Back to the Frontier - after a gap of 25+ years

KRingway's picture
KRingway
June 20, 2015 - 9:12am
So, I've started running SF again with my RPG group. I say 'again' as all but one of the players had played SF with me right from the first session back in 1983, but we'd not played SF since 1990. This was due to the fact that as we got to a certain age (our late teens/early 20s), we drifted off into having jobs and I moved 150 miles away to London. Nowadays we're all back in the same locality. Despite the fact that we now all own copies of Alpha Dawn and Zeb's Guide, we were all surprisingly rusty WRT remembering rules and similar things. As we actually like both AD and ZG, we're playing a version of SF that uses bits of both, but running all skills and dice-related stuff using AD's percentile system. It does actually work quite well, and after two sessions we're really getting back into it. I'm the referee and there are four players. We have a human medic, a human explorer, a Yazirian enforcer, and an Ifshnit techex. Sorry, no-one wanted to be a dralasite! At the moment all are starting characters with a few extra skills to round them out, and they're just out of a CDC training facility as lowly 'apprentices'.

Despite thinking that they might not have much to do, they were assigned to work as a roaming security patrol for CDC facilities dotted around the city of Buckerton (on Madderlys Star). To cut a long story short, they disturbed a robbery of a CDC bullion storehouse being carried out by self-destructing robots and their Yazirian handler (but he mamaged to escape in an aircar, despite one of the players ramming it with a van as it was taking off!). This in turn seems to be linked to the death of a Vrusk computing student at a CDC college (who appears to have had a secret drug-related life), and then led them to a members-only secret club whose clientele seems to be the local MerCo workforce. Here they ran into the Yazirian they saw at the robbery and he immediately shouted 'Cops!' at the top of his voice, which led to the club erupting into everyone there trying to escape as quickly as possible. After a bit of fighting and having to deal with chasing the Yazirian and several other suspects to the top of the building, they embarked on a quite mad aircar race across town trying to chase them down. This despite the fact that the baddies used several small spherical flying robots to try and finish them off as the flew across Buckerton to the spaceport. There they've seen that the baddies have a ship and they're just about to see if they can do anything to stop it taking off... 
Comments:

jedion357's picture
jedion357
June 20, 2015 - 12:23pm
Sounds like your back in the saddle again, just don't fall off the robo-horse.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

KRingway's picture
KRingway
June 20, 2015 - 12:53pm
The funny thing is that, when we need to know one rule or stat or something, we collectively can't remember exact details but still have a vague recollection where they might be in AD or ZG Laughing And on other occasions we've forgotten certain details and are the surprised by what we see when we look them up. The top speed of an aircar, for example - those things are fast! Surprised

As I was writing up the plan and details of the adventure, I had a few ideas that I'm surprised hadn't occured to me before. For example, I only recently came up with the idea that aircars can't just land on any roof. Unless it has an electronic handshake the roof recognises, the aircar's controls are overriden and the vehicle is steered away from the building. In this way, buildings can have a restricted airspace around them, if need be.

jedion357's picture
jedion357
June 20, 2015 - 3:11pm
I like the idea of the electric handshake- its a reasonable security feature. One requiring the computer tech in the party to hack a computer to get the handshake code or the purchase of one from a fence before you could pull a clandestine landing someplace you were not suppose to. 
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

KRingway's picture
KRingway
June 20, 2015 - 4:04pm
My players found that they couldn't land on the building where the club was situated. As they chased the baddies aircar almost as far as the spaceport, once they flew near the open bay where the ship was standing the 'ports airspace security kicked in and steered their aircar away. Meanwhile, the baddies flew on and gained access to the hatch on the topmost part of the bay's perimeter wall. Foiled! But - they have landed and managed to crack the security door to the bay, so are just about to sneak in.

Tchklinxa's picture
Tchklinxa
June 20, 2015 - 8:26pm
KRingway I like the elecrtonic hand shake idea too. 
"Zoinks!"

bossmoss's picture
bossmoss
June 20, 2015 - 11:45pm
Nice to be back isn't it?  Enjoy.

