Saturday, July 2, 2016

IW 7 - Big in Japan


The crew of the CAMEROON extracted two bait hunters and three baits from the clasp of engineered raptors. Anika spent a while on the operating table to rescue her left lung and arm. The crew is in jumpspace, heading back to Terra, and pondering how to capitalize on the knowledge of a raptor farm on Prometheus.

The farm was located deep into the hinterland, and allegedly ran by the local kingpin of Brethrow. There, wealthy hunter purchased convicts to act as bait to a roving pack of raptors. The goal of such hunt: save the baits (which is apparently very likely to fail).


Terra is the old familiar world for the reader, except that the year is 2170 and the planet is recovering from a massive orbital bombing where 12 cities were damaged with nuclear warheads. True to themselves, terrans are survivors and the planet is back on the economic rebound: a haven for free traders and mega-freighters alike.

Location: 100D Orbital space, Terra, Terra system
Terran timestamp: April 9-10th, 2170 AD

The staff room was alive with debate over the raptor questions. While Anika was recovering from her near-death encounter with the raptors, Aeryn busied herself with the research of all things dinosaurs. She advocated taking over production and exploit the raptors to the fullest. Most of the crew objected as it didn't jive with the license held over the CAMEROON for the next 16 months. Many also refused to engage in criminal activities are they were recently out of prison, or proudly never sent there in the first place.

Marion, recently a bait hunter turned bait, was interrogated from the recovery table in the infirmary. He did not know how his brother-in-law had made contact with the game master. All that he knew was that they had purchased a very expensive water purification system and donated it to an NGO called "Rising Sun Mission".

The CAMEROON was now close enough to synchronize with the live terran internet. Aeryn bypassed the usual MMA news and instead researched the NGO. She discovered that it was based in Tuskuba: a suburb of Tokyo. Probably not coincidentally, located in the same city as the Inagaki group from which there was a track record of raptor engineering publications.

Given that raptor products such as meat, skins and bones were legal but controlled, germ lines restricted and live animals banned, the crew decided to keep it straight and investigate the ability to import legal products into bigger markets such as Terra and Nusku. A list of five star restaurants along the Pacific Rim was brought up as a starting point.

Organic, dubiously fed, Promethean raptor coming to a supermarket near you.

Location: Highport GAIA, Terran low-orbit, Terra system
Terran timestamp: April 13th, 2170 AD

While the CAMEROON waited in queue for a berth, then contracted the freight handlers to empty its hold, Jane busied at building a 4-week forecast for raptor products.  She discovered a high demand, and virtually no supply as there is no commercial production anywhere near Terra and Nusku. The only live raptors are in small research facilities and unable to provide a commercial output. Potential buyers are lined up, all that is needed is a supplier.  The good news is that THEY have an inside lane to an illegal one a single jump away.

Further research into the NGO returned an interesting picture. It turns out that the "Rising Sun Mission" has provided an inordinate number of water purification systems to the community of Brethrow, Prometheus. Aeryn counted about 5 such donations in the last 12 months.  Jane, Anika and Aeryn decided to find more out about the NGO just by showing up to its headquarter in Tsukuba.

While the CAMEROON was performing an inclination correction, Diane spotted a highly valuable freight job for the 25th. She checked the terms: it was a highly restricted cargo shipped from a weapon manufacturer's facility and to be delivered to a construction site orbiting Prometheus IV, a frontier gas giant. As deputy for the UWO, they automatically qualified for the background check. The other terms was the presence of a security detail, no passengers, a ship sweep and secrecy. The competition for the job was fierce, but the crew got the gig for 626KCr. They planned for a full hold for the 25th.

Location: Tokyo Regional downport,  Terra system
Terran timestamp: April 14th, 2170 AD

According to Japanese laws, foreign starships are forbidden to enter atmospheric airspace unless on an authorized vector to the Tokyo Regional Downport (TRD). The crew landed and got hit by the predictable culture shock. Diane decided to go shopping for the next awesome thing while Jane, Aeryn and Anika bought bullet train tickets to Tsukuba.

The Rising Sun Mission HQ was no more than a hole in a wall in downtown Tsukuba. Its neighbours were importers and rental space for transient business. The receptionist was named Miho. She promptly instructed the three women to go away when they asked to talk to the NGO's director. She specified that there was no charitable donation heading for Prometheus, and that the NGO itself wasn't contracting freight directly in the first place: it relied on the logistics of benefactors. Jane dropped a 100Cr, and Miho revealed that the director's name was Mr. Toyo, and that he operated from a restaurant a few block away from this location. Aeryn found out that this restaurant was on her list of place where raptor meat had been eaten in the past.

They set out to talk to Toyo, in hope that this would lead to the administrative head of the raptor farm on Prometheus, and thus define the other end of the sale's pipeline.

Toyo and Miho, as well as the gun dealer contact are added to the Character Cast page.

Character Cast

  • Tom Anders: Retired Marine, gruff, good hearted. Now get off his cargo hold.
  • Diane Ayetou: born rich and far less qualified than given credit for. Gets an A for A-fort.
  • Jane Calhoun: Business-like business end of things. Reluctant pilot, appreciate spirits and solitude.
  • Anika Kaprescu: Recluse. Did some time, killjoy. The ship’s cat.
  • Aeryn Lorien: Stumbling steward, athlete and nurse. Gets the ribbon for caring the most.
  • Molly Pepper: Engineer and ship’s puppy. Her giggles are wasted on the crew.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Researching Raptors

Aeryn wants to learn more about raptors and their commercial applications.  The best time to search will be once that the CAMEROON comes out of jumpspace and synchronizes its data packet with Terra (Expert resolution@18). The cached version is only high resolution @14.


