Thursday, October 29, 2015

"Commotion at the Comm Tower" - Star Wars: Riptide, Episode 3 Chapter 3


The crew save Kara Pacha from some storm troopers then break into an imperial holo-net relay tower in order to gain intel on the transport and incarceration of Doctor Torpas.



Episode 3 Chapter 3 
COMMOTION AT THE COMM TOWER

Mon calamari scientist Kara Pacha
was on the run from stormtroopers
when she was saved by the 
crew of the Riptide

The Crew of the Riptide
Evo Shandor - nautolan transport captain
Balin Lee - young human Jedi-in-training
Emily Wonder - human mercenary
Eggs Ledscramb - quarren bounty hunter
There She Is!
The storm troopers slowly advanced down the alley, their blasters ready. One held back and stood guard at the entrance to the alley while the other three checked every door.

The storm troopers shoved Balin, Evo, and Emily out of their way, pushing them, grabbing them by the shoulder, and manhandling them. The crew made small talk and tried to misdirect the storm troopers but to no avail.
Eggs helped Kara onto the roof of the repulsorlift transport and out of view of the three searching storm troopers. Unfortunately, the one standing at the entrance to the alley saw her and shouted out, "There she is! On top of the transport!"

The storm trooper standing next to Eggs started climbing up the rear of the transport. The one at the entrance to the alley aimed his blaster.
Balin uses the Force
Balin made a swift motion with his hand and the lid of a nearby waste receptacle flew off and hit the storm trooper as he took aim. The blow caught him off guard and sent him off balance.

Balin and Evo grabbed hold of running boards on the left side of the transport while Emily grabbed the right side. Eggs grabbed the rear of the vehicle, but so did the storm trooper standing next to him. Evo ordered the vehicle to return to the spaceport at top speed. The auto-pilot sped out of the alley and maneuverd a few meters over the heads of the pedestrians on the street. Evo, Balin, Emily, and Eggs were dangling onto the side while Kara clung to the roof of the transport.

Eggs began wrestling with the storm trooper while the transport reached top speed. The pair punched at each other a few times before Eggs was able to dislodge the stormtrooper and send him falling to the street below.

Once free, Eggs helped Kara into the back of the transport. They returned to the spaceport but then immediately took a repulsor-cab to a hostel to talk with Kara in private.

Kara's Story
"My Kara Pacha. I was a lab assistant to Doctor Ardap Topas, a once-brilliant microbiologist and epidemiologist. He was drafted into the imperial military and assigned to the bio-weapons program against his will. To ensure his compliance, Admiral Dirg Kargin had the doctor's family taken prisoner, including his wife and his young daughter. Doctor Topas reluctantly complied in order to protect his own family.
Admiral Dirg Kargin
"At Admiral Kargin's direction, Doctor Topas was forced to create the disease that would afflict the natives of the planet Nesia*. The empire planned to force the Nesians to submit to subjugation in exchange for treatment for their disease. This strategy worked so Admiral Kargin ordered new diseases to be created for other troublesome species.

*Nesia is the Imperial name for Auilai.

"Everything changed a few weeks ago. Doctor Topas learned that his daughter had been taken by an imperial inquisitor. That could mean only one thing - mental conditioning and torture! Doctor Topas confided in me that he was no longer going to design bio-weapons for Admiral Kargin. He had me destroy all of his current work. Then we began creating cures for the diseases he created. Not just treatments, but innoculations that would make one immune to future bio-weapons.

"Doctor Topas was paranoid that we would be found out, so he took our work home with him every night. He told me he kept the results hidden in case we were ever discovered. He also told me that enough of the cure was created that we could undo the damage done to the Nesians, if only we had a way to get it to the planet and distribute it. He took the risky step of researching ways to transport the cure.

"His inquiries must have backfired for we were found out!  I came to work today to find the laboratory filled with storm troopers. I saw Doctor Topas being led away under arrest. I barely managed to escape, myself! Thank you for helping me to elude those storm troopers.

"Doctor Topas' arrest was all over the information broadcast. They bragged about discovering his, our, treason. They announced that Doctor Topas had confessed to his crimes and, in recognition for his confession, the death sentence was to be commuted and he would serve a life sentence in the imperial prison on the planet Vell. They put out a warrant for my arrest with a bounty of 10,000 credits. The report also offered me clemency if I turned myself in. I don't believe that for a minute!

"I need help! I want to get the cure to Nesia, but only Doctor Topas knows where it is! I need help rescuing Doctor Topas from prison. Then I need to get the cure and transport it to Nesia. I could use your help, if for nothing else than to find someone else that could help me!"

The crew conferred and Evo replied, "We've decided. We will help you."

The Situation
Here's what the crew knew:
  1. Doctor Topas was arrested and being held somewhere on Chador, probably in the sector administration complex in Markaze. 
  2. At some point he would be transported to the imperial prison world Vell.
Here were their options:
  1. They could try to rescue him from the sector administration complex.
  2. They could try to rescue him during his transport to Vell.
  3. They could try to rescue him from Vell.
Here's what they didn't know:
  1. The location of Vell.
  2. When the doctor would be transported, if he hadn't been transported already.
Based on the above, they decided they needed more information and that much of that information would be restricted. So the first order of business was to gain access to restricted imperial military communications. They discussed a few options but the likeliest target soon became apparent: the communications relay tower outside of town.

Emily then asked, "So what do we do with Kara in the meantime?"

Eggs suggested, "We could leave her on the ship."

Evo replied, "Ehhhhhhhh....."

"What?"

"Let's get her a room in a hostel first. I'd rather her not be on our ship in case its searched or something."

With that, they rented a landspeeder and drove out to the tower.

The Tower

They holo-net relay tower stood just over a kilometer tall and was located about twenty kilometers south of the city. The crew drove up, parked, and walked right up to the front door. There was no external security but they had to buzz for entry.
Evo fancies himself a talker

The technician on duty responded lazily, "Yes? What is it?"

Evo answered, "We're the maintenance crew. We were sent to perform routine maintenance."

"The maintenance isn't scheduled for another ten hours."

"We thought we'd get it done early. Let us in."

"Sigh. Allright. I'll be right down."

A few minutes later, the bored technician opened the outer door. He was confronted by several blasters, surrendered, and was tied up. The other technician on duty was likewise soon restrained.

The crew got Parts plugged into the imperial communication network and Eggs began reviewing the traffic. They soon got confirmation of Doctor Topas' arrest and confession from the public information network. A search of the restricted traffic uncovered the truth that Doctor Topas was to be shipped to Vell for interrogation to learn the location of the hidden cure. Once the cure was recovered, he would be executed via disintegration.

Eggs also learned that Doctor Topas was to be loaded onto the Gozanti-class transport INS-4963, departing for Vell at noon local time tomorrow. Vell was the outermost planet in the Chador star system, a desolate rocky world with a thin atmosphere. The prison there was built underground in an abandoned mine.

The crew decided that their best bet was to intercept the transport en route, board it, and abscond with Doctor Topas.

But first they'd need a communications jammer.

To Be Continued...

GM Notes - Compare my invasion of the communicaitons tower with the similar invasion in Rebels. in Rebels, the communications tower was protected by four storm troopers and two turbolaser batteries. I left mine undefended for a couple of reasons:
  1. They're on Chador, capital of the sector. There has been no rebel activity here and the idea that there would be is absurd!
  2. From a storytelling point of view, I needed to provide the players with information and intelligence. I left the "how" to their ingenuity, and they had many options. They thought of and chose the communications tower so I went with it. I made the information relatively easy to obtain because it was necessary to lead them to the next episode.  

