DH 3.01: Intercept

+++++++++++++++++From the data slate of Quintilla Mola+++++++++++++++++

In the Emperor’s Name! We assemble to once more pluck out heresy root and branch.

Scintilla is in grave danger of destruction! And, what appears to be an asteroid also contains xeno-craft and worse than that, signals that seem to originate from the centuries-lost holy Adorjin. Because of this, an intercept team of acolytes led by a member of the Astartes ordos is scrambled together and sent in.

+++++++++++++++++the Characters for this shakeout+++++++++++++++++

Grimm: Judge-tastic iron-jawed Arbiter, played by the chatty guy in our group. Heavy armour, great BS, a couple of really powerful handguns – a bolt pistol and a hand cannon. Poor social skills.

Jahr: Barbaric Guardsman, a feral-world barbarian but beginning to show some engagement with the Imperium. Player owns a rulebook. Heavy armour, lots of big weapons. Lousy social skills and low WP.

Mola: Orthodox Adept, played by yours truly. Good armour, good BS and tends to be lucky with shots. No special social skills, but fair Fellowship. Great WP.

Zarkov: Urbane Tech-Priest, played often for laughs. Great tech based skills, and fair WP and BS.

+++++++++++++++++now, back to the session+++++++++++++++++

We are gathered, after a hasty scramble under Inquisitor guard, in one of the staterooms of the Imperial Cruiser Magnus Ecthelion, currently in high orbit around Scintilla. After sampling nearly the whole supply, Jahr tells us that the Amersac there is high quality liquor. Minutes later a chime sounds and we are face-to-hologram with Captain Safir.

He explains the situation and introduces vast, mighty-armoured Adeptus Astarte Skold Grimpelt, who will lead the interception. The Adeptus draws a command wand from Safir’s holo-sphere and explains the situation.

 

The Twilight: This is the code name given the Object. It appears to ordinary scans as a large asteroid with starships accreted into it.

It is half a day-cycle away from Scintilla.

The Imperial strike force is ready to destroy it. But there is time – just – to search into it, for Adorjin’s transponder, and her holy blade the Luminous Reproach.

Her last signal refers to a fitting end for someone she may have hunted down.

 

Having been blessed with sacred oils, equipped as quickly as possible from the naval supplies to hand, we go to put our hastily-conceived plan into effect.

+++++++++++++++++Remarks+++++++++++++++++

This is a shakeout session after a gap of two years, to refamiliarise with the rules. I can report that I remembered to bring percentile d10, but forgot damage d10 are used as well. More importantly I remembered to stand behind the meat-shield Jahr and to spray automatic fire into melee, since our front-rankers can’t be hurt and it doesn’t worry my character if they are.

It is a heavily, heavily railroaded scenario. Although we do try some ‘planning’ rolls and make a suggestion about altering a route into the Twilight, it makes no difference to events. The scenario rolls along like a side-scrolling console game. And, as soon as Greypelt lets us know he will be along, – “I will accompany you” – Grimm’s player SM cannot take this seriously. It is equivalent to sending L4 D&D characters to tag along with a high-level NPC. Sometimes there’s a point to that, such as betrayal or forcing a difficult moral choice on characters.

+++++++++++++++++And back to the session+++++++++++++++++

The lander Helios, under the paws of our barbaric pilot Jahr, approaches the Twilight.

Helios: energy has been detected—Naval command

The Twilight begins sending blasts of energy out. They could come from the shifting mass or the weirdly shaped xeno craft or ancient Imperial craft agglomerated onto it.

“Dodge?” – Jahr

“I thought ‘dodge’ for a lander was landing, really fast” – Mola

“Dam’ right!” – Greypelt

“I thought I saw another vessel just then” – Grimm

“Yes, I too saw something” – Zarkov

[Mola and Grimm have made Awareness-20 and see that parts of the Twilight shift; and shortly after that Grimm and Zarkov made Awareness-10 and spotted a xeno-craft outlined by blasts of fire]

 

Jahr slams the Helios down [a -10 pilot check] and melta-charges take us through the first layer of the Twilight: we leap across! The mighty form of Greypelt, fully 2.5 meters tall now he is at full height, is armed with power claws. He takes point, followed by Jahr with chain sword, myself with lamp and autopistol, Grimm with Lawgiver and Zarkov with auspex of advanced design. It is Demolition minus 12 hours.

 

Our void suits read breathable atmosphere and the rime of frost on the corridor agrees. We retract face masks, the better to see and signal. We push along the tunnel and into a ruinous chamber, that might once have been a vessel’s hold. Almost immediately we become aware of three flanking creatures: but they move too fast for that to make any difference.

[We begin with a hostile Surprise round, as all the opposing ambushers smoke their Silent Movement check.]

Combat begins

Surprise round: Weird Creature #1, a demon hound, savagely claws Greypelt; WC#2 claws Jahr and WC#3 claws Grimm. The claws pass straight through their massive armour! Grimm uses a fate point to reduce the damage to 5, Jahr decides to suffer his 6.

Initiatives:

  • Greypelt
  • Mola
  • WC#2
  • Zarkov
  • WC#1/WC#3
  • Grimm/Jahr

Round 1: Greypelt splatters his WC with two of three claw hits. Mola levels her autopistol, and fires into melee at WC#2 [all six rounds easily hit and the damage rolls are good]: the dum-dums she uses in it severely injure the beast! Zarkov’s chest-mounted laz flashes out at WC#3, missing, and he calls: “Step away!” to Grimm as he aims his Mauler.

Sadly that gives WC#3 the chance to activate its fear effect: Grimm [fails WP and rolls a dire result roll] panics and turns tail! [also, d5 insanity] The creature gleefully slices him again [another fate point spent]. As Grimm flees Zarkov sees his chance, but the Mauler’s shot is a damp squib, slightly injuring the beast.

Round 2: Jahr finishes the nigh-helpless beast; Grimm recovers his nerve.

Over the next minute Grimm arrives back and Zarkov tends to he and Jahr. [Jahr recovers most of his loss but Grimm is not helped.]

Combat ends

 

By the time Grimm has re-sealed his void suit I have had time to study these creatures. They smack of the warp! One is collared with a bladed collar. Greypelt tells me it is, most likely, a pet of a foul Eldar.

“We are not alone” – Greypelt

“I’ve heard that Eldar come in light variety, not just dark” – Grimm

“Interesting. In all the official reports, we meet only dark Eldar” – Mola

 

Not far further, a massive chasm in the body of the tunnels offers us a chance to penetrate further in. We clamber round: on the far side, a mysterious keel forms one wall, asteroid-like rock another. Zarkov’s auspex picks up a way forward, and we push in, finding a cavern.

Frost forms and a strange semi-opaque small girl-child appears

“You’re all in big trouble” – annoying red-queen like child

I incant a quick Creed, then seeing that it does not recoil, attempt to question it.

“We seek the holy Adorjin, do you know the name?” – Mola

“I’m picking up something residual, it’s hard to say what it is” – Zarkov

The spirit-shape looks sharply up, and we duck for cover.

 

But then… nothing.

 

We stride through decaying rock and crushed transport vessels. It makes me consider how so many lives have ended, unblessed by the Emperor’s rule.

“Just think, if we had endless time and were salvage rats, we could be unearthing a fortune” – Mola

“But then, we would not be dedicating our lives in Imperial service” – Grimm

“Yes, we would be surplus heroes… what about that auspex?” – Mola

“There is something! I’m picking up something from yonder arch… xenos reading!” – Zarkov

 

Combat begins

I signal to the others, drawing a frag grenade. Grimm signals that he will toss a krak grenade first. We count through and Grimm steps to the arch and flips his grenade through, stepping back swiftly: I follow suit. Then I realise that Jahr has his grenade launcher ready!

[Grenade launchers are great but this is a situation where, since you don’t know if there’s a wall a few feet away into the dark room beyond, you just want to flip the grenade softly! But that’s not something that can be explained at the instant.]

Round 0: As Jahr steps up to get Line of Sight, something comes bouncing through our side! We dive for cover! Except Zarkov, who is still well back. And possibly Greypelt, who is probably immune to diving for cover. A weird blast envelops us! [WP – diving for cover made no difference – everyone fails] Mola is startled, Jahr frozen and Grimm flees again, taking more insanity. Jahr takes another insanity point, and it makes no perceptible difference.

Round 1: Mola levels her Carnodon at the arch, expecting a follow-up attack. Zarkov jabs Frenzon into Jahr. Greypelt, immune to fear, barrels through the arch and gets into close combat off-screen.

Round 2: Mola realizes Greypelt has nullified her tactic, and runs after Grimm, changing Carnodon for Frenzon. Zarkov checks the auspex. Jahr snaps into combat readiness, runs to the arch then around the melee where Greypelt is mixing it up with an Eldar. The Eldar, realising it is cut off from retreat, raises a shell-like horn to its mouth and screams into it – blood issues from its mouth!

Round 3: Mola catches up to Grimm, but he has mastered his nerve anyway. Zarkov activates a powerful Feedback Screech, affecting the Eldar somewhat. It fails to dodge Greypelt and bits of it splatter over the combat zone!

Combat ends

+++++++++++++++++Data slate paused+++++++++++++++++

 

Posted in Dark Heresy, Dark Heresy Season 3 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

SH3.08: Ninety degree turn! Surplus heroes out!

