Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Yellow Sun 'Now You See It' Part 2

I've fallen a bit behind on updating my current Red Dwarf / Yellow Sun campaign, with this post being the second half of Episode 3 while I prepare for the Season Finale, Episode 6, tomorrow!

SMEG! I need to get moving! Here we go...

Yellow Sun

Season I, Episode 3
'Now You See It'

Part 2

The Story Thus Far...

The PCs find themselves on a JMC Supply Ship derelict, the Behemoth, drifting through space after it suffered what was clearly an attack of some kind many years prior.

Exploring the vessel for salvage the group discovers the ship is littered with the remains of Simulants, pseudo-biological androids designed for combat, all of whom are found floating through the Hangar Bay and corridors in various states of having been torn to shreds. 

After being attacked by an assailant invisible and inaudible to ARTHUR the Security Robot and the Hologrammatic Lt. Donald Wilder, the team double times it back to their shuttle, a small Starguard Rescue Craft. As Chicken and Webb race towards the Hangar, Wilder unlocks a 'Let's Go Crazy' mode on ARTHUR enabling the Robot Security Chief to take full advantage of a close quarters encounter with their unseen enemy. After batting it against the wall and floor a bit they all make haste for the shuttlecraft. 

Webb and Chicken manage to get into the Starguard only to discover its landing gear is caught on some debris and won't engage lift off procedures. Wilder and ARTHUR meanwhile find one of the Simulants is still functioning (barely) and pull him along through the weightless environment of the badly damaged Supply Ship. 

Simulant Cameron

His right side is missing a hand, most of his lower abdomen,
and has severe damage to his leg. 

The Simulant identifies himself as Cameron and pleads with Wilder to "Call it off!" and "Make it stop!" Clearly delirious (or the positronic equivalent), Lt. Wilder and ARTHUR focus on getting to the shuttle and inside. It was just then that Mitchell Webb notices the creepy shape of a strange creature in the door way to the Hangar Bay. Oddly the thing doesn't appear on any of the Starguard's scanners. No one else notices it. 

Lt. Wilder (really his Light Bee) enters the Starguard and pulls Cameron is as the latter sparks and leaks chemical fluids all over the floor. Again he begs Wilder to "Tell it to stop! Come on man have some decency. Sure, we killed every Human Being we've every come across, often in colorful and creative ways, but even we didn't deserve this! You won, OK? Just tell it to stand down!"

Cameron reaches up to grab Wilder's collar, but when his only hand passes through the Hologram, the Simulant's mouth drops open and he shakes his hand violently. "No! No, No, No! A Hologram?! Then we're doomed. All doomed..." With that the bio-robo...roboroid...the pseudo living mecha...Cameron OK? Cameron coughs up a gout of oil and lubricant and 'dies'. 

Starguard Rescue Shuttle Model by Martin Bowers

Meanwhile Webb and Chicken have informed ARTHUR about the landing gear being stuck and he decides to go beneath the nose of the shuttlecraft and try to pry it loose. Webb gives ARTHUR the head up about the creature as well but the Robot insists he can't worry about that right now and must focus on freeing the shuttle. What a trooper, right folks?

As ARTHUR tried free the Starguard's landing strut with a long, metal bar, he suddenly noticed movement through the dust, shrapnel, and ice particles scattered about the Hangar. Moving to the right in the nick of time, an unseen entity smashed into the bar he was holding. ARTHUR used the momentum to dislodge the landing gear as Chicken cheered she the pretty lights in the shuttle do the things that meant flying was going to happen. 

Webb looked out the window all 'Gremlin-on-the-Wing' style, he and he alone seeing a misshapen creature preparing to pounce on ARTHUR. He pointed at it and screamed out (William Shatner would be proud) alerting Wilder and giving the Lieutenant a moment of clarity and an idea. "Webb, get on the shuttle external radio and tell the creature to stand down!" 

Webb was a bit confused but grabbed the handheld communicator at the end of a twisting cord and, calming himself as much as he could with his heart in his throat, said softy, "Stand down please."

Through the window he, and now Chicken looking over his shoulder, saw the creepy, pale being sit down, like a dog, on the deck of the Hangar Bay. Breathing in a collective sigh (for even the Hologram of Lt. Wilder had been 'holding his breath'), the team relaxed and retrieved ARTHUR through the shuttle's back hatch. 

One everyone was settled in, Webb leaned over the controls, having been studying the manual during the original trip over to the Behemoth, and activated an Emergency Override to open the Hangar Bay doors. When he did, the lack of gravity but re-established pressure blew everything it could out into space...including the creature. 

Cameron sputtered on for a moment, his eyes flashing, his face twitching, and through gurgling coughs said, "You did it. You made it stop. I can't...thank you. For any of my fellow Simulants that may have remained active...I thank you. You ended the nightmarrrrr..." With that, Cameron was permanently defunct, all movement and sound ceased, all lights went out. 

Sometime later, ADAM had the chance to scan the Behemoth further, analyze some of the data and learned something of what had happened. 

The Behemoth was attacked by the Simulants who were after something in the Cargo Container section of the ship. They slaughtered any Human they came across. Desperate, the Human crew released a GELF, a Genetically Engineered Life Form, and sent it to attack the Simulants. This particular GELF, called a 'Gremlin Gelf', was designed to be undetectable to electronic devices. It's skin reflected EM scanning, it had glands and organs that jammed various computerized and mechanical equipment, etc. 

