Game Prep: The Aadkashli Cartel

GURPS Boardoom and Curia is a weird book for me. I really like the idea of an organization having what amounts to a statblock that the GM can look at to quickly determine what that org is immediately capable of as well as their numbers and general capabilities.

So I like what they’re trying to do but … ultimately, the book is less useful than I would like principally because its kind of a pain (for me) to get the stats. I really would like to have a spreadsheet of some sort to spin these up super quick.

Regardless, I thought I’d use this to create the primary target of the F2F game – which I absolutely need to come up with a cool campaign name for – in the form of a drug trafficking cartel clearly intended to emulate the Medellín Cartel that was such a problem in the 1980s. This is what I came up with.

The Aadkashli Cartel

Mission Statement: The Aadkashli Cartel makes money in the Spinward Marches by selling tempest, smuggled onto worlds from its (apparent) clandestine labs somewhere in the Porozlo system. It dabbles in other contraband as well as a host of other crimes such as arms trafficking, murder, political corruption and targeted assassinations. Under the flamboyant leadership of Pavel Jaen Aadkashli, the organization controls members and in-system government by appealing to a combination of greed and fear.

CAPABILITIES
TL: 11^.
Members: 6,000 .
Wealth: Very Wealthy.
Contacts: Criminal skills-18 [15]; Drug skills-15 [10].
Member Traits: Hidden Facilities [5]; Legal Immunity (12 or less, -34%; Against local law-enforcement only, -34%) [6]; Social Stigma (Criminal Record) [-5]
Notable Resources: The Cartel controls a few dozen small-but-scattered “domed plantations”, seven small industrial complexes, about as many warehouses, and one well-hidden secret lab on the planet.
Reaction-Time Modifier: +2. Layers of secrecy increase the modifier for requests for mundane illegal activity (e.g., arranging a drug shipment from a known contact in the organization) to +4.

COSTS AND VALUES
Startup Cost: $76,399,200,000
Resource Value: $381,996,000
Patron Value: 15 points.
Enemy Value: -30 points.
Ally and Dependent Value: The group can supply 0-to 50-point thugs as Dependents or members of groups of Allies. The cartel leaders are worth at least 200 points, and doubtless have an exotic bodyguard or two worth something in between.

SOCIAL ATTRIBUTES
Type: Commercial, Criminal.
CR: 4.
Loyalty: Good (14; +3).
Rank: Organized Crime Rank 0-5 [2/level].
Income Range: $4,050 (Struggling) to $810,000 (Filthy Rich)
Reputation: -3 (criminal organization, among law-enforcement agencies and law-abiding civilians)

NOTES

The Aadkashli Cartel is a criminal organization that formed in 1115 when its main leaders Pavel Jaen Aadkashli, Eneri Ekiir, and the sisters Gamaagin, Nashu, Sharikkamur Namiirna banded together to gain a monopoly on contraband smuggling in the Porozlo system. Two years later, Karl Leiter and Adkhar Gemana joined the organization, bringing with them new drug-related resources.

In recent years, thanks to Aadkashli’s leadership, they have become the largest distributor of the new nano-drug tempest which has made them fabulously wealthy.

Game Prep: Porozlo System Details

So it is confirmed: I’ll be running a second Traveller game for my other gaming group at some point in the foreseeable future. As stated in the previous post about this, I very much want to try and get the feel of ‘The Expanse’ series, which necessitated figuring out the rest of the system specifics. The below is what I’ve come up with thus far.

World Government

Porozlo has a Balkanized government.

  • No central ruling authority exists. Rival governments compete for control.
  • The Private Ownership bloc (PO-bloc), which comprises about two fifths of the nations and over half the population of the planet, severely limits the size of corporate concerns by intensive regulation, fearing the ability of large multi-world concerns to influence and dominate local governments.
  • The Free Commerce bloc (FC-bloc) contains fewer nations, but is generally more industrialized and technologically advanced, and does not impose limits as do the PO-bloc nations.
  • Ever since House Anjiliac assumed the countship, they have been attempting to unify this system under a single government. These efforts have been frequently stymied by the constantly feuding nation-states of Porozlo

System Notes

Planetary (GURPS) Tech Level is 9^ but is gradually entering 10^.

Porozlo is a Binary System:

  • Primary is M1 V (Mass: 0.45, Temp: 3600, L-Min .07, L-Max .08, M-Span 70) – is about 49% size of Sol
  • Secondary (Companion) is M9 V This star is also almost 16,000km smaller than Jupiter, so it is very dim

1st World – Altmac

  • rockball close into the sun. 0.2AU/2 LM – Icy Core.
  • Contrary to Utzig, there are NO satellites here
  • A prison is located on this rock. It is an in-system Red Zone. I’m presuming that a count could declare something like that. I know that sub-sector dukes do have red zoned prisoners on crap worlds, so it seems logical for a count to have the same thing, just on a smaller scale.

2nd World – Porozlo

  • MainWorld – I moved it further from the sun than Utzig has it listed. Looking at that site, the Mainworld is now in that empty space that is .55AU/4LM from the Primary
  • 11 hour rotation, 220 day orbit
  • Two moons.
  •     Borsodi – closer moon, mini-Mars without the atmo, being mined, has domed facilities
  •     Dreher – more distant moon, being mined, has domed facilities
  • This is where Nemso Orbital – the main highport – is located; originally, this starport was mostly paid for by Nemso during construction but is now operated by the Imperium SPA after they bought it out
  • All nation stuff in the “Traveller: The New Deal” Wiki is still applicable

3rd World – Atrake

  • iceball, 0.9AU/7LM – Icy Core.
  • Lángos -outer moon, being mined
  • Rántott – inner moon, being mined
  • Minimal activity here … this world and its it’s two satellites are nominally under PO-Bloc control, but the distance from home has led them to basically ignore planetary directives at will. The count’s Colonial forces frequent this region so it is very friendly toward them.

