This is a beginning level adventure for players and referees to familiarize themselves with the EXP roleplaying system. The players will be required to make personas as described in Section I: Persona Creation, and the referee will be required to set into motion the events of the adventure. The referee will be called already generated in Appendix D: Pre Rolled Personas, as well as run combat, and crisis situations. Finally she will be required to issue experience points to her players.
Any referee who is experienced or bold enough to modify this adventure is encouraged to do so. Quite often the players will attempt something not outlined in the course of the adventure, which means the referee must throw away all of her notes and make it up as she goes. In fact, I did exactly the same thing during the play-testing of this scenario when my players insisted on stealing one of the hoverboats and getting lost in Big Lake. So, my advice to the referees is to be prepared to have to abandon the events outlined here, and know the motivations of all of the referee personas so you can portray them consistently if the crafted story runs amok.
Planet Rillieb’glaike is the fourth planet in System 91L42. 91L42 is an Imperial “Fringe” system, meaning that it lies on the edge of explored Imperial Space. Planet Rillieb’glaike is considered to be the tourist “hot spot” by most people in this sector of space. “Rillieb’glaike”, when translated into Universal from the Rodent tongue, means “Really Big Lake.” An Imperial Scout Vessel discovered Rillieb’glaike one hundred and seventy three years ago, and the Rodent Captain named it after the big lake located near the equator which is fed by glacial waters from the planets only mountain range. The waters run over a cliff at the northwestern edge of the lake. The escarpment is thirteen kilometres high. Here the waters are divided into the thousands of streams which feed Rillieb’glaike’s jungles and forests. The lake, the mountains and the cliff are referred to respectively as; Big Lake, Big Mountains, and Big Cliff.
The Lost Cultures of Rillieb’glaike
Centuries before the Empire expanded into the Fringe systems to accommodate their ever expanding population, there were many alien races out there in the great void. One of these races originated on Rillieb’glaike. Before they all died off; they had established a small not so advanced civilization there, and have left behind innumerable ruins. They seemed to have died off due to an alteration in the planets orbit around five thousand years ago—not very long before the planet was discovered and turned into a resort world. The civilization seemed to have reached a technology level of 5 or early 6. Eventually, their planet was pulled closer to the star 91L42, and the ice in the Big Mountains melted, flooding out their civilization and changing their ecology enough to kill them all off. [ed. note predates global warming stories by 2 decades]
Imperial anthropologists that have studied the lost culture and what they have left behind. Statues show they were a bipedal canine species, probably related to any number of canine species in the known galaxy at present. Their society was very similar to Roman society. They had arenas where contestants would be pitted against wild animals and against each other, as well as a studied approach to art and the figure.
In fact, almost everything that will ever be found out about them has already been found out, which is why the college course that the personas have signed up for is a beginning level anthropology course. Imperial Anthropologists have named the anthro type Homo Precanis Upsilon Caste 0014296/C. This relates them, genetically to back to a canine species believed to have seeded part of the Fringes about 800 centuries ago.
The Dig Site
The location of the site that the personas are to excavate for their class is indeed a unique one. When the planet moved closer to its star thousands of years ago, most of the villages on the planet were flooded and destroyed by melting glaciers from the Big Mountains. This dig site is an excellent example of a submerged village. One of the true benefits of these submerged sites is that they have not been exposed to the water long enough to erode, which has given the archaeologists an excellent opportunity to study the process of erosion itself.
The referee should thoroughly prepare herself for this adventure by making sure he has a fair understanding of the effects of being underwater in Chapter 19.
The site is 22 metres under water, or 11 hexes, and consists of a few dozen households, mostly in ruin, a religious temple, several dozen statues, depicting Gods and Goddesses, and a small Arena, which is the primary object of excavation for the characters. During the first dive, the characters will be basically vacuuming large quantities of sediment out of the Arena, which is a pit dug into the ground with stone seats rising in tiers from its floor. The vacuum is a large hose which runs up to a ship on the surface. Mechanic personas will be able to learn about the course material, and industrial vacuums. Anthropologists will obviously be kept busy doing their thing. Knites may find the religion aspects interesting, and Mercs will always enjoy digging through the muck to find weapons and dead guys.
