Wednesday, July 27, 2016

HoloEarth and Unmasking Spies


Venturing out into the dark emptiness of space, the crew reduces to skeleton shifts - everyone into cryo, apart from a scant few officers and only enough crew to keep the ship running.

Halfway to their destination, NOA picks up a solar system; diverting only takes a little time, enough to wake a few more from cryosleep. It's a blue-green planet, third from the sun, with a single moon. Confused and cautious, the crew hailed the planet; they had to try a few frequencies first, but they finally reached a compatible video frequency. A nervous-looking lieutenant (human!) answered the call; after a bit of back and forth, he realized that their call was from space; this seemed to come as a great shock, even more so when Julian claimed that they had traveled from a far-off system. Eventually, the party was invited down to the planet. Initially suspicious, the party decided to bring several Du'ul Tlak guards with them, as well as two fighters to escort the personnel shuttle. Julian was surprised and pleased to learn that there are a quite a few more ships than before.

The party (Julian, Kiri, Gus, and the guards) landed at a military base, and were greeted by a Gen. Jon Johann; after some initial shock - as it turns out, the humans of this earth had never met an alien before, or even left the solar system - the two groups put their heads together to figure out what was going on. It seems the "real" earth and this earth shared a similar history, right up to the arrival of two astronauts. The two had left earth in 1982 in a primitive form of cryosleep; they arrived back on earth (or so they thought) in 2077. Gus wondered if perhaps the whole world was fake, controlled by an AI. Julian had a history of the earth loaded onto a tablet, and a scientist looked through, verifying details; he noted that their histories diverged in 2077, at the arrival of the astronauts.

Meanwhile, the ship had been scanning the planet carefully, and had discovered some strange anomalies. They asked Gus to hit something, and measure the results; he did, and his results matched the finding of the ship: the planet was, indeed, controlled by a computer! Vast parts of it was made up of some sort of hologram. Julian asked if there was somewhere to do some testing - namely, firing some big weapons. The general agreed to the test, and fired a few large rounds. The results seemed to be completely normal... and then Julian ordered an orbital strike. Boom! The results from that was certainly conclusive! The party returned to the ship, with the copy-earth scientist on board. One well-aimed shot later, and the computer system was fried - no more holograms. In fact, no more a lot of things! The scientist, as it turns out, was real, but only a few thousand more humans actually were. Julian, in a rare moment of clarity, wondered if perhaps shooting things wasn't the best idea. He quickly came to his senses, however.

A careful dig through the fake planet resulted in only a little more information - AlSec had created the planet, and had been stocking it with people; however, they had tried to move the planet through jumpspace, and has lost it. The planet somehow found its way out through the crack, drifting through space for hundreds of years. However, it seems a creature or organization known as the Entity has been directing AlSec...

Unmasking the Spies

Back aboard the Oncoming Storm, the party had barely made it into jumpspace before more trouble started. Jenny Ovensen, the ex-Norsup engineer, got into a fistfight with Zayd Nejem, a security guard. Though the other guards were originally on Nejem's side, the tables quickly turned when he blurted out his true allegiance - the Jihadist Crusaders! He quickly regretted his decision when the security chief, Lr. Alexy Bogomolov. He interrogated the prisoner, happy to be allowed to use any means at his disposal. Zayd didn't know of any other JiC on board (they aren't known for communicating with each other well), but he did know there must be other groups.

Kiri attempted to calm the growing crowd, and only made things worse; it wasn't long before the whole ship knew there was a spy on board, and others that hadn't been discovered. And what do you do when there are spies on board? A witch hunt! And a lynching! Or lots of lynchings!

One spy stepped forward - Lucia Belo, who had been with the ship from the beginning as a civilian, outed herself as a corporate spy for L20, and offered her assistance. She was allowed to go free - L20 was unlikely to hurt anyone, and she was actually a fairly useful part of the crew.

Julian, realizing that Zayd would say anything, and knowing that a lynching would be bad for morale, decided to throw a party - dancing, food, and above all, drinks. The party then wandered through the various cliques that formed, and ratted out a few other gang members. Two privates, Fred and Georgia Zellen, ratted on each other; it turns out they were low level AlSec plants, picked up before the freeing of Earth. Chad Tocher, a fighter pilot, was discovered by Julian - also AlSec. Dr. Sanjit Joshi, meanwhile, was hunted down by Kiri her her invisibility suit; she heard him muttering about working for Empire. He was given a slap on the wrist and a stern talking to, but otherwise he seems to have been left in peace. Well, after Kiri stopped tormenting him, anyway.

