SH5.5: Double down! Surplus heroes bargain for more adventure!

The Bad’n’Ruin has just jumped, or dropped, into jump space, having survived a brush with pirates.

Crew:

  • Pip, helm (AL)
  • Widow, scanners and comms (AM)
  • BJ or Big Jim, engines (DL)
  • Iceman, guns (DB)
  • Choi, computers (GM)
  • Bex, partner and banker (GM)
  • Rhonda, steward (wounded) (GM)

 

New crew no screw

During the hop back to Nazmin I patch my armour and see to Rhonda. Pretty soon she’s fit enough to take on cooking duties. Choi, who turns out is just 22, gets quite a thing on her. BJ keeps working on his pet drone. Iceman works on his spanking laser-carbine and tries to make time with Bex (not so much she notices, mind) and Pip plays cards with anyone with money to lose. We drop into Nazmin’s space and soon have clearance. Pip bangs us down and Bex contacts Obelinda for offload and outstanding payments.

Rhonda allows as how she will take her leave but what I’ve seen of her cooking she’s handier than Iceman so I get the rest around and ask if she can be signed on.

Choi: I vote yes!!!! hehh

Widow: shuddup kid

Bex: well her background is a bit…

Widow: she was one of those Black Daggers and…

Bex: piratic…

Widow: fits right in with us

Pip: I don’t mind, she cooks, she can work computers when Choi’s helping BJ. And I can call her BD for Black Dagger, so I vote yes

Iceman: I don’t mind, gives me a fall-back… ya know

Widow: you ain’t hittin’ that yet right?

Bex: hitting what?

Widow: OK we have agreement, I’ll tell Rhonda

Bex: ah, just for one month, we don’t want to be stuck with someone completely wrong for us

So, Rhonda signs on for the flat month. The rest of us take our 5k bonus and a month’s pay. We stand to take 91k profit before wages, so with a reminder from her that we need more business we wave Bex goodbye and head into Altara.

 

Advancement

This seemed a good point to ask the GM about advancement: we had obviously ended a mission and were in a starport city.

Caseless appears to offer advancement based on real life learning curve. IRL, it’s relatively easy to move from ‘ignorant’ to ‘know something’ and relatively difficult to move from ‘expert’ to ‘more expert.’

Attributes don’t appear to have an advancement mechanism as such, though behind the scenes there may be a percentile chance. Bear in mind that all characters are mature. Let’s not mention the Choi boy.

As for skill, most advancement requires (a) time training and (b) money invested. Other advancement may be at GM fiat. Iceman picks up an advance for Criminal Contact, because he had dealings with Seddon. Widow picks up an advance for Persuasion, based on the amount of talking she ended up doing.

In crew order:

Pip would like to enhance her Interaction skill. As this is a skill area, not a specialty, the GM agrees but it will take a good deal of time. She is required to invest in some expensive interactive training manuals (possibly including How to Smize, by legendary ambassador TyTyBaby) and will need to study while we have down-time.

Widow would like to finish her Intrusion abilities. This is a Tech specialty, i.e. it is measured in boxes that modify the Tech skill. The GM explains that she will need to contact a trainer. Widow asks Iceman for a contact via Seddon, who acted as middleman when we needed armaments. This works, and Widow is put in touch with a specialist who takes 3k fee for the training. (The 10cred lockpick tools are thrown in free!)

BJ would like to finish his drone. This requires him keep working on Tech and purchase a few technical manuals. I believe at the end of the process, Tech will advance.

Iceman would like to be even more deadly with his shooting. The GM explains that he is already right at the top in practical terms. The only people better are snipers that spend hours each day practicing. So as a second option he too purchases some manuals and works on Tech. These manuals may or may not include: How to Sabotage your Buddy’s Drone, and: How Do I Know My Kid is Building C3PO?

 

The GM invites us to work through equipment and put together shopping lists, away from table. Later, I decide to purchase a needler, which requires a specialty within Combat Marksman to use safely. As long as I train with plenty of ammo well before use, this ought to work. The investment is represented by the cost of ammo and time training.

 

 Agents Marty and Cole… IPA!

We ain’t hardly touched down in Altara when a couple os homi in suits are waiting with badges out. Agent Marty is around 40, Cole is tall and thin – for a doggy. I reckon them to be from Fociline by their accent.

Seems like they heard we were out at Pavanne, and run a slew of mug-shots by us, asking about if those guys are alive and what doing. I click to Moes the bar-keep at the Grand Trading, Boss the Tukera, a Lifer, and Wells, which last I call them on  – I claim they must know he’s a secret agent man, they kind of speak loud with silence.

 

Seddon needs a favour

Altara is full of talk about a new recovery: a defence fleet for Jundi system, plenty of star craft to be built, and expertise needed, and ore. Pretty soon Bex is in talks about a double-leg trip, first out to some shithole of a feral planet called Fellan, then out further to the Tarans on Roysian.

One thing leads to another.

It’s after Iceman has paid his respects to his oyabun. He listens to me, says he can put me in touch with someone. Then he allows as how he needs some cargo moved. He must have heard as how Bex is closing a deal. I know we need cargo so I say OK aniki, and we close with 5k per crate agreed. Seems like his cargo is body-pistols and ammo but will go through customs as parts.

 

Passengers!

Bex has surely been busy. She runs the manifest by us and we can all see we need to be on best supercargo to fit it all in. We got ATVs, and three tons of luxury cargo. We even fill up the boat bay with a passenger launch since we ain’t  got one.

More important, we got passengers! Some just bound to Fellan, some for all the way to Roysian.

High passage (which we ain’t fitted out for but we unbolt beds): we got a University of Jundi tenure holder name of Jim Schmidt, and his hot young “research assistant” name of Charo Brown. The launch is theirs, and they are Roysian-bound.

Mitch, an old guy; Ben Rugman a travelling salesman; and a family name of Q4K finish our Middle passage space. By this time we can see we got to change our ownselves round: I bunk  up with Rhonda, Pip with Bex, and the guys share on some rooms I don’t pay much mind to.

Low passage is for eight, including six kids. It’s going to be fun!

 

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SH5: Laws of Inertia! Surplus heroes’ brush with pirates!

Prologue: a new handle for Giant (in 3rd-person voice)

[We got this via email over the week. It’s a good, logical and reasonably tactful way of handling a name mixup that kept happening. And it worked pretty well. I called Iceman by his old handle ‘Giant’ once this session and no-one misnamed BJ at all. Kudos to DB for this change.]

Giant hawked disdainfully and spat something truly nasty across the deck plating. This was the fourth time in half an hour that someone had called him “Big Jim” or called BJ “Giant” and even his unflappability had its limits.

“From now on,” he said, looking down at his icy skin tone and thinking about all those long, cold years in cryosleep, “you bastards can call me Iceman.”

“Him” – he jerked a thumb at BJ – “You can call any damn thing you please.”

“Oh” – here, he swung his laser charge pack up over his back – “and if anyone even looks like they’re thinking of saying ‘Ice Ice Baby’ just remember, I got a beam weapon now!”

 

[We begin the session with a backtrack. The GM wants to show us a bit more of how we left. Probably for when we go back to Pavanne again]

 

Get aboard!

We move fast as we can out the elevator and into the tunnel leading to our bay. Vixe! Cluster of Tukeras t-shirts with couple of tunnel guards. I start running formations through my head, then I see that the guards have the Tukeras bailed up. They ain’t disarmed them – I see a monofilament flicker – but they keeping them covered all right.

Guard: Guvnor don’t want no firefight, you g’wan through

We hustle on through to the Bad’n’Ruin and Choi waves. He’s clamping the feed back onto its bowser.

Choi: Hi! Just done… where you get the juice anyhow?

Widow: Git aboard!

Bex: Oh, there you are… I have some questions about transactions…

Widow: More boarding, less talking! Bridge in two for sitrep!

 

Bluffing the guvnor

[This mostly happens off-screen, as it only indirectly involves us. As a recap the plan is for Tils to present the guvnor with a choice of allowing Obelinda to resume normal trade, or engaging in station-to-ship combat and thereby face the navy, the IPA, or both.]

Pip makes her usual crazy-ass liftoff then flips the old crate over to nestle in by the old Fassault a couple klicks out. They get their hatch open right sudden and I get a bad feeling. Even so I OK them to come ahead, and they drop airsleds in to our cargo bay. I know Iceman is in a gun turret and BJ and Choi are in engineering.

Widow: BJ, you there?

