XCONS Session II: "Infection"

To introduce the deadliness and unpredictability of the Verge, the next session had them approach the borderland, a space station overlooking the immense Red Nebula before them. The Red Curtain before them, they make a quick stop for some repairs and fuels before the long trip.

This was a rather fun game, where there were cantina scenes, as well as a Ridley Scott Aliens survival scene where they encounter an unknown lifeform, as well as a climactic self-destruct scene, where the team is forced to disarm the bomb, or die. Everyone did pretty well with this session, and though there were situational delays due to rules lawyering, it went rather smoothly enough that everyone had fun… enough fun to forget that time flies.

I was rather surprised the time was 1 a.m. as well. Here’s a quick look of what happened.

XCONS S01E02: “Infection”

“No science is immune to the infection of politics and the corruption of power. ” – Jacob Bronowski, Scientist

Act I: Droid Whisperer The scene began with Doctor Ramus, the resident scientific quack of the ship, ran about in the ship holding a piece of slipper. His antics damaged the Stardrive, and almost boosted the off the galaxy if not for the timely intervention of our newest PC character: Ion Parsons – the woman who can talk to machines.
Enter, flashback. Ion Parsons has been a slave for most her life, being raised by androids in her time with the Zamorran Guild. When her powers grew beyond the guild’s control, she was thrown into prison – supposedly to live the rest of her days isolated from both humans and machines.
She was approached by the Admiral Tsukiyama to become one of the Acarina’s crew, to help retrieve a valuable A.I. – HELEN – back to the Federation. Only she can access HELEN’s databanks in case the Rebellion has tinkered with her original directives, and thus, was very important to the mission.

  • Rvel notes: Frankly, I had a hard time gming in Ion’s flashback, and I’m sure it showed… There were a bit of confusion on character mechanics and character concepts from start-up. It’s also quite hard to establish a personal character-centric scene for a character who has absolutely no human emotion, as well as trying to roleplay Artifical AIs and Oven Toasters. (Yep, you heard that right… Oven Toasters.) I was juggling ideas in active time left and right on how to make the storyline more ‘involving’ but alas, I failed on this one. I figured since the story was about infections, that Ion Parson’s whispering power ‘may’ be called an infection as well… (and eventually create a parallelism between her powers and the Big Badd’s later on) so I tried to show that in the flashback, with androids risking their life for her, despite the programming. I’m not sure if anyone managed to get the hint from that opener… but I suppose that was a mite too ambitious and complicated to implement in an action-oriented game. Oh well, my mistake. Moving on…

Act II: Roaches and Starships The scene, after the flashback, continues with Doctor Ramus running around with his slipper… which is later revealed to be chasing after a cockroach loose in the ship. Trying to kill it, he tries to hit it several times with his slipper – but misses. The largest damage happens when he accidentally hits the StarDrive and almost launches them to Hyperspace – but thankfully Parsons managed to stop it, by singing a lullaby to the StarDrive.
Worried, Talver does a life signature reading on the entire ship in order to locate where the roach was and if it wa sposing any danger to the FSS Acarina’s engine. Alas, the readings went wild, revealing at lest 50 blinking dots – all roaches, nesting underneath their very floors.
Worse, the excess energy the StarDrive collected from its near-hyperjump released itself on a random ship compartment (after a roll, it was decided to be…) Life Support. 60% of the ship’s breathable air was suddenly all gone – dissolved into space.
Now, the optional stop at Ithaca Space Station (an Independent Open Port) was deemed necessary – and they stop there to repair the StarDrive, the Life Support, and the forward engines… not to mention fumigating the entire ship.
I’m not sure if any picked up on the description of the scene, but Ithaca was supposed to be a beautiful awe-inspiring place. Before them is a giant red sea, The Red Nebula (which has the same legend inspirations as modern time Bermuda Triangle) where few dared to cross. There was a brief cantina scene here, as well as allowing the characters free reign with their characters to do as they wish. Aedon Talver was the only one hard at work in this scene, buying and bartering for parts and repairs on the ship, as well as paying for the ‘fumigation’ of the ship. Dolly Jane tried to smuggle a few objects and to hack the computer system, but thought better of it. And Ion Parsons tried to access news data to obtain new information for her nanites. Prisoner X, Vimes and Captain Crichton shared a few tales with the locals about the Red Nebula, and discover tales of a Ghost Ship wandering within – one that kills anyone or anything it comes across… also, being approached by a fellow bounty hunter, Vimes discovers that there is a new bounty on them posted recently, because of their theft, murder, and vandalism of a major scale in the Floating Market scenario. Fortunately, the Bounty Hunter did not recognize any of them.
Once they were finished, the crew left for the Red Nebula.

