Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Tournament

This scenario is inspired by material from previous posts about Natoli's Nightclub and Casino.


The Tournament
In a push to make their casino the premiere gambling destination in the Corellian Sector, the Natoli brothers (detailed previously) are hosting a sabacc tournament. To that end, they have put out an open invitation, at the cost of 4000 credits per player, for anyone who is interested in competing. That means there's a top prize of 100,000 credits, enough to make any being wonder about the possibilities of winning it all.

For this event, refer to the article “Natoli's Nightclub and Casino” to find stats for the staff who are on hand, along with suggestions for some more encounters that might occur.

Casino Layout and Description

Casino Personnel

Involving the PCs
There are all kinds of ways in which the PCs might become involved in this tournament; a few of the possibilities are detailed here.
  • Needless to say, one or more of the characters could raise the 4000 credit stake and compete in the tournament.
  • Alternately, the PCs could be hired as escorts, bodyguards or other members of a gambler's entourage, as insurance against any possible shenanigans.
  • If the PCs are agents of the Rebel Alliance, they could be sent to compete against a corrupt Imperial bureaucrat who has embezzled and lost money and now needs to win in order to clear those debts. In this case, winning (or making sure that the Imperial loses) could be turned into pressure to gain cooperation from someone inside the Empire.
  • In a twist on the past option, the PCs could be sent by a crime boss to whom the gambler owes a debt, in order to make sure that the debtor doesn't abscond with any winnings in hopes of avoiding payment.
  • The PCs could also be desperate types who plan on robbing the casino.
  • On the other hand, the PCs could be hired by the Natoli brothers to make sure that nothing happens to disrupt the tournament.

When the PCs first arrive at the casino, they are asked to check any weapons they're carrying at the door, to be kept in a locked storage unit. If they wish to conceal an item, use the rules on page 153 of the core rulebook for doing so. As characters are arriving, CorSec agent Ralen Estiz himself is stationed at the door, along with two of his assisting agents. Should any of the PCs be trying to hide their own identities, Estiz also makes a Perception check opposed to the Deception effort of each character who is doing so. Finally, the peacekeeper accepts the entry fee from anyone who wishes to compete, placing it into a metal briefcase that is bound with binders to his own wrist.

Once they're inside the casino, the PCs have a chance to mix and mingle with the other characters who are present. The GM can use this opportunity to introduce members of the competition, along with others who are present and who might have an impact on the proceedings. Through snippets of roleplaying and perhaps some relevant skill checks, the PCs can start to gain a feel for the others and thus to develop suspicions or intentions accordingly.

A Blast from the Past?
This is also a good chance for the GM to bring back a character who shares a history with one or more of the PCs. This could be a low-level crime boss whom they offended, an old romantic flame, or someone similar. Such a run-in is pure coincidence, but adds more tension to this event—especially so if the PCs are trying to keep a low profile or otherwise conceal their identities.

Round 1
Refer to the Suns of Fortune sourcebook or the Under a Black Sun PDF to find more details about rules for sabacc. There is a wager of 1000 credits for each hand, to represent the initial ante and the possibility of raises. In this case, each character who is participating makes a Cool check, with a force die being used to represent random fluctuations of characters's hands as normal. Once all have done so, the highest numbers of successes wins the hand, using advantage as a tiebreaker (much in the same manner as initiative rolls). In the event of a tie, the dealer declares “sudden demise” and deals an additional card to each character, represented by another roll of the force dice to break the tie.
In this way, competitors who run out of money are eliminated from the table, while the one who is left in the end walks away with 20,000 credits to use in the final round. Should the round begin to drag, the wager for each hand can be doubled and even redoubled in order to expedite the process.

Name Description Cool check Personality
Sy Maru Female Clawdite 1S+2P Sy Maru—in the guise of a Faleen male—is a competitive and none-too-honorable player. She is willing to cheat if need be, including planting a cheater chip on an opponent.
M'Beg Male Klatooinan 1S+1P M'Beg is a boisterous Klatooinan who likes to talk bit—“Hey, you're taking food out of my younglings' mouths”—but he is a gracious loser.
Kalet Foon Female Besalisk 2S+1P Kalet seems friendly and magnanimous, but this is a sham; she and her husband, Deveris, have a plan to tip the odds in their own favor.
Cal Danerov Male Human 1S+2P Cal is a friendly Corellian who enjoys nothing more than wagering everything on one last turn of the card-chips—except the company of a beautiful female, that is.
Tulyg Senn of the Tion Male Human 2S+2P Tulyg, a nobleman from the Tion Hegemony, enjoys showing off his wealth, but he hates to be part of it. He might seek revenge against someone who bests him.
Dorot Shypani Female Human 1S+1P Dorot Shypani is a gifted mathematician who might seem out of place at a sabacc table, but she is very good at calculating the odds and plays her hands accordingly.
Chuolli Female Drall 1S+2P Chuolli is here to watch the beings who are present and to swap tales with anyone who cares to do so; she doesn't care if she wins or loses.
Neri Mal'tunn Female Twi'lek 1S+2P Neri, like many Twi'leks, is a former slave; she hopes to win the tournament so that she can use the money in helping more of her people find freedom.

