“Star Trek: Restoration” Episode 2 — Driving the wedge

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for our second Star Trek session, which I hosted in Waltham, Mass., during Byron V.O.’s visit on Saturday, 28 June 2014:

“Space, the final frontier. Our starship’s mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life forms and new civilizations, and to boldly go where no one has gone before.”

Almost four decades after the Enterprise-E fought the Borg and Remans [Nemesis], among others, the United Federation of Planets (U.F.P.) and other interstellar states in the Alpha Quadrant are slowly recovering from wars and ecological disasters. A refitted vessel takes a new crew on its first missions of defense, diplomacy, and exploration….

Player Characters for Gene D.’s “Star Trek: Restoration” space opera scenario, using D20 Prime DirectiveFATE 3e Starblazer Adventures, Mindjammer 2e, Bulldogs, and house rules, summer 2014:

  • “Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Kyerak” [Bruce K.]-half-Vulcan with a temper, in the U.S.S. Rotha’s command division
  • “Lt. Orzzek Kalifa” [Byron V.O.]-male Andorian (blue-skinned humanoid with white hair and antennae), assertive science officer
  • “Froot” [Rich C.G.]-male Ferengi (short, large-eared extraterrestrial) merchant and negotiator, DaiMon and owner of the trade vessel Love’s Latinum Lost
  • “Kimbal Tegan” [Beruk A.]-male Trill (long-lived symbiont), operations specialist aboard the Love’s Latinum Lost
  • “Lt. Jarric Jameson” [Dexter V.H./absent]-male genetically modified human colonist (former Maquis) communications and wilderness survival expert aboard the Rotha
  • “Lt. Mari Killu” [Sara F./absent]-female Caitian (felinoid) security/tactical officer
  • “Lt. Boran’ Gorir” [Josh C./absent]-male Jem’Hadar (bio-engineered Dominion soldier), aggressive envoy/engineer

Previously, in “Star Trek: Restoration,” the U.S.S. Rotha was assigned to bring representatives of the Klingon Empire home through the Neutral Zone. However, several crew members were murdered, and junior officers were forced to subdue a Gorn and an Orion. In addition, the junior officers uncovered an Undine disguised with a holo-emitter.

“Stardate 95248.01 (2 April 2418):” Two Valdore -class Romulan warbirds decloak, and Capt. Andelina Nobatu brings the U.S.S.Rotha to yellow alert. Lt. Kyerak and Lt. Orzzek Kalifa race to the bridge. The Vulcan takes the helm from En. Brandon Marks, and the Andorian sits at an auxiliary science station to process scan results for Edosian Lt. K’dex.

The rest of the Rotha ‘s 900 Starfleet personnel ready for battle. Lt. Jarrick Jameson and Lt. Mari Killu prepare to repel potential boarders, and Lt. Boran’ Gorir diverts energy to shields. Tensions are high as Subcommander Vurik of the Varguille demands that Capt. Nobatu hand over the Klingon emissaries, the Orion D’naar and the Gorn “Hands of Giblets.”

The Terran human captain successfully asks for some time and has a quick conference with her bridge crew. Kyerak recommends patience, impressing first officer Cmdr. Nasami Wahid.

Kalifa notes that Romulan cloaking technology has continued to advance in reaction to Federation sensors, but he believes he can compensate when acquiring targets for photon torpedoes.

The meeting is interrupted when another vessel drops out of warp. A small Ferengi trader hails the assembled ships. DaiMon Froot quickly assesses the standoff and offers the Love’s Latinum Lost as a neutral meeting place for negotiations.

Despite the Ferengi’s insulting tone, Capt. Nobatu and Subcommander Vurik agree to send representatives. On the way to a transporter room, Lt. Kyerak stops by the “Starlight Lounge” to pick up some Andorian ale from Bolian bartender Mr. Vallcin. Lt. Kalifa asks holographic chief medical officer “Dr. Jones” for autopsy results on the Undine.

DaiMon Froot offers beetle snuff to Kyerak upon his arrival and introduces his colleague, Kimbal Tegan, a laid-back Trill. Kalifa is skeptical of the newcomers’ claim that they just happened to be passing through the Neutral Zone.

