Category Archives: Session Logs

S3M 1×10: “Come Together”

Dramatis Personæ

At the Bad Omen, Tulk momentarily looks around, hoping to catch sight of Carter, then decides to consult the internal security cameras where he quickly confirms that his captive did in fact escape while stark naked … and with his hands still taped together. Tulk quickly gets dressed and is just about to depart the ship in an attempt to hunt down Carter when the rest of the crew returns, some at least slightly intoxicated. Zennith immediately begins complaining about the damage done to the cargo door, but they set this aside for the moment to concentrate on pursuit. Rather than splitting up, the crew stay together and, after briefly asking a couple of questions of locals and earning strange, uncomfortable looks in return, Bella openly asks someone about this wherein she learns that the gunfight from earlier has hit the local web-net where the faces of both AJ and Tulk are quite clear. Tulk suggests they hit Ella Guthrie’s bar on the presumption that Carter went there.

And it appears that he did. Outside of that bar are numerous police vehicles and the crew arrive just in time to see Carter being led out in handcuffs. Once the LEOs have withdrawn, Tulk suggests they speak to Ms. Guthrie and leads them in. When Guthrie approaches, she recognizes Bella and clearly has something of a history with her – and did AJ imagine the flat once-over the woman gave him upon realizing Bella was with him? Probably. It’s been a long day already. – but she’s far more pissed off that the crew has apparently fucked up her connection to the fucking stash by letting Carter get fucking apprehended, goddamit. She goes on for a time like this, using a copious amount of profanity, and tells Tulk that their “finder’s fee” for the stash will be not being black-listed on Laughing-Buddha. The crew exits.

While en route back to the Omen, Zennith start looking into hacking the police frequency to possibly locate the cops who left with Carter but realize that this will take some time. Rather than doing that, the crew (including Bella who thinks this is quite exciting!) suit up and take the coffin back to Carter’s habitation module with the intent of looking through his stuff in a likely futile attempt to figure out where the Hobbs stash is. There they find a single police “cruiser” parked outside and AJ suggests that Zennith rejigger the coffin’s LADAR to act like a laser microphone which we can ping the hab-module to listen in on what is said inside. What the crew hears are the sounds of fisticuffs – clearly, Carter is being roughed up and the fact that it is taking place way out here instead of at a precinct indicates that these LEOs are definitely acting off book. With Zennith quickly rigging up a jammer, the crew exits the coffin, leaving Bella behind to monitor comms.

With Tulk pausing to blast the police cruiser to disable it, Zennith hacks the alarm and AJ, thinking tactically, orders the crew to polarize their visors to ensure anonymity. They breach the hab-module with AJ in the front because of his space armor and find four “off-duty” LEOs roughing up Carter who is tied to a chair. Calista takes out one of the targets straight away and then Tulk does the same while AJ takes the extra second to aim … though it doesn’t matter as his target dives out of the way as Calista drops a second man; AJ’s target, upon seeing his three buddies down in mere seconds, wisely throws aside his weapon and surrenders. JoJo enters and gives the man a strong sedative that knocks him out, then does first aid on the men the crew shot to ensure none of them will bleed out. They then extract Carter … after he … passes the key that will allow them access to Cooper Hobb’s stash.

Jake Dorne
AKA “Carter”

According to Carter, the stash is about ten minutes away in the rim of a crater at the foot of Mt. Petrovka, at the “Left Eye of Buddha,” and he insists that, technically he hasn’t promised Guthrie anything, but AJ doesn’t quite buy this. They settle down near the appropriate location and exit the Coffin where they discover (with a bit of digging) a buried outpost that appears to be a subterranean habitation complex. Carter admits that he does not know the actual code so Tulk hacks into it. The crew pass through the airlock and enter the seriously, seriously old complex that has been abanadoned for 150 to 200 years. Inside a storage room, they find many hermetically sealed crates with really old Scotch which was 150 years old when it was sealed up, as well as crates full of metal slugs that were clearly unmade coins for counterfeiting cash two hundred years ago. Far more importantly, though, they find numerous hermetically sealed tubes containing works of art, including Cavallari’s original (probably) Sunrise; Carter seizes that one and doesn’t let it go.

Pressing on, the crew enter a control room where a virtual image of Hobbs appears, congratulates them for finding his stash, then gives them 30 minutes until it goes boom. It does not even occur to the crew to try to stop this countdown, something that will irritate them to no end later, and they quickly retrace their steps, gather up all of the paintings, then heft as many of the crates – scotch and slugs – as they can to exit.

Outside, they discover that Boss Winfrey has arrived along with his goons and is quite pleased that the crew appears to have done a lot of the heavy lifting. It seems rather obvious that he intends to just gun the crew down – which is potentially bad for him since AJ is recording this through his implant and is half a moment away from doing a wide-band upload – when Ella Guthrie arrives with her goons and an equally valid (it seems) legal claim. Tulk briefly interjects here and manages to divert Guthrie and Winfrey to start focusing more on which of them has the more legal claim. While this tense standoff continues, the crew inch away and toward the coffin; to the various thugs, they look like people more intent on getting out of the potential line of fire than trying to escape so no one stops them. This gives the crew the chance to pile into the coffin and bug out. As they do, Carter’s conscience gets the best of him and he contacts Guthrie to warn her of the impending explosion. When she flees, this clues in Winfrey who follows suit and soon after, Cooper Hobbs’ stash goes boom.

After a moment of consideration, Tulk reaches out to Guthrie and offers to use her as an intermediary to sell all of the loots. At first, she is utterly furious – and her profanity shows it! – but she calms down and agrees to his offer when Tulk points out that she’s still going to make a considerable amount of money on this. Carter is initially unexcited about returning to Tambo to his father but Tulk, knowing how smooth an operator Bella is, asks her to convince him … and she does with a few smiles and comments. Besides, the crew did save his life earlier.

The crew spends a little time off-loading captured firearms onto the gray market here as well as purchasing some medical drugs for JoJo, then loads up the cargo that Tulk obtained for them and departs Laughing Buddha. Upon arrival at Tambo, Tulk escorts Carter – who has left the Cavaleri Sunrise behind – to Walt … after having provided Carter with some knock-out drugs that he can use to make good his escape. Walt is pleased and declares that his agreement with Tulk is complete – the slate is clean. And then, a little later, Carter returns to the dockhouse, retrieves his painting and heads out to start arranging for a museum to buy it.

For the crew, it has been a pretty productive day…

Player Notes:

  • The firefight was over without the PCs taking any fire. Ambushes really suck for the poor bastard getting ambushed.
  • AJ totally kept a painting. I expect that, since he’s Unlucky, this is going to come back and bite him in the ass … or since Bella is “Trouble on Two Legs,” he’ll end up having to use it to get her out of a jam. If neither of those happen, I expect he’ll eventually start feeling a bit guilty and start looking into returning it to its proper owner.
  • Tulk discussed the Crew getting a share of whatever profits Carter gets for returning that painting and I’m thinking that needs to be an adventure itself: take him out-system to somewhere else (maybe the USA capital?) and deal with the inevitable pirates sent after the PCs by Boss Winfrey.

S3M 1×09: “Wayward Son”

Dramatis Personæ

It is around 22:00 local with the Coffin en route back to the Omen. At Tulk’s request, AJ pressurizes the craft so that Tulk can chat with Carter regarding the guys who were chasing him. Carter demands to know who the Crew are as they clearly aren’t employees of “Boss” Winfrey; this gives Tulk an angle and he gets confirmation that the men pursuing Carter are cops. Carter grudgingly reveals that he is seeking the lost stash of Cooper Hobbs, a post-Exodus villain of some notoriety who was rumored to have used Laughing Buddha as a hiding spot for his captured loots, including a stolen painting, the original Cavallari Sunrise which is potentially worth millions. During this interrogation, Tulk gets a ping from his data mining program which is set to alert him when any of his previous aliases are used, but he pretends not to notice.