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"Mischief in Markaze" - Star Wars: Riptide, Episode 3 Chapter 2


The crew travels to Chador, capital of the sector, to drop off a delivery of spice to a seedy distributor. There they encounter a female mon calamari running from some Storm Troopers!


Episode 3 Chapter 2 
MISCHIEF IN MARKAZE

After spending 40 hours in superluminal transit, 
the Riptide has emerged from hyperspace near Chador, 
Imperial sector capital and home to a major imperial naval base. 
The space around Chador is filled with space traffic 
including a military space fortress, 
a space-dock ship repair facility, 
half-a-dozen star destroyers, 
and scores of smaller ships. 

The Crew of the Riptide
Evo Shandor - nautolan transport captain
Balin Lee - young human Jedi-in-training
Emily Wonder - human mercenary
Eggs Ledscramb - quarren bounty hunter
Chador

Type: Terrestrial
Temperature: Temperate
Atmosphere: Type 1 (breathable)
Hydrosphere: Moderate
Gravity: Standard
Terrain: Special (Crystal Mountains and Forests)
Length of Day: 27 hours
Length of Year: 4500 days
Sapient Species: Human
Starport: Markaze
Population: 1 billion
Planet Function: Administrative/Government, Military, Mining, Service
Government: Ruled by aristocratic oligarchs who answer to Imperial governor
Tech Level: Space
Maor Exports: Tenaga Crystal, Metals
Major Imports: Droids, Technology
The planet appeared to have pink land with seas of purple and electric blue. Mountain ranges of giant crystals glowed with neon phosphorescence. Yellow and white clouds drifted through the atmosphere. Several cities dotted the heavily populated surface, the largest of which was the city called Markaze which housed the Imperial Sector Administration Complex. 
Markaze
The approach to Markaze was well travelled by Imperial shuttles coming to and from the Star Destroyers.The planet was the home port for hundreds of imperial starships coming home from patrol or preparing to leave. Thousands of imperial military personell were granted shore leave each day on the planet below and the world's economy was based around providing hospitality to off-duty military. The approach was littered with holographic advertisements for hotels, tours, brothels, bars, and various entertainments.
Approach to Markaze

Markaze was a bustling city of over ten million residents. The city was confined within a giant hexagonal wall. Within the wall the city was further divided into districts, each protected by a wall and gates that limited traffic. Each district was elevated on artificial plateaus, giving them the appearance of being stacked on top of each other. The imperial enclave loomed over the rest of the city like a walled castle. The sector administration tower resembled a massive hegaonal spike reaching into the purple sky. The spaceport looked like a massive hexagonal flat-topped table that hung over the center of the city like a giant metal tree or mushroom.

The city's free district could be identified by the swirling mass of repulsor-pod traffic and holograms. The free district was the city's red light district, a zone that catered to every sin and vice, where military personnel on leave could blow off some steam without worrying about their superiors.

The Riptide landed at the spaceport and easily passed its customs inspection. They made contact with their delivery, an aqualish importer named Tarak Dur. Tarak Dur said that he was unable to meet them in person and apologized because he had no one to pick up the fish from the spaceport. He told them that he has arranged a robotic repulsorlift transport vehicle to meet them at the port. They will load the frozen fish onto the vehicle and make delivery to a business in the free district known as the Tentacle Bar. The proprietor would authorize the receipt of delivery.

The transport arrived, they loaded the fish, and went to the Tentacle Bar.

The Free District was a bustling with traffic. The streets were filled with a seething mass of travellers, many of them military. Speeders and automated repulsor-cabs whizzed by overhead. Loudspeakers spoke over each other with sales pitches and announcements. Holograms danced and gyrated. The streets were littered with trash, sales-bills, and discarded food and packaging.

They backed into a dingy alley and began unloading the fish containing the illegal Ryll spice into the back door of the Tentacle Bar under the bored eyes of the bloated pale mon calamari owner. Balin stood lookout, keeping his eyes on the street.

Kara Pacha
Just as they were finishing, there was a scream followed by blaster fire in the street. A mon calamari female ran down the street, shoving people out of her way. She looked desperate and afraid for her life. She bolted down the alley towards Balin shouting, "Help me! Please help me!"

She was being pursued by four imperial stormtroopers. Balin hustled her to the back of the transport and informed the others to hide her. Eggs booster her into the back of the empty transport. Balin rushed up to meet the stormtroopers. With a wave of Balin's hand, one of the stormtroopers believed he saw the fugitive across the street rushing the other way, he called to the others.

"I just saw her! This way!"

The stormtroopers turned and followed.

The crew gathered around the mon calamari. She was panting and her giant goggle-like eyes were on the verge of tears. She thanked them for her help and introduced herself as Kara Pacha, a research assistant working in the imperial bio-weapons laboratory. There she worked for Doctor Ardap Topas. Doctor Topas was forced to create a disease that was used to enslave the natives of the planet Nesia*. But what the Empire didn't know was that he also secretly created a cure for the disease, an innoculation that would protect the natives of Nesia from future attacks! She said the storm troopers were chasing her because the doctor's secret plans were discovered. He was arrested but she managed to get away!

*Nesia is the Imperial colonial name for the planet Auilai.

"Please! You must help me! I have to find a way to rescue him! Only he can free the people of Nesia! Only he is able to cure him!"

At that moment, the storm troopers returned to the alley, this time with friends. They called out, "Hey! We're looking for a mon calamari female! Have you seen her?"

Evo called back, "A what? Nope!"

The storm troopers conferred with each other, "I'm sure she came down this way." The leader replied, "Okay, we'll search the alley to be sure."

The storm troopers slowly advanced down the alley, their blasters ready.

To Be Continued...

Sunday, October 25, 2015

"Trouble on Trondar" - Star Wars: Riptide, Episode 3 Chapter 1


The crew battles their way off of the barbarous planet of Trondar!


Episode 3, Chapter 1
TROUBLE ON TRONDAR

Having made a deal with Loki, 
leader of the barbarous Trond on the ice age planet Trondar, 
the Riptide crew agree 
to transport his soldiers in an 
assault against the Dero, the enemy of the Trond.

The Crew of the Riptide
Evo Shandor - nautolan transport captain
Balin Lee - young human Jedi-in-training
Emily Wonder - human mercenary
Eggs Ledscramb - quarren bounty hunter
Ensign Frick
A Hasty Exit
Night had fallen and the crew were assigned to a stout log house to await the pre-dawn assault. Two Trond guard were placed outside the entrance to ensure their cooperation. The log house consisted of a single room lined with furs around a central fire pit and a hole in the roof.

Evo addressed the rest of the crew over the firepit in the center of the log house, "We're leaving immediately. I don't like this assault. This is the kind of thing the Empire does and we should have no part of it. We're returning to the ship immediately and leaving."
Evo Shandor
With that, the crew gathered up their equipment. Emily, admiring the furs adorning the room, took the best one and draped it over herself, keeping it as a souvenier.

The teenaged Jedi padawan Balin Lee exited the log house and addressed the two guards. With a wave of his hand he asked, "Aren't you supposed to escort us to our ship?" The guards looked at each other and nodded, "Right. Come with us." The guards led the crew back to the entrance of the Imperial compound.

