Fellow role-players, here are my notes for Session 5c.1 of my “Vortex” space opera campaign, which we played via Skype and an online dice roller on Sunday, 1 July 2012. We’re using Fantastic Adventures in Tabletop Entertainment (FATE) 3rd Ed.: Starblazer Adventures/Mindjammer and Bulldogs.
In one future, humanity has begun to colonize the Sol system, but environmental degradation, population pressures, and internecine conflict persist. The rediscovery of mystical abilities and open and official First Contact with galactic societies, themselves at war, threaten Terra’s very survival. Can heroes rise to the challenges?
-“Hector Chavez” [Beruk A.]-male Latin American Terran human, former spy and communications expert/engineer of the Appomattox
-“Chris McKee/Agent Prometheus” [Josh C.]-male Terran human cyborg, former sniper for the North American Aerospace Marine Corps. and eugenicists at Black Box Security Co.; onetime crewmember of the scout ship Blackbird
-“Jax” [Robin H.]-male human from the Asteroid Belt, vain space pirate and pilot of the Slipstream and Gryphon
-“Orion Starchaser” [Geoff C.]-male [humanoid alien] outcast, irrepressible mystic and adrenaline junkie
-“Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O.]-male Indian Terran “near-human” (bioengineered) xenobiologist, shadowed by scandal and confident in survival skills
>>”1 to 7 February 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” Sometime after the Appomattox repelled boarders near Atlanta and the explorers aboard the Blackbird returned to Earth from distant Oasis Station, a new band of travelers gathers at the orbital station of New Gdansk.
Hector Chavez and Jasmine arrive at the Lagrange-point torus habitat aboard another Starwind-class pleasure yacht in need of refitting and more crew. Hector calls his onetime “fixer” Max (short for Maxine) to find out about discreet shipyards and potential gigs. She sends the former spy to one Desmond Hogarth.
Jasmine and her boyfriend, fellow “Synth” Darcy, hope to find a safe homeworld for their people. But first, they want to stretch their legs (and tails) and get something to eat at the orbital city.
Meanwhile, Orion Starchaser continues hitchhiking across the galaxy. The blue extraterrestrial catches a lift with a Ru’ulok (heavy-gravity reptilian alien) trade vessel and is curious about Terrans. Orion disembarks at New Gdansk and is distracted by a shiny ship in space dock.
The yacht has also attracted the attention of Jax, a dashing space pirate whose single-person transport, the Slipstream, is berthed nearby. Jax’s interest is only heightened when Orion notices that the ship has Transit-capable (faster-than-light) engines. Humanity has only recently obtained this technology.
Hector and Jasmine emerge from the airlock and are surprised to meet self-important Jax and chatty Orion rather than a security squad. Hector is wary of their questions, but Jasmine is interested in talking with fellow nonhuman Orion.
Disgraced for some of his genetic research, Dr. Srinu Pahul takes a family shuttle into Earth orbit. He notices furry Jasmine and Orion talking and respectfully accosts the “Rakshasa.” The tiger-woman is flattered by the attention, and the group agrees to go with Dr. Pahul to a fancy restaurant.
Hector pointedly asks each of his new companions about their pasts and potential roles aboard the Gryphon. Srinu orders real steaks for everyone (and double for the “Uplifted” tigers). Jax and Orion ask for a tour of the ship, but Jasmine warns that Darcy is keeping watch, so they’ll have to wait.
Cautious Hector recounts some of his misadventures aboard the Appomattox, while Jasmine is happy to make new friends. Srinu says that he’d like to get away from Earth politics, and Jax is confident that he can pilot anything. Orion just wants new challenges.
After dinner, Hector and Jasmine introduce Srinu, Jax, and Orion to Darcy and take them aboard the Gryphon. Paranoid Hector doesn’t show them sensitive areas such as the armory, main engineering, or his quarters.
Jasmine and Darcy redecorate a large cabin with a jungle theme, while Jax demands the captain’s room. Dr. Pahul inspects the medical bay, and seeker Orion puts a disco ball in his cabin. They also discuss adding a swimming pool.
The refitting of the Gryphon is interrupted when proximity alarms go off. Hector scans and finds a robotic drone near the ship. Jax runs back to the Slipstream, and Srinu goes to his family’s shuttle.
