Dead Suns Unlimited, Session 12

They continued to press forward and two days later they found the “Plague Bearer” described in Halkueem Zan’s journals. An enormous statue reclined across the open space in the middle of a ruined village from long ago. When they approached the statue, they were fired upon by the same sniper who had driven the yaruk to stampede. Cypher believed the sniper was in the head of the statue and focused his efforts there while the rest of the group rushed across the open space and searched for an entrance.

B. The Stargazer

GM’s Note: I did not like the original layout of the interior of the Stargazer, so I created this.

12.1

Two more cultists waited inside the middle chamber inside the statue with a pair of automated assault drones which fired on the PCs when they entered. Cypher and Switch worked on disabling the drones while the rest dropped the cultists. Meanwhile, the sniper waited in the third chamber for a chance to take out one of the PCs. When Ryder poked his head out, she nearly took his head off (with a crit) and scarred his beautiful face. The PCs rushed the third chamber and ended the sniper before she could do more harm.

With the cultist threat contained, the group studied the statue and learned it was called the Stargazer and serving as an observatory for the Oatian elves who lived near the Temple of the Twelve. Much to Nuil’s delight, they also uncovered evidence of the Maltur as one of them was depicted on the inner wall beside twelve elves who were ancient astronomers. At some point, the two cultures had met which explained how the runes could have been found in the temple.

As night fell, Nuil climbed the arm of the statue and realized she could see the Temple of the Twelve in the distance. It remained no more than a day’s journey ahead of them and she could barely make out shining lights moving in the interior of the temple.

12.2

The next day, the PCs completed the journey to the Temple of the Twelve and found an ancient village surrounding it. They wasted no time in the village and quickly climbed a narrow mountain pass up to the temple. At the top of the pass, they spotted the corpse of a cultist who had met an untimely end. Investigating the scene, they found a trap which had blasted the cultist with darts. While the examined the body, they were suddenly attacked by an adolescent mountain eel. The eel smashed Switch and tried very hard to throw the android off the side of the cliff. Switch scrambled to keep from falling and the group quickly killed the eel.

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Dead Suns Unlimited, Sessions 6-11, Part 2

The PCs went through a set of elf gates which transported them to Turhalu Point on Ukulam. They were met by Professor Khair al-Huaf who provided them with extra supplies for the expedition and his men transported the PCs 10 miles into Ukulam’s mainland. Castrovellian law prevented them from taking the PCs any further.

Nuil skillfully used her magic (Life Bubble) to protect the group from the heat of Ukulam’s jungles. While this did nullify some of the challenge of this portion of the adventure, it was a very smart use of resources.

A day into the expedition, the PCs spotted a large herd of yaruk. Nuil used her magic to communicate with one of the bulls and learned Eyrub’s group (or “not food” as the bull called them) had passed by a couple days before. As they prepared to depart, a sniper hidden in the distance fired on the bull and grievously harmed it. The bull roared and the herd began to stampede. The group fled for its life and fought their way through a skill challenge to reach a chasm with an ancient stone bridge which provided them refuge from the herd. The PCs could not locate the sniper and continued on.

6.3.png

A few days later, the group located the enormous obelisk which Halkueem Zan had written about during his expedition. As they approached, they were harassed by several kaukariki but the PCs coerced them to leave with offerings of their rations. When they approached the obelisk, the PCs were attacked by a large plant creature and the kaukariki circled back to flank the PCs. Those damned ungrateful critters! The PCs dispatched the threats and investigated the obelisk. They learned it was an ancient outpost for a place called the Temple of the Twelve and was built by ancient Oatian elves who once lived on Castrovel (long before the Lashunta and Formians).

6.4

Nuil, accompanied by Canary, climbed to the top of the obelisk and surveyed the surrounding area. She noted the increasingly hilly and mountainous terrain ahead and with alarm realized there was large moldstorm coming down from the mountains to the south. She quickly calculated they group had a couple days but she did not think they could outrun it. She returned to the group and they quickly set off again.

Later in the day, the PCs spotted a ksarik stalking them through the jungle. Wesley was struck by one of the creature’s darts and became infected with its spore. The rest of the group drove the creature away. Wesley was immediately weakened by the malady and they built him a travois so he could rest while they continued on.

In the distance, they heard cries for help and found a lashunta woman named Ralkawi who had also been attacked by the ksarik and was dying from the same affliction as Wesley. She revealed she was a member of Eyrub’s group, although she called him Tahomen, and they were all cultists of the Devourer. Tahomen had experienced visions of a weapon called the Stellar Degenerator and when he saw the holovids of the PCs on the Drift Rock, he recognized the runes from his vision. Investigating he also found references to Halkueem Zan and came to Castrovel to follow the same lead as the PCs. The PCs did not want to help the dying cultist and opted to allow her to end her own life if she so choose. And she did as they walked away.

