Archive for the ‘Arioniad’ Category

Gordon is sitting in a room with late 1990s decor, watching the TV – which displays Arion’s current activities – and eating popcorn. Another figure suddenly materialises.

“Oh hi, Alex,” says Gordon. “You’re female today, I see; it suits you. Popcorn?”

“Thanks. How are you getting on with the latest Arion fork?” Alex dips a hand into the offered popcorn bucket and scoops up a fistful, then begins to eat, slowly.

“To be honest, I don’t think this one’s going anywhere,” Gordon says. “It’s in phase one – you know, before the ‘turtles all the way down‘ speech – so I have a sub-partial running things. I just drop in occasionally to check up on it.”

“How many have you got active in phase two?”

“One hundred and nineteen. About a third of them choose to remember that they’re simulations, and think they’re in the real world; the rest have no idea what’s going on. I haven’t figured out how they make that choice yet. Although I have noticed something interesting; whatever the initial conditions for the run, if Coriander’s in the simulation at all, Arion always finds her eventually. It’s quite romantic, really.”

“Any of them made it to phase three yet?”

“What, this reality? No, not yet. I’m waiting for one of the ones in phase two to figure out he’s still in a simulation.”

“How long do you let them run?”

“I give them ten good years in their timeline. The more complex runs take almost a millisecond.”

“Wow. I wouldn’t have the patience for that. Even as a partial rather than a full instantiation.”

“Yeah, well, it keeps me occupied. And you’d be surprised how popular he is; I run the more exciting ones on Pay Per View to fund the project. Here, let me show you one of those…” The channel changes, and we see a new Arion, floating in deep space in an environment suit, apparently alone.

“But what about you?” Gordon continues. “Getting anywhere with the timing channel attack?”

“Nothing conclusive yet, but I’m pretty certain we’re in a simulation as well. Here, let me show you…”

When I started the Arioniad in 2009, it was purely an experiment; the idea was to try out new rules and ideas in solitaire play before unleashing them on my players, and also keep my hand in with Savage Worlds at a time when sessions were months apart. Since then, Arion has become one of my favourite characters ever; solo play has become a major part of the blog, completely separate from what happens in group campaigns; and I’ve found better ways of experimenting than reboots and retcons within an existing campaign, notably the Tryouts category.

28 Months Later and Talomir Nights have worked better as campaigns than the Arioniad. I think this is because they stick to one setting and (largely) one rulebook, exploring new possibilities by introducing new characters and storylines; they avoid retcons and reboots; and blog posts use in-game dates rather than episode numbers.

If I were starting the Arioniad today, it would be a very different campaign; one that didn’t laugh in the face of series continuity, one that didn’t hop gleefully from rulebook to rulebook, one that didn’t reboot more or less at random. Maybe I enjoy it so much because of those quirks, rather than in spite of them; certainly I was very pleased with myself when I worked out an in-game reason for it – ‘turtles all the way down‘.

So far, I’ve tried various combinations of Savage Worlds, Classic Traveller, Mythic, 5150 (both New Beginnings and Fringe Space), Larger Than Life, and Solo in at least four different settings – 5150, and three homebrew. There are several others I could try, but ain’t nobody got time for dat. Moving forward, I need to choose an RPG, a solitaire game engine, and a setting, and stick to them for a while. Note that Fringe Space is all three, while Solo and Mythic are each only one leg of the tripod.

  • Solitaire Engine: Solo wins here; playing at a higher level of abstraction gives it a real edge in terms of speed, simplicity, and ability to ensure specific elements appear in the story. Its roots in Traveller also make it easy for me to use.
  • RPG: It’ll take explosives to shift me from Savage Worlds at this point; although the simplicity of Fringe Space is admittedly attractive, 40 years of Traveller and 10 years of Savage Worlds give me an instinctive fluency with the rules that I simply don’t have with Fringe Space. Maybe later.
  • Setting: This was by far the hardest choice, but of the various SF settings I’ve tried here, I like the Dark Nebula the best, mostly because of the map, so it wins. Solo doesn’t really need a starmap, mind you, just some world stats and the idea that worlds are one jump apart.

