Black Space: Pursuing the Bomber

Black Space Logo

A group of spacers on Fist Star 18, a space station known for offering robot gladiator matches, decided to go bounty hunting together.

  • Duncan Golas (Brian Wille) was a spacer with a prosthetic handshake, a tech expert who was a leader in the pit crew for one of the robot gladiators, able to reroute power and begin the repairs before even opening the machines. He got another spacer to smuggle some illegal enhancements through security using her prosthetic leg, and as discovery became ever more likely, it was time to move on.
  • Bones (Lu Quade) was a spacer with a danger sense and an instinct for figuring out new vehicles, and also a smuggling compartment built into her leg. She was a courier for parts for the robot gladiators, but her help to Golas would be discovered soon, so it was time to move on.
  • Hellas (Darren Brockes) was a spacer with keen focus, dangerous skills, and an uncanny ability to survive. He served as a “bot clown” to distract malfunctioning bots and provide entertainment between matches. His mentor was squashed a week ago, and after one party, everyone moved on and forgot him; it was chilling, and Hellas was looking for other work.
  • Gasper (Andrew Huffaker) was an unapologetic survivor of facial mutiliation and cyrbernetic experimentation who inherited a ship (The “Thieving” Magpie) and $400,000 debt from contacts with the Yuvaria Corp.

Together, they won a lottery with the “Hunter Hunter” show, starring Captain Persephone, a man wearing boots, a banana hammock, a tiny vest, and a different large hat every session. He had the whole sector starmap tattooed on his oiled torso.

Captain Persephone interviewed the winners, then they got the prize; a leg-up on the next big bounty to come across the Cortex. They got the information, then tesserarched out of the station with drones firing pyrotechnics behind them so their trajectory could not be tracked.

The Sylorica Corp out of Startree posted a bounty on Highshine West, a demolitions expert for the Belwyth Piracy Franchise. $20,000 alive, $10,000 dead. Also $10,000 alive, $5,000 dead for Armand Hammer, a vicious pilot and West’s right hand. They also had 5 cases of grav flex charges worth $10,000 each in bounty. This was to be turned in to Preceptor Chan as the contact.

Apparently West conducted a series of bombings in the Vysac supply chain, ships and ports both. The contract was completed before Chet Flinders, a hunter, could catch West. So the Sylorica corp opened the contract up to external bounty hunters.

They won the tip that placed West on Case 486 Evidenciary, a planet that blew up and was pulled back together by gravity, now a nightmare of class action suits that had been churning for 182 years with no end in sight. The hunters were only 6 hours behind.

Gasper chewed cigarettes to pass the time on the trip, and Bones reveled in her trading card of Captain Persephone, which he signed with a thumbprint virus that unlocked the 3d signature on the card.

Duncan sifted the history on West, discovering he had been a pirate licensed with the Belwyth Piracy Franchise. The Sylorica Corp fired his ship and jailed him for a decade, and now that he’s out he’s doing paid work to get his franchise license and a ship and crew back together.

Upon arriving at the edge of the Evidentiary’s orbits, they scanned to pick up an appropriately spaced time and and advertisement to meet and discuss fencing issues and explosives; West wanted more explosives! The meet location was on level 482, deep in the Rift district, which has the most extradition issues and the weakest policing.

Gasper took one grav pod, Duncan took another, and while they were headed down at reasonable speeds, Bones drove one and took Helles for a ride, and engaged in the zero g falling of “freeballing,” a local sport. On the way down, another pilot challenged them to a multiple-g race, and Bones accepted; as Helles threw up and failed to help out, Bones banged down through the wing of one grav pod, and refused to flinch, to the point where Helles trying to help broke the grav unit off, and they were stopped by public safety measures as the other pod sauntered away–piloted by Armand Hammer!

Helles and Bones both sassed the Bailiffs who showed up, they were stunned and destined for prison when Duncan (who quickly changed into a nice suit) pretended to be a lawyer and pulled them out because of jurisdictional issues, retreating from the site.

