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Olympus Role Playing Group Blog

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The Proverbial Barfight

Having successfully arrived at the spaceport orbiting Heya, the crew immediately turn to replacing their lost arms and equipment. Ibrahim immediately heads for the local dispensary in order to replenish the medical drugs that were lost on Focaline, where he also inquires about the amber status of Corfu. From the head physician there, he learns that the pseudo-plague mostly affects Vargr, but that it is under control. On a whim, he also inquires whether they have any cargo or passengers destined for the planet since the Aimless Pilgrim is scheduled to go that way. This leads to him putting the coordinator in touch with Haank to arrange for the Pilgrim to carry these supplies. Abe departs the medbay rather pleased with himself as he’s now provided the crew a legitimate excuse to visit Corfu.

Meanwhile, Eddy goes hunting for an under-the-ladar arms dealer to replace their weapons and, after some time searching (and selling off some of their captured loot), successfully locates an appropriate merchant. From him, Eddy learns that the local control rating has jumped up a notch following some recent “unpleasantness” involving a group of Vargr who caused a great deal of trouble. As a result, starport authorities have clamped down hard on all weapons, which results in the price for replacements being significantly greater than normal. Eddy attempts to get a better deal by banking on the argument that the weapons aren’t doing the dealer any good just sitting in his warehouse, but is expertly countered with the fact that this clamp down will ease soon enough and, even if it doesn’t, there’s always going to be a market for guns. In the end, Eddy goes for the current price and hands over the list which the dealer agrees to have shipped to the Pilgrim. His part in this complete, Eddy informs Ella that he’s got a date to get to; she advises him not to be late when they ship out in three days.

While here, Kelso disembarks and disappears into the orbital starport, having taken a few trinkets obtained from Focaline as payment. He intends on selling them and finding his way back to his home.

On Day Two, Armin and Ibrahim take a shuttle dirtside to arrange for the replenishment of shipboard stocks with fresh supplies (although to be fair, Abe is mostly along to obtain some dirt for his ongoing collection from every world he’s visited.) After arranging for the shipment to be sent to the orbital starport and the Pilgrim’s docking berth, they decide to visit one of the local taverns for a pint of Heya’s best. Almost at once, Armin is accosted by several ruffians who promptly begin making lewd suggestions and unwanted passes at her. She is having none of this, however, and tells them to go pound sand; one of the men doesn’t take no for an answer and reaches for her hand … but immediately finds himself snared in her deceptively powerful grip. Armin smashes the man’s wrist against the bar, breaking it instantly, before telling him coldly to leave her alone. The man’s companions spring to their feet, furious at this, and the fight is on!

While Abe successfully holds his own against one of the men, successfully locking him down with an arm lock, Armin wipes the floor with the other three using a combination of acrobatic dodges, elbow strikes and brutal kicks to the head. Two of the men are knocked out completely – including the first one – and a third staggers away, hurt and moaning about telling his father about this. Abe’s foe is released once the short fight is over and he wisely bolts for the door at top speed, leaving the two Aimless Pilgrim crewmembers to return to their drinks and for Armin to bask in the adulation of the crowd who are greatly impressed by her martial prowess.

Shortly thereafter, local authorities arrive, having been summoned by the bartender the moment he saw that the fight was beginning. They are understandably surprised that this tiny slip of a girl did the most damage but still have to take the two to the station to get a proper statement. This means that Armin and Ibrahim will miss the last shuttle back to the starport, so they must spend the night. While in custody, Abe asks to call Ella to advise her of their situation; upon receiving a call from ‘Starport Security,’ she automatically presumes that Eddy has gotten into trouble and is thus somewhat flabbergasted to learn that it is her kind-hearted doctor who has gotten into a fight! He assures her that everything is fine and that neither of them are being charged, but they will have to take the morning shuttle.

The following day, as Armin and Ibrahim head out to the shuttle pad, they realize that the are being followed by a pair of rough-looking fellows. Rather than risk another fight, the two take off at a sprint, hoping to reach the landing pad without incident. Their pursuers have other ideas, however, and chase, going so far as to draw sidearms and take a couple of wild shots at them. One of them even tries to scramble up a ramp thing and then tackle Abe from above, but the doctor narrowly parries this. By the time they reach the starport, they find armed security in a high state of alert, having heard gunfire. Abe shouts out a warning – ‘Guns! They’ve got guns!’ – as he and Armin scramble for cover; this results in a brief firefight between security and the pursuing thugs, with the latter retreating once it is clear that they aren’t going to be able to take out their targets. Some of the security types pursue them while the others quickly begin to interrogate Armin and Ibrahim about why they were being chased by McMurphy’s men. Seeing no reason to lie, Abe admits that they might have been upset that Armin kicked some of their asses in a bar fight last night. Thankfully, these guys have seen those vids and recognize her so to the two are allowed to board their shuttle after giving a quick statement; one of the security guys comments on how familiar-looking Armin is, which prompts Abe to realize the same though he cannot quite put his finger on who she reminds him of. Once back aboard the Pilgrim, Abe describes these crazy events to Ella who is disgruntled that they may have obtained a new enemy (even if it is just a local.)

Eddy returns soon after, though he’s walking funny and quickly seeks out Abe for some sort of soothing cream for his … ahem … rashes; during the treatment, Ibrahim inquires whether Eddy knows who McMurphy is, then has to explain the

Now with a valid excuse for visiting Corfu – the medical supplies and several doctors who need transport- and the entire crew assembled, a debate transpires about their next course of action, whether they should try to sneak into the system or enter legally. Buck brings up the possibility of changing their transponder code (which brings its own problems, particularly with the whole ‘shoot on sight’ mandate that the Imperium follows for ships without transponders) or simply deactivating it and then claiming it is malfunctioning. In the end, they decide to operate legally and in open (which is a massive relief to Haank.) Onto Corfu they go.

Upon arrival six days later, they immediately start receiving warnings from a jump beacon about this being a quarantine zone. A local Imperium system patrol boat races toward them, transmitting an order to stand down and prepare to be boarded for inspection. This is to be expected, of course, and Gloval instructs everyone to comply as they surely have nothing to hide. Eddy grins and then disappears to double-check that none of their ill-gotten artifacts are openly visible. The Imperium forces board soon after and complete their scans – in the process, the officer gives Armin a strange look, as if he almost recognizes her; several of the crew note that Gloval tenses at this, then relaxes when they let it slide. Once the inspection is complete, they are directed to move onto the orbital spaceport to dock.

Upon approach, as the Aimless Pilgrim moves into their docking berth, the personnel on the command deck recognize a ship berthed next to them: it is the far trader that fled Focaline ahead of them. The lowlifes they thought were weeks behind them are already here!


Player Notes:

  • Due to circumstances outside her control, Loki had to drop out of the game for a while. Mel played Armin during the bar fight.
  • As stated above, we’ve started livestreaming our games. We play on Saturdays at 6:00PM Eastern and the live stream can be found at Ronnke’s Twitch channel. He’s also setup a YouTube Channel. Bear with us, please. This is still in it’s infancy. We have discovered that Twitch keeps the recordings only for two weeks, so it’s a good thing that he published to YouTube. With that in mind, I’ve removed the Twitch link for the “LiveStream” bit at the top.

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Escape from Focaline

Only moments have passed. A pair of vargr corsairs race toward the Aimless Pilgrim, their weapon systems charged and locked. The local system defense boat is well out of position, having pursued another ship which the crew now strongly suspect to have been the one that escaped with the abducted Lorain Messandi. Upon Aris identifying the ship classes of the approaching hostiles, Admiral Gloval decides to burn toward them and make a hard thrust to a safe distance for Jump; he expects to be able to easily outrun these corsairs due to the Pilgrim’s superior engines.

The crew report to their respective battle positions and, in standard Imperium Navy practice, don their vac-suits before evacuating the atmosphere from inside the Pilgrim. Long minutes creep by as the vargr continue to maneuver into position while the Pilgrim accelerates toward them. Haank makes an attempt to send a distress signal dirtside, but discovers that communications are being jammed; so much for calling in Imperium reinforcements! The command crew – Gloval and Ella – issue tactical directives as they reach maximum effective range and the gunners engage, though their shots are ineffective. Missiles are also launched, but these are easily taken out by point-defense systems.