BJ: Yeah go ahead

Widow: How about you get in that fancy suit of yours and just keep an eye on kon’yarr’

BJ: Uhh, meaning I need a weapon?

Widow: Hmmm I guess your blade is as good as we got right now

Then Choi gets antsy and I haul ass down to engines to keep him calm, leaving Pip playing with my comms. By the time I get back she’s got a channel open and I hear Tils making a deal with the guvnor, and Pip gives me the high sign. I keep watch on the unshipping, all goes well and I call BJ back in.

 

Payload

Pip flips us back down, and scratches off some more of our new paint. Wells appears with a bag. Bex goes out to talk to him. I ain’t cool with this even though he checks out a sangue bom but she’s the negotiator. But she comes back with 30k in the bag and a grin on her face and a plan to ‘invest’ our money.

Just to be on the safe side and keep our business out of everyone else’s business, I send BJ down – since he’s the EVA expert – over the decks to talk to Tils. He comes back and reports that our cargo is ‘in train’ and we should just stay aboard and not look for trouble.

So we sit. A few hours tick by. Wells appears and the sang’ oversees loading pods. We help, since we are bored. The whole of Bad’n’Ruin’s payload space is filled, including the boat bay!

Ja na, Pavanne!

 

Ship to ship

As we ready the Bad’n’Ruin for the first jump out of system, I pick up a mark on the edge of range. Same time, they hail us.

Pirates: Stand by to be boarded, we will take the pick of your cargo!

[There follows an awkward few minutes of attempted railroad and protests. Once we bring the situation back to where we as crew get a decision, it all goes smoothly.]

We have a six-way vote. It ain’t the Marine way to just grab ankles, so me and Iceman vote fight. Pip ain’t sure. Bex wants to keep her profit and BJ says fight.

Widow: Nuts.

Tako! Pip plots our moves as the yarro boosts closer, I counter their lame try at a lock, and BJ feeds power to the guns. Iceman blasts them! As they slide by they hammer our shields, then we hit theirs again, then they are so far off our vector we just pour sauce and leave range, and jump.

 

And so with our heroes in jump space, we leave them for now. We may have to miss next week and if so I will write up the second half then.

Ship to ship combat is similar to vehicular combat in d20 or Savage Worlds (minus bennies) with the important exception that inertia does not go away – there’s no such thing as “braking” and no friction to help with “cornering” or moving from one vector to another. Each move is a drift plus direction based move. For example, if your velocity would move you 2k per second, you move 2k per second that same way, even if you are applying thrust in a different vector.

The battle turn sequence is something like:

  • Edge is decided
  • Ship with edge decides where to put power, and makes any engineering check that means
  • A pilot check guides the craft to modify its direction and velocity
  • A sensors and comms check is made to lock in on the opponent and/or break an enemy sensor lock
  • A gunnery roll is made for guns or missiles, with various disadvantage or advantage allowed by power and sensor lock.
  • The opposing side takes its bound.

Armour checks are very much the same as personal combat – a high roll means your shields have absorbed the hit and have downgraded. More engineering power to shields helps, and an engineer can make running repairs to shields instead of putting power anywhere.

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SH4: Spin the wheel! Surplus heroes fight to refuel!

The Bad’n’Ruin crew

Aboard: Bex, half-share partner; Choi, computers; and Rhonda, maimed steward. Refugee Derns (in cold sleep) does not count and Sid the forger has finally pushed off.

In Pavanne out-station: Widow, sensors and comms; Pip, helm; BJ or Big Jim, engineer; and Giant, gunner.

Over-arching mission: link up with Obelinda Lines members, offload cargo of fuel pods, pick up cargo of ore, return to Nasemin, pay off debts.

Current mission: contact Zara Tils the Obelindas factor and Wells (general agent).

 

Well met

Wells! Sure enough it’s the same guy we rode into Nazmin with. He allows as how the Tukera bangers caught him pants-down so he wound up down here in Engineering along with the Obelindas.

Pip, BJ and the Tukera prisoner are next out the ‘lock, so we hand the prisoner over to the sangue bom and head over to where he says Zara Tils is at after getting a sitrep from him about the Tukeras.

Tils got a kind of station set up at what I guess is the main monitor panel for the floor. She’s 40ish, ofisuredi type. No perua, she sums up pretty square. We have a new offer from her, accept, and are now counting down on a time-sensitive mission.

 

Mission parameters

Time: 2 hours, with some leeway

Factions:

Obelindas, partly on engineering deck but with a squad hidden aboard the cold Fassault hulk, drifting out off the station.

Tukeras, and local roughs, controlling decks above engineering. Also control the ships Syvan Pony (the Venice); Wading Bill (fat old trader); and Vioray (a Kitty like the Bad’n’Ruin)

Natty Chippers, controlling station guns.

Lifers, controlling station life support. Recognisable by their green colours, especially T-shirts.

In two hours, Tils allows, the Wading Bill jumps to Carsten, the source of the ore all this rivalry is about. Tils’ plan is that we, supposedly an independent, juice up then move out to the old hulk. Her hidden crew raise the Obelinda flag. We transfer our cargo to it. Then Tils negotiates with the guvnor.

Tils offer is 5k per person, which same I accept once Bex and Choi are included in that. We toast with out-system sourmash!

 

[Returning to the landing docks takes another set of Star Tech rolls, none absolutely disastrous. My own roll is poor, setting the stage for the whole evening.]

 

Lucky Jim

The new guard allows as how Tukeras that might deal with fuel are up on cargo deck nine, so up we go. It ain’t long before we meet a white-shirt cara and BJ steps up to negotiate some of the Bad’n’Ruin grana for fuel. [Rolls 8 (including +1 Merchant) on 13 Interaction!] He steps back to us and allows as how it might take a couple days.

Two days we ain’t got, so I’m thinking we need to update Tils. We hustle back down and over to the engineering elevator and up to the Batteries level. Pip and Giant stay below to make sure we ain’t jumped.

CountdownMarines

Two workers with green t-shirts, I pull on them and they get down on deck. No problem ‘cept BJ decides to beat them unconscious with his shotgun butt.

[GM activates ‘cosh’ rules and after a few attempts declares that indeed the two prone, protesting guys are KO. Way too many guys with 't-shirts' on this station - these were Lifers not Tukeras.]

I get comms up and through to Tils, which takes a mite longer than it should. [Another bad roll from BJ and a -1 partial from Widow] She says fuel up bitch, I says how do we get through the lock bitch, finally one of the lifers BJ KOed recovers enough to explain the Tukera fuel lock is down on six, shuttle maintenance level. Once that is overridden I can send fuel through to the Bad’n’Ruin. It has maybe five ‘t-shirt’ Tukeras – local roughs hired for their guns.

No hard feelings, BJ pays out 100 creds apiece.

 

Guards! Guards!

We up-gun and Choi stands by the fuel feed. We take the side elevator to six, not the giant service elevator that’s big enough for a full size shuttle. As we exit, I’m looking at a mile of big bulky crap dotted round.

crapalloverdeck

Including a shuttle right nearby and another midway, over by the blast-wall that protects the fuel lock. It sticks out towards the shuttle, looks like good cover for us.

I swing left into a bay that’s got comms panels and jack in with my tools. [Sensors/comms +1 success.] While I’m bringing white noise up across the floor’s comms, the others are looking about for guards. [Mediocre Alertness rolls all round. They all manage to spot one obvious guard, perched on the nose of the middle-distance shuttle, and a second guard behind him.]

Widow: OK comms are out, let’s just walk over, act like we belong, Pip you go first, show some cleavage, work it gata.

Guard1 (at about 30m): Hold up!

Pip (keeps walking): Hey, no problema, you no wanna relief we down bro.

Boss (emerging round blast-wall): That far enough, wha’ you do?

Pip (keeps walking, rifle low): No problema, we jus’ here relief you guarding bro.

Boss (snake eyes on Interaction) Whaaa???

Round 1: Pip shoots Boss, his combat armour check fails, he rolls back to cover. Pip jumps to cover on the opposite side of the blast-wall. Giant fires his carbine at Guard1, he is ‘out’ and rolls off the shuttle and lands hard on the floor, his laser-carbine bouncing beside him. His shotgun-armed backup (Guard2) drops prone. BJ runs to catch up to Widow who runs forward to the shuttle [Athletics, fail by 5] but only gets part way. Guard2 fires down at Widow and misses.

