In the Deep of Night

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Some notes on my weekly Traveller game on Roll20. Note that this probably contains lots of spoilers for Great Rift Adventure 2: Deepnight Endeavour, so don’t read if you’re going to be playing this.

Planning this session of Traveller was difficult, since there were so many different ways in which the wreck of Deepnight Endeavour could be approached, as well as different ways in which it could be handled. My assumption was that they’d want to scout out the wreck of the Deepnight Endeavour before attempting any boarding, and that they’d probably stay back to try long distance scans before even approaching.

The obvious way of approaching it would be to find the bridge, and see if there was anyone there. Big windows would provide a lot of visibility into the bridge, and if there was anyone there then they could contact them. Except that allows them to find out lots of information by being told it, rather than by experiencing it. Safe, but not too exciting. So my plan is that the bridge has protective shields up, which prevent anyone visually seeing in or out.

The adventure pretty much assumes that they will enter via the starboard side, which is possibly the safest point since there are still functioning docking points there. So assuming that they go in that way, there will be plenty of opportunity for the players to start finding out what happened, before they meet one of the major factions.

I had played with the idea of having some tactical maps of the internals, simply small areas that could be explored (and drew up some simple SciFi style map tiles for that), but in the end decided against it. I did however manage to get some nose art done for the It’s A Sex Thing. I did want a reclining scantily clad Vargr, in the style of retro nose art, but couldn’t find anything even remotely close (not too surprising really, but the lack of online artwork for Traveller compared to Pathfinder/D&D is very noticeable).

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So the session (the 18th, as it turns out) started with the crew heading off in real-space for the Deepnight Endeavour, with the somewhat repaired fuel shuttle moving ahead of them as cover. Shinzaro’s initial Remote Ops check failed, so she was having difficulty keeping it properly aligned in front of the It’s A Sex Thing. Rather than risk things going wrong, they stopped for long enough to head over to the shuttle, re-boot the computers, and come back.

Zanobia also put in some extra fail safes, just in case anyone else tried to take over the shuttle, something which would turn out to be useful later.

Failure at this point would have meant that a second check at turn-over time would have been harder, which would have led to them possibly losing the shuttle, but their precautions meant they managed to navigate everything to their destination.

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As they approached within 100 million kilometres, they started picking up the transponder signal which identified the ship as the Deepnight Endeavour. They were still just over a day away, and slowed down to approach within 10,000 km and start performing an active scan of the wreck.

This alerted a few aboard the Deepnight that someone was nearby, but for various reasons nobody responded.

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They sent the shuttle ahead using that to perform a scan, and I gave them a full rundown of which parts of the ship seemed to have life support and activity, and which were damaged and open to vacuum.

It was then that somebody aboard the ship tried – and succeeded – in taking control of the fuel shuttle. It began to accelerate, and Zanobia activated the kill switch. It wasn’t moving fast, but it was now dead in space and moving gradually away from the Deepnight.

So they brought their own ship in closer, and made some broadcasts to try and raise anyone. However, the ship didn’t respond. Dr Laura Williams, their representative from the company, suggested the starboard side where there were still some docking connections and possible active airlocks, so they flew the ship round to the starboard structure and tried to find a place out of the fire arc of the beam lasers and missile turrets. Since the Deepnight is tumbling, it’s a bit of effort to keep in place, but it is tumbling very slowly.

They did shine lights in the windows along here, and eventually got a response – somebody switching a light on and off to signal a distress using whatever the equivalent of Morse code is in the Imperium. I figured they knew what the distress code was, but nothing else, so communication of any information was not going to be possible.

There was some discussion at this point about what to do, and Dr Williams argued for going aboard to find out what has happened, and see what state any survivors were in. As far as she was concerned, making contact with the survivors and getting as detailed a state of affairs as possible was part of the deal.

This is where the original adventure start has its advantages – the PCs are out of fuel, so need to go aboard and get involved in order to obtain fuel. They can’t just decide that they’ve found it so they can go home.

So Khadashi, Shinzaro and Dr Williams suited up, took some laser rifles, and headed out for some EVA whilst their ship hung back in case anyone tried to board them. They were very paranoid about the idea of chest bursters, zombies, viruses and other things that could have happened.

Thrusting over to the window where they saw activity, they came across a Vargr with his face up against the window looking out. He seemed to be in some sort of kitchen area, which was full of empty food cartons but nobody else. After a bit of hand waving, he indicated to the PCs to head for the airlock towards the aft of the ship, and that he’d head that way as well.

With some trepidation, they enter the airlock and board the vessel. There is atmosphere and it all seems okay, though they stay in their vacc suits. Moving down the corridor, most of the doors they try are locked, though they do come across some bullet casings on the floor and signs of bullet holes in the internal walls.

There is then the sound of gunfire – slug weapons – from further away. Wearing their vacc suits means that sounds are muffled, but they figure out the direction is coming from where they are headed.

There are signs of very recent gunfire (bullet holes), and a pressure door which seems to have been shot at from the other side. Looking through its window they see a second pressure door about 10 metres away, and a man standing in front of it. He has a revolver in one hand, and seems to be stabbing at the door controls with the other.

Since he doesn’t respond, and is looking away from them, they think it odd but try to hot wire the door. Both Shinzaro and Khadashi fail, and in that time they notice that he is still mashing at the door controls.

Finally Dr Williams gets the door open, and Khadashi points his laser rifle at him and tells him to put the gun down. He slowly turns, revealing a human with fresh blood on the front of his t-shirt. The man then starts walking towards them.

So Khadashi pulls out his stunner and shoots him. He goes down, and Shinzaro kicks the gun away from him. Since Dr Williams is the only one with medical skills, she checks the body, and turns him over, quickly recoiling away.

There are bullet wounds in his chest, but there seem to be some fine filaments visibly growing within the wounds.

It’s then that the Vargr turns up, coming up from behind them. He’d run into the infected crew member on the way to the airlock, locked him between two pressure doors, then had had to find another way around.

He seems very nervous, and there is some gun pointing until its pointed out that the PCs have armoured vacc suits and bigger guns. He is Oksasaek, one of the crew here, and he explains some of what happened.

  • Some infection was picked up from exploration of an alien vessel.
  • The infection started to spread amongst the crew, and they decided to head home.
  • They mis-jumped, and rumour has it that their astrogator did it deliberately, then went mad attacking other members of the crew.
  • The captain tried to get them to a fuel cache, but someone called “Guns” turned the ship’s weapons on it and blew it up.
  • There have been infected people, plant things shambling around and strange crawling things.
  • People have been fighting over food, and the Engineering and Bridge teams seem to be fighting each other.
  • The mission team say they are working on a cure.

There is talk of beheading the crew member they’ve stunned, but decide against it, and lock him back between the pressure doors. They do notice that fine filaments seem to be growing from his face.

So the PCs decide to try and find their way to the mission team in the science labs. Rather than make their way through the ship, they plan to EVA to get over there, since they reckon it will be safer.

Oksasaek will have to stay here for a while, since they don’t trust him not to be infected. They reason that whatever is happening is causing people to try and destroy the ship, and they don’t want the Vargr onboard doing the same to them.

That seemed like a good place to wrap things up for the evening. Next week they can find out what the mission specialists know about the infection. I was debating about whether to throw in something extra at this point, but decided to leave it to the start of next week, to give me a bit of time to think about how it will play out.

Samuel Penn

Samuel Penn