Category Archives: Savage Worlds

Shepherd, Episode 7: Back to Mizah

Simba, 060-3015

As Shepherd hobbles out of hospital and back to the hangar, a couple of questions spring to mind for resolution by the Mythic GME. First, though, I roll 1d10 against the Chaos factor. The most likely next scene is Greg taking Egemen back to Mizah; I roll a 10, which is more than the Chaos factor, so that is indeed what happens next.

  • Is Tunaydin coming too (50/50)? 58% – yes, with this chaos factor.
  • What about the grad student (very likely, since Tunaydin is coming)? 37% – also yes.
  • How about Abeid (very unlikely)? 86% – no.

OK then, party of four for Mizah. Greg refills the fuel tank (11 x 6 x $100 = $6600) and pantry (2 x 10 = $20), and after about five tries over 42 minutes manages to calculate the hyperspace jump, which would have him arriving 8 days out of Mizah, but that would mean running out of food; he needs to arrive at least two days earlier, which would cost an extra 4 days’ fuel, and if he arrives the same day (cost 16 fuel) his cargo will still be worth $6000 per unit – that’s a no-brainer, so he burns 16 fuel and arrives at Mizah on 060-3015, just before the monthly cargo price reset, with 3 fuel left in the tanks. A bit of metagaming, but never mind, a PC would’ve done it.

The Mizah system is a patrolled area, so there is no event draw. Greg lands, bids Egemen and company farewell, sells the cargo, replenishes everything, and takes the day off while the commodity board resets. At this point he learns about the Hierate invading Valka – I’ll explain how I came to that thinking in a couple of posts’ time.

The next day, he sees that the best deal in the Fastnesses (the cluster of seven worlds centred around Mizah, if you don’t have the Dark Nebula boardgame to hand) is buying food on Mizah for $1500 per unit, and selling it on Omaro for $5000; on the way back he can buy Ore at $700 per unit and sell it at £2800 per unit. Omaro is a good place to visit next in narrative terms because I already have it half-worked out, so that’s also a no-brainer.

After eight tries Greg gets the jump coordinates set, and succeeds with a raise, cutting the jump time to 6 days. The encounter card is the 4 of hearts, so no encounter. That’s all fine.

Omaro, you may recall, is a Failed Core (or if you prefer, a Cold Mercurian; Titan-like) with Esperanto-speaking Japanese who venerate Professor LL Zamenhof, and giant lobsters outside the viewports. But more of that next time…

LIST UPDATES

Status at scene end: Omaro, 067-3015. Fuel 13, Food 19, $107,230, cargo 5 Food.

Chaos Factor: Back to 5, Greg is more in control now than last time.

Characters

Greg Shepherd; Princess Sofia of Ria (deceased); People’s Republic of Ria; Insectoid raiders; Solomani Confederation; Aslanic Hierate; Egemen Kaptan, Happy Corporate Exec; Tunaydin Uygun, Egemen’s girlfriend, Creative (and patriotic) Scientist; Abeid, Crude crawler driver; Tunaydin’s grad student.

Plot Threads

Avoid capture by the PRR; understand that Sofia’s slate is a mystery (then solve it); take Egemen back to Mizah; learn what Tunaydin was doing at the wreck site.

REFLECTIONS

Interstellar trading is still not very interesting, which is what I found last time when using Classic Traveller for it in the Arioniad. I’ll have to see if I can work out some sort of shortcut; in my youth I would have coded a short programme to work out the average monthly income and expenditure, but this time I will probably say something brutally simple like trading exactly defrays operating costs, and any real monetary advance has to come from adventuring. Or perhaps I should use an advance to buy Greg the Rich Edge to represent successful trading, upgrading it to Filthy Rich later on.

You will notice I never had to decide what Tunaydin’s exciting discovery was, which is just as well as I have no idea what it could be. We’ll leave the Dice Gods to bring it back into play as and when they see fit.

Shepherd, Episode 6: Spider Fighting

"We need to get bigger guns. BIG F*CKING GUNS!" – Split Second

Simba, 039-3015 to 059-3015

We had about half a second to decide what to do. I had a survival knife and a Confederation-issue 10mm sidearm, Egemen had a crowbar, and Tunaydin had a very nice smile, but I didn’t think that would do her any good.

Fortunately, the Confederation maintain a small military base – Camp Erzurum – on Simba, which they use for hostile environment training and field testing equipment. Anything that makes it into Confed standard issue will work on Simba, at least for a while. I had even had the presence of mind to fit the oversized winter trigger so I could use it in my mittens.

Egemen instinctively stepped between Tunaydin and the spiders while I was fumbling the pistol out of a big pocket. I would’ve given Tunaydin the knife, so she at least had something, but I couldn’t spare the time because the spiders were running at us now…

Erzurum has actually been there for a while, but only now becomes relevant to the story – on a whim, I diced on the 2300AD base table about three weeks ago to see if there was anything present while I was refreshing my memory on Glacier worlds, and the only thing that came up was a military base. It had to belong to either Mizah or Confed, and we know Confed is more expansionist than Mizah because it has more worlds under its control. (See, the map helps me all the time.)

I’d already decided that all the serious fighting happens in space, so it seems more likely to be a testing and training facility than a fortification.

And speaking of serious fighting… the party consists of a Wild Card (Greg) and five Extras (two lovebirds, two drivers, and a grad student). While the actual statblocks for the opposition are orcs, as an homage to both the imagoes in the Arioniad and the kafers in 2300AD, they look like humanoid spiders as a trapping. SWDEE p. 163 tells me a giant spider nest contains 1d6+2 spiders, and that sounds good enough for now; I roll a 4, so there are six of the blighters. I decide that the grad student is unarmed, but that each crawler driver has Healing d6, Shooting d6 and a hunting rifle (equivalent to an M-1 Garand) for defence against a local predator, which I shall call the Simban Ice Lion, although it’s actually more like a polar bear.

It’s been a few months since I’ve run a SW combat, so let’s take this slowly and didactically. First, I lay out the combat; two crawlers (from The Last Parsec figure flats), a spaceship (Wydraz), some figures for the good guys (eM4) and some bugs (represented by Reaper orcs). All human Extras will move on Greg’s card to save time; all bugs will move on the same card, and their tactics are simple; close with the nearest human, gang up, wild attack, claw and bite it to death, and repeat on next nearest human.

The humans will fall back on the crawlers in as close to good order as they can manage, and try to board without letting the spiders inside.

shep0600

TURN 1

Initiative: Greg, 5 of Clubs; bugs, 4 of Spades. Excellent, the humans go first. That’ll help.

Tunaydin and Egemen both turn and run for Tunaydin’s crawler. Both manage a 6 on their running die, so make a 12" move and right away they are up to the crawler’s hatch. Greg also runs, but only gets a 2 on the running die so only makes 8". (Note that the running die is not a trait roll, therefore it cannot ace and you can’t spend a benny to reroll it.) I did consider moving the red crawler forwards between Greg and the bugs, but if you look at the turning template you’ll see it would run over him first – not good. So instead both drivers grab their rifles and make for their respective crawler hatches, taking all turn to do so (because they are in a vehicle I apply my usual house rule, speed is halved but they count as in cover).