Meanwhile Hammer flew casually away from the mayhem, and Gasper was on his trail, following him to where he walked into the bottom of a spaceship elevator with a yacht inside, the Vauxhall.

The hunters rendezvoused at the ship and changed their outfits and gear, then closed in on the Vauxhall station private ship elevator. As they approached, Hammer was coming out, oblivious to them. Bones and Gasper pulled guns from Bones’ leg and opened fire, knocking him down in a hail of bolts, but not killing him. They worked through it with the bailiffs, then turned the captive in to representatives of the Sylorica Corp, getting $10,000 (so $2,000 for each of them and $2,000 to cover the damages from the chase.)

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Update to the Duskwall Heist Deck!

Good news, everyone! The Duskwall Heist Deck print and play version now has all the information of the physical deck! That’s 40 people, 40 treasures, and 50 obstacles.

For those who already purchased the .pdf, you should be getting an email letting you know you can download the updated deck. It is two documents; one is the cards, the other is a 10 page document that has the back of the obstacle cards, so you can draw “Pit Traps” and see the front, then look on the alphabetical list on the back list to see suggestions for customizing the obstacle. (It’s really difficult to print front and back cards that line up, so this was a compromise.)

(As a historical note, the print and play deck was an afterthought based on demand from people who faced stiff shipping charges to order a physical deck. As such, it was incomplete, because my control of graphic designers is limited, as are my resources. I have now been able to create a rough parity between the decks, information wise, and I think that’s something to feel good about.)

I hope this breathes some new life and fun into your decks. Thanks for your support.

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We’ll See

The old man leaned against the concrete barrier on the fourth floor of the parking garage, squinting westward into the low sun. “So much for Tuesday,” he muttered.

“Yep, there it goes,” said the young lady behind him. She hiked herself up to sit on the wall, carelessly battering the back of her heels against the concrete. “Rest in peace.” She offered a brief and amorphous salute to the dying of the light.

The old man sucked at a tooth for a moment. “These days remind me of a story,” he muttered. “You wanna hear a story?” he asked, half playful, looking over his shoulder at the young woman.

“Sure,” she shrugged.

He turned his back to her, taking in the half-ruined abandonment spreading out around the massive building. “There was once a farmer with two sons, lived up in the mountains. His sons were out hunting and they found a wild horse. They captured it, brought it home, and everybody was impressed. Hey, a free horse! That’s like a free car, back then,” he clarified, glancing back at her. “But the old farmer, he wasn’t impressed. ‘Look at your good fortune!’ people said to him, but he shrugged. ‘We’ll see.’ That’s all he’d say.”

He cleared his throat. “But then the sons, they were taming the horse, and one of ’em had a fall. A bad fall, broke his leg in three places, so bad it would never heal right. They bound him up good, and got him a crutch, and everybody was all sympathetic. They said to the farmer, ‘That’s some rotten luck! Your son, with his busted leg!’ But you know that old bastard, he just shook his head, and all he’d say was, ‘We’ll see.'”

He turned from the sunset, looking her in the eye. “Next day, soldiers came. They were conscripting all the able-bodied young men for the war, and they took the farmer’s healthy son, but they left him his son with the busted leg. As they were leaving, the neighbors gathered around. ‘You get to keep your son!’ they said, all excited. ‘That’s a lucky break!’ But he just shook his head.” The old man looked at the young woman. “What do you think that miserable bastard said?”

“We’ll see,” she said with half a smile.

“Damn straight,” the old man said with a nod. He crossed his arms over his chest, looking into the middle distance, sniffing at the wind. “I was twelve years old when I read that story,” he said quietly. “I read it the night before they took my ma off the ventilator. I felt like that goddamn miserable farmer as I watched her die. My uncle, telling me it was a damn shame her insurance ran out. The nurse, with that worried look, telling me her suffering was over and this was a blessing.”

