Monday, December 30, 2013

After Zenna: The Last Eight Years

3792- The Battle of Zenna. Lurton falls to the Haldrax, who retreat back into the void of space. With the help of the Providence, Andrew Hey overthrows the Kanger government and establishes the Heyson Republic. He is quickly elected President of Heyson.

3793- The Cleansing. Sin is purged of its criminal warlords, and renamed Providencia in honor of the hero ship of the rebellion. President Hey declares a war on gangs, and puts the idle Heyson Military in the streets. Old gangs fall, but progress is slow and bloody.

3794- Disarmament. President Hey and his government pour trillions of credits into the War on Crime. Hey backs a law that bans the possession of battle-dress and electric combat armor, as well as heavy weapons like man-portable artillery. The military spends the year rounding up almost all high-tech battle armor in Heyson space. In response to the crackdown, whole worlds riot. They call President Hey a tyrant and plan to replace him in the next election.

3795- Reform. With elections scheduled in one year, Hey needed to turn his image around. To calm the fears of tyranny in the public, Hey drafts the Demilitarization Act of 3795. The Army and the Navy are heavily reduced. Battle Dress is retired, and combat armor is reserved for special forces units. The excess money goes towards the restructuring of the education and health care systems. While this is going on, the government quietly retreats from the War on Crime.

3796- Elections. Hey wins by a narrow margin. His policies continue. Colonists are sent to Micallo to rebuild.

3797- Economic Slide. New gangs surface. Old companies fall, and new ones rise. Most worlds fully recover within two years.

3798- Gubrox Incursion. Providencia his hit by a full-scale Gubrox invasion. The Heyson military is completely unprepared for battle against such a numerous foe, and it takes months to push the Gubrox off the planet and out of the orbit of Providencia. Conservative citizens blame the recent demilitarization acts for the fiasco. The humiliation discredits the federal military, and many planets resort to hiring Private Military Companies for protection.

3799- Future Frontier. With elections a year away and Hey gunning for a third term, government funds are poured into new scientific fields. Androids become cheaper and more available to the general public. Gene-splicing gives rise to fabulous new medicines, but also disturbing and illegal bodily alterations. The old and defunded scout program is replaced by the Cosmic Exploration Service (CES) and given the goal of contacting new alien allies.

3800- Now. Last month Heyson and Altrani ambassadors met in a peace summit. Trade and defensive treaties are discussed, but tensions from the last war still remain. Meanwhile, strange radio signals are being received from every corner of Heyson's stellar boarders. Federal elections are 10 months away. Hey wants a third term, but is being challenged by a young Kanger. As all of this is going on, an old crew reunites in a Zenna hospital to say goodbye to a dying friend...

Final Summer Sessions

In the chaos of preparing to leave for my freshman year of college, I neglected to update the blog with the last few sessions of the summer. Sorry about that. This is a summery of events that occurred after session 6. My memory is foggy so as a result they may not be in chronological order.

Escape from the Crystal Mountain: Dunlap was an evil assassin and master of disguise. He was hunting Halic Still for a mysterious and massive bounty. The crew shot him with many bullets after he monologued for too long. Then they ran from an evil crystal giant. Once on their ship, they blasted him apart. The dust that he left behind was used to coat their ship with armor.

Street Racing: Kevo Bandalin bought a tricked-out car and took it to the streets of Sin. When he lost, he pulled a gun on the thugs that bested him. They responded by pulling out their own guns. In a panic, Kay throws one of Kiki's bombs under a nearby car and takes off running. Unfortunately, he knows little about bombs, and pulls the trigger too quickly. The resulting explosion tares him apart and scares away the gang.

Dax's Own Odyssey: Dax goes to Micallo to seek revenge against his rival, Garry Morrison. He scares the dude to near death, and is compensated with an intelligence boost and a gravity hammer.

Drug Growth on Chem: The crew fits out Providence to go undersea for some drug ingredients. While Dr. Harrison harvests the goods in a reef, he is met by a large sea creature. Dr. Vespers shoots the beast apart, then fears legal consequences.

Fall of Micallo: A huge Gubrox warship raids the mining planet of Micallo. The crew helps the military bring down the ship, and saves a mother and her young daughter in the process. The dying warship plunges straight towards Micallo city. After a fierce debate, the crew rushes to the surface to save Captain Meade, who was busy recruiting in the city. With him they also save Clifford and a mysterious young man with grey hair. As they pull out for a hasty atmospheric jump, the little girl glows green. The ship takes on this glow, and suddenly teleports into the orbit of Zenna. The girl is reduced to ashes. Kevo and Dax drop her mother off on Zenna with alcohol and a handgun.

Looting of Micallo: Dax thaws out an Altrani slave in stasis, who in return promises Dax his life. His name is Quel'thalar, but he offered to shorten it to Quel. Dax further shortens it to "Q." Dr. Harrison finds a blue monkey alien. The crew finds the wreckage of a Flash Cola ship, with coordinates leading back to a factory on Zenna.

Investigation of Flash Cola: Kevo and Kiki go into the factory on  the pretense of government inspectors. They go for a tour along with a group of Elementary school students. Kevo sneaks away from the tour and is captured. Kiki takes the kids hostage and demands cakes and other crazy things from the factory security. The rest of the crew sneaks into the factory from the back and find an evil nanobot laboratory underneath, as well as several captives. Kevo is interrogated via torture. The crew's new Asian friend riles up some of the captives and sends them into a frontal assault on the factory. During the confusion, everyone escapes.

Backup for Uncle Bartholomew: Uncle Bart went broke when a space gang stole his new matter disintegrator weapon. Except they didn't, its all a trap set up by Barry to capture Halic and the Providence. The crew triumphs, but sacrifices their new Asian friend to escape Barry's fortress of death. Kevo finds a pocket nuke and rejoices.

