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Tabletop Squadron Transcript – Season 2, Episode 3:
Heavy Lifting

Transcript by Tyler (Twitter: @Tyler_MoonSage)

## Intro

NICK: Hi everyone, and welcome to Tabletop Squadron, a Star Wars: Edge of the Empire actual play podcast. I’m Nick, your game master. Every other Thursday, our story follows a thief, a bounty hunter, and a slicer as they hunt for galactic treasure, staying away from a bitter rival and growing closer together.

Everyone, first up I wanna talk a little bit about the setting of this arc. We had been planning this kick-off of Season 2 for a few months, and after the first section was recorded protests against police brutality began in earnest in the United States and worldwide. The squad are fervent believers in human rights and stand with the Black Lives Matter movement in believing we need real and definitive change in our world. We are extremely proud of our fans and supporters who have donated and protested and urge you to do all that you can.

Normally our show is pretty light, but we’re going to continue with this arc and urge that you listen when you are in a safe place and in a good frame of mind to listen to something set in a prison with a repressive and corrupt guard force that represents a fascist empire. Stay safe out there, friends.

On a happier note, we are pleased to announce that the Tabletop Squadron podcast will be hosting a virtual convention July 30 through August 2. The squad will be streaming several panels including a look into character creation and a Star Wars quiz show with special guests. We’ll also be having guests on to do other panels and game rooms for people to engage with each other. I may even be running a game or two that you can sign up for. Players might be picked by some sort of lottery system. More to come there.

With GenCon being cancelled in the name of public health we wanted to make sure everybody still had something to look forward to. The virtual con will be free to anyone who wants to attend, but we will have a list of suggested donation pages to important causes during this time. Keep on the lookout for additional announcements and schedules in the near future. We’re excited to see you there.

Also, we have a new patron! Esouhnet, thank you so much for supporting the show. Your intelligence and steady hands will be needed by the squad soon, so if you can hide Tink’s medical textbook and maybe help us keep everyone patched up… that’d be a big help. Thanks.

Music credit, content warnings, and how you can help take meaningful action in supporting efforts to stand against systematic racism ranging from organizations to donate to, educational resources, organizations seeking support, and other non-monetary responses will be available in the show notes this week.

So now, let’s get into the episode.

##

NICK: Hello! Welcome to Tabletop Squadron, Episode 3 of Season 2. Woohoo! Coming to you live, except recorded, so not live. Hope everybody’s doing well this fine, kinda hot afternoon. Let’s go around the table. Everybody say who you’re playing today, who you are, and if you spent any experience since the last time we sat down let me know what you spent it on, starting with Lilit.

LILIT: Hello. I am Lilit, and I will be playing Xianna’fan, a Twi’lek smuggler. I put more ranks into Charm, Cool, and Deception.

NICK: Ooh, that’s a good idea.

LILIT: Yeah, spending points. It works.

[giggling]

NICK: Alright. Up next we have Hudson.

HUDSON: Hi, I’m Hudson, and I’m playing Tink, a Gigoran slicer. I did not spend any experience. I’m going to be hoarding it this round.

NICK: [chuckling] Sounds good. Last but not least we have Cameron.

CAMERON: Hello. I am Cameron, and I will be playing Karma Nailo, the Nautolan bounty hunter.

NICK: Awesome. So, before we get started with the recap, let’s kick it off with the Destiny Roll!

CAMERON: One dark side.

LILIT: One dark side.

HUDSON: Two light side.

CAMERON: Hey~

LILIT: Yeah~

NICK: Oh nice. So that brings our total to two and two, right?

CAMERON: Yup.

NICK: Okay. So, kind of a quick recap of where we left off. Tink got into a fight in the prison cafeteria. He got sent to solitary confinement where he happened to run into Sentinel. Xianna and Karma were out on the prison yard making new friends and contacts. Xianna tried to buy drugs, and Karma talked to HK and showed him how to murder people, so that was a good choice.

CAMERON: [giggles] Was it?

NICK: Uh-huh. That’s where we’re going to pick it off. The scene opens on Tink sitting cross-legged in a dim durasteel box. He’s sitting with his head kind of resting up against the wall. Coming faintly through the wall, Tink, you hear the voice of Sentinel say:

NICK (as Sentinel): So, what exactly brings you to the Kajim Regional Incarceration Facility?

HUDSON: I start playing my harmonica I’ve obtained.

[laughter]

NICK: Oh, that’s concerning. Where were you keeping that?

[sad harmonica music begins]

HUDSON: I traded it for a pack of smokes.

NICK: [laughs] Okay. So, you’re ignoring Sentinel and playing harmonica instead? That’s what’s happening?

HUDSON: Just for the moment, and then I stop and I say:

HUDSON (as Tink): Well, it’s a long and sorted tale… Eh, not really. So what I’m in here for is I was hired—Well, I don’t know if I can, how much I can say.

NICK: There’s a long pause and Sentinel says:

NICK (as Sentinel): Alright… well, we don’t have a lot going on, so… have I ever told you the story of the loth-cat and the Tatooine tortoise?

[sad harmonica music ends]

HUDSON (as Tink): No. I’ve never heard that one.

NICK (as Sentinel): Long ago there lived a loth-cat…

NICK: And we’re gonna jump away from that. The last thing, Xianna and Karma, that you all saw on the prison yard was HK stalking off towards the cafeteria holding his stun rifle and waving the rifle at Xianna and saying…

NICK (as HK): Do not fraternize, prisoners.

NICK: …and walking away. You have a little bit more time on the yard before the bell rings and you are sent back to the cell block. We cut over to Karma and Xianna. The two of you have walked back towards each other next to the weights, so there’s a lot of different muscly aliens doing bench press and squats and just getting their very glisteny swole on. You’re next to a bench that a Dug is sitting on doing bicep curls but with his feet, with both feet at the same time.

CAMERON: Are they still bicep curls if they’re with his feet?

NICK: Yes. They are now.

CAMERON: Cool.

HUDSON: [chuckles]

NICK: Uh, leg-cep… curls.

CAMERON: I don’t know how Dug anatomy works.

LILIT: Thigh curls. Heh.

HUDSON: [with a laugh] Ew.

NICK: Well, the thing is, like, their knees are inverted so they don’t have quads, they have like biceps on their legs, so… ick. Anyway.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: You two are able to meet up next to this weightlifting area and kind of touch base and make a plan.

CAMERON: Karma’s gonna pick up some free weights so it looks like there’s a reason why we’re standing here.

NICK: [laughs] Okay. You just have a barbell that you’re wiggling around.

CAMERON: Yeah, like doing some tricep stuff behind me, hold it above my head just with my arm straight, very professional stuff. Yes.

CAMERON (as Karma): So did you get the good ramen?

LILIT (as Xianna): Okay, well, I have to get money first. I don’t really have enough for the good ramen and any of the drugs, so… I guess I’m going to start gambling. That seems like a good plan, right?

LILIT: Xianna sort of casually leans on one of the equipment racks and is just staring off into the distance.

LILIT (as Xianna): Yeah… gambling. That’ll work out fine.

CAMERON (as Karma): What are you going to use to enter the game if you don’t have any money? Because you’re gonna have to put something forward for them to let you join so that you can win money.

LILIT (as Xianna): I have a tiny plastic shiv that I found.

CAMERON (as Karma): [chuckling nervously] Okay.

LILIT (as Xianna): And then, um… I don’t know after that. I will figure it out. Maybe I will just lie and then I will have to win so that I don’t have to pay anyone.

CAMERON: Karma switches to bicep curls, using her arms though.

NICK: [laughs]

CAMERON: That’s how Nautolans work.

CAMERON (as Karma): You could pickpocket some people beforehand. That’s your skillset.

LILIT (as Xianna): Oh yeah, stealing is always an option.

CAMERON (as Karma): Yeah.

LILIT (as Xianna): That was a backup plan. You get kitchen duty and then you steal food, or kitchen duty and steal kitchen knives. Basically kitchen duty is a good one to get because there are lots of things to steal there.

CAMERON (as Karma): Yeah, if you get kitchen duty get me a knife.

LILIT (as Xianna): I will get us all knives, and food, and maybe spoons.

CAMERON (as Karma): Grab a few pudding cups.

CAMERON: [laughs]

LILIT (as Xianna): And extra pudding cups, and seasoning packets. You can keep those little salt packets in your pockets, but you can keep it with the little top of it ripped off, and then you can throw the salt packets at people and it gets in their eyes and it hurts a lot.

CAMERON (as Karma): You could also just pick up sand, though. This yard is sand. It gets everywhere.

LILIT (as Xianna): Yeah, but then it gets everywhere inside your pockets, but if you have little salt packets it is the same thing but more contained and it doesn’t ruin the lining of your pockets.

CAMERON (as Karma): Yeah, but I mean I’m not really invested in this jumpsuit, so if I ruin it, darn.

NICK: So, Xianna, do you head over to go and gamble?

LILIT: Yeah. Xianna’s gonna saunter over there. Are they sitting on the ground gambling? Do they have a table? What’s their setup?

NICK: There is a group of three or four prisoners crouched around a corner of the fence, there’s a guard that seems to come by more often over there, and then there’s a crowd of people kind of cycling through that’s between five and ten people around the crouched group, and it looks like they’ve got a couple of chance cubes that they’re rolling and betting over. It’s got the usual cheering and groaning as people win and lose.

LILIT: Yeah. Xianna’s gonna head that way and try to casually lean up against a wall or the fence and watch them for a minute or two to gather what game they are playing, how much it seems like they’re betting, what they’re betting with, and who some of the top players are.

NICK: Okay, that’ll be pretty easy. Karma, are you going with Xianna or are you wandering off to do something else?

CAMERON: I’m sticking in the free weight area trying to make some strong friends, so I’m assisting with spotting some people and showing off how strong we can all be together… so we should be friends.

NICK: Okay. So, to ascertain what the lowdown skinny on the gambling is, that feels very much like a Streetwise check. It will be hard difficulty with two black dice, because you haven’t been to this prison before and they’re playing a game that’s a modification of one that you would know, but it’s not like a normal one.

LILIT: Okay, I have at least one level in Street Smarts, so I can remove a black die from Streetwise or Knowledge checks. I think I might have another one somewhere. Okay… Ooh. [laughs] Okay. I have one full triumph with its success, another triumph that has had its success cancelled out, and three threats.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: Yay. Okay. So… We’ll say one of the triumphs is that you know someone who’s playing, the other triumph is you know this gambling game and you know a pretty good way to cheat at it, unless you wanna spend them on something else.

LILIT: No, I like those.

NICK: Okay. You recognize this gambling game of chance cubes as the Rancor Roundup, which is a game that they play in a lot of prison yards, because you only need two chance cubes and it’s hard to cheat at, but you know that there’s a way to throw the dice where it’s more likely to land a certain way and you also know that there’s a specific kind of house bet that you can do that actually has good odds. So you’re like oh, Rancor Roundup, this is a good way to make some money. You also see someone that you recognize that is the one with the hot hands right now, they’re the one rolling the dice. Who are they?

LILIT: Well, their nickname is definitely gonna be Hot Hands.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: Hot Hands! … Karma.

CAMERON: Yes?

NICK: You are lifting weights over in the strong prisoner area.

CAMERON: [chuckles]

NICK: You said you were trying to make strong friends. How exactly are you going about doing that?

CAMERON: So, going through lifting heavier and heavier weights to prove that I too am strong so I should be in their friend group, and then volunteering to spot some folks while they’re doing bench press if they’re doing it on their own, since I’m assuming it’s not super-nice equipment since we’re in a jail, so there’s probably potential for you to very easily drop the bar on yourself and hurt yourself.

NICK: Oh for sure. These are like free weights, but because it’s Star Wars the weights are shaped weird. Like, there’s triangles and hexagons and straight lines, and some of the things look like they used to have hover components but all of those are broken or torn off, so it’s half Olympic weight room half junkyard.

CAMERON: I think the bench press would normally have hovers on the bar, so if it noticed that it was starting to fall too quickly it would catch itself and not kill you, but those are broken.

NICK: Oh yeah. Somebody definitely scavenged those as soon as they were installed to try to make a prison yard gun or something.

CAMERON: Yeah. So, the first person I’m assisting with spotting them on the bench press is a Herglic.

NICK: Oh, okay.

CAMERON: Because I like Herglics.

NICK: Yeah. That’s the second Herglic in the population, so that’s interesting. Are you trying to charm them or impress them with your strength? Like, what attribute you are using to try to make friends?

CAMERON: I think mostly impressing them with my strength, not a whole lot of talking happening.

NICK: Okay, so make me a… I’ll say Athletics probably. Athletics feels very weight-lifty.

CAMERON: Okie-dokie. What is the difficulty on the Athletics?

NICK: We’ll say this. If you do average it’ll be a person that knows you. If you do hard they’ll like you. if you do daunting they will be willing to put themselves in danger for you.

CAMERON: When you say that they know me, is that a bad thing?

NICK: No, like a good thing.

CAMERON: Okay [laughs], because I am a bounty hunter.

NICK: Oh yeah. That’s never gonna come up. Don’t worry about it.

CAMERON: Alright cool. I’m gonna do hard.

NICK: Okay.

CAMERON: Because Karma’s strong, but not that strong.

NICK: Will you flip me a dark side point to upgrade that check?

CAMERON: [sighing, reluctant] Sure. Ugh. I like this less now.

NICK: Yeah, I know.

CAMERON: Um… hmm. Okay. Two successes, one threat, and a despair.

NICK: Hey~! I have a big smile on my face.

HUDSON: [chuckles]

NICK: Okay, so two successes…

NICK & CAMERON: One threat.

NICK: …and a despair.

CAMERON: Uh-huh. So, since I was successful and the hard was having someone like me…

NICK: Uh-huh?

CAMERON: …can the despair be that we introduced one of the characters who knows me as Karma the bounty hunter?

NICK: Oh yeah.

CAMERON: Okay.

NICK: Trying to decide which one.

CAMERON: [laughing] How many did I put in here?

NICK: At least three. I was thinking about it yesterday.

CAMERON: Oh great. Okay.

NICK: So, with two successes, a despair and a threat, this Herglic has 150-200 kilos of weight on this bar, just a ridiculous amount, and it starts to fail, and she isn’t able to keep the bar from sinking towards her chest, and you are helping someone else, but you stop helping them, come over, and you grab it. It’s too heavy for you, but between the two of you you’re able to get the weight re-racked, and she sits up and says:

NICK (as Herglic): Oh, well thank you very much. That could have been really bad. You must be some of the fresh meat.

NICK: From behind you, you hear:

NICK (as ???): Oh, it’s not just fresh meat, brother.

NICK: You turn around and you see a light clover green Gigoran who says:

NICK (as Gigoran): That’s Karma the bounty hunter.

NICK (as Herglic): Well whoever she is she’s more helpful than you, Ziller.

NICK: And we’re gonna cut away from the weights.

CAMERON: [giggles nervously]

NICK: Back to Xianna. You’ve seen someone that you recognize and you know this game, the Rancor Roundup. Who, with the hot hands, is currently winning this game?

LILIT: So, there is a blue Twi’lek named Tadzi’texa that I knew growing up. They lived on Ryloth, and their nickname is Hot Hands, because even back then they liked playing card games and gambling. Xianna and Tadzi did briefly date for a time as teens, but it was as teens and so they are now on good terms because they realized that dating when you are 15 is silly.

[giggling]

LILIT: “That wasn’t real dating. Whatever. We’re still friends.”

NICK: We see Tadzi shaking up these chance cubes. [shakes dice] So, Tadzi is rolling the dice, throws them, they land in a small group of gravel and scatter in a weird direction, and everyone sucks in a breath around the circle. Tadzi looks up and makes eye contact with Xianna and goes…

NICK (as Tadzi): Holy kriff. Xiann?

NICK: …and the dice fall to both on the red side, which is how you lose, and everyone cheers. Tadzi looks at the chance cubes on the ground and says…

NICK (as Tadzi): Kriff. Oh, this is bad for multiple reasons.

NICK: …and stands up and starts to edge back into the crowd, away from the chance cubes while everyone is celebrating.

LILIT: Xianna’s gonna work through the crowd to go stand next to them and talk to them a little bit.

LILIT (as Xianna): So, sorry about the dice… but it is good to see you~

NICK (as Tadzi): You’ve always been sort of a bad luck charm for me, Xiann. I am a little concerned that you’re here… and also I didn’t have the marker to cover that roll, so we’re gonna wanna move away from this very quickly.

LILIT (as Xianna): Ooh. Okay. Got you. Let’s leave. Let’s go by the strong people, that way my strong friend can beat them up if they come for us.

NICK: You and Tadzi start to head towards the weight area, and as you’re going a Rodian picks up the chance cubes, stands up, looks through the crowd and says…

NICK (as Rodian): Hey, Tadzi, you gotta cover this bet.

NICK: …and everyone turns around, and you hear mob mumbles starting, and Tadzi says…

NICK (as Tadzi): Yeah, let’s go. Let’s go quickly.

NICK: …and starts to do that fast walk towards the weight lifting area across the yard. Do you wanna make me a roll to see how quickly you can get back to Karma before this crowd catches you?

LILIT: Would that be like a Streetwise?

NICK: It would be a Streetwise if you’re trying to see the lay of the land. I would take a Stealth if you’re trying to break eye contact in a crowd. I would take Coordination if you’re trying to front handspring your way through. I’m open to whatever.

LILIT: I was gonna ask if there’s enough people out in this prison yard that we could stealth through the crowd and try to loop around so that the gambling crowd sort of loses us, or if it’s sparse enough out on this field that that’s not really a possibility.

NICK: This prison is, you can tell, a little overcrowded, like they all are. This one though, this yard is a big piece of the real estate of it, so it’s this weird combination of there’s open ground with nobody but then like packs of prisoners wandering from area to area, so if you were able to chain your route through a few of them you could probably break line of sight and see if you could throw them off, but if you don’t then you’re gonna be out in the open without anybody else around.

LILIT: Then yeah, I’ll do a Stealth check to try to lead us through these crowds and snake around in order to get to the weight area.

NICK: Okay. it’s gonna be a hard Stealth check and two black dice, because Tadzi isn’t particularly stealthy and is still kinda shocked to see you so you’re having to tow them along.

LILIT: Would you say that this is a chase and that I’m escaping an opponent?

NICK: Yeah, I would say that. That’s fair.

LILIT: Then I can add a blue die, because I have Shortcut. During a chase I can add a blue die per rank in Shortcut to any checks made to catch or escape an opponent.

NICK: Nice. Okay.

LILIT: [rolls] Uh… Once per session I can reroll any one Skulduggery or Stealth check using Natural Rogue.

[laughter]

NICK: Okay.

LILIT: Because there were a lot of failures in there and a lot of threats and I didn’t like that. This is a lot better. There we go. Two successes and one threat.

NICK: Okay. You’re able to keep ahold of Tadzi’s hand and loop through several crowds and break eye contact. You can hear from a distance this crowd saying “where’d they go,” “they owe us so much money,” “where is it,” and you manage to make it over near the weightlifting area just as you hear:

NICK (as Ziller): That’s Karma the bounty hunter, brother.

NICK: And this big Herglic stands up and says…

NICK (as Herglic): Don’t call me brother, you green furry jerk.

NICK: …and picks up the weight like a bat and starts to heft it. Ziller looks at Karma and says…

NICK (as Ziller): You’re the reason I’m in here, and you killed my brothers. You’re not gonna make it out of here.

NICK: …as you see Xianna and a blue Twi’lek with long, sharpened canines pull up to a stop right behind Ziller.

LILIT: Xianna comes to a stop and shoots their arm out mom style and stops Tadzi.

LILIT (as Xianna): Ooh… Ooh. Okay. Maybe we don’t go over here. It looks like my strong friend is also in a fight.

CAMERON: [laughs]

LILIT (as Xianna): So let’s just stay back here and pretend that we know nobody.

NICK (as Tadzi): Didn’t you just get here? How are you already having problems?

LILIT (as Xianna): This is surprising, because she is the responsible one.

CAMERON: [laughs]

LILIT (as Xianna): I don’t think anybody would be surprised that I am already having problems, but… Ohh! She is a bounty hunter, which is not good for her to be in here. I think what is happening is that she is running into people that she has put in the prison and she might get shanked, so we should stay back.

NICK: Tadzi says…

NICK (as Tadzi): She’s a bounty hunter?!

NICK: …and then some people around them go “there’s a bounty hunter in here,” and you see more people turning around.

LILIT (as Xianna): No! No. No bounty hunters here. We are just talking about how much they are bad. Yes. Bounty hunters, so terrible.

NICK: Karma makes eye contact with Xianna as Xianna says that bounty hunters are bad and terrible, and Ziller starts to stalk towards Karma and her new Herglic friend who says…

NICK (as Herglic): Well, it looks like we’re about to be going to solitary together. you can call me Blue.

NICK: …and Blue hefts a big thing of weight, and Ziller starts to move closer. I need you to roll initiative, Karma.

CAMERON: [laughs nervously] Okay. [sighs] Three successes, two advantages.

NICK: Nice. Can you roll me two yellows and a green?

CAMERON: Three successes, an advantage, and a triumph.

NICK: And can you roll me two greens and a yellow?

CAMERON: Three successes, two advantages.

NICK: So, Ziller stalks forward and you find that in your dropping into a fighting stance, Karma, that you and Blue are actually backed up against the weight bench that you were on, and Ziller picks up a one-handed barbell and swings it just straight towards your head.

[heavy rock music begins]

You were expecting some sort of circling or some sort of posturing, and he just goes straight for trying to hit you in the face with a big heavy weight, so I need you to roll me two greens and a yellow, average difficulty, but two blue dice.

CAMERON: I’m going to take two levels of Dodge, so I’m upgrading the difficulty of the attack by two.

NICK: Wow. Okay.

CAMERON: So it is now two red dice, mwahahaha, because I don’t have my armor on… I am not as strong as I once was. Semi-helpful. Two successes, one threat.

NICK: So that’s gonna be 7 damage coming at you.

CAMERON: [grunts]

NICK: But you do get—he’s very off-balance, he put it all into that, and hits you in the collarbone, and you feel the bone creek a little bit, and he’s very off-balance. Now it is you and Blue’s turn. Who would you like to go?

CAMERON: I’ll go first.

NICK: Okay.

CAMERON: I would like to use Quickdraw to pick up a weight.

NICK: Okay.

CAMERON: So, yay. I’m now doing Melee. [laughs]

NICK: What kind of weight do you pick up, like a one-handed one, or like a plate, or…?

CAMERON: Um… Can I have one of the ball weights that just has the handle on top of it?

NICK: Kettle bell?

CAMERON: Yeah, kettle bell.

NICK: Okay.

CAMERON: So I can just swing it and whack it into his head.

NICK: Okay. So for that it’ll do +2 damage, but it’s not heavy enough to need a black die for being hard to swing.

CAMERON: Cool. Can I get a blue die for the threat he had last time, because he’s off-balance?

NICK: Yeah.

CAMERON: Six successes…

NICK: [startled] Ohh!

CAMERON: …one threat. You said it was +2?

NICK: Yeah, so that’s 11 damage. [laughs] Geez.

LILIT: Oof.

NICK: You break his freaking face. He spins around. He almost drops, not quite, because he’s still a big bulky boy, but then Blue goes and Blue rears back with that big weight, but just before Blue swings, Xianna, you and Tadzi hear…

NICK (as ???): There they are! They’re over by the weights!

NICK: …and this big crowd of people start charging across, and I need you to roll Vigilance as well

LILIT: Can do. I have a rank in Vigilance.

NICK: Hey, good job.

LILIT: What’s… Oh, Vigilance is Willpower.

NICK: [laughs]

LILIT: Oh no… Two successes.

[rock music ends]

NICK: Two successes. Then, could you roll me two yellow dice for the mob?

LILIT: Yes. That is one success and three advantages.

NICK: Cool. This mob starts to charge at you, but you have enough time that you think you’ll be able to do something before they get to you and Tadzi, and Blue goes ahead and wheels back and swings with all her might at Ziller who is still reeling from the last smack. I need a yellow and two greens rolled, please.

CAMERON: Okay. Two successes, one advantage.

NICK: So that’s 8 damage into Ziller’s face. Ziller just drops. Turns out blunt force head trauma is a pretty good way to put somebody down. The mob continues to charge. Karma, with your situational awareness you’re able to look up as Blue stands over Ziller holding this big metal bar with heavy weights on it and says…

NICK (as Blue): Yeah. Let’s say things about Herglics again. Let’s go!

NICK: …and this giant group of people—it started as like 10, but now it’s like 25, as they pick up other groups and are just moving towards the weights, and you can see the strong aliens picking up weights and starting to square off, too, as these groups charge at each other. Xianna, it’s your turn. What are you gonna do? [chuckles]

LILIT: Xianna’s gonna reach into her little jumpsuit and pull out the tiny little flimsy shiv that she found and is going to shove it into Tadzi’s hand.

[laughter]

LILIT (as Xianna): Here. You will probably get beat up more than me, so you can use this.

NICK (as Tadzi): Oh thanks. It’s like we’ve never been apart. We’re picking up right where we left off.

NICK: Tadzi spins it in their fingers to a backhanded grip and sets themself for this charging crowd. Do you wanna do anything else?

LILIT: Yeah. So Xianna puts the shiv into Tadzi’s hand and starts sidestepping away.

LILIT (as Xianna): Okay, but this time remember to watch your six. You never did that, and that is why you got hit a lot. Okie bye~

NICK: Are you just abandoning Tadzi? [chuckles]

LILIT: Not completely abandoning, but is going to try to blend into the crowd just a little bit more, because Xianna can tell that this is heading towards a full-yard riot but would like to not get hit right away, would like to try and weather it out a few minutes without getting punched, so that way when she gets punched towards the end it’s not as bad.

CAMERON: [chuckles]

NICK: Okay.

LILIT: Conserve the energy.

NICK: Makes sense. Roll me three green dice versus an average check. Let’s see how Tadzi does as this wave of angry gamblers breaks over them.

LILIT: They have a success and an advantage.

NICK: So they do okay. Tadzi grabs the shoulder of the Rodian that first pointed them out and plants the shiv in their side a couple of times and moves them off and then takes a punch to the face and bites somebody with their sharpened canines. Then I need Karma and Xianna to roll me a Force die, please.

CAMERON: Okay.

LILIT: One light side.

CAMERON: Two dark side.

NICK: Okay! This turns very quickly into a full-yard riot. The weightlifting prisoners have grabbed weights and are wading in towards the gambling prisoners. Everyone is surrounding Tadzi and fighting on either side. You get the feeling that there was a lot of pent up irritation going on in the yard and it’s just time for that to all come out. All of a sudden, over the PA system, you hear…

NICK (as ???): Prisoner riot on the yard. Put ‘em down.

NICK: …and stun bolts start flying out of the towers. They’re big, big stun bolts. They look like turbo laser blasts, but they’re blue, and the very first one plants itself in Karma’s chest and throws her backwards ten yards, and she slides on the ground, and she’s completely unconscious, just completely fried. You have a moment of feeling yourself being lifted off your feet, Karma, and looking at the sky, and you think “oh, they have that new stun technology, I saw those cannons at a convention,” and then you hit the ground and you’re unconscious.

CAMERON: “Jet was telling me about these.”

NICK: Yeah. Xianna, you do not get hit with the first barrage, and you are able to drop down on the ground, so we see you crawling amongst the scrambling feet of these fighting prisoners, and you see Tadzi, a few people over, also crawling on the ground trying to get away, because they pulled the cartoon thing of starting the fight and then ducking out of the fight. What do you do?

LILIT: So, Xianna is crawling on the ground, but instead of elbow army crawling she’s a little bit more on her hands and knees and is going to try to, while walking through, picking the pocket of some of the shorter inmates in the confusion as she’s going by.

NICK: [laughs] Okay. Make me a Skulduggery check.

LILIT: Like, is using the momentum of other people running into each other and jostling to hide the fact that she’s rummaging in pockets.

NICK: This is going to be daunting, because people are also trying to stab you and getting shot all around you, so this is a very difficult check.

CAMERON: We also have three light side points.

LILIT: Oh yeah. I’m gonna use a light side point. I got two successes and one advantage.

NICK: Nice. What would you like to have found?

LILIT: Okay. Xianna will have like to have found a few units of money, however we’re doing money in this prison, if it is credits or money.

[laughter]

LILIT: And maybe a few death sticks, and a pudding cup, or some other form of pocket-sized snacks. A bag of Funyuns. Space Funyuns. Spunyuns.

NICK: Spunyuns. Yep. You got it.

HUDSON: Ick.

LILIT: A bag of Spunyuns. That’s going down in the notes.

[laughter]

LILIT: Can they be flaming hot Spunyuns?

NICK: Sure. You’re able to pull 200 Credits out of four different people’s pockets, and you find two death sticks that are on the ground. Someone gets lifted up by the neck in front of you and shaken really, really hard, and then the person lifting them and the person being lifted both get hit with stun bolts and fly backwards, and where they were standing is a bag of flaming hot Spunyuns, and you just hear [magical noise, like finding an item in a video game] and you’re able to grab that and put it in a pocket.

LILIT: It’s a slow-mo shot, and she’s reaching her hand up into the air as the Spunyuns fly into it.

NICK: Yeah. You’re able to jam them in your jumpsuit, and then you hear the stomping of feet and you get kicked in the head by somebody trying to run past you, and then you hear the sound of stun bolts flying, and you also are knocked unconscious. The camera zooms out and we see this large mob fighting and rioting in the yard as the outsiders are slowly whittled down by stun bolts until it’s just, it’s like a Civil War documentary of people just sprawled out everywhere in uncomfortable directions, and you see several of the guards have walked onto the yard and are walking amongst all of the unconscious prisoners, occasionally poking at them.

The next thing we see is Blue and Karma and Ziller and Xianna regain consciousness in that little lobby of the solitary confinement induction area. Someone dragged you there. You all sit up and there’s a bored-looking guard in a plexiglass box.

NICK (as guard): Wow, we’re sure having a busy day. I’ve got Rooms 1, 2, 10 and 13. The Nautolan and the purple Twi’lek, why don’t you take 10 and 13. Blue, good to see you, Ziller, you guys got 1 and 2.

NICK: He goes back to reading a magazine and the durasteel doors pop open in this row of solitary confinement cells.

LILIT (as Xianna): Karma, do you want 10 or 13?

CAMERON (as Karma): Uh—

LILIT (as Xianna): I want 13.

CAMERON (as Karma): Okay cool. I was gonna say 10.

LILIT (as Xianna): Cool. That works out very well for us.

CAMERON (as Karma): See you later, Blue.

NICK (as Blue): Bye. See you in a week or two.

LILIT (as Xianna): Bye everyone~

CAMERON: [chuckles]

NICK: Ziller starts to walk into Room 2 and Blue just bodily shoulders him into Room 1 and then goes into Room 2 and shuts the door behind her. So, do you all just enter your solitary confinement cells?

LILIT: Yep.

NICK: Cool.

CAMERON (as Karma): Tink, which room are you in?

CAMERON: I’m doing the standard I’m walking into a dressing room trying to find a friend thing.

NICK: Heh. You call to see where Tink is and the guard says:

NICK (as guard): Now none of that. It’s solitary confinement.

HUDSON (as Tink): Did someone say my name?

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: The door slams shut with a clang.

LILIT: As Xianna is walking into her cell she looks at the guard and does a big wave and smiles.

LILIT (as Xianna): Okie! I’m going into my cell now, guard. I am Xianna.

CAMERON: [laughs]

LILIT (as Xianna): Ello guard. Okie bye~!

NICK: [laughs]

LILIT (as Xianna): I am in cell 13!

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: You hear a low mumble from outside that sounds familiar and then the clang of new people being brought into solitary. Karma and Xianna, you have several hours before you’re able to hear anything or adjust to the environment. How do you handle solitary?

LILIT: A nap.

NICK: You just immediately go to sleep?

LILIT: Oh yeah. Xianna just immediately finds a little area that’s, it’s not comfortable but it’s not ‘not’ comfortable, and probably takes off the jumpsuit, roll it up and make a little pillow and takes a nap.

NICK: Nice. The ground’s a little chilly, but the pillow’s worth it.

LILIT: Well what was the weather like outside? Was it hot?

NICK: Yeah, it was hot.

LILIT: Then yeah, cool concrete.

CAMERON: That feels nice.

LILIT: Yeah. Cats do it for a reason.

NICK: Yeah. [laughs]

LILIT: Xianna’s going to too.

NICK: Cool. What about you, Karma?

CAMERON: I think Karma’s gonna react in a pretty similar way. I think go sit in a corner, prop myself up with the wall, cross my arms over my stomach and huddle down, because getting shot with stun blasters hurts.

NICK: Yeah.

CAMERON: Even though we’re awake now there’s probably some lingering headaches, nausea type stuff happening, so just leaning in a corner.

NICK: After a couple of hours, you all are comfortable as can be, and you wake up. you hear through a small, small gap in the durasteel walls the sound of Tink talking to himself.

HUDSON (as Tink): I don’t know man, I’ve just been, we’ve been in here a long time. I know we’ve been in here a long time, I just don’t think we can make it, but… I, um… We need to…

HUDSON: I grab the harmonica and I start playing.

HUDSON (as Tink): [to the tune of “Bad to the Bone,” hums] Trapped in a cell. [hums] Man, it’s… it’s really—[sobs] Trapped in a cell~!

CAMERON: [chuckles] Aw.

NICK: Karma, you hear another voice which sounds very familiar say:

NICK (as Sentinel): Tink, you really need to work on those lyrics. I don’t know how long you’re going to be in here, but you’ve only had the two lines and I’m pretty sure it’s been like five hours.

HUDSON (as Tink): The creative process takes time, Sentinel.

NICK (as Sentinel): Well, the good news is that’s what we have… Time.

NICK: Xianna, you can hear Sentinel and Tink having this conversation as well.

LILIT: Is it coming through an air vent?

NICK: There’s a tiny crack in some of the durasteel seams, so it’s really quiet, but as you’ve adjusted to the quiet you’re able to hear it faintly until it’s pretty listenable.

CAMERON: How long has Tink actually been in solitary?

NICK: Oh, probably like four hours.

LILIT (as Xianna): Tink~

CAMERON (as Karma): It’s been four hours.

LILIT (as Xianna): Yes, it has only been four hours.

HUDSON (as Tink): [startled, stammering] What? Wh-What? Who is there?

CAMERON (as Karma): How are you talking to yourself already?

LILIT (as Xianna): Tink, it is me, Xianna.

HUDSON (as Tink): From the outside world?!

CAMERON: [laughs]

LILIT (as Xianna): Yes from the outside world. You have been in here for four hours.

CAMERON (as Karma): Did you not hear us yell for you when we came in?

HUDSON (as Tink): Oh… I thought that was just a dream.

CAMERON (as Karma): Nah buddy, we’re real. We promise. That’s something people in your dreams would never say.

CAMERON: [giggles]

HUDSON (as Tink): Well, yeah… No, yeah, they’d never say that.

LILIT (as Xianna): No, they would say things like “here is your spaghetti, put it on your head,” and then they hand you a bowl of hot dogs.

[laughter]

LILIT (as Xianna): That is what something in a dream would say to you.

CAMERON (as Karma): Huh.

HUDSON (as Tink): Just to be clear, we don’t have any food here, right?

NICK: No.

LILIT (as Xianna): Oh, I have a bag of Funyuns in my pockets, but I am not going to eat it. I am going to save it for later.

HUDSON (as Tink): Alright…

LILIT (as Xianna): Because if you get a bag of ramen you can crush up the Funyuns and put it on top of the ramen.

HUDSON (as Tink): You know, it’s been a hard time here in the clink, but…

CAMERON: [giggles]

LILIT (as Xianna): Tink, you have been in here for four hours!

HUDSON (as Tink): How do you know the struggles I’ve been through?

CAMERON (as Karma): We haven’t even been here a full day.

LILIT (as Xianna): I have been to jail more than once.

HUDSON (as Tink): We should just focus on the fact that we have our friendship to lean on and that it’s great that we’re all in here together.

LILIT (as Xianna): It is. I have already found other friends in here.

HUDSON (as Tink): Oh. Who?

LILIT (as Xianna): A childhood friend.

HUDSON (as Tink): Oh.

LILIT (as Xianna): They might be beaten up, but hopefully they ended up okay.

HUDSON (as Tink): You had friends as a child?

LILIT (as Xianna): Yes…?

CAMERON: I can’t decide if that was supposed to be rude or not.

HUDSON: [laughs]

LILIT (as Xianna): Why did you think I did not have friends?

HUDSON (as Tink): You just come across as the kind of person who would, you know, just… not?

CAMERON: [laughs]

LILIT (as Xianna): But I am so friendly~ It is parents that I did not have growing up.

HUDSON (as Tink): Ohh!

LILIT (as Xianna): Well like, my mother was there, but like, also not there, if you know what I mean.

HUDSON (as Tink): Oh like they were invisible.

CAMERON: [laughs]

LILIT (as Xianna): N-No… I meant that as a single working mother she often had to be out of the house not watching us because she had to work to provide for her family and also go, you know, work against the Empire.

HUDSON (as Tink): Ahh. Yeah, that sounds important and all. Alright, well your childhood friend, so what’s their name?

LILIT (as Xianna): Tadzi.

HUDSON (as Tink): Tadzi. Huh.

LILIT (as Xianna): It is a traditional Twi’lek name. Don’t make fun of it.

HUDSON (as Tink): I’m not making fun of it. I think it’s just a tad-zi bit unique.

CAMERON: Whoa. [laughs]

LILIT (as Xianna): That doesn’t work in Twi’lek!

[laughter]

LILIT (as Xianna): I hope you know. I hope you know it only works in Basic.

HUDSON: [laughs]

NICK: From Sentinel’s cell you hear:

NICK (as Sentinel): Now, as nostalgic as it is to hear this style of conversation for the first time in what feels like a very long time, what are you all doing in this prison?

LILIT (as Xianna): Sentinel~! Ello.

NICK (as Sentinel): Hi Xianna.

NICK: And that’s gonna be the end of the episode.

CAMERON: [laughs]

ALL: Ba-naaa~!

## Outro

CAMERON: Thanks for listening to Tabletop Squadron. If you enjoyed our show, please consider leaving a review on your podcast listening app of choice. Reviews will help new listeners to find the show, and every time we get one the squad gets warm fuzzies.

If you’re so inclined, you can also help support the show through our Patreon which can be found in the show notes, on our website, and basically anywhere else we post things. We have all sorts of Patreon levels including some of my favorites, Bantha Buddy, Tarkin’s Underwear Drawer, and Hot tub hangout, which all have fabulous rewards and super great names.

Xianna’fan is played by Lilit Penrod. They can be found on Twitter at @cheerio_buffet.

Tink is played by Hudson Jameson. He can be found on Twitter at @hudsonjameson.

Karma Nailo is played by me, Cameron Robertson. You can find me on Twitter at @midnightmusic13.

Our game master is Nick Robertson, and you can find him on Twitter at @alias58.

Our intro song is Space Jam by Pablo Ribot.

Additional music by James Gunter.

Follow the podcast on Twitter and Instagram at @Tabletop_Squad and join our Discord and share all your food and cute pet photos with us. We also sometimes talk about Star Wars. You can find a link to join our Discord on our website and in our pinned tweet. See you next time.

Word document download: S2 Episode 2 The Good Ramen

PDF download: S2 Episode 2 The Good Ramen

Read in browser:

Tabletop Squadron Transcript – Season 2, Episode 2:
The Good Ramen

Transcript by Tyler (Twitter: @Tyler_MoonSage)

## Intro

NICK: Hi everyone, and welcome to Tabletop Squadron, a Star Wars: Edge of the Empire actual play podcast. I’m Nick, your game master. Every other Thursday, our story follows a thief, a bounty hunter, and a slicer as they hunt for galactic treasure, staying away from a bitter rival and growing closer together.

First of all, thank you to dr0wwarr10r for your review of the show. We’re glad you’re having fun listening, and thank you for helping others find us. We also have a new patron. I want to issue a warm welcome to CurseOfStu. Thank you for joining us on our space hijinks. Your expertise wrangling dangerous creatures will come in handy as we just picked up some rathtars and they’re causing a mess. Here’s your body armor and your shock prod. Good luck.

Not much else to announce this week, so we’ll jump right into it.

Music credits and content warnings for this episode can be found in the show notes.

Let’s get into the episode.

##

NICK: Hello! Welcome to Tabletop Squadron, Episode 2 of Season 2. I’m your host and game master, Nick. Boy, things sure are getting interesting aren’t they? We’re all just as excited as you are to see how this turns out. Let’s everybody go around the table and say who you are and what character you are playing today, starting with Lilit.

LILIT: Hello. I am Lilit, and I will be playing Xianna’fan, a Twi’lek smuggler.

NICK: Great. Up next we’ve got Hudson.

HUDSON: Hi, I’m Hudson. I’m playing Tink, a Gigoran slicer. {with strange emphasis}

NICK: Agh…

[laughter]

HUDSON: Yeah, that rolled off the tongue in ways I didn’t want it to.

NICK: It was more sensual than I was expecting. Eh…

HUDSON: [close to the mic, poor ASMR attempt] A Gigoran slicer!

NICK: [groaning laughing] No-ho-ho!

CAMERON: [giggles wryly]

NICK: Last but not least, we have Cameron.

CAMERON: Hello. I am Cameron, and I am playing Karma Nailo, the Nautolan prison inmate.

NICK: Oh-ho. What an interesting character class you have chosen.

CAMERON: Yup. [laughs] Also a bounty hunter.

NICK: Well, before we get started, let’s do the Destiny Roll!

CAMERON: One light side.

LILIT: One light side.

HUDSON: One dark side.

CAMERON: [gasps dramatically]

NICK: What does that bring us to?

CAMERON: Two light side, one dark side.

NICK: Nice. Cool. When we last left off… you all got sent to prison. You’re there to try and rescue someone from jail. You were inducted into the prison and got the rundown of kinda how things work from the head guard. You did quickly learn that solitary confinement is sort of the punishment that is the trademark of this place. If you break the rules you get sent to solitary. You were brought to your cells. You met Filbert, which is Tink’s cell mate, and you then went to the cafeteria where you were having a nice lunch when a huge shark creature introduced himself and then slammed Tink’s head into the table. We last left off with Tink putting a lunch tray against his stomach horizontally and charged at the shark creature. [giggling] Am I missing anything?

HUDSON: So, how much like Street Sharks was the shark creature?

NICK: Not as Street Sharky as you’re probably picturing. Think more like Adonis ripped body, gray skin, shark head. This one isn’t the same species that we’ve seen in the past that’s much more Street Shark. This one’s more like big ripped scary dude…

HUDSON: Ahh.

NICK & CAMERON: Shark head.

NICK: Yeah.

CAMERON: So like, no neck, just shark head.

NICK: Mm-hmm. So, let’s go ahead and roll Vigilance for this. Karma and Xianna, you do not have to roll Vigilance yet, because you are not yet involved, so it’s just gonna be Tink to start.

HUDSON: One success.

NICK: The shark guy rolls two yellow and a green.

CAMERON: Two successes, three advantages.

NICK: So, here’s how this goes. You were sprinting at this shark person with this tray horizontally aimed towards the two of you, and the shark guy watches you coming, has a confused look on his face which is kind of painful to look at on a shark face, and as you are within striking distance he just straight-palm strikes into the tray, shoving it into your abs as hard as he can, and I’m gonna need to roll an attack against Tink. It’s gonna be two yellow and two greens.

CAMERON: Two difficulty because it’s Melee?

NICK: Yep.

CAMERON: One success, two advantages.

NICK: He has 4 Brawn, so that’s 5 damage. We’ll give +1 damage for the tray, so that’s 6 damage coming at you, Tink.

HUDSON: With my Soak that’s 3 damage total.

NICK: He slams the tray forward into your abs. You feel something rupture just a little bit, like at the skin level. It hurts.

HUDSON (as Tink): [pained grunt]

NICK: You double over under the pain and the shark rolls his shoulders and says…

NICK (as shark): Come on, don’t stop yet, we gotta make this look good. I gotta get my reputation in order.

NICK: …and strikes like a fighting pose and does the four-finger “come at me” gesture where he waves his hand forward, like this. I’m trying to describe this with words and struggling.

HUDSON: A “come hither” with four fingers.

[laughter]

NICK: There you go. You got it. You made it sound like a sex thing.

HUDSON: [laughs] I guess I did. I pull the tray out of my stomach and wield it like a vibro-axe and run forward, screaming.

HUDSON (as Tink): Aaaaaahhh!

NICK: … Do you hit him?

HUDSON: Yes.

[laughter]

NICK: Okay.

HUDSON: Well, I mean, that depends how this roll goes, but yes.

NICK: Yeah. Roll me that attack. You can use your Melee check instead of Brawl, because you are using a weapon.

HUDSON: That’s convenient.

CAMERON: [chuckles]

NICK: It’s only gonna add 1 to your damage, though, instead of the 2 or 3 that the axe does.

HUDSON: Five successes, one advantage.

NICK: Geez, you’re really good at this. That’s 9 damage coming at this guy. You hit this guy really solidly. What does that look like as you charge him with your lunch tray?

HUDSON: I smack him across the face with the tray and he goes oof and like falls backwards a little bit and you see a drop of blood fall down from a cut I made on the face.

NICK: Heh. He falls backwards and lands with his elbows against a table, and you see that drop of blood. He looks surprised and brings a hand up to the cut and looks at the blood and then licks it off of his finger. He turns around and he picks up the lunch table he was leaning against. It’s a white fiberboard table with enamel finish on the top. It’s kind of flimsy looking, but it’s like ten feet long. It probably weighs like 15 kilograms. He picks it up and tries to smash it over your head. Same roll as before, please, but add a black die because it’s a big, unwieldy table.

CAMERON: Fascinating. Three advantages and a triumph, but no successes.

HUDSON: [laughs]

CAMERON: You’re welcome. [laughs]

NICK: Okay, so he doesn’t hit you with the table, but—

HUDSON: Hurts my feelings real bad.

CAMERON: [giggles]

NICK: The table smashes on the ground and he’s left holding two of the legs of the table and they’re perfect length for swinging and have jagged ends. He looks at those and shrugs, like “okay.” At this point there is a walkway around the edge of this cafeteria that’s probably ten meters up off the ground, and there’s guards up there, and some of them grab what look like grenade launchers off the walls and start launching tear gas into the cafeteria and an alarm starts to go off. The shark is obscured by tear gas and you can hear him coughing, but he’s coming towards you.

CAMERON: [hums the Jaws danger tune]

NICK: [laughs] Yeah. [also hums the tune] Karma and Xianna.

CAMERON: Yeah?

NICK: Tink and this shark guy appear to be fighting to the death. The crowd of prisoners is starting to form a circle and cheer. Some of them are trying to leave, but they’re locked in with this tear gas coming down. What are you two doing? Are you just watching? Are you gonna help?

CAMERON: I have been watching and eating my lunch.

NICK: [laughs]

CAMERON: Because we sat down and the shark guy immediately approached us.

NICK: Mm-hmm.

CAMERON: So I’m like eating my pudding cup, watching, probably occasionally yelling out tips on form, probably to both combatants.

[chuckling]

NICK: What about Xianna? Same thing? Just hanging out at the table?

LILIT: Xianna’s placing bets with other prisoners on who’s gonna win, and Xianna has definitely bet a usage of impact on Tink winning.

NICK: We get a prisoner going:

NICK (as prisoner): Hey, how do you have impact in here? Do you know Jeyb?

CAMERON: [chuckles]

LILIT (as Xianna): You know. Like, this is a prison. Do you not know?

NICK (as prisoner): Is it, uh, readily available?

LILIT (as Xianna): I mean now it is, yes.

NICK: The prisoner shrugs and shakes your hand and then wipes his hand on his pants.

LILIT (as Xianna): I wash my hands…

[laughter]

LILIT (as Xianna): Like, ugh, amateurs.

NICK: But yeah, takes that bet. You bet that Tink was gonna win?

LILIT: Yes.

NICK: Okay.

CAMERON: Xianna learned from last time when she bet against Tink.

NICK: As the tear gas is starting to fill up the room you can hear the sound of approaching prison guards coming towards either door as this is going on. Tink, it is your turn. What are you doing?

HUDSON: So, my translator actually filters out the tear gas… [chuckles]

NICK: Eh…

HUDSON: …but my eyes get really—

NICK: Flip me a light side point. That can be a capability of your translator.

HUDSON: Yeah!

NICK: Your lungs are okay but your eyes hurt like mofos.

HUDSON: Yeah.

NICK: Yeah.

HUDSON: So, is this table on top of me then?

NICK: No, it like smashed on the ground in front of you.

HUDSON: Oh, in front of me.

NICK: Yeah.

HUDSON: Okay. What is in my immediate area I can grab?

NICK: As far as things that are available around you, you’ve got your lunch tray with a smattering of shark blood, there are some tables nearby, there is a ring of prisoners that are cheering you on, there is a post wrapped in padding with a PA system at the top that is blaring an alarm, there is a grenade of tear gas that is actively pumping out tear gas right next to you, there is a large shark creature holding two jagged table legs approaching you… that’s kind of your immediate surroundings. If there’s something that you want nearby we could talk about it, if there’s something that springs to mind. It’s like a prison lunch room. There’s prison lunch room things.

HUDSON: Okay. One thing I kinda wanna do is spend this turn to do what the kids call roll like a log and get them off their feet.

NICK: So you’re going to lay on the ground and roll at them?

HUDSON: yeah, like stop, drop and roll style.

NICK: Towards their feet?

HUDSON: Yes.

NICK: Okay!

LILIT: It’s a bold move.

CAMERON: I would argue that Tink should get a blue die for blending in.

NICK: For blending in with the tear gas? I agree, 100%.

CAMERON: Okay.

NICK: So that is a Brawl check.

HUDSON: [sarcastically] Great.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: Yeah, I know.

HUDSON: I still refuse to put anything in Brawl.

NICK: [laughing] You should put point sin Brawl. This happens to you a lot.

HUDSON: It does… Okay. I get a blue die and then difficulty is?

NICK: Two.

HUDSON: Two successes and an advantage.

NICK: You can either do damage to his shins or I’ll take the two successes and advantage for knocking him prone. That’s not exactly how the rules work, but I like it. You wanna knock him over?

HUDSON: Yes, knock him over.

NICK: Okay. You knock him over. He falls prone.

[dramatic bass noise]

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: [laughing] He falls down, like face-first, lands on his face. You hear his head bounce a little bit. Also, the air is a little clearer down here because the gas is rising, so that’s fun. That’s actually not how tear gas works. It stays low because it’s heavier than air, but fuck it, Star Wars gas. He falls. He hits the ground with a thud. Do you continue to roll under the table or do you stop and get back up?

HUDSON: I stop and get back up.

NICK: Okay, so that’s both of your maneuvers. He climbs to his feet. The shark is gonna roll two greens against two purples with a black die.

CAMERON: Two failures and a threat.

NICK: Yeah. He climbs to his feet. He’s discombobulated. You are the same color as the gas. You are close down to the ground. He’s turned around. He can’t find you. also, he dropped his table legs when he fell down and he got up and he can’t see those, so he’s just looking around wildly for you and can’t find you in the tear gas. You hear the sound of guards opening the doors and you hear them starting to yell at people to get back against the walls, and you hear the zap of stun blasters starting to go off. What do you do?

HUDSON: How close am I to a stun blaster that someone would have?

NICK: Well, you’re not in the middle of the room, you’re near a wall, but you’re back away from the two different entrances to the cafeteria, so you’re not super close to a guard. You could run towards one and try to get one, but that’s a… I will say, out of character, if you try to take a gun from a guard you might die.

HUDSON: That would—Yeah.

NICK: They may just kill you.

HUDSON: Yeah. That’s a thing. Yeah, I was thinking about that a little more and I was like, [inhales] how much do I want to hurt this shark?

NICK: [laughs] I mean, I want you to hurt the shark, but…

HUDSON: Would it cost a turn to say do you want a truce?

NICK: No. Just talking to him won’t cost a turn. If you’re trying to actually convince him to not fight you, that would be like a Charm or Negotiation roll or something and that would be your turn, but because you’re hidden in the smoke I’ll let you do it Batman style where he can’t figure out where you are, if you wanna do it that way.

CAMERON: [in a Batman voice] Do you wanna join our squad?

NICK: [in a Batman voice] Justice!

HUDSON (as Tink): You are a worthy adversary. How about a truce? Your face is already bloody enough.

NICK (as shark): Are you making fun of me in the middle of this fight?

NICK: Are you gonna roll something?

HUDSON: Yeah, I’m gonna roll Negotiation.

NICK: Okay.

HUDSON (as Tink): No, no, it’s more of a compliment to your, uh, your masculinity.

NICK: Difficulty is going to be hard, so three purples, but you can have a blue die because this guy is mildly concussed at this point. [chuckles]

HUDSON: Three failures and four advantages.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: Well! Any ideas on what you want those advantages to be? Because the failures means he goes…

NICK (as shark): This is a prison fight. You don’t just call a truce. Where are you?

NICK: …and starts turning around.

HUDSON: Can I say something that really hurts their self-esteem with the advantages?

NICK: Sure.

HUDSON (as Tink): Huh, megalodon? More like megalo-don’t you wanna quit?

CAMERON: [giggles]

NICK: The shark stops, goes…

NICK (as shark): Aw…

NICK: …and bends down, picks up one of the table legs, and then sniffles away a little bit of a tear.

NICK (as shark): Come out of that smoke. This is… Have you never been to prison before? This is like a thing that you do.

NICK: You can see the lights of blasters starting to fly through the room as prisoners are either raising their hands and leaning up against the wall or getting stunned. Karma, Xianna, what are y’all up to?

LILIT: Xianna’s already doing the correct procedures and is up against a wall, hands up, but is in a way that she can still view the fight and is next to the person that she placed the bet with.

NICK: And on the other side you’ve got Filbert down by your waist.

NICK (as Filbert): Well, looks like your friend got into some trouble pretty quick there.

LILIT (as Xianna): Yes, but I trust him to win.

HUDSON: Over where the fight is happening I yell from a distance.

HUDSON (as Tink): You can call me Dragon!

CAMERON: [laughs]

LILIT (as Xianna): His name is not Dragon.

NICK (as Filbert): Well, Tink sure seems to have a sense of humor. Pretty bad luck drawing that big old shark, though. He’s new too, but I don’t think this is going too well.

NICK: As you can see the security walking past you. They’ve built a cordon – it’s like a square of guards that are moving in towards the people who are still watching the fight from up close and Tink and the shark. Karma, what are you up to?

CAMERON: Karma finished her pudding cup, calmly went and put her tray away at the tray drop-off, just walking around like nothing’s happening. [laughs]

NICK: [laughs]

CAMERON: Walks over to the wall, leans against it.

NICK: We get the shot of you walking with your dirty tray, setting it in the return, there’s stun bolts flying around you.

CAMERON: As she leans down to set it in the retray a bolt goes right where she would have been and she stands back up, turns around.