Greg gets one Multi-Action Penalty because he is trying to draw and fire in one turn, and a second one because he is running. He rolls to hit with his pistol, hoping to thin out the enemy; Shooting d6-4 with wild die and he misses horribly.

Egemen has his prybar to hand already, and Tunaydin has no weapon.

Now the bugs attack, and as per their standing orders they run at Greg they also roll 6 so move 12". That brings three of them into base-to-base contact and thus melee, with the second rank close behind; three attacks with Fighting d6, +2 for Wild Attack, +2 for Gang-Up Bonus, -2 Multi-Action Penalty because they ran this turn. Attack rolls of 1, 2 and 5 give them one miss, two hits. First the hit; 2d8+2 damage = 10, vs 7 Toughness is Shaken – Greg is down. Then the hit with a raise; 2d8+1d6+2 = 14, Success with two raises – seriously bad news, time to spend a benny to soak damage. Vigour d6 = 4, wild die = 2; success, so Greg soaks one wound. I consider spending a second benny, but suspect he will need it next turn. He is Shaken and Wounded, so I lay the figure on its side and give it a red chip for a wound; trait rolls next turn are at -1.

The bugs also have "GM bennies", but they seem to be doing well enough for the moment.

shep0601

TURN 2

Initiative: Greg Jack of Clubs, bugs 5 of Spades; humans go first again, just as well.

Tunaydin cycles the crawler hatch and clambers inside. Egemen turns at bay but doesn’t fancy his odds if he joins the melee. Greg first tries to recover from Shaken, which is a Spirit roll; Spirit d6-1 = 4, wild die d6-1 = 3 – success, so Greg would recover but it would take him all round and he would forfeit his action this turn. Considering he is about to be surrounded by six bugs, that sounds like a bad idea, so he spends a second benny to remove the Shaken condition, which you can do at any time; briefly he considers plugging the bug in front of him, but decides that using the Withdraw and Defend options is better. He breaks contact, and each bug in contact gets one free attack against Parry 6 (Greg’s Parry of 4, +2 for Defend) as he flees; the bugs roll 1, 2 and 2 respectively, boosted to 3, 4, 4 by the gang-up bonus, but they can’t use their Wild Attack as it is an action. Greg stumbles 6" towards the crawler hatch, as if he runs he can’t also Defend, and the +2 Parry against the bugs’ next attack is going to be crucial.

The two crawler drivers use their movement to flip open the top hatches and stick their heads and rifles out; each targets a bug in the front rank using a double-tap, which the M-1 can do as it is semi-automatic. One misses, one aces and hits with a raise, doing 12 damage at AP2, which against Toughness 8 (1) is success with a raise, which should kill the bug. Relucantantly I spend a GM benny to give it a soak roll, and it shrugs off the damage.

Now the bugs again give chase, and two easily catch Greg; but they rolled 1 on the running die, and his angling around the crawler tracks means they get in each other’s way, and four of them are out of contact. The two who can attack are now rolling at a net +1, and against Greg’s current Parry of 6, they fail to hit.

shep0602

TURN 3

Initiative: Greg 7 of Diamonds, bugs 2 of Clubs. Greg’s life is being saved by lucky initiative draws here.

Withdrawing with Defend has worked well so far, so Greg does it again, which is good enough to get him to the hatch, and he uses his action to open it. If he can survive one more turn, he’s golden.

Egemen climbs inside the other crawler and slams the door closed. The drivers continue to fire, and one hits, but the bug shrugs off the damage.

The bugs corner Greg against the side of the crawler, but only three of them can get at him because he now has his back to it. Two of them hit despite his boosted Parry; the first rolls 10 damage, Shaking him, and Greg uses his last benny to avoid being Shaken. The second does 15 damage; Shaken, and two Wounds, taking him to Shaken and three Wounds. Things are not looking good for the home team.

shep0603

TURN 4

Initiative: Greg draws an 8, and the bugs a 9 – it had to happen at some point, the bugs go first, and the Shaken Greg can’t Defend. Two bugs hit him, the armour saves him from one strike but the second one delivers another Wound, taking him to Incapacitated. He immediately makes a Vigour roll; Vigour d6-3 = 2, Wild Die d6-3 = -1. Greg has a permanent injury and is Bleeding Out; rolls of 6, then 2, tell me his Agility is permanently reduced one die type, to d6. That could have been worse, he can use an advance to boost it back to d8 later.

The last I remember was turning to put my back to the side of the crawler, and trying to fend off the bugs. I caught a couple of good slashes, and one did a lot of damage; it was three weeks before I was out of hospital, and months before I was fully recovered.

Greg can’t act, but Abeid still can. He drops the rifle, uses his movement to dodge through the crawler to the hatch, and his action to pull Greg inside.

Afterwards, the others told me that Abeid had risked his own life to pull me away from the bugs and into the crawler.

Meanwhile, the other driver finally manages to kill one bug, leaving five. Everything now hinges on the last initiative draw.

shep0604

TURN 5

Initative: Greg Jack of Hearts, bugs 2 of Hearts. This means Abeid uses his action to slam the hatch closed in the bugs’ faces, while Tunaydin’s crawler starts up and moves off.

shep0605

TURN 6

Initiative is now irrelevant, because the bugs can’t get in, but we’re still in combat time because Greg is Bleeding Out. Luckily Abeid manages to roll a 4 on his Healing, which stops the bleeding.

That takes us out of combat time. The Extras sort themselves out and drive off, leaving the bugs to freeze to death.

AFTERMATH

Every five days, Greg makes a Vigour roll at +2 (due to the local tech level) to recover. His rolls are adequate, but not stunning, and it takes him 20 days to recover back to full health.

Status at scene end: Fuel 14, Food 23, $114,150, cargo 5 Fuel. It seems reasonable the Joker is on half power, so it has only lost 10 days of fuel.

  • Did Egemen and Tunaydin wait for Greg to heal (50:50)? 44% – yes.
  • Did they have the chance to leave (50:50)? 26% – yes.
  • Was that to do with him (Unlikely)? 62% – no. Most likely then Tunaydin carried on with her research, whatever it is, and Egemen stayed with her.

LIST UPDATES

Characters

Greg Shepherd; Princess Sofia of Ria (deceased); People’s Republic of Ria; insectoid raiders; Solomani Confederation; Aslanic Hierate; Egemen Kaptan, Happy Corporate Exec; Tunaydin Uygun, Egemen’s girlfriend, Creative (and patriotic) Scientist; Abeid, Crude crawler driver.

Chaos Factor: Still 6.

Plot Threads

Avoid capture by the PRR; understand that Sofia’s slate is a mystery (then solve it); take Egemen back to Mizah; learn what Tunaydin was doing at the wreck site.

REFLECTIONS

In hindsight, it would have been better to use Brass Jester’s suggestion of solo combat as a modified chase situation. Especially since this was, in fact, a chase.

