Nuke the Ship From Orbit

The Deepnight Revelation is at the TL7 world of Otitdud, after following the radio broadcasts they had picked up from several parsecs away. It is home to a type of bipedal marsupial lizard people who are split into three major powers. Though they are TL 7, apart from some communication and spy satellites they seemed to have no interest in space travel or astronomy.

Aargkog, the most technical of the powers and the one most responsible for most of the communication satellites. It had access to a lot of resources, with big cities and lots of farmland. It was officially a democracy, though the same party had been in power for the last twenty years. The border with Narook to the south was heavily fortified, and tensions were on the rise.

Kalbag was a police state ruled by oligarchs. It had a high level of militarisation, and was on good terms with Narook.

Narook covered the southern pole, and was a democracy with a two party system. Both parties were pretty identical. The military was quite powerful, but they had poor resources.

Political Map of Otitdud

The northern pole was the realm of the Northern States, a collection of weak nations with shifting alliances. They had suffered the most in various nuclear wars, and were mostly a disorganised anarchy.

There was considerable discussion about whether the crew wanted to contact the planet, and if so how they would go about doing it. A lot of the player discussion involved wanting to ask the various experts aboard the ship on what plan they should use. From an in-world perspective, this makes a lot of sense since the various science teams should have pre-prepared plans for first contact scenarios.

From a game perspective though, this sort of things does result in me as GM telling the players what they should do, which feels like railroading and to some extent me playing a game with myself. I had hoped that this stopover would give the players more of a chance to get involved in the decision making process, but it didn’t quite work in that regard.

The issue isn’t that the players aren’t capable of coming up with ideas (they are), it’s that they are very sensible and cautious and will fall back on asking for advice and ideas from NPCs when they are available. Since the Deepnight is full of several hundred experts, many more experienced than the PCs when it comes to the mission, there is always someone available.

This is the aspect of the campaign that I struggle with running. I originally thought of the the Deepnight Revelation campaign as Ars Magica style troupe play. But in Ars Magica, the NPCs are generally less experienced and subservient to the PCs, so the PCs still continue to be the ones making decisions.

In the end though, the players did come up with some ideas of their own, which they decided to go with. They sent messages to the major governments, and arranged a meeting on an uninhabited island in the middle of nowhere. They even found a use for their smuggler Albrinn Moss, since they figured he would know what would be good to trade.

The locals, though they didn’t seem to have much concept of ‘aliens’, were quick to adapt to the new concept. The Otitdians were unimaginative, but not stupid or inflexible.

Several aircraft carrier fleets set sail for the island, and three ambassadors were sent to meet with the Travellers. Lord Leon Sivas was chosen as the Deepnight’s ambassador, but seemed incapable of rolling anything higher than a 7 (and with +2 Diplomacy, +2 SOC, managed to get only a 6 even with a boon).

Otitdean soldier, just in case.

There was some progress, and one nation offered to send some of their soldiers with the Deepnight on their mission, as a gesture of friendship and cooperation, but the Travellers rejected the idea.

It was then that the Deepnight, which was hovering in orbit above the meeting site, detected the launch of a couple of bombers from the Aargkog aircraft carrier. The Deepnight responded with a blast from its spinal mount particle beam. They missed, but still hit the general area. A large section of sea was vapourised, and the resulting thermal and concussive shock, plus EMP, took out the two planes. The carrier and a coupe of frigates were destroyed in the inrush of water and quickly sank.

With Aargkog and Kalbag on the verge of starting a shooting war at the meeting site, the Deepnight crew took the Narook ambassador aboard their ship’s boat and flew them to safety.

In the end, as war escalated between the two major nations, the Deepnight made a deal with the Narooks, obtaining supplies and swapping them for some advanced computer and communication technology.

By the time that the Deepnight was ready to leave, things had quietened down after the use of only a few nukes by either side. Though they seemed quick to select violence, as a species they also seemed to be capable of deescalating conflicts after blood had been drawn.

After Otitdud, the Deepnight Revelation headed towards the Hennlix nebula in Deepnight Sector. There was nothing special about the systems they went through, so I quickly skipped over them. The Nebula was one of the targets of scientific inquiry that the Deepnight had on its agenda.

The route would take them through it, stopping off at the system of Sheyi Quonid (Deepnight/2509). This had three gas giants, and a Lutian world – a terrestrial planet with a hot, barren surface and a thin nitrogen atmosphere.

Soon after arriving in the system, Shinzaro wandered up onto the bridge mumbling about having been here before.

The error of Tyovask was undone here. Tyovask awaits in penance.

— Shinzaro’s ramblings

She seemed fascinated with the Lutian world, but wasn’t sure why. However, her reaction was similar to when they had come across remnants of the ancient Droyne expedition before, so there was probably something of interest on this world that needed investigating.

Samuel Penn

3 Responses

  1. A great read as always.

    The players seem pretty trigger-happy; the Deepnight has an awful lot of weaponry they skipped over to use the spinal mount. Were the bombers really considered a threat?

    • To be honest, I think it was an NPC decision back on the ship. My own thought is most weapons can’t shoot through a full atmosphere at ground targets (or at least are greatly reduced in effectiveness), so it was easier to use the spinal mount. The bombers had nukes, and were considered a threat.