APAGear II Archives Volume 5, Number 2 April, 2003


The Splinter in the Cats Eye

A Caprician RPG campaign for Heavy Gear

Harman Meyerhoff

Special thanks to Jules Considine for proofreading and suggestions.

Hello there, and welcome to my first attempt at an RPG campaign. Unfortunately, I will be the first to admit that I've almost no practical experience at pen-and-paper RPGing in general and (not for a lack of trying) absolutely none for Heavy Gear. Blame it on location. Rural farmers aren't as often into gritty hard-tech scifi as other demographics. Well, most rural farmers.

For GMs, potential players, and anyone else, my sincere apologies if I make any mistakes or include any inconsistencies. If you have comments, suggestions, questions, or other feedback, feel free to send a comment to the APA, and it will be passed on to me. I realize the artwork may also put some of you off, but I did that just for fun while creating the campaign. Now get ready for a rollickin' adventure that spans from Westphalia to the Caprician Trench and back, with plenty of heads to bust along the way.

(But do it quietly! This is a stealth op!)

For Terra Nova!

Campaign Overview

The players will be sent to Caprice not as the oh-so-inspiringly heroic guerilla Gear pilots aiding the romanticized Liberati freedom fighters against evil legions of the occupying CEF troops, but as intelligence gatherers and black-ops operatives, trained in preparation to enter Gomorrah and gather a very specific sort of intelligence from at and below "street level." Rather than raiding patrol depots with legions of Dark Grizzlies or hijacking CEF ships in Vegas starport, they are intended to sneak in, steal, cheat, kill, or even buy whatever information on the CEF occupational armys' fail-safe contingency plans they can, and then get back out with the information, with no more evidence of their passing than absolutely necessary. This will necessitate blending in with the Capricians, interfacing with the trench Liberati movement, gaining acess to sensitive data located by said spies, and possibly some discreet killing and or sabotage if the situation favors it, all while escaping with said data.

Archetypes along the lines of Spy, SIU, NGIS, PaxSec, and SRID agent, and various types of commando are suggested, though some less combat-oriented archetypes like Computer Tech (hacker) or even Freedom fighter/Terrorist could be used. Also, as indicated above, intel officers, spies and commandos from all over Terra Nova will form the team, in keeping with the typical mishmashed composition of the Talons. Past events from the perspectives of old enemies and the resultant lingering suspicion could also add interesting team and interpersonal dynamics to the story.

Suggested background materials would be (of course) Life on Caprice, Black Talon field Guide, Life on Terra Nova, Tactical Space Support, the Liberati sourcebook, Raids&Raiders, and perhaps the CEF SB as well. Other useful references possibly include the Spaceship Compendiums, polar Army Lists, the Paxton Gambit (for useful archetypes and information on PaxSec), the Equipment Catalogue, and any other books with sections on special operations forces, the CEF, or both.

Suggested loadout for each player should be a full, pressurizeable Legion Noire Stealth Armor suit (the helmet thereof contains built in night vision and thermal vision goggles, gas mask, directional long-range microphone, integrated visual zoom feature, and an encrypted communications set), a rifle weapon with (depending on type) five hundred rounds of ammo, a supressed pistol of the same caliber or tranquilizer dart pistol, ten minigrenades of their choice, two single-use electronic lockpicks, a data-mining information retrival tool, five gold coins, and a shockprod. Character-specific gear may also be included, and items from the list dropped or exchanged according to preference.

Miscelaneous equipment should also be included for group use, such as several tiny remote-piloted camera drones, two rocket launchers, four jetpacks, caprician-environment survival equipment for everyone, climbing and rapelling gear, two laser torches, and a portable ECM generator and comm-jammer with a bubble range of two hundred meters (but it weighs fifteen kilos, and battery life is only two hours).

Special Location Notes

Information on The Princess can be found in both LoC (p. 25) and SSC2, (p.38).

Friednam-Serrby background material may be found in LoC on page 43 and the parking garage may be at the base of any building, at Alpha Level (LoC, p. 34). It is mostly empty, with the exception of small animals and a few homeless people living in the shells of abandoned vehicles.

