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Subject: Free Terran Confederation S2 P1: A Journey to Spectos rss

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Danny Stevens
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Role playing since the beginning.
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Players and Character Names
Zhao Li (played by Paul)
Scout pilot, owner of TFCSS53 a type S scout ship

Casper Percival Herab (played by Rhys)
Scientist administrator, major shareholder in the lab ship X389TY, housing the “super cop” experiment.

Ja Ja Shao (played by Zoe)
Veteran marine weapons and security expert

Potato (played by Steven)
Digital information synthesis expert for the Xian Zhu system bureau of law enforcement and investigation (The XzBlei)

Cordia L. (played by Pam)
A chief star navy engineer

Zitzsu (played by Phaedra)
Captain in the Yuan regional army

1 March, 2332ce
Group discussion of what mission to undertake. Zhao Li has calculated the financial situation and the missions are examined in that light. Ja Ja Shao and Potato both express an interest in getting involved with operations in Yuan and the planets New Shanghai and Zan Zax, as there is the greatest opportunity for shooting things and blowing them up. Coria L. muses if they should become pirates.

Conversation turns to the offer by Brian Li Yuan and what would happen if a garden world was found but it had native intelligent life. Casper jokingly considered they could get rid of natives easily enough. Zhao Li made a reference to Casper being a reincarnation of Dr Mengele and not the best moral authority which was followed by some discussion of Zhao Li's Quasimodo like qualities.

Zitsu chimed in querying if marginal planets found couldn't profitably be terraformed. The consensus was that this would be too long term an investment. Potato reinforced the fact that he has a gun. Zoe adds they have lots of guns.

Finally they agree to probably do the scouting mission but want to seek better terms. So Casper “Dr Mengele” Percival Harab is given the task of negotiating with Brian Li Yuan. During their discussions Casper realises that Brian is looking to make a lot of money if he can find a colonisable garden world right now, while there is a refugee crisis caused by New Shanghai's troubles and the 1,000 immigrants a month arriving in that system.

It transpires Brian is looking to gain around 200Mcr a year on colonisation rights and associated services. Casper negotiates a piece of the action, 2% for the group, on top of the original offer. The possibility of finding an occupied planet is brought up to which Brian responds “not a problem”.

2 March to 7 March, 2332ce
Hyperspace is boring. The players select Spectos as the first star to explore, jump 2. They determine that remote observations guarantee they will find two gas giants there, so they will be able to refuel for the return journey.
During the jump the players start the study regimes that represent the main method for character skill increase in the traveller mechanics. We will go over this a few times in following episodes to bed the mechanics of it down.
We also exercise the astrogation check mechanics and Zhao Li is able to drop the TFCSS53 onto a precise spot on the edge of the Spectos system, inside its Oort cloud.

8 March, 2332ce
Zhao Li runs a first pass scan of the system as soon as the ship drops out of jump. The two gas giants are innermost, there is a planet just slightly smaller than Earth standard on the outer edge of the habitable zone and 6 planetary rocks. Potato wants to head straight for the larger planet but Zhao Li plots a course that will pass 3 of the smaller rocky worlds to one of the gas giants, and then on to the earth size planet.

Its a two day journey to the gas giant. The three rocky worlds appear to be a standard collection of slightly metal rich planets. The crew note potential for mining.

The gas giant is somewhat smaller than Jupiter and has a purple hue, Zitzu suggests there is going to be a fair presence of potassium in the planets clouds. They also detect some bromine. Ja Ja decides to exercise naming rights and dubs the planet Qie Zi (meaning eggplant, pronounced zhee soo).

In my traveller universe jump drives require external field generator rings about the ships. Where a ship may need to enter an atmosphere or land on a surface the rings need to be detachable. So in order to do a fuel scoop manoeuvre the rings are detached and parked in orbit while the scout makes atmospheric dives.

So the ship takes up a standard orbit about Qie Zi, inside the orbit of its dozen small moons, and detaches its jump ring. Then Zhao Li pilots the scout into Qie Zi's upper atmosphere, giving the crew an exciting and bumpy ride as they slam from one super tornado to the next. Due to some dodgy dice rolls it takes 16 hours to scoop up the required amount of hydrogen. As the scout returns to orbit and rendezvous with the jump rings the on board refinery clicks in and begins a 48 hour process refining the fuel.

