Episode 5 – A Question of Loyalty

 

After the events of Smitten, the cordial business rivalry between Clan Ag and Clan Au turns decidedly cold. The clan leader Har-Dal-Au is furious over his daughter marrying beneath her station. In addition, her marriage to Clan Li would have been very advantageous to Clan Au and the renege has not only cost Har to compensate Clan Li, it caused him to lose face among his peers. As a result of this embarrassment, Har has decided to punish the upstarts by using his Clan’s wealthier position relative to Clan Ag to ruin them financially.

 

Much of Clan Ag’s wealth comes from their large fleet of fishing feluccas. Clan Au runs much of Davao’s docks and fish markets. The majority of the clans of Davao pay for the use of the Au facilities with a percentage of their catch. Since the fish pass through Au warehouse on the way to market, Clan Au has always had the right to inspect any merchandise before it goes to market. Normally, this is a perfunctory search looking for only the most obvious signs of problems, but since the elopement of his daughter, all Clan Ag catches have undergone rigorous inspections. This has delayed the delivery of the fish and has allowed other clans to gain market share at the expense of Clan Ag and the loss of sales has impacted the clan’s prosperity.

 

In addition to the blatant inspections, there have also been other less overt problems for Clan Ag boats in the form of ‘accidents’ that have damaged boats and equipment, as well as injured crew. The accidents have started to cause fist fights between the clans in taverns on the docks. In an effort to stop the escalating cycle of violence, Tosk-Dan-Ag the clan head has his son Chi-Dan-Ag speak to the humans in private to see if any of their wondrous technology can help prove that the problems on the docks are no accidents.

 

The first difficulty the humans face is their obvious inability to pass unnoticed among the Lemurians. The only way to mitigate this unavoidable problem is to get the people of Davao used to seeing humans in places they do not regularly visit. Chi-Dan-Ag suggests, as a part of a training program, the humans in Clan Ag begin working the docks and feluccas just as any other member of the clan would do.

 

Earning the respect of the Lemurians is a HARD Complex Action of Strength + Craft, Strength + Pilot / Felucca, or Intelligence + Knowledge / Sailing with a time increment of one day and a ten day limit. The Lemurian sailors and dockworkers respect hard work and skilled seamen, but if the PCs can’t show their mettle quickly, they will never fit in, which is what a failure in this task represents. Anyone that fails the task will earn a four-step penalty to all social skills when dealing with the Lemurians of the docks. In addition, if the PCs fails, they must immediately roll a HARD Willpower + Influence / Persuasion or Willpower + Discipline / Intimidation roll to avoid a fist fight with one of the dock workers. Even those that succeed will only earn grudging respect and will have a two-step penalty to social skills. Only if a PC can succeed at the FORMIDABLE level in the ten day limit will they have truly earned the Lemurian’s respect and not be at a penalty to their social rolls.

 

If a PC gains acceptance, only then can they begin an investigation of the problems befalling Clan Ag. Finding out someone that will talk is not easy as Clan Au has so much influence in this part of Davao. Making the right connection is another HARD Complex Action using Intelligence + Perception / Investigation, Intelligence + Perception / Deduction, Willpower + Covert / Streetwise, or Willpower + Influence / Conversation with a time increment of one day and a ten day limit. Again, successfully negotiating the dock taverns is one of earning respect and proving discretion within a reasonable amount of time. If a PC should fail, they end up in a fist fight. If the PC Botches twice, things are much worse with an encounter with three Lemurians armed with knives and bent on murder.

 

Should a PC succeed with becoming ‘one of the guys’ then they are introduced to an older Lemurian missing part of his left ear and his left eye named Fen-Tri-Ng. Fen tells them that they are indeed troubles on the Docks and that if they stakeout a certain Au warehouse, they will have a chance to see Au bigwigs planning their next round of ‘accidents’.  

 

GM Note: All of the above rolls require a skill with Lemurian of no less than d8 to succeed. If the PC won’t take the time to speak to the Lemurian in their language, then that person obviously doesn’t really want to be their friend and will automatically fail.

 

Successfully reaching the isolated warehouse will require a HARD Agility + Covert / Stealth roll and remaining unseen while getting close enough to hear what is going on requires another HARD Agility + Covert / Stealth roll and an AVERAGE Alertness + Perception / Hearing roll. If the PC(s) succeed in these they will hear a meeting in progress of Clan Au members, but nothing of any use regarding the sabotage. Instead, just as they realize nothing of substance is being said the PC(s) can attempt an Opposed Roll of Alertness + Perception / Hearing versus the Agility + Covert / Stealth of their as yet unseen adversaries. Any PC that succeeds will have their full defense against the attacker that boils out of the darkness. Anyone that fails will only have their Innate Defense, with a Botch leaving the PC unable to take any defense.

 

There are a number of attackers equal to the PCs and attacking with Scotas with the intent to kill. They will fight until half of their number is dead or unconscious before attempting to flee. If the PCs pursue, begin a HARD Opposed Complex Roll using Agility + Athletics / Running against the attacker’s same skills with each roll taking one combat turn. The first to reach the threshold number wins, if the PC wins, they corner the attacker who immediately turns to fight without mercy and has to be beaten unconscious or killed to subdue. If the attacker wins, they lose the PC(s) in the alleyways. If both reach the target number in the same round, whoever has the highest total wins. In the unlikely event that an Attacker is captured alive, the city patrol arrives and whisks the prisoner away before the PCs can question them and in the morning, the prisoner has managed to escape. Returning to the warehouse, finds nothing more than a business operation and attempting to find Fen-Tri-Ng fails. Depending on the outcome of the above encounter, the PCs may have suffered serious injury or even death and are essentially back to square one in their investigation.