Given that I didn’t do that, and the odds, it might have been better mechanically for everyone to Withdraw using the Defend option on turn 1. Splitting the party and running for it nearly got Greg killed, several times. However, Tunaydin and Egemen would have probably have died if they hadn’t (a) run for it and (b) rolled so well on their running dice.

I forgot the bugs had GM bennies in turns 2 and 3, which I often do in group play as well. Had the bugs used those to reroll hits in turn 3, they might have been able to finish Greg off before the Extras could intervene.

Abeid came to see me the day I was discharged, and handed Egemen a bill. He looked at me as he did it, though.

"You owe me for a new rifle, and cleaning out my crawler. There’s still blood on it in places."

Egemen waved airily. "I’m good for it. I can cover it on expenses." I think he still felt guilty about hustling Tunaydin into her crawler and leaving me to face six bugs alone. I like to think I would have done something different, but you never know until you’re in that situation; he’d paid for the best medical care Simba had to offer, which was enough of an apology for me.

"I also owe you my life, Abeid," I said. "Thank you. I don’t know how I can repay you, but if you ever need anything I can give you – it’s yours."

"I’m sure I can think of something," he grinned.

Shepherd, Episode 5: The Crash Site

Simba, 039-3015

I’ve skipped over the journey across the ice sheet to the crash site. If a PC were driving I’d treat this as a dramatic task (SWDEE pp. 95-96), but who wants their character to die because a minor NPC blew a dramatically unimportant die roll? So they just arrive.

It was dark when we got to the crash site. The fire-blackened ribs poking up out of the snow made the wreck itself look like a giant insect. There was no obvious sign of life, other than the headlights of what was presumably Tunaydin’s crawler shining on a hole in the wreckage. Then, movement; something metallic, about the size of a dog, clambered off the crawler’s side and staggered across to the hull, the high winds making it weave like a drunkard.

Smart girl. No point going in there blind yourself when you can send a drone first to check for bugs.

Egemen, meanwhile, had commandeered the radio and was calling the other crawler. I was too busy looking at what was left of the insectoid raider to pay attention while he exchanged sweet nothings with Tunaydin; I’d never seen one before, they haven’t made it past Simba yet, for whatever reason. Long may it stay that way.

By the time I’d finished gawking, Egemen and Tunaydin had decided they were going to get out and ferret about in the wreckage. Tunaydin said the drone had found something interesting, and I wanted to see what the raider was like on the inside. So we three clambered down from the crawlers, Egemen and Tunaydin embraced awkwardly through about twenty centimetres of insulating fabric and bumped faceplates in lieu of a kiss, and we trudged over to the wreck, and through the hole, into a compartment of some sort, too smashed and burned for me to make out what it had originally been like.

A voice came over the commnet which I later learned belonged to Tunaydin’s grad student. "Tunaydin, we lost the drone."

"What do you mean, we lost the drone?"

"The video feed just went to static."

"Maybe the weather is too much for it?" asked Egemen. We stood looking at each other through our facemasks for a moment, which seems stupid in hindsight.

"Buibui!" called Abeid over the local net. "Spider!" And it did look a bit like a spider, apart from being nearly as big as me. It waved a broken piece of drone over its head in triumph, and scuttled down the shattered hull plates towards us.

Behind it, more followed.

You know, I didn’t feel the need for any rules or dice at all there. That happens sometimes, in solo as well as group play.

BENNIES

Something I need to consider is how fast Greg’s bennies recharge in a solo game. In the last episode I settled on four scenes being roughly equivalent to a session, so bennies refresh at the start of scene 1, and every four episodes thereafter; which means Greg is back on three bennies now. Just as well, I think.

LISTS

No change from last time. I won’t add the grad student or Tunaydin’s driver to the NPC lists unless they survive the bug splatfest.

-o0o-

Five scenes in and no fighting yet? Call this pulp adventure? Who writes this stuff, anyway?

I can fix that for ya. Next time: Spider fighting. Yes, that’s a real thing.

Dark Nebula: Savage Worlds Edition

Over the next few weeks I’m going to flesh out the worlds of the Dark Nebula in high-level game terms for several game systems.

Yes, I know I don’t need to, and probably shouldn’t because it distracts me from the storyline; but this, too, is an enjoyable solo gaming activity, in its own way.

Let’s start with Savage Worlds and the Science Fiction Companion’s World Maker. As usual, I’ll extract whatever I can from the map. Also as usual, Savage Worlds plays fast and loose with everything, so it’s the easiest one to do.

GRAVITY, DOMINANT TERRAIN, ATMOSPHERE

These are the hardest parts to derive from the map. We already know that tertiary systems have no planets, so we can ignore those – there’s nothing to describe.

Primary systems are naturally habitable, so they can’t have zero gravity, super-heavy gravity, an artificial habitat or atmospheres rated as "none" or "hazardous". Secondary systems are not naturally habitable, so they must have at least one of those things.

Without detailed explanations of (for example) what super-heavy gravity actually is, I can’t really justify those rulings except by saying I’ve been immersed in SF in all its forms for over 40 years, and those feel right to me; but your mileage may vary.

POPULATION DENSITY

Population density is completely and deliberately decoupled from population level, so there is no conflict with other rules. This is an example of the bottom-up, party-level focus of Savage Worlds; the PCs don’t know, and don’t care, how many people are on the planet as a whole, but can take a guess at how many there are in blaster range, or what the chances are of somebody responding to their distress flare.

I did spend quite a lot of time working population density levels out in detail from UN statistics, historical records and planetary surface area, but let me save you the effort; cities and orbital stations are Extremely Dense at any technology level, and anywhere else is whatever you feel like.

DOMINANT GOVERNMENT, DOMINANT LAW, CUSTOMS

I can extract all of these from real-world knowledge, using the language the world is named in to look up a contemporary culture. For example, Mizah having a Turkish culture, I can effortlessly declare the government a Republic, the law level Strict, and the custom "significant clothing for females", since in real life many, but by no means all, choose to wear the tesettür, a headscarf and light topcoat.

TECHNOLOGY LEVEL

Here, I assign Primary worlds Average (the baseline), Capital worlds Above Average (because they build bigger, nastier warships), Secondary worlds Below Average (because Secondary), and Tertiary worlds (or Secondary ones in the Nebula) don’t have technology.

For Bulan, I have to do one of three things: Assign it Ultra Tech (because the neutral counter draw gave it grav tanks), downgrade its armoured brigade to hovertanks, or say that in this campaign grav technology is Average, not Ultra Tech; but I don’t have to decide that yet.

SPACEPORT

Since the Sci-Fi Companion specifies how many ships a port can handle, I can compare that to "aircraft movements" at contemporary airports so that I know how to describe them to players; I assume that the maximum traffic volume per day (half the aircraft movements) is the same as the number of ships handled. Since no other system I am looking at does that, there is no clash between rules sets.

System Spaceport Ships Example
Tertiary None None No airport.
Secondary Basic Tens Stornoway
Primary Small Hundreds Stansted
Capital Large Thousands Heathrow

Update 8th February: Table corrected as per comments from Jim C – thanks Jim!