Another Empire spy was found, as well: Nikita Mercik, a shuttle pilot. She, too, was released.

Finally, Kiri kidnapped one final spy: Judas Pinkley, who had been getting into some fights recently. Kiri tied him down, and dunked him in freezing cold water... though neglected to actually ask him any questions. For her part, Kiri was given a slap on the wrist, and told to stop harassing people; Pinkley, however, was sent to cryo as the JiC spy he was.

That done, the last of the spies had been outed; however, that is not the end of this writeup. Oh no...

Before rounding up the last of the spies, Gus decided to give dancing a whirl. And whirl he did, with 4 raises on a skill he had no points invested in! His amazing display captivated the audience, and earned him a free d4 in dancing. Fancy!

These missions may not have had much fighting in them, but trust me... next session should make up for that. Oh yes it shall... you can't see it, but I'm gleefully rubbing my hands together, while laughing malevolently!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Updated Data!

After quite a lot of not actually working on it, I finally went in and fixed the errors and misspellings in the three pages on the toolbar to the right, there. The RoF for the weapons is fixed, for the most part; I reduced all RoF 4 to 3. I need to go through the rules some more to see if that is too much or not.

More importantly, I also updated the crew roster; the new, much bigger Oncoming Storm has a lot more people, and a lot fewer civilians (mostly families). Several civilians on board the Shifting Horizon opted to sign on, notably a large number of scientists. The roster doesn't have all the names, but it has most of the important ones. If you really want me to add the 600ish unnamed people, I guess I could... or you could! Find a random name generator, and press "refresh" 600 times, and there you go. Good luck!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Closing One Book, Opening Another

Months ago, the Shifting Horizon was sent out, along with a dozen other ships, to find a faster route through jumpspace to the Pentacus system. Today, that mission was accomplished. After some confusion, the gang realized that they were finally back home, and much cheering and back-slapping occurred. Acting Captain Grainer personally congratulated each one for a job well done. The jump route they found had indeed chopped the trip in half! The mission was not only a success, but a resounding success!

After the cheers died down, the Captain calls for a moment of silence for those lost. And 30 seconds into that minute, news arrives... Earth has fallen.

Queue the "Wait... what?".

In the months past, the already disliked UEA had begun making various "anti-riot" laws that had the opposite effect - mass demonstrations, many of which turned ugly. There were mutterings of revolt, of seceding from the UEA. UEA Peacekeepers were spread thin, fire-fighting small uprisings and quelling riots. Suddenly, 16 days before the Shifting Horizon arrived in known space, all traffic from Alpha Corvi ceased; all UEA ships in the area massed for a raid, but never returned. A second expedition of Duul'Tlak ships also set out, never to return. No one has any information from the blockaded systems. Alpha Corvi, Leporis A 4, Earth, and the Alchiba system are completely cut off. Attempts to find alternate routes from Bardron to Leporis have failed. Luckily... there's a brand new route back.

An emergency senate was formed, a new federation: the Allied Planetary Federation; they commissioned a ship from L20 Industries, a much larger ship; they also sent the crew of the Shifting Horizon on a mission to gather as many ships as possible. Of all of the ships in the fleet, the officers of the SH were the most experienced. Grainer was given full Captain status; the others were upgraded to barely a step below. The Julians split up, and managed to convince every single system to give their best. The Shifting Horizon was retrofitted to become a new ship - the APF SS Oncoming Storm. Taking the new fleet, they rushed through the new jumpspace route in record time, and arrived on the far side of Earth.

The previous fleets floated in a merciless kill-box, dead. It was up to the Oncoming Storm, two other battleships, four fleets of destroyers, and four flights of fighters to take on the four AlSec battleships, four fleets of destroyers, and four fleets of fighter.

