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Old 01-15-2019, 08:02 PM   #391
tshiggins
 
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Default Re: Campaign: Facets

(...continued)

The Groeningen starting the festivities with some ranging shots that didn’t do much damage to the Scythe Trees, but startled some of the scavengers swirling around them. Capt. van Hoek waited for the large predators to get within 500 yard before firing again, and some initial hits drove the scavengers into a frenzy.

Some the those at the outer edge of the cloud began to arrow toward the three airships, and Claudia saw the upper deck of the Groeningen suddenly get engulfed in a cloud of bright red smoke. Not sure what that meant, she called Steven’s attention to it.

The former Marine told her someone on the slender airship clearly knew his business. Steven said the vessel’s crew had popped some chemical smoke grenades that would likely dissuade the scavengers from getting close.

Right about then, the first wave arrived and began to swoop around and seek prey. A flock of about 40 headed for the Paradise, and things got hectic.

The notion of shrouding the decks with wooden lattices proved well-considered. The defenders managed to get shots off as the flock approached, and then get another as the survivors of the first volley landed on the lattice-work and began to squirm through.

The blasts did some damage to the sturdy trellis-work, but since the group had mostly loaded birdshot, it wasn’t all that much. What came fluttering through from outside were birds about the size of crows, with blood-red feathers, barbed beaks and clawed “fingers” at the anterior wing-joints.

Frank and Doc Bascher, armed as they were with pump-action 12-guage shotguns loaded with bird-shot, managed to clear their side of the gondola before as the last of the birds wriggled through.

However, Beatrice and Henrietta had a tougher time of it. The two ladies got off blasts with Brown Bess muskets, but the remainder of the swarms landed on the trellis before they could change weapons.

That forced them to resort to pistols and, when the birds leapt on them, hand-to-hand combat. Still, they managed to get rid of the first wave just in time for the larger second wave to come at them.

Realizing they were in some trouble, Beatrice shouted for A.J. to let Grunt out on deck with them, to help crush the fragile (but sharp and pointy) creatures. A.J., who had originally let the dog downstairs to help Aurelia and Jimmy, called Grunt back up and managed to get him outside and get the door slammed shut as the next mass of birds winged in.

That wave included more than 50 avians, and not even Doc Bascher and Frank could keep them all out. Up in the front, Beatrice, Grunt and Henrietta got swamped.

Once the birds made it through the lattice, they immediately fluttered up to land on the targets and try to spear them with barbed beaks. The attacking scavengers were small and agile enough they had no trouble attacking areas not covered by the ballistic vests.

Henrietta got swarmed badly, and wound up with multiple puncture wounds, through which the birds began to drain out her blood (yeah, Stirges). At one point, Henrietta was so badly wounded she felt ready to faint, so she triggered a healing spell.

That triggered a memory. She had prepped an “Armor” spell, which would almost certainly make her skin impervious to spikey beaks, and decided to trigger it.

(This lapse was entirely due to the long hiatus between sessions. The last time we played was just before Thanksgiving, and after that everybody got consumed by the holidays. By the time we managed to play again, memories of the prep-work had gone stale, and Henrietta’s player, Debbie, had forgotten she had that spell and what it did.)

The spell went off without a hitch, and the archaeologist turned into a killing machine. With her staff in one hand and her pistol in the other, Henrietta used all-out attacks to help Beatrice (who wasn’t as badly injured) off Grunt.

Down the lower deck, Aurelia and Jimmy had little difficulty keeping the birds from coming through the narrow firing-crosses cut in the bottom of the gondola, so the loss of Grunt had caused them no difficulties.

Up in the crows’ nest, the air-holes in the plexiglass were only big enough for the barrel of a pistol (or, as Aurelia had discovered, the point of a smallsword), so Steven didn’t feel terribly threatened. That is, until he missed badly with a couple of pistol-shots during the first and second waves, each of which starred the plexiglass (fortunately, in different spots), and sent Claudia into fits.

Part of that was because Claudia had managed to get a glimpse through the swarming bodies of the scavengers trying to peck their way into the tight quarters of the crows nest. Out in the distance, the huge feathered ray creatures had apparently heard the commotion behind them had wheeled around to investigate.

Claudia shouted the information through the speaking tube to A.J. and, after a bit of difficulty, he finally made out what she was saying. The former NASA engineer looked left and confirmed the sighting, as Claudia began to signal the other two airships as fast as she could.

By then, the recoilless rifles of the Groeningen had started to murder the scythe trees, none of which got closer than about 100 yards from the dagger-shaped airship.