Handelssted
The spaceport of Handelssted was a trading post built to conduct trade with the rest of the galaxy. It is the only spaceport on Trondar and consists of little more than an elevated landing pad, a power generator and fuel cell depot in a pre-fab dome, a potato-shaped elliptical dome containing the customs office, and homes for the skeleton crew of Imperial Customs officials under the leadership of the corrupt Ensign Frick. The spaceport and associated imperial enclave are protected by a 5-meter security wall with two gates. The gates and landing platform are each guarded by two K4 security droids. The compound interior is patrolled by a single Stiletto security droid.

A village was built around the spaceport to accomodate local Trond and Dero converging from all over the planet to sell furs, meat, and ore to visiting traders in exchange for technology, supplies, and galactic delicacies such as fish.

The two guards left to return to their post as the crew approached the gates to the imperial compound. They approached the K4 guard droids on duty and announced their intention to return to their ship. The droids replied that the spaceport was closed until dawn and that no entrance was allowed into the compound until then, then politely asked the crew to return at dawn.

After some futile argument, Emily finally opened fire, blasting the two security droids to smithereens. Evo recovered the gate key from one of the droids and gained entry into the compound.

GM Note - The K4 security droid has 8D Dodge?? REALLY??? That seems rediculous! At first I thought it was a typo but it was repeated in the core rulebook and the droids sourcebook. Plus the GX security droid also had 8D dodge, which seemed to verify the high value. In any case, I ignored the 8D dodge because they were just security droids. 

Evo strode confidently towards the lift in the main trunk pylon supporting the elevated landing platform while Emily, Balin, and Balin's astromech droid "Parts", moved stealthily along the dome-like buildings to the left.

Their efforts to be stealthy were in vain as everyone was soon bathed in the harsh light of spotlights from a Stiletto security droid patrolling the interior. The droid ordered them to drop their weapons and surrender. They responded by blasting the droid which exploded in a massive fireball!

The explosion lit up the night and was loud enough to wake everyone in the compound. The crew dashed across the open courtyard to the lift in the central pylon. Parts, true to its nickname, stopped to recover a few parts of the disintegrated security droid. Two additional K4 security droids entered the secondary gate to investigate the explosion and the outraged Ensign Frick poked came running out the door of the potato-shaped customs building.

Balin closed his eyes to concentrate on channeling the Force through his companions, enhancing their skills and coordinating their actions, as Emily and Evo exchanged fire with the security droids while they shouted to Parts to hurry up! Parts finally abandoned the debris and rejoined the rest of the crew on the lift. The lift doors closed and the crew caught their breath as they rose to the landing platform.

The lift doors opened to reveal two additional K4 security droids waiting for them. There was an exchange of blaster fire at point-blank range leaving Evo wounded and Emily on the floor with severe injury.

GM Note- These K4s used their full 8D dodge and were therefore really tough to hit. 
Eggs Ledscramb
All of a sudden, there was a blast of hot wind and the sound of point-blank blaster fire as Eggs Ledscramb descended on a pillar of rocket-pack flame to blast the two security droids to bits. The quarren bounty hunter had been asleep on the ship when the sound of the exploding Stiletto woke him up. Eggs jammed a piece of the security droids in the lift door, preventing its use. He then helped Balin carry Evo and Emily back to the Riptide.

GM Note- Eggs scored a really good "Sneak" check to land behind the droids, so I let him capture them by surprise. I ruled that he didn't even have to roll to hit at that range, just roll damage. 

They laid the unconscious Emily in an acceleration chair while the wounded Evo grimmaced as he powered up the engines. He skipped the pre-flight checks and safety protocols and launched his spaceship into the sky. The Riptide was hurled out of the atmosphere and Evo set the hyperspace coordinates to Chador, the sector capital.

To Be Continued..

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Return to the Caves of Chaos, Year 3

Kle'Nx Copperbottom
No Star Wars this week. Instead, I ran a special one-shot D&D adventure for my friends during a retreat in a beautiful wilderness lodge called the Dalles Ranch. The Dalles Ranch is a fantastic place for weddings, events, retreats, or just hanging out with 23 of your friends over a very long weekend.

Anyway, I continued a sort of accidental tradition. Three years ago, I ran Keep on the Borderlands using the D&D Next playtest rules. Last year, they returned to the Keep on the Borderlands using the recently released 5th edition D&D rules. In an amusing twist, they explored the exact same cave (D and E) of the Caves of Chaos.

This year, I brought Keep on the Borderlands with me along with the good old Basic D&D rules (specifically the rulebook released with the 1991 boxed set).

So we got together after dinner and made some characters!

The Party
(The group decided to name their characters after things visible around us in the room)
  • Kle'Nx Copperbottom - Hafling, Lawful (STR 11, INT 8, WIS 11, DEX 12, CON 11, CHA 16,  HP 1, Leather Armor AC 7, Short Bow, short sword, large sack, tinder box, lantern, flask of oil, water skin, rope, 12 iron spikes, 2 quivers of arrows), played by Erica
  • Melanie Muir - Cleric, Lawful (STR 13, INT 8, WIS 17, DEX 6, CON 10, CHA 14, HP 7, plate mail and shield AC 3, mace, holy symbol, holy water), played by Beth
  • Cork Winghorn - Fighter, Lawful (STR 17, INT 10, WIS 10, DEX 14, CON 14, CHA 7, HP 5, plate mail and shield AC 2, sword, 6 torches, 2 waterskins, backpack, lantern/oil/tinder), played by Sandra
  • Whent  - Cleric, Neutral (STR 7, INT 7, WIS 16, DEX 9, CON 8, CHA 7, HP 4, plate mail and shield AC 2, mace, sling, holy symbol, holy water), played by Chris
  • Ser Fresca - Fighter, Lawful (STR 12, INT 10, WIS 11, DEX 7, CON 12, CHA 14, HP 8, plate mail and shield AC 3, sword, crossbow, quiver of arrows), played by Nate
  • Camille Rockbutt - Dwarf, Chaotic (STR 13, INT 12, WIS 15, DEX 11, CON 11, CHA 10, HP 4, plate mail and shield AC 3, battleaxe), played by Anne-Marie
  • D'oour Chan'd'Lahr - Elf, Chaotic (STR 12, INT 9, WIS 11, DEX 10,CON 13, CHA 10, HP 5, chainmail AC 5, Sword, Short Bow, Quiver with 40 arrows, rope, 6 torches, dagger, backpack, waterskin, Magic Missile spell), played by Nievita
It should also be noted that this is the first time Erica had ever played any kind of RPG. This was her initiation.
Melanie Muir
The Keep on the Borderlands
The party meets at the Keep on the Borderlands, the last outpost of the realm of men and Law. To the east lay the vast untamed stretches of wilderness, home to the various forces of Chaos. They have come to seek their fortune and to rid the eastern trade road of troublesome humanoid bandits and vile heathen cults. In the tavern they hear stories and rumors of what await them beyond the walls of the keep. 

DM Note: I had each player roll for a single rumor on the rumor table.

They are each summoned by the local priest of Law. The priest blessed them saying, "It's dangerous to go alone. You better take one of these."and gave them each a potion to drink in the event of catastrophe. 

DM Note: Since clerics have no healing at first level, I gave each of them a healing potion that cures 1d6 HP and can be administered to a deceased character so long as it is imbibed no later than 1 round after falling).

They bought some gear and headed east for adventure, riches, and glory! 

