The Hennlix Nebula

We missed our usual gaming last week due to work commitments, back we were back to Traveller last night. The Deepnight Revelation had reached the Hennlix Nebula, which was one of the waypoints on their journey. It was expected to be an interesting location to visit for the scientists, but turned out to be interesting for a whole load of different reasons.

The previous session had ended with Shinzaro getting overwhelmed with visions of the Droyne having been here. There was, she was certain, something on the second world of the system that needed to be investigated. It should be noted that this session covers one of the Deepnight Revelation campaign set pieces, so contains massive spoilers. You have been warned.

To add to the complications, the engineering department reported that the jump drive was starting to show signs of stress. Nothing serious yet, but they’d need to take a bit of care when making jumps. Several years without a major overhaul was taking its toll on the ship. The plan was to fund somewhere safe where they could offload the crew, and do a refit themselves. This would need to be in a few jumps time.

The Deepnight campaign does have charts and tables to track the deterioration of the ship over the course of its journey. Mostly I’ve been running these in the background, just mentioning when bad things happen. Most of what goes wrong can be fixed by engineering, so it hasn’t been a big issue. This is the first time a major system has run into problems.

Whilst the Deepnight was refuelling, and engineering were running their jump drives through some basic tests just to be sure, the Travellers took the Sex Thing to the second world of the system to investigate what was there. The planet was a barren world, though showed signs of having seas in the past. There was also a lot of fracturing beneath the crust, and evidence of massive melting on the surface. This world had been hit by meteorites in the not too distant past. Several of them, each big enough to cause massive die offs.

One spot on the world was reflecting their deep scan attempts, which made it an obvious contender for investigation.

The Killy-Death-Bot probe

They initially sent their Killy-Death-Bot down to investigate, finding a doorway into a cliff flanked by a couple of conical monuments covered in carvings which seemed to portray a series of events:

  • A ship in space
  • A droyne taking some plant samples
  • Trees covered in fungus
  • Asteroid impacts
  • A Droyne kneeling
  • Trees

The usual exploration team went down to the surface, led by Khadashi in Battledress. Zanobia and Trennance were also equipped with Battledress, with everyone else in standard vacc suits. Dr Nekuna had also been persuaded to go along, as had Vania one of the mission scientists. They were accompanied by three security personnel and Alfred, since his telepathic ability might turn out to be useful.

The door was still powered, with an electronic panel with numbered buttons that had to be pressed in a certain sequence to open the door. Dr Nekuna figured out to press the prime numbers (I had assumed the players would try this combination, but they instead tried simple sequences or numbers like Pi. I didn’t want to spend too much time on this, so had the NPC figure it out), and the door opened revealing a small airlock.

Khadashi went in himself first, closing the door behind him. He was bathed in strong UV light for several minutes, then the inner door opened and he was presented with a long tunnel, sloping gently downwards. They had figured out that UV light killed the spores of the Entity long ago, so this seemed like the builders of this place had the same idea in mind. After about 500m it reached another door. Confident that at least this part of things was safe, Khadashi headed back to the others, and they all went through the airlock.

The door at the far end opened into a huge oval chamber, which was empty apart from more pictorial descriptions of what had happened around the walls. From what they could tell, the Droyne had come here and accidentally spread the infection that was the Entity, and had then been forced to cleanse this world and others.

The whole chamber was crafted from smooth rock, which glowed with its own light. Pulses of UV light occasionally flowed along the walls, but there were patches where the light wasn’t as strong. Whatever systems had been put in place when the site had been constructed were beginning to fail.

A final door led further inside – and into a massive chamber, big enough to hold large greenhouses filled with vegetation. Some of the greenhouses were broken, with the vegetation spilling out. Light illuminated the whole space, but again there were spots where the lighting was failing.

Around the sides of the kilometre wide chamber were doors leading to sealed sections, each larger than this central room. They showed biomes in different stages of infection – some were healthy, in others the Entity had overwhelmed all living things, and some were dead or dying.

Zanobia realised that they showed the stages of infection. The entity would rapidly overwhelm an ecosystem, consuming everything that was available until nothing was left. At this point it would die out, going into forced dormancy. Whatever was behind its motivations, there was nothing from stopping it from over consuming.

At the centre of the chamber there was a dias, on which there was a pod. The team carefully approached the pod, and saw that inside was a Droyne – though one that seemed heavily infected by the Entity. As Khadashi tried to look inside, the Droyne opened its eyes, and then everyone’s heads were filled with images and sounds.

The telepathic communication was overwhelming, and caused everyone pain. Khadashi took this as an attack, and opened up on the pod with his laser rifle, damaging it, but not breaking the containment. Zanobia was somewhat miffed by this, and really didn’t want the pod being damaged. She tried to calm Khadashi down, who was panicking somewhat at the thought of being telepathically attacked.

As she was succeeding in calming Khadashi, one of the security team asked “Can we start panicking about them?“, pointing towards a large quadruped that had pushed its way out of the foliage that was spilled out of the nearby greenhouse. It had a sickly skin, and its head was a mass of writhing tentacles. Several more of the creatures appeared, tasting the ground and moving to surround the crew.

Our first Foundry combat

And so the crew began a retreat back to the surface. Zanobia, who was carrying a plasma jet, was the most effective at keeping the entity-controlled creatures in check, burning large regions of both vegetation and creatures with each blast. Those in battledress were reasonably safe, but nobody wanted to stay around long enough to see just how long they could stand up to things.

This was our first real combat in Foundry, and it went reasonably well. There are some bugs that I need to work out (it’s not working out when things are dead, and armour has to be set at the character level, it can’t be set on individual tokens), but it worked.

Alfred managed to hear the Droyne’s cries to be killed, as well as some hints about how best to destroy the whole site, and relayed the first to Zanobia. A blast from the plasma-jet took out the Droyne, burning him and the entity embedded in him.

The flight back to the surface went relatively smoothly, and once back at the Sex Thing they put in a request for a large explosive device. Preferably a nuke.

Since the time was now quite late, we decided to end things there. Sitting aboard the safety of the Sex Thing, they began to sort through the memories that they had been given. The Droyne in question had been Tyovask, a scientist that had accidentally infected this world and several others whilst experimenting with a counter-agent against the entity. The worlds had needed to be purified by the Droyne, and in punishment he had been left here to monitor how the Entity infected hosts, using himself as the experiment.

The thought of a counter-agent meant Zanobia now wanted to go back in and take some decent samples before destroying the place, which would be trickier but probably worth it in the long run.

Samuel Penn