“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.48 — Rescue at the rendezvous

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.48 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 6 October 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures /MindjammerBulldogs, and an online dice roller.

In one future, humanity has started to overcome ecological challenges at the time of open and official First Contact with galactic societies. However, internecine war and the Zarkonian Armada devastate Earth and its colonies. A few million refugees, aided by some aliens, flee into deep space. Will heroes arise among them?

FATE 3e “Vortex: Terra’s Pride” (Team 3/5c) telecom Player Characters, as of autumn 2013:

Acting crew of the experimental scout ship Blackbird:

  • Capt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K.]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and commander of a Terran Ranger Corps task force, including the corvette Dauntless
  • Cmdr. Tela” [Sara F.]-female Tharian (gargoyle-like alien), escapee from the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), fond of humans; engineer with boyfriend Kedar and robot Dr. Bucket
  • Chris McKee/Agent Prometheus” [Josh C.]-male Terran human, former assassin for the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., sniper and seeker
  • Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A.]-male Terran “near-human” (mutant) wanderer with a past, investigator
  • Enkidu Aristheon” [Dexter V.H.]-male Seranen (pale empathic humanoid alien) exile, wilderness survival expert curious about Terrans and the Zarkonian threat; with sphinx-like companion Glaucon

Crew of the refitted space yacht Pina Colada and other ships:

  • Capt. Jasmine” [Sara F.]-female Martian Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” tiger), former pit fighter and crewmember of the Appomattox, searching for a homeworld for her people; with boyfriend Darcy
  • Hector Chavez” [Beruk A.]-male Terran human, former spy and crewmember on the Appomattox, cautious engineer and communications expert
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington III” [Josh C.]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance
  • Chiron” [Dexter V.H.]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity
  • Orion Starchaser” [Geoff C.]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker; departed for deep space
  • Lt.Cmdr. Sebastian Growlick” [Bruce K.]-male Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” lion), elite soldier, killed attacking the Zarkonian Armada with the frigate Crazy Horse
  • Cmdr. (Dr.) Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O.]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and planetary patriot; with robot PEPE and nurse Kala Sunitha Ciela on the frigate Sovereign
  • Lt.Cmdr. (Dr.) Billy ‘Hawkeye’ James [Bruce K.]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg technopsi) frontier medic and gambler; traveling with Sovereign as part of the Ilokar battle group escorting a fleet of Terran refugees

See other records for the previous crews of the Blackbird, Appomattox, and Gryphon.

“21 September to 5 October 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” The acting crew members of thePina Colada had met representatives of Aquarian colonists and moved Ruhema, a Precursor satellite, closer to Van Maanen’s Star to recharge. They also debated whether to stay to study the Precursor device or continue exploring.

The rest of the “Terra’s Pride” task force arrives, and the command crews of the ships meet to discuss their plans. Capt. Jasmine, Hector Chavez, and Lord Wallace Tubbington III agree to stay with the refitted yacht Pina Colada to study the ancient device and aid resistance to the Zarkonian Imperium.

Dr. Srinu Pahul and Billy “Hawkeye” James say their medical expertise is most needed among the refugees fleeing the Sol system. They prepare to go with the frigate Sovereign and patrol ship Tigress.

Capt. Kevin Reese expresses his desire to continue exploring the galaxy with the Blackbird and corvette Dauntless. Lt.Cmdr. Tela and Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer want to stay with their scout ship, and Lt. Nathan A. “Jellybean” Jessup hopes to retain his Raptor II-class aerospace fighter.

Kevin orders that the drop ship Dragonfly and ground-effect vehicle Tiger Hawk Sandstorm be kept in the Blackbird’s landing bay, if room can be found for Nate’s craft. Chris McKee and Tariq Asrad Saladin note that the Blackbird also offers opportunities for diplomacy and trade.

Orion Starchaser announces his intention to continue wandering, away from the Zarkonian Armada and the Terran fleets. The Aquarians (amphibious humanoids) or other aliens should be able to help the Pomuyan, responds Capt. Reese.

The Blackbird, Dauntless, Sovereign, and Tigress head to Delta Pavonis to rendezvous with the Ilokar battle group. As they emerge from Transit (faster-than-light travel), the ships receive a distress call. Apparently, pursuers have caught up with the human and “Synths” fleeing the Sol system.

U.S.N.V. Roger Young
The Terran heavy destroyer Ilokar

Capt. Reese calls battle stations and has the Blackbird lead a counterattack. Lt.Cmdr. Tela activates the experimental Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) vessel’s cloaking device. The Tharian engineer isn’t happy to see an Encegulan (slug-like slaver) destroyer.

Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer deftly pilots the Blackbird into the fray, as a Zarkonian carrier disgorges numerous fighters and Zurmiz Krott (biomechanical probes). Mr. McKee aims beam weapons from his gunner’s nest. “Jellybean” climbs into his “Raptor” to join the Ilokar’s squadrons defending about 1,000 civilian vehicles.

