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Aboleth

Golan2072

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The discussion in the Mind Flayer thread has brought me to recall my old favorite D20 horrors - the Aboleths. Unlike the Mind Flayers, both Aboleths and their bio-infested victim-slaves the Skum are SRD and OGL, so there are no projected copyright issues with them.

My idea is to write a horror adventure about an Aboleth for Stellar Reaches #4; the general outline would be somewhere between Aliens, the newer (John Carpenter's) The Thing and the Martian Gothic computer game.

A frontier colony (where should it be placed in the OTU?) on a frozen, very thin atmosphere world begins a slow terraformation process aimed to evaporate large parts of the ice in order to thicken the atmosphere and increase temerpatures and oxygen levels. As the ice near the main colony complex (inhabitated by terraformation engineers, quite small as the process is mostly automated) begins to melt, a cavern system is discovered not far from it. Deep within the caves, the thawed remanants of the planet's life await - an Aboleth, a lovecraftian horror with psychic powers, which captures the exploring crew and transforms them into Skum. Within days, the colony is overrun by strange monstrosities spawned by the Aboleth as well as by Skum, the infected, infested and "zombified" former colonists.

The type-S which visits the colony every two weeks to carry communications and minor cargos does not return from the colony. A second type-S is dispached, under emergency orders not to land unless contact is made with either the colony or the previous type-S. As the second type-S returns without making contact, the owning corporation pulls strings with the local Imperial government (on a world a few jumps from the colony) in order to get a Marine platoon look into the reasons for the colony's silence and for the loss of the type-S.

However, it will take the Marines four weeks (two jumps, one from the world to which the second type-S has returned to the world on which the Marines are stationed, another from that world to the colony) to reach the colony; meanwhile, an agent of a rival corporation has intercepted the message of the second type-S, and she hires the player characters as a strike team to accompany her to the colony in search of certain terraformation-tech-related research files that her employers would like to put their hands on...
 
Oooh, ooh, can I play? Or, at least steal the idea? That is
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Originally posted by Fritz88:
Oooh, ooh, can I play? Or, at least steal the idea? That is
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With pleasure!
Ofcourse, your help (or anyone's else, for that matter) will be more than welcome, too


First two points I need help with:

1) Where in the OTU should I place the colony? (frontier or semi-frontier needed, especially if it is not thoroughly mapped; IMTU is not the problem as I didn't make ALL of the maps yet, but I want compatability with the OTU as well.

2) How do I prevent this from being primarly a "dungeon crawl" (I want horror, alot of action, but not unending action alone)?
 
Well, it will have to be just off a corridor, so it's partly isolated. The PCs should jump in through a backdoor the other company has discovered. Maybe it could be Rimward and trailing of Sol, just out of the Solomani Rim, but nowhere near Hiver space.

Put lots of intrigue into the front end - is the company going to screw them, will the Marines vaporise them if found, give the PCs a couple of ship problems (to slow them going in, and to provide for tension running away). Once they are all preoccupied, let it turn into a dungeon crawl getting out. Then give them something for their efforts (maybe a drug based on some antibody in Skum) that the company - make that BOTH companies - will want to take away after they are well out of Aboleth space.
 
The Aboleth remind me of Cthulhu like horrors and pentapod gods...

where to place the colony? Five Sisters or District 268 would be my choices. There are a couple of worlds within each subsector that could fit the bill.

Dungeon crawls aren't all that bad, especially if you build up to it the right way. Searching though the colony, slowly building up the tension...
 
Originally posted by Fritz88:
Well, it will have to be just off a corridor, so it's partly isolated. The PCs should jump in through a backdoor the other company has discovered. Maybe it could be Rimward and trailing of Sol, just out of the Solomani Rim, but nowhere near Hiver space.
Solomani Rim you say... SolSec instead of the secind corp/masquarading as it?
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“Within days, the colony is overrun by strange monstrosities spawned by the Aboleth as well as by Skum, the infected, infested and "zombified" former colonists.”

Did someone say ZOMBIES?
1)Where in the OTU should I place the colony? (frontier or semi-frontier needed, especially if it is not thoroughly mapped; IMTU is not the problem as I didn't make ALL of the maps yet, but I want compatability with the OTU as well.

