We left off the last session with alien fungus/grass/cilia infesting the PCs and their shuttle and gangly alien predators trying to get inside. They had some help in orbit from an NPC biologist, Dr. Cameron, generated via the thaw out an expert move. She was working on a method to inhibit or reverse the weird cilia growth, and time was running out. Everyone got traumatized as they noticed green floaters in their vision, but aside from a few dots in their Trauma track nobody was in danger yet.
In the meantime, however, I had a new move to retroactively test out. Until now, I’d been treating equipment fairly broadly and vaguely but there was a meaningful choice lurking in that pre-mission prep phase. I wrote up a prep a shuttle move in between this session and the last one and we tried it out:
Prep a Shuttle
When you prepare a shuttle for an away mission, it comes loaded with portable sample kits, survey equipment, sidearms, medical kits, and climbing gear. Choose two additional modules:
- Field Laboratory: Advanced scientific equipment. Grants a +1d assist die for research and development.
- Tactical: Turreted weapons pod with military-spec weapons and armor lockers. The gear grants a +1d assist die for combat-related rolls.
- Rover Bay: It’s a space buggy with enough seats for the PCs. Battery-powered, with solar backup.
- Cargo Bay: Storage for bulk materials.
- Mining Module: Drills, lasers, cutters, and manipulators for extracting raw materials.
- Quarantine: A secure shuttle deck with its own life support and compartmentalized exterior and interior airlocks.
- Long Haul: Fuel, remass, and boosters for making orbit-to-orbit transitions.
I ruled that because of what we’d already established WRT the infestation, the Quarantine module wasn’t an option. They chose the mining module, because there was still exotic resources to discover in the rocks floating above the moon’s surface, and the field laboratory.
Kill to Cure
This gear choice proved immediately fruitful when Dr. Majida Kol exceeded the specs, using mining drills to scare off the predators testing the shuttle’s entrances. Dr. Cameron called back at last and laid out a plan to kill off the alien worm-grass. They’d open the drive core and irradiate themselves just enough, then they’d need to book it back to the Somnambulist for medical attention. Mechanically, flooding the shuttle with radiation triggered the get hurt move for everyone, and as a result of that Dr. Kol took the injury aspect “Immunosuppressed” and Dr. Weyland chose to “lose equipment”: the field laboratory’s sensitive equipment was damaged by the radiation and would no longer provide a bonus.
With the infestation dealt with, NOAH released the quarantine lockdown on the shuttle and they headed back to the Somnambulist, but not before finally taking some samples from the floating rocks. Dr. Weyland discovered that the strange gravitational effects were produced by the plant life enveloping the rocks. The plants seemed to feed off gravitons like Earth plant life fed off sunlight. It might not make sense, but it was weird and cool and after all, Insomniacs is only about looking like hard sci-fi. They filled whatever remaining sample cases they had and blasted off.
I’d also made some changes to how ship time is limited. Prior to this, I’d had a single Life Support track that filled as characters did things that took significant amounts of time. It filled too quickly as player count increased. Contrary to my expectations, adding more complexity in the form of a second time track “in between” the Life Support dots helped. Downtime was no longer all or nothing, and the total amount of actions increased without becoming unlimited. Recovering their injuries from the expedition used up about 1/2 their available time and there was still enough left to scan ahead and do some routine maintenance. It worked well, although this was only our first test with the new system.
I’ve planned two more “canned” away missions for this playtest campaign that should hopefully result in the rules being finalized, then it’ll be onward to new ground as I use what we’ve learned to start generating some random exoplanet tables and fine-tuning those.