14 April 2020 horror mothership scifi rpgs session_report playtesting gradient_descent
Back in the Deep with my players for session 2 of our Gradient Descent playthrough. Joining us this time:
Previously, the Diver team had been hired to place two backpacks containing fully spectrum communication sniffers in two locations within the Deep: C127 Android Storage, and C122 the Foil Forest. Last session, they had a near TPK, losing both their guide, Roskam, and Tamm, their hired muscle, though they were able to place one of the sniffers.
Dr. Whalen and Von Richter started this session split from Gunner Lilith and Everett-07. Lilith and Everett-07 were holding down the fort in Android Storage with one of the backpack sniffers, while Dr. Whalen and Von Richter were supposed to locate the “Foil Forest” and dump the other one. Unfortunately, their gruesome melee in the airlock from last session has caused them to rethink things.
First, Everett-07 decided that they needed a new body and stole one of the Android’s bodies from storage and hooked themselves up to it. They weren’t able to transfer their logic core, that would be too complicated an operation, but they were able to jack-in to the new android and control it, carrying their old torso on the android’s back like a backpack (a burden the rest of the crew was glad to be rid of). The transfer was difficult though, and Everett-07 gained 5 Stress in the transition, narrowly avoiding a panic.
After that, the crew decided to team up again, and after Gunner Lilith jury-rigged a device to switch on the sniffer (they have to be turned on simultaneously), the group met up — but not before picking through Roskamm and Tamm’s remains for supplies.
Tamm had an SMG and some ammunition, always useful. But Roskamm’s sole possession was a loose tooth, kept in her pocket. Strange, but it’s The Deep. Lilith took the tooth and they pressed onward.
The session was eerily quiet this time, with the players poking their heads in rooms and floating silently through the zero-g halls. They found the so-called “foil forest” glimmering with seemingly fields of drifting tinsel. They didn’t stop to investigate, they dropped their pack, switched both sniffers on and bolted.
Everett-07 took a moment to listen to the comms of the sniffers though — it was confusing at first, like listening to a machine speak in tongues. He wanted to take it for further study, but gained experience for listening all the same.
Something shifted deep inside the facility however, they could all feel it. And when they passed through the airlock again, the automated door slammed shut on Dr. Whalen, who was barely caught in its grips. They crew sprang into action with their crowbars at the ready and pried the door open — lesson learned: Monarch was watching.
They made their way back to the sixth floor, prying open doors and timing their jumps. They found a dock they weren’t aware of, and even a tugboat that could take them to the Bell, but none of them knew how to pilot the vehicle and so they went the long way home, stopping off to pick up their stashed artifact, the strange orb with the beetle legs.
At this point they remembered the strange spiked room from before, and decided they’d rather explore unknown territory then travel back through a known trap. This proved lucky as when they passed through the docks again they ran into Sang and Trantis, the rookie divers from last session, boarding the tugboat and about to head home.
Digression: This was an interesting encounter because I struggle (and I know a lot of Wardens do) with wondering whether I’m “going too easy” on my players. A couple things: First, I rolled for random encounters and when the players were approaching the docks they got a 66– that means there is an encounter (doubles) and that it’s sorta far away/avoidable (high number). I rolled on the encounter table for the floor and came up with “Divers.” They had met Sang and Trantis near this area so it made sense that they’d be leaving right about now. I decided Sang and Trantis were making a lot of noise (so avoidable). I also rolled reaction for them and got like and 82, meaning they’re in a good mood (evens) and they’re well prepared/in good spirits (high number). Anyways, all that to say in a session where I hadn’t rolled up ANY negative encounters I still felt pretty great about this one. Gradient Descent is built to have a lot of social encounters. You’re meant to make friends. Then later, those friends turn out to be enemies, androids, unaware that they aren’t human, or that they are. So this feels like its building to something.
The players hitched their ride and agreed to buy drinks for Sang and Trantis at the Diver bar. They docked and hit up Arkady, who runs the Bell and told them they completed their mission. Arkady paid them 250kcr split four ways, a kings ransom (and I need to find ways for them to spend it). Additionally, Arkady offered another 250kcr for their strange beetle artifact. The crew was reluctant to sell it at first, wanting to keep it for study, but eventually relented at 300kcr. So now they’re all walking around 137.5kcr richer with not much to do.
They met up with Sang and Trantis in the bar, who showed them these strange black beads they sold to Arkady for 1kcr each. They’re apparently everywhere in the Deep, made of an unknown metal, and completely indestructible. A couple rounds of Moloko+ and the group split up.
Gunner Lilith headed to their provided accommodations (a tiny capsule dorm) to wash off the day and get right before heading to the arcade. That’s when they learned that the strange fleshy vaccsuit they’ve been wearing wouldn’t come off. At all. They couldn’t tear it, and it hurt when they tried to rip into it. In fact, even their face was becoming smoother, loosing its lines and… personality. Becoming a blank slate. Lilith nearly panicked but held it together, went down to the arcade and lost themselves in nearly limitless hours of House of the Dead.
Dr. Whalen stayed with Sang and Trantis and bought their drinks (since his drinks were bought by Arkady) and tried to relax. Sang wants to head to a place called “Prospero’s Dream” where he heard they can earn triple what they make diving in the Deep, but he’s not sure if he can handle the Organized Crime connections he’s heard you need to survive there. Trantis, is willing to jump into the Deep again if the money’s right.
And lastly, Everett-07 talking to Amano the bartender about where he could get fully uploaded into this new body he’s found. She pointed him to Caprico, a mechanic working the docks. What Everett-07 found though was strange: a Nexus-12 android, full emotional and empathetic response. Implanted human memories. “You’ll need a firmware update to be transferred into the new body,” Caprico said. “But I’m top of the line,” Everett-07 replied. “Maybe outside the Deep,” said Caprico. “But here, you’re six generations behind.”
And that’s where we left it. We’ll do a “blue book” style shopping session in the chat between sessions, and when we get back, we’ll figure out where they go from here.
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