[DayTrippers] - Adventure TF-1 | Tabletop Playtest #1

edited August 2014 in Actual Play
The following is the adventure module I created for my first tabletop playtest of the DayTrippers rules. I'll be posting an AP when I get around to writing it, and I'll be asking questions, answering questions, talking to no one in particular and publicly brainstorming on both the adventure and the rules further downthread. But I figured a good place to start would be to post the adventure module itself. That way those who want to discuss it will know what they're discussing, and those who want to run it can grab a copy and go.

SPOILER ALERT!
If you have any interest in being a player in a DayTrippers game, you should not read this thread. As of this moment, this is the only DayTrippers module in existence, so its evul sekrets must be guarded jealously from players' eyes. Hope you understand, it's for your own good, you'll thank me later, etc.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
M'kay? M'kay. Here we go.

Comments

  • edited August 2014

    THE LESS LITTLE PRINCE

    THE LESS LITTLE PRINCE is an introductory adventure module for one or two players. The story was inspired by using the Daytrip Generation rules.

    RANDOM DETERMINATIONS

    • Mission Type: Exploration/Into the Unknown
    • Destination Type: Dream World accessed via Subjective Slip. This already suggests a tone: introspective, allegorical, Jungian, etc.
    • What Has Slipped? Behavior & Meaning
    • How Far? Direct Allegory

    ADVENTURE OVERVIEW

    The players are contacted by a representative from “SlipTrip Travel” (STT) who offers them a spot on the launch schedule at Diaspora Ranch today. It seems the original crew bailed out at the last minute. No explanation is given. A Slip Dynamics roll DL 4 will allow a PC to recall a theory suggesting that flux storms may be unusually frequent along this vector.

    THE MISSION: Aerial mapping of planet “Chiba III” in the newly-charted flux node BORQ 9 (discovered by Al Borq, a smarmy rival for the PCs); this mission is a Cartesian Slip that should be a cakewalk.

    THE PAY: 10M per crewmember. Additional crew-bonus of 20M if a full planetary map including all major settlements is delivered. Per diem: Client will pay for 50mW of power, and will provide hotel accommodations in Sacramento. If the team has no SlipShip, the company will provide one. Crew must assume all other responsibilities.

    THE TRIP THERE: On the way, a Flux Storm sends the ship into a Subjective Slip relative to 3space, forcing the pilot to defend against 2 points of hull damage at DL 7. All PCs must roll PSYCHE vs DL 2 to avoid suffering The Fuzzies (-1 GRACE, -1 BRAINS) for 1d6 hours.

    THE LANDING: The ship crash-lands on asteroid B-612 - a small rock sphere roughly 100 meters in circumference featuring three small volcanos and assorted simple plantlife. Each PC must make a GRACE maneuver DL 3 to resist being mildly harmed. Survival Suits are not necessary here. This asteroid is home to the Less Little Prince. He’s a young man now, and instead of him coming to our planet, we’re crashing on his. The ship is still operable, but it’s dangerous to fly. There is a oddly-shaped machine part needed to fix it.

    THE PROBLEM: There are two. First, the PCs need to fix their ship. Second, they need to find their way back to Home-Earth. Before they can do those things, they’ll have to either risk flying their crippled ship, or capture a flock of passing birds (requiring a GRACE roll at DL 5), then deal with a cast of neurotic NPCs, and finally pay a visit to LP-1 Earth.

    THE TRIP BACK: On the way back there is 1/6 chance of Flux Storm, forcing the pilot to defend against 2 points of hull damage at DL 1d6+1, and again make PSYCHE rolls vs DL 2.

    NPCS ON HOME-EARTH

    Sergei Mancuso of SlipTrip Travel (the client)

    CHARM 2 Rhetoric +1
    STT is a well-known purveyor of SlipTrip tourist packages. They often finance research missions to newly-discovered Nodes in search of hip travel destinations, which is exactly their plan for Chiba III. Mancuso is a greaseball who has no scientific or technical understanding of the buzzwords he spouts gratuitously, but as a BRAINS roll (DL 2) will tell you, he’s really a glorified errand boy who represents the interests of the money people. A successful CHARM roll (DL 3) will get him to reveal that STT hopes to build a resort in an uninhabited region of Chiba III – before negotiating any deal with the planet’s inhabitants.
  • edited December 2014

    NPCS ON ASTEROID B-612

    The Less Little Prince (Ruler of Asteroid B 612)

