Sunday 25 August 2019

Ringworld - Five Aliens and a Stasis Box

Written by Reiko

Quinn’s Journal #2: "I've managed to escape with Chmeee's son in the prototype ship, but now the Puppeteers want us to go retrieve some ancient technology in stasis boxes on Ringworld. How are we ever going to catch up with the Destroyer? These boxes are not exactly easy to get to, either. Seeker is confident as always, but he's taking the worst of the danger during these retrieval missions."

Landing at Ringworld's spaceport

We get some interesting visuals depicting the huge scale of the thing as we land in a spaceport area and descend to the surface of the Ringworld. We land near a primitive tribe of people, who are apparently holding onto an artifact that the Puppeteers want. The strongest of the "stasis reflection" signals points to near this location. It's so strong that it might even be something as large as a spaceship.

Seeker suggests using the "God Gambit" to awe the natives and get them to do what we want. They're not quite as cooperative as we'd like, though. We have to prove ourselves worthy before we can access the stasis artifact. Seeker is sent off on a mission to kill the "Screaming Devil," some monster which has been terrorizing the village.

The priest of the People in the Canyon controls access to the artifact.

Meanwhile Miranda and Quinn stay in the village and try to talk to the high priest of the tribe, who describes himself as the "Holder of the Key to the Sacred Tech," among other things. He calls their artifact the "Sky Silver." Seems like some piece of advanced technology fell from the sky and the tribe has been guarding it ever since.

From the main village screen, there's something that acts like a forcefield preventing us from entering the area where the Sky Silver is kept. Next to that exit, I find some kind of column with five black spots arranged in a square with a spot in the middle. Four small objects rest nearby, which can be placed on the spots, but the correct arrangement is not immediately obvious.

The chief thinks Seeker, or "See-Ku," is a god, but
Quinn and Miranda don't get the same level of respect.

I tried to talk to the tribe's chief, but after a brief exchange, he won't talk to me again unless I give him "strong drink." Lacking any further leads, I can't think of anything to do but to go back to the lander, where Quinn comments that "Alterian Moonshine" would probably be an appropriate sort of strong drink. That's an interestingly specific need, but I have no idea where to get that.

Dolphin prosthetics, how creative.

I start looking around the lander and discover the ship's computer. Which says nothing about moonshine, Alterian or otherwise, but does contain rather a lot of interesting information about various races and their backstories. Apparently in this future, dolphins and whales are sentient and have been given strap-on flipper "hand" prosthetics so that they can actually manipulate tools and work with technology. Not that that seems to have any direct bearing on the story, but it's great worldbuilding.

The replicator options are displayed like dialogue choices.

Miranda's occupied with running some diagnostics while I go looking for moonshine. Eventually I discover the elevator and use it to go to level 2. There I can see several doors to various places like the autodoc, but the most useful thing is the food replicator, which offers me five options, one of which is just labeled "ale." I'm not sure if that's strong enough, but I take it anyway. Quinn has a comment about the other four options and appears to take them, but there's nothing else added to my inventory besides the bottle of ale.

In the storage room I find a medkit I can take, as well as the airlock and pressure suits for everyone. Seeker seems to have two pressure suits, a normal one and a suit that looks like armor. Quinn wonders if it's legal for him to have the battle suit. Miranda's suit is stowed with her boots placed separately for some reason. I can also have Quinn put on his suit and walk around, but I'm told I don't need the airlock right now, so I don't seem to need the suit either. I suspect there might be a scene later where I have to get into the suit and exit through the airlock, though.

My quarters are quite colorful.

I check out my quarters but find little of interest aside from some colorful alien art and a gravity field "bed." A cabinet inside a table holds a few things from the previous owner (although who would that have been if this is a prototype...?), including a copy of Moby Dick and a "song sphere," but nothing I can take or manipulate. The third level holds just the bridge, but I find nothing to do there as well. A hatch that gives emergency access to bridge controls is locked. Each level holds the same computer with the same information, in case I feel the need to look something up at a moment's notice, I guess.

I guess he does consider "Ku-In" to be a god also.
And she makes it very clear later what "rishathra" involves...

Well, I've got the ale, so I leave the lander, collecting Miranda on the way out, and we return to the village. When I get there, we automatically greet the chief and offer him the ale as a gift. Miranda stays with the chief to make sure he gets drunk, while Quinn, as a reward, gets the honor of bedding the chief's daughter, which she is actually very happy about. I'm not even making this up. Once the daughter is satisfied and asleep (which happens automatically and mostly off-screen), Quinn gets the opportunity to move around again and try to get to the stasis artifact by bringing down the force field.