She is not versed in academic research (Research-9), but her Biology(garden worlds)-11 certainly can support. Furthermore, the ship's onboard AI can provide a +1 as well. This gives her a Research-11. She rolls a 5, a margin of success of +6: an unusual level of detail is revealed.

  • The raptors encountered are NOT real raptors, but hybrids of Terran ancient genes and Prometheus reptiles. Their size altered using gene editing to make them more prized game. Aeryn has a Bioengineering book on the topic, actually.
  • Raptor products are LC4 such as meat, skin and bones. Regulated usage on Terra and Prometheus.
  • Raptor germ material (eggs, clone cultures, genomes) is LC3. Restricted to research under strict ethical guidelines.
  • Live raptors are LC2. Banned under most jurisdictions. (Terra and Prometheus are CR4, but Brethrow seems to be a more relaxed CR3).
  • Aeryn has the contact information of 4 leading research groups in Terran universities on raptor engineering. 
    • Breton-Lewis group at the Museum of Natural History, London, Terra. 
    • Qi group at Xerces University, Mars.
    • Inagaki group, University of Tsukuba.
    • Shurmed group, Nusku Institute of Natural History.
  • Aeryn knows that there is a market for raptor products on Terra in Asian markets. She has a list of restaurants that allegedly serve such products. 
    • Mainly institution in mainland China, Japan and Vancouver, Canada.
  • Aeryn knows that Promethean authority would shutdown a raptor farm if they knew about it, and would prosecute if said farm was located on the main continent. 
    • One such farm was dismantled in the lowland near the north pole a few years ago.
  • Aeryn knows that raptor hunt and bait rescue hunts are very lucrative. Raptor hunting may be legal in Brethrow, but certainly not bait rescue hunts. A week probably bring in ~200K to the operators. 
  • Aeryn knows about another eminent scientist in Saurien behavioural sciences, and has a list of recent graduates from her group.
    • Prof. Dean Harrow-Smith, MNH (London), currently on sabbatical with the Qi group on Mars.

Friday, June 17, 2016

IW 6 - Human trafficking


The CAMEROON has rescued one of its client, and three "targets". They are now trying to find a way to maximize profit amid a legally and ethically dark grey area while remaining on the high ground.

The air is thick enough to make soup with it.


Prometheus is the oldest Terran colony. Brethrow is a distant developing nation where little laws are in effect. The air is thick, the temperature an uncomfortable 35C(95F). The topography is made of mountains covered by a dense jungles. The hunting ground is located 700km North of Brethrow. The environment is best described as somewhere between a mangrove and a jungle.

The insertion spot (purple), the creek (orange), the cave entrance and exit (blue).

Location: Hovering over the jungle canopy, mainworld, Prometheus system
Terran timestamp: May 1, 2170 AD

Marion's mangled body is hoisted on the sickbay's table as Aeryn, Molly and Flo are planning the surgery. While Tom jumps in the shower, Diane and Jane are most interested in the three "targets". One of the target, Porfirio, seems to be a man of higher stature. He explains that the hunters purchased 11 prisoners to act as raptor bait for a life-sized capture the "flags" adventure. He shares the location of the base camp, where the game master probably is.
The two other targets, who look more like tough cookies, reveal gladly that after Philip's death, they decided to use Marion as a bait to give a few of them a chance to escape. The plan went badly and only one of them had seemingly escaped.
Porfirio then reveals that the mayor/dictator in Brethrow, Hijo Stamellas,  had sold their lives against a large-scale water purification system. Porfirio offered a good sum to take his revenge on Stamellas.
The crew members were more interested in recovering Philip's body from the cave so that a claim on his life insurance be made. Anika and Tom decided to head back down shortly after Tom managed to put the 10mm Gauss railgun (dinosaur gun) together.

Location: Jungle floor, mainworld, Prometheus system
Terran timestamp: May 1, 2170 AD

Diane used the sensor array to identify movement under the canopy. She guessed that these were 2-3 raptors circling around the cave entrance. As Tom and Anika geared to descend in the air raft, she engaged with a sustained fire downward to burn the foliage to the ground. Amid the wood cracking in the steam and smouldering foliage, Tom struggled with the raft. They landed on the floor more or less blinded by steam, smoke and the impenetrable green of the jungle. With them, Rey, a psychopathic-looking target whom they equipped with the ship's shotgun.

Hey, Anika, you smell like lunch.
The advance in the foliage was slow and noisy. It got interrupted when they reached the pile of bodies and a raptor ambushed them out of the blue. Tom snapped a few 10mm shot and tore the raptor's left leg with the overpowered gun. The beast struggled, but soon the bodies of the three dead targets were on board. Anika, shaken from the ambush, trader her Gauss pistol for Tom's rifle. She had no intention to head down into the tunnel. Tom jumped in, shortly followed by Rey. 

Anika never saw the second ambusher until its fangs had penetrated her nanoweave suit and punctured her lung. In the struggle, the raptor nearly cleaned the flesh from her left arm's bone, severing the main artery and vein.

As her eyesight blurred by the fountain of blood, she could see Flo rapelling from above and the shots of Rey's shotgun felling the beast.

Location: Brethrow, mainworld, Prometheus system
Terran timestamp: May 1, 2170 AD

The medbot "Flo" saved the lungs but admitted defeat with the arm. Anika, an exceptionally strong woman, had survived the shock and the hemorrhage, but her arm was still more or less detached from her body. The CAMEROON flew to Brethrow after contacting a surgeon there. They rushed Anika to his practice. There, Aeryn, Flo and Molly spent the next three hours assisting the surgeon on a very difficult procedure to save Anika's arm.

