Younger, in the New Hull system you must seek Plink Plink, one of our flock. Before you speak to Plink Plink, you must find a suitable gift.
Sigh Redfeather received the above message from a future Sigh.
As they drill in from the Takeo system, a patrol boat hails: “This is the NH Victoria. Welcome to the New Hull system. Please state your business.”
About New Hull
With one primary arrival point from Takeo, New Hull operates from a position of security. One of the system’s patrol boats invariably greets new arrivals.
There are two primary destinations:
- NH Churchill
Elsted is a tidal-locked planet of the New Hull system. One side a baked hellscape and the other a frozen tomb. The 9 million or so Elstedders inhabit a massive caldera along the twilight region. Within the caldera, they built and maintain numerous interconnected biodome structures.
You can recognize an Elstedder by their pale complexion and numerous black-metal prosthetic replacements.
Near Gobannus, New Hull’s lone gas giant, the NH Churchill is home to approximately 10,000 souls, along with a contingent of patrol boats and a couple heavy frigates.
As Captain Yarl Hantz docks the Watchful Eye, he tells the player characters that they need to get the 1000 Credits (Cr 📖) for refueling cost. Captain Hantz is thinking they’ll leave in five or so days.
The characters take the umbilicus into the NH Churchill; the air lock opens into a waiting arboretum. This is a place to relax and enjoy. It’s clear that this open space is here to offer respite to weary travelers.
Sigh’s player wonders about introducing a fact to the game. I ask his intention. They want a festival that will make it easier for Nestor to bump into a past contact.
I like the idea, and figure a potential complication would be that the festival escalates into a problem. Sigh’s character succeeds at a Difficulty Class (DC 📖) 8 Know test, and introduces Lamenstide. This echoes Burning Wheel Gold (BWG 📖)’s Wises. I want players to bring these things to the table.
Lamenstide is a Kenku holiday of petty thievery of baubles culminating in a creating a communal art installation. On the NH Churchill, during this holiday the non-Kenku often wear beautiful jewelry and baubles challenging the Kenku to steal the objects. All of this is done in fun and mirth.
Throughout the session, we continued to narrate little bits of this holiday. It added a perfect backdrop to the session.
Nestor makes a DC 8 Connect test, and find James Gray. A few years ago, Nestor met James on the NH Churchill. James is a local clerk and pointed the player characters to the New Hull Health Cooperative.
When Nestor last met James, James was missing two fingers. Now James has replaced his hand with a black alloy prosthetic.
New Hull Health Cooperative
Are you in good health? Looking for some money? Stop by the offices of the New Hull Health Cooperative.
The group walks to the offices of the New Hull Health Cooperative. Along the way, they notice various Kenku skulking about, looking for their mark. They also observe that most of the people have some black-allow prosthetic.
At the door to the New Hull Health Cooperative they see advertisements for all kinds of adventure vistas; a common theme is people exploring and playing.
They enter the office, and a man with black alloy arms and lower jaw greets them. “Hi, welcome to the New Hull Health Cooperative. I’m Marty. How can I help?”
After a bit of conversation, Marty shares with them a schedule:
|One knuckle segment from your finger||100 Cr|
|One finger||1000 Cr|
|One hand||10,000 Cr and black-alloy prosthetic or 2,500 additional Cr|
|One arm||50,000 Cr and black-alloy prosthetic or 2,500 additional Cr|
Marty also informs the group that the offer excludes Kenku.
An important context that the players pick-up on: At no time during the session did their characters feel pressured to sell a digit. Nor did they feel as though someone’s going to mug them and take a finger.
Before Marty discloses that information he requests that they each agree to a psychic Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA 📖). An analogue to the Geas spell in Dungeons and Dragons: Third Edition (3E 📖)
One of the players asks, “Do I get the sense that Marty’s a pariah on the base?”
I tell the player that they don’t get the sense of that. I quickly narrate a moment to clarify:
During your whispered deliberations, Marty goes back to some computer work. Someone pops their head in and says: “Hey, Marty you going to the art installation tonight?”
Marty responds, “You know it! And you?”
“Cool. Hey, are they signing up?”
“I don’t think so,” replies Marty.
“Oh well, maybe the next crew. Hey, see you tonight! I’m looking forward to what those Kenku create. Already lost a silly bracelet my daughter made.”
Marty goes about his computer work while the character have a side conversation. None of them are eager to hazard a psychic NDA. Especially since they are all still under the effect of disadvantage for all Mental saving throws.
The characters decide to adjourn and discuss over dinner
Hints around Dinner
On the NH Churchill, the one thing they offer is space to stretch out and enjoy a meal. Large tables with big booths. Plenty of space. A host seats them. And the characters begin their deliberations about selling body parts.
Claire approaches to get their food choices. She herself has a black-alloy hand and foot. After a bit of idle banter Vern asks, “Is that New Hull Health Cooperative legit?”
Claire responds, “They do good work. The Lord’s work.”