Round 2: Giant advances to get to effective range, shooting at Guard2. She is ‘out’! BJ scans for other guards [another mediocre roll] and then moves close to Boss but still around the curve of the blast-wall. Pip spots good cover over at a stack of crates near the centre of the deck and sprints [great Athletics roll] over there. Widow opens up wildly on Boss as she finishes getting to cover behind the nearest shuttle wheel. Boss returns fire and her cover absorbs it [great cover check]. He has two handgun-armed guards near the fuel locking wheel, (Guard3 and Guard4) and signals them forward: one runs to a tail wheel of the shuttle to outflank Widow and the other nervously hangs back.

Round 3: Giant switches out clips, and nervously jogs forward to BJ’s blast-wall position. BJ grits his teeth and runs around the end of the blast-wall and shoots at close range into Boss, whose armour absorbs it. He leaps up, wielding his longarm as a club, but fails to connect with BJ. Widow shoots vaguely at the nervous Guard4 who immediately surrenders. Pip can see Guard3 trying to get a bead on Widow and lets fly, driving him back into cover.

Rounds 4 and 5: further ammo is wasted but the team pincers Guard3 and Boss and they surrender.

 

Countdown part 1

Giant near enough jizzes his pants, he’s got a laser-carbine. He ties up our three prisoners and Pip and BJ open the fuel lock. I get busy on the tools again and move fuel payload to the Bad’n’Ruin. We need 15 minutes clear to juice her up.

We hold a Chinese parliament about our waiting options, I make a call that though we could sit better for guarding the fuel lock, we most need an exit line. We hunker down along a giant wall of crap – junked parts mostly – with the huge service elevator on our 12 partly screened by the crates in centre deck, and the shuttle on our 2. The blast-wall on our 3 is not great cover against troops off the elevator so it will only lightly screen us if we fall back.

The elevator lights start flashing and it grinds away, hoisting Tukeras up to party.

Widow: the aim is discourage more than kill, we just want them to back off. Suppression fire, I’ll be one.

BJ: I’m crap at range, I’ll be two.

Pip: I’m covering with my rifle.

Giant: I’ll use my carbine.

 

Round 1: BJ and Widow suppress with bursts of fire. It is good tactics! With suppression, the burst type replaces the button dice. Those on receiving end make Fort checks modified for cover – for example the elevator shaft is cover because we don’t wait for the platform to come up level. One is wounded, one flees, two fall prone, leaving two actually capable of positive action. One of those sprints to the shuttle, hit by Giant but saved by his armour.

Round 2: Giant scuttles from our cover to the shuttle, Widow draws her autopistol and blazes away (an ‘A’ burst) at the prone guards: the elevator begins descending again. Pip ‘discourages’ the guard left standing, who turns and flings himself back down onto the elevator.

Pip: Yo! Too late, all over when u get here, good story no? You say give up?

Guard5: OK, I give!

Guard6 (from way back where he fled): Yeah coming in hands up!

BJ: Whoo! SMG! Finally something I can use at range!

We collect up the armaments, move the prisoners back with the other three and secure them. BJ’s found an SMG so I drop my carbine back with my packs and ready BJ’s shotgun. Giant juggles round some carbine ammo. Pip’s still OK with her rifle. BJ still has a clip in his carbine too. Still around three minutes to go. Time to wait it out again.

 

Countdown part 2

[I’m getting tense waiting for the 15 minutes to tick by and start ragging the GM, who misses the chance to make Widow make Fortitude checks. Twice. So far the only excellent roll was when I took them out of the case and put them down. I pick them up, give them a stern look and a shake, and put them down again. If that had been a roll it would have been a great roll.]

New crew! Eight (including some from the last attempt) arrive on the elevator and open up as soon as their weapon muzzles can clear the shaft edge. They correctly guess that we are still using the same wall of junk as cover.

Round 1: Despite their readiness we still have edge. Pip and BJ use suppression bursts. A laser-carbine (Guard7) returns fire, missing Pip narrowly. Giant’s gun jams. Widow aims for the gap between elevator and shuttle.

Round 2: Giant un-jams his gun [personal weapon armourer roll] while Pip suppresses again. One guard (Guard9) rushes towards the shuttle, Widow missing her shot. BJ drops his empty carbine and readies his captured SMG. A second guard (Guard10) dashes across near the shuttle. A third guard, waving revolvers (Guard11) leaps nimbly up and moves to join them.

Round 3: BJ switches positions closer to the shuttle while Giant suppresses Guards 9 and 10 around the shuttle’s wheel, driving them more to cover. Pip switches out to a half-empty clip. Widow misses again. There are only two guards capable of firing and one of them with effective range, but two more are moving out and any of the other four, who have moved away to the central crates, could begin cover-firing any time. Guard7 misses BJ.

Round 4: BJ has a clear shot from his new position, suppressing with a B burst and Guard11 falls. Pip shoots at Guard8, who has not left the shallow cover of the elevator. “Pour it on!” Widow yells “we need dead not discouraged now!” She calls a formation to Giant and they sprint to the shuttle on the opposite side of the nose wheel to Guard9 and 10. Guard7 misses again, but a shot from the four at the central crates strikes Widow. Her armour saves her (degrades to 12 from 11) and she cannot take aggressive action (good Fort check). Guard8 hits the elevator button again and it begins descending.

Round 5: BJ sends a long D-burst into Guard10 and she falls, dropping her needle rifle! Giant steps round the wheel and shoots Guard9, convincing him to flee to the elevator. Pip shoots at the group in the crates and hits one: he surrenders and the other three flee back to the elevator.

 Back to the Bad’n’Ruin

Vixe, another firefight survived. The clock is counting down the last few seconds, Choi will have the old girl juiced by now. We do triage on the weapons, bring anything we can tote back. BJ kisses his SMG. Yeah, he burns his lips. But he’s keeping it. We leave the shot-up prisoner for the Tukeras to patch up.

Back up the side elevator and out on the docks, we ain’t got no problem. Choi gives us the high sign! We are ready for the big ship bluff!

Session ends, a little over time. We were all a bit tired but happy to have survived. Even with good intentions of keeping to cover, you can get caught by a crap Athletics roll trying to move around. In terms of rolls, aside from my very lame night with the dice, Giant landed two great shots in the first action, but best roll goes to Pip again, this time for a magnificent Athletics roll to sprint about 30m. Me, I made a great cover roll once and a Fort check once so no complaints, Widow lives to fight another day.

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SH3: Pavanne inside and out

Shifty guide

The tunnel through to central is low-vis steamy and dripping and still smells bad. A raggedy man, armoured and with some kind of half-arsed hideout gun, offers to guide us. I say OK and he tells us his handle is Derns. Derns He offers to guide us to the Grand Trading Roadhouse, which sounds less fun but more like to get us with Tils or Wells, our two possible contacts here on Pavanne out-station. Tils is official Obelinda, Wells is a general agent.

[Pip’s 19 on Interaction tells her Derns is shifty (quelle surprise) and my 17 on Alertness tells me we are not being set up right now. Not at this instant.]

As we wait for the elevator Derns fills in a little more detail about the lifers, the Natty Chipper mercs (who control the station guns among other things) and the Turkeras. Those guys are off the three live ships and hang out on the cargo docks, which sounds bad for us. Our mission is to move cargo, in opposition to the Turkeras. Yeah, that should go smooth.

 

Surplus heroes walk into a bar…

Exiting the elevator many levels above the dock level, we’re now in a better-lit, populated area. Folks eye us but don’t get in our face. Which is maybe natural. Though plenty of these folk wear some kind of armour, Giant and me are wearing light combat armour. And then there’s the longarm that Jim, Giant and Pip are toting.

The autodoors haven’t worked in a long long time and most quarters are screened by fabric or bead curtains. Grand Trading Roadhouse is behind a bead curtain. I stop in the entrance and scan the place, as it goes quiet. The central area is taken up by small tables, where folks are eating. The bar’s on the right, not crowded. Beyond the food area, card tables are busy. A couple of heavies are watching the games. A closer look [good Interaction check] tells me a Varag wandering around there is a pit boss.

I head to the bar with Derns, buy him a drink. Beer-and-chaser. It looks good! I buy the same for me. Then push over 40 creds. Looking around, it looks to me that this is what Derns promised. I ask the barkeep which is the penny-ante table, and I head over there, staking Derns 20. I sling down my tools and med-kit and get ready to lose some creds!

