Refugee Game

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Setting: AIF

Referee: Dave

Player: RooK

Dramatis Personae

Edward BraddockA human medic/defender.
ZiggyA Zygroten striker. Strongly good alignment. Vain.
ScoutyA robot scout/mathematician. Grumpy.
Morris/SamanthaA Felinid couple out in the wilderness. Scientist and Seasoned Combatant


Planet Weismann. City planet - stack variety. Casualty of war and slowing being rebuilt.


Braddock was leading a peaceful life as a medic on a utopian planet in the 2nd galaxy when the Xoid invasion came. Through luck, he wasn't on a part of the planet that got blasted from orbit, but still had to navigate untold horrors to find his way to an evacuation point and to safety. He then spent months (years?) being shuffled from holding area to holding area until he finally got a chance to leave the hell he was in and foldspace to a planet in the 1st galaxy.

Unfortunately all that did was drop him off in a different kind of hell.

Game Night 2016-03-31 - Planet Full Of Assholes

Leaving one war zone to seeming arrive in another was somewhat disturbing. The only contact with the government was a question about being either a 2nd stage medic or 1st stage biologist. Not being either, he was given 20 patches and a rifle, and ushered along with the rest of the refugees.

Not planning to shoot anyone, he sold the weapon at a trading bazaar and bought some clothes to hide his human appearance. Humans were somewhat prejudiced against among the refugees when it was found out humans had brought down the Confederation.

Not being able to afford decent medical tools, he decided to try and find some work. His first potential customer tried to coerce him into forced servitude, and this is when he found out that the planet supplied free patches. So much for providing good heals for money. His next customer was a Crocaloid named Calantica who wanted backup in a bar fight. It went well and earned him a couple of credits.

For the next while he watched the crowd until a fight started he wanted to take sides on. A loud-mouthed Groten was trying to kill a couple of humans. Well timed patching of the humans allowed them to survive and take down the Groten. The confused Humans thanked Braddock and went on their way.

The aftermath of battles usually involved a Colloidling scooping up the corpse and gear and taking it into the back room. A local bar 'warlord' claimed all gear from fallen combatants.

The next interesting thing was a contact from someone wanting good heals to replace patchwork. During the hour walk to get to the customer, he got a message from someone to be careful. Apparently it was another medic who had tried a similar approach to gaining credits and was hunted for his trouble. The customer turned out to be a Zygroten who wanted to be made 'pretty' again. Six hours later all his patchwork was healed and Braddock earned 5 credits.

At this point, he had heard about groups going out of the stack on scavenging missions. An odd requirement seemed to be a 1 point shell shield. Curious, Braddock approached a group coming in from one of the exterior portions of the stack and asked them about it. Turns out that during the war, whomever the enemy was deposited trillions of micro-scale robots. These robots would swarm over people, burrowing into their bodies until they were dead. While mostly gone now, there were still small swarms in the unpopulated areas of the planet. A complete shell shield is the only defense.

Plot Infliction I - Need. Med. Gear.

Your medic advertisement is still active locally. Keep waiting for potential customers, or try something else?

Braddock will probably update the advertisement due to circumstances.

"COMBAT MEDIC: can apply patches effectively when it matters most.
Special Offer: Provide a MED PACK (and some material) and I can create some custom armour for you."

And, what the heck; I'll do a search for health clinics to possibly volunteer at.

Over the next few hours, you get three messages from potential customers:

1. "Um, hi there. I'm guessing you're a fellow recent refugee? It seems the only way to make credits is to go on scavenging hunts. Want to team up and try it out? I'm a technician, so our skills might complement each other."

2. "If you're looking for more permanent work, I have a connection to a warlord a couple stacks over. You'd make armour in exchange for gear and security. And good booze. Not the swill served around here."

3. "Dude!!! I could use a backup medic. I get shot a lot. I'd cut you in on any booty I get."

There are no health clinics in the vicinity.


1: "Hello. Yes, I am a recent refugee, and I have heard about the scavenging opportunity. It seems that we would need shell shields to protect ourselves from the flesh-burrowing micro-scale robots. Also, I hope that you've got some ability to defend yourself, as the locals are somewhat troublesome."

2: "Thanks for the suggestion, but I'm not ready to settle down into a such a static position."

3: "Dude. Sounds like I could totally help you out. Why is it you get shot so much?"

1: "Um, shell shields? Robots? Crap."

3: "Meh. Probably cause I like to shoot them first."

This is almost as bad as the selection of Republican candidates.

1: "Yeah. This planet is pretty shitty. What you said before about our skills complementing each other might still be true, though. Do you have any defensive skills, or are you needing total babysitting?"

3: "Ah, so you're a 'shoot first, drink beers later' kind of fellow. It seems to be a common philosophy. Are there any particular things you look for in people you feel like you compulsively want to shoot? Or is it pretty much just random? Would you describe yourself as more skilled, or lucky?"

First guy cuts the connection. Third guy: "Gear. All the loser refugees (no offence) get rifles, and a good chunk of 'em got no skills. You a medic, so you at least got some stam, but a lot don't. I was lucky, was in the stack that the refugees landed. I usually search the residences, cause people like to hide there. Can usually collect 20 rifles on a good day. Problem is, I ain't the only one doing this. If I'm wandering around carrying a dozen rifles, I make a nice target. That's where you come in."

Braddock says a little mental farewell to #1 and focusses instead on #3.

3: "That makes sense. You seem very industrious, and I think I can probably help you out. What kind of a cut were you proposing? By the way, my name is Braddock. Where should I go to meet up with you?"

Game Night 2016-04-07 - Grotens Are Irritable Creatures


Extruding people through their fingers has got to be messy.

Meeting up with a Mavvice named Cal, the pair went to a residential area of the stack to 'convince' newbies to give up their newly minted rifles. The first couple of attempts went well. Cals twin pistols and bloodthirsty demeanor convinced a couple of non-combatants to give up their weapons. The next target wasn't so willing and fought back - and lost. Unfortunately, the next room they checked contained a Groten who didn't like being interrupted. The battle was fierce with the Groten using his issued rifle as a club.

Cal was brought down, and Braddock picked him up so that he could apply patches. Unfortunately, the Groten attacked Braddock next, landed a hit, and got placement. Cal was grabbed, squished, and had his head bitten off. The rest of the corpse was tossed at Braddock, who grabbed it and ran, claiming Cal's two pistols and force blade.

Sneaking back to the Bazaar, Braddock was able to finally procure a med pack. Also, met a like minded Zygroten named Ziggy. They went off to attempt some vigilante work and was able to claim another three rifles. Currently at the bazaar offering armour making services.

Plot Infliction II - Let The Strangeness Begin

So, you're in the bazaar with Ziggy with the intention of making armour for people. 2 questions:

  • Your ad says 5 credits, but if they try to talk you down, what's the lowest price you'll accept?
  • Assuming you can do this indefinitely how long will you continue until you get bored and go do something else?

  • No negotiation with individual customers - the price is the price. If Braddock runs out of customers willing to pay 5 credits, then he'll perhaps move it down to 4 credits.
  • If business allows, probably make just enough to afford a pair of shell shields for extra-stackular exploration. If customers are genereally too hostile and the majority of transactions turn into potential conflict, he might reconsider methodology.

There's an initial surge of three customers, each wanting some vital armour. These guys seem to be refugees that have had some success acquiring funds. During the three hours you're working, a Yiptak comes wanting a 2 layer helmet. He's got professional type stamina and you get the feeling he's not of the latest batch of refugees. He asks to be called when you're done and heads off.

You finish the vital armour for the three newbies - they pay the 5 credits each.

Then, an odd plot-like substance arrives in the form of a robot. Unbeknownst to you, he was sneaking past. Upon seeing you, he stops sneaking, walks over, and stares at you for a moment. It's a smallish humanoid robot, 50 kg, seems to only have a tool kit at first glance. At first you think he's a potential customer, but then he sends you a text message. All the message contains are 7 coordinates for spots on the planet.

He then seems to snap out of whatever his brain was doing, and does a quick locate and then hides. He hides such that you and Ziggy can see him, but sheltered from most people passing by. He also pulls out a couple of force blades you hadn't noticed before. Then, in a low, somewhat freaked out voice:

"What. The. Fuck.!?!????"

Did the Yiptak professional supply the requisite structural biomass for his 2-layer helmet, and did he pay up front?

Droid [tightbeam, trying not to draw attention to him; CCing Ziggy]: "Uh, hello? Do you know us or something? I'm just an unremarkable combat medic, and my partner here is a simple goon. Is there something we can help you with?"

Ziggy [separate tightbeam]: "Hypothesis 1 - he is acting according to some subconscious programming relating to useful individuals. If so, he's only a moderate threat, and we might be able to learn a lot by putting him at ease and getting him to disclose stuff. Hypothesis 2 - he got hacked by somebody who wanted to tell us something. In which case he's going to be suuuuuper offended and might be rather inclined to assassinate us (or whatever). It's possible that he could track us easily, so escape might not be an option if he's hostile. Your thoughts?"

The Yiptak left behind the biomass. Didn't pay up front.

Ziggy: "I don't know... but I haven't seen a lot of robots here. If he attacks and we take him down, we could probably sell his body. Hopefully it won't come to that, I'm kind of curious what his story is."

Robot: "So... you don't know me. Hold a second." Mental checking. "I sent you coordinates? What the hell? I didn't even know I had those. Gah. You go though your admittedly short existence thinking you're a completely free and independent robot, and BANG, suddenly you have behavior protocols. So, ya, what's your story? The probability of you being an unremarkable combat medic is in the toilet right about now."

Ziggy to Robot: "No, he's pretty unremarkable. We both are. Just arrived with the last batch of refugees, so I seriously doubt Braddock would attract any undue attention. Unless it's this whole fascination with medics this planet seems to have. My guess is you've made a mistake. Easy enough to do - lots of non-descript humanoids around here."

Robot: "Braddock huh. Well, I'm a second stage scout, so observation is kind of my thing. And now that it's happened, he's definitely the one I was apparently looking for. I recognize the face, the clothes, the gear."

Ziggy (tightbeam to you): "Maybe it's all a story he made up. Lure us into something unpleasant at those coordinates. Might be his motus operandi for gullible newbies."

Robot: "Do you have a sense for how long you've been looking for me? What was your nominal purpose while you thought you were free and independent? Robots are pretty rare here, so I'd be extremely curious to know your backstory."

Ziggy [tightbeam]: "My gear is all recently acquired, and my clothes were from when I first arrived here. This suggests his implanted mission was from within the last 5-10 hours."

Robot: "Just had a thought - do you know if you disclosed that you deployed your information payload. Does your master / controller / hacker know I've been found?"

Of course, it probably makes sense to look up where those coordinates resolve to.

Robot: "Purpose? Seriously? I first switched on 4 months ago in an abandoned apartment in this stack. No idea where I came from, a couple implanted stages, and no purpose. I've been hanging out ever sense. I don't have a master / controller / hacker. I think I would have noticed if someone tampered with me. Haven't contacted anyone else."

The local government has about 20% of the planet's stacks up and running, all near the south pole. The rest of the planet, we'll call 'the wilderness'. The first coordinate is close, only two stacks into the wilderness. The rest are further out, with the last few being near the equator. If you ever want to get there, you'll need to acquire some sort of ship or hitch a ride with someone.

Robot: "OK, let's assume that you don't have a master / controller / hacker, and that you assembled and activated spontaneously by divine agency. Since your little fugue state seemed to not be intentional, perhaps there was some unintentional communications as well. Such a thing might have left traces in communicator logs, if you were so inclined. But I'm more interested in your apparent recognition of me - and my gear. I arrived recently with nothing, and acquired this gear and clothing since my arrival, considerably after your magical activation. So your recognition of my gear and clothing requires you to have received information since then. Without a master or controller or hacker, I suppose it was a revelation from your supernatural activator."

Ziggy [tightbeam]: "I'm leaning towards the bullshit/trap hypothesis, but am still struggling with considerable curiosity. It's not like there's a whole lot of interesting stuff going on in this hole of a world."

Out of curiosity, does the robot seem to have any tools? Or has it dealt with repairs purely using free patches?

Robot: "Hold on." -pause- "I checked my comm logs. Nothing that shouldn't be there. Though my creator could have put another comm in my brain that I don't know about. Wish I was a technician."

Ziggy: "Keep an eye open. It's possible his creator was watching us and transmitted our visuals to him to activate his subconscious programming. But that still doesn't answer the 'why' question."

The robot has a tool kit and doesn't seem to have any patchwork on him. However, you recall that whenever you went to a patch dispenser, it only had biological patches available.

A small group of people pass by near you carrying a bunch of gear and the robot says "Excuse me for a moment." and sneaks off. He returns with a largish looking laser pistol. "Sorry. When I get stressed I like to steal things. Either of you want it?"

