Introductory Adventure..

mentolio's picture
April 22, 2010 - 5:09pm
   I recently talked my players into trying this game, and we played in the form of a simple intro. For my part, I like to run Military scenarios as intro's because it's easier to keep the players moving in the right direction (in the form of orders to be followed and objectives to achieve), at least until they learn the rules.
In this case, they are all new Marine recruits assigned to a UPF ship which has been redirected by UPF Fleet Command to respond, and check on the well-being of a "colony" which has been out of touch for several weeks (or days, months, whatever fits the bill). The adventure begins on the drop-ship, which suddenly finds itself under attack from the surface, while the frigate that carried them here is destroyed from space. To keep the game faster paced the only survivors are the players (in this case four Marines who are pre-generated), a Corpsman (Medic, NPC), and a pilot (who is injured, unresponsive, and basically dead-weight that adds a bit of stress to the adventure). They are also much farther away from the colony than they were supposed to be.

   I designed a series of simple encounters to introduce the rules. The first encounter takes place as the Marines escape the area of the drop-ship with anything they could salvage (in this case, 5 days of rations, extra ammo, and not much else). As they come to a clearing in a small jungle/forest, they are attacked by 5 baboon-like creatures (I used Volturnian Baboons). The fight went down with the most basic of rules. Few to no modifiers, just straight-up action to intro the basic mechanics behind the combat system and to let the players experiment with both melee and ranged combat. Tho the players took a beating, they ended up winning the fight. I try to give xp at the end of each encounter, and try not to be stingy (I think I awarded 4 xp: 1 for being smart enough to abandon the drop-ship when they did, 2 for beating the baboons , and 1 for going out of their way to keep the injured pilot and Corpsman from ending-up baboon food).

   The second encouter occurs in a near desert-like area after several hours of marching. In this encounter, I used a Sand shark to attack the party from behind. We started to introduce modifiers liked bonuses for burst fire, and movement thru difficult terrain. More or less all the important ones, while keeping attacks to one per action. I'm sure some question the whole "baby-steps" approach. I just thought it would make more sense to take it slow, instead of bogging-down the action while they (and frankly, me too) learned the rules. Anyway, the group actually made quick work of the Sand shark (I probably should have attacked them with two!) After licking their wounds a bit, they decided to make camp. The whole time they made it a point to head towards the colony-proper, and were successful in divining the right direction. That night, two of the players think the hear screams in the distance, and one (the Yazirian) even sees a dim light in the distance. The players wisely decide to wait until morning to continue moving, and investigate the distant activity. I believe I awarded 1 xp for defeating the Sand shark, and two more for playing smart, and knowing their limits (I had another encounter lined-up with the antagonists of the adventure, who function far better in the dark than most of the party!)

   Morning finds our heroes on the move. They spot what looks like some kind of small settlement in the distance. The four Marines decide to leave the Corpsman and the the injured pilot behind in the dunes until they can make contact with the settlement and secure some help (sadly, no one thought to try to contact the settlement by chronocom...there would have been no answer, which they might have inferred something from, and they would have gotten 1 extra xp!) They moved on to the settlement cautiously, and found the energized security fence (which they disabled), several bodies that were burnt (they didn't examine them closely, otherwise they'd have had a better idea of what to expect), and a main gate that appeared locked and welded from the inside. They also missed the steam coming from the strange assault scout parked on top of one of the large buildings...bummer. They beat the fence, one of the players thought to check his Toxi-rad gauge ( problems...yet), and another player (with Demolitions) expertly blew the welded gate open. They entered the compound, and immediately found the communications shack. Inside are two badly abused corpses, tools and equipment strewn about carelessly, and a sub space radio that has been damaged. The Tech of the group examines the radio and discovers it needs: power coils (big ones), an inverter, and a keyboard (all items easily found in a settlement like this...usually). The guys get xp now because they have played smartly (tho occasionally rolled poorly) and discovered a new objective: fix the SSR to call in a report, and hopefully get orders and/or a ride off-this rock. I think it was one or two xp each.
   The guys move on to the next building, where they find a booby-trapped door and avoid it. They take alternate route into the place, but fail to notice that the door was fortified, yet forced open from the outside. Further investigation leads them to a large earthmoving robot (that is booby-trapped to attack anything that gets within two meters, and not stop until either all targets are incapacitated, or the robot runs out of power due to damaged power coils). The Tech notices something fishy, and deactivates the robot before it can do any real damage. As the Tech tries to pry the power coils from the robot, not knowing they're damaged, two of the other Marines clear the other side of the building. They find bodies that appear to have been eaten, beaten, butchered, killed, and eaten some more. They also find a bunch of mining and processing equipment, that cannot be tied to any corporation. Lastly, they find an office with a computer (and needed keyboard) with some encrypted files. No one is actually a computer-trained expert, but they muddle thru and unlock the personal logs. In the logs, they find info leading them to believe that the "colony" started experiencing strange happenings and unexplainable equipment malfunctions. The last of the logs are barely coherent pleas for help and blurry video, rienforcing the players belief that the colony was attacked by some kind of humanoids. The players move on to the next building (after taking the keyboard) after one of the players, acting as a rear guard, notices the sounds of movement. They quickly enter by climbing a ladder to a second story catwalk (on the outside of the building) where they notice an open door. The lead marine slips and falls on something slippery (later discovered to be blood/gore). Before he can get up, he is snatched and drug into the darkness of the building, where he is attacked by what appears to be two crazed colonists (actually the antagonists who have donned colonist clothing over their own). Unfortunately, this is the point where I got called into work, and that's where we left it. 