Is that a ladder in your pocket, or...?

I regain control in the chief's kitchen, where the daughter has her bed (to tend the spit, perhaps?). I first notice and take a rope hanging on a peg. When I exit the kitchen, I find myself back in the chief's room, where he has just become so drunk that he passes out on Miranda. He won't get in our way again for a while. Miranda hints that I might want to find something useful in that room, so I swipe the chief's ladder, which seems to disappear into my pocket, despite being significantly taller than Quinn.

Well, that was not smart.

When I leave the chief's room, the guard is just walking away and doesn't seem to see me. I'm sure I don't want him to interfere with what I'm doing, so I quickly drop the ladder right by the wall so that Quinn can climb up on top of the caves. I can't really move around up there, but I have access to two holes. The hole on the right, with lots of smoke, drops me straight down into the chief's cooking fire. Whoops.

The hole on the left, with just a wisp of smoke, drops me into the temple, but landing from that height causes too much noise. The priest comes in and pokes me and warns me not to go in there again. I saved and tried again without doing anything different, just to see if his threat meant anything, but the same thing happened again, so I guess not. To make less noise, I've got to climb down the rope, but using the rope on the hole doesn't work. Using it on the nearby rock outcropping does, though.

This was surprisingly difficult to see on the back wall.

Inside the temple, I examine and poke everything multiple times before I discover that there's a drawing on an old piece of skin on the back wall, which shows me the correct arrangement for the objects near the force field. NW: moon, NE: planet, SW: comet, SE: star, center: ring. I go back to the force field controls and put all the pieces that are there in the correct places, but I seem to be missing one. I don't have the ring shape that's supposed to go in the center.

I look around again and finally remember that I can go into the priest's room in front of the temple room too. I spot the ring shape on the priest's necklace hanging by the opening in the back of the room, but I can't get it from there, or the priest wakes up from his nap and scolds me again. I have to go back up the ladder, climb down the rope into the temple, and go into the room from the back so I'm standing by the back opening. Then I can quietly grab the necklace and return the way I came.

All five pieces in place on the control box.

When I get back down to the front, Seeker appears with his kill, whatever monster it was that was disturbing the village. After he's taken care of that (it's clear that he's planning to eat it at some point), then I can use the necklace and place all five shapes in the correct places to disable the force field.

That's at least 25,000 years old, apparently.

Seeker and Quinn go look at the Sky Silver, but it's an ancient ship encased in a stasis field. I can do nothing with it other than scan it with my scanner (finally an actual use for the thing), which tells us we have no way of breaking the stasis field.

We leave empty-handed in the end, so Seeker decides we need to look for the next "stasis reflection" which could be what the Puppeteers want. I thought they gave us coordinates, but I guess those were just approximate, and we have multiple possibilities within that area. There's some discussion about how the stasis field objects might be from the ancient Thrintun Slaver civilization, which would be valuable technology.

Suddenly, the Hindmost's hologram appears again, and he insists we tell him everything we found so far. Quinn tells him we found nothing yet, but we're on our way to check the next location right away. Hindmost urges us to hurry, as our race's survival might depend on it. But the group doesn't really trust him and doesn't want to tell him any more than necessary.

Stubborn Kzinti pride at work here...

At any rate, we land near the next significant signal, which seems to be located within a cave. Seeker and Quinn proceed to have an argument about whether Seeker is going to go into the cave by himself to investigate, or whether Quinn will go too. Outside the cave, we find a pile of humanoid bones, which redoubles Seeker's insistence on going alone. Seeker thinks he's a mighty warrior that doesn't need any backup, and Quinn just wants to help watch his back. I get one conversational choice here, but it doesn't seem to matter what I say, because Quinn ends up going back to the lander to help Miranda track Seeker while he enters the cave.

Seeker smells humanoids and comments that all humanoids smell like food to him, which is not particularly reassuring to Miranda and Quinn. The smell keeps getting stronger until suddenly we get a glimpse of a fierce alien humanoid on Seeker's monitor, and then we lose the signal. Miranda suggests that Quinn needs to go after him, and make sure to take a medkit (which I already found in the storage room).

The snare was only the obvious sort of trap, and not large enough for a human.

I cautiously step into the cave. It's pretty creepy, with an odd smell and some bat-like creatures flying around. One of the creatures is caught in a snare made out of tough fibers. One strand of the fiber runs deep into a hole, but I can't do anything with it. When I start to move back toward the entrance from that hole, I very suddenly fall into another hole that had been concealed. It's a trap! (It was so sudden that I was completely startled.)

