessel to rendez-vous with it. It's 10,000km distant, so less than 20 minutes away. The battle cruiser matches vectors with the Galatea, then dispatches a 40-ton pinnace with the boarding party.

As the pinnace approaches, the Galatea's turret swings suddenly to bear, and 2 streaks of light blaze across the blackness of space, tearing into the pinnace and causing significant damage.

"Shit!" shouts Eshtam, as the laser blasts startle her from her dreamy contemplation of the instruments.

"What the hell was that?!" echoes Gelray.

Captain Aalir jumps into action, jabbing the engine room comm button. "Daffid, cut all power to weapons, NOW! The rest of you, get that madwoman out of the turret. I'll try to keep our navy friends from vaporising the ship!"

[The fugitive sergeant has snuck into the dual beam-laser turret, and fired on the pinnace. She rolled 10+2, 10+2; she hit twice! Even with the pinnace pilot dodging as a reaction, the -2 reduction won't be enough for the shots to miss (10+ needed at Adjacent range).

Damage rolls are:
Single hit - hull - pinnace hull reduced to 0
Double hit - power plant (PP damaged, 1 crew member (medic) suffers radiation damage - 60rads, 2pts damage, nausea.

Q: Does the fugitive have a gun? Yes, and... a melee weapon.
Q: Was Zet at his station in the turret? Yes, but... he wasn't paying attention so was ambushed by the sergeant.
She attacked him from behind with her blade. Roll 9+1 +2(for ambush), hit with effect 4. damage 11+4=15 Zet's physical UPP now 005.
Q: Is Eshtam armed? No, but... the Captain was, and gives her his pistol.
Q: Is Gelray armed? No, and... doesn't even have a medpac on him.

Captain Aalir succeeds (just!) in an Average Persuasion roll, so the navy won't fire back.

Reaction for fugitive: roll of 3 - hostile, attack on 5+. I roll a 6.]

Captain Aalir is already shouting over the comm at the battlecruiser, trying to explain what happened. Eshtam and Gelray bolt from their stations in the cockpit. As they run out the door, the Captain tosses Eshtam a pistol.

They run through the cargo bay, and climb the ladder to the upper deck. They find Zet on the ground underneath the turret hatch, bleeding from a nasty wound in his back.

Gelray kneels beside his injured compatriot, trying desperately to stop the bleeding. Eshtam calls up the ladder into the turret. "Come out of there! The engineer's cutting the power so you can't fire again. Come down now and you won't get hurt."

The fugitive responds with a burst of gunfire. [shooting at targets down the corridor through the iris valve in the floor gives a -1DM for cover. She's got an auto-carbine, +2 to hit from skill & DEX. Auto fire dice come up as 6,6,6,5! Gelray and Eshtam are each hit, for 12 and 7 damage respectively. Eshtam has 2 points of armour. Their physical UPPs are reduced to: Gelray 710, Eshtam 6B5.]

Gelray falls unconscious from the trauma. Eshtam retreats hastily into her stateroom, but leaves the door open. She yells back through the door without exposing herself to another shot. "This is madness! There's a battlecruiser outside with enough troops on board to come in here and drag you out of there, willingly or not. That's if they don't just decide to open up on our ship with particle beams. Surrender now and there's a chance!"

[Difficult (and untrained!) Persuasion check: 8, failure.]

A short burst of gunfire is the only reply. Eshtam switches on the comm in her room, tries to hail the bridge. After a minute or so, the Captain answers. "They're mad," he says, "but they want her taken prisoner, so we won't be treading vacuum. What's going on up there?"

"Zet and Gelray are down," she whispers, "and she's holed up in the turret still, with an automatic weapon. I don't think she's intending to come down without a fight."

"We're about to be boarded anyway. Let the marines flush her out -- she's one of theirs, after all. Maybe you had better get to the hatch to open it up for our guests so they don't have to cut their way in."

Just then a slight tremor shakes the ship as the pinnace links up with the Galatea's outer hatch. Eshtam runs as quickly and as quietly as she can down the corridor into the common room.

[Stealth roll 9+3, enough to get to the common room without the sergeant hearing her.]

Eshtam checks to make sure the airlock pressure has equalised, then opens the hatch. A unit of Imperial Marines in combat armour burst through the hatch into the Galatea [reaction roll for their disposition: 3, hostile, attack on 5+ (roll a 6) Oh crap] all shouting at once for Eshtam to get down on the floor. She does, but in spite of this two of the marines overpower her and hold her down whilst a third puts an ACR to the base of her skull. She doesn't struggle.

[Individual reaction for the party leader (1st Lieutenant, human female) comes up as hostile, may attack.]

"Talk," she says pressing down with her ACR for emphasis.

"Your fugitive is still holed up in the turret. She's got gun, maybe like yours. She's taken out two of our crew already."

"Private Toski" says the lieutenant, "take charge of the prisoner. Sergeant Vayr, end this."


One of the marines advances down the corridor. Moments later comes the sound of gunfire, followed by the Whump! of concussion grenades. "Target neutralised!"

The unconscious fugitive is brought back to the pinnace. The squad medic gives first aid to Zet and Gelray [healing 2 pts. and 1 pt. of damage, respectively]. Zet is seriously wounded [phys. UPP 115] and can barely walk. Gelray is badly injured [phys. UPP 711] but can at least move about unaided. Eshtam's ribs hurt like hell where the slug hit her armour, but she's still running on adrenaline from facing a squad of peevish marines.

Eight marines remain aboard the Galatea. Half interrogate the remaining passengers in their staterooms. The other half march Eshtam, Gelray and Zet down into the cargo bay at gunpoint. Captain Aalir and Daffid are there waiting. The marines roughly pat them down for weapons.

"You don't seem to have very good control over your ship, Captain," says the lieutenant. "If you hadn't had innocent passengers aboard, we'd not be standing here right now having this conversation. But since we are, I think it best to have my unit look over your ship and compare your cargo with the manifest, just to make sure there's nothing else in here you don't know about. Consider it a public service."

[Q: Does anyone do anything stupid? Yes, but...]

Daffid blurts out, "This is ridiculous, we're not--"

"The next one who speaks out of turn," says the lieutenant, "gets shot. Private, watch these imbeciles. The rest of you get these containers open."

[Q: Can the marines possibly fail to find the contraband? No.]

"Ma'am, I think you'd better come have a look as this," calls one of the marines.

The lieutenant walks over to the container. She reaches in to a plasteel crate, lifts up the barrel of a heavy machinegun. "Well, let me see, what does the cargo manifest have to say about this little item? Decorative hardwood panelling! Tell me, Private, does this look like decorative wood panelling to you?"

"No, ma'am!"

[Q: Should I be breaking out a copy of Prison Planet about now? No. (phew!)
Q: Will the Captain mostly be held accountable? Yes.
Q: How will this all go down? Bravely / Mysterious.]