Claudia shouted news of the victory down the speaking tube, and A.J. cranked up the starboard engines and shoved the helm into what would be a sharp left turn on anything other than a dirigible. As it was, the Paradise slowly accelerated as it began to turn toward the oncoming beasts.

The increase in speed wasn’t enough to outpace the third wave of scavengers, which consisted of about a dozen large insects that resembled six-foot flying locusts with sizeable mandibles.

One landed on the plexiglass of the crows’ nest and promptly ate a stirge. Not liking the looks of things, Steven swapped weapons and grabbed his 7.62 mm sniper rifle as the giant bug sprayed the outside of the bubble with saliva so caustic it began to eat away the feathers and gore.

Steven did not want to risk shooting a hole in the plexiglass (since that would have really upset Claudia…) so he took careful aim through one of the airholes and blew the bug in half.

Down at the gondola, A.J.’s maneuvers had caused the bugs to hit the stern of the gondola, and Beatrice and Henrietta rushed back to help (leaving the slightly injured Grunt in the cabin with A.J.). Doc Bascher had managed to keep the stirges off of her, but Frank had one on his back and his chest, and was thrashing around as they started to drain his blood.

Doc Bascher’s birdshot had difficulty penetrating the carapace of the bugs, but shredded the wings and damaged the legs nicely, plus the impacts managed to knock the crippled bugs off the lattice for the Long Fall. Beatrice’s pistol had no trouble penetrating the carapace at all, though, and killed bugs dead quite nicely.

For her part, Henrietta went into hero-mode, and managed to knock the last stirge off Frank with the staff in her right hand while she put two bullets into a bug with the pistol in her left, despite the penalties. That left her feeling pretty stoked.

Doc Bascher learned about the acid spit when a blob of it hit her square in the chest – fortunately covered by the ballistic vest – and a spatter took her in the right arm. The sleeves of her thick jacket kept the acid away from her skin, though.

Down in the lower decks, Aurelia realized Jimmy had a handle on the bugs, so she rushed up to the main deck to help. By the time the crew managed to kill the last of the bugs, A.J. had the bow of the Paradise pointed at the oncoming leviathans (still more than a half-mile away) and was accelerating toward them steadily.

While the rest of the group found this a bit unnerving, Claudia and Steven noted that the Florin (which had its own problems with swarming scavengers) and the Groeningen had followed suit.

That meant the three airships, chased by a circling cloud of scavengers, found themselves flying straight at the oncoming gigantic avians.

As the trio of airships got to within about 200 yards, A.J. shoved the yoke forward and the Paradise slowly nosed down into a dive. The Florin followed suit, as did the Groeningen, which slid past the more traditional airships.

The mortars on the deck of the Groeningen began to slam out shells, which arced toward the approaching beasts. Just short of them, the mortar shells exploded into bright clouds of chemical smoke that startled them enough to lose track of the airships.

By the time they got through the smoke (and dispersed it with the drafts from their huge wings), the cloud of scavengers had reached them. The rays opened their mouths and began to inhale, sucking down large clumps of the swirling scavengers as the three airships made their escape.

About 18 hours later, the three vessels still clotted with clumps of bloody red feathers, stirge-bits and splashes of acid-spittle, docked once again at Boomgard and session came to an end.

##

Funny Quotes

Beatrice: I need a flamethrower. Seriously! I know how to make one!

Claudia: I may or may not be screaming.

Tisa(OOC): I’m not allowed to kill other people’s characters when they’re not here!

Jeff(OOC): The player in me knows to get out of here, but the character has Overconfidence!

(Steve picks up his sniper rifle.)
Steve: I’m sorry about this Claudia. It’s about to get messy!

Henrietta: Kicking butt with two hands!
A.J.: Henrietta got real cool, just now.

(Claudia sees giant bugs. Claudia starts to cry.)

##
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Old 01-15-2019, 09:48 PM   #392
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Default Re: Campaign: Facets

Sounds like a really fun session. No question, swarms can be a lot of trouble unless you're very properly equipped (or lucky). The players did quite a good job this session.


One off the wall question, but I'm trying to remember the name (something like McKays I think) and exact location of a restaurant in the Denver area I used to go to a lot. I think it was up in Thornton and on the west side of I-25, not too far from a Motel 6. At the time (20 + years ago), it had mostly dark paneling inside and was moderately priced. It had a very eclectic clientele (families, cops, bikers of various types, truckers, etc.). Good but not great food. I need it for a location for a game. Hopefully you can figure out which place I'm talking about.
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Old 01-15-2019, 11:27 PM   #393
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Default Re: Campaign: Facets

Quote:
Originally Posted by SionEwig View Post
Sounds like a really fun session. No question, swarms can be a lot of trouble unless you're very properly equipped (or lucky). The players did quite a good job this session.


