The Black Space Hack: Undersea

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The Telmek Company hired some spacers to go retrieve special samples from one of their scientific expeditions. Rather than pull the whole (expensive) expedition out, they’d grab the red-hot licensing discovery and fly it back safely.

Faden Ren (Simon) was a mutant telepath with a melee focus. Gunther Kline (Shawn) was a focused tech expert. Amaris Grayley (Elizabeth) was a fast-moving linguist with neural data storage. Emily Taylor (Iris) was a doctor with fast reflexes.

They headed to Zygaran Two, an icy moon off the shoulder of a gas giant. The ocean froze there, and the ship landed by the Mast Sea’s west coast, discovering a number of pre-fab building habitats built around the Cramlien research craft. They expected a team of 8 scientists and 3 crew, but it was too cold for a warm welcome.

Welcome to Base Camp

They were greeted by Donaldson, the comm officer, who took them into the habitat where they met Durham, the security officer. Dr. June Avila greeted them, somewhat disappointed they didn’t have a xenobiologist with them. They also met Dr. Vee Sularia, the lead researcher, and Burl Patterson, the ship captain.

Everyone was on edge, nervous, hiding something. They complained of not sleeping well, and they had irritated eyes. Dr. Sularia assured them they were preparing the samples for transport, and the spacers were escorted to an observation room so they could see the surface; once the magnalock snapped shut, they realized it was a handy holding cell too.

After searching the room they realized some components were damaged and replaced, and something in here had actually scratched metal. Gunther popped the magnalock with his multitool, and they cautiously ventured out without supervision.

They met the wild-eyed young woman, Helen Roth. She ushered them back in, and told them that the digging found a habitat structure in the frozen ocean with life forms that weren’t dead, only dormant. Also a signal that could be a Melestrian Era Scattering lost ship. Could these creatures be human? And the dreams intensified, and got worse. The hibernating things woke up and proved dangerous–then she got paranoid, looking around at something only she could see, whipping out a super-heated ice pick and trying to defend herself. She fell screaming, and her neck broke.

Down

They ventured out again and ran into Donaldson, who told them he was opportunistic and wanted to get out of this and get some fat bonus money and put it all in the past. So, he wanted to get some data and samples maybe, then get off this moon while there was still time. Part of the problem was the proprietary information was all coded through the Cramlien research craft, and if it got a certain distance away it would auto-corrupt; the databank in Amaris’s head could prevent that.

They got across the bitter cold to the prefab building over the mine shaft, and found Donaldson’s code had been changed, he was locked out. Again they had to defeat the security, but this time the cold took a toll on their bodies. They eventually staggered in, and then took the lift down the endless 45 degree shaft cut through frozen ocean, glittering denizens of the deep looking through the ice at them as they descended, absorbing and reflecting light from their bioluminescence.

The hallucinations were getting worse for the crew, apparently. They found Dr. Avila’s lab, with frozen fish-people and also thawed fish people and one she was vivisecting that apparently was hard to kill. She thought they were hallucinations, then could not bear their noise, and came at them with a gun. They put her down, and put her corpse with another corpse she had shoved off to the side.

Rather than risk anything waking up (there was scattered gunfire, the captain and security officer were hunting something in the excavated habitat) they sawed off a head and put it in a specimen jar, then downloaded masses of the experimental data into Amaris’s head.

Some mutagenic force, possibly psychic in nature, had caused mutation on what were once humans into these hardy and immortal fish people. That was a massive find to the sponsoring corporation, and what they came to find. Now it was time to take the self-interested double agent Donaldson and get out.

Escape

Their ship was half-buried in ice, a storm was raging and they knew they wouldn’t be able to immediately leave. However, the Cramlien research craft was much bigger and stronger. The only one aboard was Dr. Sylaria, the leader of the expedition. She let them aboard, and took off, tearing loose of the ice and dragging their ship along with the tractor beam.

She was going to keep them off the bridge, but together they persuaded her to let them come up and help. She had the place set up with plants and incense and soft lighting, and she was meditating and preparing herself, resisting her dreams. They realized she was going to jump the research craft directly into the sun to cover up the event and hopefully discourage future expeditions. The dreaming force deep below that changed the fish people was at work on her and her crew, and what if its mutagenic force changed them too?

The spacers had a quiet desperate message sent to their bosses asking for the override codes for the ship, then negotiated with Sylaria. They appealed to her, and she agreed to let them escape in their ship (thinking the data would be wiped, when in fact it was protected.) They got down to their ship before they got the message from the corp with the override codes.

Returning to the ship, they took control and locked the doctor up, then took the research vessel and its prize data and even a sample back to the corp; the Telmek Company was overjoyed and paid them huge bonuses to keep their mouths shut.

