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Mustered Out on Mertactor

101-1106

Assault on the Warehouse

Just an hour into Grim and Jie’s shift and there is another shift change at the warehouse – again more pick ups arrive bringing 12 people back, while the other shift leaves – so the staff must all work 12 hours on/12 hours off. They continue watching anyway until their shift ends at 07.00.

There’s another six hours of daylight left and so they decide to go in at 10.00, a good two hours before the next shift change is due and all assemble a safe distance away from the building, with the air/rafts a little further off, but close at hand in case the party members need to make a quick getaway.

Taeva has spotted a blindspot to the west of the building – hidden from the two security cameras that are above the entrances to the two doors north and south. Once it gets to 10.00, everyone gets into position. All of the party members approach from the west, apart from Grim who is out of sight behind an empty building to the south.

Taeva scurries under the cameras and heads for the main entrance. It’s locked. It takes her a couple of attempts before she is finally able to pick it and slide the door open. Unfortunately, the door squeals on its rollers as she does so and send a shaft of bright sunlight illuminating the interior.

All eyes in the warehouse are upon Taeva. She doesn’t look too hostile though.

One of the rednecks inside grins as he sees her silhouetted against the light.

“Well, hello, l’il darlin’,” he says. “So are you here looking for a large implement?”

This sets his workmates guffawing.

Max, who has grown very protective of Taeva can hear this. “No, but if she was looking for a complete tool, she’s in the right place.”

“Glad you’re here, baby,” the redneck continues. “I’ve been looking for a good furrow to plow.”

More laughter as the workers inside stop what they are doing and come to enjoy the show.

“Sure looks like there’s some fertile ground for planting my seed in.”

“Right!” says a very pissed off Max drawing his gauss pistol. “That’s enough.”

Grim is quicker than him though. He rounds the corner of the building he has been hiding around, quickly aims and sends a RAM grenade through the entrance of the door. The grenade lands just behind the redneck, splattering Taeva with gore.

Taeva ducks to the side of the door and takes down one of the shocked workers before he can even figure out what’s going on. Jie, Arvor, Max and William all rush up to the entrance. Taeva and Grim each take out another of the workers before they have all managed to dive for cover.

Jie and Taeva both run into the warehouse, searching for cover, attracting most of the fire from the workers, now hiding behind the harvesters and grav/vans inside. Jie gets shot in the side as she runs forward, but her armor absorbs most of the damage from the autopistol. Arvor takes Taeva’s spot at the side of the door and brings down another one, as does Grim with a burst from his gauss rifle.

Max opens the door wider and sprays the area with shots from his gauss pistol, managing to catch another of them. Unfortunately, by opening the door, he’s taken William’s cover away and he gets hit in the arm by a shot from one of those inside.

“Sorry, mate,” Max says sheepishly.

“It’s OK,” William grunts. “It’s only a flesh wound.”

Taeva and Jie, both safely in cover now manage to take down another one each and Arvor takes down another. There are just two left now. Both realizing that the they have little chance against the much better armed and armored group they both throw down their guns and surrender.

The rest of the party enters the warehouse. They can still hear shooting from inside a small office in the far corner though. Taeva rushes to investigates to find another of the workers emptying a magazine into the computer. He throws his hands up as soon as he sees Taeva entering the office.

It’s question time again. Again the captives are quite tight-lipped until Taeva shoots one of them in the knee. This gets his talking.

Unfortunately though, again, none of them seem to have a great deal of information to give them. Jimmy-Joe, the boss, is currently out – in Newland on business. They don’t know where exactly and they don’t know when he is due back. They don’t have much other information of interest either – having been told to destroy the computer in case anyone came around asking questions.

Taeva is getting frustrated through not getting any answers and threatens to take out the guy’s other kneecap. He tells them that there is a box of moss due for shipment in one of the grav/vans. The others go to investigate. The information is correct. The box contains around 100 kilos of Tarsuline and there is an address on it:

Newland Freight Services
137 Arndale way
Southdown Industrial Estate
Newland
NL5 7PX

“Let’s take it wiv us,” Max suggests.

He calls the drivers to bring the air/rafts over.

Taeva notices a safe in the corner of the office.

“Douse the place with gasoline while I try and crack this,” she says.

The others use the large barrels of gas to start dousing the place while Taeva sets to work on the safe. Her attempts to pick it just ends up with her breaking the mechanism though. Her acid lockpick melts it through though and she is able to open it.

There is little inside of interest though other than three bundles of Cr.100 notes.

“Cr.30,000,” she says and hands it to Max.