Nothing on the map deserves an Extensive spaceport, which would be like Chicago O’Hare on acid, with a large side of fries and unlimited coffee refills.

Job done, and so easy to remember I don’t need to mark it on the map. I might even steal terminal maps from the airport websites.

Next up: Traveller…

Shepherd, Episode 4: Simba

Greg now jumps from Mizah to Simba, carrying Egemen Kaptan, his mysterious messages, and 5 units of timber. After 1d6 = 1 minute, he rolls a critical failure on his Astrogation check, spends a benny to reroll, and gets a success with two raises, reducing flight time to one day with a lucky roll. I draw a three of clubs for the encounter, so there isn’t one.

Simba’s surface starport is called Peponi, which they tell me means "paradise", so I can only assume they were being sarcastic. Simba is technically habitable, but paradise it is not. We came in through showers of carbon dioxide snow and 50 metre per second katabatic crosswinds off the North Plateau, driven by one point three gees of surface gravity. Atmospheric pressure is likewise one point three standard, but the low oxygen content leaves you with headaches and assorted other minor symptoms until you acclimatise, which takes about a week. You need a full-face mask, an oxygen supply and serious foul-weather gear to go outside.

I had no real interest in landing; secondary systems have planets that are too big, too small, too hot or too cold to be habitable, which means even if you do land, you’re still basically inside a space station, you’ve just used more delta-V to dock. Egemen insisted, though, because Tunaydin had gone down to the surface in a dropship to examine what she had logged with traffic control as "a site of scientific interest".

Greg unloads his five units of Timber for $12,000, and in anticipation of a return trip to Mizah, buys five units of Fuel for $7,500. He decides not to top up the fuel tank just yet, as he still has 24 days left. Then, we descend to the surface, which given what Simba is like, I shall treat as a Dramatic Task (SWDEE pp.96-97) using Piloting. A dramatic task is a sequence of trait rolls (at -2) in each of five consecutive combat rounds; the character needs to get five successes, and each club drawn for initiative introduces a complication. It seems reasonable that the ship’s AI can assist using the Cooperative Rolls rule on p. 71, so we’ll do that; as it’s effectively an NPC under Greg’s control, it acts on his initiative card. Greg has Piloting d10, +2 (for the Ace Edge) -2 (for the dramatic task), and a wild die. The AI has Piloting d10.

Turn 1: King of Hearts. The AI rolls 1d10-2=5, a success; this adds +1 to Greg’s die roll. He rolls 1d10+2-2+1=5 (the wild die is 1d6+2-2+1=4), and garners one success of the five he needs. So far, so good.

Turn 2: Jack of Clubs. Oops, a complication. This gives another -2 modifer to the roll – no doubt a sudden gust of crosswind. The AI rolls 1d10-4=5, giving Greg another +1. Greg rolls a modified 3 on his trait die and a modified 1 on his wild die; since failure means the worst possible outcome for the task, crashing into a glacier miles from anywhere, Greg spends a benny to reroll and this time gets a 7 on the Piloting die and a 9 on the wild die; he chooses the roll from the wild die and adds two more to his tally (one for the success, one for the raise) and now has three of the five points he needs.

Turn 3: 10 of Hearts. The AI rolls a modified 9, giving Greg +2; he rolls 8 on the Piloting die and 7 on the wild die after modifiers, cranking him up to a total of five points and ending the task early.

Despite the planet’s best efforts, including hailstones the size of my head and crosswinds gusting to nearly a hundred metres per second at one point, I managed to get us down in one piece. The spaceport is built into the side of one of the few mountains poking up out of the ice sheets; I was glad when the bay doors to our berth reluctantly opened, and even more glad once they had closed behind us and I could release my death grip on the joystick.

It’s now appropriate to determine just what Egemen’s girlfriend is the renowned authority on, and I don’t need dice rolls for that – the thing that is special about Simba is its proximity to the insectoid raiders, so if she’s come here, that’s the logical thing for her to be expert in. Consequently, what she is investigating must be something to do with them, so I decide that during the last insectoid raid, one of their ships crashed, and she is examining the wreckage.

Has she brought the wreckage inside the starport (Likely)? 78% = No.

The spaceport staff told us Tunaydin had gone out to investigate a crashed insectoid raider, so while Egemen haggled with them over the rental on a crawler, I powered the Joker down to minimum. It looked like we were going outside…

Neither Egemen nor Greg has Driving, so Egemen will also hire a driver. A little Googling gives me a viable name, Abeid, and I roll 1d20=11 for his personality; Crude.

EXPERIENCE

While I never bothered with experience for Arion, Greg can have some; let’s be honest, he needs a better Astrogation skill than he has, and I’m also keen to boost his Piloting to improve his chances of surviving space combat. But how experience much is fair?

In a normal game session, I’d get through about three scenes ("encounters" in D&D parlance) and award characters two experience each. Let’s call that one experience every other scene in Greg’s case, since I expect the scenes to be shorter, which conveniently means he gets one advance every 10 scenes.

LIST UPDATES

Characters

  • Greg Shepherd
  • Princess Sofia of Ria (deceased)
  • People’s Republic of Ria
  • Insectoid raiders
  • Solomani Confederation
  • Aslanic Hierate
  • Egemen Kaptan, Happy Corporate Exec
  • Tunaydin Uygun, Egemen’s girlfriend, Creative (and patriotic) Scientist
  • Abeid, Crude crawler driver.

Chaos Factor: Greg is less in control of the situation now, so I increment the chaos factor to 6.

Plot Threads

  • Avoid capture by the PRR
  • Solve the mystery of Sofia’s pocket slate – actually for Greg there is a first step, understand that there is a mystery to solve; so he won’t actively try to close this thread yet, an NPC has to mention it to him first.
  • Take Egemen back to Mizah.
  • New: Visit Tunaydin’s wreck site and learn what she is doing there.

Status at scene end: Fuel 24, Food 23, $114,150, cargo 5 Fuel.

Our driver, Abeid, was foul-mouthed in several languages, kicking and cursing the crawler as he checked the track tension, the heaters, and a dozen other things before we could venture out into the cold. It had taken us twenty minutes to dress in the multi-layered and brightly-coloured cold weather suits from the Joker’s stores. Abeid looked at them, couldn’t decide whether to laugh out loud at their inadequacy or curse us for stupid offworlders, and settled for a derisive snort. We clambered aboard all the same.

"Halahala mti na macho!" he shouted as the garage doors cranked painfully open against the wind. I had a spider from the repair swarm on my shoulder as a commlink relay to the Joker, and after a fraction of a second it thoughtfully translated. "He is warning you about impending danger," said the AI.

I suspect none of us realised then just how much danger we would be in.

Review: Last Parsec Deck Plans and Figure Flats

More goodies from The Last Parsec… in this week’s post, the ship deck plans and figure flats.

I’ll digress from my usual review structure, because for this kind of product content and format are really the same thing, and also figure flats are not things I use much, so it doesn’t seem fair to give them a rating.

