With convention season upon us, I find myself randomly thinking about the various things you see at conventions and often to the various ways in which they have been portrayed on screen. I am Randal, and this week’s Terraforming is going to be very spoofy at its heart.
With both The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones coming to an end, I have started thinking about other shows that have or have portrayed “nerdy” things. Futurama did a wonderful homage to Star Trek in the episode “Where No Fan Has Gone Before” in which Fry and most of the cast of the original Star Trek series is stranded on a planet and forced to participate in an endless Star Trek convention at their captor’s whim. Combining this concept with cruise ship idea from The Fifth Element and I think we have an idea that we can have a ton of fun with. Because I am referring to a convention about “future” sci-fi elements (Star Trek is the future to our reality) but we are playing in a sci-fi game (in which our reality would be the distant past) I would personally love to see a closure of the loop (to turn a phrase) by having the convention be about ancient, historical Golarion. By sprinkling in a few bits and pieces of information from previous episodes, we can quickly build the framework of a fun (with plenty of room for silly) adventure location (or series of locations).
GM Note. Psst. Hey. It’s me from after finishing this writing. I started with the thoughts above and it became less and less about silly convention goers. That’s what I enjoy about writing locations and adventures, they change. Don’t worry, I added another bit.
The Known. To celebrate the success of Little Golarion, World Builders Intergalactic (WBI) decided to take the show to the stars. They used the same technology behind their mobile sports arenas to build one of the largest cruise ships ever attempted, and then they themed the entire experience after Little Golarion. During the maiden voyage of the vessel (named MoGo I), the vessel’s Drift engine faltered before ultimately activating strangely, which caused a minor explosion and left debris. The MoGo I was never heard from again.
The Rumors. Some say that the smugglers, pirates, or worse were waiting in the Drift for MoGo I while others say that the crew on board were at fault … but all of these theories involve theft and destruction of the evidence. Some think the Drift Engine’s falter ultimately destroyed the ship instead of activating while some think the ship was transported too far away to properly return using Drift Beacons.
The Reality. Due to the size and mass that it carried, WBI was forced to engineer a new special Drift Engine, which required a number of modifications to the power grid. Running behind schedule and unwilling to take the PR hit of a late maiden voyage, they opted to have the ship’s drive fail and leave them in system where they could “debug the issue” all the while finishing the final touches. When it was activated, the drive did fail, but in doing so made itself a beacon of sorts, a beacon that indicated a slice of reality from the prime material should be torn free and added to the Drift. The act of doing that took the ship (slicing off a primary communications array and part of the Drift Engine) with that slice of reality and shunted it to the far reaches of the Drift, without the ability to hail anybody nor jump to a beacon.
GM Reality. It really doesn’t matter how the ship got lost. Heck, it doesn’t matter if the ship even is lost. Adding these pieces to the puzzle, for me personally, helps my brain to get behind the types of people that might be involved. I know who created this and why, therefore I have an idea of the passengers they would have targeted. I have an idea of the rumors, and thus some idea of the types of news stories that would have been legitimately told, created by conspiracy theorists, or used for cover ups. Tying in the nature of the Drift is a fun way to anchor this into the fundamentals of the game we are playing.
The MoGo I. The ship itself is still intact, but is stranded in the Drift without proper navigational systems due to the faulty equipment’s malfunction. The primary system was fried, the secondary system was sheared off, and the tertiary system is unknown and requires one of the primary engineers to access it, none of whom are aboard. The long range communications array was also damaged and so they are simply traveling in the hopes of finding an inhabited location. For reasons unknown to them, the communication and divination magic they have available to them has been unable to properly function beyond the vessel. The vessel’s shape is a prolate spheroid (American Football) with fully one third of the exterior a dome that can be made transparent. The “surface world” is situated under the dome to provide a starry sky during the observed “night” hours. A combo of magic and tech creates the illusion of a sun crossing the sky during the “day” hours. Designed to be self-sustaining, it can provide a home to those on board barring any catastrophic damage to the hull itself.
The Crew. The crew is a combination of beings with souls (primarily the pilots, security, and medical professionals) and highly sophisticated animatronics, some of which have AIs that rival the sentient beings that are both crew and passenger.
- Pilots. Upon becoming lost, the captain and his staff (originally 20 individuals) have tried to learn everything they can about the ship from the few engineers aboard in hopes of finding something that will let them fix, patch, or hack together what has been lost. They spend most of their time working at this out of their sense of duty. Over the years, a dozen have given up and joined the passengers.
- Engineers. Knowing it was their fault, three of the six engineers worked with the pilots while the other three hid among the passengers. The helpful three died due to accidents during attempts to fix the ship, while the others haven’t been found yet. One is fearful of the other two, as they coerced him into skipping design steps. The other two simply want to keep their heads on their necks as they know they are to blame for this all.
- Security. With access to the weaponry, some of the less scrupulous of the security team tried to seize power through force. The ensuing battles took a toll on both the souls and the tools of their trade. Ultimately they went their different ways when only a third of them were left and they were evenly matched for firepower. Over the years their tempers have mellowed, there is generally little need for armed warfare, and they operate as rangers/hunters when dealing with the livestock.
- Medics. True to their nature, they tend to go where they are needed, although one particular android medic has taken it upon himself to personally ensure the captain and his pilots are in tip top shape.
- AIs. Designed to be realistic (but not particularly deadly) denizens of Golarion, these crew members can be bartenders, bankers, dire boars or dragons. With no connection to the reality of their situation, and no soul with which to change their outlook, they continue on as they have been programmed. There are of course, a few times a year, glitches that mean some rogue AI has to be put down.
The Passengers. The passengers are from all walks of life but have one thing in common. They are all on the rich side of the scale. This was meant to be a showing of who had the most money to throw away on the most lavish rooms, gifts, and services. As this was meant to be extravagant and gaudy, they all decided to play the part of an individual from Golarion’s history, personality, costume, and all. At first, they were ignorant of the trouble they were in and made a game of staying in character longer than those around them. Eventually, they realized what had happened and became lost for quite some time. With the exception of the heads of two rival religious sects that formed among them, most of the passengers finally settled into and endless life of leisure aboard their new home.
I could go on, but at this point you see where I am taking it. The crew should provide a variety of options for conflict, as should the rival religious leaders. There is ample room for tech breakdown, AI breakdown, or simple intercommunication breakdown to ruffle feathers and cause a scare.
What sorts of adventures, misadventures, plots and stories would you like to see come out of this? Let me know what you think! Please continue to join us at our Discord server https://discord.gg/Rt79BAj.