As always, the GM should feel free to adapt these characters (especially their relative gambling abilities) in order to reflect the needs of the campaign.

Of course, not all of the beings who are present intend to play fairly. Cheating can happen in one of three ways, detailed below. The GM should feel free to introduce these developments in order to keep those PCs who aren't gambling involved, and perhaps even to keep a losing PC alive in the tournament by having a victorious opponent be caught and kicked out for cheating.

A thief in one of the games tries to use Skulduggery in a bit of sleight of hand, tucking a good card up his sleeve. One or more of the PCs can make Perception checks opposed to that effort in hopes of seeing the move and thus being able to call him out on it.

The husband-and-wife Besalisk team, Kalet and Deveris Foon, are using elaborate hand signals to keep each other informed about opponent's cards. In this case, the husband stands in the crowd behind one of his wife's opponents, and uses his four hands to flash the value of that player's cards to her, giving her an advantage in deciding whether or not to fold. Here again, one or more PCs can make Perception checks opposed to his Deception effort to notice the cheating. Given that this action is difficult to prove, it should take a little suavity to show the authorities what is happening.

After the first round, there is an hour-long break for competitors to refresh themselves. Depending on the desires of the players and GM, this could pass uneventfully, or it could be fraught with other developments. A few possibilities are suggested below.

Sy Maru, the Clawdite shapeshifter, tries to plant evidence in the form of a dose of ryll spice on one of the competitors. This requires a Skulduggery check opposed by other characters' Perception efforts. If she succeeds, she then alerts security that her victim is carrying such a substance and lets the situation run its course. To be extra safe, she can change her appearance and clothing if there is need.
This is also a good chance for the PCs to do some more mingling, perhaps some flirtation with another player or even learning Neri Mal'tuun's story. Of course, if any of the PCs have reason to conceal the truth of their identities—especially if one or more of them is the subject of a bounty—these interactions can present an actual danger. Should an NPC have reason to wish the PCs ill, that character could take the time to research them and perhaps learn some important information.

Round 2
This round functions in much the same manner as the first round, except that the stakes are increased. The wager for each hand this time around is five thousand credits, but the mechanics of play are the same. Here again the GM can run things in a straightforward manner, or introduce one of the sideline events in order to create more action or control the flow of things. In the end, the last competitor at the table stands to walk away with 100,000 credits—until the power goes out, that is.

The Robbery
This is the moment when the Defel thief Nak'har makes his move. Leading up to it, the Defel has arranged a small explosive device outside of the casino to cut the external power supply, and placed a computer spike into the casino's system so that reserve power cells fail to engage. As a result, the entire place is swathed in darkness. Nak'har can see in the dark, of course, and thus goes about his business of snatching the 100,000 credit prize. At the same time, Nak'har's team of thugs storms the front of the place; they are wearing scanner goggles, and thus can also see in the darkness. In addition to covering Nak'har's escape with their stun blasters and truncheons, they try to steal the storage unit in which the guests' weapons are being held. If things go their way, the thieves retreat to a waiting Trast AA-5 heavy speeder truck and head for the nearest docking bay, where they try to flee aboard their Wayfarer-class medium freighter.

In addition to the characters who are normally found in Natoli's casino, and the rough sketches of gamblers provided above, use the following stat blocks for characters in this scenario.

Nak'har—Use the Defel Assassin from page 392 of the core rulebook.

Nak'har's goons—Use the Street Tough from page 396 of the core rulebook.

Ralen Estiz—Use the Sector Ranger from pages 405-6 of the core rulebook or the CorSec Investigator from page 21 of Suns of Fortune.

This situation can end in a lot of different ways; here are some suggestions for a few of the possibilities.
  • In the event that one of the PCs wins the tournament and manages to keep the money, that character has enough credits to buy and outfit a quality starship. That, of course, could lead to all kinds of new business.
  • Should the PCs manage to impress Ralen Estiz with their abilities, he might wish to recruit them for a tricky assignment that requires someone from outside of CorSec.
  • One or more defeated opponents, especially Tulyg Senn, could seek revenge against the heroes later.
  • More altruistic PCs could find themselves joining in on the antislavery efforts of Neri Mal'tunn.
  • If Nak'har and his goons did manage to steal the prize money, hunting down them and it could make for a series of adventures. Of course, other nefarious types such as bounty hunters might take an interest in the matter, too.

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