Fragged Empire

Beyond Haven – Burn (Session 4)

Our monthly Wednesday games have a lot of difficulty with regular attendance. But we managed a pretty full house for session 4 of Beyond Haven.

It started with a brief recap of the previous session and the players generally agreeing that we’re all sorts of fuxxor’d.

We all get a spare time point and most of us spend it working on some research.

Leena – my psychopathic Kaltoran Dark Tribe assassin and bio-technician – makes great progress on researching the Box of Brains. Its secrets are still a long way off, but any progress is good on this difficult research.

Tij – our Kaltoran rigger – makes no real progress on researching fusion power for the bio-distinegrator rifle we scavenged last session.

Wabmey – our Nephilim combat engineer – investigated the Ley Harvester cannon (the big fuck off ship gun we also scavenged last session. It’s weird in that it sucks the energy out of its target rather than smacking things upside the face with overwhelming force. Wabmey finds this exciting. The rest of us find his excitement a little excessive and disturbing.

Lancel -our Legion face – studied the tactical records of our encounters with the mechonids, but made no breakthroughs.  So we’re still fighting blind against the damned machines. Leena is especially unimpressed with this. She’s all about soft, squishy flesh. Either fixing or modifying it with her medical and bio-tech skills or, more commonly, stabbing it with her family’s ancestral blade. Repeatedly. At some point she’s going to nick her blades on their metallic joints and that’s just not cool.

It was at about this point that the other players realised that they were still level one, despite the group deciding at the end of the last session that we’ve been level five all along. They took to levelling up. It’s a simple process in Fragged Empire. Add one to three or four numbers on your character sheet. And choose a trait. From a list of a couple of hundred. Each with unique effects and lots of “if you take this, you can never take this whole bunch over here”. It is not a quick process. And produces only minimally differentiated characters. Anywho, I won’t review the system just yet. Moving on.

Three days jump away is a star creatively titled 9319. It’s not where we were heading. But after going so far off course, we lack the supplies to go anywhere else and still make it home. So, we go there. Some exploration is better than none.

We immediately notice a repeating message being broadcast through the system “This system is a protected system. Speak to the Archons before proceeding”.

The Archons have been dead for a while, so we decide to assume that they’d have given us permission.

We spend a little while doing some astronomy. Wabmey and Leena are fairly confident that 9319 is a star and vaguely yellow. We decide that astronomy isn’t for us. Tij and especially Lancel do a much better job and we’re overflowing with technical details (for example 9319 has a radius of 0.93 Sol and a luminosity of 0.43 Sols). There are three items of interest – a rocky planet at 1.75AU (which Leena creatively dubs 9319-2) that probably has an atmosphere and two space stations. One is broadcasting the message and the other is silent. There are a few other planets as well, but at this distance they look uninteresting. We decide they can wait for a proper survey team.

We decide to check out 9319-2. Turns out it does have an atmosphere. 78% CO2, 19% Argon, 2% methane (likely microbiological in origin). Not exactly friendly for animals. Plants might do okay. Hey, we could maybe terraform this place. It’s also nearly 50% Iron, which is nuts. Lots of sodium too and the more typical large quantites of silicon. It’s quite a warm world with an average surface temp of 65C, despite being a long way from a dim star.

The group breaks to discuss what would happen if we caused a reaction between the CO2 and the methane to create water and then allowed that to rain on the exposed metallic sodium deposits.

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Some people just wanna watch the world burn. (source: Pixabay. Public Domain)

We leave 9319-2 behind and go do some long range scans of the silent station. It has EM emissions consistent with basic electronics operating, so it’s still alive. We get closer and discover that it looks ornate and old. Lots of micrometeorite impacts. It seems unarmed, but weapons could just be hidden.

We decide to head in for a closer look and maybe some boarding and pillaging. We quickly notice that someone got here before us. And instead of using the front door, they cut a large hole in the side of the station. Vandals.
We decide to knock politely at the front door. The door stays closed. Our computer expert asks nicely. The response is gibberish.

We use the previously cut entrance.

It’s exposed three decks worth of hallways. We pick the middle one and a random direction and off the four of us go. As we’re wandering down the hallway, artificial gravity slowly and pleasantly kicks in. None of us decide to see if atmosphere has also returned. Our respirators deserve to get to workout from time to time.

Further down the hallway we find a doorway flanked by a pair of etched dog-headed humanoids. Wabmey and Tij look for a way to open the door and notice that the etched dog-people are actually robotic interfaces that can move along the walls. That’s cool. But they’re unresponsive so, yeah, not immediately helpful.

Wabmey accidentally discovers the way to open the door – stand in front of it. Door opens. Yeah. This is even worse than not trying the handle before picking the lock…

 

There’s earth-standard atmosphere on the other side and it doesn’t seem to be rushing out to meet us. Oh hey, we’ve been standing in atmosphere for a while – probably since the gravity kicked in.

In the room beyond there’s a gantry and then a metre of space before a massive sphere of electronics, which is happily humming away. Wabmey gets distracted by the blinking lights. Tij has a more serious look, but has little idea. There’s millions of data ports. Jacks with lights next to them. To clarfiy, the sphere is fucking massive. Like skyscraper massive. The whole space station is built around it. Many theories are floated about what it does. Giant telephone exchange. Evil AI mastermind. Christmas decoration.
There’s a section of the sphere where the lights aren’t on. Maybe that’s what whoever was here before did. Some of the group want to fix it. Some want to leave the whole sphere alone. Leena’s of the opinion that she doesn’t understand what this is for but it could be dangerous so we should probably kill it.

