“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

“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.30 — Rebuilding the fleet

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.30 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 7 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 ]-male Terran human, former spy and crewmember on theAppomattox, cautious engineer and communications expert
  • Chris McKee /Agent Prometheus” [Josh C., primary/absent ]-male Terran human, former assassin for the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., sniper and seeker aboard the Blackbird and Pina Colada
  • Orion Starchaser [Geoff C., primary/absent ]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • 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/absent ]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance
  • Lt. Brun Bearhammer [Geoff C., secondary/absent ]-male Martian Ursoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” bear), former wrestler, pilot
  • 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.

Ships in the Asteroid Belt
Terran space fleet

“25 to 28 July 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After luring an energy-based life form away from theDauntless, the Pina Colada and the Blackbird worked to revive the remaining crew members. Only a dozen people out of 80 survived the zombification.

Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese orders the Pina Colada to dock with the Dauntless, once the flagship of his homeworld security task force. He leads a third away team, which includes Dr. Srinu Pahul, Tariq Asrad Saladin, and Capt. Jasmine, with Sgt. Nathan A. Jessup in reserve.

Hector Chavez and Chris McKee wait on the yacht Pina Colada and coordinate with the Blackbird, while Orion Starchaser keeps a lookout for the hive-mind entity.

Lt.Cmdr. Reese returns to the brig and finds sometime lover Capt. Helena Cain still alive. Medics Tariq and Dr. Pahul set up the sickbay, which had been overrun by reanimated Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.) space navy crew.

Jasmine and Sgt. Jessup move bodies with help from robot nurse MEGAN. Mournful Kevin orders quick military funerals and asks Tela’s boyfriend Kedar and robot Dr. Bucket to come from the Blackbird to help restore the corvette’s systems.

Capt. Jasmine and Lt.Cmdr. Reese agree to send the Blackbird to respond to a distress call from the Sovereign , a U.S.N. frigate that encountered a similar strange cloud. Lt. Sebastian Growlick takes command, accompanied by Tela, Lt. Brun Bearhammer, Tariq, Orion, Lord Wallace Tubbington III, and Enkidu Aristheon.

Srinu, Kedar, MEGAN, and Dr. Bucket continue working on the Dauntless, while Kevin, Jasmine, Chris, Nate, and Chiron ready the Pina Colada to rendezvous with its sister ships near an outpost orbiting red dwarf Wolf 359.

On the way to the Sovereign, the Blackbird passes a rogue planet, a body without a star. Pilot Lt. Bearhammer brings the scout ship out of Transit (faster-than-light travel), and Tariq scans. The explorer finds a sphere about three meters in diameter similar to those previously encountered in the Sol system and at Oasis Station.

Telepaths Orion and Enkidu sense no consciousness, and engineer Tela reviews database entries about the Zurmiz Krott, also known as the “Harbingers of the Righteous Order of Submission.” The Tharian informs Lt. Growlick that the biomechanical probes of the Zarkonian Armada can emit nanites (microscopic robots), which could be spread if they use missiles.

Enkidu also notes that the Zurmiz Krott can induce mass cannibalistic insanity and absorb energy. Tela devises a modified electromagnetic pulse (EMP), and Brun blasts it. Sebastian is pleased to confirm a bull’s-eye and notes it in the ship’s log.

Capt. Aveeshi Stormsea of the Sovereign is relieved to hail the Blackbird. Brun maneuvers, and Orion and Enkidu draw the energy entity away with help from a psionic amplification crystal. The Blackbird returns, and Sebastian sends Tariq and Enkidu to help the Aquarian (amphibious humanoid alien) with his crew.

Another U.S.N. frigate arrives, and Lt. Growlick is wary of the Crazy Horse’s offer of assistance. Capt. Dirk Hatchexplains that the task force separated to patrol a larger volume of space after stopping at Wolf 359 several days ago. He sends over more personnel to help get the Sovereign under way.

As per Lt.Cmdr. Reese’s recommendation, the five ships meet on the far side of Wolf 359 from the Terran outpost in orbit. The Crazy Horse also contributes to the skeleton crew aboard the Dauntless, as the Sovereign recovers. Kevin visits Helena in sickbay and tells her about the casualties.

