Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The Ace of Spades Campaign - Raid on Sterling part 06

Entering the Caliburnus Star System.
The journey time from Wellbefallen to Breuse was just under five days with The Ace of Spades travelling at FTL:16. Breuse was the nearest of eight planets to the star, Caliburnus. As soon as The Ace of Spades dropped out of hyperspace, it emerged in a busy system. Freighters and ore carriers plied the spacelanes between the planets, small, fast interceptors and attack ships engaged in mock dogfights, while drop ships staged practice drops against Breuse itself and two other planets, Churchill and Sarsen. Lynda Pelligrosso and Sharuna Randall, who were on sensor duty, were kept busy keeping track of all of the activity.
Kimberley was instructed to wait in a holding pattern until the system controllers could plot a course for her to follow. She invited Mearc Sterling to join her on the bridge. He gratefully accepted the invitation and arrived promptly, accompanied by his companion, Sheas Danelish. Also on the bridge were pilot Storm Galloway, gunners Celeste and Jeanette Grey and ship's security chief, Julia Frostorm.
The time spent in-system passed quickly and was enlivened by three incidents of note. Firstly, Lynda spotted two huge, bulky ore freighters bearing the markings of Hoag-Warner GmbH moving out-system. This in itself was of no interest to the young research scientist. But what did draw her attention were the two corvettes that were escorting the freighters. They also bore the markings of Hoag-Warner GmbH, but showed signs of recent combat: large patches of fresh unpainted steel where the armour was patched. Lynda remembered that these were the same type of ship that had waylaid The Walleran a couple of weeks ago. She relayed her findings to Kimberley.
"What do you think, Kimberley?" she asked. "Do you think they could have been the ones who attacked that ghost ship, The Walleran?"
"It's certainly possible," Kimberley agreed, "but we'd need more proof. Log it anyway."
"Already done."
"Aren't you going to go after them?" Mearc asked. "If they did kill those poor folks on The Walleran, they need to be brought to justice."
"Much as I'd like to, they're too far away and I am not going to go chasing after them," Kimberley replied with a shrug. "I'm sorry but getting you home is my number one priority right now."
"Yeah, I understand" Mearc said with a resigned sigh. "That makes sense."
The second incident involved a standard Class IV ore freighter, whose markings declared it to be the Jessica Lane, property of Trans-Sol Incorporated.
"Hey, you slowpokes!" its belligerent captain announced over the comms channel. "Move out of my way. I'm coming through."
"You didn't say the magic word," Kimberley replied, all sweetness and nice.
"Huh?" was the bewildered response.
"You didn't say please," Kimberley said. She was used to dealing with trouble makers and she knew straight away that this guy was a bully, used to getting his own way. He didn't intimidate her and she felt he needed a lesson in civility and good manners. "I'm not moving until you say please."
The Jessica Lane was moving very fast when it shot past The Ace of Spades missing it by the narrowest of margins. It had to swerve to avoid hitting the scout ship.
"Fuck you, bitch!" the captain snarled.
"Ooh, an intelligent response," Kimberley said sarcastically. "Did you learn that one at play school?"
"Outta my way, bitch," he grumbled. "I ain't got time to deal with you."
"Well, it's been a real pleasure chatting with you," Kimberley smiled. "Y'all have a nice day, y'hear."
He didn't reply. Communication was abruptly cut off.
"What an asshole!" Storm said as she shook her head in disgust.
"Sadly, there are a lot of them about," Kimberley noted.
The rest of the folk on the bridge chuckled and nodded in agreement.
The third incident was the one that caused the most concern.
"I'm picking up a sensor reading of a Class III freighter heading out-system," Sharuna announced. "She's an independent trader called the Savannah Byrche."
"Did you say the Savannah Byrche?" Mearc asked expectantly.
"Yes," Sharuna replied. "Do you know her?"
"Indeed I do," Mearc answered. "We use her to export some of our produce to clients out-system."
"That's interesting," Lynda interjected,"because according to my readings, she's running empty. Her cargo holds are empty."
"But that can't be," Sheas retorted. "She wouldn't leave empty."
"Unless..." Mearc said with a frown. "...something bad has happened at the colony!"
"Oh, my god, Mearc!" Sheas cried in concern. "What could possibly have happened?"
"I honestly don't know," Mearc said dejectedly. "We have to get down there. Quickly."
"We will," Kimberley said reassuringly. "We'll sort this out soon."
The mood on board had changed suddenly from excited anticipation to worrisome concern.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Starship Combat in N.E.W. - a Tutorial

