The Currents of Space GM 1

Before the Game starts, I did a little more work on backgrounds and relationships. I like to keep things tidy and it was obvious that three of the characters shared something in common – the incident on LX504. But where did Achernar fit in? He was related to Capella; he knew this but Capella didn’t.

 

  • I created Bellatrix’s and Achernar’s family trees. I designed a system years ago to do this; it uses a deck of cards to create relationships and families. It seems like a lot of work; in reality it is quite quick and simple and throws up a lot of unexpected connections. It’s surprising how useful the information can be.

 

Bellatrix’s uncle is an executive VP of Makita Genetics, overseeing Resources.

 

Achernar is the illegitimate son of Capella’s aunt; born in violation of the Chinese Birth Control Laws, he was smuggled off-planet to LX504. He left the planet in 2208 to become a Drifter; returned briefly in 2216 where he met Capella.

  • I set up a matrix of character ages vs. terms served to determine when significant events happened. Tables don’t post very well on here (at least; I haven’t found how to do it). The blow-out incident on LX504 happened in 2222 (current year is 2225).

Achernar (as a Drifter) returned to LX504 in 2216 which is where he met Capella. He left in 2218 to join the Survey Scouts. He never told Capella that they were related (he knew this through his mother).

  • With the other PC’s (and a slight bit of tweaking!), the blow-out incident on LX504 happened in 2222. I created a matrix of PC age and date and looked to see where they coincided. Again; usually it falls into place easily.

 

Three years have passed and it is 2225.

Alien -Salvatoris

Helene half-staggered, half-crawled through the corridor leading from the atrium of the north dome. Pain lanced through her guts, stabling like knives of fire, causing sweat to break out across her body and her vision to blur. She glanced back to the atrium, at the bodies of the assistant director and Morris, the botanist. She shuddered at the faceless things they had become. She crawled on, not noticing the slight twitching of Melissa George’s fingers.

A fresh stab of pain came as she half-fell though the door into the stores. She rolled onto her back, a clump of jelly-like blobs on the ceiling began to pulsate and coalesce, forming a larger translucent ball of jelly. She rolled and made it into the inner stores just as it fell towards her face. She locked the door and sank down, the pain now spreading like wildfire through her body …

The latest scenario I’ve written for Alien is ready and free to anyone who wants to try it out.

It’s in a Word document; if you are interested in having a look at it then email me directly and I’ll send it to you

Comments and feedback welcome

The Currents of Space – Episode 3.8

‘Is she going to make it? It’s another eight hours.’ Paula frowned and shrugged. ‘I’ve done all I can.’

“If Bellatrix is on that ship,” Gerda thought, “then she is not there as a prisoner.”

‘You animal. You have killed her in a cold-blooded execution.’

Suddenly the windscreen of the ATV shattered as automatic weapons opened fire ….

2226-06.10

Achernar let out an agonised grunt as the shattered windscreen glass hit him full in the face; blinded, he lost control and the Armadillo slewed sideways into a rock outcropping. Paula, LL and de Kloos were thrown across the cabin and took minor injuries. LL grabbed the SA7 and cracked the hatch.

‘Bollocks. These damn survival rifles don’t have an auto setting.’

He rolled out of the hatch and fired at the muzzle flashes; his shot was rewarded by a distant scream. Achernar fired through the hole in the windscreen. Paula joined LL and opened up with her VP90 in burst mode * Rachel also joined in with the VP90 she’d bought in Singapore (“was it only two months ago?”), whether it was a cheap rip-off weapon or she hadn’t loaded it correctly, but the shot misfired and jammed. Gunfire parked from the rocks ahead and LL fell backwards, bleeding from a chest wound. Achernar and Paula returned fire while Rachel struggled to clear the jam. Henrik joined in with the second SA7; the opponents fire stopped.

There came the whine of turbofans and a hovercar rose from behind the rocks and accelerated away. Henrik recognised the logo on the side – ‘Dallas Ranch. That’s Lambert Dallas, Rancher of Corinth.’

‘Fokken bastard.’ De Kloos was furious. ‘That fokken tante has been trying to get me for years, ever since I got the land he bid for.’ **

‘Dallas Ranch called in the aircraft problem,’ said Henrik. ‘Athens have just confirmed it.’

Paula was administering first aid to LL and Achernar, she also checked on Sakimi.

‘Her condition is worsening – we need to get her to a hospital stat.’

Repairs to the Armadillo took 3 hours; a storm blew in and they had to work for the last hour in torrential rain. Rachel drove; the others rested as best they could.

‘Shit shit shit!.’ Rachel cursed and reversed the ATV. Achernar joined her in the cab and wrote –

WHAT’S UP

‘I’ve lost the way and gone up a box canyon. Need to backtrack.’

They reached King Ranch 3 hours overdue. Sakimi was rushed to the medical centre but it was too late; she was pronounced DOA.

Rachel took it badly – she went to her assigned quarters; slammed the door and locked it.

2226-06.11

De Kloos and Rickard King met with Achernar, LL and Paula in the central saloon of the ranch. De Kloos spoke –

‘I am grateful for my rescue and the information that the tante Dallas was probably behind the attempt to kill me. I will deal with that. The death of Sakimi is bad, but I can clear that with Yoshiko; space is dangerous and any or all who come out here should know the risks.’

He paused and looked around.

‘Now, to recompense. I have authorised a payment of five thousand dollars to each of you, plus I have pulled a few strings and the repairs to your ship have been bumped forward; they will be completed in three weeks. My ranch will also pick up half the bill for the repairs. You may also stay here, at King Ranch, for the three weeks. I trust that this is satisfactory?’

2226 – 06.15

Paula went to speak to Rachel, reasoning that she might respond better to another woman.

‘I’ll be ready to fly the “Oberon” when the time comes. Now fuck off and leave me alone.’

‘You are still hyped.’ Paula forced herself to stay calm. ‘Lay off the Beta or I’ll pronounce you unfit to fly. Achernar can pilot the ship.’

‘You bitch! The “Oberon” is my ship and no-one flies her except me.’

2226 – 06.26

‘Happy birthday!’ LL walked into the mess hall to be greeted with a loud shout from Paula, Henrik and several of the ranch hands. Achernar wrote HAPPY BIRTHDAY on his Memex and held it up.

