Apollo Era Time Travel

Hi Everybody,

I am currently working on an adventure idea where same unknown power sabotages the Apollo 11 launch. By this action history is changed in such a way that said power is dominating the quadrant and Earth is just a slave planet of this power. The PCs where protected by some effect in the Shakelton Expanse and know something is wrong. They have to go back in time (maybe slingshot like in ST IV) , fix the launch and restore the proper timeline.
Any thoughts?
Kind Regards

My first thoughts are Romulans. If Apollo 11 failed, that would have been a major drawback on Earth’s spaceflight programmes. Maybe the 10 or 20 years it took Humans to try again were enough to delay humanity’s first warp flight enough that the NX programme took off to late to intervene in the Romulan infiltration of the Vulcan government. Without Capt. Archer there to bring Vulcans, Andorians and Tellarites together, the Romulans could have taken over first the Vulcans, then the other powers in the Alpha-/Beta Quadrant. Maybe the Klingons are now the only power resisting a near-overwhelming Romulan force.

You could place the slingshot maneuver at the Shackleton pinwheel. This will be a very dramatic scene in its own, as the gravimetric shear forces could tear the players’ ship apart halfway through. And I did not even mention the pinwheels radiation and particle emissions…
You could include an extended task for the ship’s helmsperson while the anomaly hammers down shields and structural integrity of the ship during the maneuver… :slight_smile:

Note that the Apollo 11 mission took place only 5 years after the formal end of segregation in the US. It took off in Florida in the US south, where e.g. schools were segregated until Brown vs. Board of Education (decision of the Supreme Court) in 1954. So, the topic of racism might be something that players might (or might not, depending on the content warnings on your campaign) encounter. Another social topic that might be something to reflect on during this episode might be the role of women. You might watch the movie “Hidden Figures”, taking place about 10 years before Apollo 11 to get an idea of problems or complications you might (or might not, depending on your players) want to include.

If you want to include some headaching time-paradoxon, give the players themselves some opportunity to ensure their protection in their future, in the past. Maybe they smuggle some small probe aboard Apollo 11 and conceal its launch during the mission. Maybe that probe arrives in the Shackleton Expanse just at the right moment to protect the players from the Romulans’ interference with the timeline.

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Great Ideas!

The part about segregation has great potential! I had not thought about that. “Hidden Figures” I watched, it is a great movie. Thank you for the hint to look at it for ideas!
Using the pinwheel is also a great idea. If the crew has no idea how to travel back in time they will discover logs about the slingshot and scans may point to the pinwheel.

Romulans are what is in my mind, too. They have been an antagonist in many of the previous adeventure, so that will fit. I think maybe some time traveling Romulans sabotage the launch which is of course a massive blow. And from there on it starts to go downhill for mankind. And Archer being just a little late is much better then my thoughts about how the new timeline would develop!

"If you want to include some headaching time-paradoxon, give the players themselves some opportunity to ensure their protection in their future, in the past. "
Yes! Much better than some phenomenon! The probe will work, I think. "If you want to include some headaching time-paradoxon, give the players themselves some opportunity to ensure their protection in their future, in the past. "

Yes! Much better than some phenomenon! The probe will work, I think. Or: Maybe sometime during their adventure they will get access to telemetric data of the sabotaged Apollo 11 launch and hidden in that data they will find hints about themselves. Suggesting they did plant that information in the past. (edit: I like the probe better since it will give a good start for the adventure.)

So: Thank you, MisterX, you made my adventure idea much, much better,

It might also be a first hint at time shenanigans when players discover that the probe was sent off of earth in the 1960ies.

My pleasure. :slight_smile: Have fun with the episode and maybe tell us how the story finally developed, after you ran this episode! :slight_smile:

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Yes! The will discover that the probe was build using facilities on their ship. But of course they will not remember building it. And they will discover that the probe is 400 years old.

EDIT: I will post when we played. But that may take some time.

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I burrowed the idea from Star Wreck In the Pirkinning. Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning (with subtitles in 10 languages) - YouTube
If the Apollo program fail, maybe the USSR can prevail and the Federation become more Russian, maybe Chekov was the captain of the C.P.P Entreprise and so on

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Yet another mind-boggeling thought: Maybe, Apollo 11 indeed did fail in the Star Trek Timeline and the Romulans altered history in a way that it actually resembles our timeline. Without the Eugenic Wars and World War Three, Zephram Cochrane would not have the reason to build the Phoenix in 2063.

