Looking Glass

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The It’s A Sex Thing is on the way back to the Tenipal starport at Aquod VII, with a hold full of rescued Tenipal expedition scientists. The Sex Thing took some damage during the operation, and the crew decide to play that up to make it look like the rescue had been more dangerous than it actually had been. Most of the damage had been to the ship’s paintwork, with a few bits of melting around the edges.

The leader of the expedition was the Tenipal “Professor Rorthom Turrill” (at least, that’s what it translated as). He was grateful for being rescued, and as a biologist interested in the human’s biology. They had come to the world to try and find out what the Erline had been doing here a few months ago. As far as the Tenipal could tell, they had been taking organic samples and performing a radar analysis of the planet.

Khadashi had managed to ‘rescue’ some material from the crashed Tenipal ship from one of its secure safes, and passed it over to Dr Nekuna to decode. It covered some more details behind the mission. The Erline mission had been led by their biologist Iikiti Ikitata, and they had indeed been performing extensive radar scan of the surface.

From what the Tenipal could gather, the Erline have started investigating worlds outside of their space in some detail. Ikitata was in charge of these expeditions, and had a 600t scientific research vessel the Unravelling of Shadows to use for the purpose. There might be more information at the Tenipal Science Institute at the star port.

There was also mention of something called Project Looking Glass. It wasn’t entirely clear what this was, or even whether it was real and not just the imaginings of paranoid Tenipal. Khadashi made a Languages check to try and figure out why the translation software had chosen that name. There seemed to be matches to “maintaining a vigil”, “close examination of self” and “secret government projects”.

The crew had a discussion about the findings, believing that the Erline had some secret government project that was maybe investigating what had happened 10,000 years ago. Zanobia though it was maybe mining technology gone wrong, or possibly an issue of too many paper clips(*). There was still a possibility that the fungus entity the Deepnight Revelation had come all this to destroy was involved somehow.

One of the rescued crew was Meeka Iirm, an engineer. He isn’t interested in biology, but is very interested in the ship he has been rescued by. He and the crew get to have a long discussion about how the jump engines work. He is surprised that the Sex Thing had been able to jump straight through the system’s asteroid field on the way to the inner system, since Tenipal ships find that difficult. Even Erline ships are more sensitive to being pulled out of jump space than Imperium ships are.

The latter was partly to help explain why the Sex Thing had been needed to do the rescue. It was a limitation of Tenipal technology that was floating around in my head last week, but which I hadn’t really articulated. One other thing that becomes clear is that the Tenipal lack some of the abstract mathematics that are needed for more advanced jump technology. Their own solution to the problem is a dead end path which won’t scale upwards.

The Sex Thing arrives back at the starport, much to the joy of the Tenipal there. It is very much in need of a new paint job though.

The crew’s next plan is to investigate the science institute. It turns out that it’s a small set of offices in the cheaper part of the star port, and not all of the systems are available online so some physical hacking will be needed. There’s a receptionist, a scientist and a couple of students working there, but little else going on. It’s not much more than a admin centre for expeditions beyond Tenipal space. The crew invite the science team out to take a look at the Sex Thing, which leaves the offices mostly deserted.

Khadashi, Daeba and Lt Tana Andrews come up with a plan to sneak in to the service passages at the rear via one of the nearby empty office suites. From there, they make their way into the back of the institute. With a bit of sneaking and searching, they manage to grab some information without being seen. They come away with some lists of contacts amongst the Tenipal and Erline, some details on Erline expeditions Rimward to the shores of the Great Rift which the Tenipal have been monitoring, and information about requests by the Erline to investigate the world of Sanpa IV.

There’s a small Tenipal colony on Sanpa IV, and also a place known as Crater Lake. The Tenipal records mention that they believe that there was an Erline colony here over ten thousand years ago.

Ooma Vale, Stowaway

The scientists amongst the crew are interested to make their way to Tenipal where they can get out and stretch their legs, but are also interested in investigating Sanpa. The decision is made to go to Tenipal first, as per the original plan, then make a detour before meeting up with the Deepnight again.

So it’s a jump to Tenipal, which should be a quite 7 days in Jump space. However, a couple of days into the trip the crew are summoned by an excited Yip who has captured something – a Tenipal stowaway amongst the cargo. The Tenipal is Ooma Vale, who wanted to meet the ‘aliens’, and also wanted a cheap trip. Once rescued from the threatening beak of Yip, Zanobia gives her a medical checkup.

Ooma seems a bit more inquisitive than your average Tenipal. She might be a spy, so Zanobia sets about grilling her on what she was doing here and how she got aboard. These are details that can wait until next time.

The last couple of sessions have felt a bit more active than the previous ones, and I’ve enjoyed running them a lot more. I do need to keep track of time, and decide on when I’m going to switch to one of the other parallel threads. There’s some ‘set piece’ encounters that I need to bring in as part of the campaign, and I haven’t decided exactly when I’ll run those, or with which set of characters.

I also got to make up some back story for both the Erline and Tenipal societies, which was fun. I’m sure I’m going completely off the rails compared to what is written, but it’s something I enjoy doing.

My portrait for Ooma Vale ended up looking far too much like a feline for the Tenipal, but I had a lot of difficulty getting MidJourney to make someone slightly feline. It’s not good at subtlety, or I’m not good at coming up with prompts.

What I’d like for published adventures to provide are digital asset packs which include sample portraits of a species if new species are introduced. Even if it’s a paid for extra, I’d be happy with that. As it is, there’s only a couple of pictures of Tenipal in the entire book.

Samuel Penn

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