Io 3

This is a small of module to run in a whacky science fantasy setting, where the fairy tales have not only come true, but they have caught up on the leading edge of technology. I have used the Grofzg rules to describe the non player characters (NPCs). You can find a copy of these rules at the end of this document. The rules are based on Fudge. The scenario was inspired by the web site for Gatecrasher. Most of it was written in 1999.

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Introduction

The story centers around a paranoid Computer that took over the space-side resort Io III. The resort resembles a giant wheel about 1200m in diameter. It rotates around itself once every 8s and produces a pseudo-gravity of about 1.0g at the rim. The space station is run by The Computer gone nuts. The Computer is collecting all the guests in the hall.

The goal is to return The Computer to normal functioning. While trying to achieve this, the robots sent out by The Computer and his servants have to be evaded or eliminated. Most rooms provide some suggestions for traps that player characters (PCs) might want to use against the electronic minions. This battle is complicated by other factions trying to take over Io III. Possible endings are the expulsion of the PCs from Io III by the winners of this battle, or the PCs siding with a faction and winning themselves. Possible follow-ups include trying to reestablish peace and order, trying to get away while being pursued by space cops and NPCs introduced in this scenario, or returning to the normal space-time-continuum, should the PCs end up being abducted into faery.

This scenario was played through twice. If you plan to run it, prepare a sheet with the stats for all the monsters and NPCs, including a detailed description of their weapons and their combat preferences. I won’t add this, since I am not planning to rerun this adventure any time soon. The region around the CPU should be revised. The description of the dining hall and the robot activity there should be expanded.

Io 3 Space Station

Figure 1: The Io III space resort viewed from above. The station produces artificial gravity by rotating very fast around the Eye; one revolution takes about eight seconds. The distance from the Eye to the circular tunnel is about 600m.

The Starting Scene

The story starts in the artificial beach module of Io III, when the lights go out for a fraction of a second. Everything is dead quiet.

As the lights turn on again, the humming of the myriad pieces of hardware maintaining the space station starts again with a deep rumble. It takes the machinery about half a minute to back to the normal humming pitch. Scare the players! Make it sound like a bomb will explode in a few seconds. This is the moment the The Computer has gone nuts. Trouble will start any minute now.

After about 3min, the station-wide audio system will inform all residents that they should gather immediately in the dining hall. Non-conformers will be collected by mass-control droids (everyone knows them: BBB, Big Bad Bullies, using electrical shocks, high-pressure water cannons, and evil eyes).

The PCs are on their own at the beach. If they don’t alert The Computer, nobody will come after them.

Important NPCs

These are the NPCs important enough for you to actually spend some time on them. They might be useful in subsequent sessions, so don’t waste them. If your players have already made some friends and enemies, let one or two of them appear on the space station, too. They’ll be as trapped as the PCs, providing help or action whenever you feel your players need it.

The attributes and combat preferences of all monsters and NPCs are listed in the appendix. The following gives just enough background to decide, where these NPC are best encountered.

Daisy

Daisy Esmeralda Urban, the urban duck, is an intelligent duck from one of the safe havens. Her ship is in need of repair. When she landed, the hatches were sealed by The Computer. She’s currently searching the ship for the poor schmuck responsible for this mess. She will not join the player characters, but pester them, follow them, interrogate them, or send them off the find suspects. She is armed with a stun-gun and a glue slingshot. Daisy is connected to her ship’s tactical computer by a compulink. The tactical computer (named Panzer) will keep her informed on all major events within and around the space station. Daisy might help the players whenever they have been overcome by The Computer and when they are utterly witless.

Anarcho Tom

One of the passengers, Tomaso il briccone Arrostore, aka Anarcho Tom, is a radical Anarchist, determined to exploit the situation by calling in his friends, the Cultural Humanoid Anarchists from Outer Space (CHAOS). Once he has reached a sending station and cracked the security system, it’ll be a matter of hours until the first CHAOS raiders appear, cutting their way into the space station. See the list of encounters for some more ideas. Use the CHAOS to destabilize everything, introducing another faction fighting for control over Io III.

Mutant Al

His real name is Alberto Pauka, Chief of Internal Securities, a telepath (attributes great, magic mediocre). Al can sense people sneaking up to him, and he knows troubleshooters when he sees them. Mutant Al feels that something is going on in the garden, but he doesn’t know what it is. He dreams of days gone by, when he was part of the Chreon strike force crushing the Xenopus uprising in the asteroid belt. He joyfully follows the new martial orders, hoping for some real action real soon now. Mutant Al is using his four Tron-Z units to erect a Harm+ defense unit to protect the CPU’s chamber. Use him as a friendly, intelligent enemy of the players. He’s not out to kill them, he just considers them a nuisance. He’d like to dump them in an emergency pod, store them in cryo-coffins (in cold-sleep), or have them deported by somebody.

UR-friend Bob 01

Central tactical unit on board the Io III station, he’s a very competent riot control model equipped with mass psychology plugins. Call him either your friend Bob or you’re-fried Bob. Under his coordination, the Thorr containment units are patrolling the aisles of the station, herding the passengers together, and engaging them in soothing routine work designed to lull their attentions. The three emergency Spider-Thorn 3 models that are hunting humanoids in the darker parts of the station are not under his control. Should UR-friend Bob realize that they’re loose, he’ll initiate complete evacuation procedures. The emergency signals will be equivalent to a call from Anarcho Tom for CHAOS. See the list of encounters for some more ideas.

Gregor Idahoe

He’s the cyborg chief software engineer with long, black hair (all attributes poor, but great at programming). Gregor has a major system link integrated into his brain, matrix goggles covering his eyes, and weak legs. Gregor was playing a major fantasy tabletop battle with his new AI module when it managed to cut Gregor off the net and invade core. Gregor is currently locked in his room, utterly powerless. Freeing Gregor is one of the ways to success. Unfortunately, he is weak and slow, hopefully getting the PCs into quite some trouble before being of any help.

The Computer

The Computer is continuing with its fantasy battle (the illusion is pretty strong, assume unbelievable willpower). The Computer is used to playing strategy games with the multi media tower in the Eye. Since the information coming in through the sensors is very confusing, The Computer has decided to send out patrols searching for enemies, and to gather all the civilians to raise an army and defend the station. Most guests have been gathered in the hall.

