Recovery from the Malcontents

Characters: Erlenmeyer (helpful robotic labourer); Edwin (veteran security chief of the Stymphalian); Xenon (chaotic evil mercenary*).

Game: Orison (v2.9..ish), my under-construction sci-fi RPG.

Thoughts: Tom seemed to enjoy running the session but agreed it was a different beast to WRFP, as the GM doesn’t roll any dice (a la Apocalypse World et al.) Henchmen need some work – perhaps for future sessions henchmen guarantee a success for one roll relevant to their occupation, after which they’re dead meat? Also, finally a death roll – yay – although it was rushed. Interesting there was no complaint for the character actually taking the death option, regardless. Needs more research!

Aboard the Stymphalian, Orison Sector:

The characters are requested to recover an experimental engine on behalf of Qynntal Hskiin, representing (in an unofficial capacity) Interstellar Express. The engine, built into a research craft, crash landed on a radioactive planetoid in the Malcontent belt. The conditions are harsh, and organics won’t last long in the poisonous atmosphere even with respirators, so time is of the essence.

Reinforcements are recommended, and there’s no end of likely candidates on board. Xenon calls in a favour from Mickey, a hacker pal of his. Edwin brings Lancel, a petty criminal on probation. Erlenmeyer’s over the moon at being hired for an ‘adventure’ and only knows one other soul on the ship well enough to ask – a fellow worker (and average engineer) Keelah.
The party sets off in the shuttle from Malcontent, but runs into a sandstorm while breaking atmo and need to do an emergency landing. Fortunately Edwin once again shows off his expert piloting skills – where did an ex-miner learn to fly like that, anyhow? – and gets everyone down in one piece. The shuttle won’t take off again – Erlenmeyer after a quick assessment says the main thruster will need replacing.**

Keelah agrees to stay with the ship while the others take a look outside. It’s not long before the party sees a group of small natives approaching the ship, dressed in rags – they flee when approached. Erlenmeyer converts to his truck mode and everyone clambers on board to give chase.

The fleeing locals lead the party to a junked-up shanty town. Contact with the local guards is difficult – there’s a bit of a language barrier – until Erlenmeyer suggests trade. That’s enough to get the gates open, grudgingly.
Inside, the party find a dingy supermarket, scuttled diner serving questionable (likely contaminated, by the organic’s estimation) food and a serviceable workshop. Asking around reveals a potential location of the crash site – out past a dangerous-looking sandstorm.

Approaching the workshop in search of heavier vehicles (Erl being unsuited to heavy loads or the terrain) the scruffy, diminutive foreman gives the group two options – the “tank” (which he’s very unwilling to part with) or one of the simpler, two-man dirt buggies. Edwin and Xenon vote for the tank, but in the end price and expediency win out and they settle for one of the buggies instead.

The intial sortie out of town goes badly. Lost in the sandstorm and without a way to keep together, the group splits apart. Keelah attempts to get both vehicles back on track, leading them out of the storm… right back to the town gates, where they started!

Clearly, supplies were in order. The group try the supermarket for supplies, but Edwin – taking point – takes insult at the shopkeeper’s attitude and storms off. Erlenmeyer tries again, doing his best to smooth over the situation (and pick up a few bits and pieces that’ll make him look like more of a hardcore merc.) He comes out with a chain to link himself, in vehicle mode, to the buggy as well as the knowledge there’s a series of flashing pylons out in the storm that will lead the party in the right direction.
In the sandstorm – mostly get out, but -Xenon’s respirator is knocked off briefly and Mickey, riding on Erl, is attacked and carried further into the storm by a pack of dog-like beasts.

Acting heroic, Edwin and Erl head back in to kill the beasts, and manage to rescue their ally.