Lancel wanders around the gantry, away from the rest of us. She’s gone about 50m when a funny-looking mechonid materialises in front of her. As in one moment there’s just air there and then suddenly a mechonid fades-in. That’s an upgrade that’s going to cause us some trouble. We should probably steal one for ourselves. The general consensus is that it was a teleporter of some sort. I like the idea that it was highly advanced stealth tech.

The mechonid is odd for a couple of reasons. It’s ornate, pretty, and matches the decor of the station. It hasn’t immediately opened fire. It seems to be saying something to us, but none of us even remotely recognise the language. Truer to tradition, it does point its weapon – which looks like a bio-disintegrator rifle – at Lancel.

As we’re all standing paused failing-to-react to the situation, a second one materialises a few metres away from where Leena, Tij, and Wabmey are standing. It says something in a second unrecognisable language and points its rifle at the three of us.

Leena doesn’t hesitate, she leaps across the intervening space with her knife drawn and aims for a weak spot in its metallic shell.

Lancel puts her riot shield between her and the first mechonid. Tij activates and arms his drone and legs it to back Lancel up. Wabmey stands there saying he doesn’t speak whatever language they speak in as many languages as he can think of. For a Nephilim hybrid he’s doing a surprisingly good job at communicating. Which is to say that he has not yet insulted anyone’s mothers or started a thermonuclear exchange.

Leena’s attack strikes and does a decent amount of damage, but is mostly ineffective due to the armour. That’s going to be a problem. In response, the mechonid fires a shot over her shoulder, disintegrating the wall behind her. I guess we were wrong about them being bio-disintegrators. The mechonid could have trivially hit Leena with that shot. It was obviously intended as a warning shot. The one near Lancel says something more to her and gestures disapprovingly in Leena’s direction. Lancel shouts at Leena to stand down. Which she does, warily, her knife drawn but not directly threatening anyone. She’s running through plans to kill the mechonid since the knife seems ineffective. The best she’s got is dropping it off the gantry. Which’d probably require going over with it. Ah well, you don’t live forever.

The mechonids are looping through languages faster now. They eventually speak something that sounds vaguely like Corp. Lancel speaks actual Corp back to them.

At this point we break briefly to laugh about having a Legion as a face and a Kaltoran as a quick-to-attack warrior. It’s like Jayne and Kaylee switched bodies.

Communication with the mechonids is slow and cumbersome. But we get the impression that they consider us trespassers. And could the Kaltoran please stop being violent. We don’t want to hurt the children of the Archons. Or something like that. Also, apparently something’s broken and coming back. That seems to refer to the dark patch on the sphere. The mechonid near Lancel is called Alan. He also says the number 724, which we later realise is part of his (its?) name.

Lancel tries to convince Alan-724 that we’re the repair team. He’s not buying it. Not even a little. Leena decides to also chat up the one next to her. Its name is Chouko-934. Leena informs him that she’ll be calling him Chou.

Out-of-character we realise these guys are Palantors. Which are not mechonids at all. And are generally good and nice. Or, at least, as good and nice as Kaltorans, Legion, and the like. They didn’t even shoot us for trespassing. Even after I stabbed one of them. Yay we’re the bad guys… Go me!

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This is the canonical representation of the Palantor. In my head they were more gold & sandstone in colour and less sleek, more clockwork-y (source: Fragged Empire Protagonist Archive Kickstarter)

Alan and Chou are getting a bit pushier now and start to escort us out. Leena’s decided they’re not enemies or threats and maybe they could be helpful at researching the Box of Brains™. She starts chatting with Chou about it. Talking is *really* not her thing, but she pulls out a triple six on her roll… Apparently she can talk science. Chou explains something about ley energy, storage, unnatural things, and mentions the broken thing again. Leena hypothesises that the brains are being used as a storage for ley energy, but the language barrier is too great for her to be sure.

And then we all stop in our tracks as we realise that the broken thing Alan and Chou are referring to is the mechonids. And they’re coming back.

And then Alan and Chou turn to us and say it’s too late. The broken are back. Time to fight.

And the session ends there.

 

Leena likes Chou. She’d like to adopt him, like she did Cat last session. Though Chou has a tad more sentience / agency obviously. I guess you could say that she wants to be his friend. Except friendship’s not really a concept she gets. All she understands is that she does the hard, nasty, immoral things so that her tribe and those under her protection don’t have to. She’s not yet realising that that doesn’t work so cleanly in the wider world, away from the tunnels of her tribe’s territory. It’ll be interesting to see if she adapts or, more likely, if she either gets herself killed saving the team or goes further than the team can stand and gets shunned / enters the realm of unplayability.

 

Edit: Protagonist, antagonist. They’re all the same in the end. Cheers to Sparks Murphey for pointing out my error.

Edit: Dear Monkeys, there was a lot of typos, poor word choices, grammatical errors, and otherwise shoddy writing in this post. Many thanks to Sew Nerd for pointing out to me that it was below my usual standard.

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