4th World – Adwuj

  • molten ball, 3AU/24 LM – Molten Core. 3 Sats.
  • Quite frequently referred to as ‘the Furnace’ due to the molten core of the planet (including the very active volcanoes) as well as the relative proximity of the Porozlo Companion star.
  • Gulyás – inner moon
  • Pörkölt – mid-moon
  • Palacsinta – outer moon
  • Not much info on this just yet.

5th world – Amasec

  • 5.8AU/47 LM – Icy Core. 7 Sats
  • This world and its satellites are devoted to mining.
  • No less than seventeen different corporations from the Porozlo mainworld (nearly all from the Free Commerce bloc … but not all) have set up shop on either this world or one of its satellites. As a result, this region is the freaking Wild West. Efforts are being made to create a unified ruling council from the corporate interests…
  • Due to the placement of this planet squarely between the Porozlo mainworld and Vilnaf (aka the Outer System), the entire region – planet plus moons – was often known as the ‘Midway Region’ which has then been shortened simply to just ‘Midway’ (which covers the both the planet & its moons.)
  • If a conflict is going to happen between Colonial and Footholder forces, this region is where it is going to take place. By unspoken agreement between Colonial and Footholder governments, Midway acts as a form of a DMZ. Colonial ships do not venture further Outbound than this and Foothold forces likewise do not approach further Sunward.
  • Gesztenyepüré – moon 1, called simply ‘Gezta’ by locals.
  • Halászlé – moon 2, called simply ‘Hala’ by locals
  • Kürtoskalács – moon 3, called simply ‘Kurto’ by natives
  • Dobostorta – moon 4
  • Töltött – moon 5
  • Káposzta – moon 6
  • Pálinka – moon 7, has a Domed facility and sizeable population. This is probably the “Vegas” of the system

6th World – Vilnaf

  • Ringed gas giant, 11.4AU/1 LH 34LM – H2/CH4
  • Unicum is the closest major moon to the gas giant. Diameter: 3500 km Surface Gravity: 0.183G Length of Day: 42 Standard Hours Heavy mining activity to support the ‘Outer Zone’ with Power Cells and components. Viciously hostile surface with hundreds of active volcanoes and vast quantities of sulfur dioxide. All settlements are underground ones.
  • Rétes is another moon with minor activity Diameter: 3050 km Surface Gravity: 0.14G Length of Day: 84 Standard Hours Supplies the ‘Outer Zone’ with beef & vegetables; uses smaller greenhouses and orbital mirrors than Foothold. Crust largely composed of ice. Subterranean saltwater oceans in some regions.
  • Tokaj is another moon with activity Diameter: 4800 km Surface Gravity: 0.13G Length of Day: 168 Standard Hours TL9^ Shipyard is present here
  • Foothold is the largest moon in the Porozlan system as well as the largest headache for Count Para thanks to ill-advised actions taken by his grandfather in the years immediately following the Third Frontier War.

Foothold

  • Porozlo had been occupied by Zhodani forces for much of the final year of the conflict and, as a result, the entire system was in chaos when the war ended. Recovering from the chaos required a great deal of capital, which was something the Count at the time did not have. With a desperate need for money quickly, Count Istvaan entered into an agreement with a consortium of mining interests out of Rhylanor that allowed them to establish a colony on the larger moon of the system’s gas giant. The consortium’s official name for their new colony was a string of numbers but it quickly became known instead as Foothold thanks to an offhand remark made by the Consortium director at the time about the now having a foothold in the system. It was not intended to be a portent of things to come…
  • Within a decade, House Anjiliac regretted this policy as the ‘Footholders’ were thriving, having effectively assumed complete control of the entire moon as well as having extended their influence to the other satellites of Vilnaf. Without the count’s permission or knowledge, the Footholders had also begun constructing their own shipyard. This would provide them with even more political power throughout the system, which cemented their effective rulership of Vilnaf and its satellites.
  • Count Istvaan’s son, Endre, would move to revoke the colonial franchise when he ascended to the countship but by that point, it was too little, too late. The Footholders were firmly in control of the Outer System and Count Endre’s efforts met fierce resistance, both legal and illegal. Dirtside, the constantly simmering global conflicts between the rival Free Commerce and Private Ownership blocs abruptly flared up into all-out war with agents of the Footholders discreetly backing both sides. When Lord Endre died at the unseemly age of sixty-three, his personal physicians would attest that his constant stress over how to ‘revenge himself’ against the Footholders.
  • His son, however, already had plans in motion. Careful political manipulation by Count Para quickly saw fruit as legal actions at Rhylanor resulted in the mining consortium backing the Footholders collapse into internecine conflict and legal squabbling, thus cutting off a significant portion of their funding. This would force Foothold, out of financial necessity, to stop interfering with the global conflict, which was one of the count’s count’s primary intentions as it allowed him to pressure the warring factions into a peace settlement; Lord Para had also expected the pseudo government of Foothold to splinter into smaller, warring factions but to his very great surprise, his actions had the opposite effect. With two ruling members of his family in a row actively ‘persecuting’ them, Footholders now had an Enemy to focus their ire upon while they continued on. If something went wrong, well, clearly it was the Anjiliacs fault.
  • Currently, Foothold remains in nominal control of all the moons of Vilnaf. To maintain legal pretense of appearing legitimate, they pay taxes to the count grudgingly. Despite having been forced to withdraw to their sphere of influence, they are still something of a military power (although they utilize principally system defense boats, ala the Stardrake-Class 200 ton SDB.) They have an unknown number of such vessels available.