 

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Blades in the Dark: The Horsemen

greater kc rpg dayBitD Title_01 by James Dudli

I ran a session of Blades in the Dark at the Greater Kansas City Role Playing Game Day. I had three players:

  • Andrel Rowan. Leech. (Shawn)
  • Phin Farros. Lurk. (Brendan)
  • Don Coup. Spider. (Jordon)

All three were Severosian, strangers in a strange land. They may or may not have the ultimate goal of wiping out factions and burning the city down, eventually “cleansing” it by dropping the electroplasmic walls. Also, Rowan and Farros might have once been merchants who were deprived of their livelihood by unreasonable taxes unfairly enforced. In any case, they now formed a crew of thieves.

We had a leisurely pace for making characters and the crew, and played less than 4 hours, but we had two rollicking heists and two downtimes and supplemental planning–we covered a lot of ground.

Skovlanders Are a Problem

Ulf Ironborn and his Skovlander ne’er do wells strutted around Three Steeple Square like they owned the public space and all adjacent businesses and residences. This was adjacent to Adelaide Phroaig’s mansion, with its yacht launch area, which was next to the secret lair under the house. The Horsemen (my name for the crew, as they are all Severosian,) determined they’d get rid of the Skovlanders and take over the Three Steeple Square area for its own good.

The overall plan was to target them on the night of their Fire Festival, where they burned figures in effigy for some bizarre cultural reason (no one cares enough to figure the event out.) Arrange for them to escalate their misbehavior, and have the bluecoats primed to take them down; evidence that they are stealing from nobles, maybe a painting in the fire or something. Details. Let’s not get too far ahead.

Farros was frenemies with Roslyn Kellis, a noblewoman. She was totally into collecting the study miniatures of horse sculptures, and she had stables for purebreed champion horses. Maybe it could seem the Skovlanders stole from her.

To further assist in the framing, they wanted some Skovlander cultural items. Asking around, they found that a ship was returning from Skovland with General Swiftly, a brutal Akorosian conqueror with a ship hold stuffed with rebel loot from the recently concluded war of Skovlander insurgence. And they needed some Coin on hand to fund the effort.

As an enthusiastic effort before beginning properly, Rowan made identity-blurring collars they could wear to reduce chance of identification during mischief.

The General’s Ship

Farros stole them a fishing boat, knifing a fisherman and dumping him overboard. Rowan and Coup rowed out, so Farros could save his strength. They missed the timing or angle, because as they approached the big ship steaming into the harbor, the harbor patrol was also closing in. The small boat was tossed in the big ship’s wake, but got close enough for Farros to use his climbing gear to get up to a porthole on the deck below the main deck, and enter as the longboat rode the wake swells further back out of the way.

They weren’t worried about General Swiftly’s whisper, Tellisaand; Rowan’s friend Stazia was the apothecary who supplied Telisaand with her trance powder, and she could arrange for an addictive and overpowering dose for the night in question. All Rowan had to do was escort Stazia to one of her Forgotten Gods worships, and get her home in one piece even though she was likely to be out of her head. He readily agreed.

They had acquired blueprints of the ship, and knew where the main hold security would be. As Farros headed that direction in his shadow cloak, Coup produced a firebomb he got for the mission. He hurled it up towards the deck, but that was too high; it did smash through the porthole and set some poor soul on fire, then catching on other flammables, causing quite a consternation aboard the ship.

Farros found the door to the ship’s central reinforced hold. As a guard left, he slipped in behind the guard. Their earlier inquiries with various bribeable dock workers and bluecoats revealed that the swords (the main treasure of the expedition) were not in the booby-trapped weapon racks and crates. They were wrapped in the middle of big bolts of fabric, making them difficult to find and even more difficult to steal.

Since the Horsemen knew this ahead of time, their leech, Rowan, made a big batch of spray designed to discorporate cloth and leave everything else unharmed. His speedy execution meant it would give off a huge rush of air and a mighty stink, but that was a small price to pay.

Only two guards were left in the central hold, so Farros acted quickly and sprayed down a pile of bolts of cloth. He retrieved two swords and a black walking stick, resisting the horrible fumes that downed the guards who rushed to intervene. In no time he was back through the ship, out the window, hanging by his climbing gear until the others could apply tremendous sacrificial muscle strength and energy to get the boat in position to pick him up. As the harbor patrol boarded the beleaguered ship, they drifted away, and escaped into the city with their loot.

Down Time

When they got home, there was magical writing on the wall with water, an address. Discomfited, they ignored it for the moment. Later Farros went out and found the address was for a long-abandoned orphanage in Seven Shallows, an unpleasant slum; he got the creeps, and returned, not investigating further.

