APAGear II Archives Volume 2, Number 4 May, 2000


Diving Dreams

Janne Kemppi

Terra Nova is usually seen as a desert planet. This is, however, a false assumption. The equatorial Badlands are typically desert and rock but the climate is considerably milder closer to Polar regions where most of the habitation exists. These polar regions host also a smattering of small seas. Terra Novan seas are tiny compared to huge oceans of Earth, so diving should be relatively easy in most coastal areas of Terra Nova. This makes marine related work far easier than in the Earth, where ocean depth can reach over 11 kilometers.

Oceans are very difficult and dangerous places to work. Sea and water cause corrosion that harms equipment. Moisture plays havoc with electronic equipment. Weather is a major player because no amount of engineering has managed to build a totally safe vessel. Terra Novan weather patterns are very unpredictable making it possible to be surprised by bad weather. The rapidly changing weather patterns could also have effect on such 'regular' natural phenomena such as tidal waves and currents.

Despite the risks involved, humans work in the sea. There are valuable minerals and oil and natural gas beneath the sea. Usually this work requires a stable platform. This can stand in pillars at shallow waters or float anchored when water depth is more than pillars can be economically built. The connection between these work platforms and land is usually done with ships or aircraft. Various work platforms should therefor be relatively common sight in Terra Novan oceans. More developed undersea constructions could be placed directly on the bottom of the ocean. These kinds of installations are probably very rare in Terra Nova due small size of oceans and huge cost involved.

Accidents happen. This could mean losing some extremely valuable asset that should be salvaged or rebuild. Examples of highly valuable assets are lost nuclear weapons (military interests) or damaged oil pipes and underwater telecommunication lines (commercial interests). Repairs can usually be done with divers and small submarines but actual salvaging (picking something and rising it to surface) always requires very heavy equipment. Really large objects such as ships can be done because the technology needed to rise minerals from the ocean could be used to salvaging as well.

Interesting adventure could be built around premise of salvaging. Prospective GM should introduce some object or matter so valuable or interesting that there is interest to come out with the money to salvage it. Number of adventuring possibilities could be built around salvaging. Salvaging missions are huge and have roles for many different character types.

Romance of the Sea: Heavy Gear campaigns do not always need to be about death and destruction on the desert battlefield. The real history of sailing and diving has its own tales of dangers and wonders as well. Characters could take part into a salvage mission as an interlude to war. Theme in this kind of adventure should be exploration. Characters could encounter new marine life and natural dangers. Additional pressure could be presented if there is accident or equipment malfunction that forces the characters to mount a rapid (and risky) rescue mission or save their own lives.

An example for such adventure could be built around a search and salvage of a commercial ship or repairing a underwater cable broken at several places.

The Duel: Heavy Gear world setting typically pits two sides against each other. Both North and South are highly suspicious to each other. Salvaging a piece of technology belonging to other could present a windfall of new technology or hints on defeating enemies. This provides high incentive to hunt for equipment left behind by the other side. This kind of mission is usually highly dangerous to each other as both sides could use military force to defeat each other. The hindering of work could differ from heavy use of military force such as naval assets and aircraft to more surgical methods like elite military unit raids.

An example of such an adventure would be salvaging a highly important piece of technology such as a military satellite belonging to other side. Assuming the satellite has some highly important piece of data the interest towards satellite could be even more. The data and satellite could also be in different places to increase the difficulty. When one side is mounting the expedition the other side is sending its own elite military force to prevent this while their own expedition works there as well.

Hidden Enemy: The antagonist in a competitive campaign does not need to be overt. A subtle approach often provides more excitement. Because the equipment is so important to undersea work, sabotage is very serious. Accidents and sabotage could easily turn everyone in the expedition suspicious to each other. If there are reasons to believe that the group is not told everything the paranoia comes easy and drastic action usually follows. This kind of campaign is closer to detective work than diving. There should be plenty of false leads as well.

Such an adventure could be built around military or intelligence related work. The military satellite could be used here as a plan as well. Threat of enemy special forces is lurking around and there should be a mole in the expedition. The amount of overt violence should be limited but the problems and threats should be close whenever the work continues.

Treasure Hunters: Greed is a powerful motivation to do dangerous work. Characters could be introduced to expedition due high rewards in the end. This kind of work could be simply overcoming the natural obstacles and getting the loot or dealing with other treasure hunters. This kind of adventure could be a logical outgrowth of existing campaign where characters have learned of valuable material.

The loot is on the sea (for example in a sunken vessel) and an expedition is needed to find it. The antagonists in the adventure could be other treasure hunters or possibly the actual owners of the loot who want to beat characters in salvaging it. This kind of competition can be friendly or very fierce.

Added interest could be introduced by making both sides work on a shoe string budget. Decisions should be very carefully made in such situations as losing any piece of equipment could make continuing very risky.

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APAGear II Archives Volume 2, Number 4 May, 2000