Knowing what fate waited for Wesley, they decided to no longer race the moldstorm and constructed a shelter where they could tend to Wesley’s affliction. A day passed as they tended to Wesley as the storm passed and when it did, he had finally beaten it with Nuil’s help.

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Dead Suns Unlimited, Sessions 6-11, Part 1

The roar which echoed across the hangar came from a vicious creature called a garaggakal. The creature is native to the Drift and had made its home on the Drift Rock. It did not take kindly to its lair being invaded by humanoids but it did appreciate the opportunity for a quick meal. The creature attacked and the PCs spread out to limit its reach against them. Switch charged the monster and slowly began to push it back when suddenly, they were attacked by a sniper from behind. Clara-247, the pilot of the ship which had attacked them, had survived the crash on the Drift Rock. She could not find a way onto the Acreon or the Hippocampus so she waited for the PCs to investigate the Drift Rock. When they attacked the fearsome garaggakal, she finally saw her chance to fulfil her bounty. Two of the PCs turned to face Clara-247 while the rest dispatched the beast. Then the group collapsed upon the sniper and disarmed her.

 

Under interrogation, she openly admitted she was a bounty hunter who had been hired to eliminate the PCs. The ship she had flown had been provided to her. However, she would not divulge the identity of the Mr. Johnson who had hired her or who she was ultimately working for. She considered herself a professional and vowed, even under the threat of death, she would not violate that trust.

 

The PCs investigated the Sunrise Maiden and found the starship was in excellent condition. While they cleaned it up, Wesley opted to investigate the device which was generating the illusion which hid the entrance to the hangar bay. He salvaged the device and loaded it onto the Sunrise Maiden for further study. Their mission complete, the PCs launched the Sunrise Maiden and set a heading to return to Absalom Station.

 

Once docked, they found more than they had bargained for. It seemed Gevalarsk Nor had decided to broadcast the vid feed from their mission to the entirety of Absalom Station. Their activities on the Acreon and the Drift Rock had been turned into a “reality show” (minus some edited footage of some cargo the PCs had retrieved for Nor) and they had become minor celebrities.

 

The PCs met with Gevalarsk Nor briefly and learned he had received his cargo without any issues. He rewarded the PCs and gave them the bonus he had promised for the extra work.

 

They then met with Chiskisk to discuss the events on the Acreon and Drift Rock. Chiskisk accessed the Starfinder database and found matches to the runes they had found on the Drift Rock but they were required to visit the central repository in person to retrieve the data (as it was hundreds of years old). There, they found the runes match some identified by an explorer named Halkueem Zan who claimed he had found them in a lost city on the continent of Ukulam on the planet Castrovel. The PCs decided that would be their next stop. Chiskick suggested they travel to Qabarat and meet with an old friend of his named Whaloss who might be able to help them.

 

While Chiskisk was not looking, Cypher accessed protected data about the infamous Scoured Suns Incident. He had long suspected that Wesley’s parents had disappeared as part of that expedition and he was able to confirm it with what he found in the central repository. He decided to keep the information to himself for the time being.

 

The group left for Castrovel on the Sunrise Maiden. They arrived in Qabarat with no difficulty, talked the dockmaster into charging them a smaller docking fee, and then conned Whaloss into paying them the difference when they found him. Whaloss took the PCs to the Qabarat University where he planned to introduce them a Professor Muhali, the head of the department of Xenoarchaeology and Xenoanthropology. Unfortunately, they found her busy dealing with a controversy created by one of her professors, Ailabiens 21:2. He had written a paper and given a lecture which indicated the millennium-long war on Castrovel between the lashunta and the formians would have ended much sooner if not for the genocidal tendencies of the lashunta. Needless to say, this did not sit well with the lashunta population.

 

Professor Muhali promised to help the PCs if they could convince Ailabiens 21:2 to issue an apology. The PCs met with Ailabiens 21:2 and immediately recognized his pride and arrogance to be his weakness. They appealed to his intellect and convinced him to give the apology if Professor Muhali agreed to a few of his terms as well (reinstating him, giving him tenure, access to university archives). Order restored, Ailabiens 21:2 began compiling the research data the group was seeking on Halkueem Zan’s expedition into Ukulam. While the professor worked, the group explored Qabarat (Cypher visited a holonet café, Nuil left the city to study the local flora, the rest cased the local scene at a popular bar). When they returned to the university, Ailabiens 21:2 provided them his findings but admitted his work was not complete because some of Zan’s original journals had been checked out of the archives by Professor Solstrani.