There are four deck plans and two sets of flats available; the deck plans are for a dropship, a modular freighter, a pair of pirate ships, and a research vessel. The figure flats are basically the good guys ("Explorers") and the bad guys ("Terrors").

FIGURE FLATS

Let’s look at the figures first. The Explorers pack contains nearly 70 figures suitable for use as PCs or their sidekicks, comprising four constructs, three deaders, three florans, seven male and three female humans, eight insectoids, three kalians, three rakashans, three saurians, four aurax, four yetis, and a serran (which could also work as another female human); many of these use the iconic art from other products in the line, for example the serran is the same artwork as in the SFC itself, and some of them are named, which suggests they are from existing or planned products – I haven’t checked. Additionally there are seven JumpCorp Marines, seven JumpCorp  security troopers, a squad of eight saltarians and their commander, and two armed exploration vehicles. With the exception of the JumpCorp and saltarian troops, who have multiple instances of the same pose, all of the figures are different.

In the Terrors pack, you get six security bots, a shady-looking dude called Kerastus, three librarians, two stringers, nine kragmen and two kragman shamans, eleven each of canyon, desert, forest, mountain and high sethis, three shock mantas, three drakes, two maulers, nine ravagers, nine spitters, one apex (as in apex predator), six arc beetles, one omariss death worm, five mysterious entities and one giant mysterious entity. All except the mysterious entities are from one of the TLP setting books. These being NPC mooks and local fauna rather than heroes, you get only one or two poses per type of being.

Some of the figures are 2D counters, but most are trifold standees; you fold each figure into a three-cornered prism and stand it on end. I always have trouble gluing those together, so I’d probably trim them to front-and-back and put them in some sort of stand. Personally I’d use the silhouette for the back and a colour image for the front, as in some of the games I play, it matters which way figures are facing.

DECK PLANS

The deck plans are provided as poster-sized full-colour images, overlaid with a square grid at the standard Savage Worlds one inch equals six feet (although you could print them at different scales to suit your figures, obviously). Each one would use 12 pages of A4 or Letter size paper to print out.

The dropship is a short-haul vessel, not suitable for long journeys. The internal areas suitable for combat or whatever consist of (fore to aft): A four-person cockpit; a passenger area with seats for 36; a utility section containing an office, a meeting room (or possibly sick bay, it has a bunk bed), a bathroom, and a weird red disk that might be a hatch, or a teleporter, or anything else you fancy; and a large cargo bay full of crates , with a small vehicle for loading and unloading them. It’s not entirely clear how those get in and out, as there are no suitable doors; I presume there’s a ceiling hatch.

The freighter has three deckplans, side by side, which I shall call the bridge, the crew quarters, and the cargo module. Looking at the cover picture and how the stairs are laid out, I’d say the bridge is on top of the crew quarters, and there’s a cargo module behind each one – possibly many cargo modules, much like freight cars in a railway train. The bridge deck has a seven-person control room, a large mess area, an airlock and a stairway leading down; the crew quarters has stairs up to the bridge, one stateroom with a double bed and a workstation, two four-person bunk rooms, a sick bay, a bathroom, and a lounge with a couch, a pool table, and an exercise bike. The cargo module is a boxy affair, full of crates and barrels, with what look like palm-keyed security doors fore and aft. I didn’t like this one at first, but it’s growing on me, because it’s actually many different freighters in one – print out multiple copies and make the ship as big as you like. That would’ve been easier if the decks had been on separate pages, though.

The pirate ship map has two small ships on it, one of which has two decks. The whitish vessel on the left of the poster seems to be some sort of high-performance, short-range craft, possibly a fighter; there are three crew stations and two jump seats. The more sombre craft on the right of the poster has a four-person bridge, bunk room, bathroom and small cargo area on the upper deck, while the lower deck has more cargo space and a sort of ship’s basement with a workbench and a meeting/dining table; the two decks are connected by ladders port and starboard.

The research ship map is another modular one, with two pods and a main ship – it’s not yet clear to me how they connect together, unless maybe the stairs in the pods lead up to the apparent floor hatch in the main section? If so, the ship can probably only have one pod at a time. The pods are a plain cargo pod with a few crates in it, and a spartan passenger pod with a kitchenette, bathroom, workstation and four cramped bedrooms. The ship proper has an expensive-looking bridge with six workstations, two of which are noticeably larger and better-equipped than the others – science stations, perhaps. Aft of that is something that might (or might not) be a sleeping area, with 2-4 things that might (or might not) be beds, depending on how you interpret their shapes. Behind that are four workstation areas, again two have large, expensive-looking displays. The main section of this map is the one I found hardest to interpret, generally what’s what is very clear on all the maps.

REFLECTIONS

The freighter and pirate maps together give you a solid set of multi-purpose, reusable deck plans. The dropship is OK, but less obviously useful in my games – I can only recall needing a dropship deck plan once in nearly 40 years of gamemastering SF RPGs. The research ship has potential, but it’s not immediately obvious how the pieces fit together.

On the figure flats front, these do the job and cover off all the iconic SFC races, with enough variety to differentiate between the PCs and major NPCs, plus a range of mooks and beasts of various sizes for them to face off against.

And on a personal note, I’m pleased I Kickstarted TLP at a high enough level to get all the PDFs. Win.

Shepherd, Episode 3: Egemen Kaptan

Mizah, 037-3015

As I was riding the monorail into town, I felt that I ought to feel guilty, rather than actually feeling guilty. I was having too much fun for that. Weeks of recycled air, imitation sunlight and microwaved frozen meals melted away in the face of sea breezes, real sunlight and fresh food. I expected to be at least a kilogramme heavier by the time I got back. Although I had already pretty much exhausted the possibilities of baklava.

It was 25 klicks from Erdemir Starport to Mizah’s principal city, Zonguldak, through a forest park that teemed with giant beetle-analogues. I knew that spacers, mercenaries, and other travellers congregated in the city’s Charsi District, so I thought I’d fit in best there.

I’m using the Mythic Game Master Emulator here to, well, emulate a GM, since I don’t have one. As this is the first scene of the adventure proper, we need a little setup…

Status at scene start: Fuel 25, Food 25, Cash 92,660, cargo none.

THE LISTS

Although the rules recommend doing the setup first, then the lists, I’ll start with the lists, as they may inform the setup. (Longer term, I intend to use the lists as encounter tables for group play; let’s see how that works for Greg first, though.)

List 1: Characters

The ones already established are:

  • Greg Shepherd
  • Princess Sofia of Ria (deceased)
  • People’s Republic of Ria
  • Insectoid raiders
  • Solomani Confederation
  • Aslanic Hierate

List 2: Chaos Factor

As this is the start of the adventure, the Chaos Factor is 5.

List 2: Plot Threads

  • Avoid capture by the PRR
  • Solve the mystery of Sofia’s pocket slate (Greg doesn’t know it yet, but I have decided that there is important data on that slate, data that people will kill to obtain, and which those people now think Greg has…)

Names

Not strictly a list, but something I will need is names for Turkish-speaking NPCs. As usual, someone else has done the heavy lifting and put it on the internet here. So I’ll grab ten male and ten female names, that should get me through the first session.

