Arion, Episode 25: Eavesdroppers

Let’s step up to twice a week for the Arioniad until we catch up to where we should be; we’re five episodes behind the curve now…

Irbev, 175-3401

It’s a long time since anyone has been to Irbev, and unlike popular stomping grounds such as Mizah, I have to look up what it’s like… My notes say it’s C8C0415-A, and was settled by Israelis during the Rule of Man.

World encounter (p.58-60): 44, learn a secret, roll Streetwise to get away with it. That’s the sort of thing Dmitri would do…

“What is that smell?” asks Coriander as the crew emerge onto the docks at Irbev Highport.

“Hydrogen sulphide,” Arion explains. “The main export is sulphur, they scoop-mine it from the atmosphere. You’ll get used to it.”

“Does anyone live on the surface?”

“Would you? Ninety atmospheres of air pressure, 500 degrees Centigrade, and it rains sulphuric acid.”

“I can see why they’re all up here.”

Dmitri is a Wild Card with Streetwise d8 and Investigator. He rolls 7 on the d8 and 6+1 = 7 on the Wild Die, then adds +2 to both results for the Edge, and takes the higher of the two results, scoring 9 in all – success with a raise.

By the time they’ve completed their transactions aboard the station and returned to the ship, they’ve acclimatised to the smell. This is just as well as it has followed them back, and will take weeks to scrub out of the ship’s air.


“Yes, Arion?”

“Why does the telemetry show one of our probes outside this particular location?” He calls up a schematic on the main screen by gesture. “Have we lost one?”

“Because that’s where it is, and no, we haven’t, it’s supposed to be there.”

“And why, exactly, is it supposed to be there?”

“I’m too big. They’d notice me. It’s right outside the Station Head’s office.”

“Go on,” Arion encourages, starting to realise he’s not going to like this.

“I’ve got a low-powered infrared laser bouncing off the window. I can analyse the fluctuations in the reflected beam to reconstruct the vibrations in the room, and that lets me hear what they’re saying. Dmitri thought we might learn something useful.”

“And have we?”

“Yes. I’ll assume you don’t want a verbatim report of all conversations, most of them are so boring that I spun off a sub-partial to listen to them and let me know when something worth listening to happened. To summarise, the Station Head – one Karmina Rosenstein – is secretly working for someone in the Mizah Combine. I haven’t figured out who yet. She is unhappy with the terms of her employment, and these will improve dramatically if she can ensure Combine control of the station. Or so her contact has reminded her. This is him…” The Dolphin displays pictures of someone in conversation with Ms Rosenstein.

Arion shakes his head. “You’re better at this than I am, Dolphin.”

“Naturally,” says the Dolphin. “I am considerably more intelligent.”

GM Notes

Like many of my successful worlds, Irbev’s physical characteristics are taken from a real planet, in this case Venus. It’s less work than building something credible to that level of detail, although it does limit the number of world ideas you have to play with. Many more recent games like Eclipse Phase or Nova Praxis limit themselves to the Solar System and a few extrasolar planets, and I suspect this may be so they can use real world info and so reduce the amount of worldbuilding effort. In honesty, the social shenanigans on-planet are usually more interesting than the environment, which serves largely as a backdrop; I reckon all you need to know about the planetary environment for most games is the answer to one simple question: “Mom, can I go play outside?”

  • Habitable World, High Population: “Yes dear, but watch out for the street gangs.”
  • Habitable World, Low Population: “Yes dear, but watch out for the Party-Butchering Hell Beast.”
  • Inhospitable World: “No dear, you’ll asphyxiate.”

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