Homeworld security ships
A Terran task force

Lt.Cmdr. Reese and Capt. Jasmine invite the other captains over to the Pina Colada while their companions aboard the Blackbird teleconference in. “Nylca of Clan Firehoff” [Brian W./Non-Player Character], a Gustrall (antlered, orange-furred, flightless avian alien) weapons officer, sits in for Capt. Cain.

Capt. Stormsea brings Sgt. George Watkins, chief security officer of the Sovereign, and Capt. Hatch brings Dr. Hugh Goldman, chief medical officer of the Crazy Horse. Dr. Pahul, Lt. Growlick, Sgt. Jessup, Orion, and Lt. Bearhammer are also present.

Kevin explains that, while he’d like to bring the task force back to Earth, it must first deal with Ms. Helen Gastmeyer, who may be working with Zarkonian zealots. Hector notes that the mysterious woman is affiliated with megacorporations, and she may be influencing or have control over the U.S.N. base commanders at Wolf 359.

Orion recalls that Brother Nelvin was revealed to be a Zarkonian agent on Mars’ moon Phobos. Sebastian’s brother Castillian had mentioned that Ms. Gastmeyer recommended that their clan develop ties with the government and the United Ecumenical Movement.

Capt. Jasmine is reluctant to risk anybody with the Dauntless understaffed, but Lt.Cmdr. Reese notes that time is of the essence with the Zarkonian Armada approaching Earth. He proposes asking her about ancient artifacts such as the Vatican relics they recently redirected.

Nylca prefers to go in aggressively, but Jasmine wants to limit casualties among bystanders on the base. Hector recommends sending Lt. Growlick because of his brother’s connections. Capt. Hatch is unsure of the plan, but Dr. Pahul reassures him that reconnaissance is more likely to be productive than arriving in force.

The commanders eventually approve a covert mission: Sebastian will bring the Dauntless to the Wolf 359 outpost and say that its captain was killed. The apparently disgraced officer and his small crew will look for a better deal than returning to Earth.

Lt. Growlick will be accompanied by Srinu as “Lt. Sridan Baatava,” Hector as “Lt. Mike Weston,” and Jasmine as security officer “Jessie.” Orion will pose as fellow Pomuyan “Dr. Phil Philips,” and “Agent Prometheus” and Chiron will also be aboard the crippled ship.

The rest of “Terra’s Pride” will wait on the Pina Colada, with the Blackbird, Sovereign, and Crazy Horse in reserve. Hector and Dr. Pahul prepare false records for the crew as they prepare to investigate Ms. Gastmeyer….

Dexter, Josh, and Geoff, I hope that you’ll be able to rejoin us for this coming Sunday’s “Vortex” session, and good luck preparing for your latest op!

Also, note that the “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” fantasy campaign will continue at Brian W.‘s place next Monday, but there won’t be any games the following week because Jason E.R. won’t be available to run his “Barsoomian Adventures” game, and I’ll be hosting David I.S. Be seeing you, -Gene

“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.29 — Medical mission and the cloud

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.29 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 24 March 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/absent]-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/absent]-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.

“22 to 24 July 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” The soldiers aboard the Blackbird had tracked the Dauntlessfrom Wolf 359 and found its crew incapacitated but mysteriously reanimated.

Tela and Kedar are reminded of experiments conducted by the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), and Chris McKee keeps the scout ship’s guns at the ready, even though others have explained that the corvette is too valuable to Earth’s defense to scuttle.

Sgt. Nathan A. Jessup prepares explosives and watches the body of Spc. Donar Kievich, whose body had retrieved by robot Dr. Bucket. Fellow space marine Lt. Brun Bearhammer waits at the helm for reinforcements.

Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese sends a message to the Pina Colada urgently requesting backup, as well as a warning to the Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.) fleet command.

Tariq Asrad Saladin studies medical and personal logs from the Dauntless, part of Kevin’s homeworld security task force. Empath Enkidu Aristheon senses a presence but no intelligence from the drifting ship.

Over on the Pina Colada, Capt. Jasmine orders an away team to prepare to board the Dauntless, even though Lt.Cmdr. Reese recommends against it. Orion Starchaser asserts that only a close inspection can determine the nature and cause of the zombie-like crew.

Lord Wallace Tubbington III grabs a shotgun and his newly forged katana (in the Scabbard of Musashi). Dr. Srinu Pahul also wants to examine Donar’s body and review the records that Tariq has culled.

Hector Chavez makes sure that everyone is wearing space suits and programs more scans, and pilot Chiron is curious about the energy readings from a strange cloud the Dauntless encountered before its crew was affected.