 What follows is a detailed account of the encounter that I played recently for my The Ace of Spades Campaign featuring a short battle between The Ace of Spades scout ship and The Polecat pirate patrol ship. I'm posting this to show how starship combat works in the N.E.W. RPG... and because I was asked to. 😊 There are two ways of conducting starship combat in N.E.W., just as there are two ways of running ground-based combat. They are Theatre of the Mind or Tactical Combat. Whilst starship combat can be played out on a hex map with positions and movements carefully plotted, Theatre of the Mind can result in faster, more cinematic, albeit less tactical, starship combats. Theatre of the Mind and Tactical Combat are fundamentally very similar, with one major difference; movement and positioning are described narratively in the former rather than being based on the position of a miniature on a hex map. What I'll be describing here is Tactical Combat. Tactical Combat is especially useful if there are many ships involved, as their relative positions can be clearly seen.
A hex on a star map represents 1 kilometre. The movement phase has the pilot move the vessel a number of hexes up to its SPEED (as indicated in its stat block) on the map. Ships can accelerate or decelerate a number of hexes up to to the ship's SPEED stat. Turning one hex side  counts as one hex of movement. However, for a more realistic approach, you can use the optional Newtonian Movement rules, which is what I did. At first glance they look complicated but actually they're pretty simple to use. I'll explain it fully when it crops in the gameplay example.
The round structure for Newtonian Movement differs slightly to that of regular movement in that all movement occurs simultaneously, followed by all actions. The Newtonian round looks like this -
  1. All ships make INITIATIVE checks.
  2. All ships move in reverse INITIATIVE order (from lowest to highest starting with the ship that lost). 
  3. All ships take actions in forward INITIATIVE order (from highest to lowest starting with the ship that won)
  4. Return to Step 1.
The sequence creates more realistic movement, but allows ships which win INITIATIVE to make tactical movement decisions based on what they see their opponents doing. The movement takes place simultaneously but is resolved in reverse order to give an informational advantage to faster ships.
This turn was essentially a free turn for the pirates on The Polecat. I was working on the assumption that the crew of The Ace of Spades thought the unknown ship was not a threat when Lynda picked it up on her sensor scan, even though it was approaching them.
So, Mors Katajak, the captain of The Polecat had his gunner fire a Flamespear Photonic Torpedo at The Ace of Spades. The range was 16 hexes, which was not good for the pirates as a Flamespear only has a range increment of 4 hexes. For each range increment beyond the first it suffered a -1d6 to hit penalty and so it would incur a -3d6 penalty. The gunner had a combined Logic and Gunnery skill score of 4d6. To this he added +1d6 because of the weapon's stat bonus and a further +1d6 because he was firing a forward arc facing weapon. He also added a further +1d6 from his LUCK pool to give him a total of 7d6. However, this was reduced to 4d6 because of the -3d6 range penalty. The Ace of Spades had a Defence score of 22, so he needed to roll 22 or better on 4d6. It was possible but he only rolled a 14 so he missed. Missiles and Torpedoes move 10 hexes per turn and if they fail to reach their target in two turns they automatically miss. This missile couldn't have hit The Ace of Spades this turn because of the range, but it could have hit next turn if he'd rolled better.
As soon as the Photonic Torpedo was fired at The Ace of Spades, the crew knew they were dealing with a hostile ship and so reacted accordingly next turn.
Both pilots rolled for INITIATIVE. Mors rolled a 19 on 5d6 but Storm Galloway rolled a 32 on 8d6. The Polecat would move first. It maintained its SPEED of 6 and closed the range to 10 hexes.
This is where I made my one mistake of the combat. I should have moved The Ace of Spades next but instead I made the actions for the The Polecat. I forgot that both ships moved simultaneously. To be fair, it made no difference to the overall outcome. Seeing as this was my very first starship combat I think I did well to just make this one slip up.
A starship can have as many actions as its CLASS or the number of player characters on board, whichever is highest. The Polecat was a Class III patrol ship with no PCs on board so was limited to 3 actions. Mors and one crew member attempted to spot where The Ace of Spades was in order to give their gunner a better chance to hit. A spotter makes a Perception check against the Defence of the target ship and if successful, all allies on board gain a +1d6 bonus to hit that target until the start of the spotter's next turn. Both men had Perception scores of 4d6 and both failed to score a 22 or better. They rolled 14 and 16.
The pirate gunner fired a second Flamespear Photonic Torpedo, this time at range 10 hexes, which gave him a -2d6 penalty for the range increments. As before, he added +1d6 for the weapon stat, +1d6 for the forward firing arc and +1d6 from his LUCK pool, which gave him 5d6 to score 22 or better. He rolled a 17, so he missed again.
The Ace of Spades had a SPEED score of 9 but was only moving at SPEED 5, so could move 5 hexes this turn. However, Storm wanted to position the ship so that she was facing The Polecat. This would mean turning two hex sides so she was pointing in the right direction. This brings us to how Newtonian Movement works. Instead of each hex side turned counting as one hex of movement, the turning circle is calculated using the following formula - SPEED x CLASS divided by 10 (you just multiply the two and then use the first digit, in other words, ignore any fractions). The Ace of Spades was moving at SPEED 5 and was a CLASS IV ship so 5 times 4 equals 20, divided by 10 equals 2. It had to move 2 hexes before turning one hex side. So it moved 2 hexes forward, turned to the right one hex side, moved forward 2 hexes, turned to the right one hex side again and then moved forward 1 hex. Note that in Newtonian Movement the actual turning is free. Also note that a ship at SPEED 0 can still rotate one hex side for free.
Now the crew of The Ace of Spades got to make one action each in order of INITIATIVE from highest to lowest. With a crew of 10, I could take 10 separate actions. Yes, that is a lot! Although it had a crew of 13, only 10 could be actively on duty at any one time. I decided that Danica, Katja and Rebecca would be off duty at this time. They were more suited to ground-based actions. These were the results of the INITIATIVE rolls I made listed from highest to lowest - Storm on 32, Kimberley on 21, Julia on 20, Sharuna on 19, Celeste and Jeanette on 18, Kyran on 15, Lynda on 13, Gwendoline on 12 and Judith on 10. Any character can do anything on their INITIATIVE turn. They can fire a weapon, use sensors, do some engineering, perform medical aid, etc. The only restriction is that any given system (such as a weapon) can only be used once.
Storm used her Evasive Flying exploit, which granted her a Defence bonus equal to her AGI attribute dice pool to The Ace of Spades. This was 3d6, so she increased the ship's Defence from 22 to 25. Note that ship movement is essentially free - it does not constitute the pilot's action for that turn. So using her exploit in that way was an excellent choice.
Kimberley decide to use her action as a spotter for her two gunners, Celeste and Jeanette. She had a Perception score of 4d6 but decided to add +2d6 from her LUCK pool so that she was rolling 6d6 against The Polecat's Defence score of 22. She rolled a 22, exactly what was needed! Celeste and Jeanette would receive a +1d6 bonus to hit the pirate vessel this turn.
Julia should have gone next but there was nothing I could think of for her to do, so she did nothing. If Kimberley had failed on her spotter roll, I'd have had Julia make an attempt to spot The Polecat.
Sharuna used her action to make an electronic attack against the pirates and she targetted their forward shields, hoping to reduce them to make it easier to damage them. She had to make a LOG check against the target's Electronic Defence, which was only 16. Compare that to The Ace of Spades which had an Electronic Defence of 32. Sharuna had a LOG score of 4d6. To this she added +1d6 for the Luxury rating of The Ace of Spades plus +1d6 for her White Hat exploit to give her 6d6. She rolled a 27. This easily beat the score of 16 required to hit but was not a critical hit. I ruled that she did enough damage to reduce The Polecat's shields by 1d6 (I rolled a 3), dropping it from SOAK:7 to SOAK:4. This would prove to be decisive when Jeanette went next.
Celeste and Jeanette both rolled an 18 for their INITIATIVE. Technically, Celeste should have acted before Jeanette because in a tie, the person with the highest AGI attribute goes first. Celeste had an AGI attribute of 10, whereas Jeanette's was only 6. However, Kimberley ordered that Jeanette fire first. Guns use the INT dice pool plus Gunnery skill to hit, whereas missiles use the LOG dice pool plus Gunnery skill. Jeanette had dice pools of 3d6 in both, so started with 6d6. To this she added +1d6 for the Redsword Phaser Beam stats, +1d6 for firing a forward arc weapon, +1d6 for the ship's Luxury rating and +1d6 for the spotter bonus from Kimberley. The range to The Polecat was 7 hexes, which put it at short range for this weapon. So there was no penalty for the range increment. She rolled 10d6 against The Polecat's Defence of 22 and scored a 36 - a critical hit with three sixes. The Redsword did 5d6 heat damage and I rolled a 22. From this, The Polecat was able to SOAK 4 for its forward shields but the 18 that penetrated was exactly enough to reduce its Superstructure score of 18 to 0. That would have dire consequences, as we will see. In addition, it also suffered 1d6 casualties. I rolled a 5 and split them as 2 crew dead and 3 troopers dead. Plus, I rolled a critical hit. Using the rules from the Starship Combat FAQ document, I rolled 3d6 to determine the effect of the critical hit. I rolled a 10, which resulted in a Helm hit, meaning that The Polecat could not turn any more.
Celeste did not act this turn. Celeste would have fired a missile at The Polecat if Kimberley hadn't ordered her to hold fire.
Kyran increased the power of the forward shields of The Ace of Spades from 9 to 11 by using her Reinforce Shield exploit.
Lynda made a sensor scan to determine the effects of the damage The Polecat suffered. This was a LOG check plus Computers skill, which gave her 6d6, plus +1d6 for the sensors stats, plus +1d6 for the Luxury rating of The Ace of Spades for a total of 8d6. I rolled a 27 for her, which succeeded. She relayed the damage report to Kimberley.
Gwendoline and Judith stood by, ready to treat any casualties The Ace of Spades may have suffered. Fortunately their services were not required.
A ship reduced to 0 Superstructure must start a fast (4-6) countdown from a dice pool equal to its CLASS, after which it explodes, killing everybody on board. The time taken by the countdown period can be used to evacuate the ship. The Polecat, being a Class III patrol ship had a dice pool of 3d6. For every 4, 5 or 6 rolled, it would lose 1d6 from its dice pool. Once the dice pool reached 0, the ship would explode. On this turn I rolled 5, 4 and 1. That was bad news for the pirates! On the next turn, its dice pool would only be 1d6.
I didn't bother rolling INITIATIVE this turn as there was nothing The Polecat could do. It was dead. It came to a full stop and so did The Ace of Spades. I gave the remaining crew of the pirate vessel a chance to get away via the ship's escape pods. I had each person make a LUCK Routine (10) roll on 3d6 to see if they reached an escape pod this turn. Two crew members and four troopers succeeded. Mors Katajak, the pirate captain, was one of the five people who failed to reach an escape pod. For the countdown check I rolled a 6, which reduced the dice pool down to zero. The Polecat exploded doing damage equal to the power of all of its engines. This was 18 for its subluminal Ion engine and 16 for its hyperdrive engine for a total of 34. The damage was reduced by 50% for each hex of distance from the centre of the explosion - thus 17 at 1 hex range, 8 at 2 hexes range, 4 at 3 hexes range, 2 at 4 hexes range and 1 at 5 hexes range. The Ace of Spades was 7 hexes away so suffered no damage from the explosion.
That ended the combat. For me, this was very much a learning experience. I don't know why, but I have always avoided starship combat in previous sci-fi role-playing games. This time, however, I knew I wanted to include it as part of my campaign. The rules really appealed to me as soon as I'd read them and so I was keen to try them out as soon as possible. Yes, this was a very one-sided fight as The Polecat was totally outclassed by The Ace of Spades. I accept that, but that was how it was written in the scenario. The PCs were supposed to win, otherwise it would have been a very short scenario. But for an introduction to starship combat it served its purpose extremely well and above all, it whetted my appetite for more.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

The Ace of Spades Campaign - Raid on Sterling part 05

The Polecat Pounces
"That's a Flamespear Photonic Torpedo they've launched," Storm announced. "It does not have a lock on us. I repeat, it does not have a lock on us. If we maintain this course it will miss."
"That's a relief," Kimberley gratefully said as she sat alongside Storm in the co-pilot's seat. Kimberley was the captain of  The Ace of Spades Class IV scout ship but Storm was a much better pilot than her. Storm was an ex-UFP ace pilot with considerable flight and combat experience.
"Kimberley to all crew," Kimberley said as she opened a ship-wide communications, "Battle stations, battle stations! We are under attack by a hostile ship. Prepare for combat."
"Are we going to engage them?" Jeanette asked from her gunnery console.
"Hell, yeah!" Kimberley replied grimly. "We'll teach those bastards not to mess with us."
"Good," Jeanette acknowledged with a wry smile. She was looking forward to a bit of action.
The enemy vessel was called The Polecat, a Class III patrol ship crewed by a small group of pirates led by Mors Katajak. He was under instructions to stop Mearc Sterling from returning to Breuse. Although much smaller than The Ace of Spades, he was confident The Polecat could do enough damage to cripple her and allow his team to board and capture Mearc and his two colleagues. Mors was in command of a crew of six and he had a section of ten pirate troopers ready for boarding actions.
He closed the distance to The Ace of Spades and ordered his gunner to launch a second Photonic Torpedo at it. Unfortunately for him, it also failed to achieve a lock on and it narrowly shot past its target.
"Damn and blast!" he cursed. "Next time you won't be so lucky!"
Storm maintained the speed of The Ace of Spades at 5,000km, whilst turning the ship to face The Polecat, jinking all the way to make her a harder target to hit.
Kimberley left the manoeuvring to her more skilled colleague and acted as a spotter for Jeanette and Celeste who were manning the ship's Redsword Phaser Beam and Stingbird Cluster Missile Launcher respectively.
"I have target acquisition data for you, Jeanette and Celeste," she said. "I'm sending it to your controls now."
"Don't fire just yet," Sharuna warned. "Let me try and weaken their shields first."
Her computer hacking skills were the main reason that Kimberley had hired her. Her nimble fingers danced across her keyboard as she made an electronic attack against The Polecat. Seconds later she let out a triumphant cry. "YES! That's going to hurt him a lot. I've reduced his forward shield output by half. Now fry that son-of-a-bitch!"
"Way to go, girl," Jeanette complimented the young hacker. "Now let's show those scum just what we can do."
By now the two ships were at short range for The Ace of Spades' twin weapon systems. Jeanette made sure that her target was in the centre of her cross-hairs before pressing the firing button. The Redsword Phaser Beam shot out with devastating accuracy and power. It punched right through The Polecat's forward bulkhead, melting metal and crippling the bridge as it pierced the pirate vessel, causing further catastrophic damage. Two crew members and three troopers were killed instantly. Mors Katajak had no choice but to issue the order that every captain dreaded, "Abandon ship! Abandon ship!"
"Do you want me to finish them off, Kimberley?" Celeste asked. Her finger hovered expectantly over the firing button of the missile control system.
"No, there's no need, Celeste," Kimberley replied. "They're well and truly screwed. Look, they're launching escape pods."
Moments later The Polecat was engulfed in a massive explosion as its power plant reached critical mass. Only six escape pods were launched. Two crew members, neither of whom was Mors Katajak, and four troopers were the sole survivors.
"What do you want to do about those escape pods?" Storm asked.
"We leave 'em," Kimberley answered, "We don't have the capacity to rescue them all. Besides which, this is one of the major entry points into the Saga star sector. Someone will be along soon enough. They can deal with them."
"Fair enough," Storm said, not bothered either way.
"Aren't you at all curious to know who they were?" Mearc asked, "Or why they attacked us?"
"Given what happened to The Walleran, I strongly suspect they were from the same group who attacked her," Kimberley replied. "More than likely they were mercenaries or pirates looking to stop you from returning home."
"Oh!" was all Mearc could say. He had the look of a very worried man as he headed back to his quarters.