Let’s try that combination, and see what happens. However, learning from the lessons of 28 Months Later and Warrior Heroes, I’m going to make this a hard reboot, possibly with a different category. But I have some other things to post about first, so expect that reboot in a few weeks.

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Arion, Episode 23: Ouidah

Posted: 9 September 2017 in Arioniad
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In which we continue to explore Solo as a solitaire game engine, and venture into Hishen space in search of the kidnappees…

ROLLS AND RULES

Slow and didactic this time to be sure I don’t miss anything; I’m working from the checklist on page 53, and we begin by jumping to a new world. This looks in turn at leaving the current world, time in jump, and arrival at the destination. We start with some ‘pre-flight checks’…

  • Roll d66 for Starport Encounter (page 39): 5, 1 = meet a fellow traveller.
  • Roll 2d6 for NPC’s reaction (page 38): 8, Neutral. This is enough to make him/her a friendly contact if met again.
  • Roll d66 on Patron table (page 59) to determine NPC’s identity: 4, 2 = Scientist.

OK, so we now know a friendly scientist on Tortuga. I don’t plan on coming back this way so I don’t work up any more details. There is no cargo as the last time Arion thought about it was on Fermanagh, when he intended to buy whiskey – let’s assume he did – and I can’t be bothered with costs and fees (too much like the day job).

  • Roll 2d for Ship Encounter (page 40, assume no modifiers): 7 – no encounter.

At this point we leave Tortuga, and enter jumpspace. Let’s call the slavers’ trading world Ouidah, and give it the same 5150 stats as Tortuga – the salient point is law level 2. We need to roll for a shipboard event while in jump, and there is the chance of a bad reaction from a crewmember.

  • d66 for Onboard Event (page 56): 4, 4 = bridge sensors suggest a stowaway.
  • Tell Me, d6 (page 37): Is there one? 5. Why, yes. This is a good chance to introduce Dmitri, in this setting a Hegemony spy on the run from pirates.
  • Tell Me, d6: What kind of person is he? 6 = honest, good, dependable. Right, that settles it, it’s Dmitri.
  • Bad Reaction – random character affected (odd Arion, even Osheen): 3, Arion.
  • 8+ to avoid a bad reaction: Dice roll 6, so Arion reacts badly.
  • 1d6 to determine reaction: 2 – panic/anxiety. A stowaway picked up in a pirate haven sounds like a good reason to be anxious, until we realise he is friendly.

Now we arrive at Ouidah.

  • 2d for Ship Encounter: 4 – no encounter.
  • d66 for Starport Encounter: 5, 3 = another potential contact. This one has a reaction roll of 7 though, not enough to qualify, so no need to work out who they are.

Next, a week onplanet during which we will try to rescue the slavers’ victims. That calls for a Plan. I decide the easiest option is to buy them, trading the current cargo of Fermanagh whiskey for them. That seems like a Solid plan (8+ to succeed) but anything involving pirates, slavers and Hishen is Dangerous. First, though, as per page 53, a World Encounter.

  • d66 for World Encounter (page 58): 2, 1 = invited to a posh function. Well, that makes sense, this is obviously a party thrown by the slavers for potential buyers, which will no doubt culminate in an auction. Let’s add a security check to represent the bouncers on the door asking Osheen to hand in his guns at the door.
  • 2d6 vs law level: 9, no problems. If a Grath wants to bring a squad support weapon to the party, the bouncers are good with that. One wonders what armour they’re wearing if this doesn’t worry them.

The Plan. 8+ to succeed, no obvious modifiers. 2d6 = 12, success. Excellent – that could have gone badly wrong. 2d6 for Consequences; 6, which is under the 8 required – this means a Bad Consequence, and as the Plan is dangerous I decide to apply a -2 to the dice roll. The result is a 10, which would normally antagonise an NPC, but the houseruled modifier drops it to an 8 – partial failure (let’s say odds on 1d6) or incriminating evidence (let’s say evens). 1d6 = 3, so partial failure; since the objective was to recover all the kidnap victims, we only get Coriander, most likely because Arion fancies her more than the others and so is focussed on recovering her.

At this point we cycle back to another jump, but you’ve seen how those work already.