Battle for Zenna: Lurton has fallen to the mysterious crystalline aliens, the Haldrax. Fortunately the alien fleet was crippled in the battle, but due to the loss of the capital the Kanger government had to be relocated to Zenna. The mysterious man rescued by the crew contacts the Providence for one final mission. He reveals himself to be the rebellion leader Andrew Hey, ancestor of Alexander Hey, who dismantled the Old Dominion and whose son established the Heyson Confederacy. Providence's mysterious green inner structure is revealed to be a large-scale psiplate construct. It allows a psion to sacrifice all of his life energy to teleport anywhere instantly, and can create a travel bubble large enough to transport a fleet. Hey wants to use this to strike into the already-crippled Heyson Fleet, and is willing to sacrifice his life to do so. Fortunately for him, Providence is carrying another Psion, Thatcher the Badger. The two use their energy to take the rebel fleet straight over Zenna. The battle initially goes well, until the government reveals their secret weapon: the nanobots in the Flash Cola turn all civilians on the ground into bloodthirsty zombies. The crew tracks the nanobot signals to a main tower, and Kevo uses his pocket nuke to blow it up.

Immediate Aftermath: The crew of Providence go their separate ways. Thatcher retires on Cos, hoping to recharge his spent psionic power. Dax becomes a bounty hunter with his Altrani servant. Dr. Vespers hooks up with a hot and mysteriously wealthy young girl, and soon afterwards sets up a very nice medical facility. Dr. Harrison becomes a respected scientist with his monkey assistant. Kevo returns to Sin and is elected governor. Kiki goes off with Halic to find new kinds of explosives. Halic Still stays on the Providence, with the simple drive to keep on flying.

Edit: Somewhere along the way the crew got a robot butler. And Kevo had sex with a gubrox.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Session 6: No One Expected Jet's Head to Explode

Best In-Game Quote: When someone says that people called him mad, that right there is a red flag.

The crew had a month to kill before the expedition. They decided to spend their first few days indulging themselves. As they prepare to set out, they are met by Thatcher the Badger, ready to rejoin the crew. With their numbers grown, the crew sets out for fun. Searching for a fight club on Sin, they discover an underground Shock Hobo Fighting Federation. Jet steps up to challenge the various heavyweight hobos. Eventually the crew starts fighting each other, and afterwards stumble into bars. This is what follows-

Kay saves the life of a Heyson agent. He doesn't know how or why.

Kevo once again saves Uncle Bartholomew's life. He is now his uncle's double favorite nephew.

Jet wakes up overdosed on drugs. After he promised never to take drugs again.

Dr. Vespers wakes up in Providence's cargo bay with a fancy sports hover-car.

Kiki wakes up in a tour bus. A rock band thanks her for helping them with groupies and gives her an autographed guitar.

Halic spent the night fighting people in the streets and ended up in jail. Unfortunately, he's on Sin, meaning that he needs to bribe the police to go free. Originally the "bail" was set at 120,000, but Halic was rude to the crooked cop and the price got raised to 150,000. Halic curses the man, gets his gear, camps outside until the cop leaves, and discreetly shoots him dead.

The crew trains for a few weeks before going to Zenna to get Dax. Dax was successful in getting back what his rival stole from him: an expensive mind-enhancing chip and an old gun. The crew quickly turn the ship around and head back to Sin for the professor.

On the third day in jump space, the crew wakes up with mild headaches. After a quick medical scan they disregard the headaches and continue on as normal. They all go to sleep that night as usual, but mysteriously wake up on the ship's bridge. All of their computer systems are down,  and the crew are all in their sleeping clothes. Arming up in the ships lockers, they proceed towards their rooms. This is what they find-

Halic: The ghost of Barbosa, whose ship he stole.

Kiki: A member of her rival gang, the Acids.

Jet: His sister zombified.

Kevo: A giant panda (a reference to an ODnD dungeon).

Thatcher: His deceased friend Saxon, a martial artist who eschewed technology in favor of his own body.

Kay: A bug-like alien (a reference to SC2).

Dr. Vespers: His insane rival, Dr. Mercy (complete with a poison-dart gun).

In addition, the crew finds their own physical selves sleeping in their beds. All attempts to wake themselves up fail.

After defeating their nightmares, the crew goes down to the cargo bay. Fighting past a demonic Gabriel, they see a miniature storm brewing over the Prophet.They do a breach into the passenger section and encounter passive reflections of all the people that they recently killed. Breaching into the cockpit, they find a young woman in combat armor sleeping in the pilot's chair. She has a metal band around her head. When Thatcher touches his mysterious black amulet to the band, the illusion shatters and the crew wakes up in their beds.

Kay spearheads the rush to the Prophet. When he opens the cockpit door, he is blasted back by a wave of psionic energy. The woman is fully awake and wielding deadly mental powers. Jet deals massive damage to her, but she is able to use a mixture of regenerative and shielding powers to stay alive. Jet believes that the situation has become hopeless and seals himself in the cockpit with the woman. Taking out a simple spoon, he scoops out his camera eye. Suddenly, a massive explosion engulfs the cockpit.

Apparently Jet had a "nanobomb" inside his head. The crew doesn't know much except that for some reason he was being monitored through the eye and the bomb was put there to prevent Jet from resisting. The blast kills both Jet and the woman. The rest of the jump is uneventful, and when the ship lands on Sin, Halic uses Jet's blood to paint a small memorial on the hull of the ship.