Robot: "No, you swiped it - it's yours. You might want to consider trading it for some mechanical patches; you can hire a technician to convert the free biological patches into something you can use. Which could be handy when you sneak out to the closest set of coordinates to see what's there. Assuming that missives from your deity are interesting to you."

Ziggy [tightbeam]: "If we can't manipulate urchin-bot into running recon for us, how interested in checking out the nearest set of coordinates are you?"

The robot doesn't have much in the way of facial expressions, but you get the feeling he's annoyed. "I've been here 4 months, you think I haven't figured out the patch thing yet? I'm not too bright, but I ain't that dumb. Give me your comm, I'll tell you what I find." And he sneaks off. He left the gun if you're interested.

Ziggy: "Well, that was weird. Let's see if he finds anything, we can't go explore yet anyway. Back to our flourishing armour crafting business?"

"Hey, if he's insistent about not having anyone or thing he ultimately must obey, either he is willfully self-deluded or being deceitful. Mockery is in order for both."

"Let's just finish the scary Yiptak's order and then see if we're still intact."

Just before you finish the Yiptak's armour, the robot comes back, sits near you and looks annoyed. "Seems I can't go check out the coordinates on my own. Every time I tried, I ended up deciding to come back and find you instead. If I ever find my creator I'm going to swipe his spine and shove it up his ass."

The rest of the armour creation goes by uneventfully.

"Welcome back Mr. Robot. My name is Braddock." I'll let Ziggy introduce himself if he's so inclined. "It seems like our paths might be intertwined for a bit. We've got a bit of business to conclude, then we'll discuss what to do about the mystery of your tourette's coordinates."

Ziggy: "I vote we go an see. It beats dying of random assholery here."

Now that the Yiptak's armour is done, I ping him for pickup.

The Yiptak comes back, pays you 20 credits for his armour and leaves. Says he's going hunting and may ask for a chest plate later on.

Ziggy picks up the gun the robot swiped. "Huh, it's stun. This will pay for my shield. You keep the Yiptak money for your shield. Then yeah, let's check out the first spot. We wanted to explore anyway, this a good a destination as any."

Robot: "Ok. First, there's something I need to know. Could you try to order me to do something stupid? Not suicidal stupid, just regular stupid."

Game Night 2016-04-14 - My Kingdom For A Force Blade!

Fortunately, the robot didn't have to follow Braddock's orders, making his opinion of the universe a slight less fatalistic.

Gearing up with 1 pt shell shields (overpriced) the gang went forth into the wilderness in search of the first set of coordinates. They managed to avoid too much unpleasantness due to the robot (hereby known as Scouty) being able to detect and avoid possible entanglements.

Some unpleasantness was had, however. They tangled with a Vega Lizard intent on de-gearing them. Ziggy fighting, Braddock healing, and Scouty swiping the Lizard's patch supply proved an effective combination. The Lizard was brought down, de-geared, and extorted for credits. Last seen running towards the civilized area. Reaching the coordinates, they had to fight a couple of crazy squatters. It was rather pitiful.

The coordinates led them to the basement of a derelict building. Inside a storage room Braddock found a single force blade. Upon examination, it turned out to be fitted specifically for Braddock giving him +3 to hit with it. It also looked identical to the force blade he claimed from the Reptiloid squished by the Groten.

Plot Infliction III - One Down

Ziggy: "If you're going to be doing more of these scavenger hunts, I think I may be a liability. I'm just not that sneaky. Plus, maybe we should find someone who can shoot."

Scouty: "Seriously? A force blade? We came all this way for a force blade? What's going to be at the next one, a pistol?"

Ziggy: "You more than make up for your lack of sneakiness with your panache and sleek good looks." Pause with stupid grin. "Besides, why would we want the distraction bait to be sneaky?" Less-goofy face. "Seriously, though, I value your company. If you're not interested in what might be at the other locations, at least consider the experience we'll get for surviving the exploration."

Scouty: "Yeah, not just any force blade, though. It was eerily identical to the one I was already carrying, right down to the scratches. If it's based entirely on sensor data he got from you, and was also able to alter it so that it was customized for me... that's some impressive technical capability. This is a being worth talking to."


"Say, how technically impressive do you guys think the being that made the little people-eater bug-bots probably is?"

Scouty: "The bug-bots are not terribly impressive individually. A professional physicist/technician could design one. The impressiveness is the scale at which they were deployed."

Ziggy: "True. I asked around a bit and it seems the most likely way to get off this rock is to become seasoned and then hired by some of the ships that land occasionally. Unfortunately the most likely avenue of experience seems to be random violence which doesn't sit will with me. So, I'm all for the hunt, I just wanted to make sure you realize I may be holding you back."

Scouty: "The next set of coordinates is three stacks deeper into the wild. Shall we?"

Ziggy: "There's that batch of gear we left behind. Maybe we should go trade that in for credits first. Plus, maybe armouring up would be a good idea for all of us."

Scouty: "I swipe stuff for a living. I got all the credits we'll need. If you want to make armour, let's just hide here and do it. Lot's of bodies to choose from."

"I'm not too fussed about needing much more money or stuff - it all just makes me a target at this point anyway. As much as I'd like to have a decent shield and some move boots, I don't particularly want to die for having them. It might make sense to have our only combatant a bit better armoured. You want some more armour, Ziggy? Otherwise, I vote we mosey on outward to the next coordinate. After that, we might want to consider heading back to recruit a technician and/or a range combatant. The range combatant for obvious reasons, and the technician to help us scavenge some transportation."

Checking the coordinates, are they arranged like a trail of breadcrumbs? Or are they scattered somewhat randomly? I got a sense that the distances between them grew quickly, but I'm not sure how that growth worked out topographically.

Ziggy: "Well, more armour would be good, but I see your point about standing out too much. Let's see what kind of resistance we get at the next set of coordinates and decide then."

Scouty: "A range combatant would certainly be useful, but the three of us seem to be geared towards hand to hand combat. I think we should focus on that and stealth."

The sound of a ship entering the atmosphere makes itself known. It gets louder until you can see a large shuttle fly by overhead. It appears to be landing at the stack you started at.

Scouty: "Ships like that come from time to time. They offer work to the seasoned combatants, or anyone with specialized skills. I haven't bothered to try and get recruited yet. I heard they never accept robots."

Ziggy: "Why not? Lack of skilled robots because of the lack of robotic patches?"

Scouty: "Actually, the patch detriment tends to make the individuals earn experience faster. That, and surviving being hunted for scrap dynomer. The robots that make a stink of trying to be hired get rejected, and oddly disappear soon after."

The first three coordinates seem to be a trail. The next three are somewhat grouped, and last is alone. Let's say this planet is roughly Earth sized. The functioning reclaimed stacks cover an area about the size of Antarctica at the south pole. The stack you arrived at was at the outer edge. Here are where the coordinates are:

  • 2 stacks north from starting stack: found force blade
  • 3 stacks north from that in the same direction.
  • 10 stacks further north.

Each stack is 20 km across, so it's only 300 km away. The next three:

  • 6000 km north west. That's straight line distance, or you can circle the edge of the civilized area and then head straight north. On Earth, that would put you in the middle of Argentina.
  • 700 north east - about Uruguay.
  • 200 north west - back into Argentina.

And the final set of coordinates:

  • 5700 km north east. On Earth would be the middle of the Atlantic at the equator.

"Right. Let's discuss more strategy while we travel to the next coordinate."

"I like your idea, Scouty. If we can grow our stealth and hand-to-hand capability, that would probably suit us best. I'm close to leveling up a stage of Scout. Ziggy, what's your next stage? How about you Scouty? Perhaps after that I should consider Striker."

"After this 60 km adventure, we're definitely going to need to conceive of some sort of transportation if we decide to pursue anything else. Any ideas about what we might try?"

Ziggy: "I was thinking of going up in Striker again, but now I'm thinking Defender. I can still get the parry bonus and it will help my stealth."

Scouty: "Scout. Plan is to become so sneaky that I can eventually stow away on one of the ships leaving this rock. At least that was the plan. Now, maybe striker or assassin for when I find my creator and have words."

Ziggy: "Hoverboards? Probably have to find a technician to make 'em custom."

You guys make it to the edge of this stack uneventfully.

"Ziggy - Defender! Brilliant. I fully endorse that plan. I like how it augments your combatant capability while also addressing the awareness gap. While we can keep Scouty safe, he can keep us out of the majority of awareness blunders, or hide us as needed."

"Scouty - your situation is trickier. Assassin is a hard path. A totally kick-ass path, but probably a bit frustrating for the foreseeable future. Striker is just plan ass-kicking, so no objections there. BUT, and I say this as a green combatant, your main contribution is still in the realm of stealth and awareness. Your prestidigitation of that Vega Lizard's patches, for instance, was probably more tactically valuable than a couple iffy force-blade thrusts. Yet, engaging still could be risky, so perhaps a stage of Defender also makes sense for you? Whichever way you lean, though, you're already pretty invaluable, so we've totally got your back."

"Hoverboards as transportation sound suitably hilarious. I mean, it definitely won't attract attention from anybody in orbit. Buuuut, I'm not sure I'm keen on crossing a 6000 km span on a hoverboard. Though, thinking about it, perhaps a few hoverbikes might be OK for the 300 km stint. How hard can those be to scavenge/make?"

Ref Query: Are custom occupations a possibility? - After 5th stage or if you can find someone to train you.

Scouty: "I've never seen a scavenging team bring back a vehicle to sell. We may be able to find a technician to make one, but that would require a lot of cash. And if we start asking around, people will figure out we have a lot of cash and then we become a target."

Ziggy: "Maybe what we need to do is find a recent refugee that's a technician and convince them to join our team."

Scouty: "Maybe we should just find a stack that hasn't been picked clean and try to find a working vehicle. I may have luck with my tool kit even though I'm not a technician.

"There's also the hypothesis that this technically-impressive person(s) might have some cohesive plan behind this junket, and that some idea of transportation might be provided. Somehow. If we look for it. I mean, they had the means to distribute geo-caches around the globe, so it stands to reason that they might actually want us to realistically get there without massively complicating the endeavour."

Blink blink. "Yeah, probably a long shot. Care to run the numbers on that hypothetical, Scouty?"

We continue onward.

I must confess to being a bit confused about the constituents of the inter-stack spaces, such that we can see the sky. I rather had the impression that the entire planet was covered in stacks continuously, that the non-reclaimed stacks were still physically present, and that we were continuous denizens of the middle layer. Are we travelling across collapsed structure to get to physically intact stacks? Or were they disintegrated somehow? (Now I've got a mental image of Darth Vader shaking his finger, "NO disintegrations!")

Also: have we ever seen a working vehicle, ever? Other than the occasional spaceship, I mean.

You've seen a few working vehicles back at the bazaar. Heavily guarded.

The inter-stack spaces were open to allow vehicle access. There were many bridges between the stacks on the levels, but most have been destroyed from the orbital bombardment that took out the top level. So you have to climb down to the bottom, cross the space, and then climb back up to the second level. Lots of debris at the bottom, so sneaking/hiding is easier.

Unfortunately, the bonus to sneak and hide works against you when the area is mined. As you're walking along, something goes boom next to you. You each take 1D of damage and your gear is moderately damaged as well. It was a small explosive, probably golf-ball sized. So, not much risk of it killing you, but really hard to spot in all this debris. Scouty swears loudly - he had been watching for enemy combatants, not small explosives.

Scouty: "I hate this planet."

Ziggy: "So, how many robot patches do you have?"

Scouty: "30. I try to conserve them and just do good fixes."

Well, that's made of suck.

"Let's move carefully away from the explosion; it has a high likelihood of attracting predators. Then we should conceal ourselvs, preferable in a location with good cover. I can easily heal the biological harm, and one of us should repair any damage to Scouty so that he can focus on keeping watch. Also, we might want to repair any of our equipment that was significantly affected."

"It's kind of a pity that Scouty couldn't go up in Munitionist. That would be epic. Yet another thing to grudgingly remark to Scouty's creator."

"But, anyway, I'd like to bump the probability of incoming predators over the request for calculating the probability of there being transportation considered by the Instigator(s). If you can do math while you're on lookout, Scouty."

You move back a ways and Scouty hides the three of you. He says there's about an 80% chance of people coming to investigate the explosion, but fortunately he's mostly wrong. He says he spots a couple of Vimren taking a look from the opposing stack, but they don't venture into the gap.

Scouty keeps watch while Ziggy borrows his toolkit to fix him. Then gear that was damaged - fortunately you don't have much. A couple hours later you're good to go.

Scouty: "Finding a vehicle nearby is low - less than 5%. It increases at about a 1/2% each stack further we get from the civilized area."

