Coriolis Let's Play TTRPG Updates

“The Gang Gets a Job”

A Tale From the Third Horizon

Cover art for The Dying Ship
Cover art for The Dying Ship

[Because I’m up the walls with a separate writing commission for the last month, I didn’t have time to prepare a campaign beginning of my own, so I began with the published adventure “The Dying Ship”. I don’t follow the plot to the letter, but I hit the important beats, and the players weren’t overwhelmed with new information, they got to ease themselves into the setting and learn a bit about it before making big decisions.]

The ever charming Adzem Kembouri

Our enterprising crew of Fattah, Dav and Pol are contacted by a Mr Adzem Kembouri on behalf of the Melem Gesurra trading company, a respectable haulage business mostly concerned with transporting ice water from the Kuan asteroid belt, and foodstuffs to/from nearby systems.

On arrival at Wahib’s Cantina they find Mr Kembouri already talking to a small group who were posing as our heroes in order to steal the job. In a display that will surely have no consequences at all, Pol’s catastrophic failure to politely introduce the group nevertheless exposed the charlatans, who scarpered rather than deal with the Coriolis Guards. Mr Kembouri, somewhat embarrassed, recovered gracefully and got down to business.

24 hours ago, Melem Gesurra lost contact with Orun II, an ice hauler returning from the asteroid belt with some 3,000 tonnes of ice. After failing to respond multiple times, the ship suddenly changed course, now headed for the notorious asteroid swarm known as the Eye of Anubar. Clearly, something had gone wrong on Orun II, and Mr Kembouri offered the crew of the Blue Beetle a princely sum of 20,000 birr to intercept the ship, find out what happened, and return ship and crew to Coriolis before it was torn apart in the Eye of Anubar.

Pol, ever keen at the sight of profit, negotiated an advance of 5,000 birr, and they were off! The crew performed their pre-flight checks, prayed to the Messenger, and the Blue Beetle left Coriolis. There were some stares as Mr Kembouri dragged two large travelling chests to his assigned cabin, but suspicions over his collection of religious texts, fairy tales and a large ornamental urn were dispersed as he removed a large number of mission files: The freighter Orun II was a Class IV hauler, a little over 310m in length, with three habitable sections in the bow, the stern and the midships workshop. There was a manifest declaring a crew of nine, detailed blueprints, and last known coordinates. A course was plotted (and then re-plotted with appropriate prayer to the Icons for a less sucky result), and some 3 hours later, the Blue Beetle was skittering around Orun II. Their investigation could begin.

The ice hauler Orun II

The ship was unusually dark. It showed up on sensors, but only just, and every window and porthole was dark as night. Suddenly, a series of flashing lights from a window in the stern! No code or signal, but at least proof someone was alive! Pilot Dav performed an immaculately smooth docking procedure with the aft airlock. Mindful that there may be no atmosphere on Orun II, the crew donned their exo suits before boarding. With a hiss, the airlocks were cleared, and the crew were standing on Orun II’s Engineering section.

There was creepy music too!

Emergency strip lighting in the floor mixed with pulsing glow from the 3 massive graviton projectors, a chaotic array of power cables, ladders and walkways casting a maze of shadows over the engine rooms. Inside was the body of Kakinwe, one of the engineers. He had been stabbed in the heart by a bladed weapon. Examining further, Dav and Fattah concluded that the exceptionally neat cut could only be a mercurium blade, advanced technology whereby liquid metal is manipulated to form a solid blade of unsurpassed sharpness. Having had no success contacting anyone while aboard the Blue Beetle, Fattah tried one of the wall-mounted consoles. They were met with static, and then a deep, sonorous voice warning them “Turn around and live out your days in peace. There is only darkness here. We go to our doom!”

Behind a locked door, monitoring the power to the engines, was Orun II’s chief engineer Ard Atallah. A tall, serious looking man, head shaved, forehead tattoo proclaiming his devotion to the Icons, again he spoke into the ship’s comms. “I tell you, leave us! There is evil here and I will not let it reach Coriolis!” Somewhat lost for words, our heroes turned to Mr Kembouri. Perhaps his authority on behalf of Melem Gesurra would convince Atallah to say more. Kembouri was successful, and Atallah allowed them entry into the control room.