His skilled fingers quickly counts and divides up the notes, handing 5k to everyone.

“So what are we going to do with the survivors then?”

Of the 12 workers, 4 are dead, 4 seriously wounded, 2 unconscious and 2 unwounded, but all are tied up.

“Drag them outside the warehouse and make sure they are well bound,”says Taeva. The others all check that the workers are tightly bound and then dry fire to the gas which the warehouse is now
doused in. The building goes up quickly, black smoke belching through the roof and explosions from inside as more gas tanks go up.

“There’s a lot of activity close by,” Max says. “There’s a TDF base here an’ I don’t think they they can afford getting involved. And chances are that some of the militiamen will be friends of these guys and from the little I learned in Law School, these guys ain’t done nothing to us, whereas we’ve stolen property and have case a lot of criminal damage, not to mention four murders.”

“I think that it’s time to make a swift departure.”

They finish loading the box of Tarsuline into the trunk of the air/raft and then get in.

“Let’s take one of the captives with us,” suggests Arvor. “I’d like to see what effect Tarsuline has on someone.”

The others agree and so they take the one with the busted knee. William gives him a sedative to knock him out for a while. They then bundle him into the trunk of the second air/raft.

Once everyone is onboard, the two drivers take the rafts up high and then give it full speed. The start to head east towards Newland, However, two hours into the journey and Taeva gets a call from Hrym.

“They’ve announced the date of our nobble harvest,” he says, “It’s in four days’ time. It will take us a day to get all of the machinery and a day of travelling to get to the point for the harvesting, so we don’t have a lot of time.”

She passes the message on.

“We’re not going to have time to go to Newland before the nobble harvest now,” she says. “We’ll have to take care of than and then head straight to Newland afterwards.”

The others are disappointed that this means that they will give Jimmy-Joe time to find out about the events at his warehouse and to take appropriate action, but they are committed to the nobble harvest now.

The drivers change course, heading due south now back to the Traske Ranch.

After a couple more hours of travel, the air/rafts cross the Ouiloss River again and the air/rafts put down for lunch. They let the captive out of the trunk – he’s conscious again now.

Arvor tells him to eat some of the Tarsuline. The captive just shrugs and says, “OK then.”

Everyone watches on as he eats. He screws his face up as he chews. “It’s horribly bitter,” he says. “Could do with some kind of vinaigrette, maybe. A little olive oil and pepper, perhaps?”

Everyone sighs and then they bundle him back into the trunk. They finish their own lunches and then return to the air/rafts for the final leg back to the ranch.

They continue southwards as the sun sets and it’s completely dark by the time they return back to the ranch at 21.00. Things there are as they left them. Shania immediately starts to prepare dinner for everyone. Hyrm is not so happy at the party having brought a captive back with them.

“What are we supposed to do with him from now on?” he asks.

It’s been another long day for the party members and so they head off to bed after making sure that the captive is well locked up in one of the barns.

Comments

For Arvor and William, this is where we finished up yesterday’s session.

101-1106
 

Wow,that’s a lot of excitement! Thank the gods the law level is low on Tarsus!

Sorry to have missed the game guys. Will be there next week.

Jay

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It’s ok, Jay, we just made William wear funny hats while we NPC’d him. (not really, Nick wouldn’t let us ;-)

Grim/Ian

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Agreed on the law level, Grim was concerned we’d need to cover our tracks re:shooting people in the head, until he had it explained to him that the TDF is pretty much not interested in enforcing the law unless you actually commit the crime both
A. in front of one of their officers, and,
B. in front of a witness so the officer just can’t pretend he didn’t notice, lol.

Anyway, it was a great session and we missed you! Now we just have to figure out what to do about the chief bad guy. What does Taeva want to do? Has she had enough revenge? If it turns out that SuSAG (which has a moon base nearby on Rond and is a Pharma corp) is involved, do we want to represent Shania and the other ranchers in negotiating a “new arrangement”? I mean, now that their plan to harvest the moss is (potentially, unless we keep quiet) out in the open, maybe it would make better business sense for them to partner with the ranchers to harvest it?

Grim/Ian

101-1106
 

As regards the survivors thought we dealt with that last night. Even taeva isn’t going to burn them to death.

101-1106
 

OK, I just reread the logs and Taeva was just going to get the rednecks to run/hobble/drag their unconscious friends out of the place.

Is everyone OK with this?

If so, is there any reason for you to stay in Evander or are you going to move out immediately?

