Saturday, 10 September 2016

Other Dust solo - Part VI : The Good Life


Scene 13

Chaos:
Out of Control (d8)

Setup: get Tansy home
2=Altered

NPC List: Tansy, Shelley, scavengers

Threads: the Quest, escape Eastbourne, see Tansy Home

"So," says Ewa as they are walking at a leisurely pace up an overgrown dual carriageway [the A22], littered with the stripped remains of burnt-out vehicles, "now that you're reunited -- and we're certain no one's still following us -- what are you planning on doing?"

"Gotta finish what we started," says Tansy. "We didn't set out into the wastes to go rambling, y'know."

"What were you doing, then?"

[the Alteration: she isn't going home until she completes her own mission.
Adventure Template: Privation - The water supply has become contaminated. Tech must be found to purify it.]

"Something's wrong with our water supply. I went out looking for something to purify it again. I thought maybe the coastal areas would be a good place to find water reclamation gear."

"Not bloody likely! If it's around, it'll either be in use or too big to move."

"Oh..."

"What's the source of the contamination? Where are you getting your water?"

[Q: Does she know? 50/50: O3 C3 - No, but...
+Event: Close a thread - see Tansy Home - Deceive/Environment]

"I don't know. It comes from a well. Gilbert can tell you more."

"How far is it."

"A couple hours on foot."

"I could use more food before I move on, afterwards."

"It's a farm."

"Let's go then."

[I rolled a random enclave, and it all made sense the first time so no re-rolling was necessary. Since Ewa doesn't know about it, it had to be small and/or recently founded. Briefly--
Size: ~50 adults
Government: caste
Core: farm estate
Tech: TL1
Tags: podborn, educated

I made a Reaction Roll to see how the community receives Ewa, at +2 since she's coming with Tansy: 2+2=4, hostile]


Tansy's enclave is a very small farm on the grounds of a former manor house, which looks to have been ancient (if well-maintained) even before the bombs fell. The fields do not look healthy, even to Ewa's inexpert eye. Many are just dirt, and those that harbour plants seem to be mostly fellweed. The farm appears to have no livestock, and the farmers are forced to pull the ploughs themselves. Ewa looks at Tansy quizzically.

"I know what you're thinking," says Tansy, "but I refuse to yoke Shelley. He's a good guard dog, but no work horse!"

The farmers are all clad in identical, pastel green jumpsuits and matching slippers. Each is emblazoned with some Old Terran symbols, or maybe writing; Ewa can't tell the difference. One of the farmers stops ploughing when he sees them, and walks up to Tansy.

"Why have you brought this... mutant?"

"She helped me save Shelley. And she said she would help with the water."

"It's bad enough you keep that weird cow thing here."

"I've told you a million times, not all mutants are bad. You got the wrong first impression, is all. My old village was full of mutants, and--"

"And nothing. She can't stay. Get her gone before the Masters find out what you've done."

"Ewa, maybe you'd better go. Wait back by the road. I'll get you some food for your trouble. Sorry."

Ewa goes back to the road and sits in the shade of a tree, wondering if Tansy is actually coming back. She watches through her binoculars, and sees her soon come back out of the great old house and set off across the fields, Shelley following behind like a puppy. Ewa doesn't want to come too far out of the tree line in case it's some sort of trap, even though she's mostly certain Tansy can be trusted.

"Sorry," says Tansy when she has found Ewa in the shade, "when they came out of their pods it was kind of hard for them to adjust."

"So that's why they're all dressed the same!"

"Yeah. They're not so bad, really. Just terribly naïve.  Here, I've brought you some food." [d6=4 rations]

"If I happen across any purification equipment I'll send a message or something."

"Yeah, OK. Sorry. Bye, I guess."

"Bye."

[NB: the water isn't any more contaminated than the rest of the farm, which is tainted with low-level radioactivity (Deceive/Environment)]


Scene 14

Chaos:
Out of Control (d8)

Setup: into the wastes

NPC List: -

Threads: the Quest

Ewa sets out into the wastes. She doesn't have a definite plan other than 'get to the coast', and she's never been out this way before. She decides to travel northeast until she reaches the water.

[This is my first go at the Scarlet Heroes wilderness adventure solo tables. I've played through a dungeon and two urban SH adventures before, but neither of those has been written up to post (yet).

I have a very rough map, made by importing a screenshot from Google Maps into Hexographer and overlaying a blank hex map, which after a little jiggery-pokery I sized to fit the scale (6mi/10km hexes -- the hex height was set to 113). I exported the map as a PNG, and cropped it in Paint (which I am also using to annotate it). I may go back and make a nice map, I may not. I'm much more interested in the coast than the interior, but Ewa needs to get there first.


I'm using the SH wilderness tables mostly as written, though some of the Feature results will need to be altered to fit the setting, and I'll obviously be using the Other Dust encounter tables.

Per Scarlet heroes, a character can explore one hex per day. There is a 1-in-6 chance per day of an encounter, which may be either during the day or at night (even chances). There is also a chance for a Feature and an Event. These each start at 1-in-8, and increase by 1 for each day until the roll is made.

House Rule: Even when my PC is moving through previously explored areas, I still make the encounter & event checks once per day. And if they care to search more, there might even be a second feature -- 6 mile hexes are pretty spacious.

Also, she needs to make 2 skill checks each day. First, she needs an Intelligence/Navigation roll of 8+ in order to move in the right direction; failure indicates a 1d6 roll to determine the direction she travels (which may coincidentally be the right way). Each night she must make a Wisdom/Survival roll of 5+ to find suitable shelter (it's summer, but she doesn't have a  tent or even a proper bedroll). Failure will give her the negative condition Fatigued (-2 to hit, -1 saves & skills) for the next day. I won't be mentioning these rolls unless she fails them.

Part of the fun of post-apocalyptic gaming is watching your stores of food, ammo, and medicine slowly dwindle and wondering just how desperate things will get before you find more. However, I kept track of all this on scratch paper as it's much easier than doing it in my game notes .txt file.]


Day 1

[travel to hex 1]

The journey proceeds more slowly than she would have expected. She doesn't want to rush, as travelling the wastelands alone is usually considered a suicidal move. She must be ever alert for danger, and she doesn't want to miss anything interesting besides. If she's to unite this ancient land, she ought to at least have an inkling of what's in it.

She passes through weed-choked fields and hillsides, the occasional overgrown patch of forest, and crosses the crumbling, ancient roads of Old Terra. Small clusters of ruined buildings and destroyed vehicles dot the landscape, but none appear to offer any promise of good salvage.

That afternoon, as Ewa is refilling one of her canteens in a stream, she feels her skin tingle in that way it always does when enemies (or anyone, really) are near. She drops the canteen on the bank and snatches up her new combat rifle as a pair of twisted skewmen burst out of the long grass towards her.

[encounter: 2d4=2 savage Skewmen seek prey (AC 8, Move 15’, HD 1, Atk: +1/1d4 club, Skill +1, Save 15+, Morale 8)

No surprise, Ewa wins initiative.]

Ewa turns quickly round and fires a single shot from her combat rifle at the advancing mutants, but hits neither. And then they are suddenly upon her, striking out with rude clubs. One gives her a nasty knock across the shin [1 damage], the other hits her so weakly in the stomach she barely feels it [0 damage].

[round 2]
The skewmen's unfortunate physiology makes them low to the ground. Ewa fires another shot carefully, hitting one right between the shoulders. The other hesitates a moment to see its companion felled, but shouts a vile curse then feints toward Ewa [Morale roll, 2d6=6, it fights on. But it missed.]

[round 3]
The skewman is scuttling from side to side in a furious war dance. Ewa fires again, but the bullet just buries itself in the soil where moments before the creature had been. But it dares not get too close. [miss/miss]

[round 4]
When it thinks she is just about to fire, it dodges left then springs. But Ewa was waiting for such a manoeuvre, and she shoots it down in mid-leap.

The rest of her day passes without incident.

[The rolls for Feature and Event both came up naught, so the threshold of each increases to 2-in-8 for the next day.]


Day 2

[Ewa's Navigation roll failed; she moves [1d6=6] towards the northwest, to hex 2.

No encounters, no feature, no event. The thresholds go up to 3-in-8.]

Day 3

Navigation check fails again; she moves back to Start hex. But as she's coming from a different direction, she doesn't realise how near she is to Tansy's farming enclave.

Ewa has spent a day and a half unwittingly travelling in a circle. She has barely seen another living being beyond the occasional flying creature in the distance, and the omnipresent insect vermin that devour -- or are devoured by -- the local flora.

As the evening sun is lighting up the sky in a dazzling array of colours, beyond even the wildest palettes of an expressionist painter as its vespertine rays pass through the clouds of radioactive dust which blanket the globe.

[1d8=2, this hex contains a(nother) Feature!
Feature=dungeon type (thus, a Ruin)

Random ruin generation tables produce--
Origin: mandate base
Destruction: raiders
Inhabitants: exiles from nearby enclave

Tags--
Exiles (enclave tag)
Cryo pods (ruin tag)

The dice made it really obvious what she's found.

Q: Is there activity outside? 50/50 (4+): O3 C3 - No, but... signs of recent activity
+Event: Introduce a new NPC - Betray / Dispute]


As Ewa sees her shadow stretching out before her over the hillside, she spots a glint of metal coming from the grass on the next hill over. She looks through her binoculars to see the entrance to an ancient installation peeking out of the summit. The trans-steel windows look out of a darkened interior, but there is a still-smoking fire pit on the ground before it.

Ewa makes her way up to it, as cautiously as she can on the grassy, but otherwise featureless hillside.

[Her Wisdom/Stealth (+0) vs. their Wisdom/Perception (modifier of 1d3-2= +0): 11 vs. 12, she's spotted.

Reaction=11]

Though she can see no one in the dark interior of the installation's entrance, a voice calls out to her. "Hey! Hey there! You're one of us!"

"Hello?" calls Ewa. "One of you? What do you mean?"

"A mutant."

"Well, obviously. You seem surprised."

"I'm coming out now. Please, don't shoot."

Ewa shoulders her rifle as the mutant comes out of the installation. [1d6=] He has greyish skin, and seems to be more fungus than human, like a walking, bespectacled mushroom. He is wearing tattered green coveralls and no shoes, and carries no weapon.

[Easy (5+) Intelligence/Perception check: 2d6+0=7]

Ewa recognises the colour and patterns of the coveralls. "Are you from the farm?" she asks. "I thought they didn't like mutants."

