Legal Evidence

This is the third session of our monthly Traveller campaign, which started with a one shot for a group of people I met at New Zealand WorldCon. In the previous session, the Travellers had been hired to investigate a potential insurance claim at the Ocean View resort, for which they would be paid a million credits.

We seem to have lost one player – though she expressed interest in playing some more along with everyone else, we haven’t heard from her since the first game. Her character was present, though non-contributing in the last session, but now the player has missed two sessions I think it’s time for the character to leave the group rather than keeping her around as an NPC.

However, we also had a new player in this session, so we’re back up to four players, which is probably my preferred number. So the first question was how I was going to insert them into the game. As it happens there was an NPC (Ninji Shalamrash, the engineering team lead) that had only superficially been interacted with, but who had good reason to be on their side. That seemed a better choice than having them take over the missing player’s character.

It’s always tricky inserting a new character into a game, at least an ongoing campaign where the existing characters have a bit of history together, and therefore a reason to be together, so I wanted to ensure that they had a good reason to work together, and the NPC had originally been designed as a ‘friendly’ who had reason to cooperate. As it happens, there was also a good reason for the NPC to decide to stick with the group at the end.

I provided the new player with a simple character sheet of the character, a suggested background and a list of things that they knew which might be useful. Since the character had been put in to effectively be an information resource, it was important that some of what she knew would be available to the players.

The last plan when the previous session ended was that they had sweet talked once of the engineers into taking them down into the service tunnels to investigate some of the animal pens near where the explosion had happened. Since the new player was taking on the role of the engineer’s boss, she would have reason to be there to find out what was going on.

So we started with a bit of recap, which was probably more important than usual, since it’s been a month since we last played and it helped the new player come up to speed. I had originally planned something a little bit more complicated for the trip down the service tunnels, but I skipped right to the point where they got to their destination so the PCs could all meet up and start getting involved.

I think the introduction went well – the new player played Ninji as being initially suspicious, but quickly listening to a sensible argument from the strangers and agreeing to cooperate, which was a nice balance between the ‘game’ necessity of getting the PCs working together and a ‘story’ necessity of not just trusting complete strangers because they happen to be PCs. I’ve had too many bad experiences of a group refusing to trust a new PC, making an introduction really difficult.

So they shared some information about the explosion, and their concerns that something was being covered up. The area here was mostly where animals were kept ready to be released up in the forest to be hunted, and had been mostly untouched by the explosion.

Searching around the area, they found an abandoned box which turned out to be a medical cold box with Ardassi Metals markings. A quick check of Mechanics removed the hinges and got them access to it, though there wasn’t anything particularly incriminating inside – just some standard veterinary drugs.

Donning some vacc suits, they headed up to the surface, where the station section was being slowly re-pressurised. The forest was dead – the trees and bushes had been freeze dried in the decompression, and were now beginning to rot as the air pressure and temperature rose.

Nearby was the blast zone where the power plant had destroyed a large area of forest and broken through the hull. Not much was left of the power plant itself, but the nearby wooden lodge was partially intact – at least the half of it which had been picked up and thrown across the clearing to land on its side.

Investigating around it, Micky got a really good role on her Investigation, so found the clues available. Scratch marks on the walls probably made by an Aslan, smashed door controls, food containers ripped open and bits of Aslan fur. They also noticed a few video cameras, and Ninji was able to put her computer skills to use to retrieve some of the footage.

It was around this point that the Discord servers decided that now would be a good time to crash. After giving them 15 minutes to recover, we tried switching to the Roll20 built-in audio/video. It worked, but as usual required a lot of refreshing the page to get everyone connected. We stayed on Roll20 for chat for the rest of the session, but will go back to Discord next time.

This showed a sick and somewhat deranged Aslan attacking and seriously injuring a human woman the others recognised as Dr Iris Yakatoni. They recognised her because they’d seen her body in the morgue.

Outside, they found evidence of energy weapon damage amongst the trees as if there had been a shoot out, and a shot and destroyed camera drone which was labelled as property of Ocean View Security. This didn’t provide any information, since it had been destroyed, but was a hint that there might be footage available from other drones.

Together with help from Ninji, they put together evidence of a fight both outside and inside the power plant, and Rykiel was able to collect evidence from the fur that the Aslan here had been suffering from some disease.

So the group made a copy of all the evidence they had and lodged it with their respective ships, then split up. Una, Micky and Ninji went up to security, and Rykiel went to find out more information about the biology team that had been here.

By this point it was getting late for our player in Australia, so that factored into my decision to start heading for a conclusion. They met with the chief of security, the Aslan Hteeahfah Lyhis, and showed him the evidence they had that the Bio Lab Delta team had done something which resulted in the sickness and death of several Aslan, including his friend the Aslan Professor Hayohth Kaeakherl. Though he wasn’t officially able to help, he ‘accidentally’ left his key card on his desk and went out to have lunch with Una.

Whilst he and Una were lunching, the other two were able to gain access to the rest of the drone footage, which showed clear evidence of a laser gun fight outside the power plant, which then went inside it just before it exploded. This they decided was more than enough evidence that the explosion hadn’t been a fault of the engineering company.

In her talk with Chief Lyhis, Una explained that she had a grievance with the Dr Kaazaki, the head of the Bio Labs team, since he had been responsible for their kidnapping some months back. Lyhis offered aid if she was going after him. In return for bringing Dr Kaazaki back, he would loan them his ship, a Hraye class scout the Run and Pounce.

This was my way of getting them a ship, so that they could have a bit of independence and go off and do their own thing. It’s only a small ship (100t), with 4 staterooms and 15t of cargo space, so not great as a trading vessel. But it’ll get them where they need to go, and give them some flexibility.

Meanwhile Rykiel got access to the rooms that the Bio Labs team were using, and sorting through the rubbish found some empty boxes of biochemical supplies which had company logos on them. Looking them up later, they were companies local to the systems of Cordan and Tech World.

Combining all their information, they reckoned they had enough to invalidate the insurance claim. Una had a final meeting with the resort’s lawyer, who wasn’t happy to hear the news, but claimed she had all the right paperwork for what Bio Labs Delta had been up to. Apparently the work had been to run some tests to counter a disease amongst animals that is common on the Scaladon main world, and had been approved by the Arch Priest Petrii Sal Murtii from the University of the Path of Freedom on Scaladon. Except he didn’t exist.

So the group concludes the case successfully, and will get paid their Cr1,000,000. They also have access to a ship, and a desire to find where Dr Kaazaki went in the Transcription Factor. How they’ll do that I don’t know, but it’s going to be more of a free form campaign now.

Their original party member, Betina Silva, had been a scout pilot, so would have been well suited for piloting and astrogation. Without her, they’ll be down some skills, but Ninji has decided to go along with them which will make up for that in some respects. The player chose the ‘spacer crew’ background for her, so she has some piloting skills.

They will all have some experience to use as well, so they can start rounding out their characters a bit and filling in any gaps they have in skill sets. Next month, we can see exactly how they want to follow up on the clues that they have.

Samuel Penn

Samuel Penn