I was reconsidering my dislike of leaving Manhattan, then noticed it's at 6pm. It's my regular evening out with friends lately.
"Saturday" made me assume "afternoon" for some reason.
I was reconsidering my dislike of leaving Manhattan, then noticed it's at 6pm. It's my regular evening out with friends lately.
"Saturday" made me assume "afternoon" for some reason.
Session 2, Engage! We will be playing Starships&Spacemen April 29th at 6pm at The Brooklyn Strategist (333 Court St, Brooklyn). Redbox regulars are welcome to come try out this Trek-ish game based on Labyrinth Lord/Red Box D&D. Message me here if you're interested.
Ensign White-Linen listens with dutiful respect to Administrator Wellard's view of the threat from the Zangid Space-Bastards. She gives a slightly disappointed but credulous nod. When he shifts topics to the mantis-aliens, she pays strict attention, as if no longer thinking about Space-Bastards at all.
On the way to the bowling alley, White-Linen accosts Spaceman Xox. "Crewman, I appreciate your discipline to perform a task you find personally distasteful. As a matter of logic, Captain Cygnus only would have sacrificed himself to achieve a greater goal, namely, safeguarding the freedom of the Drift from Zangid dominion. For the moment, though, I am placing you under orders to confine your readings to the officers of the Endeavor. We can surmise that the saboteur had help; we do not yet know the source. Therefore we must be … economical with the truth until we know more."
White-Linen makes a mental note to ask Ensign Rojas about pulsars and other navigational hazards between the Zangid territory and the Drift. Wellard may be telling the truth, and very likely was not the saboteur's handler, but it pays to be careful.
Administrator Wellard of Colonial Services greets you in his small office aboard Starbase Keppler. After the mission debriefing, he answers the captain’s concerns about the Zangid Star Empire. “No, I hardly think the Zangids have access to the Lucanii Drift. That’s why they tried to shut down the Corridor by blowing you up, because they don’t want us to have access either. Between here and there is a matrix of pulsars, neutron stars, hyperspace distortions…it’s completely impassable. Their ships would be battered to pieces, their crews dead. No, it’s not hardly possible, never, never.”
As for the ships encountered, he’s a little more worried. “Well… of course we knew the Lucanii Drift has had hyperwarp-capable civilizations. Heck, my starbase is built on the proof of that. But the academy types said whatever people built this sphere, they were long gone. It sounds like this life-form you encountered isn’t capable of building something like that, but… then there’s this technology that makes them invisible to long-range sensors… we don’t know what they’re capable of, do we?”
He picks up the data tape containing the death report for Captain Cygnus. “In spite of all that’s happened, until we hear otherwise, it seems like your orders remain the same: explore the Lucanii Drift. Colonial Services stands ready to help Fleet in any way. But… learning more about this… insectoid life form, let’s call it… that seems like a priority if push comes to shove. And if they do mean us harm, then I assume you’ll remember that your orders are also to protect the colonies.”
Dr. Zangor has no problem finding the Melisol bar. It seems like every intersection has a sign directing the traveler to the Melisol bar.
Built inside the shell of an old engine room, it feels like the real center of life on the starbase. The proprietor, an Entirran named Waka’biizi, is quick to prescribe Zangor whatever cocktail he wants. When he begins speaking of the encounter with the Bug Men, he becomes the center of attention, and many patrons pay for further prescriptions in exchange for his tale.
Though none have heard of the Bug Man, many are quick to speculate on Bug Man hopes, fears and dreams.
“Whoever they are, there’s no need for a feud. They’re welcome at the Melisol! We welcome all people! I love everybody!” Waka’biizi shouts in a way that, like her smile, is both merry and creepy.
“They’re just aggressive in protecting their business interests in this area… but I’m sure we can make a deal,” says Mr. Neek, a human trader, slightly soiled. He consults his Market Analyzer. “Don’t grasshoppers eat plants? A shipment of Struvian Alfalfa could be provided to them for a bargain, plus a finder’s fee…”
“But what if they hate us for our values?! What if they fear love, or art?!” cry out Shavira and Ravira, the Pleiadian croupiers/singers/chandelier technicans/fortune tellers/exotica dancers, between sets.
