Friday, June 17, 2016

Mynock Squadron Recap # 8 [RPG]

The pursuit of the NIF freighter continues. Waric damages the vessel's maneuvering thrusters with a skillful shot, and Stavros comms the freighter to order it to land. It does so, but the comm channel carries mostly static and a faint voice saying it is death to come aboard. With the sandstorm only minutes away, the pilots of Mynock Squadron hurry to land and board the ship. Stavros suggests everyone seal up their flight suits and helmets in case the defenders plan to use gas, a decision that will prove fortuitous, albeit for a different reason.

With Tazo-Rhi patrolling outside, Waric, Stavros, Keth, Kero, and Torga board the vessel. The interior is bathed in dim emergency lights and is quiet as a tomb. While the others stand watch near the closed cockpit blast door, Waric starts the search by moving down a narrow maintenance crawlspace; he discovers the body of an NIF member covered in dark purple striations and blotches. Waric instantly comms the others warning that they might have discovered a plague ship, and Kero rushes over. She examines the body and notes strange, fist-size lumps under each armpit. When she moves in to take blood and tissue samples, one of the lumps bursts, showering her helmet with pus and gore. She seems unfazed, however, but warns the others that, on first look, the disease reminds her of something she once read about in a treatise on ancient diseases from centuries past: the "blue-sickness", its causes and cure lost in antiquity.

The decision is made to secure the cockpit. Waric manages to override the blast door locks, but he's met by a spray of blaster fire in response. Torga tosses a stun grenade into the cockpit, and the powerful blast in such a confined space is enough to knock both of the defenders unconscious. However, none of the three defenders encountered so far match the description of the secret New Republic intelligence agent known as "Kors Tanzent".

Conscious of the need to take special precautions to avoid catching or spreading the disease, the group continues their exploration of the ship. Waric realizes the starboard escape pod is occupied and that, upon seeing him, the occupants have started the launch sequence. Working quickly and efficiently, he cuts the launch circuits and manually rewires the door controls to keep the two locked inside. Meanwhile, exploring the port side of the vessel, Stavros is examining the other escape pod when he is suddenly fired upon by two NIF agents who have popped out of a smuggler's compartment! The blasts shred the back of Stavros' flight suit and burn his skin, but he manages to dive for cover to escape further blasts. Torga and Keth engage the pirates and manage to drop both of them

While Stavros receives first aid from Kero, Keth and Torga continue exploring the freighter's portside aft compartments. From the darkened recesses of a cargo hold, a pirate driven mad by the disease ravaging his body leaps out at Torga with a vibroblade in his hand. His attack smashes the visor on her helmet and knocks her to the floor. He then tries to bite her face with his teeth! With the muzzle of her blaster against the man's ribcage, Torga fires a single fatal shot and rolls the corpse off of her. From the rear of the cargo hold, stepping out of a freezer, the agent known as Kors Tanzent appears. 

Shaking, covered in frost, and somewhat disoriented, Tanzent explains that he's surmised that cold slows down the progression of the disease, even though he knows ultimately it's too late for him. He explains that everything started after the Battle of Endor. Unbeknownst even to the Imperial ruler of Nishr, Governor Kollis, a secret Imperial bioweapons research facility was located in the dense asteroid belt near the planet. After the second Death Star was destroyed and the Emperor slain, the staff of the research facility decided to flee to avoid being arrested someday as war criminals. One of the fleeing scientists, however, fell into the hands of the Nishr Independence Force and they "persuaded" her to give the location of the base. Thinking there could be profit in it, the NIF tracked the base down and began exploring. Tanzent says his rescuers can guess the rest; something was released during their explorations, and the contagion spread through the members of the NIF rapidly. The disease, which has a two-day incubation period, is marked by purple striations, pus-filled lumps under the arms, and a painful, gasping death. Tanzent says he's tried to research the disease and obtain broad-spectrum antibiotics, and was fortunate enough to convince the other members of the group to stay aboard the freighter and allow a droid to load supplies in Drushar, lest the disease be ultimately tracked back to them. Tanzent has difficulty staying on his feet, but manages to convey the coordinates of the secret base and says it has to be destroyed as soon as possible so that the pirates waiting for the freighter's return with medical supplies don't flee all over the galaxy and spread the disease.

