“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.35 — Ship shuffles

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.35 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 2 June 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/MindjammerBulldogs, and anonline 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 “VortexTerra’s Pride” (Team 3/5c) telecom Player Characters, as of spring 2013:

Crew of the refitted yacht Pina Colada:

  • Capt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and leader of the “Terra’s Pride” homeworld security task force
  • Cmdr. Jasmine” [Sara F., primary]-female Martian Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” tiger), former pit fighter and crewmember of the “Appomattox,” hoping to find a homeworld for her people
  • Hector Chavez” [Beruk A., primary]-male Terran human, former spy and crewmember on the “Appomattox,” cautious engineer and communications expert
  • Chris McKee /Agent Prometheus” [Josh C., primary]-male Terran human, former assassin for the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., sniper and seeker
  • Orion Starchaser” [Geoff C., primary]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and confident planetary patriot; with robots MEGAN and PEPE
  • Chiron” [Dexter V.H., primary/absent]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

Crew of the experimental scout ship Blackbird:

  • Lt.Cmdr. Sebastian Growlick” [Bruce K., secondary]-male Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” lion), elite soldier and acting commander of the refitted “Blackbird”
  • Lt.Cmdr. Tela” [Sara F., secondary]-female Tharian (gargoyle-like alien), escapee from the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), fond of humans; engineer with boyfriend Kedar
  • Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A., secondary]-male Terran “near-human” (mutant) wanderer with a past, investigator
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington” [Josh C., secondary]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance and Union of Solar Nations
  • Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer” [Geoff C., secondary]-male Martian Ursoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” bear), former wrestler, pilot
  • Lt. Nathan A. Jessup” [Byron V.O., secondary]-male Terran human, gung-ho space marine and fighter pilot
  • Enkidu Aristheon” [Dexter V.H., secondary/absent]-male Seranen (pale empathic humanoid alien) exile, wilderness survival expert curious about Terrans and the Zarkonian threat; with sphinx-like companion Glaucon

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

“13 to 17 August 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After rescuing Terran ships and arresting traitors near Wolf 359, the “Terra’s Pride” homeworld security task force returned to the Asteroid Belt to report.

Ships in the Asteroid Belt
Terran space fleet

Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese turns over Zarkonian sympathizers Ms. Helen Gastmeyer, Cmdr. Hadsrubal Guitterez, and Lt. Fenris Ironclaw to Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.) custody at Ceres Station. Adm. Jacques Pons offers Kevin and his crew commissions in the U.S.N. space navy in gratitude.

Even though the political situation is deteriorating on Earth, the U.S.N. has redirected its forces to strengthen perimeter defenses against the approaching Zarkonian Armada. The admiral also notes that potential missions include joining the fleets deployed around the Sol system, scouting possible evacuation routes, and infiltrating enemy-held space.

Adm. Pons tells Kevin that he and his friends have 24 hours to decide because the armada is estimated to be only weeks away. Newly promoted, Capt. Reese calls a meeting in the Pina Colada’s lounge.

From the yacht, Jasmine and Dr. Srinu Pahul accept ranks within the Terran military, but Hector Chavez and Chris McKee decline the offer to return to formal service. Galactic wanderer Orion Starchaser laughs at the offer, preferring to stay unattached. Chiron asks for time to think.

From the scout ship Blackbird, Sebastian Growlick, Tela, Lord Wallace Tubbington III, Brun Bearhammer, and Nathan A. Jessup accept U.S.N. promotions or commissions. Survival experts Tariq Asrad Saladin and Enkidu Aristheon decline.

Capt. Reese relays Adm. Pons’ mission descriptions and asks for recommendations. Cmdr. Pahul recommends placing paralyzed prisoners aboard the Crazy Horse and seeing how the Zarkonians respond to an attack.

Wallace, now special envoy between the Olvar Star League and the U.S.N., doesn’t like Srinu’s plan to throw away human lives, even if they are criminals. Orion and Enkidu agree. Lord Tubbington adds, however, that he is up for diplomacy and adventure, including going behind enemy lines.

Tariq says that he has been experimenting with using bioelectronics to block psionics. Engineers Tela and Hector assist, as do telepaths Orion and Enkidu.

Chris is also unsure about Dr. Pahul’s “Trojan horse” plan. The sniper recommends using the Blackbird’s cloaking device for infiltration. Hector makes a counterproposal of using a remotely piloted drone.

Hector also says that he has studied plasma sword crystals to create a prototype tunable force-field emitter. Unfortunately, three slower-than-light generation colony ships may be too far to help. In addition, the former spy points out that he is the only person familiar with the zero-point munitions intercepted on their way to Earth.

Capt. Reese then turns to the naval personnel. Lt. Jessup is eager to get training for a new aerospace superiority fighter craft. Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer suggests luring the cloud-based energy entities recently encountered as an obstacle for the approaching armada.

Lt.Cmdr. Tela says that she has been working on scaling up an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) gun for the Blackbird. Despite his attachment to Jasmine, Lt.Cmdr. Growlick volunteers to take the Crazy Horse for a kamikaze mission.

Cmdr. Jasmine also objects to Cmdr. Pahul’s idea of using humans as bait, and the doctor responds that foes must be defeated by any means necessary. “Each hour we slow the Zarkonians means that many more Terrans can escape,” Srinu says.

