“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Sessions 42, 43 — the “Nova Aquarius”

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Sessions 5c.42 and 43 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on 28 July and 4 August July 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.

“4 to 8 September 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” The “Terra’s Pride” Ranger Corps task force caught up with the Firebrand, a slower-than-light generation colony ship. It helped the scientists install a Transit drive and fended off Encegulan fighter craft allied with the Zarkonian Armada.

The Blackbird, Dauntless, Tigress, and Sovereign continue toward Altair, while the Pina Colada heads to Van Maanen’s Star. The Terran squadron finds the Nova Aquarius, another colony ship, but it doesn’t immediately respond to Tariq Asrad Saladin’s hails on multiple frequencies.

Eventually, someone aboard the Nova Aquarius replies, asking for an hour’s delay before docking. Capt. Kevin Reese is surprised by the unusual request, and Lt.Cmdr. Tela and Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer scan the sleek vessel.

Terran generation colony ship
The Nova Aquarius

They find that sections of the large ship have fallen into disrepair and that the inhabitants are clustered into separate sections. The scouts are also alarmed to find that, unlike the Firebrand, whose population grew in the decades since it left Earth, the complement aboard the Nova Aquarius has shrunk.

Chris McKee worries about the presence of agents still loyal to the eugenicists of Black Box Security Co., and Lt. Nathan A. Jessup readies fellow space marines for a potential boarding action.

Capt. Reese ultimately agrees to the request from the Nova Aquarius, and he orders three ensigns to join the away team. Brun heads to a Raptor II-class fighter, but Kevin asks the ursine pilot to stand down.

Meanwhile, Tariq reads old records and learns that the colonists left Earth, the L-5 orbital habitats, and the Lunar Free State after the nation-states of the time fought with megacorporations during the First Interplanetary War.

The boarding party dons formal uniforms and takes a Morgan-class shuttle from the Dauntless to the Nova Aquarius. Capt. Reese asks his team to try to contact each of the factions. Tariq reviews ship logs and notes that the colonists got along well for their first few decades in space.

Capt. Reese meets Capt. Soledad Homara, who is reluctant to change course from what is expected to be a profitable destination. Robot Dr. Bucket shows holograms of the Zarkonian Armada to underscore the seriousness of the threat to humanity’s survival.

Lt.Cmdr. Tela offers support to Cmdr. Vidal Gaspari, the restless chief engineer of the Nova Aquarius. He is eager to accept the Tharian’s aid but says that he’ll need approval from each function-based group on the ship.

Lt. Jessup asks Cmdr. Josiah Lung about whether the colonists have made First Contact with any extrasolar species. “None yet,” says the first officer, who adds that he has heard some of the news from distant Earth. They also talk about difficulties with food distribution.

Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer asks for a tour of the astrogational facilties, while Tariq talks to chief medical officer Dr. Brandy Hendricks. The frustrated physician shares her empathic impressions with Tariq and describes illnesses and tensions that have affected her crew.

Capt. Homara encourages the visitors to make a plea to the various factions to accept an FTL (faster-than-light) drive and change course. Kevin, Tela, Nate, and Dr. Bucket go to the Versar Bul Society.

They meet “Vice President Gregor Devoss” [Beruk/Non-Player Character], chief of human resources, and “Rico Santos,” V.P. [Geoff/N.P.C.], a Delphine (“Uplifted” orca) journalist. Devoss aspires to a higher office, while Santos is reluctant to join other Terrans in space. The bioengineered “Synth” also counters Capt. Homara’s requests with clever propaganda.

Nate, Brun, Tela, and Tariq then visit the Hakidouyma Association, which is responsible for internal transactions. Quartermaster “Ms. Ilene Kimball” [Josh/N.P.C.] outmaneuvers Tariq’s psionic probes, and hydroponics chief “Mr. Chad Rawlins” [Bruce/N.P.C.] expresses willingness to work with those fleeing Earth but doesn’t trust the other factions.

As Tela works with Cmdr. Gaspari, Kevin, Brun, and Tariq go to House Phoenix, the scientific caste aboard the Nova Aquarius. Cyborg “Sheik Yakov Kamallah” [Byron/N.P.C.] asserts that he is waiting for the retrorockets to fire, signaling arrival at a new world. “Lady Simone Ashrael” [Sara/N.P.C.], a “Chim” (“Uplifted” simian) planetologist, explains how House Phoenix desires long-term stability.

