What Lurks Down Below

jedion357's picture
February 7, 2012 - 11:22am
Going to try out something new taken from the AD book:

springboarding from the vimh discussion in the regular forums which has become quite a long thread to read by this point:

Adventure Writing Document wrote:

1. Choose a Theme or basic story and the goal for the adventure

-What has happened before that led to this adventure?
-What must the characters do to complete their job?
-What sorts of obstacles will the players face during the adventure?

Possible themes are exploring new worlds, obtaining information, retrieving a stolen item, catch criminals, rescue someone, mad scientist, and etc.

Theme is first contact with the vimh. There has been some discussion of them being an engineered species which I like so the two options are they are from outside the Frontier or the product of mega corp experiement gone wrong. Mega corps behaving badly is a cornerstone of the SF setting and provides a powerful adversary that wont want the truth to come out.

So the tack I'll be taking with this is engineered race that doesn't know its origin is turning up, The race is a mystery too the Frontier, its origin is a mystery to itself, and the mega corp has some secret too. So to quantify this theme its the discovery of hidden information the uncovering of mysteries.

-What has happened before that led to this adventure?
A Mega Corp (or not quite mega corp), called  GenKon has been experimenting with the creation of super soldiers. They've been very secretive and only filed a few patents in genetics but not enough to signal that they're actually working on super soldiers. The vimh were a failled experiement but the work progresses. The vimh genetic stock has been moved from facility to facility and was being shipped to a secret cryo-storage facility when the ship they were on suffered an engineering emergency. Some of the stock disappeared. GenKon is certain they did not perish in the accident but is uncertain as to whether the disappeared as the result of corporate espionage or if they simply escaped on their own. As a precaution they have dispatched bounty hunters throughout the Frontier.

Its been 3 years and the vimh that have escaped have begun to reproduce and established themselves secretly in the guts (the down below) of a few space stations. They are slowly learning about Frontier society but don't much trust the core four races of the Frontier since members of these races were the scientist & guards that experiemented on them and held them prisoners. They live by scavenging and theft and have no real concept of what a credit is.

-What must the characters do to complete their job?

I think the 3 mysteries listed above are too much to cover in one adventure so lets break it down into 3 separate adventures. one for each mystery.

The first adventure focuses on the vimh and bringing them to light in the frontier or at least that the PCs learn of them.

Angle for the PCs is that they are to investige the recent muggings and thefts on station ______?______
they are either to halt the mugging and theft or to recover a stolen item. Depends on who employs them; they are either corporate security or hired guns for a victim. It could be both; they are corporate security and the rich victim has offered a reward for the recovery of personal property. They must find the criminals in down below and halt the criminal activity. This could be done by imprisoning the vimh, beginning to intregrate them into Frontier society, killing them or some other way the players may come up with.

-What sorts of obstacles will the players face during the adventure?
1. The vimh are secretive and dont want to be found
2. the down below area of the station is dirty and dangerous
3. A bounty hunter (and his crew) is looking for the vimh
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
February 7, 2012 - 11:39am
Adventure Writing Worksheet wrote:

2. Settings. This includes not just places but animals, robots, guards in those places. What can be learned and or accomplished at each setting?

-What is the setting’s purpose? When during the adventure will the character’s arrive there? What information are the characters suppose to find there?
-What does the setting look like? What are the most important features: where are trees, streams, doors and furniture?
-What types of creatures, characters and events will the characters meet there? Are there any important plants or weather conditions, alarms or robots? These are not necessarily challenges to the players. They can be used to identify the area. Are there any important features about the setting? Does it limit movement in some way or hide things from sight? Does it have obstacles the characters must overcome?

Setting A: Passage way where the mugging occured
Place of initial investigation purpose is to lead to down below and set the stage for the encounter. Characters should discover that the mugger came from down below

Pcs respond and a mugging victim is face down, another NPC is bent over him checking him, female companion is leading the PCs to this. Victim is knocked out by a stun weapon his possessions are gone by not his credit vouchers. The NPC checking him has a GenKon corporate ID badge and weapons but claims to have just come upon the victim.

Location of the mugging, blind corridor without video cameras. Seemingly secure airduct covering nearby. Hyptnotism of victim could give a clue that he unconsciously heard a metalic sound that could have been the air duct openning. Air duct seems secure but if opened its obvious to a tech automatically or anyone else for a LOG check that its been tampered with to allow for easy openning from the inside as well as to be resecured.

Bruise on the back of the victim's neck is from a stun stick strike but was discounted during the initial medical exam but has since become more pronounce a medic can make a skill check or LOG check to reveal the truth about this clue.

