“Vortex: the Gryphon” Update 5c.6, 7 — Canyon chase and special deliveries

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for Sessions 5c.6 and 7 of my “Vortexspace opera campaign, which we played via Skype and an online dice roller on Sunday, 12 and 19 August 2012. We’re using Fantastic Adventures in Tabletop Entertainment (FATE) 3rd Ed.: Starblazer Adventures/Mindjammer and Bulldogs.

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 summer 2012)

  • Hector Chavez” [Beruk A.]-male Latin American Terran human, former spy and communications expert/engineer of the Appomattox
  • Jasmine” [Sara F.]-female Martian Felinoid (Synth, “Uplifted” tiger), former professional pit fighter and onetime crewmember of the Appomattox, now apart from the grifters in “MarSoupAiL” and 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.]-male Terran “near-human” gambler and psi
Canyons of Mars
Valles Marineris

>>”4 to 10 March to 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After a shootout at the Red Butterfly Casino in Hellas Park, capital of the Mars Confederacy, the crew of the Gryphon regroups.

Hector Chavez examines a helmet taken from one of the Canids (“Uplifted” canines) and confirms that their gear was better than their tactics. The burned op gives the helmet to Jasmine and Darcy and wonders about who backed the failed robbery.

Jasmine is still annoyed with Jax for his comments about the low status of “Synths” (synthetic humanoids). Fortunately for the hotshot pilot, he is away preparing for an informal canyon race without his companions’ knowledge.

Tiger folk Jasmine and Darcy remind their companions of Garth (“Uplifted” gorilla) Olun Gor’s request for help finding fellow members of the Synth Liberation Front at the United Ecumenical Movement’s temples on the moon Phobos.

Since “nothing good can happen on Mars,” Chris McKee is eager to leave the red planet. The sniper spends time with Asdann Fre’vel, a Gustrall (antlered, orange-furred, raptor-like flightless avian alien) guard at the Hadriaca Paterna terraforming station. They talk about hunting, weapons, and the U.E.M.

Orion Starchaser brings Jim Delaney back to the ship, then goes to watch scientist Taka Shimuza release hardy animals from the terraforming facility into the wild. Dr. Srinu Pahul returns from picking up servant robots and looks into the medical supply needs of the U.E.M. temples as a possible way in.

A day at the races

At Valles Marineris, a network of ravines larger than Earth’s Grand Canyon, Jax meets fellow racers, including the following:

  • Lenore” [Sara/Non-Player Character]-female Delphine (“Uplifted” dolphin) pilot with a custom hover sled decorated with a wave and tailfins
  • Lt. Bruce Weyland” [Josh/N.P.C.]-male Terran human, naval officer with the Union of Solar Nations (formerly the United Earth Authority), driving a dune buggy with jet-assist jumping
  • Kajor” [Geoff/N.P.C.]-male Ru’ulok (heavy gravity reptilian alien) pirate with a fake beard, riding a robotic pterodactyl
  • Lt. Kobe Han” [Byron V.O./N.P.C.]-male human Terran sniper with an ultralight ornithopter resembling a bird of prey

A Gustrall [Beruk/N.P.C.] monitors cameras and obstacles and radios reports to spectators. Jax and Kajor take an early lead into the canyons, followed by Lenore, Lt. Han, and Lt. Weyland. Kobe flies to the rim of the rocky walls in an effort to catch an updraft or tailwind.

At “Shredder’s Corner,” Jax expertly squeezes his borrowed hoverbike around a narrow turn, while Lenore calmly traverses the course. Bruce, Kobe, and Kajor are forced to slow down in their larger vehicles.

The trail then forks, with the longer path leading across a dry river bed and a shortcut going onto a rocky plateau. Lenore picks the wadi but falls behind, allowing Lt. Weyland to catch up a little. Kajor pulls ahead on the riverbed, closely followed by Jax, as Lt. Han hits a crosswind.

Flashy Kobe and ruthless Kajor covertly shoot at boulders to hinder their competition, but the Gustrall excitedly observes that “Jax to the max is taking it all the way!”

The racers encounter an area obscured by a dust cloud, forcing them to rely on instinct. Lenore and Kajor maintain their lead, as Bruce slows down. Jax pulls behind Kobe.