Chemisa finds the bowling alley in corridor 12C. There’s four lanes, and one is taken by the crew of an independent trader back from Gateway Colony. It doesn’t take her long to figure out the young sport in the flight jacket and the sandgator boots is the pilot. He winks at her. Apparently a good Rigellian introduction is in order.
There’s actually a minigame around starbase bar/bowling brawls (and 30xp for all participants before the first punch is thrown), so we’ll play out the fight next time we’re at the table.
Captain White-Linen calls Spaceman Xox to the brig. He knows why he's here: she wants him to use his Tauran ESP technique on the captured Zangid spy, "Paxton." He's hesitant. What will they say of him on Taurus? But he only mutters, "It seems invasive."
White-Linen points at their grinning captive: "Spaceman Xox, he's a Zangid spy and saboteur who nearly killed everyone on this ship, the population of Bifrost colony, and would have condemned the Drift to military conquest. He had help. I'm no expert in Tauran ethics, but the Kantian Categorical Imperative, the Rawlsian Veil of Ignorance, and the Golden Rule all indicate that we have an moral obligation to protect others from similar threats, provided we do so in a manner that is not gratuitously painful. Violating this fellow's privacy is distasteful, but it's the only way to be certain he's not lying.
"If that doesn't convince you: consider it an order, and I take full command responsibility. Should you wish to file a report to Star Force, we're in a good spot for it, and I will not retaliate for a man simply following the dictates of his conscience."
Spaceman Xox complains — "This will be going into the logs!" — but ultimately enters the Zangid's mind with an expression of distaste.
Xox needs a 3 or less on a d20 to win a psychic battle with the Zangid. James, for sternum, rolls a 2.
The Zangid spy actually knows very little – their intelligence service understands the importance of siloing information — but he does know a little. With a great deal of face-fondling and brow-furrowing, Xox wrenches these images from the spy's mind…
…a massive ship, under construction in orbit around a moon of the Zangid homeworld of Zonos…
…preliminary tactical plans, involving one or more of the Alpha, Zeta and Lambda sectors of the Drift…
…and a fierce Zangid Commodore, Zak’akh, at whose will both ship and plans move forward.
Ensign White-Linen's time is spent mostly gathering intel about the Drift. But assuming she has time left over and is spry enough, she will join Ensign Rojas for Rigellian bowling.
Chemisa feels she is in need of new people to compete with in good natured sport where brawling is part of the fun. She heads for the bowling alley in hopes of finding someone willing to adopt the game to the Rigelian version. Before she departs though she checks in with Commanding Officer White-Linen. Theresa can use some diversion after having the weight of command hoisted onto her. Chemisa invites the Commanding Officer to join her at the bowling alley after she has gotten it ready for some Real bowling.
After she is done bowling, probably a swim.
In between there somewhere she will try to attend at least one official briefing and make sure she speaks her mind to whomever will listen. She also needs to make sure she picks a fight with any pilots that are already stationed on Keppler as a way to formally introduce herself properly. If there is one thing she has it's proper manners.
ZANGOR will use CHARM to mingle with residents of Keppler. Have residents seen or heard rumors of BUG MAN from strange ships? ZANGOR will mingle at PHARMACY BAR. ZANGOR is DOCTOR.
ZANGOR will seek to learn more about BUG MAN. What does BUG MAN like for snacks? What are BUG MAN HOPES and FEARS. What does BUG MAN see when he closes eyes to DREAM?
ZANGOR is PEOPLE PERSON. Also SCIENCE PERSON.
ZANGOR will also go to GYM.
Starbase Keppler went operational faster than any starbase to date. Fleet had stated that it was an unusual design. You can see now that it is more like an experiment in recycling.
