Raid on Tantalus IV
You have to infiltrate a warzone, get engineering data, and get out. Simple. The twist: The data is on the large moon tantalus IV. Better known as "Hell" by its inhabitants. Good luck…
Raid On The Testing Ground
Notes: This post was mainly inspired by Richard K. Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs series of novel, with the mimints and sleeving technology being ideas found in them. The idea that a small state such as that of Liberty could have such a large sphere of influence is from Asimov’s foundation series, where the first foundation, being one of the sole retainers of human knowledge, is protected with very little military might of its own simply due to geopolitical forces. In my interpretation, the state of Liberty keeps a small contingent of elite soldiers, called Guardians, to protect the sanctity of the system itself, and they rarely venture beyond the solar system of Liberty’s capital world unless to defend Liberty’s technology.
The mission with which you have been tasked is to infiltrate Tantalus IV (which is a training world for the liberty military) and recover blueprints and sample of sleeving technology from an abandoned facility. You will be dropped from orbit on Tantalus IV several hundred miles away from your target, avoiding the planetary defense grid active in the sector. From your LZ you will have to make your way to the facility and gather the required data and specimens. Once this is done, you will have to deactivate the local planetary defense grid around the facility for your pickup to arrive. The deactivation console should be in the same building as the data you require. Your employee does not wish to reveal his identity, but should you succeed, you will be very well remunerated. Your employer predicts a 15% probability of survival. Good luck.
As everybody in the human sectors know, the solar system-state of Liberty, with a ridiculously small population on the galactic scale, exerts a huge influence on other governments. This is mainly due to their technological advancement, and in one in particular: resleeving technology and human digital freight. This allows them to fully digitise human consciousness (human digital freight, or HDF), and download it into either a virtual reality, or transmit it using quantum entanglement relays to far flung corners of the galaxy, where it can be downloaded into a new body (a so called sleeve). They keep a stranglehold on this technology, and will defend it ruthlessly, although they are happy to let people use the relays in a controlled environment, and for a fee. Sleeving, however, they keep for themselves. It effectively allows immortality as the mind is uploaded and re-inserted into a younger body, either cloned, or engineered.
The consciousness is constantly recorded in a small device implanted at the base of the neck, behind the spinal cord. If the person is killed, it is simply a matter of plugging this ‘cortical stack’ into a computer and download the DHF.
This effectively allows for disposable soldiers if used in conjunction with a large army, but because of the small size of the Liberty forces, they prefer to use this technology during training rather than in combat, leading to more-than lethal training.
The repercussion of this technology is exponential population growth, so the government has created a tax on civilian resleeving which grows exponentially with the number of sleevings, and after a few new sleeves (excluding accidents, in which case the body is recreated at the same age as before the accident), the tax reaches unaffordable amounts, forcing the people to either go into virtual reality, or into voluntary storage. (a side business in staging accidents is a constant thorn in a Liberty insurer’s side)
The Liberty Testing Grounds
The Government of liberty controls only one system in the local sector, and is known throughout the galaxy for a string of technological innovations, often decades ahead of their rivals. This reputation often overshadows that of their military. In term of men power, they number little more than a local planetary militia. In term of effectiveness, every Liberty Guardian fielded is the effective equivalent of half a dozen battalions of elite special operators.
Living in a strict martial society, citizens are engineered from biological conceptions to be the pinnacle of human evolution. Strong, smart, tough, even the artists and philosophers of this system can kill you effortlessly with their bare hands. The Guardians are hand picked amongst the very elite. These are men who could jump into a never-before-piloted starfighter, attack a capitol ship by crashing head on into it, Survive, breach the hull from the outside without a vacc-suite, and take control of the enemy ship. On their own. A hand tied behind their back.
After their seven years of training, they are dropped into the smallest habitable world in the liberty system, where they spend one year in constant planetary war. This is not an exercise. Real ammunitions are used, and they aim to kill. Survivors who let themselves be killed less than twelve times during the year are accepted into the service.
As an aside, the Temporary-Death rate for Guardians is 98% in the first week. Although out of all intakes, only 2.9% suffer from Permanent-Death from a destroyed cortical stack, and are returned to their family from the pre-enlistment DHF backup, while approximately 29% suffer from permanent psychological damage and must be erased. It must be noted, however, that the average stack recovery time is two month, which can sometimes really throw the patient off. The record for the longest period to recover a cortical stack is 342 years. The Guardian in question is now the head of the Tantalus IV facility. His stack was recovered inside the guts of a swamp panther, doubtlessly having gone through a long chain of carnivorous hosts before being found.
