So a handful of us on the Miniatureverse Discord Server decided to start playing an RPG online. I started googling the latest games, old favorites, software, rulesets… you know, the usual.
We were set on playing DnD5e and kind of starting lining things up for that and then as fate would have it I got an email from BundleofHolding.com with the Stars Without Number (SWN) starter collection for less than $10 with part of the money going to a food bank charity. Win/win. Most of us in our group leans more towards scifi than fantasy so after some discussion, SWN felt like the right game to settle into for a while. (We did look into Starfinder, 5150 and a few others but ultimately the sandbox gameplay, canon and ruleset of SWN won us over.)
We looked at a few options for what app we were going to use to play. Fantasy Grounds looked like a good option but there’s no direct support for SWN. We then tried roll20.net and after some experimenting, I was able to get everyone’s characters into the SWN character sheets and we were off.
Our adventurers so far:
Character: GM/Noxx Tsun Tsa
Character: Saiga Black
Character: Maximus McCloud
Character: Domoz Domoztri
Character: GM/Thell Kelter
Location: Karoki Sector
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far…………………………….
Artanus Nine City Ship
The game starts with our group arriving by shuttle onto the pleasure ship Artanus Nine. This massive cruise ship holds tens of thousands of people and is one of several traveling cities that act as vacations spots, layovers, refueling stations and commerce hubs for Karoki and neighboring systems. (Artanus is the name of the company that owns most of this sector, headed up by Nicola Artanus.) After our group goes through the security checkpoint, they are approached by an NPC (Jamal) asking if they are looking for work and offers information to them for 25 credits each. The manage to haggle the price down to 15 credits which Jamal accepts and then promptly disappears without giving them anything. Welcome to the game. 😀
Our First Job
After being taken for a few credits Maximus decides to use his connect ability to see if there are any possible contacts to pick up a job from. On a successful skill role, he gets two hits, one from a document forger and one from a small-time vehicle thief. The group decides to meet up with Kalon the thief. Kalon offers to take them to a relic collector that has a job for them for 200 credits which they agree to.
Our group meets at a small shop in one of the several malls in the city. They are led to a back room where they meet Aurora Dame, a relic and antiquities dealer. An unusual amount of tech level-4 equipment is set up in this room…. strange for a simple shop owner. She explains that a relic that was stolen from her collection has turned up on an uncharted planet in this system. She offers 500 credits each for the group to retrieve the artifact for her.
At this point, the group has no weapons (no weapons allowed on the cruise ship) except a monoblade knife that players with the Assassin Foci have hidden on them. Dom uses his telekinetic ability to determine they can get more money from Aurora. The final price is 2500 credits with 1000 credits in advance. The group sets off to find a pilot and ship they can charter to the coordinates given to them by Aurora. Kalon explains that he has security codes to the hangar doors if the group is interested. They negotiate a 125 credit price for the security codes and make their way down the concourse to get supplies and then check the prices for a pilot and ship.
The Getaway Plan
While paying for their supplies Aurora sends a message to Maximus telling them that Kalon has sold them out to the Artanus security team on fake weapons allegations. Security drones and officers are now looking for the group.
Our players hide in the store near an access door to the lower levels of the ship. A security guard lazily stands watch in between the store and the access door. A hack was discussed but it would leave one of the group out in the open standing in front of a security door for 10 minutes even if the level 1 players could roll a successful hack skill. Saiga notices Jamal across the concourse and makes his way over to him. After brandishing his monoblade and threatening his life, Jamal decides to cause a diversion so our players can steal the guard’s key card to access the door. After a couple of rolls with the dice on their side the group is sneaking around in the lower sections of the floating city ship.
With the security threat increasing they decide to “borrow” a ship to get off the station. After a few directional decisions, the group makes it to the first hangar and sneak into an acceptable hiding spot. There are a few ships under repair and an Artanus shuttle near the bay doors. The players decide to try for the shuttle because it doesn’t appear to be in the midst of a repair and has most likely been refueled. The only obstacle is a set of docking clamps that have to be released from the hangar control room. There are several workers and security drones in the area. With no guns and level 1 hit points, getting in a fight with a D21 drone is not an option.
Saiga decides to sneak up to the control room and take a look. He’s not detected and sees a human guard and a D21 drone in the control room. The group formulates a plan to cause a diversion. Maximus comes up with an idea to catastrophically damage a gas cylinder and start a fire or explosion in the adjoining corridor. I thought there was no way for them to pass skill checks for something like this………. I was wrong. The tank caused a small explosion and fire in the corridor which set off the emergency protocols, locking the bulkhead doors down. The security guard sent the drone to extinguish the fire leaving him and Saiga locked in the control room together. Saiga makes a perfect knife execution to get rid of the guard and skill roles enough to use the computer to unlock the docking clamps on the shuttle and starts making his way down to the others.
The other players board the shuttle and surprise a worker that inside the craft. Dom tries to recruit the hangar worker to join the team which is answered with a resounding “no”. This bought Saiga enough time to get down to the shuttle where the group votes to kill the worker. Saiga again demonstrates his knife skills and easily guts the worker, dropping him to the floor of the shuttle.
The drone was successful at putting the corridor fire out and the bulkhead doors reopen allowing workers and security to come back into the hangar. Maximus has powered up the shuttle and has it hovering a few feet off the ground while Saiga enters the code they bought from Kalon to open the doors. The doors dont open….. after reading the code backward, they understand why….. “dquFrU”.