At this point Nestor’s wondering if he knows any dirt about New Hull. I call for a DC 8 Know check. I’m ready to reveal something, but the consequence will be information of marginal utility.
Nestor rolls a 7. Failure. I tell the players back a few years ago, some employees from New Vistas went to New Hull; It wasn’t too much later and New Vistas fired the unit’s handler.
Nestor asks the blunt question of Claire, “What’s happened to the native population that the New Hull Health Cooperative is looking for off-worlders.”
I call for a DC 8 Talk. On a success, I’m ready to spill more information. On a failure, I’ll again give marginal information.
While Nestor’s asking the question, Vern is reading Claire’s surface thoughts.
Claire responds, “Honey, they’re boring. We’re looking for something new. Something we haven’t felt before.”
While saying that Vern gets the word lust and the mental image of Claire and Nestor climbing a glacier together. Vern’s player offered hungry as the word, which I wanted to say, but that would’ve implied more digestive things.
Claire jots down their order, and heads back to get their food.
With Claire gone, they start earnest discussions.
Adolar’s concerned with “what else are they doing with the implant and with the harvest.”
We close the scene.
They talk for a bit, but are getting stuck in the mystery.
I reminded the players that they can use the Connect skill to find someone that knows information about what’s happening.
Connect is a skill that echoes Burning Wheel Gold’s Circles. The game really opens up when everyone at the table realizes “I’m going to make a Connect check to find someone that can get me information about X, Y, or Z.”
It’s the social analogue to a Knowledge check. And, in my opinion, is far more useful in world building. A Knowledge check doesn’t come with the same assumptions of a conversation.
What I mean by that is if you ask for a Knowledge check, it’s got a bit of “Here’s all you know.” Whereas with a Connect or Circles test, the Game Master (GM 📖) conjures up an Non-Player Character (NPC 📖) and the players can ask questions and respond to that persona.
In other words, Connect brings in a dynamic resource and Knowledge implies a non-dynamic resource (e.g. you know it or you don’t).
The characters decide to track someone down. I call for a DC 12 Connect. The consequence is they’ll find someone but it won’t be a good situation.
Nestor’s going to make the Connect roll, but the players narrate a bit of a montage scene:
Sigh spends time bumping into people and helping fix little baubles. Sigh rolls a 12 on their Fix, which is enough to help Nestor’s Connect test.
Adolar spends a bit of time talking shop with a few medical technicians. Adolar rolls a 5 on their Heal, which doesn’t help.
Vern keeps an eye on the crowd to see if he spots anyone that might be of interest. Vern fails their Notice check.
One of the helpers succeeded, so Adolar gets a +1 to their Connect roll. Which is fortuitous because the help bumps their roll to a 12.
Cool! They’ll Connect with someone and I won’t be invoking the Enmity Clause from Burning Wheel Gold.
In session, I named the ritual “Lichen and Obsidian” however when I said it outloud it didn’t have a good mouth feel. I’ve since renamed it Ritual of Obsidian and Moss.
The expository conversation basically goes as follows:
After their meal, the characters spend the afternoon trying to trade down leads while also enjoying the holiday.
Claire, having ended her shift bumps into you. She’s clearly got something on her mind.
“So, I was thinking, you’re all new here. And it’s clear you don’t know about the Ritual of Obsidian and Moss. I would’ve thought my brother Marty would’ve told you. He sometimes forgets that not everyone knows.
Anyway, it’s our sacred ritual. «And the Lord said, eat of my body and do this in my memory.»
We gather in the caldera of Elsted and ritually prepare the flesh with the lichen that grows on Elsted. We then eat that flesh.
Often two people might share. «And the two will be one flesh.»
And in this ritual, those that consume the prepared meal gain the full memories of the person who’s flesh you eat. In a way, you become also them.
Whereas you are one person and I am 90 people.”
The players ask “Why haven’t you left New Hull?”
“Those that leave, are rumored to lose some of their memories. They become what you would call one person. And when they again drill through space, they become another person.”
End of Session
With the big reveal, we close out our session, and dive into a bit of a retrospective.
One of the players wonders and marvels that the two communities, humans and Kenku, are so close. They can’t exchange their thoughts across species.
The name of the ritual reminds the players of the Kvarzflett; the lichen and stone. They also wonder if the pacification from the Laboratory of Doctor Argyros has made it to Elsted.
We talk a bit about this ritual. It becomes clear that you don’t want to steal body parts. You gain the memories of who you ate. You probably don’t want to become a person who had their hand forcibly stolen.
The players don’t receive this “memory eating cult” as though the people have a religious fervor. Instead they’re okay with the boundaries that the memory eating cult appear to have established. They really are lusting for new memories. We think its cool. But they are not forcing it on others. You’re looking for new memories.
The players also wondered if they could block their memories from the transfer? Perhaps with some psychic surgery, but for now, the characters are not going through with this ritual.