Friday, May 29, 2009

29 May 2009 Some loose ends

"Every time we come down into this hole, it looks completely different." Hands on hips, Kain Delacroix stood on the observation level of the brand-new oasis tower/maglev spur station. Looking down over the water of Grotte deValmont, he could see the gleaming row of corporate enclaves, aligned in perfect geometric form. A new pier ran far out into the water; even now, a submersible was taking on cargo from a large truck.

He and Gade were both in mufti. No Regulator coat or poncho for this little job. It wouldn't do to get noticed. Kain had gambled that security would be considerably loosened under the new sovereigntist Baja regime; Lenny Green had indeed chased the SRID out of the underground city, and the MILICIA were contained in a small base near the entrance. Getting in had required a quick medical scan (you don't want any nasty bugs in a semi-hermetic environment!) and a cursory glance over their (fake) documentation.


Shelly Crawford had been enjoying a quiet evening in when he got the call. The fire marshal declared that the cause of the warehouse blaze was arson. It wasn't a big deal at first, what with the warehouse being out in the abandoned part of New Baja, dating from the initial migration and settlement underground. But then three bodies were found in the charred rubble. Three badly burned and charred bodies meant it was potentially a homicide.

Shelly frowned, datapad in one hand, cawfee cup in the other, as he hunched over his desk at the New Baja Police Grotte Precinct. The coronor's report was grisly. The men had been tortured, shot and stabbed before their bodies were burned, still tied to the chairs. The polymer ropes had melted into their skin.

"Lenny has got to see this," he declared.

Moments later, Shelly was in the office of the Chief of Police. Lenny and Shelly went back to the days of the anti-Earth Resistance and then they both signed up as Kain Delacroix's Regulators. They were two of the three men who stayed behind when Marshals Delacroix and Tarmalin took the rest of the Regulators on as caravaneers. The two men were united in the same vision that they had when they joined the Regulators: freedom, security and stability for Baja. It wasn't working out according to plan, but it was, Lenny was fond to say, "a work in progress."

Lenny looked down at the datapad Shelly handed him.

"Prophet wept, Shelly, this couldn't wait until after I had my breakfast?" Lenny grunted and pushed his plate of eggs and johar grass to the other side of his desk. The datapad contained grisly pictures of the warehouse and the bodies found within.

"Sorry boss, but we got the IDs on the three victims. Igasawa, Rodriguez and Bertrand. All of them from the Mekong Development Company."

"Shit. I suppse I should be hearing from our friends at the MDC soon enough," Lenny sighed. Whatever appetite he might have still had was now completely drained.

Shelly gave a sympathetic nod, but then continued, "those names ring any bells?"

"Huh?" Lenny was as sharp as ever, but he wasn't a detective anymore. He was preoccupied with the minutia of keeping a city running safely, "hmmm...Mekong suits. A fire. A warehouse. I'm not following."

"The Karin Hassan 'kidnapping'?" Shelly concluded, sitting down across from his boss. The door to Lenny's office was already closed.

"Well, I hope that next time he'll be able to come say hello," Lenny nodded.

The two men shared a silent smile.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

From the Diary of Tessa Lin, 7 Spring TN1919

It all happened so fast. But everything moved in slow motion. Moving underground wasn't too bad, and I was helping out at the UnderHang. Karin's family had a new inn all set up real quick. It was my first job. And I guess it's my last in Baja. I'm on a Longrunner truck with Karin. We're never going back. Karin doesn't even talk right now. Not after what her father did. Everyone's fucked up from the war, but I can't believe her own flesh and blood would sell her out like that.

Where can I begin?

We went underground, I started at the UnderHang as a hostess, like Karin. We were busy. All those Mekongese and Republicans staying, planning the city of New Baja. Suits and power meetings and ... Well they kept us busy. But it was those three Mekong suits. We got their names off the hotel registry. I guess we should have been smarter, but I never thought ... After they got flirty in the lobby, Karin and I kept our distance. So sleazy. But Karin had to clean the room, and they were waiting for her.

I only heard her cry out once. I ran to see. So stupid. I can't believe how stupid I was. Karin was on the bed, one of them was hitting her. One was watching. The last hit me a few times, left me to sit in the corner, and then watched. Karin was real quiet. So I was I. I guess I froze, because it took me so long before I saw the gun. Karin had to wait for me to think straight. I guess they thought that they'd be in real dangerous places down in the Badlands, because there it was. Just sitting on the desk out in the open. I guess they didn't think we'd be too much trouble. I just remember going for it. Not even looking. Then I cocked it. That's when they turned towards me. They told me to put it down. They said I was scared. They were right. But I lived through Baja. I wasn't scared enough. I got Karin out of there and we ran.