They sold one of the swords for six Coin, keeping the other to frame the Skovlanders. Coup investigated the black stick, and had a dizzying sense it was drawing vitality from him. Coup did some further research, finding that it was the scepter for the Galamin Family of Skovlander aristocrats, whose successors insisted they consorted with demons. The stick was in the portrait of Scaliat IV.

Their various activities lowered stress, built supplies, and mitigated the heat clinging to their activities with the uncomfortable and disapproving scrutiny of the authorities.

Now that they had a beautiful ancestral sword suitable for framing Skovlanders, it was time for the next stage of their plan–frame the Skovlanders for robbing an aristocratic residence.

Coup was tickled with the idea of actually making a public monument, whether it was initially possible or not. He spent his entire take from the ship heist to buy a modest block of granite infused with leviathan blood, from some god-forsaken spot out far beyond the walls. It took time for Salia, the information broker, to help him find it. He was delighted when it was in hand. They could use the block as a smaller test statue for the big monument, and in the meantime, they could use it for wilier purposes.

Rowan was involved in recruiting four of Ulf’s Skovlanders for an evening of fetch-and-carry, moving the granite on a litter. He hired Sven, Barth, Alex, and Johan. He also had to arrange for excellent clothes for Coup and decent clothes for the servants, and Farros paid for the clothes out of sheer delight at their naughty plan.

They all worked together around a lone candle to craft the perfect invitation to provoke Kellis to respond to their philanthropic effort, and they achieved outstanding success; an appointment for the following week.

Statues of Rosalind Kellis

While Coup was walking in the front with his Skovlander bearers and dealing with the butler and soliciter and eventually Kellis herself, Rowan set up a block and tackle on the roof and lowered Farros in.

Coup pitched the idea of a statue infused with ghost energy. Kellis enthused over the plan, wanting it in a public place to keep the peasantry demoralized and overshadowed, the steed modeled after her own prize stallion Abraxis. While the solicitor worked on paperwork and Coup shared drinks with the haughty noblewoman, the Skovlanders were escorted out to a side gallery, out of the way.

Farros knew she would do this, as he consulted a maid that Kellis had a brutally carnal relationship with before tossing her aside once the maid grew stale. Bitter, the maid recounted that’s where the guests would be put. As Ferros and Rowan examined the blueprints, they realized there was a secret door to another gallery. If they robbed a few items from the adjacent gallery, and left the secret door open a crack, the theft would be blamed on the unsupervised Skovlanders!

As Farros crept through the shadowy house, he passed a painting that disgorged an invisible ghost dog that caught his scent. Moving fast and trying to outpace the ghost sentry, Farros climbed down into the gallery and stole two of the horse miniature statues, as well as cutting out two horse portraits. (Rows of portraits showed the lineage on both sides of Abraxis, showcased in a huge painting of a mighty stallion.) Now they had material to frame Ulf’s gang, and also some extra to liquidate into sweet Coin.

Coup’s conversation with Kellis was getting personal and potentially steamy; he excused himself, only managing to do so gracefully by promising to meet next week for sherbet. As he was heading out with his sullen Skovlanders, Farros raced through the halls upstairs, the ghost dog closing in fast. He barely managed to dodge it and make it to the cable and extraction as the dog’s spectral baying resounded through the house. They all managed to get away clean.

Down Time

Coup was more committed to actually making a monument in a public place than ever before. He began the search for artists as the rest of the crew worked to reduce stress and heat.

Rowan had a terrible dream of an albino creature forcing him to speak out in favor of killing a demon. He finished his research on the scepter and discovered it was created by a demon with an affinity for stone, with the power to kill other demons. Like, for example, the water demon that contacted them as soon as they got the scepter.

As this was a one-shot session, we’ll never know what happens next. However, it was a great game!

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Guns of Telluria, Train Ride

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We had a brief outing with one player, who played Ferlin “Husk” Williams, an older veteran of the Tellurian War. Over the course of the war he got weirded so he could detect the presence of nearby arcana. He was promoted to sergeant in the cavalry, but after the Battle of New Orleans he fell in with a bad crowd and was part of a scheme to steal some arcana. Demoted and released, it was up to him to find his way in the world, with the assistance of his nephew Cuthbert Nevins. He heard of a field in Granada, MS that had a doorway to an abandoned fey outpost, so he signed on as a roof rider in the driving rain, and headed from New Orleans north.

They met the grouchy sergeant, Darmott, and headed up to the roof of the armory car. Husk assigned Nevins the gun; the teenager had not yet killed anyone or seen anyone die, and that needed fixing. Cpl. Nguyen was on roof patrol duty, and made sure they were settled in.