"Good news! If we walk 3800 km, we're nearly guaranteed to discover a vehicle."

Conferring with Ziggy and Scouty, we try to guess the range of effect on that explosive. If it's 3-5 meters, we might consider spreading out far enough so that we don't all get caught in the blast - in case it's a somewhat common type of device and there's a next time.

"So... do you guys have any suggestions for what we should call our little team? Ziggy and Scouty and Braddock doesn't exactly roll off the, er, vocal generation mechanism. How about Surprisingly Effective Random People? SERP! And then we could verbize it, if there's anything we end up being particularly good at as a team. Let's SERP them! They got SERPed! SERP you, Klingon bastards!"

Braddock holds off on suggesting generating matching tattoos.

Ziggy laughs at your sarcasm. Scouty stares at you blankly. He's not smart or old enough to get it.

The area of effect seems to be 5 meters.

Scouty: "How about I hold on to all the gear, and you two run ahead and absorb any explosive damage we find? Then we patch you up when we get to the other side."

Braddock laughs. "Let's spread out a little further than 5 meters. I'll take point, and will try to keep to cover and watch for boobytraps. Scouty, you should still keep locating for threats and whatnot. Feel free to suggest directions to me by tightbeam."

Hopefully, since there's no stamina listed for med packs, they're functionally indestructible.

Game Night 2016-04-21 - Innoculation

  • Stuff happened.
  • Found the 2nd cache. Turned out to be two doses of an unknown inoculation. Braddock and Ziggy each took one.
  • Hired a vehicle/pilot to take them to the third set of coordinates.

Plot Infliction IV - Nest Of Reaver Vimren

After climbing up to the second level, and going a short way into the stack, Scouty spotted the group of Reaver Vimren about 100 meters ahead. You immediately hide and wait for them to go past and out of site.

Unfortunately, the taxi you hired chooses that moment to hail you "GET BACK HERE NOW!!!!" He sounded quite panicked. Since he's not in line of sight, he had to broadcast it. The Reavers all turn in your direction simultaneously and then start charging at hypernormal speed.

A lot depends on how far away they are relative to how far we need to travel to get to the rendezvous. Even though they're hypernormally fast, that's just 1 m/turn faster than us. And since they're frenzied, even our half-sneak with some terrain bonuses if we pick our path well might be enough for them not to necessarily notice us. And if we are all travelling with 4-dice movement, they might not be able to simultaneously keep up with us and land any hits. At least for a while.

Also, since they started out of sight, I'm hoping that there might be a path we could take that would take us further out of their line of sight. Preferably along a different path than they are likely going to take (ping Scouty for a prediction), so that we can travel a parallel but safely separate path.

But I'm not really sure how far a "short way" is, or how high we had to climb to get to the second level. If we've got a kilometer to cover, we'll be totally overwhelmed when we get outside anyway. And if the Reaver Vimren are only a few tens of meters away, they're going to start swarming us in under a hundred meters.

There's also the descent portion. If it's particularly perilous to traverse, then that might work in our advantage - if Ziggy has good agility and the Vimren don't. But considering that Vimren aren't supposed to have hypernormal speed either, it's possible that they might have a shifted average for agility too.

So: clarification of setting is requested.

You're about 20 meters into the stack. The climb up from the bottom level where the vehicle is was about 30 meters. The climb up wasn't really perilous with your grip pads.

We run for it!

You sprint back the 20 meters to the edge of the stack. You immediately see what has the taxi driver so concerned. A mob of Vimren are charging the vehicle. It appears they came from the adjacent stack and it's apparent that they are going to reach the vehicle before you do. The driver texts you: "I'll lead them off a ways and then circle back. You hunker down until I get back." He then takes off, but not so fast that he loses the Vimren. He's obviously not aware of the 30 or so that are chasing you.

You also get hailed from a comm relay on the other stack: "Need help? I can get you out, but you're going to have to huddle together. My quantum mirror isn't that big."

Ziggy: "Group Hug!!!"

Group hug!

Also - Taxi driver: "Another mob behind us. We'll evade and meet you back here in an hour. You keep moving and away until then."

The intense scanning of the quantum mirror happens a moment after you huddle. I'll assume you don't try to block it in any way - instantly you're transported somewhere. You're inside a chamber, just big enough to fit you. And the exit from the chamber has got a shield running on it. Beyond there's a room that looks like a hospital lab and the only occupant is a Felinid. He's got his hand up to hold off any questions for a moment in a way that implies he's talking to someone on his internal comm. Eventually he stops and looks at you.

Felinid: "Hi! Um... sorry about the shield, but I'm really not a combatant, so for the moment I'm going to leave it up." His stamina confirms that - all of two. "Once the Vimren calm down, I can transport you back. Here's access to the exterior sensors and comm, so you can coordinate with your vehicle." You get access to a network of sensors in this stack, including ones at the edges. You're able to spot your ride.

Braddock thumbs-up the Felinid while confirming plans with the Taxi.

Taxi: "OK, we're safe for now, and hope to continue according to plan. Are you OK with meeting back at the drop-off coordinates in an hour?"

Felinid: "Thanks for the rescue. We totally understand about the shield. Is there anything a combat medic and scout team can do for you to repay for the assistance? And, well, what happens next? We'd like to get back to our excursion."

Scouty and Ziggy [battlewiki]: "Felinid has 2 stamina, so is probably all scientist. Let's act casual and non-threatening. You guys have any thoughts or concerns or questions we should ask him?"

Taxi: "Sure thing bub. See you in an hour."

Felinid: "No, we have the combatant part covered. My wife is a bit of a meat-head, though don't tell her I said that. She's on her way back. I can probably let you out of there once she's here. As for medic, well, we have the medical cabinet over there, and Kitten's got a patch robot with her, so we're good. So... not to be insulting or anything, but aren't you boys out of your depth way out here?" He pauses with his hand up again. Then sighs. "Sorry, my wife wants me to hold off talking to you until she gets here. She gets kind of paranoid at times. She'll be here shortly."

Ziggy: "Maybe he could figure out what was in that inoculation?"

Scouty: "If I trusted him enough, I could ask him to examine my brain to see if I have any more conditioning. But that's moot because I don't trust him enough."

Felinid: "Your wife sounds like a sensible person. We're patient."

Scouty and Ziggy [battlewiki]: "Yeah, the presentation is as a well-meaning brainiac with resources in a personal bunker stuck in the middle of nowhere. And apparently has a badass spouse and a child. If true, they might be valuable assistance, assuming that we don't cause them any problems whatsoever. A possible alternate explanation is superficially similar to the presentation, except that they prey on other occasional survivors to keep themselves stocked with supplies, like patches and tech and meat. Scout, care to try running the numbers on the competing hypotheses?"

Also: it would be helpful to get a sense of what our new group capabilities actually are. Both Braddock and Ziggy went up awareness pretty significantly - well, hopefully significantly for Ziggy. If his awareness is up to 8, we might have a half-decent chance of being able to avoid the notice of the Reaver Vimren. If it's still down around 5, we might need to come up with some clever ideas about how to proceed in the other stack.


Scouty (after a moment of looking around): "Low probablity that they would hunt survivors for meat or supplies. They seem well stocked."

Right - Ziggy goes up in Defender. Parry goes up by only 2, but the awareness bump is 3 and +1 for a stage. His total awareness is now 8.

Presently you hear the sounds of someone running hard. Another Felinid bursts into the room. She's geared to the hilt - large shield, helmet, plasma rifle, tool kit, med kit, patch robot, force gauntlets and move boots. She strides over to the chamber you're in and looks you over. Any thought of speaking at this point is crushed as her impressive will power has got you all enthralled. Braddock is especially intimidated as he can tell she has 70+ stamina. After a moment, she visibly relaxes, but is still looking you over.

Male Felinid: "See. I told you they were harmless. I'm going to let them out of the chamber now."

The female Felinid gives you a smile that indicates just how horribly you'll die if you try anything. It's effective. Then she backs away while the shield is lowered and you can pile out.

Female: "You shouldn't have used the mirror. The Vimren are swarming out there. And who knows who else detected it. We're going to have to relocate... again."

Male: "Couldn't be helped. It was an emergency. These boys were about to be mobbed."

Female: "A bunch of noobs being killed when they poke there noses into someplace dangerous isn't an emergency situation! It's more of a situation where you make popcorn!"

Male: "Now, now Kitty. Don't be like that. Plus, it's been boring lately. Nice to have someone else to talk to."

The Female turns on you three again: "So just what the hell are you doing out..." and she stops abruptly and stares at you and Ziggy. The male suddenly says "Really?" and comes up and stares as well. It's both confusing and terrifying at the same time, especially since the female has gone back into 'I'll kill you if you look at me funny' mode. Scouty is being ignored.

Female (slowly and menacingly): "Could you explain to me what you're doing here?"

Mistook "kitten" to mean literally a child of a cat, instead of a pet name.

Scouty and Ziggy [battlewiki]: "Guys, we're out of our league. We do not have the willpower to bullshit this person. Please stick to facts. We can be vague, perhaps, so we don't sound totally bugfuck insane or needlessly reveal our whole array of treasure hunt."

Braddock smile-winces at "Kitty". "We're on a very odd sort of scavenger hunt. Can you tell me why you're trying to make me shit myself with your scowl?"

Ziggy is all poofy and Scouty is statue-like still. No worries about them.

The male Felinid puts a hand on the female's shoulder. "Stand down a bit Kitten. I'm sure there's an easy explanation. Even I can tell they're not some hunting party after us, and I don't have your monster will power." She then grabs a scientific medical scanner and starts examining the two of you.

Female: "I wish you'd stop calling me that in a tactical situation."

The male asks for one of your patches, and Ziggy hands one over. It also gets some scrutiny from the medical scanner.

Male: "So, it seems that you're using the contaminated patches, but are not showing any of the effects. Any idea why you're immune?"

Braddock is cognizant that his reaction to mention of 'contaminated patches' was probably observed. "Well, that's another piece of the puzzle. The mysterious scavenger hunt we're on had at the last cache a set of so-called inoculations. I had assumed that they were for something that we might face as we proceeded on the scavenger hunt, and was wondering if there was connection to the Reaver-like Vimren we've started seeing. But I'd really like to know what the patches are contaminated with, and what the effects are."

Scouty [battlewiki]: "What's the probability that the Instigator(s) chose this stack partially to have us encounter this couple?"

The male seems to get more intense. "Are you saying you were innoculated??? I started working on a cure myself but it became quickly apparent I needed at least one more stage of biologist before I could get anywhere. That's what I've been working on while studying what happened to the Vimren. Would you mind if I dissect your brain get some tissue samples from you?"

Female: "The patches weren't exactly contaminated with anything, they were just made differently. Every time you use one, some of your native nanoscopic flora is replaced. Over multiple uses, more and more of the invasive bots are introduced. One effect is that your hormones are altered to inspire more aggressive tendencies. This gets you into more fights, and hence use more patches. But the real purpose is when they reach saturation point. That's when you become extremely susceptible to slave juice. Those ships that come down and hire combatants - they only take people that have reached the saturation point. They get 'hired', get aboard their ship, breath in the air laced with a mild form of slave juice, and voila, instant seasoned combatant slave."

Male: "We were originally working with the government, and when we discovered what was going on, we spoke out. Big mistake. We've been on the run ever since."

Scouty [battlewiki]: "90%. But does that mean there isn't anything at the actual coordinates and it was just to get us in the area to encounter these two?"

Female: "So, if you didn't know any of this, then there's another biologist out there who has the cure and wanted you cured. But why you? And why the stupid scavenger hunt, why not just find you and give it to you? It could be someone from the government hoping to flush us out. Maybe the cure doesn't actually cure anything, just hides it. This is turning into to many unknowns for my liking."

Ziggy [battlewiki]: "What's the probability they are going to kill us?"

Scouty [battlewiki]: "18%"

Ziggy [battlewiki]: "Ok, that's good."

Scouty [battlewiki]: "60% that they'll just transport us back to the mob of Vimren."

Ziggy [battlewiki]: "Ok, that's less good."

A pained smile is what Braddock uses to continue the discussion with the Felinids, possibly contributed to by the battlewiki discussion. "We have pretty much no clear understanding of the motivations of the Instigator(s) of our scavenger hunt. All we know is that we have a cache in the other stack. Honestly, you guys have pretty much quadrupled our understanding of what's going on, and now I can guess why I got a sense that I should avoid a second stage of medic. For that, on top of saving our lives, you have our thanks. We have no particular reason to trust the Instigator(s), and we don't want to be a risk to you. But..."

Braddock does a quick check with Ziggy and Scouty, to make sure they're not caught off guard with my suggestion.

"If you can help us get to the next cache, we could show you what we find. We're not very tough, but we're moderately discreet. And we're fast. Do you have any ideas?"

