Arion, Episode 56: Balestra

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“When our race has reached its ultimate achievements, and the stars themselves are scattered no more widely than the seed of Adam, even then we shall still be like ants crawling on the face of the Earth. The ants have covered the world, but have they conquered it – for what do their countless colonies know of it, or of each other?” – Arthur C. Clarke
Deep Space, June ’01


We’ve already assumed Episode 55 (encounter 9 in the published campaign) was the involuntary encounter at the start of June. The next official encounter, 10, finds us in deep space near a world in Ring 7.

I could go back to New Hope and then head out again, but it’s faster to use this month’s interstellar movement to head directly to Ring 7, then insert a Chillin’ encounter on the new planet I have dubbed Balestra where we pick up the job for encounter 10.

“Captain,” says the Dolphin, “While I was… interacting with the Ardent’s computer, I… learned about a situation in Ring 7.”

“Do I want to know what you mean specifically by ‘interacting’ and ‘learned about’?” enquires Arion.

“Probably not.”

“I thought so. You’re going to get us in trouble someday. Well, if they ever do catch you, they’ll assume we know whatever it is, so you may as well tell us.”

“There’s a Class 3 planet called Balestra trying to gain its independence from the Zhuh-Zhuh.”

A couple of quick dice rolls tell me this is a Basic-controlled colony with Law Level 1.

“So are these terrorists or freedom fighters?”

“Depends who you ask.”

“Well, we’re halfway there, and I have no plans this month, so we may as well take a look.”

“You told the Ardent we were inbound for New Hope,” Coridander says.

“At the time, we were. Now we’re not.”

Note that because we are just moving, not moving as part of a job, there are no PEFs to resolve. Page 26 says I should roll to see whether I get an encounter, and what kind, but I override this and force a die roll of 6 to get a Chillin’ encounter. That ends the month so we need to resolve increasing and decreasing Rep d6.

Balestra Starport, June ’01


“This looks a lot like Berengei’s”, Dmitri says as the crew enter a bar in Balestra starport.

“It also appears to be a general store, barracks and air traffic control,” Coriander points out. “And judging by the noise upstairs, I’m tempted to add ‘brothel’ to that list.”

“You get that kind of efficient use of space on new colonies,” Arion explains.

There are four PEFs in the bar, and I need to expend one to get a job offer. For each PEF, I roll 2d6 (for profession) and 1d6 (for race) on the Class 3 Planet table on page 28; our group size (3) + 1d3 – 1d3 to see how many there are; then use the first few rows of the Packing Table on page 29 to check what they’re packing; and finally check the Rep Generator on page 15 to find out their Reps. This tells me that in the bar we find: Two Rep 3 Basic Exotics with Auto weapons, four zhuh-zhuh Labourers (Rep 5, 4, 4, 3), two Rep 3 Basic Labourers, and three more zhuh-zhuh labourers (Rep 3, 4, 4) – all the labourers are unarmed. The humans should have their attributes resolved as well but ain’t nobody got time for dat. This all takes quite a while; the authors advise either pre-generating a load of PEFs before starting the campaign or using the ones they provide later in the book, and I resolve to use those in future.

“We could be here all night,” mutters Coriander, before scanning the bar psionically. “You want those two,” she says to Arion, “Corner table, your ten o’clock. They’ve got guns.”

“Pfft. We’ve all got guns.”

“Yes, but theirs are very big and nasty, and neither of them really knows what they’re doing.”

Before Arion can make any overtures, though, the senior of the two approaches.

“You’d be the crew of that trader that just landed,” he says. Arion sees no point in denying this, he and his crew are clearly not locals and there’s only one ship on the pad – his.

“Yes, we would. Is there a problem?”

“More of an opportunity. President Rizal is looking for someone with a ship to interdict the planet. We’ve got smugglers, zhuh-zhuh military and hishen slavers buzzing the colony, and they show us no respect. He’s going to change that.”

Arion looks at his crew before replying. “Sounds interesting. Take me to your leader.” He grins. “I always wanted to say that.”

Character Updates


We have three decreasing Rep d6 carried over, and get one increasing Rep d6 this time for interacting – Arion has an extra one left over from episode 55. So Arion is rolling one DRD (he scores a 5 and is OK), and the others are rolling two DRD (Cori scores 3 and 4, Dima 3 and 6, as nobody rolls a 1, their Reps are intact, but their Lifetime Reps – the total Rep d6 rolled over time – are still falling, and that is how we keep score in this game).

We will enter episode 57 with 3 DRD (ship upkeep) and one IRD (for taking a job from an Exotic).

  • Arion: Rep 7 Spaceship Crew, Quick Reflexes, Resilient. BAP2, P1, melee, SBA. Lifetime Rep: 10.
  • Coriander: Rep 5 Doctor, Free Spirit, Smooth. A3, melee, SBA. Lifetime Rep: 11.
  • Dmitri: Rep 4 Investigator, Logical, Smooth. BAP2, P1, melee, SBA. Lifetime Rep: 8.
  • Rep d6 for episode 57: 3 decreasing (ship upkeep), 1 increasing (job).
GM Notes


In fencing, a ‘balestra’ is a jump forward used to adjust the range before you lunge at your foe; it seems an appropriate name, given what this post is doing.

I have been religiously keeping track of places Arion has been and NPCs he has met, but you know what, I don’t have to and it’s a waste of time and effort. This is turning out to be a classic hub-and-spoke campaign, and in those you need to keep track of NPC’s at the hub (New Hope City), but not the ones elsewhere, because as Heinlein put it, “When the ship lifts, all debts are paid.”

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