Mr. Saladin raises telepathic defenses, as enemy swarms attack the heavy destroyer Ilokar and other military escorts. Kevin boldly orders that a zero-point device be loaded on a torpedo. Chris swiftly destroys one of the gun emplacements guarding a Zarkonian launch bay.

Despite ursine Brun’s maneuvering, Tela’s EMP (electromagnetic pulse) weapon fails to affect the carrier, which inflicts heavy damage on the Ilokar. The Encegulans fire on the Babieca, and Nate is luckier than one Raptor pilot, who meets a fiery end thanks to Zarkonian lasers.

Former Interplanetary Patrol officer Kevin radios Lt. Clark Faddil aboard the Pinkerton to warn the Terran fleet to move away. Tela resets controls on the Dauntless to enable Blackbird gunner Chris to guide the modified missile.

Space marine Nate leads a Raptor squadron to clear a path for the missile, destroying several fighters. Brun spins the Blackbird around to retreat, as Chris sends the zero-point torpedo at the Zarkonian carrier, annihilating it and most of the enemy ships in a massive blast.

After the remaining foes are mopped up, the Ilokar command crew welcomes members of “Terra’s Pride” aboard. Adm. Jacques Pons and his first officer Capt. Jamie Jeppsen thank Capt. Reese and company for coming to their rescue.

Tela recognizes Lt. Hedy, a “Synth” (gynoid) engineer whom she helped in making Ceres Station Transit-capable. Dr. Pahul compares scientific notes with Dr. Brett Carson, who took custody of stolen Vatican relics.

Chris catches up with Sgt. Jane Walthrop, a fellow sniper with whom “Agent Prometheus” once served at Fort Olympus Mons in the Mars Confederacy. Brun shares astrogation data with Delphine (“Uplifted” dolphin) Lt.Cmdr. Kanuha.

Capt. Evander Scofield, commander of the Korelev, explains to Kevin that Capt. Karzan Laseme was the leader of the Zarkonians attacking the Ilokar. En. Chewitel Elba, a Felinoid (“Uplifted” panther), tells Tariq that the colony ships FirebrandNova Aquarius, and Faithful Starlight should join the refugee fleet soon.

Capt. Reese briefs Adm. Pons on the findings of the expedition to Van Maanen’s Star. The admiral approves use of the factory moon to create Transit drives for Aquarian and Terran refugees, as well as to emit an energy-draining field to block the Zarkonian Armada. The Union of Solar Nations officers agree to send the Blackbird back to the Pina Colada with personnel and supplies.

Adm. Pons also promotes members of Kevin’s crew, including Jasmine to captain, Tela and Brun to commander, and Nate and Billy to lieutenant commander. Kevin, Srinu, and Wallace retain their existing commissions, and Chris, Orion, Hector, and Tariq remain as civilians.

Capt. Reese requests that the Dauntless join the Blackbird in forward scouting, but Cmdr. Bearhammer and Mr. McKee argue in favor of fewer ships. Adm. Pons initially denies Kevin’s request but asks him to stay in charge of the Ranger Corps task force.

Cmdr. Tela helps Cmdr. Samantha Astin with repairs to the Ilokar and other ships. She also requests that boyfriend Kedar be transferred to join her and robot Dr. Bucket on the Blackbird. Cautious Tariq checks security records of the refugee fleet to see if he recognizes anyone.

Chris notes that it has been just over a year since he first met extraterrestrials under attack from Terra Prime terrorists at the Rio de Janeiro “beanstalk” (space elevator). He warns Cmdr. Alfonso Balaz of the Steel Sanguinis to beware of Ru’ulok (heavy gravity reptilian pirates) such as those at Beta Canum Venaticorum.

Dr. Pahul sends robot PEPE to get supplies and takes nurse Kala Sunitha Ciela for a romantic walk in an arboretum on one of the colony vessels. Lt.Cmdr. Jessup informs signal officer Sgt. Amarna Morales that her former assignment, theManitou, is among the surviving ships.

Nate later joins Brun, Kevin, Chris, and Hawkeye in search of a bar and a card game among the humans fleeing the Zarkonian devastation of Earth….

I hope that everyone enjoyed the “Vortex” space opera, which we’ve been playing since 2010 (and I’ve been running on and off for 30 years)! I look forward to someday continuing our adventures, but in the meantime, we’ll be working on characters for the “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Asian-style fantasy telecom game next Sunday.

Geoff now plans to run his street-level superhero scenario (using FATE Accelerated Edition ) on Oct. 20. I also look forward to seeing some of you at upcoming “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” and Jason E.R.’s “Star Wars: Dark Times” face-to-face sessions.

“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Session 5c.47 — Moving a moon

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.47 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 29 September 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/MindjammerBulldogs, and an online dice roller.

In one future, humanity has started to overcome ecological challenges at the time of open and official First Contact with galactic societies. However, internecine war and the Zarkonian Armada devastate Earth and its colonies. A few million refugees, aided by some aliens, flee into deep space. Will heroes arise among them?

