Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Art Woes

The 'Bastards draft is chugging along. I may or may not meet my year-end deadline, but progress is being made at least. As the days tick by and I get the systems bolted nicely into place, I start to worry about other issues. Writing a game, as it turns out, is only one part of making a game.

We're going to have to deal with the kickstarter thing, sooner rather than later. We've waited too long to wrap all this up as it is. We have a date in mind to begin once we've gotten feedback on this draft. The problem, of course, is that we need art. It was an inevitable issue, but one that presents me with sort of a catch-22. To really get off the ground with a kickstarter, you need good art to sell it -- but our primary reason for doing a kickstarter is to get an art budget.

If you've been around my blog long enough, you've no doubt seen some of my own artwork. I know I'm decent at it, but I also know I'm not good enough to meet the task at hand. Not in any substantial way, in any case.

Further complicating matters, I'm not entirely sure how to start the shopping-for-art process.  I sent out a couple notes on Deviantart, but that's about the depth of my experience with the subject.

This post was mostly just my musing on the subject, but if anyone wants to toss me any advice, offer their services and quote a price, (or ESPECIALLY if you want to contribute art) feel free to leave a comment, hit me up on G+ or otherwise get in touch.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

'Bastards 0.2

If you lurk around our forums, you may have already heard: Band of Bastards is currently in the middle of a substantial overhaul. I thought it was appropriate to make some kind of a statement about what we're doing and why.

We've done this a few times before, though most were before we were ever under as much scrutiny. 'Bastards was (fittingly) the illegitimate child of the Trosfans forums, in their project to produce a new, unofficial, and revised edition of The Riddle of Steel after Driftwood went dark. This burst of creative impulse ultimately gave birth to Blade of the Iron Throne as well, which we still look at as a sibling for that reason. Like most siblings, though, we wound up going very separate directions.

The first iteration of the game was exactly what it set out to be - a TROS update, with all the bells and whistles. We had something like 60 maneuvers, 150+ weapons (most of which had more than one stat-line), and a whole mess of very exacting specifications for everything we touched. After the initial creative rush of cobbling together every optional rule from all of the TROS books and somehow making them more-or-less work together, we realized that this was a beast so ungainly that it would be a nightmare to run, let alone teach a new player.

Back to the drawing board.

The next iteration of the game would become what we promoted as Song of Steel. At the time, our focus was still on historical fiction -- a position we leaned into all the harder with Blade selling itself by contrast as a Swords and Sorcery game. It's a funny thing that siblings do. Bernard Cornwell had a prominent place on our bookshelf, along with a great deal of non-fiction that we picked up on swords and swordsmanship (including the book with a very similar title). This is about the time when we started pestering people like Nikolas Lloyd, Roland Warzecha, and Matt Easton for insights, which they all graciously provided.

This was the iteration when we really came into our own. Systems were scrapped, new bits invented, unnecessary bits stripped away. Our ranged combat and skirmish systems date back to this iteration (both of which were Higgin's contributions, amusingly enough. Thank him. He was very insistent on ranged combat being awesome).

Then came Song of Swords. What were the odds of another game being developed by another indie-dev team based on the same original game with a nearly identical  name? We discussed the thing with them - their hands were tied. The name was chosen by their fans. They were polite about the thing and even complimentary. At least one of them had been a fan of our work. It's always nice to be noticed.

Restriction breeds creativity. We were already competing for attention in the same sub-niche of a sub-niche of an already niche hobby, so we were left with the options of either sharing an initialism with who was arguably our closest competitor or redefine ourselves. We chose the latter.

One day, I'll shake Jimmy Rome's hand. Rebranding seemed like a setback at the time, but in the process, we had the license to re-evaluate everything we had chosen to do up to that point. Everything got cleaned up and polished, had the rough edges smoothed out. A lot of the stuff we had been so insistent in trying to replicate in exacting detail simply got dropped or abstracted. 'Bastards began to really hone in on what it wanted to be, which was a game about ambition and conflicts of the moral, physical, and bloody variety. In a strange way, despite being the furthest mechanically from its forebear, it may have been the closest in essence to what TROS wanted to be about.

This latest revision is a continuation of the iterative saga this game has undergone. The purpose of a beta test is to get feedback and have room to make adjustments. Between some of the cracks that have shown themselves at the fringes of our own play, and some of the feedback we've gotten on the forums, we're finding places where things could be better, tighter, or conversely need to be loosened up and made less rigid.

