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Arion, Episode 48: Bad Cop

New Hope, April ’01

“Yeah, yeah, yeah… Tell me your story again, Metaxas,” says the slack-jawed detective.

“I already told the good cop,” Arion points out, “And I’m sure you were recording it all. Ask him, or play the vid.” He looks at the mirrored wall and says “Come in and explain it to him, okay? I’m getting hungry.”

“We’ve got witnesses, Metaxas.”

“Tell me something I don’t know. This is New Hope City. Give me five minutes and half a block, and I can find someone to swear I’m the reincarnation of the Great Winslow.”

We’re on page 57 now, and Arion is being questioned by (rolls a d6) Detective Kang, Rep 4 Zhuh-Zhuh with Rage who suspects him of… do you know, I don’t think he has actually said. This requires us to flip between pages 48 (Questioning and Arrest) and 70 (NPC Interactions). Fortunately, Arion hasn’t done anything wrong and has no “previous” in New Hope City.

Arion is now Rep 7 so automatically passes 2d6. Kang rolls 2, 3 vs Rep 4 and also passes 2d6, so we roll again, with a further draw counting as Arion passing more dice. Kang rolls 3, 4 and passes 2d6 again, but this means Arion wins the interaction and is thus free to go.

A basic wearing a nametag that says “Carlzen” opens the door and sticks his head into the interrogation room.

“Cut him loose, Kang. He’s clean, his ship’s clean, his crew’s clean. We got nothing on him except for poor taste in bars, and if he wants to drink in Berengei’s I say that’s punishment enough.”

Kang growls and points at the door. Arion rises, sketches a salute, and strolls out. Behind him, he can hear the thump of a meaty fist hitting the desk. That explains the steel desk, then. And the dents in it.

Character Update

No change.

GM Notes

…aaand we’re back in the published campaign, having just concluded encounter 4, which I think makes most sense as the involuntary encounter at the beginning of April.

Winslow is one of the more entertaining deities in Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire by Phil Foglio, better known for his work on Girl Genius.

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Arion, Episode 47: Space Truckin’

Deep Space, March ’01

With the start-of-month involuntary encounter resolved, Arion now heads back towards New Hope. Reading page 26 of 5150 No Limits I see I need to check for encounters – more on that below. Page 43 states in the description of hauling passengers (the current job) that there will be one PEF per ring travelled (that’s two in all), resolved using the Contact in Space rules on page 35. A few dice rolls determine:

PEF1: Slaver, Zhuh-Zhuh registry. That must be fake as slavers are always a Razor captain leading a Hishen crew. Fortunately the captain is only Rep 3. Looking at page 37, none of the situations listed apply, so we turn to page 29 and use the procedure for Friends or Foes; rolling 1d6 plus number in group gives me totals of 9 for Arion and 7 for the slaver (assuming the captain has the maximum possible group size, i.e. her Rep). As neither side has twice the other’s score, this sends us to page 70 and Talk the Talk. Nobody has an attributes that will affect the dice roll. Arion has Rep 6 now so is guaranteed to pass 2d6; the Razor rolls 6, 1 vs Rep 3 and passes 1d6. Arion passes more d6 so gets a “favourable result” and an extra increasing Rep d6.

“Uh oh,” reports the Dolphin. “Hishen slaver abaft the starboard beam.”

“What?” asks Arion.

“Over there,” says the Dolphin, projecting a flashing graphic on the inside of the bridge. The comms screen lights up with an incoming message; the video feed shows a Razor in the slaver’s command chair, surrounded by small, grey-skinned Hishen crew.

“Unidentified trader, cease accelerating and prepare to be boarded. All lifeforms aboard are now my property.” The razor speaks so quickly it’s hard to follow, eyes darting everywhere.

“Umm, no thanks,” Arion replies. “I already belong to her,” he nods at Coriander. “I don’t think she wants to sell me.”

“Let me think… ah, no,” Coriander says. “He’s the only one who can fly the ship.”

“That’s not strictly…” begins the Dolphin, but catches Cori’s expression and continues smoothly “My concern, is it. No.”

“Look,” Arion says. “Our ships are roughly the same size, you have bigger guns but trust me, I am a much better pilot. We could fight, but it wouldn’t be profitable for either of us. So let’s not, eh?”

The razor considers this for noticeably less time than a basic human would before replying.

“Agreed. This time.” The screen goes dark.