In the ship, the guest became reckless. Porfirio demanded to be released so that he could get his men to bring him to a safe place. The two other targets showed no interest in returning to Brethrow where they were convicted criminals. After some tough negotiations,  Porfirio transferred 5KCr and waited for the night to exit the ship.

Anika returned late in the evening, stable but still in a critical conditions (-20HP). The CAMEROON left Prometheus and dropped the last two targets in a low-orbit transit station. As the ship sped to the 100D line for a return jump to Terra. They agreed with Marion that he would pay 25KCr for his safe return home. The crew wanted more, but the threat to turn him over for human trafficking rang hollow as they would have gotten no money out of following this option.

Location: Jumpspace, Terra-bound
Terran timestamp: May 2, 2170 AD

The crew decided to look into the business opportunity granted by the presence of farmed raptors on Prometheus. No one really knew how to capitalize this, but it smelled like a high-profit venture.  The all settled for the quiet drone of the jumpdrive for the next 7 days.

Character Cast

  • Tom Anders: Retired Marine, gruff, good hearted. Now get off his cargo hold.
  • Diane Ayetou: born rich and far less qualified than given credit for. Gets an A for A-fort.
  • Jane Calhoun: Business-like business end of things. Reluctant pilot, appreciate spirits and solitude.
  • Anika Kaprescu: Recluse. Did some time, killjoy. The ship’s cat.
  • Aeryn Lorien: Stumbling steward, athlete and nurse. Gets the ribbon for caring the most.
  • Molly Pepper: Engineer and ship’s puppy. Her giggles are wasted on the crew.

Friday, May 20, 2016

IW 5 - Blue Jungle


The crew of the CAMEROON has received a distress call of their clients. The call, extremely weak, is taking them deep in the hinterland of Brethrow, a backwater on Prometheus. The clients are shady hunters from Terra. They are short of weapons, and are suspecting that the extraction will be complicated by the presence of raptors.

The air is thick enough to make soup with it.


Prometheus is the oldest Terran colony. Brethrow is a distant developing nation where little laws are in effect. The air is thick, the temperature an uncomfortable 35C(95F). The topography is made of mountains covered by a dense jungles.

The insertion spot (purple), the creek (orange), the cave entrance and exit (blue).

Location: 400m of approximate extraction site, mainworld, Prometheus system
Terran timestamp: May 1, 2170 AD

The CAMEROON descends to 20m and release the air raft. On board of the raft, Tom and Anika. The only weapon on board is a 4mm gaussian pistol that Tom puts between his legs as he drives the craft over a creek heading up the slopes. On the CAMEROON, Diane pinpoints the signal from the transmission to a nook at the foot of the mountains. She passes the data to the raft and the CAMEROON begin sweeping the area. The free trader grates against the tree canopy to mask the approach of the raft. Jane has the dual 100MJ laser at the ready.

Location: some godless creek bed, mainworld, Prometheus system
Terran timestamp: May 1, 2170 AD

Anika clings to her dazzler laser flashlight. Tom is speeding over the creek bed in a scary display of driving prowess. Debris and leaves are rubbing against the craft and the visibility is down to nothing from her point of view. When the raft begins banking, Tom swerves to avoid crashing into trees. A 5m long raptor is now perched at the rear of the raft, and came out of nowhere. Anika has to throw herself off the raft to avoid a deadly bite to her torso. She lands heavily in the creek bed, but the nanoweave suit turns a deadly fall into a bad one. Her hands clings to her dazzler. As she wipes the wet hair from her face, she sees the raptor lose its footing and falls into the creek, some 20m upstream. 

Hey, Anika, you smell like lunch.

Tom has abandoned the wheel and takes a few shots at the raptor. One 4mm tungsten rod hits the beast hard enough to make it jerk out of sight. Anika is struggling in the heavy foliage on the bank. The scene calms down: only the cackle of the creek and the drone of the CAMEROON overhead remains. Anika climbs back on the raft, sore from the fall.

On the CAMEROON, Diane detect a heat signature as well as a weak electromagnetic signal. The location is piped on the raft’s computer with a precision of 1m. Tom hits the throttle until the creek becomes too narrow. The raft then starts to slalom in slow motion at 15m off the ground, sandwiched between the undergrowth and the canopy.

Location: Cave entrance, mainworld, Prometheus system
Terran timestamp: May 1, 2170 AD

The raft descends through the undergrowth and get a visual on the entrance of a man-made cave. A trail of smoke is coming out, and the smell of thermite lingers. Tom lands the rafts and head to the tiny hole, both weapons trained on the unknown. Anika trips, hangs upside down and panics. She thrashes and tries to climb back on the raft as Tom slips down into the cave.

Tom finds a tablet, but it is locked. He switches his flashlight to the LED. The tunnel is about 1.5m high by 0.6m. The air was sucked out by the burning of a thermite grenade. He finds the mangled body of Phillip, one of his client. He was somehow dragged by a small toothed creature that held him by the throat. The dirt nearby has turned to glass by the heat.

Anika takes a hold of herself and slips down into the tunnel. The smell of thermite is intense. She can see the glimmer of Tom’s light ahead, but keeps the dazzler mode on, just in case. The two meet a little past Phillip’s body, into a small antechamber. The room is filled with trash, some of the wrappers are Terran household brands "Mr. Noodles". The place was used recently. They head out by the other access tunnel.

Location: Cave exit, mainworld, Prometheus system
Terran timestamp: May 1, 2170 AD

The cave exits to another sealable trapdoor. The light is blinding as Tom peers outside. Nothing snatches his head, but a raptor could be a few meters away and he wouldn’t be able to tell. Three horribly mutilated bodies are lying on the ground next to him. The scene makes him woozy and he needs to catch his breath. Anika looses her cookies loudly back into the cave entrance. Amongst their anxious whimpering, the weak voice of a man hanging overhead. Tom recognizes Marion, the other hunter and client. He is swinging at the end of a rope, attached by his waist. His head is badly beaten.