Quiet settled around the two, as though sound faded with the light.

“Helped me set my course,” he murmured. “The idea that I could decide whether a catastrophe was a gift, or a lucky break was a disaster. The idea that you can’t see the future, you don’t know what you’re avoiding, or what you could have had. So you decide if it was good luck or bad luck. Or better yet,” he clarified, looking her in the eye, “you just let it be what it is.” He was quiet for a long moment. “Take the good you can get. Live with the bad. It’s all on the Tao.” He vaguely gestured in a circle. “The Way, you know?”

He turned his back on her again, leaving her oddly alone in the gathering dusk. “So maybe this quarantine is right. Maybe it’s important. Maybe if we break it, we bring disaster on a greater scale. Maybe if we escape we leave the best life we could have had.” He shrugged. “Or maybe getting trapped in here is certain death. Maybe our lives derailed, and unless we get out of here now, it’s over for us.” He sniffed. “Maybe our leaders are cowards, and that opens the way to mass death and chaos; or maybe it doesn’t really matter what the leaders do, because other events are on course and inexorable as fate.”

The strengthening chorus of insects like crickets began their evening rhythm, and the young woman hopped off the wall and stood next to the old man.

“I guess we’ll see,” she said in a small voice.

“Attagirl,” he replied through half a smile.

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Gaming in 2017

Looks like my Friday table for 2017 had:

24 sessions of Edge City.
7 sessions of World Between for Fictive Hack.
6 sessions of Blades in the Dark.
2 sessions of Chaos Monks.
2 sessions of Axes and Anvils.
2 sessions of Black Space.

52 weeks, 43 Friday sessions, so that’s 9 weeks we missed this year.

At game days, I ran a session of Guns of Telluria and a session of Black Space. I played in a session of Protocol. In Boston, I ran a session of Ghostbusters. At Mark’s game table, I played 2 sessions of World Between for Fictive Hack as a player.

Online, I played:

6 sessions of Krevborna (as a player)
2 sessions of Fictive Avengers
1 session of Apollyon (as a player)
1 session of a dungeon with Wayne (as a player)
1 session of Maze Rats, witchhunters with Max (as a player)
1 session of Guns of Telluria

Online with the Gauntlet:

8 sessions of Chaos Monks
4 sessions of Black Space
4 sessions of Blades in the Dark (as a player)

So that’s about 27 sessions online, and 4 more at other game tables.

All told, about 74 games this year.

That’s something to be thankful for!

A big thank-you to those who played with me online, and those who ran games for me. I appreciate it.

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Zombies!!! New Heroes

The Zombies!!! game comes with six generic “shotgun guys.” Well, I got in on the Reaper Kickstarter some while back, so I can do better!

I painted these guys in about 90 minutes of experimentation with varying degrees of success. I did the pictures before I put the protective coating on, just in case I screw them up.Doctor GoldMiss DustyMister GreenProfessor BluesSilver BulletSister Midnight

And just for fun, what if each of them had a special ability? They can use it and tap the ability, spinning it around, until it is recharged and ready to go again.

ZOMBIES!!! 6 powers

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Chaos Monks: The Festival of Shivering Petals

Chaos Monks MountainsTwo months later, we resume our tale.

  • Hum Lae (Max) got work with the Footprinter Clan of Charikot. He was assigned to Ekkre, their Keeper of the Old Ways, to serve as a resource when he had questions about humans and their foibles. The dwarves provided him with fine metal armor and a shortsword printed with runes identifying him as servant of the Keeper of the Old Ways.
  • Xiao Xiao (Jeremy) and Ping continued working for Nyandak of Jade Shadows providing a safe working environment in the seraglio and tending to any needs she may have. In order to be popular, Xiao Xiao took to living considerably beyond his means, and he now owes money to some impatient and dangerous people in Charikot as a consequence.
  • Gazo (Lu) also continued working for Nyandak of Jade Shadows.
  • Tu (Ted) also continued working for Nyandak of Jade Shadows.
  • Lightcrash the Silver Eye (Patrick) got a great offer from Nyandak, transmitted through the sluggish magically to reach him in Kwantoom, to bring his theater company to the valley to perform!
  • Huan (Tyler) naturally got dragged along as part of that theater troupe.