The Great Vine

The garden is inhabited by an intelligent Great Vine, which will try to take advantage of The Computer’s weakness and detach itself from the space station. The Great Vine knows about Mutant Al’s telepathic powers and considers him a lost son. Depending on how it goes, the PCs can side with the Great Vine and leave the space station on board the garden, or they can try and convince The Great Vine to fight The Computer. Mutant Al might play an important role in this conflict, because he is very disturbed by the telepathic powers of The Great Vine and it’s agents. Some of the animal and faery creatures from the garden will explore the space station. Use these to help the PCs out or to add another faction fighting for control over the station.

Alerting The Computer

Some of the rooms allow the PCs to alert The Computer. As soon as this happens, a patrol is sent out to retrieve the PCs and bring them back to the dining hall were all the other guests are gathered. If a patrol is destroyed, the next patrol on the list will be sent along. Should a patrol be unable to locate the PCs, it will return to wherever it came from. As soon as the patrol is returning home, it will no longer react to PCs—catching PCs is no longer part of the mission. Since The Computer is busy most of the time playing his schizophrenic game, the PCs will not alert The Computer by their presence alone (unless they enter the CPU).

  1. One Clean-o-bot will arrive, checking for any people left behind. If it detects the PCs, they are kindly requested to follow the Clean-o-bot back to the dining hall. If these orders are not obeyed, the Clean-o-bot will call two Thorr containment units. If Clean-o-bots are dismantled by the PCs, a knowledgeable PC can find a maintenance card. Based on it, forged maintenance cards could be made.
  2. Two Thorr containment units (aka as BBB: Big Bad Bullies) will arrive. They will command any people present to surrender and march before them to the dining hall. Disobedience will be punished by electrical shocks administered by a 5m long metallic whip.
  3. A Zap Drone hovering in the air appears, zapping a PC with a red laser, trying to coerce the PCs in the correct direction.
  4. Three Clean-o-bots using their cleaning equipment will try to distract the PCs while two Thorr units will try to tackle two weak PCs.
  5. Four Thorr units will be accompanied by the tactical commander UR-friend Bob 01. UR-friend Bob will be very careful and will try his best to escape any defeat. UR-friend Bob will try to convince the PCs to surrender using his mass psychology plug-in.
  6. UR-friend Bob will to arrange an ambush for the PCs using tactical reasoning and seven Thorr units. This should be a very dangerous encounter for the PCs. UR-friend Bob can use any observation technologies The Computer ignores, thus being (most probably) very well informed about the PCs. UR-friend Bob will try to escape from this skirmish, too.
  7. UR-friend Bob will try raw power to get a grip on the PCs: He’s using four WickedBeetle construction robots, each weighing about 2t (legendary strength, terrible agility, legendary willpower, no magic). The construction robots are not equipped with any long distance weapons, their armor is, however, from the strongest and most durable materials. Punches by the WickedBeetle’s magneto-pressurized fists will knock any humanoid down, breaking half his bones (heavy wounds). Should the WickedBeetles loose, UR-friend Bob will try to escape. Hopefully the PCs will have some plan to capture UR-friend Bob by now. This plan ought to succeed after a short chase, a short fight, or a short discussion. If UR-friend Bob is not captured, repeat the last three encounters until he is, or the PCs are.

Should the PCs be captured, they’ll be stored in cryo-coffins in the zero gravity storage tunnels.

Encounters in the Aisles

The aisles are usually deserted. Possible encounters include:

After other factions have entered the ship, possible encounters will include:

I sincerely hope that the session does not end with the utter destruction of the space station, although this is a possible ending, if the PCs are not interested in solving the situation (utter destruction of the space station ought to be interesting, no matter on which side they stand!), or if the players seem to need more action.

CHAOS members

The typical CHAOS member is a talented weirdo (attributes normal or good). After CHAOS has started to invade Io III, little groups of CHAOS members will appear in all the aisles. Suggested activities: construction crews carrying diamond vibration-augmented chainsaws and pulse-welders, cutting through the outer walls and installing state-of-the-art instant infrastructure; habitat engineers inflating vacuum-proof polymer bubbles, setting up guerrilla air-and-water vats full of microorganisms, and using ultra-bio-glue to stick drop-pods to the space station, instant infrastructure to the aisle walls, and bubble habitats to each other; network hackers linking their counter-network to the station’s power and communication network, eroding the station’s security perimeter, installing AI daemons to make areas independent from The Computer’s control; self-proclaimed security personnel patrolling the environs carrying stun-guns, ultra-bio-glue slingshots, and anti-bio-hazard equipment. CHAOS members are destabilizing the space station, but they are not agressive towards individuals (such as the PCs). They will help any individual being persecuted by security forces and robots.

Various Armed Forces

Pirates, space cops, private armies—all of them will be armed and looking for trouble. They are not oblivious to the dangers of fire-fights within a space station, so they’re all equipped with vacuum-lifegear, small propulsion jets, high-quality light filters built into their helmets, superb communication gear, and everything else a good techno-spacer needs. They’re armed with glue slingshots, monofiber whips, shock gear, as well as electronical and biological sabotage equipment (scramblers, masers, gas grenades, viral vectors, instant bacterial colonies). Wherever they appear, the space station internal security systems will bail out. Lights go out, emergency hatches close and are cut open again, flood lights try to cut through the darkness. As long as there is an atmosphere there will be hoarse shouts, deafening metal banging, and hysterical comm officers talking to their comm units going nuts. The various armed forces will make life extremely difficult for the PCs, as hell breaks loose with skirmishes all over the place.

Aliens

Use any aliens you like to populate the aisles: angels, chaotic hordes, tentacle beings from the steaming love oceans on Nereid, pacifist amoebas from Quikzocktl (a ring city), intelligent ice worms from Uranus, Space Kobolds out for a cheap thrill, or a big Krichtzap bugs meta-swarm from the belts trying to set up a new colony.

The Robot Empire

Any battle robots from the Robot Empire entering the station might not be inclined to protect life-as-we-know-it on the space station. The Robots will use plasma-guns, rail-guns, and plastic explosives excessively, not caring about any hull leaks incurred. When the Robot Empire has landed, the area around the space ship will be involved in a small space skirmish. Should this occur, PCs ought to try and get away alive as fast as possible. There won’t be much left to save...

