Mustered Out on Mertactor

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Tracking Margarite

The party members meet up to enjoy the free breakfast that came with the room and to discuss their plans for the day. Taeva and Will decide to spend the morning in the hotel to see what information they can find online while the others go to try and meet Max Janthar.

Before the others leave, Will looks online for details of Max Janthar – and finds a lot of results coming back. It would appear that Max was a celebrity chef up until 20 years ago when he gave up to concentrate on his chain of restaurants, which he sold a little over five years ago. They track down his address to a penthouse apartment in one of the most expensive parts of town.

While Will and Taeva continue their online investigations, the others head to Janthar’s address. While Jie keeps a lookout, the others try to get the commissionaire to let them up to see Janthar. Arvor strikes up a good rapport with the commissionaire, but Janthar seems to be quite obsessive about his privacy. The commissionaire allows them to go up to try and speak to Janthar in person and they head up to try and speak to him in person. They speak with him over the intercom for a while but, although Arvor gives it his best shot, the old man simply won’t let them in.

Running low on ideas, they check in with Will and Taeva to see whether they have had any luck with their online investigations. They have. They spent the morning going through all of the old video clips they can find of his cookery show to see if they can find any co-hosts or other females on the show who might today meet Delores’ description. They manage to find three potential candidates.

Taeva shows the clips of the three women to the receptionist to see if she recognizes any of them. The receptionist discounts one of the three, leaving two possible candidates now – Chantelle Christiane and Margarite DuPre. Taeva passes the information back to Will who makes searches for both of them. Chantelle Christiane disappeared into obscurity after just a few years of co-presenting, but Margarite became very famous. Or, more precisely, infamous.

A popular celebrity chef, Margarite was in the entertainment industry for over two decades, with her cookery shows being syndicated across many worlds. Her career came to a shuddering halt five years ago with the ill–advised publication of an electronic cookbook ‘The Intergalactic Cookbook’ which featured recipes involving sentient alien species. Since publication (and the assassination of both her publicist and publisher) Margarite has been on the run.

The Intergalactic Cookbook is the only cookbook in history thought to have pushed so many races close to war. The book was an underground cult hit, supposedly as a spoof for all the other cookbooks out there that featured unusual ingredients from the worlds beyond the Imperium.

It was the K’Kree who first brought to light the problematic nature of the book with its recipes featuring various sentient races. Unsurprisingly the Aslan and various Vargr governments soon added their voices in protest, the Hivers initially thought it was a great joke until it became clear that some enterprising traders had been capturing hiver young and shipping them far from their homeworlds to farms where they grew to adulthood destined for the pot.

Will passes all of this information on to Arvor, Grim and Jie who take a cab back to the hotel so that they can discuss what to do with this latest information now they are pretty sure who it really is that they are looking for and why someone would want to find her.

While waiting for the others to arrive, Taeva tries another line of inquiries. She asks the receptionist for the time that Delores/Margarite checked out on the day of departure and for the name of the limo company that they usually work with. To her delight, the receptionist has both pieces of information. Taeva heads out to the limo companies offices to see if she is able to find out where the limo took her to.

The exercise takes her a couple of hours, during which time all of the others are back together.

“I have an address,” Taeva informs the others. “A villa out in the suburbs.”

Delighted to have a lead now, they immediately check out of the hotel and head out to the suburbs, which takes a couple of hours. They arrive at the address to find that it is an upmarket villa in an upmarket suburb. Taeva notices how well protected the property is with a lot of electronic surveillance gear and a wide garden area offering no cover – it’s not going to be an easy place to infiltrate.

They decide to try and find some other clues and Arvor finds a gardener working in the grounds of a villa owned by one of the neighbours. He asks about the owner of the villa. The gardener doesn’t know her name, saying that she is a private person. To the party members’ annoyance though, she doesn’t match the description of Margarite.

As it’s quite late in the afternoon already, they decide to wait to see if the owner comes back home. A little after 20.00 the owner does come back, arriving in an expensive ground car which pulls into the drive way. Jie watches the owner quickly enter the villa. The woman matches the description that the gardener gave – it’s not Margarite.

Arvor checks the car’s license plates and finds that it belongs to a woman called Chloe M’Banda – the owner of a private security company called Primary Threat Security.

There is some disagreement at this stage as to what they should do now as they think they have enough pieces of the jigsaw together to realize that Tibbs is the bad guy here, not Margarite. They decide to give him a call to see what he says. Tibbs does not answer the phone, however. Instead Will receives a recorded message:

“This is a recorded message. If you are calling this number you have managed to track down the package for me. You are to be commended. You can either send me the details via the vidphone messaging service and upon confirmation that you have tracked down the package you will be paid or you can deal with the package yourself. You will be paid a bonus sum of 100,000 credits if you eliminate the package. Upon confirmation that you have done so you will be paid this sum. If you do not wish to go ahead with this contract you will not be hearing from me again and I bid you good day.”

