“Star Wars: Dark Times” Session 4 — Cabals of Bakura

Fellow role-players, here are Jason’s and my notes for Session 4 of his space opera miniseries, which Rich C.G. hosted on Monday, 28 October 2013, in Waltham, Mass.

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away — the Galactic Republic has been replaced by a ruthless empire, and the Jedi, once guardians of peace, are now hunted fugitives. In the Unknown Regions, at the edge of explored space, a few Jedi and their allies hope to survive and continue the fight for justice….

Player Character roster for Jason E.R.’s “Star Wars: Dark Times,” using Savage Worlds, autumn 2013:

  • Ekafti Acomar [Gene D.]-female human Jedi consular, older diplomat with many contacts but few remaining friends
  • “Garolos Banku Nuruolos — Garos [Beruk A.]-male Chiss (blue-skinned humanoid) ex-Jedi, gambler and owner of the light freighter “Lucky Strike
  • Oong Bak [Brian W.]-male Duros (gray-skinned humanoid) honorable and talented mechanic
  • Ari Sundar [Sara F.]-female Ssi-ruu (raptor-like reptile) military medic, outcast from a species intruding upon the galaxy
  • Thayne Highlander [Bruce K.]-male human Jedi padawan close to knighthood, 19 years old; saw master killed by Order 66
  • Max Power (MX-PR) [Rich C.G.]-male protocol droid with secret combat subroutine, ordered to protect Jedi (overrode Order 66)
  • Tark Agros [Brian S.]-male Bakuran human pilot and noble, mildly delusional hotshot

“From the journals of Ekafti Acomar, 19 B.B.Y. (before the Battle of Yavin):” After exploring two disabled Imperial cruisers near Cattamascar, the light freighter Lucky Strike followed the Shirotoku Way to Bakura. We had taken on a few passengers, including Zeltron scavenger Adaha Tila, protocol droid B-1E4, and Princess Tethys of Chandrila — an unauthorized clone of me.

MX-PR and I had visited Bakura during previous diplomatic missions, and the protocol droid recalled that the planet had about 68 million inhabitants, making it one of the more civilized systems in the sector. Bakura was colonized by core worlders from Hemei IV more than a century ago (in galactic standard time) and was known for its repulsorlift and biomedical technology.

I reminded “Max” to watch out for intolerance, since the colonists had put down a droid uprising about 70 years ago. As during the Clone Wars, when Gen. Grievous killed several planetary leaders, I still hoped to keep Bakura free from Palpatine’s new order.

Tark Agros took us into Salis D’aar, the quartz capital. It was a reluctant homecoming for our pilot, who was related to Bakura’s ruling clan. We left Oong Bak to continue repairs on the ship and Garolos Banku Nuruolos to communicate with Rodian bookie Bal Grainer.

At the landing pad, a customs agent insisted on putting restraining bolts on Max and B-1E4. Recent padawan Thayne Highlander and I were ready to use the Jedi Mind Trick to talk our way past, but a cloaked figure in a hologram did it for us. I talked with the agent later, and he didn’t recall much, but he did give us a contact number.

We bid Adaha farewell. Ari Sundar needed medical attention, so the Ssi-ruu and Thayne went to the residential and commercial “B” ring of the circular city to ask about shady clinics. Dilettante Tark went to talk to his racing buddies Roviden Belden and Rennt Govia, other members of Bakura’s long-lived aristocracy.

Tark learned that Sen. Orn Belden, representing the Bakur RepulsorCorp (BRC), was planning an exclusive party around a local holiday. It would be on Braad, a continent mostly inhabited by the primitive Kurtzen. Braad was also the source of the holo to the customs agent, but our trace of the signal was blocked by military police.

We regrouped at a clinic that Tark’s friends had suggested, hoping to avoid official scrutiny of Ari, whose reptilian people were new to the Unexplored Territories. Garos and I also hoped to find a link to the clones of me and Ssi-ruuk we had encountered.

We noticed that the receptionist was an android designed to closely resemble a human, which was a surprise on droid-hating Bakura. Tark was forced to clean out his bank accounts to pay for Ari’s surgery and medical supplies.

I asked Max to keep watch on Ari and gather information as he went with her into the operating theater. Thayne, Tark, and I walked around the building and found no doors or windows. Tark used his jetpack to confirm that there was a landing pad and door on the roof, as well as a security scanner.