The crew gathers the professor and Dunlap (whose success on Sin rewarded him with battle dress and a 50-cal. rifle). As they leave Sin, they find a drifting escape pod. Inside is Dr. Harrison, a buff scientist who has been cryo-frozen for nearly 500 years. He decides to stay with the crew. Their jump to the mysterious planet is uneventful. When they get into normal space, the crew encounters a small Gubrox ship. Expert shooting from Kevo and Halic brings the ship down.

The professor guides the crew to the excavation location. To get there, they need to navigate through a tunnel system inside of a large mountain. While inside they encounter dangerous predators. They resemble killer whales in size and appearance, but have four strong legs and skin made to mimic the surface of the cave. Using their Armored Fighting Vehicle (known as Jericho), the crew gets plows through the monsters and discovers a crystalline wall surrounded by a cluster of buildings. To their disappointment, the crew finds that the buildings are actually just a human mining camp that was abandoned a few years ago.

The professor completely ignores the buildings. He begins digging in the dirt, excavating some sort of round crystal symbol a few feet in diameter. The symbol looks like a crescent moon. Unfortunately, the professor's mental health starts to deteriorate rapidly. He speaks in confusing and paranoid sentences, much to the annoyance of Halic. He briefly threatens the crew and then proceeds to dig small random holes around the symbol.

At the same time, Kay finally decodes an encrypted transmission that he found a few days ago. It is a warrant for the arrest of the professor, who killed a colleague at Zenna University. When prompted about the message the professor goes totally nuts, screaming at everybody. Suddenly, a gunshot goes off. The professor's chest explodes instantly. The crew turns around to see that Dunlap took the matter into his own hands and shot the maniac.

We cut off right after this happened.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Session 5: No One is Surprised to be Ambushed by a Space-Lion

In-Session Quote: "Ya know, I think that Nazi zombies kinda sullied the name of the Nazis."

At the conclusion of the last session, Dax goes off on a solo mission to take out his rival, Garry Morrison. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew regroup with the Red Dogs, who have set up a training camp outside of Micallo City. Their hunt for information was unsuccessful, but they promise to provide aid whenever their services are needed.

With a ship full of drugs, the crew heads to planet Sin. In jump-space, they encounter a bizarre pirate ship (an actual sailing ship). After a quick expedition the crew adds to their inventory several antique weapons, clothes, and tools. They plan to find a good museum to sell it all to.

The crew faces a second and more dangerous encounter later in jump-space. Kevo awakes one night to find the battle-drone Gabriel wandering into the cargo bay. Kevo hears a sharp noise; Beep. Beep. Beep... When Kevo goes to inspect the him, a bomb strapped to Gabriel explodes, destroying his gun. Kevo quickly wakes the crew, and a manhunt is orchestrated room by room. While they are inspecting the low-birth (cryo) room, they are blasted with a powerful grenade. Kevo runs outside to face the grenadier, and it attacked from above.

An invisible force crushes down on Kevo. The crew watch in horror as massive claw marks appear on his chest armor. Jet swings his massive energy blade above Kevo, revealing a fearsome figure in black and blue battle dress. He fights with glowing energy claws and wears a lion-like mask. In epic close-quarters combat, the crew work to pierce the stranger's armor (Kiki's plasma rifle does the best). When Jet is knocked unconscious, Halic herds the crew back into the low-birth room and seals the door. Moments later-

Beep. Beep. Beep... The crew huddles in the corner as an energy blast obliterates the door. Luckily, the blast also damaged the stranger. His mast falls away to reveal an actual lion's face! An expert shot by Halic brings down the man-beast. Kiki proceeds to behead the creature. Then, the armor glows bright blue.

Beep. Beep. Beep... The crew flees the ensuing blast, which melts the low-birth room and destroys all traces of the lion-man. A quick evaluation of the ship ensures that no more predators are hunting the crew. Halic hypothesizes that the stranger came aboard from the pirate ship. The fact that he was a lion-man doesn't seem to phase the crew.

Finally, the crew reaches Sin. They sell the drugs for 200.000 and buy more seeds. Kevo takes advantage of Sin's liberal markets and buys materials to create suitcase and gas bombs with Kiki. The crew attends a convention hosted by the followers of Ooba-Mai. The contents of that convention will be posted at a later date, but long story short Kevo is tranquilized, Halic gets wasted, and Jet befriends a priest named Father Julian.

The next day, Kevo is contacted by his wealthy Uncle Bartholomew. Bartholomew tasks the crew to deliver combat drugs to war-torn planet Don. The crew accepts when promised a lucrative reward. Kevo also places an order for nerve gas from Bartholomew's scientists. On their way to jump space, they encounter a strange man named Dunlap in an escape pod. He claims to be an expert sniper and requests only minimal pay. The crew allows him to stay for now.

The jump is uneventful. When they reach the planet's outer space, they are harassed by a ship belonging to Don's rival planet, Ton. Kevo  suggests that they bribe the ship to get an escort. The crew accepts, and they head closer to the planet. One massive lie later gives them an even better escort directly to orbit (Ton currently controls the orbit around Don). The crew lands to find a heavily-damaged starport. Soldiers help unload the drugs. While this is happening, the station is subject to a bombing run by fighters.

Providence has the only functioning guns in the area. Kevo jumps into the top turret and blasts away at the fighters. When the ship is fully unloaded (and the crew fully paid) Providence shoots up into the air. When they reach their old escort in orbit, they are prompted as to whether or not the President safely made it to the ground. They successfully go along with the lie and escape the deadly war zone.

The crew returns triumphantly to Uncle Bartholomew. They are now significantly richer and finally respected by the rich tycoon. Kevo buys two massive kegs of nerve gas from the Bartholomew. They disguise the old low-birth room as a pantry and hide the kegs behind the wall.