 

Mission: Killing Usher Stoll under cover of Imperial supply contract… or is it?

Welcome back to the closing episode of Surplus Heroes! The Bad’n’Ruin has been tempted back, yet again, to Lewis, site of an ongoing invasion by Imperial and Junidi navies. Purely for self-defense the more murderous of the crew have decided to kill Usher Stoll, the instigator of the entire invasion, before his next attempt on their lives succeeds. The trail has led them to Lewis itself where Stoll is having himself be filmed by three major Junidi TV hosts.

The Bad’n’Ruin lands on Base 4 where they have no reason to suppose Stoll and his media stooges anywhere within 22 degrees’ latitude. But who should come shoving into the mess tent but Duncan Fats, one of the three.

So is the GM offering a chance to rewrite the future? Or just a good lead? Widow tells most of the story from here. Third-person narration is in blue.

Widow’s spelling: for Jundy read Junidi, for Krabby read Klackon and for Varag read Vargr. Other mis-spellings are accidental but represent common usage, not just Widow.

 

The ninety-degree turn

I ain’t come strapped so there ain’t no lupara to grab. Telepersonality Duncan Fats keeps rollin’ in and catches sight out us sinking bourbon and makes over to a nearby table, signaling for the same hooch.

fats_peace_out

Right behind Fats comes not security nor Stoll, but a couple TV types, a Jundy woman clutching an organizer, the other an ordinary looking Taran.

Duncan Fats [slams back first shot]: Damn! I can’t believe this life! Duncan Fats is the most important news personality in the sector and what, I ask, is Duncan Fats doing?

Junidi editor-producer Annie: Duncan…

DF [slams second shot down]: Duncan Fats is following Usher Stoll around, giving him face time on meaningless puff pieces! Base 5! Base 5! There was a news story! Was Duncan Fats in the front line showing the universe the face of war? No Duncan Fats was not! By the time he got to Base 5, Duncan Fats was in time to cover carcasses being bulldozed! Where’s the news angle on that!?!

Widow [leans in to other three at her table]: This our chance – we go to the real story, OK?

DF: And what is out itinerary for the next day??

Taran technician Targ: Err…

DF [sinks third shot]: Do you not do rhetorical in Nasemin? This is our itinerary! Duncan Fats is yet again covering Usher goddam’ Stoll at an event calculated to make Stoll look like the man most likely to get next birthright! There’s no story!

Widow: You want a story, we got a real story!

Targ [moving over, at Annie’s signal]: What’s the problem?

Widow: Was just hearing your Fats sayin he don’t got no story. Well we got a story is all

Targ: So what’s the story?

Widow: The story of what really happened on Lewis

Targ: Why would we want to listen?

Widow: This our third mission on Lewis, do the math

Well Targ is his handle and he does do math, looks right calculatin and asks us some questions about the trips and the second one especially, and the drone Stoll used. BJ answers that. Then Targ heads back over to Fats’ table. In a mite the Jundy producer woman heads over, her handle is Annie.

producer_annie

She wants to hear the real story from the get-go, no hintin and holdin’ out. I say to Pip, I do the lead on this you back me up about Rogers stuff.

 

Widow’s tale

I wrote this up a few minutes before half time Broncos vs Patriots, just in case the situation came up that we needed to have our story straight accusing Stoll (or his corpse) in front of everyone. The parts in this color are lies.

“Fetterman expedition discovered that Klackon got advance tech, including rays that disintegrate metal. One ship got clear and passed the information on via the Rogers family but the logs were corrupted to make it look like Krabbies are stone age.

“Stoll supervised the entire forging operation and knew all along about the real Krabbies.

Since we got us a Rogers in our crew, we realized something was wrong. Back on our first trip to Lewis, Commander Tone paid some of us – but not Pip here – to help investigate the crashed ship Sharon Challenger. Later, once Pip recollected some Rogers family lore, we put two and two together and smelt a rat.

“We didn’t realize Stoll was behind the cover-up, until he tried to get us killed, on our second trip. If he’d just left us alone, we wouldn’t have cared!

“Stoll’s visit that time led directly to the Klackon assault. We need him dead – ehh – we need him exposed not just on our own behalf but in memory of all the Jundy U staff that died so he could steal a planet!”

[With Pip helping Widow scores +2 on persuasion in the Annie stage of the interviews.]

Annie got her a mile of questions, and she gets to hear BJ’s survival yarn out of Psyadi med wing. Could be she remembers some stories she heard along the way too, that fit with what we’re saying. When I invite them back to the Bad’n’Ruin she agrees and they all three come with us.

 

Back aboard we make them welcome in the rec room and they meet Ralph. Choi keeps shy, but Bex comes in during proceedings and gets to hear a mite more about Stoll than we rightly intended, only she don’t look surprised.

 

The hook is set

We go over the whole thing again with Duncan Fats listening and drinking Iceman’s coffee, the story stays solid – well it is 90% true – and Fats takes the hook. The clincher seems to be, can we get back to the drone Stoll used to tell us he screwed us over.

Duncan Fats: Duncan Fats will run with it. If there’s solid evidence. Duncan Fats is sure there’s time. Annie?

Annie: Yes you have DB5 Duncan, that’s locked, then in a day’s time it’s back to DB1, then the following day the commemorations begin.

DF: Duncan Fats is sure we can work with this. We’ll need plausible evidence, that’s your job… Widow was it

Widow: We’ll need a media pass

Annie: In fact though I’ll need to be at DB5 with Duncan, Targ need not be

Targ: You have a launch obviously

BJ: Obviously

Targ: We’ll head over to beach zero, locate this drone you say is probably still there, it’ll all be booked as principle footage

Widow: You got a flak vest, kid?

Targ: Er, yes’m, they give us some armor with PRESS on it

Widow: Perfect, Pip here been dependin on that her whole life til just recent

Pip: The armor, not the PRESS bit

Widow: Haw, press she wishes

Pip: YOU wish you fill out a t-shirt

Bex [telepathically]: Feel your emotions, my young apprentice, let your anger build…

bex_pip_disciple

Beach zero and the bot

Targ has a word with Choi about how to find the drone, then leaves to ready his gear and Annie and Duncan leave to go about their normal business. Over the next couple of hours:

Widow and Pip trace a course to get to the DB1 area, and beach zero and the Sharon Challenger;

BJ and Iceman prep and stock the launch.

Then Targ returns and the five – Ralph is now included since he knows the sites and is deeply involved – board the launch with him and armor up.

Everyone is wearing heavy loadout, and BJ is even using his combat assault armor! We don’t bring every single Gauss weapon, because Widow needs to bring her med kit and the M41A is a better combination with it.

[Pip +2 small craft, Widow +9 on sensors. The launch has full military spec sensors, allowing Widow to tell giant marsupial from Klackon.]

We get to beach zero since Targ allows as how finding Stoll’s butler-bot is the main step. He allows, too, that we oughta get some kind of low-power battery signal out of even a smashed drone. It’s kind of a guess but no harm, I figure. I tell Pip land alongside the ruin at end of beach, so the launch can’t be picked out of the clutter.

BJ brung his laz-rifle so sits back atop the ruin covering the beach. Ralph goes point in his fancy new Varag armor. Targ’s covered amidst us, filming his shots. We head to the burnt-out air raft. It’s a mite buried, but we was above high water so only drifting sand to deal with. I’m using the locator to check for mines, Iceman being paranoid that way. But we get to the ‘raft and step out the showdown for Targ. A quarter-hour later we’re turning over bits of armor and using sensors to find electronic signals. Targ’s using his standard-issue carbine as probe, and bangs down on something sounds promising.

Half an hour of digging and me and Iceman haul the butler-bot out. Targ takes his shots and we take it to the launch and clear out.

While Pip’s looping back to the Challenger site, Iceman gets me to sift the bot for explosives. Then Targ pulls a solid state feed memory out, looks mighty pleased like he guessed the lottery.

 

Sharon Challenger and a scoop

The Challenger site got Jundy marines all over it, some digging or operating haulers. Looks like they aim to haul the ship out a mite, or level it.

Widow: OK, time to get the story straight. Targ here with PRESS on his chest? He’s press. Got it? Us, with the weapons and armor, we’re his guards, got that? And we’re all here doing, what is you call it Targ?

Targ: Principle shooting

These are Marines though Jundy types, and I get through the normal Marines bullshit to the site CO, a lieutenant, no problem. The story works fine.

[The GM does not require Widow to try any rolls, probably as the reward for getting a true story as cover for what we are doing.]

We walk Targ through the Sharon Challenger’s floors and BJ gives him the up close and personal about the disintegrated holes, all the way through to the bridge. I can tell Targ is a hundred percent more into this story than before. I take him to where Tone found the log book and talk a mite about the Commander’s death and the ‘ruin’ as we thought back then.

Targ’s keen to take him a look so we clear it with the LT and walk Targ over there with two marines escort. It’s still there! I guess no-one really figured to find it and Krabbies got no reason to salvage it.

Targ [tense]: This is a scoop, the way I see it. We can get footage here way ahead of the others. Say, guys [to the two marines, and peeling down to his money belt] here’s 500 each, how’s about you keep quiet about this and there’s another 500 after we broadcast in a couple days.

Marine: Thanks, uh, Taran Press guy, but we’re rostered off this duty tonight

Targ: Give me your unit and numbers, my station will get you the money

Marine: Deal

Widow: OK let’s head down, I can show you the lander bays easy

Marine [nervous]: Do we need to be down there?

