“I love the smell of napalm in the morning. Smells like… It smells like victory.” – from Apocalypse Now.
Something I’m glossing over in the campaign so far is currency conversion, because it is deeply unheroic and too much like my day job. There is no universal state like the Third Imperium in this campaign, and thus no universal currency. Somewhere in the background, every time the Dolphin moves to a new interstellar state or independent world, the crew spend a couple of hours haggling with local bankers about exchange rates and turning their millions into something they can spend locally and at the next couple of stops. That is probably eating several percent of their cash each time, let’s call it 5%. Hmm, that means they have to keep trading just to pay the bank fees. Ouch. Checking back through the last few posts, and applying a 5% reduction in cash each time they land, the group now has Cr 3,574,714.
Anyway: The skeleton for this week’s port of call, Esusce, goes like this. Half a day to manoeuvre in from the jump point (Type M, reaction 11 – that would become a friend if we were hanging around), half a day to manoeuvre back out again (no encounter), six days in port. Legal encounters: None, hardly surprising given the law level. Patron encounter: None. Person encounters: One on day three, with 3d6 Ambushing Brigands, whose leader has the best possible armour and weapons for the TL – battle dress and plasma gun. Double ouch. Obviously a Wild Card. The remaining 7 of them have armour and guns, let’s say kevlar (flak) and M-16s because I have the stats handy. Given that they are specified as Ambushing, and we haven’t had a fight yet this season, I won’t roll for their reaction. I’ll treat the plasma gun as a flamethrower rather than spend time working out specific stats.
I roll for initial encounter range, assuming we are in city terrain. 2d6-4 = 5, Short range… 1-5 metres, up close and personal. A battlemat hardly seems necessary, but I’ll use the Soldier template for the brigands, and the Experienced Soldier one for the leader.
Arion, Coriander and Dmitri are meandering back to the Dolphin after a pleasant evening out, when suddenly a hulking figure steps out of the darkness, and booms in an amplified voice.
“Freeze. You’re going to come with me, and give me your cargo, your money, and her. Or I’ll fry you and take them anyway.”
The card draws are: Battle Dress dude, Heart 6; Brigands, Diamond 9; Arion, Diamond King; Coriander, Spade 2; Dmitri, Diamond 6. Or, in the words of Sergio Leone, “If you’re going to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk.”
The threat to Coriander is too much for Arion, and he draws his pistol and fires at the Battle Dress dude (BDD henceforth). His Shooting roll is at -2 for doing two actions in one turn. He rolls a 5 on his wild die and a 1 on his skill die, not good; time to spend a benny and reroll. A 2 on the skill die and 6 followed by a 3 on an acing wild die; much better. He hits, doing 2d6 for the Glock; a mighty 4 damage, which against the Toughness way-more-than-that of the battle dress is insufficient.
The brigands go next, and autofire from the hip, possibly holding the guns sideways as well. (Why do people do that in movies? It’s a rubbish idea.) Six of them, each rolling ROF x 1d6 to hit and hoping for a 6+ (normally 4+, but –2 for autofire); three hits, and I randomly determine that Arion and Dmitri are each hit, Dmitri twice. A mighty 3 damage on Arion is not enough to beat his armoured Toughness of 9 vs bullets (5 for him, 4 for his kevlar), and Dmitri shrugs off a 4, but is Shaken by 9 damage against his Toughness of 9. Being Shaken against this lot seems like a really bad idea, so he spends a benny to recover immediately.
BDD is next up, and angles his flamer to catch both Arion and Dmitri. He rolls 1d8 Shooting, and a Wild d6, +2 for the flamethrower; a natural one on both dice – oh, that sounds unhealthy. He spends one of his bennies to reroll, and gets a more reasonable 7+2=9. Arion and Dmitri now have to match or beat that on an Agility roll, or take 2d10 damage. Both fail, and both decide they’d rather spend a benny than be flamed, so reroll. Arion still fails, but Dmitri steps out of the way behind a dumpster.
