“Star Wars: Dark Times” Session 3 — Dead in space

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 3 of Jason E.R.’s face-to-face “Star Wars” game, which Brian W. hosted in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 7 October 2013:

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away — the Galactic Republic has been replaced by a ruthless empire, and the Jedi, once guardians of peace, are now hunted fugitives. In the Unknown Regions, at the edge of explored space, a few Jedi and their allies hope to survive and continue the fight for justice….

>>Player Character roster for Jason E.R.’s Star Wars: Dark Times” space opera miniseries, using Savage Worlds, autumn 2013:

  • Ekafti Acomar [Gene D.]-female human Jedi consular, older diplomat with many contacts but few remaining friends 
  • “Garolos Banku Nuruolos — Garos [Beruk A.]-male Chiss (blue-skinned humanoid) ex-Jedi, gambler and owner of the light freighter “Lucky Strike” 
  • Oong Bak [Brian W.]-male Duros (gray-skinned humanoid) honorable and talented mechanic
  • Ari Sundar [Sara F.]-female Ssi-ruu (raptor-like reptile) military medic, outcast from a species intruding upon the galaxy
  • Thayne Highlander [Bruce K.]-male human Jedi padawan close to knighthood, 19 years old; saw master killed by Order 66
  • Max Power (MX-PR) [Rich C.G.]-male protocol droid with secret combat subroutine, ordered to protect Jedi (overrode Order 66)
  • Tark Agros [Brian S.]-male Bakuran human pilot and noble, mildly delusional hotshot

“From the journals of Ekafti Acomar, 19 B.B.Y. (before the Battle of Yavin):” We seem to be more adept at getting into and out of trouble than agreeing on or getting to a destination. After encountering clones of me in the Grand Pelgar Hotel, we had gone to the Zanazi religious retreat on Cattamascar.

Two imperial cruisers that had been pursuing the clones floated in orbit, unresponsive. Adaha Tila made claims for the right to salvage, but the Zeltron woman got no response from the cruisers or Bakuran authorities, as far as we could tell.

Star Wars: Dark Times imperial cruiser
An early Imperial cruiser

At my recommendation, Garolos Banku Naruolos hailed Tila’s ship, which was docked with one of the disabled warships. Tark Agros piloted the Lucky Strike close enough to the Folly so that we could scan the sleek Hwk 290-class freighter for life signs.

Meanwhile, Oong Bak continued to make repairs on the Lucky Strike, and Thayne Highlander and MX-PR prepared to join Garos and me in going aboard the cruiser. Ari Sundar received a royal signal from her people, the reptilian Ssi-ruuk.

After some negotiation, Tila granted us permission to come aboard after an hour, during which she was apparently looking for something of value. I resisted recommendations that we shoot at the Folly before then, in the hope we could avoid a fight.

Garos contacted Jarik Tai, a Bakuran recruiter for “The Brotherhood” he had met at the Terminus restaurant, to see if he knew anything about Tila. Unfortunately, Tai had little useful to say about the attractive Zeltron.

We detected small-arms fire at the Folly, so Thayne, Garos, and I donned vacc suits and jumped to the cruiser. Droid “Max” easily followed. Oong, Ari, and Tark stayed with the Lucky Strike.

We interrupted a three-way shootout, with Adaha Tila drawing her blaster pistol on two groups. One included four tentacle-faced Krevaaki, similar to sage Moross Sapan, whom we had met at the retreat. They yelled something about “heretics.”

The last party to the standoff was a yellow Ssi-ruu guarding several blue-scaled younglings. Ari later explained that her red hide denotes the warrior caste, with the yellow representing scientists and blue the aristocracy. I told Ari what we found via comlink, and she rushed to join us.

I asked Tila how she was doing, and onetime Jedi Garos asked everyone to hold their fire. Ari and I wanted to protect the innocent younglings, so Max fired a grenade at the Krevaaki. One of the zealots managed to catch the explosive and throw it back at us!

I narrowly escaped serious injury, and recent padawan Thayne ignited his light saber and attacked the Krevaaki. Garos and Max shot them, and Ssi-ruuk Ari and Idiian wanted to get the royal younglings to safety.

Meanwhile, Oong and Tark were amused by our attempts to figure out what to do. They were forced to make evasive maneuvers as another Krevaaki ship fired on the Lucky Strike.

Tila slipped away, and Thayne and I headed to the main bridge, passing numerous stormtrooper corpses on the way. This could have been the work of my clones.

We found Tila blocked by a hazy green force field that blocked only organic matter. Over the comlink, I called for Max to join us, even as we glimpsed a dim shape moving on the bridge.

Adaha admitted that she was looking for confirmation of the Sanctuary Route, a rumored hyperspace lane. Garos seemed to recognize it. As the Krevaaki riddled the Folly with holes, I called for Ari and the other Ssi-ruuk to join us, away from the docking bay.

Max entered the cruiser’s bridge and saw an anomalous life form that he described as a mass of muscle and sinew, similar to Durge, the Gen’Dai bounty hunter. It had ripped the command crew to bloody shreds, and we decided to leave the force field containing it alone. With Krevaaki still around, we decided to leave via Idiian’s ship.

The Ssi-ruu scientist said (although not in so many words) that his people had made a deal with the Galactic Empire for clones in exchange for technology that converted vitality into energy usable by starships.

As Ari translated, I discovered through Mind Read that Idiian planned to take us all back to his homeworld, where we would be strapped to gurneys and tortured for our life force. I used the Jedi Mind Trick to get him to drop out of hyperspace near Gymelo, and I granted Max permission to take him down.

The belligerent droid immediately resorted to lethal force, which I should have predicted. Garos and Ari were confused, and worse still, Max wasn’t able to immediately incapacitate the pilot. To add to our difficulties, the younglings reacted by trying to protect their fellow Ssi-ruu.

