Episode 06: Dirge of the Nepotist Captain
Previously (and 14 real time months ago) on Star Wars Modesty Blazing...
Thanks to the course I was sent on gave me the opportunity to continue Modesty Blazing, the Edge of the Empire campaign I run for GOKL. I honestly never thought I'd be able to continue the story that had begun more than a year ago when I still lived in Kuala Lumpur. After a quick social media notification, the group agreed to meet at Wira Games and Hobbies.
The obligatory fake photograph of zero player attendees was taken.
The Rancor's Rancor
Ghyel had been annexed by Captain Bullpup Barqueslayer of the Imperator-class Star Destroyer Cockchafer!
The stolen Lambda-class shuttle carrying Zalo Hai the lost Prince of Ghyel and his de facto aides and protectors temporarily attached to the Ghyel Ministry of History and Archaeology, Trianii Qillian Ryn, Zeltron Darter Kel, Trandoshan John Tray'Essek and droid VAX-11/750 reverted from hyperspace and cruised toward their rendezvous site at the edge of the Ghyel system where their new ally the former Imperial captain Razi Sunmote waited.
Then, a gigantic starship jumped into existence out of the ether.
The spacegoing vessel was basically still Section 12 of Smallberries Station - a trove of salvaged Clone War hardware on Hypori - which had been jettisoned and stolen by Sunmote on his quest for revenge. The only thing that was different about it were the two large fins bolted onto it, which appeared to have no function. Several fighters were launched from the ship - Vulture droid fighters - and screamed into formation.
Darter hailed the spaceborne slice of Smallberries salvage station, but Sunmote spouted in advance. The comlink crackled,"Where is the scum Flintlock Tile? Give him to me now!" Darter calmed him down by telling him that Tile has now taken on the Barqueslayer identity and in order to defeat him - and for Sunmote to exact revenge - the group needs his help to formulate a plan and carefully execute it. Prince Zalo hoped that this would also save his home system of Ghyel.
"The Vulture droids will escort you in!"
The four droid fighters guided their stolen shuttle toward a small growing dot on the hull of the ship, which grew into a moderately sized energy shield-protected hangar bay.
As they landed, they spotted a battalion of armed B1 battle droids marching in their direction. The group walked down the ramp. The battle droids ceased their march and remained motionless. The group with Prince Zalo behind them became apprehensive.
Suddenly the droids parted to reveal Razi Sunmote in the back.
Beside him was a familiar figure: Nora Romanova, who left Ghyel a few days earlier to escort their Duros friend Vendrik offworld. Everyone rushed forward to greet her. "How did you-?"
"I got a call from Sassatania the Hutt," Nora said. Darter cringed at the name of his Hutt fiancée who had promised to marry him at the end of the Ghyel job. "She told me you needed help and I was to meet with Sunmote to return to the group. Where's the Modesty Blaze?"
"How the hell did Sassastania know where-... Never mind. Barqueslayer's people took the Blaze," Darter told her. "She's now in some berth in a landing bay on the Cockchafer."
"Darter," Nora said.
"Sassatania sends her kisses."
"Gentlemen!" interjected the now-well dressed and very eager Captain Sunmote. "Welcome to my flagship the Rancor's Rancor! Come with me to my conference room and we can begin to plan the downfall of the wretched Flintlock Tile!"
The team devices a plan to take down Captain Bullpup Barqueslayer.
Static. A disjoint in time, and perhaps space. Venus is a thread in another wisp of memory.
I see red and grey skies over the maglev as it speeds toward the city of Ashoka through the dry, rocky Martian desert. I used to be Hokusai the neo-octopus artist, on the run from Nine Lives the soul stealing crime cartel. Now I walk on two legs in a ghost morph, in a physical body optimised for stealth operations. With me is the female async Quill, her telepathic mind percolating with a thousand paper cranes.
Back in Valles-New Shanghai, we are the only two members of Fastball Express hypercorp who answer the VR call from one Mr. Miyazaki. He gives us the time and invitation for an upcoming Zanzibar marketplace that would occur in 30 hours in Ashoka. There a neo-gorilla named Winston will be attempting to sell something valuable and rare: a handheld controller for a Pandora Gate.
My cover is Shankar, a game hunter. Quill is Devi. As soon as we disembark, Shankar and Devi blend into the Ashoka afternoon crowd.
Last night, Doug came over to run a game for Irfan and I before he had to move, and it would be more difficult to meet up at nights regularly.
We played Golden Sky Stories for the first time. Set in rural Japanese township (not unlike a films like Tonari No Totoro) Golden Sky Stories is a tabletop roleplaying game where players take the role of magical animals called henge who are able to change into human form.
It's a great game to be played with children because there's not a single iota of violence, or situations that put the player characters in dire peril. It's all to do with making friends with other henge or little children in a small township in a rural Japanese countryside.
In fact, if you can grasp the situations in Tonari no Totoro where characters experience wonder and express their likes and dislike in childlike ways. The characters are never in any physical danger and there are no villains.
Task resolution is not achieved by rolling dice, but with points that you use to activate your powers, or increase your characteristics to beat a target number or your opponent's characteristics. It's like GUMSHOE's resource management system without rolling any d6s.
Whatever you need to do can be defined by four characteristics: Henge, Animal, Adult and Child. You also have points in Dreams, Wonder, and Feelings. Dreams allow you to create and strengthen connections with other characters. You also spend Dreams to transform into your human form or partial human form. Wonder allows you to activate your magical powers. Feelings are the points you need to increase your characteristics to beat high target numbers.
We generated characters quickly. Irfan was Kamineko the grey sleepy cat who lazes all over the town of Hitotsuna. I played Kuro, the black rabbit who lives in the town school, who thinks he's a dog.
Kuro was digging up (or trying to dig up bones) in a field outside of town when he came across Kamineko who was trying to sleep on top of an old abandoned shrine. Kuro invited Kamineko to help him dig for bones, but the cat henge refused to help the manic, identity-challenged rabbit henge.
Suddenly Kuro discovered that there was another henge in the shrine. It was a fox who identified herself as Suzune. The shrine was hers!