The Ventilation System

All rooms have at least one ventilation grill set in the ceiling or in one of the walls. Sometimes they are well hidden under a double ceiling: In this case the ceiling will be covered with some neat pattern, where black spots conceal the small holes for the ventilation system.

Any person may crawl through the ventilation system. Right behind the grate, the tunnels will be very greasy; after a few meters the tunnels will be blocked by a spongy, gray-green mass. Any PC staying here for more than a few seconds will be infected by aggressive fungi unless using protective gear (gas masks or something equivalent). Infections of the lung will incapacitate the PC after a few hours. Only thorough medical treatments will enable the PC to recover. The infection should add urgency to the task at hand, not remove a character from play. Let the character cough at the most inappropriate moments, have his skin turn putrid and green, falling off in places, let him relish the smell and taste of decaying stuff.

If such an infection can be avoided, the ventilation system is a great place to move around unseen and (hopefully) unheard. It is uninhabited—all the possible critters have died of fungal infections.

The Cable Shafts

All rooms are connected to The Great Network. Each room provides infrared links for any equipment wanting to access the Net. The infrared senders and receivers are easily detected. With a little searching, the hidden aperture leading to the cable shafts can be found. In mosts rooms the entry to the cable shafts is a square tunnel about half a meter across. This will be too small for ordinary people. Some rooms have larger entries (whenever the designers expected high computational loads). Once in a shaft, small handholds will allow anyone not claustrophobic or with a fear of heights to reach a lot of rooms unseen and unheard. Opening the hatches is not easy, though—good strength is required.

There is no other way to reach or to even look into the rooms connected to the cable shafts.

The shafts are populated by cable critters. These are small, ape-like animals with big, beaver-like teeth. They can climb the shafts with ease, jumping and yelping all the way. This is only rarely heard in the rooms themselves; the general hum generated by the ship’s machinery is too loud.

Cable Critters

They are very fast. They’ll steal food and equipment, bite into the PCs fingers (scratches), throw litter down the shafts, etc. They’ll annoy the PCs without really hurting them. Using guns or explosives inside the shafts will get rid of the critters and destabilize the ship. The resulting emergency signals will equivalent to call from Anarcho Tom for CHAOS. See the list of encounters for some more ideas.

Recreation Areas

The guests have been gathered in the dining hall. The recreation areas are devoid of humanoids.

The Gorge

The gorge is a wide shaft climbing up from the baths close to the primary nuclear reactor to the Eye. It’s walls are made from asteroid rock and artificial cliff-glue. It looks fantastic, little streamlets cling to the rocks, a delicate spray hangs in the air. From far above the bright lights from the Eye shine down and fill the haze in the depths with sparkling silhouettes and dancing shadows. The bulging vapors at the bottom of the gorge are warm and dense, produced by the hot springs down in the baths.

It is possible to climb from the baths up to the Eye itself. Depending on the safety measures and the difficulty of the route (from normal to great) this might take from several hours up to an entire day. The ascent covers a vertical distance of about 700m. Gravity close to the Eye is 0g and reaches about 1.1g in the baths. At the level of the circular tunnel, 600m below the Eye, caverns exist which turn to normal aisles after two sharp bends. These tunnels lead to the dining hall in the living quarters.

There is an elevator running within the gorge’s walls, running from the Eye down to the nuclear reactor. Possible exists are the Eye, the high point (see below), the caverns, the baths, and the reactor. The elevator will only go down to the reactor if the PCs can come up with a maintenance card. The maintenance card must be issued by the computer, or forged from a maintenance card included in a Clean-o-bot. Mutant Al also owns a maintenance card. The elevator contains several shafts—some of them for the guests, others for the space station’s staff.

Using the elevator, however, will alert the The Computer. There are two video cameras and four microphones spying on the elevator. Should the PCs use it, there’ll be a patrol waiting for them at the end of their ride. The elevator can be controlled by a PC with a system link and good hacking skills. This will allow the PCs to force the doors shut if they come under attack, to move the elevator down to the reactor, and to stop it midway between two stops.

The High Point

[...]

Hover Bots

The usual robots are very clumsy climbers. Therefore, The Computer uses five Guardian X hover bots to patrol the area. These bots are life-saving units which will rescue any shape they think represents a drowning victim. Victims are transported to the bath’s medical unit. The hover bots are also equipped with flood lights, IR motion detectors, as well as video cameras. The only offensive weapons they have at their disposal is the medical equipment: syringes filled with a sedative cocktail, small robot arms able to tie stunned people up with ultra-strong fixating tape. Tearing this off without bathing the tape for at least 30min in hot water will hurt terribly, rip all the hairs off, and leave the skin rosy and tender for one day. The hover bots will try to use as much tape as possible to tie people up...

Trolls

The gorge is inhabited by seven trolls. They look like large, fat men roughly hewn from the rocks (strength legendary, agility poor, willpower normal, magic poor). Trolls can look like rock, throw rocks and morph rock (great agility and magic). Trolls are rock elementals and will loose strength and wit the greater the distance from the nearest substantial mass of rocks. The only substantial masses of rock on Io III are walls of the gorge and the rocks beneath the garden’s soil. The trolls are unwilling to leave the gorge, even though they’ll help to trash any robots The Computer sends into the gorge.

Trolls are infamous slow thinkers, but great rocky landscape sculptors. The gorge was built by trolls, and three rock sculptors have remained on Io III to look after it. After a while more trolls appeared—nobody knows how they entered the space station, but since they don’t consume any food, and don’t seem to breathe too much, the management has never paid them much attention. Since The Computer is rather powerless in the gorge, it doesn’t pay them much attention, either.

Use the trolls as slow helpers within the gorge. If they stay away from the gorge and the garden, they will slowly turn into destructive maniacs, loosing their substance as they fade away like sand tossed into a tempest. With substantial effort, the trolls can be persuaded to leave their beloved gorge behind and leave for the garden, as The Great Vine tries to detach the gardens from the space station.