Widow: No, you two stay up top and watch landside for anything. Smaller team the better in the tunnels

We take no more than four hours of Targ shooting then Pip heads us to DB4 in the launch. We rendezvous with Annie and she allows as how now we got real evidence they gonna put the story out. I allows as how it’s gotta be a real pitch so we know what we got and what to give, and they want the real diary so we gotta discuss that private. Once Annie and Targ gone I call bridge meeting.

 

Votes

There’s a lot to discuss but we have five heads of discussion, each needing a vote.

Preliminary vote: BJ identifies the primary topic which is, do we trust Annie and Targ? Overall, it’s a yes, whether because of their greed or because of Fats’ ego or whatever.

That being decided we can decide on the four elements:

  1. Our visibility
  2. Stoll’s survival
  3. Release of the original log book
  4. How we get out

The voting is:

  1. Yes, the members that were involved on Lewis expeditions can be filmed. The more visible we are in the story the less worthwhile it becomes for anyone to get rid of us
  2. Yes, Stoll will be neutered or disgraced and we will be gone, so there’s no need to risk assassinating him
  3. Provisionally Yes, given that we trust the media team we can get by with a copy, once we hear what they pitch us
  4. The Bad’n’Ruin is ready (Bex and Choi haven’t just waited around) and will leave directly the deal is made and all footage of us is taken, on a dry run to Patinir then to Natoko in Aramis Core, an ideal place to sell the ship and drift on with new IDs to the next sector. Bex will file a slightly bogus civilian flight plan.

There’s a few hours before we are meetin up with Fats so we get to the PX, copy the log and such, resupply with any spare ammo or odds and ends we ain’t got yet, and ready up.

[This allows us to agree that any minor stuff can be assumed to be aboard if we need it later.]

 

Deal!

Aboard, we host Annie Fats and Targ in the rec room again. Duncan Fats seems to have a piece to say so I ask him to pitch it to us.

Duncan Fats: A remarkable story. Duncan Fats will run this as an ambush interview. Usher Stoll will be in frame as standard angle [he frames it with his hands] doing the ship decommissioning. Duncan Fats will segue to ‘there’s evidence of advanced weaponry’ then Stoll will stall, then Duncan Fats will show the log book! Then [he gestures dramatically to Targ]

Targ: I cleaned this and like I hoped…

[the ‘gloating vid’ plays, Usher Stoll incriminates himself]

Iceman [slaps Targ’s back]: You fucking genius!

Widow [checks around, gets nods] OK, we agree, you can interview us

Annie: We’ll get a live set here, it’s real background and we can work with the acoustics. We already have library footage of interviews on Psyadi, I did some digging before we got here and we can assemble it all as intense filler and evidence

annie_deal

Iceman: You gonna post that out early, right… don’t want to have Stoll’s goons lock you up

Annie: No problem, we’ll have most of it assembled tomorrow and the existing scoop will go out in advance. Heroes of Psyadi is already a thing, we just didn’t have faces and names – and now we do! Duncan’s shoot with Stoll will go in the can live and be posted up on site

BJ: Just remember Stoll is a slippery…

Pip: …Utter Stool

Widow: And his guys are hard. He got two, both real bad

Annie: Oh, no, he routinely travels with three men

Targ: And two police-spec drones

 

The interviews take all night. I hear Pip arranges originals to be returned to the Rogers family once the station done with them, it’s a good cover detail.

In between that and sleeping, me and Iceman and BJ and sometimes Pip and Ralph jaw about the idea of waiting off from ground zero about two klicks with the drones a-ready. BJ allows as how he could maybe go in as close protection for Fats, then knife Stoll. It gets serious enough I call another vote.

I get Iceman and BJ to explain to Bex and Choi, then we swing to a vote right smart. Pip and me, we say nay, BJ and Iceman say yay, Ralph says yay and Choi says nay, so Bex casts the decider and no surprise, she says nay.

[Awkward having the GM casting three of the seven votes, but we all agreed they were predictable so it went by smoothly enough.]

 

Bad’n’Ruin, vector out

It’s jump day and ground zero day, and Bex has filed her bullshit flight plan. Once we up, I run sensors in case the Quiet Hand is gunning for us again. Plenty of traffic but nothing bad.

Widow: All clear, looks like

BJ: Let’s stick around as long as we can, I got to get this recorded personal like

Iceman: I get the front seat

Pip: The broadcast is starting, I’m throwing feeds through, you coming? BJ and Iceman getting the good seats

Widow: Sure, be there soon

widow_last

It’s a team thing so I don’t aim to be long. I just send me a direct cast to the Deacon Jones, personal to Hamish: the coordinates for a portside bar on Natoko and telling him to light a shuck. Then I head down to the rec room and the big screen.

 

With the Bad’n’Ruin cleared for vector out of system the crew gather to watch the live feed out of ground zero. It goes pretty much to Fats’ script. Stoll goes to the ‘wide-eyed conspiratorial wingnut’ explanation but the evidence keeps coming. Later when BJ plays the slomo he will see Stoll’s expression change each time Fats plays the next gotcha. On the third gotcha – the gloating – Stoll and his JTD heavies order the interview cut but by that time the other media faces are scenting blood and mobbing Stoll’s exit path.

 

With a closing huge Pilot and Engineer check, the campaign comes to a close, except for:

 

Training

It’s two legs of training and a dry hump, so I put in plenty of time in the gym and I’m diamond hard by the time we make Natoko. I gonna be bouncing Hamish off the walls. BJ picks up computers fine too, and I guess Choi ready to take his engineer ticket as soon as he decides which ID he runnin as. Pip gets her witch on and can find out intention and other witches. Iceman the only one looks down about it – I guess. Ralph tells him to come drink it off and plan what skin color he getting.

[It’s a throwaway with no relevance unless we come back as NPCs, but yes, three of us roll extremely high. Widow ends up with Athletics 9, Pip gains her basic Psionics level, and BJ gains computer proficiency. To go with his new ID, Iceman will need that remedial skin treatment to regain pigmentation.]

 

And a footnote

About a week after our arrival as we ticking off the sale – 8M each though more to Bex and a fat bonus to Choi and Ralph – Pip shows me a small print column that reads:

Fociline personality Usher Stoll dies

The body of impresario and sometime investor Usher Stoll has been found in his [placename] address. Police are not seeking any other individual in connection with the death.

Thanks for reading and if you have stuck with it over the three seasons, you are awesome! It’s hard to follow any AP where you don’t know the rules intimately, and this is a homebrew.

The Caseless homebrew will no doubt be dusted off again, but for a different style of campaign I gather. These characters reflected the ex-military backgrounds the rules provide, the next lot may be all civilians.

Thanks to the highly esteemed SM for running this campaign and in particular GMing on the fly when the entire plan was thrown out as soon as Widow got a chance to speak!

Next our group moves to a darker future as we pick up our Dark Heresy characters for their third season in the Emperor’s service! That will be in about a fortnight. Until then, stay tuned!

 

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SH3.07: Pitcher to the well! Surplus heroes hunt Usher Stoll!

Welcome back! To prepare us for this session, our GM warns us straightforwardly that he expects a plan to emerge.

A plan? Yes, a plan! It is one thing to agree that Usher Stoll should die before he kills us, or to agree that we shoot him as soon as we see him, it is another to commit murder, get away, and enjoy prosperity thereafter.

Sections of the narrative that relate only to the conspirators are in this color.

Current mission: on Aramanx on Imperial contract, awaiting re-supply

Covert mission: get Usher Stoll before he gets us!

The surplus heroes for this session:

BJ, a man of parts – some artificial – on engines

Choi (NPC) a man of many possibilities – all forged – on engines

Pip, a woman of family, on helm

Widow, a woman of low tastes, on sensors & comms

Iceman, a colorful character – mostly blue – on guns

Assisted by the NPCs Bex, purser and Pip’s cousin, and Ralph the Vargr, steward

 

One path must be taken

Widow calls a bridge meeting to clarify where we go from here. All but Pip Bex and BJ are aware of another agenda, namely to kill Usher Stoll before he kills us.

The two main options are to sell up now on Aramanx and work on how to collect the money from whichever trader company we sell to; or keep moving through the Lewis bonus contract on to the Aramis core worlds where we can sell up and cash up directly.

The advantages to the first are that we would not be heading to Lewis; and could more easily evade Heguz trackers. The disadvantages are that we would still need to arrange collection of money and stay in the sector the Beyavins [and Stoll] know us to be in.

The advantages to the second are that we would collect a nice bonus for Lewis [and be able to attempt Stoll’s life]; would move to a great place to sell up and cash up; and be on a trade lane where we could move off to a completely new sector well away from hunters. The disadvantages are firstly Lewis itself and secondly that the longer we stay together in the Bad’n’Ruin the greater the chances are of being tracked down.

riskmargin

Bex explains the first option; BJ explains the second option, and (to his surprise) finds himself well supported. In fact once these become clear as the options and Widow calls the vote, only Pip and Bex vote for the first option.

With the vote decided, Bex volunteers to arrange a good cargo for Lewis, but will need another day;

BJ and Choi will continue ship prep and Choi will keep studying for his engineer’s ticket;

Pip will study the dark arts;

Widow will advertise a major drinking session as her bridal shower

widow1ktab

Iceman will be organizing the ‘kill squad’ and to do this pulls the conspirators aside in the bar Widow chooses, an NCO bar.