By the time the members of “Terra’s Pride” regroup and report to Capt. Homara, she has invitations to a formal ball at which all three factions will meet to discuss the Zarkonian threat.

At the ball, Capt. Reese dances and flirts with Capt. Homara, as well as with people from the Versar Bul Society, the Hakidouyma Association, and House Phoenix. Lt.Cmdr. Tela hangs out by the buffet tables with Cmdr. Gaspari and other engineers.

Mystic Tariq keeps feelers out for psionics, as sniper Chris and the three ensigns watch the assembly from a balcony. Burly Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer joins a poker game with Hakidouyma’s Rawlins, while Lt. Jessup dances with a few colonists wearing vintage garb.

Ms. Kimball nods to V.P. Devoss and walks toward the captain. Tariq tries to intercept the Hakidouyma associate, who is unable to read his mind. A loud explosion near the food startles and injures several colonists.

Kevin and Nate move to defend Capt. Homara, with Chris and Brun in reserve. Tariq helps Dr. Hendricks attend to the wounded, and V.P. Devoss claims that the lack of security is a failure of Capt. Homara’s leadership at a time of sensitive negotiations. V.P. Santos broadcasts the blast scene and Devoss’ speech to all aboard the Nova Aquarius.

Tela examines the heating implements and finds signs of an overload but no physical evidence of tampering. The Versar Bul Society leaders note that Cmdr. Gaspari and House Phoenix are responsible for maintaining ship systems.

The engineers and commanders soon find themselves surrounded by an angry mob. Brun wades in to disperse the crowd, and Chris is disappointed that no shots are fired. Capt. Homara resists calls by V.P. Devoss and Ms. Kimball for a plebiscite.

Tensions simmer aboard the Nova Aquarius as the away team from the Blackbird and Dauntless prepares to leave. Capt. Homara tells Capt. Reese and Tariq that she will change course to join other Terran ships, regardless of the upcoming election. They give her an override for the Transit drive.

Tela temporarily blocks Versar Bul’s transmissions and gives Cmdr. Gaspari enough information to complete the FTLinstallation. Nate flies a patrol, while Brun finishes his poker game before setting course for the next jump. Chris provides a security assessment.

Dissatisifed with affairs aboard the Nova Aquarius, the task force hopes for a better reception at the Faithful Starlight, the last of the three generation vessels it plans to assist. The Terran ships drop out of Transit when scanners detect a Zarkonian squadron heading toward the slow colony ship.

Capt. Reese orders Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer to plot an intercept course. Warships Dauntless and Tigress take the lead. “Jellybean” Jessup recommends luring the enemy toward Altair’s wide asteroid belt for an ambush.

Tariq reviews tactical maneuvers, and Chris gets into the gunner’s nest on the Blackbird. Lt.Cmdr. Tela activates the scout ship’s cloaking device. Dr. Bucket informs her that it unfortunately can’t be extended to other vessels.

The frigate Sovereign brings up the rear, posing as a “wounded bird.” Kevin boards the Tigress and sends theDauntless to guard the Faithful Starlight. Nate launches his Raptor as the 12 Zarkonian fighters swoop in….

Our adventures will resume next Sunday! In the meantime, I’ve enjoyed Rich’s latest School Daze one-shot, and I look forward to running the “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” fantasy campaign on Mondays as summer winds down. Be seeing you, -Gene

“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.41 — Firefight for the “Firebrand”

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.41 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 21 July 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.

“1 to 3 September 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” As the Zarkonian Armada attacked the Sol system, “Terra’s Pride” regrouped at Epsilon Eridani. The Ranger Corps task force then delivered a Transit (faster-than-light) drive to the Firebrand, a generation colony ship crewed by scientists.

Capt. Kevin Reese and Capt. Mark Tarthan supervise the installation of the new FTL engines. Tariq Asrad Saladin exchanges barbed words with Eshe Kalisha, his ex-wife.

Lt.Cmdr. Tela and robot Dr. Bucket help engineers Kamiko Chu, Georgio Napolitano, and Gabby Baluande update theFirebrand ’s antiquated systems. Chris McKee stays in his quarters to meditate.

Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer grows bored after giving astrogation advice to Charlie ibn Ali and condescending droid Astro-V. The burly pilot daydreams of “Ursoid” (“Synth,” “Uplifted” bear) women and a cold beer.