Higgins and I have both grown a lot as both players and designers since we started this project back in (dear God, really?) 2011. The last couple years, in particular, have been spent in a kind of ongoing game design boot camp. One of the driving forces in the revision is that certain areas of the game reflect designs that were either inherited from TROS once upon a time, or products of our early attempts to fix the products of those inherited parts. We can do better, and we're going to.

The end goal is to make a game that I will be inspired to play again. In slaughtering some of the sacred cows we've held on to in search of better design, of cleaning the clutter that we've amassed, we hope to create the kind of game that we're going to want to play and run for years to come. I want to be so again impassioned by this project that we have the energy and drive to see it through to the full vision we had for it. We hope that in making ourselves passionate about the thing, in cleaning up and overhauling the design of the thing, we'll make you passionate about it as well.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

An update

Triage. It seems to be the theme of my life. There is always some fire that needs put out and too often it demands my attention be somewhere other than here. This, of course, is a shame as this is one of the things I really enjoy doing in life.

Rather than talk about why I'm not here (no one reads this blog to hear me whinge), I'll just update where I am with the various irons I have in the fire.

The Tyrant's Fear

The campaign is still going, though we've missed as many weeks as we've played. Session 2 is mostly written up, I just need to finish said writing. I've got three more sessions with notes on them that need to be written. We may actually be playing one tonight, depending on who shows up. In addition to the Actual Play stuff, I've got some other commentary and musings I want to ramble on involving the thing, so plenty of content there coming down the pipe. A lot of people seemed to enjoy the first write-up, so with luck they will be so happy about the future content that they will overlook my delay in publishing it.

Band of Bastards

The Wounds and Healing chapter is written up and just needs to be formatted, along with incorporating the edits I have from our last release. It's moving along and with the release of this chapter we technically have everything you need to actually play the game properly. Well, maybe prices. We have those written up somewhere. It'll be fine.

To Henri's horror, I've been contemplating some major revisions to the system. I'm not satisfied with the shape of the present incarnation. I have a whole spiel I'll be writing on that before long, so that when/if that happens people will at least know why. However, I'm going to make sure that the necessary bits get put out to play the current game before I launch into another revision project. Our fans have been incredibly patient with my bullshit, a fact for which I am grateful. I have a play-by-post campaign I need to start up as well. 

Other Blog Shit

Troll Gods has some articles sitting on it. I've got some stuff to add. I'll eventually sit down and get it ironed out. In the meantime, if anyone still has stuff to submit by all means do so. I have a couple things I'm going to be writing reviews on, including a couple indie OSR bits from other amateur creators.

Going forward, I'm going to try to keep up at least a post per week, and hopefully get caught up on some of this nonsense.

Until then, 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Loaded for Bear - Speciality Ammo for Stars Without Number (or similar Modern or Sci-Fi Old School Games)

I do have a healthy love of science fiction, especially in a space opera environment. There is so much cool stuff to explore and play with. Fantastic technologies, alien races, ancient ruins on lost planets, shooting people with.. uh.. little beams of light?

Confession time. I've never really liked energy weapons. Yeah, melting someone's face off with a plasma gun sounds cool in theory, and some of the more exotic concepts (gravity manipulation, crazy tesla guns) can be pretty interesting, but none of them quite have the same kind of visceral impact as the rapport of a rifle, the smell of burning powder, spent brass flying. I sometimes have similar thoughts about gravcars and the like. Yeah, it can fly, sure.. but does it sound like this?

I didn't think so.

I admit, there's a certain amount of self-interest in this topic. You're talking to a man whose character is the captain of a space vessel capable of traversing the stars - yet carries a single-action revolver. This remains doubly true when one considers the sentimental nature of this character makes it extremely unlikely that he would swap out his sidearm of choice even if I by strange choice found an artifact revolver of similar make. What's a man to do?

Well the thing about good ol' slug throwers is that you can get a lot of variety out of them. Even today, there are nearly as many loads of ammunition as there are calibers to manufacture it in. While that level of granularity would be absurd in a game like this, I thought some variety might spice things up for us old-fashioned types.

Specialty Ammo for Stars Without Number

Broken down by weapon type for which it is available. Unless otherwise noted, assume range is identical to the standard for that weapon. The majority of the following can be produced by TL3 societies, though a few are TL4. Legality of various ammunition at GM's discretion. More exotic ammunition to come later.

