Arion, Episode 14: Chillin’

Another five-day blitz, this time the Arioniad under Fringe Space…

It’s now March 2220 and Arion has just landed the Dolphin on a class 2, law level 3, independent basic world (now called Fermanagh) to deliver some cargo… Let’s work through the turn sequence; I’m still taking this slowly while I learn the rules, and I decide to work through the whole turn sequence for the month before playing out any tabletop action, partly because that helps me to understand it better, and partly because it makes the narrative flow more smoothly.

Starting Position: Ring 1, Sector 4. 2/3 Indy basic. Random Event: Yes, Chillin’, Daytime. Movement: Stay in area 1 of settlement (you always arrive in the spaceport, area 1, and Arion hasn’t moved yet). Voluntary Encounter: Yes, looking for a Job Offer. Job Offers (pp. 46-47) are: Rep (5) – 1d6 (2) = 3 job offers available. Shaker, Confrontation; Shaker, Rescue; Criminal Element, Confrontation. I decide to accept all three, just to try things out; as a White Knight, Arion can’t really turn down a Rescue anyway. Then the end-of-month PEFS: A – something’s out there. B – one police, #10 – Rep 4 Grath A1 G2 Pass 0d6 = History! C – one criminal, #9 – Rep 4 Grath – A4 G2, could recruit and might need the muscle.

It looks like a busy month. This episode (14) will look at the Chillin’ encounter, then the next three (15-17) will look at the Job Offers, closing with a catchup (18) covering the PEFs, the monthly admin, and the list of contacts and worlds identified to date.

CHILLIN’

Fermanagh spaceport in March is cold, windswept, and rainy. Arion is standing outside, in what little shelter the Dolphin’s undercarriage can provide, supervising the cargo robots unloading – which mostly means being the person that gets sued if anything goes wrong, and watching in case anyone has reprogrammed the robots to take anything they’re not supposed to take. The last one is just lurching away to the nearest godown when a call comes in.

“Hi, Arion? I’m Anne MacDonald – I know Perry Anderson well, would you be interested in joining a few of us in a drink to celebrate the arrival of our cargo? The local whiskey is really something special.” Arion recognises the name from the cargo manifest and his briefing from Anderson, he’s not flying tomorrow, so why not? A month alone aboard ship leaves a man interested in parties.

“Sure, absolutely. When and where?”

“It’s a working lunch, so as soon as you can get over to Montagu’s – I’ll send you the address.” Arion notes this is in the spaceport district, so travel won’t be a problem.

“OK, I’m on my way.”

Chillin’ is the encounter type used for recruiting, hiring, or dealing in contraband. The space port has law level 2 (p. 37) and given the setup I pick a Restaurant as the location. Arion needs to resolve two PEFs before reaching the target building, a third one once inside, then he meets his host, and finally there is the chance of being mugged on the way out.

PEF A: I roll 2d6 vs the PEF’s Rep (always 4 in Fringe Space) and get 1, 6; that passes 1d6 so something is out there and the next PEF is resolved with the lowest two scores of three dice.

PEF B: 133 – contact. 1d6 (6) means there are two more NPCs than Arion’s group, i.e. three of them. 2d6 (7) means the leader is an Ordinary Joe, and in Fringe Space that means they all are – this is faster to resolve than in, say, Larger Than Life, where everyone in the group could be different. I use the option to roll professions separately, and get 234 – service industry, food & beverage, and manufacturing. I roll 2d6 for each to generate statblocks for them and get 3, 9 and 5 – the highest Rep present is a Rep 5 Xeog. Time to Talk the Talk; Arion rolls 6d6 (Rep 5 and an extra one for the difference in social status) looking for successes, i.e. rolls of 1-3; he scores 112356 and gets 4 successes. The best Rep in the opposing group, the Xeog, rolls 7d6 – 5d6 for her Rep and an extra two because like all Xeogs she is hawt. She gets 12234456 for 4 successes; the characters exchange pleasantries and then go their separate ways.

Arion now enters the restaurant and resolves a third and final PEF; 4,5 means “something’s out there”, but this is the final PEF of the session so that has no effect. Arion now meets Ms McDonald.

Arion’s taxi drops him off near Montagu’s, and he hurries through the crowd, eager to escape the rain. As he approaches the restaurant, a Xeog in the company of two Basics flashes him a smile, and he feels compelled to smile back just because she’s so pretty. But warmth and whiskey are more attractive right now than pleasantries from an alien, so he ducks inside, checks with the maitre d’, and is directed to a private table at the back, where he and MacDonald recognise each other from the earlier comlink call, and she hooks him up with a piper’s measure of the local whiskey, which proves to be smooth, mellow and aromatic; Arion wonders what the offworld market is like, and whether to take a few barrels with him when he leaves.

