Tides are turning

So. The group has thus far been successful in all their endeavours. They have successfully executed each and every plan and mission, not always perfectly certainly, but with style, flair and luck.

So this last session only 4 of the 6 players could show, the most “predictable” and “pacifist” players/characters. At least, up till now that’s been the case. The four are: Che the cathar burglar, Mr. Maverick the swashbuckler, Ghia the doctor and Blue the force sensitive assassin.

First off: they are on a series of missions for some unknown character/faction. These missions have entailed putting surveillance software in central computers that belong to their, up until now, main employer. They are doing this because this unknown party knows stuff about them, secret and damning stuff. So they choose to follow these instructions, come what may.

The previous session they successfully installed a data spike at the base they frequent, with some dungeon delving and treasure hunting. Good fun.

So this session they had to locate and board the capital ship of their employer – a ship the group gave/donated to their employer after a series of missions where they looted this ship, and met some zombies.

So how do you locate a secret ship belonging to your employer? I guess various strategies can be employed, but these four decided (after much back and forth) that they would seek an audience with their employer – which they haven’t met many times and usually deal with through intermediaries. They are granted an audience on Nar Shaddaa. They meet up and offer their services once more, as lately he has had only a few jobs for them.

About their employer: His name is Burukut, he’s a Bothan and he’s odd. He collects old stuff, artefacts of a religious nature. The few times they’ve met him he’s been jovial, forthcoming and generally a nice guy. Now his attitude is different. While always stylishly dressed, he now wears layers upon layers of robes, smokes death sticks and is generally more manic and distracted. He has no job, but he does mention the fact that he wants more artefacts. “Artefacts of power” he calls them.

Che and Maverick thinks he’s just a crazy megalomaniac, you know, the normal crime lord stuff – perhaps a bit more eccentric. but nothing else. Blue is force sensitive – but knows only that she can sense living beings and sometimes get a good impression of their feelings and thoughts. Ghia is sort of aware of this, but knows little to nothing about this side of the universe. So the force sensitive is practically alone and without direction. Blue has gathered that her power lets her sense “good” and “bad” stuff in people and objects, so when she notices that an old archaic data disc Burukut shows them is somehow “tainted” or has some residue of “darkness” on it, she decides to prod Burukut with her senses. The result is darkness, burnt, oily darkness. Burukut also looks her straight in the eyes, curiously and manically, but says nothing.

Later during the meeting, which ends with them getting names of old and forgotten planets, empires and such, she prods his thoughts: greed, darkness, certainty, insecurity and a thirst for power… and curiosity about her. Blue is rightly disconcerted by this.

As the meeting ends they have a job, a job with no deadline – and no definite reward (which is ok, because they are doing this only to get to the ship which they need to bug). They are to find any old (authentic) artefact. For instance going back to an earlier job, where they stole a Tuk’ata horn, they left behind an old, white stone tablet with some odd inscriptions on, they left it behind in their scrambled escape from a mean security man with a heavy repeating blaster.

So they return to the planet, Tholatin, and under the same disguise as last time Maverick and Blue enters the building (the group usually split up so that someone is always “innocent” in case something bad happens, and a get-away pilot parked somewhere far off is better than just outside, timing is everything in this group, not always good timing, but timing). They are still interested in buying artefacts, despite the bomb threat that broke off the last viewing (their previous burglary). When up there, they also see more relics that Blue gets a “vibe” off of. A sword, a hilt (lightsaber), the stone tablet, an armour, an amulet, and some hand jewellery/bracelets. While viewing the items Blue decides to let their two partners outside know that they’ve found what they came for, and that they should bring the ship about outside. Half an hour later, as the starship leaves the hangar, Blue attacks the only present aide – he throws himself on the floor, wets himself and begs for mercy. Simultaneously Maverick disables power on their level. Long story short, they make their escape with some of the items – basically the tablet and the stuff that could fit in their pockets. This time also being shot at, by 4 not 1 security guards with heavy blaster rifles. Minions eh?

Now. So far so good. Not too uncommon for my players, not unexpected. It’s been a lot of planning (they plan and think more than do sometimes…) exciting, some shooting and acrobatics jumping out a window hundreds of meters off the ground and into a hovering rust bucket. Great stuff. One almost fell even.

Drama. Mr. Maverick is not happy with his two female companions who has suddenly decided that it’s not a good idea to give the tablet to Burukut (and how they can “magically” discern which artefacts fits the bill – he sees no recognisable pattern beyond “old” in the stuff they’ve stolen, and he doesn’t buy the “educated” argument Ghia is using – which doesn’t apply [as far as he knows/suspects] to Blue anyway). The tablet’s inscription does mention the force and some odd proverb or something related to it. Blue has also told Ghia, about her reading of Burukut. After deciphering the tablet they decided its a bad idea to give it to Burukut.

Here we suddenly have a social combat encounter where Maverick is coercing, while Ghia (and partly Blue) is deceiving, in order to get at the truth, or keep the truth from being uttered – it’s quite a heated moment, raised voices and insinuating bad stuff, secrets and so on. In the end Blue succumbs – after some good arguments about hunted religious sects, imperial entanglements, trust issues and the like – and tells the three present that she sometime ago discovered her ability to sense living things, and light and darkness. This section could be a lot longer because it was a lot going on, but its hard to remember it all, and … well. It was an emo-moment, lots of secrets were told and everyone is now suddenly even more dependant upon each other. And good friends…?