The passengers and crew of the Galatea are confined to quarters. The marines stay aboard to make sure no one tries anything funny. Officers from the battlecruiser are ferried over on the pinnace to conduct a more thorough investigation. After six hours alone in her room wondering what will happen, Eshtam looks up to see the 2nd in command of the Dikiishgammurga [navy Commander, solomani male] arrive with his bodyguard to conduct her interview.

[reaction roll 10, Responsive

Q: Did the Captain try to implicate anyone else? Yes, but... they didn't believe him.
Q: Will Eshtam be let go? Yes, but... the navy wants her to try delivering the contraband in order to flush out the buyers.]

"Ms. Dreejeh," says the Commander, "you're not a part of this crew -- not really -- so I'm going to be straight with you. We know you only came aboard on Veegint to replace the usual pilot. The weapons also came aboard then. Captain Aalir tried to make out that there was a connection between these two events, but it doesn't add up, and none of the others could corroborate his story. I'm willing to believe you're not involved, but I'm going to need your cooperation in order to sell your innocence to my superiors. The good Captain doesn't seem to know the identity of his buyers, just that they will contact him once the ship has landed on Uloryy, and that they intend to take the weapons offworld from here. The Imperial Navy is very keen to ascertain the identities and the motives of these persons."

"What do you need from me?" asks Eshtam.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Solo Traveller - Episode 6: Are we there yet?

New Dlemmis/Foreven (3134 B641400-B) / Date: 198-1106

[Slowly breaking myself into the MGT Trade rules (in the main book) alongside Star Trader. On the voyage from Veegint to New Dlemmis, I skipped over all the trading, as it was just the province of the NPCs, and I didn't feel like tracking their finances. I'm still leaving their credit balance as an abstract idea, but it's time to figure out passengers and cargo.

There are 10 staterooms in the bog standard Free Trader. Five of these are given over to the crew; Daffid has his own even though he doesn't often sleep there at the moment. The usual pilot isn't here, but since she and the Captain are inseparable buddies (despite her jealousy over his ownership of the Galatea), he's sealed off her room for now. Eshtam has been given her own room for the voyage. This leaves 4 staterooms for passengers.

Whilst Eshtam, Zet, and Daffid were off getting into trouble, Captain Aalir and Gelray were out trying to drum up some business. As the Captain intended to leave after only 72 standard hours, I have decided to halve the available cargo and passengers.

Two middle and four high passengers are available. (Q: Are any of the high passengers travelling together? No, and... they're all strangers.) So 4 high passages it is.

Q: Who are the passengers? Using the Get NPC (Science Fiction Genre) tool from http://www.rpgsolo.com and my basic human origin table produces the following:

Virtuous fugitive. Human Female
Arrogant navigator. Solomani Male
Impulsive gambler. Human Male
Hypochondriac recluse. Human Female

That's enough detail for now. I'll find them stat blocks if it becomes important.

Finding cargo proves less successful. There is only 1 minor cargo (a mere 20t) available for transport, and nothing for speculation. To save time, the Captain didn't try to sell any of the speculative cargo he picked up on Veegint, so there is still (1d6x10) 20 tons of basic machine parts still in the hold, plus the (1d6x5) 5 tons of contraband.

Following the Star Trader flowchart, it turns out that the Captain meets no contacts on New Dlemmis, there's no port encounter of any significance and no ship encounter. So, on the afternoon of 201-1106, Captain Aalir welcomes his passengers aboard, and the Galatea lifts off from New Dlemmis. Five hours later, the Captain dims the interior lights (as is tradition) and orders Eshtam to activate the jump engines.

Question time:
Q: Does Daffid keep schtum? Yes, but... he becomes insufferable towards Eshtam  and Zet.
Q: Does the Captain suspect anything happened? No, but... he is cold to Eshtam and cross with Zet, thinking they both were bickering with Daffid on shore leave.
Q: Does the Captain actually do anything about these three? No.

Referring to Star Trader for an event during jump, it transpires that '[t]here's one obnoxious passenger people try to avoid. This trip will be miserable unless someone deals with him'. Dealing with him requires a Bribery or Liaison roll.

Randomly determine which passenger: Arrogant navigator.
Q: How (asking Mythic via rpgsolo.com) is he obnoxious? Judgementally / Small. (Small next to Judgemental makes me think small-minded; sounds like a Solomani-superiority thing to me...)

The Captain is the only person in the party with a useful skill (Bribery), but he's not about to give money back to a paying passenger just to keep him off people's nerves.

Q: Is there an incident? No, and...]

It's a miserable trip all around. The annoying Solomani spends most of his time in the lounge, causing the other passengers to take their meals at odd hours and hide in their staterooms to avoid him.

Eshtam spends most of the trip locked in the bridge or her stateroom. She feels like she's in a tenuous enough situation with the Captain to risk starting something with a paying passenger, no matter how stupid and obnoxious ('Really?' she thinks. 'Solomani superiority? In the Foreven sector? What's the actual point?'). Luckily, the Captain doesn't expect her to take a shift on steward duty since she's not really one of his crew.

The rest of the crew fall to bickering over who has to play steward. Daffid and Zet can barely be in the same room together. Daffid spends a lot of time 'maintaining' the drives and power plant. Zet hides in his room. Gelray is harried by the hypochondriac, offering to play steward on occasion just so she'll leave him alone (the solomani scares her a bit). The Captain is abrupt and peevish with everybody.

The Galatea continues through jumpspace.

150 hours go by.

160 hours. Can it really be taking this long?

165 hours.


Monday, 23 December 2013

Solo Traveller - Episode 5: One Night on New Dlemmis

New Dlemmis/Foreven (3134 B641400-B) / Date: 198-1106

The arrival insystem is uneventful. On the way to the mainworld, the Galatea passes a 600t Donosev-class survey ship launching a navigational beacon. Eshtam feels a twinge of regret passing the scout service vessel.

New Dlemmis is a poor, arid world without any law or government. The inhabitants live on a mixture of independent farms and homesteads, or else in corporate outposts and mines exploiting the planet's mineral wealth. The local tech level is high, all things considered, though most of the technology was originally brought from off world.

After landing at the downport, the Captain and Gelray head out to deal with the port authority and get the cargo unloaded. The captain gives the rest of the crew shore leave, but warns them not to leave the startown. There is some sort of local festival (Harvest Days? What grows on this dirtball?) going on, so the startown is going to be rammed with people; everything's going to take longer and cost more.

Zet and Daffid both really want to go into startown, but neither of them wants to go alone, so they agree to be nice to each other. Eshtam is wary of their promise, but goes along with them any way. This evening the dusty streets of the startown are full of people, most in high spirits, and many in states of inebriation. Sporadic gunfire is heard as the jubilant ranchers discharge their guns into the air, but overall it's weirdly quiet, thanks to the thin atmosphere and the need for breath masks. Inside the bars and clubs, it's a different story. Our intrepid travellers decide to look for somewhere a little less popular in hopes of avoiding any brawls.

