Anyone who has read my bio knows I am working on creating my own space sci-fi tabletop RPG, among many other projects of mine. This story deals with the first adventure I ever gamemastered in this game, entitled Star Alliance. In this, the players were playing members of the crew of the Endeavour, an exploration ship with crew of many different races. My best friend, who was also the best role-player of the group, was playing two characters: the ship's executive officer, and the ship's chief medical officer.
This adventure was rather unusual for me, as it had some elements from the horror genre. Normally, I have little interest in this genre, but this was an exception. I had the basics of this adventure idea floating in my mind before Star Alliance was ever conceived. I took considerable time setting this adventure up, creating a fairly deep story behind the events that would unfold. It wasn't entirely original, but no one is perfect.
Of course, at the beginning of this adventure, the drama wasn't in the story, unfortunately. Instead, the drama was slowly unfolding between my best friend and me. This was the first adventure of an RPG I had been working on for months; it was my first chance to see if the roleplaying system I had been working on was any good. I suspect you can understand the slow burn I was experiencing when my best friend, playing two very important characters, was sitting there planning the next Dungeons and Dragons adventure he was going to gamemaster; I estimate that I was getting somewhere around 10% of his attention.
For the first part, this wasn't entirely a problem. I was just doing some preliminary stuff, before the crew even assembled at their brand new ship, to give them a chance to start playing their characters and get into the mood. Thus, I tolerated this "crime" being perpetrated by my best friend, instead focusing mostly on the characters being played by the others. I was hoping he'd be finished by the time the Endeavour was set to leave.
However, this introductory part passed by, and my friend was still deep into planning his own adventure. I was still fuming, and I began to object. He told me he'd be done soon. I wasn't happy, but I continued on with the story nonetheless. The Hyperion, the Endeavour's sister ship, had set out three days earlier, and while both ships were still en route, the Hyperion discovered an old Anaran derelict. (The Anarans are a old race with highly advanced technology, especially weaponry. They still have a highly traditional imperialist feudal society that leads to frequent civil wars between their houses.) Shortly thereafter, all contact was lost with the Hyperion, and the Endeavour was ordered to change course to investigate.
So, this is the part where I was starting to drop clues about what had happened at this derelict. They passed by the hulk of another ship, obviously destroyed from the inside. The Hyperion was there, docked with the derelict, with damaged systems and all attempts at communication failed. The derelict's propulsion systems had been obviously destroyed long ago. They were also able to determine the age of the ship as about 3,000 years ago, meaning that this ship came from one of the worst civil wars ever fought in the Anaran Empire. The Emperor's son was trying to take the throne from his father, and nearly every house in the Empire had joined one side or the other.
The Hyperion had been sealed up for some reason, however, so the only way to board the Hyperion was to go through the derelict. A party was assembled was do just that. While there, they found some dead bodies, both Human and Anaran. More clues were about to be dropped here, but my friend's nose was still deep in some Dungeons and Dragons sourcebook. Unfortunately, he was playing the medical officer, which was the character with the best chance of figuring out what was about to happen.
I still revealed that the bodies had unusually extensive battle wounds which were far beyond what was necessary to kill them. I also revealed that something alive was still active in their bodies, apparently restoring their tissues. In my opinion, these two clues were very big ones; I didn't really think they should be too surprised by what was about to happen. Of course, since I only had about 10% of my best friend's attention, I shouldn't have expected anything from him. Still being angry, I was tired of trying to get his attention and trying to get him to think about these clues, so I just proceeded with the story.
So, yes, one of the NPC crew members walked over to retrieve a datapad, and the nearby corpse grabbed her throat and began to throttle her. The other "dead" soldiers started to slowly get up.
My best friend didn't catch it at first. The other two players told him what was happening, and I confirmed it when he asked, shocked. At this point, the Dungeons and Dragons books were closed and put aside.
Words are not adequate to express the evil joy and warmth I felt at that moment. I had his full attention for the rest of the adventure.