Shoot Outs

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This session of Traveller saw us test out the combat system, with a couple of shoot outs. It was something I was wanting to try out with the rules, since though I don’t want combat to be a major factor in the campaign, I want to be able to run it smoothly when it does come up. I was probably a bit on the gentle side, which meant that things went really well for the players, but in both instances there were only two characters in the fight and I didn’t want to kill them off at this stage because of a misunderstanding of the rules.

I’ve added the maps I used to the collection for the campaign.

175-1105 : Splitting the Party

Khadashi and Zanobia had gone off to investigate where the locator signals for the missing crew seemed to be, leaving Shinzaro behind to look after the ship. Sensible, but it meant that the party was now split.

I started things with Shinzaro, who got a notification from the ship’s security systems that someone had tried, and failed, to open the main passenger ramp. Looking out on the cameras, she spotted a couple of men dressed as starport mechanics trying to get in. When they began trying to hot wire the access panel, she put in a call to starport security.

Meanwhile, the other two had spotted what looked like an old shipping container half overgrown with vegetation sitting outside a cave mouth between two of the waterfalls.

Obviously, much as the players guessed, there was one of the dinosaur like animals that had been mentioned using the shipping container as nest. Shotguns made short work of the mother. I’d spent some time worrying about how tough to make these, but both PCs rolled well to hit, and got high damage rolls.

The father came charging out of the cave, and they weren’t so lucky with him. Zanobia’s first shot just cut across his back, and it got around the tree Khadashi was hiding behind and into melee. He dropped his shotgun and drew a cutlass, trying to fend it off but it managed to take a bite out of him despite his cloth armour (though without the cloth, it would have been a lot worse).

The Roll20 combat APIs seemed to work, allowing attacks and damage rolls to be done in one click, which was convenient for me. It does require that everyone has their weapon statistics on their character sheet though.

Zanobia manoeuvred around and put a shotgun slug through its mouth, putting it down. I had added the optional rules (from the Companion book) to make death a bit less deadly (and I think a bit more realistic – rather than having everyone dead at 0 hit points).

I hadn’t meant for these to kick in for creatures, which meant that creatures were pretty much always getting the least deadly option when they died. Something I need to fix.

The first aid rules turned out to be very generous, and Zanobia patched Khadashi back together as good as new.

It was decided that though they could probably get some cash for the eggs on the black market, it wasn’t worth their while.

Searching the cave, they found some evidence of habitation some months ago, as well as ropes, bindings and the odd tool which suggested at least one person had been imprisoned here and maybe tortured.

They also located the chewed remains of the final crew member, shot and left as food for scavengers. The tracking locators were here also, but there were no clues of who had done this.

Meanwhile, back at the ship, the two trying to break in scarpered at the first signs of security services, who were polite but not hugely enthusiastic about following up on trying to find where the two had gone.

By the time the party were reunited, it was time to try to confront whoever has been watching them.

Zanobia and Shinzaro make up a fake suicide vest for Khadashi, and he and the Vargr headed back to the apartments with a plan to try and use diplomacy, but with a threat of a suicide switch if that didn’t work.

By now though, whoever had been there had departed. The only clue were some discarded burger wrappers for Sloppy Joe’s in the bin – a burger bar located in the same part of the city where the first shoot out had occured.

That evening, they headed out onto the streets, and spotted one of the guys they’d been threatened by before lurking at the end of an alley. As he wandered back along it, they followed. This led into the main combat of the evening, and an encounter I was having some concerns about.

Since Zanobia was staying at the ship, there were only two PCs, and they’d decided not to take any guns in case they ran into police. They were wearing cloth armour though under their jackets – obvious and suspicious if anyone took a good look at them, but not illegal.

Following the man into the alley, they of course ran into a trap, running into four opponents. The first two weren’t armoured and were only using stunners, but when they failed to take the PCs down, a couple more who had heavier guns and decent armour decided to use more violent means.

I deliberately started things gently, because I had no idea how the fight would play out, bu the PCs rolled well and weren’t really threatened, so I upped things a bit with the second two opponents. Shinzaro turned out to be really effective in grappling – and the grapple rules are really generous towards anyone with an unarmed melee skill, and make disarming really easy.

I did get the stun rules wrong, and when we got the right tracking stun damage was tricky so I’ll need a way to handle that better. Overall though the rules are pretty straight forward. There were the odd moment where I felt that the more complex rules of something like Pathfinder would have made things easier – there are no rules for charging, or for readied actions for example, both of which came up. But they a big improvement (for me) over something like Blades in the Dark which is even more light weight. We’ll probably house rule things as time goes on, and tighten a few things up.

But things went better for the players then I thought they would (and probably better than they should have), and by the time the police were showing up they had downed their opponents with captured stunners, and dragged off an injured and unconscious one.

A decent Streetwise check later, and they’ve got to somewhere safe where their can bind wounds (for themselves and their captured opponent), but they need to somehow get back to the ship without raising suspicion. That is something for them to figure out next time.

Samuel Penn