SH7: System in flux! Surplus heroes’ survival trek!

The ‘away’ crew of the Bad’n’Ruin, in Rogan City, Ranui Island, RowsionII:

  • Pip (AL): driver and negotiator

  • Widow (AM): tactician and support

  • Iceman (DB): gunman and contact

  • BJ (DL): mechanic and knifeman

Full service shopping

Now we have a truck, and the crates are loaded up, it’s time to shop for supplies. Back on the Bad’n’Ruin we gave some thought to this. I do have a bunch of my own supplies on board. But this is a delivery run that might drag on for an extra day, so I figure the local suppliers will have the right weight of gear and be able to fit us all for local conditions.

Pip grinds the truck out through the entertainment district, the three of us passengers sitting along the bench next to her. Looking out, I see two styles of os homi, local street cop and armed gendarmes. Iceman allows as how they been told the gendarmes are the competent, dangerous ones.

We use the local net finda service and park out by Offworld Fishing and Camping or some such, and I’m in luck, the clerk is ex-Marine. Still Taran but bulked up like he done his drills. While he’s pulling down bedrolls, tents, water purifiers and such, I wonder quietly if he can supply us with hunting gear like a rifle. He can.

[Supplies: 4xbedrolls, 2xtents, 4xrain slickers, 4xlight packs, 4xcanteens, 1xcamp stove, 1x 1st-aid kit, purifier tabs, and 12 days MREs. Off-book: Assault Rifle with a 20-round clip and 60 rounds; and Pump Shotgun loading 10 rounds with 30 rounds.]

Pip asks about the local system and Marine Mike briefs us about the Golden Dawn owning the Council and running things v the New Golden Dawn out in the hills planning revolution. Guess I can figure where Seddon’s guns are bound.

 

Diiz River

While Pip and the guys are in a Sylvanian Fried Fowl joint getting food that tastes like food, I use some wire and tape from BJ’s bag and hide the guns in the chassis. [Widow asks for Intrusion and PrsnlWpnArmourer to be considered for this task and makes a fine roll, they are not going to be found without a detailed search and will not just fall off.] Pip tops the tank up and we roll out of Rogan City to the Diiz River Valley.

Not for long! Iceman and me spot os homi rolling with light flashing behind. Po! Pip’s been driving too fast! She pulls over. The fuzz in question is local law, so Pip slips a stack of creds in with her papers, and is off with a warning. [Alertness – excellent from Iceman and Widow. Persuasion – 16+2 on Pip’s 13. AL still has to guess the amount, I remind him that 50creds was a low-level bribe on Pavanne. Pip hands over 75.]

A few hours and we are out of lowland farming and up among heights, and come to a gendarme checkpoint at the Diiz River Bridge. These guys take their job serious, they are tossing a car ahead of us. We pass inspection OK and our delivery story holds up. The gendarme gives us the how-to for contacting them in case of problems. He don’t know that problems are coming in crate-loads these days.

After that the road forks, one leading back cityward, while we follow a lighter road up higher.

 

Conrad Harry-who?

Pushing nightfall we are bumping over rough woodland terrain. Picking a deserted spot, we stop and break out the weapons. Iceman has the rifle, and will sit window. I have the shotgun and will sit next. His job is to hit cover fast, mine is to scuttle and give him time to acquire targets. I run through scenarios with BJ and Pip so they have an idea what to do in a shooting fight.

After nightfall the rough road has petered out to a single-width trail. We are waved down by a moyss that looks like the kind of kasu we are here to do business with.

Mook: who you planning to see?

Iceman: Conrad Harry-Sue

Mook: drive on, slow like

We roll to the next check where the next mook calls out some other moyss name of Karyoi. He’s a noncom maybe. He asks the name again, Iceman gives it again, orders us to surrender our pieces, so we do. Now he’s less edgy. We get out and sip hot toddy. A cara joins our circle – a patroa by her look – and sure enough this is the one we’re delivering to. She calls herself ‘Comrade Eresoo’. That explains the funny name Iceman had.

