Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Another Sun Rises - A Cypher*Space Campaign - Session 2

Remora by Ryan Wolfe, 0-hr art & technology


Past Session Logs


Perturbations


"To course across more kindly waters now
my talent's little vessel lifts her sails,
leaving behind herself a sea so cruel;
and what I sing will be that second kingdom,
in which the human soul is cleansed of sin,
becoming worthy of ascent to Heaven."

- Canto I: Lines 1-6 of The Divine Comedy: Purgatorio by Dante Alighieri.  English Translation by Allen Mandelbaum. 


The Remora was completely powered down and the crew did not fully understand why.  Four hours had passed since awakening in their stasis pods, half-drowned in Bio Ice and voraciously hungry.  Only moments before, the crew's security officer completed a docking maneuver, connecting the Remora craft with the Argos III.  But once the connection was made everything onboard the Remora shut down, from life support to GAIA (General Artificial Intelligence Assistant).  Amidst the stillness and isolation, the crew looked at each other and stoically started working the problem. 

Dr. Bruce ExeterHard-Boiled* Savant who Works Medical Miracles, played by Andy
Dr. Game Dijkstra, Learned Savant who Talks to Machines, played by Matt
Karl Travers, Graceful Trooper who Blanks** played by Marc***
Evart Crymouth, Stealthy Operative who Adapts to Any Environment played by Jeremy

*Hard-Boiled is out of Wits Alone, by Ryan Chaddock Games
**The player has chosen not to share his Focus with the party at this time
*** Karl Travers was NPC'd for this session

Engineer and tech-head Dr. Dijkstra floated back to the hatch connecting the cargo deck with the ship's power source - a single Micro-Fusion Drive.  Strangely enough, it appeared that the lights and power were still operational in engineering, but the hatch leading to to the drive was completely sealed.  Since the Micro-Fusion Drive was most definitely operational it means that someone... or something... was manually cutting off the Remora's shipboard operations.  Evart brought the team into a huddle and they started divvying up some of the gear.  Dr. Dijkstra took the tool kit to begin work on the docking mechanism, but refrained from donning the light e-suit that both Dr. Exeter and Evart zipped into.  Both Dr. Dijkstra and Evart took the only pair of comm watches, devices that were a combination micro-computer and stylish time piece.

Dr. Dijkstra secured himself next to the Remora's "boring lock".  This system could either be used as a traditional docking collar, or it could invasively tear into the side of a vessel to create a seal, much to the detriment of the other craft.  A quick scan revealed that the ship was connected to the Argos III via the boring lock, and that there was an active data stream entering the Remora.  Something on board the Argos III was now in command of the Remora.  Evart was trying to follow Dr. Dijkstra's work when he heard a strange sound of tapping in a compartment above.  Hovering to the command deck, Evart thought the sound had come from the cockpit.  But when the Operative took a look outside of the craft all he could see was the cold and dark hanger bay.  It was getting cold on board the Remora, perhaps it was the temperature dropping that was causing contractions within the vessel's interior structure. 

Perhaps.

Evart called down to Dr. Dijkstra to check on the progress of his diagnostics.  The boring lock had interior and exterior airlock doors; both were closed.  To open either, they would have to be manipulated manually, in sequence.  The crew continued to discuss the decision when Evart heard the tapping again. 

"Son of a whore," Evart exclaimed just as he was floating by Dr. Exeter.

Not hearing the tapping that his Operative crewmate heard, the good doctor believed that Evart, a company man with an assumed loyalty to Terracorp, had made the comment as a remark against Dr. Exeter's colonial mother.  There was already significant tension in the compartment, and this didn't help.  Neither took the incident any further, nor did they speak again for a significant period of time.  Evart affixed a flashlight to the front portal in the cockpit, so that anything moving by the craft could be spotted.  When the Operative left, Dr. Exeter took a look for himself, but all he could make out was a long, thin streak on the window where something sharp and possibly metallic may have scraped past. 

Just random debris, thought Dr. Exeter, hopefully. 

While the medical doctor was keeping an eye out for something at the front of the vessel, Dr. Dijkstra and Evart worked together to open the inner bore lock door manually.  Dr. Dijkstra moved into the compartment and took another reading with his tools and comm watch.  The Remora's GAIA was dormant, but the Argos III's GAIA system was fully operational, most likely with access to the crew's vessel.  Dr. Dijkstra hovered out of the airlock to ponder the situation when Evart heard the tapping again.  This time, however, it was more pronounced, and seemed to be coming from the boring lock.  Floating forward, Evart didn't even make it to the airlock before the Remora's remaining atmosphere started to vent.  Quickly Evart made it to the boring lock and took a look over the edge.  Below it appeared that the outer airlock door had been opened, and the boring screw was being retracted manually.  Small, metallic legs protruded through the gap, and Evart's time spent as a ship's custodian told him that these were defense drones. 

Pulling out an Attraction Cypher, Evart pointed it into the hatch and depressed the jury-rigged trigger.  One of the drones was pulled through the gap, it's crablike metallic carapace ripping away as the remains landed in Evart's arms.  The shell of the drone plugged some of the gap, and the loss of atmosphere was temporarily stiffled.  Evart then used a crowbar to hastily close the inner boring lock door. 