Arion looks at Cori and raises an eyebrow.

“Only one who can fly the ship? Have I no other value to you?”

“Not in front of the AI,” she responds.

PEF2: Trader, Gaea Prime registry, Rep 5 Basic captain. According to page 37 these acknowledge the Dolphin (a Trader) and move on unless I do something about to stop them. Let’s leave them be, shall we?

New Hope, March ’01

Back to page 26 again… It’s easier to resynchronise with the published campaign if I assume we rolled a 1-3 for campaign movement, ending both movement and the month.

The passengers and crew of the Dolphin tramp down the landing ramp and say their goodbyes.

“Didn’t talk much, did they?” asks Coriander as the two passengers fade into the darkness around New Hope City Spaceport.

“The less you tell people, the less likely it is you’ll have to kill them,” Dmitri opines.

Arion looks at him. “I am going to assume you’re not speaking from personal experience there, Dima.”

Character Updates

The crew as a whole has 8 increasing Rep d6; 11 for the job, -3 for upkeep on the ship. Arion has an extra increasing Rep d6 from the encounter with the slavers. Arion rolls 123455666 and increases his Rep to 7. Cori rolls 12222346 and becomes Rep 6. Dmitri gets 23333566 and Rep 5.

  • Arion: Rep 7 Spaceship Crew, Quick Reflexes, Resilient. BAP2, P1, melee, SBA. Lifetime Rep: 14.
  • Coriander: Rep 6 Doctor, Free Spirit, Smooth. A3, melee, SBA. Lifetime Rep: 15.
  • Dmitri: Rep 5 Investigator, Logical, Smooth. BAP2, P1, melee, SBA. Lifetime Rep: 13.

As the author says, there is no upper limit on Rep, but there is “Obviously Dead” as a combat result.

GM Notes

I am wondering whether it would be better to treat Coriander and Dmitri as Grunts for Rep purposes; it doesn’t make sense that the ship costs more to run because they are on board.

This is a consequence of me treating the two followers as additional Stars, which is not how the game is meant to be played. For further study.

Either way, it seems to be a lot easier to increase Rep in No Limits than it was in Fringe Space. Next time, we’ll return to the published campaign.

Arion, Episode 46: Job Offers

“When the ship lifts, all debts are paid. No regrets.” – Robert A Heinlein

Pontus, March ’01

Each month in No Limits begins with an involuntary encounter (p. 30). As Our Heroes are starting the month on a planet, I roll 1d6 and get a 2; a job offer, interesting. These are defined on page 44 and if I accept the job offer, the job replaces the next voluntary encounter, which will occur on New Hope after interstellar movement.

Page 44 instructs me to roll Rep (6) – 1d6 (2 again) for the number of job offers; four. Let’s see what they are, rolling 2d6 for each employer and then 1d6 for the job they want to do.

  • Joe, Confrontation. The Joe wants us to persuade a member of the Criminal Element to leave them alone.
  • Shaker, Find. The Shaker wants us to find someone.
  • Criminal Element, Find. The criminal wants us to find someone.
  • Joe, Escort. The Joe wants us to escort them to a meeting.

The first of those four encounters in particular is the sort of thing Arion would normally follow up on, but I am keen to return to the published campaign, so I decline all of them.

In narrative terms, I picture this as a montage, showing Arion moving around Pontus starport and meeting with a number of potential employers. In each case he shakes his head and cites the Captain’s Bond as a reason he can’t stay onplanet to do the job.

Character Update

No changes this encounter.

GM Notes

The Captain’s Bond is a plot device from E.C. Tubb’s Dumarest saga; it commits the ship to travelling a specific route and leaving at a specific time, with financial penalties for breaking that contract. However it applies only to a single trip, and makes no commitment on future ports of call.

In episode 47, Arion and crew return to New Hope, and face two Space Encounters en route. After that, we’ll be back on track with the published campaign included as part of the No Limits rulebook.

Arion, Episode 45: Pontus

Pontus, February ’01

Arion, Coriander and Dmitri find themselves in another bar, on another planet; this time, the Gaian Hegemony colony world of Pontus, and the bar where Cori has agreed to meet Captain Chapman of the Russell’s Teapot, who promised to hook them up with a patron.

This is a voluntary Chillin’ encounter (pp. 32-34) during daytime, and our heroes encounter 1d3+1 = 2 PEFs, one of which is the job offer itself. Rolls of 2d6 then 1d6 on the Class 2 Planet table on p. 28 tell me the other Possible Enemy Force is a group of Basic Joe Labour types, and my own group size (3) +1d3 -1d3 shows they are 4 in number.