Game Prep: Traveller, Season 5

Based on my recap notes for the finale, It’s likely fairly obvious that I ended up being disappointed (principally with myself) with how the season ended because, IMO, it was too akin to me telling instead of showing, as well as a bit too much railroady … so I had an idea with how to “fix” it as well as to push forward some of my sub-plots and the like.

To wit, I’m thinking of beginning on Mora again, around the time that Sae is dealing with his former CO getting whacked, but with Buck.

  • He’s on the high station and sees Cynia Richter, his former crewmate. Since he wanted to talk to her after, this is logically that moment and they converse as they walk (during which time he realizes that there’s something off with her.”
  • Unfortunately, by then its too late and he discovers more protomoss-infected soldiers surrounding him! Even worse, there is a big ass bomb heavily contaminated with protomoss that Cynia detonates after telling that this [word: Fragment? Timeline?] is not ideal for ‘the work.’ The world explodes in a blue flash…
  • And suddenly, Buck is back at the Holiday List Gala along with the other PCs at the rally point. Somehow, he knows that something isn’t right but, like everyone else, he doesn’t remember the tail end of 4.22.
  • PCs, including J-Aris in his bot shell, hear lots of gunfire as well as screams and calls across the restored comms for help. ‘They’ve got a bomb’ can be heard.
  • Push PCs toward tactical firefight … with Infected and Cynia. They’re tough (Unliving) but sane.
  • During the firefight, Lara (Ine Givar) declares victory…and executes Archduke Norris on live televid!
  • When PCs finally defeat Infected, Cynia is still trying to trigger the bomb because this [word] is not ideal for the work. She’s obviously infected as well and when shot, she tells PC(s) that they cannot stop the work before suiciding- triggers something that ends with just her flesh hitting the floor. No bones or blood or muscle or organ. Just meat.
  • PCs realize Norris is dead, observe Ine Givar cut down by assaulting security and bots restored by J-Aris…
  • Suddenly, Sae’s boss not dead? How’s that play out? He still knows the truth about Norris, but since Norris is dead, this may not matter anymore.
  • All PCs experiencing weird deja vu for some reason.
  • Duchess Josephine of Regina is blaming Mora for Norris death. Norris’ heir is grievously injured by Ine Givar, may not survive. Drums of war beating.
  • Reveal Korbin was to be named Baronet anyway?
  • Pretty much all of the other stuff the PCs did at the end of the previous adventure – Armin gets some biosculpting, Sae is promoted in Intel, Spinward Star expands, etc. – happens as it did.

This opening episode will serve as an “Author’s Saving Throw” as well as a major “Oh, crap. The Spinward Marches have clearly gone nuts!” ? It also ramps up the threat of the protomoss as the timeline has been fractured. I’m already planning on

Once again, I’m influenced by that comment by … Kromm, I think (?) somewhere on the boards about not waiting to bring in the very interesting stuff which was why I was thinking about having the assassination take place in this altered timeline. I’ve always intended on eventually removing Norris from the equation. Added bonus: it puts his significantly weaker (politically) heir in his place so the entire power structure of the Marches starts going wobbly as the various sides attempt to woo her to their side. And, of course, both sides will have a vested interest in her never regaining the level of power her true-father had – it’s the whole strong king, weak barons vs weak king, strong barons thing…

Hmm. What about this: Buck is basically cast in the Holden (from The Expanse) role (post book 2 when The Investigator starts appearing to him) because of Subject 1036 touching his mind – that psion was stupid powerful; being able to Jump an starship the size of the Drake? That’s almost reality-altering level – as well as being in close proximity to the first protomoss-laced explosive that shifts reality. So, throughout season 5, I could essentially give him the really bad version of Flashbacks as he starts to see Alternate Flashes from time to time as reality recovers from the breakpoint. There needs to be something that pulls Buck to that moment … maybe its the downed Infected guy? Actually … that could work. If she was sort of “resetting” to the Moment while using protomoss somehow and Buck was the detonation proximity, he’s then pulled to the most recent Moment where was closest to the protomoss (which was when you guys had back-tracked and retrieved the gravity belts and were planning out your assault) … and this could easily not have been her destination Moment at that! But thanks to 1036 having Touched him previously – see before-mentioned ‘reality warper levels’ – that overrides her intent (and she probably isn’t even aware of it either.)

Traveller: Porozlo Vice

As stated before, my Saturday run on Traveller has come to a conclusion with a (IMO) just okay season finale. It’ll be a while before it comes back around to me so I’m turning to other things (even though I have been doing some brain-storming for season 5 and have some really nifty ideas that I’ll probably go into later.

That said, though, I’ve been thinking about my Friday face-to-face group. Previously, I was running the Red Sky game but it was plagued with absences and that was a game that really could not handle players missing a lot because it was so character-centric. While perusing the interwebz during my above-mentioned brainstorming for season 5 of The New Deal, I encountered this post.

