The Plague Star – Rumors

There are ten Rumors. Seven are true, three are false.

  • The Temporal Null Chamber is a devious trap that will break down all organic matter inside to be deposited in the Protein Bank.
  • The password to defeat the AI intelligence is ‘mushroom’.
  • Bring both the Silver and Golden Theta amulets together to master the secrets of the Promethean Vault.
  • The deadly Rollerram dislikes smoke.
  • The password to defeat the AI intelligence is ‘oldearth’.
  • A Soul-Feed telepath, armed with a silver Mind-Blade, ventured into the tunnels of the White Worm and was never heard from again.
  • The atmosphere of the starship is infested with 1,000 deadly plagues from 1,000 alien worlds.
  • The Sandkings will worship a more powerful intelligence as a god, revealing secret treasures to their master.
  • The Protein Re-Sequencer has the power to cure horrible afflictions.
  • A plasma-fired double blade chainsaw is kept under lock and key within the Glassteel Armory.

The Plague Star – Threats

Whenever I write up an Edge of the Empire adventure, I always like to have a list of twists (Threat, Advantage, Triumph, Despair) at the ready to both keep me on message and as a go-to in case I run low on creativity in the heat of the moment. Here they are!

THREAT / DESPAIR LIST

  1. Summon a monster – cloaker, cobal-cat, Scorpion-Lizard, Hruun Giant, Dactaloid Abductor, Frost Vampire, star vampire, Rot Grubs, jamison spider, breth hounds, subterranean fire worm
  2. Brown Mold – feeds on heat
  3. Yellow Mold – large spore area, feeds on psionics
  4. Russet Mold – mind control, vegepygmy
  5. Tear in a spacesuit – Expose PCs to a deadly bacterial/viral/fungal infection
  6. Release deadly spores
  7. Hull Breach! The character nearest to the rupture must succeed on an Average (dd) Resilience check or have their body and all their possessions sucked through an inch-wide hole. Characters failing this check are killed instantly with their equipment and bodily remains ejected into the void.
  8. A sudden explosive delivers a Critical Hit to you or a nearby ally.
  9. Emergency bulkhead smashes down, sealing off a passage.
  10. Engage auto-defenses
  11. Psionic lure
  12. Cans of explosive gas
  13. Vorpal trap
  14. Fire, it spreads
  15. Turn off gravity / enhance gravity
  16. Crystals that amplify / split laser beams
  17. Hungry/thirsty, angry, afraid, exhausted
  18. Enemies are alerted to your presence, granting a b to their Initiative checks and imposing b to your skill checks involving discretion and subterfuge.
  19. The door out of this room becomes electrified.
  20. Hope is lost. Make a Fear check.

 

GENERIC TRIUMPH & ADVANTAGE

  1. Reveal a new Rumor.
  2. Verify the truth or falsity of a rumor.
  3. Reveal a cache of medical supplies.
  4. Reveal stowed away hand-held weapons or explosives.
  5. A nearby trap or hazard is delayed or disabled.
  6. A secret compartment is found bearing a reward
  7. A subtle hint to a puzzle or secret is revealed.
  8. A sudden explosive delivers a Critical Hit to a nearby foe.
  9. You find a temporarily blind spot in the ship’s sensors and can take a moment to recover Strain without danger.

The Plague Star – Disease

The Last major theme that I hadn’t addressed in the Pregen Character sheets was disease. Throughout the adventure, infections of all types worked their way into the characters via interaction with gross, slimy, weird stuff and a multitude of polluted breathing environments. I wanted to give this element more narrative weight, though, and decided that I needed to develop additional mechanics to make this really stick. Hence, I developed disease cards. These were given out during specific failures, and ala cart with Threat. Diseases were also “advanced” with an additional card of the same type on a minor amount of Threat. A few players in my games begged their companions at the end – please kill me.