[Rolling on the tables in Startown Liberty indicates an encounter: a Con Man. Should it come up, his stats will be Rogue #1 from Citizens of the Imperium with a skill level of (1d6) Deception-3. I roll to see if Eshtam will notice the con; she will.]

An excitable man in robes with too-obvious designer labels approaches the party. "Offworlders!" he says, cheerfully, "and spacers, by the look of it! Boy have I got a need to talk to you!" He proceeds to chatter on about some sort of vague 'business opportunity', which will make everyone involved rich, rich, rich! But it just so happens he's a little short right now, since he just bought one a' those sweet ZTX-8s! Sure it cost him a mint, but boy! does that thing go!

Ignoring him doesn't seem to work, and telling him to shove off repeatedly does no better. [3x reaction rolls: 6, 6, 8. Eshtam doesn't solve things with her fists, but...
Q: does one of the NPCs get aggressive? Yes, and...]  Zet finally has enough of listening to this guy, and punches him square in the face.

[Combat ensues. Zet has surprise & hits for 5 damage, bringing the con man down to 2 END. The next round Zet punches him again whilst the conman draws his (1-4 body pistol, 5-6 auto pistol:5) gun. Eshtam draws her own and shouts 'put it down', hoping a standoff will cause him to back off. Zet hits for 2 points of DEX, reducing the con man's physical UPP to 612. Rolling a reaction for the con man turns up a 3 (Hostile attack on 5+: 7. Oh, well, she tried...). He fires but misses due to his extremely low DEX. Eshtam returns fire instinctually, hitting by 3 even after the penalty for firing into melee. He takes 11 points of damage and crumples to the ground, bleeding from a hole in his chest.

My inner GM then realised that the con man's shot had two possible targets, the guy attacking him and his friend with the gun, and that I should have rolled to decide between them, but didn't. So I ruled that my ignorance is the characters' as well. Maybe he wasn't trying to hit anyone to begin with, just fire a warning shot. That gives me some direction for the internal aftermath, but what the external?
Q: Will there be any immediate repercussions? No, and... there probably won't be any in the long term either.]

The three stare for a moment in stunned silence at the man lying motionless at their feet, then bolt away in a blind panic. They duck into a nearby alleyway to catch their breath.

"I don't think anyone saw us," says Zet.

"This is just brilliant," replies Daffid, "less than 20 minutes out of the extrality zone and already we've murdered someone."

"He had a gun!" snaps Eshtam.

"But did you have to shoot him?" says Zet.

"He shot first!"

"Which he wouldn't have done if Zet wasn't punching him," Daffid interjected.

"Fuck, this is unreal!"

"I can't believe I agreed to go into town with Zet the Fist and the trigger-happy new girl!"

"Boys, do we really need to be doing this now?"


The three walk briskly back to the ship, trying their best not to look suspicious. None of the passing bands of revellers pay them any mind. They unanimously decide to stay on the ship until departure, and quietly monitor what passes for news channels on New Dlemmis for any report of the evening's events. The next morning, Captain Aalir and Gelray are mildly surprised to see their shipmates sullen, uncommunicative, and uninterested in being off the ship, but they both put it down to Zet and Daffid spoiling the trip with their usual arguments.

When Gelray and the Captain leave to finalise a quick cargo deal, Zet pulls Eshtam aside. "I hope Daffid doesn't end up ratting us out to the Captain. You know they have kind of a thing going, don't you?"

"It's sorta obvious. Do you think he'll blab?"

"Dunno. Depends if he thinks the Captain will hold him responsible for being there and not speaking up sooner. He's not the best engineer I ever met, y'know? So his position here would be pretty tenuous if..."

"So no real loss, then?"

"Well, no. I'm mean I can barely stand the guy, but... I mean, what'll you do if he talks?"

"I don't know. Nothing, really. I'm not here that long anyway. Why?"

"I just want to know there won't be violence on the ship, is all."

"Hey, fuck you."

"I'm just sayin'... look, you're kind of an unknown quantity. I've barely known you a tenday, and in that time I've seen you shoot two guys."

"I swear to you, it makes me sick just thinking about it. Say Daffid does talk... worst case scenario is the Captain boots me off the ship in the next port. Would suit me just fine, anyways. All I want is to get off of Veegint. Either I earn enough so when we get back I can buy passage offworld without even leaving the spaceport, or I get kicked off at the next stop and we call it 'working passage'."

"You want to be on Uloryy?"

"Anywhere but Veegint."

"Or New Dlemmis, I guess," says Zet as he walks away.

"I did not sign on for this shit," thinks Eshtam.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Solo Traveller - Episode 4: The Galatea

Veegint/Foreven (3234 B743784-A) / Date: 191-1105

Eshtam arrives at the spaceport in the early afternoon, slightly worse for wear after a night on the town with the Imperial navy's finest. Captain Aalir meets her on the landing pad and introduces her to the rest of the crew.

[The captain and crew have been randomly selected from 1001 Characters (with the Captain's Pilot skill replaced with Ship's Boat), and their inter-relationships generated according to Zozer Games' Star Trader. I've included the absent pilot in the mix to help figure out how the crew will feel about her 'replacement'. Gender for each was 50/50, race determined by a d6: 1-4 standard human, 5 solomani, 6 vilani.]

NameRace/Sexposition1001 chrsAgeFeelings about...
Druna BellosSol. FPilotOther 3934Secretly hatesIgnoresOpenly jealous (of ship)Loner
Daffid JonesSol. MEngineerMerch. 322Secretly siblingsShare secretMaking sexy timeLoner
Gelray M'HoocHum. MMedicMerch.2026Inseperable buddiesLifelong friendSecretly jealousKnows dark secret
Kaduushili AalirVil. MCaptain / stewardMerch.1246Inseperable buddiesShare secretLonerLifelong friend
Zet MornakoHum. MGunnerMerch.122Friend through guiltEx-friendsBitterabout pastKnows dark secret

[From here on, I'll be using Star Trader tables for ship encounters and events.]

The Galatea leaves port without incident. On the way to the 100-planetary-diameters limit for jump, the comm picks up a distress call from a 600t asteroid-mining derrick. One of the derrick's workers has become suddenly violent. He has a gun and has injured or killed [(1d6+3)x10] 80% of the crew. Captain Aalir doesn't want to risk the ship or her crew on a rescue mission, and cites the urgency of their delivery, even though it would only be 6 hours out of their way.

[Q: Is there any dissent? Yes. roll 1d3 for dissenting crew member.]

Gelray, the ship's medic, insists that they have a duty to provide aid to fellow spacers. The captain puts it to a vote [50/50 Y/N for each crew member]. Eshtam certainly votes to help, as do three of the crew. Only Daffid (perhaps unsurprisingly) sides with the captain.