Straight away, this sounds kind of awesome to me. It’s Miami Vice … but in space! PCs would basically be recruited by the count of Porozlo to shut down a burgeoning crime syndicate and the like. Since I’ve already established in the Saturday game that Porozlo has an ongoing drug problem – tempest – that is steadily getting out of hand, I’d intentionally emulate the flow of cocaine into 1980s Miami.

Off-hand, I’d like start with 150-point characters but could be argued up to 175, and I’m already thinking that the first episode likely needs to begin with the PCs in prison (having already been inserted into the facility so as to start infiltrating that way.) And one of the opening adventures – perhaps the opening adventure – would culminate in them seizing a non-Jump capable ship during their “escape.”

And there’s no way I’m not going to have this puppy show up as a system defense boat (which will probably be the available combat PC ship)…

Yeah. I’m really hoping the F2F group buys into this because I think it could be really interesting and a lot of fun for me…

Recap and Game Notes: Traveller, 4.22

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

As stated in the GM Notes on the recap, I was only partially satisfied, though I suspect that was probably due to my sense of nothing but chaos. I had an alternate ending in mind that, in retrospect, I probably should have gone with because it would have been a fantastic “WTF?” moment. More on that in the final thoughts section below.

The Good

Bouncing back and forth between the split up members of the crew worked fairly well for probably the first half of the session. How I did it for this was to have actual physical flash cards that I flipped over reminding me of who was active at that moment. When one group merged into another, I wrote the new people on one and tossed the card for the other. I was also fairly happy with the hanging plot threads that I intentionally left unanswered – several of the players were definitely interested in following up on them. The major threads that I threw in here:

  • Who was actually behind this mess? Based on how it played out, few of the non-audience Players believe that it was actually a Ine Givar op.
  • What was up with the ‘protomoss infected’ dudes? (I used the indoctrinated Cerebrus soldier from Mass Effect 3 as a visual.) And how did they get here?
    • GM Note: This one went over the best, I think.
  • Who is responsible for Edvard Leskinen’s murder?
  • What’s up with the archduke’s proper identity since Sae has info indicating that the real Duke Norris died prior to the beginning of the Fifth Frontier War and was replaced?

The Bad

This is where it starts to break down for me. I was so intent on trying to avoid letting this devolve into a tactical slugfest that I pushed the characters toward doing stuff that they might not have. It wasn’t quite a railroad, but there was that feeling near the end, especially the final ‘engagement’ when the PCs put into action their plan. This is especially true with J-Aris and getting him into the modified combat android chassis.

When I was working on the outline for this, I tried to intentionally avoid coming up with an expected resolution … and that lack of structure was probably why this felt so disjointed. I should have spent more time on making notes about exactly what was going on in the background instead of just having it in my head and rolling with it.

The Ugly

Too much of me trying to push toward a desired result despite me actively trying to avoid having a desire result. Which … gah. I wanted to end on a stronger note and instead, it just felt … blah.

Final Thoughts

As stated, I had an alternate ending in mind that I was almost loath to use because it would have left me in a very difficult position for season 5 but, in retrospect, I should have gone with it. I should have done the following for the conclusion instead of what I did (note that I did not have all of this planned out):

  • J-Aris notes the presence of a major explosive in the building and can relate this to the other PCs. This becomes their target because … well, it’ll kill ’em all.
  • This leads to a tactical encounter with the PCs versus a couple of the “protomoss-infected” Ine Givar soldier types who are trying to defend the location where the explosive is being assembled. These guys will be exceedingly tough – maybe Unliving at this point, but not zombies.
  • Once the PCs have finally dropped the defenders, they enter to discover Buck’s former crewmate (who he met earlier) at the explosive. She’s unarmed and, upon their entry, would give them some sort of cryptic remark – something like ‘You cannot stop the work’ or something like that – before doing something to herself that causes a sort pulse-like visual effect that doesn’t actually explode. And then, her skin – just her skin; no bones or meat or blood – hits the ground.
  • And then PC(s) have to deal with an explosive device that I could have them try to disarm via secret rolls … and then I end.

Luckily, this means I can still do this somewhere in season 5. In fact, I could possibly end the season with that if it works…

And yeah, I’ve already started brainstorming for the next season even though I’m done as GM for a while. Next up is Banestorm, I think…

Game Prep: Traveller, 4.22 (Finale)

The previous session ended with the arrival of the Ine Givar terrorists and with the PCs pretty much scattered all over the place – three of them (Buck, Haank and Sae) are all close to the “principal,” Sir Korbin, while the other three are split up with Armin hiding out in the kitchen, Eddy in the process of leaving the Gala entirely, and J-Aris chasing the haaxors.

So I’m going to dial back just a bit so Eddy can have a brief moment with a much older woman of Oriental heritage – this is intended to be a ‘buck up’ moment as, when she realizes that he didn’t actually mean to kill Natoko, she laughs. He is, as far as she knows, the only person who met the man who did not want to shoot him. The man was a complete shit who deserved what happened to him and that’s rich, coming from her since she’s his mother!

