Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Clone Wars Campaign: Recap # 30

This was the second session in the big City of Sand story-arc. There's not a lot of action (an inconclusive fist-fight between the Jedi and a Trandoshan; a bloodless space battle), but some excellent role-playing and plot-advancement kept the session fun.

The characters and plots from the Tempest Feud campaign book make their first appearance here (the Hutts, the missing Mika, the Bomu Vengeance pirates), and I was pretty happy with how their differing personalities turned out and how well they integrated into the gameplay as it was a big pain in the butt to convert their stats into Saga edition.

The character of Kronos makes an appearance here as well; he's portrayed as a strange, pudgy bald man with the apparent ability to foresee, at least to some degree, probabilities as to what will happen in the future. The idea for Kronos comes from an obscure Marvel Comics super-villain named Tick-Tock. Kronos' backstory and mystery look to be the subject of our next (real-time) story arc.

We also see another example of Daal thinking himself pretty slick in once again managing to avoid paying Jocasta--this is going to turn around and bite him big in a few sessions . . .


Nine months into the Clone Wars, a pair of massive explosions shake the gardens of the Jedi Temple. A trio of Senate investigators are found on the scene, but only one of them claims to remember what happened – and he tells a strange story indeed. As dawn breaks on Coruscant, the wounded investigators face a difficult day ahead: a mysterious assailant nowhere to be found, Padawan Tarn Tamarand still missing, and the receipt of a cryptic message from the fourth member of their team…

The gardens of the Jedi temple are in shambles. Daal Mordo claims that the group was attacked by the evil entity behind the recent string of murders – a strange being who describes himself as the Seventh of the Nine and who can disguise himself through the power of the Force. Daal explains the situation to his confused comrades: the Jedi Knight Atel Por’ten and the strange furry sniper called Doxen. They cannot remember what happened but Doxen uses his tracking skills to confirm through close examination of the ground that at least part of Daal’s story is true - a male was definitely standing in the shrubbery. He also notices that his comlink is missing, but cannot remember that he slipped it into the pocket of the attacker.

When Tyree Coramon arrives, she is somewhat suspicious of the story told by the Durosian, but the others convince her that something has indeed transpired. She confirms that the temple is now in temporary lockdown and sees that Sian Suan gets proper medical attention. She also informs them that they have performed a service for the Senate, as it seems that by scaring off the air car belonging to the terrorists the previous day, they caused a second group to become trapped, leading to their capture.

While Doxen continues to explore the temple, searching for signs of the escaped murderer and attempting to meet with senior Jedi officials, the others return to the command centre. There, Atel receives a visit from Jedi Master Horellius Creen who attempts to convince him that the item Tarn was carrying when he disappeared must be retrieved and that the mission is of vital importance. He suggests that Atel speak with a Hutt visiting Coruscant named Poparra, who was responsible for trying to sell the item on Nar Shadda. Creen provides contact information and instructs the young Jedi not to take Daal (who might be recognized from his earlier attempt to steal the item) or Doxen (who will be an object of mockery). However, Creen does suggest bringing Arresta, as "her last name alone may carry some weight."

Meanwhile, having left the Temple in the early hours of morning, Arresta reserves passage on an expensive private charter yacht bound for Alderaan in the hopes of tracking down Ycram Notwal, whom she suspects Tarn has gone to see. Just minutes before departure, however, she accepts a call from Daal. After the Durosian indicates he wants to help her find Tarn, she agrees to meet with him at the yacht in an Eastport launch bay. Taking a call from Atel, who indicates he also wishes to help her in her quest, she allows him to come and talk to her.

Together, Daal and Atel prepare to leave the temple. Outside on the steps, they see Carn Sokhol (the scarred Jedi veteran) in the distance, about to enter an airtaxi. Sokhol sees them and with a voice amplified through the Force calls out to Daal: "You played the game well, Stranger. I hope we'll have another chance to play again." Realizing that the Seventh of the Nine has been masquerading as Sokhol for weeks, Daal and Atel attempt to give chase. Unfortunately, the Force isn't with them, and the Sith's aircar is lost in the stream of traffic. Eventually, Metropol investigators track down the aircar, only to find its driver has committed "suicide" and there is no sign of "Carn Sokhol."

Arriving at an expensive luxury yacht, Daal and Atel find Arresta, who agrees to a separate audience with each of them. Daal confirms for the Princess that he is indeed, her old friend, Marpa Zalon, in disguise. Arresta agrees to continue to address him by his assumed name. Daal explains to Arresta that he owes a debt to herself and to Tarn for helping to get him acquitted during their trial. He wants to help her find the missing Padawan. Arresta is pleased that he will journey with her to Alderaan to find Ycram and hopefully pick up Tarn’s trail. She reminds Daal that Tarn is still carrying that strange lightsaber that he picked up in the anomaly – the one that most other people could never seem to see. The Princess claims that this is a rescue mission – Tarn is certain to get himself killed without help.

While Arresta goes to speak with Atel, the Durosian contacts Doxen and suggests that he come to the yacht to hear what the Princess has to say. He indicates that the information they have is relevant to the current investigation. In the yacht’s expensive central meeting area, Atel attempts to convince Princess Arresta that he should accompany her on this mission. Arresta is reluctant, but does admit that his skills might prove useful. However, she is clear that she does not trust the Jedi order and that she expects Atel to follow her commands – and that at the first sign of betrayal he’ll be enjoying a slow ride back to Coruscant in an escape pod. The Jedi Knight agrees and attempts to mollify the Princess by indicating that the Jedi order has many positive traits and that trying to find someone you love is something that he can identify with. Arresta is quick to protest that he shouldn’t presume to think that he understands her.