During the second (secret) dive, the characters should fmd the entrance to the arenas ante-chamber which is where the Boat Killer has laid its eggs. This area should NOT be found before the second dive, even if they are looking for it. The simple fact is that not enough of the muck has been sucked away to reveal the opening yet.
Planet Rillieb’glaike Power Company
Once Rillieb’glaike was absorbed by the Imperium, an enormous dam was built with turbines running the full length of Big Cliffs thirteen kilometre drop. “The Big Dam” as it is called is eight kilometres long and completely dams the mouth of Big Lake. Rillieb’glaike Power Company built and owns The Big Dam. They have done spectacularly well and manage to increase the efficiency of their equipment to continue to supply power to all of Rillieb’glaike and export power cells off planet. The population of Rillieb’glaike has quintupled since the colony was established.
Forty years ago the power demands for Planet Rillieb’glaike exceeded the amount of power that theRillieb’glaike Power Company was able to provide with its dam. Fortunately someone had an idea. The power company hired a genetic engineering firm to develop a creature which could drain the life force from living beings and turn it directly into electrical energy. They succeeded. For purposes of the adventure, the creature is a Boat Killer with two additional mutations: Life Leech and Electricity Producing Organ. Even these mutations are modified such that the HPS the alien drains from its targets generate billions of joules of electrical power. The exact game mechanics of this special combination are black-boxed. It is, for example unfair to allow the creature to discharge enough electricity to power a planet for a week in a single shock attack. Perhaps the power company has some special technological device for extracting the power. Hopefully your players will not try too hard to find out, or else you will have to be an fast-talker indeed.
At any rate, this creature swims about in Big Lake, and about once a week it drains the life force from some hapless tourist, which provides the energy which the power company needs. The tourist is invariably written off by investigators as “drown” or “missing and presumed drown”.
Now, losing only one or two tourists a month this way is acceptable at any massive resort. The problem is that over the last six weeks the number of deaths of this type has increased into the dozens. The power company does not know what is going on, the resort staff do not know what is going on, no one does. The problem is that if the power company is found to have been murdering people to increase their earnings, the Empire will come down hard. They must cover up their alien at all costs except one: they cannot kill it. That would put them out of business. Basically, the power company has decided to wait it out. Rationalizing that maybe this is part of the alien’s life cycle that will only continue for a couple of months.
Boat Killer Armada
The fact of the matter is that the creature has lain eggs. The eggs are near the point of hatching, and the way the mother feeds them is by charging them with the same electricity it gives to the power plant. The eggs use hundreds of times the energy that the planet does. The personas have come to Rillieb’glaike for an archeology course. It is a mid-semester course that not only gives them an arts credit, but lets them go to the best resort in this sector of space to do their studying. Good all around. Good except for the fact that people turning up dead.
The referee persona Horace Punko is fundamental to this adventure. He is the comic relief and the ironic hero. It is his job to continually annoy the hell out of the players with his cameras, his cigars and his loud mouth (not to mention loud shirts). Horace Punko is to the vacationing tourist what an AntiKnite is to a Knite. Horace Punko will complain to the highest possible authority anytime something isn’t completely satisfactory to him. He should always be present to annoy the players and it is crucial that the referee make him annoying. The other important thing about Horace Punko is that he is, for theatrical reasons, completely indestructible. Any personas who wish to shoot at him will have to deal with their aim being disrupted by camera flashes and cigar smoke in their eyes etc. etc. etc.
If you enjoy playing Horace Punko, he could become a regular referee persona in your ongoing EXP campaign, tripping up the players anywhere they go, defying all probability by showing up in the most out of the way places, never giving them a moment’s grace. If you don’t like Horace Punko, you may freely allow the players to lynch him, his family, dog, friends, neighbours and everyone he ever knew. This could also become a campaign in itself. It is, however, imperative that Horace Punko be present through this entire adventure. If you let him die, then he won’t be there to save the players at the end.