(Note. As I mentioned before this was the first ever starship combat I have played in my life! I read and re-read the rules until I was sure I was familiar with them before playing this brief encounter. The outcome was never in any doubt - The Ace of Spades was much better than The Polecat in almost every respect. But, the game went well and it certainly was a lot of fun to play. Now that I have tried starship combat once it won't be the last time. There was much I liked about the rules. They are very much geared towards role-playing, with all of the crew being allowed to get in on the action, if they wanted to. I did wonder about including any rules references in my narrative but in the end decided to leave them all out. The story is more important than the dice rolls or games mechanics. If anyone is interested in how starship combat works in N.E.W. I could certainly do a tutorial. I made extensive notes of this encounter including every dice roll I made. Let me know if it's something you'd want to read. My feeling is that it would have little appeal unless you're a newcomer to the rules system.)

Thursday, 5 October 2017

The Raid on Sterling NPCs

I'm taking a short break from my The Ace of Spades Campaign, whilst I sort out the narrative and photos for my first ever starship combat. However, I'm still sticking with the Raid on Sterling scenario by showcasing the main NPCs that feature in it. Three of them have been seen already and the other two have been mentioned in the text.
At the far left is Mearc Sterling. Mearc is an unflappable human farmer who loves animals. He was tasked by his father to seek out a group of mercenaries to help defend his colony against bandit raiders. It was he who hired Kimberley and the crew of The Ace of Spades. This figure, which I bought many years ago, is a Spacelords Civilian and is currently available from Moonraker Miniatures, (see here - http://moonrakerminiatures.com/personalities.htm )
Next up is Royce Tavahi. Royce is a brawny human scout who distrusts outsiders almost to the point of paranoia. Royce got into trouble right from the start when he pointed a gun at Julia - bad move! He means well but too often he acts before he thinks. His figure is one of four Male Crazies and Cultists produced by Acheson Creations (see here - https://www.achesoncreations.com/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&view=productdetails&virtuemart_product_id=646&virtuemart_category_id=55 )
The third person who travelled with Mearc and Royce to find aid was Sheas Danelish. She is a brilliant human craftswoman who often mistakes simple courtesy for chauvinism.The figure I used for Sheas is really old, bought in the 1980's, and was made by Asgard Miniatures, sadly now long out of production.
The two figures to the right of the group have been mentioned but not met yet. Second from the right is Alfred Sterling, the leader of the Sterling Agricultural Colony and the father of Mearc. He is an inspiring human farmer who cleans his nails with his pocket knife when he is bored. Alfred is a good man who just wants to make an honest living and to be left in peace. His figure was one of the old West End Games Star Wars miniatures, also long out of production. The figure was a senator or an ambassador. I added his beard and moustache to make him look more like the illustration of Alfred Sterling in the scenario book.
Finally, is Pablo Kinte, who is expecting a delivery of silver sheets. Pablo is a massive human bar owner who is always looking for a profit. Pablo is an important person on Breuse and although nominally, a woman called Diana Lewis is the official governor of Breuse, most folk know that it is Pablo who is the true ruler. He could prove to be a useful ally to the party or a dangerous enemy. The figure of Pablo is one of my unique sculpts, made many years ago. He fit the bill perfectly for what I was looking for to represent Pablo.
I'm hoping to get back to the narrative campaign in my next post.

Monday, 2 October 2017

The Ace of Spades Campaign - Raid on Sterling part 04

Outward Bound
The Ace of Spades was a 38,350 tons Class IV Scout Ship. It had a crew of 13, of which only 10 were required to operate it. It could carry 6 passengers in standard quarters and 1 in luxury quarters. Of its 400 cargo units, 44 were available, giving it a cargo capacity of 2,200 tons. It was built for speed with twin Stellar Group EH-2 Hyperdrives giving it FTL speed 15 and twin Oshiro Shipping MI-2 Ion engines, giving it Subluminal speed of 9.5, and had a healthy operational range of 70 parsecs. Its powerful Chemerkin-Liang Products LM-5S Command Computer ran to 64 CPU Cycles and allowed for a maximum FTL speed of 16. It carried the Interstellar Enterprises MS-1H Sensor Suite.
Defensively, it was excellent, with Superstructure 40, Defence 22, and Electronic Defence 32. It was fitted with a Sato-Litvak Syndicate MSN-2 Navigational Deflector Shield, which provided SOAK:2 and a more formidable Overcorp-Pan Prime LSM-2 Combat Shield Generator, which provided SOAK:9. In addition, it was fitted with a NorthCo GYN3 Starship Stealth System Cloaking Device and Omniwide Productions YPO57 Electronic Countermeasures.
Its main armaments were a North Prime Weapons LHB-1H Redsword Phaser Beam and a Galaxy Society LCCI-1 Stingbird Cluster Missile Launcher. For point defence, it mounted a Stornes and Warner Ultrashield Dual Gauss Gun.
Its facilities consisted of 1 brig, 2 luxury cabins, 12 standard cabins, 3 double cabins, 20 escape capsules, a gymnasium, hidden storage compartments for 10 cargo units, 1 laboratory, 1 library, a lounge for 8 crew, a mess hall for 8 crew, 1 replicator, a sickbay for 4 patients, and 1 stellar cartography room. In addition it had a Borian Engineering Guild BA1 Repair Bay, a Borian Engineering BFS1 Fuel Scoop, planetary landing capability and two small hangars for 1 shuttle and 1 ground vehicle. It's luxury rating was classed as 195% comfortable. The Ace of Spades had a market value of 6,862.7 MegaCredits.
The distance The Ace of Spades needed to travel from Achamandra to Breuse was 61.1 parsecs, which in theory could be managed in one jump but for safety reasons, Kimberley split into three separate jumps - Achamandra to Sheol (at the edge of the Phoenix star sector) was 16.6 parsecs. Sheol to Wellbefallen (on the edge of the Saga star sector) was 25.7 parsecs. And finally, Wellbefallen to Breuse was 18.8 parsecs. However, Kimberley knew a few short cuts she could take and was able to reduce the total distance to 55.44 parsecs.
(Kimberley has the Secret Routes exploit, which allows her to reduce journey distances in parsecs by 2d6%. I rolled a 10 for her, which was a very good result, knocking 10% off the journey distance.)
As mentioned above, The Ace of Spades had an FTL speed of 15. Kyran Calaveri, the ship's engineer worked her magic and was able to boost the engines to FTL:16. 
(Kyran used her Engine Tuner exploit to increase the maximum Faster Than Light speed by one factor.) 
This meant that the journey would take 388.08 hours or 16.17 days.
This gave the crew plenty of time to get to know their three employers, Mearc Sterling, Royce Tavahi and Sheas Danelish a lot better and for them to get to know the crew and allow them to explore The Ace of Spades.
Mearc was the only son of Alfred, the founder of the Sterling Agricultural Colony (SAC). His mother was named Radula Barr before she married Alfred. He spent most of his life following his parents from one agricultural site to another. He spent four years studying agricultural engineering at the University of Achamandra. He married and sired a son. He now lived alongside his parents and family as a valued member of the SAC. Due to his upbringing, he was very polite, well-mannered and calm.
Royce was born and raised by his parents, Carral and Ruth, on Breuse (Caliburnus 1) in a small village. He grew up as a moisture farmer, a job he intensely disliked. He would have loved to have been a soldier, so he enrolled in a military academy on Breuse and underwent basic training. However, his bad temper, impulsiveness, overconfidence and stubbornness meant he was not accepted for further training. He quickly grew disillusioned with life and joined a local street gang. His life changed for the better when he met Linda Marrow. She helped him turn his life around and they married within a year. He found a job as a freelance scout for the SAC, where Linda originated from. He took on the role of the colony's protector. A changed man from his youth, he was thoroughly devoted to his wife and the colony.
Sheas was also born on Breuse. She had a good education in farming and she continued her academic career by learning ecology, zoology and engineering, a subject she qualified with a Bachelors degree. She would have liked to have studied further, but her plans were dashed when her father, a soldier serving in the Planetary Defence Force, was killed by mercenaries in a border skirmish. She returned to the SAC on Breuse to take a full time job as a bartender, then as a baker and recently, as a mechanic, to support her two younger brothers and her mother. This has given her a very negative opinion of anyone who makes a living by fighting. She was a very stubborn woman and hated chauvinism and soldiers in equal measure.

