The Arioniad – Scenes 17-18

I start scene 17 by rolling on the Where To Next? Table (p. 31). A roll of 3 starting in a Lost World takes me again to a Lost World, and it’s easiest if it is the same one. The Available Transportation table on p. 32 and a die roll of 3 show that we’re travelling on foot; no surprise there. I now roll for an encounter; 1d6 vs 1: 6, so no encounter.

A brief montage of shots tracks Arion, Dmitri and Coriander as they follow what appears to be a game trail through the jungle, at length entering a small village of well-kept mid-tech houses (I’ll have no truck with the Noble Savages trope here, so imagine the neat bungalows and picket fences of the Dharma Initiative in Lost). Lost World inhabitants about their daily tasks pause briefly to stare at the newcomers, exchange nods with Coriander in complete silence, then return to their work.

This takes us to a Story Advancing Scene. I can’t remember what the rolls were last time, if any, and seem not to have recorded them in the blog, so reroll. Star Rep (4) + number of solved clues (3) + 1d6 (6) = 13. “Get info from someone.” Difficulty of finding the person is the lower of 2d6: 2, 3 so difficulty 2. There are no modifiers. I now roll 2d6 vs the Star’s Rep and the difficulty, respectively; Arion rolls 1, 4 and passes 2d6; the quarry rolls 1, 5 and passes 1d6. As Arion has beaten the quarry by 1d6 he finds the quarry, let’s say Coriander’s father, but suffers complications (-1d6) when questioning him.

Coriander and her father stand face to face, bow their heads, and commune wordlessly for a moment. Arion and Dmitri exchange looks.

The elder citizen turns to face Arion, speaking slowly as if unused to words. “So,” he says. “I am Baltasar. You assault my daughter, and yet she brings you here for help. You must be unusual men, Arion, Dmitri. Why do you seek the Eye of the Cat?”

Dmitri maintains a poker face and silence. Arion says, “Schrodinger wants the Eye. He is an unpleasant person, so no good can come of him having it. My friend and I plan to stop him getting it.”

“How is this your concern?”

“Someone has to stop him. If we don’t do it, who will?”

Baltasar laughs. “So, you have no idea what’s going on, or how you’re going to stop it, but you’re going to try anyway?”

“Yes. Can you help? Will you help?”

Arion may now take one opposed task challenge (p. 24) to see if he gets the info he needs. This depends on them having a common skill, so who is Coriander’s father? I roll 2d6 on the Ancient Civilisation table (p. 19), reasoning that she and her father should be on the same table. A roll of 10 means he, too, is a Citizen. Arion has First Aid, Melee, Piloting and Shooting. Running out of inspiration, I decide to roll randomly and get a 4, Shooting, so we assume that Baltasar has shooting too. Arion will roll 2d6; 2d6 for his skill, 1d6 for being Strong Willed in an opposed task, andf -1d6 for complications. The quarry is Rep 3, so will roll 3d6. Let’s see if I can weave a Shooting challenge into the story more entertainingly this time – we’ll assume an assault, success in the challenge will mean that Arion has helped defend the village well enough to earn Baltasar’s respect and co-operation.

All heads in the village suddenly snap round to the point where Arion and company came out of the jungle; a group of Gimirri warriors is jogging towards the conversation, long knives drawn, faces set.

“I think first you must help us,” says Baltasar. He gestures towards a nearby shed; the door flies open, and guns hurtle towards them through the air. Arion and Baltasar both grab one, and open fire on the Gimirri.

Arion now rolls 2d6 vs 3: 1, 6 = pass 1d6. Baltasar (the “task”) rolls 3d6 vs 3: 6, 6, 6 = pass 0d6. The dice are with Arion today; since only he has passing dice left, we go to the Task Test table on p.26 and learn that Arion successfully completes the task, thus gaining a fourth clue.

Shots ring out, and Arion drops one of the attackers. The rest melt into the jungle.

“They’ll be back,” Dmitri observes. Baltasar shrugs.

“They won’t find us again. Not unless Schrodinger comes personally.” He makes further gestures, returning the guns to the shed.

“Baltasar, what is going on please?” Baltasar strokes his chin thoughtfully, then comes to a decision.

“The Eye of the Cat allows its bearer to control the Dinobastis – you probably heard one of those thrashing around in the jungle earlier. We use it to keep them out of our village.”

“Why does Schrodinger want it, and how did he know it was here?”

“Schrodinger is an outcast from our Institute. He has a vision of a universe where the Institute controls humanity for its own purposes; he intends to start by seizing power among the Gimirri, whose totem is a giant cat. Once he appears with one at his back, the Council will be forced to grant him a seat by ancient tradition.”

“Wait, you guys are the Psionics Institute?”

“One of them,” Baltasar shrugs.

“You’re supposed to be a myth!”

“Well, we don’t get out much.”

There is a deep roar from the jungle beyond the village, and Dmitri interrupts. “Giant cat? How giant, exactly?”

“The ones around here are about ten metres long, and maybe a third of that is tail,” explains Baltasar. “In the deep jungle, they probably grow bigger than that.”

“We’re going to need bigger guns,” says Arion, quietly.

“No,” says Coriander. “They have as much right to live as you or I. We need the Eye of the Cat.”

“Where next, then?” asks Dmitri. “We can’t stay here.”

And all eyes turn to Arion.

So, I’d guess we’re about two-thirds of the way through the story now, since the protagonists have learned what’s going on – at least in enough detail for a pulp story. Lessons Learned: When designing a Star, one should pick at least one skill that can be used to interrogate or persuade contacts, because one spends nearly half one’s game time doing it – much more so than fighting, which I expected to be prominent. What is saving me currently is the Strong Willed advantage, which was a good choice in hindsight.

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