Saturday, June 10, 2017

宁静的龙 (Níngjìng de lóng) - Session 0


The Níngjìng de lóng (Serene Dragon) is a Mudlark-class Utility Space Vehicle (USV) registered in Duncan Silas as an independent tramp freighter. It is a really just a tube: the seams on the hull are rough and unfinished, a smell of faux-flesh vats never quite washed off from the cargo hold. The deceleration push stutters every now and then and sends a rattle along its spine. The moisture level is a bit high and it mainly bothers Pradesh's pride as a life support engineer. Pradesh scours the ship as a Tech-spider but has more or less given up on fixing the moisture problem by now. The Ningjing is in need of maintenance but the crew has had a laisser-faire since they have learned that a gearhead was joining them upon their arrival on Deimos.

宁静的龙, or Níngjìng de lóng. A no-frill general purpose USV.

Pradesh, SAI, Life support Tech.

Pradesh is a Sentient Artificial Intelligence (SAI) entity who believe to be owned by John Cheng, the operator of the 'Níng. However, an instruction is hardcoded into his mind stating that certain instructions are to be decoded and passed along to Cheng without parsing. Another instruction states that if an encrypted message begins with a certain pattern, Pradesh is to execute the command. The SAI has no intention to question this command. Pradesh also is aware that a small explosive charge in the command room is rigged such that he may trigger it whenever needed. He doesn't know why he'd do that, but there it goes. Pradesh is not friend with anyone on board: the meat piles are unpredictable and generally unpleasant. The thought that an astropus is about to join the crew is unsavoury to the SAI.

Pradesh. Whoever thought that a sapiens life support tech AI should be
put in control of a manned ship must have been... a smart landlord.

John Cheng, Floater parahuman, ship's captain.

John is the captain of the 宁静的龙 (Níngjìng de lóng), although his story is airtight as the rightful owner of the ship as far as deed and registration records goes. He knows, however, that the overloards aren't moved by legality and that the 宁静的龙 is on loan. John is unusual: a bit homely and completely devoid of cybernetic enhancements. He is nearly 6'9" tall and very dainty like most floater parahumans. Both of his parents were first generation Duncanites and grew with the gengineered upgrade all of his life. His dark secret is that he has to maintain the facade of being the owner of the 宁静的龙 while a faceless overlord sometimes gives assignments that cannot be turned down. 

John truly dislike the thruster burns on his ship. The 0.17G is making him feel ill most of the time, However, this time around he has to stay on the ball as the ship is approaching Deimos: Mars' elevator tether. He's been told to hire an astropus that will be delivered by a group of German colonists from the planet's surface. 

John Cheng, all-round spacer with a dark secret.

Takeda Honza, retired Japanese marine, stevedore.

Takeda is a descendent of the orginal Ares Conspirators and a veteran of a tour on Yametei Station, working as a marine for Mutual Assured Defense (MAD). Although collecting a decent pension, Takeda has remained restless and was eager to keep on slipping in and out of deep space. When John posted an ad for a stevedore for a small Mudlark-class, Takeda embraced the opportunity with vim. Takeda is fully aware that Long has a shady agenda with his ship: he was overly eager when he learned about his military gears that he purchased from the Red Duncanites a few years back. He is also wondering why someone would sacrifice a revenue-generating cabin to retrofit a chemical power plant and a fixed 3X10MJ laser mount that is concealed in the nose. Takeda is also mildly worried by the fact that John is completely clean of AI support and doesn't even have a Virtual Interface Implant (VII). This makes keeping in touch a bit more difficult: John has to do everything the hard way, communication must be done via audio. Takeda finds the charade unnecessary.  

Takeda: My pension check comes in each month, and I still get to
shoot at things/people. What's not to love?

Horatio, astropus, spaceship mechanics.

Horatio was successfully smuggled out of Mars via the elevator: the Martian triad tried to snatch him after a botched extraction of pleasure bioroids from the Mars space elevator. At the same time, a warrant was active against him with the Rust China authority. His German colonists wranglers were very eager to get him off their hands. This is when they secured a transaction with a belter named John Cheng. Why did Cheng made the trip all the way to Deimos is a mystery.  Astropi are dumb as baked bread as far as they can tell.

Horatio: Well, Mars got quite messy. What can possibly go any worst
in the belt?

John scans the enhanced visuals on an holopanel of the control room. Deimos is a mere rock turned into a barebone high port. A thread of carbon and diamond descends some 10,000 miles to the planet's surface, and into the heart of New Shanghai. A laser wire comes in and is decrypted by Pradesh. The video message streams over the visual on the holopanel. A picture of a ragged looking astropus comes up. The astropus must no know that it was purchased and think that is has been hired fair and square. It is waiting in room 404 of the port's hotel. 


  1. This looks promising !

    How do you manage such possible antagonisms in your game ? And did the players made their characters, or did you made them ?

    1. They made them this time. I am filling the blank from the character sheet. I have had a campaign where the main antagonist were PCs. It has to be done purely at the storytelling level and make sure that no players use antagonism to be a jerk. If the table believe that an action is out of line, then we back down. In this case, there could be conflict if John's secret comes out of the bag. And it will generate giggles. You just have to have great players. I seem to get lucky almost all the time with my tables.

    2. Seeing as you wrote this here, I suppose all players know of each other's secrets, and play the characters as not knowing. it's the way I'd do it too, probably the best way to keep the antagonism at the storytelling level - a revelation for everyone can create surprise and knee-jerk reactions, that can be very unpredictable and go into the game-level.

      So, when is the next game ?

    3. Next Friday. We alternate with a D&D5E game set in Ravenloft. However, tonight too many people are missing and apparently we're playing Starfleet battles. As long as it is fun, I'm all for it.