At a network of caverns, Jax easily avoids stalactites and stalagmites to pull ahead. Lt. Weyland follows close behind. Kajor scrapes a wing but manages to right himself. Lt. Han makes a corkscrew maneuver and damages his ‘thopter. Lenore doesn’t get lost, but her wide hover sled also gets battered.

A “land whale” belching lava lumbers between the racers and the cave’s exit. Jax guns his motor and rides over the alien transplant. The monster snaps one of Kobe’s wings, and his craft goes down and explodes.

Merciless Kajor shoots at the behemoth and squeaks by, as Bruce’s all-terrain vehicle gets trashed. Lenore almost makes it out unscathed, but the land whale clips her sled, which crashes just outside the cave. The soldiers hope to rescue their mates from the dragon-like creature.

Kajor manages to cross the finish line first, and Jax is the only other racer whose vehicle is mostly intact. The Gustrall, Lt. Max Tevis, and other spectators congratulate the Ru’ulok. Jax accompanies them to a bar near Fort Olympus Mons and later gives Jasmine a bottle of champagne that he got at the party as a peace offering.

Special deliveries

The next morning, Hector says that the team needs to have shared objectives beyond delivering its current cargo and getting off of Mars. He recommends getting a “letter of marque” to be able to both protect Terran interests and seek profit.

Orion hands out feathers from the Martian fauna and says he doesn’t know of any potential patrons. However, the blue alien was asked to contribute to a galactic encyclopedia.

Chris doesn’t think that a charter is needed, and Agent Prometheus says he knows a potential backer from dealings with the mining operation on Tyche. Srinu is most interested in the threat that the Zarkonian Armada poses to the Sol system.

Jasmine and Darcy say their top priority is to find three missing Synths on Phobos. Hector reminds his crewmates that they must soon deliver the terraforming machinery in their hold. The engineer also wants to make sure that enhancements to the Gryphon are done properly and quietly.

Jim, who is still shaken from the casino firefight, declines Hector’s offer to be the “face,” or front man. The gambler explains that he has learned that the recipient of their cargo is William Durstan, a local pit stop magnate. Jim then goes back to Hellas Park, avoiding associates in New Shanghai.

Jax prefers paying gigs over helping the Synths on Phobos, and is curious about Maria Chan, a potential mark building a space yacht in orbit. Orion says he would be content to continue sightseeing on Mars.

At Hector’s request, Dr. Pahul examines the feasibility of using the terraforming gear to accelerate the creation of Earthlike conditions in a Martian cave. The doctor states that the expensive equipment could be used in that way.

Rather than take the Gryphon to the drop site, Srinu and Hector rent an aerodyne from Uruk Services. Jasmine and Darcy go with them as muscle — laborers and guards. They all take along extra guns and grenades.

Chris goes ahead of the others and sets up a sniper’s nest, even though “wheelman” Jax doesn’t think it’s necessary. Jax lands the Slipstream a discreet distance away and keeps communications channels open. Orion wanders the Martian outback.

Two aerodynes eventually arrive, and several four-armed robots emerge. Space-suited Durstan asks to inspect the cargo of terraforming equipment. He then instructs the droids to bring forward cases of cred sticks and ship parts in return.

Hector warily eyes one robot holding a remote control, but it’s to a cargo lifter rather than explosives. Srinu talks with Durstan, asking what his commercial interest would be in terraforming, a process that should take generations. The businessman tacitly confirms that he plans to make a smaller area habitable.

Chris watches the transaction through his rifle scope, and Jax claims that his companions are being needlessly paranoid. Jasmine and Darcy transfer the cargo without incident. Durstan says that Green Gongen wants to avoid sabotage by the Rust Coalition, and Srinu is impressed by the depth of his technical knowledge.

Hector asks Durstan to contact him if he ever needs similar discreet deliveries in the future. The Martian signals to the human pilots of his aerodynes to prepare for takeoff, and the smugglers breathe sighs of relief.

