The third act of Andy Slack's gaming blog

Just another week in jumpspace…

  • Starport Encounter on Mizah (p. 39): 66 – nothing out of the ordinary occurs.
  • Starship Encounter leaving Mizah (pp. 40-46): A large transport, which politely ignores the Dolphin.
  • Onboard Events table in jump (p. 56): 54 – holiday or commemoration celebration. Google tells me that April 23rd is National Sovereignty and Children’s Day in Turkey, on which Mizah’s culture is based; that’ll do.
  • PC Reaction Tables in jump (pp. 19-20): 2d6 vs 8+ = 10; no problems.
  • Starship Encounter arriving at Kov (pp. 40-46): No encounter. No piracy warning either. Quiet week, this.
  • Starport Encounter on Kov (p. 39): 22 – meet a contact who needs help. Well, Arion has no contacts here, Dmitri has mentioned one but the purpose of the trip is to meet him, so let’s skip over that and tackle it next time.

Jumpspace, 112-3401

“So, what’s the mission?” Arion wants to know. “It better be worth missing Children’s Day for. I wanted to see what Isabella does, she’d be a real handful in parliament.”

“Probably nothing, it’d blow her cover wide open,” Dmitri says. “Confed’s up to something,” he continues, and begins counting off factors on his fingers. “The free trader rumour mill says they’ve built a base on Bulan; they’ve built exploratory cruisers for the first time in centuries; there’s a military buildup at Kamat; and their patrols are mostly heading rimward past the Dark Nebula instead of spinward towards aslan space. What does that tell you?”

“They found something rimward of Bulan. Something that makes them want to chart new hyperspace routes. Something they’re afraid of, or worried about.”

“Exactly. And the Bureau wants to know what it is. They want us to go and find out for them. But first, I want to catch up with my old friend Timon on Kov; it’ll take us at least five months to get to Bulan and back, maybe longer, so a few extra days won’t matter.”

GM Notes

It’s intriguing that when playing Solo, less happens in jumpspace than on planetary surfaces, but you make more rolls. Not a complaint, just an observation. It’s tempting to skip over the weeks spent travelling, but I do want to keep up a cadence of weekly posts, and proceed more or less in real time, because it is giving me an insight into the setting I didn’t previously have – namely, just how long it takes to move across the map in game time. Space is big, even when represented on an 8×10 subsector grid. Such insights are one of the reasons I’m doing this.

Advertisements

Captain Degazio, XO, PO Harkness, PO Tarkov, Dr Moon Moon, Senior Scout Wivel, Cpl Pancake.

Eski, 098-3401

Captain Degazio decides there is no point in visiting Duduki, as it is an empty system and she wants more time on Bulan, so the ship jumps to Changa (or “Pirate Heaven” as the crew has taken to calling it) in the hope of catching the pirates who raided Eski – they must have gone either to Duduki or Changa, and it seems more likely they would go to Changa where they could sell their ill-gotten gains.

The jump takes until 105-3401, during which time those crew so minded start on week 2 of the current training period.

Changa, 105-3401

Wivel, acting as sensor officer, detects an anomalous cruiser-sized object in the outer system, apparently powered down. The sensor signatures don’t match any vessel known to Confed. After extended discussion the Captain orders the ship to conduct an insystem jump; opinion is divided as to whether the cruiser (which is approximately 50 times the size of the Old Musky) should be captured or destroyed, and if captured, whether it should be pressed into service as a cargo hauler for the nascent anagathics-running operation, or turned in for the prize money.

The crew use the opportunity for further training (week 3 of the current cycle).

Changa, 112-3401

Stepping out of jumpspace behind the unknown vessel, it is clearly of alien origin; apparently unarmed, it consists of three parts, a flattened cone at the front, a sphere in the middle, and pointed ovoid at the rear. It doesn’t react to the Old Musky‘s appearance, nor to hails, although close up it can be seen to have a slow atmosphere leak. The crew are in vacc suits or combat armour, and the ship is depressurised in case of combat. The XO has surreptitiously filled her vacc suit canteen with gin, and sips at it thoughtfully throughout the mission.

Captain Degazio and Dr Moon Moon remain aboard the corvette, while the XO leads Harkness, Wivel, Tarkov and Pancake, together with six fully tooled-up ithklur marines, into the ship’s boat, which parks near the cruiser’s atmosphere leak. This proves to be a large hole, which has been imperfectly patched by melting the bodies of man-sized insectoids into it. Wivel breaks a piece off for study, triggering an alarm as the gloop on the edge of the hole melts his spacesuit glove. He retires to the ship’s boat and bags up the glove for later analysis, drawing a new one from stores.