With the Pilgrim continuing to build up speed, the three ships draw closer to one another and once more exchange weaponsfire; this time, Armin and Dawes do not miss with their respective weapons, and they brutally ravage their target. The vargr corsair is not crippled but is definitely badly damaged and loses several members of its crew; it’s return fire and that of its fellow hostile is utterly ineffective, thanks to the Pilgrim’s armor and sandcasters. This brief exchange of fire will be the last real shots of this brief engagement as the Pilgrim easily outruns the pursuing vargr, though they do have to deal with a couple of missiles hurled their way.

The 100-Diameter limit is reached without further incident several hours later, despite a false alarm in the galley likely caused by Eddy’s bad luck, and the Pilgrim Jumps, destination: Keng and then onto Heya before moving onto Corfu. On the expectation that the ship they’re pursuing is slower than the Pilgrim’s awesome Jump-3, the crew hopes to beat the unknown far trader to Corfu and then ambush them. Six days elapse while in transit to Keng and, upon refueling at a local gas giant, they jump out once more, reaching Heya seven days later.

Recognizing that they need to resupply, what with most of the landing party’s equipment having been blown up on Focaline, they touch down at the starport. Ella immediately instructs Eddy to do that thing he does and find out whether the far trader they are pursuing is here; he eagerly does so and disappears into the starport to make friends. He quickly locates a young lady who works at the starport and has a lovely evening with her; she agrees to keep an eye out for the far trader and they exchange contact information.


Player Notes:

  • We got a very late start as the GM was returning home from a trip.
  • As expected, the majority of the session was the space battle as we had to re-acclimatize ourselves to the Interstellar Wars space combat. I think it’s probably safe to say that the group is divided with regards to these rules; half of us dislike them, strongly or otherwise, and the other appear to like them.
  • Following the space battle, we sort of fast-forwarded through a lot of stuff, much of which we would later return to on our message boards, particularly the whole re-equipping thing. We might need to revisit this next session.
  • As stated above, we’ve started livestreaming our games. We play on Saturdays at 6:00PM Eastern and the live stream can be found at Ronnke’s Twitch channel. He’s also setup a YouTube Channel. Bear with us, please. This is still in it’s infancy. We have discovered that Twitch keeps the recordings only for two weeks, so it’s a good thing that he published to YouTube. With that in mind, I’ve removed the Twitch link for the “LiveStream” bit at the top.

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The Sky God

Upon discovering that both Ross and Professor Messandi appear to have been captured by local aliens, the crew immediately pick up the trail and begin to pursue with Kelso at the forefront (since he’s the most experienced with tracking and the like.) None of them are especially enthusiastic about traipsing around in the jungle, especially Haank who is experiencing withdrawal symptoms from his VR addiction. Based on their progress that day, Kelso is fairly certain that the ‘gogs’ are making better time than the crew but do not appear to be concerned about concealing their trail. Along the way, the crew disseminate equipment and weapons, with Buck and Ibrahim swapping rifles (since the former is better with the assault rifle.)

The day passes without incident, though Kelso is forced to forage for extra food to supplement their limited foodstuffs. Fortunately, the night is just as uneventful, and the crew set out once more come morning. Along the way, Aris also determines that part of Jim’s long-range and encryption communication module is still functional, which he believes can be combined with the emergency beacon to maximize distance while simultaneously ensuring security. It is decided to hold off on this action until they have recovered the professor and Ross. By nightfall, Kelso is convinced that the crew is gaining on their quarry – they are only a half day behind!

With food notably dwindling, the third day since the abduction of their companions is considerably more stressful. Everyone is filthy, sore and hungry. Haank is in even worse shape as the first twinges of his datastarve is beginning to really kick in; he’s holding on, but really wants a VR fix right now. According to their internal timetable, the Aimless Pilgrim should be in-system now, though they don’t know exactly where at the moment. The trail of the natives continues along the coast but appears to have turned westward, which Kelso hypothesizes might indicate a village of some sort.

Rather than a village, though, they discover a bizarre stone temple-like structure wrought in an almost human-shape (complete with dark cave) before which the natives who had captured Ross and the professor appear to be conducting a ritual of some sort, complete with ominous chanting in their native language. In the very instant the the crew exit the jungle and find themselves looking down into this strange tableau, they realize that Ross is strapped on an altar of some sort. Before they can react, the apparent leader of the aliens, adorned like a primitive shaman, plunges a knife into Ross’ chest!

Eddy reacts impulsively, crying out a loud ‘No!’ and charging forward, armed only with a vibro machete, while the others advance in a slightly more tactical manner. Aris, Haank and Kelso all dart forward as well, though in a different direction, while both Buck and Ibrahim take aim with their weapons at the native shaman who has just stabbed Ross. Alerted to the arrival of the crew thanks to Eddy’s cry, the ‘gogs’ turn toward them, automatically readying their crossbow-like weapons or maneuvering toward the crew. One of them seizes the professor and uses Messandi as a (literal) human shield while another releases the six-legged cat-like creature that Kelso previously identified as an aiyankira.

There is a sudden fierce flurry of fire as the crew open up with their weapons. Ella blows the foot off of one of the aliens, inflicting so much pain that the native passes out, while Ibrahim’s shot takes one of the shaman’s arms completely off and forces him to to scurry behind cover. As the aiyankira charges toward Aris, it comes under a withering barrage of fire from Haank and Kelso, both of whom inflict massive amounts of damage upon the creature. The ‘gog’ counterattack is weak and, in seconds, more than half their number are on the ground, dead or dying, while the survivors scramble to escape, especially when they see Kelso blow away the shaman scrambling for cover. Even before the shooting stops, both Eddy and Ibrahim start rushing toward the downed Ross; the former reaches him first and even if Abe had all of his gear, saving the man would have been difficult though the effort is made. In the end, though, Ibrahim is forced to abandon his efforts. He’s lost another one.

Professor Messandi, once rescued, is very pleased and then immediately distracted by the statue looming over them. Absolutely convinced that this will prove all of his theories, he wanders into the cave even before Ibrahim is forced to acknowledge that Ross is beyond his ability to save. Ella briefs runs herd on the crew – ordering a distraught Eddy to follow the professor, she then instructs Abe to see what he can do to patch up Aris while Haank assists Kelso in field stripping the now deceased aiyankira and Buck begins jury-rigging Jim’s communication array with the emergency beacon. She then follows the professor in as well where she discovers him (and Eddy) before a pair of statues and a strangely sealed door that, after a moment, strikes her as very evocative of a starchart. With that in mind, they are able to unseal this door, revealing …

The interior of a five thousand year old Vilani starship. There are two mummified corpses present who almost immediately begin disintegrating, having evidently been hermetically sealed for this entire time. Eddy begins exploring the small craft, pocketing some baubles that he expects will be worth considerable money. Upon one of the skeletons, he finds an iridium medallion which appears to be only part of a greater piece; he hands it off to Ella almost without thinking.

While this is going on, Buck successfully makes contact with the Aimless Pilgrim before demanding they go full secure; once they have done so, he asks for an emergency extraction but, when he is told that they intend to have the local authorities pick them up, he passes the comm on to Ella who then explains the situation to Gloval. After a moment of consideration, he agrees that they need to do this discreetly – thankfully, the crew knows of the sensor hole that they can use – and Gloval informs Ella that Armin will arrive within two hours in the shuttle. This gives the crew plenty of time to get ready.

When the shuttle touches down, the crew is waiting and ready to start cramming crates into it. After grabbing a tool kit, Aris and Buck spend some time extracting the memory crystals from the vessel, though some of them crumble and break. It’s the best they can do, though, since these are several thousand years old. Aris is hoping to get information from them if at all possible as the data on these crystals is potentially worth more than everything else here.

They lift off with Armin at the helm and, as they climb into orbit, her panel pings a few times, indicating that someone, somewhere was trying to get a targeting solution on them. Almost as soon as they dock with the Aimless Pilgrim, Gloval’s voice rings out via the intercom: all hands to action stations! There are two ships converging on them in clear attack vectors!


