Diaspora – Angels and Omens Campaign, Sessions 1 & 2

I finally have some time to sit down and write out the first chapter of our game. I’m really late getting all this up, but we are about to start a new chapter, so this is a good chance to sum up where we have been so far. So, sorry this is so long.

Chapter 1: Guardians of Kerchak

We began with Captain Fitzhugh and Beryl on their trade ship, on the next to last leg of an all to familiar trade route. There was some crew on the ship, but there wasn’t much chance to get to know them. As soon as the ship pulled into the Totes system, they discovered that Julia was the new customs officer there. She started hassling her old nemesis Captain Fitzhugh, and only agreed to let them dock if they could prove their official status, claiming that their codes were out of date. Once docked, the engineer put the ship in for some minor repairs, Beryl went shopping, and the Captain went to straighten out Julia.

Not only did Fitzhugh prove that he had up to date codes for docking and trade through the Totes system, when the officer in charge of their mission got in touch with them, he put Julia in her place in no uncertain terms, and decided she needed to join them for their mission to Kerchak. Julia was miffed, but reluctantly obeyed.

Meanwhile, Beryl realized she was being followed. She let the Captain know. The Captain and Julia made contact with a very nervous agent who let them know that they would have to leave quickly, and let them know where their temporary ship would be waiting for them. Beryl lost her tails, and met up with the Captain near the temporary ship’s dock. Julia went to pack her things quickly. Beryl and the Captain noticed the ship was being watched by two others, much like those who had been following Beryl.

As a GM I expected them to confront the watchers. I did NOT expect them to sneak up behind them, and kill them instantly. Ah well. They quickly carried the bodies onto the ship, the nervous agent bolted away once they were on, and Julia joined them soon after, wondering what had happened. A quick search of the bodies revealed nothing, no insignia or odd signs. The bodies were dumped into space before the ship left the system, heading for Kerchak.


The situation on Kerchak was volatile, as usual. But they had a particularly touchy mission this time. A tribe they had formerly had little contact with, was willing to trade something unique to them, in exchange for rather precious resources from Xantium. The team had been given a special container to keep the goods in for transport, and Julia had received the resources they would be paying with while on the station.

The team landed, and cautiously came out of the ship, to find six gorillas, four armed and two looking very official, waiting for them. Julia went forward to conduct the trade. But it turned out to be an ambush. One of the armed gorillas turned on the silverback who was conducting the trade, and fired, while another set off an explosion under the ship.

The team managed to get under cover mostly, but the silverback was wounded. The two rebellious guards were gunned down by the team and other gorillas, and the whole troupe headed for the cover of nearby mountain jungle, hoping to reach a neighboring tribe for medical help, as the silverback would not make it back to his own people in time.

The Captain, Julia and Beryl hid the special container in a cave in the mountains, and headed down into the lands of Mack Blackback, an old friend of the Captain’s. Once news of their arrival spread, both Mack and James (the spy chimp) arrived. The silverback was given medical help, but getting help for the team was a bit harder.

Finally, in exchange for some superior surveillance equipment, James agreed to show the team where the closest Xantian communication tower was. Another trek through the jungle followed. They reached the communication tower just as a rival gorilla tribe did, and were caught in the crossfire. They managed to squeak through that, with some help from James who called in a group of his own secret service chimps (or something like that). They made contact with a Xantian ship and arranged for a pickup.


 

On their way to the pick up site, they noticed that the gorilla settlement that had helped them was now in ruins. And they found one non-ape body there, significantly like the men that had been following them on the station. Worried now, they went to retrieve the special container, only to find it completely missing.

It appeared that the container had been taking further into the cave, not out and into the jungle, so the crew descended to try and find it. The cave was marked with ancient writing, mostly warning about Omens and the end of the world. The crew recorded what they found, but kept going.

The first large chamber they reached was being guarded by Kerchak’s human population, mostly like Neanderthal cave men. They set off some sort of alarm before running away from the party as fast as they could. Undeterred, the party did what they could to turn off the warning, and continued down into the caves.

