A pocket full of stardust

Session notes - Cluster and Character generation

We had our first session yesterday. Here are some notes on how it went.

Cluster Generation

We debated on the number of systems to worry about. The books suggests 6 to 12, we were 6 around the table. Some thought that 2 per players was a good idea, but the thought that less is more won in the end and we created 7 systems: 1 per player and a bonus one (Ariel). In hindsight, I think that 12 clusters wouldn’t have made the cluster more interesting this time around and the generation may have turned into a chore.

Everyone had a great time coming up with aspects. We created two per clusters, then brainstormed about how the systems would interact. The cluster was drawn on a 3’ long piece of examination paper, so we had a lots of room to jot things down. Our emphasis was on imports/exports: but the concepts were loosely treated: Arma imports brain while it exports blackbox technology with Khaleb.

We ended up with a strongly bound together cluster with no obvious source of war, but a strong sense of cultural tension between Illustra and Pharr somewhat similar to the relationship between the Roman republic and the Greeks.

Character Generation

This took longer than planned, but it was fun. We progressed well until the third phase, at which point the 4th phase sortof blended in as we were more and more creating a campaign seed instead. I think that the group (at least I did), ran out of steam on defining aspects. We settled on stopping at 8 aspects per characters. This leaves two slots which can be filled during future refreshes.

We didn’t go far enough to actually fill our skill pyramids, nor define stunts. We are hoping to do this offline here on this site so that we can start playing in two week.

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Episode 1.1 - A knot in the red tape

The first scene of the campaign involves Theodorus, and to a lesser extent Xaria and Phabio Phait. Theodorus, as son of the head of state for the Illustra system, is invited to represent his father for the ceremonial signature of the renewal of a trade agreement with the backward nations of Ariel. They set out for Ariel on board the ILA Crane, a diplomatic vessel with a full complement of press, notable citizen and other dignitaries. They reach the slipknot in 6.5 days and switch to the Ariel system where they are intercepted by two Darkrian destroyers. The Darkrian clear them for entry into the system, although they couldn’t have done much to stop the Crane had the Illustran diplomats decided to fly pass the archaic space ships.

The transit takes place without trouble and the Crane docks to an orbital stations on the 13th day. The Illustrans are taken to the surface in a rugged shuttle ship (T-1) and flown to the seat of a parliament where the Nations of Ariel are represented. The first sign that there may be complication appears early as the representatives of the Economic Nations (EARTHA) usher Theodorus into a meeting room and brief him on the problem at hand. The Darkrian have decided to exercise their veto power and oppose the renewal of the trade agreement. The Darkrian have nothing to lose as they are not benefiting from the lucrative recycling contracts with the Illustran corporations. Many nations in the isolationist camp, representing about 30% of the Nations on Ariel, are advocating to re-negotiate the treaty anew. As Theodorus enters the assembly, the crowd is noisy and the representatives are shouting. The Darkrian embassador is asked to yield the right of first speech to Theodorus. Theodorus reminds the Nations that the deal is finalized and ratified and only need to be signed, throwing it away is not acceptable (Obstruction attempt with Oratory, fails). The Darkrian embassador manages to get the nations under EARTHA to agree to at least reopening the treaty before signing. The Darkrian empbassador then launched into a tirade in an attempt to expel Theodorus from the floor, but the Illustran brushes the criticism aside and gather ammunition for a later comeback (got spin). He makes a clear case for the immediacy of the signature of the treaty and sway the EARTHA nations to agree to sign against the vote of the Darkrian. The crowd is angered by the about face of the Economic Nations and begins to jeer. The EARTHA nations attempt to defend their new stance, but innefectually while the Dakrian leverage the upset to get the Isolationists to agree that no negotiations could lead to an acceptable treaty. Theodorus attempts to placate the Darkrians by arguing that trade with a body as rich and economically powerful as himself (Asset argument) is foolish and laughable. The argument falls flat, the parliament is exhausted and breaks for lunch.

During lunch, the head of the secret service ushers Theodorus and his retinue (including Xaria and Phabio) to a spaceport. They meet in a conference room with the representatives from EARTHA and sign the treaty against the Darkrian veto. A clause is added that EARTHA take full responsibility for the domestic disagreements that this may cause. The Illustrans then rush to the shuttle and return to the orbital station.

On their way up, they learn that three Darkrian destoyers have move into the sector, one of which has boarded the station. Once that the shuttle has docked, they are lead to private questers and sequestered without the opportunity to consult EARTHA officials. The Illustans are prisoners! They learn that the Darkrian navy has relocated the ILA Crane to another station. They are told that they are to remain in their quarters and are denied diplomatic privileges.

This situation is going to last for the next 8 days when the AMA Sparrow will approach the orbital station with a plan of their own.

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Episode 1.2 - Like a hot knife in butter

A business opportunity

The three companions were sitting around the dining table while the newsfeed was pushing new details about the developing situation on Ariel. By the look of it, the native government had decided to intern an Illustran ship full of diplomats in the Ariel system. Archangel looked at Elzar and Jim.

“Here is our next job”, he declared with a smile. Certainly if the son of the benevolent leader is stranded in the boons, he should be rather happy to get a ride home.

The Sparrow docked at an orbital station and stayed there for a day while the crew was drinking their pay and the ship waited in line for refueling. There was no time to waste if they wanted the Sparrow to arrive before the Illustran Navy! However, this should not be difficult since the Sparrow was way faster than what the Illustran could afford to put together, even for military ships.

Jumping to Ariel

The Sparrow caught up with the Navy by dashing for a day at full speed (2G), then completed the cycle at a more leisurely 1G to finigh at the slipknot with another day at 2G. This kind of rough traveling was OK since there were no passenger to worry about in the way there. When the Sparrow got in range of the knot, they flicked the switch and zapped to Ariel.

To everyone’s surprise, the Sparrow arrived almost on a vector placing it in an interception course with a Darkrian destroyer. There was another one far off on the sensor display which was not a real source of worry. The Darkrian sent a message demanding that the Sparrow return through the knot to Illustra. Archangel ignored the summon and called everyone to battle station. He sat down at the EW console and fried the destroyer much more easily that he anticipated it to be. The other destroyer attempted to jam them but only brought upon itself the wrath of Archangel who turned off all main power in the ship after hacking into its power management module.

The Sparrow scanned the area and identified two more Darkrian destroyer near Auroch only orbital station. This should probably called for more tact than on the way out of the slipknot, but the possibility remained to teach the Darkrian to never cross Arma technology when wielding a a wooden club.

Off they set out on a leisurely 1G transit to Auroch to see whether some stranded diplomats needed a ride.

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