Temple precincts

Back at the Gryphon, furred Jasmine explains that Olun Gor believes that three of his fellow revolutionaries are being held against their will in the U.E.M.’s temples on Phobos (Mars’ other moon, Deimos, is at the top of a space elevator):

  • Andrei Dyashenko, a male reptilian “Synth” and brother of Jasmine’s onetime crewmate Averki “Deep Dish” Dyashenko
  • Zara, a female Garth and girlfriend of Olun Gor
  • Meson, a male Tauroid (bioengineered bull)

Jax opens a bottle of alcohol, while Hector and Dr. Pahul talk about forging credentials. Jasmine and Darcy reluctantly agree to stay on the ship during the initial round of scouting. Jax then takes the Slipstream to Mars orbit, where the infiltrators see the landing and docking areas of the hollowed-out moon.

Orion, whose species is mostly unknown to humans, doesn’t bother with a disguise. Chris is not surprised to see that many of the locals are armed, but he is less sure about the varied tourists and robed clergy visiting the complex.

Srinu poses as “Dr. Prabhakar Swapan Mullur,” an Indian doctor from Oxford, and Hector is disguised as lab director “Nino Tancredo Bolivar.” They are greeted by Brother Valerius, a Christian monk.

Brother Valerius explains that the United Ecumenical Movement was formed in reaction to massacres in the Middle East back on Earth. U.E.M. chaplains serve alongside U.S.N. troops, and it is also involved in disaster relief, medical care, and archaeological research. “Dr. Mullur” is curious about that last item and requests library access.

Meanwhile, seekers Orion and Chris chat with a Zhang Hu, a Buddhist monk, and Itzik Yevel, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi. Orion talks about the nature of existence and gets a yarmulke, and Chris engages in theological debate with Cliff Conyers, a Mormon. They also admire holographic stained glass and shrines of multiple religions peacefully coexisting in close proximity.

Brother Valerius takes “Prabhakar” and “Nino” to a room with database terminals as well as rare hardcopy books and other historical relics. Srinu looks for evidence of contact between Earthlings and extraterrestrials centuries before recent official First Contact and finds references to the “Vanished Lands.”

Hector manages to hack into U.E.M. systems and obtains passcodes as well as the floor plan of a research level where the Synths are likely being held. Brother Valerius comes back to tell the researchers that they have an appointment with Sister Philippa to visit the biomedical laboratories tomorrow.

The crew of the Gryphon reconvenes to compare notes and get ready to find the missing Synths without fighting U.E.M. security or interplanetary pilgrims….

Please note that each of your Player Characters should now have a total of 27 skill ranks, and your ship has gained one skill slot and one stunt slot to reflect new equipment earned. Update your P.C. records on Obsidian Portal, and let me know about any changes.

Also, let me know if any of you won’t be available for games in the coming weekends. The face-to-face groups have been having difficulty getting quorum to launch the latest “Vanished Lands” fantasy party and Josh’s FATE 3e Dresden Files game. In the meantime, take it easy, -Gene

“Vortex: the Gryphon” Update 5c.5 — Casino chaos

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for Session 5c.5 of my “Vortexspace opera campaign, which we played via Skype and an online dice roller on Sunday, 5 August 2012. We’re using Fantastic Adventures in Tabletop Entertainment (FATE) 3rd Ed.: Starblazer Adventures/Mindjammer and Bulldogs.

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 summer 2012)

  • Hector Chavez” [Beruk A.]-male Latin American Terran human, former spy and communications expert/engineer of the Appomattox
  • Jasmine” [Sara F.]-female Martian Felinoid (Synth, “Uplifted” tiger), former professional pit fighter and onetime crewmember of the Appomattox, now apart from the grifters in “MarSoupAiL” and 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.]-male Terran “near-human” gambler and psi

>>”1 to 3 March 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After meeting at the New Gdansk orbital habitat and traveling to Mars, the crew of the Gryphon scatters across the red planet.

Jasmine and Darcy wait at the Hadriaca Paterna terraforming station before going to meet a contact in the Synth Liberation Front at a nearby domestead. Jim Delaney and Orion go to the Red Butterfly Casino in the capital of Hellas Park. Hector Chavez discreetly follows.

Jax visits a bar in New Shanghai, the largest colony in the Mars Confederacy. He talks with smuggler Harry Chu and regales fellow pilots with tales of his exploits. However, when United Solar Nations troops arrive, Jax shifts his focus to more legal jobs.

