In which Jeff and Bob discuss a very nice mailbag submission, recap the last Classic Traveller session of their Into the Void campaign, discuss their end-times transition to the Roll20 online system, and various other fun things like some rules finds! Also, Bob drops an f bomb that must be bleeped, thus revealing his true, dark nature!
We are honored and happy that Robert Eaglestone, of the Xboat ‘zine joined us for conversation on this episode!
For those who don’t know, Rob did a very successful kickstarter for a four issue Traveller ‘zine called Xboat: a Traveller5 Zine. It’s a great publication! Bob and Jeff talk with Rob about his beginnings in Traveller, the zine, and of course playing the game!
In this episode, Jeff and Bob discuss the length of the podcast, read some listener comments, look at the Classic Traveller rules for Cover/Concealment and the Medical skill, do a quick look at Gerry Miller Jr.’s excellent Agweedo-Girdena Traveller campaign, and do a quick discussion of our groups last Into the Void session.
This is a very rare SHORT episode! Only about 11 minutes! I quickly talk about a few things that have been going on, and about winning a great contest I didn’t know I’d even entered on the Traveller RPG Headquarters group on Facebook!
Like most of my Traveller sessions, this one was long in the making. Jeff #2 was joining us, finally. He’s a regular member of our gaming group, who due to other gaming commitments had never been able to make the Traveller game. So I had the challenge of working his PC into the game in an interesting way. I came up with several ideas but didn’t like the flow of most of them. Too much idle time for him. I settled on starting him 56 years in the past, and putting him in cold sleep for the PCs to discover floating in space. This worked out quite well. It was fun, and it surprised everyone involved.
Without going into details (they are in the previous post), the PCs decided to have some modifications done to their ship, so I got them started on an adventure on that same planet while they wait for their ship. Coming up with non-combat challenges is fun, but you really have to work at it. After the game last night I was watching a Netflix documentary series about the astronaut Scott Kelly’s preparation and 1-year stay on the International Space Station. In reality, everything one does in space is difficult and super dangerous. In a science fiction game perhaps EVAs are easier, but they should still be dangerous with little room for error. Which is all to say that having Vac Suit skill can really get the PCs into some entertaining trouble.
I felt like in this game, especially setting them up for the on-planet adventure, there were some spans in which I just telling them what happened a bit too much. This can help move things along, but in the future I’d like to have them roleplay through some of those parts a bit more.
Once they got down into the undersea cavern, I changed things up quite a lot from the plan I had typed out last week. Weird how sometimes better ideas present themselves during play, and the resources you have prepared need to be altered during the course of play.
Regarding the ship mods. The group agreed to just have Jeff K and I work out the modifications and cost outside of the game. This kind of thing can eat up a lot of actual playing time if you let it. They had hoped to upgrade the ships drives, but in Classic Traveller the fuel requirements and volume of the faster drives would leave almost zero cargo space. They opted for reducing the number of cold berths by half and decreasing the extra Jump-2 fuel to only an extra Jump-1, thus gaining some cargo space. I had reasoned that the Type-A Freetrader would not be equipped with the variety and quality of sensors available on a typical Scout ship, and as this is a very exploratory campaign, they agreed to spend some credits for a massive sensor upgrade.
Prologue: IY 5970 (56 years ago), aboard military transport Triplanetary, near planet 6X246 on the Imperial frontier. Frontier separatists have attacked and boarded the ship, on its way to supplement forces on 6X246. Captain Joe Klowoski of the Imperial Army has finds himself on the lower deck, just outside engineering, which has been sealed shut but security bulkheads. Down the corridor he sees three separatists come down the ladder to the upper deck. He levels his carbine at the first of them and fires as the man shoots back. The bullet bounces off his combat armor, but his shot fails to penetrate the rebel’s ballistic vest. Joe hears an explosion from engineering. He ducks into life support, crosses to the other side of the ship, and heads toward the forward cargo bay. Another explosion and he feels the corridor start to decompress before another bulkhead automatically seals the hallway behind him. He continues forward, finding more rebels finishing off one of his comrades. He shoots one them. The captain announces “abandon ship.” Joe hops in an escape pod and leaves the ship. As he tumbles away he sees a few more pods eject, just before the ship’s power plant explodes, igniting the ship’s fuel, and the entire ship erupts into a fireball in the silence of space. The escape pod is essentially a fortified cold berth. To conserve life support Joe activates the hibernation cycle and feels into a dreamless sleep.