While talking, Braddock will have been carefully extracting an array of representative cells and a full spectrum of nanoscopic robots. He puts the sample in some standard biological container, and sets it on some tactically inoffensive counter and backs away.

The male Felinid grabs the sample and scurries over to a lab like area and starts working. The female chuckles. "Well, he'll be busy for the next month. As to your cache, if it's in that stack you were trying to get into, I could transport you over. You'd be going in blind though, and the Vimren will swarm you as soon as you arrive, so you won't have much time."

"However, I'm going to add a price. We're considered wanted criminals by the government. That means we can't go back to the civilized area. In exchange for using our quantum mirror again, you're going to go on a supply run for us. I'll give you a shopping list and some cash. Mostly it will be patches and descent food. Deal?"

Braddock bust out with an undignified guffaw. "You have a deal, lady. We're out doing this crazy scavenger hunt mostly out of curiosity and to contrast the malicious grind of existence back in the so-called civilized stacks. I'd gladly be a delivery boy to somebody as helpful as you two."

Thoughtful pause.
"I have tactical questions. First regarding the cache. Do you have any good maps of the target stack? Next, about the supply run - how would you like the goods delivered? Considering that you're in hiding, perhaps we should take the supplies to some other location within range of your teleporter? Do you have a means of discreet communication beyond just the vicinity of this stack?"

Female: "Yeah, the civilized stacks suck. My name's Samantha by the way. My nerd over there is Morris."

Morris: "I heard that."

Samantha: "We'll figure out the delivery logistics later. I'm kind of curious about your cache too, so let's do that first. The stacks are all standardized, so if you give me the coordinates, I can place it on the map and see what we have."

Scouty [battlewiki]: "Ooooh, this could be bad. What's to stop her from going herself once she knows the location? Not like we could stop her."

Ziggy and Scouty [battlewiki]: "I'm guessing that that these individuals are benevolent, and that the Instigator(s) have the cache be appropriate for their observation. But I agree, let's not be unnecessarily naïve."

"Please pardon our paranoia, but we would like to keep the exact cache location in our control. But we can share the appropriate coordinates for travel purposes."

She smiles, bringing back a little bit of her 'I kill you and eat you' expression, but it's bearable. "No problem. Whatever coordinates you give me, I'll send you." She sends you a map of the stack - at least it was a map of the stack waaaay back when it was a functioning member of society and not invested with Reaver Vimren.

Based on the map, your coordinates are in the middle of one of those residential area mazes.

"Thanks Samantha. You're a bit initimidating, and we appreciate you understanding.

Confer via battlewiki: "OK, according to the map, where should we teleport in to?"

"Say, is there anything we could send through to a different location to act as a distraction?"

Game Night 2016-04-29 - Sonic Pod

The teleporter was activated to draw away the Vimren, and a short time later, the crew was transported to near the coordinates. Moving quickly, they broke into an apartment and found that the coordinates pointed to a corpse. It appeared to be a Takolee that was killed by Vimren, and it happened months ago. Interesting items on the Takolee included a 5 point shell shield and a sonic pod - somewhat of a relic of a weapon.

Much sneaking and fighting was had against the Vimren in the area. At one point, a baby Vimren was abducted by Braddock as a pet... The harsh conditions of the planet were obviously getting to him.

They got to the edge of the stack and were noticed by Samantha. The quantum mirror was again activated and the group was transported safe inside Samantha and Morris's lair. The lameness of the cache was discussed and plans were made for the supply run. The group went back to their taxi and drove back to civilization.

Upon return, Scouty noticed a fellow scout notice them. A mutual noticing pact was established and then denied by the other scout. Supplies were procured and it was decided they needed a technician to fabricate the medical supplies that Morris wanted, so they went in search of a 'recluse' that was on this stack. On the way, they were intercepted by a Reglactin striker and a long battle ensued. Ziggy would have died four or five times over if not for Braddock's patches. Eventually the Reglactin gave up, shared the comm number of the person who hired him, and left.

Mistaking the source of the attack to be the reclusive technician they were after, the comm number was called, and in the course of the conversation it was mentioned that the group wanted a bunch of medical gear fabricated. The universe chuckled at this and shortly after Scouty re-noticed the scout following them and realized that who they were talking to. The conversation ended quickly after.

Plot Infliction V - Technician

You manage to get to the area the reclusive technician is suppose to hang out. It's near the edge of a stack and the last mention of him on the net was that he did some work customizing weapons for a scavenging party that was heading out. That was two days ago.

"Scouty, please run some probability calculations on the following paranoid extrapolations:

  1. That Other Scout Fuckface seemed sufficiently interested in our medical gear search to take that as valuable information.
  2. The main people who would give any kind of a crap about us looking for non-standard medical gear are the Asshole Government Cadre that are systematically infecting the transient refugee population with proto-slavamization.
  3. The AGC is probably more interested in Samantha and Morris, and would be happy to track us back to them.
  4. The more time we spend looking for the reclusive technician, and possibly waiting for him to fabricate said gear, the more likely that the AGC - possibly via the OSF - can track us down.

Assuming that those numbers aren't vanishingly small, I propose that we either spend only minimal time finding this technician and convince him to relocate to build somewhere else, or we just bug out now and leave minimal spoor."

Results from Scouty:

  1. 80% +/- 5%
  2. 75% +/- 7%
  3. 98%. However the probability of the AGC knowing we could lead them to the Felinids is 3% +/- 14%
  4. 68% +/- 23% - much of that depends on if 1 or 2 are true.

Ziggy: "Regardless, we should be quick about this. I vote we go to the nearest bar and ask about weapon customization."

Braddock nods to Ziggy. "That's a solid plan, setting-wise. Let's roll."

We head to the most obvious watering hole and inquire about weapon customization.

Scouty: "I typically avoid bars. Too many people in a tight space that could spot me, and rip me apart for recycling. I'll hide outside."

Ziggy shrungs and the two of you go inside. It's tense inside. You get the impression that people are nervous. At least the fellow green people in here are. It's a mix of green and professionals, and you two stand out a bit being green and well equipped. However you're aware enough to not be too obvious. Ziggy goes up to the bartender and starts asking questions:

Ziggy: "Yo, my good sir. I'm interested in some weapon fitting for myself and a couple others. I was wondering if you might point me in the direction of a technician for hire?"

Bartender: "Normally, the warlord here would have some technicians available for hire, but they're prepping for something or another, so I don't think you'll have much luck. Maybe try back tomorrow?"

Ziggy: "Ah, unfortunate. But, in my searching I heard of a technician around here that isn't part of a organized group. Has a reputation for being reclusive. Heard of him?"

Bartender: "Ah, you mean Ikol. Yeah, he does freelance from time to time. Hard to predict when he's around though. He was here a couple days ago, but before that it was weeks. And before that it was daily for a while. Like I said, unpredictable." The bartender gives Ziggy a hard look. "I can see you've got no ill intent here. I heard he likes to hang out one stack over in the wilderness. Apparently he's got a place he hides out in while building stuff."

Ziggy: "That's most helpful. Would you have a image of him you could send me?"

Bartender: "Sure, if you see him tell him I said hi."

Ziggy get's an image. Bartender gets a tip. Ikol is a Triloid - though about twice the size of a typical Triloid.

We leave as discreetly as is seemly.

"This is extremely fortuitous. The semi-remote location might give us a window to actually get things fabricated. Moreover, the gracious demeanour of the bartender and his regard for Ikol suggests that he is a reasonable being that should be relatively safe to do business with. Hopefully he also have enough expertise to give us some insights about these classic items we found at the last cache."

"Scouty - everything clear out here?"

Scouty: "Yeah, things are quiet."

Ziggy: "Rock and roll. Do we need anything else before we go?"

"I can't think of anything, and time is probably precious. Let's head in a random direction, then look for a good way to cover our tracks, and then proceed stealthily to the next stack over in the wilderness. Sound good?"

Hmmm... being a munitionist would be handy for throwing people off our trail. Messily.
Of course, another stage of medic would be super-handy for combat, even though Braddock might have to conceal the full effectiveness of the healing in civilized settings. Actually, just having a force beam to remotely apply patches from hiding might be the biggest tactical improvement.
Speaking of which, we should probably get Ziggy a combat shield that is capable of employing his parry as a duck buffer so that he isn't a sitting mutt at range.

Random direction! If you're being followed by that scout, Scouty doesn't spot him, and he checks a lot. He mentioned a few other people along the way he thinks are eyeing you guys, but it's hard to tell if he's just being paranoid. You're able to get to the edge of the stack and make your way over to the next stack.

Ziggy: "So, how are we going to find this guy."

Scouty: "I could look ahead on my own. I don't have any compulsion against searching for a technician like I have the coordinates."

Ziggy: "Getting tired of us already?"

Scouty: "You have no idea. The smell alone...."

Ziggy: "Man yeah, what I wouldn't give for a shower. My fur is all knotted and gross."

Yikes! Braddock will surreptitiously double-check to see if there's anything more his nanoscopic robots can do to minimize funk generation.

"OK, Scouty, if you feel frisky and want to do the Scout thing. But keep in mind that you're a rather tempting morsel for scavenging. We'll sneak across to the next stack too and find good cover. Come get us when you find something."

You sneak across to the next stack and Scouty hides you before heading off. How long would you wait before going after him / leaving him for dead?

Call it just shy of an hour - say 50 minutes. Then we proceed cautiously, with the assumption that Scouty has encountered hostiles and that we need engage protocol BLOODY VENGEANCE.

Scouty comes back after about a half hour.

Scouty: "Well, I found something. No sign of our technician, but found a shield active covering an access point into a building. It's not a significant shield, just enough to keep the bugs out. There's a communicator and scanner gripped nearby. It was all hidden behind some debris that I think was dragged there."

"That sounds like a bingo. Let's head there and ping the communicator and see what we can negotiate."

Sneak! Sneak! Sneak!

Sneaking is so much more effective when the referee doesn't want to include random encounters.

You make it to the shield and communicator and ping the communicator. You get a recorded message "GO NOT FURTHER. ANYONE ENTERING WILL BE SUBJECT TO EXLOSIVE DEATH AND DISMEMBERMENT. And then you get sent a rather grisly picture of a person who probably swallowed a grenade.

Responding to the communicator: "Message received! Vividly! Nevertheless, I have four comments.
1: We would like to request for some equipment to be fabricated - we can pay.
2: We have some equipment we would appreciate you taking a look at, because we think they might have some significance.
3: Are you able to train people as munitionists?
4: The bartender back on the edge of the 'civilized' stack says to say 'hi'."

Obviously, I'm assuming that the lack of referee-induced transit troubles means that there is a high probability that this is indeed Ikol. It wouldn't be the first time I was wrong about that, though.

Scouty and Ziggy [battlewiki]: "If we explode, maybe we should leave in different directions."

A short while later, you see someone emerge from down past the shield. He stops and looks you over and then approaches. It's hard to really get a feel for him at first because you're attention is fully locked on the assault electric stream he has. But after a moment of intimidation you're able to see that it is indeed the Triloid, though up close he's a bit bigger than expected - about 200kg.

Ikol: "That bartender's a jerk. What do you want? And how much can you pay?" He's eyeing Scouty hungrily. "How much for the robot?"

Woo - assault electric stream! Those are for wussies.

"Considering that we seem to have run a fair chance of being blown up or electrocuted due to his directions, it is entirely possible that that bartender is indeed a jerk. However, he seemed reasonable, and gave the impression that you were intelligent and reasonable too. We have some medical gear that we are hoping you can fabricate for us." I pass on the specifications, and divulge plainly the budget we were given for acquiring them.

"The robot is our partner, and a key piece of a puzzle that we're trying to figure out. Along with this old sonic pod. We'd be happy to elaborate, if you're interested."

He stares a moment. "Y'know, asking for medical gear like that might put a big target on you. Hope you didn't ask around too much before finding me." He chuckles. Then he turns around and heads back the way he came. One of his arms waves for you to follow as he deactivates the shield.

You get led to an old office that he's converted to a shop. He's got shields set up all over the place so that nothing can get in, and you see some air generators running. Ikol pulls out a tool pack and starts fabricating the medical gear.

"So where'd you get the sonic pod? Haven't seen one before. I could see it coming in handy around here. Should try to build one."

"Yeah, we're basically fucked now, with respect to spending any time in the so-called civilized stacks. How much do you know about the medical issues on this planet?"

"I'll be totally honest, I don't know much about sonic pods. What would they be useful for, other than in the case that we get beset by a swarm without our shields or feel a profound need to summon every lurker within earshot?"

"Also: I was totally serious about the munitionist training being desirable. But that might also go for technician training."

All the while, Braddock will stroke his giant imaginary Chorkian mustache that he's fantasizing about growing. Along with getting a giant sombrero and bandolier. But maybe just finding a way to bathe might be the main image update he should be contemplating.

