“Vortex” Update 5c.19 — Docking with the Dauntless

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.19 of the “Vortextelecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 30 December 2012. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/Mindjammer, Bulldogs, and an online dice roller.

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

>>FATE 3e “Vortex” Team 3 (5c) telecom Player Characters, crew of the Gryphon/Pina Colada, as of late autumn 2012:

  • Hector Chavez [Beruk A.]-male Latin American Terran human, former spy and communications expert/engineer of the Appomattox and Gryphon/Pina Colada
  • Capt. Jasmine [Sara F.]-female Martian Felinoid (Synth, “Uplifted” tiger), former professional pit fighter and onetime crewmember of the Appomattox, now apart from the grifters in “MarSoupAiL” with boyfriend Darcy
  • Chris McKee/Agent Prometheus” [Josh C.]-male Terran human cyborg, former sniper for the North American Aerospace Marine Corps. and eugenicists at Black Box Security Co.; onetime crewmember of the scout ship Blackbird
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul [Byron V.O.]-male Indian Terran “near-human” (bioengineered) xenobiologist, shadowed by scandal and confident in survival skills; with robots MEGAN and PEPE
  • Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K.]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and member of the Blackbird crew; commander of a Union of Solar Nations task force aboard the Dauntless
  • Orion Starchaser [Geoff C./absent]-male Pomuyan [blue humanoid alien] outcast, irrepressible mystic and adrenaline junkie; with mentor Vovestomosanehe
  • Chiron” [Dexter V.H./to join]-male android pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity
  • Jax [Robin H./departed]-male human from the Asteroid Belt, vain space pirate and pilot of the Slipstream
  • Jim Delaney” [Robert A.S./departed]-male Terran “near-human” gambler and psi encountered on Mars

12 to 15 May 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” As the Stella Sagitta encountered interstellar traders and the Venture visited Olvar space, former crew members from the Blackbird and Appomattox prepared to leave the Sol system.

Those aboard the Gryphon had retreated to the Oort Cloud, renamed the yacht the “Pina Colada,” and examined its cargo of smuggled zero-point explosives. Prisoner Timothy Dugan had submitted to physical and psychic surgery to undo his conditioning by the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co.

Chris McKee sends a message to Kevin Reese, a colleague from the Blackbird, and they agree to meet near Saturn’s moon Titan. Chris and Dr. Srinu Pahul have been waiting to report to the Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.) about the approaching Zarkonian Armada.

Hector Chavez lets onetime handler Max know where to find him. Hector hopes that she can give a second opinion on the alien munitions obtained in the Asteroid Belt from Capt. Vijay Bhaghwandra of the Satan’s Strumpet.

Capt. Jasmine says that she’s tired of stealing and running, and the Pina Colada leaves the planar ecliptic, jumps through Transit (faster-than-light), and enters orbit around Saturn.

After contemplating the recent departure of pilot Jax, Orion Starchaser meditates. The blue-furred extraterrestrial continues his martial arts and mystical training with mentor Vovestomosanehe.

Three U.S.N. ships arrive at ringed Saturn and hail the Pina Colada. Lt.Cmdr. Reese, acting captain of the light cruiser Dauntless, greets “Agent Prometheus” and asks to meet face to face. Jasmine agrees, and the ships dock in low orbit, with the frigate Tigress and the scout ship Blackbird keeping watch.

U.S.N. cruiser "Dauntless"
U.S.N. cruiser “Dauntless”

Chris introduces Jasmine to Kevin, who in turn introduces the following fellow officers in his task force for homeworld security:

  • Capt. Sebastian Growlick, a male Terran Felinoid (“Uplifted” lion) and acting captain of the Blackbird
  • Capt. Elektra Contos, the female Terran human commander of the Tigress
  • Cmdr. Helena Cain, the female Martian human XO (executive officer/first mate) of the Dauntless
  • Nylca of Clan Firehoof” [Brian W./Non-Player Character], the female Gustrall (orange-furred, flightless raptor) weapons officer of the Dauntless and friend of Chris

Hector stays on the bridge of the Pina Colada while the officers exchange pleasantries. The burned operative monitors communications and scans the military vessels. Capt. Jasmine and Mr. McKee go aboard the Dauntless and talk with Lt.Cmdr. Reese and company in Kevin’s ready room. Jasmine is pleased to see fellow “Synths” (bioengineered humanoids) among the cruiser’s personnel.

Chris explains that the Pina Colada has studied samples of Zarkonian probes, fought Encegulan (slug-like alien) slavers in Europa’s frozen seas, and recently obtained weapons of mass destruction intended for Earth.

Kevin thanks Chris and Jasmine for the intelligence. He orders captains Growlick and Contos back to their ships to watch out for pirates. Dr. Pahul asks to meet with U.S.N. scientists, and Kevin agrees to send some to the Pina Colada.

Hector reminds his companions not to mention hidden Vatican treasures and the particulars of some of their past misadventures. A small ship approaches and is stopped by the Tigress. Hector exchanges coded messages with Max(ine) and gets permission for the Catspaw to enter the Pina Colada‘s launch bay.

Chris and Kevin reminisce about their far-ranging travels with the Blackbird, and Kevin notes that most of that crew has dispersed. He had offered “Tela” [Sara] the chief engineer post on the Dauntless, but she and boyfriend Kedar stayed aboard the experimental ship.