Careful observation of the edge of the hole reveals the that entire ship appears to be a large organic construct or life-form; there is no sign of pipes or wires. Captain Degazio hails the strange ship again, explaining that since it appears to be in distress, he will send over a boarding party. Dr Moon Moon chimes in that the ship has a hurt on its tummy and promises to make it better, arguing that as a living being it falls under the responsibility of the ship’s doctor rather than the chief engineer.

Pancake opens the cargo door in preparation for boarding. At this point, three man-sized insectoids, apparently naked to space, charge around the curve of the hull at phenomenal speed and launch themselves at the ship’s boat. Pancake blasts one with his PGMP. Harkness siezes the controls and dodges the incoming bugs, while Wivel and Tarkov lean out of the airlock and snipe them. Pancake leads the squad in firing from the cargo door, and as the bugs are unable to dodge, they are quickly despatched.

Harkness holds the ship’s boat steady while Pancake blasts an entry hole through the hull with his PGMP. Spectroscopic analysis of the escaping gas reveals there is a chlorine atmosphere inside.

Through the hole, the boarding party can see some sort of corridor made of organic matter. The alien ship wriggles in response to having a hole bored into it. The XO takes another slug of gin.

To be continued…

GM Notes

The Captain has a name now: Lt. Elizabeth Degazio. She took Persuade-0 at the end of the first training period, which I see I forgot to mention. I also haven’t mentioned yet why the crew call the ship Old Musky: They’ve hung a replica antique musket on the wall of the bridge, fitted with all the accoutrements available for a modern ACR, which they think is hilarious.

A party of seven is really too big for me to manage, and it was difficult to engage Moon Moon, Pancake and the XO. Things were not helped by the latter two having very poor sound quality – the others talked over them not out of rudeness, but because they couldn’t hear them trying to talk. I need to do something about this, possibly split the party again. It’s also clear that there are a couple of players who relish the technical detail inherent in Traveller, but the rest aren’t that interested. I may be able to fix that with some kind of handout.

We haven’t really used Traveller combat yet, and do I want to try that at some point. That will probably drive a return to Roll20, for next session’s boarding action if I have time to set it up. It may also drive us back to Classic Traveller combat, with simultaneous actions and range bands.

Just for a laugh, here is the Dungeon Master Preparation Questionnaire from The Lazy Dungeon Master, as I would have filled it in had I been asked…

What game preparation activities have the most positive effect on your game?

Deciding what the key factions or organisations are trying to achieve. A lot flows from that. Organisations are better than individual NPCs because lone NPCs have a poor life expectancy once the PCs bump into them.

What game preparation activities have the least positive effect on the game?

Designing new monsters, starships, and equipment – it’s very rare you can’t do what you want with something already in the core rules. Crafting detailed NPCs – the most entertaining ones grow organically at the table.

Thinking back on your most memorable and enjoyable moments at the table, how often were they pre-planned? How often were they spontaneous?

They are invariably spontaneous and unplanned. They grow out of either the interactions between the players at the table, or extreme dice rolls at dramatically appropriate points.

Thinking back on a game that went poorly, how much of the outcome was due to a lack of preparation? What could have you prepared to avoid the poor outcome?

Games go poorly when I break the flow of the game to look things up, usually in a published adventure. There are two solutions: Know the published adventure inside and out, and have detailed notes on it to hand – or stop using published adventures. I’m drifting towards the second option.

If you had only 30 minutes to prepare for a game, how would you prepare?

Read through my notes from the last session and the PCs’ character sheets. That tells me what would be appropriate for them to meet. Riffle through my collection of maps and find a couple of suitable ones. Scribble a few notes on what the PCs encounter where and why it’s there.

Where do you come up with your ideas for your game? What influences you as you prepare to run a game?

Ideas: The usual – real-life history, books, movies, TV, videogames, other games. Influences: What have the players enjoyed in the past? What have they asked for? What open plot threads are there? What cool parts of the setting have we not explored yet?

What are your most useful tips, tricks, and tools when preparing for your game?

Tips and tricks: Handle PC information gathering, shopping, etc. offline by email – this stops it taking up valuable session time and generates more ideas you can weave into current and future sessions. Don’t design if you can reskin. Hold nothing back – game as if you will never get another chance to use all those cool ideas.