Jake Dorne
AKA “Carter”

They dock with the Omen and, while AJ runs through the power down sequence, Tulk and JoJo escort Carter to the hold. Upon recognizing his father’s company trade-dress on the rented habitation module, Carter tries to bolt but is wrestled into submission and punched. Realizing that they need a more long-term solution, Tulk sends JoJo to retrieve his medical gear so he can set up a drip to keep Carter asleep. This gives Carter an opportunity and he makes a run for it. After dodging out of the way of Tulk’s pistol whip to the face, Carter scrambles up the stairs into the mid-level, but Calista, who has been alerted to the noise, launches herself down from the tower, slamming both feet squarely into Carter’s back and sending him stumbling. JoJo, who has by now retrieved his needler, springs forward and jams it into Carter’s neck, injecting a strong sedative that knocks their kidnap job out. AJ is just now exiting the Coffin and shakes his head. Tulk strip Carter out of his smart vacc suit and his clothes, then scans him to ensure that there weren’t any surprises, and lets JoJo set up a sedative drip. They relocate the unconscious Carter to a bed where the doctor can monitor him.

While this is going on, AJ chats with Calista about the local rules regarding duels and then asks her if she’s capable and willing to stand in as his second before retiring to his cabin where he sleeps surprisingly well. Meanwhile, Calista retreats to her cabin where she wakes up Zennith to let him know about the duel; Zennith starts thinking about making a directed sound weapon to distract AJ’s foe. Tulk retires himself and reviews his mail, learning that it is a leaked intra-agency vmail stating that they have a new image of the “second man” in the IBM embezzlement case with a BOLO order. The leak comes from FreeSpace, a hacker organization like WikiLeaks or Anonymous. Tulk then spends several hours looking for cargo; he finds two lots, but only wins one. Meanwhile, JoJo watches over their patient, has another hamburger, and gets some sleep.

AJ is up early the following day and secrets himself in the cockpit to play the violin in order to center himself. A little bit before the time of the duel, the Crew (minus Tulk, who remains behind on the Omen) head out to the park. There is a small courtyard within the park that, if there wasn’t potential ensuing bloodshed, might actually be peaceful. Exactly on time, Bale’s entourage arrives and it is a considerable one, with Boellan, Tohre-Chi, and others. Bella is in their midst and appears unscathed – she offers AJ a hesitant smile – but far more curious to AJ is how none of Bale’s entourage are willing to look AJ in the eyes.

‘I’m pleased that you decided to show up after all,’ Bale tells AJ who replies stiffly that he said he would before shifting his full attention to Bella and asking if she is okay. Bale then gives a speech, something he appears pretty good at doing, about them being present to see that honor is satisfied. Bella is given an opportunity to give AJ one last cuddle; she whispers for AJ to not kill Bale which momentarily causes AJ to give her a confused look before shoving that aside and focus instead on Bale. The two men square off and AJ, falling back on his Taareh training, removes his shirt to reveal the extensive scarring he received at the hands of Terran Federal Republic interrogators. Bale is momentarily surprised, then acknowledges ‘Taareh style’ and does the same, though he is nowhere near as scarred. The two men meet in the center of the courtyard with their swords and the duel begins.

They circle one another and then Bale lunges forward first. AJ draws first blood with a lucky strike – he parries a thrust, then counters with a slash that carves a bloody furrow across the pirate’s chest and causes him to go to a knee in agonized shock. The entourage audibly gasp in surprise at this and AJ steps forward to threaten with his cutlass. ‘Are we done?’ he asks, but Bale responds with a gruff, ‘I’m not quite done yet.’ AJ, being an honorable sort, lets the man stand and recover his weapon. They clash again and AJ parries, sideslips and thrusts. Only after the duel is complete does AJ realizes that Bale intentionally fumbled his parry. Bale goes down, this time unable to continue, and AJ calls out for a medic – JoJo springs forward to do first aid. AJ then turns to Bale’s second, Atilios, and repeats his previous question: ‘Are we done here?’ The big Praxian nods as a barely conscious Bale weakly declares that honor is satisfied before he is hurried off to a hospital. Bella throws herself into AJ’s arms gleefully and, when asks what that was about, she whispers that they’ll discuss it later, after they celebrate.

Back at the Omen, Tulk is finally asleep when he is buzzed awake due to an alarm advising him that someone is at the door. He activates the vid and recognizes “Boss” Winfrey, along with multiple beefy-looking cops. Winfrey informs Tulk that he is present to serve a warrant to search the ship for a fugitive. As a delaying tactic, Tulk puts the boss on hold while he calls the captain (who informs Tulk that he’s gathering the rest of the crew); when he gets back to Winfrey, the man identifies Tulk by name. Thinking quickly, Tulk declares that there is a ramp malfunction that he’s looking into; he then rushes to where Carter is sedated, jams a stimulant into the unconscious man to wake him. Once Carter is conscious, the two manage to get him into the stealth compartment. When Tulk finally does open the ramp to allow Winfrey and the cops entrance, he realizes that his attempts to make the malfunction look real has actually damaged the ramp.

The warrant looks valid and the trail that Winfrey’s boys followed is logical – LB’s flight control logged the Coffin although AJ’s flight path was sufficiently difficult to follow that the LEOs aren’t entirely positive that it was the Coffin – and Tulk accompanies them as they search through the ship. As they do so, Tulk plays up the mercenary card and learns that Winfrey is on the hunt for Carter for unspecified reasons; fortunately, the LEOs did not bring a bio-sniffer and do not find anything. They depart, irritated, and Tulk waits long enough for them to get clear before returning to the habitation module where he finds the door open. Carter is gone.

Tulk rushes to the ramp and looks across the concourse but finds no sign of Carter even though the man was stark naked. ‘Well, shit,’ Tulk murmurs.

Player Notes:

  • GM rambled on in the beginning about what exactly is “illegal” in the S3M-universe … and we never actually resolved this.
  • We’ve run into this issue before where one PC monopolizes the limelight due to the ongoing narrative; in a game I ran relatively recently, I’ve also had a duel with just one PC active. I do wish there was some way to better incorporate the other players into a scenario like this.
  • AJ’s victory against Bale was kind of tainted with the pirate sort of throwing the fight at the end, but prior to that, AJ was actually winning so it counts. With Giger’s approval, I went ahead and picked up off-setting Reputations, a +1 with low-lifes & pirate wannabes as “Badass Pirate Duelist” and a -1 with LEOs as a vigilante pirate hunter. I sort of envision this reputation as being more trouble as it is worth, sort of like a ‘Jim Holden’ from The Expanse kind of rep or a badass gunslinger in the 1800s where idiots just seem intent on testing him.
  • It was certainly Unlucky of Tulk to be on the ship by himself when Boss Winfrey & Co. showed up. And, as a fan of “Justified,” I totally envisioned that show with this ending.

