This week…

Covering for the other IT guy at work this week since he’s out on vacation and am once again reminded how much I freaking loath getting up at 0715 every morning. I’ve told the boss already that he doesn’t pay the other guy enough to deal with mornings. The only advantage to it is being out of the office by 4 everyday.

Pity it’s like 450 degrees by then. Would love to go biking…

Gah

Had to cancel tonight’s game. This morning, I woke up feeling a lot better than I have all week but sounding worse than Christian Bale as Batman. So … yeah. No game. Next week.

Sick

Blech. Got back from Omaha and everything seemed fine until Monday afternoon when I started feeling an all too familiar tickle in my throat. Not a big surprise since there were some sick people at the wedding this weekend. Did the NyQuil coma thing that evening, then came in really late yesterday. I’m recovering … but slowly. Right now, the two irritating symptoms are sore throat and runny nose, both of which … just ugh…

Game Prep: Traveller, 4.16

So, I’m back from the “vacation” and have to get back into the proper head space for Saturday’s game. Which is also an issue at work since it’s always difficult after four days off.

Ultimately, this looks like the session is going to be fairly linear for the moment. Currently, I think it’ll play out in this sequence:

  • PCs interact with Lord Mika, learn that the crashed starship he’s investigating appears to be the source of the plague.
  • Soon after this, the raiders will strike, but will withdraw if (when) they hit serious resistance. Given that the PCs have been observed by the raiders so they know at least one of them is in space armor, their leader is going to have an infantry missile with an APEP warhead so he can try to take the armored guy out. He’s only got two shots and it isn’t a homing weapon, so Buck could theoretically dodge. As stated, serious resistance causes them to retreat – this is especially true if the leader gets whacked.
  • If the leader doesn’t get whacked, the raiders are going to make a second attempt while the PCs are escorting Lord Mika back to Tel Bollin, so we could do a Chase or a fight while PCs are aboard Mika’s cargo-lifter (think: Star Wars skiff.)
  • Once back in Tel Bollin, PCs will have an opportunity to observe some vargr who can lead them to the parked corsair. That will likely happen late in the session or in 4.17 as the PCs take the corsair (perhaps with some assistance from CDR Krin’s marines?)

Pretty simple. So stuffs I need:

  • Raiders. Got their stats in the previous Traveller post.
  • Sundro Tam, the raider leader. I think I’ve posted his stats before. Will have to verify.
  • Combat map for crashed ship. Got it.
  • Combat map for the skiff raid.
  • Stats for the vargr characters – got them, though I need to adjust them for low-grav … maybe.
  • Combat map for the corsair location. I may just use the crashed ship map again, although I’d actually like to have a different one.

I expect the taking of the corsair to be a rough fight … which is why I was thinking I could theoretically have the PCs locate the corsair, then have them run a team of heavily armed marines sent in to kick the shit out of the vargr corsairs…hmm … I actually kind of like that idea. If I go that route, I’d need to spin up the marine stats…

Recap and Game Notes: Traveller, 4.15

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

Dear God, I bungled this session. Of the six players plus one GM, I think two of them were sort of satisfied with the pseudo skill challenge narrative thing I kinda/sorta tried out. I had some quasi-notes about skill challenges, but I did not implement them properly and then, I let the players … or rather, two of the players really kind of dictate how it would play out. This ended up, I believe, confusing the snot out of nearly everyone else (including me, I’m afraid) so naturally, I had to add another level of complexity by throwing in the (still kind of useful) Chase Flow Chart from Top Secret/S.I., which only made things worse. Things started to correct themselves near the end, but by then, it was already too late.

This also took entirely too damned long and ate up a lot of the session. By the time we were done with this, we were in that weird point where it was too late to really start anything new.

I’d also not expected J-Aris to show back up for this session. He’s getting married this coming Friday so I totally didn’t factor in the drone showing back up, which totally FUBARed my plan for the follow-up firefight with the raiders. At Haank’s order, J-Aris raced ahead and … was completely ineffectual due to some poor rolls. Still, the appearance of an attack drone did a good job of convincing the raiders to withdraw.

So, yeah. Overall, I felt like this entire session was a bust. Amazing that two of the players seem to really enjoy themselves.

Man, I really need to do better.

Game Prep: Traveller, 4.15 (Part 2)

Giving additional thought to the planned oasis mother encounter, specifically in regards to the combat part of the map. Naturally, I can’t quite find the exact map I’m looking for, so what I’m thinking is dropping the below map in GIMP & swapping around the color palate so the “water” are tunnels and the “land” here is solid.