Capt. Reese says that he’ll take everyone’s recommendations under advisement. The group then discusses deployment of the ships currently in “Terra’s Pride.” The Blackbird will pursue the primary mission of covertly entering Zarkonian-held space.

The experimental Olvar (mammal-like arboreal alien) vessel will include Capt. Reese as commander, Lt.Cmdr. Tela as engineer, and Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer as helmsman. Mr. McKee and Lt. Jessup will serve as gunners and marines, and Mr. Saladin and Mr. Aristheon will provide psionic protection.

The Pina Colada will lead the Sovereign and Tigress in an attempt to find the cloud-based entities that had zombified starship crews. Capt. Reese orders the three ships to lure or capture the “psi eaters” so that they can attack the Zarkonians.

Cmdr. Jasmine takes the Pina Colada, with Chiron as pilot and Tela’s boyfriend Kedar as engineer. Telepath Orion agrees to try to contact the creatures, and Lord Tubbington is ready to assist with any alien contacts. Hector arranges for his onetime handler, Max(ine), to be posted to the Pina Colada.

Lt. Harry “Monty Hall” Takahari Jr. takes charge of repairing and restaffing the Sovereign, while Kevin’s sometime lover Capt. Elektra Contos readies the Tigress.

The third portion of the task force is assigned to run errands within the Sol system. Cmdr. Growlick takes the Dauntless, and Capt. Aveeshi Stormsea, an Aquarian (amphibious alien), takes the Crazy Horse.

Kevin asks Sebastian and Aveeshi to help evacuate past associates, such as scientist “Syzygy” [Brian W.], aspiring politician “Aughest-vor…” [Jason E.R.], and journalist “Scoop Chang” [Rich C.G.].

Capt. Reese also privately asks Hector to prepare zero-point bombs and other weapons. He approves Cmdr. Pahul’s idea to find people for a kamikaze run against the Zarkonians.

After a swift orientation in the growing Colonial Defense Force, new officers Jasmine, Srinu, and Wallace are sworn in aboard the battleship “Ilokar.” Hector and Tela supervise refits to their vessels, including adding an EMP gun and improving the Blackbird’s stealth capability.

The Pina Colada gets Hector’s experimental force field, and the Dauntless gains a rail gun. Dr. Pahul requisitions additional medical supplies and torpedoes for the Crazy Horse.

Orion, Tela and Kedar, and Enkidu and Glaucon take advantage of a few days in dock to stretch their legs (and wings). They observe how the Kharvamid Alliance and U.S.N. have added Transit (faster-than-light) drives to numerous vessels and habitats.

Adm. Pons summons Capt. Reese and Cmdr. Pahul to the Ilokar for a high-level briefing. They are joined by Capt. Evander Scofield, the Gustrall (antlered, orange-furred, flightless raptor-like alien) in charge of the Korelev, as well as Lt. Clark Faddil of the Pinkerton, Cmdr. Alfonso Balaz of the Steel Sanguinis, and the captains of the Ogbe Babba Akinyelure and the Dumas.

Based on reports from survivors from Laransu and Aquarius Prime, says Jacques, the high command estimates casualties of more than 90% of the Sol system’s 20 billion inhabitants.

Even with aid from the Trinoids, Olvar, Nethians, and Ma’ari, the fleets defending Earth and its colonies are going to be vastly outnumbered and outgunned by the invaders from the Milky Way’s Sagittarius Arm, he says. None of those extraterrestrial species have fought anything on that scale for thousands of (Terran) years.

The grim admiral asks for volunteers to join the last-ditch defense of the Sol system and says that some special forces have been left behind to prepare a possible resistance. Adm. Pons explains that most U.S.N. battle groups will be escorting refugee fleets spinward, deeper into unexplored and nonaligned space in the Orion Arm.

Kevin and Srinu return to the Blackbird, with the fate of humanity on their minds….

Now that we’ve dealt with logistics, I look forward to role-playing the crew of the Blackbird getting back out into space! Let me know what new aspects, skills, and stunts you’re adding to each character. I’ve also updated the ship specs on the Obsidian Portal wiki.

I also look forward to tonight’s “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” fantasy game and to Rich’s Star Wars: Edge of the Empire one-shot next Monday! Be seeing you, -Gene

“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.34 — Chains of command

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.34 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Monday, 27 May 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures /MindjammerBulldogs, and an online dice roller.

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

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

Acting crew of the Terran frigate Sovereign:

  • Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese [Bruce K., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and member of the Blackbird and Dauntless crews; defender of the homeworld
  • Tela [Sara F., secondary]-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., primary]-male Terran human, former assassin for the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., sniper and seeker aboard the Blackbird and Pina Colada
  • Orion Starchaser [Geoff C., primary]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • Hector Chavez [Beruk A., primary/absent]-male Terran human, former spy and crewmember on theAppomattox, cautious engineer and communications expert
  • Sgt. Nathan A. Jessup [Byron V.O., secondary/absent]-male Terran human, gung-ho member of the North American Aerospace Marine Corps
  • 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.

“8 to 12 August 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After foiling would-be assassins at the Wolf 359 outpost, the acting crew of the corvette Dauntless interrogated Ms. Helen Gastmeyer, an agent for the approaching Zarkonian Armada.

