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ID: 2569


April 23, 2006, 2:38 pm

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Siren no Orakio

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ACL - The Water Column Building


ACL INC -Arthur & Clark Labs (NasdaqNM ACLU) is an electronics and computer technology developer that specializes in cutting edge hardware and specialty appliations. There are fifteen ACL sites around the country. The local one is in the architectually notable Water Column Building.

For Modern or Cyberpunk games

ACL INC -Arthur & Clark Labs (NasdaqNM ACLU), is named for the founders Samual Arthur and Roger Clark. ACL is an electronics and computer technology developer that specializes in cutting edge hardware and specialty applications. Its clients in a wide variety of sectors (military, areospace, submersible, and even some commercial).  ACL is over 20 years old now, ancient in technology circles. It went public in the mid 90s and has really expanded since then. There are fifteen ACL sites around the country.

ACL is actually known in the general population thanks to its “Information wants to be free” type ads. These ads not only increase branding, but help to differentiate the lab. Several years ago, they were targets of protestors who did not get that the ACL and the ACLU were two different groups. Amongst those of the technical orientation, their old catch phrase of “The Magic we do”, playing on the founders’ names and the author’s phrase, still brings a smile to those in the know.

The ACL operation in the city is in The Water Column, a sixteen story office complex down town. This stylish buildings is a tall, thin, slightly turning ‘glass tower’ style office building. It has a square footprint. Each story turns 2 degrees clockwise from the one below it, creating a gently twisting effect. The building really stands out from its surrounding by having a blue sheen on its external glass. The building has been featured in a number of magazines because of its unique turning design. If it was not surrounded by other tall buildings, it would be a major local landmark.

The lobby is your standard lobby: tile, plants, elevators, fountain, and an information desk. There are some water wall sculptures against most of the inner walls. A bit different than most is the two sets of detectors you have to walk through to get to or from the elevators and stairs. The rent a cops here have an air of competence that marks them as real security in rent a cop uniforms.

(Employees are subject to random checks as well, especially if they have any electronic devices, brief cases, or boxes. )

Floors two to four are professional looking business offices. Known as “Suit Land”, it is here the local marketing, human resources, accounting, and admins have offices.

Floors five to eleven are “Lab Land”. Each floor follows the same basic pattern: the outer ring is office/ cubicles, the core is the science station and labs, between them is the “ring of death”.  The science stations on these floors are mostly chemistry, material development, magnetic projection, laser work, and some clean room development for custom chips. These areas are all tempest shielded. There is an assembly section on the 9th floor for smallish product, but some prototyping and juryrigging is done here.

Lab products are never to cross the Ring of Tile and enter personal offices. To make sure that certain things don’t, a couple of sensors are in the halls.  These items include all memory devices (drives, disks, cd-roms, etc), labware (beakers, flam kits, etc), certain bulk chips in the lab, and many company laptops. The alarm sets off a set of blue blinking lights and locks the doors to the stairs and the elevators until security comes and clears it.  There are no copiers above the 4th floor either. They are very serious about security and information control here. Note: Having an untagged memory device here is grounds for termination and suing for breach of contract. So no Ipods here. (Jenkins on the 6th floor has cobbled together MP Players for others inside the labs or in their offices, so they can have tunes without bringing a unit in and out of the building.) Also keep in mind the sensors at the elevators for the lobby also have sensors, just to catch memory devices and various materials being brought in.

Floors twelve to sixteen are an odd mishmash of contrasting personnel (sometimes called Freak Land). Here there are various local computer lab and the IT support crew (with their offices), with their various eccentric computer practicioners. These strange cube warriors tinker far in the night fixing PCs and other electronic equipment, working on connections, and making sure everything is Tempest Secure (or better). The sturdy and solid Environmental Control department is on the 12th and 14th floor. Here workmen, technicians, and their bosses make sure everything in the building works well. They tend to dislike the freaks in IT. The back up of environmental equipment is on the 12th floor, to ensure all the computers in this section stay cool (and the rest of the building has air and temp control). On the 13th floor is the security section. While they look like rent-a-cops with their bad uniforms, they have the professional air of a crack military team (which in fact, they are). From their control center, they control all the elevators, access to the basement and roof (requiring someone at the door and in the control center to act in concert to open those doors). They can monitor every person in the buildings (rdif tags in their badges) with a huge number of video cams in the hallways and any “public” area. They have a small secret armory, that will let them arm up with equipmement that makes a small spec op team jealous (2nd generation prototype LandWarrior armor helmets and gun).