Marion cues Tom of the impending charge of a raptor. Tom blinds the monster with his dazzler laser. The raptor runs into a tree and finds a way to get out of sight in the thick undergrowth. They can hear it scurry away. Maybe 150m to the North the CAMEROON has opened fire with the dual laser. In the thick and moist atmosphere, the laser makes noise analogous to thunder. Tree trunks explode in the intense heat of the beam. A number of raptors seems to be scattering away from the scene.

Anika locates a rope and climbs to meet Marion. He points at three terrorized men clinging to a tree 20m above. He refers to them as targets/flags. Tom makes the connections. He thinks back at the 3dT of unknown cargo that was in his hold before and figure out that the targets had been smuggled in a cryo state.

“Have you smuggled these men to hunt, asshole?”, Tom and Anika seem to be on the brink to execute Marion on the spot. Marion begs for mercy, but his voicebox has been smashed and nothing but gargles come out.

Location: Brethrow airspace, 1000m alt., mainworld, Prometheus system
Terran timestamp: May 1, 2170 AD

It turns out that the targets are Prometheans natives. They speak a hard to parse cajun. Tom finds on the damage dinosaur gun and make it his. Marion is hauled onboard and given to the care of Aeryn and Flo. If Marion survives, which he should, they’ll make him pay and then turn him over to law enforcement for his sins.

Character Cast

  • Tom Anders: Retired Marine, gruff, good hearted. Now get off his cargo hold.
  • Diane Ayetou: born rich and far less qualified than given credit for. Gets an A for A-fort.
  • Jane Calhoun: Business-like business end of things. Reluctant pilot, appreciate spirits and solitude.
  • Anika Kaprescu: Recluse. Did some time, killjoy. The ship’s cat.
  • Aeryn Lorien: Stumbling steward, athlete and nurse. Gets the ribbon for caring the most.
  • Molly Pepper: Engineer and ship’s puppy. Her giggles are wasted on the crew.

Friday, May 6, 2016

IW 4 - Hunters


While crossing the asteroid belt at 2000 miles per second, the TCIV CAMEROON was recruited by the UWO Interplanetary Police to engage a corsair. The engagement was brief, and left the ship with a hull breach through the habitat. Lucky for them, the UWO covered the repairs and medical bills of their passengers. The crew is now in Low-Earth-Orbit (LEO) while Molly tests the new Jump-2 drive and the UWO shipyard patch the old trader.


TSS Obama is a Class A space station largely employing UWO personnel. It is a hub of interplanetary travel, which leaves the drydocks for jump-capable ships slightly underutilised.

Location: TSS Obama, LEO, Terra system
Terran timestamp: April 15, 2170 AD

The CAMEROON entered a pressurized enclave for large scale repairs. The crew was offered to attempt to obtain a deputy license. The crew was enthusiastic as the insurance coming with the deal was rather attractive. Diane, officially dead to avoid prosecution by the Wheat Board and a messy divorce with her wife, made herself invisible as the UWO inspected the ship. Jane, Molly and Tom got certified while Aeryn failed her attempt at the medical officer placement. Anika and Diane took a pass on the events.

A holomail came in on the 27th from the belters that were saved by their intervention. It turned out that their 100MJ laser fused the corsair’s maneuver drive, breaching the hull. Most of the crew perished before rescue could arrive on the scene. The corsair ship was sold for scrap and the proceeds used to pay the insurance premium of the belter community. As a thank you, the belter recorded a folk song and had it sent to the CAMEROON as a thank-you gift. The crew was the hero of a community of about 20 souls. As if this day had not been good enough, the Sisters of Mercy transferred the passage of the two nuns. One of them suffered a stroke, but the other called from the hospital to thank the crew.

Brethrow: come for the client, stay for the drinks.

Location: TSS Obama, LEO, Terra system
Terran timestamp: April 18, 2170 AD

The CAMEROON loaded up nearly to capacity the holds with packaged good bound to Prometheus. They settled the hunters into the high passage cabins and went on their way. The pre-jump thrust was uneventful. For the first time of their contract, the CAMEROON jumped.


Prometheus is the oldest terran colony. With a jungle-like environment, some 850M terrans are living a colonial life mostly in high tech installations. The population is mostly of the Mormon faith in the centers. Gravity is 0.93G, temperature is around 30C-25C. Control rating is 3 and TL 10.

Location: Prometheus, 100D line, Prometheus system
Terran timestamp: April 25, 2170 AD

Philip was a dentist and Marion owned a 3D printing manufacturing business. They paid good money for the crew to insert them into a corrupt backwater on Prometheus named Brethrow. The terms: no paperwork filed to the highport and 3 dT of mystery cargo. Tom figured out that they were on some poaching kind of trip while Aeryn found them easy to keep happy as passenger. Tom noticed that they were preparing very high-caliber rifles for their trip. 

When the CAMEROON arrived, they made a beeline for Brethrow. The place was more or less an unregulated space. They landed on a Class E strip barely big enough for the Hero-class to land in the jungle. 

The hunters debarked, the crew stopped for a drink and soaked up the 35C, dense and moist atmosphere for an hour. They then departed for the UWO lowport to deliver their cargo and wait for the hunters for their call back home.

Location: Prometheus, Low-port, Prometheus system
Terran timestamp: May 1, 2170 AD

Six days went by at the lowport. Aeryn disappeared into the gym/MMA scene while Tom rounded up a few passages back to Terra. An ex-scout agreed to a medium passage and so did two needy and irritating pompous aristocrats. Diane managed to get the hulls full of jobs while Jane tried in vain to locate speculative cargo. 