The “Terra’s Pride” homeworld security task force then regrouped at Lalande 21185. The commanders of the Pina Colada, Blackbird, Dauntless, Sovereign, and Crazy Horse meet to discuss their next moves.

Capt. Jasmine” [Sara] of the refitted yacht Pina Colada recommends eliminating the threat posed by Cmdr. Hadsrubal Guitterez, the traitor in charge of the Wolf 359 base. “Lt. Sebastian Growlick” [Bruce], commander of the experimental scout ship Blackbird, notes that most of the troops stationed there may still be loyal to the Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.).

Capt. Aveeshi Stormsea, the Aquarian (amphibious humanoid alien) captain of the frigate Sovereign, says that the damaged ships need to return to the Sol system for crew and repairs. Capt. Dirk Hatch of the Crazy Horse switches places with Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese aboard the Dauntless.

Tela joins Kevin and inspects the engines of the Sovereign. Chris McKee is more interested in the Terran frigate’s guns and missiles. Orion Starchaser is exhausted after his telepathic battles with Ms. Gastmeyer and rests in a cabin.

Sgt. Nate Jessup is pleased to be aboard yet another military vessel, and Hector Chavez coordinates task force communications and watches for pursuit from Wolf 359. “Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron] watches over Ms. Gastmeyer and Capt. Helena Cain of the Dauntless, and Chiron stays with the Pina Colada.

After piloting the Sovereign to Lalande 21185, Ursoid (“Synth,” “Uplifted” bear) “Lt. Brun Bearhammer” [Geoff] requests to be transferred back to the Blackbird. Lt.Cmdr. Reese approves and has Hector send a request to the U.S.N. fleet for reinforcements, as well as the news about Zarkonian spies.

Col. Shan Gray eventually replies that he’s sending the patrol ship Tigress, relieving some of Kevin’s stress. Col. Gray says that securing Wolf 359 is important because 30 refugee ships are already on their way from Earth.

Lt.Cmdr. Reese’s superior also approves of using a reassignment order to lure Cmdr. Guitterez away from Wolf 359 so he can be arrested with a minimum of conflict. Kevin finds that he is a bit rusty with astrogation, but he takes theSovereign back to the outpost and congratulates Hadsrubal on his new commission.

Raptor-class fighters piloted by Lt. Kamar “Buster” Olekunde and Lt. Mireille “Skeets” Rubio escort the Sovereign,Pina Colada, Blackbird, and Crazy Horse to the orbital station, while the Dauntless again hides on the far side of the star.

Kevin orders helmeted Chris and Nate to accompany him, leaving Orion and Hector aboard the Sovereign because they might be recognized. The away team takes a Morgan-class shuttle to the Wolf 359 outpost.

The three uniformed humans are greeted by Cmdr. Guitterez and his Canid (“Synth,” “Upflited” wolf) chief of security, Lt. Fenris Ironclaw. Hadsrubal asks for a few hours to prepare for his reassignment and invites the visitors to dinner.

Meanwhile, Orion and Chris walk around the Sovereign and are surprised when crew members congratulate them for defeating the Zarkonian agents. Tela and Hector look for ways to disable the base’s systems if needed.

Kevin and Nate meet Lugh Astrophel, an Olvar (mammal-like, arboreal alien) trader. He asks if they know anything of the whereabouts of Velanna Loquieth, captain of the courier ship Unquith. She has been missing for a few (Terran) days — but Lugh seems not to know that she was a plasma sword-wielding attackers working with Ms. Gastmeyer.

Nate notices that they are being followed, none too subtly, by a combat robot whom Hector identifies as Kurang. Kevin sticks to public areas but pretends not to notice the droid. Orion scans for other telepaths and is pleased to report that Helen and the late Velanna were the only other psions at Wolf 359.

Kevin, Tela, and Nate dine with Cmdr. Guitterez, Lt. Ironclaw, and Capt. Hatch, as well as engineer Lt. Han Lao Bing, chief medical officer Dr. Roberto Torkas, and swashbuckling cyborg Capt. Dino Neustadt.

Tela covertly scans the meal and finds that all of the food has a toxin, but only the guests’ drinks lack a counteragent. Kevin and Tela “accidentally” grab the wrong glasses, but Nate relies on his space marine conditioning. Cmdr. Guitterez seems pleased that he’ll be aboard the Sovereign soon.

Lt.Cmdr. Reese shows Cmdr. Guitterez and Lt. Ironclaw to guest cabins on the Sovereign. Capt. Hatch takes command of the Wolf 359 outpost. Dr. Pahul checks on those exposed to food toxins.

Once the flotilla is away from the base, Hector pumps anesthetic gas into Hadsrubal and Fenris’ cabins. Sgt. Jessup and Mr. McKee take them to sickbay, where Dr. Pahul examines them. He finds cyanide tooth capsules, as well as cortical bomb implants.

Kevin orders them removed, and Srinu gets help from robotic nurse MEGAN. When they awaken, Hadsrubal mocks Lt.Cmdr. Reese until he learns that Helen has also been arrested and that an explosive was removed from his brain. Fenris alternates between rage and fatalism, and Kevin assigns more crew to watch the prisoners.