S3M 1×08: “Fight Fire With Fire”

Dramatis Personæ

We resume in media res but, like all great “cliffhangers”, we back up a few seconds. The Blue Neptune guys (and their hired thugs) have surrounded the Crew in a darkened alley and their leader begins to issue his proclamation but Calista is having none of it. Before the guy can even finish – he gets out ‘You mi tian gohn killed two of our guys’ – she fast-draws her heavy laser pistol and pumps five shots into his center-mass. While the would-be ambushers were intending violence, they clearly weren’t expecting to not be the ones who kicked it off and the man goes down; he’s not dead but is very badly injured. Calista then springs toward her husband, intending on shoving him to safety, while both Tulk and JoJo dive for the cover. Unfortunately for poor Tulk, his attempt to draw his blaster while jumping over an obstruction results in him fumbling the weapon and dropping it. Meanwhile, AJ aggressively attacks an opponent who is directly in front of him, utilizing his Krav Maga skills, but the man dodges out of the way before bringing up his urban assault weapon (in SMG mode) and spraying wildly. Being so close to him, AJ is able to parry the weapon away to avoid getting hit which, luckily for him, nails one of the thugs squarely in the head, killing him instantly, a fact that no one is entirely aware at the moment.

Jerking out of their momentary surprise, the two remaining upright hostiles react quickly, with one of them spraying a full burst at the two Moss’. Calista recognizes the danger in time to jerk out of the way but Zennith is caught flat-footed and takes two Gauss rounds, one to the chest and one to the arm. His armor holds but his arm is crippled and he goes down to his knees with a pained cry. At the same time, another hostile backpedals to cover where he switches his UAW to shotgun-mode. Furious at her husband’s injury, Calista reacts on instinct and dumps a full burst of laser-fire at the shooter, taking her squarely in the chest; as with Zennith, the woman’s armor holds but she is staggered and badly wounded. Tulk goes for his holdout laser rather than jumping back out of cover to retrieve his blaster as does JoJo, but neither are especially good at that so it takes them a second to draw their weapons. AJ presses his attack, opting to thrust his still-sheathed cutlass at the throat of his target; despite the attack being clearly telegraphed, the man fails to defend and AJ slams his weapon – his scabbard, really – home. Gasping for breath and badly injured, the man drops his weapon and goes to all fours. Seeing that most of her allies are downed, the grievously injured shooter who Calista had just nailed scrambles toward cover just as the first man Calista shot – the team speaker – recovers his wits sufficiently to start crawling away. He won’t get far before Tulk starts spraying wildly with his holdout laser; the shots are ineffective but certainly cause the man to exert himself more than he should, which results in him passing out. Calista spares a second to give Zennith a once-over before calling out for a medic, which Jojo reacts to immediately but jumping out of cover and sprinting toward the two. AJ then knee strikes his kneeling foe, which results in another KO. The woman that Calista shot also succumbs to unconsciousness from her injuries, though she is out of sight at the moment, and the last man still standing tosses in a smoke grenade to cover his hurried (and likely panicked) retreat. The shooting has stopped.

AJ secures his foe’s urban assault weapon once he realizes that the grenade was a prismatic smoke which significantly reduces the efficacy of lasers and then moves to protect JoJo and Zennith, while Calista moves in on the woman who shot her husband; she ends the woman with a shot to the head while, at the same time, Tulk retrieves his blaster and does the same to the first man shot. He also quickly and efficiently loots the bodies, securing their weapons, datapads and spare fundage they may have. With Zennith stabilized, AJ makes the call for them to relocate to somewhere ‘calmer’ to avoid any police issues, no matter that Calista knows the local law enforcement is sluggish to respond at best. Once in a more secure location, JoJo takes a more in-depth look at the now thoroughly drugged up Zennith and declares he requires surgery to remove at least one of the gauss rounds. While AJ briefly breaks away from the group to obtain a spacer’s duffel that they can carry their new firearms in, they discuss their best options and defer to Calista’s superior knowledge of the colony so it’s onto a clinic they go. Tulk takes the lead with the medic on-call, using monies taken from the Neptune thugs to bribe their way into the surgery suite. He and AJ will remain outside while JoJo operates and Calista attempts to assist; fortunately for Zennith, JoJo is skilled enough that he can work around Calista’s “help” and an hour or so later, he’s stitching Mister Moss. In that time, Tulk has hacked one of the retrieved datapads and identified the Blue Neptune’s berth; he suggests that he and Calista go “have a look” while AJ takes JoJo and the drugged out Zennith back to the Omen. Despite thinking this is probably a bad idea, AJ agrees.

At the Neptune’s berth, Calista and Tulk find it absent of any hostiles so Tulk decides to try and hack in. He’s successful and the two manage to gain access to the empty ship, then decide to make a statement. Using their knowledge of shipboard systems, they blast away, effectively crippling the vessel for a while. As they depart, they lock the airlock door in the open position so anyone who wants to board her can. This is dirty pool but these two low down dirty scheming schemers excel at that and it sends a pretty damned effective message. Of course, a new Enemy might have been generated, but who cares?

It is well into evening when they return and discuss their options. Zennith is asleep, sleeping the sleep of the heavily medicated, but JoJo is satisfied that he’ll be back to full health within twelve hours thanks to the drugs and nano-boosters. Having obtained “Carter’s” coordinates earlier, AJ, JoJo and Tulk decide to take the Coffin to scout out the area while Calista remains behind and keeps an eye on her husband (and the ship should any Blue Neptune morons decide to come looking for payback. It is a relatively short jaunt in the Coffin and, upon approach, they are able to detect multiple heat signatures in and around the hidey-hole. There is also a contragrav vehicle present that Calista, monitoring the feeds from the Omen, identifies as the model that LunaSecure cops on LB tend to use. The Crew opts to loiter for a bit, just out of visual, and are able to deduce that the LEOs – if they are law enforcement officers – are looking for something … or someone. At a certain point, when all of the heat signatures believed to represent the LEOs are inside the the habitation module, another heat sig climbs out of the roof and starts bounding away. Within moments, the LEOs scramble out as well and head toward their vehicle. Having far superior speed, maneuverability, and just a better angle on the target, AJ is able to bring the Coffin down in front of him while Tulk throws up the hatch and gestures with his intimidating-looking blaster. The vac-suited guy – who is Jake (or Carter or whatever he’s calling himself) quickly realizes he’s stuck between a rock and a very hard place, and climbs aboard. With the flashing lights of the “police” cruiser well behind them, the Coffin races down a few canyons, goes dark, and then burns toward vacuum.

Player Notes:

  • More paperwork at the beginning! Established payment plan for partners and employees – percentages, not regular payments.
  • Most of this session was taken up by the fight, but that’s okay ’cause it was a pretty amusing encounter.
  • AJ’s parrying of the UAW and the round taking out one of the mooks was sheer luck and I doubt I could have managed it if I actually tried. First, the initial full 10-round burst (I think?) by the GM had a horribly crappy roll so only like three rounds would have impacted AJ; because I’d already moved up to him, I was able to parry the SMG/Shotgun combo and did so with Extra Effort, obtaining a result high enough to avoid all rounds. Then, the GM calculated effective skill of the UAW to hit the “friendly” in the bad guy’s line-of-fire and it was 8. I rolled a 7, then followed up with a 4 on random hit location which is skull. GM determined the damage and it was insta-death. Amusingly, the shooter is the only one of the four who were downed that survived.
  • Tulk’s decision to break into the Blue Neptune and the ease with which he did so is making us rethink our own security protocols. Tulk already has Steg as an Ally, but clearly, he needs to buy up his frequency of appearance so we can have Steg stay on the ship while we’re off it.

S3M 1×07: “Bad Moon Rising”

Dramatis Personæ

Early in the return trip, JoJo receives a recorded message from the clinic regarding the guy he rescued; evidently, this man – who the clinic knows only as “Dirk” – checked himself out with warning or forwarding address. Some days later, Tulk then receives a message from “Walt” (the guy he rented the habitation module from) who advises him that he’s calling in that owed favor: Walt wants him to go to Laughing Buddha to find and pick up his worthless, good for nothing son, Jake. For that, he can hold onto the hab module for the rest of the month. After receiving this message, Tulk then informs the rest of the Crew about this job although he does not tell them that this is due to an owed favor.