KRingway's picture
KRingway
June 21, 2015 - 1:44am
I think the handshake could be defeated, but I don't think you could buy the code from a fence. Well, not unless the buildings owner was remarkably lax with keeping that sort of security zipped up (equivalent to somehow giving away your ATM PIN number). Or, it may be that the handshake changes every day and only those aircars with landing permissions get that automatically updated. In short, you may be better off just trying to steal an aircar owned by someone who has access Wink  You'd just have to hope that the building doesn't already know that the aircar has been stolen.

My players pondered trying a hack but soon dismissed the idea as they realised that their limited skill levels probably wouldn't be enough!

Tchklinxa's picture
Tchklinxa
June 21, 2015 - 7:31am
Well security is only as good as people using it... for instance my work we have a door code to enter the building during hours for employees, however the code has never been changed in all the years I have worked there, people have been fired, or quit, even after it was discovered some idiot employees gave the code to friends & family, did it get changed? No. Money mouth 

So applying RL to SF you will have buildings with very good on top of it security, rotating codes daily, weekly, or monthly, others might never change the code, and still some buildings might have the capability to close down their airspace but don't bother to do it at all... 

Seriously thinking of some RL things I observe daily or wonder about daily:

Example: Id system to help ensure right people are boarding (for my safety & their safety), being delivered to correct address (for their safety), and mileage tracked & computed (go green and make us more efficient & profitable).

 I am surrounded by really great tech stuff that works, would make my life easier tech, has been put into all our vehicles tech, but has been sitting unused now for 2 years! 'Cause no one will agree on how to do the ID cards for the passengers that make it possible to ID them, scan them as on board or off board and make tracking their mileage for billing purposes easier... versus me fumble around and trying to remember to write mileage down for person X versus person Y and hold up traffic and keep papers from flying around and so on, plus give me a photo ID for each passenger...  but 2 years in it is still not being used at all. 2 years going on 3 and no passenger passes yet. Yell I did finally get pictures on my paper route for about 1/4 of my passengers. That is an improvement over no photos.  In some cases passengers riding the same bus have same first & last names, & no you can not rely on them to know where their stop is! Photo ID is your friend in such cases. 

So you can have all the tech on the planet, but if the people in charge won't let you use it, or you refuse to use it 'cause your an idiot and don't think you need that security protocol (I have seen this a lot) the tech becomes pointless. Undecided

So just some thoughts, some buildings are bound to be run by idiots like my job is run by idiots. Believe me I face palm daily, I have worked here for years and still they manage to baffle me.

I really like the idea and I am ripping it off! Foot in mouth 


"Zoinks!"

KRingway's picture
KRingway
June 21, 2015 - 8:57am
Yep, some buildings might have outdated security and thus allow players easier access via aircar. Or potentially have their building's airspace system more hackable.

iggy's picture
iggy
June 21, 2015 - 12:15pm
I also like the landing codes for roof tops.  However I  would think that some public authorities like police or especially  fire and medical emergency teams would be able to use emergency codes to land.
-iggy

Tchklinxa's picture
Tchklinxa
June 21, 2015 - 12:25pm
Okay sure, in RL usually there is some way for 911 to get in, sometimes other less important entities too, garbage collection, water districts, utility guys and even school buses. 
"Zoinks!"

KRingway's picture
KRingway
June 21, 2015 - 12:53pm
Yep, I imagine various authorities have a skeleton key code.

bossmoss's picture
bossmoss
June 21, 2015 - 2:38pm
Hmm... good point.  A skeleton key code is all the players would need.

Tchklinxa's picture
Tchklinxa
June 21, 2015 - 3:09pm
Yep and I bet they could get it for the right price of course Wink
"Zoinks!"

KRingway's picture
KRingway
August 6, 2015 - 3:39am
The game continues to go quite well. The guys didn't have any real chance of stopping the ship taking off, especially after whoever was inside had released a few small robots for them to deal with.

They're not really any the wiser to what's going on at the moment. They do have a few suspicions, but haven't lined everything up just yet. They did manage to capture one of the suspected baddies at the bar, after riddling him with drugged needler rounds. So far he's not really saying anything but they have established that he's ex-RiskCo, but has no prior convictions. The ship that escaped is registered to the owner of the club they visited, but he also has a clean record and is regarded as a clean-cut local entrepreneur.