NICK: [laughs]

CAMERON: It’s just constantly missing. She’s constantly moving out of the way at the last minute. Just walking. Not engaging, but upping her cool factor.

NICK: So, the shark finally sees Tink standing in the shadows of the tear gas and charges at him with the table leg held high. Make me one more attack check, please, but with two black dice because the shark is emotionally compromised and still discombobulated.

CAMERON: And suffering from the effects of tear gas.

NICK: Mm-hmm.

CAMERON: One success, one threat.

NICK: So Tink, he gets you on the side of the head. It hurts. You see stars. You take 6 damage, and he’s up close to you. There are five guards in a square kind of formation around you aiming at the two of you. Everyone else has been pacified. You hear one of them say…

NICK (as guard): Get down on the ground.

NICK: …and it’s your turn. You’ve just been hit in the head with a table leg.

HUDSON (as Tink): This is just getting fun, though.

HUDSON: Punch him, uppercut.

NICK: Okay.

CAMERON: [chuckles]

HUDSON: That would be Brawl, wouldn’t it?

NICK: That would in fact be Brawl, yes.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: We need to get you a shiv. We really do. [laughs]

HUDSON: One failure.

NICK: Okay. You say this is just getting good and you go to throw an uppercut and the shark just leans back a little, and you realize you’re actually pretty dizzy from all of the poison gas in the air. You start to waver on your feet. The guard who had shouted at you yells:

NICK (as guard): Put him down!

NICK: The last thing you hear is pew-pew-pew-pew, and you get hit with a whole bunch of stun bolts, and you drop. The last thing you see is the shark standing over you going…

NICK (as shark): [boastfully] Ha-ha!

NICK: …and then you hear pew-pew-pew and the shark drops too as you’re both stunned down.

[laughter]

NICK: So, we cut away to…

[slow groovy music begins]

The prisoners are all being led out of the cafeteria. You’re being led back toward the north cell block which is your base of operations. As Karma and Xianna are standing outside, everyone’s made to line up in the fenced-in corridor that leads from the cafeteria back to the cell block, you see Tink and the shark guy being dragged out. They drag them out the hallway.

[slow groovy music ends]

Tink looks like he’s a little conscious but not able to move or anything, and they turn right and start to head down, it looks like, past the rec yard where you came in towards the far corner of the prison. One thing you notice is there are two Human guards per Tink and the shark guy each with one arm in their armpit kind of dragging them along, and behind that is another group of guards, and you see an assassin droid wearing the guard uniform walking with the rest of the guards. The droid makes eye contact with Karma, and then Xianna, and says…

NICK (as HK): Well that’s unexpected.

NICK: …and then turns very quickly to act like he didn’t see you and keeps walking, but he is walking right past you.

LILIT (as Xianna): Bye Hank~!

NICK: [laughing] HK ducks his head down in his shoulders a little bit and keeps walking, and one of the guards turns to him.

NICK (as guard): Did that inmate talk to you?

NICK (as HK): Supposition: That would be impossible as I do not know any inmates.

NICK: And continues to walk on.

CAMERON: We’re all lined up against this fence, and Karma is not standing next to Xianna because we weren’t next to each other on the wall when we got led out. She leans forward and flips her head down to look at Xianna and is like, what… not talking but making the “what” gesture.

LILIT: Xianna kind of leans out and yells back.

LILIT (as Xianna): I’m pretty sure that was Hank!

[laughter]

CAMERON (as Karma): Affirmative.

LILIT (as Xianna): Did you not recognize him?!

NICK (as guard): Silent on the line, inmates.

NICK: You hear the sound of a stun blaster being charged. Filbert elbows Xianna in the hip and says:

CAMERON: [snickers]

NICK (as Filbert): Hey. Don’t be talkin’ around them. They’re gonna stun ya. You don’t wanna go to solitary.

NICK: The guard points the stun blaster at Filbert.

NICK (as guard): I said silent on the line.

NICK: We’re gonna cut away from that, and we’re gonna cut away to Tink. You really regain yourself as you are dragged through the open air, the fresh air helps, and you start to get some feeling back into your legs. As you start to regain your balance the guards let you go, and you fall to the ground, but then you are able to get back up and you walk ahead as they hold you at stun blaster point.

You find yourself being led through the rec yard, out of the fence, through another area into what looks like a flat piece of ground nestled in the corner of the walls. You can see a large metal plate that’s sunk into the ground, and as you get close one of the guards holds up a little RF fob and hits a button and it starts to open. There’s a long spiral staircase leading down into the earth. The guards prod you towards the staircase, and you hear what sounds like some sort of droid saying:

NICK (as HK): Welcoming Statement: Welcome to solitary.

HUDSON (as Tink): Uh… thanks?

NICK: The droid walks up behind you and jabs you in the back with his gun.

NICK (as HK): Commanding Statement: You will comply. Enter the staircase.

HUDSON (as Tink): You sound familiar…

NICK: He shoots you.

[laughter]

NICK: You fall to your knees and he turns around and goes…

NICK (as HK): Can you believe that guy? These inmates get weirder every time.

NICK: …and goes and stands behind some of the guards who are looking kind of suspicious. You’re able to regain your feet. The shark guy is already heading down the stairs. Do you follow?

HUDSON: Yeah, I follow.

NICK: Okay, so that means they don’t shoot you anymore, which is probably good for your long-term health. You head down this staircase. As you’re walking, you do struggle with the stairs because the stun shocks are still causing your limbs to kind of jump. You have to grab the wall to steady yourself a few times. The air down in solitary smells dry and dusty as you come to the bottom. There is a small guard room behind a large sheet of transparesteel. A bored-looking guard waves you through the entry and towards a row of doors.

NICK (as guard): You’re in Room 12. The shark there fella is in Room 3. Go ahead and shut yourself in.

NICK: He doesn’t even look up from the holo-screen that he’s watching in there. It all seems very kind of honor system. [chuckles] There is a barred door that can shut leading into these individual cells, but it’s just sitting open right now. All you have is the staircase, this little lobby with no furniture, the little guard room, and then these individual tiny cells. What do you do?

HUDSON (as Tink): Hey, shark buddy, sorry about what I said earlier. I was under the influence of tear gas, and things just got heated, you know?

NICK: The shark is halfway in Room 3, about to pull the door shut behind him, and he looks at you and says:

NICK (as shark): We’ll have to work that out at some point.

NICK: Ka-clang, and it echoes loudly as he shuts himself into the solitary cell.

HUDSON: I walk to my solitary cell and get myself in and close the door.

NICK: Great. Good job being a rule follower. You shut yourself into Room 12. The inside of the solitary room is just a durasteel box. There’s a small drain in the corner you assume is “the facilities,” but otherwise the room is bare. You’ve got all the time in the world. What do you do in solitary?

HUDSON: I cross my legs and attempt to meditate, although no one has ever taught me.

[quiet chuckling]

HUDSON: I just go, hmm~, close my eyes… and I fall asleep real quickly.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: [laughs] Okay, yeah. We see Tink, legs crossed, hands clasped in his lap, humming to himself. The humming starts to falter and then he slumps against the wall and falls asleep.

CAMERON: The real question, though: How are the acoustics in solitary? Since he was humming.

NICK: If Tink can hit the right note, the resonance of the room is real nice.

CAMERON: Mmm.

NICK: I don’t think Tink has yet.

CAMERON: Fair.

NICK: So, you don’t know how long you were asleep. You wake up, you try to meditate again, you probably fall asleep again, but over time your legs and arms stop jumping with the stun bolts and your eyes and breathing start to clear of the tear gas, and you’re almost feeling comfortable. It must have been a couple of hours. You hear a voice coming from the wall behind you.

NICK (as Sentinel): I recognize that presence. Tink, is that you?

HUDSON (as Tink): [dazed] Whaaat?

HUDSON: Somehow Tink has 5 o’clock shadow even though it’s only been a few hours.

[laughter]

CAMERON: And his face is already covered in fur!

HUDSON: Yeah.

LILIT: Is it a ring of darker fur? Suddenly a light gray fur has grown in.

HUDSON: Yes, suddenly a light gray fur has grown in.

HUDSON (as Tink): Who goes there?!

NICK: You can see that there’s a little seam in the wall behind you as you’re looking, and it looks like some of the welding has been chipped away, and there’s just the tiniest little gap which must be what’s letting the sound through, and you can hear:

NICK (as Sentinel): Tink, it’s… it’s me. I can’t identify myself. There’s no guarantee they know who I am. But, we’ve worked together for some time…

NICK: You can hear the wink.

HUDSON (as Tink): I know you! You’re… [stammers] Um… Like, when something is, is uh, is every once in a while?

NICK: There’s a long pause. You can hear the person in the next cell thinking.

NICK (as Sentinel): Um… Sure. Yeah.

HUDSON (as Tink): Oh! It’s great to talk to you. How have you been?

NICK (as Sentinel): I’m gonna be honest, Tink. Not amazing. I have been in solitary for quite a while. I got captured right before the beginning of your mission, which we will not go into details of, and here I am.

HUDSON (as Tink): Oh, well… Wait a second! Can’t you use the F—the… the “orce-Fe” to help us…?

CAMERON: [giggles]

NICK (as Sentinel): Stop. Stop. Stop.

NICK: You hear a thump, like a frustrated head hitting the wall next to you.

NICK (as Sentinel): Listen. I got here because I got captured by the Empire. Why are you here?

HUDSON (as Tink): Why are any of us here?

NICK (as Sentinel): I mean, that’s a good point and we have plenty of time. If you would like to philosophize about that we have the time.

HUDSON (as Tink): You know, I’ll think on it later. So why am I here in this cell? Well, hmm… You know that shark? Big scary one?

NICK (as Sentinel): No.

NICK: [chuckles]

HUDSON (as Tink): Well, there’s a big scary shark and I kinda had to show what I’m about here and move up the food chain, so yeah… I got in a fight.

NICK (as Sentinel): Oh, I see. Oh! Because it’s your first day. That makes sense. You have to beat someone up to show that you’re a badass.

HUDSON (as Tink): Yes.

NICK (as Sentinel): How’d that go?

HUDSON (as Tink): Not great. I caused damage, but damage was caused upon me as well.

NICK (as Sentinel): Well, it sounds like we have some catching up to do. We’ll just have to be careful about what we say.

NICK: We’re gonna cut away from that to Karma and Xianna. After they sent everyone back to their cells to make sure that there weren’t any extra weapons in the cafeteria, to clear up the debris, to make sure everybody understood that, to quote the announcement over the PA system, “lunch is a privilege not a right,” you are led out into the rec yard. You see a lot of people, more people than would fit in the north cell block, and you can tell that both cell blocks are let out at the same time. A majority of the grounds of the prison are made up in this yard. It’s just brown dust, dirt, some of it’s terrace so there’s some parts that are above others, there’s some bleachers around, and you see a bunch of different activities. Why don’t you both roll me Perception checks on what’s going on that is important.

CAMERON: Okay~ What is the difficulty on the Perception check?

NICK: Difficulty we’ll say is average.

CAMERON: I got two successes and one threat.

NICK: Okay.

LILIT: Three successes and two advantages.

NICK: Okay, so Karma, you notice a couple of things right away. There is a volleyball court that is being used by some of the more athletic prisoners at this time.

CAMERON: [chuckles]

NICK: The sport looks a little different than your last experience with volleyball. There seems to be some contact. If you get near the net you’re likely to get hurt. You can see people sitting on the side with bruises or clutching limbs. It seems pretty no holds barred. You also see that there’s an area with a bunch of free weights that are being used, a lot of flexing muscles and strong people doing bench and spotting each other, and you also notice that there is a fence going around this entire rec area.

This entire area is fenced in. it’s a very tall fence, maybe like 6 meters tall with razor wire on top, and this is the only place you’ve seen where guards regularly are on the same level as the prisoners. They’re usually on gantries and stuff up high. They are standing on the other side of the fence doing a circular patrol. You notice that it seems like there’s a lot of guards and they seem to be cycling through, and one of them appears to be a droid of some kind.

Xianna, with your Perception you notice these things. You probably don’t notice the guards, because that’s not what your focus is right now. On top of that, you notice a couple of different prisoners that are very clearly the people you talk to if you need something. They are standing by themselves. A group of other prisoners will walk up to them. They will have a whispered conversation. They will turn away from each other where no one can see what’s behind them and then everyone will split up again. There’s two different people like that in this yard just kind of making the rounds. They’re very obviously suppliers, smugglers, that kind of thing.

You also notice that there is a kiosk set up in the corner. It’s through the fence, but there’s a little gap, and there’s a little store setup. It looks to be a place that you can exchange credits for things from the prison, like extra snacks, things like that.

LILIT: The commissary!

NICK: Yeah, there’s a commissary, and it backs up to the rec yard. You notice that there is a group of people in the corner very clearly gambling. You can’t see what they’re gambling on or what game they’re playing, but you recognize those cheers of success and boos of failure from the entire yard. It’s very clear what’s going on there. The other thing that you notice is there are some bleachers set up. it looks like there was some sort of athletics field or something here that’s no longer being used. It’s just kinda rundown. It’s become just another part of the rec yard.

[intense music begins]

But on the bleachers, there is a group of people very clearly sitting in a hierarchy. You see a very large alien of some kind sitting on the top seat, and then coming down from there there’s a couple of people, and then a few more, and they all seem really vigilant, and then there’s a group of less intense-looking people standing around the bleacher. It’s very clearly a gang setup. Whoever is over there is holding court right now.

[intense music ends]

And those are the things you see in the rec yard.

LILIT: Xianna does immediately go over to one of the “suppliers.”

LILIT (as Xianna): Ello. New here. Which one of you do I talk to for various types of contraband? One, fun makeup. Two, impact. I will accept other forms of drugs, but mostly impact. I can only bring so much in myself. Three, the better ramen. Yes, I know the commissary has the ramen noodles, but someone always brings in better stuff.

NICK: These two smugglers, you caught them when their circuits intersected and they were handing off inventory. They’re two Bothans. Their jumpsuits seem a lot more baggy than the ones that are standard issue. To your practiced eye their inventory is very clearly hidden amongst the jumpsuit. One of the Bothans says:

NICK (as smuggler1): Wow. First day and you’re already trying to find impact, huh? That’s a… decision that you are making.

LILIT (as Xianna): It is not my first time in a prison, and I have to look towards the future and prepare for when I run out.

NICK (as smuggler1): Well, if you have credits then this transaction will be pretty easy. Impact’s 300 a dose, makeup is 50 credits for more than you could probably use in a month, and the good ramen noodles vary by supply. It’s a daily market price we would have to assess… but if you’ve got credits we’re good to go.

NICK: And the other smuggler says:

HUDSON (as smuggler2): So uh, the ramen market opens at 4 AM in the morning, and uh… I guess there’s no other kind of 4 AM, right?

CAMERON: [laughs]

HUDSON (as smuggler2): We get the samples, you know, the little cubes of ramen you can try out. Might I suggest the Naboo Special when you come there.

NICK (as smuggler1): Yeah, the Naboo Special is the spicy duck flavor.

HUDSON (as smuggler2): Oh yes, it’s just [kiss noise].

CAMERON: [giggles]

LILIT (as Xianna): I mean, I guess there sometimes is a difference between 4 in the morning and 4 at night, if you know what I mean.

HUDSON (as smuggler2): [chuckling] Oh. Oh yeah.

[laughter]

LILIT (as Xianna): I mean those impact prices… eh, a little more than the other prisons I have gone to, but I guess the other prisons I have gone to have been… somewhere else. Where were they…?

LILIT: Also, how much money does Xianna have in her account? Like, her prison account. You have an account that your “loved ones” can put money into that you can then spend at the commissary.

NICK: Right. That is true. Do you think Nolaa would have put money in your commissary account?

LILIT: Yeah, and Xianna probably even would have – knowing that she was gonna get herself arrested – given money to somebody, probably Nolaa, to put onto the account.

NICK: So… the commissary, I would say you probably have like 200 Credits in there, maybe 500, like enough that you’re pretty well-off but not enough to raise red flags. The issue you’re going to run into is you can’t withdraw your commissary funds to go pay an illegal smuggler in the general population with. They’re assuming either you have credits smuggled in or that you have something to barter or a service to exchange for these things. They just gave you prices in credits because you’re new, so they thought maybe you would still have credits floating around.

HUDSON (as smuggler2): So, if you’re interested, right after the market ends in the morning I actually have this little stand where I sell wooden figurines if you’re interested. It really brightens up the aesthetic of the cell.

LILIT (as Xianna): I mean, that sounds lovely.

NICK (as smuggler1): That was a great pitch. You’re doing a great job. He’s new.

LILIT (as Xianna): You seem nice. Thank you.

HUDSON (as smuggler2): You’re welcome.

LILIT (as Xianna): I would love to see the figurines at some point. I was just asking more for reference in the future. You know, first day in, wanted to just get the layout of the place, but I am sure I will be back within a few days to actually make purchases.

HUDSON (as smuggler2): Oh, I figured… Heh, you get it? Figured. I figured… It’s, uh, well…

LILIT (as Xianna): Oh yes! Heh. I get the joke. It is very funny.

NICK (as smuggler1): And if you can’t get the credits together right now, don’t worry about it. I’m sure we can work something out.

LILIT (as Xianna): Yes. Okay. You two have a lovely day. Goodbye.

HUDSON (as smuggler2): Bye.

NICK (as smuggler1): See you soon.

NICK: Karma, what are you up to on the rec yard?

CAMERON: Karma is zeroed in on where HK was in the rotation around the rec yard and is kind of stalking him.

NICK: Okay. It looks like the guards on each side of this square yard are doing two sides of it, so you do a short side and a long side and you turn around and come back and they pass each other, but there’s also times where they just turn around and go back the other way. It’s a little hard to predict. They are in pairs, so HK is with one Human guard, and they’re walking up the short side and down the long side that’s closest to the cafeteria and turning around and going back. He’s just kinda walking. From the distance you’re at you can hear the guard say something, you don’t really hear it, but then projected loudly from HK you hear:

NICK (as HK): Patronizing Laughter: Ha-ha. Ha-ha. Ha… ha, ha. You are so funny.

CAMERON: I’m following to see if he ever ends up on his own or if he starts saying useful information for me in the conversations. [laughs] Karm is occasionally pausing when he’s approaching her to make sure that he knows that she’s there and is making it so that he is aware that she’s there.

NICK: The second time that you make meaningful eye contact with him—It’s hard to imagine a droid rolling their eyes, but he manages it somehow. He turns and says:

NICK (as HK): Officer Smith, I am in need of something from over there. Will you go get it for me, please?

NICK: And the other prison guard goes:

NICK (as Smith): What are you talking about…?

NICK (as HK): I need—Will you go to the, uh, cafeteria? I dropped restraining bolts or something. Officer Smith, please go to the cafeteria.

NICK (as Smith): Well, I’m not gonna leave you on patrol alone.

NICK (as HK): Officer Smith, please go to the cafeteria immediately. Thank you.

NICK: The guard shrugs.

NICK (as Smith): I don’t know what’s… Your communication is off.

NICK: And he leaves, and you have HK on the patrol alone and you’re able to approach.

CAMERON (as Karma): Hey HK. What’s up?

NICK (as HK): Do you think I did a good job? I don’t think he suspects anything.

CAMERON (as Karma): He may suspect a little bit. You did seem a little excited about it.

NICK (as HK): Now, this was more of a courtesy. We cannot be meeting like this as I am a prison guard. Next time I will be forced to shock you, because you are a prisoner.

NICK: And he brandishes the gun.

CAMERON (as Karma): Don’t you dare shoot me, HK.

NICK (as HK): There is a fence between me and you, and you are a prisoner, and I am a prisoner guard.

CAMERON (as Karma): HK, do not shoot me.

NICK (as HK): I’m not going to right now. This conversation was a courtesy.

NICK: You see HK shrug and cock his head to the side.

CAMERON (as Karma): Well, I appreciate that. Question. Are you here on a job for anyone?

NICK (as HK): If I was on a job for someone I would not disclose that information so readily.

CAMERON (as Karma): Why not?

NICK (as HK): Because… if I was on a job for someone I would be undercover as a prison guard.

CAMERON (as Karma): Hmm. Okay. Don’t shoot me.

CAMERON: [giggles]

CAMERON (as Karma): I would just like to lay down that rule for future encounters.

NICK (as HK): Well so the problem though now is we’re talking too long. The only way to keep the cover up is I think I’m gonna have to stun you before you walk away.

CAMERON (as Karma): [heavy sigh]

NICK: HK projects his voice louder and says…

NICK (as HK): Get away from the fence, inmate!

NICK: …and starts waving the gun around.

CAMERON: Karma takes a few steps back, rolling her eyes at HK. [laughs]

NICK (as HK): Don’t roll your eyes. Respect my position.

CAMERON: HK. Buddy. [laughs]

NICK: HK drops the gun back down.

NICK (as HK): [reluctantly, quietly] Yes, I’m doing a job. I got hired to break someone out of here.

CAMERON (as Karma): Okay, cool, us too.

NICK (as HK): What?!

CAMERON (as Karma): Yeah.

NICK (as HK): This was my thing.

CAMERON (as Karma): Well it’s our thing now. Also, I think you’re still the most important piece here, because you’re the only one with access to weapons.

NICK (as HK): They won’t let me have anything bigger than this.

CAMERON (as Karma): Yeah, but you can do a lot of damage with that.

NICK (as HK): It doesn’t actually kill organics, it just knocks them out.

CAMERON (as Karma): Well how hard are you hitting them with it?

NICK (as HK): I’m not good at melee.

CAMERON (as Karma): Well, I mean, you stun them first.

NICK (as HK): Oh. Ohhh…

CAMERON: [laughs]

CAMERON (as Karma): I should not have told you that.

NICK: [laughs]

CAMERON (as Karma): I regret this decision, but it’ll probably be useful in the future, so whatever.

NICK (as HK): This is great. I’m gonna try that out in a little while I think. This is good.

CAMERON (as Karma): Hmm.

NICK (as HK): Where did Officer Smith go? The cafeteria, right?

CAMERON (as Karma): Yup.

NICK: [smiling] And HK starts to stalk down the fence line towards the cafeteria.

CAMERON: [laughs]

LILIT: Xianna, from the distance, is waving.

LILIT (as Xianna): Bye Hank~!

NICK: HK puts one of his hands next to his face, even though that’s not how his speaker works, and says…

LILIT: [giggles]

NICK (as HK): Do not fraternize with a guard, inmate!

NICK: …and waves the gun at you, but it looks like a greeting, and then he continues to walk off. I think that’s where we’re gonna end the episode.

ALL: Ba-naaa~!

## Outro

CAMERON: Thanks for listening to Tabletop Squadron. If you enjoyed our show, please consider leaving a review on your podcast listening app of choice. Reviews will help new listeners to find the show, and every time we get one the squad gets warm fuzzies.

If you’re so inclined, you can also help support the show through our Patreon which can be found in the show notes, on our website, and basically anywhere else we post things. We have all sorts of Patreon levels including some of my favorites, Bantha Buddy, Tarkin’s Underwear Drawer, and Hot tub hangout, which all have fabulous rewards and super great names.

Xianna’fan is played by Lilit Penrod. They can be found on Twitter at @cheerio_buffet.

Tink is played by Hudson Jameson. He can be found on Twitter at @hudsonjameson.

Karma Nailo is played by me, Cameron Robertson. You can find me on Twitter at @midnightmusic13.

Our game master is Nick Robertson, and you can find him on Twitter at @alias58.

Our intro song is Space Jam by Pablo Ribot.

Additional music by James Gunter.

Follow the podcast on Twitter and Instagram at @Tabletop_Squad and join our Discord and share all your food and cute pet photos with us. We also sometimes talk about Star Wars. You can find a link to join our Discord on our website and in our pinned tweet. See you next time.

Word document download: S2 Episode 1 The First Day is the Hardest

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Tabletop Squadron Transcript – Season 2, Episode 1:
The First Day is the Hardest

Transcript by Tyler (Twitter: @Tyler_MoonSage)

## Intro

NICK: Hi everyone, and welcome to Tabletop Squadron, a Star Wars: Edge of the Empire actual play podcast. I’m Nick, your game master. Every other Thursday, our story follows a thief, a bounty hunter, and a slicer as they hunt for galactic treasure, staying away from a bitter rival and growing closer together.

I want to start off by thanking Laelap5 for their very kind review. Thank you for listening, and we’re glad you’re enjoying the show.

This week marks the beginning of Season 2 for Tabletop Squadron! We hope that you enjoyed the solo episodes with all the crew and are excited to share their new adventures with you. Thanks for coming along for the ride, and if you’re new to the show, welcome! This is a great jumping-on point, and we have a recap before this to get you up to speed.

Music credits and content warnings for this episode can be found in the show notes.

So now, let’s get into the episode.

##

NICK: Hello! Welcome to Tabletop Squadron, Season 2, Episode 1!

ALL: Woo!

NICK: Wow… Gosh. Season 2. Neat.

HUDSON: We made it!

NICK: Yep… we sure did, whatever “it” is.

HUDSON: Flying through space, with all the adventures.

LILIT: [giggles]

NICK: I’m your hosting game master, Nick. We’re gonna go around the table. Everybody say who you are, what character you’re playing today, and your character’s pronouns, starting with… Hudson.

HUDSON: Hi. My name is Hudson Jameson. I’ll use my last name this time.

NICK: Bold move.

LILIT: Ooh.

CAMERON: Whoa. [laughs]

HUDSON: I know. Don’t come find me on the internet.

CAMERON: It’s not like I say your name in the outro every time. [laughs]

HUDSON: [laughs] That’s true. My character name is Tink, a Gigoran slicer, and my pronouns are he/him, and I upgraded two of my stats. I put a point in Mechanics, and I put one point in Medicine, because between Seasons 1 and 2 I actually studied a real website on medicine.

LILIT: Huh.

NICK: Who, Tink or Hudson did?

HUDSON: Tink.

NICK: Oh, okay.

[laughter]

NICK: Next up we have Lilit.

LILIT: Hello. I am Lilit, and I will be playing Xianna’fan, a Twi’lek smuggler. My pronouns are she/her/they/them, and Xianna’s pronouns are she/her. I also put points into things. I bought a rank of Athletics, because…

CAMERON: Smart.

LILIT: …I need that, and then a rank in Knowledge: Outer Rim.

NICK: Great. Last but not least, we have Cameron.

CAMERON: Hello. I am Cameron, and I play Karma Nailo, the Nautolan bounty hunter. Both mine and Karma’s pronouns are she/her. I burned through my XP real quick and bought an additional talent tree.

NICK: Ooh.

CAMERON: So I have added the marauder talent tree from the hired gun career, and then I bought two talents on that tree. I bought a rank of Toughened, so my wound threshold went up by 2, and then I bought another rank of Lethal Blows, so now any time I crit I add 30.

NICK: Normally in the episode this would be where we did a recap. What I can say is that we just finished everybody’s solo adventure in between the first and second season. Karma assisted a gangster in messing with the Imperial economy, Xianna blew up a drug lab at the behest of a burgeoning smuggler and new ally, and Tink rescued a ballet theater.

HUDSON: Yup.

NICK: So, before we get started on this new Season 2 adventure, let’s kick it off with the Destiny Roll~!

CAMERON: One dark side.

LILIT: Two dark side.

HUDSON: Two light side.

CAMERON: Thank you, Hudson, saving the day.

NICK: So what’s that bring us to?

CAMERON: Three dark side, two light side?

NICK: Eh, not too bad. Jumping into the adventure.

[slow groovy music begins]

NICK: We open on a close-up of an older Human man. He has salt and pepper hair down to his shoulders swept back from his face and a goatee. His face is dirty and bruised, and he opens his eyes to look around. The man is sitting in a simple wheelchair and wearing a grayish-blue jumpsuit. The room he’s in is small and appears to be made out of poured duracrete. This is Sentinel, and he appears to be captured. As he looks around his environment he has only one thing to say.

NICK (as Sentinel): Kriff.

[slow groovy music ends]

NICK: Lilit! Please describe your character and her surroundings.

[smooth electronic music begins]

LILIT: Xianna is a purple Twi’lek with gray, swirly tattoos on the ends of her lekku. She is 1.71 meters or approximately 5’6” tall. That is the height in heels.

NICK: Oh…

LILIT: She is actually a little bit shorter than that without shoes.

NICK: Xianna, it’s been about six months since your last big job, the shipyard incident. What have you been up to, and what are you doing in your current location?

LILIT: She is wearing a black trench coat and black knee-high boots. Sitting in one of the pockets that is hidden into the coat is a little orange loth-rat, and there are flashing lights and fog and just deafening noise and people running everywhere, and Creamsicle the loth-rat has a tiny little glow stick.

CAMERON: [giggles]

NICK: Aw.

LILIT: And is bouncing up and down in the coat as Xianna is dancing away at a nightclub.

[electronic music ends]

NICK: You’re approached out of the fog by a golden protocol droid. He waddles towards you and tries to appear nonchalant, which is difficult because they don’t have a lot of mobility in their joints.

NICK (as droid): Hello, Xianna’fan. We have met before. Do you remember me?

LILIT (as Xianna): [shouting] What? I cannot hear you. The music is too loud.

NICK: His head tilts to the side and back and forth.

NICK (as droid): [projecting slightly] Xianna’fan, can you hear me? Do you remember me? We have met before.

NICK: And is starting to wiggle their arms.

LILIT (as Xianna): Oh, we have danced before? Okay! [giggles]

NICK (as droid): Xianna. Xianna. I am no longer going by my former designation, but you can call me Cappy. Hello? Can you hear me?

LILIT (as Xianna): I don’t know if I know that dance~!

NICK (as Cappy): Xianna, would you like a job? I am here to offer you a job.

LILIT (as Xianna): Oh, no, I am not selling. I only buy.

NICK: The droid looks confused for a second and then types into a data pad that it’s been holding and flips it around, and it says are you in need of employment, question mark, and then like dollar sign, dollar sign, dollar sign emoji, and the droid wiggles it in front of your face.

CAMERON: Please translate that whole sentence into emojis.

NICK: Stock go up question mark sign.

LILIT: [giggles] A bunch of the little job people emojis with various hats in a row. Question mark. Bags of money. Question mark.

NICK: There you go. That. [laughs] He holds up the data pad.

LILIT: She’s like…

LILIT (as Xianna): Ohhh!

LILIT: …and then looks down at Creamsicle and does a little hand signal and Creamsicle dives into the pockets and then comes back without any credit sticks, just the little glow stick.

NICK: [chuckles]

LILIT (as Xianna): Yes! I do!

NICK (as Cappy): Wonderful.

NICK: And we’re gonna cut away from that party. Cameron, why don’t you give us a quick description of Karma?

CAMERON: Karma is a green Nautolan. She has 14 head tails. She is 37 years old, approximately 5’7”. She has black galaxy eyes. She wears a red headband on her head holding her head tails back, and she has several gold bangles on various head tails, and she wears armor.

NICK: Okay, cool. So, after six months of mostly working solo, how’s Karma doing? What have you been up to?

CAMERON: Karma has been doing a lot of small-time jobs, trying to avoid Empire-sponsored bounties. She spent quite a bit of time on Corellia prior to her mission with Kettle and then has not gone back since then, she doesn’t know how that would go, but has been just going around to places like Nerftown, showing up, collecting all of their bounties, walking into the sunset, just kind of on repeat.

NICK: Why are you where you are now and where is that?

CAMERON: I am on a small moon in a town called Banthatown, and I have traveled from Dewbacktown to collect a bounty in Banthatown. [laughs] So I’m arriving at a saloon, and I kick open the two swinging doors and walk in. the room gets silent and the camera starts panning up from the floor, slowly going up Karma’s fancy new armor.

NICK: Huh. Karma has fancy new armor.

CAMERON: [smiling] Karma has fancy new armor.

NICK: What does it look like?

CAMERON: So, picture an RPG fantasy video game dragon hide armor.

NICK: Okay.

CAMERON: And it is that. Pretty smooth through the legs with just a few spikes coming out with the scales, and chest plate is pretty scaled, but it is still black armor. She’s still wearing really tall butt-kicking boots, but the armor now has a slight raven’s feather sheen to it where it kind of goes between the black and the dark green.

NICK: Does Karma have a helmet?

CAMERON: Karma does not have a helmet.

[modern western style music begins]

NICK: Okay. Cool. You open up the door to this saloon and we hear a plinky piano come to a stop and everybody looks up to see who’s done this. As you survey the room, a golden protocol droid wanders out of the middle of the bar towards you.

NICK (as Cappy): Karma Nailo! A pleasure. Do you remember me?

CAMERON (as Karma): … Yes.

NICK (as Cappy): Do you actually remember me? You paused quite a long time.

CAMERON (as Karma): I do not remember your name, and I do apologize.

NICK (as Cappy): That’s okay. I’m going by a different designation these days. You can call me Cappy.

CAMERON (as Karma): Alright. Pleasure to see you again, Cappy. What can I do for you?

NICK (as Cappy): I actually have some work for you, ma’am. I do hope you accept. There is much to do.

CAMERON (as Karma): Okay?

[western music ends]

NICK: And we’re gonna cut away from that. Hudson!

HUDSON: Yes?

NICK: Describe your character for us and where he is.

HUDSON: So, my character is a seven foot Gigoran: white fur, piercing red eyes, and a translator over their mouth.

NICK: It looks like a Bane mask, right?

HUDSON: It does look like a Bane mask.

[laughter]

HUDSON: From Gotham. He is 28 years old, born in the year 29 BBY.

[giggling]

NICK: Tink, what have you been up to in the last six months? Why are you where you are, and what are you working on?

HUDSON: So, I was kidnapped.

CAMERON: Again?

HUDSON: Tied up—Yes, again. [laughs]

CAMERON: [laughs]

HUDSON: Thrown on a boat going to who-knows-where, and somehow, even though I was bound and gagged, I rolled myself off of the boat, managed to get out of my restraints once it hit the water and became wet and slippery—

[laughter]

NICK: That’s not how that works. Tink’s gonna drown.

HUDSON: That’s how it worked with me!

CAMERON: That’s how Star Wars ropes work.

HUDSON: I just happened to see an island out in the distance so I swam to it. It actually turns out to be Ahch-To. So, right now there’s not like a ton to do there, like there’s two libraries and that’s about it, some huts otherwise. So, the one library is a Jedi library. I don’t really go to that one that often. It just has some old stuff I don’t really care about.

NICK: That means you read the books before Luke did, which is super interesting.

[laughter]

HUDSON: But the other library, which is more of a brick building, every Wednesday they have chess club, so—

CAMERON: [laughs]

LILIT: Who has chess club?!

NICK: The weird chicken feet people!

HUDSON: [laughs] yeah.

LILIT: God… The fish nuns?

CAMERON: Yeah.

NICK: The Ahch-Toians. {Lanai}

HUDSON: Yeah, the fish nuns have taught me a lot, actually, about being humble, and the Force.

CAMERON: [laughs]

LILIT: And having giant ass parties when your husbands return from sea.

HUDSON: Yeah actually, we do party it up a bit. So I’ve been there for six months just taking it all in and learning. I learned and I’m getting really good at chess.

[techno music begins]

NICK: So, we see Tink contemplating a move, and he moves a bishop diagonally on the board, and we see a golden hand from the other side reach and move a pawn forward, and you look up in surprise to see a golden protocol droid seated as your opponent.

NICK (as Cappy): Hello, Rallltinkraatakat.

HUDSON (as Tink): [hushed] Shh! It’s a library!

NICK (as Cappy): [quietly] Hello, Rallltinkraatakat. How are you doing this fine day?

HUDSON (as Tink): I’m doing great.

NICK (as Cappy): Are you currently employed?

NICK: As you move a piece and the protocol droid also moves a piece.

HUDSON (as Tink): No, not really.

NICK (as Cappy): How are you paying for food and the like?

HUDSON (as Tink): Oh, I do some odd jobs. It’s not really employment as much as it is, like, stuff to get just housing and food and the essentials.

NICK (as Cappy): Tink, do you remember me?

HUDSON (as Tink): Um… Were you from a dream of mine?

NICK (as Cappy): We’ve worked together before. We had a common employer. I was part of the organization that had you do that shipyard job about six months back.

HUDSON (as Tink): You’re talking a lot around the name of the…

NICK (as Cappy): We worked for Sentinel, Tink.

HUDSON (as Tink): Ahh.

NICK (as Cappy): Do you remember working for Sentinel?

HUDSON (as Tink): Yeah. One time he knocked over a vase, right?

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK (as Cappy): Yep, that’s him. You got it in one. Great job, buddy. It seems like you’re stuck. How would you like to leave this island and do a job, get back to some more impactful things?

CAMERON (as fish nun): [hushed] Shh! This is a library!

NICK (as Cappy): [quietly] How would you like to do a job?

HUDSON (as Tink): Uh…

HUDSON: I move my queen into checkmate.

NICK (as Cappy): Kriff!

HUDSON: Did I just beat an AI?

NICK: Yeah.

[laughter]

HUDSON (as Tink): Hmm, that sounds pretty tempting. Uh… I’ll take it.

NICK (as Cappy): Wonderful.

[techno music ends]

NICK: So, the next thing we see is the inside of a ship with no viewports. There’s metal benches with laser restraints around everybody’s hands, and it is just full of people who look tired and roughed up and scared. They’re all sitting on these benches, chained to the bench in front of them, and there is an automated laser turret hanging from the ceiling. You can hear the hum of the ship, but otherwise it’s not lit very well. We see Karma near one of the walls, and a couple of benches over we see Tink, and then another bench back we see Xianna as they’re scattered through this population. Finally, after all the hubbub of how you got here, you look up and have a chance to look around and you start to notice each other.

LILIT (as Xianna): Oh, ‘ello Tink~!

HUDSON (as Tink): [gasps] Xianna?!

CAMERON (as Karma): Oh my gosh.

LILIT (as Xianna): [gasps] Karma is here, too~!

HUDSON (as Tink): What?! Aww, the gang’s back together!

LILIT (as Xianna): What are you doing, Tink?

HUDSON (as Tink): Oh, you know, I was just hacking around, slicing the… you know, the Empire’s computer system and I got caught.

[laughter]

LILIT (as Xianna): Oh… Karma, what are you doing here? You are the goody-two-shoes.

CAMERON (as Karma): Yeah, I know.

[laughter]

CAMERON (as Karma): I may have killed a lot of Black Sun members.

LILIT (as Xianna): Well we know that.

CAMERON (as Karma): No, no, more recently.

LILIT (as Xianna): Oh, okay.

CAMERON: How many other people are in this transport with us?

NICK: Probably like 20, but they’re all kind of out of it and none of them are guards or anything.

CAMERON: Okay, because I don’t know how deep we wanna get into this conversation with all these people around.

HUDSON (as Tink): You know, now that the gang’s back together, maybe we need a fourth member.

HUDSON: I look around at everybody sitting on the benches.

LILIT (as Xianna): [grumpily] No we don’t.

HUDSON: [laughs]

NICK (as ???): [gruffly] I’m your Huckleberry.

NICK: You see a Zabrak with a piece of a droid head welded over part of his head and his teeth have been sharpened to spikes.

NICK (as Zabrak): You need a new gang member?

LILIT (as Xianna): No thank you~

HUDSON (as Tink): No, no-no-no, look at it, look, he has moxie.

LILIT (as Xianna): No.

CAMERON (as Karma): [sternly] Tink.

NICK (as Zabrak): They call me Sunshine. Sure, I’m not a member of a group because I killed the last ones, but this time will be different.

HUDSON (as Tink): Well didn’t you just inherit the job? Then you must be the leader.

NICK (as Sunshine): Yes. Join Sunshine’s band.

LILIT (as Xianna): No thank you.

CAMERON (as Karma): Ah, sorry, we kinda got a thing going over here. I think you really need to recruit new folks, though.

LILIT (as Xianna): Yes.

NICK (as Sunshine): [sighs]

CAMERON (as Karma): You do not want to waste that leadership position.

LILIT (as Xianna): And we technically have a fourth member already.

CAMERON (as Karma): We just need to find him.

NICK (as Sunshine): Aw, fine. Fine. Well, it’s nice meeting you folks. I’m just gonna go back to thinking about where it all went wrong.

CAMERON (as Karma): Alright, yeah.

HUDSON (as Tink): Nice meeting you too.

LILIT (as Xianna): I couldn’t figure out how to get Creamsicle arrested, so she is somewhere else.

CAMERON (as Karma): That’s probably good.

HUDSON (as Tink): Yeah.

CAMERON (as Karma): Yeah.

LILIT (as Xianna): Yeah.

CAMERON (as Karma): Yeah—Oh. Figure out how to get Creamsicle arrested? Why are you here?

CAMERON: [laughs]

CAMERON (as Karma): That sounds a little premeditated.

LILIT (as Xianna): Oh, so I am here for grand theft hovercraft, and arson, and at least one felony drug charge.

CAMERON (as Karma): Wow!

HUDSON (as Tink): Was this all the same incident?

LILIT (as Xianna): Yes.

[laughter]

CAMERON (as Karma): Alright.

LILIT (as Xianna): I was on a bunch of drugs and then stole a hovercraft, which is how you get the felony drug charges and the grand theft hovercraft, and then I set it on fire.

[laughter]

LILIT (as Xianna): That is where the arson comes in.

CAMERON (as Karma): Well…

LILIT (as Xianna): And then I was arrested.

CAMERON (as Karma): I was more saying that you getting arrested seemed premeditated.

LILIT (as Xianna): Well, so, I wanted to have Creamsicle with me, and apparently they do not arrest loth-rats because they are not sentient, so I did not want her going to the pound instead, so a friend is watching her.

CAMERON: [laughs]

HUDSON (as Tink): You have friends?

LILIT (as Xianna): Yes.

CAMERON (as Karma): Hey!

NICK: The next thing that we see is a multiple-shot compilation of our heroes being sprayed down with water hoses. In a tiled room, karma is down to her underwear, Tink’s hair is plastered to his body, and Xianna is completely naked. The water looks cold and they can’t help but shiver. A white powder is thrown at each of them and then they are hosed down again before a door opens at the far side of the room. There’s a small closet of a room with a blueish-gray jumpsuit hanging from the wall and a small container the size of a shoebox with some bare essentials. You hear a recorded voice.

NICK (as recording): Dress in your uniform and grab your hygiene kits. The air will be extracted from the changing room in 4.5 minutes.

NICK: What do you do?

LILIT: Xianna puts on the jumpsuit. How does it close? Is there a way for Xianna to tie it so that it is more fashionable?

NICK: Yeah, you can have a deep V on your jumpsuit if you want.

LILIT: Like, if it opens up the front, yeah, like is tied at the mid-section or something to give it a little jaunty deep V.

NICK: There are no visible fasteners, but it does have a little sash that ties, and also the seam in the front if you press it together it stays closed. It’s like a zipper but you can’t see a zipper is what I’ll say.

CAMERON: Karma goes in and gets dressed.

HUDSON: I shake it off, shake it off for a bit.

CAMERON: [chuckles]

HUDSON: Because I’m wet and gross.

NICK: You whip your hair back and forth?

HUDSON: I whip my hair back and forth, yes.

[laughter]

HUDSON: And then I put on my outfit, my—well, it’s not an outfit. What do they call it, a suit?

NICK: Jumpsuit?

HUDSON: Jumpsuit.

NICK: Cool. So as you get dressed you can see a little flip card timer counting down, and quickly a door on the other side opens. The squad quickly stumbles into a courtyard, and you get your first real look of your surroundings. There’s a cluster of other people in jumpsuits as well, looking around, having recently exited their own processing. A squat Human wearing a tan uniform with armor on the chest and shoulders is staring at the group. His helmet looks like a cooking pot and is pulled down low on his head.

NICK (as Human): Get in line, inmates. Get in line now.

HUDSON (as Tink): Where’s the line? Or is this organically formed, like a collective?

NICK (as Human): You have ten seconds to get in line in front of me, right here.

LILIT: Xianna’s already in line.

LILIT (as Xianna): Tink, have you never been to prison before?

[laughter]

HUDSON (as Tink): Uhhh…

LILIT (as Xianna): Also, can I have your belt? I want to make a fun little headwear piece for me.

HUDSON (as Tink): But it holds up my pants. Just kidding, you can have it.

CAMERON: [laughs]

LILIT (as Xianna): The pants are held up by the top. That is how a jumpsuit works.

NICK (as Human): Inmates will be silent during muster.

HUDSON (as Tink): When?

NICK (as Human): That’s right now.

HUDSON (as Tink): Oh! Because they “will be,” like not current… Okay, anyways.

CAMERON: [laughs] Karma has walked silently over shaking her head and is just standing behind Xianna.

NICK: The drill sergeant who has been standing kind of at parade rest can’t help but stick his fingers into his forehead, and as you fall into line you see that everyone else has quickly fallen into place, even you all even though you’re chattering, except for a Weequay who’s looking around frantically back behind everyone. The helmeted man says:

NICK (as Human): I said get in line.

NICK: He makes a quick hand gesture, and you see a very large stun bolt come flying out of a guard tower along the wall. It strikes the Weequay man in the chest, knocking him to the ground, and he does not move.

NICK (as Human): Insubordination will not be tolerated.

NICK: He makes another quick hand gesture, and two guards wearing similar helmets but less armor drag away the unconscious man.

NICK (as Human): One week in solitary for failing to follow orders.

NICK: The man begins to pace up and down the line that you all are in.

NICK (as Human): Welcome to Kajim Regional Incarceration Facility. I am proud to represent the Empire as your host. You can call me Mr. Codly, sir, or that nice hissing noise people make when they get stunned a lot of times in a row. You all represent the worst scum of the galaxy. You law breakers will eat, drink, piss, and sleep when I say so. Follow the rules and we won’t have a problem. Break the rules…

NICK: He looks at the guards dragging the Weequay away.

NICK (as Codly): …well, I hear solitary is nice this time of year. Any questions?

HUDSON: I raise my hand.

LILIT (as Xianna): [whispering] Tink, no, you’re not—

NICK: The guard walks up to you.

NICK (as Codly): Yes. How can I help you?

HUDSON (as Tink): Ooh! Okay, if you’re helping us now, this is—

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: He punches you in the stomach.

HUDSON (as Tink): [pained grunt, coughs]

NICK: It hurts, and you double over.

HUDSON (as Tink): [weakly] No more questions.

NICK (as Codly): Any other questions? … Well, if there are no more questions then it’s time that you all were led to your new accommodations.

NICK: You are placed into a line and led by a few guards with stun rifles into the northern prison block. These are cells lined with duracrete hallways. Each cell holds two beds, a toilet and a sink. The entire cell is visible from the hallway. Prisoners are every species, but they have a similar mocking anger about them as they yell at the new people who will be living there, yourselves included. You hear calls of “fresh meat” and “won’t last a week” that are yelled around along with much other, much harsher things.

Karma and Xianna, you are led to a cell on the second level and prodded in before the door slams shut with a clang. Tink, you are told to enter the cell next door. After a while the cell block calms down to a dull murmur as the new prisoners get settled. What do you do?

LILIT: Xianna is immediately flipping up the mattress and looking to see if anything’s been left and just, you know, checking inside the mattress.

LILIT (as Xianna): You always need to check the mattress, because sometimes someone previously has left a shiv in the mattress and the prison guards do not find it.

NICK: Roll me a Force die.

LILIT: Heh. One dark side.

NICK: You find the severed finger of some sort of alien species under the mattress, and that’s it.

CAMERON (as Karma): [uncomfortable groan]

LILIT (as Xianna): Oh…

CAMERON (as Karma): That’s disgusting.

LILIT (as Xianna): Yeah, sometimes you do find fingers or ears or things.

CAMERON (as Karma): Do you still want the top bunk?

LILIT (as Xianna): Yes. You always go for the top bunk. It’s the best one.

NICK: So, y’all’s two cells are separated just by bars, so you can talk through to each other.

CAMERON (as Karma): Hey Tink, who’s your roommate?

HUDSON (as Tink): My roomy-caboody? Uh, don’t got one as far as I can—Wait.

NICK: Someone pops up immediately behind you as you’re talking through the bars, and you hear somebody say:

NICK (as roommate): Roomy-caboody?! Nice to meet ya!

CAMERON: [chuckling] Oh gosh.

HUDSON: Ooh…

NICK (as roommate): The name’s Filbert. Put ‘er there!

HUDSON (as Tink): Alright!

HUDSON: And I shake… his—?

NICK: You have to reach down to shake hands. Filbert’s the same species as Yoda is, so he’s a small weathered green man with long ears and he has a wispy, white beard that goes down to about the middle of his tummy over his jumpsuit which is extremely baggy.

NICK (as Filbert): The name’s Filbert!

HUDSON (as Tink): Hey Filbert. Nice to meet you.

NICK (as Filbert): I can tell we’re gonna be friends quickly. What’s your opinion on people riding on your shoulders?

HUDSON (as Tink): [gasps] Ooh… We are gonna be friends quickly.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK (as Filbert): Most people aren’t this calm being led into a prison as high-security as The Cage.

HUDSON (as Tink): Oh, well, I’m just waiting… Do you know where I can get a sparkling water?

CAMERON (as Karma): [coughs laughing]

NICK (as Filbert): Oh Tink…

LILIT (as Xianna): Oh, Tink, you really have never been to prison.

CAMERON (as Karma): Hey—

NICK (as Filbert): The accommodations are probably not what you’re used to, fancy boy.

HUDSON (as Tink): Yeah, this bed’s way too short for me. I’m gonna be half hanging off this thing.

NICK (as Filbert): Mine’s extra-long for me, so maybe I can give you part of mine.

HUDSON (as Tink): You are just the nicest—Wait a second. What are you gonna want in return?

NICK (as Filbert): Your friendship!

HUDSON (as Tink): Okay! If that’s all, then I’m great.

LILIT (as Xianna): Or you could go beat someone else up and steal their bed and then push those two beds together to create an extra-long bed.

HUDSON (as Tink): I’m not the kind to cause a lot of trouble, usually.

CAMERON (as Karma): Are you not?

HUDSON (as Tink): Well okay, I do cause a lot of trouble, but I don’t instigate—Okay, I do instigate, but I don’t… Either way, I’m just trying to get along here and that’s what we’re doing right now.

LILIT (as Xianna): Ooh, Filbert.

NICK (as Filbert): Howdy doody?

LILIT (as Xianna): Who is in charge of the smuggling in this prison? Maybe we can convince them to also smuggle in some sparkling water.

NICK (as Filbert): Oh… You’re trying to get ahold of contraband that fast, huh?

LILIT (as Xianna): I mean, you know, you got to establish your routine early, so…

NICK (as Filbert): There’s only one man who decides what comes in and out of this prison besides the warden, and he’s based out of the southern cell block. You might meet him a little later, but you won’t like the price.

LILIT (as Xianna): I feel like a lot of people in this prison are based out of the southern… part of this prison.

[laughter]

NICK (as Filbert): One, solid ass joke, Xianna. Two, there’s two cell blocks here in this here facility, the north cell block and the south cell block. You found yourselves situated in the vicinity of the north.

HUDSON (as Tink): That was a long way of saying we’re in the north cell block. Well—

NICK (as Filbert): You’re in the north cell block!

CAMERON: [laughs]

HUDSON (as Tink): Alright.

LILIT (as Xianna): That also makes me think you were originally from the southern cell block.

NICK (as Filbert): I was there for a time, but they usually give your cell away if you get sent to the prison clinic, so my spot was given away and now I’m over here.

CAMERON (as Karma): Is the south block more desirable if your spot was given away?

NICK (as Filbert): They just fill in wherever and then reassign.

CAMERON (as Karma): Okay.

LILIT (as Xianna): So is that where the person in charge of smuggling is? Because you said there were two people, the warden and someone else, and then you did not say who that other person was.

NICK (as Filbert): Yeah, I was being what you would might call, uh… disseminating.

LILIT (as Xianna): Um, no thank you…

CAMERON: [giggles]

LILIT (as Xianna): …but I would like to know who is in charge of smuggling.

HUDSON (as Tink): So Filbert, where did you get that there accent?

NICK (as Filbert): You know? Everybody in my species talks like this.

CAMERON: [snickers]

HUDSON (as Tink): Alright. I’ll take your word for it.

LILIT (as Xianna): Okay, but Filbert… [whining] Who is in charge of smuggling?

NICK (as Filbert): You dragged it out of me. His name is Big Jeyb. He’s a scary dude I recommend you stay away from at least whiles until you get your feet under you.

HUDSON (as Tink): Well, are they taller than me?

NICK (as Filbert): It’s not how big or imposing he is, it’s the organization he represents. Everybody owes Big Jeyb a favor. You don’t want him to get mad. You’ll end up stabbed, like my former roommate!

LILIT (as Xianna): Ooh! So, is this one of those things where he is called Big Jeyb but he is actually very, very small and it is a funny, ironic nickname?

NICK (as Filbert): Probably not.

LILIT (as Xianna): Oh, so he actually is very big? Then Tink, he must be so big, because you only get the nickname big if you are gigantic or very, very small.

CAMERON (as Karma): Have you not seen him, Filbert?

NICK (as Filbert): Oh, I’ve seen him. That’s why I was in the clinic. He stabbed me.

CAMERON (as Karma): Oh. I’m sorry to hear that. I’m glad you’ve recovered. You’re saying “well I guess” and “maybe” a lot with how large he is.

HUDSON (as Tink): I understand that you don’t wanna give up too much information at this point. We just met you.

NICK (as Filbert): It’s the kind of thing he doesn’t take kindly to people talking about him behind his back. I’m trying to… Especially ‘cause I just met ya, I wouldn’t want you to sell me down the river.

LILIT (as Xianna): Well like, describing how tall a person is is not really “talking behind their back.” That would be like saying Big Jeyb is a big poopoo face.

NICK (as Filbert): Which I also advise against.

NICK: Filbert looks around to the cell behind his and Tink’s cell, because all of them are exposed and there aren’t walls.

NICK (as Filbert): She didn’t mean it, fellas. Big Jeyb is not a big poopoo face.

LILIT (as Xianna): [giggles] Oh! He IS calling Jeyb a big poopoo face!

NICK (as Filbert): No! Don’t do that to me!

HUDSON (as Tink): Whoa, whoa, whoa. Xianna, we are trying to make friends here. You are out of line.

CAMERON: [laughs]

LILIT (as Xianna): I am not here to make friends, okay?

[laughter]

NICK: Filbert grabs the bars. There are bars, and then there’s a crossbar about in the middle and then bars up again, and he actually grabs under the crossbars in the middle because he’s not very tall. He’s probably a meter tall and kind of hunched.

NICK (as Filbert): So, the standard question when we have new residents is: Whatcha in for?

LILIT (as Xianna): Oh my god. You cannot ask what someone is in for. That is like rule number one.

NICK (as Filbert): Not here. Not in The Cage. It’s pretty much how you develop a social order. For instance, I’m in here because I killed a dude.

LILIT (as Xianna): What?! We’ve all killed a dude! Okay? What the fuck kind of prison is this?!

CAMERON: [laughs]

LILIT (as Xianna): You don’t ask what you are in for. It’s just rude. But yes, I have killed a dude before.