The small but vicious raptors scarred Ari, tore circuits from Max, and attacked Thayne and me as we tried to gain control of the ship. Adaha cowered in terror. Fortunately, Thayne was able to land the ship, and I depressurized the cabin on the way to knock out everyone not in space suits.

We sent a signal to the Lucky Strike, which soon joined us in Gymelo’s jungles. Oong attended to the injured, and Thayne tied up Idiian and helped me move the insensate younglings to a locked compartment.

Oong found that the Ssi-ruuk ship was powered by P’w’eck, a reptilian subject race, wired into its systems. We released the weak slaves, who staggered off into the forest. Garos was disappointed that we couldn’t obtain any data or useful salvage.

Tark, Garos, and Max wanted to kill the younglings, but I knew that unconscious Ari wouldn’t. Even though they were bred or cloned to be killing machines, I couldn’t take their lives in good conscience, even if they had tried to kill us.

After another heated debate, I told Idiian that we would leave him and the younglings on Gymelo and that they should remember our mercy. As we left, the Lucky Strike got a Clone Wars-era distress signal, CC-648.

We followed the signal to a small clearing, where clone Cmdr. “Thorn” and the remains of his platoon greeted us. Over Garos’ objections, I revealed my identity as a Jedi. He greeted us as officers, but I had to explain how the old Republic had fallen to Palpatine’s schemes.

Naturally, “Thorn” had difficulty understanding why the Republic would have fallen from within rather than as a result of Separatist or Ssi-ruuvi attacks. Somehow, his group hadn’t heard about Order 66, which outlawed all Jedi, so Thayne and I were safe for the moment.

We shared what supplies we could, and I promised the loyal troopers that I would try to return. Thayne and I viewed these men as potential assets and their base, far from imperial orders, as a rare safe landing site. Garos and Tark would have preferred to kill them in cold blood.

Tark detected the source of the signal jamming these clones’ transmissions, which we traced to a Separatist emplacement. We left the clone troopers behind, as well as recuperating Ari. She agreed to watch the Lucky Strike and reluctant passengers Adaha, Princess Tethys (one of my clones), and suspicious protocol droid B-1E4.

We found nine commando droids circling the clone trooper camp, plus lumbering Viper droids with transmitters. We decided to leave them alone and head back into space, since destroying them might expose the troopers to Order 66.

Since Cattamascar was on the Shirotoku Way between Gymelo and Bakura, where I still hoped to thwart the empire, we stopped back at that desert world. Tark and Garos wanted to examine the second disabled cruiser.

On the way, Thayne had another dream of a dark tower and a banner with a centipede symbol. He again saw Endolana, the young daughter of Ataru, a Jedi master who lived 25,000 years ago. This time, Endolana was joined by friends including mute Aliza, Dal-Vha, Khatyen, Tomi and the adolescent Miru.

From the holocron of Sai Agorn, I recognized these girls as the daughters of masters Djem So, Makashi, Shien, Shii-cho, and Soresu, respectively. All had light saber forms named after them, and the children’s kidnapping was a major cause of the Jedi vow of celibacy.

The girls sung a morbid nursery rhyme, according to Thayne’s later recollection. Endolana told Thayne that he was close to reaching them in “sanctuary,” possibly a reference to Adaha’s hyperspace route.

We arrived at Cattamascar to find more Krevaaki ships attached to the hull of the second imperial cruiser. As Tark flew us by the bridge, its window blew out, and the Krevaaki blasted another fleshy anomaly into space and restored power. An emergency force field replaced the window.

Oong found a way to get a landing bay to open, and we hurried to the bridge, stepping over yet more slain stormtroopers. Tark put on his jet pack and flew ahead, despite my warning. Garos ran after him. Both were shot and wounded by fanatical Krevaaki.

Thayne, Max, and I then rushed in, followed by Garos and Tark. Oong worked to regain attitude control, since the cruiser had been set on a collision course with the Zanazi retreat. This was the third time in as many days that I was on a falling vehicle — first the Grand Pelgar out of control through Cattamascar’s heart, then the Ssi-ruuk vessel, and now the cruiser.

At least we’ve been able to limp away from those events so far. Oong managed to get us back into orbit, but the Black Sun virus re-emerged, threatening to take us to Nar Shaddaa, the Hutt homeworld. We had to leave.

Thayne and I grabbed a few medkits, and Garos hoped to get more useful data. Max and the others grabbed more blasters — we’ll have to see if that protocol droid can be reprogrammed. The Lucky Strike again set forth for Bakura, which we still hoped to defend from imperial grasp….

“Star Wars: Dark Times” Session 2 — Cattamascar and clones

Fellow role-players, here are Jason E.R.’s and my notes from his second “Star Wars: Dark Times” session, which Rich C.G. hosted in Waltham, Mass., on Monday, 23 September 2013:

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away — the Galactic Republic has been replaced by a ruthless empire, and the Jedi, once guardians of peace, are now hunted fugitives. In the Unknown Regions, at the edge of explored space, a few Jedi and their allies hope to survive and continue the fight for justice….

>>Player Character roster for Jason E.R.’s Star Wars: Dark Times” space opera miniseries, using Savage Worlds, autumn 2013:

  • Ekafti Acomar [Gene D.]-female human Jedi consular, older diplomat with many contacts but few remaining friends
  •  “Garolos Banku Nuruolos — Garos [Beruk A.]-male Chiss (blue-skinned humanoid) ex-Jedi, gambler and owner of the light freighter “Lucky Strike
  •  Oong Bak [Brian W.]-male Duros (gray-skinned humanoid) honorable and talented mechanic
  •  Ari Sundar [Sara F.]-female Ssi-ruuk (raptor-like reptile) military medic, outcast from a species intruding upon the galaxy
  •  Thayne Highlander [Bruce K.]-male human Jedi padawan close to knighthood, 19 years old; saw master killed by Order 66
  •  Max Power (MX-PR) [Rich C.G.]-male protocol droid with secret combat subroutine, ordered to protect Jedi (overrode Order 66)
  •  Tark Agros [Brian S.]-male Bakuran human pilot and noble, mildly delusional hotshot

“From the journals of Ekafti Acomar, 19 B.B.Y. (before the Battle of Yavin):” There are times I wish we had stayed hidden along the Shirotoku Way. However, nobody ever said that following the path of the light side of the Force would be easy.