The timing was rather good because a message came in, weak, from Marion. The message was garbled, video and audio failed. It fell back to text:

Philip is dead.
I’m trapped, we’re surrounded.

A set of coordinates then got uploaded. Diane rallied the crew into the bridge to await more details. Twenty-five minutes later, the CAMEROON came in LOS and scanned the coordinates. It was dense jungle, mist and 700km North from Brethrow. Diane found a pond some 400m to the east where the airraft could be inserted as the tree canopy around appeared to be some 60m high. By then, there was only 5 minutes to the entry window.

The crew decided to gear up for an extraction to recover Marion, the sherpas and the corpse of Philip the dentist. Someone pointed out that they never got around to purchase personal weapons other than the dazzlers lasers that Diane got in Douala. The exception was the carbine in the ship’s locker. In the interest of time, they voted against dropping by Brethrow to purchase better weapons.

The CAMEROON approached the coordinates. The 100m low precision became obvious when they realized how difficult the terrain turned out to be. More text streamed in:

()*(*ASDSDHLKSJDHSHAGU kslkjfs raptors sjkldkshlkjhflskjhd wd w9809udsjnl high-powered rifles kjsdjkhlakjdhfd9809adfpahdflandf asfkdj;f ;;;;

Tom and Anika suited up and boarded the air raft as the ship sliced through the jungle mist just before dawn...

Character Cast

  • Tom Anders: Retired Marine, gruff, good hearted. Now get off his cargo hold.
  • Diane Ayetou: born rich and far less qualified than given credit for. Gets an A for A-fort.
  • Jane Calhoun: Business-like business end of things. Reluctant pilot, appreciate spirits and solitude.
  • Anika Kaprescu: Recluse. Did some time, killjoy. The ship’s cat.
  • Aeryn Lorien: Stumbling steward, athlete and nurse. Gets the ribbon for caring the most.
  • Molly Pepper: Engineer and ship’s puppy. Her giggles are wasted on the crew.

Friday, April 8, 2016

IW 3 - Two thousand miles per second

The TCIV CAMEROON fitted a second hand Jump-2 drive that they purchased from a scrapyard on Callisto. They loaded up with freight jobs, two nuns and 6 dT of fragile pharmaceuticals on their way back to Terra. There, they expect to fill the CAMEROON up for a jump to Prometheus (Alpha Centauri).

Callisto is a Terran colony administered by a representative of the Saudi King, Abn Al-Baghdadi. It is a frozen world on the fringe of the solar system where few bother stopping.

Location: shahat-1, Callisto, Terra system
Terran timestamp: March 28, 2170 AD
The crew started to feel like Callisto was old hat by the 28th. There were two days left before the freight job was ready for pick-up. The entertainment buffet had gone bland. Tom befriended a veteran marine capable to cast a wide net over the Jupiter sub-system to recruit people. Aeryn got herself embroiled into a cash fight against a dependent of the Saudi King’s representative. She walked away bruised and with a limp. From the wayside, Tom had an inkling that a victory could have turned into a trouble magnet for the crew.

By the 30th, the nuns were on board as well as 7dT of freight and 720 KCr worth of pharmaceuticals that Jane scored from a shifty broker/bodybuilder. Escaping Jupiter from Callisto was a smooth burn. Destination: TSS Obama in medium Earth Orbit for a fit of the Jump-2 drive.

Location: Acceleration phase, Asteroid belt, Terra system
Terran timestamp: April 2, 2170 AD
The CAMEROON had settled in a simple routine by the 2nd as it reached its midpoint. UWO interplanetary command (UWO/IC) issued a privileged connection. UWO/IC determined that the CAMEROON was the only ship capable to intervene in an emergency situation in the belt. They offered an acting-deputy license if the ship was to engage a particular target prosecuted for piracy. The crew accepted.

The pirate ship was a small corsair navigating a busy asteroid area. The speed differential was 1967 mps (miles per second). Nothing could be done about this huge velocity vector on time for the intercept as it took two days of continuous push to achieve this velocity. Diane couldn't get a fix on the sensor array so Jane plotted in the blind and rather conservatively. The pirate ship appeared late and the intercept would be made at 15K miles. This would require timing. There was no sign of having been detected by the pirates when the light show began.

Diane spotted the ship 17 miles from a belter’s bubble. She passed the contact to Tom who began painting the target with the lead laser. A return lead laser hit them shortly as Jane began erratic vector maneuvers. Once surface spots on the target got to 500C, the dual 100MJ laser started to pulse. At the same time, forward sensors started to scream as the CAMEROON’s hull got breached and pressure in the habitat started to drop.

Standing by in sickbay, Aeryn was monitoring the external surface sensors. It became clear to her that the forward armor was melting away in two areas. Anticipating a breach, she put on her vaccsuit helmet and ran for the bridge. A blast of light came in and the air from the habitat blew the melting metal out. By then, Aeryn had barged into the bridge while Flo (the nursebot) had dashed for the rear. The structure screamed as the air howled through the pinhole made by the pirate’s laser. Diane and Jane had to gasp and reached for their helmet. On the floor, Diane missed the chance to get a readout on the damage cause to the pirate ship by their own fire. The crew stood stunned for a few second, hurling into space at 2000 mps in an uncontrolled drift.

“The nuns!”, exclaimed Aeryn as she remember hustling them to her bunk room just before the engagement. Tom and Aeryn secured their helmets and warned the other that they would be attempting a rescue in the decompressed habitat. As the hatch opened, the vacuum sucked them in and they found themselves in microgravity: tumbling in the lounge. They found the two nuns in Aeryn’s quarter. One of them had panicked and vomitted all over the 0G room and showed sign of severe ebullism. The other nun was breathing into her mask, curdled in the fetal position.