After destroying all the Simulants it could find, it had started to attack the ship's Security and Cargo Robots, and even Cleaning Robots and Skutters. It was engineered to attack machine opponents and not harm living things (which is why it never went after Webb or Chicken but had attacked both ARTHUR and Lt. Wilder's Light Bee). 

This had all happened many, many thousands of years ago. 

The Gelf was also designed obey Human commands, but clearly it hadn't received any of those for several millennia and was probably going a little stir crazy. This fact was known to Cameron however and he tried to convey it to Wilder who eventually got wise and Webb was able to tell the Gremlin Gelf to cease its hostilities. 

The interesting thing was...the Simulants, as a result of the Gelf, had never reached their target. The forward most part of the Cargo Container was still intact and sealed. Unfortunately, it was shielded and very difficult to scan. 

The group made plans to go back once they were sure it was relatively safe. 

Heh. Safe.

Barking Alien

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Yellow Sun 'Now You See It' Part 1

The third session of my ongoing Yellow Sun campaign - based on the British Sci-Fi Sitcom Red Dwarf and utilizing the Alien RPG by Free League Publishing - was a lot of fun but definitely not as strong an entry as the first two. 

I decided to switch things up after the character-focused adventure 'It's Double or Nothing' by doing one that was more action focused. As with the show the game is based on, sometimes the comedy surrounds, or is surrounded by, serious moments of combat and of course, running for one's life. 

Most if not all of the combat on the Red Dwarf series is depicted in the form of clever tricks and goofy mishaps. Either that or it is perpetrated off camera and by characters others than the main stars. Basically, combat and action aren't the focus of Red Dwarf but they are important elements. 

Yellow Sun

Season I, Episode 3
'Now You See It'

Part 1

"Mayday, Mayday. This is an SOS Distress Call from the Search and Rescue Vessel Yellow Sun. 

A radiation leak has killed the entire crew. The only survivors:

Mitchell Webb, a comedian and passenger.
Lt. Donald Wilder, resurrected as the Ship's Hologram. 
ARTHUR 1001, Robot Security Chief.
and Chicken, a lifeform evolved from domesticated poultry.

I am ADAM, the Yellow Sun's AI with an IQ of 6000. 

Utilizing my vast intellect, the knowledge in my extensive data banks, and the culmination of the nearly limitless mental resources at my disposal, I have calculated that we are...screwed. We are so screwed."

Our session opens with the Yellow Sun flying through space on its continuing mission to locate the Red Dwarf. It is noted that where the Port Side Laser Cannon should be, there is instead a hole, some additional damage, and a bit of makeshift repair. This is a hold over from the previous session in which Chicken accidentally caused the weapon to overload and explode.

ADAM informs the group that he's detected a JMC Supply Ship called 'Behemoth', a Leviathan Class Vessel. These were Cargo Freighters often used by the Space Corps, JMC, and others to ferry important supplies to other ships and space stations. The ship is not responding to hails and in fact appears to be a derelict. 

Noting that the Cargo Container section is largely undamaged, the team plans to board to the Behemoth to see what it has. If they're lucky they can find parts to complete repairs on the Port Side Gunnery Deck and maybe even find a replacement Laser Cannon.

The party flies over in a Starguard Rescue Shuttle instead of a Starbug, just in case the damage to the Behemoth is so severe that they don't have a lot of good landing surfaces. Plus the Starguard, though smaller, has a lot of emergency equipment on board like climbing gear, extra oxygen tanks, a medical bed, etc.

A cross between a Rescue Chopper and an Ambulance. 
Seats two in the front and another two behind them,
with room in the rear for two more. Or ARTHUR. 

Model by Martin Bower

There were no life signs detected about the Behemoth, though there were flickering mechanical signs indicating some sort of robot might still be active about the vessel. Parts of the Cargo Container section were shielded from sensors. 

The ship was badly damaged and in fact, Wilder and ARTHUR estimated it may have been attacked. If so there could be very little left aboard. Nonetheless, the PCs ventured forward, with Chicken piloting the Starguard 2.

As the Starguard approaches the Behemoth, they see quite a bit of debris floating about the space surrounding the ship. Among the detritus are what appear to be dead bodies, both intact and in pieces. On closer inspection the PCs realize they are viewing the bodies of synthetic people - unusually realistic looking, pseudo-biological androids.

Chicken remains an excellent pilot and a terrible lander, bouncing the Starguard off the side of the one partially closed Hangar Bay doors and spinning across the deck. The little shuttle eventually stops hard after ricocheting off the back wall, sparking and smoking. Chicken panics, as is her default, and quickly opens the door of the shuttle to exit the craft. With the Hangar Doors half open there is no atmosphere in room and the gravity is off as well. As in the region outside the ship, android bodies and body parts float here and there throughout the Hangar. 

FHOOSH! She leaves the Starguard accompanied by the air within the tiny ship as explosion decompression hurls her across the bay. Webb, having been turned head over heels by the landing (such as it was) is nearly thrown out as well, managing to hold the edges of the doorway for dear life before ARTHUR pulls him in and shuts the hatch. Grabbing a spare helmet, ARTHUR leaves the shuttle (after Webb secures himself and attaches his own helmet) and floats through the gravity free Hangar after Chicken. 