Lt. Bearhammer and the other astrogators set a course for Earth. Capt. Jasmine agrees with Lt.Cmdr. Reese that they should take the fight to the Zarkonians. The Felinoid also studies tactics with Lt. Growlick, who says she’ll probably be offered a position in the U.S.N. space navy upon mission completion.

Tela misses her boyfriend Kedar, robot aide Dr. Bucket, and the drone hive back on the Blackbird. The Tharian channels her energies into enhancing the Sovereign and creating more EMP (electromagnetic pulse) guns.

The cortical implants remind Chris of his own recent ties to Black Box Security Co., and the sniper meditates. Olvar diplomat “Lord Wallace Tubbington III” [Josh] starts an intership poker tournament, drawing in Brun, Srinu, and others.

Orion goes to the Pina Colada to swim in its pool, and Kevin is pleased when sometime lover Capt. Elektra Contos and the Tigress join his task force en route to Earth.

After just a few days’ travel, “Terra’s Pride” reaches the edge of the Sol system. The Shaka Zulu battle group hails the incoming vessels. Adm. Joseph Ochieng tells Lt.Cmdr. Reese that all incoming traffic is being screened, and his battle group is trying to facilitate evacuation.

Adm. Ochieng directs the Sovereign and its sister ships to the Asteroid Belt, where Col. Gray and the U.S.N. high command await their prisoners and reports before they head out into deep space….

Beruk, Byron, and Dexter, I hope that you had a good Memorial Day; we missed you! I expect the “Vortex” game to return to its normal time this coming Sunday, 2 June 2013.

I enjoyed the final session (for now) of Jason E.R.’s “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars,” and I look forward to our face-to-face group’s one-shots this coming summer. In the meantime, I’ll see some of you at next Monday’s “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” fantasy game…. -Gene

“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.33 — Zarkonian questions

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.33 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 12 May 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/MindjammerBulldogs, and an online dice roller.

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

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

Acting crew of the corvette Dauntless:

  • Capt. Jasmine [Sara F., primary]-female Martian Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” tiger), former pit fighter and crewmember of the Appomattox, now captain of the Pina Colada searching for a homeworld for her people
  • Hector Chavez [Beruk A., primary]-male Terran human, former spy and crewmember on theAppomattox, cautious engineer and communications expert
  • Chris McKee /Agent Prometheus” [Josh C., primary]-male Terran human, former assassin for the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., sniper and seeker aboard the Blackbird and Pina Colada
  • Orion Starchaser [Geoff C., primary]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese [Bruce K., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and member of the Blackbird and Dauntless crews; defender of the homeworld
  • Lt. Sebastian Growlick [Bruce K., secondary]-male Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” lion), elite soldier and acting commander of the refitted Blackbird
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul [Byron V.O., primary/absent]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and confident planetary patriot; with robots MEGAN and PEPE
  • Enkidu Aristheon [Dexter V.H., secondary/absent]-male Seranen (pale empathic humanoid alien) exile, wilderness survival expert curious about Terrans and the Zarkonian threat; with sphinx-like companion Glaucon

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

“4 to 7 August 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After rescuing ships from a cloud-based energy entity, a homeworld security task force found that the Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.) outpost orbiting Wolf 359 had been compromised by agents for the approaching Zarkonian Armada.

Members of “Terra’s Pride” defeated one would-be assassin and captured another. They took the “Dauntless” to the far side of Wolf 359 and prepared to interrogate their prisoner.

Hector Chavez scans Ms. Helen Gastmeyer’s plasma sword but finds no hidden transmitters. The onetime spy also searches possessions taken from her quarters, including trade documents, cred sticks, some tools, robes, and alien scriptures.

Dr. Srinu Pahul sedates Ms. Gastmeyer and scans for nanites (microscopic robots). At Hector’s recommendation, the doctor removes the businesswoman’s implanted phone.

Orion Starchaser dismantles the weapon of Velanna Loquieth, the Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) captain of the Unquith who killed herself rather than surrender to him. The Pomuyan mystic combines weapons to create an orange-bladed weapon.

Capt. Jasmine finds her former boyfriend Darcy, who had been on one of the ships that passed by Wolf 359. The Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” tiger) admits that while he needed space after their misadventures aboard the Gryphon, he didn’t realize that the frontier would be so dangerous.

Jasmine warns Darcy to stay away from Lt. Sebastian Growlick, her current leonine lover. Meanwhile, Chris McKee reminds his companions that the Zarkonians are mere weeks away from the Sol system. The sniper spends a few hours meditating.

crustacean aliens
Conjectural sketches of Zarkonians

Lt. Growlick later finds Jasmine, who requests that Darcy be reassigned to another ship in the Terran fleet. Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese asks pilot Lt. Brun Bearhammer and the acting commanders of the Pina Colada, Blackbird, Sovereign, and Crazy Horse to set course for Lalande 21185 in case the Wolf 359 base sends fighters in pursuit of the supposedly disgraced Dauntless.

Lt.Cmdr. Reese also orders that Gastmeyer be interrogated as soon as possible. Capt. Jasmine suggests that Orion be present to help protect against any psionic attacks.

Hector asks Orion if he knows what organizations or species would send assassins armed with plasma swords like his. The blue alien replies that the Pomuyans are a peaceful people, but like humans, Olvar, and others, there are always individuals and factions that are less benevolent.

