Marcus L. Rowland (ffutures) wrote,
Marcus L. Rowland


I didn't post about Dragonmeet yesterday on Saturday because I was dog tired by the time I got home and I spent Sunday getting caught up on other things and trying to sooth a VERY sore throat.

The new venue (the Ibis hotel in Earl's Court) is a reasonable alternative to Kensington Town Hall. Food was mostly surprisingly cheap, though soft drinks were a bit expensive. But it felt a bit crowded, especially since they apparently had 1500+ people there, and the Open Games area (where I was running my sessions) was perpetually short of chairs. A lot of people seemed to have trouble finding the games they'd signed up for, which really didn't help.

The morning session was Forgotten Futures: the second part of Pyramid Scheme, in which the adventurers tracked Mad Empress Margaret's movements after her faked death and escape from her tomb under London. I really don't want to say more about that one since it will be in the next Forgotten Futures release, except that there was a reasonably happy ending.

The afternoon session was Custodians of the Cosmos, a cinematic adventure using modified Diana: Warrior Princess rules.

That one began about three or four months ago when the con organisers asked for people to run games - I put my name down for a couple, one of which I described as follows:

Custodians of the Cosmos
A motley assortment of adventurers join forces to visit strange new worlds, seek out new life and civilizations... and terminate anything that seems a threat to interstellar peace and harmony. Needless to say they _are_ a threat to interstellar peace and harmony, but hey, nobody's perfect. Especially when there's a big bar bill to pay, and someone's offering a reward of 500,000 credits for the Dread Space Pirate Robots...

Then, of course, I more or less forgot that I actually needed to write the damn adventure. Until earlier this week, when panic set in. Fortunately the solution was obvious - since I'd wasted a lot of time playing Oolite and that's quite a well-developed universe I set the adventure there, more or less. In this setting starships can't carry more than 7 LY worth of fuel, and can only jump between solar systems. But when a ship travels through hyperspace it briefly opens a wormhole - another ship can follow it without using any fuel.

There's a region in one of the galaxies which is divided by "The Great Rift," where all possible system-system jumps are 7.2 LY or more. There's a way to cross it, but it's difficult and involves another ship which may well be destroyed. So I decided that this was a natural region to encounter pirates. That let me use the galaxy map rather than having to invent my own - I printed it out across three sheets of A3 paper them got the players in the morning game and various random strangers to add cryptic notes to the map before I ran the adventure, e.g. "here be dragons," "Best burger bar in galaxy," a note in Japanese that I have no idea about, and so forth, to make it more interesting.

In the event I had three players so I asked the players to choose famous SF characters and come up with some simple stats; this gave me the elderly Obi-Wan Kenobi, Tegan from classic Dr. Who, and Buck Rogers (and the little robot Twiki) as the team.

The plot was actually dead simple - an alien businessman offered the adventurers money to eliminate pirates who were attacking ships along the edge of the Great Rift. They guessed fairly quickly that the pirates must be based on the other side. They also learned that the pirates (who only communicated by radio) claimed to be robots, and were stealing things that would be useful to them - computers. machinery, precious metals (useful for components), gems (useful for lasers etc.) and so forth.

So they came up with a plan - they found a hacker and got him to sell them a deadly computer virus, guaranteed to take out any computer know, loaded up with computers and started trolling up and down the edges of the rift.

Eventually a freighter followed them into their wormhole then did something that caused a misjump which crashed them out in interstellar space, and transmitted a message: "Be ye Turing-competent AIs, or human scum?"

As it happens the adventurers did have a robot with them - Twiki.

So they told Twiki to say they were robots - the stranger then transmitted a coded signal that made Twiki go berserk and start hitting Rogers. Fortunately Twiki was too small to do much damage, though Rogers' knees took a pounding. The stranger then demanded that they yield their cargo of computers to the "Thought Collective." Needless to say combat then ensued, which led to the attackers using their hyperdrive to escape across the Rift (at this point the nearest system was 6.8 LY away). The adventurers followed them through their wormhole, and resumed slugging it out on the South side of the rift. This eventually left both ships damaged, the players' ship out of fuel, and the attacker fleeing on fuel injectors (which give extra speed in normal space). By the time the adventurers limped to a Rock Hermit (asteroid base) the pirates had been and gone. The adventurers got Twiki rebooted and went on the hunt again.

After another inconclusive encounter the Collective decided to take out the threat. One of their ships pretended to be an innocent freighter dropping cargo and fleeing from the adventurers' ship - they naturally went to scoop it up, taking aboard three tons of radioactives and two of computers. A couple of minutes later alarms started sounding from the hold, and they went down to find that the five crates had assembled themselves into a large robotic bomb (stolen from Dark Star) which screwed itself to the floor plates, with a 300-second countdown. It then asked them to prove that they were Turing-competent intelligences, with the countdown starting up whenever they stopped talking. The adventurers solved this one by feeding the computer virus to the bomb, which promptly started to sing Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" - the virus had rickrolled the bomb! While it was distracted they used Kenobi's light sabre to cut out the floor plates, dumped the bomb, and put the pedal to the metal. A BIG explosion then ensued, but they got away.

Finally the adventurers worked out the most likely location of the pirate base, and went after it. This did not go entirely to plan - when they navigated to that system's navy base, it turned out to have been replaced by a Borg-style cube, and they were promptly boarded by another robot which cut through the hull; the dreaded "Blackturret" (a Dalek - yes, I know real Daleks aren't robots, exactly, but bear with me). The adventurers claimed to be aware of secret government anti-piracy plans that they would only reveal to the pirates leaders - this got them in to see Long John 3PO, their leader. They tried the virus trick again but 3PO just downloaded it and sneered at them... except that it started to tap its foot as they were being dragged away for execution. The adventurers guessed, correctly, that things were about to go badly wrong for the pirates, and made a break for it as "Never Gonna Give You Up" began to play over the cube's speakers. They then ran for their ship and escaped as the cube finally imploded, triggering a Queridium blast (Oolite's WMD) and eliminating the robot pirate threat once and for all. They escaped into hyperspace seconds ahead of the blue sphere of death.

Fadeout to a happy ending, apart from the sudden realisation that they didn't have an address for the alien who had sponsored them, or any way to claim the reward...

I was actually pretty pleased with the way it went, and I think a lot of the credit for that was that I knew the Oolite universe well enough to explain technology, the way its hyperdrives and jump drives worked, etc. so well that I never had to grope for an explanation. The robot pirates were the only real invention, and they worked well in the fairly silly context I was creating.

Finished that about six and went along to the game auction at 6.30, that took more than an hour and raised £1600+ for charity. I didn't manage to win any item, and some of the prices were insanely high, but it was all for good causes. After talking to friends for a while I headed home. Hopefully I'll be feeling more human and will actually be able to talk properly in a day or two...
Tags: diana warrior princess, forgotten futures, rpg

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