Session 4: New Vistas in the Thel Sector is a game session report for Stars without Number: Revised Edition. We played via Zoom on .
A Known Facts Refresher
Here are a few known facts that I jotted down before starting the session. These are facts known to the players.
- The Citadel Attorneys arrested a cadre of off-worlders.
- Yianna Stephanidis is allowing Nestor Johnson to help in an interrogation of the off-worlders.
- There were three laser attacks during Day 4, Watch 1.
- The Nikolaidis family is looking to own land in the citadel.
- There is no explicitly stated connection between the captured two observers, and the off-worlders.
Nestor Johnson and Sigh Redfeather brush off the woman that they had tackled; They later learn she’s named Melania. Nestor, speaking in a native accent, asks Melania she’s doing there. I ask the players: How in this moment does Nestor know that Melania’s awestruck by Nestor? She’s shifted her body language from closed off to open-stance. Nestor’s charm continues to work wonders. Melania mentions that she’s an investigator for the Citadel Chronicle. Melania talks about lasers, off-worlders, and a bird-face child rumored to be in town. Nestor mentions that he’s operating as a consultant helping Yianna.
Vern Shultz and Adolar Desch brush off the man they’ve tackled; They later learn his name is Vassilios. With their off-world accent, Vern and Adolar ask “Why are you still lurking?”
Vassilios responds with a litanty of questions: You’re not from around here, where are you from? Are you with those Five Captured Off-Worlders?
We spend a bit of time framing the scene to make the conversations easier. The PCs re-assembles and the six of them all talk.
We talk through some questions and approaches to consider. First, the group agrees that their standard operating procedure is that they will readily share easily discovered information. Their job is to get the coordinates for the laboratory; they do not have an a mandate of secrecy.
In general, the PCs want to know more about the following situations:
- Property rights situation?
- Where are the laser rifles?
- Is this related to the Fall? A mural in the Grand Kall Library referenced the Fall.
With the above in mind, we return to the fiction, and establish positions. Adolar’s keeping an eye on the perimeter, while Sigh attempts to lie low. Vern’s watching the conversation for any details and Nestor’s engaging the two investigators.
We fire off a quick round of skill checks:
Adolar needs to make a DC 8 Notice check. A consequence is Revelation; Fortunately, Adolar succeeds and there’s no complications. I’m framing a successful Notice in this case as you notice that no ones watching. A failure would be a further unravelling.
I call for Sigh to make a Sneak test opposed by Vassilios and Melania. Cost will be the complication. Alas, Sigh fails, and Melania blurts out that “Oh, you have a Crowman in your midst.” The group quickly challenges the prejudice, asking where she got her information.
This was a great moment of role-playing. We haven’t established how the Kenku fit in the cosmology. But, the players were quick to not let a misnaming stand. Sigh is not a “Crowman” but a Kenku.
Melania explains the stories of the Crowmen. These recountings come from the books she’s read. She’s has no personal experiences with Kenku, but Melania’s framing is certainly Orientalist.
As Vern keeps on eye on the conversation, Nestor, Melania, and Vassilios talk. Vern fails his notice checks, so doesn’t learn anything interesting.
Nestor, on the other hand, clobbers the opposed Talk roll with Melania; Nestor gets to keep any secrets and Melania exposes more information.
Regarding the property, they learn that the Nikolaidis family have a Baroness in their lineage. They begin to suspect that the Nikolaidis family is testing the archaic laws, perhaps to determine if they can assert authority.
They learn that there are numerous archaic laws written at or around the Fall. But, in general, realizing that they needed to work together to solve more urgent problems, these laws slipped from prominence. After all, they convered records from digital to analogue. Who knows what that catalog/index looks like. The more I’m running the Resplendent Citadel, the more I think about the “Devil’s Due” from Star Trek: Next Generation.
The characters also learn that when the mobs confronted the assailants (and mob justice murdered them) the Citadel Attorney claimed the laser rifles.
They also learn that the Fall relates to an event 600 years ago. This aligns with when the Scream occurred.
As the conversation flows, Nestor Johnson mentions again that he’s working with Yianna Stephanidis and the Citadel Attorney.
They notice that Vassilios’s eyes light up at this delicious scoop; Free agents off-worlders and natives are working with the attorneys. However, Nestor convinces Vassilios to sit on that scoop. Instead they agree to feed each other information.
