Showing posts with label Solo Session. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Solo Session. Show all posts

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Taking Stock: Part One The Game

Well, the solo sessions using Old School Essentials went south. It was the wandering monster list that did the party in:

1. Bandits, 3d4 appearing.
2. Sheep, 3d6 appearing.
3. Giant Ants, 2d6 appearing.
4. Ranger, 1 appearing.
5. Troll, 1 appearing.
6. Kobolds*, 3-6 appearing.
7. Mountain Goats, 2d4 appearing.
8. Mage*, 1 appearing.
9. Wild Horses, 1d4 appearing.
10. Wolves, 2d4 appearing.

Infi, I seem to be butting my head up against the concept of Random this week. I randomly rolled the number 3 several times too many. This is a rookie DM mistake and I shouldn't be a rookie DM 40 years in. Giant ants are far too imposing for 1st level characters to encounter. 

I'm equally a willy player and a willy DM, so I tried to make it work. Time was not on the PC's side, they have limited food and no capacity to heal magically. But they had other resources. 

In the first encounter, they faced 7 Giant Ants in an abandoned mansion. This played well as the party was naturally in 3 small groups with cover and the ants needed to advance on their positions. The Fighter, Halfling, and Elf all had bows while the Clerics had slings. The third group was the Magic-User and Thief with only melee weapons and spells. The MU cast light, drawing the first group of ants towards them. 

A halfling with a bow.
The rest of the party rained missiles down on them from two different positions. I had the ants roll modified morale. If they succeeded, the ants would pursue the FIRST person who shot at them. If they failed, they plowed on toward the MU and Thief. This had the effect of splitting the ants up and allowing the party a chance to shoot them from behind. Four ants fell to this tactic. When the party saw the next wave of 3 ants coming, they escaped to their hideout. 

This worked well except for the expenditure of arrows. This came back to hurt the party the next time. 

The party realized that the Thief was a better shot than the Fighter, so the bow was handed over.  

In the next combat, they encounter 4 ants in an alleyway. They downed all four ants in a hail of stones and arrows but lost one Cleric in the process. The party was also down just a handful of arrows. This is where slings shine as you can use any old rock as a missile. The party was dismayed when they returned to the mansion and the alleyway to recover arrows. They found the ones that missed their targets, but the ants carried off their dead, arrows and all. 

Later, the Party got bushwacked on a city street when the ants caught them again. The Fighter went down after a quick exchange of swings with the lead ant. The Halfling, Elf, and Thief took off to get a better angle on the Ants while the Magic-User and Cleric saved the day. The MU had an oil lamp in his hands and hit an ant on the first try, setting it on fire. The Cleric tossed a flask on the ant to finish the job. By now arrows were raining down. The party managed to kill five ants between missile fire and oil, but the Elf and Halfling were horribly wounded and the Fighter was dead. 

The party limped back home. The party was down by a lot: 3 characters dead, 2 injured badly.

The next day was better. They ventured out and encountered sheep. The Elf and Magic-User managed to kill two for food.  

They made one final foray, trying to make for the walls to get the heck out of this place. They were armed with torches and oil as they were out of arrows. They had one final encounter with 5 ants which was overwhelming despite the arsonist's mentality. Only the Thief and the last Cleric made it back to the fountain. 

The thing I like about this scenario is the mad card-playing Game Master randomly teleporting in new characters. I think this town has hopes as a good play environment so I want to keep it going. The petty little card cheater has unloaded another batch of heroes: a Half-Elf, a Paladin, a Cleric, a Fighter, a Thief, and a Magic User. Third level this time with a bunch of magic and good gear. Of course, I used the random Character Generator (Retainers), so all I need to do is name the party members. 

This post naturally leads to tomorrow's post about taking stock of my personal goals for the next year. 

PS: You can pick up a copy of Old School Essentials CharactersMagicMonsters, and Treasures on DriveThruRPG. You can also try Wordlographer before you buy.  

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Expanding Horizons with Worldographer - Solitary Sessions

 I started working with Worldographer to flesh out the town the characters are exploring. 

Before the town was abandoned, it was home to 2,500-3,000 people.

This is an autogenerated map and I needed to add some details to make it match my hand-drawn map. I plugged in the fountain and tree while thinning out some of the buildings. 

The characters have explored all of the buildings around the fountain and tree. The three structures along the northern east-west road are 2 homes and a tailor's shop. The tailor's shop is interesting as the owner had a setup to dye cloth. 

The Party spotted horses and sheep around the barn just across the way. From the barn, they recovered a couple of large lanterns. The well in the northwest corner is in good working order and doesn't taste brackish like the fountain. The remaining buildings in this section are homes, which the Party skipped over. 

To the south, the Party bypassed the mansion. Every time they enter, the ants appear. I didn't place a ruined structure on the map yet. The roof is intact and that is just one more dimension for the ants to use in an ambush. The Party briefly consider burning it down but restrain itself. 

Directly across the street from the mansion is a blacksmith shop with nice a wagon out front. Inside the shop, they discover iron and silver ingots in addition to many weapons and tools. The Party returns to the general store to recover their supplies and bedding from the apartment. The blacksmith shop has an open floorplan which suits the Party's needs better than the shop. As the sun sets, the group takes some time to bring water from the well to their new indoor campsite. 

I might have time to explore more tomorrow. 

PS: You can pick up a copy of Old School Essentials CharactersMagicMonsters, and Treasures on DriveThruRPG. You can also try Wordlographer before you buy.  

Thursday, December 15, 2022

World Building - The Monster List

This has been a hectic week. I've been at work before the sun rises and long after it sets. But I am thinking about these sessions and this campaign setting. 

I didn't describe one building, the one shop directly to the left of the fountain. It's a shed-like shop, a summer building for the general store to its north. It has heavy up-swinging shutters that open to large counter displays. 

Presumably, the town was abandoned in the fall and the shop was shuttered. There are many knickknacks left over from the summer. Urns of summer wine are probably the thing that will attract the PCs, but also household items such as paintings, and small curios like necklaces and lockets. There are the odd socks and tights, soaps, and cleaning agents. And perhaps incense and candles.  

Again, the idea is to point to a once vibrant town. 

Since it was abandoned, it has been taken over by various critters, some of which have already been introduced. The characters have stuck to this one tiny area for several days. They don't realize the extent of the town but they feel comfortable where they are. 

It seems that I have misplaced my notebook, so I have recreated the wandering monster list from memory. Before we get to the wandering monster list, there are two types of monsters that do not wander: the catfish in the fountain and the green whip snakes which are busy brumation, the cold-blooded version of hibernating. 

The rules of engagement for the catfish are:  

1. There is a 1 in 6 chance that they will be visible. 
2. The catfish respond 1-3 rounds after a person enters the water if not immediately visible.
2a. They may be tricked into coming into range by dropping stuff in the water.  
3. If they need to flee, there is a hole in the fountain.  

The rules of engagement for the green whip snakes are: 

1. There is a 1 in 6  chance they will be found in any house. 
1a. They are everywhere, not finding them in one particular house doesn't mean they are absent, just undiscovered. 
2. They are brumating, so they will not wake unless held by a warm person or a fire is lit in the house. 
3. The snakes do damage by poison, not through biting. The poison causes muscle spasms, pain, and long-term shaking, all of which prevent using Thieves Skills and spell casting for hours. It is more annoying that anything else. 
3a. If the players decide to milk the snake for poison, it requires a Dex or Wis save the first time. After that it simply requires a plan and care. 

Now on to the main list: 

1. Bandits, 3d4 appearing. 
2. Sheep, 3d6 appearing. 
3. Giant Ants, 2d6 appearing.
4. Ranger, 1 appearing. 
5. Troll, 1 appearing. 
6. Kobolds*, 3-6 appearing.
7. Mountain Goats, 2d4 appearing. 
8. Mage*, 1 appearing.
9. Wild Horses, 1d4 appearing. 
10. Wolves, 2d4 appearing.

