Sunday, December 30, 2012

Adventure on the ranch - Garrison 022-056 1112

It has been 4 months since my last post and I was hoping for one a week. Real life did not help, particularly work being busy.  But I am back into it and hope it will go faster again.  This ended up being a long narrative so next time I will try and split it across a few posts.

The Narrative
On Garrison and just procured a cargohold full of wood; Don Kriegfield passed by and mentioned that his sister-in-law was having issues on her ranch and it may be worthwhile for Trak and Jem to visit for a potential job....

Trak and Jem arrived at the door to an impressive ranch house situated on what seemed like an unending patchwork of pastures and divided land.
"Casey.  Casey Sacasa.  Come on in."  The woman shook Trak and Jem's hand. She was dark from spending most of her life outdoors and sprightly with what seems like an inexhaustible supply of energy.

Casey continued, "Don contacted me earlier and said you would be here soon. Glad you're here.  Been having problems with something taking my stock.  I have so much on at the moment  I cannot spend enough time on it by myself.  Interested in helping out?  There is 10,000 in it if you can stop my animals being killed."
Trak looks at Jem for confirmation that she was ok with this.  She gives a small nod.
Trak said, "Sure, Casey.  Happy to help out."
Just then the telephone rings and it identifies that Ivico Espego is calling.
"Answer on speaker." Casey calls out.
"Hello Casey. Ivico. Solved the predator issue yet?"
"No Ivico, not yet."
"Oh, well in that case, do you need a hand?  I can send a few of my guys around to check things out."
"It's ok Ivico," Casey replied.  "I have a few friends Don put me onto looking into it."
"Oh." Ivico sounded disappointed. "Well, if they don't work out the offer is still there." And with that Ivico broke the connection.
"Who's Ivico?" asked Jem.
"Owns a ranch a few klicks over." Casey answered. "Got nothing in common and don't get on.  There must be something in him wanting to help.  Likely a favour he wants returned later. Strange - in the past he has offered to buy me out so he can expand."
But to Jem it did not sound that strange.  She had a hunch Ivico was behind the killings.  She replayed the conversation in her mind but  there was nothing in it. If he was behind the predators - releasing them or something - why ring and help?  Just my inbuilt paranoia she thought, and pushed it to the back of her mind.

Trak and Jem first began researching predators and other similar events. And doing fieldwork, if you could call it that.  Neither of the two had very much experience in investigation or picking over pasture and dead animals for clues. But the nature of the beasts killings did not quite match the types of predators that could have taken down fully grown zuzpats. It was while out at one of the far pastures that it finally dawned on them. It wasn't a predator, the answer was people.  At that moment they heard a distant zuzpat cry out in pain. They raced toward the sound that was then abruptly cut off.
"Shit!" Trak cried out. "We're going to be too late."
They were not too late.  From a distance of about 60 metres, they could see about four ranch hands around a prostrate zuzpat.
"Got them."
"Trak, look at their guns." Jem had noticed they were all carrying shotguns.  Trak and Jem were carrying rifles that Casey had loaned them in case it was one of the larger carnivores that was causing the killings.  On such a high law level, Trak had been surprised at this, but Casey had explained that it was a law left over from the colony founding - some farmers and ranchers had "gun licences" handed down from generation to generation.
"I don't think they're friendly." she continued.
Trak half closed his eyes and looked at her, not deigning her with a response.  Instead he said "Get down here behind this mound and we'll fire before they get into shotgun range.  We outrange them and should be able to scare them off."
"Aren't we jumping the gun a bit?  Shouldn't we try and reason with them?"
"I don't think so. " Trak replied. "If they have shotguns I have a feeling they are expecting us, or someone like us to come along.  You don't need shotguns to kill the zuzpats."