Vassilios shares that they know who might have released more guns into the Citadel: Theodora Pappas and Veladora Pappas. The owners of the Crow’s Nest and the people that bought the laser rifles from the PCs.
In two days time day 6, watch 4 , they agree to meet at the Frollicking Giant, a tavern in Midcity.
Following their standard operating procedures, they return to their apartment, check that everthing is in its place, and settle in for a night’s sleep.
I roll on the Table 196: Heat Check, and there’s no event.
Watch 2 and Watch 3
In the previous session, I said one of my lines and veils is torture. If they want to apply that tactic, let me know, and I’ll give a skill and a DC. We’ll resort to a dice roll. The group agreed and said that’s not their style, but it was good to know.
For this watch, the group decides to split up. Adolar will explore the Citadel and scope out both Frollicking Giant and the Chronicle.
Sigh’s going to work on a directional tracking device key to the energy parameters the laser rifles. This being a low tech world, they figure there will be a few energy signatures.
Vern and Nestor head to the Citadel Attorney offices, to meet with Yianna and interview the Five Captured Off-Worlders.
As Yianna takes them to an interview room she explains that “Zoe” appears to be their leader, and they’ll interview them one at a time.
Yianna, Vern and Nestor enter the room and begin interrogating “Zoe”. Nestor seeks to establish a rapport with Zoe; He drops some off-world words that might build a connection. Vern, presented as a mute, continues to stoically observe the room.
We learn that the Citadel has done away with executions. They instead prefer to exile those guilty of capital crimes. As they planet-bound, this means sending them over the wall; From which no one has returned.
We pan to Adolar, he’s made it to the Citadel Chronicle. He’s curious about the kind of newspaper. At the Chronicle, there are two broadsheets posted. One from this week and another a week prior.
Posted beside the broadsheets is a map of the Citadel with 50 locations highlighted. The map legend names those 50 points as the place where heralds read and share the latest broadsheet. People gathered also share their news and discuss the week. One of the locations is the Frollicking Giant.
The scope of the Chronicle is cultural reporting as well as a few terse notes about news. While not an apparent propaganda paper, it’s definitely not a hard hitting newspaper.
Adolar heads over to the Frollicking Giant, to gain an understanding of the streets and geography.
We pan to Sigh, he’s preparing to modify his datapad to create a directional tracking device. I call for a DC 8 Fix, the consequence being that “Yes, you have a tracker, but it’s not going to be easy to restore the previous functions of your data pad.”
Sigh exceeds the DC 8 Fix, and has a device ready to track down the batter packs for laser rifles.
Back to the interview, Nestor tries to convince Yianna to leave the room, so he can further question Zoe. The silver tongued spell Nestor wove over Yianna faulters; She begins to see how much she’s compromised and begins to push back. Nester cast no spell, but instead relied on his skilled diplomacy and charm, which has worked well these past sessions.
Yianna realizes she’s broken policies, and pulls Nestor out of the room. Leaving Vern and Zoe, an oversight that piles on Yianna’s indiscretions.
In the hall, Yianna explains the bind she’s put herself in. And that this needs to end. Nestor seeks to stall.
Vern breaks his silence, and tries to see if he can glean anything from Zoe. He begins asking lots of questions about affiliations and who they’re working for.
While doing that, he activates his telepathy, and seeks to hear the surface thoughts of Zoe.
Vern gets one word “Parzival.”
As the PCs work for New Vistas, a subsidiary of a Perimeter Agency, they know quickly recall that Parzival was an unbraked AI vanquished over 800 years ago. They also know that AI can create quantum shards, and establish a backup version of themselves.
We lave the session with Nestor and Yianna returning into the room.
I had thought about not revealing Parzival, but instead revealing an intermediary; Likewise, I could’ve let with just the word and require some research or tests for learning more about Parzival.
There was certainly an intermediate term I could’ve introduced. However, instead of holding onto ideas, I’m casting them into the game. The general philosophy being: Don’t leave cool ideas in your GM notebook, bring them into play.
There’s a lot going on in the Resplendent Citadel, with off-world factions taking an interest in the once Ducal seat of the Kall Duchy.
- Starting Heat
- Ending Heat
- Session Started At
- Day 4, Watch 4
- Session Ended At
- Day 5, Watch 3