Archive for November, 2012

The return of the golems

Posted: November 26, 2012 by mearrin69 in Gaming
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golemBack to the Microscope. LL and I invited PL to join our Monday session to start a new game of Microscope. We had a lot of fun with our previous sci-fi Microscope game (read about it here, here, here, and here) and will certainly continue it but wanted to try something new. In our discussion of the Big Picture we decided to take LL’s suggestion that we work with a fantasy world. It took us a while to come up with the rest but we finally settled on post-apocalyptic, a genre of which we are all three quite fond. We ended with the following Big Picture statement: Refugees struggle to rebuild after the apocalypse in a fantasy world. Not really all that inspired, as it’s sort of a knock-off of one from the rulebook, but let’s see where it takes us.

For Palette, PL kicked us off with “no elves”. I quite liked that, having considered opening with “no gnomes” myself. We went from there, ending up with a Yes column containing: “magic with consequences” (LL), “out of control golems” (MA), “gnome scientists” (LL), “primitive firearms” (PL), “secret masters” (MA), “geography the same as Earth” (PL), “alien races” (LL). Our No column contained: “no elves” (PL), “no gods” (PL), “no supermetals” (MA), “no sentient plants” (PL). It’s an odd mix but I think we can make it work.

For our Bookends, we chose a dark Start period called “Fall of civilization” and a dark End period called “Fall of civilization”. Sort of sets the tone, doesn’t it?

Then we started playing with our First Pass followed by a turn with LL as the Lens (she chose “golems” as the focus) and the start of a turn with PL as the Lens (he chose the “School of Magic”). We’ll hopefully finish up that turn and get to me this coming Monday. In the meantime, here’s what we learned about our history:

  • Sometime after the fall of civilization there was a period when gnomes flourished in our world. The center of their civilization was a frozen land called Gnomelaska (see what we did there?) Sadly (or not), gnome civilization collapsed at the end of this period. (PL)
    • At some point the gnomes were having a problem with golems. They managed to kick them out of Gnomelaska by some convoluted plan involving the construction of a transit system that brought in reinforcements. The “Hurried Ones” arrived just in time. Fearless and seemingly impervious to the cold of the region, they helped the gnomes push back the golems.
  • Golem armies raged across the lands of Conusa, streaming from the frozen northwest across the continent. (LL)
    • In the western part of the continent the golem armies sacked the dwarven outpost of Corado Springs and left a garrison there before moving on. They began expanding the dwarven mines in the nearby mountain. (MA)
    • Later, the golem armies reached Nyuork and attacked it. They were supported by rock-heaving, rolling golems and rock-dropping, flying golems. They conquered the city and began building…something. (MA)
      • Even so, the Mad-Hattenites fought on, waging an underground war against the occupying golem army. They were mostly miners and the chemicals that they used for ore separation had caused madness among their ranks. They proved difficult to fight because of their tenacity and seemingly random tactics. (LL)
      • During the attack we learned something about the golem’s motives in a scene that played out at the School of Magic, located in the city. As the golems pounded at the gates and bombarded the school’s buildings, a group had gathered for safety in the main gathering hall.
        • The school’s headmaster, Lord Mandro, was distraught and realized that it was, in retrospect, probably a bad idea to have gathered so many magicians together in one place.  (PL)
        • Williwiggens, a gnome and the school’s top student, worried that there might be no graduation this year…and, thus, no valedictorian position. (MA)
        • Bertrus, one of the school’s professors, pondered the success of his plans to attract golems so that he could study them further. (LL)
        • Williwiggens is casting about in distress, observing the world through magically enhanced lenses and notices the aura of dark magic Bertrus exudes. He (she?) tugs on the headmasters robes and Lord Mandro wakes up from his daze, looking around at those gathered. He senses it too and confronts Bertrus who, in true evil villain style, admits to dabbling in the dark arts. He knew all along it would bring down the wrath of the golems, whom Bertrus hopes to study and eventually control.

