Gates of Despair: Session 5 Recap

Time to wrap up business on the station and get back out into the black!

Narrative

After strategizing briefly, the crew heads down to meet Isaac McCormack, the corporation “fixer” who might be able to provide some additional intelligence on the Society of the Outer Realms. They walk into a fairly typical office area, with a single administrative assistant working for a number of managers. The admin is a stout man named Encert Parker, with braided blue hair and wearing a silver corporate jumpsuit.

Boris, the Marine, starts to befriend him a bit, and asks what kind of beverage Mr McCormack prefers; after some back and forth, Encert tells him he prefers “Galilei 17”, a Jupiter bourbon that’s imported from time to time. Boris knows a bit about how organizations really work, and so he asks the admin for his favorite drink as well. Encert looks the Russian up and down and slyly answers, “a tall bottle of vodka” with a wink. The crew also inquires as to the nature of Isaac’s prior military service, but all the admin knows is that he’s very tight-lipped about it: he doesn’t even like to discuss what nation or organization he served. Despite that, their discussion went far better than the last time they met with a manager during their debrief. They ask Encert to put them on Isaac’s calendar later in the day.

Chiwetel Ejiofor as The Operative in “Serenity”, 2005

After going and purchasing this bourbon (pricey at 100cr/bottle), they come back and present the bottle as a gift at the beginning of the meeting. Boris leads the discussion with Isaac, who resembles The Operative from Serenity as played by Chiwetel Ejiofor. He knows a good bit about the crew of BNL-7734, including the recent incident aboard the Alexis. It turns out that he has been tracking the Society for a bit due to their smuggling operations; when the crew characterizes them as a “cult”, he gently presses them on what leads them to that inclusion. Boris realizes fairly quickly that Isaac’s background is really in intelligence and the two have a friendly if professional conversation. At the end of their chat, Isaac gives them a cover job to deliver a load of scientific instruments to the base on Enceladus so they can gather information and report back.

Once they head out, they run into an ion storm that temporarily disables their communications. Jones, as the pilot, detects the storm early and the crew is able to restore operations to the communications array without trouble. (As I noted on Twitter, this stuff gets less interesting when they succeed on all the rolls, but then that’s part of the benefit to the characters of being good at their jobs!) The players engage in some fairly substantial roleplay on the ship here. Annabelle Cane was fairly quiet in the meeting with Isaac, but now she has a lot to say about whether the Society’s activities are wrong, a separate issue from their legality. Boris and Jones tend to hew a little closer to the side of law & order, and so they feel like smuggling and whatever drove the captain of the Alexis to such a horrible crime makes it clear that the Society must be stopped. Annabelle points out how important the colonization of other worlds would be, plus the idea of shaping Terran species to survive in other environments completely. Realizing that some of her former colleagues are no doubt on Enceladus, she sends out a series of messages, hoping to meet with some of them once she arrives.

A collection of data on Enceladus from Wikipedia, including a diagram of the global ocean and ice crust, some vital statistics, and another diagram showing hydrothermal vents on the ice moon.
Handout on Enceladus

Once they arrive, they find a small refueling waystation in a polar orbit above the moon. The science base is at the south pole. Since a polar orbit will (by nature) eventually cover the entire body, they decide to take some time and scan the moon for other settlements or activity besides the known base. Finding done, Boris relies on his military training and takes a closer look from space at the facility. For a place that supposedly houses around 150 people, the activity level looks far lower than he’d expect. Where is everyone?

They decide to take a shuttle down and get a view of the facility from up close. As they disembark, a sign welcomes them:

WELCOME TO ERF
ENCELADUS RESEARCH FACILITY

Wrap-up

The group really enjoyed the discussions as a crew, like on the ship when they debated whether the Society was a bad thing and whether Dr Cane should try to join it.

I also built them a map of the base, but the blog post showing that off will have to wait for next session (which won’t take place until June 3rd due to my vacationing). Between some tables in third-party modules and another set of generators I’ve mostly completed, we should have some fun with exploring the base and trying to investigate what is really happening here. Time for the campaign to take a turn…

Also, we will be wrapping this whole thing up no later than June 24th, as one of the players has to head off to a month or so of military training. That won’t be the end of Mothership for me, but definitely the end of “Gates of Despair”. With the new “Gradient Descent” megadungeon releasing in the next few weeks, I have already committed to a few folks that we’ll play something after this.

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