Going Home

In this session, after 18 months away from the Imperium, the crew of the It’s A Sex Thing get to return back to the Imperium, arriving at the world of Cyclone on the Imperium side of the border in Reft sector, pretty much ending the Islands in the Rift campaign. We’ll be continuing the campaign with the same ship and characters, but it won’t really be focused on the New Islands and Old Islands sub-sectors in Reft anymore.

Leaving New Colchis with a full hold of cargo and a number of passengers, the Travellers headed to Besancon, where they came out of jump in the middle of a red alert. An accused pirate was being chased off by system defence boats over the other side of the planet. The Sky Dancer had made an attack on a trader, then fled as the system defences kicked in. I did want to give a chance of a bit of excitement, though the PCs were entirely free to ignore or involve themselves as much as they wanted.

This was all happening well away from the It’s A Sex Thing, but then another trader, the subsidised merchant Grasshopper (which was heading towards the 100 diameter limit, in the general direction of the Sex Thing) put out a public broadcast asking the Far Trader Grey Mongoose to hold back and that it was approaching too closely. The crew of the Sex Thing switch on their sensors and scan closely to see what’s happening, and note the Grey Mongoose is warming up its missile and laser turrets. Shortly thereafter, the Grasshopper gives out a distress call that they are being targeted as several salvos of missiles are launched in their direction.

The Sex Thing doesn’t approach, but continues to monitor the situation, watching as the Grey Mongoose attacks and destroys the mostly defenceless Grasshopper. It’s pretty obvious that it’s not a simple pirate attack, since there is no attempt to stop and retrieve cargo. Instead it’s a full out attack aimed at destroying the ship and its crew. Though military vessels further out in the system attempt to close in, the Grey Mongoose accelerates past the wreck and reaches the jump limit long before anyone else can get close – and jumps out leaving behind a gutted wreck.

Now that it seemed safe, and since the It’s A Sex Thing was the closest ship to the wreck, they accelerated to match velocities. I ran this narratively rather than using the Traveller combat rules, because I’m not sure that I like the starship combat rules in Mongoose Traveller. They don’t take velocity into account – so the Grasshopper which had been accelerating towards the jump limit in the direction of the Sex Thing was no longer accelerating, but it still had a high relative velocity which the Sex Thing would need to match before they could intercept it.

This is a crucial part of space combat to me – relative velocities, but the core rules completely ignore it. You use thrust to move towards a target, but as soon as you stop thrusting you stop moving towards it. Two ships accelerating towards each other over several rounds can just suddenly come to an instant relative stop. I realise that doing it ‘properly’ can be difficult in an RPG without getting into a lot of vector maths (which is easier to do in a wargame where use of models and a tape measure are expected), but the rules leave me feeling underwhelmed.

What I am looking at is implementing something in Roll20 to keep track of ship positions and vectors, with a re-scaling map to handle both long range and short range combat. It’s not quite ready yet though, and I need to think about how to best use it in a game, since there’s still the complexity of visualising how to match velocities.

Anyway, the crew manage to get over to the wreck and perform an EVA to look for any survivors. They find evidence of at least five crew, though only four are found. Two are very dead, two in critical condition, and Zanobia manages to get them about the ship and stabilise them.

Khadashi has a poke around the wreck and finds evidence that this might be a spy ship, since there’s a lot of sensor equipment on board (and much of the writing is in French, which would point to Amondiage or Joyeuse. By the time the military vessels turn up (the nearest is a frigate from New Colchis), they are able to hand the survivors over and head on to the starport where they are questioned by starport security about what they saw, but are basically thanked for their help. The general view at the starport was that it was some type of hit, rather than an actual pirate attack, but by the time they leave, there aren’t many clues as to the reasons for the attack.

This wasn’t meant to be something that the PCs could solve themselves (unless they really wanted to start digging deeply into things) – just an event that happened, the reason for which would probably go unknown for some time. How much they wanted to get involved was their own choice.

So at Besancon they sell their cargo, buy some more and head out on a two jump journey to New Home.

Route from New Colchis to the Imperium
Route from New Colchis to the Imperium

On arrival at New Home they are in time to catch the Saint Charles, a 50,000t J-4 jump tender. For the cheap price of Cr120,000, they can catch a lift to Amondiage. Not only does it save them a week, they can also make a decent profit carrying jump-4 freight. So it’s a jump to Amondiage, where they spend a few days picking up rumours:

  • Some military ships have recently left for Acadie, and the rumour is that a big crack down on the rebels there is planned.
  • The Deepnight debacle was just an excuse for Neubayern to cosy up with the Imperium, and obtain some favourable deals with General Products. What with GsbAG providing support to Serendip Belt, this is a sign that the Imperium is turning against Amondiage.
  • A group claiming to be members of the Universal Siblinghood of Disunity have claimed the murder of Charles Gedron, a reporter who leaked information about corruption in several major corporations. They claim that spreading secrets will hasten the end of the universe.

Madeleine is somewhat upset by the news of the attack on Acadie, since that where she’s from originally. She doesn’t consider that place her home anymore though, and Khadashi does a pretty good job of consoling her. The next jumps are to Riftspan Station and then to Cyclone, continuing their use of the Saint Charles.

Shortly after arriving at the Imperium world of Cyclone, they notice something of interest on the local news channels.

The Deepnight Revelation has just successfully completed its first jump trials at Rampart with all systems functioning. Captain Kusim Iodiishi has said that the jumps went smoothly and without a hitch, demonstrating that the refits have been a complete success. The ship is expected to be ready to leave for the edge of charted space within the next few months, heading out on its 10 year mission to the very end of the Great Rift. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be broadcasting interviews with those who are dedicating their lives to this adventure.

In other news… the Zhodani threat – is another war avoidable?

— The latest news at Cyclone

This gives them a bit more information about to expect for the Deepnight expedition, and the expected length of the journey. By now they’ve actually accumulated quite a bit of extra cash from the trading they’ve done, and they’ve managed to shave a few weeks off their trip, so they will have some time to get their ship upgraded before meeting the deadline of getting to Egurgadi for their mission.

To be honest, the insertion of the news story about the Deepnight mission was more for the NPCs than for the PCs. Soon afterwards, Madeleine has a private chat with Zanobia, to ask her to perform a small operation to have an implant removed.

Samuel Penn

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