Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Everything I painted this year

20mm/28mm Sci-fi

28mm Fantasy/Ancients

15mm Historical

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Seven Worlds #7 - Exodus and Endgame

Campaign Diary

A small party walked of men walked across the barren surface of the asteroid from the Magpie to the Serran diplomatic yacht. Outside the yacht several Serran marines in vac-suits stood guard. Leading the party was Vice-Admiral Freant; he commanded several Serran marines, who held our crew - Nick, Kumra, AJ, and Jet - under guard.

(Click here for PC profiles)

An hour earlier, the Magpie had exited hyperspace to enter the Solar system, and from there Freant contacted Amahrius, who had arrived on the asteroid Pallas earlier. Initially furious that his orders to Admiral Karragan to keep his location hidden was ignored, he soon became soothed when Freant explained that the rebellion was quelled and the crew of the Magpie captured, but with the Telenet satellite on Koskara destroyed, the admiral had no means of contacting Amahrius for instructions on the disposition of the crew, and had therefore decided to send Freant to bring them to Pallas; they took the Magpie, Freant explained, to appear less conspicuous.

The party entered the yacht, and the crew were searched and then, still with their hands bound behind their backs, brought to the conference room at the fore of the ship. As the door to the room opened the crew heard Serran opera playing. The far end of the large room was a single window that spanned the whole wall, and through the glass they could see the asteroid belt, and in the distance, Earth. Amahrius stood near the window, seemingly lost in the music. He beckoned for the marines to leave, and greeted his old friends.

The Devourers, he explained, had entered the Solar system a little before they did - a fleet of more than fifty ships, larger than any previously encountered - and even now the UC fleet was speeding to intercept them at the asteroid belt. He had waited years for this moment, and now he would finally see the destruction of those who persecuted his people up close. When Princess Aiel was murdered by an anti-Serran mob, he said, he realised that lasting peace between the Serrans and the other races of the galaxy was impossible. With the help of his council, he created Koskara as a hidden sanctuary for the Serrans; however, the appearance of the Grens and their susceptibility to the Serran's psychic powers gave him a new, terrible idea, and he began to plot the destruction of the other races through the manipulation of the Telenet network.

He was glad, he told the crew, that they had survived so far, and offered to spare them if they would stop fighting him.

The crew tried to persuade Amahrius to change his mind and reveal the password to unlock the Raze power, but he was resolute. In any case, it was too late: in the distance the crew could see the first shots being exchanged between the UC fleet and the Gren bioships. The UC ships darted between the asteroids, using them as cover. Then, unexpected by all in the room, a torpedo fired from one of the UC ships struck a bioship, which began to flounder. Amahrius inhaled sharply. They crew gave each other a knowing look: the specimen of Gren parts Lamar sent to Earth must have allowed the scientists there to develop a weapon that was capable of damaging their bioships.

Jet began to rail at Amahrius, until at last the Serran lost his temper and used his telekinetic power to throw the young man into the ceiling. The rest of the crew rushed forward; their bonds came off - they were false!

It was all a ruse.

Unable to obtain the password that will unlock the Serran's Raze power or Amahrius' location from Admiral Karragan or Dr Oren, the crew were nevertheless able to deduce from flight records and the men's words that Amahrius was at Pallas, waiting to witness the destruction of Earth at the hands of the Grens. The crew conspired with Vice-Admiral Freant to deliver them to Amahrius, so they could try to convince him to relent and reveal the password. Now that words have failed to persuade him, the crew decided to try action.

As the crew charged towards him, Amahrius threw off his cloak and drew his Imperial Guard sword which he had kept from his younger days. Two masked Serrans, the elite Scion Bodyguards, entered the room to protect him. Simultaneously, debris from the battle began to rain onto the yacht, rocking it. Despite their fury, our unarmed crew was unable to defeat Amahrius and the two bodyguards. In desperation, AJ set off the explosives that were hidden in his shoes, but the resulting explosion took down Nick, Kumra and himself, leaving only the Serrans and Jet standing.

Amahrius seized Jet and placed his sword against the young man's neck... then his eyes widened in disbelief: five Serran colony ships had just exited hyperspace, and were now headed towards the Grens.

Amahrius' confusion quickly turned into anger as he realised that he had been snookered. Jet revealed that Karragan had in fact been defeated, and thousands of Serrans had volunteered on a mission to come to Earth to face the Grens: now whether they lived or died would depend on Amahrius.