Standard: Semi-jacketed or full metal jacket rounds, meant for a variety of situations. Standard per weapon description. TL2, 10 credits for a box of 20.

Hollow Point: round cast with a hollowed end in order to cause maximum deformation and energy transfer to a soft target. Practically useless against hard targets, however. +2 to Damage, but imposes a -2 penalty on any hard armor of AC5 or better. TL3, 20 credits for a box of 20.

Incendiary: round built around a core of phosphorus or other hotly burning chemical compound designed to ignite flammable targets or slag the inside of sensitive electronics from the heat. Any flammable target struck has a 2-in-6 chance to catch flame. If it pierces into something with sensitive circuitry, it has a 1-in-6 chance of slagging from the heat. If fired on burst, it increases by a further 1-in-6 to each. Targets caught on fire continue to take d4 damage per round until put out. TL3, 70 credits for a box of 20.

Manstopper: a heavier grain cartridge often using a higher than normal amount of propellant. It produces a significant jump in the amount of force delivered to a target at the expense of creating heavier recoil. +1 to damage, but burst fire gains no to-hit benefit. Burst fire damage, however, is increased as normal. Shotguns can use this in scattershot loads as well as slugs. TL2, 30 credits for a box of a box of 20.

Penetrator: armor penetrating rounds build around a core of hardened steel, tungsten, or similar material made to defeat body armor at the expense of transferring less kinetic energy to the target. -2 to damage, but treats any TL4 or earlier physical armor as being 2AC worse. Force fields and the like are unaffected. TL3, 30 credits for a box of 20.

Riot: bullets made from rubber or a high-impact gel intended for non-lethal use against civilian targets. Deals nonlethal damage, deals no damage against a natural AC5 or better. TL3, 10 credits for a box of 20.

Safeties: highly frangible rounds intended to completely fragment on impact with a soft target. Safeties are used in a number of delicate combat conditions in order to minimize danger to bystanders through ricochets or over-penetration of a target, and to prevent damage to sensitive or pressurized environments, such as aboard a space station or ship. Deals normal damage, but does no damage at all against a natural AC5 or better. Shotguns can also use these as breacher rounds to blow out mechanical locks at point-blank range. TL3, 20 credits for a box of 20.

Shotguns Only
Shotguns can also use any of the above ammunition, but only in the slug format unless otherwise noted. 

Birdshot: a scattershot load of lighter but more numerous pellets with a wider spread pattern, generally used for fowling or hunting other small game. +2 to hit, but damage is reduced to 2d4. TL2, 10 credits for a box of 20.

Caustic: biochemical slug with an acidic payload. Target takes d6 damage from the initial impact, but the acid will continue to burn into the target for d3 damage each round until it is either neutralized, or the affected surfaces are removed. TL4, 60 credits for a box of 3.

EMP: short-range slug that houses releases an electromagnetic discharge on impact. Uses scattershot ranges despite being a slug. Does d6 damage on impact, but has a 3-in-6 chance of slagging anything electronic it hits (including power armor). Specially shielded electronics reduce this to 1-in-6. TL4, 300 credits for a box of 3.

Flare: a standard thermal flare built around a shotgun cartridge. Uses the scatter-shot range despite being a slug. Mostly used as a signaling device, though it will provide dim illumination in a 50m radius along its path. If used as an attack, it does 1d6 damage at a -2 to hit. TL3, 30 credits for a box of 3.