1395
The Red Butterfly Casino on Mars

Still hoping to avoid his former employers at Black Box Security Co., Chris keeps watch aboard the Gryphon, despite radio interference. Dr. Srinu Pahul goes to pick up the non-sentient servant robots that he and Jim had ordered.

After Jax buys a round of drinks for the soldiers, Lt. Max Tevis invites the pirate to an informal race. Jax accepts and later takes the Slipstream to the canyon site to check out the winding course in advance.

At the Red Butterfly, Orion gets into a staring contest with Shocho, the omnipresent holographic avatar of the ruling Tenryu Party. The alien wanderer then goes to take in a live performance at a nearby theater. Jim joins a poker game with the following people:

  • Eddie Padjem” [Beruk/Non-Player Character]-male Terran (Indian) human with military experience
  • Thuvia” [Sara/N.P.C.]-female Martian Felinoid (lynx-like humanoid) scout, wary of humans
  • Purkdak” [Josh/N.P.C.]-male Martian human businessman with investments from Earth
  • Brun” [Geoff/N.P.C.]-male Ursoid (“Uplifted” bear) gambler; not smart, but friendly
  • Erlik” [Robin/N.P.C.]-male Martian cyborg with bionic hand; doesn’t like small stakes or Terrans

Jim chats up his competitors. Thuvia and Purkdak are reticent, but Eddie draws them out by talking about Earth’s megacorps and crowded arcologies. Brun surprises Erlik with a strong hand during Texas Hold’em. Former spy Hector expects trouble but is unable to contact Chris.

Meanwhile, at Valles Marineris, Jax meets Lt. Tevis and other racers and spectators. They check out various vehicles, including tricked-out hoversleds, ornithopters, and dune buggies. Jax chooses a maneuverable hovercycle.

A band of five Canids (“Uplifted” canines) bursts into the Red Butterfly Casino, draws machine guns, and orders everyone to hand over their valuables. Hector slips behind the bar and scopes out the scene. Eddie tries to use misdirection and sleight of hand to draw a weapon but is spotted.

Jim drops to the floor and uses his technopsi to take control of a dealer robot. It leaps toward one unluckly Wolfen, distracting him. Cyborg Erlik smacks another bandit with a chair but is shot in return. Two other raiders blast more of the dealer droids, and one wings Eddie.

Mighty Brun hurls a table at the bandits. Upon his return from the theater, Orion merely watches the brawl, telekinetically shielding Jim. Thuvia sneaks up on a Canid and pounces, as Purkdak bravely grabs a gun.

Hector aims at and hits one of the remaining bandits. Eddie’s attempt to kick over a table fails, but he manages to take out one Wolfen. Erlik trades blows with a “Synth” (synthetic humanoid) and is slain.

Other gamblers in the hall panic and try to flee. Brun picks up a Canid and rams his head into the ceiling. The Ursoid then smashes his opponent down into a table. Lynx-woman Thuvia knocks out the Wolfen closest to her, and Purkdak hits another.

Brun jumps onto the bar and charges at the last two bandits. Unfortunately, none of them — or Erlik — survive to be questioned by local authorities. Brun gives his contact information to Orion and asks for help getting offworld.

Hector hacks into the security network. He observes that the Canids had state-of-the-art weapons, but poor tactics. Hector takes a helmet and a gun for later analysis. As the police arrive, Orion and Hector escort Jim back to the Gryphon.

Jasmine and her boyfriend Darcy go to the Lucky Badger Saloon, where they meet Olun Gor, a Garth (“Uplifted” gorilla). Olun says that the United Ecumenical Movement has been rumored to be kidnapping “Synths.”

Those missing include the brother of Jasmine’s reptilian former crewmate Averki “Deep Dish” Dyashenko, a Tauroid named Meson, and Olun’s girlfriend. Jasmine agrees to ask her companions for aid in rescuing them from the U.E.M.’s temples on the moon Phobos.

Back at the Gryphon, Hector and Chris are wary of getting involved, but Orion and Srinu are eager to help. Jax and Jim prefer to take on paying missions, and the pilot wants advanced technology such as a cloaking device.

