The characters find themselves still on the “shuttle”, but floating in space. Earth is visible far below them, but surrounding them is the Nightship.
It doesn’t take long before they learn that simply stepping off the edge of the shuttle causes them to teleport onto the ship. They start exploring.
The first thing they find is a corridor leading around the “inside” of the ship. The ceiling and the outside wall are transparent, giving a clear view of the shuttle floating in the middle of the ship, the Earth below them, and the Sun and stars beyond. On the “inside” of the corridor they see a series of dark ovals. Eventually one of then steps into the oval and finds themselves in another room.
The first room they find themselves in has a collection of tables and chairs along with a series of slots in the interior walls. The exterior wall and ceiling are transparent, as is standard for the entire Nightship. They soon determine that the slots are sleeping bunks (with entertainment and medical facilities) and that they can get food and drink from the tables. There are two rooms like this on the ship, each apparently set up to hold 7 humanoids. The original inhabitants were apparently close to (but slightly smaller than) humans.
The next room they explore is a mostly-empty room with a “cabinet” on each end. One cabinet contains a dead raider but they are unable to determine how he died. They cannot determine what this room was used for so they leave it.
The room on the opposite side contains racks each holding a clockwork body (without heads). They consult Ada who tells them that her people long ago abandoned their biological bodies for clockwork ones. They would swap their bodies for specialized ones depending on their needs. After some discussion they attach Ada’s head to one of the bodies. Grateful that she doesn’t have to be carried by one of them any more, she agrees to help them understand the ship.
They next investigate the two forward rooms. Each of these contains a set of long tables on which are set what they at first think are miniature landscapes. Ada tells them that these aren’t landscapes; they are actually samples from the planets they have visited. There are three tables, each holding seven miniatures, so there are 42 “samples” on the ship.
Ada shows them a by-now familiar raised platform at the end of the room. If one of the miniatures is taken from the table and placed on the dais, it “expands” to fill the entire platform. A person can then step “into” the sample landscape.
The characters pick a miniature at random, one showing a farmstead surrounded by fields, and place it onto the dais. They then step into it.
They find themselves standing in an open field full of dead wheat. The sky is grey overhead and a wall of mist is behind them. They know the farmstead is somewhere ahead of them and walk towards it.
As they do, Ada tells them these “samples” are about 20 kilometers across. The shuttle they came to the Nightship on is designed to be able to collect these samples. If a sample base is placed on the center platform on the shuttle when it returns to the ship, then it will “collect” the area around it. (Equivalent to the area of the visual distortion they observed when they first encountered the shuttle.) All of the sample bases are full at the moment, but if a used base is placed on the shuttle’s platform when it goes down, then it will “swap” the sample it contains for the new one when it returns; effectively replacing the new sample on the planet with the old sample.
They eventually reach the farmhouse and find it old and abandoned. They realize that this sample has been sitting unused and abandoned for some time.
The farmhouse is abandoned and falling apart and the barn contains skeletons of animals that died long ago. Eventually they find their way into a cellar which contains four glass tubes. Three of the tubes are dry and contain a humanoid skeleton while the fourth is filled with a greenish liquid and holds a human female.
They are able to figure out how to open the tube and do so. The woman, whose name they learn is Lenara, only knows that their farm suddenly became isolated, the stream quit flowing and the sun disappeared. Eventually her family decided their only choice was to retreat to their shelter and wait for rescue. As near as she can tell that was several hundred years ago.
Everyone is disconcerted by this, including Ada who says that they would never have left a sample alone for that long. Lenara refuses to go with them as they leave, insisting that she will stay with her farmstead and bury her family. They return to the edge of the “sample”, step into the mist, and find themselves back on the Nightship.
They start looking at the samples to see if any others seem to be of interest. They find one that seems to be an empty field containing a bright blue lake and place it on the dais.
Entering it they find sparse grass and mostly dead trees surrounding the lake. The lake itself doesn’t contain water, but instead is some thick, blue substance.
They try to get a sample of the substance but it seems to move on its own and extends tendrils towards them whenever they get near it. Finally, one character allows the tendril to touch him. He is quickly covered by the blue substance and is pulled into the lake.
There is a brief panic, but the tendril then extends from the lake again and pulls back, revealing a different person. This person is able to tell them that the “lake” is something called a “pattern”. It holds the “patterns” of dozens of beings. They have no idea how long they were held within the pattern; their existence there was a period of timeless bliss. They express interest in staying with the party for a while and the others agree; theorizing that the character in the pattern will not suffer harm while there.
((The player involved wanted to change characters; this was the method I chose.))
Finally, the characters explore the aft-most room on the Nightship. There they find a large room with transparent floors, walls, and ceilings; they seem to be suspended in space. High above them there is another clockwork, hanging from a series of tubes connecting them to the walls of the chamber.
They try multiple ways to contact the clockwork but it is unresponsive. They finally realize that it has wound down and they need to rewind it. Unfortunately, they have no way to get up to it.
One of the characters decides to become a clockwork. They go to the room with the two cabinets and the character enters the first. After a few minutes, the second cabinet opens revealing a clockwork head.
The characters then take the head to the room with the clockwork bodies and attach it to a body with wings. They all then return to the “pilot” room.
The character now with flying skills flies up to the suspended clockwork and winds it up. The clockwork comes to life and identifies itself as “Pilot”.
Pilot is now able to answer questions. He tells them that he has been inert for some time and has no idea what has happened in the interim. He tells them that the ship (which he never identifies by name) had been out exploring the galaxy and taking samples from the planets they visited. Along the way they ran into a carnivorous species that exclusively fed on intelligent life forms; apparently the fear and pain as they were eaten flavored the “meat” in a way they found delicious. They converted themselves to clockworks so that they would no longer be “prey” for the lizard-like species and erased much of their memories and records so the lizards would not be able to find their way back to their home world.
However, something must have happened. Pilot’s memories stop almost immediately thereafter, as do Ada’s. There should be a dozen or more other crew-members but none of them are here. And he does not remember coming to Earth, or even recognize the planet. From the condition of most of the samples in the sample chambers, it has been several hundred years at least.
The characters discuss what to do next. They learn that the ship can instantly move to any location, but that location is defined by a set of one or more “navigation crystals” that are placed on a console in Pilot’s chamber. However, they only have one crystal (the winged statue they picked up earlier) but it is missing the plaque that would indicate what it is. They can use it, but will have no idea where they are going.
One of them realizes that they also will not have any way to get back. They don’t have the crystals for Earth, or even know what the coordinates for Earth are.
From what records he does have, Pilot is able to determine that the Nightship is stationed above what it thinks is the location of a base on the planet but it has been so long since they have been here that the continents themselves have moved. They are over the wrong spot. He thinks he can get them to the proper location so that they can go down to the base. Hopefully they will be able to find a set of crystals there.
The characters agree and Pilot moves the ship to a different location over the supercontinent. The characters, along with Ada and the horse-drawn carriage (that they are still leading around) enter the shuttle and descend to the base.