Friday, February 28, 2014

Mercurian Mystery

AP Wire story, originally published in the Sunward Observer, Bitter Sea City, Mercury.

Remains of five earth humans were found today in a newly discovered shadowland sunward of the Salt Desert. Judging by the skeletal structures, all five were males, the youngest under the age of majority - possibly the child of one of the others. Analysis of evidence at the site showed copious ammunition expended, yet no sign of anything actually being hit.

Examination of the skeletal remains indicates the bones were gnawed clean, as if by hordes of giant rodents. A nearby abandoned lander may have been the vehicle used to bring them to this remote site far from any inhabited area. The lander appeared to have been damaged in landing, and the five may have been marooned. The lander had apparently been subject to an abrasive sandstorm at some point, because all serial numbers and other identifying marks had been ground off.  The skeleton of a large snake was also found, possibly the pitiful survivors' last meal.

Dr. Kladeny Jorikov of the University of the Bitter Seas, who headed the expedition which found the remains, theorizes the five men may have been survivors of an accident in orbit who came down in the wrong lace. "They had obviously been blinded by the katabatic winds, or possibly a glimpse of the sun," explained Dr. Jorikov, "As despite being well armed, the men seemed to have been firing at random. The only creature they injured was the snake, which appears to have been strangled. Perhaps they encountered it by touch?"

Ample provisions appear to have been available in the lander, but being blinded, they may have been unable to find it once they had left. The details may forever remain a mystery. Were they fleeing some unknown space battle? Had their ship been struck by a sunward meteor? We may never know. For now, their bones hold the only testimony.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Star Wars-ish Characters

An intro to the characters in my Star Wars-ish game:

The Crew of the Albireo

Sharaska Vey, Captain and pilot of the smuggling ship Albireo, Sharaska is a stunning Togruta of 38 years. She is a master pilot, and has Masteries in Beam Weapons, Sneaking, and Stashing contraband. She is smart and strong-willed, and is always finagling for a profit.

Dindar is a Wookiee, dapper and sleek, and 31 years old. He's a ladies' man, and has been known to be kidnapped by love-lorn women. He is the co-pilot, and pretends he understands the ship's machinery, which he bangs on with a wrench until it surrenders and starts working again, or it completely falls apart. As the only male in the crew, he gets far too much attention.

Delilah is a pretty Twi-Lek thief and stage magician of 30 years. Actually a Force adept, she uses stage magic to make people think she's not using the Force. Sh is the ship's cargomaster and the Captain's right arm.

G2S4 (General-Purpose 2 Spacer 4) is a droid assassin, disguised as a butler. He is a Master at programming and Beam Weapons, and can do just about any job on the ship except pilot.

Lyssia Highsaber is  a 40 year old human. Attractive and ultra-competent, she has masteries in Navigation, Blades, Ship's Drives, Electronics, and Mechanics. She is strong in the Force, but completely untrained.

The Passengers

Daykon is a very handsome human Jedi of 30 years. He is firmly of the Light side, and a master of Stun, Telekinesis, and Blade. He is a human, arrogant and roguish. He lived quietly on a backwater planet for many years, attracting no attention from the Empire.

Duke Warcest is a Dark-side human Jedi of 32 years. He is a master of Jedi Mind Tricks and Telekinesis, and loves to manipulate people. He hid for many years among a teeming crowd of people in the sector capital. He is patient and sly.

Hosia Zabos is a mildly Light-side human Jedi, and also 32. Strong and enduring, he is Master of Melee Weapons, Telekinesis, and Shield. He hid for a long time on an ice age planet, making a good living by trapping and hunting animals and selling their fur. he uses a Light Pike - a long-handled staff-like weapon, and is upright and blunt. Intellectually he professes neutrality in the Light vs Dark question, but has a slight attachment to the Light.

Torota Savina is a 25 year old Timactrin female Padawan. She is sleek and otter-like, and militantly neutral in the Light vs Dark question. She is Padawan to Hosia, and her coming to him, with Daykon and Duke tagging along, precipitated their flight from the comfortable lives they had been living in hiding into their desperate search for the Rebel Alliance.

Torota was half-trained, but her master died leading her people, the Timactri, to pushing the Empire out of their space. Her people wanted her to lead, but she - being extremely traditional Gray Jedi - did not consider herself a Jedi yet, and left them to find a new master. The Force led her to Duke, Daykon, and finally Hosia - whose masters all had the same master, and thus knew each other - but the Empire was trailing her, as she is naive and a motormouth. They fled just ahead of the Imperial unit that was there to capture them, and have been on the run ever since.

Last year they were instrumental in bringing the Mon Calamari into alliance with the Timactri, and eventually, they hope, with the larger Rebel Alliance.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Star Wars-ish Season Two Begins!