The Guardian high command refer to Tantalus IV simply as ‘The Testing Grounds’. Guardians more accurately call it Hell.
Having never been there, I wouldn’t know. But from what we do know, they seem pretty close to the mark.
The Testing Grounds is an entire world dedicated to every mode of personal warfare imaginable. Form the orbiting space station, where space fighting in cramped stations is tested in live scenarios, right through to the mud-soaked trenches, where guardians have to fight meter by bloody meter, war is everywhere.
If the bullets and bombs don’t kill you here, there are many other surprises in store.
The Mimints are self-constructing mechanical lifeform, created as a weapon system and deemed too dangerous due to their extremely quick evolution, they were instead released on Tantalus IV to test the mettle of would-be Guardians. They have since invaded the entire planet, although their presence is stronger in some sectors than in others. There is no such thing as a typical mimint, but all have some characteristics in common.
- They are always found in packs. This means that if you ever see a lone mimint, you are inevitably walking into a trap. The smallest group observed contained no less than five member. Usually, packs are a diverse affair, with a command hierarchy and many different classes and size of mimints.
- Most packs are controlled by a very smart AI which resides in one of the unit, allowing very complex, intricate tactics, such as counter ambush and diversions, flanking and trapping. Usually, the unit is medium sized, well armoured, lightly armed and rarely engages, preferring to direct other, lesser units. Beware. This commander unit, once disabled does not stop the rest of the group. Mimints are perfectly capable of acting on their own, and some groups use a redundantly distributed AI inside each of the units.
- They are made up of scavenged vehicle and equipment parts, although some mimints have recently started to use naturally occurring resources such as ore. This means that any piece of equipment humans carry into tantalus IV eventually ends up as part of a mimint. They are especially fond of processor components and microelectronics, which they can use to increase their cognitive function, multiplying their efficiency. A group of a dozen mid-size mimint will take apart the equivalent of a challenger/Abrams tank in under 15 minutes. then again, some devices are left to rust in the harsh Tantalian weather.
- They are completely unpredictable. Faced with a vastly superior group of mimints, many soldiers have been completely surprised when they cowered away. Packs of mimints have been know to engage in fierce fighting only to stop for no reason, and simply move off to somewhere else.
- Their physical appearance and characteristics are as unpredictable as their behavior. Mimints have been known to build themselves into machines as small as a scarab and as large as a fishing trawler. With weapons ranging from thrown rocks to particle beams. Their methods of propulsion ranges from threads to spider-like legs, and includes such outlandish design as long range artillery which moves by frog leaping the length of a football field.
- All, without exception, will learn during combat, and will be able to resist a particular type of weapon better when they have already been attacked with it. their learning also includes active modifications to their design during the heat of combat. A very unsettling experience when the spider-like, biting mimints that you where fighting suddenly turn into crab-like opponents using ranged weaponry.
Flora & Fauna
From a GM’s perspective, mimints allow careful balancing of the opponents to make interesting encounters.
Sector 043-Falling sky
The Ecosystem on Tantalus IV is a combination of the most dangerous and vile lifeforms encountered by the widespread Liberty exploration effort. Alien plants and creatures better at home in nightmares are brought together and dispersed over the surface of the planet, resulting in a horrible, man consuming combination which forces the Guardians to fight as much against themselves as against nature. Some interesting specimens have been recorded on the surface are: The devouring Ahoi Worms which is joined by a long list of similarly antagonistic creatures: Urghuls, Black Leaf Bugs, Blood Spiders, Trapper Ants, Giant Ticks, as well as Giant Solitaire Spiders and more. The Plants of the planets are no better, and most are either poisonous or adorned with a plethora of spikes, needles and thorns. Some, however, are even worse: Chokesprout, or perhaps Corpse Flowers and their cousins, Dire Vines. Very little can prepare the soldiers for such things as Devil’s Thorns or the revolting Necrosia Animensis, and even less can be done for them if they fall in the frequent grasp of an Ocadian pit Fiend who will consume unlucky soldiers, leaving only their cortical stack.