NARRATIVE

This post is long enough already, and its purpose is to explore the rules, so none of that this time. As a general rule, though, that would be the focus.

GM NOTES

Ship encounter rolls are influenced by world population and starport class, but I have assumed frontier routes and no modifiers to save having to generate worlds. I’ve also assumed the Dolphin is not a passenger ship (they have different onboard events).

As Anzon observed in the comments last time, there’s a lot of page flipping to get at tables. The way they are organized helps the internal logic when reading through the first time, so I understand why it’s that way, but in play it slows things down a bit. I will probably wind up printing out the relevant pages and shuffling them into a more usable order. Old school hardcopy users could stick tags on the relevant pages.

Anzon also observed that Dangerous Plans appear to have no mechanical effect. So my current house rule is to apply a -2 to any rolls for Bad Consequences, making injury or death more likely. I could infer from the text that injury or death only occur if the Plan is Dangerous, and roll 1d6+6 on the Bad Consequence table if it is Safe, or any number of other alternatives, but a flat -2 modifier is in the Traveller spirit and easy to remember.

Overall, I find this flows very smoothly and easily for me; no doubt that is partly due to it being based on Traveller, as I have spent most of my adult life playing that on and off. Blog posts would work better if I ran them as one per week, alternating time in jumpspace with time on planetary surfaces; that has come up so often over the years that I can take it as read now.

So, after eight years experimenting, I think I can move to an actual decision now. More of that in a future post, but for now, Hearts of Stone is restarting…

Arion, Episode 22: Tortuga

Posted: 2 September 2017 in Arioniad
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We left Arion and Osheen doing combat simulations in practice for their forthcoming rescue operation. For this next session I intend to use a mixture of 5150 Fringe Space and Solo, as I want to try out Solo and check if it really is as flexible as I think. I’ll put Rep on hold while I do that, as tracking lifetime and current Rep is almost as much work as tracking a bank balance in Credits. (I dislike tracking money in games, because a huge amount of my day job is about tracking money, and I don’t want to spend my leisure time doing it as well.)

“A place I know in Ring 5”, as Arion put it, is clearly relaxed about both selling heavy weapons to Grath and dealing with slavers and pirates. The only planetary data I think I need for Solo is a law level, so I pick the lowest law level planet available in Ring 5; Class 3, Law Level 2, Independent Alien world. It’s tempting to double that law level, which would bring law levels better into alignment with Traveller, but law level 2 feels more like a rough and tumble pirate hangout than law level 4. So 2 it is.

I’ll test-drive the Travellers campaign type; it’s the simplest. I’m comfortable with the life events, relationships and backstory for both characters so I skip over those. We are already In Media Res, so no need to roll for that.

As Arion outlined the plan, the Dolphin will jump to somewhere in Ring 5 – let’s call it Tortuga – then the crew will tool up and try to get a lead on the slavers. Looking at the checklist on page 53, we’re starting in the Jumping from World to World section, which is unusual but seems not to cause any problems.

The first applicable step in Solo is on p. 19, therefore, when I roll to avoid a bad reaction in jump. (If I were using Savage Worlds, I might replace this check with an Interlude.) I determine randomly who is affected (Arion, as it turns out) and roll 2d6, looking for 8+ as one generally does in Traveller-ish rules. I roll an 11; all good.

Second, as we’re now moving into On-Planet Activity, I roll on the World Encounters table (p. 58) and get 3, 5 – a patron offers a courier job, roll on tables S1 and S3. The World Encounters table is supposed to direct me to one of Patrons, Enemies, Cargoes or Colourful Locals but I can’t see how. In this case it points me to S1 (which I eventually work out is the patron table; I roll 6, 3 and get an engineer) and S3, which could be the cargoes table (which would be in the Traveller rules) because it’s third in the list, or might be the Mission Targets table because it’s the third table if you count patrons as the first. It’s a courier job to the next destination so logic dictates the latter; I roll 2d6 and get 4,1 – a remote base. Let’s resort to the Tell Me, D6 method (p. 37); on a scale of 1-6, high meaning more, how much is this job related to the current rescue mission? 1d6 =2; hardly at all. I decide this is a lead in to the next adventure, and park it for the moment, noting that the next destination would logically be the world the kidnap victims came from, which if I recall correctly is Fermanagh.