After a conversation that led to Suzune to bash her head on the side of her shrine because of Kuro's insistance that he was a dog, it began to get dark. Kuro and Kamineko thought it was time to get back home and transformed into their half-human forms (by spending Dreams.) Then it started to rain!
Kuro transformed back into his rabbit form and hid in the shrine. But Suzune convinced them all to huddle together under a big tree.
Kuro noticed something strange. There were no clouds in the sky and the full moon was bright. Kuro used her Please power to act cute, rub against Suzune's legs to get her to submit to his cuteness. Suzune began to weep. She said she was lonely and no one had come to her shrine for many, many years. Kuro promise that he and Kamineko would come every day to visit her so she wont be lonely.
Immediately the rain stopped. Suzune was happy, bade her new friends farewell, then waited for the next time Kamineko and Kuro would visit.
After that, we created new Connections and Irfan spent Dreams to strengthen the non-player character Suzune's connection with him.
Irfan had some trouble adapting to the whimsical and childlike aspects of the game, probably because he was more used to firing blasters in Star Wars and using an axe in BareBones Fantasy, but in later talks he appeared to be able to grasp the concepts better. Perhaps he would be able to game better should we play it again.
Many thanks to Doug for running Golden Sky Stories for us!
Episode 05: The Azurite City Requiem
In this game I thought I could finish this arc of the campaign in the second session. I failed.
Previously on Modesty Blazing...
Hello and Goodbye
Uh oh. How many Dark Side Points?
As explosions wrecked the peaceful evening at Azurite City, the team began to regroup.
The Duros spy Vendrik told them that he had received an encrypted communique via the public channels. It was a code phrase ordering him to leave the planet. The team started to object. They would need his help if things went bad. Vendrik said, "I can't get involved now when the Empire appear to be using underhanded tactics to take over the system. They really want this system. If they knew that the Rebel Alliance is involved with their opposition, they'll call for a Base Delta Zero orbital bombardment killing everyone and everything on the surface of Ghyel. I know because I've seen them do it before on another world."
They said their goodbyes. Nora Romanova would help escort the Duros spy offworld.
Their vehicles wrecked, Zeltron Darter Kel, Trianii Qillian Ryn, Trandoshan John Tray'Essek and the droid VAX-11/750 jogged back towards their headquarters at the Ghyel Ministry of History and Archaeology.
Dark Skies over Azurite
The skies were dark, but seemed darker for the dozens of Lambda-class shuttles being regurgitated by the Imperator-class Star Destroyer hanging above Azurite City. They could be seen flitting between city buildings and were landing at every other open space in the city.
Darter called their employer, the 14-year-old Ghyel prince Zalo Hai whom they had rescued from a three hundred year carbonite slumber in an abandoned remote outpost. Darter reported their findings of the death of Councilman Drazi, the alliance Councilman Zirrus had with an Imperial officer, the homing beacon tagged on a saboteur's airspeeder and apparent Imperial political destabilisation tactics.
"We have to acquire evidence to present to the Council," said Prince Zalo. Suddenly he burst out, "They're here! An Imperial shuttle has landed. Troops are coming. You have to go to-" And then he was cut off. The team considered heading for the Ministry to rescue Prince Zalo, but it would take too long for them to reach it without a speeder.
Episode 04: An Ode to Backwater Politics
After saving the life of the long-frozen PRINCE ZALO HAI
of the GHYEL system, the crew of the MODESTY BLAZE has found themselves
contracted by Prince Zalo's descendant LORD ARANI HAI, a Ghyel loyalist.
The GALACTIC EMPIRE, unsatisfied with Ghyel providing raw materials
and manufactured goods to them, has bolstered an Imperialist faction
against the Hais' loyalists with Ghyel as their endgame.
Meanwhile, as the Prince is reintroduced to his people,
DARTER KEL, QILLIAN RYN and VAX-11/750 await the return of
JOHN TRAY'ESSEK and NORA ROMANOVA back into to their fold
at AZURITE CITY SPACEPORT...
It's been awhile since I gamemastered six players in a political intrigue session. Political intrigue is hard. More so when you don't gamemaster the campaign that often. So let's get down to it!
Previously on Modesty Blazing...
"Okay! Multiple DOUBLE Light Side points in the Destiny Pool. Game over. Everyone go home."
A Gozanti cruiser modified to be an unarmed commercial passenger liner manoeuvred herself for landing at the spaceport at Azurite City on the planet Ghyel.
In the passenger cabin of the ship, reptilian Trandoshan hired gun/marauder John Tray'Essek sat beside his blond teammate smuggler/scoundrel Nora Romanova who had just finished her scouting contract in Wild Space and was returning to rendezvous with the crew of the YT-1300 light freighter Modesty Blaze who had set up a temporary base of operations on Ghyel. Unbeknownst to them, in the seat behind them was a Duros known as Vendrik who was listening in to their conversation, learning about the Modesty Blaze crew's contract job attached to the Ministry of History and Archaeology under Prince Zalo Hai in Azurite City.
Waiting for them on the platform below were the Zeltron smuggler/pilot Darter Kel, Trianii bounty hunter/assassin Qillian Ryn and the laconic droid technician/slicer VAX-11/750. They looked at the approaching cruiser. They gazed at the blue morning skies, the white clouds above and the contrail of a rocket which was streaking toward the landing ship! Darter thumbed his comlink on and barked, "Missile incoming. We can't take it out. If you can do something, do it now!"
The perceptive Vendrik heard the call from Tray'Essek's hand comlink. It startled him to know that the pair seated in front of him had immediate intelligence on an incoming missile. Vendrik tightened his seat belt. Nora leapt over Tray and sprinted up the aisle past startled attendant droids (with a successful Athletics roll). She lunged into the cockpit and tried to wrestle the control stick from one of the two astonished pilots. (Brawl check: Success with one Threat.)
The Gozanti veered to the left. The missile grazed the underside of the ship's port engine pylon and exploded. The vessel lost its repulsors and suddenly slammed into the ground kicking up a gigantic plume of dust and debris into the air. The port engine had snapped off and was spiralling away.