Meanwhile:

The other three act as though they have never actually been to a bar. Jim has one quick drink of the local flavoured alcohol, then heads over to a standing position from where he can watch Widow’s table and the room. He learns that the bar is working as advertised, and nothing more. Pip kind of does her best by nursing the local drink sitting up at the bar as though she wants some guy to chat her up, and is immediately undermined by Giant. Giant also has one drink, then declares that he is glaring hostilely at anyone making a move on Pip. He buys a couple more drinks, presumably holding his carbine in the other hand. Pip chats to the barkeep for a while, getting a repeat version of the faction intel we got from the outer guard then gives up, and drifts over to Widow’s table. She is welcomed by one and all, because Widow has been losing freely.

Table talk

I say ola parceira to Pip and she takes a hand. Since I lose just about every hand I play against Pip it’s no surprise that this game changes a little. Pip_gaming

By this time I’ve heard the Obelindas are maybe a lost cause, though they might be hiding out somewhere, since the Turkeras took them down. The Black Daggers, the ones I thought might be fun to find, shank folks in the corridors. Derns might be hooked up with them – or maybe he laid a killing off on them. As Pip cleans up maybe a hundred creds – and most of them mine but Derns loses the last of his pile – we learn that the guvnor, the Lifers boss, is turning a blind eye to Turkera doings. That’s why Obelindas were put down, even though on the face of it the guvnor would be wanting ships trading.

Jim’s Alertness is tested during this three-hour card-table stint. Unfortunately he misses it, so can’t be sure that Derns didn’t duck out or meet someone in the facilities.

Bailed up

Even knowing Derns might sell us out, I figure it’s better to keep him in sight so agree he can guide us to the cargo decks. But we don’t hardly get far when we are ambushed! I hear Jim yell there’s someone on our four, same time as some cara steps out, lifts a blade at me, says ‘you got new crew, mina, Black Daggers are signing on with you-all.’

Derns gives us a shit-eating grin and allows as how he gotta go and drifts away, and I can see a needle-gun-muzzle at the next outer bay, where it looks like there’s some tables. Glancing back I see a bitch with two guns has stepped out of the doorway we just passed, and she has a gun on Jim. I wait for shit to get real. It’s gonna happen. I know who I’m crewing with.

Corridor battle

Battle layout:

Corridors are curving, the party walking counter-clockwise towards an area where an old food-hall opens out on the right, or outer side. Their course takes them through a 4-way junction. On the left or inner side, two open doorways offer concealment or cover. The light is adequate.

Party order:

Pip, Derns and Widow are in the lead with Jim following within a couple of metres while Giant has decided to follow at a distance, so he is some metres back from the junction after they have all passed it.

Enemy order:

Ahead of the party, a needler and an unknown are hiding in the food bay while a laser-carbine approaches along the corridor. On the party’s left flank a blade and a 2-gun are hiding in the chambers accessed through the open doorways. And finally behind the party (except Giant) but along the outer branch of the 4-way junction, an SMG is fast approaching. This is the noise Jim hears with a fair Alertness roll, and he alerts the others, including Giant.

Edge:

The blade dude and the 2-gun woman have edge, but since they are waiting for someone to bargain, they hand it over. Jim declares that he will pop his blade and slash the 2-gun woman. Giant declares he will shoot the SMG-armed man that Jim heard running up to the 4-way junction (behind Jim, in front of Giant). They therefore have edge which counts as a surprise round.

 
Surprise round: Jim’s close combat attack succeeds, button (the effect die) drops to 2. Armour is penetrated (the GM tests this with a defence roll) and the 2-gun woman is ‘floored.’ Giant opens up with a 3-shot burst on the SMG, missing but causing enough uncertainty that the SMG also misses. No Fort check on either side is required.

Round 1: The edge stays with the party, because one person has been put down using an unexpected attack, and because Giant’s fire is unexpected.

Widow steps right back out of close range, drawing her autopistol, and shoots the blade right in centre-mass. He is ‘out.’ Pip draws her concealable pistol and fires at the needler, but he is well in cover; she also steps back and right, hugging the wall. Jim spins and runs at the SMG, but he is on his toes and drops back (simultaneous action based on Athletics contests) so Jim leaps back into the partial cover of the corner between them. Giant scuttles into the junction to line the SMG up again and fires another burst. This time armour is penetrated and SMG is hurt. Ahead of the party, the needler sprays a volley at Pip and Widow but the shots go wild. He drops back while the laser-carbine armed man rushes into line of sight and blazes away so poorly that again it has no effect. Derns ducks away to the doorway the blade emerged from.

Round 2: Two opponents down and no wounds at all on the party means they still have the edge.

Widow calls a fall-back move: basically drop back to Giant using cover where possible. She covers Pip who scuttles back, firing across at the SMG without effect. Widow drops across to the doorway that the 2-gun came from, giving her plenty of cover. She makes a good Alertness roll to make sure she is not stepping into danger. All clear. Giant does not need to move and his third burst again hits and again the SMG is hurt. Jim tries an extended manoeuvre: he wants to unlimber his shotgun and fire at SMG while running across the junction to cover. This calls for an Athletics roll and Jim like Widow has a -2 penalty owing to gear loaded. He makes a ‘partial’ so retracts his blade, does fire (missing) but does not reach cover. The SMG runs, applying pressure to his wounds as best he can. The laser-carbine advances firing at Jim but misses, then they all flee. Except Derns and the two prone wounded.

Giant wastes another three rounds at their heels, while Derns surrenders and claims he was on the party’s side all along. Widow and Pip both have their medi-kits and check the two down. The man Widow shot centre-mass is bleeding out and can’t be saved without starship-quality surgery, but the woman injured by Jim’s blade has a quite survivable wound, with care. Her guns were an autopistol and a wheel-gun.

 

Picking up strays

We’re struggling back to the Bad’n’Ruin – I’ve left Derns in care of that guard – when Bex comms in.

Bex: who’s that with you?

Widow: this bitch? We agreed she can ride out. She can cook and knows computers. What’s your name?

Rhonda (muttering): Rhonda…

Widow: bitch called Wanda

Turns out her name ain’t Wanda it’s Rhonda. I take her aboard since she allows she can handle computers and cook. Especially, cook. We ain’t got no steward and Giant’s frycooking gets old.

Wanda tells us a mile of facts and talk. Her crew was the Black Daggers. They are all gagging to get off the station.

 

Jack jack jack

Now we’re back on the ship and Rhonda (not Wanda) is tucked away, it’s time to make a plan. It seems like Tils might still be alive, or leastways some of the Obelindas could be. It takes only a little while. The guys, specially Jim, know the kind of layout this out-station should have. I leave my med-kit, and draw out some more creds. Bex is kinda antsy about that but I jack three loose rounds back into my autopistol and allow as how we might need extra, things can be pricey.

[It’s not overt intimidation, more like an atmosphere of intimidation, thus skirting the 'brooding psycho' rule. The GM rolls some sort of check for Bex and says she is unmoved. Naturally, I reply: she worked in a bank.]

 

Derns rides again

We pick up Derns and I pay the guard another 50 creds for keeping him in one place. Once we’re away from the guard Jim asks Derns to guide us to the engineering elevator. We ride it up to the solid-state batteries deck. The plan is to get enough heat to get plant operational and comms through to engineering deck, where Rhonda has told us the Obelinda survivors are holed up.

This works like a charm [Pip Jim and I all make great rolls, them on engineering and me on sensors/comms] and I am patched through to Tils who is still alive. I allow as how if they got a hatch letting outside, we’ll be banging on it in the next hour or two.

Derns is pleading and begging to head out on the Bad’n’Ruin, he allows as how if we leave him he’s dead. I can’t say as how I care much but I give in and allow as how he can cold sleep back to Nazmin.

Zero-G

We suit up. Now we’re really sorry the laser-carbine guy got away, because of all of us, only Giant has a weapon useful on the outside and it’s a piddling hand-needler. Still and all Turkera ain’t likely staking out the outside. That’s what our plan is relying on anyhow!

Jim’s expert and Pip is OK, but me and Giant, vac suits are something Navy gets paid for. We work our way around the landing deck and jump down planet-ward, aiming for the engineering deck, mainly following Jim who knows where he’s going. Our first hop is into a wrecked area, and I spot a couple of tiny specks roped to it and moving out – Turkera is guarding the outside after all!

[In terms of manoeuvre the general skill that applies to a vac suit is Space Tech. Jim alone has advanced EVA, which means he knows how to really handle the process. He also has an advanced vac suit with decent armour capability (and a valve for his prosthetic arm blade). Pip makes a poor roll and Giant misses by 2 (judged another partial) but Widow makes a great roll, four above her poor Space Tech of 13.]