Beta Renner cloud
Cloud emitting strange energy

Lt. Sebastian Growlick looks forward to eventually returning to the Blackbird with Lord Tubbington, since they had swapped places with Chris and Kevin. On the other hand, the duo from the Pina Colada is comfortable surrounded by fellow soldiers.

The refitted yacht comes out of Transit (faster-than-light travel) and receives reports from the Blackbird. Capt. Jasmine, Orion, and Lord Tubbington head over to the Dauntless, leaving Hector, Chiron, and Lt. Growlick behind on the Pina Colada.

Dr. Pahul goes to the Blackbird ‘s laboratory, where he confers with Tariq. Lt.Cmdr. Reese sends Sgt. Jessup and Mr. McKee over to the Dauntless to escort the away team. Nate and Chris wager some of Srinu’s whiskey on what trouble the civilians will get into.

The sergeant and sniper use grenades to clear a path to the forward turbolifts for the explorers. Jasmine leads the way to the bridge of the Dauntless, and Wallace draws his katana against Undead.

Orion, however, asks that no crew be destroyed unless necessary for self-defense, since he senses something when any are blown up. From the Pina Colada, Hector reactivates internal surveillance and basic systems.

Brave Jasmine, Orion, and Wallace climb down two decks, leaving armored Nate and Chris at amidships. The trio heads aft to the fighter hangar and is briefly startled when a decaying crewmember slams up against a porthole.

Blue-furred Orion closes his eyes and telepathically contacts the reanimated astronauts on the other side of the hatch. The Pomuyan mystic likens the experience to being in a house with the lights on but nobody home. There is mental activity but no sentience. Orion reaches out and finds the body linked to others in a hive mind.

Meanwhile, Jasmine maintains radio contact with the marines on the upper deck, as well as with the Pina Colada andBlackbird floating near the Dauntless. Wallace again draws his katana as six rotting marines break through a hatch and approach from the rear.

Wary Tariq had looked for a “Patient Zero” or a central, directing intellect. Dr. Pahul finds elevated neurochemicals in the Kievich’s corpse, confirming how the bodies were reanimated and thus not prone to many conventional attacks. The sparks that Chris saw when he blasted a hole through an officer’s chest were a biochemical side effect rather than cybernetics.

More space zombies press in on the away team, and tiger woman Jasmine calls for a retreat. Swashbuckling Wallace easily cleaves his opponents, and Orion reluctantly pushes some back with telekinesis. He tells Srinu that he senses an inhuman hunger and tries to convey a “non-prey” feeling.

Chris and Nate begin climbing the port turbolift shaft ahead of the others, but they find more grasping hands at the elevator door. Chris tosses up a grenade, blasting four more foes. Mighty Jasmine shoves the hungry horde out of her way, and Wallace continues hacking away at the rear.

Jasmine successfully leads the group back to the Pina Colada. Hector passes along an incoming transmission from theSovereign, another ship from Lt.Cmdr. Reese’s task force that recently went missing.

Capt. Aveeshi Stormsea, an Aquarian (amphibious humanoid alien) reports that the Sovereign has found a cloud emitting strange energy similar to the one that Capt. Helena Cain encountered. Kevin sends a warning not to engage and begins planning a rendezvous.

However, Chiron notes that “Terra’s Pride” must first deal with the zombies on the Dauntless. Dr. Pahul hypothesizes that the reanimated crew members are acting in a decentralized manner similar to the nervous system of a Terran jellyfish.

Srinu and Tariq test reactions to the entire electromagnetic spectrum, but Orion and Enkidu observe that a psychic projection could help free the 50 remaining U.S.N. personnel. Capt. Jasmine and Lt.Cmdr. Reese approve their plan.

With help from amplification crystals, Orion and Enkidu project psionic energy in front of the Blackbird as it moves away from the Dauntless. On the way, Brun expertly scoops up the Dragonfly drop ship and lures the energy entity into deep space.

The Pina Colada nudges the Dauntless in the opposite direction, and Hector observes the crew falling to the floor. Robots MEGAN and PEPE assist Dr. Pahul and Tariq with medical supplies as they prepare to head back to look for revivable crew.

Lt. Bearhammer outmaneuvers the cloud and marks its position for future reference. “Terra’s Pride” regroups, and Kevin recommends that one ship be sent to rescue the Sovereign….