Player Notes:

  • Loki joined us again and ran Kelso during the fight since her regular character, Armin, was still on the Aimless Pilgrim. Armin became active following the fight but since that was the last 30 minutes or so, I stuck with Kelso as the active PC.
  • The fight took up the majority of this session.
  • Next week will be the first space combat we’ve done in a very long time; I honestly expect the majority of the session will end up there as we refamiliarize ourselves with the rules…
  • As stated above, we’ve started livestreaming our games. We play on Saturdays at 6:00PM Eastern and the live stream can be found at Ronnke’s Twitch channel. He’s also setup a YouTube Channel. Bear with us, please. This is still in it’s infancy. We have discovered that Twitch keeps the recordings only for two weeks, so it’s a good thing that he published to YouTube. With that in mind, I’ve removed the Twitch link for the “LiveStream” bit at the top.

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Things Get Worse

Having been captured by the waiting lowlifes and betrayed by Lur, the crew are divested of their arms and equipment, though the pirate types don’t bother removing their armor if it was just a bodysuit (as most of the crew wear.) Herded into an already erected camp by the armed Vargr, they are then forced to wait until Bren, the woman that Eddy and Haank met earlier, arrives; she is accompanied by a beat-up and emaciated Professor Messandi. Bren speaks to the scarred-face man – the crew learn his name is Taren – before turning to her prisoners so she can gloat. She did warn them, after all; Eddy being Eddy tries to turn on the charm, though it does not get him very far. She is quite pleased that Lorain is here since they’ve exhausted the professor’s capabilities.

While she is threatening them, one of her guys approaches, whispers something to her which causes her to look toward Taren and then nods to Lur. One of the crew, she says, is an Imperium spy. Lur, who is looming behind Ibrahim, draws his pistol and shoots Hal squarely in the head. The Imperium isn’t going to help them here, Bren says, before ordering that the crew be secured in one of the prefab buildings; she takes Lorain with her. Once inside the prefab module, the crew can hear a restraining bar being lowered into place, thus locking them in.

Immediately, most of the crew begin looking for a way out. Kelso is infuriated as two of his employees weren’t actually working for him. Ibrahim simply collapses against one of the walls and stares in the distance; Harmon’s blood is on his hands and Hal’s blood is on his face (since he was sitting next to him when Lur shot the spy.) Most of the crew seek out sharp edges to cut through the cuff-tape binding their hands. Seeing that Ibrahim is checking out, Ella crouches down alongside him and gives him a brief pep talk – they need him functional, not staring off in the distance – while Eddy and Haank interrogate Professor Messandi, learning that there’s nothing actually here. The professor says they also referenced another system that might be their next goal: Corfu.

Having been successfully motivated to participate, Ibrahim seeks out a long, thin piece of metal with an eye toward working it though the door and under the restraining bar; Buck likes this idea and assists him, so the two alternate between trying to worry the metal free. While this is going on, Aris closes his eyes and tries to use his implant to assist the shutdown Jim the Drone successfully reboot; he also utilizes the wireless capabilities of his cybernetics to access some unsecured hand terminals scattered throughout the camp where he gains a bit of intel, including some notes and local coordinates. In addition to the fact that Bren considers Professor Messandi an idiot who is not as smart as he thinks he is, he confirms the Corfu alternate site and learns that the pirates have identified a gap in the planetary sensor net that they’re abusing to fly in and out of the region. He now has coordinates for a landing field, but they’re across the bay on a small island to the north-west. This gap will open in a day and appears to remain open for three.

Night sets in with several members of the crew dozing off while Buck and Ibrahim keep working on getting the piece of metal free. During this, Abe persistently quizzes Professor Messandi about all of the Sky Raider stuff, mostly to compare the professor’s theories against those that Ibrahim has heard from Lorain; in the process, he sort of decides that the professor is not as smart as his daughter, though he does not verbalize this guess. Being a smooth operator, Eddy makes an attempt to engage a passing guard in convo but as he does not understand Vargr, nothing comes of it.

Buck finally works the piece of metal free and hands it to Abe who goes to the western door that opens up into a small space between the prefab and another exactly like it; there he works the metal through a small gap, then discreetly utilizes his half-trained telekinesis to lift the bar free while Eddy crouches next to him and offers lockpicking suggestions. The bar falls free … and in that moment, chaos erupts outside! Sudden explosions shake the ground and are promptly followed by lots of gunfire and shouts.

Opening the door, Abe sees a fallen Vargr just outside and quickly snatches the pirates laser rifle which he hands off to Ella (who then promptly hands it off to Buck.) Across a loudspeaker, an Imperium officer orders everyone to lay down their arms and surrender; Kelso, however, knows that this is just CYA and the Imps have no intent on taking prisoners given their notorious corruption. They’re just going to shoot everyone and keep whatever they find. This alone is enough to convince the crew to gamble everything and make a run for it. At that moment, the door to the other prefab opens, revealing Lur and two armed pirates, all three of whom are momentarily surprised to see them. Kelso bellows a battle cry and charges the nearest of the pirates, tackling him to the ground where he begins pummelling him. Buck promptly takes aim at Lur and the other guy even as Abe once again discreetly using telekinesis, this time triggering the magazine release on the nearer of the two’s weapon. Eddy springs into the fray himself, darting closer to where Kelso is wrestling with a pirate who receives a swift kick to the face. Firing on full auto, Buck hoses his two targets with a burst of laserfire, killing one instantly and mortally wounding Lur. Recognizing that he’s outnumbered, Kelso’s foe surrenders.

As the crew quickly snatch up gear, they realize that Lur is still alive though only just and, to the surprise of everyone familiar with him, Ibrahim coldly tells the dying man that Hal says hello before turning away to retrieve the assault rifle that Lur’s now dead partner was holding. To those who have memories of Abe braving hostile fire to save wounded enemies, this is momentarily shocking, but no one cares enough about the traitor to try and save him, instead leaving him behind to Kelso’ less than tender mercies. The surrendered smuggler-pirate is shoved into the prefab module that the crew just vacated and locked in. Now geared up, the crew rush the smugglers to the north where they presume that their gear is kept. To their horror – especially Aris who can vaguely sense Jim the Drone – something detonates against the pre-fab that is their destination, causing it to explode in a violent flash of pyrotechnics that throws everyone to the ground. All of their gear – all of it – has just been blown up.

They press on, still angling toward an untouched hovercraft. En route, Aris finds Jim the Drone, smoking and damaged but repairable. The crew scrambles into the hovercraft with Buck and Ibrahim taking the exposed outer seats while Ross climbs behind the wheel. With a muted roar, the hovercraft peels out and races away. Almost instantly, they are immediately pursued by two small military scout-skiffs. There is a rapid exchange of fire – Ibrahim concentrates his shots on the vital areas of his target while Buck nails the pilot of the other vehicle with a carefully aimed shot; unfortunately, the return fire from the pursuers’ shooters is particularly efficacious, riddling the crew’s hovercraft with rounds and badly damaging it. As the second scout-hover careens out of control (as it no longer has a driver) and crashes into a tree, Buck shifts fire to Abe’s target and repeats his previous shot, once more killing the driver; unfortunately, the retaliatory fire from the Imperium troopers rips apart great chunks of the crew’s hovercraft which sputters, coughs and then fails entirely.

Now powerless, the craft slams into the dirt and comes to a sudden, abrupt halt. Knowing that the first hovercraft spun out of control but did not crash, the crew seize what gear they can find and sprint into the jungle. Moments later, a dropship roars by overhead and unloads heavy fire into the crew’s now abandoned hovercraft. It explodes violently, which means the crew now have to walk from here.

Moving deeper into the jungle to evade the Imperium, the crew eventually confirm that no one appears to be following them. Ella decides they will set up camp and wait until the morning; it is her intent to head back to the smuggler camp and try to locate some sort of vehicle. As Abe is the only one capable of seeing in the dark thanks to his hyperspectral contact lenses, she does not want to just stumble around in the dark and this will give them an opportunity to rest. They erect the tent snatched from the hovercraft and then set up a nightly guard rotation.

That morning, the crew crawl out of the tent, confused as to why they overslept. Ross evidently failed to wake anyone up and, fearing the worst, they look for him but find him and Professor Messandi missing. When they find the tracks of several natives, everyone knows what happened.

Things have officially gotten worse.