Six hours later, the Galatea makes her final approach to the mining derrick. Eshtam effortlessly [roll 9+pilot+dex=12] matches speed and vector with the platform  and joins the airlocks.  The comm has been silent for some time, so everyone arms themselves from the ship's locker before proceeding.

The interior of the derrick is heavily damaged, but the atmosphere and gravity are still normal. Eshtam leads the boarding party, pistol at the ready.

[Q: Is the violent crew member a criminal? No.
Q: Is he a disgruntled employee? No, but... he's unhappy with working here.
Q: Has he turned to drugs to deal with it? Yes, and... he's having a psychotic episode from some bad shit.
Q: Is he still out of control? No, but...]

The violent crewman is sitting on the floor of the mess hall amidst broken furniture and at least one body. When he see the party, he picks up his weapon [an auto carbine] and waves it in their direction, mumbling for them to keep back.

[Task: to talk someone down from a drug freakout
difficult (-2), INT + streetwise, Medicine or Psychology, 10-60 minutes

Eshtam rolls 4+2+2, failure.]

After 20 minutes of trying to talk him down, he panics and opens fire. He sprays bullets into the corridor wildly, but no one is hit. Eshtam and Zet return fire. The belter is hit, and goes unconscious but is still alive. Gelray stabilises his condition and issues a sedative whilst the rest look for survivors. Gelray patches up the injured, but it is decided (unanimously) that no one wants to wait around for the authorities -- an SDB is en route and will arrive within the hour. The survivors on the derrick are in no mood to argue. They thank their rescuers, and allow them to depart. Soon, the Galatea is in jumpspace, en route to the next system.

The jump is nearly uneventful, save for a minor power failure. Zet (the gunner) blames the Daffid (the engineer) for not performing adequate maintenance, and it nearly comes to blows in the common room. Gelray manages to break it up before it boils over. Zet sulks for the rest of the jump, and refuses to talk to Daffid at all.

Eshtam isn't sure what to make of this ship. Perhaps should have listened to the security trooper's warning...

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Solo Traveller - Episode 3: The Patron

Veegint/Foreven (3234 B743784-A) / Date: 189-1106

[Travelling Alone starts once again with upkeep, so Eshtam pays out another cr160 for food, shelter and a travel pass [Cr605 left]. The flowchart leads through the usual buy/sell/heal to Seek Patron. The patron table results in a merchant, and randomly selecting one from the venerable 76 Patrons produces #54. A roll of 3 indicates the cargo is contraband.]

Eshtam bums around the city a few days, eventually making her way back to the downport to try her luck there. She sees a notice on the job boards that a qualified pilot is needed on short notice. She calls the number, and within the hour is walking into a mid-range spaceport bar & lounge to meet her prospective employer.

Kaduushili Aalir is the captain of the free trader Galatea. He is of obvious Vilani heritage, in his mid-forties, with deep brown skin and well-trimmed greying hair. He wears a casual business suit, and attempts to bring an air of decorum to the proceedings. After the usual introductions, he gets down to business.

"This is a bit embarrassing," he confides, "but my pilot has gotten herself locked up for 45 days on a drunk and disorderly charge. None of the rest of my crew can handle a starship. I've got a special cargo that I need to get to Uloryy immediately, so we can't wait. It's 2 jumps there, 2 back, and I don't mean to waste much time looking for cargo on the trip out. Just a quick consignment or two, maybe a few passengers. Coming back will be more relaxed. Druna's a good pilot -- I'm not looking to replace her -- but she's left us in a bit of a bind here. I can offer you a month and a half's standard salary, and a 1000 credit bonus on top of that. Only thing is, we have to leave the day after tomorrow. I don't even have time to check your references, but your CV says you were in the scouts, so I will take that as meaning you know how to fly. What do you say?"

"I say yes."

"Welcome aboard."

Eshtam agrees to return the following afternoon and stay aboard ship until departure so she can meet the crew and get situated. On her way out of the starport...

[random encounter: 3d6 security troops
reaction: hostile, may attack
Q: is this related to the patron? Yes
Q: is this related to the shipment? Yes, but...
Q: do they have any evidence against them? No, and...]

...ten heavily-armed and armoured port security troops surround her. "So, you're one of the good captain Aalir's... associates," the lieutenant asks her at gunpoint. A number of brusque questions follow, questions to which she has no real answers. "I just met him half an hour ago... I'm just flying his ship whilst his regular pilot does her time... I barely know the guy."

[roll streetwise: 8+2. Seems enough to evade a shakedown that isn't really personal.]

"Fine," says the lieutenant, "so you aren't officially one of his crew. Want a bit of advice? I'd see that you stay that way. That ship is bad news. You're free to go."

Eshtam decides to spend her last night on Veegint in a bar in the startown. [Using the old Games Lords' Startown Liberty tables, she manages to find a low-key tavern. She spends cr11 on food and some cheap lager. She is befriended by a pair of Imperial Navy ratings on shore leave, who buy her 6(!)rounds of drinks -- good thing she has 10 END. Stumbling back to her hostel at the end of the night, she has one last encounter, 11 grav-ball hooligans (rowdies from the CT encounter table). she doesn't want to join in their cheering or singing the team song, so they lose interest and ignore her (reaction roll was Non-committal).] She makes it back to her room at the hostel and promptly passes out.

Friday, 20 December 2013


An updated version of this post can be found as a page on this site.

The old Traveller Book (& little black books) has a nifty d66 table for generating rumours, which is great for GMs but a bit wanting for solitaire play. For one thing, knowing the truth or falsity of a rumour as it was generated ruins any possible suspense, and leaves the solo player having to decide if their character is desperate/foolhardy/bored enough to check it out (especially if you roll 'information leading to trap').

Using the old Traveller rumours as a starting point, I've created the following tables, which determine the type of rumour, it's magnitude, and its level of truth separately. There's still a bit of interpretation to be done by the player/GM, but when combined with another random idea generator (Mythic, Rory's Story cubes, bibliomancy) it should lead to a more satisfying and less certain gaming session.

Whilst I wrote up these tables with Traveller in mind, they are general enough that, mutatis mutandis, they should be adequate for most RPGs, solo or with a GM.

Using the tables

Table 1 determines the general category of rumour, and tables 2-6 specify it further. Table 7 determines the magnitude of the rumour; there are four separate columns, one of which must be selected before rolling. Finally, table 8 determines how true or false the rumour actually is.

To generate a rumour, first roll on table 1 followed by the indicated table 2-6 to determine the general topic of the rumour. Combine this result with a random idea generator to come up with the actual rumour as stated to your character. Some random ideas or rumour types will suggest other rolls on tables 2-6 to come up with something specific. Use whatever combination works to make a good story.