Chicken temporarily saves herself by getting into a sealed cargo container. ARTHUR finds her, gives her the helmet, and then the two of them make it to the floor of the Hangar once again. Everyone uses magnetized boots or feet to walk to the doors that lead into the rest of the ship. Hologram Wilder has been at a great advantage during this entire sequence, being unaffected by the lack of air and gravity. 

Entering the rest of the ship and closing the door behind them they begin to encounter more gravity and air as they get further on. Auxiliary Power Batteries and Back-Up Generators, though weak, are still functioning in some sections of the Supply Ship. Lights are low and often tinted red, with some completely dead in many areas. Continuing forward the PCs see that the dismembered synthetics were likely soldiers, each having varying degrees of armor and weaponry on what's left of their person. In addition, other damaged and destroyed robots are found, including ones identical to ARTHUR and a dedicated Cargo Lifting variant of ARTHUR's model that he himself is unfamiliar with. None of them are active.

THUG S1001 Security Robot and LUG L1001 Labor Robot
painted in livery of the JMC Supply Ship Behemoth

Soon the team reaches a curving corridor and both Webb and Chicken notice something moving at the end of the hallway. The two of them inform the others who saw nothing. As they try to get a better look without getting too close, ARTHUR attempts to scan with his robotic eyes and still comes up empty handed. Just then, Chicken and Webb notice something leaping up onto the wall, bounding off, and suddenly it attacks ARTHUR. It manages to score his armored form but fails to cause any real damage.

ARTHUR retaliates with his Arm-Mounted Lasers but it isn't a solid hit. The entity, like a shadow of some human-animal hybrid, then lunges at Lt. Wilder and somehow hits his Light-Bee (the object that generates his hologram), sending it bouncing off the wall and clattering to the ground. Wilder's image flickers and then goes off for a moment, rapidly returning as the Light-Bee floats into the air once more. 

Chicken at this point has started running away back towards the Hangar Bay. Webb is of course hot on her heels. Wilder is absolutely stunned. His Light-Bee has never been struck before and indeed it would be extremely difficult to do so. It's like trying to his a floating tin can hidden behind a life-size picture of a person. How did the attacker see it? How did they know he was a Hologram? Was it merely an accident, a lucky shot? 

Strangest of all, neither ARTHUR nor Wilder could see their assailant. To their artificial senses, nothing had attacked them. The claw marks sliced into ARTHUR's chest armor confirmed their reality however.

Wilder noticed the organic team members, Chicken and Webb, had already reached the end of the hallway leading back to the Hangar, though they were having difficulty with the manual lever to open the door. As Wilder turns to head towards them, ARTHUR is attacked again, this time taking damage on his shoulder and the side of his head. Thinking fast, he fires a smoke grenade, making it easier to 'see' his opponents by its movements through the cloud of charcoal colored gas. 

Wilder thinks back on his training and remembers some emergency security protocols. Clearing his 'mind', he shouts a coded command at ARTHUR. "Go HAM!" ARTHUR's mechanical brain unlocks a dangerous 'Barbarian Rage' mode and he grabs the attacker, grasping his heavy mechanical hands around the entity's leg. He proceeds to swing the being about Hulk vs. Loki-style, slamming it into the near wall and then across to the far wall of the corridor. Oddly, his touch receptors, optic units, and audio receivers still pick up nothing. He can not feel, see, or hear his enemy. This is true for Wilder as well. 

Webb is aware of what's going on however, as he can hear the horrible, whiny, almost Human animal screeches of the creature in ARTHUR's grip. It tries to kick him and squirm away but the Security Robots hands are like a vise. ARTHUR slams the thing against the floor for good measure and then backs away as he believe he has rendered it either stunned or completely unconscious. 

As the team assembles at the Hangar entry, ARTHUR drops out of Full On Crazy status and uses his great strength to open the doors manually. As the group enters the bay, Webb and Chicken run to their shuttle, while Wilder notices an android floating down the opposite hallway and...waving? Yes! One of the synthetic soldiers is actually still 'alive'. ARTHUR grabs him on Wilder's suggestion that he might have insight into what the heck was going on. 

Chicken and Webb enter the shuttle to find out that they can't lift off. The landing gear is jammed under some heavy debris. 

As ARTHUR and Wilder run for the small craft with android in tow, a sinister shape reaches the entry way to the Hangar Deck. Webb and Chicken can see it plain as day but to ARTHUR, Wilder, and their companion, who identifies himself as Simulant Cameron, the entity remains absolutely invisible and undetectable.

Tune in again soon for Part 2!

Barking Alien

Je Cherche Aventure!

I first discovered Herge's intrepid young journalist Tintin when I was about 14, though possibly a bit before. 

A friend of the family, who had two young boys of his own, had purchased several Franco-Belgian comic books for his sons and The Adventures of Tintin was among them. When we saw each other I got to read their copies and was swept away by the clever and imaginative journeys of the heroic ginger haired youth, his dog Snowy, the coarse but bold Captain Haddock, and the many other eclectic characters they encountered. 

Their sweeping capers to far off lands and even the Moon influenced our time in the playgrounds of New York's Central Park; we pretended to be searching for buried treasure, being chased by spies, or trying to save a priceless artifact from an evil organization of master criminals, all while climbing ladders, sliding down slides, and crawling about in a stone fort shaped construction. 