But first, Hector notes, they must deliver their cargo of terraforming equipment to a recipient in the Martian outback. In addition, Jax is set to participate in a canyon race….

I hope that all of you have had a good week. Byron, I hope your family vacation went well, and Rob, we’ll miss you at tonight’s (Aug. 12) “Vortex” game!

Beruk, Josh, and Sara, I’m glad that you were able to make to Jason’s cookout and final “Glassworks” superhero session (for now). I also hope that you’ll be able to make it to Brian’s second Dungeon Crawl Classics demonstration and our upcoming return to the “Vanished Lands” fantasy campaign!

Don’t forget to review the Gryphon‘s specs to see what you might want to modify. Good luck, Josh, with getting your Dresden Files: “Dallas” game ready. See y’all soon, -Gene

“Vortex: the Gryphon” Update 5c.4 — the malls of Mars

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for Session 5c.4 of my “Vortexspace opera campaign, which we played via Skype and an online dice roller on Sunday, 22 July 2012. We’re using Fantastic Adventures in Tabletop Entertainment (FATE) 3rd Ed.: Starblazer Adventures/Mindjammer and Bulldogs.

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 summer 2012)

  • Hector Chavez” [Beruk A.]-male Latin American Terran human, former spy and communications expert/engineer of the Appomattox
  • Jasmine” [Sara F.]-female Martian Felinoid (Synth, “Uplifted” tiger), former professional pit fighter and onetime crewmember of the Appomattox, now apart from the grifters in “MarSoupAiL” and 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.]-male Terran “near-human” gambler and psi
Domed habitats on Mars
New Shanghai

>>”16 to 28 February to 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After its arrival at the Mars Confederacy, the crew of the Gryphon explored the area around the Hadriaca Paterna terraforming station while waiting to deliver machine parts.

Jax, still nursing a hangover, brings coffee to Hector Chavez in the Gryphon‘s cockpit. Security scanners detect someone at the airlock. Jim Delaney asks to come aboard and offers his services as a professional gambler.

Swashbuckler Jax is more interested in piracy than in grifting, and burned op Hector is unhappy that news of the yacht‘s arrival has spread through nearby settlements. They let the well-dressed young man talk to the rest of the crew.

Jasmine is wary of con artists because of her experiences on the Appomattox, but Orion Starchaser senses no ill intent. The friendly blue alien carries a feather from a bioengineered Martian species. Chris McKee asks Jim who or what he’s running from, and Dr. Srinu Pahul asks to examine the newcomer.

Hector relents and says that Jim can join the crew if he successfully acts as “face man” for the cargo drop. Orion happily accompanies Jim as he returns to subterranean cities, and Hector and Srinu tail them.

Jax and Chris initially stay behind on the Gryphon, and Jasmine and Darcy prepare to meet with Olun Gor, a Garth (“Uplifted” gorilla) in the Synth Liberation Front. Irdana, an Olvar (mammal-like arboreal alien) passenger, heads to the capital of Hellas Park.

Jim and Orion go to a town of dusty domesteads deep in the Martian outback. At the Lucky Badger Saloon, they look for fellow gamblers and hitchhikers. Hector and Srinu watch their backs, and the doctor learns that both he and Jim are looking for servant robots.

Impatient pilot Jax takes the Slipstream to New Shanghai, where he sees holograms of Shocho, the omnipresent mascot of the ruling Tenryu Party. Jax goes to a disreputable neighborhood, where he meets smuggler Harry Chu.

Back at the Lucky Badger, Hector tries to find out if anybody on Mars besides the Tarsis Terraforming Directorate would value the machine parts. The supporters of Green Gongen are opposed by the preservationists of the Rust Coalition.

Chu tells Jax about politician Han Wubing, but the “best pirate in the Sol system” is more interested in potential mark Maria Chan, who is having a luxury vessel built in the Utopia Planitia shipyards.

Orion chats with Slazim, a Trinoid (three-armed amphibian) xenologist. The extraterrestrials have difficulty understanding why humans would voluntarily poison themselves with alcohol. Slazim offers to put in a recommendation with the science bureaus on Orion’s behalf as an independent contributor if he’ll continue traveling with Terrans.

