In a rare occurrence, my group got together to play within a month of the previous session. Somehow scheduling a game between 6 adults (with no children even) is never as regular as we would hope.
We picked up where last session ended (well after we had a reading of the notes from the previous session and chatted and had food and drink and answered a few questions)… a regular beeping noise was coming from up the stairs nearby. The party headed up to the deck above… the bridge. Amongst a number of control panels and screens they found a ladder headed down at the front the bridge, two doors headed after on either side of the stairs, and a body on the floor. The body was laying stiffly, not at all like a human that had been shot or knocked out or suffocated. The psychic investigated and realized that the body was not alive at all but an android. It appeared to be deactivated.
Two incoming messages were showing on the communications panel. One was from the incoming shuttle, it identified itself as an Aresium Corporation shuttle from the nearby mining station Inverness. Generally, the party knew that Aresium is a megacorp specializing in communications, satellites, stations, and ships (from high class yachts to warships). The shuttle had been sent to investigate the party’s ship and whether anyone was on board in need of help. This is also where the name of the party’s ship was decided. Between sessions the players all made a bunch of suggestions and one of them wrote them all down and put them in a bag, so one could be randomly selected. The winner was “HMS Bellipotent” (not totally clear what HMS stands for in this context since there isn’t exactly a space monarch).
The second message was from the mining base Inverness itself. Someone name Kiril was messaging. He claimed the party was expected two days ago and that the situation on the base had detioriated due to the action of one of the miners. Apparently, the party had been hired by this person to do something at this base. It seemed to involve some kind of conflict between the miners and Aresium Corp (not knowing they were amnesiacs, Kiril did not go into much detail). The message also mentioned that some kind of corporate backup ship was expected soon (I think this backup ship was also mentioned by the Aresium people… my memory is not very good even one day later.)
The hacker took a look at the android and managed to turn it back on. The android identified its model and that it had been factory reset. It asked for a name… a few of the players threw some suggestions into the ship name bag and one was selected “Aldo Nova.” So Aldo woke up. They had some basic ship knowledge, but since they were reset had no specific knowledge of the ship or the crew. Somehow we also discovered Aldo has a bad sense of humour (I recall some kind of joke about the “coupling” that the engine needs to be fixed).
I think at this point other members of the party also opened the door to the port of the stairs, which contained a bunch of storage lockers and some kind of recharge station for the android. In opening the lockers I let everyone pick a weapon of choice to add to their equipment list and then a level in the associated skill. The psychic took some kind of hi-tech bow. The master blaster alien took hi-tech boxing gloves. I think everyone else took pistols. (Except the female warrior whose player was absent, so we’ll see.)
The shuttle had by then arrived and was attaching itself to the nearby starboard airlock. After some discussion it was decided to let them onboard and talk to them. A party of four (not five!) Aresium security guards came to the bridge to discuss the situation. They were offering help in the form of towing to the mining base and were also interesting in getting the party to assist with terroristic activity there. The party quickly realized that this was probably related to what Kiril on the comms was talking about in relation to them being hired, so they played it coy with the guards and told them they needed some time to see about their ship since they had just woken up from cryo sleep. The leader of the guards Natalya was convinced by the scientist to wait for them in her shuttle.
The rest of the session is a bit out of order for me… I know someone found a rifle in one of the lockers and decided to hide it somewhere. They found a hiding space under the floor in what turned out to be an office to the starboard of the bridget stairs. In that hiding space was 3000 credits which was quickly divided up (I believe even the android got a share).
The hacker and the psychic went down the ladder and arrived below decks in the cargo bay. It was mostly empty with a large door at the fore of the ship. There were also 2 shuttle bays. One had a shuttle in it, and the psychic noticed that the other seemed to have been used recently (burn/blast marks at the back). Opposite the shuttles was a large locked storage area. The hacker attempted to open it but quickly realized it was well secured and would either need a password, a lot of work, or some explosives.
Back on the bridge the scientist opened a visual communication with Kiril on the mining base. He was a fairly unassuming man who wore a small insignia on his shirt that looked like a circle with three lines in the bottom right quadrant going from the middle of the circle to the edge. Behind him a woman who appeared to be a minor (coveralls with an Aresium logo) seemed to recognize the scientist, referring to him as Zachariah [Something] (don’t have my notecards at hand to lookup his last name). She seemed to think him a hero related to something that happened on a planet called [SOMETHING NUMBER] (again, no notecards at hand), and mentioned not believing a story about a person’s death. It was all a little vague to the party, but it gave the scientist at least some clue to his potential identity (and an ego boost). The party admitted to their situation (memory loss) and that there were Aresium guards docked with them. They learned that they had been hired to help the miners against the corporation (who treated them like shit according to the miner on the call) and that there were two potential docking ports for them at the base, one at the central part of the base, and one at a mining entrance.
The party started planning what to do about the guards. The generally plan seemed to be: hack into their shuttle to disable life support and knock-out/kill the guards; take their uniforms and shuttle; fly to the base and dock there. Most everyone seemed on board with helping the miners fight the corporation. Also at some point they learned the center of the mining base was a ship, so that it, as well as the soon-to-arrive backup corporate ship, were both potential sources of the FTL coupling part they need to get their FTL drive working.
Also at some point the hacker looked at the nav charts and learned that they were really out there on the edge of space. There’s not much in the vicinity. Even the star system they are in is basically a sun and an asteroid belt far from any general civilization. This distance theoretically explained the need for cryo sleep.
We ended on the idea of a plan to get the android on board the shuttle so the hacker could use them as a conduit for hacking the shuttle’s life support.
As usual, despite being nervous about not having planned enough for the session, we didn’t get close to as far as I expected and thus I had plenty of prep notes to work with. It helped that at this point, I really only needed one PC’s background concept, rather than all of them. I’m basing the backgrounds on the decisions they made last session and some of them necessitated coming up with some new background ideas that better fit the class/race/skill choices the players made (others made choices that very nicely fit some of my concepts and even added some interesting details/depths to them).
I’ve been trying using physical notecards for my prep/notes this campaign and so far I think it is working out. I have a card for each PC with notes about class/race/name/skills and then notes on their background. I have a card for each faction. I have some NPC cards, some for a single NPC, and one just a list of names that I add a description to when I find a use for the name (basically, whenever the party meets an lesser NPC who needs a name, I just use the next one on the list and add a small note about who that person is). For the broader session planning ideas and (pretty rough) maps, I’ve got a notebook (square gridded), which gives me more leeway to scribble on and acts as a kind of base background for all these cards.
I do miss having everything digital (and thus, like now, without the physical notecards with me can’t look up a few things noted above), but I can’t find an app that adequately lets me handle digital notecards in a way that works at the table. I use Evernote for a lot of notes, but it is completely useless for seeing multiple notes at once (and also I find the mobile versions rather annoying to use for anything other than basic lookups). Long ago I used this awesome Mac app called Tinderbox (still around) that was perfect for notetaking and visual organization, but it is not mobile/Android compatible and it is probably a little too complicated for my current needs. If I had more time, I’d endeavor to make my own webapp to do what I want.
Next session I imagine we’ll get onto the mining base itself, which I still need to make at least a few maps of (which was the part I was nervous about improvising this session, if they got there). I was hoping this was not going to be a super long running campaign, but already two sessions have not gotten far. I think I need to make sure to keep the background clues coming fast and furious so things don’t drag. This will, I expect, not be a campaign with a lot of random encounters or side missions.