Already into RPGs, I took some of what I'd seen in the Tintin stories and wove it together with other influences into a genre best described as, 'Globetrotting Heroes'. Not Superheroes, not really Spies, yet more than Kids-Solving Mysteries in the vein of Scooby-Doo and Mystery Incorporated, Globetrotting Heroes aren't even always heroes in the traditional sense. What they share is the tropes of being experts at something or other, basically good at heart even when they might be burglars or mercenaries by trade, and their desire to solve travel the world solving mysteries. 

Examples of this genre aside from Tintin include, at least in my opinion, Spirou & Fantasio, Indiana Jones, Lupin III (the Anime/Manga series), and perhaps even Johnny Quest. 

While I have never actually run a game in this genre full on, the concepts and feel of these types of stories have made their way into many of the campaigns I have created. My Top Secret and other Espionage games often feel more like Lupin III, Tintin, or Blake and Mortimer (another Franco-Belgian title) then they do the works of Ian Fleming or Tom Clancy (otherwise they more closely resemble Get Smart). 

Likewise I feel that if I were to run Tales from the Loop for any extended period it would become one part Stranger Things, one part the Goonies, and one part...OK, something akin to Scooby and the Gang.*

The crux of this post is that although the idea of world-spanning, teen to adult mystery solving do-gooders has always been a big draw for me, I've never found the game that quite does the concept justice. There is no Tintin or Lupin the 3rd Role-Playing Game.

Until now (I think I may have buried the lead)...

The Troubleshooters is an upcoming RPG from Swedish game producer and publisher Helmgast, currently on Kickstarter with 15 days to go as of this post.

The game is already funded and the first stretch goals have been met, enabling the company to produce a Director's Screen (the GM is called the 'Director of Operations') and Dinosaurs will be included in the corebook so your investigators can unlock the secret of a lost world (if they so desire).

Modiphius, the publisher of such awesome games as Star Trek Adventures and Tales from the Loop, will be either publishing or distributing the game for the UK and American market and whenever they're involved in a project I feel that much better about it. 

As should be evident from this writing I am extremely excited for this game and I plan on putting up a number of posts about it once I get a hold of the rules (even Beta Test ones as I did for ALIEN). What would I do with such a game? How much Science Fiction/Fantasy should there be in a setting like this? Will I use the default setting (an alternative 1960s) or something a bit different (like the 1920s and 30s of Tintin)? 

What will you do with it?

These and other subjects are just rife for discussion and I hope you'll join me in doing so. 

That's all for now. 

Au revoir mes amis!

Barking Alien

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Spaceship! Spaceship! Spaceship!

Can we just talk about Spaceships for a moment?

Damn I love Spaceships.


I think one of the primary reasons Science Fiction/Space Adventure is my favorite genre, a major factor in why I like it SOOO much, is that you start with a Spaceship. 

A Spaceship represents so many things; it's the party's base of operations, their home, their refuge from danger, as well as their greatest weapon and defense against the forces of their enemies. At the same time, the Spaceship can be a setting that contains danger or is a danger to the group all on it's own. 

I've often scoffed at the concept of the Megadungeon, a massive beyond reason maze filled with monsters, traps, and treasures that seems like nearly a city or nation onto itself. For what purpose? Who would build such a thing and why?

Now picture a spaceship like the Red Dwarf from the British Sci-Fi Sitcom of the same name. Six miles in length, a thousand decks high, with anything and everything you could want in Sci-Fi city and more. It has a Bridge (The Drive Room), Med-Bay, Science Labs, Crew Quarters, a Hangar Bay (a room in a Spaceship for holding - Squee! - littler Spaceships!), as well as a Virtual Reality Center, a Movie Theater, a Bar, and a host of other rooms, many of which the occupants might not even be familiar with (such as the secret prison deck 'Floor 13' in Season VIII).

Like a Megadungeon, exploring this vessel could be the fuel for many sessions of adventure, but that isn't that best part. No me'laddo, the best part is it belongs to the PCs for all intents and purposes and serves as their conveyance to excursions anywhere and everywhere else they want to go.

The PCs in such a ship can travel to other planets, through time, and even to - pinch me I must be dreaming - other Spaceships! What's the best way to reach that 2 mile long, highly advanced, derelict battlecruiser full of upgrades and goodies? Why, in our 6 mile long, clunky, mining freighter barely held together by duct tape and elbow grease of course!

Also, and I know I've talked about this before, Spaceships in the Sci-Fi games that feature them usually have personalities. They are, in a very real way, the most important NPC in your game. Think of the ship's design, attributes, and purpose and how that interacts with the crew's attitude towards the ship and the universe they live in. 

The Millennium Falcon is Han Solo's baby, his Girl Friday, and also his greatest pain in the keister. It's how he gets around, where he lives, and how he makes a living (talk about work from home!). You never see Han's living quarters in the films but you see bunks built into the wall in the Crew Lounge area. You see a holographic chess table. As Spaceballs so aptly observed, the Corellian YT-1300 Light Freighter is one part Big Rig truck and one part RV Mobile Home.

Sure the Hyperdrive is unpredictable and there might be pieces of you in three different systems if you can't find a way to bypass the compressor, but she's got it where it counts plus a whole lot of personal modifications. A PC or group that owns a Star Wars freighter makes it their own, even if they have to occasionally put up with a finicky lateral stabilizer or that weird smell from the vacc tube. 

