Recap and Game Notes: Traveller, 4.13

The TL;DR outline recap can be found here if one doesn’t want to listen to just over 4 hours.

I left this session feeling pretty crappy. To start with, Mel had already advised me (and the rest of the players) that she was set on retiring her character Ella because she was thoroughly sick of being in charge and too many of the other players would frequently rely on her to decide what they did next. We’d also had a discussion about the merits and drawbacks of the PCs counter-boarding that resulted in Haank’s player stating that he was going to order a halt.

So I had the idea of the corsair breaking away and shooting up the ship even more, which would – in my mind – give Mel the opportunity to injure Ella sufficiently that she would not be able to go dirtside. (As a bonus, I could advance the Aris’ body being dead and him stuck permanently in the drone.) With this in mind, I had all of the PCs (but Eddy) roll on Casualties chart and gave Mel the option to pick one but she rolled … a 1. No damage. Urgh.

And to top that off, I didn’t take good enough notes last session about exactly what all was disabled on the ship following that first round of space combat so when I declared that the NPC pilot “dodged,” one of the players (correctly) reminded me that the maneuver drive had been ‘disabled’ (maybe? Have to check the recording.) So. Yeah. Need to take better notes. As someone with a degree in history, you’d think I’d be aware of that.

Anyway, this entire opening scene was a mess. Ella’s player was also apparently having mike troubles so she was typing everything which meant people kept talking over her and it was just a mess. Thankfully, once they got onto the Resolute, I was able to start getting things back on track although I still don’t like how we just sort of had Ella quit mid-stream. I think in my head-canon, I’m going to have to say she was suffering from a mild concussion or something and the physicians who looked her over wanted her to stay.

With the Aris-Jim thing, I’d already had an “Aris-In-Jim” character spun up that used Jim (the drone’s) physical stats and Aris’ mental ones. When the incident happened, I (accidentally) kicked Andricus off the server – I was trying to just force Release his two characters … but oh well – then Released this new character for him. Since then, we’ve started taking to calling it Ar-Jim … which totally isn’t going to make things difficult with an Armin in the group already. I also need to figure out how to get across the “OMFG! I’m DEAD!!! And in a robot shell!!!” issues across.

In the original source material, the adventure presumes that the PCs go dirtside in their own ship, but I figured this could work a little better. There is also a bit in the source material later where more of the piratey types show up on the planet, so I figured I could merge that together while simultaneously adding another “assault” scene later in the game when the PCs hit and take the fight to the vargr. I’ll have to figure that out shortly.

Once the PCs were dirtside, things got a little better with Mel taking over Armin for the time being. The usual talkers were able to do their talking and the quieter “audience” members were tagging along. The interactions with the street types went well and the PCs eventually were steered toward the cantina, which naturally led to a fight. The first person to go lethal in the bar fight was Sae … which wasn’t a surprise, but he’s had bad experiences with tempest users, so his actions weren’t a surprise. Haank’s player commented that he (Haank) screwed up here because he didn’t establish “Don’t start shooting people in the face just yet!” The fight went pretty much as expected, with the PCs leaving a bunch of corpses (or soon to be corpses) around the unconscious guy they were looking for who will (hopefully) lead them to his boss, who is the real person they’re looking for.

It did not occur to me until after the fight, but I screwed up … tempest uses have Enhanced Time Sense … so these guys should have been acting first. I need to figure out a way to set that up … maybe I should change the drug’s effects from ETS to something like +Basic Speed 3.0 to ensure they show up at the beginning of the combat tracker? I also need to re-examine their actual stats – the drug should enhance their strength, but not their actual HP which in retrospect, I think it does. I also need to figure out how to make these jackasses an actual, legit threat because thus far, they’re just roadblocks to get shot down in a matter of seconds. Maybe have them strike from ambush? A ST 16 guy doing an All-Out Strong Telegraphed club strike to the head could ruin anyone’s day, I think.

There are, I think, two to three sessions remaining in this adventure, depending on how the PCs progress, and I need to make some adjustments to what comes next. Hopefully next session will have me ending the game in a better state of mind and not convinced I’d thoroughly screwed the pooch. These last two sessions … man, they’ve really messed with my groove and I can’t quite figure out why.

