Playing with Fire
Our Islands in the Rift campaign for Traveller continues, with the PCs deciding to help out the science team aboard the stricken vessel Deepnight Endeavour. Since this is based on a published adventure, there be spoilers ahead.
After delivering a copy of the biological data to Zanobia about the Sex Thing, Khadashi headed back to the Deepnight’s science lab to try and dig up a bit of information on what they had been doing. After some discussion, and working out a decontamination procedure, Zanobia allows Shinzaro back aboard the Sex Thing.
On the Deepnight, Khadashi tries a bit of Carouse and Investigate to find out information, but even though the crew are somewhat desperate to have someone new to talk to, they don’t find him that interesting. He does find out that they’ve been living off supplies that they’ve managed to scrounge from other parts of the ship, though they all look as if they’ve probably been on a reduced diet to make the supplies last as long as possible.
Laura gets on better with them, and finds out a bit about the social dynamics of the ship. There are 13 of them left amongst the science crew, plus there’s two other main factions – the engineering crew which are led by the Vargr Dakh Moralder, and the bridge crew who are led by Captain Zenkhuirli.
Back on board the Sex Thing Zanobia spends time browsing through the medical notes. I figured that it would be a slow process, so would take 1d6 days, but she could speed that up by taking a penalty to the roll.
According to the rules, each -2 DM reduces the time needed by a level, from 1d6 days, to 1d6 x 10 hours, to 1d6 x 4 hours, to 1d6 hours etc. But that doesn’t entirely make sense, since I’m not sure what the practical difference is between 1d6 days and 1d6 x 10 hours. Unless someone is working a solid 24 hours, the elapsed time is going to be the same for both. So I skipped the 10 hours level for this.
She took a DM -4 (d6 hours), and first made a Science/Biology check, which chained onto a Medic check, getting good rolls both times. She also rolled a 6 for time taken, so the rest of the day.
Since I was expecting this, I’d written up a simple list of what information she’d find out depending on what she rolled. With the chain bonus from her Biology check (+1), and the penalties from rushing (-4), she got a final score of 14, which was above what was needed to find out everything.
That enabled her to effectively know the game rules behind how the infection worked. There were several stages to infection, which need END checks to resist every 2d6 hours after exposure. If you fail, you go to the next stage, if you roll well (effect of 6+), you recover.
The adventure does provide a nice flow chart (on page 52, if you have it) which shows the different stages of infection, which is a really cool idea. However, it doesn’t fully explain what all the bonuses are. I’m sure they’re in the main text somewhere, but it would be really nice if it was duplicated on the graphic to make it really easy to find whilst running the game.
According to team’s notes, they had come up with a drug that could slow the infection and help fight it off, but it was only short term duration and they didn’t have much of it, since it required fresh cells from a shambler. She also finds out about the clusters, which seem to be controlling the shamblers and creepers with possibly psionics, and spore clouds which you can’t do much more than run away from.
Whilst Zanobia was doing this, Shinzaro took an EVA across to the fuel shuttle, which was slowly moving away from them at a leisurely few tens of metres a second. Getting aboard it without too much difficulty, she disabled all the remote control systems and tried to re-enabled the fuel pipes to the reactor, which had been cut-off by Zanobia’s kill switch.
However, her Engineering wasn’t that great (as in, she didn’t have the skill), and she rolled a 4. So, she plugged the wrongs things into the wrong holes and made a mess of it all.
Calling a friend (Zanobia), she got some guidance and I allowed her to make a second check. This time she got a 1, and I figured that she’s managed to completely ruin things. It’s now quite late in the ‘day’, so she stays aboard the shuttle alone.
Back aboard the Deepnight, Khadashi and the science team come up with a plan. The aft science module is mostly open to space, but there are still all the main labs there and it could be repaired and used to try and finish the search for a cure. The only downside is that there is the remains of a large cluster of the fungus thing still there. Dormant and frozen, but it might still be not entirely dead.
There is much discussion between the players at this point about whether gases could be used to destroy it – such as pumping in pure oxygen, or using radiation. Ignoring the real world chemistry/biology, I rule that these ideas could work, but run a serious risk of causing more damage, probably ruining the science labs there. However, intense UV light would kill it off, and there are UV lights down in hydroponics.
Though it turns out that the ship doesn’t have a hydroponics section, so I retcon that it does and that it’s down in the Ops section where the supplies, medical and living quarters are. However, this is where the infection began (out of medical), so it’s not entirely safe.
Zanobia heads to the fuel shuttle (getting a bad Vacc Suit check, so it takes her longer than it should have) and tries to build some flamethrowers using fire extinguishers and hydrogen from the fuel tank.
Her attempts don’t go too well, but she doesn’t blow herself up. She decides though that she needs some help, so Shinzaro brings Trennance across to the shuttle, where he is bribed with chocolate (which he hasn’t seen for months) and other food which doesn’t involve dried veggie-bars. He is more than willing to help out.
With help, Zanobia manages to rig together 6 fire de-extinguishers. They’re bulky, only have 5 ‘shots’ each and don’t do much damage, but they’d be good against spore clouds or clearing a floor covered in creepers.
Fire De-Extinguisher (Heavy Weapon)
Weight: 10kg, Damage: 2d6 (fire), plus 1pt to user, 5 shots
Has a 45° cone, 2m range (auto hits everything in the area).
On an attack roll of a double 1, it explodes, doing 2d6+2/shot remaining to everyone in 1d6 metres. It can also explode if it takes damage (it has an armour rating of 4). Roll 2d6 + damage taken, on a 12+ it explodes (6+ if damage is from an energy weapon).
These are dragged back to the Deepnight ready for the expedition. What could possibly go wrong?
By the end of the day, the science team have a plan on how to get into the hydroponics section and grab the UV lamps as safely as possible, using their knowledge of where the dangerous spots are. Three of the team will go with Khadashi and Shinzaro as backup (though none of them really have much combat experience), and Trennance volunteers to go as well.
Which means I need to figure out what they’ll find down there ready for next week. I’m sure it’ll all be fine.