Back on Sin, they repair their ship. While that is going on a strange old man known as Professor Humphrey approaches them with a dangerous expedition to Gubrox space. Apparently, his old university colleagues declared him to be mad and the Scouts were too frightened by the threat of the Gubrox to take up his work. The crew accepts his mission in the hopes of finding riches (or at least a contact through which to sell their pirate swag). The expedition is scheduled to depart in one month. Dunlap leaves the ship to make some money on Sin, promising to return for the expedition. The crew plans to get Dax back before departing.

Also, my players wanted the link to this-

Open-Source material that they can use in my game if they wish. As long as they let me know ahead of time.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Session 4: Marines and Molemen

Favorite In-Game Quote:
"Do I hear anything while I'm in the ambulance?"

The session begins with the Providence heading to Zenna to sell the crystals. They make five million credits off the deal, and promptly go on a shopping spree. The crew spends a week getting various implants and other future swag. After a gambling adventure goes bad, Kay stabs into a pair of conjoined twins. They are split into two separate people and vow revenge on the violent Asian.

A conflict erupts between Halic and Jet that results in gunfire. Dr. Vespers stops the fight with cryo-grenades, and the crew holds a therapy session for the two combatants. The situation is further complicated when priests of Ooba-mai show up looking for converts. Eventually Halic and Jet reach an uneasy peace, and the ship heads out for planet Senra, where they hope to rescue a Micallo official's wife.

When they arrive in Senra space, they are hailed by a signal probe that marks Senra as restricted Heyson military space. Unfortunately, they forgot to fill up their fuel tank before departing Zenna. They are forced to head into restricted space. Orbiting the planet they find a large warship in the process of bombarding the planet with nuclear missiles. After some quick introductions, the crew is informed that they will be able to get fuel and the wife if they help take the capital.

Suddenly they are hailed by a resistance fleet hiding out in Senra space. The fleet is lead by the Planetary Defense Force Commander. He petitions Providence for its assistance in taking down the warship. After some deliberation, the crew sides with the rebels.

The battle begins in a flash of laser fire. Providence's lasers bounce off of the warship's armored hull. After one useless volley, the Providence crew decides to attempt a boarding action. Skilled piloting by Kiki locks the ships together. The rebel fleet focuses their fire on the opposite side of the ship .

The boarding party consists of Halic, Jet, Dax, Kevo, the battle-bot Gabriel, and the medic-bot Raphael. In a long corridor, they meet three marines in battle dress (power armor). The battle is long but eventually the party takes down the three marines. Meanwhile Providence is targeted by fast-intercept fighters in addition to nearby turrets.

After hearing several massive explosions, the boarding party calls for evac. Providence retreats, taking heavy fire from the warship. Fortunately, the rebels were able to take out the warship's maneuver drive and fuel tank, sending the ship spiraling into the planet. Once the battle is over, the PDF Commander escorts the crew down to the starport.

On the way, the crew spots the massive capital building, with what looks to be a large battle raging within it's courtyard. Halic, Dax, and Kevo jet-pack down. They see that marines in drop pods have taken over the capital building. The PDF forces cower in fear under the wreckage of broken tanks. Halic lands on the courtyard's central statue and draws most of the enemy fire. Dax lifts a marine high into the air, drops him, and then curb-stomps his leg in twain. Kevo takes a critical shot in the gut. Luckily, his suit is able to keep him alive long enough for the PDF forces to evacuate him.

Meanwhile, Kay, Jet, and Dr. Vespers ride with the PDF Commander in his grav-carrier (a hover gunship). Dr. Vespers sports new battle dress (looted from the boarding attempt). With the g-carrier's fusion gun, Dr. Vespers guns down several marines. Unfortunately, Jet is shot point-blank from a machine gun and takes critical wounds in his upper body. After two tries, Dr. Vespers is able to get his heart pumping again. Dr. Vespers heads back to the ship with Jet and Kevo for emergency surgery.

Kay takes over the fusion gun, taking out the last of the outdoor marine forces. Halic pursues one survivor into the capital, with the rest of the crew on his tail. He finds three marines attempting to bash down a door in a waiting room. In the ensuing battle the marines' leader is killed and the two survivors surrender.

Halic opens the door to find the governor in his office, surrounded by cowering aids and a fat man with a beard. The fat man identifies himself as Mr. Whittmore, a broadcaster wanted by the Heyson government for exposing a conspiracy on the occupied Altrani planets. Halic and Dax recover the wife, who was working as a secretary to the governor.

The crew spends a week on Senra, repairing, refueling, and rearming. During that time they are approached by a starport mechanic, who informs them of something odd about their ship. Apparently there is some sort of extra layer of metal around the structure. The metal is a dark green color and bears scratchy runes. The crew doesn't recognize the strange material.

As a reward for their part in the Battle for Senra, the crew is gifted with an Armored Fighting Vehicle, courtesy of the PDF. They name it Jericho.

On the way back to Micallo, the crew encounters a bizarre cylindrical ship. Messages from the ship appear to be in some sort of Morse Code. When they dock with the ship, they find that it is filled with dirt. As they begin excavating, the crew encounter strange mole-like aliens half the height of men. The creatures lack eyes and attempt to communicate with the crew by tapping code with their long nails. Dax hates them right off the bat and attempt to throw one out the airlock. The rest of the crew defend the mole-aliens and depart from the ship. As the mole ship departs safely from jump-space, the crew gets a final signal: "Dumbasses." Dax gloats for the rest of the trip.

On Micallo the crew reunite the long-distance couple. As promised, the official reveals Corvak's file. The are owned by a larger company and have only ever registered one ship: Blue Iron. The parent company is revealed to be the Flash Cola Company, makers of Heyson's most popular non-alcoholic beverage. The crew plans to go after Dax's rival Garry Morrison in the next game.

