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[Traveller] Satboys

Vela 5B in Orbit

Vela 5B in Orbit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Satboys
Needed: planet with low to mid tech level and/or low population

Artifical satellites are one of the main tools of interstellar civilization. Often they are one of the first important steps for low tech civilizations to become technologically advanced, and be it only through the use of better communication technology than before. Consequently it’s a common sidejob many spaceship captains do when asked: just bring a small satellite up there for the greater good and a few extra creds.
Greg Winchester is someone with a plan: the only thing that stands between him and riches is the fact that his company does not have the facilities to launch some recently acquired TL 10 satellites into space. And that’s how the characters come in: some interested people are needed to get the satellites up into orbit with either their own ship, or with a chartered tram freighter that sometimes comes through. Easy enough, wouldn’t it be?

Complications:

  1. Everything is as presented, the only differences are of mechanical nature
  2. There is a rival to Greg’s company, and these people long had the same plan that he had. Their methods are a bit different though. They have hired a small team to make life diffcult for the characters.
  3. as 2. but the people hired are supposed to depose of them in orbit. No satellites means nobody around to trace back a murder or two in orbit
  4. Coincidence as it may be, but there is already a satellite in that orbit. Although not known down below the government does like to keep tabs on it’s citizens/spy satellites are in high use on this balkanized world
  5. as 4. but instead of a normal satellite this thing has nuclear weapons installed, for the greater good…
  6. as 5. but that was exactly what Greg thought they would find. He is in the employ of one of the planets secret services and supposed to destroy those. Oh. if there were not thse pesky space marines defending this thing…
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[Traveller] Spacer Hill

needed: E or D starport on small colony.

Father John Xubulr has a problem: he is the priest for the local community on this godforsaken planet (or at least the only one at it’s spaceport) and one of his fold has died recently. The old spacer Jacso had been in space for nearly his whole lifetime, shipping goods to the nearby planets, both in and out of the starsystem. Now he is dead, and his last wish was to be buried on spacer hill, a part of the local graveyard that is rising over the spaceport.
For generations the hill has been reserved for the spacers of the community, those who lived their live between the worlds to bring home wealth and prosperity, and it has been like that since the colony was founded hundreds of years ago. There is a problem though:  old Jacso had been in an accident way back when he was doing shippings for one of the megacorps, and half his body had been replaced with cybernetics on the company’s bill.

He was an old spacer, and nobody gave him much grief for it, even though a lot of them started to stare at the chrome he had.
Now the local folks are enraged: no way will they allow a dirty stinkin’ robot be buried on their hill! He might have been born here, but he was half machine and he should go to the scrapyard like the rest of them.
Father John has a problem here and needs some help: he promised Old Jacso to bury him up the hill, and part of the congregation expects him to do exactly that. A vocal minority is dead set against this and threatens violence if that “dirty chipper” is even brought close to the hill.
Father John will offer the characters a handsome amount of money the old spacer left to the parish if they will help him get the body (which is heavy due to the cybernetics in it) to the hill and into the ground.

Complications:
1. Everything is as it appears. The people who are against the burial grumble a bit but nothing happens.
2. As 1. but the people take an intense dislike to the “blasphemers”. They will not make this known directly, but small stuff (spare parts for the starship going missing, refusal of service, etc.) should bring it across.
3. The characters have a lynchmob at hand and will kill father John if nothing is done against that
4. as 3. but the characters also will notice an intense dislike and some sabotaged equipment on their spaceship, some of which might even lead to problems in space. If the characters are not here with their own ship there might be a chance that they become stranded due to the captains dislike for their actions.
5. As above, but somebody will try to get rid of the body by digging it out again after the burial
6. as 5. but the body removes itself from the grave: the cybernetics were more extensive than one would have imagined and the characters now have to deal with a cyberzombie.

Inspired by Marvel Star Wars #7, which was a direct continuation of the movie. The story itself was lackluster: after making a comic version of Star Wars the comic artists started doing their own storylines in the marvel comics and they su… uhm… didn’t know where to go with their storyline. At least in the beginning. The next two issues had a green space bunny and a humanoid porcupine in a variant of the Seven Samurai.

My Entry for the One Page Dungeon Contest 2012…

… is rather old actually. Last year I got into the mood of creating a dungeon somewhere after the last contest, and created The Mourning Wight of Brakhill.

Well, I noticed that the creation of a One Page Dungeon might be nice, but rather timeconsuming, so I just entered the Wight into the competition. Because really, I could sit down and create something really new, but right now I am working on so many other things it would just not come out right. For me writing OPD is a bit like writing a poem. I might not be the best of poets, but I damn well will try to create something that I can be proud of.