With everyone else, they’ll have the fireworks moment, then a ‘soft rain’ falls out of the sky. The robots reboot but having clearly been hacked and then the armored dudes start arriving (using gravity belts, of course.) Sir Korbin realizes what the ‘soft rain’ actually is – paralysis gas from Ultra-Tech 160 – and will distract, then shove Haank over the ledge so he falls into some water down below. Buck and Sae are ordered to follow suit so they can do that thing they do. By this point, PCs should be seeing nobles collapse due to paralysis and Sae will see the guy who his former CO received stuff from get straight up executed.

Meanwhile, J-Aris is following the data trail which leads him to an airborne drone that is clearly a drone intended to serve as a stormchaser. This will lead to a hacking contest which I have some additional thoughts on:

  • Basic Abstract Difficulty of -3 (so bad guys have skills of 13.)
  • I’m going to treat this like a Chase (from Action 2) with the presumption that he will use Computer Hacking as his Chase skill. Rounds are an abstract length of time.
  • Each success shifts J-Aris one step along the chase thing (Short to Medium, Medium to Long, etc.) Each failure either shifts him backwards (Medium to Short, etc.) or if he’s in Close, gives him a cumulative -1 on further Chase rolls. Three failures in a row means he’s locked out.
  • Once he shifts out of Extreme, he has sufficient control of the computer to do … stuff. Of course, this means that the SysAdmin is about to blow the stormchaser out of the sky, so there’s not much time to do a whole lot…
  • This entire stuff will be run concurrently with the other PCs.

At any rate, I intentionally don’t have a plan with regards to how the PCs resolve the whole Ine Givar stuff because I want to see what the players come up with. I don’t have a tactical map in mind because I don’t want this to be a tactical encounter considering if the PCs get into a shooting fight with the terrorists, a lot of people are going get killed. So it’s going to be wholly up to the PCs to drive this

Regardless, in the aftermath of this – presuming that the PCs don’t thoroughly screw it up – their actions will be noted by the archduke himself. Since tradition holds that a higher ranking noble does not reward a junior’s retainers, Norris instead recognizes Spiirs by promoting him to Baronet of Regina (which is the highest rank that he is allowed to issue without the emperor’s declaration.) He’ll also publicly talk some shit to Duchess Delphine for her lax security. PCs will also gain a Reputation (Heroes of the 1123 Holiday List Gala, Sometimes (10 or Less), Almost everyone … in the Marches) out of this.

Following this, we’ll skip forward a couple of weeks as stuff is settled:

  • Ella officially departs the company, Spiirs joins, Sam stays with the company
  • Haank has already expressed interest in bringing Kaylii Patterson onto the crew
  • PCs agree to ‘lease’ the Miss Adventure from Lord Mika
  • Spiirs pulls some strings in the wake of the Holiday List Gala so ‘officially’ Valerie Vaskor dies in surgery, though in reality, she’s relocated to the Miss Adventure where Abe can continue looking after her.
  • Sae, whose player has expressed interest in improving his Intel Rank and adding Security Clearance, could get promoted within Imperium Intelligence.
  • Sae’s former CO reaches out to him, seeking transport off Mora but asks for a tour just to ensure that the ship isn’t a piece of crap. After the tour, he leaves to get his baggage … and is killed by an “accidental” runaway forklift. Sae will be debriefed, then eventually released but only after sort of figuring out that Imperial Intelligence is responsible for the hit on his boss. Back on the ship, he will end up finding a data device that his former boss clearly secreted. It is a biometric lock keyed to Sae and on it are petabytes of data, including a host of medical records and dozens of vids. Two time-stamped records (from immediately before the beginning of the Fifth Frontier War and then a year into it) will come to light and this will be how we end the season…

 

Recap and Game Notes: Traveller, 4.21

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

It figures. I was so frustrated with the previous session that naturally I ended this one very pleased.

The narrative was intended to be simple:

  • Aftermath of the shooting of Adric Mason by Valerie Vaskor.
  • Spiirs enlists the PCs to serve as his retainers to the Gala.
  • The Gala transpires with each PC having A Moment:
    • Armin is mistaken by people for someone highborn – she retreated to hide.
    • Buck sees an old associate from his piracy days – he attempts to chat with her to find out what she’s here, but she ‘can’t be seen with him.’ She’s working.
    • Eddy flirts with the Countess of Natoko, then is drawn into a duel with her husband. Eddy’s Unluckiness kicks in and, despite his best efforts, he kills Lord Natoko. Disgusted, Eddy decided to leave the Gala.
    • Haank has a passing moment with CDR Krin, then learns about some stuff in the Fessor sub-sector while acting as bodyguard for Sir Korbin.
    • J-Aris counters a hacking attempt, then starts tracking the data trail to find out who tried it.
    • Sae observes his first commanding officer doing spy stuff but does not react beyond that.
  • Archduke Norris announces the promotion of his kinsman Josephine to Duchess of Regina.
  • Fireworks ensue … and then a EMP is triggered, disabling the security bots and other electrical stuff (including Sae’s bionics, but not J-Aris who is in some protected location.) Armed personnel drop out of the night sky!

The Good

Eddy’s duel went over extremely well. In retrospect, I should have gone ahead and cast Lord Natoko, but he was just there to get shot by Eddy, so that was fine. Throughout the entire Gala bit, the majority of the players (excluding the “audience” members who are just there to shoot/kick things) seemed to like what was happening. Following the game, at least two of the players definitely made a point to state that they really enjoyed the session for the character development opportunities. I was also relatively pleased with how I managed to get the various data points across. Interestingly enough, when the bad guys attacked at the end, Buck’s player immediately leapt to the conclusion that his former associate is tied to them … which she wasn’t before. She is now!

