This is a spaceship (a dungeon) for Archon's hack Orbiters Local 519, a game of derelictcrawling, salvage and insurance fraud. I've also included some optional alien PC races from a planetary romance setting I used in my pre-GLOG days. Purple text is read-aloud narration.
The System is, obviously, a solar system. It's made up of dozens of life-bearing planets, with almost as many intelligent species, orbiting a subgiant star named, unimaginatively, "the Sun". The System's civilizations have been spacefaring for a few centuries, but tech level is still sub Star Wars — it's a bit like the Honor Harrington books, if you've read those. No generic "forcefields", no robots, no AI, no hyperdrives, hacky mechanical artificial-gravity, combat largely centered on torpedo salvos (love a salvo) and railgun broadsides and boarding actions (love a good boarding action). Everything I need for rough and tumble dieselpunk planetary romance.
I read Orbiters Local and said to myself, "G. R. Michael, this is a brilliant little game. Spaceship scavenging. Space hulks. Space. What a great idea. Say, how about you write out some crap for the System setting from all those years ago?", to which I responded, "Yeah, maybe". Seven months later, here we all are.
Avian (Lesser)Slender, feathered, six-limbed humanoids from the gas-dwarf moon of Ava. As the first space-faring race of the System they spread their technology and their values to other civilizations (much to their own regret). Employed as engineers, architects and armorers on every world, station and ship out there. Culturally, Avians follow a rigid caste system which can only be escaped through off-world service.
3' humanoid, 12' of batlike wings.
No movement penalty in microgravity. Free movement in pressurized microgravity (flight).
3' humanoid, extra pair of massive arms
No movement penalty in microgravity. Strength is 16 when forcing things with extra arms. Extra hands count as terrifying size.
Pure (Lesser)Slender, scaled, six-limbed humanoids from the volcanic moon of Purity. Closely related to the Avians, though a little taller, more assertive, and with more toxic stingers and fangs and suchlike. The Pure are often stereotyped as all being pirates, procurers, poisoners, phanatical worshipers of the god of Hell, or some combination thereof. This stereotype is very accurate.
5' humanoid, weird eyes
Remain conscious in hard vacuum. Choose: natural thermal scope OR natural electronics scanner.
Sylvan (Normal)Tall, willowy, catgirl humanoids from the forest planet of Satanazes. Introduced to the System relatively recently by corporate interests trying to abduct the males of their species, the monstrous Woses, for use as some kind of bioweapon (this was a hilariously bad idea). Sylvans considerably outnumber the males; this situation is partially alleviated by large harems and partially alleviated by wandering catgirl sharpshooter mercenaries.
7' humanoid, catgirl
Agility is 3d4+4. +1 reaction rolls (everyone loves catgirls).
Lithian (Normal)Horned, highly-reflective, batlike humanoids from the desert planet of Lith. A nation of gunboat capitalists, ferocious in battle and dominant in commerce. The word for their incandescently pactolian super-terrestrial world means "the larger of the two suns" on both of its inhabited moons (Ava and Purity). Lithians are found in every corner of the System and at every level of the social totem pole, except for the bottom, which is for the people they don't like.
6' humanoid, crown of horns
+1 to Strength, Agility and Perception.
"While docked at fueling station over the gas-giant Eos, your crew hears of a tragic accident: two boats, one of them a massive cargo hauler, have collided in low orbit. They're expected to fall into the clouds below in days, if not hours, and be lost forever. What a shame."
"The privately-owned LUCIDITY IS NOT A POSSIBILITY was carrying material to a construction point in Eos orbit when she was struck. As a cargo hauler, the boat is blimp-shaped, with a small (usually detachable) area for the crew and a cavernous (usually depressurized) area for the stuff. She's newer-model, so the powerplant should still be operational if it has fuel, and the phantom-grav should keep working well past crush-depth. Her manifest isn't particularly detailed but you should expect heaps of steel beams and plenty of construction equipment."
