Playthrough: Chiron’s Doom (Part 3)

This is Part 3 of the playthrough. Part 1, Part 2 can be found by following the links.

Arol Hernez (4 of diamonds)

Spooked by the approaching shuttle Varis pushed the group hard, into the superstructure of the Array where still functioning gravity plates negated the need for magboots and filament tethers. Having spent most of his life aboard ships Arol was the first to drop the pace set by the initiate, his suit barely managing to keep up with the sweat pouring down his face.

“We must be… half a click… deep by now,” was all he could manage between breaths, “there ain’t nobody… picking us out from here.”

It took the support of Layla but with no signs of pursuit he was able to convince Varis to slow the breakneck pace to one that allowed the expedition to properly take in their surroundings. They’d entered into a faintly lit tunnel, roughly twenty meters in diameter and lined with smooth, glass-like panelling that stretched endlessly into the distance. It was another twenty minutes before they same across the body, impaled on the curved wall by a broken panel only metres from another narrow entrance. While Varis helped aided him in cutting it free their patron explored further down the tunnel, hoping to come across anything the poor soul may have dropped.

The body was in poor condition and had clearly been exposed to the vacuum of the tunnel for some time. It was only once they had retrieved it that the scale of the injuries became truly apparent. Bones broken in multiple places while the suits control modules had crumpled in on themselves. Patching into the suit Arol was able to gather only the last few seconds of data, a silent video of individuals running towards the opening while the tunnel pulsed with a faint light. The perspective went haywire, as the fateful individual was thrown from their feet and met their end. The suit recorded a series of gravametric spikes, cycling between from weightlessness to 25g in a fraction of a second.

Beneath their feet the light pulsed without notice. A flash, then another, the separation between them closing with each repeat of the cycle.

Layla Saidi (King of Diamonds)

With the exception of the body it appeared that this section of the tunnel was empty. Whatever expedition they had been a part of was either unsuccessful or had chosen loot over the body of their companion. As she delved further it was the tunnel itself finally caught her eye.

“Did you see that? The light is getting stronger,” she voiced over the comm, kneeling down to inspect the surface more closely.

“What did you say,” came Arol, his voice only barely audible over a static that had suddenly swamped the channel.

“The light,” she shouted to ensure she was heard, “there’s a pattern and it’s getting stronger. The tech is active, there may be something to salvage here.”

It was only then that she looked up at her employees who were frantically waving, trying to get her attention. The static dominated the channel now, drowning out the words as the Navigator and Initiate ran for the nearby opening. Panicked by their actions she sprinted after them, getting mere metres before finding herself afloat, gravity having disappeared in an instant. As her hands fumbled for a filament line the gravity pulse hit, a fatal wave of acceleration that flung her from sight in an instant.

Varis (3 of Spades)

Varis and Arol had made it to the entrance with seconds to spare and could do nothing but watch as Layla was swept to her death. Death amongst Initiates was rare but not unheard of, the Knights were a martial force above all else, but the death of this woman she barely knew hit surprisingly hard. Without conscious thought she began to recite the Homeward Prayer, the words of return and rebirth that had comforted humanity through their long voyage to the stars.

“…you who have never known the soils of Earth yet yearns for its embrace. Find the beacon, your way home child of Sol. Walk the path, follow the Light and be at peace…”

The decision to turn their back on the tunnel required no words and the three that had become two continued on in silence. After only a few minutes they passed through an airlock and the passageway opened up onto a large, open space teeming with activity. Compact XenoTech drones buzzed through the air, working on an object at least the size of a small frigate. The noise would have been overwhelming without the suits, as materials were cut and welded into place with machine precision. At the base of the object was a small encampment. Human figures in stylised armour that mirrored the design of her own lightweight suit.

The Knights of Ceres had a foothold within the Array and there was no turning back.

Playthrough: Chiron's Doom (Part 2)

You can find Part 1 – Setup of the playthrough here. This part covers the first round of cards, one for each of the characters.