The Bad

We spent a lot of time in the beginning – more time than I would have liked – trying to figure out exactly what Armin’s player wanted to purchase. It turns out that she wanted what amounts to Black Widow’s gauntlets from CA: The Winter Soldier and CA: Civil War, plus some knife boots (wherein the knife is concealed ala those shoes dude wears in Kingsman (or the older one in the Bond movie with Connery.) We never actually got this figured out – I was leaning toward starting with the neuroglove in Ultratech and finding a way to shoot stuff from it; the boots are easier since they’re just assault boots (also UT) with a tricked out knife (using the Hidden Weapons rules in Martial Arts.) I just haven’t gotten around to fully figuring that out. Sae’s player also mentioned wanting to have a “John Wick suit” (which is armored and concealing of weapons.) That part was easier – Action 1 has the Disguised and Undercover modifiers which handle that.

Finally, Eddy’s duel and the ramp up to it dominated a bit more of the session time than I would have liked. In retrospect, I should have found a way to incorporate at least one other PC, maybe by having that character nearby when the duel is announced so s/he could act as a second. I should have also twisted the knife with Armin’s “Mistaken Identity” a bit more instead of just letting her skate out and hide.

The Ugly

I actually don’t have any “ugly” this time apart from my disappointment that I wasn’t able to really incorporate Armin or J-Aris as much as I would like, although, to be fair, both of those players are more “audience members” than the others so they don’t really give me much to work with. I suppose I could say that I once more had some trouble with words, which was definitely ugly. In the last two sessions, I’ve really stumbled over getting out coherent sentences, which is irritating as you can imagine. I should have written up a quick speech that the archduke would give so I wouldn’t stumble as much as I did.

Final Thoughts

So, missteps aside – missing a couple of dialogue notes I should have had prepared, a bit too much dicking around with the rules in the beginning, the ‘big event’ of the session dominated by one player – I was pretty content with how things mostly worked out. Next week will probably (depending on the PCs) end up being the ‘season finale’ and end my run as GM for the time being – we’ve got an Age of Sail game next, then its back to Banestorm. I’ve got a (hopefully) solid “Wait … WHAT?” ending in mind, though a lot is going to depend on PC actions next week.

As it stands, next week will also begin with the crew kind of scattered – Buck and Haank are with Spiirs; Sae is … elsewhere; Armin is probably hiding in the kitchen with the help; J-Aris is off the board, chasing down the hacking attempt (though that could still be in the immediate vicinity somehow); and Eddy was on his way out (so he’s probably in an elevator somewhere.)

Game Prep: Traveller, 4.21 – Ine Givar Terrorist

So, as stated previously, I need stats for my Ine Givar terrorists coming up. So I spun up the following. I used the Bioterrorist Activist from Bio-Tech as a basis, then tweaked it bit to fit my needs better. Some of skill selection may seem odd at first glance, but everything is for a reason. Weapon selection is my standard storm carbine selection – I don’t know why I love that weapon as much as I do, but I really do. In this case, though, I opted for it because it’s a slugthrower and thus, usable with the EMP thing active where a beam weapon of any sort would be useless.

Ine Givar terrorist, 150-point human

ST 12 {20}; DX 12 {20}; IQ 12 {40}; HT 12 {20}

Damage 1d-1/1d+2; BL 29lb; HP 12 {0}; Will 12 {0}; Per 12 {0}; FP 12 {0}; Basic Speed 6; Basic Move 6

Templates and Meta-Traits

  • Activist – Bioterrorists (Bio-Tech)

Advantages

  • Combat Reflexes {15}
  • Fit {5}
  • Zeroed {10}

Disadvantages

  • Bloodlust (15 or less) {-5}
  • Callous {-5}
  • Fanaticism (the cause) {-15}
  • Intolerance (Nobles) {-5}
  • Overconfidence (9 or less) {-7}
  • Paranoia {-10}

Skills

  • Acting (A) IQ-1 {1} – 11
  • Area Knowledge (local planet) (E) IQ+2 {1} – 12
  • Brawling (E) DX+0 {1} – 12
  • Climbing (A) DX+0 {2} – 12
  • Computer Hacking/TL11 (VH) IQ-2 {2} – 10
  • Computer Programming/TL11 (H) IQ-2 {1} – 10
  • Current Affairs/TL11 (Headline News) (E) IQ+0 {1} – 12
  • Current Affairs/TL11 (High Culture) (E) IQ+0 {1} – 12
  • Electronic Operations/TL11 (Communications) (A) IQ-1 {1} – 11
  • Electronic Operations/TL11 (Scientific) (A) IQ-1 {1} – 11
  • Explosives/TL11 (Demolition) (A) IQ-1 {1} – 11
  • Forced Entry (E) DX+1 {2} – 13
  • Guns/TL9 (Gyroc) (E) DX+0 {1} – 12
  • Guns/TL9 (Pistol) (E) DX+1 {2} – 13
  • Guns/TL9 (Rifle) (E) DX+1 {2} – 13
  • Hazardous Material/TL11 (Biological) (A) IQ-1 {1} – 11
  • Holdout (A) IQ-1 {1} – 11
  • Interrogation (A) IQ-1 {1} – 11
  • Intimidation (A) Will-1 {1} – 11
  • Lockpicking/TL11 (A) IQ-1 {1} – 11
  • Observation (A) Per-1 {1} – 11
  • Philosophy (Ine Givar) (N) IQ-2 {1} – 10
  • Public Speaking (A) IQ+0 {2} – 12
  • Scrounging (E) Per+0 {1} – 12
  • Smuggling (A) IQ+1 {4} – 13
  • Soldier/TL11 (A) IQ-1 {1} – 11
  • Stealth (A) DX+0 {2} – 12
  • Streetwise (A) IQ-1 {1} – 11
  • Wrestling (A) DX+0 {2} – 12

