The Starless World

The Starless World (Star Trek Adventures, #8)The Starless World by Gordon Eklund
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There are a few different things that I look for in Star Trek novels, and some of these are often mutually exclusive.
Is it an entertaining story?
Does it feel like Star Trek?
Does it add depth to familiar characters?
Can I steal the plot to use as an adventure in one of my Star Trek Roleplaying Game sessions?

This is a good example of a novel that hits a couple but not all of the above. Keeping in mind that it was written in 1978 so it predates Star Trek The Motion Picture and everything that follows.

Kirk and the crew end up in a Dyson Sphere dealing with a small group of natives and some Klingons and an impending danger to the world. Fairly standard Star Trek stuff.

There isn’t much in the way of character development, other than a bit of a backstory for Uhura.
While the story was reasonably entertaining, there wasn’t much in it that specifically related to the Enterprise and her crew.
This means that I could quite easily lift the plot from this and turn it into an adventure for my Next Gen crew in my Star Trek Adventures game. I might need to come up with a connection or two for the players to a couple of characters in the story, and probably swap the Klingons for Romulans, but that would be about it.

That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy the story, there just wasn’t anything particularly unique about it.
I will say that I enjoy going back and reading some of these older stories. They are often quite short, this one is 152 pages, and they manage to tell a perfectly fine and complete story without having to add in a bunch of extra padding.

This is a fun novel, worth reading if you want something quick. The characterizations are reasonably good and there is a touch of humor in spots that I enjoy in Star Trek stories.

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The Peacekeeper

The Peacekeeper (The Good Lands, #1)The Peacekeeper by B.L. Blanchard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really wanted to love this book, but I didn’t.
The setting was interesting, and there are certainly some things that I can pull out to use in my Coyote & Crow RPG game which also is a setting where North America was never colonized.
In particular how the legal system is set up and works is quite interesting.

However, the story had a couple of issues that kept me from really enjoying it. First, there is a major plot point around not being able to get a good DNA sample from a body that just doesn’t track. It doesn’t jive with what I know about DNA samples and the author didn’t manage to really sell the point well enough for me to suspend my disbelief. In itself this wouldn’t be too bad if it wasn’t the point that the rest of the story hinges on.

I also wasn’t surprised by who the murderer turned out to be, although the actual details around it were different than I expected, so I’ll give it that.

Overall, I did enjoy the book, but I didn’t love it. I’ll probably still buy the next book in the series when it comes out.

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STA Mission Report 21 – Hockey Night on Narendra

Klingons and Andorians playing Hockey. From the Beta Quadrant Sourcebook

Adventure Source: Home Brew

Meetup Link: https://www.meetup.com/Star-Trek-Gaming/events/282311716/ NOTE: The description of the event is actually for the next event. This adventure was a last minute substitution and Meetup won’t let me edit a past event.

Game Date: December 19 2021

Session Post: No Session Post

Teaser: The star goalie for the Klingon ‘apuStoQ (Hawks) hockey team has gone missing the day before the playoff game against the Andor Atomics on Narendra Station. Things on the station are already tense and this certainly doesn’t help.

Active Characters:

  • Cmd. O’Nnyah (Raven)
  • Lt Cmd. Taemin Rahn (Garrett)
  • Lt. Kirkuurzhaav th’Zoarhi (Trevor)
  • Ensign Wolfgang Ratzel (Terry)
  • Dok – Acting Chief Engineer (Kelly)

Important NPCs:

  • Ch’ty Shon – star goalie for the ‘apuStoQ
  • Krethom G’ork – Captain of the ‘apuStoQ
  • Zheoren “Zheo” th’Fluery – Captain of the Atomics
  • Captain Pja Takenka – Orion Ship Captain

Notable Information: Captain Pja Takenka was first encountered in the Fading Suns adventure. It takes place shortly before the Klingons leave the Khitomer Accords. Star Fleet is aware of the possibility of Changling infiltrations and has just started implementing testing.

