Weird Life

After a session at the system of Ajum Minor, it is time for the Deepnight Revelation to head off with its new crew members. The first couple of systems are quite – they come out of jump near a gas giant, refuel and do a bit of scanning, then jump on to the next system. A decision is made to try and keep a low profile in case there are any Black Ships still in the vicinity. This reduces the amount of sensor scanning that they do.

At the third world of Ehese, there is a Necro Gaian world. These are terrestrial worlds that could have been Earth like (or maybe were at some point in their past), but where all life has died. In this case, the anaerobic life was wiped out when the atmosphere was polluted with oxygen. The temperature crashed, and the world was left as a lifeless ball of dirt of water.

It was warmed up since then, but life has not returned to the world. The scientists come up with a plan to try and reseed life here, planting some basic bacteria and organic material in places where it is most likely to thrive. They leave behind a small beacon which contains a record of what they have done. It is unlikely that they’ll ever return here to find out whether their attempt was a success.

Since they are spending a few days longer than expected, they also notice that there is something odd about the local gas giant. It’s rotational period is inconsistent. It is just under 10 hours, which isn’t abnormal for such a world, but it varies by a 2-3 seconds every day. This is extremely abnormal.

This feature of the world was one of the randomly generated comments as part of the world description, and I didn’t have any more information than that. I mentioned it, the players found it interesting, and so I had to quickly come up with reasons as they started sending down probes to investigate.

My first decision was that whatever it was, was natural. It wasn’t due to advanced alien technology or anything like that. It was probably something to do with dense oceans of metallic ocean that made up the actual surface of the planet. Except that a quick google told me that metallic hydrogen only has a density of 0.7. There was no land, so nothing to break up storms or waves. Which meant that there could be huge waves moving perpetually across the surface of the planet.

The low density also made it difficult for there to be large masses floating on the oceans. I decided though that there could be large crystalline structures of carbon. Similar to diamonds, but mostly hollow. This would lower their density and allow them to float. Tens of kilometres across, sometimes larger, these crystal structures had formed somehow and were pulled around on the ocean currents. This probably wasn’t scientifically possible, but it sounded vaguely plausible.

So their probes (those that weren’t crushed in the extreme pressures and temperatures) discovered a layer of clear atmosphere, where they had a clear view of the massive surface ocean. Waves kilometres in height were moving across it, and moving these giant crystal ‘bergs’. This was enough to vary the gravitational centre of the core, causing variations in the rotation period.

This gave the science teams more raw data for their research, which would keep them occupied for the weeks to come.

From here it was a jump to Enin, a world in the Sisyphus Citerior sector. As is usually the case, when they entered a new sector I provided a list of rumours and information. These are generally done as a new issue of the ‘Into the Deep’ magazine, which is a journal I update within Foundry. One of the things that I like about Foundry is the ability for a journal to have multiple pages, and for each page to have its own viewing permissions.

Ship Status

The Deepnight Revelation has been running smoothly over the past months. The computer issues have resolved themselves, though a couple of users are still complaining anyway.

Crew Changes

The follow crew members have joined us:

Addan – He is an Air Force Ornithopter pilot, military experience.

Aema – She is a mechanic and electrician. She seems very intelligent.

Daeba – She seems to know a bit of everything, and is picking up new skills quickly. Mechanic in the military.

Daevin – He is also military, infantry. A lot of experience with scouting and exploration. He seems to be the group’s leader.

Estrulli – She is an archaeologist and scientist. Used to working in difficult environments.

Nallos – He is mechanic and also ex military.

They are currently assigned as floating resources, until a fixed position within the departments is assigned to them. For now, they report to

We are also pleased to announce that Len Henga has been promoted to Deck Hand.


The route across Sisyphus Citerior is planned to take the Deepnight another sector closer to the Rift at 1240, at which point it will cross briefly into No Prospect. It is considered that there is no chance of a crossing at No Prospect. The following sector has been called Best Prospect, and it is hoped that there will be signs of a crossing point here.,3/map

Signals from a technological civilisation have been picked up at Tartos 2537. There is an option to swing by and investigate.


Sensor Upgrade

One of the System Technicians, Liz Tjara, wants to try an upgrade on the ship’s sensors. Errors have started to creep into the sensor arrays, which will start to cause deterioration in a year or two. Tjara believes though that she can use it to the ship’s advantage, using the variations to enhance sensor resolution.

She assures everyone that the risks are negligible.

Raix Delvaan

Raix, the manager of the ship’s museum, is wanting to know where a particular stone has come from. It is a polished white stone, about 5cm across. It was left on one of the tables without any documentation, which she is annoyed by.