Ikol: "From what I understand, they like grabbing the medics for their factories. Any that don't cooperate end up dead. Kind of petty if you ask me."

"I was thinking of the bugs when I saw the sonic pod. The shields protect you, but the pod could actually kill the damn things. Might not be a big deal here, but I've heard the swarms get denser the further north you go."

He glowers: "I'm not a teacher. Or a munitionist for that matter. You're on your own there. So what do you want this medical stuff for anyway?"

"Ah, so you don't know about the corruption of the standard-issue patches causing increased aggression culminating in susceptibility to slave juice when seasoned. I suspect that second stage medics are a risk because they might notice. I'm not sure what this medical stuff is for, but I suspect it has something to do with addressing that. We're just delivery boys for that aspect."

"Yeah, I suppose that having an effective weapon against a swarm would be handy. I suppose we'll have to figure how to use the damn thing without giving ourselves nosebleeds."

"Not a teacher: check. Any suggestions for gaining a stage of technician?"

The Triloid stares at you blankly for a moment, then continues his work.

"Download the technical specs, and then go adventuring. Quickest way. It'll be assumed you're studying as you go. Though tinkering with stuff might help too."

He turns to Scouty: "So what's your story?"

Scouty: "I'm a seething cauldron of hate and fury."

Ikol: "I mean how'd you get here? Robots tend to not be part of the refugees. Someone here build you?"

Scouty: "HATE AND FURY!"

Ikol: "Right..." He goes back to work.

Scouty [battlewiki]: "Sorry. Didn't like the whole 'sell me your robot' thing earlier."

[battlewiki]: "A seething cauldron of hate and fury is way more accurate and interesting of an explanation than anything else we could come up with to avoid revailing too many strategic details of our Quest. Safari? Scavenger Hunt? Whatever. Besides, he's probably too busy wondering about how close he is to seasoned to be paying overmuch attention to trivia like our lame backstories; he was looking for something to distract himself from the possibility that he's one cunningly applied aerosol of nanoscopic robots away from being slavamized."

ASIDE: [reality queries]

  1. If Braddock were actually to go up a stage of technician, are there any aspects that might be compatible with the stage of medic? Like, say, creating bio-mechanical armour as 10-points per unit.
  2. Is there any extrapolation of munitionist that can dovetail with medic in lieu of technician for the purposes of explosive fabrication or tampering?
  3. Would the projected experience earned towards technician, or another stage of medic, be separate from combat experience or blended as one ambiguous well of tricking experience points?

Game Night 2016-05-05 - Delivery Boys

Stuff happened.

Plot Infliction V - Where's my car dude?

So. You need a vehicle. To cobble together a vehicle together from the wrecks on the stack, you need to be a stage of technician. I see two options. One is to go out adventuring. Find a stack that's inhabited and cause trouble. Two is to attempt to put together a car without a stage of technician, and hope that your low tamper rolls don't destroy the car parts.

Indeed. But perhaps a modified version of Option One would be more suiting to Braddock - find an inhabited stack and try to help out. That's certain to cause trouble of its own ilk.

The question becomes how to find an inhabited stack. "Samantha, is there any inhabited stacks nearby? I could use some opportunity to gain experience besides well-equipped scavengers. A stage of technician is my next priority."

Game Night 2016-05-12 - Two Weeks In A Community Stack

... not populated by assholes. Who would have thought.

Plot Infliction V - Safari

You now have a working atmospheric ship! It seats 4, top speed is about 500 kph, 5 intermediate scale stamina, 2 maneuverability.

When travelling, generally speaking, the higher and/or faster you go, the more likely it is you'll be noticed by someone.

Where to?

Er, I mean, I think that despite being massively limited in combat Braddock is now the most generally effective adventurer character I've ever developed. It's a fun axis to explore. I'm contemplating having his next stage be Defender:ships so that he can also be the team pilot.

Back to the contextual present:
Utilizing Scouty's vaunted awareness and mathematician projections to plot a course with minimized risk and exposure - both for general detection but also from sniping from below.

"OK guys, I propose that we stop by Samantha and Morris first. Their innate utility and the probability that the Instigator(s) intended for us to interact with them seems like a logical reason to invite them along with us to the next waypoint. Votes?"

Also: I name the aero hopper "Swoopy McFloatface".

"Sure." "Whatever."

The trip back to the stack Samantha and Morris are at is disturbingly quick compared to when you were going the other way. However, once you reach where they had set up, you find nothing. There's no obvious signs of combat, so either they were taken out very quickly and their based claimed and taken, or, they packed up and left. You do find that tractor that they had used to move their stuff. It's hidden where it was originally parked.


  • "3% chance they were kidnapped and taken away.
  • 13% chance they were killed and the attackers cleaned up really well.
  • 48% chance they had friends who they called to get them.
  • 27% chance they used the tractor to move and then for some reason brought the tractor back here.
  • 42% chance they had another means of transport they were not telling us about."

Ziggy: "You know that adds up to more than 100%, right?"

Scouty: "There's margins of error on each one. Plus, I'm only first stage."

Ziggy: "I doubt they were killed."

Scouty: "Um, yeah, hence the low percentages on those."

Ziggy: "Why would they leave?"

Scouty: "Well, we were gone two weeks. Who knows."

Ziggy: "Maybe we should check the surrounding stacks?"

"What is the probability that they bugged out when we approached? Because, honestly, incoming flying machines are probably harbingers of unpleasantness."

"Let's leave a small daisychain of comms and hide nearby, and wait a bit to see if they re-emerge to make contact. Meanwhile, perhaps we can brainstorm and investigate to see if we can think of a way to track or find them. Or discover what's up."

Scouty: "Pretty low. They wouldn't have had time to pack up that quickly."

You guys find a place to hide and wait. Scouty heads off to see if he can track anything. He returns about ten minutes later. He found a comm hidden on the tractor. It's from Morris. It's encrypted, but Scouty quickly figures out an encryption key based on their names.

Morris Message: "Hey boys, hope you're alive and the ones reading this message. Had some ships sniffing around the stack so we decided to leave. Probably going to get some distance, so probably won't be seeing you any time soon. If you're desperate to get a hold of us, leave a message on this comm and put it at these coordinates at the first stack we met. We'll check there from time to time."

There's coordinates for a point inside a stack, but not specifically which stack.

So it goes.

We take the cautious route back to the stack where we met Sasha and Morris and leave them a message at the described rendezvous.

Hi there. Technician stage achieved. Proceeding with more of the scavenger hunt.
The further noisy stack has reasonable inhabitants, in case you want access to a technician.
Assuming we don't die, we may check back one stack-closer than the nearer noisy stack - in case you want to communicate. Such as leaving requests for things to fetch/build. Or whatever."

Right, then it's time to plot a course for a significant segment of the globe.

Ziggy: "Shotgun!"

Scouty: "Um, I think I should be a in a position to have maximum viewing."

Ziggy: "They're called sensors."

Scouty: "Oh, right."

So, give me an idea of what altitude you'll be flying at.

That's a good question. Despite having travelled hundreds of kilometers across this messed up dystopia, we have no clear idea of what next-scale threats there are.

Seems like there's three options:

  1. Below the height of the stacks, shooting the gaps.
  2. 500m - 1km above the stacks.
  3. >1km

Slinking through the stacks might help keeps us from being noticed by big scary things, which may not even exist. It definitely will help Braddock earn experience towards being a Defender, until we almost certainly get shot down. Worse, it could generate a lot of sightings to help track us. Both of which might be fun, proportional to its stupidity.

Out of range of most personnel weapons but within lunging range of cover has a certain appeal. It also probably means that we could travel faster, technically, but any contrails would have increased visibility to ground-based observers. It would also keep us within standard personnel comms, which might be interesting.

Above 1 kilometer makes us essentially invisible to ground-based observation (again, with the contrail caveat), but means that we're more obvious on ship sensors (radiant emissions and mass less obscured by the surface). It also means that we'd have to dance for quite a while before we could get to cover if we were intercepted.

Braddock reviews with Scouty, so that he can try to apply some Math to the scenarios. I'm leaning towards the middle option. If we keep our speed below 200 km/h we shouldn't have any contrails at all (and would slow immediately if we did), plus should have very low observability from both the ground and the sky. BUT, I'm willing to hear what Scouty's opinion of our exposure buzzing the gaps would be, as well as bobbing along in traditional airspace.

Ziggy: "I'd like to veto the >1km option. I'm going to assume we'll be attacked along the way. If our vehicle is disabled, the higher we go, the harder we'll crash. We can survive a lower altitude crash and live on to salvage another vehicle."

Scouty: "Really lacking in viable information to make projections here. I wish I listened more when other scavengers were talking about their trips. I think it really comes down to frequency and risk. Going >1km means there is a 0.5% chance of being intercepted per 100km. As we are going 6000 km, cumulatively that's a 30% chance. If intercepted, it's a 85% chance it will be something that can easily destroy us. Going low means there's a 1% chance per stack of being noticed by someone, with a 25% chance they will be armed enough and eager enough to attack us. 65% chance it will be something that can easily destroy us. 1/2 to 1 km above the stack and we risk both. 0.1% from above, and .5% from below.

So, probabilities of interception / destruction:

  • Within height of stacks: 75% / 49%
  • 500 m to 1 km: 44% / 33%
  • > 1km: 30% / 25%

And this is based on me being a first stage mathematician and not having much data to work with.

Probabilities of insta-death if vehicle is destroyed:

  • Within height of stacks: 5%
  • 500 m to 1 km: 15%
  • > 1km: 50%"

Ziggy: "Ok then. So, I reiterate the not wanting the 25% of destruction and then 50% of death option."

Allrightythen. "We've got a veto for the higher-altitude doom flight. Based on Scouty's very guess-like probabilities, we have nearly twice as much aggregate risk by trying to stay out of range of personnel weapons. That coupled with being more exciting -er, I mean, potentially more experience, I vote we hug the ground and see how it goes."

If Braddock were a better technician, or maybe had a bit of physicist, he'd probably work on creating some shields and some crash-mitigation hardware. -shrug-

You travel stack to stack, hugging the ground. Amongst the debris, there's little chance someone in orbit or high in the atmosphere would spot you. You occasionally see scavenging teams as you go by, and occasionally someone takes a pot shot at you, but it not enough to do any damage and you're gone before they have a chance to make a serious go of it.

Until you get to about the 500 km mark. Then out of nowhere, someone fires a missile bazooka at you. Braddock ducks hard, but it's not enough to avoid impact. It hits the driver side door, doing some significant harm to the vehicle, and knocking Braddock to half stamina and unconscious. Before anyone can do anything, the vehicle lurches to the right and slams into a decrepit building, toasting the vehicle completely. Ziggy grabs Braddock and the three of you exit the wreckage of Swoopy McFloatface.

You wake up a moment later and wince at all the crushed bones on the left hand side of your body. A glance out the hole you came in shows a dozen combatants heading your way, but they're about a km away.

NOOOOO!!! Swoopy McFloatface!

Wish I'd had a chance to rig the remains to explode on command. Alas. "Thanks for saving me. Let's get the zark out of here and start over."

"Getting less than 10% of our planned travel distance is not ideal. Based on the interference we've sampled so far, do we need to re-evaluate our mode?"

"Actually, before we discuss that - Scouty: did you get a bead on what our local threats and opportunities are? Are those combatants part of a salvage operation that we could see, or some territorial locals?"

Scouty: "I didn't see any ships, so I don't think they're scavengers. Unless they were dropped off for pickup later. From what I saw before we crashed, it didn't look like the area was picked clean of gear."

Ziggy: "Could have been a fluke. If our next trip is equally short, maybe re-evaluate then?"

As one of your legs is broken, Ziggy carries you for a bit while you apply patches. It's extraordinarily painful as the patch has to rearrange your bone fragments into the proper place before they get fused. But in short order you can walk again. You're able to sneak out of the building and into the ruined city-scape. You head in the opposite direction as the approaching combatants and don't encounter anyone as you go. Eventually you're able to get to the edge of the stack. The standard hiding and locating happens and Scouty spots a hidden dude watching one of the cross roads of the gaps. He hasn't spotted you. He's in a position to have a good view down the gaps, but not back into the stack. You can see he has a missile bazooka.

Ziggy: "Well well well, they have more than one."

"It appears that we will not be able to make any more significant progress travelling until after we escape this stack. Undoubtedly, we should sneak up on this lookout and disable him in order to depart safely. Scouty, what's the probability that there is another dozen combatants stationed nearby to surge out after a downed hopper like the other lookout position?"

Braddock does a quick review of his own battle-readiness - what's his stamina, and is he at full movement? Also - how many patches have been wasted already? It'll be hard to replenish those, so don't want to use any more than is necessary.