Space battle

Edge:

The Turkera crew have the edge: they already saw the party and are ready to fire.

Round 1: T1 shoots Jim with a needler but Jim’s EVA success allows his hi-tech vac suit to avoid the darts. Giant attempts to manoeuvre to the deck to brace his standard carbine. Pip decides to close fast and turns her air-jets on high making a perfect roll (double-10s) and zips towards T1. Jim tries to bounce back from where his avoidance left him, but does not make the kind of check that would indicate a quick bounce. Widow drifts in, but spins (another partial).

Round 2: T1 shoots Pip and though he does not actually score, she is ‘cowed’ – unable to do more than hunker down. However as she is already moving extremely fast, the GM agrees that in zero-G this means she lands squarely on T1. T2 has no range weapon and cannot help. Jim now closes but T1 has already been caromed off the deck and away, so Jim’s blade attack is wasted. Widow lands clumsily grabbing hand-holds. Giant destroys a good carbine by shooting T1. T1 fails his Fort and he and his needler go spinning into orbit around Pavanne. Apparently the safety line he had was not secured, or perhaps Jim did manage to cut it as he originally wanted to.

Round 3: we subdue T2.

Green light

Giant pounds on a hatch, and we watch the light nervously. It goes green. Well, beyond that hatch is an airlock that’s either going to set us in a trap, or let us through to the Obelindas. I nod to Giant and turn the wheel. It’s a mid-size lock, maybe four could squeeze at a pinch but not five. I signal Giant and me first, leaving Pip and Jim holding the Turkera, and we drop in.

 

We’ll leave it there for now, with our heroes dropping into either a terrible trap or a meeting that brings their objective much closer.

This was a particularly good session for me for rolls. I didn’t care about gambling rolls, since I set up for the penny-ante game. I made a couple of middling-poor rolls and a couple of miss-by-two which became ‘partials.’ (More of that below.) All other rolls were really good. Since most of the others were making fair to good rolls at about the same time, things really came together. Best roll of the night was of course Pip’s natural 20 on vac-suit manoeuvre.

Rules-wise, I’d like to see a more definite ‘partial success’ rule rather than leave it entirely to the GM. If we look at Dungeon World for example the partial is a known band, and becomes something that helps the action. In Caseless there are some areas where there’s no such thing as a partial success, such as a knife-stab or an armour check. That’s fine. But there are several areas, such as Interaction, where partial success must be the norm.

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SH2: Off, off and away! Surplus heroes’ first mission!

Welcome back to Surplus Heroes! The first two-thirds of the session is about getting the ship up and running and the wheeling and dealing that takes, the last third about going on a mission to earn back part of the money we need. The two are connected, of course.

Throughout, read ‘Varag’ as Vargr and ‘Bayvan’ as Beyavin. Widow made lieutenant but it was a commission the hard way and she is no great hand at spelling or grammar.

Where to take Widow?

Last session in a firefight with a combat drone my character Widow was downed. We pick up the session with Jim [whose player is back so we have all four players] rushing over, attracted by the sound of gunfire, and finding the scene as we last left it.

No further skill checks. Pip has already stabilised Widow and there are no other things to do until it comes time to decide where to move her.

I check with the GM that I’m allowed to speak. My condition is ‘dragging’ which sounds reasonably mobile to me, and yes I can speak.

Widow: let’s get to my clinic.

Jim (excited): hey, there’s some great stuff here. You found a drone!? I could fix it up and keep it as a pet!

Giant: The amount of rounds I put into it, it had better not be fixable!

Pip: I can get you there… on my own, no need to beat each other to death trying to help guys.

Giant, Jim: huh?

Pip (brings clinic up on GPS): hour and a half huh, better call so they know what they’re expecting.

The (im) patient

I also check that I do have some sort of communicator. The GM rules that we all have a communicator which will work in normal worlds but not on military-net-only worlds and not on primitive worlds. (At least that’s how I understand it!)

I call my clinic and get put through to Rogaine Fern, the clinic’s senior surgeon and my boss. [I picture him as a suave, balding Sri Lankan.] Best not to advertise my GSW so Pip had better use the back parking space. She drives low for the first part, circling around a little, then climbs and puts some stomp on.

Air Raft is a different skill set from Starship Pilot, but Pip has plenty of skill in both and is not required to make a check.

Rogaine seems a little put out that I ain’t been in to work the last few days and turn up needing trauma surgery, and there’s a mean look in his eye as he slots the drip in. I mumble that no, no-one’s hunting me…

“How long have I been out” I gargle on coming out, turns out it was a quick 4 hours. Then I’m flat on my back for the next three days with a security guy, which guy I name Chuckles, on the door so’s I don’t sneak out. It kind of makes me bitchy. My only visitor is Sid, an old twitchy guy I gave heart check-ups to. He brings flowers, which makes me double bitchy since I can’t eat them.

Sid: so, ain’t seen ya in a week, and then ya show up with bullet holes…

Widow: you mean, a rare infection with burst-pattern symptoms.

Sid: eh, anyway I brought ya some flowers.

Widow: next time bring me food! Hey Chuckles, get some water for these!

 

Throw all the rest of that shit in…

We return to the rest of the team. The GM’s carefully-prepared list is sitting on the table ready to be ticked off. To help [confuse] matters, Pip’s player AL has prepared a counter-list of things to do, such as getting the Kitty up and away to a work-yard as soon as practical. Luckily it is in such small font that none of us can read it!

A series of 2d10 rolls follow, to set up guns, computer and engines. Widow arrives three days into a six-day work binge. Bex is still on leave and working as gofer to the crew, work is proceeding. Pip has just had a phone call from her boss demanding she return to the taxi-company and turn in the vast amount of creds she must have racked up by now. [There was probably a moment last session when she ought to have arranged to swap the taxi for the air raft I got powered up, but oh well, that’s how it goes.]

Pip: guys, I have to hand the cash in, and I kind of told my boss I had a good fare.

Widow: how much would he expect off a week’s fares?

Pip: maybe 3k?

Widow: OK give him 1600 and whine and cry honey, it’s gonna be enough to stop him breaking your legs. Let’s have a talk to Bex and get it outta the stake money.

Pip drives her taxi back, hands over the 1600, and is fired after a highly unconvincing explanation, including “I needed new shoes” as a reason for not having more. The GM uses the old ‘let them keep talking and they’ll hang themselves’ technique for this, though he also asks for a Persuasion check. Pip’s Interaction is actually a lousy 13 but the +2 from Persuasion generally makes up for it. Not this time.

Pip arrives back by bus and foot, quite some time later.

The GM’s list is now lying on the table with some of the early points ticked off but no-one seems all that interested in working through it. Finally I pick it up and establish that we can now tick off virtually all of the items barring life support, fixing cables, and load with parts. We move the timeline up to day 10 with this work.

Widow: throw all the rest of that shit in and this bitch is ready to move!

 

Underground

As a side note, underground on this planet has a double meaning. In the underworld, literally below the surface, there is proper law and order and scans prevent guns from being brought in.

Bex gives us an update. We’ve got enough funds left to buy a small amount of fuel, book a dock, and at least get started on forgeries. It’s time to put the second stage into action, which is spending a stack of creds on papers and a full service over at the docks.

Now where do we get the money?

After checking the list we decide to send Giant (because he’s the contact) and Pip (because she’s pretty) to Seddon, the dodgy underworld boss that works above the bar & grill joint Giant frycooks at. It will be about arranging forged papers and putting us in contact with arms buyers.

This is because AL, Pip’s player, has correctly deduced that there are more ship’s weapons than we need in the secure store, and we can sell off the surplus.

Seddon is not hostile. He delegates Rooso, a local, and Gonzo, a giant goon, out to inspect the yards. They and Pip and Giant travel out in the luxury limo Seddon affords. After Widow tours them round the place (Jim adding technical explanations) they take Pip back so she can pick up the air raft she’s now driving. Six hours after they toured, they agree on both, and ask 3k seed money for the forger. This is handed over next morning. A meet with the forger is set up, underground of course. Again, Pip and Giant are the spokespeople. He is a twitchy, big-nosed old-timer whose price is a trip off planet, and he will take three days for the work.

 

Lift off

Bex tells me it’s time to make a booking for a dock. This kind of paperwork I can handle! [I roll 15+2 Admin on Interaction 12] We get 4 weeks of dock fees billed off. Bex tallies our funds down to 9.8k which is lower than we wanted. Time to air-test the Kitty!

