“Vortex” Update 5a.28 — Garden riot

fred_g_07
Alien tripod

Fellow role-players, here are my belated notes for Session 5a.28 of the “Vortexspace opera campaign. Team 1 met on Monday, 6 February 2012, and is using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/Mindjammer, Bulldogs, Diaspora, and Limitless Horizons.

In one future, humanity has begun to colonize the Sol system, but ecological degradation and internecine conflicts persist. Open and official First Contact with Galactic societies, themselves at war, threaten Terra’s very survival. Will heroes rise to the challenges?

Two aliens and their human allies encountered xenophobes and megacorporate intrigues on and around Earth. After visiting factionalized Mars and acquiring a starship, they continued their mission of diplomacy and exploration while journeying to Oasis Station….

>>FATE 3e “Vortex” Team 1 (5a), crew of the “Blackbird:”

-“Syzygy” [Brian W.]-Trinoid (trilateral amphibious alien) xenologist with an organic laboratory and a pet cat named “Mr. Sniffles”

-“Tela” [Sara F.]-female Tharian (winged reptilian humanoid alien) escapee from the Encegulans, engineer

-“Chris McKee/Agent Prometheus” [Josh C.]-male Terran cyborg human sniper working for eugenicists at Black Box Security Co.

-“Lt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K.]-male Terran human, burned-out officer and explorer in the Interplanetary Patrol

-“Scoop Chang” [Rich C.G.]-male Jovian “near-human,” interstellar reporter kidnapped by the Olvar; psi interested in First Contacts

-“Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A.]-male Terran “near-human,” seeker of enlightenment and investigator met aboard the Ma’ari ship “Cyan Horizon

-“Aughest-vor…” [Jason E.R./absent]-male human from the Lemuria orbital city, onetime dilettante, solar-sail racer, pilot

-“Gombo Shisel” [Rich L./absent]-male Mongolian/Martian human, former horse rancher and wilderness survival expert

-“Dr. Bucket” [Non-Player Character]-United Earth Authority astromech robot assigned to the Blackbird

>>19 to 21 November 2194 A.D./C.E. or 0 Terran Galactic Era:” About 40 light-years from Earth, the human explorers and their alien allies evaded slug-like Encegulans at the Ruby Lantern Resort. The crews of the Blackbird and Dragonfly regrouped at the Regatta Hotel, where Aughest-vor… had reserved a luxurious suite.

No stranger to scandal, Aughest checks the local news for Sector 12 (also known as “the Merging”). The information networks mention an incident at the Ruby Lantern, but they don’t identify any participants. Syzygy observes that it would be bad for business if the brothel’s proprietors publicly admitted a breach of their security.

Chris McKee believes that the slavers would more likely hire bounty hunters for revenge than notify Oasis Station’s overall authorities. With Tela’s help, Scoop Chang uses his Eyebot EVE to hack into the Ruby Lantern’s internal systems. They alter surveillance recordings and spread diversionary rumors about Meorr (lion-like berserkers; created by David F.R-B.).

Tela is afraid of being recaptured by the Encegulans and watches over boyfriend Kedar, who is hung over from the previous night’s carousing at the “Privateer’s Perch” in Sector 10, “the Rusted Link.” Tariq Asrad Saladin recommends that his new companions stick more closely to standard operating procedures for discretion.

Lt. Kevin Reese reminds the group of its missions — to find a missing Kharvamid agent and use a Precursor jump gate to warn the United Earth Authority (U.E.A.) of the approaching Zarkonian Armada. He calls Nycla of Clan Firehoof [Brian/N.P.C.] to ask for help. The fierce Gustrall (raptor-like extraterrestrial) agrees to meet at moonset in the Merging.

Syzygy, Kevin, and Scoop resume the search for the Kharvamid Alliance spy. They ask concierge Mr. Blix about the best places to see and be seen in Sector 11, “the Swift Course.” They are directed to a grand observation deck, where they can watch yachts, interstellar skiffs, and solar-sail racers.

The Trinoid and Terrans see a few Olvar (mammal-like arboreal aliens) wearing archaic human fashions, no doubt inspired by old radio and television transmissions. One has the scarf and goggles of an early aviator. Cyril is interested in seeing the “Morifaiwet” — the original name of the scout ship Blackbird.

Meanwhile, Tariq, Tela, and Chris try to discreetly find out more about the jump gate. Aughest-vor, Kedar, Mr. Sniffles, and Dr. Bucket wait back on the Blackbird. Cestolar (badger-like) trader Ibor vos Talshun [Rich/N.P.C.] takes the squad in his “Metal Vessel” back to the Merging.

Agent Prometheus wants to check with the Port Authority on clues to the gate’s location, ostensibly by asking again about the Trinoid ship the “Nautiloid.” Tela is curious when she sees an Aerdary, a member of a client species of the Gustrall that resembles a chocobo.

At the Regatta Hotel, Syzygy, Lt. Reese, and Scoop meet with an Aquarian (amphibious) diplomat. Plorb [Beruk/N.P.C.] asks for Terran help protecting refugees from Zarkonian attacks on his homeworld. Interplanetary Patrol officer Kevin says that he’ll pass along Plorb’s request to the U.E.A.

Xenologist Syzygy reassures the Aquarian emissary that human inquisitiveness and aggressiveness should help his cause. Journalist Scoop records the conversation but promises to edit it as needed so as not to reveal too much about Earth or Aquaria.

At moonset, Tela, Chris, and Tariq meet with mercenary Nycla and two smugglers. Kerenar [Bruce/N.P.C.] is a Ru’ulok (heavy-gravity reptilian alien) selling virtual reality headsets, and Turvel Dosk [Rich/N.P.C.] is another Cestolar. The Tharian and Terrans don’t trust the traders, but each offers potentially valuable information.

Kerenar says that a relative of his named Serenar is one of the scientists studying the jump gate. The Ru’ulok says that the faster-than-light mode of transport has been reactivated, but no life forms have used it yet.