"They don't. We... we woke up like this, and they refused to take us with them to the manor. We've tried to eke out a living here, but we have few weapons and there is a band of outlaws who seem to take especial delight in tormenting us. We can usually make it inside and lock them out, but they've learnt how to get past the front door now. It's only a matter of time before they can get the emergency stairwell open. I wish we could be at the manor with the others."

"They're not doing so well. Their water is contaminated and they don't know what to do about it."

"Serves them right, turning us out like that. I'm sure Doctor Cartman could determine the cause of the problem."

"At least you have a medic," says Ewa.

"A medic? Ha ha! No, you misunderstand. Jeanette -- Doctor Cartman, has a Ph.D. in microbiology. She used to lecture at Imperial... this doesn't mean anything to you, does it?"

"Sorry."

[Q: what do they want? Adjourn / Legal matters]

"What we need to know," says the mutant, "is where we can appeal for justice. We have as much right to the manor as do they, and we'd like to bring the case before a judge for settlement. Amaya's a solicitor, so she can represent us. Where is the nearest Crown Court?"

"You're kidding," says Ewa. "Oh... you're not? Look, all that's the past. Every enclave makes its own laws. Even the raiders, I hear, have some sort of laws. Or at least inviolate customs, else they couldn't function together."

"Oh. Oh, dear me. This isn't good. This isn't good at all. We're on our own, then?"

"That's the way of things."

"I don't suppose you'd stay on to help us understand this... this brave new world?"

"I can't. I'm trying to get east, to the coast."

[SH Friendly NPC reaction: 2d6=8, Quick consent]

"I see. But the night is coming. At least stay here tonight, and tell us of this world."

[Mental save to overcome Paranoia succeeds]

"I'll try. But it'll cost you a meal."

"A meal... I-- oh, of course! That's the first lesson, isn't it?"

"You catch on quick. I think you'll be ok after all."

The fungus man, Professor Thaddeus Oberlinde-Sharma, leads Ewa into the ruined installation to meet the rest of the podborn mutant community. Ewa really intends to leave in the morning, but she is so moved by the pitiful and helpless state of the mutants that she ends up staying a fortnight, helping them shore up their defences and learn to hunt and forage better, and telling them of all the myriad horrors and dangers of the new world.

[Q: Does anything untoward during her stay? Unlikely (5+): O4 C2 - No, and... the exiles are eager to listen and learn.]

She also confides in them about her Sacred Quest. Though fully half of the mutants were members of the Old Terran intelligentsia, none of them can find it in their hearts to tell her she must be chasing after a half-remembered story or myth.

One of them does take pity on her, and teaches her the rudiments of writing the alphabet, and even gives her a child's phonics book with which to practice [to justify spending skill points on Literacy when she reaches 2nd level].

[Q: Any events during her stay? Certain (2+): O2 C7 - Yes - 1 event:
PC negative - Ambush / Weapons]

One day. When Ewa and Prof Thaddeus are out hunting, they are ambushed by raiders. The four raiders are mad and desperate, and fight to the death. The professor is visibly shaken for hours after the event, but Ewa is all smiles, and especially pleased that she can present their swords, spears, and breechloading rifle (with 13 bullets!) to the community for its defence.

[Boring combat redacted. Over 6 rounds, the raiders hit Ewa once for 1 point of damage. Thaddeus wasn't injured at all.

I also rolled 14d6 to check for random encounters at the enclave. Weirdly, I only rolled a single 1.

Encounter: 1d8=2 tribals from nearest enclave
Q: Is it Tansy and Shelley? 50/50 (4+): O6 C8 - Yes]

On the tenth day, Tansy and Shelley arrive at the installation. They've left the manor for good, as the Masters had begun to get vicious. The mutants are more than happy to have the pair live with them, and Ewa is glad that someone born into this world is going to be there to see the community through; she had feared her conscience wouldn't allow her to leave for months.

Four days later, Ewa says it's time for her to depart. She, the mutants, Tansy, and, in his own, strange way Shelley, say their fond farewells. Ewa is given a bundle of food and some blankets before she goes, and told she will always be welcome back.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Other Dust solo - Part V : the people one meets in ruins


Scene 11

Chaos: Out of Control (d8)

Setup: into the wastes

Threads: escape

Ewa walks away and up through an overgrown field (once a golf course) following Kaz's route. But instead of turning left towards Eastbourne, she turns the opposite way. She follows an old motorway for a while [A259/Eastbourne road], then looks for a ruined house to camp out in overnight, as dusk is beginning to settle.

[1d6=no encounters
Q: Is anyone following? Doubtful (6): O6 C4 - Yes, but... someone new
Q: A single follower/pursuer? 50/50 (4+): O6 C1 - Yes, and... with no allies nearby
Q: Intelligent? 50/50 (4+): O4 C7 - Yes

1d10=3, human
class 1d4=slayer (as a Wanderer in the bestiary, 1d4+2= 3rd level; using average stats)

Dex/Stealth (+1dex, -1 no skill) vs. Wis/Perception (-1 no skill): 10vs5, Ewa does not detect them.

reaction=6, neutral

Q: What does her pursuer do next? Imitate / The physical just keeps following

Ewa's Wisdom/Survival 7+ (+1 skill) to find good place to "camp": 6+1, success.

Pursuer's current greatest desire (1d10, p184): Cure for a sick or crippled friend

Q: Does (1d6=)she attempt to make contact overtly when Ewa finds a house? 50/50 (4+): O2 C5 - No.]


Ewa finds a small house that looks reasonably intact, and makes her camp on the top floor. She is a little worried that there may be soldiers sent to hunt her down, but reasons that she'd probably wake up if anyone came in the house. She is soon sleeping soundly.

No one does try to enter the house, though Ewa has been being watched. Her unknown pursuer is more curious than bold. They slip a dry branch through the front door handle so it can't be opened without making noise, and find a place to sleep across the street.

[but! 1d6=1, night encounter: Patch of Radioactivity -- this area is still suffering from an ancient atomic generator leak or some such, and is bathed in low-level radiation. Saving throws are required, so Ewa heals 1d6=3, 1hp (from her Radioactive Vitality mutation. The stranger fails her save, and loses 1pt of CON (reduced to 10).

Q: Does she have any System Strain? 50/50 (4+): O4 C6 Yes - 1d10=6pts.]

The next morning, a groggy Ewa wakes up and quickly consumes some food. She wants to set out as early as possible, just in case there was someone sent to find her.

She finds front door stuck, and struggles to get it open. At last she puts her back into it, and it opens with a loud crack. At first she assumes it was just old and got stuck after being closed for the first time in decades (or longer), but then she notices that someone had barred it with a stick. [6+ Wis/Perception check: 8-1, success]

"What the hell?" thinks Ewa, as she ducks back into the house and raises her rifle.

[Q: Doe the stranger make contact now? Likely (3+): O6 C8 - Yes]

"Hey!" cries a young woman's voice from across street. "I want to talk to you!"

[To agree to this, Ewa will need to make a Mental save against her Paranoia defect; 1d20=14, success.
And does she see who's talking? Int/Stealth (+1 bonus for hiding spot) vs. Ewa's Wisdom/Perception (-1): 9 vs. 11.]

Ewa peeks round the doorframe, and can see a vague silhouette in the house across the street. "Come out, then," she shouts. "We'll talk!"

"How do I know I can trust you?"

"Because I see you up there and haven't aimed my rifle at you yet."

"Maybe you're just afraid I'll shoot first."

"Getting my attention before shooting makes for a pretty shite ambush, dont'cha think?"

"..."

"Well?"

"OK, I'm coming out."

Ewa shoulders her rifle and walks out into the street. The mystery woman emerges and meets her in the middle. She is young and bright-eyed, and clad in a colourful mix of Old Terran clothes. She also seems to have collected a fair bit of Old Terran technology.


"I'm Tansy. Sorry I had to be so roundabout getting to talk to you, but I needed to know you were out here on your own and not part of a bunch of raiders or summat. Or one of those crazies from the shore fort." [UNE: mysterious - conundrum - last action]

"So, Tansy, here we are. I'm Ewa. And I'd like to avoid those crazies from the Fortress as well. Now, what do you want?"

"I need help."

"And I need to get away from here."

"So do I. But I can't abandon my poor Shelley."

"She's hurt?"

"Shelley's a he. I named him after an old poet in a book I found. We were sheltering in a building not too far from here. There was a collapse, and I think his leg's broke. I couldn't pull him out to check."

"Um... what is Shelley?"

"He's a redhorn [mutant carnivorous bovine]. I know! but he's different than all the others. Maybe on account of I raised him from a calf, back when I was a kid and lived in a farming enclave. An' he's the sweetest, most docile thing to them as is friendly to him. And he's saved my life from the raiders who burnt down my home. No one else survived, so we just have each other these days. Well, we found a new farm what took us in, but... I can't leave him to die."

Ewa points. "He's somewhere in that direction?"

"Yeah. How... how did you know?"

"Because, m'dear, that's the opposite of the way I want to go..."

"So...?"

"I got a weird feeling that I sort of have to do this." [Ewa's Paranoia save to agree was a 19!]

"Really? You'll help me just like that? Why? I mean I'm grateful, but..."

"I can't explain it. Maybe the Vicar told me too many old myths. This just sounds like a test or something legendary, like Kahuna and the Cattle Raid of Ulster. So, lead on. But if we run into any scavengers from Eastbourne, they can't see me, ok?"

"Yeah, OK. How come?"


Scene 12

Chaos:
Out of Control (d8)

Setup: rescue the redhorn
1d8=1, altered

NPC List: Tansy, Shelley, scavengers

Threads: escape, rescue

[I wasn't immediately sure what the Alteration would be, so I put it to the Oracle--
Q: Are there scavengers around the building? 50/50 (4+): O5 C8 - Yes.
Q: Do they know there's a helpless food source in the ruins? Unlikely (5+): O6 C5 - Yes.
Q: How many scavengers? 1d4+2=5 +1 soldier
Q: Anyone Ewa likes? Unlikely (5+): O3 C4 - No, but... no one she hates, either
Q: How many scavengers are armed? 1d6-1=0 (they have knives and clubs, though)]

Tansy leads Ewa back towards Eastbourne proper. They turn a corner into a long, broken street filled with wrecked vehicles and less identifiable detritus, and tansy stops short. "Oh, no," she says.

Some [2d6x10=] fifty meters ahead, a small group of scavengers is picking through piles of twisted metal in the street. Ewa and tansy crouch behind some plasticrete rubble, and Ewa peers at the group through her binoculars.

She hands them to Tansy, who sees one of the scavengers talking to a soldier and pointing at a certain building. "Shelley!" she gasps.