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STA Mission Report 20 – As Many As Six Impossible Things

Adventure Source: Shackleton Expanse Campaign Guide – Chapter 06.50

Meetup Link: https://www.meetup.com/Star-Trek-Gaming/events/281170176/

Game Date: October 17 2021

Session Post: No Session Post

Teaser:

Mysterious claims are intertwined with tenuous realities in this mission as the players’ ship enters the pocket universe containing the Displaced Tilikaal, suffering multiple system overloads during the passage. The crew struggles to perform repairs while experiencing hallucinations caused by background electromagnetic fields within the pocket universe.

In addition to the Prime Directive, the Directives for this mission are to:

Respond to the Tilikaal’s call for help.
Rescue lost Starfleet officers.
Escape the pocket universe.

Active Characters:

  • Captain T’Kor (Terry)
  • Cmd. O’Nnyah (Raven)
  • Lt. Cmd. Sivath (Garrett)
  • Lt. Cmd. Reittan Andreas (Jon)
  • Lt Cmd. Taemin Rahn (Garrett)
  • Lt. Cmd. Sivath (Garrett)
  • Chief Petty Officer Dallas Brenner (Jon)
  • Dok – Acting Chief Engineer (Kelly)

Important NPCs:

  • Ash’Tamalia

Notes: This was the follow up adventure to the cliff hanger ending of the last adventure of the Living Campaign that had been found on the Modiphius Website. The adventures from the website were gathered up into the Shackleton Expanse Campaign Guide. Some of them were include whole, others were shrunk down to Mission Briefs.

Notable Information:

Mysterious claims are intertwined with tenuous realities in this mission as the players’ ship enters the pocket universe containing the Displaced Tilikaal, suffering multiple system overloads during the passage. The crew struggles to perform repairs while experiencing hallucinations caused by background electromagnetic fields within the pocket universe. Two Starfleet officers, who entered the universe separately from the ship, briefly appear on the bridge, then disappears. The crew finds ways to mitigate the EM fields, rescue the Starfleet officer, and meet Ash’Tamalia’s spiritual form, her aderi, face to face. She tells the story of the Displaced and pleads for Starfleet to help them escape the pocket universe and reclaim their physical bodies.
The crew then finds a way to open a portal back to the Candidate Three system and they and their ship return to their universe.

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STA Mission Report 19 – The Displaced

Adventure Source: Living Campaign Adventure 09

Meetup Link: https://www.meetup.com/Star-Trek-Gaming/events/277888912/

Game Date: May 9 2021

Session Post: No Session Post

Teaser: “Captain’s Log, Stardate 48964.5. We’re docked at Narendra Station under red alert conditions and on the way to a war council with Admiral Hebert, General Kargan, and the senior staffs of the other Federation ships stationed here. I suspect we’re going to be ordered back to the Candidate Three system, which suits me just fine. We left rather unexpectedly and unwillingly, and I’d like to have some words with Assessor Tredik if I get the chance and try to get to the bottom of whatever secrets he’s hiding about that strange alien transmission we received on the planet.”

Active Characters:

  • Cmd. O’Nnyah (Raven)
  • Lt. Cmd. Reittan Andreas (Jon)
  • Lt Cmd. Taemin Rahn (Garrett)
  • Lt. Asha (Jaime)
  • Ensign Wolfgang Ratzel (Terry)
  • Dok – Acting Chief Engineer (Kelly)

Important NPCs:

  • Captain Georj Brandt – Captain of the U.S.S. Kimura
  • Assessor Tredik

Notes: This was a straight run through of the adventure as published so I have not provided a detailed description . This was run using the version of the adventure from the Living Campaign on the Modiphius website. This is now also available in the Shackleton Expanse Campaign Guide. This was the last of the Adventures from the Modiphius website. The Shackleton Expanse Campaign Guide had been announced but wasn’t going to be published until near the end of 2021. Because this adventure ended on a cliffhanger, I decided this would be a good point to take a break in the campaign for awhile. We normally break over summer, but this ended up being a little longer than our usual break.

Notable Information: In this mission, the Player Characters join in a council of war held aboard Narendra Station. Threats of renewed hostilities with the Tzenkethi and possible Changeling infiltrations throughout the Alpha and Beta Quadrants have heightened tensions on the station, in addition to the current threat of a focused Romulan incursion into the Shackleton Expanse, specifically toward the Candidate Three system detailed in the previous Living Campaign mission, “The Assessor Gambit”. The Players will investigate anomalous readings on the planet, and will again encounter the strange alien being, Assessor Tredik, just before all hell breaks loose.

