Arion, Episode 85: Cyan Way Station

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Behind the Curtain


SWADE encounters occur once per day in “dangerous or lawless” territory, and Cyan is an Amber Zone so I figure it’s dangerous, although at law level 9 it can hardly be called lawless. Drawing seven cards gives us JD, QD, 10C, 5S, 9D, 2H, 4C. As per SWADE page 144, only face cards and up trigger an encounter, and diamonds are “treasure” – the party finds something of value, although this may be guarded. I infer from the examples in the rulebook that I’m supposed to make something up based on the local environment.

Cyan’s world profile is C5689B9–A, it’s a High population world with an Imperial Scout Way Station on the xboat route. That suggests the valuables are either people or information, so I roll 1d6 for a 50/50 chance of either – the Jack is info, and the Queen is a person. Our next stop is Perrior, which is a naval base but not on the xboat route, so I decide there are some urgent despatches to be hand-delivered to the base there and the Dolphin is the fastest way to get them to it – sure, there are higher-jump vessels, but they aren’t any faster for a two parsec jump.

That logically makes the person a junior naval officer, let’s say female as the card was a Queen; I turn to page 112, grab the Soldier statblock and roll 1d20 for her personality – 19, Cowardly. Let’s call her Irem Tosun, because I like using Turkish names for my NPCs. It seems most likely her value is as a connection. I don’t have to decide what the info is yet, but Lt. Tosun is guarding it…

Cyan, Week 23, 1105


“Hmm. This doesn’t bode well,” says Arion as he powers down the flight systems. “We have priority clearance for refuelling and stores replenishment.”

“And this is a problem because?” asks Coriander.

“Because we ought to be at the back of the queue – we’ve only just landed and we’re not that important.”

“Speak for yourself.”

“Incoming priority message from Cyan Tower,” says the Dolphin. “Putting it on speaker.”

“IISS Dolphin, Cyan Tower. We have a priority passenger for Perrior, you are hereby reactivated and cleared for immediate turnaround and routing outsystem to Perrior. Passenger will board in minutes one five. Stand by for refuelling.”

“Cyan Tower, Dolphin, acknowledged,” Arion replies, and gestures for the channel to be closed.

“Lucky we’re going to Perrior anyway,” Dmitri says. “Doesn’t sound like we have much choice.”

“No,” agrees Arion. “I’m a reactivated detached duty scout in a scoutship being ordered to do something by the scout service. Not much wriggle room there. We sent them our flight plan, manifest, status and whatnot on the way in, standard protocol – not that they would care about where we want to go. Hey, Dolphin, send them a shopping list, would you?”

“Done.”

A few minutes pass as assorted drones force-feed the ship liquid hydrogen and crates of supplies.

“They rejected our request for Jamaica Blue Mountain and are sending Service coffee instead,” says the Dolphin. “And our guest has arrived.”

“Bleh. Oh well, it was worth a try. Come on, gang, let’s go meet the self-loading cargo.”

The passenger proves to be a nervous-looking young woman with a duffel bag in a Navy Lieutenant’s uniform, who salutes awkwardly and removes her cap.

“Lieutenant Irem Tosun, Imperial Navy,” she says crisply. “Permission to come aboard, Captain?” Although from the way she looks around it is not easy to tell who the captain is, between two leather jackets and a sleeveless shirt. She’s used to clothes with rank badges on them.

“Welcome aboard, Lieutenant,” Arion smiles, and points around the circle of crew as introduction. “I’m Arion – that’s Dmitri – and this is Coriander. Cori, would you show the Lieutenant to her stateroom please? We’ll get ready to lift.” This is hardly necessary as her stateroom is only a few metres away and clearly visible, but as they agreed earlier, it gives Cori a chance to size the passenger up and start building rapport. The men disappear out of her way.

“What is that smell?” the Lieutenant asks. It’s actually the smell of long occupancy by a grath, but Cori chooses not to burden her with that knowledge just yet. “Oh,” she says instead, “We haven’t used that one for a few months, it’ll soon freshen up.”

GM Notes


As my main objective here is to familiarise with SWADE, each episode should introduce some rules I haven’t used. This time, encounters, and you can see why I think they need some extra help; to be fair, SWADE isn’t designed for this sort of play, although it doesn’t take much to use it solitaire, and as a generic set of rules it can’t go into much detail on random encounters without becoming biased towards a particular genre.

Turkish names have a feeling of authenticity which you only get from real-world languages, while being exotic enough to remind the players they’re not in Kansas any more.

I did consider creating a homebrew subsector for Team Dolphin, but if you look at the route from Cyan to Noricum, it has about 20 worlds, of which only about half have any sort of writeup in the Trojan Reach supplement (Pirates of Drinax, Book 2), which is what I’m using at the moment. So I have enough opportunities for creative worldbuilding, and it’s not like stats rolled up by someone else are inherently better or worse than ones I might roll up.

I’m not one for hyper-detailing worlds anyway, because most adventures I run focus on interactions between characters, with world details just being a backdrop painted with broad brush strokes.

So, inertia rises triumphant, as usual.

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