Ewa takes aim at the soldier. "Get [1d6=] his attention, tell him he's dead if they don't all surrender right now. I've got him in my sights."

Tansy, her submachinegun in hand, strides out to do as she's bid.

"Stop!" she yells. "We have you surrounded. We mean you no harm, so please cooperate!"

Ewa winces.

[Scarlet heroes has great reaction tables for getting NPCs to agree to things. The soldier counts as an Unfriendly NPC.
2d6=3, Anger/Violence]

The soldier says nothing, but raises his combat rifle to fire...

[Initiative: E (+3 bonus) 7, T 4, soldier 5.
Ewa rolls 16+1+7, hit. 1d10+2=12, 4HD damage]

...but Ewa's shot drops him before his gun is quite level with the ground.

[The scavengers' Morale is 6. 2d6=3, they don't run, but don't fight either
Q: Does Tansy start firing? Unlikely (5+): O2 C5 - No.]

"No one move!" screams Tansy. "I don't want to hurt any of you. Just put your hands up and we can talk about this like reasonable people. Please!"

Ewa is hurriedly reloading her rifle. "Get the gun away from them," she says, "or it'll start all over again. I'll cover you."

Tansy edges forward. She snatches up the rifle and slings it over shoulder. "Someone look after him."

One of the scavengers scurries forward as Tansy retreats a few paces.

"He's dead!"

[(normal OSR)reaction roll=4]

The scavengers are getting tetchy, but none are willing to be the one to start the fight. Ewa moves up under cover, hoping to remain unseen [Dex/Stealth vs. Wis/Perception: 10 vs. 5, success]. She gets to within [1d6x5] 10m of Tansy's position, seemingly unnoticed.

"What do we do now?" asks Tansy, hazarding a look over her shoulder. "You still there?"

"I'm here. Tell them to get on the ground, face down."

"You heard her! What? She said to get down on the ground... face down. Do it!"

[SH reaction, Unfriendly NPC: 2d6=7, Considered refusal]

"Why should we?" says one of the scavengers. "So you can shoot us more easily? Face it, you might have a gun, but you're outnumbered. And the more you shoot, the more chance somone'll hear and come running."

"He's bluffing," says Ewa.

"We're wasting time!" shouts Tansy. Still no one moves.

"Tell him you'll start shooting if they don't cooperate," says Ewa.

"why don't you talk to them?"

"I told you why. Say it!"

"Fine," says Tansy, defeated. She takes a deep breath, then tries to sound as stern as she can. "We'll start shooting if you don't listen to me. I'm going to count three. One... two... th--"

[Q: What happens? (1d4) 1 scavengers attack, 2 T shoots, 3 both sides attack at once, 4 no one moves.
1d4=3

Only one of the scavengers beat Ewa and Tansy's initiative]

[Round 1]
One of the scavengers throws a knife at Tansy [10+1+AC6=miss] but it sails clear past her. She responds with a burst from her submachinegun, killing the scavenger. Ewa's rifle barks, and a second scavenger falls bleeding to the street.

[ML check due to losses: 2d6=8, fail]

The other three scavengers turn tail and run.

"Why does this always happen every time I leave the farm?" says Tansy, still in shock.

"We should hurry," says Ewa. They probably won't be back... but if they do, it'll be with reinforcements."

"I understand."


They rush into the building where Shelly is trapped beneath a collapsed girder. Tansy checks desperately to see if he is still alive.

[Q: Well? 50/50 (4+): O5 C1 - Yes, and...]

The huge, gaunt, mutated bull snorts and stamps when it hears strange footsteps coming up behind it. He tries to rise but his front hooves just struggle and slip on the slick floor. He looks back over his shoulder, and Ewa shudders when she sees the sharp horns and bared, awful fangs. But the animal's face softens immediately when it sees Tansy. She pats his head and whispers comforting words before turning back to Ewa.

"I think his leg might not actually be broken," she says hopefully, "but he still can't move."

"I've got to be able to rig something out of all this junk," muses Ewa.

[Ewa needs to roll 8+ on Strength/Postech to improvise a lever to shift the beams: 11+1=success]

Ewa finds some serviceable carbon-steel pipe and a pile of solid furniture enough to make a lever. She can only raise the fallen beam about half a metre, but it's enough for the redhorn to slip out, and stand shakily on all four feet.

Ewa offers a stim patch to Tansy. "Here. This should help with the pain. But you should probably be the one that applies it."

"You can do it," says Tansy. "He knows you helped him, so you've nothing to fear."  [1d20=14, Ewa rolls a successful Mental save vs. Paranoia]

"OK..." says Ewa. She fully expects a disaster when she slaps the patch on, but the redhorn's tail merely twitches a few times. Then the beast turns to face her with its big, soulful eyes and snorts quietly in what Ewa is sure is meant to be gratitude.

"See?" says Tansy, "He's a big softie."

[Shelley is now at 1d2+1(for the stim)=2HD.

Q: Does the captured combat rifle have a full magazine? Likely(3+): O1 C7 - No. d30-1=16 rounds (out of 30)
Q: Does anyone come back before they get away? Uncertain odds: 1d6=5, Unlikely: O5 C5 - Yes
+Event: PC positive - Attract / Exterior factors

Ewa's Perception 9-1=8 vs. their Stealth 2+1=3]

But the touching scene is cut suddenly short. "What's that noise outside?" says Ewa, picking up the combat rifle. "It sounds like voices."

She pads over to the entrance and peers to into the street, where a number of distorted, twisted, once-human savages crawl about on all four limbs, shouting amongst themselves in their horrible voices.
"Skewmen!" whispers Ewa. "Is there a way out the back of here?"

"I think so," says Tansy, hopefully.

[Q: Is there? Uncertain odds: d6=3, Likely: O5 C7 - Yes]


The three make their way out to the back of the building slowly. As they are about to leave, they hear gunfire round the other side.

"They went for reinforcements!" says Ewa.

"And they're fighting the skewmen instead of us!" says Tansy.

"Run!"

They break into a dead run down the back street, and the sounds of gunfire get further and further away. They turn up several side streets to put as much distance and rubble between them and the other parties as they can. By the time they can run no more, they have found a narrow, partly obstructed alley (just big enough for a redhorn to pass) in which to hide. Listen as they might, they can hear nothing above the blood rushing in their ears.

[Q: Do they get to safety? 50/50 (4+): O4 C2 - Yes, and...]

to be continued...

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Other Dust solo - Part IV : Betrayal


Scene 7

Chaos:
Out of Control (d8)

Setup: nighttime ambush

NPC List: Ling, Kaz, Norna, Fitz, Junemay, Assia, Marguerite, Oggie

Threads: mission, escape

[Setup--

The night is divided into three watches, each with 2 party members and 1 of Assia's crew: FE A, NK M, JL. The attack will come on 1d3 = the 1st watch.

I rolled mutations for Assia and Marguerite, but none of them were of the sort to affect the combat. What's important to know is:
Assia, 3HD, revolver
Marguerite, 2HD, revolver
Oggie, 1HD, bow, knife

otherwise all stats as Raiders (from the bestiary chapter). There are 2d4=4 additional Raiders lurking nearby. 4d6 made them all male; they are all clad in hide armour (AC6); weapons are sword, sword, axe, spear.

I gave Ewa's Danger Sense a chance to alert her to the approaching raiders. Wis/Perception -1 vs. Stealth +1: 9 vs. 7, success.

Before I get to the narrative, I feel compelled to mention my theory that Assia and her comrades must have been PCs from an alternate universe. NPC plans usually don't fail so spectacularly as this...]

That night, Ewa, Assia, and Fitz are sitting a short distance from the campfire on the beach outside the concrete rotunda, when Ewa looks sharply up at the street.

"I hear something," she says. "People up on the street level. I'm going to take a look." She starts to rise.

"Are you sure that's wise?" says Assia.

"I know what I'm doing."

She pads as quietly as she can across the sand and up the concrete steps. Whatever voices she though she heard have fallen silent by the time she reaches the street. The night is dark, but she can just barely make out a group of armed men [2d6x2=] about 14m ahead. She ducks back behind onto the steps to watch them. [Her Dexterity/Stealth +0 vs. their Wisdom/Perception +1 succeeds]

As soon as Ewa had left, Assia turned to Fitz. "I see how they treat you. Side with me and mine in this, and you will be rewarded. [She needed a 6+ on a Charisma/Persuasion roll to convince him to turn coat: rolling a 3+1...]

Fitz looks at the revolver Assia is pulling form her pocket, and starts shouting. "Ambush! Ambush!"

[Round 1]
Assia shoots Fitz without a moment's hesitation, but the bullet merely grazes his arm [1d8=1, 0HD damage].

Ewa fires on the raider with the spear. His head jerks back and he collapses to the pavement [1d10+2=10, 4HD damage]. The other three run at Ewa, but she is already backing down the stairs.

Fitz grabs a piece of firewood and hurls it at Assia. She throws up a hand to deflect it, but it hits her hard with a loud crack [19+1+7=hit; d4=4, 1HD damage leaves her with 2HD].

Roused by the noise, everyone in the rotunda is grabbing desperately for their weapons, some not even bothering to get out from their sleeping bags.

[Round 2]
Assia shoots Fitz in the back as he is diving for cover; he doesn't make it [2HD damage kills him].

Norna tries to fire on Assia, but the combat rifle misfires [1d20=2, weapon condition degrades to light damage (-1 to hit & damage)].

Junemay sits up in her bedroll and takes aim at Assia. As she fires, Oggie slashes at her back with his knife, but only tears the her shirt [1d4=1, no damage]. The burst hits Assia, who goes down instantly [9+2=4HD, killed]. Junemay wheels about just in time to see Kaz standing over her dead assailant with a smoking laser pistol [1HD damage, killed].

Ewa has dumped her rifle on the sand in favour of her crowbar. She swings at the first raider down the steps, but does not connect. He takes advantage of her over-swing and catches her in the shoulder with his axe, but the wound is more messy than deadly [1d8=3, 1hp damage drops her to 5hp]. The swordsman behind him slashes at Ewa as well, but comes up short.

Marguerite tries to shoot Junemay, but misses by a mile. Ling rolls over and blasts her with laser light [2HD damage] from her eyes. Marguerite falls back, dead, with two small smoking holes over her heart.

The second swordsman had been about to drive his blade into Ling's back. He wasn't dextrous enough to change its course when she rolled over, and the blade hit the concrete floor with a clang [1d20=1, the sword's condition degrades to Worn (no penalties)].