[Labyrinth Lord] Vampiroids

Ernst Stöhr, Vampir, 1899

Okay, this one is not intended to give you Dracula, this one is more that kind of folk legend vampire that is so common over the whole of Europe. I imagine them more to be some half-living bloodcrazed monster than some fancy aristocrat. Normal vampires don’t lend themselves to a “Goddamn Bloodsuckers” Hack and Slay play that easily. These are more mooks than masters. They might be found in the employ of a real vampire though. Mostly, I guess, PCs might come across the in graveyards and old ruins in the wilderness, or having run over the next village they wanted to rest in.

Vampiroids
No. Enc.: 1d4 (1d6)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 180’ (60’)
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 1 (touch, see below)
Damage: 1d8, drain life energy
Save: F7
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: VII

Sometimes, the legend goes, when the ones slain in battle are not buried, and when their open wounds are not washed, then evil spirits can enter the dead body and resurrect it as an undead beast, craving the blood of the living. The general public often conflates stories of them with those of other, more powerful creatures, but for unsuspecting towns and villages these creatures are even more of a threat. Especially because of a special trait they have: everybody slain by them has a 10% chance of raising as one of them the next night if no special precautions are taken. Their brains do not work quite as well as when they were alive anymore, and they generally show a wolfish quality in their intelligence, often even forming packs for their hunt.

Their general appearance is ragged and dirty, often only the tattered clothes they were killed, or buried in, sometimes nothing at all.Their appearance will grow worse with time. Their fangs, which are only slightly larger than before, grow bigger over time, their skin becomes more leathery, and they slowly loose their hair over time, until they barely resemble the humanoid they originally were. They do generally take only sparse interest in their looks.

They will generally try to find dry places away from the sun, often tombs and old ruins, in which they can sleep undisturbed during the day. If this is not possible they will bury themselves in the ground to avoid the sun.

During the night they are better off than most of their prey. They have infravision, a better sense of smell, and they can run faster than the average human. They are stronger and more agile than before.

What they lack is anything but basic intelligence, which decreases over time as well. The time they were dead normally was enough to kill most of their braincells, so they have a more primal urge to kill and drink blood, to the detriment of their own survival instinct. They also an aversion to garlic of all things and will take 1d6 damage for every round they stay in direct sunlight. They count as undead and can be warded off like them.

On the other hand they are easier to be killed than most and will stay dead once their heart or head is removed. (although there are different folk-rechniques to make sure the beast stays dead).

Magic:

Create Vampiroids
Magic User 5
Duration: Permanent
Range: 0

This spell turns the bodies recently dead humanoids into Vampiroids. This spell does not give power over them, so the caster should have a way of controlling them once they are animated. They remain animated until they are destroyed.

The caster may animate a number of hit die worth of Vampiroids equal to the caster’s level. A lawful character that casts this spell may draw disfavor from his god.

Adventure Seed:

The Dourwood is haunted, everybody slain there will raise as a Vampiroid within the next 3 nights if not buried properly. The locals know this and have long adhered to a set of rules that takes care of this (burying the dead under piles of stone, washing the wounds of the dead, removing the heart of the deceased). But now something is upsetting this practice: a foreign army has occupied the country, and has forbidden these practices as heathen. Which would be only mildly stupid, if they did not also kill a large contingent of local soldiers and left them “for the vultures” in the woods. Most locals have carefully locked their doors the last few nights. The PCs are in the middle of this, when suddenly some patrols disappear.

[Traveller] Ghost Ship

Ghost Ship
Belters and spacemen in the system murmur of a ghost ship that sometimes appears in the outer areas of the system. Always hovering there in complete darkness and radio silence, it never answers to calls. And then just fades away. Sometimes it appears in the local belt, on rare occasions it scares the hell out of some ship coming out of jump-space close to the local main world, yet it never comes into the range of the more popular places of the system.
It has been an old legend among the inhabitants of the system, yet every time someone tried to find it they just spend time in the icy hinterlands of the system, only to come home with empty hands (claws/tentacles/etc.). But then there were those which never came back from there at all…

People say it was:
1. an old Vilani battleship, lost here before even the Interstellar War period
2. an old Scoutship trying to find it’s way out of this system
3. a merchant, trying to calculate what system would be most profitable
4. a battleship from the 3rd Frontier war, lost, but never reported destroyed
5. a pirate, cursed to never land by an old Vilani witch
6. An ancient ship, lost in jumpspace for the last 300.000 years

Signs for the appearance of the ship might be:
1. ghost signals on the sensors; the sensors say something is there, but it isn’t
2. a ship, in the distance, slightly glowing and then disappearing again
3. a ship, flying next to the character’s, but it’s gone as soon as they take eyes of it for a second
4. strange, faint radio signals coming in, in some cases nearly understandable
5. strange smells in the noses of the crew, even though nothing can go through vacuum
6. all of the above

