The Rule of Three

Our previous session had ended with the crash of the Pinnace Zodiac. Zanobia and one of the security guards were investigating the site when a group of half a dozen local hunters turned up. They were humanoid, but with unusual grey skin that looked like it was stretched tight over their bones. They carried spears and bows, and wore little other than straps to carry their weapons and tools.

They had fallen to the ground at the sight of the two star farers in vacc suits next to the burning wreckage of something that had fallen from the sky. Zanobia tried talking Oynprith to them, but it was not understood. One of them stood up, and started chattering and pointing at things.

The long monologue was enough for the Translation software to start picking up bits of language. I assume that the software is able to look at video as well, and figure out what they’re doing and pointing at in order to help with the translation. As GM, I prefer to give them enough translation so that the players can do something about communicating with strange aliens, but leave out a few of the more complication terms so it’s not too easy.

They are invited back to the hunter’s village, so they leave the investigation of the crash site to one of the other Pinnaces. The recordings of the craft’s black box recorded no mechanical or electrical failures with the craft before the crash. The only exception was the collision warning just before the crash. Video and audio footage of the cockpit showed the pilot and one of the scientists laughing and joking. The pilot wasn’t paying attention, and when she finally realised there was a problem, made a bad decision that forced the craft into the ground rather than allowing the autopilot to correct things. So, ultimately, it was pilot error.

The HR records for the pilot included a note that she had a reputation for crashing but not getting herself killed. Obviously her luck had run out.

Pilot Eja Rujuna, deceased

This lead on to some discussion about whether the crew were getting lapse after all this time on the mission, and if something needed to be done about it.

In hindsight, there should probably also have been a ceremony or something for the dead crew, but I didn’t think of this during the game.

Arrival at the village was peaceful, and indeed the local people didn’t show many signs of being aggressive. One thing that Zanobia noticed was that everyone here seemed to be male – the lack of any real clothing made that quite obvious. Her accompanying security guard (who had been named Zhamus Bnd by the players because he was security guard number 7), noticed that some of them also had breasts, and most of those seemed to have young babies or were pregnant.

Zhaamus Bnd, Security Hand #7

The leader of the settlement was dressed in robes and had a large feathered headdress. They were accompanied by two who were also dressed in less fine robes and with smaller headdresses. These both had breasts, and were carrying young babies in their arms.

The conversation went smoothly. The locals were curious, and assumed that the Travellers were hunters of the sky herds (which might be their interpretation of shooting stars and comets). Eventually it was figured out that there were three sexes – one sex had more wrinkly skin, another was taller and thinner and the third had some body hair. All three had penises and vaginas, and grew breasts when they got pregnant. Fertility was possible between any two different sexes, and any sex could give birth.

There were no obvious signs that the locals had encountered the Droyne, and so after the Deepnight Revelation had refueled and resupplied, it headed on to the next world of the three.

At Bisuxe, they met up with the scout that had gone to the third world of Utinofej. The report from here was that it was a pleasant and habitable world, but nothing interesting and no intelligent life. All three systems seemed to have individually gone through abiogenesis. It seemed odd that out here, in the middle of nowhere, there were three habitable systems all within a parsec of each other. However, as far as anyone could tell, it was just coincidence.

Bisuxe III

The main world here is habitable enough to easily refuel from. There are also a species of what look like giant caterpillars that some of the science team think are intelligent, though they are unable to prove it.

Three of the team members ended up getting very obsessive about the whole thing, and when it was time to leave, they insisted on spending just a few more days there. This was initially granted, but after they still refused to leave the planet, a security team was sent down to forcibly relocate them back to the ship. In the end, the use of stun weapons were needed.

Physical and (unofficially) psionic tests were run, but there were no signs of anything external causing their obsession. In the end, the three scientists were kept under close supervision, and in some cases sedation. The medical diagnosis was that they were just under psychological stress, possibly caused by long term boredom.

The next jump would take them to the system of Udada, a binary system with a habitable world around each star.

Udada Alpha II
Udada Beta II

There were no signs of intelligent life on either planet, but they allowed the Deepnight to resupply to keep their food reserves topped up before the jump to Thiyu/2914. After Thiyu, it was still unclear what the destination would be, and a five or six parsec jump would be required. There was a rogue planet as a possible destination, plus a small red dwarf star. Both were difficult to scan at long distances, so the ship still didn’t have sufficient information on them.

The jump to Thiyu was not uneventful. One of the crew members turned up in the med bay with a broken arm. She had been playing Zero-G lob ball when one of her opponents had grabbed her and smashed her to the ground.

The opponent in question was Sorven, a much larger guy who was generally known for being a gentle giant. He claimed that Annalysse had jabbed him in the ribs once too many times, and that he’d lost his temper. He was apologetic, but insisted that she had deserved it.

She had also kicked him in the head after the others had pinned Sorven down, despite her having a broken arm at that point.

The head of HR, Imelda, dug up some notes from Annalysse’s personnel file, noting that there had been some reports about her previously. She’d even got the nickname ‘Cat Baiter’ after kicking an Aslan male earlier in the mission.

This is the third event in a relatively short space of time where crew actions had caused problems. There was definitely a level of stress throughout the ship, possibly caused by the nervousness about crossing the Rift when a way across wasn’t guaranteed. Imelda came up with a plan for everyone to complete a (long) survey, to keep their mind off things, and see what could be done to improve morale.

For the immediate problem of Annalysse, she was given a temporary posting to the security team, where it was felt she could probably funnel her aggression into unarmed combat training. She seemed quite happy to move to that role, rather than serving in the kitchens.

I’ve done some more work on my ID cards for characters. This was a session where they could have come in really useful for showing crew personnel records to the players, but I hadn’t pushed the changes through to my production Foundry instance by that point. They got put in place after the game, and allow me to display a limited character sheet on the players’ screens. They’re not perfect yet, but give me more options on what to show to players.

Eventually, the Deepnight arrived at the system of Thiyu, where a TL 4 civilisation was detected on the main world. It would be something to investigate before the jump across to the next sector.

Samuel Penn