Sunday, May 2, 2010

Clone Wars Campaign: Recap # 36

This session began with another "cut-scene" for Arresta, this time taking place at a fancy club (with tango music in the background). I ran Stefan as an NPC, and two of the players ran Bel Sekand (making his first appearance in quite some time) and a Jedi named Kasa. The scene reinforced to the players' minds just how cold-hearted Stefan could be, and the guy running Bel Sekand did such a great job that we brought the character back several times. This scene also is the first mention that Stefan has an obligation to help retake Mongui for Jocasta, and that Jocasta is spending a lot of money for something happening on Arkania. The first clue would lead into the next story arc, while the second still remains mysterious . . .

The regular part of the session, with the characters fighting room-by-room through a heavily-defended office complex, was probably the closest I've come to the Star Wars equivalent of a dungeon crawl. It was an action packed session, and the ending is something we still laugh about today. Basically, the PCs found themselves up against a foe who was kicking their asses (a Jedi Hunter/Killer droid from the novel The Cestus Deception) and decided to have their demolitions expert, Daal, pack dozens and dozens of grenades onto a protocol droid and send it in to kill the battle droid. It was a good plan, but they completely forgot to get any distance separating themselves from the massive explosion, and everyone ended up in negative or single digit hit points (except for the one character who had Evasion). Couple this explosion (which lit up the skyline of the city) and the explosion in the next story arc (involving a nuclear reactor) and I have the LEAST SUBTLE PCs EVER!

Great fun!

Update (July 26, 2012):  Added two brief previously secret scenes: Daal perhaps finding an ally against Jocasta and Arresta and Stefan agreeing that to abandon Mongui for a life elsewhere.


Negotiations between the Republic and Cestus Cybernetics have taken a surprising turn: Jedi Knight A’tel Por’ten has agreed to return to the family business once the assault on the Separatist-occupied Joriander Beacon is concluded. However, with Garit Por’ten in critical condition, the location of the Beacon still not safely in hand, and the circulation of rumours that rival corporations have entered the fray, this fragile success could still be undone . . .

Following his "training exercise" on Rhinnal, Stefan Cassadine has convinced his wife that he would never risk their baby, which has partly mollified her anger. Sensing that she is still somewhat distressed, he proposes to make it up to her with a romantic evening out. He tells her to wear something sexy – and when she asks if she should be armed, he responds only with a smile.

The Knife’s Edge docks with a pleasure cruiser and the Cassadines come on board and enter an elaborate ballroom with a well-stocked bar and a live band on a floating platform. With sultry tango music in the background, they take to the dance floor. As they move in time to the music, Arresta share intelligence on Jocasta, revealing that she is investing heavily on the planet Arkania. Stefan tells his wife that in order to fully discharge the debt he incurred to Jocasta for information on Arresta's whereabouts, he must retake Mongui (now ruled by Purity First) and make it available to Jocasta for a short period of time. He proposes to Arresta that afterwards, they can rule the planet, not as Regents but as King and Queen, securing an important legacy for their daughter. Arresta is aghast and questions him about the role her sister Corinne will play in this plan. He explains that Arresta is meant to befriend her sister, gain intel and contacts with her resistance group on Mongui, and then eliminate her. Arresta protests and he assures her that he only wants her to experience the unique elation he felt the day he slit his own father’s throat.

Arresta recalls the vision she was shown while in the Anomaly, of a possible future with herself as Queen of Mongui, turning a bound and beaten Tarn Tamarand over to a mysterious figure in black body armour. She doesn’t mention this to Stefan, but does tell him the she has no interest in ruling Mongui and is vehemently opposed to this plan.