101-1106
 

Agree with Taeva, I assumed we were going to leave them tied up outside the building, then burn the place down and flee? I can’t remember if we actually settled on that though before we stopped for the night…

Again to Taeva, how far does she want to go? It seems obvious we need to get Jimmy-Joe, as he sent the men who killed her father, even though they did it on their own “initiative”, but if he’s bankrolled and/or controlled by someone higher up and more powerful, should we go after them or try to make a deal that cuts the ranchers in on whatever is going on?

Grim/Ian

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Well; I think the dirty deeds will probably resume unless we can expose/ embarrass them.

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Or as you say, cut a deal. Someone with commo skills should start cutting a web file with photos etc (sanitised re. us) that we can post to the ranchers association, press etc as we leave planet. We may possibly have more to add to this before we leave.

WE also need to work out the utility of Tarsaline. What’s it for? Something embarrassing hopefully.

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Arvor suggests we feed a small amount to one of the thugs and keep him along under observation. It might do something interesting – or he might reveal something in order not to take it.

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Grim likes Arvor’s idea re:drugging a captive.

{Grim begins editing his DD/R holoVid recording to show the thug in the swamp admitting to his buddy’s killing of Mr Trask, eliminating all footage that could be used to identify us. He also edits in the footage of the thug in the warehouse showing that esteemed gentleman naming Jimmy-Joe, again leaving no traces of us…He carefully adds in sympathetic vids and stills of Taeva’s father from her files and from any stills. He also edits in stills of the “pastoral” nature of the ranch, again from Teava’s files…}

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William is uncomfortable with not pursuing the BBG. Perhaps leaving the farmers the video evidence is enough. Is there media on Tarsus that we could also involve? If we think SuSAG is involved, is there any value in alerting the Imperial Ministry of Justice? I’d like to see us do a bit more to uncover/expose the big evil. At least we should pursue Jimmie-Joe.

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re Law:

Swamp: we approached the camp and they attacked us (after we found evidence they were sabotaging ranch). When we were interrogating there were only 2 bad guys(check log Taeva specified this, having a clear intent in case they kept mum) -the second guy had his head blown off during the firefight.

Warehouse: more problematic. It depends how much Taeva terrified the foreman/ how deep in he is ((there was a lot of verbal nastiness not reproduced in Log summary)). Either way might be best to claim we were just not there (which of course falls down if they check air raft records-I don’t know whether we were using our air rafts or theirs in the end.) When Taeva stuck her head in the waregouse I assumed she’d be wearing balaclava. As she obviously wasn’t from the flow of events perhaps assume she was wearing blonde wig and wooly hat ie she may not be instantly recognisable. SO just work out alibi.

It’s a shame the nobble herd thing so tight as it will likely mean the bad guys get clean away. Either way it gives them time to regroup from a situation where they were off balance.

During the days equipment prep one air raft should recover the sonic stakes; we don’t want that evidence taken away in the interim.

101-1106
 

Just a brief mention that everyone’s metagaming a little by working out how to get revenge on SuSAG (at this stage at least). To the characters at this stage, their opinion of SuSAG would probably be no better or worse than the average person here would have of Pfizer or Bayer & Bayer – they make stuff that cures your headaches – there are some news reports from ‘woolly liberal’ news sources about slightly dodgy practices. They are not (at this stage at least) a truly evil and despicable megacorporation.

You certainly have no link to SuSAG currently. Tarsus is well outside Imperial jurisdiction. If you wanted to rat on them to the MoJ, you could pass evidence to the Imperial Embassy on Collace.

You took your own air/rafts to Evander. You’re not going to be able to remove all of the evidence of your having been responsible for the action there if someone was going to try and bust you – there’s too much there to link your involvement already – even if you did kill all of the captives.

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I am very happy about the need to do a Nobble harvest then confront the master mind Jimmy-Joe. Face it guys, we have not been the most movie-type like heroes here on Tarsus. We have been intelligent, well planned and stealthy yes, but also add in a dash of skulking, bloodthirsty and quick to rewrite events to make us look good. We shouldn’t have to edit the facts to show we were in the right. This might mean that we will have to be the ones who get ambushed by a superior force if Jimmy-Joe has time to put together a retaliation assassin squad. A classic villain move! Which of course makes us the under-dog heroes that through our combined skill and resiliency win the day! (As long as we don’t die in the process, that would suck.)

