Saturday, May 14, 2016

Tone Pulsar and the missing com-link

I have just finished playing my first adventure using Future Tales by Two Hour Wargames. Here is the report, followed by some first impressions about the game.

I started by creating my Star, and then recruiting (rolling) a co-star and grunt to help:

Tone Pulsar / Rep 5 Star / Human Male
Star power: 4 (base 5)
Attributes: Nerves of steel, Pilot
Class: Adventurer / Circle: Exotic (SS 3) / Profession: Pilot
Weapons: Laser pistol, shock dagger
Home: Office at the commerce area of Starlis station, orbiting planet Gablum

Yeerox / Rep 3 Co-star / Klorian Female
Attributes: Genius, Tough
Class: Civilian / Circle: Civilian / Profession: Merchant
Weapons: Laser pistol
*Klorians are a humanoid alien race with bat-like heads and furry skin.

Ingrid / Rep 3 Grunt / Small human Female
Attributes: Initiative, Slight
Class: Criminal Element / Circle: Criminal / Profession: Thief
Weapons: Knife

A bit of invented lore
The post of Free Agent was created after the Galactic Empire was forced to admit that there was just too much going on for the imperial forces to handle. An Imperial Free Agent is granted a limited amount of power to conduct investigations on the Empire's behalf in distant sectors of the galaxy. They are allowed to form an agency and hire deputies and assistants. In practice, investigations often turn into conflicts with local crime lords, which the Empire is glad to ignore.

The Missing Com-link

Lieutenant Wilka came looking for help after she and friends were attacked while on leave. She had her com-link stolen, and it held some intimate pictures. That is why she came to the agency: she wanted it solved before any of it reached the galactic network. The incident happened on the space station orbiting planet Kerris, and so that was Tone's first stop.

[I rolled a "Find object" mission requiring 3 clues. The "Big Bad" class was Royal Pain, which became Baron Brezal (Rep 6 noble)]

Retro-futuristic rocket approaching a planet.

Scene 1
Planet Kerris / Space station Morgane / Quarters

Tone and crew flew on their agency spaceship to Space Station Morgane, orbiting planet Kerris. During their travel, Yeerox found out that a security engineer might have footage of the assault against Lt. Wilka, so their plan was to look for him. They arranged a meeting at an electronics supply store in the quarters sector of the station -- a place that should be safe.

The store was empty when they arrived -- a trap. Three large guys carrying heavy guns surrounded them: two coming from the storage area and one closing the front door. Tone tried playing the "free agent" card and it paid off: the thugs admitted working for Baron Brezal, who apparently didn't pay them too well. From what they said, Brezal had ordered the attack after Lt. Wilka had ignored his advances. A petty motive, but not surprising for local nobles.

[Still, this scene was a failure as they didn't gain a clue about the object.]

Scene 2
Planet Kerris / Drakya Settlement / Slums

Sooner or later Brezal would find Lt. Wilka's pictures and try to blackmail her or worse. Still, military com-links are encrypted and Brezal would need help to break it. Ingrid said she knew some people on the Kerris underworld who might give information about this. They took a shuttle down to the planet, to look for gangsters on the Drakya settlement.

Ryna, the leader of a local gang, was Ingrid's contact and they arranged a meeting in a warehouse. On their way, they met some gang members and Keve, who looked like just a teenager carrying a heavy laser pistol, joined them.

The gang leader was wating for them inside the abandoned warehouse, which actually was a well-equipped base of operations. Still, she had no information about people looking for hacking services. The best she could do was to give the location of The Witch, a thief and information trader operating from the forest in the Barrens.

[Two scenes, two failures -- if you get as many failures as the Star's Rep, the mission is over.]

Scene 3 
Planet Kerris / Barrens / Forest

Tone and crew left Keve behind and boarded the floating train that crossed the Barrens. There was still an operating station in the plains and from there, they could get to the woods by hover-car.

While in the train, Tone was approached by a man offering a case full of alien gems for him to drop the investigation. He followed the man to his cabin, intent on ambushing him there and questioning him about the com-link. Unfortunately, the man was an alien in disguise, immune to the toxic fumes that filled his cabin. When Tone stepped in, he was instantly knocked unconscious.

Tone woke up in a small, dark room. Two large men stood beside him, while someone looked out from a video-link monitor -- Baron Brezal. The noble spent over twenty minutes complaining about how Tone should not interfere in the life of his betters -- more than enough for him to get his bearings and make up an escape plan. As Brezal ordered the thugs to beat him down and the video-link screen turned off, Tone started a fight and escaped the room. The place he was looked like an abandoned depot near the Barrens. He then stole a cargo truck and drove to the floating train station, where he met with Yeerox and Ingrid.

The rest of the trip to the forest was relatively calm. Yeerox drove the hover-car while Tone slept to recover from the fight and escape. Ryna's information was right and they didn't take long to find the ruins that The Witch used as a base of operations. However, she was nowhere to be found. They met with a Kerdugan expeditionary forces team, who didn't know anything about her. All this trouble had been for nothing.

At least, while they looked for Tone, Ingrid found another lead: a manager on Space Station Morgane might have information on the flights of Baron Brezal's ships.

[3 failed scenes out of a maximum of 5.]

