The Middle of Nowhere

The previous Traveller session ended with the PCs having picked up an old distress signal whilst in the space between star systems. The rather unusual drive configuration of Perfect Stranger – a Jump-1 drive with fuel for 5 jumps – means that they tend to go places others don’t. So they’d planned a 4 jump drip directly from Herzenslust to Serendip Belt.

Planned route to Serendip Belt, with source of radio transmissions at 1325

The signal they’d picked up was, according to the timestamp embedded in it, six months old, which meant it was 6 light-months away – too far for a trip in normal space. They were in 1325, still two jumps from their destination of Serendip Belt, and had 3 jumps worth of fuel remaining, so after a bit of triangulation (reactionless drive tech means that 1g of acceleration for a single day gave them a light minute of triangulation), they jumped to another location in the same hex.

I could have made it difficult, and had the extra jump take them out of their way enough so they wouldn’t quite be able to make it to Serendip Belt, but that seemed rather pointless.

How close they got to the source of the radio transmission depended on how good their Electronics / Comms check was – good enough it turned out to get within 3 AU – a short 5 day trip in normal space (it was almost twice that, but one of my players was better at calculating s = ut + ½at² than I was).

The ship in distress had described itself as the Shuttle Tydirium (yes, I know), so they were expecting a small craft they could maybe use to replace their own missing shuttle craft. This though was a 300t Duusirka class scout, a jump capable ship in its own right. Painted in some green and black camo pattern, and looking like a slightly elongated box with huge windows at the front, it was floating in space seemingly without any signs of power or life – other than a by now very week radio signal emanating from it.

Duusirka class scout, another attempt with Blender on my part

The PCs were sensibly cautious, but there was no threat here. Playing through a careful boarding action, and a few oddities (why had someone put a tiny hole in the airlock window?), they managed to explore the dead ship without anything untoward happen.

The entire point of this event was as a possible hook for the Deepnight Endeavour adventure, and I needed a way in which the PCs might be able to get a clue as to its location. The Endeavour is a pretty capable craft – 100,000t of exploration vessel, capable of three consecutive Jump-3 jumps in an emergency, with up to twelve 300t shuttle craft on board, at least some of which are going to be capable of at least jump-2. So if it gets lost, it needs to really get lost. Which makes it hard to find.

What they found aboard the ‘shuttle’ were three corpses and a craft whose electronic systems had been heavily fried. The first crew member was sitting at a table, wearing a vacuum suit with a bullet in her head, a revolver still in her hand. There was bloody vomit on the table.

Another was in a cold berth, and showed heavy signs of radiation sickness. The cold berth had run out of power a long time ago, and they were now a frozen corpse. The third was in the medical bay, sealed up in a body bag and showing signs of decay and radiation sickness.

It seemed that the craft had misjumped, burning out the drives on exit, causing a massive radiation surge which fried both the crew and the ship systems. So though the PCs had lucked out on finding about Cr200M of salvage, it was dead in space with no chance of them repairing it without a major overhaul.

What they did also find though, carved into the table top, was a final message.

1719 Reft

— Last words of Engineer Meelo Odastorinni

They pulled what computer systems they could, as well as some samples from the science lab, and took the bodies and the table top. If anyone else happened across the ship, they didn’t want anyone else to also obtain the probable coordinates of the Deepnight Endeavour.

They also managed to take the 20t launch that was docked in the scout’s docking bay. Though its systems were dead as well, it fitted to their ship quite nicely, and would have scrap value if nothing else.

TL15Duusirka Scout Type ETONs
Hull300 tons, Close Structure
M-DriveThrust 412
J-DriveJump 260
Power PlantFusion (TL15), Power 24012
Fuel TanksJump-2, 12 weeks of operation63
Virtual Crew/1

Deep Penetration Scanners
Enhanced Signal Processing
Life Scanner
Life Scanner Analysis Suite
Mineral Detection Suite
WeaponsSmall turrets x 22

Fuel Scoop
Fuel Processors
Cargo Scoop
Medical Bay
Sensor Station
Advanced Probe Drones
Docking Space


Standard x 8
Low berth x 8
Living Space
Probable design for the Tydirium

So they left the ship where it was, making careful note of its coordinates, and headed for Serendip Belt. They did manage to pull some records from the computers – evidence that this shuttle had been exploring a comet at 3021 around 80-1105. The most recent scraps of logs showed that:

  • Whilst it was docked with its mother ship, the Deepnight Endeavour, there had been “abnormal acceleration” warnings picked up.
  • The mother ship had gone on full defensive alert.
  • Someone had disabled safety systems in order to launch from the mother ship without alerting it. They had also noted scratches on the hull where docking clamps might normally be.
  • Someone had overridden safety systems to force a J-1 misjump, from the location of 1719.

They spent a week in relaxation at Serendip Belt, then plotted another Jump-4 course to Zuflucht.

Islands patrol greets you, Imperial vessel.

— Imperial destroyer escort Ishsagi, Fer-de-lance class

They finally arrive in Imperial controlled space in 17-1106, where they are recognised, greeted, debriefed and most importantly paid for the retrieval of the Perfect Stranger’s computer records.

So we concluded the last of Great Rift Adventure 1: Islands in the Rift. If you’ve played through it, or read it, you’ll notice that I left out some of the encounters towards the end, which didn’t quite make sense. The Neubayern agents actually had no idea who the Perfect Stranger belonged to – their run in with the original crew had been bad luck on everyone’s part and had originally led them to believe that they were private contractors working for Amondiage or Joyeuse.

The Neubayern’s knew that both sets of crew were Imperial citizens, but weren’t sure who they were working for, which was what they were trying to work out (they had originally been assuming maybe Joyeuse). They had no reason to think that they would head for Herzenslust, or to Zuflucht and therefore plan an ambush for them in that direction.

I may have overplayed the nastiness of the Neubayern agents, which put the players off risking any encounters with them, so removing those encounters also helped move things towards a conclusion.

What we plan next is to move onto the second Great Rift Adventure, which is Deepnight Endeavour. The players are interested in pursuing this one, so I need to figure out what their options are for getting to it. They’re probably going to go to Deepnight Exploration, LIC offices at Zuflucht, and work out a deal. Since the corporation only has a small regional office here, they won’t have the resources to mount a full exploration themselves, so will probably find it easier to help the PCs get there and back. Exactly how the PCs want to approach getting to a point apparently in the middle of nowhere, and back, will be for them to decide next week though.

Samuel Penn

Samuel Penn