Friday, 29 December 2017

Star Wars RPG solo - Part 21: Part of the Rebel Alliance and a Traitor

Meanwhile... Trefftun summons Zil and Lina to his office on some minor pretext involving their transfer papers.

Scene 12

Chaos: Out of Control (d8)

Setup: mission briefing

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

Threads: mission

"Zil," says Trefftun, once the door is shut and locked, "you know why you're really here. Riilina, I expect Zil's told you who I really am."

"It's just 'Lina'. But yeah, Zil said."

"Gotcha. As a merc I thought your tactical experience would be of some benefit. I'll leave it to the two of you to brief the rest. The task that the great Morga the Hutt wishes you to perform is pretty straight-forward: get someone out of this place. Dr. Straiisgo Ehks is the lead crystallographer on this project. He left the Corporate Sector when he got a grant to work here from the Imperial University of Advanced Physical Sciences on Coruscant. The Empire must believe his work has great military applications. The Corporate Sector want him back, and the good doctor would rather be back home than here. You need to find a way to grab him and get him away from here. If you can grab his research too, so much the better, but don't waste time getting it if you have a chance to escape with Dr. Ehks."

"How do we get off the ice fields?" asks Zil.

"Steal a ship? I dunno. This is your task, not mine."

"So where are we taking him?" asks Lina.

"Nujeenakder City, in the equatorial region. Once you're there, look up Vordroon's Import/Export at the spaceport. Call up and ask for "Triibo", and tell him you have an offworld delivery to be made to a Mr. Kuththuk. Triibo will arrange a meeting, and get you and Dr. Ehks offworld."

"So do you have anything to offer to help us out?"

Trefftun opens his desk and produces a small plastic console the size or a large datapad.

"I've got you a present: a vintage Pazaak-Master 3000. But if you start a new game, and press these 5 keys in sequence..."

He demonstrates, and the holographic cards change into an architectural drawing.

" get a rough schematic of the base atop the spire. Press any other key and it goes back to your game."

"Jather will love this," says Lina.

"Just so's he doesn't run down the power cell before we've made our plans," replies Zil.

"I ship out in three days," says Trefftun, "so if there's anything else you think you need from me, now's the time to ask. I don't think I need to tell you not to tarry -- nor remind you that the Great Morga looks unkindly at failure."

Scene 13

Chaos: Out of Control (d8)

Setup: Chaos die =3, Interrupt (was: planning infiltration of Spire)
Interrupt: NPC action (Imperial commander) - Praise / Attention
Q: Praise a PC? Likely (3+): O3 C5 - Yes; 1d6=Wex

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

The Imperial Commander himself is waiting in the infirmary as Wex is discharged.

"Just the man I wanted to see," he says, striding across the room and shaking Wex's hand. "I can't believe you risked your life like that for a fellow worker -- and an unpopular one at that." [UNE: inquisitive - scepticism - last scene]

"It, uh, it just seemed the right thing to do," says Wex. "I didn't really think about it."

[Con roll: the difficulty is Easy (10) since that's pretty much what the commander wants to hear. 3D=13, success.]

"You're a good man, Wex Ralter. I've got my eye on you. The Empire can use men of your resolve and decisiveness. We'll talk again soon."

Scene 14

Chaos: increased to Madness (d6), since things are getting confusing

Setup: rebel contact

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

Threads: mission

Zil wasn't sure how to start on their task, so she has had everyone spend a few days taking notes on movement within the base and around the work parties, especially when the snowtroopers are involved. But her lack of any good plans is starting to give Zil sleepless nights.

One morning Zil is trudging out of the cafeteria when Lt. Haldee glides up and accosts her.

"Zil! You've been avoiding me."

"No, I..."

"I was hoping to talk to you for a bit."

"Sure. What about?"

"Not here. My quarters. Dinner time."

"Uh, yeah, OK. Sure."

- - -

That evening, Zil makes her way to Lt. Haldee's quarters. When the door slides open, the mingled scents of ambrosial incense and savoury food -- real food -- waft out in to the sterile corridor, propelled, it seems, by the soft, sultry music. Candles provide the only light within, and Zil hesitates as her eyes adjust to the dark. She isn't sure if she should enter, or flee. The whoosh of the sliding door at her back tells her that her feet have made the decision for her. One of the shadows coalesces into the form of Lt. Haldee, clad in silk and holding a goblet of wine.

"Relax, Zil, I don't bite," says Lt. Haldee. "This is all for show. The rampant gossip should deflect any suspicions. But the food and wine are real enough, and better than you're likely to encounter on this miserable snowball for some time, so please, let's not let it go to waste."

Zil seems momentarily paralysed, so the Lieutenant takes her by the hand and leads her over to the table. She sits her down and removes the cover from a plate of food, a richer feast than Zil's ever before eaten. She pours Zil a goblet of sweet, rich wine, from which Zil drinks greedily; her mouth has never felt so suddenly dry.

Zil watches Lt. Haldee swan over to the other side of the table, and take her place opposite. She uncovers her own plate, closes her eyes, and breathes deeply of the steaming, spicy repast.

"So you see," says Lt. Haldee, "even though I'm quartered down here in the labour camp, my job does have some benefits."

"And just what is your job?" asks Zil.

"You like to start right off with the tough questions, don't you? Let's start with the obvious: I am a mid-ranking security officer assigned to this operation."

"There's more?"

"Mmmm. To both of us. I know why you're here, Zil."

"I... I see."

"How do you like working for a Hutt, Zil?"

"A girl's gotta work for somebody."

"Indeed. But you don't have to work for just anybody, do you?"

"In this instance, I kind of do."

"But if you had to choose? If you could choose?"

"My last choice didn't exactly end up so well. Sort of propelled me into this one."

"You don't seem the type to let other people have much hold over you."

"This is a temporary arrangement, as far as I'm concerned. Once we square our accounts with the Hutt, I'll see if he's got anything good on offer, and if not then move on."

"So you'd join his organisation?"

"If I can prove my value to him, it could be a lucrative arrangement. And it's not like I have any other prospects."

"Are you certain?"

"Where is this leading?"

"How do you feel about the Empire, Zil?"

"The same way most hardened criminals do."

Lt. Haldee's laugh rings out, and Zil is determined not to let it get to her. But she can't help but want to hear it again. Maybe she should play the fool, keep her laughing... if only she trusted herself not to fall into the trap herself. But when the laughter fades, a more serious cast comes over the woman's face. She replaces her goblet by the side of her plate, then puts both hands on the table, leaning forward to address Zil again.

"I'm not going to report you for disloyalty, you know. Don't be so evasive. I just want to know, personally."

"All right, then," replies Zil, swallowing hard. "I don't want to work for the Empire."

"I'm not recruiting for them. I just want to know, why a Hutt but not the Empire?"

"It's more honest, I guess. No one can accuse a crime lord of ulterior motives."

"No, I suppose not. What if I were to say that I know a third party who could use your services?"

"When I'm done here?"

"Not exactly. Extracting Dr. Ehks and handing him over to agents of this third party. Instead of to the Hutt."

"You're kidding, right? Only an idiot betrays a Hutt like that. Those tiny little arms have a long reach."

"And the Empire doesn't?"

"The Empire doesn't know our real names. We can disappear from their scopes when this is over. Morga, on the other hand--"

"Zil Lhahon, Wex Enstipo, Jather Plazeed... need I go on?"

Lt. Haldee straightens in her seat, and takes another sip of wine. The smile on her face says 'you may have gotten me to tip my hand, Zil Lhahon, but I caught you peeking down my décolleté'.

"So what is this choice you were hinting at?"

"I have no interest in exposing your mission to the Empire, even if you choose not to work for the 3rd party."

"I don't understand."

"Zil, how do you sleep at night?"

"Better, now that I'm only sharing a room with Oosuu. She just pouts quietly, and doesn't whimper like Meeg used to or thrash about moaning in her sleep like Lina."

"So defensive. That's not what I was asking."

"I don't know any better answer than that."

"Maybe you don't. Think about it, though. We can have dinner again, and you can give me your answer. Just don't move on Dr. Ehks until we've had a chance to speak again."

"How do you know so much? Just who are you?"

[Q: Does she tell anything? Unlikely (5+): O6 C5 - Yes; 50% for either answer]

Lt. Haldee pours some more wine, and swirls it round in her cup as she considers how to answer, how much to reveal. She brings the goblet halfway to her lips then stops short, having decided.

"Alright: I'm ISB, Zil."

Now it's Zil's turn to laugh. "You're joking," she says. "You're not joking?"

"Not at all. I've been watching Trefftun for some time now, and I can trace his affiliations all the way back to Morga himself."

"But... wait, if you're ISB, why haven't you moved against him already. Or against us?"

"I told you, there is an interested third party."

"So you're crooked?"

"If you like. Not everything revolves around money and power, Zil."

"Now I really don't understand."

"Have a think, Zil. We'll talk again. For now, let's just enjoy the rest of this dinner. Are you not going to eat the zlonks?"

Next post: Oosuu meets the mysterious Dr. Ehks!

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Star Wars RPG solo - Part 20: Spire Base

The twenty chosen workers are transported halfway to their destination in fast speeders, whose windows have been covered so the passengers can't see out.

The speeders put down in a snow field, where a 10-wheeled Juggernaut awaits to take the workers the rest of the way, since repulsorlift vehicles are prone to being blown over by gales which plague the area. Even the aptly-named Juggernaut does not venture here casually -- the observation tower has been removed lest the winds rip it off. The immense vehicle is heavy enough to stay on ground, and ride over rough, broken terrain in a more-or-less straight line. Still, it's a bumpy ride.

After five hours, the Juggernaut rolls briefly to a halt. After an expectant minute, it once again rolls forward, but very slowly. All the jostling suddenly ceases as the behemoth rolls over a force bridge. It then comes to another stop, and the order comes to disembark. They've arrived.

Scene 11

Out of Control (d8)

Setup: transport to new site & settling in

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

mission, deal with Inzoyln

[NB: Barabel Shockboxer is a character template I probably never would have chosen to play on my own, but I really liked what happened with Baprasta. Her personality congealed really fast, too, so I had her graduate to full PC status at this point.]

As the hatch opens, Zil feels a wave of biting cold assail her. She remembers not to breathe deeply at first, as they had been instructed, and watches with amusement as those who did not heed the warning fall to their knees with the shock. Luckily, Baprasta is there to catch Jather. Zil clambers out of the vehicle into eddying whirls of snow. The grey dusk is illumined by yellow spotlights overhead, which grant Zil her first glimpse of the base, a series of bunker-like low buildings on a island in the midst of a swiftly flowing ice river. Zil then notices several of the other workers stop in their tracks and stare in rapt fascination. She follows their gaze up and is herself momentarily stunned. The base is situated at the foot of an immense spire of solid crystal, which rises one kilometre straight into the sky. Zil can just make out a metal structure clinging precariously to the top of the spire.

Zil watches a sliver of light appear in the main barracks' durasteel wall, and turn into the outer door. A lone figure emerges and yells to be heard above the gusting wind, "Welcome to Spire Base!" The figure waves the workers on inside. Zil notes that the outer door is nothing so much as an airlock -- needed to keep the heat inside in such a frigid place.