Lt.Cmdr. Reese brings Nylca, Sebastian, Dr. “Phil Phillips,” and Lt. “Mulan Neverland” to the Pina Colada. Capt. Jasmine takes Kevin to the cockpit and shows him the piloting controls.

Sniper Chris catches up with fierce Nycla, who looks forward to new hunting expeditions. He also warns the security officer to watch out for Kraythor, a member of the “Takers” faction among the Ru’ulok (heavy-gravity reptilian aliens) who once traveled on the Anaconda.

Over high tea, Dr. Pahul shares his findings on the Zurmiz Krott/Harbingers of the Righteous Order of Submission, the biomechanical probes of the Zarkonians, with Lt. Neverland. Srinu tells the enthusiastic Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) about the deadly nanites (microscopic robots) they emit, as well as countermeasures such as psionics and electromagnetic pulses.

In the Pina Colada‘s medical bay, Dr. Pahul reluctantly shows Dr. Phillips the sedated Dugan. The logical Pomuyan is different in temperament from cheerful wanderer Orion but no less dedicated to protecting life. Robots MEGAN and PEPE attend to the patient.

Jasmine and Chris show the U.S.N. officers the zero-point devices, and Hector gets a second opinion from Max. Mulan confirms that the spherical ordinance is more powerful than Terran thermonuclear weapons and that their controls have been modified for human use.

Max notes that the smuggled cargo could have been very lucrative, but Lt.Cmdr. Reese has communications officer Lt. Harry “Monty Hall” Takahari Jr. send an urgent warning to fleet headquarters in Rio de Janeiro. He also expresses interest in catching up with slower-than-light generation colony ships headed in the direction of Zarkonian-controlled space.

After some discussion over drinks, Capt. Jasmine and her crew agree to transfer the three shipping containers of zero-point devices to the Dauntless. Kevin offers a letter of marque, ship upgrades in the Asteroid Belt, and to personally accompany them.

Bold Kevin and Jasmine carefully maneuver the Pina Colada, while Lt. Wynona Smoketrail, a Delphine (“Uplifted” dolphin) pilot who once raced “Aughest-vor…” [Jason E.R.] near Mars, brings the Dauntless about. They then transfer the containers.

Hector meets privately with Max and later coordinates communications to Earth with Lt. Takahari. Lt.Cmdr. Reese reports to Col. Shan Gray, his superior at Interplanetary Patrol. Kevin also promotes Cmdr. Cain to acting captain of the “Dauntless” and takes leave so that he can travel on the “Pina Colada.”

The DauntlessTigress, and Catspaw head back to the inner Sol system, as the crews of the Blackbird and Pina Colada review their capabilities and potential destinations….

Welcome, Bruce, to the teleconferencing version of “Vortex!” Our group’s move from the Gryphon to the Pina Colada and Blackbird feels like a new chapter (or TV season) in our continuing adventures! Good luck as your sort out crews and missions.

I’ll post on the Google Groups board the specifics on advancing your characters and refitting your ships. Note that while certain roles are essential to both starships — such as pilot/astrogation and engineering — you can have some specialties and overlap.

Dexter, I hope that you’ll be able to join us soon. In the meantime, I also look forward to upcoming sessions of our other games in 2013:

Happy gaming! -Gene

“Vortex” Update 5c.18 — Bombs, bionics, and booty

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.18 of the “Vortextelecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 9 December 2012. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/Mindjammer, Bulldogs, and an online dice roller.

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

>>FATE 3e “Vortex” Team 3 (5c) telecom Player Characters, crew of the Gryphon, as of autumn 2012:

  • Hector Chavez [Beruk A.]-male Latin American Terran human, former spy and communications expert/engineer of the Appomattox and Gryphon/Pina Colada
  • Capt. Jasmine [Sara F.]-female Martian Felinoid (Synth, “Uplifted” tiger), former professional pit fighter and onetime crewmember of the Appomattox, now apart from the grifters in “MarSoupAiL” with boyfriend Darcy
  • Chris McKee/Agent Prometheus” [Josh C.]-male Terran human cyborg, former sniper for the North American Aerospace Marine Corps. and eugenicists at Black Box Security Co.; onetime crewmember of the scout ship Blackbird
  • Orion Starchaser [Geoff C.]-male Pomuyan [blue humanoid alien] outcast, irrepressible mystic and adrenaline junkie; with mentor Vovestomosanehe
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul [Byron V.O.]-male Indian Terran “near-human” (bioengineered) xenobiologist, shadowed by scandal and confident in survival skills; with robots MEGAN and PEPE
  • Jax [Robin H./absent]-male human from the Asteroid Belt, vain space pirate and pilot of the Slipstream
  • Jim Delaney” [Robert A.S./absent]-male Terran “near-human” gambler and psi, encountered on Mars

9 to 11 May 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After a confrontation with pirates and the Interplanetary Patrol (I.P.) over a smuggled cargo of zero-point munitions, the crew of the Gryphon retreats to the outer Sol system to consider its next moves.

The Pina Colada
The Pina Colada, a Starwind-class space yacht

Capt. Jasmine parks the ship in the Oort Cloud. The feline “Synth” also recommends changing the vessel’s name in the hope of evading former pilot Jax on the Slipstream, pirates from the Satan’s Strumpet, and the I.P. ship Steel Sanguinis.