Quinn acts drunk.

The creatures that had captured Seeker have captured me too. I try to talk to their leader, the "Flesheater Lord," but he's not having it, and throws me into the same "food pit" where they've put Seeker. I noticed that their speech seemed completely unintelligible at first, but after a few exchanges, Quinn started getting a few words. The same thing happened at the village. He must have some sort of universal translator that needs some input before it starts working. The creatures also give off some sort of odor or pheromone that makes Quinn dizzy and ineffective.

In the pit, Quinn's head clears. I check on Seeker, who's unresponsive, so I use the medkit on him to give him a stimulant. He's still mostly unresponsive, so I scoop up a sharp bit of bone from whatever else died in the pit before we got there, and squeeze through a narrow tunnel to get back to the original cavern. I have to be really careful where I step, or I'll fall into the trap again, but if I go around, I can use the sharp bone to cut the cord of the snare and free the bat creature.

The grateful bat-creature is willing to help me.

I can't find anything else to do, but after I let myself get caught and put back into the food pit, the next time I try to leave, the bat creature I freed appears and talks to me. It says it can show me a way out, and it gives me an anti-pheromone drug. Quinn automatically takes it, and then I can also administer it to Seeker to wake him up the rest of the way. (Rather fortunate that it works on both human and Kzinti physiology.) Since he can't get out the same way I can, he stays there while I escape again and get the bat creature to show me how to get to the eaters' "throne room." We can't leave without getting that stasis box.

I follow the bat creature off toward the left, but suddenly I run into a couple of the eaters again, and they drop me back into the food pit. Well, this is getting old. I try again, and this time I stun one before they can grab me. The rest scatter and leave me alone. I find the stone covering the food pit and open it so Seeker can get out. The bat creature is hanging from the ceiling there, so I talk to it one more time, and it tells me to push the big pillar. I poke at the pillar a bit and find a stone that looks out of place. Pushing it takes me to the big room full of skulls that had been full of the eaters before, but is now completely empty. I take the shining stasis box, collect Seeker, and we walk out completely unopposed. That was rather anti-climactic.

Back on the lander, we set course for the next stasis reflection, but in the meantime, we decide to try to open the box we just got, especially because Hindmost calls again and demands to know our progress. We tell him truthfully that we got one box but we haven't had a chance to open it yet, and he goes away. I get a dialog choice to look up information on stasis fields, or just go ahead with opening it.

The entry on stasis fields in the lander's computer.

I had read the entry on stasis fields along with the rest of them a while back, but I review it again, just in case. It says there are two kinds of stasis fields: protection fields, which usually have no controls and operate automatically, like the one around that crashed ship, and preservation fields, which usually have controls and enclose things to be stored for later, like pieces of technology. If the box has a preservation field, we might be able to open it.

It also says that one stasis field cannot exist inside another. The larger takes precedence. That turns out to be the key to opening these boxes, as Miranda can simply generate a field around the box, which deactivates the box's field. Inside it, she finds some kind of device, which sends out a beam that leaves Quinn feeling odd, with tingling fingers and a ringing in his ears. Maybe we'll figure out what that does later.

Ringworld map of the coordinates given by Hindmost.

Next time, we'll go after the next box. I'm not certain how many of these stops for boxes there will be, but I realized later that there had been a map shown when we first arrived at Ringworld. The map shows five stasis reflection points, and we've been to two of them so far, so there should only be three more.

Number of people stunned by Quinn: 1 (the Flesheater); 4 total
Number of actions taken by Quinn other than stunning: 18 (including getting 7 items: the ale, the medkit, the rope, the ladder, the ring-necklace, the sharp bone, and the stasis box); 24 total
Number of conversational choices: 3 (two in the argument with Seeker, stasis field choice) [and a half? if the replicator counts]; 7 total
Number of deaths: 1 (falling in the cook fire); 2 total
Number of alien species encountered: 5 (2 from the first session: Kzinti and Puppeteers, 3 from this one: the People of the Canyon, the Flesheaters, the bat-creatures)

Session Time: 2 hrs 20 min
Total Time: 3 hrs 10 min

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There’s a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!


  1. Cool Monkey Island fanart:

  2. Those flesh-eaters look uncannily like the iconic Morlocks from one of the Time machine films!

    1. Ha, you're right! Oddly enough, according to Wikipedia, Larry Niven did borrow the Morlocks (as did several other science fiction writers), but it wasn't here. They were on a human colony world in the Alpha Centauri system.