The weapons check out, she invites us to stay over. We sack out on bunks in a cabin, but on our own bedrolls – not wanting to make new friends among the local bugs.

 

System in flux

The next day we’re pulled over for a breather when Bex comms up. Trouble! Then she’s cut off. Within seconds we hear an almighty impact strike, like heavy artillery. Media feeds go into a holding pattern. The hillside is shaking as a mushroom-shape cloud grows above the horizon. Suddenly I know what’s breaking – the Prof’s words come back to me!

[Widow rolls double-ought on Science and reels off Dr Schmidt’s theory of destabilised structure. This is a meteorite strike. Among other effects on this water-dominant world, a vast mass of fine dust is being sucked up, and tsunamis are being generated.]

We dodge boulders [Athletics] shaking loose and jumping down slope, but one real big one catches the truck just as Pip jumps in it – the silly bitch thinks she can drive out of anything – and it rolls right over. Pip clambers out unharmed.

We retrieve supplies and take on a route march order, heading east towards Rogan City. The first major decision will be made at the crossroad, beyond which the Diiz River will have probably flooded or the bridge may have weakened.

 

Vagrants and Varmints

The first hour, we make good time, though the wind picks up as a sign of what’s to come and I order slickers on. There’s a lot of silt been sucked into the sky that will be coming down as muddy rain. We keep an ear on media feeds, and get a shortwave transmission heralding a Golden Dawn of the God Age.

Around 40 minutes after that, we spot a half dozen or so locals around an off-road vehicle. They’re from a local farm commune, not hostile, and BJ notes down the name of the commune in case we can pass on their needs. They guide us further east and we push further on.

I set up in four-man formation. Iceman counts as heavy weapon since he has the autorifle, I’m on his 3 as support with the shotgun. BJ is point on Iceman’s 1, and Pip is on BJ’s 9. With only her slicker as armour and her knife as a weapon.

The next feed-push we get is from an ‘Emergency Military Authority’ claiming that martial law is in place. We kick this around a little without coming to any conclusion while we slog through rain and mud builds up. It’s a little slick under foot.

Now, BJ signals. Iceman and me, we close up a few metres. It’s a detachment of gendarme van and patrol car, with a truck that could be local farm. A mob of people seem to be under guard nearby, and a gendarme is waving us on.

He checks us over, SMG at port. I can spot another with sidearm, another with shotgun further back and what looks like a guard near the mob. Hard to say what he’s carrying.

G1: off-worlders? Where have you come from?

Pip: up the valley in the hills, just trying to make it back to Rogan.

G2: what’s in the packs?

BJ: camping supplies

G2: hand them over

BJ: here you go

G2: bedroll, food packs, uh-huh, these belong to the Authority now

Widow (calls): we’ll keep our canteen and an MRE apiece

BJ: we’ll need those packs back

G1: didn’t you hear us? They are not yours anymore

BJ: hand them BACK!

G2: arrest them!

 

The gendarmes

Round 1: BJ pops his blade and stabs at G1, the gendarme with the sidearm. Widow, who was completely expecting this, scuttles sideways right, to cover at the truck. Pip also scuttles sideways left, to cover at the van. Iceman brings up his rifle, shoots at G2 who has the SMG, crabs to the road verge and drops into prone cover. So far Widow’s formation has worked perfectly.

G1 attempts to draw and fire but can’t effectively disengage from BJ’s reach, and misses. G2 opens up on Iceman’s zone, the bullets spatter round him, but with a Fort save he is fine. G3 and 4 are surprised and take no effective action.

Round 2: Widow levels the shotgun at G4, guarding the mob with an SMG, and though the buckshot does no harm (button of 10) he scurries into cover away from her – and into Iceman’s sights. The mob surges back nervously! G3 advances to the other end of the truck and pumps three rounds fast at widow with his shotgun, missing. Iceman lines up G2: one of his rounds at least hits the target, causing G2 to crab to cover by the van. On the other side of it, Pip finds the van is unattended and clambers into the cab. BJ and G1 melee, BJ getting the better of it by cutting past the gendarme’s armour.