The 16th floor and part of the 15th are actually cell switching systems that are leased out to the local cell company. The systems are mixed in with the serious cooling systems found there.  The area is dark, oddly lit by blinking LEDs on the machines, filled with whirring and machine noises. There is always a tangle of cables on the floor, so be careful in there. The equipment here is actually run by people from ACL for the phone company. Normally there is only one person in here at a time.

The roof has a number of towers, dishes, air conditioner vents, and tempest links. Occasionally you will find burned pigeons on it. That is because there is a small laser grid here, if you approach several of the areas on the roof.

The building has three elevators and one set of spiral stairs in the outer edge of the core (i.e. they exit in and out of the “ring of death”). There is an cargo elevator that operates to all levels, but it is slow and is under the control of security on the 13th flood.

There is an underground storage area that almost nobody knows about. In the back of this area is the line switching boxes for the building as well as the power grid connections. The area looks mismashed, with boxes and crates and broken copiers strewn about. If all emptied out, it would look like a typical underground train station (subway station). You can even see where they bricked up were they started to build the connecting tunnels. In fact, remove some bricks and you will reach dirt.

That ends the general knowledge of the building.

This building’s site was actually chosen for it’s access to an underground tunnel line that was part of an unfinished underground railway development. Not even the company’s insurance provider or the IRS is aware of this particular feature and thus the operations that on in that area are completely classified to the ACL corporation.

Several years ago the military provided ACL with a technological sample of ‘unknown’ origin. They received a multimillion dollar contract to develop derivative technology from this sample. (The payments of this contract were given as overrun fees and overbids on their other contracts).

The basement level is known to be an ess the lift down to the “underground storage area”. In what looks like a typical underground train station (subway station) the company has been storing crates of electronic equipment. This provides a cover story to fool the average office workers as to the purpose of the underground area. There is a hidden vault door that provides access to the real purpose of the underground area- the secret lab where the military project was being developed.

This leads to an airlock like chamber where a series of x-ray and electronic detectors scan all occupants before opening the door into or out of the classified area. Weapons and other materials will set of the detectors and not be allowed in or out.

The PC’s may be able to bypass this with some computer knowhow, but if not they will have to leave their metallic equipment in the storage area they just came from. Once the metal detectors are satisfied the vault door seals and the door into the security area is opened. That security checkpoint was designed so no technology could be smuggled out of the lab.

The research area is a series of rectangular tunnels, with metal paneled walls and floors and florescent lights above. These tunnels also break off into independently sealed rooms where the actual technological development takes place. The tunnels also have doors placed periodically, though most of these are still in the floor. When these doors activate they rise and block the path. There are electronic locks for both the hallway doors and the chamber doors.

Of course you know that sometime soon, something is going to happen down there.


It all depends on exactly what kind of material the Military provided and what the PCs are (Shadowrunners/ Solos? Military Spec Ops, Internal security, Local Police with no clue, just employees, or Supers?). The example materials could be alien DNA, self replicating metal materials, holographic chips from a robot from the future, anti-gravity crystals, some archeological pieces that emanate a strange power, or what ever.

Aliens are beaming in: The building has begun to be bombarded by alien signals. At first the IT dept thought it was the cell system acting weird. Now ET has called here, and they are calling collect. Now it is time to pay as some of the technology here takes a life of its own. The aliens want the stuff in the basement and you are in the way. They may eventually materialize on the upper floors and fight their way down.

The Alien Intelligence: Yes, the thing in the lab has taken over the building. Now you have to survive all the technical horrors it can throw at you.

The Disaster Adventure: There has been a disaster, an unexpected Earthquake will do, and now the lab is in disarray. Things begin to happen.

Industrial Espionage: Always a classic. Of course, then they break into someplace they shouldn’t.

Invaders: People have been taken over. The ACL building is actually a nest of invaders posing as humans. These invaders may be pseudo robots, metamorphing subterraneans, or aliens in human suits.