The Night Before

On the eve of the Festival of Shivering Petals, the Jade Shadows seraglio was doing brisk business before leaving for the celebration. Outside was pouring rain, but inside was alive with meeting patrons’ various needs, including gambling and romance.

Lightcrash and Huan showed up with the Eun clan of snailish; the snailish were banished to the barn (which they were cool with) and the humans allowed inside. (Xiao Xiao and Ping were minding the door instead of helping divas pack.)

Hum Lae was surprised to see them, but they quickly caught up on things over food and drink, and got involved in a complex gambling game invented by sluggish millennia ago. Gazo ended up on guard duty while Xiao Xiao got in on the game (everyone demanded he play, as he was sometimes a spectacular and lucrative loser.) Tu also got in on it, and the tables were thrumming with pleasant vice.

Lightcrash headed for the high stakes gold table to play with the sluggish wizards, and while they turned him down at first because of his association with filthy snailish, he bragged about abusing them to the point where the sluggish relented and let him play.


By Lu Quade

Shen the Yakkish

Three yakkish showed up, and while they were not normally allowed, they strongly reminded Gazo of the Herald of the Void, so she let them in. They joined the gambling, and Gazo reported to the Mistress, who came out to watch them and intervene if need be. If things got out of hand. Yakkish tend to be bad for business.

Sure enough, Lightcrash had a good round and was exuberant in spite of himself, and Shen recognized him; apparently Lightcrash owed Shen a good deal of money. Shen took his table winnings, but Lightcrash wasn’t going to put up with that. He fired some flashpowder surprise up Shen’s nose, grabbed his winnings, and scrabbled for the exit.

Shen snatched up a table and swatted him with it, and as Lightcrash tumbled through the air, he grabbed a chair and enchanted it so he could ride it; the chair whizzed up into the air with him aboard, and in the general chaos the other two yakkish stayed low and out of it. The sluggish cast a spell protecting their table with a magic bubble. Xiao Xiao snatched as much of the winnings from his table as he could and made a run for it.

Shen rushed to the door to keep Lightcrash from escaping, but Huan delved into his own chaos magic and fired out a spell of chaotic energy that pulled Shen down, restraining him against his will. Hum Lae piled on, adding his muscle and chaos energies to the spell to keep the yakkish down.

Lightcrash decided to exit, and zoomed up towards an air vent. He smashed against the wall, but concentrated all the flying energy into one leg of the busted chair so it could pull him up through the air vent and out into the night. Birds from his magic act, advertising leaflets, and other pocket contents swirled down. He almost made it, but instead of getting stuck, his greasepot burst, slicking him up and ruining his outfit (as well as showreing grease on the room below (and he soared away free, yelling that rehearsal was cancelled for the night.)

There was a general melee between Gazo and the bouncers and the indignant gamblers chasing Xiao Xiao that others participated in, taking the energy out of the group (and Xiao Xiao slunk off to not provoke them with his thieving presence.) Gazo later demanded a cut of the table-grabbed winnings for helping out with that.

Shen was sent out into the night when the magic wore off, for being disruptive. He sullenly left. (Lightcrash hid in an attic until morning, so as not to cross his path. He got one scrubbing when he got to town, and found himself in need of another.)

The Festival of Shivering Petals

The Vale of Flowers lies between the Charikot and Bharatput city states, and it is home to the Jade Baths run by Jal and her triplet sons Dilip, Hari, and Laxanan. For the Festival, the rulers of both states attend, along with a number of nobles. The noble chooses a cherry tree that is losing petals, and tells a story involving love and/or ghosts. If the story lines up aesthetically with the pattern of petal loss during the telling, that grants good fortune to a coming venture.