We had agreed to check on nurse Tolovo Nathu for Bal Grainer, a Rodian bookie and contact of Garolos Banku Nuruolos, in return for a lead on a light saber up for auction. After dealing with a computer virus and stopping at G’horo, the Lucky Strike went to Cattamascar. We found the Grand Pelgar Hotel falling out of control as it passed through a tunnel through the planet.

Oong Bak managed to restore functions to the luxury hotel, saving the lives of about 500 sentients aboard. Our mechanic stayed with the ship, which had been attacked by Imperial Stormtroopers and hunter droids. Ari Sundar sniffed for more enemies.

science fiction liner
Luxury suite

Thayne Highlander and Tark Agros grabbed extra weapons from the fallen, but I suggested that we not carry them all. Protocol droid MX-PR continued to display a disconcerting interest in combat. We went to the main reception area on Deck 2, where a hotel clerk was overwhelmed with incoming messages.

I expressed sympathy and asked for help locating Tolovo. The clerk explained that the guest manifest was on a database on Bakura, but all non-Imperial computer networks had just been shut down by edict, no doubt in response to the Hutt/Black Sun virus. He recommended that we visit the promenade on Deck 4.

To search such a large area, we split up. Garos and Tark went to the exclusive Terminus restaurant, which floated high above the gardens. Ari and Thayne took one side of the promenade, and Max and I searched the other for signs of Tolovo.

Our teams could have been more effective in talking with various passengers, but we had been stuck in a small ship for months and had not practiced such information gathering. Tark and Garos climbed the light bridges and saw two droid bartenders atop a hatch in the center of the resizable platform.

As a Ssi-ruu, Ari did gain some hostile stares, especially since her reptilian kin were said to be making incursions into the Unknown Regions. Recent padawan Thayne did his best to reassure the Bakurans that she posed no threat.

I had similar difficulties with Max, given the Bakuran intolerance toward robots. Near a fountain, we overheard Coab Nev’ra and Juris Keel talking about “the droid menace.” I pretended to be a dotty old lady and learned that Nev’ra was a Verpine weapons designer and Keel a trader and engineer negotiating a research and development facility on Bakura.

Up on Terminus, Tark took up a sniper’s position to watch the people on the promenade. Garos saw Jarik Tai flirting with bored Zeltron beauty Adaha Tila. White-clad Cutter Torsin enjoyed a meal with Proddo, an Arcona. Talkative Garos introduced himself to Moross Sapan, a lone Krevaaki scholar.

Ari smelled elevated pheromones from a Gotal resting on a park bench. Despite being addled by stims, Syal Obdaris was well-dressed and said that his rooms were “too noisy.” Thayne noticed that Obdaris was heavily armed and wisely gave him a wide berth.

Our scoundrels, soldiers, or Jedi weren’t finding signs of the missing woman. Since Tolovo was a nurse, I asked the staff if the hotel had a sickbay. Max and I were referred to Deck 12, the technology level, which made sense if the Grand Pelgar wanted to be discreet about ill passengers.

We headed to a turbolift, but on the way, a red-haired woman emerged from some shrubbery. Foxdi Zess warned us that the imperials were looking for a droid and a woman. In the turbolift, droid B-1E4 introduced herself as a servant of one Princess Tethys.

Meanwhile, Garos and Tark learned that Moross Sapan was trying to get access to a Zenasi religious retreat on Cattamascar’s surface. Tark noted that he had an uncle among the Kurtzen monks.

Beast hunter Obdaris told Thayne and Ari that he was on his way to the agricultural Chandrilan colony on Kammia. They were curious about his quarters, which were on Deck 8, the penthouse. Thayne and Ari went to that level, where the Ssi-ruu smelled someone familiar.

In Terminus, Garos chatted with Tai after Tila rejected him. The recruiter of scouts for “The Brotherhood” mentioned a nurse traveling with a red-haired woman and two long-necked aliens. We were making progress, but I was worried about what Garos told me over comm link.

As expected, there were indeed Imperial troops on Deck 12, so Max and I went to rejoin the others on Deck 8. We heard animal noises from one suite — no doubt Syal Obdaris’ rooms. I warned the others to stay back as Thayne and I knocked on another door.

Foxdi Zess answered, but when Thayne rashly mentioned Bal Grainer and Tolovo Nathu, she put on a Mandalorian helmet and ordered me into the room alone. The Mandalorians were once enemies of the Jedi, and their homeworld had suffered from an attempted coup during the Clone Wars. I tried to reassure my companions as the door slid shut behind me.

Zess and two other guards in Mandalorian armor guarded a woman in a force field attended to by two Kaminoans, the long-necked beings Tai had described. The soldiers for hire had begun burning a hole into Obdaris’ suite, probably with the intention of a diversion or escape if they were pursued. I was expected.

Upon seeing Tolovo, I finally understood why the Empire would be willing to destroy the hotel to get to her. She was a younger version of me! Apparently, during the waning days of the Old Republic, someone had secretly cloned several Jedi — without our consent, I might add — as an extension of the project that created Clone Troopers.

Our medical records would have been readily available at the Jedi temple on Coruscant, and I wondered whether my “sister” had Force talents. I could not sense through the energy shield, but I knew that the Sith would be interested, as the list of fugitive Jedi we had obtained previously gained more import.