Subcommander Miral Gaius and Lt. Koval Solius beam over from the Romulan warbirds. They claim that the U.F.P. has been working with Klingon spies to further undermine the Rihannsu Empire.

Froot notes that according to the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, “Peace is good for business, but war is even better.” Still, he manages to keep the Starfleet and Romulan delegates from coming to blows.

Mr. Kyerak manages to shrug off Lt. Solius’ insults about his half-Vulcan heritage and explains that the Rotha was indeed bringing passengers to Q’onos, but an incident with a would-be assassin led to the Orion and Gorn being wounded and placed in protective custody.

Subcommander Gaius offers to escort the Federation starship through the Neutral Zone. Confident Lt. Kalifa begins devising a plan to distract and outmaneuver the grim Romulans. Tegan notes that traveling together presents opportunities for all.

Capt. Nobatu and Subcommander Vurik cautiously concur, and the four ships head toward Klingon space. Froot gives Kyerak and Kalifa a Tribble, and Tegan celebrates and irritates by hacking into subspace channels and broadcasting old Earth music.

Back on the Rotha, Lt. Kalifa gives the Tribble to Lt. K’dex to put into stasis. Lt. Kyerak asks Cmdr. Wahid and chief of security Pierre McDonnough for permission to interrogate the prisoners, but they warn him to avoid unnecessary force.

Kyerak brings Lt. Artemis Borellis, a Betazed counselor, to the brig. He and Orzzek question green-skinned D’naar and reptilian Hands of Giblets separately. The Orion pirate claims ignorance and is not intimidated by the Starfleet officers.

The Gorn, however, admits that the Klingons and Romulans have been working together on a stealth weapon, possibly the Undine itself. Lt. Borellis observes that it’s possible the delegation included the Undine as a spy without the full awareness of even the Klingons.

The officers report to the captain, who agrees that driving a wedge between the two Federation foes is better than allowing them to collaborate with the Undine. Lt. Kalifa asks Froot if it would be possible for the Love’s Latinum Lost to broadcast an Undine bio signal to the Klingons and say that the Romulans have somehow lost control of their mission.

There is an awkward moment when Cmdr. Wahid recognizes fellow Trill Tegan from a past life. After some discussion, the Ferengi trader and Starfleet crew devise another plan. As they and the Romulans approach Camp Khitomer, Vor’cha-class battle cruisers decloak.

Capt. Nobatu tells Cmdr. Korral that a routine scan detected the Undine, who was then killed. She tells the Klingon commander that D’naar and Hands of Giblets had sent a message to unknown recipients before they were incarcerated.

DaiMon Froot jumps in to say that the Love’s Latinum Lost intercepted a message between the Romulans and the Cardassian Union. Already incensed over the failure of the diplomatic mission, Korral berates Subcommander Vurik for the perceived betrayal.

The Klingon cruisers begin firing on the Romulan ships, and theRotha takes advantage of the skirmish to make evasive maneuvers and head back toward Federation space. It takes only light damage. Engineer Lt.Cmdr. Akira Gorou extends the refitted Ambassador-class Rotha’s warp bubble and shields to bring theLove’s Latinum Lost along.

At Starbase 24, Capt. Nobatu recommends the Love’s Latinum Lostfor upgrades. Froot thanks the captain, who he says “is not bad for a hooman female.” Kimbal avoids Nasami, and Orzzek makes sure that the Orion and Gorn prisoners are safely transferred.

Cmdr. Wahid meets privately with Lt. Kyerak. She offers him a covert mission to a lost Federation colony. The planet has devolved technologically, and according to the Prime Directive, its inhabitants must be left alone until proper First Contact is made.

However, Nasami says, other interstellar states have no such reluctance about exploiting more primitive worlds. She asks Kyerak to take a small squad undercover to find and “eliminate” any outside interference. The executive officer gives him a day to consider.

In the Rotha’s Starlight Lounge, Kyerak asks Kalifa, Froot, and Kimbal to join him. Kalifa agrees with the necessity of the mission but is uncomfortable with the idea of terminating any opposition and not talking with the captain.