Agent Prometheus doesn’t trust the burly Ru’ulok, who the Black Box Security Co. agent believes is motivated purely by profit. Investigator Tariq wisely monitors communications and tries to sense the motivations of the aliens.

Short Turvel tells wary Tela that he can provide a ship to get close to the as-yet-undisclosed location of the Precursor device. Nycla apologizes for making the group wait while she privately conferred with her contacts, and she says she knows some of the guards protecting the jump gate from disputing claimants.

Impatient with the shady smugglers, Tariq, Chris, and Tela walk out of the negotiations. They note that they need to confer with the rest of their crew before devising a plan for the jump gate.

Back at the Swift Course, Plorb’s attaché Marvog interrupts the diplomatic conversation. The Cetaran (plesiosaur-like alien; created by Byron V.O.) aide mentions that something called a Zurmiz Krott has attacked Sector 6, “the Grower.”

Plorb surprises Syzygy, Kevin, and Scoop by asking to join them as they head to the scene. He explains that the Zurmiz Krott are believed to be bioengineered scouts for the Zarkonians, but there are few reliable reports on their true nature.

The explorers are horrified to find a cannibalistic riot at the Smiling Goddess Food Court. Syzygy meets fellow Trinoid scientist Selenium [Josh/N.P.C.] and synthesizes anesthetic spores.

Lt. Reese shoulders his way through the mob of assorted species to rescue an Olvar tourist trapped in a tree in the garden level. She is wearing robes from an old Terran adventure serial and carries a plasma blade. Scoop uses Genurgy to armor up and fly in search of the riot’s cause.

Syzygy contacts his crewmates in the Merging, and they hasten to the Grower. Tela notices security forces massing in one docking bay, so she picks another to land in. Chris readies his sniper rifle, and Tariq helps them bluff their way past panicked guards and a Sulishi (furry snail) officer.

Even though they’re able to fend off hungry hordes in the orbital habitat, the newcomers struggle to stay together. Inventive Syzygy and Selenium overcome their differences to incapacitate much of the crowd, as stalwart Agent Prometheus, Tariq, and Plorb protect them with rifle and fists.

Brave Kevin gets tourist Hannah [Sara/N.P.C.] to safety, as winged Tela glides toward curious Scoop. They identify the source of the disturbance as a dark, bulbous mass sitting in the middle of rows of hydroponic crops. It telepathically tempts them toward homicidal madness.

Oasis Station police try to contain the crowd, and Syzygy is distressed at the loss of life. Selenium is more interested in getting a sample from the Zurmiz Krott, which is successful in turning Tela against Kevin! Plorb and Hannah fall back, while Scoop unleashes mental blasts, and Chris looks for targets.

Tariq runs around alien trees as the Zarkonian probe raises itself on three spindly legs. The martial artist radios his companions to aim for the tripod legs rather than the armored body. Scoop is briefly overcome by the Trinoid spores, and Kevin knocks Tela’s EMP gun from her hand and rescues the reporter.

Tariq resists the insanity, while Syzygy treats the wounded. Tela eventually verifies the Zurmiz Krott’s weak points. Chris fires armor-piercing rounds, and Lt. Reese lobs grenades. Scoop psionically reshapes his arms into bladelike weapons, and he joins the others in toppling the hostile device.

As Oasis Station forces finally secure the area, Selenium asks Syzygy for help getting access to the fallen Zurmiz Krott. Tela wants to check on Kedar and the Blackbird, and Agent Prometheus is pleased that his specialized ammunition worked.

Lt. Reese calls Aughest-vor, Dr. Bucket, and Nycla for backup and extraction, while Scoop meticulously records the scene for further analysis. Tariq talks with Plorb and Hannah to see if they’re OK and to ask more about the probe or jump gate….

Back in the Sol system, the grifters on the Appomattox [Team 2] regroup after encountering S.R.E. repossession agents at a house party near Atlanta….

I hope that all of you are doing well during our break from my regular games while Janice and I — and Josh & Sara — settle in after our recent moves!

I hope that the one-shots and miniseries of Josh, Rich, James, and Paul are successful, and I hope to resume my campaigns soon! For example, Josh has offered to run a “Spelljammerswashbuckling space fantasy scenario using FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre while we wait to get back to my Pathfinder/Skype: “the Uncommon Companionstelecom fantasy game.

Brian and Rich have offered to host “VortexTeam 1, which could meet in the next few Mondays. Let us know your availability, and take it easy, -Gene

“Vortex” Update 5a.27 — A playboy, a psycho, and a Trinoid walk into a bar

P612744 GRILL
Spaceport bar

Fellow role-players, here are Josh’s and my notes for Session 5a.27 of the “Vortexspace opera campaign. Team 1 met on Monday, 23 January 2012, and is using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/Mindjammer, Bulldogs, Diaspora, and Limitless Horizons.

In one future, humanity has begun to colonize the Sol system, but ecological degradation and internecine conflicts persist. Open and official First Contact with Galactic societies, themselves at war, threaten Terra’s very survival. Will heroes rise to the challenges?

Two aliens and their human allies encountered xenophobes and megacorporate intrigues on and around Earth. After visiting factionalized Mars and acquiring a starship, they continued their mission of diplomacy and exploration to Titan, Tyche, and Alpha Centauri. From Van Maanen’s Star, the Olvar scout ship evaded a trap at Cetus Eridani and met priestesses and miners at Beta Canum Venaticorum before resuming its journey toward Oasis Station….

>>FATE 3e “Vortex” Team 1 (5a), crew of the “Blackbird:”

-“Syzygy” [Brian W.]-Trinoid (trilateral amphibious alien) xenologist with an organic laboratory and a pet cat named “Mr. Sniffles”

-“Tela” [Sara F.]-female Tharian (winged reptilian humanoid alien) escapee from the Encegulans, engineer

-“Chris McKee/Agent Prometheus” [Josh C.]-male Terran cyborg human sniper working for eugenicists at Black Box Security Co.

