Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mad Science on Tatooine, part 2

Our heroes show up at a mostly abandoned Darklighter Ranch, one of the more prosperous moisture farms in the Tosche Station area.  Most of the people and droids are out trying to pick up the trail on the Sand People who abducted Biggs' kid sister Cindel two nights earlier.  Two hired hands were left behind to repair the blasted door to the main compound.  Ivuur the alien jedi helps repair the doot and she notes that the blast marks were too precise for Sand People.  Meanwhile Rand (IIRC) heads to the outhouse to see a man about a bantha.  We have a brief discussion about how every possible drop of liquid is harvested at a moisture farm, but I decide against explicating the actual apparatus involved.  When setting a mood sometimes a suggestion works better than an explanation.

Tiberius Starwalker whips out his tricorder and picks up the an ion trail suggestive of a souped up landspeeder heading towards the Jundland wastes.  The party confirm that no one in the Darklighter household drives a turbospeeder, so they decide the trail must lead to the fake Sand People.  As they get ready to leave one of the farmhands gives each of the PCs a space brewsky as thanks for the help with the door and all.  The players inquire if my ale quaffing house rule is still in effect.  I don't know about you, but I reserve the term 'house rule' for things that I will use in any game I run, so I agree they can continue to imbibe alcohol once per session for d6 healing.

The rest of the night is a series of action sequences.  First up they stumble across a dozen legit Sand People out looking for the dillweeds sullying their bad name.  I give a 1 in 6 chance that no parley will be possible with these guys and the magic die says they attack.  Blasters and lightsabres quickly overwhelm gaffi sticks and those Tuskens who aren't dead and/or dismembered flee into the night.  The party decides that they may want to use some of the Sand People's gear for disguises and/or deep desert survival, so they loot the bodies.  I decide that for purpose of this campaign Sand People are hideously scared, mutated and generally grody humans.  The head wrappings flake away like crusty bandages.

Finally the PCs arrive at the hidden fortress of the Imperials. It's a squat construction built of hardend duranium (whatever that means) with a dual-mounted laser turret, a floating 'eye in the sky' style security droid and a laser drawbridge over a quicksand moat. The players watch the droid long enough to realize it makes a slow, regular circuit around the facility which they then exploit to load the barrels of the laser cannon with rocks. Eventually they provoke a fight, which causes the lasers to explode when they are fired. The main doors open some Imperial douchebags (pictured left) come out looking for trouble. One of them activates the laser drawbridge just before the PCs open fire on them. Amaiza Shadowslayer aims for the guy packing what I describe as a back-mounted beerkeg connected to a weedwhacker by a length of vacuum cleaner hose. I figure she's going to pop that guy so she can snag his Heavy Plasma Wrecker but instead she aims for the fuelpack. Dice indicate a hit and the keg spews hot plasma all about the place, melting all of the Imperials nearby.
 
The PCs rush into the place only to discover that the duranium building is the top two floors of an extensive underground facility, with lots of catwalks and very few safety railings. A quick tricorder scans shows a room a few levels down with a bunch of lifeforms crammed inside and another room on the same level, not too far away, giving off a strange energy reading. Bless their souls, the party splits up once they reach the target level. The jawa and the jedi bounty hunter head for the energy reading while the rest of the group makes for what they hope is the detention block. Along the way they have a running gun battle with more Death Squad Commander action figures.

Turns out all the lifeforms are in some sort of evil science room where all the kidnapping victims are strapped to tables with needles and stuff jammed into their skulls. It looks like some substance is being slowly sucked out of their brains. Amaiza starts to unhook people while Ivuur interrogates the droid in the room. Rand Skystar keeps an eye out for more badguys. Meanwhile Tiberius and the jawa open the door leading to the energy reading only to come face-to-face with a Monster Droid. Combat droids are higly regulated in the Galactic Empire, so occasionally the jawas cobble together frankensteinian ones to sell on the black market. What would an unlicensed combat droid be doing smack dab in the middle of an Imperial facility? Acting as an insurance policy.

The strange energy reading is the Mad Science lab (complete with Jacob's ladders and smoking beakers) belonging to one Skullbryn Limbic, a scowling big-brained alien in a classic mad science outfit: doublebreasted white lab smock, long rubber gloves, goggles that do nothing. He bought the monster droid because he doesn't trust the Empire as his sole source of personal security. That's also why he carries a Neutron Whip at all times. I really should have typed this sequence up last week, as Tim and Alex did some brilliant maneuvering in this encounter and now I can't remember it all clearly. There wasn't much actual fighting, as the monster droid's ion emitter shut down Tiberius's lightsabre and Tiberius used the Force to yank away Limbic's Neuron Whip and his Monster Droid Remote Control. However, Skullbryn was able to telepathically shut down Tiberius's agression, forcing him to negotiate briefly. That created the opening for the mad scientist to get away. But the party ended up with a mostly intact Monster Droid, its controller unit and a Neu(t)ron Whip, whatever that is.

Meanwhile an ambitious young junior lieutenant had taken some intiative and gotten one of the tripod-mounted Gatling lasers out of the base armory. His men were setting it up in the hallway outside the lab but the PCs caught on and broke up the operation before they could open fire. The imperial troops routed under heavy blaster fire but the young officer stood his ground, exhorting his men to rally. I described the officer as a kid who was too young to have made it out of the academy, his family must have bought a commission for him. Rand did not hesitate to blow this young punk away even though the kid wasn't actually firing at anyone. Maybe it's only retroactively that I now see his shooting the lizarddog as stone cold. The two incidents in one night gave the scoundrel a definite Han Shoot First edge, at least in my mind.

We're nearing the end of the alloted gaming time, so we quickly wrap up at this point. The party quickly loots an armory they stumble upon. The stolen arms, mad science victims and monster droid are crammed into the back of a heavy transport speeder they find in a hanger area. Speaking of the hanger, when they arrive they see a small silverly starship shaped like an asymmetrical crescent taking off. The fire some blasters at it but we all know that never works. I had expected the party to kill the mad scientist and steal his starship, but maybe they can do that next time they run into him.

Two of the party members earned enough XP to reach level two, so first thing we'll do next session is go through the level-up procedure. Then we'll deal with the consequences of them wrecking an Imperial installation and stealing the Empire's stuff.