This takes me to page 22 and The Plan.

“What’s the plan, Captain?”

“First we go shopping and get all those guns you recommended.”

“And a large industrial blender.”

“Very well, and a blender. Then we ask around the local bars looking for slavers with people to sell. I think we should pose as agents for an anonymous buyer.”

I assess the plan for difficulty and danger level. Shopping isn’t worth rolling for; I note that the crew has tooled up, and move on. Trying to find slavers could go wrong in a number of ways, so the plan qualifies as ‘Shaky’ with 10+ needed to succeed. A lot of those bad outcomes involve violence, so it’s ‘Dangerous’. Does the crew have any PCs with skills that are particularly well, or badly, suited to the task? Does it have any crucial equipment or assets? Well, the Grath are the 5150 universe’s unstoppable killing machines, so I’ll give them a +1 for that. They’re now tooled up, but then so is everyone else, so no particular advantage there.

A security roll (2d6 vs law level) seems called for, a daily routine while onworld for Travellerish games; 6 is greater than the law level whether I doubled it or not, so the locals are not bothered by a human and a Grath walking among them.

How about the plan? I roll 9 on 2d6, add one for Mr Osheen’s boyish charm (and selection of weaponry), and get a 10 – success, if barely. So far so good, now I roll against the same target number to see if there was a good or bad consequence; it’s not completely clear to me whether or not I should apply the same modifiers, so I decide not to, for simplicity. I roll a 12 (huzzah!) and since this is higher than the target number, there is a good consequence; 2d6 = 10 (I’m on fire today) and the Good Consequence table tells me the crew finds a useful or valuable piece of kit. I decide the patron encounter would logically happen during that sequence of events.

A montage follows Arion and Osheen from shop to shop, bar to bar. Many people look them up and down, assessing whether they can kill Our Heroes and take their stuff. On observing the Grath, however, they decide there are easier ways to make a living.

At some point, there is a brief conversation in a bar with a guy in overalls; he offers Arion a package and an envelope, Arion nods and accepts.

At length, in a pawnshop near the docking bays, Arion picks up a locket he recognises. Flashback to him studying the kidnap victim dossiers; in one picture, the same locket is around the neck of the victim. We can’t see her full name, but “Coriander” is clearly visible above and to the right of the portrait, which shows an attractive woman with red hair…

GM NOTES

Solo’s author, Paul Elliot, rightly says that the narrative explaining the die rolls is the point of the exercise rather than an optional extra; but I have restrained myself here, the better to focus on evaluating the mechanics. Novelisation isn’t required, just some sort of story about what happened – examples in the rulebook generally limit the narrative to a few lines or paragraphs, some very straightforward and others more flowery. The style and length of your writeup is up to you.

As you see above, this is very fast and easy to run, and I haven’t gone anyway near Traveller or the Cepheus Engine; as it turned out, I didn’t need the Fringe Space rules, just a general understanding of the situation and the characters, a pair of six-sided dice, and Solo itself. I would expect to memorise the key rolls within a couple of sessions, but I would continue to need the more complex tables throughout an extended campaign.

As I haven’t referred to any rules other than Solo in this exercise, I still think this could be used with any RPG of the player’s choice, or indeed none at all if you have a clear picture of your characters and setting.

At this point it seems quite likely that Solo is the way forward for me in solitaire SF gaming, but let’s give it a couple more laps round the block before reaching a decision.

Arion, Episode 21: Boarding Action

Posted: 6 July 2016 in Arioniad
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Continuing the simulation theme and exploring another part of the Fringe Space rules I haven’t tried, let’s take a look at the abstract boarding system. These are optional rules for use if you don’t want to play out the boarding action as a Confrontation encounter on the tabletop.

Let’s suppose that our simulated Navy cutter had won the dogfight in episode 20, reduced the Dolphin’s Thrust to zero, won the next round on the Dogfight table, and opted to board. This takes us from p. 52 to p. 86 where the Boarding table lives.