They discovered a large underground lake, as well as another of those strange humans that had followed them at the station, and who had appeared dead at the ruined village. When they began talking to it, however, it was clear that it was full of preprogrammed responses, and only partly understood what they were asking it. It identified itself as a Guardian, and asked them if they knew the proper order. Now the group was very confused. After some more questioning, they gathered that the Guardians were there to protect the special substance, something that caused “enlightenment”, from any who could not prove that they knew the “proper order”. The proper order could be found in the “life” of the inhabitants of Kerchak, shown to be their DNA.

So off our intrepid party went, determined to figure out the proper order, though they did search other parts of the cave on the way out, and found some interesting weapons of a technology level none of them had ever seen before.


They met up with their ship, but before they could really plan much, another warning broke out in Mack’s tribe’s territory. They went down to find an interesting situation.

There was a spring, surrounded by an outcropping of rock. There were several kinds of apes, chimps, etc. trying to get to the spring. But something was shooting at them from the rocks to keep them away. Mack climbed the rocks to find a Guardian, mind controlling two of the cave men, who were shooting at anyone coming near the spring. It seemed also that the Guardian was scanning the water with a strange device. Mack grabbed the Guardian and flipped him off the cliff, which scared the cave men so much they dropped their weapons and ran. Mack took the chance to snag himself a new gun, and then climbed back down . . . AFTER drinking the water!

The rest of the party questioned the somewhat damaged Guardian (who now had some parts of bioelectric circuitry showing), and it seemed that some of the stuff that causes enlightenment had leaked into the water, and they were attempting to control it. Once they get the water, and some DNA samples from the other natives of Kerchak who happened to be around, they head back to the ship.

While they are analyzing the water they learn that Mack has been affected by the nanites in the water, and has become suddenly leaps more intelligent and able to process volumes of more information than the others. Not really knowing that such technology was possible, Mack affectionately deems them Bananites. Armed with the knowledge that the substance they are after is neuron enhancing Bananites, as well as the code held within the DNA of the peoples of Kerchak, the crew heads back down into the caves to talk with the Guardians.


The Guardians release the container of nanites to them, as well as the knowledge that the code they have turns them on and off. They very carefully contain them, and also learn that apparently, all the systems have been seeded with nanites, all from the source, the system no one has had contact with ever. Xantium has sent explorers to Fel, but nothing has ever returned. The nanites were spread out in hopes that someday they would be able to heal the source.

So the party decided not to inform Xantium of their discoveries, to return to the Totes system and get a less traceable ship, and explore the Totes system for the next step in the puzzle.

 

So, hopefully that story made sense. I know I didn’t get into the mechanics of how all this happened. So far this story has been a blast, and we are all having a great time playing.

 

Diaspora – Angels and Omens Campaign, Setup

It took some doing, and finagling, and even a bit of bribery, but I finally managed to get a gaming group together to begin a game of Diaspora. We had tried gaming together before, and had really enjoyed setting up the game. However, not one of us had run a FATE game before, so the game play itself was not quite right, and we had problems trying to introduce new characters into the game later on, which derailed the game.

I have loved, truly loved and enjoyed, every FATE game’s setup phase. Diaspora just multiplies the fun astronomically. Literally. The first thing you and your group will do when starting your Diaspora campaign, is create the galaxy in which you will set your game. Each player rolls their FATE dice, generating three statistics for their system that define the technology, environment, and resources of that system. Then together you construct a story of why the system has those statistics, and how they relate to other systems in the galaxy. You also roll dice to determine which systems are connected by the slipstreams, the way ships are able to travel between systems. Our galaxy ended up looking like this:

DiasporaSystemMap

This time, as opposed to our last play where we had two or three systems capable of slipstream travel, we had only one, Xantium. The others were either fairly insular, or as hard pressed for resources as Xantium. We each started coming up with ideas for characters, and ended up focusing on the following three systems. For now at least.