The player personas all know each other through the college course that they have signed up for. They know what they will be doing and day zero is the connecting day. The explanation of how these diverse personas come to be an expedition together. Have a meet and greet between the personas.
The personas arrive at Big Lake Resort Space Port and meet with Doctor Fange Zervensays, the Archeology 142 Professor. The characters board a transport boat and cross Big Lake, to Big Lake Resort. The “Meet the Guests” brunch is cancelled while the accident is sorted out. Zervensays holds her first on-shore class, with a lesson on the use of the diving equipment, and how to excavate while underwater. Later that evening a rowboat with four fishers drifts ashore, and all are dead. See Scenario: Boat Disaster.
First underwater classes. Students in the Arena are attacked by the alien. Once the incident is reported, Power Company Officials call for an investigation. The investigation calls for Zervensays and all of her students to be quarantined for medical reasons until they can be examined by Doctor Wrenchwilli. See Scenario: First Dive.
The Power company has quarantined all classrooms, and has revoked all diving privileges. Boating is unrestricted, and the investigation has determined that it is “safe”. Zervensays holds a secret meeting with her students, and asks for volunteers to go back under and see what exactly is going on. Attack guards at the docks, and steal diving gear. See Senario: Second Dive
Zervensays asks her students to keep an eye on Doctor Wrenchwilli while she examines the egg. A tour bus headed to The Dam is found half submerged in Big Lake, all 20 passengers are dead. Wrenchwilli leaves the scene and heads toward the Power Company, seemingly very upset, and knowing something that no one else does.
See Scenario: Kidnapped.
Captives of the Power Company, Gilgamesh Vene explains their evil plans. (see “Gilgamesh Vene’s Big Speech”). Just as they are about to be killed, they are rescued. See Scenario: The Final Battle.
The Empire has been called in by the Planetary Government to set up a standard series of Fusion Reactors to power the planet. The Dam will be repaired and its functions will be able to provide nearly half of the power that the planet requires.
Scenarios are little stories where the referee conveys a challenge to players that allows them to build the stories around their personas and allows the referee to deepen the milieu and story.
The Boat Disaster
The personas have landed at the spaceport on Planet Rillieb’glaike, and are loading onto the boats that are to take them across Big Lake. Many boats go before, but the expedition of personas, Fange Zervensays, and Horace Punko all end up on the last boat. Each of the two boats to leave last has 20 people and 5 crew. The crew of the boat the personas are on consists of Viry Shortale, and Shawna Cassety, plus three others. Make up the remaining compliment with generic Joe and Jane Civil’s. These boats are very exciting, and travel at hundreds of kilometres an hour, skimming across the water toward the resort on a cushion of air.
Approximately half way across the lake, the personas notice the passengers on the deck of the boat beside theirs all collapse onto the deck. The boat drifts out of control and broadsides the boat that the personas are on—ruining the magnetic gangplank and tractor beam controls.
Shawna Cassety tells the players that if they don’t get across to the other boat and program it to stop safely it will crash into the resort, killing many innocent tourists. They must leap across to the other boat and activate its gangplank so that she can cross to it and program it to safely dock. The gangplank, however, is a complicated mechanism, and requires all of the personas plus two people to operate it. The other two to volunteer are Horace Punko, and Viry Shortale. Shawna will try her best to keep the players’ boat within two meters of the other boat, but because of the high winds between the ships (which are blocked by forcefields when you are on deck), the jump will be extraodinarily difficult.
To leap safely from one boat to the other will require a 1d50 DEX attribute roll. Failure results in the jumper clinging by one hand to the rail of one of either of the two boats (50% chance target boat). Any persona who attempts to fly across will realize that the wind is far to strong and that flight is impossible. They must jump.
To pull a person onto the deck who is hanging will require a 1d30 PSTR attribute roll. Failure means that the helper is now hanging from the side as well. If two personas attempt to pull one person up they must each make a 1d12 PSTR attribute roll.
