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.

The Currents of Space – Episode 2.10

The Aurora plague Storyline was established in February 2019 at the Game-Start; the dreadful COVID-19 pandemic has not been an influence.

‘His name was Jacob Vertise. He was my father.’ 

‘Oh, they dealt with it alright. They loaded all of the patients on to the “Marie Hope”, then despatched it to Earth.’

‘I think it’s time we started to make a difference in this total shit universe. We’ve saved Mitsuro Komatsu; we have his ship and we have the skills. We work for him and we have access to the resources of the Kinako Corporation.’

‘I have listened to your proposals; and I accept them. From now on, you are the crew of the “Oberon” and you work for me. In return, you have this ship as a base and what resources and contacts I have.’

+++ Message 1901202226 -1 +++

[USS Alabama [to Aurora Downport – Captain Jane Deladrier]

‘This is Captain Deladrier of the USSC “Alabama” to the officer in charge of Aurora Downport. We are inbound, ETA five hours.

Deladrier out.

+++ Message ends +++

2226-01.24, in orbit around Aurora

Bellatrix strode on to the bridge of the “Oberon” and looked at the screens, as well as out of the viewport. The USSC “Alabama” hung in matched orbit, about 1000 klicks away. It was the first chance they had really seen the Colonial cruiser up close (as it were.) It was sleek and deadly, bristling with sensor and weapon pods.

‘What’s the reply from Aurora?’

‘A general, neutral reply. ‘USSC Alabama, Captain Deladrier. We welcome your presence; but have no need of your assistance.’’

‘Deladrier responding. I recognise your assurance, however, under USS Mandate laws; I am required to land a squad of Marines for twenty-four hours to work with your local enforcers. Please transmit co-ordinates for a lander to put down. Deladrier out.’

‘That’s interesting. They must think there is something suspicious going on; else she wouldn’t have landed the Marines. Ten gets you five that they go down armed for bear’

‘Aurora Control to USSC Alabama. Please be advised that some areas are restricted access; open to Parkfield employees only.’

‘Are they deliberately trying to provoke her?’

‘Into doing what? Deladrier’s hands are tied; she can only act within Mandate law.’

‘Black Ops.’ Paula joined them on the bridge; watching as a lander exited the launch bay of the warship and headed down to the planet. ‘Deladrier, or probably her XO, will get a Special Operative down there to do some real snooping. If they find something, that’s when the fireworks will kick off.’

Later

Achernar, Paula and Etamin examined the bodies of the hijackers and the recording equipment in the hold to see if there were any more clues. From the overall bone structure and pale skin; they had all spent prolonged time in space.

‘Belters?’ said Achernar; ‘they look the right type. Ah, what’s this?’ All of the bodies had a tattoo on their left shoulder; a circle with an eye above it. Both Paula and Etamin nodded.

‘That’s the Overwatch Union; their goal is to expose exploitation of workers and their families in the Outer Colonies. They are pretty radical’

‘They took out the Director of Boston Harbour when he was visiting Earth; they blew his car up’, said Etamin, in an off-hand way. Paula and Achernar stared at him; Etamin grinned his disarming smile. ‘Okay, I supplied the route the car would take; but really, I didn’t know what they were going to do.’

Paula had a violent reaction to this. ‘You bastard’, she hissed, ‘you’re a fucking terrorist.’ She grabbed the nearest item and threw it at Etamin; he ducked and it missed him.*

‘I spent twenty-four years on the force fighting scum like you.’ Paula went to draw her gun and Achernar stepped in.

‘No guns on a spaceship! Paula, back off a little and let’s hear him out. Etamin doesn’t strike me as being a terrorist and he doesn’t have a tattoo.’ A thought struck him, ‘Etamin; let’s see your left shoulder – okay. Now what happened?’

Etamin slipped a wicked-looking knife back into a sheath in his left boot and leaned back against a bench.

‘I was born a street rat in Buenos Aries; I never knew my parents. You did anything to survive; I was in a street gang and we did what we had to do. We were promised 3 blocks** to get the information on the route the Director’s car would take; I got it for them but they tried to rat us out. We took them down and they had this tattoo. I did some fishing and found out about the Overwatch Union. Next thing; the Directors car gets blown up by an RPG.’

‘So you didn’t actually supply the route – you took them down? So why the frack did you say that you did?’

‘Hell; I was bragging a bit. I didn’t know the Queen Bitch would react like this!’

Paula glared and pointed a finger. ‘Just stay away from me.’ She stormed out of the hold.