6.2

The PCs approached Professor Muhali and requested permission to meet with Professor Solstrani. Muhali agreed and took them to meet with her but they found her office in disarray. The PCs investigated the scene while Muhali went to call security. They found Solstrani had been communicating with someone named Eyrub Paqual who was also interested in Halkueem Zan. Paqual tried on numerous occasions to lure Solstrani away from the university but she grew suspicious and declined. That is when two goons showed up and kidnapped Solstrani. Muhali returned with Detective Nipci from the Qabarat Police Department and they helped continue the investigation. The group also found a map which Solstrani had hidden which revealed she believed Halkueem Zan’s lost city to have been real, a place called Loskialua. Combined with Ailabiens 21:2’s research, the group believed they could find the lost city and possibly rescue Solstrani in the process.

 

Cypher also hacked the emails sent to Solstrani which reveals Eyrub Paqual was not the true identity of the individual contacting her but he could not learn more. He did learn where the messages had been transmitted from, a bar in the Five Arches and the group went there. Looking for Eyrub they were directed to speak with a smuggler named Twonas En. After some roughing up Twonas admitted he had helped Eyrub and his minions secure documentation to allow them to go to Ukulam. The PCs immediately went to Professor Muhali and requested permission to do the same which she granted. She also provided them with funds to help with the expedition. Above all, she wanted them to rescue Professor Solstrani but anything else of archaeological interest was also important to her as well. She sent Whaloss to accompany them to represent the interests of the university.

 

End of session.

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Dead Suns Continues!

Our campaign has not gone on hiatus but I have been lax about updating my blog. We started using Realm Works to manage our campaign and that is one awesome piece of software. It is so easy to manage the ongoing story there I had forgotten to update it here as well, hehe. No worries, I plan to fix that shortly!

In the meantime, we have started recording our sessions with OBS. This recording is from our last session and there is a jump between the last blog entry and the action in this session. This was our first time attempting this so the sound quality needs work and there was no real production work before I uploaded it. The video is very raw.

Enjoy and keep an eye out for blog entries bringing everyone back up to speed on the adventures of our intrepid heroes.

Dead Suns Unlimited, Session 5

I dunno what the hell’s in there, but it’s weird and pissed off, whatever it is.
– Clark (The Thing, 1982)

The crew decided they needed to deal with the illnesses plaguing them before they took on the challenges of the Drift rock. The akata had infected Star Crusher and Switch with the Void Death affliction. The decision was a risky one. Even with medical care, if the infected failed their saving throws they would quickly slide down the death spiral of the affliction track. However, they trusted in Nuil’s medical skills and the crew hunkered down for the time it would take their allies to recover. Nuil masterfully treated their ailments (providing bonuses to their saving throws) and the dice gods showed them favor. By the third day of rest, the crew was 100% and ready to explore the Drift Rock.

GM Note: I made a small mistake while handling Ryder’s exposure to medium levels of radiation during the last session. He needed to fail an additional saving throw to acquire the radiation sickness affliction. With this in mind, I opted to declare he succeeded on the second saving throw and had not contracted the affliction. 🙂

While his allies recovered, Cypher explored the data he had recovered from the Acreon’s main computer. He found the Acreon crew list.

Captain Dallas (male human)
Executive Officer Kane (male human)
Engineer Parker (male ysoki)
Navigator Lambert (female lashunta)
Warrant Officer Drez (male vesk)

Star Crusher decided to use Canary, the yellow-colored Witness drone he had modified, to do as much exploration as he could before the crew endangered themselves. Before he sent the drone out the airlock, he did some quick modifications to its code which would instruct the drone to turn around and return to the Acreon if it lost contact.

Up close the Drift Rock was strangely free of the usual wear and tear seen on normal asteroids. On the far side of the rock, they also found a large section had been sheered off, an unnaturally clean cut. Along the flat plane, there were two square openings which looked like tunnels leading into the asteroid. They began to speculate perhaps the asteroid was part of a larger structure or someone had built a structure within it. Canary located the hidden entrance noted by Captain Dallas and ventured inside. A short distance into the asteroid, the crew lost contact with the drone and it returned a few minutes later. Star Crusher’s extra protocols proved quite beneficial.

With nothing else to gain, the crew space walked down the cables connecting the Acreon to the Drift Rock.