Jet sells his awesome combat photos for 20,000 credits.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Session 3: Tricks, Traps, and a Broken Camera

Favorite In-Game Quote: I think that thug is playing League of Legends.

Favorite In-Game Joke:
This is highway robbery!
You have four million credits.
No! I only have three million!

In the previous session the players agreed to clear out an asteroid mine for the Corvak Mining Company. Apparently, the mine was taken over by thugs. The players head to Micallo to meet up with the other hired mercenary group, the Red Dogs. Their leader Captain Meade gives the crew the specs of the mission and even trades over a man from his team: K'Shaw McMellon.

Horrible strife erupts during the journey to the mine when Jet's camera and pictures are destroyed. He vows to kill everyone aboard the ship. Gabriel is put outside Kevo's room, since Jet knows that he destroyed the pictures.

After a jump journey the crew arrives in the asteroid field. The mine is actually two separate buildings that meet up inside the asteroid. Providence takes one building, the Red Dogs the other. On the upper level of the building the crew finds no sign of life. In fact, they don't find any sign of use; the facility looks brand new. The crew eventually finds the lift and heads down into the mine.

In the mine the players find a half-mad mercenary from the old group that failed to clear the mine. He claims that this place is more of a training camp than a mine. Suddenly, a gunshot cuts through the darkness and kills him. At the same time, the lift is de-powered. The crew is attacked by ten wild men in black leather. These men are under the influence of combat drugs and wield terrifying chain-axes. The crew manages to fight off the initial attack, and proceed further into the mine.

After overcoming explosive mines, a heavy machine gun turret, and an ambush, the crew meets back up with the Red Dogs, who have taken significant losses. Luckily, Dr. Vespers is able to save the fattest of the group, Clifford. Pushing forward, the crew finds the control room for the mine. A huge man flanked by two alien canines and two more goons stares at a computer. After some quick gun action, the crew takes out the hostiles. They find the controls to the lift and a message from a mysterious employer. Identified only as  R, he wanted the gang to hone their skills on the mercenaries and then report back to a factory with more "subjects".

Disappointed that they are getting no pay and eager for revenge, the crew heads back to Micallo. Their request for information on Korvak is denied by the government. Luckily, one of the officials will give them information if they find out where his missing wife is. She should have moved to Micallo from Senra a month ago.

As the crew prepares to leave, Kevo heads out for a shopping trip. He meets with a shady man in an alleyway to see about buying illegal goods. The man turns out to be a mugger and nearly robs Kevo of his entire fortune. Luckily, Kevo always packs his massive gauss rifle. The police arrest him moments later for shooting a man in an alleyway with a high-powered rifle. A quick bribe earns Kevo his freedom.

On his way back to the ship Kevo encounters a fat old priest who claims to know Halic. Kevo guides the man onto Providence. In the commons area of the ship, the crew assemble to meet this mysterious man. The encounter turns violent when the man shoots a stun dart at Halic. His armor protecting him, Halic leaps forward and delivers a hard kick to the priest. The priest's form shimmers, revealing a man in full body armor.

An intense battle follows. Bullets ping off of the man's advanced suit. The stranger jumps to the ceiling with a jet pack and released deadly TDX grenades. Kiki is thrown within an inch of death. Dax jet-packs up to the ceiling and Dr. Vespers wall-climbs with mag-boots. After a fierce struggle, Dax and Dr. Vespers begins to push the stranger out of Providence. The stranger is so confident in his armor that he detonates the grenades on his belt, knocking out Dr. Vespers.

Meanwhile, Halic and Kay head out to the Prophet. After more wrestling the stranger and Dax end up outside of the ship. Halic flies the Prophet overhead and Kay liquefies the stranger with the plasma cannon, also known as the Hand of the Prophet.

The police arrive soon after, and inform Halic that they'll look into this attack. The Red Dogs plan to stay on Micallo to get more information on Korvak. Providence departs to find the official's wife and sell the expensive crystals that they got from their last adventure.

A list was made of things that Kevo is never allowed to do.
1. Buy a pocket nuke.
2. Go out alone on a planet ever.
3. Annoy Jet.
4. Perform surgery.
5. Interrogate prisoners.
6. Talk to anyone of authority.
7. Produce drugs- Only sell them (maybe).
8. Unauthorized commerce.
9. Allow anyone else onto the ship.
10. Carry more than 50k credits at one time.

He insists that the crew will need a pocket nuke at some point in the future.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Systems Check

This is the first RPG system that my gaming group has used that doesn't rely on the d20. As far as I can tell,  everyone has transitioned well. Combat is fast, explosive, and doesn't require a grid. This system is easy to play.

Something to note: when I say that the system is easy to play, I mean that the basic mechanics are not hard to grasp. My group got going with the system after only a few hours. Is the system easy to play CORRECTLY? Hell no.

It took me three characters before I actually rolled up a guy correctly. My first two attempts I thought were successes until I found a hidden rule that states when you roll X, you then roll on table Y and then proceed to Z. I am still clarifying rules, and I've run two six-hour sessions and flipped through the rule book for ten days. Would you believe that the book is about a centimeter thick?

Rules that we missed/misinterpreted/madeupstuffupfor in our first two sessions-

1. The d66. This is for tables used by the DM. Roll one for a number in the 10s place, the other for the number in the 1s place. Found in one sentence on the third page of the introduction.

2. Jumps. Already discussed this in the blog's introduction. Not changing now.

3. Gun ranges. Apparently you have a penalty for shooting a hunting rifle at an alien standing a foot away from you.

4. "Effect of the roll". If you roll higher than what was required, you get benefits. Probably would have helped the aliens trying to claw their way into Dax's armor.

5. Ship damage. Actually handled in a way similar to Warhammer 40k. Previously I was just rolling a bunch of damage and saying that something broke off.