The notorious Caves of Chaos lay about a mile east of the keep, just to the north of the old eastern trade road. The rocky cleft in the hill was visible from the road. The party advanced cautiously, encountering no resistance. The canyon loomed before them. Caves dotted its slopes. The closest cave to the left lay buried under a rock-slide. 

DM Note: That's the goblin cave. They cleared that last year, and the year before. We weren't going back into that cave, thankyouverymuch.

Kle'Nx scouted ahead, checking each clump of trees for hidden caves. 

DM Note: I drew a VERY quick sketch of the canyon, indicating visible caves, clumps of trees, etc. Of course it looked like a penis covered in venereal scabs and surrounded by flies. Cue snickering as a group of seven 30+ year old adults regressed to middle school. :-) 

Kle'Nx Copperbottom
The halfling scout did find a cave hidden by trees in the far end of the canyon. The signalled for the rest of the party to approach.

The mouth of the cave was covered in bones and a nasty smell emanated from the cavern. They lit lanterns and entered.

Cave G - The Shunned Cavern
The cave passage was covered in a carpet of bones, leaves, trash, and furs. They travelled left, ignoring passages that branched to the right, until they came into a chamber containing a sleeping beast and the half-eaten remains of its most recent victim - a gnoll. The creature appeared to be some kind of bear with the head and beak of a massive owl. They had entered the cave of a dreaded owlbear! Their entry roused the creature. It stood up and bellowed a threatening "HOOOT!". It was digesting its food, was not hungry, was in no mood for a fight, and simply wished for them to leave.

The party drew weapons and attacked.  Cork, Ser Fresca, Melanie, and Camille charged forward, stabbing and chopping the owlbear. D'Oor and Kle'Nx stayed back and peppered the beast with arrows. Whent remained behind and prepared to support in any way he could. 

The owlbear attacked Cork. The mighty fighter fell before the slashing claws of the great beast! Luckily Melanie was nearby to administer a healing potion. Camille fell next before the owlbear was finally defeated by Melanie and Whent and missile fire. Camille was likewise quickly revived via healing potion.

Ser Fresca failed to land a blow against the beast, however, and was beginning to doubt his combat abilities.
Cork Winghorn
Searching the rubble revealed a few loose coins and a bone tube containing a scroll. Written on the scroll was the spell known as protection from undead

As the party prepared to leave the chamber, they found their way blocked by a mass of grey ooze slithering its way down the passage. They allowed the grey ooze to enter the chamber but kept their distance, circling around the chamber wall until they reached the passage, at which point they escaped safely.

The party explored the side passages, finding them nothing but dead ends, before finding a large chamber with a shallow pool. A few blind fish swam in the clear water. Something shiny gleamed in the middle of the wide pool. Ser Fresca stepped forward and prodded the water with his mace. Suddenly, two amorphous masses moved through the water towards the party. 

The masses emerged from the water, revealing two more grey oozes like the one encountered previous. One attacked Ser Fresca, its acidic ooze destroying his armor and burning his skin! His counter-attacks kept missing and Ser Fresca was beginning to wonder aloud if his sword was, in fact, a figment of his imagination!

The other ooze attacked the rest of the party but missed. The party fought back, destroying both oozes. Ser Fresca, at the insistence of his companions, jumped into the water and washed off the acid.
Ser Fresca
He emerged from the pool naked but carrying a jewel-encrusted goblet. Camille appraised the goblet at over 1000 gold pieces. "Huzzah!" someone said, "We're thousand-aires!"

The party decided to return to the keep and rest and sell their newly aquired treasure. 

DM Note- At this point, I gave them a night's rest, 1300 gold from the goblet, and let them advanced to level 2. Yeah, they only had 150-something experience points, but there was no way they'd last without some healing magic! 

Level Up!



  • Kle'Nx Copperbottom - (7 HP!)
  • Melanie Muir - (11 HP)
  • Cork Winghorn - (8 HP)
  • Whent  - (8 HP)
  • Ser Fresca - (13 HP)
  • Camille Rockbutt - (10 HP)
  • D'Or Chandelier (9 HP, Learned Sleep spell)

  • Cave F - Hobgoblin Lair
    The party sold the goblet and purchased new equipment. Camille bought a polearm and Ser Fresca got some new armor. Melanie bade her companions good fortune, explaining that she was going to stay behind at the keep. Once they were fully re-equipped, the rest of the party, minus Melanie Muir, ventured once more to the Caves of Chaos.

    Having explored all the caves closest to the ground, they decided to climb up the side of the cliff a bit and try one of the higher caves. Kle'Nx chose a cave and approached. The entrance to this cave was protected by a stout door. Skulls lined the entrance and hung from the door. A sign affixed to the door read, "Come in - we'd like to have you for dinner!"

    "Move aside!" said Cork as the mighty warrior stepped forward and kicked down the door with her heavy boots.

    The party came immediately to a four-way intersection and took the left passage. A moment later a group of six hobgolins came running up from behind them.

    Hobgoblin Guards
    Kle'Nx, standing near the rear, turned and held out her hands, "Wait! Wait! Wait right there!"

    The hobgoblins stopped in their tracks. They paused and looked at each other, confused.

    Kle'Nx continued, "We're here for the feast."

    The rest of the party made ready but made no sudden moves.

    The hobgoblin guards, still confused, replied in goblin with some kind of question.

    Kle'Nx, undeterred, mimed the act of eating with her hands, "You know, feast? Eating? Nom nom nom?" She then shrugged and said, "Where?"

    The hobgoblins nodded in comprehension and begin giving instructions in goblin, indicating that the party was to follow them.

    DM Note- Hooray for Reaction Tables and High Charisma! Erica rolled 'Confused but wary, roll again next turn', twice in a row then finally scored a 'gain their trust, roll again next turn with +4' and then gained their friendship.

    The hobgoblins led the party back to to their post down the right passage from the four-way intersection. There they detailed a single hobgoblin to lead the party to.. the.. feast, I guess?

    D'Oor Chandelier notched an arrow but Kle'Nx cautioned her to stay her hand, "Not yet. Let him take us to the feast!"

    The hobgoblin led them up a flight of stairs and down a corridor to a banquet hall. There were tables set with pewter place settings and a boar was being roasted over a spit. Several children scurried about as four male hobgoblins and five female hobgoblins were setting the tables, preparing for an impending feast. The other hobgoblins stopped what they were doing when the party entered. A few of the males stepped forward to ask the hobgoblin guide what was going on. They began conversing in their language. The males stepped closer, challenging the party.

    DM Note - New set of hobgoblins, new reaction table roll.

    Kle'Nx once again spoke for the party, "Yes. We're here for the feast. But we, umm, we need to freshen up first. Where do you go potty? You know, paw-tay?" She began dancing like she had to urinate very badly. The halfling waved her arms at the others and the rest of the party did the same.

    The hobgoblins nodded in understanding and the guide was about to lead them to a latrine when someone shouted, "Now!" and D'Or cast a sleep spell!
    D'oour Chan'd'Lahr
    The five female hobgoblins and one of the males fell to the floor unconscious. All of the children and one of the males immediately fled down the corridor back to the guard post while the other males drew their weapons and attacked! The party made short work of the humanoids however and the room was quickly pacified.