The four ranch hands were in two groups of two.  The first clear shot occurred about 50 metres away and Jem downed one with her first (lucky) shot.
The other ranch hands rushed to get closer and returned fire but missed.  A furious firefight ensued with shots being fired back and forth and the ranch hands getting closer, firing on the run.  Trak and Jem were at the disadvantage as the range was not great, and neither were experts with rifles. Jems' luck continued and she hit another; then with her next shot the obvious leader was hit and went down while searching for cover.  The last remaining ranch hand sees there is no point continuing and runs away.
They go over the the leader first.
Trak got right to the point. "Fuck. Dead.  We need to get out of this system asap.  We'll check on the other ones, contact Casey and go."
One of the other ranch hands was conscious, if only barely.  They managed to get out of him that he worked for Ivico.

"So it seems that Ivico is behind the killings." Trak was finishing telling Casey about their encounter. " I would say he is trying to force you out, rather than waiting for you to go of your own accord."
"Thanks Trak.  You too, Jem.  I'll transfer the money now, and I've sorted out some movement authorisations so you should be able to go straight to the spaceport from here.  I would not come back here for a while if I was you."

After an uneventful trip to the spaceport, the pair were stopped while entering the docking bay. A starport official was checking and rechecking their movements and associated authorisations.  There was obviously something that seemed out of place.  A (expensive) bribe from Jem successfully stalled any further investigations and within minutes they were on the scoutship Not at Home and cleared for lift.

A few days later, just before jumping, they ran across a Yacht in the same area, but the pilot was not in a chatty mood and they got no last minute gossip. So they jumped toward Kentland to sell a cargoful of wood, and a week in jumpspace to relax.

What the flowchart and tables generated
Week 05: 0022-0028

Trak's credit = Cr185,000
Jem's credit = Cr50,700

Roll successfully for a patron and randomly got Planetside:21 Plots no 5. Summary is a woman Casey Sacasa has a ranch that is being subject to predators and would like to hire part to get rid of them.  Yes I did completely randomise the roll - and it was a rural type patron.   As last week had a patron rumour and a meeting with a Politican, I put all of this together and had Don Kriegsfield mention he has a sister-in-law with some issues and maybe they should try her.

I rolled for the type of event and, while Casey does not know, the predators are really ranch hands hired by a neighbouring ranch,  Ivico Espejo, to get Casey to sell her ranch to him.  I then, as planned, used Rory's Story Cubes to generate the potential scenes of the job.  Here is the roll of the cubes (original dice pack):

Story cubes for the encounter.  Played them out from left to right, top to bottom.

An aside on Rory's Story cubes
Now there are lots of ways to use the story dice.  I will simply use them in the order they are and create a storyline as I go, rather than complete the story all in one go.  I have used the dice a few hundred times with my 4 and 5 year old doing stories in one go, groups of threes (where each have 3 dice and move the story along) and even 1 dice at a time.  All work. Normally you would choose the order of the dice, but let's be adventurous. I have all three sets but most familiar with the original set, so I am going with that set for now. I thought about going with groups of three, but then the adventure would always be in three parts.  Three parts is not necessarily a bad thing - lots of stories are in 3 parts - and I may come back to it later.  So I will look at the dice in order, create the story as I go and resolve scenes as I have to.  This way, if a scene changes dramatically what will occur, then I do not have to scrabble to modify the storyline.

Week 06 and 07, Day 029-042
So, the storyline:
Trak and Jem come down to the ranch and Casey lays out the issue.  Trak and Jem go out and have a look but see nothing obvious.
Phone: Ivico telephones and comes over to offer to lend assistance.
Lightbulb: Roll Difficult task to see if Trak or Jem see something just does not feel right about Ivico. Jem feels something is not right. Neither get it (another task) so misdirection - maybe Ivico is realising predators?
Building (Structure):  Jem and Trak investigate types of predators, what it could be etc. 
Bridge and key: Do some fieldwork.  Realise it is not a predator but people.
Fire: Ivico ranch hands and Jem/Trak fight it out:

4 (a d6 roll) Ranch hands.  It is Law Level B so lets give them shotguns.
Jem/Trak: using Casey's weapons (she has the obvious political contacts to get special gun licences) -Trak with Hunting Rifle, Jem with Rifle.