 

To add insult to their frustration and probable injury, Kie-Dal-Au the spurned son of Har-Dal-Au lodges a formal complaint with Aako-Hris-Am that the humans of Clan Ag are disturbing the peace. This forces Clan Ag has to respond to the charges with an Argument before the mayor of Davao. The Argument is a series of Opposed Rolls that measures Stress versus Composure (Alertness and Willpower). Verbal attacks are made with Willpower + Influence / Persuasion versus Willpower + Discipline. The higher roll inflicts Stress. The first one to accumulate Stress “damage” equal to or greater than his Composure loses the Argument.

 

If Kie wins an Extraordinary Success, he is considered to have achieved a breakthrough against the humans causing a loss of confidence in the Tail-less Ones and is convincing enough that even Lemurians who were not part of the Argument are also shaken. This results in all humans suffering a one-step penalty to Social Skills.

If Kie wins, he makes enough of a point that the Argument changes the Human/Lemurian Relationship in a negative fashion temporarily for a week, giving anyone else that starts an Argument or a Discussion will gain a two-step Skill bonus against the humans.

If Kie fails, he is unable to alter the Human/Lemurian Relationship.

 

If the human spokesman wins an Extraordinary Success, he is considered to have achieved a breakthrough against Kie and causes a loss of confidence in Clan Au convincing enough that even Lemurians who were not part of the Argument are also shaken. This results in all humans gaining a one-step bonus to Social Skills for the duration of the confrontation.

If the human spokesman wins, he makes enough of a point that the Argument changes the Human/Lemurian Relationship in a positive fashion temporarily for a week, giving anyone else that starts an Argument or a Discussion will gain a two-step Skill bonus against Clan Au.

If the human spokesman fails, he is unable to alter the Clan Ag/Clan au Relationship.

 

Once the events before the mayor have played out, the humans still find themselves at square one in their investigation. Since a direct investigation failed, it only takes an AVERAGE Intelligence + Perception / Appropriate Specialty to realize that perhaps a more discreet investigation might work better. If the humans killed any of their attackers during their aborted stakeout, none of the dead were members of Clan Au they were all known ne’er-do-wells of lesser clans.

 

The critical evidence the humans need is to show proof that Clan Au is hiring the thugs. In order to prove this, the humans do indeed have a form of wondrous technology that will provide this proof, namely by using one of the many cameras that have been languishing among the human’s personal belongings since “The Storm.”

 

Getting the incriminating photos will require shadowing Kie-Dal-Au until he meets with his low life proxies. Discreetly following the arrogant Lemurian will take several hours and is a HARD Complex Action of Agility + Covert / Stealth or Shadowing and during the critical period will have a time increment of twenty minutes and must be accomplished within two hours (six rolls). If the PC(s) fail to reach the Threshold in time, they are spotted and will again be attacked by Scota armed thugs equal to their number and out for blood.

 

If the PC(s) do succeed, they catch Kie-Dal-Au in the process of meeting the thugs. Capturing the meeting on film is an AVERAGE roll of Agility + Artistry or Intelligence + Technical Engineering. However, due to the low light, the flash of the camera will immediately give the humans away. This results in a HARD Opposed Complex Roll using Agility + Athletics / Running against the pursuer’s same skills with each roll taking one combat turn. The first to reach the threshold number wins, if the PC wins, they escape. If the pursuers win, they corner the PC(s) who must then fight for their lives.

 

Assuming the PC(s) escape, they receive a summons from Aako-Hris-Am that Clan Au has now claimed the Rite of Expulsion against the humans. Essentially, the actions of the Tail-Less Ones have become so disruptive to the good order of the city that they must be stripped of their status and cast out to the jungle to survive or not as fate decrees. This is a deeply serious charge and if the humans lose, Aako will have no choice but to declare the humans outcasts.

 

Clan Au has stacked the proceedings with witnesses that play up everything the humans have done since working on the docks and, circumstantially, their actions do look damning. The best the humans can do against the tide of innuendo is to stall while they work on their trump card in the form of the photos. One human will have to take on the role of ‘Talker’ who will defend their actions with a FORMIDABLE Complex Action using Intelligence + Influence / Persuasion or Willpower + Performance / Acting. Each individual roll is HARD and with a success stalls 15 minutes, an Extraordinary Success buys 30 minutes, a Fail only 10 minutes, and a Botch none. The PCs can stall no longer than four hours regardless of individual rolls. If the PC Botches twice, their discussion is cut off and Aako will then make his ruling.

 

As the Talker is doing their best to stall, another FORMIDABLE Complex Action is going on in the background using Intelligence + Scientific Expertise / Chemistry to concoct the proper chemicals to develop the film. Each roll takes 15 minutes and has to be completed in four hours or Aako will make his ruling without them. If the PCs succeed, they will produce a stable photo showing Kie-Dal-Au paying off the thugs and will result in the humans being exonerated.

 

In addition, being caught will also result in Clan Au suffering a massive lose of face and prestige in Davao as well as having to pay Clan Ag restitution. This causes Clan Au to have to sell so much property to meet the debt that it breaks their strangle hold on the docks and creating lower costs for everyone by creating competition for business.  

 

If the PCs fail to produce the photos, they are escorted from the city and cast into the jungle with only what they have on them.

 

GM Note: As the cost of failure is so high, Plot Points are highly recommended for the Talker and the Developer to succeed in their tasks.