Sisters Maria and Angeline had better days before their unfateful decision to travel onboard of the CAMEROON.

Diane tunnelled into Flo’s video feed. Flo was on the other side. Molly has suited up and was getting ready to enter the habitat when the hatch-unlocking warning light started to flicker. The light went off for a second and the pressure stepped down. Aeryn and Tom got thrown back into the lounge, clasping tumbling nuns.

Flo aimed for the nun covered in vomit: her lungs had collapsed and her blood was a bubbly mess. Tom, Aeryn and Flo applied first aid to revive both of them while Molly returned to the habitat to assess the breach. By then, Jane was filling the intercom with chinese obscenity as she tried to restore the gravitic field in the breached area. About 30 minutes later, Molly abdicated and admitted damaging the hull patching kit beyond repair. An EVA to fix from the outside wasn’t advisable in the belt, so they decided to evacuate as much material from the habitat for the next three days.

Flo, the ship's nursebot
Location: TSS Obama, Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), Terra system
Terran timestamp: April 5, 2170 AD
UWO/IC processed the CAMEROON’s log and issued a SITREP 3 hours later. System arrays scanners suggested that the CAMEROON had either destroyed or disabled the pirate ship.  The CAMEROON built a makeshift sickbay and kept the nuns alive during the deceleration thrust that lasted about 3 days. When they docked to TSS Obama, they were granted immediate access and a medical team took the nuns away (without paying the CAMEROON). Because the damage had incurred under an acting-deputy license, the UWO/IC committed to have the ship’s hull fixed and placed on a queue.

Location: TSS Obama, Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), Terra system
Terran timestamp: April 9, 2170 AD
Molly took advantage of the top-notch UWO/IC equipment to install the Jump-2 drive and reported readiness. She bought a shuttle ticket and headed to British Columbia to visit her family on the surface.

Jane was drinking along in her cabin after botching the sales of the pharmaceuticals with a 15K loss. Live and learn, she concluded.

Location: TSS Obama, Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), Terra system
Terran timestamp: April 10, 2170 AD
Tom took upon himself to recruit passenger for a departure for Prometheus on the 16th (the projected date for the completion of the UWO/IC repairs). It does looks like filling the passenger room will be easy this time around. However, a pair of passengers drew his attention:

Philip was a portly dentist from New Jersey, accompanied by his brother-in-law Marion were looking for a pair of high passages to Prometheus. They were willing to pay 9KCr for it, but conditionally to 4 low passages for their porters, 3 dT of unknown cargo that they claimed to be hunting supplies, and the necessity to be dropped at a particular location in the wild without the knowledge of Prometheus’ ground command. They also expressed the interest to pay 15KCr for a similar pickup on short notice up to 5 days later, possibly with up to 6 dT of cargo.

Back at the ship, Jane and Anika opposed the job as it smelled bad and that they were only 6 weeks out of a Brazilian UWO prison. The rest of the crew, however, showed an overwhelming level of enthusiasm for the hunting dentists.  

Character Cast

  • ✦✦✦ Tom Anders: Retired Marine, gruff, good hearted. Now get off his cargo hold.
  • ✦✦✦ Diane Ayetou: born rich and far less qualified than given credit for. Gets an A for A-fort.
  • Jane Calhoun: Business-like business end of things. Reluctant pilot, appreciate spirits and solitude.
  • Anika Kaprescu: Recluse. Did some time, killjoy. The ship’s cat.
  • ✦✦ Aeryn Lorien: Stumbling steward, athlete and nurse. Gets the ribbon for caring the most.
  • Molly Pepper: Engineer and ship’s puppy. Her giggles are wasted on the crew.
  • Flo : Diane’s nursebot, dodger of decompressing habitats.

✦ : 1 vote are this session’s most awesome player.

Friday, March 25, 2016

IW 2 - King Saud's ice paradise

The licensees of Charter 22 are about to launch TCIV CAMEROON to Callisto. There, they expect to find a second hand Jump-2 drive to replace the old and tired one on board.

Shatah: Saudi colony on the fringes.
The Saudi royal family founded a colony on Callisto some 50 years ago. The colony’s main economic activity is intercept refueling for starship transiting through the Terran system without stopping at the main world. Callisto is a 100km-thick layer of ice (water and carbon dioxide) over a 10-20km deep subsurface ocean. Some 45K people, mainly arabic-speaker live there.   

Location: Terra, Escape trajectory, Terra system
Terran timestamp: March 11, 2170 AD
A stream of swears in Anglic, Chinese and Vilani float in space from the ship’s bridge as Jane realizes that she made a data entry error and cause the escape burn to be off course by 15 degrees. “Sorry folks”, she broadcast on the intercom, “our new ETA is now March 17th”. Two days will be lost using partial thrust to compensate or else the CAMEROON will become an Oort cloud artifact.

Location: Outbound thrust, 2.7 AU from the Sun, Terra system
Terran timestamp: March 14, 2170 AD
The ship smelled like disinfectant as if a platoon of neurotic crewmates went on a spring clean for the last two days. Tom looked upon the hold, rubbing the tip of his nose and dreaming of having a lift directly on board. He tried to know better Anika, but she showed little interest in interpersonal relations. Instead, she seemed single-minded on lifting the dirt on Rashid, their sole paying passenger, without success. Rashid, an underwear model for department store online catalog, was treated to tasty home-cooking by Aeryn. Aeryn, assuming the role of the steward, mainly improvised from what she knew about the job from sitcoms.

