Friday, December 31, 2021

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Deepnight Revelation #11


Captain's Log - T258

Mr Khan's team had been recovered and are now onboard the Deepnigh Revelation. Unfortunately, we have lost three more crew members in the mission, and Lieutenant Nidesh has suffered a spinal injury, although Dr Cho assures me that he will make a full recovery.

The first sign that the mission was going to be more difficult than we had anticipated was when scans revealed that the asteroid had in fact been modified extensively to become effectively a 2km long starship. When the Amelia Earhart attempted to land on its surface, several metallic panels on its sides opened up, revealing themselves to be in fact weapon ports. Deepnight Revelation was forced to withdraw from its shadowing position from the mass-driver weapons, and the Amelia Earhart suffered damage to one of her wings, causing her to crash onto the surface of the asteroid; it was during this that Lieutenant Nidesh suffered his injuty.

Mr Khan led the team onto the surface to try to find a way inside the asteroid-ship to either override its controls or to plant the nuclear charge. Here they were attacked by more of the spider droids which they have previously encountered on the surface of Claimed-in-Hope. The team were outnumbered and surrounded, but managed to make it to one of the hatches that led into the ship, but we lost Troopers Trokh and Kaylan, and Nuclear Technician Feldmann in the running battle.

Once inside the ship, the crew had to overcome more spider droids, but they were able to make it to the command room of the asteroid, where Ensign Soong Jahangir was able to hack into the mainframe and disable it.

Captain's Log - T263

We are scheduled to depart Sovereign tomorrow.

The Erlines have helped us repair the damage to the Amelia Earhart. At Mission Command's recommendation, we have taken into our inventory 43 spider droids found on the asteroid-ship, which the Erlines have helped us to convert to remote-control mode. Our Draysirvian crew have been training with the Erlines on how to operate the controls - these droids will no doubt give us more tactical flexibility and reduce the risk to our crew in future missions.

With the information downloaded from the asteroid-ship, we were able to reconstruct what had happened to the Erline Homeworld. 

The asteroid-ship, named Guardian by the Erlines, was originally constructed by the Erlines to help them fend off threats to their civilisation. It possessed an Artificial Intelligence that had enormous computing powers and was linked to the Erlines' databases. It also possessed construction capabilities that allowed it mine raw materials from asteroids, manufacture spider droids and smaller craft, and eventually to create copies of itself. 

It seemed that a century ago, one of their ships became contaminated by Gren spores and unknowingly carried it back to their Homeworld. The Gren infestation spread, but the Erlines were eventually able to contain and destroy the threat. However, the Guardian regarded the threat of spread to the other Erline colonies to be unacceptable, and decided to not only eradicate all life on the Erline Homeworld, but also send copies of itself to other Erline colonies that were possibly exposed to the spores.

Fortunately for the Erlines, the Guardian and its copies did not possess the capability to create the Jump drive, so it had taken a century before one of them had reached Sovereign.

The Erlines now plan to retrofit the captured Guardian with a Jump drive, and using the information collected from it reach their other colonies and warn them of the threat, and to help neutralise them.

Prepping and Running the Game

I have been lagging in the writing of the game reports, to the extent that the two previous reports did not have a "Prepping and Running" section. I apologise for that.

The plant/biologic and the Erline arcs of the campaign went pretty much as per the modules. What I did not expect (but should have) was the players' request to take over the spider-droids remaining on the asteroid-ship. Since these were of Erline design, I found it a reasonable request, and given that the Amelia Earhart had to be repaired, they would have ample time to make the necessary modifications.

With the biologic and Erline arcs completed, we are now into the final arc and the finale of the campaign, which we will play in the new year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Deepnight Revelation #10

Captain's Log - T188

We have detected radio signals in the Erline language during our latest refueling stop, and Mission Command had decided that we will head towards the source of the signal and hopefully make contact with the species.

Separately, I have promoted Ensign Nidesh to the rank of Lieutenant, Junior Grade, for his performance on the mission so far.