BJ: iyo! Brung gun to knife fight – mistake no?

Round 3: BJ follows up his success by ramming his blade through G1’s face, dropping him screaming and writhing, and runs full at G2, who has not been able to open up. Iceman curses BJ for crossing his LOS, but switches to G4, and blows his spine out. G2 and BJ are chest-to-chest when Pip guns the van, and fish-tails it, flattening G2 and bouncing BJ clear. Widow seizes the psychological advantage and demands G3 surrender. After some hesitation he realises that he is out of options and does so.

 

Crossing them off

I get the last guy sitting down so he can’t jackrabbit, then check the ground. We have a mob of civilians and a few dead ones off to one side, two dead gendarmes, an immobilised gendarme and a prisoner. For vehicles we have a mid-tare truck, a patrol van with mid-range comms set, and a patrol car. The gendarmes weren’t packing an arsenal and had already shot off quite a bit of ammo killing civilians. We tally two SMGs with 2.5 clips of ammo; 2 revolvers with 18 rounds all up; 2 autopistols with two full clips and one near-full; and a pump shotgun with 15 rounds all up.

Around that time, we get a media push from the Council – same as runs Rogan we think – saying that there ain’t no such martial law and everyone needs to heed the Council. But we’re turning our attention to what happens if someone reports this ruckus.

BJ: we can’t leave witnesses

Iceman: iyo! Civilians… you guys f**k off before my friend here gets crazy

[Civilians leave en masse]

Widow: you are right about the gendarmes though… well, I’ll do it since it has to be done

I pick up one of the wheelguns and put a round through the back of my prisoner’s head. Then I walk over to the guy that got busted up by Pip’s stunt, and kneel on his throat.

I don’t feel good about killing helpless men but in terms of justice, they were the bad guys. I will try not to let this incident colour Widow’s character too much. It’s not the sort of campaign where you can have a satisfying emotional crisis and catharsis.

Wheels again

Pip: what do we do about this comms gear? I put the van in a hole and broke its drive train

Widow (inspects it): too much to hope it’s portable… I guess we leave it

Pip: not destroy it?

BJ: that cuts both ways, it’s not worth the risk

Pip (smashes comms unit): ah well, it’s broken now. So, transport? What else can I drive?

We kick around options and decide to take both vehicles, me driving point in the car and Pip driving the truck. Weapons are shared round and I strap gendarme armour under my slicker. That last shotgun blast came mighty close.

 

Wildlife

It’s my right as a native-born citizen of Noi Jana, or Nova Janeiro if you want the proper name, to drive anything with wheels and pack a gun at the same time. I land the car in a crevice, and me and Iceman dig our gear out and get aboard the truck once Pip crawls it over.

The vis is terrible and the wind is pushing the truck around. Pip’s worrying about what the river and rain will have done up ahead. Now, we get another broadcast, this from ‘Loyal Military Authority’ that calls all soldiers and police back to barracks.

Pip: quite a competition

Widow: just what you’d expect… the side with the most tanks wins

We run into a herd of big shaggy horned critters, and stop and wait it out. They mooch on, but while we wait, we get a call through from the Bad’n’Ruin!

Bex: authorities are jumpy… we don’t have options yet since there’s no spare helm… we’re investigating…

Widow: we’ll keep pushing towards Rogan. Our likely layup point is the fork in the main road, just west of the bridge. We’ll fall back there if we have to.

Bex: understood, good luck

 

The LUP

Pip drives through the rest of the day, wrestling the wheel over mud and holes. We run into one checkpoint – paras maybe – but our slickers make us anonymous and they buy our story of seeing nothing but dead on our way. The truck is sounding less and less happy. Finally, we roll through the fork and down to the bridge, or where it was.