My second campaign of StarWars-ish began yesterday. The Albireo came out of hyperdrive over Hoth. There were a number of Star Destroyers orbiting the planet, along with great chunks of debris.They were, of course, immediately noticed, and were ordered to prepare for boarding. The Captain ordered Lyssia, the Engineer, to disable the hyperdrive, and she did so. The Jedi spilled into their usual hidey holes in the smuggler ship, and the ship was boarded.

The Captain, Sharastra, managed to convince the Imperials that she was on her way to Javin, but her hyperdrive had blown coming into Ison. They bought a new shunt there, but only made it as far as Hoth before that, too, blew. They inspected pulled the hyperdrive shunt and, examining it, found evidence of tampering. They gave her a lecture on buying cheap, possibly stolen parts, told her the people she sold it to probably rigged it to blow near Hoth so they could come in and collect the ship after everyone starved, and sold her a new shunt at "Fair Value" from their stores. They gave her a warning, and left. The engineer installed the shunt, and they headed off to Bespin, figuring it was the closest advanced world the Rebels might flee to, if there were any Rebels left!

They came into Bespin, and noticed that the beacon for Tibannopolis was darkened, but they ignored it and landed on a landing pad on Cloud City. As they exited, Sharastra noticed the Slave I on a nearby pad and wondered what Boba Fett was doing in Cloud City. She knew him as a former bounty Hunter herself. They split up into three groups - Sharastra and her second, Delilah, the Jedis Duke and Daykon, and the Jedi Hosia and his Padawan Torota - to find out what had happened on Hoth, and where the rebels had gone to. Lyssia, Dindar, the Wookie co-pilot, and the Protocol/Assassin Droid G2S4 remained with the Albireo.

Sharastra and Delilah cornered a Bespin worker, who tole them that Vader was there and had taken over the city, and that Boba Fett was there to collect a gift from Lord Vader. They let him go and contacted the others. "Darth Vader is here!"

Duke and Daykon were walking through the city when they felt a metal-clad hand on their shoulders.  "The Force is strong in you. The last time I had seen you, you were about to destroy a Star Destroyer." said Darth Vader. There were two dozen Stormtroopers at his back. "Come along with me," he told them. "I have a proposition for you." They were taken down into the bowels of Cloud City. Their communicators chirped. "Lord Vader is here!" "Thank you, we know." answered Duke. Sharastra immediately contacted the others that Duke and Daykon were captured by Vader.

Duke and Daykon were brought to catwalk high above a huge room. "This," said Vader, "Is how I treat my enemies. Join with me, or enjoy the pleasures of carbonite." They watched a hoist lift a slab of carbonite from a pit. Protruding from the slab was part of the body of a man, his hands reaching out and his face contorted in sheer agony. Daykon flinched. "I will not work with you!" Duke, on the other hand, said "Carbonite looks very painful..." Duke was somewhat Dark already, and Vader knew it. Daykon started to walk away, when Vader said "Stop him, and earn your place at my side." Duke drew his lightsaber.

"you are drawing on me?" said Daykon. He hit Duke with a powerful stun. Duke fought through it, but had a significant penalty as his head rang and swam. Nonetheless he said "You want to surrender" and waved his hand at Daykon. Jedi mind tricks! Daykon fought, but couldn't resist the compulsion. An aide came up to Vader and whispered in his ear. "I have pressing duties." he said to Duke. "Finish this one, and I will meet with you on my return." Duke contacted Sharastra telepathically, telling her not to leave, and mentioning he was working with Vader. She immediately dropped the connection and told everyone else by communicator  that Duke had gone to the Dark side - he was always teetering - and that they were going to leave immediately.

When Vader had left, the two dozen Stormtroopers still surrounded them on the catwalk. Duke said to Daykon, waving his hand: "We have to get out of here," reversing his former trick. His mind fogged with pain, Duke was not up to facing down twenty-four Stormtroopers. Grabbing Duke, Daykon force-leapt through the steam and smoke of the carbonite pit, landing well on the other side, the Stormtroopers missing with every shot. (I rolled straight, not nerfing them for 'genre', they just completely failed!) He and Daykon found a lift and headed up to the living levels. Daykon contacting Delilah telepathically, and telling her that they were coming, and not to leave until they did.

Hosia and Torota force-questioned a Stormtrooper, who told them that Lord Lando Calrissian was working with Lord Vader to trap the Rebels leaders, and that Vader was currently in the mining area deep underneath the city. They headed down to the nearest lift, when Sharastra's call to leave immediately came through. "But what about the Rebel Leaders?" asked Torota. "Shouldn't we rescue them?" "We have to go! Sharastra won't wait!" They headed back to the landing pad.

Sharastra and Delilah got to the Albireo first, closely followed by Hosia and Torota. As they were running up the ramp, they all watched as the Slave I departed in a hail of blaster fire. "Maybe Fett is rescuing the Rebel Leaders!" said Torota. "I doubt that," said Sharastra darkly. They grabbed seats as Duke and Daykon came in, and they blasted away.