"Ferra Sector Lines"
Darter and Qillian were aghast! Had their teammates just been killed by a rocket attack? They must be avenged! Leaving VAX to check on the crash site, Darter and Qillian ran for their Ministry-assigned Seraph-class "Flash" landspeeder, leapt onto the seats and rocketed out into the streets trying to determine the source of the rocket fire.
Because the ship fell only about 200 meters and the acceleration compensators were still active, most of the passengers were unharmed. The befuddled and dazed pilots tried to arrest Nora, but she charmed her way past them. Then Tray and her jettisoned the emergency hatch and jumped onto the tarmac unharmed thanks to the emergency gravity field activated outside the hatch upon a crash. All the other passengers, including Vendrik, followed suit and soon everyone was walking out into the debris and dust as police and rescue speeders arrived on the scene.
Vendrik introduced himself to Nora and Tray, then invited them both for a drink at the nearby spaceport cantina.
I played for the first time in GOKL's still new Warbirds RPG campaign yesterday.
Warbirds is a dieselpunk role-playing game where players are mercenary pilots who fly alternate-universe versions of circa-1940 combat fighters among the Caribbean Islands. But this version of the Caribbean Islands - including the parts of the Yucatan and Florida - were enveloped by a strange devastating storm in 1807. When the storm abated, the islands found themselves floating in mid-air over a sea of murky clouds. At night, the stars are different than the ones the survivors are used to on Earth. The world was called Azure.
After more than a century, the islands have formed new nations and new alliances. Using local exotic material known as floatstones, hovering ships were created as vehicles to travel between the islands. A mercenary group known as the Esteemed Guild of Combat Aviators was formed to fight to gain fortune among the cutthroat politics of the nations of Azure.
Player characters are from various peoples and nations of Azure who joined the Guild to be their combat pilots. The system uses only a d6 which makes it quick and cinematic. Character generation too was quite simple and I created a character swiftly from reading a few pages in the rulebook.
Wait! "Rookie" Only Has One 'E'?
I played a rookie pilot named John Piriki'ki, a Carib journalist from the floating island of Barbados who arrived on the island of West Grand with a bunch of other Rookies via a Guild Carrier commanded by Captain Martin. John had been recently assigned to the Grandstander Squadron by the Guild with mechanics. The arriving Rookies were greeted with pomp and circumstance by the daughter of West Grand Governor - who appeared to be a bit bloodthirsty against their enemy, the island of East Grand.
The squadron's publicist Esteban Munoz met John who then introduced him to the rest of the squadron: Sous Chef, Pyro, Deadline and squadron commander Tequila. John also showed them his owl tattoo on his right deltoid. The publicist has arranged for Grandstander Squadron to have a press conference in the city.
Local journalist Alan Ashland of Bradley Printing Works arrived at the airbase to ask for the Grandstanders' help.
He knew that the squadron would be called for a night reconnaissance mission over East Grand soon, and would like them to drop leaflets there calling for the enemy to lay down their arms because both islands had been one nation once and a lot of families were separated by the war. Ashland and his allies in the city wished for a bloodless end of the war. A war between East and West Grand would be a bloodbath for East Grand as they had minimal armed forces and combat equipment.
However the West Grand Governor wanted East Grand to be utterly defeated in war. So this would have to be an illicit mission.
Not only did the Grandstanders agree, Deadline and John offered some ideas to the leaflet (by rolling on their Craft: Journalism skill).
Episode 03 - The Prince In Carbonite
Destiny Pool seems pretty good for the players.
Previously, on Star Wars: Modesty Blazing...
After disposing of the twisted IG-series assassin droid that took over the Imperial Biomedical Base on the icy world of Khov and freeing the captured prisoners at Smallberries Skystation on Hypori, the Modesty Blaze returned to the deserted outpost with a contractor to quickly salvage and sell off what they can. The hired gun Tray'Essek the Trandoshan opted to remain at Smallberries Station to ensure the prisoners' release properly.
The Tinhub Brothers Salvage Corporation employees first helped the droid 41-VEX, Zeltron explorer Darter Kel and Trianii bounty hunter Qilian Ryn modify the Blaze by increasing her manoeuvrability and replacing her dorsal cannon with one of two anti-aircraft quadcannons that was protecting the base.
Occassionally, tremors shook the walls and floor of the bay as they worked.
The crew allowed the Tinhub Brothers team to take apart one Lambda-class shuttle and one All-Terrain Armoured Transport for themselves, from which a net worth of 60,000 credits belonged to the Blaze crew. Stronger tremors rattled the structure sending dust and gravel falling and billowing from the ceiling.
Meanwhile, 41-VEX sauntered off to the droid reconstruction module. It had enough power and parts for one more use. VEX entered the resleeving pod. Automated waldoes took him apart and removed his droid brain. Then, a new body was assembled as requested by VEX. Once completed, the droid brain was plugged in. His eyes lit up. 41-VEX decided on a new name: VAX-11/750.
He returned to the bay just in time to see the Tinhub Brothers' Gozanti cruiser leave into the blue skies above, leaving the YT-1300 freighter Modesty Blaze all by herself. An even stronger quake cracked the walls and sent rocks and dust fall from the reinforced ceiling, Everyone was gathered beneath her deciding on what to do next. The consensus was, "We've got to get out of here now."
A new body. New set of innate skills. What else has been hardwritten into his circuits by the fabricator, eh?
Withdrawal From Khov
The wall speakers crackled to life and a voice boomed throughout the hangar bay, "Khov base, this is the Imperial Star Destroyer Tempestuous on an unscheduled inspection, please reply." There was no time to improvise. The voice continued, "You know how crucial secrecy is to your base, Khov. Please reply or we have been ordered to enact Base Delta Zero in 15 minutes."
Yes, it was time to get out of there.
Modesty Blazing 02
Episode 02: Droid-like Typing Detected
The Zeltron pilot Darter Kel had been detained for questioning by the authorities of Smallberries Skystation on Hypori. After all he was the one who dealt with and was up close with the former Captain Razi Sunmote.
The errant Captain Sunmote used a droid caller to muster an attack force made of dormant battle droids. The droids had been reactivated from salvage taken from the Hypori. After dealing death and destruction within Section 12 of the skystation, Sunmote and his droid force jettisoned their captured section and jumped into hyperspace on a desperate mission of vengeance.
