APAGear II Archives Volume 4, Number 1 February, 2002


Ancient Ruins

Christian Schaller

Humans have existed on Terra Nova for more than 1900 cycles (almost 1400 years). In that time, empires have risen and fallen, civilizations have come and gone, and tribes of people have developed and been wiped out. Their remains lie buried beneath the sands and soils of the planet, awaiting discovery. On the surface, artifacts such as the stone heads dot the landscape, silent monuments to the planet's past. Below the surface, seemingly endless MacAllen tunnels wind their ways through the planet's crust, hiding secrets few on the surface might imagine exist.

Terra Nova's rich history provides an interesting opportunity for a diversion in a campaign, or perhaps the basis for a whole new one. Wherever there are ruins, there is the prospect for adventure. Archaeologists will obviously have a field day with a newly discovered ruin, but plenty of other groups can, too. A site that hides a military secret from the past will, of course, immediately attract the attention of every armed force on the planet and possibly several from off-world. Ruins that hold corporate secrets from the early days of Terra Nova's history might have roughly the same effect for Terra Nova's corporations: it's not too hard to imagine that evidence of a past atrocity committed by a major corporation such as (or any organization that can be tied to its development) will have a profound effect on the company if the mass media gets hold of it, and the company might be inclined to take drastic measures to cover up the story.

Starting Point: Water Gauging Station #8

The Player Characters have come upon (or been assigned to) an interesting site deep in the MacAllen tunnel network. At first it appears to be nothing more than a medium-sized cave branching off from the tunnel, but anything more than a cursory look reveals a certain regularity to cave walls: while not exactly smooth, straight surfaces, they do appear to have been deliberately cut and formed rather than to have developed naturally like the rest of the system. Over time, however, nature has eroded the walls, resulting in rubble piles, pockmarks, cracks and so forth. Further inspection of the chamber reveals evidence that human beings once engaged in some kind of activity therein. Regular grooves, pieces of refined metals, and the remains of long-gone structures can be found throughout. Clearly the site was once important to someone, and it has been a very long time since it was abandoned. What the site was for or why it was abandoned are unknown.

In fact, this cave was the site of a water gauging station used by the earliest explorers of Terra Nova to study the flow of water through the MacAllen tunnel network. It was abandoned in TN 258, more than 200 cycles before the first Human Concordat colony ship arrived in TN 493. It thus marks a period of time when there were few humans on the planet, and if any details about life on Terra Nova in that period could be discovered, they would be immensely valuable contributions to science and history.

Possible Campaign Variations

Ordinary Site -- This is a perfectly mundane site that holds secrets of interest only to historians and archaeologists. Getting at those secrets will be difficult, however, since the site is almost 1700 cycles old and not much remains.

Military Secret -- The site is not a gauging station at all. It was a testing facility for a military force that no longer exists, as far as anyone knows. Proving this fact will be difficult, however, if only because there is little in mainstream, modern thinking to support such a prospect. Conspiracy theorists and the likes will jump on the notion, making the task of demonstrating the site's validity that much more arduous.

Hoax -- It's a hoax. The prospect of discovering anything about the very early days of humanity's exploration of Terra Nova is indeed valuable -- so valuable, in fact, that an unscrupulous researcher has faked the entire thing.

Nest -- The cave is inhabited by a colony of creatures that aren't too happy to see humans invading their territory. They could be simple hoppers or as advanced as go-ki; in either case, they will make life difficult for the Player Characters. This particular species is likely to be quite rare, which may prove to be as much of a boon to biologists as the site itself is to archaeologists, especially if it is a species once thought to be extinct. (A "war" between biologists who want to study the creatures, archaeologists who want to study the site, and environmentalists who want to preserve both might develop from this discovery.)

Hideout -- The cave is inhabited by a band of rovers or smugglers who aren't too happy to see outsiders snooping around in their territory. If they make their home directly in the cave, their presence will be immediately obvious. If they make their home nearby, it may be hours or days before they notice the PCs. In either case, this situation will become quite dangerous for a team of researchers not trained in or expecting combat.

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APAGear II Archives Volume 4, Number 1 February, 2002