Player Notes:

  • The evil GM took all of our stuff. All of it! And then he blew it up!
  • Loki joined us briefly and ran Kelso since her regular character, Armin, is still on the Aimless Pilgrim. She had to duck out early, though.
  • The chase evidently did not go as expected; per the GM, he was expecting us to get a lot further away than we did, but then, we screwed up the Chase rules anyway because the shooters were allowed to Aim when they shouldn’t have.
  • As stated above, we’ve started livestreaming our games. We play on Saturdays at 6:00PM Eastern and the live stream can be found at Ronnke’s Twitch channel. He’s also setup a YouTube Channel. Bear with us, please. This is still in it’s infancy. We have discovered that Twitch keeps the recordings only for two weeks, so it’s a good thing that he published to YouTube. With that in mind, I’ve removed the Twitch link for the “LiveStream” bit at the top.

Captured

The shot rang out and Harmon crumpled. In a moment Buck had sighted down his rifle at a couple of Vargr that had stepped from the jungle.

“Lay down your weapons, and no one else needs to get shot!” called out a figure at the top of steps leading to the ruined city.

While there were only five visible ambushers, Haank’s laser warning screamed he was the target of at least five other unseen assailants.

“Like hell we will just lay down scum!” shouted Kelso as he started to raise his rifle in response.

Click, and Kelso was staring into the barrel of Lur’s drawn pistol, “Don’t even think about it… boss,” he said with a cruel smirk.

“Again, drop you weapons! You armor may protect you for a moment, but what good is it going to do for the rest of your friends? Lay them down, if I have to warn you again someone will be dead.”

The look in Kelso’s eyes at Lur’s betrayal was like two hot knives, promising a painful demise if he was given half a chance. Lorain, looked upon the situation in shock and fear, willing Captain Stanbridge to order the group’s surrender. Ross could do nothing but try and keep Harmon from bleeding out. Aris stood helpless over the disabled body of his drone. Abe tried to move in an nonthreatening manner toward Harmon.

They were trapped. Like Haank’s, Ella’s laser warning system was calling out multiple hostiles aimed at her and the others.

It was obvious to her crew, she was more than pissed.

“Captain, I can hit ’em from here, but not before they shoot somebody else,” stated Buck, but Ella waved him off.

“Lay them down fellas, surrender your arms,” the words bitter in her mouth.

—-

The Vargr were rough and thorough, the crew was subdued-their weapons and armor stripped from them. Harmon lay dead, Abe’s hand covered in his blood. Kelso could only speak about his plans for Lur’s demise, and how he was going to have a grand old time kicking some puppies, at least until he was struck unconscious by one of the Vargr. It was only once the Vargr gave the all clear, did the man descend the steps to reveal himself.

The scared man moved menacingly through the group and stopped at Lorain, “Well, well, well… looks like we have the good professor’s daughter now boys. Maybe now, we might actually find something.”

He looked at the bound and disarmed group, laughed for a moment then, “Move them to the camp, I am sure Bren will be interested to see them.”

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River of Stone

After an uneventful night, the expedition sets out once more. Kelso theorizes that it will take them about three days to reach the so-called “path of gods.” A discussion is held regarding trying to scan the area for Lorain’s father’s DNA, but the realization that any such samples are many weeks old causes them to mostly abandon the effort here.

The first day away from the native settlement of Adlanayra is fairly uneventful although Kelso realizes some hours into the trip that they’ve deviated off the proper route for a bit. After yelling at Hal, the forward scout, for not using his inertial compass (which was eaten by the metal ants earlier), the expedition gets back on track. Fortunately, that night is just as uneventful, though without their fusion generator, the expedition is now definitely roughing it … or at least as “roughing it” as they can with such advanced technology as their pressure tents.

Day two of the swamp expedition is equally boring but that evening is less so. Shortly after camp is set-up, a pair of panther-like creatures referred to as an aiyankra lunge out of the swamp. One of them pounces upon Harmon, one of Kelso’s men, and begins trying to tear out his throat; fortunately, he is wearing armor which protects him from the worst of the savage beast’s red tooth and claw. As most of the group orient toward this sudden threat, Eddy is unluckily off by himself to attend to the call of nature when the second aiyankra springs out of concealment and charges him. The two beasts are quickly gunned down, but not before both Eddy and Harmon are badly injured, prompting Ibrahim to go into medic mode. The injuries are sufficiently bad to warrant surgery, but Ibrahim is unwilling to open them up and potentially open them up to possibly infection, so he instead injects them both with two doses of a particularly potent regenerative drug to hyper-accelerate the speed with which they naturally heal for the next twelve hours; it also has the side effect of knocking them unconscious for that time.

Following the ‘excitement’ of the previous night, the expedition sets off once more in the morning, hoping to avoid further craziness. Both the day and the evening pass without a surprise ninja attack. Throughout the day, Ibrahim continues to monitor his two patients to ensure that their injuries continue to heal properly. By that evening, the expedition are more than ready to stop and rest, so camp goes up quickly, but any hopes for an uneventful night are quickly dashed when Jim the Drone, Aris’ mechanical helper, alerts those on watch (and those asleep as well) via message that multiple bio-signatures are upon approach. As everyone scrambles out of their tents and readies themselves for a potential attack, the bio-signatures are revealed to be natives, likely the ‘hostile tribe’ that the expedition was warned about. Likely because they immediately hurl great spears at Jim the Drone, which infuriates the artificial intelligence driving the device and causes the A.I. to begin spinning up its mingun.

A quick but brutal skirmish ensues, with the natives finding themselves horribly, brutally outgunned. Despite this, they charge the campsite from two directions only to get mowed down by the relatively heavily armed expedition personnel. Haank, thinking quickly, darts toward the parked vehicles where he discovers that a small group of the natives has snuck aboard the cargo hovercraft and are attempting to loot it. He slings his rifle, quick-draws his pistol and fires it in their direction to scare them off. They flee, taking with them a few boxes of rations, and none of the expedition are willing to risk the danger of the swamp to pursue. They are only crappy MREs, after all, and for all they know, the natives could be setting a trap. When Kelso intends on burning the corpses of these aliens, Eddy protests and seeks out a shovel to bury them; both Hal and Ibrahim assist. It takes some time and leaves the three filthy and exhausted, but Eddy is pleased that they did not burn the bodies.

By late morning the following day, the expedition has located the so-called “river of stone” which does in fact appear to be a road of some sort. This road is most definitely not naturally occurring, looking more like an ancient Roman cobblestone path that runs north-west and south-east. After consulting the subject matter expert Lorain, the expedition opts for the north-west route which will carry them directly to the coast. There are no encounters along the way and, upon reaching the coast, the road abruptly vanishes; to everyone’s surprise, Eddy recalls that tectonic shifts could be responsible for this and that the road itself continues on under the water. Additional research seems to indicate that he is correct. Since night is about to fall, it is decided to camp here before crossing the bay before them upon the morning. Haank breaks out the scanners and detects some trace hints of human DNA, which is just enough to indicate that they might be on the correct path but not quite enough to confirm. Attempts to contact Lorain’s father via communication channels are unsuccessful, though there appears to be nothing failing on the expedition’s side.

The next day finds the expedition making the long transit across the bay. Despite it being a pleasant day, the trip is a long and boring that finally ends with them arriving upon the northern coast shortly before nightfall. Even before they park, they can see indications that something was once here as the road reappears. This “river of stone” gradually ascends to a set of broken stairs that are flanked by equally ancient pillars, now toppled and overgrown with lichen and moss. Beyond these stairs can be seen the tops of ruined buildings. Buck gives Lorain a look and asks what this is, to which she responds: “Tlaynsilak.” Everyone piles out of the vehicles and start to climb, though they hesitate when Buck recommends looking for tracks and Haank begins scanning for human DNA.

But then, a pair of shots ring outs. Jim the Drone squeals abruptly and tumbles from the sky, sparks erupting from where an EMP round has shut it down. At the same time, Harmon falls with a cry of pain, with blood gushing from the unexpected bullet hole. It’s a trap!


Player Notes:

  • Technically, we stopped a little after this, but the GM did a little prose thing that covers the bit at the end in the following post. No Player likes to be captured, so next week will be … interesting. Following the game, the GM coordinated with the group on our personal message boards and we ended up deciding to go ahead and pick up next week’s session after the expedition has been captured, hence the cut-scene.
  • We managed to get through two combats in this session, although to be fair, both were mostly us hosing down some people. Still, knowing how some of our fights go, it’s pretty cool nonetheless.
  • As stated above, we’ve started livestreaming our games. We play on Saturdays at 6:00PM Eastern and the live stream can be found at Ronnke’s Twitch channel. He’s also setup a YouTube Channel. Bear with us, please. This is still in it’s infancy. We have discovered that Twitch keeps the recordings only for two weeks, so it’s a good thing that he published to YouTube. With that in mind, I’ve removed the Twitch link for the “LiveStream” bit at the top.