6. Benefit rolls. It's not totally clear what your choices are when you roll "armor" or "weapon". We set a tech level cap of 12.

7. Manufacturing and selling drugs in space. There weren't actually rules for this, but their should have been. If there are illicit drugs on the random cargo table, there needs to be rules for getting more drugs.  

8. Maintenance and fuel. My group thought that owning a spaceship wouldn't cost anything. They were wrong.

9. Grenades. What happens when you miss? I'm using the scatter die from Warhammer 40k.

10. Camo cloaks. Doesn't automatically turn you invisible. You actually have to roll the dice.

11. Auto fire. Auto 4 doesn't actually give you four shots.

12. Burst fire. I don't think the players even know that this exists.

13. Jump distances. Back to how bad I messed up jumping. The ship actually needs to move away from the sun of a system for over a day before it can safely jump.

14. Death. It's the future. They have defibrillators. If only we could figure out how to use them.

15. Currency. I know how much a pistol costs, but how much for a stick of gum? And by the way, why is power armor like 20 times more expensive than a nuclear briefcase?

Now, is this system fun? Yes! With a good group it can be a blast. Can it run smoothly? Yes! We were going smooth in our first session. Can it be run as intended? Yes!... With lots of effort. Is that required? No! The beauty of this system is that once you get going, you can do pretty much anything. Its not hard to improvise a game. With a halfway-decent DM, you can have all sorts of cool space adventures.

One of my favorite features of the system is that it has something for everybody. There are rules for doctors, explosives experts, engineers, thieves, computer-geeks, and much more. We have a photographer in our group. That was a career path. Unlike DnD (which I love by the way) where you are stuck in certain niches, this system lets you create a truly unique character.

If your gaming group is looking for a sci-fi RPG system, buy Traveller from Mongoose Publishing. It is balanced, it works will all levels of RPG experience, and it is super fun. I am looking forward to more games this summer!

Session 2: Gang Wars and Space Raptors

Favorite Pregame Quote: Let's hope that Dr. Vespers won't have to perform surgery on us.

At the conclusion of the last game the crew were on planet Zenna, turning in the criminal Zach Kurtz. After this is done, they do some modifications to Providence. One of the low-berth rooms is converted into a sick bay. A portion of the cargo bay is devoted to a hydroponics-based drug grower. A combat drone is purchased, designated Gabriel, and painted white with flaming guns.

Thatcher leaves Providence to deal with some personal matters. To help keep the drug operation going, he leaves Halic with his young distant cousin, Kay. Thatcher hopes that Halic will "show Kay the ropes". Kay was in the support division of the Heyson Marine Corps.

The crew then gets down to business. Halic suggests that they start selling drugs on planets with higher law levels and a lower supply of drugs. They hit the poorer district below the starport to see who's dealing the drugs on this planet. As it turns out, most organized crime on Zenna is run by the Mugs, a mega-gang led by a man known only as "Dog". The crew visits a drug dealer for the Mugs, which concludes with Halic ordering the dealer to let the gang know about his crew. The dealer agrees, but informs Halic that he probably won't get too much out of the gang with his current resources.

As the crew is returning to their ship, they notice a big man in dark clothing tailing them. They chase him into an alleyway and promptly knock him out. When they turn around, five gang members appear and fire on them. The crew wins the firefight and escapes before the police arrive. Before they leave, Dax kidnaps the pursuer and Halic writes a warning in a gang member's corpse with his knife.

After a few days, the gang member regains consciousness. After a scan of his body, the crew finds that he had a tracking bug on him. At the same time, the ship next to them on the starport is impounded for containing a catch of drugs. With these factors in mind, the crew decides to depart from the main starport. After the questioning of the prisoner goes poorly, Dr. Vespers kills him and preserves his organs.

The drug dealer had told them previously that they might have better luck selling more powerful drugs. He recommended "Ice", and intervenious mixture created with materials from planet Kem. The crew decide to take a trip to Chem and find out about this new drug.

In jump space, they discover a derelict science ship, the My Lai. On board, the crew find the murdered corpses of several scientists. The killers were massive jungle lizards that are still roaming the ship. In the archive room, they learn that the ship was on an expedition to 9114C, a jungle moon past the Asteroid Wall. The chief scientist did not respect the environment, and that cost him his own life as well as the lives of his crew.

The crew defeat the aliens on the main level with relative ease, including the mother. They also make off with a mover-mech, an MRI machine, and some rare crystals. Going to the cargo bay they find that the plants in the cargo bay have burst out of their containers and rooted their way up into the ship. Jet takes a picture. As his flash goes off, 14 of the alien creatures rise up and charge at the crew.

The crew retreats up the ladder to the main level. Halic and Dax cover their retreat. An epic zero-g battle with guns and explosives followed. Despite the efforts of the crew, the aliens pushed upward. Three aliens jump upon Halic and tear open his throat with their massive claws. Halic bleeds out. Dax pushes his body up to Dr. Vespers and holds off the aliens with his impenetrable combat armor. After more fighting, the aliens are defeated.

EDIT: Dax's character asked me to record the fact that he was injured in this session. Although the aliens could not penetrate his armor, he was banged up pretty badly by misfires and stray grenades from the crew.

Dr. Vespers immediately gives Halic a drug to slow his body's functions. Taking him back to sick bay, Vespers repairs Halic's throat using parts from the captured gang member. Vespers then wakes up Halic using a body-accelerating drug.

Eventually the crew reaches Kem. Jet fails to find buyers for his pictures. Dax tries unsuccessfully to sell the crystals, but learns that computer companies on Zenna would pay big money. During his quest, Dax fights off robbers with Dr. Vespers. His actions catch the attention of a nerdy businessman. The man contacts the crew and informs them that he represents the Korvac Mining Company. Their mine on the Asteroid Wall has been taken over by thugs. Since the last mercenary team was unsuccessful, Korvac is hiring two this time. The crew agrees to be one of the teams, and they head to Micallo to meet up with the "Red Dogs".

