iggy's Kids Dreams of Scilence Campaign

iggy's picture
November 28, 2014 - 10:01pm
I put together an SF game for my boys for the Thanksgiving weekend.  We haven't played since the Volturnus campaign we played a few years ago that got killed when the thumb drive I was keeping the campaign on got scrambled and I lost everything.  Since then my daughter has left on a mission so I recruited my seven year old son to join the game as a third player.  I like to have at least three players to keep things dynamic.

I decided that this time I wanted a campaign where the players are more open for episodic adventure.  We will have on and off times of playing and I didn't want to have to worry to much about continuity so I decided to put the players on a ship as hired hands.  The idea is that there are a couple of experienced NPCs that need muscle and cannon fodder to get their money making schemes and adventures to happen.  This way the PCs can grow and go places without the burden of managing a ship just yet.

I pulled several resources from contributors here at SF.US.  Many thanks go out to the following people:

cyberia23 for his Sketchup freighter here: http://jaythurman.deviantart.com/art/Star-Frontiers-Freighter-and-Tanker-Render-448765539 which I am using as the players ship.

AZ_GAMER for his renderings of a Sathar Destroyer here: http://www.starfrontiers.us/node/5027 which I used to make a handout picture of a deep space derelict Sathar Destroyer for the PCs to board and salvage.  Here is my handout I made from AZ's work.

Destroyed Ssthar Destroyer

TerlObar for his source book on the Sathar Destroyer here: http://frontierexplorer.org/content/sathar-destroyer-technical-manual and his downloadable deck plans here: http://frontierexplorer.org/sites/default/files/3/SatharDestroyerDeckPlans_3.zip

I took the download of the deck plans and loaded them all into gimp as separate layers (file-open as layers, on the whole lot) and added black layers between the decks as fog of war.  I could then toggle the visibility of each layer and just erase the portions of fog for each deck as the players explored.  TerlObar made the deck plans all the same size and orientation so that all layers opened up aligned so that I didn't have to move them around any to get them registered to each other.  I then went through the layers and erased portions of each deck to make the destroyed and damaged sections match up to AZ_GAMER's drawing I had doctored up.

We played Thanksgiving morning for a few hours and today for a few more hours in the morning.  Yesterday was mostly character creation and roll-playing the PCs getting hired onto the ship.  I got my brother to create and play the NPC freighter captain.  He made an old over-sized dral veteran of the first and second Sathar Wars.  The guy is enjoying the peace of wandering the frontier free in his own ship and take adventures as boredom or need require.  His goal is to never touch land again.  He wants to die in the void where he has spent his whole life and join his comrades and shipmates who gave their all.  The ship engineer is Cletus the Yazirian from my Alex Stone Voidling article in SFman 19.  Cletus joined the ship a few months back when Captain Burbal (the Dralasite) traded for the engines on Cletus's freighter.  Cletus would not be parted with his engines so he became part of the trade.  The astrogator is a Zethra named Zeph that Burbal persuaded to join the crew.  Zeph wants to see as many worlds as possible and enjoys the chalange of working jump calculations.  Burbal pays him with free room & board and no questions about his hacking of planetary networks while in orbit.  Zeph uses this Zethra curiosity to research rumors of treasure and salvage around the frontier.  Thus adventures for each game session can be whatever I come up with and episodic.

My boys all opted to make human characters AGAIN.  I put them on a small moon or infrequently visited world with little options for a career other than the mines.  I also have a small penal colony population that are not allowed to leave so they are the source of young adventurers who want to get beyond their parent's sins.  Burbal showed up at the beginning of the adventure and we roll-played the selection of new crew for his ship.  My brother surprised me by announcing he was recruiting for 7 positions.  I had planned for 3 PCs, my boys, so I was imagining up NPCs on the fly.  This caused good competition for my boys to have to sell their characters as useful hands on Burbal's ship.  I ended up roll-playing about ten potential NPCs as my brother selected five for the crew.  Yes, this adds up to eight.  Other people I roll-played didn't get far enough in the sales pitch for personalities to pop out.  It was great impromptu fun.

The NPCs that got hired on were:

A pre-teen cabin boy still unnamed.  Burbal likes him and lets him ride in the co-pilot seat.