Achernar eyed Etamin coldly. ‘You don’t seem too concerned anyway about what happened?’

‘Which part of “you did anything to survive” are you struggling with, Ach?’

2226-01.26, in orbit around Aurora

+++ AURORA CONTROL +++

Brought to you via landline from Parkfield Corporation

– There is a developing region in the southern equatorial belt, a Class Three sunspot. This is being kept under observation.

– Polar magnetometers show fluctuations higher than normal; hourly monitoring is available on the Control channel.

++ ADVISORY: If the warning sounds; or the aurora deepens in intensity, then seek shelter immediately. Get into your assigned shelter or as deep underground as you can. ++

++ ADVISORY: The recent prolonged solar storm severely depleted stockpiles in the shelters. All citizens are advised to bring two weeks supply with them. ++

++ ADVISORY: There are Colonial Marines present; working with our own security forces to ensure our safety. Report any inappropriate questions to your Parkfield Rep. ++

2226-01.26, Lounge of the ‘Oberon’

‘There is no reason to stay here. Rachel, you are not going to get to those ruins; there’s a flare building and a fucking Colonial cruiser in orbit.’ Achernar looked out of the viewport at the “Alabama.” ‘I suggest we head out and come back later; much later.’

‘I concur.’ The voice was weak, from Mitsuro. ‘I must return to Kinako HQ at Earth, to alleviate what damage my abduction has done. Once we return, I will formally transfer ownership of the ‘Oberon’ to you; you will act as my trouble shooters, operating as and when I see fit. In all regards, you will answer to me only.’

‘This is a great honour, Mitsuro-san.’ Rachel fell to her knees and bowed.

Etamin gave his charming smile. ‘I never thought I’d end up working for the big boys. Do you know how much your stuff costs on the streets; the real streets?’

‘Ok, we’d better move before the “Alabama” starts taking an interest in us.’ Achernar turned to face the group. ‘Komatsu, where to?’

‘Mitsuro-san, please, I am your employer. Earth, of course.’

To be continued…

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

GM Notes

* Reaction roll of Snake Eyes

** Block – slang for 1000 credits

Ok, back after a long break (many reasons, none really relevant.)

I did think I’d painted myself into a corner, but then I realised I was getting too hung up on what I wanted to happen. Sure; I’m interested in the alien ruins, but, really as things stand they are not accessible and it would be stupid to keep pushing that plotline.

Suddenly, a whole (potential) plotline revealed itself and I’m really excited to be going with it for Season 3.

I do still want to set up a separate, parallel Game involving the “Alabamba”; SOLO has the rules for doing this.

 

A Pirate’s Poem

A Game played over the Internet with Lisa, Jon, Evie, Isla, Imi and Ben last Saturday. We used The Code of Steam and Steel as the rules and let everyone create their own characters.

Eliza Dolots (played by Isla): – Pilot/Helmswoman

Olivia the pirate (played by Evie): -Brawler, likes kicking in the chest

Ronald ‘Shark Bait’ Shelley (played by Jon): -Carpenter

Gwendolyn ‘Black Eyes’ Vance (Lisa): -Curator of the museum and pirate enthusiast.

Swashbuckler Skull (Imi)

Judson Deathdancer (Ben)

Introduction

Some time ago, a first edition copy of Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Treasure Island’ came to the Museum. It was signed by the author.

Sealed inside the back cover was a map; signed J.H. Written on the map was a poem.

RLS was known to have incorporated real elements into his stories: – the treasure of Treasure Island may exist. The poem is obviously a clue to the location of the treasure.

The PC’s are to use the (top secret) Time Tunnel to travel back to Pirate Town in 1700 to locate the lost treasure.

A Pirate’s Poem

From the standing stones that guard the bay

This isle means death in another way

 

A stone-built house, its fires are cold

Yet a hidden way through is for the bold

 

The Star of Five; nay do not stay

The Demon’s eye will show the way

 

The shore at last, now fix the boat

For its final voyage, it needs to float

 

Now raise the sail and steer true west

Veer not north or south, it will not be best

 

With the finger girded round

Prevent the shades that make no sound

 

My rede is done, if you have done your best

Then you are welcome to my chest

                                                J.H

 

The Game went well and all the players enjoyed it (even Evie; who only dropped in now and again as she was making a sluggery in the garden (probably best not to ask.))

They managed to follow the clues in the poem without too much difficulty; although they hired the boat to row across to the island. They encountered Black Dog and the pirates on the island, as they had crossed the causeway at low tide.