That way, Players would actually need to sabotage Apollo 11. :joy:

I love the thought of a prevailing USSR, though.

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It is awesome to read your thoughts on this story!

USSR is a very interesting plot point. The space history of the USSR is quite interesting in its own right and has some very impressive highlights.
In my first outline I considered having the Romulans assist the USSR in their space program - maybe by supplying computer technology to guide all those engines of the N1-Rocke and sabotaging Apollo 11. I even looked up Kosmonauts who could have been the first man on the moon. That story seamed very complex. And very serious.
I am aiming for something lighter. Some fun with 60s music and player characters in funny outfits. So I dropped that idea after @MisterX suggested having Archer being late. With that idea I trimmed my story to what I wanted. And “saving Apollo from evil aliens” seems to fit this aim.

In my outline, Cochrane is some 10 years late due to the Apollo 11 disaster and finds nobody out there. This slows down human space flight programs resulting in Archer being late.
In 2371 the Romulans rule the quadrant. My crew encounters the probe which they themselves built in the past as suggested, so they know the proper history. The find human refugees, a hint to the wrong history. Somewhere, somehow (my players are going to surprise me!) they will find records of the current wrong history. They slingshot back in time. And I am eager to know WHEN they will arrive.
Will they arrive a day before launch for some quick action? Will they arrive months ahead to embed themselves with NASA? (this I would hope) I really do like it a lot, when I have no clue what the players will do.
And I do hope to introduce them to people in the program. The Astronauts of course, but also (taking inspiration from “Hidden Figures” the women in the program. Women like Mary Jackson, JoAnn Morgan or Judy Sullivan. Maybe Deke Slayton or Gunther Wendt, too…

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If they miscalculate and arrive even earlier (sometime in 1968), they may encounter Captain Kirk and the Enterprise…

Edited to add: if you don’t want Kirk & company to steal your players’ thunder, you can have them start to fade out like Marty near the end of Back to the Future b/c unlike the players’ ship, the Enterprise isn’t protected from the changes in the timeline. So they can’t actually help your players but they can serve as a sort of doomsday clock - when The Enterprise crew fade to fully transparent, the new timeline will be set in stone and unfixable.

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I am not sure wether I want them to meet Kirk (your refer to Assignment: Earth?) but if the timing fits and I the mood seems fitting, it can happen.
The part about fading… that I will use so that the PCs do not forget to build the probe that put them on track. Thank you @starkllr!

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if Apollo 11 is sabotaged what can they do?

Turn the mockumentary into a scenario and now the conspirationists are right
Ask Stanley Kubrick to make a movie pretending they have done it. You are in a light mood there. At the end don’t forget to put a flag on the moon and some gear too

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The Vulcan isolationist movement sabotage the Apollo 11 mission knowing that Vulcan will be subsumed into the Federation. It they stop the mission then mankind won’t pursue space travel and Cochran won’t be inspired to develop warp drive and the Vulcans ignore Earth.
The Vulcan isolationist movement capture the apollo 11 crew and use Vulcan mind control techniques to have them subvert NASA from the inside. Your players have to travel back to 1969 and pose as NASA scientists to smoke out the Vulcans. They can’t risk exposing their vessel to the 20th humans. So they must hide it. This adventure takes placed primarily on Earth where the PCs experience 20th culture. They have the difficulty of capturing the Vulcans whilst stopping the plans of two national hero’s: Neil Armstrong Buzz Aldrin. They then need to somehow convince a skeptics NASA to continue the moon landing.

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Looks like a job for the Temporal Protection Commission

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So we run the mission yesterday. I enjoyed it a lot and I hope the same goes for my players.
My players chose a rather direct, fast approach so many of my planned encounters did nor occur. But there will be other possibilities to use them…
Here is a Deepl-Translation of our mission log. It was written in German, originally. I hope the translation is not too bad.

Stardate 46412.7
*Captain’s Log, USS Goodall. We have left the Orgrun system and are on our way back to Starbase 365. The Federation will send transport ships and house the Lormeans in unpopulated areas on Orgrun II until we can find a new home for them. With patience and a little luck, we will find a new planet for this young civilization in the vastness of the Shakelton Expanse. Who knows if we will ever learn who built the mighty world machine at the heart of Orgrun III and for what purpose. Or why the planet was brought to this system, and more importantly, how? I remain in the Orgrun system to coordinate the rescue missions. Commander Rong is refocusing the gravimetric filters and will be tied to Engineering for an extended period of time. *
I have also learned that the mother creature of the Neural Parasites has been relocated to Earth.
It seems to me that the loose threads of the last few missions have been taken out of our hands and the Goodall is ready for new adventures.