A day and a half from Tambo, the USS Bunker Hill breaks off from escorting them. Orbital mechanics puts Tambo closer to Laughing-Buddha and as the Bad Omen is running on fumes, it is decided that they will go ahead a dock at the station, fuel up, and look for any cargo that may need to go to LB. Early on 15 March, AJ is woken with alert that they are entering ATC controlled space and he handles the docking without difficulty. Fuel-up is scheduled and, per Tulk’s request, AJ posts an intended departure date for their trip to LB. The Crew depart the office to attend to personal matters.

The two Moss’ immediately begin looking into getting rid of the weapons seized from the rockjumpers on the Tohre-Chi ship. During this time, one of Calista’s old associates contacts her regarding her ongoing search for illicit side-jobs and advises her that the Guthrie Trade Company on LB is interviewing crews for monthly runs. As it turns out, Calista knows about the Guthries, having spent much of her formative years on LB: they have a reputation as a good business with lots of in-system work and some that takes them out of Helene; they also have a rep for selling anything to anyone. There is also some minor scandal regarding them as Ella Guthrie runs the company and is the daughter of Midway’s Vice-Proxy. Calista contacts Tulk about this job opportunity and the two scheme to keep AJ in the dark because they’re both low-down dirty scheming schemers.

While seeking out potential cargo jobs, Tulk discovers only one intended for Laughing Buddha – 6-tons worth of dry bulk freight – and arranges a face-to-face with the broker where he ultimately ends up bribing the guy to ensure that DSD gets the job. He also checks for potential passengers and the first one he locates simply seems too high maintenance, so he passes.

JoJo is still settling into his new apartment so his time off is consumed there, but AJ goes home and finds the front door unlocked which almost causes a moment of panic until he hears two voices he recognizes: Bella and Julie. Knowing that the two women really don’t like each other, he’s surprised (and then really worried) at how nice they seem to be toward one another. Unable to discreetly escape, he learns they are making wedding plans and abruptly remembers the still unopened invitation on his desk at the office. Bella, who is being uncharacteristically territorial, accepts the invitation for both of them. Julie then declares that the Sophie crew is back on Tambo, having completed a job, and arrangements are made to meet up at Hard Vacuum as per normal. Once she’s gone, AJ demands to know why Bella promised that they would go to the wedding and she gives him a cryptic “You need closure” remark.

At the bar that evening, the new engineer of the Sophie, Jeremiah Powers, drunkenly challenges Zennith to an ‘engineer-off’: whoever can get a jury-rigged rocket crafted from only materials on-hand from the bar higher is the winner. Steg then donates two 10mm explosive tip rounds and the building begins! Unfortunately, Zennith crit-fails his roll so his rocket explodes and causes a great mess; Powers is overly exuberant at this victory but too drunk to really do more than gloat. Meanwhile, JoJo makes an effort to chat up the Sophie’s medic, Desi, with regards to medical stuff – because sick people are high-larious – and appears to hit it off with her.

That evening, Tulk gets word than a new passenger is looking at transport and meets with the man who is extraordinarily wishy-washy about whether he wants to actually go. Tulk tries to talk him into it but is not very successful. He shrugs it off.

The crew assembles in the morning at the dockhouse – Bella insists on accompanying AJ so as to go shopping and play the slots. They secure the newly delivered freight and, while AJ goes forward to plot the course, Bella and Calista chat before the former talks the latter into letting Bella do Calista’s makeup.

An hour later, the Omen arrives at Dodge Colony on LB, which is like Las Vegas under domes, a veritable wretched hive of scum and villainy. The Crew gears up and exits the ship, then arranges for the cargo to be delivered. It is very early – about 0600 local – and their planned meeting with Guthrie is many hours away. Once the cargo is off-loaded, the Crew seek out a place for breakfast then break apart to conduct searches into Jake Dorn’s activities where they find out that he is going by “Carter” now. There are also several social media references to Guthrie’s bar.

AJ and Bella wander off themselves so she can lose money on the slots and shop at the various small markets. While in those markets, she taps a guy on the shoulder to get directions and, unluckily for AJ, this man turns out to be none other than Samson Bale who recognizes AJ. They exchange words – there is a reference to their past encounter, “Captain’s right, I believe,” the pirate states – and Bale suggests they meet the next day with cutlasses to resolve this. Just to keep AJ honest, Bale and his many armed men take Bella hostage. Furious but unable to act without getting dogpiled, AJ warns Bale that if she is harmed at all, he will burn them all down. As she is escorted away, Bella tells Bale that AJ is going to gut him like a fish.

Tulk and the rest of the Crew scope out the Guthrie’s bar and happen to notice the two survivors of the Blue Neptune who escaped when they tried (and failed) to rob the Hard Vacuum; these men are leaving the bar. AJ rejoins them, advises them of the Bale issue and then, on Tulk’s recommendation, breaks away again (since he won’t be of any use to them in these negotiations), muttering under his breath about getting a cutlass. The rest of the Crew meet with Ella Guthrie where Tulk does most of the talking; she wonders where their pilot is, then when informed about the planned duel, declares that if AJ kills Bale in this duel, she will consider this a plus in her book. Tulk also asks about Carter and finds out that he’s digging for some sort of buried treasure; when asked why he’s interested, Tulk tells Ms. Guthrie that “there’s money riding on it.” She tells him that she would like to know how that conversation plays out.

Once the meeting concludes – no decision has been made yet, of course – AJ rejoins the crew, having purchased a cutlass and looking decidedly grim. As the Crew entered a dangerous-looking area, the Blue Neptune crewmembers step out of concealment along with several other thugs. “You killed two of our guys,” one of the Neptune men says. “We’re here to take it out of your ass.”

Player Notes:

  • More paperwork at the beginning! Evidently, annual maintenance is 3 months away and will cost more than we have in the bank.
  • GM was unaware that Tulk also has Unluckiness – no wonder DSD can’t get a break: the two main owners are both Unlucky!
  • AJ once challenged Bale to a duel when the Crew was mostly captured, but nothing came of it. Until now. Thankfully, GM allowed me to retroactively purchase the appropriate skills so as to be at least competent with a cutlass since it’s a Navy thing and AJ is former Navy.

S3M 1×06: “Bad Company”

Dramatis Personæ

Only moments have passed since Tulk fired the shots that crippled the stealth launch and the second launch has raced to dock with the Tohre-Chi ship. The boarding party is aware that they’re about to have company (bad company at that!) as well as finally noting that JoJo has wandered off. Mister “Black” of the Unit decides that most of his team will go down a level, then make their way aft in an attempt to flank the approaching hostiles while leaving behind one of their number to continue cutting out computer core; the Bad Omen Crew will need to “hold the line” and AJ quickly hashes out a rough tactical plan. He goes to the ceiling (thanks to the zero-gee environment) where he wedges himself into place while directing Calista to a nicely defensible spot that will also give her great fields of fire. Zennith continue to poke around the CIC, looking for things of interest (to him, anyway) while below-decks, JoJo endeavors to communicate with the now wakening (and very badly damaged/injured) Tohre-Chi. The doctor is somewhat successful in this and then begins patching up the alien’s environment suit with his own suit’s emergency repair kit. Meanwhile, Tulk is able to tell that the people in the first launch are trying to facilitate repairs and draw closer to the Omen, probably in order to attempt a boarding action; he fiddles with the comms and issues a “stand down or I will shoot the shit out of you” order.

