Splitting the Party

This session of Traveller was our first with a new player, so we started things off with character generation. It only took half an hour or so to run through, and I think doing it during the session rather than before gave everyone else a bit more of a chance to know the character, as well as putting the focus on the new player right at the start.

So Dr Howard Carter, an archaeologist working at the research site on Pryme V, requested to join the Deepnight mission and was invited aboard after being given the usual briefing on the length of the mission. As a scientist with experience working in the scout core, with a background in archaeology and planetology, he’s probably going to be a useful asset to the team. He also comes with his own pinnace, the Tutankhamun, which is outfitted with archaeological equipment. He actually rolled a lab ship, but that’s not going to be useful on the voyage so I allowed him to swap it out for a pinnace.

After that, we were ready to begin. I’ve fleshed out a couple of worlds in the Outrim Void as the next items of interest, with an expectation that we’d skip ahead to those relatively quickly. There were two options, and the plan was to give the players a choice of which route to take and therefore which one to explore. I’ve been playing with Dungeondraft to come up with some quick location maps, so had an idea to get the players down to a planet’s surface and do some research. As it happens, the players not only went ahead and chose both options, but also found a third option.

The next stop on the journey was Albe, a binary star system where the main world is an overpopulated desert world ecologically destroyed by nuclear and biological warfare a thousand years ago at the fall of the Empire of Sindal.

It has gas giants there, but there are also worlds around the secondary star, including a small Meso Arean world which at first glance is actually more habitable than the main world.

The system map showed that both the gas giant (a Poseidonic jovian world with a large amount of water vapour in the atmosphere) and the dwarf terrestrial world were well within the jump mask of the star – something that happens a lot with small dwarf stars.

The Deepnight would need to come out of jump some 40Mkm from the star, and then fly into the inner system. This would provide ample opportunity for the science team to take a smaller ship to the habitable world in order to spend some time exploring it.

Further looking into the details of the world showed that its biosphere is deadly to humans – most of the life forms contain deadly neurotoxins making the place uninhabitable. The players thought that this might be a more interesting place to go to than the main world, then one of them noticed some of the random descriptive text that my world generator creates, and the destination was decided.

Albe Beta I

Type: Meso Arean (Dwarf)
Habitability: II (Harsh)
Distance: 11 Mkm
Year: 12 days 16 hours
Radius: 3,477km
Length of Day: 12 hours 14 minutes
Gravity: 4.9ms-2 (Ve = 5.8kms-1)
Atmosphere: 83% Std Standard
Temperature 324 K (51°C)
Hydrographics: 25%
Life: Simple Land

A great ocean splits Albe Beta I in two, running around the equator like a giant river. In some of the old high altitude caves there are unusual patterns on the walls, depicting astronomical patterns.

I hadn’t actually noticed the text description, so this was a surprise to me, which meant I had to start thinking furiously about what was actually there. I had thought there might be a desire to stop here and grab some samples, but hadn’t considered putting anything specific at Albe.

So the captain had the bridge plot a course to the small companion star, and they prepared for an expedition down to the surface. Whilst in jump, there was a bit of a commotion in the ship’s canteen as the two scientists Dr Rusasa and Dr Nekuna had an argument. The details came out in the daily mission team briefing, when Dr Rusasa presented some information on the red zone world of 985-373, and suggested making a detour to there. Dr Nekuna had found out something about the world which he was interested in, but hadn’t wanted to be actually involved in any expedition there since it could be dangerous. He’d passed the information to Dr Rusasa, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to resist.

The latest scandal surrounding Umbrella Pharmaceuticals comes out of their Delta 4 lab at Hrabl Utos. The leaked documents report that samples of a new nano-plague escaped from their labs and wiped out all rodents on the island within weeks. The company denies all responsibility for the event, and blames the incident on a plague that came in via a tramp freighter from Velscur.

For a company that claims that it is Dedicated to bringing you the very latest in biological and chemical threat avoidance systems, it has been involved in a lot of scandals over the last few years. The latest leak talks of a nano swarm capable of target specific species of animals, identifying them by their generic fingerprint. It is thought that it is being developed for the Sindalian government, along with a variety of other bioweapons.

The world of 985-373 was another victim of the fall of the Empire of Sindal, and had been pretty much destroyed in nuclear and biological war. The information that Dr Nekuna had found suggested that nano-plagues capable of targeting specific species had been developed there, and that the labs might still be accessible. Given the nature of the world, it would be dangerous but it might also provide something that could be used against the entity, should it be encountered again.

Given that 985-373 didn’t have a gas giant (something I’d overlooked), plotting a route there wasn’t simple. Eventually they came up with a route via Tlazolteotl, Gabriel and Velscur. which would take them past the other scenario I had planned.

With a slightly longer route plotted, they came out of jump at Albe. The Deepnight headed off towards the gas giant, whilst a small away team headed towards the terrestrial world in a handful of ships. This was the entire point of having multiple characters per player – everyone can have an ‘away team’ member and a ‘bridge crew’ member, to give everyone a reason to get involved in things regardless of whether its delving into ruins on a planet, or plotting the course of the ship.

Since it was getting late at this point, it was a good point to stop, which gives me a bit more time to come up with what they’re going to find there.

With a new player in the group, everyone seemed to get on well enough, and it gives the group a slightly different dynamic. With the run up to xmas though, I’m not certain who will be around and when, so there will probably be a need to skip some weeks. We might get a session next week, otherwise the next session will probably be in the new year.

Samuel Penn