The trip was mostly uneventful. At one point a satyr mounted on an elk led a mass of deer and wolves on a wild ride at the train, trying to sweep aboard and make off with prisoners. Nevins trained his machine gun on the crowd and chopped a number of animals up, and Husk brought down the elk mount with the Redcapper gun. The satyr got on the roof and blew his horn at them, freaking Nevins out, but Husk finished him off with the big gun.

Cpl. Nguyen and her fire team provided backup once Nevins stopped shooting the machine gun down the length of the train roof. They found the satyr’s horn, and Husk was pleased to get it as booty (since the soldiers couldn’t claim a bounty, and he could.)

They arrived in Granada and got paid, and Husk shared some of the money with Nevins (but not his whole share.) Then it was a matter of waiting until morning, to sell the horn and find some other hopefuls interested in probing the farmer’s field for fey loot.

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Silent Legions: As Above, So Below. Session 3

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Previous session. After their disquieting meeting with Brick, they headed back to the Havershaum Estate in Shroud Ridge. Emilia had some important homework to get done, and had to get ready for school, so she split. The others considered what they had learned so far, and next moves.

Off to See the Wizard

They figured if they had a real wizard to help them out, they could sabotage Fr. Silva’s spell. They talked about it aloud until they got a telephone call from a girl who said her name was Bought, and she worked for “The Boss.” She offered them the name of a wizard, but cautioned this was involving another Power, and suggested it would be better for them if they not mention they work with Brick (who doesn’t get along with them.) They agreed, and she gave them Danielle Sawyenta, in the Slaysor House, a mansion Downtown.

Terry looked up the number and called the house, even though it was after ten. A man answered, Mr. Sneed (the web site said he was the owner and curator, and the mansion was also an occult museum.) When Terry asked for Danielle Sawyenta, Sneed was taken aback, wondering where he got that name. Terry said he got it from the Havershaums, and Sneed suggested he might get a call back.

While they waited, Truc looked up plans for the cathedral, to plan possible intrusion points, reading up on information from a funding campaign 15 years ago that was scanned online.

Half an hour passed before Terry got a call from Danielle, who invited them to come to the mansion, around back. They piled into the SUV and headed Downtown. Upon arriving, they drove past the wrought iron with its sigils worked in, and between the massive stone posts with gargoyles perched on them, around the road inside down to the back, where Sneed waited for them with a lantern. He escorted them in through a back door in the foundation.

The Slaysor House

In the lounge with confusing light and strange fashions, they met Danielle. She was very friendly, as was Sneed. They enjoyed some light refreshments and Terry’s storytelling, where he shared a version of the story where he ran across these things through police contacts and Havershaum contacts, no Powers mentioned.

She wanted to look at the spell, and Truc was concerned because he saw that she was not human, she was playing a bigger game, risking autonomous action when her loyalty was in a bigger group… She found his caution late and misplaced, as they were in a room that only sometimes had exits. They chatted a bit more before Terry gave her the paper and she breathed deep its smell.

She told them she could make a spoiler, to break the spell so the summoned ghost could attack its summoner then leave the plane. It would take eight hours. They agreed to return in the morning. They returned to the Havershaum Estate for the night. Everyone but Truc went to bed, and he planned a break in based on the information on the cathedral he got online.

That night Truc had terrible dreams about blood and gears and wire and pain, and woke several times with a nosebleed. It was psychic runoff from looking too deeply at Danielle.

Loading Up

Jason got his morning run in, regardless of the humidity and mist. Truc and Terry pulled themselves together enough to make it to the Slaysor House more or less on time. Sneed greeted them brightly, giving them a scrimshawed half-sternum to put on the altar, a page with a sigil to change and a mark of how to change it, and a box of potions. He told them the potions would help protect them from supernatural influence, and also increase their senses, but they should not remove the potions from the box until they were going to drink them; they had to be kept fresh.

Taking a special shine to Truc, Sneed gave him a pebble on a string, so he could play “hot and cold” to find the corrupt altar.

Leaving the Slaysor House, they consulted Truc for his plan. Terry would rent a car and arrive separately, to keep an eye on Fr. Silva and alert them if things were going sideways, via text. Truc and Jason would infiltrate through the coal cellar, which was boarded up. They would find the altar and sabotage it, then escape.

Terry arrived first, finding a couple busloads of high school kids who would perform for the noon service. He saw Fr. Silva coordinating and smiling, and took a seat to keep an eye out. Then Truc and Jason arrived. They went around the side of the cathedral, only to find that the coal cellar entry had been covered by a community garden!

Plan B involved going in through the access in the parsonage basement. They entered the unlocked parsonage, and locked the doors behind themselves, wedging them with pennies and chair backs. Down in the basement, they found the shelves that normally hid the door were moved, the door open, and the lights on. They cautiously proceeded.