‘We’ve got a present for you – de Kloos has organised a bear-cat hunt; there’s a pack of them preying on one of the herds. You’ll go out in two Armadillos and you’ll have SA7’s.’

‘It’s you, King, Achernar and de Kloos, along with some ranch hands,’ said Paula. ‘I’m not coming; I’m going to talk with Rachel again’

The talk with Rachel didn’t go any better than the previous one; on a hunch, Paula issued instructions to Henrik and was not too surprised to find that Rachel has asked him to fly her to Athens spaceport.

2226 – 06.28

The hunting party returned, bearing two pelts as trophies, plus Gerda’s PMC flew in. The climbing and training had gone well, but they didn’t manage the ascent of Mount Brevin, they were beaten back by bad weather. Gerda went to speak to Rachel; later she spoke to Achernar, Paula and LL.

‘She will fly the ship and we will still get paid. We are going to attack the Makita Hub on Crown.’

Paula and the others exchanged startled looks. ‘That hasn’t been decided yet,’ said LL, ‘although it may become a possibility. We could do worse than start planning.’

2226 – 07.05

The “Oberon” is now fully repaired and refuelled so they took their leave of de Kloos and King Ranch. Landing at Athens spaceport; the news was full of the death of Lambert Dallas, Rancher of Corinth, in a freak accident involving the Athens mass driver. Apparently, the aircraft Dallas was in strayed into the path of a load launched from the mass driver; the aircraft disintegrated instantly.

2226 – 07.08 – 07.12

Burning out at 3G to the HSP; Rachel came out of her shell and threw herself into her piloting duties. However, the burn still took four days; the maximum possible time for the class of star that was Alpha Mensae. The course was plotted in for Crown (NEZ Wolf 359) and they prepared for hypersleep. Rachel checked her assigned pod; then took one of the unassigned ones instead.

‘See you in two weeks. First one awake gets the coffee on.’

To be continued ….

=========================================

GM notes

* The VP90 is a very nice machine pistol with ROF 1/4.

** Translate at your own risk!

*** Wow! What happened to the travel times? – the update to the Hostile rules modified the system transit times to the HSP (Hyperspace Point) based on the luminosity and size of the system primary, NOT the distance from the mainworld. This increased the transit times.

This has thrown the previous dates out of sync, but again (in the keeping of all the best TV shows), I’m not going to go back and change them.

What I have started to do is to work out all the dates when I write up the episode, to ensure consistency (something I wasn’t doing before – and it occasionally showed!)

REM – My Earth Standard Calendar has 12 months of 4 weeks of 7 days of 24 hours.

Dates

06.15     Talk to Rachel

06.26     Bear-cat hunt

               Talk to Rachel

06.26     LL’s birthday – age 33****

06.28     PMC rejoins

07.04     Oberon fixed

07.05     Return to Athens – News (Lambert Dallas killed in an air crash, plane disappeared off radar in clear air.)

07.08 – 07.12 to HSP

07.12 – 07.26 to Crown system

**** I keep track of character birthdays on a spreadsheet (based on their age from chargen and the real date that I created them.

An interesting side-trek that developed over the need to fill seven weeks of down-time

The Currents of Space – Episode 3.7

‘So, seven weeks to kill on an Earth-like planet. Let’s go sightseeing.’

In 2209 , activists broke into the Haruna laboratory facilities in Munich and “liberated”  human clones that were being used as a source of organs for the rich and famous.

‘Bella’s alive!’ Rachel’s eyes were bright and she stared at LL. ‘She must be. She must have been on the Makita ship.’

+++191221226-03+++

Sparta Main to ATV  S323. A private flight PDK-822 has gone down in the Craterwall 700k north-east of your position. You are nearest ground team – please assist – urgent – casualties reported

‘We need to get there as quickly as possible – the report said there were casualties.’ Paula looked at a map in the ATV, LL was driving, the others were all buckled up in the rear cabin. LL was pushing the speed as fast as he dared over the grasslands.‘ It’s around 700 klicks, even at our best speed, it’s going to take around fifteen hours to get there.’ *

‘Okay, we need to push it then. We take turns driving, LL, Ach and me, one of us sleeps and the other assists in navigation and watches for cattle, and we drive through the night as well.’ Rachel drummed her fingers. ‘It’s risky, but we need to get there.’

‘Why can’t Sparta send out a SAR flight?’

‘Something to do with a reported problem on one of the aircraft and they are all grounded for safety checks – maybe that’s what caused the crash?’

2226-06.09

The relay driving worked well, although it was tiring on the drivers, and they reached the towering Craterwall in only ten hours. ** For the last few hours, they had been driving through snow and the air was noticeably thinner.

‘The uplands are a thinner atmosphere and some of the mountain peaks are virtually in vacuum.’

Ahead towered a cliff face, about two hundred metres up they could see the Sparta aircraft, lying canted on a ledge. From the marks, it looked like it had landed higher up and the cliff had given way under it. Paula got on the radio.

‘Sparta Flight PDK822, this is ATV S323, we are at the base of the cliff. What’s your situation?’

+++ ‘S323, we are in a dangerous position – on the edge of a cliff. We have two casualties; the Rancher is wounded and the lady visitor is unconscious. My name is Henrik, I’m the pilot.+++

They discussed plans and options, the obvious one was to secure the helijet, then Paula could treat the casualties. There was climbing gear on the ATV and an electric winch; but the cable was only 140 metres long.

‘I’ve got climbing experience, learnt it in the Corps,’ said LL. ‘So have I,’ replied Paula, ‘it’s my hobby. Two hundred metres in heavy gravity though.’

‘We need to rig the ATV winch cable in a snatch block, then get the passengers out and down to it, then lower them down the cliff.’ ***

The climb took three hours.**** The aircraft was balanced on a narrow ledge, it looked stable but LL rigged some ropes attached to pitons around the undercarriage. Inside, Henrik and de Kloos were kneeling by an unconscious woman on the floor. She was Japanese and had a nasty head wound. De Kloos was favouring his left arm (‘I think it’s broken.’) They explained that they had landed higher up, just as they made to get out, the cliff gave way and the aircraft fell. De Kloos and Sakimi were thrown across the cabin, Henrik was still strapped in his seat.

