Arion, Episode 59: Defend


One last short burst upon failing feet –
There life lay waiting, so sweet, so sweet,
Rest in a darkness, balm for aches.
The earth was stopped. It was barred with stakes.
– John Masefield, Reynard the Fox
New Hope City, September ’01

Now we’re up to scenario 11 of the published campaign, which I’ll assume is the involuntary encounter at the start of month 9.

“You were right,” Arion says quietly. “It is a nice change to be off the ship for a few days.”

“Mm-hmm,” says Coriander, half-awake. “Osheen’s mind is weird, it’s like there are thousands of bugs or something instead of a human mind. It’s tiring.”

There is a pause.

“What’s that noise?” asks Coriander.

Arion cocks his head to listen, then reaches for his 12.5mm and definitely not GP standard issue pistol.

“I think someone’s trying to get in,” he says. “Get ready, quietly though.”

Coriander shakes her head to clear it and reaches under the bed, emerging with an assault rifle with a folding stock, for the female of the species is more deadly than the male. The pair slip out of bed and pad over to the door; Arion has a hand free, so takes the handle and gently opens it.

They burst into the lounge to find two shadowy figures tip-toeing across it.

It’s night, so everyone is in cover. The tables on page 62 and a couple of dice rolls tell me that this is a pair of unarmed Rep 4 blue-collar workers from Lower Hope, one basic and one zhuh-zhuh.

Arion passes 2d6 (not hard, he is effectively Rep 8) and the opposing leader passes 0d6. However, the would-be assailants have advantage – this is only used to break ties, so Arion and Cori go first and open fire. Arion puts one shot on each, and Cori puts one into the basic and two into the zhuh-zhuh, which is bigger and more menacing. Arion misses once, hits once, and the zhuh-zhuh ducks back. Cori misses the basic because he is in cover, and since the zhuh-zhuh has ducked back, she can’t hit it.

The night is torn by flashes from the guns; the basic is unhurt, and the zhuh-zhuh, grazed, ducks back around the door into the corridor outside.

As the active side has now finished its actions, both sides take the Will to Fight test. Everyone passes 2d6, so the fight continues. The Joes now activate and charge into melee, as they have no guns with which to return fire. The basic leader charges Arion, and the zhuh-zhuh charges Cori. This is a bad idea as Our Heros get to shoot while the Joes are closing. Arion hits once and misses once, and the basic is Out Of the Fight. Cori hits twice, and the zhuh-zhuh ducks back – just as well, the second hit would have killed it. We now take another Will to Fight check; Arion passes 1d6 (even at Rep 8, a 6 always fails), the zhuh-zhuh passes 1d6, and suddenly everyone wants to leave the battle board. Since both sides leave at the same time, I decide neither is defeated, so neither suffers Decreasing Rep d6.

With a roar, the two intruders try to charge into melee. Arion cuts the basic down, and the zhuh-zhuh is grazed again and ducks back into the corridor a second time.

Arion quickly assesses the situation. An unknown number of attackers, apparently trying to capture them for unknown reasons since they are not using weapons, and not deterred by being shot at. There could be more outside, but the ones in here aren’t giving up. He smashes the window with his pistol and triggers the fire escape, risking a quick glance outside. No sign of anyone waiting for them, no-one shooting at him from outside. Worth taking a risk.

“Cori!” Arion yells over the screams and gunfire. “WE. ARE. LEAVING!” It’s the work of seconds for both to dive out of the window, slide down the ladder, and flee into the night. Thankfully, nobody is waiting for them. Arion taps his commlink.

Dolphin,” he orders, “Emergency pickup at my location. Send the gravsled and Mr Osheen. We’re being attacked, I don’t know how many of them there are or what they’re armed with. I saw two, one is down and Cori winged another.” He thinks for a moment. “Call the police and an ambulance, but we’re not waiting for them.”

They fall back at speed through alleyways towards the starport, covering each other in turn.

“What the hell was that all about?” Cori gasps as they run.

Character Updates

Arion has 3 DRD (ship maintenance) and one IRD for putting a foe OOF; current total for the month, -2. The others will each get one IRD as wages from Arion’s total at the end of the month, if he can afford it, so he needs to score at least 5 IRD before then or start losing Grunts. See GM notes for details.

  • Arion: Rep 7 Spaceship Crew, Quick Reflexes, Resilient. B2, P1, melee, SBA. Lifetime Rep: 10.
  • Coriander: Rep 5 Doctor, Free Spirit. A3, melee, SBA. Lifetime Rep: 8.
  • Dmitri: Rep 4 Investigator, Smooth. B2, P1, melee, SBA. Lifetime Rep: 5.
  • Osheen: Rep 3 Grath Mercenary, Rage, A3, melee, SBA. Lifetime Rep: -3.
GM Notes

Notice that combat involves a lot of attacks per turn, that even if you are a bona fide action hero (Rep 6 and up) you can still miss, and that even if you’re winning, the dice can decide you want to leave the fight.

I’m switching Coriander and Dmitri to Grunts. From discussion with the author on the THW Forum (recently moved so you may need to update your link), it looks like the following is the case:

  • The Star gets the ship maintenance DRD, and also gets the IRD from completing jobs or selling salvage.
  • The Star pays each Grunt one IRD from his total at the end of each month. If he can’t pay, the Grunt leaves, and the Star gets one DRD in bad press.
  • IRD for defeating foes, negotiation etc go to whichever character does the work – the Star is free to choose which follower does what, to make best use of their abilities.

Now they are Grunts, Dima and Cori only have one attribute each. Browsing the tables on pages 14-15, I’m happy with Arion’s Quick Reflexes and Resilient, and will leave Cori and Dima with Free Spirit and Smooth respectively.

I did think about introducing skills, but they are optional, and not using them doesn’t seem to be causing any problems. Maybe later.

We’re not doing any interstellar movement this month, so episode 60 will move us to encounter 12 from the published campaign; it looks like encounters 11-13 are all part of the same campaign month, so there is time to get those 5 Increasing Rep dice yet.

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