The inside of the base is much more spartan than the last but also much emptier; the new arrivals bring the total number of miners up to a mere [20+(2d6x4)=] 56. As the workers were selected specially, they are given relatively more freedom. They are housed only two to a room, and even allowed to chose their bunkmates without restrictions. Zil grabs Oosuu without a second thought. Wex and Jather are already squabbling over which of them gets the top bunk. Lina had been fervently hoping that Wex would want to room with her; she does her best to hide her disappointment and smile when Baprasta asks if she'll be her roomie.

Despite the relative freedoms enjoyed by the workers, the overseer impresses upon them that this is a high-security facility. Indeed, stormtroopers patrol the inside [12 in the worker's base, 24 atop the spire], and two full snowtrooper platoons [25 each] are stationed here. One is inside and one out on manoeuvres at any given time.

The workers' routine is much the same as before, save that special crystals are being recovered and passed to a science team in the laboratory atop the Spire for their research. Not all the crystals are equal, so after sorting the rejects -- which form the bulk of the take -- are loaded on droid-driven ice barges and floated down river to nearest processing station. The crystals that pass the inspection are sent up the spire to the lab via pneumatic tubes. Each worker spends every third day on sorting/loading duty. Oosuu and the other techs are assigned only when things need fixing.

[I wasn't sure where to start the action in the first scene, so I made a quick table:

1. opportunity for revenge
2. Inzoyln pulls a stunt
3. environmental hazard
4. rebel contact
5. mission contact
6. random event

I also made a weather table, but didn't use it very much.

1. clear
2. cloudy
3. overcast
4. light snow
5. heavy snow
6. blizzard

For the first scene, I rolled d6=1: opportunity for revenge. Which necessitated a third table:

1. crevasse
2. ice flow
3. machinery
4. avalanche
5. storm
6. angry 3rd party

Opportunity: 1d6=2

d6+1=3 workers sent to barges to oversee lading
I, + 2 random PCs: O, W

This probably should have begun a separate scene, but the actual arrival required no dice rolling...]

The first fortnight passes without incident, as the new workers get adjusted and the old guard complain about having to explain everything over and over. Oosuu had tried unsuccessfully to persuade Zil that they should let the Inzoyln matter drop, but Zil insists that she is a loose end since she knows they're here on a job for Morga, so cannot be allowed to snitch on them. Zil has both Jather and Lina explain it to the Twi'lek, who agrees to follow whatever plan the rest of them devise, and with a minimum of pouting.

An opportunity is not long in coming. One frigid day, when [1d6=4] the snow is falling lightly but steadily, Oosuu, Wex, and Inzoyln find themselves on sorting/loading duty. The actual sorting is done in a dirty duracrete & plasteel outbuilding, which is heated to a balmy 5 degrees Centigrade by the presence of the myriad spectrometers, laser-probes, fixed densitometer arrays &c &c that are required for sorting. But someone must be outside (in the -20 degree open air) to supervise the loading of the barges themselves; this task has unsurprisingly been given to the new arrivals.

All the rejected crystals travel from the sorting area on a clanking conveyor belt, from which they drop down into an open-topped barge. The 'supervisors' are each given a sturdy metal rake with which to smooth out the pile of crystals and make sure none go over the side. They must also tell the droid barge pilot when to advance when one barge is full, so the next in the train can be filled. The barge droids are too stupid to do anything except pilot down the ice river and back.

Wex, Oosuu, and Inzoyln trudge out beside the conveyor belt and carefully descend the 6m stone steps down to the short, icy dock. The train of barges bobs dangerously in the rapid, freezing current. One by one the workers clamber up onto the side of the barge and jump down inside. The crystals inside are deep enough that Oosuu's waist is at the level of the barge's rim.

Hour by hour the crystal floor rises. Inzoyln keeps her distance, little realising that Wex and Oosuu have concocted a deadly plan. When the barge is nearly full, Wex gives Oosuu the signal. She keeps lookout to make sure no one is watching -- mostly just the droid pilot -- as Wex moves towards Inzoyln, poised for the kill.

[Oosuu: Moderate (15) Perception roll to ascertain if the coast is clear: 4D+2=18, success.
Q: Coast clear? Likely (3+): O3 C2 - Yes, and... droid pilot out of sight
Wex needs a Moderate (12) Movement roll (Dexterity) to get close, 2D+2=11, fail. Inzoyln needs same to increase distance: 1D+1= 9 (wild +2), fail]

Inzoyln sees him coming, and tries to back up. Neither of them is able to make much progress on the unstable and shifting pile of loose crystals. He finally scrambles over to her and gets in close, dropping his rake and grabbing hold of Inzoyln's as she tries ineffectually to fight him off. He shoves her back with all his might. She plunges over the side of the barge and is swept away in the rapidly flowing ice.

[Wex's Brawl 3D+1 vs. Inzoyln's Melee Parry 1d+1+10(armed vs. unarmed): 16 vs. 15; damage 2D+1=12 vs. 1D+2=4, Incapacitated]

Oosuu clambers over to Wex [no move roll for slow movement] and gets the safety line from the side of the barge. Wex attaches the end to his belt, winks at Oosuu, then jumps into the river to 'save' Inzoyln.

[He needs a Moderate (15) Stamina roll not to pass out from the shock of cold: 2D+1=10, fail.
Oosuu needs an Easy (10) Strength roll to pull him back in: 2D+2=16(wild 6+4)]

Wex blacks out the moment he hits the frigid water. He's barely in the river for half a second before Oosuu frantically begins pulling him back out. She deposits her unconscious friend on the pile of crystals and sprints along the rim of the barge to pull the emergency conveyor stop and sound the alarm.

Oosuu is in tears when the other workers come running to see what is the matter. Wex is turning blue -- bluer than she is! -- and won't wake up. Oosuu babbles incoherently at the others about an accident as they all help carry Wex back into the base. The shift supervisor has called ahead for a medical droid, and Wex is whisked away to the infirmary.

[Wex takes 4D cold damage before getting inside: 2D+1=7 vs. 4D=17, Incapacitated.]

He spends the next [4D=] 15 hours recovering in the bacta tank. Oosuu spends what seems nearly that long being quizzed by the overseer, executive, Imperial commander, and Imperial liaison about the incident. She tells them over and over, unwaveringly, that Inzoyln was standing on the barge rim when she lost her balance and fell in. Wex tried to save her but was nearly carried off by the current himself. Luckily she managed to throw him the safety line, which he was able to clip onto his belt before passing out.

[Her Con roll 4D+2=18 vs. the Overseer's 3D=16 and the Commander's 4D=14, success.
Q: Any real fallout? 50/50 (4+): O1 C8 - No.]

Oosuu's very real terror at Wex's brush with death softens even the Imperial commander's heart. They believe her story, and write up their various reports accordingly.

Oosuu is relieved when the medical droid interrupts the meeting to report that the patient will live, and is expected to make a full recovery. She is less relieved to find out that all workers will be attending a mandatory half-day workshop on the importance of safety procedures. But such are the wages of sin, she reflects.

Next post: secret factions are revealed!

Monday, 18 December 2017

Star Wars RPG solo - Part 19: Secret Meetings

The stormtroopers lead Zil through the base to the office of a civilian analyst who arrived with the new overseer. Special Executive Trefftun is a Human, and despite his worn and tired-looking features cannot be much older than Zil. His desk is covered with datapads and half-drunk cups of caf. He motions for her to take a seat as the stormtroopers leave.

Scene 10

Out of Control (d8)

Setup: d8=4, Interrupt (was: Investigation)
Interrupt: Move toward a thread - survive wait - Expose / Goals

NPC list: contact, target, ISB agent, informant, Imperial commander, rebel agent, love interest, Inzoyln the Bith blackmailer, overseer, executive, Baprasta the barabel shockboxer

Threads: survive the wait, deal with Inzoyln

[NB. the stormtroopers at end of the last post were actually from this scene, but made a better cliff-hanger than a beginning.]

"Sorry for the overdramatic means of getting you here," he says, "but this is ostensibly an interview to ascertain your suitability for special duty, in light of your somewhat tarnished reputation. In truth, you will necessarily be deemed suitable, so we can get you in place for the task which you have been sent here to perform. I am, of course, in the employ of Morga the Hutt -- don't worry, I sweep this office for bugs daily, so we may speak plainly. Also, before we get down to business, Mr. Kuththuk asked me to convey his well-wishes, and enquired especially after the health of your 'charming Twi'lek companion'."

"Tell Mr. Kuththuk that Oosuu is doing fine," says Zil. "And keeping out of trouble."

"He'll be glad to hear it. I'm sorry this took so long, but you wouldn't believe the bureaucracy on this planet. Getting all of you in place was trivial, getting me in position took considerably more of the Hutt's resources than we had initially anticipated. You've no doubt heard the rumours that certain trustworthy and valuable workers were going to be tapped for a special project."

[Easy (10) Streetwise: 4D+2=18, success]

"I'd have been embarrassed to hear it here first."

"Quite right. The five of you, of course, are under consideration, and the ultimate decision is in my hands as the special analyst. So tell me, Zil, are all your people still up to it? Oosuu's made quite the impression getting assigned as a tech. But the other three... Jather's record is undistinguished -- I've met him, so that's probably a plus. Riilina applied for technical but didn't pass the test. And then there's Wex: barely adequate performance."

"He was hurt, but didn't want to go to medical in case he didn't come back in time. Or was reassigned. We all need to go on, together."

"Fine. I'll make the assignments."

"And I want one more," adds Zil.

"Of course. I was just getting to that. Whoever you like, within reason. Just so long as you're not putting together an army."

"Just one is all I need: Baprasta."

"The Barabel? She was already flagged for consideration by the overseer. Excellent employee file: a few disciplinary notes for fighting, but that's to be expected. No one else?"

"That rather depends..."


"On the nature of the special project. And the mission, of course. But if there's a chance to, ah, lose one of the recruits in an accident..."

[Q: How many are being selected? 1d6x10=20
Q: All from here? 50/50 (4+): O4 C5 - Yes
Q: Is the special duty especially hazardous? Unlikely (5+): O5 C7 - Yes]

"Well, it is more dangerous than typical surface mining. It's in an even more remote part of the planet, and the terrain is a bit unforgiving: broken rock, high spires, and ice rivers."

"Sounds perfect. in that case, I want Inzoyln. But none of her new friends that just arrived."

"Just as long as you realise your mission comes first."

"I do. Or I would, if I knew what it was."

"All in good time."

Their meeting concluded, Zil is released to walk back to her bunkroom by herself. It's after evening curfew, so the lengthy base corridors are empty, and her feet seem to echo in the stillness.

[Q: Does she make it back to her room ok? 50/50 (4+): O6 C6 - Yes.
+Event: NPC action (rebel agent) - Trust / Leadership

The rebel agent is a... (random template from Heroes & Rogues=) Imperial Intelligence Agent (p.51)
So, a double-agent in the ISB -- updating the NPC list accordingly
Personality: Alluring, Persuasive
1d6: 1-3 Already here, 4-6 Just arrived; 5

NPC Relationship: peaceful
Conversation Mood: neutral
knowing - effects - last action]

Then Zil hears someone behind her, their even footfalls just out of step with her own. Zil glances over her shoulder to see Lt. Haldee, one of the newly-arrived Imperials, walking towards her. She moves with a willowy, almost ethereal grace, looking more like a holovid actress than an officer of the Imperial Army. Zil has never seen her up close before, and is surprised to discover that she must be in her late forties, though the laugh lines in her face seem to be her only real concession to aging.

