Sunday, 23 August 2015

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

[Picking up again with the 9Qs...

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

Betray / Leadership.

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

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

• Choose or use the random idea generator to inspire the place where and when the
encounter will occur. The place and time do not have to be the same as in Q5.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I see 'im."

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

"Looks like."

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

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

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

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

"Are you serious?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Round 1

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

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

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

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

[Round 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Round 1

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

12 diplo
 7 Gytovo
 6 Lugalaa
 4 noble]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Round 4]

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

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

"Not unless we have to."

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

"Be my guest."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  1. Curiouser and curiouser . . . I await further developments.

    -- Jeff

    1. Believe it or not, things get even more complicated...

      I hope to have ep. 17 ready to post tomorrow.

    2. I will keep my eye out for the post.

      -- Jeff

  2. Just simply an excellent campaign log. I've been following your updates for some time now. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

    Bill "Whipsnade" Cameron

    1. Thank you. I'm always glad to hear from satisfied readers.