Truth and Art
With the Deepnight Endeavour adventure completed last session, the crew of the Sex Thing spend some time relaxing on Neubayern (Reft / 1822). I’d had time to think up a couple of plot lines to fit into what was happening to keep them busy and possibly add complications down the line. We’re also back into doing trading, so I’m giving the full Traveller trade rules a try.
Zanobia had become a bit of media celebrity, since she was an interesting source of news on the events around the Deepnight Endeavour, but also because she was volunteering her time to help at local hospitals. There were several holovid shows where she was invited as a guest to be interviewed, and turned out to be quite popular.
On one of the chat shows she was on, a fellow guest was Michelle Mandeville, a Truther who believes that the Imperium is a conspiracy and doesn’t actually exist. I’ve been rolling up a Traveller character a day for January, and Michelle Mandeville was one of the characters I rolled up. She seemed interesting, so I wanted to include her in the campaign.
She and Zanobia had a ‘debate’ on air, and who won depended very much on who’s side you were on to begin with. The Truthers career is quite interesting, and gives the character a bonus/penalty that applies to social skills. It applies as a bonus for her followers, and a penalty for those who aren’t liable to believe her.
Meanwhile they had Madeline taking a look at what their trade options where. This time I decided to make use of a spreadsheet that was put together by Simon Cordner which calculates everything for you. It definitely makes it easier, but also loses some of the detail specific to a world (such as Topas wanting anti-radiation meds) which I was putting in before.
They decided to head to Berlichingen, and risk some speculative trade, taking some luxury goods as well as common electronics.
They also had potential passenger wanting high passage to Topas, who had some fragile cargo to take. Again, this was a reference to another NPC I rolled up, since the cargo was some paintings by the famous Islands artist Nigel Nikateema. The passenger was just a local rich guy called Felix Miller.
Another more complicated passenger was Clara Lang, a journalist who wanted to come aboard and do a piece on Zanobia and the rest of her colleagues, travelling with them to Serendip Belt. It would be her and her cameraman. At this point some players recalled one of the plots in the Expanse books concerning a journalist, which to be honest I’d sort of forgotten since it’s been so long since I read it. However, I now have been reminded.
They have quite a full ship now, so they needed to do some rejigging of sleeping arrangements. Madeline offered to share a room with Dr Williams, the Deepnight representative, and Khadashi jokingly (I think) offered her a place in his room. She thought about it for a moment, then accepted.
Once they thought they’d figured things out, they got a call from someone else – a Karen Moore who wanted a clandestine meeting with Zanbodia at a hotel. It was accepted, though Zanobia worried that it might be the Imperium-Truthers trying to kidnap her. It turned out to be the opposite – Ms Moore was the assistant of Michelle Mandeville, who had been receiving death threats from amongst her own followers due to a schism forming in the conspiracy theorists. Since Zanobia was very obviously not a fellow conspiracy theorist, she ironically felt that she could be trusted. Which meant two more people seeking passage on the Sex Thing, but they were offering Cr20,000 for getting her off-world quietly and quickly.
Whilst that was being sorted out, Shinzaro was sitting in the hotel bar downstairs keeping an eye out. That also gave her an opportunity to pick up any rumours, which meant trying out my new rumour display. Since I always end up copy and pasting them into the Roll20 chat anyway for the players to copy down, I figured sticking them into a proper and ‘prettier’ chat output would be better.
She picked up a number of rumours, including the one about the AI gone rogue. Shinzaro wasn’t sure about this one, since being an ex-corsair herself had heard of the Tide of Vengeance, but that was ~20 odd years ago over in the Trojan Reach.
❝Attractive young locals have been chatting up travellers at the starport, getting them drunk and taking them up to hotel rooms with the promise of sex. Instead, they’ve been drugging them and harvesting their organs.❞
❝The pirate ship Tide of Vengeance has been completely taken over by its computer AI and gone insane. It killed its crew a long time ago, and now lurks in the outer part of systems ready to Jump in and attack any soft targets.❞
Zanobia had also picked up some rumours during the week, partly when working at the hospitals.
❝There’s trouble brewing over in the Netherlands, with some dangerous falsehoods being spread by the rabble rouser Max Keller, blaming the government for spending too much on the military.❞
❝There is a biological research centre on the island of Gotland. Beset by year-round hurricane winds, it is very difficult to reach and performs top secret research into biological warfare.❞
❝There’s been another Terrorist bombing on Topas. They don’t know how to keep things under control, and they really need a strong government to go in and take charge. It’d be better for everyone concerned.❞
Not all rumours are true (or useful), but some are, and they allow me to put in foreshadowing for future events in case I want to make them a more important plot point.
Khadashi remembers to go and pick up some local artwork before they leave, selecting a miniature of “Marketplace in the Rain” for Cr1,300.
With their cargo and passengers sorted out (including some in low berths), they blasted off from Neubayern on 1106-141, and make the jump to Berlichingen. The time spent in flight is more dynamic than normal, with most of the crew being interviewed by Clara Lang, and dinner time ‘debates’ between Ms Mandeville and the others (about her beliefs, and her demands for organic (yes, it has carbon in it) chemical free (don’t be stupid) food). Only the old guy, Felix Miller, keeps quiet and out of them.
During the interviews, Khadashi wants to stay anonymous, but tries to paint a bad picture of the Imperium and what it gets up to. Shinzaro lies somewhat about her past (she was a Vargr Corsair, so probably doesn’t want to be too honest) and Madeleine uses the opportunity to bad mouth the Amondiage government.
By the time they reach Berlichingen they are probably ready to get rid of some of them. Madeleine checks the local market prices, and happily announces that they’re due to make a considerable profit.