This means I need to figure out placement for the mother … at the moment, I’m sort of leaning toward it being above the PCs – so the wider mouth of the river thing in the map is also a lot taller as well. My ideal scenario has the PCs entering these tunnels, gradually realizing they’re in trouble – totally envisioning Ripley freezing and realizing she’s surrounded by “eggs” in Aliens – then inevitably looking up to see the oasis mother. Then I can have the zerg rush beginning, perhaps with poor Doctor Lewys standing in for a doomed red shirt (because he, like Eddy, has Unluckiness, but as a NPC, his bad luck takes precedence over a PC.) Although … more likely, the dude they’re looking for may be found here, deader than a doornail (sucked dry.) Explosive rounds should cause the lava to begin flowing once more and, if the PCs manage to force the oasis mother to fall, her falling mass will break through the rock and into the lava below … which should cause the oasis children to go insane (Mindlink and all.) Her thrashing about in pain should further cause trouble … hmm. I could totally throw in a Race here (maybe 3 to 6 rounds to escape the collapsing tunnel?) or maybe try to figure out how to do the skill challenges thing in GURPS.

A couple of other things immediately come to mind. Before we even get to this point, I have to get the PCs to this point and that’s not a given, especially as I’m totally going to have Dr. Lewys freaking out and insisting to Haank that they’ve done their due diligence. Clearly (following the initial oasis children attack from last session), they know what happened to the poor fellow so they’ve done their job and can go back. He’s definitely not wanting to follow these things any further. So, presuming that the PCs do proceed, I need to ensure they realize that the terrain is changing and that the trail leads down into a tunnel-like thing that an appropriate skill check may identify as a really old lava flow.

Now, in the event that the PCs say “Screw this noise. Dude is dead. We’re not getting paid enough for this crap. Let’s bail.” (which is entirely possible), I’ll ditch the oasis children/mother stuff entirely and have the PCs hear the sound of gunfire as they near the caravan. Upon reaching that, they’ll find it under assault by raiders. These guys will retreat fairly quickly once it becomes clear that the PCs significantly outgun them.

I previously stated out the raiders but, thanks to the Players realizing that Quopist is such a low-G world, I needed to adjust it. The raiders in this case (and in fact, all Quopist locals) will have the Light Worlder and Martian Drylander templates from Biotech. Since these raiders are all tempest users, I’ve applied my revised tempest addict template as well.

Tempest Raiders, 146-point human thug

ST 9 {10}; DX 11 {20}; IQ 11 {20}; HT 11 {10}

Damage 1d/2d-1; BL 45lb; HP 12 {6}; Will 11 {0}; Per 11 {0}; FP 11 {0}; Basic Speed 5.5; Basic Move 5

Templates and Meta-Traits

  • Light Worlder; includes Racial ST Penalty -2 {-20}; Long Arms (2 Arms) 1 {20}; Long Legs 1 {10}
  • Martian Drylander; includes Filter Lungs {5}; Low-Pressure Lungs {0}; Nictitating Membrane 1 {1}; Night Vision 3; Reduced Consumption 1 (Water Only, -50%) {1}; Resistant (Poison) (Common) (+3, *1/3) {5}; Temperature Tolerance (comfort zone between 35°F and 140°F) 5 {5}; Unnatural Feature (Cat-Like Eyes) -1 {-1}
  • Rogue (Traveller: Interstellar Wars)
  • Tempest Addict; includes Enhanced Times Sense (HT seconds immediately after use); High Pain Threshold (lasts HT-2 after use); Lifting ST 4 (lasts HT-2 after use); Striking ST 4 (lasts HT-2 after use); Berserk (12 or less) (Battle Rage) {-15}; Delusion (severe; I am INVINCIBLE), (lasts HT-2 after use); Euphoria condition (lasts HT-2 after use).

Advantages

  • Fearlessness 2 {4}
  • Zeroed {10}
  • Weapon Bond (Guns (Pistol))

Disadvantages

  • Addiction (Tempest) (Cheap) (Totally addictive) {-15}
  • Callous {-5}
  • Skinny {-5}
  • Social Stigma (Tempest User, easily observed) -5
  • Wealth (Dead Broke) {-25}

Skills

  • Area Knowledge (local planet) (E) IQ+2 {4} – 13
  • Brawling (E) DX+2 {4} – 13
  • Carousing (E) HT+1 {2} – 12
  • Filch () DX+0 {2} – 11
  • Guns/TL9 (Pistol) (E) DX+2 {4} – 13
  • Holdout (A) IQ-1 {1} – 10
  • Intimidation (A) Will+1 {4} – 12
  • Knife (E) DX+0 {1} – 11
  • Pickpocket (H) DX-1 {2} – 10
  • Piloting/TL9 (Contragrav) (A) DX+2 {8} – 13
  • Shadowing (A) IQ-1 {2} – 10
  • Stealth (A) DX+0 {2} – 11
  • Streetwise (A) IQ+1 {4} – 12
  • Survival (Desert) (A) Per+0 {2} – 11
  • Urban Survival (A) Per+0 {2} – 11