  • Rvel notes: Silence before the storm… And a big setup for what’s to come… The roaches scene was more important than they expected…!

Act III: Crossroads As they travel through the blinding Red Nebula, it is only through Talver’s skill that they could even survive the trip, (Talver rolled a 4 on navigation!) where he managed to find a practical non-dangerous route toward their destination. However, they were met by a mysterious Star Cruiser, Federation in Design – and seemingly old and decrepit – as if it was stranded in that place for 10 or more years. (I did a funny gimmick here, where I simulated the entire crew’s deaths when they hammered head on against the ghost ship – resulting in a painful explosion that kills them all. But I later showed it was just Talver’s precognition – which he hastily avoided.)
For something like 30 minutes real-time, The Captain tried making a decision between leaving or boarding the fallen vessel. Orran Voss, an NPC Federation Officer, urged him to board it – because it may have survivors inside – but Prisoner X disagrees, saying its too dangerous and would conflict and threaten with their primary mission. Dolly Jane was troubled, and had a gut feeling to not join the boarding crew. Ion Parsons asked Aedon to pilot the ship close enough so that she could speak with the A.I. – wherein she got a coded and typed message in their primitive computer monitors. The words “Everyone… dead… save…us.”
After speaking with the dying A.I. of the ship – it reveals its problem… it was not alone. Something had ‘infected’ its systems, and whatever was there, it had full control of the ship. The A.I., who introduces himself as Demetrius, has been compromised, and asked Ion to save him.
Parsons agrees and promises the A.I. that she would save it. But the final decision still fell with the Captain.
Finally, the captain decided. “Get your space suits, people. We’re boarding.”

  • Rvel notes: There were clashes in decisions in this part of the sequence. And the Captain (Nychuus)did freeze for a moment, because of the crew’s conflicting desires. Vimes wanted to go inside (because the action was there) but X, forever cautious, wanted to avoid it. Talver didn’t want to harm the ship unecessarily, and wanted to just run away from the ghost ship (which he probably can) while Parsons wanted to fulfill her promise to the A.I. Dolly didn’t seem to worry eitherway, as long as she keeps away from that ‘thing’ that can infect her A.I. Finally convinced that they at least need to try and save the survivors, the Captain opts to enter.

Act IV: Ghost Ship There were only four space suits available for the team, and they needed to activate the space cruiser’s life support before the rest can follow. So they chose a group of four people to act as the ‘field team’ – Nathaniel Vimes, however, had an armor capable of full life support and radiation protection – so he joined in, making it a total of five. The Field team were as follows: Crichton, Vimes, Parsons, Dr Ramus, and Shela Kuei (the Harem Girl, a new recruit from last session). The captain ordered Prisoner X to stay, wanting him to be near the ship (though Orran Voss markedly remarks to Prisoner X that the captain probably just didn’t trust him.
Upon entering the ship, Talver makes a new scan of the ship, altering the coordinates enough to allow a zoom feature in the scan. Like his earlier scan of the Acarina, it was revealed that there was an Infestation of metallic insectile creatures throughout the cruiser. Shouting a warning at the field group through his comm, he managed to warn them before the first creature showed itself and attacked them.
Vimes, secretly a Psion Warrior, was the most disciplined warrior among the away group, and was the most pivotal in keeping them away from the creatures. He used his “Force Push” skill quite creatively here, pushing the creatures away like billiard balls. Ion then runs to the nearby door and speaks to it, urging it to let them enter. The door hesitates, but opens.
The door shuts behind them, trapping one creature through the door – as it tries to claw itself in. But thanks to Vimes abnormal 30 STR, he pushed them back easily.
Ion, now realizing they trapped themselves in the control room, tried to talk once again with the A.I. – but too late, she discovers that the original A.I. is dead, overwhelmed by its attacker. And the one that remains is the invader. “Good day, Ion Parsons.” it typed in the screen.

