Fuel Scavengers

Our Traveller game on Roll20 continues, with the players having located the fuel depot where they think the last known location of the Deepnight Endeavour was.

The three Great Rift Adventure modules from Mongoose Publishing all seem to be setup as one-off adventures, rather than being easy to slot into an existing campaign. Islands in the Rift, which I started this campaign with, has a reasonably straightforward beginning, but the other two start in media res. This can be a great way to kick off a campaign, but lousy for fitting into an existing one.

As I’ve mentioned before, Deepnight Endeavour makes very little mention of how the Travellers find the ship, or what their motivations/potential payments are for doing so. It just opens with them having found it and ready to dock, but out of fuel and desperate to find more in order to get back home.

I mean, without the promise of a huge payoff (financially or emotionally), it seems incredibly unlikely that a crew would risk jumping into the middle of nowhere, having expended the last of their fuel.

Since I was running this adventure as part of an existing campaign, I couldn’t just tell the players that they were at their destination with no fuel – they had to have a chance to do the planning themselves. If I’d put the destination somewhere they wouldn’t be able to get back from, then probably they wouldn’t have been interested in going. Maybe they would have taken a risk if they’d known there was a chance of a fuel cache being there, but it’s a big risk.

So they were able to plan for having enough fuel to get back home – a whole three parsecs in their collapsible fuel tanks.

During this session, I also gave Zanobia a rank of zero in Profession: Journalism. The player has been taking notes throughout, so I thought it fair to give her a small reward for that. It’s probably not a skill that’s going to be terribly useful, so it’s not a benefit that would overbalance things, but it’s a small token of appreciation.

1106-86

When they came out of jump space, they were on target and the fuel depot was where they were expecting it to be – it was just in lots of different pieces. A battle of some kind had occurred here, and there was the wreckage of several ships nearby.

In reality, after almost a year, the wreckage would probably be spread out over a much vaster volume of space, but I made a deliberate choice to keep things still relatively close together, to make it easier. They approached as cautiously as they could, noticing that all the main fuel tanks on the depot had been destroyed, and that there was the wreckage of at least four ships here, which they ultimately identified as a couple of far traders, a 100t scout and a Duusirka class scout. There was signs of missile and laser damage to both the ships and the fuel depot.

There was no sign of the Deepnight Endeavour itself.

It was then that they picked up some garbled comms chatter, but despite picking up a general direction (from the Islands) they couldn’t make out what it was. A failed Electronic-Comms check, but that didn’t matter since it was going to be about when they got useful information rather than a chance of missing out on anything seriously important.

They got close enough to allow Shinzaro and Khadashi to suit up and head across to one of the Far Trader wrecks. The entire centre of the hull had been destroyed by a missile salvo, leaving the drives and bridge more or less intact. There was no sign of a crew, and after they pull out the black box and other records and get them back to their ship, they’re able to deduce that it had been piloted remotely, around the same time that the shuttle they’d found earlier had recorded some form of combat alert.

Meanwhile, there was another burst of comms traffic, and this time Zanobia got enough info to pull out a timestamp and some words.

..emergency… anybody out there…
…is fake please ignore…

The time delay put the distance to the source at around 20 AU from their present position.

Further examination of the wrecks showed a similar thing – the ships had been remotely piloted, and it looked like they had been used as kinetic missiles against the fuel depot.

…mutiny… …out of fuel…
…please ignore the emergency, just communication errors…
…this is captain … endeavour … please send aid … mutiny trying…

They manage to scavenge about 20t of fuel, which takes them the rest of the day, bringing them up to 4 parsecs total.

1106-87

Their sensor scans over ‘night’ have picked up something large about 50,000km away, so they head out to investigate. What they find is the remains of one of the Deepnight’s fuel ‘shuttles’. It has six of these, each 10,000t in size and capable of flying off and refuelling by itself. The engineering and bridge section is mostly intact, but the fuel tanks (which take up 90% of it) are wrecked.

It’s spinning, so it requires some Vacc-Suit checks to get inside. Power systems are simply offline, and are re-started without too much difficulty, allowing it to stabilise its spinning. It has about 17 days of fuel left – effectively what’s sitting in its fuel pipes near the reactor.

It takes Shinzaro three days to patch things together enough so that it can be flown (it’s M-drive is still working), and Zanobia spends four days seeing what fuel can be salvaged from the fuel depot. It would have been quicker but a bad Engineering roll means a lot of fuel is lost, but they manage to fill up It’s A Sex Thing to maximum, with another 10t left over for the fuel shuttle.

1106-92

By now they have a good fix on what they think is the Deepnight Endeavour. They could jump to it, but decide to spend the dozen or so days in normal space instead, and taking along the fuel shuttle via a remote operations link. Just in case they need to ram the Deepnight.

From what they have been able to tell from the comms fragments, there seem to be two different broadcasters, and they seem to be trying to jam each other’s broadcast. It’s intermittent, not continuous, starting up again every few days.

The ship itself is moving at about 130km/s (very close to what Khadashi originally estimated), with a heading that will take it to Topas in about 30,000 years. Nothing to worry about just yet.

They have no idea what’s happened aboard the Deepnight, or why there was a fight with the fuel depot (a military installation, so it had its own defences). Aspersions were cast on the Vargr contingent of its crew, much to the disagreement of Shinzaro. But until they get there, they won’t know for sure.

I think having them follow the path of the lost ship before locating it, gives the players more times to wonder at what happened, and come up with some crazy theories about what they’re going to ultimately find. They’re definitely going to be in a better position than what the adventure assumes they will be at the start, but they’ve done some decent planning so I’m not going to force them into a bad situation ‘just because’.

What they do with that extra planning though remains to be seen.

Samuel Penn

Samuel Penn