Hal Brex, Part 4

This is the fourth part of my solo actual play. Hope you enjoy!

Firstly, I have changed rules I am using to adjudicate actions. I prefer GURPS to just about any game out there, so I redesigned Hal as a 100 points GURPS character.

Secondly, I want to use the 3d6 as my Oracle, so I simply added 3 to all the target numbers and then flipped them around so that lower meant Yes and higher meant Low.

Other than that, I am continuing the game as before. I may well use Cepheus/Traveller random tables as tools for ease of access – we shall see – but this nicely shows the difference between the rules (for adjudication) and the methodology (for play).

Hal wants to get the jeep which also has his gear stashed inside. Have the police impounded the jeep? Seems likely… rolls Yes, and they have taken all the gear as evidence.

They were waiting in the bar cellar when a knock at the stair top door alerted them to a visitor. An hour before, Chanda had relayed an order to find out if the police had impounded Hal’s jeep. This was the reply.
“Shit,” said Hal as Chanda informed him that the jeep was in police custody, that a forensics team was all over it, and the operative had seen them bagging his gear as evidence.
“That’s my cold-weather gear, tools, tent, comlink, and favourite jeep gone then.”
Chanda smiled a little before replying: “It does seems a little pointless to organise a heist for a favourite jeep.”
“Maybe but without the cold-weather gear and a good ground vehicle, we are a long walk from the Archive and it’ll be turning colder over the next couple of weeks.”
“Let me see what we can rustle up.”
Chanda walked off over to Marlene and Hisham, talking in hushed tones. Clearly they were trying to work out their next move.

While Hal waits, I have some questions. Is the Archive on the same continent as the capital city? 50/50… rolls a Natural 3 for Yes, and… I draw a card for a descriptive clue: “Thick ashy smoke…”
I picture the Archive deep in the forest under the plume of a recently erupting volcano which has been kicking out a thick plume of ashy smoke for some days. Needing a direction, I roll 1d6 imagining a hex with 1 at the top and the digits running clockwise around it – basically the GURPS Scatter diagram… roll 1, North. I need a distance so I roll 3d6x50 miles = 650 miles. This ash cloud will help explain why Imperial drones and aircraft can’t get over the site.

“We’re going to have to head north under the ash plume from Mount Haeran,” said Hal.
“We can probably rustle up an old all-terrain 6-wheeled colonial exploration vehicle that’ll keep you all warm and protect you from the ash. Those old tugs are airtight if a little slow.”
Hal nodded and started scribbling down a list of the gear he needed replacing: Medium-ranged Comm, binoculars, electric torches, tents, cold-weather clothing, a mechanical toolkit, and supplies for a two-week expedition.
Chanda reviewed the list and nodded.
“Ok,” he said, “I will see about getting that stuff loaded on to an explorer outside the city walls. The bigger problem is getting you guys to the explorer in one piece now that the cops are hunting for you.”

end of scene

Can the team get from the bar to the explorer vehicle without being detected? It will be way more fun to have an incident along the way. I decide to draw some cards to give me a nudge of inspiration: “Judge Despondent Locals”. One of the cards also has the text, “The hiss of escaping gas…” which intrigues me. Hmm.

The team moved steadily through the sewers using the same access way they used to arrive at the bar. It still smelled bad. Hisham was mobile, having been treated with some pretty high-tech looking gubbins that had presumably been liberated from the Imperium’s stocks. Marlene was leading the way, heading for a sewer line that exited the city walls northward. The plan was for Chanda’s other cell to drop the explorer near the vent, hidden under some camouflaged tarpaulin about a mile north of the walls along an old access road.
Time seemed to stretch long under the ground with torchlight, the sound of flowing sewer water, and whatever else lived down here scratching along the walls. Hal was tense but it wasn’t his first time: he was reminded of a case tracking counterfeit Credit Chips which led to an underground sewer-based forging hall. His reverie was broken by the sound of hissing gas and the echoing of voices ahead. Marlene motioned them to stop and crouched. Slowly, she edged forward to the bend in the sewer tunnel to see.
Hal could hear the cursing of the voices.
“Frack it, man! This gas line is boned and we don’t have the gear to fix it, just you and me. But if we don’t, we’re gonna risk a build-up and blow moment.”
A second voice, higher pitched, responded, “Jeepers, how many times do I have to tell you? I am not a man. But yeah, we need to replace the whole section of that ripped line. It’s like maybe 10 metres of split or weak pipe. Jeepers.”
“Looks like something Tore a chunk out of it too. Look at that rent and the long scratches – you think it was a Werknesh? Down here?”
Hal shivered at the thought of a Werknesh in the sewers. Those beasts were huge. I smirked as he imagined the scaly form of a Werknesh tearing up the gas line in a sewer. ‘Fracking idiots.’
Marlene was signalling…