  • Rvel notes: I was half expecting the field team to engage the enemy through combat – but they played smart and ran from them instead. And the result was cool, simulating an Ridley Scott Aiens-like environment. I described the insectile creatures as metallic yet seemingly organic. SO it was potentially mankind’s first discovery of a xenobiological creature. The crew inside the Acarina also had an attack within, where kalindrel’s character, Aedon Talver – decided to risk it and to ‘alter’ the gravitational pull of the ships so that it would simply be magnetic in nature. This stopped the creatures cold in their tracks (including Vimes who wore metallic armor)

Act V: HELEN “You are quite different from other hu-mans I have encountered.” HELEN began. Parsons and the field team then asked the A.I. why it had attacked the ship, wherein it replies that it did not bear any ill will to the people she killed, it was just part of her programming. It appears HELEN was responsible for controlling the mechanical insectoid creatures. She then makes a direct contrast between ‘destiny’ and ‘programming’ where their respective creators had prepared the road for them to travel, and they have no choice but to continue it through. Ion then said that she will reprogram her, no matter what it takes. HELEN then further challenged, that even though it is part of her programming to stop anyone who would try tor each her, she also wished that the crew succeed in stopping her. But she cannot abandon her programming. (After a complete tie on a persuade vs persuade roll, neither of the two backed down)
“It is a conundrum.” said HELEN, but stated that she found a way to fulfill her programming to try and stop them, but at the same time to give them a chance to reach her. Immediately, everything shut down, and the A.I. of HELEN disappeared from the systems… instead replaced by the numbers 0100 in the screens.
AT first the group thought it was a code of some kind, and Parsons thought it was a binary code. After a click, however, the numbers revealed itself for what it was. It changed into 0099, then into 0098, then into 0097… It was a countdown! “Self Destruct Sequence initiated.” And furthermore, HELEN made sure that the sequence couldn’t be closed down again.

  • Rvel notes: Everything went crazy when I began the countdown. The metallic creatures have all been rendered inert as soon as HELEN left their control. So then, the whole group came a-running to try and deactivate the explosive triggers scattered throughout the ship.

Act VI: Self Destruct Upon discovering that the ship has activated the self destruct sequence, everyone looked at Captain Crichton for guidance. Will they flee and sacrifice the survivors or do they attempt to disarm the sequence with only a minute to spare? Crichton’s honorable nature decides to risk it.
This whole part consists of finding the stowed explosives, and trying to disarm them without the use of electronics. Ion managed to disarm most of the bombs using her nanomachines, who flood the explosives and disables them. Dolly Jane try to disarm one of the bombs, and encounters a young child afraid saying that there’s a “ticking monster” under her bed. As soon as they forge past the residential part of the ship, they finally find the dead crewmembers of the starcruiser, all massacred by the mettalic creatures. The captain was the first to come to the engine room, where the last detonators were located… rightly placed in the radioactive area of the StarDrive.
It was revealed to be twin bombs, where both must be rewired and deactivated at the same time, or else they would trigger each other, and blow up. This was easily solved by Ion’s nanites (once again) as she removed her radioactive gloves (!!) and touched the detonators to activate her power and disarm it. It was disarmed with no problems, and it seemed everything was finally done.

  • Rvel notes: I realized in this session how powerful a 50 point VPP is. Since a VPP transform power is potentially a swiss knife solution for just about everything. I asked Kalindrel to finally give Ion’s nanites some stats, since its no-roll auto-success system seems to take away the tension and innate danger… especially from that last scene… which should’ve been far crazier and nastier than a simple touch and go moment.

Act VII: Epilogue They finally find the survivors, numbering only 3, though the lifesigns of the fourth survivor was no longer found anywhere in the ship. Dolly Jane and Vimes went out to find the last survivor … but with no luck. Finally, they agreed they should leave the Red Nebula as soon as possible, lest another danger surfaces.

