Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Another Sun Rises - A Cypher*Space Campaign - Session 4




Past Session Logs


Occultation


"Put out the light, and then put out the light.
If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,
I can again thy former light restore,
Should I repent me; but once put out thy light,
Thou cuning'st pattern of excelling nature,
I know not where is that Promethean heat
That can thy light relume.  When I have plucked thy rose,
I cannot give it vital growth again;
It must needs wither."  (7-15) Othello, Othello

- William Shakespeare



After a well-deserved rest, the crew of the Remora was still hiding from the General Artificial Intelligence Assistant (GAIA) onboard the Argos III.  Earlier the party’s technical expert was able to "mask" the sensors and cameras in sector 2 of the rotating hanger wheel of the vessel, but they could only stay out of sight for so long.  There were significant mysteries that lay ahead.  Where was the Argos III’s crew?  Why was the vessel in orbit around a minor planet circling a red dwarf and not Tau Ceti?  Where did the red dwarf, called Crimson, go, and what eclipsed the star?  

Perhaps most pressing, why was GAIA trying to kill this team?

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
*** Dr. Game Dijkstra was NPC'd for this session


Dr. Dijkstra believed that he could be more help for the party working in tandem with the Remora’s own GAIA system, so he traded places with security officer Karl Travers for the next leg of their investigation.  Karl was familiar with the hanger wheel, since sector 2 was to be his home.  In fact, Karl remembered that he may have stored some interesting gear in his bunk before going into stasis.  The graceful trooper found his room and opened a secret panel in his foot locker.  There she was!  A beautiful 6mm Charge Needler, fitted with a zero-g system that would allow the firearm to be discharged without recoil.  Grabbing a few extra magazines, Karl turned to Evart and asked if he’d like to go digging for any other weapons in some of the other rooms.

Evart just raised his crowbar, "I’m good."

The stealthy operative didn’t expect much trouble, and should some arise, he figured he’d disappear from view.  Knowing that the hanger decks had been used to house stasis pods, Evart offered to head out alone and reconnoiter that section of sector 2 while Dr. Exeter and Karl hung back.  Following the broken and partially dissolved hallway, damaged by the TC Magmid Unit, Evart eventually found the portal to a hanger deck.  But to his right was an open door, and another Magmid standing in wait!

Evart breathed a sigh of relief when he realized that the unit was completely powered down.  Not wanting to leave any threats behind, Evart grabbed one of his detonation charges and affixed it to the robot’s hip.  One single blast rendered the Magmid useless, and all could’ve been well of the operative didn’t get greedy.  Scanning the machine, Evart believed there to be several salvageable parts, perfect for a cypher or two, buried within the Magmid’s housing.  Reaching deep within, Evart grabbed a hold of one, but accidentally set it off, throwing the operative against the wall.  Dr. Exeter and his trooper associate rushed to see what the disturbance was, but realized it was just Evart up to no good. 

"No more magmid," huffed Evart.  

The room ahead was full of stasis pods, and once Evart gave the all clear, Dr. Exeter and Karl followed.  The good doctor took a long and anxious breath and started to investigate the pods only to be surprised by their contents.  Everyone in the pods was alive and well!  Although still dormant after several subjective centuries, the Colonial mining and excursion corps was in remarkable condition.  One pod of the bunch seemed to be missing, but it didn’t take long to realize that it belonged to Karl Travers’.  The trooper recognized many of his friends and associates in this chamber, and started to grin.  There was still hope.

Karl identified two of the sleeping crew to be fellow security officers. Agreeing that a little extra muscle would be useful, Dr. Exeter started the process of waking one of Karl’s fellow troopers. But there was a glitch! Halfway through the process something began to shock the man as he awoke. Dr. Exeter immediately halted the procedure and looked up at both Karl and Exeter, but his teammates were staring at the door on the far side of the chamber. Someone, or something, was watching.

Evart approached the door, and on the opposite side saw an android with a soft, blue, smiling face.  The Terracorp officer recognized this form as a GAIA Sentinel, a walking manifestation of the Argos III’s artificial intelligence.  Evart opened the door and the team opened a dialogue with the sentinel.

In a nutshell: 

GAIA believed that the crewmembers of the Remora were EBE’s, extra-terrestrial biological entities, and wanted them to depart the Argos III.  Aware that it was a member of the Remora’s crew that had shut down the sector 2 sensor array, GAIA sent her avatar to investigate.  She also cautioned Dr. Exeter that she would rather end the lives of the forty-nine remaining workers in the bay rather than let "any more be taken."

This cause a slight change in the dialogue, as the team asked GAIA to clarify.  Only one-hundred and fifty-five crew members remained on board the Argos III.  Nearly two-hundred were taken by the EBE’s four years ago, and over two-hundred had died.  Again, GAIA asked the team to leave the vessel, as they were most clearly EBE’s, perhaps in a more "human" form.  Evart, Karl, and Dr. Exeter made several pleas with GAIA, but it came to an impasse.  The GAIA Sentinel was effectively barring the team access to the rest of the ship because she believed them to EBE’s.  But all of the equipment necessary to properly scan the party was in the habitation wheel of the Argos III.  Moreover, the only person who may have the ability to override GAIA would be the First Contact Consular still in stasis aboard the Remora, but in a broken pod that needed repairs.

That’s when Dr. Exeter produced his bio-scanner, showing it to the GAIA Sentinel.  Immediately, GAIA had a change of heart, and offered to take the crew to the Habitation Module for the scan.  Thinking this could be a trick, the party was at first reluctant until Karl reminded his teammates that this was what they wanted all along.  One by one, the crew of the Remora followed the sentinel to the transit tubes and set out for the habitation wheel. 
While the hanger wheel showed no signs of damage, laser burns, scorch marks, and bullet holes riddled the med-bay’s common area.  GAIA took Evart into an exam room first and her avatar produced a small probe.  After a quick scan, the android smiled.