Depending on the rumour you have produced, roll on one of the columns on table 7 to determine the magnitude of the rumour. The Quality column can be used to decide if the rumour is about something good or bad, assuming your random generator result doesn't lean one one way or the other. The Major & Minor columns can similarly be used to determine a positive or negative DM to any concomitant skill checks and the like; these bonuses correspond well to the Major/Minor columns. The plus/minus column is useful to determine DMs & severity if the rumour suggested by the is obviously good or bad. Record all these results, and you're done.

Table 8 should only ever be consulted once your character(s) have followed up on the rumour.

Example: Margaret, captain of the free trader Norland and solitaire adventurer extraordinaire, overhears a rumour in a startown bar. On table 1, her player rolls a 6, Miscellaneous. Rolling on table 6 comes up with 5, business tip. Since she's looking for speculative cargo to trade offworld, her player rolls on the cargo tables in the main rule book and gets Advanced Machine Parts. Margaret is on a high tech world, so advanced machine parts are available locally. Since she is looking for cargo, this rumour will concern another market for them. The tip could relate either to the purchase price here or the selling price at destination. There's an equal likelihood of either, so a die is thrown to decide: selling price. A business tip is likely to be positive, so her player decides to roll on the plus/minus column of table 7 to determine the bonus DM. A roll of 8 results in a +3 DM for sales. Margaret has heard the following rumour: "I hear that factories on Delaford VII are in desperate need of advanced machine parts. I know a guy who made a killing selling 50t of them there." Margaret's player records the rumour, and notes the +3 sale DM. If she takes a cargo of advanced machine parts to Delaford VII to sell, a roll on the truth table will be called for. A roll of 10 (mostly true) would result in a +2 sale DM. A roll of 6 (mostly false) would mean there's no bonus DM at all, whereas a roll of 4 (completely false) might call for a roll on the plus/minus column to determine a DM penalty for sales. A roll of 2 might indicate that importing machine parts to this planet is a capital offence. It's possible that Margaret could use Investigation or some other skill to determine whether or not the rumour was true, but a business tip like this won't necessarily last long enough for her to find out before it's gone.

Table 1
d6 rumour type
1  clue*
2  background (table 2)
3  fact (table 3)
4  library data (table 4)
5  location data (table 5)
6  miscellaneous (table 6)

* If nothing is currently being investigated, treat as 2, background. Base throw of 8+ to detect the clue; use table 7 to increase/decrease the difficulty. )

Table 2 - Background
d6 backgound of...
1  individual
2  group
3  family
4  government
5  organization
6  world

Table 3 - Fact
d6 about...
1  animal
2  vegetable
3  mineral
4  technology
5  culture
6  environment

Table 4 - Library Data
d6 topic
1  event
2  place
3  phenomenon
4  object
5  literature
6  history

Table 5 - Location Data
d6 location
1  specific location
2  vicinity
3  city
4  region
5  planet
6  system

Table 6 - Miscellaneous
d6 result
1  recommendation to action
2  terminology
3  warning
4  information
5  business tip
6  potential patron

Table 7 - Magnitude
2d6 quality     major minor plus/minus
2   certain death -5    -2      ±0
3   ruin          -4    -2      ±1
4   disaster      -3    -1      ±1
5   difficulty    -2    -1      ±2
6   annoyance     -1     0      ±2
7   neutral        0     0      ±2
8   aid           +1     0      ±3
9   benefit       +2    +1      ±3
10  gain          +3    +1      ±4
11  good fortune  +4    +2      ±4
12  miracle       +5    +2      ±5

Table 7 notes: If major/minor is uncertain, roll 1d6: 1-2 major, 3-6 minor. If the rumour could be either good or bad, use quality and the corresponding major/minor. If the quality is obviously good or bad, use the plus/minus column to determine the degree of goodness/badness.

Table 8 - Truth
2d6 result
 2  deliberately false - trap
 3  completely false
 4  completely false
 5  deliberately false - annoyance
 6  mostly false
 7  mostly false
 8  partly true
 9  mostly true
10  mostly true
11  completely true
12  completely true

Table 8 notes: Library data: DM +1d6 if unfamiliar source, +5 if known and trusted source
If the classic Traveller reaction table is being used, DM +1 if reaction roll was 10+, -1 if reaction 6-7, -2 if below 6.

Solo Traveller - Episode 2: Disappointments

Veegint/Foreven (3234 B743784-A) / Date: 182-1106

[Starting at the beginning of the Travelling Alone flowchart, there is Eshtam's upkeep (soc x soc x 10 = Cr160. Cr765 left) to be paid. She's not looking to buy or sell anything, and isn't in need of healing, but it is only a matter of time before the dice lead me again to Event - Meet NPC. Another roll (using the patron encounter tables) produces a Diplomat, which I randomly determine is #24 (1st secretary) on the list in CT Citizens of the Imperium. The reaction roll is 4: Hostile, attacks on 8+. I roll an 8, so he does. I can't see this actually devolving into combat, so I decide that Eshtam bumps into this jerk on the monorail, and he loses his temper and starts yelling. She's not the type to get in a brawl over something trivial, so she just mumbles 'sorry' and walks away.

From there the next item of note turns out to be Seek Patron, so after a few uninteresting days Eshtam finds herself walking up to a non-descript building on the outskirts of one of the business districts.]

In the doorway of the building is a plasteel console with scuffed-up display, dirty keypad and a card slot. Eshtam puts the business card in the slot and the screen comes to life, displaying the word 'connecting...' in galanglic and three other languages she's never seen before. After a few moments, a voice from the crackling speaker tells her to come in, take the lift, have a seat in suite 807. She can't tell if it's the woman from the other day or not.

The waiting room is dismal, furnished with about a dozen metal chairs and a wilting plant in the corner. The light from overhead fluorescents picks out every stain in the carpeting. Three closed doors on one end of the room complete the decor. Eshtam sits, and waits.

Eventually one of the doors opens, and a vigorous man in his mid-forties emerges, wearing a dress uniform with captain's insignia and a handful of imperial campaign ribbons.

[Using tables in Mercenary, I get a Striker - Elimination ticket.]

The man introduces himself as Captain Hean, formerly of the 4173rd Lift Infantry Division, now Captain of Hean's Drossenars, a company-sized mercenary unit based on Veegint (the drossenar is a small and vicious native pouncer). He explains a bit about the unit, noting its triumphs, and then cuts to the chase [on a scale of 2-12, how bad will this proposition sound? 10 - pretty atrocious; consulting the map, I see there's an amber zone only J-3 away].

"The contract," says captain Hean, "is for a striker mission on Dimmul. We're to assault a certain governmental stronghold and hold it until the, ah... new government officials selected by my client can be brought in to assume the reins of power. There will of course be other operations going on concurrently, but this is our piece of the action. I can guarantee at least one month's duty on-world, transport there, equipment, repatriation bond... the works, plus a substantial success-only bonus. Full details are, of course, restricted unless you sign on. I'm guessing by your jacket you're ex-Scouts, rather than military, but actually that's why you're here. I got all the muscle I need, I just don't have anyone worth a damn at reconnaissance to lead them in. What do you say? Take a day or two to think it over if you have to, but I need an answer in 72 hours."

