The Hotness
Games|People|Company
Star Trader
The Clay That Woke
Alone Against the Flames
A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying
Deep Carbon Observatory
A Red & Pleasant Land
Monster Squad Control
Baker Street: Roleplaying in the World of Sherlock Holmes
Yoon-Suin
Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana
The Keepers of the Woods
Rise of the Red God
Call of Cthulhu (5th Edition)
The Succubus Club
Itras By
Falcon 1: The Renegade Lord
Horror on the Orient Express (2nd Edition)
DayTrippers: Core Rules
Star Wars: Force and Destiny Core Rulebook
Book 01: Flight from the Dark
Dragon Age RPG, Set 1
Bloodsucker: The Angst
Microscope
Era Report: 3062
Humans vs. Monsters: Diplomacy (Generic)
Player's Handbook (D&D 5e)
The End of the World: Zombie Apocalypse
Dragon Age Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook
Out of the Abyss
Chrome Flesh
Star Wars: Force and Destiny Game Master's Kit
Who Was Hans Kotter of Essendorf? (2E)
Mecha Mice
Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game
Fear Itself
Delta Green
Forbidden Kingdoms Master Codex
Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (Second Edition)
Book 29: The Storms of Chai
Tatters of the King
Dungeons & Dragons Game (New Simplified Version)
Player's Handbook (D&D 3e)
Mythic Game Master Emulator
GS1: Sanctum of the Stone Giant Lord
Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game Box Set
Yggdrasill Core Rulebook (English edition)
Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
Papyrus (Issue 12 - Gencon 1993)
The First Annual Neo-Anarchist's Guide to Everything Else (1992)
The Dungeon Alphabet: Expanded Third Printing
Recommend
32 
 Thumb up
 Hide
27 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

Traveller (Classic)» Forums » General

Subject: DEPTH MANTRA rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: Thursday_Night_Academy [+] required-reading [+] robopriapism [+] [View All]
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
The Cathedral is vast, as are you.
mbmbmbmbmb

Outcasts, pariahs, misfits of every stripe all seek the Long Fall, to slip the trammels of the Imperium and do what the universe has shaped them for, without the distorting press of family, duty, history. But what lies across that void? A darkness perhaps greater than the one we carry within ourselves? Can homo technologicus shine a light bright enough to beat it back?

I wouldn't bet on it.



Title track: Crazy Town, "B-Boy 2000", The Gift of Game (1999)


DISCLAIMER: The following should not be construed as actual Traveller, neither the game you've perhaps played nor the one described in the books. It is instead the hacked up and house-ruled version a group of very good friends have been playing for, uh, decades. The rules proper would fit on a single page, and the world is entirely rejiggered to massage our predilections. Still, enjoy!
23 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
The Cathedral is vast, as are you.
mbmbmbmbmb
SESSION 0.0 : CHAR GEN
2 DEAD, 15 MISSING IN SEARCH FOR PROTAGONISTS

We open our eyes, moving down a hallway lit by tubes of fluorescent bacteria, arriving at a grubby kitchenette, all gray spraycrete and heaps of old styrofoam PEOPLE EATER packets—at the table, our hero, striped with radiation burns, fondles a brick-like sidearm as holographic cockroaches do a song and dance on his crummy breakfast about "promotion" to working the protein vats on sub-level 32, or something. They hit the end of the number, glitch, and begin again, louder this time. Our hero rests his head on the sidearm and—

Open again, this time seeing that our hero is perplexed by the heavy box because you can't lift and pick your nose at the same time when you only have one arm—

Open again, this guy actually looks okay, walking down the street with ape in his stride and steel in his eyes, he nods with confidence at the wrong-way crowd he's cutting through, despite the fact he's not wearing any pants—

Open again, and fail to negotiate the turn—

Kick a cybercop in the nuts—

Drink sentient paint—

And Die—

Die—

Die—


The search for heroes is an exercise in the elusive. You open the box and the waveform collapses into someone entirely unsuitable for what you know is to come: large energy-interaction events, gunplay, robots. And so that person slips in the shower, mercifully, and we move on. The players were rolling straight, dumping stats and crossing off entire lives to find the one—The One—capable of maybe making it more than three steps into the first episode.

Now, rolling up characters in Traveller has all the excitement of doing taxes, with charts, sub-charts and paragraphs of snore-inducing rule-ese. This tedium is broken only by the occasional thrill of character death—that's right, you can die during character creation.

I prefer not to think of it as "death" per se (such a quaint notion) but rather as "a minor discontinuity of existence". This is the far future, after all—the only way to really die is to get blown to plasma with all recording devices pointed away or off, and every backup scrubbed. Fly into a star with all copies of yourself hugging and crying, say. Even then, they could theoretically reconstruct you from old home movies—sure, you're kinda blurry and say the same things over and over, but hey, you're back!*


Fig. 1 — "But I don't want a symbiotic fungus or a robot brain!"
Characters who "die" during CHAR GEN** get Special Referee Treatment—I come up with the broad strokes of the mishap (with details filled in by the player) and the resulting, uh, "benefit" of having seen the Light but getting Carol-Anned.[1] And we got two juicy ones in this go-round: a "training accident" and a super-future science death.[2]

In addition to a sheet of numbers, I asked the players to tell me:

1. What are you running from?

and

2. What's in your "go-bag"—a single duffel you could exit a burning starship with?

Beyond that I let them have pretty much whatever they wanted because, hey, it doesn't really matter. If you want a shoulder-fired nuke (or three) you will encounter all the problems one should expect carting those around, so it's all the same to me. You poke, the universe flips back and bites. All in the name of good, clean fun.