HUDSON: [laughs]

NICK (as Filbert): Okay… Did you get caught killing a dude? Is that why you’re here?

LILIT (as Xianna): I mean, a few of the times, yes.

NICK (as Filbert): I’m talking about this time specifically. So, I guess if no one’s gonna say why they’re in here, we’re gonna run out of conversation pretty quick…

HUDSON (as Tink): Oh no, no, I can do that. Nah, no, we can keep it going. I got in for aggressive jaywalking, and I know what you’re thinking, that’s not a real thing, but where I come from it is a real thing.

LILIT (as Xianna): Mandalore?

HUDSON (as Tink): yeah.

CAMERON (as Karma): Huh!

HUDSON (as Tink): I mean, this was aggressive jaywalking, like people died.

LILIT (as Xianna): What?!

CAMERON (as Karma): Oh my goodness. What?

NICK (as Filbert): Wow!

HUDSON (as Tink): Yeah, it was… I don’t even wanna think about it.

LILIT (as Xianna): I thought you were in for like hacking or something.

HUDSON (as Tink): Shh! Uh, no, it was a violent, violent event that I caused.

LILIT (as Xianna): Jaywalking…

NICK: Filbert pulls a shiv made out of a vibro-spoon out of his pocket and just waves it in your general direction, Tink.

NICK (as Filbert): You wouldn’t be lying to me, now would ya, roomy? Because I hate me some liars.

LILIT (as Xianna): Ooh! Ooh! How easy is it to turn the spoons into shivs?

NICK (as Filbert): It’s not super hard. I’ll give it to you in exchange for four doses of impact.

LILIT (as Xianna): I mean, you’ll have to wait a little bit, but okay.

[laughter]

HUDSON: So the knife is in my face, right?

NICK: It’s like waving at you. he’s probably about a meter away from you though.

CAMERON: It’s like knee level. [laughs]

NICK: Yeah.

HUDSON: Okay. I take my fake leg and I tap it real hard on the ground by the heel and a spike comes out of the front.

HUDSON (as Tink): No, I’m not lying.

HUDSON: I tap again.

[laughter]

LILIT (as Xianna): Put it away, Tink.

NICK (as Filbert): If they see you’ve got weapons in your there prosthesis they’ll take it away. You’ll have to be just one-legged. You probably don’t wanna do that.

CAMERON (as Karma): Yeah, don’t show that off.

NICK: Filbert tucks the spoon away, and after a couple of hours you all get settled in, and the cells open with the sound of a buzzer. The population of the north cell block makes the trek to the central building. Filbert says…

NICK (as Filbert): Well, it looks like it’s time for lunch! Yippee!

NICK: …and goes stomping off through the line with the rest of the group. You are lead through a narrow chain link walkway from the north cell block. You can see that there’s open fields, but then all the walking happens in these chain link things topped with razor wire, and you are led along one of those walkways. There’s a turn off to the left that leads to a low building, but you are led by guards to go straight into a large cafeteria. There’s obviously a pecking order here. You’re far enough back into the cell block that by the time you get in line a majority of people already have your food.

You go through the line. You see a Besalisk with a stained white apron and a little paper hat on scooping slop onto metal trays. Besalisks, for those of you who don’t know Star Wars, are the kind of large, four-armed lizardy looking aliens with a waddle. Jettster Dexter from the Clone Wars is one. The bottom two arms are grabbing trays and the top two arms are scooping food onto them, so the line moves pretty quickly. You are left trying to find a seat. Do the three of you stay together? what are you looking for, an empty table, are you trying to make some new friends?

CAMERON: Does Karma recognize anyone in here?

NICK: Probably.

CAMERON: [laughs]

LILIT: Yeah, Karma’s gonna have a rough time.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: Yeah.

LILIT: Xianna is gonna find, even if she can’t find a full empty table, at least a partially empty table that they can sit off to one side, and has put whatever pudding cup or whatever they get at the end of the line in those spots to hold them. Heh.

NICK: You’re trying to reserve spots in a prison mess hall.

LILIT: Yeah.

CAMERON: We were all next to each other in line. I feel like we just follow you.

HUDSON: Yeah, let’s do it that way.

LILIT: Or yeah, if they were super close. Xianna just leads the way and finds that half empty table.

NICK: Okay. You’re able to get some seats. Filbert does not sit with you at lunch. Filbert has a group of Kowakian lizard monkeys and weird smaller aliens, a couple of Chadra-Fan, that are all sitting off in the corner having a grand old time. You can see there’s kind of a wide ring around that group of empty spaces, like no one wants to sit too close to them, and you are able to eat your lunches relatively in peace. The food is not very good, obviously. It’s very much like a gruel with little bits of synthetic protein in it, and you have vibro-spoons to eat with but they’re not vibrating. The batteries have died a long time ago. You can see if you were to make a shiv out of these, Xianna, that these are a very brittle, synthetic carbon plastic kind of material. They probably wouldn’t hold up very well, like you could maybe stab someone once or twice and then they’d probably snap off.

LILIT: Yeah…

NICK: So you’re having lunch.

LILIT (as Xianna): Okie, so now that we are at lunch, were you asked by some droid named Chappy or whatever to, uh, you know, get arrested and do this mission?

CAMERON (as Karma): Cappy?

LILIT (as Xianna): Yeah.

CAMERON (as Karma): Was it Cappy or Chappy?

LILIT (as Xianna): Chappy!

CAMERON (as Karma): Yes.

HUDSON (as Tink): Oh yeah, I talked to that dude. I actually, you know, on our most recent encounter I beat him at chess.

CAMERON (as Karma): Huh.

LILIT (as Xianna): Good for you.

HUDSON (as Tink): Yep, I’m pretty proud of myself.

CAMERON (as Karma): He kinda messed up a bounty hunting mission I was on, but it was okay.

LILIT (as Xianna): Yeah, so just, you know, making sure we all got arrested on purpose, right?

CAMERON (as Karma): Yeah.

LILIT (as Xianna): That is what is happening?

CAMERON (as Karma): Mm-hmm.

HUDSON (as Tink): Well… yeah, no, same here.

LILIT (as Xianna): Okay. Cool. Fun!

CAMERON (as Karma): Yay, jail time. [chuckles]

NICK: So as you’re sitting there chatting and catching up an extremely large alien comes over and slams his hands down on the table with a hollow bang and the whole mess hall goes quiet.

LILIT (as Xianna): Oh, ‘ello~

HUDSON (as Tink): Hey!

NICK (as ???): Hey…

NICK: He’s almost 3 meters tall. He’s got gray shark skin and a big shark head and just rippling giant biceps. He does not fit in his jumpsuit. Whereas Xianna has a tasteful V-neck his is showing most of his pecs because the shoulders are too narrow to fit over it.

NICK (as ???): It’s my first day. You know what you’re supposed to do on your first day in prison?

CAMERON (as Karma): Make new friends?

NICK (as ???): Beat the—

LILIT (as Xianna): Beat someone up!

NICK (as ???): Exactly!

LILIT (as Xianna): [smiling] I have been to prison before, I know the drill, but in case you did want someone to beat up…

LILIT: Points at Tink.

LILIT (as Xianna): …this is his first time in prison as well, so…

NICK: He grabs the back of Tink’s head and slams it into the table with a huge clang and immediately the mess hall is in a riot as everyone starts to chant fight, fight, fight.

LILIT (as Xianna): Tink! You are supposed to fight!

HUDSON (as Tink): Uh! Uh! Uh…

HUDSON: I just try to, like…

LILIT (as Xianna): Use the tray! Slam it into him!

CAMERON: [laughs]

HUDSON (as Tink): Oh! Oh!

HUDSON: I take the tray. Instead of slamming it into him I put it horizontal to my tummy and just lunge forward.

[laughter]

NICK: [smiling] And that’s gonna be the end of the episode.

ALL: Ba-naaa~!

## Outro

CAMERON: Thanks for listening to Tabletop Squadron. If you enjoyed our show, please consider leaving a review on your podcast listening app of choice. Reviews will help new listeners to find the show, and every time we get one the squad gets warm fuzzies.

If you’re so inclined, you can also help support the show through our Patreon which can be found in the show notes, on our website, and basically anywhere else we post things. We have all sorts of Patreon levels including some of my favorites, Bantha Buddy, Tarkin’s Underwear Drawer, and Hot tub hangout, which all have fabulous rewards and super great names.

Xianna’fan is played by Lilit Penrod. They can be found on Twitter at @cheerio_buffet.

Tink is played by Hudson Jameson. He can be found on Twitter at @hudsonjameson.

Karma Nailo is played by me, Cameron Robertson. You can find me on Twitter at @midnightmusic13.

Our game master is Nick Robertson, and you can find him on Twitter at @alias58.

Our intro song is Space Jam by Pablo Ribot.

Additional music by James Gunter.

Follow the podcast on Twitter and Instagram at @Tabletop_Squad and join our Discord and share all your food and cute pet photos with us. We also sometimes talk about Star Wars. You can find a link to join our Discord on our website and in our pinned tweet. See you next time.

Word document download: Interstitials s1- HK 2- The Black Parade

PDF download: Interstitials s1- HK 2- The Black Parade

Read in browser:

Tabletop Squadron Transcript, HK-67 Interstitial 1, Part 2: The Black Parade

Transcript by Tyler (Twitter: @Tyler_MoonSage)

## Intro

LILIT: Hello, and welcome to Tabletop Squadron, a Star Wars: Edge of the Empire actual play podcast. I’m Lilit, your game master. Every other Thursday, our story follows a thief, a bounty hunter, and a slicer as they explore the galaxy helping a mysterious benefactor and each other.

This is the last interstitial episode before Season 2 begins. These side missions have been a blast, but we’re excited to get the crew back together. we will also have a recap episode releasing before the premiere so that you and your friends can get caught up on the crew’s adventures.

Music in this episode can be found in the show notes.

Now let’s get to the episode.

##

[old scratchy record player begins with carnival music]

LILIT: Hello and welcome to Tabletop Squadron. I’m Lilit, and I’ll be your game master for today. We are on Episode 2 of this HK solo adventure, not really solo, because he has a friend now. Minna, why don’t you introduce yourself?

[carnival music fades]

MINNA: Hi, I am Minna, and I will be playing Kessek the Trandoshan assassin.

LILIT: And where can people find you, in case they didn’t listen to that first episode for some reason?

[giggling]

MINNA: I can be found at @mynaminnarr on Twitter. I am also on The magpies podcast and the Compleat Discography podcast.

LILIT: And Nick.

NICK: Hi! I’m Nick, and today I will be playing HK-67, also known as Hank, and I am a droid assassin.

LILIT: Great. When we last left off you had just defeated three stormtroopers who had wandered onto the roof of the building to take a smoke break, and the destiny pool is currently at two light side and one dark side. So let’s pick up where we left off. What are you two doing now that you have some bodies to deal with? Or not deal with, either one.

NICK: Hank definitely just kicks one of the stormtroopers down the stairs and then walks back to see what else is happening on the street, like if everybody heard the commotion or not.

LILIT: Okay. I would say the start of the commotion was during a band going by. All the floats, if they are not right next to the band—or, there’s a few smaller bands, so if a float isn’t right next to a band they do have music playing but it’s not as loud as the actual instruments. So, a few people heard the tail end of the fight, but they’re just kinda looking up at the building. They can’t actually see any of the bodies because there is a raised lip to the edge of this roof.

MINNA: Mm-hmm.

NICK: HK’s head kinda leans over the side and makes eye contact with a couple of the people looking up, and he twiddles his fingers at them and says…

NICK (as HK): Nostalgic Quote: Ello~

NICK: …and then slides back onto the roof.

LILIT: [chuckles] Kessek, you probably more than Hank would know that even though your confrontation with these troopers wasn’t super noticeable from the street you probably would only have a few minutes before, one, other stormtroopers notice that there are some missing compatriots, and two, they put two and two together and notice that people are looking up at your building.

MINNA (as Kessek): Alright, let’s get out of here.

NICK (as HK): Do we have a plan? Do you know where to go?

LILIT: Both of you would have known the previous parade’s route. You do not know what the current route is. There are probably ways to find that out, though. You could also just follow the parade.

MINNA: Yeah. I think her plan was just to, you know, go through the crowd and burst out from the crowd.

NICK: Oh, hell yeah, I’m here for that. let’s do that.

MINNA: [laughs] She’s not a subtle—I mean, I guess she’s… I lie. She’s decent at stealth, but she is very much a quietly get to where you’re going and then just not be subtle anymore.

LILIT: Do you plan on doing that just in front of your current building or do you plan on going somewhere else to do this ambush?

MINNA: I think it makes the most sense for us to go a little bit down the street, just so we’re not directly in front of this building with dead stormtroopers.

LILIT: Yes. It takes you a few minutes to find a new spot at street level. Would you like to be truly in the crowd or would you like to be sort of in a side alley with a view of the street?

MINNA: I think in the crowd.

LILIT: The two of you make your way into the crowd a few buildings down and are able to get a spot right up against one of these parade barriers. Looking down, you probably have a few minutes before the Moff’s float gets to you just with how slow they are meandering down this road.

[quiet jaunty music begins]

NICK: HK leans both his elbows back on the parade barrier and looks towards Kessek.

NICK (as HK): Now that we have a professional relationship that has been baptized in blood, what is your name? Most people call me Hank these days.

MINNA (as Kessek): You could be a little quieter about that. My name’s Kessek.

NICK (as HK): Oh, it’s fine, you’re very intimidating. No one will bother us. Nice to meet you, Kessek.

MINNA (as Kessek): Nice to meet you.

MINNA: [smiling] She’s a little bit annoyed that you figured out her strategy for blending in.

NICK: [laughs]

NICK (as HK): You are very tall. The child behind you can’t see. Would you like to crouch down some?

MINNA (as Kessek): I don’t think that would help.

NICK (as HK): Sorry small child, you will not see the parade today.

NICK: And HK turns around to watch the route. [laughs]

LILIT: There’s a small Human child who’s like jumping up and down and eventually one of his mothers picks him up and puts him up on her shoulders and gives the two of you a head shake for not letting this small child see the parade better.

MINNA: [grinning] Kessek is immune to disappointed headshakes.

LILIT: This family, they do end up moving a few feet away to get a slightly better spot.

NICK (as HK): The joke’s on them. As an artificial intelligence I don’t have a conscience.

LILIT: [laughs] You get hit in the head with a piece of candy.

NICK: I take 4 wounds.

[laughter]

MINNA: No~! You don’t have enough wounds!

LILIT: It’s a soft caramel. Don’t worry.

NICK (as HK): I do, however, feel pain and can get embarrassed.

NICK: As he scrapes at the candy to try to get it off of his head.

MINNA (as Kessek): Why can you get embarrassed? That doesn’t make any sense.

NICK (as HK): Have you been hit in the head with a soft caramel candy right before assassinating an important political figure? It really ruins the mood.

MINNA (as Kessek): Shh… You don’t know the meaning of subtle, do you?

NICK (as HK): I’ve done subtle for quite a while. It got old. I’m trying something new.

MINNA (as Kessek): Lucky me, I get to be here for that experiment.

NICK (as HK): So far it’s going great.

LILIT: Yeah. The Moff’s float is about four or three floats away when HK gets a ping on their coms.

[music is replaced by simple phone ringing tones]

NICK (as HK): Standard Greeting: Hello. This is HK-67.

LILIT (as Xianna): Okie. Okie, Hank. Okie. I know we are not supposed to be talking right now, but hear me out.

NICK (as HK): I’m sorry, I forgot to ask who this is. Who is this?

LILIT (as Xianna): This is Xianna. You know… your friend.

NICK (as HK): Oh, hello.

LILIT (as Xianna): Secondary user.

NICK (as HK): Secondary user, why didn’t you say so? We are not supposed to be communicating.

LILIT (as Xianna): Okie, yes, but can you talk right now?

NICK (as HK): Oh yes, I am not busy.

NICK: [laughing] As we see Kessek in the background getting ready to just destroy all this stuff.

LILIT (as Xianna): Okie, hypothetically, who is the asshole in this situation? One person asks the other person to move in. The other person does not want to move in but still wants to date that person, and the first person says something about toothbrushes, and then the second person says I only have one toothbrush so I cannot bring a second one over, and then the first person gets mad. Ugh… what?!

NICK (as HK): Xianna, I think what’s important to ask is which one of these persons are you? Are you asking for a toothbrush or refusing to provide a toothbrush?

LILIT (as Xianna): I’m not refusing to give a toothbrush, I just only have the one toothbrush.

NICK (as HK): If Nolaa has hurt your feelings by not advancing the relationship I would be happy to terminate her.

LILIT (as Xianna): No. No. Other way around. She wants me to leave a toothbrush on her ship, but I only have the one toothbrush, and I also don’t want to leave a toothbrush on her ship because commitment issues.

NICK (as HK): Oh, so you have hurt Nolaa’s feelings. Short Answer: yes, you are the asshole. Longer Answer: I should call Nolaa and see if she wants to put a contract out on you. It’s been lovely catching up, Xianna.

LILIT (as Xianna): [gasps, huffs] I don’t think it’s that bad. Please don’t kill me, HK~ [whines] Hank~!

NICK (as HK): I probably won’t. We’ll make it look like an accident. Click.

NICK: [laughs]

MINNA (as Kessek): Ready to go, Agony Aunt?

NICK: [laughs]

LILIT: I would say this conversation took just long enough that the moment you turn around is when the Moff’s float is in view and only one float away from where you are standing.

MINNA: Yeah. We’re gonna take a shot at the float two floats ahead.

NICK: So Kessek lowers her rifle and HK walks up and is doing that thing where they look weirdly organic, which doesn’t match the way their arms and joints are, and HK leans against the barrier as you’re lowering a rifle and people are scattering away from you.

NICK (as HK): Can you believe that? My friend was so inconsiderate of her girlfriend. You know, I always thought they were cute together, but I’m not so sure.

MINNA: [laughs] I think she ignores and just takes a shot.

LILIT: So you take a shot at the float two in front of the Moff?

MINNA: Yes.

LILIT: If you are taking shots at two in front of the Moff you will be getting the Plasma Refinery Association.

MINNA: Perfect.

LILIT: Yes. It is mostly a group of older Humans wearing rather stuffy suits and dress outfits.

MINNA: Very floofy sleeves, rich colors.

LILIT: Very floofy sleeves, very high collars, hair styles that cannot be their real hair.

MINNA: Yeah. Yeah. It’s Naboo. [chuckles] So, what’s the range?

LILIT: They would probably be… Let’s go medium range, because they have started to pass you.

MINNA: Okay. One threat.

[classical movie humorous danger music begins]

LILIT: [laughs] You shoot, and the rifle bolt hits a large piece of decorative metal on the side of this float, and it’s hit at just the right angle and this piece of metal is just thick enough that it ricochets off and hits one of the patrolling stormtroopers off to the side.

MINNA: [giggles]

LILIT: So this stormtrooper goes down. They are not dead, but they are shocked from being hit and was not expecting it. Now all of the stormtroopers are on alert and you have started to create commotion.

NICK: Quickly after Kessek’s shot HK is going to climb up onto the barrier and take a shot and try to hit the person driving the hover float.

LILIT: The float for the Plasma Refinery Association?

NICK: Yeah. That was the plan. Gotta make it stop.

LILIT: Their particular float is a droid in charge of it that is inset into the float.

NICK: That’s fine. I’ll kill a droid.

LILIT: Okay! [laughs] Go ahead and roll your ranged check for that and throw in a black die for range defense on this droid.

NICK: Okay. Hey, I actually went and read my talents, and I am going to use my Precise Aim maneuver to suffer a strain to remove any defense from this attack, so that’ll get rid of the black die, right?

LILIT: Yes it will.

NICK: Cool. Then, can I get a point for Quick Strike because the droid hasn’t done anything yet?

LILIT: Correct, the droid has not initiated anyone in combat yet. [chuckles]

NICK: [laughs] Okay. Now I will roll. I was like, oh yeah, I have talents to do things. That’s gonna be three successes and four advantages, so a crit as well.

LILIT: Nice! With that crit you can either just completely take out the droid and stop the float or you could roll on the crit chart.

NICK: I would like to take out the droid and stop the float, please.

LILIT: I figured. [giggles] So, you shoot right through this poor R2 model that has been inset into this float. Sparks go everywhere, and the float comes to a stop and drops down to the ground, shaking the float and everyone on it. At this point, I think we will roll initiative, because another group of stormtroopers has surrounded this float and have now pinpointed where the shooting has come from. This will be a Vigilance initiative check.

NICK: I got one success and four advantages.

MINNA: One success and three advantages.

LILIT: I am very sorry for my rolls. We are looking at three NPC slots, then the two PC slots, then a fourth NPC slot.

MINNA: Mm-hmm.

NICK: Can I spend all of my advantages that as the float crashes it explodes slightly and shoots a bunch of smoke everywhere to make it hard to see?

MINNA: yes!

LILIT: yes.

NICK: Sweet.

LILIT: You may. So, I will say the first round everyone will have a black die, as far as the stormtroopers, for obscured vision. The stormtroopers are up. Alright, this first stormtrooper managed to get a success, so they are going to hit Kessek with 7 points of damage.

MINNA: Hmm, so that’s 3. Seven out of 16 wounds.

LILIT: I’m sure it’ll be fine.

MINNA: Yeah, I think she grunts… Well, I guess there’s a lot of slots left, so I’ll let you figure out what happens next.

LILIT: We move to the next NPC slot, and the second stormtrooper goes ahead and fires at HK, and they miss and they hit one of the barriers, but there’s a third stormtrooper.

NICK: Alright. I would like to spend a strain to Dodge to upgrade the difficulty of the attack by one.

LILIT: Wow… They got a despair.

NICK: Woohoo!

LILIT: They do not hit you, and have a despair.

NICK: They decide to go home.

LILIT: They can fall prone.

NICK: [chuckles]

LILIT: Do you want that? Would you like that?

NICK: Sure. Yeah.

MINNA: [giggles]

NICK: So like, tactically that’s not super helpful, but as the show person, yes!

LILIT: So, this stormtrooper shoots but the shot goes wide and they unbalance themselves and they step back across a piece of shrapnel from the float and trip and fall backwards, falling prone, [dramatic bass noise, music ends] and in this process they let go of their blaster and the blaster tumbles a bit away from them underneath a float. This third stormtrooper is now without a gun. With that, we are now to our first PC slot.

NICK: So, the barrel on the bottom starts to spin up, HK jumps onto the barrier that he had hidden behind for cover when he dodged, and he’s surrounded by smoke and the flames of the float in the background, and he says…

NICK (as HK): Gleeful Statement: Suppressing fire.

MINNA: [laughs]

NICK: …and just starts to lay down just a curtain of blaster bolts. He’s not aiming, it’s like slung at the hip, and is just peppering this whole thing. The crowd is screaming and ducking away and running. The people on the float are trying to climb into it and also surrounded by fire. It’s just a big old mess. I will roll to do that… Ooh, so we have three successes and two advantages, so that would give the stormtroopers two black dice on their attacks or anything they’re trying to do while they are being suppressed, which I’ll just do for the foreseeable future I think. [laughs]

LILIT: Cool.

MINNA: So they now have three black dice?

NICK: Yeah.

LILIT: And with that, we are at the next PC slot, so Kessek, what are you doing?

MINNA: How close are they?

LILIT: They are at short range.

MINNA: I’m gonna use my maneuver to engage with them, because that’s a better move.

LILIT: Yeah.

NICK: You’re in no risk of getting shot by HK either. As the blaster bolts are swiping back and forth there’s always this very noticeable gap whenever it’s near Kessek and then it starts again.

MINNA: Plus. … Damn, that is one failure and three advantages. I know this feels like a disadvantage, but since her actual thing was to attempt to draw more stormtroopers out this way instead of over by the Moff’s float I almost want it to be reinforcements are coming for the stormtroopers. [laughs]

NICK: [laughs] You are such a Blades in the Dark player, but that’s a good thing for you.

MINNA: We’re doing a heist.

NICK: I ain’t afraid. Let’s do it.

MINNA: [laughs]

LILIT: So, I was already planning that the end of this round the floats behind the Plasma Refinery Association ones were going to start redirecting, so we can say that at the end of this round the floats will begin to redirect and some of those troopers will reinforce and join the group of stormtroopers you are currently engaged with.

MINNA: I think what happens is that she wades into combat, and she doesn’t manage to hit any of them because they duck, but one of them is like [grunts] and radios for help.

NICK: I mean, damn, have you seen Kessek? I’d radio for help.

MINNA: [giggles] And you with your suppressing fire.

LILIT: The stormtrooper that is on the ground, as they are trying to reach their gun, does radio in.

LILIT (as stormtrooper): We need reinforcements!

LILIT: You can see a group that was guarding the very last float peels away and starts coming your direction. We are at another NPC slot. You know what, I am going to move another dark side point. I’m gonna upgrade this check… and it didn’t matter. It’s a wash. So, this fourth stormtrooper takes a shot and completely misses. It bounces off one of the barriers. This is when you notice that the other parade floats are starting to turn down a side road and move out of the way and that other group of stormtroopers have arrived and they are going to join the initiative in between the two PC slots. We are back up to the top with more troopers. One of them manages to hit you, HK.

NICK: Even with all those black dice?

LILIT: Yes, even with those black dice. Things just kinda cancelled out real weird down to one single success. [laughs]

NICK: Wow.

LILIT: So that is only 6 points going your way.

NICK: Yeah, let’s keep the damage at that manageable level, please. [laughs]

LILIT: Yeah, your Soak is…?

NICK: Four, so that’s not too bad, because I have armor.

LILIT: The next slot, as anticipated, does not hit anyone. They had fallen, so they are spending their turn grabbing their blaster, trying to squeeze underneath the float, grab their blaster, and then get back out and up, and that is how they are spending that turn, which does bring us back to a PC slot.

MINNA: [laughing] I have a very stupid idea.

NICK: Do it! [laughs]

MINNA: Can I grab the one who’s on the ground and use him, like throw him into another stormtrooper? Like, just grab him by the ankles and whip him into another stormtrooper?

LILIT: [smiles] Yes. We will say that as they are standing up, like, the way they are standing up is that they’re kind of side-back is to you and you are able to walk over and just reach up underneath and pick them up and throw them to your side so that they hit into another trooper.

MINNA: [giggling] How do I roll this?

NICK: A large improvised weapon.

LILIT: This would be a Brawl check.

MINNA: Yes. Okay.

LILIT: So depending on how the Brawl check goes we’ll see whether or not we roll improvised weapon for the stormtrooper that gets hit with the other stormtrooper. Actually, they would both probably take improvised weapon damage.

NICK: [laughs]

LILIT: Let’s see how this Brawl check goes.

MINNA: We have a lot of light side. Should I use one?

NICK: Yeah, probably.

LILIT: Yep, I will flip that from a light side to a dark side, which brings the total pool to two dark side, one light side.

MINNA: So then it’s one success and two advantages, so with one success it’s… yeah, 6, and then I have two advantages.

LILIT: for those advantages I’d say you can spend one of those advantages so that both troopers take damage.

MINNA: Yes.

LILIT: The stormtrooper that had been thrown is knocked out. They are not dead, but I am gonna remove them from the initiative. Then, the stormtrooper that was hit has taken some damage.

MINNA: I’m gonna spend the last advantage to give a blue die to Hank.

NICK: Good idea.

LILIT: In the commotion the stormtroopers are now very distracted having seen one of their colleagues picked up and thrown into another one, so they are slightly distracted. We are now at the new group of stormtroopers, and let’s see how they roll. They rolled a lot of blank dice, so… they pretty much do nothing. All of their shots go wide. They don’t hit anything, and they aren’t even able to provide any distractions or advantages.

NICK (as HK): Ha-ha. Ha-ha. Ha-ha. Suppressing fire. Suppressing fire.

MINNA: [giggles]

LILIT: [laughs] We are now back to a PC slot.

NICK: I think HK, after getting his fill of that, tosses his rifle up over a shoulder and his hand snaps out of the way revealing the tip of a little rocket embedded in his arm, and he looks to the large group of stormtroopers clustered really close together around Kessek, and then he looks at their target which all the other floats were kind enough to move out of the way… and he looks at Kessek, and he looks at the float… but I don’t know who to shoot at. [laughing] Who should I shoot at? I only have one missile.

LILIT: Ooh… I will say—So, the stormtroopers would be, if you’re aiming at the group, they would be short range. The parade float is moving into long range.

NICK: Okay, because it’s like leaving?

LILIT: Yeah. They’re making a turn away perpendicular from the street you are on.

NICK: Okay, so before they get out of sight I’m going to use my maneuver to move, and then I’m going to spend a strain to double move which brings them back to medium range, and then… I guess what I’ll do is I’ll double move to run after the float.

LILIT: And take that strain?

NICK: Yeah, but I’ll fire back behind me with the rocket towards the group. [laughs]

NICK (as HK): Come on, Kessek. We gotta go.

NICK: I’m gonna roll to attack just as many stormtroopers as possible with this rocket. Also, I’m sorry if I kill you, Minna.

[laughter]

MINNA: That’s fine.

LILIT: I doubt you will.

NICK: Probably not, but this is going to do a lot of damage.

LILIT: There is one single light side point still available.

NICK: Yeah, I’ll flip that.

LILIT: Ha-ha, and that brings us to three dark side points.

NICK: I ain’t ascared. Okay, let’s see how this goes. A single success is all I got. Oh, and one advantage. So, this rocket does 6 damage and Burn 2, so I just throw a whole bunch of napalm all over the street.

LILIT: Okay. I’m going to say that with that damage and that Burn that you effectively are taking that secondary group of troopers out of the initiative. They’re still alive, however they are much more concerned with the fact that they are on fire.

NICK: Yeah, I would be too. That makes sense.

LILIT: There are still three troopers up and about, though. With the end of HK’s turn, we are at one of those troopers. They will be aiming at Kessek, and… just a whole lot of advantages.

MINNA: [laughs]

LILIT: Well, they’re gonna use those advantages to create an opportunity for the next troopers to have a better shot at you, giving them a blue die, and that is the end of this round. I will say that the smoke is no longer there, so we’ll be removing those dice. Kessek, you are still there, and this trooper is going to shoot at you.

MINNA: I think while HK’s running away Kessek is like:

MINNA (as Kessek): I’ll hold them off.

LILIT: Just as you say that, you get hit with 8 damage.

NICK: [scoffs]

MINNA: Mm-hmm!

LILIT: They rolled some good successes in there.

NICK (as HK): My mechanical brain means that I will be unable to forget your sacrifice.

NICK: As he’s like running down the street. [laughs]

MINNA (as Kessek): Thanks?

LILIT: The second stormtrooper takes a shot at Kessek yet again, and does nothing. It is a complete wash.

MINNA: [giggles]

LILIT: Their rifle doesn’t even fire, just, something happens and they don’t even get a shot off, but that does bring us back to a PC slot.

MINNA: I think now that HK has implied that I’m going to die here if I stay, they’re just gonna… You know what, she’s not so committed that she wants to die in this, so… I’ve got 11 wounds out of 16. How do I get out of here? Let me think.

LILIT: There are enough side alleys, and there’s not much of a crowd anymore, but you probably could maneuver through some side alleys using Stealth or Streetwise.

MINNA: yeah, I’m gonna go that route I think.

LILIT: Yeah, and get any troopers that follow you off your tail, and then meet back up with HK.

MINNA: Yeah. What is that difficulty gonna look like?

LILIT: I would say it is an average difficulty, because there’s really only three troopers left and they’re wounded and their charges are now driving away, so as much as they want to get these enemy combatants their job is still to protect someone.

MINNA: Mm-hmm.

LILIT: But I am going to flip a dark side point to increase that, so it’ll be one purple, one red.

MINNA: Alright.

NICK: Can she have a blue die because of all the smoke and chaos and stuff everywhere

LILIT: I’ll say you can have a blue die for the chaos. The smoke has dissipated enough since it’s been over two full rounds.

MINNA: Three successes and three threats, so I successfully evade them, but what happens that’s bad? Three threats is pretty bad…

LILIT: Yeah, you are able to evade them, however the way you had to move through the alleys to lose them meant you had to move slightly away from where the floats were headed so it will take you longer to meet back up with HK.

MINNA: Sounds good.

LILIT: Now that that initiative is dropped, HK, what are you doing?

NICK: So, this float is scooting away from me. My original plan was to blow it up, but I’m a big softy and I blew up Kessek to save Kessek.

MINNA: [giggles]

NICK: I think what I’m going to do is wait for as this float is going away… it’s still shielded, so I’m gonna try to shoot a street sign or a balcony or something to try to drop something really big and heavy through the shield onto the float and try to break the shield.

LILIT: You know what I’ll give you?

NICK: Hmm?

LILIT: I will give you that a lot of news stations are obviously covering this event, and there is a floating droid much like those probe droids floating up that has had cameras installed onto it so that it kind of has the appearance of an insect eye. It’s just covered in round little cameras so that it can get all sorts of different camera angles on it. You could shoot that out of the sky, and you figure with some basic maths that you could probably get it to go through the shield and hit someone.

NICK: Okay. Yeah. That sounds good to me. I’m gonna do one move action to keep chasing after this thing. Hopefully that’ll bring me to the cross-street that it’s going down so it’s not too far away. What range does that put me at?

LILIT: I would say that puts you at short range.

NICK: Wow. Okie-dokie.

LILIT: These floats don’t move super-fast even when they’re cranked up to their highest setting, more from a safety standpoint of these aren’t just floats that are modified hovercrafts or anything, these are built-for-parade floats, so they are very top-heavy, so if they were to go too fast they would probably just fall over.

NICK: Cool. HK jogs up, drops to one knee, we get the view from his perspective so the vision is all red-tinted and has lasers and targeting markers everywhere on it, and HK says…

[humorous action music begins]

NICK (as HK): Regretful Statement: Sorry buddy.

NICK: …and then shoots this big, heavy droid out of the air. Oh, by a whole bunch. Five successes and one, two, three, four advantages.

MINNA: Oh my god.

LILIT: Oof.

NICK: This is the one thing I’m good at, Minna! [laughs]

MINNA: It’s real good.

LILIT: Yeah. You didn’t even have to destroy this droid. I mean, the droid is pretty much just hovering slightly above where the shield is, because it’s following this float very closely, so you are able to hit it at just the perfect angle that shoots it down into the shield, and you are able to just cock the Moff right on his head. One, he is conked on the head and remains on the float, and two, conked on the head, falls off the float. You get to call red or blue for falling off the float.

NICK: Oh geez.

LILIT: We’re gonna roll a chance cube.

MINNA: Teehee.

NICK: Ahh! I’ll go with red.

LILIT: Okay. Oh, so while the Moff is hit on the head with this droid, one of his attendants is able to hold him up and he remains on the float.

NICK: [grumbles]

LILIT: You had a 50/50 shot, but blue came up.

NICK: Oh well. I still hit someone in the head with a droid. I feel pretty good about that.

LILIT: The poor droid does roll off the float and enough of the cameras are still working that you can see they have, the cameras that have a good angle of you are all selected and turned on.

NICK: Uh-oh.

LILIT: So there is now some lovely footage of HK. I mean, you don’t know whether or not this droid is recording live or if they are recording to a database inside of them for later use.

NICK: And honestly, HK’s so focused on what he’s doing he probably would note that and then just keep going anyway.

[humorous action music fades]

LILIT: So now that this Moff has been conked on the head and the float with the Queen is now moving by you, you can see that most of the people on the floats have now been brought inside the float. There’s a small compartment for them to go into. They are starting to move into this little sheltered area. The Queen’s float moves past you and away, but up next is the Royal Naboo Security Force’s Veterans float.

MINNA: Oh… boy.

LILIT: [laughs They take a look at you and they all pull out blasters. They remain on their float, but they are going to attempt to shoot you as they float by.

NICK: I would like to upgrade the difficulty of their check by one please. [laughs] I’m using Dodge. Gonna leave that light side point for Kessek to rescue me, but HK definitely says…

NICK (as HK): Panicked Statement: Oh kriff.

MINNA: [giggles]

NICK: …and dives behind a pile of trash.

LILIT: They’re retired and they’re a little bit older, but they still have some great aim, and a few of them are able to hit HK just right at the center of mass, throws him back , and HK powers down for a little bit. Kessek, you are able to reach HK as he’s powering down.

MINNA: I drag him into the nearest alleyway.

LILIT: Pretty easy to do that. Most of the troopers are more concerned with following the floats and protecting, and there’s just enough pandemonium going on that they do not see where you dragged HK. If you would like to flip a light side point, your last one…

MINNA: Yes. I think what this looks like is that she kind of drags HK into a shadowy alcove and fumbles through whatever stuff HK has on them and finds the droid repair kit, and then there’s just grumbling under her breath as she tries to fix them, and there’s little sparks as she touches wires.

LILIT: You’re also able to find two stim packs which would work on you.

MINNA: Oh hell yeah. I like it. Pulls off the caps with her teeth and injects them.

LILIT: So, two stim packs back to back would give you 9 health.

MINNA: Sounds good. I’m at 2 wounds now.

NICK (as HK): Fading Statement: Kessek, is that you? I see a light. I can see the creator beckoning me forward.

MINNA (as Kessek): Stop being so dramatic, Agony Aunt.

NICK: [laughs]

NICK (as HK): Look, I died. I’m pretty sure, I mean, I’m not an organic but I was really dead there for a second. I’ve seen a lot of death. That was not good. Not a fan.

MINNA (as Kessek): Good thing you’re not organic.

NICK (as HK): You know sweetness, I’ve never agreed with you more in my entire life, and my life’s been pretty long.

MINNA (as Kessek): Do not call me sweetness.

NICK (as HK): Don’t call me Agony—Actually, I kinda like Agony Aunt. You can call me that. I’m good with that. So, I got him, right? Moff dead? Success? We did it?

MINNA (as Kessek): Negative.

NICK (as HK): Ugh… Disappointed sigh.

MINNA: [laughs]

LILIT: So this repair kit is able to do some quick patches to bring you back up to some amount of health. Not everything is repaired, and you will need to see a mechanic at some point, but you are up and running and would be able to continue this mission. From some of the windows of buildings around you, you are able to hear the holo-news on, and you can hear newscasters announcing that:

LILIT (as newscaster): Despite these terrible assassination attempts, the Queen and Moff still plan on giving their speeches at the royal palace to show that you cannot keep the Galactic Empire down.

MINNA: [groans] Sorry, that was me, Minna, in discomfort about Naboo being pro-Imperial, even though I know it is, or at least some of it is.

[laughter]

LILIT: You would know that the palace isn’t terribly far, but it would still take you 10-15 minutes to get down there.

NICK: Unless we steal a car.

MINNA: A speeder!

LILIT: You could steal a car.

NICK: [laughs]

MINNA: I kinda wanna do grand theft speeder. That sounds like fun.

NICK: Yeah, let’s steal a speeder.

MINNA: Can I look for a speeder that looks hijackable?

LILIT: Let’s go with a Streetwise roll for that. I would say it’s going to be average difficulty. This area is no longer on high alert, but there are obviously still some people milling about.

MINNA: One success, one advantage.

LILIT: Okay, yeah. You’re able to find a small two-person speeder. I will say the advantage is that it’s at the other end of the alley that is opening out into a different street, so stormtroopers would not see you at all.

NICK (as HK): Kessek, maybe it’s all the blaster wounds, but what makes a speeder more hijackable than others? We walked a while to find this one.

MINNA (as Kessek): It is in a good location. It is a model that is, well, not that difficult to hotwire, so it looks like our best bet.

NICK (as HK): I tend to specialize in murder, so learning more about theft is a great way to expand my horizons.

MINNA (as Kessek): You can’t really get far in assassinations without breaking some other laws.

LILIT: So, you are able to get into this speeder and zip through the streets on the way to the palace. It’s not that difficult. Most pedestrians have either moved inside for safety or have relocated to the palace. As you start hitting resistance from a crowd you can see that the Moff, the Queen and her handmaidens, and a few other high-ranking officials are lined up at a podium on the staircase leading up to the palace. How do you want to approach this situation?

NICK: I will say since the very beginning I’ve been hoping to do just a really, really long sniper shot to kill this guy. [laughs]

MINNA: Yes. I feel like that is actually our best bet at this point.

NICK: Did you say that the podium is shielded, Lilit?

LILIT: Right now it looks as if things are being set up. You’re a little too far away to see if they have any light shielding. Very heavy shielding, you would definitely be able to see that blue shimmer, but some lighter shields are faint enough that from this distance you wouldn’t be able to tell unless you spend some time, and say, a roll, to figure that out.

MINNA: What kind of a roll would that be?

LILIT: Perception, and especially because you are still currently at ground level and there is a crowd ahead of you, because they are up on the large grand steps going up you would be able to see them a little bit better, but going up to a second or third story building would give you an even better vantage point.

MINNA: And probably a better sniper shot, I would guess.

MINNA (as Kessek): We should find a better vantage point.

NICK (as HK): Agreed.

LILIT: There are plenty of buildings to choose from. you’re able to find a clothing store that has different departments on different floors, and you can easily get up there without much notice, and you are now on a third floor and you would have a great vantage point, although you are at long range.

NICK: That’s fine. So, I guess HK uses his scope to check out the podium and look for any additional defenses.

LILIT: If you are looking for all defenses and if there’s a shield and everything, I would say this would be an average check. If you just wanna look for whether or not there’s a shield, that would be easy.

MINNA: How is your Perception?

NICK: I’m decent. I’ve got 2 in Perception and 3 Cunning.

MINNA: Oh, same.

NICK: We could work together.

MINNA: Yeah, we can work together, but we have the same, so I don’t know how much that would help.

NICK: I mean, it would add a blue die. We can do it as a team.

MINNA: Yeah, let’s do that.

NICK: Team spotter kind of thing. We have got… two successes and two threats.

LILIT: You are able to see that they have a very light shield up. With how faint it looks it appears to be one that is meant to stop handheld blaster fire from a rather short distance. It would protect if someone came up and tried to do a short range blaster shot, but a heavier rifle would probably be able to go through that. you notice that most of the stormtroopers are focused a few steps down and are lining up more to prevent the crowd from going up, so there’s not really any stormtroopers right around the Moff and the Queen. However, with that threat, there are other officials up with them, and from where your vantage point is there is some sort of senator standing right in front of the Moff.

NICK: Hmm.

LILIT: So you would have to shoot through this other official or hope that they move. You can see that despite it being scheduled that the Moff was gonna give a speech it appears as if the Queen is going to be giving one instead.

NICK: I mean, I have no problem shooting through people. That will just make the shot a little harder.

MINNA: Yeah, or you know, shoot the senator and when they fall follow with a second shot very quickly that gets the Moff.

NICK: Yeah. So, after HK and Kessek have gotten a pretty good view of what it is—I’m also imagining we’re amongst a bunch of mannequins wearing fancy Naboo clothes. [laughs]

LILIT: Oh, if you want to, we could say that is storage and it’s just a whole bunch of mannequins lined up and so you are amongst the mannequins leaning out a window.

MINNA: [laughing] Of course that’s what we are.

NICK: Yeah, I like that. That would be creepy to most people. It’s not to HK.

LILIT: You even have a little bit of benefit, because if anyone looked up you might be able to blend into the mannequins a little bit.

MINNA: [laughs] A droid and a Trandoshan.

NICK: It’s a big mannequin.

LILIT: There’s probably no lights on, and with it being a capital city, while most of the population of Theed, Naboo’s capital, is Human, there’s obviously other species that are around. There are Gungans, they’re not super prevalent in Theed at this point, but there’s plenty of other alien species that come in and visit, so there’s an assortment of non-Human mannequins for their small sections that have non-Human sized clothes.

MINNA: Mm-hmm.

LILIT: So you might be able to, from someone looking at the ground level, you might blend in if you’re not moving too much.

NICK: HK, after looking at this overview, looks to Kessek and says:

NICK (as HK): Kessek, my newest and closest friend, I think we can do the shot from here, but I would appreciate having a spotter. Would you assist?

MINNA (as Kessek): Happily.

NICK (as HK): I’ll let you have 100% of the pay as long as I get to ventilate this stinking organic.

MINNA (as Kessek): Then I will reciprocate, my newest and dearest friend.

NICK: [laughs]

LILIT: In this situation, is the plan that Kessek will shoot the official in front of the Moff and then HK will shoot the Moff, assuming the official drops?

NICK: Well, I was thinking if we have Kessek calling out range and sight and everything that it would give me some bonuses…

MINNA: Mm-hmm.

NICK: …and HK would try to either through-and-through both of them or shoot one and then the other really quickly.

LILIT: Okay.

NICK: I have kind of a wombo-combo of talents, although I actually do like the idea of Kessek take one out and then HK hit the one behind…

MINNA: I could do that as like a sighting thing… [laughs]

NICK: Yeah.

MINNA: I think both of those sound good.

[dramatic music begins]

LILIT: If you were both looking down your scopes with the idea of one shot to the official, a second shot to the Moff, and you were both scoping, you would essentially both be able to call out distances and angles. You would be able to see the wind and everything. You wouldn’t necessarily have to have one person entirely dedicated to that.

MINNA: That makes sense.

NICK: Okay. Cool.

MINNA: I think Kessek has the first shot and you get the kill, basically.

NICK: Okay. Works for me.

MINNA: Are we essentially doing an aim maneuver? Is that what that sighting through the scope thing is?

LILIT: Yes, it would be aiming. You would both get a boost die for aiming, and then I would say you would get one setback die for the light shield.

MINNA: So I can actually reduce that with one of my things.

NICK: Yeah, same.

MINNA: So I’ll take a strain to get rid of that setback die, but other than that, yeah, my talents don’t help me.

LILIT: Alright. You are both able to remove that setback die from the shield, but you would both have a boost die for aiming.

NICK: I’m gonna take another boost die for quick Strike, because the Moff hasn’t done anything yet, and then I’m also going to be doing a Targeted Blow. Do we have a light side point to flip?

LILIT: You don’t~

NICK: Oh, never mind, I won’t do that then.

MINNA: You know, I also have Quick Strike. [laughs] I will do that also.

NICK: Okay, so we’ll be rolling the same thing then.

LILIT: Then I will be flipping one of these dark side points to up the first shot, so upgrade the difficulty. One of those purple will become a red. I will say an unexpected gust of wind right as you go to make the shot.

MINNA: Wish me luck.

NICK: So, we get to see HK and Kessek both amongst all these mannequins, laying down with the rifles scoped on these politicians, and HK says:

NICK (as HK): Whenever you’re ready, sweetness.

MINNA: Two successes and one threat.

LILIT: I’m gonna say unless you really want to kill this official damage isn’t gonna matter.

MINNA: It would be 10 damage, but I do have a stun setting, so I’m happy stunning this senator.

LILIT: Yeah. You had your gun on stun, and the senator goes down giving HK a clear shot to the Moff. I will say that threat will come in the form of another black die. The gust of wind whips around and comes from the opposite direction back which would throw off some of your calculations.

NICK: Okay, that’s fine. Ooh, that was a very good roll. I got four successes and two advantages, so I would like to flip a destiny point…

LILIT: Yes?

NICK: …the last one, to use my Targeted Blow, which lets me add Agility damage, so that’s 4 additional damage. The sniper is 5, so that’s 14. That’s 18 damage, Pierce 1. That’s pretty good.

MINNA: Holy cow.

LILIT: Yeah.

NICK: Yeah.

LILIT: As is tradition, this Moff is an older man and not particularly sturdy, so that much damage takes him down. You get a perfect chest shot, and he goes down, and based on where you hit him and how hard you hit him you wouldn’t even have to check to see if he made it.

[dramatic music fades]

NICK (as HK): Kessek, you should check your weapon. It appears to be malfunctioning. I could’ve sworn that was a stun shot.

MINNA (as Kessek): We did this clean in the end.

NICK (as HK): Seems like you left an opportunity on the table to kill more organics, but… eh, I don’t intend to be critical of your style.

MINNA (as Kessek): The goal here was not to kill more, it was to kill a specific individual. We have accomplished that goal.

NICK (as HK): You say jorgan fruit, I say jargon fruit.

NICK: HK is breaking down his rifle and getting ready to run.

MINNA: [whispering, smiling] Nobody says jargon fruit.

NICK: [smiling] You can’t say tomato-tomahto in Star Wars.

MINNA: [smiling] I know. Let’s call the whole thing off.

NICK: [laughs]

LILIT: The Moff goes down, and chaos ensues. The handmaidens surround the Queen and they are ushered back up into the palace. Someone is dragging the lifeless body of the Moff off to the side, and the crowd is scattering away from the palace, which means that there are now lots of stormtroopers coalescing onto that spot, but crowds are coming your direction. You would be pretty able to get down out of this building and, as long as you hide your weapons and everything, blend into the crowd.

MINNA: That sounds like a plan.

[classical music begins on a record player]

NICK: HK will just, like, he was breaking down his rifle. He’ll scatter the parts through some alleys as they leave the area and he’ll go pick them back up later.

MINNA: [giggles] I think Kessek—so she slings her sword and her rifle across her back most of the time—so I think she just steals a cloak from this store room and throws it over those.

LILIT: Good. It’s a very nice cloak, in season, it has some great embroidery on it.

NICK (as HK): Surprised Statement: Oh, that’s a great idea. Is there one in my size?

NICK: And we get a quick montage of HK selecting a cloak, too.

LILIT: I mean, there would definitely be ones that would fit you. HK isn’t a massively huge droid.

NICK: No, he’s very average size, actually a little small.

MINNA: Kessek has the vibes of like, your dad or boyfriend waiting while you try things on in a store.

[laughter]

LILIT: I kind of like the idea of Kessek holding some part of the gun, just awkwardly holding a piece of the gun out while HK is trying things on.

MINNA: Mm-hmm.

LILIT: HK also selects a lovely coat. It is more of a winter coat, and it is spring now, but it still fits.

NICK: We walk outside into the crowds as the crowds are fleeing, and HK says:

NICK (as HK): Oh no. What a tragedy. I personally will be affected for my life. This is so sad. Oh no.

MINNA (as Kessek): Laying it on a little thick, aren’t you?

[classical music ends]

LILIT: You disperse into the crowd, and you might want to consider laying low for a little bit just because of the number of recording droids that were following the parade that may now have your photos… but until they begin looking for you, you would be able to make your way somewhere more secure before arranging payment.

NICK: It’s probably HK and Kessek on the outskirts of town waiting on a pickup by a cargo speeder or something.

MINNA: Mm-hmm.

NICK: And HK says:

NICK (as HK): So, anyway, like I said, I got what I wanted already, so I guess you’re entitled to the 10,000 Credits.

LILIT: Well, so Nick, it makes it sound like HK went ahead and called their contact, like, out of just, already…

MINNA: Oh.

LILIT: …that that contact is already on the way?

NICK: Yeah. Sure.

LILIT: Okay. Flipping one of my dark side points. Your contact shows up right as you are saying that, and Kessek, you would know that your contact had offered you double that.

MINNA: No!

LILIT: Twenty thousand.

MINNA: I think that there is a beat and then just a stun blast hits that contact.

[laughter]

LILIT: So, it is an enclosed hover craft that pulls up, and one of the front doors open, and a Human man walks out, and right as they are getting out, Kessek, you shoot them square in the chest and they go down.

NICK (as HK): Oh, kriff yeah, Kessek. Are we hurting more people? I’m down for that.

MINNA (as Kessek): I had a better offer, so clearly your negotiation skills need some work. I’m going to collect the reward. Feel free to collect the glory from this guy when he wakes up.

NICK (as HK): Okay. [uncertain] I guess I’ll tell him I scared you off in betrayal and stuff so he’ll owe me one… Maybe he’ll give me more work.

LILIT: As this happens, the back window to the speeder rolls down and a slightly older Chiss man leans out the window and goes:

LILIT (as Chiss): Well, that was not very polite.

MINNA: [laughs] Is this the actual person who made the offer?

LILIT: Kessek, you would recognize this as the actual person who gave you your offer. You were told his name was Yarbada, a slightly older Chiss gentleman with very short hair and the standard blue skin, red eyes, and he goes:

LILIT (as Yarbada): Oh…

MINNA (as Kessek): Ah, Yarbada.

MINNA: [giggles]

LILIT (as Yarbada): So, yes… Well—

MINNA (as Kessek): I thought he was competition.

LILIT (as Yarbada): Oh, no… That was one of my attendants. I will have to hire a new one now.

MINNA (as Kessek): He’ll be fine.

LILIT (as Yarbada): I hope you don’t mind if I take that out of your pay.

MINNA (as Kessek): How much?

LILIT (as Yarbada): Oh, I would say… bringing it down to 15,000?

MINNA (as Kessek): Seventeen.

LILIT (as Yarbada): Sixteen. It is so hard to find good help on such short notice.

MINNA (as Kessek): Sixteen-five, and no one finds out it was you.

LILIT (as Yarbada): [sighs] Sixteen-five it is, and that is mostly just because I would rather not get out of the craft. I did not put on regular shoes, you see.

MINNA: [snickers]

LILIT (as Yarbada): Still in my slippers. Did not think I would have to do this.

MINNA (as Kessek): Next time you might want to set up a signal that this is your man. Bounty hunters can be jumpy.

LILIT (as Yarbada): Well, this is the drop-off point. I figured you would assume it was the person doing the drop-off.

MINNA (as Kessek): Never make assumptions. Assumptions get you killed.

LILIT: Yarbada leans a little bit further out the window.

LILIT (as Yarbada): Ah, yes, the droid!

NICK (as HK): You know what they say about assumptions; they make a gundark out of you and me.

MINNA: [giggles]

LILIT (as Yarbada): You are both here. Huh. Well, good for you. I am only paying once, though.

MINNA (as Kessek): We already agreed on a price.

LILIT: HK, now that you have a better view of this man, you would know that you were also hired by a Chiss.

MINNA: [giggles]

LILIT: You went through a few more in-betweens, but you did eventually speak with the direct hirer through holo-vids.

NICK (as HK): Grazy’arbad’askufuku, how come you hired more than one hunter? Did you not have confidence in either of us? I am disappointed.

LILIT (as Yarbada): It’s not that I didn’t have confidence, it’s that I really wanted him dead, and I just wanted to have a little extra insurance that he would not make it through the day. I am surprised you didn’t run into anyone else also going after the same target. I think I hired four in total.

NICK (as HK): Well, that’s concerning.

LILIT (as Yarbada): It is concerning. Was the initial attack with the droid hitting him on the head and all of that also you?

MINNA (as Kessek): Of course it wasn’t. It was some other amateurs that you hired.

NICK (as HK): Yes. Who would make an amazing shot like that?

LILIT (as Yarbada): Oh… Hmm.

LILIT: You can see he smiles a little bit once HK says that.

LILIT (as Yarbada): Of course. Ugh, it is concerning of where the other two went.

NICK (as HK): If they show up I’ll be sure to put them down. Don’t worry.

LILIT (as Yarbada): No matter, but like I said, I’m only paying once. So, sixteen it is.

MINNA (as Kessek): Sixteen-five, we agreed.

LILIT: [laughs] You can see he smiles and does a little chuckle.