Avengers: Infinity War Review

Yesterday after work, I saw “Avengers: Infinity War” … and I freaking loved it. Honestly, I’m unsure how to review this without spoilers, but I’m going to try (and then I’ll review it with spoilers). So … here goes.

First, it’s frankly kind of amazing they managed to get this far. Ten years ago, Iron Man came out and from that, we’ve added a gajillion movies of varying quality – as much as I loved A:IW, I still think Captain America: The Winter Soldier is hands-down the best movie in the MCU – and so many of them have led to this. They teased Thanos in the first Avengers movie, but this is the first time we’ve seen him in action and boy, does he deliver. If you saw Thor: Ragnarok and sat through the credits, you likely know how this movie begins and within the first 20 minutes, Thanos is definitely established as a force to be reckoned with.

Second, it’s kind of amazing that the directors – the Russo Brothers, who did The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War – managed to handle all of the characters without seeming to short-change many. As a big Cap fan, I did notice he was definitely not as prominent as one would expect – ditto that with Black Widow and Falcon – but he had several moments of pure awesome: there’s this quick little bit in the Wakanda fight that’s all over the trailers where he and Black Panther are sprinting ahead of everyone else and it’s wicked cool (also very evocative of The Incredible Hulk (the one with Edward Norton that is actually part of the MCU) when the Abomination (can’t recall his civvie id; the guy Tim Roth played) is still human and races ahead of the soldiers. There are like a billion characters in this movie – no Hawkeye or Ant-Man (though they’re both mentioned) – and they juggle them really well principally by splitting them up into smaller teams. Off the top of my head, I think there is just one bit with a single Hero character where they’re by themselves and even then, Thanos is there so …

Ultimately, this is Thanos’ movie. He’s essentially the main character in this flick though Iron Man and Thor are also very prominent and are likely the characters with the second most screen-time. Since it’s Thanos’ movie, it basically becomes … well … it’s sort of a chase movie. Thanos is moving to seize the Infinity Stones because he’s basically a radical environmental nutjob who wants to wipe out half of the life in the universe so all of the universe’s resources won’t be consumed. Meanwhile, there are various teams are arrayed against him as they try to stop him. Keep in mind that two heroes have stones – Doctor Strange has the Eye of Agamotto which house the Time Stone and Vision has the … Mind Stone, I think? in his head. So naturally, they’re going to run afoul of him.

I’m unsure at this point if it was just the theater I saw it at, but the visuals were really dark at times so it was difficult to fully understand what was happening during at least one action scene I can think of. That said, it could have just been the mediocre theater – I’ll amend this after I see the movie a second time in a far better one. There was also a few instances of strange CGI for me, principally around Thanos himself – sometimes he just looks … weird, which admittedly probably should be the case for a giant purple alien dude with a weird-ass chin.

This is also a very fast-paced movie. A friend of mine who went with me to see it has already griped about the timeline not quite meshing for him, but I think that’s nitpicking because it was intentionally meant to feel fast for urgency’s sake. There are several major action set pieces in this – there were … five, I think? Maybe only four – which has really big fights. From the trailers, you can identify three of them easily – New York with Iron Man & Doctor Strange; Wakanda with Cap, Widow, Panther, and all the rest; the alien planet with Iron Man, Strange, Spidey, & the Guardians vs Thanos – and they’re all fairly well done with some genuine “Oh, crap … are they really going to …” moments throughout. There are also a couple of … let’s call them minor skirmishes along the way that don’t quite count as full-on action pieces, but exist to push the narrative along.

I was also surprised with how adeptly the Russo brothers juggled the humor. There’s still the trademark Marvel jokes scattered throughout – Thor consistently calls Rocket “Rabbit” and it’s funny each time – although I will admit that there were a couple of moments (principally surrounding Starlord’s initial attempts to out alpha male Thor) where it sort of fell flat for me, but overall, it was pretty solid and amusing.

And ultimately, this movie definitely does not end with the usual “The good guys kick a lot of butt and then soundly defeat the bad guy(s).” I’ve seen people refer to this as the Empire Strikes Back of the MCU movies and yeah … it does have that kind of vibe. Some people have mixed feelings about how this ended but knowing that Avengers 4 comes out next year and is basically Part 2 of this, I’m satisfied.