Paula was able to stabilise Sakimi, but she needs to get to a hospital.

‘Rachel, Paula. Have Sparta managed to send out an SAR yet?’ ‘Negative,’ came the reply, ‘and I don’t like to worry you but there’s another storm front building.’

They rigged harnesses for Sakimi and de Kloos and managed to get them down the cliff to hitch on to the winch cable. Paula rode down with them while LL guided Henrik down the mountain. As they reached the foot, the snow was beginning to fall. LL was coiling up the ropes and retracting the winch cable when from above came an explosion. The rear of the aircraft disintegrated in a ball of flame and it fell, bringing down part of the mountain.

‘Fucking hell! That was a bomb!’

Inside the ATV they settled down to wait out the storm. De Kloos was obviously in pain but was even more obviously angry that someone has tried to kill him.

‘Her name is Endo Sakimi and she represents the Yoshiko Corporation. I was looking into a deal to get Robot Café facilities in my ranches; decent food attracts good workers. Where we landed was a vantage point that overlooks a lot of my land.’

‘You’ve used it before? That’s interesting. But we need to get her to a hospital and SAR flights are grounded due to a safety problem. Where’s the nearest ranch with medical facilities?’

‘That would be King Ranch, about four hundred kilometres away. It’s fairly large and well-equipped. But what do you mean, flights are grounded? Give me that headset.’

‘Is she going to make it? It’s another eight hours.’ Paula frowned and shrugged. ‘I’ve done all I can. I’ll monitor her, but this isn’t an ambulance. We need to get moving.’

Achernar engaged the drive and they set off through the snow. De Kloos was having an increasingly heated argument with someone on the radio; he was speaking Afrikaans so no-one could understand the conversation. Finally, de Kloos threw off the headset.

‘Fokken unie kak. A problem was reported from one of the ranches and now the pilots are refusing to fly until the aircraft are fully checked out. Fucking labour unions.’

2226-06.10

Down in the plains and out of the snow they were able to make better time, they were now only an hour out from King Ranch.

‘Rikard King is ranch boss, but I am ranch owner. There will be no problems.’

Suddenly the windscreen of the ATV shattered as automatic weapons opened fire ….

To be continued ….

===================================================

GM notes

* This is based on the Dirtside rules and ATV travel times

** Devised The Plan and rolled 12!

*** I’m not an expert on mountain rescue so I’ve no idea if this would work or not. But it does sound good on paper and would look good on the big screen.

**** There is a calculation you can do to work out the time a climb/hike would take on Earth. I found it on the Net.

Climb UP = 300m / hour

Climb DOWN = 500m / hour

Level travel = 4 km/ hour

* Calculate total horizontal and vertical distance times added together. To this, add again HALF of the smallest of the calculated times. This is your total time for the climb and descent.

There are further calculations for altitude (etc.) but not for different gravities. I just handwaved this

Meet the Cast

I have been playing around with Token Tool to make some combat tokens.

Here’s the cast of The Currents of Space, I can now put a face to the name

I haven’t done Etamin because I don’t know if he’ll make a come-back. I’m still looking for a suitable image for Gerda (she’s an NPC but has featured prominently)

The Currents of Space – Episode 3.6

Episode 3.6

2226 – 05.23

+++ 1412212226-01 +++

Leviticus Control, this is USCS “Oberon” EXT-150244. Request emergency Highport space tug rendezvous and docking. Inbound 7 hours with damaged manoeuvre drive – unable to make planetfall.

+++ 1412212226-02 +++

‘Oberon’, message received. You will be escorted into far orbit

Paula swung the chair round and looked at the others.

‘Repairs are arranged and authorised – Kinako will pay. Bad news is; it will take at least seven weeks.’

‘Seven weeks!’

Paula shrugged

‘I’m not happy either, but the yard is booked up and is not really equipped to deal with this sort of major damage. It is Kinako money that is persuading them to bump us up the schedule.’

‘So, seven weeks to kill on an Earth-like planet. Let’s go sightseeing.’

‘Last time we did that, on Earth, we ended up in several firefights. Also, it’s not quite Earth-like – Leviticus is a super-Earth. The gravity is 1.4G and we live in a giant crater.’

‘Ooh, that’s going to be a bastard.’ Rachel smiled. ‘Don’t worry, I’ve been slowly increasing the grav plates so we acclimatize. We are currently at 1.2G.’

‘My team could use some high-G training,’ said Gerda. ‘I presume we are still under contract during the repair period? By the way, what have you done to your eyes?’

‘Of course,; replied Rachel. ‘As to my eyes, a brief encounter with hyperspace did this.’ She relayed what had happened. Paula looked hard at Rachel; her eyes were tinged purple. ‘Get Lui to check you out in the medbay.’

2226-05.27

Leviticus Highport was a typical orbital station, three rings spinning to produce centrifugal gravity. Large 20,000 ton bulk carriers collected goods launched up from the Athens Mass Driver; the carriers were owned by Majestic, a subsidiary of Frontier Line.

From orbit, Leviticus was a strange contrast – most of the planet was glaring reddish-white icefields and volcanic mountains; the only green visible was on the equator, a huge impact crater surrounded by a ring of high mountains.

‘The air is breathable down in the Crater and it is quite warm. However, the uplands are frozen and the air is very thin; the tops of the mountains are nearly in vacuum.’ LL was accessing the ship’s library data.

‘So why the big population and decent port?’

‘Leviticus has extensive mineral deposits; but the initial settlers found that the cattle they had brought thrived in the heavy-gravity environment. The planet is now divided into several Ranches; the Ranchers form the ruling body of the planet. Each Ranch employs hundreds of workers; guachos to herd the tri-horn cattle and support workers. Three times a year there is a big cattle drive to the processing plants at Athens. In 2220, Kinako found that the soyabean would thrive in the swamplands on the large island; this is now a major export to produce Kinako Grey.

There are some mining camps out on the icecap, mainly in the south, the MRA has an office at the Lesbos settlement. The northern hemisphere is largely unexplored outside of the Crater.’

