Space Rhinos and Art

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After a week’s break due to WorldCon, we’re back to our regular Friday night Traveller game on Roll20. I have been working on how to make it easy to roll skills, by setting up some macros for people. The colours of each button match the colours of each physical characteristic value on a token which is used for damage tracking.

Unfortunately, though I can set this up for me, they aren’t seen by the players automatically – each player has to enable each macro button themselves, and order and colour them. So that didn’t work.

The macros themselves work though, and each characteristic provides a drop down menu of the skills that can be used with that characteristic.

Since it will look for a token owned by the current player if no tokens are selected, it should be really convenient for people to use without having to open up the character sheet. Since I’m planning on running some Traveller for a group of new players soon, I was hoping this would be zero setup effort. I may have to switch to having them as token actions, so at least they’ll automatically appear when the player selects their token.

The macro also allows Normal, Boon and Bane rolls to be selected. I didn’t bother with DMs, since they’re easy enough to calculate after the roll has been made. Once players had them setup though, they seemed to work well (despite me having missed a couple of skills).

182-1105: Tying up loose ends

The Travellers have a destination in mind – Colchis, 2 parsecs away, as well as a cargo and a couple of paying passengers. However, there’s one more thing they wanted to investigate, which was the warehouse where the original gun fight between the Perfect Stranger’s original crew and the other gang happened.

I’d never planned for anything to actually be here, it just a place which had been used as a meeting point because it was suitably deserted. I didn’t want to make it entirely uninteresting though, and I’d happened across something interesting earlier in the day whilst looking something else up.

To shortcut the whole sorting out how to get back to the city thing, I had the rebels offer them a lift into the city. Shinzaro and Khadashi went, leaving Zanobia behind at the ship. Zanobia wanting to avoid anything that might result in a gun fight could turn out to be a problem at some point, since in my experience two PCs in a fight can be risky. If one goes down, not only is firepower halved, but there’s no-one to try and stabilise or drag into cover the downed PC.

Previously when the Travellers had geared up, I hadn’t been able to find what the restrictions were on armour. Traveller provides a Law Level for each world (as part of the UWP), but we’d only found a list of weapons that this prohibited. I’d now found a definition that included a list of armour types, so the armour they’d worn previously was illegal (I’d previously ruled it as being legal but highly suspicious). So they took some weapons and armour in bags rather than wearing it more openly this time.

The Red Mountain warehouse was at the edge of the residential district, where it merged into an industrial area. The housing (in blue on the map) was low quality, and could definitely be described as a ‘rough’ area. There were some light industrial commercial buildings (orange) and the warehouse itself (red).

Since I wasn’t expecting any combat to happen, and I didn’t want to dwell too long on something which was going to be a dead end, I let them wander around and explore the area without running into any trouble. At any rate, it was probably the sort of place where if you saw someone acting suspiciously, you kept your head down and ignored it.

The warehouse was rundown, with some broken windows up top which could be reached via fire escapes. There were some lights on inside the building, so it was possibly occupied. Out front was a large civilian vehicle, a sort of mini-van with six heavy wheels and looking somewhat strange in design.

Khadashi decided to go and puncture its tyres to prevent whoever was inside from escaping. This made sense given that I think the players were expecting this to a base of operations for the people who had caused them trouble, but wouldn’t have been a good choice, so when we went over to carry out the plan I tried to make it clear that this was probably something else entirely different.

The vehicle appeared to be designed for a non-human, with no seats, heavy controls at the front and very large side doors. The first thing that came to their mind was maybe a K’Kree – a six limbed centaur-like creature, but they are found all the way over the other side of the Imperium.

Phoning in for ideas from Zanobia, she suggested (after a pretty decent Science – Sophontology check) that it might be designed for a Virushi – a sort of one tonne eight limbed rhinos that come from somewhere a lot closer. Though they’re known for pacifism, Khadashi decided not to slash the tyres.

A bit of climbing around on the roof, all they could see was that this probably used to be some sort of factory but the machinery has long since been removed. There was also a large rhino-like creature walking around and taking notes.

So they went back down and went inside to talk to it. The Virushi is very welcoming, since trespass is something Virushi don’t have much understanding of. Not only are they pacifists, but they tend to greatly dislike authority and being told what to do.

Narshooruba, as the Virushi introduces himself as, is a mechanic checking out the current state of the machinery here, since the company is thinking about re-opening the place. There may have been a bit of a fight here a while back, but he doesn’t know much about that, but the Travellers are welcome to take a look around.

Apart from some more old, greasy wrappers from Sloppy Joe’s burgers, and some binders containing HR training material, there isn’t much of interest to be found in the place. So a dead end, but they got to talk to an interesting alien.

Outside, they decide to ask around in the commercial buildings, where there are some people finishing up for the evening. One of the people is working on some welding, which turns out to be some artwork. Khadashi quickly makes friends by showing interest (and actually having an art skill), and buys a piece of artwork for a 100Cr, but to the delight of the artist.

The artist is more than happy to talk about things, and mentions yes there was a group that sometimes used the warehouse but he didn’t know much about them. One thing he does mention is that they had a Neubayern accent. So maybe the PCs have got a bit of information out of this after all.

183-1105: Into the Black

By the time they get back to the Perfect Stranger it is definitely early morning, and they take off, plot their courses and head out to the 100 diameter limit to make their jump to the Colchis system.

Since there could be a lot of many-week long journeys made up of 1 parsec jumps, the adventure has introduced a stress mechanic to see how the characters cope with being locked up on a ship. I didn’t tell the players exactly what I was doing, but I did mention that by the end of things Zanobia and Shinzaro were feeling stressed and really looking forward to getting off the ship.

Khadashi wasn’t doing too badly – he’d discovered a love of art, so spent time with Madeleine working on some artwork to decorate the inside of the ship with. I considered that this was distracting enough to keep his stress levels down.

The problem with the given stress rules though is that they’re utterly broken. When things go wrong, characters need to make a stress check, which is a 2+ END check. It’s only possible to fail if someone has a negative END modifier, and even then it’s unlikely. And if they fail by 6 or more, then really bad things happen. But that’s impossible to achieve.

I think there is meant to be a penalty to the roll equal to the character’s current stress, but the Islands in the Rift adventure doesn’t mention this. This is the only thing that makes sense though, so I may assume that this is what was meant.

Shinzaro also had to make a Steward check to ensure both passengers were kept happy, and failed miserably. Not having any Steward skill amongst the crew is going to mean that taking on passengers is going to be interesting.

They jump to empty space, re-calibrate their drives and navigation systems and spend a second week in Jump before arriving at the Colchis system, not far from the Jovian world of Solchi.

In 198-1105, they come in towards Sochi City, known for being a hive of scum and villainy, but also where they can sell their dodgy cargo, drop off their passengers and make some money.

Samuel Penn