Diane was something else: she built personnel files and asked for everyone’s mugshot. Aeryn provided her medical assessments for everyone as it seemed to make sense. Molly, when she was not fretting about the maneuver drive and predicting its impending failure, was trying to make friends. She initiated games of cards, engaged unwilling others into light talks. Jane’s cabin was filled with three cases of assorted liquor. When she wasn’t working, she keept to herself, a tumbler in hand.

While the ship was tearing at peak speed, the asteroid belt required regular course adjustments. There seemed to be many unmapped objects still in this corner of the belt. In a day or so, the CAMEROON should be back into clear space.

Location: Shatah-2, Callisto, Terra system
Terran timestamp: March 17, 2170 AD
The underground Rouhabiah scrapyard was a dreary and dank place. An old man was shouting at two teens as unsecured material was gently tumbling in the 0.4G environment. Jane tried to look suave, but bounced too hard and would have impaled herself on a titanium rod had her nanoweave undergarment not been worn. Mammoud Rouhabiah was a pleasant man with a thickly accented Anglic.  Molly ran a few diagnostic tests on the crated jumpdrive and gave the thumb up. Mammoud eyes flicked on into haggling mode. He first refused to converse in Anglic anymore, forcing Jane to be the sole interlocutor. Jane and Diane played off each other, coordinating in Vilani when needed. Many times, Mammoud threatened to kick them out of his office, but it became clear that the old man was better at making small talk than playing hardball. The crew traded a defective drive and 750KCr for a better one. Given the 1MCr capital funds for this from Douala LLC, a lot of money ended up in their pockets out of this tangled mess of arabic shouts.

Location: Shatah-1, Callisto, Terra system
Terran timestamp: March 17, 2170 AD
After delivering the aluminium cargo and cashing in the pay, Tom, Anika and Aeryn took the mag elevator through 85km of ice to Shatah-1. Temperature and moisture control down here was much better. The place felt like a small town/diffuse space station. Signage was mainly in arabic and the crew clearly stood out. Aeryn lead them to a MMA gym to meet Hassan: an acquaintance. It was clear to Anika that the place was a front for some other, shadier business.

Hassan was friendly and helpful. He suggested a good hostel and advised to stay out of the way of law enforcement officers as much as possible. The place was loosely run by a Saudi King delegate named Abn Al-Bagdadhi.  Up there, Molly had damaged the jumpdrive brackets and informed the crew that the new refit estimate was 8 days.

Anika went for a walk and found two christian Nuns desperately looking for passage back to Terra. She roped them in right away and got Diane to draft the contracts. Anika poked people at the gym, looking for trade lots, and eventually got in touch with a shady russian bodybuilder bemoaing that he couldn’t move a 30 dT of military-grade polymer pellets. Aeryn passed along the opportunity to others, but the restriction that it may only be sold to UWO approved armed forces was a deterrent. They decided to take a pass.

Aeryn and Tom decided to take a room down on Shatah-1 for the next week or so while Chipper-Molly was fitting the new jumpdrive onboard. Anika opted for the quietness of her cabin back up the shaft. She scrounged for a handgun but got frustrated by uncommon they happen to be. Her only lead was to attempt to buy one from a dirty cop: and she also decided to take a pass.

Location: Shatah-1, Callisto, Terra system
Terran timestamp: March 28, 2170 AD
While the jumpdrive was finally secured onboard on the 25th, Diane decided to hang-on until the 30th to catch another freight job to subsidize the thrust back to Terra. They decided to wire the jumpdrive back on Terra so Molly spent 5 days embarrassing herself in various entertainment establishments. Diane decided to have some "me-time" and shopping therapy, Jane kept on looking for speculative lots while Tom and Aeryn planned to make the most out of the gym, maybe organizing a for-money fight on the 29th.

Character Cast

  • Tom Anders: Retired Marine, gruff, good hearted. Now get off his cargo hold.
  • Diane Ayetou: born rich and far less qualified than given credit for. Gets an A for A-fort.
  • Jane Calhoun: Business-like business end of things. Reluctant pilot, appreciate spirits and solitude.
  • Anika Kaprescu: Recluse. Did some time, killjoy. The ship’s cat.
  • Aeryn Lorien: Stumbling steward, athlete and nurse. Gets the ribbon for caring the most.
  • Molly Pepper: Engineer and ship’s puppy. Her giggles are wasted on the crew.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

What I changed as a GM in the last few campaigns

I deliberately the first person in this post because this is what I do, but I don't imply that these are beads of universal wisdom. I posted this on a G+ thread earlier, but I meant to leave it somewhere that archives better than social media.

I don't try to keep PCs in a party. It is OK to let them explore parallel lines and coalesce whenever. This requires people happy to participate in the discussion event when their PCs isn't in the scene. Players also may take over antagonist for the duration of a scene and often turn out to be way nastier than if NPC'ed. 

I use the FATE-like aspect approach. I make simple statements that players chose to deal with or not. Not dealt with aspect are guaranteed to be biting back at the right time. I dropped hints in my session report as to what was in before and after the session and you can see how the PCs dealt with them. Through their actions, I generate new aspects. This allows multi-step solution to complex problem, and give characters a lot of room to breath as far as story arc goes. 

I use mainly the influence check as a mechanics to resolve conflict. I keep physical combat down to a few key event that have a critical impact on the campaign. When there is a combat, ask yourself what makes this situation unique and will challenge your player's GURPS mastery the most. 

Players aren't PCs, I allow influence check against PCs and when they lose, the character has to act accordingly. This makes it easier for players to make sub-optimal choice without looking like dorks. 

I think of characters as temporary threads into a bigger braid: they can come and go. There is more chance for them to be knocked out of the story than simply being killed. My players actually like to be able to jump into new characters to be closer to the main arc until the tide turn. 