Tolovo said that she was safe enough with the finest attendants Grainer’s money could buy and that I should check on Princess Tethys Acomar before leaving. The imperials would soon be busy enough, my clone said.

I rejoined the crew of the Lucky Strike in the hallway, and we went to Deck 6. Ari’s medkit relayed a royal Ssi-ruuk distress beacon from Gymelo, where she had first encountered Thayne.

We met Princess Tethys, and while she seemed ignorant, it was apparent to any who saw both her and me that she was a younger version of me. Of greater concern was the fact that a squad of Stormtroopers lay dead at her feet, with no obvious signs of struggle.

We raced with the princess and B-1E4 to the launch bay, and Oong and Tark got us aloft. To escape the looming cruisers, Tark took us past collapsing field walls and flowing magma. The Force was with us, because we managed not to get caught between them and the Grand Pelgar hotel.

I informed Tethys that her homeworld of Chandrila had joined the empire, but she seemed oblivious to the problem. I told her that we were merely related and found that she thought the ban on Jedi was perfectly legal. Obviously, the princess had much to learn, but I had to be careful, given her (and Tolovo’s) potential power and naïveté.

I told my companions that our mission was no longer to retrieve the lightsaber of Thayne’s late master, Shin-wu Sorotai, but now to keep Bakura and its colonies out of Imperial grasp. The resources, Jedi clones, hostile factions, and cause of liberty and justice were too important for us to simply hide or leave. Garos rightly asked for a specific plan, but we’ll have to work on one together.

We experienced another fitful sleep cycle. Thayne had another dream of the girl Endolana and a dark tower. This time, she was with a friend, Aliza. When Thayne told me this, I recalled from Sai Agorn’s holocron that Aliza was the daughter of Master Djem So. Strangely, Thayne in the dream was wearing an ivory-colored military uniform with an embossed leather centipede design on his chest.

Like Endolana, the daughter of Master Ataru, her kidnapping 25,000 years ago led to a fracture in the Jedi council and the eventual adoption of monastic vows. I wasn’t sure what the visions meant, but Thayne believed they were connected to his late master, Shin-wu Sorotai.

We returned to Cattamascar’s surface and landed at the remote Zenasi retreat. Oong again stayed with the ship, and Ari kept watch over him and B-1E4. I decided to bring Tethys with me as my “daughter,” both to give her exercise and the semblance of freedom, and to keep watch over her.

Hierophant Inif Cundertol was kinsman to Tark, if not especially hospitable. Our pilot asked to leave a message for Moross Sapan, but the Krevaaki was already there! Garos had met an imposter in the subterranean hotel. Fortunately, we were able to ask the real scholar some questions about ancient Force traditions.

Master Sapan mentioned the followers of Palawa, the Chatos Academy, and the Sorcerers of Rhand. Remnants of these groups still existed in the Outer Rim. When Thayne asked about Endolana, Moross mentioned the legend of the Force avatars, beings who somehow manifested well after their natural lives in times of need or upheaval, but he did not connect them to Jedi.

I walked around the dusty retreat with Tethys and Max, while Garos and Thayne tried to see if any Kurtzen(nonhuman natives of Bakura) would be willing to oppose the Empire. The followers of the Balance were not interested in violence, which I can appreciate, even if it may doom them. We’ll have to find other Bakurans who are more sympathetic.

Oong called us back to the Lucky Strike. The two Imperial cruisers were adrift in orbit, with no attempts to launch T.I.E. fighters or hail us. I suspected that whatever or whoever had killed the squad around Princess Tethys was responsible.

Adaha Tila claimed the cruisers for salvage. I asked Garos to ask her for permission to board the warships in search of clues….

“Star Wars: Lucky Strike” Session 1 — Run to Bakura

Fellow role-players, here are Jason E.R.’s and my notes from his first “Star Wars: Dark Times” session, which Brian W. hosted in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 9 September 2013:

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away — the Galactic Republic has been replaced by a ruthless empire, and the Jedi, once guardians of peace, are now hunted fugitives. In the Unknown Regions, at the edge of explored space, a few Jedi and their allies hope to survive and continue the fight for justice….

>>Player Character roster for Jason E.R.’s Star Wars: Dark Times” space opera miniseries, using Savage Worlds, autumn 2013:

  • Ekafti Acomar [Gene D.]-female human Jedi consular, older diplomat with many contacts but few remaining friends
  •  “Garolos Banku Nuruolos — Garos [Beruk A.]-male Chiss (blue-skinned humanoid) ex-Jedi, gambler and owner of the light freighter “Lucky Strike
  •  Oong Bak [Brian W.]-male Duros (gray-skinned humanoid) honorable and talented mechanic
  •  Ari Sundar [Sara F.]-female Ssi-ruuk (raptor-like reptile) military medic, outcast from a species intruding upon the galaxy
  •  Thayne Highlander [Bruce K.]-male human Jedi padawan close to knighthood, 19 years old; saw master killed by Order 66
  •  Max Power (MX-PR) [Rich C.G.]-male protocol droid with secret combat subroutine, ordered to protect Jedi (overrode Order 66)
  •  Tark Agros [Brian S.]-male Bakuran human pilot and noble, mildly delusional hotshot

>>”From the journals of Ekafti Acomar, 19 B.B.Y. (before the Battle of Yavin):” It is hard to believe that a standard year has already passed since Palpatine’s new order cast a shadow over the galaxy. We have spent months hiding along the Shirotoku Way, a remote hyperspace lane.

I should first properly introduce my shipmates. I, Jedi consular Ekafti Acomar, was assigned to a diplomatic mission in the Bakura Sector on the Outer Rim. When Order 66 was given, outlawing all Jedi, my Clone Trooper escort turned on me. Protocol droid MX-PR and I were lucky to gain the assistance of Tark Agros, a local aristocrat and pilot.