    After the battle, Whent, the grumpy old curmudgeon, saw to Ser Fresca's wounds with a prayer of healing, "Gumble mumble.. Cummear!" After Ser Fresca thanked Whent, who replied, "FEH!"
    Whent, "FEH!"
    Ser Fresca quickly bound the sleeping females and Camille crushed the skull of the sleeping male. The party then fled down the corridor, taking a different corridor than the one leading to the guard room. D'Or shouted, "This way! It has to go somewhere! Who would dig a dead end tunnel?"

    The tunnel was a dead end and six hobgoblin guards ran up behind them, trapping them in the corridor. D'Or shouted, "Dammit!" D'Or and Camille quickly checked for secret doors but found none. D'Or cried out in frustration, "Who would build this? WHO??"

    The guards split into two groups, the three crossbowmen stayed back at the intersection and fired while three swordsmen advanced and entered into melee with Ser Fresca and Cork while Camille wielded her pole-axe from the second rank and Kle'Nx and D'Or fired their bows from the back. A vicious battle ensued but the guards were ultimately defeated with no casualties for the party.

    The party quickly retraced their steps to the four-way intersection, then advanced cautiously towards the now empty guard post. They continued on past the guard post to a door at the end of a corridor.
    Camille Rockbutt
    The door was unlocked. Cork and Ser Fresca cautiously led the way into the darkened room, holding their lantern aloft. They entered into an armory. Racks of weapons and armor lined the walls. Suddenly, the door was slammed shut and two hobgoblins who were hiding behind the door jumped out in surprise!

    The two hobgoblins attacked D'Or. The party quickly recovered and fought back, quickly slaying one hobgoblin before killing the other as he tried to run away.

    The party took stock of the room, quickly cataloging the weapons and armor, taking what they wanted. D'Or and Kle'Nx shared the fourteen silver-tipped arrows they found in a special box.

    By this time, the party was exhausted from battle and uncertain what to do next. They decided to call it a day and head back to the Keep.

    DM Note - It was after 11pm and people were fading, so we called it a night.

    The End (for now...)

    What a great time! Lots of jokes, exciting combats, fast-thinking role-play - and from the newbie no less! I can't wait to see what the party does next year. This time, I'm keeping the characters so we can use the same group and watch them level up and progress. Hopefully I can get D'Or's stats to keep her preserved.

    Other Comments
    I haven't run Basic D&D since the early eighties, so it was an interesting adjustment from the more modern Fifth Edition.

    For one, character creation was SUPER quick and easy. Loved that. Everyone had characters in like ten minutes, and everyone's characters fit on a post-it note or a small piece of scrap paper.

    I regret using descending Armor Class. I was waffling back and forth all weekend about whether I wanted to make things easier for me and use ascending Armor Class or if I wanted to keep things authentic and used descending. In the end I decided to go with authenticity. What a mistake. Even though I know several shortcuts for determining the to-hit number in my head (subtract AC from 19, monsters get HD + 2 as to-hit bonus), I still kept having to check against the tables like an idiot. I could have just made everything simpler by converting to ascending in the first place.

    Plate Mail was really inexpensive in Basic D&D. Only 60 gold pieces? Huh. I was surprised elves could wear all armor.

    As for combat, other than the annoyance of descending AC mentioned above, every fight was fast and free-form. There were no penalties or complications for firing missiles into melee. I really liked that missile fire went first in the turn order, followed by magic use, then melee. Attacks of Opportunity were in the rules all the way back in the beginning.

    Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves, and the minimalist nature of the basic rules helped.

    Until next year!

    Thursday, October 15, 2015

    "A Storm is Coming" - Star Wars: Riptide, Episode 2

    The crew gets harassed by some of Rakai's thugs while trying to smuggle contraband. Later, Balin studies under his mentor while Evo and Emily arrange a new cargo. The crew take a little detour to Bakki Station on a courier mission for the Shadow and meet Narru the Bloodless, Hutt crime lord of the sector. They finally arrive at their destination and get involved in some local trouble.


    Episode 2 
    A STORM IS COMING

    Having retrieved their stolen cargo
    from Vangar the Space Pirate, 
    The Riptide crew return home to 
    the ocean planet Auilai to deliver
    their cargo of precious medicine
    to the plague-stricken world.

    The Crew of the Riptide
    Evo Shandor - nautolan transport captain
    Balin Lee - young human Jedi-in-training
    Emily Wonder - human mercenary
    Eggs Ledscramb - quarren bounty hunter (not present this week)

    Jedi Mind Tricks
    Evo, Balin, and Emily return to the Riptide to check on the repairs to the outer airlock door. A small unit of Imperial Seatroopers and imperial customs inspectors manned a checkpoint at the entrance to the docking zone. Suddenly, an explosion rocked the far edge of the docking zone. Water rushed in and began filling docking bays and interior force field membranes were having difficulty containing the extra water. There was panic and confusion and the Imperials manning the checkpoint rushed to provide assistance and secure the area. The crew used the confusion as cover to move their six contraband crates past the checkpoint without notice.

    The smooth organic looking corridors of the underwater city of Panui were shaped out of living coral by advanced Auilaini force field technology and were illuminated by bioluminescent tubes. The crew followed the corridors down into the flooded roots of the tree-like city. Balin and Emily donned wetsuits and activated transparent bubble fields around their heads.

    As they rounded a corridor, their way was blocked by three of Overlord Rakai's thugs. One of the thugs was riding a massive cyborg predatory fish known as a Xok. The cyborg xok was covered in articulated armor plates and its eyes were replaced with menacing blasters. The color-changing chromatophores in the xok's skin pulsed and flashed in hypnotic patterns. Each of the thugs were wearing armor and carrying undersea blasters. The mounted thug carried a shock-lance.

    In a gruff voice distorted by the water, the leader shouted, "Hey! You! Stop! What's in the crates?"

    Evo's chemo-receptive head tendrils twitched with information about the brutish Auilaini's emotional state and intentions. He used that information to his advantage. "These are just my personal belongings. I'm moving into a new domicile and my crew is helping me move."

    The leader looked convinced and was about to dismiss them, but one of his subordinates moved to one of the boxes. "Stinking offworlders, ruining our city. How about I just confiscate one of these boxes." He put his hands on one of the boxes and started to open it.

    Evo became annoyed, "No! Those are my belongings! You have no right to take them."

    The subordinate glared back, "I am one of Rakai's men! I have EVERY right to take what I want from whoever I want! If I want this, I will take it!"

    Evo, desperate for time, replied, "Hey, aren't you guys supposed to be responding to that explosion at the docks?"

    The subordinate paused, "Leave that for the Imperials. We do what we want. And what I want is to see whats in these boxes and take what I like." He turned to open the box full of heavy repeating blasters.

    Balin cleared his throat to get the thug's attention. With a wave of his hand, he explained, "It was Rakai himself that assigned us to these new quarters. You don't want to interfere with Rakai's command."

    The thug looked back at the others, "You know, Rakai himself assigned them to these new quarters, we better not interfere."

    The mounted thug, already convinced and ready to let them pass, moved his Xok aside and with a wave of his shock lance bade them to move along.

    The crew moved along quickly and eventually arrived at "drop point two", an dark abandoned chamber in the foundations of the city. Evo moved aside the discarded shell of a giant mollusk to reveal a hidden comparment. Inside the compartment was a thick black puck attached to a wall. Evo took the puck. The crew left the weapons in the hidden compartment and returned to Myr's compound with the crates containing contraband medicine.