But Darter's shipmates, the droid 41-VEX, the Trianii bounty hunter Qillian Ryn and Trandoshan hired gun Tray'Essek, were released on their own recognizance, after a good word from the entrepreneur they rescued, Gir Tashkent.
The crew of the Modesty Blaze was waiting for Darter's questioning to end when a sharply-dressed human came knocking on the ship's ramp struts. VEX, in the lower cannon turret, spun the weapon at him in retaliation to the knocking. Qillian rushed down to greet the man, who introduced himself as Colonel Zev Sleen an Imperial officer.
He offered 4000 credits to take him to and bring him back from the nearby Khov system.
Qillian took over the pilot seat, apprehensive over having to fly the freighter without their designated pilot Darter. He had trained for some hours (buying 1 Rank in Pilot (Space) with the last of his XP) and had gotten slightly better at it in the last few hours.
It should have taken three hours to reach Khov, but VEX forgot to carry the one in his calculations (with no successes in Astrogation) so they arrived three hours late.
There was a blue white planet shrouded with clouds. Its polar caps is too frozen to support life. VEX scanned and spotted an automated intermittent signal from the liveable equatorial region. Colonel Sleen confirmed from the coordinates that it was their destination.
Qillian fought the winds as he dove under the clouds, causing the drinks Tray was serving Sleen to spill. Soon he was flying the Blaze through an overwhelming ice storm. The clouds cleared to reveal a cliff wall before them. The Trianii - to his own surprise - banked away and threaded his way through a canyon (thanks to a series of Piloting successes).
The signal led them to an open hangar bay at the foot of an icy mountain. Fifty metres above it on the steep mountainside was a command structure with a large window overlooking the frozen countryside. Both were dark and did not appear to have any lights activated.
Qillian had a bad feeling about this. A sudden downdraft tried to force the Modesty Blaze into a crash as it came in for a landing, but Qillian - again to his own surprise (with a success that involved 2 Triumphs) glided in with hardly a tremor.
Our first double Triumphs!
Episode 01: Skyfall
Note: This GOKL campaign follows the Star Wars Edge of the Empire Beginners Game that started with GOKL Escapes Mos Shuuta and continued with GOKL Escapes The Insurmountable Ned. Now that the former Krayt Fang has been renamed Modesty Blaze (after a short stint as Babymetal before retcon renaming) after its major refitting on Rodia, the campaign will now be named "Modesty Blazing."
No Obligation roll just because.
Initial Destiny pool rolls resulted in this:
The Force was used repeatedly over the course of the game.
Ord Throsol was a white dwarf system with multiple asteroid fields and thick cometary clouds. The airless planetoid known as Ord Throsol was centre of mining refinery and manufacturing. The Modesty Blaze is berthed alongside the scout vessel, the YV-929 armed freighter Veracity Slush. The Blaze crew had just been commissioned to deliver machine parts to Gir Tashkent of Spacewell Manufacturing Inc. on Smallberries Skystation in the Hypori system.
But first, Zeltron pilot Darter Kel, the droid 41-VEX, the Trianii assassin Qillian Ryn and the new Trandoshan hired gun Tray'Essek bade farewell to Nora Romanova, the Wookiee Lowhrrick and Twi'lek Oskara who have joined the crew of the scout vessel for a job beyond the Saijo Sector. A moment later the trio was gone with the Slush.
As they prepared to raise ship, an RA-7 droid stopped them. He had a package that also needed to be delivered to former Imperial captain Razi Sunmote of Sunmote Trading on Smallberries Station. Darter was reluctant to take on any impromptu jobs but the droid was very transparent. He showed the holo message from Sunmote, which had the proper documentation, and opened up the package to reveal the old droid caller inside.
An extra 1000 credits earned from going to Hypori couldn't hurt.
On the Road
VEX calculated the hyperspace jump perfectly (with 3 Successes on Astrogation) shaving some time off the journey. However, they were violently pulled back into realspace 20 light minutes away from the planet Hypori. VEX scanned the area and discovered a gravity field projected from a nearby asteroid. Also, three R-41 Starchasers were accelerating to attack speed toward them.
Darter's superior piloting skills allowed him to execute a tight turn keeping the fighters boxed inward of their turning arc. (Successes and Triumph on Darter's Piloting roll gave everyone else an upgraded skill and a Boost dice.) 41-VEX angled the shield as Qillian loosed a barrage which missed. However, one of the Starchasers were slammed by Tray's multiple blasts and disintegrated catastrophically. First kill!
Most successes with the least dice we've ever seen thus far.
Last time on Night's Black Agents: Jacob Novazembla, Nikolai Kaidanovsky, Sami Härkönen, Brendan, Shiina "Misha" Mikado and Zlatan Kljujic were finally reunited at the heavily fortified ranch of King Valentin the "Devil's Husband" after extracting his love, the Romani vampire Vienna "Vin" Cesarescu from the deadly R-Team, Inish Medical's special operations team. Leaving Faris Barrar and his men stranded in Bucharest, Romania, they fled across the Bulgarian border and the Danube river near Ruse and Shtraklevo.
Day 05 Monday: Very Early Morning
It was late after midnight after everyone had some hours of catching up, rest and planning.
Since Vin needed the Inish serum to function in daytime without adverse effects from the sun and going on a bloodlust, Nikolai - a former Russian GRU operative who was also a medical doctor - went immediately to work at the ranch's lab trying to analyse the vial she entrusted them with. She kept the other one, rationing it for herself.
Misha, who had arrived earlier with Brendan, told them that Julia, the cousin of Georgeta Andrea Grigore, their anti-human trafficking activist contact in Bucharest, was being held there - reminding them that King Valentin was still a human trafficking scum. They cannot rely on Valentin's help and would need to leave as soon as possible. But to where? Options include Stockholm (their allies from the Eurovision mission) and Novosibirsk (Nikolai's GRU allies), and how would they get Juila out as well.
Sami and Zlatan planned to take the Niva to scout the surrounding towns the next morning while the others would protect Nikolai and reconnoiter the ranch, looking for assets and exploits.