And that’s it for now. I’m just going to put it right out there that we all know this is pretty whack. The “same geography as Earth” thing got us right into kooky (courtesy of yours truly) and we just kept on going. It’s a fantasy world gone haywire and, by the looks of it, this things going to go just about as gonzo as Gamma World. I think I’m really going to like it! Tune in next week for an update.
MA

G:Z – Welcome to Dexter, MO

Posted: November 25, 2012 by mearrin69 in Gaming
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Excerpt from the diary of Richard Dawes:

G-Z 1We’ve been on the road for months, all through fall and the start of winter. We’ve lost people along the way. A lot of good people. Andy bought the farm just the other day, or maybe it was last week. We were hitting a grocery store somewhere in Kentucky. It looked pretty clear so Sam even let us cripples help out.

We got a lot of stuff but, on the way back to the front doors, we ran into a good-sized pack of shamblers coming out of the offices at the front. There were too many to fight in that cramped space and there was no way Andy was going to outrun them on one leg and an improvised crutch. He knew he was beaten, had been since we had to take off his leg at the knee, but he was still cocky as ever. Andy grinned and pulled an old grenade he’d been carrying out of his pocket and told us to go. We did. We heard the grenade go off from the parking lot. We said a few words for him over cans of cold beans later that night. Andy hated beans.

dex1Sam hasn’t been quite the same since that day. He’s gone back into lone-wolf mode. I guess Andy was about as close to a friend as Sam ever made. They removed a lot of shambler heads together. I’ve noticed he’s a little more careful these days. Hell, why not. I’ve been cautious ever since they took off my arm because of a little bite on my hand. Sadiq’s always been like that. Police training, I guess. He can’t seem to connect much with that old table leg he carries but he doesn’t ever get hit either. I think Paula’s got a better kill count than he does. You’d think the LPGA was still a going concern as many notches as she’s put on that fancy Ping wood of hers. I guess Jonathan doesn’t kill all that many either but that’s okay because he’s pretty good with a gun and he keeps the HMMWVs running okay. It’s not like I have anything to offer the group anymore. I could sell snow to an Eskimo but I don’t think anybody’s buying anything these days. Most of the people we meet don’t breathe, let alone talk.

That’s all, isn’t it? Just the five of us now. Well, and Buddy. He’s okay, but he still hasn’t really forgiven me for kicking the crap out of him in my sleep during the baby zombie nightmare. We really need to find a place to hunker down. Somewhere safe. Get out of this world for a while.

We rolled into Dexter, MO at around dusk today. I think it’s late December but I’m not sure anymore. Could be Christmas or New Year’s Eve…or it might be just another day at the End of the World. Anyway, I used to have a customer in Dexter and I remember checking out his location on Google Maps back when there was still an Internet. It’s a pretty small place. The graveyard’s bigger than the current population of the town…don’t get me started about my theory on that! Just outside of town, on the east side, I remembered seeing this big junkyard. Thousands of cars just lined up off into the hills. I spent quite a while looking at it.

Mentioned it to Jonathan when I saw the road sign for Dexter and he figured it might be a good place to put in for the night – we could check out the scrap heap and see if there’s anything we could use to get Hummer #2 running a little better. That thing took a beating back at the “Army base”. We managed to replace the two burned tired from a crashed HMMWV outside of Raleigh but it’s been giving us electrical trouble lately. Jonathan figures some of the insulation melted off of wiring somewhere…maybe everywhere, for all I know. Still smells like burned flesh in that thing. I ride in #1 whenever I can.

dex2

We found a little house on the outskirts of town, just off of 60 and right before the junkyard. Just drove the Hummers over the shoulder and up to the front door. Hey, who needs roads? We didn’t see many shamblers. There were maybe four of five a good distance off and moving slowly. They don’t seem to do well in the cold. Maybe they’re not decaying as fast, I don’t know, but at least they can’t keep up with you if you move smartly. Anyway, we got out and went up to the door. I gave a knock and an, “Anyone home?” Sam hates that. He’d rather bash down the door and see what happens than maybe alert the (warmish) shamblers inside to our visit. Me? I figure it’s only polite. If I was holed up inside I’d like to be asked nicely to open the door before some fool started swinging axe. Horses for courses, I guess.

