Knowing that I wanted to continue the epic story line I’d been building I’d indicated that the Inspector had gone to the opening of the mysterious Dark Sun Travels, promising instant travel around the universe without using T-Mat technology or hyper drives.
At that point I already had an idea about what Dark Sun Travels would be. As the holographic Inspector correctly guessed the title of the company referred to black holes. The idea would be that all the black holes could be linked, allowing a ship to enter one end and emerge anywhere else in the entire universe.
It wouldn’t be an adventure unless something went horribly wrong but ran into the problem that plagues any games master who comes up with an evil plan. It is only cool if he plan succeeds.
For example, if a super villain has an earthquake machine if the players destroy it before it is activated it all feels anti-climatic. Conversely if they’re powerless to stop it then you take away the player characters ability to influence the adventure.
The player characters would know that something bad would happen when Dark Sun Travels made their attempt to link up the black holes and would have to stop it. I had to think of a way to have something major happen, setting up the next part of the adventure, without restricting them.
I did consider having the TARDIS arrive too late, witnessing the terrible events and having to go back to prevent it but this would raise to many problems. I didn’t want them to think that travelling into the past to avert disaster was a legitimate option otherwise they’d do it every adventure.
Instead I decided to give them an illusion of choice. Some bad would happen but the player characters actions would determine what, letting them choose the lesser evil. Whatever choice they made their would be a high price to pay.
In order for this to work I had to eliminate any chance that they’d be able to stop Dark Sun Travel’s plan. That meant that this operation couldn’t centre on any piece of technology that the player characters could just sabotage before the big moment.
I decided that the plan was for a ship to enter a black hole, building up a charge of energy by converting the gravitational stresses placed on the vessel as it approached. Once within the black hole the energy would be released. This would ‘shock’ the black hole on a quantum level, linking it to all other black holes.
To get the player character right into the action the vessel would be the space base where the grand opening was occurring. Potential investors would be invited by the genius behind the business, Maigelus and only informed that they would be part of history as the base was launched towards the mouth of the black hole.
There would be no possibility of turning around or stopping. The player characters, and everyone else on board, were going into the black hole, what happened when they did was up to them.
In Marvel comics, when ever something really momentous is about to happen, the Watcher would appear. His mere appearance lets the reader and the comic characters know that things are about to get serious.
To convey the same feeling I drafted in the Black and White Guardian. Both would sense that the universe was threatened and for once be working together to prevent this. Arriving as Mr Raven and Mr Dove they would offer Phillipa a gift to help her prevent the end of everything.
The gifts would be powerful but mutually exclusive. She could only choose one and the choice would affect the outcome. To further give the player character control of the situation how exactly she used the gift would be up to her.
Just to reinforce that bad things were about to happen I decided that time agents from the 51st century had been sent back to stop what was about to occur. They’d failed, killed by Maigelus’s security. Phillipa could find their bodies and make use of their damaged time bands if need be.
The Time Lords would also have sent an agent. This unnamed Time Lord would have been captured by Maigelus and tortured, much of the technical workings of the space station would be based on information gained in this manner.
The Time Lord would be suspended in the lower section of the space station, the energy of his regenerations being used to augmented the power levels. The engines of the stations would beat in time to his twin heart beats. As soon as the player character realised what they were hearing they’d know a Time Lord was on board.
At this point I decided to leave the identity of this Time Lord vague. It could be the Inspector or it could be someone else. I’d only decide one way or another depending on if the player characters were able to save him.
I still needed to tie this Croatoan, other than the obvious link of the black holes, and more importantly the end of the last adventure. What did he gain from creating a black hole where Talis used to be?
Just as Croatoan had inspired the founder of the Empty Men through dreams so would he influence Maigelus, giving him the idea in the first place and giving him the questions to ask the captured Time Lord.
Although driven Maigelus truely believed that his theory would safely link the black holes into a network, benefiting mankind. Being a scientist his calculations would back up this belief.
What he couldn’t know if that Croatoan had changed things without him knowing. Maigelus’s calculations on the exact amount of energy to use would be based on recent surveys of the black holes in the area he planned to link.
The recent creation of the Talis black hole would through this calculation off, causing the network to destabilise. If something wasn’t done the whole universe would be consumed by entropy.
The options open to the player characters would be:
A. Increase the capacity of the energy convertors to get the power to stabilize the network.
Result: The extra energy would come from the suns and stars, plunging the universe into darkness. This was the first image I thought off when imaging doomsday scenarios. A new dark age that would bring about the end of all civilisations.
B. Destroy the station causing an energy spike that would punch a hole from one side of the universe, preventing the network of black holes from collapsing.
Result: Everyone on board would die and two massive black holes would appear at the entrance and exit points, swallowing up neighbouring solar systems. Billions would die, including the player characters, but the universe would be saved.
C. Using the TARDIS, Time Agent wrist bands and the holographic Inspector’s knowledge of time travel and black holes to divert the collapse into the vortex.
Result: Black holes would appear in the past, causing diverging time lines and anomalies.
To influence the decision the White Guardian would offer the gift of ‘Life’, something she could use herself or give to someone else. If need be it could save the Time Lords life or her own.
The Black Guardian would offer ‘Survival’, using the chaotic nature of the universe to allow Phillipa to survive anything, at least once.
With everything in place what happened next was up to the player characters.
To Be Continued…