The next day Karin told her dad what happened. Karin's tougher than me: I've been crying since I picked up the gun, pointing it at those creeps. She only cried once she told me that her father didn't believe her. He said that those men give the town good money and that we shouldn't rock the boat if we ever want New Baja to get on its feet. Karin said she didn't know where to go. But Marshal Delacroix' caravan was in town. Karin remembered that they had this mechanic, Gade, who was nice to her when he was with the Regulators.

We talked to Gade and told him everything. He just said that we could stay with him on the caravan and that he'd vouch for us. He looks a little dirty, but he doesn't seem too bad. Everyone on the caravan's from Baja. Lots of former Regulators, so I've got a good feeling about this. I just wish I could stop crying. Karin sure is brave. She won't talk about it, but I know that one day we'll set this right, somehow.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Warrior III "Scrap"

"I swear, sometimes, I wonder what the hell Gade was thinking?" Trishaw Carmichael, formerly a Paxton gear designer, grunted as he was busy cleaning out the filters of the Warrior III named Scrap.

Everyone in The Cave ignored him.

"Damn kid is lucky that he never got asphyxiated in this rust-bucket!" Carmichael grunted again, "missing at least five safety filters and a bypass valve!"

Natty and Karin nodded absentmindedly, working hard as Carmichael raved. They didn't know that Carmichael had been responsible for the addition of three of those five safety filters and the bypass valve. The Warrior III was Paxton's workhorse trooper gear, much like the Hunter and Jager, but it was designed with the Badlands in mind. That meant that air filters and valves got clogged. He marveled that Gade's patchwork construction hadn't fallen to pieces cycles ago.

"...and he didn't even use the right actuators for the wrists!" Carmichael's complexion had reddened some, but the old goat was attentive enough to see that he was being studiously ignored by his younger colleagues. He sighed. Scrap had worked exactly right since he joined the caravan, and Kelly, the gear's regular pilot never reported any serious irregularities.

Carmichael was just about to resign himself to quiet work when he found the hopper skeleton lodged in behind the gear's leg panel. He pulled the chicken-sized mass of cartilage and bone out with a grimace and held it up to the stunned and sickened girls.

"That's right!" he declared, victoriously, "and there's probably more where that came from!"


Scrap was the first gear Gade Vonyran built out of spare parts collected from the junk heaps of Khayr-ad Din. The Warrior III is a standard design, and Gade had access to other similar gears to ease the process. The end result was a patchwork gear that was serviceable and reliable: a testament to both Paxton's engineering and Gade's abilities. The gear's Optical Neural Net was transferred from the Warrior III and into a Blitz Iguana for a while, but has now returned to its rightful place in its original chassis. Scrap is a well-behaved machine with tenacity and loyalty. It does have a tendency to twitch when idling, a result of being a scratch-built machine and the transfer to the Blitz Iguana and back.

The only person on the caravan who has a grudge against Scrap is Avatanya Brom, who happened to like the original Regulator office in New Baja Town.

UPDATE: Kelly Lebeau has taken to driving Scrap as the leader of the reserve squad of Caravan gears. She tends to carry an MR-55 30mm cannon, a 52mm rocket pack, and a pair of War of the Alliance-issue heavy panzerfausts she dug up in Khayr-ad Din.

Trooper Heavy GearPILOT:

Vibroblade0x80-close combat
Hand Grenades x 3
close combat, AI
AI, AE=0, IF
MR-55 Medium Autocannon
1 extra clip
HPZF x 2
single shot

Easy To Modify
+2 repair/modify rolls
Manipulator Arm x26Can Punch
Hostile Environment Protection
ECM1Offensive EW equipmentYES




Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dice Dropping Rules Revised

OBSOLETE - 8 September 2010

Aiming/Called Shots
Special Maneuvers

All of the above reduce (or in the case of Aiming, add) dice from a given skill level. This represents a given ability to be consistent, solid in the face of adversity and/or cool-headed, which generally comes with skill, experience and training, rather than innate ability.

Called Shots:
-2 Dice for locations other than the Head/AUX systems
-3 Dice for Head or AUX systems

+1 die per round aiming, to a maximum of the skill level (i.e.: a level 2 Small Arms skill can benefit from 2 rounds of aiming at most).

Special Maneuvers:

Attack of Deception - A.K.A. "Dropping Dice": This maneuver is very straightforward in execution. Simply reduce number of skill dice available to an opposed roll, and the opponent must reduce his/her dice by the same number. Once a die pool is reduced to zero, roll unskilled. This maneuver is available for any opposed roll in which the opponents have direct, close interaction, e.g., a showdown, a close quarters battle. It can also be used in psychological and non-combat instances, though some roleplaying is required here.