One off the wall question, but I'm trying to remember the name (something like McKays I think) and exact location of a restaurant in the Denver area I used to go to a lot. I think it was up in Thornton and on the west side of I-25, not too far from a Motel 6. At the time (20 + years ago), it had mostly dark paneling inside and was moderately priced. It had a very eclectic clientele (families, cops, bikers of various types, truckers, etc.). Good but not great food. I need it for a location for a game. Hopefully you can figure out which place I'm talking about.
That doesn't ring a bell. There is a subdevelopment called McKay's Landing a bit further west, in Broomfield.

That doesn't mean there wasn't a restaurant called that, in the area, but it may not be there, now. The Denver area is growing really fast, and a lot of the smaller places are getting priced out.

If I take a look at https://www.yellowpages.com/thornton-co/restaurants, I'd probably go with Pete's Cafe, at 9170 Washington St. That would have a similar feel with what you may be looking for, and it's less than 10 minutes away.

https://restaurantguru.com/Petes-Cafe-Denver

This place is part of the small chain of restaurants in the Denver area owned by Greek immigrant Pete Contos. They specialize in Tex-Mex and traditional American comfort food of decent quality at reasonable prices, as well as some (slightly) better quality Greek cuisine.

Pete's got a formula and it works well. He serves a variety of affordable meals to families and working people at convenient locations

Now then, if you want a place that feels a bit more seedy (and has lots of nooks, crannies and exits), but is actually reasonably clean and safe, and features significant transient traffic 24 hours a day, then Sapp Bros. Denver verges on perfection.

http://www.sappbros.net/travel-cente...ations/denver/

You could find anybody in that place. Sam and Dean could be grabbing a slightly wilted salad and a (not too) greasy burger at any time of day or night; Wyatt, Billy and George Hanson could be drawing stares from (or being deliberate ignored by) the truckers; and Jake and Elliott could be in one of the "Mom approved" restrooms, taking a leak.
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Old 01-16-2019, 01:31 PM   #394
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Default Re: Campaign: Facets

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Originally Posted by tshiggins View Post
(yeah, Stirges)
Awwww yeah.

Quote:
(This lapse was entirely due to the long hiatus between sessions. The last time we played was just before Thanksgiving, and after that everybody got consumed by the holidays. By the time we managed to play again, memories of the prep-work had gone stale, and Henrietta’s player, Debbie, had forgotten she had that spell and what it did.)
I deal with this by making the Players write their preparations down on index cards. For single use preparations (like triggerable spells) it's one per card. These go into their Character folders between sessions, and presto, no more forgetting what they prepped up with.
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Old 01-16-2019, 05:42 PM   #395
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Default Re: Campaign: Facets

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Awwww yeah.
They made for good swarms. I gave each hex seven hit points, and conceptualized them as two birds with two HPs each, and three with one HP each.

We used the swarm rules while the group took shots at the mass, but if any got through it turned into close combat against small, quick creatures.

Quote:
I deal with this by making the Players write their preparations down on index cards. For single use preparations (like triggerable spells) it's one per card. These go into their Character folders between sessions, and presto, no more forgetting what they prepped up with.
That's how she eventually remembered. We use RPM rules, and that means spells that need to last until used would be costly unless cast in fetish items that remain indefinitely unless stolen or broken.

The characters cast the spells into "temporary" tattoos inscribed on their torsoes in long-lasting ink. They cover them for additional protection, and in combat the ballistic body armor keeps the tattoos from damage.

To help with the logistics, the players write the "hung" spells on sticky-notes on their character sheets. When they use that spell, they remove the sticky and throw it away.

We got into the fight and Debbie saw the sticky-note, and that jogged her memory. She asked about "this armor," and so I told her how her ballistic vest offered only limited protection against swarms.

That confused her for a couple of minutes, but she eventually said she had "this spell, Armor." That's when we realized what she was talking about, and Anten remembered she'd prepped it. :)
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Old 01-16-2019, 10:40 PM   #396
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That confused her for a couple of minutes, but she eventually said she had "this spell, Armor." That's when we realized what she was talking about, and Anten remembered she'd prepped it. :)
I don't just have them write a quickie one word note, they have to write out the stats (and what it is, in this case "spell tattoo"), so it's generally a better reminder.
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Old 01-17-2019, 12:28 PM   #397
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I don't just have them write a quickie one word note, they have to write out the stats (and what it is, in this case "spell tattoo"), so it's generally a better reminder.
That might help; I'm not sure what they write on the stickies and it may vary from one player to the next.

Debbie is the least experienced of any of my players and RPGS weren't part of her life, at all, before this.