Kevin dons the Chain Coif of Egg Shen and asks Orion to mentally dominate Helen, but he refuses. Dr. Pahul and robotic nurse MEGAN monitor the prisoner as Orion begins questioning her. Jasmine waits outside the brig, while Hector, Chris, Brun, and Sebastian listen in from the bridge.

Orion offers Helen some tea, and she asks what he wants most. Orion replies “freedom,” and the smiling woman says that she wants humanity to survive to pursue its destiny in the stars, even if that means choosing subjugation by the Zarkonians over resistance and annihilation.

Chris is reminded of the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., his and Srinu’s former employer. The former cyborg goes to the brig, even as Kevin loses patience with Helen and Orion’s philosophical discussion.

Hector remotely tells Orion to ask about the “Takers,” a rising faction among the Ru’ulok (heavy-gravity reptilian pirates) led by one Kraythor. Gastmeyer answers that the Zarkonians have found like-minded people in several systems.

Lt.Cmdr. Reese angrily orders everyone to leave so that he can question Ms. Gastmeyer alone, but Orion stubbornly refuses. Chris pulls the officer out of the room for a moment to cool off, and Hector goes in to reason with Orion. Burly Jasmine stands ready to prevent a brawl, which would be particularly bad in front of the prisoner.

Gastmeyer takes advantage of the group’s confusion to Mind Blast Hector, drawing Orion’s ire. Jasmine helps steady Hector, while Orion reluctantly forces a mental link with Helen.

The Pomuyan asks the human what she has lost. Helen says that all her loved ones were killed back on Earth, which she claims is “beyond saving.” Orion asks what she has gained, to which she says, “a connection,” implying that her ability to grant people’s desires comes from the Zarkonian Imperium.

Having broken her resistance, exhausted Orion leaves Helen to Kevin and company. Dr. Pahul tries to inject her with truth serum, but he finds that her biochemistry has been altered so that her blood would react and become toxic.

Even though Gastmeyer seems unconcerned about her own death, she mocks Lt.Cmdr. Reese’s determination to defend humanity and to try to turn back the armada. Kevin asks Helen about her family, which she says was killed in wars in Europe.

She also confesses that the artifacts stolen from the Vatican Museums were intended to be smuggled to the arachnid Nolath for safekeeping away from Earth and for use in appealing to other humans.

The zero-point munitions that the Gryphon had intercepted could have been used to obliterate entire megalopoli, adding to chaos and “thinning the herd” in advance of the alien invasion, Gastmeyer explains.

Wary Hector returns with anti-psi enhancements to his sunglasses. Kevin asks about the robes found in Helen’s quarters, and she says that she learned from the Olvar, even though Orion observes that she seemed more advanced than Capt. Loquieth.

Chris and Kevin asks about the Zarkonians’ plans for Earth and its colonies. Helen states that millennia ago, the armada was turned back by the first Kharvamid Alliance. A century or so ago (in Terran time), another foray into the Milky Way’s Orion Arm was cut short by internal disputes.

The Zarkonian Armada now intends to conquer rather than merely consume, Gastmeyer says, and it has forces such as the biomechanical Zurmiz Krott and allies such as the slug-like Encegulans. The Aquarian and Laransan systems have already fallen, Helen says, but she has not directly met a Zarkonian yet.

Chris points out to the others that Gastmeyer has admitted her involvement in various plots in the outer Sol system and that she should be turned over to U.S.N. authorities for further questioning. He warns that Cmdr. Hasdrubal Guitterez and Lt. Fenris Ironclaw are still threats, since Gastmeyer’s allies command the Wolf 359 outpost.

Lt.Cmdr. Reese and Capt. Jasmine confer with the other ships in the task force and consider requesting that the “Tigress” replace the understaffed Dauntless. First, “Terra’s Pride” must deal with Cmdr. Guitterez and return to the Sol system….

You’re close to closing this chapter of our adventures! Let me know if any of you are available for Star Trek: Into Darkness and a possible “Vortex” session on Saturday, May 18, since Byron will be visiting the Boston area this coming weekend.

While we didn’t play in the “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” fantasy campaign at Rich’s place last night, I’m glad that we got to chat with Josh about upcoming summer games. I also look forward to continuing in Jason E.R.’s “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” next Monday night. Be seeing you, -Gene

“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.32 — Assassination attempts

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.32 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 28 April 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/MindjammerBulldogs, and an online dice roller.

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

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

Crew of the refitted yacht Pina Colada:

  • Capt. Jasmine [Sara F., primary]-female Martian Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” tiger), former pit fighter and crew member of the Appomattox, now captain of the Pina Colada searching for a homeworld for her people
  • Hector Chavez [Beruk A., primary]-male Terran human, former spy and crew member on the Appomattox, cautious engineer and communications expert
  • Chris McKee/Agent Prometheus” [Josh C., primary]-male Terran human, former assassin for the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., sniper and seeker aboard the Blackbird and Pina Colada
  • Orion Starchaser [Geoff C., primary]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul [Byron V.O., primary ]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and confident planetary patriot; with robots MEGAN and PEPE
  • Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese [Bruce K., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and member of the Blackbird and Dauntless crews; defender of the homeworld
  • Chiron [Dexter V.H., primary/absent]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