The starbase is built about a huge, broken-spherical alien hull. It looks like a hollow ball that’s had a section of its exterior torn out, revealing a mostly empty interior, broken here and there by massive metallic sections jutting in from the shell, or debris within. Presumably this was something found floating here – you’ve never seen anything like it among the Confederation, Zangids or Videni. It looks very advanced – it’s difficult to imagine the techniques that went into the construction of it. Confederation engineers have modified it by connecting an incomplete docking and habitat ring. This looks like it was mostly cannibalized from damaged ships and older starbase sections.
After Katzenjammer releases the derelict freighter MX-319 to the station tractor beam, the dock chief hails the ship: “Starship Endeavor, you are cleared for docking at bay 3.”
Starbase Keppler looks pretty rough on the inside, even for a frontier base. It has a "swimming pool," (a large cargo bay filled with water, cleaned through old-fashioned chloronation), a "park" (a room full of plants), and a "gym" (a room with a few pieces of heavy junk scavenged from the ship — for lifting!). There's also a bowling alley, according to the uploaded blueprints.
The main attraction of the starbase, according to an ad at the front of the blueprints, is "MeliSol," hosted by an Entirran named Waka'biizi. It looks like a pharmacy? Or a bar? Or both?
Post any activities you want your PC officers or enlisted to engage in here. James, we can play out Xox's interrogation of the Zangid spy here or through email.
The second entry is session 1. Edited to clarify.
Also added cast of players.
Is all this actually pre-game background or did you shift into first game summary and forget to note where?
Who's playing who?
Game Session 1
James as Ens. Theresa White-Linen, Commanding Officer
Peter as Ens. Dr. Zangor, Counselor
Fano as Ens. Chemisa Rojas, Chief Navigator
sternum as Ens. Jhonny Katzenjammer, Chief Engineer
Mission Date 127 (cont’d)
The crew of the Endeavor is contacted by Lieutenant Darrem, Chief Security Officer on Starbase Keppler. She requests that the Endeavor redirect to nearby coordinates, where the incoming mining freighter MX-319 refuses to answer hails. The Endeavor is to investigate and commandeer, tow or divert the freighter.
As the Endeavor approaches the freighter, two pursuing ships suddenly appear behind it on the long range viewer.
The ships have their shields raised, are much larger than the Endeavor, and of a configuration never seen before. Commander White-Linen chooses to hail the ships, and Sentient Life Officer Dr. Zangor offers peaceful greetings. Soon they have a visual of one of the crew of the opposing ships: a grasshopper-headed humanoid.
“Non-beings! Leave this area of space at once. This is your final warning.” The channel cuts, and the two large ships turn and leave.
Engineer Katzenjammer uses a graviton particle beam to change the freighter’s course. The Endeavor then matches its course and speed, and teleports an away team of White-Linen, Katzenjammer, Rojas and Zangor to the freighter’s cargo bay. The team equips themselves with communicators, auto-analyzers, radiation suits, jetpacks and weapons, but since they are all lowly ensigns, no one gets all of them. Confederation rules regarding equipment requisition are very tight for new officers.
Zangor finds no humanoid life signs on board MX-319, but does find some non-humanoid life signs on the bridge and in engineering. Katzenjammer takes Rojas to engineering to shut down the ship’s engines, while White-Linen and Zangor investigate the bridge. As the first pair moves aft, they discover among the pods of compressed rare earths an open pod with some singed (and, to the Felician, delicious-smelling) fur.
Peeking through the hatch to the bridge, White-Linen spots three bodies, the ship’s pilot and two miners, dead on the floor. She also sees something skittering away. Eager to get to the controls, she asks Dr. Zangor to cover her.
WHITE-LINEN: Do you have any ranged weapons?
DR. ZANGOR: Yeah. My hands and a jet pack.
White Linen enters the bridge, but, threatened by the human, rats sparking with electricity attack her.
image by Benjamin K. Anderson
In the ensuing fight, Zangor puts one into a choke-hold, while White-Linen vaporizes another, but the electrical fields given off by the rats overcome the officers…
Meanwhile in Engineering, Katzenjammer rolls swiftly over two more bodies to the controls, while Rojas covers him. Rojas spots a sparking rat, but this one only wants to be Katzenjammer’s friend, sidling up to him. Katzenjammer gets increasingly agitated, demanding that Rojas kill the rat; but Rojas, remembering her Confederation oath, will not harm a creature that is not harming them. The furious Katzenjammer shuts down the engines, plugs into the ship’s computer to download the records and logs, all the while upbraiding the stoic Rojas. The two then leave to investigate why the captain isn’t responding on the communicator.
