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!
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.
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’n‘Ruin. 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.
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.
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?
Widow: got it. How about good drinking joints?
Guard: there are a few drinking joints, no good ones.
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!