And so we have:

"Graft" [real name redacted], a flimflam man-cum-pilot [3], owner (?) & operator of the 100-ton Imperial Scout/Courier (Type S) starship Long Game.

Played by:

George Rothrock
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
Games!
badge
mbmbmbmbmb


"Lord Zatticus", an engineer of noble birth with cybernetic "Dr. Moreau" shadings—"That's what you get when you focus on meat," he says to IX, his forearm-hugging robot shrimp/cockroach/thing. Or did IX just say that to Lord Z? It's... unclear.

Played by:

David Sullivan
United States
California
flag msg tools


Jack Styles, the corporate investigator, KIA during Scout training, resulting in the hasty implantation of a relatively low-tech lung analog. He can hold his breath a Really Long Time, breathe under water, and even operate in vacuum for short periods.

Played by:

Derrick Farwell
United States
California
flag msg tools


Vannevar "Vann" Gödel, the information systems savant, KIA during Imperial Navy research into consciousness and information weapons synthesis. He got flatline scrubbed—dead and gone... Until he came back after painstakingly reconstructing himself. Now he exists not as a point-source inside his own skull but as a cloud of functions hosted in local networked devices.

Played by:

Tod Kuykendall
United States
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb


Three techs and a bagman—should work out great once the shooting starts... [4]


*And how is this different from the character you were playing anyway? Zing!

**"We really are 'generating char', aren't we?" — George

1. WARNING: This pop culture reference is 32 years out of date. See Poltergeist (1982).

2. "I figure I'm the Hulk, or Spider-Man," said Tod.

"Or Spider-Hulk," I replied. "'WHY EVERYTHING STICK TO SPIDER-HULK'S HANDS?!' you bellow, 'PEOPLE, FLYING CARS, BUILDINGS!' as you wave screaming wads of ever-growing junk at the ends of your tree-trunk arms."

3. Hopefully I did not just pre-nickname him. See below.

4. Will update with actual names when they are provided.†

†Names are important, and one cannot just pop the first one off the top of the mind. They must be carefully crafted so as to be evocative of some inner je ne sais quoi, yet easy to remember, and, most importantly, difficult to morph into an awful nickname.††

††Our group is notorious for this. Case in point: "Fruitsack". What was his original name? Honest Tom, Tom Strong? Who knows? He's been Fruitsack so long no one remembers. He has always been, and will die as, FRUITSACK.

NOTE — Part of the session was spent looking at a picture of a hamster eating a banana. What this has to do with anything is TBD.
21 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
The Cathedral is vast, as are you.
mbmbmbmbmb

Fig. 2 — CLOCKS ARE TICKING
22 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rusty McFisticuffs
United States
Arcata
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Pre-thumbed faster than rating a game a 10 based on what you read in someone's Essen GeekList.
15 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonathan N. "Spartan Spawn, Sworn, Raised for Warring!"
United States
Summerville
South Carolina
flag msg tools
designer
ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ
badge
"By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe."
mbmbmbmbmb
Sit down kiddos, Naughty Uncle Hivegod is about to take us for a ride.
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Dodd
New Zealand
Martinborough
flag msg tools
designer
July 5th Miramar -Be There!
mbmbmbmbmb
I really don't want to click on that second tag link to see where else it leads... But I can't miss this.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
George Rothrock
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
Games!
badge
mbmbmbmbmb
FIRST (well, first player, to check in)

Is it Thursday yet?

- Grafzepp
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
I tingle.
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
♬♪♪ ♫ ♩ ♫♫♪ ♩♬♪ ♫
Australia
MURRUMBEENA
Victoria
flag msg tools
All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance... (Iain Banks)
mbmbmbmbmb
Gola wrote:
I tingle.

It should stop within a couple of days of starting medication.
8 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brett Christensen
United States
Dickinson
North Dakota
flag msg tools
designer
Pat OwlOrbs on the head.
badge
Rub the wizard! You should probably wash your hands.
mbmbmbmbmb
WHY MUST I WAIT?
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeff Wiles
United States
Macon
Georgia
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb



Will I get a subscription notice when HiveGod edits those placeholders? I think not. I will have to leave this tab open and refresh it twice daily.
14 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeff Wiles
United States
Macon
Georgia
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
HiveGod wrote:
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
The Cathedral is vast, as are you.
mbmbmbmbmb
SESSION 1.0 : DROP KICK
Out of darkness the world comes rushing, leaping from a pinpoint of distant light, filling everything in a single, vertiginous blink—

CONSCIOUSNESS ENCRYPTION AND REBOOT COMPLETE

—scrolls past as breath enters you like the bellows of a winding clockwork, then squeezes out the nozzle of your head in a precise and puzzling waveform:


Fig. 3 — And so it begins.