Gordicon Tower is specifically mentioned on page 38 in LoC, and p32-3 contain more generalized information on Gommoran superskyscraper architechture.

The Ark Asmodeus rave pit is mentioned on page 70 of LoC.

NPC Character Notes

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Kariyah Rurik - Is a GREL who suffered an extensive head-wound as a result of combat against the original 01st Black Talon mission, and consequently has lost the majority of his allegiance programming. As such, he often acts like a normal human, but sometimes "locks up" and reverts to an ultra-stupid GREL "awaiting directive" condition. Stats-wise, he is a generic Mordred with a -4 APP and some special survival and guerilla fighting skills acquired since his falling in with the Liberatti.

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Col. Mara Ikatsu - A wary but troubled CEF Officer Archetype, with limited Science, First Aid, and Engineering skills.

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Jenine Tavs - A cute and happy-go-lucky hacker by profession and Raver by archetype, with absofricking -lutely no survival sense. She sticks out like a codfish in the Kharaq wastes around the team, but can cut through highly complex technical barriers (most obviously, security and communications systems) with phenomenal ease. Becomes enfatuated with whichever character resuscitates or comforts her during recovery from said same, during the events in Chapter 5. Due to her constantly wearing VR-holoprojectors, her PER is significantly decreased.

Chapter one: The Threshold

The newly commisioned (Player-chosen number and unit name here) Black Talons squad has finished training and is ready to be inserted into Caprician space. Unfortunately, a combination of increasing CEF vigilance, dwindling funds, and the maintainence of several cadres worth of Terranovan Black Talons on Caprice has reduced the need for heroic Gear pilots striking out against outlying CEF assets. Instead, the new squadron will be composed mostly of crosstrained infantry and intelligence specialists, with the intended mission of inserting to Caprice and infiltrating Gomorrah, gathering intelligence about the occupational forces (specifically, their methods of ensuring caprician docility in the advent of a military withdrawl or another major military setback), both firsthand and from Liberatti moles and spies. To this end the squad will not be outfitted with Dark series Gears or shuttled down via their own Fury. Instead they will be inserted via a modified bulk cargo pod (use a TSS Drop Shuttle for stats) equipped to do little more than safely cros the Gate. Upon successful transition, Liberatti assets will rendezvous with them in the Blessed Asteroid Field and smuggle them down to Vegas Starport, where they will begin their mission.

Suggested milestones

Lock and Load - While budgetary and mission concerns mean the players won't be getting Dark Gears or a Fury, they will be recieving excellent gear for infantry operations and intelligence gathering. Any player disappointed should be caustically reminded of their intended role and mission and then contemptuously bade ogle the three SchattenJaeger* gears the squad has the option to bring along. The rest of the team members should show no pity, and the GM should provide them with high-quality equipment such as Legion-Noire style stealth armors, videofabric camoflauge cloaks, thermal masking equipment, wiretapping and codebreaking electronics, a pair of steathed Ovni recon drones, and all manner of other spec-ops treats. It should not (quite) appear that they are intended to infiltrate Gomorrah and assasinate every Earther there, but they should still recieve plenty of high-quality combat gear to supplement their infiltration and intelligence-gathering equipment.

(*SchattenJaegers are standard Jaegers/Jaeger variants with ECM2, Stealth 2, and a HMG instead of an APGL )

Bon Voyage - While training has placed the team members under heavy restriction in who and when they can communicate with the outside world, there are doubtless many newfound friends in and around the training program that deserve a goodbye. Players should also expect to get a request or two, from simple things like a Caprician rock for a collection to a liberati ribbon or Caprician entertainment trids. This should also serve as a good time to remind the players that they do have half a cubic meter of space and six kilos of mass for "personal effects" to bring with them...