The two sides met in battle... in the first round, the AlSec deployed their ships in a classic attack - battleships against destroyers, destroyers against fighters, and fighter protecting the battleships. The first salvo ended with AlSec losing every single battleship, and a fleet each of destroyers and fighters; the APF fleet lost their destroyers, but managed to survive otherwise. The second salvo was just as brutal; the APF elected to hold the Oncoming Storm back, and attacked fighters and destroyers evenly, while AlSec deployed everything they had against the battleships. In vain; AlSec lost all but one fleet each of their destroyers and fighters, while the APF fleet lost only a single battleship. 20 minutes too late, the AlSec reinforcements arrived, and were quickly slaughtered.

However, during the battle, Captain Grainer heroically gave his life, taking out a communications array and decimating the destroyers. As his crew jettisoned, he ordered his ship to ramming speed, saving the crew and the destroyers.

At the conclusion of the battle, Julian 1.1 was voted Captain of the Oncoming Storm; Julian 1.0 captain of the destroyer fleets, and Kiri was somehow put in charge of a capital ship of her own.

Earth was saved, but had suffered a heavy toll - half of its population was gone. Dead or vanished, few knew, and fewer still spoke of it. The cleanup took three months, purging AlSec from the system, and providing aid where it was needed.

Finally, they found a lead - an off-the-maps science base, near the Edge. Traveling there, they were greeted by a hostile force of humans and Kchk'Trrs, as well as a strange, alien creature who seemed to be teleporting around quite a bit. While most of the humans and bugs posed little threat, there were two that nearly ended the lives of several of the crew:

First, the teleporting creature nearly managed to teleport Julian 1.1 outside the ship; his armor full of holes from a crazy-powerful robot, he would have suffocated before he could get back in. Second, Gadget did his usual tactic of tossing a bunch of explosive cord at an enemy. Unfortunately, this enemy happened to be carrying 2 detonation packs, several EMP and thermal grenades, and some self-propelled missiles. The cord exploded for a total of 40-something damage, which was enough to not only punch through his armor, but set off all the armament he was carrying.

For 100 damage, plus 27 points of EMP damage. In a large blast radius. With 20 points of armor piercing.

Let me be clear. This was enough damage that it would have completely destroyed the Shifting Horizon. That is not small arms fire. That is not even quad-linked laser cannon fire. That is capital ship class railgun fire. It blasted a hole in the station big enough to set a jeep inside.

Oh, and Gadget? He was inside that blast radius. Did he soak the damage? Oh yes. He spent the black chip he had just picked up. Talk about lucky. Of course, he was reduced to "seriously bleeding out" not long afterwards, when the strange creature gutted him like a robot fish; two rolls (and rerolls) later, Gus managed to get him repaired, though his missing arm will have to be taken care of back on board the ship. Julian 1.0 got teleported outside, but made himself a new door and waltzed right in.

The teleporty-dude, however, wasn't done. He bounced around, nearly wounded a couple more people... then got caught by a Duul'Tlak sword. Shaken and wounded, he attempted to escape, but could not; Julian 1.0's guns reduced him to a bleeding corpse.

...which sank through the floor and vanished. He did leave behind his sword, a strange, fear-inducing blade that does Str+2d6+2 damage. Not too bad, actually.

Scraping any useful data, the crew abandoned the science station, and launched a single torpedo into it. Heading towards the coordinates they found, they arrived... outside the Edge. The universe was much, much bigger than anyone had dreamed; the Edge, as it was known, was not a time/space anomaly, but a wall - a huge, spherical wall, wrapping around the entire Milky Way Galaxy. Outside the exclusion zone, the universe looked much different. Systems were farther apart that science had calculated, orders of magnitude farther. Jumpspace still worked, but it would take much longer to get where they wanted to go. And this far from known space, they were on their own...

And thus ends Book 3: Corruption, and begins Book 4: Darkness.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Ghosts and Zombies

Once again, our intrepid heroes are waltzing across the galaxy, laying waste to everything I, their tireless GM, throw at them. Seriously, that power armor... don't worry, though, they may well meet their end in the next adventure.

But enough of that; on to this week's adventures!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Book III: Corruption

In Book I, the crew began their exploration in innocence and excitement; last week saw the end of Book II, in which the crew marveled and wondered at the strange world deep in unknown territory. This week sees the introduction of the third book (or season, if you're more of a TV person): Corruption. The many adventures of the Shifting Horizon are going to grow darker from here on out.

That said, on to the adventure!