So overall, I loved this movie. I give it a solid 8.5 to 9 out of 10 (points off for some weirdness with the CG in a few places, a couple of failed jokes, and the darkness on the screen … which admittedly may have been the crappy theater.) It is, IMO, one of the best MCU flicks they’ve made mostly because Thanos lived up to his rep…

And now … SPOILERS…

You’ve been warned.

Seriously. You’ve been warned.

Upon your head it be.

Right. Okay. Where to start? Plot sequence? Nah. You can get that by going to the wiki – I will make some comments about the various sequences though and am following along with the sequence:

We pick up right where Thor: Ragnarok ended, with Thanos & Co. having butchered a bunch of Asgardians – no sign of Valkyrie, so we don’t know if she kicked it or not – because he’s here for the Tesseract that Loki nabbed from Odin’s vault in T:Ragnarok. This leads to the funny callback to Avengers 1 only this time it is Loki saying “We have a Hulk” – that was pretty cool, though seeing the big green guy get thoroughly demolished by Thanos pretty much set the stage for what was to come. I actually wasn’t that surprised when Loki was killed but Heimdall’s death did catch me a little off-guard.

As a fan of the original Infinity Gauntlet comic, I was amused by how Hulk replaced the Silver Surfer in crashing into Strange’s Sanctum with the “Oh, crap! Thanos is coming!” bits. Stark is quickly brought into the story – I was a little unclear about his exact status with regards to Pepper; this seemed to imply that they’re married now? That sort of fits with Spider-Man: Homecoming & the ring bit at the end, but again, I wasn’t sure if Strange’s brief “Congrats on the wedding” was supposed to be a “Hey, I can peer into the future & I know you’re getting married” or if they already tied the knot. Going to presume the latter.

Anyway, this quick recap – Banner: Thanos is coming! Thanos is coming! We’re all doomed! – leads to the first major set piece in New York as well as the reveal that Banner can’t seem to transform back into the Hulk. This was never explained, so I’m just presuming that Hulk is terrified by Thanos after being curbstomped by him. Spidey gets involved – nice way to involve Ned, however briefly; I really liked their friendship in Homecoming so seeing it again was cool – and this led to the Iron Spider suit … which was rather interesting to see. Not something I would want him to wear all the time – honestly, I liked the Stark-built suit in Homecoming but would have liked most of the tech in it stripped out somewhat. So now Iron Man, Spidey, and Doc Strange are off-world…

I think we jumped to the Guardians here … may get the exact sequence confused so some of the stuff may be out of sequence. I was really impressed with how well the Russo brothers managed to emulate the tone of those movies with this bit. Funniest background event for me here was after Starlord told everyone to put on their “mean faces,” Mantis could be seen behind him making a positively TERRIBLE “mean” face which totally tracks with her character. Intro Thor who survived the prologue & then everyone admiring his awesome muscles while mocking Quill. This leads to another quick data-dump and is where some of the comedy fell flat for me with Quill trying to out-macho Thor. It fit his character, but still, it just didn’t quite work for me. The team splits up – Rocket (who Thor calls and keeps calling “Rabbit” through the rest of the movie, much to my hilarity) and teenage Groot go with Thor to … Nidavellir (had to look up the spelling) so he can get a new hammer while the rest of the Guardians go to Knowhere in an attempt to retrieve the Infinity Stone that Odin (or was it Loki Disguised as Odin? Not sure) sent to the Collector at the end of Thor: The Dark World.

Jump to Scotland where we reveal Vision & Scarlet Witch are a couple. This was a nice callback to the comics where their counterparts married. Two more of Thanos’ “children” show up and kick them around a bit … until my boy, Cap, shows up with his work-wife & their flying sidekick. Nice, quick fight here that highlights how utterly badass these Secret Avengers are. I really, really liked the quick displays of teamwork they showed – honestly, I kind of want a short movie that just has them kicking everyone’s ass like this because it was neat. They all go to New York where Rhodes is talking to holographic Secretary Ross – nice bit with Ross ordering Rhodes to arrest them all, but him basically ignoring the guy. Banner is back and, as someone who really didn’t like the whole Black Widow/Hulk near-romance in Avengers: Age of Ultron, I was rather glad they didn’t even bother touching on that more than Nat saying “Hello, Bruce” & Falcon murmuring that this was awkward. What’s awkward, Bird Boy? The fact that they pretty much always had Nat standing alongside her work-husband, Steve? Heh.