Zlatan used a burner cellular phone to call his former colleague Rosa Martinez in Munich. She was an American field office manager for Case Protection Services, a private military contractor Zlatan used to work for in Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda. She agreed to do a favour for him: to send a surveillance team over the border into Austria. If Farris Barrar and his team reached their safehouse in Vienna, Zlatan wanted to know. Zlatan told her, "Do not engage them whatever they do."
"What are you working on, Zlatan?"
"It's big. You'll know it soon. Thanks." The Bosnian wheel artist sent her contact instructions and hung up. Fatigue took its toll and he fell asleep.
Previously in Bucharest, Nikolai Kaidanovsky, Sami Härkönen, Shiina "Misha" Mikado and Zlatan Kljujic were joined by the cleaner only known as Brendan. Their recent recruit, the French thief Marcel Clouseau was lost to the bite of thousands of vampire puppies and a well-placed thermobaric warhead near Lake Titan.
Nikolai, who was about to extract their ally Vienna "Vin" Cesarescu, suddenly found things at the Sunrise Hotel to be chaotic. Face to face with the lethal R-Team, Inish Medical's operatives sent to East Europe for a job, Vin's quick thinking saved Nikolai telling the others that he was a member of Julian Dragani's police cadre on their pay. But he found himself in a car fleeing the hotel with the driver Gregor, Faris Barrar, Mr. Chow and other members of Inish Medical's R-Team operatives.
The agents' tacnet still active, they began planning.
Misha and Brendan were to go directly to their teammate Jacob Novazembla (because their players were absent) who was with the Romani criminal cartel lord King Valentin, awaiting the retrieval of his love, Vin.
Sami and the visibly shaken Zlatan (at 0 Stability Points) still wearing their puce jogging suits and helmets drove their Lada Niva pacing the R-Team's vehicle as they headed away from city centre.
Last time on Eclipse Phase: Clouds of a Morning Star...
Location: Sacajawea Patera caldera in Ishtar Terra, the surface of Venus.
Active Gamera Security (GamSec) Personnel: The infomorph DANAI in a q-morph, the other infomorph Wandering Ina in a Venusian flyer morph, Billy Cable Jr. paranoid terrorist in a neotenic pod morph and Hokusai Tarnungshaut - neo-octopus artist in another q-morph.
The Venusian chapter of Fastball Express, under the cover name of Gamera Security, had been commissioned by Morningstar Constellation security executive Kage Musha to investigate possible terrorist activity among the aerostats of Venus. They began operating on the orbital habitat Gerlach, then established a branch in a dirigible docked in the aerostat Aphrodite Prime. Their investigations brought to light that the orbital habitat Timothea Bush-Kennedy, also known as Timbuk3, had been attacked by TITANs during the Fall more than a decade ago, broke up and crashed into the surface of Venus, no one knows exactly where.
When the reclusive artist Marquis d’Homem-Christos farcasted to Aphrodite Prime to display the unique psycho-empathic sculptures he acquired from the aliens known as the Factors, GamSec discovered a terrorist organisation known as the Free Fall Network (FFN) were violently against the terraforming of the surface of Venus. The terraforming drive was headed by the Solid Ground Initiative (SGI), a patron of which was the Marquis himself.
Their investigations led them to the aerostat's Aviary where genengineered avian fauna were being developed for atmospheric terraforming. They discovered that the Aviary was being renovated and expanded by a hypercorp named Ikea-Tata Constructions. The construction site hid a flexbot combiner tank which GamSec and their allies neutralised before further damage was done.
Ikea-Tata Constructions, GamSec discovered, was created by a clique of Venusian thrill-seeking skydivers who was involved in a fatal crash to the surface, all cortical stacks lost. After their backups had been reinstated in new morphs they were compelled to form the hypercorp to vie for terraforming construction projects across Venus.
The Marquis security job also led them to the FFN terrorist agent Saladin Pelita who only appeared to them as an AR projection. After the Marquis returned home, Saladin was successful in somehow poisoning all the animals in the Aviary. Later, Kage identified him as Baron Julian Robbari, the heir to Soletta Corp. Robbari had instated a former employee of Timbuk3, Shelby Cobra, from storage and set him to work in city cybersecurity. Using remote surveillance, GamSec had discovered that Shelby had been bouncing line-of-sight signals off Gerlach's hull mirrors. The signals had been directed back to Venus, to a caldera on Ishtar Terra called Sacajawea Patera.
Under Kage's authority, GamSec travelled to the mining aerostat Lucifer where the ursomorph members of the Teddy Bear Roadside Picnic Company salvage hypercorp where their CEO himself Mr. Snuggles decided to fly them to Sacajawea Patera to Shelby's signal was bounced, where according to Mr. Snuggles was an area claimed by a rival salvage hypercorp known as Ladyboys Salvage and Repo. They had claimed the area, but kept it dormant for months.
What were the Ladyboys protecting and what did it have to do with Shelby Cobra, Saladin Pelita, Free Fall Network, their anti-terraforming drive and attempts to keep the Marquis d'Homem-Christos away from Venus?
At the caldera, Mr. Snuggles and GamSec discovered a large fragment of a fallen orbital habitat that against the laws of physics had survived uncontrolled planetfall. It was being monitored by a Ladyboys domed encampment. A closer inspection identified the half-buried debris as Lake Okeechobee Research Facility, a compartment from Timbuk3! Its systems still active, it scanned and identified Billy Cable Junior's mesh ID as William Cable, confirming memories stolen from Shelby Cobra earlier that his father had been on the habitat before it crashed into Venus.
And despite Mr. Snuggles' protests, Cable was determined to get into the fallen fragment to discover its secrets.
It took DANAI's persuasive skills to make Mr. Snuggles agree to the plan. (Persuasion success 43/60.) He only agreed when they informed him of a possible TITAN threat. The plan was for Mr. Snuggles to fly in with the lander, jam all comms as it approached allowing GamSec to attack the Ladyboys' q-morph guard. The universal airlock would then be used to board the fragment of Timbuk3 station for boarding from within the lander.
Last time on Eclipse Phase: Clouds of a Morning Star...
Location: Lucifer, Venus.