Starred monsters are singular creatures. 

The bandits hang out on the north side of town, this is a waypoint on their patrol range where it is generally safe to camp. Since there are no people here, they don't engage in looting and raiding activities here. They don't wander the town much as the trolls prey on men. None of them seem particularly skilled at combat, but they do have swords, bows, and light armor. They also don't have horses and have been warned about taking wild horses found in the as mounts or as pack animals. 

The sheep and goats are more amusing than a threat. They are feral, so hunting them is easy but treating them like farm animals will end in disaster. The funnier the better. The goats can be dangerous if mishandled. 

The giant ants have tunnels all around town. There is a 50-50 chance that characters encountering them will find a tunnel entrance near the encounter site. Inquisitive characters will find clues that indicate the ants arrived either after the town was abandoned or that the same time but not before, which means they were not the cause.  

The Ranger is an associate of the bandits. He is more daring in his explorations of the town than they are. He will avoid combat, if possible. Every season, he picks a new house to live in. When encountered, the characters might find him in his home. There is a 1 in 6 chance of this. 

There are several trolls hiding in the town, but only one is on patrol in the town at any one time. The troll will fight anyone he can for prestige and food, but like all trolls, he or she can be bought off. The Ranger pays rent, so they leave him and anyone with him alone. They also prey on horses, wolves sheep, and goats. If the characters offer them gold, the trolls will offer them housing. The trolls are brain-bustlingly dense. They will not accept animal carcasses as food, but if they are properly butchered, they will accept the meat and pelts as highly valued resources. It's like they don't know sheep are mutton. 8912                  
The Kobolds are of the Tribe of Minwan that hale from the Kobold's Folly. The Kobold party numbers six, but they may be encountered in smaller groups. The tribe is oddly friendly so long as they don't witness anyone abusing the wild horses. They care for the horses and will happily eat people who harm them. They are willing to trade with the party, they would like daggers, knives, and hatchets. The Trolls avoid them like the plague. These kobolds are very furry like a pug dog and taste horrible. The trolls don't want to offer them the opportunity of renting space in their town. 

The Mage is a singular person. He is mute yet can somehow cast spells. He has both clerical and arcane magic. He will heal characters in need. He can disappear and appear at random and often does. 

The wild horses and wolves are just typical beasts. They are comfortable in the town, but if put to flight they try to exit the town. They are not troubled by human dwellings, sometimes appearing inside buildings or peeking in open windows and doors. Obviously, this trait makes the wolves very dangerous. 

Introducing intelligent creatures into the town allows the characters a chance to dig for clues about the town. The troll, the kobolds, and the bandits will all be in agreement that the town has been abandoned for a long time. The trolls will term it as "forever" while the bandits and kobolds say, "many, many seasons". If trying to nail down a specific timeframe, it becomes obvious that the trolls and kobolds don't live very long so "forever", "many", and "seasons" may not mean much to them. The bandits don't recall a time that the town was inhabited and the individuals here aren't very knowledgeable. It seems that this is a newbie outing with only a few bandits having much experience at all.  

The Ranger has the most information which he himself finds to be odd. He indicates the town always appears to have been abandoned within the last 1 to 2 years, but he has been visiting the site for a decade. His mother and father knew of the place, so he feels like there is magic at work.    

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Write What You Know - Zing!

I'm watching Wednesday on Netflix. The second episode leads with the line: 

"I've always hated the expression 'write what you know.' It's a hall pass for the imagination-impaired." 

Wednesday then shifts her opinion. To paraphrase, "if the things you know are weird, maybe you should lean into it." I like that. It comes up very often in role-playing games. Here is the odd thing, the DM or game master is trying to offer scenarios that make sense to the players, no matter who they are. Since the players don't know what the referee has in mind, things get weird. 

For example, in my last post, I refused to say, "Solo Play". I know how some people will react to that phrase. When I shared the post, someone commented exactly as I expected even though I tried to avoid it. Such is the world of RPGs and social media. I tried to avoid the probable and walked right into it anyway. And this happens at the table, too. 

Anyway, Wednesday is right. A game master and a player really don't know what is going to come of the words. Things are bound to get weird, so lean into it. 

If you design things from the exclusively top down, you start with big topics and get smaller. The larger and more vague a topic is, the more likely that basic concepts will get skewed by the listener. My next project (recap - part 1, part 2) is being built top-down but the solo adventure I am running is in that world and is very bottom-level. Facts over concepts. 

How and why do I link small details to large concepts? 

Well, let's look at the basic map in relation to what is happening. There are 3 buildings, a tree, and a fountain. Or more simply, it's a hub with spokes. The center of the hub is the fountain and stuff radiates out. The three buildings and the tree are the edges of the hub and the start of the spokes. It's designed like many cities and towns, and amusement parks. The mini-map is simple, familiar,  and hard to get lost in. The reason for this is player and character comfort. They can forget mapping and wander for a bit. 

The buildings are much the same way. The general store is very much like a free-standing market stall, the store in Little House on the Prarie, or any number of old buildings in a zillion cities around the world. The image makes itself, which is very player friendly. You don't have to see it to know it. The details build themselves. 

Let me press on with the adventure for a moment. The players entered the shop to the east. It's a rug shop. The players checked it out and found nothing of interest. Until they tried to leave. Then a couple of them fell through the floor in front of the door. This is a subverted pit trap. 

If I had real players at the table, they probably would have picked up on the slapstick amusement of slowly sinking into a carpet over a hole in the ground. It was hard to get out of but not too hard with friends to help. How many old TV shows and movies have someone sinking into quicksand or Tom Hanks getting trapped in a hole in the Money Pit. 

But it isn't just for humor. The characters and the players will discover the why in a bit. 

Moving on, they hazard the church or temple. Actually, the structure is neither. It's a mansion. Outside, they find a couple of decaying bodies which presents the first mystery. Entering the building, they realize that it had collapsed first and caught fire at some point, much later than the collapse. 

They also solve the minor mystery of the missing tools. They were used to recover the bodies. Each body shows signs of trauma from falling or having things fall on them. They were obviously cared for after being recovered and placed in repose. Unfortunately, burial never occurred. The Clerics and the Magic-User might surmise some sort of magical protection was used on them. 

As the players explore, aside from the tools, they find nothing of value except information. A lot of debris has been moved. Strangely, more than what could be done by the shovels and pickaxes they found. They also find several openings leading to a cave system. As they advance in the dark, they are ambushed by giant ants. 

They fight a retreating battle in the tunnels of the anthill until they discover a soft squishy cloth covering an exit. Hum... they are back in the pit trap in the carpet shop. Fearing pursuit, they run through the fountain and back to the general store, baring the doors. 

You see, these tiny details have been placed not randomly but purposefully to echo the overreaching theme of romanticism.  Seeking answers in places and people long gone. The players will see that someone who cared about something lived here.  

And then there is the weanie in the middle of it all. The fountain and table are what is called a weanie. It towns and cities, the center of the hub has something significant like a fountain or a town hall. Those things draw your attention, they pull you in. For Walt Disney, the weanie was the Castle. It pulls people in and pushes them out to the edges in a repeating pattern. The Castle as a hub insures that people are always pulled in no matter how many times they move out. 

(Walt Disney used to have a dog that he would lead around with a hot dog, which is where the term comes from. I can't imagine he was the first to think of it, but he was known to make the comparison. There I go again, putting amusement parks in my games...)

What gives the table and fountain drawing power is what they do mechanically. The party was dumped there by the Game Master, a ridiculously petty person who teleports away his problems. The party can't be depleted because more characters will appear at the table. 

The fountain also has a purpose that is far less deadly than it appears. The giant catfish are a replenishing food source. The party doesn't have to enter the pool to hunt them, they can be hunted without entering the water. It's not entirely safe, but much safer than starving. 

I had thought that giant catfish were fantasy monsters, but they are real and do like brackish saltwater. They can often get to be hundreds of pounds. Taking one down feeds the party for an incredible amount of time for minimal risk. 