Record's search would reveal a rise in muggings and thefts in blind corridors. If cross referenced against the location of air vents 89% of the muggings & thefts in blind corridors are very close to air vent covers and date back to three years ago. Another records search will show that a GenKon ship had an drastic engineering emergency at that time.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
February 8, 2012 - 7:06am
Setting B Is in Down Below, think steam tunnels under a university campus plus boiler room, plus elevator shafts, air vents, enviro plants, service passage ways, heat exchangers, thermal sumps, sewage reclamation reprocessing, Dim lighting, hot dusty, industrial like atmosphere etc.

This is the area where the vimh have been moving around and making their home. They know it well.

Purpose: This is the first reveal of the vimh, in dim lighting. (IR is no good due to the proximity of heat exchangers and a thermal sump- dont ask what those things are; they are techno babble for IR dont work here or works so bad that the Mark 1 eye ball is better than fussing with IR goggles). Players get a siloette of the and couple or rounds of combat before mister bounty hunter intervenes. Vimh will scatter when the "hunter" turns up. Bounty hunter will try to incapcitate PCs as he doesn't want them capturing the vimh.
What the Players Learn: Two separate agencies at work- shadowy creature skulking in the space station equiv. of the sewers of Paris and the well equipped hunter that wants it. Seems that a family group of vimh have been living in a cubicle near the heat sump (for warmth or because the know they're being hunted and figured out that they are harder to track in the areas of higher heat)
Challenges in this setting: machinery could be dangerous but its not personal- they may have to pass through an elevator shaft - elevator is a danger but not really out to get them. could accidently open a valve releasing raw sewage- need to rinse off thoroughly or risk an infection or illness- would require a technitian to figure out what pipe holds water and red neck engineer a valve or something to release water for washing off the sewage covered PC. This would be a Tech skill roll with pass fail results (fail mean he fails to find a water line re-check in an hour but PC in sewage  makes STA check to resist infection penalties apply if he's injured) similar machinery type dangers gun fire could release pressurized gas or steam with varying effects (ooops everyone should be packing "ship safe" weapons on the station but perhaps the bounty hunter is not or he is but he also has an auto pistol and shoots a gas canister that creates a seriously dangerous situation that covers his escape/retreat.

Bounty hunter will be packing sleep grenades and throw them liberally. If all the PCs succumb then they can awake tied up by the bounty hunter. a curious young vimh has come back (its now long after the fight) and is looking to loot/scavenge meaning looking to take things from the PCs but is curious because they fought the "hunter". Role play encounter and the PCs can make a friend of sorts. He can rob them blind if he wants or he may offer to free them if each gives him an item.

If they make a friend of the young vimh it could be possible to get him to bring them to the other vimh. That location would be at the next set of heat exchangers/ thermal sump ie Recycle this setting (this setting will need a nicely detailed combat map).  Though I'm now getting into events so back to setting.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
February 8, 2012 - 7:24am
Setting C: Security Office
Having convince the young vimh to come with and possibly trust them the PCs return to the security office and can try to generate clues on the bounty hunter via computer searches. The vimh is hungry and they can order food for him. A certain ammount of role play with the vimh and computer based investigation should go on but if it does not then the bounty hunter will have combat robots make a frontal assault on the security office while he's planting charges to blow a hole through a back wall. His mission is to grab the young vimh and retreat to his ship as he needs to recover all the vimh and bring them back to a secret research/holding facility. Bounty hunter can succeed or fail to obtain the young vimh but must get away to his ship.

Purpose: is to clue the PCs in that the bounty hunters are very aggressive and to actually piss the PCs and their employer off over a brazen attack being launched against security on their station. If the Players dont already want to get the bounty hunter then their employers will want this as they will want to hold someone accountable.
What does the setting look like: clean neat security office with holding cells and interview rooms, weapons locker, ward room and reception area. Appropriate furniture and desks (for cover) and the security office will actually be fairly defensible as the robots are not actually trying to gain entry but rather are a diversion and if they have radio detontating explosive charges to leave less evidence for investigation. (every laser hit that damages the robot has a % chance to explode the TD 19 charge- subtract the robot's current STA from 100 and that is the chance that the laser hit blew the TD 19 charge inside the robot).

Challenges: are Robots, and bounty hunter (s)
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
February 8, 2012 - 7:37am
Setting D: Bounty Hunter's ship "Slave Scout 1".
Clues from the attack on the security office have lead to the miss registered bounty hunter's ship. On board are a number of captured vimh and the bounty hunter(s). Ship is a boarding action by the PCs. The bounty hunters have already secretly emplaced explosive charges on the docking clamps so that their ship cannot be locked down.