‘Great stuff,’ said Paula. ‘Not much to look at. Listen, there must be something going down at Crown right now. We’re wasting time here. There must be a ship we can get to Crown?’

‘And do what? Assuming we can even get Gerd’s PMC onto a civilian ship (‘It’s been done before’, interjected Gerda,) we are going in guns blazing (Gerda just shrugged and said nothing.) ‘Taking the “Oberon” is the best course; also, they probably think we are dead.’

2226-06.02, Athens

‘I’ve got to do SOMETHING!’ Paula was pacing the floor in the Asteroid Smash Hotel in Athens. Achernar looked up, grunted and wrote on his slate –

FOUND SOMETHING. DE KLOOS, RANCHER OF SPARTA OFFERING $100 DAILY TO CHEK A SITE ON HIS LAND. WILL SUPPY ATV AND AIR TRANSPRT. $5000 SUCCESS BONUS. COMNET SPA 0001.

‘We’ll take it.’

2226-06.04, Sparta

They travelled down to Sparta from Athens by the railroad; a huge thirty-car train pulled by three massive diesel locomotives. It was just Achernar, Rachel, Paula Vertise and LL; Gerda and the PMC were doing some high-G exercises back in Athens, which included climbing in the Craterwall mountains (‘they are going to attempt Mt. Brevin.’)

‘It’s out near the Craterwall Mountains on the edge of the Sparta lands. A Sparta helijet reported seeing something unusual on the ground and that there were several dead tri-horns nearby. Bad weather prevented a landing to investigate further. So, we get the job.’

The ATV was a Tharsis GT800 Armadillo, well-suited for this type of work. Some negotiation via Kinako got them weapons permits within the Crater area, to carry the SA7 Survival Rifles supplied with the survival packs in the ATV. Their call sign was S323.

They would be taken by Starlifter out to the site; the aircraft would return in four weeks to pick them up; it saves driving the fifteen hundred kilometres from Sparta. *

2226-06.06

‘So why can’t you put us down on the site?’ Paula demanded of the pilot. ‘Orders from the boss – I put you down here,’ she replied. ‘But we’re two days out!’ The pilot just shrugged and punched in the landing sequence for the Starlifter. ‘Four weeks, twenty-eight days, I’ll be back here for you. I’ll wait twelve hours.’

They headed north, with Achernar, LL and Rachel sharing the driving. The terrain was flat grasslands with light vegetation and the occasional stand of trees; curiously flat and mushroom-like due to the gravity. After a day’s travel, they camped for the night; setting up tents around the tarp rigged outside the ATV. As the sun set; something flared high in the sky to the north-east; it was the summits of the Craterwall mountains; catching the setting sun. They swapped stories, drank Red Dragon and turned in for bed.

LL woke suddenly; his combat-trained danger sense tingling. He reached for his VP90 just as the rear of the tent was ripped open and a toothy, clawed creature burst in. LL loosed off a shot, he hit the creature but was clawed badly in return. A second shot that hit and the creature howled and retreated; shedding blood.

2226-06.07

 Paula treated LL’s wounds; then they struck camp and continued. They reached the target just after midday.

The target looked like four, low and roughly circular, blue coral atolls springing from the ground in an irregular grouping. In the centre of each was a sickly green area.

‘What the hell are those?’ Paula produced a camera and started taking some photos. LL took a SA7 and did some scouting of the local area, reporting that there were no others like it in the immediate area. He did note that there was a herd of tri-horn cattle nearby.

THE REPORT SAID DEAD CATTLE. SEE ANY?

LL shook his head, ‘they all looked healthy to me.’

That night they talked over food. There didn’t seem to be a lot more they could do here, no one was a scientist. There  was a testing lab in the ATV, the next day they would take some samples and then radio for pickup.

2226-06.08

The attempt to get decent samples failed; the blue coral was very hard and samples couldn’t be chipped off and the green stuff looked liquid but behaved like a solid and couldn’t be picked up by sticks or metal probes.

‘Look!’ A tri-horn was ambling towards the group; without pausing it stepped into the nearest blue coral; then stood still surrounded by the green stuff. Paula took some more photographs, but nothing much seemed to be happening.

‘Looks like we’re in for some bad weather.’ To the north, huge storm clouds were boiling up, a few hours later they were caught in torrential rain. ‘ Guess we’ll be spending the day and night in here where it’s dry.’

+++191221226-03+++

Sparta Main to ATV  S323. A private flight PDK-822 has gone down in the Craterwall 700k north-east of your position. You are nearest ground team – please assist – urgent – casualties reported.

‘That’s us,’ said Rachel. She glanced at Paula, who nodded.

Sparta Main – ATV S323. Will respond to emergency. Any further details?

Sparta Main – ATV S323. Flight was carrying Pieter de Kloos, Rancher of Sparta.

To be continued ….

==================================================================================

GM Notes

All of a sudden, the Game went off on a tangent. They had seven weeks to kill on Leviticus; a few rolls threw up a Patron (in true Traveller style) and some use of SWN random tables generated a pretty weird site.

In fact, it was so weird that I couldn’t figure out what to do with it. I could have made it a pool of acid (or something), or a creature; I used the tried and trusted d6 table method –

1  Nothing

2  Pool of acid

3  An amoeba/ heavy-world Ochre Jelly

4  A creature lives in it (trapdoor spider)

5  A creature (Trapper) uses it as a lure

6  Something else

I rolled a ‘5’ and was deciding what the Trapper was when a Random Event turned up (the radio message)

Kudos to anyone who spotted it, the description of Leviticus (and the map) is very similar to that of Olkennedy (Mindjammer/Hearts and Minds)

* Leviticus is Size A, gravity 1.4G, the largest planet allowed under the standard Cepheus rules (although Hostile allows for larger ones.) I’m using the Dirtside/Explorers rules.

** I went back to using the (good old) geodesic mapping system from Traveller/Cepheus/Dirtside/Explorers, mainly because it ties in with Dirtside (etc.)

The Currents of Space – Episode 3.5

‘So, you were there, in Munich. There always were strong rumours that it was an inside job.’

On the bridge, Rachel and Paula watched the “Obi Nuanu” approach. It was larger than the “Oberon”, massing around 1000 tons.