"A smaller boat smacked into her, hard. So hard that you only have automated distress signals; no one from either boat called for help themselves. The second boat blared about a second and a half of factory-default radio-noise before dying. That means it was probably a pirate or a smuggler with jailbroken systems; either way, you have no information on who she was or what she was carrying."
"Reclaiming the main cargo hull with a mothership your size is out of the question. The thing is hundreds of meters across and it's falling into the gravity well of a gas-giant as we speak. Instead, recover as much high-value cargo as possible, and try to salvage the crew-area. Salvaging the crew-area will count as a successful mission."
- Manifest indicates 10 spacers and 2 "guests". Confirm the status of all 12 who were on board at the time of collision.
- Identify the second ship and prep it for salvage.
|scale suggestive, not intended to be accurate.|
That, uh, "map" is for my own reference, and is only semi-readable to others. Let me give you some more information:
"The LUCIDITY IS NOT A POSSIBILITY sits in low, decaying orbit, almost brushing the farthest-reaching fingers of the gas giant's clouds. The crew-area clings to the swollen cargo-area like a beetle on a ball of shit. Her tiny plasma engines are still online and struggling to keep the structure upright; the much larger primary engines, on the cargo-area, are dark and cold.
"The second boat, the one responsible for this collision, looks like an Avian warship. Long, thin, designed for ramming cargo boats like this and disemboweling them. She sticks halfway out from the side of the cargo-area, bent like a hairpin. Looks like someone tried to jam a cigarette into an egg and gave up. Her engines are dead as well.
"There's pretty significant damage to the hull of the cargo area, obviously. Looks like the whole thing warped and buckled from the forces of the impact. Pseudo-gravity is online, and the warship is visibly fighting to tear free by gutting the cargo-area completely. You might have a few hours before the superstructure collapses, or you might have thirty minutes."
You don't need to point them out immediately, but a quick glance at the hauler makes it obvious to the PCs (all veteran spacemen) where points of interest like the conning tower, phantom-acceleration room and power plants are relative to each other.
"There are three plausible entrances to the cargo boat. The conning tower on the crew-area should have an airlock appropriate for your shuttle, and the lights are on so the systems should be functional. The massive loading doors on the bow of the cargo-area probably weigh as much as your shuttle, but there are wickets for easy access to the bay, which you should be able to hack or otherwise breach. Finally, there's a whopping great hole where the warship rammed the cargo-area. Shouldn't be a problem to hop from the shuttle into the Lucidity."
It will, in fact, be a problem to hop from the shuttle into the Lucidity. The pseudo-gravity is leaking; a jump from the transport shuttle over to the hull might turn from a straight line to a ballistic arc just at the end, sending you "down" and, probably, towards the atmosphere of the gas-giant. Uhoh.
The Koss Transport:
She's what the Avian warship collided with in the hull. Bad luck for the Avians; these transports were built in the second Battery War specifically to withstand collisions like that. Koss transports are 50m long and shaped something like a horseshoe crab. Their armor is the second-closest thing to indestructible in the System, and they have a dozen tiny pseudo-gravity systems built into their hulls for the sole purpose of bleeding off impulse (techno-babble for "their interiors don't have artificial gravity but also the crew doesn't splatter when the ship hits something").
The transport can physically blat lighter, twinkier boats out of heaven. She can intercept fire from battleship main-guns without flinching, and run an arbitrarily-dense blockade with up to a dozen (skinny) (tightly-packed) VIPs and a single pilot. Koss transports are the armored limos of space: you wouldn't want to pay for the gas on a roadtrip, and you wouldn't want to have to crack one open with only a conventional warhead.
This transport has four stasis pods, two of them smashed and their occupants killed, two of them on emergency power and their occupants badly injured. The transport's captain is lying prone behind a rifle on the loading ramp, in position to defend her ship and her crew with her life, if she hadn't bled to death in her ruptured suit a few hours ago. She died cold — bad luck. On her body is half of a contract stick. Combined with the other half, found in the Command room up in the crew-area, makes you the legal owner of one more combat mission for the two surviving Koss mercenaries. Worth a credit to the right buyer.