So, she sometimes lacks confidence in her own understanding, and sometimes she asks questions just for confirmation, even though she's increasingly correct.
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Old 01-30-2019, 09:43 PM   #398
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We were missing some folks at our latest session, so the party members of the players present focused on cutting deals and learning more about the part of the Orbital Realm of Jupiter in which they found themselves.
##

Characters Present:

Dr. Henrietta "Indiana" Johnson -- A personable, age 29-and-holding Anthropologist who specializes in the pre-Columbian indigenous people of the American Desert Southwest. A Native of Apache Junction, AZ, "Indiana" is good with people and has been fascinated by American Indian religion and folklore since she was a child. Henrietta speaks Apache fluently, and not-so-secretly wishes archaeology could be more like Raiders of the Lost Ark and less like digging in a trench with a trowel and a toothbrush -- Played by Debbie S.

Dr. Arthur "A.J." Jamison -- a retired NASA scientist with a home in one of Moab's nicer canyon sub-developments, who volunteers for 4CSAR because he needs to do something to get out of the house. Considers himself responsible for Sunmi Jones, who is enough of a science-geek that the two of them can actually hold a conversation. -- Played by Anten S.

Aurelia R. Lockrin -- A young woman with a shady past who teaches History at Grand County High School (Home of the Red Devils!), and volunteers for 4CSAR because she's a bit of an adrenalin junkie, and likes the companionship. -- played by Bennie Rae P. (Not available)

Dr. Belody "Doc" Bascher -- a local veterinarian for both large and small animals, who frequently fixates on her job and uses 4CSAR as her primary social outlet. -- played by Samantha H.

Beatrice "B" Lawrence -- U.S. Army veteran who works for a local air charter service as a helicopter mechanic. She recently lost the lower part of her left leg in a fight with a sorcerer from an opposing lodge, and now wears a high-tech prosthetic. A cynic about men, she is accompanied by "Grunt," the biggest, best-trained pit-bull anybody has ever seen (purchased as an ally, and a totally badass dog, even before it was possessed by what appears to be a benign “foo” spirit) -- played by Bernetta W. (Not available)

Claudia Abigail Tavulari, member of the NASA Quantum Physics Research Team, and an old friend of Arthur Jamison’s. The team has been helping Arthur research the portal physics, on the sly. – Played by Tisa T. (Not available)

Stephen Mack, another member of the NASA Quantum Physics Research Team, a former U.S. Marine Corps test pilot, and outdoors enthusiast. – Played by Jeff T. (Not available)

Frank Moses -- A former Marine who quit his job as a trooper with the Utah Highway Patrol (UHP). Moses formerly volunteered with 4CSAR and has an interest in Doc Bascher. Frank has spent the past several months living in the Dark Canyon base camp on the 1918 side of the portal. -played by Mike H.

NPCs Present

Jimmy Ehrland – A fugitive from the 1918 Colonia de Nova España, on the other side of the portal, he had fled from his vampire mistress, Doña Eva, only to find himself in a strange, alien world to which he must struggle to adapt.

Grunt: Beatrice's ally, a large pit-bull possessed by a protective "foo" spirit.

Hops About: An enthusiastically lethal nunnupi, a 6-inch tall fairy girl with black wings, pale skin and American Indian features. Currently dressed in the colors of the Unseelie Court, with a bow and knife, she frequently takes the form of a magpie four times the size of a normal bird and can go invisible.

Twirls Thrice: A laconic and lethal nunnupi with a dry sense of humor, also dressed in the cool colors of the Unseelie Court. Apparently the sister of Hops About, she bears similar weapons that can inflict elf-stroke, also appears as a large magpie, and can go invisible.

##

The crew of the Paradise spent the first day back in Boomgard (“Orchard’) hosing the feathers, blood, bird and bug bits from the decks and lattice, and patching up bits of the latter damaged by the fight with the swarming scavengers two days before.

After that A.J. (as well as Beatrice and Steven, in NPC-mode), focused on more substantive repairs as the rest of the Columbine Lodge began to explore the town. Boomgard’s town manager, Gustaaf vander Bijl, introduced himself to them early on, and basically gave them the run of the place.

Not that the town had much to interest the group, other than a better understanding of its basic construction. The town manager obviously relished the topic, and spent a fair amount of time answering their questions.

Van der Bijl said the town primarily earned its keep by providing services to the surrounding orchard communities, and he took them to a nearby patch of trees that formed part of the town to explain how that worked.

The town Boomgard consisted of a mixture of needle-leaf “evergreen” type of trees, as well as some broadleaf varieties. Van der Bijl said the needle-leaf trees used light more efficiently and recovered from damage better, and offered greater resistance to cold weather.