How about Flexos(0403)/District 268 UPP E5A1422-6
Noctocol(0603)/District 268 UPP E7A5747-6

2) How do I prevent this from being primarly a "dungeon crawl" (I want horror, alot of action, but not unending action alone)?

You could transport the pyramid complex from “Shadows” if you want. The suspense could come from a series of relatively harmless but disturbing encounters on the way into the complex and then the action comes in when they try to get back out. Rather than making each room a full of different traps and monsters give them a theme such as zombies or piles of ooze that can trap you so they can get to know the horror.
 
Fritz88, while not Aboleths interesting things are going to happening over at the LARP once the starship action ends. I would strongly encourage you to join and anyone else for that matter.
 
How about this... Place the adventure in Zhodani space for the added Psionics creep-out factor...


Cantrell: Chronor 0104 C-366243-9
A "mere" 500 inhabitants...Rather, it's a "mere" 500 inhabitants until you're dealing with 500 ZombiFried™ *former* inhabitants, some of whom were also Psionic!
A low law level that equates to some 500 *well armed* ZombieFried™, Psionically-led former inhabitants. *evil grin*
A standard (D&D-Like) Atmosphere,
A standard (D&D-Like) Hydosphere,
Low (0.35G) gravity conducive to big animals.
Tech level high enough and a UPP that's 'wacked out' enough [1] to possibly be Terraforming/Terraformed. Perhaps the atmosphere is getting a bit thin, and they're 'bumping' it?
It has a Class-C Starport, but I've never seen anything that states that a C-Class starport must be *large*, too...
Class Cs have refined fuel and can conduct major repairs...
Class Ds have unrefined fuel and can only conduct minor repairs.
So, Cantrel's Class C starport must have a fuel refining plant. The starport is located on the beach, refines seawater and stores it in a series of underground tanks to facilitate the efficient turnaround of the bi-weekly "milk run".
A Class-C Starport also must also be able to conduct major repairs to gain that designation. The Starport on Cantrel can conduct major repairs. If you happen to be flying a Zhodani-spec Type-S Courier, that is.

There was a Type S that had an 'incident' some years back. She had a spontaneous landing gear failure while sitting on the pad [2]. Break your Type S, there's sure to be good working parts available...dusty and cobwebby, but there.

So, on with the story... Here's a timeline...dates fabricated for ease of math.

001-1110 - Type S leaves Cantrel on schedule. Aboleths discovered/awakened later that very night.
007-1110 - Type S arrives Chronor from Cantrel.
008-1110 - Type S reloaded and leaves Chronor for Cantrel.
015-1110 - Type S arrives Cantrel. Can't communicate. Investigates. Gets the Chop. (You, too, shall be honored to learn the ways of Tai Kwon Leap...)
016-1110 - Type S expected to depart Cantrel for Chronor.
023-1110 - Type S expected back at Chronor.
025-1110 - Type S declared Overdue, a second Iachtep Shtaqrev Izhtlanzhel (Translates as: "The Umbrella Corporation" :D ) Type S(2) outjumps for Cantrel with corporate Engineers and Mechanics aboard. There will be an expected 48 hour layover on the far end to assist Type S(1) crew with probable Mechanical Failure.
032-1110 - Type S(2) due to arrive at Cantrel and commence assistance operations.
034-1110 - Type S(2) and Type S(1) both due to arrive back at Chronor.
036-1110 - end of 48 hour delay until both ships officially declared Missing Under Dubious Circumstances.
038-1110 - end of another 48 hour delay while the Iachtep Shtaqrev Izhtlanzhel argues that Government Troops should be used to assist and protect a Commercial Venture, since the world is ultimately Zhodani-Aligned. Chronor Reserve Marines placed on 48 hour duty scramble.
040-1110 - Marines Lift Chronor for Cantrell.
047-1110 - Marines expected to arrive Cantrel to investigate and possibly kick arse and chew bubblegum.

The PCs/Patron will have a 96 hour window [3] after the two ships are declared missing in which to act. They will have to get to Cantrel, find the data that the Patron is looking for [4], and decide whether to bug out [5] before the Marines arrive [6], or stay, warn them, share data and possibly help them 'cleanse' the planet. Oh yeah, in the meantime, they'll also have to keep alive, keep from getting 'zombified', keep their exit route clear, and keep the Aboleths from leaving the planet in their ship, in the boneyard ship, or in the Marine's ship...