Hector Chavez empties an account used by Jax and other traders and donates money to the “Belter Gentrification League.” Chris McKee wants to continue interrogating Timothy Dugan, a former colleague at Black Box Security Co. caught trying to stow away.

Orion Starchaser tells his mentor, fellow Pomuyan Vovestomosanehe, about his plans to visit Earth to find out why the Cheyenne tribe of Native Americans uses their language, Namid. Orion’s teacher announces his intention to leave to find out more about humanity.

Dr. Srinu Pahul reminds his companions of stolen treasure from the Vatican Museums, but Hector notes that they have a more immediate concern — the alien explosives. The former spy scans the three containers obtained from the Satan’s Strumpet and finds 60 spheres with zero-point devices.

The wanderers try to discreetly find trustworthy recipients for the weapons of mass destruction that they were smuggling to Earth. They agree to hide a few for themselves. Hector contacts onetime handler Max(ine) and asks her to meet him at a neutral location in space.

Chris sends a message to “Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K.], a former crewmate on the Blackbird and commander of a Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.) task force responsible for long-range homeworld security.

Jasmine rechristens the Gryphon as the “Pina Colada,” and Hector changes the yacht’s transponder codes and registry. They hope to eventually install an Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) database into the ship’s computer.

At Chris’ request, Dr. Pahul instructs robot nurse MEGAN to awaken Dugan. Chris and Orion repeat their offer to free the would-be assassin from his Black Box cyberware and mental conditioning. Dugan asks “Agent Prometheus” and Srinu why they have turned from the belief in humanity’s destiny to perfect itself and spread out among the stars.

The sniper and doctor reply that they still hope for Terrans to reach their potential, but not at the cost of billions of supposedly “unworthy” lives. Orion notes that there are many wonders yet to behold and that inner peace is at least as important as striving for a more highly evolved state.

Dugan reluctantly consents to go under the knife, and Srinu and MEGAN begin preparing an escape pod to serve as a surgical theater. Orion agrees to go along to psychically operate, while Capt. Jasmine and engineer Hector monitor from the “Pina Colada‘s” bridge.

Dr. Pahul and MEGAN remove Dugan’s cranial implants, including a transmitter and a small explosive that Agent Prometheus warns them about. Shortly thereafter, Orion uses telepathy to enter Timothy’s mind. Hector and Srinu monitor this instance of psionic contact.

Orion finds himself in a shadowy landscape, blocked by a dark figure [Josh/Non-Player Character] representing Dugan’s Black Box training. The blue-furred alien is then surrounded by numerous Men In Black [Byron/N.P.C.], avatars of Chris and Dugan’s brothers in arms.

Dueling explosions in the dreamscape give way to a kindly woman whom Orion believes might be Timothy’s mother [Sara/N.P.C.]. He and the dark figure sit on either side of the woman, who grants access to what looks like a control room.

Orion uses the virtual monitors to piece together fragmented memories. The mystic isn’t able to completely heal Timothy’s scarred psyche in the time alotted in the capsule, but Orion reassures Chris and Srinu that he should be on the road to independence from Black Box.

Jasmine retrieves the medical pod, and MEGAN escorts Dugan to a secure cabin. Chris recommends going to Epsilon Eridani to retrieve the Vatican relics as soon as possible. Hector reviews the ship’s engines and internal security, while Orion rests and trains with Vovestomosanehe in the swimming pool.

Srinu learns of Dr. Martha Liao, a xenobiologist on Earth who would likely be interested in the data on the Zurmiz Krott (Zarkonian biomechanical probes). The closet ship of the Union of Solar Nations is the Kestrel, commanded by Lt. Hardin.

Capt. Jasmine puts on a new uniform, sends her boyfriend Darcy a warning to look out for Jax and slavers in the Asteroid Belt, and sets a course back to the inner system….

Please remember that we’ll be skipping the next two Sundays because of the holidays, but I expect the “Vortex” virtual sessions to resume on Dec. 30. Also, note that Bruce may make a cameo, Dexter has expressed interest in rejoining the telecom group, and Byron hopes to visit the Boston area in January!

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing some of you for The Hobbit and upcoming “Vanished Lands” and “Mystic Adventures in the ‘Big D‘” games. May all your holidays be happy, -Gene

“Vortex: the Gryphon” Update 5c.14-17: Belters and breakups

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Sessions 5c.14 to 17 of the “Vortex: the Gryphontelecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sundays in November 2012. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/Mindjammer, Bulldogs, and an online dice roller.