Purpose: Boss encounter and climax for this leg of the adventure
Automated defenses, security devices (locks and such) and bounty hunters.

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
February 8, 2012 - 9:01am
Adventure Writing Worksheet wrote:

3. Events. Once you have the theme and the settings the adventure should be divided into several smaller challenges that the players must overcome. Each challenge must be placed in a specific setting. Each event should provide an obstacle to overcome, a lesson to be learned or an opportunity to gain something that will aid in reaching a goal. Events should be exciting and provide a puzzle to overcome with wits.

-Decide what purpose the event will fulfill. Is it an obstacle to fight or overcome? A puzzle to solve? A chance to gain something helpful? Or an event to add excitement?
-Determine all the elements needed in the event. Will the player characters encounter NPCs creatures, robots, foul weather, physical obstacles or security systems?
-Decide how NPCs, creatures or robots will react to the player characters, and actions they will take.

Random events should be written when the adventure is written.

Determine order of planned events though this order does not have to be strictly adhered to.

E 1. Spend a 20minutes of describing being hired for this job and describing the types of work they've done for a few months. Kick off event is while the PCs are giving directions to a tourist (who may also ask them about the rumors of creatures living in the air vents they will of course deny that as per company policy) on the station prominade a woman comes running and screaming for help. Her and her companion were attacked. The PCs respond and end up at setting A the blind corridor. they begin investigating the mugging and a tourist is found checking the knocked out and mugged victim. (its the bounty hunter but he claims to be a tourist himself that just happened upon the body) PCs can do a number of things here. Take the victim to the infirmary to be checked out, require the good samaritan tourist (bounty hunter) to come to the security office to be checked out. They could call for a medical team and decide to launch into the air vents immediately. A number of things could happen here. If the Players go off script then the victim can be used to get them back on script offering a reward for recovery of personal property and remembering that he thought he heard a metal hatch or cover of something moving right before he was attacked. That should lead to the air vents. PCs will not have an solid evidence on the bounty hunter other than he is who he says he is. Also if the players go off script their boss can ask for a report and ask what they plan to do to settle this situation even possibly making suggestions that lead to setting B.

NPCs: victim, companion and the innocent tourist persona of the main bounty hunter. If the bounty hunter is brought to the security office for a statement he will leave behind a listening bug 100% he succeeds at doing so. Later if the young vimh is brought to the security office have him hold up the bug and ask if he can have it right before the diversionary robotic attack.

E 2. The journey down below. The air vent near the mugging has disturbed dust but no real tracks as its so narrow it requires crawling. it will eventually lead to a larger vent shaft. the dust here is greatly disturbed from repeated use but with a INS check or tracking skill check a foot print imprint could be found showing the outline of the vimh foot and claw tips (revealing that they are tracking something with claw tips is only about setting atmosphere- omnious music begins to play) as they travel in either direction in the larger air shaft (allows for walking up right by dralasites or slightly stooped for the other races) they will see side shafts similar to the one they crawled through with disturbed dust and leading to some public area of the station. staying in the main shaft they will find begin to hear a repetative thump thump and reach a "rotary air impeller" [fan] the fan is rotating and fills the entire air vent and is covered with a grate. A 6 centimeters hole is cut in the grate near the motor and 1/4 of the grate has been cut away on the bottum right allowing for someone to crawl through if the fan was not moving. Where the 6 cm hole is the dust on the motor is well distrubed and there is a red button. The button is a reset button that stops the fan. the fan will continue to rotate by momentum but pushing the button give a character enough time to stop the fan with a hand or some impliment and crawl through the hole. However a RS check is required as the fan will start right back up and on a failled check the character crawling through will take 1d5 damage. A tech can short out the motor or shut it down but on a LOG check he will know that this will bring a repair bot that will repair both the motor and the grill blocking off their return journey by this path.

Once past the fan they reach the air recycling plant and would not be able to go further except there is a loose panel in the vent. They enter an area between inhabited areas where all the air ducts, water pipes, electicity lines etc are run to individual compartments.Structural braces criss cross between the back walls of stores or living quarters. the players can climb down on the braces (DEX check or fall a few meters and be banged up for 1d5 STA) to a catwalk and move along that before finding a ladder down. at the bottom of the ladder they are not below the deck and in a more open area dedicated to machinery, heat exchangers, enviromental plants, sewage reclaimation etc. This is setting B.

Event E 2a is the first reveal on the vimh with an adult male engaging or trying to frighten the PCs away while his family unit makes good their escape. This could go brief combat or role play encounter. Bounty hunter intervenes. seeking to knock the PCs out with sleep grenades, needler rifle or similar. If he succeeds he will secure their hands and feet with zip tie like cuffs or if he doesn't succeed then he will treat into a passage and block it with a taqngler grenade.