SAFCO has just rescued an Atlas class freighter and the religious cultists on board, but the pirates who boarded the vessel managed to kill the crew. The ship’s pinnace is still floating in space nearby, as Barney disengaged it from the docking ring to allow the Rambler-II to dock. SAFCO sends a message to Administrator Tilton, on Overon, to report in. The message will take about four hours to arrive, as they are in the outer solar system.
Barney and Lucky take the Rambler to retrieve the pinnance. Lucky goes EVA in a vacc suit, crosses to the smaller vessel, and with great difficulty is able to enter the ship. He gains control and pilots the ship back to the freighter Star Sling and docs.
Onboard the Rambler-II, Fardt discovers a very weak mayday beacon. SAFCO decides to investigate. Roger pilots the Star Slinger alongside the Rambler-II. They are near the system’s Kuiper Belt, and discover an escape pod slowly tumbling through space. Roger opens a cargo door and uses his astounding pilot skill to maneuver the massive ship to allow the pod to simple float into the cargo bay. Once it is in, artificial gravity takes hold and the pod comes to rest on the floor plating. Roger, Flint, and a couple of RCMP marines revive the inhabitant of the pod. Joe Klowoski awakens.
One of the marines looks at the pod’s chronometer. “This guy’s been asleep for 56 years!”
Having rescued the sleeping Captain Klowoski of the Imperial Army, SAFCO returns both ships to Overon (known in Joe’s time as 6X246). Admin Tilton thanks them, as they have not only save a lot of lives but millions of credits of supplies for the mining colony. Considering that, and Flint’s association with the team, RCMP is now a friend of the group. Tilton tells them they will have refueling rights on any RCMP planet – free fuel.
The team decides to pay Ronda 50,000cr for her help during the last several missions, as she has decided to go her own way. Reggie Stormbringer, who saved Zal from the pirates, also decides to go his own way. Ronda takes the team, including Zal, to the Mooch Mine for celebration. Zal gets high on mooch and talks (probably too much) until Roger gets him under control. Joe decides to become intoxicated as well. He gets into a scuffle with another patron of the Mine, who knocks him out. Roger drags him off before he gets hurt any more.
The next day Administrator Tilton calls the team to his office. RCMP has been doing exploration on in the ocean, after mining sensors and probes detected potentially valuable minerals. A mining platform and underwater mining laser were taken to the area. The laser drilled a hole in sea floor (1000 feet down). 150 feet into drilling it hit a vast cavern. Small drones were sent down. The shaft was expanded to 20′ in diameter, and drivers sent down. They found the cavern to be 100 feet tall, and quite vast. Initial exploration of the cavern revealed structures that appeared to be of intelligent construction. Tilton tells the team that is is RCMP policy to curtail activities if anything of possible scientific importance is found. They get an appropriate expert to check things out. It is a happy accident that Zal Twist, an exoarchaeologist, is currently on the planet. If he will examine this find, it will save them weeks or months in finding and transporting a suitable expert to Overon. Zal and the team agree, as their ship will be in the shop for upgrades for at least two weeks.
A large air raft takes the team to the very large platform. They see massive surface blooms of seaweed all over the surface of the water near the platform, as well as two docked submarines. The crew of the platform explains that a sub will take them to the sea floor safe room, where they will suit up in deep diving powered suits. Two experience underwater miners will go with them.