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

>>FATE 3e “Vortex” Team 3 (5c) telecom Player Characters, crew of the Gryphon, as of autumn 2012:

  • Hector Chavez [Beruk A.]-male Latin American Terran human, former spy and communications expert/engineer of the Appomattox and Gryphon 
  • Jasmine [Sara F.]-female Martian Felinoid (Synth, “Uplifted” tiger), former professional pit fighter and onetime crewmember of the Appomattox, now apart from the grifters in “MarSoupAiL” with boyfriend Darcy
  • Chris McKee/Agent Prometheus” [Josh C.]-male Terran human cyborg, former sniper for the North American Aerospace Marine Corps. and eugenicists at Black Box Security Co.; onetime crewmember of the scout ship Blackbird 
  • Orion Starchaser [Geoff C.]-male [blue humanoid alien] outcast, irrepressible mystic and adrenaline junkie
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul [Byron V.O.]-male Indian Terran “near-human” (bioengineered) xenobiologist, shadowed by scandal and confident in survival skills
  • Jax [Robin H.]-male human from the Asteroid Belt, vain space pirate and pilot of the Slipstream and Gryphon 
  • Jim Delaney” [Robert A.S./absent]-male Terran “near-human” gambler and psi

Belters and breaking up

Terran colony in the Asteroid Belt
Terran colonists in the Asteroid Belt

8 April to 8 May 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After meeting at New Gdansk in Earth orbit and visiting the Mars Confederacy, the crew of the Gryphon got involved in intrigues around Mars before heading to the Jovian Commonwealth.

The yacht then traveled from Jupiter’s moons to New Kansas, Jax’s home colony in the Asteroid Belt. Hector Chavez, Jasmine, and Jax visit the pilot’s family, who turn out to be prosperous merchants. Jax’s real name is Eugene Plaf, and his parents are Beauford and Martha.

Jax is surprised to find wealthy groupie Cassandra with his parents. She apparently learned his whereabouts from friend Bonnie Kawagura in the Jovian system. Engineer Hector is more interested in acquiring enhancements for the ship.

Still paranoid after various encounters on Mars, sniper Chris McKee stays aboard the Gryphon with Dr. Srinu Pahul, Orion Starchaser, and Darcy. Orion telepathically senses a familiar presence nearby.

In space dock, another blue-furred alien named Vovéstomósanéhe asks to come aboard to help his student find enlightenment. Chris grants permission but calls the others back to the ship. Orion isn’t thrilled to see his exasperated mentor, and Jax is even less pleased to be around two extraterrestrial mystics.

Jasmine and Darcy catch up on rest, while Dr. Pahul tinkers with his robots MEGAN and PEPE. Hector and Chris contact trader Wilfred about military-grade gear. Orion and Vovéstomósanéhe go to train in the Gryphon‘s swimming pool.

Jax hangs out at a dive bar with Cassandra and learns that the Black Pearl II, an infamous pirate ship, has been in a firefight nearby [apologies to Pirates of the Caribbean]. Jax hopes to take control of a larger vessel and build his reputation as the “best damn space pilot in the galaxy.”

Srinu plans to deliver his report on the threat of Zarkonian probes to the Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.). He later tells Hector and Chris that he has heard that the U.S.N. has had a falling out with Black Box Security Co. and that Sen. Francis Xavier Joseph is a Belter civilian friendly to the military and intelligence services.

Hector also learns from onetime rival Annamaria Balzana that the Musashi battle group is stationed in the Asteroid Belt and is commanded by Adm. Raul Xinshang. Jax’s associates may not want to deal with the navy, but others aboard the Gryphon may want to.

Sometime later, Hector, Chris, and Srinu meet with Beuford and Wilfred in New Kansas. Over glasses of vodka, they discuss trading favors for technology. Hector and Chris agree to find out about potential U.S.N. buyers in return for armored space suits [which can absorb up to 3 consequences each].

Dr. Pahul can’t afford the autodoc he wants, so he turns his attention to a replacement surgery theater that can be ejected in an escape pod. Srinu had used a previous version to examine the nanites (microscopic robots) emitted by the Zurmiz Krott/Harbingers of the Righteous Order of Submission.

Hector reminds Srinu of related investigations into mysterious murders near Jupiter and of Chris’ desire to catch up with slower-than-light generation ships headed in the direction of Zarkonian-controlled space.

Darcy tells Jasmine that he needs time to himself to explore and help the Synth Liberation Front. The “Uplifted” tiger is upset, but she lets her boyfriend leave. Orion takes a break from his martial arts practice to console Jasmine. He also recommends that she go after Darcy to make sure he knows what he’s doing.

Jax stays at the “Soggy Bottom” pub late until barkeep Leonard ejects him [apologies to O Brother, Where Art Thou?]. In an alley, Jax runs into a crewman he recognizes from the Satan’s Strumpet who tried to board the Gryphon back at Jupiter. The pirate draws a khukri, but Jax readies a rifle.

The spacemen are joined by three more toughs, who escort Jax to Capt. Vijay Bhaghwandra. After some pleasantries and posturing, the captain offers Jax a cargo to smuggle from the Asteroid Belt to Earth, since the Satan’s Strumpet is still being repaired. Jax agrees to a share of the profits.

Jasmine enlists the aid of her crewmates in searching for Darcy. The Synth gets a whiff of reptilian scent at a turbolift, possibly from Martian crocolisks or alien Ru’ulok. The group follows the trail to a crowded lounge, where they learn that wayward Darcy is about to board a transport leaving the Sol system!

Hector hacks into the station’s systems to delay departures from Dock 7, while Srinu claims a medical quarantine to apprehend Darcy. The humans also find a bug on him, so Hector hacks the computers of the Anaconda.

The former spy studies the ship’s passenger manifests and finds entries for Darcy and Kraythor, a notable Ru’ulok (heavy-gravity reptilian alien) among the “Takers.” Hector also plants a virus in the Anaconda‘s systems.

