With the repainting of the It’s A Sex Thing completed, we started this session with a side discussion on the paint job and the design of the model. Some feelings were expressed about the odd shape of the Far Trader, with its lopsided design and missing sections, and how that would induce stress on the hull. From there, we went on to the Deepnight Revelation itself, and the fact that the deck plans completely fail to match what it looks like. Sometimes our sessions start with odd distractions.
Back to the game itself, and the Deepnight has recently taken out the main weapon systems on the Citadel, clearing the way for the Sovreigndoms to board and destroy it. This I ran mostly as a narration of what happened, rather than gaming it out. How I ran this was very different to how is described in the book. Now we’re coming to the end of this chapter of the campaign, I have to say that I changed a lot of the Near Side of Yonder adventure.
The actual story elements I’d kept pretty much the same. The Erline, Sovreigndoms and Tenipal were much as they are described in the adventure. What happens at a high level is also mostly the same, it’s just how I approached running it that changed.
The adventure has invented a whole mechanical system for tracking the relationship between the Deepnight and the three civilisations. If the crew do things that gain favour with a faction, then they gain points. If they upset a faction, then they lose points. Points are gained by running errands for the civilisations – go explore a system here, bring them some goods there. It read very much like a lot of little filler fetch quests that you get in a computer RPG, trying to max out a relationship score with an NPC. You don’t actually want to do them, but you end up having to do so in order to further the plot.
It felt, wrong. Maybe it would work for some groups, but using a big exploration vessel to run around doing little jobs for people didn’t seem right. It also seemed a lot of mechanics for something which could be handled with role play. Sometimes this can work (I used the Intrigue rules from Pathfinder for my previous urban fantasy game to track social dynamics, and they worked very well), but in this situation it didn’t feel right. I think part of the problem was that the power dynamic between the Deepnight and the local civilisations isn’t at the right level for this to work.
The fight over the Citadel was also meant to be played out more as a wargame, controlling units as they battled through the station. It really wasn’t something that I wanted to do at that level of detail, so I fell back on narration.
In the end, at all seemed to work. The Citadel was destroyed, and the local Sovreigndom at Elhi was happy with the help that the Deepnight had provided. Enough to help with supplies and throwing some parties.
Back aboard the ship itself, there was some unrest though. The astronavigation team had been trying to plot a route across the Great Rift, and thought they had found a possible way. It did make some assumptions about where they would be able to pick up food and fuel though, so there was a risk. It was a risk that some of the crew weren’t willing to take.
A small faction, which was growing, were arguing that the Deepnight had already made a really successful journey, and discovered things that were unknown to the Imperium. So why not turn around now and head back home?
The ship’s leaders definitely wanted to push ahead, but felt that having a group of people on board that were agitating for a turn around probably wouldn’t be healthy. Whilst Khadashi argued for use of the airlock (as he always did), a more reasonable compromise was discussed – allowing some of the crew to stay behind with the civilisations here.
Since they were in Sovreigndom space currently, leaving them here would be easy. The Sovreigndoms wasn’t a favoured option though because of their government structure. The Erline were preferred, but they weren’t well setup for having humanoids living amongst them. The Tenipal were probably the most socially acceptable, but going back to them would add at least another month of delay, and they were the weakest of the factions.
In the end it was decided to allow the dissidents to take one of the small craft and go back with the Erline to the trade port at Aquod which sat between Erline and Tenipal space. Both factions had a presence there, and they would be able to set up a joint venture. Amongst those leaving were scientists and engineers, so they would be able to set up a research and development company, funded by, and selling to both factions. Amelie Kaliguuan, the Deepnight company representative, was happy because she was able to draft legal documents to define the company structure.
In the end, nine of the crew left the Deepnight. Not everyone who were in favour of turning back wanted to leave, but the leaders of the movement did, which deflated the enthusiasm of the others to argue further. Setting up a corporation here would also give the Deepnight somewhere to return to on the way back, assuming that the
The final plan was put into motion when the Deepnight arrived at Sharin Minor, at the agreed meeting point with the Erline scientist Ikitata. The Deepnight was provided with some supplies, and told that a fuelling point was being created for them two parsecs from Tunu, which would allow them to begin their journey across the Great Rift. It may be possible to find some Erline scouts at Tunu who would be willing to go along with the Deepnight, but Ikitata himself would stay behind with his people.
The ship’s next stop though was the system of Onoqusi, where the infection that had caused the destruction of the first Erline civilisation had possibly come from. The Deepnight jumped to there, to see whether there were still any signs of infection.