They opted to enter the asteroid through the same route as the lost crew of the Acreon. The hidden entrance revealed a tunnel leading deep into the rock and after several hundred feet, they found the first survivor from the Hardscrabble Collective. Warrant Officer Drez floated in a nexus where the tunnel split into two tunnels leading in different directions. Nuil crept up to examine the unconscious vesk and was startled when Drez suddenly woke up. The vesk warrior was ready for a fight but cooler heads prevailed. The crew explained they had been sent to investigate what happened on the Acreon and to rescue any survivors. Drez questioned whether they had been sent by Astral Excavations and was content to hear they had been employed by Gevalarsk Nor, a neutral third party.

Drez had superficial injuries and a quick exam by Nuil indicated he was not infected by Void Death. They explained Void Death to the vesk but he did not fully comprehend what he was being told. Drez recounted how Captain Dallas had also been injured but had not transformed into an undead creature although his other crewmates had succumbed to madness before they disappeared. Running low on oxygen and supplies, Drez decided to continue on with the crew.

Dresnos

Interlude: Warrant Officer Dresnos “Drez” Honorscale

The Honorscale clan were mighty warriors but they fell to their enemies in the arena of politics and every member of the clan quickly found themselves ostracized by the Veskarium. When the Swarm attacked the Known Worlds, the Veskarium signed a tenuous ceasefire agreement with the Pact Worlds. An outcast, Drez saw no reason to remain with the Veskarium and he caught the first shuttle heading to Absalom Station. Among the aliens of the Pact Worlds, he found himself even more alone and it was a long time before he found his home with the Hardscrabble Collective. The Collective valued skills and work ethic over all else and the vesk warrior quickly proved he had both. When Astral Excavations offered an especially lucrative contract for survey work in dangerous territory, Captain Dallas insisted he have the best crew for the job and Drez was recruited to join the crew of the Acreon.

The work was hard and the hours were long. It took Captain Dallas’ crew nine months to finish their assignment. The database of survey data was immensely valuable and Captain Dallas estimated it was probably worth millions, if not billions, of credits to Astral Excavations.

While travelling through the Drift, they came across the Drift Rock. Initial scans picked up valuable metals and minerals and several noqal deposits on the surface of the asteroid. Dallas sent a small team to the asteroid who recovered the noqal nodes which they did not realize were actually akata cocoons. Further scans revealed a hidden cave entrance on the asteroid.

Sensing the life force of the Acreon crew, the akata hatched and attacked. Captain Dallas ordered the atmosphere to be evacuated but this had no effect on the creatures. Fearing for the safety of his crew, he programmed the ship to continue to journey to Absalom Station, gathered what supplies they could, and abandoned the Acreon for the hidden cave on Drift Rock. The akata viciously attacked the crew as they fled but Drez managed to drive back the creatures allowing his crewmates to escape. No one escaped unscathed.

Much to Drez’s dismay, Captain Dallas wounds were grievous and he died within hours of reaching the Drift Rock. Days passed and Drez’s crewmates began to suffer some unknown illness. Madness overtook them one by one and they began to disappear into the dark tunnels leading from the cave deep into the Drift Rock. Drez tried to keep the crew together but his efforts proved futile and he soon found himself alone. Peeking outside the cave, he could see Absalom Station and the Armada in the far distance but no one seemed to come for them. Days upon days passed and he began to fear no one would come to their rescue.

***

The crew moved through the tunnels which opened into a circular chamber (D2). In the middle of the room floated a corpse which Drez knew to the be Captain Dallas. Nuil examined the body but could not determine if the captain had been infected with Void Death. Some of the crew wanted to destroy the corpse but Drez would not allow them to do so. They opted to bind the corpse like the dead goblin they had found on the Acreon.

5.1

In the next cavern (D3), they finally came face to face with the fate of anyone who succumbed to Void Death. A grey and blue-skinned zombie with a long, purplish tongue leered at them from the darkness. The lone Void Zombie did not stand a chance against the crew. They quickly surrounded it and destroyed it. Drez was beside himself but seeing his crewmate face to face, he could not deny the effects of Void Death. Not knowing if Captain Dallas would suffer the same fate, the vesk backtracked and smashed the head of his captain’s corpse.

Void Zombie

Beyond D3, the crew found the strange, metallic walls of the inner structure of the Drift Rock. Much to their surprise, they discovered tech in the walls which restored normal gravity while they were in the hallway.