11 March, 2332ce
Planetary survey on approach shows the large rocky planet to be somewhat marginal, rather than a garden world, so no bonus from Brian here. The planet has a slightly thin breathable mix atmosphere tainted by an abundance of carbon dioxide. The planet has two very extensive ice caps but no real free standing bodies of water. Its also cold, averaging 15 degrees Celsius at the equator during day time.

The crew decide to land and do at least a minor survey on the surface near, but not on, the northern ice cap. The jump rings are once again left in orbit and the ship hits the atmosphere and flies to a safe, hard rock landing site within a few hundred meters of the nearest ice pools.

DM Note Ok, failure of imagination on my part here. I had prepped over five different situations that the players could romp into happily and had used the three clue rule to set up all sorts of hooks and guides into dealing with what was going on. However, on this world one such clue was missed and the others relied on the ship examining and exploring the ice cap. In hindsight I can't see why I thought the players would do that. So they were now likely to just go home without further interaction. What to do without railroading them into the adventure? I created an impromptu bang that they could follow or not. If not, then “oh well maybe later”.

Ja Ja and Potato are outside the ship collecting rock and ice samples when Ja Ja spots a shooting star that falls just over the horizon and appears to impact on the ice cap. She radios it in and they decide to fly over for a cursory inspection of the impact.

About 30km into the ice sheet proper Zhao Li detects the impact crater, 80m across and about 150m deep. Analysis of the steam coming from it shows traces of bauxite. The crew decide to send down the air raft with Ja Ja, Potato and Zitzsu, the crew members most experienced at EVA with vac siuts. They lower themselves into the crater and near the bottom discover crab like life forms scuttling about over a warm water puddle. There are about 14 of them, around 5 to 8cm across with thin, short pincers and six eyes on flexible stalks. They are all a silvery colour. There are several small tunnels leading into the crater that the crabs scuttle in and out of.

Potato suggesting shooting some. He has a gun. Ja Ja says no, because the others might get angry and they may have friends in the tunnels that might swarm attack. They ask Casper what he thinks the crabs are. Rhys rolls a 2 on the dice and decides Casper wasn't really paying any attention and mutters something unuseful. Potato grabs a metal storage box, jumps down and, using his excellent animal handling skills, coaxes a crab into the box and closes the lid. That solved they take their sample back to the ship and promptly name it “Crabby”. Then they name the planet Pang Xie (Chinese for, you guessed it, Crab).

Zhao Li muses about possible apex predators and begins doing wide sensor sweeps of the ice, looking for signs of larger, more complex biology. Meanwhile Casper and Cordia L. analyse Crabby, whose metallic carapace appears to be artificially constructed and added on to a more natural body structure. They observe Crabby using its pincers to scratch at the box walls, which begin to pit slightly, and then the pincers grab and pull out slightly softened strands.

Zitzsu grabs one of the thicker glass lab tanks, puts Crabby in it and then puts that in a metal box. Crabby taps on the class with its pincers but has no success there. Cordia L. drops a small chunk of steel in there and Crabby immediately starts manipulating it, within a few minutes making itself some pointy steel gloves. Once they harden Crabby begins chipping at the glass again with slightly more success with the new steel tipped pincers.

Meanwhile Zhao Li has discovered a network of larger tunnels, about 8 to 10m across lying an average 6m below the ice. Now he knows what to look for he quickly discovers an area where one of the tunnels appears to have collapsed and frozen over again, making access to the tunnel only a few centimetres of ice. Ja Ja decides that's what the laser turret is for and promptly melts the tunnel entrance open.

From the ship they can see the interior ice of the tunnel has a deep, green hue. Cordia L. pilots the air raft down, with Casper, Ja Ja Shao, Potato and Zitzsu. They find a draft blowing out of the tunnel entrance. Cordia L. collects some green ice and takes it back up to the ship. The others venture into the tunnel. Casper has no skill with a vac suit so he is a little slow, at the back, treading very carefully on the icy floor.

Back at the ship Cordia L. drops a little of the green ice into Crabby's tank. Immediately Crabby drops the metal gloves and begins feeding on the green ice until its stuffed itself, and then goes dormant in a corner of the tank.

Continued to part II : Under Ice
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