Lt. Nathan A. Jessup takes the callsign “Jellybean” and patrols the area in a Raptor II-class aerospace fighter. Capt. Aveeshi Stormsea, the Aquarian (amphibious humanoid alien) commander of the frigate Sovereign, reports that sensors have detected approaching spacecraft.

Nate goes to investigate and finds six long-range bogies. Kevin scrambles to another fighter, while Brun and Chris get back on the Blackbird. The Dauntless, Tigress, and Sovereign guard the Firebrand, while Tela and Tariq stay behind to continue their work.

Tariq evades Eshe and double-checks Dr. Surita Goldstein’s records regarding the health of the colonists. He finds no sign of infection from nanites (microscopic robots) emitted by the Zurmiz Krott/Harbingers of the Righteous Order of Submission, biomechanical probes of the Zarkonians.

The six incoming ships ignore Lt. Jessup’s fighter, as Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer takes the Blackbird on a Transit microjump and an intercept course. “Jellybean” falls behind the unidentified spacecraft and blasts two of them.

Hammerhead in action
Fighter combat, from “Space: Above and Beyond”

Mr. McKee taps the Blackbird’s Olvar Star League database and identifies the attackers as Encegulans. This worries Lt.Cmdr. Tela, who was once enslaved by the slug-like aliens. The Encegulan vehicles head toward the Firebrand.

Gunner Chris destroys a third foe, as pilot Brun targets the engines of a fourth fighter. The Encegulans fire on the Blackbird but do little damage. Kevin’s Raptor destroys the lead ship and singes another.

Nate and Chris make short work of the last two vessels. Unfortunately, there is no alien technology left worth salvaging. Back on the Firebrand, Capt. Tarthan is grateful, and Capt. Reese asks that he join the refugee fleet with theIlokar battle group, which is headed toward Oasis Station.

Capt. Tarthan and his crew are reluctant to accept Terran military command, but they agree that the civilian colonists are too vulnerable in Zarkonian-held space.

Tariq delivers the corpse of a Zarkonian (crustacean alien) retrieved at Sirius/Canis Major to Dr. Goldstein for further study. He and Kevin also warn Capt. Tarthan about Elisha’s terrorist past and regal ambitions, but they are unable to obtain extradition.

Meanwhile, TX-29 fighter pilots Isabel Flaben, Jonas Ludivico [Beruk/Non-Player Character], and Kel Batista [Bruce/N.P.C.] greet Nate, Brun, and Chris as returning heroes. Chris raids “Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron] whiskey cabinet for the celebration.

Capt. Reese gets a letter of recommendation from Capt. Tarthan for the next slower-than-light ships, the Nova Aquarius and the Faithful Starlight. Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer sets a course.

At the Nova Aquarius, which left Earth nearly a century ago crewed by megacorporate employees, Tariq’s scans find fewer life signs than aboard the Firebrand. The colony ship doesn’t reply to hails.

Brun brings the Blackbird to a landing bay, but the doors are closed, so he brings the scout ship in to dock. Nate and Chris ready tactical gear, as Tela prepares tools and the second FTL drive. Kevin designates three ensigns to join his away team….

I’m still catching up on notes for various one-shots and the “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” fantasy campaign. Brian, I enjoyed your Jenga-based SF scenario, and Jason, I look forward to your “Star Wars: Dark Timesminiseries (using Savage Worlds) this fall.

In the meantime, please remember to make sure that your P.C. records are up to date on Obsidian Portal and that I’m aware of any changes. Be seeing you, -Gene

“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.40 — Into the black

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.40 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 14 July 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures /MindjammerBulldogs, and an online dice roller.

In one future, humanity has begun to colonize the Sol system, but environmental degradation, population pressures, and internecine conflict persist. The rediscovery of mystical abilities and open and official First Contact with galactic societies, themselves at war, threaten Terra’s very survival. Can heroes rise to the challenges ?

