Detailed Start | Quickstart | The Descent | Within Luna | Captured! | The Escape | Selenites

Quickstart for:
ON GOSSAMER WINGS

This document represents a means for a GM and players to jump quickly into the action of this adventure, thus sparing them the hassles of the preparation stage of an adventure. If the players do not yet have characters generated for them, simply allow them to choose a character from the list of pre-generated characters available at the Sample Characters page. Each of these characters has a built-in history which explains how they have met Dr. Cyrus Grant, who is the instigator of the adventure.

If the players already have characters made, but have not yet played with them, you and the players must come up with an explanation as to how they know each other, or an explanation as to how they know Dr. Grant. If the players have already have been playing with these characters for some time, then naturally the party will all know each other; only one character need know Dr. Grant. The key thing is that the players must have knowledge of the expedition and an invitation to participate, and likewise need a reason to be able to get along with each other. Often players who attempt to roleplay a "first meeting" will find that playing in character causes friction between characters and prevents parties from forming. Naturally this should be avoided.

If the party is particularily large, you can allow one of the players to play the role of Dr. Grant. Remember, however, that this character will not necessarily be available for adventuring in the future, so the player should be comfortable with this or be happy to play characters who are normally NPC's.

Allow characters to purchase equipment from the SPACE:1889 book, but do not give them too long to look over the list of items. Remember that these items are being purchased at the local store in Arizona where the adventure is taking place; exotic items will not be available, nor will theplayers be allowed to bring large items or vehicles. Give the players about ten minutes to look over the list.

Once characters have been assigned and players know how they have come to be involved with the expedition, you can present them with the following document, which represents the beginning of the adventure. Have the players read it aloud to each other, one paragraph at a time, until the document is finished. After this is done, the adventure may begin.

Note: Two characters from the pre-generated character list are included in the narrative: Lt. Cmdr. Julian Leybourne and Dr. Franklin Turquoine. If these characters are not being used then Leybourne may be replaced by another character with piloting skill, while Turquoine can be replaced by someone with a high Observation skill.


The Story So Far...

You all sit in the quaint but comfortable parlour of Doctor Cyrus Grant, an inventor, and acquaintance of yours. The attempts at small-talk and pleasantries have dwindled away, and you all feel the tension and anticipation mounting. Soon Dr. Grant should arrive, and then the promised expedition to the Moon will get underway.

Dr. Grant arrives in a huff, and takes off his jacket, for a moment not noticing his guests. He turns around and looks at you all, adjusting his glasses. It appears that for a moment he is speechless, but shortly he begins:

"I do wish to thank you all for being here. As I have mentioned to some of you, it has been a long-time dream of mine to make a voyage to the moon. It hangs above us every night, so close and yet so remote, luring us with it's beauty.

"I wish I could have been the first to go there, but as you all no doubt know, Sir William Otterbein was the first to go there, almost eight years ago now. Others, too have gone, and for the most part have returned empty-handed. The moon, it seems, is a lifeless rock with little to recommend it.

"But none of these explorers have ever been able to thoroughly explore the moon, because of the nature of their Ether Flyers. You see, an Ether Flyer has an intense level of power ot it, but can only be used to thrust forward, and their power levels are not easily modulated to allow for maneuvering. Thus, propulsion for finer maneuvers are usually accomplished through the venting of steam from a Solar Boiler. Naturally normal atmospheric propulsion is impossible on the Moon, since it is airless.

"My invention is an Ether Propeller Governor, which allows me to fine-tune the modulation of etheric flow in an Ether Propeller, allowing very fine control. Most Ether Propellers simply use coils of wiring and such to channel the ether, but I discovered that the crystalline lattice of a diamond could result in a much more precise control of the Etheric medium. I have used three flawed diamonds in my Governor to effect theis control, and my preliminary tests show that this should more than accomodate the results I desire.

"This invention will allow us to explore the Moon easily; we can flit about as we please, hovering above the surface of the moon or making safe landings whenever we choose. Otterbein's landing was little more than a controlled crash; ours will be as graceful as a bird's.

