Tag Archives: space opera

"Vortex: Terra's Pride" Session 5c.47 — Moving a moon

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.47 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 29 September 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/MindjammerBulldogs, and an online dice roller.

In one future, humanity has started to overcome ecological challenges at the time of open and official First Contact with galactic societies. However, internecine war and the Zarkonian Armada devastate Earth and its colonies. A few million refugees, aided by some aliens, flee into deep space. Will heroes arise among them?

FATE 3e “Vortex: Terra’s Pride” (Team 3/5c) telecom Player Characters, as of autumn 2013:

Acting crew of the refitted yacht Pina Colada:

  • Cmdr. Jasmine” [Sara F., primary]-female Martian Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” tiger), former pit fighter and crewmember of the Appomattox, searching for a homeworld for her people
  • Hector Chavez” [Beruk A., primary]-male Terran human, former spy and crewmember on theAppomattox, cautious engineer and communications expert
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and planetary patriot; with robot PEPE
  • Orion Starchaser” [Geoff C., primary]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • Billy ‘Hawkeye’ James [Bruce K., secondary]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg technopsi) frontier medic and gambler, recently re-enlisted with the Union of Solar Nations
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington III” [Josh C., secondary]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance
  • Chiron” [Dexter V.H., primary/absent]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

See other records for the previous crews of the Blackbird, Appomattox, and Gryphon.

“16 to 20 September 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” Following up on a visit by the Blackbird to Van Maanen’s Star, the crew of the Pina Colada visited Ruhema, the innermost satellite of gas giant Absolom. Itencountered abandoned mining operations and a strange energy drain.

An away team determined that the moon was in fact a Precursor device capable of synthesizing Transit (faster-than-light) drives and energy-draining force fields. Cmdr. Jasmine orders the landing party back to the Pina Colada for rest and recharge before trying to move Ruhema closer to its star for reactivation.

Artificial satellite

A machine moon

The feline captain asks her crew for ideas regarding restarting the ancient satellite. Hector Chavez worries that security systems may be reactivated. The onetime spy recommends using the orbital factory to assist resistance against the Zarkonian invaders.

Dr. Srinu Pahul says that Ruhema’s ability to extend its energy-draining field could help defend the refugees fleeing the Sol system. Lord Wallace Tubbington III suggests bringing Terrans back behind enemy lines to seek shelter around Van Maanen’s Star.

Orion Starchaser agrees to help pilot the machine moon, and Billy “Hawkeye” James points out that it could be used to relay interstellar messages. Chiron notes that Ruhema is not capable of faster-than-light travel itself, but it could produce advanced Transit drives.

Jasmine approves changing the massive satellite’s orbit, with its potential uses still to be determined. Hector devises small remote drones to map Ruhema’s innards, and Orion and Hawkeye coordinate on technopsi controls.

The Pina Colada is hailed by the Slippery Shlarp , an Aquarian vessel. After some discussion, Jasmine allows three of the amphibious humanoids come aboard the refitted space yacht. Lord Tubbington and company go to greet them.

Selora is a Salvorain, a descendant of miners stranded on Dorian Gray, the innermost moon of gas giant Methuselah, so named by the crew of the scout ship Blackbird. She is an adviser to Queen Shulis of the religious Corvell Unity.

Col. Bijar is a Salvorain aide to Gen. Qualish of the technocratic city-state of Albahaven. Delegate Porl is an Aquarian envoy sent to restore contact between the long-lost colonists and the rest of their people.

Wallace takes a gift of foodstuffs and takes the visitors to the swimming pool, which is festooned with plant life. Col. Bijar scans the pool, while Dr. Pahul examines the gift. Selora explains that the Aquarians have also lost their homeworld to the Zarkonian Imperium, and Orion offers his sympathy.

Col. Bijar and Cmdr. Jasmine chat about chains of command, and Hector covertly jams the Ministry of Observation’s continued scans from the bridge with Chiron. Wallace stands at the edge of the pool and learns from Porl that, like Ambassador Plorb at Oasis Station, he is looking for refugee aid.

Orion determines that none of the Salvorain is telepathic, although Selora does mention a Polarian water shaper named Gursh. Wallace asks Porl for assistance in moving and operating Ruhema, and Col. Bijar recommends himself and scientist Palangir.