[Round 3]
The three raiders are spooked by the sudden reversal of fortune, and begin a fighting withdrawal [failed Morale]. Norna clears the jam in her gun, and squeezes off a burst at the swordsman over Ling, killing him on the spot [4HD damage]. Ewa caves in the skull of the other swordsman [2HD]. The axeman takes a last, futile swing at Ewa as he backs up the steps, but he's felled by a blast from Kaz's laser before he reaches the street [1HD].



Scene 8

Chaos:
Out of Control (d8)

Setup: aftermath

NPC List: Ling, Kaz, Norna, Junemay

Threads: mission, escape

[Ewa binds her wounds, after the combat. She can only recover the 1hp she lost just now, putting her back at 6hp.

I used UNE to determine how Junemay would react to events--
NPC Relationship: loved (= not mad at allies)
Conversation Mood: forthcoming (= will be ranting for a while)
scheming - plot - parents]

"Those traitorous bastards!" exclaims Junemay. "Those ill-begotten offspring of redhorns! Make all nice with us and try to kill us in our sleep! No better than skewmen this lot! That's the last time I...."

Junemay's rant shows no sign of soon abating, so the others merely get on with things that need to be done. The enemies' bodies are searched for useful loot, then dragged down the beach and thrown into the surf, in hopes that the tide take them. Fitz is wrapped in blankets and put next to poor Horsey.

Junemay's tirade eventually ends. She sets new watches, and sees that both combat rifles are in the hands of the watchers.

[1d6=1, night encounter -- 50/50 for coastal or necropolis: coastal chart; (1d6=)1 trader manning a small boat
reaction=8, Neutral
Q: Does the trader stop to investigate campfire? Unlikely (5+): O4 C5 - No.]

The rest of the night passes quietly. At one point a boat sails by. It slows slightly when the occupant(s) (presumably) notice the campfire, but it never comes within 300m of shore.


Morning comes. Breakfast is made more interesting by the addition of the enemies' rations. Everyone who wants some gets an extra helping, as Junemay thinks there might be too much to carry home. The important thing is to determine how to get the generator back. She was counting on the boats.

Ling suggests they build a litter to carry it. Norna says it were better to send a runner back to request transport. Junemay says it's too dangerous to send a lone runner, so they'd best go scavenge up some construction materials. Of course she'd side with Ling, thinks Norna.

[The scavengers need 3 successful Wisdom/Perception rolls of 8+ to find enough parts.
Kaz uses his Flawless skill class ability. He doesn't roll a 2, so succeeds. Ewa fails her roll, but Norna and Ling succeed.

There are no encounters for the scavenging party nor for Junemay guarding the generator]

The scavengers find plenty of useful junk in the morning. Ewa is then tasked with assembling it all whilst the rest take turns digging graves for Horsey and Fitz. Kaz assuages his lingering guilt by scratching Horsey's name into one of the raider's swords so her grave need not go unmarked.

[Ewa needs to make Intelligence/Postech roll of 8+: 11+1, success]

Ewa constructs a passable litter from rope, pipes, and an old folding table.


Scene 9

Chaos:
Out of Control (d8)

Setup: d8=3, Interrupt (was: journey back)
Interrupt: Ambiguous event - Disrupt / Tactics

NPC List: Ling, Kaz, Norna, Junemay

Threads: mission, escape

That night a terrible rainstorm hits. There is a sudden flurry of activity, as they had been keeping most of their firewood outside the rotunda near the fire. Everyone rushes to get it under cover, and Ewa manages to get a new fire kindled down the concrete walkway at a fair distance: enough that they still have some light but not so close that they get smoked out [she needed to make an Intelligence/Survival roll of 8+; 7+1(Int)+1(skill)=success].

The heavy rain continues for most of the following day, not letting up until late afternoon. Junemay decides that they might as well wait until the next morning to set off.

The day is uneventful, and mostly boring. At night [encounter, 2d4=3 whiskered devils] a trio of horrific mutant walruses lumber up on the beach in search of prey. Two are killed with weapons fire before they can reach the rotunda, and the third retreats back into the sea [uninteresting combat redacted].



Scene 10

Chaos:
Out of Control (d8)

Setup: journey back

NPC List: Ling, Kaz, Norna, Junemay

Threads: mission, escape

Junemay estimates the journey back will take two days if all goes to plan. [day 1, no encounters; day 2, no encounters] It does.

When they get in sight of Eastbourne's harbour, Junemay orders them to stop. She sends [1d4=] Kaz on alone (with Ling's map) to run back through the ruins to the Fortress to see about getting a boat.

When Kaz has gone, Ewa asks Junemay if they can talk privately [needs to roll Charisma/Persuasion 6+: 8-1, success]. Junemay sighs, but consents to the interview. They walk up the beach, well out of earshot of the others.

"I can't go back," says Ewa.

"What? Why not? What did you do?"

"Nothing. I just have things I gotta take care of out here."

"Like hell you do. You have to come home. The vicar's your guarantor. You don't show up, they'll kill him. It's the law; he's not exempt."

"He's the one that wants me to go. He's dying, anyway. And this is bigger than him, than me, than all of us maybe."

"Shit, Ev. What story's he filled your thick head with this time?"

"You wouldn't believe it if I told you. And it doesn't matter. I can't stay. Just let me leave. I did my part and waited until we got the generator back. Just let me walk away, disappear into the ruins."

"You start walking up that way, I'll shoot you in the back for deserting."

"Will you though?" [cha/persuasion 7+: 9-1=success]

"Damn you! Just go. It'll be easier not having to see your ugly face around."

"I'll miss you too... Kiss goodbye?"

"Don't make me reconsider the shooting thing."

Friday, 19 August 2016

Other Dust solo - Part III : The thing in the darkness


Scene 5

Chaos:
Out of Control (d8)

Setup: more recon

NPC List: Ling, Horsey, Kaz, Taf, Norna, Fitz, Junemay, Assia, Marguerite, Oggie

Threads: mission, escape

The next morning Junemay has gone to find Ewa sleeping up on the street level. She briefly considers kicking her to get her attention, but realises that might accidentally get her shot. She instead picks up a rock, and is about to throw it at her when Ewa wakes up in alarm.

"Dammit," says Junemay, dropping the rock, "I can't even have my petty revenge with you!"

"Sorry," yawns Ewa.

"So... you care to grace us with your presence this morning? Good. But check that rifle, soldier. You're not to fuck up today, so I don't want to hear 'it jammed' when I ask why you lost another scavver." [inquisitive - command - weapons]

After a joyless breakfast of dried fishcakes and gruel, Junemay leads her entire band up to the pier entrance. This time she's sending Ewa, Ling, and Horsey to explore. The rest will watch from the street. Assia, Marguerite, and Oggie elect to watch from the beach.

[Wisdom/Perception roll 9+ for Ling: 6+0=failure]

The pier still seems entirely still and deserted. The three women slowly make their way towards the boarded-up yellow building. Ewa holds her rifle at the ready, Ling has a revolver, Horsey a battle axe.


After a brief search of the building, they find the sole working door, lacking a handle and painted the same blue as the wood stopping the other entrances and windows. Horsey forces it open as Ewa and Ling wait with guns trained.

"Ohmygod that smell!" cries Horsey, swooning.

"What smell?" says Ewa.

"Shut up!" says Ling, antennae twitching.

"I'm not being funny," says Horsey. "but I need a minute or I'm going to be sick."

"It's dark inside," says Ling.

"I'm not going in there without a light!"

"We can prop the door open," says Ewa. "There's plenty of crap on the floor."

Ewa jams the door open with a piece of twisted metal, and the three take their first tentative steps into the building, moving only as quickly as their eyes adjust to the half-light. The stench of death and decay is overpowering. Horsey's eyes are watering and she can barely suppress a gag, Ling's antennae still quiver with revulsion, and even Ewa feels something wrong in the warm, humid air.

[Surprise check: party's Wisdom/Perception +0 vs. ???'s Dexterity/Stealth +1: 3+0 vs. 7+1, Horsey and Ling are surprised since Ewa cannot be.

Initiative Ewa 5, Assailant 7]

Ewa is suddenly overcome with dread. She wheels about to shout a warning just in time to see a hulking black form emerge from the darkness behind Horsey. It touches her shoulder with a long, black rod, and there is a flash of electricity and the smell of burnt flesh. Horsey convulses once and collapses to the floor. Ewa discharges her rifle at the mysterious assailant, but the shot goes wide.

[Round 2]
Stepping fully into the light, the attacker is revealed to be an ancient security robot, an imposing, dull black humanoid with a squat, neckless "head" and a retractable stun baton extending from its right wrist. The robot's voder/speaker unit is visibly cracked, and the baton is sparking with blue electricity.

[Security bot (AC 4, Move 20, HD 3, Atk +4/1d8*, Skill +1, Save 13+, ML 12) *the bot's stun baton is faulty and inflicts lethal damage]

The robot lunges at Ewa with the baton. She dodges backwards, and the baton just barely brushes her coat, seriously jolting her with electrical current and making her arm feel numb [it hit her for (1d8=7) 2 damage, leaving her with 6hp]. Ewa casts aside her rifle and takes the crowbar from her belt as she backs swiftly away from the robot.

Ling releases a blast of laser energy from her eyes. It burns two neat holes in the robots carbon-fibre. Sparks fly from within, but the robot continues its relentless assault [2HD damage reduced it to 1HD].

[Round 3]
The robot lunges towards Ewa, but manages to catch its baton in a rusted lighting fixture dangling from the ceiling, producing another shower of sparks [it rolled a natural 2, so the weapon's condition downgrades (-1 to hit/damage).]

Ewa hits it over the head with her crowbar, but it just rebounds off the resilient surface [miss].

Ling puts another laser blast in its back as it tries to extricate itself from the hanging wires. There is an audible pop from within, and it ceases to struggle, crashing to the floor moments later [2 more HD damage destroys it].

"If that thing had power..." says Ling, and flips on the light switch beside the door. But she almost immediately wishes she hadn't. The one intact lighting fixture in the ceiling flickers thrice and then comes on, revealing a scene of unspeakable horror. There is a now-doorless security office at one end of the front room, and within the office a holding cell. The cell is full of mouldering bones and oozing corpses, piled so high they have filled the cell and are spilling out into the office itself. Taf's lifeless body lies sprawled atop the pile.

Ling rushes out the door to be sick. Ewa follows, dragging poor Horsey's corpse behind her. They both sit for a while, breathing in the sea air to steady themselves.

"Do we dare go back in there for Taf?" asks Ling.

"I don't think even I could," says Ewa. "Help me drag Horsey back to the street, at least."