Meanwhile, as I understand it, gambler and ex-Jedi Garolos Banku Nuroulos won a light freighter in a sabacc game. The Lucky Strike came with Duros mechanic Oong Bak. Garos found “Max” and me by our encoded Jedi distress call.

A similar signal led us to Thayne Highlander, a recent padawan whose master was killed because of Order 66. They had been fighting an early incursion of the reptilian Ssi-ruuk, but medic Ari Sundar changed sides and helped Thayne to safety. Tark rescued them from Bakura.

After skulking from one minor spaceport to another for some time, we were surprised when Chiss Garos got a message from Bal Grainer, a Rodian bookie. He said that he had learned of a light saber selling for 100,000 credits on the black market.

That was more than we could afford, but the weapon had belonged to Shin-wu Sorotai, Thayne’s former mentor. Bal said that he would help us get to the light saber if Garos would check on Tolovo Nathu, his nurse, whom he suspected of mischief. We couldn’t argue scruples, so we agreed.

After a year of little contact with the outside universe, we were just as surprised when Toootu Anga, a Durosian dancer and Oong’s mother, contacted our mechanic to inform him of her betrothal to Kass Tani. I had worked with Tani, who had opposed Nemoidian separatists during the Clone Wars. The “Daar-Daar” ritual was to take place on Duros in several months.

We followed Bal’s directions toward the Kuari Princess, a Mon Calamari-built luxury liner that Tolovo had boarded. Unfortunately, Max began describing himself as being created by the Black Sun criminal syndicate, and his malfunction endangered all of us.

Power fluctuations in the Lucky Strike forced us to land on G’hro, a forested world hosting a Chandrilan mining and farming colony. Tark demonstrated his piloting skills, while Oong tried to figure out what was wrong. We went to Boku, a town coated in red ore dust.

There were atmospheric craft (Conjo Fighters) on the airstrip, but relatively few inhabitants. Oong stayed with the freighter, guarded by Ari. The rest of us headed to the local cantina, which had more droids than people, unlike Bakura, where intolerance of droids is high.

On the way, Thayne spotted a platoon of Imperial Stormtroopers. Apparently, Chandrila had joined the empire, most likely under coercion. We ducked into the bar and tensely waited for the armored soldiers to pass.

I had helped Oong negotiate for an antivirus packet, but we were unable to honor our deal because of a hasty retreat. At least the packet cleared our ship. We lost contact with the local flight control as we took off, and new T.I.E. fighters soon took up pursuit.

Oong reconnected the astrogation computer in time for us to jump toward Bakura. He also quarantined the droid recharge port and debugged MX-PR. It seemed that the virus in our droid and ship used both Jedi and Black Sun code. It was intended to force us to go to Nar Shadda, the Hutt homeworld, no doubt for nefarious ends.

We spent a restless night in hyperspace. Garos claimed that he stole blankets from me, and Thayne disclosed that he dreamt of a beach, a dark tower, and a girl asking for Shin-wu. In the Jedi’s dream, the girl identified herself as Endolana.

I recalled that name from Sar Agorn’s holocron. Endolana was the daughter of Jedi Master Ataru 25,000 years ago. Her kidnapping was the reason for the Jedi vow of celibacy. It is strange that, even as our order faces extinction, events from millennia past resurface.

We arrived at Bakura, only to find that the Kuari Princess had been diverted to Cattamascar, home of the Grand Pelgar Hotel and a Bakuran religious retreat. We went there and found a desert sphere with a tunnel leading directly through it. A strange hotel was using repulsorlifts to pass through the planet for sightseeing, but something was wrong.

Total Recall elevator
The Grand Pelgar Hotel

Oong reported that the elevator resort was suffering from the same power fluctuations that we had seen. The Lucky Strike headed to the tunnel when we were overtaken by a smaller vehicle. It was being followed by an Imperial cruiser, so we also accelerated.

I tapped the power of the Force and shared Battle Mind with Tark to blast our way into a hangar. Three combat droids exited the smaller craft, and they drew what at first looked like red light sabers. I sent Oong and Ari to try to restart the falling hotel’s systems.

Thayne and I ignited our light sabers (blue and green, respectively?). Max jumped into the fight with a grenade launcher. He might have been fixed, but he was still acting like no protocol droid I’ve ever seen. Tark drew blaster pistols and ducked behind our ship.

I damaged one of the battle droids, and Thayne advanced on the other. Ari killed a Stormtrooper, the first of an eight-man squad approaching. Tark shot my opponents, and Garos grabbed the fallen droids’ weapons, which turned out to be stun batons rather than light sabers.

Max blasted the last droid, and Thayne managed to shrug off the effects of one of the batons. Garos ran to the droids’ ship and grabbed its computer core, which we later learned had avoided infection by the Black Sun/Hutt virus. It also contained a list of Jedi being hunted, including us.

Oong successfully restarted critical systems, so the 500 passengers were saved. He and Ari then evaded the five remaining Stormtroopers, who shot at me. I barely parried with my plasma blade. I do need more practice.

Tark killed two more Stormtroopers, and Thayne leapt to Garos’ aid. Ari and Oong offered to stay with the Lucky Strike. Rather than wait for more to arrive, we had to head deeper into the hotel to find Tolovo Nathu….

May the Force be with us — always….

“Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” Session 8 — Fighting to get home

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for Session 8, Jason E.R.‘s last planetary romance game (for now), which Brian W. hosted in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 20 May 2013:

Player Character roster for Jason E.R.’s “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” (Tē-sis ē Bâr-süm) pulp miniseries, usingSavage Worlds,” as of spring 2013:

  • Sgt. Joe ‘Knack’ Kanaki” [Gene D.]-male Nisei Jasoomian (Japanese-American Terran human) tail gunner; two-fisted patriot who’s smarter than he looks
  • Beauregard ‘Bo’ Jennings” [Beruk A.]-male African-American Jasoomian, USO trumpet player, expatriate (NYC), former professional boxer and member of the French Foreign Legion
  • Kar Dalan (Kâr Dé-lan)” [Brian W.]-male aysismad (red Martian), an independent panthan (sellsword/scout) currently serving the nation of Raxar (Rax-âr)
  • Olera Gala” [Sara F.]-female Barsoomian masena (Thurian/Martian), one-eyed feline hunter and scout
  • Capt. Billy ‘Rip’ Rohrer” [Bruce K.]-male American Jasoomian pilot of the “Lucy Goosey,” a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber
  • Betsy ‘Blaze’ Harper” [Rich C.G.]-female American Jasoomian, fiery redhead, former Olympic hopeful, and aspiring actress on USO tour for exposure and patriotic duty, along with Carla Rizena and Lucy McIntyre

From the correspondence of Joseph Kanaki, 18 March 1943:” Dear Mother, things had gone from bad to worse for the crew and passengers of the “Lucy Goosey.” Not only were we stranded on Barsoom, which author Edgar Rice Burroughs had identified as the planet Mars, but we had also gone back 1 million years in our hunt for mad scientist Zylor Bar [Zī-lōr Bâr], also known as Thuran Gan.

Zylor Bar had kidnapped U.S.O. entertainer Lucy McIntyre and Kal Kirad [Kal Kē-Rad], a Lotharian jedwar [ĵed-dwr, or admiral]. We took harnesses from insectoid magongi [ma-gân-gē] at the Tasor (Té-zōr, “sun tower” or lighthouse) in the city-state of Horz [Ōr-is] and used them to teleport to the Morbus Island.

Unfortunately, we got a hostile reception from Zylor Bar’s guards, and only Jasoomians [Ĵâ-süm; Earth folk] Capt. William “Rip” Rohrer, Betsy “Blaze” Harper, and I remained free. We had gotten off the tower at the island’s summit, thanks to a pterodactyl-like Gwar [gwr], but our landing in the jungle wasn’t very gentle.

Whelan's Barsoom
Michael Wheelan’s Barsoom

 

Meanwhile — as we later learned — our friends were being held in a dungeon. Onetime boxer Beauregard “Bo” Jennings struggled get one arm free of his manacles, while scout Kar Dalan sized up the opposition.

Feline masenas [mâ-sēn-â] Olera Gala and “Blinky” were rendered unconscious by Le Um Lo [Lē Üm Lō], the aged “embalmer” also kidnapped from Horz. Our Barsoomian allies, Van-tija [Van-tē -ĵâ] and Kal Kirad, were also captives.

After some debate, Rip, Blaze, and I decided to teleport back to the Tasor in Horz for reinforcements. We had two spare harnesses with small crystals taken from darseen, chameleon-like animals similar to the masena. The captain and the Amazonian athlete hoped to get soldiers, but we didn’t know whom we could trust.

Instead, we ran to the academy of biologist Ro Tan Bim [Rō Tan Bim]. I was uncomfortable with his eugenics experiments, which included creating a race of “First Born” from Bo’s blood sample, but the orovar [ōr-ō-vâr, or scientist] tried to be helpful.

Ro Tan Bim took us to mentalist Lum Tar O [Lüm Târ Ō], who could help us locate our friends. This geezer claimed he could summon an army whenever we needed it, but we just thought he was crazy. He wanted to examine red man Kar Dalan’s “ordered mind” in return for his aid.

We used the harnesses to return to the tower on Morbus Island, but our foes appeared to be bugging out. We encountered few guards, and as we descended the ramp, we found that our companions had broken free.

Bo had grabbed and smashed a guard, and Rip had attacked the sentry watching Le Um Lo. The old man was happy to be reunited with colleagues Ro Tan Bim and Lum Tar O.

We were distressed to learn that “Blinky” had been beheaded. Olera admitted that the seenar [sēn-âr], the rare stone that powered Zylor Bar’s teleportation and time-travel devices, came from masenas. No wonder the darseen organs powered his guards’ harnesses!

Most of their activity seemed to be down by the harbor village, but Lum Tar O sensed that Zylor Bar himself was teleporting between the astronomical observatory and the “Dusar” [Dü-zâr, or “northern fish”], a ship with anachronistic Barsoomian technology.

Since we had a limited number of harnesses, Kar and Blaze made for a rookery to seize another Gwar. Capt. Rohrer and I took point to guard the scientists. Olera turned invisible, and Bo and Van-tija followed as we made hops to the observatory. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Kal Kirad wandered off.

Blaze and Kar Dalan defeated two Thermad [ŧür-mad] sentries and decided to share a flying steed. The white Martians were the ancestors of the Therns [ŧür-en], who in our time were a hidden minority in comparison with the four-armed, green Tharks or strangely attractive red Barsoomians.

My squad arrived at the observatory, where the main telescope was trained on Thuria, Olera’s home moon. Van-tija explained that travel between Barsoom and Thuria involved “dimensional compression” and that even if the Dusar could fly, it could not get there without compensating for mass.

Parts of the rotating telescope were missing, and we saw no sign of Zylor Bar. We decided to head down to the harbor, no doubt confusing Blaze and Kar, who watched us from the sky. I called in our marker with the orovar. Ro Tan Bim began meditating, and Lum Tar O created an army of 50 shadowy archers through astral projection to give us some cover.

Kar Dalan directed his and Blaze’s Gwar into the Dusar‘s mainsail, as the rest of us raced to the ship. Rip dodged a blow and killed one of Thuran Gan’s goons. I was not so lucky, and I got stunned.

