GM’s Log, Stardate 98712.94. Angstrom Base has been compromised by what appears to be a newly discovered and invasive species. Initial analysis indicates that this single-celled parasite is not native to Dran’Ankos, though its presence has devastated this research post. The Away Team’s primary mission — secure the base’s research and ensure that Federation technology does not fall into Cardassian hands — increasingly seems to be their only mission, as the hope of finding survivors in the base dwindles by the hour.

The Team continued to search the habitation deck of Angstrom Base. The living quarters of the facility were literal quarters: three habitation blocks and a fourth block containing the mess hall. Agreeing to be thorough, the Team checked as many apartments for survivors as they were able; most were empty, but in some they found the bodies of several base staff who appear to have been killed while they slept. Whatever creature was responsible for the infections had not reached every member of the base which, under other conditions, might be a cause for expediency, but since the only survivors the Team had encountered thus far had been suffering from the degenerative neurological effects of the parasite, finding unaffected survivors was increasingly unlikely.

Two more scientists were encountered in the north hall. One was oblivious to everything around him and was slamming his head repeatedly into the wall while the other seemed preoccupied with a knife he was using to dig into his upper arm. Assuming the element of surprise and feeling that nn-lethal take-downs were in the scientist’s best interest, Clark Robertson opened fire on the first scientist. His careful Aim allowed him to focus his fire and successfully stun the first scientist. Similarly, Maylox managed to incapacitate the other scientist without any further incident.

Further down, the Team found the facility’s mess hall, but was unprepared for the scene that they found outside. Several scientists had created a makeshift barricade around the hall’s western entrance where they had made a last stand. All of those within the barricade showed signs of death by phaser fire while the few bodies outside the barricade had apparently died from more physical violence. None of those within the barricade showed any signs of parasitic infection or neural degradation, while those outside the barriers were in full neural melt-down.

The sound of falling metal could be heard from inside the mess hall. Flack Canaan, security specialist, entered first, in time to see an Andorian scientist wrestling with what looked to be a flat, cellular organism. As the Team piled into the hall, the creature detached itself, slapping the floor with a wet thwap, and slid away into a ground-level ventilation hatch. Obviously in the throes of the neurological distress, the Andorian grabbed a nearby kitchen knife and charged at Flack. With a violent altercation imminent, Flack opted to shoot to kill, hitting the angry scientist but not well enough to take him out. The Andorian tried to tackle Flack, but only caught him with a glancing blow. Clark took this opportunity to open fire on the scientist but in the low-light his shot went wide, slicing into a concealed gas line that ignited a ring of fire around the room. Maylox fired and connected with the scientist. Halstat opted to try something different: grabbing a portable fire extinguisher, he blinded the target which allowed Flack to finally terminate the Andorian. The Team quickly evacuated the mess hall as it continued to burn.

Feeling that they had expended opportunities on this floor, the Team opted to use the Jeffries tubes to reach the third and top floor of the dark side of the base. After a few minutes of crawling through darkened corridors, they happened upon a difficult sight: dozens of parasites were crowding at the end of a junction. While still undetected, the Team tried to determine why this point of the base was such a hot-spot for the creatures, but the only information they could determine was that the organisms seemed to be communicating via low-level electrical signals. Inching slowly past the pile of creatures, the Team continued, only to find both a dead end and another gathering of the parasites. This time, the creatures began to slide through the tubes towards the party, forcing them to retreat to an access panel leading to the third floor.

The top floor of the base housed the administrative staff and the operations control room. The hatch that the Team exited through deposited them into the quarters of Chief Scientist V’Tol, a fact that Clark discerned from the green-bloodied and torn tunic that lay on the bed. Halstat managed to hack into V’Tol’s personal PADD to discover the man’s personal recordings, revealing a deteriorating state of mind that ended with the ominous declaration “The pain is clarity. The clarity is purpose. I know what I must do.”

Shortly after the Team entered operations to find the worst scene thus far. A battle had obviously taken place. Phaser fire marred the walls and floors, blood stains covered almost every surface, and the large plate-windows that looked out across the giant crater upon which the base was situated showed signs of fatigue. Only two bodies were present, though: Security Chief Elora Welgin, eviscerated at the command console, and an unidentifiable male whose face had been obliterated by phaser fire. With Maylox’s help, Halstat dug through the operation’s terminal to uncover logs regarding the final days of the base. The main power failed due to a rupture in the stellar gas holding tank which caused an environmental shutdown in engineering. Further reading revealed that the research tank rupture was due to over-pressurization, listing the source as the “Stellar Inversion Drive”.