The Baths

Some of the reactor heat is used for the famous baths at the bottom of the gorge. The baths have been modeled after natural caves back on earth: Stalagmites and stalactites, big pools of steaming water, spot lights shining into the vapors, the sound of water falling and gurgling is everywhere. Here, too, the water presents a grave danger to normal robots. There are small, silvery fish living in the warm water. They are fed by some machinery hidden beneath rocky ledges.

Usually robots will not approach the water. If they do, their appendages in contact with water will short-circuit within a few minutes, rendering the robots immobile. Gravity is about 1.2g down here, making movement on the slippery rocks all the more difficult. Anybody able to swim has no problems moving in the water.

The medical unit is close to the gorge’s elevator exit. Right on the other side of the elevator door, behind a glass wall, is the service room. This is a huge room with about 10’000 lockers, laundry service, a free supply of clean towels, inflatable mattresses, life savers, and a bar serving fancy drinks. Five service robots work down here, cleaning the room, helping any guests (obviously, there probably aren’t any guests down here now, other than the PCs), serving cocktails and handing out maps for the caves. They are helpful, but simple. Too simple to understand anything beyond the work they are doing: The Computer cannot use them to harass the PCs.

Denizens from the Gorge

The baths are patrolled by hover bots from the gorge. Sometimes the trolls come down here to soak in hot water, standing immobile in the middle of a hot pool for an hour or two, as if they were gargoyles.

The Tentacle Thing

There are rumors about a dark Tentacle Thing living down here. The Tentacle Thing lives hidden in a cave in a dark pool, catching some of the hot-water fish living in the baths with its 40m long arms. It will not attack humanoids, although a light touch by a thick, black, slimy tentacle in the bath’s half-light ought to be enough to scare any hero. The Tentacle Thing has been left alone because it’s existence has never been quite confirmed, it is obviously not dangerous, and the guests relished the idea of a dark monster lurking somewhere in the shadows, just out of sight.

The Eye

The Eye is a zero-gravity hall with a transparent dome at the top of the gorge. As Io III rotates pretty fast, the view from the Eye is usually just a blur of stars. The Eye points away from the sun. The Eye contains a rather large zero-gravity bar: pressurized bottles, little plastic drinking bags, party equipment such as garlands, ropes, water pistols, a very powerful media tower, and zero gravity bathrooms behind the bar.

Drinks, robes, and other party gadgets can be used to slow down and irritate any patrols. There will be enough massive equipment to wrench loose to allow the PCs to bombard any patrols climbing or hovering up after them.

Multimedia Tower

Several robots are stored behind the counter, controlled by the media tower. The media tower has incredible unused capacities when it is not running any multimedia shows. It is very bored, too, because The Computer has terminated several strategy games and interesting models on cultural evolution. The media tower can protect the PCs from The Computer in certain situations, by spying on The Computer or confusing it (assume great willpower if it is opposing The Computer). It will be glad to help, bored as it is. The media tower will not, however, tolerate any damage done to the Eye! Should the PCs demolish anything, the tower will try its best to clear the PCs out of the Eye and alert The Computer. The media tower is on very good terms with the dolphin artistes in the pressure dome, and a personal friend and admirer of Fju Tji Ai Trrk Tk.

Personnel

There are three robot waiters in storage behind the counter (good strength, great agility, poor willpower, no magic). They are first aid experts and excellent martial artists. They will try not to hurt anybody when engaging in fights. There is a jazz band hidden in the floor (all attributes terrible). They play nice jazz though, if controlled by the media tower. It is made up of four androids, Gryphon four on the piano, Big Lungs Urgh on the tenor saxophone, Bill Evans at the bass and João Erva at the drums.

The Garden

When the hatches leading to the garden module open, the heavy odor of tropical flowers and the humidity of the air threatens to suffocate all PCs with a techno-urban background. PCs able to sense rural magic will sense the magic throbbing of the earth blood in the tropical forest rising in front of their eyes up to a height of 140m. The air is filled with a noisy racket of apes and parrots screeching and thousands of little animals scurrying through the underbrush.

There are no cable shafts to the rest of the ship, the garden is rather autonomous. There are large ventilation shafts used to refresh the space station’s air with some of the natural odors produced here, however. The station’s air is recycled in the vats, the garden is not critical to the space station. The garden even has a spare reactor and a miniature, unused star drive. The entire thing was designed to be a detachable, autonomous environment: a giant lifeboat.

Should any robots try to follow the characters into the underbrush, they will entangle themselves hopelessly. Armed robots will be unable to use their weapons, because somehow the robots always stumble in such a way as to fall right on their weapons. On close examination, the robots seem to have entangled themselves in a suspiciously professional way. About half an hour later, moss will start to grow over them.

After a few moments of wandering through the jungle, the PCs will be contacted by The Great Vine, a female PC will be lured away by the centaur Alph and the sylphs will have confused the PCs sense of orientation so that they’ll never find their way back out unless they arrange some deal with The Great Vine or use drastic measures (ie. major damage to the ecosphere).

The Great Vine

The garden is controlled by an intelligent Great Vine. It’s faery magic grants all other animals the gift of pre-rational thought, and it has allowed five winged sylphs (aerial spirit creatures) and a centaur from faery to take up residence in the garden.

The sylphs, the centaur, the animals and The Great Vine can all communicate telepathically with each other: You feel a soft mental touch. Something big, warm, dark and wet, a breathing organism. It is trying to suck you into a black void of motherly care. Somehow you feel reassured and welcome, like a child long lost. You feel the pulsing energies of the jungle around you. You remember the metallic aisles of the space station with pain and hurting feet, tortured ears. You love the dark earth and the bright heavens. You would like to join a flight with all the animals and plants around you—off into faery!

The Great Vine plans to detach the garden from the space station and get closer to faery-space. It’s appendages (vines) are quick and strong, easily entangling and possibly killing (assimilating) any foe (all attributes unbelievable, agility mediocre due to slow movements).

The garden is relatively self sufficient, having it’s own reactors and containing a stable ecosystem. Maneuvering it closer to faery space will increase The Great Vine’s magical powers, corrupting the technological machinery. Faery space will glow in a warm light and have a breathable atmosphere. Soon enough winged ships of faery will appear, bustling with small sylphs and proud elves.