The last man complies immediately, dropping to the dusty concrete slab with the other settlers—shivering men and women, little wads of children. Now it’s just you and two other figures standing, strapped with the bandoliers, satchels and assorted gear of dirty work, heads flickering between funny clown, scary clown, ball of static.


Fig. 4 — But I repeat myself.
The space is lit by a too-bright sun through a shattered doorframe, window spaces flapping with grimy plastic sheeting. There is a counter with jars of dubious candy and physical deadbooks on actual shelves, like a library for info-cripples.

And the vault.

It dominates the room, tons of it, the massive deep-gray cube of a starship safe room, repurposed here as a wall, a primary structural element, and for God-knows-what inside. Lurid neon arrows strobe from the breaching charge in Lord Zatticus’ go-bag to the wireframe blast door.

And all the while a peripheral bank of timer overlays are spinning toward 00:00:00.

There is the smallest moment of what-the-fuck, a brief sway of disbelief before the whole thing collapses into the communal shrug of we’re here, we’re geared, we must know what we’re doing.

“Set the charge!” Vann bellows even as Zatticus is halfway there, tugging the black brick of pure hell from his bag and orienting the aggro-pulsing WARNING end away from himself—

And then the door to the shitter bangs open—

(When Pesil left for work this morning he kissed her full on the lips, and, in turning to go, paused, came back again for more. That ineffable taste of warmth. Enough to last him the day, he thought, he hoped, enough to last him a lifetime. And now he had just come off the toilet into [NO IDEA], one hand on his sagging, unbuckled pants, the other on the grip of his holstered 10mm high-velocity HAVOC-grade autopistol.)

don’t pull, don’t pull, don’t pull, the three think simultaneously, the concept bouncing between them like skipped heartbeats though The Loop as they turn to look.

But they always pull.

Zatticus hits him with an ionizing laser taser, a beam of light cooking the air into a channel for neuro-frequency electricity, looking for all the world like he spat a bolt of lightning. The guard spasms back into the shitter, hand off the gun and not quite out cold, but done enough.

“Hey—what are these timers for?” asks Jack as the first one runs out.


MEANWHILE, IN LOW ORBIT:

Graft snaps to, shaking the words from his head—get on the fucking floor—trying to stand and finding himself webbed into an acceleration couch in the womb-like bridge of Long Game. Ship systems wake with him, a crash of data, updates, status feeds. And then the smell—dangerously unwashed human, shit, and just a hint of rotting food. He unlimbers the Fracas Brand “Little Dictator” shottie velcroed above the center console, pops his restraints, and prepares to cycle the iris valve to the rest of the ship.


EDGEWATER COMMUNITY CENTER, CHANDER (B651597-10), 43 KM FROM THE CREEPING LAKES:

The autocop strides past the door, ill-fitting uniform buttoned all wrong over peeling chrome. The bot freezes, moonwalks back and extends a pipe-crimping metal claw. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, citizens! What in the name of Law is going on in here?” Its faceless head blossoms with local Loop queries, limp data probes, and at least one tight-beam to a city-wide routing node.

Vann seizes these, turns them back into the autocop as choking ligatures, hard-crashing the thing. The machine executes a peppy jig, loses its balance and clatters to the sidewalk, inert.

Zatticus prepares to set the charge, only to have it leap hungrily from his grasp and clamp itself to the vault door.

“What did you set it for?” asks Jack.

“Two minutes,” says Zatticus.

“Better make that fifteen seconds,” grunts Jack, “we got incoming.”

Another timer hits zero as an air/raft brakes hard outside, nose-up to catch the passengers on the decel, throwing up a massive cloud of dust.


CHANDER LOW ORBIT:

Ship gravity is set at a punishing 2.5 gees—Graft dials it back and feels the flesh rise on the scaffold of his skeleton. He screws his fists into the shottie’s grips and pops the door with his mind.

The corridor is ankle-deep in used food packets—Might-T-Mite™ Bars, “Your Budget Human-Chow Solution!”—and the fresher looks like a probability map for feces-in-the-bowl-on-average. The common area has been reimagined as an impromptu weight gym, with what look like fuel drums, hastily disassembled landing gear parts, and other assorted heavy what-nots fashioned into inhumane exercise equipment.

The staterooms appear unused, the beds incongruously neat and clean, though one room is packed floor-to-ceiling with boxes of Might-T-Mite™ Bars, sagging rows of angry cartoon lice, all bowing up repeatedly with six bulging arms, grimacing with menace, li’l puffs of steam coming off their myriad eye-festooned heads.

The ship is clear and Graft’s alone. He accesses the galley for a drink and finds the food routines have been wiped and replaced with a pharmacopeia: anagathics, antibiotics, anabolic steroids, stim, combat drug, everything and anything, really, covering the gamut from safe and legal to none of the above.

He checks time stamps and finds missing... months. A year-and-a-half of them.

Where the fuck have we been?


EDGEWATER COMMUNITY CENTER:

The autocops dismount from the air/raft in combat mode—uncanny valley be damned, they move like the things they truly are, cartwheeling, skip-crawling, eerily acrobatic.