‘You and your squad work for me for the duration of this situation. Agreed?’

The “Oberon” was rolling end-over-end, venting white-hot plasma from the shattered engineering section.

The attackers withdrew to the ‘Obi Nuanu’, with Che Hudai and the autodoc containing Che Suyin.

2226 – 05.10 *

‘Fucking hell!’ Rachel rounded on Gerda. ‘Fine fuckin’ PMC shit you are. You get paid, then let them walk in and take out our two prisoners.’

Gerda’s face hardened. ‘Ms Formistolg, you may be our employer, but there are limits. I will not be spoken to like that,’ she grated.

Rachel backed down and apologised, then turned back to the controls. Red warning panels were lit everywhere; she reduced the volume on the multiple alarms sounding.

‘Rachel, this is Paula. I’ve stabilised the reactor, but the plasma drive is shot to hell. Those bastards knew exactly where to hit us; they’ve taken out most of the primary cooling system. It’ll overheat in seconds if we fire it up. ‘

Later, in the conference room, with everyone present –

a) The Makita ship that attacked us is called the “Obi Nuanu” and is registered to the Olawe family of Crown. Bellatrix’s real name is Emilohi Olawe.

b) The “Oberon’s” plasma drive is badly damaged, Paula is trying to jury-rig a fix, but it is a shipyard repair job.

c) The plasma drive is not needed to do a hyperspace translation, and the hyperdrive appears to be undamaged. However, we will need the plasma drive to transit the destination system, and, more importantly, to stop when we reach the planet. Even if fixed, the drive will be unreliable and we can’t risk it failing whilst trying to make planetfall. Therefore, a return to Paradise, to use the Class C facilities, is out of the question.

d) The nearest planet with suitable facilities is Leviticus, in the CAP, 3 parsecs away. It has a Class B starport and also is a Kinako production facility, so we should be able to call on local resources. A Class B port will have orbital repair facilities.

e) While Paula fixes the drive, we will examine the data taken from the Makita lab. We suspect that the “Obi Nuanu” attacked us because they were warned by the Makita ship that lifted from Paradise.

Rachel went down onto ‘D’ deck and into the executive Voroncono escape ship. She had stashed ten shots of Beta here; to her delight they were still there.

2226 – 05.15

The first attempt to fix the plasma drive failed; it exploded almost immediately.

‘I need to strip out everything and try a rebuild from scratch. We might get 0.5G thrust if lucky, but I can’t guarantee for how long. No way can we risk planetfall.’ Paula sounded harassed and frustrated.

05.16

Achernar, Bennet and LL have recovered and are out of the sickbay. Achernar cannot speak; he can only make noises. Bennet re-joins the PMC. ***

‘So, what happened?’ asked Rachel to LL. ‘I saw you go down just after Bella.’ LL smiled and laughed. ‘I threw the bomb, fucking wall came down on me. I remember Bella dragging me and heaving me into an autodoc. Next thing, I wake up here.’

He pulled his overalls open and glanced down at his chest and upper torso; then sighed. ‘Do you think they could program these things to leave a decent scar or three; you know, to give some street cred?’

‘Bella’s alive!’ Rachel’s eyes were bright and she stared at LL. ‘She must be. She must have been on the Makita ship.’

Gerda looked at Rachel, then looked away.

“If Bellatrix is on that ship,” she thought, “then she is not there as a prisoner.”

05.21

Analysis of the data from the laboratory indicated that Makita were working on creating a ‘programmable’ version of a Lebkuchen clone; one that could unerringly track and kill a target by following its DNA trace. Che Suyin and Che Hudin, sisters and genetic engineers; working respectively for Haruna and Makita, were supplying insider knowledge from both companies.

Paula managed to jury-rig the manoeuvre drive to give around 1G thrust, it should be enough to get them into Leviticus’ orbit from the translation point. Rachel programmed the translation into hyperspace and everyone entered the pods for the four-day hyperspace translation.

2226-05.25

The pod opened with a hiss and Rachel detached the various monitors, then climbed out of the pod; heading for the shower. Immediately she stopped – something was wrong. The pod bay was cold; usually it was warmed up to a comfortable temperature before the pods cracked. However, more disturbing was her vision. Everything was tinged purple and she had “tunnel vision”, with no peripheral vision. There was only one possible explanation – without bothering to dress, she ran, wearing only pants, to the bridge.

‘Shit! Oh fuck! We’re still in hyperspace.’

Like everyone who works in space; Rachel had heard of the effects of hyperspace on humans and animals. Something affects the rational mind, driving it down into catatonia and insanity; that’s why you travel in hypersleep.

“Okay, don’t panic,” she thought. “Nothing is going to hurt you.” ****

A quick calculation showed that the ship was 5 hours from Leviticus; however this worked out to just over half a light year; impossible to do in normal space. The only option was to fix her pod.

“I need a jolt.” Rachel injected a shot of Beta, then went to work on the pod. It was apparent that it was stray combat damage that had caused the Physical Configurator Circuit to malfunction.

However, she couldn’t fix it. She replace the PCC, but the diagnostics still showed a fault.

Rachel woke up, her head a splitting ball, her body freezing cold and her vision increasingly blue-shifted. She was on the floor by her pod; tools scattered around. Her watch showed forty minutes had passed.

“Do that again and I won’t wake up in a fit state.” The thought was grim

Then she remembered – the Voroncovo VIP escape ship held cryo pods. She managed to get down to the ship and into one of the pods; hitting the emergency ACTIVATE button.

[EMERGENCY PROTOCOL ESTABLISHED – PODS ACTIVATED. LAUNCH ESCAPE SHIP –  YES/NO?]

Rachel weakly stabbed at the “NO”, then passed out just as the pod began to activate, sealing her into hypersleep.

To be continued …

=================================

GM notes

* Oops! – somewhere along the line I lost track of the date. This is the corrected date. I can’t be bothered to go back and correct the earlier posts.

** I’ve upgraded all characters to use Lifeblood / Stamina  from Cepheus Deluxe. I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the Hostile rules (due December 2021).

*** Yes, there are two troopers in the PMC called Bennet. This was a plotline that never developed further.

**** A reference to Tom Godwin’s The Nothing Equation ( and yes, this is the guy who wrote the fantastic and heart-wrenching The Cold Equations.)

