Session 9: New Vistas in the Thel Sector is a game session report for Stars without Number: Revised Edition. We played via Zoom on .
We ended the last session with a quick gun fight and a surrender. According to the character’s estimate, they had spent 50 minutes of their estimated 120 minute budget. They had about 10 minutes left to complete their second scan.
As part of our pre-game chatter, I shared the Instincts mechanic from Worlds without Number (p132-133) . I planned to use that for today’s opening moments.
We have a brief conversation about what the characters want. They want to know:
- If others are approaching?
- How much time do they have until the others arrive?
- How to deal with the others? Do they hold a hostage?
I find these out of character conversations useful; It helps us focus on what the characters would do. In these conversations the players establish standard operating procedures, hash out likely corporate policies, and approaches based on pre-game experiences.
It’s not quite flashbacks, but it gives a chance for the group to align their thinking. All of which contributes to a group cohesion.
Then we moved back into the fiction.
Day 9, Watch 3 (Continued)
The surviving captive throws down his gun, and takes a few steps forward.
A Brief Interaction
“Are you going to do anything about my friend down here?”
Adolar Desch attempts to help by throwing the man a Lazurus patch to fix up his buddy. The captive fails his medical check Lazurus patch. And Adolar Desch steps in to help treat the fallen person, but can’t save him.
While attempting to patch up the downed man, Adolar tries to press the person for information but fails. I called for a Talk DC 📖 8.
In the moment when Adolar’s helping, the man lunges at Adolar. With a quick flick of the wrist, Adolar drops him with laser shot to the belly. Adolar lost initiative, but chose the Make a Snap Attack action. He hit.
While this is transpiring, Vern Shultz and Nestor Johnson remain vigilant from their high ground positions.
Sigh Redfeather begins working on a scanner to detect any incoming support. This is a DC 8 Fix, and with their Expert knack, they succeed. The device has an approximate 1 kilometer range.
He mutters to himself, “Damnit, I was hoping it didn’t come to this.” Adolar gathers up two laser pistols and the two transmitters, and nots that one of them has been broadcasting the entire time.
Adolar makes a straight run for a tree. Then teleports back up the hill to a hidden or secure position. The goal is to not disclose that he can teleport.
At this point, we break for a quick check of the table. I want to know if we can proceed with theater of the mind or if they would like to move to some kind of map. For now, we’re okay with theater of the mind. But for future sessions, we may adopt Google Meetings, as they have easy Jam Board integration.
Sigh’s approximately 500 meters from the entrance. When is comm scanner starts up, he notes two energy signatures. They’re near the entrance, moving around. The signals flicker for a bit, then go out.
They have a quick discussion about policy. They agree that they are not going to shoot to kill, unless the opposition has weapons drawn.
While they’re discussing the policy, I roll and check that the opposition knows the location of the entrance. I talk a bit out loud about tactics. The remaining two (Zoe and Lydia) know that they have reinforcements coming.
No one knows what challenges they’ll meet in the Laboratory of Doctor Argyros. With that perspective, Zoe and Lydia fallback and wait for reinforcements.
At the Entrance of the Laboratory
The characters decide to make a quick dash for the entrance.
Once there, I call for a Notice DC 8 check from the character with the best Notice. Sigh rolls and fails. He spends about ten minutes sifting through the brush, trying to find an entrance, and finally stumbles onto the entrance. For the failure, I decided that they’d lose time but would find it. They’re at minute 65.
A realization dawns on Sigh, and he grabs one of his instruments.
With a bit scan and some logic, they realize their dealing with some Pre-Tech technological wizardry. They deduce that the entrance produced replicated matter. This matter decays in a day or so.
The end result is that you can’t effectively dig your way through the surrounding debris.
They start working through ideas:
- There must be a handshake signal to stop the emitter or open the door
- There’s likely an alternate access method
- If we could trigger a fire inside, would it open up or go into lock down?
The plan is to disrupt the emitter. Sigh jury rigs a disrupting pulse from a few Type A energy packs. I call for a DC 8 Fix, and with Sigh’s Expert knack, he re-rolls his way to success.
They begin excavating now that the device no longer emits matter.
At this point, they’ve burned 80 minutes of their 120 minute budget. So far, nothing is showing up on Sigh’s 1000 meter sensor.
As they pull back the debir, they find an a door and control panel, all part of a single fabricated outward facing wall.
Emblazoned on the door is a large symbol of the Compass Sodality, a four-pointed star, with the bottom arm longer than the three other arms.