At that moment, the doors to the ballroom open and Bel Sekand, who orchestrated Arresta’s kidnapping and disposal as a “prize” on Ansion, enters the room with two ladies by his side. Stefan points him out to Arresta and, telling her that the security cameras have been turned off, suggests that she take her revenge. Meanwhile, Kasa, a young Gungan Jedi Knight, has been waiting for the notorious criminal mastermind Bel Sekand to arrive. Kasa attempts to take Sekand into custody. While they talk, Sekand summons his bodyguards. The Cassadines approach and Bel and Stefan exchange veiled threats. Eventually, Kasa makes arrangements with Sekand to delay his arrest until the end of the evening (out of concern that innocent bystanders will fall prey to any exchange of weapons fire).

Having returned to their table, Stefan and Arresta argue again, as he suggests that to gain the knowledge she wanted in fighting force users, she should attempt to eliminate Kasa. Arresta refuses, telling her husband that sometimes she wonders if he knows her at all. When Bel Sekand approaches and invites her to dance, she accepts, much to Stefan’s displeasure.

While they dance, Stefan approaches Bel’s female companions and engages them in conversation. Suspicious, Bel decides to return to them, but not before he dips Arresta in dramatic fashion and kisses her cheek – causing her watching husband to smash a glass in his bare hand.

While Arresta tends to her husbands’ injured hand and chides him to control his jealousy, one of Sekand’s lady friends suddenly collapses in convulsions. Paramedics arrive and she is rushed away. Sekand sends his other companion home and heads towards Stefan Cassadine. Kasa instructs the bartender to sound the fire alarm, sending the other innocent patrons out of harm's way.

Sekand accuses Stefan of poisoning his companion, which Cassadine denies with a smirk. Weapons are drawn and although her husband encourages her to stay back, Arresta draws her own blaster pistol and remains at his side. Sekand fires first, but the blaster bolt goes awry. An instant later, Bel is not so lucky. He is slashed across the face by Stefan’s poisoned dagger and although he manages to withstand the effects of the Malkite toxin, he is then snap-kicked by a spike-heel wearing Arresta, and hit by a point-blank blaster shot.

Kasa successfully persuades Sekand’s bodyguards to abandon him and then convinces the wounded crimelord that discretion, in this case surrender to his custody, is the prudent choice. He then confirms that the Cassadines have permits for their weapons and takes both of their identities down for his report.
Sekand allows himself to be led away, calling out threats to Stefan. Alone again, Arresta asks her husband if she should be concerned that the injuries suffered by Sekand’s “friend” will incriminate him, but he assures her that he used an untraceable biodegradable substance. With that excitement over with, he leads her back onto the dance floor, and they continue their evening without further distraction

Later, back on board the Knife’s Edge, Arresta seduces her husband, trying to persuade him that once they get Jocasta what she needs on Mongui, they can abandon the planet to Corinne or anyone else. When he asks her what she does want, she tells him that she wants him to be happy, that she wants Allegra to be safe and that she doesn’t want them to be tied down to a planet with a plethora of responsibilities. Whether for his own ends, or due to his wife’s feminine wiles, Stefan agrees. “Very well, Pet, we’ll do it your way. We’ll discharge my debt to Jocasta and then we’ll leave Mongui – and you and me and our daughter will travel as we see fit. And wherever we go, we’ll set the galaxy on fire….”

Far off, in the Corporate Sector on the capital planet of Etti IV, Daal accesses the mainframe at what his co-workers call the "ARC"--the "Anomaly Research Center", which they think is owned by one of the major interstellar corporations based on the planet. Daal realizes that the mainframe has compiled the first dribbles of information about the Anomaly's energy signature, which may eventually be of some use in tracking it. As he continues analyzing the information, Daal notices on a holovid monitor that a news crawl indicates an explosion at Cestus Cybernetics and the wounding of a man named Por'ten. Daal comlinks Doxen and learns that, although A'tel is okay, the Jedi may be in over his head and that the Duro's services would be extremely helpful. Before leaving the mainframe, Daal decides to try and encrypt the data so that only he'll have access to it--unfortunately, an extremely sophisticated anti-slicing program manages to narrowly avert his attempt. On his way out of the facility, Daal encounters the man whom Jocasta claims is his father. The elder Duro says that he ran a DNA test, confirming their relationship, and wonders why Balan changed his face, because he looks like a Stranger. Daal is still suspicious and takes his leave, stating that he'll return in about a week.