 

At the bar

The conspirators gather the first round of drinks and lean in closer. We agree that we’ll need to get information on Stoll once we are on Lewis, and the media he brought with him will be filing stories or at least be a way of tracking him. Pessimistic about the chances of sniping and escaping, Choi thinks about using drones to make the hit. Since anything with the drones will need BJ, we’ll need to bring him in. And in general terms, blowing Stoll up by using drones as IEDs will work better than sniping. Iceman is deputized to bring BJ on board.

Leaving Widow setting up a 1k tab with the house, Iceman heads back to the Bad’n’Ruin and finds BJ working by himself.

Iceman works through the drones to why we need to get rid of Stoll before he gets us. BJ is on board with that, though using the drones is a wrench. But if we use the drones for guns or explosives, why not install a microfusion power plant in each that will completely evaporate a wide area and not leave ‘signature’ traces? However they agree that the uncertainty of the timing, and the collateral damage, make this a lesser choice than just installing a fair amount of explosive.

BJbullshit

[The GM explains that for bombs, the Personal Weapon Armorer and the Technician skills will be needed]

Pip’s meditations are interrupted by a chime from Widow. After some wheedling Pip agrees to join the shindig.

Pipstudy

About four hours into the drinking Widow gets a chime from Bex. The Deacon Jones is in port! With a scream, Widow blunders out, weaving badly. Pip hurries after her to lend a steadying hand or lift hair out of the face at appropriate moments.

Hamish is already aboard the Bad’n’Ruin. Bex and Pip discreetly withdraw. Hamish fends off Widow, and guides her to her bunk.

widowout

In the NCO bar the party continues through the day.

 

The following dawn, Bex tells us she has found cargo and she stipulates another 24 hours in port before we can ship out.

The conspirators plan what will be needed. The probability of needing the launch for getting the drones near Stoll forces their hand, and Widow invites Pip to join.

As expected she is cool towards the idea. She leans on the thought that this will be a one-shot and the company will move through to Aramis.

 

Tasks for the day

BJ and Pip go looking for a bent QM in the WO bar, and after playing cards

PipDiceMaster

(and losing) meet the unscrupulous Andy. BJ and Pip take care to frame the need in terms of fighting Klackons. Andy supplies them with 2kg of C4 for 2k.

[A good many rolls are rolled, mostly for gambling but also direct interaction. Pip scores well – that’s why she was added to this task]

As a bonus, the pair learn there are eight Marine bases on Lewis, and that the second wave will be landing after supremacy in the air is guaranteed.

Widow goes looking for comms gear that will extend the guide/control range of the drones on a planet that has no comms grid. She finds her way over to the media bar and from there to ‘wire central’ in the hotel set up in the base. She approaches the first tech she sees for the gear and he asks for 700. A few hours later Widow carries the gear back.

Choi scrounges control and trigger circuits so that, with the comms gear, the drones will behave like remote-control shooter game pieces.

Iceman does the preliminary work needed to assess the drones. [Good prsnl wpn amr check]

 

Meanwhile:

Agent Wells chimes Pip and asks for a lift. Pip puts him off, saying she will need to ask the full crew. Pip broaches the request as soon as everyone is back.

Pip: Wells chimed, he wants a lift on to Lewis

Omnes: No!

Widow: We’ll all be working out in plain sight

Iceman: Tell him every time we take someone to Lewis we land in shit

Pip: Say BW you got comms gear there

Widow: Uh huh

Pip [giggles]: I was just looking through my effects and found a long-range comms unit

Choi: See – you’d know that if ya strip-searched her room

Widow [formally]: I am corrected

[Since Widow mentioned bringing Choi on as partner (Ep 3.5) she has treated him differently, in her own mind. The actual partnership is moot since the company is about to break up.]

 

Ready for Lewis!

The Bad’n’Ruin is loaded and ready, about 48 hours longer than optimal. Prior to launch, Iceman makes a patrol, finding nothing out of place.

On the ship’s bridge, Pip checks the media feeds for Lewis news just in case something new has come through or is off, or both. It’s all boilerplate good news.

With planetary control railing at her ill-timing Pip jockeys the Bad’n’Ruin towards the allotted zone. Widow notices that comms are down – probably jammed! Running sensors she finds another vessel on a potential intercept. Pip calls battle stations!

QuietHandAmbush

[Pip’s pilot check is a little under. Both Widow’s checks, Alertness and sensors, are +2]

Iceman makes to gun turret 1, and in a surprise move BJ instructs Choi to stand in as engineer while he makes to turret 2.

 

Ship combat!

The objective for the BnR is to gain a ‘finish line’ which represents a jump solution. The enemy objective is to board or terminate.

Round 1: Choi feeds power to Engines, Pip carries the Helm for extra velocity, Sensors get no lock, so there is no point shooting. The pursuit ship, the Quiet Hand, pour efforts into velocity as well, no shot exchanged.

Round 2: Engines power to shields, Helm to velocity, Sensor lock is fine, Iceman launches all three ready missiles, BJ’s gunnery misses. The Quiet Hand boosts power and helm for velocity and maneuver, and whips around in such a tight arc they would miss us if not corrected. They get sensor lock and hit once, damaging the BnR’s missile launch capability.

Round 3: BnR’s missiles arrive near the QH, but only one does any damage, very minor. Engines continue powering shields, Helm gains more velocity towards the jump solution, but there is no sensor lock so no shooting. The QH boosts velocity again and get relatively close. They get sensor lock and degrade BnR’s shields by 2 (out of 10) and damage the maneuver drive.

Round 4: Keeping their momentum [edge] the QH feeds engine power to guns, gains sensor lock, and degrades armor and disables turret 1. On the BnR the engineers have both gone to fix the maneuver drive [great repair roll] and with Helm helping velocity the maneuver drive comes back onstream and powers the BnR to the jump solution.

[The GM rolls a number of extremely good rolls on the Quiet Hand’s behalf. It isn’t all just poor rolling by the BnR crew]

 

In jump

The maneuver drive is given full repairs, and the missile launch array is repaired, which takes a little while. Pip then helps BJ on repairing turret 1, while Iceman Widow and Choi work on pieces of the IEDs.

Bex is curious! And Iceman fails to ease her bump of curiosity! And Widow’s repartee falls flat: she falls back on the empty threat of physical harm to get privacy.

widowbullies

By the end of the fortnight everything is as ready as it can be.

 

Lucky over Lewis

The Bad’n’Ruin drops out over Lewis and Widow expertly scans, picking up even more wreckage than earlier times. It’s time to start looking for media feeds that might lead to Stoll. [double-ought on comms!] She filters through large amounts of infotainment-level media, through in-clear military commands, down to commendation bulletins, and there finds an itinerary for Stoll to wreath-lay at ‘ground zero’ or Lewis Base 1, the old University site. Stoll will have three well-known Junidi media personalities with him:

  • Rachel En, rachelEn
  • Tara Hislof, and
  • Duncan FatsFats_Tara

This ceremony is to take place in 3 days’ time.

 

Base 4 and fries

[The GM rolls a d8 to determine at which base our supplies are needed]

Pip gets strict instructions on a vector down and course to Base 4. [She makes a decent landing roll] The base seems quiet: it’s a highlands clearance of about a square kilometer. Properly-sited and defended guns guard all approaches, including aerial.

Pip: For the launch, Base 1’s not gonna be too bad a step

Widow: Parceira! That why we bring you in

high five

A Marine QM boards and supercargoes see to unloading almost immediately. The QM is armed, but assures us things have been quiet for a few days, and air superiority is certain. But it sounds as though they were told the Klackons have only stone-age tech, to begin with. Since the landing they have learned. They also discovered that Klackons can sustain an attack for as long as 48 hours.

Finally, he notes that the Bad’n’Ruin may well be on-posted before fueling and any fresh cargo.

 

Most of the conspirators hit the bar. We get good fry-cook prepared leftovers and some bourbon, both a good change of pace after jump-space.

Separated from the hard-working cooks by a chunk of tent interior, we conspire about how close we need to get to ground zero. The launch will need to get within 2k.

As we talk, the lead fry cook starts wiping down ready for a new table.

Widow: Looks like you got more coming

Cook: Yeah, mystery guest

Widow: Let’s stay on, it could be someone sexy

Cook: Yeah whatever…

 

Duncan Fats enters the tent.

fats_peace_out

Widow feels down her hip for a holstered weapon…

 

 

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SH3.06: Pitcher to the well! Surplus heroes tempted back to Lewis!

Welcome back to this half-session! The first half of the session covered our rescue of Bex. This half deals with shipping to Aramanx and the general plot to get Usher Stoll before he gets us.

Two players’ characters, Pip and BJ, are not in on the detail of the plot, so at times they had to listen politely while machinations continued around them.

If you haven’t read over our earlier exploits, Lewis is the home planet of the Klackons, an aquatic race. Usher Stoll has engaged in a long-term plot to wrest its wealth, unfortunately at our expense. Purely for self-preservation he needs to be dead.