  • Rvel notes: Overall aside from some debates on real-life bombs as well as some confusion on character limits… this went particularly well. The resolution was a bit anticlimactic, but that’s to be expected in a pen and paper rpg, isnt it? This was thoroughly both fun and a bloody headaching session, since we went around 7 hours straight… right past midnight, just to finish the game. I especially liked the PC-NPC interaction here, particularly rping HELEN. All in all, this was a moment of pure Ridley Scott fun, kinda like a what-if… Riddick met Aliens. Good RP and decision stuff from players all around. Kudos to kalindrel for the ‘magnetic’ moment, mads for the HELEN moment, and wowz for the alien pinball. _ So far, the only long downtime in this session was the ‘deciding’ moment – wether to go in the ship, or to leave it be… but other than that… KABOOM.
XCONS Session I: "Pilot"

Okay, I didn’t realize some of my players still actually read this page – and last session they’ve been asking what happened to the Session one Report. For this reason, I’ll have to make this a double-post. One adventure log for session one, another for session two. Here’s a quick recap on what happened during session One.

XCONS S01E01: “Pilot”

“History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower

This episode is how it all began, the pilot episode, the origin story in all its glory. This is a story how a crew of 6 of the most dangerous mutant criminals were forcibly recruited by the Federation, and tasked to investigate the “Blackout” in the Verge, and what has caused the deaths of Seven Federation Starcruisers and countless innocent lives.
This was one good episode, albeit a long and stretched one. Each of the guys did very well RP-wise in launching the pilot episode into cinematic flair as possible in a pen and paper rpg. Its one of those few eps that actually felt like it had pace and direction. Equal amount of laughs, and equal amounts of action, equal amounts of story. Also, Mawf comented that it was nice that each player had a chance to shine… and now that I think about it, ya they did. This eps got a lot of shining player moments that its kind of hard to enumerate them all.
There was Nychuus and his epic ‘desperate’ scene – where he faced against an army of slavers, and he was forced to self destruct his ship. There was Mawf and his HANNIBAL moment. There was Wowz and his dogfighting skills of piloting his fighter ship straight to a stardestroyer’s hangar. And quite a lot more… as I said, there’s quite a lot.
Overall, I’d say this launched the campaign pretty bloody well, much better than I expected. Plus, the guys and I had fun, can’t ask more than that.

Act I: The Hundred Year Old Man
Enter Crichton, trapped in his memories of grandeur when he was a great captain, and the great betrayal that he suffered from Rattlesnake, his first mate. Ever since being cryogenically frozen for the past hundred years, the Federation had thawed him – and accused him of abandoning his crew at the mercies of pirates and slavers. He was found guilty and sentenced into ‘house arrest’ in an isolated part of Alpha Centauri, in a retirement home of old war veterans. All of this happening in the backdrop of a green peace, no drums of war or rattle of guns, only the sound of a lawnmower cutting the grass everyday. While some may have been gladdened by the peace, Crichton was not. It was sickening to hear the old stories of old men of what they used to be, and playing nothing but games of battleships and chess.
Crichton, however, was not meant to die as one of these old geezers. He was approached by Admiral Tsukiyama, and he gave him an offer he cant refuse: His old position as captain, a new crew, a new ship, a new mission. He was offered freedom and a second chance, all he had to do… was ONE LAST MISSION. However, he didn’t really specify how much of a LAST mission it was. Crichton, sick of the old battleship games and the retirement home, decided to risk it no matter how dangerous – and agreed.
“Better to die out there than to live in here.” Crichton said.

  • This was a rather cool scene, especially the beginning, where we fashioned a flashback scene of Crichton reliving his past in his star destroyer (triggered by his loss in a game of Battleship)... he was betrayed by his first mate, and surrounded by enemies. The words “Self Destruct Sequence.” and “Prepare for ramming speed” and kicking his nemesis into the deep dark space beyond, was just some of the EPIC this scene had.

Act II. Visiting a Madman
The Prometheus Detention Facility has Six different levels. Level One consists of the prisoners of the lowest degree, humans and low levelled mutants. The higher the level in the Prison Facility, the greater the threat they represent to the general public.
The Elevator Crichton was in stopped at Level 6. The highest security level. But it was still not their stop. There was an urban legend in the Prometheus, that there was one more level… Level 7, that held only one mutant. One whose power was unparalleled and whose threat against the Federation was so high that they dedicated an entire floor to keeping him imprisoned. This was the Legend of Prisoner X. And they were going to have a talk with him.
Prisoner X was held beyond an energy field, one enough to vaporize a small tank if it passed through. He had taken down an entire military force of the Federation, and was deemed the most dangerous mutant in the galaxy. Unfortunately and ironically, he was also the galaxy’s only hope, being the only remaining ‘guide’ to the Verge area. Everyone else was dead. He was then offered… His freedom for his guidance.
And yet, Prisoner X did not seem the least affected by their play. X played a cat and mouse game with the Admiral, bending the offer towards his own means. And he ended up forcing the admiral to submit to all his demands. One of those demands being to accompany Captain Crichton in his mission.