I climb down [survival check excellent] and find a solid line of deep mud and sand above where the river is now. Looks like a flood knocked the bridge loose and left the tide mark.

This leaves us only the option of the east fork, which still leads around back to Rogan, along the farming lowlands. It’s not going to be easy. Pip hauls the limping, knocking truck round and back to the fork, and parks. She declares the truck can go no farther.

We rest up, stripping down to get our gear dry over the camp stove. Imagine my surprise when BJ jumps out of the truck to set up a tent to keep modest. We surely don’t feature that in the Marines! Anyway we rig a tent up along the truck body so it’s divided but we can all share the stove warmth, and set watches.

Not long in, Bex comms through again. She’s managed to find a new satmap of the island. Ranui’s got a new coastline! From here on we walk into a world in ruins.

That seemed a good point to call a wrap so we leave our surplus heroes resting up ready for the next challenge. The GM did wonder aloud about our non-use of the RT set in the van. As BJ (DL) said at the time, it cuts both ways. If we destroy it, the gendarmerie has a fair chance to know something bad happened to their patrol. (Thanks AL!) If we leave it, they only know there’s no answer. Likewise if we used it to try to speak to the Bad’n’Ruin, it would give anyone else listening in certainty about our movements. So, on the whole another good session where we didn’t fight the things we didn’t need to fight, but still managed to get into a satisfying fight.

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SH6: Dome City showdown! Surplus heroes Pip v Bex!

Session six kicks off with shopping. You may recall that the GM asked us to think about supplies. Girlie swot that I am, I was the only player to do this. I had already paid for training and tip. I bought a number of survival-type items, ammo for my handgun and carbine, a needler and plenty of practice ammo. I also tucked a few k away as savings.

Having heard what I bought, Pip also purchases a few survival items, while Iceman buys ammo and sets most aside towards heavy combat armour. BJ follows me down the needler route. We will both need time and space to practice.

Spelling: for ‘Roysian’ read ‘Rowsion’ throughout. Widow hears the word as a nasal tone.

Conversations

In the hop to Fellan, the semi-feral planet that marks the waystation to Roysian, the following conversations occur:

Widow, checking on how Dr. Schmidt is enjoying high passage, finds herself [partial fail on Interaction] deep in conversation about Roysian’s seven moons and the research he hopes to do. “Still a system in flux” is something to think about.

Pip finds plenty of common ground with Charo when she talks about kids. It seems that though her body is built for speed she would like nothing better than to settle down with more than 0.5 of a child. CharoUnluckily Dr. Schmidt has already blown his child ration on his previous wife, so the research may be needed to raise their joint allowance… then presumably Charo will lock him down to wedded bliss.

BJ splits his beer stash with father-of-six Bill Guntham. The Gunthams are going to visit the wife’s folks on Roysian 2.

Iceman has more chances to speak to passengers than most, since he is backup steward. He doesn’t use the option. He does ask old Mitch what he’s going to Fellan for, and learns a bit of useful background about the lethal plantlife there.

Cousins

When Pip calls her handle she is called in by her cousin, name of Scopie. They seem real good friends. My sensor array tells me all’s clear so I pass on word to the passengers we’ll be docking on the main Fellan dome soon. Bex works back over sales pitches for the ATV – it’s something she’s hoping to make a good price on here. The ‘luxury goods’ (which are pretty much all whisky) are certain to sell here. As far as I can learn – Bex being busy – she has no plan to buy up any of the local product, which is ground out of the sponge weed plant as a base for cosmetics.

Scopie seems a happy go lucky type, who has somehow goofed his way from wherever he was last employed to head ganger in this expanding spaceport. Some guys just get by on looks I guess. But I’m saying this from what I later heard and saw. Meanwhile I’m back on bridge and watching the landing, on a landing pad that’s kept flamed clear of sponge weed. A trac u pulls the Bad’n’Ruin into a decontam tunnel and she’s scrubbed clean, then we are through to the new starport dome and I send the dc. [Disembark Clearance]

Formalities

We mostly disembark too, though Rhonda stays aboard. Choi heads into the main dome quick. It’s a small port. There’s two other ships in and an empty bay for one more after us. One is a Tukera-flagged ship name of Radius Squared, or r2. The other is a Varag trader – maybe a corsair judging by the array of weapons. [Alertness: Iceman makes natural 20, Widow and BJ roll well above their score.]

