This week I read:
Previously I was only familiar with Zelazny’s longer works—The Chronicles of Amber and Lord of Light—but I am pleased to report that he is also a master of the short story.
The Great Slow Kings definitely stood out for being much funnier than the rest, the whole story is an extended joke about the two last survivors of some ancient intelligent race, whose minds operate on such timescales that entire species rise and fall in a matter of subjective minutes; much to the consternation of their long-suffering robotic servant.
This week we played most of Act 1 of the Destroyer of Worlds scenario, in which four marines get impregnated by facehuggers as part of an illegal bioweapons research project, and attempt to defect to another power for treatment in exchange for selling what they know. The PCs are tasked to hunt down these traitors and either bring them home or kill them.
The PCs, naturally, don’t know about the illegal research part.
In Act 1 the PCs hunt down the rogue marines, dealing with some aliens along the way as they start to burst. It ends with them destroying an insurgent compound where one of the rogues is being held. We didn’t quite get there before running out of time, I messed up the pacing a little, so we’ll begin the next session with the PCs heading over to the insurgent compound.
This little delay could actually work out for the best. Act 2, fighting through the invading forces to return to base for emergency evacuation, is the weakest part of the scenario in my opinion. I was already planning to change it up as the transition from Act 2 to 3 (a ship arrives out of nowhere and drops a bomb) is very similar to the transition from Act 1 to 2 (the invasion fleet arrives and… starts dropping bombs), so now I just have more material to use.
I think session 2 will go something like this:
The PCs report in that they’ve found the location of one of the rogues, an insurgent compound, and are ordered to immediately assault it, since they let one insurgent escape who is no doubt on their way to warn the others. I’ll just handle this through narration when we start, rather than roleplaying a conversation out.
Assault on the insurgent compound, a dramatic fight with a xenomorph, ending with the invasion fleet arriving and everything going to hell.
Act 2 begins. The PCs all get new secret agendas.
Now we have the bulk of the Act 2 events, framed as a series of short scenes. The PCs are trying to get track down the two rogue marines still unaccounted for and get back to base for extraction, but keep suffering setbacks due to the colony now being a warzone. They’ll encounter an obstacle, deal with it, encounter another obstacle, deal with it, and so on.
I’ll completely change the Act 2 / 3 transition. Rather than an unidentified ship arriving and bombing the planet with alien-juice from orbit, it’ll be a Weyland-Yutani ship taking off which gets shot down in high orbit, exploding, and raining the alien-juice it was transporting onto the colony below…
The PCs encounter one of the early Act 3 events, showing that everyone who touches the alien-juice is being transformed into horrible monsters.
We end Act 2 with the PCs sighting the now-overrun base in the distance.
Then session 3 will be Act 3: fighting their way through the overrun base, riding the space elevator up to orbit, and commandeering an evacuation vessel.
That’s potentially a lot to pack into one session. When I ran the Chariot of the Gods scenario previously, I noted down what real-world time I wanted to accomplish certain in-game events by, to ensure I kept the pace up. I think I’ll have to do something similar here, but as a gut feeling, wrapping up Act 1 and transitioning into Act 2 should take half an hour, then I want the invasion before the alien-juice incident to take maybe two hours, then making it to base will take the last half hour. I’ll have their commander stress that the two rogues unaccounted for must be dealt with now, as if they’re going to defect to the enemy there’s precious little time to stop them, which should keep the players from making a beeline straight back to base.
I’m mostly finished my rewrite in rust now, there’s really just the form-processing parts of adding and editing books left, and the whole book deletion part. Which sounds like a lot—doesn’t that mean the only feature I’ve actually finished is search?—but all the elasticsearch stuff is in place, and I’ve got the HTML templating working (using tera), so it really is just a matter of turning form values into elasticsearch requests.
I expect to have the replacement up and running this time next week.
The replacement HDD arrived… and didn’t work. SATA read errors.
Was it the SATA port I wondered? It was the same port after all as the “failed” HDD. I tried another, and no. Perhaps the cable? Also no.
So I ordered a replacement for the replacement, the exact same model from a different seller, and that one worked first time. Now I’m temporarily ~£300 out of pocket until the seller receives the faulty one back and refunds me. Inconvenient, but at least everything is fixed now.