Rather than risk Ari while she was under laser scalpels, we planned to return at dusk. Max confirmed that the entire facility was run by droids, although I sensed a single human presence deep within. Ari, Max, and I headed back to the Lucky Strike to drop off the supplies and pick up weapons, while Thayne and Tark were supposed to watch and wait.

Their stakeout was interrupted as an unmarked airspeeder landed, disgorging special operations troops. Thayne and Tark rashly decided to take advantage of the raid to infiltrate further. The duo flew and climbed to the roof, then took an elevator. They incapacitated two sentries and hid in bacta tanks as Capt. Harris ordered the building searched.

Ari, Max, and I disembarked from a hover train, and I politely asked an officer what was going on. He claimed it was a gas leak, but a Mind Read indicated that the police had found whatever or whoever they were looking for, and an air strike had been called. We went around the corner and warned our friends to get out fast.

Thayne found an exterior wall and cut a hole with his light saber. The building exploded. Tark broke the young Jedi’s fall, thanks to his jet pack, but we were forced to lie low at the Belden estate for the night. At least Ari’s scar from Ssi-ruuk younglings was removed, and we had found where different factions were covertly fighting.

That night, Thayne had another dream of a tower and Endolana, the kidnapped daughter of Jedi masters from 25,000 years ago. He saw Marala, a young woman who looked like another of my clones, lying washed ashore. Endolana shouted from the tower for Thayne to leave her alone.

The next morning, we caught a lift with Tark’s friends to Telaan Valley in Braad. Buildings had been built into the valley’s walls, and lovely terraced gardens masked the sinister conspiracies we planned to uncover. We carried concealed sidearms but nothing more, and we were not frisked.

I talked with President Grina Arden, the Bakuran head of state, who was surprised to see me alive after Order 66. She explained that Bakura sought to keep its independence by trading with the empire and other parties. I wondered if she knew of the warrior clones sought by the empire and Ssi-ruuk.

Princess Tethys was happy to be in a high-class setting. She may be my clone, but she’s happily oblivious. B-1E4 went missing, so I sent Max to find the suspiciously acting droid.

Ari caught scent of Tolovo Nathu, Bel Grainer’s runaway nurse and another of my clones. Thayne tried to make conversation with officers Capt. Blaine Harris, Anya Foravis, and Dana Galveson, who complained about having to attend such formal events.

Tark talked with Juris Keel, a weapons designer, and Jarik Tai, a recruiter for the mercenary Brotherhood, both of whom he had met at the Terminus restaurant in the Grand Pelgar hotel. They said that business was good.

My hopes for keeping Bakura out of imperial entanglements were fading, and Ari spotted Tolovo moving some equipment with long-necked Kaminoans, members of the same species that produced the republic’s clone troopers.

Ari radioed the rest of us via comm link, but she stepped on a trumpet flower, alerting Tolovo that she was being watched. Meanwhile, Max saw a cloaked figure removing a data storage unit from B-1E4. They were flanked by two men with Force pikes. As Jedi knights, Thayne and I knew we had to confront them.

Tolovo drew a pistol on Ari. Tark pretended to be tipsy and hopped in a speeder. He ran down Tolovo and her hover cart, but the Kaminoans got to their cloaked ship. Ari and Tolovo carefully righted the vials, which Tolovo claimed were full of medicine urgently needed by the Brotherhood.

Thayne and I joined Max in the Cloud Berry Garden, where we used Sense Force and Sense Life to track down the three robed figures. Bela Trepada, yet another young clone of me — does it ever end? — ignited two red light sabers, reminding me of Asajj Ventress.

Komari Vosa
Bela Trepada, yet another clone of Ekafti

I asked the young woman to stand down, but she was mute, well-trained, and aggressive. Fortunately, I was able to dodge or deflect her first few blows. Max was not so lucky. Thayne and I eventually defeated the two Force pike wielders and rushed to Max’s aid.

Bela wounded me, and Max picked up a pike and shoved me back, saying I should run. However, I couldn’t leave him and Thayne to face my doppelganger, so I stayed. Despite my Battle Mind, the would-be Sith destroyed the valiant droid and stabbed me in the abdomen, knocking me unconscious.

Thayne grabbed me and parts of Max as Bela disappeared into the vegetation. Ari and Tark agreed to let Tolovo go, on the condition that she get back in touch with us to answer some questions.

