The Flight of Retribution
UAC Scientists have discovered a strange artifact on the surface of Phobos. They wish to transport it to an 'off-the-radar' base above Saturn's moon, Titan, but fear that space pirates may have gained intel on the artifact. Additional protection is needed; this is where you come in!
A Cosmic Era, Event Horizon/Doom-influenced Plot, for the optional Occult Brotherhood quest.
Demonologist, Optional quest
- The guild leader will allocate two 'key words' and one 'key phrase' to anyone attempting the optional quest. These key words will be unique for anyone attempting the quest. The pledge must create a submission of any category which incoorperates all of these key words and pertains to the Occult.
Since I am the guild leader, Murometz issued me with my key words. They are as follows:
3. 'In lightning, madness'
Instead of going the traditional route of Fantasy, I decided to go off the beaten path a bit and work on some Sci-Fi. Specifically, within Scrasamax's Cosmic Era.
UAC archeologists on Phobos have uncovered a significant alien artefact in their excavations on the moon surface. It's large and spherical, made of an unknown metal and it's pockmarked with Regmaglypts as though it had fallen from the sky - or perhaps through dimensions! The object appears to have similarities to the teleportation technology gleaned from other excavations on Phobos, but the power they inject into the device does not seem to be enough to activate it. Scientists decide that the object warrants further research on an 'off the radar' research station codenamed Rapture, above Saturn's moon, Titan. Thus, they load their cargo onto the UAC research\Science vessel 'Retribution' to transport. This is where the players come in.
The players are hired by one of the scientists (Ideally one the pcs have built up a rapport with in the past, or a friend of someone they previously helped) to come along as extra security because such a high profile discovery will be a likely target for space pirates. Many of the other UAC employees dont like the idea of outsiders joining in on this highly classified mission, but they begrudgingly allow it. (cue tensions between shipmates and pc's) pc's can intermingle with the crew before take off to ask questions, find out who might be on their side and who doesn't trust them etc. There are about four UAC personal military, two scientists and four or so flight/maintenance crew. (Feel free to add or remove extras to suit your own campaign!) When they are ready, the Artefact is secured in the research lab and Retribution begins take-off.
Players may continue to mingle with the crew for as long as they wish in the mess hall while travel begins; building up friendships and possible enemies. As a rule of thumb, the friendlier they are with one section (Military, Scientists or Flight/maintenance), the less rapport they will have with the others.
The artefact is placed in the Laboratory at the back of the ship, with various probes and gauges connected to it for research.
Once all conversations are done and your players are satisfied, they must rest.
The journey will be long and stasis pods will be in use, but midway through the flight the crew is woken up in the dead of space by the automatic systems: The radar has detected another ship!
If anyone is clear-headed enough to check on the console in the stasis room, they will find that they are nearly at their destination, orbiting Saturn and with Titan on the other side of the planet.
Sure enough, the other ship is identified as space pirates, obviously come to steal the artefact; one of the crew has betrayed them (and of course this means the pcs will be accused)! The pirates are flying a small, swift Remora class ship, named for it's ability to latch onto the underside of larger ships and breach the hull. Before Retribution can fire on them an EMP burst is shot, disabling Retribution's weapons systems and much of their navigation and non-emergency power.
The pirates swoop onto Retribution and fuse with her, burning a breach in the science vessel's hull to invade them. About two dozen heavily armed pirates invade and disperse through the ship. The Pilot explains that the best chance is to escort him to the cockpit and guard the door long enough for him to manually guide the ship into the stormy atmosphere of Saturn, because Retribution has experimental nodes on the hull of the ship which allows it to attract and absorb lightning and convert it as energy to recharge the ship - this is a technology which allows Retribution to 'skim' planets to refuel without actually landing, so long as any planets they meet are atmospherically capable of producing lightning.
once the power is back on, automatic defenses including turrets will activate to help overwhelm the pirates.
To to Summarize the Space-Drama Section: Travel from cryo/statis chambers through the pirate-infested ship to the cockpit while making sure the pilot (or one of the pilots if you want to be more forgiving and add extras) survives. Then hold off the pirates while the pilot gets the ship into Rapture. Additionally, the party will have the challenge of convincing the crew that they didn't tip off the pirates.
In Lightning, Madness
Success! The party made it to the cockpit and the pilot has directed the ship into the storm within Saturn's atmosphere, and -ZAP- a bolt of lightning strikes the shipes nodes. Lights and power flare violently back into life (with dramatic sparks for effect!). But then all lights fade once more. Something is draining the power! Another bolt of lightning strikes with the same effect, and then a third. But this time the entire ship rocks violently - it feels as though the ship is going to tear itself apart! The pilot decides to break free of the atmosphere and return to space. Some systems are restored, but many are still offline.