At first, they thought the next chamber (D4) was empty until they were attacked by an ethereal ghost (Drift Dead) which resembled a spacefarer but not one of the crewmembers of the Acreon. Ryder was caught off-guard on the front lines of the fight and an aura of confusion surrounding the Drift Dead overtook him. He took his baton and tried to break his own arm with it. Switch also became confused and began to babble incoherently. The ghost screamed for them to leave and attacked Drez, draining his strength with its attacks. Nuil became confused as well and began smashing her own face with her azimuth pistol. Switch managed to break free of the confusion and the crew quickly destroyed the Drift Dead.

Driftdead

GM’s Note: The Drift Dead was ethereal (50% miss chance on attacks) but the dice favored the players. They were not so lucky with their saving throws versus confusion. In the end, they did more damage to themselves than the Drift Dead did.

The crew decided to search the tunnels leading north out of D4 and after thousands of feet, they found they sheer exterior cut they found earlier on the outside of the Drift Rock.

Backtracking, they moved into a much larger chamber (D5) to the south of D3 and D4 and were attacked by the remaining two crewmembers of the Acreon which had also been transformed into Void Zombies. By now, Drez had gone numb to the horror of his crewmates and led the charge against them. Better to destroy them than let their souls linger and be transformed into more akata.

With the threat contained, the crew noticed a door leading south out of the cavern. The door was electronically sealed but Cypher and Nuil quickly hacked through the door’s controls. Through the door, they found more of the structure which continued to elude them and ventured east into D8 where they spotted a faint glow of light. There they found an ancient looking bank of computers.

Cypher attempted to access the computers but accidentally electrocuted himself. The malfunctioning computers electrocuted himself doing enough damage to take him from full hit points and stamina to zero hit points. Nuil leapt into action, treated his wounds, and stabilized him. He was administered a healing serum and took some time to catch his breath (aka spend resolve and restore his stamina).

Star Crusher examined the computers and disabled the short circuit which had caused Cypher harm. Despite this, they still had difficulty accessing the terminals. The core code used a language none of them was familiar with at first. Examining it closely, Nuil realized she was looking at the ancient language of the Maltur, the race which had genetically created the lamerta. Applying her cultural knowledge, the crew managed to access the system and learned the Drift Rock was part of a much larger structure and they were at one of many terminals which could control the larger structure. They downloaded the remaining data for further examination later and continued to explore.

Passing through two more sets of doors, they found themselves standing in a dark hangar bay staring at a Sanjaval Vagabond medium explorer starship.

5.2

Switch yelled, “I call dibs!” The sound echoed through the hangar and an incredible roar responded.

We ended the session on a cliffhanger. When next we play the crew will face whatever terror is hiding in the hangar bay. They also have a few other spots to explore in the Drift Rock (if they want to) and then we will proceed to the second module of the Dead Suns campaign.

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Dead Suns Unlimited, Session 4

Klaatu barada nikto
– Klaatu (The Day the Earth Stood Still)

As we began our session, the crew decided the best course of action would be to scan the Acreon and the Drift Rock. They detected low levels of radiation on the Acreon and could detect no life signs. Scans of the Drift Rock were inconclusive so the crew decided to investigate the ship first. Switch deftly maneuvered the Hippocampus to dock with the aft airlock of the Acreon and the crew boarded the larger ship.

4

They entered the Acreon’s engineering bay (C4) but before they could begin their investigation they spotted movement in the shadows. Two bluish and tentacled beasts climbed down out of the mechanicals running along the walls and attacked.

Akata

As the crew moved to defend themselves, their Geiger Counters reported low radiation levels in the port and starboard sections of the room. Fortunately, the radiation levels were low enough the crew were protected by their armor. Nuil identified the creatures as akata, aberrations which lived in the void of space and procreated by biting victims to infect them with a disease called Void Death. She also noted their one weakness, salt water.

Switch and TIM-X formed the front line as the rest of the crew rained blaster fire down on the akata. They made quick work of the creatures but not before one of the beats bit Switch and infected him with Void Death.

GM’s Note: I missed the note indicating Void Death did not have a latent stage on the Affliction track. The players got to enjoy the rest of the session without their characters being sickened and fatigued.

Once the akata were killed, the crew investigated the radiation while Cypher worked to see if he could restore power the Acreon’s power and life support. They learned the radiation was coming from rocks which were the akata’s cocoons. The cocoons were made of noqual, a valuable mineral, and they collected all they found in radiation sealed crates (also found in the engineering bay). Cypher realized he could not restore the ship’s systems until the power core was realigned and brought back online. The crew moved to the reactor room and realigned the system and brought it back online. Great teamwork! Cypher brought the systems back online and established a wireless connection to the ship’s controls. Through the link, Cypher brought online a diagram of the ship so they could explore it systematically.