    CHARM 3 Petulant Frenzy +2 Rhetoric +1
    GRACE 2
    Ruler of Asteroid B-612. A spoiled, moody teenager with curly golden hair and an annoying laugh. He has a dysfunctional relationship with his consort, who alternates between treating him in a motherly fashion and a coquettish one. His libido is boiling beneath the surface, seeking a physical connection. It’s a classic case of Oedipal displacement, and she isn’t making it any easier. His ideas and questions on “love” (sex) are nearly all he talks about, and he never lets go of a question once he asks it. The Prince is easily enraged, and if not placated, his temper can lead him to make irrational decisions. But he’s actually starved for any companionship that doesn’t drive him insane with desire. He enjoys the PCs’ attention, and thus he doesn’t want to tell them how to get back to Earth.
    • If he feels that one PC is particularly “worldly” he will approach that PC looking for romantic advice.
    • If he is asked about Earth, he remembers the place clearly but claims he doesn’t remember how to get to there directly.
    • If he is tricked or given reason to trust the PCs, he will recount a highly-edited version of his journey to Earth (including the part about hijacking a passing flock of birds). He will mention all six asteroids by number, but will give no more detail than to say it was the Geographer on Asteroid B330 who showed him the last step: the way to the big blue planet. A PC who succeeds in a BRAINS roll vs DL 3 will notice the direction in which the Prince glances while describing his avian-assisted departure: he’s looking directly at a distant spherical rock floating out there in space. You can just barely see it. This will turn out to be asteroid B-325 (home of The King).
    • If in addition to the above he is impressed or given some form of “tribute”, he will mention the time differential: it seems that only a few seconds passed here while he was on Earth for eight days.
    • It is possible to seduce the Prince (CHARM roll vs DL 4), but he would never initiate this himself, and his mood afterward will not be predictable. Rose’s, however, will be - if she finds out that he shared his attention with anyone but her.

    Rose (The Prince’s Consort)

    CHARM 3 Rhetoric +2 Seduce +1
    GRACE 3 Claws +1
    A beautiful woman in a green gown, with curvy hips and a head of luxurious red hair. She is trapped in a narcissistic dream of her own beauty, and although she loves the Prince (in her way), she mostly thinks of herself. She is vain and demanding. She knows she’s gorgeous, and she loves to hear it. In fact she insists.
    • If you flatter her enough, she’ll tell you anything she knows. She doesn’t know the directions to any of the other asteroids, but she does know many details about the Prince’s journey. She knows about the time differential, for instance. She also knows that the Geographer and the Businessman are the best bet to help the PCs determine the wayback to their own Earth. But how will the PCs convince her to tell them these things?
    • If you anger her enough, she may tell you just to get rid of you, but there will be “thorns” involved.

    LOCATIONS ON ASTEROID B-612

    The Throne

    It’s just a chair with a skirt, really, near the third (extinct) volcano (which the Prince uses for a footstool). Hidden beneath the chair is a drawing of a box with holes in it. When looking at the drawing, any PC who fails a PSYCHE roll DL 2 will hear the sounds of a sheep softly breathing inside.

    Volcano 1

    Sweeping out this volcano initially requires no roll, but must be done every day (the Prince does it). Each day it’s left unswept, the difficulty of sweeping rises by 1 (requiring a MIGHT roll). When the DL reaches 7, the volcano will erupt, destroying Asteroid B-612.

    Volcano 2

    Same as Volcano 1 above.

    The Baobabs

    Harmless trees on Earth, they pose a great threat to small planets (and asteroids) if left unchecked. Each day, Baobab seeds have a 1/6 chance of taking root. After that, to pull them up, follow the rules for sweeping volcanos above. When the DL reaches 7, the baobabs will destroy Asteroid B-612, breaking it into large chunks.
    IF VOLCANOS OR BAOBABS DESTROY ASTEROID B-612, pieces of the planet will fly in all directions, and the SlipShip (if still there) will be lost. Care to make a new crew and try to rescue this one?
  • edited August 2014

    TRAVEL AMONG THE ASTEROIDS

    It will require a Stellar Navigation maneuver against DL 3 to deliberately plot a course from any asteroid to Earth, or between any two asteroids (you may only attempt to do so if you know your destination is there in the first place, of course). In this pocket universe, space has breathable air.