Tools: Quick reference sheets for your rules and setting in a display book you can share with players. One or two copies of the character improvement rules, whether that’s a cheatsheet or a second copy of the rulebook; what players want to know most is how their PCs will improve, and when. Pictures of locations, monsters, NPCs that you can share with the players – keeping these in a picture gallery on a tablet works well.

 

What about you, dear readers?

“When in doubt have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.” – Raymond Chandler, The Simple Art of Murder

Mizah, 105-3401

Arion is sitting in the Kiraathan Coffee House and Reading Rooms, known affectionately among the kith as “the K”, trying to make one coffee last an hour and a half while he waits for his contact.

It’s been almost a week now since he was officially fired and unofficially transferred to a Bureau that doesn’t officially exist – a process he now knows the CSB call ‘sheep-dipping’. He’s still wearing his Surveyor’s smart jacket, but its processor has been instructed not to show the Great Archive patches any more; he has settled for looping a video clip of a sunny beach across his torso.

His Augmented Reality processor, recently upgraded to military specifications, tags the thin, bald man approaching the door at a run as his contact, labelling him “Dmitri”. A flashing red icon draws his attention to the pistol in Dmitri’s right hand.

Dmitri glances back over his shoulder as he opens the glass door between the two large plate glass windows fronting the K and makes a beeline for Arion.

“Arion,” he says. “No time to explain. With me.” He looks around for a way out.

“Ray,” calls Arion, “OK to use the back door?”

Ray considers for a moment. It looks like there’s going to be a gunfight if he says “no”, and antique books and glass bottles don’t play nicely with fast-moving lead slugs. He nods his head in the direction of the concealed exit, intended for kith in just such a situation.

Arion leads Dmitri out through the hidden door seconds before two hard-looking men in formal dress burst through the front door and scan the K.

“Anyone just come in?” they want to know.

Ray shrugs. “Nobody here, is there? What can I get you?”

“Must’ve kept running,” says one to the other. “That way!” And with that, they take off out of the K and down the street.

Another customer, sitting quietly in the corner diagonally opposite Arion’s former seat, taps his ear and speaks.

“Captain,” he says, “It’s me. A bald guy just met Arion, they both left in a hurry. Two big guys chasing them. Uploading video now.” There’s a pause while he listens to the response, then: “Understood. I’m on the move.”

-o0o-

The K is in the Charsi district of Mizah’s capital city, Zonguldak, where the kith gather for mutual support and comprehension; 25 kilometres from the starport by monorail. Arion and Dmitri sink into the soft cushions and watch the giant beetle-analogues in the nature reserve below as the train speeds past. Some adventurous tourists are riding beetles through the forest, laughing and pointing. In the distance, the opulent coastal estates of celebrities and merchant princes can be seen. The pair have agreed not to discuss anything further until they are aboard ship.

Neither has noticed the nondescript man at the far end of their carriage, seemingly engrossed in the scenery outside.

Reaching the starport, Arion leads his new colleague to the hardstand where the Dolphin is parked, then aboard ship and into what passes for the crew lounge.

“Have a seat,” Arions says. “Now, what’s going on, exactly?”

“I’m here on leave – no, really, even spies get time off occasionally. I’m in the hotel restaurant eating breakfast, last one before I brief you and we head off, and those two turn up and try to drag me away. I run for the K to meet you and get offworld, which incidentally we should do right now.”

“These thugs: Any idea who they are, or why they want you?”

“You know, in all the excitement I forgot to ask them,” Dmitri grins. “But they were carrying ayloi, did you notice that? Cultural aslan, and a long way from home. How soon can you lift?”

“As soon as I get clearance. Come on.” Arion leads the way to the ship’s bridge. “Anything you need to get before we go? Because if there is, learn to live without it.”

“No, I’m fine, thanks. Set a course for Kov, I have a contact there. Maybe he can shed some light on things. I’ll brief you on what we’re supposed to be doing once we’ve jumped.”

-o0o-

Meanwhile, in an office somewhere, the two goons are reporting to a figure hidden in shadows.

“So, you lost him?” It is a patrician voice, tinged with arrogance. The owner may be stroking a white cat in the shadows, who can tell?

“Yes, Mr Schrodinger.” Schrodinger sighs.

“We will discuss your failure later; time is of the essence and there is still a chance to recover the situation. Either our target has a safe house somewhere nearby, or he will try to get offplanet. If you had thought to check the ships currently in port, you would have noticed a detached duty scoutship called the Dolphin. I trust a peaceful solution will be possible; detached duty scouts are either spies, and thus by nature duplicitous; or poor; or both. Go there and offer him a large amount of money to hand over the target.”

