Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
– Max Ehrman, Desiderata
Again I’m moved to observe that potentially, much more goes on in Solo while you’re travelling between worlds than when you’re actually on them… but this time, it didn’t.
- Starport Encounter leaving Kamat (p. 39): Meet one of your contacts. No contacts on Kamat yet; being arrested hardly counts.
- Starship Encounter leaving Kamat (pp. 40-46): Mining derrick 600 dt. Ignores us, but polite.
- Onboard Events in jump (p. 56): Piracy or hijack. I just don’t see this. Piracy at the Confederation’s biggest naval base? That would be a bold choice; I think not. Hijacking? There are no passengers, and all the crew are already heading to where they want to go.
- PC Reaction Tables in jump (pp. 19-20): 5. I randomly determine Arion argues with Coriander.
- Starship Encounter arriving Irbev (pp. 40-46): Type T. Ignores us, but polite. That could be the Old Musky on her way back to Kamat, but since they are currently languishing some weeks behind Arion on the timeline, we’ll leave that be.
- Piracy warning arriving Irbev (p. 40): 10 – no.
- Starport Encounter arriving Irbev (p. 39): 63 – for the first time I notice that entries 61-65 are missing from the table. Let’s call that nothing out of the ordinary, then.
Dmitri enters the crew lounge to the sound of angry voices, and is nearly bowled over by Coriander flouncing out, or as close as she can get to flouncing in coveralls.
At the table, Arion sighs, head in hands.
“What was that about?” Dmitri asks.
Arion looks up and considers the question. “I have no idea,” he admits at length.
Dmitri moves to the galley and starts making coffee. “You really don’t, do you?” he asks, in surprise. “You know, if you’re going to be a spy, you need to work on your observation skills. You don’t have to be a mind-reader to figure this out.”
Dmitri sighs. “Okay, let’s look at a couple of key events… First, back on Gazzain, fighting the Dinobastis? Her friends get ripped apart, I try to get her to safety… and she calls your name and runs back to the fight to help you. Runs back towards ten tons of pissed-off cats with claws bigger than your survival knife.”
“In my defence, I was unconscious for a lot of that.”
“Fair enough. Second, though – and you were conscious for this – she left everything and everyone behind to travel off who knows where with us. Specifically, with you. No disrespect, but I can’t believe she wants to see Bulan that badly.”
“‘Oh’, indeed. We might reasonably infer she’s wondering if that was worthwhile, because you’re not paying any attention to her, despite the lascivious thoughts she claims to have noticed while reading your mind. So, unless you want her to leave at the next port of call, notice her. Pay some attention. And right now, whatever you were fighting about, whoever was right, go and apologise.”
Arion thinks about that for a moment, then gets up to do just that.
At first I had no idea what Arion and Coriander could be arguing about, so I decided to do it off-camera, with Dmitri walking in at the end. And then of course it became clear. When you’ve been running a group under Solo for a while, the random events and the narrative merge together, and you start to get the feeling you’re reporting on the story as it happens by itself.
We meet a lot of contacts that we don’t actually have yet. Mongoose Traveller and Cepheus Engine generate contacts for PCs during character generation, so if I were using one of those games, I could call on that cast of characters. (“Yes, that fellow agent from your second term has somehow washed up here. Pity you didn’t get on, really.”) There’s nothing stopping me rolling up a few random contacts to use that way, mind.
The closest thing to this in Savage Worlds is the Contacts rule from Daring Tales of the Space Lanes; once per session, one player can invent a Contact, which is a named NPC in a specific location. This NPC can provide small amounts of equipment, information or healing, but no more than that; they’re a weaker version of Connections, which in my experience players don’t want to spend an Edge on.
I’ll modify this with the negotiation rules from Red Markets. Here, as the players negotiate with their patron, they attempt to improve the terms of the deal by playing on the patron’s weak spots. They find these out in flashback by narrating how they use a specific skill to get the necessary information from a background NPC. (“So I’m going to say I know a small-time local dealer called Jimmy the Weed, and he’d know if she’s using drugs. Before we came in here for the meeting, I used my Intimidation to get him to spill the beans. Hah, success with a raise!”)