The ship itself is a secondary objective if you can get it out of the cargo-area and to the Mothership for scrapping. The controls have been fried by EM, but you could try and jury-rig them to bash your way out of the hold, or just cut the hull out from beneath the transport.
Primary and Secondary Lifts:
The elevator cars are smashed at the bottom of the shafts. If the pseudo-grav is still on, you'll have to climb with a grappling hook or magnet boots. The two shafts could be cut through fairly easily. If they're cut or collapse on their own (this happened to one group) then the cargo-area will start to rapidly fall into Eos and the crew-area will stabilize its own orbit, making for relatively easy salvage.
The crewmen in this room died very, very hot — good luck. The hold was pressurized, so the warship's impact popped the hydraulic seals at the base of the primary lift, the door into the nav room, and the door into the crew quarters. The six corpses in these rooms show signs of primary blast injury; mottled faces, ruptured chest cavities, and crushed eyeballs. Go all in on the scene. "They're dead, but they don't even look surprised about it". Say things like "the walls are splashed with frozen blood" and "loops of icy intestines are splayed out like spaghetti".
There's a handwritten note left on the big fancy captain's chair, reading
Not my fault.
Can't hail the rest of the crew.
Falling into Eos.
If you're looting my ship sometime in the next two hours, fuck you.
Captain Valerio Adhara
Of the two ultra-premium lifepods (mahogany paneling, leather seats), one is missing. The other can be jettisoned empty, or filled with bulky loot if you'd like. The shuttle can pick it up easily enough.
An examination of the console reveals that the captain deleted his half of the contract with the Koss mercenaries, but forgot to empty his trashbin. It's easily recovered.
Phantom Acceleration Room:
Here's how Lithians make artificial gravity: they start with a few discs-within-discs of ultradense material suspended on a cushion of magnetism, they spin 'em up to incredible speed, mrmflrbhurbabfm, linear momentum to angular momentum, linear moment to angular moment, mmmblafdhbiblf, gravity is not a force, murmblfhf, impulse, curved spacetime, bup bup bup.
This is all well and good unless you're standing in the room with those spinning discs when your boat gets hit by something. The crewmember who was in here has been reduced to something like 13 kilos of carbon dust and 42 kilos of water vapor, assuming he started out at 70 kilos.
Loading Area NPCs:
As soon as anything interesting happens on the boat, Zayman will try sending out from his hardsuit. The shuttle will hear him and notify the PCs by radio. If they're ever face-to-face, Centiplease, as a Psion, will contact the PCs telepathically and try to negotiate a deal to get him and his bodyguard off the ship and onto a neutral space station. It's not unreasonable for some Lithian company-men to want their comings and goings to be kept hush-hush, but Centiplease and Zayman will carelessly reference their warship instead of their cargo-hauler, will unconvincingly claim to be normal crewmen with no idea what happened, and have obviously been in a recent firefight.
If pressed, Zayman will explain a "hypothetical" where "maybe" a group of "freedom fighters/terrorists" attempted to "intercept a Lithian black-ops squad" and were "unpleasantly surprised by the contents of the cargo-hauler" but were ultimately successful in killing the black-ops squad and "throwing their bodies" out of a convenient "airlock". Hypothetically. He can give the PCs dogtags if they think they need physical evidence of the fate of the two guests.
If pressed further, or if the players start seriously discussing a plan to attack the two OOC, Zayman will use his Jump Jets to tackle the nearest PC and burn Simulspace rerolls kill the Hell out of them with his Vibro-Wakizashi. Be up front with the PCs about the risk; he's got Threat Projection, after all. Zayman will sell his life dearly to protect Centiplease, though the two of them are probably toast against more than one or two PCs. A sad end for a legendary pair of space-bandits.
Centiplease's organization has enough money to make their rescue a secondary objective. Turning them in to the authorities for the bounty also counts. Faction play!
NPCs and Monsters
Laser-rats are, technically, a kind of mustelid.
Lasers: 1d4 damage, 1d6 if they didn't fire last turn.
Freezer-burned and somewhat crazy, wearing a bubble-helmet and not enough layers on his body. Miraculously survived the impact despite being exhausted, dehydrated, and space-crazy. Either desperate for rescue or murderously enraged, depending on the reaction roll.
