Session 12: New Vistas in the Thel Sector

Skullduggery and Explosions

Session 12: New Vistas in the Thel Sector is a game session report for Stars without Number: Revised Edition. We played via Zoom on .

We start our session in the midst of Day 9, Watch 3. The characters have just dispatched three Virtual Intelligence (VI 📖) librarians. I posted notes for Session 11: New Vistas in the Thel Sector.

With having secured the Laboratory of Doctor Argyros, they turn their attention to egress. They know that there’s a force of unknown size waiting outside.

The characters assess the situation. There’s an unopened panel, a room dangerous room that they still need to bath in Ultraviolet (UV 📖), and a small access panel that was once hidden behind a shelf.

They also want to know if there’s any useful information in this library and what triggered the librarian VI to turn.

They find the answer on the walls. In the Northwest most corner, they find the beginning of a written charter, scratched into the wall. It establishes their mandate: to ensure a sanitized library. The character establishes their bylaws and self-governing process.

What the follows is an explanation that “dust” (e.g. particulate) is unclean. So they establish procedures of cleaning. Then a further down, there’s a leap. As “dust” begins with the letter D, and D is the 4th letter in the alphabet, therefore the 4th page is the beginning of “dust”.

Etched in the wall are the salient points of this decision, followed by the decision to expunge the 4th page of every book. Further twisted purely academic logic, left to its own devices for 600 years, ensues.

The conclusion, the librarians in their desire for clean conditions, ransacked the library turning it into a useless heap.

Vern checks the access panel and finds a small store room with several Pretech parts. In Stars without Number: Revised Edition (SWN đź“–), Pretech is basically the raw materials for making advanced pre-collapse equipment and modifications.

For any Refree, this can be a dangerous moment of inaction or ill-conceived plans. Enemies had locked down the characters, and the characters didn’t have a lot of information.

This can lead to a Leeroy Jenkins moment.

At this point, I pull back and ask the players to state their goals:

  • What to do with the VIs cores?
  • What to do with the library? It’s a documentation of madness.
  • Get power to the UV blast device
  • And how to make their way out of the building?

Sigh asks about pulling the memory cores of the VI. I tell him it sounds reasonable, though it’s far quicker to take their heads and extract the cores at a later time. They sever the heads and put them in a duffel bag.

They charge the UV device. They’ve now realized that this laboratory is designed for containment. There’s only leaving by the front door.

First, they go to the Kvarzflett and ask what they want. They’re rather non-committal until the Player Characters (PCs 📖) offer to help the Kvarzflett get off planet. They arrange details for a future rendezvous.

Knowing that we’re closing this adventure, we .

They fire up their beta-wave transponder and write up their encoded message. Telling the pickup team the details of where the lab is, that’s its been plundered, and that there’s active hostilities.

With allies secured they hatch a plan with the following goal: to get out of this spot, find a community, and wait for the pick-up request.

The Plan

Adolar will teleport out to what he hopes to be a hiding space. He’ll bring the VI heads and the Pretech along. From that position he’ll observe and possibly provide limited support.

As Adolar teleports out, Sigh, Vern, and Nestor will come running out. Sigh will trigger the UV blast device and Nestor will shoot a laser shot back into the laboratory.

They hope will create enough confusion to quickly assess the situation outside.

Meanwhile, the Kvarzflett will remain inanimate (as the rocks they are) and are prepared to strike if the odds favour an ambush.

The Reality

They open the door and see three workers in the immediate area.

I ask, “What do you do?”

  • Vern’s yelling “run it’s going to blow”; I call for a Talk test.
  • Nestor’s shooting a blast back into the library; That’s a Shoot test.
  • Sigh’s going to detonate the EMP; That’s a Fix test.
  • Adolar’s teleporting to a secure location; That’s a Notice test.

I want to use these actions to establish the chaotic situation of the moment. I call for them each roll, with a Difficulty Class (DC 📖) 8 as the target.

Everyone succeeds, so the plan starts off perfectly. The distraction and timing of everything means they have the narrative initiative; They tell me what next.

They burst out and stumble into an encampment. In their heads he Kvarzflett tell them that there are 24 life forms out there. The players also see a drop ship parked 50 meters away.

I again ask, “What do you do?”

Vern, Nestor, and Sigh all surrender; Adolar remains hidden at his vantage point.

Here I explain to the players, I don’t want this to feel like a separated party. So if Adolar’s player wants to give advice or work through things, go for it.

As troops bind the PCs, Zoe, whom Nestor and Vern once interogated, approaches and begins asking questions:

“Why did you come running out?”

“We heard the sound of something building up. We thought it was going to explode. We really don’t know how long we were down there.”

“Why are you hear and who brought you here?”

“We are looking for Pretech stuff and found some information that it might be here. Here’s what we found.”

Sigh produces a Pretech artifict and gives it to Zoe.

Zoe barks, “Take it back to the ship, Parzival’s going to want this.”

At this point, we do a temperature check. How do the players want to proceed?

After a bit of a conversation, they agree that Nestor’s going to try to convince Zoe to send in as many as possible to clear the laboratory.

Sounds possible, and I ask for Nestor to pick their DC.

  • On a 14, Zoe will leave one active guard
  • On a 12, Zoe will leave 5 guards
  • On a 10, Zoe will leave 9 guards

Nestor throws his dice, and comes up huge: a 16.

Zoe checks the bindings, seems satisfied, and orders the guard to shoot them if they do anything funny. She then leads the remainder to the laboratory, leaving 2 guards at the entrance.

With Zoe’s retinue in the laboratory, the Kvarzflett unleash a psychic assault on the remaining three guards.

The PCs eye the drop ship and consider what to do. They don’t have time to steal the ship, and decide to make for the orchard.

After a quick discussion, they agree to split with the slower Kvarzflett and meet in 8 watches at a small village. While on the run, Sigh’s busily creating a jamming device from the Pretech.

Conclusion

We talk a bit, and this feels like a great place to close out this adventure. I tell them that they’ll arrive safely at the rendezvous point, and we’ll pick up with them leaving the planet of Efesos in the Callisto system.

I made no promises that this will be a clean get away; In fact, I told them I’d write up some random tables or perhaps a few Love Letters.