[Venus] Building "The Shack"

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Jürgen Hubert Jürgen Hubert's picture
[Venus] Building "The Shack"

I'm currently running an Eclipse Phase one-shot which may or may not result in an actual campaign if the players like the game. As time for preparation was short, the players settled on the pregenerated characters from the Core Rules (the Extropian Smuggler, Lunar Ego-Hunter, and Ultimate Mercenary, respectively). Unfortunately, the time for me to prepare the actual adventure was short as well - we had only decided on doing this five days in advance, and I realized that I had forgotten how many of the game's subsystems worked since I last read it (which was last year...). Thus, the first part of the adventure was very hastily improvised. I'd like to do better for the next part, which we will play on Monday and which will take place on the Venusian habitat "The Shack". For this, I want to work out the habitat in a bit more detail - hence this thread. Basically, I will just post my ideas and plans as they come to me, and you can give me your thoughts and feedback.

But first, some information on what happened so far:

The adventure started on the Venusian orbital habitat "Gerlach", where the Extropian Smuggler (the leader of the cell) was contacted by his router and informed of a disturbing new local development: A new form of petals named "Sun Dreams" was making the rounds on the habitat which included fragments that strongly hinted of basilisk hacks - and in the last few weeks, those "fragments" were becoming more pronounced. Firewall thus had concluded that someone was trying to spread basilisk hacks via petals, and understandably they wanted this stopped with extreme prejudice.

After some digging, they discovered that a local representative named Natasha Wei of the Night Cartel, with whom the Smuggler had done business before, was selling these petals - quite openly, too, as petals aren't actually illegal on Gerlach (thanks to the habitat's strong Extropian/Libertarian leanings). They met her (ignoring the Mercenary's suggestion that they should just kill her, as she probably had been infected) and informed her of the Basilisk Hack elements - which were a surprise to her, but they managed to give her some second thoughts about her wares. She didn't tell them who her supplier was (she only said that she "had to make some phone calls"), but after some covert surveillance of her managed to track her source down - a local petal design company named "Power Flower, Inc." They kidnapped the CEO and sufficiently intimidated him into cooperation (the "Suggestion" psi-sleight also helped...). They learned that the petal was the work of a new employee of the company named "Manuel Canado" who had recently moved here from The Shack, a "real workaholic". The CEO in tow, they went to the company facilities where they jumped him and the Mercenary managed to take him out of action with a shock glove - but not before Canado managed to hurl a weird "gravitic wave" (a psi-epsilon power...) at him which missed the Mercenary but seriously damaged the ceiling. Unfortunately, they don't manage to switch off Canado's mesh connection quite quickly enough to prevent him from warning his "friends"...

Then the Lunar Ego Hunter decided to delve into Canado's mind to get some answers. Unfortunately, Canado was an Exurgent transformed by the Haunting Virus (which later led to "Never do a mind meld without condoms!" jokes)! Before the connection was broken, he has the following vision:

He is in the basement of a very old house - a 21st or 20th century upper-class house on Earth. He then goes up into the second floor and passes through the master bedroom, where a "middle-aged" couple lies in the bed with their throats slit. Then he goes further upstairs and comes to a window.

He looks through it at the sky. There he beholds a vast creature in the shape of a slightly rounded cylinder with stubby protrusions "swimming" in the sky, though he can barely behold it because it moves before a vast sort of some sort of "radiance" - like trying to look at some object in the direction of the sun, only larger and with a color of "dark orange". He has an intense sense of imminent revelation - but then he manages to break the vision off.

(Basically, I had this vision in a nightmare two nights before, and thought that this imagery was too good not to use...)

He is understandably rattled, and not able to describe what he saw coherently - so they decide just to take his data, kill the guy, and retrieve his cortical stack for Firewall analysis. They are also nervous about possible Exurgent infection of the Ego Hunter (well, the Ego Hunter was nervous - the Mercenary kept making suggestions about "reverting to an earlier backup"...). But some conferences with their router later and a through brainscan by a competent friendly psychosurgeon they determine that the Ego Hunter is not infected after all... probably, but with all the mutations of the Exurgent virus popping up all the time, who can really know for sure? (The Smuggler is given "instructions" in case the analysis is wrong). Their router also determines that they should proceed to The Shack with all possible speed and eliminate the problem at the source, wherever that "source" might be, while a cleanup crew descends on Gerlach to figure out if anyone has actually been infected by the Haunting Virus via the petals, and eliminate them...

