Investigating the Andaris Research Station

Copyright Jörg Jahnke © 2005

Edited by Aaron Smalley for The Guild Companion

"Now the station is engulfed in a chilling cold."

Preface

The adventure was originally created for the old Spacemaster (SM) rules when I played SM at the beginning of the 90s. Depending on the new rules some adaptations might be necessary. The PCs will be sent on a scouting mission to discover what happened with a space station to which contact was lost some days ago. Some engineering and crime tech skills are necessary to set up the station again. Some crime tech skills will also come in handy to find out what happened on the station. Combat abilities are useful to enable the PCs to stay longer on the planet but will not be required. A total of 10-15 PC levels should be enough to complete the adventure successfully.

The text below sometimes lists maneuver difficulties for two maneuvers, sometimes with differing modifiers. In these cases the information can be revealed by succeeding either of the maneuvers. Experience points should be awarded according to the easier of the two maneuver difficulties i.e. if a Light Crime Tech maneuver or a Medium Perception can be used to succeed then experience points for a Light maneuver should be awarded, even if the more difficult Perception maneuver was used and succeeded. The reason is that the more difficult manuever is in such cases only a backup solution if the other skill does not exist in the game or no one did develop it. A GM might as well decide that in these cases only the easier maneuver is available so that in the above example a Medium Perception maneuver is not allowed and the information cannot be gained if the Crime Tech maneuver does not succeed.

If you have comments on the adventure or additions to it, send these to epost@joergjahnke.de.

Have fun while playing it!

-Jörg

Background

The Andaris Research Station (ARS) is located on the planet Terasmax, whose proportion of land mass in comparison to the total surface area is only half of that of the Earth. Terasmax is an ice planet with a temperature averaging -30° Celsius on the surface. The space station was founded to confirm the raw material deposits which sensors reported on the planet. Additionally the researchers were to make experiments and take measures to prepare the excavation of the raw materials. Therefore an almost complete research station and seven scientists were transported to the planet in order to perform this task.

Only a few days after the research station was installed on Terasmax, a pirate ship which was damaged during a space combat landed a few hundret meters away from the station, undetected by the scientists inside. It had detected the new station and the pirates planned to use some of its equipment to repair the space ship, and also to steal some of the expensive instruments and devices of the station.

These pirates surprised and killed the researchers which put up only little resistance and weren't even able to contact their superiors. Only one pirate was killed during the battle. His comrades were dragging him back to their ship, assuming that they could still save his life. Additionally during the battle the reactor of the space station was damaged and is no longer functional so that now the station is engulfed in a chilling cold.

While the pirates were conducting the repairs of their ship, they were surprised by some robot scoutsand were engaged in a short combat with these scouts before the latter withdrew. During this combat two of the pirates died but they were able to destroy all the robots. What they did not know is that the robots were transmitting all information they receive to their base and other robots were therefore informed of the battle. Unfortunately for the pirates they were now too few to complete their repairs in time and escape with the ship before a new group of battle robots which some hours later arrived extinguished them. Since that time the pirate ship lies undetected on the surface of the planet as no sensor analysis for such small ships has been made since the arrival of the scientists.

One of the scout robots of the first assault lies, partially decomposed, in the workshop of the pirate ship. An watchful overserver will detect that the robot is of a yet unknown type. If exceptionally successful in his maneuver he might even find out that the robots are similar to an old robot type which was used for terraforming purposes by some settlers during former times. The other two robots of the scouting group were brought back by the later assault group to the home base of the robots, but these combat units were not clever enough to comprehend that the partially decomposed robots was one of their kind.

What has happened is that the settlers which planned to make Terasmax their new home modified this commonly used robot type and tried to program some kind of reproduction mechanism into them so that the robots could build new robots of their type and even modify their own programming to adopt to their surroundings. While the settlers later abandoned the task to settle on the planet and took most of the robots with them, they were not aware of all the robots which meanwhile had been created. Over the years their faulty programming led to the robots slowly increasing their "intellect" and rapidly increasing their physical abilities. They were also led astray from their original task and meanwhile only exist to reproduce and improve themselves. All other beings they regard as enemies, try to kill them and steal their technology. Recent ship wrecks and also the pirate ship have even given them access to space ship technology and so the robots might even be able to man space ships in the near future...

These robots are yet unknown to the authorities in this area of the outer space.

The task

Since a few days the government (of whichever planet the GM likes) which financed the ARS has not received a report from the station. Such reports were to come in daily to inform about the progress of the work and also to give the researchers a chance to order new equipment which might be necessary.

