Episode 9 – Boil, Boil, Boil, and Bubble
The oil discovered proves to be a sweet, light, crude that flows without difficulty via the primitive gravity fed pipeline set up at the well head. Now that the humans have a reliable source of fuel, they must convert the raw oil into gasoline for the Macao Clipper, but not everyone in Davao believes in progress. Sak-Tel-Ay has watched the Tail-less Ones worm their way into, what he considers, influence that they do not deserve. While old sky-priest doesn’t know much about what makes their flying boat work, one thing he does know is that, without it, the Tail-Less Ones’ influence in Davao would be greatly diminished.
The reason Sak-Tel-Ay hasn’t taken direct action to destroy the plane is due to an overabundance of caution. As in addition to the Macao Clipper being guarded at all times, the frequent maintenance, and the fact that one or more of the Tail-less Ones usually spends the night on the plane, a direct attack would run far too much risk of being thwarted and, even more importantly to Sak-Tel-Ay, of exposure of his involvement.
With all the work on the drilling rig and pipeline being done by Davao residents that have been corrupted by Aako-Hris-Am’s misguided belief in the Tail-less Ones, Sak-Tel-Ay has been unable to manage to interfere with their plans. Now that the next phase of the Tail-less Ones will take place so close to the city, the sky-priest finally believes he is in a position to take action to prevent the further corruption of the People.
While Sak-Tel-Ay plots his move, for the humans and residents of Davao, the first step in the refining process is building a place to store large amounts of oil. Fortunately, Davao has ready access to copper. The enormous kettles needed to act as storage tanks will require the assistance of the master smith Jon-Mak-An to create. Obtaining his assistance is a test of Willpower + Influence / Persuasion with the difficulty depending on if the PCs asked for his help in the previous episode. If not, the difficulty is HARD (11), if they did as for his help, then the difficulty becomes FORMIDABLE (15) as the humans have become a bit of a nuisance to the very busy businessman.
However, even on a successful roll to persuade him to help, even though the kettles will only take two weeks to make, such a massive outlay of materials and manpower is beyond the smith’s ability to absorb the costs just to satisfy a curiosity of the Tail-Less Ones. What Jon-Mak-An asks in return as compensation will again depend on what happened during the previous episode. If the PCs did not come to him to fund their expedition into the jungle, he will want the humans to give him ten percent of the well’s output in addition to them building him an oil-fired blast furnace for his shop to allow him to begin working with iron. This is a FORMIDABLE (75) Complex Action of Intelligence + Craft with each roll taking a week. If the PC should roll a second Botch, the project can continue, but all work up until that point is lost.
If the PCs did obtain his help and they have already agreed to build him the blast furnace, Jon asks for a Finery Forge to turn the pig iron into wrought iron. This is a HEROIC (95) Complex Action of Intelligence + Craft with each roll taking a week. If the PC should roll a second Botch, the project can continue, but all work up until that point is lost.
Sak-Tel-Ay is all too aware of how much influence the Tail-Less Ones has cost him and knows that he can not derail their plans simply by speaking to the merchants of Davao as he also knows they are all too tainted by the temptations the Tail-Less Ones offers of technology has made them. Sak still has influence with People that make their living from the sea, but even this influence is diminished as even the High-Chief of Home Tellana, Sedje-Sar-Ak has allowed himself to join in the land folk’s apostasy.
Sak’s only real source of supporters are aboard Home Dalmora. However, even there, how much influence Sak still has will depend on the PCs previous actions. If during the Episode “We Need Help” the characters picked up the Branded complication, then Sak will have a great deal of pull as word of the PC’s action reach those aboard the Home from the fisher folk of Davao. If the PCs did not gain the new trait, Sak’s ability to sway others to his cause will not be as great. Sak meets in total secrecy from Visk-Del-Ab and his supporters, mainly using a handful of trusted junior sky-priests of his own clan. If the PCs are Branded, Sak finds six from Dalmora to do his bidding. If the PCs are not Branded, only two of Dalmora’s residents will join his cause.
As Sak’s plot thickens, the construction of the ‘refinery’ moves on to its next phase, as once the storage kettles are in place, the next step in producing gasoline is building the copper boiler to heat the oil to boil off gasoline. The construction of this primitive refinery requires a vertical copper boiler cylinder and piping. This is another FORMIDABLE (75) Complex Action of Intelligence + Craft with each roll taking a week. If the PC should roll a second Botch, the project can continue, but all work up until that point is lost.
In order to have the maximum effect, the saboteurs wait until the refinery construction has reached the halfway point before making their move. How the attack occurs will depend on the number of followers Sak has managed to obtain. If there are only two men, one will sneak into the dock area, near the Macao Clipper, but not on the same pier where the plane is tied up and start a small fire. He will use Grillka oil soaked rags to ensure the fire is very smoky. If he is not stopped, the resulting confusion results in a two-step penalty to any attempts to notice the real sabotage. Any PC with Things Go Smooth can spend a Plot Point to be on the plane’s pier and be in a position to spot the figure lurking in the darkness. This is an Opposed Roll of Alertness + Perception / Sight versus the saboteur’s Agility + Covert / Stealth. Characters that do not have Things Go Smooth will have to spend two Plot Points to have the chance to spot the saboteur.