Cori looks around, taking in a group of four ordinary citizens in a booth near the window before spotting Chapman and her crew, who raise a hand to attract her attention, and leading the others across to them.

For the first time I grasp why you might want to bypass PEFs. You’ve arranged to meet someone in a bar. You walk in, and there they are, waving at you. Is it realistic that you wander up to a group of total strangers and interact with them first? I put it to you that it is not, that you would in fact sweep past them and focus on the person you are there to see.

Pages 44-46 deal with finding a job. I’ve already decided it needs to be something that takes the Dolphin back to New Hope, where the pregenerated campaign continues, so I reroll 2d6 then 1d6 on the Employer and the Job Table (p. 45) until I get something suitable, because you can’t stop me, hahahahaha! Bypassing an improbable number of Criminal patrons who want me to persuade business rivals to leave town, I eventually alight on a Mover who wants me to Haul Passengers, taking two of his employees offworld, and I apply GM fiat to make the destination New Hope. That will be worth 11 increasing Rep d6; base pay of 2, +5 for the Mover’s social status, +2 for the number of passengers, +2 for the number of Rings involved in the trip.

“Hi,” says Chapman, before Cori can say anything. “Names are not necessary for this deal. This gentleman in the nice suit wants a couple of his people taken to New Hope – they are the ones in the not-quite-so-nice suits. You don’t need to know who they are, or why they’re going. What you do need is the eleven blocks they’re willing to pay you.”

“That’s a lot of money,” says Cori. “Two questions. First, why aren’t you doing the job yourself, and second, are we OK to land normally at New Hope starport, or do you want to avoid meeting anyone in an official capacity?”

I check the table on p. 43 to see if these guys are contraband – 2d6 vs Arion’s Rep yields 1, 6 and since those are not doubles, the passengers are legit. Passing 2d6 (Arion has Rep 6 at the moment) means 1d3 passengers (2) to be delivered 2 Rings away from Ring 1 – perfect, Ring 3 is where New Hope is.

“First, I’m going the other way – I have a contract I’d rather not break. Second, they’re not travelling illegally, they’d just rather their business rivals didn’t know they’re travelling at all.”

“Fair enough. When do we leave?”

“Now.”

Character Update

No changes this encounter.

GM Notes

It seems sensible for Cori to take the lead in this encounter, as she is the one that Captain Chapman knows. However as it turns out there are no dice rolls so all is well.

The rules refer to 1/2 d6 throughout, but I prefer to write 1d3.

Checking the rules, I see that the actual monthly sequence of events is involuntary encounter, campaign movement, voluntary encounter. As this is the voluntary encounter for February, I should have saved the increasing Rep d6 rolls until now; no harm done, I feel, since no more increasing or decreasing Rep d6 dice emerged in this encounter.

On this passenger run, we will meet two PEFs using the Contact in Space encounter rules, and possibly an Involuntary Encounter before we arrive back at New Hope. But first, the Involuntary Encounter at the beginning of March beckons.

I’m getting rather carried away with this, aren’t I? In hindsight the review rating for this game should have been 5 out of 5, I will update it when I remember to. The campaign rules for No Limits are certainly easier to understand and faster in play than their equivalents in Fringe Space. Although I think that had a better title.

Arion, Episode 44: Hauling Cargo

Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark –
Brandy for the Parson, ‘Baccy for the Clerk.
Them that asks no questions isn’t told a lie –
Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by!
– Rudyard Kipling, A Smuggler’s Song

Deep Space, February ’01

A series of humming noises deep within the Dolphin told the crew that the attitude gyros were lining them up on the jump point to Ring 2. There was plenty of thruster propellant, but the Dolphin‘s AI considered it a point of pride not to use any to dump momentum from the gyros.

“Contact on our six,” the Dolphin announced. “Looks like another trader, but it’s coming in hot.”

“Intercept course?”

“Maybe. It could just be heading for the jump point. Orders, Captain?”

“Maintain course and acceleration for a zero/zero intercept with the jump point. Dmitri, just in case, heat up the turret, would you?”

“Sure.”