Dr Ermam Nekuna

Some progress has been made on the runes from Uwain Major. There is no evidence of information from the Droyne expedition that the Deepnight was following, it seems to predate that. There are several layers of mathematics hidden in the text, only a couple of which are actually understood. It may be some just use a different approach, rather than being actually new.


Several of the Birthday Buddies groups have been having problems. It turns out that sharing a birthday doesn’t mean people like each other, and there has been some pressure forcing people into more intimate unions than they were expecting. However, recent research topics and the introduction of new crew members seems to have made people happier, and the problems have mostly resolved themselves.


Yip continues to grow quickly, and has been roaming around the ship seemingly at random. Crew members aren’t quite certain what to do when she turns up and starts poking her beak into their work. She has lost some of her feathers.

Some of the social issues were going to be worse, but the recent R&R and new and interesting work focused people’s attention elsewhere and diffused things somewhat. One problem was Yip, the ship’s avian alien, who was now missing their playmate, the daughter of Shandra, who had stayed behind on Ajum Minor. There was some effort put into making her happy, which included Khadashi teaching her about explosives. What could possibly go wrong?

I also gave all the PCs 1 xp to spend. Not only were they entering a new sector, but it was also a new year – the beginning of 1114.

There was some discussion about the work that could be done on the ship’s sensors. It was agreed to investigate Liz Tjara’s plans, assigning several competing teams to take a look at it and try and determine whether it was a good idea or not.

The first system they enter is Enin 3133. The gas giant here had a very strong magnetosphere, which could be dangerous. Fortunately there were some icy tholin covered asteroids in a nearby asteroid belt, so the ship headed there and refuelled from one of the asteroids.

During the jump to Finus 3035, one of the engineering teams finds a flaw in the plans for the sensor upgrades, which would cause them to return false temperature results on planets close to their star. I had planned a small event around this if they had just gone ahead with the upgrade. Since the players were being sensible, I decided it was only fair to let them avoid this before it happens.

At Finus, they are picking up more signals from the civilisation at Tartos, but are unable to decode them. Some of the scientists think that the signals are actually natural, and that there is no civilisation there. In any case, it’s interesting so after a couple more jumps they arrive at Tartos 2537.

My random world generator had depicted another TL 8 civilisation here, but I wanted something different. Something which may be TL 8, but in a completely different way. The signals the Deepnight was now receiving from the world were too difficult to decode. There was activity on the 2nd planet of the system, and even some radio signals coming from orbit around the planet.

However, there was no sign of technology. No cities. No night side lights. No space craft. As far as they could tell, the world was a typical Earth-like world with no intelligent life. Just plants and animals. But it was broadcasting multiple different radio signals across many wavelengths.

They sent one of the pinnaces to investigate the planet. What they discovered was what looked like a tree in orbit. Branches had been torn and burned off, and one end was badly charred and hollow. It was broadcasting radio signals. The pinnace moved up close to it, and discovered insects, about 10cm long, crawling on its surface. Some made it across to the pinnace, fixating themselves to the hull before they died.

10cm long space faring yellow insects

As they investigated, multiple launches were detected from the surface. Apparently trees were being launched into sub-orbital trajectories towards the pinnace. Some form of chemical inside the tree was being burned as rocket fuel, and the whole tree used as a booster.

The pinnace retreated back away from the planet. There was still no sign of a technological civilisation, but there were what looked like termite mounds across the grasslands. Indeed, the entire planet looked like it was being farmed by trillions of yellow insects.

After some time, they picked up radiation spikes coming from a large tree. As it ignited itself, and headed up into the atmosphere, there was an atomic burst beneath it, projecting up into an orbit that would send it towards the gas giant, and where the Deepnight Revelation was. The insects had an orion drive.

The players were quite concerned about this. They weighed up the pros and cons of investigating this alien civilisation, versus just getting the hell out of there. In the end, they opted for the latter.

The insects were hive minds – not one, but many of them. They had technology of a sort, and could build computers and electronics. Even atomic bombs. They naturally communicated via radio signals, so had their own natural world wide communications network. They couldn’t survive long in a vacuum, but could fashion stage trees that had habitable hive environments within them. With no thoughts about individual worth, sending thousands of themselves to their death wasn’t something that concerned them.

This was another world that I had sketched out briefly beforehand, and needed to invent a lot of material for on the spot. The stage trees were another Niven reference, though it wasn’t entirely deliberate this time. When the scouts reported seeing trees in orbit, the players actually went to a completely different Niven story – the Integral Trees. Admittedly, I have considered doing this at various points in the campaign, but I’ve managed to avoid it so far.

The Deepnight didn’t stay behind to figure out the full capabilities of the insects, and headed onwards to their next destination. Which would hopefully be less weird.

Samuel Penn

1 Response