I LOVE THIS PART, broadcasts the first one as the air/raft stands on its nose and swats the whole pack of them to junk against the sidewalk. Vann then snaps it into the sky with a sonic boom of dismissal.

And the breaching charge—


a silent whomp of pressure blindness tinnitus


—there is only wireframe. More than enough to stumble into the vault and peel the indicated armored drawer, bag it, then step on a squirming body or two while staggering toward the light. Emerge from the debris cloud and hustle around the corner to Long Game’s air/raft parked in the alley, not quite strapped in as Jack spins it up over the rooftops and punches it for the desert horizon.
24 
 Thumb up
3.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb


I love a good heist.
14 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
The Cathedral is vast, as are you.
mbmbmbmbmb
SESSION 1.1 : HERE THERE BE NONBEING
CHANDER LOW ORBIT:

Long Game was currently in an authority-controlled parking orbit—the entire local volume locked down—while elements of Her Majesty’s 3801st Expeditionary Fleet underwent refueling operations at Chander Highside. The naval detachment consisted of a pocket carrier—a “backwater swatter”—the We Really Mean It This Time and her four destroyer escorts: Lodestone, Duke von Eld, St. Anvil, and Burnstar. DEVIATION MEANS DEATH scrolled endlessly across the locked-out and slaved flight controls. As if to underscore the obvious, the HUD cheerily displayed the constellation of dormant missiles the Navy had thoughtfully sprinkled across the prescribed orbits.

Graft synced his personal and the ship’s logs and began to rewind them, overlapped, searching for the last unedited memory he could find. Everything smeared backwards across five star systems, five jobs—all involving ancient starship bulkheads repurposed as housing on shitty worlds—and in between they either lifted weights, gorged on insect protein, shot junk or just stood in the corners. Back, back through eighteen flickering months until he found it—that night in the starport bar where the Average Man parted company. Graft let it run forward and there they were, passing time off-ship, maybe looking for work, and the Average Man just walked up, sat down and ordered a round they never drank. As one they stopped talking, rose, and followed him out of the bar into a blur of dead days.

Someone hailed the ship, was instantly recognized and patched through to Graft’s head.

(+) We’re in trouble, aren’t we. It was Vann.

(-) Or someone else is about to be —replied Graft— like this guy. He shared the log data in a single, wind-taking punch.

Pause.

(+) Okay, we’re gonna need evac. What’s your ETA?

(-) No can do, orbit’s currently under capital-N Navy lockdown. Can you drift up here?

(+) Things are... kinda hot right now. We’ve lit up the local police net and while it
hasn’t trickled up to the next echelon I’d rather not risk it. One way or another we
need to disappear for a while.


(-) Roger that.

(+) Let’s go lo-pro and let things ride. In the meantime I’m gonna see if I can’t
locate our, uh, patron.


(-) Let me know when you find the bastard.

(+) Will do.


CHANDER PLANETARY LOOP, CASUAL SURFACE PASS:

Vann left the hard ride behind—the wind, the buffeting, that searing horizon—and dropped into the quiet cool of the local Loop as a nonexistent POV, piggybacking on everyday activity, becoming a standard pattern in the beehive hum of social ephemera, the exchange of credits, porn. Floating on this ocean of human churn, as both peaks and valleys, as foam tossed and dissolved again, he began the most cursory of searches, a bland pass with the biometrics of the Average Man, letting that shape drift down, down through inert databases of ubiquitous camera feeds. Nothing invasive. Nothing forced or finagled. Just a letting go to see what happens...

After a brief sifting—a hit.

A camera found him sitting at an outdoor café—average of height, weight, age, pigment and mode of dress, the bump of the bell curve budded into a full-fledged man with a balding pate and delicate hands. He was bringing a cup of coffee to his lips, gently, when he suddenly stopped and looked directly through the camera and into the very depths of Vann’s soul.

Vann punched out reflexively, severing all feeds and throwing off a spatter of link-eating malware, leaving that ocean with an inverse cannonball-splash that disrupted service planet-wide.


CHANDER LOW ORBIT:

(+) Long Game, Long Game we need immediate evac, the shit is here
and it is deep, please reply—


(-) I told you, I can—

Long Game, this is Imperial Navy Orbital Control.”

(-) Hang on, I gotta take this. “Go ahead, INO Control.”

Long Game, we show you deviating from your assigned parking orbit. Correct your trajectory immediately or we will fire on you.”

Graft quickly scanned the ship's feeds—they were all nominal and super-unexciting green.

“Uh, INO Control, I’m not seeing it on my end. Flight controls are locked and slaved to you. Look again, there has been no deviation—”

“Park it or you’re done.”

“I said there’s no deviation! INO Control!”

The ship registered a hard radar ping, followed almost immediately by the pulsing growl of three missile locks.

“Three missiles tracking,” said the ship helpfully.

