Campaign of the Month: July 2020

The Verge

Season 2, Episode 12: The Job Offer

Fifty-eight hours out of Elpis, the Battle of Basildon commences. Six Ducal Royal Navy Hammerheads working alongside six Collective Timber Wolves attack a quartet of PKF Type 336s, a destroyer analog and two patrol boats, with the Anne Bonny stuck in the middle, desperately trying to get their precious cargo away from the combat zone. In the opening minutes of the battle, the Hammerheads and Timber Wolves take advantage of the fact that the PKF ships are using railguns and thus need to be closer but unleashing their respective weapons at distance. The Wolves especially attempt to maintain distance so they can serve simply as missile boats.

Once the 336s and the three Basildon ships close the distance, they maul the Hammerheads with their railguns, killing three in a matter of minutes. Ironically, the very first craft to be destroyed is the Hammerhead that fired the first shots. The lead PKF corvette, already damaged from concentrated Hammerhead fire, takes all thirty-six missiles fired at it, which overwhelms its point-defense system and blows it apart. In retaliation, the three other 336s shred the remaining Hammerheads, with only one able to limp away, streaming debris and transmitting a ‘please don’t shoot me’ message. Flights of PKF missiles eventually take out the lead Timber Wolf, which disrupts the Collective command and control briefly. A second PKF ship is destroyed as they burn toward the Collective ships, as well as one of the Basildon patrol boats, but the Wolves are able to recognize that this battle is over. They begin maneuvering to escape via an emergency in-system Jump, losing another of their number to Basildon laser fire and PKF missiles; the four survivors narrowly escape a mauling from the remaining two PKF ships closing in on their positions.

In the middle of all of this mess, the Anne Bonny is burning hard away from the engagement, though even then, they catch the outliers of it and must defend against errant missiles or fighter strafing runs and the like. They absorb some damage, losing some cargo, having a weapon disabled, and so on, but there are fortunately no casualties and, by the time they finally put enough distance between them and the kill-zone to be considered safe, the attacking forces are fleeing or have fled. The commander of the Basildon destroyer analog instructs them to press on while he and the patrol boat conduct rescue operations; to Khonsu Warship and Twosret, Shipmaster, Sir Korbin transmits his condolences for those lost and thanks her for their aid. He receives no response.

As they continue their approach to Basildon, Princess Natalia informs Sir Korbin that she would like to address the Collective marines they brought aboard, then asks him if would mind terribly acting as her means of transport. This results in him carrying her bridal style to her visible appreciation and Lady Amelia’s equally visible amusement. To the marines (and Rostya!), the princess relates that she is aware of some of their story and how they were betrayed by the management running it – if Rostya was actually smarter, he might have noticed how she subtly emphasizes the mercantile angle and how the marines are perceived by the Collective as simply more numbers on a spreadsheet somewhere. Essentially, she makes a pitch to them to sign on with her as what amounts to House Troops and her seemingly impromptu speech is very good, touching on all of the things that are bothering Rostya and the marines about why the Collective would do this. They agree to this task on a temporary basis.

The princess then repeats this with the other groups – the would-be Companions; Baefre and the Rankless; even the three unaffiliated individuals – but acknowledges that Iahmesu, Farseeker, and Tausret, Chirugeon Fourth Circle, already have obligations to the Peace-Keeping Force. During the conversation with the would-be Companions, upon noting that they’re intent on the moons of Nyx, one of them jokingly asks if there’s any chance they’ll see the Shrike. Ilik is not amused.

Upon reaching Basildon “air space,” they are immediately diverted to a VIP landing pattern and patched through to Castle Flight Control where they’re given more instructions. During the approach, Amelia telepathically contacts Ilik and asks him if he trusts her. Implicitly, without question. He acknowledges that he does since they grew up together, and can sense her relief as she asks if he has a stunner or stun baton or something. She wants him to wear it please.

They are directed to land at the personal platform for the High Lord within Castle Basildon, and there is already a team of medtechs waiting with her grandfather and a couple of bodyguard types. Once again, Princess Natalia insists on Sir Korbin bridal carrying her out of the ship, which absolutely causes Lord William’s eyebrows to climb. After the princess is secured in a wheelchair, she waves off the medtechs and introduces Baron Sir Korbin and his valiant crew. Rostya and the marines are introduced as her House Guards, which means they are to keep their armour and weapons. To the surprised Korbin, she asks – with another smile – if he would mind terribly pushing her chair. Her grandfather, now amused, asks if she has any more surprises and Natalia responds: “Just one.”

Telepathically, Amelia asks Ilik to shoot “Bambi,” one of the would-be Companions, with his stunner. He does so, then immediately finds himself facing a lot of fierce-looking weapons now pointed at him. The princess raises her hand and states, “No more surprises.” At her nod, Lady Amelia begins searching the unconscious “Bambi,” producing a body pistol, a stealth knife and a couple of other unimportant items barely worth mentioning. She then asks the marines to bind the woman as she (Amelia) would very much like to have a conversation with this traitor once she wakes.

The crew enter the castle proper, with the survivors and refugees escorted elsewhere so they can get checked out and ‘in-processed.’ Lord William’s security chief, Emma Winter, is about to have the Anne Bonny’s crew relieved of their weapons, but again, the princess intervenes: she is awarding them all the Order of Merit which will allow them to bear sidearms and blades, even in her presence. Her grandfather gives her a look and she shrugs: maybe there was one more surprise.

PERS-LadyVeritas.pngInside the conference room they’re being brought to is Lord William’s Faceless advisor, “Lady Veritas.” She is mostly silent throughout the conversation, though like Amelia and Ilik, she does her best to stand quite clear from Baefre. The princess declares her intent to travel to New Britannia and petition the Commonwealth crown for official aid since the SpaceFarer’s Collective technically are Commonwealth corporations; she expects that the CNB King will require her or her father to bring Moros back into the Commonwealth proper as payment. Without thinking, Anya interjects: the CNB king died recently, and his niece, Elizabeth, is now the queen. This is news to both Lord William and Princess Natalia, but they acknowledge this gratefully. Lord William then announces that most of the Twelve have declared that they do not recognize this coup government nor do they acknowledge Prince Ivan as duke; he muses how the lad was such a reserved young lad and Anya’s thoughts immediately skip to her weird memory of being in the tube and staring at the not-prince. Telepathically, Lady Veritas engages with her, asking her if she would mind expounding on that line of thought. She (Lady Veritas) is willing to reveal this information without admitting her source of information, but Anya would owe her a favor…

But instead, Anya again interrupts – politely! She knows how to talk to nobility since she’s technically one herself – and reveals some of what she suspects regarding the prince. Natalia and her grandfather exchange looks, with the latter nodding slowly as the pieces begin to fall into place for him. He then gives Emma a gesture, asking her to be a dear and look into this for him. They can’t publicly reveal this, the princess muses, as it would be perceived as just random made-up slander intended to sow chaos but if they can get proof that he is not who he claims to be …

The princess then makes a decision. To her grandfather, she says that she has found her crew. He grudgingly accepts this and politely dismisses his people, including Lady Veritas; as she is leaving, she briefly connects telepathically with Ilik, telling him that they should catch up later. He is startled to realize that Lady Veritas is none other than his former pupil, Annika Leon! Once everyone has left, Lord William opens up a secret accessway to a hidden elevator and departs himself. Natalia asks them to accompany her – there is something she wants to show them and an offer she wants to make. The elevator takes them down to a transit tube, that then carries them a considerable distance to a fairly vast hangar bay. She was going to originally call it the Harrier, the princess states as the lights come on, but after seeing their ship and hearing its name, now she’s going to call this the Francis Drake.

To the crew, she asks with a smile: how would they like to become pirates?

GM Notes

And that’s the conclusion of season 2. Partial success, partial failure. The first half, with the space battle, was good, but the second half of the session was way too much of me telling everyone what happened without adequately providing them opportunities to interject or issues/challenges to resolve. So that was completely my fault. I’d originally considered throwing in an assassination attempt so the PCs could smack that down, but I was concerned about the time so I dropped that scene. Which, in retrospect, was a horrible, horrible mistake on my part. I should have stuck to my instincts and run that quick encounter.

  • As to the way the space battle unfolded, I pre-determined the general outcome since the players had previously indicated that they were interest only in “getting the hell out of there” by using the Fleet Combat rules from High Guard. Overall, this would go down as a Pyrric victory for the Basildon/PKF faction even though they lost three ships, two of them being 336s. Again, I could only get away with that because the PCs were trying to actively avoid as much of the battle as they could manage. A regular space battle where they’re getting in there and trying to actively take out a hostile ship … nah. Couldn’t use this system really.
  • In terms of rules, using the task chain seemed to work – regular task chain, fails inflict not only a DM penalty, but that DM as dice of damage; so fail by -4 = -2 DM or 2D damage to the ships; I also randomly rolled on the critical hit location table to see if any shrapnel hit the crew or passengers, but those impacted had too strong Protection – but one of the players made the suggestion that, if I use it again, the next time I should declare “this is the immediate threat” and then have the players determine who tries to counter it and how. So, sort of “Incoming missiles!” and either the Pilot dodges them, the Gunner point-defenses them, the Sensor Operator spoofs them to miss, or the Medic deals with the aftermath, and so one. Something for me to consider.
  • With regards to the four escaping Timber Wolves via a Jump, even though the FTL drive in this setting is closer to the nu Battlestar Galactica method of FTL, I still used the rules for rushing an Astrogation and Engineer (Jump drive) check. As I told the players, none of their character could know the results but I told them anyway: one jumped fine, two had minor misjumps (which just meant they were off course – FREX, trying to Jump from Mars to Jupiter, but ended up at Saturn instead), while the fourth had a catastrophic misjump. I decided that he appeared inside the Graveyard.
  • We had a last-minute cancellation by Anya’s player due to family stuffs, so I had to coordinate with her via Discord after the game to get feedback on the “Prince Ivan may not be Prince Ivan” stuff. No real change to the narrative as I mentioned at the table that Anya may end up revealing this data or not, and I’d let everyone know after the fact.
  • Season 3 will be … sometime. At the moment, I’m waiting for feedback on an internal group poll about the direction of season 3 since Princess Natalia made the privateering job offer and I’m unsure how everyone is going to vote. Baefre’s player (rightfully) said he wasn’t entirely sure if becoming a pirate/privateer fit his character’s G’Kar-like journey and he expressed a tentative interest in spinning up a replacement character to serve aboard a theoretical privateering vessel while Baefre goes out to bring religiosity to the fuzzy-wuzzies.
Season 2, Episode 11: The Stern Chase

