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Spinward Star, LLP

Crucible, Part Five

  • Flashback: Ten minutes earlier, on the engineering deck, Rolemnarla sneaks around like a gobliny Obi-Wan Kenobi. He remains undetected and appears to cause a massive cascade failure. Alarms shriek, warning of imminent core containment failure. All hands are warned to evacuate.
  • The ‘exfiltration’ team made up of Ella, Buck and Aris ‘borrow’ the system defense boat and launch, hoping to hook up with the ‘rescue’ team on the medical deck; simultaneously, the ‘rescue’ team (Haank, Eddy & Sae … plus the unconscious Ibrahim) opt to get off the station via an escape pod. The two groups reunite soon after.
  • A fast gig is observed leaving the station, protected by six fighters. Three of these fighters angle sharply toward the system defense boat, las-guns flashing. A fierce lightfight ensues, leaving the three fighters destroyed and the SDB lightly damaged.
  • The crew are able to deduce the destination of the gig: a jump system grav-anchored alongside an icy planetesimal. Recognizing their only way out of system, Ella aims toward it as well and a race is on! The three fighters then move to engage the SDB while the gig continues to burn hard toward the jump shuttle.
  • Two of the fighters are destroyed and, when Eddy’s attempts to talk the gig into surrendering fails, it too is shot down.
  • A strike carrier arrives in-system during the fight, commanded by Admiral Gloval, much to everyone’s surprise. The crew then realize that far more time has passed than the two or so days they’ve experienced. They’ve lost more than 188 days…

GM Notes:

  • We used GURPS: Spaceships for the lightfight and it worked fairly well. I made a couple of mistakes along the way, but that’s par for the course. I also introduced a spaceships range band chart that was heavily influenced by the starship range chart thing in the first d20 Star Wars RPG (which, ironically, I hated at the time because I was so accustomed to actually using miniatures for everything.) We then used some modified Chase rules that I sort of hashed out before the case for the race. I’m thinking of  trying to rewrite them and maybe submit them to Pyramid magazine…
  • This completes Season 4, Adventure 1: Crucible.
  • Since we’re livestreaming our games every Saturdays (6:00PM Eastern) at Ronnke’s Twitch channel and then later uploading the stream on the YouTube channel, we’ve decided to dial back on the extensiveness of the recap to just the overall outline..

Spinward Star, LLP

Crucible, Part Four

  • Flashback: Ten minutes earlier, in the medical, the three rescued spacers from the INS Drake wake from low berth, begin screaming, and then start killing everyone present. Alarms sound.
  • The crew are reunited and, with LT Thanisson’s aid, formulate a plan that requires them to split up. Haank will take Eddie and Sae (acting as a prisoner) to rescue Abe, while Ella will lead Aris and Buck to the flight deck to “liberate” the system defense boat.
  • Both groups are forced to go through security checkpoints but encounter no real difficulty thanks to Thanisson’s remote assistance.
  • In surgical area, the rescue team discover that Abe has been implanted with some sort of implant by a sociopathic doctor who is very pleased that this subject survived. Sae has had enough and shoots the man in the head. While escaping, the crew are set upon by security personnel and must defend themselves.
  • At the same time, Ella’s time encounters resistance in the form of the system defense boat’s crew but handily cut them down in a short but fierce firefight.
  • Suddenly, the entire station trembles. Alarms begin sounding: ‘Core breach detected. You now have ten minutes to reach minimum safe distance…”

GM Notes:

  • The simultaneous firefights on two different maps was an experiment that worked out nicely, though in the future, I will need to name some of the bad guys differently so as to better differentiate between them.
  • No one was really surprised that Sae shot the doctor after the state they found Abe in.
  • Since we’re livestreaming our games every Saturdays (6:00PM Eastern) at Ronnke’s Twitch channel and then later uploading the stream on the YouTube channel, we’ve decided to dial back on the extensiveness of the recap to just the overall outline..

Spinward Star, LLP

Crucible, Part Three

  • Flashback: Sae is interrogated by Imperial Intelligence types.
  • Crew is in the fighters, thrusting away from the INS Drake and are intercepted by a systems defense boat that provides them oxygen and coordinates.
  • Coordinates lead them to a space station. On the station, crew meet LT Thanisson who Sae realizes is an Imperial Intelligence agent.
    Crew forced to go through decon but are gassed instead.
  • Wake up in cells. Abe is missing. Sae is escorted to interrogation by Thanisson, discovers that not only is Abe a psi but he’s being experimented on! Sae’s cybernetics are reactivated by Thanisson and he attacks.
  • In cells, a new alien the crew do not know is brought into the cellblocks by more guards who begin to beat it. The crew are enraged (thanks to subtle psionics by the alien) and, when the cells open, attack the guards.
  • As the last of the guards collapse … alarms begin sounding.

GM Notes:

  • Had to cut the session early due to work issues.
  • We were all very amused by Aris’ battle madness.
  • Since we’re livestreaming our games every Saturdays (6:00PM Eastern) at Ronnke’s Twitch channel and then later uploading the stream on the YouTube channel, we’ve decided to dial back on the extensiveness of the recap to just the overall outline..

