The Rings, Episode 3: Hiking on Leaon
A backwater swamp planet such as Leaon might be the last place you’d expect to see a sleek starship make a landing approach. The fancy ship secured a landing zone and the entry ramp elegantly opened to allow its occupants a smooth entry on to the swampy planet’s surface. The last person down the ramp is a large human with a sinister looking cut across their left cheek wearing a set of Xenohistory Service fatigues.
“Boyd, get your scanners up and running. Cas has a head start on us, there’s no telling what he’s found already.”
Everywhere Cas looked there was a disaster. Broken display screens, turned over furniture, and a dead body slumped against the side wall of a Namiko Mining Corp habitable dome.
Cas’s in-ear communicator pulsed with a notification.
“Another vessel has arrived on planet, Captain.”
“The next resupply is not for another two-weeks… perhaps we were followed here?”
“Unclear, sir. Shall I investigate?”
“No, let’s lock things down and hide our ship from any scans. Cas out.”
Cas’s strategy up until this point had been to methodically inspect the last known location of the research team. Now he would have to pick up the pace.
He knew from looking over the corpse that the indvidual had come into with a Sentinel artifact from the glyph-based tattoos now burned into their hands and arms. Their name badge had a single word printed on it: “Trorank.”
Poking through the computer systems had revealed another clue: a new location to check out. Team lead Natascha Karin had logged an entry noting Trorank’s erratic behavior since interacting with an “obelisk.” Natascha had convinced Trorank to isolate himself for the rest of team’s safety. Additionally Natascha had instructed a pair of team members to relocate essential supplies to another location.
Time was of the essence but so was the proper gear, Cas took an inventory of his surroundings and discovered a backpack of essential survival gear. Originally he had planned to return to his ship for gear but now he knew he needed to keep moving. He grabbed an area map with several handmarked circles on it. Possible supply sites? Artifacts? Either way they warranted investigation.
As evening set in on Leaon, the planet’s came to life with a cacophony of what Cas hoped were common insect sounds. Hiking to the closest marked site took longer than Cas estimated it would having underestimated the density of Leaon’s jungle brush. He found what he had hoped to find, supplies, or rather what was left of a supply crate. The insides of the crate were empty and the outside had a explosive hole in it as if had been blasted open. He had also hoped to find the research team but no such luck. Morbidly even finding “parts” of the research team might have been a small success but no signs of them would not result in a satisfactory payment from his employers.
Draav had no idea what he was looking for besides the usual alien shit. Cas had been typically aloof on the details and the library databanks had very little to suggest any Sentinel connection would be present on Leaon. The scanners returned a scattering of small wildlife nearby and the long-range scanners on the ship suggested a set of habitable domes in the area. Draav’s team had strongly favored making their way to the domes first but Draav instinctually felt that they would just be following in Cas’s footsteps if they did that. Instead he noted a hill feature on the horizon and pointed the team that way. With any luck they’d beat Cas to the fun stuff.
Site number #2 had been a dead-end and Cas had decided to call it a night. Waking up in the morning he headed to circle number #3 on his map. In hindsight, grabbing the topographic map might have been more helpful but Cas had wrongly assumed most of the planet was flat. It was near not-quite-a-mountain but also more-obnoxious-than-a-small-hill.
Cresting the hill Cas saw the unmistakable signs of Sentinel architecture. The facility appeared to have built inside of the hill. Cas doubted the research team would be here but perhaps there were clues as to where they might have headed. He walked up to the entrance and poked his head inside.
A cross-hatched laser field covered most of the area of the entry room. Cas had really botched this job by leaving his computer deck & tools back on the ship. He rooted around on the ground outside of the facility looking for anything mirror like. No luck.
“Well, when else fails…”
He took out his blaster and aimed at what hoped was an important part of the protective laser system. His hand would have to be steady as pulling off this shot would require place his blaster bolt between a small opening exposed by several interlacing laser lines. He pulled up his blaster, took a breath, and re-aimed it. Closing his eyes, he pulled the trigger. The bolt flew through the opening and hit the target dead on. The laser field flickered and then disappeared. Before Cas could pat himself on the back someone else’s strong hand did.
“Well done, Cas. You were always a better shot than me.”
Cas turned around but he already knew who had bested him to the site.
I’ve shifted play over to using more of the Larger Than Life 3rd Edition rules after I ran into some unfulfilling play loops with Future Tales. I also brought in some additional tools from Starforged, particularly the “Begin the Session” move, to enhance the game setup a bit.
The setup of Draav bringing a team to follow up on what Cas had told him was the result of the “begin the session” move (“unexpected return of an enemy or threat”.) The rest was through Larger Than Life gameplay (and a healthy helping of Challenge tests) with some details (like the corpse) filled in from Mythic Magazine Volume 18’s Specialized Meaning Tables. I’ve put the two teams on a “racing clock” from Blades in the Dark and using what qualifies as passed dice in Two Hour Wargames as “successes” to fill the clock. It started off as a close race but Draav’s team pulled decidedly ahead. A oracle check told me the site was trapped and the Starforged meaning tables suggested “blocked technology” given me the laser trap. The oracle’s denied me natural resources to solve the problem so I gave Cas a bonkers hard check to disable the laser by force which he aced.
Next time, we will figure out what all the fuss is about.