We’re now up to encounter 3 in the preplotted campaign, and have an encounter in space on our way to Pontus. That brings the rules on pp. 35-38 into play. According to the special rules for the scenario (p. 56), we have one Possible Enemy Force, and a roll of 3 determines that it is a trader with a crew of basics from an independent world. According to p. 37, NPC traders meeting one in space will acknowledge you and then continue on, unless you specifically do something to force an encounter; attack, have a Chillin’ encounter with the other crew, exchange pleasantries and move on, or use the Friends or Foes procedure on p. 29. Let’s try the last one, shall we?

The pregen NPCs on p. 57 for this encounter include a trader with a Rep 4 Captain. Each side rolls 1d6 and adds the number of figures; 3 for Our Heroes, and let’s say the NPC Captain has as many followers as her Rep – 4. Arion rolls 3, for a total of 6; the NPC rolls 4, for a total of 8. As neither side has twice the other’s score, we go to the interaction table on p. 70. I haven’t found any rules for when other party members can be used instead of the principal Star, but this seems a situation where it’s reasonable for Cori to take the mike. She has Free Spirit and Smooth, which makes her pretty good at schmoozing people; both sides roll 2d6 vs Rep normally, but Cori rolls 3d6 and can reroll one die she doesn’t like; as the NPC is a Joe interacting with a non-Joe, she loses one die. I determine she is Charismatic, but that only helps if you have a higher Rep than the person you’re talking to, and they are both Rep 4. The NPC rolls 6 and passes 0d6; Cori rolls 1, 3, 2 and passes 3d6. As Cori passes more d6, the NPC gives her a favourable result and one increasing Rep d6; Cori can try again, and tempted by the benefits does so; this time the NPC passes 1d6, and Cori passes 3d6. Having succeeded the second time, she gains another increasing Rep d6, and the NPC can be recruited or give Cori a job.

“Unknown vessel at our six,” says Coriander, “This is the Gaia Prime vessel Dolphin, en route to Pontus. Please identify yourself.” She flicks an overhead switch to put the conversation on speaker; a year on the Dolphin has taught her where most things are.

“This is the independent trader Russell’s Teapot, bound for Ring 2,” says a female voice. “Captain Megan Chapman commanding. Listen, Dolphin, we’re running late, mind if we go first?” Cori looks at Arion, who shrugs to convey they’re in no hurry.

“Go ahead, Russell’s Teapot, we’re clearing the approaches now. Godspeed.” Arion rolls the yoke gently and throttles up slightly to go around again.

“That’s very civil of you, Dolphin. Look me up on Pontus, and I’ll hook you up with a cargo run.”

“It’s a date, Captain.”

We encounter one PEF per Ring, but the second one is also a trader, and I decide not to push my luck, so we exchange pleasantries and go our separate ways.

Page 26 explains that I roll 1d6 after each move; I roll a 3, so my movement is successful and there is no involuntary encounter at the end. The Dolphin delivers its cargo; everybody gets 10 increasing Rep d6 for the job, one for incapacitating an enemy in episode 43, and Cori gets an extra two for her smooth talking this episode. Everybody also gets 3 decreasing Rep d6 for ship expenses – I decide this should apply to everyone, as otherwise the rest of the crew will quickly build higher Rep than Arion and abandon him. So Arion and Dmitri have 8 increasing Rep d6 each, and Cori has 10; these are added to their Lifetime Rep totals.

Arion rolls 11124566 and as at least one die scored more than his current Rep, he gains one Rep. Dmitri rolls 12234556 and gains one Rep. Cori rolls 1122344556 and gains one Rep.

Character Updates

  • Arion: Rep 6 Spaceship Crew, Quick Reflexes, Resilient. BAP2, P1, melee, SBA. Lifetime Rep: 5.
  • Coriander: Rep 5 Doctor, Free Spirit, Smooth. A3, melee, SBA. Lifetime Rep: 7.
  • Dmitri: Rep 4 Investigator, Logical, Smooth. BAP2, P1, melee, SBA. Lifetime Rep: 5.

Contacts

  • Berengei, owner of the Brass Monkey in downtown New Hope City. Rep 5 Zhuh-zhuh Storeowner, Rage.
  • Captain Megan Chapman of the Independent Trader Russell’s Teapot. Rep 4 Basic, Charismatic.

Worlds

  • Ring 2: Pontus, G22.
  • Ring 3: New Hope, G22.