Lt. Haldee matches pace with Zil, and addresses her in a soft, low voice.

"Did he really send a whole unit of stormtroopers just to invite you in for a routine meeting?"

"I guess he thought I wouldn't come quietly," says Zil.

The Lieutenant's mellifluous laughter causes her nose to scrunch up in a fashion which even Zil finds adorable.

She takes a moment to compose herself, then continues. "You don't strike me like a woman who reacts well to being pushed around, Zil."

"I'm not. But I'm not stupid either."

"No, of course you aren't. I've noticed the gang you've put together. And how most people round here defer to your lot. And what happens to the ones who don't."

"We don't make the trouble. We just look out for one another."

"And that's why your people respect your leadership. You're not on some power trip, just trying to keep them all safe."

"Ssssshhhh. You'll ruin my reputation as a megalomaniac."

That laughter again. That smile. How can such alluring charm belong to a career Imperial? She must try not to appear flustered. But that voice is hypnotic...

"I hear you're under consideration for the special duty," continues Lieutenant Haldee.

"The analyst wanted to have a word about my suitability, in light of my 'tarnished reputation' as he put it. But he seems to have decided that I don't pose a threat, so..."

"Good. I'm glad to hear it. I'll be going on to the project site with the selected workers, and I'll be keeping my eye on you, Zil. Keep up the good work, and I just might have a proposition for you." [UNE: scheming - proposition - the character]

Lina and Oosuu's joy at seeing Zil return to their room is matched only by their relief. Zil is a bit cagey at first, but finally tells them the analyst just wanted to make sure she was suitable for the upcoming special duty assignments. She can't say any more about that meeting in front of Meeg, and she's still too shaken by the other encounter to mention that one at all.

Next post: Our heroes are sent to a secret installation!

Friday, 15 December 2017

Star Wars RPG solo - Part 18: A Gathering of Forces

Baprasta retreats back to her bunk to think things over, whilst the others find Wex and Jather. Zil gets them summarily up to speed, then takes Jather with her to go confront Inzoyln. Jather's the most conniving swindler she knows, and she trusts him to smell another con a light year away.

Scene 7

Out of Control (d8)

Setup: interview with Inzoyln

NPC list: contact, target, ISB agent, informant, Imperial commander, rebel agent, love interest, Inzoyln the Bith blackmailer, overseer, executive, Baprasta the barabel shockboxer, Yarishe the Chiss tech (Oosuu's "rival")

Threads: survive the wait, deal with Inzoyln, Yarishe's gambit

[Q: Is Inzoyln alone? Doubtful (6): O2 C4 - No, but... only one friend]

They find Inzoyln playing cards in her room with one of the new arrivals, a Gran who constantly chews on a plastic toothpick like a hood in an old holo-serial.

"Can we talk in front of your friend?" asks Zil.

[Q: Can they? Likely (3+): O3 C2 - yes, and... in on it]

"Of course we can," says Inzoyln. "Why wouldn't we?"

"So [d6=] he's, like, your underling?"

"Of course. Sent by... my esteemed employer."

"He does know who that is, doesn't he? Only you seem a bit cagey."

"Morga wouldn't like it if his name was overheard," says the Gran.

"I gotta ask then," says Zil, "how come... His Eminence wants Baprasta taken out?"

"Why do you care?" snaps Inzoyln. "You know, second guessing a Hutt is a sure way to end up next on their list. You're not the only group of thugs that showed up on this planet." [hostile - destruction - power]

"So what do you have against Baprasta?"

"What? Nothing. These are just my orders."

[Con: Inzoyln's 4D+1=15 vs. Jather's 5D=29]

"You're full of it," says Jather.

"Watch your step, kark," growls the Gran.

"You dare question the word of a Hutt?" says Inzoyln.

"No," says Zil. "Just yours. I heard you were peeved at Baprasta for being smart enough to want nothing to do with you."

"So what?"

"So I'm giving you a chance to come clean and back down off this charade. If not, maybe we should ask our real contact to confirm your employment status, seeing as we've just met 'em."

[Zil's con vs. Inzoyln's: 3D=12 vs. 4D+1=16]

"You're bluffing," says Inzoyln. "None of the new intake will go anywhere near you. I've had you watched."

[Q: Has she though? 50/50 (4+): O4 C5 - Yes]

"Come on, Zil," says Jather. "This is going nowhere. This is just a poodoo slinging match, and the smell is really getting to me."

"You're right, let's get back to the others. I feel the need to be surrounded by a higher class of scum right now. Just remember Inzoyln: Baprasta's under my protection now. She so much as loses a scale and you'll have me to answer to for it."

[Zil's Intimidation 5D=15 vs. Inzoyln's Willpower 3D+1=20(wild 6) -- it's not over yet]

 - - - - - -

"So Jather, you're sure she was lying."

"I'm a coward Zil. I'd have stopped you if I thought you were really talking shit to one of Morga's lieutenants."

"So how'd she know about it, then?"

"Must have overheard one of us talking."

"I gave strict instructions to keep quiet."

"Don't get mad... I think one of our bunkmates may have overheard me and Wex."

"I'm well past getting mad, Jather! But we need to have a meeting, all of us in private."

"That'd be hard...unless..."


"If Baprasta does want to throw in with us, then we could sign up for one of the gymnasiums: three-a-side torfa-ball."

Scene 8

Out of Control (d8)

Setup: d8=3, Interrupt (was: three-a-side torfa-ball)
Interrupt: PC negative - Oosuu - Vengeance / Dispute

NPC list: contact, target, ISB agent, informant, Imperial commander, rebel agent, love interest, Inzoyln the Bith blackmailer, overseer, executive, Baprasta the barabel shockboxer, Yarishe the Chiss tech (Oosuu's "rival")

Threads: survive the wait, deal with Inzoyln, Yarishe's gambit

angry Chiss technician
Dexterity 3D
 dodge 4D
Knowledge 4D
 streetwise 5D
Mechanical 2D
Perception 2D

 search 3D
 sneak 3D
Strength 3D
Tech 4D

 blaster repair 5D
 droid repair 5D
 repulsorlift repair 5D
5 character points, 250 credits

Oosuu has slept well for a change. Better, in fact, than she has since they came to Mygeeto. She's happy that the murder plot was called off, and she got a nice new friend to boot. And even Zil seems less terrifying, at least for the moment. Today's shift in the maintenance area has gone well too. Even Yarishe has been, if not pleasant, at least civil. She's not even perturbed at the end of the shift, when she finds there's still an order token in the pocket of her coveralls. She doesn't mind that it will make her late for dinner -- nothing's going to spoil her mood today!

[Yarishe's Sneak 3D=9 had beaten Oosuu's Perception 4D+2=7 (wild 1); she slipped the token into her pocket.]

Oosuu goes to the maintenance racks to see what the errant token will bring her, and finds a beaten-up cutting laser lying on its side with most of its outer panels stacked in a heap beside it, exposing a mass of wires and circuitry. "Oh, well," she thinks, as she goes to pluck it off the shelf...

[Yarishe has rigged it to explode when moved. Blaster Repair 5D=25; it will do 5D damage. But Oosuu gets a Difficult (18) Search roll to notice the trap: 4D+2=31 (wild 6,6,5). Easy (10) Tech roll to disarm: 3D=14. (all extrapolated from Cracken's Rebel Field Guide)]

...and her hand suddenly freezes. She can see the ignition button housing lying beneath the cutter, with wires leading suspiciously back to the fusion power assembly directly, rather than the beam intensity chamber as they should do. She peers into the cutter's innards, and is none-too-surprised to find that the overload regulator has been bypassed. "Nice try, Yarishe," she mutters, "but not blow up Twi'lek so easily." Oosuu fishes a pair of wire cutters out of her coveralls and snips the wires. When she lifts the tool off the housing, the ignition button pops up with a frustrated little click.

Oosuu dumps most of the laser cutter onto the scrap heap, but she fashions the button housing and tripwire into a necklace before heading straight to the cafeteria. She flounces up behind Yarishe and taps the unsuspecting Chiss on the shoulder.

"Oosuu thank Yarishe, present very pretty. Oosuu wear always!"

[The deliberate provocation calls for opposed Persuasion and Willpower rolls: O 4D+2=24 vs. Y 4D=10 (Wild 1 = complication).
She attacks (1d6): 1-2 unarmed, 3-4 grab chair, 5 tray of food, 6 hidden knife]

Yarishe wheels round to stare down at the Twi'lek. Her hands ball into fists, her red eyes narrow, and her jaw clenches so hard for a moment, that she cannot give voice to her rage. Then in a moment she springs, and in a blue blur snatches up the nearest chair and swings it at Oosuu's head. Oosuu ducks without thinking. The chair swishes over her head, and Yarishe loses her grip. The chair clatters away across the floor between other astonished workers.

[Oosuu won the Initiative, and made a full Brawling Parry, adding 3D=8 to the attack's Difficulty number (8): 8+8=16.
Yarishe grabbed the chair and attacked, so -1D for two actions, but +10 for attacking an unarmed opponent: 3D-1D+10= 13 (wild = 1; complication = loses grip)
Q: Does it hit a bystander? Likely (3+): O1 C6 - No.
Oosuu's friends can reach her in 1d6-2=0 rounds]

Baprasta runs up behind Yarishe and grabs her, pinning the Chiss' arms to her sides and lifting her feet right off the ground. "No fighting," growls Baprasta. "Didn't you read the regulations when you signed on?" Yarishe struggles against the Barabel's crystaliron grip, but soon realises she's outmatched.

[B's Brawl 6D-10(grapple)=13 vs. Y's Brawling Parry 3D+3=10; STR 5D=15 vs. 3D=12, pinned.

Q: Is Yarishe cowed? Likely (3+): O5 C8 - Yes.
Q: Does she get in trouble? Likely (3+): O5 C7 - Yes.
Q: Does Oosuu and/or Baprasta get in trouble? Unlikely (5+): O6 C3 - Yes, but... other PC has a chance to defuse it.]

One of the serving droids sounded the silent alarm when the fight started, and already a unit of stormtroopers are rushing into the cafeteria. Most of the workers are scurrying aside, but some stand frozen, or with their hands raised. The stormtroopers ignore them and head right for the obvious epicentre.

Jather abruptly interposes himself between Baprasta and the stormtroopers. "This brave Barabel ran to stop the crazy Chiss from hurting anyone," he says. "I don't know what even happened. One minute she was eating, the next she just flipped out for no reason."

[Moderate (15) Persuasion: 5D+2=12 (wild die =1!)]

"Aliens," sighs one of the stormtroopers. Then Yarishe, Oosuu, Baprasta, and Jather are all escorted to the brig.

[They all need to make Persuasion rolls to be exonerated:

Jather- Easy (7): 5D+2=11 "Next time just mind your own business."
Oosuu- Easy (10): 4D+2=23 (wild 6,6,4) "Just please be more careful."
Baprasta- Moderate (12): 3D+1=15 "Very noble of you, but you should've let security handle it."
Yarishe- Difficult (20): 2D=5... sent down (close thread, remove from NPC list)]

Scene 9

Out of Control (d8)

Setup: three-a-side torfa-ball

NPC list: contact, target, ISB agent, informant, Imperial commander, rebel agent, love interest, Inzoyln the Bith blackmailer, overseer, executive, Baprasta the barabel shockboxer

Threads: survive the wait, deal with Inzoyln

There seems to be no fallout from the incident with Yarishe, save that the Chiss herself is shipped off to one of the waste-processing facilities.