Dexter, Beruk, and Bruce, we missed you this past weekend! Please note that we won’t be meeting virtually this coming Sunday because of Easter.

I expect “Vortex” to resume the following weekend. In the meantime, I enjoyed the latest “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” fantasy session (I’ll write an update for it soon), and I look forward to rejoining Jason E.R.’s “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” planetary romance game next Monday.

In the meantime, I hope that everyone’s spring holidays are fun, and stay in touch, -Gene

“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.28 — The “Dauntless” adrift

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.28 of the “Vortex” telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 17 March 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?

Vortex” Team 5c (3) Player Character rosters: Crew of the refitted 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
  • 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
  • Lt. Brun Bearhammer” [Geoff C., secondary]-male Martian Ursoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” bear), former wrestler, pilot
  • 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

Crew of the 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]-male Terran human, former spy and crewmember on the Appomattox, cautious engineer and communications expert
  • Chris McKee /Agent Prometheus” [Josh C., primary]-male Terran human, former assassin for the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., sniper and seeker aboard the Blackbird and Pina Colada
  • Orion Starchaser” [Geoff C., primary]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and 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

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

“19 to 21 July 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After the Pina Colada delivered items stolen from the Vatican Museums to the United Ecumenical Movement near Mars, the Blackbird turned over some of the smuggled cargo to the Ilokar, flagship of a Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.) battle group in the Asteroid Belt.

Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese learned that the Dauntless, Crazy Horse, and Sovereign, three ships in his homeworld security task force, had gone missing in the vicinity of Wolf 359. “Terra’s Pride” sets out to investigate.

Lt.Cmdr. Reese, who has swapped ships with Lt. Sebastian Growlick, explains the search and retrieval mission to the crew of the Blackbird. Also in the cockpit, pilot Lt. Brun Bearhammer becomes more accustomed to his symbiotic link to the experimental scout ship.

Tela keeps busy with robotic assistant Dr. Bucket and boyfriend Kedar in engineering. Tariq Asrad Saladin and Enkidu Aristheon check medical and survival supplies. They also review Dr. Srinu Pahul’s notes on the Zurmiz Krott, biomechanical probes of the approaching Zarkonian Armada.

Chris McKee, who has temporarily changed places with Lord Wallace Tubbington III on the refitted yacht Pina Colada, joins Sgt. Nathan A. Jessup in readying armored space suits and weapons.

The Blackbird approaches Wolf 359, a red dwarf star with no inhabitable planets. Capt. Evander Scofield of theKorelev had told Kevin that the Dauntless was last seen near that system. Lt.Cmdr. Reese acknowledges Cmdr. Guillermo Ortiz at the U.S.N. orbital outpost but decides against visiting it.

Tela uses the Blackbird’s scanners to detect traces of the Dauntless leading away from Wolf 359. Lt. Bearhammer and Dr. Bucket lay in a course to intercept. Mr. McKee asks about trying to hail the missing corvette, but Kevin decides against long-distance attempts at communication.

Worlds-weary Tariq begins research into the Blackbird’s level of sentience, and Brun expertly drops the ship out of Transit (faster-than-light travel) and maneuvers behind the Dauntless. Enkidu attends to his animal companion Glaucon.

Bold Kevin hails the sister ship, but there is only an automated reply. Tela’s optimism is dashed when she detects no life signs and minimal life support. Cautious Chris borrows an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) gun from Tela, and Tariq grabs the Bow of Indra. Nate and Kevin ready concussion grenades and the chain Coif of Egg Shen.

Brun docks the Blackbird to the Dauntless at an amidship airlock. Lt.Cmdr. Reese leads the away team of Sgt. Jessup, Mr. McKee, and Mr. Saladin, leaving Lt. Bearhammer, Tela, Enkidu, Kedar, and Dr. Bucket to monitor their progress.

The squad passes through an airlock and finds empty barracks. Tariq detects cold air but recommends against opening helmets and risking exposure to unknown pathogens. Chris and Nate look for signs of battle or Zurmiz Krott but find none.

The explorers pass through a long corridor leading toward the bridge. Brun scans for hostile nanites (microscopic robots) and for any approaching vessels. Tela and Enkidu tap into the corvette’s systems and reactivate its lights and artificial gravity.