GM Notes

This is not what I expected to happen, but then that’s kind of the point. It does dovetail nicely with the campaign, as encounter 3 ends with the Star leaving New Hope with a cargo, but encounter 4 begins with him back on New Hope again. My answer to this is to insert an extra couple of encounters, in which Arion & Co. go Chillin’ on Pontus to pick up a cargo, then return to New Hope.

If I keep adding contacts and worlds at this rate, I may be better served by keeping them on a separate page.

Arion, Episode 43: Confrontation

“Remember, later: You wanted this.” – from Jack Reacher

New Hope, February ’01

“One last drink at the Brass Monkey, you said. What could go wrong, you said,” Coriander grinds out, as they leave that fine establishment.

Arion looks past her at the three guys talking animatedly and following them.

“Just three? That’s insulting. What do they want, anyway?”

Coriander concentrates for a moment, then says: “Me, basically.” The leader of the group frowns and holds his head for a moment, not familiar with the feeling of a telepath reading his mind.

“You’re not going to stand for that, are you? Kill ’em with your brain, or something.”

“Aren’t you supposed to protect me?”

“I’d be happy to. Just wanted you to know I think you can take care of yourself.”

“Well, I can, but frankly they’re not worth it.”

“Fair enough.”

This is a straight-up confrontation encounter with a group of sales clerks out on the town. First I check if it is lethal or non-lethal; one of them is carrying a concealed lethal melee weapon, let’s say a knife. It’s worth facing down these punks because defeating them is worth increasing Rep d6, one per NPC dead, incapacitated or captured.

Arion has Quick Reflexes, so counts his Rep as one higher than usual, i.e. 6. The opposing leader has Rep 4 and no attributes. It’s night time, so everyone counts as being in cover. The punks have advantage (50/50 chance). I line the groups up: Arion vs the opposing leader (Rep 4), Cori vs the second person in the group (Rep 3 and has a knife), Dmitri vs the last (Rep 3).

Turn 1

Both sides pass 2d6 on the Action table (p. 71, you saw how passing d6 worked last week), so the side with advantage can initiate combat by shooting, charging into melee, or leaving the battle board. They opt to charge into melee (p. 24), having no guns and no reason to run. Our Heroes are inactive at this point.

“Let them come to us,” Arion says quietly. “If they had any guns, they’d be waving them around, so let’s play nice.”

The opposition jeers loudly and makes a number of lewd suggestions.

Arion and his opponent each roll 2d6 on the Melee Table (p. 71); Arion rolls 2, 5 vs an effective Rep of 6 and so passes 2d6, while his foe rolls 3, 5 vs Rep 4 and passes 1d6. Arion passes 1d6 more, but is not using a lethal weapon, so rolls 1d6 vs foe’s Rep – a 2, so the foe suffers -1 Rep.

The second time, both pass 1d6 (a roll of 6 is always a failure on this table), so both suffer -1 Rep and fight again. Arion is now effective Rep 5, his opponent is Rep 2.

The third melee combat round sees Arion pass 2d6 and his opponent pass 0d6, at which point the enemy leader is Out Of the Fight. Arion gets an increasing Rep d6 for this heartless act.

Cori and her assailant both lose one Rep in the first round, another in the second, another in the third, and are both now on Rep 1. In the fourth round, Cori passes 1d6 and rolls more than her enemy’s Rep on 1d6, so that one goes OOF as well.

Dmitri and his foe both lose 1d6 in the first round, he inflicts a loss of 1 Rep in the second round; now he is Rep 2 and his opponent is Rep 1. Dima rolls 5 for damage, which is more than his opponent’s Rep, so that one is OOF as well.

A second turn is not necessary.

A brief flurry of blows sees the attackers all on the ground, unable or unwilling to continue fighting. Arion is still in good shape, but the others are not, so they hobble away into the night, intent on leaving New Hope in the morning. As they pass her opponent, Cori pauses long enough to kick the foe’s knife into a drain.

Character Updates

Note that because increasing and decreasing Rep d6 are totalled at month end, I need to track them between encounters within a month. The damage to Rep during melee wears off at the end of the encounter.

  • Arion: Rep 5 Spaceship Crew, Quick Reflexes, Resilient. BAP2, P1, melee, SBA. Increasing Rep d6: 1. Lifetime Rep: -3.
  • Coriander: Rep 4 Doctor, Free Spirit, Smooth. A3, melee, SBA. Increasing Rep d6: 1. Lifetime Rep: -3.
  • Dmitri: Rep 3 Investigator, Logical, Smooth. BAP2, P1, melee, SBA. Increasing Rep d6: 1. Lifetime Rep: -3.
  • Dolphin: Trader, Thrust 3, Firepower 2, Hull 3.