FATE 3e “Vortex: Terra’s Pride” (Team 3/5c) telecom Player Characters, as of autumn 2013:

Acting crew of the refitted yacht Pina Colada:

  • Cmdr. Jasmine” [Sara F., primary]-female Martian Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” tiger), former pit fighter and crewmember of the Appomattox, searching for a homeworld for her people
  • Hector Chavez” [Beruk A., primary]-male Terran human, former spy and crewmember on theAppomattox, cautious engineer and communications expert
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and planetary patriot; with robot PEPE
  • Orion Starchaser” [Geoff C., primary]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • Billy ‘Hawkeye’ James [Bruce K., secondary]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg technopsi) frontier medic and gambler, recently re-enlisted with the Union of Solar Nations
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington III” [Josh C., secondary]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance
  • Chiron” [Dexter V.H., primary/absent]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

See other records for the previous crews of the Blackbird, Appomattox, and Gryphon.

“16 to 20 September 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” Following up on a visit by the Blackbird to Van Maanen’s Star, the crew of the Pina Colada visited Ruhema, the innermost satellite of gas giant Absolom. Itencountered abandoned mining operations and a strange energy drain.

An away team determined that the moon was in fact a Precursor device capable of synthesizing Transit (faster-than-light) drives and energy-draining force fields. Cmdr. Jasmine orders the landing party back to the Pina Colada for rest and recharge before trying to move Ruhema closer to its star for reactivation.

Artificial satellite
A machine moon

The feline captain asks her crew for ideas regarding restarting the ancient satellite. Hector Chavez worries that security systems may be reactivated. The onetime spy recommends using the orbital factory to assist resistance against the Zarkonian invaders.

Dr. Srinu Pahul says that Ruhema’s ability to extend its energy-draining field could help defend the refugees fleeing the Sol system. Lord Wallace Tubbington III suggests bringing Terrans back behind enemy lines to seek shelter around Van Maanen’s Star.

Orion Starchaser agrees to help pilot the machine moon, and Billy “Hawkeye” James points out that it could be used to relay interstellar messages. Chiron notes that Ruhema is not capable of faster-than-light travel itself, but it could produce advanced Transit drives.

Jasmine approves changing the massive satellite’s orbit, with its potential uses still to be determined. Hector devises small remote drones to map Ruhema’s innards, and Orion and Hawkeye coordinate on technopsi controls.

The Pina Colada is hailed by the Slippery Shlarp , an Aquarian vessel. After some discussion, Jasmine allows three of the amphibious humanoids come aboard the refitted space yacht. Lord Tubbington and company go to greet them.

Selora is a Salvorain, a descendant of miners stranded on Dorian Gray, the innermost moon of gas giant Methuselah, so named by the crew of the scout ship Blackbird. She is an adviser to Queen Shulis of the religious Corvell Unity.

Col. Bijar is a Salvorain aide to Gen. Qualish of the technocratic city-state of Albahaven. Delegate Porl is an Aquarian envoy sent to restore contact between the long-lost colonists and the rest of their people.

Wallace takes a gift of foodstuffs and takes the visitors to the swimming pool, which is festooned with plant life. Col. Bijar scans the pool, while Dr. Pahul examines the gift. Selora explains that the Aquarians have also lost their homeworld to the Zarkonian Imperium, and Orion offers his sympathy.

Col. Bijar and Cmdr. Jasmine chat about chains of command, and Hector covertly jams the Ministry of Observation’s continued scans from the bridge with Chiron. Wallace stands at the edge of the pool and learns from Porl that, like Ambassador Plorb at Oasis Station, he is looking for refugee aid.

Orion determines that none of the Salvorain is telepathic, although Selora does mention a Polarian water shaper named Gursh. Wallace asks Porl for assistance in moving and operating Ruhema, and Col. Bijar recommends himself and scientist Palangir.

The Salvorain also trade some information about the crustacean Zarkonians with the humans and their Olvar and Pomuyan allies. Lord Wallace invokes the Kharvamid Alliance, and while his homeworld is far, he invites the Aquarians to join the Terrans who have escaped the Zarkonian tyranny.

Hawkeye and Srinu are initially wary of the Aquarians, who they fear might contest a claim to Ruhema, but they soon realize that the aliens’ plight is similar to their own. Hector remains alert.

The Slippery Shlorp returns to Dorian Gray to pick up technicians. Jasmine later pilots the drop ship Dragonfly back to Ruhema’s surface. It carries ground vehicles such as hovercycles. Chiron stays with the Pina Colada in orbit.

Hector scans the Precursor device’s functionality, while Dr. Pahul checks for life-support capacity. Lord Tubbington explains the findings so far to Col. Bijar, Palangir, and other Salvorain. The away team takes a turbolift to a command center.

Hawkeye and Orion psionically link to gradually move the moon, which leaves Absolom to get closer to Van Maanen’s Star. Both the Terrans and Aquarians are pleased that the device, which is millions of years old, moves as gracefully as it does.

As Ruhema settles into a new orbit and begins to recharge, Chiron reports that the Pina Colada has detected incoming ships at the edge of the solar system. Hector, Hawkeye, and Srinu begin preparing for a fight, but Jasmine tells them to wait for the ships to be identified.

