Death Slugs and Chirpers

Back to our Traveller game for the new year, we picked up with an away team heading in to investigate a world in the Albe (Trojan Reach / 2211) system right on the border of Imperium space. Physically, it’s a habitable but slightly dry and hot world. Biologically, most of the native life forms are incredibly toxic to humans.

The world was known to have some old cave paintings up in the high mountains, so the crew of the Deepnight Revelation wanted to take a quick look whilst the main ship was re-fuelling at the local gas giant. Given that both worlds were inside the star’s jump mask, it didn’t complicate things for a couple of small ships to split off and head off for their investigation after the Deepnight came out of jump.

The pinnace the Tutankhamun came into land on the shores of a mountain lake, which was bathed under the red light of the local star. Which was an excuse to try out the coloured lighting effects in Roll20. It was also an excuse to try out the use of Dungeondraft for drawing a map. Dungeondraft definitely makes things a lot quicker which cuts down on prep time, which is good. They probably look a bit better than what I’d do by hand as well.

I gave them some NPCs as well, mostly to help start fleshing out some of the team members on the expedition and try to give a sense that they are part of something bigger, rather than just a group of individuals doing their own thing.

This also gave me an opportunity to feed in information and clues as needed by having NPCs come up with ideas, though in the end it was mostly just needed to help confirm when the players were on the right track.

They sent a remote probe into the cave system, which was the safe and sensible thing to do. Setting up a probe token that all the players had control over meant they could all see the map as the probe explored the place.

They went in during the day (a day on the world was only 12 hours), which meant all the insects were in the cave sheltering from the outside heat. However, nothing bothered the probe. It did locate a couple of giant (one metre long) ‘slugs’, but they were busy munching on insects. Truthfully, even if the crew had gone in themselves, nothing would have been much of a threat. Nothing was really capable of getting through a Vacc Suit, and nothing was particularly intelligent, so as long as they were taking a basic level of care they would be fine. Traveller isn’t D&D where everything needs to be suitably threatening.

They found an old (couple of decades) campsite, some graves, a chirper skeleton in an acidic pool and some paintings.

One seemed to be a crew count, another possibly some mountains with machinery beneath and the third possibly a stellar map. The map was eventually matched to a region in The Beyond sector, in Spinward Drift, Ghost Rift and Siren subsectors. There seemed to be lines coming from (or to) the quintuple star system of Turtsirho to Nubb, Goblin Planet and Point Null.

A lot of player time was spent discussing what the paintings possibly meant, who wrote them and why. They dated to about 2,000 years ago.

There was also something in the nearby lake, which a couple of them went down to investigate. It seemed to be the wreck of a spacecraft of some type, maybe around 100t in size. It dated to the same time as the paintings, and was in a really bad state. Most of the hull seemed to have been made from titanium steel alloys, and was mostly rusted away.

What seemed to be the wreck of a jump drive though was made of much higher tech material – molecular bonded material. Whatever it was had been put together from a variety of spare parts.

They finished the water exploration as night fell, and noticed that swarms of insects were flying out of the cave. It was decided going in at night might be safer, so in they went. The graves had been disturbed about 20 years ago, and the campsite was from the same period. The four graves contained Solomani – two men and two women. They showed signs of malnutrition and violence, and dated to about 2,000 years ago. Taking some samples for further analysis later they reburied them.

The conclusion was there was a group of 8 humans and 3 chirpers (or Droyne – the skeletal remains seemed to be chirper) that had arrived on a cobbled together spacecraft about two thousand years ago. The group probably came from “The Beyond” sector, but why isn’t known.

The remains of the high tech jump drive were lifted out of the lake and taken back to the Deepnight Revelation for further research. There is discussion about trying to head to Ghost Rift, to investigate the worlds in the paintings. This will take them slightly out of their way, but not too far. A decision won’t need to be made on that until they leave the Florian League.

With the research team’s work completed, and the Deepnight by now fully refuelled, they prepare for a jump to their next destination to Kydde (Trojan Reach / 1810), which will take them out of Imperium Space.

Samuel Penn