Bordered in Black

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The Deepnight Revelation is crossing Diamond Scatter sector, having just discovered an antimatter world in the system at Lure. Leaving there quickly, they head on towards the spinward edge of the sector. We pass through the campaign birthday during the trip, and for some characters it has now been eight years. so time for another ageing check. Khadashi loses a point off his END, but they are otherwise okay.

At Nomodi (0415) there is refuelling, and also a potential garden world where they can stock up on supplies. The ship has actually got down to 23 days of supplies, which is quite low. This is partly my fault since I’ve been tracking it but didn’t notice. They also have had a long stretch of uninhabitable worlds, which had just come to an end at a place where it should be possible to resupply, so it’s reasonably acceptable that they could get into this position. It’s not bad – 23 days is assuming full rations for everyone, so they could stretch it out longer if necessary. But it’s lower than the players are comfortable with.

Sending scouts towards Nomodo II, they spot a couple of unusual things. The first is that the seas are glowing – probably due to bioluminescence of some kind. The second is that the coastlines of the continents seem to have a dark border to them, which shows up warm in infrared.

Nomodi II from space

One of the players immediately jumped to the conclusion that this was a reference the Larry Niven story Bordered in Black, and it was.

The world of Nomodi II was covered with woodland, but no animal life other than insects. The exception were humanoids – an estimated five billion of them – living along the shorelines of all the major continents and islands. They were skinny, naked and almost mindless. They fed off the algae in the oceans and nothing else, seeking only food, sex and sleep as motivations.

The first scout ship landed near the middle of one of the continents, taking samples where they could, and keeping protected in environment suits. There was spore from the algae here, but it was dried out and dead. The nearby rivers and lakes were clear of the algae, it only seemed to inhabit the saltwater oceans.

Some experiments were performed on rats, which took an immediate liking to the algae from the oceans, but short exposure didn’t seem to cause long term harm. They did seem to prefer it to other foods though. Biological investigations showed that it was geared towards being incredibly tasty, but not very nutritious.

Further scouting of the planet discovered signs of a collapsed civilisation here – several hundred thousand years ago. There were just shadows of technological cities beneath the soil, including signs of possible nuclear power plants. Whoever had lived here had discarded their civilisation and reverted to barely animal levels of conscience.

The investigators guessed that the algae had been genetically created as a food, but something had gone wrong. It had escaped into the environment, and polluted the entire ecosystem until nothing wanted to eat anything other than it.

Though the world was based on the Niven short story, the players dug into the details of what had actually caused the situation in as much detail as they could. I hadn’t really thought too hard about this when making my notes, but came up with a mostly coherent series of events during the game. The players weren’t too far off from what had happened. An attempt to bio-engineer a new fast food that both tasted really good and was also really cheap and easy to produced worked too well. When it escaped from the lab, it eventually caused the collapse of civilisation and also other animal groups.

It was decided that restocking supplies from Nomodi would be a really bad idea, so they needed a plan. I was decided to head backwards by a jump to a system that showed positive evidence of a healthy biosphere at Psagipu 0817.

As it turned out, it was a perfectly normal world, with a low tech civilisation of ant-like creatures. They had sailing ships and gunpowder, but little else in terms of technology. They were mostly avoided, and the Deepnight was able to restock on supplies.

From there, they went back to Nomodi, then to Agiw 0212 where there was a NecroGaian world – life had been wiped out by the onset of an oxygen atmosphere, then the world froze.

After Agiw it was time to move to the new sector of Pytheas, when they jumpe to Uwas Major at 3211. Again there was a civilisation here – a steampunk society of ape-like people.

With the arrival of the Deepnight at a new sector, it was time for another update on shipboard rumours and events:

Ship Status

Following the reboot and reinstall of the ships computer systems, it was discovered that one of the storage arrays on computer 3 was corrupt. There is enough redundancy in the capacity for this not to be a problem for now.

In related news, several crew members are complaining that they lost some of their settings after the reboot. It seems to be just minor UX preferences. Nothing serious has been discovered lost.

One of the two particle barbettes which were added to the ship after leaving port has developed a flaw. It has an overheating problem in the electronics which means it requires a short cool down period after being fired. There are no replacement parts for it.


Moving into Pytheas sector, the plan is to begin moving closer to the Rift. This will put us in a better position to scan for possible crossing points.


Inkerungzi has given birth to three darling little Vargr puppies.


A couple of crew members have come down with a virus which put them out for a few days. It’s a new virus, probably picked up from a world visited a few months ago. Investigation determined that it had lain dormant until a mutation allowed it to thrive in a human body. The two are currently in quarantine until they are proven to be clean. They were a cohabiting couple, and there are no signs that it spread beyond them.

A new trend has started called Birthday Buddies. Those who share a birthday get together to know each other better, to break some of the cliques that have formed amongst the crew. This seems to be working well, though some think it is an excuse to get to ‘know’ each other.

There are just under a hundred pairings, with a further 40 groups of three, a dozen groups of 4 and half a dozen groups of 5.

Samuel Penn

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