On the Tohre-Chi ship, the Hostiles approach, laying down ineffective suppressive fire to cover their advance, which result in AJ and Calista engaging them from distance. AJ opens up with the close-assault weapon he obtained on Lucifer and the APDS slugs rip through one of the boarders’ suit, likely killing him instantly, and Calista lights up another man with her heavy laser pistol, badly wounding him and basically turning him combat ineffective. Facing this unexpectedly heavy return fire, the boarders’ advance completely stalls out and they hunker down under cover to exchange shots that don’t hit much of anything. At the sound of the firefight beginning, JoJo is surprised that the Tohre-Chi reacts and heads toward the firefight; over the comms, the doctor quickly tells everyone not to shoot his new friend and barely gets this across before the alien passes through the Unit who have reached their jump-off point and are about to engage the Hostiles. Still, AJ takes a bead on the Tohre-Chi as it appears due to its proximity to the reactor – he is concerned that the thing is going to try and cause the entire ship to go boom and plans to shoot the “shark” before then. Seeing the wisdom in this, Zennith secures his discovery – a compact, folded up Tohre-Chi gauss rifle – to his suit and draws his own laser pistol to join the “line” while his wife continues to lay down a withering barrage of suppressive fire herself.

Over on the Omen, Tulk hasn’t received word back from the other launch and is now able to see heat signatures exiting it. He neither knows nor cares if they’re just trying to abandon a crippled vessel, and instead re-engages with the Omen’s laser. Most of his shots are misses given the distances involved and his general inexperience with shipboard weapon systems, but enough of them strike home to turn the craft into a floating derelict. He’s also pretty sure that he nails several of the rock-jumpers who were exiting the launch. All in all, its a very bad day for them.

The Tohre-Chi launches itself into the fight, deploying some sort of cybernetic claws, and immediately draws all fire from the hostile boarders. Before things can get completely out of hand, though, the Unit engages … and they are not shooting to wound. In seconds, all hostiles – including JoJo’s new friend – are down and the ship is secure. Now with the computer core cut free, the Unit is ready to bug out although Zennith desperately wants to stay for a while longer. AJ agrees only to let them take some extra time making their way back to the docked launch so Moss can try and secure interesting samples for study. At the launch, Mister Black announces a change to the plan: there is no way for the Omen to outrun the Alliance frigate, USS Bunker Hill, so he and his team will take the functional stealth launch and use it to make good their escape while the Crew surrender to the Hill. The very notion of surrendering at all, especially to legal authorities, causes both Calista and Tulk to get upset, but AJ acknowledges the wisdom in this since he, better than the rest of the Crew, knows what the Hill is capable of and he knows that, technically, DSD, Inc. has done nothing wrong. As captain, he agrees to this on the condition that they allow Zennith to obtain some samples from the launch that Tulk ripped apart with the Omen’s laser. Mister Black is okay with that since they need to blow up that craft anyway and he likely doubts that Moss is going to learn that much from just a couple of pieces. With the key to the escrow account with the rest of their payment (plus a little extra) in hand, the crew examines the undamaged launch & discover it has jury-rigged flight controls that function well enough. AJ takes the controls – he’s always wanted to fly an alien ship, so this is one thing off his bucket list – and takes them to the other launch, now a drifting derelict, where the Crew secures the stealth samples while the Unit plants another explosive. All of the Unit’s gear is relocated to the launch and the two ships part ways with AJ pointing the Omen at the Hill so they can just ‘get it over with.’ Once they’re more than 10K kilometers away from the Tohre-Chi ship, there are several flashes as the charges detonate.

The Hill identifies the Crew’s approach vector and issue a “stand down and prepare to be boarded for inspection” order, something they did not do earlier, and AJ signals compliance on a wide-beam transmission so the entire system could potentially hear it. The two ships dock some hours later and armored marines board where they inform the Crew that the captain would like to speak with them. AJ, being the only ex-military member of the Crew, takes lead and goes into savoir-faire mode in an effort to make up for Calista and Tulk being in uncooperative moods. Once aboard the Hill, the crew are scanned and then secured, with AJ being led away to an interrogation room. He has uncomfortable memories of rooms like this from his time in the TFR following the disappearance of the Normandie and falls back on old habits by running wormhole calculations in his head to defeat any potential psychic scans. Soon after, Commander Savage, the ship’s captain, enters and quickly notes AJ’s distraction. With nothing to hide, AJ tells the pure, unvarnished truth and provides data recordings of their encounters with the Unit to back this up. Before they conclude this interrogation, AJ makes sure that CDR Savage knows that any blowback from this must fall on him (AJ), not the other members of his Crew who were just following the chain-of-command. Savage says he will do what he can but doesn’t promise anything.

Tulk is next and he is more than a little irritated at having to go through this crap at all, so he decides to share his pain by dragging out his story for as long as he can while couching it from a purely administrative and economic point-of-view, which likely makes the interrogation hideously dull. JoJo is next and his utter inability to lie results in him spilling absolutely everything that he knows and then some, which means he’s out very quickly by way of comparison. Calista doesn’t even try to hide her lack of interest in being here since she knows that AJ has all of this recorded. As a result, she’s ‘compliant, but not helpful,’ answering questions in terse sentences that use the bare minimum of words necessary to get the point across. When she leaves, she gets the feeling that Savage doesn’t like her and she doesn’t care. Zennith, who is still annoyed at the (in his opinion) unnecessary destruction of a technological treasure trove, takes the opportunity to rant at CDR Savage about the general stupidity of humans in destroying things they don’t understand. In the course of this, he basically counter-questions Savage who acknowledges that his orders were really unclear and he didn’t even know about the Tohre-Chi ship until just recently. The Bunker Hill’s captain also implies that his orders indicated that Mister Black’s Unit – who he references as Special Operations Group Team Nine – might have been rogue.

With the entire Crew interrogated, Savage advises them that he is releasing them because he does not consider them to be complicit with any wrong-doing. He does not state they are wholly free and clear as the Alliance could potentially still charge them (although Zennith at least hears this as “you’re innocent of all charges”; AJ being former Navy himself recognizes military CYA speak when he hears it), though CDR Savage does not think there is anything they actually could be charged with. He further states that the Bunker Hill will escort them back to Tamborro Station and the Crew return to their boat. They’re going home.

Player Notes:

  • More “paperwork” taken care of in the beginning – we established that the Rival Crew has a frequency of appearance of 9 or less (won’t appear in the next session, it seems) and that the “bank job” that the Moss couple have in mind to recover their monies will also feature on a 9 or less (also won’t appear next time.) We also determined that, excluding the payment for this job, DSD, Inc. has 2 months of operating expenses available.
  • The majority of the session was a “loose” fight – I say loose because the GM used the combat sequence (Base Speed to determine who goes when), but we clearly weren’t using 1 second rounds.
  • This is actually the first time that AJ has used that shotgun in combat; he obtained it from the pirate lair in “The Sabo Affair” but then the campaign just sort of fizzled out and we never came back to it. Until now, I did not realize how much damage the thing could do, especially with the APDS ammo I had in it. We determined that a shot from that could potentially penetrate the inner bulkheads of the Bad Omen (which is insane).
  • Many of the PCs were (understandably) frustrated at having to surrender to the Bunker Hill even though AJ saw the wisdom in this and pushed it forward. Zennith was probably more upset at the Unit for blowing up the Tohre-Chi ship.
  • Many were the jokes with regards to exactly what JoJo was doing with the Tohre-Chi. I tried to ensure that Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” started playing each time it came around to his turn again (thanks, YouTube!)
  • Zennith has obtained a TL11 fold-up Tohre-Chi Gauss rifle which he plans to reverse-engineer, then get to working and give to his wife as anniversary present even though she’s more of a beam weapons girl.
  • GM will have to comment but I don’t think there were any survivors from Tulk’s mad minute with the Omen’s lasers…
  • Once more, “The Expanse” has seeped into the game. The interrogation on the Hill intentionally evoked the Martian interrogation of the surviving Canterbury crew in season 1, complete with the super-focusing drugs. There were also shades of the interrogation scene in “Firefly,” with Zennith sort of being Kaylee, Calista filling in for Jayne, and JoJo taking on Wash’s exuberant babbling role.