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

Crew of the refitted space yacht Pina Colada:

  • Capt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and member of the Blackbird and Dauntless crews; homeworld security task force commander
  • 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
  • Chris McKee /Agent Prometheus” [Josh C., primary]-male Terran human, former assassin for the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., sniper and seeker aboard the Blackbird and Pina Colada
  • Orion Starchaser” [Geoff C., primary]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and planetary patriot; with robot PEPE
  • Chiron” [Dexter V.H., primary/absent]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

Acting crew of the experimental scout ship Blackbird:

  • Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer” [Geoff C., secondary]-male Martian Ursoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” bear), former wrestler, pilot
  • 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
  • Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A., secondary]-male Terran “near-human” (mutant) wanderer with a past, investigator
  • Lt. Nathan A. Jessup” [Byron V.O., secondary]-male Terran human, gung-ho Union of Solar Nations space marine and pilot
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington III” [Josh C., secondary]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance
  • Enkidu Aristheon” [Dexter V.H., secondary/absent]-male Seranen (pale empathic humanoid alien) exile, wilderness survival expert curious about Terrans and the Zarkonian threat; with sphinx-like companion Glaucon
  • Lt.Cmdr. Sebastian Growlick” [Bruce K., secondary]-male Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” lion), elite soldier, killed attacking the Zarkonian Armada with the frigate Crazy Horse

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

“29 to 31 August 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” The Blackbird meets the rest of its Terran task force at Epsilon Eridani as the Zarkonian Armada attacks the Sol system. Capt. Kevin Reese reports on the sacrifice of Lt.Cmdr. Sebastian Growlick to his fellow commanders. He also passes along the Union of Solar Nations space navy’s informal “Ranger Corps” designation.

Hector Chavez scans for communications from besieged Earth, while Tariq Asrad Saladin checks the new passengers. Cmdr. Jasmine hopes to track down her ex-boyfriend Darcy, and Tela worries about Encegulan allies of the armada.

Chris McKee is eager to engage the enemy and possibly change the course of battle. Lord Wallace Tubbington III expresses interest in helping the civilian fleet being escorted by any one of the surviving Terran battle groups.

Orion Starchaser prepares recordings to send to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer asks to be reassigned from the yacht Pina Colada to the warship Dauntless.

Dr. Srinu Pahul introduces his new nurse, Keila Sunitha Ciela. Lt. Nathan A. Jessup familiarizes himself with the Raptor II-class aerospace fighters aboard the Dauntless. Chiron checks astrogation records, and Enkidu Aristheon attends to Glaucon.

Kevin recommends keeping the task force together to determine the status of three slower-than-light (STL) generation ships now behind enemy lines. Jasmine and Orion agree.

Chris is skeptical that the Firebrand, Nova Aquarius, and Faithful Starlight have survived, but Brun notes that there’s a good chance the Zarkonians missed them in deep space. Chris suggests splitting up and sending a ship to investigate ancient alien technology at Van Maanen’s Star.

Srinu asks about the Precursor jump gate at Oasis Station. However, onetime crew members from the Blackbird point out that the interstellar crossroads is a Terran month away, even at high Transit (faster-than-light) speeds.

Capt. Reese reluctantly agrees to split the task force. Cmdr. Jasmine is to take the Pina Colada to Van Maanen’s Star. She is joined by engineer Hector, scientist Srinu, diplomat Wallace, and mystic Orion. Chiron serves as pilot, and junior medical officer “Hawkeye James” [Bruce] is assigned to that ship.

Meanwhile, the Blackbird will lead the search for the STL colony ships. Brun is designated as acting captain. The “Uplifted” Ursoid is excited to take command for the first time. Tharian engineer Tela stays with the biomechanical ship, as does investigator Tariq.

Kevin leads the more military crew of the Dauntless, including pilot Nate and sniper Chris. The Blackbird and Dauntless are joined by the patrol ship Tigress, with (Kevin’s onetime lover) Capt. Elektra Contos, and the frigateSovereign, with Capt. Aveeshi Stormsea, an Aquarian (amphibious humanoid alien) exile.

Hector checks records regarding the generation ships, which left Earth decades ago. The Firebrand included scientists among its passengers, while the Nova Aquarius was crewed by megacorp employees after the First Interplanetary War. Religious wars led to the construction of the Faithful Starlight.

Star map for GURPS "Vortex" space opera
Rough map of “Vortex” space

The Blackbird, Dauntless, Sovereign, and Tigress head toward Altair and find the colony ship Firebrand. The Terrans are cautious, since the Firebrand launches a fighter escort and still has potentially dangerous defense systems.

Capt. Reese hails Capt. Mark Tarthan, who invites him aboard. Capt. Tarthan, a third-generation biologist, introduces his first officer, planetologist Betty Stovashi, and chief engineer, physicist Kamiko Chu.