-“Aughest-vor…” [Jason E.R.]-male human from the Lemuria orbital city, onetime dilettante, solar-sail racer, pilot

-“Lt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K.]-male Terran human, burned-out officer and explorer in the Interplanetary Patrol

-“Scoop Chang” [Rich C.G.]-male Jovian “near-human,” interstellar reporter kidnapped by the Olvar; psi interested in First Contacts

-“Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A./absent]-male Terran “near-human,” seeker of enlightenment and investigator met aboard the Ma’ari ship Cyan Horizon

-“Gombo Shisel” [Rich L./absent]-male Mongolian/Martian human, former horse rancher and wilderness survival expert

-“Dr. Bucket” [Non-Player Character]-United Earth Authority astromech robot assigned to the Blackbird

>>”15 to 18 November 2194 A.D./C.E. or 0 Terran Galactic Era:” After visiting the site of the Battle of Capricornus X2, the explorers aboard the Blackbird arrived at Oasis Station, a huge collection of orbital habitats about 40 parsecs from Earth. They searched the local information network for clues on where to start looking for the missing agent of the Kharvamid Alliance and a Precursor jump gate.

Aughest-vor, Syzygy, Chris McKee, Tariq Asrad Saladin, Dr. Bucket, and Mr. Sniffles stay aboard the Morifaiwet/Blackbird to draw public attention, as well as that of the Kharvamid agent or potential foes.

Syzygy expresses interest in Sector 1, also known as “the Shining Sisters,” to see the Nebula Opera. Agent Prometheus recommends Sector 7, the “Righteous Stinger,” because of its relatively lawless reputation and the Flux Farm weapons emporium.

Lt. Kevin Reese, Tela, Scoop Chang, and Kedar take the drop ship Dragonfly to more quietly find out about the jump gate. Engineers Tela and Kedar are interested in the Shining Sisters because of its population of Ma’ari, Nethians, and Daragi. Kevin wants to go to Sector 12, “the Merging,” because of the Ruby Lantern Resort.

However, Syzygy decides to check in with overall Oasis Station command in the Merging, so the Dragonfly goes to Sector 10, “the Rusted Link,” because the Tharians are curious about a technocracy ruled by and for Xenoids (alien robots/artificial intelligences).

The Morifaiwet first visits Sector 11, “the Swift Course,” where Aughest-vor transfers funds from the Tyche mining operation into galactic credits for the entire party. The megacorporate scion reverts to his old ways, reserving a luxurious suite at the Regatta Hotel and inquiring with concierge Mr. Blix about solar sail races and the elite Lancer’s Club.

Tariq and Dr. Bucket keep watch while their Olvar scout ship is cleaned and serviced, and Syzygy and Chris checked in with the Port Authority at the Merging, where they see misshapen Metaderpods (former “Uplift” clients of the Trinoids) and talk about the Trinoid ship the Nautiloid.

Meanwhile, the squad aboard the Dragonfly meets Xenoid guide VX-7, as well as a wide variety of synthetic beings. At the “Privateer’s Perch,” they encounter fierce Gustrall Nycla of Clan Firehoof [Brian/Non-Player Character], inquisitive Nethian (insectoid alien) mechanic Kzp’trn [Jason/N.P.C.] looking for an “isoquantum fracture compensator,” and party animals — actually three Meorr and a Felinoid Terran Synth.

Lt. Reese tells Nycla — who asks if the Tharians are “bait” — about his search. Scoop traces a Terran mental signature to the Felinoid (genetically modified panther) Yoshi Tanaka. Tela and Kedar get drunk with Gworr [Jason/N.P.C.], Keferr [Josh/N.P.C.], and Mundarr. The leonine Meorr back off a bit from raptor-like Nycla, who is well-known in certain parts of Oasis Station.

In the upper level of the “Privateer’s Perch,” numerous A.I.s, Synths, and Xenoids watch a fight between “organics” Rugar, the “Claw of Might,” and Cestolar (badger-like alien) Rundel Tosk, captain of the Lodge. The crew of the Dragonfly quickly leaves.

Getting restless at the Regatta Hotel, Aughest-vor and Chris go to the Merging, where they meet Cestolar trader Ibor vos Talshun [Rich/N.P.C.], whose ship is the “Metal Vessel.” Following their instinct for trouble, Agent Prometheus and Aughest fall in with Boobulons at the Ruby Lantern.

However, they soon find themselves compromised and trapped by slug-like Encegulan slavers. Syzygy talks with the Cetaran (plesiosaur-like alien) madam and calls Lt. Reese for backup. As the back rooms of the interstellar brothel release a horde of inhuman BDSM horrors to prevent the Terrans and Trinoid from escaping, Kevin, Tela, and Scoop ride to the rescue with the Tiger Hawk Sandstorm ground-effect vehicle.

During a firefight, Kevin throws a grenade and asks Aughest-vor if this is how he planned to get attention. Scoop psionically armors up and blasts hostiles, while Tela glides up to the level where the humans are being held.

The Meorr from the “Privateer’s Perch” happily wade into battle. Still naked, Agent Prometheus catches a gun from Lt. Reese and ruthlessly shoots one of the patrons in the chaos, and the Tiger Hawk Sandstorm makes a hasty retreat…

Josh, thanks for posting these notes to the Obsidian Portal wiki for “Vortex!” Thanks also to those who have offered to help with our upcoming moves. As noted previously, tonight’s game will be the last one I’ll be hosting and running in Needham Heights, Massachusetts, and we’ll be taking a break for a few weeks.

I hope to post updates for the latest Team 2 and the telecom fantasy Pathfinder/Skype: “the Uncommon Companions” games soon. Be seeing you, -Gene

“Vortex” Update 5a.26 — the Battle of Capricornus X2

Demotivational poster
Space battle!

Fellow role-players, here are Josh’s and my notes for Session 5a.26 of the “Vortexspace opera campaign. Team 1 met on Monday, 9 January 2012, and is using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/Mindjammer, Bulldogs, Diaspora, and Limitless Horizons.