Slick (nickname) who is a young foolhardy thief who is a legend in his own mind.  I hated Slick at first but he is evolving into the scrounge and pinch.  He steals everything not nailed down.  I first tried to play him out as someone the PCs would kick off the ship, but my brother started managing him by just stating that Slick would have his cabin searched every time the ship comes to port.  Anything found in Slick's room is to be displayed in the common room and all PCs/NPCs are free to collect their belongings.  I kinda like this and figure it might work.  This guy could be easily used to get us off a planet where the players are lingering and I need them to go for the next adventure.  I'll just have him nick something and get the locals up in arms.  Time for a quick departure.  He will get wiser with age.  I see him as being the stool pigeon in many of Burbal's schemes.

Marc, Assassin – This guy was meant to be some muscle to aid my new PCs.  I imagine him as deadly and loyal to the deal.  He won't turn on you until he fulfills his contract with you and another makes a contract that sets you as a target.  He never makes killing personal.  If he is angry at someone it doesn't show and he wont hurt his employer because murder makes for a bad rep.  Killing is business.  I named him Marc after I guy I know that is a good marksman.

An old man – This guy is a tried and true mechanic that has spent his life maintaining equipment in the mines.  He saw no possibility improving his life without leaving and kinda wants to take care of his bucket list.  Burbal sees him as someone who can keep his ship welded together and run the cargo loading and unloading whenever they have an honest job.

An old Vrusk Astrogator – I made this guy up to see what my brother would do when offered an experience astrogator to compete with the Zethra I put into the ship when we were scheming up the campaign on the phone weeks ago.  He has twenty years of astrogation experience and has been stuck on this human settlement for five years.  He is anxious to get back to other vrusk.  I want to have one good astrogator argument with the Zethra before the end up in a vrusk system and he leaves for home.

Notice I don't have names for all these new NPCs yet.  It will be fun to see how their names evolve.

My boys are Maithan, a tech, Zather, a robotechnician, and Torin, a medic.

The adventure then played out as follows.  Burbal had a salvage mission in mind for a Sathar destroyer had had heard about.  The goal was to get to it and pick it clean before the authorities come and clean it up.  The Sathar tech should sell well on the black market.  Burbal also keeps some for himself.  However, he doesn't know how to use some of the things he has collected in the past and he figures if he had a Sathar brain under his control he could extract the information he wants from it with the help of Zeph.  Recently a miss-jumped ship came across this derelict destroyer in the black and tried to board it, fought a few cyber-beasts and retreated, reporting the find to the UPF spacefleet.  Zeph confirmed the reports of a Sathar brain still controlling the surviving beasts on the ship and Burbal set his mind on finding the ship and collecting the brain before the UPF.  Zeph found the records of the destroyers location and Burbal needed a quick crew replacement so he took these eight guys as cannon fodder, not telling them what they were signing on to do or where they were going.  This made for a fun predicament for my boys.

We arrived at the destroyer and they matched spin and rotation of the derelict.  They grappled with cables and Burbal, Zather, Torin, Maithan, Slick, the assassin, and the three robots all went down to the derelict.  Maithan became the tunnel rat crawling into the holes of the ship into the corridors and cutting open the doors to the various rooms as they searched for the brain.  They started at the bottom of the ship where the hole into engineering allowed them to explore the lower sections.  They looked around for a while and discovered that the escape pods were gone.  They did not go into the lower bridge or any of the lower rooms with individual Sathar pods.  Had they gone into any of those rooms they would have found the last surviving Sathar who had wired all the ships systems into his pod and brained himself.  He is surviving by sucking the nutrients out of his companions in their pods.  He's used them up and is almost dead.  Everything is going to keep his brain alive at the expense of his body.  Because of time I opted that he had sucked the cybo-beasts before his companions.  He hopes to escape or be rescued and have his fellow Sathar finish the brain extraction process by pulling his brain from his emaciated body.