Active Gamera Security (GamSec) Personnel: DANAI and Wandering Ina the infomorphs, William Cable Jr. - paranoid terrorist in a neotenic pod morph and Hokusai Tarnungshaut - neo-octopus artist in a slitheroid morph.
In Transit to Altitude 40km
The mining aerostat Lucifer was a bustle of activity. Miners. Support staff. Security. Tethered over Ishtar Terra close to the north polar region it was being assailed by gale force winds generated by a Venusian polar vortex. The aerostat appeared from a distance to be listing although tethers allowed it to maintain station keeping. But Lucifer was their destination, tracking a terrorist signal from the city aerostat of Aphrodite Prime that was bounced off a mirror assembly on the superstructure of the orbital habitat Gerlach.
GamSec descended upon Lucifer via an elevator from the floating high altitude docks. Their patron Kage Musha had his salvage contractors the Teddy Bear Roadside Picnic Company provide them whatever they needed to complete their investigations. The TBRPC representative who escorted them down was Mr. Goldie, sleeved in a sun bear-variant ursomorph.
Mr. Goldie explained to them that Lucifer mined minerals from Venus surface, and two security hypercorps were contracted to protect the operation. TBRPC and the Ladyboys Salvage and Repo hypercorp, who also had salvage operations on the surface. Teddy Bear and the Ladyboys had a well defined boundary of operations which they both adhered to. This caused a slight competitiveness to emerge between them.
Previously, Nikolai Kaidanovsky, Sami Härkönen, Shiina "Misha" Mikado and Zlatan Kljujic were joined by the French thief Marcel Clouseau in Bucharest who once dealt with Inish Medical before their exile fro Romania. (Clouseau has been relegated to a non-player character as his player had moved out of town.)
At midnight, the agents met up with the freelance cleaner Brendan, who had worked with Misha and MI6 before in Eastern European black ops. Plenty of codewords were exchanged at the cafe between Misha and Brendan before trustworthiness was established. In the end though no one could tell if a codeword was being used.
Brendan said, "Thank you, I'll leave now."
Misha paused for a second then asked, "Is that a code phrase or are you actually leaving?"
DAY 04 Sunday
Sami and Zlatan prepared to support Clouseau's undercover dog-catching job at the Harmony Wings apartment building near Lake Titan. Zlatan bought them all a Toblerone bar each in case they need to defend themselves against evil, mind-controlling vampire doggies down in the park. Meanwhile Sami prepared their gear. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just some GoPro cameras, scooter helmets, jogging suits, firearms, quadrotor drones, remote listening devices, improvised explosive devices and one RPO-A Shmel rocket launcher with a thermobaric warhead.
Never know when one would come in handy against vampire dogs.
"This place looks worse than the first season of The Wire," Zlatan told Sami when they saw the condition of Harmony Wings. It was still dark when Clouseau and the other two hirelings Petru and Drago were met by Doctor Ana of Keller Training at the park. She led them through the trees by the decrepit 20-story building. It looked older than it was. It smelled worse than it looked. Other apartment blocks stood out among the trees of the park in the distance. Lake Titan was within eyeshot of the block. Connected to Harmony Wings by a pavement was an even worse looking building: the abandoned public swimming pool, its windows darkened by what appeared be extreme mildew.
I missed two roleplaying sessions of Eclipse Phase since the last game.
Location: Aphrodite Prime, Venus.
Active Gamera Security (GamSec) Personnel: DANAI and Wandering Ina the infomorphs, William Cable Jr. - paranoid terrorist in a neotenic pod morph and Hokusai Tarnungshaut - neo-octopus artist in a slitheroid morph.
Hokusai-free Session 01: Don't Play Koi With Me, Cable
A more detailed write up of this session can be found on Obsidian Portal.
After the Cumulus Hotel caper, Hokusai stayed on their dirigible while Cable, Ina and DANAI went out into the field.
As Cable was viewing the flying gasbags that they'd saved from destruction at the Aviary, the animals began falling and crashing onto the deck dead.
Kage Musha their patron in Morningstar Constellation called for GamSec to chew them out. How could have the Aviary animals be poisoned? There was a danger of Kage punishing GamSec by resleeving their egos in koi fish and displaying the koi in his aquarium in his office.
Cable confidently allayed Kage's doubt about GamSec by informing him that he had direct connection with Free Fall Network (FFN) and their contact, Saladin Pelita. Saladin had believed that Cable was a fellow anti-terraforming terrorist. Satisfied by Cable's information, Kage informed him that from his own surveillance and intelligence gathering, the individual named Saladin Pelita was sleeved in the morph resembling Baron Julian Robbari, the heir to Soletta Corp a known front for the Fa Jing criminal organisation.
Cable also informed Kage that they would next be investigating FFN's agent in Cumulus Hotel cybersecurity, the reinstated civil servant named Shelby Cobra.
Hokusai-free Session 02: This Time We Keep A Copy
A more detailed write up of this session can be found on Obsidian Portal.
The speck bot they left in Shelby Cobra's apartment alerted them to suspicious activity. The laser communication system had been transmitted while being pointed at Gerlach station in orbit. To investigate, Cable, Ina and DANAI booked seats on a shuttle from Aphrodite Prime.
Meanwhile, Cable had fabricated a new tripod walker morph with installed weapons ranging from railguns to seeker weapons for DANAI to use. The walker was named "Paul".
The trio investigated the spot where the laser comms had been transmitted to on Gerlach and discovered that the mirror system there had been hacked and coopted to bounce line-of-sight beams back onto Venus: specifically somewhere in Ishtar Terra at the north polar region of Venus. The patch was rigged with an improvised explosive devise. Unable to defuse it, GamSec had to call station security to help neutralise the bomb.
Unable to determine where the signal was directed to exactly, the team returned to Aphrodite Prime to interrogate Shelby Cobra.
As management consultants, GamSec would invite Shelby for an interpersonal, live interview. In preparation, they rented an office space and fabricated two more Paul walkers mounted with non-lethal armament and EMP microseeker launchers to quickly prevent him from calling for help. Ultimately, foam spray, EMP and neural agoniser were deployed to take down Shelby... who was basically a regular unarmed civil servant.
In simspace, Shelby was confused but cooperative, confirming that he was an indentured ego who was reinstated and offered work in Aphrodite Prime by one Julian Robari. But he did not remember bouncing the secret communication laser off Gerlach.