“INO Control! I’m—aaaw, fuck this!” (-) Vann, I’ve been fired on. Evac is inbound.
ETA two-hundred-twenty seconds. Don’t ask, just duck.
16 
 Thumb up
2.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
George Rothrock
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
Games!
badge
mbmbmbmbmb
Graft: Decrypt In Case Of Persona Waveform Failure
Graft.
Not my real name. Forgive my being a little cagey, but you’ll understand after I explain. I was the middle child of a mid-middle-class family of show biz folks. I spent my teen years managing a theatre, sweet-talking money into backing our shows and “managing” the corrupt landlord and the local street gang extortion. I saw the horizons on a life bound by a stage and began operating in the street-level criminal element; after all, I had seen the shakedown racket, albeit as the ostensible victim.

I began working the con. I spent 8 years on the street, learning the pulse and movement of illegal “commerce,” a near-universal in the human experience. Developing the skills to run cons, heists and even work as a bagman, I did everything except enforcement or wet work. For the transcript, I have had to kill in the course of my work. But that gretch deserved it.

I managed to stay clear of any serious syndicate entanglements, however, preferring to become an independent contractor, hired for one-shot jobs, and repped-out for professionalism.

But, the con was my schtick, and I always returned to it. Success at the con means moving up the food chain, and that means better-heeled victims. After working a number of mid-level art and investment scams, I finally realized that the real money was in the world of legitimate business. I started a very ambitious long con to fleece the cheddar generated when major government contracts land with multi-state corporations. I had joined the bureaucracy, hoping to get close to the process where multi-billion cred deals are made. Generally, a corps’ stock goes up when a new contract is announced. Except, in the case of well-know players… for instance, everyone expected that Solar-Dyn Industrial Health (well-known wank-hive of corporate crap) was going to get the pediatric douche wash contract, so the markets didn’t really give a shit. I learned that all on my own. Yeah, after a fucking year on the inside of a bureaucracy. And hey, you know what? Bureaucracy is about as mind-numbingly boring as you’d think. Actually, exactly as mind-numbing as you’d think… But, two years later, after I stopped whinny about it, I found an angle.

I had been doing a side scam, really just to keep my hand in. I had forged academic credentials and was lecturing over at the local college when I met Mika Richardson. She was perfect… economics and computing, brilliant and under, ah, “appreciated.” She had written a computer program to analyze the interplay between different stock markets. I saw an angle, and carefully explained it to her. She did like the idea of proving to everyone she wasn’t crazy (she was) but she didn’t really have the nerve to use it. Six months of “appreciating” and whispers and I was set for the twist, the payday and the blow-off.

My Plain Jane genius was set to execute the sell-buy-sell routine that would run the Solar-Dyn’s stock through a short sell, bargain basement acquisition and a sell-off across three system’s stock exchanges. All it would take was the carefully orchestrated impeachment of the corp’s CEO… No problem, he had a mysterious past, Messr. Tommy Pellion Wilbaforce. Emerging recently to take over Solar-Dyn he was the perfect blank-screen for me to write a scandal on. Twinks, blow and vid-stim saw to that, hitting the regional TG with a vengeance just as the markets closed. Why break the story as the market closed? Well, to give the story time to run, the CEO time to wipe off his chin and the investors time to look for safer harbors. By the time the markets opened the next diurnal trading cycle, things would pop. Or rather, “drop.” Solar-Dyn’s stock dropped like a hulled planet ship, and the short-sell was on.

I had cleared a million creds, crazy Mika was waiting for me on the moon while her Teaching Assistant was “discovering” evidence that she had attempted stock manipulation and fled the juris-sphere, when I got a call. Shit. The S______ Family. Fuck Shit. S______ was a three-system crime family with lots of nephews, nieces, cousins, etc. Turns out cousin Tommy was going to run Solar-Dyn and was looking forward to the contract for his payoff. A payoff he had earned by allowing himself to be sent to the penal moon of Richman Poorman and vibra-knifing a SUSPECTED snitch, and then waiting out his 5 year stretch. No wonder Messr. Wilbaforce was a blank screen. I stared at the man on the other end of the hook-up. He really had, I admitted numbly, earned that payout. He was also sensitive about the whole twink thing, given his recent long-term incarceration with men. Though he did appreciate that I had scripted him as a top.

They had found me through my academic creds. I had stupidly taken the time to get the degree recognized and included in my permanent record. Great, I’m now a Doctor of getting royally rogered by the S_____ family. Well, not by Tommy. He is NOT into it.

I ran. I enlisted in the Scouts under a new name and began doing my time. I transferred and spent my Solar-Dyn payday by hacking my mustering out package over the next four years. My CO was a bit surprised when the Scouts handed me a ship and the TAS membership at my mustering out. But, hell, he could find nothing wrong. Of course he wouldn’t, I had actually requisitioned and paid for the ship with my stash and then “presented” it to me at mustering out. Why? Well, .75 MilCred purchases can be tracked pretty easily. MilCred accounts can be found. This way, the Scout Service bought a ship and presented it to Graft, and I had no large, tell-tale buckets of money to link to me.