Froot readily agrees to help bring the team to the nonaligned system as an itinerant merchant. Kimbal, who recalls a past life as a Starfleet officer, is surprised at the covert and potentially lethal nature of the mission. He agrees to come along to keep an eye on rogue Federation factions.

Kyerak tells Cmdr. Wahid that he accepts and that he hopes for a promotion. The U.F.P. agents and neutral traders begin preparing aliases and gear….

I hope that those of you who role-played in this scenario enjoyed it as much as I did hosting and running it! Thanks again to all who participated in this and the “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Expedition” session, as well as dinner at Fiorella’s for Byron’s visit.

This year’s Creation Star Trek convention in Boston was indeed inspirational. I look forward to continuing the voyages of the crew of the U.S.S. Rotha sometime, and live long and prosper….

Chowing down with college chums

The past several weeks have been especially busy at my work, partly because of the latest reorganization of our editorial staff. Still, I’ve managed to get out to lunch a few times while the weather was nice.

I finally got to Solea on Waltham’s Moody Street. It has been a long time since I’ve been to Dali in Somerville, but my co-workers and I liked Solea’s tapas just fine. The Local is a decent American bistro near Blue Ribbon Barbecue in Newton, Mass.

On Saturday, 27 July 2013, Janice and I drove out to the Lowell Folk Festival, which we chose over the Boston Arts Weekend since we had gone into town recently with Damon F.P. and Carlo R. We liked both the postindustrial, art-friendly city of Lowell (which is similar to Waltham but larger) and the festival itself.

There were a lot of great musicians, as well as crafts vendors, family activities, and, of course, food. I was pleased to try a wide range of ethnic cuisines, including Greek, Polish, and even Filipino! It might not be my mother’s cooking, but it’s as close as I’ve found in New England.

Janice and I also explored the New England Quilt Museum, which happened to have an exhibit of items from the past 200 years from eastern Pennsylvania, which is where Janice’s family lives. In addition, we stopped by at Larry’s Comics. There were enough other restaurants and galleries that I’d be curious to visit Lowell even without the festival.

This past weekend, I got to see some college friends. Stuart C.G. visited Boston on his way back to New York from business travel in Singapore. We enjoyed the Boston Comic Con. I wasn’t able to dine with him, Thomas K.Y. & Kai-Yin H. on that Friday or Sunday. However, Beruk, Janice, and I did join them for dinner at Smith & Wollensky on Saturday, Aug. 3, near Stuart’s hotel downtown.

Seafood bouquet
Kai-Yin, Thomas, Gene, Janice, Beruk, and Stuart in Boston

The food and service at the steakhouse were superb, as I recalled from one of Stuart’s previous visits. I enjoyed the shellfish bouquet we ordered as an appetizer, and the roast rack of lamb was good (if a bit challenging to cut apart).

On Sunday, Aug. 4, I visited yet another SUNY-Binghamton alumnus, Ron J.K., at his brother’s home in Brookline, Mass. As always, the family was very hospitable, and Ron’s niece Anna showed off her pet iguanas and knitting skills.

On Tuesday, Aug. 6, David I.S. stopped by on his way home to Upstate New York after his travels, which included a cruise to Bermuda, meeting friends in Manhattan, and hiking in New Hampshire. Unfortunately, he had picked up a respiratory infection in the process, but we managed to grab a bite to eat at City Streets, one of Janice’s and my go-to restaurants nearby.

In the coming weekends, Janice and I will be traveling to Virginia for my parents’ birthdays and to Pennsylvania for a wedding of a cousin of hers. We’ll need another vacation by the time summer’s done!

A weekend with the Westchester crew

This past weekend, Janice and I hosted Damon F.P. and Carlo R., two friends of mine since high school. They arrived from New York’s Westchester County on Friday, 19 July 2013. Janice made chicken enchilada casserole for dinner.

After a pancake breakfast on Saturday, we went into town for sightseeing. We stopped by the Outside the Box festival on the Boston Common and at Government Center. We also browsed at Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market before a satisfying lunch at Cantina Italiana in the North End, Boston’s Little Italy.