Imi showed great inventiveness in the combats.

“I’ll grab the demon with my hook and pull him forwards; then trip him up”

“While (Uncle Jon) is fixing the boat; I’ll try and make the pirates come over to me by waving my sword”

It all went wrong right at the end; the cannon fire from the ‘Black Pig’ damaged the Time Spike, causing them to be lost in time; they all arrived one hundred million years in the past, at Camp Cretaceous (the next Game, requested by Evie as she wants to fight dinosaurs again.)

X20 and the Puzzle-Monkey

Following the attempt of the Rhanarrn to steal the moon, Imi and X20 finally arrived at Arkadia Space City, in Galaxy 4. X20 needed to refuel with hyperatomic fuel charges; it turned out there was a 1 week delay due to them all being bought up by the Kaladarian Federation. With some time to kill, Imi and X20R set out to explore the space city.

On leaving Docking Bay 17, Imi was jostled by a Vargr, who was arguing with a Kalonian about something that had been sold by accident.

Vargr: “But they paid good money for it!”

Kalonian: “But it was promised to DelArco and she’s not the forgiving type. We need to get it back.”

In front of them they say four Ogrins; hulking mercenaries carrying laser rifles. One played a recorded holo-message from Nicola DelArco.

“You have been avoiding my calls. I want my Jester Monkey. Hand it over now! Ogrins! Kill them and search their ship.”

The Ogrins opened fire on the two aliens, Imi and X20 (they do tend to follow instructions literally!) Finally they were driven off, especially when it turned out that Imi had telepathic abilities*

They went to a street café in the Zocalo and Yaylor Vin, the Kalonian, explained the problem.

DelArco paid them 1000Cr up front for a Jester Monkey; a creature that is illegal in most systems. They got hold of one, but lost most of the money in a gambling game on Ringworld 2.

A Rakashan offered 900Cr for the monkey and Growllf (the Vargr) made the sale (because they needed the money.)

Jester Monkeys are great mimics; if they see an action then they will mimic it; however they don’t understand what they are doing or why. A Jester Monkey could start and steer a car, but wouldn’t necessarily use the brakes unless it had seen it being done. This is why they are illegal in most systems.

Rakashan settle many disputes by duelling, using special duelling lasers that inflict minimal damage. However, if a Jester Monkey witnessed this and got hold of a real laser pistol, then it could shoot a Rakashan and kill them.

Vin and Growllf need to lie low as DelArco’s goons are looking for them (Nicola DelArco is one of the Seven.) Imi agreed to go and try and get the monkey back.

“Why can’t we just buy another?” “They are illegal! There is a 5000 Cr fine for even thinking about owning one!”

Exploring the space city and trying to find out more about Rakashans. ** Rakashans are cat-people, with a strict code of honour but a marked xenophobia towards other races. To offer to buy the monkey back would be seen as an insult; the only way to do it is to offer a gift of greater value. Finally, after an encounter with purple-uniformed city security who were asking questions about X20R (it turns out that unbraked quantum intelligences are also illegal) ***

Finally, they found a weapons shop – ‘Heydock’s Weapons – Finest Energy Weapons in the Known Universe’, and purchased a matched pair of Rakashan duelling lasers in an ornamental case. They headed towards the Rakashan enclave but found that there was some trouble; the Jester Monkey had got hold of a fusion rifle and was firing off shots at random. X20R managed to stun it with his electro-beams; although he, Imi and Cynbe (the Rakashan) were injured. They took the monkey in exchange for the pistols and headed back to Docking Bay 16, where Vin and Growllf were hiding in their ship. They handed over the monkey, left the aliens to deal with DelArco and headed back to the Zocalo.

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

GM Notes

A great fun Game, played over the Internet. It was a nice day so Ben and I were out in the garden, with the laptop set up under a cover so we could see Imi on the screen.

I had great fun with the names of the places and the aliens; most of which meant nothing to Ben or Imi.

* We’ve upgraded and changed the characters a bit; one of the great benefits of the Code of … system is that characters can be tinkered with quite easily. The Green crystal now gives Imi psionic powers.

** I had provided a schematic of the space city to explore; of course they ignored many of the interesting locations!

*** I’m currently reading The Belt by Gerald M Kilby and enjoying it a lot.

 

X20 and the Moonstealers

Imi had got her bags packed as X20 was taking her on a holiday to Arkadia, the massive space-city at the centre of Galaxy 4. It was a bright night of the full moon; as they watched a shadow began to slide across the moon.