Kevin asks to talk privately with Mark, who takes him and Chris to his cabin. They discuss the deteriorating political situation on Earth, the Zarkonian Armada’s invasion of the Sol system, and refitting the Firebrand with a Transit drive. Dr. Bucket, the Blackbird’s U.S.N. robot, projects holograms and technical specifications before going to help Tela.

Amid antique fusion generators, overgrown life-support systems, and tangles of circuitry, Lt.Cmdr. Tela meets fellow engineers Georgio Napolitano and Gabby Baluande. The helpful Tharian immediately sets to improving their systems’ efficiency.

Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer goes to the command and control center, where he finds friendly astrogator Charlie ibn Ali and aloof robot Astro-V. He shows them how to prepare for Transit as Capt. Tarthan announces that the Firebrand will be gaining FTL capability.

Lt. Jessup chats with TX-29 fighter pilots in the hangar bay, including bored Isabel Flaben, old-school Jonas Ludivico [Beruk/Non-Player Character], and proud Kel Batista [Bruce/N.P.C.].

Tariq goes to the biomedical deck, where he transfers files to Dr. Surita Goldstein, who is impressed at humanity’s advances since her grandparents left Earth. She shares odd fruits and vegetables cultivated in the ship’s hydroponic gardens.

Tariq also experiences a flashback to a bombing incident in Istanbul from many years ago. The wanderer turns and finds Eshe Kalisha, a woman he knows all too well….

Now that I’m caught up on “Vortex” notes, all I need to do is do the same for the “Vanished Lands” fantasy campaign! Remember to update your P.C.s on Obsidian Portal, and let me know of any changes to them or your ships.

I look forward to Brian’s Jenga-based social science fiction one-shot next Monday and to character creation for this fall’s “Star Wars: Dark Times” game at “JasonCon” the week after that! Be seeing you, -Gene

“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.39 — Maneuvers and missions

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.39 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 7 July 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/MindjammerBulldogs, and an online dice roller.

In one future, humanity has begun to colonize the Sol system, but environmental degradation, population pressures, and internecine conflict persist. The rediscovery of mystical abilities and open and official First Contact with galactic societies, themselves at war, threaten Terra’s very survival. Can heroes rise to the challenges ?

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

Acting crew of the experimental scout ship Blackbird:

  • Capt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and member of the Blackbird and Dauntless crews; homeworld security task force commander
  • 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
  • Lt.Cmdr. Tela” [Sara F., secondary/absent]-female Tharian (gargoyle-like alien), escapee from the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), fond of humans; engineer with boyfriend Kedar
  • Chris McKee /Agent Prometheus” [Josh C., primary/absent]-male Terran human, former assassin for the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., sniper and seeker aboard the Blackbird and Pina Colada
  • Orion Starchaser” [Geoff C., primary/absent]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • 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.

Homeworld security ships
A Terran task force

26 to 28 August 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” Lt.Cmdr. Sebastian Growlick [Bruce] destroyed the frigate Crazy Horse in an attack on the Zarkonian Armada at Wolf 359, and the rest of the “Terra’s Pride” homeworld security task force regrouped at Procyon.

The Blackbird heads back to the Ilokar battle group in the Asteroid Belt to report on its encounters with the enemy at Sirius and Wolf 359. The explorers find the Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.) space navy busy with the evacuation effort.

First, the Blackbird must pass the Shaka Zulu battle group in solar polar orbit. Raptor II-class fighters fly escort, as Adm. Joseph Ochieng sends his regards to the crew of the Sovereign.

Capt. Kevin Reese, Dr. Srinu Pahul, and Hector Chavez then report to Col. Shan Gray and Adm. Jacques Pons. Kevin is relieved to learn that his sister in law Jennifer has been given a berth in a ship leaving the Mars Confederacy. Adm. Pons awards Lt.Cmdr. Growlick a posthumus medal for his valor.

Kevin also passes on a status report from the Terran outpost at Camp Alpha, which is about to be overrun by the armada. Hector mentions reverse-engineering of alien force-field technology to provide ships with a tunable energy shield.

Srinu shares medical data gathered from his patients aboard the Crazy Horse. Polarian (amphibious humanoid alien) and other survivors had described the Zarkonians, but humans haven’t yet studied the crustaceans firsthand.

The U.S.N. officers ask what missions “Terra’s Pride” is considering. Dr. Pahul recommends heading toward Oasis Station, which could be a destination for human refugees. Hector notes that there are three slower-than-light generation colony ships behind enemy lines that could be informative if they haven’t been found and destroyed.