Grenade: a miniature grenade that fires like a slug to project its payload over long distances. Roll all attacks against as though the target had a base AC9 (dex will improve this as normal). Force fields retain their AC as normal. On a miss, figure out what's behind the target as the thing will go off somewhere. On a hit, it has an effect as follows:
  • Explosive: a miniaturized grenade. Explodes for 3d4 damage against the target struck. Anyone within 5m makes a Luck save or takes 2d4 damage. TL3, 90 credits for a box of 3.
  • Flash-bang: an nonlethal explosive that blinds and deafens anyone within a 5m area. Target struck takes d4 damage from the impact. Everyone takes a Luck save or is blinded/deafened for 1 round and takes a -1 to all rolls for d3 rounds following. TL3, 75 credits for a box of 3.
  • Gas: A gas canister that releases its payload on impact. Target makes a Physical save or succumbs to the effect. Generally used for tear gas, though more nefarious compounds may be used if one can acquire them. TL3, 75 credits for a box of 3.
  • Incendiary: pyrotechnic payload that detonates and ignites on impact. Target hit is set alight for 3d4 damage. Anyone in the 5m splash zone is hit for 2d4 damage. All targets can take a luck save for half damage. The entire area is set alight for d4 rounds while the chemicals burn themselves out. Characters who remain in the area suffer an additional d4 damage per round. TL4, 90 credits for a box of 3.
  • Shredder: anti-personnel fragmentation grenade that sends a cloud of razor-edged shrapnel in every direction. Everyone within a 5m area of the impact point takes a Luck save, with the damage for failure depending on their unmodified AC. 3d6 vs AC6 or worse, 2d4 to anyone with better armor. TL3, 90 credits for a box of 3.
Hellfoam: a frangible slug filled with a chemical payload that reacts with oxygen on impact, rapidly expanding into a thick, sticky foam that covers the target and nearby surfaces. After but a few seconds, this foam hardens into a thick rubber, making normal movement almost impossible and potentially gluing them to their surroundings. Deals no damage, but attacks as though the target had a natural AC of 9. Dexterity modifies as normal. Fields are unaffected by this effect. Target makes a Luck save. On a failure, the target takes a -1 penalty to all actions the following round. If they do anything other than spend that round scraping the goo off of them, the following round will be a -3 penalty. If they are still covered in goo on the third round it hardens, encasing them in a stiff foam rubber until either a solvent is applied or they are carefully (and potentially painfully) cut out of the material. TL4, 60 credits for a box of 3.

Lawful Compliance: short-ranged slug that is little more than a flying taser, delivering maximum voltage at range. Uses scattershot range despite being a slug. Does 1d8 nonlethal damage. Mechanical/electronic targets struck have a 1-in-6 chance of being shorted by the discharge. TL3, 150 credits for a box of 3.

Peppershot: a load of frangible ball rounds filled with powdered chemical irritants that aerosolize on impact, potentially disabling a single target without risk of injury. Fires against an base AC9, though dexterity modifies this as normal. If the character's eyes, nose, or mouth are exposed to the elements, they make an immediate Physical save. On a success, they roll a d3, which indicates the penalty they will take to any rolls that round. The penalty will reduce by 1 each round until it disappears. On a failure, the target is overwhelmed by the effect and can do nothing for d3 rounds, after which they may proceed as though they had succeeded on the roll.  TL3, 15 credits for a box of 3. 

Sabot: solid slug in a case that helps impart spin to a projectile, giving a more rifle-like range and accuracy to a shotgun slug. Uses slug damage, but extends the weapon's effective range to 50/100m. TL3, 40 credits for a box of 20. 

Shrapnel: A scattershot load of razor-tipped flechette rounds that fulfills a similar role to hollow point rounds. Perfect for turning someone into hamburger but significantly disadvantaged against hard targets. +2 to Damage, but imposes a -2 penalty on any hard armor of AC5 or better. TL3, 15 credits for a box of 3.

Volcanic: a scattershot load that replaces the standard pellets with some kind of high-energy pyrotechnic load. No attack roll required. Instead, the target makes an Evasion save to avoid the ridiculous gout of flame. If they fail, they take 3d4 damage as normal, but anything flammable on them automatically catches fire and continues burning for d4 damage per round until put out. TL3, 30 credits for a box of 3.

UPDATE: Changed quantities/prices around a bit. While I initially had everything listed in boxes of 20 simply because the original game listed ammunition in quantities of 20, I wanted a bit more scarcity involved. That, and I was chastised about specialty shotgun ammunition coming in boxes of 3. Fine. I'm fixing it. After a bit of research, I also realized how ridiculously under-priced some of these were compared to their real-world equivalent (and arguably, their power level), so prices have been adjusted.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Tyrant's Crew - Big Iron (an Episode 1 Interlude)

Last night I opened up photoshop with the intention to do a bit of doodling, maybe knock out a portrait of Moraine. I'm an alright illustrator. If I actually put in the effort, I might eventually become good enough to do something with it. Instead, I spend my time reading RPG systems and tinkering with my own.

I got a decent ways into the portrait before I started thinking about his seemingly now-signature Big Iron. If you're playing a western character, of course you want a good revolver, and the way I've been playing with him so far his anachronistic gear has been something that distinguishes him from the world around him (I wouldn't be surprised if the nav computer on The Tyrant was analog), so I obviously wanted something that looked old and chunky. Not at all a modern thing. Being something of a western gun nut (it's almost as bad as my medieval arms & armor fetish), my mind went wandering.