Braddock likely would want to question the lookout, to find out why they take potshots at random hoppers. But I suspect that any specific reason given would be perfunctory, mostly as an excuse to make life difficult for adventurers. Braddock might mix in some meditation not terribly different from Zen Pessimism, while he also slowly studies physics.

By the way, Braddock is totally going to be studying to be a triple-threat first-stage scientist: physics, math, biology - in that order. Each one will take 3 months, so likely to not affect the next few adventuring stages. But still, it's the principle of the thing. Also, you never know when you're going to be stuck for a long-ass time being bored building a hopper.

Scouty: "Pretty high. I doubt they'd have the missile without the squad to support it. I don't see them, but they could be out of line of site."

Braddock got knocked to 21 stamina. It only required one patch to get his full movement going again. That healed him 9, so he's up to 30.

Scientist - noted. Might come in handy.

Ziggy: "Let's think of their motivations for a moment - why did they hit us? Perhaps the plan was to disable our vehicle so they could claim it. We're without a vehicle now, so they might not be as willing to waste a missile on us. They can't have too many of those, and even if they have a stockpile, they might not be able to replenish them."

"With the dozen combatants nearby, they won't actually need to 'waste' a missile to give us grief. In fact, I'd be surprised if they only had the one bazooka-weilding goof on lookout - perhaps he's just the easiest to spot. Let's take our time and see if we can spot any others."

Perhaps, if we're too badly stuck, the ability to waste a missile ourselves might give us the cover we would need to make a clean departure.

And, perhaps, while we're contemplating our options, a more-formidable craft might cruise buy and get a single missile flung at it. And then maybe it will purge the shitheads with intermediate-scale fire.

Also: we should keep an eye out for anything that might be worth obsessively guarding from random passers-by.

Game Night 2016-05-19 - All But One

  • Cloaked Hopper
  • 10 Plasma Grenades
  • Med Kit?
  • Losing Vanny McFloatface #1 to an intermediate scale fighter

Plot Infliction VI - Scientific Interlude

Ziggy requires two months to gain a stage of physicist. Where do you plan to go for him to study? And what does Braddock do while waiting? Scouty may be a problem - that long with nothing to do might induce some stress points.

If we're talking on the scale of months, I'm tempted to push it all the way to three months so that Braddock can get a stage of physicist too.

"So, how about we head back south to a region a little more climactically endurable to spend this next segment of time. Still avoiding the region of active scavenging, but such that we won't die of exposure if our habitat controls get crippled. Then, let's build a base. Or, rather, I'll start studying for a stage of physicist and overseeing Ziggy building the base. That should give him enough time to earn a stage of technician, then he too can start studying for physicist. After the three months (ish) we should then have two physics/techs that can effectively work on the disassembly and reassembly of the Ninja Hopper."

"Scouty, we'd obviously like you to patrol and keep watch while we're toiling away. Is there anything else you want or need to be doing in that time? Perhaps some reconnaissance would help you advance your Scout experience?"

Plans in my head, that I share with the guys via the NerdWiki, includes:

  • borrowing the shield/hologram generator to help us store/hide the Ninja Hopper
  • using the subterranean space similar to that paranoid stack to help avoid detection
  • setting up a comprehensive array of sensors and communicators throughout the stack
  • telling Morris that we built the Ninja Hopper ourselves (technically would be true), and tease him for never getting a stage of technician

Scouty: "The scavenging activity really dropped off after about a thousand clicks on the long trip. So if we stay say 1.5 kkm away from the civilized area, we should be undisturbed. It's hot, but not dangerously so."

Ziggy: "The first thing I'm going to build on the base is a shower. Maybe a Jacuzzi. Well, after the A/C of course. Many mirrors too."

Scouty: "From what I remember hearing back on the civilized stack, the lower levels are hard to get into. But with all the damage to the stacks further north, it may be easier."

Ziggy: "Well, let's keep an eye out for heavily damaged stacks in the approximate latitude we're aiming for and see what we can find."

Scouty: "Wouldn't a heavily damaged stack be a lure for others too?"

Ziggy: "..."

-- Travel... travel... travel... --

When you arrive the band of latitude Scouty thinks is safe, you guys start travelling west. Do you look for a damaged stack, or one of the uniformed wasteland of stacks?

Braddock will vote for using one of the uniform stacks in the wasteland. All the while quietly judging Scouty for using a term like kilo-kilometers instead of just shifting to megameters; such is the mental burden of his technician stage smug superiority.

"It makes sense that the infrastucture level would be blocked from casual access, but they have to be made for regular maintenance access - with provisions for catastrophic power loss. So I suspect that with some persistence we should be able to figure out how to access some maintenance sections. Or, worst case scenario, we spend some time constructing a basic plasma cutter and go old school on the hinges."

We'll also pause to ping if there's any functional stack AI, because that might produce an unpleasant beacon of our presence that we wouldn't want to ignore. Sadly, that probably also means doing without a reliable power source, but I think we can compensate for that pretty readily. More of a problem will be water supplies, but I suspect that there's some straightforward resources we could tap into - it's kind of fundamental for sustaining a large population in the first place.

You find a stack that looks like all the other ones in the area and settle down. Finding a way into the lower section is difficult - most of the access points are designed so that non-professional technicians with tool packs can't get in. However, once the crude plasma torch is constructed, things go much quicker. As far as you can tell, there isn't any power or response to communication.

A hydroponics area seems like a good spot for a base. There's a smallish greenhouse apart from the main growing area that would work well for living quarters and a lab. Plus, you're able to access one of the old cisterns that still has water in it. You and Ziggy commence work while Scouty searches as much of the stack as he can get to, as well as distributing sensors and communication nodes.

Finishing the base doesn't quite earn Ziggy a stage of technician, but he's getting there. Probably while he's studying physics, he could work on some side projects which will get him there.

Anything else before beginning the 3 month sabbatical from adventuring?

Aside from scheduling some regular breaks to keep us sane, some training/sparring bouts to keep us from getting too rusty, and zen contemplation of the pessimistic truths underlying reality... yeah, let's finish burning that 3 months of studying.

If we get any whiffs of information over the comms or sensors, we'll undoubtedly pause to contemplate that, too.

One and a half months later...

You and Ziggy are busy studying in the lab when you get an alert from Scouty.

"Yo! There's a ship coming!"

Accessing the various sensors you see what looks like a hovering cube van. It approaches the stack, flies in and lands. 5 guys pile out and start looking around. They split up and start searching the stack. It appears they're making a note of any gear they find, but they're not picking it up. They're also leaving daisy chains of communicators.

Well, shitballs.

"Scouty, what's the probability that there's still somebody in that van?"

Meanwhile, Braddock tries to evaluate the staminas of the 5 individuals we can see so far. Additionally, we listen in to any communications that might be emanating from the van.

"Odds are that this is an advance team of a larger scavenging operation - Scouty, back me up with real numbers please. That means there are more coming, and that we have nothing to gain by engaging. However, this seems like a really awkwardly far distance to come scavenging, so there is some possibility that this is a government-affiliated team looking for anomalies - again, Scouty, run some numbers for me. If that possibility is significant, we might want to intercept and interrogate one of them."

"Regardless, we should prep for bugout. Scouty, get back to base as fast as your stealthy move boots will allow. We'll load all the good shit onto the battle platform and into Vanny McFloatface 2. We'll stay stealthy for as much as possible, but will be ready with the missile bazooka."

Theoretically, we should have been able to make a base that was sufficiently concealed from most typical observers. But I don't trust reality to be reasonable.

Scouty: "90% van inhabited. 34% chance of advanced scavenging team. 45% chance searching for anomalies. 98% chance we're fucked."

Five Individuals:

  • Alpha: 61 stamina. Seems very comfortable with his weapon.
  • Beta: 56 stamina.
  • Gamma: 32 stamina. Carrying the tool kit.
  • Delta: 76 stamina. Also seems very comfortable with his weapon.
  • Epsilon: 63 stamina. Though you only caught a glimpse. Disappeared shortly after exiting the van.

All human. All are carrying 2D+4 sonic rifles.

The base is on the bottom level and all access to the top level is locked and hidden. You guys made it so that someone of Scouty's awareness would have a tough time noticing the entry ways. You have a bad feeling that might not stop Epsilon.

Ziggy and Braddock start packing. Scouty makes his way down and helps out. You can keep an eye on 4 of the 5 humans through the sensors. Nobody (including Scouty) can spot Epsilon.


"OK, so we're dealing with seasoned combatants, and even more terrifying - a seasoned scout. Our degree of outclessed-ness presses the realm of astrophysics. We bug out immediately, as quietly as we can. Scouty, what are the odds that Epsilon observed you coming here, or followed our web of comms back to the base, and is here already?"

Not that it matters, we leave regardless. The main difference will be if the cube van is waiting for us as we go. Scouty will pilot Vanny McFloatface 2 while Braddock and Ziggy scramble to hook up remote controls. Assuming we even get to leave the base - we keep an eye on the various sensor feeds, particularly on the van.

The cube van is motionless and the crew of scary humans (COSH) are still wandering about. They have spread out, but not split up. All within line of site of each other. And they've all got move boots, so they cover ground moderately fast. They don't appear to be bothering to sneak.

You guys pile into VM2 and prepare to stealthily leave.

Scouty: "I wasn't anywhere near them when they landed, so they couldn't have seen me. The chances of them spotting a comm are in the single digits. There's an obscene bonus to hide out there with all the debris and the size of the comm."

And on cue, Epsilon comes into view at one of the sensors, staring at it from about a meter away. Your network gets hailed. The rest of COSH pause in their movement.

Braddock check to make sure he's wearing his brown pants. Because he probably needed them.

We continue our departure, but maintain contact with our network. We leave by a route that maximizes distance from the other van, and from the locations of the COSH. I'm hoping to carefully plant another comm node in daisychain on another stack so we can keep getting distance. But, in the mean time:

"Hello there, crew of scary humans. Can I help you with something?"

It appears that Alpha is the one responding. He has a look of rage on his face.

"TUNDAK! We've found you! You'll pay for the destruction of this planet."

Then he abruptly shifts into a magnanimous expression.

"But if you surrender now, we promise not to torture you before killing you."

Beta: "No we won't"

Alpha: "SHUT UP!" And then Alpha shoots Beta. Hits him, but only in the shield. From this you can determine that Alpha is a shock shooter, and Beta has an impressive duck.

Gamma and Delta start running to where Epsilon is. Epsilon is still staring intently into the camera. He's, well, creepy. Up this close, he has a crazed intensity about him.

Scouty: "Um, just for the record. I'm not a Tundak."

"Well, we're fucked if they catch us."

[Replying to COSH]: "Foolish humans! How did you figure out it was me? And how did you find me?! It should make for interesting conversation while I hunt you down and assassinate all of you. Feel free to stick together if you want to make it interesting. Or some of you can run to make it last longer. Either way, none of you can be permitted to survive and give away the location of my treasure vault."

Braddock shrugs at his companions in Vanny McFloatface 2. "I was briefly contemplating asking them what they would do if I was just a scared biological without significant combat capability, but I figured that they've probably gotten good at making excuses to themselves to kill random innocents. So I went with maximum distraction."

COSH-α: "FOOL! We care not for any filthy treasure you may have collected. All we care about is our righteous vengeance which will purge you from our existence."

COSH-γ: "Well, we shouldn't discount the possibility of righteous vengeance and treasure."

COSH-ε: "Everyone must die."

Scouty-[battlewiki]: "Maybe I am a Tundak. Just a Tundak programmed to not think he's a Tundak."

Ziggy-[battlewiki]: "You're not a Tundak."

At this point you're all in VM2 and driving away down a gap. You've got about 5 minutes of contact before going out of line of site and losing connection. Gamma has analyzed the comm and figured out the direction it was transmitting. They're all following the trail. They'll be at an access point going below to your base in about 10 minutes. Unless you depower all the comms/sensors. Then it will take longer.

[battlewiki]: "Actually, a Tundak's involvement would make a lot of sense - just not in the way that they're implying. If anything, this has all the hallmarks of being a Kvankii-Lood operation, which might thence have a Tundak interested in undermining it. Or, alternatively, they Kvankii's might have done all this just to mess with some Tundaks, and there might be one Tundak lingering out of a sense of responsibility. Or whatever."

The idea that directionality of solid-state comms gear can be determined by observation is horrifying, and we'll be sure to program all the comms to point straight down once we break contact. But first, let's see if we can derive any more information out of these insane goons - hopefully well before we go out of line of sight.

COSH: "One question though - why do you insult me as being a Tundak? Why do you deny the horrible power of the Kvankii-Lood?!"

COSH-α: "Bah! Don't try your lies on me. If you truly are a Kvankii, show yourself, and we can hunt the Tundak together! But we both know that isn't going to happen. You will answer for your crimes you metal monster. Once you are destroyed, this planet will be reborn into the utopia it once was. The Confederation will flourish without your corruption and decay."