Through the Looking Glass - Finally the fateful day arrives. The SRGS Illustrious powers up its gatedrive and opens a microgate only twenty-five meters wide. The players should be made to unconsciously suck in their breath, despite the massive acelleration crushing them into their couches. Gate transfer should also result in gate-sickness, as outlined in TSS, and then they should find themselves in the Blessed asteroid belt, and possibly have to do some rock dodging as their retros slow them down. The players should then power down and hide on a larger rock, and wait for their contact ship.

Chapter 2: Descent

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The players should spend about a game-day sitting around inside their ship, waiting for the rendezvous. During this time they should check over their equipment and either enjoy or endure weightlessness for a while. If anyone thinks to look for it, they should find a large ice asteroid nearby, thus reducing the danger of discovery by giving the miners a legitimate reason to be there and reduce the chance of an unscheduled CEF inspection. Until the Princess arrives, the players should basically be killing time, but as soon as it arrives, things should get interesting quickly, with a strong undercurrent of fear and a sense that discovery can be only minutes away. The first two Milestones can occur roughly simultaneously or one discarded entirely in favor of the other. If the team has elected not to bring the SchattenJaegers, Hell in a Handbasket will need no human supervision (though equipment could be damaged in the landing if the autopilot has to do it all alone...) and We Meet Again need not occur at all, either. GMs should be prepared to spring Kariyah Rurik on the players and deal with their reactions to him in the latter portion of this chapter.

Suggested Milestones

Incognito - The Princess has arrived, homing in on the concealed transponder beacon. If the players have found an ice asteroid for the crew, they will be greeted warmly, things will proceed well, and the sense of fear will not be very pronounced. While the Princess harvests the water, or hunts for it if the players haven't found it for them, most of the players should transfer over, where they will be provided with forged papers labelling them as generic crewmen. This also means that they will be expected to help in some fashion, so the GM should create a few tasks for the players to help with. Also, this encounter should provide the players an outlet for any trade goods they may have brought. Things like trid recordings (Gear duels, WotA gear combat, Joe Gear movies, and FerretZilla episodes should be premium items) and Terranovan products like foodstuffs and even postcards will fetch excellent prices from the amusement-starved spacers, and provide some good capital for the squad once on the surface, supposing they can arrange an account to pay to (due to the purely electronic nature of the Caprician Pound, this could take some doing). Once aboard, it should be an uneventful journey down to Vegas Starport, where they will meet with liberati guides and follow the transponder to the drop site to collect their equipment.

Halt, Who Goes There?! - Just as the Princess brings the Talons aboard, the CEF picket guarding the mining fleet picks that time to approach, as part of a random investigation. There will be no boarding and search, but some creative means of hiding the transport that brought them and getting their gear aboard before the gunboat gets close enough could give the players their first taste of excitement on this adventure.

Hell in a handbasket... - Surprise! The Princess can't even dream of smuggling down the players' sensitive electronics and data handling gear, let alone the SchattenJaegers and weapons- three players, chosen at random from those with a good drive or pilot skill, will be required to guide the insertion pod to surface in a "Heinlein drop"- essentially playing Human Meteorite to get the equipment to the surface without a conspicuous re-entry retroburn. The pod will make re-entry and freefall without power, and only deploy drag chutes at about seven kilometers. Retrothrusters will only engage at under two kilometers, and the entire operation will have to not only be timed to avoid being considered a dangerous asteroid by the Arclight Meteor Defense Platforms, but also land them in an area where the chances of their chute and burn being noticed are even further lessened by intervening mountains. Unfortunately, this also means a crash could spell disaster and moving supplies will be difficult in the rugged terrain. Two XPs should be given to each player by way of restitution. If they managed to survive.

We meet again! - A small patrol of two Decurion hovertanks and a Type 11-22 Frame (use the stats of a Cheetah for convenience) have been sent to investigate the impact of the supply vehicle. With luck and a quick sortie outside in steath armor to place a "sensor tickler" distraction, the drop crew can remain hidden. If they fail, they will have to eliminate the patrol using the Schattenjaegers and dispose of the wreckage, and then depart posthaste. The arrival of the rest of the team during the battle can further complicate things, as could scavenging Highlands Liberatti or even Corp-Serfs if the landing was fumbled and they are near the trench.