The goons look at each other in surprise. The figure in the shadows laughs.

“Gentlemen, I said offer him a large amount of money. I said nothing about actually giving him a large amount of money. I trust you can fill in the gaps? Good. Be about it.”

GM Notes

A re-imagining of Arion’s first appearance on the blog, some years ago now. Re-reading the first couple of posts reveal they are much less exciting than the vivid imagery in my head, so I tried to do better this time. This is still setup for the next arc, so no dice rolls required.

In hindsight, maybe I should have started off with Arion, Coriander and Dmitri already travelling together, and used Savage Worlds Interludes to reveal how they met in flashback. It took me a long time to understand interludes; they serve to flesh out character backstories in the same way as flashbacks in movies and TV shows.

The most memorable example for me is from the Leverage episode The Two Horse Job; a girl complains to the team’s ‘hitter’ that he never showed up for their date, and asks where he was. “I was busy,” he says, and we cut to a flashback a few seconds long, showing him being dragged along a dark corridor by two soldiers, who are shouting at him in Korean: “Where’s the monkey? WHERE’S THE MONKEY?”

As well as generating a plot hook for later, this sort of thing gives insight into the heroes’ characters, shows they have lives outside their adventures, and helps create the illusion that the world moves on even when the players aren’t looking.

Schrodinger, meanwhile, is so called because he may (or may not) have a cat.

“Prepare only what most benefits your game.” – Michael E. Shea

I’m feeling rebellious at the moment, so instead of Hostile or Fringeworthy, I picked this for my purchase in the second quarter of 2018. We’ll get back to Infinity shortly.

TL:DR

This short book (98 pages) aims to help experienced dungeon masters run more dynamic, more exciting games by spending less time preparing for them. That sounds counter-intuitive, but Shea makes a strong case for it.

Could I Do This With What I Already Have?

Yes, in principle; most of this information is available elsewhere, either in books or on the internet. What The Lazy Dungeon Master does is pull that together into a short, easily-accessible format, and focus it tightly on dungeon mastering.

Tell Me More

The book has 23 short chapters, each 2-3 pages long, each covering a key idea. These are followed by three appendices, which provide a Lazy Dungeon Master’s Toolkit, an analysis of the survey of 817 dungeon masters from which these ideas were primarily drawn, and questionnaires filled in by ten D&D luminaries on how they run games.

Some of the key ideas:

  • Prepare only what most benefits your game.
  • Most preparation activity is not used, not needed, or tempts the GM to railroad the players to make sure they see the fruits of his labours.
  • Focus on where the adventure begins, three places the PCs might go next, and three key NPCs and their plans. Link the adventure to the PCs’ backgrounds and goals, and what your players like doing.
  • Keep your notes short and punchy. Keep the campaign short and punchy, too; shorter campaigns are less likely to get the plot tangled up in complications.
  • Steal from everywhere; books, movies, other games, TV. Players will ignore or destroy most of your homebrew stuff anyway.
  • Delegate to your players. (I especially like the idea of the designated rules lawyer, granted delegated authority to resolve rules disputes.)

These, and the others, and the detailed tips on how to implement them, are all things I have groped towards over the years. It’s handy to have them in one place.

Appendix A, the toolkit, has a lot of tables you can roll a d20 on to get adventure seeds, locations, NPCs, terrain effects, relationships between PCs and whatnot. I would probably browse these for inspiration rather than rolling dice. They vary from bland to interesting, but I suspect that’s a matter of personal taste.

Appendix B, the survey results, has statistics about how often dungeon masters run their games, how much time they spend in preparation, how long a session lasts and so on. Those interest me because… errm, because I need to get out more, I expect. The average dungeon master, it seems, runs a game weekly and spends 1-3 hours preparing for it.

Appendix C, the questionnaire, has one questionnaire and ten peoples’ answers to it. Tell you what, I’ll post my answers next week.

“There are 106 miles to Chicago, we have a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses.” – The Blues Brothers

This group (the crew of the Collateral Damage) now has only two of the original eight players left, and by the end of this session had ditched their ship, stolen another one, and disappeared into the Big Dark. This session laid the groundwork for a soft reboot of the campaign, as you will see.

While we’re at it, let’s shake up the format of session writeups.

What the Players Said

“Thanks for the game, Andy, you put a lot of work in on that scenario.”

