Welcome back! Before the game, I speculated that there could be a zombie attack, a driving schedule test, or a sneak-past-Indians. As it turns out all three are on offer.
The Bad’n’Ruin ground team:
- Pip: driver and pilot
- BJ: wounded mechanic and engineer
- Iceman: marksman and cook
- Widow: tactician
The Bad’n’Ruin support team of NPCs:
- Bex: merchant and banker (and power-point presenter)
- Choi: computers
- Rhonda: steward
- Tangle (Tarngal): troubled boy
- Q4K (Que Vork): Tangle’s aunt, who brought him to hide on Rowsion II
- Heath: Q4K’s uncle
- Eskip: girl cousin of Q4K
The ground team and rescuees are travelling in a full-cab luxury air raft. When we re-join them, they are sheltering in an abandoned school grounds, in a barn.
Spelling: For Q4K, read Que Vork; for Tangle, read Tarngal; for Roysion, read Rowsion; for Bayvan, read Beyavin; for Nazmin read Nasemin.
News from above
Choi has good news and bad news. The shuttle will wait on the window I estimate – around 8-12 hours from dawn – but there’s a force of EMA troops getting closer. Our problem is getting past them. He signs out sounding meccha happy.
Iceman: there’s someone that’s getting some
Everyone’s been jammed in by me to hear this so don’t need no briefing. We work out watches – Heath, me, then Iceman – Pip is already back to sleep and BJ is still pretty sore.
We get jumped by pack predators towards dawn, while Iceman’s working on grub and the kids, Pip, and Q4K are sleeping in the raft.
[A series of Alertness rolls are failed or borderline, owing to the heavy rain on the barn. Finally Widow makes a fair roll while leaning against the raft’s offside, nursing a coffee, towards dawn.]
Battle layout: Picture a no-window one-level barn big enough to hold three big vehicles, that’s about the size. It has no loft or skylight and no lights, so BJ’s IR goggles are passed from sentry to sentry. Looking in from the doors, our raft is sitting off to the left a little though with plenty of room for campers to sack out between it and the wall. It faces the doors for a fast getaway.
Edge: since she made the Alertness check the edge is with Widow.
Surprise round: A chugging, gurgling animal noise can be just picked out on the driver’s side of the air raft. Widow sets down the coffee, draws her pistol, and signals to Iceman. Iceman abandons his coffee/breakfast prep, and picks up his rifle.
Round 1: Widow lies down right (kicking Heath awake) so she faces around the raft’s corner, and lets fly with three rounds, then calls her position. All sleepers wake. A menacing roar comes from the general area Widow fired at. (Fort checks all round. Pip fails.)
Pip, who is lying across the front seats, starts up, bangs her head on the wheel and stuns herself. BJ wakes fully alert, grabs his SMG, and gets up: he can fire next round. Heath shifts to the raft’s front end, near where he was dozing. Iceman slides down the IR. He sees three creatures beyond the raft in the wider unoccupied half. Two of them are ‘sounding’ while the third is advancing. He calls its general bearing.
Round 2: Widow crabs back to her bedroll, and locates her torch. BJ empties the SMG’s mag with a D burst, in that direction, giving the advancing critter a fright. Iceman (making a great Alert check) works out these are jackal-like creatures, Juni-Jats. He opens up with a triple burst at one in a corner, scaring it.
Widow catches a movement from the opposite direction, turns her torch on, and lets fly at the critter. As it jinks past his position, Heath blasts it with his needler pistol: it staggers back out the doors.
Round 3: BJ opens the raft offside door, leans across to flip the lights on, and bangs heads with Pip. He still manages to get the lights on! The lights shine past gaps in the doors, picking out multiple eyes – there’s a whole mob of Juni-Jats out there!
An unwounded Juni-Jat leaps atop the raft, bellowing. (More Fort checks, but everyone with a weapon is still OK.)
Widow swings back around and pumps rounds into the critter, and it falls back. (A fine roll given the lay-off penalty and the first time in about seven sessions Widow actually did damage to something in combat.) Pip switches on and lofts the raft.
Round 4: BJ clambers in back, trying to reassure the kids. Iceman scans around: the critters seem to have retreated. Leaving his breakfast makings where they lie, he slides in the back as well, while Heath jumps into shotgun position. Widow grabs her shotgun, and rolls in as the raft shatters the doors and flies away.