Spinward Star, LLP

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Into the Outback…

Surrounded by armed and ready thugs, Eddy and Haank wisely refrain from going for their own weapons and instead hold up their hands to indicate that they are willing to cooperate. The woman, who will later identify herself as Bren, offers them a warning: drop this entire expedition for the Lost City of Tlaynsilak or things will go ill for them. Eddy makes a half-hearted attempt to bribe her, in the process learning that she works for a Mister Kalamanaru that Eddy has had some vague shady dealings with in the past. Rather than get gunned down by these people, the two – well, Eddy, really – promptly agree to pass this on to Lorain. They are allowed to back out of the alley without being harmed and, while doing so, called back to the crew, requesting some drone coverage from Aris.

Back at the hotel, the crew discuss this turn of events. Eddy reveals his knowledge about Mister Kalamanaru and Lorain grudgingly admits that her father once sought out the wannabe crimelord for assistance; knowing that he’s involved makes matters more complicated. While wealthy, Kalamanaru’s real danger lies in his more unofficial but lucrative role as a purveyor of antiquities that he sells on the black market. None of the crew especially like backing down even in the face of a threat like this, so they instead decide to simply just ramp up their level of paranoia.

With just a single day remaining before departure, the crew split up to accomplish various tasks. Acting on an offhand comment by Haank about Bren’s team likely being able to track them, Buck heads to the motor pool where their three rented hover vehicles are stored and, upon looking over one of them, discovers a tracking device of some sort. Although he initially intends to keep this entirely to himself, Kelso’s chief mechanic, Ross Carnam, approaches him and reveals that he also found a bug on another of the vehicles. They decide to hold off completely disabling them for now on the presumption that, if Bren’s crew note that their devices suddenly fail, they’ll seek alternate methods to track. He also has the unfortunate task of informing Kelso about Kalamanaru’s involvement; Kelso does not take this revelation well at all and instead throws something of a tantrum. Evidently, he’s had some less than positive interactions with the wealthy (and corrupt) merchant. Haank returns to the alley and uses his hand-held biosniffer to sweep for DNA traces of Bren’s crew with an eye toward programming sensors to try and detect them later.

Aris spends some time with his drone in an sweep the area where Eddy and Haank were accosted in the hopes of locating Bren’s team, but is unsuccessful. Unbeknownst to the rest of the crew, Ibrahim discreetly forwards a copy of Haank’s data to his contacts with the Agency using dead drop accounts; he does not expect them to actually act against Bren or Kalamanaru, but figures it cannot hurt. Finally, Eddy takes a cropped image of Bren obtained from Haank’s vid-stream and seeks out the Imperial checkpoint exiting the city; there he does that thing he does and effectively bribes a couple of the guards to delay Bren and Company should they pass through here.

The following morning, the crew assemble and head out. There is a brief moment of concern at the exit point when Kelso’s credentials cause an issue with the guards’ computers, but they’re passed out without any further issue. Eddy is given a knowing nod by one of the guards with regards to his earlier bribe and informed that there’s been no sign of his “friends” yet. Everyone heaves a soft sigh of relief once they’re on the go, although alertness levels are still high.

Many, many long and boring hours later, the caravan stops and camp is assembled. By this point, everyone is exhausted – strangely, sitting in a vehicle for a long trip is really, really tiring – and watch schedules are set. After eating, everyone retires to their respective tents except whomever is on guard. The evening seems to be going fine … until midway through Eddy’s guard rotation, when the portable fusion generator that the crew brought along suddenly flickers and dies, pitching the entire site into darkness. Eddy promptly goes to wake Buck, and the two begin to investigate and discover the generator is being swarmed by insects, massive metal-eating termite-like creatures! Lur Kalendrin, one of Kelso’s guides who was on watch with Eddy, exclaims that they must be stopped before they eat everything metal in the camp.

Shouts ring out in the camp, waking anyone who isn’t already up, and everyone rushes out of their tents to investigate. Haank, upon seeing the “ants,” promptly returns for his augment-glasses to bring up his survival tutor program, then seeks out an extinguisher, especially when Eddy’s attempt to stomp some of the metal ants into paste unluckily results in the creatures swarming him instead! Buck, armed with a cutting torch, burns away some of the huge termite-like critters and does his best to break their line leading back into the jungle. Upon being advised about the nature of the threat, Ibrahim takes Lorain with him and they check out the parked vehicles in case the metal ants have discovered them (which would be all bad). Eddy finds himself coated in fire retardant foam thanks to Haank, which does not amuse him at all, especially when Lur yanks Eddy’s jacket free and stomps it into the mud and dirt. Though it takes some time, the expedition is able to successfully drive off the metal ants. Unfortunately, the fusion generator is now slag and, given that it belonged to crew of the Spinward Star, Haank is more than a little upset.

The following morning, as the expedition resumes its trip, Aris puts the three of Bren’s trackers on Jim the Drone and then sends the device far in the opposite direction with instructions to find something strange to drop them into before returning. Thankfully, the next leg of the trip is uneventful and the expedition camps on a beach. The following morning, they continue, flying over the huge lake, which takes long enough that they end up stopping for a scenic lunch (while Kelso’s team check over the hovercraft to ensure nothing broke down.) It is at this moment that two huge water snakes lunge out of the river to snap at Eddy who screams out an alarm … though Ibrahim, who is standing a dozen meters or so away, is already reacting to the danger, even though he was facing away. The entire expedition charge toward the threat, but it is Jim the Drone who does the most damage as it unloads a burst of fire from its small rotary mini-gun that chews up one of the snakes. It takes only moments for the second to also be killed and Kelso loudly (and happily) exclaims that snake is for dinner tonight! Ibrahim, who did not actually fire his weapon, takes a sample or three of the water snake venom just to be safe. In an uncharacteristic breach of his usual composure, Haank reacted to the snakes’ presence by frantically emptying an entire gauss magazine into the creatures during the fight, and afterward, refused to even look in the direction of their remains until they were no longer recognizable as snakes—he had never spoken of his phobia before, but then, no one had ever asked.

Without further ado, the expedition continues on its way, reaching the outskirts of the native settlement, Adlanayra, two days later, where Kelso informs them that they will camp here overnight and then meet with the locals in the morning. Hopefully, this particular settlement, which has a reputation for being the least hostile of the bunch, will be feeling friendly. Kelso is hoping that the natives will be able to confirm whether Lorain’s father passed through here. Buck and Ibrahim both eagerly ask to be part of the team that meets with the locals, displaying their xenophilia.

The contact with the locals takes place the following morning and goes by without any hitch. Ibrahim is utterly fascinated by the creatures, especially when filtered through the lens of medicine, but Buck is less impressed. Kelso appears to speak a pidgin version of the local language and greetings are exchanged, as well as certain gifts including a finely crafted metal knife that Buck offered. Information is exchanged, confirming that Lorain’s father did in fact pass this way, heading west. During this brief cultural exchange, Lorain joins them but basically hides behind Ibrahim, using him as a shield from the bizarre-looking creatures. There is a strange reference Kelso does not quite understand, specifically a ‘stone path’ that several of the expedition theorize means a road or even a landing strip when they see the native’s hand gestures. This ‘stone path’ is deep in the swamp area to the west in the territory of a rival tribe and Kelso translates this as ‘path of gods.’ Having related their information and been paid with a metal knife, the locals withdraw.

Kelso turns to the crew: next stop … the path of gods.


Player Notes:

  • Mel was out for this session.
  • This is the first session in ~50 that Haank’s snake phobia has actually come up—and it wasn’t entirely deliberate on the GM’s part.
  • As stated above, we’ve started livestreaming our games. We play on Saturdays at 6:00PM Eastern and the live stream can be found at Ronnke’s Twitch channel. He’s also setup a YouTube Channel.