The Ghost Ship 
When The Ace of Spades dropped out of hyperspace at Sheol, Lynda Pelligrosso, who was on the bridge running a sensor sweep, noted that everything was clear apart from a large metal object at the extreme edge of her scanner range. As the distance between them closed, she was able to further identify the mystery object.
"Kimberley, I've ascertained what that object is," she said with a look of concern on her face. "It appears to be a small-sized spaceship, probably a Class IV trader."
Kimberley Wells was seated in the command chair. Also present on the bridge were pilot Storm Galloway, android Celeste, gunner Jeanette Grey and computer hacker Sharuna Randall.
"I've tried contacting them," Lynda continued, "but they're not responding. Also, I'm not picking up any life form readings from them."
"Okay, we'll go in closer and investigate," Kimberley announced. "Let's take it steady and be on the lookout for any sign of trouble."
Storm manoeuvred The Ace of Spades alongside the ghost ship, whose hull markings indicated it was called the Walleran.
"Still nothing on comms," Lynda said. "It's just floating in space."
"No power readings either?" Kimberley asked.
"Not a thing," Sharuna replied. "It's like a ghost ship, Kimberley."
"Well, now that we're here, we may as well check it out," Kimberley decided. She switched on an open channel and said, "Gwendoline and Katja, get suited up for an EVA trip. We've got a ghost ship to explore. Celeste, you're going with them. Take point."
Kimberley knew her crew well and these three were eminently suited for this task.
Gwendoline Papillion was one of the smartest people that Kimberley knew and although her insatiable curiosity had got her into trouble before it also meant that she was more likely to spot something that others might miss.
Katja Sondquist was one of the ship's two scouts and as the eldest and thus more experienced of the pair, she was the preferred choice for doing an exploratory mission on an unknown vessel.
Celeste was an assassin android of unknown origin and Kimberley's personal bodyguard. She didn't breathe, drink, eat or sleep, so wouldn't require to suit up. If this was some kind of ambush, Celeste was more than capable of dealing with it.
Within a few minutes, Celeste, Gwendoline and Katja were ready to board the Walleran. They first had to open the manual release on the pressure hatch, a task that Celeste easily accomplished. Inside, there was no atmosphere, no gravity, no lighting, no power and absolutely no sign of life. Celeste had inbuilt infrared sensors, which gave her superior vision in the dark. Gwendoline and Katja had to rely on the lights fitted to their helmets to help them navigate around the ghost ship.
 A long corridor running the length of the ship led them towards the bridge.
"Hopefully, we'll be able to find out what happened if we can access the main computer," Gwendoline said.
"Providing it's still operational," Katja added cautiously.
As they got closer to the bridge, they were able to see that the paint on the bulkhead facing them was discoloured and blistered. The door hatch to the bridge should have opened easily but it took Celeste and Katja working together to force it open.
Inside, was a scene of utter horror. A thick yellow-white powder blanketed everything. The command console was scorched black, the paint peeling and blistered. Every surface had been burnt by an intense heat. The reason why the entry hatch had been so difficult to open was because it had warped under the intense heat. It seemed unlikely that it would ever close properly again.
The scattered remains of the ship's captain and three crew members were severely burned. One quick look was enough for Gwendoline to realise that they were beyond help.
"What is this powder that's everywhere?" Katja asked.
"It is a common fire-fighting agent," Gwendoline replied. "Many ships use it as an automatic fire-fighting defence."
Celeste led them onto the bridge. Gwendoline knelt down and closely examined the bodies to confirm cause of death, even though it was obvious how they had died. Katja was slightly overwhelmed by it all and stood watch by the entry hatch. Celeste moved to the main control panel and to everyone's amazement was able to access an automatic computer log holo-recording of what happened.
"Check this out," she said as the recording began. "This should provide us with the answers as to what happened here."
The Walleran was a small independent trading vessel, carrying silver from Achamandra to a client called Pablo Kinte on Breuse. They had left Achamandra on the day before The Ace of Spades had left. When they dropped out of hyperspace at Sheol, they were halted and boarded by a large, unmarked corvette, heavily armed.
Confused and not a little frightened, Joasa Klin, the captain and pilot of the Walleran tried his best to accommodative the mysterious intruders. They, however, kept repeating, "Where's Sterling? We know you're aiding that weasely farm boy. Now WHERE IS HE?"
After thoroughly searching the ship, causing quite a bit of damage, the intruders left. But, unknown to Klin and his crew, they had placed an incendiary bomb under the navigation desk. It went off five minutes after the fighter ship left, causing a quick, hot fire that, despite the efforts of the ship's fire protection, killed everyone on board. The intruders had obviously mistaken the Walleran for The Ace of Spades.
After relaying this information to The Ace of Spades, the three crew members fully explored the rest of the ghost ship. Nothing of further interest was found until they came to the cargo bay. Inside were five undamaged crates. Each of these contained several dozen thin metal sheets, about 15" by 8" by 0.5", individually wrapped in oiled paper. The sheets were made of silver and in total were worth over 15,000 credits. Kimberley requested that they be transferred across to the cargo bay of The Ace of Spades. Her reasoning being that seeing as they were supposed to be delivered to a client on Breuse, she ought to make sure the delivery took place... and make a profit at the same time.
With everyone back on board, The Ace of Spades made its second hyperjump of the journey. Mearc Sterling was greatly concerned that someone wanted to stop him and his colleagues from returning to Breuse. This was much bigger than local bandits causing trouble for his colony. The question was who was behind it? 
About a week later, The Ace of Spades dropped out of hyperspace in the Wellbefallen star system. As the ship slowed down to allow Kimberley and Storm to make the necessary course corrections for their jump to Breuse, Lynda warned them of an imminent arrival.
"Heads up, folks," she said abruptly. "I've got a sensor lock on a fast approaching ship heading our way."
"Open up a hailing frequency," Kimberley ordered. "I want to know who they are."
"On it," Lynda replied, followed soon after with, "they're not responding. I'll... holy shit! They've just fired a missile at us!" 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The Ace of Spades Campaign - Raid on Sterling part 03

Buying Weapons
Mearc explained that one of the duties of Kimberley and her crew had was to purchase enough arms and armour to outfit a unit of 25 men. He gave Kimberley a certified credcard with a balance of 55,000 Credits.
There was, however, one drawback. The laws of the Federation prohibited the export or transportation of military arms with a higher Advancement Level of 8 to backwater systems like Caliburnus. Being a highly skilled smuggler, Kimberley knew of ways to circumvent Federation law and purchase restricted arms via the black market. On a planet as big as Achamandra there would certainly be traders who were more than willing to bend the law for a tidy profit.
However, Kimberley decided they would not break the law on this occasion.
"We play this one strictly by the book," she informed her colleagues. "Now, let's find a reputable arms dealer."
After consulting a directory of gun stores in Cassandra, Kimberley led Gwendoline, Jeanette, Julia and Celeste to the On Target Gun Store. On the way there, they discussed what would be most useful to buy, with Julia and Jeanette offering helpful advice on what would work best for the colonists. Upon entering the store, they were greeted by an attractive, middle-aged woman called Charlotte Fallon, who insisted on being called "Charlie".
"What can I do for you folks?" Charlie asked cheerfully.
"We're looking to make a big sale here and if you do bulk purchase discount that'd be so sweet," Kimberley replied. She was all charm as she flashed Charlie a big smile.
"Can do," Charlie replied. "Let's talk business."
Charlie proved to be extremely knowledgable about guns, ammo and armour and was able to provide the party with all they required.
The deal went like this.
50 Laser Pistols @ 100Cr each = 5,000Cr.
25 Laser Rifles @ 250Cr each = 6,250Cr.
5 Laser Sniper Rifles @ 1,000Cr each = 5,000Cr.
2,500 Laser Pistol Powercells @ 5Cr each = 12,500Cr.
1,250 Laser Rifle Powercells @ 12.5Cr each = 15,625Cr.
250 Laser Sniper Rifle Powercells @ 50Cr each = 12,500Cr.
25 Kevlar Vests @ 100Cr each = 2,500Cr.
That cost 59,375Cr in total.
Kimberley haggled with Charlie and was able to secure a 9% discount, which meant she only paid 54,031.25Cr, which came just under her 55,000Cr budget. The Laser Pistols and Laser Rifles were AL:7, the Laser Sniper Rifles were AL:8 and the Kevlar Vests were only AL:5, so all were perfectly legal to transport to Breuse in the Caliburnus star system.
(Note that as a Smuggler, Kimberley has the Haggle exploit, which grants her a 3d6% discount on any purchase she makes. I rolled a 9 for her. It wasn't her best deal but nor was it her worst. More importantly, she came under budget.)
Kimberley arranged for Charlie to have the shipment delivered to The Ace of Spades later that day. She called Storm on her communicator. The ex-UFP pilot was manning the bridge of the small scout ship.
"Hi, Storm," Kimberley said.
"Kimberley, what's up?" her beautiful, blonde-haired colleague asked cheerily.
"Gather the crew. We have a new mission and I suspect we'll be leaving soon. I'm on my way back with Gwendy, Julia, Jeanette and Celeste."
"Okay. No problem."
"Oh, and Storm..."
"Just one more thing. I'm expecting delivery of a shipment from the On Target Gun Store. Make sure its safely secured if I'm not back before it arrives."
"That's an affirmative."
"Kimberley out."
Next, she called Mearc and told him of the good news. He was delighted.
"That's fantastic, Kimberley," he said with a mixture of joy and relief. "Say, I was wondering when we could leave? I'd like to get back home as soon as possible."
"We can depart later today," Kimberley informed him. "Once the cargo is loaded and I file our flight-plan, which shouldn't take too long, we can leave. Does that sound good?"
"That would be perfect," Mearc confirmed. "We'll see you soon. Many thanks, Kimberley."
Kimberley confirmed that he knew where The Ace of Spades was docked and hung up.
Upon returning to The Ace of Spades, Kimberley logged a flight plan with Cassandra starport control. It was a routine formality that passed without incident. The ship departed from Achamandra later that evening. Their destination was the planet Breuse in the adjacent Saga star sector.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