So what awaits them on The Shack? Well, I haven't come up with too many details yet, but Conado wasn't the original exhuman. The infection spread via (non-petal) Basilisk Hack over a private simulspace called "Endless Skies" which was originally created by bored programmers and technicians on the habitat to pass the time. So far has operated on "invitation only" principles to help keep the secret. There is an inner core of infected exurgents running the show, but most members of the simulspace have been infected with the Haunting Virus and have developed psi powers.

And now they know that someone has come after Canado - and that possibly their secret is out as well. Their priorities will now shift to stopping those who have discovered them, spreading the basilisk hack, and if all else is lost, create as much mayhem on the habitat as possible, perhaps even wrecking it entirely (which would of course be a huge setback to Venus in general and the Morningstar Consortium in particular, as it's the only habitat on Venus capable of creating more areostats). It's the task of the PCs to stop all this before it all goes out of control. But can they pull this off?

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Jürgen Hubert Jürgen Hubert's picture
Re: [Venus] Building "The Shack"

After all this introductory stuff, on to the actual habitat. I want to create a number of prominent locations which the PCs might visit and have interesting scenes in (fight scenes or otherwise). Among these, vital infrastructure will be prominent for the exurgents' sabotage, but other locations that provide some local color and introduce local contacts will be useful as well.

Furthermore, I want to create a plan of the overall layout of the station (using Inkscape as my graphics program of choice). Details will be added tomorrow (it is getting late over here), but here is a very rough drawing of the main elements:

The round part in the middle is the actual inhabited aerostat. The hexagon around it are where the landing platforms for shuttles and jets as well as the docking bays for airships are located. Surrounding the central aerostat are the six construction platforms where new areostats are built. For size comparison, the connecting struts between the center and the construction platforms have a length of about 400 meters (as mentioned in "Sunward").

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Jürgen Hubert Jürgen Hubert's picture
Re: [Venus] Building "The Shack"

Some further ideas:

- As not all of the construction platforms are in use - in fact, only two of them are in use right now - the habitat needs some way to balance itself. For this purpose, it has enormous water tanks near the end of the connection struts. Water can be pumped into or out of these tanks to balance the mass - or absence thereof - in the other platforms. Additionally, the walls of the tanks are transparent, and numerous Earth fish have been put into them. There are walkable observation platforms around the tanks, and they are a favorite place to hang out for the locals.

- As several of the construction platforms are empty at any one time, the locals had to figure out what to do with some gigantic, air-filled places which are larger than normal Venusian aerostats. Simply closing them off would be a waste, so some lightweight, temporary constructions are placed into them which can be quickly disassembled and stored elsewhere in case the construction platform is needed for actual construction work (nevertheless, it is always a minor local political issue which platform to use for the next construction, as of course nobody wants their pet project closed down first...).

Possible uses for the platforms I have come up with are:

- "Hanging Gardens" - gardens are placed on lightweight platforms and connected with high-tech ropes to the larger construction platform itself and with each other. Suspension bridges connect between the gardens. Some of the gardens are essentially parkland, while others are used for agriculture.
- A "tent city" where much of the local counterculture can be found - also on platforms like the Hanging Gardens, but shacks and tents fill it. This is used by people who want to get away from the more claustrophobic atmosphere of the main habitat (and the view here is truly spectacular), and the general atmosphere is a mixture of Woodstock and a bazaar.

Any other suggestions?

Oh, and what would the weapon laws be on the Habitat as a whole? This is of course highly relevant to the PCs, who will likely want to pack as much ordnance as they can get away with... ;)

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Jürgen Hubert Jürgen Hubert's picture
Re: [Venus] Building "The Shack"

As usual when I can't think of any other ideas for a setting, I'm turning to the random nations generator to come up with some.

For "System of Government" I get Demarchy - that is to say, people are chosen randomly from the citizenry for political offices. This fits in with the Socialist policies of its mayor, and let's say the Hab Council is run this way. I have no idea if this will come up in the game, but it can't hurt to note it.

I skip the "Major Race/Species" category as it's not really appropriate for the habitat, although I will keep in mind that Venus flyer morphs are probably common here thanks to the wide open spaces of the unused construction platforms. "Significant Creatures" is likewise irrelevant, and so is "Cultural Influences", as "Sunward" lists the primary languages of the hab as Hindi, Portugese, and Wu.

With "forms of worship" I get Flower War. In its original form this isn't really conductive, but maybe there is some sort of popular local game where the goal is to capture as many opponents as possible. I'm thinking of an Augmented Reality version of "Killer" - you stalk your opponents through the Hab (except for specific "safe zones") and try to shoot them with entirely simulated weapons. To win, you need to be (a) still "alive" after a certain time period, and (b) have "killed" more players than any of the other survivors. This game, of course, could be a great cover for PCs sneaking around and generally doing covert ops stuff.