Also, there was a competition planned between Jade Shadows and Crimson Shade, where both seraglios put on a show and the one that the ruler of Bharatput, Lord Zhang Dong, chooses, wins bragging rights.

Before the show, Slick caught up to Hum Lae and resumed their tempestuous and sticky romance.

At dusk, the festival began with enchanted fireworks making a burning cherry tree losing petals in the sky. Then they began with the show.

Crimson Shade led off with a dancing dragon full of ladies, and Jade Shadow shot back with snailish sphereplay and drone pipes. By the time they reached the evening’s last round, Lightcrash narrated a tale of a maiden lured to the underworld, who returned like springtime, and he used magic to add light effects and cause the plants around the stage to grow through two years’ cycles. They won handily, and Lord Dong spent the night with the Jade Shadows.

Lions and Blood

Meanwhile, a mercenary company from Charikot was there protecting them, and Bharatput had their own forces too. Hum Lae thought he recognized one of the mercenaries as a member of the Thousand Throat he met on the road, but couldn’t be sure. He mostly attended to Ekkre, Keeper of the Old Ways.

Ekkre told him the dwarves did the jadework carvings for the humans, as a condition securing the neutrality of the site. He told Hum Lae that Jal and her sons were sorcerers, key to defending the valley, and he said something about how blood should not be spilled here. Dwarves are cryptic. They also got the solid-walled collapsible yurt set up, complete with a big compartment for Hum Lae and differently shaped area for Ekkre. They even brought fishtanks; bait fish for Hum Lae to enjoy before feeding them to the expensive fish Ekkre brought along.

They celebrated until late and planned to sleep in.

Morning Violence

Xiao Xiao was woken early by a nervous guard. Jal and her sons had been kidnapped in the night. Xiao Xiao immediately woke his Mistress, finding her drowsing by a pile of exhausted people, nude and adorned with shimmering green runic tattoos. She touched one to clothe herself in a black robe, and blew her hunting horn to rouse the camp, immediately alarmed by the news.

The Thousand Throats bandit army attacked the tent city! As the snailish oozed to safety over the bath house walls, taking Lightcrash and Huan with them, the others headed for the main gate to the bathhouse (as a tent city is a terrible place for melee.)

The attackers in the rush to the gate were led by a big man with a topknot helm and hammer, and Xiao Xiao shot him with a crossbow to weaken him so Gazo could shove through the melee and kill him in the face.

Troops from Bharatput, Charikot, and the Thousand Throat swirled in battle, but Hum Lae skirted the fight to see a robed figure with paired athame slaughtering people, and he took her head off.

The Thousand Throats withdrew, and only then did the news reach the monks; the bandit army had mounted this attack as a feint. The Lord of Charikot was their prisoner!

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World Between: the Kraken

World Between Fictive Nameplate

As Andor was nude in the sacramental chambers in the depths of the Caligari cathedral preparing for another baptism to push off a new waves of horrific sin, the water began to steam. Evil was near! But he was not deterred in seeking to draw closer to salvation, so Andor entered the water and submerged–

–emerging, thrashing, in the freezing ocean in a storm! During a kraken attack! The Flayed Sail was destroyed by a kraken during a thunderstorm, and the heroes saw for just a moment a shaft of moonlight in the form of the Lady, with a direction to swim to survive. They did so, losing most of their worldly possessions…

  • Andor. (Simon) Zealot penitent miraculously transported a thousand miles.
  • Ragnell. (Shaun) Templar of Saint Bernus.
  • Maeve. (Iris) Fey connected assassin.
  • Ty. (Mark) A bandit.

After the Storm

Maeve woke up naked and trussed to a spit, about to become a barbecue as the happy cannibals prepared the fire. A more important cannibal came out and discouraged that; apparently she was to be kept alive, tied to an upright pole.