Iceman: those guns on the Vargr ship…

Widow: usu?

Iceman: those are the same guns we sold back in Altara

Widow: ksss. Check right, merc guards machi familiar

BJ (wanders over): Natty Chipper uniforms… Tukera ship… are we going to have to hide?

[The rules of the game include the ‘in space no-one can hear you google’ rule which means in this instance it will be a major coincidence of fast travel if someone from either Tukera lines or the Natty Chipper mercenaries has travelled by ship from Pavanne to this point quicker than we have. In any case, we did not quarrel directly with Tukera and not at all with Natty Chipper. So, all good.]

It’s around this time that Pip is chatting to her cousin Scopie (and getting herself and Bex invited to free meal and drinks), and BJ is settling the engines and consarning Pip for the way she yanks the stick, that me and Iceman see three townies heading over from the admin dome the mercs are guarding.

Widow (offers paperwork): Bad’n’Ruin, requesting life support and fuel for the Roysian leg

Hick #1: Ah-hyuk, sure

Hick #2: Yuh see hyar, we got rules, ah-huh

Hick #3: That we does, sure do

Seems like the rules allow as how we’ll be in a mess of trouble if we use anything that could breach a dome, so pulling a face I track back into the Bad’n’Ruin and stow my pistol. Iceman stashes his carbine, pistol and you name it. BJ stashes something in engineering and waves after us.

BJ: say, Choi was back already

Widow (suspiciously): that was quick

BJ: he told me that he spotted some street gangers, Tarans, further over towards the process dome they call Little Altara

Widow: colours?

BJ: just had the look, he said

Central

The whole port holds maybe 250 folk, not including mercs and miners, or farmers as they like to be called hereabouts. Me, if I see a moyss wandering chopping wild plants up for process, he’s a miner. Farmers dig and plant and water and such. But Dome City is built over deep mine workings so maybe that’s why they say different here.

The largest dome is old central, where the best dining post is. That’s where I head, and BJ and Iceman allow as how they’ll tag along. Bex and Pip have already headed in with Scopie since they didn’t have to push papers.

Central is the oldest and biggest dome, plenty of space, and Central Pillar Hotel is machi swanky. Pip Bex and Scopie are already chowing down and yakking it up. I pick a less central table. After we are settled, three Varags introduce themselves. The pack leader is Morgan, the others Israel and Nigel.

Widow: Nigel. Where I come from that is a name of much dignity and fame

Nigel: ? [I can’t tell if the female is lying!]

Morgan: ! [It’s not your real name anyway!]

They are working for an Aslan [lion-like race] who is looking to stake his territory somewhere out by Jesedipere where I saw action against Corsairs, maybe these same. We swap yarns, we agree we might have fought each other a few years back, I pass on our call-sign since we need satisfied repeat business. Nothing much is happening here, and I get the idea there’s maybe gambling later on, but BJ and me need to put in some hours of needler practice so we sign out. Pip and Bex are going well at their table, looks like Bex will have made a profit as expected.

[Bex is an NPC handled by the GM so this is all off-screen. She isn’t able to move the ATV as she hoped but all else goes well.]

Practice and peeking

We find out that as you might expect, the great out-dome is where you go to shoot, so we rent still-suits and go through a familiarity course, then hike back to the Bad’n’Ruin, get the gear and head out. Iceman loads up with laser and pack, since he wants to make sure it’s fully functional. We all three put down a lot of rounds.

Back in the dome, and back at the Bad’n’Ruin, I get to thinking about the Choi boy. Pip comes in while I’m stowing gear, tells me Q4k was pulling aggro from the street kids, seems like they might have known her at that. She’s travelling on to Roysian so I shrug.