15 pounds of thrust said the engineer

I don’t give two hoots said the pilot

Merry merry men are we…

- old Air Force song

Fuel and jump drive are now ticked off. Pip is asked for a Pilot roll at -2. She has +3 for her Helmsman career specialty and rolls 12, a fine result against her Helmsman skill of 9. We land safely, if a little fast, in the docks.

 

A name at last, and a work crew

Sid the Forger runs some names past Pip, which she runs past the rest of us, no-one has an opinion except me and I like the sound of one of them so the Kitty is named Bad’nRuin. We add instructions to add the name to the paint job as the dock crew work.

Pip: and a red stripe

Widow: yeah, a racing stripe, it will go much faster

GM: are you booking Jim and Choi’s workmates as work crew by the way?

Widow: sure, Choi is trustworthy, let’s stick with people we know

GM: they agree and will only work if paid in advance each day. Choi loves you guys.

 

Money and Mo’ money

Giant hears from Seddon, and goes alone to meet Varags (the doggies) at the docks about the guns. He takes in 50k each for the two guns. We pass 10% back to Seddon as agreed.

We toss the problem of mo’ money round and finally allow we need to fit out a second jump drive to sell off, because we’ve ended up a mite short each step. Bex takes some convincing but agrees to get rid of a jump drive off the books.

Since we are travelling back to the yards by hired ATV, we figure to bring spare missile pods back. Giant can fit them onto our turrets.

Jim’s diagnostics [14 on his 10 Engineer] select a good drive. It takes a further 9 days to get a contact for this purchase. The buyer offers 60k but Jim [double-0 on Interaction, with Merchant+1] convinces him that 80k is fair.

We are still short but Bex is now able to parlay our working-order ship for a job. Before too many days go by, though enough that we are kind of dodging our work crew sometimes, she tells us that a man by the name of Otusoo wants to meet about getting a cargo off Pavanne. The planet is by way of forming a link between mine routes now the other route is interdicted, but has a bad rep.

 

Back underground

Before we head down, we check with Choi about a longer-term job. We have a job in prospect and a computer crew would be handy. He allows as he could travel with us. Giving him a light slap upside the head for lying about having hungry children to feed, we shake on it.

 

Otusoo represents Obelinda Lines. We meet him underground – so no weapons – at 0930 hours next day. We agree to keep the details under wraps no matter what, then he lays it out for us.

Our job is to make a double-hop to Pavanne, meet a factor by the name of Zara Tils, drop some cargo to her, pick up a cargo sourced from Carsten mines and bring it back.

Tukera Lines has set up a deal locally, we will be their competition. Otusoo allows as how Bayvan gangsters run things upside on the station there. I shrug: I have equal-opportunity bullets.

Other than Tils, our old fellow-refugee Wells is supposed to be there and should be a friendly contact.

We also parlay 15k of missiles (three missiles) for 9k of end-pay, and get half our fee up front.

 

The jump

Sid is our passenger! I ain’t rightly sure how to treat him as he is our first passenger but ain’t paying.

Widow: did you bring me something to eat this time?

Sid: Eh, what? Eh no…

Widow: then siddown! No wait, you’re a guest, I’ll give you a tour…

Jokes about airlocks follow. The Bad’n’Ruin, a Keiten class ship, is shaped like a manta ray and has very little in the way of cargo at present, just some metallic cases from the Obelinda office.

It takes about a week for the double-hop. We have plenty of hours to catch up on Pavanne:

An ex-mining colony Pavanne no longer has a planetary population. Instead it has an out-station, or floating space-city if you like, in orbit. Local gravity is 0.1 but the station will have its own of course. The planet circles a gas giant, which is a cheap source of crappy fuel. There is no water. Obviously a vac suit is needed if going outside the station.

 

Into the out-station

I work the sensor array [good roll with my +2] and pick up the outstation and structures that look like ships there, and no obvious pirates waiting. Pip zips in fast anyway. The girl likes speed.

Pip (in a fake Russian accent): sarch fur wessels

Now I can pick up [another good roll] four wessels and class them. I report there’s a Venice on the landing bay, a big old Fassault drifting and cold, and two more wessels standing off, neither armed hot, but just carrying a mite more guns than usual.

The Bayvans give us a bay. The Venice across on the other bay is a Tukera Lines ship. No-one volunteers to do anything about that.

 

The away team

Pip: all ashore that’s going ashore.

Giant: I stay with my guns.

Widow (waspish): Giant, we are in a space station bay, where you can’t use ship’s guns. You are the fighting crew. Plus you spent 2k of our stake on shiny new armour. Get your shiny head out your ass and get ashore.

Giant (surly): yes mum.

Leaving Bex and Choi aboard, and Sid as well, the four of us enter the station through a dingy air tube into a poorly-filtered atmos. It stinks of badly scrubbed O with plenty of C. We head central and are met by a single armed guard.

 

The price of fish

You know how in a generic fantasy setting you have a vague idea of what a bribe would look like, and of course in a modern setting you also have a vague idea of what a bribe would look like? Now witness the GM getting his jollies by setting up a bribery situation where none of the players know the value of everyday items:

Widow: thanks for the directions. What are the rules about say, guns?

Guard: rules?

Widow: got it. How about good drinking joints?

Guard: there are a few drinking joints, no good ones.

Widow: gambling?

Guard: I might be able to tell you something about that…

Widow: how about a cred, would that help?

Guard: I could use it to stop my chair wobbling, yeah.

Widow: <sigh> how about another… five?

Giant: oh for fucks sake, here’s ten.

Widow: oh no you don’t, bitch! So what’s it actually gonna cost for useful information?

Guard: for 50 creds I can tell you enough to get you by.

Widow: 50! <sigh> Time for a whip around, it’s maybe worth it.

Giant: didn’t you just turn down my 10?

Widow: you think I’m gonna blow my own wad like a one-hitch rating on shore leave? C’mon, get with the giving!

 

The guard, 50 creds richer, gives us a basic sitrep of factions and who controls what levels. I allow as how the Black Dagger crew on level 8 sounds like fun and head down that way, the others trailing.

 

So ends the session. Overall good, slightly marred by some cross-talk (across the GM) and so forth. We got further than the GM expected, which means his expectations are right down in the basement. Or lower.

My main issue is that I don’t have a good feel for my character yet. I think I’m being fair in portraying her as tough, because: three hitches in the Marines including a promotion. But the ‘voice’ isn’t there if you like. 

Next session will probably test how ‘gritty’ the game really is. I don’t imagine the outstation over Pavanne is a good place to pick up a wound. It might turn out to be a good place to pick up a new character. Stay tuned!

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SH1: Get it together

Welcome back for the first full session of Surplus Heroes! Our starship engineer ‘Big Jim’ could not make the game so we were down to three players. It was a very engineer-dependent session which made things difficult. 

 

From the characters’ perspective

It is three months and a different system since the flight from the now-interdicted shithole of the shakeout session. The characters are out of steady work and have no ship. We kick off from the perspective of Widow, my own character. She has been working shifts in a community clinic (she has a Marines ticket as a field surgeon, which is not the same as a real doctor) and now she gets a call from a shipmate…

 

Pip’s plan

Pip calls us up, says she’s got something going, organises us to meet up at a below-ground café. Here in Altara City the topside weather’s bad enough that you don’t likely want to check out the view, so that’s OK. I say hi to Giant and Jim, the other two she’s lined up. Jim smells of fuel and grease same as usual but Giant smells of burger fat. Seems like Jim is casualing at the docks and Giant is frycook in some bar & grill joint. Pip has been driving a taxi and she stinks, I want to razz her about it but I don’t want to rile her, so I just listen up.

So it turns out Pip has a cousin, works for a bank, and the bank sent her to a breaker yard which went out of business. And there’s likely enough hull and parts to rebuild our own hopper, maybe a double-hopper, which as Jim allows is what we’d need to earn for reals.

Then we meet Bex, Pip’s cuz. She’s an office-pro type and wears a dress and perfume and makeup. She is nervous about the deal, or probably about us, but agrees to let us check the yard.