They find Zangor and White-Linen stumbling around on the bridge, Zangor with an unconscious rat in his arms, and White-Linen chewing on a swollen tongue. The rats have vanished. When the captain and the doctor come to, White-Linen orders the crew to take a rat for study in the biology lab, and a body for autopsy. Katzenjammer logs an official objection to bringing the rat aboard, but he is overruled.
Back aboard the Endeavor, the crew discusses how to rid MX-319 of the rats. White-Linen and Katzenjammer concoct a plan to irradiate the freighter by lowering the shielding on the ship’s nuclear drive. Katzenjammer returns to the freighter, this time with Security Spaceman Diggles, a mild-mannered human who will probably kill whatever Katzenjammer tells him to out of politeness. Fortunately they encounter no rats on the mission. Katzenjammer tethers the freighter’s controls to the Endeavor's, and they return to remotely begin the two-day irradiation process.
Upset by the day’s events, Katzenjammer has a therapy session with Dr. Zangor, which is more effective than any that happened on Star Trek: TNG.
Mission Date 128
As Chief Science Officer, Dr. Zangor ordered research on the electrical rat, and an autopsy of the miner. He assigns Spaceman Xox, a laconic Tauran (the most logical species in the Confederation) to the rat. The autopsy returns what Zangor suspected: in spite of the burn marks on the body, he did not die of electrocution. Instead, he died from a high concentration of nitrogen gas in his tissues. The environmental records showed no changes to the atmosphere, but they did show several industrial nitrogen cartridges missing.
Katzenjammer’s downloaded crew logs show that the freighter MX-319 had a six-person crew, five miners and a pilot. They were bound for Scoop City, a mining colony on Lucanii Nu 2-2 in the local sector. They then went dark as they were bound for Lucanii Theta 4. After approximately two months, they re-emerge from silent running at Scoop City, chattering about hitting it big and getting rich, though their cargo doesn’t seem remarkable. After departure from LN 2-2, one miner begins leaving cryptic logs: “It’s wrong. They should be free. I’ll free them. If they try to stop me, I’ll stop them.”
edited to add
Katzenjammer and Rojas also studied the compilation of visual and sensor readings of the encountered alien ships. They determined that the ships' large size was due to the fact that the technology was generally more primitive and less efficient than current FTL technology, although the long-distance cloak is currently beyond that of the Confederation.
Mission Date 129
The irradiation and venting now complete, Katzenjammer, Rojas and Zangor return to the freighter with Spaceman Diggles. They search the crew quarters, and discover some rubbings of unknown rune carvings on ancient parchment, and a squat figure of a chubby humanoid with an armadillo-shaped head.
Zangor takes these items for the lab, and the crew returns to the Endeavor. White-Linen orders a tow of the MX-319 to Starbase Keppler.
Mission Date 130
Who are the hostile grasshopper people? What happened to the MX-319 during its two months of silent running? What was so special at Lucanii Theta 4? What’s with all the rats, and what will Xox’s research reveal about them? How did the crew die from apparent decompression sickness? What is the origin and significance of the rubbings and the statue? What will the crew find when they disembark to Starbase Keppler? Next time, on Starships&Spacemen: The Lucanii Drift!
Pre-game write up compiled from material by skidoo, james, sternum, fano and peter
Pre-Session Game Events
Mission Date 1
The CSF Endeavor, the first of a new generation of Cavalier class destroyers, launches from Starbase Anterra, commanded by Captain D'kembe Cygnus, a thrice-decorated Human veteran of the Zangid-Videni War, who plans to retire after this one last mission and sail the galaxy in the space-yacht he just bought. Important officers include:
The CSF Endeavor is assigned to a one-year mission to explore the Lucanii Drift, a collection of stars above the main galactic disc where the Confederation is located. Initial surveys have located warp crystal deposits of unusual purity, which is why the Confederation is eager to survey the region. The Drift has recently become accessible, thanks to a series of waystations built across the rift to facilitate travel. This access path is called the Corridor: a three-month journey at warp 4, buffeted by hyperspace distortions, weaving between dangerous pulsars. Nevertheless, the Corridor is currently the only (known) safe passage to the Drift.