Equipment

  • Blackjack – thr 1d cr
  • Gauss Pistol, 4mm (TL9) – 3d(3) pi-
  • Reflex Bodysuit (TL9) – DR 12/4*

Game Prep: Traveller, 4.15

As with the previous session, the progression from the current spot in the adventure is fairly straight-forward, though I do have some unexpected environmental issues to factor in thanks to my relocation of the adventure to Quopist & the built-in factors there, specifically the crazy low Gravity – Eddy’s player has a physics degree & when his PC was KO’ed early on, he started doing the calculations; he determined that Quopist should have .12G … which is crazy.

Anyway, operating on the presumption that the PCs continue pursuing the whole “missing guard” guy, they’re eventually going to encounter more of the oasis children as well as the oasis mother itself. Now having engaged the children already & having seen what they’re capable of, the PCs aren’t likely to be especially concerned about them … nor should they, really. I mean, Buck is in space armor so these things can’t do anything to him but maybe gang-tackle him. Noting that, I want to make the encounter more … interesting, so I turned to Mass Effect. Specifically…

Yeah. The freaking Thorian. I sort of like the idea (if I can manage it) of having the PCs be zerg rushed by the children who are just a minor inconvenience at this point, but they could theoretically overwhelm the PCs simply by numbers. Ideally, I’m leaning toward emulating the Thorian in a handful of ways – not only are the ‘children’ essentially mindless, but I can have the Mother sort of suspended over a mostly underground river via anchor points that the PCs can dislodge through copious amounts of firepower or explosives. Say … four major anchor points but they need to destroy three of them before the sheer weight of the oasis mother causes it to go down.

This necessitates the PCs needing to go down somewhat, so I need to remember to describe the terrain as becoming rockier. I’m currently thinking that if they detect some residual heat traces (perhaps indicative of the person they’re trying to recover), that’ll be enough to lead them to the encounter site. The real bitch of this is going to be finding a wholly appropriate battle map for Fantasy Grounds. What I need to do is find a way to speed this entire encounter up so the PCs are forced to run.

Hmm. It occurs to me that what I could actually do is have this take place in and around an inactive or long dormant volcano so there could be many lava tubes that can serve for the in and out. Begs the question – is the lava still there? What benefit does the Mother get from having a lair here? Regardless, if the volcano is dormant, then actions by the PCs could theoretically cause it to erupt (or at least consume the Mother in pipping hot lava.) And fleeing from a lava eruption, no matter how small, certainly makes for exciting times.

Oh … it just occurred to me that Sae declared he was reloading with his AP-HEX explosive rounds and that could trigger the lava flow. Yeah. I’m liking this idea immensely.

From that point, after they escape this mess, the likely scenario is:

  1. Return to the caravan. (Am tempted to have them arrive to find it under attack by some raiders who retreat when the PCs show up but then show up again in #3 below, now better equipped and prepared.)
  2. Upon arrival at the Temple Valley (which does have some people in it), the PCs will be pointed to a crashed ship a few hours walk (or a short ride) away. This is where they encounter Lord Mika and his remaining bodyguards.
  3. Soon after they have established their identities with Mika, the ship is assaulted by a bunch of dudes on swoop bikes. These are spice pirates.
  4. Afterwards, Mika is ready to get off-planet himself so they all return to Tel Bollin.
  5. Now the original source material presumes the PCs ran the blockade and some of the would-be pirates they encountered earlier (the vargr in my scenario) are waiting for them outside their parked/hidden ship which results in a fight. Since this did not happen, the PCs must find the corsair … the most logical thing here is to have them get hit by some of the vargr on the way back to Tel Bollin so they can follow them back.

Still, I’ll be surprised if we get back to the caravan by session’s end.

Recap and Game Notes: Traveller, 4.14

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

This was a weird session and I left it feeling a little weird. Nothing was bad, per se; I just felt kind of strange at the end of it and couldn’t quite put my finger on what.

Something I straight away forgot to deal with was the two guys who had directed the PCs to the cantina. With Haank in charge (he has Honesty), I expect they’d be paid as promised, but I need to verify this.

Second, this entire session was mostly just a little bit of setup near the beginning, a tiny bit of ‘travel montage,’ then the plant monster fight. I actually wasn’t sure if I was going to use the ‘oasis children’ encounter (from the original source material) or have a raiders hit the caravan until I went ahead and pulled the trigger on the former simply because they’re alien and I don’t do enough of that sort of thing enough.