Spinward Star, LLP

Crucible, Part Two

  • We open with flashback for Buck as he recalls something about his youth that he did not remember previously. Apparently, he has a highborn cousin who arranged for his memories to be altered.
  • Back aboard the INS Drake, the crew attempt to figure out what’s going on. This results in the discovery of a great many corpses, all of whom appear to have killed themselves.
  • When Eddy finally breaches aft engineering, he is horrified to discover an armless, legless human being secured in a bizarre contraption tied to the ship’s systems via cybernetic implants. Telepathically, this individual relates his horrific agony and desire simply to die.
  • Some hours later, just as the crew are beginning to settle in for the Jump, the Drake abruptly returns to realspace with a hideous shudder. To their horror, they realize that they are dangerously close to a black hole! Something explosively self-destructs and the entire aft end of the Drake is torn free, crippling the vessel.
  • The crew desperately race to figure out how to escape and ultimately decide to use the Sparrowhawk fighters still present. One such fighter is nonfunctional and they have discovered three of the Drake’s crew in low-berths, so it is decided to jury-rig fives ‘freezers’ to the fighters (three for the crew, two for Aris and Buck.)
  • We end with the fighters launching…

GM Notes:

  • As GM, I made a few errors here.
  • First, I should have actually read up on the radiation stuff (even though there actually wasn’t any radiation) because it came up.
  • Aris is a Klutz and in my notes, I specifically intended for him to be responsible for the aft end of the Drake getting torn free and he fumbles something, it causes a malfunction, which results in a cascade feedback and then boom. And, of course, when that point came in the game, I completely forgot about this plan and did not remember it until well after.
  • Finally, and this is something Gigermann brought up after the fact, I really should have had all the people in the cockpits of the fighters make their launch rolls secretly (or “into the box” as we say) and then end the session without letting them know what the results were apart from “Fighters … launch!”
  • Since we’re livestreaming our games every Saturdays (6:00PM Eastern) at the Olympus Twitch channel and then later uploading the stream on the YouTube channel, we’ve decided to dial back on the extensiveness of the recap to just the overall outline.

Spinward Star, LLP

Crucible, Part One

Scene 1:

  • Open with Ella Stanbridge being interrogated by unknown agents, then flash back to the moment of escape.
  • Crew are racing toward malfunctioning gate, having rescued Sae who is grievously injured thanks to his escape pod getting damaged.
  • Pass through malfunctioning gate, which hyper-accelerates the Aimless Pilgrim far faster than it is designed to handle which hurls many of the crew into bulkheads and the like, resulting in many broken limbs. Chief Engineer Enzo Arabejo is grievously injured when his skull is smashed into something.
  • The Pilgrim is boarded by freaked out and trigger-happy marines. Several of the PCs realize that the unit patches worn by these armored marines indicate this is Gazulin, some 53 parsecs away from Corfu!
  • As the crew is taken aboard a strike carrier, Aris and Haank are able to see where the Pilgrim emerged from: one of Gazulin’s moons. And it has melted.

Scene 2:

  • For the next thirty days or so, the crew are kept isolated from one another and repeatedly interrogated about how they managed to Jump so close to the sub-sector capital.
  • Eventually, as their stories seem to add up, they are relocated to a lower security prison but the interrogations continue, albeit sometimes in groups and now with more scientists than intelligence spooks.
  • Everyone notes that Ibrahim seems more detached and quiet than normal but he passes it off first as a bad reaction to the drugs he received during interrogation and then due to his ‘break-up’ with Lorain.
  • Admiral Gloval manages to obtain the crew’s release but is forced to do some missions for Gazulin Intelligence. He also reveals that Enzo lived, but the engineer suffered severe brain damage due to the accident and is currently in a hospice for treatment.
  • The crew departs Gazulin at the earliest opportunity, their initial destination: Peridot.

Scene 3:

  • The Pilgrim heads to Peridot but does not land; they refuel then jump to a seemingly empty system though Gloval knows better. He informs the crew that he has been instructed to scout out some abnormal activity detected here.
  • Eventually, a very faint transmission is detected in-system which leads them to a seemingly derelict INS Drake. The large corvette-sized vessel is mostly powered down and Ella takes her crew aboard with Armin flying the launch.
  • The crew boards but finds everything pretty much powered down; Haank attempts to reactivate the auxiliary power unit but it fails quickly, indicating that the batteries have been expended. Ella decides to split the team – she, Abe and Aris will remain on the bridge to monitor while everyone else accompanies Buck to the engineering section to power systems back up.
  • Reaching the forward engineering compartment requires manually opening several hatches, but eventually they reach their destination and Buck begins bringing systems online.
  • Abruptly, the Drake lurches forward and its weapons systems inexplicably fire, damaging the Aimless Pilgrim! Buck automatically reaches for the manual shutoff … but his hand freezes in mid-air!
  • And then, the Drake makes a surprise Jump…

GM Notes:

  • I (Rigil) have officially taken over GM duties for this campaign. I’ve been jonesing to run some sci-fi for a while now and my original intent – “run a one-off adventure” – quickly morphed into a potentially massive story arc that could take an entire year or more to finish. As this would mean nobody else has to run for a while, there haven’t been any complaints.
  • Due to school and other real life obligations, Loki had to bow out of rejoining us so Armin has been relegated NPC status. The same obviously holds true for Abe, my PC.
  • Since we’re livestreaming our games every Saturdays (6:00PM Eastern) at Ronnke’s Twitch channel and then later uploading the stream on the YouTube channel, we’ve decided to dial back on the extensiveness of the recap to just the overall outline..

Spinward Star, LLP

Live Stream

Running the Gauntlet

With the away team secure in the launch bay where they begin undergoing decon, Admiral (retired) Gloval orders the Aimless Pilgrim to combat stations while they begin burning toward the gate that will carry them back to Corfu. The three other starships in this pocket dimension – the Imperial patrol cruiser, Lightning; the Vargr corsair; and the Kalamanaru freighter – are already en route.

Almost immediately, the four ships engage one another; thanks to the slow zone’s effects, all missiles launched are easily torn apart by point-defense systems, but lasers engage easily enough. The lead Kalamanaru ship is hit multiple times – the Pilgrim’s gunners concentrate on it as word has gone out that they cannot allow the pirates to escape – and quickly begins to trail debris; seeing that they will be unable to avoid firing after all, the Kalmanaru ship brings its own guns online. At the same time, the Imperial patrol cruiser and the Vargr corsair exchange fire, ripping into one another and causing massive damage.