It’s a fine thing when your crew-mates don’t like you spying on a rookie. Fills me with something or other. Anyhow once I get Choi safe in town with Rhonda I break into his quarters and toss his bunk and stowage, leaving it all shipshape. Apart from the kind of skin mag I would worry if he didn’t have hidden, he has a whole ID-maker kit and blanks.

Where’s Bex?

The following day while we’re out wasting the local weeds again, I pass on what I found. BJ and Iceman don’t see any reason to take action yet, so we leave it there. When we are finishing up and in decontam, Pip calls me.

Pip: anyone seen Bex?

Widow: not out this way

Pip: I looked all over when I got back to the ship, she’s not here

Widow: why where you been?

Pip: I tried to follow some Aslans then got talking to a Tukera… point is no sign of Bex and no-ones seen her for about four hours

Widow: sensors ain’t gonna pick her up neither

BJ: here’s a wild thought, did you call her?

Pip: she’s off line

Widow: OK grab my armour and Iceman’s armour, meet us at central, work around counter-clockwise to that point

BJ came out wearing his armour on so no need for Pip to fetch it. Maybe ‘cause it gives him more of a chest.

Well, we get to Central Pillar Hotel without seeing hide nor hair, and find she’s playing cards below. I don’t waste no time on cussin’. We stow equipment up at the hat-check desk and me and Pip head down.

High stakes

Bex is sitting pretty with a huge winning pile of creds in front of her. The crowd is pretty thick but I ease through, Pip trailing on my six, and get an idea of the risk. It’s Aramis Holdem, and a hick miner, a Tukera and a merc are sitting in. They all have sidearms.

Widow (sotto voce): it’s real tense. Too many losses, they going to call Bex. If you get the chance, take a hand and start moving the creds around.

Pip gets in Bex’ eyeline so she knows we are here, I stand off the merc so I can stick him before he draws. The Tukera folds after another hand, and Pip asks to sit in. It’s a 3k floor but they are willing to wait, sink a round and get a new deck.

Iceman is told off to fetch the creds, and he calls me to let me know that Taran gangers and admin hicks are both headed to our 20. The hick is the long tall yokel, Narrow is his handle. But he’s not got no reason to fuss, once Pip takes a hand.

Pip: here’s the cash, let’s play

Bex: you think you can take me?

Pip: you pays your money you finds out lady

[The GM runs a simple 2d10 variant of holdem based on gambling skill. Roll secret dice, show one, bet whether you will win, show the other plus skill. Pip rolls, gets double 9s, shows one and bets she will win. But Bex wins on a 6 then 9 - her Interaction must be 9 or lower.

Pip can easily read the yokel (a separate gambling check) and she wins a little, enough so that Bex winning the overall next two hours still leaves her with a small profit. The presence of a new player eases the tension enough. The yokel is cleaned out and the game wraps.]

With our Bex and Pip heading back to the Bad’n’Ruin loaded down with creds it’s right psychic of me to have our gear all ready. BJ Iceman and me armour up load for bear and sit on them in a 3-man, back off the gangers and see them nice and safe aboard. Then I tear a strip off Bex, who is shaking. Then after I’m done Pip and BJ and Iceman say their say. She gets the message.

Fun is had

I don’t see no reason not to enjoy my ownself after a hard day of range work, search and bodyguarding. I head back to the Hotel with the change out of the 500creds I started yesterday with. I get myself into a nice little low-stakes game with a few guys including a good-looking, clean-shave young Tukera name of Andy. A few drinks and a little gambling to put an edge on. Then after the game I take Andy up to one of the Hotel’s suites and whittle him down. Hooraw!

Let’s just wait…

Next day I make my way back to the Bad’n’Ruin with a dirty grin on my face, to find the doggies have gone already and the r2 is being towed out.

BJ: We’re fuelled

Rhonda: I’ve checked the passengers, they’re all aboard

Widow: no new passengers?