The Mole Creatures: Only somewhat related to the alien materials, some subterranean creatures invade the lower lab to get the material. Now things are going south… literally as the building is sinking.

Power unleashed: Yes, Clarke’s law goes extreme. Now spell casters can exist… the guys down in the lower lab have discovered how to make “magic” work because of the artifacts sent down there.

The Robots going marching out. Yes, the robots they have been building down below have taken over. They are trying to get out of the lab, but the security in place prevents them.  Now what?

Robots II: The Androids go strolling out. Maybe the robots have gotten smarter, and made human versions. The security might stop it… then what next.

The Thing: Have you seen The Thing or The Blob? You know this plot.

Time Portals: Dozens of them have opened up in the building. People and things are now coming both ways.

Have fun people.

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Comments ( 12 )
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Voted Murometz
April 23, 2006, 13:32
Fantastic! I will not go into a long shpiel, since I have been familiar with this Laboratory from chats with Moon, and a previous peek. Suffice it to say this is wonderful tool for a modern campaign! Rife with verisimilitude and panache. Stirs the mind and evokes fervent thought. I can think of about thirty more plot hooks to boot! This is great! An instant gaming session for the masses!

Oh and Nasdaq..hehe cute!
April 23, 2006, 13:34
You can post your plotlings (little plot ideas) in comments here. That goes for the rest of you as well.

Now feel free to use this as a setting for a plot submission.
Voted CaptainPenguin
April 23, 2006, 14:34
C'mon, now, I saw right through the name.. Arthur C. Clarke. :D

April 23, 2006, 14:46
If people didn't, I would swat them upside the head. It is a bit of a joke and a bit of homage to the master. I like using known actors and characters as templates for NPCs, so people have an idea about the character going into it. This is just an extension of that.
April 23, 2006, 14:38
Updated: Added a few more plotseeds.
Voted Cheka Man
April 23, 2006, 15:07
Very good in any sci-fi game.
Voted Ria Hawk
April 23, 2006, 19:19
I like. You always need the uber-corporationg that may or may not be doing things they shouldn't. Some possible plotbunnies right off the top of my head:

Oops: Someone has seen too much (and PCs are good at that), and Security decides they need to be eliminated.

Lab Rats: Workers in the building are unexplainably going missing for a few days, then returning to work acting strangely. They have been used as human experiments downstairs, and now there's hell to pay. Unleash a plague of the walking dead, unexplained bioweapon getting out of control (super or alien disease, alien infestation), super powers randomly and impressively going out of control, etc.

NWO: Whatever ACL is doing, it's part of a bid to establish the New World Order. Whether they're building supersoldiers or developing mind control, they should probably be stopped...

Hostile Takeover: Someone, another company, a military strike force, or terrorists, it doesn't matter, know what's going on downstairs, and they want it. They have guns and other fun things. If you've seen Die Hard...
Voted Scrasamax
April 23, 2006, 21:55
Well, pretty much what every one else has said, adding in a plug for Resident Evil, and the Umbrella Corp.
August 25, 2006, 16:08
BUMP. I think I will do that Codename: Shrike scenario/plot based on this.
August 26, 2006, 10:14
Please do. This place can be used for any number of scenarios.
Voted Siren no Orakio
November 6, 2006, 20:34
I can't believe I missed this before.
I will be using this. Those poor shadowrunners.
Voted valadaar
March 1, 2013, 15:45
A great modern location. Lots of useful details, places to tear apart in the upcoming havoc.

Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

       By: Strolen

The PC's enter a town amid a giant celebration, the Spring Wedding Festival. Unmarried men and women from all over the provinces gather her every spring to be matched by the most sacred matchmaker ever to live, Holly Lovard. Holly is now ancient and must be carried everywhere she visits and rumors are that this will be her last visit to the Wedding Festival so any matches made this spring will be doubley blessed.
Enter PC's, wrong place at the wrong time. Molly sees one of them, calls him/her out of the crowd and that are unable to resist the push and pull of the mob. Brought in front of Molly Lovard, the PC is declared the lifemate of .
Could be the king's daughter, a peasant, member of the thieves guild. Could be anything to add a twist to an already building plot, or just throw the characters into an awkward situation.

Encounter  ( City/ Ruin ) | February 16, 2003 | View | UpVote 3xp

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