‘This is an unscheduled eclipse of the moon.’

‘Look,’ said Imi. ‘The shadow is wrong, it’s moving upwards across the moon.’

Out in space they saw the reason; a huge cylindrical spaceship with a pointed horn at the end was encasing the moon in a net of energy.

‘They’re stealing our moon!’ The ship moved off, heading for the Portal to Galaxy 2, pulling the moon behind it.

X20 gave chase and they attempted to contact the ship; the communicator screen lit up. It was a rhinoman.

‘I am Captain Jarrl of the Rhanarrn. We are taking your moon to add to our collection’*

Imi and X20R boarded the Rhanarrn ship; while Imi distracted the Rhanarrn crew, X20R started pulling out wires and stuff until something happened.* The ship stopped and dropped out of the Portal; Imi and X20R stormed the bridge and finally subdued the Captain and the crew (Imi made good use of her green crystal.) They found out that the Rhanarrn were stealing moons to use to make a new planet. **

X20R figured out the controls and they dropped back into the Portal to return to Galaxy 1. Suddenly they were attacked by a leaf-ship of the Ded-Li! They managed to drive it off; but the Ded-Li affirmed that they were the enemies off all of the Nine Galaxies.

They managed to get the moon back into orbit without (hopefully), no-one noticing (barring the odd earthquake, weather disruptions and massive tidal waves.) They released the Rhanarrn crew in an escape pod and sent it back through the Portal; then exploded the ship on the darkside of the moon as a warning to any other moonstealers. ***

X20 and Imi then set off for Arkadia.

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

GM notes

Again, a great Game played using Facebook with Imi at her end (with her mom Chloe chipping in every now and again) and Ben and me at our end.

The Game helps with Imi’s maths as we let her work out the dice totals.

 

The Nine Galaxies is our Game-setting, nine Galaxies linked by Portals (wormholes.)

 

* Using the d6 table, with Imi and Ben coming up with suggestions for the entries. This is a great mechanism to use in any Game system and setting. Simon first mentioned these in Squadron UK; I use them in all my Games.

Any time you have a situation where the result is unclear or you just want some fun, make a d6 table.

1 = Nothing, 6 = Something More (which leads to another d6 table, with even wilder results); entries 2-5 are suggested by the players along the theme of the situation.

** This was Imi’s idea – it’s so good I’m going to run with it and somewhere there is going to be an artificial planet made of moons strung together like a necklace.

*** Hmm. Imi has been studying the history of the Tudors at school (she is 7; going on 8.) Her suggestion was to execute the Rhanarrn and put their heads on sticks as a warning! X20 managed to talk her out of that one.

 

THE STARS, LIKE DUST Agency Turn 2

Agency Turn 2

SPI Headquarters, Dangan, Gamma Leporis

Present: Bisharah (Chair)

Team Alpha (the PC’s)

Aya Hulusi; Head of Foreign Intelligence.

Present by holo-link:

Tiqfarin Khatib; Head of Research

Erogdu Uygun; Support Services.

Agenda:

  1. Overview of situation
  2. Recruitment
  3. Mission Report
  4. MSI – what do we know?
  5. Future plans.
  6. Overview

SPI is on the back foot at the moment; recent events have resulted in one agent death another seriously injured and a strike at SPI itself which killed several workers and injured the Director.

SPI has instigated a recruitment program with extensive screening tests.

  1. Recruitment: So far, there is only one recruit: – (enters the room)

Butler

‘Just call me Butler’

Expert/ Hacker

Assigned to Team Alpha

3) Mission Report

a) MSI are investigating some tunnels beneath the remains of the LCD base.

b) The tunnels appear to be part LCD and something else. LCD tunnels tend to be semi-circular and usually red-lit or red-coloured. The tunnels further on were blue-black and triangular.

c) The tunnels contained a creature lair/ nest of aggressive worms.

Question (Uygun): Have these been identified? – Yes, they are a species native to Gamma Leporis. This was probably a lair.

d) MSI have installed a ship-class fusion power plant capable of delivering thirty megawatts of power. It is not known what this is for.

e) The site is guarded by ordinary guards and at least one squad (4 people) of Robomen (aka War Slaves.)

4) Current briefing on MSI

  1. a) They have War Slaves, which is classed as Maltech.

5) Plans

1) Scout Element – looking for evidence of Pretech technology in use

2) Continue investigations at the LCD site; what do MSI need all that power for?

