Guest Author - Jay Shaffstall
Our group played through a modified version of the Leviathan mission from the Galactic Civil War supplement for Battlestations. If you don't know Battlestations, some of the following may not make sense, but you'll still get a feel for how the game plays.
Three of the characters were former UREF military types who had discharged themselves by stealing a Trundlian scout and setting out to be independents. The fourth was someone they picked up along the way to fill the missing Science position on the ship. All told, we had a human marine, a human scientist, a Fungaloid engineer, and a Trundlian pilot.
The UREF deserters were notified that they could no longer rely on their clones if they died. Their clones would activate long enough to be tried for desertion, and then executed.
The crew ended up at the notorious pirate haven, Foxfire Station. Upon first docking, they quickly realized the differences between being independent and being aligned with the military, as they were notified that airlock access to the station cost 100 credits. The pilot talked that down to 50 credits with a Diplomacy check.
Entering the station, they quickly found they couldn't do a thing without first getting cleared by the owner, a Silicoid named Quartz. Luckily for their cash flow, Quartz turned out to have a job for them, too.
The mission was to clear up a navigational hazard that was causing ships traveling along a particular hyperspace vector to disappear (basic mission success). They would get an additional bonus if they recovered a black box from a specific ship that was known to be traveling along that trajectory (overwhelming success).
The crew sets out along the specified hyperspace trajectory, and uses the down time for upgrades.
The engineer upgrades the helm successfully, using the logic that a navigational hazard might require some fancy flying. The marine manages, even with no Science skill, to upgrade his armor. The pilot and scientist opt to skip their upgrades.
Once everyone is at their action stations, the ship is pulled out of hyperspace by a gravitational distortion. The scientist makes a terrific roll to ease the ship back into normal space, avoiding any damage to the ship.
The long range scanners immediately show a Zoallan frigate heading toward the heroes' ship. Behind the frigate is a planet sized body of some sort that is apparently chasing them.
The pilot accelerates to make the ship harder to hit, the engineer pumps some power into helm and guns, while the scientist scans the planet sized body. The crew is horrified to find that it's a planet sized beast with a gaping maw capable of swallowing entire starships. And it's hot on the heels of the ship containing the black box they are to recover.
Faced with a split second decision, the marine fires himself in a boarding missile toward the frigate. His mission: recover the black box before the frigate is swallowed by the leviathan.
The pilot continues to pile on the acceleration, while the scientist continues to accumulate scanning data (both in the hopes of finding a weakness, and because the Galactic Science Institute is always willing to pay decent money for exotic data). The fungaloid engineer has a bit of travel time between engines, and so doesn't pump.
Meanwhile, the marine ends up on the frigate, popping out into their helm module. Another decision...does he simply try to kill the Zoallans, or does he work with them? The decision is quickly made as the leviathan catches up to the frigate and attempts to swallow it. The Zoallan pilot manages to dodge, so the marine decides to let the bug keep on doing his job.
The marine heads for a missile bay to shoot the leviathan, in the hopes of defeating the creature and saving the frigate. Aboard the heroes' ship, scanning, engine pumping, and accelerating continues.
Unfortunately for the marine, the leviathan's next attempt to swallow the frigate succeeds. The good news is that the missile shot cannot miss. The bad news is that he still needs to find the black box and get off the ship (and out of the leviathan).
Plasma fires from the leviathan's digestive system break out in the frigate's cannon module.
Those still aboard the heroes' scout realize that they'll need to take the leviathan down, or at least convince it to open its mouth long enough for the marine to escape in a boarding missile. The pilot heads to the missile bay and fires a missile at the leviathan, while scanning and engine pumping continue.
With the cannon module on the frigate inaccessible due to plasma fire, and the starboard missile bay already used this round, the marine realizes that he'll need to find that black box quickly. He broadcasts to the Zoallans an offer: "Join me in the port missile bay with the black box, and we'll all get off this ship."
The Zoallan pilot and engineer take him up on it, and start heading for the port missile bay. The Zoallan scientist is still feverishly scanning data on the leviathan, muttering about finding a weakness.
The leviathan eventually catches up to the heroes' scout, and as (bad) luck would have it, the pilot is away from the helm, heading toward the cannon. The heroes are swallowed, joining the frigate in the belly of the beast.
With guns power pumped high, the pilot takes a shot at the leviathan. Being inside its stomach, he can hardly miss. The beast rocks from side to side with indigestion.
Several phases go by on the frigate as the marine and Zoallan engineer conspire to get the black box from the Zoallan pilot. The poor pilot is ambushed as he approaches the port missile bay, and the Zoallan engineer takes custody of the black box. The marine fires them both in a boarding missile toward the heroes' scout.
They land in the center engine, thanks to the pilot being back at the helm and jockeying the ship around a bit. Meanwhile, plasma fire has broken out in the scout's life support. The engineers quickly take care of it with the module's fire suppression systems.
After firing another cannon blast and missile, the heroes play a waiting game for the rest of the round. They continue to accumulate hull damage, and pass several hull checks.
The Zoallan ship, after passing many hull checks, finally succumbs and explodes. The heroes' scout takes significant damage from the explosion, and passes the hull checks only due to the engineer being Unsinkable.
Another massive cannon blast causes the leviathan to open its mouth. The pilot was on overwatch to accelerate given that event, and boosts the scout's speed by 3.
The scout shoots out the leviathan's mouth, and a quick science scan verifies that the beast is dead.
The trip back to Foxfire Station has everyone breathing stale air, due to the addition of the Zoallan engineer. But everyone survives to dock at the station. Where they must pay the 100 credit docking fee, and also pay the 900 credits needed to repair the hull damage done to the ship.
Fortunately, Quartz pays off on delivery of the black box, the science data is sold to the Galactic Science Institute, and the heroes find themselves nearly 11,000 credits richer. Their career as independents has gotten off to a great start!
Most Battlestation missions go this way, with hairbreadth escapes and eventual success at the last moment. It's a tremendously fun game to play!