Spinward Star, LLP

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Six Months Later

It has been six months. Six months stuck on Porozlo since Monsaanti-Neogene Corporation brought some legally ambiguous charges against Spinward Star LLC. Apparently Monsaanti-Neogene Corporation, now the parent corporation for Rhylanor Capital Protection Services, found “improperly documented records” regarding the transfer of crew’s ship The Spinward Star, once called Proud Mary.

Everyone – the crew, the lawyers unleashed by MNC, even the courts – could see that this was corporate lawfare waged by Monsaanti-Neogene against the crew that had interfered with their interests and the presence of a smug Breyon Sodhii was simple icing on the proverbial crap-cake. Whatever dealings he had with Colby Dowe on Equus has been disrupted, so Sodhii was retaliating. While the case made its ponderously slow way through the courts, the Spinward Star was in impound, unable to even light up their engines, and even worse, the crew could not risk leaving the system, not with the legal sharks unleashed by Sodhii waiting for an opportunity to get a summary judgement that would result in them forfeiting the ship. Lawyer fees alone cost the Crew a million credits and that comfortable profit margin they’d been looking at was vanishing.

In the interim, the crew has scattered across Porozlo, seeking out whatever work they could manage to pay the bills. Ella somehow found herself driving a cab, while Haank acted as an independent freight broker who taught golf on the side. Buck easily found work in the star port as an independent starship repair contractor. Sam managed to land a ferry pilot job, though rumor has it that he’s already collected some serious fines for his showboating and aerial escapades, while Sae vanished almost completely after spending a few works working as a security contractor. Ibrahim seemed to land on his feet by finding work at a dirtside clinic, but he’s been mostly incommunicado since then, popping up every now and again, but always disappearing again. Crewman Jones cashed out of the company and left Porozlo, claiming a need to return home to his wife. Somehow, Eddy managed to show back up but then, bad pennies always do.

Six long and miserable months … and suddenly, things change. While on duty in her cab, Ella picks up a new fare and is surprised to recognize Admiral Henry Gloval, though he’s not in uniform anymore and Risek is a long way from his usual stomping grounds. He reveals that he’s actually been looking for her because he’d heard of her troubles with MNC and he needs a crew he can rely on. Unwilling to go into a great amount of detail in the cab, he instead offers to meet with her (and her crew) about a potential job.

The meeting takes place a day later in a restaurant where Admiral Gloval, now retired, introduces his niece, Lorain Messandi. As to the task itself, in addition to serving as crew for the Aimless Pilgrim, his niece, who is a xenoarchaeologist, needs some backup for what amounts to a treasure hunt on Focaline in the Aramis Sector. Gloval has some contacts in the local government that will assist in the legal proceedings; he even has some high-priced lawyers that owe him some favors who will counter the MNC legal sharks. Why does Lorain need protection? Gloval turns to his niece who gives what amounts to a lecture on Focaline, the local natives there, and a tablet that her father discovered that seems to show a local wearing a vacc suit and possessing an energy weapon of some sort. The tablet predates Imperial contact with Focaline by more than five thousand years and Lorain’s father believes this ties the “Gogs” (as the locals are known) to the Sky Raiders, a semi-legendary organization of stellar pirates who were said to have operated throughout the Aramis Sector of the Spinward Marches. While Buck and Haank immediately focus on the more financial aspects, Ibrahim engages Lorain in discussions about the “Gogs” and all of the relevant scientific stuffs; evidently, she’s extremely pleased that someone is more interested in science than potential financial gains. During Lorain’s pseudo-lecture when she uses “ancient” in reference to technology, both Haank and Ibrahim note that Admiral Gloval grows very wary, but neither man reveals their knowledge. Gloval admits that he’s principally interested in the crew acting as a protective detail for Lorain and, eager to get starside again, the crew agree, especially when Sam offers to remain behind to keep an eye on the Spinward Star and act as the liaison with Gloval’s team of lawyers. Also? He’ll keep an eye on Mia, the ship’s cat.

Several days pass as the crew put their affairs into order and assemble at Admiral Gloval’s ship, the Aimless Pilgrim, a 400-Ton Garretson-Class Recon Scout that all of the crew admire. There, they are introduced to other members of the crew: Enzo Arabejo, the chief engineer; “Lee” Uta’i, the pilot and navigator; her younger brother Marco who serves as a junior engineer; Armin, who acts as the passenger services officer; Aris Jelnan, the sensors operator; Kendal Easting, a senior engineer; “Jewels” Dawes, the master gunner; and the gunners’ mate, “Rad” Sherit. Ibrahim is greatly impressed by the presence of an actual science lab and intends to spend a lot of time there. Everyone settles into their new roles and learns the feel of the ship.

It takes about a month to reach Focaline but the transit is uneventful. Upon landing, the crew find that the 1.22G is rough and the planet itself is extremely humid which is no surprise given the tropical swamp nature of the world. As expected, the atmosphere itself blocks most scanning, but landing at the appropriate location is easy enough. Haank, as is his tradition, hits a golf ball off the ramp into the jungle upon touchdown, while Ibrahim gets a small collection of dirt to go into his collection. Much of the crew immediately scatter, either for liberty or other destinations, although the Spinward Star crew gather their gear to escort Lorain to meet with her father; Aris joins them.

At the Customs entry point, the crew encounter an irritating bureaucrat seemingly intent on screwing them, but Eddy works his smooth-talking magic and manages to get them through the checkpoint without paying through the nose. Weapons are allowed, but must be checked in. Lorain grows increasingly concerned at her father’s lack of response via comms, so they head to the hotel where they discover he has already checked out and headed to the dig site ahead of her! This complicates matters somewhat as the archaeological permits her father was supposed to have obtained are with him … which means the crew now has to obtain those same documents for themselves. Eddy heads out immediately, intent on seeking out some fellow ne’er-do-wells for the appropriate paperwork, while Ella takes Haank with her to try the legal route, thus leaving Aris, Buck and Ibrahim behind at the hotel to keep watch over Lorain. As she leaves, Ella makes some leading, suggestive remarks to Ibrahim about him and the pretty professor-in-training; for a smart guy, it takes entirely too long for Ibrahim to realize what she’s hinting at.

While Ella and Haank encounter roadblocks, Eddy ends up at the cramped, dirty office of one Jen Kelso. The two scoundrels go back-and-forth before agreeing upon the price for a proposal … which Eddy gets an okay from Ella via comm for. Kelso promises the proposal in five days.

In this time, Admiral Gloval takes the Aimless Pilgrim (flown by Lee and engineered by Enzo) to the closest gas giant in the system to refuel. Upon returning and being informed that Ella has everything under control, he then takes on several passengers/tourists with plans to jump to the nearby systems since running a ship costs a lot of money and having a yacht inevitably attracts high-paying customers. He expects to return in one month’s time to check on progress.

Several days later (and ahead of schedule), Kelso provides them his proposal which Haank promptly starts tearing into by identifying massive overcharges and unnecessary expenses. Sliding into the smooth operator mode, Eddy argues down the costs before they reach an agreed upon amount. It is still a considerable amount of money, but is no longer an insultingly high number.

While this is going on, back at the hotel, Buck notices a suspicious-looking dude talking to the hotel concierge with regards to Lorain before ducking out; without hesitation, Buck ends up following him after a brief detour to have a pseudo-threatening convo with the concierge. Ibrahim, who is sitting with Lorain as she argues archaeology with some random stranger, observes Buck’s departure and then suggests that Aris send his drone after the engineer. The presence of the drone ends up causing Buck to abandon his pursuit (as he fears it would be too obvious) and he thus loses his quarry.

It takes several more days to gather the appropriate gear. Late one evening, while Eddy and Haank are returning from coordinating with Kelso, they hear a woman’s voice that most definitely sounds like Lorain crying out in pained surprise! A couple of men appear to hustle a woman around a corner and the two immediately give chase with Haank automatically sending an alert to all members of the crew. Disturbingly, he gets a Do Not Disturb flag on Lorain’s line. They round the corner to find a number of armed thugs waiting for them and a woman who is definitely not Lorain removing her wig and peeling away a voice modulator from her throat. “I didn’t think that would actually work,” she says ominously…

And with that, we FADE TO BLACK…


Player Notes:

  • And so, Traveller resumes once more, although CommJunkee has taken the reins as GM for this “season” instead of Ronnke (although that gives the latter an opportunity to play again. And Eddy is always amusing…)
  • Not only is this the first time we’ve played Traveller with the new Fantasy Grounds GURPS ruleset (I think), but this will mark the first time we’ve livestreamed an entire story arc so … huzzah.
  • Although it is currently a Secret from the other PCs, in this six month period, Ibrahim was “recruited” by an Imperium agency and has been forced to become one of their operatives. His psionic abilities are no longer latent (although, to be fair, they’re not especially impressive at this point). In fact, he was specifically instructed to say “Yes” for this mission (Duty activated.)
  • As stated above, we’ve started livestreaming our games. We play on Saturdays at 6:00PM Eastern and the live stream can be found at Ronnke’s Twitch channel. He’s also setup a YouTube Channel. Bear with us, please. This is still in it’s infancy.