You can't help but stare at him while he's ranting. And it take a moment to realize that COSH-γ has taken out his tool pack and is interfacing with one of the comm nodes you left behind. Based on his ability to tamper into the network, you figure he's a second or third stage technician. He can't actually access any of the information that's being sent between the nodes. He can just send a carrier signal throughout the network at a certain frequency that lights them all up on etheric sensors, including the one on VM2.

The bad news is that they all abruptly turn and head back to their van. The van itself starts moving to meet them.

The good news is that MV2's speed and maneuverability dwarf the bulky cube van. You can out run them easily.

Well, them's the breaks.

We burn out the VM2 comms, isolate the autopilot and set it to circle the globe continuously - at just slightly faster than the cube van. Then once we've got a good separation, we bail out on the battle platform out of sight and make for full cover in a quiet stack. No foolish leaving of sensors for that scary scout to notice.

"Scouty, you drive. If we get out of this, let's hide in a quiet stack and start over. First Ziggy and I will make VM3, then Nerd Base 2, then resume studying. Sound good?"

On a scale of 2 to 12, the effectiveness of the autopilot is: 6. That should be good for a few days.

As you guys cower in the quiet stack, Scouty is able to determine at what point the Van should have gone past, plus a healthy margin of error. The tension visibly releases once he gives the all clear.

Scouty: "Assuming they were following the van, they should be long past by now."

Ziggy: "How about we head north a couple of stacks in the battle platform before setting down to work. Just so we get some more distance."

Scouty: "Works for me."

Ziggy: "Does anyone else think it was an odd coincidence that they picked our stack for Tundak hunting?"

Scouty: "Maybe our activity was noticed by someone and they were fed information?"

I suspect that VM2 will be shot down by a random act of reality before then, thereby transferring the COSM to being SEP.

Also, just to be paranoid, I think we should leave the stack by way of the other side - some 20km away from the last-known probable path of the COSM. Then we head north for a couple hours and find another inconspicuous stack.

"My fear is that there is no coincidence, and that this was a non-subtle suggestion from the Instigator(s) to make progress. Of course, it's also possible that these bozos were just keeping a scary-keen eye open for any 'uninhabited' stack that had a subtle array of sensors ringed around it. So maybe we shouldn't do exactly that again."

Ok. VM3 is constructed and you find a suitable stack to rebuild your base. It goes quicker this time as you know where everything is on the lower levels. You refrain from putting comm and sensors everywhere, and this means Scouty is a bit more important for spotting threats. Fortunately, things settle down and you're able to continue your studies.

Another month and a half go by without incident. Ziggy earns his stage of technician from building the second base, and you both finish your stages of physicist. Scouty finishes his third stage of scout.


So, uh, I guess we button up our little sanctuary, and head back to extract the Ninja Hopper.

ASIDE: That might have been the most exciting stage of scientist we've ever played in the history of AIF. Well done, sir.

The trip to the Ninja Hopper is uneventful. Everything is right where you left it, and you and Ziggy start the careful disassembly. It's slow going because you're being extremely careful not to wreck anything. Parts get taken outside and Scouty uses the Battle Platform to transport them somewhere hidden. Once done, you and Ziggy start the painstaking assembly process while Scouty keeps watch. You'd be sweating even if it weren't so blasted hot. Eventually all the parts are back together and the diagnostics check out. The hopper starts, and the cloak works. It's a thing of absolute beauty.

Ziggy: "Buzz the civilized area before checking out the last set of coordinates?"

Scouty: "I think we should go straight to the coordinates. Though I am curious what is in orbit."

Ziggy: "Yeah, the last set of coordinates must be something frick'n huge. Let's do that."

"I agree that the desire to see what is at the last coordinates is nearly irresistible. But just in case it triggers something which gives us no further time to prepare, I propose that we finish off a few last paranoid preparations first."

  1. Carefully disassemble and remove the hologram shield projectors.
  2. Drive VM3 and the holo-shield back to our last base.
  3. Install the holo-shield such that we can quickly re-hide the Ninja Hopper, then hide VM3 in it.
  4. Make another shielded battle platform to keep in the Ninja Hopper, just in case we need to bail.

"Then I think we might want to contemplate looking up Samantha and Morris. What do you guys think?"

Scouty (seething cauldron of rage and fury): "I've been waiting over four months to find out who fucked with my brain. Most of that time sitting on my ass while you two study. I really don't care about the Felinids. I'm fine with the rest of the prep, but I would like to go to the last coordinates after that."

Ziggy shrugs.

"OK, that's a pretty clear preference. I do appreciate the final nod to paranoia, which is the more pressing idea for me. As for the Felinids, they might have already served their purpose for the schemes of the Instigator(s), by way of explaining things to us. And they might be better off not being with us. We can definitely debate the value and risks of a seasoned combatant in our midst after we discover the final piece to the puzzle."

We roll. Er, fly. Braddock volunteers to man the VM3, on principle that there will be more potential for ducking experience there. But we're hoping that there isn't any complications, and avoid any that Scouty can see from the Ninja Hopper's vantage - probably 1km up. Or whatever is the optimal scouring the stacks with passive sensors distance.

Ok, you claim the shield/hologram, head back to your last base and set things up. A new battle platform is made that fits into the hopper, and then you're off to the last set of coordinates.

Dun Dun DUUUN!

I'm going to hazard a guess that you cloak and keep your speed down so there's no contrails. It takes a while, and the monotony of wrecked stack after wrecked stack is kind of depressing. Countless wrecks of buildings and vehicles, and skeletal remains of bodies everywhere. You reach the area of the planet that got smashed with an asteroid and start skirting the outside of the crater area. Based on the estimated circumference of the crater the last set of coordinates is near the edge of it.

Eventually you reach the target stack. It appears that another stack further in the crater zone was blown off and collided with this one. The whole thing is leaning at about a 20 degree angle. The coordinates reside somewhere in the bottom level of the stack.

Oh, and the temperature gauge reads 75 degrees C outside. As far as you can tell, there are no bugs this close to the equator.

This is terrifying in a couple of ways.

First, a stack that is 20km across and tilted at a 20° angle will have a height differential of 6.8 km from one side to the other. On earth, that would qualify it as the third tallest mountain. Now, I'm not totally sure how tall these stacks are supposed to be, but I got the sense that their height was measured as being just a faction of a kilometer tall. So, that might be a frightening structure to contemplate being anywhere near.

Having spent a moment to choke on my smug superiority, I just figured out that you might have meant that all the floors were still technically mostly-horizontal, and that all the vertical members were leaning over at 20°. That's less funny to picture, but no less scary to imagine crawling into.

Then there's the whole 75°C ambient temperature aspect. Regular old humans start suffering from the harmful effects of heat at around 44°C (that's when organic proteins start breaking down), but can tolerate brief exposures of up to 60°C without too much ill effect. So I figured that with nanoscopic robots in play, our characters would be able to brave some of the hotter climes we've encountered up to now with mostly just extreme discomfort. At 75°C, this is clearly where we're talking about taking some damage. The question is: how much damage?

The logical course would be to send our heat-resistant professional scout robot to check things out for us. Except that he's programmed to only approach these coordinates with one of us meat puppets.

"OK Ziggy, looks like you and I need to make ourselves some space suits. I'll make mine look extremely boring, and I expect that you'll make yours look amaaaaazing." Turning to the Seething Cauldron Of Rage And Fury. "Don't worry, it shouldn't take us too long."

You guestimate you can be active in that heat about two hours before you pass out. Death would follow about an hour later. It would happen to Ziggy even faster - Zygroten's are not designed for heat as well as humans. All times will shorten with greater activity.

So, yes, environmental suits are being built.

It's going to be a pain in the ass to make accommodations for Ziggy's tail.

Game Night 2016-05-26 - Mad Scientist's Secret Lair

  • Got to the coordinates. Ended up being a crack in the supporting column of a stack.
  • Cobbled together some ship tools to widen the crack so they could fit. (Instead of using the handy plasma grenades)
  • Down a shaft, through a couple bulkheads, and into a small base with a 10 meter diameter QUANTUM MIRROR or is it?
  • Found 3 Scouty duplicates. Seeing them triggered Scouty's conditioning programming to deactivate.
  • Quantum mirror controlled by a little floating ball in the middle of it. Two numeric settings, and two commands 'Activate' and 'Recall'.
  • First number appears to be distance, a setting of 1 sent them 2.6 million km into space. A setting of 2 double that. The scale seemed to be logarithmic as a really large number send them out of the galactic cluster.
  • Second number was a countdown of a day.
  • Odd time-compression thing going on.
  • Experiment to talk with Scouty outside the base went weird. Braddock talked to Scouty, returned, and Scouty had no memory of the event. Alternate universe was considered.
  • Attempt to go the neighboring system resulted in an attempted interception by a military craft. Returned back to quantum mirror.
  • Contemplating more experiments or going and finding Morris/Samantha.

Plot Infliction VII - Working Out A Puzzle

Ziggy: "So, when you went through the mirror, and were talking to Scouty, time passed for you. However, when you returned, you were here an instant after you left. From Scouty's point of view, you would have left, shown up in the sky and returned in the Quantum mirror at about the same time. Were there two of you?"

Scouty: "Whaaaat?" If Scouty were biological, he would be getting a headache trying to wrap his mind around all of this.

"There clearly were not two of us coexisting, as then Scouty would have been having conversations with both of us simultaneously. I'm a little bummed that the comm probe we sent through also did not seem to exist after we bomfed back..."

"Say, we should bamf back up to the standard 3km 'low insertion' zone with the Ninja Hopper, then fly down to see if we can find that probe. Because it's possible that we're dealing with a persistent mirror or alternate reality, but it's also possible that we dealing with an infinite parade of almost-identical realities."

"Also: we have yet to test what happens when the timer runs out. Does that pop back the same as the 'recall' function? Or does it shift is back into our native spacetime - but in the location we're already at? Let's combine both tests. Head out to look for the probe, and set the timer to be, say, 0.1 and let it run down all the way."

Obviously we all stay inside the Ninja Hopper the whole time. Just in case.

Ok, you transport back up to the low insertion zone with the timer set to 0.1. You search around, but there's no sign of the probe. Then you just wait the few hours for the timer to count down.

Scouty: "You know, I'm looking at the sensor feed of when you were talking with me, where I don't remember. I flinch shortly after Braddock contacts me."

Ziggy: "When? I don't see it."

The video starts playing in the battle wiki. It pauses at a spot.

Scouty: "There. And then I look distracted."

Ziggy: "Ok... I sort of see it."

Scouty: "Maybe he is talking to the other Braddock, but not mentioning it to this Braddock?"

Ziggy: "Why would he do that?"

Scouty: "How should I know?"

Ziggy: "Well, because he's you."

Scouty: "Oh."

Ziggy: "Maybe he's not saying anything because God forgot this aspect of the complex reality he's weaving."

Scouty: "What?!?"

Ziggy: "Just saying."

Scouty: "You can't say that."

Ziggy: "Why not?"

Scouty: "Because it's breaking the 4th wall you idiot. You're not suppose to do that!"

Ziggy: "Oh, right. Sorry."

Scouty: "And I thought I was the moron."

After the time reaches zero, you're recalled back to the quantum chamber.

Braddock declares himself a Zen Pessimist Monk of the Order of Conflicted Continuity.

Also, when we bamf back, we immediately attempt to return to the same low insertion zone. Subjective time suggests we spent hours up there, but supposedly objective time means that we've only been gone for a brief moment. What happens when we try to make those subjective intervals overlap?

You bamf (is that the official word now?) back, but there's no sign of you.

Ziggy: "That was actually kind of dangerous. What happens if we were here and we teleported onto ourselves? They might have been there and we just killed them."

Scouty: "I'm still alive."

Ziggy: "Can we figure out a way to safely go to a civilized planet? It's been ages since I've had a decent beer."

"You make a good point, Ziggy. But I'd like to do just a couple more experiments first."

First, we bamf to our usual low-altitude insertion. Fly down to the edge of the stack where we originally entered, and hook up to the comm daisychain, and say "hello". We also make a physical mark on something.

Depending on the craziness that results from that test, we head out and up to check to see if that mark exists in our native spacetime.

Bamf! Fly fly fly. You find a wrecked hopper that would be good for an obvious mark. Then you tap into the comm. "Hello?"

Braddock2: "Huh, that worked. Now I'm on this side of the conversation. When you put the mark on wrecked hopper you find, I think it won't show up when you go back. When I bamfed, the Braddock I was talking to said he put the mark on the same thing, but when I got there, as you're getting there now, there wasn't anything there. I (and I assume you) are going to check anyway, but I think we'll find nothing."

