Fellow role-players, here is my belated update for Session 3.11 of the “Vortex: the Gryphon” telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 30 September 2012. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/Mindjammer and Bulldogs, and an online dice roller.
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
- “Jasmine“ [Sara F.]-female Martian Felinoid (Synth, “Uplifted” tiger), former professional pit fighter and onetime crewmember of the Appomattox, now apart from the grifters in “MarSoupAiL” with boyfriend Darcy
- “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 [blue 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
- “Jim Delaney“ [Robert A.S./absent]-male Terran “near-human” gambler and psi
After the initial voyages of the Venture, the Blackbird, and the Appomattox, other would-be adventurers met at New Gdansk in Earth orbit. The Gryphon made its shakedown cruise to Mars, where its crew explored the outback, participated in dangerous races, and foiled a casino heist.
The pirates and explorers also got involved in conflict between the Synth Liberation Front (S.L.F.) and the United Ecumenical Movement (U.E.M.) and acquired ship parts. From there, the yacht headed to Jupiter….
Hector also pieces together a manifest of the cargo from the Vatican Museums that the Appomattox had smuggled away from Earth and left in deep space rather than deliver to the arachnid Nolath at Epsilon Eridani. The former spy’s list includes items known to be missing from the archives, as well as relics rumored to be lost to history but that his earlier scans of the shipping containers had found.
In addition to numerous priceless works of art, Hector’s draft manifest includes the diadem of Theodora, the lost tablets of Babylon, and Musashi’s scabbard. The burned op’s information network queries also list a portion of Priam’s hoard and something called a “televalutor.”
Amateur archaeologist Dr. Srinu Pahul wonders about the cargo‘s intended destination, and sniper Chris McKee hopes that some items may be helpful against the approaching Zarkonian Armada.
Jasmine leaves sickbay and talks with Hector, who is also recuperating, about what she missed while under Dr. Pahul and Orion Starchaser’s care. The “Synth” is surprised to learn of Chris and Jax’s armed confrontation while they scrambled to determine who had fallen under the influence of the “Harbingers of the Righteous Order of Submission.”
Srinu and Orion confirm that the nanites (microsocopic robots) radiated psionic suggestions and were emitted by the Zurmiz Krott, biomechanical probes for the crustacean Zarkonians. The former members of the crews of the Blackbird and Appomattox who had encountered these probes — which had created cannibalistic mobs in Ghanki Station and Oasis Station — are no longer infected, says Dr. Pahul.
At Hector’s recommendation, Orion cheerfully accompanies Srinu in one of two escape pods as they study the nanites that were disabled by an electromagnetic pulse and retrieved from their comrades. Wary Hector reminds Dr. Pahul to avoid active scans because the Harbingers apparently absorb energy.
The escape pod floats near the Gryphon in orbit around Jupiter, and Orion telepathically senses Srinu’s potentially dangerous curiosity. The blue-furred alien also raises a telekinetic shield to help contain the nanites, which are centuries ahead of Terran technology.
Dr. Pahul eagerly presses on with his experiments, but Orion senses the probes reawakening. They note that heat hinders the nanites’ attempts to form a crystalline structure, escape, and reproduce. Signals from the robots are too weak to analyze.
The daring duo maneuvers the containment unit to the Gryphon‘s maneuvering thrusters, where engineer Hector annihilates it with plasma from the ship’s microfusion generators. Hector and Srinu also hope to devise methods of detection and countermeasures.
Chris agrees to let Orion conduct a more invasive telepathic scan. The alien mystic finds a fractured psyche — his human friend has fragmentary memories of his childhood and military service in the Martian outback, his retraining as an assassin by Black Box Security Co., and later cybernetic modifications.
Fortunately, there are no signs of the Harbingers other than memories of close encounters, and Orion offers to try to help repair the damage to Chris’ memories when they have more time and solitude.
Meanwhile, Jax takes the Slipstream to the “Floating Cove.” The pilot is welcomed by fellow space pirates, and Jax is soon regaling bar patrons with tales of his exploits in the inner Sol system, including a recent encounter with the Satan’s Strumpet and U.S.N. frigates the Repulse and Cheetah. Capt. Will Kleparn of the Silver Sail expresses interest in helping to seize control of a certain pleasure yacht.
Jasmine and her boyfriend Darcy go to Elysium, the orbital habitat capital of the Jovian Commonwealth, to meet old friend Tabitha Hanahi. Tabitha, a lynx-like “Synth” (genetically modified humanoid), takes Jasmine, Darcy, Chris, and Orion to the “Barbed Ring,” where Jasmine once wrestled. They then go rimward to a cafe to talk.
Tabitha says that despite her misadventures in the Mars Confederacy, Jasmine shouldn’t give up on the S.L.F. Since the Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.) has recognized more civil rights for artificial beings, their political struggles have abated, says Tabitha, even though indentured servitude remains a problem in the outer colonies.
Tabitha refers the tiger-woman to two Delphines (“Uplifted” cetaceans) on the moon of Europa named Shortwave and Quickfin, but Jasmine isn’t happy when she notices Tabitha flirting with Darcy.
Chris watches the Jovian human settlers and a few Ru’ulok (heavy-gravity reptilian alien) visitors in the cafe. Orion chats briefly with Sister Sudra Owens, a United Ecumenical Movement chaplain who asks many questions about extraterrestrials.
Back at the Gryphon, Hector monitors communications while Srinu prepares a report about the Zurmiz Krott. Dr. Pahul plans to personally deliver his results to Lt.Cmdr. Hiroshi Mbenge of the U.S.N. Navy and to Trinoid (trilateral amphibious alien) xenobiologist “Sarbonne,” who are in the Jovian system. He also arranges to deliver the same warning to Dr. Jen Mai at Black Box Security.
At the “Floating Cove,” Jax meets Bonnie Kawagura, a friend of his fan Cassandra. After several rounds of drinks, the hotshot pilot takes Bonnie back to the Gryphon aboard the Slipstream.
Jealous Jasmine makes sure to leave her scent on Darcy and broaches the topic of marriage. Orion pops his head into Jasmine and Jax’s cabins and asks what they are doing with their respective companions. His species apparently has three genders, as do the Trinoids.
Chris receives a message from Lt. Brock Ellis, a fellow soldier who worked for Black Box. Brock invites Agent Prometheus to meet him for drinks to catch up, and cautious Chris agrees on the condition that Orion come along.
Hector contacts his onetime handler Max(ine) to see if there’s any trace of his former crewmates from “MarSoupAiL” (shell company Mars Soup Aid Lenders Ltd.). Max refers him to Annamaria Balzana, a former rival near Jupiter who might know more.
Srinu asks Hector for help arranging meetings with Lt.Cmdr. Mbenge and Sarbonne, and Jasmine and Darcy plan to visit the Delphines on Europa. Hector reminds his crewmates as they leave the Gryphon to be careful and not to take on too many potential missions without consulting one another first….
Note that this teleconferencing game won’t be meeting again until Sunday, Oct. 14, because I’ll be at the Higgins Armory Museum for a dinner this coming weekend. Please try to stay in touch between our virtual “Vortex” sessions!
In the meantime, I’m glad that city/character creation are done for Josh’s “A New Beginning: Mystic Adventures in the ‘Big D‘” modern supernatural scenario (using the FATE 3e Dresden Files RPG). In addition, I look forward to seeing some of you for the “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” (using the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game) next Monday, Oct. 8. Take it easy, -Gene