The security cameras return to life though and on the screens, the research lab which the artefact was in is revealed: Where the object stands, hooked to electrodes, A dimensional rift has appeared, projected and floating above it. Three dead pirates lie on the floor, their blood and entrails strewn across the room. The pc's watch the camera for a couple more seconds, until a horrific demonic creature is revealed (Doom's Imp), and leaps at the camera, destroying it!
The scientists in the cockpit surmise that the massive jolts of lightning must have breathed life back into the artefact like a defibrillator restarts a heart - it absorbed all the energy and used it to tear a rift in dimensions - which must have been it's original purpose. Now demons are invading the ship, as if matters weren't dire enough!
From here, the PC's have three options for survival, which can be discussed, argued and bargained with the NPC's. Some of the NPC's would like to try and retake and salvage the ship, removing the pirates and demonic portal both. (especially the Military whose training tells them to secure the ship).
Some of the NPC's want to head straight for escape pods, and Retribution and the artefact be d**ned! (especially the Flight and maintenance crew, who haven't got as much invested in the ship or finding.)
Finally, some NPC's want to find a way to salvage the ship and artefact both. (especially the scientists who don't want to lose their discovery!)
The ultimate decision will be swayed by the PC's, so hopefully they choose wisely!
Option 1: Retreat! (Flight/maintenance crew's choice)
The easiest option with the least risk and least reward. All they will be rewarded with is their lives. The PC's must fight through the halls of Retribution to the escape pods on the far side of the ship. It involves travel through various rooms, with various encounters with pirates, zombie pirates (former humans possessed by the demonic entities, a la Doom), and demons. There will be the usual light problems, isolation and fear aspects that you'd expect in a doom-like encounter. Pirates can be bargained with against their common demon enemies, but only 10 slots are available in the escape pods and the pirates will know they are probably the first choice to be left behind. Retreating like this will leave a very bad opinion in the eyes of the UAC bigwigs - as far as they are concerned, the PC's lost both an important find and an expensive research vessel. Expect a negative retaliation from them in the future!
Option 2: Destroy the portal! (Military choice)
The second option is to re-take Retribution. It also involves fighting through the ship this time to get to the lab. Some pirates may join the group if diplomacy is good. On entering the lab, the PC's will find that the portal is flickering on and off - it wasn't charged fully and so every ten minutes the portal is active for a couple of minutes. The artefact cannot be destroyed by any weapons the party has, so the only option is to take it to the air lock and jettison it. While the portal is inactive two people can carry the artefact. But every ten minutes it should be dropped - the portal will flare into life, bigger every time, and the party must defend themselves against whatever comes out. Once they get it to the airlock there a final portal - out of which a great demon arrives (For example, Doom's Hell Knight). The party must destroy the demon before they can get the artefact in the lock and remove it.
Saving Retribution will gain them moderate respect from the UAC coorperation.
Option 3: Salvage operation! (Scientist's choice)
The third option is the riskiest because it means leaving the portal to remain open longest, meaning more demons and more chance of powerful demons breaking through. The party must figure out how to disable the portal. There is only one effective way; fight their way all the way to the breach and enter the Remora class pirate ship. In there, they must once again activate the pirate's EMP field, distrupting the electrical charge within the artefact which will disable the portal permanently.
Not only is it a good idea to team up with the pirates in this, it is nearly imperative, as the PC's will need to seek out and parley with the pirate leader so he can bypass the security to activate the EMP field - the leader's DNA is the only thing that can activate the EMP field. The Pirate leader will be barricaded in the mess hall of Retribution, a makeshift barrier made from tables where he is holding off demons with three of his companions. The leader must either be negotiated with or captured then escorted safely to his ship. Once the portal is closed, the artefact itself must be secured. In the laboratory though, horrific demons lie in wait!
(Mancubus, Hell knights or worse - perhaps even a Vagary or 'Guardian' style monster as seen in Doom 3; something that the team will have to really work together to take down.)
Saving both the ship and the artefact will garner great respect from bigwigs at the UAC, although it is a morally poor choice (giving the UAC access to demonic capabilities). The UAC will reward the party greatly, even perhaps giving them membership to the upper levels of the coorperation (Useful if the ultimate goals of the party is to infiltrate the UAC!)
The Crew Shakedown
Retribution is being run on a bare-bones crew, because less people on the mission means less people know about the artefact.
Captain Russel Vamond: Captain Vamond is an elderly man. He has seen many battles and the worst of mankind and is now tired of it. He's head of the security of Retribution but isn't very motivated by his job. He will be lenient with the PC's and very accepting of them because honestly, he doesn't much care anymore.
Sergeant Victor Smith: Victor is military through-and-through. He secretly hates his post on Retribution and longs to take part in larger endeavors rather than be stuck in this ship with stuffy scientists. But while he is on the job he will perform it to the best of his abilities. Victor hates Russel's lackluster demeanor and will take any opportunity he can to overthrow him. Victor has a very 'drill-sergeant' attitude.