Equipment

  • Assault Boots (TL11)
  • Nanoweave Bodysuit (DR18/6*) & Gloves (9/3*)
  • Storm Carbine, 10mmCL, – 7d pi+

Game Prep: Traveller, 4.21

We ended the previous session with Valerie Vaskor shooting herself after killing Adric Mason. As stated in my recap notes, I’d intended to say that she shot him but killed herself, but I got my words jumbled around so the inverse happened. Based entirely on some of the player reactions to Valerie shooting herself, however, that was probably for the best. One of the players even mentioned spending some CPs to ensure she survived. In any event, Abe (my former PC and our super-medic/doctor) was in the vicinity, so her surviving is almost a fait accompli.

With that in mind, I’m going to open in media res with an ultra-tech ambulance arriving & Abe still in super-doctor mode. He will disappear into the E.R. with the locals. The other PCs will arrive soon after … but won’t be able to really do anything but sit around in the waiting room which sucks. There’s rarely anything to do unless you brought it with you, the food options are crap, and time seems to run backwards while you’re sitting there doing nothing. I know this from personal experience due to my late father who had emphysema and a bunch of other medical conditions. Factor in the nature of Valerie’s injury – she shot herself in the head with a gauss pistol! – and that’s going to mean she’ll be in surgery for a long time.

So I’ll skip forward a bit. Probably have some local LEOs arrive to quiz them, then have Sir Korbin Spiirs arrive along with Envoy Dannica who some of the PCs already know. Spiirs will have heard about what went down and, if Buck advises Dannica that he saw Breyon Sodhii at the temple thing (the vaan tel shan), she’ll about-face and head back in that direction, speaking urgently in a comm device; this means that Spiirs will have to relate to the PCs that the Envoy Dannica had just informed him that she was here to warn the crew that Sodhii’s trail led here to Mora. (If Buck doesn’t immediately relate this information, she will relay the warning, then head out when she learns of the sighting.)

After Spiirs is brought up to speed about recent events, additional LEOs will arrive with further questions. These guys are clearly not “local fish” but the more important federal types (FBI for us Yanks, Australian Federal Police for Ronnke). They will grill the PCs but it is clear that the crew are not suspects or anything – thanks to surveillance cameras as well as spotter drones & the like, their movements were monitored. Except for Sae … regardless, they know who shot Mason, why, and when so they’re not interested in that. The reason these guys have been brought in is because the body of the attending kel ten zon who was serving as the Voice of Maar Zon has been discovered in the vaan tel shan.

Later, once this LEO stuff is mostly resolved, Spiirs will point out that there isn’t much that the PCs can do while Valerie is undergoing surgery. Further, because she killed a highborn man in public – and pretty much every news outlet has it on vid – things are going to be kind of rough for her. That’s presuming she survives surgery … and if the PCs are willing, he kind of needs their help. Evidently (and he just learned this), as a noble attending the Holiday Gala, he is traditionally expected to have a proper retinue and he would like the PCs to accompany him as such. Their duties will be light. He will only need one or two of them to be with him during the ceremonies, which will free up the others to mingle. And since this is where everyone who is someone will be, this will be an excellent opportunity to network among the nobility. The Gala is in 2 days (054-1123) and Spiirs knows they already have some tolerably decent clothes.

  • No, Sae, weapons won’t be allowed at this function, not for the ‘retinue’ of a lowly Knight. Duchess Delphine is handling all security arrangements (although everyone knows that all of the really high-ranking nobles will have security of some sort.) It is considered a serious social faux pas to make an assassination attempt against one’s rivals at these Galas and a good way to get taken off the list.
  • That said, Sae may try to smuggle something in anyway. GM will definitely need to re-read the rules for that.
  • PCs will have a full day before the Gala to do … stuffs.
  • Sam will volunteer himself and his crew to keep an eye on the hospital to ensure that nobody tries to whack Valerie.

During this full day, Ella, Haank and Buck will receive a time-delayed message from Kendal Easting (one of the engineers serving aboard the Adventure with them.) He will reveal that, by the time they receive this, he’ll already be on his way out of the system as he’s signed onto a Tukera Lines starship. His reasoning is simple: he’s just not comfortable serving with a psion, even one who seems fine like Abe. It isn’t anything personal … he just can’t serve with him and since the rest of the crew clearly know Abe from way back, it ends up being easier for him to bail now.

On the day of the Gala, Spiirs will arrange for a skycar (skylimo?) to take them to the Grand Concourse. It’s like a combination of super-hotel and local planetary spaceport (although it mostly caters only to the ultra-wealthy.) Image below.

