Before we get back to the pulse-pounding saga of Irv avoiding encounters, a bit of retroactive accounting! I realized that I assumed Irv had a revolver because he mustered out of the merchant service with that skill, and so had him carry his gun around in the last adventure (and nearly get caught by a security detail when they spotted the bulge in his pocket). But I forgot that Irv would have had to buy a gun someplace on Regina, because his service days didn’t award him a piece. Rather than play out Irv’s acquisition of a weapon on law-happy Regina, I’m going to assume that he picked up a revolver on the black market, for three times list price — CR 465, though they threw in six shells for free. So now we know how Irv came to have that hot rod in his pocket when that celebrity’s chief of security spotted him in the plaza.
Because Traveller is nothing if not an accountant’s game, we should deduct the cost of that weapon — and a week’s room and board — from Irv’s little nest egg. Irv enters his second week of travelling with CR19435 and no clear idea of where to find his elusive patron. About the only thing he knows for sure is that he’s going to give the starport town’s streets a miss this week and concentrate his efforts in the dive bars and wrestling clubs that ring the space fields.
Because I’m bumping up against the narrative limits for solitaire Traveller play I’m bringing in a supplemental rules manual starting with this post. Mythic is a universal role playing system and “GM emulator” that I’ve noodled around with in the past. The core of the system is a probability engine which indexes the basic likelihood of something happening with a “Chaos Level” to produce a range of dice results used to answer yes/no questions. By addressing the Mythic charts as a kind of dice-driven Magic 8-Ball a solo player or GM-less group can (slowly) work themselves through a series of scenes making up a role playing adventure.
Mythic has a full-on character generation and action system, but I’m just going to use it for GM emulation, leaving as much as possible to the basic Traveller rules, including the chance and basic nature of random encounters. I will use Mythic to build on and explore the situations generated by Traveller, and will use a good deal of common sense and artistic license to nudge things in the most interesting direction.
Mythic structures a game into scenes. The basic nature of my first scene is driven by Traveller’s encounter system. In his second week on Regina, Irv continues to look for a patron. He doesn’t find one, but he does have an encounter on day four.
The rules say the encounter is with “non-committal adventurers” (the story of my life!), quantity one. We know Irv is hanging around dive bars, and it makes sense he’d find adventurers there. Fudging a bit with my Names book tells me the bar is named “Huppo’s,” and I assume this is the same shady place where Irv scored his revolver. We pick up our scene as the as-yet undefined adventurer enter Huppo’s, where Irv is already nursing a mug of Basic Plus. But Mythic throws me a curve — rolling against the basic “Chaos Factor” of the scene (which starts at five), I get a result of three on 1D10. Because this number is less than or equal to the Chaos Factor, it means the setup is modified, and because the number is odd, it means an altered scene.
Thursday night at Huppo’s
Under the rules of Mythic, this requires that I ask a yes/no question about the scene. I want to respect the Traveller encounter system as much as possible, so I’m firm that the scene is an encounter with a non-committal adventurer. My question — Is there something different about the setting? — results in “no.” Is there something different about the adventurer? Mythic says “yes.” Hmm. Is it an alien? I consider this “unlikely,” but roll for it — nope, not an alien. Maybe she’s having a private meeting and Irv won’t be so welcome? Nope. Does she already know Irv? No, but just barely so. Is she trying not to be noticed? Again, no … but since this question allows me to surmise the opposite, I am going to assume the adventurer is trying to attract attention, but ultimately proving non-committal about … something.
Next I need to decide what the adventurer is on about. Is she part of a starship crew? I rate the answer “very likely” yes, and roll — the dice say no. Maybe a mercenary? Nope. Merchant? Yes! Now I’m starting to understand the scene. This person is in the merchant service, and she’s non-committal toward Irv because she runs into guys like him all the time.
To make the scene more interesting, I assume the merchant is both female and attractive (and the girl in the picture above will do) — if she’s trying to get attention, but non-committal toward Irv, that already gives the scene somewhere to go. What’s wrong with Irv? Not good enough for her? Let’s find out.
Irv slides up to the bar next to our merchant and the scene is finally ready to get moving.
Irv opens with smalltalk, mentioning he’s just out of the merchant service himself, seeing if he and Judith Clark (another mundane name!) have any colleagues in common. They do, but this doesn’t improve Judith’s disposition — she still seems interested in anyone but Irv. Irv knows when he is wasting his time, and slides back down the bar, but is still more than a little wounded when Judith practically throws herself at a young Marine that doesn’t do much more than give her a look. The two leave in a hurry, but something isn’t right, and certain that this isn’t the random hookup that it appears to be, Irv trails the two out of the bar.
there’s our jarhead
Now here’s where Mythic finally gives me something to work with. I ask “Is there violence?” and “Is it against the girl,” and get an emphatic indication that the violence is against the Marine … so following the principle that no event is truly random, I figure it goes down like this:
Just outside the bar, Judith drunkenly lurches against the Marine — and that’s definitely not right, because Irv was with her a moment before, and she wasn’t drunk. The Marine catches her, and Judith’s hand reaches up inside his coat. The Marine stiffens, like he’s been shocked, then half-slumps to the pavement. Judith catches him, then bundles him through the door of a silver late model hovercar that screams around the corner and halts at the curb. Of course it’s the same car that nearly ran Irv down last week. Irv isn’t spotted but he catches a glimpse of the driver and it’s the same face from before. The door slams shut and the car takes off.
Irv looks around for a cab, and luck is with him. It’s like an old movie as he leaps in the back and commands the driver to follow that car! The suspect car weaves off through traffic, heading away from the starport district and out of town. The cab driver starts to back off, but Irv waves fifty credits under the driver’s nose so he keeps up the pursuit. Once out of town it is harder to tail the car without being spotted, and the cab drops back a good way, nearly missing the turnoff where the silver car leaves the main highway and speeds up a private drive toward one of the estates that ring the city. The silver car shoots through a force gate which snaps shut behind it and the cab has to slide to a halt — Irv is certain they were spotted. He tells the driver to get out of there — fast.
a glimpse of the estate
On the way back to town, Irv asks the driver who lives in the estate. And again, because nothing is truly random or wasted in role playing, the driver replies that it belongs to Adorina Mattan — the celebrity Irv saw in the square last week, when his gun was spotted and he had to run from security.
Which seems like a good place to cut the scene …