The Salvorain also trade some information about the crustacean Zarkonians with the humans and their Olvar and Pomuyan allies. Lord Wallace invokes the Kharvamid Alliance, and while his homeworld is far, he invites the Aquarians to join the Terrans who have escaped the Zarkonian tyranny.

Hawkeye and Srinu are initially wary of the Aquarians, who they fear might contest a claim to Ruhema, but they soon realize that the aliens’ plight is similar to their own. Hector remains alert.

The Slippery Shlorp returns to Dorian Gray to pick up technicians. Jasmine later pilots the drop ship Dragonfly back to Ruhema’s surface. It carries ground vehicles such as hovercycles. Chiron stays with the Pina Colada in orbit.

Hector scans the Precursor device’s functionality, while Dr. Pahul checks for life-support capacity. Lord Tubbington explains the findings so far to Col. Bijar, Palangir, and other Salvorain. The away team takes a turbolift to a command center.

Hawkeye and Orion psionically link to gradually move the moon, which leaves Absolom to get closer to Van Maanen’s Star. Both the Terrans and Aquarians are pleased that the device, which is millions of years old, moves as gracefully as it does.

As Ruhema settles into a new orbit and begins to recharge, Chiron reports that the Pina Colada has detected incoming ships at the edge of the solar system. Hector, Hawkeye, and Srinu begin preparing for a fight, but Jasmine tells them to wait for the ships to be identified.

Capt. Phlegg, a plesiosaur-like Cetaran, greets the Pina Colada and Slippery Shlarp. He says that Delegate Plorb had asked for help relocating the Salvorain colonists — even before the Terrans arrived — so he has brought a pod of ships.

Wallace checks the Blackbird’s logs and confirms that the Cetarans are yet another amphibious species that poses little threat to humanity. The Pina Colada ’s command crew resumes its debate over what to do next.

Hector recommends using the factory moon to create Transit drives to help the Salvorain relocate. The engineer would also prefer to spend more time studying the device and possible manufacturing plans.

While Srinu agrees that Ruhema should be restarted as soon as possible, the doctor says he’d prefer to travel with the bulk of the Terran refugees and help “improve humanity.” By contrast, Wallace believes that Van Maanen’s Star could be a good base from which to build resistance on Earth against the Zarkonians.

Orion likes the idea of studying the Precursor moon more, while Hawkeye would rather explore behind enemy lines to learn about the Zarkonian Armada. The medic also expresses interest in scouting ahead of the Terran fleet to find new worlds and allies.

Cmdr. Jasmine misses her boyfriend Darcy and also wants to continue traveling. In the short term, she agrees with the idea of building FTL drives for the Salvorain, as well as then extending Ruhema’s energy-draining field. In the longer term, the crew agrees that more research and a stronger resistance are needed.

Jasmine a message to the rest of the “Terra’s Pride” Ranger Corps task force to rendezvous at Van Maanen’s Star rather than with the Ilokar battle group, which is headed to Oasis Station by way of Delta Pavonis.

Meanwhile, the Blackbird, Dauntless, Sovereign, and Tigress intercept a signal from the Pirate’s Paean, a small freighter and one of the last ships to escape the Zarkonian invasion of the Sol system.

Capt. Burnett confirms that billions of humans have perished in nuclear exchanges on Earth and the destruction of orbital colonies. Slug-like Encegulans have enslaved many of the survivors, and the Zarkonian Imperium has begun xenoforming (alien terraforming) of Earth and Mars.

“Chris McKee” [Josh] is disappointed that there doesn’t seem to be a way to quickly defeat the enemy, but “Capt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce] and “Lt. Nathan A. Jessup” [Byron] vow to help the rag-tag fleets in their struggle to survive and, someday, to retake their homeworlds….

It’s always cool to see what teamwork can accomplish, and I look forward to wrapping up our current “Vortex”adventures! Let me know if any of you have questions as the “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Asian-style fantasy campaign approaches.

In the meantime, it was good to see some of you at this week’s “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” game, and I’ll see some of you at Jason E.R.’s “Star Wars: Dark Times” session next week. Geoff’s street-level superhero scenario, using FATE Accelerated Editionis tentatively scheduled for Sunday, 13 October 2013.

"Vortex: Terra's Pride" Update 5c.46 — Return to Ruhema

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.46 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 22 September 2013. We've been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/MindjammerBulldogs, and an online dice roller.

In one future, humanity has started to overcome ecological challenges at the time of open and official First Contact with galactic societies. However, internecine war and the Zarkonian Armada devastate Earth and its colonies. A few million refugees, aided by some aliens, flee into deep space. Will heroes arise among them?