I was out. I had a ship and I was only 34. Things were looking simple for the first time, in a long time...
17 
 Thumb up
2.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
The Cathedral is vast, as are you.
mbmbmbmbmb
SESSION 1.2 : NOT REALLY MADE FOR THAT
CHANDER LOW ORBIT:

The math was bad—deorbiting on cocktail napkin scrawl was the kind of stuff you never really heard about, for obvious reasons—but when he squinted one eye and hand-waved the 1.5 you could multiply any redline rating by, it kinda worked. One way or another he’d have her on the ground in three minutes or so.

He dropped the link and unpacked the tiny knot of code Vann had woven for him, the one for brute-forcing ship control in emergencies. With a puff it wiped the lockouts into swirling motes of evanescing color. Graft seized the ship and did the first thing every good Scout knew to do in times like this—he killed all inflight alarms.

“Three missiles tracking,” said the ship, “non-atmospheric ship-to-ship, low-yield chemical warheads. Impact in ninety-three seconds.”

“Bastards aren’t even trying,” muttered Graft as he kicked the horizon up over the viewports with a chord of ragged thruster puffs, cold-started the fusion torch with a thump of antimatter, slammed the antigrav array into FULL DOWN and hard-throttled the drives up to an orbit-crimping three gees of acceleration.

A kilometers-long bolt of blue-white light lanced from the stern of the ship, a full-spectrum beacon screaming WATCH ME RUN.

For a moment it felt like nothing—the inertial compensators humming along nicely—and then the airframe kissed the atmosphere at 6.8 km/s, setting up a mean shimmy that grew as the plunge deepened. He had the ship pointed ass-backward and nose-down to bleed off velocity and altitude simultaneously, but this meant he was slowing with respect to the missiles.

“Ah,” said the ship, “recalculating. Impact in thirty-two seconds.”

“Lemme know when we’re at eighteen,” Graft said more quickly than he liked.

“Thirteen seconds to mark,” confirmed the ship.

The shimmy broadened into an irregular judder as the three missile pips on the HUD began to converge. He swore he could almost see the glint of rocket motors through the viewports...

The ship cleared its throat, making Graft jump. “Aaand—mark.”

Graft cut the drives, flick-spun the ship on its center of mass with a bulkhead-warping twist of the AG array—aiming the drives at the missiles—and throttled up the fusion torch to max-times-one-point-five. Point-six. Point-seven. Point-eight

“Loss of telemetry,” cooed the ship. “Probable impact in twelve seconds.”

The viewports showed wisps of orange light at the edges, plasma from the barely-controlled reentry. The seconds crawled by, each one slower than the last, as the glow increased to wincing incandescence.

“Attitude correction critical,” said the computer.

“I thought I disabled inflight alarms,” snapped Graft.

“But this one’s really important,” replied the computer.

“Talk to me about the missiles.”

The computer paused—not really, but Graft knew this one well enough to tell it skipped a beat. “We have no telemetry and are beyond all calculated impact times.”

“Say it—”

“It is most likely, given the missiles’ capabilities and our current flight status—”

“They ate plasma.”

The computer said nothing.

“Well,” said Graft, “there’s only one way to find out.”

He killed the fusion torch and eased the nose up into a configuration more in line with proper reentry protocol, watching the orange glow recede from the viewports.

Nothing happened.

And then more nothing happened.

And now the problem of go was the problem of stop.

Graft dragged lines on the HUD into fat S-curves and a final bone-crushing spiral to bleed speed at something he hoped the airframe was over-engineered for. Long Game would be pulling some machine-only gees in there—if the inertials blew, he would, too.

As the autopilot took over and started something resembling “flight”—albeit at a good Mach 17-plus—Graft laid in an override program to feather the AG array to grind against the gravity field, hopefully in a way that wouldn’t peel it from the keel. The horizon began to flatten out, and he could see dirty cloud tops far below.
22 
 Thumb up
2.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Graft, you magnificent bastard.
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
The Cathedral is vast, as are you.
mbmbmbmbmb
SESSION 1.3 : YOU KNOW THAT FEELING WHERE
CHANDER DIRTSIDE, 126 KM FROM THE CREEPING LAKES:

The Scout ship, hull smoking, fell from of the sky to match velocity with the air/raft at just a smidge below the speed of sound. They raced over the desert landscape, slowing, their flickering shadows converging until they kissed at a couple hundred kph. The cargo bay doors began to slide back—and stuck halfway open. The air/raft glided close, peaked in a turbulent patch of wash, fell away.

“Open up!” yelled Jack.

Graft banged at the virtual controls as an annoyed buzzer sounded through the commlink. “No can do—airframe’s fucked. Can’t chance the doors sticking for our exfil. You can do this, cowboy—“

Jack snorted.

“—just don’t touch the sides.”

The passengers ducked and leaned as the air/raft rose, tilted precipitously and finally slotted sideways through the narrow gap and into the cargo bay. The doors immediately began to grind shut against the wind.

Jack slammed the air/raft into the landing locks, powered it down and rubbed the goggles from his face. Vann and Zatticus climbed out like old men, careful and numb.

“Strap in,” said Graft over the intercom, “We’re making orbit in three minutes, breaking it in eight.”

“There’s a plan?” asked Zatticus.

“Your words, not mine,” replied Graft. “You guys have sixty seconds, then we’re going vertical.”

They began to hustle up the ladder to the common area.