Capt. Phlegg, a plesiosaur-like Cetaran, greets the Pina Colada and Slippery Shlarp. He says that Delegate Plorb had asked for help relocating the Salvorain colonists — even before the Terrans arrived — so he has brought a pod of ships.

Wallace checks the Blackbird’s logs and confirms that the Cetarans are yet another amphibious species that poses little threat to humanity. The Pina Colada ’s command crew resumes its debate over what to do next.

Hector recommends using the factory moon to create Transit drives to help the Salvorain relocate. The engineer would also prefer to spend more time studying the device and possible manufacturing plans.

While Srinu agrees that Ruhema should be restarted as soon as possible, the doctor says he’d prefer to travel with the bulk of the Terran refugees and help “improve humanity.” By contrast, Wallace believes that Van Maanen’s Star could be a good base from which to build resistance on Earth against the Zarkonians.

Orion likes the idea of studying the Precursor moon more, while Hawkeye would rather explore behind enemy lines to learn about the Zarkonian Armada. The medic also expresses interest in scouting ahead of the Terran fleet to find new worlds and allies.

Cmdr. Jasmine misses her boyfriend Darcy and also wants to continue traveling. In the short term, she agrees with the idea of building FTL drives for the Salvorain, as well as then extending Ruhema’s energy-draining field. In the longer term, the crew agrees that more research and a stronger resistance are needed.

Jasmine a message to the rest of the “Terra’s Pride” Ranger Corps task force to rendezvous at Van Maanen’s Star rather than with the Ilokar battle group, which is headed to Oasis Station by way of Delta Pavonis.

Meanwhile, the Blackbird, Dauntless, Sovereign, and Tigress intercept a signal from the Pirate’s Paean, a small freighter and one of the last ships to escape the Zarkonian invasion of the Sol system.

Capt. Burnett confirms that billions of humans have perished in nuclear exchanges on Earth and the destruction of orbital colonies. Slug-like Encegulans have enslaved many of the survivors, and the Zarkonian Imperium has begun xenoforming (alien terraforming) of Earth and Mars.

“Chris McKee” [Josh] is disappointed that there doesn’t seem to be a way to quickly defeat the enemy, but “Capt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce] and “Lt. Nathan A. Jessup” [Byron] vow to help the rag-tag fleets in their struggle to survive and, someday, to retake their homeworlds….

It’s always cool to see what teamwork can accomplish, and I look forward to wrapping up our current “Vortex”adventures! Let me know if any of you have questions as the “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Asian-style fantasy campaign approaches.

In the meantime, it was good to see some of you at this week’s “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” game, and I’ll see some of you at Jason E.R.’s “Star Wars: Dark Times” session next week. Geoff’s street-level superhero scenario, using FATE Accelerated Editionis tentatively scheduled for Sunday, 13 October 2013.

“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.46 — Return to Ruhema

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.46 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 22 September 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/MindjammerBulldogs, and an online dice roller.

In one future, humanity has started to overcome ecological challenges at the time of open and official First Contact with galactic societies. However, internecine war and the Zarkonian Armada devastate Earth and its colonies. A few million refugees, aided by some aliens, flee into deep space. Will heroes arise among them?

FATE 3e “Vortex: Terra’s Pride” (Team 3/5c) telecom Player Characters, as of autumn 2013:

Acting crew of the refitted yacht Pina Colada:

  • Cmdr. Jasmine” [Sara F., primary]-female Martian Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” tiger), former pit fighter and crewmember of the Appomattox, searching for a homeworld for her people
  • Hector Chavez” [Beruk A., primary]-male Terran human, former spy and crewmember on theAppomattox, cautious engineer and communications expert
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and planetary patriot; with robot PEPE
  • Orion Starchaser” [Geoff C., primary]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • Billy ‘Hawkeye’ James [Bruce K., secondary]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg technopsi) frontier medic and gambler, recently re-enlisted with the Union of Solar Nations
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington III” [Josh C., secondary ]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance
  • Chiron” [Dexter V.H., primary/absent]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

See other records for the previous crews of the Blackbird, Appomattox, and Gryphon.

“10 to 12 September 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” While the Blackbird, Dauntless, and other ships in the Ranger Corps task force caught up with three slower-than-light colony ships, the Pina Colada traveled to Van Maanen’s Star.

The explorers visited Ruhema, the innermost satellite of Absolom, one of two gas giants in that solar system. Following up on the Blackbird’previous visit, they confirmed that it was no moon, but a huge Precursor machine! However, persistent power drains forced the away team back into orbit.

Precursor device
Mechanical moon

Cmdr. Jasmine recommends that any away team spend only an hour at a time on Ruhema. The “Uplifted” tiger also orders more specific scans of the device’s interior to find a control center.

Hector Chavez determines that the sphere is mostly composed of common elements, such as silicon and iron, with traces of rarer or synthetic substances. The engineer concludes that the Precursors most likely used local materials.

Orion Starchaser is eager to re-enter Ruhema through a proper entrance, rather than a mining shaft created by later interolopers such as Aquarian colonists. Lord Wallace Tubbington III suggests somehow moving the moon closer toVan Maanen’s Star so that it can recharge.