Originally I had imagined him to carry something like a Griswold & Gunnison that was somehow chambered in .44 Magnum. The Griswold is one of the iconic "confederate guns," during the war. The sort of thing that if you saw someone carry it after the war, you could wager good money which side they fought on. I have a weird relationship with gear in games. I like it to make statements about the character. We already know that because he (ridiculously enough) fires a big single-action revolver he comes from a frontier world, probably is very old-fashioned about a lot of things. Clearly either stubborn or sentimental (why not both?) because he hasn't swapped the gun out for something modern and more useful. No, I imagine the gun he carries is the gun that got him through the war. Having something as identifiable to his former allegiance as the Griswold was in the south? Perfect.

Griswold & Gunnison cap and ball revolver

Of course, I'm also too much of a fetishist for my own good. Sure, you could maybe rig a Griswold to accept a cartridge (conversion kits were made for the Colt Navy), but I can't imagine it'd be very convenient even by the standards that I'm going for. Plus, we're wasting a perfectly good opportunity to have something bigger and chunkier as the big iron.

My next thought went to something slightly newer. Well. A few years newer. The Smith & Wesson New Model No 3 in 44 Russian.
Smith & Wesson New Model No 3 in 44 Russian.
I have a serious love of this gun for purely aesthetic reasons. It started production in ..1877ish? I'm on the internet, I could look it up, but you'll have to take my word for it. Something about the oversized build makes me happy inside and there's nothing quite so satisfying as watching spent brass fly out the back of a top-break revolver when you slam it open. Despite being a relatively modern gun, it has some very distinctive lines that make it almost hearken back to much older firearms than its contemporaries. This is exactly the sort of thing I could see Moraine carrying.

This was about the time I was struck with another dumber but somehow even greater idea. If I wanted something that screamed "confederate" while being striking and unusual... I clearly needed to pattern it off of the LeMat revolver.
LeMat "Grapeshot" Revolver
The LeMat was a giant beast of an old horse pistol. It was a pistol meant for cavalry and in some ways was a mirror in use to the more well known Colt Dragoon. Only instead of 6 rounds of 44, the LeMat could load an impressive nine rounds of .42 or .36 caliber ball. The real surprise was that it also had a secondary barrel below the first that ran through the cylinder that fired a single 20 gauge shotgun round. Thus the LeMat earned its nickname "The Grapeshot Revolver."

Only around a hundred of them were made in the States, including the 25 or so prototypes. Another thousand or so were manufactured overseas and smuggled into the south with blockade runners from Belgium and France.

So. Clearly if I wanted something that would be unique enough to have a bit of mystique and be strange enough to warrant "signature weapon" status (important, given that my sentimental character will probably never trade in the side-arm that got him through the war), the LeMat was a good way to go. Did I say Le Mat? I clearly meant  La Grange. Two hours later, the La Grange Special was born.
The La Grange Special. That's right, I made a thing.

Funny how I started this trying to make a portrait of a character and instead end up a piece of homebrew gear. I definitely like the look of the result though. Something I find interesting is that even though the bits are all more or less historical (compare with the images above), the end result looks just shy of steampunk. I'd like to have one in real-life, though maybe in some lighter calibers. I don't have the benefit of space metal to keep a .44 break-top revolver from blowing itself to pieces.

UPDATE: The La Grange Special has been GM approved and retconned in as Moraine's sidearm of choice. I erased the shotgun I had on my list and we just assumed that the pistol costed as much as the shotgun and revolver combined. The upper barrel just uses the standard Revolver stats, the lower uses the standard shotgun profile with only 1 shot. The detachable cylinder works identically to a magazine for reloading purposes, save that I can crack it open at any time to replace an individual shell. 

I can't wait for Saturday. The next session is going to be great.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Tyrant's Crew - Enter Miss Kitty (An Episode 1 Interlude)

Saturday's session was a stupid amount of fun. I can't stress what a great job Barb did on the thing, especially at the short notice he had to get it running. His love for the subject matter is clear, and he and he and I riff off each other ridiculously well as it is.

But I have a confession to make. I left a chat window open during the game. Yes, this is horrible, terrible, unforgivable behavior for a player of a tabletop game.. but I did.. and I'm not sorry.

I'm not sorry mostly because the resulting chat was hilarious. I was messaging back and forth with a girl named Kate. The resulting transcript of that conversation is as follows:

Fix your goddamned spaceship.

Yes dear.

Oh that made me laugh too much.