LILIT (as Yarbada): Ha-ha, yes, well you cannot blame me for hoping you would have forgotten.

LILIT: He snaps his fingers and another attendant gets out of the other side of the front and brings you over a small credit stick, the kind that has like whatever amount you put on it, not the physical credits. Star Wars is weird with their money.

LILIT (as Yarbada): That will have the sixteen fifty loaded onto it. It has been a pleasure working with you two, and if I do ever need another perfectly legal job done again I will contact you.

NICK (as HK): Thank you for doing business with HK Assassination LLC. Please leave us a five-star review on the holo-net.

LILIT: He just quietly stares at you and rolls up the window in silence before he just goes:

LILIT (as Yarbada): No… I will not.

MINNA: [giggles]

LILIT: The hovercraft drives away slowly.

NICK (as HK): That guy kind of sucks.

MINNA (as Kessek): Yeah, he’s not my favorite to do business with, but he does pay.

NICK (as HK): Well, it’s been good. We should do this again sometime. If you ever need somebody ventilated give me a call.

NICK: HK hands you a little business card with his com number on it.

MINNA (as Kessek): I’ll think about it. It was useful to have somebody who doesn’t want to get paid along with the ride.

NICK (as HK): I mean, sometimes I take money, but I just got the cool grappling hook and the nano-blade, so I don’t see much use for it right now. You know, droid’s don’t eat, so that really frees up a lot of expenses.

MINNA (as Kessek): Are you telling me you did this for fun?

NICK (as HK): I wouldn’t say “fun.” Deep-seated enjoyment? Inherent validation, maybe?

MINNA (as Kessek): Fun.

NICK (as HK): Fun…

MINNA (as Kessek): Okay then. Good to meet you. Go sort out your friend with the… girlfriend issues.

NICK (as HK): Yeah, I should probably… Well, we’re not supposed to talk right now, but hopefully I’ll see her again. I think I’m pretty qualified to give love life advice.

MINNA (as Kessek): You’re… qualified?

NICK (as HK): I thought my advice was good. Did you hear my side of it? I thought I was doing a great job.

MINNA (as Kessek): I mean, you were doing a great job, I was just… I’m not gonna ask any more questions.

NICK (as HK): You’d be surprised how often people who talk to me say things like that.

MINNA (as Kessek): Well, I’m gonna go find my ship and get out of here before anybody takes any more interest.

NICK (as HK): I have a ride hidden in a swamp on the other side of the planet. I’ll head that direction, but… it’s been good.

NICK: HK holds out a hand to shake.

MINNA: [laughs] I don’t think she does a traditional handshake. I think she does the hand grasp thing.

NICK: Yeah!

LILIT: [laughs] So, Kessek grasps HK’s hand, and you do notice that this droid’s hands are way too small for his body frame, almost as if you could call them baby hands.

MINNA: [squeaks and squirms with joy]

LILIT: You give him a few firm handshakes, and you silently turn around and you part ways.

MINNA: She has so many more questions than answers.

NICK: [laughs] As HK walks off into the wilderness outside of the city he says to himself…

NICK (as HK): I am so injured.

NICK: [smiling] …and just walks off.

MINNA: [yelps, laughs quietly]

LILIT: And that’s where we’re gonna end the episode.

NICK: Yay~

LILIT & NICK: Ba-naaa~!

## Outro

LILIT: Thanks for listening to Tabletop Squadron. A special thank you to our patron, GyaradosSkullfucker, for the Chiss NPC Yarbada who appeared in this episode. We also forgot to give a shout-out to Solicitor6 for their NPC Chundi Sandal who appeared in the first Tink Interstitial episode. If you would like your own NPC to appear in an episode, you can back us at the Build-A-Beru $10 level on Patreon at Patreon.com/TabletopSquadron where you can find other reward levels such as on-air thank-yous and secret archives.

If you’ve enjoyed our show, please consider logging into your podcast listening app of choice and leaving a review. Ratings and reviews help new listeners find the show and decide if the show is right for them.

Your game master was me, Lilit Penrod. I can be found on Twitter at @cheerio_buffet.

HK-67 was played by Nick Robertson, and he can be found on Twitter at @alias58.

Kessek was played by Minna. She can be found on Twitter at @mynaminnarr.

Our intro song is Space Jam by Pablo Ribot.

Outro music performed by James Gunter.

Follow the podcast on Twitter and Instagram at @Tabletop_Squad, and join our Discord at bit.ly/TabletopDiscord. We have a wonderful community and we’d love to chat with you. See you next time.

Word document download: Interstitials s1- HK 1- Fuck It, The Episode’s Just Called Shipoopi

PDF download: Interstitials s1- HK 1- Fuck It, The Episode’s Just Called Shipoopi

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Tabletop Squadron Transcript, HK-67 Interstitial 1, Part 1: Fuck It, The Episode’s Just Called “Shipoopi”

Transcript by Tyler (Twitter: @Tyler_MoonSage)

## Intro

LILIT: Hello, and welcome to Tabletop Squadron, a Star Wars: Edge of the Empire actual play podcast. I’m Lilit, your game master. Every other Thursday, our story follows a thief, a bounty hunter, and a slicer as they explore the galaxy helping a mysterious benefactor and each other.

Today we’re starting the last of the solo adventures before Season 2 begins by catching up with what HK has been doing in this downtime. These interstitial arcs have been so much fun, but we’re looking forward to getting the crew back together.

Music in this episode can be found in the show notes.

Now let’s get to the episode.

##

LILIT: Hello, and welcome to Tabletop Squadron. I’m Lilit, your game master for today. Let’s hear from our players for today, starting with Nick!

NICK: Hi. I’m Nick, and today I’m going to be playing HK-67, a droid assassin.

LILIT: Also called Hank.

MINNA: [giggles]

NICK: HK-67.

LILIT: … Hank.

NICK: [laughs]

LILIT: I only say that because I will probably say Hank at some point.

NICK: Oh, it’s fine.

LILIT: It’s habit now.

NICK: Yeah. [laughs]

LILIT: And our second player, Minna!

MINNA: Hi! I’m Minna. I’ll be playing Kessek, a Trandoshan assassin. You can also find me on the internet at @mynaminnarr on Twitter and in The magpies podcast and The Complete Discography podcast.

LILIT: Great. Now let’s do the Destiny Roll! So, if each of you want to roll one of the white Force die.

MINNA: Oh, one dark side.

NICK: Two dark side.

LILIT: Great, now onto the episode.

[peaceful music begins]

LILIT: We open on a rising sun over Naboo. We pan down onto a meadow bathed in golden light as flowers sway in the breeze. A thunderous roar grows as we scan across a trio of waterfalls and a flock of ducks flies across the screen… because there are ducks in Star Wars.

NICK: Yes!

MINNA: Mm-hmm!

LILIT: A vibrant city comes into view, alive with the bustle of morning traffic. We star wipe to a crowded café. Everyone seems more concerned with watching the street than with their steaming caf and delicate pastries, but two of this café’s patrons are different. HK, where are you in this café?

[music shifts to jaunty player piano]

NICK: HK-67 is seated at one of the tables closest to the road and has a large flimsy newspaper held up in front of his face, and there is a full cup of caf sitting on the table that has gone cold, and HK is saying things like:

NICK (as HK): Yes, the local news is so absorbing. Yes… oh darn, my lotto numbers didn’t come in. Maybe next time.

NICK: Just sporadically.

LILIT: Every so often one of the café employees comes over and looks at the cold coffee.

LILIT (as employee): Uh, do you have an, uh, owner or associate who will be joining you? Should we heat up the caf for them?

NICK: HK grabs the cup, looks at it, and says…

NICK (as HK): I can see it would be suspicious that I don’t need a refill.

NICK: …and dumps it on the sidewalk and then holds up the cup.

NICK (as HK): Some more, please.

MINNA: [laughs]

LILIT: The employee just looks flabbergasted and shakily grabs the cup.

LILIT (as employee): Um… Uh… Okay. I’ll be back over in a moment. One more caf… Yeah, okay.

LILIT: Kessek, where are you?

MINNA: Kessek is standing up against a wall in classic bodyguard pose, but nobody knows who she’s bodyguarding. Kessek is holding a caf and sipping it occasionally.

LILIT: Good. Most of the other patrons are giving you a bit of a wide birth, because a lone bodyguard does look a little suspicious, not terribly, you know.

MINNA: There could be somebody secretly fancy here.

LILIT: Yeah, there’s so many dignitaries, and who knows what they all look like. Outside the café stormtroopers start to put up barricades to block pedestrians from walking into the road. It does look like the parade will be starting shortly. HK, what sort of recon did you do for this mission?

[piano music fades]

NICK: I think that HK got this assignment probably through several different layers of contacts and spent some of his recent money on just getting a general dossier of info about the event and the target. Like, basically black market eBay.

LILIT: Okay, black market eBay. What would, uh… Streetwise?

NICK: [sarcastically] Sure. Yeah. That’s a thing I have.

LILIT: Yeah!

NICK: Oh hey, did you know that HK has 3 Cunning? Because I forgot that. [laughs] Four successes and one threat.

MINNA: Ooh.

LILIT: Nice! You would have found the exact parade route. The parade permits are public record. You would know that the queen is scheduled to be on the second to last float and that her float will be shielded. None of the other floats will be. You know that the Moff, your assassination target for today, will be on the third-to-last float, and you will know that at the end of the parade route, which will be at the palace where the Moff plans to give a speech, there will be plenty of stormtroopers out and about but most of them will be on the ground surrounding the floats. It’s fun, because Star Wars floats will actually float.

NICK: Oh-no~

MINNA: Ah, hover floats.

LILIT: Is there any more specific information you would have liked to find out?

NICK: I think that HK probably would have been really interested in the exact make and model of the shielding for the float and if there’s any way to go past it. I don’t think he has any immediate plans to assassinate the queen, but if that technology gets moved around or something happens having a way to get through that would be…

MINNA: Oh yeah. Is it the shielding that just stops blaster fire or the shielding that stops all physical objects?

LILIT: It is the shielding that just stops blaster fire, so the ones that the battle droids have where you can put something through it and enter that space but blaster fire cannot go in.

NICK: Alright. Fun. That has some fun connotations for me personally. [laughs]

MINNA: [giggles]

LILIT: So, that is the information you have gathered. You probably were able to find out all the other organizations and groups that have floats in this parade, although I doubt you were that much interested in them. it’s pretty typical parade stuff. There’s a float for the Galactic Youth, a float for the Plasma Refinery Association, the last float in the parade is the Royal Naboo Security Force’s veterans.

MINNA: Aww.

LILIT: Things like that. Most of them will be covered in large amounts of native Naboo flowers. The Galactic Youth float, they usually throw candy out to the pedestrians watching the parade. Pretty typical parade things. What are you doing as the stormtroopers are setting up the barricades?

NICK: So, I think the reason HK is at this café is it’s right next door to a three story apartment building, and once they’re starting to set up the parade route HK gets up and is headed for the roof of that building. Oh, and also, probably picking up his gun that he has stashed in an alley or something. He’s gonna need that. [laughs]

LILIT: Go ahead and give me a Stealth check on that.

NICK: Okie-dokie.

LILIT: With, go ahead and do three purple on that.

NICK: Okay… Well, so that is a wash with three advantages.

LILIT: Three advantages. Okay. I will say that the café employees see you leave through—Would you leave through the front door or the back door of the café?

NICK: Probably through the front door with the plan being to loop around.

LILIT: Okay. So, the café employees do see you leave and walk around the building, but they don’t seem too concerned, and a stormtrooper or two see you walk back there, but they also seem much more busy with some internal communications and setting up these parade barriers.

NICK (as HK): Statement: Nobody here but us protocol droids.

LILIT: A little mouse droid beeps angrily at you and drives away.

NICK (as HK): Rebuke: I said what I meant, tiny friend.

LILIT (as mouse droid): Beep-beep, boooop.

LILIT: You know what that mouse droid said and it’s not polite.

NICK: Oh well. [laughs]

LILIT: But you also called it a protocol droid, so I don’t know what you were expecting. Kessek, what are you doing at this moment?

MINNA: Oh, I think she’s going to wait until the parade gets started to start moving, but I think she’s noticed the… HK is obviously not a protocol droid, right?

LILIT: Definitely not a protocol droid. I wouldn’t even make you roll for that, just as a bounty hunter assassin.

NICK: In the Knights of the Old Republic games you spend the first like four planets thinking that he’s just a weird protocol droid. [laughs]

LILIT: Yeah, you would be able to look at HK, they’re not even a protocol model. You would know that they can be used as a protocol droid stand-in, but they are most usually used for more nefarious purposes. So, a random HK model by themselves with no sentient being along with is a little suspicious to you.

MINNA: I think she’s kind of edging along the wall, just to get a closer look and maybe audio. I don’t know what the word I’m looking for is. [laughs] Get within earshot.

LILIT: There’s also a holo-radio playing in this café. There’s also a few holo-screens up on the walls behind the bar that are showing news coverage of the parade that should be starting any minute now. Since you are still in the café you don’t even have to roll for this. You notice that on the screens a scrolling banner appears that says Attention: Parade Delay.

MINNA: Hmm.

LILIT: When you listen in closer to the holo-radio — the holo-screens have been muted, so it’s just the visuals, no audio – but the radio does get a special announcement that the parade is being delayed for some amount of time, it hasn’t been disclosed yet, and it also has not been disclosed why the parade is being delayed.

MINNA: Hmm. I think Kessek’s gonna go investigate.

LILIT: You would be able to if you went outside. There are some café tables out on a little patio area. You could probably get closer to some of the stormtroopers and try to eavesdrop on them as well.

MINNA: Yes. Sounds good.

LILIT: So, go ahead and give me a Streetwise roll for that. I would say it would be average.

MINNA: That is just three successes.

LILIT: With three successes you are able to get one of the closest tables to these barricades. You’re even able to kind of scooch it a little bit closer without anyone noticing as well.

MINNA: Mm-hmm~

LILIT: You can hear that these stormtroopers are like:

LILIT (as stormtrooper1): Ugh, they’re changing the parade route this late? It’s supposed to start any minute. You can’t—ugh.

LILIT (as stormtrooper2): Well, it doesn’t matter. Captain says we gotta move the barricades again.

LILIT: They continue to chatter, and what you can gather is that they’re moving the parade route.

MINNA: Uh-huh.

LILIT: So, the stormtroopers start to gather up the barricades and load them into the back of a hovercraft, and you can hear them list a few street names, and you would know that it is being moved to a similar route but about two blocks over.

MINNA: She’s going to try to slip down an alleyway towards that location.

LILIT: That would be real easy to do. It’s a big city, no one’s going to care about someone walking down an alleyway, especially this early in the morning when it’s so busy, and even without the parade people who would be going to and from. So, let’s cut back to HK. You are now on the top of this apartment building. What are you doing?

NICK: HK has opened up one of those long, hard case briefcase looking things that you always see people put their break-down rifles in and is probably beeping to himself in binary as he screws in the barrel and attaches some of the sensors and puts a bipod on the front and with a loud ‘cachunk’ is putting the underslung repeating blaster on it and is setting up on the roof, probably just in time to notice all these stormtroopers getting ready to move.

LILIT: Yeah. Go ahead and give me an average Perception check.

NICK: Thank god I’m good at this. So, I got two successes, a triumph, and one threat.

LILIT: You can see that the stormtroopers are indeed taking down the barricades that they had been putting up. I will say, unless you have something specific you want with that triumph, I will say from your vantage point you can see that some of the hovercrafts that already have other barricades are driving over and stopping about two blocks from you, so you would assume that is where the new parade route will be.

NICK: I would love for there to be a good position to line up on the street up above.

LILIT: You can see that there is an apartment building very similar to the one you are currently on right next to the new parade route. I will say that it does look like there are a few more stormtroopers near the entrance to that building, though. That’ll be your threat.

NICK: Yeah, that’s fair. HK looks up, sees all that.

NICK (as HK): Reassessing.

NICK: Then gives a really mechanical sigh.

NICK (as HK): [sighs]

NICK: And starts taking the rifle back apart and putting it back away into the briefcase, and then the next thing we see is HK walking out of the front door of this apartment carrying this briefcase and heading through the alleys towards the next building.

LILIT: So Kessek, you have arrived to the new parade route and the stormtroopers are setting up the barriers. Do you want to find another business to sit in and wait at or would you like to change your plan?

MINNA: She’s kind of, like, now wandering along the new route, but I think she will find a new café, because it’s weird if she’s just wandering. Somebody will notice while they’re setting up barricades. She’ll sit on a patio this time I think.

LILIT: Yeah, it’s pretty easy to find a fairly similar café. With a good patio, you would be able to scope out how far down they’re putting up barricades, how many stormtroopers are out and about, that sort of preparation. Are you gonna continue waiting until the parade starts?

MINNA: Yeah, I do believe.

LILIT: And then HK, I’m assuming you are going to get up into a similar vantage point on the new apartment?

NICK: That’s the plan.

LILIT: Alright. The two of you both sort of have to just sit around for the next half hour while the stormtroopers continue to set up, announcements go out over the holo-radio, and all of the other people that were waiting for the parade kind of start to find their way over and are now lining up on the street, same as you, are just waiting for the parade to start.

[classical music begins]

After about 45 minutes of this, you begin to hear a band, and as you look farther down the road you can see that the parade has indeed started. A handful of these floats go by. They are covered in bright, colorful flowers. Some of them are passing things out to the crowd and attendants watching. Some of them are just smiling and waving. You start looking down, further down the road, and you can see something a little concerning to the two of you. The Moff’s float looks a little bit shimmery from where you two are, almost as if there was some sort of shield around it. How do you two react to that?

MINNA: [smiling] Hmm, somebody’s been alerted.

LILIT: So Kessek, how does this change your plans?

MINNA: Kessek I think is going to try and find a nice roof of her own.

NICK: Please make it the same roof.

NICK & MINNA: [simultaneously] Please.

MINNA: [laughs]

NICK: Have climbed up onto our roof.

LILIT: Would you say you would want a taller building that is not a skyscraper?

MINNA: Short, like one to two stories tops. I want to be able to get back to the ground very quickly. I just want to get up so I can, you know, do something from a distance.

LILIT: Most of the buildings in the area are one story. A few of the buildings are much taller, skyscrapers, and there is a three story apartment building.

MINNA: What if I go onto the one story building next to the three story apartment building? I think that’s where HK is, right?

LILIT: Yes. There is some sort of shop next to that building. It is one story, and it does look like it would be pretty easy to get to without anyone seeing you go up.

MINNA: Yeah, she’s gonna climb up there.

LILIT: HK, how does this new information change your plans?

NICK: So, this whole time I’ve been picturing HK as in a billboard, so like there’s one of those ads on top of this building, and it probably says like “Naboo-O’s” or something and HK’s sitting in one of the O’s of the advertisement. He clocks the shimmer with his rifle scope and sighs, again, and just sets the rifle aside and sits in the O of the advertisement with his arms crossed and is just waiting for the float to get closer. I have other ways to deal with this. This is fine. [laughs]

[classical music fades]

LILIT: As you are taking down and putting away your weapon, you look over and you see on the building next to you, which is a one story, that someone is there and they also look like they are setting up for something. Kessek, why don’t you describe what you look like?

MINNA: Kessek is a Trandoshan, so she is very large. She’s 2.03 meters tall, like 6’6”?

LILIT: Ooh!

MINNA: She is very scaly. She has sort of yellow-green skin with shades of orange and orange eyes, otherwise wearing very practical padded fighty clothes.

LILIT: Trandoshans are Bossk, the lizard man assassin that you see in Empire Strikes Back, if anyone is not familiar with that species.

MINNA: Big angry lizard.

LILIT: So, HK, how do you react to your new friend on the building next to you?

NICK: HK cocks his head from where he’s sitting and watches this interloper set up. HK’s made a couple of modifications since we saw him last, so he grabs his rifle, walks over to the edge of the building. He’s not crouching or trying to walk quietly or anything, everything he does is very matter of fact, and aims his wrist at the side of the building he’s standing on, and there’s a ‘cachunk’ as he shoots a grappling hook into it and then rappels down onto the one story building and is trying to just approach and have a conversation. He’s not trying to be particularly sneaky.

MINNA: [giggles]

[marching band music begins]

LILIT: As HK is rappelling down to the shorter building, a band goes by that is very loud and has a lot of percussion in it, so Kessek doesn’t hear a soft thud on the building.

NICK: But there are 76 trombones, right Lilit?

MINNA: [laughs]

LILIT: No!

MINNA: In the big parade?

LILIT: There are not 76 trombones. No.

NICK: 110 coronets

MINNA: Close behind?

[laughter]

LILIT: Anyways. You don’t hear when a droid lands on the same building. How far do you think HK gets before Kessek does notice?

NICK: Well, I just wanted to start a conversation from like two meters away.

MINNA: [laughs]

LILIT: [laughs] Okay, yeah, you can land.

NICK: Yeah. I’m not trying to attack Kessek right now. I’m just—

MINNA: [laughing] But Kessek will immediately attack you when you try to start this conversation, just letting you know.

NICK: [smiling] That’s fine. That’s fine.

MINNA: [laughs]

NICK: So, HK walks to within about two meters, now that I know I’m about to get wriggity-wrecked I’m like maybe I should stand further away, but it’s too late. HK stops within about two meters of Kessek and says:

NICK (as HK): Question: Whatcha doin’ there, buddy?

MINNA: [laughing] Kessek leaps to her feet and is immediately using the rifle she’s holding as a bludgeoning weapon.

LILIT & NICK: [laughs]

MINNA: Like, you’ve got it coming swinging towards your neck.

LILIT: This is a Cool check.

NICK: I don’t have any points in Cool, and I’m terrible at Presence, but that’s what it feels like to be. [chuckles]

LILIT: Kessek roll Vigilance, HK may roll Cool. Gonna split this.

NICK: Hey, guess who’s really good at Vigilance and not Cool. This guy.

LILIT: Ha.

[marching band music fades]

MINNA: That is four successes.

NICK: I got two successes and an advantage.

LILIT: Okay yeah. Kessek, you have the upper hand on this droid, and it sounds like that would be a Melee check.

MINNA: It would. Four successes and an advantage. [laughs]

LILIT: I think improvised weapon is…

MINNA: Let me look really quick… Oh, this isn’t the right book. So, that’s 6—Are there any additions for additional successes?

LILIT: Yes.

MINNA: So 6 plus 3, 9.

NICK: Ow!

LILIT: So 9 damage. Kessek gets you just right in the chest plate with the back of the rifle.

NICK: So, HK goes flying backwards, lands on his back, and skids for a while. His legs fly up in the air and then fall back down with a clang. It’s extremely dramatic, and the droid looks like he weighs a lot less than you were expecting. [laughs] The rifle that HK’s holding looks like a droid assassin rifle but also has multiple barrels underslung under it, and those start to spin up with a light whine, and HK stands to his feet in a way that for a biological creature would be impossible because there’s no lunging or anything, he just unfolds back to a standing position.

MINNA: [uneasily] Mm-hmm!

NICK (as HK): Placating Statement: Let’s not start anything we’re not intending to finish. We do not have the time.

MINNA (as Kessek): Who are you, and what are you doing here?

NICK (as HK): I am designation HK-67. My friends call me Hank. Who are you?

MINNA (as Kessek): That information is not important right now. What is important is that you just dropped down on me. What are you doing?

NICK (as HK): Look, I can understand being embarrassed, but it’s okay. I have a Moff to ventilate. It’s about time that I got around to killing some organics just like I wanted to, and I don’t want you getting in the way, so if you could go and do whatever you’re doing somewhere else… that would be phenomenal.

NICK: As HK starts talking you notice that he goes from being very stiff and droid-like to moving very organically and doing hand gestures and things, which is a very strange transition.

MINNA: Mm-hmm. I think her eyes narrow. She’s trying to figure out how much she can push this droid, because it’s probably very deadly.

MINNA (as Kessek): Well, that’s too bad for you, isn’t it? We’re both after the same target.

NICK (as HK): Kriff!

NICK: HK looks like loading screen or something.

MINNA (as Kessek): So if YOU get out of the way this will all be so much easier.

NICK (as HK): Alright sweetness, so here’s the deal.

MINNA: [squirms]

NICK (as HK): I’m not particularly interested in the money side of things. The problem is if I don’t charge money people are suspicious. It’s kind of like when you try to auction something off on Space Craigslist. If you say it’s free no one wants it, because they think something’s wrong with it, so my price tag is more a point of personal pride. I’m willing to let you take the credits if you let me kill this thing.

MINNA: I think there’s a moment of consideration.

MINNA (as Kessek): I need those credits, but how am I supposed to trust you to give them over?

NICK (as HK): Can we solve that later? The parade is going by right now. I think we’re already getting to the rows and rows of the finest virtuosos.

MINNA: [laughs]

NICK (as HK): After the copper bottom tympani in horse platoons goes by we’re going to miss our opportunity.

MINNA (as Kessek): I had a plan. You want in?

NICK (as HK): Sure.

MINNA (as Kessek): I was thinking of taking a potshot at one of the floats further ahead, draw some of the stormtroopers that way, use the cover of that distraction to physically go on to the Moff’s float.

NICK (as HK): I like this plan. I do have a theoretical question that I was contemplating when I came down here. Hypothetical Statement: Do you think that ray shield will stop a rocket?

MINNA: [laughing] Out of character, will it?!

LILIT: I’m going to say it’s more fun if the shield would let a propelled rocket in.

MINNA: [laughs]

MINNA (as Kessek): I’m not a shield expert, but that sounds correct.

NICK (as HK): Excellent. I would be happy to take down some innocent civilians as a distraction, and I believe I can disable the Moff’s float as well.

MINNA (as Kessek): Then we have a deal.

LILIT: Right about then, I’m gonna flip one of these dark side points.

MINNA: Ooh.

LILIT: You hear some stormtroopers climbing up the steps, and you can hear at least three. One of them is saying:

LILIT (as stormtrooper3): Yeah, yeah. If we go up here no one will see us taking a smoke break. It’ll be fine. I mean, ugh, what’s gonna happen if a few of us just take a break?

LILIT (as stormtrooper4): Okay, but as long as the captain doesn’t find out.

LILIT: And that’s right about when they open a door to the top of this and walk out and just see the two of you, guns out. One of them points up at you and goes:

LILIT (as stormtrooper3): Hey!

LILIT: We’re gonna roll for new initiative. I think this one’s gonna be Cool.

MINNA: One advantage.

NICK: A success and two advantages. HK is not a cool being.

LILIT: Yeah. It’s going to be PC slot, an NPC, PC, two NPCs. So, we got a PC slot first. Who wants to go?

MINNA: I feel like it’s funniest if Hank goes.

NICK: Oh, really? Do you think so?

MINNA: Like, while we’re still talking, just without turning, you kinda shoot one of them. [laughs]

[slow jazzy music begins]

NICK: Yeah~ As HK’s been talking to Kessek this whole time, the barrels have still been spinning on his gun, and as these stormtroopers go “hey,” without looking, he just points the rifle one-handed towards the doorway they come through and sprays a bunch of blaster bolts at them.

MINNA: [giggles]

LILIT: [laughs] Okay, roll for that.

NICK: Okay, now we’re doing things that I’m good at.

LILIT: They do have Defense 1 for ranged, so just one black die. I’ll say you’re at short range. This rooftop isn’t massively huge.

NICK: Okay. Well, it doesn’t matter because I have Cumbersome, so I get a difficulty added to short range shots anyway. [laughs]

LILIT: Aw.

NICK: I don’t know why I asked. I got four successes, an advantage, and a triumph. [laughs]

LILIT: Ooh.

NICK: The underslung blaster does 10, so 14 damage and a crit.

LILIT: Fourteen damage and a crit. Yep, you kill that first stormtrooper. Describe how you get this one.

NICK: There’s a spray of bullets that just trace from the ground up into the doorway and riddle one of them and knocks them back through the door, and the other two are struck dumfounded by this.

LILIT: You can hear the stormtrooper rolling down the steps, echoing in the staircase.

NICK: Since this was such overkill, can I use my triumph that there was a transformer box above the doorway that HK hits and it bursts in a shower of sparks and static and blows out their coms so they can’t report what’s going on?

LILIT: Ooh. Yes.

NICK: It’s not on purpose, but I’d rather be lucky than good.

MINNA: [laughs]

LILIT: You can have that, as a treat.

NICK: Yay. Then HK’s head turns around and he says:

NICK (as HK): Greetings. Hello.

LILIT: Great. Now it’s an NPC slot. The stormtroopers are up. This one is going to shoot at HK.

NICK: That’s okay, we don’t have to do that.

LILIT: Well this buddy got three failures but three advantages.

NICK: Honestly, that’s probably for the best, because I only have 7 health left after Kessek beat the shit out of me. [laughs]

MINNA: Sorry. [giggles]

LILIT: One of the stormtroopers aims at HK and fires a shot, but some of the sparks from the broken transformer get in front of their face mask and distract them, and they shoot wide. Then, we have another PC slot.

MINNA: Alright. I think I’m going to use my maneuver to—Is there any cover up here?

LILIT: No, it’s a pretty open base.

MINNA: Yeah, I’m just gonna aim then, and then I’m going to shoot one of them with my blaster rifle that I’m already holding. It’s a wash with a triumph, because I have one success, one failure and one triumph.

LILIT: The triumph comes with a success built into it, so you do get a triumph with the success, so you will get a hit.

MINNA: Nine damage.

LILIT: And that’s 9 damage… and you take out the second stormtrooper as well.

MINNA: Excellent.

LILIT: Yeah. You get them square in the chest and they go down.

MINNA: [giggles]

LILIT: We are back to another NPC slot, and there’s still one stormtrooper left. They are now going to take a shot at Kessek.

MINNA: Can I give them a black die with that triumph?

LILIT: You can, yes. They are now rolling with a black die. Oh wow, they rolled one advantage. They also shoot and they go wide and completely miss you. We are back to a PC slot.

NICK: Kessek, you can take it if you want.

MINNA: Yeah, I think I’m gonna use my maneuver to get into engaged range and I think still using the butt of this rifle going to hit them. I’m just better at hitting people with things than with blaster bolts.

LILIT: For this group, you’re gonna wanna put in a black die, because they do have Ranged and Melee.

MINNA: That is three successes and two advantages, so that’s 8 damage.

LILIT: So, with 8 damage, you have severely injured this stormtrooper but they are still up. Since it is now an NPC slot, they are going to return fire. I’m gonna flip another dark side point here to up their roll. Ooh boy, that will be 8 damage coming your way.

MINNA: Okay, so that’s actually 4 damage with Soak. Yep. HK, you’re up.

NICK: Okay. So, from the same arm that HK shot the grappling hook out of, you notice that forearm is a little bulkier, HK uses his maneuver to close to engaged as well and a stiletto blade pops out of his forearm above his hand and he’s just going to try to stab up under the helmet and into this stormtrooper’s head with his concealed vibro-blade.

MINNA: [small yelp]

NICK: Hey. Ask me how many points I have in Melee.

LILIT: How many points do you have in Melee?

NICK: None! [smiling] I gave him the gear but I haven’t leveled him up yet, so he’s not good at this. Ha-ha! One success and one advantage.

LILIT: So how much damage is that?

NICK: Three, plus my 2 Brawn is 5.

[slow jazzy music ends]

LILIT: That is the exact number of points you needed to take down this stormtrooper.

NICK: Oh good. Surgical precision.

LILIT: They had 1 wound left and they have a Soak of 4. Heh. With that, the last stormtrooper goes down, and you are left with two stormtrooper bodies up on this roof, the third is somewhere in the staircase, and a sparking transformer box.

NICK (as HK): Optimistic Statement: The plan seems to be going perfectly so far.

MINNA: [laughs] Perfect.

LILIT: [laughs] And that’s where we will cut for this episode.

## Outro

LILIT: Thanks for listening to Tabletop Squadron. If you’ve enjoyed our show, please consider logging into iTunes and giving us a review. Reviews and ratings help new listeners find the show and decide if it’s right for them. You can also help support the show through our Patreon at Patreon.com/TabletopSquadron. We have all sorts of Patreon levels including Tarkin’s Underwear Drawer which gives you access to the secret archive full of side adventures, bloopers, and more.

Kessek was played by Minna. She can be found on Twitter at @mynaminnarr.

HK was played by Nick Robertson. He can be found on Twitter at @alias58.

Your game master was me, Lilit Penrod. I can be found on Twitter at @cheerio_buffet.

Our intro song is Space Jam by Pablo Ribot.

Closing music performed by James Gunter.

Follow the podcast on Twitter and Instagram at @Tabletop_Squad, and join our Discord at bit.ly/TabletopDiscord. We have a great community and all sorts of topic channels. We hope you stop by. See you next time.

Word document download: Interstitials 1- Tink 2- Mynock Lake

PDF download: Interstitials 1- Tink 2- Mynock Lake

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Tabletop Squadron Transcript, Tink Interstitial 1, Part 2: Mynock Lake

Transcript by Tyler (Twitter: @Tyler_MoonSage)

## Intro

LILIT: Hello, and welcome to Tabletop Squadron, a Star Wars: Edge of the Empire actual play podcast. I’m Lilit, your MC for today. Every other Thursday, our story follows a thief, a bounty hunter, and a slicer as they explore the galaxy helping a mysterious benefactor and each other.

Except for today, where we follow a slicer as they explore the stage helping a prima donna dancer and themselves.

Music for today’s episode can be found in the show notes. Enjoy.

##

NICK: Hello! Welcome to Tabletop Squadron. I’m your host and game master, Nick. We’re back again for Part 2 of our ballet saving adventure? I always do this thing, I forget what I’m gonna, or I don’t realize what I’m gonna call it until we’re recording. Oh well. Uh, ballet adventure fun times go 2000 double plus premiere edition.

HUDSON: Yeah!

NICK: That’s the name of the episode.

AARON: It’s a good name. Yeah. It’s a great name.

NICK: Let’s go around the table and everybody introduce themselves and say what character they’re playing today, and if you have any plugs to do it’s a great time, starting with Hudson.

HUDSON: Hi. My name is Hudson, and I play Tink, a Gigoran slicer whose pronouns are he/him.

NICK: Nice. Wonderful. Next we got Aaron.

AARON: Hudson’s were so succinct and to the point, and here I am in my head trying to go over everything.

HUDSON: [laughs]

AARON: I’ve already doddled just in this explanation more than Hudson has introduced themselves.

NICK: [laughs]

HUDSON: I can plug if I need to plug, but…

AARON: I’m just saying, the heat is on. Hey everybody, I’m Aaron J. You can hit me up on Twitter at the handle @ImAaronJ, pretty easy to figure that out. I’m playing Azul, our favorite Mirialan dancer with a lightning bolt tattoo down their left arm. Super excited to be here. If you like what you hear, which I hope you do, check out my show UniCURSEity on iTunes and all of your favorite podcatchers. Just type in UniCURSEity wherever, shout it into the universe and it will come back to meet you, and yeah, I think that’s about it.

{EDIT: new handle, @TurboHoodie}

NICK: Well, but if you shout UniCURSEity into the universe you might end up versus the universe, right?

AARON: [smiling] How dare you.

HUDSON: Ohh…

NICK: [laughs]

AARON: How dare you. Very good. My company is named Versus the Universe. How dare you, Nick.

NICK: Yeah~ But yeah, I love UniCURSEity, I love what you’re doing with the Astound project, I think everybody who hears about it should definitely check it out. It is great.

AARON: Thank you, friend.

NICK: I want Season 2 real bad.

AARON: I want Season 2 as well, but self-isolation and social distancing has prohibited Season 2. [laughs] But hey, it’s on paper, we just need to do it.

NICK: Ehh, I don’t know… Fine. Good.

HUDSON & AARON: [laughs]

NICK: Alright. When we last left off, Tink had been sort of contracted by a, or scouted I guess, by a bar patron of mysterious origin to go and help a ballet company with a computer problem, was able to find that place pretty quickly, meet the premiere dancer for this ballet company, fix the lighting, but someone mysterious in the rafters dropped a sandbag towards the second dancer down on the stage, and they attempted to find this mysterious figure who vanished into the dark and basically decided to keep looking, and we’ll start right about there.

We will not do another Destiny Roll because this is kind of a one-shot setup, but as a reminder we are sitting on three dark side points right now, so fun for me, none for you until I decide otherwise. Ha-ha.

HUDSON: Mwahaha.

AARON: Wow, Nick really is a jerk. Can you believe this? Three dark side points?

NICK: It’s true.

HUDSON: yeah, worst GM ever.

AARON: Some Scooby Doo nonsense.

NICK: [laughs] And so, that’s where we are going to kick it off.

We open on the sun rising above the theater, the light of the sun filtering down. You’re 10 or 15 levels down in Coruscant, so there’s no direct sunlight, but it filters down and goes through the small drizzle of water that goes over the theater and through the flickering lights. We never decided what the theater is called. What should we call it?

AARON: The Catastrophe Dome.

NICK: [startled] Okay! Great! [laughs]

AARON: Catastro-Dome? I don’t know. It just sounds cool, right?

NICK: I like the Catastrophe Dome.

AARON: [softly, pondering] Catastro-Dome…

HUDSON: Catastrophe Dome works for me, because it’s like deeper artsy ironic or something.

AARON: Yeah, yeah, it’s called the Catastrophe Dome: Theater in the Ground.

[laughter]

HUDSON: Alright. Alright. I like that.

AARON: Yeah. We’re like 10 or 12 levels underground, right? So it makes sense.

NICK: Yeah. It’s 10 or 12 levels down from the top, because Coruscant is like all skyscrapers built insanely high, so you’re just not exposed to air, so yeah you’re basically underground. Theater in the Ground. I think the Catastrophe Dome was originally a theater built specifically for a show called Catastrophe. It was about large loth-cats singing about why they should be reborn, but that show failed horribly because it sounds terrible and is a really bad idea, so your ballet troop was able to pick it up for really cheap, which is how you got started here.

AARON: Perfect.

NICK: So, we go inside. This is the next morning. Did Tink and Azul search all night for clues or did they call it quits at some point and are they meeting up again?

HUDSON: I don’t think they went all night. I think they called it a night.

NICK: Okay. We see Tink walking into the theater and down the ramp. Would Azul be an early riser, Aaron, or coming in around the same time?

AARON: Oh, Azul has been there I think for an hour or two already, and when you come upon the actual stage Azul is there, towel at one side, water bottle on the other, and they’re just stretching now. They’re probably in a split and they’re extending their arms from one foot to the other just trying to get as limber as possible, because they know it’s gonna be a long, long day of detective work.

HUDSON: Tink comes in holding a drink carrier with two Spacebucks coffees tucked into it, and you meet by the stage.

AARON: Yeah. I think once Azul sees the Spacebucks coffee they immediately bound up and just run towards Tink, arms open.

AARON (as Azul): Ohh, best friend! Thank you. This is so good~ Getting my bean juice in the morning~

HUDSON (as Tink): Yeah, yeah~ Best friends ‘til the very end, yeah~

AARON: Azul looks at you, Tink.

AARON (as Azul): I know we did this last night, but… can I get back on my perch spot?

HUDSON (as Tink): Yes you can.

AARON: In one fell swoop, pliés and jumps off the ground and elegantly jumps on top of Tink’s back and is just now Yoda-ing on your shoulders with their Spacebucks drink.

NICK: How tall is Azul?

AARON: I think Azul is, let’s say like 6’2”, but it’s all muscle, it’s all tone, there’s probably not an ounce of fat on them, very, very slender.

HUDSON: So I start running around and going:

HUDSON (as Tink): Weeee!

NICK: [laughs] You’re having a grand old time, and the rest of the dance squad is starting to filter out on stage for the morning rehearsal. Azul obviously beat them all there, was getting all warmed up and ready, because she is a leader and must set a good example. One of the chorus dancers, a Kaminoan guy, is looking around confusedly as the rest of the group starts to show up.

NICK (as Kaminoan): Hey, uh, has anyone seen Selona? I haven’t seen Selona—I saw her come in, but she should be out by now.

AARON (as Azul): If Selona is late for call then we’re not gonna be able to rehearse anything today. Ugh, Tink, you wanna go off and find her or should we send somebody else?

HUDSON (as Tink): Yeah, I’ll go, I’ll go after her. The Twi’lek, right?

AARON (as Azul): Yeah, and you know, I just wanna make sure nobody’s alone right now.

AARON: Azul looks back at the rest of the dancers.

AARON (as Azul): Find a buddy or two. I don’t want anyone going anywhere solo right now. Tink has told me sometimes case solving takes like a moment, other times it takes all the way up until the time of the show, so until that show starts I want you buddied up with at least one or two people. Do you hear me?

NICK: A really burly Human says:

NICK (as Human): [vaguely Schwarzenegger sounding] We’ll be using the buddy system.

NICK: The Kaminoan says…

NICK (as Kaminoan): Well, I saw Selona go to her dressing room. Maybe she’s still in there.

NICK: …and starts to stretch, and watching a Kaminoan stretch is wild because they’ve got these long, graceful limbs and they’re very flexible and they also move very slowly like seaweed under water.

AARON: I think Azul peers down and looks Tink right in the eye.

AARON (as Azul): Well, you heard the Kaminoan. We should get to that dressing room, don’t you think?

HUDSON (as Tink): Yeah, we should. Wait, don’t you have to rehearse? No, you’re on investigative duty, aren’t you?

AARON (as Azul): I’m on investigative duty. That’s why I got here early. I rehearsed everything, I’m warmed up, I’m good to go. I just wanted to see if I could get a few reps in before we solved this thing. That’s why I got here early.

HUDSON (as Tink): Oh, I see. Alright.

HUDSON: Then Tink goes…

HUDSON (as Tink): Hup-hup!

HUDSON: …and then starts running, because—

AARON: Yes!

HUDSON: —I think they just saw that somewhere, like that phrasing or those noises, and just does that before they run.

AARON: Perfect.

NICK: Oh my gosh. We get Tink high-stepping it off the theater and backstage to where the dressing rooms are. It’s really interesting because Tink has a naturally light step, his feet make almost no sound on the ground, or his foot rather, because he’s still not used to his prosthetic leg, so you hear no noise and then clank, and then no noise and then clank, as he goes stepping off. You can tell Tink is extremely strong, because he is carrying Azul around like it’s nothing.

AARON (as Azul): Tink, you know, I gotta say I’m very impressed with your form right now. You have very beautiful lines. This is very elegant, I mean even with the robo-leg you have here. Have you ever thought about taking up dance?

HUDSON (as Tink): [delighted] Yes! I absolutely have.

AARON (as Azul): Oh my goodness. Do you want to dance? Like, I can teach you dance. Do you wanna dance? We can make this happen.

HUDSON: I start dancing.

NICK: [laughs]

AARON (as Azul): Oh my goodness. Oh my damn. Tink, this is good. You have a good flow. Wow, look at you.

HUDSON (as Tink): yeah, I’ve been told that before, like by my doctor and by other people.

AARON (as Azul): Wow, no, we should definitely capitalize on this. I think we can get you a blue jacket. We can get you some of the shoes. Even if you wanna stand in the back and be a hype man, we would love to incorporate you into the show. I think this could be really, really great.

HUDSON (as Tink): This could be my future.

AARON (as Azul): It really could. It really, really could. Just to let you know, there’s very little job security in theater, but we would love to have you.

HUDSON: [chuckles]

NICK: As you’re talking about Tink’s budding dance career, you get to the dressing room of Selona the… I think she’s like the dance co-captain.

AARON: [hesitantly] Yeah.

NICK: Like, Azul is the dance captain, Selona’s the co-captain.

AARON: Selona’s like the second.

NICK: Yeah, but lobbied real hard with Madam Zostra for the phrase “co-captain,” so even though it’s the second one it’s a whole thing. The nameplate has multiple stickers on it changing what the title is. Most of these rooms are a little rundown, the doors are worn, this isn’t a new theater. Selona’s room has pastel flowers painted on it, like she decorated it herself to try to make it look nicer.

AARON: As we approach the door, Azul just says:

AARON (as Azul): Ugh, these colors, the pastels, it just doesn’t jive with the squad and I’ve been telling her that forever. Sorry, it just steams me.

HUDSON (as Tink): I can totally see that. These colors just don’t run together.

AARON (as Azul): Right? No, they just—Ugh. It doesn’t- It clashes. It feels like I’m putting chocolate ice cream next to concrete. I don’t like it. Ick.

NICK: So, you’re talking about the door, and do you try to go in?

HUDSON: I knock.

NICK: You knock? Okay. There’s no answer.

HUDSON: I knock harder.

NICK: I’m going to flip a dark side point. There’s one light side and two dark side. As you try to knock harder you punch through the door. It was kind of rotted and you just smashed the door, so there’s a face-sized hole in the door where your hand was.

HUDSON: [quiet strained and confused noises]

AARON: Azul places their face into that face-sized hole.

AARON (as Azul): Heeere’s Azul~

NICK & HUDSON: [laughs]

AARON (as Azul): Selona, you in here? Selona? Selona?! Ugh.

NICK: You do not see Selona in the room from where you’re looking. You do—Actually, roll me a Perception check.

AARON: Perception check~ I’ve got, heh, it looks like Samus Aran’s helmet. It’s like an upside-down triangle and then the advantage thing.

NICK: You got an upside-down triangle and the advantage thing, so you got a failure with one advantage. So, one of the more interesting parts of this game is you do not succeed in seeing anything related to where Selona is, but you do see something else that is helpful. What do you think that is?

AARON: [pondering] What do I see that is helpful in this dressing room…? Oh, okay, so the thing that I see that’s helpful is, I’m gonna try to humanize Selona a little bit. The thing that I see that is helpful is there’s a breathing humidifier that is on her dressing room table essentially, and I think that’s something that is given to people that are having issues with allergies, and that’s typically something that helps people breathe, it helps people remain a bit calmer, and at that moment Azul just says:

AARON (as Azul): Oh! If I would have known. I didn’t know that they were having allergies. That’s gonna affect anyone’s performance. This makes total sense. I feel kinda bad that they didn’t come to be with the information, but… oh well, I guess it is what it is.

NICK: So, you have taken away from this that Selona is a private person with allergies and slight breathing issues.

AARON: This is the most important piece of information by far I think. [laughs]

NICK: yeah, obviously. [laughs]

HUDSON (as Tink): Is it a clue, though?

HUDSON: I go over to the humidifier and check for fingerprints.

AARON: [laughs]

NICK: Okay, so are you opening the door?

HUDSON: Yeah.

AARON: I like to imagine that Azul’s face is still in that face hole, so when you open the door I kinda swing forward with it.

HUDSON: [laughs]

AARON (as Azul): Whoa~

NICK: We’ll say with the fact that you punched through the door, it’s locked, but you just kinda grab the handle and jolt and it springs out of the doorframe. There’s not a lot of resistance. I mean, it’s a dressing room, they’re not expecting to need to keep people out, it’s just the lock is to show hey, there’s someone in here, be polite. You know? You crack the door open, and with the door open as you walk in you see that this room has been turned over. There’s an obvious sign of a struggle, something has happened here, and Selona is nowhere to be found.

AARON (as Azul): Ugh, I can’t believe she keeps her dressing room this messy. This is… ugh. I understand allergies, but this is something entirely different.

HUDSON (as Tink): Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I mean, I’ve gone through messy periods. Maybe it’s something personal in their life. They’re a reserved person, right, you were kind of implying?

AARON (as Azul): Yeah, they don’t really talk a whole lot, but I’m looking at the feng shui of the clothes on the ground and what I’m getting from this is anxiety, what I’m getting from this is a sad temperament, I feel a weird energy coming off of this. We definitely need to get them a massage or something. That would clear all this up.

HUDSON (as Tink): Yeah, I smell lavender, but that’s probably the… the soap, from the clothes.

AARON (as Azul): Ooh, lavender. Nice.

NICK: Tink, you wanna roll me a Perception check on this room?

HUDSON: Sure. I thought you were gonna say on the lavender clothes for a clue, but I’ll just do what you’re saying.

NICK: Oh.

AARON: [laughs]

HUDSON: I have a triumph plus a success.

NICK: Nice. So, with a success, there was clearly a physical struggle here. Selona must have been kidnapped by someone.

HUDSON: Hmm.

NICK: With the triumph, I’ll let you skip the next bit of investigation if you want. As you’re looking around you see that there’s more of those pastel flowers painted around the dressing room mirror, and one of them looks to be, like, it doesn’t match. It looks like it’s at a weird angle and the petals are different. As you go over to it you see that it’s not painted on the wall, it’s painted on something else, and you twist it and the mirror and that section of the wall pops away and you see a secret tunnel going back deeper into the theater.

HUDSON (as Tink): Ooh. Do you see this?

AARON: Azul’s behind you, still looking at the mess on the ground, and I think has just continued talking about how messy everything is and doesn’t notice that any of this is happening.

HUDSON (as Tink): Hey, uh, Azul, there’s a… You should turn around.

AARON (as Azul): I don’t even know if I can. Is it worse on that side of the room?

HUDSON (as Tink): You know, no, but it’s more interesting.

AARON (as Azul): Oh, okay, let’s see…

AARON: As they turn around they’re just like:

AARON (as Azul): Alright, what—Oh! Wow! Look at that.

HUDSON (as Tink): I know, and you know what, this really begs the question. If a door can be that shitty but then this can be built, they must have had two different sets of contractors.

AARON: Yeah, and I think as you say that she walks over to Selona’s chair, which is this nice, fancy chair.

AARON (as Azul): Yeah, I mean, this chair is really nice, it’s super dope. That door is not great at all, but this is a comfy chair! Oh, and there’s also a doorway. Where did that come from?

HUDSON (as Tink): Do you wanna take the chair?

AARON (as Azul): I kinda do. Should I…? Do you just wanna like wheel me in the chair down this thing?

HUDSON (as Tink): Yeah, I think that would actually speed things up, be a little safer, and it could be doubled as a weapon.

AARON (as Azul): Yeah, and you know, I just wanna keep off my legs, wanna keep everything good for the performances later.

HUDSON (as Tink): Alright, I’ll push you.

AARON (as Azul): Nice. Thanks bud.

HUDSON (as Tink): You got it.

NICK: [laughs] So, the next scene we see is cobblestones on the ground, walls, and ceiling of this corridor that seems to go deeper and deeper into the theater. With your understanding of the way the theater is, Azul, this is not… it’s all in one big building, like the theater is built into the side of another building, you are out of the realm of the theater. You are going deeper into this giant skyscraper that rises up from the depths of Coruscant. It’s also really weird that there’s cobblestones, because this is still a space building, but you know, whatever.

HUDSON: And it’s probably loud as hell, because we’re in a rolly-chair basically going over cobblestone.

AARON: [laughs]

NICK: If you’ve ever rattled caster wheels on a wooden cart or something over cobblestones it’s super rattle clacky and stuff, it’s very (jagged rattle sounds) as you go. Are you all—I was gonna ask if you’re moving stealthily, clearly not. Are you moving quickly or at a comfortable pace?

AARON: Oh, I don’t think anything about this is comfortable. [laughs]

HUDSON: [laughs] I think we’re moving quickly.

NICK: Okay, so we see Azul holding onto the arms of this comfortable chair, leaning back to keep their balance, and y’all are just running down the corridor like (jagged rattle sounds), and you come out of the end of this corridor and standing in front of you, you see a man.

[tense music begins]

He is wearing a full-faced white mask and leather biker clothes, and the biker clothes are all studded with different data breakers and data pads and slicing kits and data spikes, so he’s just covered in bits and pieces of glowing blue screens and technology, and he has a long, black cape on as well.

NICK (as masked man): [deep voice, with reverb] Welcome…

HUDSON (as Tink): Welcome to what?

NICK (as masked man): …to my labyrinth.

AARON (as Azul): Oh, you know, this explains a lot. We’ve been having trouble heating the dressing rooms, but we’re probably losing all this heat to this catacomb type area. This explains an awful lot. Okay.

HUDSON (as Tink): Well, it doesn’t explain the person who is in front of us though. Honestly? You just look like you’re holo-net incarnate. You’re wearing a white mask to hide your identity, you got the cape, you just have data breakers to show off all over your body. Are you insecure?

AARON (as Azul): You know what, I kinda wanna take a bet. Tink, you wanna bet he’s insecure?

NICK (as masked man): I don’t think my security is relevant in this situation.

[tense music switches to happy, quirky game menu music]

HUDSON (as Tink): Hey, hey, we’re taking a bet. Shh.

AARON (as Azul): Okay, yeah, yeah. Alright, alright. Hey Tink, you want some heat? You want some heat here? I bet this guy’s insecure. What do you think?

HUDSON (as Tink): Ooh, ooh, I think… You know what, I think he’s not, and I think there’s a way we can find out, so uh, let’s do that.

AARON (as Azul): Alright cool. I mean, he’s all computers. Do you wanna take it or should I?

HUDSON (as Tink): I’ll take it.

AARON (as Azul): Alright cool.

HUDSON (as Tink): So um, how do you feel about your mother?

AARON (as Azul): Oh, good, good.

[quirky music ends]

NICK: Oh my gosh. You gotta roll some sort of check.

HUDSON: [laughs]

NICK: What is mental combat do we think?

AARON: [laughs]

NICK: I wanna say Education?

HUDSON: [laughing] Okay, I’ll do Education. Okay, one success, two advantages.

NICK: The dramatic gesture of this man falls a little and he tilts his head to the side.

NICK (as masked man): Why are you asking about my mother like that? She wouldn’t approve. Well, she didn’t approve of a lot, especially not me, but that’s not important. You have come to my labyrinth—

HUDSON (as Tink): Alright, I guess you win the bet. Ugh.

AARON (as Azul): Okay. Actually, can I take a crack at this guy?

HUDSON (as Tink): I mean, yeah, he’s already cracking a little bit. I can tell. Go ahead.

NICK (as masked man): I am not cracking! I am the master of my own fate!

AARON (as Azul): I’m so sorry. I feel bad addressing you if I don’t know your name. Can I have your name, sir, miss?

NICK (as masked man): It is sir, for I am the Technophantom of the Ballet!

AARON (as Azul): Oh wow, that’s such a great title. Is that a title or is that your actual given name?

NICK (as Phantom): It’s what you can call me, for I am dramatic and mysterious.

NICK: He’s gesturing like a stage magician right now.

AARON (as Azul): This is fantastic. It’s great to meet you. My name’s Azul. This is my friend Tink. Tink, wave. Hi.

HUDSON (as Tink): Hello~

AARON (as Azul): Hi. Mr. Phantom, I just have a question, because it seems like it’s gotta be awfully lonely down here. Are you lonely?

NICK (as Phantom): Mwahaha. Not anymore, having kidnapped the star of the ballet for my own dastardly ends.

AARON (as Azul): Oh, and what are your dastardly ends?

NICK (as Phantom): The ballet will perform my ballet.

AARON (as Azul): Ah.

NICK (as Phantom): The true ballet!

HUDSON (as Tink): [gasps] Called it! Called it! Called it! Okay, sorry, go ahead.

AARON (as Azul): Yeah, you did, Tink, you did.