Scene 4
Planet Kerris / Space station Morgane / Hangars

The crew flew back to the space station and met with a few managers and other workers at the station's hangar but no one had any information. However, they found out that Brezal's ships used Space Station Ordalis, also orbiting Kerris.

[The manager, who was the "person of interest" to be questioned, was not found, resulting in a total of 4 failed scenes out of a maximum of 5.]

Scene 5
Planet Kerris / Space station Ordalis / Hangars

Tone and his group took a shuttle to Space Station Ordalis and reached the security building in the hangar sector without much trouble. Tone and Yeerox distracted some workers while Ingrid searched the database records. With some effort, they obtained a copy of the flight records, showing that on the same day of the attack on Lt. Wilka, the Baron's ship stopped at planet Zaor. Yeerox's contacts pointed that the Baron was seen with Mistress Zeli, a famous "pleasure specialist."

[At this point, Tone's luck started to change, with the first clue gained. Two more to go...]

Scene 6
Planet Zaor / Zaor City (Urban) / Undercity

To avoid drawing too much attention, Tone and crew used a space liner to reach Zaor. They entered the Undercity at night and managed to avoid any confrontations.

Mistress Zeli confirmed that the Baron was with her and gloated about the attack. It seems he wasn't part of the assault team but followed everything from a distance by holo-vid. Finding a copy of the holo-vid would allow them to negotiate with the Baron.

[Finding Zeli and having her cooperate in the Questioning table resulted in another clue...]

Scene 7
Planet Kerris / Space station Morgane / Command

Using all their available contacts, Yeerox and Ingrid found that one of Brezal's thugs was holding a copy of the holo-vid, possibly to try some blackmail on his own. The thug was stationed in a residence at the Command sector of Space Station Morgane, so they traveled back there.

On their way to the residence, they avoided contact with anyone suspicious. Tone met a pilot robot who had flown with him before, along with its maintenance team. After this, they managed to infiltrate the thug's apartment and stole the holo-vid. Now they could face Brezal.

Final Scene
Planet Kerris / Space station Ordalis / Commerce

Brezal arranged to meet them on a theater at the commerce sector of Space Station Ordalis. It would be a simple trade: the holo-vid for the com-link. Not the best scenario, as the villain could escape easily from the station, but there weren't many options.

On their way, they met some minions of the Baron. From previous encounters, Tone managed to convince them to stay out of the fight, and then they reached the theater.

Baron Brezal obviously didn't want to make the trade, and his two goons with laser rifles started shooting as soon as Tone and his crew had entered the building. Ingrid dodged some shots and tried to subdue one of the shooters, but was knocked out.

In the middle of the fight, Tone's laser pistol scorched the Baron's shoulder, who promptly ran away. Tone would try to chase, but Yeerox was shot down and he stood back to help her. The thugs started to retreat but Tone took both down.


Ingrid recovered after the fight but Yeerox did not survive her wounds.

The com-link was never recovered, but Lt. Wilka's pictures never showed up on the galactic network either. Still, the public opinion was that Tone Pulsar had made a mess of an affair that either was not worth it, or should have been solved more efficiently.

[In the end, Tone accumulated 9 decreasing Rep dice, and 4 increasing dice. He rolled a 1 on the decreasing dice, thus lowering his Rep from 5 to 4. Too bad for all this trouble.]


After nearly reaching the limit for failed scenes, I got enough clues... and then the villain's Coward attribute worked against me.

This adventure took quite a few hours to play out, but that was in part because I was learning, playing and taking notes at the same time. Then it took an extra hour to go through the notes and turn them into this report.

My first impressions about Future Tales are positive: it is like a refined, sci-fi themed version of Larger than Life (the old version; I do not own the newer Director's Cut to make the comparison.) While Fringe Space provides a "sandbox" game world where players can do what they want, Future Tales is aimed at playing more structured stories.

Because of this more structured approach, the Player Aid pages with hyperlinks to the appropriate sections make navigating the PDF version of the book very easy.

I think the longevity of this game comes from building the history of the adventurers. For instance, in the next adventure Tone Pulsar already has two planets, a bunch of locations and characters that he might meet again. This way, further games do not become a matter of rolling on the same tables but creatively stitching together old and new information.

Last but not least, some character names were generated with help from this site:

That is all for now!


Shaun Travers said...

Wow - you are fast with the report! I got it when it came out and have not got past the first few pages :-( Thanks for the post, it really helps - I too hoped it would be an SF version of LTL (I too only have the first edition).

I have been tinkering with my on solo SF type story telling/RPG thing for a few years and when I heard about future tales it was similar to what I am doing. Your report indicates that this is the THW ruleset I have been looking for for SF adventuring, but I will have finish off my own first as I am so close to getting them to a state I can try them out.

Ricardo Nakamura said...

Thanks for the comment! I hope you finish your rules. Even if they cover the same period or theme, I think different authors will present different points of view.

Fitz-Badger said...

Nice report! I have several of the THW rules, including the old LTL among others. I occasionally try some of them out, but have yet to really click with them. I know they have a lot of great potential for solo gaming, and hopefully one of these times I'll get somewhere with them.

Kurt said...

I enjoyed your batrep as usual. After reading through both Future Tales and Fringe Space, Future Tales is really like a supplement to Fringe Space. At some point I'll bring over the Laser weapons, the different locales, NPCs, Aliens, Robots and the story concept to expand on the Fringe Space world.