The Alexandrian

Posts tagged ‘rpg scenarios’

San Angelo: Young Heroes

February 28th, 2018

Young Heroes

This material was originally developed in 1999 or 2000 as a proposal for a supplement to Gold Rush Games’ San Angelo.

Some quick background: Immediately before pitching this book, I had written Days of Terror, a campaign supplement for Dream Pod 9’s Heavy Gear RPG that followed the same format as The Paxton Gambit. Basically, it was a micro-setting supplement focused on one very specific topic and paired with the detailed overview of a related campaign. At the time, I was really enamored of the format and thought it would catch on with other game lines.San Angelo: City of Heroes - Gold Rush Games Young Heroes was an initial pitch for a similar line of supplements for GRG.

Don’t bother looking for Days of Terror. I wrote the whole book, but the project was canned due to the poor sales of The Paxton Gambit and A New Breed for DP9. Young Heroes didn’t even get off the ground. As I mentioned when archiving my review of A New Breed, these days I’m considerably less enamored of the format, primarily because the “milestone” approach they use fails to provide the type of specific prep work (like stat blocks) that I think are actually the most essential elements of value in a published scenario. Ideas are cheap; execution is everything.

On the other hand, sometimes one man’s ideas can still inspire others to do great things. I certainly experienced that when Martin Tegelj took my idea of the Temporal Masters and transformed it into a fully developed Doctor Who campaign. In the case of Young Heroes, I had actually developed a complete campaign outline as part of the original pitch. That’s what I’m going to be sharing below, but since it’s almost two decades old I’m also going to be peppering in a few thoughts on how my older and wiser self would change things up to make for a better campaign.


College Campus

Young Heroes was designed to be a supplement for college-age superheroes in San Angelo. My points of inspiration were the first fifty issues of Amazing Spider-Man, the early New Mutants comics, the second Avengers team (the one with Captain America trying to forge Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver into a cohesive whole), the late-’80s JLA (Batman trying to make a roster of second-stringers work), an incredibly obscure (but also wonderful) comic called The Fly from the Impact Comics line, and, oddly, Kurt Busiek’s Thunderbolts (which doesn’t really feature young heroes, but does feature new heroes trying to prove themselves). These days I would add stuff like Bendis’ definitive run on Ultimate Spider-Man, Kirkman’s Invincible (although the latter ends up being a bit more cosmic in scale than what I was aiming for here), and Spider-Man: Homecoming.

What about the micro-supplement part of the book? Well, I certainly hope it would have value if the full book had ever been written. But in outline form it doesn’t really offer anything of note unless you need to be told that a book about college-age heroes would feature information on the colleges of San Angelo, the neighborhoods around those colleges, stock faculty members, local musical groups (The Atlas, Jungle Beat, and the Mississippi Sirens, along with Sarah and the Peacekeepers; at least one of these would have secretly been superheroes), coffee houses and other hangouts, and the like.

This would have all been gazetteer-type stuff. These days, I’d have tried to figure out a more sandbox-style approach with material being presented through much more utilitarian chunks of content. And I’d probably also be looking at some kind of mini-game mechanical box that would strongly model the balance between classes, jobs, and superhero adventures. (Really try to capture that “Peter Parker madly juggling to keep all the parts of his life in the air at once” vibe and push it into hard, mechanical choices that would help drive the narrative.)


First off, and probably most obviously, I’d start by revamping the whole thing into a properly node-based scenario design. Perhaps not a node structure that was heavily bifurcated, but definitely one with a bit more flexibility and dynamic potential. In 1999, I was still trapped within the limited model of linear campaign structure, even though I was beginning some limited experimentation with non-linear scenarios. (Formally stating the Three Clue Rule to myself was, if I recall correctly, still a year or two in my future, too.)