[So much for the zombie attack! We are pretty conservative with ammo, and see no point in shooting at critters that are backing off. No XP for kills in this game!]
For a navy geezer Heath can sure shoot. He says it ain’t nothing. We take shifts in shotgun position, being so towards the eight-hour mark I’m ready to try a comms check. Up til then, Pip keeps driving with mighty few rest-stops. We kick around what course is going to be smoothest for a whiles over the map. I say to Pip, head south alongside the woodlands to Miiri, swing west round it, head south another hundred klicks, then due west.
The weather is just as shit as ever, only when we get down towards Miiri it starts hailing on top of everything else. [Pip makes three good Air Raft checks, confusing pilot skill with air raft, but they are still OK when AL spots the mistake.] It’s looking more like eight hours than 12, only early days since we ain’t hit no mountains yet.
Wide of Miiri, we see refugees heading out in columns and smoke off of burning vehicles. Miiri is pretty bad – I guess it got took out by another meteorite. Pip ain’t fully buying my plan for driving south then west, and swings south-west. We can’t see nothing past about 15 metres, sometimes 5 metres what with fog now. She allows as how she’s picked the right valley to head up, and how she got to get some shut-eye.
Widow: how ‘bout you BJ, you allows as how you can back Pip up on any shit
BJ (groans): uh, don’t reckon I said that ezackly, I ain’t feeling too good nohow
Widow: well I’m a great driver, I can take over
Iceman: optimism of the deluded
Widow: hey, that ravine I dropped the car into back there was a oncer, it ain’t gonna happen again
I drive as near west as I can, alongside slopes and over fence-lines. BJ’s kinda quiet and clutching the dash. Iceman’s muttering something in back. Only one not bothered is Pip, she’s sawing logs back there. I spin out once but get her back on track. I figure to make a pit-stop and set down.
I don’t hate my luck. I see people-shapes moving in the fog, haul out my slicker and hide my pistol under it. They hail us. I explain we are offworlders heading for high ground so’s we can wait for help to arrive, up off of the plains. They allow as how they are farm folk looking for help themselves, so I tell them about refugees down on the plains. I don’t know that they buy my story of why we are all heading away, but they don’t come no closer and drift on.
Sneak? Or Catapult?
I drive on, getting pretty nigh a real crash, and Pip wakes up on the last scrape. I hand over and take over shotgun, and get on the comms to Choi and Rhonda. They are down on the shuttle deck right now. Bad news, the EMA troops have the base fully surrounded. Rhonda gives me the co-ordinates and I take a proper bearing.
Widow: roger leave that with us… snugglebunny
Rhonda: seriously?!? (turns comms off)
I call a Chinese parliament and we kick around options for penetrating to the base. I favour infiltrating by getting close, grabbing a vehicle and just driving through pretending to be the EMA. Heath and Q4K will sound like locals if we need to talk. Pip favours boosting the raft high, like a catapult shot, and dropping down on the base. She allows as if she does it right, ain’t gonna be time for missiles to lock on. I figure if she turns off the drive, and freefalls down, IR targeting won’t work. She don’t say she can do that, but overall most want to try that based on not having to drag kids around so I go that way.
[AL has second thoughts after a poor roll and tries to jawbone the GM into believing that Pip wanted to fly much lower. Luckily the GM ignores this.]
Pip’s well up through the fog and rain when tracer zips up past us. Something slams into the raft’s belly and the thrust module cuts out.
Pip: I planned this! I planned this! Brace!
[Pip’s raft skill (1 box) offsets the button of the AA cannon dice roll. This averts a fatal strike. Pip has a vehicle skill of 13. She rolls a terrible 5 to control the drop using the support module, and rolls a 12 to not disastrously crash: GM decides not to TPK]
I claw down into crash position, Pip slams the thing down any old how and I’m too shook up to move. [Athletics checks at -2: only Pip makes it!] Pip rolls out her side and I hear guards calling her to get her hands up. But they ain’t locals and then I hear Choi yelling, so we made it through to the base.
I check around on everyone [+9 check] and the kids are fine. We packed plenty of blankets and whatnot around them earlier on. Everyone else is mobile, so we check in with passport control and get our documents stamped. The outstation guards have kinda set up as default government here, cooperating with Disclin. They don’t seem bothered by whether we are toting weapons or not, so I carry both the shotguns aboard. The other guns are all local cartridge and ain’t much use elsewhere so we dump them.