It might be in reality:
1. nothing at all, somebody made it up to have a laugh at some foreigners
2. smugglers to go about their business
3. the activities of a local or foreign power, e.g. Zhodani
4. a secret base for a local government agency
5. it’s a ghost. Really! Roll on the above list of rumours again to find out what it is.
6. It’s an alien, but one unlike any seen so far: a being living in space
1. A space whale! Or however else you call a giant floating thing that obviously sails the interstellar space and lives off small planetoids and other scrap floating in space.
2. An energy being from a far off part of the galaxy trying to find it’s way home
3. a vampiric energy being from a far off part of the galaxy, it likes the occasional light snack in form of a sophont ship
4. a Great Old One, just idly watching the locals as a human might look at ants before getting disinterested again. Damn, Lovecraft was so right…
5. A local colony of beings similar to the Fungi from Yuggoth
How to get the characters involved
1. A newscrew hires them to help them investigate the rumours of a ghost ship
2. as 1. but instead of a news crew it’s a well-known local kook tries to make a name for himself by finding said ghost ship
3. as 2. but the kook is a famous author of interstellar fame who hires them to gather material for his new book “Spirits of the Marches. The Unsolved Mysteries of the Spinward Marches” or something along these lines
4. as 3. but the patron wants to hire them to pretend to be the ghost ship. He thinks he can make more money if there are some carefully prepared clues that the ghost ship actually exists
5. The characters stumble into it themselves, jumping into system far off from the normal jump points, and there is something there already, something that moves…
6. The characters jump into the system and end up in the middle of the ghost hunt of 1. – 4.
What I did not realize until after I sent this to the TML was that there had been an article in Challenge Magazine 44 about something similar. After finding it it turned out that some of the ideas I had were not really as original as I thought, but at least it works as an instant adventure generator.

[Traveller] New Bermuda

The characters are approached by local officials of Bad Habit (C877644-6), a backwater with only a few ten million inhabitants, no great resources to speak and only some small industry. The word ‘backwater’ was made for this world. It has a few small cities all over the world and one larger centre close to the starport.

All in all not much is happening on this world besides people moving in and people moving away to get rich somewhere else. Baran Doherty is a local politician, and he came up with a wonderful new idea: Let’s attract some tourism! Why not pretend to have something mysterious on the world so more people will come to the planet and bring money in while trying to investigate something completely fictious. What real harm can it do, after all? Think Bermuda Triangle or Nessie on good old Earth. Think of the money it might bring in!

The locale of choice is on one of the smaller, barely explored continents, a hellishly boring place covered by swamp and jungle. Why not pretend to have something interesting there for a change? As nobody ever found anything of worth there anyway and nobody will mind a few offworlders hunting spectres there.

The characters are hired to do something with this idea, and with ‘do something’ they mean make some nice mysterious things happen.

Where to go from here?
1. Everything is as presented, one might run into troubles with local authorities though, not everybody is convinced about the idea, not everybody has been told about it.
2. Like 1., but someone decided it was a good idea to make a documentary for local TV out of the whole process
3. Like 2. but instead of a documentary it’s a reality TV series
4. Like 3. but some of the participants of the series might actually start to vanish to make the series more interesting
5. there is something genuinely alien/ancient in the jungle and the characters run afoul of an undetected old defence mechanism
6. Like 6., but the mechanism is actually a whole alien civilization living in the swamps

[Traveller] Diplomatic Heavyweights

Diplomatic Heavyweights
This assumes the characters have their own spaceship: When visiting a planet (maybe an ocean world) the local authorities approach the characters and ask for a small favor: there is a team of diplomats from this world who have to be transported to one of the neighbouring star-systems for some urgent crisis management. And they need to be there by yesterday. An quick start is necessary and within hours the characters should be on the way out of system, even though the jumpwill, of course, take at least a week. But the characters are getting paid handsomly for this little transport.

Possible directions for the adventure:
1. The diplomatic team is really just a diplomatic team which is sent to one of the neighbouring systems to take care of some minor fracas with sensitive tradegoods. Everybody’s happy and the characters get invited for a drink afterwards. It might even seem the only reason to get there at all was to have a few nice parties with the colleagues from the next system.

2. As 1. but it is a rather major fracas: the sensitive tradegoods were biological/nuclear exports that spilled and created a small scale catastrophy in the other starsystem. A lot of damage management is needed, promises of support and reparations have to be made.

3. As 2. but the major fracas in the meantime developed into something barely short of a war. Only imperial policy keeps the planet from launching their own fleet against it’s neighbour. The characters and their passengers are highly unwelcome.

4. As 3. But the other system. imperial policy be damned, already sent a small attack fleet to system A as a response to what the 24h newschannels now call a “terrorist attack” on the natural biosphere of the planet.

5. The diplomats are not the most usual of diplomats, highly specialised they nevertheless are a bit unusual, maybe some tentacled beings (Githiasko) or a small school of dolphins in their tanks…

6 … or a whole uplifted whale! With a bad sense of humour too: he finds wet bipeds hilarious! And that diplomatic business? Ah, that’s just killing him.