Without warning, a ‘high gee alert’ sounds throughout the Aimless Pilgrim and their velocity rapidly increases – whatever was preventing them from accelerating above a top speed has changed, which everyone presumes is due to the protomoss back on that space station. This changes little, however, and the four ships continue their mad race toward the Corfu gate, still exchanging fire. The Kalamanaru freighter absorbs even greater damage – the Pilgrim gunner and begins tumbling out of control; they aren’t going anywhere.

A salvo of missiles launched at the Pilgrim by the Vargr corsair abruptly bank hard for no apparent reason, making them easy pickings for the point defense. As the Imperial patrol cruiser orients onto an approach vector with the Corfu gate, the Vargr corsair darts in front of it, clearly intending on escaping first. Seconds later, one of the corsair’s drives flames out and the vessel misses the gate’s event horizon, instead impacting with the great ring itself. The gate immediately begins flickering wildly, though that does not stop the patrol cruiser from continuing its hard burn through the portal.

From the bridge, Gloval comms Ella – they’re receiving an SOS from an escape pod launched from the Vargr ship and it appears to be using Sae’s codes! Shaking her head in irritation, Ella asks that her errant crewman be retrieved. This deviation slows the Pilgrim down briefly, which allows the Lightning to roar through the fluctuating Corfu gate … and an instant later, the gate goes dark.

Panic is about to set in as sensors have detected massive energy fluctuations at the station when Lorain suddenly has a brainstorm. She gets on the comm and instructs her uncle to use the activation device they left with Gloval and set it to a specific coordinates. It works as a distant gate suddenly activates. With no other options, Gloval orders them to make a hard burn to this escape route.

With a brilliant flash, the Pilgrim transits through the gate and then …

Player Notes:

  • CommJunkee’s Traveller run has officially ended with this session. Although it was much shorter than normal, he left use on a nice cliffhanger that will be addressed when I (Rigil Kent) pick up this campaign. As the bulk of this session was a space battle or dealing with technical issues, the recap is by necessity lighter than normal.
  • Next week, Gigermann’s Dungeon Fantasy game is scheduled to begin. Both Andricus and Loki are sitting that game out, but Feste will be rejoining us.
  • We experimented with running a space battle more as a Chase which was a partial success. Mistakes were made along the way, particularly with regards to range; what we should have done (which didn’t occur to a lot of us until too late) is utilize the Dogfighting Chase rules that were in a Pyramid magazine issue.
  • Ran into some irritating technical issues that are likely due to Fantasy Grounds releasing a major new update to their software and our GURPS ruleset not officially supported by it. There may have been some conflict with a layers extension that CommJunkee was using.
  • As stated above, we’ve started livestreaming our games. We play on Saturdays at 6:00PM Eastern and the live stream can be found at Ronnke’s Twitch channel. He’s also setup a YouTube Channel. Bear with us, please. This is still in it’s infancy. We have discovered that Twitch keeps the recordings only for two weeks, so it’s a good thing that he published to YouTube. With that in mind, I’ve removed the Twitch link for the “LiveStream” bit at the top.

Spinward Star, LLP

Live Stream

Things Get Worse

With a loud crash, the cargo elevator hits the floor of level five and the crew are hurled around by the impact. When they get up, the first they note is that Captain Stanbridge appears to be unconscious – Ibrahim checks her out and is relieved to discover that she is not badly injured. Unfortunately, the medical systems in her combat armor has been damaged and, as a result, she’s received an extra large dose of painkiller that has knocked her unconscious. Shy of exposing her to the unknown contaminants in the station which he strongly opposes, Ibrahim has no way of countering the drugs to wake her up, so the crew hastily rig a stretcher and carry her.

Rather than remaining in the elevator, they exit it and make their way back toward the non-cargo elevator shaft that will take them down to the sixth level which ostensibly houses a secret database. En route, they encounter a handful of protomoss zombies, but easily drop the ambulatory reanimated corpses who are absolutely not space zombies. Buck seals off the habitation section once the crew passes through, ensuring that the not-space-zombies cannot swarm over them but also ensuring that the way back is going to be slightly more difficult. That’s a problem for later, though.

Proceeding down to level six will require some careful manipulation – Ella is unconscious, after all – so while Buck and Haank first pry open the hatch and then rig up something to lower her down, Ibrahim and Lorain poke around into some of the rooms surrounding this lift shaft but do not find anything particularly interesting. Since he’s wearing space armor, Buck is the first to descend so as to ensure that they wouldn’t be swarmed by more glowing blue not-space-zombies. Once satisfied that a horde of ambulatory reanimated corpses are not waiting for them, the crew descend to level six.

A strange bio-organic computer-like device dominates the chamber that the crew enter upon exiting the elevator lift shaft on level six. Immediately, Ibrahim’s constant headache significantly intensifies; Buck looks over his suit, but does not find anything wrong. Looking around, everyone notes the unusual architecture of the room – it appears as if the strange bio-organic device was discovered here and the room around was formed around it. While looking around, Aris discovers another of the strange dial-out devices.

Jim the Drone is sent to further map out this level while Buck continues to poke around the chamber; he eventually theorizes that nanites were likely utilized to properly sculpt this room. He then breaks out a gizmo of his to do a quick scan of the protomoss sample that Ibrahim has in his possession, confirming that it is mostly comprised of nanomachines and is basically a ‘soft solid’ that is one step short of grey goo.

While this is going on, Ibrahim who is lurking near the elevator hears and observes the sounds and signs of a gunfight several levels above them; the elevator itself appears to have been completely destroyed so they’ll need to find a different way out. He advises the rest of the crew of this as well as the fact that someone is still fighting. No one is quite sure who to root for and decide that the Imperials are the least of three evils.