In one future, humanity has begun to colonize the Sol system, but ecological degradation and internecine conflicts persist. Open and official First Contact with Galactic societies, themselves at war, threaten Terra’s very survival. Will heroes rise to the challenges?

Two aliens and their human allies encountered xenophobes and megacorporate intrigues on and around Earth. After visiting factionalized Mars and acquiring a starship, they continued their mission of diplomacy and exploration to Titan, Tyche, and Alpha Centauri. From Van Maanen’s Star, the Olvar scout ship evaded a trap at Cetus Eridani and met priestesses and miners at Beta Canum Venaticorum before resuming its journey toward Oasis Station….

>>FATE 3e “Vortex” Team 1 (5a), crew of the “Blackbird:”

-“Syzygy” [Brian W.]-Trinoid (trilateral amphibious alien) xenologist with an organic laboratory and a pet cat named “Mr. Sniffles”

-“Tela” [Sara F.]-female Tharian (winged reptilian humanoid alien) escapee from the Encegulans, engineer

-“Chris McKee/Agent Prometheus” [Josh C.]-male Terran cyborg human sniper working for eugenicists at Black Box Security Co.

-“Aughest-vor…” [Jason E.R.]-male human from the Lemuria orbital city, onetime dilettante, solar-sail racer, pilot

-“Lt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K.]-male Terran human, burned-out officer and explorer in the Interplanetary Patrol

-“Scoop Chang” [Rich C.G.]-male Jovian “near-human,” interstellar reporter kidnapped by the Olvar; psi interested in First Contacts

-“Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A.]-male Terran “near-human,” seeker of enlightenment and investigator met aboard the Ma’ari ship Cyan Horizon

-“Gombo Shisel” [Rich L./absent]-male Mongolian/Martian human, former horse rancher and wilderness survival expert

-“Dr. Bucket” [Non-Player Character]-United Earth Authority astromech robot assigned to the Blackbird

>>”From Chris McKee’s journal, 8 to 14 November 2194 A.D./C.E. or 0 Terran Galactic Era:” After encountering Cetaran miners near GL 884/”Cold Miser,” we continued our journey to Oasis Station, about 40 parsecs from Earth. We came out of faster-than-light Transit near Hip 103039 and found ourselves in the middle of a pitched battle!

I ran to my turret to ready our particle beam, but I reluctantly held my fire at my crewmates’ request. Syzygy went to his lab to prepare for casualties, and Tela and Kedar tried to get some extra power out of our engines. Aughest-vor… piloted the Blackbird clear of fire and debris.

As per our recent discussion, Lt. Kevin Reese took tactical command and activated our cloaking device. Scoop Chang began comparing the ships to the Star League database, while Tariq Asrad Saladin armed himself against potential boarders. Dr. Bucket and the spider drones readied for damage control.

Fortunately, none of the combatants seemed to notice us. We soon learned that a Ru’ulok (heavy-gravity reptilian extraterrestrial) force was occupying the system, also known as GL X2, LP 916-60, or Capricornus X2. The Ru’ulok, with whom we’ve had several skirmishes back in the Sol system, were trying to repel an attack by the Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like aliens).

I acquired targets and painted them. Aughest-vor reported that there was at least one contested rockball planet in the system, and Lt. Reese ordered Tela to ready the Yoyodyne Overthruster in case we needed to make a quick getaway.

Scoop recognized some of the craft as Ranseur-class Olvar fighters and Spanner-class Ru’ulok troop carriers. While some of us wanted to help the Olvar against the Ru’ulok, others recommended caution. We hailed the Icy Lance and talked with Adm. Fendril Angmor. The Olvar flagship was under heavy attack, and we closed in to offer assistance and take aboard escape pods.

However, Syzygy suspected that something was amiss, so our scientist asked Aughest for more scans. Tariq tried to spot behavioral patterns in the ship movements. Scoop intercepted Ru’ulok communications and heard Marshall Kladvur, commander of the Yachatil, berating Baranik Bosart, a Cestolar (badger-like alien) captain.

The Morifaiwet/Blackbird‘s Olvar database indicated that this battle had happened about 1,000 Terran years ago! The literal-minded Cestolar, once an “Uplift” client species of the Olvar, were then allied with the Ru’ulok empire. However, they had apparently again switched sides, just as things looked grim for the Olvar.

Aughest kept maneuvering and noted energy anomalies, while Syzygy searched for life signs. Tela confirmed that the Spanners were from the correct time period. Tariq noted that we could be seeing battlefield ghosts, while Kevin and Scoop suggested that we — or they — were displaced in time!

Dr. Bucket checked relative stellar positions at Aughest’s astrogation request. We were still in the year 2194. Tariq observed that the Olvar had replied to our hails, but Scoop didn’t detect any telepathic activity. I made sure that our training simulations were up to date and didn’t contain any bugs.

Even as Adm. Angmor ordered all hands to abandon the Icy Lance, Baranik Bosart slammed his ship into the Yachatil. I couldn’t refrain any longer, so I shot at a passing Ru’ulok ship, severely damaging it. That’s when curators hailed us and asked us not to interfere with the re-enactment.

We headed to the museum headquarters, and I believe I heard Syzygy respond to a hail from a Gustrall (antlered, orange-furred, raptor-like alien). Most of the landing pads were empty, and we met Biros Gramlic, the friendly captain of the Betardonil. He and wary engineer Dacla Nistor had brought Cestolar tourists Gurda, Nimun, and Fashnir to the site of their species’ key role in changing the tide of battle.

We left Dr. Bucket to watch the Blackbird and went to the museum shops, which were staffed by Xenoids (alien robots) designed to look like Olvar and Ru’ulok soldiers in antique uniforms. One Olvar-style droid named Hignor sold us tchotchkes and directed us to the canteen.

Ever cautious, Lt. Reese directed Dr. Bucket to run a scan from our ship, and he detected other tourist groups and the shielded headquarters of Thurmin Caz, the manager. None of the life signs were Ru’ulok, so we didn’t worry too much.