  • Kudos to Mawf on this one, he was RPing a veritable HANNIBAL LECTER in this scene. Creepy guy behind the bars, and you could still feel the power in his tone. It set the tone pretty well for Prisoner X. Of course all that was to be changed in the next act…

Act III. Dolly Jane
Dolly Jane has been in Prometheus detention facility all her life. In fact, she sees it as her home. She knows nothing of the world, and acts like a child. So, when the doctor of the facility (who was enamored with Dolly) decided to convince her to escape the prison facility, things went haywire. The doctor convinced Dolly that it was all a game, and the hangar was the ‘base’ which marks the end of the game. Of course, the doctor only wished to smuggle the pretty young Dolly out of the facility and into his own house… but things would not go according to his plan. While the doctor was caught sneaking about, Dolly, who at first sight appears like your standard valley-girl, proved a shadow.
As easy as playing in a dollhouse, Dolly Jane infiltrated the facility with an ease seldom seen in a human. This was because Dolly Jane was not exactly an average teenager… in fact she was quite one of the most different people in the entire place. Smuggled when she was young into the prison facility, it acted not as her prison, but as her guardian in protecting her from whatever was outside that sought her. Because Dolly Jane is one of the rare D.O.L.L. Android models, and one that was highly sought after. She was sent in Prometheus, as protection. Now unwittingly, the doctor has placed her in more danger outside the walls than she would have if she stayed within.
Dolly traversed the Air Vents, and climbed down the elevators to finally reach the Harbor… where a starship waited. Thoroughly excited, she decided to stow away in that small ship in a piece of cargo box. Thinking it was just one huge game… “Hide and Seek! Teehee!”

  • This was insane. But quite fitting to Panm’s character. Dolly started as one of the quirkiest characters in the team, and remains to be one of the quirkiest to this day. My personal favorite was Dolly’s crazy scene with the garbage can… but we’ll get there later.

Act IV. The Lucky Streak
Captain Crichton was introduced to the ship, the F.S.S. Acarina, unfortunately, it was one of the worst ships in the galaxy – and required an extremely skillful pilot to be able to even have a chance of reaching the Verge. This lies to Federation pilot Lt. Aedon Talver – the so-called ‘Lucky Streak’ of the military. Its true, however, that Talver had just killed (some say assassinated) the powerful CEO of StarMech Labs Adam Spiner, and crossed one of the most pwoerful groups in Federation history. Because of this, he was imprisoned without trial, and placed in Prometheus, to reside among the most dangerous mutant prisoners. Obviosuly they expected a normal human like Talver to die a quick death in his prison cell.
Unfortunately for them, Talver was anything but normal. He was actually a precog, and seeing Adam Spiner’s future as a tyrant and genocidal dictator, Talver decided to roll his dice and kill him on the spot. That act has landed him in the prison, where everyone, not knowing what he’s done for them, was repaid by incarceration.
That was before the project. He was approached by Tsukiyama and Crichton, and offered another chance to fly the skies. Admiral Tsukiyama, who knew Talver personally, had insisted that he take the job. “This is a ship that only you can ride, Talver. I know it.” He said, saying the Acarina was ‘special’ even in Federation standards. Of course, he meant that the ship was ‘special’ in the same way that it is ‘disabled’ and ‘almost incapable of flying’ but he thought better than going into unnecessary details.
Talver knew this, for he already saw it beforehand, but he still said yes.

  • The Ex-military test pilot was well done in this sequence, though it would be nothing compared to the scene later on – when Talver takes control of a situation while inside the ship… making echoes of Gendo Ikari-ness. A distinct point that the ‘Away team’ does not get all the action, after all.