Aris begins examining the bio-organic device and confirms that it is some sort of computer, but he decides that he cannot begin to figure out how it actually works; from what little he can guess, it acts as a connective bridge to the stellar gates. Haank jokingly (mostly) declares that they’re in a really big router. They’re able to locate what appears to be a database of some sort and Buck tracks down the solid-state drives and simply removes them rather than trying to download them on the theory that they can figure the rest of the stuff out on the Aimless Pilgrim where it’s safe. They’re also able to determine that, despite the reactor having been mostly turned off, this level still had power to it.

Jim finds a sealed access hatch and alerts everyone of this. While Haank is talking to Gloval and exchanging a situation report, Lorain suddenly exclaims in surprise: she’s found a simulation that the Sky Raiders were running regarding the protomoss. If this stuff gets off the station, the entire Imperium could be threatened! It targets carbon-based lifeforms and then spreads insanely fast. If she understands what she’s reading correctly, the entire station was built from this stuff. The entire crew agrees: they can’t let this stuff get out.

When Armin opens the door that Jim found sealed, multiple yellow klaxon alerts begin sounding in ancient Vilani, warning of a ‘containment breach.’ Beyond the door, she sees an airlock looking into a tube that almost looks like a vacuum bridge used during spacecraft docking. Aris, Ibrahim and Lorain join her to investigate while Buck and Eddy stay behind to cover the elevator shaft in case of an attack. Haank has started trying to isolate the transmitter source.

Proceeding on through the airlock and traversing through the tunnel that is exposed to vacuum, Aris, Armin, Ibrahim and Lorain reach another hatch. Cracking the seal, they look into a chamber that is heavily overgrown with protomoss … and then the bluish lumps start moving. Abe immediately hits the CLOSE door and an ambulatory corpse stumbles into the hatch, momentarily halting it from closing. Jim the Drone immediately engages with his close-assault weapon and then Armin steps forward to deliver a powerful kick that sends the not-a-space-zombie flying back. This allows the door to close up but something explodes inside the room. Immediately thereafter, the alert klaxons turn red and a recorded voice declares, “Warning: critical contained breach detected. Evacuate the station.” Inside the room, the protomoss begins melting together … and then begins breaking down all of the materials around them. As the four (plus the drone flee), Ibrahim hears a psionic scream that fades into nothing…

At almost the same time, strobe flashbangs drop down from the elevator shaft, momentarily dazzling the defenders, and an instant later, a trio of Imperial space marines drop down into the room, bellowing for the crew to throw down their weapons and surrender now! They are to throw down their weapons and surrender or they will be fired upon. And almost at that very moment, the critical failure alerts begin sounding.

Eddy immediately lowers his rifle and raises his hands to surrender; Buck follows suit as does Haank as the heavily armored jarheads respond. A marine officer joins his team, demanding to know the reason for the alarm, which is about the same moment that Aris, Armin, Ibrahim, and Lorain stumble out of the airlock. Haank begins hurriedly explaining and the marine officer listens, then happens to notice a vidscreen with a camera feed of the room with the blue goop. The marine declares open a wide channel that all marines are to begin retreating at once; since his team have contragrav belts, they can get the crew out of danger.

The crew informs the officer that this stuff cannot get off this station; they need to destroy this station. Buck declares that he can rig the reactor to meltdown but he’ll need to go down a level; Armin volunteers to accompany him as protection and Aris decides to send Jim along as well. To try and earn some goodwill with the marines, Ibrahim volunteers to join the assault team that is engaged with Kalamanaru personnel and Haank declares that he will accompany the medic, while Eddy, Aris, and Lorain get Ella to the shuttle and begin prepping for dust-off.

Reaching the reactor level is no trouble and Buck immediately goes to work, intending on rigging the reactor to blow within an hour. While he’s doing this, Armin briefly wanders away to look around … and she’s almost jumped by a proto-not-a-zombie! Unfortunately for the ambulatory corpse, Armin is intensely strong and very skilled in martial arts, so she quite easily destroys the creature.

With a marine escort, Aris, Eddy and Lorain get Ella to the level where they have docked their shuttle. While there, they immediately get into an argument with the marine sergeant who has orders to escort them to the Imperial ship, not the Aimless Pilgrim. Eddy tries to talk the man down, but the sergeant refuses to bend, so Lorain interjects and offers the dialing device the crew discovered here on the station. This, along with Eddy’s valid points, leads the sergeant to let them go their own way.

Meanwhile, Haank and Ibrahim join the marines engaged in a holding action against Kalamanaru personnel. Abe immediately springs into action to help out a downed marine private, while Haank decides to sneak away in an attempt to flank the hostiles. During his attempts at stealth, he is detected and assaulted by Taren who has been far more successful in trying to stay undetected. The two exchange a flurry of blows, each attempting to get the other into an arm lock … and Haank is successful. In addition to breaking Taren’s arm, Haank then uses this arm lock to wheel his foe around into the line of fire of several Kalamanaru gunmen. As Taren goes limp from the fire, Haank reaches forward to arm the grenades on the man’s armor then shoves him toward the approaching gunmen before diving to cover. There is a satisfying explosion behind him as Haank retreats to the marine line and rejoins Ibrahim to ensure that his medic successfully retreats.