A quick aside on combat
Using Larger than Life and Azhanti High Lightning for combat.
I will be using LTL as the main combat mechanism.  So reaction tests, movement etc is all LTL.
Weapons and to hit is mostly MT (will use the hit table task difficulty and weapon stats from MT, but use the AHL to hit mechanism as it is a lot simpler).
Damage is worked out using AHL (a AHL light wound = MT superficial, AHL serious wound = minor wound, AHL death = major wound).
Weapon statistics will be from MT as they convert very easily to AHL (mostly required for working out damage).
It should all become clear as I run though an example.  Note I have never used LTL before, but have used AHL a little bit (15 years ago) and MT combat a little bit (about 20 years ago).
Why the complication? LTL makes the outcome less contrived as it uses reaction tests.  MT combat is a bit tedious for what I want to do.  AHL has a simple and fast combat and damage system, and will just slot in the MT to hit task and weapon stats straight into AHL.

Back to the story:
Trak will be REP 4, Dex bonus +2, Combat-Riflemen +1, no armour
Jem  is REP 4, Dex bonus +1, Gun Combat +0, no armour

Ranch hands
Ranch hand one REP 4, Dex bonus +1, Skill +1, no armour
Ranch hand two REP 4, Dex bonus +0, Skill +0, no armour
Ranch hand three REP 3, Dex bonus +2, Skill +1, no armour
Ranch hand four REP 3, Dex bonus +0, Skill +0, no armour
I just made these up and Ranch hand 3 looks like the leader.

Weapon Stats (from MegaTraveller)
Hunting Rifle Pen 4, Att 2 (Long+),
Rifle Pen 3, Att 2 (Long+)
Shotgun Pen 3, Att 1 (Medium), Max range is Medium
(note this is a combination of MegaTraveller and Azhanti High Lightning.  Penetration and Damage is combined for AHL and that is what I'm using)

As a reminder:
Close is < 1m, Rifle task is Routine
Short is 1-5m, Rifle task is Routine
Medium is 5-50m, Rifle task is Difficult
Long is 50-250m, Rifle task is Difficult

I will not go into so much detail for other posts, but as this is the first for combat, I will document it all here. Also, I had acquired some model railway figures to use as the characters but never ended up setting up the combat.  I did it all in my head.  As it was mostly in flat pasture land, it was not difficult.  Next time I am likely to actually have pictures.

So, Larger than Life starts with Gaining the Upper Hand.  I will use to to see if one side surprise the other.  I will give Trak a +2d6 bonus for trying to surprise the Ranch Hands who are not aware anyone is looking for them. +1 successes for Trak so they are not surprised and combat starts.
I assume range starts at Long but not much more so let us call it 60m as the board is 60cm, and I will use cm instead of inches for the combat.
I have Trak and Jem 4 cm apart and can activate as a group on Trak's REP 4.  The ranch hands are in two groups -  the two REP 4s and the two REP 3s.  Neither are directly in sight of one another.
Only the Ranch REP 4s get activated for the first turn.

The REP 4s run (11cm) towards Trak and Jem to get within range.  Let's do an Adventurer In Sight test. Both Trak and Jem pass 2d6 so return fire.
Trak: 11+ (Difficult) +3 DM -1 for target running = 9+ and misses
Jem: 11+ (Difficult) +1 DM -1 for target running = 11+ and hits!
Using AHL: Pen is 1 so roll 2d6+1 for wound = Serious Wound, unconscious, Out of Fight.
Ranch hand 2 takes a Civilian Fired At test:  Return Fire: 11+ DM-2 for running = 13.  Does not hit.
Next activation dice rolls sees Ranch hands first, then Trak and Jem.
Ranch Hand 2 has a DM of +2 so fires at Jem - needs a 9+. Misses.
Rand Hand 3 and 4 run (fail the fast movement so only move 8) and not in range.
Trak and Jem do an Adventurer In Sight test against Ranch hand 3 and 4: Trak passes 1d6 (this will be increase difficulty by 1 level), Jem passes 2d6; both return fire:
Trak: 15+ (Very Difficult) +3 DM -1 for target running = 13+. Miss.
Jem: 11+ (Difficult) +1 DM -1 for target running = 11+ and misses.
Now Trak and Jem Activate and fire on Ranch hand 3 and 4 again:
Trak: 15+ (Difficult) +3 DM -1 for target running = 9+. Miss.
Jem: 11+ (Difficult) +1 DM -1 for target running = 11+ Misses.