Hitchhiker Orion happily studies the Terrans in the lounge as Jasmine tells Darcy that he’s free to go, just not with Ru’ulok pirates. Chris warns the Felinoid to beware of alien slavers such as the slug-like Encegulans. On the Slipstream, Jax recognizes the heavily armored and damaged Black Pearl II float by.

When the Gryphon‘s crew decides against attacking a large frigate, Jax makes a counteroffer of a “milk run” to Earth. The others agree on the condition of meeting Capt. Bhaghwandra themselves.

At the Satan’s Strumpet — reregistered as the “Mellow Cutter” — Jax, Hector, Chris, Jasmine, and Darcy learn of the sizable payment they’d receive for smuggling “Jovian kumquats” to Earth. Capt. Bhaghwandra says that they’re to deliver the cargo to Col. Pyotr Tsilovich, a rising star in Slavic League, at the Baikonur Spaceport. Hector later checks references with his former handler Max on Earth.

Jax makes preparations to take the cargo in a ship-to-ship transfer away from New Kansas. Hector learns from Annamaria that his former companions from the Appomattox have regained faster-than-light capability and are likely heading after the Vatican treasure hidden near Epsilon Eridani.

Jasmine keeps watch after Darcy leaves, while Jax tells his parents and Cassandra that he’ll return soon. When the Gryphon is hailed by Lt. Clark Faddil of the Interplanetary Patrol ship Pinkerton as it passes, Chris decides to disguise himself as a neohippie.

During the zero-G container transfer, Chris recognizes one of the men from the Satan’s Strumpet as Timothy Dugan, a former colleague at Black Box Security Co. The sniper isn’t happy to find Dugan trying to stow away on the Gryphon so that he can report back to Earth.

Hector talks Jax out of shooting Dugan, whom Chris hopes to rehabilitate as he was by the crew of the Blackbird. “Agent Prometheus” puts Dugan in the brig and asks Dr. Pahul and Orion to remove the conditioning left by the eugenicists at Black Box. Vovéstomósanéhe also agrees to help. Jasmine guards Dugan, as Srinu prepares to operate to remove his cybernetic implants.

Sometime after leaving the Satan’s Strumpet and New Kansas, Orion and Hector decide to investigate the cargo. Scans indicate that it’s denser and requires more power than mere refrigeration of Jovian kumquats.

The boxes contain heavily shielded spheres of alien technology with an external interface for Terrans. They are zero-point explosives, more powerful than thermonuclear bombs! Hector, Srinu, and Chris are horrified to be bringing weapons of mass destruction back to factionalized Earth.

The crew and passengers on the Gryphon notice a shift in its artificial gravity and inertial dampeners. Rather than take a Terran day to smuggle the goods, Jax has taken the ship out of the ecliptic plane and jumped through faster-than-light Transit, cutting the travel time to mere hours!

Surprised, Hector locks down the yacht’s controls and informs his companions that they’re in Earth orbit. He had hoped to study the zero-point devices and question Dugan further. Jax puts on a space suit and heads to the cargo bay, as do Chris, Orion, and Vovestomosanehe.

In the cargo bay, Jasmine asks Jax what he’s doing. The Belter pilot tells the onetime wrestler that he wants to make sure that delivery and payment occur without further interference. Chris arrives and shoots at Jax for a second time!

Tiger-woman Jasmine steps between her shipmates, while Orion helps deflect the blast. Hector takes the gun from Chris and asks him to stand down. Srinu goes to the empty bridge, sees the scuffle on internal monitors, and orders MEGAN to ready stunning strobe lights and anesthetizing gas.

Jax is furious to be shot at again by Chris, and burly Jasmine yells at everyone to stop fighting. Hector suggests that Jasmine be nominal captain. Jax heads to the hangar bay, while the others prevent Chris from following. Orion talks with Dugan but is initially unable to determine whether his allegiances have turned from Black Box.

Hector releases the launch controls, allowing Jax to leave in the Slipstream. Srinu asks Jasmine to take control of the Gryphon‘s guns, since he doesn’t trust Chris (who is also worried about Dugan) not to fire. Dr. Pahul also scans the ships for loose nanites, since the Zurmiz Krott could induce insanity in Terrans, but he finds none.

Cmdr. Alfonso Balaz of the U.E.V. Steel Sanguinis hails the Gryphon and asks to come aboard because of reports of smuggling. Capt. Jasmine and company realize that Jax has told Interplanetary Patrol about their cargo and prisoner, but they reluctantly grant permission.

Chris, Orion, and Vovestomosanehe go to the pool/hydroponics garden. At Dr. Pahul’s instruction, MEGAN knocks out Dugan with an injection. Hector goes to the cargo bay to watch the officers’ inspection. Jax brings the Slipstream about, cornering the Gryphon.

Cmdr. Balaz and his assistants scan the cargo and unconscious Dugan. At Hector and Jasmine’s request, Srinu, Orion, and Vovestomosanehe lead the patrolmen to the Gryphon‘s conference room and erase their short-term memories with a combination of drugs and psionics.

Jasmine escorts the groggy officers back to the Steel Sanguinis, and Chris goes to the turret. Hector undocks, and Dr. Pahul returns to the bridge. Orion uses his telepathy to distract Jax as Srinu takes the Gryphon on a blind Transit jump to the edge of the Sol system.

