Monday, 18 March 2013

Secrets in Sulphur Session 3

Dylan was unable to make Session 3 of my Classic Traveller game, so I ran Chivers as an NPC.

Our cast of characters:
John – Boris Clapshaw, ex Army Infantry Sergeant
Jonathan – Riishaa Daanel, ex Marine
Dylan – Count Asenault “Chivers” Washington-Pipps, retired Marine Colonel
Chris – “Bunty” Staffburger, ex Marine Force Commander

Recap:
Session 1 is here and Session 2 is here.

Attempting to find "Bunty" Staffburger's lady friend, Selia, who has gome missing out on the sulphur flats of Por'via, Staffburger and his friends "Chivers" Washington-Pipps, Riishaa Daanel and Boris Clapshaw stumble across gem thieves, mysterious Vargr, fast and vicious alien life forms, and a buried shuttle craft crewed by the enigmatic Mi'yargin. The Mi'yargin's efforts to rescue Selia have resulted in her body being artifically sustained while her conciousness has merged with the Mi'yargin Collective. After ridding the shuttle craft of an infestation of vicious irrijari, the Mi'yargin take off from Por'via to rendezvous with their Nullship.

Game Play
Chivers and the guys make themselves as comfortable as they can in the methane atmosphere of the Mi’yargin small craft as it begins the long haul to Harrimol VIII, the Por’via System gas giant. Once there, the Mi'yargin intend to rendezvous with their Nullship, hidden in the ring system. Behind them, the Vargr freighter Akhska, which left Por’via about the same time as the Mi’yargin shuttle, is following a similar heading towards the gas giant. As yet, neither the party nor the Mi'yargin have been able to establish what its purpose might be.

Three days after leaving Por’via, the Mi’yargin shuttle is deep in the system of moons and rings around the large gas giant. The holographic projector in the Mi’yargin Second’s room shows the shuttle’s projected orbital track. It appears to intersect the track of a large, icy object within the ring plane.

As the shuttle begins to dip into the ring plane, Chivers and the guys are shown an image of the object they are closing with. While it appears to be an icy planetesimal, several hundred metres in diameter, the regularity of its shape and the smoothness of its exterior make it stand out as a possible artificial construct. As the ship draws closer, Clapshaw and Daanel make out what appears to be a rather regular shaped crater in the surface of the planetesimal. Very soon their suspicions are confirmed as the shuttle prepares to land within the crater – the crater is actually a docking bay and the planetesimal is the Mi’yargin Nullship.

With little fuss, the shuttle comes to rest in the docking bay and an ice-covered gantry extrudes from the docking bay wall to connect to the shuttle. Informed that they will have to make the crossing to the Nullship in vacuum, Clapshaw and Daanel point out that only they have sealed combat armour. Chivers and Staffburger are still wearing their combat environment suites which are fast reaching the end of their operational lives. The Second places a small, jelly-like blob on Chivers’ and Staffburger’s CES helmets. After a moment, the blobs spread out to envelope both men’s Environment suits. A type of nanotech, the blobs are programmed to form vacuum seals around objects they are placed upon.

After crossing the gantry, the party enter the Nullship. They discover a short corridor which leads to what looks like a subway car. There is a dull bronze-coloured half-globe on the wall of the car. Eventually, Staffburger discovers that the globe acts as both a communication device and a controller for the subway car. Quickly, he learns that he can call up a schematic of the Nullship and, by connecting two points on the schematic, direct the subway car across, and through, the ship. The interior of the Nullship, it seems, is in a state of fluidity, shaping and reshaping itself as required.

Meanwhile, Selia contacts them via the half-globe. She tells them that the Mi’yargin Collective from the Shuttle is in the process of reintegrating itself into the Collective of the Nullship. As this process will take a little time and a lot of attention and energy, the Collective request that the party deal with the potentially hostile ship that is now in final approach. Manipulating the half-globe, Staffburger is able to direct its point of view beyond the interior of the Nullship and spots the Akhska, the Vargr freighter, preparing to land near the shuttle dock. Staffburger is able to manoeuvre the subway car to a point near where the ship touches down. He also locates a series of spiracles that allow access to the surface from near-surface passages.

Soon, seven suited and armed Vargr leave the Akhska and head towards the shuttle bay. As soon as they pass over the Nullship’s horizon, Chivers, Daaeel and Clapshaw pop out of a spiracle directly under the Akhska while Staffburger continues to monitor the situation from the subway car. Clambering up the ladder to the main lock, Clapshaw discovers that the external hatch hasn’t been secured. Quickly cycling the lock, Clapshaw, Daanel and Chivers squeeze in and cycle through. They emerge in the ship’s suit room, much to the surprise of the Vargr guarding the lock. A sudden movement on his part sets Daneel and Clapshaw off, with fatal results for the Vargr. Daanel, Clapshaw and Chivers then quickly move to secure the ship. Another Vargr is found on bridge watch but he wisely surrenders.

By the time Staffburger makes it aboard, the Vargr expeditionary force is aware that something is amiss and is heading back towards the Akhska. While the Mi’yargin Nullship looks like a small moon, it lacks the mass to generate more than a fractional gravitational field so the Vargr are attempting to hurry across the surface while wearing magnetic boots to stop them achieving escape velocity. Chivers makes contact with the Vargr, inviting them to surrender while Daanel climbs up through the dorsal hatch to take up a firing position on the upper hull of the ship. While most Vargr living in Imperial Space in the RimWorlds speak a language called Gvegh – or one of several dialects derived from it, the Vargr that the party are currently engaged with speak Arrghoun – a much more ancient language. Consequently, not a lot of headway is made with negotiations until they discover that one of the Vargr speaks Trade Lingo, a pidgin version of Imperial Basic. Even this does little to resolve the stand-off, as the Vargr, having lost Charisma by losing their ship, can only regain Charisma by retaking the ship and suitably punishing the humans.

Daanel, from the upper hull, and Clapshaw, from the main hatch, are soon matching their gauss rifles against the laser rifles and accelerator rifles of the Vargr. With little cover on the surface of the Nullship, the Vargr are quickly over-matched and disposed of, leaving the party in control of the ship.

A short time later, the Mi’yargin Collective resumes communication with the party, still ensconced aboard the Vargr ship and trying to make sense of the ship's controls and computer which are all labelled in Arrghoun. The Collective offers its assistance. From fragmentary notes in a journal in a safe in the Captain's cabin, and from partially translated communications in the ship's log, the Collective gains the impression that the Vargr have come a long way, from Waystar in Cabria Subsector, on a mission for a "Lord Whipworm" - Aeroukh Doaengosra in Arrghoun. The Collective wonder if this "Lord Whipworm" might, in fact, be an old enemy of the Mi'yargin - the Danshihabi.

Expressing their gratitude and satisfaction with the party, the Mi’yargin produce the consignment of heavy metals they had promised for the party's aid against the irrijari. They also pass up any claim to the Vargr ship. While the party are debating how they will move the ship as none of them is a skilled pilot, the Mi’yargin indicate that, in return for the party undertaking to locate Lord Whipworm, and to bring such information as they can gather to a rendezvous with the Mi'yargin in the Yuar System in Cabria Subsector, they might be able to help. A long, sarcophagus-like storage container is added to the cargo pallet laden with the promised heavy metals. When Staffburger asks, rather plaintively, after Selia, the Collective indicate that her body is being remodelled to continue to live, but that her conciousness is becoming increasingly integrated into the Collective. Staffburger begins to doubt whether she will ever return to him.

After the cargo pallet is wheeled into the ship’s cargo bay, the party gather around to consider the sarcophagus, and what it might contain.