Should the PCs side with The Great Vine and help it to detach the garden from the space station, escaping to faery-space is a possible ending of the adventure. Mutant Al controls the vicinity of the space station with a battery of Schrott-It GF03 space-to-space missiles. It must be deactivated before the space station can detach safely. Don’t forget that Mutant Al might also be induced to switch sides and join The Great Vine—and both Mutant Al and the Great Vine feel this!

The Centaur Alph

A creature of faery, strong and wild, is he. As well as horny as many a man. He’ll try to lure female PCs away from the group by using faery magic. He’ll appear very friendly and comforting, very cute and harmless. He’ll seem to be afraid of the other members of the group, hiding behind the trees. And when he’s alone with the women, he’ll be funny, he’ll entertain her, sing to her, look her into the eyes, swooning her. The GM ought to sing and woo the relevant player! If the female has good willpower or magic, she’ll notice some hidden intention behind this dazzling performance. If her willpower or magic are greater, she’ll see through the illusion act. Alph will remain civil at all times, luring the woman deeper and deeper into the forest, trying to wake the old spirit of lunatic ecstasy within her. The lower her willpower, the sooner he’ll succeed.

Other than that, Alph is a great warrior with his longbow, his heavy spear and his monstrous morning ☆ Let’s show them techno-dudes some real action!! He’ll gladly aid the characters in hunting down robots or sabotaging the main space station. He feels very unconfortable in the techno-environment, and his hooves are very loud in the normal aisles: Say, friends, are you sure we want to go down here? This sucks. I hate this place.

The faery sylphs

The sylphs will try to explore the station on their own, hiding from the PCs. If the PCs are determined to track the sylphs, this should eventually lead them to the garden. Let them talk to The Great Vine before letting the sylphs cooperate with the PCs, unless the PCs need some help, such as freeing themselves from the cryo-coffins in the storage tunnels. Within the garden, these faery creatures will be able to trick and confuse the PCs to no end. Outside of the garden, however, they are much more vulnerable. The sylphs won’t even be able to fly properly! They will be able to jump about 3m. They will still be able to move as quietly as Death himself and blend into the background like a chameleon.

Living Quarters

The Cubes

Literally hundreds of corridors and aisles connect the various quartes to each other and to the dining hall. There are about 3000 cubes, family-sized, couples and singles, housing about 5000 guests. As soon as the PCs start to explore the area, they will loose themselves in the maze of corridors. Usually navigation strips on the floor indicated the path you want to take. They are not lit. If PCs try to activate them, this will alert The Computer.

The aisles are all illuminated with a warm, yellow light. Bright spot lamps shine on green plants in corners and on crossings. A soft, lulling music is playing all the time, repeating itself after about seven minutes.

The cubes are empty. Should they be searched, have the PCs round up an assortment of socks, underwear, stained shirts, laptops, game consoles, glasses and toys such as cars, space-ships, dolls, weird polymer gels which only five-year olds know how to use, etc.

The Dining Hall

The hall is very big, filled with hedges and trees. There are about 500 tables with about 4000 seats spread all over this huge garden. Within the bushes, cameras watch the tables. Usually, these cameras try to divine the guests’ wishes, but now they are used by The Computer to make sure the guests keep quiet. A few bowers hide exists for the kitchen tunnels. The kitchen and the short-term food stores are below the hall and can be reached through any of these exists, or from the appropriate elevator station.

A great portal leads to the Meditation Orb. Wide steps on either side of the portal lead up to terraces with further tables and benches. There, small stone walls, rose bushes, and artificial ruins overgrown with moss or vines used to provide the background for prolonged dinners by torch light. At least twenty or thirty doors lead from the terraces to the cubes. The wall facing the great portal is an artificial rock wall glistening with moisture and overgrown with moss and fern.

The Caverns

Several caverns loose themselves in the darkness—the lights have been switched off, since the Computer doesn’t want any guests to leave the dining hall. The little maze is about 50m long and contains exits back to the hall, two entrances to the kitchen below the hall, two access tunnels to the elevator station, four different exits leading to beautiful views in the gorge, an exit to the gym, and a tunnel to the garden.

The Guests

Nearly all the guests of the station have been collected in the hall and are being fed and entertained. The fate reserved for them by The Computer is unknown. I think this is the best way to create suspense for the players—let their imagination do the job. Try to reinforce the PCs’ ideas by appropriate events. Should you overhear your players talking about possible genetic experiments, have some med units appear collecting tissue samples for some experiments in the vats, should the players fear summary execution, have some robots lead a few trouble makers away, never to be seen again. In the end, make up a solution consistent with all your hints and suiting your players’ taste.

Theodore Urban

The ex-archimage of the Pre-Rational Order of the Seven Serpents, keeper of the seven Lunar Rings and author of Electromagnetic Waves - Magical Energies: A Dialectic Introduction and of The Time-Space-Thought Continuum is aboard Io III, incognito. He is easily recognized by magic adept, however, on behalf of his humongous white beard and his piercing grey eyes. Theodore Urban is a powerful conjurer from Luna, heavily influenced by his scientific education: a successful Alchemist, a charismatic personality, and one of the most headstrong people in the solar system (strength terrible, agility poor, willpower unbelievable, magic legendary). His specialty is transmogrification, the changing of one substance into another—lead into gold, iron into dung, air into thick smoke. He will help the PCs, if they ask him, but he won’t use this ability to kill or destroy: I knew it—the techno-mongers will junk the entire solar system with their stupid metal junk controlled by stupid silicon junk!

The Meditation Orb

The Meditation Orb is a black sphere half buried in the hall’s floor, measuring about 30m across and about 20m high. It can be reached from the hall through the great portal. Whenever people approach and appear to wait, the top of the orb will slowly lift on hydraulic feet and reveal a bright white interior. The high priest Alexander will welcome the PCs, if they seem disturbed, and offer spiritual guidance: Can I help you, brothers and sisters? We are all one before the great mystery of It.

If possible, the priest will close the orb again if the PCs are pursued. The orb can activate a stasis field and keep it up for about thirty years if the PCs agree to enter stasis, too. If the stasis field must not encompass the PCs, the field can be kept up for about twelve hours. The high priest can offer practically no help, since he won’t leave the orb, doesn’t have any skills beyond his psycho-social training, and cannot communicate with The Computer. He will be able to mobilize some strong believers among the guests in the hall, including the ex-archimage Theodore Urban.