The different Sectors of the world are separated by deep, ocean filled valleys, etched on the planet’s surface by the blinding lights of countless nuclear blasts. Each section hold a particular challenge for prospective defenders of Liberty. Linked by large viaducts, they form little pockets of fighting. Each section has several bases, and all are linked to an extremely fast underground maglev network, to allow for great flexibility of scenarios by moving troops and equipment. Some notable Sectors are:
Sector 877-Clockwork beasts
This Sector is under constant, unending orbital bombardment. Life expectancy here is brutally short, and the sounds of the dropped shells echo for hundreds of miles. Smaller ordinance is also fired, originating from the many gatling cannons geosynchronously orbiting this forsaken piece of land. Nuclear weapons are sometimes thrown in for good measure, although the coordinators never actually attack the troops directly, preferring to steel their souls through the long and drawn out death from radiation poisoning or burns.
Sector 097-Return to the stone
This Sector (except for the maglev stations) is completely controlled by a single AI, which resides in the centrally located "temple", which it guards ferociously. The ‘Temple’ is actually amongst the remnant of the very first city on the planet, which was abandoned when the planet was given over to its current use. In this sector, hundreds of thousands of mimints are coordinated into one of the deadliest force on the planet, and few squads remain for very long. Bringing the attention of the AI on yourself is possibly on of the most assured way to die on Tantalus IV.
Sector 666-Little Long Sleep, The Devil’s own
In this sector, Guardians are separated from their high tech weapons, and have to survive, thrive and fight without any modern technology. Needless to say that otherwise annoying, yet harmless beasts return to their rightful place at the top of the foodchain when this happens. A particular dread of the Guardians is the swamp panther, as large as a rhinoceros, and as muscular as a gorilla, this engineered predator is the undisputed king of the local foodchain, and will snap a human in half with a single bite.
This ironically numbered section is one of only a handful which is free from war. Here, we can find the largest hospital and re-sleeving facility of the planet, where soldiers rest and recover from the intense fighting elsewhere, as well as the coordinating center, which organises the chaos and destruction of this world on a day to day measure. It is also the location of the only spaceport of the planet, and where every successful trainee receives the small medallion which defines them as fully fledge Guardians before boarding a shuttle to their first true tour of duty.
Act 1: Entrance, Maestro
As the definitive "thuck thuck thuck thuck thuck" of bullet ripping at the hull echos in the cramped confines of the drop-pod, the retroburners fire on, wrenching your guts and entrails to a place you never expected they could go. Slowly blacking out, pain spreading along your spine, harness digging into your shoulders and chest, you land. The great Crashing noise of the crumpling drop-pod awakens your senses and sends adrenalin surging through you body, ready for the fight of your life. As the pod opening sequence begins, you hear the ominous sound of screeching steel on steel as the mimints begin their unstoppable deconstruction of the pod, before the doors have even unlocked. You knew this was going to be a hot LZ. You knew the risks. You’re being payed for this, aren’t you? Lucky you…
As the players crash land in their orbital drop-pod, they arrive smack bang in the middle of a swarm of mimints. Incredibly lucky, the swarm had been engaged against some Guardians prior to the PC’s planetfall, and the main AI had just been knocked out by the last standing Guardian. Out of the original swarm, two dozen medium sized (around the size of a very big dog.) biting mimint remain, who will attack with their claws and mouth appendages. They look vaguely insectoid, resembling a very large ant/spider cross. Further off, three medium sized ranged mimints stand back, afraid of injuring the spider mimints. they resemble large crabs, with twin autocannon of a strange design on their back, which was probably the source of the "Thuck thuck thuck" on the drop-pod hull. A large mimint stands a little way off too. about the size of a car with thick, plodding legs, it sports no weapons. Indeed, it is a gathering and transport mimint, and all others would cling onto its back. Littered around are the remains of a well equipped patrol, as well as at least as many mimints, including some very exotically designed ones. From first impressions, it seems that the majority of the mimints were waiting for the patrol buried in the soft earth, and took them totally by surprise.
The tone and mood here should be absolutely frantic, with checks to see if they can get out of the pod by literally shooting the biting mimints point-blank as they open the door: "As the door opens you are faced with an angry array of gleaming metallic pincers, inches from your face" Once outside, the swarm will redirect its attention to them, and the PCs should have to make checks to avoid shooting each other in the crossfire. With enemies coming from all direction, the best tactics is to throw a EMP grenade in the middle, and clean up the ones outside the blast radius afterwards. Good inspiration are swarm scenes from the starship trooper movies or a pack of rabid wolves. This is survivable, just. If a mimint actually manages to bite, the wounds are shredding wounds and will be very painful, and very bloody, but not quite life-threatening, although they will require access to good medical facility soon. Make this a tough surprise fight, and don’t slow down the action until the last crab mimint is dead. The locale is a clearing inside a temperate forest.