Scenario One – The Birth of Legends. The first scenario is designed to bring the PCs together. A string of daring robberies has been plaguing businesses in the college area for about a week now, with the pace slowly increasing. The cops have caught a couple of the perps – all classmates of the PCs – but all of them claim to not remember the crimes. Plus, none of the stolen money or merchandise has been recovered. The PCs become involved when one of the robberies is carried out right under their nose (either while they are all “conveniently” in the same place or separately, but at roughly the same time). They, of course, capture the perps – who are just ordinary college kids who seem to be acting in some sort of trance. Eventually it’s all traced back to the Psychotropper. He’s been lacing the pizzas being delivered from the university Masked Bandit Pizza with his special drugs. The PCs face him and his “Zombie Horde” down and deliver him to the police. The important thing is that the PCs end up working together to solve the problem.

This is a very weak hook. “Bunch of heroes all respond to the same crime and team-up” is a staple of the genre, of course, but leveraging 4-6 PCs into the proper location, expecting them all to respond appropriately to the villains, and then fall into line for a campaign-long team-up as a result is awkward. It can work, but you’re relying heavily on the metagame expectations of “you’re all PCs, so you’re going to team-up” rather than having that emerge organically from the immediate circumstances.

What I’d probably do today is break up the initial beats of the campaign into a number of micro-interactions that would all end up pointing the PCs towards the Psychotropper’s antics from different directions. Because the different angles of approach allow the players to quickly see many different facets of the problem, this immediately creates magnitude. It also, in my experience, creates really interesting and unexpected initial interactions between the PCs as their vectors all converge on each other. One such micro-interaction might, in fact, be a couple of the PCs being at the same place at the same time and teaming up to follow their leads (but only a couple). For the others, I would try to tie the situation more intimately to the PCs and use the scenes to simultaneously begin putting pieces from their social lives and backgrounds into play. Using Tales from the Loopstyle elements to character creation in order to generate a detailed network of connections and then implicating their friends will immediately make the problem meaningful. (These connection networks could also feature in that “balance your lives” mechanics I mentioned earlier.)

Scenario Two – A Common Thread. While busting some petty crooks the PCs are suddenly confronted with mystic firepower. Each of the crooks is carrying a business card on their person imprinted with an apparently random set of five numbers and letters. As they mop things up despite their surprise, the Bard shows up on the scene: A cache of mystic artifacts was recently broken into and he’s been trying to track them down. The PCs are drawn into his investigation, but as they draw near the source of the weapons the crooks they have just caught are consumed by mystic flame. At the end of this scenario the PCs meet Sylvia Inverse. Sylvia was the superhero Lightning during the early ‘80s. She was crippled in a fight with the Reaper in ’85. Sylvia then became an industrialist and is now a billionaire. She has been searching for a group of young heroes who she can sponsor as a team. The PCs came to her attention through their recent actions.

Something that may not be entirely clear from this text is that this was meant to be what I think of as a “Shiki-style” campaign. Shiki was a campaign for Sengoku (another Gold Rush Games RPG, actually) which featured four scenarios which were notably separated from each other by large spans of time. The idea was that Shiki would provide the epic backbone for a long-term campaign, with the GM weaving other scenarios into the spaces between the campaign scenarios. Same principle here. Particularly during Act One, the idea was that the GM would include a number of other “generic” superhero scenarios as the PCs established themselves as local heroes.

Scenario Three – Traitor Unknown. The PCs are taken to see their new headquarters, located in a secret sub-basement of the skyscraper which houses the local branch of Sylvia’s company. They are also introduced to the other two members of the team – Circuit and Starsong. Their tour is interrupted when the monitoring equipment picks up a news report of a bank robbery involving high tech weaponry. Breaking up the robbery the PCs will find cards identical to those found on the mystically armed crooks in the last scenario. This time they succeed in tracking the shipments back to a central source, but as they move in for the final figurative kill they find the base abandoned and evidence that one of their own sent a warning.

NPC members of the team. Always risky because many people have had poor experiences with them. And I, as a GM, hate the hassle of running them and frequently feel like I’m screwing it up because I forget to pay enough attention to the NPC party member to make them truly feel like a member of the party. If I was running this campaign today I would probably (a) try to conspire with one of my players to take on the role of Circuit (the true traitor) and (b) see if I could find a co-GM or another faux-player willing to take on the role of Starsong (the false traitor) while also disappearing for several sessions (as described below).