Next activation - ranch hands get to activate (Jem and Trak rolled too high):
Ranch hand 3 & 4 run but still only go 6 but at least the shotguns are in range.
Ranch hand 2 fires at Jem with a DM+2. Misses.

Next activation: Ranch hands first, then Trak and Jem.
Ranch hand 3 and 4 pass there shot at test.
Ranch hand 3 fires at Trak with a +3 bonus: Miss.
Ranch hand 4 fires at Trak with a +0 bonus: Miss
Ranch hand 2 fires at Jem with a +2 bonus: Miss
Trak fires at Ranch hand 3: Miss
Jem fires at Ranch hand 4: Hit!
Using AHL: Pen is 1; damage is Serious Wound and unconscious.  Ranch hand 4 is Out of the Fight.
Ranch hand 3 takes a test due to being next to Ranch hand 4 as he went OOF and ducked back  12cm and now out of range for shotgun!

Next activation: Trak/Jem, then Ranch hands.
Trak and Jem focus of Ranch hand 3. Trak misses but Jem hits (her dice rolls are really good this combat).  Using AHL: Pen is 1 so roll 2d6+1 for wound = 12 = Dead.
The last Ranch hand, Ranch hand 2, takes a leader lost roll and fails badly - runs away.

Trak and Jem were lucky. If Jem had not rolled so many 11s, I think Jem and Trak would have run away, or been wounded and captured. Anyway, there are two out of fight ranch hands to interrogate.

Next Rory story cube is Keyhole/Lock:
Trak and Jem figure out that the ranch hands are from Ivico who must be behind it.   Thery go back to tell Casey.

Week 08: 043-049

Story cube Castle:
A dead body is not good on Law Level B where most movement is tracked.  Trak and Jem need to leave Garrison soonish before it is realised a murder has occurred and an investigation starts.  This does not leave a lot of time  to resolve the Casey-Ivico issue and so Trak and Jem, after explaining the situation to Casey, leave for the spaceport.

Story cube Magnifying Glass:
At the starport, they are scrutinised, especially as plans seems to be changed and new movement requests got them there.  Do they make it.  Call it Difficult but there is a +2 DM for Jem's bribery. Passed.
Also, were detected moving into Spaceport but event was a possible bribe to enter undetected area.  In too much of a hurry for this so passed on it.
As they were in a hurry, no passengers. Kamiri is Industrial with a DM bonus to sell the wood so will head there. 
got a space encounter: Yacht transporting and hastily departing with a reaction of non-committal. Nothing of interest.

I am assuming that the the event took 2 weeks and Trak was paid $10,000 for the two weeks work.  He pays Jem a bonus (danger money).

Week 009: 050-056
In space. Check for whether Trak and Jem's relationship moves up a level.  I do this as a confrontational task as Jem wants it to do up and Trak is resisting for now). No change.

Quick calculations on credits
Outgoings: 5 weeks living expenses (Trak 3000, Jem 1500), 4 weeks docking fees (2800), Bribe (500!), Incidentals while investigating the predator (100)
Incoming: 10,000
Trak also pays Jem's salary for 5 weeks (3250+1500 bonus for the ranch job).

Subsector events
Need to process week 04-09 subsector events (I did not do week 04 during the last post) but nothing of interest happened.


  1. Great to see you posting again. Looking forward to seeing what happens next as it won't be safe to come back to Garrison for a long while.

  2. Nice post. Aside from a good story I like that you are explaining the mechanics and the blend of rules that you are using. Very helpful to me as I have had some ideas along similar lines using story cubes and THW.