"Ugh," buzzes Ling as she lifts Horsey's heavy, armour-clad arm. "She deserves better than this."

The two drag her back the same way they came in, as they aren't sure the decking will hold elsewhere. They briefly recount the sortie to Junemay, who thinks it over for a few seconds...

[Q: Does Junemay send them straight back in? 50/50: O6 C6 - Yes.
+Event: NPC action - Norna - Oppose / Jealousy]

"Well?" says Junemay. "I don't see a generator. Get back in there. bring [1d6=] Fitz to make up your number. Move!"

"Wait a minute," says Norna, "How come [1d3=] Ewa always gets to go in? I want a shot at the take too, y'know."

"She goes in cuz I say she goes in," says Junemay. "No one gets to keep nothing until we get back home and have earned a reward. Right, in you three go. Norna, you go wrap Horsey in something to keep the flies off."

[Q: Does Norna let it drop? Likely (3+): O2 C7 - No.
Q: How does it end? Carelessness / Rumour]

"Why you always play favourites, Junie? It ain't right. At least let me go instead of Fitz. I wouldn't let that one out of my sight if I was you, seeing how he's always saying someone ought to see you don't make it back from a run one of these days."

"What?!"

"Just saying what I hear. He ain't the only one what feels that way neither."

"Is that a threat?"

"Just saying what I hear."

"Explain yourself Fitz. Is this true? Did you say that?"

"Hey, uh, well," begins Fitz, "that's just... you know how things get taken out of context." [prejudiced - view - knowledge]

"That's a shite denial," says Junemay.

"Look, we get a batch of strong wine brewed, and we all start saying things we don't mean. Us scavvers hate you guards with your nice barracks and your spiffy guns and shiny armour. Geez, I don't think that's a big secret or anything."

[Fitz needs to roll a Charisma/Persuasion check of 8+ to defuse the situation: 6-1=5]

Junemay unshoulders her rifle and thrusts it into Kaz's arms. "Ev, take his sword. Fitz, put 'em up. You want at me, now's your chance."

[Q: Does Fitz relinquish his sword? 50/50: O6 C7 - Yes.
J win initiative. 11+2+2+6=hit. 1d2+2=4, 1HD damage]

Fitz hands his sword to Ewa, and raises his fists. Junemay assumes a fighting stance for a moment, then rushes straight for him. She throws a single punch, which breaks his nose and sends him reeling backwards. He falls dazed onto the pavement.

Junemay wipes the blood from her knuckles. "Gee, Norna, it's your lucky day. But since you pissed me off you gotta go get Taf. Fitz can wrap up her and Horsey when he wakes up."

The three make their careful way back to the building. Ling refuses to go back inside. Ewa goes in, but just long enough for her and Norna to drag Taf out with their crowbars. But Norna ducks back inside.

[treasure class=P5 (there's tons more but it's all ruined and corroded). cbt rifle, shield, power cell B]

Norna comes back out after a few minutes, bearing a combat rifle and power cell. "See?" she says. "Worth it."

"You're disgusting," gags Ling.

They drag Taf back to the street and Norna hands over the goods. Junemay (who is now wearing Fitz's sword) examines the rifle for a few moments, then pronounces it a good fine. She loads it with the spare magazine she carries, then hands it back to Norna.

"There's a building at the end, too," says Junemay.

"You can barely see the end of the pier from here," says Ewa. "You coming closer to keep an eye on us?"

"No, m'dear. I've just helped myself to your binoculars. I'll be right here keeping my eye on you, don't you fret."

"If this is just some weird ploy to check out my arse in these new trousers..."

"Get moving."


Scene 6

Chaos:
Out of Control (d8)

Setup: to the end of the pier

NPC List: Ling, Kaz, Norna, Fitz, Junemay, Assia, Marguerite, Oggie

Threads: mission, escape

There is about 140m of severely damaged decking between the first section and their target. Ewa, Ling, and Norna move forward at an excruciating crawl. They can hear the structure beneath groaning with the ebb and flow of the waves.

[Each of them must make a Wisdom/Perception check of 6+ to avoid danger. Only Norna makes her roll.

For their failure, Ewa and Ling need to make Evasion saving throws. Ewa's +2 for Danger Sense sees her through, but Ling rolls a 1...]

Norna picks a sure path through over the decaying pier, but the other two are not as lucky. Ewa's sixth sense saves her from putting all her weight on a board that disintegrates under her foot, and she hops back just as it gives. Ling is not so lucky, and crashes right through the decking.

[1d6=6, 2HD damage.
Q: Does she fall into the water? 50/50: O3 C4 - No, but... she will in 1d6=4 rounds]

Ewa and Norna drop prone and crawl over to the hole. They see Ling lying motionless on one of the rusting support beams.


"Shit!" says Norna. "Is she dead?"

"I can't tell," says Ewa.

"What do we do? She's slipping."

"Dammit. I'll try to get down there..."

Ewa drops her rifle and takes the crowbar off her belt, then begins to crawl into the hole towards the unconscious Ling.

[Strength/Athletics check 8+: +1str / -1 unskilled; 2d6+0=9, success. She will reach Ling on round 1d6+2=3]

Ewa climbs to within an arm's reach of Ling, who is starting to slide off the beam. She hurriedly takes a stim patch from her pocket and slaps it onto Ling's forehead.

Ling wakes up instantly as the Old Terran medicine courses through her veins. She is still groggy, but has the presence of mind to hold on tight to the beam.

"Can you get back up?" asks Ewa.

"I'll try."

Ewa manages to scramble back up to the top, but when she looks back down, Ling has scarcely moved. [Athletics checks as above: E 8 ok, L 7 fail.]

"I can't make it," buzzes Ling.

"Try!"

"I can't."

"Jump into the water then."

Ling crawls a bit further down the beam, then rolls off and splashes into the water.

[Str/Athletics 6+ is needed: 8=success.
Q: Is the water dangerous? Unlikely (5+): O2 C5 - No.]

Ling swims out from underneath the pier and then slowly back to shore.

"So," says Norna, "we wait for Miss Buggyface or what?"

"No, Junemay doesn't like to be kept waiting. We continue."

"Blimey, what'd you ever see in her?"

Ewa pretends not to hear, and collects her things. They proceed even more cautiously to their destination.


Little remains of the structure at the pier's end but a burnt-out shell. They peer into it through an obliging hole, and easily spot their prize. The generator is nestled in a corner at the furthest end, barely visible save for the weakly flashing power light. It's little wonder it has sat here all this time without being scavenged; what sharp eyes their scouts must possess, they both think.

[Q: What awaits them there? Using a BOLD waylay to flesh out the encounter produced: Easy Foes - deputies. So, another Security Bot (AC 4, Move 20, HD 3, Atk +4/1d8stun, Skill +1, Save 13+, ML 12).

The party's Wis/Perception +0 (Norna) vs. its Stealth (+1): 4 vs. 7, Norna is surprised. Initiative rolls for Ewa and the bot are 6&6; PCs win ties.]

Ewa and Norna clamber through a gap in the wall to investigate the inside of the building. A security robot hiding amongst the detritus suddenly extends its stun baton and lunges at [1d2=] Ewa. A crackling voice issues from its speaker "Halt, intrudSKKKZZHZT--"

Ewa's shot shatters its voice box, cutting short the bot's warning with a burst of sparks and static [1d10+2=6, 2HD damage; the bot has 1HD left]. It comes for her with relentless determination, but she sidesteps its baton.

[Round 2]
Ewa goes for her crowbar, and sidesteps the robot again. Norna recovers from her momentary fright, and raises the combat rifle, and fires a short burst into the side of the bot. It stumbles forward another few steps towards Ewa, then crashes to the ground, inert [burst fire uses 3 rounds and is +2 to hit & damage. 17+2+4(AC)=hit; d12+2=6: 2HD damage destroys the bot].

Ewa retrieves her rifle and reloads, but it is soon clear that there is nothing else lurking in the rubble. As they make their way over to the generator, something catches Ewa's eye.

[I gave her a Wisdom/Perception roll of 8+ to spot a random treasure: 2d6-1=10, success. Random item -- 20m rope TL1

Q: Is something tied to the rope? 50/50 (4+): O2 C3 - No, but...]


Ewa pauses to take up a length of old rope dangling down through one of the larger holes in the floor. She pulls it up to reveal a webbed, three-fingered hand and forearm tangled in the end of it.

"We're not the only ones after the generator, it seems. But this rope might be useful." She uses her knife to cut off the tangles at the end with their gruesome ornament.

[Q: Any trouble removing the generator? 50/50(4+): O3 C4 - No]

Ewa uses the rope and the remains of a door to fashion a crude sled. She and Norna drag the generator back to the street, making certain to retrace their steps across the solid decking.

"If that had fallen into the water, I'd have shot you both," says Junemay with a wink.

[There are no night encounters, but I thought it might be prudent to ask...

Q: Is there a betrayal by Assia's band? 50/50 (4+): O5 C7 - Yes
Q: Do they have reinforcements? Likely (3+): O3 C7

Well, then... (to be continuued)]

Monday, 15 August 2016

Other Dust solo - Part II : Found & Lost


Scene 2

Chaos:
Average (d10)

Setup: 1d10=3, Interrupt (was: scouting out the target)
Interrupt: Introduce a new NPC - Dispute / Disruption

NPC List: Ling, Horsey, Kaz, Taf, Norna, Fitz, Junemay

Threads: mission, escape

The next day the band resume their march. They pick their way through the last of the collapsing ruins, and head down to the beach, well past the dangers of the old harbour, which is haunted by horrible water mutants, or insane warbots, or something else so terrifying that fear of it has passed from scouts' reports into the oral tradition of their enclave.
 It's a long trudge up the beach, past bits of wreckage and areas of treacherous erosion.

The weather is intermittently stormy, but even with the mist their destination comes into view after a few hours. The last bit of their journey is the easiest, for an old, bunker-like sea defence provides a covered walkway for the last kilometre.

But when they are nearly halfway down it, they se they are are not alone any more. A lone figure is moving towards them from the far end. The figure resolves into the shape of a young woman, obviously a mutant, as patches of metallic silver gleam brightly in her light brown skin. She wears flashy, carefully-mended clothing of Old Terra, and sports an intricate and fanciful hair style, which seems to defy gravity.

[I rolled her up on the random NPC tables in the rulebook.


patched old terran clothes
self-sacrificing, irresponsible
desire - better equipment
barely adult, north african, average build
fanciful hair
stigma: The nanites have formed a metallic crust or chrome over some portion of the character.