Thor ends up with a new hammer – Stormbreaker, which is the name of the hammer that Beta-Ray Bill had in the comics, though this one looks a little more like Ultimate Thor’s version of Mjollnir. The handle is made of Groot arm, which was pretty cool (but does lead to an interesting question later.)

Gamora ends being killed by Thanos so he can recover the Soul Stone – this had a neat (and surprising) cameo by the Red Skull who is now quite a bit older (and sadly but not surprisingly, portrayed by someone other than Hugo Weaving who notoriously loathed the makeup process so badly he said ‘never again.’) Her death later causes problems as the characters on Titan – Stark & Co. plus the Guardians – ambush Thanos with a plan that comes very close to succeeding … until Mantis (who is using her mind powers to incapacitate Thanos while others try to pry the Gauntlet off) reveals that Thanos is grieving & Nebula (blue Amy Pond & Gamora’s sister) realizes that Gamora is dead. This results in Starlord freaking out and punching Thanos … which knocks Mantis free. Things go … poorly from that point. Thanos kicks much ass here, up to and including him throwing a moon at the heroes. Highlight of this for me was that Spidey immediately went into life-saving mode – as I recall, he rescued an unconscious Mantis like four times, as well as Drax & Starlord, which was pretty awesome. Eventually, it came down to Thanos vs Strange (Thanos won), then Thanos vs Iron Man (Thanos won again) – the latter bit ended with Thanos stabbing Stark rather seriously which made me wonder if they’d actually have the stones to kill him off right there … until I remember the set leaks for Avengers 4 that have Stark in them. Strange surrendered the Time Stone to Thanos in exchange for Stark’s life … which leads me to believe that this is part of the “only one good future where they win” that he mentions earlier in the Titan scene.

Finally, the big battle in Wakanda. The trailers that have a bunch of people running forward, including the Hulk? You know, the one that I used on this? They’re a lie. Banner NEVER Hulks out again after getting curbstomped by Thanos early on which is touched on but not explained. In fact, that running scene never happens. Banner is in the Hulkbuster armor though. Some highlights of this Wakanda fight for me are (as stated) Cap and Panther sprinting super fast ahead of everyone else, and then Thor shows up with his new hammer to start curbstomping the enemy army while bellowing “Bring me Thanos!” – Nice bit here. When the Bifrost opens and the lightning starts raining down, Banner pops open his helmet and shouts that they’re all screwed now. He knows what’s coming. And brother, Thor brings the whoop-ass. Another hysterical moment has Rocket (on Earth) and shooting at the bad guys – he’s about to be overwhelmed when Bucky grabs him with his robot arm, then begins to spin while shooting his machine gun in the other arm while Rocket continues to shoot. Very funny.

And then, Thanos arrives. Wanda blows up the stone in Vision’s head (at his request & much to her anguish), but Thanos has the Time Stone now, so he backs it up, then yanks the unbroken stone free, killing Vision in the process. Now he’s got the whole Gauntlet … and then Thor arrives to plunge the axe portion of Stormbreaker into his chest. In a lesser flick, this is literally the deus ex machina (since Thor is technically a “god”) … but Thanos tells him he should have aimed for the head. He snaps the fingers on his Gauntleted hand and teleports away. A moment later, people start disintegrating. Not everyone – curiously, ALL of the original Avengers present in this movie (Cap, Widow, IM, Thor, Banner) survive but nearly all of the other hero characters die. Bucky. Falcon. Groot. Starlord. Mantis. Black Panther. Scarlet Witch (who was cradling Vision’s body and almost looked relieved to be dying.) Drax. Spider-Man. And then in the final scene (after some seriously long credits), Maria Hill and Nick Fury himself!

I actually think they missed an opportunity at the end. Everyone in Wakanda is looking at Cap and saying ‘What happened?’ and he says “Oh, God…” – I think they should have done a callback to the first Avengers and have him say “We lost…” (if you recall A1, when they woke Tony with Hulk’s yell, Steve said “We won…”)

Right. So the casualties. Holy crap, that was a lot of dead people. Now obviously, a lot of them aren’t going to stay dead – Black Panther and Spider-Man both have sequels greenlit so they aren’t staying dead – and it seems clear to me that this is the only way to “victory” based on Strange’s comment, but I figure that all of the deaths pre-finger snap are here to stay. So Loki is dead (which causes millions of fangirls all across the world to scream in anguish), as is Heimdall, Gamora, and Vision. (Don’t think any of the others were killed prior to the finger-snap.) Unclear is Valkyrie (since we didn’t see her in the open)

But yeah. Definitely a downer ending. The Villain won! And a lot of people died.

