SS Placeholder: Monster in the House

Last night’s Fate Accelerated game was extremely fun, silly, over-the-top…. and then it went intense and dark, almost in an instant. The tone change was done well, I thought, and the end result was a “monster of the week” adventure that worked really, really well.

We had previously received a communique with a falsified source purporting to be from Space Race, but actually from somewhere else. In it, a red-haired space babe (“space babe” is almost a character class in this campaign) in a corset wanted to hire us to transport something, by way of specific coordinates. We discuss the job and decide it’s worth the risk.

Sidebar on Being a Girl Gamer in a Raunchy Campaign

I am the only female player in this campaign, and the only female character (that’s atypical– we often have gender-bending in our party; Firiel in our Moving Forward campaign is played, expertly, by a man). I am rather strident in my feminism, and will get into flamewars pretty regularly about it. And yet, in this campaign, I am the one most likely to play up stereotypes and misogyny. Why? Well, for one, it’s not “punching down” for me, and I’m using some satire to play off the “cheesecake uniforms” for laughs. For another, it’s okay to like problematic things. We do have some boundaries in our group which none of us are comfortable crossing– rape is one of these. In this week’s session, we tread very close to a boundary (false rape accusation) that we are all quite uncomfortable with, I think, and we handled it by stepping out of the role-play to discuss how the tone had just shifted and what we wanted to have happen at that point.

This campaign specifically embraces a lot of “cheesecake,” fanservice, and tons of very raunchy jokes. When the tone turned more serious, though, we found ourselves needing to tread with more care for how our jokes were not as funny. The trust within this particular group of players is immense– it’s rare to find a group where you can step back, say “hey, this is a troublesome part of our story” and work together to find a good solution. I think we did that well, at several points in this week’s adventure, and I’m glad to be part of this particular group of players.

Kiray's space suit. Imagine a force-field helmet and a sheer plastic "boob window."
Kiray’s space suit. Imagine a force-field helmet and a sheer plastic “boob window.”

We are on our way to the new coordinates when a ship hails us with a distress call. We respond by sending Kiray and Alain over, in spacesuits, to check things out. Alain teleports us through the front window, surprising the crew that are holed up in there. Capt. Steele tries to start the engine, but Alain set the emergency brake on the engine, so it doesn’t go. This, however, does screw up the ship, so our maneuverability will be hindered for now (we can only turn right).

Kiray talks to the mechanic, flirts a bit, then wolfs out (self-compel Werewolf of Twenty Moons trouble). Awk-ward. Fine pink fur sprouts up on her generous cleavage, and she sprouts teeth, causing her to lisp (I play this lisp straight, BTW, like any accent… speech impediments are not funny to me or my gamers, as at least half of us had to overcome one or more such impediments in childhood). The mechanic, backing away quickly, says they picked up some beast or monster that has been tearing the crew apart! The K’tin crewmembers (those are the cat-people), meanwhile are very intrigued by Kiray’s anthropomorphic form.

We decide to explore further and round up any survivors. We turn off our comms to the Placeholder so Kiray can mention to Alain the substance of the communication from the pink-haired pirate girl.

In the rest of the ship, we find dead people, humans, all killed by weapons fire or energy blasts, rather than a monster.  The Captain tries to talk to us, but of course our comms are off. He tries to unjam the e-brake. An incoming comm comes in for him from the redheaded hottie, asking him for help in saving those who are in trouble.

We meet Klinsy the tomcat, who is apparently paranoid and thinks the skeleton space men are blood-sucking vampires. He’s a fighter, not a scientist.  He has a meow-bot companion. He’s somewhat terse and intense, which in hindsight, may have started us towards the more intense storyline.

Steele comes over to the spaceship, entering from the rear docking port, and collects “Survivors.” Alain puts one of these survivors through the floor, as it is quite dead yet apparently trying to grab and eat him. While Alain and Steele lead Klinsey back to the rest of the crew, Kiray rips a hole through the floor and draws these zombies out. She gets irradiated and is monumentally sick when she pulls herself back inside. But then, she starts to feel better. Thirsty, but quite better. She starts feeling a bit more human, too…. actually, vibrantly alive, even. But thirsty. Very thirsty!

The Captain talks to Klinsey and Joshua, who seem to have an ongoing disagreement, and Joshua mentions his wife is a redhead in a corset. He shows the Captain a holo-image, which is definitely the woman from the communications. He denies it’s her and they drop it.

We get back to the cargo hold, and Kiray acts kind of, uh, randy? She maneuvers to get the Captain alone. Alain tells him privately to put her in a locked room, which is the penthouse. Which is fine– all the cameras in there are set to record and/or livestream as soon as Kiray or the Captain enter. Apparently, Kiray has something of a gonewild reputation, and, well, the Captain just records any of his encounters for later review.

Alain goes to teleport the k’tins and crew over to our cargo hold. While he’s busy, Kiray calls the captain to “come drink with me….” and sends a nude selfie. He cannot resist (I compelled his addictive personality trouble aspect). He pops a few Viagra and joins her by stripping off his uniform and hopping on the bed. She starts kissing his neck, nibbling, then outright biting, at which point, you can imagine, he objects. Kiray is much stronger than the Captain, and pins him to the bed to drink his blood, but decides she’s not getting enough to drink, not fast enough, and tearing him apart is not really an option. She moves down towards his crotch to drink, and he wriggles free and bolts for the mag-lift. slamming and locking the door behind him. Kiray tears the door off the cabin and comes racing after him.