Since none of us Terrans had galactic credits yet, Syzygy paid for his water and our souvenirs from his Science Directorate account. I bought a bunch of Ru’ulok dolls for target practice, while high-minded Tariq found a board game similar to chess. Tharians Tela and Kedar got more plushies and a remote-controlled ship model.

Budding politician Aughest-vor downloaded some textbooks on military history. Soldier Kevin exercised more restraint than reporter Scoop, who grabbed an armload of toys, a replica space suit, and some Olvar antiques. The Cestolar were similarly excited.

Our visit to the canteen was less successful, and I can only imagine what my handlers back at Black Box Security Co. will think upon reading this report. I will say that Vamec sauce, or Cestolar moonshine, is pretty strong! I remember Aughest and Kevin trying to choke down some weird food, and Scoop keeping up with my imbibing. I also did some low-gravity handstands.

I don’t remember meeting the Gustrall after dinner [Out-of-character note: There weren’t any on the station.] or much else until the next morning. For some reason, Scoop keeps snickering at me. Note to self: Try to acquire EVE, his hovering camera robot.

We then continued on our way to Oasis Station. While in Transit, Aughest-vor looked at specifications for the collection of orbital habitats daisy-chained around a star. Syzygy reminded us that we would have to try to find the agent who had dropped out of contact with the Kharvamid Alliance.

Tela and Kedar also hoped to find more of their people, but they were wary of Encegulan (slug-like alien) and Ru’ulok bounty hunters. Scoop was excited to find an interstellar crossroads, and he and Tariq found that we’d have to covertly find a way to get access to the jump gate recently discovered nearby. Apparently, the Precursor technology was contested and being guarded.

I did some historical research, focusing on the Olvar abandonment of their colony on “Cold Miser” almost 2,000 Earth years ago and the current state of affairs surrounding the cosmopolitan spaceport. The Olvar and Ru’ulok empires had ceased expanding toward the Sol system after the battle and truce. After some discussion, we decided to explore Oasis Station in two groups.

Aughest-vor, Syzygy, Tariq, Dr. Bucket, and I will take the Blackbird and publicly arrive in uniform as a team from the Sol system to flush out the Kharvamid agent or foes. Meanwhile, Lt. Reese, Tela, Scoop, and Kedar will take the Dragonfly, our slower-than-light drop ship, and quietly get the lay of the land and find a way to the jump gate….

I hope that each of you enjoyed our first regular “Vortex” session of 2012! I look forward to seeing the fleshed-out quasi-Non-Player Characters when we break into troupe-style play when Team 1 meets next on Jan. 23 (weather permitting).

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing Team 2, the crew of the Appomattox, tonight — Jan. 16. I’ll also try to post an update for the latest Pathfinder: “the Vanished Landstelecom game sometime this week. Be seeing you, -Gene

“Vortex” Update 5a.25 — “The light-year without a Santa Claus”

From 'The Year Without a Santa Claus'
Cold Miser and Heat Miser

Fellow role-players, here are Josh’s and my notes for Session 5a.25 of the “Vortexspace opera campaign. Team 1 met on Monday, 12 December 2011, and is using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/Mindjammer, Bulldogs, Diaspora, and Limitless Horizons.

In one future, humanity has begun to colonize the Sol system, but ecological degradation and internecine conflicts persist. Open and official First Contact with Galactic societies, themselves at war, threaten Terra’s very survival. Will heroes rise to the challenges?

Two aliens and their human allies encountered xenophobes and megacorporate intrigues on and around Earth. After visiting factionalized Mars and acquiring a starship, they continued their mission of diplomacy and exploration to Titan, Tyche, and Alpha Centauri. From Van Maanen’s Star, the Olvar scout ship evaded a trap at Cetus Eridani and met priestesses and miners at Beta Canum Venaticorum before resuming its journey toward Oasis Station….

>>FATE 3e “Vortex” Team 1 (5a), crew of the “Blackbird:”

-“Syzygy” [Brian W.]-Trinoid (trilateral amphibious alien) xenologist with an organic laboratory and a pet cat named “Mr. Sniffles”

-“Tela” [Sara F.]-female Tharian (winged reptilian humanoid alien) escapee from the Encegulans, engineer

-“Chris McKee/Agent Prometheus” [Josh C.]-male Terran cyborg human sniper working for eugenicists at Black Box Security Co.

-“Aughest-vor…” [Jason E.R.]-male human from the Lemuria orbital city, onetime dilettante, solar-sail racer, pilot

-“Lt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K.]-male Terran human, burned-out officer and explorer in the Interplanetary Patrol

-“Scoop Chang” [Rich C.G.]-male Jovian “near-human,” interstellar reporter kidnapped by the Olvar; psi interested in First Contacts

-“Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A.]-male Terran “near-human,” seeker of enlightenment and investigator met aboard the Ma’ari ship “Cyan Horizon

-“Gombo Shisel” [Rich L./absent]-male Mongolian/Martian human, former horse rancher and wilderness survival expert

-“Dr. Bucket” [Non-Player Character]-United Earth Authority astromech robot assigned to the “Blackbird

>>”From the journal of Chris McKee/Agent Prometheus, 1 to 7 November 2194 A.D./C.E. or 0 Terran Galactic Era:” I and the rest of the crew of the Blackbird prepared to leave the the Cyan Horizon, a “Talari” (ark ship) of the Ma’ari, pale, diminutive alien wanderers.

Syzygy had asked Kligba Onagan, a secretive Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) colleague in the Kharvamid Alliance, about what to expect at Oasis Station. A Precursor faster-than-light (FTL) jump gate had recently been discovered near our destination. Lt. Reese said farewell to Ma’ari Capt. Lurandi.

Tela got help from Dr. Bucket and Kedar for installing and activating the Blackbird‘s cloaking capability. She was giddy to share engineering with another Tharian, and this stealth should help us in our exploratory missions.

My day began with a request from Syzygy to come to the med bay. He was waiting with Lt. Kevin Reese and Scoop Chang, who proceeded to perform an impromptu psych exam on me. They were apparently concerned that the Ma’ari might have implanted something when physician “Felana” [Jenna R.P./Non-Player Character] removed Black Box Security Co.’s cyberware.