FATE 3e “Vortex: Terra’s Pride” (Team 3/5c) telecom Player Characters, as of autumn 2013:

Acting crew of the refitted yacht Pina Colada:

  • Cmdr. Jasmine” [Sara F., primary]-female Martian Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” tiger), former pit fighter and crewmember of the Appomattox, searching for a homeworld for her people
  • Hector Chavez” [Beruk A., primary]-male Terran human, former spy and crewmember on theAppomattox, cautious engineer and communications expert
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and planetary patriot; with robot PEPE
  • Orion Starchaser” [Geoff C., primary]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • Billy ‘Hawkeye’ James [Bruce K., secondary]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg technopsi) frontier medic and gambler, recently re-enlisted with the Union of Solar Nations
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington III” [Josh C., secondary ]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance
  • Chiron” [Dexter V.H., primary/absent]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

See other records for the previous crews of the Blackbird, Appomattox, and Gryphon.

“10 to 12 September 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” While the Blackbird, Dauntless, and other ships in the Ranger Corps task force caught up with three slower-than-light colony ships, the Pina Colada traveled to Van Maanen’s Star.

The explorers visited Ruhema, the innermost satellite of Absolom, one of two gas giants in that solar system. Following up on the Blackbird'previous visit, they confirmed that it was no moon, but a huge Precursor machine! However, persistent power drains forced the away team back into orbit.

Precursor device

Mechanical moon

Cmdr. Jasmine recommends that any away team spend only an hour at a time on Ruhema. The “Uplifted” tiger also orders more specific scans of the device’s interior to find a control center.

Hector Chavez determines that the sphere is mostly composed of common elements, such as silicon and iron, with traces of rarer or synthetic substances. The engineer concludes that the Precursors most likely used local materials.

Orion Starchaser is eager to re-enter Ruhema through a proper entrance, rather than a mining shaft created by later interolopers such as Aquarian colonists. Lord Wallace Tubbington III suggests somehow moving the moon closer toVan Maanen’s Star so that it can recharge.

Billy “Hawkeye” James checks to see whether the Pina Colada could tow the object, but the refitted yacht doesn’t have the capability. Dr. Srinu Pahul scans for life signs.

Pilot Chiron stays with the Pina Colada in orbit as Jasmine takes the Dragonfly back to the artificial moon’s surface. The drop ship lands near a protrusion that hasn’t been disturbed in millennia. The landing party leaves the Tiger Hawk Sandstorm ground-effect vehicle in its bay and walks out in vacc suits.

Hector scans the archway and finds a manual override not designed for human hands. Mischievous Orion brandishes a crowbar but then joins Billy in trying to open the locked door with technopsi.

After amateur archaeologist Dr. Pahul realizes that the arch is just the top half of a portal, mighty Jasmine leads Lord Tubbington and Hawkeye in clearing rubble from the entrance. The junior medic also spots potential security countermeasures and warns his companions to stand clear of them.

Jasmine and Hector check the vacc suits’ power levels, which are dropping because of an as-yet-unexplained drain. Srinu points out the similarity between the portal and the jump gate that the Blackbird'former crew activated near Oasis Station.

Orion finds a key of sorts — a rhythm encoded on the arch. He taps on the ground with his crowbar, and the ancient aperture opens. The group soon finds itself speeding into the machinery on an elevator with force-field windows.

The psions direct the turbolift to go to a control node, which they find near the hollow core of Ruhema. Orion identifies control panels in the alien room and establishes a telepathic link with Hawkeye.

Dr. Pahul and Lord Tubbington look at the blinking holographic displays and recognize some of the functions they describe. Scientist Srinu sees environmental controls, and Wallace believes the satellite has industrial rather than military intent.

Cautious Hector takes detailed recordings, and Jasmine reminds her companions to look for a way to stop the energy drain. Orion calls up a manual and is nearly overwhelmed by images. Rookie Hawkeye submits a query for power control.

Srinu concludes that although the interface is sophisticated, Ruhema does not host a true A.I. (artificial intelligence). Wallace narrows down the satellite’s potential purposes to a mobile factory, a facility to collect solar energy for passing ships, a signal-boosting interstellar relay station, and a force-field generator.