After their hasty escape, and a short chase and encounter with some z-95s, they make their escape and after the little bit of intrigue above, they meet up with Burukut and his capital ship. Aboard it they’re taken to a cabin where they will wait until they have ended their hyperspace journey – wherever that goes – and then they will be taken to Burukut.

Now their mission can be done. First Blue slithers through the ventilation system towards the cargo bay to find some evidence they’re supposed to plant. At the same time Che goes searching for an artefact called Crado’s Key which he knows Burukut possesses, and which he needs to acquire for his masters back home on Cathar (this is only backstory stuff, not obligation, but good stuff anyway). He finds it (produces 2 triumphs on a roll, its there… in the room.. but?) and Burukut. It hangs around the neck of Burukut. He decides to bide his time and “acquire” it at some later date.

Meanwhile Blue has found the evidence to be planted, and also found a great place to inject the data spike, plus the victim on which the evidence (some oddly marked code cylinder) is to be placed – oooh what an elaborate scheme. Blue kills the victim (with some effort) and places the evidence on him.

At this point I should have mentioned that earlier they realised that since so many parties have interest in Burukut’s activities, they could program their own spike, which will send whomever sends a certain signal, the location of Burukut and his ship. This information they can sell. Contrary to the spirit of this game, I made that computer check in secret – the players agreed and thought it a good idea, to prevent meta-gaming. Tension when I gather all the dice and roll it in secret. 1 word: Despair, I kid you not, I did not fudge the roll (and I sometimes to fudge I must admit, it happens, sue me), this time I felt it appropriate not to… (side note: this system produces far less fudgable moments so far).

Later during the journey, Che goes again back to where he saw Burukut meditate with the artefact. Burukut is gone, and Che enters the room, searches it, but comes up empty-handed… He then locates a safe, manages to open this, and – due to a series of Triumphs amongst other things – the Key is there. He takes it, ignoring the fact that he rolled 3 threats on the skulduggery check… I just kept quiet and made a note of it.

Shortly after Che’s return to the cabin, they’re called on to meet with Burukut. They go to him, and deliver the bracelets – these were deemed the least dangerous to hand to him. He is disappointed, but cannot stay like that for long. For as the ship leaves hyperspace everything goes crazy. The ship looses control, the manoeuvring thrusters fire randomly and the communication array sends signals in all directions – basically: chaos and malfunction. Remember that despair? Yes. So they’re “excused” and they leave the audience. Happy, thinking “job well done”. They now only have to wait for the message to depart – only slightly disconcerted by the fact that the ship is going crazy.

Now comes the threats from the Cathar’s burglary. Suddenly all the blast doors on the ship close down, capturing and confining the group. A screaming Burukut curses “that blasted cat” for trying – a second time – to steal from him. Che disappears up into the ventilation system, like a cat out of a bathtub. The rest of the group is then cornered by six guards. This is also the point which the crew of the ship realise that their security chief is dead – and allegedly the culprit in some slicing and computer mess up. Although, of course, it is unknown who killed him… with bladed weapons too. Ting bladed, pointy weapons. Does this mean that there are assassins and thieves aboard?

The remaining three are taken back to Burukut, who explains this “mystery” and points at them. He gives them one chance to prove their loyalty, by capturing Che and bring him before Burukut. They agree. Accompanied by six guards, they start by looking in the cabin – while Che is communicating with them over the comm, telling them to lead the guards to the hangar bay.

At this point the four also receive a voice message, stating basically that they’ve botched the job and has been “cut off” – from whomever gave them this job to begin with.

They bring the guards to the ship and in short order neutralise them. Now, this far things has been “normal”, my players have reacted in their more or less usual manner. Suddenly though, Ghia, the pacifist doctor (slightly paranoid and manic of course, but usually non-violent and calm) decides that the best course of action is to take Burukut out now, when he is vulnerable, with few guards, no crew to speak of and so on. After a small committee meeting they agree and go off to kill/neutralise their employer – who already has it in for them, or at least the Cathar. I’m left feeling perplexed, surprised and worried. This is so unlike her, Ghia that is. I mean, this way I could kill off any PCs I didn’t like – but there are none – and … I could still kill them off by accident, which isn’t desirable… still, I can’t just let them kill off my main villain, my main man Burukut. He turned out different than planned, but he’s still my main man… sort of.

Burukut is of course force sensitive, evil and crazy (something that, if any of the players read this, was decided before this session in fact). After succeeding and failing a few fear checks, they finally find him after he causes a lot of strain on Blue through force use. They wound him twice, even scoring a critical hit (result 14 is negligible though). He retaliates by throwing Maverick into Ghia and then, after suffering more wounds, decides to make his escape through the ever-present “villain escape-tube”.

So, now everybody hates them, has cut them off or wants them dead. Their obligation to Burukut has gone from debt to bounty (or a new one I’ve been considering some of the players’ suggestions: Nemesis or Vendetta?) and increased dramatically. I don’t foresee them spending XP the next few sessions. At least it wasn’t a party wipe, which it could have been, and I didn’t lose my main villain, which would’ve been bad.

So there you have it, all in a night’s work.

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