Jather signs up for one of the gymnasia, and a few days later his friends assemble to have a private discussion. Zil and Wex explain everything that has happened so far to Baprasta, who insists she still wants in and isn't going to change her mind.

[Q: Has B ever been involved with Morga? 50/50 (4+): O3 C6 - No]

Baprasta in turn tells them her story, how she left the shockboxing circuit almost 12 years ago after a bad spice addiction ended her career and later nearly killed her. She has been clean for almost three years, and wandering the Rim. She came here to get back in shape and avoid temptation. As far as she's aware, she's never been involved in any capacity with Morga the Hutt.

Their immediate collective problem is Inzoyln. Zil says they can either take her out in and "accident" or figure out what she's up to and make sure she gets caught -- without any of them having to snitch. The latter option is preferred, even by Zil, but she convinces them that expediency will necessarily be the deciding factor. And they still need to find out what Morga wants them to do.

In the midst of all this, they do manage to play some torfa-ball. Zil and Wex are overly-competitive and nearly spoil it, Jather and Oosuu are comically inept, and Baprasta and Lina are just happy for the workout.

Afterwards, when they open the gym doors to leave, they find a unit of stormtroopers standing on the other side.

"Zil Darklighter, you need to come with us."

Next post: Zil faces the Empire -- alone!

Monday, 11 December 2017

Star Wars RPG solo - Part 17: The Shockboxer

Lina is sitting alone in the holovid viewing room, when a low, gravelly voice comes from right behind her.

"Hey. How's the leg?"

Lina turns round to see a great reptilian maw overflowing with sharp teeth that glitter in the reflected light of the vidscreen, and jumps in spite of herself.

"Oh! Sorry. Hi Baprasta. I never got a chance to thank you properly. It's fine. The leg's fine."

"Sorry, I know you're watching this," says the Barabel, trying to pull back and look less threatening, "but I really need to ask you something."

"No worries. Jather already ruined the ending for me. Ask away."

Scene 5

Out of Control (d8)

Setup: Baprasta makes her approach

NPC list: contact, target, ISB agent, informant, Imperial commander, rebel agent, love interest, Inzoyln the Bith blackmailer, overseer, executive, Baprasta the barabel shockboxer (false target), Yarishe the Chiss tech (Oosuu's "rival")

Threads: survive the wait, false assassination, Yarishe's gambit

Baprasta approaches (1d10): 1-3 O, 4-6 L, 7-8 J, 9 W, 10 Z; 6=L

Conversation Mood: forthcoming
friendly - aid - family (right out with it then)

Q: Will B mention why I is after her? 50/50 (4+): O6 C7 - Yes
Q: Why? Refuse / Investment]

"So... here's the thing: Inzoyln tried to recruit me for her gang a while back, but I told her to get stuffed. She said I'd regret it, but I just blew her off at the time. And today all these new workers show up, and she's got some friends amongst them, some real heavies. Now I'm kind of worried..."

[Q: Does Lina become suspicious? needs a Moderate (15) Streetwise roll to spot the discrepancies: 2D+2=11+5wild=success!]

"Wait wait wait," says Lina, "Inzoyln told us Morga the Hutt wanted you killed."

[Q: Sounds weird to Baprasta? Likely (3+): O3 C4 - Yes, but...]

"I quit the shockboxing circuit a long time ago," says Baprasta. " I wasn't any good any more, and I don't think I had any enemies. But you never can tell with Hutts."

"I think we better talk to Zil."

[Q: Does Baprasta agree? Likely (3+): O4 C4 - Yes, but...
+Event: PC negative - Zil - Fight / Weapons]

"Well, I was hoping for an in with her, but in light of what you just said... could we maybe talk somewhere safe?"

"Of course," says Lina. "I understand." And thinks to herself, "I'm a bit afraid of Zil, too."

 - - - - - -


Zil and Oosuu are alone in the women's communal shower room. Zil has been alternating between dragging a wet comb through her hair, applying the hairdryer, then staring into the mirror and scowling. Oosuu has been sitting beside her on the counter, idly swinging her legs whilst she stares at Zil in rapt fascination, trying vainly to understand how this 'hair' stuff works.

Her reverie comes to an abrupt end as a pair of ruffians swagger into the shower room. The Human woman has a scarred face and is missing her front teeth. The hulking Brubb woman beside her has vacant eyes and a malicious sneer.

Oosuu hops down off the counter, and Zil turns to face the newcomers. "What d'you two karks want?" she says. Their only reply is to draw short, curving knives.

"Really?" says Zil. "You two must be even stupider than you look."

The Human makes straight for Zil with her knife, but just slashes at the empty air in front of her. As the Brubb advances, Oosuu puts up her fists very earnestly. This strikes the Brubb as uncommonly funny, and she cannot help but laugh as she looks down at the Twi'lek. Her laughter is cut short as Oosuu punches her right in the stomach -- then starts right back up as Oosuu pulls back her fist in pain, looking down at her bruised knuckles and swearing in some unknown language. The human makes the mistake of looking over to see what's so funny, and Zil smashes the hairdryer down atop her head. The cheap plastic housing shatters, and the woman falls to the duracrete floor, blood streaming from her scalp. Oosuu shoves the Brubb with both hands, causing her to take several steps back to maintain her balance. The human crawls back and out of the way, then regains her feet and sprints out into the corridor. The Brubb wavers, then turns tail and runs after her.

"That right, run cowards!" shrieks Oosuu after them.

"You're stronger than you look," says Zil. "You'd be a real terror in a fight if you knew what you were doing. Maybe I should get Lina to teach you or something."

"Oosuu not advise it. If Zil not stop saying 'kark', Zil get beat up by angry Twi'lek."

[The thugs had average stats, adjusted for race. Oosuu did 1 Stun result to the Brubb, Zil inflicted a Wound on the Human, but otherwise the mechanics of the fight weren't worth recording.

Q: Any fallout? Unlikely (5+): O2 C2 - No, and...
+Event: NPC negative - overseer - Imprison / Military]

The next day at breakfast, there is a great commotion as two squads of stormtroopers march into the base. Zil has a flash of panic that they're there for her, but then notices the same instinctive fear on most of the workers' faces. There is a collective sigh of relief as an Imperial officer announces that they have come to arrest the overseer for mismanagement. A new overseer is being put in place, and work will be reduced to a half-shift to accommodate their inspection tour. All things considered, muses Zil, it's been a good day.

Scene 6

Chaos: Out of Control (d8)

Setup: Lina brings a friend home

NPC list: contact, target, ISB agent, informant, Imperial commander, rebel agent, love interest, Inzoyln the Bith blackmailer, overseer, executive, Baprasta the barabel shockboxer (false target), Yarishe the Chiss tech (Oosuu's "rival")

Threads: survive the wait, false assassination, Yarishe's gambit

As the evening meal period is winding down, Lina waves Baprasta over to Zil's table. "Zil, this is important," she says as the Barabel is walking closer.

"Oh?" says Zil.

"Yes, the other d--"

"Not here," says Zil. "Let's head towards the rec area. We can walk and talk."

Oosuu stares at Lina, trying desperately to catch her eye, but she seems to barely register the Twi'lek's presence, as her eyes dart from Zil to Baprasta to her own wringing hands. Zil is already striding out into the corridor with Lina and the Barabel in tow. She walks as briskly as she dares, hoping like hell that she can pass her nerves off as aloofness. Baprasta is trying her best to look both friendly and tough, like the time she got roped in to speaking to a class of younglings about staying in school and saying no to spice. Oosuu sighs and gets up to follow them, and tries to put on her best Sabaac face.

[O's Con 4D+2 vs. B's Perception 3D+1 = 17 vs. 10, B doesn't notice how nervous she is.
But does Zil? Perception 3D, +5 bonus since she knows her pretty well = 13, no.]

"Here'll do," says Zil as they reach the middle of a long, empty corridor. She stops and leans against the wall, crossing her arms across her chest. She looks up at the towering Barabel silhouetted against the sputtering ceiling light. "So?"

"Y-you need to listen to this," says Lina.

"I'm listening," says Zil.

"I want in," says Baprasta. "To join your gang. Or whatever."

"I see..."

"I helped you out when Lina got trapped."

"You did..."

"I'm good in a fight. Or... backing you up and looking scary. And stuff."

"Zil, maybe good idea," offers Oosuu. "Zil remember yesterday?"

"Why though?" asks Zil, ignoring her. "Why do you want to join my... little family?"

"Tell her what you told me," says Lina. "Zil, you need to listen."

"Inzoyln has it in for me because I wouldn't join her little gang. She's a vicious one, she is, and just likes to cause people hurt. I'm not saying you're not vicious, um, just that you're not a sadist like she is. So I was thinking, maybe a mutual protection thing--"

"Hold on!" says Zil. "You're saying Inzoyln has it in for you personally...?"

"I think we've been had," says Lina. "Baprasta can't think of a reason Morga would--"


"I already told her. And I'm not a murderer! I won't go through with it. I just won't!"

"Oosuu not either. Baprasta help Lina, Oosuu not kill for Hutts. Oosuu run first."

"I wish to hell one of you had told me what you were thinking before now."

"Not take wrong, Zil, but Zil scary lately. More scary than usual."

"I'm just trying to survive so I can look after all of you. We really need to talk about this whole thing. Baprasta, as far as I'm concerned, you're in -- if you want to be. We're in debt big to a Hutt, and we're waiting for our orders to find out what we gotta do to settle up. So if this changes your mind, just walk away and no hard feelings. Sleep on it if you need to."


"I don't need your answer now, really. Now, first thing we gotta do is figure out Inzoyln's angle, if she's really our contact or not. And if she is, how do we get Baprasta off the table?"

"Really?" asks Lina.

"I'm not the monster you two think I am. But we gotta tell Jather and Wex, and fast. We don't want this to be the one time Jather accidentally does what he's setting out to do the first time..."

[Q: Do they get the word to them in time? Certain (2+): O2 C1 - Yes, and... general relief
Q: Does Baprasta decide against joining them? Doubtful (6): O5 C7 - No.]

Barabel shockboxer
Dexterity 3D+2
 brawling parry 5D+2
 dodge 4D+2
Knowledge 2D
 streetwise 3D
 intimidation 3D
Mechanical 2D
Perception 3D+1
Strength 5D

 Brawling 6D
 Climbing/Jumping 6D
Tech 2D
5 character points, 1000 credits

Next post: open confrontations and secret machinations!

Friday, 8 December 2017

Star Wars RPG solo - Part 16: Conspiracies, Conspiracies

Meanwhile, outside...

The weather was mild today -- overcast without precipitation, winds rarely topping 25kph, and the temperature reached a balmy -2°C -- so the miners had been ferried out to the surface mines some distance from the compound.

