Wednesday, December 2, 2015

"A Thrilling Escape!" - Star Wars: Riptide, Episode 6 Chapter 3

Episode 6 Chapter 3

The Empire forced kaminoan microbiologist
Doctor Ardap Topas to create a disease
that was used to oppress and enslave
the aquatic natives of the water planet Auilai.

Unbeknownst to his Imperial overseers
Doctor Topas created a cure
for the disease he created
and hid it in plain sight by injecting it
into his collection of tropical aquatic life forms
contained within a decorative tank 
in his residential suite
inside the Imperial Sector Capital Complex.

Before the crew of the Riptide 
can take Doctor Topas
back to Auilai, they must 
to sneak into and out of one of the most
secure structures on Chador
to steal those life forms...

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
Rhys March - twi'lek tech-spec

The nondescript airspeeder service van approached the security checkpoint mid-way up the massive Imperial Sector Capital Tower. An Imperial stormtrooper waved it to a stop and came up to the driver's window in the cab.

"Identify yourself and state your business."

The laconic quarren driver wearing a jumpsuit leaned his arm over the window and gave the stormtrooper a smile, or the best a creature with a head like a squid whose mouth was surrounded by writhing tentacles could approximate.

"I am Eggs, Aquatronic service technician specialist. We're here to service all your aquatic needs. Remember, if its not covered in water, it's not covered by our maintenance plan," he droned, as if long rehearsed. "We're here to provide regular service to the aquatic environment tank in unit 9501."
GM Note- Eggs player ad-libbed that sales pitch on the spot. It was fantastic! I awarded him a Character Point on the spot!
"Present your documentation."

Eggs handed over his datapad, hoping the forged credentials and work order would be convincing. Evo, the nautolan sitting next to him, hadn't spent a lot of time on them.

"That unit is no longer occupied. Didn't you hear? He was arrested and convicted as a traitor."

Eggs looked exasperated by the complication, "Really? I hadn't heard. Look, they company I work for was paid through the end of the year, and if I don't service that unit, I don't get paid."

"Okay, go ahead. But I'll have to assign a protocol droid to escort you."
GM Note - Oh, Wild Die! You never disappoint!
"No problem."

The airspeeder van parked in the service garage. Three technicians got out, a nautolan male, a quarren male, and a teenaged human male, all wearing jumpsuits identifying them as employees of Aquatronic. The human male donned a large ring around his neck, a gungan force field bubble helmet from Naboo. They each grabbed a toolbox or duffel bag out of the back of the van and met a loquacious protocol droid at the service turbolift.

The protocol droid prattled on about the recent business with the traitor, Doctor Ardap Topas. Doctor Topas was a respected member of the Imperial Biological Weapons Division. His betrayal of the New Order had come as quite a shock!

The protocol droid also expressed undue interest in the work of the three. The droid kept asking questions. What were they here to do? What kind of tools would they use? What kind of aquatic life forms did Doctor Topas keep? Given that two of the three were aquatic species, and noting that the human wore a diving helmet, was complete underwater immersion required?

The three technicians looked at each other warily, avoiding the questions and providing non-answers as best they could. All they really knew was that Doctor Topas has hidden the cure for the aquatic natives of Auilai in plain sight by injecting it into several specimens in his aquarium. Doctor Topas said that he had eighteen specimens, and that only he would be able to recognize which ones were injected and which ones were not. Evo didn't want to risk bringing the three-meter tall kaminoan fugitive, so they decided they'd just bring all eighteen specimens back to the Riptide.

Doctor Topas told them that the tank was large, large enough for a humanoid to swim within, and that the water was held behind a permeable force field. Each specimen was about the size of a humanoid's forearm or slightly bigger. He explained that they could be extracted from the tank by either entering it or using a set of long poles he keeps in a closet nearby. Transport cannisters can be attached to the end of the poles. If maneuvered close enough to the specimen, it would be drawn inside the cannister via vacuum action. The cannister then seals itself and removed from the pole. There should be twenty cannisters in the closet.

Eggs the quarren, Evo the nautolan, and Balin the human, simply needed to enter the high security complex dressed as auarium maintenance technicians, capture all the specimens, and get out. The fact that Eggs and Evo were both from aquatic humanoid species only served to substantiate their ruse. It was the perfect cover!