Mostly native to the cooler elevations, van der Bijl said, the needle leafs did well enough at the “zed-zed” layer, although they struggled down lower in the layers with the higher temperatures. That was mostly the realm of the broadleaf trees, the town manager explained, where they competed for the available light by spreading wide canopies.

The needle-leafs needed more pruning, but recovered from damage faster, the town manager said. In addition, the thicker growth of branches offered more shelter from winds, generally speaking. However, the town – and the surrounding orchards – made money from the broadleafs.

Once they’d reached a nearby orchard platform, the group understood. The people in the orbital realm had figured out how to graft fruit trees branches to the broadleaf trees.

Tropical fruits grew fairly well down lower, van der Bijl explained, althouygh not quite as productive as in the dimensions of Assiah. Additionally, the Esagila Guardians supplied grafts of temperate fruits – apples, peaches, pears, apricots, plums and cherries, that thrived on the broadleafs.

However, since most of the temperate fruits required cooler temperatures to trigger ripening, the orchard platforms actually migrated, van der Bijl explained.

They generally started on the “zed-zed” layer, he said, but when the grafts blossomed, the keepers carefully punctured some lifting-gas bladders so the platform spent a month or so sinking down about a hundred miles. Once there, the keepers dumped some ballast (usually, barrels of water) to hold it steady.

AT the warmer depth with the thicker and more humid air, the grafts fruited well and the broadleaf hosts quickly repaired the bladders and sprouted new ones. After four to six weeks, the orchard platform had recovered enough that it started to rise in altitude, on its own.

By the time the orchards reached “zed-zed” again, the grafted fruits usually had achieved fair growth. The orchard keepers (usually consisting of a single extended family or, in some cases, a larger clan) pruned out some weight and dumped a little more ballast.

That caused the trees to begin to rise to the cooler heights. In about eight weeks, the orchard keepers wanted them to rise 300 miles to the layer where the air pressure was about 70 percent of “zed-zed’s,” and the temperatures hovered at a crisp 40 degrees Farenheit (4.5 Celsius).

By then, the fruits had nearly ripened, and cargo dirigibles arrived for the harvest. The dirigibles took on as much as they could carry of the best produce and, remaining at the cooler altitudes so as to keep the fruit fresh, traveled rapidly to various markets.

Any fruits damaged or malformed remained with the orchard platform, where the keepers used them to make jams, jellies, ciders, wines, brandies and/or butters, depending on what the families knew best.

The loss of the mass of the harvested fruit taken by the dirigibles caused the orchard platforms to rise again, and they soon reached the freezing layers. The leaves on the grafted branches died away, as did the older foliage on the broadleaf floating trees. The bladders started to lose buoyancy slowly, as well.

At this point, the keepers deployed water-catcher tarps and shoveled snow into the barrels to regain ballast. That weight, combined with a rate of lifting-gas renewal that dropped below replacement levels, caused the orchards to begin to sink.

About two months later, they reached the layer about 200 miles up, where the temperatures averaged about 50 degrees or so, and the branches began to bud. By the time they sank to “zed-zed” again, the trees had achieved full canopies, again, and the blossoms started to appear.

At that point, van Bijl said, the keepers traded the preserves or beverages to Orchard in exchange for replacement supplies and, if the year had been good, some luxuries. The trips to town also marked the time when those who had achieved adulthood began to look around for potential partners to begin courting.

However, within a month or so, the whole cycle began again.

At that point, Doc Bascher began to ask about sources of animal proteins, and discovered that birds of all sorts filled that need, as did the meat of some of the larger insects, but that meat animals were too space-intensive.

Once she heard that, the veterinarian began to speculate about the market for red meat animals, if they managed to bring them through the portal, as well as what livestock might prove suitable.

At that point, Henrietta not-so-gently reminded the good doctor about what had happened the last time she’d tried to bring an animal through the portal. Embarrassed at the reminder of the murderous rampage perpetrated by her possessed pig, Doc Bascher dropped the topic – temporarily.

(continued...)
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Old 01-30-2019, 09:48 PM   #399
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(...continued)

While Henrietta and Doc Bascher learned about the local economy, Frank Moses decided to find out what he could about local law enforcement and any milita the company might have. After asking around a bit, the former Utah State Trooper made his way to the tavern where most of the local law officers hung out.

The cops inside knew who Frank was and welcomed his overtures cautiously. They thanked him for helping with the scythe trees, as a successful infestation of the monstrous plants would have made their jobs much more difficult.