Although they have escaped Interplanetary Patrol scrutiny and various pirates, the explorers aboard the Gryphon still have a hot cargo and need to report to various authorities on Earth….

While “Jim Delaney,” “Jax,” and “Darcy” have left, there are still lots of adventures for the Gryphon in the “Vortex” universe. See my other posts regarding advancement (7 aspects, 30 skill points, and 10 refresh).

I look forward to seeing most of our group virtually tonight, as well as to continuing Josh’s “A New Beginning: Mystic Adventures in the ‘Big D‘” and my face-to-face “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” games. -Gene

“Vortex: the Gryphon” Update 5c.13 — Black Box bites back

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.13 of the “Vortex: the Gryphontelecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 21 October 2012. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/Mindjammer, Bulldogs, and an online dice roller.

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

>>FATE 3e “Vortex” Team 3 (5c) telecom Player Characters, crew of the Gryphon, as of autumn 2012:

  • Hector Chavez [Beruk A.]-male Latin American Terran human, former spy and communications expert/engineer of the Appomattox and Gryphon 
  • Jasmine [Sara F.]-female Martian Felinoid (Synth, “Uplifted” tiger), former professional pit fighter and onetime crewmember of the Appomattox, now apart from the grifters in “MarSoupAiL” with boyfriend Darcy
  • Chris McKee/Agent Prometheus” [Josh C.]-male Terran human cyborg, former sniper for the North American Aerospace Marine Corps. and eugenicists at Black Box Security Co.; onetime crewmember of the scout ship Blackbird 
  • Jax [Robin H.]-male human from the Asteroid Belt, vain space pirate and pilot of the Slipstream and Gryphon 
  • -“Dr. Srinu Pahul [Byron V.O.]-male Indian Terran “near-human” (bioengineered) xenobiologist, shadowed by scandal and confident in survival skills
  • Orion Starchaser [Geoff C./absent]-male [blue humanoid alien] outcast, irrepressible mystic and adrenaline junkie

>>”5 to 7 April 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” The Gryphon has traveled from habitats orbiting Earth and the dangerous Martian outback to Jupiter. After fighting pirates in Europa’s chilly oceans, the yacht’s intrepid crew prepares to meet other contacts.

Jovian torus colony
Elysium Station, capital of the Jovian Commonwealth in “Vortex”

Hector Chavez arranges a rendezvous with onetime rival Annamaria Balzana at Club Hedonism, a touristy nightclub in Elysium Station, capital of the Jovian Commonwealth.

Jasmine thanks pilot Jax for helping to rescue their crewmates from the Encegulan (slug-like alien) submarine. The tiger woman and Darcy plan to meet Shortwave and Quickfin, two Delphines (“Uplifted” cetaceans) in the Synth Liberation Front, at a clock tower at midnight.

Dr. Srinu Pahul asks engineer Hector to work on a gun that can emit both an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and stun. The scientist agrees to go with Hector to Club Hedonism and makes plans for a farewell party as the Gryphon leaves the Sol system.

Chris McKee asks Jasmine to accompany him to “Tazer’s Tavern” in Port Edillon. The sniper is wary of his reunion with Lt. Brock Ellis, a colleague among the secretive eugenicists at Black Box Security Co. Meanwhile, Orion Starchaser wanders off for more sightseeing.

At Elysium, Hector parties with other high-society types while Hector chats with the attractive Annamaria. She agrees to discreetly inquire into the whereabouts of Hector and Jasmine’s former cohorts aboard the Appomattox, which hid its smuggled cargo of Vatican artifacts in deep space.

“Agent Prometheus,” Jasmine, and Jax find armored Lt. Ellis at the soldier bar. As they exchange pleasantries, Jasmine notices people moving away from them. Chris realizes that he has been poisoned and draws his pistol on Brock, wounding him.

More of “Tazer’s Tavern’s” patrons draw guns, and furred Jasmine knocks over a table as a shield. One Black Box agent [Byron/Non-Player Character] circles around and shoots, but Jasmine dodges a few bullets.

Another “near-human” [Josh/N.P.C.] fires a needler but misses at first. A third [Beruk/N.P.C.] also misses with a net gun. Chris slumps to the floor, as Jasmine picks up the table and slams into Brock. The burly wrestler grabs Chris and heads for the door.

Jax emerges from the toilets and shoots at a chandelier, briefly pinning one of the goons. Jasmine gets hit by hollow needles containing an anesthetic and is slowed. One of the gunmen [Byron/N.P.C.] runs after her.

Another would-be kidnapper [Josh/N.P.C.] ignores Jax, who radios Hector and Chris for backup. They commandeer a ground-effect vehicle and race to “Tazer’s Tavern.” The Black Box agents close in on Jasmine and Chris, with Jax close behind.

Srinu weaves through the colony’s traffic and slides the speeder between the snipers and his companions. Hector shoots one gunman, and Chris regains consciousness in time to finish off the man with the needler.

Jasmine recommends avoiding the tavern, but Chris runs back to confront Brock. Unfortunately, he is gone. Hector uses his microcomputer to block local surveillance. He also finds that the Black Box agents carried police IDs.

Jax takes the wheel, and the crew of the Gryphon makes a swift retreat to the space dock, losing one of the gunmen [Beruk /N.P.C.] who had tried to cut them off on foot.