“To accept this contract you will need to ring this number again five minutes from now and just say the word yes. I look forward to hearing this response. Good luck.”

There are sighs all round as they realize that their fears have been confirmed. No one is keen at all on continuing with the mission to kill Margarite. Taeva just wants to give up on the mission and head back to the ship now. Arvor, however, is keen to try and see if there is a way of turning the tables on Mr. Tibbs and profiting from the situation in some way.

He calls up Chloe on her entryphone. She seems very nervous about Arvor and his questions and there are long pauses between her answers. After a while, Arvor gets the feeling that Chloe is deliberately trying to stall him and keep him on the line as long as possible.

These suspicions are confirmed when a van with blacked out windows slowly comes to a halt some 100m away from the villa. Although the van has just stopped a distance away and appears to be taking no immediate action, this is the final straw for the party members – now they all agree with Taeva that it’s best just to leave this messy situation well alone and get the hell out of Dodge.

They quickly head off in the opposite direction from the van and wave down the first cab that they can find, telling the driver to get them to the starport as soon as possible.

The driver agrees and heads off towards the starport. Jie notices that the van with the blacked out windows is following them at a safe distance.

The starport is on the opposite side of the city some three hours’ drive away. The van continues to follow them, but doesn’t seem to be taking any other action. Figuring that they will be safe enough once they reach the starport, they relax a little.

During the long journey, the driver is listening to Telmat FM. One of the items on the news catches their attention:

“Telmat Police are still appealing for information from anyone who has any information about the murder of two white males either late on 036 or early on 037. The two males were badly tortured and it is not possible to identify them due to the fact that their heads, hands and feet were all removed. One of the males is quite remarkable, however, due to the fact that he has detachable buttocks – a fact that has led the tabloids to describe the incident as the ‘Ass Bandit Murders’ and has led to a lot of jokes about ‘the police working their asses off to solve the case’ and ‘the Police Commissioner can kiss his ass goodbye if he can’t solve this one’ …”

The cab eventually makes it back to the starport. The van stops a distance behind them, but nothing happens as the party enter the safety of the port.

They are relieved to be back aboard the Princess again.

Autumn greets them all with some drinks. “So how did the job go?” she asks.

“Not that well,” Grim replies grimly.

“Well I have a little good news at least,” Autumn replies. “We already have one passenger to Glisten even though we haven’t been able to set a departure date yet. Maria Chan booked with us again. She arrived just after you left yesterday morning on 037. She has been acting very strangely since she boarded though. She doesn’t come out of her room and has already drunk her way through a quarter of our entire supply of gin. She hardly drank at all on the journey from Weiss.”

“I’ve done alright over the past couple of days as well,” Max announces. “Managed to finally shift that bloody whisky we’ve beeen hauling since Grote at a tasty margin. Made a bit on the clothes and cotton. Just struggling with that bloody cake. Getting sick of finding buyers for it. Next buyer I find and I’ll dump the stuff on him even if it’s at a slight loss just to get off this shithole world as soon as possible.”

No one is too enthusiastic to get further dragged into the case of Maria Chan and the ‘Ass Bandit Murder’ case, seeing nothing but a whole heap of trouble for zero reward. Nervous about the possibility of attacks from either Ceglarski or Chloe’s men though, they decide to post a guard at the entrance to the airlock for the remainder of their stay on Aki.

Jie enthusiastically volunteers for the first shift, the joy on her face evident as her fingers curl around the barrel of Black Betty after their separation for the past 36 hours.

The other urge Max to hurry up and finish his trading and for Autumn to start looking for passengers as quickly as possible so they can be offworld with the minimum of delays.

Comments

Ah, so Bryan had the money in an ass-compartment. He and his buddy are dead – and somehow Maria survives. I hate it when we don’t do something about an interesting lead, and

a) a stack of bodies develops and
b) the money dissapears.

So we can continue to ignore the leads Nick trails in front of us, or we can be adventurers and meddle in other peoples business, which in my view is our only occupation unless we just want to retire as merchants.

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Ignore that last email I sent you. I managed to post it myself after all.

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Can’t we pick and choose, Dom? I, for one, would like to get to Glisten and settle our financial affairs (as well as purchase our goodies) before embarking on another adventure of the more dangerous sort ;-) After that, I’m all yours!

Grim (certainly no shrinking violet; not impressed with dirty, crowded, hungry Aki though, and eager to move on…)
/Ian (OOC, also, couldn’t see the map on Sunday and was having one of my worst connection days ever, hence my votes to “pass”, lol)

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It’s a playstyle thing Dom; my perception of Nick’s GM ing is that there is a lot of stuff going on and we don’t necessarily need to get involved in everything. Sometimes getting involved would actually be just too difficult/ too much trouble.