Despite the easier conditions, Wex is barely hanging on. Jather is doing his best to keep him moving as Zil and Lina try to lighten his load. Even so, a lot of the other workers are getting fed up. Wex is sitting on the ground, pretending to adjust the settings on his heat-borer when he suddenly finds himself surrounded by [2d6=] half a dozen angry workers.

Scene 3

Out of Control (d8)

Setup: d8=3, Interrupt (was: scope out target)
Interrupt: PC negative - Wex - Abuse / Ambush

NPC list: contact, target, ISB agent, informant, Imperial commander, rebel agent, love interest, Inzoyln the Bith blackmailer, overseer, executive, Baprasta the barabel shockboxer (false target), Yarishe the Chiss tech (Oosuu's "rival")

Threads: survive the wait, false assassination, Yarishe's gambit

"Look who's taking another break," says a Gotal with a broken horn.

"Mind your arse don't freeze off," adds a mangy Shistavanen.

"Come off it guys," says Wex, "my borer's just really playing up today. Going to pass it over to technical when we get back."

"Like you had to do with your laser drill yesterday?" asks the Gotal. "And your densitometer the day before? No one's buying your 'run of bad luck' story, y'know?"

"Damn lazy human," adds the Shistavanen.

When Zil notices what's going on, she rushes to intercede. She grabs the Gotal by the shoulder and shakes him roughly. "Hey!" she shouts in his face. "Wex is a friend of mine. I suggest you start treating him with the respect he deserves, if you want to stay on my good side. Zlaphotix got on my bad side. You don't want to end up like him, do you?"

[Zil needs to make a Difficult (20) Intimidation roll; 5D=22, success]

A look of panic plays over the Gotal's face. "We, uh, we were just joking, Zil. Didn't mean anything by it. Honest."

"We always like joking round with humans," says the Shistavanen.

The angry miners disperse. Wex looks weakly up at Zil. "Thanks for that," he says.

"Don't mention it," she replies.

"Just one question, though. Didn't Zlaphotix die of a spice overdose?"

"Yeah, but I've never been one to let the truth get in the way of a good threat. And whilst we're on the subject of controlled substances, why don't you see if that friend of yours can get a medpac or something smuggled in. You're not looking so good."

[Q: Can medical supplies be brought in? 50/50 (4+): O1 C1 - No, and...
+Event: Move toward a thread (false assassination) - Carelessness / Bureaucracy]

Two days later, not much has changed. Wex's contact hasn't come through, he himself can still barely stand for ten minutes without tiring, Yarishe hasn't stopped harrying Oosuu, and Zil's been planning a hundred scenarios to do in the Barabel at "Morga's" behest. The only thing that has changed is the weather -- for the worse. Snow is coming down thick, and the wind is gusting high enough that repulsorlift travel is too hazardous, so the miners are working the crystal forest (so-called) near the barracks. The crystal spires are hard to cut through and of a generally low quality, but the alternative in such inclement weather would be to cancel the shift entirely -- and the Empire is not interested in excuses.

Zil looks round and notices a distinct lack of anyone in charge. On a hunch she goes back to the compound entrance for a peek. Sure enough, the overseer and the shift leaders are sitting the warmth of the staging room, playing cards.

[1d5=3 PCs present: OLZ]

Zil goes back to where she was working with Oosuu and Lina. "No one's chaperoning this dance today," she says. "I'm moving the timetable forward."

"Great," says Lina. "At least this'll be over with. What's your big plan?"

"These spires weigh an easy tonne each. I'm thinking someone's about to have an unfortunate accident. Lina, think you can rig it to fall in a certain spot?"

"I can do it."

"Oosuu, can you--"

"Oosuu know. Lure Barabel to spot. Oosuu look helpless, so Oosuu bait."

"I'm sorry, but there's no other--"

"Not discuss now, Zil."

Lina cuts into the colossal crystal spire's base, weakening it so a single nudge from Zil's laser drill should send it toppling. When it's nearly ready, Oosuu trudges off through the snow to find Baprasta and convince her to come help them shift the massive formation.

[Oosuu is sort of using her Persuasion skill and sort of using Con, enough so that I decided to apply the -1D penalty recommended in the rulebook for using the former skill to emulate the latter. Baprasta resists with her full value. O 3D+2=20 (Wild die 6,4) vs. 3D+1=10 (Wild 1! - she doesn't suspect a thing.)

Lina needs to make a Moderate (15) Tech roll to lay the trap. 3D=9 (wild=1!); she takes 5D damage. Str 3D+2=22 (the wild die was overactive in this scene) vs. 5D=16, she's only Stunned]

The disgust in the pit of her stomach is mingling with despair in the depths of her heart, but Oosuu manages to suppress both long enough to smile pleadingly up at the hulking Barabel.

"Hi Baprasta. Lina try fell big crystal, but crystal too big. Strong Barabel maybe help?"

Baprasta tries to smile without showing too many teeth -- a Barabel's toothy maw always looks so threatening to other aliens. "Of course, Oosuu. I'd be happy to help. Lead the way."

Oosuu turns quickly away before her expression goes completely sour, and chokes down a sob. She waves for Baprasta to follow and briskly retraces her steps.

But when they are halfway there, Oosuu hears Zil suddenly start screaming in panic. She breaks into a dead run, as fast as she can throughthe knee-deepsnow, and Baprasta follows hard on her heels. They arrive to see the spire has already broken and toppled over, trapping Lina beneath.

[Q: Does Baprasta help? Likely (3+): O5 C5 - Yes.
+Event: NPC action - overseer - Punish / The innocent]

Baprasta wastes no time, but wedges her plasteel prybar beneath the fallen crystal. She pushes down, straining with all her considerable might, raising the crystal just far enough that Zil can pull Lina's leg out from beneath.

The shock wears off in a few moments, and Lina starts laughing with relief. "I'm OK. My leg's fine. Lucky for me it was mostly snow under me where it fell!"

The commotion had caused many other workers to drop what they were doing and come running. One of the overseers even felt compelled to leave the warmth of the staging room to see what had happened. As there was no serious injury, the overseers do not bother with filing an incident report -- neither they nor their Imperial masters are particularly interested in matters of safety. But the general disruption meant that the shift failed to make quota, and punishments must be meted out to maintain order and efficiency. Over the few days, work periods are lengthened and privileges curtailed until the shortfall is made up.

Zil keeps Lina and Oosuu closer than normal, only letting one or the other out of her sight when she needs to pass a message to Jather and Wex. Zil also insists that they need to wait a few days to try anything else so that Baprasta doesn't get suspicious. She neglects to mention that she needs the time to come up with a better idea. And she certainly doesn't let on that she's been spending more time on trying to find a way out of it than she has on coming up with a new plan.

[At this point, things became very convoluted. To figure out where the adventure was heading next, I asked the Oracle a series of questions:

Q: Do things generally worsen? 50/50 (4+): O6 C3 - Yes, but... simmering discontent only, nothing flashy
Q: Does Baprasta want something in return for helping? Likely (3+): O3 C2 - Yes, and...
Q: What does she want? Ambush / Ambush : needs protection from Inzoyln, wants to join Zil's gang
Q: Does Yarishe try something? Unknown: 1d6=2, Certain: O5 C7 - Yes.
Q: Does Inzoyln put pressure on Zil? 50/50 (4+): O6 C7 - Yes
Q: Does a rival gang start summat? 50/50 (4+): O2 C8 - No
Q: Does real contact show up in the middle of all this? 50/50 (4+): O3 C4 - No, but... soon

Also, some of the PCs had actions they wanted to take. So to decide on the sequence of events, I wrote a list of all the PC & NPC actions, and rolled a d20 for each to determine the "Initiative" order to follow. The order became:


Zil is just stalling, so isn't on the list. Also, random events and interrupts interfered with the order, and in one case even went against what the Oracle had said above, but the exercise was just for getting things rolling rather than determining a scene structure.]

Scene 4

Out of Control (d8)

Setup: Jather tries to score

NPC list: contact, target, ISB agent, informant, Imperial commander, rebel agent, love interest, Inzoyln the Bith blackmailer, overseer, executive, Baprasta the barabel shockboxer (false target), Yarishe the Chiss tech (Oosuu's "rival")

Threads: survive the wait, false assassination, Yarishe's gambit

Jather knows Zil is pre-occupied and is content to let her sit and plot and conspire. He's more immediately worried about Wex, who is looking like he might collapse at any moment. When he hasn't been mothering poor Wex, he's spent most of his free time winning money off his fellow workers playing Sabaac. He'd been planning to... well, he's not really sure what he'd been planning. Company scrip only goes so far in the provision of creature comforts, and there aren't really many to be had here that would interest a jaded Devaronian.

Jather leaves Wex asleep and wanders off to the recreation area to find his marks-- er, card buddies. He lets it be known that he's willing to forgive all their debts, if they could just provide him with a type 46u9-c medicine kit (that's 'c' for cold, not 'h' for heat, he hastily adds). But no one seems to have one. "Why not try the infirmary?" they all ask.

[Jather needed a Difficult (17) Streetwise roll to get one; 4D+2=13, failure.

Without treatment, Wex might be getting worse, so I rolled his STR on the natural healing chart, but with no hope of improvement: 2D+1=11: no change.]

Jather can't let Wex anywhere near the infirmary. One look at him, and they'd ship him right off to hospital -- half a continent away -- and he'd probably never be reassigned here. But just maybe...

After the next day's mining shift, Jather foists Wex off on Lina, asking her to mind him for a few hours. He knows she'll be so happy to spend time with Wex that she won't even ask why, the poor deluded thing. He feels a twinge of guilt, but he'd rather not have to explain things to Oosuu, who would probably try to stop him from doing something stupid. She's far too observant.

Jather creeps back to the staging room, opens the external door, and stands in the cold for five minutes. He even rubs his hands in the snow a bit, but only a bit. Best not to actually damage himself, he thinks. Then he heads immediately to the infirmary, where the [1d6: 1-4 droid, 5-6 nurse] ancient and battered FX-7 medical droid is doing the daily inventory.

"Hey, doc," says Jather.

"Please state the nature of the medical emergency," drones the droid.

"With these long shifts lately it's like I just can't warm up any more. Feel my hands; they're like ice!"

"Have you tried working harder?"

"I've tried everything! Doc, ya gotta help me. I just need a little something to get through. If I had some anti-frostbite meds, it would really improve my peak efficiency. And then my whole shift would be more productive. Everyone would benefit! Just give me one of those 46u9-c jobbies; such a small expense for such a great return!"

[he needs a Very Difficult (22) Persuasion roll: 5D+2=25, score.]

Jather is positively beaming when he finds Lina and Wex in the holovid viewing room. "Lina," he says, "wake up Wex and help me get him somewhere with better lighting."

"What? Why? He's finally comfortable. Besides, I want to know how this one ends."

"The plucky kids get the attention of the Imperial governor with their amazing dance skills, and he's so impressed that he saves their orphanage and has the greedy land developer executed as a traitor to the Empire. Now let's get going."

"If Zil doesn't kill you someday, Jather, I just might have to."

Lina half-carries Wex back to his and Jather's room, to find that both their bunkmates are fortunately elsewhere. "So what's this about?" she asks.

"This medpac," says Jather, "which I finally managed to coax out of the medical droid. Who, by the way, I'm pretty sure was programmed by the accounting department."

Lina rips open the pack eagerly and sets immediately to work, injecting Wex with a series of brightly-coloured hypos [Medicine (Tech) 3D=12, success].