Crew of the experimental scout ship Blackbird:

  • Lt. Sebastian Growlick [Bruce K., secondary]-male Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” lion), elite soldier and acting commander of the refitted Blackbird
  • Tela [Sara F., secondary]-female Tharian (gargoyle-like alien), escapee from the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), fond of humans; engineer with boyfriend Kedar and robot Dr. Bucket
  • Tariq Asrad Saladin [Beruk A., secondary]-male Terran “near-human” (mutant) wanderer with a past, investigator
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington III [Josh C., secondary]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance
  • Sgt. Nathan A. Jessup [Byron V.O., secondary]-male Terran human, gung-ho member of the North American Aerospace Marine Corps
  • Enkidu Aristheon [Dexter V.H., secondary/absent]-male Seranen (pale empathic humanoid alien) exile, wilderness survival expert curious about Terrans and the Zarkonian threat; with sphinx-like companion Glaucon

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

“1 to 3 August 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After rescuing two ships from a cloud-like energy entity that zombified their crews, the “Terra’s Pride” task force went to the Wolf 359 outpost to uncover a Zarkonian spy.

Posing as the disgraced acting commander of the Dauntless, Lt. Sebastian Growlick had gotten assurances from Cmdr. Hasdrubal Guitterez and the mysterious Ms. Helen Gastmeyer that mutinous officers would be taken care of. Sebastian and Capt. Jasmine, a.k.a. “Lt. Jessie,” stay in Gastmeyer’s luxury suite “for their own safety.”

Meanwhile, Lt. Brun Bearhammer and Jasmine’s former boyfriend Darcy slip from the Blackbird to the base’s mess hall. The Synths (“Uplifted” animals) drink and gamble with Lt. Mireille “Skeets” Rubio, a space marine, and Morgel Toph, the Cestolar (badger-like alien) engineer of courier ship Unquith. Pilot Chiron waits in his quarters back on thePina Colada.

On the Dauntless, Hector Chavez is disguised as “Lt. Mike Weston” and checks on the repairs conducted by engineers Lt. Han Lao Bing and Spc. Guntur Adi Raharjo. Dr. Srinu Pahul and Orion Starchaser go to sickbay as bait “Lt. Sridan Baatava” and “Dr. Phil Philips,” respectively.

Chris McKee, also known as “Agent Prometheus” and “Sgt. Frederick Morrison,” stays in the empty barracks to keep watch on Sridan and Phil, who had told Cmdr. Guitterez of their intention to testify at Lt. Growlick’s court martial.

Lt. Han broadcasts a warning that functions such as artificial gravity may be temporarily affected by ongoing repairs. As the lights flicker, Hector detects an intruder using a forward airlock. A red plasma sword ignites.

Female Sith
Evil plasma sword wielder

Orion draws his yellow plasma blade, and Srinu fires an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) gun. The would-be assassin taunts Orion for “picking the wrong side” and slashes his arm with her weapon.

Chris runs from the barracks to sickbay, while Hector makes his way to an auxiliary control station for the Dauntless. Pretending to be lovers, Sebastian and Jasmine find and cover surveillance devices in their room.

Pomuyan wanderer Orion manages to put up a psionic shield in time to block another blow from his Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) assailant. Dr. Pahul runs back to his robots MEGAN and PEPE and orders them to shoot.

Sniper Chris arrives and fires his blaster pistol, but Orion’s attacker twists out of the way. Orion telekinetically shoves the Olvar into a wall. Hector identifies her via cameras as Velanna Loquieth, captain of the Unquith.

Cautious Hector overrides compartment controls to lock Lt. Han and Spc. Raharjo in engineering. The “burned” operative also reduces their oxygen level and jams transmissions.

Over in the Terran outpost, Sebastian and Jasmine break down the door to Ms. Gastmeyer room and are confronted with another red plasma sword. Lt. Growlick is shaken by a mental blast, but Capt. Jasmine picks up a chair and steps forward.

Velanna uses cyrokinesis to hurl shards of ice at Orion, who levitates her. Chris destroys her stealth suit with a well-aimed shot, and Srinu fires a submachine gun into the hallway. The injured infiltrator still manages to dodge flechettes from MEGAN and PEPE.

Sebastian shoots at Ms. Gastmeyer with a blaster rifle, but she moves with inhuman agility. Jasmine has more luck with her chair, knocking the saber-wielder back. Helen cuts the furniture in two.

Velanna struggles to get free, but Orion telekinetically pins her legs. The alien blocks shots from the robots, but not bursts from Chris and Srinu. Orion tries to talk to the enemy mystic, but she impales herself rather than be captured.

Ms. Gastmeyer wounds Lt. Growlick and narrowly misses Jasmine. Hector calls his friends to tell them to try to keep her alive for questioning. Sebastian shoots, both to incapacitate and to distract, and Jasmine comes around and uses a wrestling move to knock out Helen.

Hector recommends an immediate and covert extraction as Jasmine ties up Ms. Gastmeyer. Dr. Pahul gives Sebastian advice on binding his wounds, even as he treats Orion. Chris goes to engineering to restrain the personnel sent byCmdr. Guitterez.