The team suits up, and in groups of four they drop into the shaft, descending even further. Zal fails his roll and gets into trouble on the way down, but Lucky is able to help correct him (makes Vacc Suit “save” roll). They drop into the cavern and come to rest on its floor. The miners take them to an area where what appear to be larger mounds with round “doors” (openings) are found. Zal gets exciting and insists on rushing into the closest one. Flint goes with him, as well as a marine and Roger. The rest stay outside the “hut”. Inside the group finds nothing. No ancient runes, glyphs, or any indication this was the habitat of intelligent beings. The miner wants to write the whole thing off, but Zal insists on looking in another structure.
The group goes into another hut – same ones. The team outside here Zal exclaim over his radio “Amazing!”. At the same time, the group outside hear loud sounds resonating through the water and into their helmets! Looking around and up, they see dozens of large eyeless creatures, resembling a terran manatee, floating around and above them, moving in.
End of session.
3 days elapsed in this session
183 total game days elapsed.
In this episode we discuss our usual Traveller stuff, including some internet finds, rules we wanted to talk about from Classic Traveller, and of course start off with the SAFCO Mail Bag! This is long one, folks, but we did stay on-topic! There’s just so much cool stuff out there to discuss!
Then we talk about something a little different, Session Zero of our upcoming superhero campaign, called SuperTex, using the legendary Jeff Dee’s and Jack Herman’s The Mighty Protectors: Villains & Vigilantes 3.0 system. We’ll be playing it maybe every three sessions, and will also play it when our whole SAFCO Traveller group can’t meet.
- Omer’s Quick and Dirty Classic Traveller Vehicle Combat:
- A Classic Science Fiction Simulator
- SF Adventure Assignment Generator
- Classic Traveller Character Generator
- The Armed Packet – ship design from The Great Dungeon of the North – great blog.
- Monkey House Games – source of the Mighty Protectors! And here is where you can find the Character Record Sheet!
- Monkey House Games Youtube channel’s Mighty Protectors live play examples.
- Every Conceivable Horizon – a track from the Speculative Machines Podcast by Trent Straughan. Theme music for this episode and the next few at least.
- Stan Shinn’s Traveller Binder video!
- MP Writeups
One of the guys had to bow out of Sunday’s Traveller game, so since I want everyone there for those games, the rest of us met and did most of the work-up for characters for The Mighty Protectors: Villains & Vigilantes 3.0. I’m planning to run it a few times this year. I’ll be running standalone sessions, so I can drop that game in when we have absences from the Traveller game as well.
It’s been a while since I ran a superhero game. Like 30 years. That was Champions, which has prepared me well for this game. We’ll talk about details on SAFCOcast.com, but writing up a point-based superhero can be complicated. It doesn’t have to be, but it can be.
We’ll run a Traveller game next month, then we’ll work in Session 1 of SuperTex, our Texas-based superhero campaign.
For someone who doesn’t game every week, 2019 was a good gaming year for me. I ran six sessions of Into the Void, our classic Traveller campaign. Jeff K and I started the SAFCOcast podcast, which has mostly been about Traveller since that’s what we usually play. We’re happy because it seems to be catching on with some of the Traveller/Cepheus Engine community. I got one of my oldest friends into our gaming group, which has been great. I reffed a Traveller game at Lone Star Game Expo, and Jeff K and I spent a day there, played Dungeon Crawl Classics, went to some great seminars, and finished the day with a talk by Marc Miller, designer of Traveller. Granted, I did fall way short of running a game every month, but things happen. We’re all middle-aged guys, so emergencies of different sorts tend to crop up.
So, I’m setting my gaming goals for 2020 high, again with the intention of running a game every month. We’ll continue the podcast, probably work in a session of GURPS Cyberpunk somewhere, as well as a session of V&V 3.0 – the Mighty Protectors. If my schedule allows I’ll do a couple of conventions as well. And of course, SAFCOcast will continue.
In this episode we discuss two of the systems generated by listeners in our Random Planet Generation Smackdown. We had considered doing more, but we’ll do two per episode until we’re done with them. We had got some nice mailbag comments, and we’ll do a recap of the last session of our Traveller campaign, Into the Void. And of course we’ll hit a few Internet Finds.