The group quickly discuss what to do. The decision is made to send Tanzent and the freighter back to New Republic space so that he can receive treatment and the disease analyzed further. Tazo-Rhi will pilot the shuttle as his escort. Stavros manages to briefly get in contact with the New Dawn, and explain the situation, but the ship is in the middle of a battle and it's unclear whether the support/evac team Stavros asked for will be dispatched. Keth remembers seeing a flickering computer in one of the ship's cabins, and, with some help, is able to discern that a transmission had been made recently on an Imperial channel. The group surmise that one of the NIF pirates could have been an Imperial mole. 

Importantly, someone recalls the fact that one of the freighter's TYE-Wing escorts escaped during the battle. Once the freighter and the shuttle piloted by Tazo-Rhi are safely in space, the pilots of Mynock Squadron work quickly to try to track down the missing Ugly before its pilot spreads the contagion further. Kero is able to use her vessel's sensors to discern from the TYE-Wing's ion trail that it was headed back towards Drushar, but she loses the trail near the city. Fortunately, she's able to contact New Republic sympathizers in the city, and one of them reports having spotted such a vessel landing just minutes ago in the slum-infested outskirts of Drushar. Kero orders everyone to land near the Ugly, but it's clear the vessel is empty. While Kero and Stavros maintain watch, the others fan out to track down the missing pirate.

Torga starts trying to track the Ugly pilot's movements through the muddy landscape of squalid huts, garbage piles, and open cooking fires. In a bid to speed up the search, Waric tries to bribe a nearby slum resident with a blaster pistol in return for information on where the Ugly pilot fled to; seeing this and concerned that the pistol could be covered with plague germs, Kero urgently orders Waric to retract the offer and the pistol. Irritated, Waric turns off his comlink. Before his negotiations can continue, however, a dangerous situation arises: a veritable mob of slum residents begin pelting Waric and Keth with rocks and garbage, shouting that the the NIF are freedom fighters. Stavros intervenes and persuades the crowd that Mynock Squadron is concerned with the fled pilot's safety and only want him to get medical treatment. Somewhat mollified, the crowd ceases active hostility. Stavros even persuades the man Waric was negotiating with to get into the turret of one of the group's Y-Wings, hoping to isolate him if he was in fact infected.

Meanwhile, Torga successfully tracks the NIF pilot's trail to a small hut. She, Waric, and Keth take up positions and storm the hut, only to find that the man is already dead. The decision is made to torch the hut to stop the corpse serving as a source of further infection. Back at the vessels, however, a sensor sweep shows that Imperial troop carriers are approaching the area.

With a seemingly simple mission having turned into a crisis that could kill millions, the newest members of Mynock Squadron have found more than they bargained for on the planet Nishr.
Director's Commentary (June 17, 2016)

Torga was a useful NPC this session!
This was a solid, action-oriented session with the interior of the spaceship serving, in effect, as a small dungeon.  The idea to seal up the flight suits before boarding because of concerns over gas was accidentally brilliant, because it kept the PCs from risking exposure to the black plague-equivalent that everyone aboard was infected with.  The presence of the disease made the combat very exciting, because all it would take was one blaster bolt to a flight suit to risk infection.

I'm not sure how much sense the background story made at the time of the session, but the beauty of the recaps is that they gave me an opportunity to explain things in a logical way so that any players who were a bit lost could have the dots connected.  I did give them a tough mission for their first real (non-training) adventure, but they did a good job with both the space combat last session and the boarding mission this session.

Kero used one of her Rank abilities to get intelligence on where the missing TYE-Ugly had landed, which was a perfect example of how that sort of thing should work.  I think Waric's player really was a bit irritated in character at being ordered around by Kero's player, which was one of the risks of having commanders and subordinates I talked about in a previous commentary.

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