PC’s (designated Team Alpha) are to investigate the LCD site. Recruitment will continue with a view to building a Team Beta.

–Meeting adjourned —

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

GM Notes

Still getting used to this way of running a Game of Darkness Visible, although it is coming together more.

Butlet is the new PC, I’ve rolled a personality for him (and the others as well) and I’m going to experiment with how they interact with each other.

 

A Doomsday Like Any Other

Played a Game of Star Trek over Discord/Roll20 with Jamie, Lisa and Jon as it was Jamie’s birthday. I used Discord/ Roll20 (for the dice rolls) and The Code of the Space-Lanes for the rules. It was Next Generation, Jamie played Geordi, Lisa was Worf (!) and Jon played Data.

The Game went well, with a few wild things happening; such as Data reverting to his Wild West mode and Geordi’s VISOR playing up and making everyone look like cartoon characters. The plot was taken from TOS and a re-skinning of an old FASA adventure. Eventually, after a few battles with Cardassians and a stand-off between the ‘Enterprise’ and a Galor-class battlecruiser; they managed to pilot the Doomsday Machine into the sun; with no PC casualties and only the loss of the battlecruiser (it got too close to the wrong end of the Machine.) Great fun.

I originally wrote this for STA, but struggled with it. I really wanted to like the rules and the books are nice; but I just don’t find the Game-system intuitive at all; I don’t like the: well, to do x, you could use this attribute and this discipline, or that attribute and that discipline aided by … (etc.) I know it gives a lot of flexibility; but I’m not sure it’s always necessary.

THE STARS, LIKE DUST 1.5

3230-04.17

Gamma Leporis, alien ruins

Tomita sent the drone over to scout out the entrance to the site, it was a semi-circular tunnel in a shade of red; typical of L’Chal-Dah construction. Just inside was a temporary checkpoint, with two security guards. Not sure if they spotted the drone.

They team went in; the plan was to bluff the guards. This failed and they had to be despatched using laser fire.

Following scratch marks in the floor to a side chamber they found the fusion plant; it was a 30 MW small craft reactor; obviously taken from a ship. Tomita noted that the panel readouts were top of the green, verging on the amber. This plant was never intended for this purpose and should have an engineer on station at all times.

The tunnel opened out onto a scaffolding gallery edging a deep pit; there were faint lights in the pit. To the right, the gallery edged the pit and they saw a floodlit guard station.

Marching footsteps – they pulled back into cover as a squad of four Robomen (War Soldiers)* marched past, heading into the right-hand gallery. The team went left; the gallery skirted the edge of the pit; then branched right. The continuing passage had a security camera bolted to the wall; they went right.

The passage changed; rather than being semi-circular it was now an isosceles triangle, faded blue in colour. Not LCD. A short way along was an object hanging from the ceiling: an inverted cone. This burst open: a mass of slug/ worms engulfed them!

The ensuing fight was desperate: the worms died easily but there were lots of them and they damage they inflicted mounted. ** Blake and Valle were reduced to using burst fire; Valle’s combat rifle shots echoing round the tunnels. Tomita went down; Blake managed to stabilise her using Lazarus patches and Valle took out the rest of the swarm.

Returning to the entrance, they had to hide from the Robomen patrol but managed to get back to their gravflyer. They returned to SPI HQ, another disastrous mission over.

At SPI HQ

Need to recruit more Agents to the team

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

GM Notes

I wanted a ‘dungeon-crawl’ for a change; I used the Location Crafter (Tana Pigeon). It didn’t take long to set up the three tables you need for the core of the system.

The system worked well and I’ll probably use it in the future.

*Think of the Robomen from the film”Daleks- Invasion Earth 2150” – black tunics, helmets with built-in shades, never check morale.

** OMG! Talk about bad die-rolling! The dice were not with the Team. Blake and Valle had weapon jams or were out of ammo; the swarms just went for Tomita all the time [thanks to the Solo Combat System – I can’t complain too much as I wrote it], she never had a chance to escape.

I’ve been thinking a bit more about timekeeping and Agency/ Faction Turns. I’ve decided that I’m micro-managing this too much (but I still like dates and a timeline.)

Provisional

  1. a) Each Mission takes place during one month (or more)*
  2. b) An Agency Turn happens every Month (= 12/ Year)
  3. c) A Faction Turn happens every Three Months (= 4/ Year)

* This means that if the PC Team are in the middle of an on-going Mission then they can’t get involved in another one.