The protocol droid waved its hand to deactivate security locks placed on the entrance to unit 9501. The trio entered and went to work, locating the closet and tools. They began drawing the specimens into the cannisters.

The droid seemed very confused that the service technicians needed to use tools already on site and asked a few too many incredulous questions. Evo nodded towards the droid and said, "Take care of that, will you?"  Eggs put down his pole and approached the droid menacingly.

GM Note - I told the players that there were 18 fish. Catching a fish required a successful Melee Weapon skill check vs. Moderate (15). Each success caught a fish. Because they had to remove a the cannister from the pole and attach a new cannister, they could only catch one fish each per turn. Each time they rolled a 1 on the Wild Die, a complication would occur - for example, a guard would show up, someone nearby would become suspicious, a  neighbor would start asking difficult questions, etc. I designed the scenario so that three characters would need six turns to catch all the fish, plenty of opportunity for a Wild Die to roll a 1. The scenario lent an air of tension and anxiety as the complications kept escalating.

The droid became suspicious and hurried out into the corridor. It had almost made it to the security terminal on the corner when Eggs grabbed it and put it in a headlock. The droid flailed and cried for help!

In answer to its cry, a security droid came around the corner. It was a Z-unit, a floating grey cylinder about half a meter in diameter equipped with short and medium range stunners. Eggs cursed his luck and began punching the droid with his free hand while keeping the protocol droid in a headlock. The protocol droid wriggled free and activated the security alarm while Eggs pummeled the security droid. Eggs finally grabbed the security droid and threw it onto the ground then shoved the protocol droid into the corridor wall, disabling both automatons.

He thought fast and grabbed the protocol droid's hand, passing it over the security scanner and activating the intercom. A voice on the intercom inquired about the problem. Eggs did his best protocol droid impression, "No problem. Just a malfunction. Please cancel the alarm."

After a tense pause, the alarm was cancelled, but the voice on the intercom said, "We're sending up some stormtroopers to do a sweep."

He returned to his crewmates, stressed the need to hurry, and  helped capture the remaining specimens. Moments later, they had two duffel bags filled with eighteen cylinders containing aquatic specimens. They took off down the corridor, looking to take a different service turbolift and avoid the stormtrooper patrol.

On their way out, they see a bulletin flash across all the security terminals. It was an alert to be on the lookout for the nautolan Evo Shandor, the quarren Eggs Ledscramb, and the humans Balin Lee and Emily Wonder. The four were being blamed for the morning's street massacre in the Free District. They were listed as armed and extremely dangerous. Their exit just became complicated!

The trio made their way back to the airspeeder van and calmly made their way to the security checkpoint at the exit. The barrier descended in front of them and two stormtroopers walked out to stop them. Evo slowed the speeder van to a crawl as they approached the checkpoint. Balin closed his eyes and began concentrating, focusing his ability to channel the Force.

Evo pulled up to the stormtroopers. Before the stormtrooper could even speak, Balin opened his eyes and waved his hand, "We're only here to maintain the fish."

The stormtroopers looked at each other. One said, "They're only here to maintain the fish."

Balin waved his hand again, "We're not the fugitives you're looking for."

The stormtrooper said, "They're not the fugitives we're looking for," opened the checkpoint barrier and waved them through.

The van casually flew away from the Imperial compound. Holograms everywhere displayed giant images of Evo, Eggs, Emily, and  Balin, with the captions: "WANTED FOR MASS MURDER - EVO SHANDOR - BALIN LEE - EGGS LEDSCRAMB - EMILY WONDER - ARMED AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS - USE CAUTION - DO NOT APPROACH - CONTACT IMPERIAL SECURITY IMMEDIATELY"

Evo called Rhys on the com-link, "Were you able to get Char-Six to bypass the drive lock?"

Rhys replied that she had, but informed Evo that Char-Six said it would cost them later.

Evo told Rhys to get the engines started, and to hurry! They were making a hasty exit.

In the distance, a Star Destroyer was descending through the atmosphere, releasing a flight of 6 TIE fighters headed towards the starport.