    A Message in a Bottle
    Back at the secret compound, Balin joined Myr for study and practice. Myr had been training him in the ways of the Force, and although she could no longer channel the mystic energy herself, she was able to instruct the teenage boy in how to harness his own ability.

    Evo examined the puck and found that it was a container that carried three holodisks. A message written on the outside of one of the disks said "Message will play once then self-destruct." The other two were identical save one was red and the other blue. Evo inserted the first disk into his datapad and played the message.

    There was no image, only a voice, masked to conceal its speaker, "This is Shadow. If you are hearing this, then you have delivered the package. You have our thanks. We need you for another mission - a courier mission. Take these disks to Bakki Station. There you will find a bar named the Space Oasis. Seek out a being named Mokko. Say to him 'There's a Storm Coming.' Our mutual contact will tell you the proper response. If Mokko tells you the proper response, give Mokko the blue disk. For any other response, give Mokko the red disk. It is a decoy. All the disks will self-destruct after being played, so do not play them! Arrange a legal shipment as a cover. Good luck and may the blessings of the Aqua Vitae be with you!"

    With that the message erased itself and the disk melted into gas.

    Evo told his mother about the message, she informed him that the correct response was "Then we better batten down the hatches."

    Evo and Emily went down to the docking port and arranged a cargo of fresh fish packed in barrels to be transported to the planet Trondar. Evo was paied 1000 credits to load up and would receive a voucher upon delivery which entitled him to an additional payment of another 1000 credits on his return.

    He took the cargo and called Balin, interrupting his practice and angering his mother, and said to pack up and grab Eggs. As soon as Parts finished fixing the airlock, they would go.

    Bakki Station
    Leaving Auilai was uneventful. The blockade of the planet was to prevent medicine from reaching the world, not the other way around. The Riptide entered hyperspace without incident.

    The Riptide was not going directly to Trondar, however. First it would stop at Bakki station to deliver the message. Then it would continue on to Trondar.

    The freighter emerged from hyperspace near Bakki station. The Hutt cartel built Bakki station in deep space, nowhere near a star or planet, along a long stretch of the Corellian Trade spine where there were few spaceports. Many spacers making the long-haul would schedule a short stop at Bakki station to refresh themselves during their long journey. It became a place for passengers to transfer from one ship to another, a place to gamble or drink or spend the night, a place to make a deal free from Imperial interference. Evo, being a short-haul transport operating within the sector, had never had much reason to go there. Only Emily had been there when she was a mercenary, though she never stayed long.

    Bakki station was huge. A city in space the size of an asteroid. The station was surrounded by thousands of ships, small and large. The ship was barraged by advertising holograms as they approached. The ship docked in a caverous bay and the crew disembarked.

    They passed through a short airlock tunnel and entered into a large indoor street, five stories tall, filled with beings from every species, blaring advertisements, shops and markets, and the smell of thousands of food vendors. The street branched off in all directions like any metropolis. A network of tube transports passed overhead carrying wealthy travellers above the rabble in personal tube cars.  The crew was immediately swarmed by dozens of children, none older than twelve, all offering to serve as guides to the station or to carry their belongings.

    Evo shooed the children away and consulted a local information kiosk, asking for the Space Oasis. The kiosk gave them directions, which they followed to the letter. However, when they reached their destination, they could find no such establishment. They asked the kiosk again which directed them to a completely different destination, with equally frustrating results.

    Emily eventually called over one of the urchins, a young human boy named Andre, and paid him to act as guide. Andre explained that he knew where the Space Oasis was and that the owner didn't want most people to find it. For a five credits, he led them directly to an unmarked door in a side alley. A sentry scanner emerged from the door on the end of an articulated stalk. After Andre introduced the crew, the door opened, and they went in.

    The Space Oasis was a dingy establishment with a round bar in the center of the room. An old Mon Calamari tended bar. A fat Herglic door guard reclaimed his seat by the entrance. The room was sparsely occupied, a few people meeting in private, a few individuals drinking alone. The walls of the bar were composed of video screens showing underwater scenes. A video display in one corner showed swoop races with the sound off, a similar display in the other corner featured some kind of robotic sporting event. A droid buzzed around serving drinks.

    The old Mon Calimari looked  at Balin and said, "We don't serve his kind here. The boy. He's too young."

    Emily stepped up to the bar, "He's with us. He'll have something non-intoxicating. What you do have that's non-intoxicating?"

    "I've got Blue Harvest, it's a kind of blue milk."

    Emily nodded and said, "He'll have that. We'll all have that."

    Balin and Evo nodded. The mon calamari shrugged and went into the back to get a jug of Blue Harvest from the refrigeration unit.

    When he returned, Evo asked for Mokko. The Mon Calamari narrowed his large eyes and replied, "I am he."

    Evo said, "There's a storm coming."

    To which the lobster-like alien replied, "Then we better batten down the hatches."

    With that, much of the tension in the old Mon Calamari faded. He came out from behind the bar and directed the crew to a private table. He ordered the droid to watch the bar.

    Mokko apologized for the security. He explained that this bar is a refuge for members of the resistance against the Empire, so he tried to keep it secret and a safe place for like-minded individuals.

    Mokko asked Evo if he had anything to deliver. Evo gave the Mon Calamari the blue disk. Mokko said, "Better give me the red disk too, just in case I need it."

    After completing their exchange, they left the bar.

    Narru the Bloodless
    When they emerged into the alley, their way back onto the street was blocked by three burly but well-dressed trandoshans.  The three thugs were polite but terse, "Evo Shandor. You and your crew have been summoned for an audience with our employer, the proprietor of this station. Plesae come with us." The confused crew went along.

    The trandoshans led the crew to a lift that elevated them to the tube network. The reptilian humanoid then summoned a luxurious tube car that carried them to a much cleaner, much swankier part of the station.

    They were led into an grand audience hall the size of an auditorium. The hall descended to a circle, brightly illuminated from a massive spotlight in the ceiling, that stood before a round speaker grilled set in a massive armored cylinder where a stage might normally be located. The walls and decor were of a style reminiscent of old Coruscant: rounded geometic forms like stylized wings, radiating rays, and concentric circles, all painted gold with chrome trim. They were ordered to stand in the circle.

    When they did so, the metal cylinder split in two as armored plates recessed to either side, revealing a large tank filled with bacta. Inside the tank was what appeared to be the floating corpulent body of a dead hutt, its form like a slug with arms the size of a whale, hanging lifelessly, supported by wires. Life support tubes and cables ran from the top of the tank into attachments on the hutt's body. Two glowing orbs floated around, moving of their own accord.

    The large round speaker grille was still attached to the front of the tank. It crackled to life. The booming electronic voice was intimidating but not threatening.
    An Audience with Narru the Bloodless

    "Welcome. I am Narru, the owner of this station. I have heard of your recent incident with Vangar. Vangar hs plagued this sector and is a nusiance to me. I wished to compliment you on your tenacity in retrieving your stolen goods. That kind of dedication to the mission is a strong qualification for a transport crew. If you are amenable, I would like to hire your services."

    Evo looked at his crew then replied that he was interested.

    "Good. Good. I have some sensitive product that I need to have moved onto the planet Chador, and I wish to avoid Imperial interference. I am willing to pay you handsomely for your work and will arrange a legitimate cargo to provide cover for my product. For your services, I offer payment of four thousand credits. My majordomo, Major Domo, will fill you in on the particulars."