And it was glorious…

Game Prep: Traveller, 4.13 (Part 2)

Had an interesting thought regarding the whole “counter-boarding action” thing – the group has sort of previously established that Haank is in command during tactical situations (which this definitely is) so if he orders the other PC to not counter-board … they’re not going to. I sent along a reminder to Haank’s player about that to see what he says – I sort of anticipate him to say yeah, Haank is going to order them back.

That leaves me with a lot of empty space to fill and I had a neat idea (naturally at freaking midnight, when I’m trying to go to sleep!) about what to do next. I’d already stated in my previous prep notes for 4.13 that the Resolute’s commander wants this ship, so that’s a point, but in the adventure itself, there’s a bit later where the bad guys these vargr are replacing attempt to ambush the PCs on the ground as well, so what I’m thinking is thus:

  • Presuming Haank orders them not to counter-board, suddenly, the corsair pulls away hard, tearing free of the connecting umbilical.
  • At the same time, the pilot of the Miss Adventure (who is still near or at her controls on the bridge) shouts out for everyone to brace for emergency maneuvers! She throttles up the drive hard which throws people not using mag-boots around.
  • Poor Eddy. He’s outside the ship so he’s caught off-guard when she suddenly thrusts away! This leaves him floating free (and probably some of the vargr who were in the aft section as well)!
  • The corsair opens fire on the Adventure at pretty much point-blank range – SM +9, Zero Range +20, sAcc of +5, plus RoF bonus +2 for total of +36; worst possible roll that isn’t a critical fail puts 13 rounds on-target! – this will rip into the Adventure all along the Front Hull … and potentially hitting PCs which could give Ella’s player an out for her character if she takes even a single shot … I mean, that’s 5dx3 (2) burn decade-scale … although honestly, I should use the casualties bit in space combat with the worst being 6dx6 crushing damage (which is theoretically 216 points but is actually more likely 108 … or just 8 to chest after reducing space armor.) 3d-2(10) burn is potentially awesome though, especially on a limb. This is also a great way to kill off Aris while he remote-piloting Jim…
    • Presuming just a single hit from that corsair (which isn’t going to be likely – no one to Dodge!) at complete averages, that’s 45 points of damage, then reduced to 25 after DR. After last week’s shenanigans, the Adventure is already down to 43 hp (out of 200) so just two hits will put them into the negatives. Again, presuming above 13 hits, that’s a total of 325 points! This puts the ship beyond the threshold of one Death Check.
    • For sake of “I don’t want to blow up the ship right now,” let’s cap the number of shots that penetrate to 5. This is a total of 125 points which, while putting the Adventure into the negatives (-82, in fact) doesn’t put them to the first death check threshold.
    • This allows me to have all PCs roll against the Casualties chart. PCs may us CPs as normal.
  • Anyway, back to the “excitement” – there was a NPC gunner who could potentially retaliate though this is unlikely because he was getting ready to shoot – it’s actually more likely he’s a casualty … although he would get the -1 to the check because he’s in a Core system at the time – but then the corsair breaks off and begins burning hard away … and the NPC pilot declares that a flight of Imperium fighters (say 3) are pursuing! Three others are angling toward the PCs.
  • During this, Eddy will see flashes and sparkles of laser fire. Nearby should be the boarding shuttle which was probably his target … but now there are some hostiles near it and they’re likely going to be shooting at him and/or Jim, the drone who was outside the ship as well.
    • Something I would like to do is actually have Eddy accidentally kill one of the vargr. Thus far, the player has gone out of his way to avoid actually killing anyone because that doesn’t fit Eddy’s character so I’d like to sort of force him into it to give him an opportunity to roleplay Eddy dealing with this.
    • With that in mind, I could trigger his Unluckiness here. The explosives he was carrying have been triggered somehow – the ARMED thing starts flashing and counting down – so logically he will throw it away from him. Knowing Eddy’s intentional attempt to avoid killing, he’s going to intentionally try to hurl in the opposite direction … so how do I describe him screwing up the throw? He’s got great Free Fall and Spacer skills – 13 in it – so asking for that kind of roll doesn’t work. I suppose I could just say that it gets tangled up in something which alters the trajectory so the explosive tumbles squarely into the chest of a vargr before it explodes and vaporizes him. Eddy is (likely) aghast.
  • Eventually, Eddy and any surviving vargr may be retrieved.