Hurrying a Task: Dropping skill dice here represents cutting corners and taking risks in order to complete a task, usually a non-opposed threshold skill roll. Each die dropped reduces the required time of the task by (provisionally) 20%. That is to say, dropping one die on a 10-hour task reduces it to 8 hours, two dice to 6 hours, etc.

Naturally, Emergency Dice may be spent to counteract any dice lost.

Skill: Information Warfare

OBSOLETE - 8 September 2010

Prerequisite: None

Governing Attribute: CRE for skill advancement and sensor-related tasks. KNO for communications-related tasks.

Information Warfare is the catch-all skill which represents training with communications systems, sensors of various types as well as electronic countermeasures (ECM) and electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM). It is a Complex skill.

Information Warfare replaces both the Communications and Electronic Warfare skills as found in the Heavy Gear rulebook.

Friday, May 15, 2009

15 May 2009 4-5 Spring TN1920: It can get "hot" underground....

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


The young woman walked down the road from the Caravan to the Hotel Pacifica. She finally had time to herself and had called ahead: they were drawing Miss Cranby a bubble bath. It was costly, but Ellen knew that she needed the indulgence.

A trundling buggy laden down with miners and supplies on their way to the camp crossed her path. The miners leered as the dust got in her eyes, rudely distracting her from thoughts of luxuriating in hot water. She didn't particularly like Tulsa, and who could blame her? Between the miners and the rovers, she wanted the caravan to move on already. The trading had slowed down - the miners had spent their cash and another payroll train wasn't expected for a while, so she had been told - so she knew that the caravan's continued presence in this town had to do with details which she was frustratingly not privy to.

Scowling, Ellen stepped into the hotel's saloon. The man playing piano missed a beat. Ellen blushed self-consciously and headed towards the saloon bar amidst the longing gazes of many a drunk miner.

"I'm Miss Cranby," she began tentatively, "I called ahead?"

"Yes Miss," the barman began, "just upstairs. Room seven, down the hall to the left. It should be ready for you."

Ellen winced after she thanked the man and turned. He was clearly picturing her getting into the tub. She stalked up the stairs grumpily.

There were giggles and groans eminating from behind the doors as Ellen made her way down the hall. The Hotel Pacifica was a brothel, after all. Normally uncaring about such realities of Caravan life, Ellen's foul mood made her especially sensitive regarding such things. She though about Guillaum and Scooter, the two salvage men on the Caravan with those creepy leers. Mustn't forget about Carmichael's stream of dirty comments. And then there was Torch Dolbeau, whose incessant passes and wolf-whistles would almost be bearable - though still unwelcome! - if she wasn't so obviously and so terrifyingly unstable. What the hell was Kain thinking hiring her anyways?

Kain Delacroix.

Ellen had barely entered the sumptuously decorated and perfectly prepared room when her thoughts turned to the Caravan's Commanding Officer. She pulled off her desert suit and her boots, wiggling her toes and glancing longingly over to the full tub of steaming hot water.

"What are you thinking, Kain?" Ellen sighed. She took stock of the soap, checked the temperature of the water - nearly unbearably hot, just how she liked it - and found the towels suitably fluffed. The Hotel Pacifica had a woman's touch. Ellen recalled the proprietor's name, Miss Meredith.

"More like Madame Meredith, but I suppose everyone is entitled to their delusions," she approached the windows wearing only her unmentionables and drew the curtains.

Then she did a double-take.

Out in the street, skulking around another saloon was none other than Sandra Jolaine, gunslinger extraordinaire and trouble with a capital T.

Ellen scowled and then stepped back quickly from the window. She sat down on the edge of the tub and crossed her arms. After a deep breath, she stood, marched over to the window and looked out again.

Sandra was gone.

Was it her at all in the first place? Ellen sighed. It had to be. There was no mistaking that gunslinger's swagger that Sam had appropriated all too easily. Whatever Sandra was doing here, it couldn't be any good, Ellen decided. Then she paused.

"Do I tell Kain?" she asked aloud.

Ellen shook the growing dilemma from her mind as she stripped down and slid into the tub with an audible sigh. Then she frowned. Sam certainly did not need to know that Sandra was here. Gade didn't either. She stretched gingerly at first, as if she was unsure she was allowed to relax. Then she dunked her head below the water, and held it there. Her eyes shut, Ellen thought for a moment: the caravan still needed more personnel. Sandra was a qualified, experienced long-haul driver and a crack shot with a pistol. Then again, Torch was a good duelist and hiring Torch was all-in-all a bad, bad move. Sandra had already proven herself untrustworthy in and out of a fight.