 

The surplus heroes for this session:

Widow, sensors & comms on the Bad’n’Ruin and somewhat accidental ringleader of the lethal plot

Iceman, gunner on the Bad’n’Ruin and enthusiastic member of the plot

Ralph (NPC), steward on the Bad’n’Ruin and member of the plot

Choi (NPC), computers on the Bad’n’Ruin and new member of the plot

Pip, pilot on the Bad’n’Ruin, playing with her accursed occult power

BJ, engineer on the Bad’n’Ruin, playing with his new assault armor

Bex, purser on the Bad’n’Ruin, weighing the odds

 

Thoughts for the future

We all set to light out of Altara once we load in a few consumables, mainly ammo and that good Jundy coffee. Iceman ain’t fully right but nigh enough. All we need is payload. I call bridge meeting.

Widow: You all got a sense of what we been through

Iceman: I got a sense of that yeah

HeguzBeyvans

Widow: So… Heguz. Thoughts?

BJ: Just pushin it right out the wildest thing we could do is try to hit that Overbluff

Pip: Dubgee, yeah

Widow: Yep, only he got the spaceport sowed up, we ain’t got a prayer

Choi: Thanks for bringing me in, and yeah long term my idea is to split up under new IDs

Ralph: Will take a whiles before Dubgee hears his people ain’t got the job done

Widow: But then it won’t take long to track along the trade lines an’ find us again. I gotta say I like Choi’s plan. An’ on’y right to warn you-all, I plan to sell out my share anyhow

Choi: Speaking of cashing out, splitting includes selling the BnR, our papers are way good now. Remember the original plan was to run it long enough to make our papers look convincing then sell? We there now

[BJ riffs for a while on how bodged-up the Bad’n’Ruin is and how we will need to completely overhaul it]

repairsneeded

 

Toting what?

A Navy QM boards and insouciantly hands over the manifest. The cargo is large crates, carrying X247 missiles, though the QM does not stay on to discuss what those are. The crate size does not help: the lading bill has no quantity so they might be many shoulder-launched missiles, or a few ship-to-ship missiles.

The Bad’n’Ruin jumps [Pip making a swell Pilot check] and a week elapses.

Training routines:

Pip is taught the dark arts by Bex. RogersSith Iceman volunteers to refit BJ’s assault armor so that he can use his blade with it. BJ studies infrastructure to extend his engineering skills. Choi continues studying for his engineer’s ticket and Widow continues working out in the gym.

 

Onto Aramanx

The Bad’n’Ruin drops out nicely over Aramanx. Widow runs the sensors efficiently [+2] picking up far fewer military craft than last visit, but plenty of civilian craft. She heads off the bride to take a last walk-through before customs and Navy board, and Pip switches on media feeds and pipes them round.

Aramanx news:

Within the last 48 hours brave formations board their craft, accompanied by stirring music. They are both Junidi and Imperial. Important faces tell us they are going to take a first foothold on Lewis. One of the important faces is Usher Stoll. He appears to be speaking from an Aramanx station.

stoll

Aramanx orbital hands Pip a vector for atmosphere and landfall on the Isle of Banerjee, off the continent of Lowestowe.

Pip lands the Bad’n’Ruin sweetly inside a 20km square compound on the isle, alongside plenty of other civilian vessels.

As the ship is readied, Widow uses the time to check in with Ralph and Iceman to make sure they are still OK with the plan. They are.

 

Ideas?

I leave Ralph and Iceman and head through to the rec room, late since the Navy QM port-side has already been aboard a while. Mmmm, Navy. Snuggle in between those cheeks and pucker up. Sure enough, Pip an’ BJ are just comin up for air. Bex is sitting by.

QM: So the cargo checks, we’ll unload it immediately

Widow: Ola

QM: Uh yeah, formalities complete, thanks for the coffee, I’ll be heading off

Widow: Before you go, got a brochure or something give us the rules?

QM: Sure, usual thing, this is a Navy base, so private supplier crew are to obey Imperial law, also not expected to wear combat gear around base. Or weapons. We pay our own ranks to do that

Widow: Roger that

QM: By the way did someone tell you about the bonus for Lewis? There’s a premium for cargo to Lewis, seems some of the other traders are antsy, which is silly because the victory of the glorious empire is…

Widow: What size premium?

QM: 50%

Widow: Now we got something to think about, have to run it by our purser

Bex: Wellll… it would make…ka_ching

Pip: Not right now, we’ll let you know within 24 hours

 

Once Navy gone I get with Choi Iceman and Ralph and explain the plan to Choi

Choi: So not so much a plan as a homicidal intent

Widow: So you OK with that

Choi: Hmm yeah I guess I am. I better move the new IDs up my schedule though

Widow: Good, now jump on your computer, find where Stoll talk next

Iceman: About how smart he is, most like

Ralph: And what rubes we are

 

On Base Banerjee

Pip heads out to chat to the work crews, just being her usual sunny self but trying to find out what kind of cargo would be delivered to Lewis. [Scoring a -1 on Interaction] They refer to a ‘second wave’ which will supposedly leave in about a fortnight.

Pip heads back, determined to use all this vacant real estate to experiment with her small craft skills, but BJ restrains her before she can take the Baby Ruin out.

 

I head out alone to see what the place got. The QM allowed as how the usual Navy set-up is here, and I find the PX no problem. After I buy me the odds and ends a girl needs, I head to the nearest other-ranks bar. Crew there allow as how they all second-wave. I guess Scout service will be letting the brass know how first wave gets on. Or else Krabbies will.

I ship over to a swankier bar, mainly Jundy types in it. I end up at a friendly table, talking about second-wave stuff. They mostly allow as how they be training for maritime duty, so I give them my best reckon on how fast a Krabbie swims. That naturally gets them askin me about my Lewis service, so I give them the outline of the first time I got my ass chased outta there. We talk about birthright, since I know how to make a Jundy sit up. I allow as how a friend of mine is Pip Rogers and might like to know more. They ask me to describe her so I describe Bex, only better. One gato hands me a chime number and asks can she call him. I stick it away.

They lappin it up and like to tell me aught, so I step away and chime the others.

Widow: Anyone? I got me a good line to some Jundy types, only I can’t think what to ask. Any ideas?

Pip: Just ask about Stoll, but not blurty

I head back to the table and my new Jundy friends, and kind of wheel the talk around to big names claiming fame and they drop what they heard, which is Stoll already gone to Lewis. With a swarm of media.

A couple more drinks and I’m ready to go but on my way out I run into Agent Wells! He stands me a shot to celebrate not being dead, and I’m getting pretty cut. My face feels like one big flush. Even Wells is getting to look fine. We talk about birthright and how much someone settling on Lewis is like to get.

Wells: So, where are you headed after this?

Widow: Saaa…. widow2manyshots

Wells: Oh ahum, well here’s my chime number

Widow: Hehhh

Widow heads out, sticking Wells’ number with the other.

That seemed a good place to leave it, a little early but ready for the Bad’n’Ruin to decide to chase Stoll into Lewis… the one place the crew planned never to return to!

 

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3.05.5 Bex snatched! Surplus heroes to the rescue! (Escape phase)

Last session ended during combat as the surplus heroes invade a private villa where hostile Beyavins are thought to be holding Bex. So we pick up with Round 3. Iceman is down but can slowly move (his condition is ‘limping and dragging’) and Pip has but just now swapped her handgun for his assault rifle. Very near these two, who are at the inner courtyard’s entrance, Widow is striding forward. Ahead of all three, Ralph has scurried to the dubious cover of a raised ornamental water trough. All four are becoming aware that a mezzanine floor overhangs the courtyard. And finally off on Ralph’s left flank BJ has backed a defender off with a long burst from his M41 assault rifle and has followed up into the doorway of a largish room.

VillaGround3

Round 3: Pip hops over Iceman [her player proudly reports that she has been using him as cover while checking his injury] and back-pedals right, to where she’s a target from only a limited arc of the mezzanine. From that corner she has a good view of the courtyard and lets BJ and Ralph know she’s covering them. Iceman for his part drags himself painfully towards the entry and fair cover. Seeing Pip’s maneuver Widow steps hard left and into the small chamber BJ first found shelter in and scans around with her locator [+6 on sensors]. The display shows some stairs on the left, a hostile way off in the corner of BJ’s room, and a vehicle beyond Pip’s flank in a parking bay or garage. And another hostile above and behind BJ. BJ shoots again at the hostile in his space, dropping him, and leaps back outside the room. Ralph stays low as he works his way along the trough, gains the top corner, and calls ‘stairs, right’.

Round 4: A splash of needler fire tinkles around Pip from the mezzanine floor opposite, but she has noticed the source [+1 Alertness], and zips back further into cover. Back at the entry, Iceman has now painfully rolled into cover. He is leaking blood steadily and the entry has a broad blood trail on it, as well as the blood and fluids of the two hostiles put down in first ingress. Widow, calling what the locator has shown, and for Ralph to hold position, runs across the courtyard corner to the larger room BJ just leaped out of and assesses the wall that must support the stairs. It looks like an interior wall that an assault rifle could just shoot through. BJ reloads and steps back into the room and along; another arch at that end will let him whip back out to the courtyard and round to the stairwell easily.

Round 5: Pip gains line of sight on the hostile above and opposite, and sends an accurate C burst at him, forcing him back hastily. [The button drops to 1 but the target makes his armor check] She bolts out of hiding and runs towards the stairs. BJ hears her call the move and whips out and around and up the stairs as well [+7 Athletics]. Meanwhile Ralph covers, while Widow steps over to the downed hostile and begins looting the SMG.

