Sunday, January 10, 2021

31 Days / 31 Characters - EMIL FUJIKAWA

One of my best, longest, and most influential games in recent memory was my Traveller campaign, Operation: PALADIN.

It was also, on occasion, something of a nightmare. Fear of being injured, discovered, or any number of other things kept some PCs from being bold when it was needed. This frustrated other PCs who would respond by acting independently in an especially bold fashion that was counter to the rest of the team. You can read more about the trials, tribulations, as well as the good times by checking out the Operation: PALADIN tag. I believe there are some general Traveller posts that may discuss this campaign as well. 

While I've talked about this campaign and some of its character in detail in the past, one character who hasn't received enough attention is my friend Ray's PC, Dr. Emil Fujikawa. 



Character: Doctor Emil Fujikawa

Player: Ray Harris

System: Traveller, Classic Edition/Version - Added modifications from MegaTraveller and houserules.
 
Campaign: Operation: PALADIN

Gamemaster: Adam Dickstein 

Circa: 2013-2015

Origins: The following tale of Emil Fujikawa's creation comes directly from Ray, the player. Take it away Ray: 

"When I started gaming with Adam, I had considered myself a veteran RPG player. My experience gaming was almost exclusively Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, Pathfinder, and homebrews (which used D&D as a baseline to recreate some anime or video game). Oh how wrong I was. Although I claimed to be an experienced gamer, I hadn't played in a game that shared in nearly any of the characteristics that Operation: Paladin would in its roughly three year run.
 
Dr. Fujikawa was my first character for a sci-fi campaign. Despite my fascination with Sci-Fi movies and TV that went back to Stargate and ST:TNG, I had no idea what to expect from the Traveller RPG. What I did understand was that intelligence and caution with just a little bit of daring usually saved the day. So that was what I tried to build into my character.

I decided that I wanted to be a scientist with a focus in Robotics but as I stepped through the character creation system with Adam, I lost sight of my desire and finished three terms of Scientist with only 1 point in Robotics. (At this point, I would like to highlight just how unfamiliar I was with sci-fi games, because I was creating a robotics expert with only the basic understanding of computers that is granted to a character by the fact that I was counting Earth as my homeworld). I started a second career as a Scout in order to round out my squishy Scientist a bit, only to find myself dead. I had failed the Survival Roll of my first term as a Scout and was feeling disheartened as I was starting to like the collection of skills and stats that would become Dr. Fujikawa. Adam too sensed the potential in my nascent character and offered to make it so that that my Scientist/Scout didn't die, but rather (homebrewed chart roll) was captured (homebrew chart roll) on an alien planet by the (homebrewed chart roll) aggressive and violent Ithklur.

This fateful encounter wound up doing two things for this collection of skills and stats to make it into a character. Firstly, I picked a skill that I would get to enhance because I was using it exhaustively during my capture. This would be my Robotics. I stayed alive during my captivity because I was performing forced labor, repairing the robots that my captors used. Secondly, it established that I was on the frontier, someplace where I might be captured by a hostile alien species. That got me thinking, not about how I would get out of this mess, but about how I got into this mess.

Adam was still in the middle of explaining how I was captured and who my captors were, but I was barely listening. My mind was thinking about how a respected Roboticist from Earth would find his way to the space boonies so that he could get captured, be listed as dead, and eventually get freed and reclaim his second lease on life on some backwater space station in Spica Sector. (This is why one of my favorite t-shirts reads, in the classic Traveller font, “You haven't lived until you've died... during character creation.”) Instead of listening to Adam's description of who the Ithklur were and why they might want to hold me captive, I was coming up with a reason for my character to be on the run from very dangerous people.

Before the day was out, I was talking to Adam about my ideas of how Dr. Fujikawa was unintentionally involved in a conspiracy to assassinate the Emperor and replace him with a robotic double. Adam explained how difficult that would be because of the state of robots in Traveller. Basically, robots in Traveller were more R2-D2 than Data and even a C-3PO, without the gold paint, would be a high end model. So I set out to explain in my backstory how my character would be involved in the creation of a fairly rare and possibly illegal model of robot called a pseudo-biological. A model of robot that, thanks to a duplicate 'lab ship' benefit roll, I would start the game in possession of. A couple of weeks later, we started the first session and a couple of weeks after that I gave Adam my full backstory."

Backstory: The full backstory as written and created by Ray with minor adjustments by me to fit it into the setting and story of the campaign:

Dr. Fujikawa's story starts while he was attending Neo Tokyo University getting his doctorate. 

He becomes smitten with a pretty lady, Anna Maria Romanov, who was able to wreck his thesis by talking his robot into a logical failure, multiple times. Eventually they hit it off and she helped him finish his thesis and graduate. It turns out her parents worked at a big time robotics corporation and hired him to work on various projects that all pertained to making a robot seem more like a human.

Eventually, he decides to ask Anna to marry him and she says yes. Unfortunately, they don't have the time to actually get married yet as he gets this big assignment to make a pseudo-biological robot. Luckily, Anna's degree was in art design so they get to work together as she is able to design and create the prototype robot body, while he is putting all of his work from the last 10 years together to create the robot's brain. They finish the robot prototype just before this big tech conference and finally get married. Anna reveals that the robot, "Maria", is physically a duplicate of her, because she has been keeping its design a secret from him as a sort of wedding present.