Amahrius released Jet and sank to the floor, defeated. He uttered the password. Jet roused the others and raced to the communications room to try to send a message to the Serran ships, but found it disabled by the impact from the debris. With AJ and Kumra's help, the trio cannibalised parts from the other equipment, and finally managed to restore communications.

The Serran ships sped nearer and nearer to the Gren bioships. Then one by one, the bioships stopped in their tracks. A withering storm of torpedoes from the UC fleet struck against them, and the bioships began to break apart.

But our crew were now in mortal danger as more debris began to ran down on the yacht. The earlier impact had taken out the engine, and our crew would have to abandon ship. Donning their vac-suits once one, the crew, Amahrius, and the other Serrans exited the yacht... only to see that the Magpie's hull had been breached by the falling debris too. They were stranded.

Just then, a familiar voice crackled over the radio:

"You losers need a lift?"

It was RB, arriving in the Monad. The crew scrambled aboard the shuttle sent by the Monad, and RB began to demonstrate with glee the new beam weapon the Robot Collective had developed with the data he had downloaded from Dr Oren's computer. The beam cut through the now stationary bioships, and within the space of an hour the Gren fleet was no more.

The crew had once again saved the galaxy.


After the Battle of Earth the Telenet network was restored, and over the next few months the UC and Tazanian fleets, with the help of the Serrans, reclaimed the systems lost to the Grens. Amahrius returned to Hirceptus, where he would remain in house arrest - his true role as the architect of the invasion would remain known only to the Serrans… and a few teamsters.

Almost two years after the battle, our crew were once more seated around the table at the Teamsters' Guild. Also present were James Hassel-Hoffa (who was on the last ship off GCP during the Gren invasion), and high-ranking military officials from the UC and the Tazanian Empire.

The officials explained that during the operations to clear the Grens from the galaxy, a UC fleet had pursued a fleet of bioships into the Dead Zone, where they found a wormhole. Based on the emanation of the psychic signal from the wormhole, scientists concluded that the wormhole was probably the means by which the Grens had entered the galaxy.

Over the interim months the UC and the Tazanians combined their efforts in designing and building a warship equipped with the cutting edge technology and weapons designed to damage Gren tissues. An elite crew was secretly recruited from among the UC and Tazanian military, as well as from the Neutral Zone. The crew had drilled and trained in the new ship, and were ready for their shake-down cruise; all they lacked now, they explained, was a command group... a group of people who are well-known and respected... a group of people who are experienced at making the kind of decisions where the fate of the galaxy hanged on...

Prepping and Running the Game

So the second season of our space opera campaign came to an end.

I kept largely to the plot of the original module, but shifted the site of the final confrontation from a space station above Earth to the asteroid Pallas, since I did not establish earlier in the campaign that the Serrans had a space station - even if I did, or if they dd have one, it was so obviously a place to look it would not matter.

The final battle turned out very badly for the PCs, with them unable to hit, while the Serrans were ace-ing on the damage dice. The explosion actually took AJ to 3 wounds, and gave him a permanent injury.

Nevertheless, they had already won the whole campaign when they came up with their plan to essentially blackmail Amahrius to revealing the password.

After the battle ended we spent a bit of time discussing what would happen to the Serrans. The players were all very defensive of the Serrans and argued that the Serrans' role was known only to the Serrans and themselves, and that they would be able to cover the whole affair up. I was of the opinion that a few people (the Hassel-Hoffa brothers and the UC military) would know a little about the truth, but then I reasoned they too would rather cover it up than to start another round of persecution which would lead to an all-out war... especially when there were still Grens to be eliminated from our galaxy.

The epilogue hints at a possible third season, which is inspired by Deepnight Revelation. If the kickstarter delivers on schedule, and if my players are onboard, I would definitely like to try to adapt the campaign to our storyline.

I am now in the middle of a two-month break from RPGs as I plan the campaigns for next year.

Have a good year end holiday.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Seven Worlds #6.2 - Chrysalis II

Campaign Diary

Led by Sera, the crew traveled along the drainage pipes that ran from the Science Dome, and eventually emerged at the agricultural laboratory.

(Click here for PC profiles)

As they made their way to Dr Oren's office, Kumra picked up the scent of Grens in the air.

The crew was able to ambush Dr Oren as he came into his office, and quickly subdued the elderly man. They accused Dr Oren of creating the Grens as a bio-weapon, and accusation which the scientist scoffed at. The Devourers, as he called them, was an extra-galactic species that ventured into our galaxy several years ago, perhaps by chance - they and their bio-ships were such perfect killing machines, Oren gushed, that technology alone could not create them.