Day One

Once clear of the planetary orbit, the crew set a course for Basildon and expect to reach it within 60 hours or 2 and half days. They’ve brought on a bunch of refugees aboard, consisting of:

  • Princess Natalia – she is critically injured and is rushed to surgery by Niall immediately upon reaching the ship.
  • Lady Amelia
  • “Bambi” – a would-be “Companion”
  • “Genji” – a would-be “Companion”
  • “Mandi” – a would-be “Companion”
  • “Randi” – a would-be “Companion”
  • “Tandi” – a would-be “Companion”
  • M. Jerome Blank – a computerist and former passenger
  • Guy – Anya’s skydiving buddy
  • Iahmesu, Farseeker, Peace-Keeping Force – an associate of Baefre’s who survived the trip through the wormhole
  • Tausret, Chirugeon Fourth Circle, Peace-Keeping Force – Niall’s rival, though she manages to set that aside to focus on the princess’ life-saving surgery
  • Khenut, Artificer Fourth Circle, Moros System – a former passenger who Mr. Blank seemed quite interest in
  • Arcino Rankless
  • Baufre Rankless
  • Djedi Rankless
  • Djosre Rankless
  • Herrihor Rankless
  • Khafri Rankless
  • Merneiti Rankless
  • Snefra Rankless
  • Snofru Rankless
  • Tawsret Rankless

Most of them are in some sort of shock, and Rostya triages the wounded, handling the minor injuries that don’t worry immediate concern. Once en route to Basildon and with no immediate signs of pursuit, tension eases. Ilik chats with Lady Amelia, his old fried from the Curia, and both complain about the weird null aura that Baefre emits. And speaking of him, he speaks with Iahmesu, Farseeker, initially focusing on what the former Boarding Master remembers of the trip through the wormhole, before then turning to proselytize to him. At first, Iahmesu, Farseeker, is polite but noncommital, but Baefre makes some very good points which has certainly shaken Iahmesu, Farseeker’s resolve in the Taareh system by the end of their conversation. Sir Korbin is almost riveted to the command chair, staring at the DRADIS suite in a desperate effort to locate any pursuers, while Anya spends a little bit of time chatting up the stressed out refugees in an attempt to keep their spirits up.

Two Hours Out of Elpis – Two things happen at around this time. First, Rostya’s open commline to the same frequency band that Colonel Tarkov used to contact him previously begins chirping with an automated distress signal. Rostya takes this to Sir Korbin who examines the coordinates, determines that it won’t add more than 30 minutes to an hour to their trip – depending on what they do once there, of course – so they log the transmission and alter course slightly.

Soon after, Princess Natalia’s life-saving surgery finishes and she is stabilized. Niall advises Lady Amelia of the princess’ status: the broken ribs and internal bleeding was easy enough to resolve, but her leg was so thoroughly crushed that, to save her life, they were forced to amputate it. Lady Amelia takes this without visible change of expression – though Ilik can telepathically sense her warring feelings of relief and sadness – and then seeks out Sir Korbin as she need to utilize the comm system to contact Lord Basildon, both to inform him of their arrival and advise him of his granddaughter’s status. She held off doing this until she knew exactly what that status would be.

Back in the surgery suite, Niall finds that Tausret, Chirugeon Fourth Circle, is exhibiting all of the symptoms of major shock and PTSD. He tries to help, but this sort of backfires as she throws herself at him and they end up in bed together. Afterward, she will flee to the aft observation area where she hides for most of the rest of the trip.

Four Hours Out of Elpis – Knowing that Princess Natalia is going to wake soon and having overheard Anya joking with Ilik that the princess and Sir Korbin have a “special” relationship, Niall decides to offload telling the princess about her leg to the ship’s captain.

Princess Natalia takes the news about as well as she could, though Sir Korbin can tell that she wants to cry. She swallows it though, and thanks him before asking to see Lady Amelia. They have to craft a statement and get it out before her brother does. Korbin withdraws, telling the princess to rest, but she points out that she has too much work to do.

Six Hours Out of Elpis – Princess Natalia’s statement is complete. Lady Amelia has recorded it while the princess is still in the surgery suite, perfectly disheveled and looking very much like a woman who still feels the pain of her injuries from the emergency life-saving surgery she just survived. She does not try to hide her missing leg, but neither does she flaunt it either. It simply is.

Her statement: “People of Moros, a terrible calamity has befallen our home. Warships of the SpaceFarer’s Collective along with traitors in the Royal Navy have seized Elpis at the behest of my brother, Prince Ivan, murdering and pillaging our home in the name of power. You saw the carnage they wrought before they seized the networks and stopped the transmissions. Some of you have witnessed it firsthand. Some of you lost friends and family and loved ones because of this. Some of you may, like me, have even been badly injured by this perfidious act. But though my injuries pain me, neither shall they stop me for my will is resolute and I shall not rest until the traitors responsible for these crimes have been punished and my father is restored to his throne. Thus, I ask you: resist. I know it is a difficult thing to I ask. I know that the guns of the oppressor will be everywhere and they will seek to turn us against each other. But I also know that our cause is just and the traitors that my brother surrounds himself with are cowards at heart who cannot stand against the virtue of your purpose. Let Elpis become a call to arms! Together, we will liberate the Founding Houses and retake the homeworld. Not because it is my birthright, but because the crimes against you by these traitors will no longer be tolerated! That is what I fight for and I vow to fight for your freedoms to my dying breath!

The statement is tightbeamed to a known comm array where can then be widely disseminated to the rest of the system. This should (hopefully) minimize the threat to the Bonny.

Six Hours Out of Elpis – But that might not have worked as the crew realize a Hammerhead-class fast patrol corvette appears to be pursuing them. It’s not at full burn, but is definitely slowly gaining on them…

Ten Hours Out of Elpis – Routine maintenance by Rostya uncovers some life support issues that turn into a microfracture that turn into an issue with the dorsal aft primary deck environmental power link shorting out. To properly repair it, they must kill thrust. This takes fifteen minutes to resolve.

Fifteen Hours Out of Elpis – They reach the source of the distress signal and identify it as a badly damaged and seemingly powerless Collective boarding launch. Rather than go to it and investigate, Sir Korbin opts to have Anya (with Ilik acting as co-pilot) conduct a “barn swallow” maneuver with the upper landing bay (now down a shuttle since they had to leave that behind on Elpis.) Rostya visually confirms that there doesn’t seem to be any xenomorphs running along the surface and is mildly impressed with how effectively Anya conducts the maneuver; even though the boarding launch barely fits, there’s no damage!

Upon boarding the shuttle, Rostya realizes he recognizes all of the unconscious individuals in combat armour aboard: they are all members of Havoc Squad, his former unit. There are five survivors in total, with a sixth being Colonel Tarkov who appears to have sacrificed his oxygen tanks to save his team at the cost of his life. Niall will also recognize the soldiers as all having been wounded and given … experimental treatment. Like Rostya.

Investigating the colonel’s gear turns up a padcomp that tells some of the story: evidently, the Collective began liquidating all former members of Havoc Squad for some reason, so the colonel gathered those still alive and tried to get to safety. They were investigating a Collective signal in this area but collided with … something that knocked out their drive and life support. Later, when the marines recover and debrief Rostya (who is inexplicably the highest ranking of them), they also reveal the rest of the plan: find that Collective signature, bluff their way aboard it and then, get the hell out of here. All of the survivors now want blood-soaked revenge against the Collective and sign up with Rostya once he promises to help them get it. Wisely, the crew keep the presence of the marines something of a secret with most of the other refugees, though Sir Korbin discusses it with Princess Natalia and Lady Amelia.

Twenty Hours Out of Elpis – Things are heating up. On their sensors, they detect multiple thrust signatures – twelve in all – burning from Elpis and orienting toward them. According to transponders, it appears to be six Hammerheads and six Timber Wolves, and, unless something major changes, they will intercept the Anne Bonny about an hour out of Basildon…

Day Two

Thirty-Six Hours Out of Elpis – While keeping a super paranoid eye on the DRADIS, Sir Korbin picks up four new thrust signatures that are PKF in origin. A quartet of Type 336s, including the Khonsu Warship commanded by Twosret, Shipmaster, appearing to be burning sunward toward Elpis, likely to investigate what just happened. He considers options and decides to go for it: opening up a tightbeam with Khonsu Warship, he engages in a frustrating conversation hampered by the 12 to 15 minute time lag where he requests aid from Twosret, Shipmaster. Identifying the Bonny as “Duchess One,” and thus making clear who is aboard, he waits nervously, then is relieved when (after a quite extended period of time), Twosret, Shipmaster, responds with a simple: “Acknowledged, Duchess One. We are en route.” The four Type 336s clearly change course.

And then, hoping this will cause the pursuers to rethink continuing the attack, he answers with a wide-beam transmission broadcast to everyone and thanking the PKF for responding to their request.

Forty-Two Hours Out of Elpis – A system-wide transmission is broadcast from the World Assembly on Elpis where Prince Ivan officially makes his speech. Anya recognizes her father in the assembled crowd of nobles attending and he now bears the heraldry of an earl, meaning he has been promoted; likewise, Sir Korbin observes his rival, Boris Johns, has also been bumped to that level.