UNE--
NPC Relationship: friendly
Conversation Mood: guarded
knowing - news - treasure]

When she gets closer, it becomes evident that, despite her grace and poise, she is scarcely an adult. She also appears to be unarmed. She walks serenely forward with open hands, then speaks in a voice as measured as her gait. "Hello, friends."

"Who're you?" asks Junemay, cradling her rifle in a decidedly less-than-neutral stance.

"I'm Assia."

"Why are you out here all by yourself?" says Junemay.

"Oh, but I'm not."

"I don't see no others."

"They're out hunting."

"what do you want, then?"

"Want? why should I want something?"

"You came up to us. You didn't have to."

"Where would I have run to, between this structue and the sea?"

"You might've outrun us all the same."

"Well, I'm here now."

"Fine. Now what?"

"Why don't we talk?"

"We are."

"I mean, why don't we discuss how we could act to each other's mutual advantage?"

Junemay looks back over her shoulder at Ewa. "Well?" she asks pointedly.

"Well, what?" responds Ewa. "Oh... sure, talking's fine. I mean, what could it hurt?" But inwardly, Ewa thinks italI can't believe she still thinks I'm psychic.

[Ewa did need to make a Mental saving throw against her paranoia. 1d20=17, so she could agree to Assia's proposition that they all talk; Danger Sense only works for immediate threats, not potential ones.]

"Good," says Junemay, then turns back to Assia. "So what do you got to offer?"

"That depends," she replies. "You're from Eastbourne, I presume?

"And if we are?"

"Then you're probably looking for your missing friends. They were exploring the pier... but never returned."

"We know where they went."

"They said that a great treasure was hidden in the building at the end. One of them -- Philbert, the ginger one with mandibles -- saw it gleaming at night, he said."

"You didn't try to help them?"

"They seemed rather intent on not lettng any of us near it. So we kept our distance, and cared for your poor Marthia, who'd been bitten by a flaysnake."

"Ugh, there's a lot of that going, round," interjects Kaz.

"Something chased them out," continues Assia, "back to the gate... but they didn't make it. Tadeu got outside and shut it, but he had lost so much blood... I'm sorry. Whatever it was didn't follow, but we chained the gate shut just to be sure."

Assia leads them up a short stair to the pier entrance on the street level. "I want some reconnaissance," says Junemay. "Ewa, Kaz, Taf, leave your packs with us and go have a look round. The rest of us will set up camp."


Assia's camp is in the concrete rotunda at the end of the sea defence, right beside the pier. She suggests to Junemay that is is the best protection from the wind and weather, and that her companions would welcome the company of a combined camp. Junemay consents.

As they are making camp, Assia's companions return from hunting. Oggie is a null-strain human. He wears the skins of a variety of mutant creatures, and a hotchpotch of old terran shreds and plant textiles beneath. Marguerite is Assia's older sister. They both sport the same metallic patter of mutation, and there is a strong family resemblence in their features. But where Assia's dress is vibrant and ornate, Marguerite favours earth tones and practicality.

[They were randomly generated, of course. Each had the usual 20% chance of being a mutant. When I rolled the exact same stigma as Assia's, it made sense that they'd be related.]



Scene 3

Chaos:
Average (d10)

Setup: scouting out the pier
1d10=3, Altered

NPC List: Ling, Horsey, Kaz, Taf, Norna, Fitz, Junemay, Assia, Marguerite, Oggie

Threads: mission, escape

[Q: How is the scene Altered? NPC negative - Taf - Mistrust / Tactics]


The pier is roughly 60m wide where it joins the street, and stretches about 280m out to sea. It has been ravaged by fire, and only one building stands intact upon its surface. There are many holes in the decking where the iron structure shows through [the Ruin has the Unstable Construction tag].

Ewa, Kaz, and Taf are left in front of the rusting metal gate. They scan the pier beyond in silence. Hesitant to make the first move.

[10+ Wisdom/Perception check for the party: Kaz has the best chance at skill-0, and wis+1. But 2d6=5]

"I don't see nothing," says Kaz.

"Yeah, but something's got to be there," says Taf. "Try listening."

"All I hear is the sea," says Ewa.

"Yeah, me too," adds Kaz.

"Me three," says Taf.

Another silence.

"That girl gave you the key," says Ewa. "Open it."


Kaz does as he is bidden. The small, metal key is on an ancient textile-based key fob, in the form of a big-headed, flaccid, pink-and-white striped, mutant feline. The key grates in the lock, but still works. Kaz nudges the gate with his foot, and it slowly gate screeches open.

"Ladies first," he says.

"Seriously?" says Ewa.

"You do have the biggest gun."

"Point taken. Let's go slowly. The decking doesn't seem stable."

Ewa proceeds very slowly through the gate, weapon at the ready. The other two follow close behind her. Ewa seems more concerned about the flooring than any surprise attacks, and moves forward at a snail's pace.

Taf is rapidly frustrated by her over-caution, and can no longer contain herself. "This is stupid!," she says. "There's nothing outside. I'm gonna check out that yellow building."

"No," says Ewa,"stay with us. We need to get a feel for the place. Everyone is supposed to have died here. But there's no bodies. No nothing...."

Taf does not answer, but trots on ahead to the intact building.

"Dammit! Come on, before she gets herself dead. I don't fancy draggin her corpse home without a boat."

"I hear ya'", says Kaz.

Ewa and Kaz move as quickly as they dare, ever cognisant of the danger from the damp, rotten wood. Kaz is loathe to step anywhere but in Ewa's footsteps -- he is relying on her sixth sense to see them safely through.

Taf has reached the boarded-up old building before Ewa and Kaz have crossed even half the distance. She begins to circle it, and is lost from their sight.

[They need a 9+ on a Wisdom/PCN check: 5+1(Kaz's mod.)=failure.]

Ewa and Kaz shuffle round the back of the building. Taf is nowhere to be seen.

"Where the hell is she?" says Kaz.

"That stupid fuck..." replies Ewa.

They call her name a few times, but get no answer. They make a circuit of the building, slipping several times on the damp wooden deck. 

"Shit where is she?" mutters Kaz.

"Did she go inside?" asks Ewa.

"I don't see how. It'sall boarded up."

"What if she fell through the deck?"

They shuffle over to the biggest hole. Ewa lies down on her stomach on the black and white chequered linoleum flooring left over from the building that once stood there. She begins to crawl gingerly up to the edge of the hole. Kaz is about to follow suit when...

[Q: Does the decking hold? Likely (3+): O2 C3 - No, but...]

... Ewa suddenly backpedals as fast as she can. "It's starting to give!"

"Shit! shit! back to camp! We'll check it out from the beach."

They rush off the pier and down to the concrete rotunda. No one saw anything fall. They all rush out into the surf to see if Taf can be found. Even their three new friends run into the waves to help look.

[Q: Anyone stray underneath? Unlikely (5+): O2 C8 - No
Q: Any dangers in the surf? Doubtful (6): O1 C0 - No]


After 15 fruitless minutes, the search is abandoned. Junemay is furious, though the bulk of her ire is vented at Ewa. "How could you let her get out of your sight? I expect this sort of amateur bullshit from Kaz, but you, Ewa, I thought had at least a little bit of common sense. But instead of coming back with even the slightest bit of useful information, you go and lose on of our number. And now we're all wet. You two arseholes just pulled an extra round of firewood detail. Be dark soon. Get out of my fucking sight."


Scene 4

Chaos:
Out of Control (d8)

Setup: collecting firewood
1d8=1, Altered!

NPC List: Ling, Horsey, Kaz, Taf, Norna, Fitz, Junemay, Assia, Marguerite, Oggie

Threads: mission, escape

Ewa and Kaz slink away from the camp and into the ruins of the town, looking for an old building with wooden trim or frame in order to collect dry firewood.

"This totally wasn't our fault," whinges Kaz.

"She just likes to pull rank," replies Ewa.

"I guess. But, really.. haven't you ever heard of staying friends with your ex?"

"My-- wait... shit, what? You know about that?"

"There's like [2d4x100=] 600 adults in our whole enclave. You think anyone doesn't know?"

[Collecting firewood in the ruins called for an encounter check, but nothing is alerted by the noise.

For the Scene Alteration, I decided to use a BOLD waylay: party - accusations, exhausting. Solution=avoidance]

At length, Ewa and Kaz stumble upon the ruins of a traditional English pub. Any liquor has long since been looted, but they are more interested in the (restored? faux?) tudor interior, and begin to pull wooden trim off the walls with their crowbars. Looters have already made off with any useful furniture.

When they get back to camp, Junemay still wants to argue [UNE:hostile - rage - skills].

"I put you in charge because I thought you were more sensible. It's not like you've never been away on a mission before. Maybe you should try acting like it. You came back with no information. Nothing! And now everyone's spooked that Taf just disappeared like that. What were you thinking? Were you, even?"

[Charisma/Persuasion roll of 9+ needed to calm her down: 6-1, failure.]

"Czierw--"

"Don't you even start with the pet names! Reminding me of the mess you made in the past isn't going to make me forget the one you've made now."

"I'm on first watch again, right? I think I'll take it up at street level this time."

And so saying, Ewa walks off alone. When Junemay finally sends someone to relieve her, she decides she'd be happier sleeping away from camp, and wraps herself in a blanket under a concrete overhang.

[There were no night encounters; I made two checks: once generally and once for Ewa on her own.]

Friday, 12 August 2016

Other Dust solo - Part I : Incipit


On a morning like any other, the forty or so scavengers of the enclave are assembled on the beach. Some are watching the last of the fishing skiffs put out to sea, some are idly chatting, some are merely sitting on the pebbly ground and waiting, fiddling with the nametags they are to throw into the Sorting Hat to receive today's unit assignments.

Soon the Director is spotted emerging from the fortress, and trudging down the beach to meet the scavengers halfway. Such is the custom, though the significance of the act is no longer really remembered.

Rumours begin to fly through the assembly. What's he holding? Is that a Writ? There are more soldiers than yesterday. Yes, and fewer of us.

The Director stops, looking overheated in his fur-trimmed robe of office. He wipes his pallid brow with an ancient Nanoclean® handkerchief, then raises his jangling, scrapmetal staff to command silence. The scavengers do fall instantly silent -- for that is a Writ in his other hand, and there are more soldiers today.

"I have six names," states the Director, brandishing the Writ for emphasis. "These six will step forth when called, and put their tags in the mission jar." Here a soldier holds aloft the top of a blender. Some amongst the scavengers shudder, as they know the blades within symbolise great danger ahead.

Taf

"I call the first name: Taf!" Here a sullen-faced woman clutching a scrapmetal spear in her calloused hand stands up from the ground and stomps up to put her nametag in the jar.