    Major Domo
    The crew was led out of the auditorium and into a side room where they met an older man of ubese descent. His skin was ash grey. His long straight white hair was swept back. His eyes were white orbs with black pin-pricks for pupils set in dark wrinkled bloodshot sockets. A mask covered the lower half of his face, long tubes were connected from the sides of the mask to a slowly pumping air filter on his back. When he spoke, an electronic synthesizer translated his voice into an eerie computer voice like an insect.
    Major Domo
    He stood at a table, crouched over a large computer display like a monk or scholar would stand over an ancient manuscript, his stylus constantly scribbling and tapping. He looked up, his face underlit by the screen. His eyes registered surprise when he saw Emily.

    "You wear the armor of an ubese warrior. What is your name?"

    Emily replied.

    "I know of you. My son Faranko has spoken of you. He served with you on previous campaigns in your previous platoon."

    Emily inquired about Faranko. "He is well and here on the station. He is assembling a new unit now to fulfill a contract on a planet in this sector. You may contact him at this address if you wish. He is looking to hire able mercenaries for this contract." Emily took the information.

    Major Domo took a deep mechanical breath and then got down to business, addressing Evo and Balin, "Please state the name of your ship, your own names, and your positions aboard the ship for the record." After the crew supplied the information, he continued, "You are to transport a cargo of Ryll spice to a buyer on the planet Chador. The Ryll spice will be masked by a cargo of ten tons of frozen fish from Nesia to be loaded here at the station. You will be paid 2000 credits upon taking receipt of this cargo. You are to deliver the cargo to Tarak Dur who will provide you with a receipt as well as payment for the delivery hidden inside a shipment of power crystals. You will return to Bakki station to deliver Dur's payment, at which time you will be paid the remaining 2000 credits. I need not remind you that Ryll spice is a controlled substance and is illegal to transport within the Empire. Should your cargo be discovered by Imperial customs, you will be imprisoned. Are my instructions clear? Good.  Your ship is to be loaded in four hours. In the meantime, you are free to explore the station. "

    The crew spent the next four hours hleping load the new crates of fish, packed in refrigerated shipping containers, and preparing their ship for take-off. Emily never contacted Faranko.

    Trondar
    The Riptide approaches Trondar
    The Rip Tide emerged from its fourty hour hyperspace journey near a grey and white planet known as Trondar. There was little subspace traffic and no other starships, only the beacon of the planetary landing facility. Evo scanned the planet. Trondar was a cold mountainous world in the midst of an ice age. Half of the world was covered in glacial ice sheets. The equatorial region boasted primitive conifer forests, cool seas, rushing rivers, and plains of loose gravel left by retreating glaciers. There was no visible technology other than a small settlement on a plain near one of the alpine mountain ranges. The landing facility traffic control was automated and they soon landed near another starship, an old nu-class attack shuttle.

    The settlement was little more than a landing pad, communications tower, power generator, and a customs office. The structure that housed the customs office was ugly and utilitarian, resembling several concrete domes growing out of a long concrete mound. A few other pre-fab concrete domes were erected in a walled compound nearby. The outer city was primitive and consisted of dozens of wooden structures covered in hide and mud. A large wooden long-house dominated the center of town. The entire settlement was surrounded by a gated wooden palisade. The natives appeared to be humans who had returned to primitivism after hundreds of thousands of years of isolation. They were hairy brutes who wore skins, hides, and furs mixed with technologically advanced helmets, bits of armor, and trinkets, bits, and bobs.

    The crew entered the customs office which was packed with over two dozen mercenaries. An ubese captain, his helmet off revealing the ash-grey skin of a man in his thirties, a breath mask covering his mouth and nose, was arguing with the customs officer, a fat Imperial bureaucrat. Evo stepped forward to try to diffuse the argument. The ubese captain turned and started to shout at Evo when he saw Emily.

    The electronically modulated voice from the breath mask shouted, "Emily! Emily Wonder! It is great to see you! My father said he saw you at the station. What are you doing here?"

    Emily grabbed the ubese captain's forearm in a friendly grip, "Faranko! What are you doing here?"

    "We're on a mission. We've been hired by a local warlord to take out another warlord. You know how it is. Except that this pig here is trying to charge us 1000 credits for a landing fee! I wouldn't pay ten credits to park in this dung heap! What about you?"

    "We're delivering fish to the locals. As soon as we get our delivery voucher, we're leaving."

    "That's too bad," Faranko replied, "You're good. We could use someone like you. You wouldn't care to join us on a mission? We can cut your crew in too."

    "No. Thanks."

    Meanwhile, Evo was talking with the custom's officer.

    "Hi Ensign... Frick. What's the problem here? Why the hold-up?"

    Ensign Frick rubbed his chin then rubbed his forehead. "The landing fee here is 1000 credits. This man won't pay."

    Evo was taken aback. "A thousand...! How can it be a thousand credits?"

    Ensign Frick looked surreptitiously to his left and right, "Look, we don't get a lot of opportunities out here. He's a mercenary! He's got the credits! He can afford it!"

    Evo took Ensign Frick into his confidence, putting a conspiratorial arm about the officer's shoulder, "Yeah, I get it. Look. You're aiming too high. You've got to lower the bar a little. Yes, they're mercenaries. But look at these guys. They're young, they're desperate. And look who they're coming to work for! You think those guys out there are going to be paying these guys a lot of money? Maybe you should reconsider the docking fee. How about a hundred?"

    Ensign Frick considered the idea and nodded. He broke free of Evo and spoke up to Faranko, "I have just re-checked the regulations and I was mistaken. The docking fee is 100 credits for armed mercenary transports," He shot a nasty look at Evo, "200 credits for cargo transports!"

    Evo rolled his eyes and sighed. Faranko looked up from his conversation with Emily, "Fine! But we're never coming back to this frozen dump!"

    GM Note - Warning. At this point, I was no longer really prepared and really struggled with what happened next. I tried to make up some conflict on the spot and wound up creating a really weak scenario that I had to un-do and one point and wish I could un-do again. Pretty much everything after this point doesn't make any real sense, and only the outstanding role-playing of Evo's player keeps me from wiping it out this next session. 

    Loki
    Loki, leader of the Trond

    The crew inquired with the locals about the delivery and were directed to the long house at the center of the settlement. There they were given an audience with Loki, leader of the Trond. Loki was a thin wiry fellow with dark scraggly hair and a bushy goatee. He wore skins and furs mixed with ancient armor once common with galactic soldiers.

    The crew announched that they were here to make a delivery of 30 tons of fish from Auilai. All they needed was Loki's voucher verifying delivery of the goods and they would leave. Loki informed them that he would need to inspect the cargo before taking delivery of them, and asked that they wait in a nearby tavern. The crew agreed.

    About an hour later, they were summoned back to the long house. Loki was now surrounded by many of Faranko's mercenaries. He had obviously armed up for some kind of confrontation. Loki informed Evo that he would be taking the fish, as well as confiscating Evo's transport. Loki explained that his people were at war with the Dero, a dwarf-like species native to Trondar, and that the Trond were in need of armed spacecraft to help win this war. He hired Faranko's mercenaries to storm the Dero fortress in the mountains and he wanted Evo's spacecraft to transport his own troops.  Loki then ordered Faranko's men to capture Evo and his crew.

    Evo replied with incredulity, "Wait! Wait! Wait!" Faranko's men paused. Evo informed Loki that this tactic was pointless and unnecessary. He explained that the ship's security prevented him from taking the ship and even if he could take it, there's no way Loki would be able to operate the ship.