Now with their away team back on the shuttle, Haank takes flight controls and everyone buckles in. As they angle sharply toward the Aimless Pilgrim, the shuttle comes under fire from the Kalamanaru ship and takes damage. Trailing smoke and debris, the shuttle crash-lands in the Pilgrim’s landing bay…

Player Notes:

  • Technically, Armin wasn’t with us throughout the early parts of our space station exploration, but we just handwaved that away. What are you talking about? She was always there!.
  • Ronnke was in a hotel during the session but fortunately their wi-fi was good enough that he didn’t drop as everyone feared.
  • No Mel this session since she was off, lounging on a beach … like most of us would like to do.
  • CommJunkee’s Traveller run is winding down – he’s guessed that next week will be the last session. Gigermann will be taking over afterward with a Dungeon Fantasy game and the current plan is for me (Rigil Kent) to pick up with Traveller again after he’s done (although that likely won’t happen until well after the first of the year.)
  • As stated above, we’ve started livestreaming our games. We play on Saturdays at 6:00PM Eastern and the live stream can be found at Ronnke’s Twitch channel. He’s also setup a YouTube Channel. Bear with us, please. This is still in it’s infancy. We have discovered that Twitch keeps the recordings only for two weeks, so it’s a good thing that he published to YouTube. With that in mind, I’ve removed the Twitch link for the “LiveStream” bit at the top.

Spinward Star, LLP

Live Stream

Husks of Men

The station’s reactor has come back online and, as a result, the strange blue ‘protomoss’ has begun to glow ominously. There does not appear to be an immediate threat, but still, the crew cannot help but to think that this is not going to end well. Attempts to kill the reactor from their current location fails and it appears that some sort of interlock is in place preventing this from happening; according to Aris, this interlock appears to be modern code, which the crew take to mean Kalamanaru’s people.

Aris then hacks into the station surveillance systems, which are now coming back online, and in the process of this, stumble upon a quick image of several ambulatory humanoids covered from head to toe in the glowing protomoss. All attention immediately turns to these … creatures and, though the resolution of the image is not the best, Ibrahim theorizes based simply on what he can see that they are former Sky Raiders whose biological components appear to have been taken over by some sort of bio-mechanical apparatus which prompts Eddy to suggest that might have been infected by the protomoss, especially since they do not seem to require life support. This seems pretty logical to everyone, although Ibrahim points out that he won’t have confirmation until he can open one of them up. Everyone immediately double-checks the integrity of their vacc-suits and Eddy looks askance at Ibrahim’s eagerness to encounter these things. Aris reports that he is unable to seal off the level where these … things are.

Ella attempts to make contact with the Imperium naval personnel boarding, using the Aimless Pilgrim as a go-between, but they instead receive only further warnings and threats from Commander Ferris. While this is transpiring, Aris is able to detect counter-hacking attempts as someone endeavours to take control of the surveillance cameras; rather than engage in a protracted contest, he simply crashes all camera feeds. If he has to blind, then so do they! He extracts as much data from the obsolete systems as he can manage, but this data still does not clear up the exact nature of the biological event or what this protomoss actually is. There is reference to a secret database located on level six, which they do not have floorplans for.

Initially, the crew intend to go directly to level six and, as before, opt to traverse through the elevator shaft itself rather than summoning the lift; as they do so, however, the lift arrives at level four – below them – and since the Imperials are just arriving, this is clearly Kalamanaru’s team. Suspecting that the would-be pirates are attempting to go down to the lower levels as well, Buck steps forward and uses his engineering expertise to sabotage the power supply of the elevator, thus trapping Kalamanaru’s on four. As he finishes, he hears the distinct sound of gunfire, prompting the crew to suspect that the criminals have run afoul of the strange glowing blue bio-mechanical things.

From their current position, the crew head deeper into the facility, intending on heading to the cargo elevator that is on the far side of this level. As they do, a pair of the bio-mechanical humanoids approach the crew from behind; Ibrahim is the first to engage with his storm carbine, but the gunfire draws a great deal of attention, and in seconds, an entire swarm of the things flood toward the crew. With his line of fire clear, Ibrahim advances on his felled target, kneels and begins conducting a full scan of it with his medcomp, covered by Eddy and Lorain while the rest of the crew unload their weapons upon the creatures. Buck is gang-tackled by several of the creatures but they are incapable of bringing him down and with Haank’s assistance, he promptly breaks free; Jim the Drone once more hovers above the crew, raking a steady stream of gauss rounds at the charging hostiles. Once the hostile creatures are down, the crew take stock of themselves: Buck’s space armor is smoking from acidic saliva scars from the creatures while Ibrahim announces his findings, that these things definitely were human once, but are now mere husks of men thanks to this bizarre protomoss.

The crew press on to the cargo elevator, encountering no additional resistance. They creep through what was once the equivalent of a botanical garden but has now been transformed into a hellish landscape thanks to the protomoss, halfway expecting an ambush at any moment. Upon reaching the hatch leading to the cargo elevator, Eddy opts to unlock the smaller personnel door rather than the much larger vehicle entrance. Once through this hatch, they summon the elevator and crowd in; even though they have selected level five, the elevator display reveals they are heading to four instead. Buck mashes the emergency stop, then hacks into the system and overrides all other commands to ignore all other commands. As the elevator resumes its descent, Ella, who is standing next to the door, hears a metallic-sounding tink!

“Grenade!” Ella shouts in warning.

And then, an explosion rips the doors apart and sends the elevator in a sharp dive.

Player Notes:

  • Loki was out this week as well. No Mel next week (presuming Hurricane Irma doesn’t prevent her vacay) so based on the way this episode ended, we expect that Ella will be knocked out or something. I suppose the fact we’re aware of the biohazard present – the ‘protomoss’ – is a legitimate excuse why Ibrahim doesn’t pop open her suit to get her squared away.
  • Lots of weird technical issues this session due to some map/image sharing issues.
  • As stated above, we’ve started livestreaming our games. We play on Saturdays at 6:00PM Eastern and the live stream can be found at Ronnke’s Twitch channel. He’s also setup a YouTube Channel. Bear with us, please. This is still in it’s infancy. We have discovered that Twitch keeps the recordings only for two weeks, so it’s a good thing that he published to YouTube. With that in mind, I’ve removed the Twitch link for the “LiveStream” bit at the top.