If the PCs were knocked out they will meet the young curious vimh but if not they will discover where the vimh were living in an area masked and hidden by the heat exchangers. since there are more heat exchangers spaced out evenly around the station they may try to investigate those and will find this same setting at those locations. Except on the second try they will find blood and sign of a struggle, expended sleep grenades and such. This is where they will meet the young vimh if they have not already (presumably they talked him into bringing them to meet his family) The young vimh is all alone now has his parents have been captured and he knows that the other vimh have disappeared and are believe to have been caught by the "hunter". nothing more to see here and eventually they will need to return to the security office.

Random event: once they have the young vimh with them there could be a percentage chance of encountering combat robots (from the bounty hunter). could be that the bounty hunters have seeded areas between the walls with lurking robots that will radio for the bounty hunters and attack if neccessary with the thinking being that anything moving between the walls must be the vimh.

E 3. at setting C security office or even the medical infirmary if the PCs decide to have the young vimh examined. give the PCs time to do some computer querys and talk to the vimh, as well as order food for him. Diversionary attack. In the attack the robots may blow up of their own accord due to the TD19 and the bounty hunters may or may not succeed with capturing the young vimh. but clues should lead to the bounty hunters. If one is shot down make it the astrogator preventing them from just blasting off. Telol will certainly lead them to the next setting and the boarding action.

Challenges: exploding robots, bounty hunters

E4. Storming Slave Scout 1.

boarding action, if the players look for a deck plan of the ship in the data base they will find the players map of the ship- its a basic schematic but lacks details as its from the manufacturer and certain areas of this privateer were intended to be customizable and so the player map only provides the basic layout of the ship.  only after the PCs have boarded will the main bounty hunter decide to go ahead and blow the docking clamps (its assumed the PCs arranged for them to be locked) and blast out of the station. Slave Scout 1 cant leave the system without an astrogator and so the captian is just looking to hide his ship till he can radio for some covert help. PCs must fight their way through crew and automated defenses. vimh can be released and enlisted to help in the fight. if the fight is going against the PCs they can either be captured and brought as prisoners to the secret lab/holding facility (this is off script) or a space fleet patrol can finally show up and play cavalry forcing the bounty hunters to heave to and be boarded.

Epilogue: The Space Fleet commander will not take the vimh aboard his ship but send them back to the station but will certainly fire off a report to Prengular system. He will cooperate with the station's commander/governor about investigating this incident. The bounty hunters will be remanded for legal proceedings for a whole plethora of charges (but they will get away as the prisoner transport shuttle that shows up is not the real one even though it has all the proper recognition codes). The PCs will have to compile a report- rather then make the players actually write a report and be graded on it they can make one each of the following ability checks to see how what the effects of their report is: LOG, INS, and PER. This will determine to a certain extent the reaction of their employer.

Mugging victim- will reward the PCs for recovering his possession with its hidden data crystal and perhaps it turns out that he's an exec from a corporation that is involved in genetics and since the PCs are pretty much the only experts on vimh in the Frontier that might be available for hire he's got a job offer (which leads to adventure #2).

Star Law shows up and questions everyone but the show is over so they just file reports.

experts from the various universities show up excited about the discovery of the vimh.
Some of the vimh recieve ID cards and are accorded citizenship in the UPF but some are very nervous over the humpla and disappear.

The young curious vimh can possibly become a companion for the PCs.

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
February 19, 2012 - 1:48am
I have not read everything, here's some initial thoughts.

Secret Society: VFF Vimh Freedom Force
One or more NPC's know the existance of the vimh and are compassionate. As long as the vimh do not harm station-workers they look the other way. Something happens that causes them to hire the PC's to help the vimh. Perhaps a vimh took a life or the PC's are in the right place and have access to resources/ships that can transport the vimh to a safe haven.

jedion357's picture
February 19, 2012 - 8:12am
NPC scientist that use to work for the corporation the created the vimh and left objecting to the methods and such of that corporation. He is essentially in hiding, fearing the corporation may decide to tie up the loose end that he represents just in case he "knows too much" and he does know too much.

He has some compassion for the vimh but is by no means an activist for vimh rights, fearing for his own life and well being.

He represents a source of information. a clue trail that leads to him and role play encounter where he gives up the goods to the PCs. Encounter is puncuated very nicely by a corporate assassin that used the PCs to locate this scientist. Whether the scientist lives or dies is purely the result of the PC's actions. First shot should be near lethal or pretty much lethal without quick action on the part of the PCs. If the PCs preserve his life he can become an adventure companion for the remainder of the adventure.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!