Saturday, 15 August 2015

A murder mystery in space - Talathen sector campaign RPG update.

Instead of the normal "mission report" style for RPG reports, i'll talk about this session a little differently. 

When we created the setting, I asked my players for four "events" they really wanted to see happen. They were

  • A massive tech breakthrough
  • A plague or epidemic to occur
  • The "second battle of the boneyard"
  • A classic "whodunnit" mystery
This roleplaying game session was the "whodunnit mystery" and borrowed from a few sources heavily, mostly "cluedo" and the Blakes 7 episode "Mission to Destiny"

I essentially took this episode and rewrote it for the setting. Major core elements of the story, the stun gas, an inside job, the dead pilot, a missing crew member and missing life rocket were shamelessly stolen. Where I changed the story was in the framing, instead of the crew stumbling on to a random ship in space, it was a preset meeting. And instead of a valuable commodity being the "MacGuffin" I made it a high ranking Luxon officer who had gone rogue and was contemplating joining the rebellion. 

I also added in considerably more complexity to the clues as well and removed the really obvious pointers in the story. So while I used the episode as the story core, i wanted to up the difficulty in the mystery and cut out a lot of short cuts (Personally, the letters written in blood clue in the original is so obvious I had to bin it as my players would see right through it)

The premise

Our crew were asked to meet with Oleg Thrax, hero of the first Battle of the boneyard and a major Luxon leader in exile. His camp lost the political struggle that allowed Kallista Vox to become the leader of the Luxon militia. In recent times, after viewing the successes of the rebellion, he decided he might return to help. Although well known for his ruthless military style and discipline, he is a hero in the sector and a man people can rally around. 

One of our player characters is Kallista's older brother, a combat surgeon and veteran solider. He was picked to represent the alliance as he knew Oleg personally, and Oleg hates diplomats and "soft" bureaucrats. 

The team was asked to rendezvous on Samoth, on a remote island. There they were asked by a protocol droid to enter a shuttle and be taken to pre-programmed coordinates. The shuttle was heavily modified and it's navigation and hyperspace systems were locked down and wielded shut. 

The Ship

The ship they were visiting was an unusual design I came up with. The left side of the ship is a massive deployable storage area and the engineering section and habitats. The right side is the entire command and services area, including the bridge, medbay, armoury and hangar. 

The ship was dead in space when the team arrived. Nominal lighting and power on, and not responding to communications, although the hangar doors were open.

Our force sensitive player got a terrible feeling about the hangar, so they docked at the auxiliary airlock on the left side of the ship

Stepping on-board I had the doctor roll medicine to detect the smell of "anaestathen gas" in the air. One triumph later, the good doctor smelled the gas, found an oxygen mask sotrage unit by the airlock and had handed them out. They then began to explore the dark and empty ship

The Crew (Cluedo)

Coming up with names for characters that people can remember is pretty tricky. So what I did was cheat. Each character wore an old luxon uniform, with branch of service in a coloured band on their shoulders, similar in style to star trek Voyager, as shown here. 

The names were borrowed directly from Cluedo, as we were doing a "whodunnit" it seemed perfect :) People remember names like Colonel Mustard a lot easier than normal Star War names.

The crew were as follows

Oleg Thrax, the Beast, the Hero of the Boneyard, Captain. 

Oleg is intended to be a recurring character, so he got a real name. He was found unconscious in his captains ready room with two puncture marks in his neck.
While everyone else was unconcious from the gas in the air, he was doubly drugged with an additional heavy duty drug that could only have come from med bay. Dr Vox examined him and decided that waking him up early might kill him. (And, with such a forceful personality in mind for this character, I did want him out of the picture while they investigated, and the offender really, really, didn't want him waking up early)

Commander Scarlet, Chief Flight officer and 2IC

Scarlet was a middle aged red headed women who was found asleep in her quarters in her bed. I described her as looking a lot like Beverly Crusher from Star Trek, but less "Professional and maternal" and more "Commanding and overtly sexual".

Lt Pink, Flight Officer

As a junior flight officer, the hue of his rank colours was a pinker red that the bright scarlet of his commanding officer. Pink was found on the flight deck, bludgeoned to death by a fire extinguisher. He had not fallen asleep during the gas attack, because Scarlet closed the vents as she didn't like the "breeze" on the flight deck.

Lt Colonel Mustard, Ship Security

Colonel Mustard was found in a very suspicious place and position. He was found, unconscious with a pillow, magazines and some vials of narcotics. His ID and security cards were missing.

Although initially a top suspect, it was revealed that his drug use for pain had become a problem, and that he occasionally "shot up" in private on his off hours. While his failure as a security officer allowed the offender to his security credentials, he was ruled out quickly as a "sad case" more than a criminal mastermind. 

Commander Green, Chief Engineer

Green was found inside an access panel in engineering unconscious. He was near where the gas bottle pumping gas into the air system was located. Green was an unusual chap, when revived he seemed strangely calm and matter of fact about things. He answered every question honestly,but in a way that left our investigators feeling uneasy. The rest of the crew suggested he was a loner and a recluse. 

Digging into his character revealed some giant traumas during the battle of the boneyard. Green was a recluse due to PTSD and his reclusive nature was due to losing his entire engineering crew there.