Spinward Star, LLP

Live Stream

Through the Looking-glass

With Kalamanaru reinforcements on the way, Byard urges the crew to get clear as quickly as they can manage while he covers for them with the Imperium forces that he’s called in. He can give them twenty minutes tops, which is going to be tight for them as it will take Aris ten to fifteen minutes to get the shuttle here. The crew take this time to gather as much of the loot from the Vault that they can physically carry and, once the shuttle roars in, they scramble into it with Ella taking the controls. She has to do some fancy flying to evade the sensor nets that are freaking out over the shuttle’s (as piloted by Jim the Drone!) unscheduled departure, but eventually, she manages to dock with the Aimless Pilgrim once again so they can discuss their options.

Admiral Gloval is initially ready to get out of Corfu, having made sure to refuel the ship beforehand, but Lorain insists that what they’re looking for is in-system. Based on her understandings of the information they’ve gathered, she eventually identifies the coordinates which point them in the direction of the asteroid belt; unfortunately, there already appear to be multiple ships – an Imperium cruiser, Vargr corsairs, and an unidentified craft that everyone expects to be Kalamanaru-owned – converging on that location which confuses everyone: how did they know to go there? After some discussion, Haank suggests that they burn away from the coordinates and toward one of the inner planets. Once there, they will deploy a false beacon with their transponder code – rigged up in a missile; this is Eddy’s idea – and slingshot around the planet toward the coordinates while running silent.

Ibrahim retreats to the medical lab to study the data that Ella obtained at the lost temple since the trip will take multiple hours; what he discovers is confusing references to a ‘biological event’ that caused the Sky-Raider exodus to Corfu. Unfortunately, very little else can be gleaned from this treasure trove due to the extreme age of the storage units and the data itself being mostly corrupted. He suspects that he as lucky to get as much as he did.

While en route to the inner planet, the sensor operator notes that they’re being pinged by an Imperium sensor net and one of the Vargr corsairs are apparently pursuing the Pilgrim which causes Ella to wonder if they have a spy aboard. She digs into this, enlisting Buck’s and Haank’s assistance to poke into the systems on the ship to see if there are any indications of transmissions from the Pilgrim but find absolutely nothing. They are very confident that no one sent any messages out nor are there any signs of a homing beacon. Still, it’s somewhat troubling.

Many hours later, they reach the inner planet and conduct their slingshot maneuver complete with the deploying of the ‘cry-baby’ distraction device. With the Pilgrim now running silent, they race away toward the asteroid coordinates. Almost immediately, Eddy starts a pool about how long it will take the Vargr corsair to realize that they’re not following the ship. Buck ends up winning this pool – he guessed two hours and he’s almost exactly right on the nose – but the corsair is now multiple hours out of range.

A little more than a day later, the crew begin closing in on the coordinates where they find a mess waiting for them. Not only are there multiple Imperium ships, but the Vargr corsair and the unidentified vessel are both trying to maximize their stealth approach. The crew discuss and decided to replicate their cry-baby beacon (with a missile again) as a possible distraction; once this is implemented, their beacon is dropped and set to activate on a timer … and is very quickly destroyed by what appears to be a mine! Wide-beam comm-buoys begin transmitting warnings that this is restricted Imperium space and violators of this quasi-quarantine will be fired upon.

The Pilgrim matches velocity with an asteroid to use it as cover while the crew opt to send Jim the Drone out to peek over it and get line-of-sight of the target coordinates. What the drone sees is an immense but seemingly powered down gate-like structure that is being patrolled by multiple Imperium patrol craft; Lorain, fiddling with the ‘activation’ device, realizes that when it lights up, so does the stargate. While experimenting with this, she accidentally causes the gate to fully activate!

Almost immediately, the Vargr corsair burns hard toward the gate, passing through it before Lorain is quite aware of what is going on; the unidentified vessel everyone presumes to be Kalamanaru follows suit and Haank, realizing what’s going on, shouts for Lorain to turn it off. The corsair manages to get through before the gate deactivates and the Imperium patrol craft in hot pursuit simply passes through the ring without effect. Realizing that they may have just given Kalamanaru the keys to the Sky-Raiders tech, the crew decide to make a hard burn themselves to it. Everyone straps in and Admiral Gloval instructs his pilot, Lee, to ‘light this candle.’

The Pilgrim accelerates forward, ignoring Imperium communications ordering them to stand down. A volley of missiles head their way and the Pilgrim’s gunners go into point-defense mode to shoot them down. Lorain activates the gate via the device and they flash through the ring, hotly pursued by an Imperium patrol craft. With a suddenness that is exceedingly dangerous, the Pilgrim experiences a high-g deceleration which knocks everyone out briefly.

When they come to, they find themselves in a region of absolute darkness with no sign of stars. Arrayed in a perfect ring around several asteroids are a large number of additional ring-gates, though they all appear to be powered down as well. In the very center of this zone is a station that appears to be integrated into the largest of these asteroids; both the Vargr ship and the Kalamanaru vessel appear to be heading in that direction. The Imperium ship that pursued the Pilgrim appears to have suffered some damage and, at Haank’s suggestion, Admiral Gloval reaches out to what he will learning to be the Lightning as captained by Lieutenant Commander Ferris. The Lightning’s skipper is understandably furious with Gloval and the crew at their violation of Imperium law but after several minutes of … let’s call it ‘penis measuring’ for politeness, the two men agree to mostly leave one another alone for the time being. Gloval kills the comm-link when Ferris begins making yet another threat that includes words like impound and incarceration.