A Call to Arms - With the equipment unpacked and the liberatti muttawahs long since gone, a sole nomad will arrive on foot. The sight of Kariyah Rurik, even in Liberatti garb, should send the team scrambling for weapons. Fortunately, he will prove friendly, if a bit erratic. Once prepared, he will lead the team to a staging camp, where they are expected to turn over some special supplies smuggled in from Terra Nova. If the players chose to bring a Schattenjaeger, one and only one can be smuggled into the Trench via abandoned mining tunnels (and, needless to say, could become an adventure in and of itself if a player accompanies the Gear). They will also pick up new guides and identities, including falsified data-rigs and appropriate clothing for their venture into the Trench.

Chapter 3: The Abyss

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The Players enter Gomorrah. GMs should play on the differences between Caprice and Terra Nova, though focusing on one particular aspect of the Caprician culture is strongly advised against- various aspects of caprician culture could allow players to write their new surroundings off as a new slant on their old stomping grounds, and get careless. Southerners could expect fullcon and grudge-ring combat to be similar to their national semianarchy and honor duels. The corporate environ and arcology constructions could be reminiscent of home for ex-riverans, and other comparisons too numerous to count. Instead, everything from the mammoth buildings blotting out the alien sky to the anarchy of entertainment to the chaos of the streets should be used to create a sort of hectic and alien shock treatment. Nice Wheels and Alpha Challenge are optional.

Suggested Milestones

The Bowels of Hell - All too soon the guides begin the descent towards Alpha Level. As the players descend, the city should feel more opressive. The towering structures should seem even larger, pressing down on them and the psychological weight of the population around them should make them uneasy. The very temperature difference, one of nearly forty degrees celsius from home, should even be thrown at the players to keep them off-balance and wary. As they descend to Alpha Level and the short daylight is cut off by the skyscrapers and intrabuilding bridges overhead, the players should be made even more alert. By the time they reach the Wind Tunnel entrance, they should be razor sharp and wary of every shadow. Once in the tunnel, they should find their Gear and equipment, and proceed along the tunnel for an indeterminate time.

Alpha Challenge! - Along the way Players could encounter a running game of Alpha Challenge. When one Player notices a group of armed thugs waiting in ambush for a challenger, they could choose to intervene, and risk injury and visibility (for each player is constantly surveilled by several small flying camera drones), or simply ignore them and continue onward. Intervention could spell a cut of the prize money from the grateful challenger (perhaps only if they escort him/her to the end of the race) or the animosity of another contestant, possibly with a crooked producers' backing.

Armies of the Damned - Unfortunately, the Liberatti advance teams have chosen an abandoned underground parking garage in Friednam-Serby as the teams' staging area. Time to unpack the point-defenses. The homeless, destitute, unstable, and gang members of all shapes and sizes shouldn't be too much of a problem with Liberatti allies, but when someone catches wind of the teams' valuable equipment and weapons, wants sanctuary, or demands protection money, things could escalate. Alternately, a judicious bit of trading could spell allies and information at the risk of new enemies and an increased profile.

Welcome To The Jungle - As they are new to town, a nearby gang automatically reacts to invaders of its' territory with an attack on the squad. The players must quickly defend their base and beat back the attackers, but if the team uses a significant amount of firepower, a trio of heavily armed Corp-Serf VTOL patrol gunboats will move in to investigate the disturbance. Supposing the team defeats the hoods, they may unwittingly find themselves suddenly in control of an entire gang district, and responsible both for its' management and defense, as well as able to utilize the human resources now under their control.

Nice Wheels - A neighboring gang member has seen the Schattenjaeger or other high-tech piece of Terra Novan equipment, and now a heavily armed band of thugs is coming to take it! The players must either fight off the invaders or think quick and negotiate some other solution.