Frank asked about that and, after a few rounds of the local libations, the men loosened up a bit. Frank learned the men were mostly locals who had taken on full-time positions as corporate security for the Nieuw Haarlem Company, and were charged with maintaining order in the area.

They did that with a very shallow hierarchy that reminded Frank somewhat of how the Texas Rangers operated in the through the early 20th Century, on his world. The territory claimed by the Nieuw Haarlem Company was divided into regions, and airships such as the Florin ferried the specialists around to different settlements, at random.

Chronically understaffed, the specialists were expected to exercise the initiative needed to maintain order in the area – by whatever means necessary. The vast distances meant the security personnel couldn’t expect backup, any time soon, and were forced to adopt a “One riot, One Ranger,” type of approach.

The need to operate autonomously meant the corporate security specialists enjoyed considerable leeway in how they accomplished their tasks. Basically, they explained, as long as they maintained the order needed for a stable business environment, the company didn’t care how they accomplished it – so long as they didn’t create more problems than they solved.

In the discussion of said practices, the talk eventually turned to the type of equipment used by the security team. Frank learned that most of them supplied their own weapons and equipment, although the company provided funds for maintenance and ammunition.

Most of the men had reliable revolvers and slung 12-gauge shotguns. The company didn’t provide rifles, the men said, because those were more expensive and careless use of them threatened the integrity of the lifting-gas bladders.

This sometimes put them at a disadvantage against area criminals, they said, but the specialists frequently found ways to deal with the problem. Interested, Frank asked how purchasing worked, and learned that the local Security Chief, Dael van der Berg, exercised some purchasing authority, but any large line-items needed to go back to Nieuw Haarlem for approval.

Frank soon discovered the location of van der Berg’s office, swung by the Paradise to pick up Jimmy Ehrland, and the two made their way to the security office.

There, they quickly made van der Berg’s acquaintance (he also knew them by reputation) and Frank told him about the conversation with his men. Given what he’d learned, Frank asked, would van der Berg have any interest in a couple dozen lever-action carbines taking up space and weight on the Paradise?

The head of security asked to see one, and Frank produced one of the carbines the rest of the group had taken from the bodies of the U.S. Cavalry troop they’d slaughtered. Van der Berg took the weapon outside to the edge of the platform, fired a full magazine and asked some technical questions.

Pleased at the relative simplicity of the weapon, van der Berg asked how many rounds Frank had available. The former state trooper said he could provide 50 cartridges per rifle (the cavalry troop was well-supplied, as the patrol was expected to last a couple of weeks), and Jimmy stepped in to dicker over the price.

Eventually, local head of security agreed to $500 per rifle with the 50 rounds each – more than twice what Frank expected. Jimmy (who had the Merchant skill, which is why Frank brought the native of the 1919 world along) guessed that the metal required for the rifles made them more valuable, in and of itself, as did the brass casings.

Frank said that made a lot of sense, and guessed that the shotguns used by the security specialists probably even used shells with cardboard casings. Brass cartridges would prove a lot more reliable in inclement weather (it did rain a fair amount, in this realm…) and give van der Berg’s men a solid advantage.

Van der Berg wrote out a requisition for the group to cash in at the company bank in Nieuw Haarlem, and sent some of his men along with Frank and Jimmy to take possession of the carbines. Frank and Jimmy handed them over, promptly, and the pleased security officers took them away.

While the rest of the group was wheeling and dealing, and learning about orchard-farming in the orbital realm, Capt. Adriaan van Hoek decided to pay A.J. a visit.

The commander of the Groeningen gave a friendly greeting and asked about the progress of the repairs. After a bit of chit-chat, he got to the point.

Van Hoek said he had another errand in the area and might want some backup. Apparently, a settlement of what he called “poachers” on the edge of Nieuw Haarlem Company territory had started to provide contraband goods – including the fuel and lifting gas declared as company monopolies.

Van Hoek said that, while some poaching didn’t require much of a response, any violation of the company monopolies required harsh object lessons. As such, he asked if the Paradise would like to come along and help minimize the number of those who managed to successfully flee.

Arthur carefully responded that he would need to consult with the rest of the group, but expressed skepticism that they would approve participation in the venture “this time.” After all, he explained, the Paradise had take much more damage than anybody had expected, and A.J. didn’t think the group was ready for another fight so soon.

Van Hoek replied that he understood, and noted that the members of the Red Rock Lodge had no contractual obligation to accompany him. However, the Groeningen’s captain said that any such extra effort would win them some friends with the Esagila Guardians who controlled Nieuw Amsterdam.

Once van Hoek had left, A.J. finished up a few things and then strolled over to the Florin and asked to speak with Capt. Gerry van Andel. Fortunately, the commander was present (not that Boomgard had very many places to go…) and readily agreed to see him.