On the command deck Dr. Exeter was dealing with a minor medical emergency.  When Dr. Dijkstra put his vacuum mask on, he failed to notice that the expiration date for the Terracorp piece of equipment was 2014!  The engineer was breathing canned air from the classic days of Nicki Minaj!  But Dr. Exeter was ready for any kind of medical emergency, and he quickly made a few modifications to the mask to make the air more breathable.  Dr. Dijkstra saw that Evart was wasting no time preparing for an EVA, so he started donning his own soft e-suit.   

Evart passed through the command deck's airlock out into the expansive hanger.  There were only a few tools that would pass as suitable weapons against the defense drones, including some screwdrivers and spanners, a crowbar, and a lone cutting torch.  But the ship's Operative had another plan involving magnetic clamps.  The clamps could be connected to cords and tethers, or used on their own to neutralize magnetic robots possibly.  First, Evart stealthily crept to the Remora's belly and secured the craft to the hanger floor with some of the magnetic clamps.  This would keep the Remora from drifting out into space if the drones succeeded in completely removing the boring lock. 

Evart then floated to the area adjacent to the lock and found the manual control panel on the outside of the hanger.  The two remaining drones had made their way inside of the boring lock, but when Evart used the manual override to reverse the damage and reseal the collar, the two drones reappeared.  Evart was able to destroy the first drone when the docking screw re-engaged, but the second remained a significant threat as it tried to remove the Operative's e-suit helmet.  Using the magnetic clamp, Evart was able to grapple the remaining drone, and when Dr. Dijkstra appeared, it only took a couple blasts from his electromagnetic onslaught ability to shut the robot down.

With the docking collar connection restored, the two astronaut's reentered the Remora.  Dr. Dijkstra was eager to restore the Remora's shipboard systems, and attempted a second hack of the datastream.  This time the Learned Savant was successful!  The Argos III's GAIA was expelled from the Remora, and all systems came back online, including the precious life-support.  But communicating with the Remora's GAIA was strange and unusual, as it had become corrupted in some way.  Fortunately Dr. Dijkstra had a way with machine intelligence, and convinced the unit to let the party know about the Argos III's GAIA.  According to GAIAr3 (the Remora's GAIA system), the main GAIA unit on board the Argos III had been given a command by the captain to expel all EBE's:  Extraterrestrial Biological Entitites.  GAIA considered the crew of the Remora to be EBE's, and therefore tried to "space" them rather than allow them onto the craft.  The crew feared that their vessel was harboring some kind of disease or infection, and came up with the idea to create a bio scanner.  Using the data slate from one of the stasis pods, and a stasis pod fuel cell, Dr. Exeter connected the micro-organism scanner from the Waste Reclamation Unit to the jury-rigged ARTIFACT.  Despite being the engineer and tech-specialist, Dr. Dijkstra looked on in wonder as the ship's doctor constructed the device with almost surgical precision.  


Hoisting the new toy, Dr. Exeter scanned the Remora but saw nothing unusual.  The same went for anything on the opposite side of the airlock door.  It then dawned on the team - the scanner could only detect terrestrial biological components, not material from an extra- terrestrial origin.  Since mankind had still not made contact with any other life in the Solar System or neighboring star systems by this time, there was nothing else to work with.  The bio scanner could possibly be upgraded, but not with the limited materials on board the Remora.  So with a deep breath Dr. Dijkstra opened the outer airlock door, revealing the forward cargo bay of the Argos III.  

It was dark, chilly, and completely devoid of life. 


Quotes



"I think the proper quote is 'you're afraid you are going to die gasping…'" - Matt recites from the Firefly episode "Out of Gas."  

"I head back down to the second level, and explain what occurred to the doctor… and the doctor." - Jeremy got a kick out of there being two Docs on board. 

"It's like when you make a perception roll and the GM says 'you don't see anything'.  He doesn't say 'there's nothing there.'" - Jeremy was carefully listening to the GM's wording.  

Evart: "There's something outside the ship taunting me." 
Dr. Exeter:  "There's something inside the ship taunting me!" 

Jim:  "There are no seal issues on the other side, not even a gap." 
Matt:  "Good, I don't want to club a seal anyway."

"Deliiiicious." - Evart after drinking reclaimed water.



Thanks 



The rules for Another Sun Rises are based on Monte Cook Games' Numenera and The Strange, incredible RPG's in their own right, both of which I am absolutely in love with.  

I will continue to share a link back to 0-hr art & technology.  Ryan Wolfe is a terrific artist, and I used his designs for the Remora, Argos III, and a few more.  All of his ships are available at DriveThruRPG, so I'd suggest you take a look if you are starting your own campaign in space!  

To build the Crimson star system, I used Universe Sandbox, a space simulator that allows you to create entire planetary systems and toy with everything from mass to orbital velocity.  You can pick up this amazing program on Steam, or check them out on their own website here.