- Basilisk Station: A Traveller Blog
- Art Gorski has made these awesome iPad apps for Traveller (mostly T5): https://naasirka.weebly.com/software.html
- Mongoose’s Traveller Fiction
- The Mighty Protectors page on Facebook – where you can find Weird News You Can Use !
- Gaming & BS Podcast
Jeff found some interesting items on the internet, and used them for inspiration for a planet and a game hook.
1. Inspiration: Photo found on Internet of a small mining “island” at the bottom of a deep well. Island is reminiscent of a sci-fi version of the computer game “Myst”
Book 3 “Worlds and Adventures” (1981)
E – Frontier Installation (Marked spot on bedrock for landing)
No law level, no government
2. Inspiration: Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators – Russian nuclear power sources for lighthouses, in great disrepair, but still radioactive. Locating and transferring the cores to safety is very dangerous because of very short acceptable human exposure limits. https://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/radioactive-waste-and-spent-nuclear-fuel/2003-11-radioisotope-thermoelectric-generators
Idea for session: The power source of a long-abandoned distant monitoring outpost is desired by a salvage company.
Random Planet Generation Smackdown
Krystian in the Chaste system
Submitted by Colin Turvey
Orbits a class K5 star in its first orbit remarkably despite being a desert world it’s not just inhabited but bears a population in excess of 60 million mostly Belters as it’s a low gravity world with only one asteroid belt orbiting between it and it’s system’s sun.
It does have 3 gas giants it’s widely thought the massive amounts of oxygen permeating the system is the reason why Krystian remains inhabitable.
It was originally a prison colony particularly for political types despite the conditions the inhabitants and others continue to live here as a mark of defiance at their former oppressors.
The Naval base originally intended to prevent escapes now watches protectively over them such is the change of fortunes they have overcome.
Found a system generator the Chaste system now has a K5 type star with 8 orbits.
- Asteroid belt the main source of the Belters pay.
- Gas Giant
- Gas Giant#2
- Space Station (Naval base)
- Gas Giant#3
Literally the molten remains of a much larger world the only residents live aboard the refinery station that orbits this dwarf planet as it literally has no solid landmass!
A Research base is also located aboard and is largely focused on discovering what happened to the Chaste system.
Submitted by Ted Hale
C 454 227 9
Aegle was originally colonized by forced resettlement. The colonists were families belonging to the “Salvation Tears” religion. The organization’s rapid growth, and popular appeal was perceived to be a threat to several surrounding world governments. The religion was designated a cult.
Aegle, an unpleasant hot world with a thin, toxic atmosphere, was also a world rich in unexploited bitumen and other petrochemicals. Ling Petrochem saw an opportunity to fulfill a long unmet need for affordable labor on Aegle. The Subsector Duke and surrounding world governments wanted a politically acceptable means to rid themselves of the cultists. A deal was struck between the Subsector Duke, Ling Petrochem, and the various world governments concerned. The cultists were rounded up and deported to Aegle.
Once settled, the colony went through a period of rapid, and sometimes violent, change in government form. Theocracies gave way to autocracies, then dictatorships both popular and unpopular. Civil wars and bloody upheavals left the remaining Aegle colonists with a disdain for violence and authority. The Aegle Colonists currently employ an informal participating democracy to govern themselves. Their laws strictly prohibit firearms and violence. Spears are the most common form of weapon and are regarded as protection from local fauna, rather than from their fellow colonist.
Two generations later, the population of Aegle has dwindled. Young people eschew the faith of their grandparents and yearn for easier lives. Economic, academic, and social opportunities are quite limited on Aegle. Most Aeglians cannot afford passage out of the Aegle system. It is widely held hat this is by design to benefit Ling Petrochem.
Aegle’s starport is little more than a Ling depot for the interstellar transport of Aegle’s petrochem commodities. Ling and Aegle’s population are aware that the starport is a nexus for both human and illicit drug trafficking, but Ling Petrochem has not been inclined to address the problem, and Aegle’s government is ill equipped to stop it.