VillaGround5

Out at the entry, Iceman hears [great Alertness check] approaching feet outside – just one pair.

Round 6: From the stair landing BJ catches sight of a trio of needle-pistol armed hostiles and fires a huge suppression burst along their line. It’s an E burst, and they roll poorly: two leap back hastily while one is clipped. Ralph and Pip rush the stairs, Ralph politely allowing the armored Pip to go first! Pip gains the same landing and sends a C burst into the clipped hostile, dropping him.

Meanwhile Widow finishes slamming a fresh clip into the captured SMG, and Iceman readies his pistol for where the hostile outside should appear.

Round 7: Iceman and the hostile trade misses, and the hostile takes cover behind the bakery van’s rear. The street is lower than the villa, so it’s pretty fair cover.

Up above, BJ swings onto the mezzanine and doorwards, hoping to get line of sight on the two that dodged the opposite way. The first room he reaches is clear. Pip and Ralph await any opportunity to fire, while below, Widow moves below BJ’s position and begins liaising.

Round 8: Using the locator to check where hostiles are, Widow alerts BJ Pip and Ralph to three warm bodies in the upper chamber nearest the door, one of which could be Bex. At the same time, three hostiles risk the zone Ralph and Pip have set up, but the volume of fire from that pair force all three back. Return fire forces Pip down. But that return fire exposes the hostile to BJ’s angle and a big D burst drops him.

Round 9: Ammo is beginning to be a concern for Iceman. Alert to the hostile switching position, he fires a couple of rounds through the van, clipping and flooring his target! Now he’ll need to inch across the hall to get a better line of fire.

Above, BJ reloads with the final clip, and Pip calls an offer to deal.

Round 10: Iceman tries a single shot, forcing the hostile to cover again. Widow gets her SMG ready for a run to the van. Upstairs the Beyavins negotiate:

Beyavin: Don’t try any tricks

Pip: Just send Bex out, then we won’t have a reason

Round 11: Bex is moved to the doorway and pushed cautiously out. She is partly bound and has her mouth taped, but can walk. No-one tries to rewrite the game plan. Bex keeps walking forward.

Below, Iceman crabs across, smearing more blood across the entry. The floored hostile tries a shot but it ricochets clear. Iceman yanks his pistol up and fires back, flooring the hostile again. Widow sprints out.

Round 12: While Bex is escorted downstairs, there’s a muffled SMG burst outside, where Widow has finished the fallen hostile. BJ now leads the way towards the exit, Pip is rearguard. Still no-one tries to rewrite the game plan.

Round 13: Below, Widow makes sure the van is still running with rear door open and runs back in, calling for BJ to help with Iceman.

Rounds 14-15: Iceman is moved into the van with some OK Athletics checks, and Pip gets into the driver’s seat.

trauma

Round 16: Pip drives off rapidly towards Widow’s free clinic [+3 Drive] while Widow calls ahead.

Wrap-up: Rogaine Fern is not delighted at the need for some secrecy and asks for 4k to cover dodgy paperwork. Pip and BJ take the van away, minimally sanitized, dumping it in an area it is bound to be re-stolen from. Ralph and Bex (now fully mobile and with sore lips where Pip ripped the tape off) return to the Bad’n’Ruin. Then BJ and Pip return to the Bad’n’Ruin with the M41s in the duffel again, and once again the minimal security plays into their hands.

Later: Iceman is judged out of danger after some emergency procedures and will recover enough to move in 12 hours.

Later: BJ is ejected from Bex’ cabin as he asks for money. The 4k is wired to the clinic.

Later: A crate with the armor and sniper rifle arrives.

Later: Iceman threatens to kill Bex if she wanders off alone again.

Bex: That’s his courting speech isn’t it

This is a good point to split the session narrative. This phase was a better effort to work as a team this week, with some lowlights and not many highlights. In Caseless rules the amount of actions you get through in a round is very much at the GM’s discretion which can be confusing and occasionally frustrating. One character may be able to run up stairs, get some cover and still have spare actions, while another character may simply swap an item. The order switched around constantly too, which is not necessarily a bad thing but (for example) depended on me recording who had done what. Overall the highlight for me was the gritty-feeling exchange of fire between Iceman and the outside goon. The realistic willingness of the hostage-takers to deal (once firmly isolated from the others on the other end of the mezzanine) felt right too.

Bex is now under instruction to not go out alone.

 

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SH3.05: Bex snatched! Surplus heroes to the rescue! (Threat phase)

Welcome back! In a slight departure from the usual Surplus Heroes updates, I’ve remained in third person throughout, since the action jumps around frequently.

Current mission: at Altara Starport under Imperial Charter awaiting re-supply

The surplus heroes for this session:

Pip Rogers, pilot, cousin of the victim, fair Interaction skill, ends up swapping a pistol for an M41

BJ/Big Jim Kowalski, engineer, not socially gifted, ends up with an M41

Iceman, gunner, even less socially gifted, ends up bleeding and swapping M41 for a pistol

Widow, sensors & comms, has a range of social skills, ends up with a lupara

Ably assisted by:

Choi, computers, ends up on the Bad’n’Ruin

Ralph, steward, ends up with a SMG

 

Coffee and Choi

It is dawn on Altara, the second day of the Bad’n’Ruin’s sojourn. The previous day has been spent in this manner:

  • Pip activated the plan to get the Rogers family to spread the truth about the original Lewis expedition while claiming it as family lore;
  • BJ located a replacement beacon for the Baby Ruin;
  • Widow pitched in at her old med clinic;
  • Iceman ordered an M42A sniper rifle and ammo.

 

Now, BJ awakes and notices Choi is absent: and goes back to sleep.

Iceman wakes, heads out to make coffee, and finds Choi spread out on the rec room floor with computer and papers.

Choi [brightly]: I made coffee

Iceman: …

Iceman tastes the coffee and gives it a pass-mark, but silently. He is not a morning person, or an anything person really.

Widow wakes, heads out for coffee, and asks Choi what he’s doing.

Choi: Thought it was time I got my ticket

Widow: Pilot?

Choi: No, master engineer. Guy’s gotta get ahead right?

Widow: That so. Remind me aits’ screw is what?

Choi: I ain’t shareholder but I get 4k per same as you I guess

Widow [Looking around for sentient life-forms, failing to see any]: Huh. Reckon as how we oughta have us a bridge meeting ‘bout that, soon’s I c’n find Bex

Pip wakes, discovers the beacon is on her mind, and heads directly to BJ’s cabin.

Pip [bangs on door]: Is it ready? I’m comin’ in

From his dormant position, BJ hurls something very solid at her and she manages to catch it without hurting herself [just under Athletics] as she stumbles back into the passage. It is about 10kg of internal-looking gadget. Eventually it becomes clear that this is the old beacon and the ‘new’ one is installed. By that time BJ is awake to the point where he may as well get up.

 

Coffee and news, but no Bex 

So before too long, everyone except Bex is somewhere around the galley and the lounge/rec room.

Early breakfast progresses for those with an appetite and low on funds, and media feeds are switched on.

War news: A Pioneer Corps is being formed via ballot, raised out of the core Junidi systems. All manner of relevant skills will form part of the Pioneers, including agricultural. Balloted servicemen and women will gain an automatic half-birth right.

 

Aramis news: Evacuees are being interviewed, though because part of their story involves a penal colony the vox clips are minimal. The surprise/horror of the Klackon attack is played up and shots of the Klackon attack on Aramis are shown. The survival of the evacuees is used as a good-news story, not as a ‘Junidi alliance’ story.

 

Breakfast and Bex is missed

Ralph wolfs down breakfast and asks Widow about armor. He did not flee Psyadi with standard light combat armor, as Widow and Iceman at least did. Widow nods at Iceman, knowing he has the contacts for quick buys.

[Apparently the GM intended the Navy or Corrections to confiscate those light armor suits before we left Psyadi but it didn’t arise, maybe because he was so focused on preventing Widow from ‘inheritering’ a rack of M41s.]

Ralph: So, Iceman, you got the contacts? I need a suit as fits me

BJ: You think Seddon would be able to supply heavy combat armor?

Iceman: You thinkin bout armor?

Ralph: Do they sell by the meter?

BJ: Well better by the meter than wantin armor lets you lick you balls

Iceman: How come ya didn’t ast me before we docked??? Well, I can getcha inta the right people if ya got the cash

BJ: Well excuse me all to hell, guess I was busy working on the FUCKING BEACON

[I think the GM forgot Ralph last session, otherwise this armor stuff may have arisen before we docked and Iceman would have ordered it last session; but in any case the interval has allowed BJ to get thinking about how much savings he has. And it’s a lot, nearly enough to buy book-price assault armor]

 

Port and perusal

While this earnest discussion is carried on Pip updates Widow on her success of the previous day. Widow thanks Pip and leaves her beginning to study something [could be psyker, could be light craft], but in a different room than Choi. Shortly, outside in the port, Widow clicks through infotainment boards looking for the kind of ritzy casino Bex likes. Finding what she is looking for, Widow heads back to the Bad’n’Ruin and dresses up in her ‘Social Loadout’ which involves a wig, a nice dress, heels, makeup to hide the tats and scars, and not much else.

 altara_port_pretty

Iceman too heads out to the port, and phones through to the bistro to give advance warning and ask for a meet, then heads back to update the other pair.