Scenario Four – Our Foe, Ourselves. This scenario starts with the official announcement of the team’s formation – a major media event. Later, while Starsong is on duty, the monitoring equipment intercepts a police call to a warehouse where strange energy weapons are being used. The team dispatches at once, but when they arrive they find the warehouse empty and undisturbed. This pattern of “phantom messages” repeats itself a few times… each time while Starsong is on duty. Finally a similar call comes in while Circuit or one of the PCs is on duty, but this time the call is real. The PCs encounter a group of red-hooded crooks calling themselves “Servants of the Scarlet Sect”. The PCs fight them to a standstill, but then they disappear just as cop cars arrive. The “Servants” don’t appear on the security tapes – only the PCs wreaking havoc; all sorts of technological equipment is missing from the warehouse; and a security guard is found murdered in a backroom.


Scenario One – The Shattered Dream. The team suddenly finds itself a fugitive from justice. Sylvia Inverse believes their version of events, but since her connection to the team is known she is under strict surveillance and can do little to help them. Most of this scenario will be played out in the PCs’ secret IDs as they live out their lives on campus, talking with friends – some of whom support the new team, some of whom despise it. In the end the PCs are forced to take action when the Mad Bomber tries to blow up the school. Just as they finish putting the kibosh on the Bomber, they are suddenly confronted with a new problem: The Justice Foundation has shown up to take the fugitives into custody. Cliffhanger ending.

For maximum impact, this scenario requires proper setup: The campus relationships need to be established and they need to have some real stakes to them. In the near future I’ll be talking about the “exposition drip” technique you can use to make sure these elements are properly introduced before you need them to fire on all cylinders. The other thing to look at here is properly establishing the tension between the safety of remaining safely hidden in their civilian identities and the responsibility they feel to right wrongs. The scenario would probably play best with a sequence of temptations, each forcing the players to make hard choices about their priorities. (And also inviting them to find creative, clever, and/or stealthy solutions to problems in order to avoid exposing themselves.)

Scenario Two – Fugitives of Justice. This scenario opens with the conclusion of the battle with the Justice Foundation from the first scenario. The PCs should manage to extricate themselves from the situation. Cavalier - Justice Foundation (San Angelo)Later, the PCs are tracked down and attacked by the Foundation once again, but this time with the twist that it was the Scarlet Sect who lead them to the PCs. Evidence after the battle seems to reveal that Starsong betrayed their location. While they are in the middle of dealing with that situation, members of the Scarlet Sect suddenly appear as if out of thin air in the midst of the PCs. They kidnap Circuit and disappear.

Planning superhero campaigns is tricky because traditional superhero plots tend to turn on the specific outcomes of big, show-piece fights. Assuming/predetermining the specific outcomes of fights is a really easy way to double stamp your passport to Railroad-land. But if you try to AVOID doing that, you can end up with narrative structures which AREN’T driven by big, show-piece fights, and then your traditional superhero campaign doesn’t feel like a traditional superhero narrative.

Regardless, I would definitely try to avoid doing, however, is having the exact same fight twice in the same scenario and assuming a specific outcome for each fight, despite the fact that there seems to be little utility in HAVING two separate fights. I’d take a look at Principles of RPG Villainy and have the PCs hunted by more than just the Justice Foundation.

Scenario Three – Hostage! With Circuit gone and Starsong fleeing under suspicion, things are going badly for the PCs. The only good news is that Sylvia has been keeping a covert eye on their monitoring devices, and during their last encounter picked up an odd electronic signature from the Scarlet Sect – she thinks it may be what allowed them to cloak their presence in the surveillance cameras… but she’s going to need to get more readings. At this point they are contacted by a shadowy figure calling himself Mastermind, the figurative head of the Scarlet Sect. He offers the PCs the chance to join the sect.