Billy “Hawkeye” James checks to see whether the Pina Colada could tow the object, but the refitted yacht doesn’t have the capability. Dr. Srinu Pahul scans for life signs.

Pilot Chiron stays with the Pina Colada in orbit as Jasmine takes the Dragonfly back to the artificial moon’s surface. The drop ship lands near a protrusion that hasn’t been disturbed in millennia. The landing party leaves the Tiger Hawk Sandstorm ground-effect vehicle in its bay and walks out in vacc suits.

Hector scans the archway and finds a manual override not designed for human hands. Mischievous Orion brandishes a crowbar but then joins Billy in trying to open the locked door with technopsi.

After amateur archaeologist Dr. Pahul realizes that the arch is just the top half of a portal, mighty Jasmine leads Lord Tubbington and Hawkeye in clearing rubble from the entrance. The junior medic also spots potential security countermeasures and warns his companions to stand clear of them.

Jasmine and Hector check the vacc suits’ power levels, which are dropping because of an as-yet-unexplained drain. Srinu points out the similarity between the portal and the jump gate that the Blackbird’former crew activated near Oasis Station.

Orion finds a key of sorts — a rhythm encoded on the arch. He taps on the ground with his crowbar, and the ancient aperture opens. The group soon finds itself speeding into the machinery on an elevator with force-field windows.

The psions direct the turbolift to go to a control node, which they find near the hollow core of Ruhema. Orion identifies control panels in the alien room and establishes a telepathic link with Hawkeye.

Dr. Pahul and Lord Tubbington look at the blinking holographic displays and recognize some of the functions they describe. Scientist Srinu sees environmental controls, and Wallace believes the satellite has industrial rather than military intent.

Cautious Hector takes detailed recordings, and Jasmine reminds her companions to look for a way to stop the energy drain. Orion calls up a manual and is nearly overwhelmed by images. Rookie Hawkeye submits a query for power control.

Srinu concludes that although the interface is sophisticated, Ruhema does not host a true A.I. (artificial intelligence). Wallace narrows down the satellite’s potential purposes to a mobile factory, a facility to collect solar energy for passing ships, a signal-boosting interstellar relay station, and a force-field generator.

As Orion checks the moon’s batteries, he is inadvertently drained of some psychic energy himself. Hawkeye finds propulsion and personnel logs, and blacks out. While the human is unable to translate them, he explains that he saw the walking stick builders maneuver Ruhema to safety when Van Maanen’s Star went nova.

The pre-ascension Precursors apparently intended to return but never did, Hawkeye says. Dr. Pahul searches for any inventory of manufactured goods but finds none. Wallace, however, discovers schematics for efficient Transit (faster-than-light) drives.

The energy drain could also provide protection against the nanites (microscopic robots) emitted by Zarkonian probes, Hector says. He and Wallace continuing examining controls to find a way to stop the seepage — or extend it. The Terrans hope that Ruhema could prove useful to defending the refugee fleet from the Zarkonian Armada.

Orion and Hawkeye switch Ruhema to a standby mode, with their suits at 55%. Wallace studies records to verify that the nova was natural and not a side-effect of the device’s use. Jasmine asks her crewmates if they can find a way to change the artifact’s orbit around Van Maanen’s Star.

Orion finds possible plans for force-field generators, and Srinu isn’t sure if life support can be reactivated. Hector finds attitude controls and suggests recharging the team’s vacc suits. Cmdr. Jasmine orders the away team to head back to the surface.

Now that they have figured out Ruhema’s inner workings, the explorers can rest and recharge their gear before returning to move the mechanical moon….

I’m impressed by the progress the Pina Colada’s crew made in solving the riddle of Ruhema! I look forward to wrapping up your missions in the next few weeks, as well as to Geoff’s FATE Accelerated Edition superhero one-shot and the upcoming “Vanished LandsA New Dawn” Asian-style fantasy campaign.

In the meantime, I’ll see some of you at upcoming “Star Wars: Dark Times” and “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” sessions.

“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.45 — the “Faithful Starlight”

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.45 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 15 September 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/MindjammerBulldogs, and an online dice roller.

In one future, humanity has started to overcome ecological challenges at the time of open and official First Contact with galactic societies. However, internecine war and the Zarkonian Armada devastate Earth and its colonies. A few million refugees, aided by some aliens, flee into deep space. Will heroes arise among them?

FATE 3e “Vortex: Terra’s Pride” (Team 3/5c) telecom Player Characters, as of summer 2013:

Acting crew of the scout ship Blackbird and corvette Dauntless:

  • Capt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and leader of the “Terra’s Pride” homeworld security task force
  • Lt.Cmdr. Tela” [Sara F., secondary]-female Tharian (gargoyle-like alien), escapee from the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), fond of humans; engineer with boyfriend Kedar
  • Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer” [Geoff C., secondary]-male Martian Ursoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” bear), former wrestler, pilot
  • Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A., secondary]-male Terran “near-human” (mutant) wanderer with a past, investigator
  • Chris McKee /Agent Prometheus” [Josh C., primary]-male Terran human, former assassin for the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., sniper and seeker

“11 to 15 September 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After defeating a squadron of Zarkonian fighters near Altair, part of the Terran Ranger Corps task force escorts the slower-than-light colony ship Faithful Starlight to shelter in an asteroid belt.