If the saboteur is detected, the PC can raise the alarm before he has a chance to start the fire and at that point, the Lemurian attempts to flee into the dark maze of the seafront. Due to the Lemurian’s large head start, the pursuit is a FORMIDABLE (75) Complex Action of Agility + Athletics with each roll taking one Combat Turn. If the pursuer(s) fails to reach the threshold in ten Combat Turns (30 seconds) the skulking figure escapes unseen. If the PC(s) succeed, they catch the Lemurian who turns, draws a scota, and fights as if possessed. Run the combat as normal, but if the saboteur suffers fifty percent Wounds, he will attempt to kill himself. A PC has only once chance to succeed in a Disarm Called Shot or the saboteur will succeed. If by chance the PCs do capture the Lemurian, he is a zealot to his cause and it will be very difficult to get him to talk. It is an HEROIC (95) Complex Action of Willpower + Influence / Interrogation or Discipline / Interrogation with each roll taking ten minutes and if the questioning takes longer than ninety minutes, it will be too late to stop his companion.
Whether the decoy is detected starting the fire or not, the second saboteur sneaks into the half finished refinery and starts a fire inside the structure. Again, if there is to be any chance of spotting him, a PC with Things Go Smooth must spend two Plot Points to just happen to be walking near the refinery and in a position to spot the figure lurking in the darkness. This is an Opposed Roll of Alertness + Perception / Sight versus the saboteur’s Agility + Covert / Stealth. Characters that do not have Things Go Smooth will have to spend three Plot Points to have the chance to spot the saboteur. As with the decoy, if the saboteur is detected, he will flee with the PC(s) using the same rules to pursue, fight, and capture him. If the saboteur is captured, the interrogation is just as difficult, but the time increment is thirty minutes and the only information he will reveal is his partner and neither Lemurian will admit working for Sak.
If there were six Lemurians working for Sak, two will conduct the sabotage exactly as above. The other four will attempt to ambush as many of the humans as possible. Any PC with Things Don’t Go Smooth or any PC that fails in an AVERAGE (7) Intelligence + Covert roll will be attacked by surprise. Detecting the ambush in time to be able to react normally is for each PC at risk an Opposed Roll of Alertness + Perception / Hearing versus the saboteur’s Agility + Covert / Stealth. If the attacker sustains fifty percent Wounds, he will attempt to flee. Since they do not have a head start, the pursuit is an AVERAGE (35) Complex Action of Agility + Athletics with each roll taking one Combat Turn. If the pursuer(s) fails to reach the threshold in ten Combat Turns (30 seconds) their attacker escapes. If trapped, the Lemurian he will attempt to kill himself. A PC has only once chance to succeed in a Disarm Called Shot or the saboteur will succeed. If by chance the PCs do capture the Lemurian, he is a zealot to his cause and it will be very difficult to get him to talk. The interrogation will be just as difficult as above, but the time increment is thirty minutes and the only information he will reveal is his partners and none of them will admit working for Sak.
If the sabotage is stopped and the refinery is successfully completed, initially learning to operate the facility safely, is a FORMIDABLE (15) roll of Intelligence + Mechanical Engineering. After the first week, the difficulty drops to HARD (11) and after the first month, the task becomes AVERAGE (7). The results of failing the skill roll means no usable product was produced for that day, while a Botch damages some of the equipment putting the refinery out of operation for d2 days. If the sabotage is successful, the refinery burns to the ground and will have to be restarted from scratch. Proving the fire was deliberately set is only an AVERAGE (7) Intelligence + Perception / Investigation roll. The anger that someone within the city would do such a thing in the face of the Grik menace fuels enough outrage that Aako sees to it that the refinery is rebuilt at no additional cost to the Tail-Less Ones. In addition, Chi orders that guards be assigned to the new facility, which prevents another incident.
Short of any interruption of operation for a sustained period of time (more than a week), the refinery produces more than enough gasoline that there is no need to track the specifics of output. The end result of all this human and Lemurian labor is gasoline, and while lower in octane than intended for aviation engines, capable of keeping the Macao Clipper flying for the foreseeable future. However, the reduction in octane will result in roughly a ten percent drop in top speed and will require adjustments to the engines for them to run well on the weaker fuel as well as a substantial increase in engine maintenance.
Figuring out the adjustments is a HARD (11) Intelligence + Mechanical Engineering roll, but only has to be done once. The necessary maintenance required is an AVERAGE (7) Intelligence + Mechanical Engineering roll after every flight. If this is not done, the plane will lose five percent more from the top speed for each additional flight until the maintenance is performed. Once the plane is reduced to seventy-five percent of top speed, during each additional flight, the flight engineer must succeed in a HARD (11) Intelligence + Mechanical Engineering roll or the plane will suffer an engine failure that can not be repaired in flight. If the maintenance is ignored until such time as the plane’s top speed is reduced to sixty percent, the engines are so fouled that the plane will be incapable of flight. If the engines cease to function, it will take a HEROIC (95) Complex Action of Intelligence + Mechanical Engineering to repair each engine. Once the maintenance is performed, all temporary speed reductions will be restored except for the initial ten percent caused by using the substandard fuel in the first place.
Agility: d10, Strength: d6, Vitality: d8, Alertness: d8, Intelligence: d8, Willpower: d8; Life Points 16; Initiative d10 + d8
Traits: Nature Lover (Minor Asset), Sharp Sense: Vision (Minor Asset), Talented: Climbing (Minor Asset), Deadly Enemy: Grik (Minor Complication), Loyal (Minor Complication), Superstitious (Minor Complication).
Skills: Athletics d6 / Climbing d8, Covert d6 / Stealth d8, Discipline d6, Knowledge d6 / Sailing d8, Perception d6 / Sight d8, Melee Weapon Combat d6 / Scota d8, Pilot d6 / Helmsman d8, Survival d6, Unarmed Combat d6 / Brawling d8