Wrench: hits for 1d4 damage.
Space-Crazed Babble: Every round you can hear his voice, make a Perception check. If you succeed, take 1 point of damage.
Wose Young Juvenile
The males of the Sylvan species are apex predators and obligate fratricides. They look like the reasonable halfway point between tigers and gorillas. They're brawny and ugly, with shredding-claws, crushing-jaws and camouflage stripes. Young juveniles are about the size of a shuttle.
Obligate Fratricide: Must attack organic creatures which are larger than a rabbit AND not a Sylvan. Cannot fail morale checks if doing so would prevent him from attacking a valid target.
Apex: On his turn, makes one bite attack and two claw attacks
Bite: 1d6 damage, healing for the same amount if used on a biological enemy.
Claw: 1d8 damage, ignoring 1 point of armor.
Wearing combat-rated Hardsuits in their company's liverie, and armed to their many needle-like teeth. Koss women are about 12' at eye-level and feel no moral pangs when stomping on childlike enemies.
Monstrous Size: PCs fail strength checks by default. Has 20 strength, if it matters.
Power Armor: Wearing the equivalent of a Hardsuit equipped with Coolant Tanks, Ablative Armor and a Tower Shield. Equipped with a Monstrous Handgun and a random weapon from their list.
Monstrous Handgun: 60' range, 1d6 damage.
K76 Sip-Northover Incendiary Problems Projector: a rapid-fire incendiary limpet launcher, designed for area-denial and ambuscades. 1d6 damage in 10' radius, pierces Thin walls when set off. Rounds stick to metal and can be detonated later. 100' range. Targets caught in the blast are set on fire, taking 1d4 damage a round until they take an action putting themselves out. Can be fired twice in a combat turn generating the Heat of two attacks.
K205 Cryptogenic Ski-Troop Enabler: a backblast cryo-fluid launcher, designed to give the user high-speed movement over level ground and small enemies. 1d8 damage in a 60' line, piercing no walls, generating no Heat. When firing the weapon everything within a semicircle behind you is tossed 30' away. If you lack 30' of rear clearance, you are tossed forward.
LSW-500 Woman-Portable Beam (Variable Lens): an internal-spooling incendiary beam emitter. 1d6 damage at 100', 1d8 if you didn't attack last turn, piercing no walls. Sets targets on fire. Internal mechanisms can change the beam type (the Ammo), given 1 Heat and an exploration turn.
[unnamed, poorly advised hunter-killer drone project]: a light flak drone hive. Deals 1d4 damage to anyone within 60' (goes around corners), piercing no walls. Max damage to flying enemies and objects.
K202 BLASH: a bombardment explosive rocket pod, for safely obliterating your enemies in a mixed-cover mixed-allegiance and target-rich environment. 2d4 damage in a 20' radius at 200', piercing Thick walls. Damage is divvied out to targets in the blast radius as you please. Can deal maximum damage in one attack, though its ammunition is expended for the rest of the mission
An Avian scholar. The smallest caste, both physically and in raw numbers, but the top of the heap regardless. Their feathered wings are five meters from tip to tip. Their bones are too heavy for true flight, but they can hurt you terrible by flapping.
HD: 3 (1/11 HP when you encounter him)
Psion A–B: knows Lesser Telekinesis, Send/Receive and Remote Viewing.
Scholarly Swordsman: may make two attacks per turn with his bitching space katanas
Bitching Space Katanas: 1d6 damage, ignoring a point of armor.
A Pure. Grizzled, dangerous, wearing a hardsuit he's been tinkering with for 20 years. Probably rather gruff unless there's another old coot in a hardsuit or another mercenary with a simulspace addiction.
HD: 3 (6/11 HP when you encounter him)
Powered Armor: Wearing the equivalent of a Hardsuit equipped with Jump Jets, Passive Radiators and Ablative Armor.