Going through Oren's file, the crew learned the history of the Serrans' encounter with the Grens:

Several years ago, a Serran ship, carrying settlers to Koskara, came upon and were attacked by a Gren bio-ship. The unarmed passenger ship could not retaliate, and it seemed that the Serrans were doomed. But then the attack stopped suddenly, and the bio-ship came to a dead stop in space. Boarding the bio-ship, the Serrans found the Grens in a dazed state, and captured a few for further research.

Dr Oren and his team were later able to discover that the Grens were a psychic species, much like the Serrans, and they used their psychic abilities to communicate with each other. This made them uniquely sensitive to the Serrans' psychic abilities - it was the psychic emanation from the frightened crew of the ship that paralysed the Grens.

With further experiments, Dr Oren's team managed to lure Gren ships to themselves, and managed to capture more Grens. They subsequently developed a psychic technique that allowed a trained Serran to kill a Gren with a single thought, and they named the ability Raze. Over the next few years, they trained every adult Serran on Koskara to use Raze, and the safeguard the secret then locked the memory of the training inside their minds. The password to unlock the memory was known only to Amahrius, Coban, Oren, and Admiral Karragan.

The crew tied Dr Oren up and proceeded to the adjoining Council Dome. When they entered the dome, they found the revolt already in progress. The Resistance fighters were trading fire with soldiers, and they seemed to be doing worse.

Gyan Rosling caught sight of the crew, and shouted at them to pursue Coban into the Central Command building, from where he could block access to the Council Dome and prevent the populace from joining the uprising.

The crew ran into the building, took out the few guards outside the Central Command Room, and Jet opened the door with the access card on one of the soldiers... to find himself in the line of fire of half a dozen soldiers.

The crew tried to storm the room, braving the hail of fire, but Coban threw them back with his psychic force. As the door once more started to close, Kumra grabbed RB, and using him as a shield, charged past the soldiers and their fire, and crushed Coban against the computer console. Seeing their governor dead, the soldiers surrendered.

Looking at the screen, they realised that Coban had been in contact with Admiral Karragan, who still commanded the Serran fleet and had two thousand marines under his command. The crew needed to help the Resistance gain control of the Domes before Karragan could react.

Jet got to the console and shut the link between the Military Dome and the Council Dome, unlocked the connection to the Residential Domes, and opened a broadcast to the populace of Koskara.

The crew began give an account of the Gren invasion and the Serrans' part in it. From the screens inside the Central Command Room, they could see the civilians pouring into the Central Dome and thence into the Council Dome, but their faces seemed more confused than indignant. They decided to change tack and repeated what Gyan Rosling told them about the violation of civil liberties that had been visited upon the populace lately - that seemed to work. The crowd began to advance slowly but deliberately towards the Central Command Building.

The crew watched with bated breath as the crowd came closer and closer to the cordon of soldiers who had formed outside the building. Then, as the crowd came to within an arm's length of the line, the soldiers lowered their weapons.

Just then, the crew received a transmission from the Serran Fleet: Vice-admiral Freant had led a mutiny and arrested Admiral Karragan after the latter fired upon and destroyed the Telenet satellite. The Serran Fleet would stand down, and Vice-admiral Freant would land and begin negotiations with the rebels.

The Resistance had won, for now.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Seven Worlds #6.1 - Chrysalis

The Resistance attempts a daring rescue
Campaign Diary

When the crew returned to GCP they found the whole planet in a state of heightened anxiety. Three more systems have fallen to the Grens in the interim, and ships have returned from Hirceptus with the news that the entire system appear to have been abandoned. Every ship in the system was now on standby for civilian evacuation. Reunited with Jet and the Hassel-Hoffa brothers, the crew planned their next step.

(Click here for PC profiles)

They decided to send the body parts of the Gren they had killed to Earth, where hopefully they will be useful to the UC scientists in coming up with weapons which can stop them. But before they could leave, they were visited by Vlaw, a pirate whose life they had saved fifteen years ago.

Vlaw had heard about the disappearance of the Serrans from Hirceptus, and had a story which he thought would be helpful to the crew.

Six months ago, Vlaw and his crew ambushed and disabled a small freighter leaving Hirceptus. When they boarded the vessel, they found more than a hundred Serrans inside the cargo hold, all dead with a single blaster wound to the head. There were the usual supplies needed for the passengers, but no valuables. They found the captain and pilot inside the bridge, dead in the similar fashion, and each with a single blaster by their side. The ship's computer was in the process of deleting its data, but Vlaw's crew managed to stop the process before the destination was erased from the drive.