  • Males: Ercument Saglik; Ertug Metin; Baser Gul; Tantug Coban; Berker Ozal; Tolunay Gollu; Aytop Sacan; Eren Gokay; Egemen Kaptan; Davut Sabri.
  • Females: Akses Yagci; Erke Seker; Erbil Erdal; Aba Boz; Selin Alabora; Tunaydin Uygun; Pek Koksal; Beren Arikan; Aytug Karadeniz; Ihsan Zeybek.

That makes me think about languages. I’ll go with the Multiple Languages setting rule, giving Greg half his Smarts die type plus one as languages he speaks; Greg has Smarts d6, his name suggests an English-speaking heritage but he was working on a world where the language of rule was Spanish and now he’s on a predominantly Turkish-speaking world, so he speaks English (native), Spanish and Turkish, and has one language currently unallocated – I’ll assign that when it becomes dramatically appropriate. Job done.

THE SETUP

Greg is taking a day off on Mizah, intending to relax a little and then return to trading around the Fastnesses. With nothing specific in mind, I roll a random scene setup; this is treated as a random event, with three d100 rolls. Event Focus: 32 – Introduce a new NPC. Event Meaning: Action 70 – Extravagance. Subject 21 – Messages.

I need more information before I can proceed, so in line with Mythic, I ask a question: Is this person from Mizah? I decide this is "Very Likely" and roll percentile dice, cross-referencing the Chaos Factor (5) and that probability against the dice roll of 63, which falls into the "yes" bracket.

Conveniently, I have 20 names suitable for locals, so I roll 1d20 on that list and get a 9; Egemen Kaptan. For some reason the name itself reminds me of someone I used to know, so I make him a thin, dark fellow with a droopy moustache and curly black hair in his mid-thirties.

Why would a complete stranger want to talk to Greg? Looking at the character sheet, what stands out the most are (a) he has a ship and (b) he’s an ace pilot. So, I’ll ask about a charter first.

  • Does Egemen want to charter Greg’s ship (Likely)? 37% – yes. That’s going to be expensive, so it fulfills the "extravagance" angle.
  • Is that to deliver those messages to a nearby world (Likely)? 4% – extreme yes.

Why hire Greg? Presumably there are other, less expensive options, such as booking passage on a liner. So, the job is either illegal or dangerous.

  • Is this job legal (50/50)? 41% – yes. Then it must be dangerous. The most dangerous system locally is Simba, which stands between Mizah and the insectoid raiders offmap.
  • Does he want to come along (Likely)? 13% – extreme yes.

At this point I need to know how much it will cost to charter the Joker. Going to the next planet and back will take on average two weeks and two jumps, so that’s 26 days of fuel at $600/day and 14 days of food per person – two people so $20/day – plus $5,000 for Greg’s wages for half a month; total, $20,880.

After a morning gawking at the tourist sites, I settled in to a cafe in the Charsi District and used my slate to post my availability for work on the local message boards. I took a small cup of dark, sweet coffee and settled back to watch the world go by; anything that wasn’t ship bulkheads looked good at this point.

A couple of hours, and several coffees and pastries later, a worried-looking guy with curly black hair and a droopy moustache came up to the table. Not in uniform, expensively dressed, and therefore possibly a client. I sat up and straightened my jacket.

"Afferdersiniz," he said. "Bay Shepherd siz misiniz?"

Since he hadn’t approached me in English, I assumed he didn’t speak it, so shifted into Turkish myself and admitted to being Mr Shepherd. Small talk is a big deal on Mizah, so I ordered more coffee, motioned him into a chair, and learned that his name was Egemen Kaptan, that he wasn’t married but did have a girlfriend, and his opinions on the coffee and the weather before we got down to business.

Egemen looks like he’ll be around for a while so he needs a bit more detail; I roll 1d20 for a personality on p. 93 of SWDEE and get 4, Happy. I also assign him the Corporate Exec template from SFC p. 67 in case I need some stats for him in a hurry.

  • Wait a minute, is his girlfriend on Simba (Likely)? 24% – yes. That explains him being so keen to get there in person.
  • Is she also a Corporate Exec (50/50)? 87% – no.
  • A scientist then (Likely)? 11% – extreme yes. Not just any scientist, but the leading authority on something, it doesn’t matter what at this stage. I give her the Scientist template from SFC p. 69 for expediency, plus 1d20 = 16 for a personality on SWDEE p. 93, Creative, and roll 1d10 on my list of female Turkish names to get Tunaydin Uygun.
  • Is she from Mizah (Likely)? 12% – extreme yes. I interpret that as her being a staunch Mizahn nationalist, not directly relevant now but maybe later. It can be her Quirk.

Egemen explained that he had some important messages to deliver to Simba, in person, and that what with insectoids raiding the place and the Confederation military raiding them right back, an ordinary ticket on an ordinary ship was out of the question, so he was looking to charter a ship.

We haggled over the price for a while, but I could see his heart wasn’t in it, so I gave him a small discount and offered to do the job for twenty thousand. I planned on carrying a load of timber in the hold anyway, I’d noticed it had a good markup on the commodity board.

LIST UPDATES

Characters

  • Greg Shepherd
  • Princess Sofia of Ria (deceased)
  • People’s Republic of Ria
  • Insectoid raiders
  • Solomani Confederation
  • Aslanic Hierate
  • Egemen Kaptan, Happy Corporate Exec
  • Tunaydin Uygun, Egemen’s girlfriend, Creative (and patriotic) Scientist

Chaos Factor: Still 5.

Plot Threads

  • Avoid capture by the PRR
  • Solve the mystery of Sofia’s pocket slate – actually for Greg there is a first step, understand that there is a mystery to solve; so he won’t actively try to close this thread yet, an NPC has to mention it to him first.
  • Take Egemen from Mizah to Simba and back.

Status at scene end: Fuel 25, Food 25, Cash 109,650, cargo 5 Timber.

Shepherd, Episode 2: Cargoes

“Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.”
– John Masefield, Cargoes

Almost no in-character voice this week, just an experiment in trading.

Daanarni to Hasara: 007-3015 to 009-3015

It takes Greg a lot of tries and over two hours to plot the course to Hasara, but in the end he succeeds with a raise and arrives (2d6-2 = 3-2 = 1) one day out of Hasara. At that stage there’s no point speeding up, so he docks with Hasara Orbital having consumed a total of 13 fuel – two lots of 6 for the jumps, and half, rounded up to one, for travelling insystem – and one unit of food.

I next draw for an encounter: Spade 4 – since this is not a face card, there is no encounter.

With only 12 fuel left, Greg needs to sell some cargo; a bad astrogation roll could leave him too far from the next planet to land before he runs out of fuel. Fortunately, the SFC trading rules (p. 28) don’t require me to know anything about the world.