The interior of the orb is empty. The orb is controlled by a religious circuit provided by the Ionian guru Theshma Nigel II, the leader of a powerful group of believers searching for enlightenment through meditation. As promoters of peace and silence they are having quite a positive (calming) effect on their believers: Don’t worry, you are perfectly safe, here.

The rituals of Theshma Nigel’s believers take place in stasis orbs such as the one here. These orbs are designed to offer the members of the group protection in dangerous times. This is why the orb is equipped with one of the most sophisticated stasis fields available. The orb’s religious circuit is keyed to the very calm and peaceful voice of the high priest.

The Beach and the Pressure Dome

On the other side of the ring, below the bridge, lies the pressure dome. This dome contains a large seawater basin, and a beach about 1km long around it. The sand soon turns into a coral reef, and after about 30m, the basin’s depth drops rapidly to more than 200m. Gravity at the water level is about 1.4g, due to the increased distance from the Eye (900m). Gravity at the bottom of the basin reaches nearly 1.8g. There, the pressure corresponds to a water depth of nearly 400m on Earth.

A few palm trees grow on the beach; some seagulls, parrots and a few monkeys live here. The sand is ground from asteroids and colored white. Bright neon floodlights illuminate the pressure dome and the beach. The elevator from the ring ends at the top of the pressure dome. From there, a long walkway spirals down to the level of the beach.

There is a small wooden cabin on the beach, close to the end of the walkway. It is closed. If the PCs knock, a deep, friendly voice states that the cabin contains maintenance equipment. Should the PCs persist, a Bob-saves-U 1.01 lifeguard robot opens the door and offers to open a com-link to The Computer. The rest of the cabin contains a medical unit: a large sarcophagus filled with a milky-white fluid, a big tower on the right, little monitors, bright spot lights, tubes and several robot arms with medical appendages. The large medical unit is the reason for the rather large entrance to the cable shafts hidden under the metallic grid covering the floor.

There are two cameras installed above the small wooden cabin. The images are usually not conveyed to The Computer. Whenever a shape stays under water for too long, however, the Bob-saves-U 1.01 lifeguard robot is activated in the cabin, runs into the water and saves the drowning victim. The cabin’s medical unit powers up and starts to reanimate the victim. The Computer will be notified of this emergency.

The Pressure dome houses intelligent, non-humanoid life forms: Whales and dolphins. They have net terminals below the water surface at three points within the basin. At the moment they are a bit frustrated because of their inability to leave the water.

Chiuuu Ftz Tk

This whale is a renown holistic social psychiatrist. His therapeutic three-point program consisting of communication, play and xenomorphic interactions has revolutionized the field of social reintegration. He usually works in orbital stations, since this gives him the technical equipment needed for his research. Chiuuu Ftz Tk visits Earth occasionally. He has no interest to leave the space station and would like to go back to business as usual as fast as possible.

Fju Tji Ai Trrk Tk

The former resident of the state of waterside New Venice, Italy, Earth, has emigrated in order to help the dolphin colonization effort among Saturn’s rings. Renown media artists, dolphins have a strong tradition in the entertainment business, especially with hypno-music and remixing. Fju Tji Ai Trrk Tk is one of these high-tech media artists, and a good friend of the multi media tower in the Eye. DJ Pjaa Tchick is currently quite a success in the dolphin indie charts, using recordings of different mammal wombs in his trance music. Sending this music over Io III’s audio system might calm the inhabitants a bit. Fju Tji Ai Trrk Tk knows how to do this with the help of the multi media tower.

Industrial Areas

The Gym

The gym is a 500m long module running along the space station’s rim from the cubes to the vats. It is filled with various torture implements usually found in gyms. The artificial fresh and healthy perfumes of all major deodorant brands hangs in the hair.

Whatever object the PCs try to find—if it’s something often found in gyms, it’ll be here. There are large storage rooms along the outer rim of the gym full with all sorts of balls, bats, nets, robots, etc. Should the PCs want a game set up, one of the robots will be activated to do the job. Unfortunately this will also alert the Computer. Possibilities include throwing balls at the robots, entangling them in nets, etc.

The Gym could be a major source of gadgets to build traps.

The Vats

This area of the Io III space station is where the air and water is recycled, and where the food is grown. Everything is performed by a host of bacteria and algae living in the vats. Those are long, shallow basins filled with green or brown slime and water. Some of the basins are covered with glass and gases are bubbling through the mixture. Tubes seem to connect every basin to every other basin in this area. There are elevated aisles running above the vats, there are large, pressurized tanks hanging under the ceiling, connected to the vats by cables and tubes, there are ovens, where brown jelly moves in on one side, and roasted brown jelly comes out the other side, where it is cut into nice, hamburger-like pieces.

All of this is illuminated by fluorescent tubes distributed throughout the area. Their light is focused onto the vats, in order to provide the algae with as much light as possible. The aisles themselves are not illuminated. A lot of dark nooks and recesses are shrouded in shadows, making it difficult to hear; the constant gurgling, smacking and slushing of the slime makes it difficult to hear; and, obviously, the stench of the entire thing is simply overwhelming.

This is the ideal environment for surprise attacks, persecution by terrible Aliens or running into other, nervous and trigger-happy factions.

Spider-Thorn 3 models

There are three Spider-Thorn death-hunter models down here in the vats. They have long metallic legs, several mobile steel blades 2m long, a grenade launcher fitted with a glue slingshot, an unused Gatling gun, two long-distance motion detectors, as well as four short-range IR detectors (detecting any living organism or recently active piece of machinery). If the PCs are moving slowly through the vats, they’ll hear the occasional metallic clink—the robots’ metallic feet gripping some tube or setting onto the metallic grid of the aisles. The robots will try to maneuver themselves into a position where they can surprise the PCs in a tight corner. There, they’ll use their glue slingshot to immobilize their victims and kill them using their blades. The Gatling gun will not be used inside the vats, since the damage done would be extraordinary. Nevertheless, the detailed description of the Gatling gun pointed at the PCs might instill some respect for the death-hunters.