NICK: [laughs]

AARON (as Azul): I just have one more question for you, Mr. Phantom. If you could change one thing about you, what would it be?

NICK (as Phantom): You know, I really think it’s that I work too hard, like I care too much.

AARON (as Azul): Yeah? Ohh.

NICK (as Phantom): And sometimes that, while it benefits the people that I’m with and everything that I do, it can be rough on me, so I know that’s something that I really challenge my leaders to just kinda keep me honest with that and make sure I take some time for myself.

AARON (as Azul): Yeah. Okay.

NICK: He looks stunned for a second even though he’s wearing this white play mask, just shocked that he’s had this moment.

[laughter]

NICK (as Phantom): But you will never get the principle ballerina of the theater back again without acceding to my demands.

AARON (as Azul): Okay, well, two things about that. One, I’m the premiere ballist for this squad, and two, you know, I would feel bad if I didn’t try to help you. You just wanna do some breathing exercises with me real quick? I think that might help you out.

NICK: [laughing] He looks like he doesn’t know how to respond to that.

HUDSON: [laughs]

AARON: While this is happening, Azul I think shoots a look over at Tink and then motions with their hand to go ahead.

HUDSON: I do a sideways summersault, while Azul is still in the chair, push the chair as hard as I can towards the phantom.

NICK: [pauses] Cool.

AARON: [laughs]

NICK: Let’s say you can make a Melee attack using Azul as the weapon, because we’ve done that before.

[laughter]

HUDSON: Six successes.

NICK: Wow! Okay.

[action music begins]

So, I’m picturing when you see an acrobat do a summersault without using their hands, so I’m picturing like, Tink, you do this cool sideways jump flip and then do a straight armed punch to send Azul flying towards the Technophantom of the Ballet, and Azul, right as you’re about to hit them, you’re prepared for this attack, you smash into some sort of invisible barrier that shatters [shattering glass sound] sending broken transparesteel everywhere, and you find yourself looking down this reflective hallway, and you hear a voice reverberating through the area.

NICK (as Phantom): The Technophantom of the Ballet is inside your mind. Welcome to my labyrinth of mirrors~!

AARON: I think immediately Azul looks up to see if they can find a place where the mirrors end.

NICK: They appear to go to the ceiling, but the ceiling is not reflective.

AARON: Got it.

HUDSON: So it’s like a funhouse.

NICK: Yeah, it’s a funhouse hall of mirrors that this person has constructed in the basement of your theater.

[laughter]

HUDSON: Okay.

NICK: So you all are going to have to figure out how to get through here. What is your plan?

[action music ends]

HUDSON: I break a mirror.

NICK: [laughs]

AARON: yeah, yeah, I was gonna say. I think Tink smashes that first mirror, but then, before going in, Azul just says:

AARON (as Azul): Hold up. I work with that super pristine, clear door every day I walk in here. I can tell the difference between a mirror and what’s actually in front of me. So, you know, maybe just get behind me. I think I can handle this.

HUDSON (as Tink): Alright, I trust you.

NICK: Roll me a Perception check.

AARON: Alright, Perception is Cunning which is 1, plus one little bubble, so that’s gonna be what?

NICK: One yellow, and this is hard so three purple.

AARON: Okay, it looks like I have one pow and two hexagons.

NICK: Oh wow! You succeed, actually.

HUDSON: [laughs]

AARON: Hell yeah!

NICK: Good for you.

AARON: [laughs]

NICK: Tink sets one of his big, strong hands on your shoulder and you’re able to walk, but you almost run face-first into a mirror and then you stop. “No, you can tell because my breath fogged the air, and then also I can see my own face.” You are able to make your way through this labyrinth fairly smoothly. With those threats though, as you are walking, it takes probably about an hour to get through this maze with this method. You do notice that from the mirrors that shattered there is a ton of broken glass on the ground, and Tink doesn’t wear shoes and you’re wearing your dance shoes, and that could have been pretty dangerous, so you’re glad you didn’t smash through all of them. You might have gotten hurt.

AARON: I’m just jeté-ing over all the broken shards of glass, for sure.

NICK: [laughs] You get to the end of this maze and you feel this light twang, like you kicked through a string, because you were so focused on the mirrors you weren’t really looking down. I need you to make me a Coordination check.

AARON: That’s four yellows and one purple?

NICK: Three yellows and one green versus two purple, but you have two black dice as well because you are surprised.

AARON: Alright, roll… Okay, so I’ve got two pows, I’ve got a circle that looks like it has a lightsaber and a pow in it, and three hexagons.

NICK: You have two successes, a triumph, and three threats. You kick through this tripwire and a series of large darts come flying out of the wall. You are able to dodge them, pretty dramatically. Describe how you do that.

[measured, contemplative music begins]

AARON: Oh, for sure. When I kick the tripwire I think immediately everything in Azul’s mind starts to slow down. They can see the series of traps start to encroach upon them, and in their head I just picture like a metronome, and they can picture the music of this situation occurring to them. As they are deftly stepping through and over and avoiding all these different traps they’re just counting out in their head, one and two and three, and one and two and leap, and one and two and stretch, and one and two and go! And they come out unscathed, I hope.

[contemplative music ends]

NICK: Yeah, they do. That’s dope as hell. You are able to dodge these darts. Tink is left just watching this performance, although at this point probably Tink’s pretty used to the fact that gravity just doesn’t seem to apply to you the same way it does for other people, so…

AARON: [laughs]

HUDSON: Yeah. Yeah.

NICK: he may just be getting acclimatized to it. As you do your last jeté out of the way of these darts, because it turns out to be more than just three, it’s a hallway full of them that you dodge, you land and the ground shifts under you. It doesn’t collapse or anything, but you do lose your balance and rather than turn an ankle or anything you fall, and you fall prone, [dramatic bass noise] because that’s your three threats, so you fall down.

AARON: [laughs] Aw.

NICK: But you do have a triumph. It doesn’t have to be related to dodging these darts. If you want something really good to happen now’s a good time.

AARON: I’m gonna say that when I fall prone I definitely am hurt a little bit, but falling prone was actually a good thing because a series of darts shoot out that just narrowly miss me and if I was standing in any way, shape, or form they would have clipped me right at the ankles and that’s the most valuable part of a dancer’s body. So, falling prone was actually a pretty good thing for me.

NICK: Essentially you use your triumph to kinda salve your self-confidence almost.

AARON: Yeah. I think when that’s done I turn over and just go:

AARON (as Azul): That’s entirely what I intended and perfectly worked out.

HUDSON (as Tink): Oh yeah, I can see that.

NICK: So, you help up Azul, Tink, and the two of you continue onward. You can tell that this phantom spent a majority of his time making this maze, because there’s not a lot else here. There’s no longer cobblestones, it’s just a concrete floor, saw board walls kind of hallway with just industrial lighting. It’s almost like you came out not in the entrance that the “visitors” would be, you walked to the maintenance side and are just walking through.

HUDSON: [laughs]

NICK: You can see through some windows some more traps with pendulum blades and stuff, but you’re not on that corridor, you came out of a different door, so you keep going. You pop out into this large room. It looks like one of those rooms where they do perspective painting on the walls to make it look bigger. It’s probably about the size of half of a high school gym, but it looks like it’s supposed to be like a football field size. It’s got more of those cobblestones on the ground, but there’s just enough cobblestones to give texture and then the rest of it’s all painted and spray-painted to look like it. It looks like stage decoration.

AARON: I think along the way Azul has been checking in with Tink to make sure they’re not hurt, but as we come upon this room they remark that:

AARON (as Azul): Huh, it seems like the budget kind of ran out here. We had cobblestones, we didn’t have cobblestones, and now this room is kind of getting dicey with the decoration. I don’t know, I think maybe this guy just needs a sponsor or something. Clearly he’s got passion, but there’s just no audience here for him.

HUDSON (as Tink): Speaking of dicey, you wanna roll some dice to see if this is gonna get better or worse? Like, the whole situation, what do you think is gonna happen here? You wanna bet?

AARON (as Azul): You trying to bring some heat?

HUDSON (as Tink): Yeah. Yeah.

AARON (as Azul): Are you asking me if I wanna bet? Of course I wanna bet. You wanna bet? I wanna bet right now.

HUDSON (as Tink): Alright, so I think things are gonna turn out A’OK.

AARON (as Azul): I think we’re gonna get in a spot of bother. I don’t think we’re done. I think there’s gonna be at least one more trap.

HUDSON (as Tink): Alright, I’ll take you up on that.

AARON (as Azul): Alright. What do you wanna bet?

HUDSON (as Tink): Ooh.

HUDSON: I look down at my leg again.

NICK: [laughs]

AARON (as Azul): I’m gonna get that leg. I’m gonna get that damn leg.

HUDSON (as Tink): Okay, see… I just really need it, though. Let’s bet… I’ll bet you a coupon book that I’ll home make whenever I got back to my place, and it’s gonna have different things like take you out to dinner, and you use the coupon and I gotta take you out to dinner, things like that.

AARON (as Azul): Okay. Alright. If I’m right, I will give you one half day where I do all of your errands and I get your groceries and I clean your place.

HUDSON (as Tink): Alright.

AARON (as Azul): Alright, sounds good. Shake on it?

HUDSON (as Tink): Shake on it.

NICK: Okay. You walk out into this room and you can see, right next to where you come out, you can see a cage that looks like it’s made out of PVC pipe and bound with bungee cords. It’s not super nice, but it’s all been spray-painted black, and Selona is in there sitting on the ground looking like she’s kind of nodded off, and ahead of you, facing away from you, you can see the black caped figure of the phantom staring towards the far side of the room.

HUDSON: Ooh.

AARON (as Azul): Alright. This definitely has one more trap vibes about it. I’m just gonna lay that out here.

HUDSON (as Tink): Hmm, we’ll see it when we see it.

AARON (as Azul): I mean, do you just wanna walk up and get Selona and leave? I’m pretty sure he’s gonna make us do something.

HUDSON (as Tink): You know… Ugh.

HUDSON: I wanna roll Perception to see if I can find the play that they’re talking about that got rejected.

NICK: Okay.

AARON: [chuckles]

NICK: Yeah. Roll me Perception. This one’s going to be hard. Would you like to flip a light side point to upgrade it?

HUDSON: Yes I would.

NICK: Okie-dokie.

HUDSON: Two successes and two threats.

NICK: Huh. Okay. You actually do see what looks like a manuscript. I don’t actually have any idea how ballets are notated. I know that there’s like a novella and then the choreography and the music, but this is like a big old manuscript that says like The Technophantom of the Ballet in big letters and it’s sitting on the music stand of an organ, but it’s an electric organ so it’s really small, it just has a big keyboard on it and it’s sitting there.

AARON: [laughs]

NICK: The threats are that the organ is on the far side of the room, so the technophantom is between you and this ballet.

HUDSON (as Tink): Hey Phantom.

NICK: He jumps like four meters in the air.

[laughter]

NICK (as Phantom): Gah~!

NICK: Like whips around to look at you.

NICK (as Phantom): Welcome to my la—How did you get over there? You’re supposed to come through this door.

HUDSON (as Tink): Oh… You should have done the reverse there.

NICK (as Phantom): I can’t believe you took the service entrance. You’re supposed to go through the maze and then get frustrated and break some of the glass and it filters you towards the rest of the traps. Did you all actually solve the maze? Only I can do that.

AARON (as Azul): Oh. Were we not supposed to solve it? We did break one mirror. Is that fine? Do you need us to go clean it up?

NICK (as Phantom): I mean… broken glass is pretty dangerous, I would prefer that you clean it up, but…

HUDSON (as Tink): It will happen.

NICK (as Phantom): Great.

AARON (as Azul): Yeah. Yeah.

NICK (as Phantom): But, anyway. [huffs] Ruined the…

HUDSON (as Tink): I’m sorry we ruined it. I just—

AARON (as Azul): Yeah.

HUDSON (as Tink): Okay, so here’s the thing. I was thinking about what you said, and you know, I think that people just need to maybe give you a chance on your ballet, on your manuscript there. Could I check it out maybe?

AARON (as Azul): Oh, we should definitely read through it. I don’t want to do anything without reading the script. I need to evaluate it, you know.

NICK: The phantom almost pushes the mask up on his face and then stops and brings his hands down.

NICK (as Phantom): Well, of course, you have come to admire my genius. It is there on the organ. Take a look.

AARON (as Azul): Oh, well, hold on. Hold on. I definitely have notes, alright. Phantom, let’s get clear on this. I haven’t read the material yet, but you know, there could be promise. I think, you’re, you know… Let’s just read through it.

NICK (as Phantom): How do you have notes? You haven’t even read it yet.

AARON (as Azul): Oh, I have notes in this whole production here. It’s all about showmanship. It’s about the presentation. I mean, the reveal from the dressing room to the maze was exquisite, it’s fantastic, but we gotta talk about your set design here. It really looks like you pulled some punches.

NICK (as Phantom): Well, I’m working with a limited budget.

HUDSON (as Tink): Azul has notes on like every person. People call it, like, judgmental. I think it’s just being proactive.

AARON: [laughs]

AARON (as Azul): Mr. Phantom, can you give us a few minutes just to take a look at the treatment here? Do you need us for anything else?

NICK (as Phantom): Yes, yes, of course. Why don’t you sit down at the bench. There’s an organ if you want to hear what the composition sounds like…

AARON (as Azul): Oh, absolutely. I need to hear the music. Would you be so glad to do that?

NICK (as Phantom): Oh, I don’t, I don’t know… I just play enough to compose.

AARON (as Azul): Oh, come on, this is a thick script. I’m sure you can tickle the old ivories there and show us what it’s all about.

HUDSON (as Tink): Right there, those are some organ hands if I’ve ever seen them.

AARON (as Azul): Yeah, you can tell, you can tell. Big knuckles.

NICK (as Phantom): These hands have held an organ from time to time… I mean, I’ve played music with them before.

HUDSON (as Tink): Ha.

NICK: Yeah, so he sits down at the organ and says…

NICK (as Phantom): Well, if you turn to Page 4 that’s past the Dramatis personae, and… we’ll start there.

AARON (as Azul): Okay. Alright.

NICK: …and he lays out a very thick chord. What I’m gonna say is, you go through as much of this as you can stand.

AARON: [laughs]

[gentle music begins]

NICK: The choreography is okay. It’s very obvious that this guy isn’t a dancer. The music is… okay. The story is interesting. Like, it’s something that people wouldn’t normally make in a ballet, because it’s the kind of story of someone who’s down on their luck and decides to help a ballet theater by composing them a show for free in exchange for his fame and that he’s rewarded for his efforts with being promoted and owning the theater and how he goes on to a huge rise of success. The challenge part at the beginning is very small. The rest of it seems to just be about how cool the person who’s helped this theater is. It’s a show you could do. Honestly, the show that you’re doing has amazing choreography but the story isn’t particularly interesting because that wasn’t the focus, so you know, pros and cons. It’s not the best thing you’ve ever heard.

HUDSON: Tink turns to the phantom.

HUDSON (as Tink): I’m intrigued. You know, I’m an up and coming ballist myself…

AARON (as Azul): Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

HUDSON (as Tink): …and I’ve been looking for something, just something that touches me on a different level, to be my first ballet. Honestly, I think I could do it as a solo, or as a double with Azul, if you’re into it, Azul.

AARON (as Azul): Honestly, I read this script and I don’t think, honestly, phantom? Can I just be frank with you right now? I read this script and I don’t see a ballet. I read this script and I see a play with dance.

HUDSON (as Tink): Ah, you’re right.

AARON (as Azul): Ugh. Yeah, you know? I mean, it’s all there on the page. It’s written out there in black and white. I notice that this main character seems a little bit like someone I know. Do you know who that is?

NICK (as Phantom): Who do you think it is?

AARON (as Azul): Phantom, I think it’s you. I think it’s you, man.

HUDSON: I gasp.

AARON (as Azul): I know! I know.

NICK: [laughs]

AARON (as Azul): Here’s what I wanna do. Here’s what I wanna do. Okay? We have Tink. Tink, very up and coming dancer. Tink’s fantastic. I think honestly what I wanna do here is direct it. I really wanna choreograph it, I wanna direct it, and we have Selona over there. Selona’s fantastic, she’s got some allergies, yes, but we can work through that. The cobblestone is gonna be a little bit difficult to dance on, but I think we put this together. What do you say?

NICK (as Phantom): You’ll perform it for the show to save the theater in two days?

AARON (as Azul): Oh, okay, alright. So, here’s the thing, here’s the thing. I don’t wanna perform this unless I can see what it looks like. I’m not gonna make any promises right now. We can try a run-through this afternoon, but I don’t wanna commit to anything until I put this together. Does that make sense?

NICK (as Phantom): Yes, that makes sense.

AARON (as Azul): Okay. Alright. Alright.

HUDSON (as Tink): That’s more than fair to me.

AARON (as Azul): You know, I really think so. I really think so. If we put this up in the theater people are gonna be SAG eligible. I just wanna make sure we’re putting our best foot forward, I wanna rehearse it, and I think Selona and Tink are gonna be the best people to bring this to life, especially with me in the director’s chair. You can definitely give us notes, you can give us new pages whenever you’d like, but I would like to retain some creative control over this.

NICK (as Phantom): SAG, you mean the Space Actors Guild.

HUDSON (as Tink): Ahh.

AARON (as Azul): Yes, of course, of course.

NICK: [laughs] He is kind of wringing at his wrists and his hands.

NICK (as Phantom): Well, if you wanna give it a shot I think it’ll surprise you.

AARON: [laughs]

NICK (as Phantom): I know there’s some notes here, but really it comes together when you see it actually done. So yeah, if you’re going to perform the show then there’s no reason to kill you and then convince Selona to perform the show. This is amazing.

AARON (as Azul): Oh… Oh my goodness. Ugh, I really wish you didn’t say that. you were gonna kill us?

NICK (as Phantom): Well, I was going to fight you until you agreed with me I guess is a better way to put it.

AARON (as Azul): Ugh. That’s the thing about ballet, it’s not a fight, it’s a conversation. Right now you’re fighting, you’re trying to pummel us, and right now we’re trying to dance with you, we’re trying to make some music. This is jazz!

HUDSON (as Tink): Well, it’s a ballet—Okay, it could be jazz.

AARON (as Azul): Yeah. Yeah.

HUDSON (as Tink): You know what? It’s everything.

AARON (as Azul): It’s modern. It’s space modern.

HUDSON (as Tink): Yeah.

NICK: [laughs]

HUDSON: I turn my head very slowly to Azul and I just say, almost under my breath but loud enough that Azul can hear it:

HUDSON (as Tink): I won the bet.

AARON: [laughs]

AARON (as Azul): [laughs, seethes, playful angry noises] No, no, Tink, I think the last obstacle is making this material work. I think that’s the obstacle.

HUDSON (as Tink): Aw man, that is one way to look at it. If I learned anything about the arts today, you could look at anything however you want.

AARON: [laughs]

NICK: [laughs] I’m gonna flip a dark side point and say that Selona wakes up and sees you all sitting there, talking over the organ.

NICK (as Selona): What are you doing? This asshole kidnapped me and said that I could not leave until I perform his stupid show.

AARON: I think Azul just shoots Selona a look.

AARON (as Azul): [softly] Quiet. We almost have this. Please, shut up.

NICK: Selona just glares back at you and pulls the bars of the cage apart, because they’re PVC, and walks out and comes over to you.

[laughter]

NICK (as Selona): Look at the third act. There’s no drama. It’s just about how great the main character is. Who would ever dance this?

NICK: And glares at the phantom.

AARON (as Azul): Well, I think Phantom, this is the really the first audience you have. You’re gonna have people who disagree with your material. What do you have to say to that?

NICK: The phantom pulls out a blaster pistol and shoots Selona on stun and she collapses to the ground.

NICK (as Phantom): I have that to say.

AARON (as Azul): Oh, you see, one of the biggest things about working in theater is being able to take a note, and you Phantom can’t take a note.

NICK (as Phantom): Well, I mean, her note was really aggressive really. I don’t think it was particularly constructive.

NICK: [laughing] He’s like waving his gun around while he’s talking to you.

HUDSON: [laughs]

AARON: I think Azul says…

AARON (as Azul): I have a note for you.

AARON: …and then plinks one of the keys of the keyboard and yells at Tink to rush him.

NICK: Okay. I’m gonna have you all roll Cool and the Phantom is going to roll Cool but with two black dice because he has a false sense of security, and that’s gonna be our initiative.

AARON: Okay, I got a pow and three winged dot things.

HUDSON: I have no Cool and 2 Presence, and I got three advantages.

NICK: Okay… The way this is going to work, we’re gonna start with a PC slot, and then there’s the NPC slot because he rolled six advantages, and then another PC slot.

HUDSON: Oh geez.

NICK: Yeah. You all have six advantages total. The way advantages work on initiative checks is you can use it to add to the scenery or to the scene to make the fight a little more advantageous. Is there anything you want in this room or close to hand that will help you out?

AARON: [chuckles] I know we spoke about Azul being a little bit of a defensive character, more of a pacifist than anything, so I don’t think that they are gonna be looking to be the aggressor here, I think they’re looking for a moment of opportunity to restrain the phantom if anything.

NICK: Okay.

HUDSON: I’m looking for the death blow at this point.

AARON: [laughs]

HUDSON: [laughs]

NICK: What if we say that there are a lot of prop chains and stuff laying around and some binders, like the Star Wars handcuffs, but they’re made up to look like old-timey manacles and they’re hanging on a wall, so there’s plenty of stuff to restrain this person if you would so choose.

HUDSON: That sounds good.

NICK: His advantages are just going to be for all the fun things he has hidden in this room, because he originally thought this was going to be a fight, but it’s a PC slot first.

HUDSON: I take my vibro-axe and I put it across my chest, I hold it with two hands across my chest, but it’s not blade first, it’s like the blunt edge, and I rush him to like push him on the ground.

NICK: So are you just trying to tackle him?

HUDSON: Yeah, basically.

NICK: Okay. I would say that’s a Brawl check then.

HUDSON: [laughs]

AARON: If Tink is gonna rush after this person and try to tackle them, I think Azul just watches the run and just admires the form.

NICK: Y’all are pretty close together because you were all just around the organ, so it’s only like four good steps and you’re to this guy.

HUDSON: Nice. What’s the difficulty?

NICK: Average.

HUDSON: One failure and one advantage.

NICK: So, you charge at this technophantom and he steps neatly out of the way. The advantage can be that he stepped towards Azul, so whatever you’re going to do, Azul, you’ll get to add a blue die because he’s very focused on Tink, the giant with a terrifying axe, but he is able to not be restrained. It is his turn.

NICK (as Phantom): You don’t get it. I’m a phantom. I’m a menace!

NICK: He shoots at Tink. His gun is on stun.

AARON: Oh, Tink is definitely like, arms, I think even just behind their back, legs spread out in a shoulder-width apart, and they’re just ready to avoid, dodge, and react to the situation. They’ve been on this kind of prevent defense for a while.

HUDSON: I can definitely see that happening. We’re gonna see how good this roll is. [laughs]

NICK: Yeah. He got two successes and three advantages, so he shoots Tink in the chest with his pistol. You’re going to take 8 stun damage.

AARON: Oof.

HUDSON: Okay.

NICK: Which goes against your Strain.

HUDSON: So I have 2 Strain, because I had 10 Strain.

NICK: And also a crit, a 74.

HUDSON: Severity is two diamonds. Hamstrung: Lose free maneuver until end of encounter.

AARON: [laughs]

NICK: Wow. We’ve been so focused on everyone’s movement form that it just becomes very apparent when Tink gets a horrible cramp in the back of his leg after getting stunned, and he’s a lot jerkier, it’s not comfortable, so yeah, you don’t get to do your free maneuver. If you wanna move towards people or do anything that’s a maneuver it will cost you 1 Strain.

HUDSON: Okay. Sounds good.

NICK: Up next is a PC slot. Azul, whatcha doing?

AARON: I think the play is Azul wants to pull the agro, because Tink is obviously gonna be the aggressor. I think Azul has to take on a distraction role. So, Azul picks up the script and immediately begins rifling through it and comes to a random page, like Page 36, and then says:

AARON (as Azul): Phantom, I’m reading here, it says that the main character, who is you, it says that the main character is unbelievably handsome and charming. I definitely have a few notes for this, because it’s not what I’m pulling from real life.

NICK: Oh! Make me a Coercion check.

AARON: Okay, that’s Will, which is 2, and nothing else, so what do I do?

NICK: It’ll just be two greens, but I think this guy is very easily coerced, so it’ll be easy, just one purple.

AARON: I got an upside-down triangle and two winged dot things.

NICK: You got a failure and two advantages. So, I think… because you failed I was going to make it so that you had the agro and he was upset enough to miss more, I think you have the agro and he is going to be able to aim quite true, which will be great for you, but he does roar and point his gun at you. Those advantages can be used to give Tink a blue die so that he gets a more clean shot on his turn.

AARON: Perfect.

NICK: Cool. So, it’s because he is very focused on you and upset.

NICK (as Phantom): Enough with your kriffing notes! Clearly you don’t recognize genius.

NICK: And he’s waving his gun everywhere very dramatically, which is not very efficient.

AARON: Not very efficient, but I think Azul then positions the script in front of themselves so that it becomes a game of don’t hit the script.

NICK: [laughs] He goes:

NICK (as Phantom): [in a goofy, startled voice] Ohh!

AARON: [laughs]

NICK: Tink, it’s your turn. What are you gonna do?

HUDSON: Oh man. Am I prone or am I just shocked a little bit?

NICK: Yeah, you’re not prone, just your leg hurts and it’s hard to walk.

HUDSON: I do three summersaults forward to try to knock them prone.

NICK: So are you just trying to hit him again?

HUDSON: Yes.

NICK: You’re not trying to kill this guy?

HUDSON: Yeah, well, I was thinking about doing that earlier. I’ve pivoted now and I wanna go with Azul’s thing.

NICK: Okay. You’ll have to spend 1 Strain to get into range with him, because that’s what your crit does, but besides that, yeah, roll a Brawl check.

HUDSON: Heh. Also, what happens theoretically if you run out of Strain?

NICK: You pass out.

HUDSON: [laughs] Okay great, I have 1 Strain left.

NICK: Watch, this adventure’s gonna end with y’all Space Jam style being chained up having to perform his show three times a day.

HUDSON: One success, one advantage.

NICK: Nice. I don’t know if that’s how it works with Brawl, because there aren’t really grapple rules, but since that was your goal I’ll either let you do damage as Strain or real damage based on the amount you got, like if you punch him, or for no damage you can knock him down and be over him. Which would you like to do?

HUDSON: Knock him down and be over him.

NICK: Okay. Tell me how you knock this guy over after your summersaults.

HUDSON: After my summersaults, I basically go into bear hug motion and just grab the sides, not like a hug but just grab the sides and then just fall forward so it doesn’t hurt them, like I’m not pushing them down actively, I’m kind of holding them up as they fall.

NICK: You notice that the phantom is actually a lot heavier than you expected them to be based on their size, but you land down on top of them like a get down Mr. President kind of gesture, and it is his turn.

HUDSON: Yes. Yes.

AARON: [laughs]

NICK: He’s still holding his gun, so…

HUDSON: [laughs]

NICK: He really wants to shoot—You know what, I think he still does. I don’t think his arms are trapped, so even though Tink’s on top of him, he knows that you’re trying to protect Azul, and Azul has the script, so he’s going to use his maneuver to aim, giving himself a blue die, and he is going to shoot at Azul.

AARON: Oh… Okay.

NICK: You said you drew agro. Two successes and three advantages again, so that is 8 stun damage, so that goes against your Strain, Aaron, but it is minus your Soak, so you only take 6. You just took 6 out of 13 Strain.

AARON: Not ideal.

NICK: So, shoots you, also gets a crit with those two advantages, and got a 39. What’s a 39, Hudson?

HUDSON: 39 is Stinger: Plus one diamond of severity to next check.

NICK: Oh okay, so you have one more difficulty on whatever you try to do next, because it just makes you flinch. It hurts real bad. I don’t know if you’ve been shot with a stun bolt before, but it’s not fun. Up next it is Azul’s turn.

AARON: I think as I’m recovering from that blaster shot you see Azul’s eyes kind of narrow in on the phantom, and they grit their teeth and they begin to grab pages from the script and tear them out of the book.

NICK: The phantom yells.

NICK (as Phantom): [pathetically] N-Nooo! Don’t—Stop. Stooop!

AARON (as Azul): Well, if you’re not gonna play nice then I’m gonna destroy this really shitty story that you wrote.

NICK (as Phantom): It’s not shitty.

AARON (as Azul): It’s not good.

NICK: Okay, so are you wanting him to give up with that?

AARON: I think they hold the script in one hand, and it looks like they’re gonna tear the script in half.

AARON (as Azul): You will come quietly, or I will give the benefit of the people out there the gift of never having to read this.

NICK: Oof. That really feels like a Coercion check since you’re just straight threatening this person. I’ll give you two blue dice for having such a successful threat.

AARON: Alright, let’s roll. Two pows and two advantages.

NICK: Nice. He stops moving and says:

NICK (as Phantom): My prime directive is to preserve my work. Please stop. You have defeated the Technophantom of the Opera.

AARON: [laughs]

AARON (as Azul): My prime directive is to put on good works of art, so thank you.

NICK (as Phantom): I just said you won. There’s no need to be a jerk about it.

AARON (as Azul): Tink, knock him out.

HUDSON: I punch.

AARON: [laughs]

NICK: You punch. His head slams into the ground with a clang, and his mask slips off, and you see that he’s actually a protocol droid.

HUDSON: Ohh.

NICK: So you’ve dented in his head and his eyes are starting to flicker.

NICK (as Phantom): Love… never dies.

NICK: And then the lights go out in his eyes as you knock the droid offline.

[laughter]

HUDSON: [claps]

NICK: You have rescued Selona. The Technophantom of the Opera is defeated. You have his shitty, shitty play. There’s just one more day before the performance. I think there’s a rush to get ready for the show.

[peaceful music begins]

Let’s do the performance. So, describe the opening number of this ballet and who’s doing what.

AARON: Nick, do you know the title of the ballet? Did we ever title the ballet?

NICK: We didn’t. Do you have an idea?

AARON: I am going to say the title of this ballet is… Lasers and Feelings.

NICK: [laughs]

AARON: And, the opening of the ballet actually starts with a spotlight specifically on Azul, and the very first thing you see is their left forearm is in front of their face which illuminates the lightning bolt tattoo that they have running down their arm, and as it sweeps away from their face the lights flood the rest of the stage and the rest of the dance squad comes out. They begin doing this electronica ballet that has all sorts of adage lifts and all these interesting pirouettes that go at this speed that seems unnaturally fast.

[music grows intense]

And as the music begins to roar you just hear this techno, like (simulates heavy bass and drum beats), as the music drops out for a moment—

[music ends abruptly before rising again more peaceful and dramatic]

There’s these silky strings that proceed what’s about to happen next, it sounds like [sings a high note meant to sound angelic or ethereal]. From the back, I think that’s Tink’s entrance.

NICK: [laughs] Okay.

AARON: Tink, what kind of dance do you wanna do here, man?

HUDSON: So, I put my arms against my chest, it’s little arms like a T-Rex, and I start T-Rex walking out from the back of the stage.

AARON: [laughs]

HUDSON: But I’m looking around and I’m kinda going with the music, and then I stop and I throw one hand into the air and my head throws upwards, and I spread my legs, so it’s like in one gesture, leg’s spread, hand up, other hand down, head in the air, and then I just start spinning in place using my feet and it doesn’t look very good… but I do that.

AARON (as Azul): Oh Tink, Tink, no-no-no, it looks good my dude.

HUDSON (as Tink): Aw, thank you.

AARON (as Azul): Come on, man. Like, all that hair shimmering? Ugh!

NICK: I think we should let the dice decide that.

HUDSON: [laughs]

NICK: As we come to the climax of the opening number, I need you both to make me a dance for Performance check.

AARON: I got four pows and an advantage.

NICK: Damn.

HUDSON: [laughs] I got nothing.

AARON: [laughs]

NICK: You got a total wash?

HUDSON: Yeah.

NICK: Let’s say that Azul is able, with her advantage, to also make you look good as well. You do okay, but Azul is able to highlight your dancing and the opening number goes off without a hitch. The climax is a crazy laser light show and the supporting cast are all doing classical ballet behind you all which then turns into just straight Cirque du Soleil backflips and stuff as they go off the stage. The theater isn’t full, it’s about two thirds full which is pretty good, and the crowd as this goes on is more and more wrapped and more and more engaged. The curtain comes down, and there’s cheering, and then we see a brief scene of Tink standing triumphantly on a plinth in a later part of this ballet while everyone dances around him, and then red lights come down like he’s on fire.

HUDSON: [laughs]

NICK: Then we see another brief scene of Azul doing a one-handed handstand that turns into splits that turns into supporting their whole body perpendicular on the one arm while really, really sad music plays. Then we come to the end and we’re seeing the company front of everyone standing on the stage and the crowd is cheering and throwing credits and flowers up on the stage, and the show goes amazingly. You all take your bows and run off stage and Madam Zostra is in the wings. The rest of the crew is going by. I think Selona stalks by, and there was a last minute change where Selona is now the handmaiden for the principle dancer so it’s a lot less of a prestigious dance part, but Selona winks and puts a hand on Azul’s shoulder as she goes by.

[music ends]

NICK (as Selona): You did great out there. I really appreciate you. Keep up the good work. Maybe someday I’ll be as good as you.

NICK: Even though her voice still sounds kinda sarcastic you can tell she’s trying, and she walks by with the rest of the dancers. It’s just you two and madam Zostra, and Madam Zostra says:

NICK (as Zostra): Well, that went surprisingly well.

HUDSON (as Tink): I think Azul did an excellent job.

AARON (as Azul): Yeah, and I think that hoe Selona finally learned. This is really all a win-win for me.

HUDSON: [laughs]

NICK (as Zostra): Now-now, Selona has a lot of talent and sometimes you want to take a day off, so don’t be a jerk to your understudies.

AARON (as Azul): [laughs] Oh fine, but if she tries to drag that spotlight away from me one more time she’s gonna get a kick across the face.

NICK (as Zostra): One, yes, she should probably get a kick across the face, but two, you’re going to need to learn that it’s okay to not always be in the spotlight, Azul. I was really hoping that this experience would teach you some humility and selflessness. Apparently that is not the case.

AARON (as Azul): Oh, absolutely not. If anything it’s only fed my ego and I got a good friend out of it.

HUDSON (as Tink): yeah, she did.

NICK (as Zostra): Well, I guess things don’t always wrap up all nice and clean like in the stories… but that’s life!

[laughter]

NICK: The last thing we see, the camera drops below the stage and drops past the shattered mirror maze and down into the slapped together lair, and we can see the Technophantom of the Opera’s droid body.

[dramatic music begins]

The lights flicker on red, and you can see his hand dramatically punch towards the sky.

NICK (as Phantom): Maybe my real calling is to travel the stars. It’s time for the Starlight Express!

NICK: [giggling] And that’s where we’ll end this episode.

[music ends]

AARON: I’ve got a bad feeling about this~

NICK & HUDSON: Ba-naaa~!

AARON: [laughs]

## Outro

LILIT: Thanks for listening to Tabletop Squadron. If you’ve enjoyed our show, please consider logging into iTunes, or wherever else you listen to podcasts, and giving us a review. Good reviews help new listeners find the show and decide if it’s right for them. You can also support the show through our Patreon at Patreon.com/TabletopSquadron. We have all sorts of fun Patreon levels like Tarkin’s Underwear Drawer which gives you access to our secret feed full of bloopers, fun extras, and more.

Azul is played by Aaron J. Amendola. He can be found on Twitter at @ImAaronJ.

{EDIT: new handle, @TurboHoodie}

Tink is played by Hudson Jameson. He can be found on Twitter at @HudsonJameson.

Our game master is Nick Robertson. He can be found on Twitter at @alias58.

Our intro song is Space Jam by Pablo Ribot, and our outro song was performed by James Gunter.

Follow the podcast on Twitter and Instagram at @Tabletop_Squad, and join our Discord at bit.ly/TabletopDiscord where you can share all of your food and cute pet photos with us. We do occasionally talk about Star Wars. See you next time.

Word document download: Interstitials s1- Tink 1- The Phantom of the Ballet

PDF download: Interstitials s1- Tink 1- The Phantom of the Ballet

Read in browser:

Tabletop Squadron Transcript, Tink Interstitial 1, Part 1: The Phantom of the Ballet

Transcript by Tyler (Twitter: @Tyler_MoonSage)

## Intro

LILIT: Hello, and welcome to Tabletop Squadron, a Star Wars: Edge of the Empire actual play podcast. I’m Lilit, your MC for today. Every other Thursday, our story follows a thief, a bounty hunter, and a slicer as they explore the galaxy helping a mysterious benefactor and each other.

Except for today, where we follow a slicer as they explore the stage helping a prima donna dancer and themselves.

Thank you to our newest Patron, Sven Svednir. We’re glad you’re enjoying the show out in Sweden and are grateful for your support.

Music for today’s episode can be found in the show notes. Enjoy.

##

NICK: Hello! Welcome to Tabletop Squadron. I’m your host and game master, Nick. We’re back for another interlude episode. Taking a little time, get to know what the characters are like on their own, away from the squad. Doing their own thing, striking out. Other synonyms for not being with the group… So, without further ado, let’s go around the table and everybody say who you are and what character you’re playing today, starting with Hudson.

HUDSON: Hello. I’m Hudson, and I’m playing Tink, a Gigoran slicer.

NICK: An oldie but a goodie.

HUDSON: Oh yeah.

NICK: And new to the Tabletop Squad, we have a special, special guest today. It’s Aaron!

AARON: Oh my goodness. When you said you had a special guest I was looking around thinking who is he talking about.

NICK & HUDSON: [laughs]

AARON: It’s me! It’s actually me. That’s so cool. Hey everybody, I’m Aaron J., Twitter @ImAaronJ. I’m gonna be playing a dancer in the Star Wars universe named Azul.

{EDIT: new handle, @TurboHoodie}

HUDSON: Oh, and by the way, because Aaron I guess you haven’t played with us before, Tink’s pronouns are he/him.

AARON: Very good. Thank you. I don’t think I thought much about the pronouns for Azul, but maybe we will discover them along the way.

NICK: Okie-dokie. Do you have any projects you’re working on, Aaron, things you wanna get out into the universe?

AARON: Sure. I mean, right now we could all do with some more audio content since we’re cooped up in our houses. I’m just gonna direct you to a tabletop RPG show that I run called UniCURSEity. It’s the tale of three collegiate folks that discover there’s some demonic BS happening, bubbling up underneath the campus, and they are forced and tasked with solving that mystery.

NICK: I love UniCURSEity so much.

AARON: Oh yeah, I should probably tell you where you can get it. You can search iTunes for UniCURSEity or just put UniCURSEity into Google. It’s a punny name. If you like puns you’re gonna like the show.

NICK: And if you like disembodied skeletons with fun voices you will also enjoy the show quite a bit.

AARON: And if you like musical theater you’re really gonna like our second arc that will be starting up sometime in the next month.

NICK: Aw man, you can’t hit me with teasers like that!

AARON: I’m so excited! Oh my goodness. I can’t wait.

NICK: [laughs] Great. Before we get into it, let’s start off with the Destiny Roll!

AARON: Okay, let’s see, I got one filled in black circle.

NICK: You got one dark side point. How about you, Hudson?

HUDSON: I got one dark side point.

[techno party music begins]

NICK: Tink, you find yourself in a bar lit by neon lights and glowing smoke. Music with heavy bass causes the drinks on the bar around you to ripple and rattle. The bartender slides you another beverage with a blank stare. What are you drinking?

HUDSON: I’m drinking the Takodana Twister.

NICK: You do the math in your head as you take another sip and stare into your hypnotic drink. You haven’t gotten any real work since the shipyard job three months ago. What have you spent that payday on?

[party music fades]

HUDSON: Well, I started collecting figurines, and then that got expensive really quickly, so I stopped. I’ll be honest, it was becoming a problem. It was basically figurines, like, kind of back-alley. I didn’t know this was a thing, but back-alley figurines where you have to go and it has like Jedi pilots and famous intergalactic heroes and things like that, that normally would be something that could get you in trouble.

NICK: [chuckles] Okay. Are they all still in the box?

HUDSON: Yeah, absolutely, and if there’s any kind of stickers I very carefully peel them off, because I want it in mint condition.

NICK: [laughs] Great. As the camera zooms out we also see that Tink looks a little different from the last time we saw him. What does Tink look like now?

HUDSON: Tink got a haircut…

NICK: [laughs]

HUDSON: …but the thing about the haircut is it was like one of those really awkward in-between haircuts where you cut off just enough that it’s almost too much but not enough for it to be appropriate, like two inches deep off the hair surrounding the entire body.

NICK: Okay.

HUDSON: It’s also a little bit gray and a little bit kind of disheveled, because I mean I’m not impressing anybody. I don’t need to really wash or anything that often.

NICK: [pauses] Cool. You also lost your leg recently.

HUDSON: I bedazzled the leg and kinda put an X on with bedazzled jewelry on there so people know I’m straightedge, because I can’t just do the symbol with my arms all the time. That gets really annoying.

NICK: So you just point to your shin now?

HUDSON: Yeah, I just point to my shin and I’m like, “keep it, keep the edge.”

[party music returns]

NICK: [chuckles] So, as you contemplate your finances and what you’ve been through lately, you see a Mirialan man wearing a loose tunic and pants with a hooded duster on. They’re a Human-looking alien with green skin with refined features. You can see that their traditional tattoos are focused mostly on their hands rather than traditionally where they would be on their face, and that the tattoos only seem partially filled in which is a little weird. The Mirialan leans backwards against the bar on his elbows, looks at you and says…

NICK (as Mirialan): How are ya now?

NICK: …and grabs a shot glass that is sliding along the bar to a different patron, without looking at it, and he downs it in one go.

HUDSON (as Tink): Well, I was a little down thinking about how my life is right now, but now that someone’s talking to me I’ve kinda perked up a little bit.

NICK: The Mirialan chews on the inside of his cheek a little bit.

NICK (as Mirialan): Oh, not so bad.

NICK: Then smiles at you and then looks around the bar.

NICK (as Mirialan): Looks like you’ve got a pair of idle hands there, friend.

HUDSON (as Tink): Looks like you got a pair of, uh, mostly colored in hands.

NICK (as Mirialan): Well, the thing about having colored in hands is you never know exactly when they’re going to be finished. It’s sort of a metaphor, you see, for the journey.

HUDSON (as Tink): Ohh…

NICK (as Mirialan): How’s this galactic life treating you?

HUDSON (as Tink): The galactic—You’re very inquisitive. I like that. I don’t think it’s weird at all.

NICK: [laughs]

HUDSON (as Tink): So, the galactic life, I’d say sometimes I live on the edge, sometimes the edge lives on me.

AARON: What? [laughs]

HUDSON (as Tink): Meaning I accidentally fell in some razors recently. It was an ordeal.

AARON: [laughs]

HUDSON (as Tink): This was just at the supermarket. Just so much blood…

NICK: [laughs] The Mirialan looks genuinely concerned for you.

NICK (as Mirialan): Well, I was going to say that the Force moves in mysterious ways, but… I don’t think the Force would be responsible for throwing you into a batch of razor blades.

[party music fades]

HUDSON (as Tink): Yeah, that was more just my clumsiness in general. I don’t think it was the Force.

NICK (as Mirialan): Well…

HUDSON (as Tink): Yeah, get to the bottom line here. You’re asking me a lot of questions.

AARON: [laughs]

NICK (as Mirialan): That’s fair. I find that the Force tends to bring me places where I’m needed, and I happen to be near somewhere where a friend needs some help with a problem. I noticed you, I could see that you have an outlaw tech data breaker there on your belt, and I have some friends who might need help with a problem.

HUDSON (as Tink): Hmm. I’m a problem solver, and I’m glad you noticed my status symbol. I like to show it off.

AARON: [laughs]

NICK (as Mirialan): You know those are extremely illegal, right?

HUDSON (as Tink): Oh… Earlier I said I live on the edge, most of the time.

NICK (as Mirialan): Very fair. Very fair. There’s a ballet theater just a few levels down from here, actually.

HUDSON (as Tink): Ooh.

NICK (as Mirialan): They ran crosswise with a hacker group a few weeks ago, and now their lighting system just flashes curse words all the time.

HUDSON: [laughs]

NICK (as Mirialan): It’s a kriffing shame. They do good shows there. The money isn’t great, but I have a feeling the Force would appreciate the help. What do you say, friend?

HUDSON (as Tink): Hmm… A ballet job, you say? Hmm. I’ve… I’m skeptical, because the last time I ran into a ballet company it was just, it was uncomfortable.

NICK (as Mirialan): You ran into an uncomfortable company of ballet?

HUDSON (as Tink): Yeah, yeah, you could say they were very uncomfortable. The reason being, they would… You know how a normal gang—It was like a gang of roving ballerinas, so this was like, unlike any kind of ballerina company you’ve ever seen. They come up, they’re snapping their fingers, they got their outfits on, and then they start doing pliés and touchés and valets and they just twist and turn and flip, and it just confused me, and then suddenly my belt was gone. I had to run after them.

NICK (as Mirialan): Well, I can tell you that this particular ballet company isn’t much for crime. You’ll probably be okay there.

HUDSON (as Tink): Alright. Alright. It sounds like what I’m battling here is someone who wants to mess around with them, so I don’t appreciate that, especially if they’re nice people.

NICK (as Mirialan): Well, that sounds just wonderful. My name’s Chundi Sandal by the way.

NICK: He grabs what’s left of your drink and takes a big sip of it.

NICK (as Chundi): [affronted] What is this, a Takodana Twister? Gross.

HUDSON (as Tink): Yeah, absolutely. I keep the edge, so you know, you have to get the good non-alcoholic drinks.

NICK: He shrugs and then pours the rest of it down his throat.

NICK (as Chundi): Well, it’s been a pleasure meeting you, friend. Pitter-patter.

HUDSON (as Tink): Yeah. Let’s go, Mr. Sandal.

NICK: We get a swipe. It does like a fractal spiral into the next scene which is… Tink, you are walking down a very narrow staircase in an alleyway. There are desperate people hulled up in the shadows. You’re on Coruscant. People with little money and less options, but they leave your hulking frame alone, especially when they see the kind of gear you’re carrying around. You’ve got a giant vibro-axe on your back.

HUDSON: Yeah!

NICK: You quickly find yourself standing in front of a rundown theater. It’s tucked into an overhang created by a much larger building. A stream of water runoff from the higher level trickles perpetually into the front entryway like the world’s dirtiest waterfall. What I need from you all is a detail about the outside of this theater.

AARON: Hmm. I think my detail about the outside of the theater is that the doors to get in are made of the most clear glass that it almost appears like there’s no door there. It looks like the handle is actually floating in place because the glass is so clean and so nice.

HUDSON: If you look above the nice, clean glass you can see that the sign for the entrance and the title of the building is really rundown actually, kind of rusted and has water marks. It’s like in a very cliché way flashing and you can hear a buzz-buzz-buzz as it flashes.

NICK: So, there is water dripping down right in front of this door, and that’s why the lights on this sign for this theater are buzzing and flashing, and we don’t quite see the name of it, but inside you can see a… we’ll say it’s a Chadra-Fan, so a little bat person is constantly cleaning the inside of these doors. It looks like he’s doing just really top-notch mime work as you appear.

HUDSON (as Tink): Good work, there.

NICK: He smiles at you and goes back to scrubbing. As you approach, a little bit of water splashes off you onto the door and the Chadra-Fan gasps with a little squeak and goes to wipe that down. As you enter, you pass through a lobby. There are mildewed posters and a few sagging chairs as you go through into the theater proper. On the stage you see a dance troop going through the final acts of production. Aaron, what does this production look like and what is your character doing?

AARON: I think my character, I think Azul is the front of this ballet squad. They are not a ballet team, they are not a ballet company, they are a ballet squad. They all have nice, flashy jackets on, they’re all wearing these ballet point shoes with cool bits of graffiti on it, and there’s a lot of people on the left and right hand sides of this stage where they are rehearsing that didn’t get the memo about the doors. The doors were so clean these people just walked into them and they have bandages around their faces. There’s bruises all over them. They just did not get the memo that the doors were there. They were just so clean they kept bumping into them.

[flute music begins]

I think that Azul is currently going through a ballet routine. You see them perform all these sorts of very agile, almost acrobatic type moves, and when they are done they go back to first position and then they sit cross-legged on the floor and place their palms on their knees and just kind of breathe in [inhales], and out [exhales].

[opera singing joins the flute music]

NICK: Oh, that’s lovely. So, as all of the dancers sit cross-legged in the flashing lights, one single spotlight casts down to the person leading this dance squad. Now, the spotlight does say KRIFF in huge red letters, but it still illuminates your character, Aaron, so we get a closer look at them. Describe what they look like.

AARON: Azul I think drapes themselves in a lot of blue clothing, a lot of blue garb. Their jacket itself is like a periwinkle blue, and on the back of the jacket is just a giant graffiti “A.” Hanging around their head is a bandana that has different constellations on it, and they’re wearing very tight, black dance shorts that cut off right above the knee. When you get down to their feet they have these beautiful ballet point shoes that right at the tip of the point shoes, right at the toe, everything is basically worn through but that wear and tear actually makes itself look like it should be there because the paint on the shoe is made to look distressed, it’s made to look like something really industrial.

I think Azul pretty much at all times appears calm. Azul always looks like they know exactly what they’re going to say. They always look like they are in control of a situation, but who knows if that’s actually the case. I want to say that Azul also has one gigantic tattoo running from their left shoulder all the way down to the palm of their left hand that is just a giant lightning bolt, and the reason that is very interesting for Azul specifically is because the actual tattoo ink is like a black light, so whenever they dance under a black light you see this lightning bolt just silhouetted against the darkness, glowing in this amazing, incredible, white light.

NICK: Oh, that is very, very cool. Azul is a Mirialan, right? So they have green skin?

AARON: Yeah. I think there’s always whispers of people watching Azul dance where they’re like “Why is their name Azul?”

NICK: [laughs]

AARON: “They’re green. It doesn’t make any sense.” [record scratch] “Their name should just be green.” That’s why Azul tries to incorporate as much blue into their coterie and culture as much as they can.

NICK: Oh, that is great. So, we get this zoom in, Matrix 360 view of Azul basically being in her comfort zone in her point of strength, and then you hear someone clap twice from off-stage, and the squad gets up to do it again, start the rehearsal over. They get through the first few moves and there is a section of choreography where there’s a flurry of leaps all at once, and as they are starting that, Tink, you are walking down the steps towards the stage and all of the lights cut out at once.

[music stops abruptly]

And then all of the spotlights start swinging wildly and flashing kriff, splurt, kark, fuck-fuck-fuck, and just strobe lighting obscenities all over the stage. Many of the dancers stumble and crash into each other and the holo player that was playing the music skips in the music. Tink, you can see the rehearsal grind to a halt with these technical difficulties as you’re approaching, and there is an elderly Chadra-Fan woman sitting in one of the seats that you’re walking past. As you get close, she’s got her hands resting on the top of a durasteel cane with a large, glass gem in the pommel. She says to you, without looking, still looking at the stage.

NICK (as Chadra-Fan): It really is a shame. With the lights like this it will all go to waste. We were going to save the theater with this show, but now it’s all just kriffing kark.

[laughter]

NICK: On the stage it just flashes “kriffing kark” in big, yellow letters.

HUDSON (as Tink): Well, this sure doesn’t look like a phantom of the ballet situation, so uh… I think what we’re dealing with here is someone trying to sabotage your performance.

NICK (as Chadra-Fan): Well, we thought it was just petty vandalism, but generally petty vandalism doesn’t completely destroy a business and the livelihood of artists, so maybe you’re right. Knowing why it happened doesn’t fix the problem, though.

HUDSON (as Tink): Do you have competing ballet companies? I mean, usually they have guns and that’s how they get you, but maybe they’re just going with something easier this time. Has that happened to you before?

NICK (as Chadra-Fan): Did you grow up on Mandalore?

HUDSON (as Tink): I did grow up on Mandalore. Yes.

NICK (as Chadra-Fan): See, Mandalorian ballet battle companies are the only ballerinas that tend to shoot first and ask questions later. I did my dance school a very long time ago out there.

HUDSON (as Tink): Ohh.

NICK (as Chadra-Fan): Generally, you don’t have to have the black swan also be black ops in Coruscant ballet.

[laughter]

HUDSON (as Tink): Yeah, definitely seems more refined and, uh…

HUDSON: And he pauses awkwardly too long as he’s thinking about a fancy word to impress this person.

HUDSON (as Tink): It’s very apropos.

NICK (as Chadra-Fan): Well, I’m glad that you think it’s… apropos.

NICK: On the stage, as you said things look refined, there’s just straight up giant hologram outlines of two headless people having sex on the stage.

NICK (as Chadra-Fan): What’s less apropos is this vandalism.

HUDSON (as Tink): Yeah, that’s gross.

NICK (as Chadra-Fan): It’s always on loop. They’re not even being creative.

HUDSON (as Tink): Ick… I mean, yeah. If I was doing this I’d just have something that said “butts, butts, butts” and then have a tastefully drawn butt, just an outline, you know.

AARON (as Azul): Hmm. Yeah, that’s good. That’s dance. That’s dance, for sure.

HUDSON (as Tink): Oh, hello there.

NICK: The elderly Chadra-Fan shakes her head.

NICK (as Chadra-Fan): Yes, a good tasteful butt is why we all got into the business.

AARON: I think Azul just has a towel draped over their neck and they’re holding onto it with both their hands. It’s just a series of shrugs.

AARON (as Azul): Yeah, butts are great and all, but we really have kind of a situation on our hands right here and I don’t think we’re gonna get our reps in unless we can figure this out. I know the rest of the squad is ready and willing to get back on that, but it’s kind of a dark cloud hanging over our heads.

HUDSON (as Tink): You’re in luck, because I destroy dark clouds. But what I really mean is I’m here to fix your problem.

NICK: [laughs]

AARON (as Azul): Wait. Are you like a weather man or are you like a detective? You’re gonna fix the cloud?

HUDSON (as Tink): Yeah, no-no-no, sorry. I should have introduced myself. I am Tink, and I am a doctor and lawyer, but besides those things I’m also a slicer, very good slicer at that, and I believe I can figure out who’s doing this.

AARON (as Azul): Okay, well fantastic. You obviously know who I am, so yeah, if you—

HUDSON (as Tink): Wait. I… you know, I do, but can you remind me?

AARON: I think Azul looks around, and as you’ve said that I think people have had hushed gasps. “Wait, oh my god, does this person not know who Azul is?” Azul I think begins to walk away and then looks over their shoulder…

[dramatic performance music begins]

…and then launches into the air in this very allegro fashion and lands right in front of you in third position and then bows to you.

AARON (as Azul): I am Azul. I am the head of the company here. I am the captain of the squad, and if you need me I will be at your service. It’s not every day I meet someone who actually requests to be introduced. I have to say, that is kinda cool.