In the last session, most of the time was spent involved in a high-speed pursuit. Having given the Vrusk barmaid at the aforementioned club his contact card, one of the players later recieved a call from her. Well, a call of sorts. It seemed that she was inside a moving ground car, but was trying to avoid being run off the road as she was making the call. After quickly giving her location, the call ended. The players flew out in their trusty aircar, and found that 3 guys on hoverbikes were chasing her down a local freeway and seemed keen on making her pull over. As they couldn't get the aircar below a certain height over the road (thanks to the previously discussed aircar-proof restraints), they had to try and figure out some other approaches. This is where tangler grenades came in useful, although their skill in throwing them led to mostly misses. That said, one miss on one pursuer did actually hit another one! They then managed to make one baddie lose control and slew off into the crash barrier, then knocked out the engine of another and managed to grab him as he fled on foot down an embankment. They convinced him to stop by knocking him over with the aircar's downwash Wink

So, at the end of the last session, they found out that the pursuers were actually bouncers from the club. As yet they've not had the chance to talk to them as they're in police custody. The vrusk that they rescued seemed to be acting very hyper and, back at their CDC compoud, they've established that she's taken some sort of stimulant. Their vrusk boss does not approve at all! However, they're planning on talking to her more and also visting her apartment to see if it turns up any clues...

KRingway's picture
KRingway
August 12, 2015 - 9:32am
Here's the aforementioned ship that got away:



It has a laser battery (the tower-like thing on the upper part) and a reflective hull. In the last session they followed several clues which led to their tracking down of the ship to an asteroid. Some cautious exploring (and some good dice rolls to overcome the various security hurdles) revealed the ship to be empty apart from the bodies of two dralasites and some containers with unused robots inside. They're hoping that they might 'acquire' the ship as 'salvage' - despite the fact that ship is not floating free (as per KH rules) and having been deliberately hidden away from prying eyes and sensors... Wink

KRingway's picture
KRingway
October 5, 2015 - 2:42am
Things are still going well in our game. We still have occasions where we have to look up rules and then houserule things on the fly when we're not sure. For example, in the most recent play session, one of the players wanted to wrestle an anthropomorphic robot to the ground before it could draw a weapon as it emerged from a vehicle. None of us could remember this happening before so we had to try and figure out what the rules for this might be.

One event of note was their use of a shuttle (the shuttle is based on my new rules for ship drives as described here: http://www.starfrontiers.us/node/8597). The players have ended up getting a shuttle to Outer Reach, where they're hiding with a bunch of miners and prospectors in an old facility. 10km away there's another more developed facility that seems to be the base of some sort of operation by the Malthar. Various robot scouts have come from there doing recon on the player's base, and then a small robot assault force made an attack. The players decided to take the fight to them as their shuttle is armed with a turreted Ke-5000 (as described here: http://www.starfrontiers.us/node/8797). However, as it was sometimes difficult to fire it, the shuttle pilot decided to try a stunt move whereby he want to fly low enough to crush a section of attacking robots. Although wildly difficult, he managed to do this successfully and there was an impressive cooped out area of snow, full of trashed robot remains Laughing

KRingway's picture
KRingway
February 15, 2016 - 8:04am
So, we finished the adventure in our most recent session (Friday night). That ending was suitably dramatic (escaping from a mining facility on Outer Reach before the Malthar crashed an empty shuttle into it from orbit), after managing to nab at least one of the baddies they'd been after since the beginning of the adventure. This was part of a final battle at the facility between the players and their NPC good guy NPCs (miners) and a bunch of armed goons sent by the Malthar. Despite a few amusing failed rolls with tanglers they managed to survive pretty much intact.

Said baddies were atop a tower at the facility and were trying to escape on flitboards. Thanks to some good shooting by the team's combat skill-lacking medic and backed up by a more able player, they managed to shoot down both flitboards. One baddie didn't survive the crash but they managed to pick up the other before they made their escape.

Playing the game after a gap of so many years wasn't too much of a problem. Most of the time we remembered various rules etc but once in a while we had to home rule or check Alpha Dawn or Zeb's Guide for various details.

I imagine that if we get the chance we'll play again. After all, the players have now made an enemy of the Malthar, and who knows where that may lead... Wink