I didn’t expect to get an answer anyway. But I did.We heard a gruff voice from inside say, “Don’t you fuckin’ move!” so we didn’t. It was getting dark by now and none of us much fancied saddling up and finding somewhere else to spend the night so I started talking. It’s nice to feel useful. I explained our situation and our mystery homeowner finally came over and removed the barricade. He introduced himself as Marvin Judd. I was skeptical but let it slide. He was pretty sturdy looking, carrying a shotgun and a bow. Survivalist type. My old customer base. That’s a good thing.

We talked about what was going on and what had happened to our group and to him since the Event. Seems he was a consultant to some sort of survivalist reality show. They’d take a him and a crew and a producer and some unlucky sap up into the hills and watch him shed thirty pounds eating twigs and berries and trying to chase squirrel and opossum. Marvin stayed off-camera, giving advice, helping the producer set up situations. I was never much for reality TV but might have watched that one. Anyway, they got done filming and started back to the world. Noticed their cells didn’t work but didn’t think much of it. First “people” they ran into? You guessed it. That took care of his ensemble cast, leaving Marvin on his own. I don’t doubt he was better off for it…here he was today sat in the living room of a loaner home skinning a deer. He said there was plenty and we could share if we were so inclined.

We were, so we blocked off the kitchen the best we could and built a fire in the old oven and smoked the deer while we went on talking over cans of food. The deer didn’t take too long and it sure was good. Don’t think I’ve had fresh meat in a dog’s age, whatever that means. We were all tired after eating so we checked the barricades and turned in for the night.

Meet Richard. He’s my character and he’ll be telling the story of our GURPS: Zombieapocalypse game, now entering Season Three…for as long as he’s around anyway. There’s a thing or two you should know about Richard. He used to, with his wife Joan, operate a Web-based survivalist gear store. Somewhere in Tucson, AZ there’s a “huge warehouse” stocked with “top-of-the-line” surplus military gear, rations, and so forth. Actually it’s just a 10’x20′ storage unit at Lock-It Lockers on Speedway Blvd. and about half of the Dawes’ two-car garage. The other half is taken up by “Arnie”, an Army-surplus GMC pickup in old-style camo.

From this data you may discern that Richard lies. A lot. Compulsively, actually. BUT he does try very hard to be truthful in his diary. If he ever tells a whopper I’ll hopefully catch it and let you know about it. He also has a picture-perfect memory. Remembers simply everything he notices. Main problem is that he’s been a little depressed lately so some things, like the date, have been slipping his mind.

We’ll learn what happened the next morning shortly and we’ll page back through Richard’s diary to have a look at the highlights of Seasons One and Two. Stay tuned…
MA

Moving from Microscope to Alternity

Posted: November 19, 2012 by mearrin69 in Gaming
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LL and I kicked off our sci-fi Microscope game with the idea that we would be building a setting that we could explore in depth with a more traditional role-playing game system. Tonight we talked through some of the material we have created so far and how we might bring that content into an RPG setting.

As we played through the first four sessions (which you can read here, here, here, and here), creating the history of our setting with Microscope, we had a stack of Alternity books sitting beside our play area. Alternity is a generic sci-fi RPG published by TSR in 1998, prior to its merger with Wizards of the Coast. The game was innovative for its time and includes some interesting and playable mechanics. Though out of print it is still supported by an active fan community, headquartered at Alternityrpg.net. I’ve had the Alternity books sitting on my shelves for years but have never played the game, though I’ve wanted to do so for some time now. LL recently picked up a used set (in pristine condition, I might add) for a song. We both think the system might be a good match for our setting.

Characters in Alternity belong to one of several generic character professions (similar to classes in D20) that determine what skills they’re good at and how they progress as they gain experience. The basic professions can be used to build just about any normal character you’d expect to see in a sci-fi story: Combat Spec, Diplomat, Free Agent, and Tech Op.