They abandoned their search of the lower ship and went to the top of the ship to find the bridge.  There were no holes into the top section of the ship so this ended up working better for a place to hide the self-brained Sathar.  They ran power checks again and detected faint emissions from electrical systems.  They had done this in the lower deck and gotten no reading.  So they tired to hack the electronics behind a panel near the airlock.  Thy cut into the panel and exposed the electronics.  The tech rolled to try and make a connection to the Sathar electronics and failed.  So they decided that they likely were now known to be outside and dropped all efforts at stealth and began cutting into the airlock door.  I think my brother was also trying to speed things up as he had to go to work in a few hours.  They drilled into the hatch and were rewarded with self-sealing foam spraying out of the door to plug their hole.  Then Slick noted how thick the airlock door they had opened in the lower blown out section was and they decided that going over to the escape pod doors to cut through would be faster.  The tech switched to his cutting torch and just went at it cutting a half circle where the doors meet in the middle.  They were first answered with lots of expanding foam escaping to fill the ever expanding gap.  After they had cut this outer layer away and chipped away all the foam that had sprayed into it they began cutting the inner layer.  When the tech got the first hole through to the inside a jet of flame shot out of the hole for several minutes.  This proved to be fuel that had been escaping from the refuel line for the missing escape pod.  This had been done as a booby trap for the PCs but they got lucky that it didn't explode.

Suddenly their robots shut down.  Burbal asked Zeph what had happened and he replied that and EMP pulse had just occurred.  The PCs took this as the cause of the robots shutting down.  Actually they were in a reboot after being hacked by the Sathar brain.

Once inside the upper section they quickly deduced that there was someone aboard when they found the bridge.  There were wires and cable bundles running from all the stations over to the communications officers station then down a large cable bundle into the floor with sealant around it.  The Tech cut through the floor and followed the cable to find the room the Sathar was in.  Then they went down to deck 2 and tried to hack the door to the B crew quarters.  The door exploded outward pinning the tech against the wall and giving him 15 points of crushing damage.  Fortunately his suit was not punctured.  The PCs went into the room cautiously and discovered the surviving Sathar in the fare right pod.  They succeeded in tech checks to disconnect the pod without killing the occupant and unbolted it from the floor.  They then cut a hole in the wall and took the pod back to their ship.  I expected them to then gather their robots and go home where I would surprise them with a fight for their ship as the robots rebooted and tired to kill them.  However they decided to go back and crawl the center section of the derelict where a ten deck gaping hole exposed the insides of the ship for easy exploration.  I guess you can always expect PCs to go back for loot.

Then they had the robotechnician reboot the robots as a precaution for anything that they might find in their search.  They started by going into ta small hole in deck 10.  They took two robots inside and left one outside as protection for their assassin (acting as a sniper) and the medic Torin.  Once inside I had the robots turn on the team and start firing once they began cutting into the elevator shaft door.  Burbal and Maithan began cutting into the door with a robot and Slick behind them as guards to shoot anything inside.  Zather and the other robot were on the other side of the room behind the elevator shaft.  The robot outside rolled surprise and a critical hit so I had it just jab its laser rifle into the assassins back rupturing his suit and impaling him.  This took him out of the fight.  The medic responded by bashing the robot in its optics blinding it.  The medic was armed with a gyrojet pistol and just reacted because he didn't have a point blank weapon ready.

The robot next to Zather grappled Zather and tried to tear into his suit.  Zather succeeded in avoiding the attack while keeping hold of the robot because he wanted to shut the robot down and regain control of it.  Zather is my seven-year-old son and he is big into robots.  The thought of destroying the robots he had spent time rebuilding out of spare parts on the trip out was not appealing to him.  The other robot shot at Burbal and missed burning a hole in the bulkhead by his head.

The firefight continued.  Slick discovered after a few rounds that an auto pistil has a burst mode and began getting luck shots into the robot near him.  He has no weapons skills beyond the use of a stiletto.  Burbal burned a few holes into the robot that shot at him.  Maithan got shot in the arm and quickly thought to bandage the suit and arm by wrapping it in ion bonding tape and plastibond from his tech kit.  Torin pulled a knife and stabbed the blind robot impaling the assassin in the treads jamming it causing the robot to have hampered movement as the blade broke off in the treads.  The robot responded by shooting its laser again while inside the assassin finishing him off.  Torin the pulled himself down the zip line strung up to the front of the ship to get away from the robot and get cover from the curvature of the ship.  The two traded shots for five rounds, the blind robot always missing and driving around the outside of the ship on its magnetic treads.  Torin returned fire with his gyrojet pistol hitting twice out of the five rounds.