“Strap in?” asked Jack, “Did you fuck the inertials?”

“No—just the airframe. When we hit max Q we might—”

“Do it.”

So he did.

Long Game pulled up and stood on its tail, accelerating upward at the relatively pokey rate afforded by the protesting AG array—at one klick up Graft killed the array and lit the fusion torch and they screamed for the sky on a beam of starfire.

The three minute ride to the top of the atmosphere was a teeth-rattling grip-fest, but Vann was calm as he poked into the local satellite net and spoofed a crash site. The data wouldn’t hold up under deep scrutiny—jump drives, in particular, gave off eerie readings when they came apart—but it should be good enough to get them up and out. He followed that with a retroactive scrub of any recognition of their ascent, made easier by Graft’s flight “plan” which put them up into orbit and out on a ballistic trajectory while in Chander’s planetary shadow with respect to the fleet.

Vann hard-killed all I/O dataflow, and five minutes later Graft shut down the drives and they coasted, at orbit-breaking speed, beyond Chander’s beige limb, the tiniest bit of junk flung into a vast volume of space, falling toward the moon called, in the fashion of exhausted interstellar settlers everywhere, “One”—and the emergency refueling station there.

As minutes ground into hours the optical telescopes showed no pursuit activity, or at least none they could see, and so Vann cautiously raised the curtain on the ship’s passive comms—


YOU SIT UP IN BED STARTLED AWAKE THE
MOONLIGHT THE MOONLIGHT BRIGHTER THA
N YOU THE MOON PRESSED AGAINST YOUR
WINDOW A SINGLE VAST MOON-EYE GLARIN
G INTO YOU THROUGH THE TRANSPARENT M
EAT TO THE PART THAT CAN'T BE TOUCHED



—Vann slapped the ship dead, killing the power plant, decoupling the capacitor banks, all systems gone to silent black in an instant.

Four heartbeats later, someone whispered, “Vann, please tell me that was you.”

“It was,” Vann replied, “We’re good... I think.”

“And?”

Vann hesitated. “I—it—he—that thing—was here,” he stuttered.

Silence.

“Let’s keep everything off for a little bit,” someone else said. Then, “How long can we go without enviro?”

“As long as it takes,” said Graft.


ABOARD LONG GAME, BALLISTIC CRUISE TO MOON ONE, T-63 HOURS TO TURNAROUND BURN:

The slow, methodical restart of ship systems was fraught with terror—expanding ghost-forms trying to wake inside all things cybernetic, slow motion explosions that wanted to eat everything that knew anything. Vann and Zatticus entered into microsecond duels with the malware, corralling it, anticipating the lycanthropy of escape, until finally, in the half-beat squeeze of a heart, they isolated it into two physical substrates in the ship’s data core. Jack pulled them with isolation tongs, suited up and went EV, standing on the hull, taking a plasma burner to them beneath a black sky filled with the local star’s hard light and Chander’s withered reflection.

I/O remained physically dead as they painstakingly certified the ship as “clean”—at least in an infohazard sense.

In the cramped and garbage-strewn common area the crew took stock of what they knew:

+ They had been hacked by a being of immense infocentric power—powerful enough to trick Imperial Naval fleet elements into firing on them—most probably a strategic-weapons-grade AI.

+ They had been used as tools to take, by force, objects held under various security regimes along a chain of backwater worlds, and then immediately plasma-torch those objects.

+ The object currently in their possession was a grey, thumb-sized block of dense material—an inert, read-only datawad, dumb storage, with no Loop-integrating software. It was labeled in curling masking tape and two fat, black, hand-lettered words:



DEPTH MANTRA

22 
 Thumb up
3.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
The Cathedral is vast, as are you.
mbmbmbmbmb
And so ends the first session. The good news is that the second session was just a routine refuel op!

[INSERT WHISTLING ROBOT NINJA HERE]
16 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brett Christensen
United States
Dickinson
North Dakota
flag msg tools
designer
Pat OwlOrbs on the head.
badge
Rub the wizard! You should probably wash your hands.
mbmbmbmbmb
Any time I see an adventure title in Futura - I brace myself for TPK.
10 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tod Kuykendall
United States
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
...never refuel...never get out of the ship...never refuel....

Went pretty much according to plan... pretty much...

...never refuel...never get out of the ship...never refuel....


Which number ship is this again? Today, I mean...

...never refuel...never get out of the ship...never refuel....
10 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tod Kuykendall
United States
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb

Vannevar "Vann" Gödel, the information systems savant, KIA during Imperial Navy research into consciousness and information weapons synthesis. He got flatline scrubbed—dead and gone... Until he came back after painstakingly reconstructing himself. Now he exists not as a point-source inside his own skull but as a cloud of functions hosted in local networked devices.

Played by:

Tod Kuykendall
United States
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb


Vannevar strongly objects to the stigmatizing KIA label from his time in research because he considers it more of a "forced field test in distributed consciousness". After his successful return he and the research sector mutually agreed that they should part ways. It seems that the people who attended to his body during his absence or had come to terms with his death never quite readjusted to his return and Vann's 'resurrection' made everyone at least a little uncomfortable. This was actually fine with him since he now had a new goal to pursue and he found that the discomfort of the meatbound his former colleagues silly.