Act 2: The Guardians are coming-(Puzzle Or Roleplaying Challenge)
Holy Jesus, Mary, and motherf***ing Joseph! That was close. What the Hell were those things? Patrick, the Techie, is still trying to crack them. Managed to salvage a couple of chips, could turn up trumps if we get some wireless access code. Sure as hell haven’t seen them before, anyway. Luc, the Demo guy, has half of his arm hanging in bloody rags from one that got too close. Now those pincers were unforgiving. He’ll need microsurgery in the next few days, before the nerves heal, or he’ll have to go cybernetic. Good thing Doc Johnson managed to patch him up. Luc’ll hold till we get to the target. Supposedly, It’s a medical facility, so they should at least have an autosurgeon lying around. Thank the gods for Doc Johnson, he’ll be able to jack in and use it. Without him, Luc would have had to leave this hellhole minus an arm.
Beep beeep beeep beeeeeeep
"Crap, natives…Doc, get Luc under cover…Logan…Logan…LOGAN. Fire up the frigging Plasrail…Everybody…Suresight pattern. Hold…Now…Let’s see who’s crashing the party."
After having had a little time to recover from their ordeal, the player character’s location will be approached by a sixteen man squad of Liberty Guardian Keepers. These men will approach the PCs with no outwards hostile intentions. Should the PCs fire on the new arrival, the shimmering shapes will raise their weapons and fire non-lethal projectiles. These projectiles feel like "An explosion of ice spreading beneath your skin from the point of impact" and are energy-based, so they leave no marks and will pass through ballistic armour. Should the PCs be protected from this, the Keepers will do their utmost not to harm the party, but one way or another, the entire party will be disabled. Should the PCs choose not to attack the Keepers, or after they have all been disabled, then the Keepers will simply approach, and look intently at the apparent leader.
The Guardian Keepers
The Guardian Keepers are a special battalion of guardians, with a very specific role on Tantalus IV. Their mission is to contain and control the warfare on the planet. They also act as the cortical stack recovery unit, and guard the planet’s infrastructure (especially its underground maglev network) from the ravages of war. Not taking part in the Warfare themselves, they set up perimeters and hold the mimints at bay. Each carries Radio IDs, which makes them immune to attack from most of the automated systems and warns the smart shrapnel and ammunition to deviate course if headed in their direction. They will avoid interference with what happens on the planet, and are a very stoic lot, in both the modern and ancient sense, even amongst the Guardians. Their exoskeleton allows them to simply shrug off most attacks, while their advanced and extremely versatile XKH-71 infantry rifle system allows them to neutralize most threats effortlessly.
As the Keeper squadron approaches, the only things you see are large shapeless forms. Easily eight feet tall, the adaptive camouflage of the exoskeletons shimmer like heat rising off a desert floor. As they approach, their outline become more distinct, until, about five meters in front of you, the point man disengages the adaptive system, and you are stood facing a humanoid behemoth of camouflaged steel. lacking shoulders and instead having a rounded dome where the head should be, you can see that the range of movement of these Keeper still remains completely unaltered. There are no slot for vision, and, as the point man lifts the head cover like a hatch, you can see that it is fully transparent from the inside. Glowing display dance on its inner surface, providing highly complex and integrated tactical information to the man inside. The very man, who with blond hair and piercing, ethereal turquoise eyes, looks at you intently. His perfectly symmetrical lips tightly pressed; alabaster face revealing nothing of his thoughts or intentions. Only now your brain begins to register the tactical information in this scene. Each of the Keepers would at least be seven an a half feet tall underneath the exosuite. Their weapons, unnoticed until now, radiate the clean lines of ruthlessly efficient killing tools. Everything screams total and complete cool, calm and collected control. Be it the way the point man casually holds his rifle, the familiarity betraying countless years of daily usage. Or the way the other Keepers slowly, one by one, disengage the camouflage system, and, one by one, look at you with the same intent turquoise eyes. Fighting now… is not an option.