As Halstat was scanning the burned corpse by the window, the plate glass began to crack. The Team quickly attempted to retreat to the engineering wing in the hopes of evading the coming depressurization, but scans revealed that the whole of the bay was flooded with ionized gas. Opting to regroup safely, everyone piled into V’Tol’s quarters and sealed operations. Estimates indicated that this wing of the facility would depressurize in two hours.

+ + +

This week we were joined by Flack who was unable to join us last week due to work concerns.

The habitation level was a bit larger than I think it should have been. It was meant to serve two purposes only: to provide the module’s first taste of combat, and to introduce the parasite in medbay and in the mess hall. On a lesser scale, I suppose it also should lead the players to understand that not all of the scientists were infected, and that some were attempting to fight for their lives against their fellow researchers who had.

This team is extremely thorough. Initially they opted to search every apartment block which I assume was an attempt to find survivors or some clues as to what happened. Really, their repeated scans for life signs have only revealed “crazed scientists” and these “squishy pancakes” so door-to-door searching and “scan everything” approach slowing things down a bit. The “what happened” has already been pieced together mainly through the discoveries in the medbay. At this point, the goal is to find the base’s research. As both finding survivors and finding additional information is now a diminishing return, I nudged the team away from investigating the last apartment block in the hopes of hinting that deconstructing the whole facility to a cellular level isn’t going to hand them the answers they think they are missing.

The scene in the mess hall was a bit of a learning experience. The Andorian there would have gotten blasted immediately had he not acted, but he had no ranged weapon so I opted to have him barrel across the room and try and tackle Flack who had just shot at him. Since this was off-the-cuff I didn’t have the official rules on sprinting or tackling so I decided that sprinting would be 2x standard movement — we are using D&D movement rules because STA uses “hippie rules” for movement which suck — and allow the only action thereafter to be “slamming into some object”. On some level I thought that maybe Flack should be able to react, like gabbing the Andorian and throwing him since he was off-balance, but I need to see if the rules have some official say on these matters before I codify any house-rules.

Also, Clark rolled two 20s when attempting to shoot at the Andorian. This resulted in two complications but since I have a hard time coming up with meaningful roadblocks for the players, I figured that since there wasn’t a lot of conditional danger in a kitchen that maybe there are some gas lines (yes, they still cook with gas on distant planets in the 24th century, suck it). Setting the room on fire upped the standard difficulty for tasks from 2 to 3.

Activities in the Jeffries tubes are complete fabrication; there’s nothing in the module that even talks about them except to say that they can be used to move between floors, maybe, if you want. Since one of the creatures had slid into a vent, I figured that maybe they were congregating somewhere (though not ONLY there…) and the tubes made sense. It also helped corral this group when they looked to be spending too much time exploring a map that’s really only there as a road-block to slow things down.

The players are in a very difficult spot right now. The windows were distressed according to the module itself, but the breaking of the window was a complication triggered by a 20 rolled by Halstat when investigating the burned body. I have no viable correlation between the scan and the breaking window except that maybe the scan harmonics agitated the already weak glass? Star Trek means that so long as the babble is suitably technical enough, it’s viable. But there are two problems: the only way into engineering is through operations, and the only way to the primary research facility it through the tram lines, which also can only be accessed through operations. The current plan, then, is to find a quick way back down to the warehouse, rummage around for environmental suits, and return to the operations floor to survive depressurization of that entire wing. This is going to require some good “treknobabble” as the players will be attempting to hotwire the turbolift which currently has no power.

Honestly, I am becoming less of a fan of Star Trek Adventures the more I actually put it into practice. The rules book is a hot mess. I went to Reddit to ask for some basic rules clarifications, which is not something I should have had to have done. This system is too flighty for it’s own good, with things like “zones” in combat dictating how movement works. A “zone” is literally “whatever you want”, meaning it could be a closet or it could be a football field, and the movement rules (for example) are the same for both. Also, I’m finding it hard to look up information. The index is 75% references to Star Trek trivia and not the actual rules, and when I had to look up how to deal with cover and concealment, I found it — in the section about starship combat near the back of the book. At this point I’m of half a mind to chuck most of the rules out the window and just wing it as we go, because I think even if I were half asleep I could probably come up with rules more coherent than some of these.

1 Comment

  • A.Beth

    February 20, 2021 - 10:53 PM

    Ah, thank goodness someone else thinks the rulebook is… a thing. (I’m currently going “yes, you have some nice, sleek rules here, very interesting, I see how you’re trying to emulate the cinematic… and then you go clutter them up randomly with fiddly detail.”) I’m going to make a go at running this episode, and was extremely upset to find nothing but a paltry fragment of map. So I’ve gone looking for other stuff, since creating maps is MY BANE, and want to *thank you so much* for having anything better.

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