The disease cards come in four types, the variety there to keep things interesting. Each type has different effects, but all of the same general mechanics effect: add Setback, remove Boost, downgrade skills, upgrade difficulty. All disease also either reduce Soak, spread, or deal Wounds; further emphasizing the high lethality I was aiming for.

Galaxy of Terror - Disease Cards_Page_1

 


The Plague Star – PreGen Characters

The Plague Star uses Edge of the Empire rules, and has strong themes of disease, horrific beasts, telepathy, and genetic manipulation. It also takes place in a fictional universe which way too many people are unfamiliar with.

Here are the PreGen character sheets used for The Plague Star. I started by taking the basic build of every Class/Career combination from Edge of the Empire, except Force-Sensitive Exile, and tooling around with the rules a bit to get the desired outcome. I wanted to make things simple and and a bit of a blank slate for players to build on. To do so, I didn’t mess around with XP builds, but rather assigned some starting Characteristics, and then added a rank in each skill that a Career or Class granted access to. To further reinforce the “blank slate” idea, I put in a little empty avatar symbol for players to doodle their portraits on.

I then threw on some bonuses from my Starting Homes, supplemented with a brief description of a populated world in the 1,000 Worlds universe, a different world for each character. To further reinforce the importance (in my mind) of these worlds and their descriptions, I added a mechanic to encourage players to utilize their homeworld’s feel with an upgraded skill check for doing theme-appropriate actions.

I wanted to streamline things a bit, too, so you’ll notice that some weapons have properties like Pierce removed and simply added +1 to their damage. I wanted these to be able to be picked up by someone who had never played in the system and have them start playing immediately with almost no explanations needed.

Next, I handed out Force Powers to all characters to play off of the theme of telepathy and psionics. Again, to streamline, instead of requiring Force Die rolls, I just made everything chew up Strain.

Lastly, I wanted this adventure to have a massive death toll, and so created a completely new way of determining Wound and Strain thresholds, with a result well below the usual limits. Here, they are the sum of (Brawn x2, Agility, Presence) for Wounds and (Willpower x2, Intellect, Cunning) for Strain. It’s not realistic, I know. I don’t care.


The Plague Star – Overview

So for awhile now, almost a year, I’ve been toying with the idea of releasing another dungeon crawl in the FFG Star Wars system. During this time I’ve been obsessed with the earlier weird sci-fi works of George RR Martin (yes, that one) and his 1,000 Worlds universe. I ran a pretty fun and successful full campaign this past summer, and then prepped to showcase a trophy adventure at some gaming conventions in both October and just last week. The campaign has been discussed a bit on this blog before, and I’m now finally at a point where I can share some of the adventure.

ASF_0654The overall plot of The Plague Star (the adventure) is pretty close to the plot of The Plague Star (the short story). The universe is recovering from an intergalactic dark age, the Interregnum, and resumption of spaceflight is finally coming back after many generations following the collapse of a grand galactic human Empire. Earth’s enemies, alien species known as the Fyndii and the Hrangans, have been badly beaten and wiped off of most worlds. The incredible power and technology of the height of the old earth empire is still lingering about, however, ready for intrepid explorers to risk their lives seizing it. In The Plague Star, one such group of mercenaries finds a 1,000-year-old Earth Ecological Core seedship drifting through a star system under minimal power, derelict and ripe for the taking. Control of the seedship comes with it the full might and technology of the Earth Ecological Core and the ability to remake the ecology of an entire planet through genetic engineering and a cellular database of the most hideous monsters and diseases of the entire galaxy. The invading crew soon find out that the seedship is controlled by a homicidal telepathic AI supercomputer and must find a way to shut it down. It’s a weird dungeon crawl set in space, filled with disease and horror.

Sounds pretty awesome, right? Unfortunately, it’s stuck. My dream was to be able to publish this for full public consumption, something to be really proud of, but I think with the IP issues involved, I just can’t make it a for-sale item while still retaining my vision. So, for the rest of this month I’ll be dissecting the notes I have and making them at least usable, posted here. If you feel it’s worthwhile and exciting, please go over to Defy Danger , the Defy Danger Blog , and our DriveThruRpg Products and give some support to where most of my creative energies have been going the last year or so.