OUTLAAAAWWWW.jpgPrince Ivan’s speech: “Citizens of Moros, the senseless war with our neighbors and partners propagated by the warmongers within our former government is now over. At 9:15 this morning, we have signed an official declaration that calls for a complete cessation of hostilities and our partners within the SpaceFarer’s Collective have agreed to all terms. Yesterday, our partners within the Collective adroitly aided us in putting down a coup attempt led by agents of our sister, Princess Natalia, and though the fight was hard, our new friends helped us win the day through the strength of their courage and the might of our combined arms. We have further announced a 24-hour amnesty for any rebels who wish to surrender with honor, but once that period has elapsed, our Loyalist forces will hunt the remaining traitors down and give them the fates they deserve. Already, our royal sister has taken to spreading malicious lies about her involvement in yesterday’s atrocities and urging violent acts in the face of lawful authority. These are the acts of a terrorist, not one who is royal born, and once our government is reformed and purged of seditious members, we intend to seek a resolution stripping her of her rank and authority. For her crimes, we declare her, from this day forth to be an Outlaw! Any who aid her in any way, no matter how great or small, shall share this fate. To aid in this search and to ensure internal security, our partners within the SpaceFarer’s Collective have agreed to lend us an Orion-class strike carrier so that we may carry our justice anywhere in the system. With such tools as these and the prowess of our loyal forces, we will stamp out this insurgency, and when we do, we will turn our attention back to the expansion of our industry and the betterment of our people. Long live the SpaceFarer’s Collective and long live House Asquith-Orlov!

Princess Natalia is quietly furious over this response because her brother has made no mention of their father and instead, is speaking as if the duke was dead! She is pleased that it took this long for Ivan’s “handlers” to craft a statement, though, as it means her own announcement had more than a day and half to propagate first!

While watching the speech, Anya has an abrupt realization: when escaping the Graveyard, she experienced a “flashback” and recalled looking out of a tank where she saw a vaguely familiar-looking man in another tank. This man was Prince Ivan … but she also immediately realizes that the math doesn’t add up as she was born (or “Loomed” if the Name Storyteller or Smith or whatever was telling the truth) in 2371, but Prince Ivan did not have his accident that required so much time being healed until 2384, 13 years later! And Prince Ivan would have only be six when she was born or Loomed or whatever, and she saw an adult man who looks like the guy on the screen! So the only reason why her father would have such an individual in a tube at that early stage is … if the yacht “accident” that claimed the duke’s wife and grievously injured his then 19 year old son … was NOT an accident at all. Is this man even the Prince or did the Prince die and be replaced? And what will happen to her father if the truth of this comes out?

Day Three

Fifty-One Hours Out of Elpis – Lord Basildon launches three combat ships – two patrol boats and a corvette-destroyer analogue – that start burning toward the Anne Bonny. While en route, this task force begins broadcasting a warning to all vessels that the Anne Bonny is under House Basildon protection and any hostile forces will be fired upon.

Fifty-Eight Hours Out of Elpis – All of the ships converge … and what will later be known as the Battle of Basildon kicks off with the Anne Bonny squarely in the middle…

GM Notes

Well, that happened. It was really hard to keep the players remotely focused during this session and I kind of blame myself as too much of this was just me telling them what was happening. One of them ended up having to leave early due to illness, and the rest were like cats riddled with ADHD who were thoroughly uninterested in what was going on. Ended up not finishing where I wanted to and had to put off the space battle task chain thing until the beginning of next week, which, honestly, might be for the best. Maybe. I dunno.

  • I did a terrible job with the refugee/passengers. They were just … there. What I should have done is give each one a personality trait of some sort – there are plenty of random generators that would have sufficed for that – and kept it in mind. There was at least one interaction that I wanted to do with Ilik that I completely forgot. Fodder for the future, I suppose.
  • Niall and Tausret, Chirugeon Fourth Circle, falling into bed together was something one of the players recommended when Niall failed a SOC-based Science (psychology) check to help the Taareh out when she started to break down. The description of Marginal fail (by -1) is that it was almost a success and that the GM can change it to a success, albeit with some negative repercussions. Niall sleeping with his Rival is just going to make it worse (presumably), because now she’s going to think he took advantage of her in a weakened state. Good times!
  • The original intent was to end with the arrival at Basildon, after the conclusion of the space battle task chain (more on that later), but we got a later than normal start due to a late player and then it was off to the cat herding. :P
  • Considering how I was already struggling with what to do once they reached Basildon, this might actually be a good thing. I’d also dropped a sequence in the middle for time and I may attempt to recycle that in 2.12 as well.
  • Regarding the space battle, rather than do a full-on actual space battle, I was leaning toward utilzing the Task Chains option with each failure becoming the task chain effect worth of damage inflicted (so fail by -2 to -5 inflicts 2D damage, fail by -6 or more inflicts 3D, etc.), but with the extra week to fiddle with it, that may change.
  • With regards to the Collective “space marines,” they currently are looking to Rostya for leadership and I have what I hope to be an interesting plan for them in the future…
Season 2, Episode 10: The Longest Day

Ilik has found himself in an … unexpected situation, having discovered that the woman he’s currently … “enjoying upon the spot” appears to be none other than Anya! He makes a half-hearted effort to stop but she grinds a bit bit more which is just enough to … finish him off. In the throes of unexpected pleasure, he’s caught off guard when she bits his lip – hard – and murmurs, “Now.” A line of agonizing fire burns across his throat – his throat has been cut by none other than Lavina Manning, the passenger with whom he had a fling while in transit to Elpis and she is wearing a positively malicious expression. Pain tears through him and his vision fails …

Abruptly, he finds himself floating in a sea of chrome. It churns like a vast sea of liquid mercury. His throat continues to burn as the chrome washes over the injury, sealing it up. He vaguely senses … things watching him and they seem quite displeased. There’s a buzz that isn’t quite noise and he’s falling from a vast height … he slams back into his body and find himself once more drenched in blood. Shredded bodies are everywhere and he can see Lavina’s decapitated head on the floor in front of him, staring sightlessly with a startled expression on her face. Across the room, still quite naked but also splattered with blood as well, is … Anya’s twin. She has an insane smile on her face as she says, with a nutso giggle, “He did not see me! It worked!”

And then, an immense explosion outside rocks the building, shatters the windows and throws Ilik to the ground. When he looks up, “Anya” is gone and through the now open windows, he can see ships battling over the city…

In low orbit, Anya is in a private shuttle with several other passengers. She was planning on purchasing gear today, but saw an advert for “orbital skydiving” and her adrenaline junkie nature could not allow her to ignore it. So here see is, having signed the waivers and gone through the safety briefings, and is listening to the instructor when he trails off. She follows his line of sight and observes the arrival of the Collective fleet and the beginning of the battle. To everyone’s surprise, a flight of Collective zero-gee fighters streak by – how they got here so soon is unclear – and one spins briefly in place and callously fires at the shuttle. Anya doesn’t hesitate and leaps out, immediately accompanied by the instructor and one other jumper. The shuttle pilot and the two other would-be skydivers are not so lucky and perish in a fiery explosion. As the three plummet dirtside, Anya is able to see one of the Collective strike carriers and four corvettes dive into the atmosphere as well…

On the streets of Capitol, Sir Korbin has just watched Boris John’s skycar depart and is contemplating regaining the lands usurped from him when air raid sirens begin sounding. A distant explosion from the governmental area is noted and then two Collective corvettes scream by overhead, hotly pursued by a Royal Navy Hammerhead; dozens of the much smaller and more fragile skycars desperately try to get out of the way but most are not fast enough and end being smashed aside, often with fiery results. One of the Timber Wolves, already trailing debris, takes several crippling shots and nose-dives into a building, exploding violently as it tumbles through the duracrete. Overhead, an immense strike carrier has settled in above the city where it begins raining grav tanks and laying down covering fire. There are more explosions everywhere. Even more worrisome to him is when a second pair of Hammerhead corvettes streak by overhead, exchanging fire with one another.

He suddenly hears Lady Amelia’s voice in his head; she sounds pained when she pleads for his assistance. The princess is injured! He doesn’t hesitate as he sprints back toward the Companion House where he finds a Royal Marine grav carrier idling outside with a single marine in the weapons cupola. Inside, Korbin can hear weapons-fire and he leaps into action, first by clotheslining a passer-by on a grav bike. He then uses the bike to climb to the second floor window which he easily cuts free with his new static blade, courtesy of the princess. Into the Companion House he leaps, not yet sure of his plan…

Aboard the Highport, Rostya has had a firsthand view of the Collective attack and his attempts to contact the rest of the crew has been stymied by jamming. He immediately sets out to get the Anne Bonny freed, first by trying to contact ATC only to find them swamped with identical requests. In his frustration, he then accidentally crashed the local computer, making subsequent requests difficult. He then decided to find an “explosive” solution by setting a shaped charge to the floor plating with the expectations of it deactivating when he detonated the charge. Unfortunately, he is rusty with explosives and did not quite set it properly so it fails to go off.

At about that time, Rostya hears a knock at the door leading to the Highport proper: it is Baefre, leading a rather large group of Taareh, most of whom appear to be Rankless, and a regular human that Rostya recognizes as a former passenger. Many of the Taareh appear to have been injured and must be supported. The hatch must be manually opened thanks to Rostya’s earlier failure with the computer, and Baefre is … less than excited when he realizes that he’s the only pilot-trained member of the crew present. While he goes aboard to begin pre-flight, the former passenger – M. Jerome Blank – admits that yes, he’s a pretty good computerist, and yeah, he can hack the station computer to unlock the grav-plating and open the bay doors. He’s done in less than a minute and announces that the source of the jamming is from the Highport central computer! So Mister Blank just crashed the whole system.

And then, just as Rostya is beginning to get some of these would-be refugees aboard, he can see a missile fired from a Collective corvette at a Hammerhead streak toward the bay door…

Having redressed and fled the charnel house that was a noble’s home, Ilik darts into the streets of Capitol and finds the seat of the ducal house has gone mad. The sky above him is crisscrossed with dueling vehicles, whether they’re spacecraft like the corvettes or planet-bound aerocraft launching suicide runs against the strike carrier. He can hear gunfire all around him and his comms are still being jammed, though he does vaguely catch something from Niall about the starport and troops. Hotwiring a nearby grav bike, he sets out, intending on locating the doctor and getting off this planet, but as he passes a street, he notices a G/Carrier parked outside an elaborate-looking building that, even now, Sir Korbin is sneaking into via his own grav bike and judicious use of a sword. Ilik brakes, sighs and backs up. He’s going to have to get involved…

EST-OrbitalSkydive.jpgAnya and her two fellow skydivers hurtle toward Capitol at terminal velocity. She observes the ground-based defense systems finally get into the fight and, from all over the horizon, massive lasers are fired into orbit and immense torpedoes streak into the sky. The instructor shouts over their comms that he has a plan. This is what they’re going to do…

And then, a ground-based laser flashes up and he’s gone.