"This should start to undo the damage," says Lina, "but he'll probably still be a bit weak for a day or two. We should just let him sleep now. But since I'm here, I wanted to ask you something. Have you talked to Oosuu lately?"

[Q: Has he seen her since the attempt? 50/50 (4+): O2 C2 - No, and... might not get chance now
+Event: NPC positive (Inzoyln) - Arrive / Allies 1d6+1=3]

"No. Not really. Why?"

"This whole business with the Barabel is really getting to me. I think it's getting to her, too, but Zil's, like, always there so I can't ask her. Could you maybe tell her that I'm having second thoughts? And that I think we should try to talk Zil into re-negotiating with Inzoyln... Unless she's taking Zil's side. Then don't say anything. Please!"

Next post: threats and violence!

Monday, 4 December 2017

Star Wars RPG solo - Part 15: Sent to the Mines

The search was officially called off at 21:00 Imperial Standard Time (14.9.8 planetary time). The exhausted workers hurried back to the shelter as quickly as their weary extremities would carry them, and bent nearly double against the gale. The snow fell thicker by the minute, and the steadily blinking beacon atop the shelter was almost hidden by the sideways-blowing gusts of white.

The workers collapsed one by one on the long, dingy benches of the staging room. Some began to divest themselves of their thermal survival gear, others merely slumped in exhaustion.

"Close the damn door," shouted an irritated Quarren.

"Not until you've all checked in," said the overseer gruffly. "There's still one left."

"It's Arluumo," called a Human, trying to remove the gloves of a dazed Ho'din. "The cold's really got to him."

The overseer strode over and the obliging Human pressed her senseless friend's hand to the proffered datapad. The overseer glanced at the display, then keyed in his passcode.

"All right," he said, "everyone present and accounted for. Close the door!"

"But, sir," hazards a Trianni, "we aren't all accounted for. We didn't find Ornam."

"And with the blizzard coming on, it's unlikely we ever will. Now, all of you get some food and then some sleep. For participating in the search, you've earned a one-hour work reprieve in the morning, but since you didn't find the missing worker you'll be spending it on a mandatory Safety & Work Protocol refresher. The Empire does not wish any more accidents amongst its labour force, and I do not intend to fall short of this period's quota. Are we understood? Good. Dismissed!"

[As I've been getting excited/trepidatious about the impending release of the new Star Wars movie, I decided it was time to get back to my d6 Star Wars campaign (which began here, and continued here).


For the next adventure, the PCs have been sent to mine crystals in the frozen north of Mygeeto. Mr. Kuththuk provided them all with false identities, and arranged for them all to sign on for a long-term stint with a Mygeetan mining concern (technically a private company, but with de facto Imperial control). The PCs are waiting for Morga's agent on Mygeeto to make contact, and instruct them of the task they must perform.

As the adventure begins, our heroes have been in the mining base for some 8 weeks. To account for the time they've been here, each PC needs to make an Easy (10) Stamina roll to bear up under the hard labour and harsh environment (as usual, a Willpower roll at +5 difficulty is allowed if it fails). They also must make one other skill roll at Moderate (15) to account for their other activities.

Stamina 2D+2=11, success.
Intimidate 5D=19, success. Zil gains a reputation amongst the other workers; she likes to sit on a table in the cafeteria and hold court. She keeps Lina and/or Oosuu around at all times as her henchmen.

Stamina 2D+1=5, failure. The Wild Die was a 1, so he starts out as Wounded; Willpower 4D-1D(for the Wounded condition)=15, success. He's holding on, despite being ill from cold and overwork. Jather has to look after him.
Streetwise 5D+1-1D=15, success. He gains a contact who can provide controlled substances.

Stamina 3D=12, success.
Blaster Repair 4D=16. She gains a technical post, maintaining laser drills in the shop.

Stamina 2D=4, failure. Willpower 3D+2=16, success. Jather doesn't do well with physical exertion, but he has the resolve to push on. (NB the Stamina roll was a simple failure rather than a mishap, so he doesn't suffer any damage.)
Gambling 6D=24, someone owes him money

Stamina 3D+2=14, as an ex-soldier, Lina is unsurprisingly able to deal with hardship.
Technical 3D=14, just failed... she gets assigned to Maintenance instead of Technical.

The dormitories are gender-segregated. Two of the PCs thus need to make Moderate (15) Persuasion rolls to get the party bunked together. Oosuu 4D+2=22(+5wild)=27; she gets to room with Zil and Lina, + one harmless NPC. Jather rolls 5D+2=15 (but the Wild Die=1, a complication); he gets to room with Wex and two other NPCS, one of whom is a known snitch.

To determine what Morga wants the PCs to do I used Age of Fable's plot generator (link), mixing Cyberpunk with Space Opera.

I got: "The heroes must beset a technician in a fortress, but have to contend with exploration, and opposition from government officials trying to frame someone famous". The framing someone famous didn't really fit, but the rest congealed into the adventure that follows.

I pre-loaded the NPC List with archetypes, and fleshed them out as Events warranted. Some didn't come up due to the vagaries of dice-rolling, but it kept the adventure from seeming forced.

Enough set-up, on to the first (randomly determined) scene...]

Scene 1

Chaos: Average (d10)

Setup: NPC action (blackmailer) - Lie / A representative (=blackmailer pretends to be Morga's agent)

NPC list: contact, target, ISB agent, informant, Imperial commander, rebel agent, love interest, blackmailer, overseer, executive

Threads: survive the wait

The twenty or so searchers stow their cold survival gear, then shuffle off towards the cavernous mess hall. Most of the facility's other 200 labourers are in the recreation area or have returned to their bunks by now, but a few are enjoying the quiet of the nearly empty room. "Mother Jungle be praised," exclaims a hungry Ithorian as the mess droid hands her a tray of food portions, "they left us some green ones!"

Zil has been waiting in the cafeteria as well. She walks up unnoticed and taps a weary Lina on the shoulder as she is joining the serving queue. "Green or not," says Zil, "just put a few in your pockets and meet me back in our room."

Lina sighs. "What about Oosuu?"

"She already knows."

Zil heads back to their spartan quarters to find their fourth bunkmate, a quiet, skittish Selonian named Meeg. Meeg looks up with a start as Zil enters. "Out," says Zil. "I need to talk to my girls."

Meeg doesn't have to be told twice.

Oosuu and Lina trudge in a few minutes later and sit on the Lina's bunk (the bottom one, opposite Meeg's) and begin to mechanically eat their processed nutrient packs. Zil sits on her (top, of course) bunk and waits.

"Zil, why not join search?" asks Oosuu.

"Because I hated that kark, Ornam."

"What Oosuu say about not use Hutt slang? Also, very mean, Zil."

"I was kidding! Sort of. I mean, I did hate him, so it would've looked out of place if I'd volunteered. Plus, I had important business here. And I'm sorry about the Huttese thing. But everyone says 'kark'. It's practically become a Basic word."

"Oosuu not care. Loan word still Huttese."

"Can we not do this again?" sighs Lina. "I thought you had something to tell us."

"I do. Morga's agent has finally made contact."

"Really?" asks Lina. "I was beginning to think there was no job, that we were going to be stuck on Mygeeto for the whole two years of our contract."

"That not how Hutts are," says Oosuu. "Prefer watch suffering."

"Still, it took 'em long enough."

"For a soldier," says Zil, "you sure complain a lot about the conditions here."

"This isn't like being in a garrison -- more like a prison. Ten hour patrols I can handle, ten hours a day mining crystals--"

Lina stops short as the door opens, and one of the more infamous workers enters. Inzoyln is a Bith, far from her homeworld on the other side of the galaxy. She has a reputation for knowing everyone's business, and may be even more 'respected' here than Zil.

"I'll keep this brief," says Inzoyln. "You know Baprasta, the Barabel?"

"She kinda sticks out," says Zil.

"Your task is simple: knock her off."

"Does it matter if it looks like an accident or not?" asks Zil.

"No, just that it's done. But an accident will raise fewer suspicions."

"Time limit?"

"Do you honestly want to keep a Hutt waiting longer than you have to?"

"Point taken. Is this part of the big job, or just something to keep us from getting too idle?"

"We'll talk about that when it's done. Now I have to get out of here before I'm seen. I was never here." And with that, she slips out into the corridor.

Oosuu falls back on the bed and heaves a huge sigh. "Oosuu hate work Hutts"

Lina just stares.

Inzoyln Template: Bith Industrial Espionage Agent
Dexterity 1D+1
 dodge 3D+1
Perception 4D+1
 bargain 6D+1
 sneak 5D+1
 search 5D+1
 investigation 5D+1
Knowledge 3D+1
 business 4D+1
 intimidation 4D+1
Strength 1D+2
 stamina 2D+1
Mechanical 3D+2
Technical 3D+2
 security 4D+2

[I'd asked the Oracle:
Q: Is the target on the NPC list? 50/50 (4+): O1 C10 - No. So a random Archetype (Barabel shockboxer) was selected. Inzoyln's archetype was similarly random, and I gave her some skill dice to suit her role (11D, though I wasn't counting as I added them; I just picked numbers that seemed right).]

Scene 2

Chaos: Out of Control (d8)

Setup: d8=4, Interrupt (was: scope out target)
Interrupt: PC negative - Oosuu - Attract / Jealousy

NPC list: contact, target, ISB agent, informant, Imperial commander, rebel agent, love interest, Inzoyln the Bith blackmailer, overseer, executive, Baprasta the barabel shockboxer (false target)

Threads: survive the wait, false assassination

[Q: What kind of jealousy? (1d6) 1-3 personal, 4-6 professional: 1d6=2

NPC Relationship: hostile
Conversation Mood: cautious
mysterious - rumour - weapons]

Every third day, instead of mining, Oosuu does a shift in the maintenance area fixing and maintaining various tools: laser drills, breathers, personal heating-units, densitometers, etc. etc. The day after the meeting with Inzoyln just so happens to be one of these days, to the Twi'lek's relief. Nothing distracts her so much as having something complicated that she can fix, and with the Hutt's awful task weighing heavily upon her soul, a distraction is sorely needed.

This shift sees her with a large pile of [1d4=] drills needing repair, and in spite of her growing feelings of apprehension she's having a [blaster repair 4D=15] Moderately good day. Oosuu is usually the last one left in the workshop at day's end, always reluctant to leave the relative peace of her electronic mechanisms to be once again submerged in Zil's social machinations.

So it is that Oosuu is holding up the last of the laser drills on her workbench to admire her handiwork, when she is startled from her reverie by a voice behind her.

"So, if it isn't Zil's special little Twi'lek."

Oosuu turns about to see one of the senior techs, a [1d6: 1 Twi'lek, 2 Chiss, 3 Wroonian 4 Zeltron 5-6 Human] Chiss named Yarishe, standing silhouetted in the doorway behind her. Her face is in shadow, but Oosuu can just make out the red eyes glaring at her.

"What say?" asks Oosuu, pushing her goggles up onto her forehead.

"You heard me," sneers Yarishe.

"Yes, Oosuu Zil friend. Why? Yarishe want talk Zil?"

"Yeah, 'Yarishe want talk Zil'. I bet Zil's ready to hear complete sentences for a change."

"Yarishe, leave Oosuu alone. Oosuu not in mood."