Ling

"I call the second name: Ling!" A young woman saunters across the beach, her every motion exuding an easy sensuality. Ling is beautiful and she knows it. Before the collapse, she would have been an artist's model or a poet's muse, her form known to, and envied by, the teeming billions. Now she is simply the most gorgeous woman in the enclave, even with her insect head.

Kaz

"I call the third name: Kaz!" Kaz is a hotshot in garish Old Terran clothes. He has a laser that he'd scavenged himself in the ruins, and brags about endlessly. He is waiting for a chance to prove himself and be accepted into the Fortress as a soldier. He's been waiting for a long time.

Norna

"I call the fourth name: Norna!" Norna is a good 15 years older than any of the rest of them, which practically makes her one of the village elders. She has a crossbow she made herself, because she 'doesn't trust weapons using nor powder nor power'. She's also sick of most people's bullshit. It's said she's even told the Commander to get stuffed once or twice.

Fitz

"I call the fifth name: Fitz!" Fitz looks like a walking junk pile. He's fashioned everything he owns himself, even the sword he isn't technically allowed to own. Fitz has a problem with authority, and is perpetually one infraction away from becoming fish bait. But he has a superb eye for finding real treasure amongst the rubble.

"I call the last name: Ewa!" The blue-skinned mutant is almost surprised to hear her name called, but as she walks up impassively to throw her tag in the jar, she realises that the Fates must indeed have added her name to the Writ. One way or the other, she knows, this will be her last mission for the enclave.

[Rather than throwing my PC right out into the wilderness, I decided to start the game just before she leaves on her Quest. In fact, getting away from the others and setting out will be one of the starting Threads for the adventure. Also, her interactions with her compatriots will be a sneaky way of doing some world-building setup without taking time away from actually playing. It's a good shakedown of the rule system as well.

There is a wealth of tables in the Other Dust rulebook, so I may not have to supplement it much, but just in case my toolkit for this game will be:

Scarlet Heroes has plenty of solo tables which can be mostly used as-is, but I'm applying a few minor house rules to the combat overlay to reflect a less cinematic campaign:
  • No fray die
  • Any damage die that rolls a natural 1 inflicts 0 HD of damage, regardless of modifiers. PCs still take damage in the normal way (unless the modifier is +5, they would only lose 1hp).
  • Classed NPCs get +1HD at 1st level to make them less absurdly fragile. Survivors get an additional bonus hit die at levels 3, 6, 9, & 12.
  • I'll probably keep the Defying Death rule, but it is a bit redundant with my PC's Hard to Kill class feature.
Back to the narrative...]

Horsey

The soldier holding the blender is a gangly, awkward girl whose visible mutations have caused her to be stuck with the unfortunate moniker of 'Horsey'. As Ewa puts the final tag in the mission jar, Horsey squints, and moves her head from side to side to make sure all six of the chosen are still standing before her.

"Go collect your overnight things and some food, then meet me back here. It's gonna be a long one."

"How long?" asks Fitz. "I don't know how much to bring if you don't tell us nothing."

"At least three days. Maybe more if you lot don't do your job right. Now go get your kit and meet me back here before the Lieutenant arrives. She won't be pleased if you're late."

"Two soldiers for only six scavvers?" asks Kaz. "Don't you trust us?"

"If we didn't, you wouldn'a been picked. Now move!"

The chosen six return to their dwelling places and gather together the things they'll need for an extended mission. Ewa packs every last useful thing into her pack, and a few things she can't use but is hoping to trade. She'd hoped to find the vicar about to say a final farewell, but he is nowhere to be seen. But, she reflects, he has already given her leave to depart on her great Quest, and there is truly nothing more to be said. Besides, if she went back with tears in her eyes, it could scupper the whole plan.

Ewa makes it back just as the last band of scavengers is heading out into the local rubble, and fortunately isn't the last to arrive. The mission leader has meanwhile come forth from the Fortress, and is talking to the Director. When Ewa sees her, her step falters, and her chest feels suddenly tight. She's been so distracted by the thoughts of her Quest that she failed to make the connection when Horsey mentioned the Lieutenant. Of all the soldiers in the Fortress qualified to lead a major foray -- why did it have to be her?

Junemay

[So, here's the stats for the party in full. I made three other first level characters when I was playing around with the rulebook. Ling is a Speaker, Kaz is a Scrounger, and Horsey is a Slayer. The others are 1HD human Enclave Dwellers per the bestiary chapter, except Junemay (the Lieutenant) who is a 3rd level Slayer. I rolled attributes for them to make them a bit less generic. OTC stands for Old Terran Clothes, base AC7. Hide armour is AC6.

        sx C/L ST IN WI DX CN CH AC
Ling     f sp1 10  8 14 13  8 14  7 revolver, OTC
Horsey   f sl1 14 12 11 10 12  7  3 2-h axe, scrap plate
Kaz      m sc1 15 10  8 14 14 13  5 laser pistol, OTC
Taf      f  -  10 12 14  7  5 11  7 spear, hide armour
Norna    f  -  14 11 13  8  9 15  6 crossbow, hide armour
Fitz     m  -  11  5 15  9 13  6  6 sword, hide armour
Junemay  f sl3 18 13  8 14  9 10  6 combat rifle, OTC


Ling and Ewa dressed for AC7

For Ling's Stigma, I rolled "The nanites have molded your flesh into an unearthly vision of beauty or handsomeness save for one blatantly
inhuman feature". Her mutations are (briefly)--
1: foolish / natural immunities (auto success at 1 Tech save per day)
2: needs 2 food rations per day / quick healing
3: -3 Physical saving throws / Laser Eyes

Horsey's actual stigma is a pattern of nanite tattoos. This is overshadowed by her first two mutations:
1: hippoid traits and features / healing touch
2: weak sight (no ranged attacks past 10m) / poisonous stinger
3: extra damage from psi / +2 dex mod. (activated, costs 1 system strain per 5 minutes)

Kaz, being a null-strain human, spent his mutation points to increase his Wis, Dex, and Cha bonuses by +1 each. Thus, his attributes and modifiers are:
st 15/+1 in 10 wi 8/+1 dx 14/+2 cn14/+1 ch13/+1

Ling, Horsey, and Kaz actually have full character sheets, but I will spare you the info-dump in order to get to the fun part, which is the characters' inter-relationships, for which I naturally turned to Star Trader--
  • Ling is secretly Horsey's half-sister. Not even Horsey knows.
  • Horsey is a loner
  • Kaz is openly jealous of Horsey; why should she get to live in the Fortress when he is forced to live in scavvers' digs
  • Taf is also a loner
  • Norna is an old (and these days, ex-) friend of Junemay
  • Fitz is Junemay's enemy, and is waiting for chance to strike!
  • Junemay is bitter towards Ewa about a past event
PCs aren't exempt; Ewa's roll turned up Sexual partner -- of Junemay. So the Past Event for which Junemay still feels bitter is obviously a messy breakup. Whose fault was it? Is our Scarlet Hero also a Scarlet Woman? We'll leave the fine details aside for now whilst we pause to reflect on the dangers inherent in starting one's adventuring career with a 3rd level Slayer who hates you.

Now, on with the adventure.]


Scene 1

Chaos: Average (d10)

Setup: travel to Hastings (1d10=1, Altered)

NPC List: Ling, Horsey, Kaz, Taf, Norna, Fitz, Junemay

Threads: mission, escape

[Q: How is the scene Altered? Failure / Vehicle]

Junemay looks over the assembled chosen and sighs visibly. Ewa is sure that the soldier's eyes rest on her for a bit longer than the rest, and she seemed just about to say something, but didn't. She merely shouldered her rifle -- one of the priceless ancient artefacts owned by the Commander and issued to his elite soldiers -- and turned to head up the beach.

"Right. Follow me."

Horsey twitches her barbed, venomous tail. "You heard the Lieutenant! Step lively! You too, blue girl. Don't keep the Lieutenant waiting!"

Ewa falls in next to Horsey. "You know," says Ewa to the marching soldier, "she may be one of the Commander's 'picked men' and all, but Junemay hates being called 'the Lieutenant'. You might want to keep that in mind."

"Just shut up and march," says Horsey, flushing red.

They trudge about a kilometre up the beach where their transport awaits them. There is a small speedboat anchored a few meters off shore, and a second that has been pulled up onto the shore. A pair of technicos work on each. The beached one has most of its engine disassembled and arranged carefully on a plastic tarp, and judging by the anxious faces of the two in the one offshore, its engine fares little better.

The lead technico stands up, brushes the sand from his trousers, and pushes his magni-goggles up from his eyes. "They both got bad engines. That one'll at least turn over, but it cuts out after 15 seconds. This one was seized up good. Dunno what the problem is."

"You guys are really fucking useless," says Junemay, and throws up a hand to interdict any further comments. She instead addresses her band. "Looks like we're walking, then."

"You heard her," yells Horsey. "Fall in!"

"I'm pretty sure they were going to," says Junemay. "They're scavvers, not recruits. So bin the echo, 'kay?"

Junemay doesn't wait for a response, but turns and heads inland. The scavengers follow her without question, and a moping Horsey brings up the rear. Junemay halts just before they cross into the ruined streets of old Eastbourne.

"As those of you who aren't complete fuckwits have probably surmised," says Junemay, "the last special mission never made it back. So it's like this: we're going after them and completing their mission. And recovering the bodies if we can, but that's a secondary concern. They knew the risks."

"So do we get to know what the mission is?" asks Fitz.

"I was just getting to that. Jeezits, you're as impatient as Horsey. Our objective is a working solar generator that one of our scouts saw on the Hastings pier. So it's up through Old Eastbourne until we pass the harbour, then the rest of the way we go up the beach. Now, which of you lot has got a scavvers' map?"

"I do," says Ling in her breathy but slightly buzzing voice. She reaches into her coat pocket to produce a hand-annotated 2079 Ordnance Survey map of the East Sussex coast.

"You're with me then," says Junemay, trying not to let her voice crack. Even elite soldiers sometimes blush like the schoolgirls of Old Terra (so the legends say) when they are bathed in the beauties of the divine presence of Ling. Even with her insect head. "Lead on."


[Random encounter check: 1d6=1, an encounter (I'm checking once during the day and once at night).

Rolling on the encounter charts in the back of the rulebook: d12=Building collapses or deathlands sinkholes have made progress treacherous. 1d6 days are spent in the same area trying to get
clear of the wreckage, -1 day for each level of Navigation skill possessed by the group. 1d6-1=1 day].