He remained a top candidate during the investigation, due to his access, detachment and where he was found. 

Dr White, Medical Officer

Dr White was found unconscious on the floor in medbay, which looked like it had been ransacked. When revived, Dr White proved herself to be quite an arrogant pretentious perfectionist and martinet. She claimed that medbay was not ransacked when she fell unconscious, and that she had passed out while searching for her rebreather when she smelled gas.

White pointed the finger first at Lime, who was missing and then Green because he was "weird". The team discarded her as a suspect, mostly due to the mistake made when injecting the commander, which she considered "sloppy and imperfect" and the team agreed. 

Lt Blue, Communications Officer

Lt Blue was found in her quarters on her bed fully clothed. Lt Commander Plum was found in her quarters sitting at a small dinner table by a half eaten meal. Lt Blue said that Plum and her were in a "discrete liaison" and were having dinner during their off hours. She said she felt very sleepy, but does not remember going to her bed.

As Communications Officer, she also mentioned some irregularities in the comms system that she hadn't reported to the Captain. She said that due to her relative lack of experience she had kept it quiet as she tried to figure it out, so as to not appear incompetent. 

Although the team did discover the Communications irregularities, they didn't dig deep enough to discover that it was her login that made the changes to the system. 

Blue was a reasonable suspect as, under pressure, she revealed that her relationship with a senior officer was for self-advancement. That, and she had the skills required to do the job. 

Lt Lime, Engineer

Lt Lime was the top suspect for the first half of the investigation for one major reason. He was missing, and an escape pod was missing. Lt lime had the skills to sabotage the ship, but the crew were adamant that he was "A fine young man".

Suspicion was removed when his body was found in the cargo hold under a tarpaulin (It's a tarp!), a short distance away from the door to engineer. A detailed scan of the area found tiny traces of blood and his injuries were consistent with a short range blaster bolt to the back of the neck.  

The Droid

Not long after Lime's body was discovered, the team began to suspect that there was a stowaway on-board, so decided to investigate the crawl spaces of the ventilation system. During this investigation, they found a small armed hover-droid floating through the vents.

This droid escaped capture for a while, moving all over the ship, before finally being cornered and destroyed. But not before it delivered a small package to the offender. 

Commander Plum, Third Officer

Commander Plum was a science officer by trade but also a generalist. In his role as third officer on the ship he manned the sensors on the bridge, and also acting as a backup medical officer.

He was found in Blues quarters and admitted feeling drowsy when Blue passed out, he placed her on the bed before passing out himself.

He admitted being in a relationship with Blue and mentioned that he was separated from his wife and family. A detailed study of the captains personnel files revealed that while he was separated from his wife, they were still close and that he kept in contact with his son.  

During the confusion involving the droid, Plum managed to get into the security room (which had been locked) and bolted himself in. 

How it was done

Plum was being blackmailed by the Empire. They had taken his estranged wife and his son and had threatened to kill them if he did not deliver the Captain to them.

He used his personal relationship with Blue to get superuser access to the communications system, and put a coded transmission to repeat the ships location on a sub-channel. 

He took White's rebreather from medbay while she was off duty and stored it in his work bag.

He then placed a sedative in Blue's drink and waited for her to pass out. So she was asleep before the gas was delivered. 

Knowing that enginnering was not on a 24 hour roster, he picked a time when both Lime and Green were off duty and placed the gas bottle in the air filtration system. He was surprised by Lime wearing a rebreather when he left engineering and, when Lime was talking to him, his droid his shot him. Lime then began to drag his body away.

The Green appeared from his quarters so Plum had to hide quickly. He hid Limes body in the cargo bay and followed Green to engineering but found him passed out in the ventilation shaft. 

Plum then found Mustard in the Storage Shed where he knew he would be and took his security pass.

From there he went to Med bay and got the drugs needed to dope up the Captain. Due to Mustard's drug use, White had moved their location so he had to search quickly to find them, making a mess in the process. 

From there he went to the bridge, finding Pink still conscious. Without a blaster of his own, he had to use the fire extinguisher to beat him to death. He then trashed the bridge controls. 

After that, he went to the captain's room. And while he was medically trained, his hands were shaking violently from the brutal murder he had committed, so he made a mistake giving him the strong sedative, leaving two marks on the Captains neck.

Knowing the player characters were on the way, he went to the armoury and grabbed explosives. He wired the hangar doors to explode when they closed once a ship docked.

Having some time, he changed uniforms in the shower/laundry to remove the blood spatter from killing pink.

Seeing that the player characters had not used the Hangar, he panicked and took his dirty uniform and placed it in the escape pod and fired it. he then returned the mask to medbay and quickly rushed to Blue's quarters to pass out from the gas. 


When the Captain woke up, he was not pleased. 

A fake "Imperial boarding action" was staged to convince him to leave the security room, where he was apprehended. The Beast wanted to execute him immediately, but negotiated with the characters to have him stand trial instead.

Oleg Drax agreed to join the rebellion on the condition that the people of Luxon receive a referendum on joining a New Republic or being independent if they win. He brings with him a Nebulon B frigate and two Corellian Corvettes.

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