The other skydiver begins screaming in complete panic, but Anya shrugs it off. Her adrenaline is up and despite the fact that she could die at any second, she finds this whole situation kind of fun. She angles her body toward the outer lip of Capitol, noting that the other skydiver is simply following her by reflex. They pop their chutes and parawing in like experts, landing inside Capitol and immediately noting the raw chaos transpiring. She is able to quickly make contact with Niall – he’s not that far away and the jamming has lessened slightly – and they coordinate where to link up since the shuttle is a no-go thanks to the sheer volume of Collective troops swarming the starport.

Meanwhile, Korbin has reached the room where he was debriefed by the princess. Downstairs, he can still hear gunfire and screams, so these marines are definitely not here to assist. Lady Amelia ushers him into the now wrecked room and at a glance, Korbin can tell its bad. Amelia herself has a broken arm and is visibly struggling with the pain, while a deeply unconscious Princess Natalia is buried under debris that seems to have collapsed upon her. Using his static blade, Korbin is able to cut the princess free, but he discovers that she has a badly broken leg – bones aren’t supposed to stick out like that! – and from feel, some broken ribs as well. While this is transpiring, Lady Amelia informs him that she and the princess underestimated Prince Ivan; this isn’t just a Collective attack, it is also a palace coup! They must get the princess offworld immediately. He hesitates, for a moment unsure how to proceed…

And his comm chirps. It’s Ilik who is now close enough that the jamming is barely effective. They converse briefly, with Korbin declaring that he needs transport and Ilik, upon looking at the G/Carrier with the single marine on defense, telling him to stand by. Ilik then uses the ongoing chaos around them to sneak up to the G/Carrier and then enter it by stealth without the marine ever noticing; he snatches the man’s weapon – a laser rifle – and pumps two lethal shots into the poor bastard before sealing the doors and clambering into the driver’s station. Outside, he can see the other marines responding to the now dead gunner’s cries over their comms, but they’re not quick enough and Ilik takes the G/Carrier aloft, smashing through the window (and wall) that Korbin had previously entered.

Sir Korbin has not been idle either, and carries the princess out with Lady Amelia assisting as well as she can due to her own injuries. They board the G/Carrier and, upon seeing a handful of terrified would-be Companions on the same floor watching, Korbin gestures for the ladies to join them which they do with much alacrity. No one likes the stench of the cooked marine but they mostly ignore it for now. At Korbin’s go signal, Ilik slams the G/Carrier into reverse … and then nearly rolls it due to his inexperience with one of these. Two of the vehicle’s integrated weapon systems are torn free but that doesn’t stop them from bugging out while under fire from the marines. With Ilik at the controls, Korbin then uses the vehicle’s integrated comm systems to contact Niall (and Anya, as it turns out), so they can coordinate a link-up.

Aboard the Highport, Rostya has just enough time to recognize that the missile is incoming when it slams into the bay door and detonates, immediately causing explosive decompression. He bounces into several hardpoints but is unable to arrest his tumble and finds himself spinning wildly in space, along with a pair of Taareh Rankless unfortunate enough to suffer the same fate. All three are in their vacc suits with the helmets up – the initial warning alarms were more than enough for them to seal up – but they have no control and, in mere seconds, the Rankless are out of sight. Rostya is able to open comms with Baefre aboard the Bonny and the Taareh tells him to sit tight, rescue is coming.

From his vantage point, Rostya is able to see the still ongoing space battle. One of the Royal Navy carriers is effectively on fire thanks to concentrated attack, with escape pods streaming away from it and heading dirtside. This has led the bulk of the attackers to shift fire on the other carrier which is desperately trying to maneuver. Things have not gone entirely for the Collective and the Royal Navy contingent siding with them, though; at least one of the four Fenris-class frigates is a complete wreck and the Invictus-class carrer has taken a rather significant amount of damage as well. From the Highport itself, he can see literally hundreds of vessels streaming away from their docking berths, which he takes to mean that Mr. Blank unlocked everyone’s systems when he crashed the station computer. Good.

It’s a sloppy maneuver, but Baefre is able to get the Bonny out and pick up Rostya. They have no way to isolate the Rankless who were also spaced from the hundreds of distress beacons filling the comm channels, and sadly, little time either. After a brief discussion, Baefre and Rostya agree that they’ve got to go dirtside to at least make an effort to rescue the rest of their crew … if they’re alive.

And they are. Having linked up with Anya, Niall and Guy, the other skydiver, Korbin uses the G/Carrier’s comms to contact the Bonny and they arrange a rendezvous point not on Capitol. This results in a long descent to the actual ground while in the G/Carrier, during which time Niall is able to do a preliminary examination of the injured. He is immediately concerned over Princess Natalia’s injuries and urges all available speed because she needs emergency surgery just to survive!

The G/Carrier is able to be secured in the lower cargo bay with too much difficultly and in moments, with Anya now in the pilot’s chair and all gunnery stations manned, the Anne Bonny climbs up out of the gravity well, angling sharply away from the fiercest of the conflict. Still, they are able to witness how the battle ultimately ends: one of the Royal Navy carriers, already heavily damaged was erroneously believed by the attacking forces to be out of the fight and foolishly ignored. Its captain waited until the bulk of the Collective and traitor Naval forces had swept by it, and then he conducted an unexpected ramming maneuver against the Invictus-class. The resulting explosion ripped apart both ships, claimed hundreds of lives, and provided enough of a shock to allow the surviving loyalist forces to withdraw in some sort of order.

Engines bright, the Anne Bonny burns toward Basildon, home of Princess Natalia’s grandfather. And once clear of the heaviest jamming, Rostya realizes that he’s missed a message from Colonel Tarkov warning him that Collective Intel is cleaning house and liquidating previous black ops personnel for some reason…

GM Notes

  • Down Baefre and Niall’s players. The latter was expected due to work, but the former was late notice.
  • Nominally satisfied with this, though Rostya didn’t have quite enough to do and I felt like he was shortchanged. Would have liked to give Anya more to do as well, but couldn’t quite figure out what.
  • Speaking of Anya, she named the survivor – Guy – and we all unanimously agreed that he was very much Sam Rockwell from Galaxy Quest. The orbital skydiving is obviously influenced by the first (meh) nuTrek movie with Pine and Quinto, and was brought on because last week, Anya’s player decided that, with all of her crazy hijinks with the Name Storyteller (aka “Doctor Smith”), Anya had become something of an adrenaline junkie.
  • The PCs taking the G/Carrier was an option I had in the back of my head, though I could figure out if they’d seize it or disable it and then bail. It mostly worked out, though Ilik’s terrible Flyer rolls resulted in it losing most of its weapons.
Season 2, Episode 9: The Elpis Trip

Twenty hours out from Albion, the crew detect a pair of mysterious ships paralleling them and operating without a transponder. Worried at this because it harkens back to Baefre’s history when he was a PKF Farseeker and his ship was destroyed by pirates in a similar manner and recognizing that they have passengers to worry about, Sir Korbin opts to reach out to Albion Traffic Control about the mystery ships; ATC begins sweeping with sensors and advises that they have asked for assistance from a (comparatively) nearby Ducal Royal Navy Hammerhead corvette. The vessel in question is extremely far away but the moment it responds with active sensors and open comms, the two mystery vessels peel away and head in opposite directions at high velocities.

Over the next day, Baefre engages one of the passengers – Khenut, Artificer Third Circle, Moros System – with his commentary on Anpu, Master of Secrets and Foremost of the Divine, and the rest of the Old Gods, but he finds a more interested party with yet another passenger, Lavina Manning, who begins asking questions and challenging the doctrine. She eventually references the Lord of Pain in comparison to something Baefre said, which causes Ilik to perk up and then engage her in conversation, hoping to learn more about the Church of the Final Atonement. It seems to go quite well for him, though she is quite … aggressive behind closed doors, prompting him to require some painkillers afterward.

On the second day, Anya rejoins the crew by exiting a Door that brings her into the crew lounge where Korbin has been decoding a response from his spy contacts advises him that further instructions await him on Elpis. She’s been away with Dr. Smith for not quite two weeks, experiencing a string of escapades. Hanging with Dr. Smith is exhausting … first, they used the Door to go to Gateway Station, which is basically on the other side of the galaxy. The two of them got sucked up into a personal conflict between the Ozrahd and Præxiõn ambassadors that threatened to deteriorate into another shooting war between their nations. After narrowly accomplishing that, they used a Door to escape some upset individuals and ended up on one of the Colonies at the Core. That turned into a harrowing “haunted house” kind of thing with what amounted to dealing with Aliens. As in the chest-burster, Giger-esq, acid for blood type. Barely escaping that – sadly, her and Dr. Smith are the only ones who did survive – they fled through a Door and ended up in the Commonwealth of New Britannia where they were promptly drawn into shenanigans involving the royal family. The king of New Britannia had just passed away – he was pretty old, so it as natural causes – and there was a brief struggle for the crown, with the even victor being a new “Queen Elizabeth” … who also seemed very taken with Dr. Smith. After that, she knows that they fled through a Door to escape the Queen, but … she can’t recall what happened next, although she knows that she’s got some missing time. A couple of days, actually. Every time she started to ask Dr. Smith the questions she wants answered, something interrupted them and resulted in running & hijinks. Every. Single. Time.

The following day, two of the passengers get inebriated and then into an aggressive argument regarding the state of the war. Rostya intervenes but does a fairly terrible job which prompts one of the two taking a swing at him. Even though the man misses, Rostya takes a fall anyway, calling out for a medic. The confusion caused by his actions allows the situation to be defused.