Inside Zather succeeded in getting his robots access panel open but the robot then tore his suit open.  Zather then failed to seal his suit and the robot shot him opening another hole as it fled to the opening in an attempt to get back to the ship to guard the brain.  Meanwhile the fight with the third robot ended as Maithan got one shot in after sealing his suit and Bubal got a couple of shot in as 10 SEU each.  Mostly Slick got lucky and kept putting five round bursts into the robot.  Slick then blasted the robot trying to escape stopping it in the hole it was trying to get out.  The robot responded by shooting Zather again, killing him.  The inside fire fight finished with another round of fire from Burbal, Maithan, and Slick.  Burbal then pulled the robot away from the hole and Slick rushed outside as Maithan went to Zather.  Slick spotted the third robot and he and Burbal joined the fight.  Slick got the last shot with another lucky burst.

This finished the game session.  The PCs secured the brain and went back to loot the ship.  Even after my seven-year-old died.  I guess that my seven-year-old will take on the roll of the cabin boy.  This will fit his thinking better and we can keep him alive easier.  Burbal will have to teach him all the skills he needs for life.  I get to play Burbal as an NPC when we go home and my brother will play him when we visit or during online games.

jedion357's picture
December 1, 2014 - 5:07am
Sounds like your brother enjoys putting you on the spot a little ;)

What are they going to use for nutrients for the sathar? or is it a case of they will only have limited time to probe the depths of the sathar brain?

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

iggy's picture
December 1, 2014 - 10:57pm
One of the things we decided about Burbal when my brother and I concieved him is that he has a secret stash of Sathar tech from his war days in SW1 and SW2.  He wants to learn how some of this stuff works and benifit from it before he dies.  Burbal is old and is seeking peace for the remainder of his days in the black and the void.  He just needs to fund his travels so that he can stay away.  He named his ship Dreams of Scilence because that is what he seeks out in the black and the void.  Scilence from the worlds that have taken up so much of his younger life.  He has his bucket list and is going to work it as he pleases.  This makes for a good any kind of adventure for my boys.  He will use the brain to answer questions about the Sathar tech he has.  This will be successful or not as needed for setting up adventures.  I don't think the brain will be cooperative of free will nor will it be free of schemes to get free or cause trouble.

jedion357's picture
December 2, 2014 - 5:32am
plus I believe all one has to experience of the sathar is their voice for hypnotism so the "look into my eye thing" is not required. I'm pretty sure on the voice thing but need to check the book again to say for sure.

Does Brubal need a supply of anti-hypnosis drug?

He is a veteran of 2 sathar wars, is it possible that he already had a Close Encounters of the Thrid Kind with the worms and is acting on a latent hypnotic suggestion?

If he has a stash of sathar teck, which is illegal but not that difficult to come by, is there a Star Law file on this guy? Clearly he would look like a sathar agent to Star Law and yet your presentation of the NPC is sympathetic though there could be a sinister element beneath the surface.

Why the extra "C" in Scilence?
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

iggy's picture
December 2, 2014 - 12:40pm
Yes the hypnotism is verbal.  Nothing is said in the Sathar description in the expanded book about eyes.  That said I would rule that the voice must be unaltered by whatever transmission process.  So space fleet protection for hailing and talking to a Sathar vessel would be to continually shift and mangle the audio of any speaking Sathar.  Our brain would be best kept to texting but would likely try to hack into any audio systems available to it.

I think that Burbal is under the radar for possession of Sathar tech.  Hence his desire to stay in the black.  The PCs will not even know about this stuff until after I have built up a strong mistrust of the Sathar.  This way there will be a moral dilemma for the PCs to decide if they still trust Burbal.  No Burbal is not under Sathar suggestions.  Burbal hates the Sathar but is rational enough to see value in the tech of his enemy.  Likely it is Slick that will talk and get Burbal in trouble.  Another moral dilemma for my players after they gain trust in an NPC.

The extra C is because spell check is broken here.