Due to a natural 20 role on a d20, one of those Red Dogs will be named Clifford.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Session 1: Heart of Darkness

Favorite Pregame Quote: In this game, if you go up against people with a lower technology level, you pretty much win automatically.

The campaign begins in a bar on a small metalworking planet. Bar flies drown themselves in cheap beer. On the television reporters discuss the disappearance of Zach Kurtz, a gang lord who stole several canisters of neuroplague. Halic Still, ex-agent of the Heyson government, is searching for a new crew. Halic recently stole a ship from a rival agent. Dubbed Providence, the ship is an old corsair model ship perfect for smuggling and adventuring.  These are the people that he found to man the ship-

Kevo Bandalin- Spoiled noble with a criminal record and a nice shuttle.

Jet Walters- Young photographer with a tragic past. Has a vintage camera.

Zex Vespers- Demented medical doctor.

"Kiki"- Explosives expert and pilot.

Dax Griffon- Once a member of both the Navy and the Merchant Marine, Dax was bankrupted by a fellow mariner. Great with turrets.

Dax's brother Hutch approaches Halic with a proposition. Hutch fought in the 2nd Altrani War a few years ago, and was left unemployed at the war's end. He tells Halic about an abandoned gubrox slave ship that crash-landed on a feral planet 10 months ago. He offers to lead them to it if he and his brother get a cut. Halic agrees, but distrusts the young veteran.

After a week of travelling through jump space, Providence reaches the orbit of a mysterious red planet. Quickly finding the crash site, the crew lands in a dense jungle with red foliage. The gubrox ship is mostly in pieces, with the exception of the front section. The crew heads their first. Pushing their way past the green-skinned gubrox corpses and mysterious crystalline corpses, they reach a door that still has power. When Halic opens the door, and a blast of cold air meets him. It seems that the bridge of the ship went into an emergency cryo-freeze during the crash. A massive gubrox corpse lies in the middle of the room. Scattered around are the corpses of several humans who perished in the crash. Suddenly, one of the human forms begins to stir. He is a tough-looking man with a revolver on his hip and a strange cylinder on his back.

Thatcher "the Badger", bad ass smuggler, wakes up after 10 months to find all of his companions dead. Barely batting an eye, he decides to join up with this new crew. When questioned about the cylinder, he replies that it was a plasma cannon wielded by the gubrox captain. He wants to get it fixed. With that, the crew sets off in search of the cargo bay.

Stuff that they find:
1. An ATV (that only Halic knows about).
2. Spare parts.
3. Spare electronics.
4. Spices.
5. A cheap drug known as "Buzz"
6. Gasoline

The crew split in two, one half guarding the loot, and the other half returning to the ship. On the way back they spot a humanoid creature in the bushes. The creature fires a red arrow at the party, which lands at Hutch's feet. A moment later, the arrow explodes, killing Hutch. The crew panics and rushes back to the ship. They discover four similar aliens near Providence. In the ensuing firefight three aliens are killed and one runs away. The party then discovers that some high-tech device has grounded their ship. They need to code to unlock the thrusters.

Using their shuttle, the crew reunites and pursues the surviving alien. Halic snipes the creature in the leg just as a similar creature runs up and attacks it. Disposing of the new creature, Halic brings the injured alien aboard. After a long interrogation, the crew gathers that these aliens are under the orders of some supreme god. The captive's tribe (the Ectgami) is at war with another tribe (the Afgami). The Afgami tribal chief has just been captured, and at sundown the supreme one will judge him for his supposed crimes against the Ectgami. The players release the alien with a small camera on his head.

The players watch as the ceremony begins. A bright light shines out of a make-shift temple, and a human in long robes steps forward. The crew recognizes him as Zach Kurtz, the renegade criminal who has been missing for several months. As the ceremony starts, the opposing tribe attacks. Seeing their advantage, the crew swoops down and decimate the Ectgami. A well-placed cryo-grenade by Thatcher freezes Kurtz in his tracks. During the battle, an Ectgami archer destroys the shuttle's left wing with a red arrow.

When the Ectgami are defeated, the chief of the Afgami thanks the crew for their timely arrival. He explains that Kurtz was after his black heart amulet, which gives the holder psychic visions of the future. Kurtz wanted to use it for evil. He goes on to say that the amulet has troubled him for decades. Thatcher offers to take it off of his hands, and the chief accepts his proposal.

Exploring the temple, the crew finds Kurtz's Pinnace. The crew decides to use the new vehicle in place of their damaged shuttle. They get the code to release Providence and depart from the feral planet. They head to planet Sin, the crime-center of Heyson. Thatcher has a plan to modify the Buzz he found. He dehydrates the plant, dubbing his new creation K-Buzz. The crew then contacts a few friends-

End-Game Actions:
1. Sell the shuttle for 5 million. As a part of the deal, Thatcher gets his plasma cannon attatched to the pinnace (now dubbed The Prophet).
2. Sell the K-Buzz. They got 250,000 for their supply. Their success inspires them to buy Buzz seeds and start a hydroponics lab on the ship.
3.  Kevo contacts his rich uncle Bartholomew. Bartholomew owns one of Sin's moons, and has turned the land into a drug plantation. Kevo hoped that his uncle would give him land to use to grow Buzz, but Bartholomew wouldn't offer anything without the promise of a generous cut. The crew leaves disappointed.
4. Private dealings. All of the players were running in and out of the room making backdoor deals. We'll see how that turns out.
5. The ship travels to planet Zenna to turn in Kurtz.