The rest of the Gryphon‘s crew eventually makes its way to New Shanghai, one of the largest colonies on Mars. Hector remotely monitors locations and communications, and Jasmine and Darcy watch out for bounty hunters.

Chris is more worried about his former employers at Black Box Security Co., but Dr. Pahul makes inquiries about unusual biotech research possibly related to the Zarkonian threat. Srinu also orders supplies for the science lab/sickbay — and robots Medical Emergency and Group Assistance Synthetic Nurse (M.E.G.A.N.), as well as Personal Executive Prototype-Version E (“Pepe”).

Jax asks Chu if any advanced equipment is being installed on Chan’s ship. Jim schmoozes and learns of remote landing sites used by smugglers, as Orion observes to Slazim that Terrans’ diversity and factionalism is part of their charm….

I hope that all of you had a good weekend while I was out of town visiting family. Josh and Sara, I hope that your latest move and unpacking have gone smoothly. Beruk, Rob, and Byron, let us know your availability in the coming weeks.

Geoff, can you resend me the document where you wrote up Orion’s species and background? Robin and company, remember to look over the “Gryphon’s” specs for future modification. Note that I’ve updated the calendar and contact database in the “Vanished LandsYahoo/eGroups site. I look forward to resuming “Vortex” this coming Sunday, 5 August 2012. Take it easy, -Gene

“Vortex” Update 5c.3 — “The best worst thing to happen on Mars”

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for Session 5c.3 of my “Vortexspace opera campaign, which we played via Skype and an online dice roller on Sunday, 15 July 2012. We’re using “Fantastic Adventures in Tabletop Entertainment” (FATE) 3rd Ed.: “Starblazer Adventures/Mindjammer” and “Bulldogs.”

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 summer 2012)

  • Hector Chavez” [Beruk A.]-male Latin American Terran human, former spy and communications expert/engineer of the Appomattox
  • Jasmine” [Sara F.]-female Martian Felinoid (Synth, “Uplifted” tiger), former professional pit fighter and onetime crewmember of the Appomattox, now apart from the grifters in “MarSoupAiL” and 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./absent]-male Indian Terran “near-human” (bioengineered) xenobiologist, shadowed by scandal and confident in survival skills
  • Jim” [Robert A.S./absent]-male Terran “near-human” gambler and psi
  • [Jim J.D’B.]-?
Beanstalk to Mars
Deimos-Pavonis space elevator

>>”15 to 21 February 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After meeting in Earth orbit, the crew of the Gryphon makes its shakedown cruise to the Mars Confederacy. The yacht also takes on a cargo of machine parts and a passenger fleeing from arms smugglers.

Hector Chavez scans for any illicit communications and sets up a jamming frequency for the cargo containers’ transponders. Jax “flies casual” to evade notice from the Interplanetary Patrol. The pirate pilot notes that his smaller vessel, the Slipstream, doesn’t have crew accommodations and thus can’t be used as a drop ship.

Orion Starchaser is fascinated by views of Mars and its moons Phobos and Deimos. Chris McKee tries to remember the location of a domestead he raided with the crew of the Blackbird as a place to avoid.

Darcy reminds Jasmine that they have friends in the Synth Liberation Front. They have heard rumors that the United Ecumenical Movement is holding S.L.F. members in its temples on Phobos. The bioengineered tigers make plans to meet Olun Gor, a Garth (“Uplifted” gorilla) on the surface.

Dr. Srinu Pahul talks with Irdana, an Olvar (mammal-like arboreal alien) tourist. The doctor also reviews supplies needed for the medical bay and galley. In one the Gryphon‘s lounges, the crew debates where to go next on Mars.

Hector recommends New Shanghai as one of the larger settlements, but Jax is wary of cities. Orion wants to see everything, and Chris and Srinu just want to avoid former employer Black Box Security Co. in the capital of Hellas Park.

Chris recommends that Jasmine meet Olun at the terraforming station at Hadriaca Paterna, which should be far enough from other colonies and the Union of Solar Nations base at Fort Olympus Mons. Instead of docking at the Deimos-Pavonis orbital elevator as originally planned, Jax takes the Gryphon down to the red world.