Mercenary A–B: knows Microgravity Agility 1, Threat Projection 1, Simulspace Addict 2
Double-Barreled Varmint Gun: a rapid-fire frangible scattergun, for killing space-vermin without puncturing walls. 1d8 damage in a 30', rerolls 1s and 2s on damage rolls against unarmored targets, pierces no walls.
Vibro-Wakizashi: a snub-nosed armor-piercing melee weapon, for killing the Hell out of combat robots and people in power armor. Deals 1d12 damage at grappling range, ignoring armor, passing through Thick walls.
Archon has two or three different systems now, but this is the way I do it. Roll 3d12 for Weapon, Ammo and Augmentation.
1. Rifle- 1d6 damage, pierces Thin walls, 100' range.
2. Beam Emitter - 1d6 damage, doesn't pierce, charges to 1d8 if you didn't use it last round, 100' range.
3. Rocket Pod - 2d4 damage, split the damage between as many targets as you want, pierce Thin walls, 200' range.
4. Scattergun - 1d8 damage in a 30' cone, pierces Thin walls.
5. Melee - 1d10 damage in melee, pierces Thin walls.
6. Drone hive - 1d6 damage, can fly around corners, doesn't pierce, 60' range.
7. Autocannon - 1d8 damage, 20' radius, pierces Thick walls, 100' range.
8. Limpet Launcher - 1d6 damage, 10' radius, pierces Thin walls when set off, rounds stick to metal and can be detonated later, 100' range.
9. Fluid Thrower - 1d8 damage in a 60' line. doesn't pierce walls, generates no Heat.
10. Claymore Array - 1d6 damage to everyone within 100', destroys Thin walls.
11. Disc Launcher - 1d6 damage at 100', ricochets to a random target for 1d4 damage. Doesn't pierce walls.
12. Assault Cannon - 2d6 damage, +1 Heat per combat, pierces Thick walls, 100' range.
1. Armor-piercing - ignores armor, wall pierce up step.
2. Frangible- no longer pierces walls. Reroll 1s and 2s on damage rolls against unarmored targets.
3. Flak - no longer pierces walls. Deals maximum damage to drones and other fast-moving targets.
4. Explosive - damage radius is increased by 20', wall pierce up one step.
5. Recursive - adds Heat to damage rolls.
6. Incendiary - targets take 1d4 damage each round until the fire is put out.
7. Cryo - targets must Save or cannot move on their next turn.
8. Pulse - targets must Save or be knocked down when hit.
9. Rail-assisted - range up one step.
10. Beacon - all your subsequent attacks against target have +1 damage. stacks.
11. Spalling - ignores armor, deals extra damage equal to target's armor.
12. Wildcat - damage die up one step, gain 1 Heat if damage is above normal maximum.
1. Light - damage die and wall-piercing down one step, reduce Heat cost to fire by 1.
2. Heavy - damage die and wall-piercing down one step, increase Heat cost to fire by 1.
3. Autonomous - fires under the control of a computer. You can use this weapon and take another action.
4. Rapid-fire - you may attack twice, each attack costing normal Heat.
5. Hardpoint-mounted - damage, wall piercing and range up one step, increase Heat cost to fire by one. You cannot move and fire this weapon on the same turn.
6. Assisted Targeting - spend an action and choose a target. Damage against that target is rolled with advantage. Targeting does not cost Heat.
7. Bombardment - you can choose to have the weapon deal its maximum damage on its attack, but it runs out of ammunition or charge and cannot be used again during this expedition.
8. Heatsink - the first shot during each combat generates 1 less Heat.
9. Internal Spool - may change Ammo type. This takes 1 Exploration Turn, and generates 1 Heat.
10. Backblast - When firing the weapon, everything within a semicircle behind you is tossed 30' away. If you lack 30' of rear clearance, you are tossed forward.
11. Snub Barrel - range down one step. Damage up one step.
12. Badly Malfunctioning - deals 1 damage to you when it would generate Heat. Damage die up one step.
Damage steps: 1, 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d12, 1d20
Range steps: grapple, melee, 30', 60', 100', 200', 500'
Wall-piercing steps: none, Thin, Thick, Armored, any number of walls until it hits Armored, any number of walls