With assistance from nurse MEGAN, Dr. Pahul sets up containment in the sickbay and scans Velanna’s body for nanites (microscopic robots). He is relieved to find no trace of the Zurmiz Krott, the biomechanical probes of the approaching Zarkonian Armada. Orion helps with a telepathic scan and takes his fallen foe’s weapon.

“Lt. Weston” goes out to help Jasmine and Sebastian. Hector pages Brun and Darcy, who end their card game withSkeets and Morgel even as alarms are raised.

Brun notes that something is wrong with the station’s commanders, and he manages to persuade Skeets and her partner, Lt. Kamar “Buster” Olekunde, to take their time responding. They then run through the station.

Jasmine wraps Helen in a blanket, and Hector wonders if she’s another Olvar in disguise. Sebastian searches the suite and finds some tools, business documents, robes, alien writings, and cred sticks. He also takes her plasma blade.

Jasmine, Sebastian, Hector, and Helen head to the Dauntless . Combat droid Kurang shoves into Jasmine, but the Felinoid manages to rein in her temper. Hector uses sleight of hand to slip a stun device onto the robot, which experiences difficulty as they walk away.

Cmdr. Guitterez and security chief Lt. Fenris Ironclaw hail the Dauntless and ask it to stand down in light of alarms. Sebastian replies that some of his medical team has been attacked.

Once everybody is aboard, Lt. Bearhammer prepares the corvette for departure. Lt. Growlick joins him on the bridge and orders the ship to brace for breaking free of its moorings.

Hector restores ship systems and reviews surveillance recordings. Dr. Pahul sedates Ms. Gastmeyer and scans her financial documents. Jasmine has an awkward reunion with ex Darcy, especially in light of her recent activities with Sebastian.

Chris explains to Lt. Han and Spc. Raharjo that Cmdr. Guitterez has betrayed the Union of Solar Nations by working with Zarkonian agents Gastmeyer and Loquieth. Orion goes to his quarters to begin combining plasma weapons.

Lt. Olekunde and Lt. Rubio launch their Raptor-class fighters, but the Dauntless makes a Transit (faster-than-light) microjump to the far side of the star, where the Pina Colada, Blackbird, Sovereign, and Crazy Horse wait in orbit.

Lt. Growlick and company report to Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese and the rest of their homeworld security task force. They debate how to interrogate Ms. Gastmeyer, whether to return immediately to Earth, and what to do about Cmdr. Guitterez….

Good luck to “Terra’s Pride” as you figure out how to deal with the mounting threats! Remember that we won’t be playing this coming weekend because I’ll be busy with “Iron Man 3” and a Cinco de Mayo party. We’ll probably continue our adventures on Sunday, 12 May 2013, but note that it’s Mother’s Day. I’ve posted separately regarding our calendar.

In the meantime, I also look forward to Jason E.R.’s “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” planetary romance and my “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” fantasy campaign. Josh, I hope that your “Steam Wars” group is doing well. Be seeing you, -Gene

“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.31 — Wolves in the fold

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.31 of the Vortex” telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 14 April 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/MindjammerBulldogs, and an online dice roller.

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

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

Crew of the refitted yacht Pina Colada:

  • Capt. Jasmine [Sara F., primary ]-female Martian Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” tiger), former pit fighter and crewmember of the Appomattox, now captain of the Pina Colada searching for a homeworld for her people
  • Hector Chavez [Beruk A., primary/absent ]-male Terran human, former spy and crewmember on theAppomattox, cautious engineer and communications expert
  • Chris McKee /Agent Prometheus” [Josh C., primary]-male Terran human, former assassin for the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., sniper and seeker aboard the Blackbird and Pina Colada
  • Orion Starchaser [Geoff C., primary]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul [Byron V.O., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and confident planetary patriot; with robots MEGAN and PEPE
  • Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese [Bruce K., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and member of the Blackbird and Dauntless crews; defender of the homeworld
  • Chiron [Dexter V.H., primary/absent]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

Crew of the experimental scout ship Blackbird:

  • Lt. Sebastian Growlick [Bruce K., secondary]-male Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” lion), elite soldier and acting commander of the refitted Blackbird
  • Tela [Sara F., secondary]-female Tharian (gargoyle-like alien), escapee from the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), fond of humans; engineer with boyfriend Kedar and robot Dr. Bucket
  • Tariq Asrad Saladin [Beruk A., secondary/absent]-male Terran “near-human” (mutant) wanderer with a past, investigator
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington III [Josh C., secondary]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance
  • Sgt. Nathan A. Jessup [Byron V.O., secondary]-male Terran human, gung-ho member of the North American Aerospace Marine Corps
  • Enkidu Aristheon [Dexter V.H., secondary/absent]-male Seranen (pale empathic humanoid alien) exile, wilderness survival expert curious about Terrans and the Zarkonian threat; with sphinx-like companion Glaucon

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

“29 to 31 July 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” While on a routine patrol of space near Earth, the Dauntless and Sovereign had encountered a cloud-based entity that turned Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.) personnel into zombielike drones. “Terra’s Pride” found a way to lure the hive mind away and attended to the survivors, aided by theCrazy Horse.

Crew members from the Pina Colada and the Blackbird then helped devise a covert mission to the Terran outpost at Wolf 359 in the hope of flushing out a possible agent for the approaching Zarkonian Armada.