Back at the ship, Dr. Pahul and robot nurse MEGAN attend to Chris and Jasmine’s injuries. Jax recommends heading to the Asteroid Belt as soon as possible, noting that the group should be able to find other contacts there.

Hector puts the speeder in the cargo hold near Jasmine’s hoverbike for future tinkering. The former spy also tells Annamaria that he hopes to reconnect with her another time. Jax doesn’t mind leaving lady friend Bonnie Kawagura behind.

Disappointed Jasmine cancels her meeting with the Delphines but still hopes to find friendly fellow “Synths” (bioengineered humanoids) before leaving the Sol system. Mystic Orion returns from his rambles in time to head out.

No longer just a cold-blooded killer, Chris is angry with himself for allowing Black Box Security forces to get the drop on him, months after he fought Terra Prime on the Blackbird. Orion points out that he has probably also gotten the attention of higher-ranking people who might be more interested in talking.

The Gryphon leaves the Jovian system. Jasmine, Chris, and Jax rest, while Srinu cancels his party and finishes his report for the Union of Solar Nations on the Zarkonian threat. Hector checks his aliases and monitors scanners.

Darcy and PEPE, Srinu’s valet robot, continue to make repairs as the Gryphon heads to Ceres, the largest colony in the Asteroid Belt….

Please note that the “Vortex” telecom game won’t be meeting on Oct. 28 because I’ll be meeting former co-worker Ken G. for a Raiders of the Lost Ark screening in Cambridge, Mass. I expect to resume on Nov. 4 after attending the Rhode Island Comic Con.

In the meantime, I hope that Monday’s “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” fantasy session won’t be affected by Hurricane Sandy. Take it easy, -Gene

 

“Vortex: the Gryphon” Update 5c.12 — Release the kraken!

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.12 of the “Vortex: the Gryphon” telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 14 October 2012. We’ve been using Fantastic Adventures in Tabletop Entertainment 3rd Ed. 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” Team 3 (5c) Player Characters, crew of the Gryphon, as of autumn 2012:

  • “Hector Chavez” [Beruk A.]-male Latin American Terran human, former spy and communications expert/engineer of the Appomattox and Gryphon
  • “Jasmine” [Sara F.]-female Martian Felinoid (Synth, “Uplifted” tiger), former professional pit fighter and onetime crewmember of the Appomattox, now apart from the grifters in “MarSoupAiL” with boyfriend Darcy
  • “Chris McKee/Agent Prometheus” [Josh C.]-male Terran human cyborg, former sniper for the North American Aerospace Marine Corps. and eugenicists at Black Box Security Co.; onetime crewmember of the scout ship Blackbird
  • “Jax” [Robin H.]-male human from the Asteroid Belt, vain space pirate and pilot of the Slipstream and Gryphon
  • “Orion Starchaser” [Geoff C.]-male [blue humanoid alien] outcast, irrepressible mystic and adrenaline junkie
  • “Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O.]-male Indian Terran “near-human” (bioengineered) xenobiologist, shadowed by scandal and confident in survival skills
  • “Jim Delaney” [Robert A.S./absent]-male Terran “near-human” gambler and psi

“1 to 4 April 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After the initial voyages of the Venture, the Blackbird, and the Appomattox, other would-be adventurers met at New Gdansk in Earth orbit. The Gryphon made its shakedown cruise to Mars, where its crew explored the outbackparticipated in dangerous races, and foiled a casino heist before heading to Jupiter.

Jupiter station
Colony on one of Jupiter’s moons

The Gryphon docks at the orbital habitat of Elysium, capital of the Jovian Commonwealth. Hector Chavez stays aboard the luxury ship to continue his research into the items smuggled from the Vatican Museums.

The burned op also reviews the case files of murders possibly connected to the Zumiz Krott/Harbingers of the Righteous Order of Submission (biomechanical probes of the Zarkonian Armada). Hector considers contacting Annamaria Balzana, a onetime rival referred to him by handler Max.

Jasmine plans to go to Jupiter’s moon Europa to meet Shortwave and Quickfin, two Delphines (“Uplifted” cetaceans) in the Synth Liberation Front. The tiger woman also warns her boyfriend Darcy to avoid Tabitha Hanahi, a felinoid (lynx woman) friend of hers.

Chris McKee asks Orion Starchaser to come with him to see Lt. Brock Ellis, a former colleague at Black Box Security Co., at Tazer’s Tavern in Port Edillon. But first, Chris and Orion go with Jasmine to Europa.

Jax has a leisurely breakfast with Bonnie Kawagura in the Gryphon. He gives the woman, who is friends with his wealthy fan Cassandra, a tour of the yacht and its swimming pool. Bonnie eventually leaves, and the pilot ignores the awkwardness among his crewmates, pleased that his reputation will spread among the pirates at the “Floating Cove” on Ganymede.

Dr. Srinu Pahul compiles his findings on the nanite (microscopic robot) samples from the Zurmiz Krott, which can induce cannibalistic madness in Terrans. The disgraced doctor also sends a message to his parents on Earth warning them to evacuate before the Zarkonian Armada arrives.