Damon, Gene, and Carlo at Faneuil Hall, July 2013

Everyone was tired from the hot, humid weather, so we had gelato at Caffé Paradiso before heading back out to the suburbs (we avoided most of the crowds for the Yankees-Red Sox game). I showed the guys my office, and we had a salad dinner. We also touched base with other high school and college friends, including Steve M., Ron J.K., and Steve M.R.

It was great to chat about old times, relationships, politics and religion, and recent and upcoming genre entertainment. Carlo and I co-wrote The Zarkonian Bomb, a movie script, back in the early 1980s, so he was interested in the current “Vortex: Terra’s Pride” space opera game. Unfortunately, the guys didn’t get to meet any of the local role-players.

Speaking of genre entertainment, we watched the latest episodes of time-travel drama Continuum, the new and surprisingly strong animated Beware the Batman, and conspiracy show Zero Hour. Looking back, we rewatched Back to the Future and episodes of Star Trek: the Next Generation and Teen Titans. We didn’t get to the theater to see supernatural buddy-cop flick R.I.P.D.

On Sunday morning, Janice did her regular volunteering stint at the animal shelter. Damon and Carlo attended a Tridentine (Latin) mass at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes, a Roman Catholic Church in Newton. Janice made sloppy Joes for lunch, and the guys left at midafternoon.

After a year of no houseguests, we’re making up for lost time, with David I.S. & Sandra K., Byron V.O., and now Damon and Carlo! In two weeks, I’ll be seeing Stuart C.G., Ron, and Dave around the Boston Comic Con.

Belated weekend outdoors

On Friday, 19 April 2013, Janice and I worked from home, partly because Waltham, Mass., was among the communities under lockdown because of the manhunt after the bombing of the Boston Marathon. After a tragic and tense week, we were relieved when the second suspect was caught. I hope that justice will be served.

That evening, college chum David I.S. arrived from Upstate New York with his lady friend Sandra K. Even though the Boston Comic Con was postponed indefinitely, we resolved to make the most of our weekend together.

On Saturday, April 20, Janice, Dave, Sandra, and I went into town for sightseeing. On the way, we visited Outer Limits Comics and had a buffet lunch at Kabab & Tandoor in Waltham. We parked at my office in Newton, Mass., before catching the “T.”

We walked from Back Bay, through the Public Garden and Boston Common, to Downtown Crossing, Faneuil Hall, and the North End. Lots of Bostonians and tourists were enjoying the nice weather and recovering from cabin fever.

We later met Thomas K.Y. and some of Sandra’s friends for dinner at Nourish in Lexington, Mass. The food was good, but conversation was difficult because a musician was competing with Dave’s stentorian voice.

Although we didn’t get to watch any movies or genre television together, Dave, Sandra, Janice, and I enjoyed discussing travel, food, work, relationships, and religion, among other topics. If just Dave and I had met, we would have stayed up even later analyzing comics, games, and more.

The next day, we went hiking in the Blue Hills Reservation after Janice’s weekly stint at the animal shelter. I was the slowest of our foursome. After stopping by Pandemonium Books & Games and Cambridge Bicycle, we met Thomas and more of Sandra’s friends for a good dinner at the Asgard. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see Thomas’ girlfriend Kai-Yin H., who was returning from a conference.

Hiking trails south of Boston
Blue Hills Reservation

Dave and Sandra left on Monday morning, and I’ve been catching up on work and other stuff since then. This coming weekend, I’ll be traveling to central New York for a wedding. So much to do, so little time!

“Vanished Lands: the Broken Chains” Update 71 — “I’m not a demon!”

Some of the "Broken Chains"
Some of the "Broken Chains," November 2011

Fellow role-players, here are Josh’s and my notes for the “Vanished Lands: the Broken Chains” fantasy one-shot of Saturday, 19 November 2011, using FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre.

In one ancient world, there was a region where demihumans and magic thrived. Travelers strove to be adventurers, and adventurers strove to become heroes amid wonders and perils.