Victor does not like the PC's, being quite distrustful of outsiders. But if any of the PC's have a military background he will be far more open and friendly to them.
Corporal Julia Maktan: Julia is a Bitch; there's just no other way about it. She feels the constant need to be overbearing and crass - usually at the expense of the other NPC's - and feels that she has to do this because she is female and worries about not being taken seriously. She will be more open to female PC's, and will be quite belittling of male NPCs. She won't, however, step out of line with Victor or Russel.
Corporal James Robertson: James is a bleary-eyed man who seems to often be lost in his head. He's been in some fairly horrific battles and has been scarred mentally by them. At first appearances he will seem to be almost incompetent, but there are no other NPC's on the ship that are as competent in battle (much to Victor's disdain, since he doesn't like to admit that others are better than him). When combat begins, he will become a different man; vicious, calculating and merciless.
Out of combat, James is extremely friendly towards the PC's - he's grateful for some fresh faces and fresh stories to keep his thoughts on other things.
Constance Shaw: Constance is an elderly woman, who seems a little bit 'off'. She's constantly fidgeting; adjusting glasses and mumbling to herself. She was an archeologist and professor for many years before the UAC recruited her and now she is lead of a major excavation effort on Phobos. She refused to stay behind however, and demanded that she accompany this object to Rapture.
To her, this whole mission is all about learning about the Artefact and everything else is secondary. She will be more curious than worried when the Artefact activates, and will be VERY vocal about not abandoning the object. She will pretty much ignore the presence of the PC's.
Peter Harrison: Peter is a good friend of Constances, and has been for many years - he studied under her back in her hey-day, and was recruited personally by her when she was bought out by the UAC.
Peter is less fanatical about the Artefact. Peter is the one who recruited the PC's and as such is sympathetic to them. He is excited about the flight simply because he hadn't been allowed access to Rapture before, and his main goal is to get there alive.
Graham Walker: Graham is a grey-haired, prim and proper man. He wears his flight uniform proudly and is boastful that when he was younger he captained a battle-cruiser for UAC's personal army. Now, Retribution is his ship to control - although the scientists technically have more sway in the goings on of the research vessel. He is not too keen on newcomers on the ship, but if Molly puts in a good word, he might warm up.
Molly Walker: Molly does much of the general duties on Retribution, from nurse duties to organizing the food-paks for meals. She is a cheerful woman, always up for a joke and doesn't give a damn that newcomers are on the ship.
Though she doesn't seem the type, Molly is also the co-pilot for Retribution, and is able to take over flight duties should the captain be incapacitated. Graham and Molly are siblings, although they won't bother revealing this to outsiders. They grew up together and one can sway the other easily.
Rafael Coriand: Rafael is the go-to-man for odd-jobs and electronics. If it has a chip in it, he can fix it. He's great at bypassing security locks and hacking into locked out systems. Rafael hates that there are outsiders on the ship: He believes that nothing good can come of it. When pirates attack, this only reinforces his beliefs. He will take some major convincing to get on the PC's side, but his skills will be useful Retribution!
Justin Damascus: Head of maintenance for Retribution is an old, grey-haired, foul-mouthed man. He smells of Cigarette smoke, and is short and to the point. Justin wants nothing more than to retire, but he simply doesn't have the funds for it! While gruff, he is sympathetic towards the PC's, and treats Icarus like a son.
Icarus Mayfield: An apprentice under Justin. This young man is bright eyed and energetic, and always happy to help out. He is too new in the crew to have much of an opinion on anything, but will take orders without complaint.
*Icarus is the Traitor! He was approached by the leader of the pirates before he even began working on Retribution; the pirate leader offered him vast amounts of credits if he were to share vital information with them. Foolishly, Icarus did this with the artefact.
Icarus regrets his choices, but will not come clean without intimidation. The pirate leader has used Icarus, and has no plans of paying him, nor interacting with him at all.
This time of year often brings the summer doldrums to the Citadel. A time of slow updates and intermittent submissions. We may have passed the worst but until the summer ends, the weather changes and school starts again we may not have the action we sometimes have.
Because of that, we are holding the Doldrum Quest. I wanted it to be pretty open to most anything so we will attach it to the Guild quests again to allow people to branch out how they want. This also adds some incentive to join and progress in the Guilds. So go join a Guild now and if your submission goes towards your Guild accomplishments, it can go towards this quest as well.
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? Responses (9)
I really liked the differing factions and many options. The bad parts were the old artifact macguffin plot and the use of doom demons, even though the latter didn't really affect things much. Somewhat predictable and mainstream, could have used a twist.
But, that being said, it was very well written and structured, enough so to warrant a high score.
Here are some thoughts;
Since there's only two scientists, it seems overly easy to befriend that faction as opposed to the other ones.