The game also includes rules for integrating psionic powers, using a specialty profession called the Mindwalker and several “broad” and “specialty” skills devoted to psionic specialties. The psionic broad skills include Biokinesis, ESP, Telekinesis, and Telepathy. Each broad skill contains several speciality skills; e.g. ESP includes Clairaudience, Empathy, Navcognition, and several others. If you have a broad skill you can use its associated specialty skills at a default level, provided they don’t require training. A character with the ESP broad skill can use Empathy untrained but not Navcognition, for instance. If you also purchase a specialty skill you can use it more proficiently than the default level.

In our Microscope history we determined that certain humans gain psionic powers after travelling through jump space. We don’t know why, they just do. Alternity has a great way to implement that: any normal character (i.e. non-Mindwalker) can be declared a “talent” and purchase one psionic broad skill and two psionic specialty skills. They won’t be as adept at psionics as a Mindwalker, but they’ll have some ability with it. So, where do Mindwalkers fit in? Well, we’re pretty sure that humans won’t be able to be Mindwalkers until the Retreat era, when they have the opportunity to get together with other psis to train and study. We’re not sure yet if the TWSBG or amoth have any Mindwalkers.

We didn’t do any work on defining our setting’s three main species in Alternity. I think, however, that we might be able to file the serial numbers off of the T’sa and use them for TWSBG. As described in the Star*Drive campaign setting, they’re a pretty close match. No idea about the amoth at this point.

Alternity uses “Progress Levels” to denote a campaign setting’s predominant level of advancement: PL5 is the “Information Age”, PL6 adds fusion power and more advanced space exploration, PL7 adds more advanced power generation and gravitic manipulation (and FTL travel). The progression continues through to the indefinite PL10 “Far Future”. It seems likely that our setting is somewhere in PL7, perhaps with PL8 power (as defined in our Microscope Palette).

We’re not yet sure about technology in our setting, because we really haven’t delved deeply into technological specifics. We haven’t even really touched on things like medical technology, personal weapons, computer technology, and a host of other specialties that make an advanced civilization tick. Here’s what we *do* know about our setting’s technological level so far:

  • Starship propulsion
    • Slow STL: We assume that all of the major species can move around at reasonable non-relativistic velocities, but we don’t yet know any details about how they’re doing it, how fast they can go, etc.
    • Fast STL: We know that the TWSBG had accomplished near-lightspeed space travel, through their use of the kind of generation ship that destroyed the amoth home-sphere. Humans may have used similar technologies to settle their first colonies. The amoth did not have, or did not employ this technology.
    • FTL: Humans definitely had the ability to travel at some multiple of c, and used that ability to expand to colonies some distance from Earth. The TWSBG may also have this capability as well, though we have not seen this in our history yet.
    • Jump: Humans and TWSBG both use natural jump points to travel instantaneously from system to system. The amoth have acquired this technology from the TWSBG. We don’t know how this works yet but we think:
      • Jump points are naturally occurring weak points in space, leading to some sort of higher-order dimension that can be traversed by a starship that can “activate” the jump point. We are assuming that passage between jump points is bi-directional, though this hasn’t been firmly established by our history.
      • There may be any number of jump points within a system. We don’t know if jump points can occur in deep space. We don’t know if it’s possible to tell where a jump point emerges without traveling through it.
  • Starship weaponry
    • We don’t know much about this topic at this point except that a fleet of light cruisers is well-armed enough to destroy a pretty large mega-structure (as the Omega Fleet did at the Retreat).
  • Communications
    • We think FTL communications is impossible without psionics. That limitation would also seem to preclude FTL sensors.