Atallah explained that on a routine ice hauling mission, his regular maintenance scans picked up an anomaly in one of the great pieces of ice. Informing the Captain, Ardul Rajtun, he decided to investigate. The crew cut 4 strange large containers out of the ice and brought them to the observatory below the bridge. And then all hell broke loose. There was a djinn loose on the ship now, a scheming, powerful terror spawned in the Dark Between the Stars, and it quickly overpowered the captain. Rather than let a djinn reach the half million souls on Coriolis, and seeing no other option, Atallah sabotaged the navigation, changing course for the Eye of Anubar, cutting power to the bridge to prevent anyone setting a new course, and sealed himself in the engine control room to await destruction. On hearing this, Pol, by no means a warrior but wealthy enough to own weapons, ran back to the Blue Beetle to get his Vulcan Pistol. Likewise, Mr Kembouri retrieved several items from the chests in his cabin, namely a number of religious texts, his unusual ornamental urn, and a pack containing items he believed could banish or even imprison the djinn. Perhaps sensing this new threat, the djinn focused its will on the engine room, to observe these newcomers. Our heroes felt the air grow suddenly cold, while the lights flickered, and each felt the indescribable sensation of being watched and measured by something unimaginably ancient and alien. They had little time to lose.

Mr Kembouri remarked that it was fortunate that Atallah flashed a light at them, allowing them to dock right next to engineering. Atallah, confused, said he did no such thing, and went to his consoles to scan for others. his sensors bleeped, and he grabbed a broom handle and struck an overhead air vent. “Ayda! I know it’s you in there!”

The vent opened, and out fell a young woman, surely no older than 20, with tattooed arms and the grubby overalls of a deckhand. Ayda, having heard our heroes talk with Atallah, admitted to flashing the signal light, hoping to get off this doomed ship. She saw creatures rise from the sarcophagi retrieved from the ice, like men but moving erratically like marionettes. They began murdering people and Ayda ran, escaping the bow through the cramped air vents. At this, Kembouri grew serious, and asked for a description of the creatures. Ayda recalled impassive porcelain masks, regal red silks under embellished armour plates. His eyes grew bright. Pol reminded him they were not in one of his fairy tale books. Kembouri smiled and said “My friend, that is precisely where we are! I was right, this crew stumbled upon the legendary Princess of Kah!”

The tale itself is ancient and lengthy, but suffice to say: Centuries ago on the world of Kua, a princess lived in a magnificent city named Kah. One day she came back from a walk in the forests… changed. Possessed by a powerful malicious spirit. Her father the king spent no expense trying to drive out this devil, to no avail. Desperate, he heard tell of a healer and holy man living beyond the asteroid belt of Kua, who might yet cure his daughter. Sealing her in a stasis sarcophagus along with three of his royal guard, he sent them on his fastest ship. The ship neither arrived at the healer nor returned to Kah, and the king, stricken with despair, let his kingdom crumble away to nothing.

Ayda was not at all happy with the idea that our heroes were not leaving before dealing with this mighty djinn of legend, but having no other way off Orun II, she agreed to stay in Engineering with Atallah while they did their business. At Fattah’s request, Atallah cut power to the engines. While inertia would still bring Orun II into the asteroid swarm, at least it was no longer accelerating, buying them precious time. Atallah restored power to the bow of the ship, allowing a new course to be set. They boarded the elevator car linking Engineering to Midships.

The elevator was a rickety, grimy pressurised container that rattled across its old track, along the outside of the ship. Below them loomed the blue-white ice blocks, turning to purple in the baleful red light of the Eye. On arriving at Midships, they found nobody at first. One small room, the control centre for the stevedores, was welded shut. On the other side, Kolb the stevedore akbar hid, warning the heroes to turn away and leave him.

“I have a pulse drill, and I swear I’ll use it!”

“YOU’RE a pulse drill!” responded Pol, undisputed master of diplomacy.

“Yes, I’m a… wait. What?”

“You heard me!”

“… is there someone else there I can talk to?”