The interrogation went poorly until I took Kevin aside, and he reminded me of our service together back on Mars. He seemed surprised that I was “strangely amiable,” but I was declared fit for active duty.

Aughest-vor… set a course from 96 Piscium and “Venice” toward GL 884 and Oasis Station, which is about 40 parsecs from Sol. Our pilot planned to avoid the nebula Kuvor’s Veil and Mozarik system in Ru’ulok (heavy-gravity reptilian pirate) space. Lt. Reese was wary of newcomers Tariq and Kedar.

In FTL Transit, the Blackbird‘s REM drive caused Tela, Tariq, and Kedar to hallucinate. The winged Tharians later said they imagined their homeworld, while the Terran martial artist saw himself in a past life on a sailing ship.

Scoop was worried, but the rest of us said to leave the dreamers undisturbed until they were needed. The journalist had sent an encrypted warning about the Encegulans (slug-like slavers) and approaching Zarkonian Armada to a military contact near Jupiter, and Lt. Reese forwarded it to Mr. Gray, his superior at Interplanetary Patrol.

While still in Transit, we approached an ion storm, whose radiation and gravitic effects forced us to drop back into normal space for a time. Syzygy secured his unhappy cat Mr. Sniffles in gel. Tela and the spider drones were busy with damage control. We noticed other FTL vessels that had managed to avoid the storm, and we soon resumed our journey.

The Blackbird next dropped out of Transit near GL 884 for a planetary survey and a course correction. The small, red star had two barely inhabitable worlds, which Kevin nicknamed “Heat Miser” and “Cold Miser” after an archaic holiday video.

Xenologist Syzygy scanned and found no signs of advanced life. Aughest smoothly moved our experimental scout vessel into orbit for a closer look. Scoop researched from the Star League database that the Olvar once had a colony, which was evacuated for unknown reasons.

Using the Blackbird‘s sensors, Kevin detected a large base nearly the size of a city on “Cold Miser.” That’s when the FUBAR happened. Lt. Reese and I initially wanted to check out the frozen ruins for abandoned tech.

Civilians Aughest-vor and Scoop thought we should not delay our primary mission of getting to Oasis Station and finding a way to report on the Zarkonian threat to the United Earth Authority (U.E.A.). As the entire group discussed how to proceed, two-dozen unidentified ships arrived in the star system!

Tela and Kedar identified their FTL as unusual “warp bubble” technology. We then debated over the best course of action. Kevin and I wanted to use our cloaking device, while Aughest and Scoop preferred to parley. Syzygy and Tariq were content to cautiously observe, and our exchanges continued and became heated. Then Tela got bored, so she hailed the alien fleet herself, locking the rest of us out!

The alien ships stacked themselves in geostationary orbits and began beaming strange force fields at “Heat Miser.” Syzygy verified that they weren’t harming local microorganisms too much, and the aliens were apparently extracting exotic minerals and somehow refining them as they relayed them to the outermost craft in each stack.

After what was probably our strangest First Contact so far, Lt. Reese took the comm. The Cetarans [created by Byron V.O.] resembled extinct Terran plesiosaurs, with prehensile front flippers like those of some seals. According to the Olvar database, the Cetarans were rivals of the arachnid Nolath [see Team 2 notes]. Aughest prepared the Yoyodyne Overthruster in case we needed a quick getaway.

After exchanging pleasantries, Capt. Geyvvig made an interesting offer. He said that his people were neutral toward the Kharvamid Alliance and the galactic trade guilds, and he expressed interest in having humanity join a group of less-populous interstellar species in a non-aligned movement.

We told Capt. Geyvvig that we’d consider his offer and pass it back to our homeworld. Dr. Bucket noted that the Cetaran mining technology could be helpful in getting resources for Terrans from Tyche, which we partly owned. Tela, Aughest-vor, and Scoop were most interested in making new friends.

I surprised Kevin, who again wanted to retreat, by suggesting that we meet the Cetarans face to face. Although the Sol system needs allies as we begin expanding into the Milky Way, Lt. Reese said, we were outnumbered and potentially outgunned. Tariq was equally cautious, and three-armed Syzygy wanted to see how we Terrans resolved our differences.

We left the Cetarans to pop out from GL 884. Aughest-vor set a course for Hip 103039, another potentially inhabitable system near Altair and BD+15-4733 and on the way to Oasis Station. On the way, we resumed our debate over standard operating procedures.

Extraterrestrials Syzygy, Tela, and Kedar (and U.E.A. robot Dr. Bucket) kept busy running the Blackbird and watching us. Aughest and Scoop said that with an enlarged crew, we needed a protocol for First Contact between Terrans and aliens. Lt. Reese and I preferred a military-style chain of command for quick decisions in dangerous situations. Tariq saw the value of both diplomacy and tactical readiness.

Scoop argued in favor of talking first rather than initiating scans or threatening strangers by arming ourselves. He observed that Tela may have been out of line in hailing the Cetarans, but she did the right thing while we bickered. Kevin and I asked why we should trust him and Tariq, whom we met among the Olvar/REM and Ma’ari, respectively.

Aughest tried to mediate, noting that despite our differences, we’ve usually had one another’s backs in combat and made several successful First Contacts. Ultimately, we agreed upon the following steps for observation, assessment, and contact:

Scans: Scientist Syzygy plans to check for life signs, I will look for direct threats as gunner/sniper, and Lt. Reese will monitor the surrounding space. Survival expert Tariq can observe the behavior of aliens and scout the area during planetfalls. Dr. Bucket may be helpful for coordinating scans. Reporter Scoop and his robotic camera EVE will record all encounters.

Defensive posture: Engineers Tela and Kedar will ready the REM drive and power for sublight maneuvering. Pilot Aughest-vor will plot a course of escape using our afterburners, and Kevin can activate the stealth system. Tariq and I must also stand ready to repel boarders.