"I'd watch how you talk to me if I were you. There's some sharp little tools that got out of the maintenance area somehow and are floating round the compound. A little Twi'lek could get hurt if she weren't careful."

"Why Yarishe threaten?"

"Not a threat, girly. Just saying, you need to watch where you step. Else Zil might be looking for some new blue company."

"Yarishe serious?"

"Your days are numbered, little Twi'lek. And once you're out of the way--" [UNE: hostile - destruction - the character]

Oosuu starts laughing in spite of herself.

"You wanna go right now?" says Yarishe, stepping forward into the light.

[Oosuu needs to roll Persuasion; the roll is Difficult (staring at 20, +5 for Yarishe's enmity, -5 since she's telling the truth); 4D+2=21, success.]

"Oosuu just Zil friend. But Zil owe life. Yarishe hurt Oosuu, Zil hurt Yarishe. Go now or Oosuu relate conversation. Yarishe never sleep again."

Next post: the conspiracies deepen!

--- Character sheets for reference --- 

Zil Lhahon
Template: Human Fixer
Dexterity 3D+1
 Blaster 4D+1
 Dodge 4D+1
Knowledge 3D+2
 Intimidation 5D
 Streetwise 4D+2
 Willpower 4D+2
Mechanical 3D
 Starship Gunnery 3D+2
Perception 3D
 Persuasion 4D+1
 Sneak 4D+1
Strength 2D+2
Technical 2D+1

Jather Plazeed
Template: Devaronian Grifter
Dexterity 3D
 Dodge 4D+2
Knowledge 3D+2
 Streetwise 4D+2
 Value 4D+2
Mechanical 2D
 Repulsorlift operation 3D
Perception 4D+2
 Con 6D
 Gambling 6D
 Persuasion 5D+2
Strength 2D
Technical 2D+2

Wex Enstipo
Template: Human Gunrunner
Dexterity 2D+2
 Blaster 5D
 Dodge 4D
Knowledge 4D
 Streetwise 5D+1
 Value 5D
Mechanical 4D
Perception 3D

 Bargain 4D+1
Strength 2D+1
 Brawl 3D+1
Technical 2D

Template: Twi'lek Outlaw Tech
Dexterity 3D
 Blaster 3D+2
 Dodge 4D+1
Knowledge 2D+1
 Willpower 4D+1
Mechanical 2D+1
Perception 4D+2
Strength 2D+2

 Stamina 3D
Technical 3D
 Blaster repair 4D
 Computer prog./repair 4D
 First Aid 3D+1
 Space Transport repair 4D
 Starship weapon repair 4D

Major Riilina Cazerdy
Template: Human Merc
Dexterity 3D+2
 Blaster 5D
 Dodge 4D+2
 Grenade 4D+2
Knowledge 2D+2
 Survival 3D+2
Mechanical 2D+2
Perception 2D+1

 Command 4D+2
Strength 3D+2
 Brawling 4D+2
Technical 3D
 Space Transport repair 3D+1

Thursday, 30 November 2017

LotFP solo - Part VII: Walpurgisnacht

Theophilus is convinced that the family portraits hanging in the salon must contain some clue to the goings-on in the Domus Horatiorum. He examines them carefully, and exhorts his two companions to help. They read every inscription, and are disappointed to find them all of the Nomen + anno aetatis suae variety. Valentinus is certain that if a clue is to be found, it will be coded somehow amongst the numerous busts of famous Romans. Yet other than an inordinate fondness for the Severan dynasty, he can find nothing of actual significance.

Scene 20

Madness (d6)

Setup: d6=4, Interrupt (was: explore house)
Interrupt: NPC negative - look / hands

[The above was technically from the end of scene 18:
left to d20=12, salon
no encounter,treasure,hazard,feature
Q: Any clues? 50/50 (4+): O3 C2 - No, and... all very conventional. 2 turns wasted]

Whilst the other two are musing over paintings and sculptures, Fr. Mikuláš notices the burns on his fingers are spreading. The redness and throbbing in his fingertips from touching the strange candles is starting to move further down his hand. He hides his injury in his sleeve, and hopes the others don't notice. Fortunately, they are too wrapped up in their own private ideas to notice the beads of sweat on his forehead.

[Q: Will he say anything? 50/50 (4+): O2 C5 - No.

N.B. no track for this - scene xp will go to M only, if he survives]

Scene 21 - track A

Madness (d6)

Setup: explore house

NPC list: Eufemia Švarcová, Felicitas z Trautenberka, Fr. Mikuláš

Threads: Eufemia's illness, get book

[d20=13, entry hall; no encounter]

They finally give up in the salon, and decide to try their luck elsewhere, which this time seems to be the house's entry hall, though the front door is conspicuously absent. Moreover, there is the gruesome corpse of a young man [Pauwel] whose midsection has been torn apart, spilling blood and innards all over the floor. A rapier lies nearby, though it is unclear how much of a fight the man could have put up. Whatever killed him cannot have been human, for it seems to have slithered away, leaving a wide track of blood leading down the hall from the corpse and into a doorway.

[Actually, it was just Kateřina's skirts that made the trail. None of the N/PCs present know Pauwel.]

Mikuláš looks as if he's going to be sick. Valentinus is worried that the killer from the inn [end of scene 4] has followed him here somehow -- or was here all along. Theophilus is just glad it isn't him.

"Whatever did that...," gasps Mikuláš, "it went that way."

"Let's not go that way," says Valentinus.

"Do you think it will matter?" asks Theophilus. "Do you think we'll go to the same place? We haven't gone back the same way even entering and leaving by the same door."

"I'd rather not find out," replies Valentinus. "Let's go this way instead."

[to d20=7, brother's room (this brother is the NPC magic-user who hasn't appeared yet)

Room contents (via Scarlet Heroes): encounter, treasure

encounter is: (1d10) 1-2 Zdeňka / Skin Demon, 3-4 Blood Demon, 5-6 innocent (free), 7-8 innocent (bound), 9-0 other conspirator

d10=6, 1d6=m

The 'Page' result made me instantly think of the use of young boys for onychomancy (divination by gazing at the fingernail) as described in Richard Keickhefer's excellent Forbidden Rights, an analysis of a 15th century grimoire of black magic (Codex Latinus Monachensis 849 in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich).

Karl, a lad of 14
German, mercantile class
CH 11 CN 14  DX 8 IN 11 ST 10 WI 7
HP 4 AC 11 ML 7

Q: Armed? likely (3+): O5 C4 - Yes, but... not handy.

The doorway takes them to a sumptuous bedroom. Stretched out on the bed with his back to the door is a lad of about 14. He is flipping distractedly through an old, oversized history book, looking only at the engravings, and is eating candy from a silver bowl. He hears the door close, and starts speaking even before he has turned round. "I waited like you said, and... Who are you? How did you get in here?"

"For whom are you waiting, child?" asks Valentinus.

"I'll ask the questions here! Who are you, anyway? You don't look like burglars."

"We aren't," says Theophilus. "We're looking for our friend. She was taken inside this house."

"Well, I haven't seen her. I haven't seen anyone except you fools. And if she's anything like the three of you, I can't think of a single reason your friend would have been brought here. They have standards, you know." [UNE:hostile - judgment - friends]

"Watch your tongue, boy, whilst you still have use of it!" snaps Theophilus.

The lad seems unperturbed by Theophilus' threat. "You're all going to die, you know. Coming here was a mistake." [mysterious - whispers - enemy]

"You don't say?"

"Once it's started, there's nothing you can do to stop it. And he'll destroy you all for interfering. Or trespassing. Or just being somewhere you oughtn't. And when it happens, I'll laugh..."

Theophilus lowers his arquebus, approaches the lad, and back-hands him across his mouth with all his might.

[hit for 1d2=1 damage, down to 3hp
Q: Does this change his attitude? Likely (3+): O2 C4 - No, but... it does shut him up for the moment.]

"Are we finished?" asks Theophilus. "Good." He then addresses his companions in Latin. "Now what to do about this one... do we take him with us?"

"Take him with us? Why?" asks Mikuláš.

"As a guide, perhaps. Or a hostage, should things continue to worsen."

"I believe that is prudent," says Valentinus.

[Q: Does Mikuláš agree? Likely (3+): O4 C5 - Yes.]

"Agreed," says Mikuláš.

Theophilus turns back to the boy. "Get up. You're coming with us. But step out of line again and I won't be so restrained as I was just now. Understood?"

He nods eagerly.

"Now tell me," asks Theophilus, "what's going on here?"

"My master is preparing to open the vault of worlds -- by himself -- and by so doing take all the power to himself. And he's promised me that I will sit at his right hand, and... and... well, it will be a power beyond reckoning, and--"

"Where's this vault?"

"In the cellar."

"How do we get there?"

"Why, go down the stairs, of course. Then down the other stairs. And then the others. How else does one get to a cellar?"

"Where does that door lead?" snaps Theophilus, pointing angrily.

"Where...? The landing! What sort of stup-- um, what sort of question is that?"

"Come on. Out. You first, we'll follow."

The lad hops to his feet, lest Theophilus strike him again. He doesn't have time to wonder at the inky blackness when the door is opened, for he is shoved roughly through.

[to d20=15, shrine

Q: Blood demon still there? 50/50 (4+): O2 C4 - No, but... signs of its passing
Q: Altar destroyed? Likely (3+): O2 C3 - No, but... candles knocked over
Q: Architect still there? 50/50 (4+): O4 C2 - Yes, and...

Archibald(us) Cook - the Architect
English, professional, protestant (CofE)
specialist, lv 1, architecture 5
languages: English, Latin, German, Czech
CH 12 CN 13 DX 9 IN 13 ST 11 WI 11
HP 2/6, AC 12

the lad's ML 2d6=7, just; doesn't falter, but too shocked to speak
Archibald's reaction 2d6=11, friendly]

The room they come into looks to have been the scene of a slaughter. Blood is pooled about on the floor, splashed over all the walls, and even drips from the ceiling. There is some sort of pagan altar at the far side of the room. Sever of the candles that once lit it have been knocked to the floor, and were extinguished when they rolled into the blood.

A man is half-lying against the altar, weeping. He is bloodied from head to toe; it's a wonder he yet lives.

"You're hurt!" exclaims Valentinus.

"No, I'm... Yes, I'm hurt... it's not all mine..."

"Whose is it? What happened?"

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you!"

"Try me," says Theophilus, his shock at the scene being rapidly replaced by his growing impatience.

"He... he summoned a demon to kill me!"

"Who did? Make some sense, man!"

"Mucius-- Herr Grollenbach. He must have decided I'm no longer required, now that I've built the mechanism."

"The mechanism?"

"The mechanism which opens the vault. Or rather, allows one to open it. I don't know that I can explain."


"There is a vault in the basement, older than this house. And there's a door carved into one of the walls. It's covered in sigils, and can't be opened; indeed it's just solid carved stone. The Grollenbachs have been trying to open it for years, tracking down the proper rituals and necessary supplies to complete them. These rituals must be performed at the proper time, and what's more, at the proper time. Now, are you familiar with Al-Kindi? You are? Good. The rituals require that the operators work under the proper astral influences, but the proper conjunctions won't occur for thousands of years. So I was brought in to design and build a machine as a kind of lens, to deflect the stellar rays and celestial emanations down into the vault, so the ritual can take place. Tonight."

