It’s Just a Corpse
There wasn’t a right-up for last week’s Traveller game, since though something happened it was very short. I was very tired, and one player couldn’t make it until quite late, so we basically just had a quick planning session. This week we continued as normal. Since this is the Deepnight Endeavour adventure, there will be spoilers.
The player’s plan was to head into the aft science module and try to clear it out, with the emphasis on reconnaissance and investigation. How I was going to run this was something I had difficulty deciding upon. If it had been D&D, then I would have done a map and have a bit of a dungeon crawl, clearing things out room by room.
For Traveller, I didn’t want to do that. It doesn’t really fit the type of game, and it was really going to be more region by region rather than room by room. So I instead forewent a map, and just listed out the different types of rooms (living quarters, labs, storage, damaged areas) and had a list of things that might be in there, and had the PCs make Recon checks to see if they spotted anything or were surprised by it.
They started off by giving the science team that were going with them some basic Vacc Suit training, since they’d done so badly the previous time, then entered in through some of the damaged areas, which comprised of twisted and burned metal. This part was the most dangerous from a navigation perspective, since there were lots of sharp edges to snag a suit on, combined with a lack of artificial gravity (no power) which meant that the tumbling motion of the ship made movement tricky.
They came across some frozen body parts, which they tossed out into space, then once they got into the main corridors headed directly for the main labs rather than trying to clear out the surrounding rooms first. They did notice a frozen ‘creeper’ – a long worm-like thing which was dangling from one of the air ducts, and realised that clearing these out might turn out to be difficult. Nevertheless, Khadashi takes it as a sample.
The corridors were relatively safe though, so they quickly got to the first lab. It was a general mess, unpressurised and cold.
There was a corpse floating up against one wall, as well as other bits of rubbish and equipment from the lab. Vania is sent in to check the corpse, and as she turns it round, she starts yelling that “it’s grabbed her” and begins to panic.
Khadashi tells her to calm down, and assures her that it’s just a dead corpse, whilst Shinzao goes in to help her. Her yells quickly shut off as the ‘corpse’ unlocks her helmet and pulls it off her head, releasing a burst of air and she starts gasping.
Shinzaro raises her laser rifle and shoots the ‘corpse’ in the chest, sending it spinning away. Khadashi tries to shoot it as well, though his line of sight is partially blocked by a thrashing Vania. He shoots anyway, getting a direct hit on Vania’s back, burning through her suit and her lower back.
As her suit tries to self-seal, Shinzaro manages to grab Vania’s helmet and re-connect it in one fluid motion. The corpse doesn’t seem to be doing much now, just tumbling back against the wall.
It had been infected before it died, and had remained dormant in the cold vacuum. When disturbed, it’d had just enough energy left for a couple of quick actions and then went back to being in a dormant state.
The science crew aren’t too happy with Khadashi at that point, and the PCs somewhat blasé comments to the crew afterwards don’t help things. Enero takes Vania back to be checked for contamination and given medical treatment. Since she had been exposed to vacuum briefly, I did check the Traveller rules for being in a vacuum, and I’d have to say that I think they’re a bit extreme, and seem to represent the Hollywood view of vacuum exposure.
With things quietened down, they check the next door which is closed and seems to lead into the next lab. As far as they can tell, there is atmosphere beyond that door so they close the door to this lab, and then slowly open the door to the second lab. Air escapes, but settles at about 50% pressure.
None of the doors here are powered, so they needed to be manually opened and closed, and it’s decided that re-enabling the power here is probably not a good idea until it’s been cleared out.
There are some creepers in sample jars, and another door which leads into a medical bay of some kind. Closing the door behind them and opening the next door pressurises to about 80%. There are two shamblers in the next room, both of which start moving towards the team.
Khadashi shoots one, blowing open its chest cavity as the cold liquids inside it are super heated to steam. It creates a rapidly expanding cloud of infectious organic material. Shinzaro gets out the makeshift flamethrower and tries to burn the material before it reaches them.
The second one doesn’t make a great Athletics check, so doesn’t get all the way towards them, giving Khadashi a shot at that one. He panics and misses though, so pulls himself clear of the doorway into cover. Trennance shoots, disabling it by blowing off its arm.
Moving into the room, Khadashi notices some powered machinery which the two shamblers had been huddled to for warmth. In the next room there is something else – a large mass of flesh and stuff, wrapped around some pipes. Tentacles slowly reach out, but it seems somewhat sluggish. It’s one of the central Clusters that control the infection.
They seal the doors up, and head back to the forward science bay to sort out what to do next.
Zanobia, still sheltering about the Sex Thing, manages to make a trap which consists of a box with a heater inside and a fast-close lid. The plan is to try and get the Cluster to stick its tentacle in the box, then cut it off when the lid slams shut, in order to get a sample.
The next day, they head back, but take a different route to try and come around the back to reduce the amount of atmosphere they were loosing every time they opened and closed the doors to the labs. Getting into another part of the pressurised section, they find the corridor blocked by about half a dozen bodies. They seem to have been duct taped together, and to the wall. Shinzaro approaches with a flame thrower, and one of them opens its eyes.
“Hello, Hi. Are you here to rescue us?”
The players seem somewhat put off by this, and try to ask some questions, but it just repeats itself.
“Hello, Hi. Are you here to rescue us?”
It tries to reach out with an arm, but it seems to be sticky – flesh has joined together, and it pulls away in strands like trying to separate warm blu tack.
They have a quick discussion, figuring out that the infection has some form of intelligence and is possibly controlling them. They empty a flame thrower, and then follow up with laser rifles. The burning charred mess writhes for a bit, but eventually goes dead, allowing them to get past without having to touch any of it.
The players seemed a bit unnerved by this, which is good, because I got the idea from the Doctor Who episode Silence in the Library, which I really liked.
They eventually get around to the back of the medical bay, open a side door and toss in the box (on some string). They notice that the two shamblers seem to have huddled up against the Cluster, and seem to be in the process of merging into it.
The cluster seems to notice the box, and a tentacle tentatively reaches out for it, seeming to intelligently examine it, before grabbing hold and sticking the tip inside seeking the warmth. Snap!
The tentacle jerks back, missing a tip, and the PCs pull the box back and burn off the organic matter on the outside. They close the doors and head back to the scientists with the sample that Dr Kleine had wanted.
We decided that now was a decent point to end things. They haven’t made a lot of progress in clearing the place out, but they’re starting to find out a bit more about how the infection operates and maybe a bit about what its capable of.