Hebiza EskolarIn the main hallway (C2), the crew found the body of a dead goblin. The corpse was infected with Void Death so they bound it (in case it decided to get up and attack them). A single akata tried to sneak up on them but they noticed it and quickly killed it.

Continuing the search, they also found Gevalarsk Nor’s cargo in the port cargo bay (C5). His cargo was a large crate marked with the logo of the Eoxian Embassy. Unable to resist, they opened the crate to see what was inside. In the crate was a glass coffin with a female elebrian inside, wearing a military uniform. She opened her eyes as the coffin opened, introduced herself as Hebiza Eskolar, and began to question where she was.

The crew explained she was on the Acreon and about the circumstances of the quarantine. Hebiza was somewhat confused by the situation but when the crew assured her they would deliver her to the embassy, she was appeased. She climbed back into the crate and settled in for the remainder of her journey. The crew moved the crate to the Hippocampus for safe keeping.

Continuing their search, they found two more akata in the starboard cargo bay (C3) and used the doorway to bring the creatures in where they could focus fire and protect their flanks and rear. The akata were quickly dealt with. In the cargo bay, the crew found additional cocoon remains. These were collected and added to the collection in the engineering bay.

They quickly searched the crew quarters and when they found the galley, they stopped to give Starcrusher some time to build a high-powered water gun and mix salt water from the supplies in the galley. Starcrusher crit the role to create the weapon, so I increased the damage he would inflict to the akata with it by 1 die type (d8, instead of d6).

Space Goblin

In one of the crew quarters (C7a), they found a pair of space goblins who freaked out when the crew broke down their door. Ryder quickly calmed the goblins down and learned they were scavengers who came to the Acreon when they learned about the quarantine. Onboard, the space goblins ran into the akata and were chased into the crew quarters where they barricaded themselves in. They were part of a larger team and when the space goblins learned their ship was not present, they felt abandoned. The crew advised them to stay in the crew quarters while they continued securing the ship.

Checking out the crew storage (C8), Switch stumbled into a jury-rigged laser blast trap and was almost killed. It seemed the crew had left the trap behind for the akata but none had entered the room. Once the trap was secured, they scoured the room for supplies finding some med-patches and a disruption fusion seal (5th). Right about this time, they heard the sound of the Hippocampus disengaging from the Acreon and speeding away. Cypher established comms with the Hippocampus and found someone else was in control. He quickly radioed Absalom Station Air Traffic Control and learned they were the ones who had recalled the shuttle. The crew was aggravated by this turn of events but the air traffic controller insisted this was standard protocol in a quarantine situation. Cypher found this highly dubious.

When the crew breached the bridge, they found themselves surrounded by three akata. The radiation fields from their cocoons overlapped in the center of the room created an area of medium radiation which penetrated Switch and Ryder’s armor. Switch was able to resist the radiation but Ryder succumbed to radiation sickness. The crew made short work of the akata and collected their cocoons, making the bridge safe.

Cypher hacked the ship’s control systems and then bypassed a firewall keeping him away from the secure ship’s logs. Within the logs, they found a message from the captain recounting how they found the Drift Rock during their scouting. On the rock, they found 7 chunks of noqual and brought them onboard. They didn’t realize the rocks were actually cocooned akata and the Acreon’s crew was attacked. They tried to vent the ship but the akata were not affected by the lack of atmosphere so the captain set the Acreon to Drift jump back to Absalom Station while he and the crew retreated to the Drift Rock. He hoped the Stewards would send someone to investigate, someone better equipped to handle the akata.

This concluded our sessions. We had a lot of fun and we are growing more comfortable with the mechanics of a Starfinder game. Next session, the crew plans to space walk to the Drift Rock to hopefully find the lost crew of the Acreon and bring this mission to an end.

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Dead Suns Unlimited, Session 3

There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men.
– Robert A. Heinlein (Starship Troopers)

The crew was afforded a few days time before their appointed meeting with His Excellency Gevalarsk Nor and Magistrate Howl to discuss the mediation of the dispute between Astral Excavations and the Hardscrabble Collective. They made the most of their time, sorting the gear they plundered from the Downside Kings and tinkering with upgrades to their own equipment and TIM-X. Cypher recalled and informed the crew Gevlarsk Nor is the elebrian ambassador of Eox, a planet inhabited mostly by undead creatures who are considered equal citizens of the Pact World.