As they come within visual range of Elpis, they discover the space around the planet filled with hundreds of ships. Naval formations are arrayed appropriately, which tracks with the news reports of military reorganization, although something about they way they’re set up begins to cause Korbin’s brain tickles. There’s something not quite right, but he can’t put his finger out what just yet…

The Anne Bonny is buzzed numerous times and eventually directed in a holding pattern that leads to instructions to stand by for a marine inspection team. This is not a request and they are advised that resistance will be met by force. A boarding skiff is dispatched from one of the Javelin-class destroyers. A very heavily armed squad of marines boards and establishes a beachhead; once satisfied that they’re not going to be shot at, a smaller group of naval crew board, armed only with scanning gear. While the scanning crew move through the ship, escorted by some of the marines, the officer-in-charge interrogates the crew and passengers of the Anne Bonny, demanding legitimate paperwork and explanations for coming to Elpis. The fact that the Bonny has a past piratical history definitely doesn’t help.

Many hours later, the Anne Bonny is finally released to return to their previous course and heading which takes them to the Highport Traffic Control. Upon docking, the passengers disembark with James Forbes advising Korbin that he will need a couple of days to get the second half of the money he owes for the advanced electronics; he seems quite eager to get away due the … attentions of one of the other female passengers who evidently pursued him quite eagerly during the trip. It takes another nine hours or so to fully offload the cargo and get those turned over to the proper parties. During that time, the crew catch up with the local news-nets, noting that the current Lord Speaker of the World Assembly is facing a potential collapse of his current government following a call for a vote of no-confidence. Anya notes that her father is also in the news; despite normally being a very close ally to the Lord Speaker, he has publicly broken with the man and seems on the verge of joining a new coalition arrayed against Lord Arcadia. Also in the news is ho the World Assembly has been pushing both of the duke’s heirs to marry and have children since the duke still has not recovered from his illness; Prince Ivan has been tied to the niece of Countess Celene, Lady Anchises, which many theorize may lead to an engagement at any day, but Princess Natalia is notoriously discreet about her private life.

Soon after arrival, Korbin receives a message that provides him an address at Capitol where he has a “reservation” for the next day.

Once his duties are complete, Niall heads to the purchasing kiosks on the Highport to replenish ship medical supplies but just as he’s about to pay, a familiar voice interrupts and tells the vendor that she will pay double what he is going to spend to not sell to him. This turns out to be Tausret, Chirugeon Fourth Circle, Moros System, an old … acquaintance and bitter rival of his from his first years as a doctor. By her uniform, she is now serving in the Peace-Keeping Force, but he recalls her being less than pleasant to him. More irritating to him is that she discreetly follows him and intervenes a few additional times to repeat the above. Clearly, she takes their rivalry seriously.

While purchasing gear on the highport, Anya observes the man she knows as Doctor Smith meeting with another unusual man. The two stare at one another before they begin talking in a completely foreign language that doesn’t quite sound like something humans should be able to pronounce. They exchange items of some sort – just looking at whatever they hand each other makes her head hurt; the angles on one of the items doesn’t seem to add up correctly, and the colors of the other are such that everything else seems to be washed out and pale by comparison. Anya is eventually pulled into the conversation between the two men, but the stranger grows angry with “Smith” with regards to Anya, accusing him of being a fool and asking if Smith “pulled her out of the weft of chords himself” and threatening that “the Symposium will break you upon the Great Wheel” for this. Smith retorts that he did what he had to and that she is now “Cousin to the Loomed.” The stranger, who has said Anya can call him “Grimm,” warns her about staying around Smith, though he calls him the Name Storyteller. He departs, seemingly in frustration, and Anya slides into his abandoned seat and takes the opportunity to demand some answers about why she is so different. Smith … or the Name Storyteller or whatever his name is states that he would call her Loomed but, in terms she can understand, she ould say that was genetically engineered. How? Her father came into possession of a non-human artifact many years ago, which Smith (or the Name Storyteller) knows as a “Loom” which is technology millennia beyond human understanding; despite this, though, her father is so smart that after a mere ten years, he managed to turn it on! The Name Storyteller intervened then and aided her father, and ten years later, she was Loomed. He does not know what her Purpose yet – perhaps she shall be a Friend or a Student or even an Enemy; he doesn’t know yet and is eager to find out. When Anya asks if she will be able to learn how to use the Doors like he does, he pauses, and then extracts a fist-sized ball from inside his jacket and begins to contact juggle it. “This is a Sphere of Longing,” he says, “pulled from the Untempered Schism before the Eye of Harmony rent it asunder during the terrible War that saw Paaren Disen wiped from the Great Pattern. There is only one in all of existence.” He catches it and taps it slightly on the table; a marble-sized piece breaks off and rolls toward Anya who catches it? Touching the marble is … bizarre to Anya. It seems simultaneously more solid than anything you’ve ever touched before while also seeming to be so ephemeral that it could almost be a gentle breeze turned solid. It sparkles, as if it were cycling through a range of different colors. Smith or November or the Name Storyteller smiles as he resumes contact juggling his fully intact sphere that absolutely does not have any marble-sized cracks in it. “Hold fast to that. Its value is incalculable and my words are not idly chosen. When you are alone, or Lost, or cannot see your Path, focus upon it. Become its totality. Consider it … a battery. Yes. A battery for the mind. An engine of creation, if you will. Let it nourish you as you nourish it.” When she looks up again, he’s gone.

Having previously reached out to Amelia Rosterova to point him toward a black market vendor, Ilik seeks the man out to purchase some less than legal gear. Soon after, he receives a wave from Lavina, inviting him to join her on the following day at Capitol to attend a Church of the Finale Atonement ceremony. He eagerly agrees, only momentarily reconsidering afterward. Still, it may lead to answers.

Baefre interacts with a number of Rankless Taareh acting as dockworkers; he is recognized and then becomes dismayed at just how badly they’ve misinterpreted some of his writings. Increasingly frustrated, he decides to address their errors in the home of one of the Rankless.

After returning from accompanying Ilik to the black market where he served as a bodyguard, Rostya is at a food vendor when a man he vaguely recognizes sidles up to him and whispers, “_Blitzkrieg fallacy undertow_.” This time, the compliance code works and the man orders him to follow, but within four or five steps, Rostya realizes he’s back in control. Still, he decides to play along in the hopes of learning more information. They enter a transit pod that takes them deeper into the highport and during this trip, the man makes a call, informing the person on the other side that the asset has been secured and to have the cleaners standing by. Realizing this probably means an assassination, Rostya begins considering his next options. Outside a hostel, the man sharply deviates into an alley, likely due to the presence of two station security personnel chatting with local joy-girls outside the hostel. Rostya takes the opportunity to jump the man, catching him by surprise and slamming him against the wall. He interrogates the man, gleefully revealing that the compliance codes don’t work anymore, and the fellow folds like a cheap suit, revealing that Rostya himself was the target as someone higher up in Collective Intelligence has decided that he’s a liability that needs to be … liquidated. Rostya lets the man go, threatening that if this happens again, he’s going to start killing his way up the chain of command.

The following day, three of the crew – Ilik, Korbin and Niall – take the shuttle down to Capitol as the first two have appointments and the third wants to try and purchase some gear without Tausret intervening, while the rest of the crew remain on the highport for various duties or other tasks. For Korbin, the address turns out to be the Companion’s Guild House for Moros, though with this system basically being a pariah system, it has devolved into a high-end brother run by a former Companion. He is directed to a specific room where he is mildly surprised to find that Princess Natalia is waiting for him with her lady-in-waiting, Lady Amelia. The princess accepts the data and passes it on to Amelia to review while conducting a fairly touchy-feely debrief. Once it is done, she reveals that she’s aware he no longer has the sword given to him when he was knight because of the late unpleasantness, so she has arranged for a replacement. To his continuing discomfort, she insists on girding the weapon upon him personally. Once the “debrief” is over, the princess instructs him to be wary and cautious in the immediate future. Her brother has been making some dangerous moves of late, some of which she has managed to counter but others … others she has not. His … handlers – said with as much contempt as she can manage – are growing more aggressive than ever. Finally, she gives him a quick kiss on the cheek as he’s preparing to depart and she issues him a formal directive: “_We require you to stay alive, my knight. We have … plans for you in the future and your death would bring us much sorrow._” He’s not quite sure how to respond to that…

Meanwhile, Ilik links up with Lavina Manning on Capitol and finds her quite excited about the upcoming ceremony where she hopes he ill find “enlightenment.” They take a skimmer to a noble’s estate where Lavina is confirmed as a guest and Ilik is her ‘plus one.’ The guards provide them with Shrike face masks that conceal the entire head but leaves the mouth uncovered. Once inside the manor, Ilik’s leeriness begins to grow as Lavina strips out of her clothes and gives him an expectant look. Thinking this is the only way he will get the answers he wants, he follows suit and then is led into a larger ballroom filled with dozens of equally naked people engaged in … interesting activities. An atmosphere of lust and desire hits him like a haze, clouding his thoughts and reactions. Only one person – a woman – is still clothed, wearing a sheer robe that hints at more than it actually shows, and she is prowling the floor of the ballroom, observing and generally acting as the queen bee. To Ilik’s eyes, she is vaguely familiar in some way, as if he recognizes her, but his brain is too dazzled to fully recognize her. When she approaches, Lavina tries to introduce him, but the woman says she knows who he is and is pleased that he’s here. She then expertly seduces him, drops her robe and … uh … climbs aboard, so to speak. Midway through the … uh … encounter, an especially exuberant … maneuver knocks the woman’s Shrike mask off and, through his lust addled brain, Ilik realizes that this woman appears to be … Anya!

Departing the Companion House, Korbin realizes that he’s being followed or watched and takes some evasive actions. They don’t work especially well, which implies (or at least he infers) that the pursuer was one of the ubiquitous drones flittering around above the streets of Capitol. A grav limo blocks off his route and from it emerges Boris Johns, the bastard who managed to usurp Korbin’s baronetcy. They exchange words, with Johns indicating that he’s ready to bury the hatchet and would be willing to allow the baronetcy to return to Sir Korbin, which is either an indication that Johns is expecting greater authority in the near future or maybe that his legal claim on the baronetcy is a bit shakier than normal. Maybe both. All Korbin has to do is terminate his association with certain … individuals who is not the proper heir, whatever she may claim. Johns is able to depart without incident, probably due to the hulking brute of a bodyguard standing watch.