Can Hal follow her gestures? Not a skill he has but it defaults to IQ-4 = 8. That said, her signals are simple so I rule a +4, for a 12 or less… rolls 14.

Hal got the first bit: two workers. The next gesture threw him though. Hisham chuckled to himself, obviously knowing more than Hal.
“She says there’s a Bruxx – one of those uplifted rat species the Imperium likes to use on industrial worlds. Pretty unusual around here but we’ve seen them before,” Hisham whispered.
Marlene then gestured something else Hal didn’t quite get before stepping out, bold as brass, into the tunnel and disappearing out of sight.
“Not likely to see a Werknesh down here, lads,” Marlene said.
“Who are you,” asked the human.
“Name’s Marlene and I am out for a stroll.”
“Sure you are. Look, me and Zahra here don’t want any trouble.”
“Good to know. Thing is, I need to know that no one is going to blab about seeing strangers down here.”

I need a reaction roll – how are these two likely to respond? Rolling 3d6… I think -2 for being an intruder… 7 = Poor, unimpressed.

“Yeah, lady? How much you willing to give us to keep our mouths shut? A thousand credits a piece,” he laughed.
Marlene whistled and Hisham moved up quickly to the corner.
She began coolly: “Right now, my friend has a very nice rifle aimed right at your head and I figure it might be cheaper to just shoot you and save the credits. What do you say?”

Quick Contest: Her Intimidation versus their Will. We’ll give Marlene a +2 bonus for Hisham’s rifle poking around the corner. Rolls… the workers score 7 under 10; Marlene scores 7 under 12.

“Er, yeah,” said the human worker slowly.
“Yes,” nodded the diminutive Bruxx standing nearby.
“Actually, mate, you don’t wanna discharge that rifle or you’ll blow us all to bits. That’s a leaking gas line there,” said the first man.
There was a pause as Marlene stood silently.
“How about we just tape this line quick and then head back for the replacement pipe we need?”
Marlene nodded.
The two whipped out some gaffer tape and began a hasty repair on the gas pipe. It took maybe 5 minutes. Marlene watched in silence. The two workers kept glancing her way and then back to their task. Without much delay, the two workers picked up their gear and made to leave.
“Remember,” Marlene said, “We were never here.”

The sewer line was pretty quiet the nearer they got to the vents over the walls. They were much higher up than Hal expected, however, as the water was channeled through a series of filtering machines before being discharged into the city’s moat which, in turn, flowed east ward towards the cliffs above the bay. The two operatives were carrying ropes and grapples in their kit bags and the plan was to lower the team down the walls. It was perhaps an hour before dawn outside. Hal was feeling tired but a rappel down the walls seemed a small price to escape the authorities. First, though, Hisham needed to disarm the intruder sensors and cameras on the vent.

We’ll do a quick test of Hisham’s assumed tech skill of 12. Rolls 8 to succeed. A failure might have complicated things but the plan is to get the team out of the city.

As dawn broke, Hal watched Marlene’s team uncover the tarpaulin-covered explorer and they began to mount up. It was going to be a long drive through increasingly dense forest. Good job Hal knew the trails and tracks that would save them some time.


  1. It’s interesting to see how the narrative responds to the system. Pleasingly, hardly at all. If it weren’t such a PITA I’d suggest using a different system for every episode, but that is actually a bad idea. The emphasis needs to be on the story, not the die rolls. Looking forward to episode 5.


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