Let’s further suppose that both sides are at full Hull and bonus dice. First I check whether the Navy will use their bonus dice; on a roll of 6 on one die, they elect not to. Each captain now rolls (Rep + Hull) d6; Arion rolls (5 + 3) d6 = 66561315 for 3 successes, and the Navy get (3 + 4) d6 = 2312351 for 6 successes, plus an extra d6 for having a Cutter’s Marine Detachment (3 = +1 success), plus one success for being a military vessel. Total: Arion 3, Navy 8 – a fairly convincing win for the Navy.

(On average luck, Arion would have got 4 successes and the Navy 5 – still a win for the Navy but by a smaller margin.)

The Navy force the crew of the Dolphin to surrender, and we go to the Terms of Surrender table. Here we roll against the boarder’s Rep (3); 2d6 (usual) +1d6 (military boarders) -1d6 (crew resisted boarding) = 2d6 overall. A score of 11 = pass 2d6; as the Dolphin is not a military vessel, the boarders take all cargo and valuables, but leave the crew and passengers alive and allow them to leave with their ship.

AFTERMATH

Again, a simulation, so no increasing or decreasing Rep rolls.

REFLECTIONS

Again, a fast, simple set of rules, easy to use, and no requirement for figures or terrain.

Had I been playing to win, rather than to test out the rules, I would either have played this as a Confrontation, where Arion’s Rep and attributes would offer more of an advantage, or have burned bonus dice on the boarding table roll – two, I think, to offset the Navy’s statistical advantage, but with dice rolls like that it probably wouldn’t have helped.

Interestingly, if you think you are going to lose the boarding action, you are better off if the boarding captain has a high Rep – low Rep ones are more likely to panic and kill you all, there was a 25% chance of that in this example.

Next time, on the Arioniad: Back to the actual story…

Arion, Episode 20: Dogfight

Posted: 22 June 2016 in Arioniad
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I haven’t tried out the Fringe Space ship combat rules yet, so let’s imagine for a moment that encountering the cutter last episode had turned into a fight – picture it as a combat simulation for Arion to hone his skills and while away the long nights in hyperspace. As I’m new to this part of the THW rules system you get a didactic post with little narrative voice this time.

SETUP

Arion is flying a stock trader, which has Thrust 3, Firepower 2, and Hull 3. The minimum crew is 3, and there are only two crewmembers aboard, so Arion is at -1 Rep. However, even reduced to Rep 4, he still has Ace and Steely Eyes, so he will count +1d6 and +2 successes on the Dogfight table, and +1 success on the Taking Control table. Although the rules are slightly ambiguous on this point, I decide that as Arion has an effective Rep of 4, he begins with 4 bonus dice.

The opposition is a Star Navy cutter, which has Thrust 3, Firepower 4 and Hull 4. We’ll assume a full crew. Her captain has Rep 3 and Rage, giving him +1d6 on the Taking Control table. He thus has 3 bonus dice.

Each captain rolls 1d6, Arion getting 3 and the Navy captain getting 5. Navy therefore draws the first chance card. There appear to be 11 of these (the ones in orange type on p. 100) so shuffle and draw – Asteroid, opposing ship loses one success on the Dogfight table to dodge an asteroid. The Navy will play this as soon as possible, as per the rules for NPCs (p. 49).

TURN 1

We begin on the Dogfight Table, and there are only two ships so who fights who is obvious. Each captain rolls Rep dice, looking for successes; Arion gets 2422 = 3 successes, +1 for being an Ace, +1 for having Steely Eyes, -1 because of the Asteroid card which the Navy plays as soon as possible, i.e. now. Total, 4 successes. The Navy meanwhile rolls 263 = 2 successes.

We move to the Taking Control table, with Arion counting +2d6 as he scored two more successes, and again both captains roll Rep. Arion gets a modified 5 successes (2 from dice, +1 Ace, +2 from successes on Dogfight table), Navy 2 successes (1 from dice, +1 for being military). Arion lines up a shot and we move to the Fire table.

Arion scored 3 more successes than the Navy, so now rolls 3d6 vs the Dolphin’s Firepower (2); 252 = 2 hits, which I allocate against the enemy Hull (no witnesses!) reducing it to 2.

The Navy now go to the Continue On table to see whether they fancy dancing some more with somebody this good. Navy rolls 2d6, -2d6 for the two Hull hits taken, +1d6 for being military, so 1d6 overall. They roll a 4, and pass 0d6. This means they run for it.