Under the Cathedral

At the end of the tunnel was an intersection room, with a couple guards listening to police band and playing cards. Truc and Jason leaped out and stunned them with stun guns, tying them with their belts and dragging them into the tunnel out of sight, taking their pistols and knives. The guards had Marine tattoos.

Following the less-cold direction of the pebble (which turned icy cold under the cathedral) the found a room with a canal and boats, and took a boat for a stretch, getting off on a landing by barrels. They found a sort of barracks area, and behind that, a sort of temple room. Jason snuck in, over the many symbols and lines painted on the floor (at that point Fr. Silva looked startled, and headed out fast, so Terry texted them to hurry up and moved to follow.)

Jason interrupted a man who was kneeling shirtless before the dark altar, praying and flagellating himself. The man detected him, and rose up ready to fight, only to get the stun gun to the ribs. Jason did notice the man had an impressive angel tattoo across the whole front of his torso.

Jason and Truc quickly sabotaged the altar with the bone and an alteration of one sigil, then retreated fast.

As they got to the landing where they first boarded a boat, they heard Fr. Silva berating the groggy and hurting guards they stunned. The guards came down to deal with the boats, and Silva stormed off to make sure the intruders wouldn’t get far.  As the guards were hauling the boat out of the water, Truc and Jason stunned them AGAIN and raced past them, up into the cathedral, where they strolled past a guard dressed as a priest who couldn’t do much as there were witnesses. The soggy men in suits strolled out with the high school choir, getting into the SUV and roaring off, Terry not far behind in his rental.

Now it was up to the sabotage–hoping the expertise was good enough, the placement was right, and Fr. Silva didn’t notice what they did or figure out why they came. No problem! Waiting for sundown is easy…

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Test Fire

The Tech Mark company hired three spacers to handle a little job for them.

  • Whiteout. Cyborg bounty hunter and scholar. (Jonathan)
  • Karnak. Armored regenerating mutant with blue skin and melee weapons. (Simon)
  • Vance Cross. Vampiric mutant gunslinger. (Vandel)

Heading Out

Director Phillip Chalmer told them they were to go to Argus 9 to find the Deva, a Tallymarker freighter captained by Jack Wentzler, with first mate Solomon Keller and mine expert Laura Smithson. They were to retrieve any survivors, find out what went wrong there, and if possible bring back the cargo module or the whole ship.

Karnak was a little distressing on the week long trip out, as he was incessantly moving and refused to take off his heavy armor, and he muttered to the voices in his head that were bloody gods of some kind.

Upon the approach, they got the transponder signal from the Deva, but no distress signal and no response to their hailing calls. A huge sandstorm was scouring the surface, and the Deva was parked in a crevasse. Whiteout modulated the shields to reduce wind interference, and Cross set the ship down neatly 30 meters from the Deva.

Shelled Monstrosities

Karnak trotted off the ship as soon as they landed. The toxicity in the air negated his regeneration, but he could function fine. As the other two scanned the atmosphere, donned light armor, and installed rebreathers, Karnak strode towards the Deva, then veered off course when a boulder cracked apart to reveal a camouflaged monster.

Cross hastily manned the ship’s nose gun from the cockpit as Whiteout rushed out to help. Between a blast from the ship gun and Karnak’s sword, the big monster went down fast. They redirected their attention to the Deva as Cross recalibrated the life scanner to look for the concealed crab things; he revealed dozens of them! One was near Whiteout, about to jump him. He rushed towards Karnak, who slew four or five of them in a hurricane of roaring violence. Cross used the nose gun to fry a few more, and the survivors took defensive positions away from the spacers.

Karnak was headed for the Deva again, as was Whiteout, when Whiteout noticed pustules on the slain rock creatures. Examining one, he found a chunk of green rock that faded to black when removed. He headed back to the ship to get a limb kit, used to store severed body parts until they could be microsutured back on, to get the rocks in isolation so they didn’t lose the green and fade to black when removed from the corpse.

Inspired by this discovery, Karnak stomped over to the huge critter he killed first, and tore a volley-ball sized chunk of the green stone out of it. It replaced the voices of the mad gods in his head and energized his blood, and whispered to him that a false champion was below and he must slay it to take its place. He stamped over to the mining shaft alone, the rock tucked under his arm.

The Deva

Whiteout climbed up the ruptured hull around the landing gear, thinking the crab things forced their way in. He saw a bloody human handprint, and as he got into the ship he realized based on the clues left behind that a humanoid climbed up in here, shrugged off blaster fire, tore someone apart, and chased someone else into the panic room, also ripping out part of the console so the ship couldn’t issue a distress beacon or call for help or respond to calls. Then the gangplank was left open, but the crab things didn’t come aboard.