   The antagonists are actually humans who have been "augmented" by an alien symbiote. Their inspiration was the "Reavers" from the Scifi show, Firefly. My Reavers are human drifters (from "Drifter Colonies," kinda like space gypsies) who found an alien spacecraft deep in "The Black," which is space beyond the fringe. They were beset upon by the symbiotes and changed into hyper aggressive, hyper violent, canabalistic maniacs. They get stat bonuses and minuses to reflect their savage nature, as well as a limited "Battle rage." They have a (much) better chance of success than a first level Yazirian, but the benefit is only +10% to hit. When I have time, I'll include real stats for anyone who's interested, and I'll finish the adventure in another post, hopefully after we finish playing it.         
"...glad I keep this around for close encounters..."

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
April 22, 2010 - 7:12pm
Good writeup and I love the symbiote idea.

Please consider writing this as an adventure following an Alpha, Beta format or use the Adventure Layouts article from #14.

It just dawned on me... the guy from A Team who starred in a few STNG was embed with super mind powers and used the holodeck to for a link between his brain and the computer. You could have a symbiote that;
  • Gave limited mental powers
  • Boosted LOG type skill checks
  • Cured a disease for a PC

jedion357's picture
April 22, 2010 - 9:31pm
1. If you have all new players then there is nothing wrong with the baby steps method- I wrote prequel adventures to volturnus where the first one involved mostly skill checks and limited combat with a hull raker.

then did a bar brawl and vehicle chase/combat.

2. This is great material-

What you described is a whole adventure
 but you could re-focus on an encounter and enter it in the writing competition- do the whole subspace radio issue with the 3 components that are needed to be replaced for the unit to be used. If you wrote an encounter with some challenges to finding those parts and a possible combat that would work well for the competition criteria.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
April 23, 2010 - 10:46am

mentolio's picture
June 14, 2010 - 3:55pm



The Tah-Sarraque, “Junkers,” or “Reavers” as they are more commonly known, are the scourge of the space lanes and colonies alike! Hyper aggressive humanoid mutants who feel no pity, pain, or remorse. They have an insatiable appetite for destruction, and seem to like nothing more than inflicting pain and misery on others. Yet, as savage as they are, they seem to have an uncanny ability to intuitively create their machines of war from items that would be discarded as junk by the other races. This is their story…

These “Junkers,” or “Reavers,” as they are often referred to by the members of the other races on the Frontier, are originally of Human stock. The original Reavers were the remnants of a larger than normal Drifter Colony that set-out for the great unknown, and sailed deep into “the black.” They were desperate to get away from the other “New” races that Humanity had met on the Frontier, after fleeing their home system. They just wanted a place to call their own. After 2 years of drifting in “the black,” they started to run out of food and water. Not having other worlds to re-supply them was taking its toll. Just when these ”Drifters” were about to give up hope, they came upon what looked like a star system (later to be named “Rakus”) waiting for them on the other side of a massive asteroid belt. It was decided to press-on thru the asteroids, at great risk, as it would take too long to go around (they were quickly running out of fuel, too!) which was considered safer. The Drifters were fine pilots indeed, but eventually their luck ran out. The Drifter Colony “ship” collided with a massive asteroid, and found itself moored there, in the middle of the asteroid belt.