One of my current favorite spaceships:
The Razor Crest from Star Wars: The Mandalorian
Art by Max Degtyarev

Compare and contrast this with the sleek, efficient, and rather formidable Constitution Class USS Enterprise or the Planetary Union Fleet's ECV-197, USS Orville. You don't worry that these ship will work - you know they will do their job and do it well - but so do your enemies. Every hostile commander will want to say they were the ones who finally defeated the mighty flagship of the fleet or captured your craft to learn the secrets of your superior Quantum Drive.

Ships like these are a pleasure to serve on however, offering Holodeck recreation, schools for the young ones, and a drink after your shift with your friends in Ten Forward or the Mess Hall. Sure it's a job and your place of work, but after a half dozen sessions it starts to be a very comfortable place. After a year of adventures, it feels like home. Granted it's a home with Plasma Blasters and Deflector shields so it protects you like no home can, but you'll also want to protect it. 

Another absolute favorite. Love The Orville.

From the 6 mile long Red Dwarf, to the 288 meter Enterprise, to the mere 34+ meter long Millennium Falcon, all are ships you can bed down in for the night and wake up refreshed the next day cycle, ready to kick alien or robot butt. What happens if your ship is somewhat smaller? Maybe...much smaller. 

Life among the stars in a shuttle or starfighter is going to be very uncomfortable and lonely. There is different take on the feeling of isolation here than there is aboard a ship like, say, the Nostromo from Alien (the 1979 film).

Walking the corridors or massive machine bays of the Weyland-Yutani Commercial Transport gives a feeling a creepiness and loneliness even if you aren't the last person alive. However, prior to infestation by a murderous extraterrestrial parasite you still have your crew around and though you may have touched down on a god forsaken dust ball in the middle of galactic nowhere, at least you have your chums. For now. 

In Seasons VI and VII of Red Dwarf the gang spent the entire time trying to find the titular mining vessel in a Starbug, a 'Class 2 Transport'. Having re-watched the series recently it gave me some ideas on the use of smaller ships in RPGs. In a fighter or similar small craft there may only be room for two to four people or even a single occupant. Not a bad option for a GM with a very small group of players.

I have seen a number of Star Wars games in which the lone X-Wing Pilot and their trusty Astromech Droid get separated from the rest of the group and have to survive for a while on their own until they can either locate their buddies or be located by them. Imagine having nothing but space, the lone cowboy/girl/person and their trusty steed a million miles (light years) from anywhere with not enough of any necessity to make it out alive but fighting the odds to do so anyway. 

What about a Starfighter Squadron campaign? Each player's PC has their own fighter and they travel from place to having adventures, fighting the good fight, and swooping in to save the day! 

You can certainly run a Fantasy campaign where the PCs are the crew of a Pirate ship or a Post-Apocalyptic game where your group controls a train or a fleet of vehicles but honestly, how often is that done? How effectively? On the other hand, if you're playing a star spanning Space Adventure RPG the idea is baked right in. See, there it is, in all those tasty nooks and crannies. 

Anyway, that's all for now. Got to write up Episode 3 of my Yellow Sun campaign and prepare to run Episode 4 in...Yikes! Tonight!

Clear Skies everybody,

Barking Alien

PS: Sure, you can run a game like Traveller or even Star Wars or something where you don't begin with a can also get chocolate chip cookies with no chocolate chips and taco with no tortilla...but why would you do that. What's wrong with you? You monster!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Yellow Sun 'It's Double or Nothing' Part 3

My goal going forward is to condense the recaps of my Red Dwarf / Yellow Sun RPG campaign to no more than two Parts/posts. My apologize for these early entries being so long. It takes a bit of doing to get into a format that works but I can see how to improve things for Episode 3.

As noted last time, this was a great session and a most unusual one. No enemy to vanquish, no life threatening obstacles to overcome, and no mystery to solve. Instead, it was all about character. Who are they, what are they about, why do they do what they do. 

Now let's finish things up...

Yellow Sun

Season I, Episode 2
'It's Double or Nothing'

Part 3

The team was gathered together in the Mess Hall of the Yellow Sun that now sat in orbit of an icy, barren world distantly revolving around a beautiful blue star. 

On the large screen in front of them was ADAM, the ship's AI, informing them that the Duality Drive test run had not worked as smoothly as he'd thought. In fact, there was a major Smeg-Up he hadn't anticipated. 

The group decided to head up to the Drive Room to have the reason of this conversation.

The Duality Drive had somehow created two separate yet identical Yellow Suns, one at the starting point of the test and another at the intended destination, the blue star system.

[I made it clear that this was not time travel related nor a Yellow Sun from a parallel universe, all of which were speculated by the players - but again, not their characters - earlier in the session. It became apparent during a discussion of how exactly the Duality Drive should have worked that this was more like the Thomas Riker/Will Riker transporter accident from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Two identical 'originals' had been created, the same up to the point where different decisions were made.]

Webb had mentioned this possibility when the test was first attempted and was now telling everyone 'I told you you'. Wilder asked ADAM if he could hail the other Yellow Sun and yes, it turned out that indeed he could. The two ADAMs were then ordered by the two Wilders to come up with a plan. 

After a few moments they both told their respective crews that a reactivation of the Duality Drive with the proper coordinates and modulation would merge the two ships back into a single vessel - along with all the occupants - provided they didn't collide together in a massive explosion. Both Webbs and Wilders ordered the two ADAMs to run simulations to make sure that didn't happen. They did their best. 