The players, I hope would be left with a feeling of wonder. Wonder at who lived here. Wonder at where they went. That sense of a real living place is the core concept behind romanticism. It's deviated but still there. 

PS: You can pick up a copy of Old School Essentials CharactersMagicMonsters, and Treasures on DriveThruRPG. You can also try Wordlographer before you buy.  

Saturday, December 3, 2022

OSE, Solitary Playthrough

I have my new boxed sets of Old School Essentials. Right now I am sticking to the Basic set and generated several characters. In no particular order, they are 2 Clerics, a Thief, a Dwarf, an Elf, a Magic User, a Fighter, and a Halfling. My intent is to roll as many dice as possible, covering as many scenarios as my players want to do. So, one of every character type in a freeform environment. 

I took inspiration from a photo I took in Disney's Epcot. I have this weird mental association between amusement parks and D&D

This was taken in the United Kingdom pavilion, I think. This is close to what the characters are experiencing. 

The dark circle in the middle of the map is the party's table. Each square is 10 feet. To the north is a willow tree that blocks their line of sight. East and west are a couple of buildings, clearly shop fronts. To the south is a working fountain and what appears to be a damaged church or temple. It is also nighttime here. 

The party landed on top of a monster's lair. In the fountain is a group of giant catfish. We'll get to them in a bit. 

The party gathers their gear and seeing no immediate trouble,  finishes their drinks and meals. They notice their money, chips, and cards are gone from the table. There are several candles, a lantern, and a lamp on the table, just like in an Italian Bistro. 

Their first real move is to explore the tree. 

Nothing... it's a tree. 

On the other side, there is an intersection of roads, three of the roads meet here and curve back to the north. There is also a couple of shops and houses. They decide not to go that way because this is solitary play and I say so. 

The characters hang the lantern from the tree limbs on the north side so as to silhouette anyone approaching from that direction. While this is sort of the right idea, it is kind of like saying "Oneth by land" to any wandering monsters. I haven't been rolling for wandering monsters because the party hasn't been loud or there long enough. 

They go to the larger building to the west. It's a general store with large windows covering the eastern side. The Thief goes into thief mode and accesses the building. The northeastern door is made of wood and glass and it has a lock. She notes no traps but knows the bell will ring if she forces the door. The southeastern door is barred with a heft piece of wood. They can't see into the back of the building. 

Plans are made and they decide picking the lock is best. The whole party works together to get a small sack around the bell to prevent it from ringing. 

They quickly explore. There is an apartment upstairs, the backroom is for supplies while the front room is for home goods. It is musty, dry, and smells vaguely of the sea. All foodstuffs have rotted so long ago, they don't smell. There is no money in the till. The party also notes some odd things missing. In the supply room, there are all sorts of tools, but no pickaxes or shovels only rakes and hoes. Upstairs, the family's clothes have been tossed like someone packed in a hurry. Everything else seems normally well-kept. 

They return to the fountain. Since the catfish stay in the water, the party doesn't notice them. The fountain smells of the ocean and the fountain's water moves with a heartbeat-like pulse. This attracts the Dwarf's attention. At first, he wants to know how it was done. On inspection (and die rolls), he determines that it used to be a freshwater fountain, but the sea has infiltrated the source waters and the pulsing is from the ocean waves. He notices that the bottom of the fountain has collapsed and is where the sea water comes in. There is nothing to indicate that a group of catfish are down in the deep.  

Now for the amusing part of random. 

The Thief finds a couple of coins in the fountain and goes to look for more in the water. The rest of the party is disinterested in a few old coins and goes to investigate the shop to the east. 

Surprise time. 

The Thief and by extension, the Dwarf surprise the catfish. I could totally see this in real life. The catfish don't expect invaders and don't normally investigate stuff. They take time to warm up to prey entering from above.  

The Thief finds a few coins and attempts search the waters in the first round of surprise. Just because she has the advantage doesn't mean she is ready for a fight. She is barefooted, holding a lamp in one hand and fishing around with the other. In the next round, the water boils. The catfish launch themselves at the Dwarf and Thief. 
Dice can be dirty.
I had high hopes for this part. A Catfish springs at the Thief from behind, who is wearing leather armor, and another snaps at the Dwarf in plate armor and partial cover from the wall of the fountain. 

I had expected to use THAC0 or ascending AC. In order to calculate either, I need to look in the Adventures book on Page 30, then look at the Character book for character's THAC0 number then go back to pages 26 to 28 in the Adventures book before finding out that I need to look in the Monster book for information on Catfish. 

Or... I could look at one table on page 31 and be done with it. There is no difference in any of the methods except extremes are more with the table. This really is a case of never using either rule before and having to access the info. It really is just a matter of remembering stuff so I will try it again next session. 

The Dwarf sees that catfish rising to strike the Thief from behind and swings his warhammer at it for 4 points of damage. The Thief is running, not attacking and also takes 4 points damage from a leg bite. Since that is all she has, she goes down narrowly avoiding setting herself and the Dwarf on fire with the shattered oil lamp. The catfish doesn't land any hits with the feelers.  

The rest of the party comes running and gets the double dirty from the dice rolls. 

Since there is a virtual riot of activity, I roll for a wandering monster. The result is a herd of wild horses. They enter from the east of the map, see the fire and mayhem, then loop around the store and retreat into the dark as the party lofts arrows at them. The Clerics attend to the Thief.  

I use a -10 HP as house rule for death, so the Clerics are able to stabilize the Thief with first aid but she is not able to convey any information about the threat. The party decides that the general store is a great place to hold up for the night and retreats.  

Since only the Thief and the Dwarf know what actually happened, the rest of the party is mystified by the fire and blood spatter caused by horses. 

They forget about the bell on the door and there is another die rolled for wandering monsters. Nothing answers that dinner bell. 

They post a watch downstairs and take the Thief upstairs to a bedroom to sleep it off. I have some of my house rules for healing in Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, if you are interested. They are useful and timely in this case as the Clerics can't cast spells but can perform first aid or use healing skills. I have a priority of healing: aid (1 hp), then doctor or healer's care (a die roll), then rest (as per whatever rules) and finally magical healing. No one can render first aid or skill-based care after magic has been cast, but the reverse is NOT true. It annoys healers to no end when Clerics cast magic first and then drag someone to a healer. It forces a healer to use only magical means. Magic is a consumer product in my world; it has consequences for society.  

By sunrise, the Thief comes to with 3 hp. She wants to thank the Dwarf for rescuing her. There is a sheepish look from the party as they realize they didn't do a headcount after their retreat to the general store. In splitting the party between upstairs and down, they had no idea he was missing.   

By the fountain, they find a warhammer and a boot. In saving the Theif, a second catfish hit the Dwarf. He had 9 hp and the first bite did 15 points of damage. Then came the 4 feeler attacks. -10 was not enough HP. The second catfish pulled his body into their lair. 

I could calculate XP, but the party doesn't even know if they found anything or killed a monster... yet.

I think I'll end it here. Next post, I will talk about the Temple and the Missing Tools from the general store. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Party of 6 for the Castle - Experience

In my last post, I ran a series of characters through the Ghost of Lion Castle using the Basic and Expert D&D and Rules Cyclopedia sets. This was a solo run so I totally determined the outcome of adventure. The party crossed a half dozen challenges in the form of traps. Ultimately, they found the main entrance and two dead bodies loaded with loot. 

Thematically, this fits in with the character's backgrounds. The young characters want adventure while the two older characters want to safeguard them, but Nicholas and the Dwarf are also treasure and relic hunters. The younger characters did find some relics in the form of two magic journals and two maps. 

This is a case of character backgrounds and details meshing with the shared campaign world. 

What did not come to pass was the distribution of treasure and experience. I skipped the first due to lack of time, that will be the first thing I do in the next session. Experience is a tougher judgement call. Under B/X and Rules Cyclopedia, experience is awarded in a 1:1 ratio to gold plus whatever experience a monster would provide. 