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STA Mission Report 18 – The Assessor Gambit

Adventure Source: Living Campaign Adventure 08

Meetup Link: https://www.meetup.com/Star-Trek-Gaming/events/277234759/

Game Date: April 11 2021

Session Post: No Session Post

Teaser: Captain’s Log,
Stardate 48942.6. We’ve been recalled to Narendra Station, where Admiral Hebert has called me and my senior staff in for a major scientific briefing.
The fact the other captains and staffs assigned to the Expanse are here too doesn’t bode well. Someone’s figured out how to put together some of the puzzle pieces we’ve found over the last several months.

I’m deeply curious to see what the picture looks like, though I have to admit to a certain level of dreadful anticipation as well.

Active Characters:

  • Cmd. O’Nnyah (Raven)
  • Lt. Cmd. Reittan Andreas (Jon)
  • Lt Cmd. Taemin Rahn (Garrett)
  • Lt. Cmd. Reittan Andreas (Jon)
  • Lt. Asha (Jaime)
  • Ensign Wolfgang Ratzel (Terry)
  • Dok – Acting Chief Engineer (Kelly)

Important NPCs:

  • Captain Georj Brandt – Captain of the U.S.S. Kimura
  • Assessor Tredik

Notes: This was a straight run through of the adventure as published so I have not provided a detailed description . This was run using the version of the adventure from the Living Campaign on the Modiphius website. This is now also available in the Shackleton Expanse Campaign Guide.

Notable Information: In this adventure, the Players Characters join in a scientific and strategic meeting held aboard Narendra Station. At this briefing, they begin to see the bigger picture of the strange goings-on within the Expanse and how alien technology and artifacts are related to the revelation of something called the Tilikaal. The Players will investigate the disappearance of Federation sensor probes, and then run afoul of a Romulan landing party on a massive Class-M world teeming with ancient power. The Players will have the opportunity to encounter a new alien character, who is as mysterious as anything else they’ve yet encountered.

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Calgary Mayoral Election 2021

Since Naheed Nanshi has declared that he isn’t going to run for Mayor in 2021, it’s time to take a look at the list of who is running and decide who is worth considering.

The list of Candidates can be found on the City of Calgary website, as of July 19th, there are 20 candidates listed. The final official list of candidates will be made available after September 20, 2021.

The initial biographies of the candidates are from Sprawl Calgary.

There is also a good review of the candidates websites by glazerspoon on Reddit.

As in previous years I’ll be looking for candidates that have at least some experience in either politics or business. I’ll be eliminating anyone that seems to be a “one issue” candidate and I’ll also be be eliminating any that has a grand list of what they would like to do but fails to offer up any suggestions on how they plan to accomplish it.

The issues that I am interested in are:

  • The Green Line – I’m in favour of the Green Line, and improved public transit in general.
  • Bike Lanes – I’m also in favour of Bike Lane.
  • Covid Vaccinations – Any candidate that opposes Covid vaccinations will probably land in the Assorted Nuts group. I have a little more tolerance for an anti masking stance, depending on the reasoning, but it would definitely be a negative.
  • Police Budget – This is a tough one. I would only be in favor of this if the money was guaranteed to go to services that would move some responsibilities from the police to more appropriate services. It’s a tough issue

Unlike most of the posts I do on this page, I’m planning on going in and changing and adding to this one as things move along. I’ll be rearranging the list and adding additional information on the candidates as I discover it.

I will be assigning candidates to various categories as I review them, as well as adding my opinions on them. It’s quite possible that a candidate could change categories as the campaign goes along. The categories are:

  • Serious Candidates – These are candidates that seem to be invested in their campaign and have a reasonable chance of getting votes. All former Councilors land here and a few others as well.
  • Unreviewed – Candidates that I don’t know much about yet and haven’t reviewed yet.
  • Frivolous Candidates – These candidates are ones that have either put very little effort into their campaign, only address one or two issues, or don’t seem to have any realistic details on how to accomplish what they are proposing.
  • Assorted Nuts – Candidates that in my opinion are either nuts themselves or anyone voting for them would have to be nuts or have other even less desirable qualities.