He smoothly transitioned to the Navy where is ability and affinity for computers and communications lead to a steady series of promotions all the way to Commander despite an otherwise undistinguished service career. (But those promotions are real and proper - just ask the computer.) After a couple of tours harvesting vast computer resources and hanging 'in the rear with the gear' Vann's obsession with achieving "fluid electronic consciousness" forced back into the private sector to fund his interests.

Several years of acquiring and spending vast amounts of credits, "cash" and other, more untraceable currencies has embroiled Vann with a large number of people who wanted to move things or data in untraceable ways and the people who want to track those things. But ultimately all of these concerns are just a means to an end. The only real possession he cares about is his consciousness and it's the one thing taken from him at the start of this story. He has managed to reclaim it piece by piece and he has it back now. And as angry as he is that someone managed to take it from him... that "person" is one of the very few that can actually steal from him the only thing he actually cares about.

=Tod aka Vann

PS In an ultimately futile attempt to get in front of the nickname shamewreck - of which I am one of the worst perpetrators - I've tried to saddle my character with a series of pregen nicknames.
Top contenders so far:
"Get in the" Vann
"Free Candy" Vann
"Windowless Panel" Vann
15 
 Thumb up
2.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Derrick Farwell
United States
California
flag msg tools
The klaxon sounded too soft; this was only the nightmare. No. He doesn’t want to, but in the dream he can’t stop himself. Not again. He looks right, to see her. Vivian, trapped in the sparking remains of her copilot’s console, slipping beneath the rising tide. The water strobes from beneath, as the avionics surrender to the ocean. In the dream, he doesn’t feel his crushed legs, but he is pinned, all the same. He cannot undo his crash webbing.
The water is rising.
“Babe…” she gasps.
No.
Her eyes, so gentle, lock onto his. “It’s okay, babe. This wasn’t your fault…”
The water covers her curved mouth. Then, her button nose. And then it covers her soft eyes.
Then his.
NO!

With a gasp, he awakens to a different alarm; high pitched, incessant. Breathe…
“I’ll take…” Breathe.
“I’ll take the call,” he announces to the room, his voice thick and cracked. Soft lights come on, and a wall panel illuminates the image of a woman’s face. Blinking, he swim-rotates to face her.
“Hey, babe,” Velcro rips as he unlimbers his torso from the floating sleepnest. “I’m on the way back now. Should see you in two.”
“What were you trying to achieve by filing a CF2807?”
Straight to the point. He was wide awake, now. Breathe. “What, no smile? I missed you too.”
“Cute. Stop it, Jack. This is serious.”
She had that look. “Okay, okay. What’s the problem?”
“The problem is that you have misappropriated funds, and diverted it to…”
Quickly, now... “Misappropriated? Whoa, whoa, whoa, sweetness. No. I submitted a request for supplies and, and medicines to be delivered to…”
“To what, Jack?! For what, Jack?!”
Stay calm. “So the victims could stay there, Angela. They don’t want to live anywhere else, and they needed help to recover. And this makes our division look like heroes," he finished with a wink.
She paused at this, and drew back from the camera. “They were supposed to leave, Jack. I thought you were on board with this one.”
“What… what are you talking about?”
“There’s enough mineral wealth under that settlement to secure the next three cycles, easily. Probably more.”
“Yes, but…” His stomach lurched, as it dawned on him. “You mean…”
“Wake up, Jack.”
Zoom in…
“Jack, this is no game.”
Dolly back…
“Jack, stay with me. Now, listen carefully. I need you to reroute that request you filed to…”
Heart racing… “Fuck.”
“Jack…”
Cold sweat, trickling … “That.”
“DAMMIT, Jack!” Then, softening, she continued. “We can do this, hon. I didn’t get us this far to see you throw all…”
“What?! You knew what I would find, didn’t you! Before I even got there! This wasn’t some random accident.” He paused, and weighed her expression. So icy. “There were families there, Angela. With children...” His voice dropped off.
It was several heartbeats before she spoke. Lifetimes. Then, “You coward. Three fucking cycles, Jack, secured on our mission! How can you throw that away?! Our percentage…”
Steady, now… “I quit.”
“You’re finished, Jack.” Her eyes flashed wildly, as she smiled. So cruel. “I’ll have you hunted down, and when you…”

He cut the link, and the room darkened. His thoughts flashed to the boy on the stretcher, covered in his father’s blood.
That boy will die. He kicked free of the bedding.
They would all die. Angrily, he dressed.
Three thousand lives. Leaving the stateroom, he pushed down the tubeway.
For three cycles of profit. At the captain’s hatch, he jabbed at the keypad.
“You’re up early. What is it, Company Man?”
“There’s been a change of plans.”
15 
 Thumb up
7.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rusty McFisticuffs
United States
Arcata
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Public service announcement: If you've enjoyed the top RPG session report of 2014, you will also enjoy this review of dice.

HiveGod wrote:
A blizzard of gravel in a dumpster. The noise drowns the buzzsaw rip of the guns and the windscreen goes gray with debris scoring.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.