"When you told us to get ready," Lyssia told Sharastra, "I checked comm traffic. There are a couple of Star Destroyers in orbit that came in after we left. We'll never get out!" Sharastra remembered the darkened beacon. "We'll go to Tibannopolis - I think it's deserted. We can hide there." Sharastra did some neat piloting, and located Tibannopolis deep in a cloud bank. It was dark and lifeless looking. She parked the Albireo on a firm looking pad, and they all went to sleep, to wait out the Star Destroyers.

The Albireo groaned and shifted as they slept, waking everyone up. When they looked out the view ports, there were huge, two meter long feathers everywhere. Hosia left though the ramp, while Sharastra told Daykon to shoot the giant bird on top of them with the top turret gun. Instead, Daykon pumped loud music through the external speakers, frightening the bird away. As it leapt off, however, it overstrained the landing gear, which collapsed. Torota wormed her way out and joined her Master.

They went inside, where Hosia brought a public kiosk up to power. They encountered a flock of man-sized bird-things with sharp teeth, but were able to frighten them off. They returned to the Albireo, and told Sharastra what they had found. The Jedi combined to lift the Albireo up while Lyssia and Dindar built temporary supports to hold the ship up while they repaired the landing gear.

As the clouds lifted, Sharastra saw a small ship on another nearby platform. "Let's investigate that!"

End of session.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Star Wars-ish Explicated!

I'm gearing up now for another "season" of Star Wars-ish. As before, we are going on a radical re-interpretation of Lucas' opus: the original trilogy is the only canon. The Jedi were almost exterminated long ago - about eighty years, long enough for people to think of the Jedi as "some old religion". There are no midichlorians - the Force is a philosophical religion. Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader about 20 years ago. The extended Universe simply does not exist, as well as the second trilogy of films - Episodes 1 through 3.  Jedi of the Light are just as unbalanced as those using the Dark Side of the Force. Those using the Light Side do so because it gains them power - different but equal to the Dark Side. Jedi can choose to be neither, and can access both Dark and Light-Side powers, but but at a lower level than those committed to one side or the other overall.  The Empire is basically pro-human and rather racist about it.

We are using StarCluster 3 as a system, adapted to the setting, with the Force replacing PSI powers, but using those labels to enable us to use the CharGen unchanged. Ships are limited - no one uses missiles in StarWars - and using the optional dogfighting rules from In Harm's Way: StarCluster for small ships and fighters.

Right now I am Genning-up star systems. In StarWars, there is usually one world per system, but they usually mean one important world. The other worlds are simply ignored. I am creating full star systems in case the less important worlds in the system become  important to the game.

I would publish the rule-changes for StarWars-ish, but I don't know the limits for this - are things given away for free, but written for a specific publisher's system *by* a designer/publisher of that system considered fan-made? Does anyone know the limits of this?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Star Wars-ish, Redux!

The star map for our new "season" of Star Wars-ish. The PCs will begin, coming in to Hoth *just* after the Alliance has fled. This was adapted from a huge galactic map I found on the web - the stars retain their relative positioning - but I included jump lines as used in StarCluster.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Serendipity and Roleplaying

Had a great session in my Sunday IRC game today! The group are occult detectives in Victorian England. For rules, we are mashing up Blood Games II, OHMAS, and Sweet Chariot. The group has a detective; a human changeling returned from Faerie; a Savant, able to create pockets of space time using higher geometries, and the sister of the Changeling; a perpetually nine-year-old immortal; and a Doctor who occasionally and inexplicably heals people magically.

The Association had been hired by Sir Houslett Mews to clear his garden in Piccadilly of a group of pixies. They had met with the Fairies, and had begun negotiations to move them. We started off today's session with a spirited argument between the sisters, culminating in the Changeling taking on the form of a hound and running away into the night.

She decided to poke in at Sir Houslett's house. There she saw a group of men looking into the garden from the roof, and Sir Houslett talking to another man. In hound form, she meandered closer, to overhear their conversation. Sir Houslett was talking to a Professor Moriarty about sealing up the Pxie's sidhe. The Professor guaranteed that his team could do so, mentioning that they had sealed hundreds of sidhs.

Now a Fairy Sidhe is an extra-dimensional pocket - the same thing her sister created. Alarmed, she ran back to her sister. To make a long story short, the Detective and the Doctor managed to delay things long enough for the immortal to enter the Sidhe with an extra dimensional tunnel on a piece of cloth. Moriarty and his crew sealed the Sidhe, but they had a way out. There it ended.

Now here's the cool bit. The Sidhe was to be sealed by Moriarty this night. There was no reason for the group to go there - they had been there that very day. They *should* have gone there the next day or so, finding a garden with no Pixies. Because there was an argument in character between the sisters, the changeling left, angry. For no particular reason, she chose to go to Sir Houslett's. She went an hour after dinner, in time to overhear things, and in time to get the group into position fast enough to stop it.

Serendipity strikes again!