A person can also pull himself onto the boat using a 1d50 PSTR attribute roll, and a 1d50 DEX attribute roll. Failure means she will continue to hang there, not fall into the Big Lake.
This is a very difficult series of attribute challenges that will help the personas understand their attributes. It can be a lot of fun if played properly. Remember that Horace Punko is INFINITELY more interested in getting exciting action photos of people dangling from the sides that he is in helping them up.
It is also possible that one of your personas could have a toy or mutation that will make this section of the adventure really boring. Someone who rolled a super strong flying rescue bot as a TOY could easily ruin this by ordering it to escort the necessary individuals across to the other boat. As the refyou must find a way to make this interesting. For example: the radio-frequency emissions of the boats force field could interfere with the rescue bot’s programming causing him to develop an insane fear of flying. The players may choose to attempt to “trick” the bot into saving them instead of risking their lives. This should be just as challenging for them.
This part of the adventure is designed to help both the players and the referee familiarize themselves with their personas and referee personas, as well as with some of the rules. It is not designed to be dangerous. If a player fails a roll particularly badly, do not drop him in the lake, simply make the entire situation more extreme. This part of the adventure is designed so that no one gets killed their first time out.
The personas have all suited up in their underwater gear and are about to take the plunge into the dig site. About half an hour into the class, they are suddenly attacked by the Boat Killer. Fange Zervensays will attempt to lead the personas safely back to the boat. The boat killer is a very dangerous monster, but its primary motives here are not to kill the personas, but rather, to scare them away from her eggs. The personas will not find the eggs on this dive. That part of the site has not been excavated yet.
If the monster sustains dangerous amounts of damage in the fight, it will flee, knowing that its eggs have not actually been uncovered yet. Similarly, it will “let” the players escape rather than kill them all. After all, it doesn’t want a search party to come looking for them.
In order to limit the amount of ammunition expenditure in this fight, the ref should keep in mind that not all weapons work underwater. There are detailed rules for the effects of atmospheric conditions on weapons in Chapter 19. The ref should do everything in his power to keep the Alien from being killed here. If, by some fluke, it should be, then that is the way it goes. Remember, though, tHe alien does not wish to fight to the death, only to scare the players away.
It may be wise to make the ruling that a disintegration pistol does not work under water (or that it disintegrates the water right in front of the barrel), if one of the personas has rolled one. Similarly, you may wish to say that a persona with Time Stop is unable to move underwater because all of the water molecules are frozen in place, or to say that the player starts losing Hit Points from Life Leech when he tries to get to close to the temporally frozen alien and slit its throat. Suggest maybe he should use his head start to get back to the boat, and maybe drag a wounded persona with him.
Although the personas and Zervensays have been quarantined, Zervensays is determined to find out everything she can about this creature and what it is. She calls the player personas to her bungalow where she asks for volunteers to return to the dive site and see what happens. She is in the position to offer an automatic A+ in the course to anyone who undertakes this extra assignment.
The plan is to go to the diving shed and knock out the two Power Company guards. Then they will steal the scuba equipment and a boat and head out to the excavation site. Also available in the shed are several (as many as needed) XLP laser pistols in the blue-green spectrum, designed specifically for underwater use.
The two guards at the diving shed are RPs #07. They should be easily ambushed, and knocked out. This should be run as an ordinary combat. Of course, there is nothing stopping the players from using excessive force here—there may be a mercenary (read physed major) in the party. If there are spies or mechanics, you may wish to put locks or security systems on the doors to the shed. If there is a nomad, perhaps one of the security guards could run off in the jungle with the keys. Make it more than just a shootout.
Once the personas get out to the dig site and are in the water, they will eventually find the aliens nest. There are dozens of eggs here and Zervensays wants one of them brought back for study. Once the players are on their way with the egg, the monster will attack them once again. This time it will try to kill them. Zervensays will encourage the characters not to try to kill it, so that it can be studied, but this may be impossible. If the players do kill it, you could always inform them that one of the eggs they left behind has just hatched releasing a new monster.