A check for an incident en route to Leviticus, especially as the ship had taken combat damage. Rachel’s use of Betaseratonin gave her a slight edge on resisting the effects of hyperspace (which are nasty – prolonged exposure can reduce your INT to 0 = insanity.)

Colony Builder

A new book from Paul Elliott (Zozer Games) and Shawn Fisher for the Hostile setting and also the Cepheus Engine.

It provides all of the tools that players need to create their own living and breathing extrasolar colonies. Once built, your players can take up the roles of key personnel and get to manage the fledgling colony, leading the colonists in the struggle against hunger, air-loss, earthquakes, alien parasites and more…

This system is designed to build small colonies and is not advised for worlds with UWP population 5+.

Design

The first thing is to design the colony. This is done by allocating a budget, based on the size of the colony, and then spending it to buy various structures, fixtures and fittings. It works very much like the starship design system (an in fact uses the same scale for deckplans.) Deciding why the colony is there is is an important part of the planning stage; this is the Hostile universe and no colony is there for the fun of it.

Example: the resource here might be petrochemicals (possibly discovered by using the Explorers rules?) Therefore, I am going to design a colony based around drilling and refining. Using the rules, I can calculate how many personnel I need in the drilling and processing roles, and how many support staff and ancillary workers they need.

How is the colony powered? Does it need a security fence or storm wall? What about security patrols? How are you going to feed your colonists? Where do they live and what recreation facilities will they need? All of these questions and more are covered in the rules. Remember – you are working to a budget!

There is a nice example of a worked-out colony and a handy design sheet to keep it all together.

Roleplaying

The colony can be used as the setting for a written scenario, or you can play out running the colony. For this, it is suggested that you create separate characters and there are rules given to quickly do this.

Each year is divided into four Quarters; each Quarter you make a Stability roll to see if there is a problem If there is a problem, then it needs to be fixed else you gain Instability points which are a DM on future rolls (and Instability points can accumulate!)

You assign up to three PC’s to fix the problem, this works in a similar way to The Plan used in the Solo rules. This can succeed or fail; you then check to see if there was a Consequence (colonists injured or killed, damage to the infrastructure etc.)

Finally, check to see if the colony is turning a profit (which is why it is there in the first place.) If it isn’t, then the dreaded Auditors may turn up and a whole new set of problems. Lots of opportunities for roleplaying to survive the audit.

There is a played-out example of how to run a colony, using the previously-designed one.

The book finishes with advice on mapping and some further adventure seeds, plus some equipment stats (and some very nice pictures)

For example – the Okuda M6 Quattromax Logging Robot, the AMC Roadmaster 20-tonne truck, the Tharsis Deepcore 308 Drill Ship, to name but a few.

OVERALL

This book is great! A fantastic addition to the Hostile line and a nice extension of the ship-building rules to cover colony building.

I am going to design the Makita-funded colony on Paradise (Gliese 250) as featured in The Currents of Space series and see what happens (we already know that there is a nasty pervasive organism that infests the tunnels.)

The Currents of Space – Episode 3.4

Episode 3.4

‘Ach, stop being in self-denial and face it. She is coming for you.’

‘After the 2009 liberation and massacre; it became known that the Snakeheads were helping and hiding the surviving Lebkuchen’

‘Sarge. Howell. That bastard Kavelin ratted out on us and warned Makita that we were waiting.’

‘He’ll live, but his larynx was crushed. He’ll never speak again.’

2226 – 05.07, Paradise, Makita labs

‘Paula, put down the rifle.’ Gerda’s voice was as steady as the sidearm held in her hand. ‘There’s something big going on here, something way above my grade. But we need to get off this rock stat.’

The ‘Oberon’ has got room for all of us and more,’ said Rachel, then hesitated. ‘Well, I mean, not them.’ She gestured at the Makita lab technicians. ‘ The Miranda can only carry ten passengers at a time and I’m the only pilot. So, I take Paula, LL, Achernar and Bennet up, while you guard this lot. Then, I take you, her (pointing at Che Hudai) and her sister Che Suyin, the one in the autodoc. You didn’t notice the identical features? They are sisters, or, knowing this lot’s reputation, clones.’ *

‘Howell, report. Sitrep at Port Control.’

‘Sarge. Makita ship has finished pumping water and is requesting take-off clearance.’

‘Grant it, then clear the Miranda for take-off and landing. Track the Makita ship.’

‘Fuck shit Sarge, I’m a shooter, not a desk jock.’

‘Die Klappe Halten and get on with it. First party on their way out to the shuttle. Molders out.’

2226 – 05.07, Paradise

‘Fucking autodocs. They’ve got wheels, why couldn’t they have put motors on them?’  Paula, Trooper Bennet and Rachel were pushing the autodocs containing Achernar, LL and Bennet towards the port. ‘Because they ….’

Rachel came to an abrupt halt as round a corner came two men and a woman wearing overalls, pushing a handcart loaded with tools and spares.

‘Got a report of a pressure leak in the lab area,’ said the woman. Paula stepped forward. ‘That’s right, but it’s a bit dangerous right now. There was a blowback on the main pressure circuit; we are doing an emergency medevac to the Makita ship on the pad.’

The engineer just stared at her, then yelled ‘Run!’ The group ran round back the corner. Paula was puzzled. ‘What’s got into her?’

Rachel sighed, then pointed. ‘You’re not thinking straight. You’re carrying an SA66 auto rifle and you’re spattered in blood from where you blew Wantanabe apart. Now the shit’s really going to hit the fan.’ She lifted her radio. ‘Molders, this is Rachel. We’ve been rumbled. Destroy the lab and pull back to the spaceport.’

‘Negative on destroy the lab. This is a Makita facility and we were hired and being paid by Makita. Unbreakable rule of being a PMC – you don’t shit on your current employer. Rendezvous at the port. Molders out.’

2226 – 05.07, Paradise orbit, on board the ‘Oberon’

‘Burning for a long orbit in the outer system,’ reported Rachel. ‘Transit time forty-eight hours.’

In the conference centre (the ‘Oberon’ is a VIP executive ship), Rachel joined Paula Vertise and Gerda Molders. Achernar and LL were still in the autodocs.