Many lives were lost, but the situation was quickly brought under control by the brave efforts and ability of the Drifters. Once under control, it had to be decided what course of action to take next, which is when they discovered that there were traces of energy radiating from within the asteroid. A search party of the best salvage experts they had was hastily put together and sent deep into the heart of the asteroid. What they found there was the remains of an ancient spacecraft of alien design. They found the bodies of what appeared to be long-dead humanoid aliens, who once stood over 8 feet tall, but appeared to weigh only 170 pounds or less. The strangest feature of these aliens is that there is a large cavity between their shoulders that extended a short distance down their backs, and up their necks. The energy was found to be a soon to fail stasis chamber. While Drifters are xenophobic, they couldn’t dismiss the potential help they might receive from an advanced life form that owes them. When the team opened the stasis chamber is when the Colony lost communications with them…

This where we get to the goods: Reavers are Humans who have been implanted with an intelligent, alien symbiote/parasite. HUMANS…all other races are incompatible, and are viewed as food and sport (GM's discression. I limit their "infection" to Humans because it suits my campaign). The symbiotes were a very dominating race. They enslaved many races they considered “lesser.” The Sleerin (the name of this symbiotic race) saw themselves as the Romans did. Bringing a better quality of life to the conquered, whether they wanted it or not. At any rate, it could have been a combination of too much time in stasis added to a malfunctioning stasis control system that has resulted in their mental degredation/regression. The Sleerin immediately took their new hosts over completely, made them stronger, faster, tougher, and completely predetorial/homicidal. Stats are rolled up as usual, with the following changes:

Reaver statistic adjustments:         Reaver skill sets:

STR: +10 / STA: +10                  All Reavers, regardless of what skills they

DEX: -10 / RS: +10                    had before, become Military PSA’s. Typical

INT: +15 / LOG: -15                  skills are Martial arts, Melee weapons, and

PER: -10 / LDR: -10               Projectile/Energy weapons. Any other skills are by ½ INT.

Reaver special abilities:

Battle Rage: Roll under current STA score to fly into a rage yielding +10% to strike (melee only).

Intuitive ability: Reavers roll under ½ their INT score (never LOG) to perform most skills not possessed by them. Using this ability they are able to jury rig most anything.

Amazing stamina: Reavers enjoy a superhuman stamina that translates into immunity to radiation and most other pathogens (+20 to STA score vs. doze weapons etc). They also continue to function below zero STA. Reavers can function at ½ speed and actions until -10, when they drop dead.

Healing: the Symbiote can heal 10 STA points instantly, twice per day, but requires rest for 2d10 rounds immediately after the second healing, or treat as 0 STA.

What’s with the INT thing? Well, I have decided that the Reavers are highly intuitive beings. They are hard to surprise and sneak up on. They don’t learn new skills, per-se, but instead figure-out how to do new things. While they may have a bit of an advantage compared to lower level creatures, the Reavers never improve their Intuitive ability (unless they actually get experience points, and increase their INT score!). Reavers use INT to navigate, to overcome security, and to do anything they don’t have a skill for. One could argue that their INT ability is the remnant of the skills they had in their past lives.

A note about combat: While Reavers are certainly capable of using missile weapons, they prefer up close melee combat (allowing them to use their STR ability instead of DEX to strike) and even thrown weapons. While they are hyper-aggressive, they are not stupid. Reavers can use complex tactics, and can learn from their experiences. In melee (only), Reavers enjoy a +10% bonus to strike from a somewhat watered-down version of the Yazirian Battle Rage. While not quite as effective, a Reaver has only to roll under his (current) STA score to fly into a battle rage. This chance can never be improved upon, and as stated, the Reaver must roll under his current STA score. An injured Reaver has a harder time raging the more injured he becomes. There is no chance of rage after reducing STA to 0, or if the symbiote has healed the Reaver for the second time that day.

Reavers do not employ defensive screens, but they do wear armor. Their armor is typically cobbled together from the remnants of the armor of their victims, and is usually good for 50 points of protection from inertia (GM's discression if you want to offer additional protective properties).  

"...glad I keep this around for close encounters..."