“uh… yes? Look, I’m really very confused right now.”

Using the pulse drill to cut the door open, Kolb greeted our heroes warily, especially the triumphant Pol. He explained that the captain opened one of the containers, and then apparently lost his mind. Then, he said, came monsters. The first and second officers were murdered, he didn’t know if anyone was left alive. When our heroes explained that Captain Rajtul had been possessed, and Atallah had changed course to destroy the evil, his mind finally found its old focus. Uttering a seemingly endless stream of curses about this suicide plan being “just classic Atallah”, he agreed to join the chief engineer and Ayda in Engineering and await rescue.

The second elevator car from Midships to the stern was even less pleasant than the first. About halfway from safety, the lights flickered again, and the elevator car lurched suddenly, as one of the collosal blocks of ice snapped some of its moorings andhit something vital. The djinn was trying to stop our brave heroes! The elevator car shuddered to a halt, a mechanical problem that would not be fixed from the car. Only Fattah and Dav had trained to work in zero gravity environments. engaging the vaccum seals on the boots of their exo suits, they tied a cable around Pol and braced for explosive decompression. They would have to take a walk outside.

Fattah and Dav, used to the weightlessness, deftly traversed the remaining distance to the stern airlocks. Pol, however, was not at all used to every direction at once being both up and down, and his stomach made its strong opinion on this very clear, as he vomited into his helmet. In zero gravity. Perhaps the Icons have a sense of humour, as Pol accidentally activated his comm channel just in time for the others to hear every damp, sloshing moment. With practised ease they manually overrode the airlocks from outside, using the rope to swing Pol into the room and its beloved gravity before climbing in themselves. To Pol’s considerable relief, there were exo suits for the crew of Orun II on the other side of the airlock. Thanking the Icons for the miracle of standardised technology, he replaced his sullied helmet with a considerably more fresh copy.

Immediately out of the elevator airlock, they stepped into the crew quarters. Orun II was an old ship, built for considerably more crew than currently operated it, and the place looked empty and neglected. Half-withered plants, a frayed carpet, plastic chairs and scuffed rubber floors decorated the mess hall. The place was in disarray, as if a meal had been suddenly interrupted. In the cabins they found three more dead crewmen, the 2nd officer Kirin Bor and the stevedores Mirra Touli and Lasar Ulba. From where they stood they could see inside the observatory, and the 4 opened stasis chambers Captain Rajtul had brought aboard. Deciding that the most pressing issue was NOT being destroyed by the Eye of Anubar, they raced upstairs to the bridge.

The bridge was bathed in the red light of the asteroid swarm. Three control chairs sat in front of a large horshoe command console. Two of the seats were occupied. First was the body of first officer Reyna Zarkavan, stabbed in the heard like the others. The second was Captain Rajtul, still breathing, his eyes mirror pools of black, darker even than deep space. His head turned to brave Pilot Dav, and when he spoke, neither voice nor words matched his body.

“Insssectss… What do thesse bugss intend, Kh’oudour wonderss!”

“We, um… Well, first we would quite like to not die in that asteroid swarm. Then-“

“The great Kh’oudour dessiress thiss alsso.”

“Uh… Great. Can… I mean, may I use the console in front of you to steer away from the big death cloud please?”

Long seconds pass. Mr Kembouri, specialising in tact, began preparing the banishment ritual silently, drawing a circle in chalk, enlisting Pol to light seven incense burners whilst repeating the Creed of the Faceless One. The djinn finally answers.

“You may approach.”

With palpable relief, our brave pilot reverses course, grinding to a halt, then that telltale inertia tugging them forwards, indicating acceleration away from the Eye of Anubar.

“Kh’oudour iss pleassed. Now, bug, you will bring Kh’oudour to Kah!”

Unfortunately, a wayward clink of the incense burners being set around the circle alerted the djinn, and Captain Rajtul’s head snapped around fully 180 degrees to take in the deception.