Act V. Falsely Convicted
Nathaniel Vimes has a harsh reputation of being a cruel, sadistic, and ruthless Bounty Hunter. Of course, that wasn’t true. He was a Psion Warrior, trained, disciplined and honorable. The reason for the difference was his mission… he was undercover. He was attempting to put to justice a lawless guild named the House of Zamora, when the Federation soldiers raided them. He was captured alongside team, and due to his reputation, was imprisoned deep in Prometheus. His cover was so deep, it had even fooled those inside his order.
All except one. Vimes had a daughter, and while she was still an apprentice in the Psion Order, she alone believed his innocence. So, working outside, she dedicated herself to clearing her father’s name. And now, she found a chance.
Being imprisoned inside the Prometheus would do nothing to prove her father’s innocence, so after hearing of Project XCONs, a one-time offer of the Federation for prisoners to be free in exchange for ONE LAST MISSION, she jumped at the opportunity. Unfortunately, she han’t read the report well enough. The LAST MISSION they detailed was quite… suicidal.
She hacked their systems and inputted Vimes’ name in the database. It was his one last chance to clear his name, but she just hoped he would survive the encounter. At least enough for her to see her father again, as a free man.

  • Father and daughter moment here. I regret not putting enough time on emotion and RP here, but we were a bit hasty with time. But still, Wowz managed to do this scene quite well, complete with the flashback of his ship ramming full speed into a Star Destroyer. One of those ‘epic’ moments.

Act VI. The Launch
This was the big reveal, where they walked toward the hangar and beheld the beauty of the F.S.S. Acarina – the “special” ship that they’ll ride. Of course, the moment was interrupted when its wings fell off, and half the ship’s metal plates fell with it. The engineer claims not to worry, because it does that all the time…
Not a comforting thought at all.
Finally, after being given the Mission objectives an the details, with Aedon Talver in the pilot seat, and the captain shouting the launch off, the moment was once again interrupted when they discovered the energy levels of the Acarina incredibly low. Upon reaching the energy cells near the StarDrive, they discovered a stowaway there (Dolly Jane), leeching energy from their very machines. She plugged herself into the energy cells and was recharging herself, with a face that appeared like she was enjoying a sauna. Since she was there, and heard everything else, and the fact that they did need a decent ‘infiltrator’ – they were forced to take the stowaway along.

  • Lol. Nuff said.

Act VII. Unscheduled Stop
Now this session would have been disappointing if they weren’t able to test out their builds in combat. But thankfully, they did manage to test their swords in the next scenario.
The crew decides to make an unscheduled stop, for repairs (because they still had the notion that the F.S.S. Acarina ‘can’ be repaired) they went to the so-called Floating Market, a starcruiser fucntioning as a mobile black market, and one of the contacts of Nathaniel Vimes during his times as a Bounty Hunter and gunrunner.
Gathering materials, his contact, a fat guilder named Mackinrae, urged them to enjoy their stay while his people outfit his (in not so many words) “junkyard heap of a ship”. Aedon decided to stay with the ship, overprotective of the Acarina, in case the black marketeers decide to double cross them. The captain and Vimes, however, were invited to the loft, and offered wine and women.
Prisoner X and Dolly Jane (a rather comic combination, as resulted in this mismatched pair – imagine Hannibal Lecter meeting Hannah Montana _) decided to re-outfit themselves, not wanting to feel unprepared from the dangers ahead.
Of course, the Acarina had unbelieveable eergy readings for anyone who tried to do so, and was quite a prize (sicne it contained within it… a fabled Stardrive.) And it was only because of Talver’s timely precogition that they were able to see their grim future. Talver saw in his future that the captain and Vimes was dead – riddled with bullets, and the guilder Mackinrae was enjoying his new ‘aquisition.’

Act VIII. Double Cross a Double cross
Aedon warned the captain and the Psion Warrior, and they immediately rose to protect themselves. The next few moments were a blur. The Psion Warrior reveals himself as an incredibly agile warrior, going inside a firefight with his energy blades and cutting enemy guards down like wheat, deflecting their gunfire, and doing tricks Anakin Skywalker would be proud of.
The Captain used his charms to convince a harem girl to help them out, and he succeeded so well (critical success!) that she instantly fell for the captain’s dashing figure. Besotted with the captain, she even took up her arms to protect him. This Harem Girl would soon prove to be another valuable crew member of the Acarina – albeit somewhat selfish and possessive of the Captain’s affections (Hooray for NPC recruitment, eh?)
Prisoner X then fought a fully armed bounty hunter, with a jet-pack, high-tech guns, and full-fledged armor. X gave him a wager that he can kill him with a small knife and a small knife alone. In an instant, the poor mook was beheaded. X took his helmet as a trophy, and went back home to the ship.
While he was doing this, X reveals that he has control over a powerful beast, and was in fact the one that held his true power. He released the beast to kill the guilder Mackinrae, and it was unleashed, leaving in its wake a trail of blood and guts, and the dangling dead body of the guilder.
Now, it was time for their escape.
Unfortunately, the ship was surrounded by Guild guards, and none would allow Talver and the rest of the crew to escape with their lives. But then, Lannar Halis (an NPC XCON and an explosives expert) had planted bombs near the Hangar, and cleared a way for the XCONs to reach the safety fo their ship, and into the space beyond.