S3M 1×05: “Shot in the Dark”

Dramatis Personæ

It is about 22:00 local, 26 Feb. As the session begins, the PCs are still discussing best options for determining how to break line-of-sight and have reached what amounts to a plan: once within the Far Belt during the decel phase, engine trouble will be faked and they will “set down” on a rotating rock, then launch from the dark side of this rock before going silent. It will take multiple days to reach the target rock, so AJ spends about 15 hours (total) working out the new route. By his calculations, they should reach the final target on or around 6 March.

The Crew has a lot of time to kill before everything starts blowing up in their faces. JoJo mostly spends time with V.R. tutoring and practicing his Muay Thai, which definitely leads to AJ sparring with him to determine how Krav Maga stacks against it. They find themselves fairly evenly matched with about equivalent skill levels. Tulk digs into the names he obtained from his television friend and is able to determine they’re all IBM employees. Calista generally hangs out with the crew in order to get to know them better, but also checks discreetly to see if there are any future jobs for her to handle on the side. Zennith, being a workaholic, focuses much of his time handling shipboard maintenance, although AJ is also present for some of this time to learn new engineering skills required for certain certifications; in his spare time, Zennith also works on a robot hamster for his wife. In addition to the above-mentioned items, AJ also ends up watching a recording of Bella’s play where he finds her not as terrible as he feared; he also interacts with their passengers in an attempt to get to know them better, especially once Tulk discreetly reveals that he’s eavesdropped a little bit and suspects the Unit are Confederacy personnel, not USA.

On the third day out from home, Tamborro Station, the USS Bunker Hill is detected to have launched, evidently on a hard burn in the direction of the Omen. Tulk is on watch when this happens and alerts AJ who knows the Hill is twice as fast as they are. Based on the current math, the Crew is about five days from their false destination, FN-2187, and the Hill would arrive within a few hours of them, not counting the impending distraction.

Day Seven approaches and the Omen reaches the designated time to execute their deception. The dual effort between AJ and Zennith turns out to be awesome; Zennith forces a fuel overfeed in engine two that results in a very visible backfire, and with a hard and sudden decel that is actually concerning to all parties but the pilot and engineer, but instead of landing, use the asteroid as cover and slingshot hard on the new vector before going dark. From passive sensors, they’re able to deduce that the Hill was completely spoofed and have given themselves an extra 12 hours before she will be able to intercept them.

Once they reach the mission site, it takes about 30 minutes for the Cew to eventually locate the blacked out Tohre-Chi ship … and it’s a big one, looking to displace around 500-600 tons or so. Everyone dons vac-suits and Zennith evacuates oxygen from the Omen … just in case. AJ orbits the Tohre-Chi ship for a bit so they can identify an entry point; during this, they determine that the two smallcraft normally attached to this ship are missing and there appears to be a really cheap worklight in one of the open bays, strongly indicating that some rockhoppers found this and have staked out a claim. This will be their entry point and AJ, knowing that Tulk positively sucks in zero-gee, has him stay behind to man the sensors while the rest of the crew spacewalk over.

Neither Moss particularly appreciate the zero-gee ops, but AJ is clearly an expert in doing so. The Crew and the Unit board the Tohre-Chi ship and begin moving slowing toward the ‘front’ with Zennith identifying stuff along the way. They find enough evidence to nearly confirm the presence of some rockhoppers living here and, upon entering the CIC, AJ is able to note that the blackbox is gone. The Unit begins cutting out the computer core.

Back in the Omen, Tulk is startled when a ship appears mostly out of nowhere – it is one of the missing Tohre-Chi smallcraft! It buzzes him but foolishly drifts into the Omen’s field of fire so Tulk remote fires the laser cannon which pretty much cripples the smaller ship. However, the second smallcraft appears and dives toward the Tohre-Chi ship, docking hurriedly before Tulk can puzzle out how to reorient the Omen and shoot it too. He warns the boarders … they’re about to have company!

At the same time, a bored JoJo has wandered away from the others and discovers what appears to be a suit of Tohre-Chi armor plugged into the ship. Just as everyone feels the vibrations of the smallcraft docking through the deck, the Tohre-Chi’s eyes suddenly light up…

Player Notes:

  • Ended the session early because GM doubted the impending fight would be over quickly. Like more than half of the gaming group, he’d also had a very difficult work week and had not prepped as much as he would like.
  • As a player, I’d like to figure out how to streamline some of the maths more, particularly with regards to in-system navigation stuffs. They aren’t terrible but I hate math of all sorts so honestly, I’d prefer a spreadsheet I could just plop my die results in and it figure the crap out for me. We’ve got something like that for Mass Combat so I may be bothering the GM to do that for the astrography and navigation stuff.
  • Am wondering how we could have sped up the trip time. Once we establish a SOP for what a character does, a Time Use thing is probably the way to go, then we can skip past the “You’ve got 6 long and boring days to the target. What do you do in that time?” kind of questions since the normal answer would probably be “I do what I normally do during this time.”

S3M 1×04: “Every Breath You Take”

Dramatis Personæ

At the dockhouse, Calista and Zennith are working on pre-launch prep when the habitation module arrives and is secured within the Bad Omen. Calista is given the key fob that opens the stealth compartments; according to the delivery person, the fob is the only way to access these hidden sections of the module. Soon after, the Coffin arrives with AJ, JoJo and the four passengers, and mere moments after that, the Customs call comes in, warning of an impending inspection within fifteen minutes. AJ immediately calls Tulk to advise him of this, though he doesn’t not pick up, so the rest of the crew quickly brainstorm about how to proceed. It is decided to secure the recently obtained crates within the warehouse while the Unit hide in the habitation module.

When the inspection team arrives, Zennith stalls them by faking a main door malfunction before allowing them entrance. The customs team are harried and clearly overworked and admit that they don’t know what is actually going on, only that there is a system-wide alert regarding a team of armed and dangerous men wanted for unspecified crimes. The images of these men naturally match the four hidden in the hab-module. With only a cursory examination of the ship, crew and manifest, the customs team signs off on everything and departs, which gives Calista enough time to assuage her curiosity and peek into the duffel bags and crates belonging to the Unit; in the former, she finds a great deal of combat gear and in the second … plasma charges of sufficient number to take down the entire station. She notes this for the future.

Tulk arrives with his go-bag just as the Unit are being released; he is carrying his go-bags and recommends the other characters retrieve their’s as well. Everyone splits up, with AJ hanging behind slightly to make contact with Bella and arrange for dinner. As he exits the dockhouse, he realizes that JoJo is being followed by two Taareh (likely from the earlier misadventure) and then Calista and Zennith have a pair shadowing them as well. Utilizing his computer implant and wireless capability, AJ snaps images of the pursuers and shoots those captures to the crew, along with a warning that they are being followed. He then moves to intercept JoJo who is just now turning around, which clearly surprises his pursuers. When AJ calls out to the men in Qebish to see if they are lost, his unexpected appearance and his understanding of their language visibly disconcerts the two who promptly bug out. Deciding that the crew should always remain in pairs, AJ then invites JoJo to join him and Bella for dinner. The doctor agrees, unaware that this is sort of a trap as the evening will end with Bella (and thus, AJ as well) knowing pretty much his entire life story. On the bright side, he has some fantastic hamburgers which only intensifies his newfound obsession with this miracle food.