I roll 1d20 = 15 for supply and demand; excellent, fuel (not to be confused with starship fuel) is worth $3,000 per unit here. Greg sells two units for $6,000 and uses that to buy 10 days worth of starship fuel ($100 x Size 6 per day), so he now has 22 days fuel and 24 days food.

Now I dice for the prices of all commodities at both Hasara and Tangga, to see what’s best to trade; that turns out to be Fuel, which Greg can buy here at $3,000 per unit and sell on Tangga for $10,000 per unit. It’s best not to buy anything else, and carry the remaining three units of fuel to Tangga.

One day elapses while all this happens.

I sneaked into Hasara Orbital, did some quick trading, and sneaked out again, trying to beat the expanding spherical shell of Wanted posters. I did make time to land briefly on Hasara itself and bury Sofia as best I could, which meant a cairn, in a cave, in the Hasaran Badlands. I made sure I had the co-ordinates, out of habit more than anything; that turned out to be a smart move, as you’ll see later.

Status at 009-3015: Fuel 21, food 23, cash $0, Cargo: 3 Fuel.

(Off-camera, I create a quick spreadsheet to generate supply and demand for me, to save time later.)

Hasara to Tangga: 010-3015 to 011-3015

It seems reasonable to me that the ship’s AI can plot courses; it succeeds on 6+, giving it a 50% chance, while Greg has to ace to get anywhere. After 5 minutes of calculations it rolls 10 (ace) + 6 = 16, a success and two raises, knocking 4 days off the travel time; 3-4 = -1 but I’ll call it 0, as I don’t want to deal with the consequences of ships travelling backwards in time while hyperjumping.

I draw a 6 of hearts; no encounter. Straight into the trading, then, and Greg sells three units of fuel for $30,000. Looking at the starport commodity board, he sees that Technology is worth $1,800 here, but $9,000 on Salia, and decides on a short detour there. He spends $9,000 on five units of Technology, $6,600 on filling up the ship, and jumps to Salia.

Status at 011-3015: Fuel 25, food 14, cash $14,400, Cargo: 5 Tech.

Tangga to Salia: 012-3015 to 017-3015

The AI is unable to repeat its previous stunning performance, and after half an hour of abortive calculations the Joker winks out of existence in Tangga orbit and shudders into being four days out of Salia. No point rushing, so Greg drifts in. I draw a 5 of clubs, so there is no encounter.

At Salia, Greg unloads his Tech for $45,000 and determines that the best run from here is taking food from Salia (where it costs $1,000 per unit) to Kov (where it is worth $3,000 per unit). He buys five units ($5,000), tops up the fuel tank ($6,000) and pantry ($170) and jumps.

Status at 011-3015: Fuel 25, food 25, cash $28,130, Cargo: 5 Food.

Salia to Kov: 018-3015 to 028-3015

The troublesome AI astrogation routine again takes several tries to calculate a jump, and deposits the Joker 9 days out of Kov. A 5 of diamonds means no encounter.

Greg sells the Food for $15,000, tops up again ($9,000 fuel, $100 food), and discovers that his best trade now is carrying fuel back to Tangga. He buys 5 units for $7,500, and jumps, intending to burn extra fuel to ensure he arrives before month end.

Status at 028-3015: Fuel 25, food 25, cash $26,530, Cargo: 5 Fuel.

Kov to Tangga: 029-3015 to 030-3015

The AI drops Greg 7 days from Tangga, and he burns 14 fuel to arrive there the day after, meaning he arrives with only 5 left; this is because it’s going to be easier to keep track of things if I change prices every 30 days instead of at the end of calendar months. No encounter owing to drawing a 9 of diamonds.

Greg sells his cargo for $50,000, buys 20 fuel ($10,800) and 2 food ($20) and has $65,710 on hand. Then the prices change, and I “reroll” all the ones in the Fastnesses using my spreadsheet. The best trade available is buying Fuel at $2,000 on Tangga and selling it for $6,000 on Mizah, so Greg loads up with five units of Fuel and jumps.

Status at 030-3015: Fuel 25, food 25, cash $55,710, Cargo: 5 Fuel.

Tangga to Mizah: 031-3015 to 036-3015

Greg arrives 4 days out of Mizah; local space is patrolled so there is no draw for an encounter. He lands at Erdemir Starport and sells off his cargo for $30,000, tops up with food ($50) and fuel ($3,000) and has $82,660 in hand. He decides he deserves a day off, and heads into the nearest city for some real food – and, although he doesn’t know it yet, an adventure.

Status at 036-3015: Fuel 25, food 25, cash $82,660, Cargo: None.

REFLECTIONS

Having a choice of half-a-dozen worlds with known commodity prices seems to work well. Greg is making a reasonable profit on these runs; he could even afford to pay himself wages. However, repairs at a starport cost 10% of ship price per Wound, or roughly one and a half million Credits a pop, so let’s not go crazy just yet.

Shepherd, Episode 1: Sofia

“In the far future, the [human group] fights a pitched battle against the mighty [alien name] Empire, but deep in the mysterious [region of space], among the ruins of the past, a darker threat looms.” – TV Tropes, Standard Sci-Fi Setting

There’s your Dark Nebula, right there; and pretty much every other space opera ever written, too.

As usual, besides being fun to play, I intend this campaign to flesh out the setting and improve my understanding of the game, in the same way that the solo campaign for a First Person Shooter exists to teach you the game so that you can then play online with others.

The Sci-Fi Companion is a toolkit with which to build settings; The Last Parsec is merely one example of what you can do with it, and from decades of experience I know that I will have more fun, and do better, if I focus on scenarios of crime and intrigue rather than the exploration adventures TLP is aimed at. As Shepherd meanders across the Dark Nebula map, his adventures will cause it to solidify into something I can play with a group, and also show me what the setting rules should be. Let’s be about it, shall we?

Princess Sofia was fourteen years old, laserburned, and scared as hell when she came running into the hangar.

“They shot mama,” she said. “And papa. And… me.” Here she pulled one hand away from her side; you could see where the energy transfer had flash-heated the water in her flesh to steam. Not pretty.

Well, I had planned on leaving alone, but I told myself there were plenty of stores, so I grabbed her and hustled her into the ship. The rebels came storming up the stairs as the airlock door was closing, so I dropped her into a chair, told her to buckle up and ran for the cockpit. I managed to get the Joker out through the hangar doors before the rebels could close them, run up to orbit and jump outsystem before they could get the antiship batteries working.

When we were safe in hyperspace, I went back to check on her. She had died on the way up; I’ve seen that before, people can keep going with the most horrific damage as long as they know they will die if they stop. Then, once they reach help, they let go… and sometimes you can’t save them.

I tried, but this was one of those times; she was gone. So eventually I bagged her up and put her in the airlock, where I could keep her chilled. I searched her, which I am not proud of, but there was only a pocket slate and some costume jewellery, so I didn’t take anything.

It took a long time to scrub the blood off the seat. I’m not sure I’ll ever scrub it from my mind.

So, at the start of our story, Greg has a fully-loaded Small Starship with 25 days’ worth of fuel and energy, and a cargo hold containing five units of fuel, which he persuaded the starport robots to load up before leaving. That’s his seed money, let’s see how far he can get with it.