  • And that’s how the first session ended. Overall, the guys handled their crew real well. I still have to see some great Jean Luc Picard Captaining from Nychuus but its to early for that yet… which is why I’m preparing a ship vs ship combat to highlight that Patrick Stewart in our dear captain. Fast thinking from Kalindrel was vital to the survival of the crew, so kudos there – as well as Panm’s crazy wacky roleplaying that just gave Dolly Jane that ‘crazy girl’ feel. Mawf had a good handle with his character, RPing a mass murdering maniac to the hilt, complete with an underlying current of regret. I can’t wait to reach the more emotional and character driven sequences here. And finally, Wowz got a chance to shine in his Mandalorian Jedi glory. But that’s not saying anything yet because in session two… he was about to do something quite different… I honestly never knew the Force played Billiards… (!?)
  • The test run on combat went well, and I may have made a mistake of not explaining the HERO rules thoroughly enough for everyone to understand, so there was a bit of confusion during the phase by phase combat rules. The guys had fun though, so the confusion wasn’t big enough to mess up the entire game. After the combat test run, I also had to nerf a few characters (which I rarely do) just to maintain game balance and saneness. I just realized how easy it is to break the HERO system and to abuse triggers and transform powers.
  • Finally, Mawf asked for the Verge maps (since X was supposed to be the ‘guide’ he needed it to plot his own course) so I’ll be uploading those here as well. Overall even though neither I nor the guys have played HERO before, nor played a Space Opera before, this went quite bloody well.
  • Update: Yah, as per Mawf, I did forget to detail kalindrel’s pure win decision to “Flash Freeze” the guards that was about to board the ship. Activating the ship’s shield – he blasted them with liquid hydrogen stored in the cooling system of the ship. Its going to be a hot ride from here to ithaca… but they did manage to escape the doublecross unscathed.
The Space Opera Game
A quick look at the genre

Okay, I’ve been GMing and playing rpgs for a while now, and I’ve done DnD high fantasy, 4E Steampunk, nWoD horror, political vampire, investigative nMage, and hack and slash 3.5. But I’ve never run or played Space Opera… ever.

I am quite surprised at the reception the peeps had when I suggested a Space Opera game. It seemed our group had a hidden cache of rabid starwars fans and closet trekkies. (I was even surprised some understood Huttesse! o_o) But anyway, since this is our first run toward a Space Opera Game, I suppose I best give a quick rundown on what Space Opera is all about.

The Space Opera Mindset

To be able to play in a Space Opera, you have to first think like a Space Opera.

  • Proper Names. Since I can’t exactly spend time to go to this type of specifics, and you still wish your character to be witty, just say something that is acceptable in the 20th Century, but change a letter or two to make it sound (as Trillian of Hitchiker’s Guide said…) “SPACEY.”
    For example, Seinfeld becomes Zanefield. Paris Hilton becomes Maris Zilthon. But some references whom you think still exist in the setting can still be said normally: like Burger King. Because I really think that even in Space, Burger King will survive. Note though: Don’t mimic other scifi stuff that substitute the word ‘Tele’ with the word ‘Holo’ (Television and Telefone becomes Holovision and Holofone) They’re uneducated translations. ‘Tele’ is greek which means “Far off, from a distance” and is still applicable whether Holographic technology is already possible. A Television with a Hologram is still called a Television, and so forth.
  • Also, I suggest watching films like Riddick, Galactica, Star Trek, Firefly, and Babylon 5 – as well as military scifi such as Starship Troopers, perhaps comics like Warhammer 40k and Star Wars KOTOR, and pop in some novels from Ursula Le guin and Orson Scott Card.
    Believe me, its like gentle hypnotism, before you know it, you start saying stellar galactic stuff out of the blue. (Sorry Classic Star Wars fans, I cant suggest it since classic SW doesnt really give too much hard-science to help give you the future-friendly mindset)
  • Pointyman gave more info on Space Opera roleplaying in his cool article here..