    If the PCs set off in a random direction before the ship is fixed, either via busted SlipShip or migrating birds, they will be taken in a direction indicated by the table below. If you roll the same planet they just left, replace it with Asteroid B-612 (The Prince):
    ROLL	DESTINATION
    1 B-325 - The King
    2 B-326 - The Vain Man
    3 B-327 - The Drunkard
    4 B-328 - The Businessman
    5 B-329 - The Lamplighter
    6 B-330 - The Geographer

    NPCs on THE OTHER ASTEROIDS

    The King (Asteroid B-325)

    CHARM 2 Rhetoric +2
    He claims to rule the entire universe, to him all men are subjects. The only real “subject” you can find around here, however, is an old rat that comes out at night. The King’s power is empty. In order not to lose face, he gives only “reasonable” orders (“I order you to sit down”), and only commands people to do what they already would do. E.g.: He exercises power over the sun by ordering it to set at sunset. He will order the PCs to ask him questions, and to respond to him in some way. If he realizes the PCs are lost, he will order them to find their way home. The King knows the way to asteroids B-612 (The Prince) and B-326 (The Vain Man).

    The Rat (Asteroid B-325)

    GRACE 2 Stealing +1
    An old rat. He speaks. If you give him something to eat, he may be persuaded to steal a bauble from the king’s throne. This bauble would be worth 5M on Home-Earth.

    The Vain Man (Asteroid B-326)

    With his ridiculous hat he sees himself as the richest, smartest and most handsome man on his tiny planet. To him, all other men are admirers. He even even changes the meanings of your words to make them more about himself. He knows the way to asteroids B-325 (The King) and B-327 (The Drunkard).
    • If the PCs start to leave, he will plead with them to stay, mentioning all the fun things they can do – even if they’re not as good as him. He will challenge the PCs to contests of all types, rolling his 1d6 in all Stats with no Skill bonuses.
    • If he wins a contest he will gloat and insult the PCs with this clear sign of his superiority, and his head will grow visibly larger.
    • If he loses, he will fall into doubt and self-loathing, and it will be DIFFICULT to get any information out of his tiny head. The PCs may choose to hold back on their skill bonuses, but it must be their idea.
    • He will accept another challenge if persuaded, but if he fails twice in a row, his head will disappear and his suit will fall to the ground.
    • If he wins twice in a row, his head will expand until he floats off into space, shouting about how superior he is.

    The Drunkard (Asteroid B-327)

    CHARM 1 Rambling Story +1
    MIGHT 3 Brawling +2
    He lives alone with a collection of bottles and drinks to forget that he is ashamed of drinking. He has two mental states: the lover of all mankind and the violent beast. If you want to give your players a taste of the combat system, this is a good opportunity to do it. He knows nothing about Earth, but he may remember the little boy who arrived via birds one day. He knows the way to asteroids B-326 (The Vain Man) and B-328 (The Businessman), both of whom he dislikes and finds far inferior to him.
    • Every time anyone says anything to him, they must make a Rhetoric roll (DL 3) to keep him in the preferred state of mind.

    The Businessman (Asteroid B-328)

    BRAINS 2 Mathematics +2
    A large gentleman who’s too busy to even light the cigarette dangling from his lips. He spends his time counting the stars, which belong to him, “Because nobody else before me ever thought of owning them”. Then he writes down the numbers on a piece of paper that he puts in a safe. He is too busy to formally greet the PCs. “I have so much to do! I am concerned with matters of consequence. I don’t amuse myself with balderdash.” He does, however, possess a Star Chart in his desk which he updates at night, with all the asteroids and planets in this solar system clearly numbered. This chart can help the PCs determine where in this universe they are, but they’ll have to figure out how to get it. The Businessman doesn’t know the directions to any other asteroids, and he’s too busy to be concerned.

    The Lamplighter (Asteroid B-329)

    PSYCHE 2 Ignoring Distraction +2
    His planet is barely big enough for two people to stand comfortably, and rotates once per minute. His job is to light a lamp at sunset, by reaching up with a lantern on a long pole, and then to snuff it again in the morning (30 seconds later). He knows the way to asteroids B-328 (The Businessman) and B-330 (The Geographer).
    • If the PCs ask about the planet and its fast rotation, he will tell them that the tiny planet is spinning faster every year – there are now 1,440 sunsets every 24 hours. He’s growing fatigued from forever putting out his lamp and lighting it again, “but orders are orders,” he says.
    • If they ask him about his job, his employer or his pay, he’ll say that he’s been paid in advance, and that he spent all his money on “something shiny and new”.
    • If he can get a PC to take over his job for him, even for a moment, he will pull out a shiny new gun and shoot himself in the head.