Rhonda: no, seems no-one wants to get to Rowsion II from here

Bex: manifest check done, we are good to go

Pip: thought you still rolling round in your cabin on top of that pile of creds

Bex: you can only do that for so long before throwing them up in the air and letting them hit you on the head gets painful

Iceman: I could take away the pain

Pip: and there is Iceman’s best pick up line. Ever.

Widow: so we’re good to go but let’s just wait a while. The doggies with their guns are upstairs. Let’s just make sure they really are gone

To say goodbye is to die a little

We drop out near Roysian and my sensors pick up a wall of shit. [Widow makes a truly awful roll, fails by 6] Schmidt and his system in flux be damned, there’s a whole other universe of drifting junk, asteroids and satellites. It takes me a good long while to get a good read on the system, by which time Miss Heavyfoot is squinching around like she ain’t had a man in months, which come to that is probably true.

[Widow makes a poor sensors roll – luckily this is not a system where pirates hang out – and a repeat roll is barely a partial success. The penalty is time. Pip also needs two rolls to make up for the difference, one for eyeballing the path.]

Finally I get a good beacon and Pip is talked in. We vector through to an outstation in the seven moons. It’s from this depot here we can shuttle down with the cargo. The traffic control tone is firm! No cheesy cousin here.

We get more of the same theme as we handle the protocols on the outstation. It’s rule-heavy, plenty of men in suits or uniforms to watch us. The good news is that our ‘agricultural parts’ move through customs as promised, no problems. We ain’t allowed anything that looks like a real weapon, cept for our knives.

I say goodbye to all our passengers while Iceman watchdogs Bex who handles the selling. Schmidt and Charo roll out quick, the Gunthams slower since they got plenty of kids. Rugman heads out with his rug skewed, finally Q4K and her kid Tangle. I got to chat to her on the last jump one time when the kid had a bad dream about his old man.

Widow: remember – martial arts – ain’t never gonna regret it

Q4K: uh yes, thanks

Widow: and remember sometimes the best way to see your man off is with a gun

Q4K: right, well, goodbye

[Meanwhile there’s lots more happening. The ATV is not a winner but Bex still offloads it, the ground vehicles fetch a good margin, and she makes deals for the alloy that we need to haul back to Altara. Pip sees to life support and fuel: it’s going to be quick, and we could be away in three days (our delivery allowing). Iceman arranges a truck hire down below, and the ‘correctness’ of the guards is reinforced. BJ acts as supercargo.

One challenge the GM throws at us is  to think of a way of getting weapons past the strict Rowsion II security. Aside from smuggling one hideout gun through, I suggest we can open the crates and assemble weapons.]

Trucking

By the time we are ready to take the shuttle down to Roysian, we have a fair handle on who’s doing what and where we and the crates are heading. Bex Rhonda and Choi are safe to be left aboard.

Down at the starport, BJ and me stay with the crates, while Pip and Iceman catch a local ground-cab out to the truck hire. They report plenty of os homi, both paras and town beat. Just about everyone is grounded, only the rich have air rafts.

They arrive back with a truck. Pip jumps down grinning.

Pip: could have cut ten minutes off that time really

Iceman: you said you weren’t going to push the law

Pip: I said I was going to avoid trouble, meaning, I went through quiet streets

Iceman: really fast

Pip: you have met me right

We load up and start listing camping gear we’ll need. It’s a long way out.

So ends our Labour Weekend session. Iceman picked up best roll with double-ought Alertness to spot that the doggy ship is fitted out with the guns he sold. I made my worst ever roll, a 3+2 on sensors. Overall I thought we handled every challenge well, the exception being BJ claiming he would ‘naturally’ armour up after being told Dome Town was not that kind of place. But we didn’t get penalised for it. The need for weapons on Rowsion is yet to be tested.

Next session should see us on the road for a 600k journey to deliver Seddon’s illegal small arms to something illegal, and not one of us with anything larger than a hideout gun. Stay tuned!

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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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