While in a robohack bound for Cestus headquarters, he receives a text-only message on his comlink from an anonymous source inviting him to meet "in order to get revenge on Jocasta."  Daal ignores the message.

At Cestus headquarters, A’tel Por’ten prepares for his first press conference as the Acting EXO of Cestus Cybernetics and Viceprex--Licensing of Cybot Galactica. He is aided by the head of company Public Relations, Lily Stiles. She informs him that a press release is being prepared, explaining how Garit was injured saving two small children from a malfunctioning Republic-made droid. While planning to retrieve the data cube with the Beacon coordinates, Doxen and Ms. Prentiss realize how tight security is for Garit's private office and that without Garit, they cannot get the access that they need. Doxen asks Ms. Prentiss to draw up paperwork for A’tel to sign, allowing them to bring in a sub-contractor for 25,000 credits. Ms. Prentiss also files the required 24-hour off-planet departure notice, which means the shuttle will be authorized to lift off at approximately 4 p.m. tomorrow afternoon.

With his companions urging extreme caution, A’tel enters the chaos of the PR briefing and it goes well, although he is inundated with questions and has to face down Tochs Niarb, the EXO of IntelStar Ltd. – a rival corporation that Ms. Prentiss tells him also wants control of the Joriander Beacon. Doxen is furious when one of the reporters insists on asking A’tel what species his furry “pet” belongs to.

After the briefing, A’tel realizes that Garit's majordomo, Regulus Trotter, is missing. A check by Ms. Prentiss reveals he is about to board a starliner and they head off to stop him. Trotter is stopped at the starport with seconds to spare and, after a blubbering crying fit, reveals that he sold classified intel on Cestus security procedures to an anonymous buyer. Ms. Prentiss is able to back-trace the deposit made to Trotter's account and learns it was made by IntelStar. She turns Trotter over to her superior at the Auditor General's office so that an official investigation can begin. She and A’tel then travel to an Espo precinct in a distant suburb of Mondder in order to file an application to have the Jedi's lightsaber classified as a "religious artifact" that can be legally carried within the Sector.

Meanwhile, Aaray heads for the shuttle in order to use its transceiver to contact the Majestic. While walking down a crowded plaza, he notices a familiar face--his own! Aaray chases after the Clone, and after a long pursuit catches up to him at a labourers' tenement house. A handful of Clones are there living together, but all but one of them are spooked by Aaray's sudden arrival and they bolt. The remaining Clone explains that he's a runaway, dissatisfied with how the Republic treats Clones as property and orders them into battle with little concern for their well-being or future. Aaray agrees not to turn in the deserters and even promises to send them information on a potential sanctuary where they can learn about their Mandalorian heritage . . .

When Aaray reaches the shuttle, he finds Espos waiting and attempting to gain access for a parking violation. Ms. Prentiss, whom he immediately contacts, finds this highly suspicious and is able to keep the Espos at bay. She arranges for a junior officer from her department to investigate further.

Late in the evening, Daal, Doxen, A’tel and Ms. Prentiss meet outside the secure offices of Garit Por’ten. They attempt to fool the security droid into letting them in by putting together looped footage of Garit, but they cannot supply the vocal password that is also required. Garit’s voice comes over the comm system in a pre-recorded message which taunts his brother and promises danger to come. Daal manages to rewire the door controls to gain entry, but the security systems are now on high alert.
In the first hallway, laser beams block access to a locked door leading to the security monitoring room. Daal is able to fashion a series of improvised grenades, removing many of the deadly beams. With them out of the way, they are able to break through the door. However, on the other side, they face several Cortosis-armored battle droids, whose special synthetic plating temporarily deactivates lightsabers after every strike. Doxen creates a distraction and Daal tries his droid jammer.
Unfortunately, it has no effect and A’tel (with his lightsaber) and Ms. Prentiss (with her sonic blaster and energy shield) must take the droids out in direct combat. With them out of the way, Daal and Ms. Prentiss activate the security computer and use the scanners to check adjoining rooms. They learn that the outer ceremonial office is guarded by two motion-activated e-web blasters, but the security grid for each room is locked down and unsliceable. After Daal is blasted by the e-webs while testing their effectiveness, the group explores other routes to Garit's inner sanctum.