The destination was a place called Koskara, a name not known to Vlaw or his crew, and its co-ordinates indicated it was somewhere deep in the Dead Zone.

Vlaw sold the freighter, and proposed they went to Koskara to discover what was there, but his crew, spooked by what they saw onboard the ship, refused. Over the succeeding months Vlaw and his crew had a run of bad luck, and one by one his crew left him, which led to him having to haul cargo for a living. Now, he offered to give the co-ordinates to the crew.

Just then, an announcement summoned all the teamsters to the guild's lobby. The crew joined the hundreds of teamsters on standby, and when all were gathered, the face of the president of GCP appeared on the screen in the lobby.

The president informed the teamsters that the Grens had just been detected entering the system; there were more than thirty bioships in the invasion fleet - three times more than any previous flee. Every military and systems (non-hyperspace capable) ship had been scrambled to try to delay them. There was now nothing to prevent the teamsters from leaving GCP, but she appealed to each of them to respond to the acquisition call and leave in the pre-arranged order, carrying as many civilians as they could. The announcement for the civilians to report to the spaceport for evacuation, she added, would be made fifteen minutes.

There was silence when the address ended. Each man knew that even with all the ships on GCP, they could not hope to evacuate a fraction of a percent of the half-billion souls on the planet.

The silence was broken by Kumra, who ordered the crew of the Magpie to their stations, and for Vlaw to take the Gren body parts and Lamar to Earth. James would not leave with them, and declared that he would not leave except on the last ship that leaves the planet.

The ground crew at the spaceport eyed our heroes with contempt as they made ready to leave without taking any civilians, but Kumra was resolute in his belief that their quest was too important to risk the Magpie being caught by the Grens. The Magpie made it to the edge of the gravity well just when the Grens started bombarding GCP, and Nick entered the co-ordinates for Koskara...

A week later, the Magpie emerged from hyperspace to find itself at a red dwarf surrounded by five icy planets. A scan revealed a Telenet satellite orbiting the third planet. They knew they were on the right track now.

Nick piloted the Magpie towards the third planet, but when they were an hour away they detected several ships moving towards them: Serran warships! There was no way the Magpie could outrun or fight them, so the crew surrendered and the Magpie was boarded by Serran marines. Leading the party was Admiral Karragan, who did nothing to hide his hatred for the crew for their role in he events that led to the persecution of his race fifteen years before, nor his glee at finally getting his hands on them.

Nick, Kumra, AJ, and Jet were bound, drugged, and had their minds probed by the Serrans, while RB pretended to shut himself down. After several hours, satisfied that they had learned all that they needed, the Serran marines prepared to execute the crew... but were interrupted by a communication from the planet: Coban, now the governor of the Serran colony of Koskara, ordered the crew to be brought to the surface.

Although obviously unhappy with the order, Admiral Karragan gave the command for the crew to be brought to the colony. As they descended to the surface on a transport shuttle, the crew could see that Koskara was an 'eyeball planet': the planet was tidally-locked to its sun, such that one side always faced the sun while the other side received no light; most of the planet was covered in ice, with the exception of a round sea on the side facing the sun. In the midst of this blue sea was a continent covered with plants with dark red leaves, such that it gave the whole planet an appearance of an eyeball with blue iris and a dark pupil. As the shuttle got closer, the crew could see a city made up of several huge interconnected domes had been built at the edge on the continent.

Still groggy from the drugs in their system, our crew were marched out of the spaceport by one of its side entrances. The artificial lighting in the dome indicated that it was early morning in the colony.

Suddenly, each of the crew (with the exception of RB) heard a voice inside their head: get down!

Nick, AJ, Kumra, and Jet dropped to the ground. A split second later something across the street from them exploded, taking out half of the marines guarding the crew. Simultaneously, two cars swerved into view, and four Serrans emerged from them and began shooting at the marines.

The crew once more heard the voice telling them to get into the car, and they were happy to oblige. Quickly taking down the remaining marines, the crew bundled into the cars.

Their rescuers drove out of the spaceport dome into the adjoining Central dome. They stopped next to a large park in the centre of the dome, and continued on foot into the wooded interior of the park. As they entered the treeline, the crew heard two more explosions from behind them - the cars had been blown up to cover their trail.

The rescuers led the crew down a drainage hatch into the drainage tunnels below. After a long walk through the branching tunnels, they finally ended by in a small room, where their wounds were tended to.