After about two dozen scenarios, the ADAMs finally found one where no one died and damage was minimal. Minimal was still too much for the Webbs, but the ADAMs assured them this was the best they could hope for. So many variables were unprecedented and therefore unknown. 

The two Yellow Sun crews had a moment to speak to each other before they were combined to avoid some sort of quantum identity non-sense that really no one had the time or patience to deal with. 

Chicken looked at Chicken and the one on the Yellow Sun in the blue star system yelled, "I had Chocolate Covered Strawberries!" The other said equally as excitedly, "I had Chocolate Covered Pretzels!" They both ooh'ed and aah'ed at the others culinary discovery and agreed they'd each have to try the other's find.

ARTHUR said, with his usual casual, working class Londoner accent and deliberate cadence, "Made Mutton Bangers." The other nodded approvingly. "Made Pork ones me'self." The other nodded back. "Hmm. Yes. Should've gone with Pork." "Next time", said his doppleganger, and that was the end of that. 

We catch the Wilders in mid-conversation, each detailing their Arctic Rescue Mission. They compare notes on the prevalence of Polar Bears vs. Penguins and can't quite come to a consensus. The decide to forward each other electronic copies of their respective Drill parameters. 

Webb looks at Webb and of course Webb looks back and the two simultaneously take a deep breath and sigh. This is way outside of their wheelhouses. Finally, the blue star system Webb says, "About Roberts...", and the other says, "Yes. I know. We had to know. But...". "Yes?", says the blue star system Webb. "It's fine. Really. I'm fine.", says the Pork, Pretzel, no blue star version of Webb. They smile at each other, nod, and sign off. 

ADAM tells ADAM what a pleasure it was working with someone so intelligent, dedicated, and might he say, handsome. The pleasure, ADAM assures him, was all his. 

Duality Drive Reactivation in 5-5. 4-4, 3-3, 2-2, 1-1....

The ships shook and blurred, creating two 'after images', then four, than eight; each duplicate image creating an additional two duplicate images. This lasted longer than it had the first time and the group started to shout in stereo. Suddenly they all - and I do mean All; All the groups on all the Yellow Suns - felt as if they were being pulled, yanked really, from the center of their beings to a point...

Everything went still. Everyone stood up or got into a chair and looked around the Drive Room and at each other. Everything seemed normal but then, it had before as well. 

 The Drive Room of the SCSS Yellow Sun

Based on concept art for the Nostromo bridge 
by legendary artist Ron Cobb

Wilder instructed ADAM to scan the area for any anomalies related to the incident. Webb suggested ADAM scan himself, the ship, and the group as well. After a bit, ADAM indicated that they were the only them in the vicinity. The plan worked, though the Duality Drive itself had been destroyed. There was also some minor damage to the main engine relays and sub-systems. Wilder put the Skutters to work on that straight away. 

Chicken left the room once things had settled and headed for the Snack Sucre' Vending Machine once more. She saw a new option she hadn't noticed before; Strawberry Flavored Chocolate Covered Pretzels! Thinking nothing of it beyond 'Yum!' she asked for a hundred packages and sat down in front of the machine to eat.

ARTHUR returned to the Galley to plan dinner. As he was putting away the leftover Bangers and Mash he noticed that the Bangers were a mix of Pork and Mutton. He jotted down ideas for improving the recipe and then went about his business. 

Wilder stood in the Drive Room looking at various readouts and consoles, eventually noticing a Yellow Alert - Condition RED blinking on the Tactical, Engineering, and Operations screens. All the '2's were back to normal. That was nice. More importantly however, the Port Side Laser Cannon...

Webb had left the bridge at some point, walking somewhat aimlessly down the corridors, ostensibly heading for his quarters. ADAM appeared on a nearby wall display, asking Mitchell if he was alright. Webb stopped, nodded, and thanked ADAM once more for the business with David Roberts. ADAM smiled and nodded. As Webb walked on he was glad ADAM had removed all the data about his old friend while ADAM was glad he had given Mitchell the information about Robert surviving.

Oh boy.


Closing music, end credits roll, and that was the completion of session number two. 

I hope you all enjoyed reading it half as much as I did running it. It was literally one of the best single sessions of a game I've had in a long time. 

The banter, the way each PC handled the situation, it all made for a perfect storm of character development and comedy that was exactly what I was going for. We learn something about Webb's backstory, Wilder's attempts to connect with Chicken and why, as well as ARTHUR in some dialogue about why he learned to cook. 

Chicken doesn't develop per se but that also fit perfectly with who she is and how she really lives only in the moment with just the basic desires to eat, sleep, and poke around the ship. This is also very much like Cat from the Red Dwarf TV show, who develops very little and very subtly over the course of 12 seasons. 

OK, got some other things to talk about, need to write up Episode 3, and prepare for running Episode 4 tomorrow night! SMEG! 


Barking Alien

Monday, May 11, 2020

Yellow Sun 'It's Double or Nothing' Part 2

Continuing my recap of our second session as the players - but not their characters - realize something has gone terribly wrong with the Duality Drive's test run.

Two separate and distinct Yellow Sun vessels have been created:

One Yellow Sun exists in a system surrounding a blue star with a single habitable though inhospitably cold planet. The Duality Drive test run was a success! 

One Yellow Sun exists in deep space, not having moved at all as the Duality Drive text run was a failure. 