To investigate the events on the planet a group of persons able in the area of combat as well as engineering and science is going to be sent to the ARS. These should be the PCs which e.g. might have a connection to the local military on the planet or might be freelancers that the local authorities pay for this shop if they don't have access to such personnel. The task which they are given is to find out what happened on the ARS, to help the scientists in there to continue their work if possible or the evacuate the station if not. In the worst case that the scientists are no longer alive they should investigate what happened to them.

Arriving on the planet the PCs will soon find out that the latter has happened and should find out how the scientists were killed, who killed them, why the station is engulfed in ice and snow, what the pirates were doing on the planet and were the unknown robot comes from.

Should the PCs have their own space ship and a pilot then they can use this to reach the planet Terasmax. Otherwise the authorities will offer a small ship and, if necessary, also a pilot who will bring them to the planet. In the latter case the pilot will leave the surface of the planet after the PCs along with their equipment have left the ship. He will remain in the orbit and keep contact with the PCs. He might be persuaded to stay on the surface of the planet but that will be a hard task.

Obstacles

The first obstacle the PCs face should be the hard weather conditions on the planet. Due to the low temperature and frequent storm they should take shelter either in the ARS or the pirate ship. The latter they could detect from on board of the space ship carrying them to Terasmax or after they get the sensors of the ARS to work. On either of the two, ARS and pirate ship, they have to do some repairs e.g. get the reactor working, get sensors working, get life support working.

Some time after the PCs have searched the space station, did some investigations and should also have found the pirate ship, a second pirate ship which the pirates had called for after the first contact with the robots, will appear. The ship is easy to detect should the sensors be regularly checked. These pirates will, although having been informed about robots attacking their comrades, assume that the PCs have killed their friends, especially should they find them on the pirate ship. They will therefore attack the PCs, sending out a ground troop as they want to find out some details. These men might be convinced that the PCs did not kill their comrades (but will then still want to plunder their comrades ship). The difficulty of this task will depend upon the circumstances in which they encounter the PCs. E.g. should they encounter the PCs on board of the pirate ship while one of the PCs is just plundering a pirate corpse then it might be quite absurd to get them calmed. In the case that the pirates first have the opportunity to search the pirate ship without the PCs being there then it will be an easier task. The GM can handle this depending on how able the PCs are in combat and how he likes the adventure to be run.

Soon after the encounter with the pirates is finished, a squad of scout robots will appear that are sent to the pirate ship and the ARS to plunder. Unless the PCs come up with a really clever plan, there should be no possibility to avoid combat with the robots. They will regard the PCs as enemies which they have to destroy as they did with the pirates before. Should they be repelled then ever more and more dangerous robots will be sent until the PCs will be killed or finally decide to leave the planet. If they are lucky, the PCs could find out a bit more about these strange robots before they have to leave.

The ARS

All devices inside the ARS are no longer functional as the reactor is damaged (see 9 below). Accordingly the radiator which had warmed the station up to +20° C does also not work and the ARS is now engulfed in ice and snow. If the PCs should search for traces of robots then in every room which was only visited for a short time and were the tracks were therefore not extinguished an Extremely Hard Perception/Tracking maneuver can be made to find traces of the robots. Inside the corridors this maneuver is only of Medium difficulty.

(1) Between the entry and the main part of the station lies this corridor. Should someone enter the station (at least if it is intact) this corridor temporarily cools down due to the low temperature outside and is then warmed up again to 20° C. This guarantees a constant temperature inside the main part of the station. From the door (b) to the door (h) a trail of blood can be found. A Medium Perception/Tracking reveals that a person was dragged from (8) to (10) into a vehicle waiting there.

(2) Storage room which are filled with material the scientist required e.g. protective clothing against the cold.

(3) Quarter of the project lead. Contains some computer terminals. On various disks one can find the current research results. If someone should scan these results he can find (with a Hard Computer Tech maneuver/Verd Hard Perception) a file that describes a space battle near the planet. The file is a section of a news report that was sent to the scientists on the ARS. Equipment that can be found here includes a +15 multiscanner, a +5 repairscanner, 3x 10 tabs and one hand weapon. The project leader lies dead in his chair. An Easy Crime Tech maneuver/ Hard Perception reveals that he was surprised and could not put any resistance. A Light Crime Tech/ Hard Perception maneuver gives information about the weapon type (it was a laser weapon carried by one of the pirates) that was used to kill him. An extraordinary success would even reveal the weapon model (be creative!).

(4)-(6) Quarter for two scientists each. Every scientist had his own microcomputer where one can find personal records or diaries. They hold no special information though that could help for the adventure. Equipment that can be found here: 3 hand weapons, 8x Personal Equipment, 10x 10 tabs, 6x Environmental Aids, 2 Tools.

(7) Communication station of the ARS. It has a separate power supply and is one of the very few appliances which are still functions (TBD: 2 LY, Laser 40000 km).