This way, I can have the vargr show back up later on the planet (having eluded the fighters or damaged them sufficiently that they were forced to break off; perhaps they even killed a couple … hmm. I may do a sort of “roll this out myself” to determine what happened?) while simultaneously establishing yet another reason why Krin wants them…

Uh … what?

Evidently, my blog got hit by a web-crawler yesterday (but sadly, not Spider-Man) or perhaps by someone utterly bored and drastically interested in everything I’ve ever said. Normally, I get at least two to three views a day, sometimes upwards of 15 to 20 on Thursdays (when Doug Cole’s GURPSDay happens) but yesterday … man. I got blasted with 80+ yesterday …

Game Prep: Traveller, 4.13

Resuming where we started puts the PCs about to conduct a counter-boarding operation against the vargr corsair following the disastrous attempt by the pirates to seize the Miss Adventure. Rather than using the normal corsair deckplan (which I found online), I’m going to use the below:

I also did some review of the characters whose Enemy this is and observed that both have 3-5 as the number. This means to me that there are 3-5 (4, actually) “Named” bad guys among the vargr who are truly relevant to this encounter. The rest are basically mooks (and thus, are equipped accordingly.) However, I want this boarding action to be memorable so the 4 remaining bad guys really should put up a fight. At least more of one than the dude that Ella wasted straight away.

Upon entering the airlock, PCs are immediately in that area with the lifepods. Right away, I see a problem: coming in from the left (as the PCs will), if they turn left again, the bridge is right there! So I’m going to have some counter-boarding measures in place – four popup turrets that will activate and fire Tangler rounds (UT155) at PCs. These will be … let’s say 40mm, so anyone hit must win a ST or Escape contest vs ST 24 (or 26 with two impacts, 28 with three, and so on.) Further, since the bad guys have all of the internal cameras, they’ll be able to do popup shots from concealment (I’m totally going to have some smuggler’s compartments throughout the ship where dudes can pop out of nowhere and shoot PCs in the back.) Some of the hostiles are also going to be using real ammo – in last week’s session, the PCs deployed HEMP rounds (UT155) against my guys with great effect … so I’m going to do the same. Just with the big guys, of course, but a single hit by one of those round could legitimately ruin a PCs day (or life.)

I do wonder if I can play with gravity during this action? Like, suddenly it goes to 10Gs … something to research, I suppose.

Simultaneously, Eddy will be outside the Miss Adventure and observe a boarding shuttle nearby. This is about when the vargr hostiles have been given the order to withdraw, so he could potentially run afoul of them and of it. That said, Jim the drone is on attack approach so that boarding shuttle may be crippled … hmm. Will need stats for that, I suppose. The Ahab-class boarding cutter in Spaceships 4 (p22) is pretty darned close – about 5 feet too short and not quite enough seats (total of 8 plus pilot where the pic I have has the seats at 16 plus pilot) – but for my needs, good enough. Uses Piloting (Aerospace) … hmm. Do any of the PCs even have that skill? Doesn’t look that way…

Ideally, I will be able to add a ‘ticking clock’ to this. The corsair will likely break free of the Adventure while the PCs are in the process of boarding with a clear intent on engaging and destroying the PC ship … although I probably will have a flight of Imperium fighters (Rampart-class, I think) burning toward the engagement zone.

Granted, once the four Major foes are downed, the rest of the vargr are going to start surrendering … it’s just a matter of how many the PCs have to kill to get to that point. I think that, if the PCs kill three of the Major Bad Guys, the survivor is likely to surrender which leaves the option open for Ella and/or Sae to not buy off the Enemy (or buy it off if they so desire with that survivor having had more than enough.)