Space marines Nate and Chris use manual overrides to open the hatch to the bridge, which is similarly empty. They do notice that some of the control panels appear to have been smashed by human fists. Kevin views the logs of Capt. Helena Cain, a former colleague who appears increasingly disheveled.

Capt. Cain says that some of her crew has begun acting strangely and that she had tried confining people to their quarters. A later entry shows communications officer Lt. Harry Takahari Jr., who says that the captain had gone down to engineering to try to maintain control.

The last log entry is by Delphine (“Uplifted” cetacean) astrogator Lt. Wynona Smoketrail, who had once raced Aughest-vor. She says that most of the crew is incapacitated or worse and that the ship should be quarantined. Kevin swears.

The away team’s investigations are interrupted when Brun notices a person in a space suit drifting alongside theDauntless. Tariq volunteers to retrieve him, but Kevin and Nate are reluctant to let their only medic go.

Tela asks cheerful Dr. Bucket to bring the astronaut to the Marauder-class ship rather than the Blackbird for further study. In the meantime, Tariq goes to another compartment to manually remove the flight recorder (a.k.a. “black box”).

With remote help from Brun, Nate and Chris check gunnery records. They find that beam weapons were fired into a gas cloud, to no apparent effect. Lt.Cmdr. Reese takes Sgt. Jessup and Mr. McKee to check out the lower decks while Tariq examines the flight recorder and waits for Dr. Bucket.

Tela detects movement, despite the absence of heat signatures. Kevin asks her to reactivate internal cameras, and he recognizes Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) science officer Dr. Mulan Neverland, Lt. Jamie Segars, and four other crew members sitting in the brig.

After a moment’s hesitation, Kevin opens the door to the brig, flanked by Chris and Nate, who have drawn weapons. The Dauntless officers wear blank expressions and step forward in unison.

Undead space marine
Boo!

Kevin tries to close the door, but the zombiefied crew is upon him. Chris fires the EMP gun, causing one person to move spasmodically. Nate fires his laser pistol, as Kevin backs away.

The insensate mob claws at Chris’ space suit, and the sniper switches to a Ru’ulok (heavy-gravity reptilian alien) disruptor. He burns a hole in an undead astronaut with a laser, but that barely slows it down, as sparks course through its chest.

Nate pulls out titanium rods and applies his martial arts training for close combat, knocking down a crewman. Kevin unleashes a devastating barrage with his gyroc pistol, blasting the leg off another, which continues crawling forward.

The Terran trio falls back toward the turbolift. Dr. Bucket is attacked by the person in the space suit, so Tela orders him back to the Blackbird. Brun sees the launch bay of the Dauntless opening and warns the away team. Tela manages to reverse bay doors. Tariq grabs the black box and heads to the forward airlock near the bridge.

After Chris and Kevin are pummeled by more zombies, Nate covers their retreat, dislocating the limbs of his opponents. Kevin asks Tela to open all airlocks to evacuate the ship, but the cold and vacuum don’t slow down the reanimated crew.

Mystic Tariq happens to be at the right place, at the right time and manages to saunter past two spacemen and one crippled cyborg unnoticed.

Tharian Tela detects more motion from sickbay and the lower decks, as sailors, pilots, and marines try to get to the away team. Dr. Philips, a Pomuyan or blue alien telepath of the same species as Orion Starchaser, is among them.

Brun sees crew crowded by the Dauntless ’ portholes and sends a message to the Pina Colada asking Capt. Jasmine to hurry and catch up. Tela checks in with Lt.Cmdr. Reese via intercom, as the sounds of bodies slamming into hatches echo through the ship.

Humans Kevin, Nate, and Chris get into a turbolift, but it gets stuck halfway to the bridge. Tela diagnoses the problem and says it’s mechanical rather than electrical. As a shambling horde approaches from below, Lt.Cmdr. Reese and Sgt. Jessup throw concussion grenades. They and Mr. Reese then begin climbing.

Ursoid Brun would rather wade into battle, but he undocks and brings the Blackbird around to the Dauntless’ forward airlock. Tariq agrees that evacuation is a higher priority than getting organic samples.

Tela manages to get the turbolift unstuck, and Kevin, Nate, and Chris evade grasping hands and rejoin Tariq. With a mighty shout, Nate breaks a zombie’s neck before reboarding the Blackbird, which immediately disengages.