In the last session, the characters encountered only traps and treasure, some of it magical. I can easily map out found items to coin value excepting magic items and weapons. They don't have clear price in these rules. It seems the intent was to have the object be the reward. I'm of two minds on that as it makes perfect sense. But there is the kid of the 70's who used to make wish lists from the Brand Names Catalog that wants everything to have a value.  

What I came up with was a value of about 250 experience points divided among four characters. (Two characters are sitting at a base camp.) 

This has happened because I should read the rules of this module strictly for solo play. The party has no thief and even if they did. the traps they encountered are not the sort a thief can disarm. No experience for them.  

If I had a "live" party, I could see many opportunities for the party to gain experience off of the traps. The traps in this section of the module was the very reason I selected the front door as the party's destination. In solo play with a single character, any of these traps could be deadly. The traps the party encountered would be unpassable to a single magic user with max hit points. However, 4 characters can eat up that damage. I did it because I've always wanted to do it in solo play but couldn't with an individual character. 

The traps are a series of obstacles, two magic missile attacks, a molten metal trap, two sets of murder holes and several slamming doors and dropping portcullis's (portculli?) to force the characters forward. 

As described, the magic missile attacks and slamming doors are unavoidable, the molten metal trap plus the dropping portcullis's both requires a save, and the murder hole attack requires judgement. 

Were I DM'ing this with real characters, the potential to judge situations allows for experience awards for these traps. For the doors, murder holes and portcullis traps, the simply decision to act as one and move forward or back allows for roleplay. Tricky PC's could fill sacks with dirt to prop the doors or prevent the portcullis from closing. The magic missile and murder holes are interesting traps for the PC's because there is that small chance of evading them through trickery but then wandering back into them by poor choices. 

Ah, let me tell you about parties and poor choices... 

But all of that implies thinking through an immediate problem and receiving experience for it. 

This Friday, I am looking forward to reading some materials I received plus another session in Lion Castle. 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Revisiting Star Smuggler - Session 008 Repeating the Motion - Mission Summary One

The crews of the Zephyr and Sirocco are fully fueled and ready to go. They have 76,253 to spend. 

In this post, I'll be trying the Regari to Palatek run again to see if more resources can make this work. 

This event is offered via e192. The stated rules are you can buy hand carved items for a base price of 5 CU on Regari and sell them on Palatek for 10. On Palatek, you can buy electronics for 60 and sell on Regari for 100, base prices. Base prices are modified by a die roll. On Regari, it's impossible to buy or sell for greater than 1 1/2 times base price. Palatek could have prices up to triple the normal cost. 

There are some unstated restrictions here. First, each drop off/pick up takes "the rest of the day". Second, boosting into orbit to get to the jump point takes 4 hours. Jumping burns 1 hypercharge. Landing requires 2 entry rolls which could be either dangerous or cost time. You are also limited by funds available and if those are fine, how much space you have on board for cargo. The items are 1 CU and have no special restrictions on storage, so you could pack every available space with them. 

The Sorocco and the Zephyr have a total of 150 CU of storage in their combined cargo bays. Being two ships, each jump will burn 2 hypercharges. 

The crew loads up the 150 CU worth of carvings at a price of 750 secs. This takes all day. They get to Palatek and roll for entry. They get result e103, which describes finding a 4 CU status pod. There is plenty of room, so they bring it onboard. They manage to avoid detection landing and off load the goods. They make 3000 from the carvings. They take on 150 CU of electronics for 9000 secs. They have burned a second day. 

On the return trip to Regari, they get through both checks without being detected. On landing, they sell the electronics for 15,000. This ends a third day. 

They move over to the spaceport and refuel at a cost of 2000 secs (500 times 2 times charges, times two ships).

At this point, I will sanity check the numbers. They had 76,253. In the plus column they have 15,000 and 3,000 and in the loss column they have 2,000, 9,000 and 750. Additionally, that have used 4 days and have a 4 CU stasis pod with unknown contents. They made 6250. 

On the surface, they 2.5 times the normal cargo space and far more money than a typical player would have. Under normal play conditions, the player would have to make 10 runs to make this much money. It is possible to get lucky and have nothing slow you down, but it would take a minimum of 11 days because they would have to take on hypercharges at least once. 

Entry rolls are a key factor. At Regari, there are 4 rolls that do not effect you while there are two that lead down paths that can kill you outright and one more that ends the game in a single die roll or choice. At Palatek, there are three entry events that have no effect, two that could end in either all day events or combat which would probably end the game and a 6th event that has 3 bad endings, two neutral and a sixth that could end the game in a win condition after a lot of time and investment of energy. 

The rolls when entering areas are far less dangerous, you could by pass them by making a good roll.  On these two planets, there are 5 events which are more flavoring than anything else, while a sixth path leads to two slightly dangerous or annoying events and one event that is usually positive. There is event an event that allows you bribe your way into an area, trading money for time and safety. 

Spitballing things, if you run this mission 11 times you'll average about 568 secs per run. However due to the low prices of the carvings, the player would have to complete a full cycle to see this level of reward. Early in the game, the player will be more conservative that this and may fail to pick up on all the nuances of the mission. 

Since my team doesn't have a clock ticking, I can investigate many of the mini-missions in the game to see what pays off most. 

Revisiting Star Smuggler - Session 007a All Over But for the Accounting

We left on at the end of Day 5. On Day 6, the ship is repaired and ready to go. As mentioned before, they want to get back to doing something easier. That cargo run from Palatek to Regari sounds nice. Anything that doesn't involve shooting sounds nice. 

But they have one thing little thing that they can do on Mynkuria, pay off the ship. For a while there, I was tracking the ship's account and 9 different character's funds. That ain't fun, so it ends here. The ship's account is at 292,183 while the characters have an additional 8,820. After paying the ship off, they have 111,003 left. I am just keeping one pool of funds. 

The gang decides to run back to Palatek, via Nipna, Talitar and Imperia. They have no intention of landing anyplace except Palatek Prime, so the trip could take as little as a day. Depending on the dice gods, that is. Infi! 

At Nipna, they roll a 2 for their entry roll. They land in the middle of space battle and jump again before anything bad happens. At Talitar, they get a 3 which means they go undetected. At Imperia, they roll a 1 and drift by a broken down ship. Oddly, they have no chance to interact with it. For Palatek, they score a 3 which gives them a chance to attack a merchant ship with 12 hits. No deal. 

They land on the planet with two hours of daylight. They land at the city uneventfully. It's time to do the gear mamba to make space in the cargo hold. 

They have two hoppers which can hold 20 CU including passengers (it's odd, but the hopper boat guns are bigger than the ship guns). On each hopper, they leave five seats open for crew. They divide the fuel units 8 per hopper. One fuel unit is in the vacuum skimmer. They place 7 life support units in each hopper and one in the skimmer. 

In the cargo bay, they have 9 repair units and a skimmer (10 CU) leaving 41 CU of space for stuff. The remaining u-suits (4 in all), side arms and heavy side arms are scattered in the crew quarters. Since the crew space is 32 CU in all and I only have 9 crew plus their gear, I'll place the repair units there, too. Odd, but efficient. There is now 50 CU in the cargo bay. 

They buy 50 CU of electronics and get ready to go. That costs 3000 secs. They now have 108,003. That ends Day 6. 

On Day 7, they boost for orbit which takes 4 hours to reach the jump point. On arrival, they are ignored and land on the surface at the colony to off load the electronics for a base price of 100. They make 5,000 secs. and buy 50 CU of carvings for 250. 

Day 8 starts by moving the ship to the spaceport. They are out of hypercharges and need to "reload". They make the deal in one hour, but the loading process takes all day. They are down 3000 secs. 

Day 9, they boost for orbit and jump to Palatek. On landing, they offload their goods and take on the next load of electronics. They take in 1500, but end up spending 6000. 

Back to Regari. They get 5000 for the transaction. 