And speaking of Ella, her player has expressed to me a desire to possibly retire the character principally because she (the player) utterly loathes being in charge, so depending upon her feedback to me, I may also manipulate events so Ella is grievously injured in the boarding action and must sit out the rest of the adventure (likely in the medical bay on the Resolute which the PCs will go to after this mess is over.) That way, the player can run Lee or Armin (probably Armin) for the ground ops stuff.

Anyway, once the boarding action is over, presuming the PCs aren’t thoroughly fraked up or even straight up dead (which seems unlikely since they can burn CPs to turn a mortal injury into a flesh wound), the matter of what to do with the corsair comes up. Obviously, the PCs don’t have enough people to properly crew it, not with a bunch of captured vargr prisoners, but with the Imperium fighters now swarming over them and the Resolute coming into view thanks to the planet’s rotation – it is in a geosynchronous orbit over Quopist’s single major city, Tel Bollin – the Imperium will start getting involved. PCs can get the Adventure and the Dzarukh moving via prize crews – honestly, I don’t think it would be that hard for someone to pilot the corsair into proper position – at which point the Resolute will tractor them. The Resolute is significantly larger than either ship – the Adventure and Dzarukh are 400 dTons, the Resolute is 60,000 – and some of the crew will be taken aboard the Imperium ship (this is especially the case if there are critical injuries that need proper medical attention.) The greeting officer (notably wearing a Scout uniform instead of regular navy) will demand identification which he inputs into the system; soon after, a request comes down for Ella (maybe, this presumes she’s not injured; if she is hurt, then replace Ella with Sae for specific reasons) and Haank to accompany him to the commander.

The commander is Angela Krin, who Haank knows from University though he knew her under a far different name; he knew her as Elana Shankarr Muudashir, the heir to Duchess Delphine of Mora, but she will promptly introduce herself using her pseudonym with a sharp look to Haank that is clearly an attempt to convey the message ‘don’t you dare dispute me on this.’ The nature of Haank’s relationship with her in the past is something I’m going to leave up to the player. Regardless, the commander is also wearing a Scout uniform and may potentially reveal that she & her entire crew are IISS who have been temporarily seconded here. (This would explain why Sae is summoned if Ella is unavailable.) Note that the other PCs (like Eddy) may also learn this from chatting.

As stated elsewhere, this adventure is part of Tempest Feud so Krin has orders to not allow anyone to breach the quarantine. Further, she wants the corsair under her command – her intent is put a prize crew aboard her, then park the ship on the other side of the planet so as to reduce the amount of space her CAP has to cover. There is legal precedent for this – the corsair violated quarantine protocols so, by law, she is authorized to seize it; however, Haank will be aware (with proper Law checks) that there is also precedent stating that, technically, this corsair is now the legal property of the count of Porozlo since it attacked a ship flying his flag and was taken by personnel in his employ in a perfectly legal act of self-defense. The corsair fired at the Adventure first, after all. As to the PCs violating the quarantine, she cannot allow that … although she may be swayed to it. Ideal solution here: the Miss Adventure remains in orbit with token crew (NPCs, possibly under command of Lee) to conduct repairs (Krin may end up allowing some of her crew to assist since they’re basically twiddling their thumbs) while PCs take one of the boarding shuttles dirtside; the corsair is legally identified as now belonging to Count Para of Porozlo but is leased for use by the Scout service for the duration of this quarantine, at which point it will be returned to him. A deft bit of negotiation could lead to this.

Dirtside the PCs go, now with a fighter escort … unless they try to run the blockade instead. Once planetside, they are expected to go to Tel Bollin, the city itself, where they may begin to start poking around and trying to locate the missing Lord Mika. Here, there are several locations that the PCs may end up at:

  • Skydove Freight – this is the obvious first spot, but it will be devastated by looters, though there is something pointing them to a cantina (remember: this was in Star Wars.)
  • At the cantina, they may encounter one of Mika’s bodyguards – this fellow is suffering from the plague and is here only because his lord and master told him to remain behind to keep a look out for people from home. He is also being badly hassled by some violent thugs strung out on tempest – this is initially intended to be a combat encounter but Eddy may end up talking them out of this somehow although the bikers may end up coming back later.
  • From the bodyguard, PCs may learn that Mika is in the “Temple Valley” which is some distance away … and they have no ship. Conveniently (as they’ll learn) there are always caravans heading out into the wilderness to bring supplies to the smaller towns and villages … all they’ve got to do is convince one such caravan to head toward the Temple Valley.