When our heroes had had a breather, a tall Serran entered the room, and the rescuers left silently, leaving him alone with the crew.

The Serran introduced himself as Gyan Rosling, leader of the Resistance. He told the crew that his men had rescued the crew at great risk to themselves and the organisation on the advice of someone he trusted, and asked the crew for news of the war between the UC and the Tazanian Empire. He became confused when the crew replied that the war had been interrupted by the appearance of the Grens. In the exchange that followed, it became clear that the Serrans on Koskara had not been told the truth about what had happened in the past months.

Koskara, Gyan explained, was a secret colony founded by Amahrius as a refuge for the Serran race in case there ever was another wave of persecution of their people. The money required for this undertaking had come from the Serran Brotherhood, which had been richly rewarded for their help in negotiating treaties and contracts all across the galaxy, and the investments they had made with the money; the Serrans, as it turned out, were more adept at mind control than they had led the other races to believe, and the Serran Brotherhood had a controlling stake in Telenet through a number of conglomerates!

For years, Amahrius and the members of his council - Coban (now governor of Koskara), Karragan (Admiral and head of the military), and Dr Oren (head of the Science Department which oversee all the technology required for the building and maintaining of the colony) - had secretly moved Serrans from all across the galaxy to Koskara.

In the weeks following the assassination of the Tazanian ambassador, this process had accelerated, as the council feared that the Serrans would once more be targeted as the resulting war progressed. At the same time, communication with the outside world was banned (on account of the risk of the colony being discovered), and the new arrivals now had their memories wiped before they were allowed into the colony.

This turn of events led many Serrans to question the actions and intentions of the Council, and slowly, a Resistance group began to form. Over the months, the members of the Resistance uncovered more and more secrets that were not known to the public: there were sections of the Science Dome which were off limits to all but a few scientists, and there were indications that all adults in the colony had at some time reported to the Science Dome, but had their memory of the episode locked inside their brains.

When news of the crew's arrival and capture reached Resistance members in the military, Lindsay, who had arrived at Koskara several months ago and since joined the Resistance, convinced Gyan that they would have vital information which would shed light on what was really going on.

The crew now shared what they had learned over the past few months, and together they began to theorise what had happened. Amahrius, they now believed, engineered a war between the UC and the Tazanian Empire by assassinating the Tazanian ambassador with mind-controlled UC troopers. He then unleashed a bio-engineered species upon both sides' fleets, while simultaneously shutting down the Telenet to cripple their communications and prevent co-ordinated defence against the Grens. His goal, it seemed, was the destruction of the other races of the galaxy.

But there were still unanswered questions. How did the Serrans manage to create the Grens? And by what means did Amahrius expect to defeat the Grens once the UC and Tazanian Empire had been destroyed?

There was only one place they could find the answers, the crew decided: the Science Dome.

Gyan Rosling decided that the time had come: with their daring rescue of the crew, it would not be long before the Council start a colony-wide search for them and the Resistance - this was the time to strike. While the military was occupied searching the colony, the Resistance would storm the Central Command building in the Council Dome and capture Governor Coban and the communications facilities, and broadcast the truth about what had happened. Simultaneously, the crew would enter the Science Dome via the drainage tunnels that led from the agricultural research section, capture Dr Oren, and find out what he had been hiding from the public.

Gyan assigned Sera, a young Serran woman who worked in the agricultural research section to act as guide for the crew, passed them some home-made blasters, bade them good luck, and gave the orders for the Resistance to mobilise.

The revolt had begun.

Prepping and Running the Game

The campaign dairy covers the first half of session six of the campaign.

Much of the session was based on module 6 in the Seven Worlds series, and involved a lot of rail-roading, which my players were kind enough to go along.

For the first part of the session I tried to give the players a grimmer view of the reality of what the galaxy faced by putting them in the path of a Gren invasion. I was hoping the choice between leaving at once or waiting to take on some civilians would be a difficult one for them, but Kumra was resolute.

The moment that the players decided to go to Koskara, the game was basically on rails until the point they met with the Resistance leader. However, I imagine the players felt vindicated once they were able to piece together who was behind all the happenings in the past five sessions - AJ's player had in session one speculated that the assassins were under some form of mind-control, but the idea did not find support from the other players.

The players seemed genuinely looking forward to payback once they realised that their old mate Amahrius had fooled them - even though the character was played by me as an NPC throughout the campaign. This was a great moment for me as a GM, as I have been looking forward to this for over a year now.