Lt. Sebastian Growlick plans to bring the Dauntless to the Wolf 359 station and say that Capt. Helena Cain died in action. The disgraced survivors will look for a deal that’s better than facing a court martial.

The leonine “Synth” is accompanied by Capt. Jasmine as security officer “Lt. Jessie,” Hector Chavez as “Lt. Mike Weston,” and Dr. Srinu Pahul as nurse “Lt. Sridan Baatava.” Orion poses as fellow Pomuyan “Dr. Phil Philips,” and “Agent Prometheus” and Chiron are also be aboard the crippled corvette.

While the rest of the homeworld security task force waits on the far side of Wolf 359, Chiron pilots the Dauntless to the U.S.N. base. The corvette is hailed by rookie communications officer Spc. Harvey Littwak, who dispatches two Raptor-class fighters to escort it.

Hotshot space marines Lt. Kamar “Buster” Olekunde and Lt. Mireille “Skeets” Rubio bring the Dauntless to dock and board it for an initial inspection. Most of the bridge crew disembarks, except for “Lt. Weston” and Chiron.

Lt. Growlick reports to the spit-and-polish Cmdr. Hasdrubal Guitterez, saying that Capt. Cain and most of the crew perished in their encounter with the cloud-based creature. “Lt. Jessie” compares notes with security chief Lt. Fenris Ironclaw, a fatalistic Canid “Synth” (“Uplifted” wolf). As “Sgt. Frederick Morrison,” Chris checks out the base’s weaponry.

“Dr. Philips” eagerly accepts Dr. Roberto Torkas’ offer to meet over drinks at the mess hall, but the alien wanderer is disappointed to find that it is small. “Lt. Baatava” goes along, both to assess the cheerful chief medical officer and to keep Orion from getting into trouble.

Cmdr. Guitterez orders overworked engineers Lt. Han Lao BingSpc. Guntur Adi Raharjo, and robot Cubbie to assist the Dauntless. Hector covertly monitors them and notes any problems with communications.

The base commander also invites Sebastian to dinner with some colleagues, including a few civilians. Srinu scares his companions by asking for a private meeting with Cmdr. Guitterez. Meanwhile, Jasmine bumps into a belligerent droid,Kurang, while walking around the station.

Dr. Torkas asks “Dr. Philips” for the bodies of those slain by the energy entity, but Orion explains that they’ve been disposed of because of fears of contamination. The alien mystic senses someone trying to conduct a telepathic sweep but is able to resist any mental probes.

Roberto introduces the newcomers to Lugh Astrophel, curious co-pilot of the Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alientrade ship Unquith. Lugh and Srinu become fast friends. The Olvar says that “Jessie” shouldn’t worry about Kurang, who is part of the crew of the Bloody Prince, a Jovian transport owned by Capt. Dino Neustadt.

Sebastian asks Jasmine to join him for dinner with the commander. Cmdr. Guitterez and Lt. Ironclaw introduce Lt. Growlick and “Lt. Jessie” to Capt. Velanna Loquieth of the UnqhithCapt. Neustadt, and Ms. Helen Gastmeyer, a traveling businesswoman. Hasdrubal excuses himself to meet with “Lt. Baatava.”

Srinu and Orion tell Cmdr. Guitterez that they believe Lt. Growlick is no longer fit for command, ordering the destruction of still-living crew members affected by the energy entity. “Sridan” and “Phil” say that they plan to testify against Sebastian at his court martial. The commander recommends that they keep their grievances quiet for now.

Sebastian tells Helen that he knows of her from his brother Castillian and Brother Nelvin, whom he met at the United Ecumencial Movement temples on Mars’ moon Phobos. He doesn’t say that “Terra’s Pride” uncovered Brother Nelvin as a Zarkonian cultist. Helen asks each person what they want most.

Hasdrubal rejoins his dinner companions and tells Sebastian of the potential mutiny. Helen offers Sebastian and “Jessie” power and the freedom to escape any dishonor, in return for unspecified allegiance. Cmdr. Guitterez warns Lt. Growlick to bring to the station any crew members he wants to avoid “any unfortunate accidents.”

Orion and Srinu eventually rejoin Hector and Chiron on the Dauntless. “Dr. Baatava” sets himself up as bait by making an appointment with Spc. Littwak for time on the long-range transmitter, giving the corrupt commander and Ms. Gastmeyer a deadline.

After dinner, Sebastian and Jasmine warn their companions to expect an attack. They bring “Freddie” and “Mike” back to the Wolf 359 base “for their own protection” and accept Helen’s offer of hospitality in her luxury module.

Chris sneaks back to the Dauntless to help protect Orion, Chiron, and Srinu, who orders robots MEGAN and PEPE to be alert. Later that night, Lt. Han Lao Bing announces that systems such as life support and artificial gravity will fluctuate as repairs continue.

Lights flicker on the Dauntless, and a would-be assassin floats in, igniting a red plasma sword….

It’s interesting to note that both the “Vortex” and “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” groups have taken a turn toward intrigue lately — good luck to both adventuring parties! Note that my campaigns won’t be meeting this coming weekend, because “Vortex” alumnus David I.S. will be visiting for the Boston Comic Con.

Josh, I hope that your “Steam Wars” telecom game goes well, and I look forward to Jason’s “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” resuming in two weeks. Take care, -Gene