DANAI and Ina performed psychosurgery to delete Shelby's memories of them and released him. Also, they pocketed a fork of Shelby - a copy of his ego - for further interrogation.
Previously, the Agents completed a week-long mission at Inish Medical, a multinational medical corporation that was using the haemocanis serum derived from blood of certain East European dog breeds to give vampiric abilities to their subjects. Inish appeared to have larger, more diabolical plans for the serum application. It was up to them to discover what.
The Agents began a new mission: to gather intel on Romania. Inish took interest in criminal underworld in Bucharest, who helped them acquire special breeds of dogs in Romania before the Heimdall debacle.
They also had a secondary mission: to extract their ally Vienna "Vin" Cesarescu from Inish's task force - the R-Team - that had a job to do in Romania. Vin was a Romani woman who displayed vampiric symptoms and abilities even before Inish abducted her and forced her to work for them. R-Team would be arriving in Bucharest on Saturday.
DAY 01 Thursday
King Valentin's Lair
Jacob Novazembla, freshly bitten by Vin several days ago during the Inish mission, had arrived a day earlier at the sea port of Constanța on a solo assignment to King Valentin a.k.a The Devil's Husband, a leader of a Romanian criminal organisation. (Jacob's player was absent, so he was relegated to the role of an NPC.) King Valentin's distrust of Jacob was alleviated when he sniffed his odour. When Jacob refused his insistence, King Valentin's men grabbed him and pulled down his pants for a visual confirmation. Valentin dropped his own pants as well to show what they both had in common.
Vampiric bite mark at the nether regions, caused by Vin. "The smell is unmistakable," Valentin remarked.
Then, still pantless, he embraced Jacob with glee and growled happily, "WE ARE BROTHERS!"
Valentin agreed to help the Agents.
Jacob wished his pants were back on.
Eclipse Phase: Clouds of a Morning Star continued from the previous session.
Location: Aphrodite Prime, about 50 km above Venus' surface.
Active Gamera Security (GamSec) Personnel: DANAI and Wandering Ina (and Wandering Ina-α) the infomorphs, William Cable Jr. - paranoid terrorist in a neotenic pod morph and Hokusai Tarnungshaut - neo-octopus artist in a slitheroid morph
Inactive Personnel: Badal Jones - Lunar Lagrange Alliance (LLA) envoy and Boris Ivanov Rasputin the Second - a neo-hominid lawyer in the shaper morph.
Mission: To provide security and investigative services to Badal's superior the LLA's ambassador during an art show at the Cumulus Hotel, where reclusive posthuman artist Marquis d’Homem-Christos from the asteroid 163693 Atira would be showcasing alien sculptures he collected from the extraterrestrial Factors. LLA had intercepted a vague communique about a terrorist attack during the event and would like the attack thwarted. Their secondary mission was to help Gretchen Ambelina of Pax Familae by covertly disrupting the Marquis' event which will deal a blow to the terraforming efforts of Venus, something the Solid Ground Initiaive (SGI) was a proponent of, and what Venusian terrorist groups like the Free Fall Network (FFN) were against.
Crossposted on Obsidian Portal.
A Happy Place
DANAI found herself frolicking in a green field beneath a bright blue sky and under a nourishing yellow sun. Baffled by current events, she looked down and discovered that she was in a body of a living fox, red bushy tail and all. What had happened before? She was uncertain.
Suddenly a window opened in the sky. A man looked at her from behind the window. Just when she wondered why there was a window in the sky, another one slid open seemingly across from the first window. Another man was there looking at her.
He then looked at the first man and asked, What does the fox say?
Then DANAI woke up from her strange dream.
I missed the last two Night's Black Agents RPG sessions.
Since inflitrating the freighter Heimdall in the Irish Sea, Nikolai Kaidanovsky, Sami Harkonen, Shiina "Misha" Mikado, Zlatan Kljulic and Abraham von Helsing the Russian borzoi hound (all wearing keffiyehs - even Abe) escaped and sank the ship killing the vampire hounds in the cargo compartment. They abducted the surviving technician Jones who told them everything he knew about the Emartech Pharmaceuticals' and Inish Medical Group's plans to use the haemocanis parasite-infected blood from Eastern Europe dogs for nefarious purposes. Before returning to London, Jones had to take a walk with Zlatan because he knew too much and could identify the agents.
It was time to stake out Inish. They rendezvous with Jacob Novazembla - who had returned from Italy - at their headquarters, while Misha had to forego the mission to visit her daughter. Before heading to Brentford in Ealing, Sami put Abe in the care of his dog handler contact out in the country.
The entire town of Brentford was under the thumb of Inish Medical. The Inish headquarters complex was a large building overlooking a golf course. A lot of the localtown services were contracted to Inish, such as security, medical and waste disposal. Information out of the town was monitored and filtered by Inish.
The founder of Inish Medical, Donal Inish, had died in a helicopter crash many years ago, leaving a wife. Among the confirmed vampires at Inish were Farris Barrar the Vice President of Safety who was the one that Misha saw tear the small-time mob boss Gary Camon into pieces. They also suspected one Mister Chow of being a vampire as well.
Jacob's contact at Blackberry Benny Snowden informed him that Inish was installing hardware and software in their servers that would allow encrypted communications for important employees via brand new Blackberry 10s. Jacob would infiltrate the heart of Inish Medical as "Rory Winston" one of the Blackberry employees tasked with installing and configuring the new gear. His real mission is to install a back door to their secured servers which the agents would be able to access.
Jacob, as Rory, got in easily enough. He was chaperoned by Anise, a beautiful Inish employee. While Jacob charmed the IT team over the course of five days, Nikolai, Sami and Zlatan stayed in B&Bs in town monitoring the situation. The IT team loved Jacob. They even went on a pub crawl that led to a brawl with some football hooligans, which the IT team later said they'd enjoyed! Jacob also learnt that Jessica Ellis, Zlatan's failed date (to put it lightly) and former Emartech employee from the Cardiff mission, was an informal security consultant there as well.