This is not actually a scenario. It’s literally two phone conversations. I probably would have figured that out when it came time to actually develop this campaign.

Scenario Four – Our Hopes Fulfilled. At worst its a trap; at best its an offer designed to damn them all. But the PCs are encouraged by Sylvia to take the bait. It pays off: During a climactic battle with the Justice Foundation (again lured into the situation by Mastermind’s manipulations), Sylvia Inverse gathers enough data on the signals to decode the original tapes – revealing that the Sect members were on them all along. Mastermind manages to escape, but the PCs have the evidence they need to clear their names.


Scenario One – The Siren’s Song. The PCs are approached by Sylvia, who claims to have traced the signals to a specific warehouse. But it turns out to be a trap. They manage to save Circuit anyway when Starsong reappears to save them, and he suggests that they test Sylvia to see if she’s really a clone. It turns out that she is. Although she professes her innocence, the PCs probably aren’t buying it – and she’s forced to flee.

Scenario Two – The Island Realm. Meanwhile the PCs have figured out where Mastermind’s real base is – on a small island in the Pacific. This is the lead up to the big wrap-up: Fists fly and powers boom. It turns out that Mastermind is the original Lightning, who was driven insane by her injury. The Sylvia who the PCs have known is a clone, but she’s been living Sylvia’s life.

Reviewing my notes from 1999/2000, this is one of the major core ideas of what I wanted the campaign to accomplish: Create an atmosphere of suspicion, paranoia, and false identity. Implicate their boss as being a cloned impostor. Have them run a test and discover that she IS a clone – oh my god! And then have the big reveal where it turns out that the clone is actually the good guy and is, in fact, a more faithful preservation of the original’s personality before their mind was broken.

What’s missing here, however, are some key exposition drips: Sylvia’s accident needs to be narratively incorporated before the big reveal. The possibility of a clone (or multiple clones) being involved needs to be set up so that the accusation against Sylvia is a payoff instead of a random curve ball. It would also help to clearly set up how the PCs can test for a clone before they need to do it here.

Scenario Three – The Final Hour. And here’s the big wrap-up: Fleeing the island, Mastermind returns to San Angelo – planning to seal the city away from the outside world using her technology. The PCs have to get inside the city, and then defeat Mastermind once there.

Pacific Islands - Satellite Footage


Tales from the LoopNINTENDO SLUGS

Gauntlet (Tengen)

As I mentioned in my discussion of the system cheat sheet I prepped for Tales from the Loop, I think the proscribed structure for The Mystery is particularly important for making the game work as its designed. Therefore, when I sat down to design a scenario I pretty much prepped it as a one-page cheat sheet using the various phases of the mystery as headers for lists of simple bullet points. I’m expanding on that format somewhat here to make it slightly more explicable for people who are not living in my head, but not by much.


The Mystery always begins with one Everyday Life scene for each kid. Most of these should be pulled from their Problems, Prides, and Relationships, but I think it works well to include a couple Everyday Life scenes that will later tie into the mystery (either directly or indirectly):

  • A kids’ friend wants to trade for the best video game cartridge. They offer the much-prized Tengen Gauntlet.
  • One of the kids is asked by their teacher to audition for the school play (Bye, Bye Birdie).
  • A friend approaches one of the kids and tells them they’ve found a dead “alien” in the woods. (It’s actually just a dead cougar.)


Make sure to continue alternating between Mystery and Everyday Life scenes. The consistent return to “normalcy” and its contrast to the strange things happening around the kids is essential for effective pacing in Tales from the Loop.

  • Finding a half dead “brain slug” dying somewhere. (It looks roughly like a gray, pulsing manta ray, but considerably smaller — perhaps 12 inches across. If it dies completely, it rapidly deteriorates into a grayish, gelatinous mass — sort of like a jellyfish washed up on a beach.)
  • Observing a “seance circle” at school. (This is a weird fad that’s going around the school where kids participate in a “seance” and talk to mysterious figures who appear in their “visions”. By default, the kids are just faking with this, but the scene can be heightened later by having the seance circle get infested with brain slugs.)
  • Molly (a girl in 4th grade) is crying on the playground after school. She is scared and hungry because her older sister and parents are “acting weird” and they aren’t fixing her meals.



