In our previous session, the Deepnight Revelation had reached the far edge of Best Prospect sector, some fifteen sectors Spinward of the Trojan Reach. They were still seeking a way across the Great Rift, and the next sector, Last Prospect, was their last chance of finding one before having to make a long detour around Greenwald’s Bay.
They had encountered a bronze age civilisation which showed signs of having been contacted by a species of small blue interstellar beetles some ten thousand years ago. There were no signs that the beetles were active any more, but a later world showed signs of having had a high tech civilisation that had been destroyed by multiple asteroid impacts. It had collapsed in the same time period, and DNA evidence found on the world matched that of the abandoned beetle colony.
Ahead of them, in Last Prospect sector, there seemed to be three distinct interstellar civilisations, all broadcasting radio transmissions into space. Maybe two to three dozen worlds were inhabited, and there were the tell tale evidence of jump drives being detected by the ship’s gravity wave scanners.
Out of all the things that have happened in the campaign so far, this next section was probably going to be the most complicated to juggle. There are multiple civilisations, each with their own cultures and ways of reacting to the interjection of a newcomer. There is plenty of background to uncover, since this is pretty much the entire content of the second Deepnight Revelation campaign adventure book The Near Side of Yonder.
Ship Update: 1114-302
Vermin traps and monitors set up across the ship have failed to detect any signs of the infestation that was causing problems a few months back.
Another round of repainting on the hull has discovered some micro fractures in the hull around the ‘neck’ of the Deepnight. These are well within expected levels, and have been repaired. The usual periodic scans are being brought forward just in case.
A recent deep clean of one of the kitchens has resulted in a boost in morale of the crew that normally work there, since everything looks fresh and new. Further deep cleans are being planned.
The crossing into Last Prospect sector will be a cautious one. It is known that there is an interstellar civilisation ahead, and their full capabilities aren’t yet known.
From Aseyna, the jump will be to one of the systems along the J-1 main that leads to Cosiku (2910). The aim is to use Gamma Thopin (3111) as a scouting point, but it can’t be reached in a single jump.
Given the interstellar capability of the civilisation ahead, choice of which system to jump through may be important.
What to expect
There are at least eighteen civilised systems, spanning two to three subsectors. There are three different styles of transmissions being picked up, implying three different civilisations.
At least one (denoted as ‘Green’) has achieved Tech Level 10, which comes with a J-2 capability. The distances between some of the inhabited systems here are consistent with that.
The ‘Yellow’ civilisation is central and seems to be smaller, but that may be due to inability to pick up details around smaller stars. Nothing above TL 9 has been detected for them.
At least one of the worlds, the system at Tenipal (2414) as a projected population of over ten billion.
The third civilisation, denoted ‘Blue’, is further away and little is known about them. Only three inhabited star systems have been detected.
There is some betting going on amongst the crew on the nature of the aliens they are about to meet, and whether they are friendly or not.
There is also a sweepstake on how long before the Deepnight has to use its weapons a hostile target.
There have been complaints about long hair clogging up some of the showers in the gym. Some are calling for the Vargr pups to be banned from using the community bathing facilities.
Entering Last Prospect
The players decided to jump first to Lyroce 3109, since it was a reasonable distance from any of the civilised worlds. On coming out of jump, the Deepnight is almost immediately scanned. The ship goes on alert, but no threatening actions are detected.
The scanning seemed to be coming from a small probe in orbit around the gas giant. Scouts were sent to investigate, and what they found suggested that maybe a TL 9 or 10 civilisation had built this. It was fusion powered, and just a monitoring probe, designed more for traffic control than scientific exploration.
The Deepnight is able to refuel without incident, but then picks up a burst transmission from the inner asteroid belt. It seems to be aimed at the orbiting probe. A more detailed scan of the belt detects thirteen objects which seem to be moving under their own power. So a scout is sent deeper into the system to investigate, with the Deepnight following carefully behind.
I had made a DEI (Department Efficiency Index) check for the scanning, and got a 3. Which is impression on 2D6+1. This meant a sloppy performance, and also resulted in a mishap. There were actually only two probes in the inner system, one of the bridge crew had made a bad mistake, and I needed a reason why.
The ship’s XO, Kirkiimekki Kamarsukhar (or just “Kirk” to his friends) was approached by one of the other bridge crew who wanted a private chat. Apparently a group of them had run a check on Lt Greta Mallow’s sensor report, and found it seriously wanting. This wasn’t the first time she had made mistakes recently either. She seemed to be getting sloppy, but since she was their boss, they’d been just trying to fix things quietly when they could.
It turns out that she was under the influence of drugs, and had a bad case of addiction. The players decided to handle the situation with as much subtlety as they could, even after Lt Mallow panicked when she realised she’d been caught out and tried to steal one of the small jump ships.
She was rotated off to other duties for a while and given time and help to recover. A combination of stress, homesickness and boredom and led her going down that path.
Meanwhile, back in the asteroid belt, a 200t mining drone was discovered. It had lots of little probes which were exploring the asteroid belt. The technology seemed similar to that of the beetles, in that it was intricate in design, but the writing on the side was completely different. Possibly the same species, but a different culture.
From here, the Deepnight jumps to Gamma Thopin (3111). There are probes around the outer gas giants, but not around the innermost which is inside the jump mask of the two close binary stars. Here, the ship spends a week doing a scan of the sector to try and pick up as much information as they could before proceeding on first contact.
Their choices weer Cosiku (2910), which had an E class star port, and Czath (2912) which had a D class star port, which seemed to be around a moon of a gas giant so details of the planet itself were difficult to detect. I had expected the players to want to visit Cosiku first, since it was right on the edge of things, but they decided to head for Czath. It’s not something that matters much, but would affect how much trouble would be caused if things went wrong.
So the final jump of the session was to Czath, where they find a terrestrial sized world in orbit around a gas giant. Almost immediately the Deepnight is hit by multiple scans – there are other starships here, an orbital infrastructure and a technological civilisation on the moon.
One of the nearby ships, a 3,000t armed merchant of some kind, opens its gun and missile ports, but doesn’t fire. The Deepnight likewise goes on high alert, but tries not to scare anyone. At 75,000t they could probably take on the entire planetary defences and win. But there were a lot of missiles on the opposing side which could do serious damage to them if shooting began.
The population here was estimated at over a hundred million – not just a small colony, with a technology level of about 10. One of the ships started heading out away from the planet, presumably to get to jump distance to take word to another system that contact with an alien ship had been made.
This was also my first chance to use my new animated world maps as part of the world’s journal entry in Foundry. They’re not too much effort to do, but do take time to render and take up space and bandwidth, so I’m not going to use them for every planet.
Communication was at first basic – but the Deepnight had been listening in to radio transmissions of these civilisations for a while so their translation software had enough data to start making a good guess at what was being said.
The people here were the Erline, and they were willing to talk trade and information. Would the visitor agree to a meeting of probes?