Saturday, 18 January 2014

Preview: New Hope City PI (Part 2)

Following on from Part 1 of my preview, It's time to get on with the first game. Before investigating the case, I picked a figure for my PI and decided on his stats. Like all THW games, the key statistic is REP (as in Reputation), a catch-all measure of the character's quality. In NHCPI, this is supplemented by four skills to account for variations in things like fitness and street smarts. Characters also get two skills (chosen or determined at random). The figure I choose has two pistols, so I equip him as such as well as deciding on a few pieces of additional equipment. Then I'm all set to go.

Not your standard gumshoe
First thing to do is meet with my employer. A few die rolls later and I have determined it will be a morning meeting in a building in the factory district [Note: The tables in the game are specific to the game setting, but are easily modified to your own. In this case, I have removed the 'Financial District' and replaced it with a 'Factory District', more suited to my specific setting].

Using the NPC generation process, it turns out the employer is an Engineer. As the victim of the crime is an engineer and this chap is his boss, it is a simple matter to decide he must me a senior engineer at the factory.

Yes, this is an engineer. Mainly as he is one of the few unarmed Star Wars figures I own...
Before getting to the meeting, I need to find if I have had a random encounter on the way. This is a simple 1 in 6 chance and I don't have one this time round.  That's good as I'd rather not be robbed or mugged at the moment!

The initial meeting is always set up as a "Chillin'" encounter, often used in 5150 if your characters are looking to recruit others, or just gong about their business. Other encounters usually focus on a raid or other hostile action, so it makes sense. Each area has a Law Level and a number of possible NPC encounters depending on the time of day. In this area in the morning, there is a good level of security (4) and not many people around (1 potential contact). The Law Level is used to determine if additional PEFs (Potential Enemy Forces) appear. You need to roll a double higher than this level at the start of the turn for this to happen, so there is not a great chance of unexpected activity in this game.

The PEF is between me and my objective, so I will almost certainly encounter it

Almost anything can happen in games from THW and they specialise in the unexpected, a real boon for solo gamers. But it looks like this scenario will be a quiet one, something I am pleased about as I only want to meet my employer, not get into any tussles.

A couple of turns in, and I come into line of sight of the PEF, which has moved towards me. NHCPI contains comprehensive PEF resolution tables, so being in different areas will result in meeting different people.

I see it, but what is it?
THW games can often be about more than just the fighting, and in this case I really don't want anything too difficult. If it is some kind of street tough looking for trouble I could get hurt (or worse) and I need to get on with my business. Worse, if the fighting starts, the police could get involved. In the rules as written, the police will either be human or Zhuh-Zhuh (think really tough intelligent monkeys), but I've modified this possibility so that they will either be planetary security or Stormtroopers (as the planet is under Imperial control). So getting into a fight only to be shot or arrested by Imperial troops would be a seriously bad outcome at this stage...

Luckily, I roll for PEF resolution and get a 'Something's out there' result. So this time it was nothing, but future rolls have a higher chance of being something. For fun, I decide it was a group of Jawas and place them on the table.

Jawas seem to be everywhere these days!
Onward! I make my way to the meeting with no further incident and approach the building. When I enter, I have to roll for another PEF and this will almost certainly be something this time round.

Yeah, my sets are a bit 'wonky'
I head in and see what happens... The PEF is resolved as an encounter, but just a single figure. Turns out it is a 'Criminal Element' and in this case a hacker. I figure that could work in Star Wars even if it isn't a 'Matrix' style cyber-warrior... (R2-D2 kind of hacks the Death Star after all!). I rummage round my figure collection and pull out a Twi'lek scoundrel. He'll do. A couple of rolls on the NPC generation charts and I find he is only REP 3. Probably why he is hanging out with no friends...

After this, I see what kind of interaction I have with him. This can have a range of outcomes depending on an opposed 'People' skill roll and the type of person you are interacting with. Interaction with criminals can get a bit nasty if you are not lucky. Fortunately he is happy to ignore me. This is fine with me, but I file his stats away for future use in case I need to find myself a hacker at some point. There is also a chance of meeting previously encountered characters again, so our paths might cross in future.

A pair of big guns doesn't impress everyone, it seems...
That out of the way, I meet my employer. I find out that I will be paid 3 Items for a successful investigation (Instead of book-keeping with currency the game uses 'Items' as a measure of wealth and equipment). I also need to find out whether the first clue in my investigation will be an Object or a Person of Interest. A die roll on the right table tells me it will be an object. The first object is always in the location of the crime. But what is it? Well, the game won't tell you that, but this is an element often best left to the player because of the massive variation possible. In this case it is entirely appropriate that there was some kind of security footage taken at the scene, so I'm gong to scoot over there and see if I can get hold of it. As for the current scenario, I leave the table and check for another travel encounter. There is none. The time moves from 'Early' to 'Day Time' and I'm ready for the next encounter.

So, an uneventful game in many ways. But it could have gone another way quite easily and, if it wasn't for making notes and taking pictures, it would have taken no more than 10-15 minutes, so really I'd be looking to play several of these encounters during a single session. Of course, more PEFs, a different location, the time of day and the Law Level all have an impact. This was a relatively 'safe' encounter.

This does of course barely scratch the surface of what the game offers and my next write up will be of a more eventful scenario!


  1. That's a pretty nifty use o fthe rule-set. makes me think it'd be good to pull out my Star Wars minis and pump some new life into them, very cool idea indeed

    1. Sorry for the late reply. Thanks for your comment. I do think they work well. The my have now been published but I have not bought them yet as I'll probably have to upgrade to the newest version of 5150: New Beginnings in order to use them. But I do hope to continue this story soon.