The Everfire Subsector

Year: 3792 AD

Location: 4th Quadrant, Scutum-Centaurus Arm, Luridus Segment, Everfire Sub Sector

Around 2400, humans discover the ability to travel through space using wormholes. Hundreds of ships set out to discover the galaxy. Eventually, colonist ships set out as well. One of these colonist groups was the Everfire Expedition, sent to explore and colonize the Luridus Segment, famous for its massive clusters of stars. Around 2600 ships settled in the planets surrounding the massive "Starstorm"; a collection of thousands of stars trapped together in an endless typhoon. The first planet to be colonized was dubbed Lurton. Over the next 500 years the colonization of the worlds was led by the Everfire Dominion, the official government of the sub sector.

Around 3100, disaster struck. Mysterious cosmic storms divided the galaxy. Wormholes still worked within the sub sector, but were unable to punch through to the rest of the galaxy. Everfire was effectively cut off from Earth. Chaos followed. Planets panicked and rioted. Suicidal attempts were made to break through the storms. Everfire was consumed in the flames of fear. To regain power, the Dominion government declared marshal law over the planets. Terror was replaced by tyranny.

Entering into the chaos were the Altrani. A proud race with ancient traditions, the Altrani inhabited an area of space adjacent to the Dominion. The two races were able to coexist for a few decades, but eventually disputes over boarder planets led to a massive war. For 25 years Everfire ran red with the blood of lost men. The war ended, not with peace, but with another war: a massive invasion of the sub sector by a violent and brutish race, the Gubrox. The humans and the Altrani were forced to put their battle on hold and join forces against the new threat. When the war ended, both forces were too depleted to turn upon the other.

In 3350 a rebellion against the Dominion began under the direction of Alexander Hey. Hey led a massive fleet to challenge the Dominion's hold of the sub sector. In the final battle of Lurton the rebels were victorious, but Hey was killed. His son founded what is now known as the Heyson Confederacy. Future leaders were unable to match the leadership of the Hey family, and the government's capacity to function suffered. The weakness of the government was fully exposed in 3600 when several planets seceded from the Confederacy, dubbing themselves "planet-states".

It was this weakness that the Kanger family jumped upon. Rich, charismatic, and respected, the Kanger family began to win high-ranking elected offices. In a few short years they controlled the office of the President. They turned the Confederacy into an illiberal democracy. On the surface, the people elected their officials, but in reality the money of the Kangers decided who would take office.

In 3770 the Second Altrani War began. It lasted 20 years, and cost a great deal of resources and men. Many soldiers were forced out of service after the war, causing rampant unemployment and a rise in mercenary and criminal activities.

The year is 3792. John Kanger was just elected for his fourth term as President of Heyson. Tensions rise as the outer planets begin to grow restless under Confederate control. Lawlessness and corruption are widespread. And on a small metalworking planet, a salty ex-scout sits in a bar, trying to scrounge together a crew for his "new" ship...

Friday, June 7, 2013

Why I Began the Odyssey

In my younger and more ignorant years I dreamed of becoming an astronaut. I was drawn to the infinite frontier of space, the hope of discovery, and the mystery of the unknown. Later, when I learned that astronauts don't go much further than orbit to fix telescopes, I dreamed of becoming someone slightly more important. And yet, there was still space. My childhood desires turned me into a sci-fi fanatic. Plastic space marines dot my room. Warhammer 40k and Starcraft books line my shelves. Serenity remains my favorite movie. The Borg remain my favorite villains of all time.

My friend David Oswald got me into Dungeons and Dragons about two years ago. This is his blog: Randemise I fell in love with the game. Inspired by his creative dungeons, last year I crafted my own one-shot adventure set on a spaceship controlled by orcs. The premise was that the characters had been captured by slavers, and that by sheer luck the slave ship was attacked by mysterious crystal-based aliens. In the fashion of the Elder Scrolls, the prisoners scrounged for weapons, armor, and gadgets as they battled through the ship. The game ended with the players inside the bridge as the ship crashed towards a mysterious  red planet. The whole thing took two sessions, and everyone seemed to have fun.

Last month David informed me that he had purchased a copy of Mongoose Publishing's Traveller RPG. He wanted me to run a game for our group. Our first game (the summery of which will be posted later) was fantastic. Although we had seven people (of various RPG experience) running characters and absolutely no practice with the system, the game ran much smoother than expected. By the end of it the crew had become a bad-ass group of space criminals. And so our summer space campaign began.

Some notes:

1. I created a homebrew setting. I did not know about the standard game setting, "The Third Imperium" when I ran my first game. I created my own universe and intend to keep it.

2. I modified some rules. By far the biggest change came from a misinterpretation of a rule that I looked up online before the first game. I use a hex map where each hex represents one parsec. Unlike the traditional Traveller RPG, however, there is no limit to the distance one jumps. What this means: I have a huge map, spanning dozens of parsecs. The players can travel anywhere in a week. The kicker: while they are in "Jump Space", random and mysterious things can happen. They could encounter aliens. Or a travelling trader. Or a ship from a past age. It's all up to the die. Unless I'm feeling creative.

3. My players like to be evil. If you don't want to read stories about kids sitting around a table pretending to grow space-drugs and murder rival gangsters, please stop reading. As a bit of added irony, all of the players' ships and robots are references to the Bible. Their ship is called "Providence".

4. Most of the group is going to different colleges this fall. The game will probably end with summer. If I continue running games at UF, I'll let you guys know.

5. This blog is mostly to record the events of the players so that they can later remember the fun that they had this summer. Occasionally I will add in thoughts on the Traveller system or on DMing. For any new DMs reading my blog, my stuff is fair game.

Your results may vary.