It’s time to get the hell off Elyria and find what Swales has been looking for. That said: Easy Mode is over. No more bonuses to XP, credits, and the like for us!
No invasion is happening, at least not yet; the Acidic Angel is just leaving the planet. Swales spends 5 credits in fuels and other travel costs to get to the next world, Noth V58.
As they’re leaving, they find a debris field in their path, whether from a recent collision or perhaps even from a battle (since we know the Unity government has been operating in the area). She can’t get around it, so she has to go through it. That means we need to make three piloting rolls; she succeeds on two of them, so the ship takes 1D6 (1) Hull Point damage! That’ll require some repairs on the next world for this hull that’s really just a collection of bits of salvaged ships bolted together.
Two rivals have followed the Weekenders: the cultists and the Brat Gang. The latter are less surprising, since they fought the crew earlier on one of the truth-seeking quest missions. We’ll have to deal with them at some point, I expect.
No Freelancer License is required here on Noth V58, fortunately. This is a barren world, with no plants anywhere on the surface; however, “the natives have extremely close bonds with the local fauna” (rolled from Stars Without Number). Some of the enemies here could include “the half-feral warlord of a beast swarm, a coldly inhuman scientist, [or] an altered beast with human intellect and furious malice.”Potential places to visit include a park designed as a comfortable home for beasts, a public plaza designed to accommodate animal companions, [or] a factory full of animal workers”. What kinds of creatures live on a barren world with no vegetation? Likely genetically engineered ones.
Our crew needs 1 credit for upkeep; the hull damage is minor enough that a few hours of work will fix it without additional expenditure.
Previously, the crew had acquired some quality food and booze, which they can now use to throw a recruitment event and get a free crew member without spending a crew task on it. The dice initially indicate a bot recruit, but that doesn’t make sense given the fiction here, so I’ll reroll without spending a story point (not that I’m short on them). The result is a baseline human, like everybody else on the crew. As before, I’m going to roll on the background table (despite the injunction in the text), but not use the equipment or bonuses. This just informs the narrative around the character.
So we have Robert Shelby, from a comfortable megacity class (albeit a bit primitive) who seeks fame. He shows up with a handgun and blade, but we have a Blast Rifle for him to use instead of the handgun.
The trade goods from Kothea 4 are worth 3 credits here; Swales decides to go ahead and sell them now.
As noted, Shelby gets the Blast Rifle. Darby takes the Boarding Saber that Notley previously wielded; it’s interesting that one of the crew members who’s most skeptical about the value of violence is so well-armed. Notley’s old Combat Armor goes to Reeves.
There’s no chance of rival interference this time due to the decoy work by Alden and Shelby (I’d just need to roll above a 0 on a D6).
Instead, we’re taking the quest finale for the truth-seeking quest. That means the objective will be a Straight-Up Fight, with an extra enemy and the entire opposition is Fearless (they will never bail), but no other modifications.
This Unique Individual is a Hakshan Investigator, who are “odd, suited aliens that trek the galaxy in search of something vitally important to their species.” (Sounds like the quarians from Mass Effect.)
Now that the crew is on a world with a solid surface, I can try some other maps. For this fight, I’m using the Devil’s Gate map from Gabriel Pickard’s Quick Encounters: Jagged Wastes set. I set it as 2.5’ x 2.5’. The crew will enter from the eastern edge again.
There’s no special condition here after round 1.
The crew is able to Seize the Initiative, and therefore they all get a free Move action.
In addition, due to the Surprise Encounter, the enemy doesn’t move at all in this round. Reeves will climb up to the top of a spire, giving her a bit of cover and a good vantage point for her Colony Rifle and Bipod. Shelby just climbs onto the base of the spire, in better cover while wielding his Blast Rifle, and Darby acts similarly. Crowder scrambles on top of the center feature (which forms part of the gate) with her Needle Rifle. Alden and Swales both crouch at the northern edge of the same gate piece.