    The Geographer (Asteroid B-330)

    BRAINS 3 Stellar Navigation +2
    PSYCHE 2 Appeal to Ego +2
    An old man who notes important information brought to him by explorers on his Extradimensional Charts. His planet is vast and magnificent, but he knows little about it because he’s “too important to waste his time browsing around”. He knows the way to all the asteroids, and to Earth, but never travels anywhere because he’s so important he has other people do the hard work of exploration for him. Others like you, perhaps.
    He will be very interested in hearing details of the PCs’ travels, if these details sound “important” enough.
    • If a PC fails to defend against his “Appeal to Ego” (PSYCHE), they will feel compelled to continue answering his questions for a while.
    • If the PCs mention Earth by name, he will remark that “that place has a good reputation” (it was he who advised the Little Prince to go there long ago, telling him the same thing).
    • If the PCs tell him about Earth’s really BIG features (the Amazon, Mt Everest, the Atlantic Ocean, etc) he will be impressed and positively inclined.
    • If he is distracted, dispatched or convinced, it will take a Stellar Navigation maneuver DL 4 and 4d6 hours of time to read his Charts.
  • edited August 2014

    NPCS ON LP1-EARTH

    As the birds approach Earth, it becomes harder to steer them in the desired direction. The birds will touch down by a railway switching station which sits beside a small lake, just north of a desert region. There the PCs will meet…

    The Salesman

    CHARM 2 Rhetoric +1 Fast Talk +2
    He sells pills that quench thirst, on the grounds that you can save fifty-three minutes a day if you don’t stop to drink. Each of these pills provides the hydration of one liter of water. A bottle of them would be worth 1M back home. He doesn’t remember the prince. He’ll forget you too, in about 60 seconds.

    The Switchman

    BRAINS 3
    PSYCHE 3 Speak Fitting Allegory +3
    He directs enormous trains carrying loads of unhappy people through the desert. He has a philosophical view of these passengers: he says they’re unfulfilled because they only consider the points, not the lines between. He says children are the only ones who appreciate and enjoy the beauty of train rides. He remembers the little prince quite clearly, and can tell you which direction he came from: due south, out there in the desert.

    Along the way the PCs will encounter…

    The Fox

    CHARM 3 Rhetoric +2
    GRACE 3
    PSYCHE 3
    Very pretty to look at, but speaks in riddles. The Fox teaches that in order to know something, you must tame it. By “tame” he means establish a relationship, i.e.: unless you build a relationship with a person and get to understand him or her, that person will remain indistinguishable for you from all other people in the world—and you, too, will not be unique to him or her. “One only understands the things that one tames“, says the fox, and “You become responsible forever for what you have tamed”. The Fox can tell the PCs a lot about the Prince, but they’ll have to tame him first. That will take 3d6 days.

    Deep in the desert, the PCs will find…

    The Pilot

    He’s dead of dehydration. In his pocket Is a sketched map of the surrounding area, showing a spot marked with an X not far from the crashed plane (this is where the snake will be found). There are tracks all over the area. In the wreckage of the plane is a part you can use to fix your ship.
    And finally…

    The Snake

    CHARM 3
    GRACE 3 Bite +3 Camouflage +2
    HEALTH 3
    BRAINS 3
    This yellow snake claims to have the power to return the PCs to their home, if they wish. The Prince let himself be bitten as his planet was so far away, he could not take his shell (his physical body).
    • Any PC bitten by the snake must make a HEALTH roll DL 5 to avoid death by its fast-acting poison. Any PC killed by the snake will awaken unharmed in their bed on Home-Earth, naked, with no proof of the mission ever having occurred. NOTE: This is a special power that the snake possesses; it is NOT necessarily true of all deaths that occur in Dream Worlds. Those kinds of questions are left to the GM.

    STICKING AROUND

    PCs who choose not to be bitten may try many things, but eventually they will figure out that there is no way to get back to Asteroid B-612. You simply cannot lasso a bunch of birds to escape the Earth’s gravity; it is an impossible feat. Years will pass, and then decades, before a rocket is developed that is capable of reaching the asteroids. The PCs may stowaway onboard this vessel. When they return to asteroid B-612, they will find that they have been gone for only one day per every 6 years on LP1-Earth.