  • Her parents and sister have been infested with brain slugs. The family is in something of a stupor and the slugs can be examined as long as they are not directly disturbed.
  • Cables from the house can be followed into a field behind the house where the modified echo sphere is (see below).
  • Molly’s parents could also be followed to the modified echo sphere if they are observed long enough. They might also see Molly’s sister returning to the house with a stack of modified NES cartridges.


  • Plugging NES cartridges into the echo sphere modifies their programming and their substrate structure.


  • When plugged into a Nintendo, they require the hardware so that it transmits a signal.
  • Transmission is direction and can be oriented or triangulated to the water tower on top of Pill Hill (see below).
  • Cracking open either a modified cartridge or modified Nintendo reveals massive, clearly alien alterations to the technology inside. This includes a glittering “silver sheen” (which is actually some form of nanomachinery).


  • The top of the water tower has been modified with several large, blocky pieces of equipment and is coated with the “silver sheen”.
  • 4-5 slug-controlled humans patrol the area around the base of the tower.
  • 1-2 slug-controlled humans are workign on the walkway atop the tower.


  • The NES console belonging to one of the kids (preferably the one who traded for the Gauntlet cartridge) floats into the air and begins glowing with weird lights.
  • The best friend of one of the kids gets converted by a slug.
  • The parent(s) of of one of the kids gets converted by a slug.
  • Teacher brings in a box of slugs and wants the kids to hold them.
  • The Congregation begins: The slug-possessed begin moving towards the Pill Hill Water Tower.
  • The Water Tower is activated. Those possessed by brain slugs fall into a coma and most die.


DART is aware that something has escaped their facility and they’re trying to track it down.

  • Kids see a white van observing the school.
  • The DART van follows the kids, creeping slowly down the street behind them.
  • DART personnel burn down an infected house.
  • Kids at school are called in for “medical check-ups”.
  • The kids see the DART van crashed into a tree; its engine smoking and the DART personnel missing. (They might see them later up at the Water Tower.)

Go to Part 1

Eclipse Phase: Crater Dreams - Black Mercury


These developments can be used flexibly by the GM to model ongoing events at the crater. They might complicate things during the PCs’ operation (for example, the corrupted hab robots attack them). Or they might be used to describe ongoing events for PCs who place the compound under surveillance (for example, security responds to Balthasar’s breach of the Asteroid Dome, perhaps creating an opportunity for the PCs to infiltrate areas left temporarily undefended).


  • The researcher named Balthasar succumbs to the basilisk dreams.
  • Balthasar enters the Asteroid Dome, removes the protective glove from this suit, and touches the asteroid. He is rapidly infected by Silver Basilisk.
  • A high-security alert is triggered, with security personnel moving into the research spike. (The most likely outcome is that the first people to breach the Asteroid Dome succumb to Balthasar’s Silver Basilisk effect.)
  • Another option would be to trigger this event just after the PCs have secured the security feed at the Security HQ. (So they’ve secured the compound, but then everything starts going to hell.)


  • Silver Basilisk manages to infect the Sensor AI through an intermittent visual basilisk hack which appears on the surface of the asteroid (and is picked up by the sensors).
  • Sensor AI corrupts the hab repair robots, which begin rebuilding the Research Spike in disturbing ways.
  • Sensor AI begins trying to hack and corrupt the other AIs.


  • He attempts to flee across the Martian plains, but is tracked down by the security personnel and then shipped to a mental institution in Pathfinder City for study.
  • He remains there for a week before the people assigned conclude there’s nothing more of use that can be gleaned from him; then his ego is wiped and his morph is destroyed.

Go to Part 7: Security Team

(PDF Link: After several failed attempts to get the Security Team stats formatted to appear on the webpage, I’ve decided to throw in the towel and give a PDF version for superior utility. Early Access Patreon backers can also download a PDF of the full adventure, as they can for my other scenarios.)

