Fri. Dec 9th, 2022

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.