Session 5: New Vistas in the Thel Sector is a game session report for Stars without Number: Revised Edition. We played via Zoom on .
We played our last session on October 13th. We spent some time catching up with each other and working through a recap.
In the previous session they just heard the word “Parzival” from Zoe, an off-worlder.
Nestor and Yianna return to the interrogation room. Vern non-verbally tells Nestor that something big is amiss. Yianna escorts them out of the Citadel Attorney’s office.
They spend this time plotting, scheming, and securing gear for a day trip.
They want to know more about the orchard currently contested by the Nikolaidis family.
The plan is to spend the second watch travelling to the orchard, scanning it the third, and returning on the fourth watch. Once back, they’d do some research at the library.
While travelling, Sigh will also be using his jury-rigged datapad to attempt to locate energy signatures.
Per the Heat Track procedures, I have them roll a d8+d12 and add their current score of 6. They get a 21—”Activity that highlights people are looking.”
As they’re passing through the Cynosure of Resplendency, they see a sketch of Sigh posted in a few different places: “Have you seen this creature? If so, the attorney’s are interested.”
Since they’re leaving both the midcity and the Cynosure, I figured I’d have them describe how their leaving, and roll some dice. At stake, a chance to reduce their Heat!
For this skill challenge, we have the following:
- Nestor’s dropping back and observing the rest of the group. His plan is to start talking with anyone that appears to take interest in Sigh and Adolar. (Talk DC 8)
- Sigh’s parading as an elderly person. (Sneak DC 8)
- Vern’s scanning the immediate area, steering them through the crowd. (Notice DC 8)
- Adolar’s helping walk Sigh (Sneak DC 8)
We do a bit of world building. Harkening back to the small gift giving rituals during exchanges, we establish that the elderly will often wear bandoleer to hold a few minor trinkets. We also establish that this is a distinctly walking society; No apparent beasts of burden.
Nestor and Adolar succeed, but Sigh and Vern fail. They won’t be reducing their heat.
Vern leads the group smack into two of the library monitors that had previously accousted Sigh and Adolar.
Using the Soft Horizon model for a group conflict, I want one final skill check to determine the outcome of this little scene. Adolar offers up a solution, and attempts to test Sneak.
We frame the moment as such:
Adolar notices the guards and the monitors have a moment of recognition. Adolar quickly drops back and gets lost in a small group, with the goal of blending in. The monitors would then second guess themselves and proceed.
Sounds like a plan. Adolar succeeds on his Sneak, the player characters slip out of the Cynosure of Resplendency, heading to the orchard.
Along the way, Sigh’s checking his gadge for electro-magnetic energy in the targeted spectrum. They scan and find nothing along the way. I decide that on an 11+ on 2d6, they’d pick up some signature.
Enroute there see a few small communities similar to Corinth. The small community that met them as they landed on Efesos.
They arrive in the area trying to sleuth out the more specific location of the orchard.
I ask them to lay out their plan:
- Sigh’s going to fine tune his gadget (Fix)
- Vern and Alexandros are consulting their science knowledge (Know)
- Adolar’s taking instructions from Vern on what to look for (Notice)
Geographically and population/building wise the orchard is unique. They would guess that there should be a small community around here.
Sigh picks up an electro-magnetic signal. They travel deeper into an untended part of the orchard. Before they tromp too far, Adolar checks to see if there’s any recent traffic. Failed Notice check. I take this as an opportunity to spring an encounter.
From up in a tree 20 meters or so away, a person (whom they later learn to be Ioannis) hails them: “What are you doing here with that little thing?”
Nestor Johnson drives to flip the script by responding, “We’re supposed to be here, what are you doing here?”
That’s a tall order, I call for a Talk DC 12. Nestor rolls a 13. Meanwhile, Vern scans Ioannis’s mind, and gets the word “Brother.”
A man climbs out of the equivalent of a dear blind. He has a bolt action rifle that he’s non-aggressively, but is a bit nervous. He’s clearly a game hunter, and not a sniper.
“I’m Ionnais, and what are you doing with that little thing?”
The group has a quick conversation if they should flash their weapons. They decide to press a conversation.
From Vern, “we’re here in regards to Parzival.”
“Who the fuck is Parzival?” At this point, Adolar’s able to find another dear blind 100+ yards away. He sees a glint of something.
Vern asks, “then what are you doing here?” I call for a Talk DC 6 to press Ionnais from a bit off kilter to ready to talk. Vern rolls a natural 12.
“We’re supposed to be keeping an eye on thing. My aunt told us to keep an eye. We’re to keep an eye on stuff until things are done.”
Vern presses a bit more, “Why don’t you go back to what you were doing, and we’ll let you know when we’re done. We’re still waiting for things to move in the city. You know how slow city can get.”
Ioannis responds, “Yeah, I expect as much from Aunt Niki.”
He climbs back in his dear blind. At this point, the characters commit to searching the area while under the observation of two armed hunters.
They start looking at the orchard. They find a few blind spots and have some quick conversations. They also find a 30 foot surface that’s radiating an energy signature; It appears to be below ground.
They search the area, and find what they suspect to be a Pre-Tech non-tarnishing metal that a tree root was growing over.
At this point, the conjecture is that the Nikolaidis family is trying to keep people out of here.
They have a discussion about “Do we the characters want to call in the coordinates and be done?”
They agree that their characters are not done with their employer, New Vistas.
I explained to the players that I’m looking at them building up a case that this is the laboratory. According to the dossier, their job is to identify coordinates and not enter laboratory.
Finding the Pre-Tech metal would give them a bonus to the roll that they found the right place. Likewise, the electro-magnetic signal would also be a bonus. I’m thinking they need a 12+ on 2d6.
As they’re leaving, the characters opt to share some non-information about the property and buddy up about hunting.
The characters capture the coordinates of the location in the orchard.
- The characters are still going to back tonight.
- Meet with the reporter.
- They’re going to prowl the city.
- Gather more information in the city about the orchard.
Maybe at the end of the next session it would be time to call in the next coordinates.
I had concerns about picking up a game after six weeks, but we worked our way through. We’re having fun with the collaborative world building. I’m going with a Dying Earth vibe, trying to make it somewhat alien but also recognized as human.
The group definitely favors sneaking and talking their way through things. While Stars without Number is a malleable system, I’m running this with a mindset of Soft Horizon, Burning Wheel, and Dungeon World.
It’s refershing having characters seek to first talk or sneak their way out of a problem.