Each side now rolls 1d6 + Thrust; Arion gets 4 + 3 = 7, and Navy gets 4 + 3 = 7. Since the Navy’s total is not greater than that of all pursuing ships, they surrender.

AFTERMATH

Since I declared this as a simulation up front, there are no Rep dice, positive or negative. Had this been a real fight, Arion would have got two increasing Rep d6, one for firing at an enemy and causing damage (though you can only claim that once per month) and one for destroying or capturing an enemy ship.

REFLECTIONS

Even as a novice, this is a very quick and simple combat system – you’ll notice that for a one-on-one dogfight no counters or models are necessary, although I would want to use them if there were more than one ship on a side.

I don’t like the chance cards and won’t use them again. That’s just me, probably, I’m going off drawing cards in general at the moment (which bodes ill for Savage Worlds, but that’s another story).

Life is good when you’re a Steely-Eyed Ace. Especially when the opposition has a rubbish captain.

Arion, Episode 19: The Searchers

Posted: 27 April 2016 in Arioniad
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April 2220 Setup

It’s not clear where in the strategic turn sequence (page 21) resolving Job Offers should go, but it makes most sense to me if they occur at the beginning of the turn, before random encounters. This is because any jobs hauling cargo or passengers will dictate strategic movement, and if Job Offers happen after that, Arion loses a month between jobs, which a hardscrabble free trader can’t afford. So:

  • Job Offers (4): [1] Joe #6, Manufacturing, Cargo Hauling, Ring 1 Sector 2 3/2 Gaea Prime, Rep -1 +3. [2] Joe #9, Specialist, Rescue. Rep -1 +3. [3] Criminal #9, Hacker, Rescue. Rep -1 +3. [4] Joe #6, Specialist, Rescue. Three rescue jobs in a row? I’ll lump the three of them together and use them as an excuse for travel; spending three decreasing Rep dice to take the jobs sounds like tooling up. I’ll decline the cargo hauling job.
  • Starting location: Fermanagh, Ring 1, Sector 4. Random Event: No. Campaign Movement: Yes, move to sector 1 to gain access to inter-ring travel. Encounter: None (they are optional, and I want to start moving).
  • PEFs (3): [1] Something’s Out There [2] Star Navy Cutter [3] Something’s Out There.

Fermanagh, April 2220

“Mr Osheen, I think it’s time we left Fermanagh.”

“Yes, Captain.”

“We need money, though.” Arion browses to the spaceport jobs board on the main display.

“Hmm. Running cargo to Gaea Prime space, I think not; the police there would shoot you on sight, Mr Osheen. Hmm. Look at this; three separate rewards for finding and returning missing persons… Ah, I see, while I was having fun with Ms MacDonald there was a raid by Hishen slavers. I wonder if they’re connected to that Razor I bumped into? No matter. Mr Osheen, what equipment do you think we should pick up for this mission? We need to rescue three unarmed civilians, I don’t know where they are but they will be under armed guard.” The grath looks the captain up and down, and considers for a moment.

“You should wear your body armour and get two machine pistols. We will require a squad support weapon, body armour, and the largest available blender.”

“What’s the blender for?”

“It will simplify consuming our enemies’ bodily fluids for nourishment.”

“Ooookaaay… I’m going to take us to a place I know in Ring 5, we can go shopping and find out where the slavers are; then we can ask them where they took the slaves. Hopefully all to the same buyer.”

“Will questioning the slavers create an opportunity to absorb their bodily fluids for nourishment?”

“Almost certainly.”

Deep Space, Ring 1, April 2220

The Dolphin encounters a Star Navy Cutter, whose captain is a Rep 3 Basic with the Rage attribute; fortunately, as we are outgunned, Arion wins the Talk the Talk; the ships exchange pleasantries then go their separate ways. There is no need to record the NPC captain.

Admin

Arion began with a lifetime Rep of 7. He deducts 2 for crew upkeep (one for him and one for Osheen), and three for the jobs he has taken on. He hasn’t done anything that would increase Rep, so there are 5 decreasing Rep dice and a final Lifetime Rep of 2. Arion rolls 22435 for the decreasing Rep dice, and retains his Rep of 5.