Concerned about Karnak’s lone quest, the other two tried to fix the ship, with Whiteout under the console finding it was tragically shorted out and probably unfixable. So, Whiteout would have to fly the Persephone (the same kind of freighter, the ship they arrived in) and connect to the cargo module and at least fly that home.

While Whiteout busied himself with that, Cross grimly followed Karnak, wondering what he would find as he pursued the obsessed and insane warrior underground.

The Champion

Karnak found a mass of black stone, boiling from the earth and frozen in position, sliding down into a green bioluminescent lake where a woman sat in the foul waters. She rose to the presence of a challenger, spines as weapons sliding out of her forearms and into her grip. They slashed at each other, and Karnak slew her, then his stone demanded he crush her bones with it. He did so. The stone wanted to replace his weak heart of meat with itself, and it bled off some size and mass with liquid mutagen into his gauntlets, pleased with his sacrifice. Karnak managed to tear open his own chest, rip out his heart, and stuff the stone in its place. He survived.

At that moment the sandstorm abruptly stopped, as though a door had closed.

Meanwhile Whiteout had gotten to the Persephone’s controls and tried to maneuver it into position, but he bent the docking pylons, and would not be able to haul the module out. He saw Karnak’s self-surgery on the tactical helmet cam and relayed events to Cross, who was climbing down the elevator shaft. Cross reversed direction, climbing back out; clearly Karnak needed no help, and they might want to escape him.

However, Karnak caught up, and bragged that he slew a false champion and became one himself, and did not immediately act towards them. They worked to fix the bent pylons as seismic activity stepped up. They succeeded heroically and pulled out with the module, and the triggering event of the takeoff provoked the shudder that closed the ground as though the crevasse had never been.

They flew home and got 800 credits and leveled up.

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Star Wars: Divide and Conquer

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Three rebel agents were sent on a difficult mission to damage the Republic’s grip on the Vydannis sector.

  • Nyla Anjek. A Miralukan jedi.
  • Gojang Bobo. A Gungan jedi.
  • Sledge Brightmouth. A Nosaurian pilot.

The jedi refugees were still padawan 15 years ago, but now it was time for them to use their training in a new context.

Captain Saylindi, a Gran, briefed them on their mission. They were to smuggle a disassembled R5-D5 unit aboard the Surabi station and put it in the supplies for the Tyndar Syndicate Republic Fleet that was coming to resupply. Then they were to somehow infiltrate the slave pen. When the ships arrived and loaded the slaves and equipment, they were to break out and find the R5-D5 unit, reassemble it, and connect it to a central trunk data line. The super-virus Nightmare would be uploaded to the brain of the droid army, knocking the ship out of commission.

In the confusion, they were to get aboard a second command ship that was known to have a weakness in its reconditioned navigation system. Spiking the system would mean the ship would jump randomly next time it entered hyperspace, instead of going on a safe path to its destination (and probably destroying the ship.) Then Sledge was to steal them a gunship and they were to jump to one of three preset rendezvous points. It was a very dangerous and ambitious mission, and carrying it out was left to their discretion.

BACKGROUND: THE TYNDAR SYNDICATE REPUBLIC FLEET

A Mandalorian army was hired to crush the Six Core, a Trandoshan government. There were years of brutal fighting, but the Trandoshan government was crushed. Predictably, many crime syndicates rose out of the wreckage. One was the Tyndar Syndicate, and they specialized in salvage. They reconditioned three Mandalorian capital ships, along with fighters and gunships, from the many battlegrounds of clashes in space.

A droid army was purchased to crew each of the ships. The Saytrx Droid Army has a leader, an Entel, looking like a crystal and metal tree. This figure is installed somewhere with good access to data, and remotely runs the army.

Commanders are Centaurx, up to a dozen per Entel. They have six limbs, and are equipped with ranged and melee weapons, impressive in combat and excellent tacticians. Each one has up to a hundred Faunx troops, light droid frames with recurve legs and weapons that combine a blaster and a stun rod. Their faceplates are muzzle-like with glowing green eyes, and they tend to be painted green and another color. Each ship had nearly a thousand droids under a single Entel commander.

The Trandoshan leader, Ghelberris, their admiral, cut a deal with the Republic Admiral Dravis that the Tyndar Syndicate could manage their crime and slaving without Republic interference, in exchange for suppressing resistance and providing more muscle to local Republic military efforts. This corruption is exactly the sort of thing that makes the Resistance furious.

Surabi Station

They dropped off the parts with the dismantled sabotage droid in them, without incident. After watching for a while, they decided to try and use the Force to subvert the will of the guard looking after the entry to the external cargo block that the station was loading in anticipation of the Tyndar Syndicate Republic Fleet.