"You might wonder why bother go to the moon at all nowadays, since after all, it has been explored enough to tell us there is little of worth there. But the Moon has mysteries yet, of this I am sure. On the far side of the Moon lies a region which many spacefarers have reported emits a faint glow when that side of the moon is dark. I have accumulated enough accounts to be certain that this 'glow' is a genuine phenomena, and not just some crackpot story to keep spacemen amused.

"I have a number of theories as to what this 'glow' could be. It could be some rare and mysterious mineral, with unusual luminescent properties, or it could be some sort of life form capable of living in a vacuum. Or, perhaps most interestingly, it could be an artifact left behind by an ancient spacefaring race, a 'marker' of some sort.

"Well, ladies and gentlemen, today I propose we find out just what this 'glow' is. We have the means and the will to do so! If you will collect your things and follow me."

Doctor Grant leads you all outside to a large barn located behind his house. He opens the wide doors to reveal an Ether Flyer inside.

The flyer is about the size of a railway car and is mounted on wheels. hitching a team of horses to the front, Grant pulls the flyer slowly out of it's makeshif hangar and into the sunlight.

"There she is, my friends," Dr. Grant beams, "and she's rarin' to go. Shall we get on board?"

TO THE MOON

Everyone takes their seats in the control room, and Dr. Grant throws a switch connecting the battery power to the motors, and a slight vibration shakes the ship. Julian Leyburne, formerly a Lieutenant Commander of the Royal Navy, sits at the helm, and gradually coaxes the throttle up to half power. The electric motors at the back fo the ship begin whirring, and the propellers begin to spin.

"Dr. Grant, if you would inflate the gas bag, please," Leybourne comments, trying to restrain his enthusiasm.

"Of course, of course," Dr. Grant mutters, and twists a knob on his control panel. A hissing sound can be heard and the large baloon on top of the craft begins to swell. Soon, the flyer lifts from the wheeled carriage is sat on and begins to drift idly upwards. The leisurely speed of ascent increases, and before you know it the flyer is up among the clouds, with a spectacular view of the Arizona landscape below.

The colour of the sky begins to darken, and the clouds are now below the ship. "We're approaching the critical altitude," Leybourne comments, after looking at one of his gauges. "Is the ether propeller ready?"

"Yes, ready as she'll ever be," Dr. Grant jibes.

Leybourne looks intently at his console for a moment, and then flips a switch. Another vibration shakes the ship, this time accompanied by a low hum. Suddenly, there is a jolt, and the flyer seems to be rushing forward at an incredible speed. "It works!" Dr. Grant shouts gleefully, not able to restrain his enthusiasm. "I knew it would..."

The sky darkens quickly, and soon stars are visible. The Earth below soon is visible as a sphere, a beautiful glassy marble far below. And ahead of you lies the Moon, in it's half phase, looking incredibly clear and sharp, a view that is impossible from Earth. "Steady as she goes, Mr. Leybourne," Dr. Grant says with a grin. Leyburne smiles as well.

APPROACH FROM THE FAR SIDE

A mere six hours later, the mountains and craters of the Moon lie only a mile below, standing in sharp relief in the stark sunlight. You have come around to the far side now, which seems to posess none of the dark maria of the near side. Just rugged craters and mountains everywhere.

Grant announces, "I've been gathering eyewitness accounts of this mysterious glow for five years now. According to my calculations we should be approaching its exact position." You are cruising at an altitude of about a mile. The Lunar surface stretches out below you, jagged, gray, and dead. In the distance you can see a soft smudge of light in the blackness. It seems to have a faint greenish tint.

As the flyer approaches the source of the light, Leybourne descends to an altitude of 200 feet and sweeps the ground ahead with the flyer's searchlight. He brings the ship over the source of the glow. It is escaping from a deep gorge, perhaps 100 feet wide, which cuts down into the heart of the planet as far as the eye can see, After any discussion as to the next course of action. Leybourne says:

"We have found the glow. Since we came here, at least in part, to investigate it, it makes no sense to leave without doing so. The controls are working even better than I expected, and we can easily descend down into the gorge."