As Orion checks the moon’s batteries, he is inadvertently drained of some psychic energy himself. Hawkeye finds propulsion and personnel logs, and blacks out. While the human is unable to translate them, he explains that he saw the walking stick builders maneuver Ruhema to safety when Van Maanen’s Star went nova.

The pre-ascension Precursors apparently intended to return but never did, Hawkeye says. Dr. Pahul searches for any inventory of manufactured goods but finds none. Wallace, however, discovers schematics for efficient Transit (faster-than-light) drives.

The energy drain could also provide protection against the nanites (microscopic robots) emitted by Zarkonian probes, Hector says. He and Wallace continuing examining controls to find a way to stop the seepage — or extend it. The Terrans hope that Ruhema could prove useful to defending the refugee fleet from the Zarkonian Armada.

Orion and Hawkeye switch Ruhema to a standby mode, with their suits at 55%. Wallace studies records to verify that the nova was natural and not a side-effect of the device’s use. Jasmine asks her crewmates if they can find a way to change the artifact’s orbit around Van Maanen’s Star.

Orion finds possible plans for force-field generators, and Srinu isn’t sure if life support can be reactivated. Hector finds attitude controls and suggests recharging the team’s vacc suits. Cmdr. Jasmine orders the away team to head back to the surface.

Now that they have figured out Ruhema’s inner workings, the explorers can rest and recharge their gear before returning to move the mechanical moon….

I’m impressed by the progress the Pina Colada’s crew made in solving the riddle of Ruhema! I look forward to wrapping up your missions in the next few weeks, as well as to Geoff’s FATE Accelerated Edition superhero one-shot and the upcoming “Vanished LandsA New Dawn” Asian-style fantasy campaign.

In the meantime, I’ll see some of you at upcoming “Star Wars: Dark Times” and “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” sessions.

"Vortex: Terra's Pride" Update 5c.41 — Firefight for the "Firebrand"

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.41 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 21 July 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures /MindjammerBulldogs, and an online dice roller.

In one future, humanity has started to overcome ecological challenges at the time of open and official First Contact with galactic societies. However, internecine war and the Zarkonian Armada devastate Earth and its colonies. A few million refugees, aided by some aliens, flee into deep space. Will heroes arise among them?

FATE 3e “Vortex: Terra’s Pride” (Team 3/5c) telecom Player Characters, as of summer 2013:

Acting crew of the scout ship Blackbird and corvette Dauntless:

  • Capt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and leader of the “Terra’s Pride” homeworld security task force
  • Lt.Cmdr. Tela” [Sara F., secondary]-female Tharian (gargoyle-like alien), escapee from the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), fond of humans; engineer with boyfriend Kedar
  • Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer” [Geoff C., secondary]-male Martian Ursoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” bear), former wrestler, pilot
  • Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A., secondary]-male Terran “near-human” (mutant) wanderer with a past, investigator
  • Chris McKee/Agent Prometheus” [Josh C., primary]-male Terran human, former assassin for the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., sniper and seeker

See other records for the previous crews of the Pina ColadaBlackbird, Appomattox, and Gryphon.

“1 to 3 September 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” As the Zarkonian Armada attacked the Sol system, “Terra’s Pride” regrouped at Epsilon Eridani. The Ranger Corps task force then delivered a Transit (faster-than-light) drive to the Firebrand, a generation colony ship crewed by scientists.

Capt. Kevin Reese and Capt. Mark Tarthan supervise the installation of the new FTL engines. Tariq Asrad Saladin exchanges barbed words with Eshe Kalisha, his ex-wife.

Lt.Cmdr. Tela and robot Dr. Bucket help engineers Kamiko Chu, Georgio Napolitano, and Gabby Baluande update theFirebrand ’s antiquated systems. Chris McKee stays in his quarters to meditate.

Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer grows bored after giving astrogation advice to Charlie ibn Ali and condescending droid Astro-V. The burly pilot daydreams of “Ursoid” (“Synth,” “Uplifted” bear) women and a cold beer.

Lt. Nathan A. Jessup takes the callsign “Jellybean” and patrols the area in a Raptor II-class aerospace fighter. Capt. Aveeshi Stormsea, the Aquarian (amphibious humanoid alien) commander of the frigate Sovereign, reports that sensors have detected approaching spacecraft.

Nate goes to investigate and finds six long-range bogies. Kevin scrambles to another fighter, while Brun and Chris get back on the Blackbird. The Dauntless, Tigress, and Sovereign guard the Firebrand, while Tela and Tariq stay behind to continue their work.

Tariq evades Eshe and double-checks Dr. Surita Goldstein’s records regarding the health of the colonists. He finds no sign of infection from nanites (microscopic robots) emitted by the Zurmiz Krott/Harbingers of the Righteous Order of Submission, biomechanical probes of the Zarkonians.

The six incoming ships ignore Lt. Jessup’s fighter, as Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer takes the Blackbird on a Transit microjump and an intercept course. “Jellybean” falls behind the unidentified spacecraft and blasts two of them.

Hammerhead in action

Fighter combat, from "Space: Above and Beyond"

Mr. McKee taps the Blackbird’s Olvar Star League database and identifies the attackers as Encegulans. This worries Lt.Cmdr. Tela, who was once enslaved by the slug-like aliens. The Encegulan vehicles head toward the Firebrand.

Gunner Chris destroys a third foe, as pilot Brun targets the engines of a fourth fighter. The Encegulans fire on the Blackbird but do little damage. Kevin’s Raptor destroys the lead ship and singes another.

Nate and Chris make short work of the last two vessels. Unfortunately, there is no alien technology left worth salvaging. Back on the Firebrand, Capt. Tarthan is grateful, and Capt. Reese asks that he join the refugee fleet with theIlokar battle group, which is headed toward Oasis Station.

Capt. Tarthan and his crew are reluctant to accept Terran military command, but they agree that the civilian colonists are too vulnerable in Zarkonian-held space.

Tariq delivers the corpse of a Zarkonian (crustacean alien) retrieved at Sirius/Canis Major to Dr. Goldstein for further study. He and Kevin also warn Capt. Tarthan about Elisha’s terrorist past and regal ambitions, but they are unable to obtain extradition.

Meanwhile, TX-29 fighter pilots Isabel Flaben, Jonas Ludivico [Beruk/Non-Player Character], and Kel Batista [Bruce/N.P.C.] greet Nate, Brun, and Chris as returning heroes. Chris raids “Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron] whiskey cabinet for the celebration.

Capt. Reese gets a letter of recommendation from Capt. Tarthan for the next slower-than-light ships, the Nova Aquarius and the Faithful Starlight. Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer sets a course.

At the Nova Aquarius, which left Earth nearly a century ago crewed by megacorporate employees, Tariq’s scans find fewer life signs than aboard the Firebrand. The colony ship doesn’t reply to hails.

Brun brings the Blackbird to a landing bay, but the doors are closed, so he brings the scout ship in to dock. Nate and Chris ready tactical gear, as Tela prepares tools and the second FTL drive. Kevin designates three ensigns to join his away team….

I’m still catching up on notes for various one-shots and the “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” fantasy campaign. Brian, I enjoyed your Jenga-based SF scenario, and Jason, I look forward to your “Star Wars: Dark Timesminiseries (using Savage Worlds) this fall.

In the meantime, please remember to make sure that your P.C. records are up to date on Obsidian Portal and that I’m aware of any changes. Be seeing you, -Gene

"Vortex: Terra's Pride" Update 5c.40 — Into the black

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.40 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 14 July 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures /MindjammerBulldogs, and an online dice roller.

In one future, humanity has begun to colonize the Sol system, but environmental degradation, population pressures, and internecine conflict persist. The rediscovery of mystical abilities and open and official First Contact with galactic societies, themselves at war, threaten Terra’s very survival. Can heroes rise to the challenges ?

FATE 3e “Vortex: Terra’s Pride” (Team 3/5c) telecom Player Characters, as of summer 2013:

Crew of the refitted space yacht Pina Colada:

  • Capt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and member of the Blackbird and Dauntless crews; homeworld security task force commander
  • Cmdr. Jasmine” [Sara F., primary]-female Martian Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” tiger), former pit fighter and crewmember of the Appomattox, searching for a homeworld for her people
  • Hector Chavez” [Beruk A., primary]-male Terran human, former spy and crewmember on the Appomattox, cautious engineer and communications expert
  • Chris McKee /Agent Prometheus” [Josh C., primary]-male Terran human, former assassin for the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., sniper and seeker aboard the Blackbird and Pina Colada
  • Orion Starchaser” [Geoff C., primary]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and planetary patriot; with robot PEPE
  • Chiron” [Dexter V.H., primary/absent]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

Acting crew of the experimental scout ship Blackbird:

  • Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer” [Geoff C., secondary]-male Martian Ursoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” bear), former wrestler, pilot
  • Lt.Cmdr. Tela” [Sara F., secondary]-female Tharian (gargoyle-like alien), escapee from the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), fond of humans; engineer with boyfriend Kedar
  • Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A., secondary]-male Terran “near-human” (mutant) wanderer with a past, investigator
  • Lt. Nathan A. Jessup” [Byron V.O., secondary]-male Terran human, gung-ho Union of Solar Nations space marine and pilot
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington III” [Josh C., secondary]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance
  • Enkidu Aristheon” [Dexter V.H., secondary/absent]-male Seranen (pale empathic humanoid alien) exile, wilderness survival expert curious about Terrans and the Zarkonian threat; with sphinx-like companion Glaucon
  • Lt.Cmdr. Sebastian Growlick” [Bruce K., secondary]-male Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” lion), elite soldier, killed attacking the Zarkonian Armada with the frigate Crazy Horse

See other records for the previous crews of the Blackbird, Appomattox, and Gryphon.

“29 to 31 August 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” The Blackbird meets the rest of its Terran task force at Epsilon Eridani as the Zarkonian Armada attacks the Sol system. Capt. Kevin Reese reports on the sacrifice of Lt.Cmdr. Sebastian Growlick to his fellow commanders. He also passes along the Union of Solar Nations space navy’s informal “Ranger Corps” designation.

Hector Chavez scans for communications from besieged Earth, while Tariq Asrad Saladin checks the new passengers. Cmdr. Jasmine hopes to track down her ex-boyfriend Darcy, and Tela worries about Encegulan allies of the armada.

Chris McKee is eager to engage the enemy and possibly change the course of battle. Lord Wallace Tubbington III expresses interest in helping the civilian fleet being escorted by any one of the surviving Terran battle groups.

Orion Starchaser prepares recordings to send to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer asks to be reassigned from the yacht Pina Colada to the warship Dauntless.

Dr. Srinu Pahul introduces his new nurse, Keila Sunitha Ciela. Lt. Nathan A. Jessup familiarizes himself with the Raptor II-class aerospace fighters aboard the Dauntless. Chiron checks astrogation records, and Enkidu Aristheon attends to Glaucon.

Kevin recommends keeping the task force together to determine the status of three slower-than-light (STL) generation ships now behind enemy lines. Jasmine and Orion agree.

Chris is skeptical that the Firebrand, Nova Aquarius, and Faithful Starlight have survived, but Brun notes that there’s a good chance the Zarkonians missed them in deep space. Chris suggests splitting up and sending a ship to investigate ancient alien technology at Van Maanen’s Star.

Srinu asks about the Precursor jump gate at Oasis Station. However, onetime crew members from the Blackbird point out that the interstellar crossroads is a Terran month away, even at high Transit (faster-than-light) speeds.

Capt. Reese reluctantly agrees to split the task force. Cmdr. Jasmine is to take the Pina Colada to Van Maanen’s Star. She is joined by engineer Hector, scientist Srinu, diplomat Wallace, and mystic Orion. Chiron serves as pilot, and junior medical officer “Hawkeye James” [Bruce] is assigned to that ship.

Meanwhile, the Blackbird will lead the search for the STL colony ships. Brun is designated as acting captain. The “Uplifted” Ursoid is excited to take command for the first time. Tharian engineer Tela stays with the biomechanical ship, as does investigator Tariq.

Kevin leads the more military crew of the Dauntless, including pilot Nate and sniper Chris. The Blackbird and Dauntless are joined by the patrol ship Tigress, with (Kevin’s onetime lover) Capt. Elektra Contos, and the frigateSovereign, with Capt. Aveeshi Stormsea, an Aquarian (amphibious humanoid alien) exile.

Hector checks records regarding the generation ships, which left Earth decades ago. The Firebrand included scientists among its passengers, while the Nova Aquarius was crewed by megacorp employees after the First Interplanetary War. Religious wars led to the construction of the Faithful Starlight.

Star map for GURPS "Vortex" space opera

Rough map of "Vortex" space

The Blackbird, Dauntless, Sovereign, and Tigress head toward Altair and find the colony ship Firebrand. The Terrans are cautious, since the Firebrand launches a fighter escort and still has potentially dangerous defense systems.

Capt. Reese hails Capt. Mark Tarthan, who invites him aboard. Capt. Tarthan, a third-generation biologist, introduces his first officer, planetologist Betty Stovashi, and chief engineer, physicist Kamiko Chu.