Finally, back in orbit, Rostya is conducting some routine maintenance on the Anne Bonny when suddenly, dozens and dozens of zero-gee fighters flash by overhead, angling sharply toward the (comparatively) nearby naval base. Alarms and klaxons begin sounding through the Highport as, with flickers, the entire SpaceFarer’s Collective fleet arrive via microjumps, led by a startlingly large Invictus-class carrier and a pair of Orion-class strike carriers; every ship present begins deploying their fighters…

And then, without warning, fully half of the Royal Navy fleet that is present around Moros opens fire … on the other Royal Navy ships.

The Battle of Elpis has begun.

Game Notes

  • Finally back to the game. Played entirely using Fantasy Grounds and TeamSpeak this week due to three of us having had the Coof (though we’ve all recovered from it.)
  • Couple of pacing issues that I wasn’t happy about, though that was all on me.
  • In retrospect, I kind of wish I’d done a more thorough read-thru of “Pirates of Drinax” before this campaign started because the rules for the Aslan character creation are actually pretty close to what I now envision for the Taareh. I’ve retroactively added the Tolerance skill and future Taareh characters (PCs or NPCs) basically use similar rules to the Aslan, albeit with the TER replaced with CST for Caste. I’m slowly working on a fuller document for that which will go up here on the Portals … eventually.
  • Baefre’s player joined late and then had to duck out for an extended period of time in the middle due to some family issues.
  • The stuff with Anya was entertaining (at least to me!) because I intentionally made it confusing as hell, as well as me mashing together five or six different franchises. To start, Smith or November or the Name Storyteller is a technomage (heavily influenced by Babylon 5); the name “Name Storyteller” comes from the Continuing Time series; the Sphere of Longing comes from 40K, though in that, its the title of a book written by Inquisitor Gideon Ravenor; the Untempered Schism and the Eye of Harmony obviously come from Doctor Who, as well as my use of Paul McGann, as are the references to the Loom, which comes from DW books, not the show; Paaren Disen is from the “Wheel of Time” books, not the crappy Amazon abortion they dare to call an ‘adaption’; the contact juggling is obviously mostly yanked from the Goblin King from Labryinth. I think there may have been some more, but I don’t recall it.
  • Ilik “half-heartedly” fought being seduced at the “Shrike Wide Shut” party (as jokingly called by one of the players) and added Bane to his Persuade check without me telling him too. I countered with a Boon … and literally rolled 3 sixes.
  • Going to be missing Niall’s player next week. Which might be good ‘cause next week is already going to be a logistical nightmare since the GM foolishly split the party and scattered everyone to the four winds…
Season 2, Episode 8: The Bad Day

On the docks, Ilik and Niall find themselves facing off against three thugs armed with bats. Almost immediately, the ambush starts to go poorly, with Ilik taking a crushing blow to his arm that forces him to retreat. He does so by going over the side of the railing, dropping down one level and expertly rolling to distribute his weight. Niall is close behind him but is not quite as successful and ends up relatively prone. The three thugs pursue, but one of them, already injured from a blow from Niall, manages to knock himself out in the fall; a second of the thugs takes a wild swing at Niall who counters with his piston-fist with a blow that crumples the man’s sternum and kills him immediately. Wisely, the remaining thug opts to retreat, leaving the two crewmembers free to limp back to the Anne Bonny.

At the same time this is going on, Rostya, finally fully healed, is heading deeper into the asteroid when the Collective agent who hired him to retrieve some listening devices from the Bonny intercepts him with two enforcer types. The agent declares that Rostya should not have threatened him before ordering his enforcers to “do it.” They heft their clubs menacingly … but are unprepared for the violence that is Rostya; he charges one and stabs him with a knife, immediately forcing the man to retreat. The second enforcer gets closer and then promptly suffers the same fate, leaving only the Collective agent who completely panics when the trigger command that previously shut Rostya down doesn’t work and goes for his sidearm. He gets one solid hit in with that laser but flees in terror. Badly injured, Rostya lets him go and them limps back to the ship. He’s still hungry.

Soon after returning, Niall receives a call from a worried Dr. Bryce who states that he’s being followed and doesn’t know what to do. After considering, Niall suggests that Bryce come to the ship while Baefre and Korbin loiter nearby and attempt to identify the pursuers. Unfortunately, this does not go well as Dr. Bryce’s body is discovered in an elevator – his throat has been cut and at a glance, it’s obvious that his pockets have been rifled through. When the station security arrive, they’re obviously super overworked and stressed out, and while taking statements, an ‘all units’ call comes in for the security personnel: a detective and his family have just been murdered in a drive-by at a show they were attending.

Over the rest of the week, as the injured recovered, the crew continue their repairs. Ilik confirms his fear that the murdered detective was the one he befriended, which implies that someone is cleaning up loose ends. Gear and equipment is ordered online and delivered as the crew determine that they should stay close to the ship.

The day before the repairs are complete, James Forbes arrives at their berth. Having previously arranged to purchase the computers salvaged from the pirate vessel, he admits that he only has half of the agreed upon payment but can get the rest in a couple of weeks after he travels to Elpis. Korbin reveals that they’re about to head that way and are willing to take him with them, much to his appreciation.

Securing some additional passengers – eight, in fact – and as much freight as they can carry, the crew depart Albion as soon as they can, still looking over their shoulders for potential assassins…

GM Notes

  • Still down Anya’s player, but that was expected. Further, due to X-Mas & New Years silliness, we’re off until after the first of the year where hopefully, I’ll be able to run more than two weeks in a row. This start and stop stuff is killing my momentum and motivation as GM. I don’t blame the players, I blame my brain; whenever I have more than a week off while GMing, my brain goes into the “Right. You’re not GM anymore. Time to start thinking about a different game.” mode and that’s a nightmare to fight off.
  • Elements of the session borrowed from the Expanse adventure, “To Sleep, Perchance to Dream.”
  • We spent a lot amount of time with the players purchasing new gear and the like.
  • Elpis is only a little over 3 and a half days away, but that’s plenty of time to cause shenanigans and hijinks.
Season 2, Episode 7: The Doctor's Job

Having turned over the corsair, Dengi Dreadstar, and his piratical crew to the Golden Path on Albion, the crew turn to ship repairs. They arrange for a repair berth for the next week, during which time they intend to restore the full hull integrity, get the shuttle functional once more, fix the slow refuel issue of the Anne Bonny, and finally get registered for the torpedo system.

The first day after they begin work, a number of things transpire nearly simultaneously. Ilik encounters a member of the Curia’s Secretariat who has arrived in response to the request for assistance. After listening to Ilik’s tale, the Secretary reveals some unexpected information: some of the abilities that Ilik has described was researched by a chapterhouse that was exterminated root and branch by what the Curia believe to be a SpaceFarer’s Collective special forces unit many years ago and that line of inquiry has long been forbidden by the Curia Secretariat because it is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be … unnatural. Ilik’s options are threefold: kill himself to prevent further possession by the Shrike; seek out his chapterhouse to see if they were involved; find out more about the Shrike from the Church of Final Atonement. In closing, Ilik also asks if the Curia is aware of any Taareh anti-psion capabilities which the Secretary is not … though he will investigate.

Around the same time, Baefre continues his preaching in the Taareh section of Albion. In the same bar that he ended up before, he is surprised when Dagi Rankless enters, accompanied by a pair of former PKF Elites. At Dagi Rankless’ request, the bar is emptied, and the terrorist leader then sits at Baefre’s table. The two then engage in a polite debate regarding their respective beliefs: Dagi Rankless agrees with Baefre’s assessment that the caste system is broken, but due to his own background, believes that the Ruling caste must be violently overthrown, not simply dissolved as Baefre would prefer. The two are also hampered by the Taareh mindset: Taareh are simply not innovative and if you remove the ruling caste, none of the other Taareh are actually capable of ruling. Both sides agree that the other has some points, but Dagi Rankless agrees to allow Baefre Wayfinder to continue his preaching. Afterward, Dagi Rankless has to depart due to his duties.

Sir Korbin, still on the hunt for a proper cappuccino, observes the arrival of Twosret, Shipmaster, Khonsu Warship, accompanied by a pair of heavily armed Taareh marines. She is surprised to see him and approaches, identifying him as ‘Korbinspears, Nomarch, Dunn District Elpis World.’ Misidentifying him as a representative of the Ducal House here for the tribunal, which Sir Korbin simply rolls with, she provides him with information regarding a shipment of advanced weapons and explosives intended for Elpis. Not sure what else to do, Korbin continues to play along and ends up attending the trial of Dengi Dreadstar. It plays out like most Taareh trials: there are seven ‘judges’ (who are randomly selected from the civilians to serve) presiding, while Dengi Dreadstar, escorted by two former Warriors wielding familiar dueling blades, must defend himself against the prosecution of Dagi Rankless. Dengi Dreadstar’s crimes boil down to murder, mayhem, more murder, rape, pillage, even more murder, etc. The reveal that he is responsible for the destruction of a sub-creche and the deaths of many younglings certainly seal his fate and the ‘judges’ deem him guilty. Execution is carried out immediately: the two guards use the dueling blades and strike seven precise strikes that kill the pirate. Dagi Rankless then secures the two blades in a ceremonial box and presents them to Twosret, Shipmaster, Khonsu Warship in a very ceremonial manner, informing her that justice has been served. She accepts them without comment and departs. Outside, Sir Korbin mentions briefly to Twosret, Shipmaster, that his crew was responsible for capturing the now dead pirate, to which she responds that clearly the Taareh owe them a debt.

The following day, Niall while dealing with rejected ship transfer paperwork once more encounters Dr. Bryce, the doctor who he advised about the job with the Collective the last time he was here in Albion. Bryce reveals that he has not accepted but has been investigating (not well, admittedly) and learned that two doctors that he knows in passing have vanished after refusing the job! He asks Niall for assistance.