Tariq asks Brun to come around so that they can retrieve Dr. Bucket’s space-suited former foe. Kevin asks Tela to reseal all airlocks on the Dauntless to prevent any spread of infection. Brun also deactivates the ship’s flight controls, in case any of the crew are somehow still able to pilot it.

Kedar [+2 Computers] double-checks the Blackbird’s systems, while Dr. Bucket analyzes the flight recorder that Tariq retrieved. The crewman in the space suit is Specialist Donar Kievich. Tariq examines him in a sealed-off chamber and concludes that he isn’t infected by Zurmiz Krott nanites. Unfortunately, Kievich can’t be revived.

The so-called black box reveals that the outbreak happened shortly after the Dauntless parted ways with the Crazy Horse and Sovereign, so they may not be affected. The corvette did encounter a cloud with strange energy readings, and Lt.Cmdr. Reese sends a warning back to Earth.

Tariq and Tela analyze Dr. Philips’ journal in the hope of finding a clue or countermeasure. Chris suggests that the ship be scuttled, but Kevin notes that it’s too important to the defense of the Sol system and that they should wait for the scientists aboard the Pina Colada….

I’m sorry that I missed Jason E.R.’s “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” planetary romance game again last night — how did it go? Weather permitting, I look forward to resuming the “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” fantasy campaign next Monday. Later, -Gene

“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.27 — Fleet reports

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.27 of the “Vortex” telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 10 March 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?

“Vortex” Team 5c (3) Player Character rosters: Crew of the refitted experimental scout shipBlackbird:

  • 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
  • Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A., secondary/absent]-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
  • Brun” [Geoff C., secondary]-male Martian Ursoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” bear), former wrestler, pilot
  • 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]-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 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 ]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

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

Ships in the Asteroid Belt
Terran space fleet

“15 to 18 July 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” The Pina Colada delivered part of a smuggled cargo of artifacts from the Vatican Museums to the United Ecumenical Movement’s temples on Phobos. Its crew also uncovered a cultist for the approaching Zarkonian Armada.

Meanwhile, the Blackbird returns to the Asteroid Belt to report to the Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.). Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese is happy to settle back into the captain’s seat, and Chris McKee resumes his post as gunner, having swapped ships with Lt. Sebastian Growlick and Lord Wallace Tubbington III, respectively.

Lt. Brun Bearhammer pilots the Blackbird from a disused Black Box Security Co. safe house to Ceres Station. Tela and astromech assistant Dr. Bucket notice that passing tugs have been outfitted with weaponry.

Sgt. Nathan A. Jessup wants to ensure a safe transfer of the Vatican relics, and Enkidu Aristheon is curious about the human colonies. Tariq Asrad Saladin keeps busy cataloging the artifacts. Hector Chavez sends a message from thePina Colada warning to watch out for compromised recipients.

Col. Shan Gray, Lt.Cmdr. Reese’s superior officer in the Interplanetary Patrol, personally greets members of “Terra’s Pride” in a landing bay. He assigns eight space marines to escort the cargo and crew to a secure level. Tariq, Dr. Bucket, and Enkidu’s gryphon-like companion Glaucon initially stay with the Blackbird.

Kevin pilots the Tiger Hawk Sandstorm, a modular ground-effect vehicle, and Tela, Chris, and Brun ride along with the cargo. Nate and Enkidu walk with the marines, warily watching the station’s inhabitants because several other parties are still hunting for the treasure.

Seranen empath Enkidu senses surprise at extraterrestrials such as himself and Tharian Tela being escorted by so many soldiers in urban battle dress, but no hostility.

In a research facility deep in the honeycombed asteroid, Lt.Cmdr. Reese turns over the last containers to Dr. Brett Carson. The explorer explains that the ancient items could be helpful in defending the Sol system against the Zarkonians.

While Kevin and Nate brief fellow U.S.N. personnel, Tela goes to look for Ceres Station’s main engineering section. Brun, Chris, and Enkidu accompany her. They find a massive amount of activity, as microfusion generators are installed, structural reinforcements are made, and khaki-clad workers scurry about. Some components bear megacorporate logos.

Tela talks with Lt. Hedy, a “Synth” (artificial intelligence/gynoid) engineer. Lt. Hedy cheerfully confirms Tela’s theory that the asteroid is being turned into a vessel capable of Transit (faster-than-light travel). Brun is bored, and Chris doesn’t like robots, so they leave as the engineers continue their discussion.