And that’s about it, really. One of the reasons we didn’t play tonight was my growing-but-vaguely-formed fear of “overworking” the setting. After talking over how to bring it into Alternity, however, I realize that there’s an awful lot we don’t know yet. Looks like we need to play a few more sessions to go back in and explore some of these missing details. Interestingly, LL and I were loathe to speculate much about things we hadn’t specifically covered either in the history itself or the Palette. We could certainly just make stuff up…but it seems somehow more fun to discover it with Microscope.
MA

Kingdom playtest: P2X-1138 Redemption-7

Posted: November 18, 2012 by mearrin69 in Gaming
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Redemption-7

Redemption-7

Our group spent a couple of Sundays playtesting a new game from Ben Robbins. The game, Kingdom, is similar in many ways to Ben’s Microscope but focuses on the fortunes of a community and its inhabitants. The players decide the nature of the kingdom and the threats it faces and then take roles of key movers and shakers within it as they meet those challenges. The game’s still in development, and will likely see some changes before publication, so I won’t go into any details about the rules here. Instead I will focus on the little bit of story that we created using the game. First, the kingdom we created:

  • Redemption-7 is a corporate-owned penal colony on a death world. Inhabitants include the corporate managers and other functionaries, a group of mercenary “security officers”, and the prisoners. The prisoners serve out their time until parole (yeah, right) improving the facility and engaging in the primary function of the facility: mining an unknown (to them anyway) mineral for the corporation.
    • R-7 faces a number of threats:
      • The environment is a constant threat, facing inclement weather, raging megafauna and dangerous flora. R-7 is not self-sustaining must rely on supplies or whatever it can gather from the planet.
      • There is unrest among the prisoners (and their sympathizers among the mercs and corporate personnel) that might erupt into open rebellion at any point.
      • Pirates, raiders, and a group of increasingly organized escapees known as the “Others” are a constant drain on supplies and personnel.
    • Important R-7 locations include:
      • The Cantina – A contract-run bar, open to all of R-7’s inhabitants.
      • Ops Center – Where the magic happens. Mostly corp types hang out here, managing R-7’s operations.
      • The Hole – Where recalcitrant prisoners spend quite a bit of time.
      • Dropzone – Sort of like a spaceport…but without the facilities. The mercs hate going out here on convoy security detail.
      • Mess Hall – Three hot meals a day, open to all inhabitants.
      • The Yard – Where prisoners, and people who don’t mind being around prisoners, spend some of their free time. It’s also where convoys and work teams form up go OG (outside of the gates). Tip: If you want to hang out here for long you might want to keep a lookout for Terrordactyls.
      • Council Chamber – Where the leaders of R-7 debate important issues.
      • Security Section – Where the mercs live and work when they’re not abusing prisoners, going OG to escort a convoy, or similar.

R-7aAnd then the characters:

  • Colonel Roy Jenkins, Head of Security (played by HG, pictured in camo at right).
    • Jenkins is the leader of the mercs.
    • He can most often be found in the Security Section or the Cantina.
    • He hopes the R-7 project will be finished soon and he can rotate back to somewhere civilized.
    • He needs Guy Kepplar (see below) to keep his people in line so he can focus on external threats.
    • He’s most concerned about weapons, ammo, and the other components that help his team function.
  • Clinton Gardner, Corporate Compliance Officer (played by MA, pictured middle foreground).
    • Gardner works for the Company. Nobody really knows what he actually does.
    • He can usually be found in the Ops Center or the Council Chamber.
    • He fears that things are going to get out of hand and that the Company will lose control of R-7.
    • He needs Col. Jenkins to keep a lid on what’s really going on at R-7.
    • He is most concerned about his position with the Company.
  • Matilda “Mattie” Rascomb, Teacher/Quartermaster (played by LL, pictured left foreground).
    • Mattie teaches the children of R-7’s staff and the handful of children that have been born to prisoners at R-7.
    • She can usually be found in the Mess Hall or in the Yard.
    • She hopes that R-7 will one day be a free and integrated community.
    • She needs Clinton Gardner to allocate additional resources for her education program.
    • She is most concerned about R-7’s children.
  • Guy Keppler, Labor Representative (played by PL, pictured right foreground).
    • Keppler is a former merc who broke the rules and became a “resident” of R-7. He has organized the prisoners and serves as a spokesman for them, looking out for their needs.
    • He can be found in the Council Chamber or the Yard.
    • He hopes that all of R-7’s inhabitants can one day become equals in the eyes of the Company.
    • He needs Mattie to educate the prisoners, many of whom are illiterate.
    • He is most concerned about the possibility of rebellion.