‘The Makita ship filed a flight plan for Wolf 359, NEZ, 7 parsecs.’

‘Wolf 359. That’s Crown, main hub of the Olawe family. We crashed a hospital ship there last year.’

Gerda spoke up. ’I need to negotiate a contract as our current one has ended. The rate for my squad is  3000 Credits per month; with a one-month minimum hire paid up front. This is standard PMC hire conditions.’**

Rachel frowned, ‘Sgt Molders, what were the terms of your contract with Emilohi Olawe? You spelled them out to me in the hotel in Singapore.’

‘My team has been contracted by Emilohi Olawe; who you know as Bellatrix; to protect you and also to effect a rescue of affected associates by any means necessary.’

‘So, have you fulfilled that contract? Where’s Bellatrix?’

Seeing the look on Gerda’s face, Rachel hastily added, ‘I take your point about being hired by Makita. Therefore, I’ll declare that contract concluded. Now, I want to hire you.’ Rachel pulled out her PASS. ’18,000 credits hire for three months, including 9,000 credits paid on severance: you and your squad work for me for the duration of this situation. Agreed?’

Gerda said – ‘I need to speak with my squad. Give me thirty minutes.’

‘Thirty minutes, agreed.’

Rachel saw Paula looking at her. ‘Where did you get that sort of money to throw around? Not off Komatsu or Kinako; they wouldn’t risk pissing off Makita.’

‘It was a gift’

‘From a friend? An absent friend?’ Paula laughed, then winced as the taser burns cut deep. ‘Rachel; I’m not blind and I don’t care. But just be careful that your sergeant doesn’t find out that she is still being paid with Makita money – she may not like it.’

2226 – 06.07, Gliese 250

‘We’re receiving a transmission- it’s a request for help.’

+++ 0112212226 – 1 +++

“USCS Obi Nuanu” requesting medical assistance – repeat “USCS Obi Nuanu” EXT-210020 requesting medical assistance.”

‘“USCS Oberon”, EXT – 150244 receiving. State nature of medical emergency.’

+++ 011221226-02 +++

“Revival failure on several hypersleep pods – patients revived with internal organ damage. Require the services of a doctor. Our doctor is a casualty. Will vector, match and dock with you.’ ***

On the bridge, Rachel and Paula watched the “Obi Nuanu” approach. It was larger than the “Oberon”, massing around 1000 tons.

“You don’t see many of that class of ship,’ remarked Rachel. ‘That’s a Queen-class, custom built by Monarch Shipyards. Expensive.’ She nodded appreciatively as the ship expertly matched vectors and then approached on a docking manoeuvre. ’The pilot’s good, knows their stuff.’

Paula called up the ICO database on the computer and looked up the registry. She looked up in panic.

‘Rachel! Abort the docking! Evade! That ship is registered to Makita; specifically the Olawe family. It’s a trap!’

‘Too late’

Paula issued a ship-wide call to get Gerda and her squad alerted; alarms sounded through the ship but it wasn’t enough. The airlock opened and five troopers wearing light armour and carrying assault rifles stormed in. There was a brief and intense firefight on ‘B’ deck; Gerda and Hicks were wounded and the attackers withdrew to the ‘Obi Nuanu’, with Che Hudai and the autodoc containing Che Suyin.

The “Obi Nuanu” disengaged docking clamps and stood off; then opened fire with a double pulse laser turret, targeting the “Oberon’s” engineering section and scoring two direct hits on the plasma drive.

The “Oberon” returned fire (‘I told you this ship wasn’t toothless,’ said Rachel), two-pop-up turrets held a double pulse laser and a SRAM missile rack, the SRAM did hull damage and caused a fuel leak.

Paula headed down to engineering to effect repairs (she had Engineering 0, which was better than nothing.) The compartment was filled with venting plasma so she suited up in the HEV suit kept for such an emergency.

‘Rachel. I need to shut the drive down to get at the main reaction chamber’

‘We’d be a sitting … oh shit. Paula, get out! They’re trying to hit the fusion bottle, to make the destruction look like an accident.’

The “Obi Nuanu” fired another laser salvo at the engineering section; then burned for the outer system. The “Oberon” was rolling end-over-end, venting white-hot plasma from the shattered engineering section.

2226 – 06.07, Gliese 250, Outer system

Paula struggled awake, hurting all over. She focussed on her surroundings, the drive room of the “Oberon.” Emergency alarms and lights were sounding and the area was filled with venting plasma and blue-green coolant. She became aware of a tinny voice shouting in her ear. ****

‘Paula, Paula, can you hear me? This is Rachel. What’s the situation down there? Readouts show the reactor is running hot and that the drive is out. We are drifting out of control into the outer system.’

…. To be continued

Epilogue

The man reclined on his couch in the command suite, sipping a real Terran brandy worth thousands. The door chime sounded, a Force Commander entered, carrying his ceremonial spear.

‘Sir, the Kinako ship is disabled. It will not survive.’

The man smiled. ‘Good. You have done well, Force Commander. Have our passengers seen to, then prepare for the translation to Crown.’

One the Commander had left, the man raised his glass towards the framed picture of Emilohi Olawe.

‘At last sister, it comes together.’

======================

GM Notes

* Heightened intelligence and Insight is an effect of taking Betaseratonin

** I took these figures from LBB#4 – Mercenary

*** I got this idea from watching Passengers

**** Paula took damage from the two hits but wearing the HEV helped. Still, she could have died.

Ouch!

I designed the “Obi Nuanu’ using the ship design rules; for the combat and boarding I used the quick rules given in Solo to resolve space combat and the quick boarding rules from Cepheus.

These are like Discworld Gnomes (nasty, brutal and short.) The “Oberon” and “Obi Nuanu” were evenly matched; but the “Oberon” got chewed up. They are NASTY!

The Currents of Space – Episode 3.3

One of the scientists, a Chinese woman in her 50’s was wounded; she was hit by a ricochet.

‘Hello, Aunt Hudai; chief researcher into genetic modifications for Haruna. Strange to find you in a Makita laboratory.’

‘It’s Wantanabe!’