Just because eg we know the Mega Powerful Crimelord is behind the theft of the cds I don’t think it means we are expected to wrap it all up neatly and shut him down.

It isn’t a question of wasting adventures because Nick will just file the serial numbers off and re-use them at some point.

Character also come into it. Eg Arvor’s perception (my assumption here) is that the Chimp’s assasination of Margarite is undesirable. Taeva’s perception is that if anyone deserves assassinating then an idiot who has possibly precipitated numerous deaths and possible war does-so screw her rather than alienate the assassins. That sort of differing perception will always come into play (especially with a lawman and a crook).

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For my two cents I’d say we did the right thing abandoning both cases. In the first situation, while it was mysterious, it had nothing to do with us and was none of our business. Perhaps we should have informed the three about Ceglarski following them but, for all we know, the three were the bad guys. As for the second, once we figured we knew we were working for the bad guys, the whole thing seemed wrong to Will, whose idea of adventure is more in the line of exploring strange new worlds and doing odd jobs for honest money rather than being a mercenary, or worse. He’s all for helping people, just not bad people. He’d be cool with advising the authorities and Primary Threat about what we learned. Margarite’s not exactly waving clean hands in this, but she ain’t dirty enough to deserve getting murdered. And certainly not by us. Just Will’s (my) view on events.

On to Glisten to see to our own affairs!

On another topic, I will unfortunately miss next Sunday’s game due to an all-day prior commitment.

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Steve (and Ian and Jay) are right here. It’s just not going to be possible for you to undertake every opportunity thrown at you and see every mission through to its nice and neat eventual conclusion. It’s like life.

I have a fabulously detailed (and complicated) random passenger generation system that came off JTAS Online which can sometimes throw in some interesting results. When I ask myself why those particular people would be travelling – maybe they are acting together, maybe they are adversaries – it sometimes comes up with some cool ideas. If you want to pick up and run with them, that’s great and I will develop them further. If you decide you’re not interested as you have too much else to deal with, that’s cool too – it’s not as if anything was ‘wasted’.

I’m using a combination of some published adventures, some that are elements from very loosely detailed adventures and some completely sandbox stuff that comes to me. Not everything fits together neatly.

It seems that, whenever the party has a ship, the campaign starts following major arcs. In MooR it was Arc 1 = take Sinclair to Knorbes, Arc 2 = Get home from Vargr space, Arc 3 = Mongoose’s Tripwire campaign. In MooM, Arc 1 = get equipment to Talchek, Arc 2 = Go to Glisten for shopping.

As you have probably noticed, it just seems a cop-out to me to write ‘over the next two months you make four jumps from Grote to Glisten and nothing happens much apart from the fact that you add 1.5M to the kitty as a result of passenger and spec trading revenue’. I always like something to happen on each world, even if it’s not part of a campaign arc. As you have already noticed, I like all of the NPCs to act logically and intelligently, which means that they aren’t always going to make it easy for you to catch them and they are not always going to always head in the direction you’re heading. So there will always be loose ends and you’re never going to be able to tie each of them up. That’s real life – it never ends and so things can’t all be tied up before the credits roll at the end of each episode.

So don’t feel bad about this.

Dom is right though about how, logically, you might just as well spend the rest of your life shuttling between Mora and Forine each week, making a killing from Max’s spec trading. Once you have a little capital behind you (which you already have) it’s hard to come up with ways of earning enough from adventuring to make every little job interesting financially compared to the revenue that a half-decent broker can make from spec trade and access to a starship.

So many published adventures start ‘the party is stuck on a planet broke and needing money to get their ship repaired and are looking for a job’. The problem is that it can often be hard to come up with some other motivation to get a party interested in a job logically when the Cr. 10,000 on offer would really be of little interest.

So sometimes you’ll need to work with me a bit to help me come up with some motivation as to why the party would undertake some kind of a job other than ‘because the money is too good to turn down’.

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Anyway, with the above said, is there anything else you want to do while on Aki, or is it just a question of waiting for Max to finishing his selling and buying asap while Autumn tries to fill the ship with passengers?

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Will’s ready to move on.

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Jie realizes we are not the only ones who might investigate strange characters. She re-doubles her efforts to secure the ship and it’s landing pad against unwanted observation. Chloe M’Banda and her private mercenary company, Primary Threat Security, may want to do a little investigation of her own. Even Mr. Tibbs may want to shut us down so we don’t ruin his further attempts to assassinate the Cook. The killer of the Ass-Man may even try to erase our low berth logs to really hide his tracks. Hell, she would even guess that this world of strife and discontent is probably crawling with Zhodani Mind-Spies in search of a ship to get them closer to the heart of the Imperium. (Jie slyly looks towards Will’s personal diary that he left in the pilots chair and makes a mental note to pick the lock and peruse its contents…just in case.)