Since that scanner door only required DNA from the pirate captain, they could still kill him and bring a chopped off hand or something, right?
It would seem like the millitary's goals would be fulfilled with the scientist's quest as well, only in a slightly more dangerous and complex way, would it be possible to get them all on the same page, or are the factions so opposed to eachother that they won't help eachother out?
If you want something besides just a non-descript artefact, how bout taking the plot from Event Horizon, and saying that the science vessel has an experimental slip stream mode of travel, which just incidentally, takes a shortcut across hell.
I like the way the sub is structured, and how what faction you decide to ally with can influence the end objective of the mission. The entire sub feels like a good space horror movie, one that I would like to see.
Gossamer's comment has some truth to it, the inclusion of the Doom references and demons, I would liked to have seen more done with them, maybe a paragraph or two about the demons beyond the reanimated corpses. Maybe the Hell Knight isn't just a smashy kill monster, but a sentient hellish being that in addition to murder, rape and destruction is a competent pilot and spacer.
Also: Doom is an established source for the Cosmic Era, specifically the early computer games. The appearance of random demons and monsters corresponds with the storm breach/rift phenomenon and the UAC would really really like to have this sort of device.
I usually do not enjoy Sci-Fi space faring material as I am a Fantasy Bound junkie. Some of this was just entirely to far predicable; Go into stasis sleep and get woken up early because of an issue (attack, random comet, etc), seen this is way to many movies, TV shows and books. However I understand that simple makes it work and it does. (My gamers would be well aware of what is to come.)
However, now the threat of an invading force of demonic forces is sitting on the distant horizon and should be allowed to be forgotten and brought up at a later date.
All valid points from everyone!
I didnt expand the sub because I didnt want too ramble on too much, but in hindsight, more info on the demons and some interesting locations within Retribution would have been handy.
Mourn, your extra choice of survival is great and i dont know why i didnt consider it! Also, you are absolutely right about it being cliche and predictable. This isn't made to be innovative and boundary pushing, simply a fun encounter where you get to play the part of a space horror victim; it should only last a day and be used when you want something quick and easy to throw at your gamers.
The inconsistencies are from copying over a draft then tweaking some bits and pieces. Oops :D
I know I'm risking my geek cred here, but I've never actually played Doom. I can kind of guess that the demons look like demons, but beyond that the names mean very little to me. A little more detail on that front would have been beneficial for me.
While I like the factions idea, there's too much danger of the players getting bored before the action takes place. It feels like there could be a whole nother dimension (har har) to this. Not saying I know what that could be, just that I think there should :P
(Having said all that, I wish I'd been able to see this movie instead of the ghastly failure that was Event Horizon.)
There are some really cool pieces in this, such as the lightning charging the device.
I love the idea of taking the pirate attack up a notch by throwing in the demons. If done right, you could make the pirates just this side of too tough for the PCs. And once they think they can get a hand on the situation, Bam! Throw some nasty demons their way and make them really sweat it out.
The various scenarios are good, although as Mourn pointed out you can only second guess your players so much. Players can sometimes be really good at coming up with something completely random that borks up your plans.
A good idea, and has a lot of roleplay potential for a sci-fi campaign. Sci-Fi is not my usual, but I can still admire a job well done. The explicit Doom references distracted me (a little) however, it would have been better to leave them implied or mention it once at first then not again.
The Good: A highly adaptable open ended plotline full off choices and consequences, interesting NPC's and fun tech to play with. If this entry is short, its cause its fairly well rounded.
The Bad: Explicit Doom references (this is forgivable). Also, in the 'Artifact Recovery' choice, in that position I (as a PC) would be inclined to possibly fight my way to the artifact and try to disable it from there, using the enemy EMP would not be my first thought. A good DM can improvise on the spot, but its a hole in the options provided. Not a glaring one though.
I really wanted to like the references, but in the end I had to admit it distracted, and pointing them out was unnecessary to the submission. Still, good job plotting out a lot of the ways it could go.
I personally do not like scripted plots once PC's are on the scenes, so I'd have the PCs awakened by a panicked crewmember. For some reason, perhaps they were overlooked in the confusion, the PC's come on the scene just before the discovery of the demons - the power outage threw them out of sleep, hard, and they emerge disoriented.
From that point on, they can influence the continued unfolding of events.
In any case, this is only my take on it above what has been said about the demons. I'd have at least filed the names off em :)
Kudos on an excellent and well-made plot!
I personally do not like scripted plots once PC's are on the scenes, so I'd have the PCs awakened by a panicked crewmember slightly before the demons are discovered - perhaps they were overlooked in the confusion. they come out with all hell breaking lose.
From that point on, they can influence the continued unfolding of events.
In any case, this is only my take on it above what has been said about the demons. I'd have at least filed the names off em :)
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