We're supposed to get paid 200k for this job, you know, if we don't all die.


I'm so sorry.

You wanna leave, woman, the airlock's right there. Your ass can hitchhike back to Dixie for all I care.




Woman, you come between a man and his hat you won't like the answer.

I have no comeback.

I'm pretty sure that means I won.

I confessed my chatting-during-the-game sins to the group and pasted it to them. They got a kick out of the conversation though. And then the magic happened.

What I love about this group is how quickly we come up with canon. It was quickly established that Kate was, in fact, an NPC in our game. After kicking some stuff back and forth with Barbarossa, we wound up making her the Madam of a brothel and saloon -- that was one giant space station, kept completely off any official records or charts. She pays good money to keep it that way. As a result, it's a popular and lucrative watering hole for pirates, outlaws, smugglers and other ne'er-do-wells to blow off steam, indulge in a few vices, pick up jobs and stock up on uncommon goods. We wound up dubbing the station The La Grange, which happens to be both an astronomical term and a ZZ Top song about a whorehouse. Sealing the deal, we wound up calling her Miss Kitty, which is both the most cliche possible name for an old west prostitute and fairly close to the name of the inspiration anyway.

The relationship between her character and mine is just what one might expect given what started the idea. The characters both love each other—and hate each others guts. It's always a warm reception on arrival followed shortly after by one of us threatening to shoot the other. I have a thing for damaged relationships.

Further backstory revealed that it as actually Miss Kitty who gave me The Tyrant's Fear in the first place. She was in some (currently undefined but potentially life-threatening) trouble with the law (or perhaps Hegemony forces?) that I saved her from. She acquired the ship herself after a man mistreated one of her girls and she had him thrown in an airlock. Turns out he liked breathing more than flying, and offered to turn her over by way of recompense. Not being one who liked feeling as though she remained in anyone's debt, she passed the the ship on to me to square our account.

The La Grange is now unofficial home port of The Tyrant's Fear, Miss Kitty some cross between patroness, ally, and walking plot-hook.

I look forward to seeing what Barb has in store. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Tyrant's Crew - Episode 1: A Simple Milk Run (A Stars Without Number Actual Play Report)

Our crew assembled and gear purchased, we were ready to go. It was decided that Wang had made his way to Dixie in the last days before the surrender in an attempt to chase a fortune that never quite materialized. When The surrender was signed and Hegemony troops took over, he decided the political climate was no longer in his favor and hopped aboard the first ship heading anywhere but there. As luck so happens, it was mine. We'd flown together a couple weeks before we picked up Doc. We still don't know what his story is, but he was in an awful hurry to get off that station. You can tell in a man's eyes whether they're running to something or away from it. Doc was definitely the latter. We needed the extra hand though, so we welcomed him aboard. Might be nice to have someone patch us up when we need it.

Our first session was going to be easy, right? It was a simple milk run. A previous contact of Wang's named Mr. Daws from the Rabani sector wanted us to visit a Maxwell Aldo. There was some kind of corporate exchange going down with everything in escrow. All we needed was to pick up a hard copy of some sensitive data and make it back. Pick it up, drop it off. We walk away with 200,000 credits. What could possibly go wrong? (Please, contain your laughter!)

Spike drive engaged. We came out of transit just outside the planet's gravity well. It was this massive, fancy-ass bureaucratic nightmare. The space port was a giant glass dome with one major exit/entryway. Space ships were lined up like ants trying to get in. The docking attendant chimed in on comms, asking us about the nature of our business planetside. She seemed to get annoyed when I give the name of our contact as Jonathon Doe. It took about two hours from the time we talk to customer service to the time we're cleared a spot to land. Government at work, ladies and gentlemen. 

We managed to land without issue. I decided to go low-profile, meaning that I was only carrying the derringer (Savannah) in my waistcoat pocket, the Dixie toothpick in a sling under my armpit, and the big iron low on one hip. With my coat, it was all covered up nicely. Practically stealth mode. The rest of the crew takes a similar tact, with the Doc stuffing a shotgun under his coat. Wang decided to leave the grenades at home, opting instead for his stun baton (apparently, his only options are "nonlethal" and "overkill"). Outside, we were greeted by a docking engineer who asked if we needed any station services -- refueling, maintenance, etc.

"Could use a carton of cigarettes." Moraine is clearly a smoker, he'd been a week in transit, and I'm sure as hell not trusting the fire suppressor on our rust bucket.