After a few minutes, Ling stops short. She peers at her map, then her surroundings, then heaves a long sigh. "None of this should be here," she says with a sweeping gesture. "There should be through-streets and housing blocks. That big pit shouldn't be there at all."

"Is, um, is your map wrong?" asks Junemay.

"No. Or, it wasn't. There's been some subsidence. Probably the sewers collapsed or something. Either way, we'll have to go round it. It's not safe."

"I think I feel a rumbling under my feet," says Kaz.

"We need to not be standing here now!" shouts Ewa.

"Oh, shit," says Junemay. "Everyone follow Ewa!"

Ewa has already started running before Junemay finishes her order -- and so has Norna, who knows her reputation in such matters. The rest are quick to follow.

They look back from afar, and everything seems still. There is a slight rumbling, then silence. Fitz starts laughing, and points an accusing finger at Ewa. "Bit jumpy, are we? I'd feel a right pillock, crying danger at th--"

His words are cut short by the loud metallic clang of a streetlight toppling over where they had stood just moments ago.

"Given the dangers from further subsidence," says Junemay, "Ewa and Ling are going to navigate us around this mess. That cool with you, Fitz?"


And so what should have been a six or seven hour jaunt turns into an entire day of just finding a new trail through the wreckage. Ling fastidiously marks their route and new danger zones on her map. Horsey seems anxious that this will delay the mission, but Junemay reminds her that they need to return this way with the generator.

It's dusk by the time that the little band has nearly reached the edge of the ruined town. They find a suitable, two-storey semi-detached house for shelter, the more ruinous half of which provides easy access to wood for the campfire. Junemay haphazardly orders the watches, and hands her timepiece over to Ewa and Ling whilst the rest of them head upstairs for some rest.

[Q: Anyone ask Ewa why she's brought so much gear? Likely (3+): O6 C3 - Yes, but...she can try to laugh it off (see below)]

Ling and Ewa converse now and again to break the monotony of guard duty, and to make sure neither falls asleep in the small, warm front room, lit by low lantern light.

"I don't care what most people say about you," says Ling, "I think you're well easy to work with."

"Uh, thanks, I guess," says Ewa.

"That sorta came out wrong. I just mean you don't fall all over yourself around me and go all goo-goo eyed."

"That's because I've seen what you do to your lovers when you're done with them. Marcus walked out into the wastes alone, Annabel wandered into a nest of heritor bugs--"

"But Tasha shacked up with Imran and now they're expecting a litter of kittens. Or something... anyways, I thought you were above listening to enclave gossip."

"Should we change the subject, maybe?"

"Yeah, prolly. So, like... how come you brought so much gear this trip? You can barely walk under it all. And you're at least as strong as Norna."

"I was fine until Junemay made me lug the tent."

"Well she hates you the most. Even more than Fitz. But seriously, I saw power cells in your bag. You don't even own anything that needs them."

[Ewa needs to make a CHA/Persuasion check of 8+ to deflect the question: 2d6-1(unskilled)=9, success.]

"Special assignment. I want to be ready for anything. I got a good feeling about our scavenging potential on this one."

"You're weird, you know that?"


[Time to check for a night-time encounter; 1d6=1! Since the watches were haphazardly chosen, I just went down my N/PC list and took each pair as a watch. Ewa counts as the first on the list, since Junemay wouldn't want to take a watch with her. So, on which watch does the encounter occur? (1d4) 1 EL, 2 HK, 3 TN, 4 FJ: 1d4=2, Horsey & Kaz

The random encounter charts produce 1d4=2 Flaysnakes (AC 7, Move 20, HD 3, Att +4/1d6 bite+poison, Skill +2, Save 14+, ML 8).

Now to check for surprise... Surprise -- when there is a chance of it at all -- is determined by an opposed skill check. The average Dexterity/Stealth skill total of the ambushers is rolled against the best Wisdom/Perception skill total of the ambushees. The flaysnakes have a Skill +2 notation which applies here, and Kaz has Perception-0 and a +1 Wis bonus.

So, Kaz's PCN-0: 2d6=12! vs. 2d6+2=10; No surprise round]

Kaz and Horsey are sitting in uncomfortable silence. Horsey is desperately trying to think of something -- anything -- to say, and Kaz is just wishing he'd been given watch with Ling. Or Taf. Or anyone else, really.

Something stirs in the ruined kitchen, where no one should be. "Did you hear that?" whispers Horsey, her ears twitching.

Kaz does not respond, but stands and aims his laser pistol at the empty doorway. But it isn't empty for long. Two flaysnakes -- man-sized, skinless, venomous serpents famed for their malicious ferocity -- dart out of the darkness to strike.

[Initiative is 1d8+dex modifier; Rolls are K8 H8 fa5 fb2]

Horsey leaps up and sounds the camp alarm, all the steel and aluminium cook pots hanging on a cord. Kaz fires his laser at the first snake through the door. The sizzling yellow beam leaves a long, charred wound in the flaysnake's side, but it merely hisses louder and tries to strike. Kaz wheels aside at the last second, and its dripping fangs close on thin air. The other serpent tries to sink its teeth into Horsey. It almost succeeds, but cannot pierce the armoured shell of scrap metal she wears.

[Kaz rolled a 19. His base attack bonus is +1, so I stopped counting, as an adjusted roll of 20+ is a hit (just like in Scarlet Heroes).=hit; Laser pistols do 1d6 damage; a roll of 2 translates into 1HD in Scarlet Heroes terms. The flaysnake has 2HD left.

Flaysnake-A attacked Kaz. It rolled 1d20=7 +4(attack bonus) +5(Kaz's AC) for a total of 16, miss. Flaysnake-b rolled even worse (a 6) versus Horsey's better AC (3); 6+4+3=miss.

Having been roused by the alarm, the sleepers upstairs will all be grabbing weapons and rushing down the stairs. They will arrive on round 1d6+2; Ewa's Danger Sense will let her arrive on round 1d4+2.]

Arrivals -- E3 L4 N4 F5 J5 T7

[Round 2]
Kaz burns a hole in the peeling wallpaper with his next shot. Horsey lashes out with her tail stinger, and the tip nearly gets stuck in the floorboards. Neither flaysnake catches its prey in its slavering jaws.

[Rolls of 3,4,3,6. I swear I was using d20s...]

[Round 3]
The flaysnake before Kaz coils back to strike again. Kaz takes careful aim and fires just as it springs towards him. The laser beam burns into it but it does not drop, and Kaz finds its jaws clamped down on his shoulder. He cries out and falls to the floor.

[The laser did 1 more HD of damage; the flaysnake has 1HD remaining. It rolled a 6 on its damage die, which translates into 2HD of damage. Kaz is now at 0HD -- dead or dying.]

Meanwhile, Horsey and the other snake are circling each other warily, looking for a chance to attack [miss, miss].

The first flaysnake is rearing up for a chance to strike at Horsey from the back when Ewa comes down the stairs. She takes her crowbar in both hands and brings it down on the snake's head with a loud crunch. The flaysnake flops down over Kaz, twitches once, then is still.

[Ewa arrived on Initiative d8=1. A crowbar used one-handed is a normal club (d4 damage), but with two hands it inflicts 2d4 damage. Ewa gets to add +1 to one die for her STR bonus. The damage rolls were 2+1 & 2: 1HD each. 2HD damage killed it.]

[Round 4]
Horsey and the furious serpent keep circling one another. Each makes a few feints, but neither can get past the other's guard. [The flaysnake needed to make a morale check as its friend was killed and it's seriously outnumbered. But as these things are so vicious, I did not apply any penalties to the roll. 2d6=8, it kept fighting].

Norna and Ling are next down the stairs [Initiative 2&5, respectively]. Ling has her revolver in hand, but doesn't wish to risk hitting one of her friends in the small space, so draws a knife instead. Norna doesn't particularly care, and shoots her crossbow. The bolt hits the snake in the tail, but it seems to be more annoyed than injured.

[There aren't firing-into-mêlée rules, but I will probably use some from another game. But Norna rolled a natural 20, so I don't need to go looking quite yet. Unfortunately, she rolled a 1 for damage, so the hit has no appreciable effect.]

Ewa swings her crowbar so hard she nearly loses her balance, and connects with nothing.

[Round 5]
As the flaysnake ducks slightly underneath the arc of the wildly swinging crowbar, Horsey's tail swishes up and spears its jaw [1d6=6; 2HD damage drops it to 1HD]. The snake hisses in pain, and blood and venom leak from the wound. It strikes back at Horsey in a rage, but just rebounds off her steel breastplate.

Ling advances with her knife, but between Horsey's swishing tail and Ewa's wildly swinging crowbar [miss], she cannot get in close enough to stab at the flaysnake [miss].

Norna draws her own knife. Fitz and Junemay arrive behind Norna on the staircase, but can only crane their necks to get a glimpse of the action.

[Round 6]
Horsey stabs forward with her stinger once again. The point pierces the awful snake's heart, and blood sprays out its mouth as it falls to the floor at her feet [1HD damage kills it].

[Round 7]
Having slain the flaysnake, Horsey rushes immediately to Kaz's side. His breathing is ragged, but at least he still draws breath. She puts one hand over his head, the other over his heart, and concentrates. She stirs up the life-energy in his injured frame, willing injured flesh to heal. She's never understood this power herself, but her instincts have always been true.

Soon Kaz opens his eyes, and stares weakly up at Horsey. "If this is heaven," says Kaz, "I want a word with that lying vicar."

"Jeezits, Kaz," interjects Junemay. "I was gonna let you off since you were injured in the line of duty, but since you're such an ungrateful shite I'm gonna make you finish your watch. Horsey, you're relieved -- you've earned a rest. Ewa, you take the rest of her watch."

"Me? What'd I do?"

[After 6 rounds, a mortally wounded character dies, so Kaz had until round 9. He got to roll a Luck save to avoid being poisoned by the flaysnake's bite, which he fortunately made -- had he failed it, I would have ruled him past hope.

Healing Touch restores 1d6+Con modifier damage. 3+1=4, which translates to 1HD in Scarlet Heroes terms. Kaz also picks up a point of System Strain.

I actually threw a die to determine who got stuck with the extra shift. 1d6= Junemay is not above petty vindictiveness.

Re-reading the Encumbrance rules, I realised that Ling and Norna would have been able to draw their knives (being Readied Items) and attack in the same round. The whole drawing-a-weapon-and-not-attacking-until-the-next-round will be a feature of this campaign for a while, at least until Scene 15. Mea maxima culpa.

The Oracle said the rest of the night would be uneventful, and there were no random encounters the next day, so this ends the scene.]