Ralph: This area you taken us to… is it safe?

Iceman: Meh… it’s surface. But you with me

BJ: Get going us, I’m pretty sure I met Seddon, lessee what he can sell me

Iceman: One, that’s ‘Mr. Seddon’ to you; two, he a middleman and he don’t ‘sell you’ stuff; three, if ya act like a chuffhead I plan ta leave ya an not lose sleep over where they plant ya body

 

As they finish the threats and bickering a very different-looking Widow passes through on her way out. She looks expectantly at them for ‘tenting’ or at least wolf-whistles but is disappointed.

WidowMakeover

[The GM now achieves asshat status, pointedly making remarks about Widow then using his own NPC to reinforce them.]

The trio catch a cab to the bistro. There, they are admitted but told that it will be hours before any meet so why not eat? They agree.

BJ and Ralph continue bickering over the meal. There is no love lost between the engineer and the newbie. Not too far into this, Iceman and his bickering cohorts are told Rooso is upstairs and will see them.

 

Bex left with who? 

Widow walks down to the casino, easily descending from the port at its up-market exit, into the Under. Automated walkways carry her smoothly to the casino. There are two doormen. They explain the basic layout. Her first stop is the bar where she buys an entertaining multilayer drink, and takes it up to the gaming deck. A slow circuit or two convinces her Bex is not present. Asking around, she learns there is ‘another floor’ for high rollers but when she describes Bex, is told she left eight hours since.

ritzycasino

Back downstairs the doormen claim to have seen her leave as they came on shift, and that she was with three trader types.

[Widow scores some mixed results but a +9 persuasion on the doormen decided the information]

Widow tries chiming the entire crew, but only raises Pip and Choi. Being in conference with Rooso means the trio hear Widow’s chime but switch their devices off.

Pip checks Bex’ effects, finding that Bex has taken all her credits away to play with (which is normal). Pip tries chiming Bex but gets no reply. She flicks on feeds and starts looking for Beyavin related troubles. She has recalled the two separate recent approaches by Beyavins.

By this time Widow has asked Choi to keep an eye on the shipyard and Pip to watch the ‘surface’ exit of the port where they would normally run the air raft out. She herself is heading back up to the genteel port entry.

There, Widow uses her Admin and Leadership proficiencies as the case fits, to get through the bureaucracy and get answers. The watch captain runs vid back for her but Bex can’t be picked out, so Widow takes a copy of the feed away, agreeing to delete it when finished.

[Some good rolls on Admin and Leadership power Widow through, though the scenario runs on without this information.]

 

Rooso, Ramelac, Bex in bondage

BJ wants assault armor and Ralph wants light combat armor for his body shape. Rooso assures them these can be arranged and since he has had some notice of their needs has a price ready. It is 25k all up which can be thought of as roughly 3k for the light armor and 22k for the heavy. They agree, expecting that they can draw an advance for the balance.

But having given them this good news, Rooso slides them over a note from Ramelac, the Beyavin that wanted to speak to them; and a still. The note is to call Ramelac and the still is of Bex bound and gagged.

Ramelac says he sent the still to get their attention and wants a meet in Central Plaza in an hour.

 

Meanwhile Pip has made it out to the surface exit where having a photo of Bex [and a +7 Interaction] helps. The guards’ information reveals that the three traders were all Beyavin. Pip voxes Widow and Choi and this turns into a full conference call. It is agreed that BJ and Iceman will head for the plaza for the meet while Ralph returns to the ship with Pip, they gear up and follow the trail Pip has found. Widow will stay in good clothes and get to the plaza early. Choi will fall back to the ship, just in case.

downbygates

On the trail 

Pip uses her basic pleasant personality and her knowledge of air raft companies to track down the minicab that drove Bex and the kidnappers out and around nearer to the shipyards. [Some adequate Interaction rolls plus Pip’s Altara background]

BJ and Iceman meet a Beyavin and two goons. Widow is already in place, watching this.

Iceman: Where is Bex?

Beyavin Spokesman: She’s safe. Well it took us a while to track you down, kudos on the decoy out of Heguz. Overbluff Dubgee wants his chief counterfeiter back. And that all, so it’s your lucky day. That’s got a lot to do with you not killing the guards you ambushed. So the deal is, tell us where Sid is, then we let Captain Bex go

Iceman: BWAHAHAHA+++…. ahh, laughter is a blessing… yeah she does like sayin she cap’n but she ain’t. But tell ya what, ya let th’ bitch go an we won’t do nuthin

BS: You got the deal, we’re leaving now. Don’t try nothing

The Beyavins leave and Widow follows them, using her background knowledge of urban crime to stay out of sight. She tails them to a down-market exit out to the surface, then returns to tool up. [A great Athletics roll plus checks on Survival for the background cover this, but it produces nothing useful. Pip’s lead is better and Widow focuses on that]

At the minicab office Pip talks to Terence the cab-driver. She uses the ‘distressed relative’ approach to good effect with a +5 interaction. Terence takes them out to a rough neighbourhood, below the port, and leaves them there.

 

Aboard the Bad’n’Ruin Iceman and BJ have been tooling up and Widow joins them. She finds there has been quite a debate about gun size. She dons her medium loadout, and points out that they could conceivably have to ditch weapons. Iceman is convinced by this and agrees to use one of the M41s BJ will be carrying in his duffel.

 

At the greasy spoon 

Out by the yards, Pip finds a greasy spoon diner nearby and she and Ralph enter, and signal the others where they are.

greasyspoon

Pip: We’ll wait til they’re close, then act

Ralph: You think they’d turn up with a whole lotta guns… yes they would

Pip gets nowhere with her picture of Bex but asks about Beyavins and is promptly invited to bribe. A small bribe gets her an upstairs-window view of a seriously strong looking building not far away.

 

The other three arrive and a war-council ensues

BJ: I don’t know but I think I could jack the lock

Widow: Yes you should jack a truck

BJ: Uh I was talking about my intrusion skill

Widow: Yes you should jack a truck

Pip: She’s tella you, go jack a truck

Widow: Big enough to smash through same as last time

Pip: Ya need someone as can drive, BJ

Iceman: Ahh, yeah, you can do that this time

Ralph [nervous]: We are going to need a getaway car right

Widow: Yeah I guess I got that end

The team splits to BJ Pip and Iceman looking for a hefty truck and Ralph and Widow for a getaway vehicle.

 

The half-arsed plan triumphs

BJ’s engineering tells him the hefty trucks are on the other side of the shipyard wire, guarded by a simple barrier and sentry. Overall, it doesn’t seem worth the risk penetrating.

justwhatweneed

Widow and Ralph walk away until they find a baker’s van parked at a residence, probably for the night. It’s time to finalize plans. Or at least, begin one. The conference call begins.

 

Widow: OK we have found a getaway van

Pip: And we decided not to get a truck, they are guarded

Widow: So this is what I got so far. I drive to you, pick you up, stop at the place’s front door, we get through the door somehow, we go in, kill everyone – except Bex – load Bex up, drive away

BJ: I could maybe bust open the door, I got a M41

Widow: Nice, I use the lupara to open it so you follow up. So here’s the plan I hear, yell out with any tweaks. I drive to you, pick you up, stop at the place’s front door, I blow the lock with the lupara, we go in, kill everyone – except Bex – load Bex up, drive away

[At this point no-one has anything to add. Not a thing. And it’s a bad plan. It’s about as bad as that plan where Widow suggests they could lay a ship-to-ship missile down on the neighborhood. I’m so gob-smacked by the lack of response I suggest an entire counter-riff for Pip to offer, but she opts not to. Having the start of a plan and acting is better than nothing, I guess.]

 

The assault

Lacking her tools, Widow simply breaks a small side window on the van. [Intrusion +3] She hotwires the ignition fairly easily [Intrusion +2] and they swing out and drive back towards the shipyards. As Pip has predicted they soon meet and the trio afoot swing inside.

Pip: You need someone to drive this baby now

Widow: I’m already driving

Pip: No you need someone that can drive

Widow: I’m already here bitch

And with that the van pulls up alongside the front door. Widow leaps out [Athletics+1] but already the others are head of her! [Athletics + plenty, everyone save Ralph rolls a 0 plus something] They line the portico-style entry and she steps up to the door and places the lupara nose on the lock.

 

Combat begins

Round 1: Blam! Widow blasts the lock and pulls back so the others can move in. Iceman and BJ roll in right and left. The portico gives onto a similar-sized vestibule and a wide internal courtyard beyond it. An internal wall around the courtyard seems to let onto small chambers against the external wall. They take SMG fire from around the corners of the vestibule. BJ’s opponent misses but Iceman’s hits him square on and [poor armor check] he goes down hard. BJ’s D burst forces his opponent back, and BJ jumps left to a doorway in the internal wall. Ralph follows up firing his borrowed SMG and puts Iceman’s guy down.

Round 2: BJ follows up his success, blasting pieces of the corridor wall away, and his opponent backs off hurriedly, lost to sight in the internal chambers. Pip slides forward to check Iceman while Ralph runs across the open court, and Widow strides forward reloading.

Iceman: Serious condition. Limping and dragging. He swaps weapons with Pip.

We left it there, knowing that Iceman is not dead but will need surgery.

The BJ-Ralph animosity continued the whole session, I have not conveyed how hostile BJ came over generally, but especially to the NPC Vargr. I don’t know if BJ’s player has discussed this with the GM as being in his character’s makeup.