“Inssolent bugss! Kh’oudour sshall rip your very ssoulss from their meat bindingss! Kh’oudour sshall-“

“Oh shut UP already,” interrupted Dav, firing his pistol point blank into the captain’s gut. His head snapped around and his eyes cleared. The captain was still in there! “Get her OUT of me!” he yelled, half pleading, half furious at having just been shot. And then his eyes darkened again, and a string of curses in an unknown language called forth the monsters Ayda and Kolb warned of. Royal guards, though for which king or queen none alive today could say, stepped forth out of the shadows, as if just waiting on the other side of the darkness. Blades levelled, they advanced on our heroes.

“Can’t you pray faster!?” muttered Pol in between setting incense burners. His own repetition of the Creed had accelerated considerably after the first gunshot. Swearing under his breath, Kembouri redoubled his efforts. “The captain isn’t the primary host! Killing him still leaves the princess!”

Dav, saddened that violence against the possessed captain was not the answer he’d hoped, instead placed an excellent shot on one of the guards, but it did little more than blast away a chunk of protective armour. These creatures, whatever else they were, were warriors. Swearing yet again, Kh’oudour transformed in the blink of an eye, becoming a large wolf, which leapt over the command console, into cover. Fattah the engineer, finding a large armoured guard bearing down on him, desperately dodged a sword meant to take his head from his shoulders. The missed swing exposed the guard’s back for a split second, and Fattah took his opening. Praying to the Icons his blow would land, he swung his industrial power glove as hard as he could at the exposed guard. The guard’s armour shattered like old pottery, and there was a sickening crunch as Fattah’s strike snapped the guard’s spine in two! He went instantly limp, arms clawing at the air but unable to gain purchase on the floor or an enemy.

Kembouri uttered the final prayers, and once more the lights flickered. A howl from behind the console as a freezing cloud of mist leapt out and the djinn tried to escape, but the binding was complete, and it was sucked into a vortex within the circle. The Princess of Kah railed against the wards but they held firm. With a flourish Kembouri opened his strange urn and commanded the djinn to enter. Screaming bloody vengeance, the malevolent spirit left its primary host and was driven into the vessel. The Princess of Kah, free of possession, turned almost instantly to dust, but not before her lips curled into a faint smile of thanks. Her centuries of torment were over. Her guards, finally released from their oaths of eternal service, likewise crumbled to dust.


Adzem Kembouri breathed a huge sigh of relief, and a hysterical giggle escaped him. Exhausted, he fell to his knees, laughing “I had no idea if that would work! By the Icons we nearly died hahahahaha!”

When he calmed down, Dav had questions. “You were prepared for this. How long have you been hunting this thing?”

“Honestly, since yesterday. I’m an independent consultant, I mostly do minor exorcisms. When Melem Gesurra hired me to deal with this, I was sure it was at least related to the Princess of Kah. The tale suggests a djinn of quite worrying power. When I sought additional help, your names came recommended.”

“I do apologise for my… reticence, in explaining the full extent of the situation. Taking orders from Melem Gesurra unfortunately came with certain obligations and restrictions. If I may begin to atone, allow me to offer you my services at any time for no charge, should you ever have need. I will also inform Melem Gesurra that I am extremely impressed and satisfied with your services. There are clauses in the contract that allow for additional 10,000 birr to be made available in payment for particularly notable displays of competence, and my friends I promise you shall receive it in full!”

And so our brave heroes returned to Coriolis, where Adzem Kembouri was true to his word. The crew received a further 25,000 birr to add to their 5,000 advance. He spoke extremely highly of them at his debriefing with the managers of Melem Gesurra, and gossip soon spread about the station regarding the courageous freighter crew that saved a dying ship and its crew from certain destruction, but also defeated and banished the great djinn Kh’oudour, sometimes known as the Princess of Kah. With their reputation on the rise, perhaps others will join the crew of the Blue Beetle in time to seek their fortune across the Third Horizon?

Kembouri offered to buy the first round in celebration. Pol requested…

… djinn and tonic.

By Sarky

Freelance writing, communist propaganda, and only the very finest in depression-enhanced late night existential dread and self-deprecation.

Contact for professional stuff.
Contact for anything relating to the blog.

Or you could use the Contact Page, it'd be a shame not to after all the time I spent making it work. You have OPTIONS is what I'm saying here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *