Monday, October 22, 2012

Redshirts: Make Thee an Ark of Gopher Wood

Awesome blog post ->> here <<-.  Go read.  I'll wait for you back here.  Okay, thanks.

We last left out intrepid adventurers outside of the hulking wreckage of the four mile long Biotonics Ark 3, nervously flying their tiny unarmed reconnaissance shuttle toward a gaping hole it its side. This was really only about thirty minutes into the second gaming session, but I have a tendency to blah blah blah a lot in these session reports, so I didn't get very far last time.

Speaking of blah blah blah, I was asked about where I get my ideas for the Stars Without Number games.  Well, over four decades of reading and watching science fiction kind of saturates your DNA with ideas, so specific instances can be hard to identify some times. But the recent sessions have been inspired by Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama, about a giant, alien ship that inexplicably zips through our solar system, The Ark In Space, a Doctor Who serial from the 70's that I watched over and over and over again as a child, and Alfonso Azpiri's Heavy Metal story The Ark, staring his busty space-babe Lorna - which has always reminded me of an naked version of Metamorphosis Alpha.  Oh yes, and of course, Jim Ward's horrific science fiction game Metamorphosis Alpha.  

In other words, I rarely have good ideas of my own - I just try to steal them.

I'm sure I had a point here somewhere.  Oh yes - the play report.

The shuttle set down in the blackened, twisted orifice of the ark.  The command staff of Lieutenants Taylor, Five, and Ramapudi, the psychic middie Daktan, petty Owlicious, and leathernecks Loranzo, Kek, and Slate suited up and entered the airless void, guns out and magnetic boots activated.  Creeping around in the dark, they found a hallway guarded by a laser security system.  Disabling it led them to an elevator.

Images from The Ark, by Alfonso Azpiri
Once inside the elevator, air pressure became normal and the lights flickered on dimly.  Along the wall were buttons for 100 floors, most dark and deactivated.  Only three lit up.  One read DESERT.  Another MARSH.  Still another RAIN FOREST.

Lt. Five, the scouts' resident pilot and astronautics expert, figured that the best place to find A3-500 Transducers was near the center of the ship.  The RAIN FOREST level was the closest active level to the core, so away they went.

The doors wooshed open and they were confronted with an array of comfortable chairs on a nice little patio overlooking an enormous alien rain forest with 100 meter tall trees and a dense canopy.  The glowing blue ceiling high overhead emitted a constant drizzle of rain through high-tech sprinklers.

Science Officer Ramapudi and CO/Hacker Lt. Taylor found a nearby data kiosk and broke into it in an attempt to access a computer.  Interfacing was almost impossible, due to the outrageous technology that the ark had been built with, but they did discover that the ecological systems on the spacecraft were being run by a powerful, if unresponsive, artificial intelligence named GAIA.  They also found a map - indicating an engineering egress on the other side of the forest - a good four hours' hike.

As they traveled through the wet, muddy jungle, they discovered stumpy bushes bearing banana-like fruit.  A scan revealed that the fruit had a heavy infusion of arsenic, but they decided to take some anyway.  At that point, they were attacked by eight-armed arboreal hairy monkey things that threw big, heavy balls of poo as weapons.  One hit Petty Officer Owlicioius so hard in the head it knocked her unconscious.  The leathernecks unloaded their weapons into the canopy, scaring off the beasts.  They revived the petty officer and continued on.

The whole quicksand with slurping monster at the bottom event didn't make them very happy, but they all escaped alive coated in mud - thanks to their space suits which they had refused to remove.

Then they met the giant intelligent mosquitoes.  Lt. Ramapudi and Petty Officer Owlicious, the scouts' xenoarchaeologist, began to try to communicate with the SKEETERS, carefully - oh so carefully, convincing them that they meant no harm and were indeed not food, but other intelligent creatures.

One of the skeeters had seen creatures similar to them, so they began to communicate and learn.

Then Spaceman Slate happened.  The leatherneck - perhaps bored - jumped up and and decided to communicate with the aliens as well.

Complete fumble.  Kaye seems to do that only at the worst times.

The skittish skeeters were so freaked out that Spaceman Slate had said he'd like to eat their queen that they snatched him up and flew away with him, saying that they needed to teach him a lesson be dropping him into THE MAW and letting it digest him.

Yeah, so much for a happy ending.  Lt Taylor tried to paralyze them by hacking Slate's suit and emitting a triggering sound, which sort of worked and deafened Slate. Then the leathernecks blasted the remaining skeeters, who dropped Slate, sending him hurtling to the ground.

Luckily, Midshipman Daktan, a psychic, teleported Slate to safety.  When the party head 7,000 angry skeeters in the distance, they decided to abandon the RAIN FOREST level.

After camping out in the elevator for a long while and nursing their wounds, the freeze dried scouts decided to try traversing the MARSH level to get to the engineering egress.  There they found endless ponds full of mysterious, glowing bodies, something like the Dead Marshes in the Lord of the Rings.  Inside each pond was a giant crab with 50 foot long claws with giant bio-swords on the ends.  But by that time, they had learned to communicate - in a fashion - with GAIA, who dropped the temperature in the Marsh, slowing the crabs, and letting them trek to the engineering egress in peace.

The engineering section was old and dark and deserted, save for piles and piles of 600 year old human corpses.  Eventually they found a section that was powered up - using a lot of power, mind you - and giving off a whole mess of biological reading.  We left our intrepid crew that night, in an airlock, nervously looking at three entrances to various, threatening engineering areas.

So, it was fun and nobody died.  I know, I know, I'm slipping.  Next time - I promise - there will be some death. :)

- Ark

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