It takes around 20 minutes to make the outstation. Bex is there to greet us and I give her a big hug. She done well by us.
Who saves a life, owes the life
Widow (uncomfortably): there, there…
Heath takes her, me and Bex aside and Iceman serves her a hot sweet tea. Heath allows as how Q4K reckons to have failed, seeing as how she’s headed back to Nazmin. Seems as how Tangle’s right mother was killed by her husband and he was a Jackal name of Talban. Q4K dragged the kid out of the gang and planned to get him a new life on Roysian.
Well, here we are and by picking her up it’s on me to do something. I take some responsibility. I got some clues about how to deal with a gang boss.
[I’m not sure how much the GM built this situation from my background for Widow. She has a street gang background herself, with cultural influences from crime syndicates such as Yakuza.]
By the time we’re dropping out of jump to Fellan, BJ is fit and working on his drone again. Bex briefs us and allows as how spot prices for hull ore could be high, ‘less the Taran government set a cap on them. We all agree as how a low profile on Fellan will be best, and not to blab out about Q4K and her kin.
I give the all-clear [great sensors check] and Pip drops onto Dome City’s flamed-out pad yakking to her cousin Scopie the whiles. She briefs him pretty fully on Q4K and he allows as how he can lose any paper on the passengers. Looking around the Dome City port, I spot two Tukera ships, Reunion and Scalding Sun by name; an independent like us name of Buthnall; and a small Bayvan ship name of Tikmas. It gives me an idea.
While I percolate the idea round in my skull, I head back to engineering and ask the Choi-boy what he might be able to do in the way of talking to Jackals. Turns out it’s easier: he used to be a sho Jackal til his tias pulled him out and got him into straight studies. This means I don’t have to try making two sets of approaches.
My idea still sounds workable in my head, so I find Bex and run it by her, seeing as how she’s got to be the face man. She likes it. I allow as how these other crews, according to Scopie, are setting back waiting for news from Roysian. So if we give a presentation, with slides and whatnot, we can charge some sang’ cred for it. We work on the presentation a little, then I leave it with her and hit the town.
Fox around the henhouse
Pip and Scopie hit the Pillar about the same time, and their meal is interrupted by one of the local Jackals, kind of fox-face himself. Near as I can hear he asks about passengers, but Pip plays dumb like a good girl [the Jackal is indeed angling for information on what specifically happened to the Rowsion II passengers and whether we brought any back. Persuasion to bluff, makes 2 above] and he leaves.
I see him again at Bex’ presentation when he asks the same shit, and a few hours later when it so happens I got my needler rifle and am patrolling round the Bad’n’Ruin. Don’t get me wrong, the presentation went great! Only, with fox-face showing up, we allow to be ready for trouble. We brief the whole crew and Choi sings out what he told me. Then we stand duty. Foxy shows up with a posse of Jackal bros, tries to bluff his way on board and I stand him down. [Widow is lousy at bluffing about not having space but she is not bluffing about a face full of needle if he steps closer.]
By this time the other four craft have taken off to Roysion. We’re serviced mighty prompt thanks to Scopie, and get aloft within a 24 hour turnaround. I call all clear, BJ buttons the engines down and Pip takes us up to jump. Nazmin and a month’s pay is next!
With a few minutes of time left in the session, players roll for stat or skill gains, to represent training during the jump-space downtime, but without success. I get within 1 of topping Widow’s Intrusion skill.
Ten episodes! No PC actually killed! Whoda thunk?
We got much further than the GM expected, thanks to choosing not-fighting options wherever possible. A good session though I didn’t enjoy the extensive section where our fate rested on the chance of dice. I lost track of how many air-raft rolls Pip made, but at least three for the swan-dive into Disclin’s port.
I like how everyone seems OK with taking moral responsibility for stray NPCs we saved. Even though there is no intrinsic motivation. It’s not like Q4K and Tangle are played as lovable or useful. In fact, they are ciphers. We know more about Heath than we do about Q4K.
An estimated two to three sessions left for this season. We next need to muster resources and wits for dealing with the Jackals of Altara City, come up with a plan and see it through. Stay tuned!