With that uneasy truce, the team meets with Doxen to try to convince him to join them. He expresses tentative interest – but must first assure himself that his Senatorial friend approves and that the Jedi temple is now secure. He returns and outlines a list of proposed security measure to Tyree Coromon who agrees to present them. Senator Orelus says that Doxen should follow his own best judgment in investigating the murders and Tarn's disappearance.

While Daal performs a computer search for information on Poparra the Hutt, Atel covers himself in grease and oil in order to gather some undercover information from local dock workers. Together, the two learn that Poparra runs a medium-sized criminal organization on Nar Shadda. The Hutt lord allegedly doesn't deal in slaves or spice and is known as relatively honest, as far as Hutt crimelords go. Poparra has two sons: Zonnos (the elder) and Mika (the younger). His majordomo is a clanless Hutt name Vago. Apparently, Poparra is on Coruscant in order to buy a freighter and a large batch of medicinal spice from his cousin, Ziro.

Atel and the increasingly impatient Arresta travel to the loading bay where Poparra's Ubrikkian yacht and new freighter (a Maka-Eekai L4000) are being prepared for launch. They see several Trandoshans loading creates aboard the freighter, while Vago (Poparra's majordomo) and his jade green protocol droid check the manifest. With some reluctance, Vago directs his droid to lead Atel and Arresta into the yacht's audience chamber. Inside, they witness Poparra arguing with his son Zonnos about whether the latter's retinue of Trandoshans are capable of rescuing Mika. As Atel looks on in confusion, Arresta speaks to Poparra in Huttese and offers to rescue Mika in exchange for information on where the item Tarn stole (the head of an MD-4 medical droid) was originally found. Zonnos interjects that the Jedi are mere tricksters and con men, leading Poparra to suggest a challenge between one of Zonnos' Trandoshans and Atel. The results of the fight are inconclusive, forcing Arresta to sweeten the deal by offering Poparra 10,000 credits in addition to rescuing Mika. Poparra is finally swayed, and tells them his majordomo will make all necessary arrangements.

The downside to this new arrangement is the time it will take for the “preparations” to be made. Returning to the yacht, Arresta chafes at the delay, smashing an expensive objet d’art to appease her anger. Atel’s attempts to soothe her temper are unsuccessful. To make good use of the waiting time, Arresta visits a nearby private clinic for a pre-natal check-up, receiving a clean bill of health for herself and her unborn baby.

Doxen and Daal spend their time obtaining an extensive array of supplies and weaponry. When they arrive to speak with Poparra’s henchman, they learn that a ship will be provided to them. They will travel into a quarantine zone, carrying the freight of medical grade spice, which they must also inject themselves with each day in order to inoculate themselves against the plague. Coordinates will be pre-programmed into the nav computer, and will lead them to the planet where the droid's head was found and where Mika was last seen. Arresta agrees to the terms with one condition – first the ship is programmed to travel to Alderaan with a 24 hour stop-over at that planet prior to commencing the next stage of the journey. Zonnos' Trandoshans finish the loading process and Poparra's yacht departs.

Minutes later, two members of the Sun Runners arrive outside the freighter and speak with Atel. The heavyset Kronos claims that in "18 of the next 19 potentialities" Daal departs Coruscant without paying Jocasta the promised sum of 17,750 credits. Atel tries to dissemble and distract them so Daal can hide inside the ship, but Kronos is undeterred. Doxen arrives on-scene and is told how Daal stole the money during a job and then promised to pay it back. As Daal begins the start-up sequence inside the ship's cockpit, Kronos warns that Jocasta's wrath "will be terrible indeed" and then departs. The freighter lifts off and enters hyperspace towards Alderaan. Doxen and Atel confront Daal, but the Durosian is unapologetic and states that Jocasta is a bloodthirsty pirate who doesn't deserve the money back.

Over the following days, Doxen talks to Arresta and gets some history on the so-called anomaly – a cylindrical vessel of unheard of size and composition that Arresta, Tarn and Daal once encountered. Inside that vessel, they encountered strange creatures, including the one calling himself the Seventh of the Nine. Time did not pass normally there and a strange prophecy referred to Marpa as the Stranger, 8P-MD-4 as the Automaton and Arresta as the Queen. Doxen questions the Princess regarding her relationship with the missing Tarn Tamarand but Arresta dodges the question. She claims a strong sense of loyalty to someone she was “close” to.

Atel again confronts Daal about his trustworthiness. Daal claims loyalty to Tarn, Arresta and the Jedi. He tells Atel to talk to the Princess about it if he needs more proof. Arresta defends Daal. “I trust him with my life and the life of my baby.” She also fills him in about the anomaly, and Atel seems mollified for the time being.

[A.G. 296]

Still in hyperspace and four days away from Alderaan, the ship begins to suffer strange power failures and then suddenly lurches out of hyperspace. Arresta stays in the pilot’s seat while the others investigate and discover crab droids that were secreted aboard the ship beginning to attack key systems. Within seconds, Doxen, Atel and Daal manage to destroy the droids. Daal starts works frantically to get the hyperspace drive up and running as a Rodian pirate vessel named the Bomu Vengeance pulls into view and orders the freighter to "Drop the spice or prepare to be boarded!" After a few seconds without receiving a reply, the Vengeance opens fire with ion and laser cannons. However, Arresta flies rings around the pirates and the freighter barely suffers a scratch. Meanwhile, Daal has fixed the sabotaged hyperdrive in record time. The pirates contact Arresta and marvel at her skill as a pilot, offering her the chance to join their crew. Anxious to continue her journey, Arresta smiles and activates the hyperdrive with one last parting comment. “Sorry boys, but you couldn’t afford me.”

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