Blood Petals

I’d come up with an idea to have a ball at Tradeport during the previous session of Traveller, so now I had to figure out how I was going to run that. I could just do it as simple role playing session, but I decided to try and make something a bit more of it. The last time I ran anything like this had been in Pathfinder, when I’d used the Ultimate Intrigue supplement to play things out with quite a complex rule set. Everyone got chances to talk to NPCs at the party, and make skill checks to try and influence them.

In that situation, I think it actually worked well. I’d had a lot of time to prepare though, and we had more players with characters who had a bit more history in the region. I had a lot less time to put something together this time, but I thought I’d give it a try.

I already had some NPCs from the background, I just needed to add some more. Which meant generating about a dozen more. It was only once I’d finished them that I remembered I had a perfectly good way of building up characters in Foundry using the Companion background packages. I could have just dragged and dropped packages onto the characters rather than manually giving them skills. Oh well.

I also wanted portraits for the NPCs that the Travellers will be interacting with. Last time it was a Google image search for suitable fantasy characters. This time it was Midjourney, which struggled to come up with the sort of fashion styles I was envisaging for the men (something more colourful and short sleeved, rather than the typical black and white suits), but managed okay for the women.

Before the ball though, I wanted to cover the run up to it. There were a number of things that the players wanted to do, and a number of plot points I wanted to introduce them to. I’ve split things into days, with day 1 when they received the invitation, and the evening of day 7 will be the ball itself. Things will be happening each day, which players can insert themselves into if they want. Or go and do something completely different.

The day after receiving the invitation, Siona, Chief of Engineering, invited engineers from Tradeport across to the Deepnight to give them a tour of engineering. It was possible that ‘spies’ might try to see more than they were allowed to, so a group of security ensured that everybody stuck to the tour and didn’t sneak off unattended.

Imedla, Amelia and Albrinn went to see Marcus Fiesler, the Chief Administrator of the port. It was agreed that in exchange for supplies and use of the docking facilities, the Deepnight would provide training to the local engineering teams.

Zanobia, Trennance, Yip and others went down to the University in the morning to talk to the University administrator, Lady Aeron Mikendrik. An agreement was made to swap records, and there were offers of providing some lectures and presentations on various STEM subjects. The crew were also asked whether they wanted to partake in a local quiz show – maths and science competitions are common here apparently, and some of the shows are very popular. I’ve come up with some simple rules or running this if they decide to go ahead with it.

In the afternoon it was a trip to the Commonwealth Gardens. These were a series of interconnected greenhouses, each tailored to a different environment. They meet with Dr Paul Mikendrik, who runs the greenhouses and is the husband of the university administrator. After some sharing of information, he hands them over to an underling who shows them around.

During the walk, they are interrupted by a young woman swimming naked through the garden pools. Apparently, this is something she does a lot, much to the annoyance of the staff here. It is Lady Jessica Grey, ‘consort’ of a Baron from Envais and therefore she can get away with things like this. She is accompanied by a hover-cam – she streams her excursions for her many followers.

She pulls herself out of the water, and begins a somewhat scatter brained conversation with the group. She’s happy to meet newcomers, and ask them about what sort of shopping and entertainment they have aboard their ship. Are they staying long, are they meeting with the Earl, going to the Ball? She explains that she works for the Emperor of Envais, ultimately everyone in the Empire does after all. She asks how the Emperor of the Imperium manages to keep an eye on the nobles aboard the Deepnight when they’re so far away. How does he know they’re not up to something? She comes across as clueless and stupid, and probably relies on being pretty and naked to get attention. When the conversation comes to the topic of what everyone will wear to the Ball, she comments that it’s important for everyone to present the image they want the world to see them as.

Whilst this is going on, Yip has climbed a tree and is trying to catch the hover-cam. Eventually she manages to lasso it, without falling out of the tree herself.

Jessica seems amused by this, and not bothered that Yip has taken possession of the camera. It’s all streamed to storage elsewhere. She’ll edit it before releasing it for public consumption, since not everything she does should be seen by everyone. Some is just for the friends she meets along the way.

After she’s gone, Zanobia comments on what she said, and wonders whether she’s actually as stupid as she appeared to be. They make a note to see what she publishes on her public feed.

Deadly Blood Petal

One of the more interesting plants that the crew get shown is called mortiferum sanguinem folium, aka the Deadly Blood Petal. It is a red flower common across the Sector. It is toxic, though won’t kill an adult human unless they are unlucky (END check of 4+ to avoid illness). The closest world it’s found on is Wildwood. According to the studies by the locals, it is genetically engineered. However, it’s been around for hundreds of thousands of years. The crew are given some samples to take back to the ship.

There are some other activities, including some sporting events and hanging around in bars trying to pick up information. Some larger sporting events are planned for later in the week.

Back aboard the ship that evening, the scientists discover that there are similarities between the blood petal and the overly large ‘war machine’ plant creature they encountered several jumps back. It becomes that bit more interesting. Then they realise that the toxins actually have similarities with the Droyne anti-Entity chemicals. Now it is very interesting indeed. The anti-Entity nature of it seems to be a more recent addition to its genome, but it’s difficult to tell without a full investigation of samples across multiple worlds.

The social science team are given the task of watching Lady Grey’s published video for anything unusual, but they claim it’s pretty boring (except for the titillation factor). Zanobia is confused when she gets blank looks when asking about particular phrases that Lady Grey used. None of them are in the edited recording.

Her mention of working for the Emperor is gone – she states she’s working for the Baron in the public version. Mention of keeping an eye on nobles, and presenting a public face are all cleanly edited out as well. There was also talk about the Earl having lots of plans in his pretty head, which are gone. The feeling is that she’s definitely putting on a show, and is probably an agent looking out for the Emperor’s interests. She very obviously wanted the crew to know this. Exactly why isn’t entirely clear.

That brought us up to the end of day two, which means I have some more time to plan things. The most important character so far has been Lady Grey. I had planned out her conversation, then realised I hadn’t written anything down so struggled to remember the key phrases I’d wanted her to say. But I think it worked out okay, and the players came away with the idea that there’s more to her than meets the eye as it were.

Samuel Penn

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