The Compass Sodality is a religious organization, lead by the Arch Wind Rose of Zumeta. They are a relgious hegemony that rose from a powerful and charismatic priest. Their sphere of influence is 3 to 4 hexes away from Kallisto, and they’ve mostly established a five hex area of influence.
They spend about 5 minutes working out possible approaches on gaining entrance. I sense some player frustration as they’re working through a fictional barrier.
Sigh’s player asks if he recalls any interesting parts of the painting from Grand Kall Library.
I say yes; On the four corners of the painting, as part of the border, was a subtle emblem of the Compass Sodality.
Sigh also recalls, that Bibliokapios Laurus, the priest depicted on the mural, had an atypical symbol of the Compass Sodality, requiring six points.
As Sigh brings his three taloned clawed hand to the console, it lights up with an image of the Compass Sodality symbol. Using both hands, Sigh presses the console in the same pattern as the priest’s symbol. The door first splits open horizontally, revealing a second door that begins opening vertically.
When I introduced the painting, I didn’t know its purpose. I knew that I wanted to create an object that said “This world has a history.”
I didn’t create it with anything specific in mind, but instead cast that object into the fictional narrative. I inject these little details as a means of providing touchstones for players.
If what I create piques a player’s interest, we’ll dig into it. If it doesn’t, then it’ll be set aside and perhaps fade into the background.
They descend a few steps into an entrance hallway. The hallway runs about 10 meters; There are four 1 metere portals, that open into what appears to be a small holding cells. Beside each cell is a panel; Three panels are lit with the symbol of the Compass Sodality. The fourth remains dim.
At the end of the hallway are two sliding doors.
Into the Laboratory
At minute 85, they all move inside. I take a quick survey of intention. They want to:
- Jam the door
- Checkout the space
- Restart the matter emitter
A quick check reveals that there’s a mechanical open and release mechanism for this laboratory. The fact that this can be opened from the inside allays some of their concerns.
Adolar jams the door closed while Sigh successfully restarts the matter emitter. At this point, they’re sealed in but believe that the opposition will have a hard time breaking in.
Vern Shultz and Nestor Johnson begin exploring. The holding cells with light panels each appear empty. They look into the last one and see a lichen covered rock that is about the size of a medicine ball.
Vern uses his telepathy, and senses “anxiety” coming from the rock.
They characters all hear a voice in their heads ask, “Why are you here?”
Vern responds, “We’re looking for things.”
“You don’t know what you’re looking for?” ask the voice.
“No. Why are you here?” asks Vern.
“I’m here with my crew. We came to deal with the problems of this laboratory.”
“One like you; Well like three of you. Gregor. Betrayed us. Left us here.”
“How long have you been here?” asked Vern.
“Umm, I don’t know. For my kind time is different. A tree grows tall so quickly, yet I remain. And here I keep vigil to ensure nothing leaves past me. My crew and I have been here awhile.”
“Who are you?” asks Vern.
“I am Plek; I come from the Flett, though I believe you know it as the Gansu system. I am a Kvarzflett.”
“Do you know what’s in there?” asks Vern.
“Something dangerous. I need your help to free my crew. You have certain physiology that I lack.”
The characters briefly discuss whether to free Plek’s crew. One asks if they get a sense that Plek’s lying or concealing something. I don’t recall my answer, but I think I redirected the question.
They agree, and look to the three other holding cells. They try to enter one of the holding cells, but an invisible force field blocks them.
Looking to the adjacent panel, they again see a symbolf of the Compass Sodality. However, at the top arm of the star, a line flares to the left and right. My intention was to telegraph that the power meter was up to its highest level, and their hand could slide it down.
Adolar reaches his hand to the panel and draws down the force fields.
And the party has a quick round of introductions with the three other Kvarzflett:
- Crunk - two mid-sized stones
- Kilt - mostly a cloud of sand and silt
- Neck - comprised of many smaller stones
At this point, I ask to end our session. First, I call for a Mental saving throw. Vern, Adolar, and Nestor succeed. Sigh fails their saving throw.
Those that succeed have the feeling of a bit of second guessing, and they focus on the question “Did I really want to do this?”
I’ve structured this adventure in such a way that information began as local to the Resplendent Citadel, but began expanding the scope as sessions moved forward.
I want to equip the players with ample options for future actions and movement. There’s also a Faction turn that I’ll reveal once the players gain access to new off-world information.
It looks like we won’t be playing next Sunday, and I suspect we won’t pick back up until .