    Loki argued that Faranko's men would operate the ship. Faranko, looking embarrased to be associated with this plan, shrugged as if to apologize.

    Evo then switched to another strategy. He offered to help Loki in exchange for payment. Loki replied that he was unable to pay for the ship because the treasury had been paid to Faranko. However, he did acknowledge that payment would be assured if they took the Dero fortress. The Dero were miners and had vast stores of metals and gold.

    Evo began pressing Loki for tactical details. When was the assault planned? How many Dero were there? What defenses did the Dero have? What was the terrain like? What was the approach like? Loki said that the assault was planned for tomorrow morning, that the Dero fortress was built deep into a mountainside and was protected by heavy steel gates and two turbolasers, and that there were hundreds of Dero warriors supported by two large dragon-creatures.

    Evo made a new offer: Evo's crew would transport Loki's men to help take the fortress if Loki paid Evo's crew what he was paying Faranko's entire unit. Faranko balked, "There's no way they're being paid as much as us!"

    Loki made a counter offer, "I'll pay you HALF of what I'm paying Faranko's unit."

    Evo agreed.

    TO BE CONTINUED

    GM Notes
    I kind of cleaned up the ending from what really happened in the game so that it was more logical and flowed better. In reality, Evo's player really DID do a great job roleplaying and arguing with Loki and pressing him for details and a better offer. But I was not prepared with a lot of the answers yet, so it wound up making Loki look unprepared and gave the impression that Loki was an idiot. That was not my intention, it was simply a result of me not being prepared and trying to force a battle because the players looked like they were starting to get bored of all the role-playing.

    Instead, Evo's player kicked the role-playing up a notch and made a great Evo-centric scene, at the cost of Loki (and maybe me a little) looking foolish.

    The whole point of this week's session was to establish a sense of place. What's it like on Auilai. What's going on with some of the nearby worlds? Who's doing what in the sector? It was all about exploration and introductions and giving the players a sense of what "everyday" life is like for their characters, as well as allowing the players some narrative freedom and agency in their own story and where it goes. I wanted to make it clear that this was not going to be a railroad and that they were in control of the narrative.

    We're not playing this week so the next session will be next week. At that point I'll try to have a quick battle, some fun with Imperials, and steer the overall story back to being about Rebel saboteurs.

    Friday, October 9, 2015

    Auilaini

    Auilaini in Air-suit
    The Auilaini are a species of bipedal icthyoids native to the water world Auilai. Their skin is similar to that of an amphibian. Their large eyes are adapted to the dark waters of the bottom of the sea and do not function well out of water. Their hands and feet have long webbed digits which enhance their swimming capability. Auilaini are completely aquatic, breathing through gills located behind their jaw, and are unable to breath atmospheric gases.  Auilaini that must leave the sea wear special water recyling apparatuses that constantly pump oxygenated water into their mouth and out of their gills.

    Auilaini are sexually dimorphic. Females tend to be slightly bigger than males and have longer, flowing fins . Males have highly contrasting coloration that comes in many different forms (i.e. spots, lines, etc.) to make them stand out to potential mates while females have more muted coloration for better camouflage. There are no obvious secondary sex organs to differentiate male from female.

    Auilaini are a ritualistic people with a deep grasp and oneness with the natural universe. They feel a deep connection with a universal life force they call the "Aqua Vitae" or "Water of Life".

    Auilaini are oviparous, fertilizing eggs through internal copulation. Auilaini females choose their mates from competing males. The mates then perform a ritualized mating swim among underwater flora that ends in fertilization. Females lay a small clutch of two to four eggs seven months after fertilization.  The fertilized eggs are then laid in an ancestral Sacred Grove Pool. The eggs incubate for a period of 7-8 weeks, watched over by female Water Shapers known as Guardians of the Pools. Auilaini mate for life and will produce 2 to 3 clutches of eggs. If a mate dies, the other will not seek a new mate.

    There are thousands of Sacred Grove Pools, their use going back hundreds of thousands of years.  Each pool holds great sacred significance and are used to commemorate marriages, births, and esoteric religious rituals. In ancient times, females were expected to return to the pool of their mothers. Modern auilaini society has become more permissive and it is now acceptable for females to choose an alternative pool that is more convenient or better protected.

    Auilaini possess a technologically advanced culture. During their golden age, they built great cities of domesticated coral shaped by powerful force fields. Their technology is powered by geothermal taps and the currents of the sea.

    Auilaini are xenophobic and isolationist. When humans colonized the islands of Auilai's surface, the auilaini retreated further beneath the surface and turned their force fields towards defense. This defense provided no protection against a plague that struck their people ten years ago.  The Galactic Empire offered the only source of medicine. In exchange for the medicines needed to save their people from the plague, the Auilaini were forced into slavery working the underwater ulcault mines. In addition, they were forced to surrender their isolation, dissolve their native government, and submit to the authority of the Empire and their proxies.

    A few auilaini resist their oppressors. Thanks to the help of the nautolan physician Myr Chandor, they were able to obtain a small amount of medicine through extralegal means. These cured auilaini have formed a small but growing resistance movement with the goal of one day overthrowing the Imperial occupation.
    Auilaini

    DEXTERITY 1D/3D+2 
    KNOWLEDGE 1D+2/4D+1 
    MECHANICAL 1D+1/4D 
    PERCEPTION 1D+1/4D 
    STRENGTH 1D+1/4D 
    TECHNICAL 1D+1/4D 
    Special Abilities: 
    Swimming Ability: Auilaini gain a bonus of +3D to their swimming skill.
    Water Breathers: Auilaini cannot stay out of water for more than an hour at a time, unless they employ special rebreather gear that allows them to do so.
    Poor Vision: When out of water, Auilaini are unable to see very well (Perception dice pools related to sight are halved). Their rebreather gear, however, compensates for this as long as it is worn.
    Move: 10/12 (14/16 in water)
    Size: 1.6-1.8 meters tall

    Note: Auilaini are essentially Iskalonians from the Marvel comics, so I have adapted their abilities from the Alien Stats fan sourcebook by Thiago S. Aranha.

    Tuesday, October 6, 2015

    Reptilian Swamp Panda

    Reptilian Swamp Panda
    The reptilian swamp panda is a large ambush predator native to the jungle planet of Prexiar.

    The swamp panda is a stout quadraped with four strong clawed feet, strong shoulders and back, a long thick neck, and a short tail. The beast has a dark purple back covered in protective armor plates and spikes. Black patches cover the creature's face and become a black line that separates the purple back from the pale yellow underbelly.

    The swamp panda lies still in the high foliage of the swamps that cover the lowland plains at the center of the craters that cover Prexiar. It pounces on any creature that nears its hiding place. Swamp pandas are highly sensitive to noise and activity and will charge and attack any source of noise or violent activity. It will bite its opponent in its massive jaws and drag them away through the forest. Often, several swamp pandas occupy the same location. They will react to the commotion at the same time, each biting and dragging away a different victim.

    Reptilian swamp pandas will abandon the fight and flee if seriously wounded.

    DEXTERITY 2D
    PERCEPTION 2D
     Hide 4D, Search 4D, Sneak 3D
    STRENGTH 4D

    Special Abilities
    Bite: Does STR+2 damage. Opponents bitten by the swamp panda are held and must win a contested STRENGTH check to break free.
    Claws: Do STR+1 damage.

    Move: 12
    Size: 4 meters long (medium)