Thursday, May 21, 2020

MiniModules 1: TV ROTS YOUR BRAIN

Houston Sharp


This is the first in a series of mini-adventures I have recovered from my notes. It's not exactly feature-complete, (and I'll make no guarantees that any of the other ones will be either), and not even playtested (might change that in the future), but they were sitting around not being used so even partial presentation will be enough for me.

TV ROTS YOUR BRAIN: OR, ANTIFRIEND

A scenario for Mothership

You arrive in the spaceport, fresh out of eight months of cryo, and there's a man with goat's eyes on the arrival/departure screen. He's sitting at an empty desk in a darkened room; A corpulent, pasty form shoved into a threadbare suit, greasy hair combed over. You can't quite make out his face in the dimness.

He is everywhere you look - on every screen of every computer in the public terminals, every phone in your pocket, every billboard on the concourse - and he will not leave you alone. No one else can see him. If a screen bearing his image is broken, it will ooze a thick brown sludge. He won't notice and will just keep talking.

He says that there is something amiss. There has been a terrible mistake. You will have to take responsibility. You must kill a man. You do not have a choice in the matter.  Certain adjustments were made to you during cryosleep. He does not want to resort to their use, but he will if you prove intractible. You must take responsibility.

There is a loaded revolver in a nearby trash can.

And the man on the screen is gone.

The Target

The Man on the Screen will point out the target as they are leaving the concourse. They possess something that makes them distinct in a crowd (a large hat, a colorful outfit, an instrument case, a cyborg arm, etc) but are otherwise mundane. They will keep to the following schedule:
  • Concourse -  Initial sighting while moving to Food Court. Target is unaware of PCs. Public.
  • Food Court - 30 mins. Moderately populated. Target gets a meal from a fabber and sits alone. Public
  • Bathroom - 5 mins. Private.
  • Short-term dorms - 4 hours. Target rents a coffin bunk for the period and rests. Public lobby, private bunk.
  • Shuttlebay - If the Target is allowed to board their flight to the surface, the Man on the Screen will judge the exercise a failure. Public.

Obstacles

  • Public areas have AI-observed security cameras. If the AI picks up an incident, it will dispatch a Security Team
    • Security teams consist of 3 androids equipped with stun batons and foam guns. There are 5 teams on the entire station.
    • The AI are not particularly smart, but they are reliable. They can be hacked without being traced, but will be more alert on subsequent attempts.
  • Private areas do not have cameras, but they still have automatic detectors for smoke and weapons fire.

The Man on the Screen will reappear at moments deemed appropriately spooky by the Warden. As time progresses....
  • His body bloats further.
  • The lights above him begin to flicker
  • Flies buzz about his head, crawl on the camera lens.
  • The camera lens becomes increasingly grime-crusted.
  • The camera pans out as he speaks, revealing an audience of mummified corpses tied to their decaying seats. 

The End State

Should the players survive and succeed, the Man on the Screen will appear a final time. He will vomit up mud the entire time, congratulate the players for taking responsibility, and declare that the situation has been handled. Players will feel a sharp, cold pain in their necks for a moment, and then nothing. He will not appear again, and they are free to go on their way.

Should the players survive and fail, they will wake up (when next they sleep), in bodies not their own, thigh-deep in sludge, at the bottom of a dark pit. Something brushes against a player's foot. A temple sinks into the muck at the center, lit by faint paper lanterns coated in the bodies of dark moths. From somewhere far above, a voice whispers "Someone must take responsibility..."

Should the players die and succeed, their next characters will arrive on the station just in time to see the tail end of the cleanup.

Should the players die and fail, they will, after a short period of death, wake up tied to to their seats in a dark recording studio that stinks of rot and humidity. A flickering neon APPLAUSE sign reveals an open door to the side. The Man on the Screen is not here. The ropes are neither sturdy nor tightly tied.


Comments

This scenario hinges a great deal on player creativity when in an open-ended environment. While it could be played purely with the locations presented, I expect that creative players and refs will fill in gaps to suit their needs - anything that can be justified can likely be attached. That lends itself to some "developing complications on the fly", or if that isn't the style a little bit of prep beforehand - make a new area, make a complication for it, keep those on hand.

I find that I really enjoy writing up potential outcomes in my adventures, this one is no exception.

In the terrible space future, why would you ever expect death to be the end?

7 comments:

  1. There are two more currently in the works and upwards of six or seven on the short list, so get ready for this to be a thing.

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  2. Cool, got a kind of Hotline Miami vibe that I've wanted to integrate into an RPG ever since I played it.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah I really like the raw ick of the HLM opening.

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  3. "They can be hacked without being traced, but" but what?

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  4. The worst time to do drugs is in space.

    Also, this is great stuff. This is exactly the kind of thing I wish I could write for my Sci-Fi setting, which is drenched in the same pseudo-magical weirdness.

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