Speaking of which there is a secret between the GM and Pip about Pip’s study and at one point Pip was heard to be ‘concentrating on thoughts of Bex’ so possibly the GM has relaxed his Psionics rules.

There were some good laughs over possible plans, from Bex swooping in on the Bad’n’Ruin once we were out, to dropping one of the ship-to-ship missiles on the house to demonstrate to Overbluff Dubgee we really meant what Iceman said about Bex not being that important.

In terms of highlights, although there were some great rolls they showed the weakness of a non-clue-based system trying to do a clue-based game. The real highlight was Iceman roleplaying the meet with the kidnappers. I think his time in the Cleveland Darkens campaign has really helped his roleplay style, he nailed his part, way better than I could have.

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SH3.04.5: Altara prep

Welcome back! This is the remainder of our pre-Christmas, last-of-the-year session, and concerns our turnaround port, Altara. All characters have strong connections to it.

Current mission: Supplying the allied fleet forces, under Imperial Charter

 

The Surplus Heroes for this session

The Bad’n’Ruin, a double-jump Kitty-class trader with a good balance of passenger cabins, hold space, and cold sleep

BJ/Big Jim Kowalski, veteran Scout, ship’s engineer, good with tech of most types and would like to stretch that into computing

Iceman, ex-Colonial Marines, ship’s gunner, good with guns and cooking, would like to get so ripped he can handle two Gauss rifles at once

Pip Rogers, veteran Scout, ship’s pilot, good with tech and would like to learn admin

Widow, Colonial Marines reservist, ship’s doctor and signals, is messing with Iceman by working on getting buff

Bex, ship’s purser and half-share partner, and Pip’s cousin

Choi, ship’s computing technician and engineer’s mate

 

Recap:

The Bad’n’Ruin is in jump-space heading for the Nasemin system, a double jump from the last port of call, Aramanx. The surplus heroes have managed to scavenge themselves a ship’s launch at long last and need a few finishing touches to make sure it will pass scrutiny. Other than that, their ongoing plans to release the truth about the original Lewis expedition and to outlast Usher Stoll are maturing. The starport in the Nasemin system is at Altara, capital and the place the surplus heroes cobbled the Bad’n’Ruin together and formed a company.

Spelling: As usual Widow spells Nasemin Nazmin and Rowsion II Roysion.

 

We lay plans by for Altara while we paint and Choi works on the Baby Ruin’s log. He allows as how he’ll need better rigging for it, and BJ gets excited about fixing a new beacon on it. Iceman catches the shopping bug and allows as how he’ll be able to get gunware off oyabun Seddon.

It’s something as how he’s been dwelling on I guess, since that time in the bar when he me and Ralph agree we taking Stoll out soon’s we see him. He allows as how a sniper hit will do for Stoll.

[The GM wants to know what we plan to do in port, early. As far as we know we’ll only be there a short time so it’s hard to make any definite plan but on top of those two plans above, Pip wants to contact the family network and Widow decides she’s going to visit the clinic she used to work.]

We drop into Nasmin space and I open channels. There’s plenty to catch up on! The war talk’s all about the ‘Klackon Emergency’ and seems as how there’s conscription, though with plenty of exclusions. The likes of that being, working at vital industries like munitions and boat-building. Slogans are running ‘Loyalty to the Imperium’ which kind of runs agin what BJ and Iceman are guessing about Jundy. Jundy itself is planning a memorial park in the Jundy U grounds, to remember the fallen.

Checking cargo feeds, seems as how trade is way up on last time we were through. Roysion ores, Zykocan gas, though I guess Carsten ain’t pushing through much now. And when we lay a vector into the starport I see the huge hulls trader Capn Grant bragged up back over Aramanx.

 

Funny Customs

Pip now makes her piloting approach check and manages 6 over. She decides this means she comes in fast, as usual, but accurately.

A Navy QM approaches and informs us he has a requisition form for us, and by the way, Customs inspection. I think we all guess who the customs officers will be!

It is indeed disgraced agents Cole and Marty of the IPA.

Cole/Marty: Do you have anything to declare?

Pip: Yeah, we have great coffee, want some?

Navy QM: Listen I don’t have time for that… [Cole, Marty and Pip leave for the galley] here’s your requisition form, you’ll be picking up supplies for Marines on ground duty, Aramanx. You been briefed on that?

Bex: Yes we have, I’ll take this…

Widow: What’s our turnaround?

Navy QM: You are on priority but that’s 48 hours at best… stand easy, I’ll see myself out

 

I head up to the galley, Bex hustles away to see to the paperwork. Cole and Marty are on the way to being old friends, or at least, they owe us, so I got me an idea to use their local knowledge. Iceman and BJ already beat me to the galley and Iceman’s brewing coffee. It gets right cozy, then I angle in to my idea.

Widow: You guys bein’ old friends, seems to me you might give us a steer on some extra equipment

Cole: How, ‘extra’

Widow: Off the books kind of…

Marty: Whoa! We do owe you, so let me stop you right there!

Cole: If this ‘extra’ equipment is something for the ship…

BJ: Which it is

Cole: You just need to think back on other times you hunted out this or that here

Pip: Oh sure, I remember…

Marty: I said Whoa!

Pip: Got it, enough said

Cole: And this conversation never took place

[Widow is asked to roll Persuasion and scores a double-ought. The GM rules that it is so good, Marty and Cole provide a hint as well as not allowing her to incriminate herself. Pip and BJ previously hunted out a wrecker-yard, so that’s where the hint will lead.]

BJ: But I did have something I wanted to run by you

Marty: It isn’t something about extra engineering supplies is it?

BJ: No this is on book, a different kind of book

Widow: I’m heading out

BJ has a different idea in mind, and it doesn’t feel right that all the surplus heroes are there, but the others don’t feel the same way as Widow so remain. Iceman and Pip listen in (and chip in here and there) as BJ relates our survival on Lewis and ALL of what led to it.

There are some funny moments – “You knew where Sid was all along???” – but more significantly BJ and Pip retrieve the Lewis papers and show the agents the comparison. There’s no proof since they have none of Usher Stoll’s gloating, so all BJ can end up with is pointing to Usher Stoll benefiting.

 

BJ’s scavenging

All BJ wants is a beacon and visits wrecker/engineer yards well known to him from his time working here, as well as the episode of taking out Talban. He is asked for a roll and gets an ‘even’ so the GM rules it will take eight hours to locate an adequate beacon.

 

Widow’s giri

I ain’t rightly sure why I aim to visit the clinic, until I get there. It’s about how I remember it, full of low-lifes that ain’t got cash for Below treatment. The charge-nurse remembers me and I ask to see Rogaine Fern. Then when I see him I realize I got me a job to do. I get back into scrubs and pitch in. The doc allows as how trained med staff are collecting a bounty volunteering for the campaign these days. Seems I’ll be here a piece.

[Giri is complicated. It’s not so much about Rogaine patching Widow up and not saying anything, it’s more about Widow’s connection to the staff and the clinic. She got a job here when she was down and out.]

 

Pip’s family time

Pip spends time with extended family and catches up on trade-lane family news, such as Scopie’s unexpected responsibility and success on Fellan. This is the first occasion Pip can really push the plan, and does so. She describes the whole Lewis entanglement. [Rolls +7 on Persuasion] The family agree with the plan to leak the truth, presenting it as ‘Rogers family story’ as requested.

 

Iceman’s shopping

Iceman makes his way to the diner he knows Seddon uses as a convenient public base. There are new goons but still one or two of the old crew that remember him. They tell him that Rooso and Seddon are out but will be back.

Iceman nurses a drink and chats with the older crew for about four hours, until he gets the word that they are back in the office. Heading upstairs he pays his respects to Seddon. Then he outlines his needs.

Iceman: I’m looking for a sniper rifle, subsonic rounds and silenced, accurate to a good long range

Seddon: I think we can meet that… Rooso?

Rooso: The M42A scoped model is reliable

Iceman: I trained on that

Rooso: Even better, and ammo as well

Iceman: Yup. And I need it fast

Seddon: This is a good place to score one, but faster means pricier

Rooso: [slides some numbers over to Seddon]

Seddon: We can meet that for 6k

Iceman: Mind if I make a call?

Seddon: Downstairs, Rooso will get you a private booth

 

Iceman [chimes Bex]: Bex? You there?

Bex: Yes, still working on the load schedule… someone has to

Iceman: And may I say how much we all appreciate your hard work and how amazing you look

Bex: Bleech, just spit out what ou want

Iceman: How about another advance?

Bex: Oh? How many months are you talking?

Iceman: Against next month’s pay

Bex: No problem, that’s not that far off

Iceman: That’s great, you’re just great…

Bex [cutting in quickly]: By the way a Beyavin was around the dock, asking about the Bad’n’Ruin

Iceman: Wasn’t name of Tarka was it?

Bex, No, his handle was Rameloc

Iceman: Thanks for the heads-up gorgeous, I’ll be back soon for the cash

 

And I still have no clue why an on-board beacon became important, it has never entered any episode before last one. My guess is, a player or players decided it must be for some random reason, and the GM went along with it. As long as we end up with the Baby Ruin’s computer believably in-synch with the Bad’n’Ruin, I’m happy. I’m taking it on trust that Choi has that covered. Stay tuned!

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