Ari attended to Thayne’s and my injuries, while Tark took us back to Garos and Oong on the Lucky Strike….

“Star Wars: Dark Times” Session 3 — Dead in space

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 3 of Jason E.R.’s face-to-face “Star Wars” game, which Brian W. hosted in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 7 October 2013:

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away — the Galactic Republic has been replaced by a ruthless empire, and the Jedi, once guardians of peace, are now hunted fugitives. In the Unknown Regions, at the edge of explored space, a few Jedi and their allies hope to survive and continue the fight for justice….

>>Player Character roster for Jason E.R.’s Star Wars: Dark Times” space opera miniseries, using Savage Worlds, autumn 2013:

  • Ekafti Acomar [Gene D.]-female human Jedi consular, older diplomat with many contacts but few remaining friends 
  • “Garolos Banku Nuruolos — Garos [Beruk A.]-male Chiss (blue-skinned humanoid) ex-Jedi, gambler and owner of the light freighter “Lucky Strike” 
  • Oong Bak [Brian W.]-male Duros (gray-skinned humanoid) honorable and talented mechanic
  • Ari Sundar [Sara F.]-female Ssi-ruu (raptor-like reptile) military medic, outcast from a species intruding upon the galaxy
  • Thayne Highlander [Bruce K.]-male human Jedi padawan close to knighthood, 19 years old; saw master killed by Order 66
  • Max Power (MX-PR) [Rich C.G.]-male protocol droid with secret combat subroutine, ordered to protect Jedi (overrode Order 66)
  • Tark Agros [Brian S.]-male Bakuran human pilot and noble, mildly delusional hotshot

“From the journals of Ekafti Acomar, 19 B.B.Y. (before the Battle of Yavin):” We seem to be more adept at getting into and out of trouble than agreeing on or getting to a destination. After encountering clones of me in the Grand Pelgar Hotel, we had gone to the Zanazi religious retreat on Cattamascar.

Two imperial cruisers that had been pursuing the clones floated in orbit, unresponsive. Adaha Tila made claims for the right to salvage, but the Zeltron woman got no response from the cruisers or Bakuran authorities, as far as we could tell.

Star Wars: Dark Times imperial cruiser
An early Imperial cruiser

At my recommendation, Garolos Banku Naruolos hailed Tila’s ship, which was docked with one of the disabled warships. Tark Agros piloted the Lucky Strike close enough to the Folly so that we could scan the sleek Hwk 290-class freighter for life signs.

Meanwhile, Oong Bak continued to make repairs on the Lucky Strike, and Thayne Highlander and MX-PR prepared to join Garos and me in going aboard the cruiser. Ari Sundar received a royal signal from her people, the reptilian Ssi-ruuk.

After some negotiation, Tila granted us permission to come aboard after an hour, during which she was apparently looking for something of value. I resisted recommendations that we shoot at the Folly before then, in the hope we could avoid a fight.

Garos contacted Jarik Tai, a Bakuran recruiter for “The Brotherhood” he had met at the Terminus restaurant, to see if he knew anything about Tila. Unfortunately, Tai had little useful to say about the attractive Zeltron.

We detected small-arms fire at the Folly, so Thayne, Garos, and I donned vacc suits and jumped to the cruiser. Droid “Max” easily followed. Oong, Ari, and Tark stayed with the Lucky Strike.

We interrupted a three-way shootout, with Adaha Tila drawing her blaster pistol on two groups. One included four tentacle-faced Krevaaki, similar to sage Moross Sapan, whom we had met at the retreat. They yelled something about “heretics.”

The last party to the standoff was a yellow Ssi-ruu guarding several blue-scaled younglings. Ari later explained that her red hide denotes the warrior caste, with the yellow representing scientists and blue the aristocracy. I told Ari what we found via comlink, and she rushed to join us.

I asked Tila how she was doing, and onetime Jedi Garos asked everyone to hold their fire. Ari and I wanted to protect the innocent younglings, so Max fired a grenade at the Krevaaki. One of the zealots managed to catch the explosive and throw it back at us!

I narrowly escaped serious injury, and recent padawan Thayne ignited his light saber and attacked the Krevaaki. Garos and Max shot them, and Ssi-ruuk Ari and Idiian wanted to get the royal younglings to safety.