In the Quick Actions phase, Crowder crawls a bit higher on the gate. Reeves opts not to act, instead waiting for the enemy to move and thus use snap fire. (This is a rule I didn’t realize even existed until recently!)
For the enemy, first the Hakshan Investigator moves to cover behind a jagged protrusion from part of the gate, and they don’t yet have line of sight on Crowder. As the Lieutenant tries to take cover, Reeves takes aim and fires, dropping them immediately. The Specialist and two Enforcers move behind a large spire, while the last Enforcer stands next to the Hakshan behind that large protrusion.
Now in the Slow Actions phase, Swales climbs up a little bit and shoots her Fury Rifle at an Enforcer next to the Specialist, taking them out. Alden does the same, firing a Military Rifle at the Specialist but missing. Darby and Shelby can’t get a clear shot, so they hold until the next round rather than run into open ground.
Reeves and Crowder hold their action for snap fire, waiting for enemies to enter their fields of fire.
The Hakshan Investigator leaps over the jagged spire into cover, but that’s when Crowder takes her shot, stunning them. That clears the way for the Enforcer to move into cover as well without getting their head blown off. On the northern side of the battlefield, an Enforcer advances slowly around cover, but Reeves is waiting for this and fires, stunning the enemy. Finally, the Specialist moves to where the Enforcer had been, knowing Reeves doesn’t have another shot right now. Shelby is nearby but out of range of the Specialist’s Cling Fire Pistol.
And on that note, Shelby fires from cover, taking out the Specialist. Swales takes a careful shot at an Enforcer in cover, which also takes them down. Darby drops out of cover to have an angle on the Enforcer that Reeves stunned, killing them. Alden falls back very slightly to a more secure position, waiting to see where the Hakshan will go.
None of the crew goes in the Quick Actions phase, so the Hakshan Investigator fires their Plasma Rifle at Crowder and splinters of rock go flying as the shot misses her.
Crowder returns fire, but her Needle Rifle misses. Alden crawls over the gate somewhat and the crack of a Military Rifle shot rings out, hitting nothing. Swales also has to move to get a shot (therefore not able to aim), hitting despite the difficulty of moving and shooting a heavy weapon (her Fury Rifle) in the same round. This is enough, and the Hakshan Investigator falls.
The Weekenders have won the day and Swales can finally get her answers.
These enforcers don’t become rivals; perhaps they were acting outside of their official duties. Instead, the crew gets 4 credits in salvage, plus they find a Motion Tracker (which helps when attempting to Seize the Initiative), a Stim-pack, another Bipod, Ship Parts worth 3 credits (only usable when installing a new Starship Part), and a Cargo Crate worth another 4 credits. (I’ll talk about the quest results below.)
Everyone gets 3 XP, and Reeves gets the extra 1 XP for the first kill. Crowder and Reeves each spend XP on +1 Toughness (Reeves is maxed at 6 now), and Darby gets another +1 Combat.
The Captain opts to invest 3 credits in some new gear and comes up with a shiny new Nano-doc for the ship (which will prevent one future roll on the Injury table). While she’s at it, a shady character offers her a deal, and trades out the handgun that Shelby had for a Frag Vest (6+ Armor saving throw), which Shelby takes. It’s only fair, obviously, since that was his gun. Reeves earns a little on the side, likely from selling some info on that Hakshan Investigator, and the Weekenders gain another 2 credits.
Thinking about that quest, I roll up a Descriptor and Focus on the Starforged oracles, and I get “Moving Illusion”. To me, this means that she learns it wasn’t what her crew carried; they were a decoy for someone else’s operation, and in fact even the commendation was part of the ruse. That relieves her conscience a bit, as she’d started to think they were carrying some bio-weapon or other horrible thing.
From here, I think I’m going to take a brief interlude from this campaign, as I’ve been playing it nearly daily for a few weeks. It’ll be back very soon, though, and I’ll have a few more thoughts about the system when I do.