Contact: If we are hailed, Kevin can initially speak on behalf of the Blackbird, with advice from Syzygy, Aughest, Scoop, and then the rest of us, depending on the situation. If the other party is hostile, Lt. Reese can take tactical command. Aughest recommended working out strategy in advance if possible.

I hope we’ll be able to develop our mix of diplomacy, canny force, and maneuvering as needed to protect the Trinoids’ interest in Earth’s future… <End journal entry.>

Thanks again, Jason, for this session’s title and your generous gifts! I’ll have mine for “Vortex” Team 1 whenever we meet next. See my other posts for our January 2012 schedule. Team 2, the crew of the Appomattox, will role-play on Dec. 19. We may have some one-shots around Christmas and New Year’s, and Team 1 is currently down for Jan. 9.

In the meantime, the Pathfinder/Skype: “the Vanished Landstelecom fantasy team will virtually convene again on Dec. 30. May all of you and your families have a safe and happy holiday season! -Gene

“Vortex” Update 5a.24 — Panic at the disco

"Vortex" Player Characters
"Felana" and the crew of the P.T.S. "Venture"

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for Session 5a.24 of the “Vortexspace opera campaign. Team 1 met on Monday, 14 November 2011, and is using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/Mindjammer, Bulldogs, Diaspora, and Limitless Horizons.

In one future, humanity has begun to colonize the Sol system, but ecological degradation and internecine conflicts persist. Open and official First Contact with Galactic societies, themselves at war, threaten Terra’s very survival. Will heroes rise to the challenges?

Two aliens and their human allies encountered xenophobes and megacorporate intrigues on and around Earth. After visiting factionalized Mars and acquiring a starship, they continued their mission of diplomacy and exploration to Titan, Tyche, and Alpha Centauri. From Van Maanen’s Star, the Olvar scout ship evaded a trap at Cetus Eridani and met priestesses and miners at Beta Canum Venaticorum before resuming its journey toward Oasis Station….

>>FATE 3e “Vortex” Team 1 (5a), crew of the Blackbird:

-“Syzygy” [Brian W.]-Trinoid (trilateral amphibious alien) xenologist with an organic laboratory and a pet cat named “Mr. Sniffles”

-“Tela” [Sara F.]-female Tharian (winged reptilian humanoid alien) escapee from the Encegulans, engineer

-“Chris McKee/Agent Prometheus” [Josh C.]-male Terran cyborg human sniper working for eugenicists at Black Box Security Co.

-“Aughest-vor…” [Jason E.R.]-male human from the Lemuria orbital city, onetime dilettante, solar-sail racer, pilot

-“Lt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K.]-male Terran human, burned-out officer and explorer in the Interplanetary Patrol

-“Scoop Chang” [Rich C.G.]-male Jovian “near-human,” interstellar reporter kidnapped by the Olvar; psi interested in First Contacts

-“Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A.]-male Terran “near-human,” seeker of enlightenment and investigator met aboard the Ma’ari ship Cyan Horizon

-“Gombo Shisel” [Rich L./absent]-male Mongolian/Martian human, former horse rancher and wilderness survival expert

-“Dr. Bucket” [Non-Player Character]-United Earth Authority astromech robot assigned to the Blackbird

>>”25 to 31 October 2194 A.D./C.E. or 0 Terran Galactic Era:” At BD+04-123, or 96 Piscium, the Blackbird had found a planet with ancient canals and dinosaur-like creatures. The explorers also encountered a Talari — a huge ark ship of the mysterious Ma’ari.

After some debate in reaction to the brusque invitation from the Ma’ari, the crew agrees to visit the Cyan Horizon. Aughest-vor… pilots the drop ship Dragonfly into a landing bay, where he is greeted by trade envoy Rilga and Asdann Fre’vel, an impatient Gustrall (orange-furred, antlered, avian/raptor-like alien) guard. The Ma’ari themselves turn out to be pale humanoids with large, dark eyes and are only about 1 meter tall.

Rilga, who is more relaxed in attitude than many of her fellow wanderers, takes the Terrans, Trinoid, and Tharian on a tour. She intensifies the ambient light locally since the Ma’ari see in the ultraviolet.

Tela asks to see engineering, and Rilga takes the group to a compartment that uses zero-point energy for both inertialess maneuvering and faster-than-light (FTL) travel. Syzygy notes that the Ma’ari have been starfarers for about 10,000 Earth years, so some of their technology is more advanced than the Blackbird‘s or even that of the Trinoids.

Asdann warns Chris McKee that because the Ma’ari have been traveling for so long, several areas of the Talari don’t respect central authority and may thus be dangerous for visitors. Aughest-vor notices that his party is being quietly watched by the curious Ma’ari as they walk around their vessel.

Lt. Kevin Reese shares superficial details about the Sol system and asks for a holographic display of the various species aboard the Cyan Horizon. He sees the positions of a few other humans, Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like mystics), and even Tharians! Tela manages to tear herself away from the power generators and is excited to meet others of her kind for the first time as an adult.

Scoop Chang instructs EVE, his hovering robotic camera, to record everything. He and Kevin warn robot Dr. Bucket back on the Blackbird to move confidential data to protect it from unauthorized Ma’ari scans. Syzygy and Aughest believe the effort is futile because of the difference in tech levels.

Rilga and Asdann escort Syzygy and company through garden levels and a waste processing plant. The xenologist is happy to obtain samples from scientist Murilo for later study and learns that Ma’ari biochemistry is different from that of humans. They then go to residential areas, including an Escher-like maze of passages with localized gravity and a space for artistic performances.

A group of Ma’ari sit with their legs folded as one named Kasfel telekinetically shapes and colors a living mass. Syzygy, who normally objects to the creation of artificial sentience, has no problem with this strange sculpture. Tela looks for other Tharians.

Aughest-vor, normally friend to all, finds the small, staring extraterrestrials disconcerting. Observant Lt. Reese spots a human in the audience, while Scoop briefly joins the circle telepathically. The retro hipster journalist finds that the Ma’ari do not have a hive mind.