The Blackbird and Dauntless send an away team to the generation vessel, as the Sovereign and Tigress make repairs and keep watch for more enemy ships. Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer stays aboard the Blackbird to coordinate.

Capt. Kevin Reese pilots a Morgan-class shuttle, and Tariq Asrad Saladin scans for crew members infected by nanites (microscopic robots). Lt.Cmdr. Tela brings Dr. Bucket to present data to the colonists, as Lt. Nathan A. Jessup and Chris McKee check their sidearms.

Lama Vishal Pratik, commander of the Faithful Starlight, and Rabbi Irene Gimbel, communications officer, greet their visitors. Capt. Reese makes introductions, and the humans are pleased to meet Tharian Tela, their first extraterrestrial.

Slower-than-light colony ship
The third generation colony ship

The group goes to the main bridge, a round garden-like chamber with tastefully distributed seats and display panels. Lt. Jessup and Mr. McKee observe that some of the robed crew members are likely armed and armored.

Mr. Saladin is surprised to learn that there are 30,000 inhabitants, more than on either of the previous colony ships visited. Kevin informs the Faithful Starlight’s commanders of the Zarkonian invasion of the Sol system. He also recommends that the ship heads to rendezvous with the refugee fleet.

Lama Pratik calmly but promptly asks Imam Yasmine Nawaz to install a Transit (faster-than-light) drive with help from Tela and Dr. Bucket. Tariq senses Rabbi Gimbel communicating with personnel telepathically.

Brother Dwight Van readily agrees to review security measures with Nate and Chris. Pundit Elliott Hsiao, a planetologist and musician, requests astrogational data from Brun, who is scanning for Zurmiz Krott (biomechanical probes).

Prelate Lucy Ying, the Faithful Starlight’s first officer, quickly tells Kevin how her ancestors fled religious wars on Earth and struggled to overcome their differences during their first few decades in deep space.

Houngan Sunil Foreman, the laid-back chief medical officer, shares epidemiological data with Tariq. Sister Dao Desc Wei and Alejandra Darjaniv explain how their life-support systems are strained by population pressures. Kevin reassures them that other colony ships should be able to help.

Tela’s reputation as a miracle worker continues to spread as she adds containment mechanisms to the Faithful Starlight’s fusion generators and deploys the Transit drive with cyborg Imam Nawaz, Dr. Bucket, and Nate.

As they walk through crowded corridors, Nate and Chris see that the religious communities are well-mixed, perhaps providing a model for other Terran refugees. Bro. Van worries about submitting to military command, but Chris says that a fair amount of autonomy is likely.

Nate offers to take his battered Raptor II-class aerospace fighter for an external examination of the Faithful Starlight, but Brun helps by using the Blackbird ’s more advanced scanners. The ursine officer also watches for the Zarkonian carrier that recently passed through the Altair system.

A Zurmiz Krott probe (also known as a “Harbinger of the Righteous Order of Submission”) approaches, and Rabbi Irene coordinates a psionic defense. Unfortunately, Brun is caught in the middle and suffers a headache because he is linked to the Blackbird as pilot.

The rabbi apologizes and explains her techniques to Kevin, Tariq, and Nate, who say that they could be useful to the Terran fleet. Meanwhile, Chris takes Bro. Dwight via shuttle to his quarters to share some modern firearms.

Capt. Reese tells Lama Pratik and Prelate Ying that they have more harmonious passengers and crew than the scientist castes on the Firebrand or the megacorp factions on the Nova Aquarius. He then sends a message to Col. Shan Gray informing his superior that free humanity has grown by several thousand more.

As the Faithful Starlight goes to join the Firebrand, the Nova Aquarius, and the Ilokar battle group headed toward Oasis Station, the “Terra’s Pride” task force sets a course for Van Maanen’s Star, where the Pina Colada went to examine Precursor relics.

Acting crew of the refitted yacht Pina Colada:

  • Cmdr. Jasmine” [Sara F., primary]-female Martian Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” tiger), former pit fighter and crewmember of the Appomattox, searching for a homeworld for her people
  • Hector Chavez” [Beruk A., primary]-male Terran human, former spy and crewmember on the Appomattox, cautious engineer and communications expert
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and planetary patriot; with robot PEPE
  • Orion Starchaser” [Geoff C., primary]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • Billy ‘Hawkeye’ James [Bruce K., secondary]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg technopsi) frontier medic and gambler, recently re-enlisted with the Union of Solar Nations
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington III” [Josh C., secondary]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance
  • Chiron” [Dexter V.H., primary ]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

See other records for the previous crews of the Blackbird, Appomattox, and Gryphon.

Meanwhile, the Pina Colada had entered that solar system around the same time that the rest of the task force had encountered the Nova Aquarius. Cmdr. Jasmine orders scans.