Meeting the team

Pip is olive skinned, but a pale olive. Her very dark hair is shoulder length. She is ex-Scouts. She may have an extended family member in any port.Pip

Jim, or Big Jim, knew Pip from the Scouts. He is very tan, and long contact with grease has embedded it into his skin and clothes. He used to be fairly buff in the Scouts and now in his mid-30s his chest has slipped a bit.BigJim

Giant is ex-Colonial Marines. His skin is an unhealthy pale colour with hints of blue, probably a result of his extended cryo-sleep. Although his handle is Giant he is not significantly larger than Jim – but his constitution is rock solid.Giant

Widow knew Giant from the Colonial Marines. Her appearance is vaguely Asiatic though her hair is pale blue with a white streak. She is built on a more robust scale than Pip: she’s also the youngest.Widow

Pip: Bex this is BJ BB and BW.

Bex: Oh hi… nice to meet you all.

Widow: What are those supposed to mean Pip?

Pip: Big Jim, Baby Blue, Black Widow.

Widow: Black Widow? Unlucky is all!

Pip: Four husbands was it?

Widow: And if you read the combat reports you will see those four deaths were cases of bad luck.

GM: The combat reports that you wrote.

Widow: Yes, as the survivor I would be the one that wrote them.

29-29-Shipbreakers

Giant gets antsy about taking time off work to travel out there. He says there’s a heavy type who’s the real owner of the Sunset bar, who likes his cooking and will get pissy if he takes a few hours off. I didn’t know Giant was such a pussy.

We pile into Pip’s shitty taxi, Bex in the front. It’s rank, though Pip allows she cleans the puke out. It takes about an hour out to the yards, name of 29-29-Shipbreakers. The stripping-line forms the spine of the place, with one slaved crane and four or five big sheds for parts. At the head of the yards is a good big landing pad and some smaller buildings, two looking like admin and one pretty solid looking one. At the foot of the yards is some trash, scrap piles, and hulls. Right away, even across the yards, we can spot maybe five intact hulls sitting.

Over a walk-around – Bex sitting back in the office working on the paperwork she’s here for – we nix a pod and a Nike class scout, and flag a Kitty class, a Denny class, a Voyager and a Venice for a real look. “Pick the one that looks least like a schlong,” is my advice. Then I head back to join Bex in the office, because there are a few doors she can’t get open and I’m curious about them my ownself.

 

The session’s main intent

This session proves to be an ingenious way of letting us get our own ship together (literally) while experiencing a bit more combat. The GM has put quite a bit of effort into what’s needed for a ship, but lacking a player that is really interested in the approach, it falls a bit flat.

The task the GM has set is a list-based one. As Jim is a qualified starship engineer and Pip has ranks in it, the GM has assembled a list of all the tasks that would go into putting an entire ship together and getting it off planet.

 

Some ship information

The various ship types are all pinched from another SF space game. The GM tells us not to worry too much about the exact specs. Basically, the Kitty (Keiten) is a bigger freighter than most, while the Denny or Denoba (which is very phallic) has the potential for the biggest guns. Voyager and Venice are both mid-size.

There will be a number of engineering rolls. Later in the process, admin and criminal tasks will be needed. However, the guts of this side of the task is just: make a roll, tick off another item on the list. As a player I find the list-based approach sleep-inducing, so that is a shame – as I say the GM put quite a bit of effort into having a list ready in the first place.

 

Now, turning to the exploratory team I’m adopting a 3rd-person voice so bear with me. I am minding Jim.

Gaah!

Pip and Jim head over to the hull Widow would like the most: the Kitty class. They both have Engineer skill boxes so Pip makes a ‘help’ roll (which adds +2 just like d20) and Jim makes a Starship Engineer roll. He rolls 2d10 and adds 3: two for the normal boxes and one extra for his qualification in that field. The object is to equal or better his Engineer skill of 10. The hidden object is to exceed it by a great deal. It’s a very ho-hum total, so all the GM reveals is that the ship’s hull appears to be intact.

Then it’s an Alertness roll! Beady eyes have appeared in the dark and they are quite large! Jim makes barely enough to pop his Blade as they are attacked!

The wolvettes (dire rats… in spaaace!!!) get the Edge! They are all over the pair!

“It’s game over, man!”

Close combat rolls are required, because neither character picked up the threat at any kind of range. Note that even Pip’s pistol requires a Close Combat roll, because at this range it’s not about your marksmanship, it’s about keeping cool and using your size to advantage.

Pip is Cowed and Jim flails his blade about ineffectually with a wolvette chewing its way up his bomber jacket:

“Gaah! Get it off! Get it off!”

Pip manages to flee, squealing like girl, and then Jim makes a high enough Close Combat roll to get some Edge himself. He flees! (Pip is no longer there, so there’s no need to act manly!) The hatch is slammed and screwed shut tight!

“Uh… how’s about we try the next one?”

“Sounds good to me!”

 

Pip and Jim next head to a Denny or Denoba class ship. Giant will like this one: fully rigged it carries two powerful gun turrets. Jim and Pip both make sensational Engineer rolls. This ship is the right size for a small crew.

Voyager class is next: A good set of rolls. It’s too old. Metal fatigue is guaranteed.

Finally, the Venice class is checked: Another good set of rolls! It’s in so-so condition but the hull has a rupture, so is not worth trying to salvage.

So the pair have decided that the first two ships, the Denny and the Kitty, have potential, but they need a bit more firepower for a ‘bug hunt’ as their Marine buddies would say.

 

Widow and the locks

Near where Bex is pushing papers, there’s a kind of walk-in that’s locked. I lay out my tools and get to work on it. [Widow is entitled to sensors and comms tools from her exit rolls]. It takes a bit of time but I get it open. Inside I find a field sensor [the same kind of local area sensor you see on Aliens] and five carbines with some old ammo clips. I take the sensor with me so’s if I find a recharge point I can get it hot.

There’s another door in the same admin block, some kind of annex I guess, but it’s too tough for me. Bex had mentioned that the solid-looking building one over was locked, so I head out there and meet Pip and Jim, looking a bit chawed on, coming back from the hulls.

They explain what they found and those wolvette things. One of my husbands was like that. Can’t say as I remember which, now.

 

The Kitty

After a mid-afternoon meal break, over at a local café, we light up the wolvettes. Now we can explore! Jim says as how it’s a double-hopper, so if we can get it operational we can make big creds. He also [making a fair Engineer roll] allows as how some wiring is still hot.

We search the ship in case there’s some locals growing something they ought to not be. It takes us two hours but we find a battery. That all has given us a good look around the Kitty. It’s real roomy, plenty of hold space for people or goods. I like it and I say so. Then Bex calls a meeting.

 

The deal

Bex is quite the office-pro, and she runs us by the stages of building up a hull, money and time. She pitches us that she wants in and will match our 20k with her own 20k. We can’t hardly say no! We’ll need a little help with things like computers, and later we’ll need papers that are good enough to get by on, and a much bigger chunk of change.

 

The other locks

I try the annex lock again with Jim’s help, now he and his tool kit are there. The room has an air raft, four vac suits, and tools. The tools include hot leads so I get the raft and sensor heating up.

Then we walk out the office and over to the solid lock-up. This whole building is solid – it will be a sore trouble to break in if I can’t open the lock, but as it turns out I do just that. The doors are supposed to be powered so I can only shift them a little, but enough to spot laser cannon and turret. We close up again but I don’t lock it – I might not get that lucky next time!

 

Assembly

[Giant’s player is now minding Jim – he insists that Giant still won’t come out to help]

Day three, we meet up early, except for Giant. Jim, with Pip helping, has to work out the crane and strip line. He does OK – as far as I can tell – and by mid-day the line is moving, which will give us the chance to move the heavy parts back to the hull. I spend a fair bit of time on my own, working along the big parts sheds. I tag a power plant, then manoeuvre drives. The computer turns out to be more of a problem, as I ain’t got enough know-how to figure which parts can be used. As the three of us chew it over, Jim allows he knows a younger guy from the docks name of Choi who has the tech know-how. So Jim calls Giant and asks him to sell Choi the idea. Giant seems a little antsy still but allows he can get out there.

 

Are we being set up?

Bex calls from the office – someone is landing an air raft next to Pip’s taxi!

It’s a local security firm (“Heeyy… call me Den”) worried about people roving around the yards and getting machinery moving. Bex seems to convince them enough that everything is on the bank’s say-so, and they leave.

 

The tech

Giant’s player finally gets to role-play his own character for the first time since meeting Bex. He meets Choi and probably tells him a lot more than we were asking him to, but it boils down that Choi, who like Jim is underemployed, is willing to earn double-pay and no questions asked, provided he gets paid his day in advance.

 

Shoot the drone!