Emily points out that after 3 runs, they only have 110,253. They only made 2,250 but they are also down 1000 secs in fuel costs. This isn't working for them. 1250 of profits would make a starting player, they could pay their 300 interest payment, hire some crew and upgrade equipment fairly quickly, but it would be labor intensive. 

Time for a new plan for a new week. They buy a full load of Gm-bots at the space station plus two hypercharges. It sets them back 6000+1000. And they are off to Imperia. 

On arrival, they get slugged with a meteor in the engineer compartment. Mel and Sarah do their thing and get the ship repaired. Tired and bored and terrified, they call it a day. 

Day two is better. They land at the spaceport with no problem. Their entry roll indicates a roll on the regular spaceport table which is great. They get e037 - Sell GM-Bots and roll a 6 for their multiplier. They just made 100,000 secs. in one run. They have 203,253. 

Emily says, "Gee, we need to go back to Regari." 

The crew cries, "Why on Earth would we do that?"

"We need to buy a ship..." 

Their new ship cost 120,000 secs. Its TL-1, it doesn't have a hopper or guns. They only have one hypercharge, so they outfit both ships with a full load of six. That costs an additional 4000 secs. They have 79,253 left over. 

They spend the rest the week appointing their new ship. They outfit it with a set of Tl-5 guns from the Zephyr and one of the hoppers. They replace the guns on the Zephyr with TL-6 guns. This means the Zypher has 90 CU of storage while the other ship has 60. That sets them back another 3,000. 

They name it the Sirocco. They are joyriding around an empty spaceport lot trying to figure out who's gonna driver her. 

I'll probably rework this design to have guns. I can live with 2 30 CU bays instead of one large 60 CU bay. I like the look of this ship. 

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Revisiting Star Smuggler - Session 007a Smuggler's Blues

The crew has a plan. They have 2 CU of Dyna-weed that they need to unload quickly. They have a full load of hypercharges on Imperia, so they can reach any system in the sector. 

This exercise is more than looking at the map. It's about knowing the territory. 

There are 10 planetary systems with 15 planets. Of those 15 planets there are only 6 slums to sell this Dyna-weed. On top of this, each system has a wealth code which creates a ranking of which planets are best to visit. In order of wealth, the planets are: 
  1. Imperia,
  2. Byzantium, 
  3. Mynkuria, 
  4. Uruskop, 
  5. Talitar, 
  6. and Regari. 
A couple of these are contiguous systems, but most are widely separated. The crew has chosen the following flight plan: 
  1. Byzantium (48,000 on the sale) 
  2. Imperia, (160,000 on the sale)
  3. Uruskop, (Next planet)
  4. and Mynkuria (Last planet)
What is cool about Star Smuggler is, the reader is building a story outside of what is written in the events and rules. In this example, Mynkuria will be the last planet visited which will complete the weed smuggler's arc. This circles back to all the problems with Mynkuria Death Squads the party experienced back on Nipna. They are being forced to either reduce their profits or run headlong in the planetary system that has caused them the most pain. 

To get to Uruskop, they need to make a jump series from Imperia to Uruskop. This is totally event-less and takes a day. They make 32,000 secs. on the deal. Although event are ordered randomly by die rolls, the dice do not fail to bring the excitement or build story arcs. 

When the Zephyr jumps into Mynkuria space, the fight is on. They roll e095 which is an attack by a Mynkuria cruiser. The cruiser has 10 hits and TL-6 guns. 

One thing that is lacking is a consistent way to capture ships. In some events, the text indicates that the crew will surrender when their ship is down to one hit. In order to prevent the player from permanently capturing the ships they defeat, the surrendering ship threatens to self destruct. In other cases, like e095, there are no surrender conditions. I'll run this scenario out to show the difficulty in capturing a ship. 

The first round of combat takes place by surprise. Each round of combat in space takes an hour, except for surprise attacks. The attackers used an hour to attack, but the reader or player is experiencing the results that hour of action by surprise. They don't record that hour because they weren't aware of the other ship activities. 

The Zephyr has defensive screens, but due to the energy constrains cannot run with them on all the time. The Mynkurian cruiser blasts them with a series of rolls. 2, 2, 2 are all hits that would have been blocked with the screens. But the crew of the Zephyr didn't have time to turn them on. The score is 10 hits to 12 and we are counting down. 

In the first non-surprise round, the Zephyr raises its screens while the Mynkurian cruiser fires again. The Zephyr takes two more hits, 1 and 1 rolls which also indicates a crucial hit. The Zephyr's comms breakdown. They can no longer call for help or communicate with the hoppers. 

The Zephyr makes a risky hopper launch and the three ships fire back. The results are 2 and 2, a one, a one, and a 1, 2, and 2. Since no one ship scored a pair of ones in their attack, no criticals have been done to the Mynkurian this time. The score is now 10 to 3 hits left, still counting down. 

In the second round, the Mynkurian fires again (they have better guns) and scores no damage thank's to the Zephyr's screens absorbing all of those 2 rolls. Not every gun gets a chance to hit the Mynkurian ship. In one shot, they get a critical hit on the Mynkurian's turret doing two points of damage to the ship, knocking out the gun and killing the gunner plus one more point of damage to the ship. 

There is nothing left but an expanding ball of vapor. 

This shows how deadly combat is and hard it is to knock out a ship with damage via the rules. I've played enough to know that you can do with a critical to pilotage or engineering, but otherwise it is very hard to stop short of total destruction. In fact, the chances of knocking a ship down to just one hit is pretty unlikely. There is a tendency to simply overkill a ship. 

Anyway, back to the problems on the Zephyr. Destruction of the Mynkurian's ship does not make the crew wanted thankfully. The hoppers are recovered and the crew decides to enter the Mynkurian Slums to make their sale, another 48,000. Next, they move on to the spaceport. 

These series of moves were risky. They have two encounters in a heavily damaged ship which could have been two more combats. Luckily, they were sales opportunities which didn't have any effect. They do have a couple of hours to make some rolls, again, none of which have any effect. They don't need what was offered. 

The Mel and Sarah need to patch up the ship which will take 3 days. The crew could sweat out these days in RRR or they could try to replace their hypercharges. Replacing the hypercharges is less risky, but they are on the lookout for those Mynkurian Death Squads. 

The crew gets the required charges on the second day of repair, paying 1500 for the hyper-fuel. It's critical that the crew makes all of those repairs as a jump with a damaged ship can cause a catastrophic failure and kill everyone. A fully repaired and properly maintained ship does not suffer this roll, so it's kind of important. 

This ends day 5 of the week. The crew is counting it's money. They are sitting on 292,183 which is far more than the cost of the Zephyr. 

Resources remaining: 

2 Hoppers TL-1 (TL-6 guns), 17 fuel units, 2 GM-bots at TL-5, 1 vacuum skimmer TL-5 (e153), 3 TL-1 u-suits, 1 TL-6 u-suit, Regen Tank TL-6 (e153), Defense Screens, 4 TL-5 heavy side arms, 4 TL-4 side arms, 9 repair units and 18 life support units. 

Revisiting Star Smuggler - Session 006 Smugglers!

Since this will be a hell week, let's recap what resources the ship has and where. 

The ship's account has 8358 secs. In cargo they have: 

2 Hoppers TL-1 (TL-6 guns), 19 fuel units, 2 GM-bots at TL-5, 1 vacuum skimmer TL-5 (e153), 3 TL-1 u-suits, 1 TL-6 u-suit, Regen Tank TL-6 (e153), Defense Screens, 4 TL-5 heavy side arms, 4 TL-4 side arms and 20 life support units. 

The ship also has 4 point of damage from the space battle they fought. The engineers are screaming for resources, so they drop in to the space station. That takes a couple hours and the crew searches for repair units. The engineers insist on 20 repair units, which costs the ship's account 200 secs. They now have 8158 left. 

The next two days are spent doing repairs. I decided Mel and Sarah can each repair a point of damage per day. The rules don't say you can do this, but they don't preclude it either. 

