A prospector is found one morning by a Badlands marshal patrol and taken to the oasis tower of Sydney for treatment. Half-crazed from exposure and dehydration, the prospector rambles incoherently about a hidden underground complex filled with fantastic treasures and remarkable technology. Though the doctors try their best, the prospector is too far gone to be saved and dies by nightfall.
A few days later, citizens begin filing into Sydney's hospital exhibiting a strange illness. Though he passed the tower's quarantine procedures, blood tests on the prospector's body reveal a pathogen that the doctors have never seen before. Further research rules out everything from Terranovan influenza to Montcalm Fever, but one correlation does emerge: the pathogen is oddly familiar to St. Vincent's Plague, a disease that hasn't been see in nearly two hundred cycles!
Faced with an impending disaster, the civic leaders of Sydney summon the marshals and plead with them to retrace the prospector's path and find the underground complex he spoke of on his deathbed. They should at least be able to find enough medical supplies to help combat the disease, and with luck may determine the source of the pathogen so that a vaccine may be developed. The team needs to hurry, though; the disease is progressing much faster than "classical" St. Vincent's Plague, and it is affecting adults and children alike. Can they make it in time?
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This scenario is a classic introductory adventure for new Players and Gamemasters. First, it easily solves the problem of how to bring a group of Player Characters together - they are asked, cajoled or paid to take part in this mission of mercy. Characters of almost any profession or nationality could be thrown together for this assignment, making it ideal for either a "one-off" adventure or as the start of an intricate campaign.
Second, it is the perfect lead-in to a good old-fashioned "dungeon crawl," of whatever scope is desired. Examples of underground high-tech lairs abound in movies and video and roleplaying games, from the Wildfire laboratory in the film The Andromeda Strain to the Neo Ark complex in Parasite Eve II and the Anderson Stuart bunker from Operation Morpheus*. Such lairs also provide the Gamemaster with a ready-made base of operations for the Player Characters (if they're safe enough to occupy, that is).
Thirdly, this story can easily be adapted to fit the Gamemaster's campaign. The abandoned complex may actually be a secret weapons research laboratory for one of the polar powers, and the prospector was actually a test subject. Perhaps the complex leads to or is accessible from the MacAllen network, allowing the group to explore a little-known part of Terra Nova. This story can also form the basis of the classic "brave new world" story: survivors of the St. Vincent War, frozen in cryogenic suspension for two centuries, awaken in TN 1940 to a world very different from the world they knew. Not only are the North and South working together, they are fighting a common enemy - Earth, who the survivors only know of as fairy tales and faintly remembered history lessons.
The possibilities are endless. Enjoy!
*This sourcebook for the long-defunct Aftermath! roleplaying game was by far the worst example of "Monty Haul" scenarios run amok. If you have this, you know what I mean; if you don't, my favorite example is rolling for the number of ballpoint pens you'd find in one office supply cabinet in one room in one level of one complex. If you went through the whole thing, on group of PCs could end up with everything from main battle tanks to Harrier jets!
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