Enkidu returns to the Blackbird and rides Glaucon into the station, turning heads on their way to get exercise in a hydroponic garden tier. Brun goes to the “Sloppy Seconds” bar and finds a brawl in progress.

Chris inquires about former buddies and finds fellow sniper Sgt. Jane Walthrop at a firing range. They try out new guns and reminisce about service at Fort Olympus Mons on Mars.

At Col. Gray’s office, Lt.Cmdr. Reese and Sgt. Jessup get a friendlier private reception. As usual, the colonel asks the formerly burned-out space cop how he’s feeling, and Kevin says that he is happy to have found a purpose.

Shan explains that the Korelev, part of Kevin’s homeworld security task force, has recently docked with the U.S.N. battleship Ilokar [named after the Zarendo god of war]. Gustrall (orange-furred, antlered, flightless avian alien) Capt. “Evander Scofield” has reported to Adm. Jaques Pons that the Dauntless, flagship of the task force, is missing.

Back at the “Sloppy Seconds,” Brun bellows for the fighting to stop. Most of the drunken patrons cease their fisticuffs, but a few in the back keep going. The Ursoid shoves his way through the crowd and slams a Felinoid (“Uplifted” tiger) into a table. Brun then asks Darcy, Jasmine’s ex-boyfriend, to play cards. The furry duo exchange more grunts than words thereafter.

Tela helps Lt. Hedy improve the efficiency of Ceres Station’s new systems, which are Terran models based on Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) and Ru’ulok (heavy-gravity, reptilian alien) designs. The android states that the asteroid is a test bed for the new technologies.

Chris and Jane go to Murphy’s Pub, while Kevin and Nate eventually join Brun on Deck 3, Room 32C. Chris then gives Jane a private tour of the experimental scout ship Blackbird. While Lt.Cmdr. Reese would also like female companionship, he and Sgt. Jessup have to report to the Ilokar. They grab a few bottles of whiskey as consolation.

Lt. Bearhammer and Darcy go bar-hopping, and Enkidu stays in radio contact with Tariq. Kevin and Nate take the Dragonfly drop ship over to the Ilokar battle group. Capt. Scofield [Josh/Non-Player Character] explains that the task force was spread thin over a large area of interstellar space when the Dauntless, Crazy Horse, and Sovereign failed to check in.

Evander provides the ships’ last known position and volunteers to help find them and “destroy the perpetrators,” but Kevin decides not to ask Adm. Pons to have the Korolev join the Blackbird. Nate suspects the Zurmiz Krott, biomechanical advance probes of the armada.

The admiral does say that support is available from Terran bases in the nearby systems of Alpha Centauri, Epsilon Eridani, and Wolf 359. He also gives the officers alarming top-secret information: The Zarkonian Armada, once believed to be far from Earth, is now less than two months away.

The U.S.N. and Kharvamid Alliance are rushing to outfit as many vessels and habitats as possible with Transit capability, but escalating conflicts in the Inner Solar System have forced them to refocus their efforts. Ma’ari Talari (alien ark ships) are also on their way, and the Trinoids (trilateral amphibians) and Nethians (insectoid engineers) have provided advisers.

Kevin asks for his sister in law Jennifer and her boyfriend Capt. Nick Cheney (whom he suspects of murdering his wife Heather) to be evacuated from New Shanghai on Mars. Nate requests that his clan of miners also be moved if possible.

Adm. Pons asks Lt.Cmdr. Reese to report back to high command upon successful completion of his mission to find the Dauntless, Crazy Horse, and Sovereign because his task force will be needed to help scout out evacuation routes and destinations.

However, as Kevin calls “Terra’s Pride” to regroup, he tells his companions that they should try to find a way to slow or injure the approaching armada. Lt.Cmdr. Reese asks Capt. Jasmine and the Pina Colada to catch up to theBlackbird as it searches for the Dauntless in deep space….

Next time, on “Vortex: Terra’s Pride:” A space-suited away team waves rifles and flashlights through an apparently vacant ship. “There are no life signs, sir, but we’re getting movement….”

Dexter, I hope that you had a Happy Birthday, and Beruk, we missed “Tariq.” Geoff, please direct your friend who’s interested in our campaign to the Obsidian Portal site and have him contact me directly.

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing some of you at tonight’s “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” fantasy game, and remember that I’ll probably be missing Jason E.R.’s next “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” planetary romance session. Take it easy, -Gene