Forest Spirits

I’ve been busy and tired this week, so when it got to Thursday and time to run some more Traveller, it was very much a case of “bummer, I haven’t prepared anything”. Fortunately, I had some vague memories of some ideas I’d come up with some weeks ago, so I double checked which worlds the Deepnight Revelation was likely to go to, and tried to refresh my memory of what I’d planned.

The previous session had wrapped up with the ship at Ghone Minor, where a civilisation was struggling to rebuild itself after a nuclear war. Not wishing to resupply from a world where most of the plant and animal life was contaminated by radiation, the Deepnight left that world behind and headed to Ediyo.

Ediyo was a system with a habitable (but uninhabited) main world with Earth-like conditions and biosphere. A few days are spent here for a bit of R&R, and then the ship continues its journey across Brittia sector. Ahead, are more signals from a high tech civilisation.

The intervening systems are mostly boring, though Khadashi gets suspicious that some of the system names are being changed by the crew. There have been competitions and arguments about what to name (or how to pronounce) systems, so this is possible… though it’s not a plot line I’d even considered. He started digging into the ship’s computer logs looking for anything suspicious, and got a success on an Electronics (Computers) check, so he found something that looked odd.

He didn’t really have the skills to confirm his suspicions though, so took his findings to Lt Eshi Ganim, one of the bridge crew who had a reputation of being good with computers. Of course, if anyone was going to be fiddling with the ship’s logs, it was probably going to be someone who was good with computers…

However good she was with computers, she wasn’t very good at Deception, so Khadashi got even more suspicious at her explanation of why the log files had inconsistent time stamps.

Eventually the accusations made their way up to the XO, Kirk, who had a word with Lt Ganim. She confessed to making some changes to make sure arguments went her way. She was given a telling off, but nothing more serious. Kirk was happy that his time was being wasted by something unlikely to destroy the ship.

The Deepnight arrived at the system of Nuquoc Uneke, where there was a TL 2 human civilisation. Again, they seemed to be actual humans from Earth. Shiiguma took a ship’s boat down and made contact with some fishermen, exchanging alcohol for some fresh fish. The fishermen seemed apprehensive, but not scared at the sight of a spacecraft coming down from the sky and hovering next to them.

Next, they headed to one of the larger settlements – a town on the mouth of a river near a great forest. It had a population of about 6,000, and many of the inhabitants came out to see the craft when it landed.

Shiiguma and her team were met by a welcoming party, led by Mayor Dimitris. The crew were invited in or a meal and conversation. Piecing together clues from what they were told, it seems that the world was settled about 300 years ago by hippies looking to give up technology and return to a simpler life. Those that survived the lack of medicines and other advantages of a high tech society eventually built up a civilisation of about 50,000 people.

It wasn’t that easy. Most of the plant and animal life is poisonous, so requires boiling and mashing before it is edible. However, people did survive, and there weren’t any really dangerous animals on the planet.

Though they did avoid the forest, for spirits lived there that weren’t friendly towards people. A couple of years back, a whole village not far into the forest had vanished completely. All that was left was an empty clearing.

So obviously the crew decide to investigate. One of the advanced scouts is sent over to the forest to scan and look for signs of unusual life. There is a large clearing at roughly the place indicated, and beneath it the ground seems unusual – beneath the topsoil there is some large organic mass.

A drone is sent down to the surface to drill down. The scout ship hovers above at tree height, though the players ask for it to be moved even higher. Which turns out to be a good thing.

The mole drone reaches the organic mass, and after drilling for a bit more there is a sudden heat change within the entire mass. The ground erupts upwards, earth and trees being hurled everywhere. Something rises up, a limb-like structure grabs a tree, snapping it off, and hurls it at the scout. The scout is far enough away that it gets time to dodge.

What is there is some twenty metre tall vaguely four limbed thing with a stub of a head. It turns around, emits a radio burst at the scout, which scoots upwards even further. Then the thing starts heading north towards the edge of the forest, and also in the vague direction of the town. It moves slowly, taking about an hour to cross a kilometre, so they have most of a day before it reaches the town.

Scanning it, it is organic in nature, though also has signs of being artificial. Life scanners indicate that it has a complex nervous system and what looks like a brain near the nub of a head.

It’s not long before the people in the town can see a disturbance up in forested highlands moving in their direction. They blame the newcomers, who are told to leave.

It is thought that the creature is some kind of War Machine, similar to what had been built by the Ancients. The scout comes in for a closer look again, but is driven off when the creature shoots spikes from its back. These penetrate the crystaliron hull, so the scout again falls back. Eventually they decide to burn the forest between the creature and the town, using the scout’s lasers to burn a long line of trees. This causes the creature to change course. After a few hours of watching, it seems to be a permanent course change.

Having collected samples from the creature, the crew decide to leave the world alone. They don’t know what created the war machine, but it’s very high technology, potentially at the high end of what the Imperium is capable of. They have enough material to keep the science team busy for the next few months at least.

From, there they jump to the system of Doredre, which has been showing signs of having a TL 8 civilisation. Hopefully this one hasn’t destroyed itself by the time the Deepnight comes out of jump.

So as it turns out, I had enough material for a game, especially with the help of the players coming up with some oddities.

Samuel Penn

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