I am not a big fan of character point inflation. I'm cheap with them, but will allow to shift limited points (FATE-inspired move here), and won't shy away from granting expensive advantages (patrons, contacts, ads) wherever the players worked hard to get there.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Gravitic Tech and Society


When your sister hacks into the house's firmware.
Let's assume that it is possible to distort the space time continuum over short distances in between two parallel planes. The power output needed must match the total energy (potential and kinetic) of all mass interacting with the field. The force generated inside the field is counteracted by a force of equal magnitude attempting to collapse the field itself. A gravitic unit is thus made of a sandwich of a non-conductive hyperdense material that resists compression in between two layers of powered gravitic field substrate. The hyperdense mass can be tethered to an outside structure, thus providing a net acceleration in ways that offends many fundamental laws of thermodynamics (but is so convenient in a Traveller game). Osmium is commonly used in gravitic unit. We assume that power from fusion plants is nearly infinite.

Efficiency is better at higher area to thickness ratio, hence the benefit to stack many units along an axis. Artificial gravity for living space is another obvious application so as to partially cancel both microgravity and the crushing effects of 1G+ acceleration through space. Ships save energy by powering the fields inside its living space only when needed.

Obvious applications: Build a stack and tether the inner masses it to a superstructure to add kinetic energy to the system.

Simulating gravity (either to enhance or cancel) is done by placing the substrate above and under an open space. It is inefficient as the area to thickness ratio cannot be large (unlike in gravitic units).

Obvious applications: Within the confines of a defined volume, either cancel acceleration due to a thruster, or generate an artificial gravitational field.

Specifications of a Gravitic Unit

Osmium is about 3 times the density of steel, 8 times that of titanium and about 25 times more dense than TL10 plastics. Fields of up to 6G can be generated without damaging the unit, meaning that a mass ratio of 18, 48 and 125 are required to induce 1G respectively to superstructures of steel, titanium and plastics. 

Applications of the technology in a TL10 society

Let's brainstorm to identify how such superscience would be applied and change society.  


  • Sky cranes: Tricky high structures may be constructed in prohibitive terrains. 
  • Floating/unstable structures: Lighter structure may support much larger buildings.
    • These assume a failsafe source of power: A bad assumption.
    • Very tall structures.


  • Untethered lifts: Simple up/down conveyance.
    • Sky elevators in principle, if a shaft can be constructed.
    • Stairs are no longer necessary in reliably powered buildings.


  • Low ground pressure vehicles: Make all-terrain travel more practical.
  • Grav vehicles: Low-speed, non aerodynamic transportations unconstrained by road systems. 
    • Need for a routing system in high-traffic areas. 
    • Water features and topography is beside the point.
    • Vehicles may park high into structures instead of only to the ground. 
    • TL10 society is physically segregated from lower TL ones.


  • Microgravity beds: Can stand up, taking on less space. Ease blood pressure, water retention. 
  • Personal movers: Disabled people can now access everywhere using grav movers. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

IW1 - Advertising faux-pas

We had a very brief session. But we are sorting out how we want to play this game.

Douala’s Tramp freighter market, March 10th 2170AD 

The meeting with Pierrot ended by early afternoon. The contract for charter 22 was signed, but the CAMEROON was still in low-earth orbit at TSS Merkel. Molly, Aeryn and Anika bought a shuttle ticket and caught the burn upward just as the gate was closing. Some two hours later, they keyed in the passcode and entered the tramp freighter. Molly ran a few diagnostic, Aeryn . Aeryn checked life support then the kitchen. Anika looked in vain in the ship’s locker for armament, then established contact with orbital control to obtain the permission for a reentry to Douala regional spaceport. The last crew were smokers and the ship felt filthy. With minimal system’s running, Molly made the first of many burn and plunged into Terra’s atmosphere.

Diane and Jane installed their copies of the best trading assistant that money could buy on their shiny new tablets. Their next stop would be Callisto: in most way a backwater in the Terra system. The soundness of this next move resided in the availability of a second hand Jump-2 drive for them to acquire. While Jane started a search for speculative cargo, Diane engaged with the tramp freight bidding process. It was a slow day, with a small 17 dT shipment of paletted aluminum trusses. No less than three other tramp freighters were interested in going to Callisto on that day. Diane had to go as low as 10.3 KCr to get the contract. Nothing else was coming in the pipe for now. She shook her head in disbelief and went across town to pick up a nursebot that she scored from the surplus of an NGO.

Douala in the mid-day sun. Circa 2170AD.

Tom headed for the bar to score the place for passengers. There was a lot of people, but most were waiting for their chartered liner. A single man was desperately looking for a passage. His name was Rashid Meer, a department store catalog model trying to head back home in a pinch. Tom signed him up and sent him to Jane to sign the contract and close the deal. Jane got the deal signed and probed him for information on what would sell well on Callisto. He smiled blankly and replied that the most valuable thing on Callisto would be soon be a pair of underwear with himself in them.

Diane, concerned about running the Cameroon at a loss, dictated a snappy advertisement for passages of all kinds. Unfortunately, she figured out only much later that instead of sounding funny, the ad had a threatening tone. Shockingly, no one followed up on the disturbing offer.

Tom was eating a packaged sandwich in the heat of midday as Molly was testing the interior grav fields. The plan was to get going to Callisto, procure the Jump-2 drive and outfit the CAMEROON with it. This will cost the ship about 3-4 weeks of valuable time. Hopefully, Jane can score something worth selling on the remote ice cube. At the ship's console, a couple of people inquire about a shipment of ATVs that she has put a feeler for. Chatting with people 33 light-minutes away can be annoying. Diane wants to go and Tom groans at the thought of unloading all that aluminum crap to make place for second-hand 4-wheelers.