"As the highest ranking Terracorp member on board this vessel, you are currently the ranking officer, Commander Crymouth," GAIA stated.

Evart, grinning ear to ear, proclaimed "Alright!"

"Promotion!" Karl concurred.  

GAIA proceeded to scan both the trooper and the doctor before explaining to Evart that he was the highest ranking officer left alive on the Argos III.  She then asked the party to oblige her in travelling to the other side of the wheel.  Once at a window, which revealed  the cool, red star Crimson in the distance, no longer eclipsed, the GAIA Sentinel seemed quite proud of herself. She explained that she had a hunch that the teammates were not EBE’s when the good doctor produced the bio-scanner. Pulling up a data slate, the sentinel showed the team the object that was regularly occulting Crimson.  

It was a massive creation, a series of reflective panels that was twice as wide as the star, but only covered one side of Crimson.

"No species that would produce such a device as this," she said pointing to the bio-scanner, "could ever be capable of producing a Shkadov Thruster."

The massive creation was essentially a giant sail that could move stars across the universe.  The EBE’s that captured the Argos III, abducted its crew, and removed its’ engineering section, had the capability to manufacture objects on a stellar scale.  GAIA offered to brief the characters further, and so Commander Crymouth and his team headed to the command center.

Although the party realized that over two hundred years had passed since they went into stasis, GAIA explained that this was only subjective time.  The actual date was 227332.043, the forty-third day of the year 227332.  After departing Jupiter, the Argos III headed out into the stars towards Tau Ceti at over a third the speed of light.  But during the trip, the Argos III encountered an unknown and uncharted singularity – a black hole – at such an angle that the vessel was pulled tight and then flung off towards the Small Magellanic Cloud at nearly light speed.  Although the ship only experienced two-hundred plus years in subjective time, nearly a quarter-million years passed on Earth.

Four years ago, when the Argos III was traveling at this velocity near a star in the Small Magellanic Cloud that GAIA would catalog as Crimson, the vessel hit a debris field.  This completely shredded much of the disk that acted as a deflection screen and aero-brake for the ship.  Soon nearby alien entities stopped the Argos III completely, without destroying the ship in such a tremendous change in velocity.  GAIA’s protocol required the Commander to be brought out of stasis, but by the time he could react, EBE’s were boarding the Argos III.  The Commander ordered GAIA to awaken more crew, but no one seemed to be able to stop the entities, which were injecting captives with forcefully with "light" and then carrying them off into their own craft, which resembled a small star.  Even the EBE’s themselves were just being of pure light, with no obvious humanoid form.  The crew could do nothing to stop the EBE’s, so the Commander started spacing entire sections of the vessel, venting them out into the void. GAIA explained that the EBE’s were not seen killing any of the crew, and that all deaths had been caused by the Commander’s actions.  His last action was to vent the forward hanger, which housed the three Remora craft, in the hopes that this would blast the Argos III away from the EBEs.  Some of the crew was trying to abandon ship, carrying stasis pods into this forward hanger and into the Remoras when this happened.  

It would be Commander Merrick's last action, as he too was carted off by the EBE’s.

GAIA finished the status report by telling the team that the Argos III was functional and in fair condition, but could use repairs.  The craft had enough supplies and equipment to sustain the crew for the rest of their lives, and if the water reclamation units could be repaired, even the remaining one-hundred and fifty five in stasis.  The engineering section of the Argos III, however, was detached by the EBE’s and placed in a parking orbit around Crimson a, the planet nearest to the red dwarf, over fifteen astronomical units away.  Without this unit, the Argos III could not leave the Crimson system.

Commander Crymouth and his team had a decision to make.  While they could stay and live out their lives in orbit around Crimson b, it would be a terrible life. T he EBE’s could possibly return, if not for the Argos III, for the planet itself.  A scan on the Shkadov Thruster showed that the device was over four Jupiter masses, and that the debris nearest to Crimson was probably remnants of several large planets that the EBE’s cannibalized for materials.  No, the Argos III needed to leave this system.  After devising a plan, Commander Crymouth ordered the ship’s remaining psychiatrist decanted so that he could help break the news to the tech officers. T his would allow the necessary repairs to happen.  The Argos III was going to depart for a four-year mission to Crimson a, and hopefully reattach the engineering section so that they could leave this nightmare behind.


With any luck, the EBE’s would just let them go.


Quotes



"It's probably just an umbrella." - Marc wasn't worried about the eclipse.

"It's a great big stormy cloud of not wanting us to live." - Marc knows exactly what the threats of my games are.  

Jim - "You wouldn't recognize any of them anyway, they really are the lowest class people on the ship."
Jeremy - "Hey Karl, do you recognize any of these people?"

"Don't forget, if we wake them up, we have to feed them." - Andy was worried about all those stasis pods.  

"Warm liquid goo phase, beginning." - Marc reflecting on classic cinema during the stasis pod decanting.

"Maybe they took them someplace good?" - Dr. Exeter felt like maybe the EBE's were good guys.  

Andy - "We have a diplomat aboard our ship."
Marc - "It'd be like ants trying to communicate with the people in the house they are infesting."

"I think the date is irrelevant to our survival.  Year 1 of the Crymouthian Calendar" - Andy decided that the Two-Hundred and Twenty-Seven Thousandth Century sounded longwinded.  



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.