    GETTING HOME

    Players must make the following rolls to get home after the ship is fixed:

    • IF THE PCS HAVE BOTH THE STAR DATA FROM THE BUSINESSMAN AND SOLAR SYSTEM DATA FROM THE GEOGRAPHER, they can get back to Home-Earth with a Stellar Navigation maneuver DL 3 and a Slip Dynamics maneuver DL 5. FOR EACH DATUM MISSING, the DL of each roll will increase by 1. They may only try this once per day, after having gotten (or believing to have gotten) their location figured out.

    • IF THE PILOT SUCCEEDS IN THE STELLAR NAV ROLL BUT FAILS THE SLIP DYNAMICS ROLL, the PCs will end up on LP1-Earth. They will crash-land somewhere near the edge of the Sahara Desert and will encounter the Switchman, the Salesman, the Fox and the Snake (in that order). The encounter with the Switchman alone should be enough to inform them that they’re not on Home-Earth, although he will have little of value to say (other than pithy metaphors).

    • IF THE PILOT SUCCEEDS IN THE SLIP DYNAMICS ROLL BUT FAILS THE STELLAR NAV ROLL, the PCs will end up somewhere in the universe of Home-Earth. They will then need to get their bearings (another Stellar Navigation roll DL 3) and make one more Cartesian Slip to get back home.

    WELCOME BACK

    When the PCs return to Home-Earth without data on BORQ 9, Mancuso will be angry. Some sort of CHARM will be required to set the pay back to original levels. If the PCs show him any items from the Dream World (especially the bauble or pills), take a +1 to that roll. If they mention it as a vacation destination, +1 again. Lastly, the PCs will get the right to give an official name to the Node we’ve been calling LP-1.

    BONUS EXPERIENCE

    In addition to the normal XP for the mission itself, PCs will receive 1 XP for every asteroid on which they solved a problem, made a friend, or obtained the information they needed from the inhabitants.

    >>> END OF SAMPLE ADVENTURE TF-1
  • Here is the aforementioned AP report...

    CHARGEN: The PC calls himself Poker George. His main source of income is (you guessed it) gambling, and he supplements it by flying Slipships whenever a well-paying jaunt becomes available. He has a DNPC buddy - a crewmate and henchman type of limited intelligence - named Lenny.

    SETUP:

    George receives a call from Lenny about a job: According to the Big Board, Sergei Mancuso of SlipTrip Travel is looking for a pilot. Seems they had a crew pull out at the last minute but the ship is fueled and waiting for its launch window this afternoon. They head out for the interview.

    Mancuso is a fast-talking greasy salesman type, and George easily determines that he doesn't even understand the meanings of the buzzwords he's been taught to use. He's flashy, he wears expensive clothes and talks like a bigshot, but with a couple quick die rolls George realizes he's an idiot and convinces him to throw a new Automated Survival Suit into the bargain. The job is a standard 6 circuits around the planet Chiba III to do a preliminary mapping of population density. Mancuso is so impressed with George's display of technical knowledge, he immediately hires him (and Lenny) as the new crew of the "Blue Beetle" and calls for a limo to take them to Diaspora Ranch. [George fails, however, to make a Slip Dynamics roll and therefore has no idea that the other crew pulled out because of the high probability of Flux Storms on this vector.]

    [GM Notes: The way into this adventure is a classic intro rail: a job that pays well and starts immediately. If the player hadn't taken the job, it would have been random adventure time.]

    THE TRIP:

    When the ship enters the Flux Storm, George makes a Piloting roll and barely succeeds in avoiding major damage. He and Lenny are tossed about and bruised a little bit, but otherwise safe and they take the ship down for an emergency landing on the nearest planetary mass - which happens to be Asteroid B-612 - the home of The Less little Prince.

    [GM Notes: The Flux Storm is a hard rail. There is no way to avoid it. From here on out, the default structure of the adventure is "sandboxes on rails" - meaning that while the overarching plot cannot really be circumvented and has only two terminal points, each asteroid along the path is an open-ended little sandbox with both explicit and implicit outbound rails. Despite the default order of the narrative, it *is* possible to visit the asteroids in different order, or to skip some entirely.]