It's now day 4 and the crew decides to leave for Palatek. It takes 3 hours to get to a safe jump point. 

The entry roll indicates they find a status unit floating in space (e103). They take it on board and make their way to the planet. Since they will be hauling cargo, they want to open the status unit and get it out of the way. This means they want to go to the space station for a 5 CU status unit. 

About the odds. You can buy status units at the spaceport on a roll of 2. There is exactly one way to roll that, or 2.78%. At the space station, stasis units are available on 9. There are many ways to roll a nine, 4 to be exact and that is 11.11% chance or four times as often. On the station, you only get 5 rolls per day but that's half the rolls at four times the chance. 

It takes them 2 days worth of rolls to succeed. 500 secs spent (7658 left).

It was more than worth the effort. They find 4 CU of Dyla-Weed. It has a base price of 16,000 secs in any slum. The downside is, they can only sell one per slum per planet. They'll be rich, if they are willing to deal with the illegal stuff. 

To make this choice, I make each character roll against their cunning. Emily, the medic Drey and Jason want to put it out the airlock, but the rest of the crew pleads with them to keep it. There is a lot of grumbling, but they come around. 

For once, these guys are actual smugglers. 

Day 7, they come up with a plan. They will go to Byzantium then Imperia to make the sales and refuel the hypercharges. 

You know, this won't go smoothly. They make the sale at Byzantium, pocketing 48,000 secs. On the very next jump to Imperia, the ship runs into an meteor which blows a hole in the boat bay and one of the boats. The engineers weep. 

As the crew sets down on the planet, the engineers start repairs while the rest of the crew makes the sale. They make another 160,000 secs. They have also used 2 more repair units, leaving only 14. They also have to refuel the ship which takes another day. 

Since the crew is doing something illegal, they quietly make a payment and tell Duke they are doing cargo runs. Because smugglers never do anything illegal. The ship's account is now at 213,683. None of the crew accept payment at this time because they are trying to hide the fact that they are drug runners. 

Technically, the crew is in a win condition. But I want to see how usable this system is a general RPG, so we'll continue again next week. 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Revisiting Star Smuggler - Session 005b

Ok, this session is part two of Session 005. It starts on the morning of day 10. In my last post, I accidently lost track of one day by not calling it by the number. 

We left the crew docked at the space station, with the intention of leaving for Regari. The crew is most interested in doing something safe like returning to Regari and doing some cargo runs to Palatek. As a game master, this is an unsatisfying development. I decided to throw something interesting at the party. 

On the morning of day 10, there is radio chatter about incoming raiders. Additionally, in the hub of the station, a pair of Mynkurnia death squads appear. The Zephyr wants nothing to do with those exploding suicide troops again, so they detach from the Station and start making for the Spaceport on the surface. 

As they drop into the atmosphere, they get jumped by two TL-6 hoppers, one has TL-6 guns and the other has TL-4 guns. The Zephyr has been surprised and take a pair of hits. 

Wait... I made another mistake. The Antelope II has no hit stats. It's twice as big as an Antelope I but I don't want it to have 20 hits. I give it 15 hits. It also has defensive screens, which will absorb some damage. 

Ok. So the Zephyr takes a beating as it plunges into the atmosphere of the planet. That's one hour of combat. 

In the next turn of combat, they return fire while the crew rushes around to unload the hoppers and make them combat ready. They could simply take off, but the hoppers are holding a ton of equipment. 

The Zephyr has TL-5 guns, while the attackers have TL-6 and TL-4 weapons. These guns lose one die for being hoppers and a second for firing in the atmosphere. I deem that the Zephyr's guns are better because they aren't degraded as much and therefore shoot first. 

My super fancy combat map. 

The hoppers each take two points of damage. But wait! That's not all. The hopper with the TL-6 guns takes a critical, forcing a breakdown roll. It fails and the ship crashes into the ground. The second boat returns fire and hits again. 

The ship is much faster than the hopper so it breaks away and into orbit in hour 3. They fire again on the lone hopper doing two more points of damage. It breaks off and makes for the ruins. 

Hour 5 is getting worse, they see two TL-4 Antelopes with the same type of guns. The Zypher has better guns and unloads on the lead ship for 5 points of damage plus a critical. Life support breaks down. The Zephyr's defensive screens eat up the one point of damage. The hoppers deploy and fire their TL-6 guns on the lead ship. They do four more points of damage, one more hit will kill it. The Raiders are screaming for the damaged hopper to come back and it starts it's climb.

The next round sees the Antelopes pull out of range of the party's hoppers, but they get blasted again by the Zephyr's big guns. The lead ship takes another critical to the engines and goes dead in space. The remaining ship takes a critical, a hit to pilotage. The pilot is killed instantly, stopping the ship dead in space. The guns rip off an ineffective shot. 

Also in this round, the last hopper roars out of the atmosphere and right into the Zephyr's hoppers. It's hit for two points of damage and explodes. 

The Raiders crews had two pilots, two gunners, an engineer and a death squad boarding party. They are trying to affect repairs but everything will take a day. 

In round 7, the hoppers catch up and blast the Raider still capable of shooting. They do two points of damage plus 2 criticals. One critical knocks out life support and a second lucky hit strikes Pilotage, where the engineer was attempting repairs. The Zephyr unloads on the ship for one point of damage and two criticals. These kill the crew in engineering and the turret. 

The Zephyr orders the ships to surrender. They do not. So, the crew moves to the closest ship and begins boarding actions. 

With life support down and heavy hand weapons, combat is over as quick as it started. The second ship manages to damage the Zephyr with two points of explosive damage, but then the rest of the crew goes down. They manage to capture the engineer and a gunner. 

The heroes collect up some weapons and spare change from the dead. The total crew was a pilot, a gunner, a death squad per ship, plus an engineer. The hopper had a pilot and gunner plus half of a death squad each. That nets 288 secs. from both ships' crew. They also collect up an assortment of guns, 4 TL-5 heavy side arms and 4 TL-4 side arms. As per e182, they strip the ships for 1400 secs. in fittings. In this case, Imperial Police take control of the ships from the party and thank them for their help, rather than an explosion destroying both ships. 

This ends the week on an odd note. The fund from fittings from the ships go into the Ship's account and the weapons and crew money is split up amongst the crew. Since the crew has already been paid, they get nothing more than prize money. 

I just purchased some graph paper composition books, which is what I use for note taking and rough gaming information. 

These are exactly what I used to map out all of the Star Smuggler events. 

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Revisiting Star Smuggler - Session 005a

The Zephyr
Week 5 in going to involve some gun running, so the crew purchases a full load of hypercharges for 2000 secs. This reduces their funds to 1175. 

Imperia is an expensive planet, everything is at least double normal prices. However, the main limiting factor is space on the ship. The best way to think about this problem is how to remove as much stuff from the cargo hold. Some items have a specific home. The 27 side arms are in the vault and take up 3 CU. The Regen tank is in medical, taking up 4 CU. The vacuum skimmer is cool, but it really has to stay in the cargo hold taking of 10 of 60 CU. The heavy side arms, robots and u-suits can be distributed in the crew quarters. The hoppers have their own spaces. Naturally, 19 fuel units can be divided among the hoppers. Additionally, the four repair units can be placed in Engineering while the 20 life support units can be placed on the hoppers for storage. 

There is now 50 CU available for items in the hold. The hoppers are too overloaded for use, not all the crew could escape on them due to the overpacking of equipment. Additionally, they should not be deployed because they crew doesn't want them damaged. 

I need 1 fuel unit and a few more repair units. I can sell 2 U-bots, the side arms and some of the life support units. The crew lands at the Industrial site and finds an empty room to search. None of the items in this area are worth screwing up a trade opportunity, so they move on. Looking at the table for the Industrial site, I need to roll a 5 (U-bots), a 7 for repair units, 8 for fuel, 10 for life support and 11 for side arms. There are a maximum of 5 rolls per day as they take 2 hours each. 