[A.G. 967]

A’tel and Doxen explore the reception area and are exposed to a psychotropic gas, which makes A’tel extremely anxious and Doxen (even more) paranoid. Doxen barricades himself in the security office, warning the others to stay away, while the Jedi begins to attack the wall to the corridor outside Garit's private office with his lightsaber, desperate to cut his way through. Eventually, the psychotically paranoid Doxen escapes to the turbolift shaft and A’tel gets through the wall, with some help from Daal and his grenades. The corridor beyond, leading to Garit’s private office, is also booby-trapped. Acid sprays from the ceiling and the hallway is guarded by an illegal and deadly Jedi Hunter-Killer Droid (containing a Force-sensitive dashta eel), a carry over from the company scandal on Ord Cestus. The team temporarily retreats.

Daal gets word from his protocol droid that several men shrouded in grey (matching the description of the men the others fought previously at the starport) have managed to penetrate the lobby's security perimeter and are making their way into the offices. Doxen manages to kill one in the turbolift shaft with improvised weapons, but three more of the Grey Men attack the remaining team members. The unarmed Daal and the lightly-armed Ms. Prentiss try to help A'tel fend off the attackers. It's a long and brutal fight, but eventually the Grey Men are destroyed, with the self-immolation vests leaving no trace they were every there. The team presumes that they were working for IntelStar and were also here to gain the coordinates to the Beacon. Although the battle is won, none of the team escape unscathed.
Finally, the psychotropic gas wears off and A’tel and Doxen regain their faculties. The group debates for some time how to handle the deadly Jedi Hunter-Killer Droid. They ultimately decide that they will load a labour droid up with twenty-four improvised grenades, send it in to the corridor, and remotely detonate the explosives from a distance the moment the Hunter-Killer droid attacks. However, the Hunter-Killer senses their plan and flings the bomb-laden labour droid away. Doxen gathers his courage and shows surprising strength in lifting and pushing the now mostly-defunct labour droid towards the rapidly approaching Hunter-Killer. The instant that Doxen leaps away around the corner, Daal triggers the grenades, setting off a staggering explosion which incinerates the Hunter-Killer and sends a massive fireball spewing towards A’tel, Daal and Ms. Prentiss.

When the smoke clears, they are one acid-filled corridor away from their goal: the private office and the presumed location of the data cube pinpointing the Joriander Beacon. The cost is high though, as Daal is severely hurt in the blast, A'tel is barely conscious, and Ms. Prentiss lies perilously close to death.

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1 comment:

The Wife said...

That ending was a total "oh crap" cliff-hanger and taught us two things. 1) Be very wary of telling Daal to make "as many grenades as you can - because he can make ALOT and 2) when preparing for a massive explosion....always think about whether you are standing in the blast radius.

I'd forgotten about Array and the clones. I'm guessing he never sent that message...

The tango cut scene was alot of fun. Bel Sekand was a fun NPC since he really got under Stefan's skin - and in this scene served to show that Stefan and Arresta have that classic "it's okay for US to argue with one another - but YOU better not try it" - as they always tend to back one another up. Stefan's extreme jealousy rears its head for the first time too...

It was also the session when I realized that Arresta was probably going to get sucked back into going to her home planet of MonGui - something she was trying to avoid.

Plus - intergalactic tango club - who doesn't want to go there?