Calista decides to engage her shadows in a far more aggressive manner. After rounding a corner to break line of sight, she then wheels around and charges back to slam into her pursuers. The man she collides stumbles slightly, which gives her an opportunity to knee him in the groin and then thoroughly intimidate the living crap out of the other guy. They also back down quickly and stumble away, leaving her feel totally badass. She will get a standing ovation from Tulk and the Unit when she and Zennith finally return.

An hour and a half later, the crew has returned to the dockhouse with their gear and everyone boards. The Unit have set up a CIC in the hold, outside the hab-module, complete with read-only connections to the Omen’s comm-systems and sensors. Around 17:30, clearance is obtained and AJ takes the Omen into the shipping lanes. Once clear, he engages the main drive and they begin their long trip. Knowing the grav-ball playoffs are taking place at Celestia, Tulk invites everyone to watch the game and most do join in. Zennith, slipping into his workaholic mindset, defers and stays in the reactor room while AJ seals up the pilot’s station and breaks out his violin to do some VR training, rejoining the rest of the crew on occasion to replenish his coffee.

After the game ends, the Unit request an hour or so of privacy in the hold, though Tulk immediately heads to the bridge, no doubt to eavesdrop using the many secret cameras and mikes he has installed throughout the ship. At the conclusion of the ‘secret’ meeting, the Unit asks for everyone to join them in the cargo bay so they can debrief them on the mission. Evidently, they only just received the full details and it turns out they are not going to FN-2187 after all, but near it, and the course change needs to happen at the very last minute. The actual mission is to accomplish a sensitive site exploitation (SSE) of a suspected downed Tohre-Chi ship! Th Unit hope to obtain as much intel on this ship as possible, especially with regards to their stealth capabilities, before utilizing the plasma charges to scuttle the craft entirely. This is where Zennith will come in due to his expertise on weapon systems and the like. The crew begins brainstorming how to best accomplish the course change without being detected.

Player Notes:

  • Was missing Tulk’s player this session.
  • Not a great deal of action in this session but Giger admitted he’s been swamped at work all week and was not entirely satisfied with the amount of prep he’d managed to accomplish.
  • JoJo’s player decided that, since his character was from Space Japan, he is obsessed with the glory that is hamburgers. Bam. Insta quirk.
  • Only one of the players hasn’t been watching The Expanse on SyFy, but that didn’t stop us from deciding we were all off to investigate the Scopuli and encounter the protomolecule.
  • After Calista’s player declared that Tulk was her kind of scum following last week’s session, a running joke was spawned about Tulk having an affair with Calista. Time will tell how long that joke lasts.
  • AJ still hasn’t bothered opening that letter from his ex-wife and he left it behind in the office. If he didn’t have Eidetic Memory, I’d have him forget about it entirely so it could come back and bite him in the butt later.

S3M 1×03: “Taking Care of Business”

Dramatis Personæ

Began with a brief flashback to the hours immediately after the bar fight at Hard Vacuum as JoJo started actively seeking out a new place to live. At this point, he has been with DSD for exactly one week and as such, is just now getting acclimated to the station. During his apartment hunt, he observes a person “in medical distress” while in one of the lower wards. His doctorly instincts kick in and JoJo investigates, finding a man in critical shape, having previously been nailed to the bulkhead by a piece of rebar but somehow having managed to get free. The man is thoroughly unconscious. JoJo applies medical assistance, contacts the authorities, then rides to the aid station with the paramedics where he impresses them with his know-how. He is questioned by the authorities but allowed to leave.

Back to the present. The initial projected travel time to FN-2187, the destination in the Outer Belt, is eight days, but AJ immediately starts crunching numbers while Tulk negotiates with the Unit to get us a better deal. Being awesome, AJ brings travel time to just under 6 days which nobody believes at first. Meanwhile, Tulk seeks out a habitation module for attachment to the Omen and seeks out a smuggler version. After seeing how small the profit margin would be on this, he talks “Mister Black” into covering for most of the hab-module, which allows DSD to cover additional expenses. In the course of this, Tulk receives a ping for a data mining program he has running for any uses of his previous identities. Evidently, a “Hanibal G. Dunbar” is on-station! Tulk must investigate without raising suspicions and decides to do so after coordinating with the guy he’s renting the module from. In the course of those negotiations, Tulk agrees to do an unspecified favor in the near future so as to receive the “friend discount.”

Leaving Calista and Zennith behind to finish prep-work (and to inspect the habitation module upon arrival), AJ takes the Unit (and JoJo) in the Coffin to pick up other purchased goods from some less than reputable folks. En route, the Unit note the presence of the USS Bunker Hill, a navy frigate, and express some consternation; AJ inquires whether this is going to be a problem and receives a non-answer answer in return. This transaction takes place in vacuum and involves some rather shady-looking Taareh. Half of the purchased gear is present, but the other half is on a nearby ship, a fact that sets off everyone’s ‘ah, crap’ meter. Two of the Unit accompany the Taareh while the other two begin to load the gear on the Coffin which AJ floats closer, already expecting they’ll need to make a quick getaway. As he is jacked into the Coffin’s systems via his neural interface, AJ makes good use of the integrated sensors and identifies two hostiles sneaking toward the hatch of the other ship. He alerts the Unit via comms, then drifts the Coffin forward. The two would-be hostiles panic and retreat and, inside the other ship, there is an exchange of weaponsfire before the Unit guys emerge with their gear. AJ has the Coffin moving back into the traffic lanes before they’re all fully inside.

Tulk digs into the Hanibal purchase, identifies the shop location, and hacks their system to get all of the pertinent data. He briefly makes an attempt to pick up the purchase at the warehouse location but is rebuffed by the foreman who is clearly a by-the-book kind of dude. Retreating, he then stakes out the delivery address and intercepts the UPS guy. Thanks to his hacking, he knows all of the info on this purchase, including the tracking number, so the deliveryman doesn’t think anything of signing it over. Tulk even slips him a tip which is greatly appreciated. After the deliveryman is gone, Tulk then takes the television upstairs to “Hanibal” and, once the idiot opens the door, intimidates the living crap out of him by declaring that he (Tulk) is a very good friend with the real Hanibal Dunbar who is … displeased that his identity has been stolen. He even flashes his gun, which causes the idiot – a guy named Nguyen – to faint in terror. Tulk literally kicks the guy when he is down, obtains additional information on how Nguyen obtained the name, and then leaves with a warning that Nguyen is being watched. He keeps the television and drops it off at Hard Vacuum, claiming it was a donation.

At the office, with the habitation module inspected and secured, port authority customs contacts DSD: the Omen has been flagged for inspection, which is most definitely not a coincidence (what with the presence of the Bunker Hill, the renting of the hab-module, and a flight plan having been filed.) Customs will be at the office in fifteen minutes.

Player Notes:

  • Was missing player for both Calista and Zenith this session.
  • Evidently, the incident involving “Hanibal” was due to Tulk’s Secret coming into play for this session. We all expect Tulk to continue harassing this guy and have started tossing him random ideas.
  • Took me (as a player) entirely too long to realize that the “mercs” were members of “The Unit,” a 3-season television show about special operators and their families.
  • Totally called the Ronin-like incident with the Taareh guys as soon as it started. It’s like I know how Giger thinks!