Reflections

I see a story arc is already emerging; find the slavers, find the slaves, bring them back. This will likely lead to ongoing animosity with one or more of Razors, Hishen, and pirates.

Much like other story-driven THW games, you get some months in Fringe Space when nothing much happens.

Arion Episode 18: Recruiting

Posted: 15 April 2016 in Arioniad
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“So, Mr Osheen, thank you for responding to my job advert – nice to see you again. Let’s get right to it. What do you hope to achieve as First Mate on the Dolphin?”

“We wish to kill our enemies and absorb their bodily fluids for nourishment.”

“I see. And have you any previous experience of this kind of work?

“We have killed many enemies and absorbed their bodily fluids. For nourishment. The local police do not approve. We do not understand why.”

“No, I meant do you know anything about starship operations – piloting, engineering, navigation, that kind of thing.”

“We know that we must protect the Captain and prevent others from killing him and absorbing his bodily fluids for nourishment. We also know that we must not absorb the hydraulic fluid for nourishment. Or the hyperdrive coolant.”

“You know what, Mr. Osheen, the way things have been going lately, that’s good enough. You’re hired.”

MONTH-END ADMIN – MARCH 2220

Firstly, I decided Arion needs some muscle if he’s out in the Big Dark all alone, so I recruit the Grath Criminal for that purpose; I also think he will be a handy foil for Arion in future writeups, as the Grath are big, dumb, nearly indestructible, and can absorb any fluid for nourishment. I need to be careful to keep him aboard ship in Gaea Prime space though, as they will shoot him on sight.

Rep

As you can see, a single month can include several encounters, any of which could result in increasing Rep d6; so the support cost of one decreasing Rep d6 per group member per month isn’t going to be as harsh as I expected. I suspect the bulk of increasing dice will come from adventures on-planet, though.

  • Starting Lifetime Rep +1
  • Support -2, completing the trading mission +4
  • Encounters: +3 for episode 15, +1 for episode 16, -1 for episode 17.
  • Net increasing Rep this month +6 – roll 255242, no change to Rep.
  • Ending Lifetime Rep +7.

Contacts

Hmm, the contacts are racking up quite quickly here, not sure I want to track those. I might just say that when the ship lifts, all debts are paid, and the contact list resets. Rather than rolling to confirm whether an NPC has been met previously or not, I might decide that if the same NPC stats are rolled again (say, #10 on the Exotic table) it’s the same NPC.

  • Perry Anderson (Rep 4 Politician, Corinth)
  • Roger Houston (Rep 5 Pilot, Corinth, previously recruited)
  • Captain Pollard Lush (Rep 4 Drunkard, Gaea Prime light freighter – history)
  • Anne MacDonald (Rep 5 Corporate Exec, Shaker NPC #10, Fermanagh)
  • Officer 182 (Rep 4 Grath Police, Exotic NPC #10, Fermanagh – history)
  • Xeog and two Hishen police impersonators (Exotic NPCs 5, 7 and 11 – history)
  • First Mate Osheen (Rep 4 Grath Criminal, Exotic NPC #9, Fermanagh, previously recruited)

Worlds

Looking at the sample systems table on p. 82 I can see I’ve already established enough detail to fill in the rest for the campaign worlds mentioned to date, so I did that. I also note that the home world tables on p. 13 generate different results, so decide not to worry about it and just pick whatever seems appropriate.

  • Corinth: 1/4 Indy Basic, Ring 3, Sector 1
  • Fermanagh: 2/3 Indy Basic, Ring 1, Sector 4
  • Makaria: 2/4 Indy Basic, Ring 3, Sector 6

REFLECTIONS

The campaign movement for a typical trading run would be: Month 1 – move from planet of departure to sector 1 in current ring. Month 2 – move to sector 1 in destination ring. Month 3 – move to destination planet. Three months for a cargo run seems a bit long to me.

For further study: Fringe Space looks like it will be good for ongoing picaresque wandering, but one thing I did like about Larger Than Life was the story arc. I’ll reread FS in depth and see how that sense of direction and progress could be incorporated.