Then as they are due to leave for their honeymoon space cruise the next day, Anna pulls him aside and plays a recording for him. The recording reveals that Anna was a spy who was assigned by 'her parents' to get Dr. Fujikawa to ultimately build a robot that could pass as human that would be used in a plot to gain control of the highest ranks of government. She was supposed to turn him so that he would join the project willingly but he inadvertently turned her so that she wound up working against the plot. Anna was taking the robot's place and would stall for as long as she could so that he could get away.

The Anna that was with him was actually Maria and he had the only copy of the code and designs to build a new pseudo-biological. They were to get on a lab ship that was newly purchased and find a contact in SolSec (Solomani Security - Space CIA) who would protect them. The contact gets him into the Scout service so that he can disappear somewhere along the frontier, only he actually does disappear when he gets captured by the Ithklur of the Hive Federation. When he is later rescued by the Scouts, he has to recover what is left of his life, while wandering the passages of Bussard Reach space station, at least until he answers a post for a ship to travel to someplace called the Shallows.


Overview: "Throughout the next three years of play there would be many moments that stood out to me as touchstone moments in Dr. Fujikawa's life. From witnessing the death(?) of an NPC that gave him an inkling of understanding into why people had religion, to defeating an Aslan in mock combat by way of an exploding holo-drone, to participating in the arrest of the villain's most helpful minion, a fellow PC."

The Highlights:

"However, the moment that stands out the most to me is when I worked with another PC to infiltrate a Military Weapons Manufacturer and steal the evidence that we would need to arrest the main villain of the story. We had learned that one of the villain's primary lieutenants was an executive at this Government contracted weapons manufacturer. I had tried to hack into their systems but apparently having sensitive information about troop deployments meant that they had good firewalls, so I went to scout the building out and see if I could access an on-site terminal.

I went in claiming to be the parent of a new hire but bailed as soon as I saw the level of security at the front door. I was expecting a couple of overworked security guards tired of working the night shift. What I got was a couple of alert, physically fit guards that were part of a heavily-armed mercenary outfit which came out after the metal detector/x-ray scanner that was built into the front door alerted them that the woman who was pretending to be my wife wasn't what she said she was (that being a Human being). So, we got out of there as fast as we could, meeting back up with the rest of the team and I told them that the mission was a bust.

Having seen first hand how well defended the installation was, I was sure that there was no way we could get in without heavy losses. I argued passionately for hours with the others that getting the info from this location wouldn't be worth it, that we could find the same information stored elsewhere that would be less heavily fortified. I was out numbered. Everyone else insisted that it had to be here. This location was the only place that we could be certain was tied to one of the villain's lieutenants. If we turned back now it would throw out weeks of research and travel to determine the identity of this lieutenant and whoever else we could get to almost certainly wouldn't have the same kind of access to the villain's plans. So I relented. 

The other players changed my mind. I said that we would have to go immediately before the news of my attempted infiltration would bring reinforcements. Everyone scrambled to put a plan together to get me and one other player into the building. As desperate as we were to get this info, I didn't want to risk too many people, especially as most of the players were not combat inclined. That was how I wound up crawling through the sewers to reach a power junction terminal that granted me limited access to the building's security features so that one of my allies could infiltrate the building, access this corrupt executive's office and recover sensitive information from the computer and safe. After that I remember riding something down a sewer pipe that led out to a drainage vent so that we could jump over to our ship. The vessel was waiting for us and flew out of there with the planetary authorities hot on our tail.

This was the single most daring thing that I had done throughout the entire campaign and it held up the premise that I started the campaign with, that intelligence and caution with just a little bit of daring saved the day."


Legacy: A planned sequel to Operation: PALADIN never fully got underway and I haven't run a long term Traveller campaign since this one. The end result is Fujikawa  -who survived and had a solid epilogue in the original game- has not been seen since the Operation: PALADIN campaign ended.

In a twist I couldn't be happier about, Ray and my friend Will (who played the oft mentioned Belarus Hosta in Operation: PALADIN) are currently running a prequel campaign set some 15 years before ours. While Fujikawa doesn't appear, it details how the villain of Operation: PALADIN rose to his position of power and put his plans in place. 

Game Info: Dr. Emil Fujikawa

Species: Human – Solomani

Age: 34 years old.  Born July 25, 1061 IC/5579 AD

Height: 5'10”  Weight: 158 lbs  Appearance: Blue Eyes, Brown Hair

Homeworld: Earth

UPP:77AAC6

Armor Value: 7/0   Hits: 4/5

Scientist (Roboticist): 3 Terms / Scout 1 Term.

Special Assignment: every term

Skills:

Robotics 4, Robot Ops 2, Gravitics 2, Electronics 2, Computer 7, Sensor Ops 4, Mechanical 2, Navigation 2, Engineering 1, Computer AI 2, Laser Weapons 2, Vacc Suit 2, Stealth 1, Grav Vehicle 2, Pilot 2, Forward Observer 1, Instruction 2, Jack of All Trades 2, Liason 3, Demolitions (in training), Handgun (in training)

Special Items: “Maria”, an Android. “The Turing”, an Advanced Lab Ship.

Equipment:

Info Pad, Comm-Comp, Robotics Tools, Liquid Body Armor, Laser Carbine, Personal Drone, Maps of Spica Sector, Heads-Up Display, Wireless Download, Signal Jammer, Body Pistol, Knife, Coral Chunks, Sub-Basement External HD

Credits: 55,140


Next up we travel to that galaxy long ago and far, far away to meet a tough Mandalorian mercenary with a rather droll origin. This is the way of FLEETO WOFF


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Barking Alien




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