I get 5, 6, 10, 7 and 6. That's U-bots, a repairman, life support units, repair units and another repairman. Hmm. U-bots are 50 base price. The roll is a 3, or 5 times normal cost. They sell the bots for 500. It turns out life support units can't be sold here, so that roll is no good. Repair units are 5 each. The crew is going to take a chance on these and purchases 50 of them for 250. 

The next day, day 3, they roll again. They have excellent luck and sell all 50 repair units for 20 secs each or 1000 total. They also decide to sell the four in storage for an additional 80. The engineers are praying they have some good rolls, but no. They get a 3 which ends day 3. 

Day 4 doesn't go well. They purchase one fuel unit at a price of 2. Now they have a solid 20 fuel units or 10 per boat. No other good items appear. 

Day 5, the crew hits the jackpot and can buy side arms at cost of 15 each. Side arms are good cargo because a box of 10 takes up 2 CU. It's now a question of how much cash they have. They have 2503 secs. They buy 123 of them, when combined with the 27 they already have, they have a total of 150 weapons. They take up 30 CU, so they have a bit of breathing room. 

They take the rest of they day to get to the rough areas and I will roll for entry on the next morning. 

Day 6, welcome to the roughs. The Zephyr encounters nothing on the way in to the area, but attempts a contact. They meet up with some rough characters, gun runners who have a ton of arms. The crew is loaded for bear with the ship and hopper guns, so this is not a concern.  

They offer to buy the side arms for 5 each times 10. They take in 7500  less the 1845 they paid for them. The ship's account is up to 8158. 

On day 7, they try again to meet up with the arms dealers. It doesn't work out, instead they meet up with a party of royal guards. Nothing comes of it. 

The next day (EDIT - DAY 8!, I goofed), they get lost and have to boost the ship to a higher altitude to find their way out. A wasted day. 

On day 8 9, they move to orbit and dock at the space station. They may a payment and end the week with 6958. Each crewman receives 74 secs. 

I am going to cut off at the end of Day 8 9. As a player, my inclination is to return to something safe and sure like that cargo run from Regari to Palatek. As a game master, this is where I would kick the players in the butt to make fun stuff happen. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Revisiting Star Smuggler - Session 004

The Zephyr
Week four didn't start out as planned.  The crew is on Nipna and is looking to get off world. The ships took a heavy beating on the last day of the week and the crew has decided repairs are in order. 

In this run through of the game, each character is an independent crew member and has a stake in the ship. While I have been avoiding splitting the crew, I decide that it is reasonable in this case. 

The engineers, Mel and Sarah pour over the ship and the hopper to get all the repairs done on day 1 of week 4. Emily and Patrick are there with heavy hand weapons and the ability to fly the ship away in case they get a bad roll again. 

Jason, Burnie and Alex take off to look for better guns for the ship. The Zephyr has one empty turret and the other only holds TL-1 guns. This proved to be a problem as they could barely defend the ship. The hoppers with TL-6 guns are far more effective. 

They managed to purchase 2 sets of TL-5 guns for a total 3200 secs. They also sold the old guns for 600, which leaves the ship with only 1464 in the ship's account. They crew feels they are dangerously low on funds as hypercharges cost 500 and a ship payment is 475. They have less than 3 weeks of cash in the bank and nothing has been paid on the principal. 

On day 2, they lift of and head for New Karma. 

New Karma is a rather dangerous planet. It is both rich and low tech, but there is a heavy risk of becoming wanted or being attacked at random. Additionally, this planetary system is the most obscure of all of the systems in the game. I mean that literally. There is a lot of rolling for one event that forces you to another event. You can't really see threats coming by flipping to the next entry. 

Luckily, the ship is undetected on entry to the system and proceeds to land in the Ruins. 

Over the next six days, the crew manages to accumulate some goods. In order, they are: 

A skimmer with no fuel, 
10 damaged u-suits that require an RU for repair and a roll to see if it works, 
A damaged U-bot, 
Another undamaged skimmer with no fuel,
A ship's boat with 4 hits of damage, 
An undamaged U-bot, 
A TL-1 side arm, 
A undamaged GM-bot. 
A damaged GM-bot. 
A repair unit. 

That brings us to day 7. 

The engineers burn up four RU to fix the ship's boat. I deem that two engineers working together, can repair one point of damage each. While they are doing that, the rest of the crew creates a cache for the 2 skimmers. 

One of the quirks of this is system is you have to have enough space in terms of CU to fit things in the ship. The rule sort of hint that you can put a boat inside the cargo bay, so that is what they do. 

Now the ship is using all three bays for boats and the largest bay also holds a skimmer. There are 10 CU left, unless I want to start packing things in the hoppers. I am going to do that. Two have guns, so that means 10 of a combined total of 75 CU of space is taken. I also divide the life support units and repair units among the hoppers. That is another 23 CU of 75 taken. I have 42 left. The crew loads in some heavy hand weapons, side arms (just 7) and all of the extra u-suits. 

If they don't take too long, the cached items can be recovered later. The crew decides to go for broke, and try a double jump to Talitar then a single jump to Imperia. At Talitar, there is a single scoutship waiting for us, but they quickly jump again with no incident. 

In the Imperia system, the Zypher only gets a radio check in and can proceed to the surface. The crew decides to stop at the Space Station to try and sell off some goods. They managed to sell the extra hopper for 2500 and immediately pay an interest payment. They have 3489 secs. 

At this point the crew moves the ship away to do some much needed maintenance in orbit, with no random checks. They now have the following in the cargo holds: 

2 Hoppers TL-1, 19 fuel units, 2 GM-bots at TL-5, 2 U-bots at TL-2, 1 vacuum skimmer TL-5 (e153), 3 TL-1 u-suits, 1 TL-6 u-suits, 27 side arms at TL-1, Regen Tank TL-6 (e153), Defense Screens, 20 life support units, and 4 repair units. 

The crew also collects its pay (314 secs) which drives down the ship's account to 3175. 

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Revisiting Star Smuggler - Play Session 003

What I think a Smuggler
looks like... 
We are in week three. The crew is on Nipna and is looking to make a profit. Emily proposes that they move to the colony where they can trade some goods. To further this goal, Emily orders the hoppers deployed, freeing up their 40 CU slots on the ship. Now the Zephyr can hold a ridiculous amount of products, so long as they don't move. 

Over the week they spend a lot of time purchasing low and selling high. It isn't all that interesting. they take on some u-suits, fuel units, repair units and weapons. Emily decides to stock the ships weapons locker with two cases of side arms TL-6 and arm the crew appropriately. Every crew man has atleast a TL-6 side arm plus the Emily and the Gunners all have heavy side arms. They also take on 6 addition TL-6 heavy side arms for future use. Surprisingly, they make the most money off the fuel and repair units. 

By the evening of day seven, they have made 2540 secs. Emily calls it and moves the ship back to the spaceport where they set down and redeploys the hoppers in order to take on more goods. 

Emily is feeling kind of broke, so she personally invests in some repair units and then hopper guns. She manages to make herself 430 secs. Additionally, the crew arms up the hoppers with new TL-6 guns at a cost of 240 secs., which was slightly offset by selling the guns they had for 30 secs each. The rest of the crew takes a day of RRR and are impressed with her trade skills.   

On day 9, things go wrong. Very wrong. It was decided the ship would depart on Day 10. The crew would pick the destination once they made orbit. Since day 9 was a day of RRR except for Emily, they accidentally rolled a contact. They got the dreaded e133 Death Squad again. 

The Zephyr and one of the hoppers are damaged by two titanic explosions as the miner's connected and exploded. 

And here is where the rules go batty. There are some references to explosive hits on a ship and boat, but these guys merely have to touch the ship to cause damage. But how much? I don't know. Since damage is determined by a to hit roll and they don't have to roll to touch something, what happens?  