In addition, Chris had noted that an abandoned mining site at Van Maanen’s Star revealed Precursor (ancient alien) technology that might be helpful in the fight against the Zarkonians.

Col. Gray, once Kevin’s superior in the Interplanetary Patrol, confers “Ranger Corps status” on “Terra’s Pride,” granting its ships’ commanders wide latitude in deep space, even though they still report to the U.S.N. chain of command.

Capt. Reese requests three Transit (faster-than-light) drives to bring to the generation ships, the Firebrand, the Nova Aquarius, and the Faithful Starlight. Hector and Tela recall encountering similar colonists aboard the Chengdu and Zheng He.

Adm. Pons says that the Ilokar is escorting a civilian fleet to Fomalhaut, Phi Ceti, and Chi Orionis, then possibly to Oasis Station, about 30 parsecs from Earth. He orders every outbound Terran vessel to take on as many passengers as possible.

As waves of Zurmiz Krott (biomechanical probes) attack Eclipse Station on Saturn’s moon Titan, as well as the Venusian Finance Union, the scout ship Blackbird leaves the besieged Sol system.

Capt. Reese sends Capt. Helena Cain and Lt. Nathan A. Jessup on the corvette Dauntless to Epsilon Eridani, with Phi Ceti as a backup rendezvous. Cmdr. Jasmine follows with the Pina Colada, and Capt. Elektra Contos brings up the rear in the Tigress. The task force still has three zero-point devices.

Meanwhile, the Blackbird returns to Sirius to see if there is any debris worth salvaging from the Crazy Horse’s attack. Kevin pilots defensively, and Hector detects 50 Zurmiz Krott and 20 Zarkonian fighters in the area, as well as the remnants of 12 Zarkonian vessels and four Kutalrin (vulture-like cyborg) scavengers.

Srinu activates the Blackbird’s stealth suite as a small Gustrall (antlered, orange-furred, raptor-like alien) warship enters the system. The Zarkonians swarm the unlucky arrival, allowing the Terrans to retrieve some ship fragments undetected.

Capt. Reese boldy takes the scout craft around Sirius, as Dr. Pahul sets containment protocols for a mostly intact Zarkonian corpse. Chris is interested in studying alien technologies such as a computer fragment, and Hector records everything for later analysis.

After avoiding another firefight, the Blackbird heads to Epsilon Eridani to meet with its sister ships….

Dexter, Sara, Josh, and Geoff, we missed you during this “Vortex” session! I look forward to continuing our latest party’s adventures! -Gene

P.S.: Here’s a quick overview of past “Vortex” teams:

  • Party 1 (1982 to 1984): The Zarkonian Bomb, a screenplay by Gene D., Carlo R., and Bill B., at A.S.H.S. (and the AD&D1 “Vanished Lands”)
  • Party 2 (1984 to 1986): “The Adventures of Jason Delmar,” short stories by Gene D. (and Star Frontiers games)
  • Party 3 (1986 to 1988): “Vortex,” a role-playing game by Gene D. and David I.S., at SUNY-Binghamton (and Shadowrun games)
  • Party 4 (1996 to 1999): “Vortex: C.D.I./ Venture,” using GURPS 3e Space, in Northern Virginia (and GURPS“Voyagers II: Adventures in the Dimensional Corps”)
  • Party 5a (2010 to 2011): “Vortex: the Blackbird,” using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures, Massachusetts
  • Party 5b (2010 to 2011): “Vortex: MarSoupAil,” using FATE 3e, Massachusetts (and one-shots)
  • Party 5c (2011 to 2012): “Vortex: the Gryphon,” using FATE 3e, online
  • Party 5c.2 (2012 to present): “Vortex: Terra’s Pride,” using FATE 3e Bulldogs, online

“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.37 — Nethians and near-Earth errands

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.37 of the “Vortex” telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 16 June 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/MindjammerBulldogs, and an online dice roller.

In one future, humanity has begun to colonize the Sol system, but environmental degradation, population pressures, and internecine conflict persist. The rediscovery of mystical abilities and open and official First Contact with galactic societies, themselves at war, threaten Terra’s very survival. Can heroes rise to the challenges?