A.J. relayed van Hoek’s offer and asked for more details. Van Andel shrugged and said this sort of “unpleasant errand” had to be done, now and then, and while the Florin wouldn’t participate in this attack, he and his crew had done so, in the past.

Arthur pressed van Andel for some details, which the Florin commander readily provided. He said the “poacher” settlements essentially sought to take advantage of the orderly environment provided by the company airships, but had no desire to play by the rules so the companies would have the resources needed to keep the area safe.

As long as the “free rider” poachers kept things low-key, and provided contraband that didn’t really interest the companies, anyway, van Andel said, the company limited actions to the occasional search of independent airships and confiscation of cargoes and currency.

However, when the poacher settlements infringed on a company’s core business, that required swift and harsh reprisal, usually by ships such as the Groeningen and her sister vessels. Generally, van Andel explained, the airships stood off and destroyed the settlement with heavy weapons, chased down any poacher vessels.

The escort dirigibles machine-gunned as many who tried to flee as possible, van Andel said, because “nits make lice” and other poachers needed to know to observe the limits set by the companies – both formal and informal.

Fortunately, van Andel explained, if a reprisal proved harsh enough, it could be many years before any company airship ever needed to perform such an action, again.

A.J. said the situation sounded risky enough that the crew of the Paradise would probably take a bye on this particular mission. Van Andel responded that it definitely went beyond the scope of the original agreement with the Nieuw Haarlem Company, and since they had no contractual obligations with the Nieuw Amsterdam Company, whatsoever, the group would face no ramifications for the refusal.

Arthur asked when the Florin planned to head back to Nieuw Haarlem, and said the Paradise would like to accompany her. Van Andel said they planned to depart in about 14 hours, and A.J. said his crew would be ready to go, by then.

With that, Arthur thanked van Andel for his time and made his way back to the Paradise. When the rest of the group returned later in the day, they expressed horror at the notion of wiping out an entire settlement of people – including children – in the name of defending anybody’s business model.

At that point, A.J. shifted to “Devil’s Advocate.” He noted that, by doing nothing, they’d condemn the poacher settlement to destruction and the many of the inhabitants to death. However, if they went along, they might be able to save some people.

Frank argued that the group didn’t know enough about the situation, since they’d just learned about it, and the Red Rocks Lodge utterly lacked the power needed to overcome the Groeningen. As such, they’d probably just get themselves killed if they tried to interfere and, if they didn’t, they’d be painted as mass-murderers on the side of the companies.

(continued...)
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MXLP:9 [JD=1, DK=1, DM-M=1, M(FAW)=1, SS=2, Nym=1 (nose coffee), sj=1 (nose cocoa), Maz=1]
"Some days, I just don't know what to think." -Daryl Dixon.
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Old 01-30-2019, 09:49 PM   #400
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Default Re: Campaign: Facets

(...continued)

The rest of the group accepted Frank’s reasoning, albeit unhappily, and asked if some way might exist to pass along a warning. However, they reluctantly concluded they lacked both the knowledge of who might be involved with the poachers, and the time to develop such contacts.

The group agreed with A.J. that they should head back to Nieuw Haarlem as quickly as possible, so as to complete repairs and get started on the construction of their own platform. Henrietta also said she really needed to learn as much as possible about the history of the area.

After all, they’d just used some of their stored spells, and without any sacred space, they couldn’t cast any replacements. Moreover, Henrietta couldn’t cast the rituals needed to allow them to find the portal to the 1711 world.
The two airships departed on schedule, and the trip to Nieuw Haarlem passed much more pleasantly than the voyage out.

As soon as the Paradise was moored and the crew debarked, a messenger arrived with an invitation from Gerda Jonckers for a second luncheon the next day. The group secured the airship and made their way to the luncheon the next day.

The director of the Nieuw Haarlem Company congratulated them on a job well done, and reported that she has authorized the agreed upon line of credit of $50,000 in company scrip, exchangeable for $100,000 in 1919 dollars on the other side of the portal. That should allow them to complete construction of the platform for which they’d already made the down payment, Jonckers said.

The “directeur” also noted that she’d received a letter from Dael van der Berg in Orchard, and had decided to approve the sale of the carbines. While no big deal, this time around, Jonckers said, in the future she’s appreciate it if the members of the Red Rocks Lodge let her know before they started dealing arms to people in Nieuw Haarlem territory.

Frank apologized and said he’d stumbled on the deal and jumped at the opportunity. Jonckers said she understood, and had no problems as long as such transactions took place with company employees. She just wanted some advance notice, next time, and Frank agreed that seemed quite reasonable.

