A Nod to Asimov and the Doctor!

Last night saw part two of the Classic Traveller exploration of what happened to the crew deep in space.  Some of it saw some resolution due to the revelation of a few mysteries that came up in the first game of this nature.  I do believe that one more session should provide a complete resolution to the scenario.  I was very happy last night as I had planned these games to be a nod to a couple of my favourite science fiction influences.  Asimov and Doctor Who.

What a visionary!

The first influence was Asimov.  I had decided to use the first classic adventure framework CT A01 The Kinunir as a basis for what would happen in this empty space.  I did not want the players to simply have jumped into this space and end up dying because of life support problems or lack of food.  Not to mention the fact that I did not want them all to jump into deep freeze in the hope that they would one day be discovered.  In the adventure framework they detail the Kinunir ship that went missing as an adventure and the players find out that the ships AI took over and killed the crew.  An interesting premise but a little too simplistic for me.  It screamed at me I Robot of Asimov and that the AI had taken a completely different path based on the three rules of robotics which I have also decided to apply to AI’s.  The rules, if you have been living under a rock, are:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
I Robot, by the way, is nothing like the Will Smith movie.  if you have not read it I suggest you do.  It is actually a number of short stories that show these laws in action and what the logical implications of them may be.  I was always keen to do something around this style and here was my perfect opportunity.  But of course, me being me meant I added a twist into the tail of this mission.

So the base premise to this mission is they come across an AI that is following these three laws, though this has resulted in an untenable situation.  Historically speaking this ship went missing (off sensors) a little over 20 years ago and was never heard of since (apparently).  I had to come up with what happened for the ship to disappear.  This was a relatively easy decision to come to and I decided that the ship had gone missing due to a mis-jump.  What caused the mis-jump was due to an error of the Captain who was intoxicated at the time.  The ship appeared four weeks later some twelve parsecs from their original position and landed directly in the path of a comet.  The comet hit and the Kinunir was almost ripped asunder and the 80 crew on board were almost killed by the collision.

Thus Law 1 came into action with the AI deciding that by allowing the Captain to continue in command would violate the law through inaction.  It also saw that the problem was caused by the effect of the chemical composition of alcohol and so also saw anyone with traces of this in their system as a threat.  The first order of business was the AI activated the security robots to incarcerate those it had identified with the molecular structure of alcohol in their system.  They were to be confined to rooms and fed, but never allowed to leave.  The second process was it had all of the alcohol on ship collected and stored in a storage bay.  It did not destroy the alcohol as it felt that it must have some higher purpose as there was so much on board the ship.  It also incarcerated any person that had stored alcohol in their quarters but none in their system.

It then turned to the scientist on board the ship.  He was a strict tea-totaller and a vegan to boot so was well and truly clear of any contagion.  His labs also had extensive supplies of sterilising alcohol so the AI believed that perhaps this was the purpose of the compound.  The AI tasked the doctor, a Doctor Terrial Panold, with the job of finding a way to immunise the humans against the effects of the compound.  The good doctor agrees to the terms but not for the same reasons as the AI.  The good Doctor instead has been looking at obtaining a license for human experimentation in lengthening life spans without the use of Anagathatics.  And this is where the nod to Doctor Who comes in…
Panold was modelled off a different type of visionary…
I saw Panold as a Davros like figure but in reverse.  He has always wanted to improve the human race by radically transforming the paradigm of the human body.  He feels that the body we have is in fact holding back the development of the race as a whole.  He is also a Zhodani sympathiser who applauds their acceptance of Psionics in the modern era as a form of evolution.  In the time that he has experimented he has refined a capsule that houses a human brain in a protective exoskeleton.  To keep the AI happy he also utilises an alcoholic solution that the brain rests in and is required for the brain to interface correctly with the suit.  

The good Doctor has in essence created a new race.  His genetic modification has also allowed new members of the race to be “born” (it actually involves a mixed gene cloning process) and now seeks to get the AI to allow them access to the rest of the crew to refine the humans into the Panold form and then reinvent the Kinunir as a ship they will take back to civilisation as a colonising effort.  They seek to enhance the existing humans into a form that offers greater longevity and an evolution from the current species.  Panold himself was transferred into the first of the cybernetic exoskeletons and still uses the original exoskeleton with pride.  The form has evolved though into a much smaller, more efficient unit that also allows the implanted to activate psionic powers such as telepathy and limited telekinesis on transplantation.

So, the players last night uncovered this plot.  Their Captain and ship were cleansed (that is destroyed and recycled) due to their infection with the contagion (alcohol).  In essence this process involves various members of the Panold race stripping what they need from the captured ship and the biological creatures on board and setting the rest adrift.

It was a great game with a lot of tension last night.  Most of the action came about with the crew just trying to piece together what was going on whilst they were being held in a room (being protected by teh AI from the deadly contagion).  It was a very intellectual game of discovery and I thoroughly enjoyed it and can not wait until the next game which we are holding in a week before we have a break for Christmas!  Until next time, keep rolling!

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