Meanwhile, Oong and Tark were amused by our attempts to figure out what to do. They were forced to make evasive maneuvers as another Krevaaki ship fired on the Lucky Strike.

Tila slipped away, and Thayne and I headed to the main bridge, passing numerous stormtrooper corpses on the way. This could have been the work of my clones.

We found Tila blocked by a hazy green force field that blocked only organic matter. Over the comlink, I called for Max to join us, even as we glimpsed a dim shape moving on the bridge.

Adaha admitted that she was looking for confirmation of the Sanctuary Route, a rumored hyperspace lane. Garos seemed to recognize it. As the Krevaaki riddled the Folly with holes, I called for Ari and the other Ssi-ruuk to join us, away from the docking bay.

Max entered the cruiser’s bridge and saw an anomalous life form that he described as a mass of muscle and sinew, similar to Durge, the Gen’Dai bounty hunter. It had ripped the command crew to bloody shreds, and we decided to leave the force field containing it alone. With Krevaaki still around, we decided to leave via Idiian’s ship.

The Ssi-ruu scientist said (although not in so many words) that his people had made a deal with the Galactic Empire for clones in exchange for technology that converted vitality into energy usable by starships.

As Ari translated, I discovered through Mind Read that Idiian planned to take us all back to his homeworld, where we would be strapped to gurneys and tortured for our life force. I used the Jedi Mind Trick to get him to drop out of hyperspace near Gymelo, and I granted Max permission to take him down.

The belligerent droid immediately resorted to lethal force, which I should have predicted. Garos and Ari were confused, and worse still, Max wasn’t able to immediately incapacitate the pilot. To add to our difficulties, the younglings reacted by trying to protect their fellow Ssi-ruu.

The small but vicious raptors scarred Ari, tore circuits from Max, and attacked Thayne and me as we tried to gain control of the ship. Adaha cowered in terror. Fortunately, Thayne was able to land the ship, and I depressurized the cabin on the way to knock out everyone not in space suits.

We sent a signal to the Lucky Strike, which soon joined us in Gymelo’s jungles. Oong attended to the injured, and Thayne tied up Idiian and helped me move the insensate younglings to a locked compartment.

Oong found that the Ssi-ruuk ship was powered by P’w’eck, a reptilian subject race, wired into its systems. We released the weak slaves, who staggered off into the forest. Garos was disappointed that we couldn’t obtain any data or useful salvage.

Tark, Garos, and Max wanted to kill the younglings, but I knew that unconscious Ari wouldn’t. Even though they were bred or cloned to be killing machines, I couldn’t take their lives in good conscience, even if they had tried to kill us.

After another heated debate, I told Idiian that we would leave him and the younglings on Gymelo and that they should remember our mercy. As we left, the Lucky Strike got a Clone Wars-era distress signal, CC-648.

We followed the signal to a small clearing, where clone Cmdr. “Thorn” and the remains of his platoon greeted us. Over Garos’ objections, I revealed my identity as a Jedi. He greeted us as officers, but I had to explain how the old Republic had fallen to Palpatine’s schemes.

Naturally, “Thorn” had difficulty understanding why the Republic would have fallen from within rather than as a result of Separatist or Ssi-ruuvi attacks. Somehow, his group hadn’t heard about Order 66, which outlawed all Jedi, so Thayne and I were safe for the moment.

We shared what supplies we could, and I promised the loyal troopers that I would try to return. Thayne and I viewed these men as potential assets and their base, far from imperial orders, as a rare safe landing site. Garos and Tark would have preferred to kill them in cold blood.

Tark detected the source of the signal jamming these clones’ transmissions, which we traced to a Separatist emplacement. We left the clone troopers behind, as well as recuperating Ari. She agreed to watch the Lucky Strike and reluctant passengers Adaha, Princess Tethys (one of my clones), and suspicious protocol droid B-1E4.

We found nine commando droids circling the clone trooper camp, plus lumbering Viper droids with transmitters. We decided to leave them alone and head back into space, since destroying them might expose the troopers to Order 66.

Since Cattamascar was on the Shirotoku Way between Gymelo and Bakura, where I still hoped to thwart the empire, we stopped back at that desert world. Tark and Garos wanted to examine the second disabled cruiser.

