The Crossing

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It’s been a few weeks since our last game of Traveller, so it was good to get back to the game this week. Since I’d last prepped anything several weeks ago, I’d forgotten what I’d prepared earlier. Fortunately, the players remembered what they’d been doing, and everything quickly started coming back to me. Normally I’d try to do some prep just before the game to remind myself, but after finishing work and grabbing something to eat, I just wanted to switch off my brain and watch some Youtube videos for the 30 minutes before the game started.

The Deepnight Revelation was at the system of Thiyu/2914 in Maw sector. There was a gas giant here to refuel from, and a planet that was inhabited by Lemur-like sophonts at a TL 4 level of civilisation. It was a very balkanized world, with basic industry and mechanisation. The different nation states were at a low level of warfare between themselves.

What the players wanted to do here was very much up to them, and there was some investigation but they decided not to make contact. One of the uninhabited islands was used for R&R by the crew. It was a smallish island with no tree cover, but there were a number of large statues on the island which obviously been built by one of the Lemur civilisations. It was decided that as part of a team building exercise, different teams from the crew would try to build their own statues – though they were only allowed to use the technology available to the Lemurs.

Meanwhile, the Deepnight used its scouts to construct a Very Large Array – a sensor network spanning several AU to get a view across into the next sector. The nearest star system was five parsecs away, and that was a rogue planet. The other option was 6 parsecs away, and consisted of three gas giants. As the more detailed sensor information came in though, it became apparent that the gas giants were too close to their star to be useful. The atmospheres were over 1,000°C, and had silicate content. Not something that could be refuelled from.

The systems beyond that were also lacking in gas giants, or were rogue planets. It was going to be a hard trip to make. A fuel cache would need to be built one parsec from Thiyu, at 3014.

Whilst some of the crew were left behind at Thiyu, the Deepnight took a skeleton crew to being building the fuel cache. I’d written up details of what the options were, and the players decided to go with option 5B. On the first trip to the cache, the sent one of the scout craft to the rogue planet on Unonbi which was the target destination. This would take at least five weeks (two jumps there, research and refuel, then two jumps back), but would give some indication of where the Deepnight was going.

The departure of the scout Far Reacher directly followed the celebrations for the 1116 new year.

The planet at Unonbi was a frozen world with a thick atmosphere of Helium. The atmosphere wasn’t too thick to make landing impossible, and there was plenty of water ice on the surface which could be mined for hydrogen. Refuelling the Deepnight here would be possible, it would just take a couple of weeks.

The destination after that though would be tricky. At 0612 there was the system of Runequiken, which had a hot Jovian world but some colder terrestrial worlds which could again be mined for their ice. There weren’t many signs of habitable worlds though – which meant resupply of food might be risky.

So the Far Reacher heads back and meets up with the Deepnight just as its finishing its fuel cache. It has the full complement of crew at this point. The competition on Thiyu with the science team with their statues of a human. The locals, when they revisit the island, will be surprised to find statues of creatures that they don’t recognise. But that will be a puzzle for them to solve.

So the Deepnight heads to Unonbi, arriving with no fuel. It begins the process of sending small craft down to the surface to melt ice and split the hydrogen out of the water. It requires about fifty sorties to fill the Deepnight’s tanks, a process that takes over two weeks. Early on in the process, there is a near fatal accident when the door on one of the smallcraft pops open as the ship descended down into the thick atmosphere. Nobody was injured due to the crew wearing a vacc suit.

It turned out that one of the maintenance hands had skipped doing a proper check of the craft before it launched. This was the result of a low roll on the “how did everybody do” table, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed with training.

Other than that, crew morale is good. Though there is a risk, the spirit of adventure is returning to the ship as everyone seems to see the road as a challenge to be meet head on, rather than something to grumble about.

The Deepnight refuels, then jumps to one of the stars at Runequiken. Fortunately, there is a Thean (large terrestrial, with a thick Helium atmosphere) world with icy rings. This turns out to be a good source of water ice to turn into fuel, so the refuelling stop isn’t as hard as expected.

From there, they begin making their way down along the line of star systems, desperately looking for a habitable world. Eventually they find one at Nisakhe/1718, where there is also an early bronze age civilisation. With food concerns averted, it’s decided to stop for the eveing.

The session had a lot of roleplay around building up the crew’s morale, dealing with the poor actions of a couple of crew members, and planning the route ahead. There was a lot of concern about food – but in reality the risk here is low.By the time they reached Nisakhe the ship still had half its supplies left, and they hadn’t needed to go on reduced rations.

We’re close to getting to the other side of the Great Rift, and this part of the adventure has gone quite quickly. There’s some plots described in the official campaign book, but I’m more interested in getting the ship across to the far side of the Rift at this point rather than taking up time doing other things.

One thing that I had completely forgotten about is that there was some signs of the space life forms at the system with hot gas giants which they may have wanted to explore. I’ve only just remembered that as I type this though. The problem with skipping weeks is that I forget things. But it was a side quest which isn’t of great importance. Given their worry about food, the players may not have wanted to risk further delays to their trip anyway.

The journey at this point was harder than it had been, and that was down to chance. The sectors I am using are randomly generated, so the fact that there were only rogue star systems, or star systems with too-hot gas giants (or no gas giants) was mostly down to random luck. A few I tweaked slightly to provide a couple more options just in case the players didn’t like the first options. None of them would have been easy, but they would have been possible.

After the first hurdle, there is a nice convenient line of stars down to the Trailing/Rim corner of the sector though, with just one gap which they’ll have to cross at the end which they currently lack detailed sensor information on. They’ll find out more as they get closer.

Samuel Penn

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