"So what happened? What about all this blood?"

"The demon's."

"You vanquished a demon"

"Hardly. It was made of the stuff... it splashed everywhere. It chased me here, I don't remember how, and I thought the shrine would protect me. It didn't seem to be bothered by it. Then the door opened, and a woman came through, or it grabbed her. She got away from it and ran, and I thought it would go after her. It didn't. It stayed and grabbed me and held me and... and... it's too horrible! I wish it had killed me."

"What happened?"

"It left me with this." He holds open a tear in his shirt to reveal a bulbous and glowing protrusion under his skin. "And then it left."

"Can you walk?"

"I'm not sure... I think so."

Scene 22 - track B

Madness (d6)

Setup: explore the house

NPC list: Daniela (maid), Zdeňka (maid/skin-demon), Floris (thief)

Threads: investigate brothel, investigate death

[d20=1, mechanism room (honestly what I rolled; the serendipity of solo gaming sometimes mimics proper narrative)]

The mechanism takes up most of the oddly-shaped attic room in which it has been built. There is a large, rotating central column of polished brass in the room's centre, going from floor to ceiling, around which the rest of the mechanism is in constant motion. There are huge assemblages of gears, looking like the parts of some gigantic and unearthly clock, connected to springs, coils, levers, plates and lenses. Polished stone fittings are to be seen throughout, as well as precious metal rods and pendula, and gemstones arrayed in whorling patterns. It ticks and hums and whirs and creaks in a of semi-rhythmical cacophony.

"What is it?" says Floris, dumbfounded.

"Don't touch!" says Judit. "Šimon, does this look like anything you've ever seen?"

"No," says the clockmaker. "It's... I don't know. I've never seen anything like it. It moves, but to no purpose... or to some occult purpose, at which I hardly dare guess."

"This must be one of the rooms we were forbidden to enter," says the maid.

"Is it responsible for what's going on here?" asks Judit.

"It might be," says Šimon.  "Or it might only be a part of what's happening."

"What do you think we should do?"

[Q: Does Floris pipe up? 50/50 (4+): O4 C5 - Yes.
1d4: 1 try to stop it, 2 try to destroy it, 3 sit and watch it, 4 leave it alone]

"We should see if there's a way to stop this thing," says Floris. "Maybe it will return things to normal."

The others look on in fascination whilst Šimon goes about examining the mechanism.

[He needs to roll against Tinker (4): 1d6=1, success.
Q: Is there an obvious way to stop it? (d10): 1-2 yes, it's easy; 3-4 yes, but it's difficult; 5-6 yes, but it's dangerous; 7-8 not without breaking it; 9-0 no way at all]

He studies it for a while, peering at it from every side. Finally he stands up straight (as he is able) and says, "I think I could do it. But it would be difficult. Judit, I'll need your help. And yours, my dear child."

Šimon directs Judit and Daniela to pull on certain pairs of levers. He stresses that the three of them must all perform their task at the same time, or the gears might snap instead of slowing to a halt.

[They all need to make Tinker rolls modified by Strength (skill levels: Šimon 4-2=2, Judit 1+0=1, Daniela 1+1=2). Two out of three rolls must succeed.
3d6= 5,1,2 success.

effect (1d10): 1-2 everything back to normal, 3-4 ritual altered, 5-6 magical backlash, 7-8 releases entity, 9-0 too late - no effect

d10=3. The alteration will be determined later (Scene 25)]

The strange machine begins to slow, and as they keep pressure on the levers, it eventually comes to an abrupt stop. Everyone waits, almost afraid to breathe, training to hear or perhaps feel a change in the environment. Floris finally breaks the silence. "This is stupid. Let's just try the door."

He throws it open, only to be greeted by impenetrable darkness. "Dammit! There must be some way out of this maze!"

Downcast, the rest follow him through. At first they end up in the kitchen, and once the disorientation fades they make a hasty exit. Leaving there they are transported to...

[d20=10, master bedroom
Feature (Scarlet Heroes): A prisoner or victim of the dungeon inhabitants: A hapless civilian being held for ransom or sacrifice]

...a grand bed chamber, which is the scene of recent, awful carnage. It is uncertain just how many persons met their end here, but no one -- not even Floris -- wants to wade through the pools of blood and gobbets of flesh strewn about the room in search of clues and/or valuables. They make a hasty exit, and end up in [d20=19] the study.

There is probably some order to the apparent chaos in the room. Books are piled high on every horizontal surface, and the shelves are overflowing. The oversized desk is hidden beneath piles of parchments, upon which many strange and colourful diagrams and symbols have been scribbled.

"What is all this nonsense? asks Floris, perusing the papers.

"Horoscopes, astrological charts, and the like," answers Šimon.

"Does any of it relate to today?" asks Judit.

[search rolls all fail]

Scene 23 - track A

Madness (d6)

Setup: explore house

NPC list: Eufemia Švarcová, Felicitas z Trautenberka, Fr. Mikuláš, ruffians

Threads: Eufemia's illness, get book

As Judit, Šimon, and Floris are rifling through the books and papers, the door opens. They wheel about to see a young lad in fine clothing stumble out of the blackness of the doorway, followed by Valentinus, Theophilus, Mikuláš, and Archibald.

"It's a bit cramped in here," complains the lad.

"You!" shouts Valentinus. "I should have known I'd find you involved in this unholy plot, you deviant. Prepare to die, servant of evil!"

He raises his crossbow and takes aim at Šimon, but hesitates.

"O holy father," says Šimon, "how could you possibly think I am involved in all this?"

"Don't call me that! You insult the Holy Mother Church with such mocking speech!"

Judit moves between them, her rapier drawn. "Who threatens pan Kac threatens me. Lower your weapon. Now!"

"All of you, stop this nonsense!" shouts Theophilus. "It won't get us anywhere. Do either of you know-- hey, where'd that damnable child go?"

The lad had slipped away in the few moments all attention was focussed on Valentinus, [2d6=8, Karl failed ML/loyalty] who even now is still aiming his crossbow at Šimon, who keeps stepping out from behind Judit to taunt him.

"They're not of this house," says Archibald. "I would say that makes them our allies."

Theophilus and Archibald eventually persuade Valentinus to see reason. Judit convinces Šimon (in Hebrew, lest the others hear their disagreement) to stop tormenting the priest. In the end, an uneasy alliance is formed.

Scene 24 - track c

Madness (d6)

Setup: chaos die = 3, Interrupt (was: get to vault)
Interrupt: Horror - PC - perceive / sentiments

NPC list: Cloelia (cleric), Brutus (brother), Dr. Helvetius (astrologer)

Threads: Eufemia's illness, get book

Brutus and Dr. Helvetius exit the garret room, leaving Kateřina alone for a moment with Cloelia.  As they are standing over the unconscious maid and deciding
 how best to move her, Cloelia suddenly grabs Kateřina by the wrist and whispers a hideous threat. Kateřina shrieks, and tries to pull away. Cloelia's eyes glitter in the candlelight.

"Oh come!" she sneers. "I'm not going to kill you now. Who'll help me with this? Perhaps she's the only thing keeping you from being cut down the middle, and your insides offered up in sacrifice."

Kateřina backpedals as swift as she might, and begins to mutter an incantation. Cloelia springs towards her, grabbing her by the hair. She pulls back her fist...

[initiative rolls: 3,3 -- tied; dex 16 vs. 14, K's Charm spell is cast first. save d20=8, failure]

...and stops suddenly short of punching Kateřina in the face. "I-- I'm sorry," babbles Cloelia as the spell washes over her. "I don't know what came over me. I... this is all so very disquieting. I just lost my temper. I didn't mean it, honestly I didn't. Please, please don't be cross with me."

"No, I understand," says Kateřina. "It is forgotten. Let's not talk about it again. We must find the vault like you said, dearest."

Scene 25 - track c

Madness (d6)

Setup: get to vault

NPC list: Cloelia (cleric), Brutus (brother), Dr. Helvetius (astrologer)

Threads: Eufemia's illness, get book

Kateřina and Cloelia drag the unconscious maid into [d20=12] the salon, where Brutus and Dr. Helvetius are waiting. They continue on, and end up in [d20=8] the kitchen, from which they make another quick exit. When their disorientation subsides, they find they have finally come to the hidden vault below the house.

They have emerged onto the landing at the top of a rough, narrow staircase, which looks for all the world like it leads to the dungeons beneath an old castle. There is the suggestion of a doorway behind them, but the door itself is gone; it is as if they have just stepped out of a bare wall.

They make their way down the steps and into the vault itself, a long, low chamber with unevenly hewn stones lining the walls and floor, and unfaced square columns supporting the roof.  Dozens of candles illumine the vault, about half of which appear to have been knocked over. The floor is covered in immense chalk circles and diagrams, bearing characteres, sigilla, and names of magical import. Bitter incense perfumes the air; the bronze censer lies on the floor by foot of the stairs, dented, having been hurled there with some force. On the far wall is great carven doorway of black stone, set into the natural stone of the chamber itself. The intricate carvings of dragons and monsters are whorled round with knot work and vines, and present a decidedly pagan aspect. Before the doorway is the crouched figure of a man, weeping uncontrollably.

[Some die rolls for set-up:

Contents (SH): encounter, treasure

encounter? (d10): 1-2 just Mucius (the M-U), 3-4 Zdeňka (maid/skin-demon), 5-6 blood demon, 7-8 something else, 9-0 roll 2d8

1d10=1, Mucius (the treasure is on him)

How long until the ritual is complete? (d4) 1 rounds 2 minutes 3 turns 4 already finished:  1d4=4

In another perfect example of solo-rpg serendipity, the mechanism was stopped on this very turn, so I need to determine the Alteration to the ritual (from scene 22). I also need to know if the M-U knew what he was doing when he started without the others.

Q: Did the magic-user know what he was doing? 50/50 (4+): O2 C5 - No. He's opened a portal to somewhere else.

Q: What is altered when the mechanism stops?
Alteration (1d12): 1 kills officiant, 2 random effect on officiant, 3 random effect on everyone, 4 good and bad effect on everyone, 5 bestows flawed power, 6 ruins spell ability, 7 random spell centred on officiant, 8 one of those weird summon results, 9 temporal fluctuations, 10 random LL spell centred on officiant, 11 portal unstable, 12 possession


who speaks first? 1-4 Cloelia 5-8 Mucius 9-10 Brutus 11-12 Dr. Helvetius


NPC Relationship: neutral
Conversation Mood: withdrawn
friendly - aid - family]

"Mucius, why did you do this?" says Brutus with genuine concern. "Starting without us was ill-advised at best. You could've been killed."

Mucius starts at the sound of his brother's voice. He wipes his face upon his sleeve, then turns to face his siblings. "I wish I had been killed!" he says. "My magic is gone. All of it. I don't know what happened... this is a disaster. I can't even open the portal."

"Did it fail, then?" asks Brutus.

"No. Look at the door. There's a gap -- it's no longer plain rock. There's something behind it now. Can't you feel the current of air coming from beyond it?"

"You've made another mess of things," says Cloelia [insane - illusion - future action]. "And whatever you were planning has come to nothing even before you've gotten started. Just another one of your foolish daydreams. Now, let's see what... you've... done......" be continued

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