I probably screwed up a bit with regards to the oasis children’s “temperature” and whether they would show up on thermals. I said ‘no, they don’t’ and now, I’m not sure if that’s entirely correct. Not a big thing but the sort of thing that some of my players will argue over.

During the fight, Eddy went down due to the paralysis effect early on – he took 1 point of cutting damage after DR, then failed the HT check by 1 – so the player started digging into the gravity and the like of Quopist which turned out to be a lot lower than I expected it to be … which then led to some funny moments centered around Armin. Three times in a row, she did maximum damage with a (Strong) kick – 12 freaking points! – and, until Sae broke out his vibro-kukri, she was dealing the most damage of the group since two of them (Buck & Haank) were armed with gauss weapons and Sae’s pistol was less effective than he’d like.

I did not realize until gameplay that the oasis children’s Dodge was only 5 – I gave them Blindness per the original source material, but with Vibration Sense so they could “see” – which basically meant I should have gone ahead and done nothing but All-Out Attacks since I was that unlikely to Dodge. Lesson learned.

Game Prep: Traveller, 4.14 (Tempest Raiders)

In the original source material, during the caravan or whatnot, the PCs may or may not encounter the oasis children. I’m still planning on that happening, but there are also the threat of ‘spice raiders’ later so what I’m thinking of doing is having the caravan be raided along the way … even if the PCs opt to not go with a caravan, they can encounter one being raided along the way so the PCs may have the opportunity to lend a hand. Even if I don’t have this take place, some of the raiders will show up later, so… better have stats for them.

Raiders in this case (and in fact, all Quopist locals) will have the Martian Drylander template from Biotech. Since these raiders are all tempest users, I’ve applied my revised tempest addict template as well.

Tempest Raiders, 130-point human thug

ST 11 {10}; DX 11 {20}; IQ 11 {20}; HT 11 {10}

Damage 1d+1/2d+1; BL 45lb; HP 11 {0}; Will 11 {0}; Per 11 {0}; FP 11 {0}; Basic Speed 5.5; Basic Move 5

Templates and Meta-Traits

  • Martian Drylander; includes Filter Lungs {5}; Low-Pressure Lungs {0}; Nictitating Membrane 1 {1}; Night Vision 3; Reduced Consumption 1 (Water Only, -50%) {1}; Resistant (Poison) (Common) (+3, *1/3) {5}; Temperature Tolerance (comfort zone between 35°F and 140°F) 5 {5}; Unnatural Feature (Cat-Like Eyes) -1 {-1}
  • Rogue (Traveller: Interstellar Wars)
  • Tempest Addict; includes Enhanced Times Sense (HT seconds immediately after use); High Pain Threshold (lasts HT-2 after use); Lifting ST 4 (lasts HT-2 after use); Striking ST 4 (lasts HT-2 after use); Berserk (12 or less) (Battle Rage) {-15}; Delusion (severe; I am INVINCIBLE), (lasts HT-2 after use); Euphoria condition (lasts HT-2 after use).

Advantages

  • Fearlessness 2 {4}
  • Zeroed {10}
  • Weapon Bond (Guns (Pistol))

Disadvantages

  • Addiction (Tempest) (Cheap) (Totally addictive) {-15}
  • Callous {-5}
  • Skinny {-5}
  • Social Stigma (Tempest User, easily observed) -5
  • Wealth (Dead Broke) {-25}

Skills

  • Area Knowledge (local planet) (E) IQ+2 {4} – 13
  • Brawling (E) DX+2 {4} – 13
  • Carousing (E) HT+1 {2} – 12
  • Filch () DX+0 {2} – 11
  • Guns/TL9 (Pistol) (E) DX+2 {4} – 13
  • Holdout (A) IQ-1 {1} – 10
  • Intimidation (A) Will+1 {4} – 12
  • Knife (E) DX+0 {1} – 11
  • Pickpocket (H) DX-1 {2} – 10
  • Piloting/TL9 (Contragrav) (A) DX+2 {8} – 13
  • Shadowing (A) IQ-1 {2} – 10
  • Stealth (A) DX+0 {2} – 11
  • Streetwise (A) IQ+1 {4} – 12
  • Survival (Desert) (A) Per+0 {2} – 11
  • Urban Survival (A) Per+0 {2} – 11

Equipment

  • Blackjack – thr 1d+1 cr
  • Gauss Pistol, 4mm (TL9) – 3d(3) pi-
  • Reflex Bodysuit (TL9) – DR 12/4*