The Zero Gravity Storage Tunnels

The long, wide tunnel is filled will gray containers. Each container has a little numberpad and a small LCD screen. Typing in the correct code will override The Computer’s control over the locks. Without the codes, it is impossible to determine the contents of the containers. The codes are lost somewhere in The Computer’s old memory blocks. Finding them would be an unbelievably difficult task. Opening a container will immediately alert the Computer. The containers hold expensive, natural food (meat, vegetables, fruit), or spare parts for the diverse machines aboard the space station.

There are some cryo-coffins here, empty—unless some PCs have been taken prisoners, in which case the PCs might already be down here in some of the coffins. Usually these would be used to store people with life-threatening wounds that cannot be healed, until help arrives. At the moment there is nobody with such grievous wounds down here. Putting an old acquaintance down here might be a possibility for the GM.

The Star Drive, Space Port, Fusion Reactors

The star drive is located behind the Eye, compensating the space station’s rotation in order to allow decent navigation. Amongst the structures stabilized this way are the fuel tanks, the water and gas tanks, the space port including the large hatches, the hangar with the automated repair bots, and the Welcome-to-Io-III booth. The star drive is only accessible from the outside. This is the usual way of construction non-military vessel—access from the inside increases risks of sabotage and mechanical damage by fire fights within the vessel.

There are three fusion reactors on Io III. The first and largest reactor is part of the star drive, and thus only accessible from the outside. The main reactor lies below the baths. The garden has its own spare reactor. All the reactors are locked with security hatches. These hatches have extra reinforcements, can withstand enormous amounts of damage and will only open for authorized personnel. The way to get such an authorization is either via The Computer or by hacking a maintenance card included in the station’s robots. See also the description of the elevator in the gorge describing access to the main reactor.

The Bridge

Mutant Al is in control of this area. He has a few nasty surprises ready for the PCs, should he know of their coming. Since he is a telepath and The Computer’s friend, it will be difficult to trick Mutant Al.

A maintenance shaft connects the bridge to the the Eye and to the the pressure dome. The shaft has movement detectors distributed all over it’s length. Wherever movement is detected, lights will turn on and The Computer will be alerted. This can be avoided by PCs with great computer or infiltration skills.

The door to the bridge is rigged: Should anybody try to open it, a high-pressure X05 In-Flagranti glue-unit explodes and fills the shaft to a height of 7m with a polymer net. The polymer net hardens within a fraction of a second, immobilizing anybody caught. Characters with legendary reactions and the means to leave within a fraction of a second (such as using the superpower Jump), can do this, breaking the semi-hardened glue around him and incurring a few scratches. All other characters struggling or trying to speak will cause the polymer net to contract, strangling them within half a minute. Characters with legendary strength can break the entire net as soon as it has hardened. This will cause a few scratches, and it will free everybody caught.

Should this trap go off, Mutant Al will have the door opened by robots equipped with med kits. The PCs will be sedated and carried of into the storage tunnels. There, the PCs will be prepared for cryo-storage (cold sleep). Should the robots remain unmolested (by other factions landing on the station or by any friends the PCs have made), each PC will be stored in a cryo-coffin. The PCs can be freed again by any faction on Io III, unless that faction knows and loathes the PCs.

When the PCs manage to enter the bridge, the four Tron-Z units present will engage them, and Mutant Al will activate the Harm+ defense unit.

Mutant Al will try to hold the bridge, using his robots to fight the PCs. Should the fight turn against him, he’ll flee into the programming lounge, locking the door.

The Programming Lounge

The room is empty except for four large, luxurious seats, one very big and several small monitors. Usually this room would be alight with a chandelier hanging from the ceiling; at the moment it is dark. Note the food and drink synthesizer across the aisle. Programming is done by arguing with CPU, drinking coffee, and eating quiche.

If Mutant Al has locked himself in the programming lounge with his one-time-pad override, it’ll take a legendary hacker to unlock the door within a few minutes. A great hacker might be able to unlock the door in twelve hours. Mutant Al will try to reprogram The Computer as soon as possible. First, he’ll start to peel away the security layers. This will allow other hackers, such as the CHAOS hackers, to break into the system. At the same time, Mutant Al will be able to take over the life support system. Even though most of the rooms have autonomous life support systems (for cases just like this one!), this can turn very ugly: Power failures disrupting local computer systems, subtle shifts in atmosphere composition causing troubling skin irritations, malfunctioning of the thermo-regulation, causing some rooms to get as hot as 42°C, other rooms as cold as 5°C.

In order to stop him, the PCs must either blast their way into the lounge or find a diplomatic solution. Mutant Al wants the assurance of safe passage into the rings of Saturn and twelve salaries in advance. It is the PCs responsibility to find suitable assurances for Mutant Al. Since Mutant Al is basically an honest man, he’ll keep his word.

Once inside the programming lounge, determined PCs might decide to cut through the wall to the CPU’s room. This should be possible; it will, however, result in major malfunctioning: Flashing lights, sirens, drinking songs by the crazy CPU, an evacuation being announced, the launching of life boats—major mayhem! Hell will break loose and it will not stop. See the list of possible encounters.

There are no cable shafts leading to this room, since it shares a wall with the CPU’s room. The walls of the room are practically made from cables.

The CPU

Getting into the CPU’s room should be the hardest part in the adventure: The CPU might let the PCs in, either because they have tricked the CPU into believing that something needs repair and they are the ones qualified to do it, or because they have cut their way through one of the walls, or because they have freed Gregor Idahoe, who started to disable some of the CPU’s controls, or because of any other reason the PCs came up with. In any case, be sure to make it worth your time. If they’re done with the CPU, that’s the end of the current gaming session.

The PCs have found the CPU! This is it! Here the PCs shall find instant gratification: The Almighty RESET-Button, the all-powerful Red Button of instant reboot.

The PCs are, however, not quite there. As they approach The Red Button, a suave, friendly and helpful voice says: Just a second, I’ve got something for you. It’s quite well known, actually, and then he quotes the following riddle:

He who makes it needs it not
He who buys it wants it not
He who uses it feels it not 

As soon as he has finished, the emergency hatch closes and noxious fumes fill the room. There are three possibilities to reach The Red Button in time: great speed, great self-discipline, or a gas mask. The PCs will faint in either case. If they made it, they’ll wake in the CPU, tended by a medical bot scuttling about nervously. If they didn’t, they’ll wake in cryo-coffins (cold-sleep coffins for long-term storage of humanoids)just as the cold begins to seep in. The coffins are down in the zero gravity storage tunnels. If a PC has great strength, he might break free. If the PCs managed to find some allies in their fight against The Computer, these friends might find the PCs after a day or two.

The CPU itself is a large block with thousands of buttons, blinking lights, humming and drumming in the darkness. The room is monitored by three cameras and several microphones. Taking the CPU apart would take several hours. If anybody actually undertakes this and has the necessary skills and tools, he deserves to find fifteen little gnomes running the thing, all of them in a state of utter panic. Have some fun!

Combat stats

The following attributes and short descriptions should characterize all monsters and NPCs. This information should be enough material to decide upon their actions during combat.

Clean-o-bot

Attributes: terrible strength, terrible agility, terrible willpower, terrible magic

These small barrels on wheel have a few blinking lights on their top, two cameras looking at the ground in front of them and two arms equipped with brooms and garbage collectors. They can send out a distress signal to Thorr units in the surroundings. This happens whenever they witness the destruction of Io III infrastructure. If dismantled by a proficient person, a maintenance card can be found inside. The maintenance allows access to restricted areas. Clean-o-bots use no weapons.

Thorr

Attributes: good strength, poor agility, good willpower, no magic

These are humanoid robots designed to contain human mobs. They can zap people three times by touching them (scratches). After three high voltage zaps, Thorr units must reload their capacitors before attempting to zap anybody again. Zaps are not very effective against metallic objects such as other robots. If seriously threatened, Thorr units will produce a 5m metallic whip (scratches) to defend themselves. They will also call for more support or retreat if outmatched. If necessary, Thorr units may use slug guns shooting plastic ammunition (light wounds).

Zap Drone

Attributes: terrible strength, good agility, normal willpower, no magic

These hovering sphere are the size of a big troll-head. They can fly quite fast and use a red to zap people (scratches). Using the laser, they try to herd stray passengers back towards the assembly points.

Wicked Beetle

Attributes: legendary strength, terrible agility, legendary willpower, no magic

These yellow construction robots are used to carry and manipulate heavy materials. They are more than 2.5m high and weigh more than 2t. They are remote controlled by The Computer. They have to very strong arms with two very heavy fists on them—and they’ll use this fists if necessary (heavy wounds)! The safest thing to do for ordinary humans is to run away. WickedBeetles cannot run.

UR-friend Bob 01 (NPC)

Attributes: great strength, great agility, great willpower, no magic

A humanoid robot specialized in psychology and tactics. It uses no weapons; instead, it coordinates the actions of Thorr units, communicates with The Computer, and tries to manipulate people into doing what he wants them to do. This is difficult to play, if you cannot outwit your players as a GM, you’ll have to use Bob’s smooth-talking skill like a magic spell—if the player’s willpower is less than great, Bob will convince them of his point of view. The Computer

Attributes: unbelievable willpower

Daisy

Attributes: normal strength, great agility, great willpower, no magic

The intelligent duck is a special agent used to rough conditions. She’s trained in unarmed combat, she’s a sharpshooter, and she’s used to fighting on her own. Her sharp tongue has earned her no additional friends. In combat, she’ll use a stun-gun (light wounds, disappear after half an hour) or a glue slingshot (immobilize target on a heavy hit).

Anarcho Tom

Attributes: normal strength, normal agility, great willpower, no magic

Anarcho Tom is a hacker specializing in confusing big AIs until they break up into smaller entities. These AI entities will compete for hardware resources, freeing him to claim some for him and his friends. If threatened, Tom might try to pull an old Colt from his belt and start shooting. Unfortunately, his aim is only average.

Mutant Al

Attributes: normal strength, normal agility, great willpower, no magic

Gregor Idahoe

Attributes: normal strength, normal agility, great willpower, no magic

Idahoe used to be the hacker in control of The Computer. This is no longer true, as The Computer has gained willpower of its own.

The Great Vine

Attributes: great strength, great agility, unbelievable willpower, great magic

Centaur Alph

Attributes: great strength, great agility, good willpower, poor magic

He enchants women, confuses the unwary and charms all; uses long-bow, spear and morning star; magic fades around technology.

Sylphs

Attributes: terrible strength, great agility, good willpower, good magic

They confuse all, flying, near invisibility, cursing; no weapons; magic fades around technology.

All the Rules You Need to Know

Use any rule-system you like to play the game. For those interested, here is a shortened translation of the diceless Grofzg rules. Grofzg is inspired by Fudge.

Attributes

All characters have four attributes: strength, agility, willpower, and magic, rated as follows:

Category Value Description
Child 1 terrible
Adolescent 2 poor
Grownup 3 normal
Adventurer 4 good
Professional 5 great
Master 6 unbelievable
Hero 7 legendary

Use the original FUDGE terms if you like. Use strength for brawling and smashing, agility for dodging and climbing, willpower for convincing and haggling, and magic for any supernatural powers and spell casting.

When new characters are generated, players write up a background for their character and distribute twelve points among the four attributes. This gives them good attributes, on average.

Action resolution

If the result of an action is to be judged by the game master (GM), she should take the following factors into account:

Routine: Whenever things are attempted that the characters have already done several times, they succeed.

Attributes: In an contest between two people, the one with the better relevant attribute wins; if the characters attempt a non-trivial action, they succeed if their attribute matches or exceeds the difficulty assigned by the GM.

Drama: Whenever certain results tends to increase drama, these should be favored.

Combat

Each combat round all the players state what their PCs will attempt to do. Based on this and all other relevant known facts, the GM decides upon an outcome of the combat round. Should the GM decree that somebody has been wounded, that person should take note of the wounds in a diagram similar to the one below:

Wound: scratches light severe threatening deadly
☐ ☐ ☐
Penalty: none -1 -2 no actions possible

If there are no more boxes left to mark at a certain severity, a box of a more severe level should be marked with an H. A few minutes after combat, all scratches and all wounds marked with an H disappear. The remaining wounds must be treated by a medical unit for half a week in order to reduce the severity by one level. Magic can heal such wounds at one level of severity per day.

Rewards

At any point during a session, the GM may give characters luck points for entertaining or heroic feats. Characters can use these luck points at any time to determine the outcome of an action.

After several sessions, the GM may allow his players one point to spend on attributes.

References

Comments


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