After an hour or so of food, whiskey and polite conversation, Arion rises to leave and MacDonald insists on showing him out. The motive for this becomes clear while Arion is waiting for his sodden coat to be recovered.

“Listen,” says MacDonald quietly, “I need some help. A local gang tried to buy that cargo from me, and I said no. I think they’ll try to steal it tonight. Will you help me stop that? I can pay you three blocks.”

Arion never turns down a cry for help, and frankly he needs the money. He pauses for a moment, because he doesn’t want to look too desperate, then says: “Okay, I’m in.”

“Thank you,” she says. “Be at the godown around nine.”

Arion now leaves the restaurant, three increasing Rep d6 richer. Local law level is 2 (spaceport), reduced by one because Arion is alone; I roll 2d6 vs law level and get 1, 3, passing 1d6. A robbery, but Arion will count as suspicious as it begins.

Robbery is handled like an attempted arrest by the police (p. 40) but obviously you’ve encountered criminals. The robbers begin on the tabletop with weapons drawn, and demand that you drop your weapons and hand over your valuables. This is a Confrontation encounter (p. 45), but rather than begin by generating the opposition as if a PEF had been encountered, I decide the would-be mugger (the dice tell me there is only one) must be a Criminal, in fact a lone Rep 4 Razor ganger (NPC #2 on the Criminal table).

-o0o-

Arion unwisely takes a short cut through an alley, and finds himself face to face with a Razor; fortunately the usual gang of Hishen sidekicks seems to be absent, but even so, Razors are muscular, fast, good in hand-to-hand combat, and able to launch a mental blast at their foes. Not good.

“Drop your weapons,” says the Razor, pointing a machine pistol at Arion. “I want your comlink, your cred chip, and that shiny big gun you have.”

Arion sighs, and goes for his gun.

Straight to the In Sight test; a roll of 6 means Arion counts as the moving side.

Arion rolls 5d6; 5 for his Rep, +1 for Steely Eyes, -1 because the opponent is a Razor. He gets 13445 for 2 successes. The Razor rolls 4d6, just her Rep: 1233 = 4 successes, so she wins the In Sight and opens up.

The Razor uses her Mental Blast ability, largely because I want to see how it works. She rolls d6 equal to her Rep and gets 5335; she can only apply one of those dice to Arion, starting with the highest, which is a 5 – adding her Rep gives her a score of 9, a hit. I now roll 1d6 for damage; Arion has body armour, but it seems unreasonable that he would wear it to a lunch date, so it’s a straight roll; 3. This is less than his Rep of 5 so he ducks back into cover. (This is the first time Arion has faced a Razor, and he has obviously forgotten that their Mental Blast ignores cover.)

I think about Arion’s next move for a second, and decide that discretion is (to quote Jim Butcher) the better part of not being exsanguinated. Fringe Space does not really reward the Star for killing wandering monsters, and there is nothing to be gained from victory except a machine pistol and a criminal record, so since Arion is the active side he leaves the table – being in Duck Back prevents him from attacking, and means he can neither see the Razor nor be seen by her, but the rules are silent on whether he can move so I assume he still can. Since he leaves the table voluntarily, no recovery test is needed.

If I were following the Razor’s career, Arion leaving the table would give her an increasing Rep d6, but I’m not. The rules as written don’t say anything about Arion getting a decreasing Rep d6, so that seems to be the end of it. A couple of dice rolls on the tables on p. 40 reveal that the police will arrive on turn 3, but both parties are long gone by then.

Arion breaks contact by putting a number of corners between himself and the ambush site, and returns to his ship to tool up for the evening’s entertainment.

A roll of 3 under page 41’s investigation rules reveals Arion has to report in to the police later on in connection with the incident; that shouldn’t logically happen for a while yet, but let’s get it out of the way – the police roll 3d6 (one per point of law level) and get 646, passing 0d6, while Arion rolls 16115 and gets 3 successes; the police decide not to pursue the matter further as no-one was hurt and Arion’s weapon has not been fired.

REFLECTIONS

It’s not clear from the rulebook how much the Star gets paid for Rescues or Confrontations, but I checked on the forum, and the author says to use the wages for hauling passengers, namely one decreasing Rep d6 (expenses of doing the job) and three increasing (reward).

I also discovered from him that campaign movement on a planet takes one month if moving from settlement to wilderness or vice versa, but movement from area to area within a settlement takes negligible time. So now you know.

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