Kevin asks to talk privately with Mark, who takes him and Chris to his cabin. They discuss the deteriorating political situation on Earth, the Zarkonian Armada’s invasion of the Sol system, and refitting the Firebrand with a Transit drive. Dr. Bucket, the Blackbird’s U.S.N. robot, projects holograms and technical specifications before going to help Tela.

Amid antique fusion generators, overgrown life-support systems, and tangles of circuitry, Lt.Cmdr. Tela meets fellow engineers Georgio Napolitano and Gabby Baluande. The helpful Tharian immediately sets to improving their systems’ efficiency.

Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer goes to the command and control center, where he finds friendly astrogator Charlie ibn Ali and aloof robot Astro-V. He shows them how to prepare for Transit as Capt. Tarthan announces that the Firebrand will be gaining FTL capability.

Lt. Jessup chats with TX-29 fighter pilots in the hangar bay, including bored Isabel Flaben, old-school Jonas Ludivico [Beruk/Non-Player Character], and proud Kel Batista [Bruce/N.P.C.].

Tariq goes to the biomedical deck, where he transfers files to Dr. Surita Goldstein, who is impressed at humanity’s advances since her grandparents left Earth. She shares odd fruits and vegetables cultivated in the ship’s hydroponic gardens.

Tariq also experiences a flashback to a bombing incident in Istanbul from many years ago. The wanderer turns and finds Eshe Kalisha, a woman he knows all too well….

Now that I’m caught up on “Vortex” notes, all I need to do is do the same for the “Vanished Lands” fantasy campaign! Remember to update your P.C.s on Obsidian Portal, and let me know of any changes to them or your ships.

I look forward to Brian’s Jenga-based social science fiction one-shot next Monday and to character creation for this fall’s “Star Wars: Dark Times” game at “JasonCon” the week after that! Be seeing you, -Gene

"Vortex: Terra's Pride" Update 5c.39 — Maneuvers and missions

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.39 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 7 July 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/MindjammerBulldogs, and an online dice roller.

In one future, humanity has begun to colonize the Sol system, but environmental degradation, population pressures, and internecine conflict persist. The rediscovery of mystical abilities and open and official First Contact with galactic societies, themselves at war, threaten Terra’s very survival. Can heroes rise to the challenges ?

FATE 3e “Vortex: Terra’s Pride” (Team 3/5c) telecom Player Characters, as of summer 2013:

Acting crew of the experimental scout ship Blackbird:

  • Capt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and member of the Blackbird and Dauntless crews; homeworld security task force commander
  • Hector Chavez” [Beruk A., primary]-male Terran human, former spy and crewmember on theAppomattox, cautious engineer and communications expert
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and planetary patriot; with robot PEPE
  • Lt.Cmdr. Tela” [Sara F., secondary/absent]-female Tharian (gargoyle-like alien), escapee from the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), fond of humans; engineer with boyfriend Kedar
  • Chris McKee /Agent Prometheus” [Josh C., primary/absent]-male Terran human, former assassin for the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., sniper and seeker aboard the Blackbird and Pina Colada
  • Orion Starchaser” [Geoff C., primary/absent]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • Chiron” [Dexter V.H., primary/absent]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

See other records for the previous crews of the Blackbird, Appomattox, and Gryphon.

Homeworld security ships

A Terran task force

26 to 28 August 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” Lt.Cmdr. Sebastian Growlick [Bruce] destroyed the frigate Crazy Horse in an attack on the Zarkonian Armada at Wolf 359, and the rest of the “Terra’s Pride” homeworld security task force regrouped at Procyon.

The Blackbird heads back to the Ilokar battle group in the Asteroid Belt to report on its encounters with the enemy at Sirius and Wolf 359. The explorers find the Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.) space navy busy with the evacuation effort.

First, the Blackbird must pass the Shaka Zulu battle group in solar polar orbit. Raptor II-class fighters fly escort, as Adm. Joseph Ochieng sends his regards to the crew of the Sovereign.

Capt. Kevin Reese, Dr. Srinu Pahul, and Hector Chavez then report to Col. Shan Gray and Adm. Jacques Pons. Kevin is relieved to learn that his sister in law Jennifer has been given a berth in a ship leaving the Mars Confederacy. Adm. Pons awards Lt.Cmdr. Growlick a posthumus medal for his valor.