The Ace of Spades Campaign - Raid on Sterling part 02

The Liberty Hotel Bar
The stunningly beautiful redhead, Kimberley Wells, was enjoying a glass of expensive sparkling white wine with four of her ship's crew in the bar of the upmarket Liberty Hotel they were staying at. Seated beside her was one of her two best friends, nurse Gwendoline Papillion, whom she had known for the past ten years. Across the table were the ever alert bounty hunter hunter, Julia Frostorm, and a persuasive gunner, Jeanette Grey. They both sipped fruit juices, as they preferred to keep sober. Standing watch over the table was the metallic purple android, Celeste, ever vigilant and totally dedicated to protecting Kimberley at all costs. Her inbuilt sensors took in everything around her, assessing every other person in the room for a potential threat. She didn't eat, drink or sleep, and was deadly in combat, making her a perfect bodyguard.
Kimberley was an experienced 25 year old captain of a small independent scout ship called The Ace of Spades. They had docked at Cassandra Starport on the planet, Achamandra in the Eriel star system. Achamandra was the capital planet of the United Federation of Planets in the Phoenix star sector and was a jewel in the crown of the Federation. They had spent the past year exploring planets in the outer rim of the galaxy and were long overdue some rest and relaxation time.
Kimberley's crew consisted of 13 females and a young daggertooth cat. Of the ones not present at this informal gathering, pilot Storm Galloway was in command of The Ace of Spades in Kimberley's absence. Keeping her company on board were young computer hacker, Sharuna Randall, and the ship's matronly doctor, Judith Kramer, who was the owner of the pet daggertooth, whom she called Fizz. The two scouts, Katja Sondquist and her Venetian lover, Danica, were sleeping off a long and energetic nightclubbing session from the previous day. Cat burglar, Rebecca Ellington had joined them and she was also sound asleep in her room in the Liberty Hotel. Lynda Pelligrosso, the ship's research scientist, was visiting the research laboratories of the prestigious University of Achamandra. Finally, Kyran Calaveri, the ship's engineer and joint best friend of Kimberley was wandering the starport, checking out the other ships berthed there. It was something she liked to do whenever they docked at a starport.
As the five crew members were gathered in the bar early that evening, a red-skinned Borian male approached them.
"State your intention," Celeste said brusquely as the stranger drew closer. Her weapon arm was pointed straight at his head. He, however, was unarmed and he smiled cheerily at Kimberley, clearly recognising her and totally ignoring the android.
"It's okay, Celeste," Kimberley announced. "He's a friend. Let him be. Hello, Banderhaven. Come and join us. I haven't seen you for a long while."
Banderhaven had known Kimberley's dead fiancé, Buck Hanson, very well, having tipped him off to a few lucrative jobs in the past. As he took a seat, he placed an empty beer glass on the table.
"Noice to see you again, Kimberley," he spoke Basic Anglic, the common tongue of the Federation, with a notable Borian accent.
A passing waiter filled up Banderhaven's empty glass and Kimberley introduced him to the rest of her crew, although he knew Gwendoline already, as she had also served under Buck Hanson.
"Are you lookin' for work?" the cheerful Borian asked after downing half his pint in one slug.
"Could be, " Kimberley replied non-committally. "It depends what you're offering."
 "Well, Oi was over at the starport earlier this afternoon, and Oi ran into an old college buddy o' mine - name's Mearc Sterling. He's workin' a farming colony out on the rim with his old man. Seems they're havin' some trouble with marauders out there, and they're lookin' to hire a team to run the bandits off. Oi would've taken the job moiself, 'cept Oi got half moi leg shot off on moi last mission."
He took a rough knuckled hand and banged it against his left thigh. It made a dull, metallic thud.
"Anyway, soon after that, Oi met your engineer, Kyran, and she told me where you were stayin'. So, thinkin' you moight be interested in this job I found out where Mearc and his "delegation" were holed up. Boy, Oi never thought Oi'd hear old Mearc havin' a delegation. Next, he'll be running for sector Governor. Anyway, here's the address if you're interested. If this works out, you guys owe me one." He finished his beer and wandered off, merging with the thick crowd.
The address read, "Mearc Sterling. Harrigan's Hotel, Room 505. 10am."
Meeting the Clients
Next morning, the five crew members followed Banderhaven's instructions and found them standing in the lobby of a run-down hotel not far from a busy and noisy refuelling station at the starport. A short conversation with the drowsy desk clerk sent them to the fifth floor in a rickety, open cage elevator. All five were armed - Julia, who had taken point carried a holstered laser pistol and a knife on her belt, Kimberley was armed with a 10mm autopistol, Gwendoline had swapped her phaser rifle for a phaser pistol, Jeanette was also armed with a phaser pistol and Celeste had her inbuilt disruptor pistol fitted to her right arm. They weren't looking for trouble, but given that the Harrigan's Hotel was situated in one of the rougher areas of Cassandra, they felt it necessary to be prepared should something untoward happened.
The battered, paint peeling door to room 505 stood at the end of a dark, sooty, foul-smelling corridor, where the visitors were obliged to step over a few prostrate forms of the dregs who seemed to inhabit port towns of every place and age.
 Julia knocked on the door and a timid sounding, "Who is it?" came from within.
"Banderhaven sent us," Kimberley replied. "We understand you're looking to hire some mercs."
The voice told them to wait. Julia could hear muffled low-voices arguing about something but was unable to make out the details. Eventually the door was noisily unlocked and swung open to show the ugly muzzle of a large-calibre automatic pistol. The weapon was held by a handsome young man dressed in worn fatigues and a mesh-lined armoured coat.
"Come in," he said in a tight voice, "but no sudden moves."
He was confident that the strangers would comply without question, so he was totally unprepared when Julia struck. Without even looking at him, she shot her right arm out and grabbed the gunman by the wrist, which she cruelly and deftly twisted and bent behind his back, forcing him to drop his pistol as he screamed in agony.
(I briefly went into combat mode here. Julia easily beat the gunman for Initiative. She spent 2d6 of her 6d6 Martial Arts attack to utilise her Arm Lock exploit. She inflicted 1d6 for damage and rolled a 2, which he was not allowed to SOAK. She was stronger, faster and far more skilled than he was. The fight was over in the blink of an eye.)
"Don't you ever point a gun at me or my friends again!" Julia snarled angrily. 
The gunman looked into her steely brown eyes and saw no mercy there.
"Please don't hurt me," he sobbed tearfully as he was forced to his knees. He couldn't believe how fast she was. He was convinced she was going to snap every bone in his wrist.
All at once numerous voices shouted out as one.
A pretty young brunette woman seated at a desk screamed, "Royce, you bloody fool!"
Standing beside her, a young male with blonde hair and a tanned complexion furiously declared, "Dammit, Royce, I told you to settle down."
Kimberley yelped, "Whoa, calm down everyone!"
"Let him go, Julia," Gwendoline pleaded. "I'm sure it was a misunderstanding."
No one heard Jeanette quietly say, "This could be fun," as she gripped the butt of her phaser pistol in preparation for a fast draw.
Julia released her grip and even helped the crestfallen Royce back to his feet. He avoided all eye contact with her and stood with his head bowed as if fascinated by something on his boots. Sensibly, he made no move to retrieve his dropped pistol.
The blonde haired male turned to the party and introduced himself. "Hello. I'm Mearc Sterling and these are my colleagues, Sheas Danelish... and that hothead is Royce Tavahi."
He looked to be in his late 20's. He had long blonde hair and a moustache and he wore combat fatigues and a Kevlar vest. A large slugger pistol was holstered on his right hip.
"I assume you're here about the job," he continued. "It's quite simple really. We're from the Sterling Agricultural Colony on Breuse. It's a small farming co-op in the northern half of the eastern hemisphere. We've been making a good go of it - that is until recently. A few weeks before we left, bandits started raiding the colony. Not much at first, just random harassment of some of the outlying farms. But, things have gotten steadily worse. Two days before we left, the raiders attacked the colony centre. Four people were killed and seven wounded. My father, Alfred Sterling, the Colony Director and founder, was one of the wounded."
"He decided that we had to defend ourselves, but we aren't soldiers. We've tried everything - the Patrol was no help, can't get involved in planetary disputes or some such nonsense. The system Governor is looking the other way and the mercs on planet want more than we can offer. So, dad sent us here, hoping we could hire a couple of mercenaries or guards who would be willing to train us to fight, and to help us defend the colony."
"We can't pay much cash up front - just enough to get you there safely and comfortably - because the harvest won't be in for another five months. Most of the little money we have will go to buy weapons. we are, however, prepared to offer two shares of the colony's yearly profits for the next five years to each of you who is willing to take the job. That's the best we can do. Will you help us?"
Sterling was telling the truth. They only had 60,000 Credits in cash, and 55,000 of that was earmarked for the purchase of supplies. Two shares of the colony's profits added up to 30,000 Credits per year, payable once a year, at the end of the year. In total, the crew of The Ace of Spades would receive 390,000 Credits per year for the next five years.
"We'll do it," Kimberley replied boldly and without hesitation. "Julia here is a skilled combat instructor and has taught most of my crew how to fight. As you have seen, she is very, very good."
Mearc and Sheas nodded approvingly and Royce blushed in shame.
Mearc provided a standard legal contract, binding the team to protect the colonists from the raiders and instruct them in basic combat techniques. The party had the option to void the contract at any time, forfeiting any pay not already received. The colony could void the contract only if the hirelings did not fulfil the duties as specified.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Ace of Spades Campaign - Raid on Sterling part 01