Yet Ellen couldn't shake the feeling that Kain would hire her on the spot. It was as if he was anticipating something big coming, and figured that the more gun-hands he had with him, the better, their reliability be damned. She couldn't understand why he had hired Torch on. Everyone could see she was bad people. She hadn't been at Baja. She wasn't a Regulator. She wasn't even a Badlander. And Torch hadn't nursed Sam Tarmalin back to health and cared for him like a brother.

Ellen gasped as she came up for air. She was near tears. This exercise in luxury was hardly as relaxing as she had wanted it to be.

"Yeah, and Sandra was great for Sam," Ellen managed to control herself. She smiled weakly to the room, "dammit, Sandra was bad once, I'm not going to let her get anywhere near us, Kain!"

The man's name echoed slightly in the room. Ellen slumped forward in the tub, frowning sadly. She batted the bubble bath bottle off the nearby stand and curled up into a ball. But she wouldn't cry. She wouldn't let herself. She knew she was protecting the people she loved.

To-Do List

Compiled by: Avatanya, Kelly, Ellen and Ben [editorial comments by Trishaw Carmichael, and others!]


2 Longrunners [One with a fuel container for the front half of the cargo hold - T.C.]

1 Barnaby/Mother Barnaby [Mother Barnaby is ideal! Shut up Av! - T.C.]

Junglemower/Peacemaker 40mm gatling autocannon [Kain, you have issues - T.C.]

Surveillance Equipment [Please oh please oh please! - Natty]

Flea piloting lessons! [Please oh please oh please! - Karin]

Vehicle Mods to do:

Armoured/enclosed cockpit for the Elan
Mount 15mm Ruckers on Elan
Remove Riley Hammerstrike I missile tubes from Hunter Recon AG
Reinforce leg armour and transmission on Hunter Recon [The Recon'll be a solid scout. Let's use those missiles on a dedicated assault/support platform - K.L.]
Configure Hammerstrike I tubes for Bear/Spit Expand Hammerstrike I magazine from 2 to 4 [We need to decide on which will be the close assault gear, and which will be the fire support gear; we have two two-shot launchers. Let's get Gade working on one of them - K.L.]

Personnel Wanted:
Ethan Dunn: Driver/scout [With the Doc in KAD, Ethan won't have any problems fitting in. - Av.B.]
1 Dedicated Gear Pilot [Two would be better! - Ellen]


6 Longrunners
1 Gear Transport
9 Gears

Currently the Caravan has:
9 Qualified Gear Pilots: Kain, Sam, Gade, Jo, Kelly, Peter, Ari, Konnor, Torch.
[I'm qualified! - Karin. No, you're not - Av.B.]
7 Combatants: Prabal, Natty, Avatanya, Carmichael, Ben, Bill, Thom.
9 Non-Combatants: Karin, Tessa, Guillaum, Scooter, Ellen, Silas, Diego, Selia, Jibrat. [Kain, talk to Silas and Diego, see if you want to make them full members. - B.C.]

This means: with a 4 gear escort deployment during travel over 6 hour shifts, 4 qualified gear pilots and 7 drivers will be on. Another 5 gear pilots and 11 drivers (both combatant and non-combatant) are on standby. The current schedule is alternating 6-hour shifts for the entire crew, with no breaks during the midday and nighttime while travelling. [Everyone is holding up, though the sooner we get to Tulsa and get some real rest, the better! K.L.]

8 Longrunners
2 Gear transports
10 gears

Requires: 10 drivers, 10 pilots for full deployment

For projected needs, a 5 gear escort deployment for 8 Longrunners and 2 Gear transports would require 5 pilots and 10 drivers on a 6 hour shift. Ideally we should have a complement of 15 gear pilots, deploying twice a day for 6 hours at a time. However, should we stay at 10 gear pilots, and travel with no stops, each pilot deploys 3 times a day for 6 hours, for a total of 18 hours each.

[I want a pony! - B.P.]

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Road meeting: Before Tulsa

The Shop was rolling along the caravan trail in the southwestern part of the Western Desert. The Longrunner truck's huge balloon tires minimized the bumpy ride, but everyone's cawfee was in a lidded cup as the meeting began.

"So then people, give me a status report," Doc Chambers' voice came in through the speaker.

"Well Doc, it was a busy time in Lance Point," Ben Cantor began, "and it's been a real challenge getting our inventory straightened out, but everything's fine now."

"How'd we do?" Doc Chambers got right to the point.