[Dimmul is a high-population, balkanised world whose amber classification stems from the numerous space and ground wars in the system. It's also 2 tech levels higher than Veegint. If Hean's Drossenars are equipped locally...]

Eshtam isn't a soldier, and doesn't really plan on becoming one. As much as she wants off Veegint, staging a coup d'état on Dimmul is not what she had in mind. She smiles at Captain Hean, shakes his hand, and says she needs to think about it. Once she's clear of the building, she throws the business card away.


session post mortem: the meeting with the diplomat was completely pointless, and should have been stricken from the record. I was trying to let the dice lead the story, but what I rolled was totally uninspiring. Events and NPC encounters don't always have to lead to adventures of galactic import, but neither should they seem like one's morning commute. In retrospect, I should have re-rolled when diplomat failed to spark my imagination.

On the other hand, rejecting the patron made perfect sense for my character and seemed like it could lead to something further down the line. Maybe she'll end up on Dimmul someday after all, and their paths will cross again.

After the meeting with Captain Hean, I rolled two more rumours (completely false info and minor fact) via the flowchart before reaching the end. I wasn't feeling especially interested in generating rumours at that point, so I just made a note of them in case I thought of something later, and dropped them from the narrative above entirely. As I was typing this up, I had a sudden realisation about the Traveller Book's rumour table and its unsuitability for solitaire play. More on this (and a proposed solution) in a separate post.

(adventure continues here)

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Solo Traveller - Episode 1: Into the Subsector

Veegint/Foreven (3234 B743784-A) / Date: 175-1106

 "Who the hell gets kicked out of the Scouts?" thinks Eshtam Dreejeh as she looks out the back of the monorail, watching the spaceport recede into the haze. "Sixteen years of loyal service and then I'm cut loose without so much as an explanation. 'Too many personnel in the subsector,' according to Thurmond. I don't think he expected me to believe it, either. This after a month of debriefings over that last mission to T'nan. I guess it really didn't... ah, gotta stop thinking about it. Oh, well, 'detached duty' it is then."

[Eshtam has been discharged from the Scouts as a result of a Mishap during character creation. She was given passage from the system's scout base to the mainworld downport, and thus begins her adventure. She is carrying a duffle bag with all her worldly possessions and has a credit balance of Cr1295).

Veegint isn't a terribly interesting place, and besides, this is Traveller; she wants to get offworld. She could buy a low passage, but isn't desperate enough to travel that way (yet). She needs to find work. But as there are no immediate prospects, she needs a place to stay, so she has booked a room in a hostel and bought a local travel permit for the capital city, Belnn.

So her adventuring career starts with three goals:

1. find work
2. secure passage offworld
3. put some distance between herself and T'nan

I haven't yet decided what went down on T'nan. I'll let future events suggest a history and fill in the details as they fall into place, about the planet, the research base, and the fateful mission. Besides, I am unaware of any such activity or operation on T'nan, nor would I be disposed to discuss such an operation, if it did in fact exist.

For the first adventure, I'm using Travelling Alone as the 'GM emulator', the 1d6 yes/no/ yes but... inspired by FU for decisions and clarifications, and the encounter and reaction tables from the classic 1981 Traveller Book.

The beginning of the Travelling Alone sequence is upkeep (soc x soc x 10). Deducting Cr160 from her balance seems reasonable for a room in a dodgy hostel and a travel pass for the capital city.]

Unsure of where to start, Eshtam decides to explore the city a little and get a feel for the place. She passes brokerages [Sell Cargo] hospitals and clinics [Healing], pawn shops [Sell Equipment], but none of these are important to her right now. She eventually happens upon a gun shop [Buy Equipment]. She doesn't feel safe wandering around unarmed, and walking around with her rifle on her shoulder seems a bit uncouth, so she buys an auto pistol and ammo [Cr210]; the local Law Level will permit her to carry it.

[A few more rolls brings her to Options. Well, her options are limited at this stage, so I assume she's still just trying to get a feel for the city. She's not broke yet, so she can afford a couple days of sightseeing, such as it is.

From Options, the next roll is Hear Rumour. The CT rumour table results in Misleading Background Data. I decide she hears that there is a certain part of town where wealthy travellers put together and recruit for private exploration missions. She heads there immediately.

Once there, I roll Event - Meet NPC. The CT Patron tables should suffice for a random NPCs so... [rolling dice] Marine Officer. Ok, so what's [1-3 M, 4-6 F; 5] she like? Using the tried and true method of closing my eyes and pointing to a random stat block in the CT Veterans supplement, I find out she's a 2nd Lieutenant, and -- more importantly -- has the recruiting skill. But her initial reaction is [7] non-committal.

After a series of yes/no questions & die rolls, the scene plays out like so: ]

Eshtam overhears a woman talking about recruits on her wrist com. She's in military dress uniform, though without any government insignia. Eshtam is intrigued and decides to follow her. As the woman is about to go into a café, Eshtam catches her attention.

"Hey! sorry, I overheard you were recruiting for..."

"Um, yeah. Look, I'm just trying to get some lunch here." The woman gives Eshtam the once-over, sizing her up; she's wearing an old service jacket and is apparently armed, so why not? She hands her a small plastic business card. "Ok. Sure. If you're serious, come to this address in three days time." The card is simple and businesslike, with just a name (2nd Lt. D. Ystelman), a nearby address, and the word 'recruiter'. Eshtam pockets the card and leaves the woman to her lunch break.

[From here the die rolls pretty much lead to End without incident, so play will recommence at the start of the Travelling Alone sequence. Each go through the table is supposed to represent a week, so I'll use the same 1D3+5 days I use for determining time spent in jumpspace.]

The misleading rumour has led her to find people recruiting mercenaries rather than explorers. The next Seek Patron or Options result will lead her to the address on the card.

Eshtam isn't sure exactly what is being recruited for yet, but at least it's a lead.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

character creation

ex-scout Eshtam Dreejeh
Human female, Age 34, 4 terms, Cr1250
Str 6 (+0) Dex 11 (+1) End 10 (+1)
Int 12 (+2) Edu 9 (+1) Soc 4 (-1)
Skills: Astrogation 0, Comms 1, Computers 0, Deception 1,
Gun Combat (Slug Pistol) 1, Gun Combat (Slug Rifle) 2,
Gunnery (Turrets) 2, Investigate 0, Language (Gvegh) 0,
Navigation 0, Pilot 1, Recon 2, Sensors 3, Space Science 0,
Stealth 1, Streetwise 2, Vacc Suit 1, Zero-G 1
Equipment: Rifle, TL8 Cloth Armour, TL9 Optical scope,
3 spare rifle magazines, TL8 Breather mask, TL10 comm

I've probably saved the character generation scratch paper for every Traveller PC I've ever rolled up, so I can go back and look at their history. I don't usually come up with this many notes about them, but it's far from the only time I've ever done it, either.