Orion looks out a porthole and sees the unmanned probe. Jasmine offers to don a space suit and go outside, but Hector and Darcy recommend that she stay aboard. Possible enemies include law enforcement authorities, other smugglers, past marks, or racial supremacist or religious groups.
Hector wishes he had a proper electronics warfare suite, and Srinu begins maneuvering out of port. Jax is quicker, however, expertly maneuvering the Slipstream between the probe and the Gryphon. He bumps the drone, destroying it. Hector reminds his crew mates to be careful aboard the station.
The would-be adventurers go to meet Desmond Hogarth in a seedy section of New Gdansk. Hogarth is accompanied by an Ursoid Synth named “War Paw.” The man is somewhat surprised to encounter a full crew, but he agrees to acquire Hector’s requested parts, in return for one of two missions.
The first is a so-called milk run to the Mars Confederation. The second is to spring a “friend of the family” out of a Union of Solar Nations prison. In response to pressure from Hector, Hogarth says that the convict is Orion Stefanov, former chairman of the Venusian Finance Collective.
Orion Starchaser doesn’t detect any dishonesty with his telepathy, even though Hogarth is no doubt holding back information. Hector and Jasmine, shuddering at their memories of the disaster at Hephaestus Stadium, decline the prison break in favor of going to Mars.
Hogarth notes that he doesn’t want any Interplanetary Patrol scrutiny of the cargo, and Jax assures him that it shouldn’t be difficult to avoid the attention of Fort Olympus Mons.
Since Hogarth doesn’t know about the Gryphon‘s T-drive, Hector doesn’t tell him that the journey from Earth to Mars would take about four days rather than the weeks or months it would take with conventional (pre-First Contact) Terran rockets.
The new crew returns to the ship to spend some of its advance. Hector and Darcy receive deliveries from War Paw, and Dr. Pahul brings some of his laboratory equipment aboard. Hector scans Hogarth’s cargo and finds only machine parts.
Jax requests a quick-launch enhancement to the Gryphon‘s landing bay for the Slipstream, which he parks next to Jasmine’s hovercycle. Orion hopes to expand the holo-library.
Jax goes to the “Drowning Swan” bar and soon entertains a bevy of attractive women with his tales of derring-do in deep space. However, a wealthy woman who has been pursuing the pilot learns of his presence in New Gdansk through C-space (cyberspace).
Cassandra shamelessly flirts with Jax, who resists her advances because he doesn’t want to be tied down or go legit just yet. Amused, Srinu sends the couple drinks, and Jax gives his contact information to Cassandra in return.
Orion wanders through the corridors of the orbital city, cheerfully talking with strangers, most of whom don’t seem disturbed to see a blue alien. Orion finds some fellow hitchhikers, including human student Chan McKenzie, Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) otaku Irdana, and a former soldier who is disturbed.
Chris McKee mutters that he has “seen things no one should,” including something called the “Harbingers of the Righteous Order of Submission.” Orion invites him to join the crew and is about to consult his paper guidebook when Dr. Pahul walks by. He recognizes “Agent Prometheus” from past super-soldier experiments.
Detached from his Black Box Security handlers, Chris warns Dr. Pahul to stay away or risk violence. Orion diverts the sniper’s attention by introducing him to Ms. McKenzie, allowing Srinu to return to the ship unharmed. Orion later tells Hector and company that he has found a gunner for the Gryphon.
Jax talks with a bartender at the “Drowning Swan,” about Chris. Jose says has been serving the man for a few weeks and that he has a good reputation among the aliens, despite any apparent mental instability. Orion also warns Dr. Pahul that he and Chris will have to work out their differences on their way to Mars….
We’re off to a good start! I look forward to the Gryphon getting under way this coming Sunday, July 8. Let me know if any of you have questions about your characters, the ship, or the setting of “Vortex.” Note that Robert A.S. and Jim J.D’B. have also expressed interest in joining us.
In the meantime, I hope that all of you had a good Independence Day, and I’ll see some of you at The Amazing Spider-Man earlier on Sunday or Jason E.R.‘s Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: “Glassworks” game next Monday. I’ll also try to post some notes for Rich C.G.’s School Daze one-shot soon. Take it easy, -Gene