After the “Liberators,” “Dragonslayers,” and “Seekers of Lore” but before the “Faith-Based Initiative,” “Holy Steel,” and other wanderers explored the northwestern borderlands and the Sea of Nagendwa, the “Broken Chains” united in the Halmed Desert….

>>Some of the “Broken Chains” (originally using D&D3.5):

-“Kemosh-ket” [guest Byron V.O.]-male Anpur Kahin (Jackal-man Druid/Dunewalker) and member of the Order of the Golden Lion; NGl, Lvl. 6/1

-“Kunal Sampat Rajiv Ramaprased” [Beruk A.]-male Harappan human Sa’luk/Dhurtaraka (proto-Indian Rogue) with an oasis stronghold; Align. NGc, age 28, Level 10

-“Val Shriboe” [Brian W.]-male Gokuri Tiefling (devil-touched) Warlock, with Imp assistant Szaboch; former member of the “Faith-Based Initiative”; LNg, Age ~50, Lvl. 9

-“Neela” [Sara F.]-female Wemic Kahin (centauroid leonine Druid); with mate Tar and three cubs; CGn, age 22, Lvl. 9

-“Raz bar-Dini” [Josh C.]-male tattooed Suthern human Sha’ir (proto-Arabic Wizard/Sand Shaper); LGn, age 21, Lvl. 7/3

>>”1 to 6 October 1229 B.C.E., from the correspondence of Raz bar-Dini:” Dear father, it has been good to have helped people from far and wide. It has been too long since I’ve written, but my divination studies often take me away from the comforts of civilization.

As such, I’m saddened to learn that you are currently out of town — no doubt bringing vast wealth to my mother and influence to our house — as I sit in your study penning this note. The latest exploits of the “Broken Chains” have brought me back to Falit for a few days at least. Perhaps I should start at the beginning.

It has been about a year since my adventuring party traveled across the dangerous Halmed Desert together. As you know, I’ve been splitting my time between the Tower of Sight in the capital, my friends’ hidden oasis, and the lost city of Tel Silat.

Mighty Kemosh has defended the oasis, escorted me safely to the archaeological site, and helped other former slaves. Kunal, a successful vendor of chilled snacks, had been trading with the Vanaka (Dune Dwarves).

Our good friend Neela and her mate Tar were raising their cubs Iben, Nika, and Nar at our secret sanctuary. Honorable “Mumtaz” [Brian] had returned north to the cruel Garku Nasit, and eccentric preacher “Killian” [Greg D.C.] had taken up residence at Emein Island. I’ve lost track of our other associates.

Several days ago, I was visiting the den of Neela, whose love for her cubs is already the stuff of legend. I was scribbling arcane characters on an exterior wall, working on a magical formula of recent discovery, when a horned being suddenly appeared before me!

“Val August” spoke in Hifalendorin (northern human common) and offered to perform a service if I returned him from whence he came. The red-skinned man appeared to be middle aged, with fine robes and slippers and a winged Imp named Szaboch.

Val said he had been working as a tax collector in the town of Pledwilt. He was just with Halfling assistant Oswald serving baronet “Kurick” [Dave S.C.] on the distant Plains of Sathendo!

I determined that this creature couldn’t be a Djinn or Efreet, as he didn’t know the Suthern tongue. I then summoned Kemosh, whose valor is known from Falit to the corrupt tribes of Tel Silat — may the great Isis visit a pox on each of their houses. I asked the tall Anpur to make a quick patrol to ensure that nothing else had come through with our noble “daemon” guest.

Neela herded her unruly cubs indoors, placed them under Tar’s care, and came to see the newcomer. Meanwhile, Kemosh called on Kunal, whose frozen treats are becoming known to all who need them, interrupting his negotiations with some Vanaka. The Kahin told the Sa’luk that he had found a dead camel at the edge of the oasis, opposite of where Val had appeared to me.

Kemosh and Kunal had begun following tracks back toward us when we all heard an unearthly voice ask, “Where is he? Where are they?” I ran toward them and beheld a large naked humanoid whose swollen pink skin was dotted with irregular tufts of hair. From its fingers dangled torturer’s blades, already stained with the blood of another visitor to our oasis.