Niall seeks out Ilik and asks for investigatory assistance, and the two start digging into Doctors Anna Bragenholm and Matteo Cerri, both of whom have disappeared. The former vanished more than three months ago and the latter around three weeks ago. Over the next day, they do a bit of legwork, ultimately obtaining ship manifests from the time of both doctors’ disappearance.

And, as they are exiting the harbormaster location, a trio of rough-looking fellows intercept them…

GM Notes

  • Down two players tonight – one was planned, the other was in support of the first. No game for the next two weeks due to the “silly season”, then planning for two sessions in December, then picking back up in January.
  • Elements of the session borrowed from the Expanse adventure, “To Sleep, Perchance to Dream” which I added late on Thursday and clearly needed a bit of additional work. I think I managed to make it work though.
  • Amusingly, multiple PCs were expecting major shenanigans during the trial. Dengi Dreadstar getting straight up executed right there caught them by surprise.
  • I don’t think the confrontation between Baefre and Dagi Rankless worked as well as I would have liked. Luckily, I asked him for an opposed Persuasion check and we tied. Ideally, I’m hoping for them to end up with a Charles Xavier-Eric Lensherr (Magneto) type of debate since both of them have good points.
  • Further, since the Golden Path is becoming a recurring element, I really need to come up with the proper symbology since I keep referencing “Golden Path symbology”…
  • As I understand it, the current plan for the crew is to head down the well toward Elpis with Ilik eyeing going to Nyx or Nithercott to investigate the Church of the Final Atonement for Shrike-related reasons. So I’ve got a solid idea where they’re going and can plan accordingly.
Season 2, Episode 6: The Explosive Door

Having successfully crippled the hostile vessel, the crew of the Anne Bonny begin discussing how to proceed. Rostya is very eager to conduct a boarding action, but Sir Korbin is actively opposed to this because they don’t know what the hostiles have at their disposal. Instead, he’d prefer to simply wait the pirate out since repairing the other vessel isn’t an option with the amount of damage its taken.

About ten minutes later, a radio transmission is received from the other vessel with the hostiles asking to know what terms the Anne Bonny crew has. As they two groups converse, Ilik uses his telepathic abilities to sense life on the other ship – to his surprise, they go from five life signs to six. At the same time, the rest of the crew hear eruptions of surprise from the pirates and a voice that Anya recognizes apologizing before asking if they know where she is. There’s a powerful squeal of feedback before the line goes dead. A quick use of the Bonny’s sensors reveal unusual energy readings that no one has ever seen before, and long minutes later, Korbin tries to reopen communications. The stranger’s voice answers, reveals he’s looking for Anya, and that these louts over here had the nerve to shoot at him!

After some additional discussion, the crew decide to send some of their number – Anya, Baefre, Niall and Rostya – over to assist. They find strangeness: an energy bubble encloses the main cargo bay while a glowing ball bounces up and down, pulsing briefly at the apex of each bounce. The five pirates are on the deck, unconscious. Sitting on a box, eating an apple and playing with a yo-yo, is Doctor Smith, who is quite pleased to see Anya. He tells her he needs her assistance in a delicate matter and evidently picked the wrong Door when he was looking for her. He also expresses great delight in meeting Baefre, declaring his excitement at seeing “one of your kind out and about in such an early stage.” The strange doctor peppers Baefre with unusual questions, then breaks off abruptly to instruct Rostya to not touching the bouncing ball because doing so would collapse the air pocket and end the neural overload that is keeping the pirates unconscious. He strongly urges that Niall sedate these louts while Rostya disarms the bomb hidden in the cybernetic arm of one of the pirates.

Anya discusses something softly with Doctor Smith then contacts Korbin to announce that she needs to go away for a bit with Smith. She’ll explain more – probably – when she gets back. Smith precedes her through a doorway that somehow opens into a blinding white light when it should open up into a restroom. The ball continues bouncing for a little bit of time but, when it stops, it freezes in mid-air, then implodes, vanishing completely, bringing down the air pocket as it does.

Over the next eight hours, the remaining crew relocate the sedated pirates to the Bonny before transferring cargo from the wrecked ship. Sir Korbin also decides to cut free the pirate’s computer core, hoping to determine who they were working for. Once they’re satisfied that they’ve stripped the wreck of everything salvageable, they head to the intended destination that was the outpost on the nearby asteroid. Three of the crew – Ilik, Niall and Rostya – join the passenger, James, in heading for the outpost; at the last minute, just as Rostya is reaching for the door, James calls out a warning…

Too late. The door explodes in Rostya’s face. knocking him unconscious and sending him spinning out into space. As the other three were secured to him via safety lines, they are yanked free from the rock as well. This forces Korbin and Baefre to conduct an emergency rescue using the Anne Bonny. Afterward, Niall rushes Rostya into emergency surgery, drafting Sir Korbin to assist as a nurse.

After confirming that the outpost is empty, they set course for Albion once more. Along the way, some repairs are conducted and Albion authorities are contacted with regards to the captured pirates; the lead pirate, a Rankless Taareh, draws the most attention and Sir Korbin soon finds himself talking to another Rankless Taareh wearing some Golden Path symbology. The captured Taareh is identified as Dengi Dreadstar, a wanted pirate, and an offer is made: the Golden Path will pay a staggering 2 million credits for Dengi Dreadstar and the two Taareh dueling blades captured from him.

Upon reaching Albion, the Bonny is directed to landing berth 1138 where a squad of Golden Path Taareh wait along with the regular docking bay authorities. Dengi’s identity is confirmed and the Rankless Taareh in charge hands over the 2 million. The Golden Path will remember their assistance in this matter.

And now, the crew has a lot of money at their disposal…

GM Notes

  • Due to a crazy workload and impending holiday nonsense, Anya’s player has opted to take a hiatus until probably after the 1st of the year. So I needed a way to temporarily write her out.
  • With regards to the pirates, I was prepared for the PCs to either board the wrecked ship and get into a boarding action firefight, or for them to wait the pirates out, which would lead to “Doctor Smith” making an earlier appearance. There was a debate among the players about whether they should take the risk to conduct the boarding action – I intentionally tried to remain neutral in that discussion and honestly, didn’t have a preference either way.
  • The booby-trapped door and resulting explosion was completely unexpected but extremely entertaining. Rostya’s player was almost gleeful when he rolled double-1s on the Recon check to note the hidden bomb, but to my surprise / relief, he took the breaching charge without it doing crippling damage. It does lead me to a question though: does the Effect of the Explosives check apply to actual damage like it does with Gun Combat?
Season 2, Episode 5: The Space Battle

Having reached Albion with Korbin having quoted 20K credits to their passenger, James Forbes, to take him to the isolated location some five days out; Forbes needs some time to obtain the funds, so the crew go on liberty.

Knowing that Albion is home to the largest number of Rankless Taareh in the system, Baefre goes seeking them out to preach the good word of Anpu, Master of Secrets and Foremost of the Divine. He finds receptive ears and, only after some time does he realize that he sees a lot of Golden Path iconography…

Ilik immediately heads for the gambling tables in order to get a better grasp on the local situation, but in doing so, he finds himself exceedingly distracted by glimpses of the Shrike in reflective surfaces as well as a growing sense of anger and rage rumbing in his stomach. Realizing that he needs to do something about this, Ilik discreetly reaches out to Curia, seeking assistance.

Niall discovers that the M/V Anastasis is currently on-station at Albion, which gives him time to catch up with his fellow doctors. One of them, he realizes, has been offered a job with a Collective-based company that is clearly the same crew that hired him for a “special job.” He refuses to offer a suggestion about whether to accept the offer or not, but does sprinkle in a few “be prepared for crazy” in the convo…

Rostya seeks out some additional employment and is later discreetly contacted by a Collective agent who has a job for him that will pay 5,000 credits and lift his exile from Foothold. The job, as it turns out, is to retrieve a quartet of recording devices hidden about the Anne Bonny. Rostya does so, noting that one of these devices was located in Ilik’s quarters, but when he returns them, he strongly advises that the Collective agent leave his crew alone in the future. The agent promises to pass that up the chain, but still pays the monies agreed upon.

Finally, Korbin is approached by who appears to be a doxy but is revealed to be Amelia Rosterova in disguise. Telepathically, she advises him that his crew is under observation by Collective operatives; she asks about the IFF transponder (which is currently hidden in his cabin.) Smiling, she departs after telling him that the princess is thinking of him. When he visits the ship the next time, the transponder is gone.

Into Deep Space

Five days after their arrival, James Forbes links back up with the crew. He has the funds. To improve their legs, the crew also pick up a pair of 1-ton collapsible fuel bladders that they pay to fill up. Soon after, they depart Albion, reaching the target destination four days later to discover it to be an abandoned listening post of some sort. Rather than risk trying to land on this tiny rock, the crew decide to go EV instead … and a comedy of hijinks ensue as they prove to be less competent in null gravity than they would like. Eventually, they reach the ground and quickly realize that this place has been stripped of everything useful. Still, James spends some time digging through the scraps, plugging in his computer table to try and power something – anything – up. Eventually, he’s somewhat successful and his findings track with some of what he already has, and asks if they can go there. It’s a “pirate” (no pun intended) broadcast station and is quite a bit closer to Albion so it’s definitely ‘on the way.’