In Kingdom game terms, Col. Jenkins is a Power role, Clinton and Mattie are Perspective roles, and Guy is a Touchstone role. Power role characters make decisions about what the kingdom does. Perspective characters intuitively understand how decisions will play out and affect the kingdom. Touchstone characters know the will of the people and how they are going to react to events that affect the kingdom. Play proceeds by introducing a Crossroad, an important (yes/no) decision facing the kingdom, and then playing scenes related to that decision. After each scene the kingdom moves closer toward resolving the decision, one way or the other, or toward crisis, which could destroy the kingdom, or toward putting the decision off for a time.

Our first Crossroad, introduced by HG, was whether or not R-7 would build a secure Dropzone. Col. Jenkins’ mercs put their lives on the line with every convoy escort job and the colony loses equipment and supplies to the environment and to raids by The Others.

The first scene put all of our characters in the Council Chambers discussing the matter. Col. Jenkins and Clinton were all for it, though Clinton felt that directing the prisoners to help build it would definitely cause some problems. Mattie was for it too, and felt that building it would save lives and protect the colony’s goods and equipment. Guy also thought it would be a pretty good idea…but he was pretty sure that the prisoners would not be happy about risking their lives to build the thing; they’d rather let the mercs continue to take most of the risk.

The next scene, however, set that back a bit. Guy had a little informal meeting in the Mess Hall with Maddie, Joe Boehner (a secondary character created by PL), and Marcus Matthews (another). Guy talked a little about his growing concern that this project would upset the prison population and Joe, played by HG, seemed to agree. Marcus, played by me, wondered how the heck we were going to get the resources to build the bloody thing in the first place. Mattie offered that she thought that the company would definitely have to directly supply the colony with the needed materials.

The scene after that had the unnamed corporate head of R-7 trying to have security put Guy in The Hole. Maddie intervened and convinced him to back down, in the interest of keeping the people happy.

Then we saw Clinton conspiring with Col. Jenkins to manufacture a little incident that would reinforce the need to build the secure dropzone (Clinton’s Carter Burke is beginning to show). People were killed and equipment and supplies lost. Clinton was worried, of course, that he might get found out, damaging his position with the company. He filed some false reports on the matter to cover it up…but if he ever gets found out there’ll be a steep price to pay.

We learned that, if the secure dropzone did get built, the Company was willing to offer some additional benefits to the prisoners, including improved education for those that needed it. This is, of course, a key concern for Guy.

Because things had been stagnating a bit, Col. Jenkins decided to take action on his own. If the colony wasn’t going to build a secure dropzone then he’d just have to move a large portion of the mercs out there to sit on it and create a secured perimeter. Of course that would leave the colony itself more vulnerable. As the mercs were saddling up in the Yard, Clinton approached Col. Jenkins and demanded an explanation. He got one…and quietly agreed with the colonel but loudly protested that the colony would be undefended and vulnerable to attack. This caused a little murmuring from the crowd gathered.

By this time, Guy had begun to waver in his opposition to the project. Folks were getting scared about the loss of merc protection at the colony and had heard about the benefits they might receive if they didn’t cause trouble for the project. Guy talked over the educational opportunity a bit with Maddie and they both agreed that it would be a good thing.

Then came an important revelation, from the leader of the Others – the improbably named Augustus Octavius. He stealthily entered the colony and had a meeting with Guy and Maddie. They had come to depend on lightly defended supply convoys to keep themselves stocked and would suffer if a secured dropzone was built. His people simply couldn’t take the chance and, if the decision to build was made, they would be forced to make a pre-emptive attack.

In the end, Col. Jenkins got his wish. We began construction. The prisoners were relatively okay with the situation, thanks to the improved benefits they received. The Others did in fact attack the colony, though we survived it okay. We may have to deal with them in the future, of course. I’m pretty sure Col. Jenkins and Clinton would like to put together a mission to go out into the Badlands and take them out for good.