Eclipse Phase: Crater Dreams - Research Spike (Side View)

Roof: 50 meters wide. Upper level: 40 meters wide. Lower Level: 30 meters wide.

Shaft: 6 meters wide. 40 meters high.

Asteroid Dome: 12 meters wide. 6 meters high

  • Every room has standard audio/visual feeds sent to Security HQ.

This lab contains equipment for preparing and decontaminating samples before they’re sent over to the labs in the Research Hab.

PERMEABLE NANOBARRIER: A large hole in the floor leads to the Shaft below. The hole is sealed with a gel-like substance – a permeable nano-barrier which can be easily passed through, but which will effectively decontaminate anything passing through it.

  • Unprotected flesh would literally be flayed away by disassemblers if it passes through the nanobarrier.


STAIRWAY: Of a white, gleaming plastic. It can collapse down and become a lift pallet.

DOOR TO AREA 1: This door features biometric identification and can only be opened by the Security AI (or other personnel in the Security HQ).


Eclipse Phase: Crater Dreams - Research Spike (Map)A window of transparent polymer looks into the shaft chamber.


The full decontamination process takes 2 minutes.

STEP 1: NANODETECTORS: In the ceiling, suck air out of the chamber for analysis.

STEP 2: DECONTAMINATION MIST: To unprotected biomorphs, this acts a toxin that causes eye irritation and difficulty breathing. 1d10 damage, -30 modifier to sight-based Perception tests, and a -20 modifier to all other actions.

STEP 3: NANOSWARM – MICROBIAL CLEANERS: Released into the room.


Sharp angling of the exterior wall.

HAZMAT SUITS: 12 hazmat suits hang in individual sterilizing chambers.

STAIRWAY: Of a white, gleaming plastic. It can collapse down and become a lift pallet.


Sharp angling of the exterior wall.

RESEARCH AI FORK: The Research AI Fork is running off a server in this room.



HAB REPAIR ROBOT: Crab-like frame. Panopticon, pg. 157.

Walker 4/20 (max 20 kph), Armor 4/4, DUR 40, WT 8

Access Jacks, Chem Sniffer, Electrical Sense, Enhanced Vision, Extra Limbs (6), Grip Pads (+30 Climbing), Headlights, Maker, Nanoscopic Vision, Repair Spray, Tool Kit, Utilitool

AI: Hardware: Industrial 40, Hardware: Robotics 40, Perception 30.

ROBOMULE: Human-sized, but horizontal and with six legs. Legs can also transform into flippers for swimming (deploy reusable flotation bladders). Carry 250kg of cargo over long distances.  Upper surface made of smart materials that transform into straps, etc. Gatecrashing, pg. 162.

Walker 4/20 (max 35 kph), Armor 4/4, DUR 40, WT 8

Access Jacks, Extra Limbs (6), Headlights, Maker



SENSORS: Monitored by the Sensor AI; 40% chance that the feed is also being monitored by a human.

  • HYPERSPECTRAL: +20 Perception modifier (Panopticon, pg. 162)
  • INFRARED: With active infrared lighting (+10 Perception modifier).
  • INFRASOUND: Capable of detect footprints within 20 feet (+30 Perception modifier).
  • QUANTUM RADAR (Active)
  • T-RAY/X-RAY/GAMMA RAY (Active)
  • SPECIAL VISION: Nanoscopic Vision, Polarization Vision

MOVING LADDERS: Four moving ladders spaced around the walls of the shaft. Grabbing onto the runs will cause the ladder to begin moving. (Two ladders go down; the other two go up.) The ladder can also be climbed normally.


SENSORS: As per Area 7, but with 80% chance that feed is being monitored by a human.

  • GHOST IMAGER (Panopticon, pg. 152)

FLOOR: The floor of the crater itself. A wide pit has been excavated (using scourer nanoswarms), revealing the asteroid which thrusts up out of the ground.

ASTEROID: A multi-faceted prism of silver crystals filling a latticework of silver-black. The lattice is constantly sheened with Silver Basilisk oil.