He shook off Nyla’s effort, and Gojang’s effort, but was halted by the offer of a bribe. He jacked up the price on them, then accepted, cuffing them and putting on collars and putting them in the big open slave pen.

They were welcomed by Jub Jub, an ogre-sized slave, who told them he was in charge. He knocked down Gojang to prove his point, and wandered off. Undaunted, they used the Force to jimmy loose the ratty cuffs from all three of them.

Gojang found another Gungan, Flap-Flap. He had hair implants in a mane, and though he was in poor health, he bragged he was an excellent space captain because he had captained ten ships! Gojang also found out from him that there was a famous slicer in the hold, and the slavers likely didn’t even know they had him–code name Ant Lion, a terrorist famous for activating self destructs on space stations and disabling alarms.

Aboard the Sooboo

The Trandoshan fleet arrived, and a mass of droids shepherded the slaves into the pen aboard the modular cruiser, then left them alone. Soon they were headed through sublight space, with everything getting squared away before a jump to lightspeed.

Gojang told Jub Jub that someone said he wasn’t strong enough to bend back some of the loose hull plating, and Gojang of course beat that person up, but wants to show everyone he was right. Jub Jub (who had been ruthlessly stunned and dragged over to the ship) puffed up and on the second try bent the plating back. As slaves realized they could get into the back corridors of the ship, and got busy escaping, Sledge cornered Ant Lion and they agreed to escape together (since Ant Lion needed a pilot.) Ant Lion’s cybernetic arm had some razor wire and slicing (computer intrusion) gear, so they got out through a walled-over service tunnel in style. Ant Lion balked at adding two more to their escape, but they insisted, so he went along with it.

They defeated the two droids guarding the store room, and revealed they were jedi. Ant Lion was going to run at that point, he didn’t need the kind of heat that would bring (even though he was already wanted.) They offered him Nightmare when they were done using it, and he told them he was the one who sold it to Captain Saylendi. He was a fan of the Resistance, and agreed to continue working with them.

They got R5-D5 together as droids were chasing and suppressing slaves, and got to a data trunk. By now two squads of 5 droids were closing in. The jedi sorted one out while blaster bolts flew both ways and the droid did its downloading work. Then the jedi chased down the other group, and chopped them up.

They escaped to the hangar, where the centaurx on guard was reeling with the beginning of the nightmares, and the faunx were edgy and off too. The rebels tricked them into a couple random shooting sprees, and then charged them when they were off balance and hacked them down. They got to a gunship, and Ant Lion negated the interference from the dreaming ship so Sledge could guide them out into space.

Some of the turbolasers were still functioning, and they were shot at as they streaked away. They took one hit that blew the shields. Then, just as they were jumping to hyperspace, they took another jolt–

Unsure of where they’d exit hyperspace, they held on for the next adventure.

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Silent Legions: As Above, So Below. Session 2

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Previous session. Stymied and suspicious about the arrival of the ancient spell at their doorstep, the investigators were rocked back on their heels for a moment, thinking about next moves. They decided to visit Drexel, one of Emilia’s weirdo friends. He specialized in how camera technology captures supernatural phenomenon. Emilia called him, finding him still awake and active, and got an invitation to visit.

Drexel

They got to his place, a massive building Downtown that used to be a dogfood factory that was rezoned and divided up to be apartments. He had the basement as his lair. He let them in through paranoid levels of security, to his tiki lounge oasis of sociability surrounded by the dim clutter of his audio visual equipment.

They waited, watching an episode of “I Dream of Genie” projected onto the treated glass of a fishtank, while he fiddled with the footage they brought him. Then he projected on a whitewashed wall the image that he put together from scraps that flickered across dozens of frames, unsettled; a smeary image of a man in a dark coat with a pale bald head, insubstantial and blurred.

He warned them that they were on the edge of something, and they assured him they were determined to proceed, so he locked his place down further and told them that they were looking at Brick, one of the Powers of the city. There were those with supernatural ability and an agenda, and they were called Powers. (Singleton was also a Power, as was Ghoulaxis.) When they pull in regular people in their spats, those people tend to get used up and destroyed like rodeo clowns at a demolition derby.Brick was a fantastic spy who could be invisible at will, and enlist the aid of animals, and he was a vampire. Sobered, they thanked him for his help, and they left.

The Day Jobs

They got back to the Havershaum estate, and everyone got some sleep but Truc, who stayed up late looking for weird news stories in Blakelee West that could provide context or clues. He read about a huge human trafficking operation that operated out of an old hardware store for years before the FBI busted it with no local help. He read about how a dogfighting operation was neglected three years ago, the dogs escaped, and formed the nucleus for dangerous people-eating dog packs that grew out of control. For charity, the city took the wealthy on safari with fully automatic weapons to get the dog population under control, in addition to putting out poison bait and other less severe but more typical measures. He eventually slept, his head swimming with what horrors might lurk in the silent neighborhoods of Blakelee West.