Lts. Pog and Stuck noticed a Class 8 probe on a rendezvous course with the Goodall. The probe came to a stop off the bow of the Starfleet vessel and projected an Anto chronotron field around the ship.
Scans of the probe led to the conclusion that the probe was from the Goodall’s inventory, but had been traveling from Earth to those coordinates for about 400 years. Further investigation led to some clues: “07/16/1969…”, “Rom…”, “Sabotage…”.

While the crew was still puzzling, the Goodall was confronted by a Romulan warbird. Commander Kurock demanded identification and justification for the intrusion into Galactic Romulan Empire space. Lt. Cmdr. Ral clarified that the Shackleton Expanse was not claimed by any known power.
Kurock then ordered fire to be opened. Under the onslaught of the first wave of disruptor fire, the shields collapsed. Lt. Pog, however, was able to prevent worse by skillful evasive maneuvers. Immediately before the threat of defeat by the much more powerful Warbird, 3 more ships dropped out of warp and engaged the Romulan battleship. One Captain Janeway transmitted coordinates and advised escape.
At the said coordinates, there was a reunion with Janeway and her fleet of resistance fighters. It turned out that the Romulans had completely subjugated the galaxy. Lt. Neriera found out that the launch of the Apollo 11 mission had taken place on July 16, 1969. A comparison of the historical data bases delivered the frightening realization: The Goodall was in a new time line. In this reality, the Saturn V had exploded at launch. This slowed the human departure to the stars, and Cochrane did not launch on his first flight until 2093. He found: Nothing. As things progressed, the NX01 was not built and Archer’s historic mission never took place. The Federation was not formed and so the Romulans were able to take over Vulcan, then Earth, Andoria and Tellar, and finally the entire galaxy. In contrast, in the timeline that the crew of the Goodall remembered, the Millitary Alliance, which would later become the Federation, was able to bring the Romulan War to a ceasefire.

The Goodall had to travel back in time to restore the timeline. In their databases, the officers found records of Admiral Kirk, who as captain of a Klingon Bird Of Prey was able to time jump back in time by means of a slingshot maneuver around the sun.
Scans of the immediate vicinity found a system with two red giants whose photospheres touched. It was found that the conditions in this region of space could also allow a time jump.
The command crew decided to travel so far into the past that they could swing into an Earth orbit to 07/09/1969. They wanted to try to prevent the sabotage.
Sutok adjusted the shields, Dr. O’Boyle developed an injection to protect the crew from enormous radiation. Pog planned and flew through an enormously risky course. the gravimetric, the shields collapsed, power couplings exploded…
… but the time jump succeeded.

The Goodall made its way to earth. One week before launch day - early in the morning , the Goodall swung into orbit around Earth. First scan of the EM emission of the planet and “Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley sounded from the audio systems. Further analysis showed two Romulans at Cape Canaveral and strange energy signatures at a house in Titusville, FL.
An away team beamed to the house. They found evidence that two Romulan temporal agents from the 28th century had been living in the house for many years and had infiltrated NASA.
Commander Lokoth, under the cover name John Logan, was employed as a booster engineer in the launch control room, Sub Commander Sommath, disguised as Bob Sonders, worked on the launchpad.
They planned to use a bomb beamed under the Saturn V during launch to explode the rocket. The away team also found pattern amplifiers. These were to be positioned by Somaath under the rocket as late as possible. Lokoth then planned to use a handheld transporter to beam a bomb under the Saturn V at launch and detonate it.

The away team lay in wait for the Romulan agents in the evening. When they returned from the cape, they were beamed into the Goodall’s holding cell in a surprise attack by Lt Cmdr Rong. The agents denied to the last their true origin. Lokoth committed suicide, Somaath finally confessed.

The rocket explosion was averted, an away team collected evidence of Romulan activity, and with a slingshot around the sun, the USS Goodall returned to its time and its timeline.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

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Only one question remains: Who sent the probe?

GREAT adventure hook for one of the next episodes. Maybe not everything in the time-line the characters travel back to is right, but it takes time to find out…? :slight_smile:

Great log, sounds like your group had a good time. Thanks for sharing!

I knew I was going to forget something. They sent the probe themselves.
“A big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff”. :wink:

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Great session (and good recap, better than mine & English is my native language :smiley: )

I always like seeing how people handle the odder scenarios.