Captain's Log - T196

We are still in orbit above the Erline world, which they call Sovereign. Sovereign is not the home planet for the Erline species. According to Minister Chazik, the Erlines civilisation once spanned many star systems, but about a hundred years ago the colony of Sovereign lost contact with the home planet and the other colonies. It was only in the past thirty years that Sovereign had managed to build up the industrial capacity to produce jump-capable ships. Since then they have managed to colonise a planet in a nearby system, but they have yet to make contact with their home world or any other Erline colony.

However, they lost contact with the colony, named Claimed-in-Hope, about six weeks ago, and all the ships they have sent since have failed to return.

Minister Chazik had been most welcoming and helpful to us, and in return for their hospitality Mr Stamper has agreed to take the Amelia Earhart to Claimed-in-Hope to re-establish contact with the colonists there and find out what happened to the ships.

Captain's Log - T223

Mr Stamper has returned and debriefed the Mission Command team on what the crew encountered on Claimed-in-Hope.

When they arrived at the system they found debris consistent with Erline ships in the asteroid belt surrounding the planet. Crewman Ajax was sensed a presence in the asteroid field, and a focused scan revealed a craft of Erline design hiding in the asteroid field.

Mr Stamper ordered the Amelia Earhart to intercept the craft, which tried to to evade their pursuit. When the Amelia Earhart got close enough to the craft, Dr Belilaika was able to hack into its computer and order it to stop. It turned out that the craft was an unmanned vessel with the command to destroy all ships which attempt to leave the system.

The crew then approached the planet, where they learned that the city of Claimed-in-Hope had been destroyed in what appears to be an asteroid strike. There were no survivors in the city.

Mr Stamper then sent a team to one of the fishing settlements outside the city. Here the crew were attacked by droids of Erline design, and Trooper Garger was killed in the ensuing fight. The crew found the populace of the settlement had all been killed by the droids, and the same was true in all the other settlements on Claimed-in-Hope. All told, some 20,000 Erline settlers have been lost, plus the crew of the ships that have been destroyed by the craft.

Mr Stamper now proposes a mission to the Erline Homeworld, to see if a similar fate had befallen them.

Captain's Log - T246

Mr Stamper has reported that the Erline Homeworld appears to have been completely devastated by a series of asteroid attacks, which explains why the Erlines have lost contact with it suddenly a century ago.

Rather ominously, the comet which Astrography detected last week continues to approach Sovereign. It is now close enough for Astrography to detect that it had been making minute course corrections. We have yet to inform the Erline about our latest findings. I shall be meeting with the Mission Command team to discuss what to do with the situation.

Saturday, December 04, 2021

Deepnight Revelation #9

Captain's Log - T155

Our refueling operation at the last system was interrupted when sensors detected a large object headed for Deepnight Revelation. The object had a non-metallic "body" of low density, and a dense "tail" which emitted a signature consistent with a conventional gravitic drive. Based on the sensor readings, the Mission Command team surmised that this could be the same type of bioship which they have encountered on Wildwood.

The team decided that Deepnight Revelation would move to the edge of the system's gravity well in case there was a need to depart the system rapidly, while Mr Khan took the Amelia Earhart to investigate.

When it detected the Amelia Earhart, the bioship altered course to intercept, and when it was near enough, it launched a large spike from its hull, which struck the Amelia Earhart on its starboard side. The spike tore a hole in the hull some 2 metres across. The crew was able to seal the breach between the hull and the spike, but once cabin pressure had been restored the tip of the spike split open, and from within it two humanoid forms similar to those encountered on Wildwood emerged and began to attack the crew.

Mr Khan gave orders for the Amelia Earhart to reverse course and head back to Deepnight, but as it turned it was struck on the port side with another pike. The crew neutralised the two humanoids, and then retreated into the bridge and sealed it from the rest of the craft. Through the security camera they were able to see the other spike split open and disgorge two more humanoids. Mr Khan ordered the craft to be depressurised, and the two humanoids were vented into space.

The bioship continued to move towards the Amelia Earhart, but it appears that its acceleration could not match that our ours. Deepnight was able to recover the Amelia Earhart and enter hyperspace.