Dr. Grant suggests that perhaps the party can set the flyer down outside the gorge and explore using spacesuits, but the rest of the group seems in favour of descending into the gorge using the flyer. Leybourne points out that if anything unexpected occurs, the flyer can always climb out of the gorge again. Grant then agrees, and Leybourne steers the flyer into the gorge.

A SLIGHT MISCALCULATION

THE GORGE is a very jagged and dangerous passage leading straight into the Moon itself. Leybourne is be able to pilot the ether flyer carefully through the gorge, sinking ever further into the body of Luna. The speed of descent is a cautious 10 miles per hour. The first several hours' descent into the Moon will bring the glow ever closer, but its source seems still miles deeper.

Dr. Franklin Turquoine notices that the rate of descent is gradually increasing, and the flyer is drifting dangerously close to one of the walls of the gorge. Leybourne begins adjusting the controls.

"Suddenly this thing isn't handling right," Leybourne says, as he begins struggling with the controls. The flyer lurches drunkenly away from the approaching gorge wall, but then nearly hits the opposite wall, pulling away just in time. It begins bobbing up and down as well. Grant hurriedly exclaims, "Something's interfering with the propeller's operation, lowering its efficiency."

"Listen!" exclaims Turqouine. "Hear that whistling on the hull? Good God, there's an atmosphere out there!"

"The Ether Propeller won't work in an atmosphere!" Excaims Leybourne. "We'll have to inflate the hydrogen gas bag!"

Grant lurches for the gas generator controls, but too late. The flyer snags on the gorge wall, nearly tips over, and begins plummeting into the gorge. Grant exclaims hastily, "Damn! Gas bag's ripped!"

"Hang on," Leybourne replies, "I'll try to hit a ledge to break our fall. Otherwise we're goners!"

The flyer finally smashes into a ledge, and all of the characters are thrown to one end of the cabin in a heap, along with all of the loose furniture and equipment. The flyer totters for a moment, then rolls off the ledge and falls again, but this time for only a short distance. It hits the next ledge with a solid, bone-jarring finality. People are thrown to the floor, sustaining minor injuries.

ASSESSING THE DAMAGE

AS THE players sort themselves out, they will feel a slight breeze. Several plates have popped their rivets and fallen off of the hull, and the atmosphere of the gorge is blowing in. It is cool and damp, but breathable. The characters will also notice that the gravity is considerably higher than on the surface of the Moon. There it is only one-sixth that of Earth; here it seems to be nearly one-third of Earth's.

The flyer's hull is severely damaged , but reparable. However, though undamaged, the ether propeller will not budge the ship from down here, as the atmosphere is too dense. The hydrogen bag is torn, but temporary repairs would probably be sufficient for a quick ascent up the gorge to where the atmosphere is thin enough for the ether propeller to take hold. But then comes the final blow; Grant's Ether Propeller Governor is disabled, the large diamond used as an ether lens having shattered when the flyer hit the ledge. (If questioned, Grant will explain that the diamond was badly flawed, nearly worthless for jewelry, which is why he could afford it for his governor.)

All the while the greenish-yellow glow from within Luna bathes the ship in a curious light, mysteriously compelling and repulsive at the same time.

THE EXPEDITION CONTINUES

SALVAGE FROM the ship will provide sufficient food for two weeks, plenty of ropes and climbing equipment (Grant was very careful to get survival gear ready in advance), and whatever special equipment the characters brought along. The logical course of action is to continue the descent, since there is nothing above the characters except vacuum, and remaining with the ship merely means slow starvation. As Grant points out, however, a fresh, breathable atmosphere implies an active life cycle of some sort, and at the very least that might mean food.

 

At this point the actual adventure begins. If any characters are mentioned in the narrative but are not played by player-characters, these characters have become too injured and decide to wait at the flyer while the rest of the party continues into the Moon.


Detailed Start | Quickstart | The Descent | Within Luna | Captured! | The Escape | Selenites