This adventure involves the defence of the Sterling Colony, a small farming community on Caliburnus 1 (Breuse) in the Saga star-sector. Bandits have been raiding the colony, intent on destroying everything the colonists have worked for. The colony's leader and founder, Alfred Sterling, has sent his son, Mearc, to recruit mercenaries or guards to protect the colony and teach its people how to defend themselves. No one on Breuse would take the job, so Mearc Sterling was forced to look elsewhere. He had contacts - old college friends - in the Phoenix star-sector, so he headed for Eriel 1a (Achamandra). Finding a group who'll help him is the colonists' last hope. They approached the Interstellar Police Agency about it, but the Patrol considered it a planetary dispute, out of their jurisdiction.
Background - the Real Story
The "bandits" who are raiding Sterling Colony are actually corporate mercenaries working for Hoag-Warner GmbH, a large mining manufacturing cartel based on Sol 3 (Terra). H-W is a huge multi stellar corporation, infamous for its shady business practices and brutal competition crushing. It has more than once put small, independent companies out of business - often buying them out and selling the parts for a tidy profit, leaving the company's executives on skid row.
Hoag-Warner has discovered that the colony is sitting on a vast deposit of several valuable ores; iridium, osmium and platinum. To get their hands on the ore, the corporation attempted to buy out the colony. When the farmers refused to sell, H-W sent corporate mercenaries disguised as bandits to "persuade" the colonists to reconsider. They hoped that if they destroyed some crops and frightened the women and children, the colonists would give in. Maybe even at a reduced price.
But the plan backfired. Whilst some of the Sterling Colony Council have advised selling out, the majority, led by Alfred Sterling, wants to stick it out. The council first tried to hire mercenaries on Breuse (a planet practically swarming with independent mercenary companies who use the world for high-G training), but couldn't afford the kind of money the mercs wanted. And nobody was interested in a percentage of a cash crop that might be burned to the ground the next week. Desperate and determined, Mearc Sterling and two other colonists were sent as a delegation to Achamandra to recruit some less expensive help.
The largest of 20 moons orbiting the huge gas giant, Ivanhoe, in the Eriel star system, the Earth-like world of Achamandra is the capital planet of the United Federation of Planets in the Phoenix star-sector. In addition to the sector government, it is the sector headquarters of the Interstellar Police Agency and many other governmental and private organisations, including the embassies of foreign powers. The financial and political hub of the UFP for many neighbouring star-sectors, Achamandra is the home of numerous banking and investment firms and the influential Achamandra stock exchange, as well as the home offices of major interstellar corporations such as the Matsai Corporation. A household name throughout the UFP, Matsai is the largest Federation-based corporation, and it manufactures everything; if it doesn't, it owns a subsidiary that does. Matsai specialises in the production of fusion power plants, energy weapons and advanced electronics, all designed to AL:11 standards!
The starport city of Cassandra on Achamandra in the Phoenix star-sector.

Achamandra is a notable cultural centre of the Federation, boasting several famous universities and scientific institutes. The largest, with over one million students, is the prestigious University of Achamandra, which attracts brilliant scholars from throughout the UFP and beyond. Each year millions of visitors, human and alien, flock to the moon to enjoy the sights and atmosphere of the vibrant UFP capital. Noted tourist attractions include the orbiting Senate Opera House, the undersea Federation Gallery of the Arts, the vast Museum of Interstellar History and the heavily guarded Precursor collection, and the 2,000 acre Xenological Gardens whose many environmental bubbles house exotic plant and animal specimens from hundreds of alien worlds. Just looking up provides a spectacular view of the huge gas giant that Achamandra orbits.
Despite being somewhat crowded, the world itself is clean and well-managed - the show-piece of the UFP. All planetary industry is either in orbit or underground; weather control satellites and a carefully balanced ecosystem maintain a perfect climate year round. There are no roads or auto-mobiles - efficient rapid transit via moving side-walks and  magnetic levitation railway tunnels link every city on the moon into one cohesive metropolis. Life on Achamandra is fast-paced and cosmopolitan; aliens and para-humans attract little attention and no prejudice from residents, and the better hotel chains, such as the Stellar Embassy, can cater to nearly any conceivable race and provide rooms tailored for any atmosphere or gravity requirements. The standard of living on Achamandra is among the highest in the sector; with its rich and famous citizens, the world is a trend setter in the Federation's fashion and entertainment industries. This is where the story begins.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Introduction to The Ace of Spades Campaign

I am almost ready to start my The Ace of Spades Campaign but before I begin I want to give you an introduction to the campaign, giving a bit more information on the setting and what rules I'll be using.
The Rules
Bounty Hunter Julia Frostorm of The Ace of Spades
This campaign will be based upon the N.E.W. sci-fi role-playing game by EN Publishing. What I love about this system is that it is geared for games masters to create their own settings. This was important to me because I had a specific setting in mind when I decided to start this campaign. A lot of the background material comes from the setting for the old Fantasy Games Unlimited sci-fi RPG - Space Opera. However, I will also be adding elements from GURPS Space and of course, N.E.W. itself.
N.E.W. has various options for game play. My campaign will be using the cinematic rules. What this means is that the heroes (and only the heroes) will be larger than life and have a greater survival  chance than other NPCs. In game terms, most of  the PCs will gain a bonus LUC die and have increased HEALTH stats. Celeste, being an android, sadly, does not benefit from these rules. I will also be adding many of the new rules from the downloads section of the WOIN website that don't appear in the official rulebook.
The theme of the campaign will be space opera - science fiction with added fantastical elements such as psionics and laser swords. It is the type of setting found in Star Wars. The default Advancement Level (known as Tech Level in some game systems) for my campaign is AL:9, with AL:10 and very occasionally, AL:11 on more advanced worlds. So that means advanced Faster Than Light (FTL) travel, galactic exploration, thousands of colonies, transporters, instant FTL communication between the most advanced core worlds but less frequent in the outer worlds. Regarding FTL travel, ships use hyperdrives. Hyperdive relies on the concept of an alternate space where dimensions, distance, and time work differently. A vessel slips into this alternate space (named as hyperspace), travels to its destination, and then slips out again into normal space. All weapons found in the N.E.W. rulebook are available - projectile and energy being equally popular. Androids and robots are common and androids are accepted as being equal to humans, but robots are classed as second class citizens. Aliens exist in many forms and the most commonly encountered aliens were covered in my post, The Setting of The Ace of Spades part 2 (see here).
The default starting point for characters in N.E.W. is when they are at rank grade 5 but for my campaign, I increased that to rank grade 6. The reason why, is that I wanted the crew to have already spent time together before the campaign begins. Which also explains why I am not starting the campaign just after Kimberley Wells has recruited her crew. That would have been an obvious starting point but I wanted them to have had time to settle in, to know one another's abilities, strengths and weaknesses. So with that in mind, the crew have been working together for two years. I figured that was long enough for them to gel and to have a few adventures already to explain why they are all at rank grade 6. In addition, I gave each character bonus experience points so that they could increase certain attributes and skills. They are an experienced crew but not excessively so and against tough opposition they will struggle.
I want my campaign to be very narrative based to make it easier to read. Rules explanations will be kept to a minimum wherever possible and when they are required I'll type them in blue to help distinguish them from the story.
The Setting
Nurse Gwendoline Papillion of The Ace of Spades
In my campaign, the two major star-faring powers, the United Federation of Planets and the Azuriach Imperium, are on the brink of an interstellar war. This could have been the focus of my campaign but instead, it is something that will be going on in the background. My campaign will focus on the all female crew of the scout ship, The Ace of Spades. I have already posted full backgrounds on the 13 crew members. Being independent explorers means they can go almost anywhere and get involved in a wide variety of adventures. If you have read their backgrounds you can see there are many adventure threads just waiting to be explored further. For example, who was behind the space pirate attack that killed the male members of the original The Ace of Spades? Kimberley hired bounty hunter Julia Frostorm to help her find the answers. What is the story about Celeste's missing 21 years and why does she believe it is her mission to protect Kimberley at all costs? Is she really a Forerunner android? How long will Jeanette remain undercover as she keeps tabs on Celeste and when will BRINT swoop in to take Celeste back? Then there are members of the crew who are not beyond breaking the law. Kimberley is a smuggler, Rebecca is a cat burglar and Sharuna is a computer hacker. Any of them could have run-ins with the authorities. Plus, as assassins and bounty hunters, Celeste and Julia have made a lot of enemies in the past. Any of them or more likely, their colleagues, could come looking for revenge. Finally, there is Gwendoline, whose insatiable curiosity can lead her into all kinds of trouble. One thing is for sure, I won't be short of plot lines.
My starting point for the campaign is the year 2567. The crew of The Ace of Spades are resting on Achamandra (Eriel 1a), the UFP capital planet of the Phoenix star-sector far out in the rim worlds of the galaxy, when the campaign begins. I deliberately began the campaign as far away from the Terran star-sector as I could, whilst still remaining in UFP territory. This crew are independent explorers and have spent the past two years on exploration missions and are now taking a well earned break on Achamandra.
The opening scenario of the campaign is one that appeared in the GURPS Space Adventures supplement called Raid on Sterling. I have never played it before but upon reading it I quickly decided it would make an ideal starter scenario for my N.E.W. campaign. I made a few changes to it and converted it to the N.E.W. rules system. It is just the kind of mission that Kimberley would undertake and it ought to give all of the crew a chance to shine. I can't wait to get started.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Doctor Who Exterminate! Batrep 01 - A Meeting of Metal part 2

In N.E.W. the combat sequence is split into four steps.
  1. Make attribute checks - if appropriate - for access to the ambush turn. This is usually an AGI Stealth or CHA Bluffing opposed check against the target. Those who succeed take one action. All actions in the ambush turn occur simultaneously.
  2. Everyone rolls INITIATIVE. On a tie, compare AGILITY, and if still tied, have each roll LUCK and the highest wins.
  3. All combatants then act in order from highest INITIATIVE to lowest. Each character may take two actions unless otherwise noted. An action is a move, an attack or a regular action. You can move twice, attack twice or move and attack or any other combination.
  4. Once everyone has acted, return to step 3 and repeat until the combat ends.
Both sides were aware of each other so the ambush turn was ignored. Rolling for INITIATIVE the results were -
  1. Dalek Leader on 29
  2. Cyber Leader on 22
  3. Cyber Patrol A on 21
  4. Dalek Patrol A  on 20
  5. Cyber Patrol B on 19
  6. Dalek Patrol B on 17
  7. Cyber Patrol C on 16
To simplify matters I rolled for each Patrol rather than for each individual. Because the Leaders had much higher INITIATIVE scores I rolled separately for them. Remember, this INITIATIVE Sequence is fixed for the entirety of the combat and doesn't change from turn to turn.