It was during the fifth day that Jacob, escorted by Anise, bumped into Vienna "Vin" Cesarescu, the vampire who was once their prisoner. She had been a member of the Camon Gang who was abducted by Inish Medical after the murder of Gary Camon and destruction of the group. Vin looked pale and anaemic.
In the deserted hallway, Vin hypnotised Anise, clouding her mind while she pleaded Jacob for help. She would meet him in the Rehabilitation Clinic level of the headquarters the next morning.
AND NOW THE CONCLUSION!
Day 06: The Penultimate Day
Information From Vienna
The Rehab Clinic took an entire ground floor of the Inish headquarters. It faced the golf course, although there was a security moat that prevented golfers from entering the facility grounds. Sami and Zlatan took up a reconnaissance position from within the bushes in the golf course. Encrypted comms allowed them radio contact with each other. Once in a while, golf balls would zip near their heads dangerously.
Doug ran a great Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space RPG session just in time for Halloween! Continuing the previous session Feet of Flesh, Feet of Steel!
After discovering that the blue box that the Doctor and Cindy brought them into was bigger on the inside, Max Fox the amnesiac robot engineer from the year 3027 and Doctor Olujimi the Kenyan country doctor from 1975 were ready to leave the planet Klaris.
At the control room, the Doctor - looking bewildered - asked if they smelled something cooking. Max and Olujimi did. They followed the Doctor who ran through a doorway that brought them even deeper into the TARDIS. Ultimately, they halted in a room full of pipes. There was a heavily-built man, blonde and barrel-chested with thick arms wearing a grimy apron and a chef's hat. He was frying a kipper while singing The Turkish Song of the Dead. There was no stove, just glowing hot surfaces in the room. He had an array of condiments and a bottle of olive oil on a makeshift shelf on the wall, which might not have been designed to be a shelf. Olujimi asked, "Why do you have Popeye in your blue box, Doctor?"
He introduced himself as Sebastian Cuddy a sailor from Alaska who the Doctor picked up at a previous stop. He offered them some kipper, but the Doctor was aghast at his usage of the Transducer Modifier as a hot plate. After being chided by the Doctor, Sebastian cheerfully stowed away his cooking gear. Even the kipper was stuffed into his trousers pocket.
Sebastian appeared to believe that they were aboard a seagoing vessel, talking as if the TARDIS had a sail, an engine room and a bilge.
Without warning the lights went out. Even the Doctor was surprised. In the dark there emerged a ghostly vision of five faces: An African man wearing a top hat, a lady, a little girl who suddenly threw a spectral brick at Max scaring him, a shivering man with pointy ears and a woman with her eyes looking down. Suddenly the woman looked up at them and screamed a spine-tingling shriek.
As abruptly as it appeared, the vision disappeared.
The Doctor called everyone to follow him as he returned to the control room. He pulled on levers and pressed on buttons. Everything rocked and swayed violently. Cindy, Sebastian, Max and Olujimi struggled to stay on their feet.
The rocking ceased and the Doctor rushed to the entrance and opened the door. Cindy told the others, "You'll get used to this."
Salem, Massachusetts, 17th Century Earth
To Max and Olujimi's wonder, the TARDIS was now standing in a small clearing forest field surrounded by maple, oak and birch trees on what is recognisably the planet Earth. The Doctor led them all through the woods where he claimed there should be a town. Soon, horse-drawn carts were trundling past them and chimney smoke rose into the blue sky not far away.
Eclipse Phase: Clouds of a Morning Star continued from the previous session at Wira Games and Hobbies.
Location: Aphrodite Prime, about 50 km above Venus' surface.
Active Gamera Security (GamSec) Personnel: DANAI and Wandering Ina (and Wandering Ina-α) the infomorphs, Boris Ivanov Rasputin the Second - a neo-hominid lawyer in the shaper morph, William Cable Jr. - paranoid terrorist in a neotenic pod morph and Hokusai Tarnungshaut - neo-octopus artist in a slitheroid morph.
Inactive Personnel: Badal Jones - Lunar Lagrange Alliance (LLA) envoy.
Mission: To provide security and investigative services to Badal's superior the LLA's ambassador during an art show at the Cumulus Hotel, where reclusive posthuman artist Marquis d’Homem-Christos would be showcasing alien sculptures he collected from the extraterrestrial Factors. LLA had intercepted a vague communique about a terrorist attack during the event and would like the attack thwarted. Their secondary mission was to help Gretchen Ambelina of Pax Familae by covertly disrupting the Marquis' event which will deal a blow to the terraforming efforts of Venus, something the Solid Ground Initiaive (SGI) was a proponent of, and what Venusian terrorist groups like the Free Fall Network (FFN) were against.
Crossposted on Obsidian Portal.
The Flurry of Planning Activities
Badal Jones stayed close to Karamojo Bell, his fellow Lunar ally and self-fashioned big game hunter from the Mare Imbrium Credit Union, whose biomorph killed during the battle with the flexbot combiner at the Ikea-Tata Constructions site at the Aviary. Unfortunately for Badal, Bell in his new morph has a new fun hobby: to get infected with tailored extinct diseases, enjoy the suffering and then purge the disease before the end. If he died from the disease, he would just happily resleeve in a new morph and enjoy a new disease all over again.
Elsewhere, Cable was just finishing up in a healing vat in a hospital, the medichines in his body expediting the treatment. Hokusai arrived to visit with some flowers. Unsure what to do with the flowers, he dumped the entire bouquet over the top of Cable's vat. Boris arrived shortly just in time to see flower petals drift down toward Cable's face.
Then Cable munched on them.
Back at the airship in his sheldon morph, Ina was preparing to unleash his DDOS attack onto the whole aerostat city's security systems. When Aphrodite Prime's systems would be under attack, it was hoped that the FFN's embedded agent would be flushed out. Meanwhile, out in the skies over Aphrodite Prime, a regatta was underway. Sleek, lighter-than-air racing dirigibles were circling the city's airspace.
Suddenly, the GamSec mesh network alerted them that the Marquis d'Homem Christos was now farcasting into his body all the way from his asteroid 163693 Atira. Isolated within the Marquis' resleeving computer in Total Rekall Resleeving Inc., DANAI and Ina-α were ready for action.