Kasfel invites wary Chris to join him in Heliconian Twisting, a “biomechanical self-defense form of expression.” Agent Prometheus steps into the circle, thinking that he’ll be sparring with just Kasfel, but four groups of three Ma’ari each emerge!

One martial artist leaps toward Chris, who knocks him down and puts his knee on his chest. However, the diminutive foe is double-jointed and easily slips out of a joint lock. Syzygy, who has brought along his cat Mr. Sniffles in a carrier, senses nothing untoward.

Stealthy Tela sidles up to the Terran in the audience. Tariq Asrad Saladin places bets on the newcomers and describes himself as a “seeker of enlightenment.” Aughest grabs a bo stick, and Scoop uses Genurgy to grow wings and pick him up. Kevin goes to sweep the leg of yet another Ma’ari, and the lights go out!

Scoop activates EVE’s spotlight, and Syzygy asks Rilga about the rules of the sparring match. A second Ma’ari is hurled at Chris, but he blocks the blow. When all sound in the chamber is dampened, Tela uses an EMP gun to against the counterwave emitters, knocking out artificial gravity in the process!

The acrobatic Ma’ari have little difficulty maneuvering in weightlessness, but Mr. Sniffles isn’t happy. Scoop and solar-sail racer Aughest slam into a wall before pushing off back into the fray with bo sticks and mental bolts. Chris and Kevin hold their own until Kasfel agrees to call the match a draw, disappointing Tariq.

Rilga brings the away team to the main bridge of the Cyan Horizon, a spherical room whose crew stands on hovering platforms amid multicolored displays of ship functions and interstellar space. Capt. Lurandi directs drones that resemble hummingbirds and coolly greets the humans, still sweating from their recent exertions.

Syzygy asks the Ma’ari for help removing Chris’ cranial implants, and Lurandi orders physician “Felana” [Jenna R.P./Non-Player Character] to prepare the patient for surgery. While Tela and Aughest hope to learn more from archivist Hublo, Agent Prometheus’ self-preservation subroutine activates, and the sniper bolts for the door!

Lt. Reese tackles his onetime brother in arms (back on Mars), drawing a stun grenade — and the ire of Scoop and Lurandi. Kevin explains that Black Box Security Co. has compromised Chris’ health and free will, but Scoop and Tariq worry about offending the Ma’ari and that his faculties would be diminished if his cyberware is removed.

Felana reassures Syzygy that the microprocessors could be reimplanted if so desired by Chris and company. Asdann confiscates the interlopers’ weapons (and promises to return them later). Syzygy and Kevin stay with Agent Prometheus as Felana and her drones operate.

Rilga leads the others through twisting tunnels until they come to a nest of conduits near a sensor array. Tela sees a male Tharian, whose glider wings and low frill resemble her own, rather than that of another caste. Kedar seems just as awkwardly excited as Tela, unexpectedly bringing out Aughest, Scoop, and Tariq’s paternal instincts. They reluctantly give the gargoyle-like pair some privacy as they compare technical notes.

While Chris recuperates and Tela canoodles, the rest of the Blackbird‘s crew and Tariq go to meet Kligba Onagan, an Olvar who had contacted Syzygy on behalf of the Kharvamid Alliance. They enter a darkened apartment and talk with a hooded figure seated behind a curved desk.

Syzygy and Aughest respond that they are no assassins, and Scoop detects no mental activity. Tariq hangs back as the person is revealed to be a xenoid (alien android). The real Kligba arrives and warns that the Sol system is in the path of the dreaded Zarkonian Armada! Laransu and other worlds have already fallen [see earlier update for a list of alien species].

The agent of the Olvar Star League tells Syzygy, off the record, that the crustaceans will reach human space in about a Terran year. The Ma’ari are neutral, he says, but they encountered the Zarkonians millennia ago, and their arks could be helpful. Syzygy agrees that while they are often divided, humans have potential and are worth trying to save.

When the humans express a desire to head home to relay the warning to the United Earth Authority, Kligba responds that a Precursor FTL gate has been set up at Oasis Station, about 40 parsecs from Sol (three weeks’ travel for the Morifaiwet). It would enable them to communicate with or travel to Earth even more rapidly than with its REM drive.

Aughest-vor recognizes the need for Terrans to find allies and not to dawdle, as Kligba reminds him that humans will soon be traveling through the space they’re exploring. Lt. Reese hopes to gain strategic information from Kharvamid contacts at the interstellar crossroads, but Scoop is more optimistic about the Ru’ulok (reptilian heavy-gravity pirates) and Zarkonians.

The crew of the Blackbird reconvenes with Lurandi. Syzygy thanks the Ma’ari for their hospitality, and Tela invites Kedar to come along to Oasis Station. He and Tariq accept, with Kedar and Tela bunking in their scout ship’s engineering and Tariq taking Tela’s cabin. (Scoop had already taken Gombo’s quarters.)

Chris seems happy to be free of his cranial implants, but he is still interested in going hunting with Asdann. Aughest-vor asks xenoid Hublo for astrogation advice for avoiding Kuvor’s Veil, a nebula between the Sol system and Ru’ulok territory.

During a private meeting, Capt. Lurandi tells Lt. Reese that she’ll send Felana and a delegation to advise the U.E.A. as soon as possible. Kevin also wants to ask for a cloaking device, but Scoop instead recommends improving long-range FTL communications. Syzygy says they should weigh their options before making any more requests and departing….

I hope that everyone had a good time, even as we had a full basement! Brian, thanks again for picking up dinner from Pronti Bistro, and thanks to everyone for replenishing our munchies. Beruk, I’m glad you were able to make a cameo. I hope that Bruce and Rich can return the favor sometime to Team 2 (the grifters aboard the Appomattox).

I hope to see some of you at the Super MegaFest or whatever game we play during Byron V.O.’s visit this coming Saturday, Nov. 19! Remember that we won’t be role-playing on Nov. 20, 21, or 27, or Dec. 5, and let me know your availability for Nov. 28 and Dec. 12. Have a Happy Thanksgiving, -Gene