Shortly after they find the aft of the ship they’ve been looking for – broken off and buried in the sand. Mickey is somewhat stabilised, but Xenon continues to get worse. By the time they get to the cover of the ship’s tail fin, Xenon is coughing blood.. then he stops doing even that much.***

Luckily, a brief search finds a replacement thruster in the tail section – but where’s the rest of the ship? Edwin and the injured but still active Mickey set to removing the thruster and loading it into the buggy, while Erlenmeyer sets off with Lancel the merc in tow to explore a long gouge in the landscape. At the end of the gouge the pair find the rest of the ship – now partially entombed in the rock below. Part of the cockpit section is rent open, strewn with more ragged corpses.

Reuniting at the ship entrance, the armoured robot is sent in first, and met with a few warning shots. The ship’s pilot, highly wounded and contaminated by the foul air, keeps them at bay. “Are you the rescue team?”*

Erl looks back at Edwin, Edwin nods quickly* “….yes. Yes we are!”****

By the looks of the tracks, more of the little locals had gotten into the cargo section, lifting several pieces of hardware by the looks of the smashed crates. No sign of the engine – the team finish their sweep before heading back out.

In what probably used to be the engine room, half buried in rock, there still seems to be some power. A series of glowing tubes line the walls – a power source? Unknown, but according to the brief, they aren’t the engine.

Fortunately, with the power still on the group can check out a terminal and find where the engine’s supposed to be installed – under the cockpit! Back we go… (Edwin helps Erl stow a couple of the tubes for later, since they look expensive.)

A cursory search of what remains of the cockpit reveals the engine, which lifts out with relative ease. Just as Erlenmeyer’s converting back to vehicle mode to stash the engine and other loot, the sound of revving engines and an ominous dust cloud appear on the horizon…

The crew mount up and head back to the tail, with a well-armed convoy of ramshackle vehicles behind them. Erlenmeyer sideswipes one of them into a canyon wall; another falls to Edwin’s gunfire. That evens the playing field a little, but there’s still a couple of light trucks plus one MASSIVE battlewagon***** bearing down on them.

The gang makes haste back to town. (Erlenmeyer had promised the store owner some tasty scrap as barter, but oh well… no time for that!) Getting back, Keelah was prepped to get the new thruster in place and everything stowed, while the rest of the party took up firing positions. Several of the locals had dismounted and were approaching with crude crossbows and hand weapons, while the rest were mounting something heavy and shiny on the battlewagon…

A few lucky shots downed the front row of the scum (Erlenmeyer cradling Xenon’s old rifle crudely in his big chrome claws), but the rest continued unbroken. Time for a strategic withdrawl!
Everyone got back on the shuttle without issue, but came under fire from the scavenged ‘toy’ – a big old laser cannon. Lasfire shook the hull, throwing poor Keelah from her seat. She flew through the shuttle and collapsed against the bulkhead with a sickening crunch – but the shuttle broke atmo and was on the way back.

Unfortunately, the extra time spent on the planet had taken it’s toll on the injured Mickey. He was already shaking and coughing up blood by the time they got to the Stymphalian’s airlock. Unwilling to risk contamination, Torquill (ship’s second) said they’d have to deal with him before any of them would be let on the ship proper. With a sigh, Erlenmeyer shouldered Xenon’s rifle once again… his first taste of action ended with more bloodshed than he’d hoped for, I think!*****

* Worth pointing out this system isn’t supposed to have an alignment mechanic…

** Given Erlenmeyer is no engineer, and his big robot claws aren’t the lightest touch, it’s entirely possible the thruster was fine until he got a look at it…

*** At this point, Xenon’s character had to leave early. We’d already established prior to starting that, due to the harsh conditions, organic characters were going to get steadily worse. Leaving early meant Xenon’s player had to make his death roll early, and although rolling well, chose to go out ‘in a blaze of glory’. Given the fact he left immediately after and he hadn’t left at a particularly dramatic point, Xenon’s death was probably far less glorious than intended! Still, at least everyone else got to keep all his stuff…

**** …and then the wounded pilot was locked in a bathroom against his will and forgotten about for the rest of the encounter. Whoops…

***** Well, it wasn’t officially called a “battlewagon“… but that’s what I assumed it was!

***** …does anyone know how to make footnotes in WordPress??