Kevin also passes on a status report from the Terran outpost at Camp Alpha, which is about to be overrun by the armada. Hector mentions reverse-engineering of alien force-field technology to provide ships with a tunable energy shield.

Srinu shares medical data gathered from his patients aboard the Crazy Horse. Polarian (amphibious humanoid alien) and other survivors had described the Zarkonians, but humans haven’t yet studied the crustaceans firsthand.

The U.S.N. officers ask what missions “Terra’s Pride” is considering. Dr. Pahul recommends heading toward Oasis Station, which could be a destination for human refugees. Hector notes that there are three slower-than-light generation colony ships behind enemy lines that could be informative if they haven’t been found and destroyed.

In addition, Chris had noted that an abandoned mining site at Van Maanen’s Star revealed Precursor (ancient alien) technology that might be helpful in the fight against the Zarkonians.

Col. Gray, once Kevin’s superior in the Interplanetary Patrol, confers “Ranger Corps status” on “Terra’s Pride,” granting its ships’ commanders wide latitude in deep space, even though they still report to the U.S.N. chain of command.

Capt. Reese requests three Transit (faster-than-light) drives to bring to the generation ships, the Firebrand, the Nova Aquarius, and the Faithful Starlight. Hector and Tela recall encountering similar colonists aboard the Chengdu and Zheng He.

Adm. Pons says that the Ilokar is escorting a civilian fleet to Fomalhaut, Phi Ceti, and Chi Orionis, then possibly to Oasis Station, about 30 parsecs from Earth. He orders every outbound Terran vessel to take on as many passengers as possible.

As waves of Zurmiz Krott (biomechanical probes) attack Eclipse Station on Saturn’s moon Titan, as well as the Venusian Finance Union, the scout ship Blackbird leaves the besieged Sol system.

Capt. Reese sends Capt. Helena Cain and Lt. Nathan A. Jessup on the corvette Dauntless to Epsilon Eridani, with Phi Ceti as a backup rendezvous. Cmdr. Jasmine follows with the Pina Colada, and Capt. Elektra Contos brings up the rear in the Tigress. The task force still has three zero-point devices.

Meanwhile, the Blackbird returns to Sirius to see if there is any debris worth salvaging from the Crazy Horse’s attack. Kevin pilots defensively, and Hector detects 50 Zurmiz Krott and 20 Zarkonian fighters in the area, as well as the remnants of 12 Zarkonian vessels and four Kutalrin (vulture-like cyborg) scavengers.

Srinu activates the Blackbird’s stealth suite as a small Gustrall (antlered, orange-furred, raptor-like alien) warship enters the system. The Zarkonians swarm the unlucky arrival, allowing the Terrans to retrieve some ship fragments undetected.

Capt. Reese boldy takes the scout craft around Sirius, as Dr. Pahul sets containment protocols for a mostly intact Zarkonian corpse. Chris is interested in studying alien technologies such as a computer fragment, and Hector records everything for later analysis.

After avoiding another firefight, the Blackbird heads to Epsilon Eridani to meet with its sister ships….

Dexter, Sara, Josh, and Geoff, we missed you during this “Vortex” session! I look forward to continuing our latest party’s adventures! -Gene

P.S.: Here’s a quick overview of past “Vortex” teams:

  • Party 1 (1982 to 1984): The Zarkonian Bomb, a screenplay by Gene D., Carlo R., and Bill B., at A.S.H.S. (and the AD&D1 “Vanished Lands”)
  • Party 2 (1984 to 1986): “The Adventures of Jason Delmar,” short stories by Gene D. (and Star Frontiers games)
  • Party 3 (1986 to 1988): “Vortex,” a role-playing game by Gene D. and David I.S., at SUNY-Binghamton (and Shadowrun games)
  • Party 4 (1996 to 1999): “Vortex: C.D.I./ Venture,” using GURPS 3e Space, in Northern Virginia (and GURPS“Voyagers II: Adventures in the Dimensional Corps”)
  • Party 5a (2010 to 2011): “Vortex: the Blackbird,” using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures, Massachusetts
  • Party 5b (2010 to 2011): “Vortex: MarSoupAil,” using FATE 3e, Massachusetts (and one-shots)
  • Party 5c (2011 to 2012): “Vortex: the Gryphon,” using FATE 3e, online
  • Party 5c.2 (2012 to present): “Vortex: Terra’s Pride,” using FATE 3e Bulldogs, online