On the way, Thayne had another dream of a dark tower and a banner with a centipede symbol. He again saw Endolana, the young daughter of Ataru, a Jedi master who lived 25,000 years ago. This time, Endolana was joined by friends including mute Aliza, Dal-Vha, Khatyen, Tomi and the adolescent Miru.

From the holocron of Sai Agorn, I recognized these girls as the daughters of masters Djem So, Makashi, Shien, Shii-cho, and Soresu, respectively. All had light saber forms named after them, and the children’s kidnapping was a major cause of the Jedi vow of celibacy.

The girls sung a morbid nursery rhyme, according to Thayne’s later recollection. Endolana told Thayne that he was close to reaching them in “sanctuary,” possibly a reference to Adaha’s hyperspace route.

We arrived at Cattamascar to find more Krevaaki ships attached to the hull of the second imperial cruiser. As Tark flew us by the bridge, its window blew out, and the Krevaaki blasted another fleshy anomaly into space and restored power. An emergency force field replaced the window.

Oong found a way to get a landing bay to open, and we hurried to the bridge, stepping over yet more slain stormtroopers. Tark put on his jet pack and flew ahead, despite my warning. Garos ran after him. Both were shot and wounded by fanatical Krevaaki.

Thayne, Max, and I then rushed in, followed by Garos and Tark. Oong worked to regain attitude control, since the cruiser had been set on a collision course with the Zanazi retreat. This was the third time in as many days that I was on a falling vehicle — first the Grand Pelgar out of control through Cattamascar’s heart, then the Ssi-ruuk vessel, and now the cruiser.

At least we’ve been able to limp away from those events so far. Oong managed to get us back into orbit, but the Black Sun virus re-emerged, threatening to take us to Nar Shaddaa, the Hutt homeworld. We had to leave.

Thayne and I grabbed a few medkits, and Garos hoped to get more useful data. Max and the others grabbed more blasters — we’ll have to see if that protocol droid can be reprogrammed. The Lucky Strike again set forth for Bakura, which we still hoped to defend from imperial grasp….

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

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

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

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

Acting crew of the experimental scout ship Blackbird:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acting crew of the refitted yacht Pina Colada:

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

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

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

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

Artificial satellite
A machine moon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Star Wars: Dark Times” Session 2 — Cattamascar and clones

Fellow role-players, here are Jason E.R.’s and my notes from his second “Star Wars: Dark Times” session, which Rich C.G. hosted in Waltham, Mass., on Monday, 23 September 2013:

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away — the Galactic Republic has been replaced by a ruthless empire, and the Jedi, once guardians of peace, are now hunted fugitives. In the Unknown Regions, at the edge of explored space, a few Jedi and their allies hope to survive and continue the fight for justice….

>>Player Character roster for Jason E.R.’s Star Wars: Dark Times” space opera miniseries, using Savage Worlds, autumn 2013:

  • Ekafti Acomar [Gene D.]-female human Jedi consular, older diplomat with many contacts but few remaining friends
  •  “Garolos Banku Nuruolos — Garos [Beruk A.]-male Chiss (blue-skinned humanoid) ex-Jedi, gambler and owner of the light freighter “Lucky Strike
  •  Oong Bak [Brian W.]-male Duros (gray-skinned humanoid) honorable and talented mechanic
  •  Ari Sundar [Sara F.]-female Ssi-ruuk (raptor-like reptile) military medic, outcast from a species intruding upon the galaxy
  •  Thayne Highlander [Bruce K.]-male human Jedi padawan close to knighthood, 19 years old; saw master killed by Order 66
  •  Max Power (MX-PR) [Rich C.G.]-male protocol droid with secret combat subroutine, ordered to protect Jedi (overrode Order 66)
  •  Tark Agros [Brian S.]-male Bakuran human pilot and noble, mildly delusional hotshot

“From the journals of Ekafti Acomar, 19 B.B.Y. (before the Battle of Yavin):” There are times I wish we had stayed hidden along the Shirotoku Way. However, nobody ever said that following the path of the light side of the Force would be easy.

We had agreed to check on nurse Tolovo Nathu for Bal Grainer, a Rodian bookie and contact of Garolos Banku Nuruolos, in return for a lead on a light saber up for auction. After dealing with a computer virus and stopping at G’horo, the Lucky Strike went to Cattamascar. We found the Grand Pelgar Hotel falling out of control as it passed through a tunnel through the planet.