Arol Hernez (8 of diamonds)

While Saidi may have acquired the discrete landing craft for the expedition there were no questions asked when Arol sat himself down in the command chair and began to work through the boot up procedure. Departure from the orbital hub was a routine and almost entirely automated process. They ran cold during the journey to minimise the chance of detection and Arol was asleep in the chair when the Array initiated its activation sequence. Plugged directly into the sensor suite his subconscious was submerged into the shifting flow of the gravity wells. Random fluctuations and inversions were revealed in their full glory and intuition overrode conscious thought and tunnelled a channel through the turbulence. By the time the klaxons dragged his mind to the waking world the shuttle had already achieved what should have been impossible – navigation through a gravity storm. As the craft drifted the final few kilometres to the landing site he struggled to hold on to what he had witness, but with each attempt to grasp onto it the vision only slipped further into the darkness of his mind.

Layla Saidi (6 of diamonds)

The shuttle had barely touched down on the surface of the Array before Layla was out of the airlock on the search for an entry point. Thanks to Arol’s apparent navigational prowess it didn’t take long to find one, a hole a dozen metres wide where the metal surface had been ripped back by an unknown force. The violence of whatever had occurred was severe, the Xenotech that powered the Arrays was renowned for its ability to repair itself yet the damage here was untouched.

Layla knelt down to inspect a piece that had attracted her attention, a small storage module. Her suit decrypted the data with surprising speed, identifying a repeating code segment that each and every child was familiar with – the transmission that the people of Earth had received many years ago. She recited the words silently as they played back in her earpiece,

“…as we fade into the dark we gift you this, our knowledge and our hope. Beware the Path of Light, which seduced our kin and will reach back…”

Wait no. That wasn’t right. The Transmission didn’t include a warning. Had the Builders changed their mind, omitted the mention of danger when they reached out to the Earth? What if the Transmission had been altered, the warning hidden? The possibilities were endless and if not for an untimely interruption by Varis on the intercom she might have taken the time to consider the potential consequences of holding onto the module. For now though, there were more immediate concerns.

“We need to get inside before they enter scanning range…” came Varis’ voice, cutting through the silence of space.

Varis (2 of Spades)

The proximity alert she’d programmed into the shuttles sensors was crude but did the trick. Under the protection of the XAP mandate the Knights flaunted laws and regulations in their search for the truth. Their agents had free access to each of the Arrays, regardless of threat or activity. Despite that knowledge, etched into mind while she endured the initiation the signal ping still surprised her. A small drive plume, likely a scout or squad carrier with active IFF was at the edge of their passive sensor range and closing. The Knights would have spotted the shuttle, of that she was certain, but detecting her implants would require face to face contact. Escape wasn’t an option so that left hiding within the Array. She checked her seals one last time before pushing through the barrier of the airlock. The pilot Arol was a scant few metres ahead, their untested employer further still.

She took a breath, activated comms,

“We need to get inside before they enter scanning rangeā€¦”

#RPGaDay2019 5th August: ‘Space’

August has come around once again which means it’s time for RPGaDay 2019. In a shift from the questions format of previous years this year is characterised by a series of prompts, which I’ll be attempting to answer each day with a short post, with the prompt word highlighted in bold each day.

Day 5: Space

I want to write an epic space opera setting using either Cortex Prime or Faith Corps (the Demon Hunters system). It’s only in the early stages but my current thoughts are centred on a single system that was colonised after the discovery of alien megastructures that appear to have been built specifically for humanity. I’m still trying to work out overarching details of the setting before I even think about the themes I want to explore but my current aesthetics are 70s/80s novel covers and various animated sci-fi shows. When coming up with scenarios I often start with a big picture mental image from a single scene. Whether it’s the setup to a fight, with an aging dragon prowling around the PCs or a setting overview, in this case a dysons array of synchronised orbital platforms with enormous solar collectors.

The trick will be going from that picture and building up the questions and details into a framework for a game. There needs to be a clear ‘this is what you do / what this game is about’ that I can then use to refocus the mechanics. I think part of the reason so many space games have failed is that they have made the assumption that ‘fly around, shenanagins happen’ is enough. If you look at the majority of space opera novels they tend to have this established, deep setting but the drive of the stories comes from an external change that pushes the characters forward. That’s what I want when I get around to writing my own setting, something people can pick up and say ‘I know what the author wants me to do here.’