Session 2: New Vistas in the Thel Sector is a game session report for Stars without Number: Revised Edition. We played via Zoom on .
The player characters gather information during the evening in Corinth. Note: We played this out partially via email, then worked through these questions in session.
- Tell us about the Grand Kall Theater?
- Performances at the Grand Kall Theater have stunning visuals and technique. Some think Suliat leverages off-world technology.
- What kind of artifacts have been found in ruins?
- Adventure tales abound of grand relics exhumed from beyond the wall in those centuries following the Scream. In recent years, scavengers have found few if any relices outside the citadel. Any relics that they do find invariably make their way to city central.
- The inhabitants of the Resplendent Citadel know that science sustains the perimeter, but hold it with religious reverence. People cross the wall to scavenge; Most return. No one has ever returned after night has fallen.
The characters sleep at the village of Corinth.
Erkunden Unit Two travels to the city with Christodoulos Argyros and Chloe Simonides. Sigh Redfeather brings a load of crops to sell in the city, towing the repulsor sled along; They improvise some wheels for the repulsor sled.
En route, Christo and Adolar Desch trade information. Adolar wants to know about psychics; I call for a DC 6 Cha/Trade, with a consequence of revelation. Adolar fails, and I reveal the following unwanted information:
The Resplendent Citadel proscribes any psychics, immediately executing anyone discovered with the talent. This practice descends from the Scream which brought madness to the psychics.
There was no discussion about training psychics, as though that aspect was lost to the people of the Resplendent Citadel.
Christo also offers that it is the insanity of the psychics that haunts the nights outside the border walls.
With the failed check I also increased the heat. I’m not certain how this will manifest. Perhaps Christo will betray them? Perhaps Christo, further in league with the PCs will inadvertently lead some faction to the PCs.
As they move from country side to the outskirts of the city, they notice the repurposing of materials. The outskirts are built from reclaimed materials (a ship’s hull, an advanced polymer panel, etc.); Patches are applied to buildings in a way to enhance the aesthetic. Similar to choosing a color patch of fabric to compliment your favorite pair of jeans. Gone is any sense of homogeneity.
As they move from outskirts to the middle, they see the city center rising some 8 to 10 stories. The buildings are from a past architecture, from this distance, they seem to be in well maintained state. From a distance, it does not appear that the buildings have been patched (Later they observe that maintenance on inner city buildings is done to blend into the architectural style).
With a bit of PC discussion, I tell the players that Suliat Adunola would not know they are coming.
Originally Christo and Chloe were going to part ways, but the PCs asked for help to sell their goods. The PCs agree to give Christo the repulsor sled when they leave planetside.
The characters secure housing and a place to keep their goods.
Looking at page 77 of Stars without Numbers: Revised “Lifestyles, Employees, and Services”, we work through expected costs. Four people at 2 weeks of common living, plus some bribes; They’ll want about 2500 Resplendent Citadel credits.
Referencing Table 194: Difficulty of Selling TL4 Goods on Efesos, the players discuss their approach and costs. They layout how Nestor Johnson often negotiates with Vern Shultz using his telepathy to nudge discussions.
The players spend a bit of time trying to determine what to sell, and based on the conversation I realize that the table introduces a lot of ambiguity around trying to get a certain amount of credits.
I tell them, assuming you get a result that allows a sale, I’ll let you adjust what you sell to achieve your dollar goal.
Christo takes them through the city to the Crow’s Nest, a cafe owned by twin sisters Theodora Pappas and Veladora Pappas.
We discussed that Pretech that detects telepathy has a specific metal, and is most likely to be available to the wealthy.
After a bit of discussion, they aim for DC 10. If they succeed, they’ll get a 500% return on the cost of goods. They decide to hold off on trading weapons or field communication.
Nestor Johnson begins the negotiation and things start going sour. Nestor rolled a 5 on their Trade DC 10. Without intervention, this would trigger an immediate consequence or conflict.