Meeting with Gevalarsk Nor

With preparations completed, the crew traveled to the Eoxian embassy in Absalom Station’s wealthy Parkside neighborhood in the Eye of the space station. They were escorted to a meeting room by a pair of skeletal servants and left to wait with refreshments (which were rather tasteless and hard to consume). Cypher occupied his time accessing the holoterminal and changing graphics to pinup ysoki.

Gevalarsk Nor arrived and introduced him politely. His appearance was frightening and offputting but the crew managed to maintain decorum. The ambassador apologized for Magistrate Howl’s absence. He then went on to explain he had volunteered his services as the mediator of the dispute between Astral Excavations and the Hardscrabble Collective. He had been granted permission to send a team to investigate the fate of the Acreon. While researching the situation, Gevalarsk had taken note of the PC’s involvement and decided they were best suited to serve as his agents in this endeavor, if they agreed to undertake this task. He promised the crew a 1,000 credit retainer fee (each) for completing the job. After some deliberation, the crew decided to accept the ambassador’s offer. Sensing a small bit of trust with the crew, Gevalarsk also revealed he had a personal stake in the matter. Before the Acreon left Absalom Station, he had commissioned the crew to pick up some of his personal cargo from Eox. That cargo was now trapped inside the quarantine with the Acreon and the Drift Rock. He offered an additional 500 credits each if the cargo could be located and returned to him.

To facilitate this effort, Gevalarsk had made an arrangement with the Stewards of Absalom Station to borrow one of their shuttles to transport the crew to the Acreon for their investigation. Unfortunately, the standard Ringworks Wanderer shuttlecraft utilized by the Stewards did not meet Gevalarsk’s standards as a well-armed and protected vessel so he funded numerous upgrades which would take a couple more days to complete.

ghost

The ambassador also provided them with a small case containing 5 (or 6, if Billy is able to join us next session) witness drones (seen above). These tiny, floating drones would record the activities of the crew to provide Gevalarsk with all the information he requires to properly mediate the legal dispute of the Acreon. Within moments, ideas began to swirl in the minds of the crew and some let slip the idea of fiddling with the witnesses. Gevalarsk found this amusing and offered they could use the witnesses as they saw fit to accomplish their mission, as long as they did not tamper with the recordings. The crew agreed (with fingers crossed).

With two more days to kill, the crew began prepping for their mission to the Acreon. Cypher tampered with the witnesses and reprogrammed them so he could control them from his mini-comp (including controlling their recording features). The rest of the crew shopped for armor modules to protect themselves from potential radiation sickness as well as Geiger counters. Star Crusher fused his sensor to one of the witnesses and painted it yellow (dubbing it “The Canary”). While they had no idea what happened to the crew of the Acreon, they planned to be ready for anything.

While making their preparations, Ryder was contacted by a woman named Ms. Joss who claimed she represented Astral Excavations interests and she requested an opportunity to speak with the crew to detail their position in the dispute. The crew rejected her offer to meet with her in Bluerise Tower, Astral Excavation’s headquarters and negotiated to meet with her at a small restaurant called Sunrise Cafe on Level 12. Considering Astral Excavation’s efforts to kill Duravor Kreel and dealings with the Downside Kings, their caution was well founded.

Dexs_Diner

The next day, the crew met with Ms. Joss (and her two bodyguards) at Sunrise Cafe. The young professional immediately launched into a well-planned presentation which highlighted the contributions of Astral Excavations to Absalom Station and the community. The crew wasn’t having any of it and cut her off. Cypher let her know in no uncertain terms she, and her company, should keep their distance and would not be receiving any favors from the crew. Ms. Joss was put off by the rebuttal but made her final offer before departing in a huff. Astral Excavations was a very lucrative company who hired a wide range of troubleshooters for all kinds of “jobs.” The shady offer did not go over well with the crew and Ms. Joss excused herself.

With their own preparations completed and the unsavory meeting with Ms. Joss stills on their minds, Nuil suggested the crew go to oversee the modifications to the Ringworks Wanderer. With all the trouble going around, the crew decided it best to supervise the work. When they arrived at the private docking bay of the small fleet of Steward’s ships which protected Absalom Station, they performed a thorough inspection of the shuttle they would be borrowing, the Hippocampus. Finding nothing out of order, the techs performing the upgrades continued their world.