My usual method for rolling up a human Traveller PC is to throw 12d6 and re-roll any die that comes up a 1. Any dice that come up a 1 on the reroll stay that way. The dice are then arranged in pairs ad libitum and each pair allocated to an attribute.

Using this method, my new character has a starting UPP of 6AAC94. She's pretty physically fit (high dex & end), though has a below average strength, which seems to indicate that she's lithe and rather short. She's smart (Int 12) and has a superior education (9), which she probably had to work hard to get, since she grew up a in an impoverished working class home (soc 4). She dreams of some day joining the Scouts, leading a life of adventure exploring alien worlds and the depths of space.

Her homeworld is Izbelia (B-774989-B Hi In), an industrial world within the Imperial border. I chose randomly from amongst the planets with scout bases on the theory that she couldn't travel offworld to apply; if she had failed her enlistment roll, I would have kept the character as a potential second PC or NPC.

Her education of 9 entitles her to 4 background skills. In school she studies Computers 0, Language (Gvegh) 0, and Space Science 0. She picks up Streetwise 0 by growing up in a rough neighbourhood.

She turns 18 on 151-1072, anxiously awaiting news of the application she submitted earlier in the year. She has, in fact, successfully enlisted in the scouts as a communications specialist in the Courier branch, and on 175-1072 reports for basic training. She would have liked to go directly into the Exploration branch, but a poor kid from a high population world probably doesn't get their first choice.

Term 1 Scout - Courier/Communications

Her basic training provides the following skills: Pilot 0, Comms 0, Astrogation 0, Sensors 0, Navigation 0.

For term skills, she gets Streetwise (increasing her skill to 1), as her missions require her to deliver communiqués to scout agents in some of the seamier parts of the planets she visits.

Event: during a mission to Fpozz, the type-S scout ship she is on is ambushed whilst skimming fuel from a gas giant. She uses her (admittedly minimal) pilot skills to escape the ambush (she rolls a successful pilot check). She also learns a bit more about the ship's instruments during the experience (Sensors increases to 1).

For her meritorious service this term, she is promoted to rank 1, Messenger Second Class. Her time spent aboard starships has seen her learn a good deal about their workings (bonus skill for advancement is Gunnery 1, and for attaining rank 1 her Comms increases to 1).

Term 2 Scout - Courier/Communications

After a successful first term, she continues service in the Communications branch. She spends a lot of time serving as a gunner on missions beyond Imperial space. (rolling Gunnery for her term skill, increasing it to 2).

Event: given extra combat training. She spends a bit of time in the scout base at Antesh, where she is taught marksmanship and how to move in Zero Gravity (the actual bonus skill for the rolled Event is Zero-G 1, but her 2nd term mustering out benefit ties in well with her training, being one level each of gun combat and Vacc Suit).

Her service record continues to be noticed by her superiors, resulting in promotion to rank 2, Messenger First Class. She has become quite proficient reading shipboard instruments this term (Sensors increases to 2) and her Zero-G training has improved her physical fitness (+1 dex).

Term 3 Scout - Spec.Ops/Covert surveillance

At the close of her second term, flushed with success and a record full of commendations, she submits a request for transfer to the Exploration branch. She is instead approached by some shadowy individuals, who convince her that her services are most needed in Special Operations.

She is given a basic training course in spycraft (gaining Investigate 0) and sent out into the field on assignment (picking up Deception 1 as a term skill).

Event: Disaster! (roll on the mishap table but not ejected from this career) She learns just how dangerous Spec Ops can be. Her cover is blown on a mission to Ikaktu, whether through her own carelessness or betrayal, she never learns. The party under investigation offers her a deal, but she refuses. She is attacked by assassins, and left for dead. She awakens weeks later in a hospital halfway across the planet. Her fellow scouts managed to smuggle her out to a neutral nation (Ikaktu is a balkanised world) when the mission went bust. She eventually recovers from her injuries (missing eye, -2 DEX from the injury table) and has a cybernetic eye fitted. Her medical care ends up costing Cr10000 (to be deducted from mustering out benefits).

She eventually finds her way back to Imperial space, and is given other assignments which result in valuable intelligence for the Imperium. She is promoted to rank 1, Special Operative. Her missions this term result in improved physical fitness (+1 dex), an understanding of reconnaissance techniques (Recon 1) and training in ECM/ECCM and electronic warfare (Sensors increases to 3; this actually came from the Event/Mishap).

Term 4 Scout - Spec. Ops. /Covert surveillance

She continues to serve in the Spec Ops branch for her 4th term. Ever since the disaster on Ikaktu, she has made a point of noticing everything in her surroundings (rolls Recon for her term skill, increasing it to 2). She has proved herself admirably, and she is given ever more classified assignments.

But this term sees a Mishap befall her (involved in black project which must be buried, +1 benefit roll but forced to leave service). T'nan is a red zone world. It is outside the Imperial border, but interdicted by the Imperial navy. The official story is that there was an outbreak of plague and the world must be quarantined, but there are persistent rumours of an Imperial Research Base on T'nan where experiments of a dubious nature are being carried out -- experiments which are illegal within the confines of the Imperium. In early 1106 she is sent to T'nan on a top secret mission. She carries out her instructions to the letter, but backlash against the project from the highest echelons of the IISS intelligence community results in the project needing to be completely buried: wiped from the official record and forgotten. She spends the last two standard months of her career stuck in the scout HQ at Veegint, before she is unceremoniously discharged from the service.

Mustering out rolls:

term 1. weapon&armour (Rifle & Cloth armour)
term 2. weapon&armour (translates into skills: Slug Rifle 1 & Vacc suit 1)
rank 2. cr15000 (-10000 for later medical debt)

term 1. gun combat (Slug Pistol 1)
rank 1. +1dex
+1 benefit. gun combat (Rifle increases to 2)


Since there are no other characters with whom to form connections, and since the idea of just selecting connections with an organisation seems a bit blah, I decided to take two skills now (Stealth 1, increase Streetwise to 2) and let the connections come out during play. For each important NPC (or new PC) that gets introduced (and is likely to stick around), I will roll to see if there is a connection, and if so, which term it took place in. I'll compare the Events in each of their history that term, and flesh out the connection from there.

The Event/Mishap roll from term 3 also resulted in her gaining an Enemy: an intelligence agency from Ikaktu.

Solo Generation: Instead of choices from a skill package, solo characters get to choose a single level one skill. I'm going for Pilot 1; call me old fashioned, but making a Scout with Field experience who lacks real pilot skill is unconscionable.

Aging roll: results in -1 DEX, which has been more than offset by dex increases rolled earlier.