Dalek Leader. Moves forward 4" to take cover behind the control panel. He fires his Disintegrator Rifle on ion setting at the Cyber Leader. The range is 21", so he'll take a -1d6 penalty to hit. Ranged weapons have different range increments and each one beyond the first incurs a cumulative -1d6 penalty to hit the target. The Disintegrator Rifle's range increment is 15". He has an attack score of 6d6, which is reduced to 5d6 for the range penalty. He rolls a 20, which easily beats the Cyber Leader's Ranged Defence score of 14, so he hits. Damage is 4d6+3 plus an extra +2d6 for the Cyberman's vulnerability to ion damage. I roll a total of 30 points of damage, which is reduced to 20 because the Cybermen have a SOAK value of 10, which absorbs 10 points of damage. The Cyber Leader loses 20 points of HEALTH from his total of 30. A telling hit that signifies the Daleks' intent.
Cyber Leader and Cyber Patrol A. They advance 6" and then advance 6" again to take cover behind the generator. Characters who move twice in a turn are considered to be hustling. Note that the Cyber Leader is second from the left in the jogging pose.
Dalek Patrol A. They all move forward 6" and Dalek 01 captures a Vortex Node, which is placed beneath him. For his second action, Dalek 01 fires his Disintegrator Rifle on ion setting at Cyberman 05 in Cyber Patrol B. The range is 20" so he'll suffer a -1d6 penalty to hit but he has a base 6d6 to hit so that's no big deal. One of the cool things about combat in N.E.W. is that you can trade your to hit dice on a 2 to 1 ratio in order to do more damage. This is a very important concept and to quote the rule-book, "the concept of buying effects with your attack dice is fundamental to the combat system of N.E.W. Without "buying" extra damage dice or desired effects, a successful attack will tend to do little damage. High damage, therefore, is achieved by a large attack dice pool being partially spent on damage and effects." So, I spend a further 2d6 from his 5d6 (remember he lost a d6 because of the range penalty) to hit, bringing it down to 3d6, which should be enough to defeat the Cyberman's Ranged Defence score of 10. I score a 13 - a hit! Damage is base 4d6+3, plus +1d6 for the extra damage plus +2d6 for the Cyberman's vulnerability to ion damage, giving me a total of 7d6+3 to roll. I score 28, of which 10 points are SOAKED and 18 points are reduced from the Cyberman's HEALTH of 28, leaving him on 10 HEALTH. Ouch!
Dalek 02 attempts to take out the badly wounded Cyberman and fires his Disintegrator Rifle on disintegrate setting at him. Using the same tactics as Dalek 01, he rolls 3d6 to hit and scores a 12. This hits for 4d6+3 damage plus the extra +1d6 for the damage bonus. I roll 24 points of damage, of which 10 is SOAKED but the remaining 14 is more than enough to totally disintegrate the Cyberman. I should have removed the dead Cyberman from the board because there is nothing left of him but for dramatic purposes I'm leaving the corpse where it fell.
Dalek 03 fires his Disintegrator Rifle on electricity setting at Cyberman 06 from the same group but he only rolls an 8 to hit, which does not beat or equal the Cyberman's Ranged Defence score of 10, so he misses.
Cyber Patrol B. The depleted patrol advances 6" and Cyberman 04 captures the second of the four Vortex Nodes. Cyberman 04 fires his Laser Implant at Dalek 01 (the one with the first Vortex Node). The range is 14", so he'll suffer a -1d6 range penalty to hit because Laser Implants have a range increment of 10". His attack dice are 5d6 and that is reduced to 4d6 because of the range penalty. However, he gains a +2d6 bonus for the Cybermen's Hive Mind exploit (grants a +1d6 bonus to all attribute checks for each additional Cyberman within 30' (6" on the game board) up to a maximum of +3d6). He trades this in to do an extra +1d6 damage if he hits. He rolls 4d6 and scores a 13, which beats the Dalek's Ranged Defence score of 11. A Laser Implant normally does 2d6+3 heat damage, but with his extra die of damage he rolls 3d6+3 and scores a 16. The Daleks all have a SOAK value of 12, so Dalek 01 suffers 4 points of HEALTH damage. Not much, but it's a start.
Cyberman 06 does exactly the same. He rolls a 12 to hit and rolls 18 for damage, which cause a further 6 points of HEALTH damage.
Cyberman 07 goes through the same process and rolls a 17 to hit and a 17 for damage. Dalek 01 takes a further 5 points of damage to his Health, bringing it down from a starting total of 30 to 15.
Dalek Patrol B. All advance 6" and Dalek 04 captures the third Vortex Node. For his second action, Dalek 04 fires his Disintegrator Rifle on ion setting at Cyberman 03, who is clearly visible and in the open at the side of the generator. The range is 10", which is less than the Rifle's range increment of 15", so there will be no range penalty to hit this time. With 6d6 attack dice he trades 2d6 for an extra +1d6 damage if he hits. Rolling 4d6, he scores a 12, beating the Cyberman's Ranged Defence score of 10. On ion setting, he rolls a total of 7d6+3 for damage. He scores a massive 32, of which 22 bypasses the Cyberman's SOAK. This leaves Cyberman 03 with 6 HEALTH left out of 28. Not good for him!
Dalek 05 administers the coup de grace by firing his Disintegrator Rifle on disintegrate setting, using the same modifiers as Dalek 04. He hits with a 4d6 roll of 13 and rolls 5d6+3 for damage, scoring 18, which is more than enough to reduce Cyberman 03's HEALTH to less than 0. The Daleks score their second kill of the game.
Dalek 06 has no viable target so does nothing for his second action.
Cyber Patrol C. All four Cybermen advance 6" and Cyberman 09 captures the fourth Vortex Node. Both sides are now in possession of two Vortex Nodes. For their second action, the four Cybermen advance a further 6", bringing them in cover and concealment behind the container unit.
Dalek Leader. He remains in place and fires his Disintegrator Rifle (still on ion setting) at Cyberman 01 at the left side of the generator, who is not in cover from the Dalek Leader. The range is 13", so there will be no range penalty this time. With 6d6 attack dice, the Dalek leader trades in 2d6 for an extra +1d6 damage. Sadly, he rolls an 8 to hit, so his first shot goes wide. However, his second shot hits with a roll of 13. He rolls 7d6+3 for damage and scores 29. The Cyberman's Durasteel armour SOAKS 10 points but that still leaves 19 points of damage to subtract from his HEALTH of 28. With just 9 HEALTH left, he'll be an easy target for another Dalek.
Cyber Leader and Cyber Patrol A. The Cybermen know that their best tactic to defeating the Daleks is to engage them in melee combat so they make a double move to charge against Dalek Patrol A, as they all gang up on Dalek 03. Note that to move and attack a target with the same action is not possible unless the attacker has the Charge exploit. Moving and attacking are normally considered to be two separate actions.
Dalek Patrol A. Dalek 01 fires his Disintegrator Rifle (still on ion setting) at Cyberman 04 (the one with the Vortex Node) in Cyber Patrol B. With the Cyberman being at close range, Dalek 01 trades 2d6 from his 6d6 attack dice to score an extra +1d6 damage. A roll of 12 beats the Cyberman's lowly Ranged Defence score of 10 and hits, doing a total of 7d6+3 damage. Rolling 29 for damage, Cyberman 04 suffers 19 Health damage, bringing him down to 9 HEALTH.
For his second action, Dalek 01 shifts his attack to Cyberman 06. Remember, after being damaged once by an energy attack, Cybermen become immune to that damage type for the rest of the game, as per their Adaptive Force-field exploit. That is why it was pointless Dalek 01 firing on ion setting at Cyberman 04 again. However, he only rolls a 9 to hit, so his shot misses.
Dalek 02 also fires twice at Cyber Patrol B with his Disintegrator Rifle still on disintegrate setting. He first targets the badly wounded Cyberman 04. He trades 2d6 from his 6d6 attack dice to gain a +1d6 damage bonus. His 4d6 attack roll results in a 13, a hit. Rolling 5d6+3 for damage, he scores a 22, which after the 10 for the Cyberman's SOAK is subtracted, is a 12, which is more than enough to reduce Cyberman 04 to 0 HEALTH. Three Cybermen have been killed so far.
He switches his second attack to Cyberman 06, who Dalek 01 had failed to hit. Using the same tactics and modifiers as his first shot, he rolls an 11 to hit, followed by 22 points of damage, of which 12 are removed from Cyberman 06's HEALTH of 28, with the other 10 points being SOAKED.
Things get interesting now as Dalek 03 is being attacked by three Cybermen. He could move away but that would cost him an action, so he stays put. He now has two options - make a brawling attack with his plunger arm or make a ranged attack (despite being in melee combat) with his Disintegrator Rifle. Sensibly, he chooses to fire his Disintegrator Rifle at point blank range on electricity setting against the Cyber Leader, who has already been wounded. He trades 2d6 from his 6d6 attack dice to score an extra +1d6 damage. However, this time he must roll against the Cyber Leader's Melee Defence, which is 18. He only manages to score a 14, so his first shot misses. He fires again, but this time he does not trade any of his attack dice for extra damage. Rolling 6d6 to hit, he scores a 21, which is more than enough to beat the Cyber Leader's Melee Defence score of 18. He rolls 5d6+3 for electrical damage and scores a 24, of which 10 is SOAKED, but 14 is more than enough to kill the Cyber Leader.
However, the Cyber Leader has an interesting exploit called Transfer Data, which basically allows him to swap bodies with any other Cyberman within 30' of him when he is reduced to 0 HEALTH. So Cyberman 02 now becomes the new Cyber Leader and uses his improved stats in place of his own. Very sneaky and very useful!
Cyber Patrol B. The two remaining Cybermen from this squad advance 6" and Cyberman 06 captures the Vortex Node his dead colleague had dropped. For his second action, Cyberman 06 fires his Laser Implant at Dalek 01. The range is now 10", so does not incur a range penalty to hit. He has 5d6 attack dice but gains an extra +1d6 for the Hive Mind exploit and a further +1d6 bonus because Dalek 01 did not move this turn. Stationery targets are a lot easier to hit then moving targets! With 7d6 attack dice, he trades 4d6 for +2d6 extra damage. Rolling 3d6 attack dice he scores a 12, which beats the Dalek's ranged Defence score of 11. He now rolls 4d6+3 for his damage and scores a 20. 12 points are SOAKED by the Dalek's armour but the remaining 8 are subtracted from his HEALTH, bringing it down from 15 to 7.
Cyberman 07 realises if he can repeat that attack, he can kill Dalek 01. And sure enough he does. He rolls an 11 to hit (only just hits) and another 20 for damage which takes the Dalek's HEALTH score down to -1.
When a Dalek is reduced to 0 HEALTH, its Self-Destruct exploit takes effect and everyone within 6" of the downed Dalek takes 6d6 Heat damage. I only roll once and apply the result to all affected targets. My roll totals 20 points of damage. The Dalek Leader, Dalek 02 and Dalek 03 all take 8 points of damage after their armour SOAKS 12. It also does 10 points of damage, after the Cybermen's SOAK score of 10 is taken into consideration on the new Cyber Leader and Cyberman 01, which unfortunately, was enough to kill Cyberman 01. Definitely a case of good news and bad news for the Cybermen.
Dalek Patrol B. All three Daleks move 6" towards Dalek Patrol A. Dalek 04, who has the Vortex Node, fires his Disintegrator Rifle on ion setting at the new Cyber Leader. He suffers a -2d6 penalty for firing into a melee. He does not trade any attack dice for extra damage. Rolling 4d6 he scores an 18, which hits for 6d6+3 damage. He rolls a 22 and reduces the Cyber Leader's HEALTH by 12, bringing it down to 18.
Dalek 05 fires his Disintegrator Rifle on disintegrate setting at Cyberman 07, who is holding one of the Vortex Nodes. There is no modifier for range so he trades 2d6 attack dice for an extra die of damage. Rolling 4d6 he scores a 15, which hits for 5d6+3 points of damage. Rolling 24, the Cyberman SOAKS 10 and suffers 14 points of HEALTH damage, reducing him to 14.
Dalek 06 decides to finish off Cyberman 06 and fires his Disintegrator Rifle on electricity setting at the wounded Cyberman. He also trades 2d6 attack dice for an extra die of damage. He rolls a 15 to hit and does 6d6+3 damage. I roll a total of 27, which is more than enough to kill Cyberman 06. The Cybermen are taking quite a beating.
Cyber Patrol C. All four Cybermen move twice to get within melee range of Dalek Patrol B.
Dalek Leader. He moves 6" and captures the Vortex Node dropped by Dalek 01.
For his second action, he fires his Disintegrator Rifle on ion setting at Cyberman 07. He does not suffer any range modifier as the Cyberman is within 15" of him, so he trades 2d6 attack die to score an extra die of damage if he hits. He rolls 4d6 and scores a 14, which is a hit. His damage is 7d6+3 and I roll 25 for him. The 15 points of HEALTH damage takes Cyberman 06 down to -1 HEALTH and kills him.
Cyber Leader. He melee attacks Dalek 03 and gains +3d6 bonus to hit for the Hive Mind exploit. Although there were four Cybermen within 6" of him he is limited to a maximum +3d6 bonus granted by the exploit. With a whopping 9d6 attack dice he trades 6d6 for an extra +3d6 damage. He rolls 3d6 and scores a 14 against the Dalek's Melee Defence score of 11. His Nanite Injection attack does a base 1d6+7 damage which is increased to 4d6+7 damage. I roll a 25, of which 12 is SOAKED, reducing the Dalek's HEALTH from 22 to 9. Another hit like that would easily kill the Dalek so the Cyber Leader melee attacks again, using the same tactics. He rolls a 12 to hit and a 23 for damage, which kills the Dalek and causes him to explode. The 6d6 explosion results in 21 points of damage and affects a lot of models. The Dalek Leader and Daleks 02, 04, 05 and 06 all suffer 9 points of HEALTH damage as their Dalekenium armour absorbs 12 points of damage. Cybermen 08, 09, 10 and 11 suffer 11 points of HEALTH damage as their Durasteel armour absorbs 10 points of damage. However, the Cyber Leader takes no damage because of his Adaptive Force-field exploit. Having already taken heat damage earlier in the game (when Dalek 01 blew up), he is now immune to all heat damage for the rest of the game.
Dalek Patrol A. Dalek 02 advances 6" twice, which is enough to enable him to capture the Vortex Node dropped by the Cybermen in Cyber Patrol A, which has been totally wiped out. The Daleks now possess three of the four Vortex Nodes.
Dalek Patrol B. Dalek 04 fires his Disintegrator Rifle on ion setting at Cyberman 08. As usual, he trades 2d6 of his 6d6 attack dice for a +1d6 bonus damage. His roll of 15 beats the Cyberman's Melee Defence score of 14. Rolling 7d6+3 for damage he scores 29 and the 19 points of HEALTH damage is more than enough to kill the Mondasian Cyberman. For his second action, he fires at Cyberman 09, who is holding a Vortex Node. Using the same tactics as before he rolls a 14 to hit, which is only just sufficient to hit. The 28 points of damage he rolls kills the badly wounded Cyberman.
Dalek 05 fires his Disintegrator Rifle on disintegrate setting at Cyberman 10. He also trades 2d6 of his 6d6 attack for a bonus damage die and his roll of 15 is a hit. He scores a 19 from his 5d6+3 damage roll. However, 9 points of HEALTH damage is not quite enough to kill this Cyberman. He is down to 8 HEALTH. So Dalek 05 switches his attack to Cyberman 11, knowing that Cyberman 10 would be immune to a second hit from a disintegrate attack, due to the Cybermen's Adaptive Force-field exploit. Using the same tactics as before he manages to roll a 16 to hit and scores 18 points of damage of which 10 is SOAKED. Cyberman 11 is now reduced down to 9 HEALTH.
Dalek 06 realised he could kill both remaining Cybermen with one successful attack on each of them. With his Disintegrator rifle still on electricity setting he traded 2d6 from his 6d6 attack dice to increase his damage die by +1d6. He fired at Cyberman 10 and rolled a 14 to hit, which only just succeeded against the Cyberman's Melee Defence score of 14. He rolled 6d6+3 for damage and scored a 28, which very easily killed the Cyberman. For his second action, he fires his Disintegrator Rifle at Cyberman 11 and repeats the same tactics as before. A 4d6 roll of 14 hits and his damage score is 25. After 10 points are SOAKED, the remaining 15 damage points kills Cyberman 11.
Dalek Leader. He spends his first action by switching his Disintegrator Rifle from ion setting to cryo setting. With only the Cyber Leader remaining, he fires his Disintegrator Rifle at him. Rather predictably he trades 2d6 of his 6d6 attack die for a bonus die of damage. Rolling 4d6, he scores a 16, which beats the Cyber Leader's Ranged Defence score of 14. It's a hit. He rolls 5d6+3 for ice damage and scores 21. After the Cyber Leader SOAKS 10 points, the remaining 11 damage takes him down to -5 HEALTH and he dies. It's game over!
That was brutal! The Daleks were the clear winners with their ranged attacks proving decisive. They held three of the four Vortex Nodes and would have collected the fourth if I continued playing TURN 4.

