Laserburn as an RPG Part 2

Now its time to put my example character through a scenario that will hopefully test a range of stats. I’m not going to set it in the default Laserburn universe, but the Gypsy Knights Games Clement Sector background just to give it an introductory starting point.

So Amer Rivis is hanging around in a bar, in between jobs on Sequoyah. Its one of the more seedy bars there, with lots of rough and tough looking individuals. Propping up the bar, he is approached by a patron who starts a conversation with him. Amer finds out that the patron is looking for someone who is discrete and reliable, who can ‘do a little job for him’. The little job involves a little industrial espionage, where this evening there is a party being held for some senior executives of the Blaylock Mining Corporation in a nearby hotel. Andreas Morgan (as the patron is named) would like Amer to gain access to the hotel and obtain copies of some files which are likely to be held in one of the executives rooms. Andreas will pay 20,000Cr if copies of the files stored on the executives handcomp can be made, without anyone from Blaylock noticing.

Ok, so at this point would I want to make any rolls regarding the job? At best, probably just an intelligence roll to see if there is any sense that the patron is telling the truth. Amer has got a 3, so roll a D6 or less and I get a 3, so Amer gets a good sense that the patron is telling the truth. Andreas gives Amer the plans for the hotel and a pass that should get him past the Blaylock company security agents.

So Amer arrives at the Ross Interstellar hotel (one of the largest and most prestigious in the Clement Sector) and approaches the security desk. He passes the ID card to the security officer; the officer looks suspiciously at Amer and asks a few questions about why he is here and what he is doing. Another attribute check to convince the officer; I’ve got a choice – Initiative or Intelligence. The problem with Initiative is that its generated using a variable number of dice – so Amer’s score of 18 sort of ‘floats’ and I can’t roll using a set (or calculated) number of dice in order to check against it. So I’m going to refer back to the Intelligence score (even though it doesn’t feel like the most appropriate characteristic to check against) so I roll a D6 to get 3 or less. Amer gets a 5 and fails to convince the security officer, so he’s unceremoniously ejected from the hotel.

Feeling a bit frustrated at failing at the first hurdle, Amer decides to try and gain access through a back route. Finding a service route into the hotel, he needs to make a dexterity roll to gain access through a partially open window. I’m going to make this a bit difficult and apply a -1 DM to the DEX roll, so I need a 4 or better. I roll a 4, so entry is gained without anyone noticing. Amer manages to walk down several corridors before I reckon he needs to make a random encounter check. So a roll of a 6 on a D6 will result in someone seeing Amer… and I get a 5, so he hasn’t been spotted yet. He eventually arrives at the hotel room where the executives hand comp is located; the door is locked, so a turn of brute strength (and ignorance) should force the door in. I reckon a DM of -1 (because I think the door is hard to beat) so Amer needs to get 5 or less. I roll a 6, so he bounces off the door which remains in place, undefeated.

He decides to try and find another way in and looks around for a member of the hotel staff, who might have a keycard. Hearing the clattering of a trolley, he sneaks around and waits for the trolley to get closer in an adjacent corridor. Here I make a combat factor roll based on civilian stats 40.10.1 – the hotel worker rolls 80 + 10, gets 90. Amer rolls 90 + 70 = 160 and wins the round. To hit Amer has a chance equal to his combat factor (70) minus using a bare fist (-30) and gets an 18 for a successful strike. Now I need to roll for the hit location (D100) and I get 94, a left leg location; bit of an odd place to land a hit in a brawl. Now at this point, I’m starting to struggle for the hit effect. There doesn’t seem to be any mention of what effect a punch to a part of the body has on a victim. Therefore for ease of use, I’m going to say that Amer kicks the hotel worker’s leg from under him and manages to silence him without killing him.

Now that Amer has obtained a keycard, he is able to successfully gain entry to the executives room and start searching for the hand comp with the documents. Again I’m going to use Intelligence to roll a D6 against, I roll a 5 (Amer has 3 Intelligence) and he doesn’t find anything in his initial check. At this point, I think Amer should make a second check but with a DM of -1 to reflect that its a bit more difficult; I roll a 2 so Amer (just) finds the hand comp and starts the download of information required.

By the time Amer has completed the download, he can hear noises from outside. Chances are someone has found the unconscious hotel worker and is raising the alarm. At this point, Amer grabs his kit and makes for the door. He can make out the sounds of activity nearby, so he makes a break for it. Just as he turns the corner of one of the corridors near the exit, he can see a security officer at the far end. Amer is going to have you fight his way out, so lets roll for ranged combat.

I’ll stat the security officer as 100.40.10, so rolling for initiative he gets 47+10 = 57. Amer rolls a poor 18 plus his initiative results in a total of 36, so the security officer gets to fire first. Armed with a slug gun, I work out that Amer is a moving target (-10), is 5m away (-20) and because the firer is using a slug gun, -15. So that totals -45 take away from 100 is 55, so I roll an 83 and miss. Amer’s turn to fire results in (WS) 140, firer is moving (-15), -10 for 5m distance so he needs to roll 115 or less on a D100, so thats a guaranteed hit. Roll for hit location – I get a 24 (left arm). I roll a D10 as the security officer is unarmoured, on a limb the 6 I rolled is a serious hit. The security officer’s left arm is completely unusable for the rest of the combat.

So a new combat round starts with an initiative check; security officer rolls 1 on a D100 (!) plus 10 equals 11, Amer rolls 24 plus 18 equals 44, so Amer wins this round. He rolls to fire with -25 modifiers, results in a direct hut, so roll for hit location. A D100 results in an 8, thats a head shot. A throw of a D10 gives a 7, so thats a knocked out security officer.

Amer then makes a break for it and exits the hotel from the same way that he got in. Returning to the same seedy bar where he met the patron, who hands over the 20,000Cr for a copy of the data extracted from the executives hand comp.


Ok, that was a fairly simple scenario to demonstrate how Laserburn could be used as an RPG, comparitive to Classic Traveller or Cepheus Engine. First of all – for all you Laserburn afficiando’s, if I’ve mis-intrepreted or mis-used a rule, I apologise. Its been 30 years since I ran a proper Laserburn scenario and I’m having to read the rules and adapt to my demonstration situation as I go along. What I found that whilst coming up with different situations to run stat checks against, I was coming up short on a few things. Because much of Laserburn is so combat orientated, I found that I couldn’t match a number of situations to what I felt was the most appropriate stat. For example, trying to gain access to the hotel (first time) I could have done with some sort of personality / appearance stat or skill to try and convince the security officer that Amer could enter the hotel. Initative or intelligence didn’t seem to cut it as the most appropriate stats to use. I also found it a bit difficult to try and apply a simple punch to knock out the hotel staff and steal the keycard. However ‘general’ combat using guns and ranged weapons was very easy and I like having the hit location tables to illustrate where your shot landed.

Through my simple example, I’ve at least demonstrated to myself what Laserburn’s strengths are – combat orientated gaming, mainly using miniatures which is exactly what it was designed for. It does lack a number if elements for non-combat orientated role-playing where I would want to use some stats / skills found in Classic Traveller or Cepheus Engine, but depending on your style of play you may wish to ignore this completely and stick to just the combat rules to resolve those situations. However if you use Laserburn, enjoy it – its a great system and there is still a lot of support for it!

Link for Alternative Armies Laserburn 15mm range.


About AlegisDownport

Musings on the Traveller RPG world, technology, astronomy and digital art.
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