Game Prep

Actually, no, I didn’t put a lot of work in. Here’s how I did it…

The loss of the last two players had left the crew with no pilot and no medic, so they needed new blood; I decided to make these wild cards so that their party has about the right power level for published scenarios, which are usually designed for 4-6 players. I pulled the Pilot and Scientist archetypes from the core Savage Worlds rules, edited the skills a little, and used Gold & Glory: Seven Deadly Dungeons to determine their genders and Hindrances; both are human females, according to the cards, and the crew now includes an arrogant, big-mouthed pilot and a medic with bad luck who is all thumbs. The players dubbed them Germaine and Dr Zed. Why Germaine, I asked them. “It isn’t germane,” they said. I walked into that one.

I had asked the players by email what their intentions were before the session. Dyson wanted more parts to buff the ship. Big Ted wanted loot and more guns. They finished the last session on Toyis, a world where civilisation collapsed centuries ago and which is now dominated by the descendants of genetically-engineered flying housecats (I borrowed this planet from the Bulldogs! supplement Ports of Call). So somewhere nearby is the pre-collapse starport, buried under 600 years of jungle growth; their ship is built from the same blueprints that tramp freighters used before the collapse, so the parts should fit. The players agreed that looting the old star port would make a good adventure.

Thinking about this, I decided that their opposition would be a pirate crew also looking for parts, and feral descendants of starport security’s genetically-engineered infantry weapons – stiff lizards using puffs of steam to fire flesh-boring beetles (which I lifted from Harry Harrison’s novel East of Eden). That took about 15 minutes.

It seemed a bit thin, though, so I pulled some maps from my games collection; GEV, which I used for the area around the starport, and White Dwarf 43, from which I extracted the maps for the Type C starport, the scout base, and the parkbays. I’ve observed over the years that detailed maps can be counted on to fill out a session – first, the players spend some time looking at and discussing the map, and second, they pounce on details on the map and come up with plans to explore and ideas for what might be in each location. (“We should check out the telemetry shack, it probably has some electronics components we can use.”) By following these hints, you avoid having to prepare the treasure and also make the players feel good because their plan worked.

That took about an hour, because I scanned the maps and tidied them up on the computer. However, while I was doing that I decided on the plotlines and maps for two followup scenarios in case we had time left over and sorted out the maps for those as well, so actually only 20 minutes prep for this particular scenario.

Encounters? Grab some standard Savage Worlds items from the core rulebook and reskin them; the pirates are Soldiers led by Wild Card Experienced Soldiers, the lizards are Venomous Snakes with ranged attacks. Less than a minute, because I have the rulebook with me, I just need to decided which monsters to use.

Total prep time: 35 minutes for this scenario, and an extra 40 minutes for two backup scenarios.

How It Went

The players decided to start with the scout base, expecting guns and armour in the security areas, and dungeon-crawled their way through it. They were disappointed with the paucity of lethal toys in the Marine barracks, so I threw them a fish in the form of a disabled suit of powered armour, which Dyson will try to fix up before the next session. They moved on to the defence stores, encountering the feral lizards. They blew these up with Big Ted’s plasma gun, which is thankfully starting to run low on ammo. I threw a couple of pirates at them; they gunned these down, but not before losing both their flying cats (local thugs they had hired as scouts), one roasted by a laser rifle in mid-air, and one who fled because he hadn’t signed up for that. Big Ted ate the dead cat, but failed his Vigour roll and threw up at the smell of singed fur. (This led to an extended discussion of the Srinivasan Effect and why being hit with a laser weapon is not as clinical as you might think.)

They made their way south towards the repair yard, encountering small groups of pirates each time they seemed to lose focus. They kept trying to capture pirates for interrogation, but failed; usually because they overdid the damage output, but once because Dr Zed rolled snake eyes when healing an incapacitated pirate. They thought that was hilarious, so let it stand rather than using her bennies to reroll. On the way, they also recovered their missing flying cat, White Star, an arrogant, lazy, greedy creature.

Eventually they found the pirate ship grounded in a clearing. They decided it was in better shape than their own, so came up with a cunning plan to board it and seize control, killing all the crew but one, who seemed amenable to working under new management.

Finding the repair yards already picked clean, they flew off in their new ship, which they have called the Rattenbury Ghost. They quickly decided that this would be a good point to resign informally from their current employer and set off as self-employed free traders and/or pirates, so stripped their old ship of everything useful and loaded it onto the new one to be used for upgrades. They persuaded White Star to come with them as the ship’s cat.