HUDSON (as Tink): Oh—

AARON (as Azul): You, you don’t, like, you’re not intimidated by me. This is so new.

HUDSON (as Tink): Oh yeah, you saw, I didn’t even flinch. Do you see how large I am compared to how small you are?

[dramatic music fades]

AARON: [laughs] I think as you say compared to how small you are Azul just kinda laughs and jokingly smacks you on the shoulder and just then begins to lean on you with their whole arm, and looks to the rest of the company.

AARON (as Azul): I like this guy. Is it guy? I like this person. I like this… What are you?

HUDSON (as Tink): Yeah, yeah, it’s guy. I am a Gigoran.

AARON (as Azul): Ah, fantastic, and you said your name is Tink?

HUDSON (as Tink): Yes. It’s actually Rallltinkraatakat, but you can just call me Tink.

AARON (as Azul): Ah, well Tink, it is very good to meet you. I’ll be at your service as soon as you need me.

HUDSON (as Tink): Thank you, and I actually, you know, this was probably a trivia question for later, getting to know you, but I actually know why your name is Azul. Your like blueish-green skin, and the H is silent, isn’t it?

[long pause]

AARON (as Azul): The… The H?

NICK: [cackles]

HUDSON (as Tink): Yes.

AARON (as Azul): I’m… I’m sorry.

HUDSON (as Tink): So, it’s like Hazel, but you drop the H for fun.

AARON: I think everyone around this dance company is just, their interest is piqued, they’re looking on with baited breath. Azul looks around kind of hesitantly, not really knowing what to say and not really getting the joke, looks back at you Tink and then says:

AARON (as Azul): Uh… Yes, that is correct. Yeah. Sure. We’ll go with that. Of course. Yes.

HUDSON (as Tink): Alright. I’m starting to—You know what? I think we’re gonna work well together here. I’m not seeing any issues so far. Like you mentioned, you’re at my service, and I haven’t heard that… ever, from anyone, so that definitely sparks some joy in me.

NICK: As you all are talking the Chadra-Fan theater leader steps up into the aisle, and her head comes up just about to where Tink’s new prosthetic leg finishes.

NICK (as Chadra-Fan): Azul, why don’t you take our new slicer friend up to the lighting booth? Maybe he can troubleshoot this problem a little bit.

AARON (as Azul): Absolutely, dear. And hey, do me a favor, please get a drink and sit down for a little bit? I don’t want you losing any undue energy due to all this. Okay? Can you please just do that for me?

NICK (as Chadra-Fan): I was dancing before you were born. Don’t talk to me like that. But I will sit down and have a drink, I’m very tired.

AARON (as Azul): Alright, fantastic. Remember, I know what’s best for you. Alright, let’s go, Tink.

HUDSON: [laughs]

NICK: As the two of you start to walk, I think you walk towards the stage and then there’s a staircase off to the left that leads up into the rafters where the lighting booth is. We see the secondary dance leader that is a very tall and dancer built pink Twi’lek, and she’s whispering to the other members of the group.

NICK (as Twi’lek): He didn’t even know who Azul was. Isn’t that interesting?

NICK: The other ones are all giggling.

NICK (as Twi’lek): I think that she is slipping. Perhaps we should bring in a new dance leader.

AARON: Do we think that Azul hears them?

NICK: Why don’t you roll me a Perception check. First roll of the game.

AARON: Alright. Alright. Because yeah, if Azul hears them I think there’s definitely some ish that’s gonna go down. So that’s Cunning, my Cunning is 1, and then I have one little dot filled in, so…

NICK: That’ll be one yellow die against two purple dice. We’ll just say this is average.

AARON: Okay, rolling…

NICK: But I’ll give you a blue die as a boost.

AARON: Oh.

NICK: Because I think you’re used to this other dancer stirring up shit.

AARON: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

NICK: So you pay attention to them.

AARON: Okay, so I just rolled one yellow die and I got two wings with a dot at the top.

NICK: Those are advantages. You’re gonna wanna reroll with that blue die or you’re not gonna succeed. [laughs]

AARON: Okay. I got so excited. Alright, rolling… I got three what looks like a hexagon with a bunch of pathways going into it.

NICK: Threats.

AARON: And I got another one of those advantage symbols.

NICK: Okay, so it cancels out to absolutely nothing, because the threats and the advantages cancel out. You do not hear her starting shit, but I don’t think the rest of the dance troop really listens to her either. It just kinda neutrals out. It’s just an interesting data point for the audience.

AARON: [laughs] I think regardless of hearing this “secondary” dance leader, this dumb pink Twi’lek, I think as we’re making our way up to the booth that Azul and Tink are just kinda chit-chatting, and I imagine that Azul, the more I think about Azul’s character, they’re kinda like Jameela Jamil from The Good Place. They think they know everybody, they’re kind of perfect in a lot of different ways, and they can dish on people. As they’re going past these groups you see that Azul is pointing out these are these people, these are these folk, these people have been here forever, these are the rookies, they all know me…

AARON (as Azul): And it’s so very refreshing to meet someone that isn’t intimidated by me. I just want to work with these people.

HUDSON (as Tink): Oh no, I… Well, I was gonna say I understand, but actually, the only part I understand is the intimidation. I don’t know if you’ve seen this baby.

HUDSON: And I pull off my axe.

AARON (as Azul): Oh! For a second I thought you were actually gonna have a child with you. This is much different.

HUDSON: [laughs]

HUDSON (as Tink): No, no babies, just—I mean, really this is the closest thing I have to a child. I definitely take care of it. [cooing] Isn’t that right/ Isn’t that right?

HUDSON: And I kinda rub the blade.

AARON (as Azul): So, is this the most valuable thing that you have?

HUDSON (as Tink): You know, I guess it is. Yes.

AARON (as Azul): Okay, because I was just, you know, you seem like the kind of person that, I don’t know, would… I don’t know, wanna play a game or something, just figuring out what kind of leverage you have.

HUDSON (as Tink): [gasps]

AARON (as Azul): me and some of the other dancers like to place some bets, just you know, feeling out, but seriously, if you’re interested let me know. No pressure, but also, kind of pressure because it is very fun.

HUDSON (as Tink): It definitely sounds fun, and you know what I have in my pocket right here?

AARON (as Azul): Is this—Wait. Is this like a question? Do you wanna put money on it?

HUDSON (as Tink): Uh, no, not yet.

AARON (as Azul): Oh, okay.

HUDSON (as Tink): Not at this second. They are actually a pair of chance cubes.

AARON (as Azul): Agh! You know, I was gonna say a pair of chance cubes. I would’ve put 5 Credits on it. Agh, okay. That’s fantastic. Look at these. Wow, they’re so cute.

HUDSON (as Tink): And you know, sometimes when I need to make decisions about what I’m doing, either in my mind or physically in the real world, I roll these things.

AARON (as Azul): Wow. You know, it sounds like people that like to roll dice in order to make decisions are really an interesting type of folk, wouldn’t you say?

NICK: [laughs]

HUDSON (as Tink): [unsure] Yeah…!

AARON (as Azul): Especially when it comes to their whole character and world building.

HUDSON (as Tink): They might even be better than all the others.

AARON (as Azul): Yeah. I think people that roll dice in order to make decisions are better than the rest of the people in this galaxy. Phooey on everyone that says otherwise.

HUDSON (as Tink): Yeah. Yeah… Phoo- Phooey.

NICK: You arrive in the lighting booth. It’s up in the back of the theater hanging from the ceiling. It’s not a very big room. It’s probably only about three meters wide and three meters long. It’s just crammed full of lighting boards and technology, but it’s Star Wars so everything runs on magnetic tape and blinking lightbulbs. There is a big old pile of servers with a single entry port, it’s like one plug-in like R2-D2 would use.

HUDSON (as Tink): This is some old shit. I mean, like, it’s classy ancient, but still. I’ve worked with this before back at the university. Um… Yeah, let me see if, um… [sighs] You know what, I would ask for the username and password, but I think I’m just gonna use my data breaker. You can kinda just see how I do things around here.

HUDSON: So I roll a Computers check, I’m guessing.

NICK: Yep. This one’s gonna be a hard Computers check.

HUDSON: I have two successes and, [counts], eight advantages, and two threats.

NICK: You ended up with how many successes and six advantages?

HUDSON: Yeah, two successes.

NICK: Okay, so two successes and six advantages, which is ludicrously high.

AARON: [chuckles]

NICK: You’re able to get into the system pretty easily. The biggest hampering factor isn’t the security, it’s the fact that there’s no real interface, so you’re having to do everything through your data breaker, and then also whoever got into this system in the first place did whatever the programming equivalent of laying landmines was. There’s a lot of loops in the code that, if you activate them, start shutting stuff down and messing with things, but you’re able to skip easily past those. You find that there’s a toggle switch somewhere in the programming that basically says ‘Set lighting code to fuck you,’ and you just turn that off. A couple of your advantages are that the spotlight falls on this pink Twi’lek down on the stage and she’s picking her nose.

AARON (as Azul): [scandalized] Oh my god.

NICK: Like everyone stares at her, because she was in the dark, and then pulls her hand away really carefully.

NICK (as Twi’lek): It’s not what you think.

NICK: And stomps angrily across the stage. You still have like infinity advantages. Is there anything you wanna get out of this check?

HUDSON: I turn to my right and there’s a small fridge, and I’m like ooh, so I open it and there’s some sodas.

AARON: [laughs]

HUDSON: I grab a soda, and I’m actually, I have the soda and I open it and it just goes (fizzy splashing sound), and then suddenly it just literally slips between my fingers and lands on the computer, but somehow the liquid that got on the computer, because it spilled, caused me to get further into the system. [laughs] That might be too much for an advantage. It’s really up to you.

NICK: What if you short out something with the soda, but that actually was a security system and now you just have control of the network in here. Does that work for you?

HUDSON: Yes, that sounds great.

NICK: Okay. Great. So, the lights appear to be back to normal. Azul, do you have any sort of reaction to how quickly Tink was able to fix this?

AARON: From this bar attached to the wall, Azul has been watching Tink go through all of these little procedures to get into the computer, and there’s been a variety of reactions. I think getting in, number one, raised Azul’s eyebrows. The second thing that they reacted to was seeing this Twi’lek picking their nose. [laughs] I think Azul made kind of a mental note, like “I need to talk to that person, that is unsanitary and that will not stand, also gross.” Then, I think the third and final reaction was when Tink saw the sodas, opened the sodas and spilled it on the computer. They started to rush over to clean everything up but discovered that it was fine, so now they’re just standing behind Tink admiring everything that’s going on in this mainframe now.

NICK: Very, very cool. Tink, you have complete access to the network. You’re typing away. I think in the past you’ve just always kinda taken the chance to familiarize yourself with systems when you have access, so you can see there’s a little security camera pointed out of the box office towards the street, there’s some lighting controls that are not related to the stage, just to the house lights and things ,and there’s a series of motion sensors that are down below the theater – which is weird – and they periodically look like they’ve gone off lately, but that’s probably just part of the city infrastructure. It’s just a weird thing to have under a theater.

As you’re looking through this and Azul is watching you, the pink Twi’lek stomps back onto the middle of the stage and the rest of the dance squad is kinda scattered towards the wings, and the pink Twi’lek starts to do a warm-up and a dance, and you can tell the leader of the theater is still watching. You can see she’s showing off and that she’s actually dancing the lead part, she’s doing Azul’s part of the dance, just for fun, you know, not trying to make a statement or anything.

AARON: Oh hell no. That’s not happening. No-no-no. Do we have a name for this pink Twi’lek? [laughs]

NICK: [smiling] We could come up with one.

AARON: Oh my god. I have just made a new enemy. No, no one’ staking my dance spot. That is my spot.

NICK: What about Selona?

AARON: Selona is pretty good.

HUDSON: Yeah, and actually, it’s really weird because there’s just a microphone laying by all of us…

NICK: Oh yeah, for sure, you have a PA system for stage direction.

AARON: I think Azul eyes the microphone and then looks back up at Tink.

AARON (as Azul): Do you mind if I use that?

HUDSON (as Tink): Go right ahead. It’s not connected to any of my systems.

AARON: Azul picks up the microphone, taps it twice, [taps his own microphone twice], and in one flurry of words just like a breathless sentence says:

AARON (as Azul): Selona, I see that you need to work on your technique there, it looks a little snotty right now, wouldn’t you say?

NICK: Selona stops mid-revolution. She’s doing the ballet spin that has one leg straight out behind, and it’s really good form, and she stops up on point on one toe and then drops down. She goes to make the rudest hand gesture you’ve ever seen towards the lighting box, and the two of you see a giant sandbag fall from the ceiling.

[intense music begins]

AARON: [gasps]

NICK: Straight down onto the stage. In the process of Selona stepping forward to make a hand gesture at you the sandbag bursts on the stage right where she was standing just a second ago.

AARON: Azul puts their hand over the mic and says:

AARON (as Azul): Oh, holy crap, I didn’t want Selona to die. I mean, it would have been nice, but… What? How did that happen?

[intense music fades]

HUDSON (as Tink): You dirty, dirty dog. I mean, I didn’t think that you’d sandbag someone today, but…

AARON (as Azul): I wasn’t sandbagging somebody! I just wanted to tell them off and give a pithy reply. I don’t wanna kill anybody.

HUDSON (as Tink): Then why’d you launch a sandbag?

AARON (as Azul): I didn’t launch a sandbag! Can’t you see on the computer where the sandbag was launched from? All the stuff is tied to circuits.

HUDSON (as Tink): You’re right. Um…

HUDSON: I start typing. Tap-tap-tap.

NICK: You made this system yours, essentially, so you don’t have to roll for it. As you type away, the spotlights rotate and point towards the catwalk up above the stage, and you see a figure back in the shadows where the spotlights don’t quite reach, for just a second, and then they whip and run away into the darkness above the stage.

[intense music returns]

HUDSON (as Tink): [gasps] It’s the phantom!

AARON (as Azul): I need to go kill—

AARON: Gerard Butler? [laughs]

[intense music fades]

NICK: So yeah, you can run to try to see where this mysterious figure went, but I will need either an Athletics or a Coordination check from both of you to see how quickly you get there.

AARON: I think for me it’s gonna be Coordination, because that’s Agility, I’ve got a 4, and then I have 3 ranks in Coordination. It’s four pows and one hexagon thing.

NICK: [smiling] So, four successes and a threat. [laughs] Cool. Hudson, if you want to do an Athletics or Coordination check against three.

HUDSON: One success and three threats.

NICK: Okay. So, Azul, since you’re using Coordination I think it’s much more of a graceful parkour to get up there. Tink, you were rolling Athletics, right?

HUDSON: No, Coordination, I have nothing in Athletics.

AARON: [laughs]

NICK: Okay, so you’re also parkouring but not nearly as gracefully and Azul quickly outdistances you.

AARON: I think under Azul’s breath they’re just whispering to themselves:

AARON (as Azul): Allegro. Allegro. Allegro.

NICK: [chuckles] So, talk me through. You have to run down a staircase, across a gangplank, through some rafters and then up a rope to get to where this figure was. What does that look like?

AARON: Oh, you said down stairs, across a gangplank and up a rope?

NICK: Yep.

[action music begins]

AARON: Easy! That is easy like Sunday morning for Azul. What they do is they parkour down the rail of this staircase and then they do an aerial over the gangplank thing that you were talking about, so basically they flip themselves forward, no hands touching the ground, and there’s just this slow-motion movement as they’re levitating in the air, you hear everyone just go… [long gasp].

[action music stops]

Everything’s quiet, and as their foot touches the ground on the other side,

[action music returns]

it feels like all the orchestration and heat of the moment comes filtering back in. Then they grab this rope, and they don’t just climb up it, they grab the rope as they’re running and they vault towards a wall and just kind of wall jump (effort noises) all the way up to the top of this rope and land on the catwalk.

NICK: Tink mostly is jogging through this. I think he does one vault where you plant a hand and flip your hands over. You get to this catwalk. You see the figure standing on the very back of the stage in a section that there’s no way to get to, there’s no way the figure could have gotten there as quickly as they did, and you’re about to go after them, but Tink runs up behind you and – you wouldn’t know that it’s new, but his  new mechanical leg shorts out and he collapses into you and knocks you both down to the floor of the gangplank and the figure vanishes.

AARON: Oof.

NICK: Because Tink falls prone. [dramatic bass noise]

HUDSON: [remembering] Oh yeah!

AARON: [laughs] I think, Tink falling on top of me, I think I still do it with a little bit of grace, and as I watch the person ahead of us running away I just look over my shoulder, pinned to the floor with Tink on top of me, and I say:

AARON (as Azul): [strained] I think we’ll have to work on some of your moves, but it looked pretty cool.

HUDSON (as Tink): Thank you. I thought it was very cool.

AARON (as Azul): I wouldn’t say very cool, but we’ll work on it.

HUDSON (as Tink): Nah, we can agree to disagree.

NICK: As you are there you see a little folded up piece of flimsy – which is Star Wars paper – on this gangplank next to you where you have both collapsed to the ground.

AARON (as Azul): What do you wanna do? That could be a bomb.

HUDSON (as Tink): Ooh, ooh, ooh. If there’s one thing I’m not it’s a bomb diffuser.

AARON (as Azul): Hey, how much you wanna bet that this is a bomb, huh?

HUDSON (as Tink): Ooh…

AARON (as Azul): You wanna take that action?

HUDSON (as Tink): I’ll take that action. Yeah.

AARON (as Azul): Alright. What do you wanna bet?

HUDSON (as Tink): Hmm…

HUDSON: I look at my leg.

HUDSON (as Tink): Is this enough to bet my leg.

AARON (as Azul): Yes, I will bet you your leg.

HUDSON (as Tink): No, no. Wait, wait. I probably need that. No, I definitely need that. Um…

AARON (as Azul): Let’s just make it easy. Let’s say 10 Credits.

HUDSON (as Tink): 10 Credits, got it.

AARON (as Azul): Alright, because I saw this in a movie once where somebody  picked up a scrap of flimsy, and they read it, and then at the end of the sentence it blew up. So, it might be ‘nice knowing you,’ but at least I’ll get 10 Credits out of you.

HUDSON (as Tink): Alright, let’s do it.

AARON: And they go to pick up the scrap of flimsy.

NICK: And it does not explode!

AARON: That is bullshit!

NICK: [laughs]

AARON: Aw man. They pick up the scrap of flimsy and they’re just like (gritted struggling noises), and they are unraveling this flimsy but with their other hand they’re taking out their wallet which is probably always on them and mindlessly takes out 10 Credits and throws them at Tink.

HUDSON (as Tink): Whoa. Whoa. A little aggressive there. Just 10 Credits, bud.

AARON (as Azul): Yeah, yeah, yeah. Alright, what’s this say, what’s this say?

NICK: The note is simple. It just says in a frantic scrawled calligraphy, “This theater is doomed if you do not dance my ballet.”

HUDSON (as Tink): That’s ominous. What does that mean?

AARON (as Azul): I think it’s pretty self-explanatory. I think he wants us to dance his ballet or else the theater is doomed. It’s only two sentences. It looks like regular punctuation. Is there any deeper meaning? I don’t know. Do you know any deeper meaning to this?

HUDSON (as Tink): You know, I think it’s a disgruntled ex-balleter, and they had a dream, and that—

AARON (as Azul): Excuse me, it’s balletist.

HUDSON (as Tink): Balletist.

NICK: Fuck. I love balleter so much though. [laughs]

AARON: [laughs]

HUDSON (as Tink): So it was an angsty ex-ballist, and…

AARON: [laughs]

HUDSON (as Tink): …what’s happening here is they wrote what they thought was a seminal just extraordinary ballet to change the face of ballet, or the whatever the moves of ballet, and they probably came and tried to pitch it to different companies, and for some reason something happened and no one got it including this group here. So, maybe they just go from company to company doing this, or they could just be, you know, the disgruntled janitor who just wants to play a little prank.

AARON (as Azul): You know, I gotta say, Tink, I was a little sad that this wasn’t a bomb, but also, that sort of insight and analysis is exactly why I’m excited to be working with you. Typically we would have to find a variety of different clues to track down the motivations and where-tos and wherefores for this dastardly villain, but no, you seem to have determined what it could be pretty easily.

HUDSON (as Tink): Yeah, yeah, you could say I’m a genius. I mean, you should say it.

AARON (as Azul): Alright, you’re a genius. You’re a genius.

HUDSON (as Tink): Thank you.

NICK: [chuckles] And, I think we see Tink and Azul come back down to the main stage. Selona is crying really dramatically with a group of ballerinas around her, comforting her. You really get the feeling that she’s seizing this opportunity for sympathy more than she was super shaken by it. The head of the ballet troop walks her way slowly up onto the stage to be with you all.

NICK (as Chadra-Fan): Well, it looks like we’ve got a bigger problem than just some vandals, doesn’t it?

AARON (as Azul): I would agree. Selona’s technique was just sloppy, and really they should learn how to turn out a bit better. It was very disgraceful. Also, the sandbag was bad.

NICK: [chuckles] Selona lets out a louder wail that sounds more genuine than the rest of them were.

AARON: [laughs]

NICK: The Chadra-Fan shakes her head.

NICK (as Chadra-Fan): Well, never let it be said that Madam Zostra doesn’t care for her dancers. Young man, would you and Azul be able to get to the bottom of this?

HUDSON (as Tink): You know… before I answer that question, I have a much better question. Why in any galaxy, on any planet, would a ballet need sandbags? It’s just dancing!

AARON: [laughs]

NICK (as Zostra): It raises and lowers the scenery.

AARON: Just starts laughing.

AARON (as Azul): This guy doesn’t know why we need sandbags! [laughs] Ah…

HUDSON (as Tink): I mean, it’s not obvious. It was being hidden until it fell.

NICK: The Chadra-Fan also laughs.

NICK (as Zostra): Not everyone can understand the mystery importance of the sandbag to ballet, dear. You must be understanding of outsiders.

AARON (as Azul): Next thing you know he’s gonna ask why a ship has an engine. [laughs]

NICK (as Zostra): Ha-ha! Oh, Azul.

HUDSON (as Tink): I mean, sometimes… Never mind. I was gonna say sometimes about ship magic. I actually maintained a ship for a while with my old squad.

HUDSON: Then I just look into the distance really dramatically.

NICK: [laughs]

AARON: [laughs] Get all glassy-eyed.

HUDSON: yes. I turn and I say:

HUDSON (as Tink): Now, to answer your actual question, I’m on the case.

AARON (as Azul): Um, this is a stage, it’s not a—Oh! I understand. You’re gonna take up the case. We’re gonna work together more~ Aw, this is great.

HUDSON (as Tink): yeah, not literal, dummy.

AARON (as Azul): Ah, sorry, sorry, and my name is Azul.

HUDSON (as Tink): Hazel… Az… A-Azul. Yes.

AARON (as Azul): Ha-HaaAzul.

HUDSON (as Tink): Heh.

AARON (as Azul): Ha-Azul.

NICK: [laughs]

HUDSON (as Tink): Hazul been to any good ballets lately?

AARON (as Azul): Oh, this is great. We can do a two-hander, we can take this on the road. I like this, but we should probably solve the mystery first.

HUDSON (as Tink): yeah. Yeah.

AARON (as Azul): But seriously, we should think about an exclusive run together.

HUDSON (as Tink): Yeah. Are you a little bit country or a little bit rock and roll? Because I can do either.

NICK: [laughs]

AARON (as Azul): You know, I’m a big, I’m a neat freak. I don’t like anyone who’s messy.

[gentle sleuthing music begins]

NICK: So, I think what we see is Azul and Tink working their way through the theater, looking for clues, and they are under the stage and on the sides and interviewing dancers, and we get a quick shot of Azul and Tink interviewing Selona, and Selona shrugging and walking away and Tink having to hold Azul back from punching her in the back of the head.

HUDSON: [chuckles]

AARON: I just think, I think that Azul, like you said, is talking to dancers, is talking to maybe one Gungan about what happened, then they talk to another Kaminoan about what happened, and then when they speak to Selona the questions deviate entirely and are just like:

AARON (as Azul): Why are your jetés so sloppy? Why are you so mean? Why were you picking your nose?

AARON: And just walks away.

[laughter]

NICK: The day coms to a close and you are not able to find this mysterious figure. Madam Zostra approaches the stage where Tink and Azul are sitting quietly, feet dangling over the edge.

NICK (as Zostra): The show opens in three days. Hopefully we’ll have better luck tomorrow.

AARON (as Azul): Yeah, I mean, how long could this possibly take? I think Tink is pretty good at this. Tink, how long does it take to solve a case? Is it like one or two hours, maybe three hours? We should be done soon, right?

HUDSON (as Tink): You know, it can take anywhere from 30 seconds if they just decide to reveal everything very quickly about themselves…

AARON (as Azul): Oh great. Nice.

HUDSON (as Tink): …or it can take all the way up to the last minute before the show goes on.

AARON (as Azul): Whaaat? That’s crazy. Ugh, alright, well hey, if that’s what it takes.

HUDSON (as Tink): Yep, yep, that could be what it takes. I mean, there’s a range, and within that range we will solve the case.

AARON (as Azul): Got it.

NICK: [smiling] And that’s where we’re gonna end the episode.

ALL: Ba-naaa~!

## Outro

LILIT: Thanks for listening to Tabletop Squadron. If you’ve enjoyed our show, please consider logging into iTunes, or wherever else you listen to podcasts, and giving us a review. Good reviews help new listeners find the show and decide if it’s right for them. You can also support the show through our Patreon at Patreon.com/TabletopSquadron. We have all sorts of fun Patreon levels like Tarkin’s Underwear Drawer which gives you access to our secret feed full of bloopers, fun extras, and more.

Azul is played by Aaron J. Amendola. He can be found on Twitter at @ImAaronJ.

{EDIT: new handle, @TurboHoodie}

Tink is played by Hudson Jameson. He can be found on Twitter at @HudsonJameson.

Our game master is Nick Robertson. He can be found on Twitter at @alias58.

Our intro song is Space Jam by Pablo Ribot, and our outro song was performed by James Gunter.

Follow the podcast on Twitter and Instagram at @Tabletop_Squad, and join our Discord at bit.ly/TabletopDiscord where you can share all of your food and cute pet photos with us. We do occasionally talk about Star Wars. See you next time.

Word document download: Interstitials s1- Karma 3- Now THIS is Podracing

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Tabletop Squadron Transcript, Karma Interstitial 1, Part 3: Now THIS is Podracing

Transcript by Tyler (Twitter: @Tyler_MoonSage)

## Intro

NICK: Hi everyone, and welcome to Tabletop Squadron, a Star Wars: Edge of the Empire actual play podcast. I’m Nick, your game master. Every other Thursday, our story follows a thief, a bounty hunter, and a slicer as they explore the galaxy helping a mysterious benefactor and each other.

This week we have the last episode with Karma and Stiro. Playing with Rob was a blast, and if you want to see more of his work and you have a taste for cosmic horror and espionage I strongly recommend that you check out The ORPHEUS Protocol. It is one of my absolute favorite shows. Also, Lilit and I are in the newest arc set in a magically apocalyptic future.

We got a new iTunes review this week. Thank you SparkPlug94. We’re glad you’re enjoying the show, and thank you for the kind review.

Music this week is Found by Shaolin Dub, Chitarradistorta by Nickk Dropkick, and Scheming Weasel (faster version) by Kevin MacLeod under Creative Commons 4 license.

So now, let’s get into the episode.

##

NICK: When we last left karma and Stiro, they had made it to the beginning of the race. They finalized their plans, and we resume with them about to get underway with their plan to make sure that everything turns out exactly as they have foreseen.

NICK: We swipe away to the two of y’all sitting in the stands at the race eating corn, because popcorn is canon in Star Wars now thanks to Disney.

CAMERON: Mm-hmm.

ROB: Hell yeah. Is that a Galaxy’s Edge thing too?

NICK: Yeah. Yeah. So, eating popcorn, and you look at each other and nod, and get started. So, it sounds like the plan was first to sew a lot of discord and then after that to vandalize Sebulba and go from there, right?

ROB: Yup!

CAMERON: Mm-hmm.

NICK: Cool.

ROB: My intent is to use Distracting Behavior, which I have 3 ranks in.

CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: Which is basically like three range bands worth, to just make a scene that is gonna plant the seed for the rumor that I’m going to lie about some short amount of time later.

NICK: Let’s do the roll first on what kind of scene you’re going to make, and then you can roleplay that out based on the results.

ROB: That makes sense, yeah-yeah-yeah. This is going to be… interesting. Are there opposed rolls in this?

NICK: Yep, there can be.

ROB: Okay. I’m gonna make a Deception, but I’m gonna take 3 strain to have everybody in three range bands of me suffer three difficulty.

NICK: [laughs]

CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: On whatever the opposing check is.

NICK: So, what we’ll do is use that to do three upgrades to yours, and then the difficulty will be just average, but it will be a red and a purple, because one of the people who is going to see this is one of the head advisors for the race and they’re smarter than the average person.

ROB: Sure. Normally, my Deception check is two yellow and a green, so three upgrades to that…

NICK: It’s gonna be four yellow, which is obscene.

ROB: What was it you said the difficulty was?

NICK: One red and one purple.

ROB: However, the difficulty is reduced by one from Convincing Demeanor.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: So it’s just one red then. I am never letting one of my PCs get that skill. [laughs]

ROB: [laughs]

CAMERON: I want that talent tree  now.

ROB: Lie good. Convincing Demeanor is the top, too. It’s five points.

NICK: Yeah.

CAMERON: Oh my gosh.

ROB: So that’s what we got, we got four yellow and a red, right?

NICK: Yep.

ROB: Okay. let’s make a scene. Four successes.

NICK: Yeah, you are extremely successful.

ROB: So, I’m literally sweating, like I’m Daniel Day-Lewis into this performance.

NICK & CAMERON: [laughs]

[music begins giving an outdoor sports event vibe]

ROB: I’m sweating. My eyes are bugging out. I’m running from person to person. It’s clear that I have tried to talk reasonably about this already, no matter the fact that this is how I’m starting, everyone who sees it assumes I’ve been at it for a while here. And people aren’t listening to me, and it’s deeply, deeply disturbing me. I look like I’m about to have a heart attack.

NICK: Oh man.

ROB: And I’m saying like…

ROB (as Stiro): Why isn’t anybody listening to me?! This is a huge deal! Do you know how much money is riding on this? And it’s more than money, it’s the future of the sport!

CAMERON: [giggles]

ROB (as Stiro): It’s the future of the sport, and you are—Hey! You! You, you, here, you’re on one of the pit crews, right? Like, it matters to you if this race is legitimate, doesn’t it? It matters to you, right? Right?!

NICK (as crew member): [weakly] Of course. Of course!

ROB (as Stiro): You’d be upset if it was fixed?! Well!

NICK (as crew member): The race is legitimate.

ROB (as Stiro): Why don’t you ask Fizz’s pit crew about what the hell they’re doing?

NICK (as crew member): W-What?!

ROB (as Stiro): Why don’t you ask them about why they were in Pretel’s pit?

NICK (as crew member): What? What are you talk—What?!

ROB (as Stiro): Nobody’s saying anything. Maybe we were wrong to not have CorSec here, I don’t know, but… [huffs and stammers]

ROB: And I’m already moving on to somebody else like I’ve forgotten this guy who I was talking to.

CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: And I just keep going. I’m about to have like an aneurism. [laughs]

NICK: The guy that you grabbed was a Toydarian, so it’s like those floaty people with the bald heads.

ROB: Oh, and it takes him a while to stop spinning? [laughs]

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: Yeah, he’s spinning and just—

NICK (as crew member): I—What? [stammers]

NICK: As that scene’s going a majority of the stands are looking at you, because there isn’t much else to look at. Pit crews are sending people over to go see what you’re talking about. You see someone wearing a Corellian suit with a clipboard look very concerned and start to walk towards you.

ROB: Oh yeah. I do the whole pitch at like 110% intensity to him, because he’s got a clipboard so he is probably important.

CAMERON: [chuckles]

NICK: Yeah.

ROB: So this desperate person is gonna want to talk to him about it.

NICK: [smiling] Yeah, and we’ll cut away with him talking, but he has an earpiece in and is saying:

NICK (as clipboard man): Now sir, if you could stay calm and stop yelling about “a fix.” That’s how people get shot.

ROB (as Stiro): [shouting] I AM CALM!

[laughter]

ROB: Yeah.

NICK: Yeah. And we cut back. Several people run out of Sebulba’s pit, and karma is standing in the shadows of the stands behind, and you’re trying to sneak into the pit?

[sports event music ends]

CAMERON: I am not sneaking.

NICK: Oh.

CAMERON: I am walking with confidence to where it is not a stealth in that no one shall see me, I am shadows, it’s a stealth in “I belong here, you don’t think it’s weird that I’m here.”

ROB: Social engineering.

NICK: Mm-hmm.

CAMERON: Mm-hmm. So, Karma is wearing one of Sebulba’s pit crew’s uniform.

NICK: It definitely has his face on the back of it, like really big.

CAMERON: Oh yeah. It has the fancy Letterman text that says Sebulba above his head.

NICK: Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

CAMERON: Yeah.

ROB: So good.

CAMERON: It’s got his podracer as a patch on the shoulder. Yeah, it’s a legit uniform. She has picked up a metal container that would have some of the fluids that the pit crew would need and is just walking back from the supply area, with that, towards Sebulba’s thing, since it has the chain ropes underneath it, ducks down, steps underneath it, continues, walks over, sets it down on top of a pile.

NICK: Mm-hmm.

CAMERON: Picks up a clipboard, because you look official if you have a clipboard.

NICK: [chuckles]

CAMERON: And starts walking around making checkmarks on the clipboard as she circles the pod.

NICK: Great, so social engineering, do you feel like that’s a Stealth or a Skulduggery, or a Streetwise? What are you going for here?

CAMERON: I would say it’s not Streetwise because I’m not talking to anyone.

NICK: Yeah. Okay.

CAMERON: I think I’m going for Stealth in that no one’s going to remember.

NICK: You’re aiming for unassuming. Okay.

CAMERON: I want… It should be like, it’s just another face, nothing that sets off any alarm bells in anybody’s head. I’m just doing my job, they’re doing theirs, we’re all just going.

NICK: Cool. That’s gonna be a hard difficulty Stealth check. Let’s see how this goes, because there’s only about seven people in this area and two of them are those droids with the little boop noses.

CAMERON: Heh, boop.

NICK: [chuckles] Yeah.

CAMERON: What is my Stealth…? And then I have two blue dice for my Stalker talent.

NICK: Cool. Let’s go ahead and flip a dark side point to upgrade the difficulty by one.

CAMERON: I knew that was happening.

NICK: Yeah. [laughs]

CAMERON: Alright, so that’s a yellow, three green, two blue, two purple, and one red.

NICK: Yep.

CAMERON: That’s a lot.

NICK: Yep.

CAMERON: Oh shit. [laughs] Don’t worry, it’ll be okay.

NICK: Really?

CAMERON: Yep.

ROB: Gulp!

CAMERON: Two successes, an advantage, and a despair.

NICK: Yes! YES! It happened!

CAMERON & ROB: [laughs]

NICK: So, two successes, an advantage, and a despair. How about you use that advantage to give you a bonus to your Mechanics check to damage the thing?

CAMERON: [smiling] Yeah, that’d be a good thing, yeah. Let’s do that.

NICK: Eh, don’t worry about that despair, it’s fine.

CAMERON: Okay, I’m sure it’s okay. [laughs]

NICK: So, you find yourself next to the podracer. No one’s really looking at you. there’s this weird… it kind of looks like a piece of a lamp sticking off the side. It’s probably important, but there’s lots of things that look important on here. What you’re trying to do is damage it in such a way that things go wrong between one and three laps, so you don’t want to just break it, you need it to rattle loose or lose efficiency later and you don’t want people to see it. Seems like a Mechanics check, doesn’t it?

CAMERON: [chuckles] Yeah.

NICK: I’ll give you a blue die, because I’m assuming you looked up how to break a podracer before you came.

CAMERON: [laughing] yes, I did.

NICK: [smiling] Yeah, that seems like a good thing to research.

CAMERON: What’s the difficulty on it?

NICK: We’ll say average. These things are not actually that well put together. They’re basically Bowing engines just duct taped to a chariot.

ROB: Well yeah, especially Sebulba’s, right?

NICK: Yeah. [laughs]

ROB: he’s like, if he were a gamer he would overclock his PC so hard that it melted occasionally and he had to buy a new one.

NICK: Yep. [laughs] Yep.

CAMERON: Alright, we can do this. Karma is not smart.

NICK: She’s okay.

CAMERON: Karma is very average in intellect. This is why she’s not the mechanic. But it’s okay. A success and an advantage.

NICK: Great. You’ll use that advantage here probably in a second. So tell me how do you semi-damage this pod?

CAMERON: So, I’ve been walking around the pod, touching things, jiggling them slightly just to make sure they’re firmly in place, putting a checkmark on my paper, continuing on to the  next thing. Reach the area that has the piece that I’m going for, to knock off, and wiggle it, put a checkmark next to it, and then as I turn hit it with my shoulder to where it’s now oh, it’s no longer sticking out, it’s now dangling, and then continue onto the next piece. Complete my circuit, set the clipboard down, turn to leave.

NICK: Great. You walk up to the chain, and you bump into somebody. Feels about waist height.

CAMERON: [chuckles]

NICK: You find yourself looking at a Dug, a particularly nasty Dug, who says…

NICK (as Sebulba): Ichana naboonga.

ROB: [nervous noise]

NICK: …and grabs your leg with his weird leg hands. He’s speaking Huttese, but we’ll speak in Basic so that the listener can understand.

CAMERON: Karma speaks Huttese.

NICK: Yeah, of course she does, she’s a bounty hunter.

CAMERON: [simultaneously] She’s a bounty hunter.

ROB: Yeah.

NICK: So, he grabs you, and you can feel the force of his grip through the armor that is under your jumpsuit that you’re wearing.

CAMERON: [chuckles]

NICK (as Sebulba): What are you doing? You’re not one of my pit crew.

CAMERON (as Karma): I’m sorry, Mr. Sebulba, sir. I don’t understand you… I’m so sorry. Um, I’m just—Do you, do you need me to get something for you? What… I was gonna go get more oil. Is that…? What do you… What do you need?

ROB: [pleased] Oh god, the language barrier.

NICK (as Sebulba): Eechuta!

CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: And the race is about to start! He literally doesn’t have time! Oh, it’s brilliant!

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: He goes to pick you up, because he’s very angry. You can try and roll a Deception to make him just think that you’re a shitty crew member he didn’t notice before.

CAMERON: Okay. I am going to Deception. I am going to try to Deception. Alright, what is the difficulty for this Deception check against Sebulba?

NICK: I’m gonna say average.

CAMERON: Okay.

NICK: He’s not that smart, and also you can have a blue die for doing the language barrier thing. I liked that a lot. That was cool.

CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: Very, very good.

CAMERON: [giggling] Who expects Nautolans to speak Huttese?

NICK: Yeah, that’s fair.

ROB: Yeah, and well, he’s just crotchety about it. He’s not used to having not his own pit crew.

CAMERON: Yeah.

NICK: The ones that are used to being beaten.

ROB: yeah.

CAMERON: [chuckles] Alright. Four successes.

NICK: Hey! So he 100% buys it. You see him squint at you, and in Huttese he says…

NICK (as Sebulba): Why did I get an intern on my team?

NICK: …and he picks you up and throws you out of the pit, into a pile of crates, and you take 5 damage.

[laughter]

ROB: Wilhelm scream.

CAMERON: I take no damage.

NICK: I’m gonna say you still take 2 damage beyond your Soak—

CAMERON: Dang.

NICK: —from the force of his grip. He has actually bent one of the armor plates in your leg.

CAMERON: Ow.

ROB: Oof.

CAMERON: Rude.

NICK: Yeah. He’s really strong. He drives jet engines duct taped to a chariot, like, that’s—

[laughter]

ROB: His traps are enormous! He’s fucking yoked!

NICK: Yeah. But besides that, he jumps into his pod and we can see people walking across the starting line holding flags for the various pods and they move out to the start. You all regroup. I think you probably jump into a nondescript speeder piloted by Seeley.

NICK (as Seeley): Alright, I guess that’s step one, no one’s dead. Where are we going next?

CAMERON (as Karma): Parsec 7? Whatever the next pit stop is, I guess.

ROB (as Stiro): Yeah. We need to make a small disturbance at Kelbit Fizz’s pit, and then I make the call.

NICK: Cool. We get a circle swipe as the pods are starting up. Right before the doors of the speeder shut, you hear Delbo Dawnbringer.

NICK (as Delbo): [through megaphone] And here we go! The beginning of the Inaugural Circuit, a new dawn in the age of podracing.

NICK: Jing-a-ling-a-ling. Jing-a-ling-a-ling.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: And they’re starting up. Seeley throws it into gear – speeders don’t normally have a stick shift, this one does – and he throws it into gear.

NICK (as Seeley): Man, I’m just like really amped up about racing right now.

ROB (as Stiro): [strained] That’s great news.

[laughter]

CAMERON: Stiro and Karma have switched seats this time around, so Karma’s in the back seat, and it’s the—If you’ve ever seen the movie 27 Dresses, that’s what I’m referencing here.

NICK: [laughs]

CAMERON: She’s a bride’s maid in two weddings and is having to switch back and forth between the bride’s maids dresses. That is what Karma is doing in the back seat as Seeley is driving ridiculously. She’s taking off Sebulba’s pit crew uniform, has her armor on underneath it, is turning it inside out and is putting it back on, and it’s Kelbit Fizz’s now.

NICK: Yeah, so you’re swapping out the jumpsuit, zipping it up—

CAMERON: But flying around the back seat.

NICK: Rattling around.

ROB: Yeah.

CAMERON: At every turn.

NICK: Karma’s leg gets thrown over the front seat into Stiro’s lap, and you notice there’s this weird, long handprint bent into the metal of her leg plate, and then she gets thrown back into the back seat again. We get a swipe of that, and then the next scene is Seeley doing a 270 degree turn into a parallel parking space.

ROB: Oh my god!

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: And he looks up at the roof of the speeder and holds his hands off the wheel.

NICK (as Seeley): Like a glove~

[laughter]

CAMERON: Karma sits up from the back seat and her head tails are like, some of them are falling over her face. It was a rough however long this took to get here, but she looks a bit frazzled from having been thrown around in the back seat.

ROB: Yeah, Stiro looks a little green himself.

[laughter]

NICK: You are able to get out. You are one alleyway away from the back side of the pit crews. So, the next thing we see is you all walking up into a very similar setup. These are like sunken mechanical bays on the side of the road. It’s at the edge of a building sized sewer exit, just this giant tube, and you can hear the sounds of the pods – you have no idea how far away they are…

ROB: Sure.

NICK: …but you can hear them, because they’re in the sewers under the city right now, doing stuff. In the background you can hear the announcer, Delbo.

NICK (as Delbo): And F4-ST, using some illegal razors to get a bit ahead, always love to see that.

CAMERON & ROB: [laughs]

NICK (as Delbo): And Sebulba, in the middle of the pack, strange for him, but otherwise everything seems to be going great at this, the Inaugural Circuit!

NICK: And that’s where the crowd goes (breathy cheering sound). You’re able to walk up to these mechanical bays that are on either side of the road next to this just freaking giant sewer exit. It does not smell good. It smells like wet garbage.

CAMERON: Hmm, shocking.

ROB: So, I think the plan is for me to get on the line with someone who’s involved in the administration of the race, which is something we would have figured out off-screen earlier on.

NICK: Stiro, you have the phone number of one Lisha Quirk. You’re surprised how many favors you had to cash in to get this person’s com number. She is the person managing and running this whole race. You see someone wearing basically cargo pants stuffed with different coms and data pads and what looks like a business woman’s top, and she has a tight braid wrapped around her head, and has a very, very nice data pad and a com earpiece in, and is directing everything from the ground level of this area. She is managing the show, and you have her number.

ROB: I will call her up.

NICK: She answers the phone and just says:

NICK (as Lisha): Go.

ROB (as Stiro): Okay. I’ll try to make this quick. My name is Stiro, Stiro Truthcaller. I’m an investigative journalist. I’m covering the race, and there is a big, big problem. It took me some effort to get this number, but… Kelbit Fizz is trying to spike Mouse Kretel’s pit crew. I saw one of his pit crew interfering with stuff over in Mouse’s pit. I think it may still be going on right now somewhere near camera 2. This whole thing could go up in flames if I’m right about this. I’m praying that I’m wrong, but I saw what I saw.

NICK (as Lisha): Yeah sure. Kelbit Fizz is rigging it. Sebulba killed three people. F4-5T is actually a battle droid brain stuck into a podracer. I’ve heard all these things.

ROB: I’m gonna give the hi sign to Karma to, in the Fizz uniform, make herself conspicuous at Kretel’s pit.

CAMERON: Karma jumps into the pit and is just moving things around, didn’t bring anything additional with her, but is just picking up some carts, moving them to the left, restacking them in a different order.

ROB (as Stiro): But isn’t it egg on your face if all it takes is to check the camera? And tell me that I’m wrong, and tell me that I’m an idiot and I’m wasting your time, and hang up on me. That’s fine, but what if I’m right? I saw it. I saw what I saw. It takes you two seconds.

NICK: You can see her in the crowd. I don’t think you need to roll for this. You have a very good point. She presses a button on a data pad and then looks at the data pad then looks across the street to see Karma and then throws the data pad into a pocket, pulls out a different one, puts another com in another rear.

NICK (as Lisha): Thank you for the service you’ve done to podracing.

NICK: Hangs it up, and starts frantically calling and waving and things.

ROB: [laughs]

NICK: And a bunch of security people are headed towards Karma within like ten seconds.

ROB: yeah. Whatever com contact we’re in I will be like:

ROB (as Stiro): [strained] It’s time to go!

NICK: [laughs]

CAMERON: Karma jumps out and takes off.

NICK: So are you just running from them? Is that your plan?

CAMERON: Moving quickly, but trying to use the crowds as ways to cut off, and is doing the stereotypical spy movie thing where slowly removing pieces of the costume to become a different person in the crowd.

NICK: Nice.

CAMERON: We’re gonna say that surprise, you thought this was a full mechanic onesie, but it’s not! Oh look, the sleeves are velcro and they rip off. That was crazy.

NICK: [laughs]

CAMERON: Whoa, the pants are tear-away pants? How ridiculous. Just slowly shedding pieces to have them lose track, because they’re looking for a Nautolan wearing “this.”

NICK: Right. I’m gonna need a roll.

CAMERON: What roll would that be?

NICK: That feels like Skulduggery.

CAMERON: Okay.

NICK: That really feels like Skulduggery.

ROB: I’m gonna say something real quick here.

NICK: Okay?

ROB: They’re looking for a Nautolan in a pit crew uniform. They’re not looking for a Nautolan helping their idiot Human friend who already got black-out drunk at the event back to wherever he’s coming from. So, I’m again taking 3 strain for Distracting Behavior at three range bands.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: Wow. Okay.

ROB: Giving three difficulty to whatever people are trying to see through her charade with.

NICK: Yeah, so I was going to say it’s hard, but Cameron upgrade that three times, because Stiro is waiting in an alleyway.

[quirky music begins]

ROB (as Stiro): [sniveling, pretending to be drunk] Look, I’m so- I’m so sorry. [sniffs] I’ll make it up to you. I know this is the first one and everything and there’s not ever gonna be another first one, but like, if they do another one it’ll be the second one. And the second one’s not…

CAMERON (as Karma): You’re not supposed to start celebrating until the person you bet on wins.

ROB (as Stiro): The second one’s… I know, I know, but they had, I got on my com, you know, those targeting advertising things. Damn it. I got a two for one deal and I was, you know, I knew you were here but you hadn’t come over to where I was yet and I thought I would just do it again, and I guess I was a little excited.

ROB: I just go in this stream of consciousness thing about like when we were friends as kids and she would always help me when I was an idiot and I haven’t learned a thing since then and blah-blah-blah. I’m gonna get all weepy.

[laughter]

NICK: Alright, roll it.

ROB (as Stiro): [sobbing] What am I doing with my life?

NICK: [laughs]

CAMERON: Two successes and a triumph.

NICK: Okay. My first thought for the triumph is that you get a helpful status update on the situation, which is that these security guards in a group go running by, Stiro convincingly barfs on a wall, and Karma’s just holding him. They run by.

NICK (as security): Oh. Did you see another Nautolan run by here wearing a pit crew suit?

CAMERON (as Karma): No, sorry, I’ve been… dealing with him.

CAMERON: Points at still barfing.

ROB: I’ll like, look up, and like—

CAMERON (as Karma): No, no! Don’t move your head!

[laughter]

ROB: And then, yeah, get a little bit (nauseous sound) again and have my eyes do that thing where they’re trying to clear but they sort of can’t.

ROB (as Stiro): [stammers] I did. I did. She didn’t see, but, because she was helping me walk, but over that…

ROB: I’ll point down the other fork of the alleyway.

ROB (as Stiro): Yeah. She looked like a mechanic was running on that way. I remember it because I thought she was cute, but…

CAMERON: [giggles]

ROB (as Stiro): …I was a little bit drunk, so I didn’t wanna like talk to her because she might get the wrong idea, you know, and you wanna be polite and you gotta be a gentlemen and…

NICK: And they start talking over you.

ROB: Yeah.

[laughter]

NICK: And then you hear them on the coms.

NICK (as security): We’ve lost contact. We’re still looking. Go ahead and do the investigation now. Shut it down. Keep them busy. We can’t allow cheating.

NICK: They go running off, and you can hear Lisha Quirk’s voice just screaming through their earpieces with feedback going:

NICK (as Lisha): WHAT?!

CAMERON: [chuckles]

NICK: So that was very successful, like extremely successful.

CAMERON: Huzzah.

[quirky music ends]

NICK: We get an overhead shot of this race. You have a location on the course with the holo feed of what’s going on, it’s like walking distance, and you’re able to get there and watch the race. The announcer is talking about various things. You can see that there is a separate picture in picture of the F4-ST droid podracer completely off the course, smashing through glass windows and buildings—

ROB: Oh no!

NICK: —and CorSec is chasing it and shooting at it and they’re having a running car chase.

CAMERON: Oh goodness.

NICK: It decided it didn’t want to race anymore. That’s a thing that happened. So, that’s going on in the corner.

CAMERON: Wait. Did they say that was the same manufacturer as the HK-67 series? Oh no. [laughs]

NICK: [laughs]

ROB: This is not a good advertisement for self-driving speeders either.

NICK: No.

CAMERON: [laughs] No.

NICK: But as it’s going, the rest of the pods are up on this small track of city streets. It’s like a bunch of left-right turns real quick between these buildings. There are barricades set up that look like CorSec officers with their speeders just hanging out but are effectively blocking traffic, traffic’s backed up, except for one road where the CorSec officers have left for some reason, so the podracers are having to swerve through occasional civilian traffic and it’s super-duper unsafe.

ROB: [laughs]

CAMERON: Oh no.

NICK: So that’s going on. They go up out of the city, back into the sewers, and then you have that for a few minutes, and you can hear some commentators – not the main announcer – but some commentators saying:

NICK (as commentator): You know, it’s very strange, actually. Sebulba seems to be hanging a lot further back in the pack. It’s like he’s not getting the horsepower you would expect.

NICK: They come out onto this very long drag that goes back to the beginning of the race at the end of the first lap, and this is where Mouse Kretel, the fastest podracer in the circuit, just guns it and slams into first passing everybody, and everyone is super excited and it’s really high energy. As this is going, Sebulba also slams on the accelerator, because he has the second fastest pod, and starts to pass people, and we see from ours, not from the news view, but that rattling piece snaps loose, Sebulba’s power coupler in the middle goes out, and he’s still able to drive with it for a while. We see a zoomed in of silver fox Sebulba with the streaks in his goatee…

CAMERON: [snickers, giggles]

NICK: …just flexing as hard as he can, holding the engine straight just with his weird hand-feet, but just muscles everywhere and he’s yelling as it goes, and then he finally gives out and the engines fly off and he goes skidding in the seat onto the ground. It skids to a stop and he punches the controls.

NICK (as Sebulba): Poodoo!

NICK: And he’s out of the race.

CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: Perfect!

NICK: [laughs]

ROB: Got it!

NICK: Yeah. The race continues on. They finish the first lap. As they are coming in they do pit, because the race is long enough and goes through the sewers that a lot of stuff goes wrong with these exposed mechanics, and as they go into the pit stop Kelbit Fizz’s pit crew is not there.

ROB: [laughing] They’re being questioned.

NICK: Yeah. He has this big diamond face, a round body, little antennas sticking up, otherwise he’s just arms and legs. The pod slows down, pulls to a stop, drops into this mechanical bay, and he pokes his head up, and he looks around, and there’s no one there. From your holo view you can see the pit crew is nearby but surrounded by security, and Lisha Quirk is yelling at them and is brandishing a stun baton and is really intense.

ROB: Shit just got real.

NICK: yeah. She is not happy. So, Kelbit is essentially stuck right now, because he can’t move. He shut his pod down and it takes more than one person to turn one of these suckers on, so he’s just gesturing wildly and the crowd are laughing and throwing stuff at him from the stands.

CAMERON: Aww.

ROB: Oh, poor guy.

NICK: Yeah, he’s upset.

ROB: Well, in some omelets you’re the egg.

NICK: Yep. The rest of the racers all pull in. They have a quick pit stop. They get up and they go. Longtanno, the four-armed, very skinny alien is in a comfortable first place, probably 20 seconds ahead of everybody else, which in podracing is a big deal, and takes off. Quickly afterwards we have a couple of racers unnamed, they’re just people, it’s fine.

CAMERON: How is Toonba doing, though?

ROB: Yeah, I was gonna ask.

CAMERON: That’s the real question.

NICK: So, a couple of the other racers from the pack, not favorites, get up and go 20 seconds behind, and then about 10 seconds behind them Toonba picks up. He probably would have been tied with them, but during the pit stop he jumped out of his pod and stood on the side where the crowd could see him and was hamming it to the crowd and waving at them.

[laughter]

[cheering effects play]

NICK (as crowd): [slowly chanting] Toonba! Toonba!

ROB: He’s just having too much fun.

NICK: Oh, he’s having a blast.

[cheering effects end]

You can see his head of his pit yelling at him, telling him to get back in, and he gets in and shoots a flare gun off that does a little firework and then goes.

ROB: Oh for god’s sake.

NICK: Yeah. He’s having a blast. The rest of the race stays kind of like that. Longtanno is in first. You do get a quick shot of the F4-5T droid being hit with rockets from a battle speeder and exploded in a city square.

ROB: Holy shit.

NICK: Yeah. The walking droid in the pod hops out and starts to run away and is blasted down by CorSec members, so there’s just this flaming wreckage of this pod kilometers and kilometers from the course. It made it pretty far. Longtanno is in a comfortable first. There’s a couple of podracers still in the race, ramming, and then Toonba is taking up the rear. We get past the third lap, and you get an indication on your data pad from Kettle who’s been watching the books. Not all the gambling is through Kettle, but Kettle knows who all of the gambling is going through.