This should probably bring me to the end of the session. Ideally, I’d like to stop with the caravan setting out, then reveal to the players that an ominous shadowy figure is watching them depart…

 

Recap and GM Notes: Traveller, 4.12

The TL;DR outline recap can be found here if one doesn’t want to listen to just under 4 hours.

This session can really be split up into three parts – tempted to say beginning, middle and end – which break down into Porozlo negotiations, space battle, and boarding action. With the Porozlo bit, we needs to take care of some admin stuff. Unfortunately, straight away, one of the players was getting antsy about this and wanted to just “get on with it.” This player is in the middle of a big move (from Omaha to down here in OKC) so his antsiness is kind of understandable. Still, I tried to hurry that along but we kept getting distracted, which didn’t help.

Roughing Eddy up was always part of my plan, but again, it didn’t quite work as well as I intended. After the fact, I realize that Eddy needs a “win” at some point in the near future since he’s been relatively unsuccessful with regard to his area of expertise. So I have to keep that in mind.

And then, the space battle. OMFG, I screwed this up while simultaneously observing issues I have with the Spaceships system. It did not help that the PCs spent way too much time arguing over what to do once they realized that the vargr ship had them missile-locked, but even still, the fact that the Spaceships combat system doesn’t have rounds happening simultaneously but instead everything is based off the pilot(s)’ speed really complicates matters. The damage dealt out to the Miss Adventure was fairly significant (and I still haven’t determined exactly how expensive it is to repair that sort of damage) but it was the Surge effect from the swarms that knocked them out – six warheads got past the point-defense (one of the gunners rolled like crap) so I had all six of the players roll once for the ship’s health … and one of the players (Buck’s, I think?) rolled a 17. The system knocked out (appropriately enough) was the Engine Room. And the PCs didn’t even get a chance to properly shoot back! This is one of my problems with this system – I think it should happen simultaneously so two ships could conceivably knock each other out. I may float that as an alternate to the Players to see what they think? At the same time, though, this actually sort of made sense as the vargr were waiting in ambush and were “Advantaged.” Still, I felt like this was a complete fail on my part.

At this point, Ella’s player declared that they were sending a “we’re standing down” message to the vargr. Haank’s player called for a Tactics check – which I thought was a good idea – then barely made it by 1; luckily for him, I failed by 1, so rather than have the vargr use breaching charges against the doors and enter very aggressively (complete with attack drones), I determined on the fly that they were bored and complacent and not expecting stiff resistance. As a result, they ended up losing an entire team (five vargr) including their overall pack leader (commander) in the opening seconds of the encounter – Ella, armed with a shotgun that Sae gave her, was particularly deadly. At the same time, Eddy was going on a space walk with explosives that he was planning on setting on the vargr ship.

We ended there, with the PCs about to counter-board the vargr ship. The players are already discussing what to do when they take the corsair which, based on how easily they’ve blown through the initial bad guys, doesn’t seem to be getting ahead of themselves. Now I’ve got to figure out how to make the boarding action actually interesting…

On the bright side, the PCs being badass as they blow through the vargr mercs was the last scene of the session so everyone remembers that instead of the thoroughly botched up space battle.

Game Prep: Swarm EMP Missiles

Had an interesting thought regarding the Dzarukh corsair that I stated out here. Specifically with regards to the missiles. Notably, a single missile using Spaceships is potentially a ship-killer – 6dx8 (2) is freaking brutal; presuming average damage of 3, that comes out as 144 points that halves DR! In this case, though, it occurred to me that such a weapon is not a great idea for a pirate – destroying the ship you want to loot is kind of self-defeating. So I had a thought based on something I wrote in a Trek fanfic an eternity ago. Basically, the concept is that a single missile houses multiple (albeit much smaller) warheads; utilizing proximity detonation, the primary missile breaks apart into the smaller warheads that then swarm the target. Obviously, they do significantly less damage than the larger one (so, say each warhead does 1d per warhead instead of 6d?) but even then, they want to seize the target vessel and this doesn’t help.

So, with that in mind, what if we add the Surge modifier to each warhead? So maybe go with 1dx5 (2) cr sur for each warhead … this still does some damage but the Surge part has the chance of shutting down additional systems which, on older starships with crappier HT checks, works fantastically. Yeah. There we go.