"In the black, Tom," Ellen reported crisply as she listened, seated next to Ben around the conference table. "We did alright. Nothing spectacular in terms of liquidity, but our inventory is bursting." Ellen looked at the datapad in her hand, "hang on, I'll send you the data." She tapped the screen of the datapad a few times, and then set the device down on the table.

"Thank you Ellen," the Doc replied. The speaker warbled, "yes, I see. Alright. These numbers are acceptible. Thank you very much, everone." The speaker then cut out.

"Alright everyone, give me your opinions," Ben began. Now that the Doc had been given his update, it was time to get down to the brass tacks of running the caravan.

"Well," Avatanya began, "Ellen's right. Our holds are still bursting. But I don't think it'll be a problem as we head into the mountains. Lots of little settlements'll be needing what we have. And we're down to two gears stowed: that extra Warrior, and that Hunter Recon."

Ben nodded, "Guillaum, how'd the salvage and parts exchange go?"

The dark-haired salvage operator nodded, his Badlander accent thick, "We did well in Lance Point. Lotsa good parts, lotsa good contacts. I don' see us needin' parts for a while."

"Yeah, you got that right!" Carmichael grunted, nodding as he leaned back in his chair, "I've got me some ideas about getting the gears and vehicles kitted out nice. Our parts surplus should help us out there considerably."

"You want to put more guns on the gears?" Ellen was a little exasperated.

Carmichael glared back at Ellen gruffly, "look cupcake, the rovers 'round here are gonna get worse before they get better."

"Yeah?" she shot back, "we haven't faced anything we can't fight off with little difficulty so far," Ellen was arguing from a position of weakness and she knew it. Still, with Sam and Kain and everyone else she cared so much about in those gears, she had a sneaking suspicion that less firepower meant more caution.

"We've heard tell about rover gangs all through the Westridge sector, and not just the Desert Wolves, charming hosts they might be," Ben consoled Ellen with a smile.

"Bah! It's not rovers I'm worried about-" Carmichael shot back. Then he stopped himself when he realized Ben, Kelly, Avatanya and Prabal were all glaring at him. He mumbled into his beard, "'s the lack of good whiskey!" he sat on his hands.

Ellen frowned. She wasn't stupid. She knew there was always something going on with this caravan that she wasn't privy to. It kept her up at night, mainly because she knew that Sam Tarmalin was always in the thick of it. Still, she couldn't help but think that it was best that she didn't get involved. A vision of Kain's hardened, pained face, just after Malachi Flats, flashed in her mind. She knew what made him look like that and Ellen knew that it had happened at least once between the time Kain left Khayr-ad Din, and the time he rejoined the Caravan in Lance Point.

"-guard duty rosters have been updated to include our latest additions," Kelly had been talking for at least a minute before Ellen realized that she had let her mind wander. "I've taken the liberty of making sure that Torch is always paired with someone."

There were firm nods around the table.

"Why?" Guillaum asked, slightly oblivious.

"Because," Avatanya said, giving him a dark glare, "she's fucking loony. I wouldn't be surprised if she gutted you in your sleep, and then barbequed you on a stick, pally."

The young salvage operator swallowed hard.

"Any other business?" Ben looked around the table. Prabal shrugged. Avatanya shook her head. Guillaum managed a mild 'no' with his hands. Carmichael was already fishing out his flask. Kelly closed her eyes and relaxed for a moment.

"Yes," Ellen spoke up, "I have one concern to raise."

"Eh?" Carmichael sneered reflexively. It was no secret that he hated these little caravan pow-wows with the Doc.

"Yes, one more thing," Ellen nodded, "we've got no bunk space."

"Hmm?" Avatanya looked over her datapad, "says here that everyone's got a cot."

"Oh, yes, they do," Ellen frowned, but her eyes were mirthful, "but only when someone else is on watch. And there are ... five cots set up in the Garage. That's hardly living. We've got too much cargo, and too few bunks. We need to get everyone into a permanent bunk."

Kelly nodded, "it'll grind us down sooner or later, you know."

Prabal nodded, along with Guillaum. They were sleeping in the Garage as of two weeks ago.

"Alright," Ben nodded, understanding just how important even a little personal space could be. "I'll talk to Kain about it. I guess we'll need another Longrunner?"

Carmichael spoke up, "A Mother Barnaby would be better!"

"Your mother was a barnaby," Avatanya growled.

"Meeting ajourned!" Ben cut in.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

07 May 2009 - 4 Spring TN1920: Sandra returns, a gear battle, and some proposals.

Hermes 72 - Heavy Gear RPG - Most artwork Copyright 2002 Dream Pod 9, Inc.