And that’s it. I’m not even sure we played it right but we managed to muddle through the resolution of one Crossroad so I guess we did okay. We sent off some suggestions to Ben based on our experience playing. Hopefully we’ll come back to Redemption-7 at some point. I think we did some good work here and I’d like to see what the future holds for the colony.
MA

(NB: The images above are screencaps from Terra Nova, a TV show that aired for one season on Fox. I couldn’t help thinking of the show’s visuals as we were playing this game. When I was casting about for pictures for this post I saw the publicity shot of the cast and thought the main characters made pretty good stand-ins for our characters. The show’s not bad…you can see it on Netflix Watch Instantly if you have it. And, yeah, the military guy on the far right is the crazy Marine commander dude from Avatar. I guess they liked him.)

The Nakamura Legacy

Posted: November 12, 2012 by mearrin69 in Gaming
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The destruction of the Retreat

In the fourth session of our sci-fi Microscope game we exposed more background on Fleet Admiral Nakamura’s distrust of psions and where that led. If you need to catch up, read sessions one, two, and three. LL and I each took turns acting as the lens. My chosen focus was Fleet Admiral Nakamura, LL’s was The Psion Revolt.

Here’s a summary of the new history we created during this session:

  • During the Consolidation Wars, then Rear Admiral Omar Nakamura was commanding Task Force Altair, charged with bringing wayward border colonies into line. During the Siege of Neu Essen, the T.F. had largely destroyed the colony’s defenses and Admiral Nakamura was preparing to order the landing of troops to secure the colony.
    • As he spoke to his T.F. commanders via holo-presence from the bridge of his flagship, T.C.S.1 Heinlein we watched a final salvo being fired from the colony. The incoming fire struck the cruiser T.C.S. Asimov and penetrated its bridge, killing its captain and several other officers.
    • We learned some details about the psion that caused the destruction of Neu Essen: Asimov’s psionic navigator, Ensign Lucy Pietro, was engaged in a romantic relationship with Asimov’s captain. Her uncontrolled psionic reaction after his death resulted in the total destruction of the Neu Essen colony.
    • Back aboard the Heinlein, we see the hologram of Asimov’s captain wink out as status boards go wild and the explosion of Neu Essen lights up the bridge. Nakamura shouts for information from his crew and commanders, “What just happened? Goddamnit, who fired? What the hell just happened to the colony?” As information comes in and he assimilates it he issues an encrypted order to his fleet commanders telling them to keep all shipboard psions under close surveillance from this point forward.
    • The investigation of the destroyed colony turns up DNA remnants of the dead colonists and visitors. Among the casualties is John Nakamura, a member of the Separatist movement, who was visiting Neu Essen at the time. He was survived by his wife and infant daughter, Allison.
    • Despite what amounted to treason against the Terran Confederation, Admiral Nakamura loved his son dearly and had hoped to bring him back to the light of reason. After John’s death, Nakamura held a memorial service aboard Heinlein and invited several officers, most of whom had known John from childhood.
    • Later we learn that Nakamura around this time made a personal log recording that included the statement, “I don’t trust psions, and I never will. I can never forgive them for the death of my boy.” (MA: Sorry. Had to be done. Amirite?)