Four days of travel time puts them within scanner range of Outpost 327 … just as a smaller vessel (concealed on the other side of the rock at the time) lights up its drive. They ping the Anne Bonny multiple times, then thrust toward them, arming weapons. This is a bold choice since they are half the size of the Bonny, but it’s possible they weren’t expecting her to be as well-armed as she is. Baefre, Ilik and Rostya jump on the turrets, with only Baefre truly trained in their use but with Anya at the helm and Korbin providing sensor locks, that doesn’t matter terribly. After thirty-six minutes of constant exchanged fire, the hostile is critically damaged, with no power or thrust…

GM Notes

  • We were down Anya’s player for the session as she was passed out due to a beer bug booster shot.
  • The space battle went fairly well – not as perfect as it could have been (since we were just learning it), but definitely better than it could have been. Once again, the lack of anything to do for a dedicated medic is kind of frustrating; that player took the role of the Engineer while Rostya manned a turret and, again, had nothing to do because no critical hits were inflicted … which I actually need to double-check on, because I’m not positive if that’s right based on the “recurring” damage rules. Simply based on the damage taken, they should have experienced a Severity 1 critical hit.
  • I’ve been sick since late Saturday, so now I’m racing to catch back up.
Season 2, Episode 4: The Bad Week

On Foothold in an isolated corridor that has now been thoroughly shredded, Ilik looks around at the chaos and panics. He grabs an emergency vacc suit from a nearby ‘break this in case of breach’ location and bolts. His appearance – or rather, the fact that he’s covered in blood – causes even more panic than the breach alarms. Rounding a corner, he stumbles into two security personnel who are racing to investigate and, in his panic-induced haste, mumbles out something involving a bomb. They react immediately by drawing their weapons and screaming at him to get on the ground. He’s promptly taken into custody.

Back at the ship, the rest of the crew are determining course of action when facility-wide breach alarms begin sounding and the bay doors leading to the starport proper are sealed, leaving them unable to do much of anything. Many hours later, they are contacted by the starport administrator who, after confirming that Ilik is part of the crew manifest, informs them that he has been taken into custody and that local security is about to enter to take the rest of the crew into custody as well. They are warned not to resist … although Rostya is very eager to do so. A heavily armed SWAT team enters and arrests them all rather forcefully.

Over the next five days, the crew are repeatedly interrogated by Collective authorities who clearly are trying to get them to flip on Ilik with varying degrees of politeness, depending upon their originating faction; he is also repeatedly interrogated but discreetly uses his telepathy to discover what they have on him: it’s not much. The Collective knows that something happened in the place where Ilik was but they don’t know what. The officers that died did so due to surgical cuts from something sharpened to a molecular level, but there’s no indication that Ilik has any cybernetics – the Collective has done medical scans to confirm this! – and he seems harmless (thanks to him using his psionic abilities to convince each interrogator that he is.) Still, he’s the only survivor so he’s got to know something!

On the fifth day, the crew (sans Ilik) are cut free and informed that they need to leave Foothold immediately. Further, they’re barred from returning. As to Ilik, the Collective is going to hold him a little longer. Once back at the ship, the crew begin discussing options about how to get Ilik back or whether they should press on without him.

As it happens, though, this is unnecessary. While being escorted back to his cell, Ilik is met by two Faceless who telepathically order his guards to leave them. The two then have a brief and cryptic conversation with Ilik, informing him only that an “associate” of their’s asked them to look into his situation and that they will see to his release … but his favor will be repaid in the future. Within the hour, he’s cut loose and, like the other members of the crew, informed that he can’t return to Foothold.

Their would-be passenger James is still present, but cuts his offer down to 16,000Cr to get to Albion. With nothing planned, the crew finally depart Foothold. Three days out, James – who has been spending some time using the ship’s comm systems – asks if they can deviate to a new spot for a brief investigation. Unfortunately, after crunching the numbers and amount of fuel available, Korbin regretfully advises him that they cannot. After explaining why, they offer to go there after refueling at Albion and James acknowledges this offer … although he’ll need to make some additional calls to ensure that he can cover those costs.

And, at long last, a little less than six days after leaving Foothold, the Anne Bonny arrives at Albion

GM Notes

  • From start to finish, I (as GM) thought this entire session was a catastrophic mess. For some unbelievably stupid reason, I only briefly entertained the notion that Ilik would surrender to the authorities, then promptly discarded that entirely and focused on what I expected him to do (which was run). And so, when he encountered the second group of security, flubbed his Deception roll (double 1s again), of course he surrendered, which meant I had to do a bunch of ass-pull stuff to figure out what happened next. It made zero sense not to pull all of the characters in for interrogation, so that happened; naturally, the one character who had the Advocate skill was the one who was absent that session. The introduction of the two Faceless was something of a last minute decision to get Ilik out, but I wasn’t happy with it because it felt like too much deus ex machina ass-pull (which is was.) Still, I can see ways forward with them, so I guess that’s a good thing. In retrospect, what I should have done is have Diana get them out … which, I suppose, could have happened since the two Faceless (who were unnamed at game-time but have names now) merely said that an “associate” asked them to assist Ilik…
  • Further, if I’d know he was going to surrender, I’d have also been better prepped for the interrogations of the other PCs by the SpaceFarer’s Collective, but alas … see above-mentioned “I’m a big dumb dummy” commentary re: lack of preparation for Ilik’s surrender. Several of the characters – Anya, Baefre, Korbin – were originally members of factions that the Collective is either at war with (Anya & Korbin) or openly hostile toward (Baefre). Such planning could have also let me figure out exactly what the Collective judicial process is like which I hadn’t actually given any thought to (and frankly, it showed.)
  • With regards to the passenger, James, if I had not been as locked into the next plot sequence, I should have had him simply disappear so a well-paying job simply vanished due to PC shenanigans. Meh. More retroactive realizations, I suppose.
  • The 10 tons of fuel = 1 day of active travel severely limits the “legs” of the PCs right now and I’m still not 100% certain that I like what we’ve decided to do there. As a result of it, we spent entirely too much time trying to figure out whether the PCs could do the deviation; in the end, we determined that they did not have enough fuel.
Season 2, Episode 3: The Foothold Visit

After setting the ball into motion to form a proper company partnership and take official claim to the Anne Bonny, the crew depart Prometheus Station with their passenger, Diana. Recognizing that she introduced herself as a broker, Korbin approaches her regarding the illicit cargo that they have in the hold – 2 tons of illegal weapons mostly salvaged from derelict naval vessels – and she agrees to find a discreet buyer for them at Foothold for a very low commission of 15%. Knowing that she’s going to have to go through black market connections, both Korbin and Ilik are able to recognize that she’s being very lenient as black market brokers can easily expect up to 40%.

The trip to Foothold is uneventful, but allows the crew to take better stock of their new ship and what they find is a vessel that has not been taken care of. By the time they reach Foothold, they’ve got a serious checklist of things that need to be taken care of ASAP before they really trust her to fly properly.

The illegal arms exchange goes off without a hitch and Diana takes her cut, leaving the crew with 222,800 at their disposal. Since Diana is covering for a week’s berthing fees because she may need transport after her meetings, they also arrange for the long overdue annual maintenance, which costs 110,783. The need for 1 ton of spare parts to repair a ‘missed maintenance critical hit’ fuel leak costs them another 100K, leaving them only 12,047Cr … and topping up their fuel is going to cost another 7000Cr, leaving them only 5,047Cr. Straight away, the crew recognize that staying in the black is going to be expensive.

It takes five days for Diana to contact them again, during which time they finish up their annual maintenance, repair that fuel leak – which, amusingly, ends up requiring no spare parts at all – and generally focusing on ship clean-up as the former owners weren’t particularly interested in that sort of thing. Ilik manages to convince everyone to let him withdraw 500 from the petty cash to buy “provisions” … but then, he spends an hour or so seeking out an unregistered gambling game. Despite his opponents using marked cards, he manages to win 150 back.

While departing, he encounters a man who identifies himself as James and wants to discuss a possible job offer … on the ship. Conveniently, Diana has just contacted Korbin to let him know that her hoped-for opportunity that would have required the crew has fallen through, although she hopes to work with them again in the foreseeable future. This frees the crew up to listen to James who needs a discreet transport to Albion in the Chlaer Radical. He’s willing to pay 20,000, which is far higher than the normal going rate. After juggling the numbers, the crew decide that this is the best option they’ve got and Albion will definitely have much better cargo and passenger prospects.

Once again, Ilik decides to go seeking additional passengers or crew despite Foothold’s strict lockdown on unbonded and uninsured crews. He finds no passengers but has a pretty good line on some cargo … until he realizes that he’s smack dab in the middle of a security sting and the guy he’s negotiating with is likely station police. Attempts to talk himself out of this (including that 150 credits he won earlier) fail, so he falls back on his psionic abilities and telepathically assaults the security officer. As expected, the security officer slumps forward into his arms, unconscious, and Ilik catches him, intending on using this as a distraction to make an escape. He catches sight of several other security personnel racing toward him and throws up his arms, pleading innocence. More security appear and things look bad.

Ilik blinks, momentarily disoriented.

And when he opens his eyes, the entire area he’s in has been shredded. Body parts of the security personnel are strewn about haphazardly. Alarms are sounding. And he’s covered from head to toe in blood and gore…

GM Notes

  • We were down two players. One is swamped with real-life work and the other’s wife’s birthday was game night.
  • Amusingly, Niall failed the Advocate roll at the beginning to start working up the LLC … in retrospect, I’m now wondering if that should have been an Admin roll instead? Will have to research further. Anyway, this means that the “ownership” of the Bonny is still in question which may come back and bite them later.
  • Much later, after the fact, I realized that I should have played up the arms exchange more. Maybe hint that I was going to pull a “Ronin” kind of thing and end up with a shoot-out. Alas, missed opportunities…
  • We also spent a lot of time trying to figure out operating costs and how fuel should work in this setting since Traveller presumes that fuel is used for Jumps, which isn’t an issue in this setting since we’re remaining in-system. Ultimately, we decided that, for the Bonny, a full tank (70 tons of fuel) ends up allowing them to traverse about 7 days at 1g acceleration. This is easy enough to work backwards from since that leads to 10 tons of fuel per day and so on. Using the rules as written (RAW) from High Guard p16 on Reaction drives made fuel consumption far too expensive for game purposes.
  • The dice absolutely had it in for Ilik who kept failing at critical junctures. At the end, he’d decided to go seeking (black market) passengers off Foothold to Albion – failed – and (black market) cargo where he then rolled two 1s on the Streetwise check. I’d warned him that rolling snake eyes would result in Collective security clamping down on him so I had to follow through on that. And then, hijinks ensue.
  • Next week, we’ll definitely be down one player – Niall’s, whose work schedule has been changed so he’s unable to play like once a month or something – and possibly another – Anya’s, if her work schedule hasn’t let up yet.