The security drone approaches the back of the shuttle and Maximus, passing a piloting skill test, spins the shuttle around hitting the drone and sending him flying across the hangar. Dom opens the shuttle ramp and tells the workers to open the hangar bay doors or they will be killed. The workers leave the hangar and barricade themselves in the control room calling for more security. A lot of discussion starts happening and I can tell the players (TKindig) is a bit on edge about the latest events in the Karoki Sector. After a few seconds of this the hangar bay doors open…… Kalon is in the control room waving at the team with a severed hand from one of the workers….. honor among thieves I guess.
Maximus speeds out of the hangar into open space….. A short explanation of CPs and space travel (I may have even gotten some of it correct) and the group is off to try to get the shuttle wiped clean of owner details. A proximity warning tells the team that 3 drones have been dispatched and are in pursuit of the shuttle. These are utility drones with cutting lasers that won’t do much damage. The crew preps to drill through space and during the prep the drones manage to cut portions of the hull and damage the fuel system. With fuel leaking into space now they have to make some decisions. Saiga notices that if they speed up the amount of fuel leaked lessens. After some quick calculations, he figures that they can make it to the relic destination with a little fuel to spare. Maximus brings up the point that the planet may not even exist as its not on any of the star maps. They burn some CPs and find an old rutter trail to follow and decide to take the risk. Everything is readied and they jump to the coordinates of the relics planet.
During the voyage a message from Aurora comes in…… the worker they killed in the shuttle is the son of Nicola Artanus. Artanus has dispatched two tech level-5 bounty hunter drones to bring back the players, dead or alive.
The group arrives at the planets coordinates and true to Aurora’s word, the planet is there. The planet spins on a horizontal axis leaving one side of the planet in icy darkness constantly, while the other side is a scorched desert. There’s a thin band in the center that’s the only green on the planet.
Houston, we have a problem….
As Maximus starts to ready the landing procedures it becomes apparent that the ship has no atmospheric capabilities…. it’s just made to jump ship to ship. The fuel is still leaking at an alarming rate and when repairs are attempted and failed, a short circuit sends smoke into the cabin that drifts directly to the airlock doors. The crew knows they are venting O2 into space. After several minutes of debate on what to do the proximity alarm goes off again…. this time its a small MEC transport ship bearing down on the shuttle. Dom contacts the transport and after some quick talking, they agree to dock with the shuttle and give the crew a lift to the nearest station.
As the transport starts to maneuver into position, I remind the group that they have a dead body lying in the middle of the floor of the shuttle. They quickly decide to put it in the only escape pod and jettison it towards the planet. After a lucky roll, the scheme goes as planned as is unnoticed by the MEC ship.
We Have Company
After docking with the MEC ship the crew finds out that the docking seal is damaged and leaking dangerously fast. The crew makes a saving roll and jumps aboard the transport before the seal ruptures and sends the shuttle spinning towards the planet. Inside the transport the crew sees several prisoners shackled to a “sled” in the transport ship. They find out its a prison transport. Six inmates, two crewmen. During this time Saiga notices an incoming transmission from an Artanus frigate that has followed the shuttles wake trail. He knows the frigate will be here within minutes and they MEC crewman now know they are wanted.
A combat sequence starts and Saiga and Maximus are victorious, killing both the guards. They confiscate their weapons, two pistols. The prisoners cheer for them and demand to be let go. One of the prisoners recognizes Saiga from serving in the military together, he is unlocked immediately. He explains to the group that several of the prisoners were taken by the MEC under false charges just to be left on the planet below. He goes on to explain that a few of them are burnt out from burning psi powers constantly….. psychopaths that cant be trusted… best to keep them medicated and shackled.
After a short ship inspection, its explained that the only way down to the planet is by using the sled to drop through the atmosphere to the surface. Evidently, no ship ever lands on the planet, its too dangerous. Standard procedure is to drop prisoners off and forget about them…. they fend for themselves once on the planet.
The frigate is within sensor range and will be on top of the group in minutes. Saiga’s friend agrees to come back with his own ship and pick up our crew in 6 days in return for freeing him. Dom uses a telepathy skill to sense that he is telling the truth and the group loads up on to the sled. The bottom of the ship opens and the sled drops like a stone towards the surface of the planet. One of the prisoners starts to panic and struggles to free his hands, shifting the weight of the sled causing it to spin and invert. Not surprisingly Saiga decides to stab the prisoner in the gut to make him calm down…. this makes him panic worse and he unbuckles his harness flying out away from the sled screaming. The sled flips upside down and is getting ever closer to the surface. We know the rockets on the sled will fire when close to the ground, inverted or not. Saiga manages to move to the end of the sled causing it to balance and right itself just before the brake rockets fire and slow the sled down enough to land without breaking everyone’s spines.
Once on the ground our group shakes off the impact as a loud beeping starts emanating from the sled. Everyone runs from the sled and rolls a physical saving throw with Maximus coming up short and taking a few hit points worth of damage as the sled explodes.
Welcome to the party
The group is in a field of tall grass with a treeline about 100 yards from them. They start towards the treeline and then hear growls as several animals circle them in the tall grass. Maximus and Saiga stand back to back with pistols drawn waiting on the attack. One of the beasts lunges from the grass towards our group and before anyone can get a shot off a spear pins the animal to the ground killing it. The players look around and are surrounded by a large group of men, all with spears readied. Its the prison planet welcome party.
The group is stripped of their weapons and escorted to an ancient stone structure deep in the jungle ring. Here they meet the “king” of the prisoners, Lagos Drax. Dom promptly speaks up and demands a dinner feast and a conversation with Drax and attempts to use his telepathy skill on him. A small deformed creature in a wheelchair beside Drax senses what Dom is doing and blocks it with his own powerful telepath ability. Drax is insulted and doesnt appreciate a mental probing from Dom.
Surrounded by dozens of followers Drax stands and steps towards the group. He tells them that they must choose which one of them will die for their arrogance……. Somehow Maximus is elected.
Until next week!