Jasmine, Chris, and Orion go to Liberation Plaza in Port Reagan. Furred Jasmine is pleased to notice that fellow “Synths” (genetically engineered humanoids) are more common than in the inner Sol system. Jax cleans the Slipstream, his personal vessel.

Orion learns of a deep-sea dive beneath Europa’s 30-mile-thick icy crust and calls Srinu to see if he’s interested. He is, so they rent scuba gear, a sled, and harpoon and net pistols. Wary Chris notices that he and Jasmine are being watched by a maintenance robot and a woman in the plaza.

Meanwhile, back at Elysium, engineer Hector notices Tabitha in the docking tunnel. She asks to come aboard, and Hector gives Darcy some friendly advice about discretion and not angering Jasmine. The tiger “Synth” claims that he is ill and asks to meet Tabitha sometime later. She readily accepts, her tail twitching.

A Delphine in a cybernetic walker drops a note near Chris, and the sniper hustles Jasmine away from the watchful eyes of the robot and woman in the plaza. The S.L.F. members tell Jasmine to meet them at a clock tower at midnight.

Orion and Srinu take a turbolift down and enter Europa’s frigid waters. They see some life forms, although it isn’t clear whether they’re indigenous, of Terran origin, or recently introduced after First Contact with extrasolar species. The alien wanderer checks his plasma blade, and the doctor clutches his harpoon gun.

The two divers soon have other things to worry about when two sleds and a submarine close in on them! Orion senses another alien mind, and Srinu tries to parley. The Ru’ulok (heavy-gravity reptilian alien) pirates order them to surrender, and Orion grabs the sled’s controls and flees.

Dr. Pahul radios Hector. Jax fires up the Gryphon and picks up Jasmine and Chris at the colony of Port Reagan. Chris calls ahead and orders Srinu’s nurse bot MEGAN to fetch his Salvorain (amphibious alien) trident.

Orion uses a telekinetic shield to clothesline one of the pursuing Ru’ulok, and Srinu makes evasive maneuvers around chunks of ice. The enemy sub looms above, but mystic Orion convinces a nearby sea monster to block its torpedo tubes.

Gunner Chris blasts a path for the Gryphon with a particle beam. Hotshot Jax takes the ship plunging through Europa’s crust, as Hector monitors the sublight engines and the ablative armor. Jasmine and Darcy stagger to damage control.

The remaining Ru’ulok close in on Orion and Srinu. The Europan kraken devours one hapless diver, and Orion psionically removes a hose from another’s helmet. Srinu fires harpoons at the Ru’ulok and ducks behind the sled.

The kraken grabs Srinu’s leg with one of its many tentacles, but then the Gryphon arrives. Chris fires at the beast, injuring it, and shines a light as the kraken sinks into the depths.

Orion defies Murchem, the Encegulan (slug-like alien) captain of the Round Hole. Jax plays “chicken” with the enemy vessel, then flips to throw the Ru’ulok sleds into its path.

Wily Hector uses the Gryphon’s electronics warfare suite to partially disable the Round Hole’s propulsion. Brave Jasmine takes the turret while Chris suits up and goes to the airlock to retrieve Orion and Srinu.

Jasmine hits one sled, and Chris is thrown from the yacht as it evades the slaver ship. Orion grabs Srinu and Chris and swims upward. The blue-furred alien also telepathically blocks the Encegulan captain.

Jax swiftly brings the Gryphon around. Chris replaces Jasmine in the turret. The gunner taunts the Ru’ulok and targets their life support. Srinu wishes he could chemically freeze the area around the Round Hole, but he has no delivery system.

Hector hails the enemy vessel and orders it to surrender, but Murchem says he won’t allow himself to “be taken captive by primitives.” The Encegulan sets his ship to self-destruct, and Jax sprints for the surface, with Chris reblasting a path through Europa’s ice.

Hector and Srinu want to go back to get samples of the alien technology, but Chris notes that local authorities will soon arrive. He sends an image of the kraken to Asdann Fre’vel, a Gustrall (orange-furred, antlered, raptor-like alien) hunter friend back on Mars.

Jasmine and Darcy join Dr. Pahul’s robots MEGAN and PEPE in repairing the ship as it returns to Elysium. They still plan to meet with Delphines Shortwave and Quickfin at midnight. Chris and Orion have yet to meet Lt. Ellis, and they expect trouble from Black Box.

Hector and Dr. Pahul prepare their notes on the Zurmiz Krott and a report on the Encegulan incursion to deliver to Lt.Cmdr. Hiroshi Mbenge of the Union of Solar Nations Navy. They also reach out to Annamaria Balzana and doctors at Cassini University and Crimson Cloud Hospital (Dr. Pahul names the kraken after Jax).

In support of Jax’s plan to use the Gryphon to lure other pirates, Srinu recommends throwing a going-away party as the yacht leaves the Sol system. Hector isn’t sure that many of the crew’s contacts will be able to come to the frontier on short notice. Jax agrees to ask Bonnie if she can arrange to host the party….

Please see my other posts regarding plot threads and Non-Player Characters, advancement, and scheduling. I look forward to seeing the crew of the Gryphon this coming Sunday. Note that we won’t be meeting on Oct. 28.

I also look forward to continuing in Josh’s “A New Beginning: Mystic Adventures in the ‘Big D’” (using FATE 3e Dresden Filesand my own Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” (using the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game). Be seeing you, -Gene