At this point, we discuss whether Kiray is really evil, or if she’s still herself. She’s still herself. Were she not thinking “like Kiray, but more primal,” then she’d be doing more to cover her tracks, like calling Alain and claiming that the Captain attacked her. This is one of those boundary-pushing moments– Kiray has basically just assaulted the Captain and the next logical step if she’s truly wicked is to make a false accusation– but she’s not evil, and I don’t want her to turn out that way. I don’t want to cross a line where she can never go back. Instead, she drops down onto the mag-lift and tears the roof off. The Captain opens the floor hatch and jumps through, escaping. Lucky roll for the Captain’s “Quick” vs. Kiray’s Quick.

We also have a lot of side conversations about how this is going to affect her career as a soft-core actress, though we’re not entirely sure how. Alain has renamed the video feed to “Space Vore.” (Pro tip: do not google “vore” with SafeSearch turned off.)

The Captain is running for the bridge, naked (but thanks to the drugs, at full salute!) and using his own girdle as a makeshift bandage on his neck. He makes it and Alain locks him in remotely, probably for his own protection. Alain tries to stop Kiray by talking her down, and she does a great job of lying to him about her intentions. The Captain makes contact with the red-haired woman and sets course for Paragon Station.

Meanwhile, Kiray stalks the men in the cargo hold via the ventilation shafts, then silently and quickly grabs Joshua out of the cargo hold. She convinces him that the k’tins are out to mutiny and they should go back to the captain’s cabin. Once there, she drugs him and starts to drink his blood.

Again we discuss whether Kiray is evil and willing to commit murder. On the one hand, no– she’s not a murderer. On the other hand, Kiray is in full predator mode, and stopping just isn’t something easy for her to do. She has little willpower at this point– it takes everything she has not to tear this NPC to pieces. Daniel offers a “hard bargain,” Dungeon World style: I can risk killing Joshua and fully slake my thirst, or I can leave my thirst unsatisfied, but ensure his survival. I know, as a player, that if her thirst isn’t fully satisfied, Kiray is going to stay on the hunt.

Steve (who plays Captain Steele) steps in and compels the “drugs in Joshua’s system” aspect to knock Kiray out before she can kill Joshua. I happily accept being Taken Out in this manner). She curls up, puppy-like, next to her victim, and falls asleep.

Alain gets there just in time to save Joshua (who he sends to Klinsey in the med bay) and start restraining Kiray thoroughly using the many many many restraints Captain Steele has in his cabin (ahem). Alain goes down to the the med bay for some research. Captain Steele passes out from blood loss at the cockpit controls and is taken to med bay by Bubbles, the samurai janitor (an NPC we have in the campaign).

Kiray wakes up and talks to Alain, calling the Captain a wuss, and asking Alain to let her up because it’s torture to deny someone thirsty a drink. He goes to the med bay to retrieve some blood for her (forgetting that he could easily have someone bring it up… and that Kiray is extremely strong). As soon as she’s alone, she breaks free of the tight bonds and asks the computer where the Captain is. Learning that everyone who might be able to stop her is in the med bay, she locks it down and uses quarantine procedures to disable Alain’s teleport. She heads for the cockpit, lapping up the Captain’s spilled blood on the way. She does an inquiry into the crew roster, especially Joshua, whose wife’s name was Sabrina, the 2nd person to board the Placeholder. Kiray doesn’t understand the significance of this, but the players all do.

Alain comes to the cockpit to confront Kiray, and gives her a packet of his own blood. It seems to counteract this disease and she is now made queasy by the sight of blood entirely. Trying to recover her dignity (and the primal urges fading, leaving her disgusted with herself), she haughtily says she is going to get into her uniform, and that his blood tastes like shit. Hurting Alain, her best friend who is only trying to help her, might be the worst thing Kiray actually does during the session.

Capt wakes up in the med bay and “Sabrina” is in there with him, thanking him and ensuring that the payment is in the bank. Then he passes out again.

Alain calls the cargo hold to inquire if people want to disembark here. Alain tells the station that these refugees were from an asteroid field, escape pods, etc.

The Captain gets 75,000 credits for the work, 1500 for the finder’s fee of the refugees.

Alain makes contact with Dr. Vampyre, Kiray’s former employer (who looks like Vampire Willow from Buffy… yes, all of our key women have red or pink hair… because fanservice). Kiray uses the distraction to slip off the ship and onto Paragon Station. When Alain gets back, he goes to med bay to synthesize the cure. He calls to find out where Kiray is, and the computer says “Crewmember Kiray is not on the ship.” And so on. He calls for a quarantine on the station.

Alain gets a communique from the pink haired pirate girl, long-distance, who is inside the nebula we just left. She’s yelling at him for dodging them, then says something about something being on the hull. “Oh, my god, there’s hundreds of them!!!!”

We end the session there. In our post-session milestones, we decide that, even though we weren’t meticulous about tracking stress, because she slipped off the ship and hid in the space station, it makes sense for Kiray to have an ongoing consequence that will stick around for a couple of sessions. In brief: Alain isn’t able to find her and give her the cure fast enough to work quickly, so she needs multiple treatments. Kiray has a Severe Consequence called The Thirst. She’s also added a stunt to her profile: Alluring Predator, to reflect the ways she’s used her charm and sex appeal to lure both the captain and Joshua into becoming her victims. I’ve learned that Kiray, even though she is mostly a fairly carefree, not-too-bright thug, has a very dark, predatory side that, when it comes out, can be utterly brutal.

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