Want to avoid a Dungeon Crawl? Heck, you may not even have to leave the Starport! [7]

[1] Ice melty melty = too much atmosphere and hydrographics to be able to retain it for more than a few thousand years, but who cares, we'll all be dead by then, right?
[2] Backstory Trivia: The cause was determined to be substandard fasteners purchased and used at the last annual maintenance - The Umbrella Corporation had to recall/refit 112 other ships of various types with fasteners installed from that lot. Meanwhile, the impact from the collapsed landing gear to the Zhodani-spec Type-S broke her spine. She was no longer able to hold pressure, but the timing couldn't have been more serendipitous. They jacked her up gingerly, towed her off the pad to a nearby hillside, ditch-witched some conduit out to her and retrofitted the rotating antenna for the new Approach Control Radar Suite she'd been delivering on that very run into the upper turret mount. Other than that, she's a perfect 'boneyard' specimen.
[3] and possibly much less, depending on the vagaries of the jump window, and how long it takes the characters to get contacted and get organized - it could be less than 48 hours, if they out-jump *after* the Marines have been put on alert!)
[4] Just because the Zho have psionicists to 'pre-detect' criminals doesn't *necessarily* mean that Industrial Espionage is a crime...presuming, of course, that it can be done without committing any other crime in the process...such as murder or breaking and entering...
[5] meaning be *in* jumpspace...
[6] Chronor is TL13, however, that doen't mean that the Marines that ship out need to be TL-D... I'm thinking that, due to the reluctance of the Chronor (Planetary) Government to get involved in a Commercial Matter, and the reluctance of the Chronor (Subsector) government to move troops in less than Regimental strength, the call might go out to a small unit from Zeycude (TL9) or Reno (TL10) who happen to be training on Chronor at the time...if you want a fair fight for the PCs... Or go with the High Tech Level Marines, if you want to continue the story with them lifting successfully and starting to invade nearby planets like locusts...

[7] Run it like the movie "Tremors" meets "Shaun of the Dead"/"28 Days Later"/"The Langoliers" meets "Black Hawk Down" (for the gun ⌧ parts) instead of "Aliens" meets D&D...
I'm picturing lots of sunshine, clean surfaces, computers running normally...and that eerie quiet that comes from being in an empty airport at 3am... Add to that a generous psionic helping of "I detect...well...*something*, but I don't know what it is"...and let the suspense build...
 
The Zhodani will make the Aboleth easier to deal with, as they are well versed in Psionics, as opposed to Imperials (or people from IMTU's Solar Triumvirate) and players used to playing them who'll get spooked out by the psionic abomination. Ofcourse, this doesn't stop the patron from being a Zho operative and a Psi herself, up to and including a doublecross attempt at some part of the plot (after all, once she gets a baby aboleth into an emergency low berth, she won't want the hirelings to spread the word...
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).

In the IMTU version, the patron would be a CRC-16 (Comitee for Regulation of Commerce, division 16, the Alliance's industrial espionage agency) operative, which is an Alliance (a rival polity to the Triumvirate) one; she won't nescery want to get rid of the crew, but a little potential blackmail evidence or two would go a long way to ensure their silence. Oh, and she'll have SOME idea about what went wrong - the second Type-S (which returned without landing) DID get some files from the colony's computers by remote access, which the patron took the liberty of stealing and then corrupting the original (while she's personally a minor Psion, CRC-16's speciality is hacking and electronic subterfuge). She knows that something bad has happened, possibly involving psionics. Oh, sure, she masquarades as an operative of another corp, and tells the PCs that she's after terraformation equipment, but what's she's real after is psi-research (the Alliance has slightly better terraformation technology than the Triumvirate, but psionic research is of extreme value to anyone).
 
^ If the group is small, an interesting twist for this whole story might be starting the game with the ship leaving the planet, the crew totally oblivious to what just happened. They are a little beat up, stink to high heaven, and are low on ammo. The crew roster shows a few are missing without explanation. The log provides some clues but mostly shows they were on a mission for a very wealthy patron who fronted them a small fortune.

Whether curiousity gets them, they have drive failure, or you hit them with a breech of contract and subsequent forfeiture of pay; get them to return to the planet and try to piece things together. Bloody bodies of the missing crew, half-eaten parts, and slime abound, but no solid explanation of what happened; only bad flash backs and upset stomachs. Then, someone comes across the Aboleth's cocoon or stasis pod or whatever and gets "a really bad feeling about this".