In the "Worshiped Entities" section, the first entry that comes up is The Merch. This intrigues me, and I decide that there is some fringe sect encouraging crass consumerism and spending lots of money at their company store - possibly some sort of running gag which got out of control. I then hit on the idea that the new cities being constructed might be named after mythological figures. I browse around the category a bit and decide I like the sounds of Heimdall and Kokopelli.

More later...

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Extrasolar Angel Extrasolar Angel's picture
Re: [Venus] Building "The Shack"

Quote:
- As not all of the construction platforms are in use - in fact, only two of them are in use right now - the habitat needs some way to balance itself. For this purpose, it has enormous water tanks near the end of the connection struts. Water can be pumped into or out of these tanks to balance the mass - or absence thereof - in the other platforms. Additionally, the walls of the tanks are transparent, and numerous Earth fish have been put into them. There are walkable observation platforms around the tanks, and they are a favorite place to hang out for the locals.

Why Earth fish?
Have one tank undergoing a modification to accomodate Europa bio specimens, with current shipment coming soon.
But...are those really lifeforms from Europa-or did somebody sabotage the shipment with TITAN-spawn to inflitrate the base? Idea for an adventure.
Quote:

Oh, and what would the weapon laws be on the Habitat as a whole?

I think similar to weapon laws on Luna mentioned in Sunward.

Raise your hands to the sky and break the chains. With transhumanism we can smash the matriarchy together.

Jürgen Hubert Jürgen Hubert's picture
Re: [Venus] Building "The Shack"

Extrasolar Angel wrote:

Why Earth fish?
Have one tank undergoing a modification to accomodate Europa bio specimens, with current shipment coming soon.
But...are those really lifeforms from Europa-or did somebody sabotage the shipment with TITAN-spawn to inflitrate the base? Idea for an adventure.

Or even better - how about xenofish, cloned from samples brought back by Gatecrashers from the other side of the Pandora Gates?

Another thought - how many floors are those aerostats likely going to have? I was thinking of maybe 300 floors for The Shack, giving it a height close to one kilometer...

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Extrasolar Angel Extrasolar Angel's picture
Re: [Venus] Building "The Shack"

Quote:
Or even better - how about xenofish, cloned from samples brought back by Gatecrashers from the other side of the Pandora Gates?

Why not? Make each tank a different biosphere presenting fish from Europe, Earth, future terraformed Mars(designers probably have something prepared for that already), as well as xeno forms.
Since they are very different species, perhaps cloning is not suitable choice of transport?
Also see The Legacy of Heorot by Larry Niven on long-term troubles with native fauna being interefered with.

As usual the the possibilites for exoforms to mess up the habitat and provide interesting adventures are endless.

Raise your hands to the sky and break the chains. With transhumanism we can smash the matriarchy together.

root root's picture
Re: [Venus] Building "The Shack"

root@Building "The Shack"


Jürgen Hubert wrote:
With "forms of worship" I get Flower War. In its original form this isn't really conductive, but maybe there is some sort of popular local game where the goal is to capture as many opponents as possible. I'm thinking of an Augmented Reality version of "Killer" - you stalk your opponents through the Hab (except for specific "safe zones") and try to shoot them with entirely simulated weapons. To win, you need to be (a) still "alive" after a certain time period, and (b) have "killed" more players than any of the other survivors. This game, of course, could be a great cover for PCs sneaking around and generally doing covert ops stuff.

The main article on the Flower War makes it sound innocuous. Try this link for more on the "why" the Flower War existed.

If there were a group of Ultimates on board who like to play predator, there is no reason not to have them capturing people for later nastiness. This gives the players a chance to heroically save some people, or they get an introduction on why cortical stacks exist and what resleeving is like.

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Jürgen Hubert Jürgen Hubert's picture
Thread necromancy!

More than two years later I've moved to a different city and have a new gaming group... and once again I have another opportunity for running an Eclipse Phase one-shot. So I thought I'd revisit my old ideas - and I am very glad I posted my old notes here, as they would otherwise be lost.

Reading through them the first thing that comes to mind is to add some more connecting struts between the outer hexagons. Apart from that, I'm still thinking this adventure through, starting from its beginning on Gerlach - but feel free to add your own ideas! The adventure (or at least its first part) will start on May 30th (which is a public holiday around here), so I need to get everything in order until then...

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