In spite of the promise of resources and territory, the current conflicts with the Zangid Star Imperium and the Videni Cohort preclude the Confederation from sending a fleet. The SFS decided to rush a new design of Cavalier class destroyer into production, and dispatch that ship to the Drift with a crew of the fleet’s finest (or most well-connected, or most expendable) young officers and recruits. The urgency of mission launch has increased recently, because Fleet Intelligence has learned that the Zangid are seeking their own path to the Drift.
With order to explore the Lucanii Drift, the Endeavor sets out into the Corridor at Warp 4.
Mission Date 25
The Endeavor arrives at Marco Alpha 7, the first of three waystations on the trip through the Corridor. She has suffered hyperwarp instabilities during the journey, but these are blamed on design flaws shaking out on her maiden voyage.
Mission Date 50
An enlisted spaceman, Paxton, shows signs of psychological instability. Captain Cygnus orders him to visit Dr. Zangor for counseling. Dr. Zangor immediately penetrates the spaceman’s disguise and recognizes him as a surgically altered Zangid spy. He alerts the crew, though the Zangid escapes his alligator grip. Finally cornered by Ensign White-Linen, the Zangid initiates a quantum cascade bomb he has placed in the nacelle (the cause of they hyperwarp instabilities). The explosion will not only obliterate the Endeavor but create subspace ruptures for parsecs around the explosion, effectively sealing off the Corridor to hyperwarp travel. Unwilling to risk the lives of anyone else to save the ship, Captain Cygnus heroically performs EVA in warp space to decouple the bomb—at which point the warp shear effects shreds him into subatomic particles spread across a dozen light years. Fortunately, Ensign Katzenjammer is able to prevent a reactor breach thanks to his new-found cyborg ability to connect directly to the ship’s computer. Smashing out of warp, Ensign Rojas's skillful piloting prevents the ship from plowing into Bifrost Colony Station at a significant fraction of light speed.
Mission Date 81
Repairs complete at Bifrost (the midway point of the Corridor). Ensigns Katzenjammer & Rojas oversee a refit of the ship's propulsion and steering systems. Dr. Zangor reports successful psychological rasslin' with the grieving crew, and so Acting Commanding Officer White-Linen deems the Endeavor and its crew fit to resume the mission, inspired by Captain Cygnus's heroic sacrifice. She promotes Fire Control Officer Ensign K’taath, a Felician, to XO. In order to make up for lost time, she orders the ship to warp 6.
Mission Date 96
The Endeavor arrives at Marco Epsilon 3, the last waystation in the Corridor.
Mission Date 127
The Endeavor arrives at Starbase Keppler, the Confederation gateway to the Lucanii Drift. The Crew is eager to disembark for shore leave, before beginning their mission in earnest. But something about that anxious hail from the Starbase makes them think they won't be stretching their legs just yet.
How did it go?
Yes, inquiring minds want to know.
Sorry I've been absent a bit, but life has been, well, life-y. But I hope to start making it to more stuff.
How did it go?
We will be playing Starships&Spacemen starting at around 7pm at The Brooklyn Strategist (333 Court St, Brooklyn), this Friday, February 24th. Redbox regulars are welcome to come try out this Trek-ish game based on Labyrinth Lord/Red Box D&D. Message me here if you're interested.
With the usual caveats about attendance, I'd be interested enough in The Lucanii Drift to not read the copy I just bought.
So far they all sound fine to me.
So, I have some short or open-ended campaigns I'd be interested in running:
If I can get at least four people interested in one of these, we can start in a couple of weeks.
Anyone up for playing something? Lots of people these days looking for distraction.