Hippocampus

The next day, Gevalarsk Nor found the crew overseeing the last of the modifications to the Hippocampus. He wished them well on their mission and with little further ado, they were on their way. From the command deck of the Hippocampus, the crew got their first good look at the incredible Armada of ships orbiting around Absalom Station. The quarantined Acreon was a couple hours away from the outskirts of the Armada and the shuttle was flying on auto-pilot so the crew began acquainting themselves with the individual systems of the shuttle (in case they were needed). Of course, they were right.

Proximity alarms revealed they were not the only ship in the quarantine zone. Closing on them quickly was a tiny interceptor. A quick scan revealed it to be an Eoxian Death’s Head Necroglider called the Stilleto. Ryder opened hailing frequencies and attempted to use the crew’s position of authority to coerce the approaching interceptor to turn back. A woman who did not identify herself laughed at Ryder and said she had been paid a lot of money to be here and she wasn’t going to back down.

Roll for initiative!

Hippocampus vs Stiletto

The crew had never actually flown a ship together (let alone engaged in combat). Ryder assumed control of the ship as its Captain while Switch jumped into the piloting chair. Star Crusher naturally assumed the role of the ship’s engineer and likewise, Nuil decided to serve as science officer and began scanning the attacking ship.

GM’s Note: Comparing skill ranks, it was immediately apparent most of the crew could serve in almost any position (excluding Captain, which Ryder was particularly apt at). While each of them had their strengths, each of them could assume almost any role which will be a boon to them in the future.

While Ryder began by encouraging the crew, Nuil crit a scan of the attacking vessel. This provided them with all of the statistics of the Death’s Head Necroglider and the crew began to worry. They were outgunned in almost every way against the superior ship. Ryder decided to try another tactic and began taunting the pilot of the Stilleto which worked amazingly well. He crushed the roll as well as the 1d4 (he rolled a 4) for the duration (in rounds) of the -4 penalty to all die rolls. This crippled several of the Stilleto’s successful attacks during the battle.

Switch quickly warmed up as the pilot and worked hard to keep the Hippocampus positioned so the crew could use all of their weapons against the Stilleto. The shuttle had poor maneuverability which made this quick difficult but he was successful at keeping all guns trained on their enemy for about half of the battle.

Star Crusher opted to route extra power to the shields, knowing they were going to take a beating from the Stiletto. During Switch’s flip and burn maneuver, Star Crusher was accidentally thrown from his station and he was knocked unconscious. OOC, Star Crusher’s player was not feeling well and needed to dip out for the rest of the session. As Switch learned how to best keep the faster moving interceptor in their gunnery sights, Nuil jumped into the engineering station and rerouted power from the shields to the ship’s guns.

Throughout the battle, Cypher kept the Hippocampus’ coilgun (mounted on the shuttle turret) trained on the Stilleto and continued to whittle away at the Necroglider’s shields and hull. Switch also attempted to hit the Stiletto with the Hippocampus’ forward light laser cannon (minor action Snap Shots) but the smaller vessel was too quick to hit. He did manage to wear the Stiletto down and the two ships bore down on each other for their final attacks. Cypher unleashed the fury of the coilgun and crit the Stiletto, blasting through the interceptor’s engines. As the Stiletto careened out of control and crashed into the Drift Rock, the woman’s voice cut across the void, screaming that the engine’s heat inhibitors had been shattered. It was the last thing heard before the interceptor exploded against the Drift Rock.

Amazingly, the Hippocampus was not hit once. A combination of Ryder’s taunting and Switch’s evasive maneuvers (-4 penalties to the Stiletto’s attacks in addition to +2 bonuses to the Hippocampus’ AC and TL at key moments) ensured the crew’s ship did not suffer a single scratch. Very impressive teamwork, especially for a new crew.

This was the end of our session and I awarded the crew by advancing them to Level 2!

When next we play, the crew will finally get to investigate the Acreon (and potentially procure Gevalarsk Nor’s personal cargo, if they find it) and explore the mystery of the Drift Rock.

GM’s Lessons Learned: I think we had a lot of fun with the starship combat system but there are some things I can do in prep to make it run much smoother next time. A lot of netizens have suggested providing the players with Starship Combat Cheat Sheets and I now see the wisdom of that suggestion. There are a lot of good cheat sheets out there and I will be providing copies to my players. I also plan to add these cheat sheets to the Journal section of Roll20 for easy access. I also plan to pre-build starship weapon systems on the crew’s character sheets in the attack section (for regular attacks as well as Snap Shots). Doing that math on the fly was sloppy and time-consuming which took away from the action of the scene. I would rather the players spend more time describing their attacks, maneuvers, and actions than working the numbers of a Gunnery action (which incorporate a fairly large number of factors).

Great session! I will see you all next time.

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