Bo bobbed and weaved his way across the docks, even as Lum Tar O warned us that Zylor Bar was still jaunting between the ships and the observatory. Ro Tan Bim successfully summoned a silian [sil-ē-an], a huge sea monster that destroyed the Therns’ smaller vessels.

Olera recognized Hor Kai Lan [Ōr Kī Lan], the jedwar or warlord who had betrayed Horz by worshipping the false goddess Issus (our own Lucy, as set up by Zylor Bar). His brother Kam Han Tor [Kam An Tōr], the prince who designed the Dusar, was also on the island.

Bo grabbed me and pulled me onto the Dusar, even as the silian approached. The behemoth was distracted by the Gwars, including the one ridden by Kar and Blaze. Rip and Olera found the Dusar‘s staterooms empty, and the ship began splitting in half!

Zylor Bar had Lucy and was piloting a large modern Barsoomian flyer or teezar [tē-zâr] from the hold, even as the silian crashed into the Dusar. Bo hit my harness so that I could join Van-tija ashore. The brave boxer then climbed onto the teezar, toward a hatch, as Rip landed on its cockpit.

The silian clipped the flyer, and Zylor Bar took a seenar and Lucy and teleported out. Rip took a gamble and let go, falling away from the teezar and then teleporting into the pilot’s seat. Go, Cap’n!

Olera, Van-tija, Kal Kirad, and I ran toward a large hangar, where we heard another vehicle firing up. Kar and Blaze managed to get back to the ground, while Bo and Rip also evaded the silian and came about toward the hangar.

We found another flyer, apparently designed to travel to Thuria. One-eyed Olera raced ahead, still furious about “Blinky’s” demise. Kal Kirad and I drew swords and followed. Olera pounced on Zylor Bar, and they both teleported away.

Kal made sure that Lucy was OK, and I grabbed the seenar. We followed Olera and Zylor back to the observatory, where the masena had pinned the Thern with her claws. I ordered Zylor to surrender, but Kal skewered the mad scientist.

While I would have preferred to get Zylor Bar’s help to get back to Earth in our own time, I can’t say I was broken up by his slaying. Kal Kirad sealed his reputation as the greatest swordsman of his time, and we had stopped the menace from Morbus.

Kar Dalan observed that Van-tija and the three orovar had disappeared, and we guessed that they went to Thuria to begin the populating of that moon, as well as the creation of some of Barsoom’s later races.

Lucy announced her intention to stay with Kal Kirad, with whom she had fallen in love. Rip asked her to leave us the clues in the mines near Raxar to help restore the timeline. We could use the seenar to travel through time or space, but since we didn’t know how to get to Earth, getting back to the 20th century would have to do.

Bo, Kar, Olera, Rip, Blaze, and I activated the seenar. We voyaged back to Raxar in our own time. Only three months had passed, and the red wastes of Mars were as we had left them. The “Lucy Goosey” had even been fixed! However, the gem was burned out, and we still have to find a way home.

We returned to the mines, where this time, we found a projection of Lucy and Kal Kirad. She said they had found a way to duplicate technology to tap into the Tenth Ray of Mars. They and Carla Rizena had found the secret of longevity and a way to get to Africa [see “She: A History of Adventure“]. Lucy said she hoped to see us again.

In the vault, we also found a burned-out cluster of darseen crystals in place of a seenar. My friends and I have now fought battles across worlds and eons and lived, so I guess we can wait a little longer to get back to the war in Europe….

Jason, I enjoyed your miniseries, and I look forward to whatever you might run later this year! Our face-to-face groups are about to begin a series of one-shots alternating with my “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” fantasy campaign on Monday nights through the summer. Be seeing you….

“Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” Session 7 — Taking the fight to the enemy

Fellow role-players, here are Jason’s and my notes for Session 7 of his pulp science fiction game, which Brian W. hosted in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 6 May 2013:

>>Player Character roster for Jason E.R.’s “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” (Tē-sis ē Bâr-süm) planetary romance miniseries, usingSavage Worlds,” as of spring 2013:

  • Sgt. Joe ‘Knack’ Kanaki” [Gene D.]-male Nisei Jasoomian (Japanese-American Terran human) tail gunner; two-fisted patriot who’s smarter than he looks
  • Beauregard ‘Bo’ Jennings” [Beruk A.]-male African-American Jasoomian, USO trumpet player, expatriate (NYC), former professional boxer and member of the French Foreign Legion
  • Kar Dalan (Kâr Dé-lan)” [Brian W.]-male aysismad (red Martian), an independent panthan (sellsword/scout) currently serving the nation of Raxar (Rax-âr)
  • Olera Gala” [Sara F.]-female Barsoomian masena (Thurian/Martian), one-eyed feline hunter and scout
  • Capt. Billy ‘Rip’ Rohrer” [Bruce K.]-male American Jasoomian pilot of the “Lucy Goosey,” a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber
  • Betsy ‘Blaze’ Harper” [Rich C.G.]-female American Jasoomian, fiery redhead, former Olympic hopeful, and aspiring actress on USO tour for exposure and patriotic duty, along with Carla Rizena and Lucy McIntyre
Barsoomian beasts
Creatures of Barsoom

>>”From the correspondence of Joseph Kanaki, 16 January 1943:” Dear Mother, I’m not sure if being at our wits’ end or being overwhelmed and split up is worse. Let me take a deep breath and step back for a moment.

We had pursued U.S.O. entertainer Lucy McIntyre and her kidnapper, mad scientist Zylor Bar (Zī-l&# 333;r Bâr, also known as Thuran Gan), into Barsoom of about 1 million years ago, when Mars wasn’t the dying world the crew and passengers of the “Lucy Goosey” had first found ourselves on. Instead, we found a lush planet with yet more intrigue.

We had followed pilgrims worshipping the false goddess Issus — Zylor Bar’s plan for Lucy — to the city-state of Horz, which was populated by white Martians or Thermad [ŧür-mad].