... And cue the the flesh eating psycho-zombies!!!
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Then, when the players are finally face to face with the aboleth, have it say in a hollow gurgling voice, "I told you to bring back more food, why did you fail me?" :eek:
 
By the way, how do you prefer it: A play-by-post game on these boards (the "Adventurers" or "IMTU" subforums), or a posted adventure for you to torment your unsuspecting players with? keep in mind that, on one hand, I'm not very experienced as a Traveller referee (to say the least), and a play-by-post game will delay the full release of the adventure by much (to prevent spoilers, and this could be a big delay as such games take alot of time), but on the other hand I'm itching to run this adventure and play traveller even though I don't have too many Traveller players around where I live.
 
Ok, I guess I'll post it on the next Stellar Reaches. Now, on to the world's library data (no location yet as I don't have my starcharts here):

New Arkham, D323264-9, Government Terraformation Project #63
Date of Information: 13-April-2398

- Originally a Dust World with a trace Carbon Dioxide/Methane atmosphere and no free-running water, but extensive above- and sub-surface water ice present.
- Planetological and fossile evidence, as well as the presence of viable quasi-flora spores, suggest that the world once had a warmer, wet period in the distant past (approximately 734 million years ago), in which life - up to very complex pesudo-vertebrate fauna - has flourished. The cause of this world's freezing (referred to as the Cataclysm) is yet to be determined, though existing evidence tend to point towards a planetoid-collision model.
- Geological activity is low to marginal, though remaining core and mantle heat has kept a small percentage (estimated 1%-3.5%) of the deep sub-surface water in a liquid state even before the terraformation process has begun.

(more to come later today or tomorrow).
 
Originally posted by Berg:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr /> New Arkham
I dig the "Cthulhu" sounds of this.... ;) </font>[/QUOTE]Temporary Name, most likely, but I do like the Lovecraftian ring of that name
 
Updated Version:

New Arkham, D323264-9, Government Terraformation Project #63
Date of Information: 13-April-2398

- Originally a Dust World with a trace Carbon Dioxide/Methane atmosphere and no free-running water, but extensive above- and sub-surface water ice present.
- Planetological and fossile evidence, as well as the presence of viable quasi-flora spores, suggest that the world once had a warmer, wet period in the distant past (approximately 734 million years ago), in which life - up to very complex pesudo-vertebrate fauna - has flourished. The cause of this world's freezing (referred to as the Cataclysm) is yet to be determined, though existing evidence tend to point towards a planetoid-collision model.
- Geological activity is low to marginal, though remaining core and mantle heat has kept a small percentage (estimated 1%-3.5%) of the deep sub-surface water in a liquid state even before the terraformation process has begun.
- Terraformation began 4-June-2337, and involved deliberate ice-comet bombardment, orbital mirrors and extensive mantle drilling.
- On-world colony established 17-March-2375 to accomodate terraformation-factory support personnell.
- Atmospheric chemical processing and initial microbial and algaeal seeding began 24-July-2376.
- Current atmosphere classified as Very Thin, Tainted, with not enough Oxygen concentration to allow free breathing and with lingering Carbon Dioxide still in the toxic range, dictating the use of combined Compressor/Filter Masks outside of pressurized environments.
- Temperature is still low, ranging from 10C annual avarage on the equator to -70C annual avarage in polar regions. Permanent bodies of free-running above-surface water exist only in equatorial and near-equatorial regions due to that reason.
- Cold-weather clothes recommended for outdoor activity even near the equator, especially during the night when temperature could fall down to -30C when the world is in Aphelion.

Colony of New Arkham
- As of 13-April-2398, New Arkham had a total population of 438, not including the crew of the Lady Viviane Orbital, consisting of 411 adults and 27 children.
- The entire adult population is composed of terraformation crews, their support personnell and administrative staff members. All children were born locally.
- New Arkham is headed by Governess Olga Leveksky on behalf of the Solar Triumvirate, and peace is being kept by a police/security force of 8 personnell, giving a police ratio of one police/security officer per 54.75 total residents.
- 9% of the adult population are governmental employees. The remaining 91% are employees of the Martian Mechanics Corporation contracted by the Solar Triumvirate government. Unemployment is at 0%, and the avarage per-capita income is Cr16,315.85 per annum.
 
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