It’s like the old American cowboy movie where the good guy and the bad guy are in the middle of the street waiting to draw their guns and shoot. The bad guy always draws first, but its’ the good guy that draws faster. Don’t get me wrong, I like winning, but I would like to confront Jimmy-Joe head on and not from surprise. I want him to know who we are and what we plan to do to his operation and most importantly why. We are a pretty kick ass group of vagabonds and freebooters, I have no doubt we can bring the smack down of justice to this evil genius named Jimmy-Joe!

By the way, is there any room for discussion about the 1st strike + 0 END = unconscious rule. It’s great when it happens to enemies but a single lucky shot against us at the beginning of the fire fight might mean that we are out for the duration. If we go 0 Physical Stat + 0 Physical Stat = unconsciousness we would have more time to fight (and whip out a first aid kit) Just an idea

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The Knockout Blow optional rule makes an enormous difference to how combats end up so it’s not a decision that can be taken lightly.

Currently, the group with surprise (usually the party) has a major advantage. With the party’s major advantage in terms of weapons and armor (usually), it means that the bad guys need to outnumber the party quite a bit in order for a combat to last more than a round or two.

This could be changed though by reducing the numbers of adversaries.

What worries me too a little is that it would be a lot easier for a character to die without this rule. If the character is unlucky once using the Knockout Blow rule, then he or she ends up unconscious. Without the rule, then two unlucky hits could see the character going straight from alive to dead instantly.

In the previous game, we had a situation where one of the players liked to make heroic charges. It usually ended up getting him taken out pretty quickly as a result. I’ve always liked the fact that in Traveller, as in real life, fortune favors the cautious, not the bold. This brings more tactics into the game as everyone is forced to make full use of cover and take line of sight into account when planning their moves. Otherwise we don’t really need maps if it’s just a case of each side blasting one another until it ends up as a war of attrition.

That’s my two cents, but I’m interested in hearing what everyone else thinks.

101-1106
 

Well, I think there’s a case to be made for having the PCs go to “0 Physical Stat + 0 Physical Stat = unconsciousness”, while NPCs should have the “instant knockout” rule applied…So, you see, that’s why we should do it that way.

;-)

Seriously, I’m kinda inclined to go with the “knockout rule”. Remember, it only applies if "a character’s END is reduced from its starting value to 0 by a single attack, giving higher END characters a big advantage (read William especially :-) as well as those more heavily armored (read us, most of the time). I don’t know if you’ve been using it this way, Nick? Or just working from a one characteristic goes to 0 means unconscious angle? Something else we might want to consider would be keeping first blood at the R(ules)A(s)W(ritten) END stat for NPCs but allowing PCs to pick, giving them an option to channel the first damage to a stat of their choice, keeping them awake a little bit longer than the bad guys without neccessarily running their total damage pool dangerously low, as Nick pointed out in re: 1 stat knockouts v 2 stat knockouts?

Grim/Ian

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I’ve been playing it exactly as per the Knockout Blow rule so that, if they survive ‘first blood’ then they continue until at least two stats are down to zero.

All the characters have such great death-dealing weapons though that it’s rare that anyone does less than the 12 points of damage needed to knock out even an average NPC wearing cloth.

The way that all the previous combats have gone, do you all really want to make it that much easier for the party to win every time?!

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I like the knockout rule (but not, as William, the First Blood rule!). We’ve got plenty (or will have) drugs to get a knocked out PC back on their feet quickly.

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Now that you mention it, yes I really want it to be easy. And I’d like more treasure. Also, we’re a bit short on dancing girls. Just kidding, lol. I think the combats are working out well as currently played. As I said, I’m good with the knockout rule as we’re using it; I was just exploring tweaks, but it’s good for me as it stands!

Grim/Ian

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More dancing girls? You’ve got Jie, remember – all you need to do is give her a little moonshine and she’ll be off again!

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{Grim winces as he remembers seeing Jie clutching Black Betty while she danced, as though the carbine was a lover, whispering something into the weapons heat exchanger baffle…}

Uh, I meant dancing girls. Not female marines who happen to dance, lol. You know…?

…Oh, what the hell, “Jie, you want a drink?”

;-P

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I like the KO rule-in fact I assumed it when Taeva got hit.

When we are confined to worlds with semi auto pistols or blades the mega weapons won’t be much use.

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I see your point Nick. The KO rule does kind of make this a straigists game. Again, I have played Traveller infrequently a long time ago and your insights are profound. (I should get extra Experiance Points for a sentence like that!!!) and as for you Grim…

I jump up on a table

Turn to the left…Turn to the right…Wave my hands

Jump up and down a couple of times

“Now give me dollar bills or I’ll kill you”

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{Grim hands over quite a few credits ;-}

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NickPendrell

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