Dramatis Personæ

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Wherein a Battle is Fought .. and Won..

Leaving behind the fallen orcs, the adventurers press on despite having already marched through the night. Rather than press their luck and attempt to ford the swamp once more, it is decided that they will swing west around it; this will add, at the minimum, a half day of travel, but all agree that it is likely necessary. By the time night begins to fall, they are all thoroughly exhausted and camp is set with an eye toward concealment while maximizing comfort. That night, the keen-eyed among them can see distant torches to the east, likely on the other side of the swamp. The orc raiding party is on the march.

The next two days are uneventful if exhausting, with surprisingly good weather, but on the third evening, after the adventurers have managed to get around the swamp, Finn realizes that the torches of the orcs have drawn closer. He realizes immediately that this raiding party appears to be continuing through the night! After a moment of consideration, he wakes everyone else – they have to press on now if they mean to beat the orcs. Zistral is sent on ahead to warn Defiant as he’s the fastest of them all; for him, the castle is a mere three hours away.

He reaches Defiant without difficulty where he promptly notes that the nearby Galentown appears abandoned; upon entry into the castle, though, he realizes why: all of the commoners are inside the walls. While reporting to the officer of the watch, Zistral also notes a dark mood hanging over the castle and learns of Ser Dane’s death as well concerns about a missing family. The Delaneys, who consist of three adults and two children, vanished the same day that Ser Dane and the soldier Morgan were slain by vile necromancy. While Zistral greatly wishes to investigate the missing family personally, he is too exhausted by his long run so instead, he finds somewhere to rest.

Several hours later, the rest of the adventurers reach Defiant. During their forced march, they noted that the orcs appear to have split into two groups, though there is no immediate tactical benefit to this that Finn can discern. By the time of their arrival, all are filthy, sweaty and want nothing more than to find a bed. Unfortunately, as they enter, there is a great clamor and shouts of excitement. Finn initially thinks nothing of this and begins reporting to Ser Malfoy about the approaching orcs, and the knight listens with a strange expression on his face before asking to speak with young Sardock privately. His use of ‘milord’ should have been a hint of what is about to related, but Finn is exhausted and thinks nothing of it … until Malfoy draws his apart and reveals that Ser Dane is dead. Finn is visibly affected by this – and everyone who is looking at him can see this – but he wrestles his emotions under control. There is no time for grief, he says. They must focus on the orcs for now.

As he attempts to focus on planning for the attack, Finn notes how concerned the soldiers are when they glance in his direction, which is no surprise as he’s always been bad at hiding what he is thinking or feeling. Realizing he must assuage their worries or the coming battle will go ill, he finds an elevated place and makes a speech: “Men of Defiant, harken to me! I know your fears. There are many of them and few of us. Our greatest war captain is slain by treachery and only his son, the least of the Sardocks, stands in his place. Has the blood of Caithness bred so thin that a mere fist of orcs frighten us? We, who are descended from greatness, from the heroes who threw off the yoke of tyranny from the greatest empire known to man, from the crusaders who threw back the Vasar in their places of power before marching from those very battlefields to once more hold firm against those who would force them to bend knee once more. This is our home now. We run from no one. This is Defiant. We are Defiant. And here. We. Stand.

The speech goes over well and soon, the soldiers and commoners alike are calling out his name: Sardock! Finn tries not to think about his father and instead, buries himself in work as a distraction. He coordinates with Ser Malfoy regarding the defensive plan, urges everyone to get some rest, and in general, tries to be the best war-time commander he can be.

As most of his fellow adventurers find places to bed down to recover from their forced march, Zistral, with “Lord” Finn’s permission, exists the castle and ventures to to the Delaney house where he looks around. Though it takes some time, his search turns up the barest hints of orc tracks. This bodes ill for the family and he returns to inform the war council of his findings. Meanwhile, the deployed scouts have returned with word that the first group of orcs has arrived and are setting up a camp some distance away. At first, everyone worries that the attack will come immediately, but eventually, it occurs to most that the orcs also conducted a forced march and are likely resting to recover. With nothing else to do, Finn finally retires for the evening.

Upon the following morning, the orc warband appears. The second group has rejoined the first, bringing with it a pair of giants which is bad enough, but the sight of the still alive Delaneys strapped to wide shields under which a detachment crouches is far, far worse. Ilanna is the first to realize that the orcs are literally using human shields but word quickly spreads. Only the shield-bearers close toward the walls, marching in a disciplined manner that is far from standard with orcs and their intent is ruthlessly logical: none of the Defiant archers are willing to loose arrows at the orcs for fear of striking the Delaneys! Horrified at the thought that she might have to shoot an innocent, Ilanna instead looses a shaft at the nearest of the giants and her aim is true; the arrow strikes him in the eye and he topples backward, unconscious or dead no one can tell. A great cheer goes up from the Defiant defenders, but then, the battle is on.

The orcs skirmish forward, relying on range and cover to protect them, and thanks to their living human shields, they inflict some casualties upon the defenders. Seeing that the orcs are using flags to issue commands, Zistral exits the castle through a sally port, then flanks wide and runs down the flag-bearers. His speed and the surprise of his attack results in him emerging unscathed, though he is chased back into the woods by a salvo of arrows. Thorn, while upon the ramparts and covering with a bow, ensures that several orcs who were about to strike the centaur instead take arrow shafts themselves.

Suddenly, the orcish commander blows a horn and the gates of Defiant begin to open which results in the entire enemy force charge forward madly! Finn realizes that there are invisible foes inside the gates and calls out a warning in his ringing voice, and Arn reacts immediately by hurling a powerful and explosive fireball at the gates, which hurls one of the saboteurs outside. As one of the invisible orcs is pincushioned by Defiant archers, the other staggers to his feet just in time to get walloped by Haruki who is rushing to slam the gates closed. The gigantic Sahudi rōnin is able to easily slam the gates shut and bar it again moments before the orcs strike. Not expecting the gates to be closed, the orcs slam into it, their momentum abruptly arrested.

In the mad melee, Zistral (who is still outside the walls) lunges forward to free the Delaneys and get them to safety, which is a great moral victory. Thorn, looses an arrow at the giant, striking him in the elbow so he drops the boulder he was about to hurl, and then, Haruki, seeing a momentary opportunity as the giant’s follow-up charge causes a gap in the gates, thrusts his spear forward and up, blinding the creature in one of it’s eyes. As the orcs clamber up the walls, Lily Ballyhithe (who is possibly pregnant with his child) races up the ramparts for … reasons; he seizes her, gives her a deep, swooning kiss, then hurls her back off the wall and into a convenient wagon of hay before spinning to stab a climbing orc in the face. Arn simply hurls additional explosive fireballs that hurl burning orcs backward.

Seeing that the crippling failure of the orc charge as well as the stout defense and the significant actions of the heroes has put the attackers’ in a bad position, the orc commander sounds the retreat. As they fall back, Finn initially wants to charge forward in an all-out attack, but Ser Malfoy wisely points out that this is a bad idea as not only will it mean abandoning the walls and leave them open to a counter-attack once the orcs have gotten clear, but this might be something of a feint. Noting the wisdom in this, Finn orders the defenders to hold and continue using their ranged weapons upon the retreating orcs. As the attackers withdraw, the scarred orc commander thrusts his spear into the air, though it is unclear whether this is intended as a salute to a worthy foe or a threat. Finn returns the gesture with his naginata, but his is clearly meant to be a warning, especially as he bellows, Here we stand!