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

Acting crew of the refitted yacht Pina Colada and frigate Sovereign:

  • Cmdr. Jasmine” [Sara F., primary ]-female Martian Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” tiger), former pit fighter and crewmember of the Appomattox, now captain of the Pina Colada searching for a homeworld for her people
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington III” [Josh C., secondary ]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance and the Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.)
  • Orion Starchaser” [Geoff C., primary ]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • Chiron” [Dexter V.H., primary/absent ]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

Acting crew of the corvette Dauntless:

  • Lt.Cmdr. Sebastian Growlick” [Bruce K., secondary ]-male Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” lion), elite soldier and acting commander of the refitted Blackbird
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O., primary ]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and confident planetary patriot; with robots MEGAN and PEPE
  • Hector Chavez” [Beruk A., primary/absent ]-male Terran human, former spy and crewmember on theAppomattox, cautious engineer and communications expert

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

“19 to 21 August 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” The acting crew of the Blackbird hid sensor buoys near 61 Ursa Majoris and Sirius, where it got its first glimpse of the Zarkonian Armada.

Meanwhile, the Pina Colada and Sovereign return to the Terran outpost at Wolf 359. Cmdr. Jasmine hails the station, where Capt. Dirk Hatch had been left in command after the “Terra’s Pride” homeworld security task force arrested traitors including Cmdr. Hasdrubal Guitterez. Capt. Hatch asks for any news from Earth.

He also says that his personnel have remained loyal to the Union of Solar Nations, even as they have been busy processing 40 outbound vessels. Orion Starchaser and Lord Wallace Tubbington III ask if anything unsual has happened since their last visit.

Capt. Hatch says that a Nethian (insectoid alien) supply ship is late, and it may have been intercepted by energy-based creatures known as Psi Eaters, since only human ships have been warned of the hazard.

Chiron pilots the Pina Colada, while Lt. Harry “Monty Hall” Takahari Jr. [Bruce/Non-Player Character] keeps the Sovereign close by. Dephine (“Uplifted” cetacean) astrogator Lt. Wynona Smoketrail [Sara/N.P.C.] is at the helm of the frigate, with Chris McKee on guns and Pomuyan physician Dr. Phil Philips [Byron/N.P.C.] in sickbay.

Cmdr. Jasmine and Lt. Takahari thank Capt. Hatch and head for the last known position of the interstellar cloud-based entities. The Pina Colada and Sovereign find the Nethian cruiser Fourth Wing adrift.

Initial scans find that 40% of the 800 people on the ship are affected by a Psi Eater. Lt. Takahari tries to contact the unaffected Nethians, but they are interrupted by zombified crewmates. The portion of “Terra’s Pride” decides to pursue a risky grappling maneuver.

Capt. Jasmine overrules Harry’s recommendation and suits up for extravehicular activity (EVA) with Orion and Wallace. They leap from the Pina Colada’s airlock to the Fourth Wing. Lord Tubbington is off course, but feline Jasmine grabs him. Orion is the first to activate magnetic boots.

Kedar, a Tharian (gargoyle-like alien) engineer, reports that the Fourth Wing‘s systems are merely suppressed. Dr. Philips detects anomalous life signs converging on the EVA team from within the ship. Lt. Takahari asks Lt. Smoketrail to aim the Sovereign’s weapons at the Nethian vessel in case of attack.

Orion uses technopsi to interface with the Fourth Wing, but its central computer doesn’t want to give the Pomuyan mystic access. Mighty Jasmine manually opens the hatch to the grapple system, and Wallace draws his sword when two zombified Nethians join them on the outside of the ship.

Harry readies an experimental force shield created by Hector Chavez to protect the Pina Colada from the Psi Eater. Orion jumps back from the Fourth Wing with a tow cable. Jasmine and Wallace follow, as do the two Nethians.

Back in the airlock, Orion hands Jasmine the ship-to-ship grapple and raises a telekinetic shield at their pursuers. It fails to block them. Dr. Philips recommends focusing on the Psi Eater’s hive mind (unlike that of the Nethians). Jasmine and Wallace prepare to repel boarders.

As the two Nethians enter the airlock, Harry raises the shield, cutting them off from the energy devourer. Krst’tks and Kyt’svd come to their senses and are initially confused. Diplomat Lord Tubbington takes over from the friendly but direct Orion in talking with the insectoid aliens.

Dr. Philips scans them for nanites (microscopic robots) or other infections, and Lt. Takahari explains what has happened to their ship. As with the Dauntless and the Sovereign, Orion believes that he can lure the Psi Eater away from the Nethian cruiser. Jasmine releases the grapple.