‘You,’ hissed Wantanabe. ‘The one I have been looking for’

She hurled herself at Achernar; he rolled and punched her; to his surprise what should have been soft flesh was iron hard!

“Subdermal armour?” he thought as he rolled again: this time Wantanabe was too fast and locked her thighs across his throat. Achernar was weak from the hypersleep and passed out.

Gerda fired her stunner at Wantanabe; she missed and Wantanabe leapt at her. Gerda got in another shot and Wantanabe went down.

‘Restrain it and cover!’ yelled Gerda. ‘If it moves, shoot to kill’

‘No!’ cried Hudai. ’You can’t do that; this really is the final test. We can’t let all that research go to waste …’

Achernar was on the floor, gasping for breath and turning purple. Liu and Paula carried him to an autodoc; after a time Lui came out and spoke to Gerda; then went and scrubbed up. Achernar was wheeled into the medical facility.

‘Who are you?’ demanded Paula, looking at Gerda and the PMC troops. Gerda glanced at Rachel, then spoke. ‘My name is Gerda Molders; Sergeant. My team has been contracted by Emilohi Olawe; who you know as Bellatrix; to protect Rachel and also to effect a rescue of affected associates by any means necessary.’

They questioned the lab staff, who insisted that they were just a research lab looking into the Grey Mould. Suddenly Bennet called – ‘Found something!’ and a concealed door slid open. A long room held green-lit cloning tanks, there were thirty of them; linked to two humming Cray-2 supercomputers. Ten of the tanks were empty; the others held growing clones.

‘Fuck.’ Paula stepped up close to the tubes. ‘That’s Achernar and Wantanabe. No – Ach can’t be a clone -I’d know.’

‘Look at this,’ called Gerda. ‘There were ten ‘products’ shipped out to Edo five days ago. Where’s Edo?’

‘It’s in the Japanese Sector,’ said Rachel. ‘ We need to do a data dump of everything and look at it later.’

‘That’s going to take time; time we don’t have – look.’ Paula pointed at a pulsing light on the far wall. ‘Some bastard’s triggered a low-pressure alarm; we are going to be inundated with repair crews soon. Just grab any likely-looking optical disks’

The doors to the medical facility opened and an autodoc was wheeled in; inside was Achernar. A grim-faced Liu followed it and spoke out loud.

‘He’ll live, but his larynx was crushed. He’ll never speak again

Paula screamed and, without warning, grabbed a rifle off the nearest trooper and emptied the full magazine into Wantanabe,  who, despite her subdermal armour, was torn apart.

‘No!’ screeched Che Hudai. ‘You animal. You have killed her in a cold-blooded execution. The loss of data is incalculable.’

‘No,’ Paula replied, swinging the rifle to bear on Che Hudai. ‘That was no more an execution than killing a rabid animal. She was Lebkuchen and so are you.’

‘No, no – I am not. I was there, but I simply provided the way in. We did not know what the outcome was going to be.’

‘So, you were there, in Munich. There always were strong rumours that it was an inside job. You fucking bitch. Do you know how many deaths you are responsible for? Did you really know what you were setting loose on humanity?’**

To be continued ….

================================

GM notes

* I fought out the combat; Achernar ‘technically’ died but Fate intervened and got him into surgery in time. However, the dice indicated a permanent injury, and given Wantanabe’s known methods of attack ….

**In 2209 , activists broke into the Haruna laboratory facilities in Munich and “liberated” many human clones that were being used as a source of organs for the rich and famous. Once awakened from their induced comas, it became apparent that the force-grown clones were merciless sociopaths; torturing and killing many of their ‘saviours’ before fleeing across Europe. They became known as the Lebkuchen, after the activist group that freed them.

The Currents of Space are flowing again!

EXPLORERS

A new book from Paul Elliott (Zozer Games) for the Hostile setting and also the Cepheus Engine.

EXPLORERS contains all the tools necessary for the referee to set up a resource survey mission, with advice and rules to set up an exciting, unpredictable and probably dangerous mission.

The book starts with  an article from Upstream (recently merged with Off-World Oil Monthly), the best-selling interstellar resource extraction magazine in the American Sector. This article is from the July 2226 issue. I really like this touch that Paul puts into the rule books; the sales brochures, the advertising blurb and corporate manifestos. I want to go and order a subscription to Upstream! The article covers the role of a survey crew in the Hostile setting and suggestions on the crew professions (a Corporate Agent would be unusual on such a mission (so why is one along …?)

Next there are rules about how to set up the mission, typically the PC’s will select three survey sites out of a choice of five or six. The sites are investigated in an order decided by the PC’s (Company H & S policy dictates that the PCs cannot split up; if they do then they forfeit their bonuses. A nice, legal way to keep the group together.)

The book ties in with Dirtside to create hex crawls on the planet surface, in as much detail as the referee wants to go down to.

Stats are given for two survey ships, the 300-ton Castle Bravo class and the 2000-ton Pandora class. There are a set of deck plans for the Castle Bravo, plus some very nice illustrations. In Hostile, ships are functional, built to do the job (just look at the Nostromo.) Next there are stats and a deck plan for the Armadillo hostile environment ATV, which looks like a 1950’s concept for a moon buggy. Great stuff! Even just looking at the deck plan, you can get an idea of how cramped these things are.

Next is a whole set of plans and stats for different types of modular bases that can be set up. Following this is a section on different types of vac suits and their uses, plus some ways to customise them.

The next section is a whole heap of advice and tables on creating an exciting survey mission, with sample systems and suggested events.

For example –

[42] Plateau X483000

The world has a dense unbreathable atmosphere and large areas faulted, broken or uplifted by tectonic activity. A high plateau similar to Tibet has a breathable pressure. Some deep canyons have air at very dense deadly pressures. Those deep canyons contain great mineral wealth, but vacc suits must be worn within them. Great waterfalls cascade a mile down the plateau’s sides.

Resources: Ore, Oil

Events: Quakes, Rockslide, Predators, High Winds, Tropical Storm

OVERALL

A great addition to the Hostile line. It uses some mechanisms from other Zozer books (the Survey rules from SOLO and the Vacc Suit rules), but it’s nice to have these all in one place. The plot seeds are great and easily throw up some ideas.

(so … why is that Corporate suit on board?)