Ziggy2: "Maybe when we recall, time is rewound back for the person recalling, so anything that happens after that is overwritten."

Ziggy: "Did you come up with that yourself, or did the Ziggy you talk to say that."

Ziggy2: "The Ziggy I talked to said it, but it makes sense."

Scouty: "There could be some wacked infinite regression thing going on."

Ziggy: "What would happen if one of you guys came with us?"

Braddock2: "Yeah, our Ziggy suggested that when we went. The group we were talking to didn't want to try it until we figured things out more, and I tend to agree."


We then proceed to have the same conversation, I assume. But, since we bomfed back to the instant after we bamfed, there is no way that we've had a chance to stroll out to the wrecked hopper to check on that mark. So why did we just lie to ourselves?!?!

Instinctively, though, Braddock knows that it's true - the mark isn't there. So it wasn't lying, not technically. But it just doesn't make any sense.

With a desperation of sensing a fracturing reality, Braddock squints crazily at Ziggy.

"BEER! We need to go get some beer - decent or otherwise. Let's set the distance thingie to 10,000, set the time to a few days, and let's find ourselves some motherfucking beer. And let's not think about this too much until we have a few in us first."

You technically didn't lie to yourselves. While Braddock2/Ziggy2/Scouty2 didn't have time to go check on the mark, I assume they just asked you if it was there... Or at least that's what happened when B/Z/S2 was talking with B/Z/S3. And 4, and 5, and so on. Braddock2 said "I (and I assume you) are going to check anyway, but I think we'll find nothing" implying he hadn't actually checked yet.

However. Notably you do not have the same conversation. There isn't any other version of the three of you after you return. When you go out and check, there is no mark.

Scouty: "In any infinite regression, there's always a starting point. It appears we're the starting point."

Ziggy: "BEER!"

You guys Bamf out 10000 and you end up in some random spot in the first galaxy. It takes a moment for the navigation computer to figure out where you are based on star positions, but eventually it maps things out and you find you are about 12 parsecs from a city planet.

"Let's hope that city planet has beer."

We make for the nearest spacelane and proceed in a suitably paranoid manner. If anybody tries to extemporize about temporal theory or alternate realities, Braddock blandly stares at them with an expression that clearly demonstrates that he has had insufficient beer to participate.

Perhaps singing might be a reasonable alternative means to pass the time. Like continuously looping the Smurf theme.

Everyone is fairly exhausted with thinking about the crazy shit, so you guys mostly chat about unimportant shit. While you and Ziggy mostly reminisce about life before the Xoid's invaded, Scouty focuses on imagining what it will be like to unleash his mathematician abilities on a planetary network. Food, drink, and not existing in a planet full of assholes trying to kill you is also discussed at length.

You easily find a space lane and blend into traffic heading towards the planet. On approach, a beacon informs you it is called Athuvazhi, and that it's a company planet owned by Nastidyne. Huge shipyards are littered throughout the system and the planet is a hive of activity.

As you approach the surface, Scouty looks up and goes kind of rigid. After a moment: "Um, I've noticed something. Should I tell you before or after the beer?"

Ziggy: "Is it an imminent threat?"

Scouty: "No, I don't think so."

Ziggy: "BEER!"

Scouty: "Ok, I've located a bar that shouldn't be too threatening to us. It's mostly green combatants and non-combatants. We'll blend well."

He gives you coordinates and you guys head down. There's parking nearby and everyone around seems fairly non threatening. You guys go in and it's a bustling group of people Lot's of dancing, drinking, etc. Many are armed, but you get the impression there isn't much violence here. You're able to find a table and can get beers.

After tilting back a few delectable bverages and soaking in the relative lack of imminent death, and perhaps having some decent food delivered, Braddock will issue a conversation-starting belch.

"OK, before we ponder the various impossibilities and conjectures of bamf-bomfing, what was it that you spotted on approach?"

Scouty: "Access the planetary network. When you do, sync your internal chronometer with planet time."

When you do, you find that planet time is over 27 years behind your time.

"Well, that's interesting. Probably an artifact of the slope of spacetime, where the further away we go the more we also traverse from our native timeline. Odd that it isn't proportional with our light cone, but whatever. Is there anything 27 years in our past that we would like to observe?"

A palate-cleansing slurp of beer while Braddock considers.

"So, we seem to have a basic understanding of the functionality of the Space-Time Zarker. The most poignant limitation of which is the poignant primacy of our observable timeline. Which means that while we can affect things while space-time zarking, only the things that remain observable to us after we bomf have continuity. Probably helps to avoid paradox, which is pretty important for causality. Nifty. Also nifty is the lack of time elapsing in our native space-time during the space-time zarking. But..."

Another sip of beer.

"But - there are some things we still have yet to explain. Like:

  • Who was the Instigator(s)?
  • Were they native to the same space-time as us, or are we in an alternate spacetime that they could affect?
  • How did they manage to have so much cumulative action setting up the Scavenger Hunt?
  • Why us?
  • Where are they now?
  • If he handed the STZ control ball to some asshole and backed away 10 meters and instructed it to 'return', would we cease to exist or would this spacetime on non-Hellhole continue?"

Based on the AIF timeline the year you arrived on Hellhole was 5010. That makes the current year 4983. You don't know exactly when the war was on Hellhole, but you heard mention it was 20 years ago, which would place it at 4990.

Ziggy orders something a bit stronger than beer.

"27 years. Wow. So, yeah, that doesn't explain who the instigators are. Why would they want us to find this machine? If they knew where it was, why didn't they go to it themselves? I can't think of any reason why they would want us to have it."

Scouty: "This is all interesting and all, but now that we have this, how best to use it?"

Ziggy: "Well, we can buy stuff and bring it back with us."

Scouty: "I'd be careful there. The money system uses complex math to keep it secure. Our credits might be out of sync."

Ziggy: "You mean our money won't be any good here?"

Scouty: "I don't know. But we should test it before, say, going into an equipment shop."

Ziggy: "Still, 27 years. Do you think you could figure out how to control the time span?"

Scouty: "..."

Ziggy: "Well?"

Scouty: "Sorry, I'm not used to being the smart one. You're too focused on how may years the difference is. If you convert it to days, you'll see that we travelled back in time exactly 10000 days."

"Ha! So the apparent locality displacement is based on some etheric objective scale relative movement of the galaxy/universe whenever we displace temporally. That certainly explains the lack of a direction parameter on the equipment. It also means we should be extreemely cautious about trying for 'low altitude' insertions after the planet rotates 180°."

"It also explains the apparent identical realities - it would conform with the quantum multiverse, with each space-time zarking creating a branching causality from the same root."

"So we've established that during the bamf we can exist in multiple instances, but that they collapse into the prime viewpoint causality after the bomf for the purposes of the timeline we experience. And our attempts to affect reality were mostly confined to durations that would have technically existed after the bomf return point, so therefore would not be part of our causality. Therefore we should try giving ourselves sufficient temporal space to see if we can affect things technically before we even bamf, and see how that affects causality. Because it opens up the possibility of us being the Instigator(s)."

Then Braddock mutters into his beer. "Or the possibility that it's Morris."

Ziggy: "So, every time we bamf, we start a reality branch in the multiverse. The question is, do we stay in that branch when we bomf, or do we return to our original version of reality. My guess is that we return to our original. Mostly because that's where the time machine is. All we have here is that sphere you've got in your pocket. If we went back to the future in this branch, that sphere would have to be the entire time machine. But since the time machine is back in our original time/reality, my guess is the two are still connected somehow."

Scouty: "So, we're not the Instigator(s)?"

Ziggy: "Not us.... but it's possible a version of us are. Maybe someone from another timeline used their machine to go back to their past and that created the branch that for us is our native timeline."

Scouty: "I wish I could get drunk."

Ziggy: "I wonder which of those three robots we found on the wall is you? My bet it's the one on the left. He looks grumpy."

Scouty to you: "Why Morris? I thought he was a biologist."

"If these really are branch realities, that means that they are observationally persistent - as long as we're present to observe them. Which really does beg the question: do we actually want to head back to Hellhole at all? There's the whole hand-the-sphere-to-an-asshole plan which might enable us to stay happily in civilization - with a Ninja Hopper."

"Which all leans heavily on the hope that there isn't some potential paradox of us needing to fulfill some the Instigator(s) role."

To Scouty: "Because of Chechov's gun. Morris prime could have been the space-time zarking scientist, which he completed after the war, only to discover that perhaps the most functional alternate timeline is one where he goes back and convinces our native Morris to pursue biology to have pre-achieved the skills necessary to avoid something he was too late to circumvent himself. And we're complicated accessories to implementing native-Morris's potential biological something something. It's thin, I know. But the narrative nature of reality has a way of skewing probabilities, I think."

Ziggy: "Well, if we give up on Hellhole, we're giving up on a freak'n time machine. I think as long as we're careful, that option will always be open to us. Plus, part of me was fantasizing about helping the other refugees. A life of hell and then slavery isn't something that should go unchallenged. I know I'm being kind of an idealist, but if we have the power, shouldn't we do something about that?"

Scouty: "You're kidding, right? It's obvious I was sent to give you guys a means to escape. A cloaked hopper and a time machine? Escape-o-rama."

Ziggy: "But we got the inoculation too. Why give us those if we weren't meant to stick around?"

Scouty: "We never did figure out what the deal with that med kit is."

Ziggy: "Um... yeah, that too. Maybe we should go back and chat with Morris."

"OK, I think we have sufficient reasons to continue suffering back on Hellhole. So that much appears to be decided. A good starting point would be to talk with Morris - perhaps the med kit will reveal something to him."

"BUT, let's also bring back all the beer we can feasibly carry."

trundle trundle trundle...

You BOMF back and set up some more refrigeration for the beer. Ziggy comments that you guys should build a small brewery.

Scouty asks a bunch of physics questions on speed of planets, stars, galaxies, space etc. Feeds it all into his mathematician brain and says he can probably compute close to exact positions depending on how far you go back.

Ziggy: "So, go visit the Felinids, or explore space/time?"

"I realize that it unnecessarily multiplies variables, but I propose that we do both - head back a few months to shortly after we left our note for Morris and Samantha. Zoom back and see how hard it is to penetrate whatever blockade is surrounding Hellhole - thanks Ninja Hopper! Then see if we can find the Felinids."

"If we then also leave some sort of mark in the past, we can check for it in our native spacetime after we bomf back to verify that it is indeed our own branch we are backing down."

Ziggy: "Wouldn't it make more sense to go back to a couple hours after we left the Felinids? That way, we know exactly where they are."

"Re-introducing our current selves into the timeline at that point leaves us little choice but to do a lot of explaining. There's no way we could both have achieved stages in technician in that time (scientist could have been coincidence, however unlikely), and I'd rather not have to give up all our tactical gear to pretend to be timely extrapolations of ourselves. If we insert ourselves after stages of technician and a bunch of scavenging make sense, that would free us up to abort the conversation amicably if we determine that the seasoned combatant or seasoned scientist might be problems."

Nods towards Scouty. "And I think we might have a reasonable chance of tracking them down. If it doesn't pan out, we can try again earlier."

Game Night 2016-06-02 - Escape From Hellhole

  • Went to visit Morris / Samantha
  • Encountered COSH again. Rammed them.
  • Explained everything to the Felinids, everyone went on a trip back to Athuvazhi.
  • The lure of living anywhere other than Hellhole was too great, so they all decided to abandon the time machine and live happily ever after.



Scouty, Ziggy, Morris, Samatha and Braddock, free of Hellhole, started their new lives in the past. It is unknown what adventures they may have had, or how long they lived. All we know is what happens at the underground facility that houses the time machine. From that time perspective, an instant after the group left, the time orb returned alone.

Days and nights passed in the lonely workshop until it was discovered by another adventuring party. This time it was the Crew Of Scary Humans (COSH). A complicated backstory of this group exists, but all we really need to know to explain this is that COSH-ε, the scary scout, was a Trupepol operative who went insane on Hellhole and used his unstable MBA to track the group to the lab.

COSH-γ, being the smartest and most technically minded of COSH, figured out some testing was required. Sensors were built and sent, then small probes. Eventually, like the crew before, a space worthy vehicle was built inside the chamber. COSH piled in and left, returning an instant later. More trips were made. A few times COSH exited the vehicle for breaks, sometimes with fresh equipment, sometimes with fresh wounds and scars.

After 22 separate trips to the past, a morbid tableau of violence returned. The corpses of COSH-α and COSH-β were strewn asunder with numerous blast rifle burns, mostly to their vitals. COSH-δ was unfortunately half way across the time displacement effect, so only the lower half of him returned. It is unknown if he was still alive before transit. The dead form of COSH-ε was being held upright by his snapped neck by a very confused looking, blast rifle wielding, Orbodun.