Oong Bak managed to restore functions to the luxury hotel, saving the lives of about 500 sentients aboard. Our mechanic stayed with the ship, which had been attacked by Imperial Stormtroopers and hunter droids. Ari Sundar sniffed for more enemies.

science fiction liner
Luxury suite

Thayne Highlander and Tark Agros grabbed extra weapons from the fallen, but I suggested that we not carry them all. Protocol droid MX-PR continued to display a disconcerting interest in combat. We went to the main reception area on Deck 2, where a hotel clerk was overwhelmed with incoming messages.

I expressed sympathy and asked for help locating Tolovo. The clerk explained that the guest manifest was on a database on Bakura, but all non-Imperial computer networks had just been shut down by edict, no doubt in response to the Hutt/Black Sun virus. He recommended that we visit the promenade on Deck 4.

To search such a large area, we split up. Garos and Tark went to the exclusive Terminus restaurant, which floated high above the gardens. Ari and Thayne took one side of the promenade, and Max and I searched the other for signs of Tolovo.

Our teams could have been more effective in talking with various passengers, but we had been stuck in a small ship for months and had not practiced such information gathering. Tark and Garos climbed the light bridges and saw two droid bartenders atop a hatch in the center of the resizable platform.

As a Ssi-ruu, Ari did gain some hostile stares, especially since her reptilian kin were said to be making incursions into the Unknown Regions. Recent padawan Thayne did his best to reassure the Bakurans that she posed no threat.

I had similar difficulties with Max, given the Bakuran intolerance toward robots. Near a fountain, we overheard Coab Nev’ra and Juris Keel talking about “the droid menace.” I pretended to be a dotty old lady and learned that Nev’ra was a Verpine weapons designer and Keel a trader and engineer negotiating a research and development facility on Bakura.

Up on Terminus, Tark took up a sniper’s position to watch the people on the promenade. Garos saw Jarik Tai flirting with bored Zeltron beauty Adaha Tila. White-clad Cutter Torsin enjoyed a meal with Proddo, an Arcona. Talkative Garos introduced himself to Moross Sapan, a lone Krevaaki scholar.

Ari smelled elevated pheromones from a Gotal resting on a park bench. Despite being addled by stims, Syal Obdaris was well-dressed and said that his rooms were “too noisy.” Thayne noticed that Obdaris was heavily armed and wisely gave him a wide berth.

Our scoundrels, soldiers, or Jedi weren’t finding signs of the missing woman. Since Tolovo was a nurse, I asked the staff if the hotel had a sickbay. Max and I were referred to Deck 12, the technology level, which made sense if the Grand Pelgar wanted to be discreet about ill passengers.

We headed to a turbolift, but on the way, a red-haired woman emerged from some shrubbery. Foxdi Zess warned us that the imperials were looking for a droid and a woman. In the turbolift, droid B-1E4 introduced herself as a servant of one Princess Tethys.

Meanwhile, Garos and Tark learned that Moross Sapan was trying to get access to a Zenasi religious retreat on Cattamascar’s surface. Tark noted that he had an uncle among the Kurtzen monks.

Beast hunter Obdaris told Thayne and Ari that he was on his way to the agricultural Chandrilan colony on Kammia. They were curious about his quarters, which were on Deck 8, the penthouse. Thayne and Ari went to that level, where the Ssi-ruu smelled someone familiar.

In Terminus, Garos chatted with Tai after Tila rejected him. The recruiter of scouts for “The Brotherhood” mentioned a nurse traveling with a red-haired woman and two long-necked aliens. We were making progress, but I was worried about what Garos told me over comm link.

As expected, there were indeed Imperial troops on Deck 12, so Max and I went to rejoin the others on Deck 8. We heard animal noises from one suite — no doubt Syal Obdaris’ rooms. I warned the others to stay back as Thayne and I knocked on another door.

Foxdi Zess answered, but when Thayne rashly mentioned Bal Grainer and Tolovo Nathu, she put on a Mandalorian helmet and ordered me into the room alone. The Mandalorians were once enemies of the Jedi, and their homeworld had suffered from an attempted coup during the Clone Wars. I tried to reassure my companions as the door slid shut behind me.