S3M 1×02: “Breaking the Law”

Dramatis Personæ

The shooting has stopped. Calista immediately pursues the two fleeing ‘pirates’ but is unable to catch them as they manage to escape in a small groundcar. Meanwhile AJ directs JoJo to begin triage on the wounded and moves to help while Tulk takes the uninjured survivor aside with the newly arrived Steg for interrogation; they learn that the first group of idiots were hired by a man named Bobby Liu to start hitting shops on this level but discover little else of import and decide to let him flee. He runs afoul (briefly) of Calista who injures him but doesn’t stop him.

Local security arrive and several of the Crew recognize Sergeant Allred as the first responder. He is Steg’s enemy so Steg makes a discreet exit via the back entrance; Allred is … displeased when he recognizes the Crew and throws his weight around but no one bites so the interrogation about what happened goes relatively well. AJ learns that the cops have been facing a very high volume of calls. Until the investigators arrive, Hard Vacuum is taped off.

Once the cops are gone, Anson reveals the other part of why he wanted to chat with the crew: an old colleague of his is looking to charter a ship to Helene’s belt and will be here in “a couple three days.” This frees up the Crew to do other stuffs in the meantime. Tulk immediately starts researching this Bobby Liu fellow; Calista and Zennith go shopping for guns and checking into the would-be pirates, which results in them finding the Blue Neptune, a very small freighter that has left within the hour; while AJ assists JoJo in getting settled on-station while also juggling Bella issues as she’s won the lead in a local play and insists she’s not ready.

Having located where Liu might be hiding, Tulk enlists Calista’s aid in a quick ‘B&E’ op in the slums. First, they must navigate through what appears to be a house rave taking place, during which Tulk is caught unprepared by a local offering him a beer. Calista has an front-row seat to a comedy of errors as the normally unflappable Tulk first fails to fast-talk his way past the man, then falls back on blatant threats. He accidentally uses Liu’s name which causes the man to back off immediately. The two continue on and break into Liu’s crappy apartment where they discover no one inside but plenty of damage, indicating to them that someone has been dragged out of here. Frustrated at the dead end, they withdraw and speak with locals, confirming that yes, bad things happened in that apartment and yes, someone was carted out by a group of thugs earlier in the day.

Two days later, Anson contacts AJ and Tulk, advising them that his guys are here and will meet them at the DSD office. Tulk is there first and realizes someone has broken in, so he reaches out to the rest of the crew and tells them to assemble. Once gathered, they enter and discover four men waiting. All are very big, very polite, and are carrying bags/cases that are distinctly military in nature. The leader of this group – who calls himself Mister Black – references Master Sergeant Law and states they are willing to pay triple standard to be taken to FN-2187 in the far Belt, but will need to be in the black within eight hours. As the Bad Omen doesn’t have adequate life support for non-crew, Tulk will need to rent a habitation module while AJ takes the runabout and one of the mercs (because what else can they be?) to retrieve some additional gear.

Player Notes:

  • Was missing JoJo’s player for the session.
  • We got bogged down a couple of times due to our slacker GM being wildly, horribly unprepared, particularly with regards to the interrogation. The B&E thing also dragged a bit – IMO, he should have had a couple of punks (controlled by Zennith’s player and myself) kick in the door and try to blast Calista & Tulk.
  • Mister Black asked Zennith if he’s worked with nonhuman weapons before, which is concerning. And intriguing at the same time.
  • Despite being a superb social engineer, Bella is a terrible actress when performing, something that was lifted from the Sophie Devereux character on the TV show Leverage. This will be the first time many of the characters have experienced this fact.
  • AJ also received something that looks suspiciously like a wedding invitation from he ex-wife but has not bothered even opening that envelope.
  • As a player, I need to figure out how to include AJ more in situations like this. Calista and Tulk are very clearly peas in a pod with regards to breaking the law … perhaps AJ & Zennith need to develop a serious bro-mance due to their shared appreciation for classical music? More importantly, though, I need to figure out how AJ makes things fun for the other players as well…

S3M 1×01: “Spoilin For A Fight”

Dramatis Personæ

Begin in media res with the Crew assembling at the offices in Hard Vacuum to discuss matters with Anson. There, we discover that the Starport Authority Closure Commission (SPACC) is once again threatening to close down Tamborro Station and a “Save the Station” organization has sprung up with Anson planning on participating. Their hope is to “clean up” the station and get it declared a historical location so the SPACC won’t (or can’t) close it down. Tulk, being a suspicious sort, decides to start investigating this group.

Ted announces that they have “visitors” (despite the front door being locked) and the Crew find themselves suddenly facing down a handful of armed punks, all wearing the usual security-spoofing gear. None of these punks seem particularly competent, which is especially notable when they don’t even bothering patting down the Crew, all of whom (except Zennith) are armed. AJ’s bad luck flares up once more, though, and one of the idiots happens to notice that he is carrying a las-pistol; there is a great of shoving and threatening and posturing, with AJ on the verge of attempting a disarm maneuver (despite it being very unlikely to succeed) but Tulk interjects himself into the situation, dazzling the thugs with a startling amount of bullshit that actively confuses them (since, after all, victims of an armed robbery aren’t supposed to be this indifferent to the would-be thieves!)

As the Crew (plus Anson and Ted) are threatened, a second group of thugs appear, also demanding the cash. This group appear to be spacers rather than local lurk-rats and are better armed. A tense stand-off ensues which Tulk (taking advantage of a half-hearted idea espoused by newly hired JoJo) complicates by insisting the Crew had already given the money to the lurk-rats. More shouting and threats transpire with most of the Crew cautiously trying to move out of the field of fire; AJ actually advances toward Anson and Ted, planning on trying to protect them when the shooting starts since he’s wearing a nanoweave bodysuit and they don’t appear to be armored.

Tulk sees his chance and takes it. As he shifts behind one of the lurk-rats (who happens to be holding a laser pistol), Tulk discreetly draws his hold-out las-pistol and takes an under-the-arm shot at one of the spacers while simultaneously shouting out something that makes it look like the lurk-rats are attacking. It works. Almost at once, the bar is crisscrossed with lasers and bullets and shotgun slugs. The Crew dive for cover (wisely) except AJ who tackles Anson and Ted to the ground before drawing his pistol. Once satisfied that they’re not going to get caught in the crossfire, the Crew draw their weapons and engage an already confused situation. In seconds, all but one of the lurk-rats are dead or grievously wounded (most to the shots of the spacers) and two of the four spacers are downed (one of whom is straight up dead thanks to Calista scoring some lethal vital strikes with her modified heavy laser pistol.) The remaining two spacers wisely flee and AJ gets the sole remaining uninjured lurk-rat to drop his weapon and surrender … before Tulk can start shooting any would-be survivors.

The current plan is to interrogate their prisoner (while JoJo triages the injured) before summoning the authorities to take the lurk-rats into custody. It strikes all of the Crew strange that two different groups of would-be robbers hit the same place at the same time…

Player Notes:

  • We spent most of the session finalizing some character elements (some additional background stuffs, equipment, etc.) so really, nobody expected to get a lot done. Since so much time was burned with that sort of thing, can’t really judge the effectiveness of the characters yet.
  • I (Rigil) had Fantasy Grounds running on my laptop and used that to quickly identify everyone’s modifiers for ranged combat which worked out better than I’d expected.
  • Some of the initial setup was pretty unclear. For example, I didn’t entirely realize we were still in the bar until it was explicitly stated – thought we were being ushered out of the bar – and we didn’t realize we were initially in the bar’s office before the lurk-rats appeared. A little more descriptive flair at the beginning would be helpful.