Vern Shultz, sensing the opportunity collapsing, presses their telepathy and gets an image best summarized as “Rebellion!”. The players add some military goods. Theodora agrees to purchase, but not at the amount they were hoping (the characters will get 200% of the cost of goods).
With this knowledge they shift and offer the following:
- 3 laser rifles (900)
- 6 power cells (60)
- Telekinetic recharger (250)
- 2 Medkits (200)
They sell the above for 2820 local credits. They also increase their heat by 1.
The characters sleep in the city.
Upon waking the character’s learn that people of the Resplendent Citadel uncovered an off-world spy ring. The spies were communicating via a tight-beam laser to a planetary satellite.
The players discuss this news for a bit, and decide to do a walk around the city to get the lay of the land. I ruled that by spending a watch investigating, I’d let them bank a future +1 to a roll. Also, they wanted to maybe pick up any rumors about the spy ring?
The players/characters wondered if perhaps they’re actions from last night, spoken about and repeated at gossip, became the spy ring.
During this watch I spent some time describing the Resplendent Citadel.
The Triumphant Promenade separates the Midcity of the Resplendent Citadel from the inner Cynosure of Resplendency.
The Midcity of the Resplendent Citadel bustles with street music, open air cafes, and vendors pushing hand-carts with reclaimed materials. The buildings each a unique construction, of complimentary pieces and artistic expression. I think of Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens on a multi-neighborhood scale. Urban gardens and orchards interweave amongst buildings and small fountains.
The Triumphant Promenade, a 100 foot wide ring of flagstones and manicured flower beds, creates a stark separation between the hodge podge of the Midcity and the homogeneity of the Cynosure. People walk the promenade, few cross from Midcity to Cynosure (or vice versa).
The Cynosure of Resplendency has a different rhythm. More homogenized. Much like a downtown dedicated to bankers and lawyers. One that empties at the close of office hours.
The buildings within the Cynosure show an older style, one that a history book would tell you is the Ascendent Kall style. It is obvious that maintaining these structures involves matching materials and designs to the original structures. People within the Cynosure wear for more muted clothes. Many people sit amongst the buildings and old trees writing or drawing in notebooks.
Within the Cynosure, the PCs make their way to the Grand Kall Theater, with a marquee of The Grand Spectacle. The broadside briefly describes the tale of the ascent of the Kall Duchy and bills “Stage Wizardry by Suliat.”
Keith notes that something appears to be pushing faster pace and speed than seems necessary.
For this watch, the characters are hoping to connect with Suliat without raising undo awareness (Connect/Cha DC 8). Nestor Johnson succeeds on his roll, and offers to buy Suliat dinner.
First, Suliat doesn’t know about their mission. She’s confesses to being a well-connected person. She mentions that they could check out either the Grand Kall Library or Grand Hall for more information.
She offers to secure everyone tickets to The Grand Spectacle. This is where we draw the session to a close.
Roses and Thorns
- Thorn: slow start, choosing non-confrontation
- Rose: limited items to sell choice, was great to escalate, the valuable items are the dangerous items
- Thorn: getting used to mechanics, thinking about approaches; A bit of a log-jam of what would I do as Vern or as Keith.
- Rose: appreciates the richly textured world (there are some factions in operation)
- Thorn: ambiguous planning, and what are you trying to accomplish
- Rose: there were more complications due to poor rolling
- Thorn: None, per se.
- Rose: trade system, going to the city and how it unfolded
- Thorn: Hard to steer, I haven’t been framing watches as aggressively as I could have; We agreed that taking a bit of time at each watch to articulate a plan/goal would be a good thing. Then set in motion that intention.
- Rose: I loved seeing the approach emerge for Vern and Nestor
- Starting Heat: 1
- Ending Heat: 3
- Session Started At: Day 1, Watch 4
- Next Session Starts At: Day 3, Watch 4