The landing party is greeted by scientist Taka Shimuza, megacorp delegate Herb Cort, and Asdann Fre’vel, a Gustrall (antlered, orange-furred, raptor-like alien) guard. Shimuza gives a tour of the massive plant of the Tharsis Terraforming Directorate, and Cort represents Uruk Services.

Even interstellar wanderer Orion is impressed by the scale of the machinery, some of which Hector recognizes as being similar to their cargo. Shimuza explains to Jax that efforts to make Mars more earthlike are expected to take many years, even with extraterrestrial assistance.

Cort mentions that the station has had little to worry about from local insurgents, especially after hiring a fierce Gustrall. Chris is happy to be reunited with Asdann, who invites him and Jasmine on a hunting expedition. Dr. Pahul and Darcy stay aboard the Gryphon to monitor communications and protect Irdana.

After their tour, the travelers return to their ship on the windswept landing pad for the night. Jasmine sends Olun a note, and he replies that he’ll come to Hadriaca Paterna the next day.

Orion is eager to explore, and Chris takes up a pool betting on how long it will take the blue alien to get into trouble. Jasmine says 15 minutes, Hector says 29, and Jax wagers 45. Chris predicts that it will take an hour, and Srinu bets on two hours.

The next morning, Asdann and Chris prepare a hoversled, and Jasmine and Darcy take her hoverbike from the hold. Orion is in his space suit and out the airlock before the others are even aware.

Even though Orion has no experience with ornithopters, Asdann trains him on the fundamentals. Jax reluctantly agrees to accompany him, but when he takes the controls, she jumps off. Orion sets off north as the hunters go south.

Asdann, Chris, Jasmine, and Darcy eventually land near a gulch in the cold, arid Martian outback. Asdann spots tracks of a six-legged Martian alligator (modified from Terran stock). Chris unslings his rifle and peers at various caves, while Jasmine is frustrated that the air is too thin for her to use her sense of smell.

Meanwhile, Orion sets down and hikes west. He sees a local domestead but decides instead to head north, toward snow-capped mountains. Back at the Gryphon, Jax and Hector split a bottle of brandy that Srinu brought along and discuss looking for more paying gigs.

In a gully with a little ice and algae, the hunters corner two gators gnawing on the remains of a dune strider. Jasmine draws her blaster and shoots, and Chris maneuvers to a higher position. Asdann misses, and the first gator bites at Jasmine’s gun, but she wrests it away.

The second beast leaps toward Asdann, who nimbly steps away. Jasmine strikes her foe with the butt of her gun, and Chris wings the second gator. One Martian menace tries to bite the tiger-woman’s foot, but she dodges, and Agent Prometheus finishes off both gators.

Asdann helps them haul the carcasses back to the Gryphon. Chris declares the hunting expedition a success, or “the best worst thing to happen on Mars.” They butcher the beasts for their hides and meat.

Accustomed to 1G, Orion makes great leaps across the rugged Martian landscape. The interstellar hitchhiker follows a flock of birds south. Curious Orion uses empathy to sense their mood as he climbs a cliff face to get closer to their perch.

The bioengineered birds have bright plumage, broad wingspans, and relatively small beaks. Orion takes a few photographs and hikes back to the terraforming station, where he gets lectured for leaving his ornithopter.

The next morning, Jax wakes up in the Gryphon‘s cockpit. The hung-over pilot nudges Hector and stumbles to the galley for some coffee. Chris and Dr. Pahul are chipper, and Jax is not thrilled to find an alligator head in the refrigerator.

Orion didn’t get into any serious trouble, so nobody wins the bet. Jasmine and Darcy mount one Martian gator skeleton in their cabin and the other at the swimming pool. They then get ready to deliver their cargo and meet fellow “Synth” Olun Gor….

I hope that you enjoyed this session and have had a good week. Byron, I hope you had a Happy Birthday! Rob, I look forward to your character eventually joining this crew, and Beruk, I’ll see you at The Dark Knight Rises on Sunday morning.

Good luck to Josh & Sara with your latest move — we’ll miss you this weekend and at Jason’s penultimate “Glassworks” superhero game on Monday. I’ll be out of town for the latter part of next week, and I’ll let everyone know if it will affect “Vortex.” Take it easy, -Gene