The defenders of Defiant cheer their victory, though two of the soldiers have been slain and no one else has escaped injury. Someone – probably Thorn – starts up a chant: Sardock! Sardock! Sardock! And soon everyone within the castle has taken it up. For Finn, it is a heady moment – he has led men to victory against terrible odds … just like his father – tinged by deep regret that Ser Dane is gone. For the moment, he buries these thoughts and instead focuses on interacting with the survivors, congratulating them for their personal heroism and great deeds.

Some hours later, as the warriors and citizens of Defiant finally begin to relax since it appears that the orcs have truly retreated, Ser Toby Kname returns, accompanied by Sloth and a handful of elves. Finn takes Thorn out to greet them, gesturing to the many orc bodies and informing them that they’d missed the excitement. The elf, who identifies himself as Nialdor, reveals that his liege has instructed him to reside in Defiant for a time to determine the feasibility of an actual alliance. Finn offers his hand and welcomes Nialdor to Defiant.

In the wake of the battle, Haruki seeks out Finn and asks to serve the younger Sardock, effectively requesting that Finn become his master so Nakasato would no longer be rōnin. Not quite understanding what Haruki is asking (since he doesn’t quite understand Sahudese culture), Finn accepts.


Player Notes:

  • We’ve started Live Streaming our gaming sessions. If you’re interested in watching during gametime, that’s on Saturdays, 6:00 PM Eastern on Ronnke’s Twitch channel. This stream is also on YouTube, although that doesn’t go up until some time later.
  • This marks the end of this particular run of Banestorm and it goes on hiatus. We’ll pick it up again … sometime.
  • The actual battle for Defiant was, as expected, a Mass Combat, but we really noticed how badly those super abstract rules gimp combat monsters. Case in point: both Haruki and Zistral were drastically less effective using the Mass Combat rules than they would be if we’d used normal tactical combat. I’m not sure how to actually resolve this sort of thing in the future apart from maybe running a tactical combat during it to reflect a “Significant Action” but that could definitely be problematic as well.
  • Once again, we’ve discovered that the placement of Significant Actions in Mass Combat really needs to come after the Choose Battle Strategy, because otherwise it just doesn’t make any sense. If you declare that your PC is charging a flag-bearer and killing him with a single, mighty blow, but then, the battle strategy chosen by your allied commander is Full Retreat which inflicts no casualties at all on the enemy, this doesn’t make sense. I think, in the future, when I run a Mass Combat, I’m going to swap those around so battle strategy comes before significant actions.
  • I think, in light of the above issues where some PCs are less effective in mass combat, I would have considered doing this battle differently. Using the Battle of Helm’s Deep from “The Two Towers” movie, if I’d been the GM, I’d have had the orcs have beaten the PCs back to the castle and the attack already be underway, so the PCs could be cast in the Gandalf and Eomer roles, arriving to smash into the flanks of the orcish attackers and hit their vulnerable (and hopefully surprised) commander. In fact, I’d actually planned on doing something very much like that in my final Casus Belli run, but the PCs decided to take a completely different approach, which forced me to throw that plan out the window.
  • As a result of these events, Finn is basically “in charge” of the barony now (so he’s sort of a stand-in “Lord Defiant”) though we’ll see how long that lasts. I’ve already stated that he is going to constantly be reminding everyone that Lord Kerin is the actual liege of Defiant, but I think it’d be amusing if no one pays attention to that which could lead to … interesting times when/if Kerin actually joins us down the road.

Dramatis Personæ

Wherein Prisoners are Freed, a Tiger is Loosed, and More Orcs are Felled…

After some quick discussion, Thorondil’s need to sneak into the camp to discover Erandil’s fate matches with Finn’s need for additional intelligence about the capabilities of the orcs and the two put their heads together to bash out a quick plan. First, Finn weaves a few spells to enhance his elven comrade’s stealth as well as allowing them to maintain telepathic communication. While the rest of the group (along with Finn) maintains an overwatch, the elf intends to sneak past the guards. Everyone braces themselves for the worst.

Penetrating the camp turns out to be relatively easy for Thorn and he expertly skirts around the patrols. He briefly pauses at a rudimentary stable and discreetly unlocks the paddock before pressing on. The guard watching over the horses inside never even sees him.

At the center of the camp, he discovers a large construction wrought of wooden slats and poor quality chains that serves as a sort of prison. Inside is an elf, a dwarf, and almost a dozen beaten-looking orcs. None of them truly react to his appearance, though Thorn pauses to gesture for them to remain silent. He then continues to stealth toward the large, central structure that he suspects to be the chief’s hut.

Inside this hut, he is startled to discover a sleeping tiger who is leashed via a great chain. After briefly conversing with Finn via their magical telepathy, Thorn seeks out a lamp to grease up the stake that the great cat is secured to while Finn weaves a summoning spell intended to pull the tiger toward him. It is the young Sardock’s intent to cancel the spell once the tiger is free though he is hopeful that the great cat running through the camp will cause sufficient distraction to allow Thorn to sneak out. The cat jerks awake, then bolts out, dragging his now freed chain. Finn also asks the elf to seize any potential intelligence – maps, documents, etc. – available which Thorn does … right before he tosses the lamp against the cloth side of the tent where it quickly catches.

Pausing at the large cage, Thorn picks the rudimentary lock as the armcry is raised, both at the sudden appearance of the great cat and the unexpected fire at the chief’s tent. Only the dwarf and the elf accept the offer to make an escape attempt – the captured orcs appear to have all been thoroughly broken by their captors and do not stir even a little bit. Thorn and his two new companions race back the way he came but are noticed as they near the paddock. The dwarf and the elf hurl themselves at the orc there, managing to down him in a furious melee that lasts only seconds; while they do this, Thorn frees the horses and slaps them on their hindquarters, ensuring that they will flee deeper into the camp and cause even more chaos. The three then continue their mad sprint, dodging and eluding confused orcs turning to the noises. Along the way, the two escaped prisoners take injuries but do not let this stop them.

Warned by Finn, the rest of the adventurers break from their hiding place and sweep wide so as to reunite with Thorn and his two allies. Knowing that a group of orcs are now in pursuit, the group marches through the night, exhausting though it is. Near dawn, Finn decides that they will ambush their pursuers and they find a likely spot where everyone finds a good place to hide for the moment.

The orcs are caught completely by surprise and, though they do mount a valiant defense, they are soon felled. Recognizing that none can escape, the few that break and run when the skirmish turns against them are run down. Once again, Zistral’s great speed allows him to easily catch up to even the unwounded orcs and, in less than a minute, ten of the creatures are slain with no actual casualties on the adventurer’s side (though Thorn did manage to briefly throw out his shoulder.)

Back on the road they go, this time intending on pursuing the raiding party dispatched toward Defiant. Along the way, the dwarf and elf discuss how they came to be prisoners and Thorn learns that Erandil is likely at ‘The Crater,” which is Bulgaren’s headquarters. Even worse, the elf says that Erandil is being experimented on by the foul dwarf exile. At the same time, Haruki chats with the rescued dwarf and offers to see to it that they reach Defiant safely; at first, both the dwarf and the elf are concerned that they have no choice in the destination, but it is quickly made clear to them that they are not prisoners and may go wherever they would like. Both agree to continue on to Defiant so as to debrief Finn’s father, Ser Dane.

But first, they have to get to Defiant intact…


Player Notes:

  • I think we were expecting some players to be out this week, but nobody missed. No game this week even though only one player (me) will be out; since Finn has become a fairly integral part of the narrative, my long planned Memorial Day weekend vacation has thrown a wrench into the GM’s plans.
  • This session went really long. In addition to Thorn’s misadventure in the orc camp, the GM kept having to break away from the game due to familial obligations and was, for a while, using TeamSpeak while in his car. And then, the ambush fight took a lot longer than expected.
  • Due to the above-mentioned misadventure for Thorn, he dominated most of this session, though not on purpose. As was normal for Gigermann, the dice were not kind so he ended up having to burn all three of his Plot Points while in the camp. In retrospect, if I’d been the GM, I think I would have had the other players run the imprisoned orcs who would rush forward and attack their captors, thus causing a major distraction that would let Thorn escape without too much notice.
  • I don’t think the GM actually named either the dwarf or the elf that Thorn freed. We jokingly took to calling them “Gimly” and “Legulas” and intentionally misspelled the names.
  • By my count, we’ve killed at least twenty orcs in the last two days (in-game) which is two full Mass Combat units. Go, Us!