APAGear II Archives Volume 4, Number 5 July, 2002


Under Darkening Skies

Roleplaying in the Era of the Interpolar War

Janne Kemppi

Heavy Gear campaigns often revolve around wars and conflicts and Interpolar war offers rather interesting and complex situation giving everything to prospective GM to try on. Here is a small list of possible aspects that could be inserted into adventures set in that period.

Paranoia and Conspiracies

Terra Novans are by means angels (although this is curiously held belief by many players) but the last vestiges of idea of some kind of peace and normalcy really died with the assassination of Thor Hutchison. The sudden death of popular (or at least well-known) leader by seemingly ultra-loyal war hero certainly shocked the North down to its roots. Fact that some one so "impossible" (decorated war hero of revered and loyal unit) could have done it, together with fast (perhaps too fast?) investigation, surely looks to ordinary citizen especially frightening.

Information on Hutchison's death should come in as fragmented, mixed with wild speculation and political spin. Experts (and not so good experts) would analyze death and everything following it to minutia highest possible degree. The simple amount of coverage would be intimidating to any ordinary person.

Furthermore, Terra Novan nations are no paragons of openness. Confusing reporting of details, bickering agencies and their petty jealousies and political spin by everyone looking for an angle would provide a fertile ground to all kinds of conspiracy theories. Amount of these theories would depend a lot on how national governments are seen by their citizens. This can vary from almost total belief of what is broadcast (many GRELs in Port Arthur) to extreme suspicion (guerillas in Eastern Sun Emirates).

Role-playing Hooks: Following conspiracies or perhaps trying to debunk them can lead into all kinds of adventures. Security officials seldom like people nosing into their business, while those who are highly suspicious could come up with information varying from truly damning to ludicrous. This can provide adventures from paranoid claustrophobic fear to comedic relief.


The sudden demise of Humanist Alliance surprised everyone. Southern Republic's use of biological weapons against it by literally got the genie out of bottle. People are very afraid of biological weapons because they are quite invisible to eye and there appears to be no real way to fight them. This further feeds suspicion and fear.

Humanist Alliance was worst hit in war but there is no reason to assume that similar (if more localized) strikes could not be aimed towards other nations and their population. Failed strikes are possible as well as directed sabotage. Working under condition of recent biological attack can be nightmarish affair as death hits to those weakest and youngest first. At the same time, the human misery offers also possibilities to those unscrupulous enough to use chaos to their advantage.

Role-playing Hooks: Biological weapons (and antidotes for them) make great props for RPGs. For one, they cannot be used for their unpredictability but their use can be a tremendous threat that requires immediate action to prepare against. Biological weapons are extremely well guarded (and information concerning them is pretty much always secret). Things get quite interesting during war time when fortunes of war change constantly. It is unlikely but possible that something could go wrong and biological weapon accidentally released, destroyed or possibly even lost. Biological weapon need not even be really there. Even a rumor of it is a sure fire method of getting everyone's attention. Results could vary from heightened alertness to full-scale panic.

Mountains of Steel

Landships are unique craft in Terra Nova. They are land bound companions to sea vessels. They are also equally massive crafts with tons of deadly weaponry aimed towards killing other vessels. Their weaponry is equally good in bounding huge ground structures to rubble.

Civilian vessels have less glamorous opportunities but the work of transporting supplies is just as vital to war effort. Thus civilian crews are pressed into service just like soldiers. While military vessels are well protected, things are not so good to civilian vessels that have only light weaponry.

Terra Nova is a wide open planet with vast deserts and thus there is plenty of open terrain for Landship to roam about. This allows such vessels to move practically anywhere and come as a surprise to unsuspecting Oasis Tower or small military convoy. At the same time these vessels are constantly searched for because of their destructive potential.

Role-playing Hooks: Sailing aboard a Land ship can be a unique experience to many Terra Novans who've never seen sea or much less have gotten a chance to ride aboard a real ship. However, nature of cruise depends on vessel in question. Military ships are built for purpose of waging war and there is a plenty of opportunities for that during the Interpolar War. Adventures aboard a landship can vary from working on it as crew or perhaps as a protecting detail of soldiers (who get to adventure outside vessel). Challenges are different to civilian crews who often need to survive dangerous situations with limited weaponry and equipment (but hopefully with more brain power).

Assassination Runs

Interpolar War seems to be filled with a series of high profile assassination attempts (and successes) aimed to killing most notable personas in Terra Nova. Thus it is fairly certain that for every high profile success (or failure) published in media, they will be a dozen attempts of lower ranking notables carried out in secrecy. These kinds of efforts can vary from elaborate plans with double agents, false identities and exotic killing methods to unsophisticated raids with small teams of commandoes infiltrated to an ambush position.

Role-playing Hooks: Assassination attempts are bread and stable of military oriented RPG adventures since they offer characters a chance to play both sides. Protection (or trying to survive from a threatening assassination) is a challenge equal to planning and carrying one. Usually complex missions have highest chances of failure but at times precision timing and complicated plans are only way to go forwards. Depending on GM both approaches can be used. Often the real spice starts when something goes wrong (either way) and chase for killers start.

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APAGear II Archives Volume 4, Number 5 July, 2002