THE STARS LIKE DUST
Episode Five - Peril on Pavonis I
The PC's are on their way to Pavonis I, to find Mordecala Svenson, sister of Darmath Svenson. She went missing on a survey mission to the planet some weeks ago, the only clue being the garbled last transmission received.
Pavonis I is an inhospitable planet with an unbreathable atmosphere. The planet exhibits some anomalies, it is too cold for an inner planet and the weather systems are aberrant
The Bolgan freighter was a dirty, grimy working ship with a minimal crew. They were not interested in what the PC's were up to or why they were aboard, apart from one. Her name was 'Spark' Knight and she was working as chief cook and bottle washer. In reality, she was a psionic, from a noble family on Proxyon. The transit to Pavonis I took 48 hours, during this time Spark introduced Bob and Hopper to the crew's regular game of Stricken. Bob ended up winning the pot, but then had to hand over most of the money to Hopper as he had borrowed it off him in the first place! Spark had had enough on the ship and decided to stow away on the lander, despite being fed up of Ito constantly spouting Him dogma.
In orbit around Pavonis I, they boarded the ships lander. The pilot informed them that she would put them down at Laidley Base, the site of the original expedition, and would return in 15 days. She would wait no longer than six hours. They unloaded the ATV and drove to the base. Laidley Base was three domes; suiting up and entering they found that most fittings had been stripped but the fusion core was still operating and minimal power. On restoring full power, the life support panel indicated a slight pressure loss. Searching around inside, they found a scribbled note:-
"Torres swears she has seen a humanoid figure outside - tall, long-limbed, with shaggy fur. Meinhof doesn't want to know - who put him in charge?"
Searching outside, Spark and Hopper found several deep scratches in the fabric of the dome; one had caused a slight puncture.
Realising that time was of the essence, they boarded the ATV and headed west towards the mountains, the same direction Svenson had gone. The strange weather became apparent early on, they drove through torrential rain, which turned to hail, then mysteriously cleared. The ATV was using power at a faster rate than expected, a cause for concern based on Mordecala's last transmission, which they listened to several times.
"Electrical... system... shorted. Storms... peaks. Try... land... motors failing... (static)... look there Cord!... the lake... head (long burst of static)"
Bob and Spark took turns driving and so they made good progress. As night fell on the first day they ran into a heavy blizzard, visibility was zero so they searched for and found a cave in which they could shelter.
The following morning they started to dig the cave entrance out when the temperature rose sharply and the snow sublimated and vanished. Continuing to head west into the mountains, they remarked on several furry quadruped creatures pacing the vehicle. Any illusions they had about their intent were shattered when one suddenly leapt onto the roof and began clawing at it. Its claws were actually capable of damaging the vehicle so Bob slewed to a stop and they leapt out to do battle (all except Spark, who moved to the driving seat). Four other Lopers ran in to attack, Bob was badly clawed but his suits self-sealing mechanism saved him. Zarus used his telekinesis to lift Ito onto the roof of the ATV to attack the one that was trying to get at Spark through the windscreen, Ito managed to break one of his monoblades. Bob was hurt again (GM: at this point a discussion started about how to apply a Lazarus patch through a vacc suit), finally the last Loper was killed. Zarus cut off one of the heads and stored it in the fridge, to take back as evidence that life existed on the planet, and possibly what might have happened to Mordecala.
Bob was all for turning back at this point, as he was injured (so was Hopper, but Bob was the worst). He was overruled and they continued west.
Heading up into the mountains, they had to avoid several lava streams from an erupting volcano, these caused many delays due to having to backtrack and find alternate routes. Both Spark and Zarus hit on the fact that these mountains were not volcanic in origin and so should not be exhibiting volcanism. Things got worse when a massive earthquake shook the region and the ATV was caught in a landslide. It ended up partially buried in scree and rubble with the powertrain disabled, however Hopper was easily able to fix it.
At the moment the earthquake struck, Hopper had been messing with the radiation detector. Suddenly it went off the scale, but was unable to identify the type of radiation, shortly afterwards the earthquake occurred.
Exiting the mountains, with the power levels again dropping, the ATV entered an area of badlands, tall cliffs and narrow box canyons. They came upon a circular plain, with a 12' tall spire of deep purple crystal in the centre. They got out to investigate and soon found that the surface was effectively frictionless. The spire was impervious to weapons, even a monoblade would not touch it, and gunfire ricocheted off in a random direction (Zarus was nearly hit by his own laser shot)! Hopper tested for radiation and found that it was off the scale with the unknown radiation, although nearby objects tested only for normal background radiation. Digging round it, they found that it was rooted, seemingly growing, out of bedrock.
Returning to the ATV, having decided that the spire was something to do with the general screwed-up planet, they saw the light was blinking on the compad. Turning it on, they heard: -
"This is Mordecala Svenson, calling Laidley Base. Can anybody hear me? Please respond. Repeat, This is Mordecala Svenson, calling Laidley Base. Can anybody hear me? Please respond.”
To be continued...
GM: A really fun session. It was summery and hot, so we played out in the garden (as the UK has been experiencing monsoon conditions for the last few weeks, this was great). Ben’s girlfriend Chloe played Spark.
Grognards may recognise this adventure as being adapted from SPI's "Universe" RPG. I revised it so I could use the mapless 'Ablative Dungeon System' (ADS) and add in more stuff.
I used a Digital Voice Recorder to record and play the messages from Mordecala, this went down really well.
In true sandbox format, the ATV has 20 power units (uses 10 Type B power cells). I have NO IDEA whether they have sufficient power to complete the mission. Usage of power is handled by the ADS.