Upon seeing the Kalamanaru ship making a docking run at the station, the crew decide to follow suit, but opt to instead take the shuttle and board on the opposite side of the station. Lorain insists that she needs to be present since she’s the expert and she hands off the activation key to her uncle. After Ibrahim finishes attending to everyone’s superficial bruises and the like – Lorain’s father is the most badly injured, with a broken collarbone, so he cannot join them as he would like – the crew gear up and make sure they are fully armed and ready. Everyone expects to face Kalamanaru resistance somewhere and even Eddy grabs a gun.

Upon docking some hours later, the crew find the station dark and completely powered down. They are forced to manually open any hatches they find and they creep forward slowly, half expecting an ambush at any moment. Painted across several of the doors is an Old Vilani symbol for ‘Danger’ and Ibrahim reminds everyone of the ‘biological event’ that he read about. Since there is no atmo here, though, everyone remains sealed up in their suits. In the course of their examinations, they find a strange-looking foam or mold. Ever curious, Ibrahim cuts a piece free and deposits it in a sample bag that auto-seals up; while he does this, Eddy notices that this fungus seems to very briefly light up when Abe gets too close. After he passes this on, Ibrahim experiments, using a battery to determine that this strange mold-like substance seems to draw energy (and promptly drains the battery completely.)

Based on what they can see, the inhabitants of this station left in a hurry, which isn’t ominous at all. Moments after the crew use the turbolift shaft to proceed down a level into what appears to be a command deck, there is a minor rumble that vibrates through the deck of the station. Instants later, lights begin activating; Kalamanaru’s people have reactivated the reactor.

And then, almost instantly, the strange fungus-mold lights up in a brilliant almost neon blue light…

Player Notes:

  • Loki was out this week.
  • Amusingly, while listening to the recording on YouTube and working on the recap, I realized just how frequently we said some derivation of “What could go wrong?” when talking ourselves into doing something crazy. That should probably be our official company logo or something…
  • Every single one of the players has watched The Expanse on SyFy (and at least two of us have read the books that I’m aware of), so immediately upon entering the station and finding the strange growth in it, we started shouting “protomolecule.” Plus there’s the whole ‘GM is stealing from Book 3: Abaddon’s Gate’ thing for those of us who’ve read the books, so we’re all trying to brace for vomit zombies at any moment…
  • As stated above, we’ve started livestreaming our games. We play on Saturdays at 6:00PM Eastern and the live stream can be found at Ronnke’s Twitch channel. He’s also setup a YouTube Channel. Bear with us, please. This is still in it’s infancy. We have discovered that Twitch keeps the recordings only for two weeks, so it’s a good thing that he published to YouTube. With that in mind, I’ve removed the Twitch link for the “LiveStream” bit at the top.

Spinward Star, LLP

Live Stream

The Lost Temple

Having retrieved their errant crewmembers from the train and stranded the driver of the armored personnel carrier in the middle of nowhere, the crew turn to their next step. Upon returning to the Doctors Without Sectors clinic, they quickly learn that the recent events have caused major chaos … but then, blowing up a couple of buildings will do that. The DWS personnel are being rapidly returned to Imperium-controlled territory, which provides Armin an opportunity to rejoin the rest of the crew as Lorain pores over maps to identify the supposed Temple of the Sky-Raiders. After briefly discussing this, the crew opt to head there in the APC, while leaving behind Jim the Drone in the shuttle.

Upon reaching the coordinates, they discover an immense metal door that has clearly not been opened in centuries. There are ancient Vilani glyphs alongside the door – Ibrahim has Lorain translate these for him and they confirm the Sky-Raider linkage, but not much else. Gaining entrance to the complex requires the crew to use the winch and cable assembly on the APC, but it results in the door being thoroughly ruined. Buck quickly detects a tripwire beam that he identifies as a trigger to activate the facility’s lighting systems. To everyone’s surprise, some of the illumination actually still works, despite this temple having been abandoned for more than five thousand years.

In the distance, Haank is able to see a plume of sand, a clear indication that someone is heading their way. Too late, the crew realize that they failed to actually check Lorain for bugs and, indeed, they are able to quickly locate a subdermal tracker that she was unaware of. Ibrahim quickly and easily extracts it.

Upon locating a great hangar door, Eddy goes to work on figuring out how to hack it open. Unluckily for him, his efforts cause a massive power surge that permanently fuses this door. They’re not going in that way! Based on the temple layout, the crew eventually decide to split up, with half of them taking an alternate route in an attempt to gain access to the interior. Ella will lead Eddy, Ibrahim and Lorain on the wide sweep around, while Haank takes charge of the rest of the group who will hold position to defend against the approaching vehicles.

At Haank’s request, Buck rigs up a shotgun shell to contain it for Haank who then fires the tracker a great distance away. Unfortunately, this does not seem to sway the direction of the hostiles and Haank estimates that they have about forty-five minutes to an hour before things get very interesting.

In the process of their exploration, the team led by Ella discover a blocked off door that is half-buried by fallen debris. They immediately set to work to move the rocks out of the way. During this, on a suggestion by the rest of the crew, Ella makes a call to Dyrin Byard where she requests some back-up. He advises her that he’ll see what he can do. The rest of her team continue work while she’s on the comm, finally removing enough detritus that they can access the next room where they find dozens of star maps scattered around. Strangely, though, there does not seem to be actual navigatigation points showing how they transited from one system to another. There are no Jump routes.

After consulting with Haank, Buck decides to jump into the APC and drive off in an attempt to lead the approaching vehicles away; unfortunately, only a pair of small ATVs break off. Seeing this, Buck begins conducting a wide sweep around. The rest of the defenders find solid, supported fighting positions with good angles of fire. Two trucks continue on approach to the temple and Haank begins making a tactical plan.

Ella’s team continues forward, entering a large storage area with a corridor leading to a hangar bay where they find an immensely old spacecraft. While Ibrahim and Lorain continue poking around, Ella and Eddy advance to investigate whether the ship is still functional.