Day four, Giant finally turns up, now that he knows I’ve found some big guns. I kind of figured that would bring him panting like a horny dog. He introduces us to Choi, and Jim takes the tech under his wing and heads on over to the computer parts.

We power up the armoury door properly once I find the lever. As it opens and Giant moves up on my 12 I spot something metallic rising up on one side and yell the warning. Then I dive for cover!

The following combat is quite long, so I won’t run round-by-round. Characters fighting are Giant, Widow and Pip. We decide Jim must be somewhere else around the yards as there is plenty to think about without minding a spare.

There is only one opponent, a combat drone. None of this silly ‘law of robotics’ nonsense here! It has sturdy armour, which degrades with each solid strike. That’s the catch – the button dice has to be a good result, or the shot simply glances off.

Reminder: combat works with 3d10, one of which is distinct and is the ‘button’ dice. Adding combat adds you must reach at least 21. Your aim (skill level) reduces the button, low is more deadly. Your aim also decides how many shots you can fire in a round, if you have something like a repeater weapon.

Rounds 1 to 2: Widow hunts cover, Giant shoots and misses, then does a little dance as the drone shoots all round him. He is cowed and fails to take action, but Widow offers good cover fire with no real effect on the drone. The drone turns its attention to Widow and she is ‘out’ despite cover.

Cover is always good, but if you are in a position to fire then you can be wounded. Widow rolls low on her cover roll following a deadly result from the drone’s 3d10. Therefore, the ‘out’ result takes effect. Until she can be checked by a medic, no-one knows how badly hit she really is.

Rounds 3-5: Giant gets to cover and Pip shoots from the doorway. Much blazing away results in the drone falling, and Pip reaching Widow, but as Giant exits cover to make sure of it, the drone rises again, firing, and he is cowed all over again. Pip knocks it down again with another accurate shot, then reaches Widow.

Rounds 6-11: Pip uses her medic skills on Widow while Giant uses up a lot of ammo on a slowly-degrading drone. Mostly, the drone can’t return fire as shots are making it spin or wobble. Giant’s cover roll is good on the one occasion he has to make it. Finally he gets a really good button and the drone is history.

Medic check: At this point it is time for me to roll 2d10 to see how serious that potentially-mortal wound actually is. The dice come through for me and I roll a 14, which means the true nature of the wound is ‘Serious.’ Pip is providing Corpsman-level aid, so Widow is moved to the condition ‘dragging’ which means she can hobble about, slowly. In her own place of employment what looks suspiciously like a GSW could be patched up with (almost) no questions asked.

That’s a good place to leave it. We’ll most likely pick up next session with Jim and Choi rushing over to find out what the gunfire was about. Stay tuned!

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SH0: A shake-out session

Welcome to the first session of Surplus Heroes! It’s a shakeout session that takes just under an hour and a half.

I start off with no inner picture of how my character will react or speak, or even what baggage she might be bringing to a situation. I feel the same applies to the other three players too. But the benefit of a shakeout session is that you can try stuff. Here’s how it went down.

We don’t meet in a tavern

But that’s because we already know each other and are sitting around listening to the news, nursing our drinks, trying to figure out why our buyer, who wanted the ATVs we have crated up in our little cow when we set off, ain’t around to move them and hand us a case of creds so we can fuel up. Maybe the news clues us in: riots, anti-offworlder crap, dead president. Ain’t a body allowed to turn a cred?onthenews

Along the bar a ways is a doggie – what they call a Varag – Varagand a couple high-cred types that might of come in on the big ship, Empress something, across the port from our little cow the Unschlug. The girl ain’t looking for action and the guy ain’t giving the eye.brenda_wellings

The thin underslung type working the bar pops the vol up a mite and says how its getting ugly. Sure enough a drone cam shows us crowds on both south and west gates of the star port. Great. We are cut off from the old girl and need a way in.

“This your place?”

Pip ain’t just making with the small talk. She ain’t got hitched near as many times as me. But mostly, an offworld type like him might want to leave and might know how.

The underslung type allows as how ain’t nothing permanent and digs up a cashbox from under the floor, and a cut-down 8-bore. Seems his name’s Tone Loc and sure enough, he knows a way out.Barkeep

Rolls/Checks

I think Pip may have taken an Interaction check; at least one of us has rolled Alertness to see if we are aware that a mob is heading to the bar’s front doors. Meeting the Varag (name of Bob because his real name is unpronounceable) and Glenda and Wells is a gimme.

Low cloud is the same as fog

When you’re up over 1k that is. Glenda and Wells, the pair from the Empress, I’ve set in the middle. Barkeep Tone Loc is our guide but I set him at rear, Bob the dog next. Big Jim the Engineer is point so as to bulldoze through, me next. Giant then Pip slot in in front of Glenda.

The first real trouble we strike, the fog helps us. Fog carries sound real good, and we hear the locals before we slam into them. I get an idea and check around what we have. All good. I get the team together and quiet-like, say I’m going to throw a scare into them and at which point, we run through. Then I hurl Welling’s flask like it’s a pipe-bomb and yell ‘fire in the hold!’

The locals scatter like they ought to, and we run through. Once they get their nuts picked up, some run after us and Giant discourages them with a volley from his autopistol. I help with a shot or two my ownself. They stay discouraged long enough for us to get right round to the next problem.

Rolls/Checks

Alertness galore. You can see how this is going can’t you? If you miss Alertness, you are surprised, or at least don’t get to plan. We make our checks and the GM does not penalise me for having to explain the plan out loud to a group of people. Someone, it may have been me, rolls on Athletics to throw the ‘bomb’ and that goes well too. Rolls on Athletics also decide how fast we run through, and there’s some party order shifting.

We swing in towards the starport’s feeder line, through a built-up zone. Well I’m still along at the rear, making sure no-one’s getting lost, then from up front I hear a challenge and Pip squeaking and the sound of her 9 going off. The next thing I know, Jim is popping his blade and going toe-to-toe with some local that is trying to throw down on him with a gun. It’s a little local reception party barricading a street leading into the spaceport. Besides the shit-kicker fighting Jim, there’s maybe two or three others. The fog is making it hard to tell. We hit the dirt and I call shift left to cover, because that’s where I can see doorways and windows. Turns out the other side of the street is hard by as well, so some of the team roll right.

Combat

Being under fire causes a Fortitude check. If you are exposed, chances are you are just going to hug the dirt and, at best, seek the nearest cover that is no closer to the enemy. I called left because that would meet requirements for most conditions – I guess I was working from Dark Heresy’s suppression rule.

Glenda does not make even that good a check, and I spend a bit of time trying (using Leadership, and failing) to make her move: eventually Bob helps and we drag her over into cover.

In each combat the GM decides who gets ‘Edge’. Normally, it’s really important. In this case he decides both Pip and the local are surprised and neither has the edge. Jim decides to go for close combat and pops his blade out of his cybernetic arm. If this was a d20 game I think that would be a free action, but I could be wrong. The local on the other hand is trying to use his firearm. Jim gets the edge because he successfully closes and hits. As long as Jim stays in contact, the man’s Close Combat skill is what is counting for his use of a firearm. If the local ever gets a hit in and gains the edge, he can switch to combat marksman by backing off.

The locals are bad enough that we blow through their lousy excuse for a barricade, flinging a few discouraging shots behind us as we scuttle. Jim’s still up front so far as I can hear. The fog is plumb thick, right down to around 1 metre vis, but I’m pretty sure we’re in the port. Then there’s a real challenge up ahead! I’m guessing Marines: I used to be one. Jim starts trying some chatline crap on the Marine so I shout him down and offer a proper response. It’s a picket of nervous low-hitch jarheads, just about wetting theyselves. Good thing I spoke up. They are keen to evac, so they head in with us.

Rolls/Checks

The GM asks for a Leadership check in relation to the Marines, and I make a good roll. I don’t know if my background and rank helps. There’s some extra conversation across their RT network with their sarge, to co-ordinate evacuation and cover. These seem to be gimmes.

We need to leave but fast. Glenda and Wells have a fuelled-up ship so that’s what we need. I set up an extended line of search, adding the jarheads to it: we run a simple sweep and find the Unschlug: we have about one minute to grab our shit and get to the Empress. And away!

I hope you enjoyed this shakeout session, or at least got an idea of how the game plays. I moved pretty much from one of the team to boss-lady, but I hope to take a more equal role in most sessions. It ought to be horses for courses, where the helm is leader in one situation or even the gunner in another. Stay tuned!

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