Krst’tks and Kyt’svd borrow the Dragonfly drop ship to return to the Fourth Wing, while Kedar drops shields and Orion draws the Psi Eater after the Pina Colada. Chiron and Wynona pilot in the direction of Sirius.

Orion telepathically broadcasts images of “tasty” Zarkonians (crustacean aliens) and Lt. Takahari successfully raises shields and outmaneuvers the energy entity. Cmdr. Jasmine then orders the Pina Colada and Sovereign to head for the last known position of the second Psi Eater.

Orion and Harry repeat the maneuver, bringing the interstellar hazard to a position where it can feed on the Zarkonian Armada rather than Terran ships. Dr. Philips checks the psionic emanations, and Orion checks both his Hitchhiker’s Guide and sensors for more about the Psi Eaters but finds nothing.

On their way back to Earth, the Pina Colada and Sovereign encounter the Bloody Flag , a Gustrall (antlered, orange-furred, flightless raptor-like alien) battle cruiser. Capt. Kolsed of Clan Render warns the Earthlings to stay out of the way of his hunt for Zarkonian fighters.

The Gustrall also says that he looks forward to a “glorious battle” against the armada on humanity’s behalf. Back in the Sol system, the Dauntless, Crazy Horse, and Tigress observe the mounting chaos on Earth and escalating efforts to evacuate as many people as possible.

In the Asteroid Belt, the cruiser and two frigates pick up personnel from the Ilokar battle group. “Sgt. Nate A. Jessup” [Byron] had asked “Capt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce] to reassign Sgt. Amarna Morales from her current post as a signal officer on the Manitou.

On the way to the Mars Confederacy, Hector prepares detonators and propulsion for the zero-point munitions intercepted on their way to Earth. The Pina Colada has three, the Blackbird has one, and the Dauntless has two of the devices for use against the Zarkonians.

At New Shanghai on Mars, Lt.Cmdr. Growlick asks Jennifer, the sister of Kevin’s late wife Heather, if she’ll evacuate. Jennifer says that she’ll leave only if Nick Cheney can come with her. “Terra’s Pride” is reluctant to include the former Interplanetary Patrol chief, whom it suspects of Heather’s murder in the Namor-Asperagen colony, but Sebastian eventually arranges passage for both Jennifer and Nick.

Sebastian also warns his clan to leave the Sol system. Capt. Elektra Contos of the Tigress checks in with fleet command and learns that Encegulan (slug-like alien slaver) ships have broken off trade with Earth, no doubt anticipating a Zarkonian invasion.

On the way to the L-5 orbital cities near Earth, Dr. Srinu Pahul readies the sickbay of the Crazy Horse, with permission from Capt. Reese and Capt. Aveeshi Stormsea, an Aquarian (amphibious humanoid alien) refugee. Srinu plans to use prisoners for their life signs as the ship makes a suicide run at the armada to test its defenses.

Lt.Cmdr. Growlick pulls rank to acquire three “backpack nukes” and two ICBMs with high-yield warheads. Dr. Pahul orders robot butler PEPE to dismantle one bomb to plant on enemy tranports. Hector and Gustrall gunner Nylca of Clan Firehoof stay aboard the Dauntless, while Sebastian joins Srinu on the Crazy Horse.

The Dauntless and Tigress retrieve mining magnate and aspiring politician “Aughest-vor…” [Jason E.R.] and journalist “Scoop Chang” [Rich C.G.] from Lemuria Station. Dr. Pahul finds that obtaining prisoners for his “Trojan horse” scheme will be too difficult, so he contacts hospitals to see if any terminally ill patients can be transferred to the Crazy Horse.

Srinu enlists nurse Keila Sunitha Ciela to help him, since robot MEGAN will be destroyed with the Crazy Horse. The zealous doctor also acquires a standard medical droid. The rest of “Terra’s Pride” waits for the Blackbird to return from its Zarkonian encounter….

Beruk and Josh, I’m glad that you were able to join me and some of my former co-workers for Man of Steel last Friday, and Josh and Rich, I’m glad that we were able to go to the Compleat Strategist in Boston together for FreeRPG Day. Beruk and Dexter, we missed you at the latest “Vortex” session!

I’ll try to post my update for this week’s “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” fantasy game Note that I’ll be unavailable this coming weekend, but I expect “Terra’s Pride” to resume on Sunday, June 30. Josh, good luck with your Dungeon World one-shot! Take it easy, -Gene