Shortly after the wedding of jeddak (king) No Var Kim [Nō Vōr Kim] to Lotharian princess Sohna, we had circulated a rumor about a seenar, a rare gem used to power Zylor Bar’s time machine and our only way back home to Earth.

Unfortunately, that resulted in the capture of Kal Kirad [Kal Kē-Rad], a red-haired Lotharian jedwar [ĵed-dwr, or admiral] and friend of Kam Han Tor [Kam An Tōr], a prince whom we knew was a secret follower of Issus. Our masena scout Olera Gala determined that predatory magongi [ma-gân-gē], likely trained by Zylor Bar, had taken him.

That meant he was somewhere nearby. Capt. William “Rip” Rohrer and scout Kar Dalan went to the academy of mentalist Lum Tar O [Lüm Târ Ō]. They later reported seeing strange things such as acolytes staring at bowls of fruit and creating replicas that lasted only a short time before vanishing.

The senior orovar [ōr-ō-vâr], or scholars of Horz, reassured Rip and Kar that he was not in league with the superstitious followers of Issus or Zylor Bar. Lim Tar O also said that he could not detect any trace of Kal Kirad’s mind in the city.

Beauregard “Bo” Jennings and I visited the academy of biologist Ro Tan Bim [Rō Tan Bim] to learn more about the magongi. We followed a ramp down to a secret laboratory, where we saw skinless humanoids being grown in vats!

Ro Tan Bim was surprised to see us, and we managed to conceal our disgust. We’ve heard that the Nazis are also pursuing eugenics, and Bo and I would have no place in such plans.

The scientist — I’m beginning to think they’re all mad — happily told us of his plans for artificial life, or the “First Born,” which we realized were the later Barsoomian race and derived from his samples of Bo’s blood.

We had to pick our battles, so Bo asked Ro Tan Bim about the magongi. He said they were arboreal, insect-like creatures organized into clans — similar to the Kaldane who bred the skeletal Rykors. Apparently, these beasts liked to hunt humans and darseen, small chameleon-like animals like the masena.

Ro Tan Bim noted that the nocturnal magongi were indigenous to Morbus Island, about two weeks’ sail across the Kalksus [Kal-ix-is] and Throxus [Ŧür-âx-is] oceans. I knew that the Dusar [Dü-zâr, or “northern fish”], an advanced ship whose design Zylor Bar had influenced so that he could later steal it, would somehow be involved.

The naturalists used to send students to the islands’ five settlements for one-year stints, but shipping had recently been disrupted. We made a hasty retreat and regrouped with our companions.

None of us wanted to visit “the Embalmer,” Le Um Lo [Lē Üm Lō] yet, so we’d have to do more detective work closer to Horz. At my recommendation, one-eyed Olera tracked the magongi. Their scent led us to the Tasor (Té-zōr, “sun tower” or lighthouse).

We quietly climbed the long ramp. Betsy “Blaze” Harper and Bo readied their guns as Rip and I crept among 14 sleeping magongi. Olera went invisible, and red-skinned Kar drew his blade.

It was only a matter of time before some woke up, and we noticed that the magongi were wearing “modern” Barsoomian harnesses with small crystals similar to the seenar. With his Jasoomian (Earthling) strength, Bo snapped the neck of one foe, as I pinned another with a sword.

Amazonian Blaze shot another magongi, shaking it, and Kar swiftly skewered another. The creatures attacked Rip and me, and two teleported away using their harnesses. Fortunately, Rip was able to hold off the oncoming horde.

Olera experimented with the buttons on the harness of a fallen magongi as I tried to get my head back in the game. Blaze dropped another, and Bo smashed one of the goon’s heads into a wall. Olera used her claws, and Kar maneuvered.

Blaze showed off her marksmanship, picking off two of our opponents, and Rip and I dropped two more. Before the survivors could regroup, we grabbed the harnesses from some of the corpses and pushed buttons in unison.

We found ourselves at the bottom of the ramp, but Van-tija [Van-tē -ĵâ], a dark-skinned “First Born,” and mutated masena “Blinky” were gone from where we had left them to keep watch. We tried pressing more buttons and teleported to a tower atop a mountain in the middle of some ocean!

Two pterodactyls, which Kar called malagor [mal-â-gōr] but were known at this time as “Gwar” [gwr], stood in front of us. Each had an armed Thern, or White Martian, rider, and more armored soldiers approached. Bo tried jumping over the bird-like monster, but it grabbed him in its massive beak.

The other rider spurred his mount to take off, and Kar used his harness to teleport in front of the guards. He wasn’t too happy when they hit him with numbing staffs. Blaze followed Rip’s lead and yelled that we should try to get control of a Gar.

I leaped into the saddle of the one holding Bo and exchanged punches with its rider. Olera also jumped in to help, and the beast released Bo. Blaze shot one Thern, but another grabbed Olera, paralyzing her.

Things went from bad to worse, as two mooks stunned Bo, and Rip got hit after killing just one of an approaching army. Kar finished off another guard with his sword and slayed one of the Gwar riders or Gwarthans [gwr-ŧan].

Blaze joined me in the saddle and finished off the rider. I told her to take control of the reins as we tried to rescue Rip, who was now surrounded by Thern troops. We swung around, and I saw that Bo, Olera, Kar, Van-tija, and Blinky were being taken away.

We were over a forested island; I could make out an observatory and the Dusar in port, so we were somehow at Morbus Island. It was tantalizing and frustrating to be so close to Zylor Bar’s stronghold and so far from defeating him and returning home.

The extra weight forced Blaze to drop me and Rip in the trees. We three Jasoomians were still free, but most of our company had been captured. We weren’t sure whether we should try to sneak into the enemy camp to rescue our friends or teleport back to Horz for reinforcements first….