Scifi Dungeon Crawling

Just a quick post and update. I’m working on a polished adventure based on my 1,000 Worlds material for Edge of the Empire. My plan is, however, to also release it under a conversion to another popular science-fiction based roleplaying game that is capable of supporting some dungeon crawling type environments.

Readers – what are your favorite scifi RPGs? What makes them particularly suitable for for this genre?


Thousand Worlds – Star Map

A core part of the Thousand Worlds campaign is the Star Map. It is an exercise in deductive reasoning and delayed gratification. It is a puzzle intended to be solved over many sessions as the players strike out into the black and explore your universe. In this setting, the galaxy is in a dark age where interstellar travel is all but lost to a handful of people.

In this campaign-long puzzle, the players explore a sector of the galaxy, divided into four quadrants, in an effort to find all 33 inhabited star systems out of the vast expanse of 498 available star system. 

Inhabited Worlds of the Man-Realm Sector (0,0 -500,500)

  • Old Earth
  • Newholme
  • Baldur
  • Thor
  • Provinaa
  • Wellington
  • Avalon
  • Croan-Dhenni
  • New Pittsburgh
  • Arion

Inhabited Worlds of the Fyndii Sector (500,0 – 1000,500)

  • Greywater
  • Worlorn
  • Jamison’s World
  • Vendalia
  • Slagg
  • Rhiannon
  • Thisrock
  • Darkdawn

Inhabited Worlds of the Damoosh Sector (0,500 – 500,1000)

  • Shkeen
  • Lost Colony: House of the Worm
  • Lost Colony: Planetos
  • Bitterblooms
  • Shrakky
  • Norn
  • Suthleim

Inhabited Worlds of the Hrangan Sector (500,500 – 1000,1000)

  • Old Hranga
  • Kimdiss
  • High Kavalaan
  • Prometheus
  • Bastion
  • Corlos
  • Aath
  • Tober In The Veil

The campaign begins with a large starmap, such as shown below. The Game Master is to print out a large size version of this starmap, at least 24” on each side, and color in the stars based on the exhaustive lists provided below.

1kW - Campaign Map

Behind the scenes, the Game Master populates this galactic sector with a scattering of inhabited planets. The players are to strike out into the galaxy, using clues accumulated through play (called ‘Galactic Location Cards’) to help deduce where the safe, inhabited worlds are located. Except for rare exception, each inhabited planet has two Galactic Location Cards that may be found in the campaign which hint at its location. There are also a series of Galactic Location Cards randomly shuffled in which eliminate potential star clusters as completely uninhabited. In this way, industrious players have two parallel avenues of deduction in finding their goal: direct Galactic Location Cards pointing to the correct answers, and indirect Galactic Location Cards excluding the incorrect answers. Puzzles are always harder to solve at the game table than the designer thinks, so it’s a good idea to have multiple avenues of investigation to prevent the game from stalling.

Visiting an uninhabited world always results in a dangerous, random encounter. Players are expected to use pure deductive reasoning in their efforts to suss out the locations of inhabited worlds. Skill checks and other game mechanics can be used to garner more Galactic Location Cards, but they should not be able to add any additional information on their own.

The design of the Galactic Location Cards is the meat of this mystery. Not only must the Galactic Locations Cards provide enough hints to get the players and story where you need them, but they must do so in a fun, creative, and varied way.

All Galactic Location Cards have been provided in the text at the very end of this post. Click on the full blog post to see the extensive listings of Galactic Location Cards, star clusters, stars within them, solar color, and where the inhabited worlds lie in wait.

Be open-handed with handing out these Galactic Locations. The players need a steady stream of new information to make meaningful choices and deduce where their next destination lies. The last thing your campaign needs is a boring, plodding session of trial and error. Exploring the galaxy should feel like a thrilling adventure in and of itself.

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