CONCLUSION. That did appear to be an easy victory for the Daleks who, it has to be said, are far tougher opponents than the Cybermen in N.E.W. One on one, a Dalek is far superior to a Cyberman. However, the Cybermen's greatest strength lies in their numbers. When the Cyber Leader launched his melee attack against Dalek 03, with four other Cybermen within 6" of him, he was devastating. What really hampered the Cybermen was not being able to close in for melee combat quickly enough. Their Laser Implants lacked the hitting power of the Dalek's Disintegrator Rifles in range, damage and type of damage. The variable settings of the Daleks' Disintegrator made a big difference to the outcome. For the most part, the Daleks were happy to allow the Cybermen to come to them whilst they hardly moved at all. I wonder what would have happened if the Cybermen held their ground whilst the Daleks advanced? I suspect it might have been a lot closer. I also reckon that if I'd added three more Cybermen, one to each Patrol, the outcome would have been a lot closer.
I feel that in N.E.W. the Cybermen ought to outnumber the Daleks by at least two to one to stand a fighting chance of victory. With 12 Cybermen against 7 Daleks, the odds favoured the Daleks. Still, it was an interesting and worthwhile exercise and I learned a lot from it. Would I do things differently if I played it again? Absolutely! I would certainly increase the number of Cybermen so that they have a minimum two to one advantage in numbers. I learned that the hard way from this encounter.
Incidentally, the five Daleks who survived all sustained damage. The Dalek Leader was down to 17 HEALTH from 34. Dalek 02 was down to 13 HEALTH from 30 and Daleks 04, 05 and 06 were all down to 21 HEALTH from 30. Another round of combat would most likely have seen off the Dalek Leader and Dalek 02.

The prime purpose of this batrep was to show you how combat works using the WOIN rules for the N.E.W. role-playing game. In that respect, I feel it worked very well. I certainly covered the basics of combat but there was stuff that I left out. For example, I didn't cover critical hits at all because anyone who received a critical hit was usually killed that turn anyway, so they had no effect on the outcome. Also, and this is an important point, neither race had any LUCK stats and LUCK can have a huge impact in any combat situation. It can be used to improve a character's chance to hit, to do more damage, to reduce an opponent's chance to hit, to absorb damage, to give a character an extra action per turn plus other options.

Finally, I was asked how did this game compare to to the official Exterminate! rules it was based on? Well, when I played it first time round with the Exterminate! rules by Warlord Games, the Daleks still won but by a much narrower margin. The two card decks used by opposing players in Exterminate! offer a greater set of randomness to the game than mere dice rolling, which both games do share in common. Of the two, I'd say N.E.W. feels more realistic and relies a lot more on tactics. Because of the card decks, Exterminate! is more unpredictable. Both games were great fun to play but they offer very different experiences. However, I can say that Exterminate! will not get played nearly as much as N.E.W., which has whetted my appetite for many more games.