Yellow Sun

Season I, Episode 2
'It's Double or Nothing'

Part 2

[As noted in the previous post, this adventure was a real experiment on my part and I am especially proud of myself and my players that it worked out as well as it did, which may I say was incredibly well.

The session, essentially a character study designed to allow us to get to know the PCs, enabled the players to set up their own scenarios for the duration of the session and then, through the fact that a second, duplicate ship had been created, allowed them to run through those scenarios again with a different outcome.

It was extremely interesting as this we not a mystery to the players as many SF games are; the player, but not the PCs, knew exactly what had happens within moments. The PCs did not become aware of it until much later when I, again as both GM and NPC, reveal the error. How to fix it was a bit of a puzzle and what came after was even more potentially intriguing. 

So the players were not playing to win, beat the adventure, defeat enemies, or anything of the sort. They were playing to expand on their characters and find out what was going to happen next and that my friends made for a brilliant session.]

Aboard a Yellow Sun with a bright blue star out the Port Side windows, ARTHUR 1001 made Mutton Bangers, though the computer indicated he'd chosen both Pork and Mutton. A glitch clearly. One he'd address with ADAM at some point. Mutton had come out of the food storage compartment, so Mutton it was...though he was certain he had originally requested Pork. 

Lt. Donald Wilder gave Chicken access to his Credit Account and she immediately used some to purchase as many packages of Chocolate Covered Strawberries as she could from the Snack Sucre' Vending Machine on Level 5 (the one with the French accent that flirted with her as she sat in from of it asking questions and eating). Wilder asked for her help with an Arctic Rescue Drill in case they had to land on the blue star's icy planet. 

She thought about it but before she could answer the two of them saw a Skutter coming down the corridor. Chicken ducked into an alcove and then raced down the hallway once the Skutter had passed her. In a desperate attempt to get her, the Skutter spun around and zoomed forward (as much as Skutters can 'zoom') and banged its chassis against the wall, denting it.  The Skutter hung its head in frustration. 

Wilder tried to distract it by checking on the preparations for his drill. The Skutter's chirps and clicks indicated things would be ready in the Hangar Bay. 

Mitchell Webb had found the Archive Room, specifically designed to enable crewmembers to sit and view information - video, audio, text, or a combo thereof - on a console in anyone of two rows of sound proofed cubicles. After a bit of a discussion with ADAM in which he apologized for his earlier rant about not needing a computer's help, he requested ADAM pull up information on his old comedy partner and best friend, David Roberts. Roberts was supposed to accompany Webb onto the Yellow Sun and Mitchell couldn't help wondering if he'd made it and was therefore killed with the crew. He had to know. 

ADAM informed him that Roberts never boarded the Yellow Sun at Triton. A delay in connecting flights caused him to miss his shuttle. Mitchell was incredibly relieved. 

Lt. Wilder's voice came over the loud speaker asking ARTHUR and Webb to contact him in the Drive Room. He asked ARTHUR to assist him with his drill by taking on the role of an attacking Penguin. Yes. A Penguin. It was an arctic world and there was a distinct possibility it harbored 

Wilder asked Webb to accompany him on the drill, to learn some survival skills and/or so Wilder would have someone to save. Cheered on by the news of his old friend's good fortune, Webb agreed. 

All the number '2's on all the ships digital readouts were blinking. 

A Yellow Alert Condition flashed on half the screens on the ship. Something about the Port Side Laser Cannon overcharging. 


Aboard a Yellow Sun that hadn't budged, ARTHUR 1001 made Pork Bangers, though the computer indicated he'd chosen both Pork and Mutton. A glitch of some sort. One he'd address with ADAM at a later time.

Lt. Donald Wilder gave Chicken access to his Credit Account and she immediately used some to purchase as many packages of Chocolate Covered Pretzels as she could from the Snack Sucre' Vending Machine on Level 5 - French accent, flirty personality. Wilder asked for her help with an Arctic Rescue Drill in case they had to land on an icy planet. The one around that far off blue star gave him the idea.

She thought about it for but a second and then said yes, just as the two of them saw a Skutter coming down the corridor. Chicken swiftly ducked into an alcove and then jumped down an access hatch to the levels below. The Skutter must have seen her because in a desperate attempt to get her it zoomed forward and banged its 'head' against the wall, denting it. The Skutter hung said head in frustration. 

Wilder got the Skutter's attention and checked on the preparations for his drill. The Skutter's chirps and clicks indicated things would be ready in the Hangar Bay. After a moment of thought, the Lieutenant suggested the Skutter could further assist by helping to simulate a Polar Bear attack. Yes. A Polar Bear. If it was an arctic world, there was a distinct possibility it harbored Bears. 

Mitchell Webb had found the Archive Room, specifically designed to enable crewmembers to sit and view information on a console in any one of two rows of sound proofed cubicles. After a bit of a discussion with ADAM in which he apologized for his earlier rant about not needing a computer's help, he requested ADAM remove all information on his old comedy partner and best friend, David Roberts. Roberts was supposed to accompany Webb onto the Yellow Sun and Mitchell couldn't help wondering if he'd made it and and was therefore killed with the crew.

That said, Mitchell couldn't bear it if ADAM informed him that Roberts had died. Webb made it clear that it would be a special favor to him if ADAM deleted any and all information about Roberts from the ship's data banks. ADAM 'pursed his lips', hesitating for a moment before saying that he would do as requested. A few seconds later ADAM confirmed it was done. Mitchell was incredibly relieved. 