Consolidation Wars-era holo of Rear Admiral Nakamura aboard T.C.S. Heinlein

  • After the construction of the Retreat, Nakamura has put into effect the Omega Order and his forces are secretly seeking a source of the Omega Compound, the psi-negating substance known to those-who-survive-by-going (TWSBG) as white-blank-curtain.
    • The scouts find an asteroid field rich in Omega Compound in an uncharted system and initial mining operations begin. After a quantity of the substance has been gathered and refined, Nakamura’s experts tell him that they can construct a starship using an alloy of Omega and standard hull materials to create a design that is proof against psionic detection and attack. A group of amoth engineers, now part of the conspiracy, have created designs that can elude TWSBG sensors. Nakamura orders the construction of a light cruiser designated CLX-0001, the T.C.S. Lamar, designed to these specifications. The Lamar is built and commissioned and its test cruise is a stunning success.
    • Nakamura institutes full-scale mining of the field, via a number of front corporations that are actually owned by the Terran Confederation government. In addition to Omega, the companies extract billions of credits worth of other ores, making the operation a resounding success…and a secret the corporations are willing to keep.
    • With Omega production running at full-tilt, Nakamura commissions and staffs a small but powerful fleet of Omega-shielded and TWSBG-stealthed warships.
  • An unknown, at the time, force attacked and destroyed the Retreat. The attack was a complete surprise and the facility was a total loss. Later we find that Fleet Admiral Nakamura and his collaborators were behind the attack.
    • The destruction of the Retreat wracked the minds of psions throughout the Known Worlds. All had visited the Retreat and had become interconnected with the galactic psi community…and its destruction caused what had become a tightly woven tapestry to disintegrate into broken strands. Many psions went insane, others devoted their lives to figuring out what had happened and, when they learned it was a deliberate act, to finding out who was behind the cowardly attack.
    • Psions throughout the Worlds just walked away from their lives. The first hints of this came as law enforcement agencies synched up on a sudden spike in missing persons reports to realize that all involved were psions. By then it was too late to stop the exodus as most had already gone underground. The Confederation, TWSBG, and amoth civilizations suddenly lost a mass of essential personnel in the areas of navigation, communications, and other vital roles.
    • From hiding, the psions continued their search for the Destroyers. When they found a co-conspirator they often took matters into their own hands.
      • Fleet Admiral Nakamura’s role in the incident was first learned by a psion called Tanner Bruce, who chanced into an encounter with Nakamura’s former adjutant on a world called Dessan. Captain Liam Stevens knew the full details of the plot and after Bruce caught a hint of Stevens’ guilty subconscious he went deep, probing for the information. Stevens did not survive the “interrogation”.
    • TWSBG psions began to suspect amoth involvement and tried in vain to wade through the minds of amoth they could reach. The amoth, due to their genetic memory and ancestral voices, have a natural defense against psionic attack and probing. The TWSBG psions, who had always simply maintained surface contact previously, tried to pry information from their amoth subjects and paid for it with their sanity.
  • The psions re-emerge, present their case, and Fleet Admiral Nakamura and his co-conspirators are brought to trial and convicted. The excerpt from Nakamura’s personal logs is heard across the Worlds by a now-sympathetic populace.
  • Later, the Psionic Suppression began. We don’t know much about the period yet but we do know that a key figure is “Colonel” Allison Nakamura, grand-daughter of Omar Nakamura and daughter of John Nakamura. She leads the Free Human Front against psions throughout the worlds.

Allison Nakamura, after graduation from the TCNA at Ganymede

1 – T.C.S. stands for Terran Confederation Starship.

And, there you go. Another exciting episode of our “Psionic Scream” sci-fi history game. You know, as much as LL and I try not to think about the story when we’re not playing, it’s inevitable that it crosses our minds and we think of some item or other that we’d expect to see emerge in the game. What is amazing is that, once were playing the game, most of that falls by the wayside and we take the history in directions neither of us ever expected.

Sure, I introduced Nakamura thinking he’d be a bad guy and that he might hate psions or maybe even all aliens for some reason. I never expected, however, that the reason for his hate might be the death of his son (combined with true fear of the power of psions). I do not think that when LL introduced the Psion Revolt focus she expected me to give Nakamura up so easily (I turned Stevens in to Bruce and brought Nakamura before tribunal). As the final move of the game, I introduced the “Nakamura Legacy” legacy and the Psionic Suppression period.

I’m interested in seeing how our little war between psions and normals turns out. I’m also interested in what the TWSBG are going to do about their amoth problem. Did the amoth sell them out? Did the TWSBG deliberately destroy the amoth home sphere to create a client race? Who knows? I guess we’ll find out as we develop our history further.
MA