I wanted my next adventure to be set on an alien world, a first for the players. I’d recently read an interesting article in New Scientist about how a moon entering the orbit of a planet in the opposite direction of its rotation could drag the planet to a halt.
The effect would be that night and day would only occur as the planet moved around the sun. The day side would be far too hot and the night side would be far too cold. Life would have to learn to migrate around the planet, following either the dawn or twilight bands.
This was immediately a fascinating scenario to explore. The natives of the planet would move in groups, gathering resources and occasionally meeting with other clans to trade. At the time of the adventure they’ve created huge carriers, similar to the sand crawlers from Star Wars, slowly moving ahead of the night.
The obvious thing to do was have one of the carriers break down, stranding them in the night zone. To make it even more important for the player characters to become involved in the rescue attempt another carrier would be in desperate need of the supplies on the broken carrier.
To add further danger there would be monsters in the night zone, feeding on the animals that fall behind. Thematically they represent the fear of the things that lurk in the shadows and the bogeymen that haunt the night.
The start of the adventure would see the TARDIS materialize on Carrier 3, learn that they needed food from Carrier 5 which had failed to meet up with them. Investigating the player characters would learn that it had broken down and join the rescue party.
A rescue party was important to add NPCs would could provide information about the setting, use skills that the player characters didn’t have and offer different options to them. In addition they could provide cannon fodder, allowing the monsters to demonstrate how deadly they were without having to kill a player character.
Time would be a factor. The longer they stayed in the carrier the colder it would become and the further they’d have to travel to get back to Carrier 3. They’d need to be quick finding survivors and remember that each person would take up room that could be used to take supplies back to Carrier 3.
The game started with The Inspector and Phillipa exploring Carrier 3. This was an interesting section as they tried to work out why all these people were onboard the ship and why they were so afraid of night.
The natives looked human apart from extra breathing holes running down the back of the neck which was often concealed by long hair or high collars. This helped the time travellers to blend in.
I made it clear that the carrier and the population on board were constantly patching things up. Clothes were worn and had clearly been stitched and repaired time and time again. People crowded the corridors and sometimes there were two families living in a single small room.
Their information gathering was done under the guise of carrying out a survey for the captain of the ship. This let the Inspector live up to his name. They had to pose their questions in such a way as not to raise suspicion.
Once they’d established that clans would live for generations on the carriers and that rations were in short supply because they’d failed to meet up with Carrier 5 they bluffed their way on to the bridge of the carrier, claiming they had information about the missing carrier.
They arrived just as the bridge crew received a transmission from the missing carrier, explaining that they had broken down and were in the night zone. The Inspector wanted co-ordinates and when they weren’t provided attempted to find it using triangulation (despite the fact that wasn’t possible with only one receiver).
Undeterred the Inspector made a bee line for the TARDIS, hoping to track the signal from the Carrier and make a short trip there. He even dragged an engineer from the carrier, Vickis, to help tune into the frequency.
This was the worst case scenario and indicated that my warnings about being to reliant on the TARDIS had gone unheeded. If he was allowed to use the TARDIS the issue of limited space would be completely lost, an conceivably the time limit would be meaningless as well since he could always just make a trip back to Carrier 3.
Luckily I’d established that they’d had to climb up several decks to reach the bridge and so the trip back down took just long enough for the transmission to end. When they returned to the bridge they learnt that before the transmission had ended they’d reported breaches which the captain dismissed as nonsense since nothing could live in the night.
They quickly volunteered to join the search party. They’d be driven by Dee, a scout who normally drove her buggy ahead of the carrier to look for resources and who had a brother on Carrier 5. Self proclaimed warrior Olonis would provide security, scientist and doctor Nal would provide medical help to any survivors and Vickis would see if the missing carrier could be repaired.
The over use of the TARDIS continued with the time travellers not only getting insulating winter clothes, which is fine, but also taking with them heaters and a portable energy source.
We roleplayed the ride into darkness, noting the herds of animals migrating towards the sun and giving them time to get to know the other members of the search party. They were already feeling the cold as they found the wreck of the Carrier 5, its doors pulled off. With the temperature cooling they advanced towards it in the middle of a terrible storm.
Olonis was the first to end the dark, empty corridors, a stark contrast to the cramped quarters on Carrier 3. The Inspector and Phillipa spent time helping the others climb up, as well as hoisting up the extra equipment they’d brought with them.
Just as they were entering the carrier they heard Olonis scream in horror and fire his weapon several times. Dee wanted to rescue him but Inspector held her back, coldly saying there was nothing they could do to save him as he continued to scream for several minutes before falling silent.
Nal wanted to head to the cargo bay to secure the food rations, Dee wanted to search the living quarters for survivors and Vickis suggested they go to the bridge to check on the status of the carrier. The Inspector decided they should follow Vickis’s suggestion first.
There they found a bloody mess and encounter the monsters which had come on board, the Seekers. Humanoid but travelling on all fours with clawed hands and feet the Seekers hunted by sound and smell alone, lacking eyes.
The creature padded into the room as the search party struggled to keep silent. Unable to keep quiet any longer Vickis let out a whimper, alerting the monster to his presence. The group only had moments to act before it found him.
To Be Continued….