Equipment: She is allowed to keep her rifle and TL8 cloth armour the IISS issued her. She doesn't wear full armour everywhere she goes, but feels comfortable in the jacket, having spent many nights in the field using it as a blanket (I figure this is good for half the armour value, rounded down). New characters can spend up to Cr2000 on equipment. For Cr705 she gets a TL9 Optical scope for her rifle, 3 spare rifle magazines, a TL8 Breather mask, and a TL10 comm. I want her starting circumstances to be a little less than comfortable, so I am arbitrarily going to decide her prosthetic eye cost Cr3000 extra, so she'll start play with Cr1295 remaining.

Name: I put some phonemes together and played around with various letters to arrive at Eshtam. Sometimes I google things like this to make sure I'm not accidentally naming my character 'idiot' in Creole or something (I'm space commander Makro Dovèr, at your service!). 'Ishtam' is a Telugu word derived from Sanskrit, meaning longing or desire. So it seems my character is descended from ethnic Solomani, who were probably part of the original settlers on Izbelia who arrived on a generation ship during the Long Night.

Onwards to adventure!

Traveller sandbox

My solo Traveller sandbox is located in the Foreven sector. I'll start with subsector P (the bottom right hand corner of the map, next to Seven sisters in the Spinward Marches).

For old times sake, I'm starting off in the first subsector I ever rolled up, with only some slight modifications from its original classic Traveller beginnings. It's still my favourite one out of all the ones I've ever generated, so I have lots of opinions on what the planets are like and how they fit together. I hope to write out brief summaries of them as the campaign progresses; it's all just been in my head until now.

The shiny new map was made here: http://www.travellermap.com/post.htm

Foreven subsector P


Name          Hex  UPP       Bases Trade codes     T  PBG Allegiance
----          ---  ---       ----- -----------     -  --- ----------
Estoner       2532 E338569-6       Ni                 820 Zo
Piemal        2533 B792369-9  J    Lo                 624 Zo
Zoe           2534 BAAA257-E  J    Fl Ht Lo Wa        301 Zo
Lasperth      2537 B469443-A       Ni                 300 Na
Olos          2538 A588652-D  JM   Ag Ga Ht Ni Ri     903 Na
Duza          2539 C363234-8  M    Lo                 624 Na
Haarui        2540 C6B5555-8       Fl Ni              622 Na
Lime          2632 X6758AA-1       Ga Lt              110 Na
Mzarz         2639 A221775-B  J    Na Po              204 Na
Eeharg        2640 BAB0866-6  M    De              A  503 Na
i'Pa'trix     2733 B96676B-8  M    Ag Ga           R  900 Pa
Pa'trix       2734 A7C0A9E-D  JM   De Hi Ht In     A  101 Pa
Antesh        2735 C569679-7  S    Ni Ri              704 Na
Hope          2736 X202989-4       Hi Ic Lt Na Va     304 Na
Bleugh        2831 C533A95-7       Hi Na Po           700 Na
  Tellbright  2834 B332211-B  JM   Lo Po              300 Na
Chabloha      2837 E733884-2       Lt Na Po           304 Na
Vrild         2839 X698536-0       Ag Ga Lt Ni     A  714 Na
Fpozz         2933 D000320-9       As Lo              814 Na
Dimmul        2936 C587A7A-C  M    Ga Hi Ht        A  300 Na
Yk            2937 D463545-3  S    Lt Ni              102 Na
Uloryy        3033 A877758-7  N    Ag Ga              803 Im
Shiela        3034 E776366-5       Ga Lo Lt           314 Im
'Dmeel        3038 A00059C-F  N    As Ht Na           610 Im
Nunuk         3039 C0005DF-9  V    As Ni           A  512 Na
Biabr         3040 B343645-9  J    Ni Po              601 Na
T'nan         3131 X664000-0       Ba              R  024 Na
New Dlemmis   3134 B641400-B       Ni Po              902 Im
Oothoom       3135 A79A643-B  NS   Ni Wa              120 Im
Izbelia       3136 B774989-B  S    Ga Hi In           303 Im
Mingiz        3137 A668887-C  N    Ga Ht Ri Cp        905 Im
Iaea          3138 A9E6241-E       Fl Ht Lo           802 Im
Imllgh        3139 A7B3534-D  N    Fl Ht Ni           605 Im
Woon          3140 B675573-9  M    Ag Ga Ni        A  603 Na
Veegint       3234 B743784-A  S    Po                 503 Im
Anandanang    3235 E3307C9-6       De Na Po           900 Im
Tierdan       3238 B200862-C  N    Ht Na Va           910 Im

Base Codes:
N: Imperial Naval base
S: Imperial scout Base
J: non-Imperial naval base
M: non-Imperial military Base
V: Independent Base

Tuesday, 17 December 2013


"We live, as we dreamplay RPGs -- alone. . . ."

I haven't had a regular gaming group in a few years, and computer RPGs only hold my interest for so long. I've always preferred tabletop RPGs, and have been a fan of solitaire gaming ever since I got ahold of the random dungeon generation in Best of Dragon magazine vol. 1 when I was 11.

I've been playing through dozens of solitaire adventures (mostly for T&T and Das Schwarze Auge) but I have recently been tempted by the more open, free-form GM emulators and the like. I do love solitaire adventures to bits, but they don't offer much of a sense of connectedness. My solo adventurer's 'campaign' is essentially a list of dungeons entered and bad guys defeated.

Half the reason I like RPGs is for the characters and the stories their adventures tell, but I like the game aspect as well. I like rolling the dice to see what happens.

I've played a lot of games over the past 30 years, and have some definite preferences. There are games I wouldn't mind playing with actual people, but for one reason or another I would never consider solo. I'm really not interested in rules-lite systems, but I'm equally put off by rules bloat (Pathfinder, I'm looking in your direction) and games with built-in power creep so severe that after the first supplement no one can use a character from the main book (Palladium). A lot of modern gaming systems leave me a bit cold; rules that are too slick are often a distraction, and do more to pull me out of the fantasy world and into the numbers game. I don't really believe in universal systems; some games just feel better with certain rules.

For me, Call of Cthulhu is only ever Chaosium's Basic system. I vacillate between 2nd and 3rd edition Runequest. If I want high fantasy, I'll probably just grab my Moldvay basic & expert sets, or possibly LotFP. If I want low fantasy, 4th ed. Das schwarze Auge. If I want space opera (and I rarely do), then Star Wars d6; hard sci-fi is Traveller (classic or Mongoose). I am not the biggest fan of pulp, nor of cinematic combat systems (though Legend seems like it might be fun for some swords&sorcery).

I've decided to start this blog to chronicle my solo adventurers' wanderings and have a record of their stories and development. It never would have occurred to me to do so had I not stumbled across the likes of http://tabletopdiversions.blogspot.co.uk, http://solonexus.blogspot.co.uk, http://solospelunking.wordpress.com, to name a few.

I've been embroiled in new solo Traveller campaign lately, so this blog will be focussing on that for a while. I'll also be posting any tricks, tools, or tables I make, in case anyone else can use them.