When the personas report for their class the next day, Zervensays is gone. If they go to her bungalow the will find the opened egg, the dissected alien, and pages of notes which explain that the alien drains peoples life forces and turns the energy into raw electricity. A biologist persona may wish to spend a little while examining these notes and learning more in depth about the aliens physiology. At any rate, the players conclude that Zervensays has been kidnapped by the power company and they have to go and rescue her.
They travel to the dam, where they are ambushed by security and fired on with a whale stunner (artillery # 25). Any of them who remain conscious through that will be subdued by a seemingly endless stream of security forces. The fight should continue until all of the players are stunned or unconscious. The ref should feel free to crack out any non-lethal weapon she wishes in order to subdue the personas including tear gas, stun weapons, and security guards with Sensory Deprivation (mutation # 52 ). The fight is designed so that the personas will be captured and the adventure will flow into the next part.
The Big Speech
Gilgamesh Vene (RP#14) is the owner/operator of the Power Company. She is totally crazy. She is the classic egomaniacal villain, and after capturing the players along with Wrenchwilli and Zervensays, she must reveal the entire evil plan before she kills them. The personas are all handcuffed to chairs in a flood bay within the dam. Vene plans to fill the room with water after she explains everything. The players are still armed, but they are completely bound.
The enterprising ref may wish to make up his own speech to better suit what has happened in his campaign. The flambouyant ref may wish to bellow out the memorized speech while standing on a chair, and the conservative ref may wish to simply explain the fact of the speech. Here it is, do with it what you will:
“Fools. Fools. Fools—ignorant fools!! Did you really think that you could thwart the plans of the Rillieb’glaike Power Company? Ha! We are not just a ‘power’ company—we are a Powerful company!! What? What is that you ask? You ask What is so powerful about electricity? Well…. I’ll tell you! Every being in this sector takes their vacation here. When you go on vacation, what do you bring with you? Bathing suits? No! Deodorant? No! You bring hair dryers. You bring curling irons. You bring electric toothbrushes. You bring little toys that go whiz and click!!! But do you bring ELECTRICITY??? NO!!! And that, that is where our power lies!”
Mood shifts to slightly apologetic.
“Yes, we do questionable things here. Yes, we have a nasssty alien beasssty that eats tourists and turns their life force into electricity. But it’s all part of the excitement! Don’t you see?? Isn’t this exciting? Oh… my… Friends… this is not the FULL scope of my plan.”
Crescendo of volume and insanity.
“First, I take this planet. Next, this sector. And soon, the Empire itself will crumble in my wake. hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.”
“But now…now that you…know…my eeevil plans, I am afraid that I cannot simply let you go. Yes, I am afraid that you are going to have to die now. …good…day. As an aside I used to give this speech after I killed the spies. This is a much more fun way to do. Muhahahahah”
There it is. Immediately after the speech, the personas, who are guarded by thirty security guards and Gilgamesh Vene will hear a bellow from above, as Horace Punko slips from the rafters while trying to get a good angle to take pictures of the characters as they die. He will fall straight down on Gilgamesh Vene, knocking a small device from the glove of her powered armour, which, when it hits the floor, deactivated the handcuffs that the players are bound by. Vene and the Guards are all so stunned that the players will have time to pick up their weapons and prepare for combat before they even get a shot off.
The Final Battle
There are 30 security guards here, (RP #07). They will all fight to the submission or death. If the players appear to be in deep trouble, you may wish to give the bad guys penalties to hit due to blinding camera flashes from Horace Punko. The bad guys will not take any cover, but will allow the personas to take any cover they wish. Remember—these guys are stupid. If the personas still seem to be in great a danger of dying Shawna Cassety or Viry Shortale may suddenly show up as back up. It would be very cinematically inappropriate for the personas to all be slain in this battle. This is not to say that you should let them win, but maybe you should weigh things in their favour. They are the heroes, and besides, everyone is still learning the rules. Have fun with it.