In fact The Keepers are rather indifferent to the fate of the trainees, and will mistake you for Guardians. (The gene therapy which leads to the turquoise eyes and increased bulk comes after Tantalus IV). They will not actually begin conversation with the PCs, but will stare at them and stop them from leaving the area until the PCs start talking. They are actually curious as to why a group is in the area, as they were informed otherwise. However, they will not begin to speak due to the very intricate etiquette and customs attached to warfare within the Guardians. Indeed, it is seen as very improper to speak to an unknown force when in a superior position. The PCs will have to get the ball going. The Keepers all speak excellent Galactic Standard, and most speak at least five other languages besides that, so it is almost sure that one of them will understand the PCs. Once conversation has been started, they will speak freely, in even tones, although any answer that can be monosyllabic will be.
This can go several ways, depending on how the characters handle it:
- If the PCs are rude, obnoxious or boastful, and try to intimidate or insult the Keepers, their helmets will close, and they will simply shimmer back to their patrol, but not before wishing the PCs a courteous, if somewhat short "Good luck". This leaves the PCs to fight through many more mimint groups on foot before getting to the nearest abandoned bunker, where they will be able to join the underground maglev network. In fact, this was the original plan, but the presence of mimints will make this a very dangerous and tiresome journey, and they will arrive at the bunker exhausted and running very low on ammo, not a good thing in the middle of what is basically a warzone. This is also the ideal spot to use some of the dangerous flora and fauna discussed in the setting primer. They still have to get inside the bunker/station by disabling the turrets and cracking the door. Thankfully, the station they go to is currently uninhabited, and they manage to get to the underground maglev without any further incident, although they will have no luck at finding supplies or ammo.
- If the PCs are cagey about what they are doing, but remain polite and make no overt threatening gestures, The Keepers will simply leave them to be, pointing them in the direction of the nearest road, where, they say, will be two abandoned land buggy, which would probably help them wherever they are going. Before driving them away, however, the party will have the rather unpleasant task of clearing out the rotting corpses still in the seats. From observation, it seems that the two buggies were attacked by an aircraft, and although the buggies are damaged, they should be simple enough to repair. Using their maps, the party will be able to navigate to the original waypoint, and find the same small bunker as in the previous option. En route, however, they will be ambushed by three trainee Guardians, who are themselves after the buggies. being only three, the damage they can do is minimal, but the element of surprise might just work in their favour. Unfortunately, they only carry conventional weapons, but this will at least allow the PCs to replenish some of their ammo.
- If the PCs tell them where they are going honestly and in a friendly manner, saying that their destination is the medical facility in another sector, then the keepers will offer to give them a lift in their combat shuttle to a medium sized station and bunker complex. After a twenty minute walk, the party will arrive at the shuttle in a clearing (protected from mimints by autoturrets) and be airlifted to the Bunker, where they will be shown the restrooms and the medical wing, where an autosurgeon will take care of their wounded. After freshening up, or perhaps using the cots in the barrack section of the bunker, They will be free to take the lift down to the Maglev station, and go on their merry way. If they ask nicely, they might even be able to scrounge supplies from the armoury. The XKH-71 rifle is pretty big for the unmodified PCs, but a very strong man or a two man fire team should be able to wield it pretty effectively. This will be a definite boost when facing the rest of the raid. (All this happens whether the PCs chose to attack or not. The Keeper’s exosuite is more than a match for any weapon that the PCs might have, and they don’t get offended from warfare. Indeed, if the PCs fought well, by all means have them praised over a meal back at the barrack.)
Regardless of whether they managed to get to the large bunker with the blessing of the Keepers, or had to fight their ways through hordes of mimints, the result is that they arrive at a deep underground maglev station where a three wagon train will be waiting for them. These trains are standard for squad movement. Although they are rather bare, the navigation system more than than makes up for that. On a great wall-screen in the forward compartment, the entire network can be called up. The intuitive interface (similar to google maps) allow them to simply click on their destination to begin the journey. Having selected the distant medical facility, a countdown timer will appear, giving them exactly 2 hours 12 minutes to reach their destination. Just enough to have a little nap if they haven’t yet, or get complacent if they have…
Act 3: Railroad Mayhem-(Trick Or Setback)
As we finally managed to settle down for a bit, something went wrong, didn’t it. Everybody was dozing off, when suddenly there was a jolt, the cabin went dark, and the train started scraping the maglev tracks. Sparks flew in a shower of light on either side of the cabin, eerie glow diffused through the dark window, and the ethereal shriek of steel against steel deafening. Of course, someone or something had tampered with the local power substation, cutting off the local section of track. Of course, what else could go wrong now?