"Uh. I'm.. Sorry Sir.. I'm an engineer, not a stewardess."

"..The hell use are you?" My 17 Charisma shined through.

We hop a cab and make our way to the location. Aldo's was a big warehouse in the shipping district. It's a giant reinforced brick building, completely unadorned but for the sign with his name above. A huge steel security door is built into the wall beside an obvious intercom panel. There are no windows. Promising.

We buzzed in. The guy on the other side had no idea who we are or why we were here. We eventually ask for Maxwell Aldo by name and tell him we are supposed to make a pickup. He disappeared for a few minutes before the door opened and some Pink Water security goons show up to greet us. A man with a voice matching the intercom guy greets us and tells us that he's sorry about the mix-up, and offered to escort us to a waiting room. I'm itchy already, but we go.

The waiting room was down a roundabout hall or two, but was ultimately what you'd expect out of a mid-level corporate break room. A bunch of uncomfortable chairs, some old coffee, bottles of water, some fruit in a bowl, and a couple magazines. Wang dove straight for the food because we've been eating nothing but protein-sludge for three weeks now. Doc takes a seat and flipped open a magazine. As soon as the guards are gone, I immediately go for the door -- Locked. "Son of a bitch."

"They probably don't want us wandering around." Wang is trying to be helpful. Really.

"Don't cotton much to cages. I've been locked up long enough." I spent nearly two hours pacing my happy-ass back and forth along the low-maintenance grey area rug. Just when it seemed like I might be contemplating blowing the door off its hinges, Wang chimes in again.

"Calm down, Bo--" his line is interrupted by boots running in our direction. I turn to face the door from my left, to obscure the play I'm already making for my piece. The door swings open and red dots pan up the floor and the across the wall behind us. One of the goons takes a knee and disengages the safety on his SMG just in time for a .44 caliber hole to open up in the front of his skull. Big iron, big bullets. He goes down like someone flipped a switch. The goon behind him took a graze to the hip where the round over-penetrated through the first man into the second. Wang was on top of him in an instant with the stun baton, rendering him unconscious. The doc finished the job with a shotgun blast to the face. Gnarly.

"So much for the milk run."

Doc and Wang grabbed their SMGs and strap up. I wound up going for the walkie talkie on his chest rig. A few seconds later, the asshole from the intercom out front chirped through. "Heard shots. Report in. Were they taken care of?" I spammed the button while replying to give the impression the thing was malfunctioning. "Ta-" click "ermin" click "rep" click "firmative." I clip the radio to my waistcoat and replace a shell in my revolver. We need to move.

We took a wrong turn and end up in the warehouse proper. There were boxes and crates everywhere. I wound up asking Wang if he has any idea what the thing we're looking for looks like.

"Uh, it's easy. It's a <fucking technobabble.>"

As I stood there with a single-action revolver in my hand, "Do I look like I know what a <fucking technobabble, repeated phonetically> is?"

"...Right boss, I'll get looking."

"You've got two minutes, son. Make it quick."

Everyone was making search checks, looking through boxes. I wound up having a moment of thought and asked the GM "Can I make a tactics roll? I want a defensible position?" "uh.. Sure!" The resulting roll was silly high. I found a sturdy table and what appeared to be the sort of steel plates you'd expect to reinforce a wall with. My two companions turn suddenly and in some horror at the ridiculous clatter of me kicking the whole thing over.

"What are you do--" The objection was cut off by a deafening burst of automatic fire as more security entered the room. A bunch of shots were exchanged in an intense standoff, with my now-reinforced table absorbing a lot of oncoming fire. There were four men in chest rigs and what appeared to be the head of security in full combat armor. One of the mooks winged me in the shoulder with their SMG. Banter ensues which ultimately results in said mook getting focus-fired on by the rest of the group until he got his head unzipped from a three-round burst from our side. I managed to plug another dude in the chest with my revolver and the other two mooks hauled ass out of the warehouse, shouting that they were not being paid enough for this.

The head of security seemed like he was taking this whole thing rather personally, and opened up another burst, this time catching Wang in the stomach and in the process managed to take the pinky and ring finger off one hand. We call him 8-ball now. Doc finally gets a shot through the guy's armor, dropping him low. I walked up and put a bullet in his stomach out of spite.