The initial arrangement will simply be listing them in the order that they appear on the City website, which appears to be alphabetical. As things progress I may move people that I consider to be serious candidates to the top and others to the bottom. Note, just because someone is a serious candidate doesn’t mean I would consider voting for them. For example, It would take a minor miracle for me to vote for Farkas even though he has to be considered a serious candidate.

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STA Mission Report 17 – We Are The Stars That Sing With Our Life

Adventure Source: Living Campaign Adventure 07

Meetup Link: https://www.meetup.com/Star-Trek-Gaming/events/268429703/

Game Date: March 14 2021

Session Post: No Session Post

Teaser: Following the discoveries on Seku VI during the episode Signals, Starfleet has ordered all starships assigned to Narendra Station to the region around the Alpha Toryui star system. They are to assist in the recovery of a civilian archaeological team and in assisting a Starfleet Corps of Engineers Geospatial survey platoon from Alpha Toryui II after long range sensors detected that the primary of the system was days from gravitational collapse and becoming a supernova.

Active Characters:

  • Cmd. O’Nnyah (Raven)
  • Lt. Cmd. Reittan Andreas (Jon)
  • Lt Cmd. Taemin Rahn (Garrett)
  • Lt. Jr. Wolfgang Ratzel (Terry)
  • Dok – Ferengi arms designer/dealer (Kelly)

Important NPCs:

  • Captain Georj Brandt – New Captain of the U.S.S. Kimura

Notes: This was a straight run through of the adventure as published so I have not provided a detailed description. My crew focused primarily on the sun and the orbiting debris rather than the planet itself. I had created a grid to keep track of time during this adventure. I intended it just as a tracker but it actually worked really well to increase tension during the game. The characters tokens would move down the grid as they took various actions, The dark lines indicated when gravimetric waves would hit the ship, and the supernova was at the bottom. The gold tokens were used to track the number of successes each round for extended tasks.

The countdown clock

Notable Information: More examples of the ancient alien technology have been found in the Alpha Toryui system. Energy is being drawn from the red giant star, which leads to the star’s collapse and the entire system gets pulled through a subspace rift. The telepathic and empathic members of the crew hear a voice saying “Tilikaal…help us…please…”

Mission Recap: Alpha Toryui is a three-planet system with a red giant star reaching the end of its life span in the center. Federation scientists are interested in the star as it has shown evidence of being far too young to be reaching the last stages of its existence before becoming a supernova and some researchers have suggested an ancient species may have performed a sort of stellar re-engineering project for an unknown purpose. Initial surveys of the three rocky worlds orbiting Alpha Toryui don’t show signs of any former inhabitation or terraforming. The only evidence the unknown species left behind of their presence in the system were wrecked and useless orbital constructs circling the bloated red primary. There were also chambers found on Alpha Troyui II that contained some artifacts and and many obviously artificial complexes.

The Crew of the Kimura was deployed to the Alpha Toryui system to rendezvous with U.S.S. Mogami to assist in the evacuation of a team of archaeologists and several unique ancient artifacts from below the surface of the second world

Further scans of the system shows a strange sensor shadow deep in the star. The wreckage around the sun seems to have once been gravitationally bound to this sensor shadow. The are indications that suggest that there used to be a second , high mass object, that also orbited the star. This could be the sensor shadow but it proves to be impossible to get any good readings from it even after sending in probes. They do detect some flickers of power from some of the orbiting debris during one of the many flares from the sun.

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Aquarium – Populating the tank – Fish

Of course, the main feature of an aquarium is the fish! I’ll start off with a recent video of what the aquarium looks like now:

This shows off most of the fish and other critters that currently live in my aquarium.

Of course you don’t start an aquarium off with a full population of fish, you need to add them over a period of time, in my case over three months. This gives the biological cycle time to get established and to adjust to the increased bioload of a fully populated tank. I started off with six Black Neons and two Bristlenose Plecos. It also shows what the tank looked like earlier on, and how much the plants have grown since then.

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