ROB: Sure.

NICK: That confirms that the amount of money bet on this race, which is being broadcasted throughout a big chunk of the galaxy, just tripled with one bet. You assume that would probably be it. All of the odds go wild. They actually have to shut down the betting early because the computers crashed from trying to figure out what happened there. Then, the race continues for a little bit and it continues much the same. Longtanno is in first, there’s a few other racers in the middle, and Toonba is taking up the rear although he’s about joined with most of the rest of the pack. You get a call from our good friend, Mr. Trustbuilder.

NICK (as Cord): So, I noticed that Toonba is still in dead last.

[relaxed jazz music begins]

ROB (as Stiro): As I said, as I said, and you saw me work my magic early on… I want the race to develop naturally for as long as possible so that the strange things that happened earlier on are as far from people’s minds as possible when Longtanno has her unfortunate accident, you understand, with minor adjustments to the efficiency of the other craft.

NICK (as Cord): I see what you’re saying.

ROB (as Stiro): You know the story of the dewback and the womp rat, right?

NICK (as Cord): It’s been a long time since I’ve read fairy tales.

ROB (as Stiro): Heh. The moral of that story is that you don’t need to be the fastest, and here’s the moral that people don’t take but they really should, it’s that it doesn’t matter who’s in first place before the race is over. It only matters who’s in first place when it ends.

NICK: You’re on the com and Karma is loading crates into a really nondescript freighter, and we can see next to that nondescript freighter is a Starwind pleasure yacht which is just the weirdest looking ship. It kind of looks like if you took a flying saucer and duct taped two shipping containers to the side and then stuck the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit in the middle of that, and this one is spray-painted with a military mat black finish and has a pin-up girl on the side and says Afternoon Delight on it.

ROB: [chuckles]

NICK: It’s next to this nondescript one, and Karma is helping load up crates, and there’s some members of the neighborhood family also loading things up and gesturing and yelling, and then we cut back to Stiro on the com as they’re loading things.

ROB (as Stiro): Toonba’s victory has to be a surprise. Having him out in front for any length of time is gonna become farcical with that heap that he’s driving around the track. You understand that. But rest assured, this situation is in the most capable possible hands. I told you how it works. You don’t aim for the center, you aim off to the side a little bit where the targets are softer, where nobody’s paying attention. And there’s another thing that I didn’t tell you before but it’s a sort of core value of how I do business. Any system, be it a casino, a race, a gang, is only as secure as the least secure part, and the least secure part you understand is basically always the stupidest person. That’s how it goes.

NICK: You say that, and Seeley who’s loading crates it like:

NICK (as Seeley): Hey!

[laughter]

CAMERON (as Karma): I don’t think he means you.

NICK (as Seeley): Look, I do my job, and he does this thing about the stupidest member, and he always looks at me, and I don’t appreciate that.

ROB: [laughs]

CAMERON (as Karma): I think he just understands that it gets under your skin and he thinks it’s funny.

NICK (as Seeley): Well, I don’t think it’s funny.

ROB: I’ve got a shitty grin on my face while I go back to my call.

[laughter]

[relaxed jazz music ends]

NICK: They’re still loading things. We see there’s a holo screen in this warehouse that’s still playing the race, and you see Toonba makes a move and comes up with the other few podracers, and there’s three of them, and Toonba and the two nondescript racers are pulling up near Longtanno, and Longtanno is fading as she is very carefully maneuvering through some of these burned out trees. Mouse is tearing up from behind, has been back by Toonba most of the race because her super-fast pod can’t turn very well, and juts ahead, and Longtanno manages to ram her and she hits one of these trees and just goes down in a fireball.

CAMERON: Oh no.

ROB: Oof.

NICK: At this point, there is a little picture in picture of Kelbit Fizz is about two laps behind everyone else, because he was finally released to continue the race because they couldn’t find anything wrong with what Kelbit was doing.

ROB: Mm-hmm.

NICK: So there’s a little one. It’s like in Mario Kart when it’s finished, it’s playing the theme music and he’s trying to do his thing. Longtanno takes out Mouse, and these nondescripts and Toonba are going, and Toonba actually, someone tries to ram Toonba who hits the gas and they go flying off the course and into this dry ravine and they’re stuck down there driving the wrong direction, so it’s down to this nondescript racer, Toonba, and Longtanno, and they’re moving up. The nondescript racer rams Toonba, knocking them over some, and rams them again, and they’re forced to back off a little. We’re coming into the final stretch, and this nondescript racer pulls even with Longtanno and they’re jostling for position.

[relaxed jazz music returns]

ROB (as Stiro): Now imagine how strong and well-guarded and highly scrutinized the center of a system the size of, say, the Galactic Empire must be. Now that thing off to the side that people aren’t paying attention to, heh, and that stupidest person, my dear Mr. Trustbuilder, is none other than you.

NICK (as Cord): Oh kriff.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: So, as he says oh kriff this small, nondescript pod throws on some afterburners, you can see bits of the jets burning away with the force of the acceleration, and actually passes Longtanno. It comes to the finish line, Longtanno in a close second, Toonba… finishing now, just a bit behind, still just gesturing, shooting off the flares and having a blast. You see this just dirty, wearing rags, gutter kid pulled out of the pod and hoisted high by a ragtag band of droids…

CAMERON: Ugh! [laughs]

NICK: …and adults who look desperate, and raised up high. Stiro, you feel almost like you see yourself in that small kid who raced to the finish.

ROB: Yes.

NICK: But that thought is quickly crushed down by the fact that you bet a bunch of money on Longtanno to win.

CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: Yeah… Here’s the thing. We’ve got the 10% cut that we’ve pre-arranged. Yeah, I think we bet the most on Longtanno. I wouldn’t think it was that unreasonable that we covered the spread a little bit…

NICK: Oh yeah, for sure.

[jazz music fades]

ROB: …because we knew there was gonna be this huge influx into a for-sure losing bet, so it’s not like we were gonna put any money on Toonba or Sebulba or Fizz or any of those people. But yeah, we’re not gonna be able to keep our hands on as much as I thought. [laughs]

NICK: Yeah. This one is a hit. It was a big surprise. You put money on there just because mathematically it made sense to.

ROB: Right.

NICK: But it was just racer number 7, this kid didn’t even have a profile filled out, but they won. Seems like their life has been changed. There will be no ramifications for that.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: But the important thing is all of that money that Cord Trustbuilder put into this has now been put into the black market economy. It is gone. It has been taken away from this company, and you have a large influx of it. There was a plan already in place with the bookies that had done this. Part of Kettle’s work was to make sure that money went to the right place. So what happened to it?

ROB: Well, all the money that we could exercise control over is basically deposited as charitable donations to local businesses, charities, any place that is accepting money, which is most places.

CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: The point is we are gonna spread this money around so thinly, part of the whole red string board notepad frenzy was to figure out roughly how much money it costs to pay CorSec people – or occupying Imperial troops, depending on what the situation is – like what the logistical costs of arresting someone and investigating them is, so that every person is getting less money than that, and it’s spread across the number of people necessary to have it be a smaller number than that, so that if the Empire attempts to recoup its money logistically it is foregone that they have to spend more money than they can get back.

[laughter]

NICK: The amount of money in this bet was maybe a billion Credits, so you’ve spread this out over at least a million different businesses and things. This definitely hits multiple cities on the planet, maybe some satellite planets and other causes as well. This has been dispersed very quickly by a team of expert financiers and slicers. It works out really well that Kettle has a lot of cells in different places good at different things, because she was able to help organize this very quickly, once you had pitched the idea to her.

ROB: Mm-hmm.

NICK: So that money is gone. It will cost more to get that money back than it will to figure something else out.

ROB: [heavy, satisfied exhale] I pull out a cigar.

NICK & CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: I cut it with my vibro-karambit with a spin, and I light it.

ROB (as Stiro): [exhales] Thank you for your assistance today, karma.

CAMERON (as Karma): I’m glad that I didn’t have to actually be a good mechanic to accomplish anything that we did today. [laughs]

ROB (as Stiro): [laughs] How does it feel to have cost the Empire at least a billion Credits?

CAMERON (as Karma): I am feeling very good.

NICK: We see Kettle’s gang jump into this nondescript freighter, and we see karma run into the Afternoon Delight. She jumps into the pilot seat, and sitting in the co-pilot seat is the camtono of abyss sea dragon scales, and these two ships both lift off. There is an Imperial flight of TIE fighters flying in towards these two freighters, and you see proximity alarms going off, and Karma’s grip tightens on the steering wheel and Seeley’s grip tightens on his yoke.

CAMERON: [laughing] Oh gosh! They’re letting Seeley pilot the freighter?!

NICK: [smiling] Yeah!

CAMERON: Oh no.

NICK: [smiling] He’s a good pilot. It’s fine. And the TIEs split and go around and you can see them flying towards the main city of Coronet and towards the Serres Super Structure spire. You can see a couple of Lambda shuttles coming to land nearby. As the ships pull up into the atmosphere, they’re calculating the hyperspace jump, and you see stormtroopers streaming into that immaculate lobby where you all had passed just  a day before.

ROB: Ha. I think just before the jump Karma gets a little message on her com that says “Truly a pleasure doing business. We should do this again sometime.”

NICK: [laughs]

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: Karma, do you do a little two-finger salute towards the other ship?

CAMERON: Yup.

NICK: And we see the two freighters snap into hyperspace… and that’s the adventure.

ALL: Ba-naaa~!

CAMERON: Woo!

[laughter]

NICK: [claps] Wow Rob, that was really fun.

CAMERON: [laughs]

## Outro

CAMERON: Thanks for listening to Tabletop Squadron. If you enjoyed our show, please consider logging onto iTunes and giving us a five-star review. Five-star reviews will help new listeners to find the show, and every time we get one the squad adds five pounds to our max bench press. If you’re so inclined, you can also help support the show through our Patreon which can be found in the show notes, on our website, and basically anywhere else we post things. We have all sorts of Patreon levels including some of my favorites: Bantha Buddy, Tarkin’s Underwear Drawer, and Build-A-Beru which all have fabulous rewards and super great names.

Stiro Kuwe is played by Rob Stith. You can find him at @LordOfTheStith on Twitter and on his podcast, The ORPHEUS Protocol.

Karma Nailo is played by me, Cameron Robertson. You can find me on Twitter at @midnightmusic13.

Our game master is Nick Robertson, and you can find him on Twitter at @alias58.

Our intro song is Space Jam by Pablo Ribot.

Additional music by James Gunter.

Follow the podcast on Twitter and Instagram at @Tabletop_Squad, and join our Discord and share all of your food and cute pet photos with us. We also sometimes talk about Star Wars. You can find the link to join our Discord on our website and in our pinned tweet. See you next time.

Word document download: Interstitials s1- Karma 2- Boardroom Maneuvers

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Tabletop Squadron Transcript, Karma Interstitial 1, Part 2:
Boardroom Maneuvers

Transcript by Tyler (Twitter: @Tyler_MoonSage)

## Intro

NICK: Hi everyone, and welcome to Tabletop Squadron, a Star Wars: Edge of the Empire actual play podcast. I’m Nick, your game master. Every other Thursday, our story follows a thief, a bounty hunter, and a slicer as they explore the galaxy helping a mysterious benefactor and each other.

This week we continue to follow the high stakes politics of Karma and her new friend Stiro. This one ran a little long, so we’ll have one more episode releasing next week as well. This one goes in some wild directions and I know you’re going to love it.

I wanna take a minute to address the health crisis that we’re all facing right now. Stay safe out there, squad, and make the best choices you can. We know that this is a difficult time, and we here at Tabletop Squadron are going to continue to release content as quickly as we can. We hope that it provides a bit of distraction from everything going on. If you need a place to talk or a distraction, we’ve got a great group of humans on our Discord who are loving and supportive and have adorable pets. We’re all in this together.

Music this week is Horrible by Mela and Chitarradistorta by Nickk Dropkick.

So now, let’s get into the episode.

##

NICK: When we last left off, Karma and Stiro had just finished getting information out of an admin for Serres Super Structure. They met up at a diner the next morning to discuss their plans and were about to head off to meet their mark.

ROB: I sort of rub my hands together, limber my shoulders up like I’m getting ready to do some sort of exercise or something ,and check my com for the 365th time for the time of the meeting, and make sure that we’re all good for transportation even if something bad happens. We’ll still be there.

NICK: Yeah. So, the meeting, you were very specific, the meeting is immediately after lunch, so this guy’s gonna be full, happy, kind of sleepy.

ROB: Best mood of the day. Yep.

NICK: Yeah. You made sure that happened. You actually had Diana move his lunch up a little bit, because that also makes your meeting look more important.

ROB: Ho-ho.

NICK: I’m just gonna play with these seven successes for a while, because that was very good.

CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: Yeah, I mean, feel free.

NICK: So you have some time to kill. You hang out at the diner for a while, and then a very nondescript speeder pulls up. It kinda looks like a Honda Civic but in Star Wars.

ROB: Sure.

NICK: Plain, not very interesting, doesn’t look particularly broke down but doesn’t look nice, and Seeley Mox, the skinny blonde guy from the club, is in the driver’s seat and he rolls down the window and waves to the two of you through the window of the diner and is gesturing for you all to come on.

CAMERON: Karma throws back the rest of her caf.

ROB (as Stiro): I do believe we are being summoned.

CAMERON (as Karma): Yup.

CAMERON: Gets up out of the booth, adjusts her carbine and sword since sitting with them in a booth is difficult.

NICK: The next question is, how do you two react to being convinced that you’re about to die in a horrible speeder accident? Because that’s how Seeley drives at all times.

ROB: Oh man. I think that Stiro just sits back very steadily and concentrates on breathing, because he’s been in a lot of life or death situations before, from the time that he was little, and I think that he can tell the difference between a life or death situation where decisive action can save your life and a life or death situation where you just have to see how it comes out on the other side, and unfortunately this guy’s driving is the latter.

[laughter]

CAMERON: Karma is sitting in the front passenger seat and is full-on parent energy while they’re teaching their teenager to drive.

ROB: Oh no. [laughs]

NICK: [laughs]

CAMERON: So, is sitting there gripping the center console and the door handle, and any time we take a turn too fast or we start to see a light coming up that we’re gonna need to stop for or another speeder turns out in front of us is like throwing her foot forward where a break would be if she was the one piloting, and is just holding herself into the seat, is not moving at all with the shifts and the fast turns and stuff, is locked in, and just deep breathing but very concerned and very much has the parents’, like, ‘oh my gosh.’

ROB: In one instance do you actually mom arm the driver?

CAMERON: Yes. That most definitely happens.

[laughter]

ROB: Oh god.

NICK: And Karma’s strong enough that probably bruises his chest pretty hard. That happens right at the end as Seeley pulls to a stop. The whole flight, because it’s a speeder so it tends to go up to 50 feet down to street level, is barrel rolls, drifted turns, cutting in and out of traffic, going up on one side of the car to skip between two pedestrians, and Seeley, this scrawny guy with blonde hair, is just whistling a jaunty tune, seems super relaxed.

ROB: Yeah, he’s like an eastern European cabbie.

NICK: Yeah, that’s what I was gonna say, trying to do the taxi thing of like “so, how’s it going, how’s the morning been, saw you got the bright orange eggs, those are fun, those are good,” and everyone is just (rattled fearful inhale).

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: He slams to a stop and drops 15 feet to the street, and Karma mom arms him, knocking the breath out of him.

NICK (as Seeley): [strained] We’re here. Ow… Why?

CAMERON (as Karma): Hey, your head didn’t hit the steering wheel.

NICK (as Seeley): It never does. I’m good at this.

ROB: Stiro checks his time piece and says:

ROB (as Stiro): Well, you certainly did get us here fast.

NICK (as Seeley): And I’ll be here in case you need to leave quickly. I’ll be just looping the block, but I can’t loop the same block for too long because eventually CorSec gets called because of… I mean, it’s not my fault, but I’ll be around. A simple com call, I’ll get you out of here.

ROB (as Stiro): You got it, buddy.

NICK: He hits a button and the doors pop open and the seats angle slightly like the car is encouraging you to leave.

CAMERON: Karma unbuckles her seatbelt…

NICK: [laughs]

CAMERON: …because she was definitely wearing her seatbelt, and calmly gets out of the car. Or the speeder, I guess.

NICK: You find yourselves standing in front of one of Coronet’s many spires. Coronet is the capital city of Corellia. It is basically epitomized by dark industrial slums and factories and these huge, miles-high skyscraper buildings that have really, really, really wide bases, like five to ten city blocks, and go up to almost a point at the top.

ROB: Oh, how perfect, so the offices and such get more and more exclusive as they get higher. As well as just being higher there’s also fewer of them.

NICK: Absolutely! It also lets them build higher.

ROB: Perfect.

NICK: The bases of these, depending on where the spire is, are sometimes surrounded by rundown neighborhoods, places that are used for garbage disposal, and sometimes are very nice streets. This one interestingly has two entrances, because it’s so big. One entrance basically leads to a dump, just like a scrapyard that’s been sunk down under a rundown apartment building, and the other entrance is on a well-lit, brightly white paved avenue with people walking pets up and down it and little decorative trees on the sidewalk. Which side would you like to be dropped off at?

ROB: The money side.

NICK: The money side, great, so then you aren’t faced with a large, mechanical blast door, you’re faced with simple glass shutters that seem to become transparent in front of you, and you walk into this clean lobby. All you have to do is mention your appointment. You’re shuttled into a lift, rocketed up into the sky. You do not go all the way to the top. You are about five floors from the top. You do know the floor below that is where Diana works, and you go up past that, and you are led through a receiving area and immediately into a very nice office with glass windows all the way around, a burnished steel desk, bookcases that have glowing blue panels instead of books – because that’s in Star Wars, that’s a thing they do – and it just looks austere, corporate, organized, and there is no guy in here yet. They just dropped you in his office and he’s not here.

ROB: That’s alright. This is an important guy. He’ll feel more important if he’s a little late.

NICK: Yeah. You have a minute in this office to yourselves.

ROB: Well, due deference would be waiting by the door or whatever, but I fully intend to look at my ease when he comes in and I fully expect that the inside of this office is being surveilled by him or someone who works for him right now, so I am not going to search for anything or do anything untoward.

NICK: Hmm.

CAMERON: Karma walks to the windows, because I’m assuming it has full wall windows.

NICK: Oh yeah.

CAMERON: Since we’re up this high, you want the view. Just goes and stands at the window, facing it, with her hands behind her back in the at-east position and is just looking.

ROB: Yeah. I think security taking a look around is pretty acceptable, but the other businessman should not be dirtying his hands at this time.

NICK: Right. Did you take a seat in front of his desk?

ROB: That’s right I did, yep.

NICK: [grinning] Okay.

ROB: I’ll stand up again when he makes it in here.

NICK: Cool. You find yourself waiting in awkward silence for four, six, ten minutes or so, and a panel slides back on the wall, and you see Cord Trustbuilder walk into the room.

[elevator music begins]

He looks early 30s, he has dark hair that is long, below the nape of the neck, swept back and hair gelled in place, almost like a helmet. He’s wearing a perfectly coiffed suit, but it’s a Corellian suit so he also has like a stole over it that has the logo for Serres Super Structure on it which is like interlocking stars. It’s like the lapel of the suit is actually like a scarf or a stole thing hanging down. He strides up to you and says:

NICK (as Cord): Ah, if it isn’t my sudden reschedule. My name is Cord, Cord Trustbuilder. Nice to meet you.

ROB: Of course I have like liquidly gotten up out of the chair to stand square right across from him. I return the handshake hardily.

ROB (as Stiro): The name’s Stiro, Stiro Waybridger. It’s really good to see you in the flesh.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK (as Cord): Waybridger? I know a Waybridger. Were you involved in that shipping skidoo over by Coruscant a couple of years ago?

ROB (as Stiro): Well, I’ve got a big extended family. You know what they say about those big Corellian families, but I’ve got wide-ranging business interests which is why I am suddenly on your schedule as you so astutely mentioned.

NICK (as Cord): Yeah, you know, it’s the kind of thing where, when I see something rearranged like that, if I didn’t know Diana had my best interest at heart I’d be a little suspicious, but no reason to be, obviously, just two business men having a time.

NICK: He is steadfastly not acknowledging that Karma is in the room.

ROB: Right.

NICK: Like, it hasn’t even occurred to him.

ROB: She’s the help.

NICK: Yeah. She’s just there. What could it be? He slides behind his desk. His desk chair is one of those swivel chairs with the large leather back and the blinders that stick out of either side of the chair. It’s completely silent when he sits in it, which is weird because it’s leather, it’s super nice. He laces his fingers in front of him.

NICK (as Cord): So, what brings you on my schedule?

CAMERON: As soon as he sits Karma turns to where she is now facing him but he is now facing away from her, but so that she can see Stiro if any communication needs to happen between the two of them.

NICK: Nice.

ROB (as Stiro): Well you see, I had a serendipitous meeting with your assistant, Diana, at a mid-town establishment last night, and we got to talking about some shared experiences in the world of business and the theme of our intercourse was a reticence on the part of upper management types to seize opportunities when they present themselves, kind of an entrenched risk-averse attitude that’s not particularly conducive to growth.

NICK (as Cord): Uh-huh! Uh-huh!

ROB (as Stiro): Even though growth is the life blood of businesses of this size as you well know. Look how young you are. You got here by taking risks when they make sense to take. I do admit to have done a little bit of homework on your career. It’s a fascinating read.

NICK (as Cord): Well, I mean, it’s all in Business Monthly. I’m an open book.

NICK: He pounds his hand on the desk and two fat cigars stick straight out of the material and he grabs them.

NICK (as Cord): Do you smoke?

ROB (as Stiro): I surely do.

ROB: When these cigars appear Stiro allows a child-like grin of glee.

CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: Like a completely guileless “ooh, that’s fun” look on his face before reassuming the business thing, because it’s important to Stiro that Cord feels like he is impressing me, like I am impressed by his office, I’m impressed that he made me wait ten minutes, this little trick with the desk, this is all so cool to Stiro.

NICK: He puts the tips of the cigars down on the desk, the desk glows in a circle of bright orange for a second and lights them, and he flips one around to hand it to you and sticks the other one in his mouth and starts puffing on it very noisily.

ROB: Yeah.

NICK (as Cord): So we’re talking about risk, right? So, that’s a lot of words. What are we talking about here?

ROB: Out of character, what’s the name of this gigantic pod race that’s coming up?

NICK: Ooh…

ROB: Because there should be a sexy name for it, right?

[elevator music fades]

NICK: I agree. So, everyone has just been calling it the Inaugural Circuit, because pod racing has actually been out of favor for quite a while. This is the first pod race that will have happened in Corellia ever, and the marketing in the underworld – because pod racing’s not technically legal – the marketing has been huge to where everyone knows about it because they’re trying to bring pod racing back, so it’s just been called the Inaugural Circuit.

ROB: So it’s not technically legal. Does that mean that literally this high profile race is being carried out illegally essentially as a marketing campaign to convince big business that the sports betting market is worth legitimizing with their money?

NICK: Yup.

ROB: That’s so great.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: Yep, and you would know, because you’ve been involved in some of this, there have been massive bribes paid to CorSec, which is the Coruscant Security Core, it’s their police, to close off certain areas at the right time and not arrest anybody.

ROB: Yeah, they’re gonna avoid the track like the plague that night.

NICK: Yeah. Well, the track is the city, so that’s gonna be really fun.

ROB: Right, well…

CAMERON: [chuckles]

NICK: Yeah, but it’s the kind of thing, they’re trying to demonstrate the profitability and get it made legal enough and to get public interest big enough that they can get more of these races started, so it’s this fine balance.

ROB: Well, and it makes sense that you want the Corellian Sports Authority to walk back this pod racing ban, because as the shadow of the Empire grows deeper and deeper on Corellia you need bread and circuses, right? You need more distracting, fun entertainment for people to keep them from thinking about how maybe life used to be a little better.

NICK: Yup. So, it’s an opportunity that has been very much seized on by certain people to try and do this and get a pretty big slice for themselves. Kettle has not been directly involved but has helped facilitate some of the things that made it even possible.

ROB: Sure. Sure.

NICK: So you’re tangentially involved in the situation already. But yeah, it’s called the Inaugural Circuit.

ROB: Inaugural Circuit, awesome. Okay.

ROB (as Stiro): Now, Mr. Trustbuilder, between you, me, and the ears of God, what’s your opinion of the fine sport of pod racing?

NICK: His eyes light up and he takes a very long pull on the cigar.

NICK (as Cord): Pod racing… Now, that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long, long time.

CAMERON & ROB: [laughs]

NICK (as Cord): I like pod racing. I think pod racing is very cool. I used to hear stories about it from my dad back in the day.

ROB (as Stiro): So I think it’s safe for me to assume that you have at least heard something about a little event coming up that prefers to be known as the Inaugural Circuit.

NICK: He actually sets his cigar down on something you didn’t notice before but it’s like a built-in ramp ashtray type thing on the desk.

NICK (as Cord): Now, me being an upstanding and law-abiding citizen of Corellia wouldn’t know anything about an illegal race like that.

ROB (as Stiro): That is a damn fine answer.

[laughter]

NICK (as Cord): Especially not an illegal race that would be a course unparalleled in the sport going through the sewers, the main street, and circumnavigating the entire city of Coronet. [grinning] I wouldn’t know anything about that.

ROB (as Stiro): No. [chuckles] And let me tell you, Mr. Trustbuilder, it is an exciting thing to not know anything about, particularly at this time.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK (as Cord): Now, why would you say that?

ROB (as Stiro): Well, a few different little birds have been speaking to me lately about the betting pools that are already starting to make waves surrounding the Inaugural Circuit. You see, it’s not just my people who are interested, pretty much every investor worth his salt who’s not too afraid, you understand, is very interested in seeing what they can make happen in the betting halls, which are not only centralized but in satellite locations around Corellia, you understand. Astronomical numbers of credits moving fast and moving quietly. Now, you can ask sports analysts – not from here of course, because we don’t do pod racing on Corellia – but you can ask sports analysts who is the smart money to bet on, who is maybe a dark horse to win, but what if all that uncertainty were to be removed?

NICK: He places his hands flat on the desk to either side.

NICK (as Cord): That sounds like cheating.

ROB (as Stiro): I ask you this. Is it possible to cheat in a sport that’s not officially sanctioned by the Corellian Sports Authority?

NICK (as Cord): Yes.

ROB: Fuck.

[laughter]

ROB (as Stiro): We’re in a unique position to make a first impression of how the sport will be conducted on this world. Who is to say we don’t set a few things up to funnel the chaos in directions that we favor? That’s what Black Sun is doing on Corellia right now.

ROB: I give him a very significant look.

NICK (as Cord): Black Sun? You know, I just had dinner with the Commissioner of CorSec last week and I was assured that Black Sun doesn’t exist in Corellia anywhere.

ROB (as Stiro): I could think of no better advertisement for my effectiveness in my job than that.

NICK (as Cord): You make a fair point. Waybridger… Waybridger, Black Sun, pod racing… I’m beginning to see exactly what you’re telling me, but I don’t understand exactly what my opportunity would be in this situation.

ROB (as Stiro): Well, I forget my manners. Let me introduce you to my cousin. Her name’s Kizmet.

CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB (as Stiro): Before you bring up the lack of family resemblance, you understand, she’s my cousin, a close cousin of mine in the family that matters.

NICK (as Cord): Oh, I think I understand perfectly.

CAMERON: While this conversation is happening Karma has come up behind him, and so when Stiro says “let me introduce you to my cousin” and directs towards Karma she is suddenly so much closer than she was when he sat down in his chair.

ROB: [laughs]

NICK: You’re pulling a Batman.

ROB: Mm-hmm.

CAMERON: Yes. I have arrived, still standing at ease, no real facial expression. When he turns to look at her, nods, but doesn’t say anything.

NICK: Cord was so entranced by Stiro’s pitch that he had completely lost track of where Karma was, so he doesn’t see her, sees Stiro’s gesture, goes to turn his chair, bounces off of her, leans back in the chair, looks up, goes very pale for a second, like one bead of sweat, and then regains his composure.

NICK (as Cord): Oh, well, I do apologize, I didn’t introduce myself before. I just thought you might be a bodyguard. My apologies. My name’s Cord, Cord Trustbuilder.

ROB (as Stiro): We do things a little bit differently in Black Sun.

NICK (as Cord): What do you mean by that?

ROB (as Stiro): it’s all family. My cousin here can be very persuasive in her way, and she is but one part of the operation that I am running to change this sporting event from what it appears to be on the surface into the greatest return on investment possible in the Corellian economy. I have here for you the odds as the bookkeepers are currently publishing them.

ROB: I will bring up on a com dossiers of all the drivers and their professional records, any amateur accolades, things like that.

NICK: Cool. We get a spread of dossiers. You set your com on the desk and the whole desk becomes a screen and all of these dossiers flow out. We see pages of things, and a quick smattering of the people that you might see sitting on this desk. You see a female Xexto, which are super skinny, have four arms and big old black eyes, named Longtanno with a very safe looking pod racer with lots of safety things on it. You see Kelbit Fizz, a male Toong, the grandson of Ben Quadrenaros from the Bunta Eve Classic. He looks like a cartoon diamond-shaped face with arms and legs sticking out of him.

CAMERON: [snickers]

NICK: You see what just looks like a pod racer with a head sticking out of it that’s a droid and it’s all black with red under-lighting that just has the designation F4-ST. There are some other ones, but you also see an aging Dug, which are the walk on their hands aliens—

ROB: Hell yes!

CAMERON: Oh-ho-ho…

NICK: –with a long goatee with an X-shaped pod race behind it, and it is Sebulba—

CAMERON: Yesss.

NICK: –back from retirement, competing in this race.

CAMERON: [giggling] Oh, I’m so excited.

ROB: Old Sebulba. Silver fox Sebulba up in here.

[laughter]

NICK: So, you see Sebulba’s picture with his graying skin and goatee, and his odds are pretty good but not as amazing as they used to be because he’s been out of the game for a long time. They brought him back special for this race to boost visibility. You see another racer who is Toonba, a male Ortolan, which is the stuffed animal elephant looking guy from Jabba’s palace.

ROB: [breathy laugh]

CAMERON: [chuckles]

NICK: He is a famous actor in a holo-drama series across the galaxy who races as a hobby and to boost his notoriety. He drives a very specific pod that is maximized for surface area, not for speed, because it’s covered in advertisements for various things. On the cockpit of his ship is a giant picture of his face.

CAMERON: He good.

ROB: The Endorsement-mobile.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: Yup. He tends to drive pretty slow and carefully. Toonba has won a couple of pod races in the last few years by accident, because everyone else blew up. So, those are a few of the racers that are in this race. There’s about eight total, I’ve told you about five-ish.

ROB: Sure. I will wait a respectful amount of time for him to digest the information that I’ve displayed, and I’ll say:

ROB (as Stiro): Now Mr. Trustbuilder, if it was you and you wanted to turn this gamble into a certainty, how would you go about it?

NICK (as Cord): Well, I’d probably make sure that droid racer has an accident. It seems like it’s too good for its own good, and I think honestly it ruins the sport.

ROB (as Stiro): And see, with all due respect, that’s what the people organizing the race are looking for. You can’t directly sabotage a driver, or bribe a driver to throw the race, or anything like that. They’re worried about that 25 hours a day, 329 days a year. But here’s the thing about worrying, you can only worry about so many things, it drives you crazy. All eyes are square on these racers. Look to the side a bit. What do you see? The pit crew. Nobody cares about the pit crew, it’s not exciting. Only a rarified subset of the viewership even appreciate the artistry of what goes on in the pit with maintenance.

So here’s what we did. The personnel concern that staffs these pit crews, we bought it. The shipping company that supplies the tools, fuel, other sundries for maintenance, we bought that too. Nobody batted an eye, all part of corporate acquisition, shell company buying a shell company of a shell company, you understand. And so, let’s think about the Inaugural Circuit for a second.

It’s a long race, a lot of pit stops. Even the most efficient racer in the whole caboodle is gonna be making five, six stops over the course of the event. Now, if a mechanic or two happens to develop a nervous case of butterfingers at a really unfortunate time…

CAMERON: [chuckles]

ROB (as Stiro): …or the wrong grade of transmission fluid accidentally gets shipped to one of the pits and poured into the unfortunate engine of a racer that we don’t want to win, or there’s a delay in one of the mechanical shuttles that moves the pod racer into position for a certain maintenance thing, or a wiring problem suddenly develops… these things scattered thinly enough across the entire event can guarantee an outcome without the appearance of anything but garden variety rotten luck. We’re not gonna have the lowest C racer win the whole thing, we’re gonna have someone who probably wasn’t gonna win but has been seen to win in the past walk away with it, and what a story it will be in the mainstream media when Toonba is given the victor’s crown.

NICK (as Cord): Toonba?!

CAMERON: [chuckles]

ROB (as Stiro): That’s right.

NICK (as Cord): You know, I was at the Mon Cal underwater event where he won by accident.

ROB (as Stiro): See? It can happen.

CAMERON: Karma leans forward over the desk and presses on Toonba’s dossier, and it opens up more fully and shows his win-loss record. He’s actually pretty good.

NICK: Yeah, but it’s mostly really small circuit things that he’s won.

CAMERON: Yes, but the numbers are there.

ROB: And that’s what’s gonna be on the news.

[laughter]

NICK: So you look at the win-loss ratio, and you point at it.

CAMERON: And get up in his space as I lean over the desk as well.

NICK: He awkwardly does that thing where he scooches his chair sideways a little bit.

NICK (as Cord): No see, you’re saying that this is believable, but if you expand it…

NICK: He touches it and pulls it out.

NICK (as Cord): Look, Toonba only wins enough minor league races to get to the big ones and then he doesn’t do anything there. You think this is believable? Pod racing aficionados will know the fix. I don’t know how you’re gonna pull this one off.

ROB (as Stiro): Well, as I said, the very involved processes of over the course of the event maintenance are just going to… break, in a certain racer’s favor, well and anybody who’s coming in place behind him, it’s all fine for us you understand. We’re only really going to need to affect three or four racers to guarantee the outcome that we need.

NICK (as Cord): It’s a good field. It is a good field.

ROB (as Stiro): Think about Toonba. You’ve seen him on the holo-dramas, right?

NICK (as Cord): I love him on Sands of Tatooine. I’m going to admit Sands of Tatooine is a guilty pleasure of mine.

CAMERON: [chuckles]

ROB (as Stiro): If he wins this thing on accident he is going to believe in all his heart that he won it because of his own determination to win and his guts and his spirit and his drive. He’s gonna do half the work for us, and people are going to believe him because he is famous and beloved.

NICK (as Cord): It’ll be a real shame when Sebulba rips his blue elephant head from his body.

ROB (as Stiro): He might get a slap on the wrist ,a little fine or something like that, but each one of his media appearances, his talk show appearances coming off this thing is gonna pay him twenty times what he has to pay CorSec, you understand, and this well-loved public figure being the name closely associated with the race legitimizes it further. It guarantees the success of the grassroots movement to legalize the sport on Corellia, and nobody needs to know that the first one was all a show, except for those who got rich from it of course. What’s the best return on investment you’ve ever made on a legitimate business deal, Mr. Trustbuilder?

NICK (as Cord): Legitimate? Uh, let me redo the math in my head there.

CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: I’ll smile. [laughs]

NICK (as Cord): Fifteen percent got me to this office.

ROB (as Stiro): I’m offering you 115. It’s actually 125, but we’re taking a 10% cut. You understand, this isn’t a charity.

NICK (as Cord): You’re talking a good talk, I’ll admit, 115, I could do a lot with that. I could buy my own spire at that point, but I don’t know about working with Black Sun.

NICK: He tries to push back from the table and bumps into karma and kinda freezes for a second.

NICK (as Cord): That seems a bit overt for my taste. I think I might need to ask you to leave.

CAMERON: Karma does not move, and actually scoots forward slightly so his chair is pushed back in.

NICK: [laughs]

ROB (as Stiro): Don’t get us wrong, Black Sun is who it takes to make this happen. Kizmet here is gonna be on the ground during the race making sure that nobody in those pits or in those betting locations gets any second ideas or squirrely thoughts in their heads, and when it comes to changing hearts and minds, or violently ejecting them from the bodies in which they previously resided, you couldn’t ask for better.

ROB: I just give him this big shit-eating grin.

NICK: [laughs]

CAMERON: Karma smiles at him. [laughs]

NICK: He’s now forced to deal with the fact that the person he’s talking to is in front of him and the person threatening him is directly behind him and trying to look back and forth, and looks like he throws a muscle in his neck doing it.

NICK (as Cord): So far you’ve talked a pretty good game, but all you’ve done is talk. I’m not betting at the beginning of this race. I want evidence that this is going to work out the way you say it is.

ROB (as Stiro): I wouldn’t dream of asking you to do that. Please. I don’t even want the appearance of coming in here trying to scam you out of your money. That’s not what I’m about.

NICK (as Cord): It’s good to hear you say so overtly. I actually feel much better.

CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB (as Stiro): The betting window is open until the halfway point of the race, or I should say when the first racer reaches the halfway point. Our calculations put that around about the third lap is when the odds start to flatten and really stop being so turbulent. Profitability goes down, predictability goes up, you understand. If you are willing to bet before the third lap concludes we can get you your return on investment. That figure that I quoted to you before was not about making a bet, sight unseen, right now with no reason to trust me beyond my winning demeanor. You didn’t get this far making THAT level of risk. And if I’m not too bold to say it, at your age, being by my count five floors from the top of this magnificent structure, you don’t get that far that fast if you’re aiming for five floors from the top. We know where you’re aiming, and we wanna help get you there, because it’s gonna get us where we need to go too.

ROB: I think at this point I’m gonna do my Biggest Fan action.

NICK: Oh-ho-ho!

CAMERON: Heh-heh-heh.

ROB: My capstone ability, once per session, make a three difficulty Charm check to turn one NPC into the character’s biggest fan. So, I am going to remove a rank of difficulty.

NICK: Oh man.

ROB: Killing with kindness, so it’s actually a two difficulty check.

CAMERON: [chuckles]

ROB: And what does Force and destiny points do again?

NICK: You can upgrade an ability check for flipping one over, so you could turn a green to a yellow or if you have all yellow you could add a green if you wanna.

ROB: I’m gonna do that.

NICK: Okay.

ROB: This is for all the marbles.

[laughter]

NICK: Oh, uh, it’s actually two reds instead of two purples. I forgot to mention that. This guy is very good at not being persuaded.

ROB: Oh, he’s like a more significant ‘dude?’

NICK: Yeah. Yeah.

ROB: Okay. So, yellow-yellow-yellow, green, red-red.

NICK: Yep.

CAMERON: Yup.

NICK: I will give you a blue die for how much has gone into setting this guy up, and also for Karma, just, he is very uncomfortable with this situation at this point. [laughs]

CAMERON: [chuckles]

ROB: That is three successes and two advantages.

NICK: Damn! I wanted a despair so bad.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: I wanted you to succeed and have a despair. That’s okay. Yeah, so, this guy gets a big smile on his face and he picks the cigar back up and sticks it in his teeth.

NICK (as Cord): Alright, no kriff, I think this is something that we can do. What I need is you to tell me two things that are gonna happen before the second lap. Those two things happen, I bet an unconscionable amount of money.

ROB (as Stiro): That is what I like to hear. Kizmet, that’s great to hear, isn’t it?

CAMERON (as Karma): [flatly] It’s fantastic.

NICK: [laughs]

ROB (as Stiro): [laughs]

CAMERON: Still standing right behind him, doesn’t move.

NICK: A question for y’all. Who do you want to win?

ROB: Oh, that’s a good question. Who DO we want to win? Because it’s obviously not actually Toonba, we just want his money.

NICK & CAMERON: Yeah.

ROB: And then we’re doing actually a similar middle of the pack, it’s a person on one side or the other of him in the odds. Who’s a respectable racer who is not this guy? [laughs]

NICK: The other two I have designed are Longtanno, who is probably the best odds to win, she drives very safely and usually finishes in the top three but rarely wins.

ROB: Ohh.

NICK: And then Mousecratel is a female Alina, which is kind of like a little mini dinosaur with a triangle head, and has the largest pod racer that goes the fastest but has terrible stats at everything else.

ROB: Right, bad cornering and stuff, which is not good for…

CAMERON: A city race. [laughs]

ROB: Like, basically she’s gonna try to make up a huge amount of, uh, there’s one huge straight away, right, in the race?

NICK: Mm-hmm.

ROB: She’s probably not even aiming for first. She’s probably like I’m gonna place by just burning past people on every lap, right here, and then just eating shit the rest of the way.

NICK: Her real plan is to try to set the land speed record. [laughs] That’s what her goal is.

ROB: Right. It’s an advertisement for herself on other races.

NICK: Yeah, for sure.

ROB: Which makes sense. So yeah, I think—What was the one who drives safe and gets like top three?

NICK: Longtanno.

ROB: Longtanno’s gonna win.

NICK: Okay. So jumping back into it, he demanded: What are the two things that are gonna happen that will prove to me that the fix is actually on?

ROB (as Stiro): Now here are the two things that you can take to the bank, Mr. Trustbuilder. Sebulba is not gonna be finishing first in this race.

CAMERON (as Karma): Sebulba’s not going to be finishing this race.

CAMERON: Says a creepy voice from behind him. [laughs]

NICK (as Cord): Oh?

ROB (as Stiro): Thank you. Yes. That’s a much better way of putting it. He’s gonna have a very unfortunate technical accident, before the betting window closes, that removes him from the running. Now, he has a great record, don’t get me wrong, he’s a celebrity they brought out of retirement to legitimize this thing, but he does have a history of bullying his pit crew pretty horribly and favoring pushing things to their limits, favoring power, speed over safety. It works out for him, he’s a good driver and he has a powerful machine, but once in a while something goes wrong, and the Inaugural Circuit will be one of those times that something goes wrong and it’s going to go very, very wrong for him.

I expect he’ll be okay, maybe his brain will get a little bit rattled or something like that, but nothing catastrophic. He’s not gonna be a concern. That’s before the betting window closes. There’s a huge tumult in the betting market at that point. Fortunately you already know what’s gonna happen, so that uncertainty doesn’t need to worry a single hair on your head.

The second thing that’s gonna happen is the pit crew of Kelbit Fizz is going to experience an unforeseen delay. Security staff at the event are going to investigate a possible cheating scandal, some kind of sabotage of another racer. We can’t have that, we’re trying to legitimize the sport after all, and that pit stop that he takes that just keeps going on and on and on like you’re waiting at the space port and your ship is delayed for the third time in a row, and… he’s also out of the running. These things I promise you before the end of the third lap, and by our calculations we only really have one more big move to make towards the end of the race to give Toonba his crown.

NICK (as Cord): Well I gotta say, the more you talk the more of a fan of yours I become.

CAMERON: [giggles]

NICK (as Cord): I’m really appreciating this strategy. I can really see myself buying a planet from this plan.

ROB: [laughs]

ROB (as Stiro): It’d look good on you. You got where you were by taking smart bets, and I got where I am by making mutually beneficial relationships.

NICK (as Cord): If those two things happen you’ll get your 10%. Now if you don’t mind, I really have enjoyed our conversation…

NICK: He throws the cigar towards a panel in the wall, it hits it and just vaporizes off the panel.

NICK (as Cord): …but I do have the head of the Chamber of Commerce coming here in a minute, so, if you could—

ROB (as Stiro): Oh, surely, surely. I understand. Do you mind?

ROB: I make as if to throw my cigar like a dart.

NICK (as Cord): By all means. That’s why the panel’s there.

ROB: I throw it, and when it vaporizes I do another, like, [giggles], like oh that’s so cool.

NICK: [laughs]

ROB: Just  another completely guileless joy reaction. One little cherry on top of the disarmament sundae before I say:

ROB (as Stiro): Kizmet, I think it is time we took our leave.

CAMERON: Kizmet—[chuckles] Kizmet, I’m gonna call her Kizmet now. Karma nods and steps away from Trustbuilder’s chair, and still has her hands behind her back, and walks towards the door. I think it’s the first time that Trustbuilder realizes how heavily armed she is, because she has both her vibro-sword and her carbine on her back, and at least one light blaster on her hip and a vibro-knife sticking out of a boot.

NICK: [laughs]

CAMERON: And that’s the weaponry you can see.

ROB: When I reach the door I’ll look back at Trustbuilder, give him the finger guns.

ROB (as Stiro): Knock ‘em dead, Mr. Trustbuilder. We’ll be in touch.

NICK (as Cord): I should be wishing you the same thing. Now, go on and get out of here. I’ll see you at the celebration party.

NICK: As you walk out you see someone dressed in what looks like flowing ivory robes with a very weird, it’s like a fedora hat on, and they have a monocle, and they go walking into the room.

ROB: Oh, Stiro’s body language instantly switches to like stick up the ass, 1000% business. He’s not a casual criminal guy anymore, he’s a legitimate business man who had an important meeting a second ago. Maybe it didn’t even go that well for him. We’re gonna give the impression that this guy drives a hard bargain.

CAMERON: [chuckles]

NICK: The head of the Chamber of Commerce looks sympathetic and tips their hat.

ROB: I’ll give them a little solemn nod.

NICK: And brushes past you into the room, and you hear them go:

NICK (as CoC Head): Cord~!

NICK: And you hear Cord go:

NICK (as Cord): Ahh, the Commissioner~!

NICK: And the door shuts behind you to hobnobbing. And with that scene set, I think we’re going to move ahead to the day of the race. If there’s anything preparatory-wise that comes up that y’all would have had done we’ll just do it in a quick flashback and keep moving.

ROB: Sure.

NICK: So, the things that you need to achieve is before the third lap you need to sabotage Sebulba’s racer, probably at the beginning of the race if not the first pit stop, and you need to spread a terrible rumor about Kelbit in enough time for them to all show up, and then you potentially may wanna do something to make sure that Longtanno is going to win, because if not it could come down to a Force roll and you may end up that the money is gone but not necessarily to you, which could be an issue.

ROB: Yeah, that is true. God, this is so perfect too, because we’re gonna make a shitload of money on our improbable bet but like lots of other people who are not good at betting will also make a ton of money.

[laughter]

NICK: So, I think we’re gonna cut to the race. Do you think you’re going to sabotage Sebulba before or during the race?

ROB: Hmm.

CAMERON: I think that Sebulba has… since he is well-known for wandering about the other pods before the race starts to do all the shit that he’s gonna do to them, the start of the race.

ROB: Oh yeah. He’s gonna mark territory, try to scare people, just be an asshole.

CAMERON: Yeah. The start of the race might be the best time to do it because that’s when he’s gonna be paying the least attention to his pod racer, and there’s the most people walking around.

ROB: And his pit crew are probably taking that moment to be like, oh thank god, he’s not here right now, he’s not gonna slap me.

CAMERON: Yeah.

NICK: [laughs]

CAMERON: And there’s enough people moving around that with all of the pit crews for the eight different racers that having us being out there isn’t gonna make a big impression.

NICK: Cool. Let me set this racing scene here. The Inaugural Circuit pod race is starting about five kilometers outside of town. There is a swampy flat land with broken trees sticking up out of it. This is starting at dawn, so the sun is below the horizon still. There’s a smoggy gray light coming up over the horizon. There are stands that have been setup. There are people everywhere. They’re excited but still a little sleepy, and you see a Devaronian announcer on a high tower by the starting line.

The pits here, these are like the starting pits and then the main pits are further into the city near a sewer entrance, so the pit crews are going to have to make sure everything’s ready and then very quickly move to where they’re needed for the rest of the race, but it’s for a great dramatic start so they couldn’t talk them out of it. The announcer is a Devaronian male with long horns that have been pierced in several places and have golden barbells hanging in them.

CAMERON: Oh cool.

ROB: That’s metal as fuck.

NICK: Yeah, with like actual bells hanging off of the barbells, so it makes a jingly noise when he moves, and he has big gauges in his ears with bells hanging off of those too.

CAMERON: Oh, I love him. What’s his name?

NICK: [smiling] I don’t know. I just came up with him right now. I need to think of a name for this guy.

CAMERON: His last name is Dawnbringer.

NICK: How about Delbo Dawnbringer?

CAMERON: [laughing] Okay.

NICK: That’s good, the announcer.

ROB: There we go. But you can call him daddy.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: Yeah. Delbo Dawnbringer. Our character Falx has definitely slept with Delbo Dawnbringer at least once. That is a character that will be coming back.

CAMERON: [snickers]

NICK: So, Delbo is saying—What is Delbo saying?

NICK (as Delbo): [through megaphone] And welcome to the Inaugural Circuit! Just glad to have everyone here.

NICK: Jing-a-ling-a-ling from his horns.

CAMERON: [giggles]

NICK: And you get a sleepy yay from the crowd, because it’s still about an hour to the race. He starts doing the announcer—

NICK (as Delbo): This race will determine the future of pod racing as we know it. We have Sebulba back from retirement. We’ve got Longtanno the crowd favorite, the careful racer. We even have an experimental droid racer, designation model F4-ST. And who can forget, Toonba~!

NICK: And the whole crowd’s—

CAMERON & ROB: Yay~!

NICK: [chanting] Toonba! Toonba!

CAMERON & ROB: [laughs]

NICK: And you see a little blue elephant waving its stubby arms from the sidelines.

CAMERON: Aw.

ROB: I see the crowd doing the Goldberg chant for Toonba. [deep, slow chanting] Toonba…! Toonba…!

NICK: Yeah, that’s very good.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: [laughing] Oh man, I like that a lot.

ROB: Into it.

NICK: Yeah. And we zoom in to the camera. The announcer keeps talking about the preparations. You overhear him saying:

NICK (as Delbo): As well, part of the course is on the streets of our good city of Coronet to take part in the fact that our friends over at CorSec have volunteered to be in other parts of the city and keep civilians off of the course.

NICK: You hear a mixture of cheers and boos.

ROB: [laughing, sarcastically] In the interest of public safety.

[laughter]

NICK: Yeah. We zoom in from there and we see Karma and Stiro, we see them both standing amongst the moving crowds of the pit crew. Each of the racers is probably 50 meters from each other, but there’s people everywhere. There’s a lot of people, so there’s crowds to hide in, but each area has probably a 10 meter, 15 meter square cordon around it that’s like chains on sticks. The thing that seems to keep people inside and outside of those cordons is that they’re wearing jumpsuits in various colors and the flags and everything. The pod racers are being test started, so there’s engines roaring and then cutting back off, kind of like drag racers do before the race, and it’s very hectic, it’s very excited. Delbo is still continuing to pontificate about how great this race is and how amazing it is for the city of Coronet.

As we get a shot of Stiro and Karma surveying the beginning of the pod race, we flash back to Karma and Stiro standing in a dark room leaning over a table littered with dossiers and plans, spot lit from above.

ROB (as Stiro): Well, alright now, I’ve put you in a bit of a spot and I do apologize for that. we gotta sabotage Sebulba’s pod.

CAMERON (as Karma): I’m actually quite excited about doing that.

ROB (as Stiro): That sounded like an awful lot of confidence in your voice. That is heartening to hear.

CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB (as Stiro): Are you as good at being unseen as you are about being seen to be god damn scary?

CAMERON (as Karma): Being a bounty hunter I do have experience being, you know, with the quieter aspects of the trade. It is very much going to depend on how many people are near the pod, though, how easy it is for me to sneak to it.

ROB (as Stiro): Well, here’s the thing, there are going to be a lot of people in that vicinity because of what I’m going to be doing at that time. I see no reason not to kill two mynocks with one stone on this. So, I am going to pose as a concerned employee of the fine folks who are running the race and I’m going to make a big stink, the biggest stink possible, about having seen the pit crew of Kelbit Fizz up to no good concerning the wellbeing of the pod being driven by Mousecratel. It’s gonna bring a lot of people in to listen to me, to figure out what’s wrong with me, what I’m so upset about, and my story is gonna be pretty scary for them to listen to.

In that kerfuffle, you ought to be able to get done what you need to get done just unseen enough that you’re not all the way unseen, you’re seen leaving the area in hopefully the colors of the pit crew of one of the other racers.

CAMERON (as Karma): So actually, if we can get me a uniform for Sebulba’s pit crew I can get into the ropes…

NICK: Mm-hmm.

CAMERON (as Karma): …and then casually walk by another pod as I leave, looking suspicious, but they’re not gonna suspect me when I’m near Sebulba’s pod.

ROB (as Stiro): Exactly. That’s a very good idea. I think that is a fine update to the plan. They can suspect you of something that is far off the trail of what’s actually going on. I like it.

[huffs] And see, this rumor that I start right at the beginning of the race about Kelbit Fizz is gonna be enough to concern people but maybe not get the whole thing done. Maybe one, one and a half laps in some very highly placed people are going to be receiving a call on their coms about the unsportsmanlike behavior of the Fizz pit crew.

CAMERON (as Karma): That would be very convincing if it were to come from a concerned member of that pit crew that may be having second thoughts about the sabotage that they were supposed to admit.

ROB (as Stiro): The type of business they’re getting wrapped up in. Yes, it’s such a concern.

CAMERON (as Karma): Mm-hmm.

ROB (as Stiro): And when you’ve got multiple sources of corroboration things start to look very concerning, never mind the fact that both of those sources of corroboration are yours truly.

CAMERON (as Karma): I like it.

ROB (as Stiro): And with that, we ought to be able to have things go our way.

CAMERON (as Karma): So, Stiro, I have a question.

ROB (as Stiro): Sure.

CAMERON (as Karma): From my observations over the past few days, watching your interactions, getting this con done, you are amazingly good with both people in general as well as molding yourself to be whatever would most interest the person that you’re interacting with.

ROB: Give a deferring nod.

CAMERON (as Karma): I’m just interested. I see very well how this being a gangster and working on Kettle’s crew would be an incredibly lucrative position for someone with your people skillset, but I can also see you making far more money and a name for yourself if you’d gone into the more legitimate lines of business. So I’m interested really in what made you choose this lifestyle for yourself?

ROB (as Stiro): Yeah, I suppose that is a little bit of a curiosity.

ROB: Stiro’s body language changes a lot. He had a sense of animation to him, like he’s really jazzed up because he’s making a plan and he’s getting excited about the details. You can tell that while he performs various things something that’s not a performance is that he’s kind of a nerd for the con. He loves the details of putting together an operation and figuring out how people are going to interact with different points of the plan and what the outcome’s going to be. He clearly gets a charge out of that.

That sort of scales back, and he becomes a little more introspective, and even a little bit vulnerable. He actually sits down and picks up the drink that he had been mostly gesticulating with rather than drinking for most of the conversation. Takes a long sip.

[sad jazz music begins]

ROB (as Stiro): [exhales] You don’t have to pretend. I’ve seen that you’ve noticed my face.

CAMERON (as Karma): What does that have to do with your people skills?