The PCs train has stopped due to a local power outage. When it finally stops, the doors are closed, and the party has to exit through the roof escape hatch. It might also be interesting to play the darkness element to the full, filling every shadow with noise and unseen dangers. (adaptive camouflage is completely invisible in these conditions.) with their torchlight cutting through the oppressive undergound black.
Finding the electrical substation and restoring the power is the primary objective. This section is designed to give the characters that have not yet had a big part a place in the spotlight. For example, if the stealth character of the party has not had his say, twist the adventure so that this section has to be carried out by stealth, with lots of dark ventilation ducts, alert cameras and dark overhanging catwalks. If your techie hasn’t had a chance to shine, let the doors be closed, and requiring hacking at every step. Or let him have a battle of wit with the local AI to regain control of the substation. The actual reasons for the power outage are far less important than letting your underapreciated character have his moment.
Possible reason for the power outage:
- A group of special operative has been sent to terminate the PCs, following the report of the Keepers, it was clear that they did not belong here. The group is holding an ambush at the next station and the one just passed. Fighting through will be tough, and the track will have to be reactivated from the control center so that they can carry on with their journey
- The mimints are at it again! They managed to get past the next station’s defenses and are taking the generator and electronics apart. Your Keeper friends are on their way to sanitize the station from mimints, so if The PCs can stay alive for a while, they’ll be alright.
- Booooom! A nuclear blast has ripped the station’s upper levels apart, causing massive disruptions in the electrical networks. Remaining here too long is really not good for your health, and if the PCs don’t reactivate the tracks in a jiffy, they’ll get radiation poisoning.
- There is a bug in the electrical system! native wildlife has managed to get through the airlock… dangerous animals and plants have invaded the station, and the PCs are going to have to clear it all up. This is the GM’s opportunity to include bizarre and fantastic lifeform.
- Friends and mimints! Mimints have overrun the station, but this time, a small squad of Guardians is barely able to hold them off. Coming to their rescue might earn you their trust and respect. Or then again, they could think you’re part of the wrong side and turn against you as soon as the mimints are cleared.
Once the power back on it will be a simple matter to access the control room for this station and call the train. Once back ‘on track’, the journey will be fairly uneventful until they reach their destination…
Act 4: The Mimints are here!-(Climax, Big Battle or Conflict)
Ok, now something doesn’t smell right. So far so bad. So why on this godforsaken planet is there nothing wrong right now. We’ve had semisentient machines clawing at us, trains breaking down, genengineered giving us a lift, so now what? Arrived at destination, not a hostile in sight. This underground facility is huge. What’s really spooky though, is the fact that everything is in perfect working condition. At every corner, you expect a guy in a lab coat to bump into you. Gleaming white tiles reflect the lumox ceiling. LED shine besides active doorpanels. And yet, not a single human soul. We knew this was going to be deserted, but who’s keeping it clean like this?
Once arrived at the target, the PCs must then proceed to do three things:
- Gather samples and specimens of Cortical stack technology
- Gather all data from the datavault
- disable the local defense grid to allow for a pickup
And surprisingly, the first part of the plan goes without a hitch. Once the door panel has been hacked, the various cybernetic hardware required for the cortical implant procedure can be recovered from the cleanrooms. And although the PCs will have to go through airlocks and decontamination procedures, it will be a welcome change from the mission so far. If they did not manage to get patched up before now, the medical wing will have several fully automated surgery rooms, as well as plentiful medical supplies. In the emergency supply of the medical room, the PCs will also find an emergency stack reader, commonly used for identification. This portable unit is about the side of a large textbook, and has a plug to fit the stack into. If recovered, reverse engineering this device will be very helpful.
The Datavault, however, is another matter entirely. Located at the bottom of the building, it is accessible by a long access corridor. As soon as the PCs engage down the corridor, the door through which they have entered will close, trapping them inside the mainframe complex. The lights will dim, and the ceiling tiles down the corridor will fall down, only to reveal dozens of spider-like mimints that will begin to crawl towards the now-terrified PCs, walking indifferently on walls, ceiling or floor. These gleaming metallic horrors are intent on consuming the intruders, and The team will have to fight through them to reach the main server room.
In the main server room, an amazing sight awaits them. A large (13ft+) mimint, bloated by many addition of circuitry and chips stands in the middle of the illuminated space. Clearly, it is far too big to have entered through the door, and it can be suspected that it was build in situ. Its morphology is vaguely reminiscent of an insect queen, eggsack bloated, while the atrophied limbs do not even reach the floor. However, instead of laying eggs, the distorted metallic abdomen is connected to the servers behind it by thick cables. Cables that pulse with the same rhythmic light pattern as the rows of glass-protected electronics behind this final foe.