    Upon landing, George and Lenny analyze the atmosphere, finding it breathable. They then survey the damage to the ship and discover they'll need a part they don't have. The temperature is moderate. There is no need for survival suits. George isn't sure whether this is the place they were sent to explore, but he decides to map it anyway. Since the asteroid is so small the buddies decide to do their mapping on foot. It's not long before they encounter the Prince, who is sweeping out a volcano. The Prince is very demanding and assumes the pair have come to pay him tribute. George decides to play along, giving the young Prince a deck of cards and a handful of dice from his pro gambler's kit. The Prince is delighted and begins warming up. George begins showing him cards tricks. Soon however, the Prince is called off by a female voice in the distance ("My Prince! Come here at once!"), and hurries away like a guilty child caught out late by his mother.

    George and Lenny continue their mapping, discovering the Baobab trees and the other Volcano. It takes only an hour to complete a map of the entire asteroid, which George draws and stores in his PDA. Soon they find themselves approaching the Prince's throne, where they see the youth engaged in an argument with a beautiful redheaded woman (Rose). The Prince introduces them and asks if George will show them how to play some dice games. George begins teaching the rules of Yahtzee. The Prince responds by telling tales of his travels to Earth, and explains how he caught a flock of passing birds to take him there. Rose is not impressed with George's irreverence, and storms off since the visitors are paying more attention to the Prince than to her.

    George leans forward and asks the Prince, "So what's *her* story?" The Prince looks like he's about to burst with suppressed emotion. Taking George to be a "man of the world", he takes advantage of Rose's absence to ask his new friend for some relationship advice. His hormones are raging, he's never felt like this before, and he wants to consummate his relationship with Rose but feels unable since her personality is so intense and authoritative. George tells the Prince he should communicate these feelings to Rose. The Prince agrees, but seems to be wavering. "Perhaps if you spoke to her for me," he suggests. George agrees to talk to her, and leaves Lenny to play with the Prince.

    Finding Rose examining his slipship, George speaks sternly to her, telling her that she knows full well the effect she's having on the young man. His words fall on deaf ears; she only seems to listen when he compliments her on her beauty. He begins to realize she's a narcissist. He gets angry, he tells her she is being cruel, and he calls her a tease. Rose responds with anger of her own. She charges back to the throne and demands that the pair leave the asteroid, showing George the way to their nearest cosmic neighbor: Asteroid B-325. There is no changing her mind. The Prince averts his eyes in deference.

    Without much ado, after several hours George and Lenny succeed in catching a flock of passing birds by using nylon mesh from their ship's emergency parachutes, shot out by the ship's grappling hook launcher. The Prince comes to bid them adieu. George again advises the Prince to tell Rose how he feels. As they begin lifting off into space they notice the Prince and Rose below them, they are embracing. Perhaps George's lecture had some effect after all.

  • ASTEROID B-325

    Their conversation with the King of Asteroid B-325 is relatively brief, as George quickly determines that the man is a egomaniac, and placates him by doing exactly as the King demands; asking questions and giving answers as ordered. Pleased with the pair's responses, the King quickly sends them on their way Asteroid B-326.

    ASTEROID B-326

    The encounter with the Vain Man provides some comic relief: this fellow claims to be better than everyone at everything, and challenges them to name their contest. Since George is a VERY good gambler (4d6+2) there's almost no way this man can beat him, so the two play a game of poker and George easily wins. The Vain Man shrieks and falls into hysterics, and the adventurers watch in shock as the man's head grows visibly smaller. The guy is inconsolable, and George can't get him to cough up any useful information. Finally he offers a rematch, deciding to lose on purpose. This works. Upon "beating" George, the man's head grows back to its normal size and his ego asserts itself again. "I'm better than you!" he cries happily. Between chortles, George gets directions to the next asteroid. Then, curious to see what might happen, George challenges the man to another match and lets him win again. This second victory pleases the guy so much, his head swells up like a big balloon and he begins floating away into space, shouting "I'm better than you!" George and Lenny watch him sail off, and then continue on their way.

    ASTEROID B-327

    The Drunkard is pretty difficult to deal with, as his moodswings are intense. One minute he's telling George and Lenny how much he loves them and toasting "the brotherhood of man", the next he's flying off the handle and threatening violence for imagined offenses. It takes several attempts at different lines of reasoning before George is able to coax the directions to the next asteroid out of him. Getting him to stop drinking, however, seems impossible. After trying a few logical but fruitless arguments, George and Lenny decide to leave him to his misery and travel on.