His route will be Ria-Daanarni-Hasara-Tangga-Mizah, and I’ll start the campaign proper there. Fuel is clearly going to be a problem, so Greg immediately halves consumption by powering down non-essential systems (SFC p. 40).

Setting rules:

  • Hyperspace jumps are only possible along charted routes (solid green lines), and each primary or secondary world knows the commodity prices at all other worlds within one jump. There is no faster-than-light radio; communications travel at the speed of a ship.
  • Draw a card for encounters each time the PCs arrive in a star system, unless it is in the Mizah system, the Confederation, or the Hierate, all of which count as “patrolled”.
  • Unless otherwise specified, every world has a stock Space Station (SFC p. 50) in orbit around it. (This means I don’t have to land, and therefore don’t have to flesh out the planet, unless I want to; space stations are conveniently all the same in this setting.)
  • Trading takes one day; a ship can refuel and replenish stores during the same day.

I’ll also adopt the Classic Traveller practice of just numbering days, because that will be easier for me. As usual, I set the game exactly 1,000 years in the future.

Ria to Daanarni: 001-3015 to 006-3015.

First, the jump. Greg makes a Knowledge (Astrogation) roll at -2 (same galaxy) taking 1d6 = 1 minute, and scores 1 on his d4 skill die, but 4 on the wild die; he can’t try again for 2d6 = 12 minutes. Then he rolls a 3 on the skill die and a 6 on the wild die, which is an ace, so he rolls the wild die again and gets a 4, for a total of 10; success with a raise after a further 1d6 = 2 minutes. Greg arrives in the Daanarni system 2d6-2 = 5 days out; the -2 is for the raise on the Astrogation roll. This consumes 6 days of fuel.

Second, encounter (SWDEE p. 112); I draw a Jack of Clubs, an obstacle. Unsure what this might be, I decide to roll on the Mythic GME event table, and get focus 59 (PC Negative), action 62 (Inspect), subject 21 (Messages). That doesn’t look like an immediate danger, so I decide to use it as a delayed obstacle explaining his Wanted Hindrance.

It wasn’t until I got to Daanarni that I remembered to check the comm logs, which shows you the mental state I was in at that point. I discovered I was now wanted by the rebel government – which is how I thought of them, whatever name they eventually decided to use – on a number of charges:

  • Grand Theft Starship – okay, I did that one, although in my defence it wasn’t theirs to begin with, and by now I was probably the ranking officer in loyalist Rian service so could order myself to take it wherever I was going.
  • Aiding and Abetting a Known Fugitive – yeah, I did that.
  • Being a Lickspittle Ci-Devant Lackey of the Oppressors – well, I suppose, if you insist on putting it harshly.
  • Treason – I kinda did that. I think. It depends on whether any of my superiors were still alive at that point or not.
  • Kidnapping a Minor – no, that’s unfair. And unnecessary given they’ve already got me bang to rights on the aiding and abetting charge.

If and when anyone recognised the new government, that was going to cause trouble.

There’s nowhere to land, and no particular reason to get any closer in, so Greg jumps again almost immediately.

Status at 006-3015: Fuel 19, food 25, cash $0, 5 Fuel.

Dark Nebula: Shepherd, Episode 0

“Can you see the joker flying over,
As she’s standing in the field of clover?
Watching out, everyday,
I wonder what would happen if he took her away?”
– Wolfmother, Joker and the Thief

I originally intended to use Arion for this campaign, but… “When it’s over, let it go”. Music is my usual inspiration for games, and in this case it was Wolfmother’s Joker and the Thief.

GREG SHEPHERD

There are the big shipping corporations, the ones that do all the safe, legal, profitable runs; and then there are guys like me, who do the rest of it. I wasn’t always one of those guys, but it’s a living.

Another incarnation of my favourite SF PC, the lone wolf scoutship operator, and again based on the Pilot archetype in Savage Worlds Deluxe. Gregory means “watchful”, which seems appropriate give his Edges. The archetype has one spare skill point, and Knowledge (Astrogation) is essential under the Science Fiction Companion, so that’s where it goes.

  • Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigour d6.
  • Skills: Fighting d4, Knowledge (Astrogation) d4, Notice d8+2, Piloting d10+2, Repair d6, Shooting d6.
  • Charisma: 0, Pace: 6, Parry: 4, Toughness: 7 (2).
  • Edges: Ace, Alertness.
  • Hindrances: Heroic; Loyal: Friends, Wanted.
  • Gear: $25, Kevlar vest (+2/+4), Glock (2d6), knife (d6+d4).
  • XP: 0. Advances: None.

RMS JOSEPH KERR – THE JOKER

I realised that the government on Ria was going to fall a few days before it happened. And it occurred to me that after the government fell, it would have no further use for a courier ship, and the rebels would throw me off the Residency roof for being a lapdog of the old regime, or being able to read, or some other heinous sin I wasn’t aware I’d committed. So I took the Joker and left, more or less quietly, while the Residency was still burning. I don’t know if that makes me a thief, a traitor, or a pirate, but I don’t plan on going back to find out.

I wanted to have a viable SFC starship that could be operated by one character, and since I’m not yet familiar enough with the rules to be confident of designing a viable ship, I did my best to replicate the Light Freighter (p. 49) in a Small hull – I figure anything Wiggy describes as “a perfect ship for a starting group of player characters” won’t let me down. I came up with this:

  • Small Starship: Size 6, Acc/TS 50/700, Climb 3, Toughness 20 (5), Crew 1, Cost $14.95M, Remaining Mods 5.
  • Notes: AI, AMCM, Atmospheric, Crew Space, Deflector Screens, FTL Drive, Sensor Suite (Planetary), Shields.
  • Weapons: Dual-linked Light Lasers.
  • Repair Swarm: Swarm of fist-sized metal spiders used by the ship’s AI for maintenance. Use Swarm statblock in combat. (This bit I just made up, because I had fun with it in the Arioniad; it seems to me the AI should have effectors, and the PCs shouldn’t spend 18 hours a day fixing busted plumbing.)

The only thing I had to give way on was the lasers, downgrading them to light ones, but that was because I wanted to keep some cargo capacity; they make up for it by being able to use Reaction Fire, which means they can shoot in space combat even if the scoutship doesn’t have Advantage. If I were specifically trying to emulate the Traveller Type S, I’d throw in a hover passenger car from the Vehicles chapter, but in my campaigns pretty much the first thing every player did was sell the air/raft illegally and use it to fund speculative trading, so let’s just take that as read, shall we?

There are several Joseph Kerrs that a government might name a ship after, including a couple of politicians and one of The Joker’s alleged aliases. RMS stands for “Royal Mail Ship” and is archaic British usage.

IN MEDIA RES

Now, every so often some girl will still turn up and claim she is the missing Princess Sofia of Ria. I can tell you for a fact that she is not. I can tell you this for a fact because I personally buried the real one on Hasara.

It happened like this…

REFLECTIONS

So far, so good…

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