I can't imagine that someone could miss touching a starship or a boat. They are walking bombs so I decided that they do 1 point of damage to the Zephyr and 1d6 plus a critical to the hopper, just like a blast from ship's guns. The hopper takes 2 points and rolls for breakdown. It's a TL-1 hopper, it doesn't breakdown. 

The next round is brutal. The hoppers open fire with their guns as the Zephyr leaps into the air. They down the spitters while the other two members of the squad mill about. The hoppers lift off and continue the carnage. 

Three rounds of combat and the squad is dead. The crew seriously considers upgrading the Zephyr's guns. 

Day 10 is spent as RRR with no results. They obviously get a visit from the local police, which doesn't really effect anything. The police are just happy to have the Death Squad dead and the Zephyr leaving the planet. The engineers patch up what they can before heading to bed. One hopper has a good sized hole in it (1 point of damage). 

The ship's account starts day 10 at 7404 secs. The crew is paid off 74 secs. each. Emily phones in the ship's weekly payment of 475, leaving 6263. 

The crew will pick a new destination on day 1 of week 4. 

The ship holds the following resources: 2 Hoppers TL-1, 2 Hopper guns TL-6, 1 Ship's Guns TL-1, 18 fuel units, 1 GM-bot TL-5, 1 vacuum skimmer TL-5 (e153), 3 TL-1 u-suits, 1 TL-6 u-suits, Regen Tank TL-6 (e153), Defense Screens, 20 life support units, and 8 repair units, 27 TL-6 side arms, 6 TL-6 heavy side arms. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Revisiting Star Smuggler - Play Session 002

Last post, we ended with the crew of the Zephyr winning big at the gambling tables, only to have Emily get jumped for her money and gear. Mel not only wins big at the high roller table, he also purchase a TL-6 side arm that fires like a heavy hand weapon. Feeling bad for Emily, he gives her the weapon. She wants to hear more about the seller because she wants enough firepower to get even with those hoods that jumped her. 

As Mel explained how he met this arms dealer, (e153) Emily hatches a plot. 

Ok, as mentioned in the prior post, each member of the Zephyr crew is an independent character like Duke was in Star Smuggler. While they lack his skills and stats, they have his equipment and money, plus that independence. In this scenario, Duke holds the title on the ship and is the person that the crew pays interest and principal to. 

When Emily calls him about the most recent payment, she flubs her cunning check and lets slip that she is about to go from legit trader to vigilante. Duke squashes the idea and implicitly tells her to get back to trading. The casino vacation is over. 

The crew makes their weekly payment and have 1375 in the ship's account to work with. Additionally, the individual crewmen have several thousand secs to spend on personal equipment. 

Emily rallies the troops and they spend the next 4 days trading in the Spaceport. They buy low and sell high on Ninpa. One of the quirks of this system is items have a base price which is modified by the wealth of the system. Prices are modified from x1 to x20. This increases rather steeply on high cost planets, but even under the worst conditions the player can make 10 times what they spent because the difference of the highest and lowest prices are based on a 1d6. You're equally likely to get x1 or x2 prices as it is to get x10 or x20.  

While the majority of the crew are looking for resources or salable goods, Emily is looking for more gunmen. At the end of the week, the players obtain a GM bot, 20 life support units and sell off 10 of 30 fuel units. Mel made an opportune purchase of 10 additional GM bots and sold them for a whopping 6000 secs. All said and done, the ship's account jumped to 6769. 

Emily, on the other hand started looking for more stake holders, crew for the ship. She successfully recruited 2 pilots named Jason and Alex, 2 gunners named Pete and Burnie plus Sarah, an engineer. Each of them put up 100 secs. to join the crew topping up the ship's account to 7269. 

Here are the new character's stats: 

Jason - Pilot
Marksmanship - 3     Hand-to-Hand - 1     Endurance - 4     Cunning - 3     Stake - 1%
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 550 secs.  

Alex - Pilot 
Marksmanship - 4     Hand-to-Hand - 1     Endurance - 5     Cunning - 1     Stake - 1%
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 150 secs. 

Burnie - Gunner
Marksmanship - 4     Hand-to-Hand - 2    Endurance - 7     Cunning - 5     Stake - 1%
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 550 secs. 

Pete - Gunner
Marksmanship - 3     Hand-to-Hand - 3     Endurance - 4     Cunning - 2     Stake - 1%
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 50 secs. 

Sarah - Engineer
Marksmanship - 2     Hand-to-Hand - 2     Endurance - 5     Cunning - 6     Stake - 1%
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 250 secs. 

After successfully getting the require crew for a good hit on the hoods, Emily tried to make contact with the weapons dealer. They ran into a repo team the first day, but this is a non-event because the ship's weekly payment was already made. 

On the second day, the crew met with disaster. On their second day out, they ran into a Mynkurian Death Squad (e133). On a high tech world like Nipna, this could have been deadly. 

For role play purposes, I placed the crew in a bar looking for contacts. Half the party was in one booth while the rest of the party was in a second booth. When the Death Squad entered, they couldn't pick out leaders, so I rolled 50-50 for which table interested them. They picked Emily's table and fired two shots on them. Two of the squad are miners that go after bots and vehicles and explode on contact. Since the party didn't have these items, they hesitated. The "gold slayers" have poison knives and target officers. Since no one was displaying a weapon or insignia, they also paused. The spitters fired two shots at a random character, who happened to be Emily. She was stuck for 6 hits and returned fire burning one spitter to ash with her new pistol. The remaining characters opened fire, too. With TL-1 sidearms they didn't down anyone but the two miners took 1 and 2 points respectively. 

The remaining spitter targeted Emily again. He missed but Emily blew him away. The rest of the crew took down both miners since they were closer. 

In the third round, Emily was forced to flee and no one could shoot the lead "gold slayer". The second "slayer" was hammered by 7 side arm shots. 

In the forth round Emily stood her ground and fired. The "slayer" beat the odds and stabbed her. While Drew administered first aid, the rest of the crew punched and kicked the last slayer to death. 

For the rest of the week, Emily is laid up with injuries. Drew puts her in the Regen tank and she is restored to 9 Endurance. She decides not to risk the tank a second time. The GM-bot does it's thing on the ship and maintains the tank to keep it safe and available. 

Over the next two days, the rest of the crew is very luck and makes 2 contacts with the "weapons dealer". This is e153 High Technology Items. In the reading of the event, the crew makes a roll to see what item they are offered. To role play this one out, I decided that this dealer is a lot like The Collector in Guardians of the Galaxy and what item the characters get is based on the party's internal arguing with each other. 

The crew is dominated by spacemen and they select first the vacuum skimmer with life support and starship defensive screens for 1,500 secs. This comes out of the ship's account as they are items for the ship. The account now holds 5,469. 

Had Emily been with them, I would have had her make a cunning roll to try to get those powerful side arms. But she wasn't and most of the crew are new and pilots or engineers. They think better equipment is the best. 

At the end of the week, each member of the crew receives 55 secs. which reduces the ship's account to 4864. The ship has the following resources on board: 

2 Hoppers TL-1, 2 Hopper guns TL-1, 1 Ship's Guns TL-1, 20 fuel units, 1 GM-bot TL-5, 1 vacuum skimmer TL-5 (e153), 3 TL-1 u-suits, 1 TL-6 u-suits, Regen Tank TL-6 (e153), Defense Screens, 20 life support units, and 10 repair units. 

The characters have the following equipment: 

Emily - Pilot
Equipment - utility suit (T-6), sidearm (T-6, explosive rounds).
Money: 74 secs.  

Mel - Engineer
Equipment - utility suit (T-6), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 3769 secs. 

Drey - Medic
Equipment - utility suit (T-6), PS-bot (T-1).
Money: 74 secs. 

Patrick - Gunner
Equipment - utility suit (T-6), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 1074 secs. 

Jason - Pilot
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1). 
Money: 615 secs.  

Alex - Pilot 
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 205 secs. 

Burnie - Gunner
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 605 secs. 

Pete - Gunner
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 105 secs. 

Sarah - Engineer
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 305 secs.