Xantium:  T 2, E 0, R -2, Slipstream Use, Garden World, Needs Imports

Aspects: Masters of our Destiny, Keep calm and carry on, Negotiators

Xantium is the ruler of trade and travel in this galaxy. Not overtly militarized, thats done more quietly, but dedicated outwardly to diplomacy and mutually beneficial trade agreements. They have a long trade route involving four other systems (Opaline, Mandal, Totes, and Kerchak). With most they have typical trade agreements. On Kerchak (see below) things are a little different. Two characters, Captain Fitzhugh and Julia Fairchild, hail from Xantium.


Opaline: T 1, E -1, R 0, Exploiting, Survivable World, Sustainable

Aspects: We’re getting restless, Oooh, how much is this shiny thing over here?, Let’s make a deal

Opaline is kind of the shiny new idealists of the galaxy, always looking for the next thrill. They jumped at the offers from Xantium to ride along as traders, and tend to purchase manufactured goods from Xantium, just to have the latest and greatest new toy. The pilot of our group (Beryl) hails from Opaline.


Kerchak: T -1, E -1, R 0, Atomic, Survivable World, Sustainable

Aspects: Where did we go wrong?, Getting a little tight, Survival of the Fittest

At first I thought this one was going to end up a bit silly for my tastes. The players working on Kerchak made it an Ape dominated planet, as in, the main intelligent species are all more like apes, or chimps, or other monkeys, than they are like humans. They have a bit of a chip on their shoulder, and rightly so, as the other races tend to look down on them as less evolved. They have a complex social structure composed of many tribes which may or may not be getting along on any given day. Xantium has taken advantage of this as much as possible, sending ground teams down to trade with one tribe or another. Two players, James Khaaang and Mack Blackback are from Kerchak.


I won’t go into great detail on our characters here. I think we are still getting a feel for them, since we have only actually played through one session. But here is a quick summary:

Captain Fitzhugh – The captain on a Xantian ship isn’t really in charge of the ship. He is an agent of the government, appointed to the ship, to make sure all transactions have the official approval of the Xantian government. On board ship he is subject to the Merchant, but on ground teams he is in charge, especially on Kerchak missions. Fitzhugh is our natural leader, who had a bit of a run in and was defamed by Julia, and impressed Mack during a mission to Kerchak. He is well respected, if a bit rough around the edges.

Julia Fairchild – An excellent diplomat, on paper. She was top of her class, but was offended by being forced to work on Kerchak rather than the post she feels is her destiny, hence the defaming of Captain Fitzhugh who was her commander through that mission. She is especially dangerous when dealing with the religions of other cultures, and shattered some of the myths that Beryl had based her life on. She’s still taking her destiny in her own hands, and upset with the Xantian government for getting in the way of her career.

Beryl – An excitable pilot who loves to shop. She’s eager to sea the galaxy, but tends to step on toes, as her upbringing was not exactly multi-cultural. She had a snafu with James, where she offered to buy him as a pet. Her whole world was shaken up after her run in with Julia, so she is actively looking for the truth in all the situations around her, even if she continues to get things wrong. She’s also good in a fight, and is very loyal to Captain Fitzhugh.

James Khaaaang – Spy chimp. I can’t help it, I really enjoy that phrase. James is sneaky, intelligent, and keeping his eyes on everything. He keeps secrets well, and is an excellent assassin, sent into other tribes on precise missions. After his run-in with Beryl he is leery of off worlders, and though he will take what he can get from them, will never really trust them. He has a small contingent of stealthy chimps that can come to the rescue when needed.

Mack Blackback – A young gorilla, charged with the protection of James after their joint incident with Beryl. It’s more of a punishment than an honor, but since Mack is a dutiful guy, he is obeying the rules. He live strictly by the ‘survival of the fittest’ rule of his world, secure in his place as the top of the order on the planet. The ape world has a slightly higher gravity than other other planets, and so in addition to his already impressive stamina, his numbers count for a little more than the off worlder stats. He is impressed with Captain Fitzhugh’s sense of honor, and is a little less leery of the hairless ones than James.


 

So that was the setup session for our new Diaspora game. Hopefully soon, I will get up the report of our first session. It was a good time, and I hope I can keep things moving in a fun and interesting manner.