As for side jobs, Jie prefers well detailed missions. Going back to Mithras and stopping the murders of the defenseless by exposing the villains behind it all was a plan that she feels we should still attempt to do. Following quiet, paying passengers because their butt smelled of money was not what Jie would call well detailed. Will brings up an interesting point about exploration, she could get behind that. Definitely goto Glisten and then re-work our mission statement or at least come up with one.

Jie wants morals and now that she is out of the Marines she has free will to choose the path of righteousness. However, she notices that in the heat of battle she often chooses the path of wonton destruction and pain because it’s easier and more fun. Jie imagines a little Will on one shoulder and a little Taeva on the other, both talking about the pros and cons of any situation. (That’s kinda scary)

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Without wanting to put in any spoilers or to try and railroad you into doing anything you don’t want to do, I can give you a hint that I will gently be pointing you in the direction of returning to District 268 as I have loads of great adventures officially set in the north of the subsector to run you through, whereas I found virtually nothing set in Glisten subsector (although it’s going to be great to have the GURPS sourcebook on Glisten itself for inspiration). As a result, don’t expect to be leaving such a cool and detailed system too quickly after you’ve finished your shopping and upgrading!

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I never really owned any of the GURPS stuff-my own GURPS Traveller game was pre-GURPS Traveller!
I did not know they had done sector sourcebooks but I suppose that was the old GURPs way- books on everything (GURPs Cavemen springs to mind).

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They don’t cover sectors – they are just called ‘Planetary Survey’. There are six of them, but only Glisten and one other minor planet are inside the Spinward Marches, as far as I remember.

They are quite short. I haven’t had chance to go through the Glisten one in detail yet but my initial impressions are that I wouldn’t have paid much for it!

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I have a GURPS Traveller basic book signed by Marc Miller and Steve Jackson…[preens]…and am thinking of contributing to Millers T5 Kickstarter at the 150 level to get a patent and title…[hears Linda coming]…“shhh, don’t tell her I’m spending…”…“What’s that, dear? Yup I’ll say hi to Nick and the guys”…[footsteps leaving]…where was I? Oh yeah, Nick, what do I get with my title? A merchant fleet? Bodyguards? Can I order Will around as my servant? Can I bestow nobility on others? {I know, a silly question, just being in my prescence already does that, lol} ‘Lady Jie’ sounds kinda cool!

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Read all about it at:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/traveller5/traveller-5th-edition

I am warning you in advance though that, no matter how good it is, I am not going to learn another set of Traveller rules to keep this game running!

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The draft document I saw was just endless numbers of complex tables. I like the total simplicity of MGT.

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I think he’s been a little too greedy by licensing the system to Mongoose and also trying to create his own version as they will just cannibalize sales from one another.

If MGT didn’t work or was too far removed from the original, then it might work. But it looks like he’s going back to MegaTraveller over-complexity.

I wish him well with it though – the more Traveller stuff that’s around the better, no matter which version it’s for.

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I bought the T5 draft CD back a few years. That draft was indeed in pretty rough shape but I know they’ve (a relatively small group judging by the Travellerrpg.com forums) been working diligently at it for all these years. I’ve used the system gen rules a few times and tried creating some characters (but got lost a bit due to the very draft nature of the rules at that time). As Steve says, “…endless numbers of complex tables” pretty much sums it up. However, for those that like complexity, it looks like it will allow just about anything to be created. My guess is that a lot of people will end up using bits of it (like system gen) in MGT campaigns. In any event, I ordered a copy on Kickstarter too—as much to support Traveller as anything else since, as a “founding father” of T5 I’ll apparently get the final book for “free” as a DVD when it’s published.

And:
1. Will’s personal journal can only be opened upon receiving the proper psionic, er, secret signal.

2. Little does Grim know that Will, although a Zhodani spy, is also the bastard son of Strephon. So no ordering buddy. And no, you can’t have a fleet—you get a patent to some puny world somewhere. I think yours is somewhere to coreward of the Vargr empires. And it has only one asteroid. Nope, not even a gas giant. Enjoy your patent you aristocratic Sunna’va female vargr! Dad, Dad? Can I smite this termite now? Can I, huh?!

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Apparently Marc is going to sign every book, so you might get a second keepsake Ian.

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Will is ready to return to 268 as soon as he has his new bionic fingers. He’s thinking of taking up a new career of pickin’ and grinnin’, watching the ladies boot-scoot as he deftly plays an old free-merchant pub song…

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NickPendrell

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