Modempunk isn't the only thing I'm up to this year for NaNoWriMo. It's what I planned on and researched for. However I'd started on a 'what if these people started playing D&D'. Granted it isn't the usual campaign, but this is back in the hairy old days of Tipper Gore and her Moral Crusade against the Satanic Tabletop Gaming Menace.
So let's have a look at a B story. Cringe at what gets flung around.
World of Wonder
The Ship from Beyond the Stars Vs. The Warlock Terror
"So wait?" Elizabeth looked across the table at Max. "It's your idea to drag everyone here, wrote up the campaign complete with detailed notes and NPC characterization, and you're not playing?" She looked somewhere between perplexed and angry. "What gives?"
It was only after he finished his coke when Max answered, which irritated Elizabeth further since, well... who likes being made to wait? "OK 'everyone' being eight people so far, maybe a few more but I kinda doubt it."
Skeptical look. "You told the whole club your dad was going to be out for the weekend. Everyone's gonna show."
"Anyway I'm sitting out since I don't want to hog the spotlight and Copper wanted to have a go DMng." Max's voice sounded somewhat defensive before he gestured over to Copper. "Right?"
Up till now Copper had been hiding behind a binder full of handwritten notes, stickfigure monsters, glued on pictures, and a few printer pages scattered here and there. "Argument's between you two. I'm staying out of it."
Doorbell rang. Somebody else answered moments before a voice shouted back, "Hey Max Pizza. Guy wants money!"
"How much?" Max got up and started for the door.
"Uh," Pause, "Seventy!"
Pause. Max's expression darkened before he looked over at Elizabeth. "OK, Guy's about twenty minutes late. Pay, no pay?"
"Five bucks off each pizza."
"Yea but their commercials said-" Max started to protest before being cut off with a look.
"It comes out of the driver's check when they're late."
"Uh...oh..." Max sighed. "Right then." One Wallet-pull and money-count later he was helping Alyssa (who he didn't know all that well, but hey she was on the books so she got a slot in the party) carry food in.
With everyone either feeding or already fed Max turned to Copper and raised an eyebrow. "Well hey what's the big plan now?" He slid into the recliner his dad normally sat in and looked from where Copper lounged to the Blank TV. "You ready, or you want me to put a movie in?"
"Nah. I'm good." Copper didn't sound 'good', but he pulled out several character sheets. "Get everyone together and we'll do this."
With a grin Max got to his feet. "LISTEN UP! Anyone in on Copper's first campaign get your butts in the den right now. Everyone else is either free to watch or since I've seen a couple people bring their own hardware, set up in my room." He paused, thinking about this for a minute before adding, "I find anyone doing the horizontal mambo, or trashing the place they clean it up then they're out, with my foot up their asses if I have to."
There were a few grumbled voices but on the whole nobody seemed to object too much at the rules, especially since they'd all signed agreements saying much the same thing at school. Granted Max didn't much care who was doing who, but some things you just didn't do when at somebody else's house.
* * *
The Tesla is a lone Protectorate Science Vessel out in what is charitably considered the backwater reaches of the Far Arm of the Galaxy. It's largely automated save for a number of researchers, a skeleton crew to oversee ship functions, and it is currently being pulled towards an E class world
"Wait," Elizabeth looked up from her character sheet. "E-Class? I thought were were going for Star Trek's system."
Copper shook his head, "Even Trek wasn't consistent. So I'm scrapping it. E for Earth-class. Sure it's human-centric but according to Max's setting notes there is no other intelligent life. Just humans and human-derivatives."
"Oh" Elizabeth sighed. "Right, sorry for breaking narrative."
Copper smiled, "That's alright. We're getting to the bits where the dice get rolled and you guys figure out how to keep from dying."
"Yay." sarcasm dripped from Terry. "All aboard the GM Railroad Express.
"Ma'am it's the damndest thing." Ensign Rio looked from his console to the Captain. "Considering Orbit, relative mass, and our current heading I can't explain it, but my board's acting like we're in stalemate with whatever's pulling us in."
The captain considered her options. "Tractor beam?"
The heavily cybridized crew member manning the bridge's tactical station shook his head. "Negative. The world itself appears largely uninhabited, at least going by the structures showing on sensors. Primitive un-reinforced masonry for the most part. Largest settlements appear to contain only a million inhabitants at most." There was a pause before he added. "Assuming their civilization follows the same basic population densities as similar 'back to basics' Terran colonies."
The captain quirked an eyebrow. "Who put the chief of our research compliment in charge of tactical?" Her console beeped and flashed a message across a display mounted in the arm. "Nevermind." Dismissive wave of the hand as she considered options. "Engineering reports the more power we feed to the engines the stronger the pull becomes."
Rio looked unsurprised. "Matches what I've gotten from wrestling our way free."
There were glances around between Tactical, Rio, The Captain and several others on the bridge.
Headshake from Rio. "Might work, but if whatever's pulling us down there can compensate we're slamming ourselves nose first into the planet fast enough to pretty well ruin the local ecosystem."
"As opposed to just coasting in pretty as you please for whoever's waiting?" The Captain's voice was a bitter rebuke. "That wans't a request. That was an order."
"Aye Ma'am." Rio's fingers danced as he plotted a complex course of action. Granted they were hundreds of thousands of miles away, but once they stopped opposing the pull on them and started going with the proverbial flow it would take only moments to act.
The wonders of 22nd Century technology letting him get away with doing this.
It should have worked. Between the tug carrying them through the system and the power of the ship's engines they should have built up enough momentum to pass the failure point of anything that could influence their ship's course from that far out.
Elizabeth and Terry both throw wadded up paper at Copper who batted both away. "look, you botched your Diplomacy check," He pointed to Elizabeth. "That and even if you had I would've only advised Terry that Ensign Rio should do as the Captain suggested. You," He pointed ot Terry. "I can't help it that you botched three skill checks in a row to try keeping your ship out of a nosedive. I let the dice do the deciding on things like this, and it's not looking good guys."
The Tesla survived; barely and by a generous stretch of the world 'survival' to mean 'One person in twenty weren't killed on impact with the planet's surface.' This was less due to navigator error or the ship and, sadly, almost completely their fault for not paying attention to the 'we're about to crash into a planet so please buckle up' signs.
How much later?
The ship's Chrono broke and everyone's personal clocks disagree so it's impossible to tell exactly.
Survivors found that the crew compartment of the ship. The big bulgy thing that looked like it was glommed on top of the research decks forward of engineering. Yes that thing. It survived largely intact. It even was, in theory, able to get off the planet under it's own power.
Well it would except for a couple things, and both are kindof important. The tractor-beam or whatever it was that pulled them here was still active, still resisting the ship's drive. More importantly the ship's primary computer was gone so even if the drive could work unhindered they'd be unable to enter slipspace.
How was the computer taken? It was just gone. Just the computer. No holes, no debris no nothing suggesting anything entered the ship, or it got thrown from the ship during the crash. There was just a computer shaped hole.