    ASTEROID B-328

    The Businessman is so distracted he is difficult to talk to, and seems highly stressed-out. George decides he needs to relax, and offers him a joint. Curious, the man actually stops his fretting for a few minutes and partakes of the offer. The weed has a very strong effect, causing him to get sleepy, and he passes out on the floor behind his desk. George and Lenny rattle through his possessions until they find the Star Chart, which indicates that there are two more asteroids between here and Earth. Off they go.

    ASTEROID B-329

    George is stymied by the Lamplighter, and cannot understand why he would continue doing such a pointless job. The man's anxiety is palpable, but he cannot forsake his duty. When questioned about his employer, the guy implies that the Businessman on Asteroid B-328 hired him and pays his salary in advance; in fact he's already spent it on "something shiny and new". George bites, asking what he bought. "I'll show you, if you hold this and take over for a moment," says the man. George complies, taking the lamplighting staff. No sooner has he done that than the man pulls out a shiny new gun and shoots himself in the head [Drinky Crow!] George and Lenny look at each other, trying to determine whether or not they should do anything. It is starting to dawn on George that he is in a Pocket Universe; a Dream World, and therefore normal rules of morality do not apply. He sets down the lamplighter's pole and they continue on their way, guided by their new Star Chart.

    ASTEROID B-330

    The Geographer is a more difficult challenge, as he obviously possesses a lot of useful data but is single-minded in his pursuit of geographical knowledge. George begins telling him about Earth, and the man breaks out a new pen to begin taking notes. The conversation goes on for hours, and there seems to be no end to the incessant questions. Noticing the Extradimensional Navigation Chart spread out on the desk, George asks to use it. The man is only interested in gathering data, not in sharing it. He demands that George and Lenny first answer all of his interview questions. He has several scores of sheets to fill out. George decides to strike a deal: "If you let me consult the Chart," he says, "I'll leave Lenny here with you so he can fill you in on everything you want to know." This seems fair to the Geographer. So Lenny takes over, describing all the biggest features of the planet Earth in detail, while George peruses the chart until he figures out where they are in relation to Home-Earth. As he suspected, this is not his reality at all. He bids farewell to Lenny, saying that he'll be back when he gets the needed part from the local Earth. George continues on alone.

    LP-1 EARTH

    He sets down near a railway station in a hot desert area. Judging by the visible technology it seems to be some time in the 1940s. The railway switchman is of little help and has nothing important to say, but he does remember the Little Prince, and he points George south into the desert, in the direction the youngster had gone.

    On the edge of the train platform George encounters the Salesman. He is actually quite interested in the pills this man sells; he would like to take some back to Home-Earth since he's sure they'll have some value. But he has nothing to pay with, so he challenges the man to a game of craps. As stakes, George puts up his Automated Survival Suit, which the Salesman had admired. The man accepts his offer. The game begins - and George LOSES! Amazed, he honors the bet, removing his survival suit and thanking his stars that it wasn't needed on this mission. He then continues into the desert in his civvies.

    After walking for a while George meets the Fox, who watches him from a little distance and seems to be whispering things. The encounter with the Fox is moody and slow-paced, but George shows great patience in eventually taming it, waiting several weeks for the timid animal to come close enough to be pet and talked to. George learns all the wisdom the Fox has to offer, then bids it farewell and continues southward.

    It begins to dawn on George that he is growing neither hungry nor thirsty. His facial hair has not grown at all since the trip began. Time is not passing for him the same way it is for other people.

    Soon George comes across the wrecked plane and the corpse of the Pilot, and while investigating this location he finds the machine part he's been needing. He takes it, and begins walking back northward.

    George encounters the snake when he is near the city. It is sitting beside a low wall, and it speaks to him, saying that it can send him home. George considers his options. Gravity on Earth is too great to catch a passing flock of birds, and space travel hasn't been invented yet (this being 1945 and all). He decides to take the chance, closes his eyes and sticks out his arm. The snake bites...

    ...and George wakes up naked in his bed, back in the year 2099. His phone is beeping: It's Lenny, who has been watching the Big Board for a possible job. George glances at his PDA and finds to his surprise that the map he had made of Asteroid B-612 is still there in RAM. He wipes the sleep from his eyes, and reaches over to pick up the phone.

Sign In or Register to comment.