Humankind has always been just a small bit of biomass on a spinning rock around an uncaring sun. But now the fate of human kind is an even smaller bit of biomass on a smaller, faster spinning rock. Human kind cares for them now as all hopes are riding on the shoulders of two women, clinging to the sides of The Orb like flecks of ice on a airplane’s engines that is doomed for a splashdown.
“Thanks for the medicine, Shirley, it’s helping a lot. Maybe too much.” Her voice was coming out in short, sharp breaths as she began fastening the engines to the side of The Orb. She tried not to think about all the debris beside her belonging to The Armstrong, her ship, her only way home, and probably home, too, to the body of another of her companions.
“You wouldn’t want all those good drugs going to waste, would you?” Shirley was breathing hard, too. They both had taken pretty much every precautionary medicine they could before they began their tasks, many of them acting as uppers to keep themselves sharped and focused. No one wanted to pass out from exhaustion and doom humanity from want of a cup of coffee or because of a bit of lethargy.
Of course, all the medicine in the world can’t fight physics, and when your NERVA engines want to float off of The Orb when the centripetal forces were this strong, they were going to go. Would the two astronauts be able to bring them back down to ear…rock?
Alison is up to the plate. 1 die versus 5. Now 1 die versus 8 due to Alison’s 3 harm. Shirley spends her Story Point to use her doctor power and lower that to 1 die versus 7. WOO! She also helps for 2 dice versus 7. My options are thus: Use the things that were “Brought” by the characters for an extra die: A wooden Christian cross – A Philadelphia Flyers Jersey – A signed copy of “Contact” – Fake doctor credentials. A bit of a stretch to use that to help floating engines. I could use one of the three remaining story points to get an extra die due to Alison’s Engineering ability. Or I could steal dice away from The Plan to survive this threat, but make it harder to succeed in the end. I could also have a character die and end the threat immediately. I have to risk things: One story point makes it 3 vs. 7. I take one die to make it 4 vs. 7 and roll. May the odds be ever in my favor (even though they’re not).
Don’t believe me?
It may happen yet!
I had to count that a few times, but that’s 22 to 21, isn’t it? A hit! A palpable hit!
Of course, we have to start the next round, which puts us back at 1 vs 4. Which is 1 vs. 7. 2 vs 7 with Shirley’s help. Another plot point gone. Hell, all of them gone to make it 3 vs 6. And another white die gone makes it 4 vs. 6. I want to last at least 1 scene in Act II!
And there goes all my luck. Black succeeds by more than 5, which places 2 Harm on all characters who participated. Which puts both characters at Harm 5…which kills them. Alison’s death needs to happen now, so we might as well. Shirley is supposed to die when she helps a friend. I could cheat death and remove all the harm on Shirley, which is the only way to keep going. Of course, there’s no “friends” left….
The engines sputter to life, pushing on The Orb, though probably for naught. Our astronauts didn’t care, though. They are floating in the black, unable to see the fruits of their own labor. There are worse ways to go, they suspect. The firey death of a impact, or the endless winter thereafter is probably agony. This way, CO2 asphyxiation is more like a heavy sleep, the stars and their own radio chatter to be their final comforts.
I called it at this point because I saw no use in continuing. Even though Alison’s death gained us 2 more white dice, I was out of Story Points and 1 die versus 8 THREE MORE TIMES seemed like an extreme impossibility.
So even though this is against the rules, I decided to do the final roll anyway, adding 2 black dice for Shirley not dying the way her death card states she should. So that’s 9 white dice and 12 black dice. Will there be a tomorrow?
Black wins by 3. So close.
“Your mission fails, and the team is lost. Yet, there is a small beacon of hope. You managed to forestall the crisis long enough for another team to mount a challenge. Hopefully they won’t make the same mistakes…”
So now I leave it to you, dear Reader. Own a copy of OLBH? Get out there and push The Orb the last few miles it needs to forestall obliteration! Don’t own a copy? Either Drop $10 on your own copy, or use what little I’ve told you here and make up the rest! Your imagination is the only limit! (I suggest supporting Magpie Games, however)
This was a lot of writing and I lost a bit of steam at the end, and for that I apologize. I’m not sure I’ll do another RPG. But I hope you enjoyed reading it because it made a great story in my head, and I would be thrilled if you were able to tap into at least a small percentage of that.
Next time: A boringly easy boardgame….phew!