The Amelia Earhart is now under quarantine in the hangar. I have asked Life Sciences to remove and analyse the spikes to learn more about our attacker once it is certain that it is no longer active.

Captain's Log - T157

Life Sciences and Astrography has presented their analysis of the spikes from the bioship and the probable origin of the plant-based species. We have set a course for the cluster of systems which Astrography has designated as Probably Point of Biologic Origin, and plan to perform a systematic sweep of the systems once we arrive.

Captain's Log - T 180

Mr Khan as returned from the mission on PPBO Delta 3 with 58 of the inhabitants, from whom we learned that their name for the planet is Draytsirv.

Initial survey of the planet revealed a global civilisation that has been completely taken over by growth of the Biologic species. The away team was able to identify the ruins of a large city, where the only large areas not covered by the plant growth were the erstwhile starport and seaport. Concentric rings of defence could be made out, centred on the seaport. Several areas in the city were perhaps deliberately contaminated with chemicals - on these areas there were no plant growth.

The team landed at the spaceport and explored the terminal building, but found no survivors. Upon returning to the pinnace they found that the plant growth had begun to creep towards the craft. Mr Khan ordered the crew to return to the craft and depart the planet, but as they passed over the city they detected a radio signal consistent with the recorded distress signal we detected from the crashed craft on PPBO Beta 3, but this was a "live" signal.

Ensign Nidesh was able to localise the source of the signal to the seaport. Mr Khan ordered the craft to be set down at the seaport, and from there the crew made their way to a warehouse building, where they made contact with the a party of five of the local inhabitants.

The Draytsirvians are a humanoid species, and the party which the crew had made contact with appeared to be hiding from something or someone. The source of their apprehension soon became clear as Ensign Nidesh noticed many plant-like humanoids emerge from the vegetation bordering the spaceport and began to approach the craft.

Mr Khan once more gave the order to embark the craft, this time with the Draysirvians, but as they exited the warehouse the ground before them cracked and a large plant emerged from the earth beneath, blocking their path. The organism then proceeded to attack the crew with it tendrils. The crew and the Draytsirvians retaliated with their blasters and hand weapons, but the plant seemed invulnerable to their attacks.

Meanwhile, Ensign Nidesh had to take off as the ground became overruned with the plant humanoids, which were headed to the warehouse where our crew were trapped.

Mr Khan ordered the crew to retreat into the warehouse, and from there the party ascended to the upper level of the warehouse, from where they exited through the windows and accessed the rooftop, where Ensign Nidesh was able to retrieve them.

Captain's Log - T182

We have successfully evacuated all 58 of the residents of the Draytsirvian settlement. Through the translation software, we have pieced together the recent history of their people.

It appears that some 30 years ago the Draytsirvians came across a plant species on PPBO Zeta 2 that was especially efficient in producing energy through photosynthesis. The species also possessed a form of neural tissue which allowed the scientists to integrate it with the energy system the Draytsirvians were using, essentially converting sunlight into electrical energy at an efficiency that rivalled that of any solar power they had.

In an effort to provide clean energy to their cities, the Draytsirvians introduced the plants into all their settlements, and converted all their power generators to the plant-based system, eventually also using them to power their starships.

However, some 20 years ago it became clear that some of the plants have escaped containment and developed locomotion. These escaped plants displace the local plant life and even attack animals that started to feed on them. When the Draytsirvians tried to eliminate these plants the plants fought back, sending out humanoid and giant plants similar to those our crew have encountered. It seemed that their neural tissues allowed them to develop a sort of hive mind which made it possible for them to attack the Draytsirvians in a co-ordinated fashion.

The Draysirvians had some initial success in halting the attacks, but the plants began to reproduce and create more mobile specimens, and those used by the Draytsirvians for energy production began to die off. It was then a matter of time before one city began to fall after another.

The settlement which we have evacuated was one of several which fled the cities and escaped to biomes which the plants could not reach: deserts, the frozen polar regions, alpine heights. These settlements managed to survive by returning periodically to the ruins of the cities to scavenge for food and resources; they had kept in contact with each other by radio, which the plants did not seem to be able to detect, but by the time Deepnight arrived at the system all the other settlements have been silent for months, and our scan of the planet did not reveal other survivors.