Barely having had the time to take the sight of this beast in, another waves of mimints will pour in through the ceiling and floor vents, reinforcement called by the fearful queen attempting in vain to protect itself. In reality, rather than being a queen in the biological sense, this is the brain mimint for the entire region. Having interfaced with the databanks of the medical building when it was abandoned, the mimint took over the local populace, and used their limbs to improve his physical shape, until a point was reached where only his cognitive function remained active. It does, however, possess the ability to remote control other mimints, and it will flood the room with waves after waves of exotic creations.
The Brain is incredibly well armoured by layers of strong interlocking plates. To kill it, The party will have to call on all the resources gathered so far. The Liberty rifle would make a great asset, and could easily be used to provide cover fire for a brave soul who would place explosive charges on the brain itself. This would kill it pretty effectively. The mimint wireless access codes (which could have been gathered shortly after planetfall) could also be used to turn the brain’s minions against itself, although the Techie will have to be protected for a long time before a successful hack is achieved. If all else fails, the cables can also be attacked between waves of assailants. Severing the cables, while not actually killing the brain, will remove its ability to call for backup. In any case, once the brain is disabled, the waves of killer mimints will stop, and the PCs will be free to begin extracting data from the datavaults behind the leviathan.
Some interesting facts can be gathered from the datavault beyond the mission data. As it turns out, the Mimint AI had merged itself with the building’s original AI, which is why the building was not taken apart, as it was seen as an extension of the brain’s body. It is also from here that the PCs will find the transmission codes required to disable the defense grid, and allow the long awaited pickup home. While browsing the main datacore, several references also come up on a hidden wing inside the medical facility. Isolated on an independent electrical and Security system, the equipment codes are obviously alien to the PCs, but The security seems to indicate something pretty juicy.
Act 5:The Light of day-(Reward, Revelation, Plot Twist)
We came, we saw, and we barely made it out alive. The insectoid abomination now stood dead amongst the funeral sacrifices of its own peers. The Datacore now ours, Patrick dove into the numbers. And that was when we finally understood the mission objectives.
We blew a hole in the toilet wall to access the secret section. Turns out we didn’t come here in vain after all. Rows upon rows of incubation tanks were filled with human bodies. The perfect shapes were bathed in soft green light, just enough not to trip on the wires connecting the tanks to the blinking consoles at their foot. Totally deadwalled, you couldn’t access this section without High Explosives. Even the computer system were deadwalled, and without Patrick, we would have never figured out what on earth they were doing here. As it turns out, this was a storage facility for part of their old prototypes. Yes, the biological kind of prototypes…
This is the motherlode. Although not physically vast (approximately as big as a medium highschool), this section is the centerpiece of the mission. The technology amassed here is varied and decades ahead of the rest of the other races. Early prototype for gene enhancement are stored here, and the samples that the PCs may take will be worth a very generous reward when they get back. Possibly more interesting, the technology is there for them to take and use for themselves. Early models of the Keeper exosuite will be amongst the small armoury, as will recombinant rifles and electro-transparent camouflage samples. The frozen storage will hold such a diverse array of engineered biological samples that their cold cans will not be big enough for all. In Fantasy terms, this is the treasure room, the dragon’s loot. It is up to the GM to regulate what is in here, so choose wisely.
Now, equipped with all the data and specimens they could ever need, the PCs are free to deactivate the local defense grid, and transmit the pickup message to their recovery craft. It is simply a matter of making it to the surface and boarding the shuttle, to be once and for all off this terrible place.
Here, GMs could always throw a few curveballs to the players for some final fun:
- As they await their shuttle on an open field outside, a large number (100+) of mimints attack. The pickup is going to have to be hot too!
- A Keeper squad awaits them outside. Fast talking is needed to justify the character’s presence inside the facility.
- The pilot has received orders from high command, he is to go only if the entire brain mimint is brought on board too, as well as a couple of the sarcophagus.
- The pilot doesn’t turn up. You’re a mean GM.
- The shuttle brings with it a nuclear bomb. You have to bring it back inside and set it to detonate once you are gone.
- While they were inside, the frontline moved right on top of them. Will they be able to rendezvous at the new waypoint?