Ty woke up with a busted leg in a tidal pool, and was spotted by two of the cannibals that were scouting for survivors. (One was wearing his new, very fancy hat.) Ty yelled at them, frightening them so one went for reinforcements and the other kept an eye on him.

Ragnell woke up and dragged himself off the beach, witnessing the cannibals capturing Captain Malia and dragging him off. Ragnell followed, finding the village. Meanwhile the cannibals tied Malia up next to Maeve, so she managed to free a hidden dagger from her hair and cut her bonds so when the moment was right they could try to escape.

Meanwhile a babbling scout showed up and a group of cannibals and some manta ray / dog hybrids (dograys) headed out. Ragnell stayed to watch the village.

Andor woke on the beach, still nude, and went about scavaging for clothing or supplies, only finding a modest uprooted tree he could use as a club. He saw a group of cannibals come out of the jungle and close in on the rocks, where Ty was being watched by a cannibal scout.

Beach Battle

The warband came to get Ty, but were distracted by Andor, who managed to kill all three dograys and close in to kill more cannibals. Meanwhile, Ty limped at the cannibal with his hat and killed him with rocks, reclaiming his hat, and he moved to the jungle path so as cannibals fled from Andor’s fury they ran into Ty, with Andor close behind. None of the cannibals survived. (Ty mainly survived because of his Ring of Protection; he was badly hurt from the surf hurling him into rocks.)

Village Battle

They headed up to the village, and Ragnell joined them. Drums and movement indicated some forces were headed for the village north gate, but the heroes hoped to move fast and get out before they arrived.

They walked right on in through the door in the palisade. Six of the tribe’s elite fighters came for them, and a dozen or so other cannibal fighters supported them. Maeve used the distraction to free Captain Malia, but he succumbed to the various hurled knives, clubs, and blowdarts that stormed the prisoner area. Maeve and Ragnell hewed down the guards as Andor and Ty faced the elites.

Ty went down to blows from paired bone swords made of the wings of bats, and his leg was ruined from the knee down. Andor stood against the storm of exotic weaponry and techniques (including one woman who used gourds full of fire ants on a cable to deposit swarms of them on his tough hide.)

As the heroes finished up the elites, they scooped up Ty and Malia’s dying bodies and escaped, while Maeve dropped into the chief’s hut and grabbed all her supplies the cannibals took when they captured her. She made it out of the village just in time as the mysterious reinforcements arrived.


They found Malia was dead, and Ragnell built a cairn for him. Maeve took off Ty’s ring of protection and operated on him, amputating the leg at the knee. He survived. Andor and Ragnell went scouting for food and drink, bringing both back, and they hid in an old smuggler hole for the night (where Ty found the rum that got him through the surgery.)

They rested for a full day and a half. Weirdly, aside from one patrol of three that surprised Andor and got wiped out in a round, no one came looking for them. Andor also heard a weird vibration in the jungle, but since they weren’t sure what it could be, they didn’t worry abut it.

The Village

They returned to the village to find it abandoned. They replenished their supplies and found some things from previous victims, like healing potions, a vial of poison, a shortsword, and a shield. They decided to follow the ceremonial exit out of the palisade, and it curved around the cliff.

They got a magnificent view of the bay below and the opposite shoulder of the island, which had a Black Tower perched on it. Also, the cave at the end was a big ritual circle for controlling the kraken, and they realized it was dozing in the bay below, kept in by standing stones with symbols that matched the symbolic room. (Andor had been hurling all their ceremonial gear off the cliff before the kraken was spotted in the waters 60 feet below.)

There were also some boats on the shore, by the kraken’s bay.

They decided the best course was to go down, get a Northron ship, and drift out of the bay before picking up speed and heading back towards land. That’s what they did, and the kraken didn’t wake as they drifted over it in shallowish water.

They left questions behind, but they already had answers that had to get to the Church as soon as possible, so their mission continued.

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