“President Rizal is looking for someone with a ship to interdict the planet.”
Balestra Orbit, July ’01
“Are we pirates now?” Coriander asks, not without a certain excitement at the thought.
“Depends who you ask,” says Dmitri. “Out here in the 7th Ring, one person’s pirate is another person’s hero.”
“Keep your eyes open for other people’s heroes,” says Arion, “And remember this is the Ring where Bugs first showed up. We didn’t see any Bug havens in the polar orbit scan, but a cocoon ship could arrive at any time.”
Actually it won’t, mostly because I haven’t got the relevant 5150 books with me. Like most of Arion’s adventures, in the real world this is happening a few paragraphs at a time during my quieter lunch hours at work, then being uploaded into the next available blog post slot some days in advance.
Today I’m looking at encounter 10 in the published campaign, in which we need to resolve 1d3 PEFs approaching Balestra and deal with them as we see fit. There are specific encounter tables for this scenario, and some die rolls tell me that we need to deal with only one PEF this month, which turns out to be a Hishen slaver which wants to steal our ship and sell us into slavery. No thank you!
It turns out there are only two significant NPCs on board, a Rep 3 Hishen and a Rep 4 Grath. This is too good to miss, so I decide to try a Difficult Interaction with the Grath. Arion rolls 1, 6 and passes 2d6; the Grath rolls 4,2 and also passes 2d6. I’m not happy with that as it means the Grath will ignore me, so I use Extraordinary Effort and roll another d6 – a 4. Now I’ve passed more dice, which is a favourable result and one IRD, but I want to push my luck here and attempt a further interaction.
I want to be sure of winning the further interaction, so I pay a Decreasing Rep d6 to Sweet Talk the Grath (p. 20); I only need one, because with Rep 7 Arion is bound to pass all the dice. Arion rolls 2, 3, 4 and passes 3d6. The Grath rolls 3, 4 and passes 2d6. Arion gains an extra IRD (cancelling out the DRD from Sweet Talk) and can recruit the Grath.
“Incoming hail from the slaver,” announces the Dolphin.
“On screen,” commands Arion, and the communications screen lights up to show the slaver’s bridge, with a hishen in the command chair and a grath with an assault rifle standing behind him.
“Cease accelerating and prepare to be boarded,” orders the hishen in the Hegemony trade language, a pidgin of Gaean known as Gaea Speak. “You and your craft are now the property of the Hishen Empire.”
“One moment,” says Arion. “Where’s the razor? You lot always have a razor in charge.”
“I killed her,” says the grath helpfully. “And absorbed her bodily fluids for nourishment.”
“Shut up,” says the hishen.
“Mr Osheen!” cries Arion joyfully. “Gaea bless us, dear fellow, it’s been years since I saw you last! What have you been up to?”
“Killing my enemies,” Osheen explains. “And absorbing their bodily fluids for nourishment.”
“Mr Osheen, how would you like to work with me again? You could have your own stateroom, and an industrial blender. I know you wanted one of those.”
See that blender? That’s the Sweet Talk in action, right there.
Osheen considers the offer. “An industrial blender would simplify absorbing my enemies’ bodily fluids for nourishment,” he admits.
“Shut up shut up shut up!” cries the hishen. “You basics, surrender or…” his voice is cut off as Osheen grabs his head and squeezes, hard. There is a popping noise as the hishen’s head implodes under the pressure. Osheen licks his fingers thoughtfully, while Coriander grimaces and looks away.
“I have decided,” he states. “I will join your crew, since the hishen did not treat me well, even after I killed the captain and absorbed her bodily fluids for nourishment.”
“Excellent! I am delighted at the thought of flying with you again. I will feel much safer knowing you are on board. Now, do you remember the fluids you must not absorb for nourishment when you fly with me?”
The grath struggles with this concept, counting them off on his fingers. “I must not absorb the captain’s bodily fluids, the crew’s bodily fluids, the passengers’ bodily fluids.” He pauses for a moment, checking his fingers, sure he has missed one, then brightens. “Ah! Or the hyperdrive coolant.”