The two trucks arrive and offload a number of armed personnel. Bren Pylory is in charge of these men and, via a loudspeaker, orders the crew to surrender; when she receives a negative response, she tells them that they brought this on themselves. A moment later, a rocket is used against the front door of the temple, causing much damage but no injuries. From his vantage point in the APC, Buck was able to see the streak of a ground-to-ground missile.

Eddy and Ella are able to identify some functional laser turrets on the ship, but the vessel’s reactor has long since been depleted. Fortunately, Ibrahim and Lorain have located the barely functional generator room and a crazy plan is hatched out: they will plug the ship into the generator and charge it up! This plan is very quickly put into action, with Ibrahim and Lorain dragging power cables to the ship while Eddy and Ella continue doing what they can to get the obsolete craft running. In the process of this, Ella observes a medallion similar to the one they discovered on Focaline, though this one is fully intact; she grabs and pockets it.

Haank, realizing that they need time to put this plan into action and having spent the last six months or so learning about crisis negotiation, stalls. He engages Bren in a shouted conversation that serves only as a delaying action by declaring that there are valuables present, so any further shooting might damage them. This works for a little while but Haank recognizes that ‘a little while’ is the best he’s going to be able to do. Buck, who had already decided to send the APC on a suicide course, quickly rigs it so the vehicle will continue forward and then dives out of the truck into the sand. The APC does not crash into the Kalamanaru thugs like he’d hoped, instead grounding itself against a rock. Once grounded, he gets on the comm and starts talking Ella through how to bring the ship reactor back online.

Their part in charging up the ship mostly done at this point, Ibrahim and Lorain continue to do some exploring and, in the process, discover a secret passageway that leads to a vault filled to the brim with ancient loot. Perhaps just as importantly, though, they also find a corridor that leads out of the entire facility, albeit well out of view. Ibrahim informs Ella of their discovery, then returns to the generator room so as to keep an eye on the power transfer. While there, he’s instructed to throw the switch on the auxiliary power. The generator hums ominously but does not explode as everyone feared.

At the breach point, Bren’s patience is exhausted and she orders her team to engage. As her crew rush the temple, Haank opens fire with his gauss shotgun pistol which is currently loaded with high-explosive round. The first man through the door is literally blown apart, which definitely causes the rest of the team to hesitate. Under the cover of this chaos, Buck grounds his comm gear and begins retreating into the desert, hoping to evade any hostiles. Almost on the heels of this, Bren’s team hurls canisters of prismatic smoke into the breach, which renders laser weapons ineffective, before charging in. Unfortunately for them, Haank is using a gauss weapon and Armin is death on two legs. In seconds, the two have dropped the entire first wave of the assault, though Haank is wounded himself. During this fight, as Buck is maneuvering into the desert, someone lunges up out of the sand and pulls him down; it is Dyrin Byard! He informs Buck that more Kalamanaru reinforcements are on their way while pointing toward an approaching shuttlecraft.

Just as this initial assault is faltering, Eddy and Ella have finished successfully powering up one of the weapon systems on the spacecraft while also activating the contragravity systems. Without waiting for Ibrahim (who is responding to Haank’s call for a medic) or Lorain (who is still following Abe), Ella takes the gunner’s seat and blasts open the hangar door so Eddy can nudge the ship out. The destruction of the hangar door certainly draws all attention and Eddy accelerates out; rather than actually engage the parked vehicles, he simply uses the starship’s considerable mass to smash the trucks into pieces and throw any of the Kalamanaru personnel to the ground.

Suddenly, however, the approaching shuttle banks hard and there is a flash as a man-portable missile is fired at them. Ella, being completely unfamiliar with the weapons systems of the ship, opens fire in an attempt to shoot down the missile. Her shots go wide but Eddy slews the ship around to dodge it. The missile slams into the rockface and explodes. Ella sends another wild salvo of fire toward the shuttle, once again missing wild. A second missile is fired but Ella’s walks her laserfire into the missile, tearing it apart. Eddy grimaces at how quickly the weapons are eating their power and warns the captain; they’ve got maybe three more shots before they’re going down one way or the other. Ella then sends another burst of fire at the shuttle; she misses the craft itself but her laserfire does tear through a nearby archaeological spire. The building behind the shuttle begins to collapse and the pilot clearly does not see this soon enough; rubble and debris sends the shuttle careening down into the archaeological dig. At the same time, Eddy faces screaming alarms about them being on emergency power; he sets the ship down hard, crushing one of the Kalamanaru trucks. A moment later, everything begins to shut down as power completely fails.

Player Notes:

  • Loki rejoined us this week.
  • There was some technical issues on Ronnke’s part this week – with him being down on the bottom of the world in Australia, he was mostly out of power for about half the session so he was basically just listening into us on TeamSpeak via his phone app; once power came back for him, he started steaming on Twitch. It then didn’t occur to me until well into the game that I could use the XBox app in Windows 10 to start recording. Once the game was done, I then had to jump through some hoops to get him a nearly 6 GB MP4 file so he could stitch it together with what he had, so the YouTube recording will, no doubt, be very interesting viewing, especially since I tend to stretch Fantasy Grounds across two monitors during play…
  • Amusingly, the two least competent pilot-slash-gunners were acting as pilot and gunner on the ancient (with a lowercase ‘A’) starship. Ella didn’t even have the appropriate skill. Which made the entire scene that much funnier.
  • As stated above, we’ve started livestreaming our games. We play on Saturdays at 6:00PM Eastern and the live stream can be found at Ronnke’s Twitch channel. He’s also setup a YouTube Channel. Bear with us, please. This is still in it’s infancy. We have discovered that Twitch keeps the recordings only for two weeks, so it’s a good thing that he published to YouTube. With that in mind, I’ve removed the Twitch link for the “LiveStream” bit at the top.