FRACTAL ARMS (x3): Fractal, mechanical arms extend from the walls. These can divide down to micrometer scale; have enhanced chemical sensor suites; and can release scourer nanoswarms.

  • SCOURERS: Analyze the dirt, regolith, ice, etc. in a region and then remove it, layer by layer. Anything not matching that pattern is location tagged and the swarm uses ultrasound to clear the item and clean it. (Gatecrashing, pg. 160)

MANIPULATOR CUFFS (x3): Stored in silver tubes attached to the dome wall.

MANIPULATOR CUFFS: Attached as a forearm cuff to the outside of a vacsuit. Utilitool and mobile lab. Controlled through arm movements and mesh signals. Protrudes 2-meter long telescoping manipulator. Can bend, flex, and squeeze through openings only 2mm wide. Can also detach and move under its own power (using flexible treads). Feels like an extension of the user’s hand. (Gatecrashing, pg. 160)

Tracked 2/8 (max 8 kph), DUR 5, WT 1

Access Jacks, Electrical Sense, Enhanced Vision, Fractal Digits, Grip Pads (+30 Climbing), Mobile Lab, Nanoscopic Vision, Shape Adjusting, Telescoping Limb, Utilitool

Go to Part 6: Developments

Go to Part 1

Eclipse Phase: Crater Dreams - Research Hab

(150 meters wide)


  • Building is on 10-foot high stabilizing stilts.
  • Mostly made out of white plasteel. The windows are clear plastic with protective metal blinds on the outside.
  • Bundles of cable run from the Research Hab around the perimeter of the crater to the Security HQ.
    • These contain hardwired camera and communication feeds.


  • Every room including the private quarters are monitored with standard audio/video feeds. The sensory feeds are hardwired to the Security HQ.
  • Chemical sniffers and radiation detectors in the labs (areas 5-12).


Generally only the door facing the crater is used. (The building is prefabbed.)


Cheap, one-piece plastic chairs and tables secured to the floor using solid adhesives.

The fabber here has broken down. Canned goods are being fabricated in the Security HQ and then carried over here.


For security purposes, these chambers are kept extremely depersonalized. (Security monitors this using the sensory feeds.)


The security feed for Carlyle’s quarters have been compromised: Carlyle’s muse is feeding false data to make everything appear normal.

BED: The bed is affixed to the ceiling. (Carlyle melted the solid adhesive bonding it to the floor and then secured it to the ceiling.)

  • A nest of bedding has been huddled up on the floor beneath the bed.

TABLE: A table has been magnetically attached to the wall. The surface of the table is covered in a multi-colored mélange of scrawled symbols and diagrams.

  • UNDER THE TABLE: If the table is removed from the wall, a tiny diorama will be found glued to the wall in the hollow space beneath the table’s central pillar. The diorama is a replica of the asteroid dome (area 8 of the Research Spike), including, most notably, a replica of the crystal-like extrusion which appears to be smeared with blood.
  • SCRAWLS: If each color of ink is separately extrapolated as a layer of data, they are revealed to be star charts. Specifically, they are constellations as viewed from the Martian sky directly above the Research Spike, with each layer of color representing an epoch of time progressively farther in the past. (Starting 50,000 years ago and increasing to 500,000,000 years.)


BRAINSCANNING: Access to the labs requires identification verification using a portable brainscanner (Panopticon, pg. 152). A set of six chairs line the room, allowing an entire lab team to be processed simultaneously.

  • This process is monitored by the Research AI.

HAZMAT SUITS: 12 hazmat suits hang in individual sterilizing chambers.


This room contains a number of freezers and shelving units with individual components formed from self-sealing smart materials.

  • Usually used for storing scientific samples, but the only samples currently being held here are a number of soil samples extracted from the surrounding terrain.
  • Most of the storage space is going unused.

BURN UNIT: The room also contains a sterilizing burn unit suitable for destroying toxic or dangerous materials.