Wilder used the loud speaker to ask for Webb to accompany him on the drill, to learn some survival skills and/or so Wilder would have someone to save. In a bit of a daze from the choice he made, Webb didn't even notice Wilder was talking to him specifically. He finally found enough of his wits to say no thank you. 

All the number '2's on all the ships digital readouts were blinking. 

A Yellow Alert Condition flashed on half the screens on the ship. Something about the Port Side Laser Cannon overcharging. 


As the Yellow Sun entered orbit around the blue star's icy but habitable planet, Lt. Wilder and Mitchell Webb entered the Hangar Bay to see a fine coating of snow and ice covering every surface of the room. Snow capped the top of the Starbug and Starguard Shuttles and tiny icicles hung from the bottom of cargo lifters and crates of machine parts. Wilder had ADAM alter his hologram to appear as if he were wearing cold weather gear; a parka with a fur-lined hood, snow boots, a backpack with ice-climbing gear, etc. Webb stood there freezing. 

Over by a stack of storage containers, ARTHUR 1001 - all 8 ft., 800 lbs of him - hid, very poorly I might add, in a giant Penguin costume. When the entry doors closed behind the two men with a loud, mechanical 'cha-thunk', Webb jumped a bit. ARTHUR took that opportunity to leap towards the two of them. The slightly closer Webb spun out of the way, largely by accident, causing the menacing Security Robot to lunge toward Wilder. Lt. Wilder is a hologram though you see, and ARTHUR passed right through him and stumbled face-first into the now closed doors the other two had previously entered through. 

Wilder let the other know what a good job they'd done. He was impressed by ARTHUR's killer Penguin portrayal and commended Webb on his instincts and reflexes. After giving the two of them minor critiques and pointers, Mitchell asked, 'What now?' ARTHUR informed the others that lunch would be ready in the Galley / Mess Hall and off they went. 

Chicken was in the Mess when the others arrived, talking to Talkie Toaster and finishing off a package of Chocolate Covered Pretzels. 


As the Yellow Sun sat in space, largely motionless, Chicken entered the Hangar Bay to see a fine coating of snow and ice covering every surface of the room. Snow capped the top of the Shuttles and tiny icicles hung from the bottom of cargo crates. She walked further in as the doors closed behind her with a loud, mechanical 'cha-thunk. Chicken jumped and her eyes darted about in a wild and manic fashion until she decided to make a quick run towards one of the Starbugs. Once there she ducked beneath and behind one of the landing struts, peering out to stay alert for trouble.

 The entry way doors opened again and Wilder walked in. Wilder had ADAM alter his hologram to appear as if he were wearing cold weather gear. Once she saw him Chicken realized it was bitterly cold in the room. He started to feel like she was freezing. 

Wilder didn't see Chicken but he did see the Skutter, as it was racing right towards him and wearing a Polar Bear costume. To be honest it was more of a Polar Bear-skin rug, complete with head, just sort of draped over the Skutter. It lunged menacingly, or at least as menacingly as a Skutter can, which isn't much really. Realizing Wilder wasn't frightened it just stopped and looked up at the Lieutenant. He gave it a pat on the head - which neither of them could actually feel - and told the Skutter it had done a fine job on short notice. The little droid seemed quite proud of itself.

That's when Chicken popped out of her hiding place and skipped over to Wilder and the Skutter, complaining about the cold and distinct lack of Pretzels in the Hangar Bay. The Skutter suddenly realized who she was a made an attempt to grab her, but as usual Chicken was too fast and agile for it. She ran towards the doors and out of the Hangar into the corridor as the Skutter gave chase, bumping into the doorway for yet another small dent on it's body. 

ARTHUR's voice came over the ship's loud speaker informing the others that lunch would be ready in the Galley / Mess Hall and off they went. 

Mitchell was in the Mess when the others arrived, having come up from the Archive room when he heard ARTHUR's announcement. 


The group sat together talking while the only two organic members, Mitchell Webb and Chicken, ate the Mutton Bangers and Mash. The flavor evidenced by Webb's desire to eat but only nibbling at it between bits of discussion. Chicken scarfed hers down and after finishing a second plate, asked Webb if she could try some of his. He gave it to her saying it would be a shame not to as she was enjoying it so much. 

ARTHUR let them no there was no rush. He had made plenty.

That's when ADAM appeared on a screen with a face that indicated he didn't have great news...


The group sat together talking while the only two organic members, Mitchell Webb and Chicken, ate the Pork Bangers and Mash. The flavor was...better than by Chicken scarfing hers down and fishing a second and even third plate. Webb was still very distracted by his earlier decision to erase his friend from the computer records. He barely touched his food. Chicken asked if he was going to eat it and if not...He gave it to her seeing as it would be a shame not to as she was enjoying it so much. 

ARTHUR let them know there was no rush. He had made plenty.

That's when ADAM appeared on a screen with a face that indicated he didn't have great news...


"Sorry to interrupt everyone but I'm afraid I made a significant miscalculation during the Duality Drive test."

'What kind of miscalculation?'  the group asked.


"Sorry to interrupt everyone but I'm afraid I made a significant miscalculation during the Duality Drive test."

'What kind of miscalculation?'  the group asked.



To be concluded...

To be concluded...

Barking Alien