(8) The laboratory. Here are placed a series of computers which have various data stored that the researchers collected. Additionally one can find equipment for analyzing samples, measuring instruments etc. The sensors of the station are designed to detect certain chemical elements (similar to a multiscanner but with much greater range). Five dead scientists lie here, two of them having their weapon drawn.

(9) The reactor room. Here lies the seventh and last scientist. He was able to flee here through the tunnel (11) and was able to hold out against the pirates for a while. Fortunately he was able to activate a microphone that was connected to a computer which normally was used for sound analysis. Now this contains the last seconds of his life and some of his words about what was happening. It requires a Light Perception to detect the microphone and a Medium Computer Tech maneuver to replay the recording. The dead body still holds a 10mm MLA Pistol (no ammunition anymore) in his hands. During the fight the reactor was damaged (Very Severe to repair). As it is a nuclear reactor, every person which does not enter the room in protective clothing will take an A radiation critical for every full 5 minutes in the room. From the reactor room one gets to the room (10).

(10) Originally this room harboured a vehicle which was used to carry the scientists through the icy wastes of the planet. It requires a Routine Tracking/Light Perception that once a vehicle was here. A blood trail leads to the place where it once stood. Some batteries which can be refilled are leaned against the walls. Installed on one wall is the switch to lift and let down the gate. Using a remote control lying on a table the vehicle can be steered and a monitor can display data which a camera and microphone installed on the vehicle deliver (if activated, which is currently not the case).

(11) A blood trail leads from (a) to (b). A Very Hard Tracking/Perception maneuver reveals that a wounded person was dragged along the corridor.

Pirate Ship Plans

(see SMC pg. 41; additional weaponry: 2 MK 15 Laser Cannons)

Upon sight of the space ship it could become obvious (via a Light Perception maneuver) that the ship was damaged during a space battle.

Former crew: 8 men, now all dead.

(1) On the bridge the last three of the pirates died, two of them still lying here. A Medium Crime Technics Maneuver allows one to find out that they defended the bridge against the intruders from the door. During the gunfight almost all installations on the bridge was damaged (5 rolls on Repair/Malfunction chart per installation). A -100 Perception/Tracking or an Absurd Crime Tech maneuver will reveal that robots were the enemies in the fight.

(2) Lift-Tubes lead to auxiliary bridge. In one of the tubes is a dead pirate, the third of the three who died during the battle on the bridge.

(3) Lockers and storage rooms holding some tools or scanners.

(4) On the corridor lies a dead pirate. He was the first to face the unknown intruders.

(5) The private quarter of the ship's captain. 2000 monets, a +10 multiscanner and a Type III Exoskeleton can be found here. It is more luxuriously furnished than the other quarters.

(6) Quarter of the pilot. 1800 monets, a +15 Kevlar Suit and various storages disk with information on several planets can be found among his equipment.

(7) Workshop I: Here all equipment for doing various repairs on the ship can be found. In a corner lies a robot which is partially disassembled (+20 Perception). This robot is one of the scout robots which came with the first assault wave. A closer examination (+10 Cybernetics or -10 Cybernetic Tech) will reveal that this is a yet unknown model. An extraordinary success will give the information that this model is derived from an older one which was used for terraforming many years ago. An Extremely Hard Electronic Tech maneuver might additionally reveal that the robot is equipped with a transmission unit which is sending its complete sensory input to its home base.

(8) Workshop II: Here one can find some more equipment for repairs and analysis, some from the ARS. The latter can be detected via a Hard Perception maneuver.

(9)Workshop III: A small room, filled with reparation material as well as booty, the latter worth about 10000 monets.

(10) Air-lock.

(11) A small medical lab. Here the three pirates that died first (one on the ARS and two during the assault of the scouting robots) can be found.

(12) Crew quarters: In each two of the pirates dwelled.

(13) Equipment room: Contains 3 hand weapons, 10 items of personal equipment, 3 recording devices and 3x 10 tabs (only category given, details can be determined by the GM).

(14) Quarter of the mechanic: Contains one hand weapon, 4 items of personal equipment, 2 recording devices, 4 environmental aids and 3 tools.

(15) Engine room: The damaged machines require a Very Severe repair to be made functional again.

If the GM deems this appropriate, then some of the above items could already be missing, being taken by the robots.

Statistics for the robots

Scout robots

Hits: 80, AT 22, DB: 20, OB: 2 x Blast MK 4 weapons with 40 OB, Perception: 50, Tracking: 30, have a constant radio communication to their base.

Battle robots

Hits: 120, AT 22, DB: 40, OB: 2 x Blast MK 4 Weapons with 80 OB, Perception: 30.