“Well done! That is everything. We’ll be over to pick you up shortly.” Arion cuts the channel.
“Okay, now we are going to want to give him a few minutes.”
“What do you think he will do with the hishen’s body?”
“Ah,” says Dmitri. “He will absorb the bodily fluids. For nourishment.”
“Bingo,” says Arion, but Coriander is not amused.
“Are you really going to have a grath in the crew? Are you mad? Did you see what he did just then?”
“Umm, in order: Yes, quite possibly, and yes. Cori, grath have their flaws, chiefly bad table manners, and they’re not much smarter than a rock, but they are exceptionally loyal, and there’s no-one better to have on your side in a fight. Look at us; a pilot, a doctor, a spy. If we get involved in a serious fight we’re not going to survive.”
“He didn’t look exceptionally loyal when he killed the hishen,” Cori points out.
“He was fine with me,” Arion says. “He didn’t kill me once in all the time I knew him.”
“Wait a minute,” says Dmitri. “Aren’t grath shot on sight in Hegemony space? How did you meet him?”
“In twelve years as a survey scout, how much time do you think I spent in Hegemony space? I grant you, we might want to keep him on board on some planets, but New Hope doesn’t care – there was one in Berengei’s the day we landed.”
Balestra, July ’01
As per p. 47, we can sell the ship as contraband for 1d3 IRD per hull point divided by the Class of the planet. I can also check for cargo and see the slaver has 2 hull points of legitimate cargo on board. This is a terrible place to sell anything, but what the hell, let’s see what happens.
Slaver ship: 1d3 IRD per hull point (3), resolved separately and divided by the planet class (3). I roll 1, 2 and 3; the 1 and 2 round down to zero, and the 3 becomes 1 IRD.
Cargo: 2 IRD per point (2), divided by world class (3) and rounded down; 1 IRD.
“Balestra is a terrible place to sell anything,” Cori says.
“I told you not to sign the contract,” Dmitri says. “That bit where we have to sell to the President at rates set by him? Not good.”
“And I told you we should’ve cleaned the ship up before we tried to sell it. There were bits of hishen and mouldy razor everywhere.”
Arion shrugs. “Easy come, easy go. Let’s get back to New Hope, that’s where we’re supposed to be.”
“I wondered when you’d remember that,” says Dmitri.
This month Arion’s Rep dice are: -3 (ship upkeep), +1 (job), +2 (interaction), -1 (Sweet Talk), +2 (cargo and ship sale); net of +1. He rolls a 3 and there’s no change. Cori and Dmitri net out to zero, so don’t roll, and Mr Osheen has no dice so far – he’s happy with his new blender.
- Arion: Rep 7 Spaceship Crew, Quick Reflexes, Resilient. BAP2, P1, melee, SBA. Lifetime Rep: 12.
- Coriander: Rep 5 Doctor, Free Spirit, Smooth. A3, melee, SBA. Lifetime Rep: 11.
- Dmitri: Rep 4 Investigator, Logical, Smooth. BAP2, P1, melee, SBA. Lifetime Rep: 8.
- Mr Osheen: Rep 4 Grath Mercenary, Rage, A3, melee, SBA. Lifetime Rep: 0.
How could I resist bringing Osheen back after SJB suggested it and we met a grath? It’s taken me a while, but I’ve realised that Arion’s prior career can cover a multitude of sins in terms of who and what he knows, I don’t need to wait for a suitable encounter and play out the “first date”, hoping it gives the right outcome. Oh, unlike the others, Osheen is a Grunt, not a Star; this is so I can experiment with how they operate differently, as I am still considering downgrading Cori and Dima to Grunts, partly for expediency, and partly because it feels like cheating to have more than one Star – although Larger Than Life, also from THW, used to have a Star, a Co-Star, and a Love Interest, which is pretty much what I wound up with.
I’ve also reread the rules on increasing and decreasing Rep d6 and it looks like I should continue tracking Rep separately for each member of the band. It’s not clear to me whether everyone should get the wages and ship expenses or just Arion. If I remember I will ask on the forum.