Zess and two other guards in Mandalorian armor guarded a woman in a force field attended to by two Kaminoans, the long-necked beings Tai had described. The soldiers for hire had begun burning a hole into Obdaris’ suite, probably with the intention of a diversion or escape if they were pursued. I was expected.

Upon seeing Tolovo, I finally understood why the Empire would be willing to destroy the hotel to get to her. She was a younger version of me! Apparently, during the waning days of the Old Republic, someone had secretly cloned several Jedi — without our consent, I might add — as an extension of the project that created Clone Troopers.

Our medical records would have been readily available at the Jedi temple on Coruscant, and I wondered whether my “sister” had Force talents. I could not sense through the energy shield, but I knew that the Sith would be interested, as the list of fugitive Jedi we had obtained previously gained more import.

Tolovo said that she was safe enough with the finest attendants Grainer’s money could buy and that I should check on Princess Tethys Acomar before leaving. The imperials would soon be busy enough, my clone said.

I rejoined the crew of the Lucky Strike in the hallway, and we went to Deck 6. Ari’s medkit relayed a royal Ssi-ruuk distress beacon from Gymelo, where she had first encountered Thayne.

We met Princess Tethys, and while she seemed ignorant, it was apparent to any who saw both her and me that she was a younger version of me. Of greater concern was the fact that a squad of Stormtroopers lay dead at her feet, with no obvious signs of struggle.

We raced with the princess and B-1E4 to the launch bay, and Oong and Tark got us aloft. To escape the looming cruisers, Tark took us past collapsing field walls and flowing magma. The Force was with us, because we managed not to get caught between them and the Grand Pelgar hotel.

I informed Tethys that her homeworld of Chandrila had joined the empire, but she seemed oblivious to the problem. I told her that we were merely related and found that she thought the ban on Jedi was perfectly legal. Obviously, the princess had much to learn, but I had to be careful, given her (and Tolovo’s) potential power and naïveté.

I told my companions that our mission was no longer to retrieve the lightsaber of Thayne’s late master, Shin-wu Sorotai, but now to keep Bakura and its colonies out of Imperial grasp. The resources, Jedi clones, hostile factions, and cause of liberty and justice were too important for us to simply hide or leave. Garos rightly asked for a specific plan, but we’ll have to work on one together.

We experienced another fitful sleep cycle. Thayne had another dream of the girl Endolana and a dark tower. This time, she was with a friend, Aliza. When Thayne told me this, I recalled from Sai Agorn’s holocron that Aliza was the daughter of Master Djem So. Strangely, Thayne in the dream was wearing an ivory-colored military uniform with an embossed leather centipede design on his chest.

Like Endolana, the daughter of Master Ataru, her kidnapping 25,000 years ago led to a fracture in the Jedi council and the eventual adoption of monastic vows. I wasn’t sure what the visions meant, but Thayne believed they were connected to his late master, Shin-wu Sorotai.

We returned to Cattamascar’s surface and landed at the remote Zenasi retreat. Oong again stayed with the ship, and Ari kept watch over him and B-1E4. I decided to bring Tethys with me as my “daughter,” both to give her exercise and the semblance of freedom, and to keep watch over her.

Hierophant Inif Cundertol was kinsman to Tark, if not especially hospitable. Our pilot asked to leave a message for Moross Sapan, but the Krevaaki was already there! Garos had met an imposter in the subterranean hotel. Fortunately, we were able to ask the real scholar some questions about ancient Force traditions.

Master Sapan mentioned the followers of Palawa, the Chatos Academy, and the Sorcerers of Rhand. Remnants of these groups still existed in the Outer Rim. When Thayne asked about Endolana, Moross mentioned the legend of the Force avatars, beings who somehow manifested well after their natural lives in times of need or upheaval, but he did not connect them to Jedi.

I walked around the dusty retreat with Tethys and Max, while Garos and Thayne tried to see if any Kurtzen(nonhuman natives of Bakura) would be willing to oppose the Empire. The followers of the Balance were not interested in violence, which I can appreciate, even if it may doom them. We’ll have to find other Bakurans who are more sympathetic.

Oong called us back to the Lucky Strike. The two Imperial cruisers were adrift in orbit, with no attempts to launch T.I.E. fighters or hail us. I suspected that whatever or whoever had killed the squad around Princess Tethys was responsible.

Adaha Tila claimed the cruisers for salvage. I asked Garos to ask her for permission to board the warships in search of clues….