The flamer aces its damage, and does 24 damage to Arion, enough to incapacitate him; he uses his last benny to soak the damage, but fails and the lights go out for him. Fortunately, a roll of 1 on a d6 means he does not catch fire. As per p. 75 of SWEX, he makes an immediate Vigour roll – a 5, which is a success. He is unconscious for one hour, or until healed; he next rolls 2d6 on the Injury table and gets a 10, meaning one leg is incapacitated (-1 Pace) until all wounds are healed. That could have been a lot worse.
Dmitri’s turn arrives, and he sticks one eye and one hand out of cover and plugs the BDD. He misses; more likely, the shot ricochets harmlessly off the armour.
Last for this turn, Coriander goes. She knows enough not to waste time on dramatic words, and to win the fight before she heals Arion. The most potent weapon in her arsenal is Boost/Lower Trait, and she decides to Lower the BDD’s Shooting. She rolls an 8 (acing) and succeeds with a raise, dropping him two die types to d4. Pity she didn’t go first, really.
The order dictated by the cards is: BDD, Dmitri, brigands, Coriander.
The BDD flames Dmitri again, and despite Coriander’s best efforts scores a 10 thanks to an ace on his wild die. Dmitri fails, dithers over whether to spend his last benny on dodging or soaking damage, and opts for the dodge. It does him no good, but he is only Shaken by the incoming 9 damage.
The brigands shoot Dmitri, as Arion is down. Five hits this time, two with a raise. The kevlar saves him from three of the bullets, but thanks to aces one rolls 15 damage, which would shake and wound, and since he is already shaken, wounds him twice; the final shot does 40 damage, and nobody gets up from that. Dmitri is incapacitated. He succeeds on a Vigour roll, then like Arion, gets a 10 on the Injury table, and will limp until healed. I suppose the BDD is aiming for the legs because he needs them alive to draw money out of their account.
Sensing defeat, Coriander uses her turn to heal Arion. The roll is at -3 because of his wounds. A roll of 5 succeeds, but she wants better, so rerolls with a benny, getting a 2, then again with a second benny, getting a 5. Going for broke, she uses her last benny on a second reroll, and gets a third 5. The best of her rolls is a mere success, which removes one Wound. Arion is now conscious, because he has been healed, but at -2 for the remaining wounds, and still limping.
The cards give me a sequence of Arion (with a Joker), brigands, BDD, and finally Coriander. The odds do not look good for the home team, but it’s a pity to waste a Joker, so Arion raises his pistol and squeezes the trigger. Thanks to aces, he rolls a 14 to hit, adding 1d6 damage – the -2 from his wounds is cancelled out by the +2 from his Joker. He rolls a 13 for damage, +2 for the Joker is 15, but even that bounces off the Toughness 16 of a Vigour d8 BDD in +12 battle armour. That was, perhaps, not Arion’s brightest moment.
The brigands open fire on Arion this time, and three hit him, one with a raise. The 5 damage doesn’t hurt, but 9 Shakes him and the 18 drops hims again, incapacitated. A 9 on the Vigour roll, though, is a raise, so he is Shaken with 3 Wounds, rather than incapacitated, and suffers a temporary impairment – he is shot in the head, and gains the Ugly disadvantage, fortunately only until the end of the fight. Adding insult to injury, BDD flames him; however, since Coriander trashed his Shooting, he misses.
Coriander shouts: “Wait! I’ll help you – I’ll go with you – just let them go.”
She rolls a Persuasion test, and gets a 4 – just barely enough.
BDD swings his flamer into a tactical carry, and booms, only a little less quietly than before, “I don’t think so. But I’ll let them live, for the moment.” He signals to his men.
“Bring them with us. Kill them if they give you any trouble.” He turns back to Coriander.
“If you give me any trouble, I’ll kill them myself. Understand?” She nods, weakly, and the group trots off into a dark alleyway, dragging Arion and Dmitri.
As they leave, a hand-sized metallic spider watches from under the dumpster.
TO BE CONTINUED…