We must now help the Draytsirvians to find a new home.

One good thing that has come out of this tragedy is that Dr Balilaika has reported that the plant produces a natural antifungal chemical, which he believes may prove useful against the Gren. Initial tests are promising, but we will need to obtain a sample of Gren tissue to confirm this finding.

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Deepnight Revelation #8

Captain's Log - T122

It's been two weeks since Syndic Feisler has agreed to allow our crew to go on shore leave on the planet below Tradeport, and today I learned that his decision may have been motivated by something other than generosity of spirit. He has asked for our help to find the source of an alien craft that he had obtained from salvagers some six years ago.

The salvagers have refused to reveal where they had found the craft. Syndic Feisler offered to buy any further craft they could find, but the crew never returned. While Syndic Feisler was able to make an educated guess of the likely system where the salvagers have found the craft, mainly by a process of elimination, its location was beyond the range of the Haix ship, but not ours.

I have asked Mr Johnson to lead a team on the Amelia Earhart to the system to see if he can learn more about the origin of the craft, and perhaps make contact with the species that built it.

Captain's Log - T138

Mr Johnson and his team have returned to Tradeport this morning.

Arriving at the Candlass system, they detected a metal signature on the forested moon of the second planet, which led them to a clearing in the forest. In the middle of the clearing were two craft, of a similar design to that in Syndic Feisler's possession, and next to the clearing, partly covered by trees, was a Haix ship.

A team was despatched to the surface on a boat to investigate, but as the boat approached the clearing to land it was struck by an electromagnetic pulse which caused the ship's systems to shut down. Sergeant Ahab, who was piloting the boat, was able to bring it to a controlled crash into the forest.

While the crew worked to reboot the systems on the boat, they came under attack by the inhabitants of the moon: short, green-skinned humanoids. The initial attacks came in the form of arrows, which our boat was proof against, but soon the aliens began burning through the hull of the boat using some form of primitive blowtorch. The crew disembarked and attempted to fight them off, but were at a disadvantage as their weapons were likewise disabled by the EMP, and they were heavily outnumbered. Fortunately Mr Goldfone managed to get the communications system online and called for help. Mr Johnson brought the Amelia Earhart into the atmosphere and conducted a strafing run, which caused the aliens to flee.

After Dr Belilaika tended to the wounded, the crew made their way back to the clearing, and explored the Haix ship and the two alien craft on the clearing. Nearby, they found a mass grave which contained the remains of what were later ascertained to be Haix.

It appeared that the aliens had occupied the Haix ship and turned it into their homes. Inside one of the alien craft the crew found an induction coil and a primitive cannon - it appeared that the aliens had used the cannon to propel a ball of iron through the induction coil to generate the EMP that disabled our boat. Within the cargo bays of the other craft the crew found paintings on the bulkheads, describing how an insectoid alien species had arrived on the moon in the craft, exchanging technology for food with the locals. There was however no trace of the insectoid aliens other than their abandoned craft.

Professor Tsoukalos is of the opinion that the locals had developed a form of "cargo cult" after their contact with the insectoid aliens, and had converted the craft left behind on their world into some sort of temple for their gods.

The crew recovered the computers from aboard these craft, and the Haix are working on deciphering their language, and they have agreed to share their findings with us. As soon as that is done I will recommend to the Mission Command team to continue our journey.

Prepping and Running the Game

This was the first session we have played in over two months due to the lockdown.

It was quite an effort to get back into the saddle, and I deliberately kept the scenario short so as not to tax myself. Still, it was quite an enjoyable session as the players were all cool with their modern weapons being rendered useless by "primitives". Two characters actually went down during the fight, and we were looking at a TPK; fortunately Ippy Goldone had the presence of mind to restore their communications first, which allowed them to call for help, giving me an 'out'.

It was good to finally be able to gather around a table again - hopefully we will be able to advance the campaign by a bit before the next round of lockdown.