The Pyramids of Tlazolteotl

We were expecting five players for our Traveller game this week, but had four. One of our previous players, who had needed to drop out from regular play due to real life had been able to join us for a session this week.

We had a bit of a recap for the players who had missed the previous session, which led to further discussion about the route ahead, and how to get to Goblin’s Planet. I (in the persona of the Captain) suggested that rather than delaying the journey of the Deepnight Revelation, a small team could head off in a smaller ship to Goblin’s Planet, then meet up with the Deepnight at the bottom of the Correllan League.

Details would need to be worked out, due to the Deepnight being J-4 and the small craft being J-2, but since a layover was planned in the Correllan League for any required repairs or refits, then there might be time for a side adventure. I’ll need to come up with an astrogation plan for the routes.

Ice moon around Kydde III

After leaving Albe, the Deepnight made the J-4 trip to Kydde, arriving at the innermost gas giant Kydde III. They had had a large leaving party during the jump, since they were now outside of Imperium space and wouldn’t be returning for over twenty years. The gas giant of Kydde III had a scout base and was controlled by the Imperium, so it was still reasonably friendly.

They spent a few days here, and caught up on local rumours at the scout base:

  • There is a desire to try and catch some of the Braudel Zombies for study. A group of scientists believe that there are psionically talented ‘Grandmothers’ behind the sudden outbreaks of mass aggression.
  • A full mapping of 985-373 still hasn’t been completed. Orbital scans have come back corrupted, there seems to be active defences still in operation that block scans of some of the ruins.
  • The ancient ruins on Floria are worth seeing. Huge stone edifices that go down and up. Huge halls of spiralling columns, with living electronics still active within. Not actually seeming to do anything, but the Florians seem to be able to still get them to perform magic on occasion.

From there it was a Jump-4 to Thalassa, a water world, though they got nowhere near it and headed straight for the gas giant. Thalassa is a completely independent system, with some risk of piracy, but no-one was going to bother the 75,000t Deepnight Revelation.

From Thalassa they jump to Tlazolteotl, only 1 parsec distant. I was trying to speed things up a bit, so it was good to get through a couple of systems quickly where not much happened. Tlazolteotl had been one system I had considered having something interesting happen, with a reason for stopping off at it. I’d actually come up with some tactical maps whilst learning Dungeoncraft, and had got as far as importing them into Roll20 before deciding against it.

Tlazolteotl is another one of the worlds that was part of the Sindalian Empire which had suffered under heavy nuclear and biological warfare during the Long Night. The culture that had arisen from the ashes had deliberately modelled itself on Aztec culture, worshipping the Sun God who they held responsible for the destruction of the previous high tech civilisation (all detailed in the Trojan Reach book by Mongoose). It was now back up to TL 7 – so nuclear power, aircraft and oil guzzling cars.

My actual plan hadn’t been for much to happen here, but the players decided that Tlazolteotl surrounded interesting and they wanted to stop off and have a look around. As it happens, both the main world and the two gas giants are within the star’s jump mask, so the Deepnight was having to come out of jump in the outer part of the system, then fly through the mask to one of the gas giants to refuel.

This gave the players a chance to head off in the It’s A Sex Thing and head for the main world which sits just outside the asteroid belt and was currently on the route to one of the gas giants. It’s a small red dwarf star, so it’s a small system. So they put together an away team, and headed off to do their own thing.

Tlazolteotl star system

The world is technically a cold desert, with almost no precipitation and no liquid surface water. However, there is a huge amount of water bound up in the biomass, kept liquid through natural anti-freeze that is present in nearly all the species of native plants and animals here. With a bit of processing, drinkable water isn’t too hard to come by. The locals aren’t that friendly, and the local priest hood that acts as the world’s government doesn’t like too much interference in local affairs by outsides. So though it welcomes some off-world trade, the starport is surrounded by a DMZ that ensures any contact between locals and outsiders is limited.

Tlazolteotl

The starport within the DMZ is just a small D-class, with nothing much more exciting than an Astroburger for providing refreshment. A lot of the locals seem to be wearing flamboyant head dresses, combined with thick cold weather clothing. The Sex Thing sells some machine parts and electronics from its own stores, and buys some local consumables – mostly food stuffs which are unique to this world.

Khadashi does his normal search for interesting art objects, and does find some nice stone carvings.

Whilst they are looking around the starport, I decide that I could run the side adventure after all, and mention rumours about high tech activity around one of the pyramids. Known as Boltan’s Pyramid by the scout service, or PirĂ¡mide de las Estrellas by the locals, it is a typical stepped pyramid above which has sometimes been seen a blue haze.

Apparently a scout crew tried to explore it a few years ago, but their ship was shot down by locals with RPGs who really don’t like visitors – especially when they seem to be trying to despoil their local spiritual points of interest.

There are various stories about it floating around at the starport, which vary from it being built above an old meson battery, to it being one of the famed Sindalian Vaults which contains some stolen artefacts from the Florian League. Getting permission to explore it from the local government isn’t practical.

So the player’s come up with a plan to try and sneak it without anyone noticing. Though the planet is considered ‘low tech’, it’s still got mid to late 20th century technology – so they have radar, fighter jets and weapons capable of causing serious damage. The plan they come up with is to start by surveying the site from orbit, and maybe dropping down on grav belts which hopefully won’t be noticed.

For the orbital survey, I decide to allow them to see the tactical map I prepared earlier. It’s a stepped pyramid design, inside a wooden palisade only a few kilometres from a nearby town.

Shinzaro gets a bad roll on her sensor operations, so just detects an electric disturbance 5-10 kilometres above the pyramid – some sort of blue haze.

That immediately makes people think of Cherenkov radiation, and that probably means the site is incredibly dangerous. However, there’s no rays coming up from the pyramid – it’s just an aura well above it.

It’s decided that this might be compatible with a meson gun of some type misfiring from beneath the site – it could be hitting the atmosphere and exciting the air.

A second attempt to scan in a later orbit gets better results, picking up what appears to be fragmentary transmissions from about a kilometre beneath the pyramid. By this point the blue aura has also vanished.

Whatever is going on there is changing over time.

At this point I decided to call it a night. I had drawn up some maps of the place as part of my attempts to learn Dungeondraft, but haven’t really decided what is actually beneath the site. So I decided that it would be easier to continue things next week to give me a chance to think up what is actually down there.

The crew are going down in full battledress, which means they shouldn’t be at risk, but might also mean I have an excuse to put in something quite nasty as part of old defence systems. Or maybe it’s an empty ruin. We’ll have to see next week.

Samuel Penn

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