Lifeforms • Fauna • Water
''Parasitical worms that breed at an alarming rate , these vicious little creatures are indeed a great plague to other aquatic species that share their habitat. It is regrettable that some of them were able to escape their enclosures and infect our local fish stocks. But rest assured good people, that our illustrious and gifted leaders have an excellent reason for encouraging the domestication of these foul things. Trust in a wisdom that exceeds ours by far ''.
-Village Spokse man for the Quarsooth initiated aqua-culture project.
Systems • Transportation • General
Throughout creation there are locations which serve as nexuses of sorts; conduits between one place and another. Such are the rules of translocation that only areas that border each other can be traversed by physical or magical means.
Lifeforms • Fauna • Forest/ Jungle
The beasts of Urghul are found in the valley of Urghul, a remote, forested valley within the Cyllerean Mountains. These unstopable creatures are gigantic carnivores with a physique resembling gorillas, but with dark bluish-green scaly skin and huge ram horns protruding from their low foreheads.
Lifeforms • Flora • Forest/ Jungle
Deep in the Ankorillian jungles grows the Corpse Flower. A dreaded plant that can entangle and poison you silently.
Hours later your companions notice your absence,
turn and search for you.
As they backtrack they unknowingly pass your last resting place.
A rather smelly, orange plant.
Lifeforms • Flora • Any
'Since the vile Plante's Deceased Hoste is not technically a Part of its Anatomy, any attemptes to Kill the Monster using regular methods is likely to prove Futile, especially that of Beheading the Creature. It seems to regarde its Head as a most Unnecessary part of its Composition, and thus as it moves its Head exhibits a frightening lacke of Expression, and lolls in a way most Unpleasant to observe.'
Lifeforms • Flora • Desert
The ochre sands stretch for miles around. Something kicks up the dust. It's a yak. A desert-yak. It ambles slowly, nuzzling the ground for the low-growing shrubs. The ranger freezes. 'Stay very still,' he warns. 'Don't move at all.' 'What is it?' you ask, breathlessly. 'It's the most dangerous creature in the whole Ocadian desert. And it's about to eat that yak...'
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? Responses (13)-13
Looks promising! Keep it up!
Afterwards we want Drizzt and the gang!
AG, you're being a bad influence again!
(It does look promising so far, though!)
Well, he said he wanted to make Drows, demons and all the other cliches. I am holding him to his word, that is all. ^^
Updated: There is some material that could possibly bother people's delicate civility in this piece. If anything gives you an adverse reaction, please PM me.
Updated: This is probably far too long and highly incoherent, as it is 02:40 AM as I finish this post. Nevermind. Questing done.
Inspiration for mood and tone of the end fight sequence: Starship Troopers->the brain, Resident Evil(film)->the red queen, Doom3 spider boss.
Inspiration for the facility: Resident Evil(film), Half life 1 and 2, Doom 1, 2 & 3, Deus Ex: IW->the magrail labs.
Wow. I got this awesome Warhammer vibe off of this piece with a swirl of Shadowrun in it. Awesome stuff, guns, AI robots, genies with turquoise eys.
Yeah, this one is a gem! Great job dark_dragon!
Good Job, nice.
As a quest submission, the plot is very precise about the universe it is set in, it actually defines it to a large degree with the sheer amount of details. Luckily, it can be adapted to other settings of the genre with some ease. Solid submission here, dark_dragon.
Solid. A worthwhile Sci-fi scenario: It reminded me of the film "Screamers" (about soldiers trying to get off a planet overrun with killer machines).
Edit: In the briefing "employer" does not wish to be named, not employee.
A little better organization would really improve on what is already an exceptional post. Detailing the plan (aka waypoints) that you have in mind the for the PCs would make it an easier read.
Also are the PC undercover or are they burglars? They seem to be a little bit of both in different scenes. You suggest they may have to avoid cameras and such when the train breaks down, but the Keepers take them junior guardians.
Finally the last room. Does the Liberty command not know the Mimints took the station, and do they not know about the prototype room? Do they not care?
I like the mission and the background a lot, and this sub deserves a high score. But the plot could use some fleshing out, and you seem to detail a lot of the red-herrings more than the major action points.
Despite the space faring premise, this piece screams "Shadowrun scenario" to me, with the majority fo the details easily alter to fit the setting. (Rather then another planet placing this in a suitable wasteland far from civilization, adjusting a few bits to include the magical ambience and races of Shadorwun setting etc..)
Very well put together and added to my favorites list for later use.