Contacts

  • Berengei, owner of the Brass Monkey in downtown New Hope City. Rep 5 Zhuh-zhuh Storeowner, Rage.

GM Notes

Notice that a lot of melee rounds can happen in a single “combat round”, and your friends can’t really help you during that combat round.

It looks as if it is possible for two melee combatants to hammer each other to Rep 0, at which point both will pass 0d6 and become locked in a never-ending melee which neither can win. Strictly, that would mean the encounter never advances to the next combat turn, so everyone is stuck. So if this happens I will treat both as Out Of the Fight, simply too battered and fatigued to carry on.

Arion, Episode 42: Chillin’

“There is always a segment of society that wants to hang out in bars and hire shady people to steal things from other people, or even steal other people.” – Interface Zero

New Hope, January ’01

“You seem very familiar with the local back alleys,” Coriander observes.

“Twelve years in the scout corps, you visit a lot of places. And to be honest, after a few weeks in hyperspace, you mostly want some entertainment, so you spend most of the time between trips in bars,” admits Arion.

“Okay,” Dmitri says, “We’re looking for people who are rich and morally flexible. Where’s good to find them?”

“I know just the place,” says Arion.

“Why am I not surprised?” Coriander mutters to herself.

“It’s called the Brass Monkey,” Arion continues, affecting not to hear her.

I’m running through the campaign in the 5150 No Limits rulebook, Maiden Voyage, to familiarise myself with the rules – it’s been a couple of years since I played THW and this ruleset is a little different to the ones I’ve used before. The first encounter in that campaign is Chillin’ (p. 55), which is based on the Chillin’ encounter type (p. 32). It’s an exercise in handling PEFs (Possible Enemy Forces), which are the THW version of random encounters. As I’m learning the ropes the next few episodes will be heavier on rules explanations than usual.

There are 1 + 1d3 PEFs, in this case I roll a 1 so that’s two PEFs. Per the scenario rules, I need to use one of those to meet a contact for a job, so there is only one to resolve. As I can resolve as many or as few of the PEFs as I like, I could bypass the PEF, but where’s the fun in that? The number of NPCs in the PEF (p. 33) is the number of characters in my band (3) + 1d3 – 1d3, which turns out to be 3. As I’m using the pregenerated campaign, the NPCs are already statted up; a roll of 5 tells me these are Exotics, which fits in nicely with the storyline – counting off the first three of the Exotic pregen NPCs, we get a transporter, a xeog smuggler, and a grath mercenary.

The trio enter the Brass Monkey and belly up to the bar. One of the tables is occupied by another group of three; a basic and a xeog, deep in conversation, and a grath with a lumpy jacket whose eyes sweep the bar like searchlights around a prison compound. They lock on to Arion, Cori and Dmitri for a second, long enough to assess the relative threat level, then return to scanning the other clientele.

As per p. 29, I now check if the PEF is friend or foe. Each group rolls 1d6 plus the number of members; the PEF’s leader rolls 2 + 3 = 5, Arion rolls 3 + 3 = 6. As neither score is more than twice the other, there is no fight as yet, so we go to p. 70 and the NPC Interaction table. Cori is the Face of the group, but the implication of the rules is that the group leader (Arion) handles interaction – this is a shame as Cori’s attributes would add +1d6 and have the chance to reroll any one die. Oh well. Arion has no applicable attributes, and is a Joe Labour interacting with an Exotic, so rolls 1d6 less. Arion rolls 1d6 vs Rep 5 and gets a 3; as this is lower than or equal to his Rep, he “passes” 1d6. The NPC group leader rolls 2d6 vs Rep 4 and gets 1, 6; he too passes 1d6. As the groups passed the same number of dice, they ignore each other. Probably just as well with a xeog and a grath involved. I’ll call the new world Pontus.

As Arion and Dmitri exchange glances with the grath, Cori and the stunning blue-skinned xeog female check each other out as potential opponents in a different kind of competition.

A brief discussion with a muggie zhuh-zhuh gets them a table, and they sit, looking at menus, while a human waitress brings over a large pitcher of beer.

“No sign of Berengei… oh wait, there he is,” says Arion, exchanging nods with a zhuh-zhuh who lumbers over to their table.