Wrapup

The end of one session is a good place to start the prep for the next, by asking the players a few questions. Their decisions during the session indicated to me that they are ready for a change of pace.

What next? I asked. Hire some crew, they said; they have one pilot, one engineer, one medic and whatever the Hell Big Ted is; losing a single character disables the group, as the characters haven’t cross-trained and have no intention of doing so. That sounds like a visit to a big starport.

What level of detail did they want in trading? None, they said. We agreed to run this off their Edges and Hindrances; at the moment neither has Poverty, Rich, or Filthy Rich, so they’re getting by, trading exactly balances their expenditure but if they want loot they have to adventure for it.

How did they want to see the campaign develop? An overall storyline, they said, and a star map so they can choose where to go next. Also, a bit more detail on the new ship and how their modifications affect it – we’ve been handwaving that so far. I have about three months before the next game with this group, so I’ve got time to sort all that out, including stats for the new ship’s cat…

“Thus we do disagreeable things, but we are defensive. That, I think, is still fair. We do disagreeable things so that ordinary people here and elsewhere can sleep safely in their beds at night.” – John Le Carre, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

Mizah, 098-3401

This episode sets up the next couple of story arcs, and as I have a clear idea of their general shape, no dice rolls are required. As Umberto Pignatelli says, you use the random generators until you have an idea, and then you stop rolling dice and run with what you’ve got so far.

“Arion bey, merhaba, do come in. Sit. Help yourself to coffee.”

“Merhaba. Teshekur ederim. And who might you be?”

“You can call me Aksunar Karagoz.”

“Interesting choice of words. Is that your name, Aksunar bey?” asks Arion, pouring himself coffee from the service on the man’s desk.

“Sometimes. Today, for example, it is. You’re sharp,” Aksunar says, waving a coffee spoon for emphasis as he sugars his own cup. “I like that.”

“Why am I here? I’ve been debriefed already. Several times.”

“You’ve exhibited qualities that interest me, and you are in a unique situation. One which, frankly, I can exploit.” Arion sips his coffee, makes an appreciative face at the flavour, and looks straight at Aksunar, raising one eyebrow in lieu of comment.

“What do you know about the Covert Survey Bureau?” Aksunar asks.

“What everyone learns at school. Established about a century ago when Mizah regained interstellar capability, used by the Archive to infiltrate offworld societies and check them out before the official first contact missions. Disbanded about 50 years ago because it had served its purpose.”

“True as far as it goes, except that we didn’t actually disband. We just got a bit more… covert.”

“I see,” says Arion, largely to cover the fact that he doesn’t. “And what do you do these days?”

“Arion, Mizah doesn’t survive because we hand out aspirin and sing Kumbaya round campfires. It survives because the Bureau finds leverage and uses it.”

“And this involves me how?”

“Captain Anderson of the Dromedary has made some wild accusations about you kidnapping Queen Isabella and killing her parents, on orders from the Archive. You’re under investigation currently, and the outcome will be that there is no conclusive evidence and the alleged crimes took place out of our jurisdiction, but your judgement is questionable and your conduct unbecoming, so officially you’re fired and the Archive disavows all knowledge. Unofficially, you work for me now, and we figure out a way to get the Dolphin assigned to you under the constructive possession rule. Your bills get mysteriously paid and you get to fly all over the galaxy poking your nose where it doesn’t belong and helping people in need. Your psych profile says you’d like that.”

“Just out of interest, what if I refuse?”

“We discredit you completely, seize your assets, and lock you up waiting for a trial that keeps being mysteriously delayed. Also, we throw Ms Talamantes out of the Tekke and tell the Rians where she is. She’s a tough kid, she might last a couple of months.”

“Well, in that case, I accept your kind offer.”

“You see? It’s all about the leverage.”

GM Notes

And so phase two of the Arioniad begins. The CSB harks back to my games in the late 1970s, and is mentioned a couple of times in my early White Dwarf pieces.

I did think about opening this episode with a quote normally attributed to George Orwell: “We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” Sadly, there is no evidence he actually said this, although it is certainly in line with sentiments expressed in his works.

Mizah’s name suggests it was colonised by settlers from Turkey, like a number of worlds in the Dark Nebula – I’ve often wondered if that’s why Traveller canon attributes early exploration of this region to the Turks. So when the PCs are there, I occasionally have NPCs drop in the odd Turkish expression, just to remind them they’re not in Kansas any more.

Tag Cloud