Session IV: Stars in my pocket like grains of sand
This is the campaign diary for the fourth session of my Warp Shell-campaign Stars in my pocket like grains of sand . If you want to meet the crew, head over here: MEET THE CREW.
The campaign diary will be part text and part pictures (one of my players also draws a comic from the perspective of her player as part of her notes. When I have permission to share it with you, I will. It’s really cool!).
Into the Wild
The Geno prisoners they saved have tokens now. That helps me not forgetting about them. They also have personalities and names now. Arion, a geno man is an insurance broker, his wife Maria comes from money, because her father is a high-ranking politician and industrial magnate. Nela is Arions sister and a bit of a casual hand with big dreams about piloting her own starship one day. Eliott really takes to her.
After talking with the three genos, she takes a look at the tetraeder and scans it, inspects it and touches it. As her hand touches the inverted pyramid, her eyes gloss over and she hears the thumping of boots on cold slick stone floors. She sees a corridor, dimly lit, her focus shifts to the side and she realises there’s bars everywhere. She is in a prison. There’s a person tied to a chair, his prison cell dimly lit by a flickering halogen lamp. His hair is wet, there’s dried blood on the side of his face. The boots come closer, the open the doors, the surround the person. A voice says: “Where is she, Galosh? You were her teacher. Were is she?” And a fist smacks into the face of the person. It’s Eliott’s space engineering teacher Galosh. The people surrounding him wear a little pin that says SCAD (Soul Core Anatomy Development). Galosh raises his head to look at the cloaked figures, spits out blood and grins.
Eliott lifts her hand calmly from the alien artifact and looks at her scanner, breathing deeply.
Greg has taken a little swim in the pond and comes back refreshed. He sits down at the campfire and tries to work on a bolas and fails his first attempt (I have made-up a little and very easy to implement crafting mini-game, which I will talk about below).
After Gilbert ate his meat-mushroom-skewers he is also very interested in the deep black tetraeder and inspects it. The moment his hands touch the obsidian-like stone there’s a quick blink in his eye, only a milisecond for anyone watching. He sees his friend and mentor Rhaoul on his asteroid farm. Rhaoul stands in the doorway, his back to Gilbert. A big looming arthropod shadow lurks in the background. Rhaoul turns, his eyes glistening blue flames and says: “Gilbert, help me!”
Gilbert feels the wind on his face, chirping in the background, the grass beneath his feet and his hand touching the cold black stone of the tetraeder.
A glimpse further into the Wild
While all this transpires the Xenomorph is off to hunt but cannot shake off the scent of cooked meat and mushrooms and does not find any prey. It decides to go deeper into the forest. And then it hears voices.
The forest is thinning and it can see a group of reptoids. Accompanying the reptoids is another different looking reptoid, in clerical clothing, some kind of priest, carrying a staff with the same skull that adorns the ritual daggers: a skull with chains coming out of his sockets. The reptoids growl and grovel: “Give us the ALB, give it! We need it! Please!” The priest grins and replies: “Now, now. There’s a proper way to ask for it. Kneel!”
The reptoids throw themselves to the ground and burrow their face in the dirt, repeating their lament: “Give us the ALB! Please! We need it! We cannot… we must… have it!”
The xenomorph looks to the left and sees a small hill. On top the hill lies a giant kidney-shaped cocoon. A reptoid walks around the cocoon, inspecting it, touching it. Then everything happens very fast. A giant spider bearing a crystalline body appears and lets out a piercing scream. The priest throws three little vials into the dirt and vanishes into mist. The reptoids grab the vials as if their live depended on it. The reptoid beside the cocoon cannot react quickly enough and gets impaled on one of the razor-sharp spider legs, moved through the air and thrown onto the ground.
The Xenomorph muttering under its breath “I am going to eat this spider.” retreats and meets Nekure. The two of them return to the rest of the group and after a confrontation with Axis who argues for teamwork, the xenomorph explains what it has seen. The group therefore decides to cautiously move forward.
Further into the Wild
The group arrives at the clearing and surveys the area. They see the massive kidney-shaped cocoon on the left hill, some smaller cocoons on the ground a few metres away and a reptoid, lying on the ground. Greg moves up to the reptoid and sees that he’s dying. His torso is torn up and he’s drawing heavy breaths. In his right hand there’s a little vial with white liquid. Greg wants to coup de grace him and take the vial so I have him roll a CHA-check (killing a defenceless humanoid creature is not to be taking lightly; I was inspired by Forbidden Lands, where players have to fail an Empathy-check to coup de grace someone. My version is inverted, so a successful CHA check is needed for a coup de grace). Greg’s player was rolling bad the whole evening so he was a bit frustrated and didn’t know why he had to roll for that. He failed and the reptoid died before he could do anything. He took the vial and put it away.
While the rest of the group was trying to be quiet and not attract too much attention, the Xenomorph approaches the cocoon from the south. Gilbert makes his way to the hill facing the cocoon. Axis and his servant Nekure approach the cocoon from the north. Greg ever over-ambitious walks towards the cocoon and uses his jump pack to land right in front of it. A faint purple glow emanates from the cocoon. He gets out his blow torch and wants to burn the outer layer away. Axis interrupts him though and Eliott, Greg, Nekure and Axis have a closer look at the egg sack, scanning it first. The xenomorph moves further up the hill.
They find no signs of life, but a very high energy reading and the word YOG on their scanner’s display. Yog, as Axis and Eliott inform the rest, is a very rare mineral used for powering warp space travel. In its crystalline form it is highly explosive when heated up, so Nekure decides to cut the cocoon away with his karambit blades. Greg harvests three crystals from the the little cluster that has formed here. Eliott suddenly feeling very uneasy urges everbody to get going. Axis takes a last look at the crystal cluster and the ground surrounding it and finds a lever. Greg pulls the lever. Gilbert, who has been lounging on a big rock, looking into the sky, day-dreaming, feels the ground open up beneath him. He falls two metres and finds himself in a tunnel. Lights, as activated by a motion sensor, illuminate the grey corridor that stretches into the distance.
Gather around the campfire, weary readers, have some bullgort jerky and take this coin from a far away land to replenish your stamina. My VTT-setup stays the same, the assets are by Runehammer Games, 2-Minute-Tabletop and a mapping pack someone shared on Reddit.
Now for the crafting mini-game: crafting something takes three ATTEMPTS, the number of successful ATTEMPTS defines the quality of the crafted good. When someone wants to craft an item I simply draw three bubbles and write three quality levels, e.g.:
Crafting Bolas O O O
1 success: Enemies can dodge bolas with EASY DEX check
2 successes: -
3 successes: as 2 successes, +1 WEAPON
Every time a crafting check is made either fill in (success) or cross out (failure) one bubble. Repeat three times, count successes and determine the quality of the thing. No successes means crafting was unsuccessful and the material is wasted.