Pilot Chiron reports that the white dwarf has two gas-giant planets, Absolom and Methuselah. The outer planet, Methuselah, has two moons, Whistler’s Mother, an iceball, and Dorian Gray, home to descendants of stranded Aquarian miners.

Lord Wallace Tubbington III explains that nearly a Terran year ago, the Morifaiwet/Blackbird had negotiated a settlement between the city-state of Albahaven and the more pious Corvell Unity.

Wallace and Orion Starchaser express interest in contacting the Salvorain settlers. Dr. Srinu Pahul and Billy “Hawkeye” James recommend against any hails. Jasmine decides to do so only after checking abandoned mining operations.

The Pina Colada passes rocky Ezekiel and frigid Elric, Absolom’s outer moons. Hector Chavez notes the presence of a buoy claiming Ruhema, the innermost satellite, for Aughest-vor’s [Jason E.R.] holding company OPM-Pharsmor. Chris McKee had expressed interest in searching for “sun killers” for the fight against the Zarkonian Armada.

Cmdr. Jasmine boards the Dragonfly drop ship to Ruhema with Dr. Pahul, Orion, Lord Tubbington, and Billy. Hector and Chiron stay with the Pina Colada. The apparently lifeless moon is covered with dust and piles of slag.

Hawkeye drives the Tiger Hawk Sandstorm ground-effect vehicle to the previous site. The explorers find a tunnel entrance and a half-sunken piece of drilling equipment. Srinu monitors for power fluctuations based on warnings of previous energy drains.

As the away team debates what to do, impatient Orion walks into the tunnel. The Pomuyan wanderer sees the slag give way to machinery all around and realizes that Ruhema is no moon — it’s some sort of giant device! Jasmine and the others follow.

Srinu and Hawkeye try to apply their archaeological expertise, but there are no obvious labels or controls. Telepaths Orion and Hawkeye sense a hum. Orion shouts, “Wake up!” and throws a rock but receives no response.

The spelunkers suspect that Ruhema’s controls are psionic when Orion points and their magnetic boots shift in a few centimeters one direction. However, the power levels of the team’s space suits drop to 75%, then 40%. Jasmine orders a retreat after venturing 200 meters beneath the surface.

Hawkeye struggles to restart the Tiger Hawk Sandstorm, and Jasmine must also contend with power drains to get the Dragonfly to lift off. Back in orbit, Srinu suggests scanning for a main bridge rather than a site of later scavenger operations.

Wallace and Chriron point out that given Ruhema’s hunger for energy, it’s possible that it was sated and fully operational back before Van Maanen’s Star became a white dwarf. That would put the Precursor device’s age in the millions, if not billions, of Earth years.

The Pina Colada resumes scanning Ruhema from orbit, as Cmdr. Jasmine sets time limits for future away missions….

I look forward to wrapping up the current chapter of our space opera, as well as Geoff’s upcoming FATE Accelerated Edition superhero one-shot and the “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” telecom campaign (using the AD&D1 Oriental Adventures and the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game).

In the meantime, remember to make sure that your Player Character records reflect the current total of 40 skill points. I’ll see most of you online this coming Sunday, Sept. 22, or at Jason E.R.’s “Star Wars: Dark Times” session (using Savage Worldsat Rich C.G.’s place on Monday.

“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.44 — Dogfight at Altair

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.44 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 8 September 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/MindjammerBulldogs, and an online dice roller.

In one future, humanity has started to overcome ecological challenges at the time of open and official First Contact with galactic societies. However, internecine war and the Zarkonian Armada devastate Earth and its colonies. A few million refugees, aided by some aliens, flee into deep space. Will heroes arise among them?

FATE 3e “Vortex: Terra’s Pride” (Team 3/5c) telecom Player Characters, as of summer 2013:

Acting crew of the scout ship Blackbird and corvette Dauntless:

  • Capt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and leader of the “Terra’s Pride” homeworld security task force
  • Lt.Cmdr. Tela” [Sara F., secondary]-female Tharian (gargoyle-like alien), escapee from the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), fond of humans; engineer with boyfriend Kedar
  • Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer” [Geoff C., secondary]-male Martian Ursoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” bear), former wrestler, pilot
  • Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A., secondary]-male Terran “near-human” (mutant) wanderer with a past, investigator
  • Chris McKee /Agent Prometheus” [Josh C., primary]-male Terran human, former assassin for the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., sniper and seeker

See other records for the previous crews of the Pina ColadaBlackbird, Appomattox, and Gryphon.

“9 to 10 September 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After visiting the Firebrand and Nova Aquariuspart of the “Terra’s Pride” Ranger Corps task force caught up with the Faithful Starlight, a third slower-than-light vessel. However, a Zarkonian squadron had also spotted the generation colony ship.

From the Dauntless , Capt. Kevin Reese orders sometime lover Capt. Elektra Contos and the Terran patrol ship Tigress to fall back to guard the Faithful Starlight. Lt. Harry “Monty Hall” Takahari Jr. takes the frigate Sovereign to pose as a “wounded bird.”

Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer sets the Blackbird on a course toward the 12 approaching fighters. Lt.Cmdr. Tela activates the scout ship’s cloaking device. Lt. Nathan A. Jessup is among the pilots launching Raptor II-class interceptors from the Dauntless. “Jellybean” also recommends using Altair’s wide asteroid belt for cover.

Chris McKee sits in the Blackbird’s gunner’s nest, as Tariq Asrad Saladin reviews tactical maneuvers and watches for telepathic contact. Chris and Tariq recommend that the stealthy Olvar vessel go ahead instead of the less-maneuverable Sovereign.

Terra's Pride skirmish in space
The Altair system at the start of the battle

Tariq successfully jams enemy signals, and Lt. Jessup [see map, NJr] flies straight for the Zarkonian fighter craft. Lt.Cmdr. Tela readies the scout ship Blackbird’s engines for a Transit (faster-than-light) microjump. Chris begins “painting” targets as they come into range.

Capt. Reese climbs into another Raptor, leaving Capt. Helena Cain in command of the corvette Dauntless [Dnt]. Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer directs the Sovereign [Svr] and Dauntless to head toward Altair’s asteroid belt. The ursine officer also sends four fighters to escort the Tigress [Tgr] and Faithful Starlight [FSt], keeping six others [Rpt] close by.

Brun then takes the Blackbird [Blk] toward the Zarkonians and lays down covering fire for Chris. Tela drops the cloak and diverts power. Tariq scans for telepathic wavelengths to jam, and Chris destroys one fighter [Zf3] with a particle beam.

Kevin engages the lead craft [Zf1], flying defensively before destroying it. Nate also exchanges fire, but his guns are damaged. Another enemy [Zf4] singes Kevin’s bird. The rest of the Raptor squadron fires [Josh/Non-Player Characters], damaging some Zarkonian craft [Zf4 and Zf7] as they fire on the Blackbird.

The Blackbird turns to retrieve space marine Nate’s fighter, and pilot Brun damages another foe [Zf5]. Engineer Tela and droid Dr. Bucket activate spider drones for damage control. Tariq detects nanites (microscopic robots) being emitted by the Zarkonians. The wanderer warns his crewmates.

Sniper Chris takes out one fighter [Zf11], and former cop Kevin pursues and eliminates another [Zf5]. “Jellybean” brings his Raptor into the Blackbird’s launch bay for an ungraceful landing. The other Terran fighters narrowly evade gamma-ray lasers and fire on the Zarkonian [Zf4] attacking Kevin.

Lt. Takahari [Geoff/N.P.C.], commanding the Sovereign, destroys one fighter [Zf2] and wings another [Zf6]. Capt. Cain [Beruk/N.P.C.] finishes it off, but the sensors of the Dauntless are damaged [Zf10]. Fortunately, the corvette evades another foe [Zf8].

Brun dodges one pursuer [Zf9], and Tela and Tariq hastily repair Nate’s Raptor. Chris shoots down one craft [Zf12] before it can leave the area, as Kevin exchanges blasts with another [Zf7]. The rest of the Terran squadron maneuvers at high speed.

The Sovereign destroys one fighter [Zf8] and moves to assist the Raptors. Its missiles go wide, possibly foiled by nanites [Zf4]. The Dauntless obliterates another of the crustacean Zarkonians [Zf10], whose armada has conquered the Sol system.

The aliens [Zf9] swing back to the Blackbird , and some [Zf4, Zf7] continue to engage the Raptors. Tariq detects a larger Zarkonian ship entering the Altair system and recommends that all Terrans head for the asteroid belt.

Brun and Tela successfully execute the microjump, as Chris provides cover for the Tigress and Faithful Starlight. Tharian Tela warns that a second jump won’t be immediately possible.

Kevin blasts another enemy [Zf4], and Nate relaunches and shoots at two others [Zf9, Zf7]. The human pilots manage to outfly their opponents and destroy the last of the fighters, even as they take more damage themselves. The Raptors rejoin the Dauntless and Sovereign and head for cover.

The Terran task force waits for several tense hours as the Zarkonian carrier passes through the system. It sends Zurmiz Krott (biomechanical probes) to examine the destroyed fighters, but they don’t enter Altair’s asteroid belt.

After regrouping, the Blackbird hails the Faithful Starlight. Rabbi Irene Gimbel, communications officer of the colony ship, relays Capt. Vishal Pratik’s gratitude and invites an away team to visit….

I hope that everyone enjoyed our space battle — which used Google Docs for real-time shared editing — and I look forward to wrapping up the current chapter of our “Vortex” adventures! In the meantime, remember that your P.C.snow have 40 skill points each.

I’ve begun compiling notes for our upcoming “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” telecom fantasy game, which will likely use AD&D1 Oriental Adventures and the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing GameI also look forward to Geoff’s street-level superhero one-shot, which will use FATE Accelerated Edition.

We’ve had a busy summer, and I look forward to settling back into a regular gaming schedule. In the meantime, I’ll see some of you at my upcoming “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” and Jason E.R.’s “Star Wars: Dark Times” face-to-face sessions. Josh, I hope your own games go well! Later, -Gene