Evo landed the airspeeder in the hangar and ran onto the ship, exchanging a few shots with the two stormtroopers guarding the exit, while Balin and Eggs retrieved the duffel bags full of specimen cannisters and made their way up the entry ramp. Evo called back to Rhys to activate the bypass. Rhys flew a switch that deactivated the drive lock. The lock immediately began to emit a piercing alarm while a signal automatically notified Customs that the device was being tampered with. Evo angled the Riptide straight up and hit the accelerator, twisting the transport sideways to squeeze through the closing hangar doors overhead. 

The Riptide shot up over the city, but instead of heading for space Evo flew close to the ground, flying down streets and weaving between buildings. The six TIE fighters immediately engaged the Riptide, opening fire on the transport and trying to keep up with Evo's maneuvers.

Balin strapped into a nearby seat and began concentrating. Eggs manned the shields. Emily started climbing the gun well towards the turbolaser, but the rapid maneuvers caused her to slip and fall, knocking her unconscious.

Evo looked back, "Well, looks like we've got no gunner. Hold on, everyone! From here on out, we're taking evasive maneuvers! I'm going to do everything I can to avoid getting shot!"
GM Note - Emily's player was absent this week and Rhys' player had just left, so they didn't really have anybody to spare as gunner, so Evo's player decided to engage in full defensive maneuvers.
The Riptide momentarily left the cover of the buildings while it crossed the barren rocky landscape outside the city. The crystal mountain range loomed ahead.

Eggs asked, "We're not headed towards the ocean?"

Evo replied, "No. The Star Destroyer see us submerge. They'd be able to track us using their scanners. I've got a plan!"
Through the Crystal Mountains
The Riptide flew into the mountain range, darting between the giant crystal mountains, using them as cover. The ship was going too fast for the confines of the mountains so Evo reduced speed and hoped that some accidents would take care of the TIEs on their tail.

The close quarters forced the TIES into a tight formation and, soon enough, one of the TIE fighters slipped its turn and collided with another. The two spun wildly out of control and crashed into the glassy mountainside.

The Riptide contined to bank and corkscrew through the narrow confines of the range. The TIE fighters opened fire, scoring some hits on the transports shields. Fortunately, Eggs was quickly able to restore shields using the vessel's unique back-up system, but he couldn't keep doing that forever.

Balin came out of his trance and climbed the gunwell into the turbolaser turret, spinning it around to face the pursuing TIE fighters.

He closed his eyes and reached out his hands towards one of the Imperial starfighters. He extended his fingers and, with a slight gesture, pushed the small fighter with his mind. The fighter wobbled and suddenly slipped sideways as if a giant invisible hand had shoved it. The fighter crashed into the closest nearby TIE fighter, causing both pilots to lose control. The fighters slammed into a mountain and were destroyed!

Balin repeated the feat on the remaining two TIE fighters. At first, he was only able to bump them, but a second push caused them to crash.

The Riptide had suffered a minor collision during the chase, reducing its maneuverability, but they were no longer being pursued. They could see the Star Destroyer flying high over the mountain range. Evo flew the Riptide out of the mountain range and over the ocean beyond. He landed the ship hard on the purple water, kicking up a terrific spray. The vessel quickly sank beneath the waves.

Evo unbuckled himself from the pilot seat and ran to the cargo hold. He told Eggs to follow him.

Eggs said, "Won't they just find us with their scanners, like you said?"

Evo replied, "No. Load all the extra parts and anything we don't need into the airlock and jettison it all. We're going to make it look like we crashed and sank! That way they won't look for us.
GM Note - I looked at Evo's player, astonished at his ingenuity, and exclaimed, "Very nice! Well done! You get 2 Character Points, immediate award!" Everyone agreed. There were high fives and congratulations all around.

End Note - This session, comprising all three chapters of Episode 6, was perhaps the most Star Warsy thing I've done since I ran my first campaign back in 1988. It was a blast! Everyone had fun. There was fast talk, role-play, infiltration, hand-to-hand combat, mini-games, spaceship combat, thrilling escapes, Force use, the whole package! 
I'm planning on Episode 7 being the final episode in this campaign, so expect a fantastic climax next week. Then we'll take a few weeks off. After Christmas I'm planning on returning to D&D fifth edition and running the Out of the Abyss campaign. Stay tuned!