We Will Jump

What with work, illness and broken computers we’ve had a three week gap for our Deepnight Revelation campaign, but we managed to get back together this week. It was only a short session, since my throat started to give up part way through, but we at least got something done.

Remembering what happened four weeks ago can be a challenge, but fortunately my players keep a diary (which they call The Exciting Voyages of the Sex Thing) which greatly aids in remembering. We’ve done similar things for other campaigns, and generally use a Google Doc since it allows everyone to contribute simultaneously. Usually though it’s just one or two players who are the bulk contributors.

In our previous session the Deepnight had rescued a stranded alien, Akranika, a member of the Thinker caste from a nearby star faring civilisation who called themselves the Alikaia.

During the break, I’d written up a list of things that the crew had been getting up to, and I’ve decided to turn it into a semi-regular in-game journal called Into the Deep. I intend to make these available on a semi-regular basis to provide some life to the ship and crew.

The Deepnight‘s plan was to make the four parsec jump to Ami, and from there to the Alikaia homeworld of Alikernz. The jump went smoothly, and seven days later they came out of jump 100 diameters from the outermost gas giant. Immediately they picked up radio signals from a nearby source – possibly lots of nearby sources. They seemed to be distress signals, and they were coming from Alikaia ships.

Some further scanning narrowed things down to one single ship – there were just multiple broadcasts coming from it, as if they didn’t have the concept of organising communications under a single set of operators. The ship had lost power to its main drive, and was diving into the atmosphere of the gas giant.

The ringed jovian world of Ami III

So, it’s a bit unlikely that the PCs come out of jump just in time to save the ship, but it’s part of the published adventure and there’s some good reasons to give the crew the opportunity to rush in and save the day. It’s also means they’ve now encountered two Alikaia ships, both of which have mis-jumped and need rescuing. The timing was one thing, the orbital mechanics I was a bit more worried about. The Alikaia ship had about 4 hours before it hit the top of the atmosphere, and the Deepnight could get there in 5 hours if they used their full 6g thrust, or 7 hours if they kept it to 4g. There is a standing plan that they only use 6g in emergencies, in order to keep the full capabilities of the ship secret to any observers.

Another deviation from the actual adventure – the Deepnight as written only has a 4g drive. The other 2g has been sacrificed for some special ‘deep space manoeuvre system’ that allows it to manoeuvre when more than 1,000 diameters from a planet or star.

Why does it need this? Apparently, in some versions of Traveller the M-Drive is limited to only working within 1,000 diameters of a gravity well, but this was never mentioned in the Mongoose rules until the Deepnight Revelation campaign. My campaign has had a lot of activity in the outer parts of star systems (outposts in Kuiper belts or Oort clouds is a staple of science fiction), so bringing in this rule would break consistency for my campaign. So I ignored it and allow the Deepnight its full 6g of thrust.

After hitting the atmosphere, the Alikaia would take about 90 minutes to traverse the far side of the planet, and should (assuming they survive) be coming out of the atmosphere around the time the Deepnight arrives under full thrust. So they head in at full thrust to maximise their time to save the crew.

Most of the rescue was abstracted, since the PCs mostly kept back and let the flight division do what it does best. Shiiguma did fly a ship in and try to rescue one of the Breeders. It was terrified, and didn’t want to get into a vacc suit. So they stunned it and put it into a rescue ball, getting it to safety.

I do like the journal feature in FoundryVTT, it’s a lot more flexible than in Roll20

They were running out of time though, and the ship was beginning to catch the upper wisps of the atmosphere again. It was then that a message was broadcast – we will jump!. Afraid that they were going to try to use the jump drives deep inside the gravity well, the crew of the Deepnight prepared to get clear. But then all the remaining airlocks burst open, and hundreds of Alikaia came jumping out, most of them in vacc suits. The Deepnight was able to manoeuvre to catch most of them on its hull, where they were able to grab hold and clamber into the safety of the docking bays.

By the time the colony ship started to break apart in the Jovian’s atmosphere, about 550 of the 1,500 crew had been saved. Most importantly, all 6 of the colony breeders were safe.

The next problem was going to be life support now that the crew compliment had been more than doubled. They didn’t have much choice other than to refuel and jump to the Alikaia homeworld as quickly as possible, in order to drop them off.

Their friendly Alikaia, the thinker Akranika, helped communicate with the rescued crew and organise them ready for the journey. There was talk of the ship having been deliberately sabotaged, which meant that someone had tried to kill Breeders – something unthinkable to Akranika. Getting the Breeders calmed down and safe, and marvelling at the technology of the Deepnight was keeping the Alikaia occupied full time though, and there wasn’t too much more thought given to it.

Seven days later, they came out of jump with the life support systems needing a good scrub down. The Alikaia homeworld was before them. It was a garden world, with a small amount of orbital infrastructure and plenty of cities spread across its surface. Questions soon started to arrive about who the visitors were – but Akranika was able to explain, and soon offers of friendship and trade were being made by pretty much every city on the planet.

But not all the cities. The bridge crew soon spotted that there was one region of the planet where communication wasn’t being received from. A few hours of monitoring also showed that whilst there was plenty of radio traffic between all the cities, this one region seemed cut off from the rest.

Communications map of Alikherrnz

Akranika and the other Alikaia aboard the ship weren’t aware of anything unusual about the cities there. The largest was Kadiaz, but the Alikaia didn’t have a concept of countries or factions. The largest unit was a city, and even they tended to be split into groups loyal to their Breeder.

Kadiaz though seemed to be the centre of some communications web that didn’t spread much beyond the borders of the region.

Soon though a communication did come from Kadiaz – a request to meet with the we-not-them, and to win favour with their queens-gods. The Deepnight crew wonder whether there was a different type of Breeder at Kadiaz – one which was not merely an animal but something which had actual intelligence and was more organised. The cities of the region seemed to be more heavily militarized as well – again something that Akranika was completely unaware of.

Samuel Penn

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