Jonckers also said the successful mission allowed her to make other company resources available to them, including the consultation services of the Nieuw Haarlem company’s mage, Dr. Sander Vandergross. While he would charge them an hourly fee for his services, Jonckers said, Dr. Vandergross would willingly assist them with any reasonable request.

After the luncheon, the group went about their separate business. A.J. went to the offices of De Bos Houtbedrijf, to arrange for the trip to tow lumber back to vicinity of the Nieuw Haarlem and construct a moored platform. The directeur, Anika de Bos, said she could have a crew and ships ready to go in five days, and reminded A.J. of the agreement that the Paradise and her crew would provide physical security in exchange for a discount.

A.J. said he and his group would be ready, and five days would give them time to complete some repairs. With that, he took his leave, and began to shop for tough netting to reinforce the inside of the wooden lattice work.

(In a subsequent discussion, Anten said they could probably earn some funds from their own platform by allowing visiting dirigibles to moor to it, rather than pay Nieuw Haarlem’s docking fees. They’d fence off the center of the platform for private use, and allow the visitors to travel around the rim of the platform to reach the bridge to the town, proper. He’d seen that other platforms did the same sort of thing.)

Meanwhile, Henrietta made her way to Dr. Vandergross’ office, made an appointment, and learned the mage charged $50 per hour in company scrip. A little later that afternoon, the company mage welcomed the anthropologist and congratulated her on the successful completion of the mission.

Henrietta thanked him and, in response to his query, said she’s like the chance to visit some of the company schools to learn their curricula and pedagogy. As a professor, herself, Henrietta said she’d welcome the opportunity to perhaps teach a class or two, herself.

Vandergross hesitated for a long moment, and then said that while it might be possible for her to observe some of the classes, she would need to establish a solid relationship with the company before they’d allow her to teach classes.

Henrietta expressed surprise at this requirement, and Vandergross proceeded to explain. The curriculum at the company schools strongly emphasized practical knowledge that would give them happy and prosperous lives as either company employees or contractors, and would seem quite “vocational” as compared to what she was used to, the mage said.

Basically, each child was carefully monitored and steered toward subjects that suited them best, Vandergross said. The most talented children learned corporate management skills – economics, finance, budgeting and other such topics. These tended to be the children of the stockholders, Vandergross noted, and the curriculum was quite challenging.

Those who had displayed talents for engineering or science were steered to manufacturing or product research, while those who lacked such talents were moved quickly into classes that provided vocational training – carpentry, plumbing, agronomy, and other such topics.

As a general rule, Vandergross said, the company had little use for such “frivolous” classes as those he understood were part of the “core curriculum” of “unproductive ideas” on her world. Subjects such as the social sciences or the arts had little utility to the company, Henrietta learned, although anybody who had artistic talents was encouraged to pursue them as hobbies.

If their works proved marketable, the company would provide ongoing support for such activities, Vandergross explained.

At that point, Henrietta asked about the company’s policy toward “poaching” settlements, and said it came across as the sort of oppression that led to long-term social instability – or even revolution.

Dr. Vandergross replied that harsh reprisals delivered swiftly were specifically designed to prevent that sort of thing, and noted that the vast expanse of the Orbital Realm of Jupiter made it easy for malcontents to create their own settlements far away from company territory.

As it was, he added, political revolutions only took place when Looters organized enough Moocher parasites to seize control of a society from the Producers who made its prosperity possible. A revolution condemned any society to degeneration, Vandergross said, and lead to its eventual self-destruction.

Without batting an eyelash, Henrietta agreed that the differences in curriculum meant she probably should observe for awhile, but noted that it might help if she had access to some of the company archives, as that would allow her to better grasp the context of the decision-making.

Vandergross said that, while the archives really had limited utility, he could certainly understand her interest, given her vastly different background. As such, he said he could make one of his staff available who knew English well enough to help her translate the Dutch documents.

Henrietta thanked Vandergross for the help, and then spent the next several days sorting through dusty files with the help of a very patient worker who, nevertheless, gave the impression she felt rather put-upon.

During her perusal of the records, Henrietta learned that the early years of the settlement consisted of “bringing order” to the surrounding territory, which was then inhabited by “independents.” As the records progressed, Henrietta noted that the term “independent” began to more frequently give way to the term “poacher,” and expense reports indicated the need to replace weapons and ammunition, and recruit personnel, declined steadily after the first decade.

The anthropologist noted the increasing success of efforts to “integrate” people into the “company system,” but kept seeing references to the term, “grapple.”

(continued...)
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"Some days, I just don't know what to think." -Daryl Dixon.
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