ROB (as Stiro): Well, when I was seven years old I didn’t have a single credit in my pocket, didn’t have parents, didn’t have siblings. I had whatever I could steal before somebody else beat me up and stole it from me. There’s a lot of kids like that on Corellia. What happened to my face is… I stole a sugar pastry from a café left unattended by a patron while they went to pick up a news holo to add to their order. I hadn’t eaten in a while and I was excited about getting something sweet, you know, just a kid with a sweet tooth.

I got too happy about it, so I didn’t wanna give it up when some bigger kids decided that it was gonna be their sugar pastry and not mine. I wouldn’t give it up, so they cut off half my face with a broken bottle.

CAMERON (as Karma): Oh my gosh.

ROB (as Stiro): And you know who found me?

CAMERON (as Karma): I’m going to guess Kettle.

ROB (as Stiro): Delirious with fever, blood loss, probably not gonna live through the night even though I tried to stick my face back on my skull best I could. Not Kettle herself, but a nice old man, a doctor who’s been patching people up for Kettle for a long time. It started as a protection thing, you know, you don’t want Kettle’s people messing up you or the people around you so you help them out occasionally, but it’s the doctor’s oath anyway, right? You gotta help people. He put my face back on, he helped me through the fever and the infection, and he didn’t want me back on the street after that so he put me in contact with Kettle’s people and I started to learn.

Here’s the thing about her, people who work for her. They care. We’re not the good guys, we’re not the Empire either. We’re a necessary part of a community. Maybe someday they’ll make perfect laws somewhere so there don’t need to be any criminals, but I haven’t seen that yet. We make a profit, we protect our own, we care about the neighborhood. None of that was bullshit. Then the Empire came in.

You’ve seen what it does. You’ve seen people scared to leave their homes. You’ve seen people stop talking. Communities become a collection of isolated people. I can’t stand it. It makes me sick. I want to live in a world where I’m the worst bad guy there is.

CAMERON: Karma looks slightly concerned.

NICK: [chuckles]

CAMERON (as Karma): Okay, so I’m going to guess that the people skills come from the genuine caring about the community.

ROB (as Stiro): Well, and sometimes needing to disguise my intentions so that a repeat of the broken bottle incident doesn’t happen. I wasn’t immediately a powerful or impressive individual, I just had a little bit of wit and I was given a good opportunity.

CAMERON (as Karma): And you learned some knife skills, I’m assuming.

ROB (as Stiro): You see, the thing is about losing a knife fight…

ROB: And I flip out the karambit and dance it around my fingers again.

ROB (as Stiro): …you really don’t want to lose the second one. You’re willing to put in some work.

CAMERON (as Karma): Being used to using a vibro-sword, yep, I fully understand that.

NICK: We get a camera shot that zooms in on Karma whose armor isn’t all put together, it’s been released because you’re just hanging out and talking, and she has a huge roping scar across her midsection that looks like it was from a barrage of blaster bolts at some point within the last six months or so. It’s mostly healed, but it’s pretty bad, so understandable from someone else’s perspective for sure.

ROB (as Stiro): You were exactly right. You had me pegged completely in terms of being able to make way more money white collar than black market, but you’ve seen how those people are interacting with the Empire. They’re rolling out the red carpet for them, and what good is all the money in the world if there’s no neighborhood to live in at the end of it?

CAMERON (as Karma): I will say I identify slightly with that as there is a reason that I decided to become a bounty hunter instead of working for a fancy corporate security office.

ROB (as Stiro): There you go.

CAMERON (as Karma): Both of those apply to my skillset, but I have a lot less issues with one of them. I have a lot more freedom with which jobs I choose to take and the types of individuals that I choose to bring in for bounties.

ROB (as Stiro): That’s it in a nutshell.

[sad jazz music ends]

NICK: We get a shot of the two of you smiling over the plans. There’s like a rough sketched outline on this table of the course with little models of the different pods at different places.

ROB: Oh yeah, there’s like balled up pieces of flimsy and whatever the data pad equivalent of a dry-erase board and tons of stubbed out death sticks in an ashtray and stuff.

CAMERON: There’s a board with a lot of red string on it. We don’t really know why.

ROB: Yeah.

NICK: [laughs] It’s mostly the picture of Sebulba with a lot of red string coming off of Sebulba.

ROB: Yeah.

CAMERON: Yup.

NICK: [putting on a voice] ‘He’s the key!’

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: We swipe away to the two of y’all sitting in the stands at the race eating corn, because popcorn is canon in Star Wars now thanks to Disney.

CAMERON: Mm-hmm.

ROB: Hell yeah. Is that a Galaxy’s Edge thing too?

NICK: Yeah. Yeah. So, eating popcorn, and you look at each other and nod, and get started.

NICK: End of episode.

## Outro

CAMERON: Thanks for listening to Tabletop Squadron. If you enjoyed our show, please consider logging onto iTunes and giving us a five-star review. Five-star reviews will help new listeners to find the show, and every time we get one the squad adds five pounds to our max bench press. If you’re so inclined, you can also help support the show through our Patreon which can be found in the show notes, on our website, and basically anywhere else we post things. We have all sorts of Patreon levels including some of my favorites: Bantha Buddy, Tarkin’s Underwear Drawer, and Build-A-Beru which all have fabulous rewards and super great names.

Stiro Kuwe is played by Rob Stith. You can find him at @LordOfTheStith on Twitter and on his podcast, The ORPHEUS Protocol.

Karma Nailo is played by me, Cameron Robertson. You can find me on Twitter at @midnightmusic13.

Our game master is Nick Robertson, and you can find him on Twitter at @alias58.

Our intro song is Space Jam by Pablo Ribot.

Additional music by James Gunter.

Follow the podcast on Twitter and Instagram at @Tabletop_Squad, and join our Discord and share all of your food and cute pet photos with us. We also sometimes talk about Star Wars. You can find the link to join our Discord on our website and in our pinned tweet. See you next time.

Word document download: Interstitials s1- Karma 1- A Particular Persuasion

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Tabletop Squadron Transcript, Karma Interstitial 1, Part 1:
A Particular Persuasion

Transcript by Tyler (Twitter: @Tyler_MoonSage)

## Intro

NICK: Hi everyone, and welcome to Tabletop Squadron, a Star Wars: Edge of the Empire actual play podcast. I’m Nick, your game master. Every other Thursday, our story follows a thief, a bounty hunter, and a slicer as they explore the galaxy helping a mysterious benefactor and each other.

This week we jump to a new adventure seeing what Karma is up to on the mean streets of Corellia. Continue to get hype for some amazing guests. For example, this episode features Rob Stith, the creator, show runner, and GM for the AP podcast The ORPHEUS Protocol. Rob was fantastic to record with and I know you’re going to love his character.

No new patrons or iTunes reviews this week, so instead a friendly reminder. If you become a patron on Patreon or write a review for the show on iTunes, I’ll thank you on the air. Thank you to everyone who keeps us in the skies.

Music this week is Chitarradistorta by Nickk Dropkick and Cool Piano by Manuel Senfft.

So now, let’s get into the episode.

##

NICK: Hello! Welcome to Tabletop Squadron, Interstitial Episodes between Season 1 and 2. We haven’t named these. I’ll do that later. I’m your host and game master, Nick. We’re gonna go around the virtual table and say who you are and who you’re playing today, starting with Cameron!

CAMERON: Hello! My name is Cameron, and I play Karma Nailo, a Nautolan bounty hunter.

NICK: Great. Up next, our special guest for today, we’ve got Rob. Hi Rob.

ROB: Hey. How you doing?

NICK: Doing good!

ROB: That’s good. I’m also doing pretty good. I’m Rob Stith, the host, game master, designer… of The ORPHEUS Protocol, the game and the podcast, and I am here to depict Stiro Kuwe, the Corellian gangster who has some no-good antics up his sleeve, to be perfectly honest.

[laughter]

NICK: Yeah, that’s gonna be really good. I am looking forward to it. But before we get into that, let’s start off with the Destiny Roll!

ROB: I’m gonna give you one of these…

CAMERON: I got one dark side.

NICK: Nice.

ROB: Now, between you, me, and the podcast gods, I don’t know what these symbols mean. I have a circle!

NICK: Is it filled in or is it empty?

ROB: It is not. It is a circle that is hollow on the inside like a very thin donut or an emaciated Cheerio.

NICK: [laughs] Okay, that’s a light side point then.

ROB: Excellent!

NICK: Yay. Let’s go ahead and roll one more for me since there’s only two players here.

CAMERON: Okie-dokie. Oh dear, you got another dark side.

NICK: Great. That worked out well for me. Cool.

CAMERON: So we have two dark side and one light side.

ROB: Every session of this game starts with a little bit of astrology.

NICK: Yeah. [laughs]

CAMERON: Mm-hmm!

NICK: It really does.

ROB: our dice are in the house of dark side, ascending, oh no.

NICK: Yeah. [laughs]

ROB: That probably means bad stuff.

CAMERON: Yeah… I’m sure it’ll be fine.

NICK: Yeah, it’ll be fine, and also we usually forget that we have those anyway, so. [laughs]

ROB: [putting on a voice] ‘You don’t need to use your dark side points.’

NICK & CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: Alright, so with that we’re gonna go ahead and jump right into it.

[gentle jazz horn music begins]

Corellia, a fiercely independent planet under the thumb of the Empire, home of shipyards, military contractors, and gang bosses, birthplace of ace pilots and genius generals. It smells like wet garbage. Karma, you’ve been in Coronet for a couple of days. You’ve heard rumors of something big stirring in the Outer Rim – not just the Rebellion which has blossomed into full-out civil war at this point but something dark and terrifying gaining followers and power.

You came to Coronet for multiple reasons. Firstly, you have contacts here. Secondly, you were contacted by someone that you normally wouldn’t work with. They offered you information and they offered you something else, something you couldn’t refuse. You’re sitting in a small room lit by black light. There’s a loud, throbbing music as close to you as the glowing dancers around you. you take a sip from a small glass of iridescent liquid and feel the bass of the music ruffle your head tails. Everyone in this room is dressed in scraps of loose cloth that flow with their movement and glow in the black light. You’re dressed for work. What do you look like?

CAMERON: I am wearing my standard all-black body armor with my really tall black boots, got my red headband on, some gold bangles on my head tails. I do not glow in the black light. [laughs]

NICK: No, you’re kind of like a hole in this otherwise very iridescent party atmosphere you’ve got going on.

CAMERON: Yup.

NICK: Cool. The bartender isn’t paying attention to you. the bartender is rocking out in the corner to some dancers and giving free drinks, so you’re just kinda hanging out. As that is happening, a thin man wearing a plain white shirt and black slacks leans against the bar next to you. he brushes back some blonde hair and leans in so you can hear him over the music.

NICK (as Man): Miss Karma, you may not remember me. I’m Seeley Mox. I drove getaway for you like a few months ago. Miss Kettle is ready to see you now, if you’ll follow me.

CAMERON (as Karma): Oh, of course. Thank you. Seeley, how have you been?

NICK (as Seeley): I’ve been pretty good. Crashed a couple more speeders, but like on purpose, so—

CAMERON (as Karma): That is the best way to crash a speeder.

NICK (as Seeley): Yeah, and you know, once the speeder explodes CorSec tends to leave you alone, so it’s a pretty good way to get out of a situation.

CAMERON (as Karma): That’s true, and you have the opportunity to walk away from the explosion without looking back and look super cool.

NICK (as Seeley): Yeah. I tried that and some debris hit me. Um…

CAMERON (as Karma): Oh. That—Yeah, okay. Eh.

NICK (as Seeley): So normally I’m one of those duck and run into a next door alley kind of people.

CAMERON (as Karma): That is probably safer. Yeah.

NICK (as Seeley): Yeah.

CAMERON (as Karma): Okay, so Kettle’s ready?

NICK (as Seeley): Oh yeah! Kettle, yeah.

NICK: He gestures very urgently and leads you out of this small kind of dance club. You follow him out of the room and into a small hallway. Leading off of these hallways there are lots of rooms lined up in succession that each are blasting loud music out into the hallway around them. it mixes in the middle where you’re walking and is pretty disconcerting.

As you head to the back of the building and through a bead curtain hanging over a doorway, the music completely stops as you pass through—

[jazz music ends abruptly]

–as if the sound is stopped by some sort of force field. Kettle, the Queen, is sitting behind a plain durasteel desk. Her wings are draped over the back of her chair comfortably. She’s a Geonosian which are those like flying bug creatures from Attack of the Clones and has long scars all over her body.

ROB: Oh, so she ‘rules,’ okay.

NICK: Yeah, she’s a fucking badass. We love Kettle.

CAMERON: Yeah!

NICK: Yeah, so this room looks like it’s normally dark but now reasonably well-lit, which you couldn’t tell through the bead curtain. She glances up from some paperwork when you come in and smiles at you.

NICK (as Kettle): Karma! Lovely to see you still alive. How is your crew?

CAMERON (as Karma): You as well. I haven’t seen them in a while, actually, but I’m sure they’re doing fine.

NICK (as Kettle): Yes, I heard a report recently from a business venture of mine that some important things were stolen, and you know what’s weird is that in its place was a note that I had given to you with an IOU on it. This is your chance to explain that to me.

CAMERON (as Karma): I would like to fully place this on Xianna, actually.

NICK (as Kettle): You mean a crew member of your crew? So you’re just gonna sidestep all of that responsibility?

CAMERON (as Karma): Yep. Xianna had the IOU. Yep. Xianna’s the thief in my party.

NICK (as Kettle): Then you won’t mind if – when I find her – we have some very serious conversation about that.

CAMERON (as Karma): I think that may actually be beneficial for her.

NICK (as Kettle): I wouldn’t say the results are gonna be very beneficial.

NICK: She smiles in a way that tugs at the scars on her face and it’s extremely off-putting.

CAMERON (as Karma): I mean, you’re a business woman, you understand how it works.

NICK (as Kettle): Oh, I understand alright. But anyway, that’s not why I reached out to you.

NICK: She cracks her knuckles which sounds way more hollow than it would on a human because she has chitin fingers.

NICK (as Kettle): Ever since the death star was destroyed by the Rebels the Empire is cracking down. They’ve been moving huge assets through Corellian industry to recover and fuel the war effort. I’ve put my best person on a job related to that, and I got ahold of you because I want you to keep him safe. He’s very, very good at what he does, but I know if you’re getting paid you’ll watch their back and I don’t have to worry about them getting stabbed in an alley. Seeley, if you could go ahead and bring them in.

NICK: We get a long moment of awkward silence as Seeley leaves and comes back with someone new. Rob, what does Karma see as you step through this bead curtain into this gangster’s office?

ROB: The first impression that Stiro makes is “well, this guy is definitely a gangster—”

CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: –and likes for people to know that about him right when they first see him, or at least in the way that he is dressed today. Whatever the Corellian equivalent of a track suit and a gold chain is is what he is wearing tonight. It’s not trying to be nondescript, not trying to fly under the radar, like, I am a member of the criminal class and I am here to party and spend money, because in an environment like this signaling that status is actually good, because people know that you know where the action is and that you have your finger on the pulse of the money that’s moving around.

NICK: Mm-hmm.

ROB: Stiro doesn’t always dress like this. He dresses like this when he’s clubbing and is interested in making some side hustle.

CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: He’s wearing ostentatious “I’m a gangster” clothing and accessories including some sort of ludicrous timepiece probably as well. Got a sloppy smile on his face, a bit of a relaxed swagger to his movements. He’s about 6’1”, a little on the skinny side but clearly some wiry strength beneath that, and his face is probably what’s the most interesting… and I realize we’re in Star Wars, so I should mention that he’s Human.

NICK & CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: He’s got sort of a buzz cut dark hair, and you can see right away that the reason that it’s buzz cut is that it’s not gonna grow in evenly because there’s a lot of scarring on one side of his head. They’re not too bad, whoever worked on them was very skilled, but you can’t magically make hair follicles come back, so it’s the buzz cut for him. Similarly, he has a bit of scarring on the bridge of his nose and under one eye, again, very well treated to minimize the long-term scarring, but just like the hair follicles you can’t really stitch the nerves back together. So, one side of his face kind of slumps a little bit compared to the other side, but a lifetime of practice has made this idiosyncrasy of appearance disarming and endearing instead of threatening. He sort of swaggers into the room, gives an appreciative nod to Kettle, and does a practiced double-take towards Karma—

CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: –as in, I am giving the impression that I was casual and now I’m a little less casual because something about you has impressed me, but then he looks like he’s trying to cover that reaction despite what he’s doing as a performance of looking like he wants to cover the reaction. Like, you can tell immediately probably that bullshit is just as natural as breathing to this guy.

NICK: It’s all very theatrical. This is something that has been practiced in front of a mirror to get the right impression across.

ROB (as Stiro): Well, hello there.

CAMERON (as Karma): Hello?

ROB (as Stiro): I’m sorry. I don’t think that we’ve been introduced. My name is Stiro, Stiro Kuwe. It’s really good to meet you.

ROB: I extend my hand for a very firm, business-like handshake if she’ll have it.

CAMERON: Karma returns the handshake in equal firmness.

[chuckling]

CAMERON (as Karma): It’s nice to meet you. I’m Karma Nailo.

CAMERON: And then looks to Kettle.

NICK: Kettle watches this handshake—

CAMERON: It goes on slightly too long.

NICK: Yeah, it definitely goes on slightly too long. Stiro, you notice that Karma being a Nautolan is an amphibious species and normally they have very smooth skin, but Karma’s hands are rough and callused from handling various weapons. You also notice that Karma is basically packing for bear. She has a large carbine rifle with a very expensive scope that you would probably recognize as being thermo-imaging and a vibro-sword strapped to her back on a semi-concealed sheath. She is a walking arsenal. There’s also potential, because Karma has a moderate reputation among the bounty hunting community, that you might have heard of her before. Do you think Stiro keeps tabs on bounty hunters or not?

ROB: I think it’s pretty likely, actually, giving the quite high ranks of Streetwise and my decent Cunning score that I’m walking around with.

CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: So, I think it’s possible that I’ve heard the name. I probably didn’t put it together with a face… and here’s the thing, there’s plenty of ‘names,’ right?

NICK: Yeah. [chuckles]

ROB: But half of them are just stories. When I shake this person’s hand and I’m feeling calluses on a Nautolan’s hand and I’m seeing this walking weapons locker I put it all together. this person’s real.

NICK & CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: And that all amounts to an appreciative crook of the eyebrow and a slight idiosyncratic grin from the slumped corner of my mouth.

NICK: And as you exchange a look, and I think as you entered the room, you probably noticed that Karma’s demeanor with Kettle was, uh, friendly and respectful, and as you walked in it became a lot more business-like and professional as you make eye contact. Kettle looks back and forth between the two of you.

NICK (as Kettle): Well, I’m glad that we’re off to a good start.

NICK: Her tone portrays that she is aware of how this is going to go.

NICK (as Kettle): So, Karma, I need you to keep him alive while he does his thing. You’ll very quickly see what his modus operandi is and you will understand why I asked you to come armed.

CAMERON (as Karma): Okay.

NICK (as Kettle): Stiro, it’s time for me to give you the rest of the information on this job I was talking about.

ROB (as Stiro): I couldn’t be more excited.

NICK (as Kettle): That’s good. That’s why we keep you around. It’s definitely not for your fashion sense.

NICK: She looks at your—

CAMERON: Aww. [laughs]

NICK: It’s straight up a track suit. I think Corellian gangsters wear track suits.

ROB: I get a little pinch of the material on my chest between my fingers and sort of demonstrably pull it out at her.

ROB (as Stiro): This was carefully picked for this evening. Come on.

NICK (as Kettle): I can tell. It’s so interesting to me that you can be so subtle and yet so obvious at the same time, Stiro. I know that it’s your thing, but… Anyway.

ROB (as Stiro): It’s about being able to tell when subtlety counts for anything.

NICK (as Kettle): And that’s why you’re one of my main operators here. I’ve never really understood Humans. You shoot the ones that need shooting, you take the money from the ones that don’t.

CAMERON (as Karma): Mm-hmm.

CAMERON: Karma’s just nodding along.

[laughter]

ROB: Hey, I’m not gonna get up on the stands for this one, we don’t make any sense. That’s fine.

[laughter]

NICK (as Kettle): So, as I said, this is Stiro, and you’re going to be helping him to steal a ludicrous amount of money. There’s a mega-contractor in town called Serres Super Structure. They work on molecularly enhanced durasteel. It’s stuff that has a lot higher tensile strength than should otherwise be possible or some kriff. They make the metal that lets the Empire build really, really big structures, like that death star for instance. A little birdy told me they’ve been receiving a new Imperial contract, and Imperial contract that’s bigger than most planets’ economies. Stiro is going to make that go away. Karma, besides assuring you that your help with this will keep me from having you killed, I have something that might interest you.

NICK: Kettle reaches under the desk, which in the lighting and everything looks like there’s nothing under it, it looks like a desk that you should be able to see under it, but from somewhere Kettle pulls out a large camtono of something. It basically looks like an ice cream maker. Rob, you watched The Mandalorian, right?

ROB: Mm-hmm.

NICK: The camtono is the thing that the beskar metal came in.

ROB: Ohh!

NICK: [laughs] So, Kettle pulls from somewhere this camtono and sets it on the desk, and it has a heavy clang. She presses a button on the top and the sides retract revealing a pile of scales. They are pretty much pure black but with an oil sheen green on it like ravens’ feathers. Karma, you would recognize these as an abyss sea dragon from Glee Anselm, your home planet. There has not been an abyss sea dragon seen in like 2,000 years. They have to be extinct. They don’t exist. These scales are nigh indestructible. Kettle closes it again and nods to herself and puts it under the desk.

NICK (as Kettle): If you’re able to help our friend here, Stiro, complete this mission, you can have those.

CAMERON: Karma tilts her head appreciatively.

NICK (as Kettle): I don’t have a use for them, they’re basically a cultural artifact at this point, but I know what they might mean to someone of your profession and background.

CAMERON (as Karma): I appreciate the gesture.

NICK (as Kettle): So, basically the information I’ve given you is what I have. I found the beginning of a string to pull on, but the rest of it is up to you. I have somewhere to be. You’re looking for Serres Super Structure and you’re going to take their money. Stiro, this is a thing for you. Try not to die. If you do, I never met you.

NICK: Kettle snaps her fingers and Seeley grabs the camtono, and it is way heavier than it looks, he can barely lift it, and you see him start sweating almost immediately, and they leave a room by a side door that you didn’t notice existed until just now. You’re left alone in Kettle’s office.

ROB (as Stiro): So, lizard scales, huh?

CAMERON (as Karma): Yeah. They’re… I don’t think anyone’s seen an abyss sea dragon alive in like 2000 years, but if you can swim down and find them on the ocean floor of Glee Anselm they’re fantastic for armor.

ROB (as Stiro): Well, my boss always has been full of surprises.

CAMERON (as Karma): Yeah, definitely. I will agree with that, just from previous interactions with her, yes. Alright, so um, if I’m keeping you alive what exactly is your skillset and how we are approaching this?

ROB (as Stiro): Hmph. How best for an artist to describe his art?

CAMERON (as Karma): Take as much time as you need to describe it. I completely understand.

[laughter]

ROB: He sort of chews the cud for a moment.

ROB (as Stiro): Now I don’t want to speak too indecorously, but the operation that Kettle runs – of which I am a meager part – is not exactly thoroughly on the up-and-up.

CAMERON (as Karma): Oh, yes, obviously. Yes.

ROB (as Stiro): An enterprise of that size and complexity, and frankly that character, has a lot of moving parts. Any operation of that size is gonna run into rough patches. It’s gonna have trouble spots, points of failure, that sort of thing. So, nobody bats an eye when you hire an engineer or slicer, right?

CAMERON (as Karma): Mm-hmm.

ROB (as Stiro): To fix the technical aspects of an enterprise. Well, I fix the interpersonal aspects, the rough spots having to do with relationships, and conversations, and rumors, and things like that.

CAMERON (as Karma): Okay. I’m supposing, based on my being hired to watch your back, that this will be primarily through communication and manipulation as opposed to violence to remove these issues. Would that be accurate?

ROB (as Stiro): Violence is a last resort.

ROB: With that, a vibro-knife of a very curious design appears in my hand briefly. It has a round-topped handle with an eye in it, a hollowed out part that a finger could be passed through to rotate the handle quickly to alternate grips. The blade itself is like an eagle talon, curved and single edged, called a karambit, but this is of course a vibro-karambit that dances between various grips and configurations in my hand before vanishing again.

CAMERON: Karma nods appreciatively towards the knife.

CAMERON (as Karma): That’s a fine blade.

ROB (as Stiro): Yeah. Thank you very much. When the stakes are high you need to be good at your last resort, don’t get me wrong, but I try to talk to people first. When I’m lucky, that’s enough.

CAMERON (as Karma): I appreciate that approach.

ROB (as Stiro): [huffs] I know a little bit about you, but not enough to know exactly how this meeting of the minds is going to go. How do you feel about the Empire?

CAMERON (as Karma): Negative.

CAMERON: [laughs]

CAMERON (as Karma): Not a fan. I am totally willing to assist in any efforts to take down the Empire, and getting a lot of money away from them sounds fantastic.

ROB (as Stiro): What it all comes down to for me is that there is a difference between the Empire and an operation such as the one in which I am involved, and that is that the Empire is both bad for business and bad for the neighborhood. We’re criminals. People might call us gangsters, and that’s okay, it’s fair, but we’re part of the communities that we operate out of. It matters to us that the corner store that one guy’s family has been running for three generations stays that way if that’s what they want. We make a healthy profit, it’s true, but we also revitalize local economies. We take care of our own.

[deep inhale] The Empire, they come in, people are afraid to leave their homes, businesses shut down, everything gets worse, and people have to turn to a life of crime – and not a profitable one – just to live. And then what crime is, you might notice, that definition getting changed time and time again to allow for the mass incarceration of people who were just gonna be buying bread at that corner store not that long ago. We have no love of the Empire, and right now is the perfect time to give them a black eye. They lost their whatever the hell that death star thing was.

CAMERON (as Karma): Well, it was no moon.

ROB: God damn it.

[laughter]

ROB (as Stiro): I can’t even imagine how much that cost, and they’re gonna have to make big moves right now to consolidate power, because that was an embarrassment on top of a huge loss. They gotta spend money, right now, make another show of force, consolidate their power. Whatever they decide is the most important is gonna cost them billions, and that’s a modest estimate, so it’s time to hit them where it hurts, their pocket book. I’m gonna steal this contract money and I’m gonna put it somewhere where they can’t get it back, and maybe they’ll think twice about whether it’s monetarily feasible to go ruin a neighborhood or two, shut down those corner stores, when they gotta be spending their scarce resources on whatever their big project that just lost all its money was, you see.

CAMERON (as Karma): Alright, let’s do this.

ROB (as Stiro): Glad to have your support.

[laughter]

NICK: So, basically the information you have is there is a company called Serres Super Structure. They are one of the major ship-building contracting companies out of Corellia besides some of the major ship builders like YT and some of the ones that make actual ships. These are people who do support things. You know that they would have to have a huge economic point, because if they’re the ones that make the metal to build a super ship out of that’s a lot of metal.

ROB: Oh yeah.

CAMERON: Mm-hmm.

ROB: And it’s not just any metal, it’s expensive metal.

NICK: Yeah.

CAMERON: Yeah!

ROB: And the processes are expensive, and you need experts, and quality control and all that. You don’t want to build a hundred billion credit ship and then have one structural flaw cause it to fall apart when you launch it.

CAMERON: And the shipping is just ridiculous.

ROB: Yes.

NICK: Ha. Boo.

CAMERON: Ha-ha-ha.

ROB: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

NICK: Yeah. So, I think Stiro you have heard of Serres Super Structure. They sponsor sporting events and they probably do some charity work that’s a tenth of a percent of their earnings for any quarter just to get tax breaks and things.

ROB: Sure, and media buzz.

NICK: Oh yeah, for sure, they’re definitely one of those.

CAMERON: Mm-hmm.

ROB: It costs so little money when you’ve got all the money in the world to be seen as the good guys.

NICK: Yup, and they do that, and you are very aware of what they’re doing because with the amount of organizational moves and adjustments that you do you know what they’re doing. It’s pretty obvious.

ROB: Right. Yeah.

NICK: But you don’t necessarily know a lot about their structure. You haven’t had a reason before to dig into that. So, where would you go to do the footwork to start to get a picture of where their weak points would be?

ROB: I think the first thing Stiro does, it’s just like information security, in many ways it is information security, it’s trade security. The weakest point in a system is the weakest or stupidest person in the system.

CAMERON: [chuckles]

NICK: Uh-huh.

ROB: And so the first thing you do is you literally follow people from their central office at closing time and you see where they go to drink, you see where they go to blow off steam and relax, you see where they go to go be off their guard and you start there, you ingratiate yourself to the staff, you find out where their bosses hang out. You find out which bosses they’re complaining about and you get what information you can and you follow it on up the chain until you sort of know the lay of the land when it comes to the people working in this operation, and then you kind of stake some things out, bribe some people for information, and you figure out the highest ranked set of loose lips in the organization, and then you get to work.

NICK: Cool. What I’m gonna need from you is a Streetwise check. I think that this process probably takes a while. We’ll do some of this as a montage.

ROB: Sure.

NICK: And we’re gonna get to, based on this roll, how high up in the chain you can find some loose lips, and then we’ll see how that turns out.

ROB: Makes perfect sense. Alright, since I’ve got 3 on Streetwise, 3 on Cunning, that is three yellow dice, right?

NICK: Yep, that is, and this is going to be hard, so that’ll be three purple, but I’ll give you a blue die because the bars and stuff you’re hitting out, you’ve already laid the ground work there, you already know all the serving staff and everything, so they definitely helped.

ROB: Sure. So does that make it three yellow, three purple, and a blue?

NICK: Yep.

ROB: Okay. I can do that. Okay, I have two Batman pow sound effect backgrounds—

[laughter]

NICK: Those are successes. I realize I didn’t tell you what the symbols meant. That’s on me.

ROB: And one angel wings in front of a distant solar eclipse.

NICK: [smiling] Okay.

ROB: Big moves. Yeah, no, that’s two successes and an advantage on this one.

NICK: Nice. Rob picked that up fast. It’s like he’s a game designer or something.

CAMERON: Weird.

NICK: Yeah. [laughs] Okay, so two successes and an advantage. Something that you know actually that became relevant very quickly is that the janitorial and sanitation service of the building that Serres Super Structure is based in works for Kettle. They are part of Kettle’s organization. She uses them to do minor money laundering and things like that, so you have an in there.

ROB: Ha, ha, ha!

NICK: So you started at their level at some of the bars that are in the worst parts of town, and you worked your way up, and you’re actually at a mid-town bar called the Corrier which is one of those ones with the white durasteel and chrome, and there’s a lot of glass, and the drinks are all 30 Credits a pop, and you don’t necessarily see three-letter acronym business people here but you see the people who work for them, their admins, their gophers, those kind of people, and they go here because they have the money to spend and this is somewhere where sometimes important people go and it makes them feel important.

ROB: Of course. So, this time Stiro is wearing a suit, a very nice suit, but off the rack, not quite perfectly tailored.

NICK: Yes. That is perfect. As you walk in, the person that you’re looking for, her name is Diana, and you know that she is an admin for the scheduling office for the front office of this company. She works for the people who tell all the three-letter acronym people for Serres Super Structure where to go, the CFO, the CEO, the President, all of them. Diana is dating somebody who is further down in the company and that’s why she’s at this bar. I would say with the advantage and everything we’ll say you already know that’s not going well, she’s probably having a rough night. As you walk in, one, Karma, what are you wearing? Are you still wearing your terrifying body armor? Because that might be a little weird in this situation, but…

CAMERON: So, Karma is still wearing the armor and is still armed, because you never know what’s gonna happen, you don’t wanna take the armor off because you’re on a job, but has added extra accessories to make it to where it’s not obvious, like, has added a larger nice trench coat. Still wearing the armor, so black pants, black boots, but then has jacket over it that’s like a nice bright blue color. It has to have shoulder pads in it so that it’s extra, because it’s Star Wars, but also that helps disguise the body armor underneath it.

ROB: Perfect.

CAMERON: And so is tweaking it slightly to where if you were to look at her and study her you’d be like there are some weird lumps under the jacket, like that looks like it may be a blaster, but there are other security people here, so is not trying to be just a normal bar person who just happened to come here after work but is coming in with the expectation that if anyone questions me I am here as a security detail, and so they’ll let me pass.

NICK: Yeah, you’re definitely corporate security.

ROB: Well, and this is a Human majority planet. Is it rude to ask a Nautolan about lumps under their clothes? How good is your xenology really? You don’t want that kind of press.

NICK: Yeah. [laughs]

CAMERON: That’s a very good point as well.

NICK: This one’s far enough up in the chain that there are people who are worried about a news story getting out about them just asking inconsiderate questions in a bar.

CAMERON: Mm-hmm.

ROB: Well, they’re very focused on identity politics because that distracts from the central economic injustices that the Empire and its ally states are built on, so you know.

NICK: For sure.

[sophisticated event music begins]

So, you enter and we get that cool sweeping shot of Stiro walking into the bar, Karma slightly behind him and on his shoulder. Karma has adjusted her posture and approach a little to look a lot more corporate security and less lithe, capable killing machine.

CAMERON: As we’re walking around the bar she does occasionally hold up her hand to where an ear would be on a Human, like she’s listening to something in a headpiece, because that’s what security does.

NICK: [laughs] Yeah.

ROB: Mm-hmm. Sure. Stiro’s entire bearing is way more upright and reserved now. He’s gone from bad guy having a good night to nervous professional. He’s wearing the same watch as we last saw but now it just fits with the outfit instead of being this glaring mismatch.

[laughter]

NICK: Yeah, and you see this very high ranking admin sitting at a booth away from the bar – there’s only a couple of booths in this whole place – and she’s sitting alone and distractedly stirring a drink and looking at a data pad. So, what’s the play?

[sophisticated music fades out]

ROB: The two things that immediately come to mind is like a schmoozy approach, like taking advantage of her distraught emotional state, or sit at the next thing over and allow her to selectively overhear delicious-sounding business things approach.

NICK: Ooh.

ROB: And I don’t know for sure which one is going to work. In fact, you know what, Stiro doesn’t know for sure which one’s going to work better so he decides to split the difference and do both.

NICK: Okay!

CAMERON: [chuckles]

ROB: He’s gonna sit and invite Karma to sit at an adjoining booth, and I’m gonna have a fake conversation on whatever the common communication device is.

NICK: It’s just a com in Star Wars. [laughs]

ROB: Sure.

NICK: Yeah.

ROB: About something pretty interesting and enticing, and it’s gonna go not badly but not as well as I am performing that I want it to go, like somebody is having, for some reason, cold feet about a really good opportunity, and I’ll be a little bit frustrated when I hang up the call so that when I then approach and be like “ugh, man, sometimes business can be so hard,” she heard me just have a negative business experience that was also interesting to her.

NICK: Mm-hmm. Hmm, this sure feels like a Deception check, Rob. What do you think?

ROB: It does, doesn’t it?!

NICK: Yeah!

[laughter]

ROB: So that is a Cunning based thing, so I think that’s a green and two yellow.

NICK: Yeah, that sounds right.

ROB: Because I’ve got two points in Deception. Now, do I have any things from my class here…? Well, if there’s difficulty I can remove some of that, apparently.

NICK: There probably would have been, because you would have had to get her attention from her own problems, but yeah, you have – what’s the name of your ability that takes those off?

ROB: Convincing Demeanor. I can remove one difficulty per rank from Deception and Skulduggery checks.

NICK: Yeah, that’s gone. You’re going to get her attention very quickly with how well you sell this.

ROB: Okay.

NICK: I’m gonna say, because it’s kind of a setup action to the real deception coming after, it’s only average difficulty, so that’s two purples.

ROB: Okay. Hmm! It appears that I have a failure and two advantages.

NICK: Huh.

ROB: How does that play out?

NICK: I know! This is the best part of this system, Rob.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: It means that your goal, which was to have her overhear juicy business details and setup the conversation fails, like she does not notice, but you have two advantages, so something tangentially or unrelated, good, happens, and two advantages is reasonably good. Is there anything you would like to do? Mechanically with this you can spend advantages to add blue dice and stuff to checks, but you can also do things plot-wise and kind of outside the mechanics if you would like. So, the easy answer is hey, she didn’t notice, but I’m gonna use these to add blue dice to when I start talking to her to get her attention or something else has happened in the room, or you drew someone else’s attention, or something bad happens to her, something like that. Advantages generally are up to the player, so if you have any thoughts.

ROB: Okay, well I’m gonna go for something easy then. I think it just so happens that in this relationship that she’s having that’s not going so well, Stiro is fortunate to look pretty much exactly like the guy she told you not to worry about in this situation.

NICK & CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: This dude just happens to have a lot of slightly unfavorable comparisons in appearance and manner to Stiro.

NICK: Okay, so you look like an upgrade to the boyfriend she’s upset with.

ROB: Yes. Exactly.

NICK: Oh, I love that, a lot.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: You have that whole conversation. Karma’s sitting in the booth across from you, probably looking pretty appreciative, because this is not a skillset any of her former coworkers have.

CAMERON: [giggles] Talking? What?

NICK: Yeah, they’re not good at this. You hang up the com and you wait for any sort of indication that she’s paying attention or cares and you get freaking nothing.

ROB: Drat.

NICK: What do you do now?

ROB: I lean in a little to Karma.

ROB (as Stiro): Okay. I’m not sure that worked, but now it’s time for Plan B. Just keep an eye out in case anything funny happens, okay?

CAMERON (as Karma): Okay.

ROB: I call a waiter over and I order another one of whatever Diana’s drinking and have it sent to her.

NICK: Okay. She’s drinking… When you clean a toilet you get that glowy, light blue color?

ROB: Uh-huh?

CAMERON: [snickers]

ROB: Seems like a standard Star Wars liquor color.

NICK: Yeah. That, out of a martini glass, with a really weird, instead of an olive they’re about grape size, they’re bright orange and they have little spikes all over them, impaled through the toothpick in it, so it’s a very garish color.

ROB: Sure. Now real quick, based on the rumors I was able to pick up about this middle management type that she’s dating, what’s her problem with him? Is he too nervous? Is he too uptight? Does he not take things seriously enough? Like, what’s his issue?

NICK: He’s slimy, so he’s very much corporate lackey type yes man, and she got fed up with the fact that he always said what she wanted to hear.

ROB: Oh, so I just need to be real, alright.

NICK: Yeah, you just need to be like a genuine person and she will probably go for that. I think you definitely found a hairdresser, and there’s probably a flashback scene to you doing straight beauty salon gossip with somebody to get this information. [laughs]

ROB: Nice.

CAMERON: Karma is sitting under one of the cone things that they put you under when you’re getting a perm.

NICK: Yeah. [laughs] For sure. But yeah, she’s just tired of all that double talk and obsequiousness.

ROB: Okay. What’s the most working class beverage in Star Wars then?

NICK: A Corellian ale. It’s just beer.

ROB: That is what’s in my hand when I toast her when her drink arrives.

NICK & CAMERON: [laughs] Okay.

ROB: We’re in this high class establishment. Stiro doesn’t care. He likes Corellian ale, and he doesn’t care who knows it.

[laughter]

NICK: We get a flash of the Corellian ale advertisement logo on the corner. It’s like a commercial. It’s so good. It appeals to the inherent Corellian-ness of everyone.

ROB: Hell yeah. [laughs]

NICK: So do you cheers her from your booth or did you walk over as she got her new drink?

[sophisticated music returns]

ROB: Oh, I do just a master class in body language here. I cheers her and in the motion of my arm I start to shift my balance like I’m gonna stand up and go over toward her, and I’m very open and very hesitant in the way of I’m wanting an invitation to come over, I’m not gonna presume, would you like me to come over?

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: [smiling] Aw man. So, part of your advantages is obviously that’s going to work, but what you see on her face is, her initial reaction is, oh no, thanks but no, and then you see her stop, think about it for a second, and you can see all on her face well why wouldn’t I, this guy’s handsome, look at that ale, obviously cool, this other guy’s an asshole, and then she nods you over.

ROB: [laughs] And so, I don’t strut, I just walk over and have a seat, adjust my drink on whatever passes for a coaster in Star Wars, a space coaster.

CAMERON: You arrange it so that the label is facing the camera.

NICK: [laughs]

ROB: Yeah, exactly, because this is now a beer commercial.

NICK: Yep, it happened.

NICK (as Diana): I’m assuming that this drink was from you. thank you very much. That’s very nice of you.

NICK: She downs the one she was drinking.

ROB (as Stiro): You’re most welcome. In some ways I’m a simple guy. I see a pretty lady having a rough night, figure I can do my part.

NICK (as Diana): Is my Sabacc face that bad that you can tell I’m having a rough night?

ROB (as Stiro): Ah, you know, you spend enough time in this town, you get to know people, you get to know what a bad night looks like, because everybody’s doing the same playbook here in terms of what is appropriate for business, what emotions are okay to have at work. Don’t get me wrong, I like this place and all, but we’re at work here. We’re not relaxing, we’re not at home, it’s still part of the whole corporate environment, isn’t it?

NICK: She looks down at the data pad she was scrolling through angrily and you can see there’s two screens on it. One of them is Star Wars Facebook.

ROB: Nice.

NICK: It’s like a combination of sympathetic statements and people bragging about their achievements. The other one looks like an invoice, but it can’t be an invoice because the numbers on that are insanely large.

ROB: [laughs]

NICK: There’s no way that she would be looking at something like that. she frowns at her data pad, flips it over hard enough that almost the screen would crack.

NICK (as Diana): You know, you’re right. That is what we’re doing. Why am I even here?

NICK: And looks like she might get up to leave.

ROB (as Stiro): [sighs] Because it’s what’s expected. We’re all so used to it. I try to say that I’m bearing witness or that I’m claiming it for myself, but [sighs] we’re all at work most of the time.

NICK (as Diana): I think I hate it.

ROB (as Stiro): [laughs] Sometimes I do too, but uh, sometimes you meet a kindred spirit too. It makes it a little better.

NICK: She reaches out and shakes your hand in a business-like fashion, grabs your hand strongly and shakes it.

NICK (as Diana): I’m Diana.

ROB: And I need to figure out—Is this a thing where I would have an assumed name? I really might.

NICK: You could if you want to.

ROB: God! No! I need so many Star Wars names. Oh shit! Oh god!

[laughter]

NICK: Unless you pull a James West thing, or a James Bond thing and it’s just you’re always Stiro to everybody.

ROB: I think… yeah, okay. I just need a last name, actually, because if you do an assumed name there’s no faking the difference in speed of reaction to your actual name that you grew up with.

NICK: That’s true.

ROB: So to appear genuine I am often Stiro whoever, and she didn’t give a last name, so.

NICK: No she didn’t.

ROB: I will simply return the handshake firmly and say:

ROB (as Stiro): Stiro. It’s good to make your acquaintance.

NICK (as Diana): It’s good to meet you too, Stiro. There’s something about you. I’m really glad that you came over. Um, so now what do we do? I was going to leave but we’re still here.

ROB (as Stiro): Well, I think the traditional thing is that we drown our sorrows, we bitch about work back and forth a bit and tells some jokes, and see where it takes us.

NICK: I’m gonna need a Charm check from you at this point.

ROB: Oh, good news, Charm is my fucking deal.

[laughter]

NICK: It’s gonna be an average difficulty, but you can have two blue dice for how well that conversation went slash the fact that you look like a leveled up version of her current shitty boyfriend.

ROB: Uh-huh.

NICK: Yeah.

ROB: And I’ve got Smooth Talker, at least two ranks. I also remove a rank of difficulty for Kill With Kindness.

CAMERON: [chuckles]

NICK: Oh wow. Okay. [laughs]

ROB: So, and yeah, I’ve got two ranks of Smooth Talker so if I happen to get triumphs I also get additional successes.

NICK: Alright. If it removes ranks of difficulty it’s only one purple instead of two.

ROB: Oh my god.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: Yeah.

ROB: So I have seven successes and an advantage.

NICK: [laughs] Okay! You have narrative control. I think she’s very taken with you. she’s a strong, independent woman. You saw earlier, she was like why am I beholden to that piece of cark? How do you want this to go, Rob?

ROB: I feel like I get every bit of advantage from that performed conversation that she didn’t hear now, because that’s my sob story from working in corporate Corellia for the day. It’s me talking about how there’s this awesome reinvestment opportunity that I’ve become aware of that’s basically foolproof and people are afraid to take it because they’re worried about negative press from it when I know that that’s not how it has to go. It can be a good opportunity that is beneficial to local businesses and blah-blah-blah, but you know, people just are too set in their ways.

There’s a corporate culture. Everybody is speaking to each other in greeting cards and pre-planned sound bites and nobody has any fucking creativity or willingness to take even the smallest risk about anything, so people are just leaving money on the table in this situation, and that’s the sort of barrier that I’m trying to break through and having trouble with right now.

I just need to find somebody who has money to move that isn’t a drone, that can see the way the wind is blowing and make a good deal instead of just doing what everyone who had their job before them who got fired so that they could be promoted did. That’s my story, and I’m hoping to hear her story of her frustrations with work and this delicious, giant invoice.

NICK & CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: This whole back and forth of talking about the problems we have at work and critiquing the corporate culture is of course laced with heavy flirting.

NICK: Yeah.

ROB: To like, make the medicine go down.

NICK: The conversation happens and we get it kind of from a distance as Stiro’s listening and gesturing and she’s leaning in more and more, and you see more empty martini glasses appear.

ROB: Yeah, and good thing Stiro started drinking when he was like 12, and he’s drinking just something pretty light.

NICK: We see that she is also holding a Corellian ale glass by the end of the conversation.

ROB: Haha! Yes!

NICK: And she’s doing the thing where she’s running her finger along the rim of the glass and she’s a little flushed, and you can see on her face a mixture of, one, she’s completely taken with you, you seem like exactly the kind of person she would be interested in, but as you talk about this reinvestment opportunity and everything her eyes kind of light up.

NICK (as Diana): You know, I manage the calendar of somebody who is pretty important where I work and has access to quite a bit of funding. If you were able to help him and maybe just drop the hint that I had been involved, that could be good for both of us, don’t you think?

ROB (as Stiro): You know, I think it really could. Why don’t we make that call… tomorrow?

NICK: She gets a big old grin on her face and finishes the beer, slams the glass down, and says:

NICK (as Diana): Tomorrow, I like that.

NICK: We get a pan over to Karma who’s been sitting in the other booth this whole time. Has Karma been drinking or just sitting there?

CAMERON: Karma’s just been sitting there. She’s had like a Sprite or something.

NICK: [laughs]

CAMERON: Or I guess she’s been having a Diet Coke, because that is now canon in Star Wars. She’s been drinking Diet Coke.

ROB: Oh god, it is!

NICK: Oh yeah, Diet Coke’s canon. Yeah.

CAMERON: Yeah.

[laughter]

NICK: Sprite is too.

CAMERON: Yeah, but the Diet Coke bottles are cooler.

NICK: yeah, that’s true.

ROB: There you go.

CAMERON: So when Stiro left her booth she did move to one of the tall cocktail tables with some stools at it to where she had a better view of the table and didn’t have as many big, tall things around her so that she could more accurately see the whole room and just watch and make sure that nothing concerning was going on, but has just been watching and is close enough to where she can hear most of the conversation whenever they get really excited and start gesticulating wildly about the problems that are happening at work, and just kind of is impressed with how that whole level of bullshitting just went so smoothly. [laughs]

NICK: Yeah. It’s like having three yellows on a roll.

CAMERON: Yeah, it’s ridiculous, like wow!

ROB: [laughs]

NICK: And there is definitely a point where two men in suits that are expensive but don’t fit quite right, like they didn’t know how to buy a suit, walk up and look at Karma.

NICK (as Suit): Hey, are these seats taken?

NICK: And Karma just glares them down.

CAMERON (as Karma): Yes they are.

NICK: And they slowly back away and leave the bar. [laughs] I think through his masterful control of body language Stiro is able to basically communicate to Karma.

ROB: Oh yeah, Karma gets some kind of subtle hand gesture that means the Star Wars equivalent of like sock on the doorknob.

[laughter]

NICK: And that hand gesture happens, Karma goes “oh,” and we get a George Lucas style side swipe and we’re at a new scene and we’re at a breakfast café in Stiro’s neighborhood, somewhere that is Stiro’s comfort zone, and Karma and Stiro are there debriefing the next morning.

ROB: Yeah, and the caf flows copiously.

NICK & CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: I don’t think Stiro got a lot of sleep.

NICK: No, probably not, not with seven successes.

CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: I mean, it is a time honored cornerstone of trade craft, let’s be real.

NICK: Yeah.

ROB (as Stiro): [stretches] Thank you for your assistance last night, Karma.

CAMERON (as Karma): I don’t feel like I did much.

ROB (as Stiro): Well, you know, my confidence was a lot better because I felt safe as a babe in arms the whole way through.

CAMERON (as Karma): Well, glad I could provide that service.

ROB (as Stiro): So, I think we have found a very good opportunity.

ROB: What’s the name of Diana’s overboss?

NICK: Yeah, so, the mark’s name – as you were able to identify between other activities last night – is Cord Trustbuilder.

CAMERON: [giggles]

ROB: Wonderful. [laughs]

NICK: [laughs]

CAMERON: Oh dear.

ROB: So, I will give Karma the rundown on Cord Trustbuilder, his position in this now recently made obscenely wealthier corporation, and his likelihood to embrace off the beaten path business strategies.

NICK: Yeah. The information you were able to gather: First of all, Diana is able to put you on his calendar as just an important opportunity at your leisure, and that’s just one com call from happening, she’ll just do that for you, because while she was quite taken with you she also thinks this is a big career move for her.

ROB: Oh yeah.

NICK: So, it’s like, hey you’re great, you’re pretty cute, but also the money though.

ROB: Yeah. Given the scam that I’m planning on running has admitted criminal aspects to it, the story I’m telling him is going to involve breaking laws. Diana is under the impression that I am a representative of a rival gang to Kettle’s gang.

NICK: Oh, very good.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: The way Corellia functions that isn’t a deal breaker, that’s how a lot of these things work. You don’t become a super-corporation like Serres Super Structure without having dealt with the underworld a certain amount.

ROB: I mean, they can help you or they can harm you, and one of them is a lot better for business.

CAMERON: Mm-hmm.

NICK: Yup. You struck old, because Cord Trustbuilder is the CFO of Serres Super Structure.

ROB: [deep chuckle]

NICK: He is the guy with the chess book- with the… tech- Bleh.

CAMERON: Checkbook?

NICK: Checkbook! As a millennial I find that word hard to say.

CAMERON: I understand.

ROB: Yeah, what is that?

NICK: Yeah. [laughs] He is the guy with his hands on the purse strings. Diana related his business structure, because you were asking about it. We get the shot of you both in a futuristic looking bed and she has the sheet up to her neck and you have the sheet at your waist even though that’s not how sheets work.

ROB: Right. Death stick hanging from my mouth.

NICK: Yeah. [laughs] She’s talking about how aggressive he is with his investing and how, she makes an offhanded comment about how lucky he seems to be as well in that he gambles for fun, with big numbers, and always seems to win. But she also talks about how he’s taken some very risky, some might say illegal moves of investing money into other projects before the first project has been completed and using that money. That’s how he got to be CFO. He’s pretty young, but he made really risky investment moves that paid off and the ends justified the means and now he is where he is.

ROB: Yeah. This is a guy destined for a meteoric rise and probably an epic downfall at some point.

NICK: If you have anything to say with it, yeah.

CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: Well, [stammers] yeah, maybe my thumb’s on a scale a little, but I mean who’s to blame me for, uh, yeah.

NICK: [laughs] Yeah. So, you know if you can get in and talk to this guy that if you can tell a good enough story, make yourself seem dangerous and smart enough, you could probably get a big hand on this money, but nobody gets to be that level without also being careful. They make the risks on purpose. So, you’re gonna have to tell quite a tale to get him to give you money.

ROB: Sure. Well, the good thing is my pitch doesn’t even involve directly giving me money, so…

NICK: Ohh~

ROB: Yeah. I’ll relate all of that to Karma about the obscene amount of money this guy has control over and how not risk-averse he is compared to anyone else who has ever had that amount of money without being a conquering military general in the history of the galaxy.

NICK & CAMERON: [laughs]

ROB: You can actually see Stiro’s eyes light up when he’s talking about this man’s personality from the intelligence he’s gathered. He’s a kid in a candy store. He can’t believe that he has this guy as the guy that he gets to talk to. It’s like the best thing that’s ever happened to him. He’s practically giddy at this point.

CAMERON (as Karma): Alright so, next step is to go talk to him?

ROB (as Stiro): As a matter of fact I’ve got a meeting with him. [chuckles] I’m on his calendar.

CAMERON (as Karma): Wow, how official.

ROB (as Stiro): Yeah. Don’t you worry, the alias that I’m using is not connected to Kettle and not even in an ancillary way to you. Don’t need to have a worry in your head about that.

CAMERON (as Karma): I tend to not be super worried about stuff like that. People kind of assume when you’re a bounty hunter that you’re just there to get paid so they don’t tend to say that it reflects poorly on you that you happen to be taking that person’s money.

ROB (as Stiro): When you realize that everyone is just here to be paid you see behind the curtain.

CAMERON (as Karma): Yeah.

NICK: [laughs]

ROB: And I grin. I order up a second plate of food. I’m clearly just in a great mood today.

NICK: It’s bacon, scrambled eggs and toast but looks like there’s an Instagram filter on it that makes all the colors wrong, because Star Wars.

ROB: Yeah, of course. Fantastic.

ROB (as Stiro): So, are you in the mood to stand about looking statuesque and imposing and professional for a little bit?

CAMERON: Karma rolls her neck and it cracks.

CAMERON (as Karma): I can do that.

ROB (as Stiro): [laughs] You sure can.

CAMERON: [laughs]

NICK: End of episode.

## Outro

CAMERON: Thanks for listening to Tabletop Squadron. If you enjoyed our show, please consider logging onto iTunes and giving us a five-star review. Five-star reviews will help new listeners to find the show, and every time we get one the squad adds five pounds to our max bench press. If you’re so inclined, you can also help support the show through our Patreon which can be found in the show notes, on our website, and basically anywhere else we post things. We have all sorts of Patreon levels including some of my favorites: Bantha Buddy, Tarkin’s Underwear Drawer, and Build-A-Beru which all have fabulous rewards and super great names.

Stiro Kuwe is played by Rob Stith. You can find him at @LordOfTheStith on Twitter and on his podcast, The ORPHEUS Protocol.

Karma Nailo is played by me, Cameron Robertson. You can find me on Twitter at @midnightmusic13.

Our game master is Nick Robertson, and you can find him on Twitter at @alias58.

Our intro song is Space Jam by Pablo Ribot.

Additional music by James Gunter.

Follow the podcast on Twitter and Instagram at @Tabletop_Squad, and join our Discord and share all of your food and cute pet photos with us. We also sometimes talk about Star Wars. You can find the link to join our Discord on our website and in our pinned tweet. See you next time.

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