The Tech-Level

Space Opera, even Anime-inspired Space Opera, do not normally have superpowered beings. The exceptions, however, are the Warhammer 40k universe (who incorporates lichdom, psionics and eldar mysticsm), Star Wars (which, quite frankly, is just High Fantasy in space), and fantasy-inspired space operas (like Farscape and Andromeda). However to specify the setting of the game – let me put up things in the billboard:

  • The setting is neither too light nor too dark a setting. Its an unforgiving setting, yes, but one that doesn’t cross the emo category, but actually spoofs and makes fun of itself. Kind of like Firefly.
  • Space Roaches. When mankind went into space in their state-of-the-art starships, the roaches hitched a ride. So yes, your starships sometimes still need an exterminator.
  • Blasters, Proton guns and Ion Cannons are limited only to ships. The tech level in the game can only give you folks standard guns and ammunitions as gun-type weapons. So yes, like military scifi, there are still Desert Eagle revolvers and Arctic rifles in the game – and those are the most widespread weapons. Experimental high-tech weapons, however, may still incorporate ray guns… but those are RARE. Think of Joss Whedon’s Firefly: The setting is similar to that.
  • Cigarettes and booze are still around. (Meh, was there any doubt?) Both of which has evolved past the “it can be hazardous to your health” to downright toxic. Some inns are known to challenge people’s constitutions by giving off special drinks called Sputzes to see if you can take it. These are highly experimental and may contain unknown ingredients scavenged from nebulas and the like. Many patrons have died off these illegal drinks, so be careful.
  • Stealth Suits ‘ala Predator do exist. But they are military grade, and are not widely distributed. If you have one, you can sell it for some massive cash. But then why would you?
  • My friends have been asking if there are Aliens in the setting. My only response to that is… FIND OUT. (lol) Anyhow, in this version of Alternity Stardrive, the aliens (Fraal and the like) have never been discovered, and FTL travel was done by purely human genius alone. (This ain’t Star Trek chums, this is more Firefly: no aliens… yet.)
  • Just to clarify… there are no hovercars in the game. There are still land vehicles (automobiles and motorcycles ala cyberpunk) and some sky vehicles (jets, skyships and the like). Its just that sky vehicles are much more expensive than the land-based ones. There are of course Starships, which make the costs of sky vehicles seem like that of penny-candies. Only the big ‘uns can have a starship. After all, even the crappiest starship o the galaxy is better than nothing.
  • Yes, there are cybernetics. If you lost an arm, apply for a cybernetic one. Androids are here too, artificial humans with computerized databases for brains, and are almost exclusively used for social relations. Robots are called ‘Droids’ in the game, and are mostly military in origin. Mecha and Powersuits however, do not exist.
  • FTL Travel is only limited to capital ships, destroyers, and star freighters. Small-sized starships are unable to use these heavy technology for the sole reason that ‘it just doesnt have enough room.’ The STARDRIVE (called Hyperdrive in some fiction)in this setting is still an experimental project.
  • Yes, there is human and animal cloning. However human clones are rarely accepted as ‘humans’ and are secondary citizens only. Some civilizations (particularly the Federation) use clones in ‘almost’ slave-like functions. Some more questionable organizations even make clones as infiltration devices, and some import them as specialized prostitutes. They are also known to clone food, especially in those planetary sectors that do not normally support domestic life.
  • Mutations in humans are there but very rare. Meaning your character, if you are a mutant – are one of the very few ‘special’ ones. Of course, the Federation, paranoid of the danger mutants may cause, do not see it that way.
  • You may hear references towards the First Galactic Age, Second Galactic Age, and the Third Galactic Age in the setting. These signify the changes in mankind’s lifestyle through the ages, similar as what we know as the Dark Ages, the Renaissance Age, and the Modern Age. Like them, most of the records regarding those ages are lost.
  • Quantum and Relativity inspired Tech levels should be avoided. STARDRIVE, the first of the Quantum tech is supposed to be one of a kind – that’s why its so dang unique.

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