The Grand Concourse

Arrival is totally going to feel like the Oscars. There are news-media (and more obvious security) drones all over the area, imaging the nobles as they arrive in all of their flash and glam. Once in the larger area (with the fountains), Sir Korbin is expected to mingle with his betters – he is merely a low-ranking knight, after all … which begs the question: is there some sort of device to identify a noble’s rank and their allegiance & holdings? Obviously, the GURPS skill Heraldry would make sense but how do they identify rank amongst themselves? Something to crowdsource, I suppose. Right now, I’m leaning toward some sort of livery – maybe something akin to the sash worn by Sir Warwick Harrow in the “Shindig” episode of Firefly? Which would lean toward the PCs needing to be wearing something that denotes their (current) affiliation with Sir Korbin…

I have some things in mind for the individual PCs that I intend to put into play:

  • Armin is definitely going to be mistaken for the Countess of Bevey (since she has the Mistaken Identity disadvantage.) This should lead to some confusion and will be played for laughs though if she botches it too thoroughly, it could lead to trouble…
  • Buck is going to run into a member of his former pirate crew who is posing as a noblewoman. This former crewmember is running a scam and will not be pleased to see him. Still trying to figure out the full specifics of this one…
  • Eddy will meet a lovely woman – the countess of Natoko – who finds him extremely interesting & attractive (she clearly likes roguely fellows) and will flirt shamelessly with him. What Eddy is unaware of is that the stone-faced fellow who looks like her bodyguard is actually her husband and he will be so outraged that he demands ‘honor be satisfied’ in the form of a duel … with ancient flintlock pistols! My plan is to maybe have Eddy’s enemy, Maaq Mountain be present & promptly offer to be Eddy’s “second” because he knows Lord Natoko has killed four men in these duels. And what will be the most Unlucky thing possible for Eddy? He kills Lord Natoko. The countess (and everyone present) will be surprised but the judge in this case will deem it a righteous and honorable shooting. Eddy is free to go. As he does, he will note the countess staring at him fiercely…
  • Haank is harder. I may sneak in a reappearance of a Commander Krin, but I’m definitely going to have him overhear Sir Korbin talking with a knight from the Vilis subsector talking about undertaking a pilgrimage to the world Cathedral (which is Hex 3111 in the Fessor subsector.) It is a “labyrinth” world that has, despite being on the Zhodani border, not been absorbed by the Consulate. In fact, they sort of avoid it which has to be due to the Shrike, a rumored and semi-mythological creature. Pilgrims who survive their (unspecified) Trials are visited by their honored dead who, it is said, bequeath upon them great knowledge. As to whether its true of not, well, this fellow intends to find out…
  • J-Aris is so hard to figure out for this! Fortunately for me, he has Curious at 9 or less, so I’m thinking that I’m going to have him detect a hacking attempt being made against him, which then leads to further strange anomalies to the data network. He can’t (initially) tell if this is normal or if it’s something else entirely. Ideally, this will occupy him for a bit as he starts poking around (digitally)…
  • Sae will observe his first commanding officer – who we have named Edvard Leskinen – receiving some sort of discreet hand-off from some functionary wearing the archduke’s livery. Upon realizing that he’s been observed, Leskinen is first surprised, then relieved that it is Sae. He will promise to look his old ally up later…
  • PCs attending Korbin will note that he’s definitely trying to network, though he will keep the exact nature of this under wraps – probably have the attendant at the time to step clear? Hmm. Sound baffler tech? Will have to dig into that.
  • PCs may encounter Count Para & company, though he will be far too busy networking with other nobles (or listening to the grievances of those who answer to him) to speak to them. His sons are different and I may play with that to try and layer on some personality.
  • Maybe throw in a Darrien ambassador or something?

Eventually, the Archduke will begin the important part of the Gala: the naming of nobles. The nobility of Spinward Marches will be rocked when his kinsman, Countess Josephine of Efate is officially elevated to Duchess of Regina per the Emperor’s command. This visibly enrages the Duchess of Mora and the PCs realize that battle lines are being drawn if they do not totally grok the specifics. Korbin looks concerned at the very least and will promise to explain later.

Soon after this, there will be an unexpected terror strike. If J-Aris is still digging, he’ll likely discover something he shouldn’t – I’m reminded of C-3PO in Empire when he stumbles into the stormtroopers who blast him – at which point I hit the entire concourse area with an EMP burst! (This could really suck for Sae who has bionic parts and definitely for J-Aris who is a robot now.) Note that the EMP in this case is actually persistent (which will be one of the PCs objectives – take it out to get rid of the field) which means a lot of the high tech that the noble defenders have is inoperative. The terrorists identify themselves as Ine Givar and they are here to throw down the cruel oppression that is the current regime of nobility.

One major thing that absolutely happens is that the guy Sae just saw pass something off to Leskinen is promptly and immediately killed. As an example. However, Sae will have noted that the shooter in question seemed to intentionally seek this guy out and is now sort of looking around for someone else…

Now, depending on time, I could end the session in a couple of places. For example, if we’ve BS’ed a whole lot, the EMP blast and the arrival of the terrorists could work as a very solid ending, but if we’ve made good progress, I may instead have the PCs start putting into action a plan of some sort. Note that I don’t intend on running this encounter as a tactical fight regardless – the area is simply too large and the PCs could theoretically be spread out over pretty significant distances. With that in mind, though, this means that the PCs may put into action multiple plans … plus, I need to remember that their tac-net is going to be down due to the EMP thing.

So this means I need stats for the terrorists – I think BioTech has a Bioterrorist character template I could rip off with some tweaks. Beyond that, though, I want to see what the PCs will do to screw me up. Ideally, they could hash out a plan and then, just as they’re about to put it into motion … we end for the night.

Time will tell.