Doc jumped on 8 Ball with a Lazarus pack. He was bleeding bad. We have no idea where his fingers got off to. Deke's player got two of the worst rolls I've ever seen and seemed to be reliving some kind of traumatic episode involving the last time he lost a patient. I ran over and shoved him out of the way. I have no medicine skill, but with a shockingly good roll I managed to get him stabilized. "Ain't you never seen a bullet wound before?" (It's no wonder that mobster's daughter died.)

The doc stammered and helplessly shrugged.

8-Ball was still conscious and tried to tell us to keep looking for the thing. I turned to the doc "You have any idea what he's yammerin' on about?"

Deke's player turns to the GM "..Uh. I have points in science. Do I have any idea what he's talking about?"


"I totally know what he's talking about."

"Get to it then while I drag his sorry ass out of here."

Doc went off exploring. I started trying to get 8-Ball back down the winding corridor to the exit. Doc managed to find the guy we were sent here to deal with in the first place. Aldo is sitting at his desk with a revolver leveled and ready. Unsurprisingly, he demanded to know why we were here. Doc attempted to explain the gist as best as he understood it, and that it was supposed to be a simple pickup before, you know, the goons.

"You've murdered four men."

"To be fair, they shot at us first."

"..What will it take to get rid of you?"

"Uhhh." Doc actually opened up a channel with our compads to call me on the other side of the building. In the most amazing "let me let you talk to my manager" moment I've ever seen, he explained the situation and then puts me on speaker phone with the guy. This whole thing has apparently been absurd enough to make Aldo require a cigarette. He apparently smokes some dainty-ass Imperial Slim crap.

I finally make my initial offer. "Three hundred thousand credits... and a carton of cigarettes."

"Two hundred thousand credits... and a carton of cigarettes."

"...Two-hundred and fifty thousand credits, and two cartons of cigarettes."

He sighed. "Two-hundred and fifty thousand credits, two cartons of cigarettes, and I never hear from you again?"

"You'll forget we were ever here."

He digs through a drawer and fishes out a disposable credit chip. "You've got ten minutes after I hand over this chip before I call the cops."

"Make it twenty and you can keep a carton of cigarettes."


Doc collected the carton of Imperial Slims and the chips and goes off to find me. Aldo returned to work like nothing happened.

We meet up just outside the place. The two run-away security guards were outside on their phones. I handed one of them a $50 chip.

"Reckon you boys are out of a job. Fifty credits in it for you if you cut that sumbitch's phone line in the next ten minutes."

"Dude.. you killed Steve."

"Steve was an asshole, son."

The other guard chimes in. "... Steve was an asshole."

They agreed right as the cab showed up.

We wound up telling the cabbie that we were mugged. He bemoaned the state of the shipping district this time of evening. I offered him a double tip if he can get us to the space port fast. We cleaned up in the car. By the time we made it there, we still look worse for the wear but we've downgraded our traumatic appearance from "lost a gunfight" to "maybe traded even in a bar fight."

We managed to get through customs fairly quickly and get back on the ship. We're granted clearance to leave just as I got settled in. That's when Doc handed me the goods. "What kind of asshole smokes Imperial Slims? I should've shot that sumbitch when I had the chance."

The ships comms chime in. "Tyrant's crew, you are free for takeoff."

8-Ball is our pilot, but he wasn't looking so hot. I can fly in a pinch, so I asked him if he wanted me to take over.

"Boss, me on my worst day is better than you on your best."

"...Remember who plugged them holes in your hide, son."

"... Sorry, Boss. You know what I mea--" a failed flight roll, due to all the penalties from, you know, bleeding out. We manage to clip the giant dome on our way up, sending a section of shattered glass and crumbling structure raining on anyone unfortunate enough to be below.

The ships comms chime in -- would you like to accept the call?

"Uh. Shit."

8-Ball immediately goes "No! I got this." He hits the button to accept and then immediately hangs up. "Tyrant's Fear di---" click.

The ships comms chime in -- would you like to accept the call?

"Tyrant's F--" click.

The ships comms chime in -- would you like to accept the call?

"TYRA---" click.

Klaxons are screaming. The ship's computer kindly informs us that we are being painted by targeting lasers. Doc is stammering. "CAN WE GO? NOW? PLEASE?"


We're approaching maximum acceleration as we fight to get out of atmosphere. A little warning signal is beeping on the console. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep beep beep beep beepbeepBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP -- TARGET LOCKED.

We break out of the gravity well.

PUNCH IT. We're gone. The klaxons vanish. The computer goes silence. I manage to utter the closing line of "We need to have a talk with Mr. Daws."

And so ended our first session.