  • This unit vents to a containment unit which can either be sealed and removed or vented to the outside atmosphere.


Fully-stocked laboratory suitable for general scientific study, but it’s going essentially unused on the current project.

RESEARCH AI: Research AI is running off a server in this room.


The full decontamination process takes 2 minutes.

STEP 1: NANODETECTORS: In the ceiling, suck air out of the chamber for analysis.

STEP 2: DECONTAMINATION MIST: To unprotected biomorphs, this acts as a toxin that causes eye irritation and difficulty breathing. 1d10 damage, -30 modifier to sight-based Perception tests, and a -20 modifier to all other actions.

STEP 3: NANOSWARM – MICROBIAL CLEANERS: Released into the room.


This room contains supplies for the laboratories. It notably includes:

  • Nanodetectors
  • Nanoswarm – Scientific Nanoanalyzer
    • Specifically designed to analyze compounds down to a molecular level.
  • Nanoswarm – Cleaner
  • Specimen Containers


SAMPLES: The samples have been carefully tagged with the GPS locations where they were picked up (mostly from within the crater, but also samples up to 3 km away from the crater).

REPORTS: Stored on the local servers.

  • No foreign matter was found in the ejecta, which would suggest that whatever impacted in the crater didn’t vaporize or suffer structural disintegration of any kind. (This is extremely unusual for an impact crater.)
  • The 3D map of the asteroid dome (area 8, Research Spike) prepared by the scourer nanoswarms is on file here.


WORK: The primary work here was an effort to replicate and map the DNA traces from the silver-black oil taken from the asteroid.

SILVER BASILISK SAMPLE: A small sample of Silver Basilisk in a diamond-crystal faraday container is kept in the lab’s sample case.

  • FARADAY CONTAINER: Gatecrashing, pg. 160. Superconductive charged wires block radio signals, electrical charges, and electromagnetic radiation from getting in or out.

SHREDDED BASILISK: In order to study the complex, interlaced DNA of Silver Basilisk, the researchers have ripped it apart using terahertz lasers and are attempting to individually cultivate the DNA strands. “Shredded basilisk”, however, remains highly toxic due to the fractal nature of the exsurgent virus (which will attempt to reconstitute itself).

  • Anyone exposed to shredded basilisk must make a DUR test (DUR x 4 if they have medichines or toxin filters). If they fail, there’s a 10% chance they’re affected as per second generation Silver Basilisk as the shredded basilisk migrates to the brain.
  • Otherwise, shredded baslisk inflicts a -5 modifier to COO, REF, and COG per week while simultaneously making the victim suffer extreme hallucinations and act as a focal point for Basilisk Dreams. Half this damage is dealt permanently to the ego (even if it resleeves). If any aptitudes are reduced to zero, the morph is effectively paralyzed and catatonic.


WORK: This lab is using biological data analysis techniques to study the interactions, functions, and properties of the X-91 oil.

TISSUE SAMPLES: They’ve infected three major sequences of stem-cell-derived microbiological tissue with X-91 oil. (Each sequence consists of thousands of closely related samples that have had their DNA altered only slightly one from the next in an effort to analyze variant interactions with the oil.)

  • All of these are potential infection vectors for Silver Basilisk (although a character can make a DUR test or a DUR x 3 test if they have medichines or toxin filters).

SECURITY MONITOR: This room has access to the surveillance feeds from the asteroid dome (Research Spike, area 8).

  • This allows the researchers to remotely observe and study the X-91 asteroid.

REPORTS: Stored on the local servers.

  • The X-91 oil appears to use a partially synthetic cell structure featuring incredibly complicated systems of intracellular communication using a protean peptide (which is constantly changing its shape and apparent function according to principles and stimuli that the researchers have been unable to fully identify).
  • There are macro-level reactions in the “anomalous large cells” of the X-91 structure which appear to be in reaction to the presence and proximity of specific individuals. This has made isolating micro-interactions difficult.
  • Instructions have been prepared to begin testing on animal subjects when their work moves to a larger facility.

 Go to Part 5: Research Spike



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