The next day, Jason went about his business including a charity luncheon on behalf of the family, mundane stuff. Emilia went to class, Truc worked out and managed guard duty, and Terry went to work for Singleton.

Singleton

Terry went to the head man’s office, and the receptionist asked him to wait; he actually got an appointment with Singleton with minimal waiting! They sat at one of the cozy chair in Singleton’s office, friendly like. Terry shared the brief, with its uneven detail and absence of any mention of the Powers. Singleton reviewed it with interest.

Then he talked to Terry about Brick, who he used to spy on Ghoulaxis for weeks (that’s how his intel was so solid. He had Brick watching the monster all the time.) He noted that Brick tried to bring him in on this, because Fr. Silva was trying to ascend to be one of the Powers of the city. Singleton has a soft spot for corrupt clergy and declined to help out, so it appears Brick went around him to one of his assets. Singleton explained Brick is so agitated because he thinks he has friends, and one of them is threatened, and necromatic magic (including murdered hounds twisted to only see and attack tainted blood) guard the massive cathedral. Singleton left it up to Terry and his investigators, whether they wanted to help Brick or not.

Dispatch

Truc took some time in the afternoon and visited an old friend Downtown. Her name was Dispatch. She was blind, but had a subscription service for criminals, she would give them heads-up with cell phones or ham radio if the law was looking their way, because she had a network of informants with the police. Truc asked her if she knew anything about these police deaths.

She did indeed. The first death was not Stanley, the beat cop. It was the victim’s mother, Isabel Sullivan. Nobody caught the connection because she went to a different morgue. And the cops are freaked out with the deaths in their ranks, it’s a dangerous time to get in their way or appear connected to these killings. Truc thanked the old woman with a foot rub and corn sanding, as per their agreement.

The Way Forward

Terry finished out his day’s work, but left early and got the stuff for a barbecue. Emilia was the first one back from school, and Truc noticed that they were onsite and joined them, with Jason trailing in after his business concluded. Terry made them kebabs and cocktails, and they had a strange summer feast on the golf-course trim lawn, under the flaring changing foliage that slowly drifted down a few leaves at a time all around them in the gathering darkness.

Terry opened with the admission that Truc was right (and that’s pretty much all Truc heard from there on.) So, Singleton had an idea of what was up, but wasn’t directly involved. They talked over some possible directions for the investigation. While the others were eating, Terry called over to the East Precinct of Downtown, where he still had some friends. He found out that the first cop to die, Stanley, didn’t have many friends or family and his effects were boxed up and waiting for pickup. Terry told her to hold them, and the investigators jumped in the SUV and headed over to the Downtown East precinct, where Terry went in to get the box.

They went to a nearby coffee shop and dumped out the box, rifling through the personal stuff, files, and his netbook. Apparently he was working on a terrible novel. He also had a thank you note from Isabel Sullivan for finding Addie Fowler, the only identified victim of the three. The netbook was signed into email, so they discovered an email from Debra Ayers with information on the case, including the names of Addie Fowler and Isabel Sullivan that would not be in the story. They saw that he had kids, and was estranged from their mothers.

Quoth the Raven, “Yo”

A white raven tapped on the glass with its beak. They knew it worked for Brick, so they settled up the tab, boxed up the clues, got a snack for the raven, and headed out. The raven led them down an alley with a big dark spot in the middle. There, they were finally accosted by Brick.

He explained they were out of time. The ritual could be cast every three days, and tomorrow would be the third day. He didn’t want his friend to die. His friend was in danger because she helped the police find the sacrificial victim, and the commissioner had a silver whistle he could use to contact her, and now Fr. Silva had it and would use it to send a ghost to kill her. Brick wasn’t sure she could fight off a super-charged focused assassin ghost, so he wanted them to help prevent the ritual from being cast.

He wanted the altar destroyed; maybe in the attic or basement, there would be a necromatic altar. Or, the silver whistle taken from Fr. Silva. Or, drag the priest out of his protected fortress so Brick could kill him (with some graphic suggestions of how that might go.) Or, they could kill him themselves. When all this was over, one way or another, Brick was determined to kill the priest before he could become a Power in the city.

Brick tossed them a file that the hero cop Bowman had compiled on the situation, before his untimely demise. Fr. Silva was working with a trigger man named Markos Drake, and they are connected to a Mexican cult. He also told them he bugged the cabana (but not the bathroom) so if they needed him, he’d know, as he would be monitoring the audio feed. Then he left. The light flickered back on.

They didn’t feel entirely illuminated.

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