Clawed Kemosh then leaped from a rock face to the monster and raked it. The horror split open like an oozing sausage and expressed masochistic pleasure. Nimble Kunal slashed with his adamantine saber, and Warlock Val drew a wand and threw fire at the beast, whose infernal nature protected it.

Wise Neela cast Entangle, blocking the Outsider’s progress with oasis vegetation, and I cast Desiccate on its wounds, seemingly stopping them from unnaturally swift healing. My gorge rose, but I managed to rejoin the fight. Kemosh blocked a heavy blow with his four claws.

Kunal stepped back, switched to a sling, and pulled out his sack of enchanted stones. I began Calling Sand from the desert’s edge, while Szaboch gave Val a scroll of Comprehend Languages. The knowledgeable Imp identified our foe as a Amaimon, an interrogator from the Nine Hells.

Even as Kemosh continued clawing, Rogue Kunal hurled a sling stone, which turned into a boulder as it flew! It went straight through the torso of the devil, revealing innards of pink flesh without bones or organs. Neela called to her fellow Druid Kemosh to play tug of war with the Amaimon, who taunted Val. The horned gentleman tried to Bewilder the hunter, to no avail.

After much dodging and tugging, the one tough mother and Anpur — with help from Kunal and me — rended the devil (not Val) limb from limb. Kemosh and I ground the still-regenerating remains into a paste, embedded them in rocks, and separated the rocks.

Although I guessed that Val had tried to escape former diabolical overlords — and who hasn’t? — he claimed to be from the Prime Material plane of existence, like whoever summoned the Amaimon and him. At least fierce Neela and the so-called Tiefling don’t hold me responsible for this awkward meeting.

Since we were all restless and wanted to get Val home, we bade farewell to Tar and the cubs, the Vanaka sand ship, and the oasis (we blindfolded Val as a precaution). A few days’ ride later, we arrived here, the capital of the Ebir Sheikdom. Falit‘s bustling soukhs have changed little in the past months, but we have seen things in cities and out in the sands that few have imagined.

My counter-scrying had found that whatever had called the Amaimon was lurking beneath a wadi (dry stream bed) and long-abandoned oasis. We went to consult with my colleagues at the Tower of Wind, but Kunal made himself scarce rather than face another ordeal at the Mumlak krak (castle of slave/soldiers to the caliph). The Sa’luk said he had to see some guild or another, probably about smuggling.

After months of “roughing it,” I was glad to behold the three towers of sorcery, especially the wide windows of the Tower of Wind. Flying carpets, winged mounts, Wizards in flight, and avian familiars filled the bright sky. I asked around and found my old friend Tarzu, a mist-shrouded Djinni with an opal gem in his turban.

Tarzu confirmed that Val was not a demon and that I may have just intercepted the summoning that brought him and the Amaimon to our oasis. Val seemed relieved to have been spared a worse fate and hoped to return home (Pledwilt, not the kingdom of Gokuri).

Kemosh and Neela, however, were determined to go to the dead oasis to root out the evil there, especially after we had knocked out the magical barrier [intended to block “Holy Steel”]. Kemosh and the Order of the Golden Lion were more worried about feral Anpur to the west and Hobgoblin legions from the north, and Neela wanted nobody to be able to track back to her cubs. I met with them and Val at a coffee shop to talk about our next misadventure….

Byron, it was great to see you this past weekend, and I hope that everyone enjoyed our latest foray in the “Vanished Lands!” I thought that our quick-and-dirty conversions from D&D3.5 to FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre worked well enough, even though a longer-term campaign would require a closer look at aspects, powers, and items.

In the meantime, please note that the next FATE 3e “Vortexspace opera will be Team 2 (the crew of the Appomattox) on Monday, 28 November 2011. The Pathfinder/Skype: “the Vanished Landstelecom group is scheduled to meet again on Sunday, Dec. 4, and “VortexTeam 1 (the crew of the Blackbird) on Monday, Dec. 12. Have a Happy Thanksgiving! -Gene