“Arion,” rumbles the zhuh-zhuh, “Always good to see you. Who are your friends?”

“This is Coriander, my first mate, and this is Dmitri. He’s… good at finding things.” The zhuh-zhuh throws back his head and laughs good-naturedly, showing impressive teeth.

“First mate, eh? I haven’t heard that one before, most of the high end customers bring their nieces, if you know what I mean.”

Berengei helps himself to half the pitcher of beer.

“So,” he says, wiping foam from his lips. “I hear you’re looking for a job, eh? Well, it just so happens I know a guy, who knows a guy, who needs some cargo hauling… quietly…”

The campaign doesn’t say what the cargo is or where to take it, but that’s easy enough to find out by rolling on the tables on pp. 42 and then rolling for planet class and law level on the table on p. 27. Arion rolls 2d6 vs Rep 5 (5, 6) and passes 1d6 – I don’t like the look of that so I use Extraordinary Effort (p. 10) – once per encounter a Star can roll an extra d6 on any table. This one comes up 5 as well, so now Arion passes 2d6 on the Hauling Cargo table and gets 1d3 = 3 points of cargo to carry to (1d6 = 5, 1d3 = 1) Ring 2. The world is class (1d3 = 2), law level (1d6 – class = 2), and controlled by (1d6 = 3) Gaea Prime. As the 2d6 passed were doubles, the cargo is contraband.

“What, to where, and how much?”

“Pontus. A class 2 planet in Ring 2. You’re better off not knowing what, but don’t let any officials peek in the containers. All up it will be worth 10 blocks to you.”

“Sounds good. I’m in.”

The trip is from Ring 3 (New Hope) to Ring 2 (destination). Arion will be paid 2 increasing Rep d6 (2), plus 2 per hull point of contraband cargo (6), plus one per Ring travelled through (2), for a total of 10 increasing Rep d6. That’s netted off by expenses of three decreasing Rep d6 which are the operating costs for a Trader class ship, leaving a net 7d6 increasing Rep.

Character Update

The Maiden Voyage campaign fits best into the campaign rules if you assume encounter 1 occurs in January, and 2, 3, and 4 occur in February. That means those 7d6 increasing Rep dice come in next month, and this month, Arion has 3 decreasing Rep dice for the upkeep on the ship and crew. I roll 6, 2, 2 and fortunately his Rep holds at 5, but his lifetime Rep is now -3. It’s not 100% clear, but it looks like everyone in the group rolls the same dice (p. 15), so Cori rolls 4, 4, 3 and is OK, and Dmitri rolls 6, 1, 1 and is now Rep 3 – note that although a roll of 1 on a decreasing Rep d6 reduces your Rep one point, you can only lose one Rep per month.

  • Arion: Rep 5 Joes Labour (Spaceship Crew), Quick Reflexes, Resilient. BAP2, P1, melee, SBA. Lifetime Rep -3.
  • Coriander: Rep 4 Shaker (Doctor), Free Spirit, Smooth. A3, melee, SBA. Lifetime Rep -3.
  • Dmitri: Rep 3 Exotic (Investigator), Logical, Smooth. BAP2, P1, melee, SBA. Lifetime Rep -3.
  • Dolphin: Trader, Thrust 3, Firepower 2, Hull 3.

Contacts

  • Berengei, owner of the Brass Monkey in downtown New Hope City. Rep 5 Zhuh-zhuh Joes Blue Service (Storeowner), Rage.

GM Notes

Gorilla gorilla beringei is the scientific name for the mountain gorilla, the largest and rarest kind. There are lots of theories about the origin of the expressions involving brass monkeys. Pontus is one of the children of Gaia in Greek myth.

That took me about half an hour overall, which I expect to speed up as I learn the game. As there was no conflict, I didn’t need the battle board. The pre-rolled encounters are a definite plus point, saving a lot of time. Unlike earlier games from THW, you can tackle PEFs in sequence, in an abstract way, and avoid any you don’t fancy tangling with; that felt like cheating at first, but on reflection it’s not so different from manoeuvring around a tabletop, it’s just a lot faster in play.

I’ll have to reread the rules and see under what circumstances other group members’ attributes come into play. There’s not much point having a Face in the group if she can’t use her charisma. However, I’m happy enough with how this turned out. So far I am really enjoying the game, to the point I think I may have underrated it at 4 out of 5 in the recent review.

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