We played our second Star Trek session in two weeks this past Wednesday, and I’m getting more and more pleased with the whole campaign. I took a more “Narrativist” approach to writing this session – I came up with the basic problems I wanted the characters to face, started them off, planned out a few complications I wanted to throw in, and then basically just stopped, so that it would be up to the players to resolve everything.
The plot of the episode was that the Discovery was sent to investigate a series of attacks made on civilian merchant ships and, if possible, to put a stop to them. The Discovery traced the attackers to the planet Simelius Beta, which they had recently determined was pre-warp in terms of technology (this was the mission they were returning from when they crashed at the beginning of Episode 2). When the ship arrived at the planet, they were immediately attacked by a starship with technology more advanced than that of the Federation. The Discovery’s warp engines were disabled in the conflict, but thanks to poor piloting on the part of their opponents, the Discovery prevailed and destroyed the enemy ship.
The captain ordered Commander McCracken to take an away team down to investigate the planet, but ordered Lt. Commander Koller and Lt. Commander Kirby to remain aboard to investigate the nanotechnology infesting the ship in order to prevent danger to the crew. Koller and Kirby determined that the nanobots appeared to be experimenting on the ship in some way, and that the methods they had used to harness the nanobots at the close of the previous episode were no longer working. Kirby began to set up a separate computer system in which to potentially quarantine the nanobots.
Meanwhile, the away team beamed down into a city which appeared to have been recently devastated by the widespread use of energy weapons. The team quickly came into contact with local law enforcement, which took them for members of something called the “Coalition” and began to open fire. The party was contacted by a young girl who asked them to follow her – once Muriel quickly verified that she bore them no ill will, the party did follow her into an abandoned building, where the girl brought them up to date on the planet’s situation. The girl explained that up until a few months ago, the planet had largely, but not entirely, been ruled by a dictator named Isgar. One day, a group of aliens called the Coalition arrived, revealing to the people of Simelius Beta that they were not alone in the galaxy and providing them with wondrous new technology to cure disease, end famine, and otherwise better their culture. They also provided the planetary government with new weapons in order to protect themselves. However, as soon as Isgar decided that he understood how to use these new weapons, he used them to drive the Coalition away and then take control of the rest of the planet.
As the girl finished explaining the situation, Isgar’s troops used a tricorder-like device to locate the characters, leading to a shootout which went poorly for the locals (though McCracken suffered a pretty serious laser blast during the fight). Once the fight ended, the party attempted to return to the Discovery, only to find that the ship’s transporter systems were inoperative due to the nanobots.
Koller and Kirby were able to make contact with the nanobots, who revealed that they were sentient, that they had been forced into a state like sleep on their homeworld until Lt. Commander Dexter rediscovered them, and that they are much happier within the ship’s systems. Kirby managed to convince them to release their hold over the transporter system, but Vulcan science officer Lt. T’Luminareth became convinced of the danger posed by the intelligent ‘bots.
Back on the ship, the crew discussed what to do about the planet of Simelius Beta. The Coalition clearly violated the Prime Directive by providing the planet with various kinds of technology, and the crew realized that it would be very difficult to unring that bell (also, removing technology designed to eliminate disease and famine would be cruel). Though Kirby expressed reservations at the idea, the crew ultimately decided to remove Isgar’s starships and attempt to stop him from developing warp technology and to monitor the planet in the future.
Lt. Commander Gryffindor and Ensign Anderson went down to Isgar’s palace to create a diversion (in actuality James and Jenni hatched and enacted this plan, which the others decided to use as a distraction). They approached the guards at Isgar’s bedchamber and tried to negotiate, but the guards panicked at seeing them in the middle of the palace. The guards opened fire, but Gryffindor convinced them to cease fire, just in time for Isgar to exit his bedchamber and Gryffindor to suffer an attack of narcolepsy. Chip attempted to knock Isgar back into his bedroom, but Isgar stood like an oak.
Meanwhile, McCracken, Kirby, and a few ensigns beamed down to Isgar’s spaceship-construction facility. Working with military precision, they broke into the facility’s computer system, identified a potential flaw in Isgar’s ships (a shield frequency modulation that the inexperienced crew would probably not know how to change), and deleted as much knowledge from the systems as possible to prevent construction of warp engines. They then beamed back to the Discovery and rescued Gryffindor and Anderson from further harm.
The Discovery waited for Isgar’s remaining two ships to return to Simelius Beta, engaging them both in combat when they arrived. The Discovery’s phasers went right through the enemy ships’ shields, and Commander McCracken expertly targeted their weapons systems, crippling both quickly. The Discovery made short work of the enemy engines and shields, then beamed their crews down to the planet’s surface and contacted the Federation about confiscating the ships.
Afterward, the captain approached Lt. Commander Koller and ordered him to purge or quarantine the nanobot infestation following the transporter incident. Kirby and Koller both resolved to disobey this order – Kirby out of sympathy for the nanobots, and Koller out of his friendship for Kirby. Kirby continued to work on his separate computer system to house the nanobots, but T’Luminareth confronted them and told them that she suspected them of disobedience and that she had developed a procedure which would destroy the nanobots (which she had already tested to good results). Reluctantly, Kirby agreed to purge the system of nanobots, though he was able to contact the ‘bots and allow them to take refuge in his robotic arm before he triggered the purge.