Many plots could branch off from here, such as the gang needing heavy firepower to make an assault on rivals, attacking CEF forces in the area for a mysterious (and ominous) reason, or even for rescuing a hostage (such as the kidnapped district representative Asha Tetrablik) who could yield great assistance to the teams' efforts. Perhaps the "special talents" of the black ops team members could help in their neighbors' situation where punks and thugs could not... Alternately, they could simply give away pieces of equipment for local assistance and resources, but this could result in the animosity of other rival gangs... Not to mention the danger of CorpSerf VTOLs seeing a group armed with Terra Novan weapons fighting in an inner city turf battle.

If the players choose to try to supress knowledge of the Gears' existence, or handle negotiations with their neighbors poorly, the gang could end up stealing the Gear (either during an assault, or via infiltration of the teams' lair)- necessitating a recapture mission before the gangers cause enough trouble to involve the Corp-Serfs, and silencing any witnesses that may become liabilities. Also, such a loss of face could prompt further raids from neighboring gangs that percieve the players as weakened.

Chapter 4: The Lord of the Pit

After relatively little real action, or plenty of action completely unrelated to the mission, the players should be anxious to do something toward their official objectives. Fortunately, after only a day or two hiding out, they will be contacted by the infamous hacker Dragon, the selfsame hero who guided the 1st Black Talon during their raid on the Paladin Lots Frame development and testing facilities. Dragon has contacted the players not only due to his self-appointed role as guide for Talon teams in Gomorrah, but because something important has come to his attention: Lieutenant-Colonel Mara Ikatsu of the CEF Special Weapons Projects Division has managed to communicate to the Liberatti that she wishes to defect, bringing with her a large cache of tactical data and military expertise, including information on the Octopus Pack modification for Frames and the Seravin-Three bioweapon delivery systems. The catch is, while the Liberatti cannot afford to trust her (and cannot afford not to, either), she is also currently under suspicion by the Commonwealth Integrity Bureau. The players must determine if she is truly interested in changing sides, search for signs of duplicity, and figure out a way to keep her hidden until she can be taken back to Terra Nova. To this end the party will have to split up several times to achieve all their objectives, with groups going to rendezvous with her, investigate other leads, and even (carefully!) breaking into her apartments at the top of Gordicon Tower. Also, Liberatti intelligence has recently found data suggesting that a CEF bioweapons group is currently undertaking some sort of classified project in an abandoned cliff-face mining tunnel near the players' base in Friednam-Serby. The intel is fresh, but with so many other very interactive scenes in this chapter, Cavern of the Dead can be considered an optional adventure.

Suggested Milestones

Cavern of the Dead - If a contingent of players decides to investigate the mysterious goings-on of the CEF bioweapons crew, they must first figure out how to get up to the site. While the open ends of the mineshafts are not particularly well guarded, they are almost three-quarters of a kilometer in the air, and impossible to access without either rapelling down from above, climbing up from below, or flying in via an expected flight. As this is a nigh-impossible-to-reach restricted area, CEF security will fire upon anything acting even remotely suspicious, and call for backup immediately. However, if the players question locals, they will find that some ground vehicles have been seen entering and leaving an abandoned mining plant a kilometer downtrench from the site, and that some of the retired miners from the Kona-Barrow digs might be able to provide them with some information on the tunnel workings beneath the cliff face. Supposing the players can track them down.

If the players choose to investigate the mining factory, they will find it lightly guarded by teams of one human officer (with an automatic shotgun) and two Mordred GRELs (with 24mm AGRs). The area has some boobytraps, but all are relatively simple and visible. Through stealth and observation, the team could infiltrate the building via the rooftop or sewer systems and avoid the patrols, but would logically encounter more tripmines and proximity bombs.

Once inside the factory complex, the players will notice the presence of some APCs and reinforced cargo vehicles parked inside the cleared out main processing structure, with an open hatch leading into the cliff wall.

The caves themselves should be dark and largely abandoned. Small vermin like rats and cats should be in some evidence, as well as a fairly obvious roadway leading upwards. This path is well-lit and consequently well-guarded by more three-person patrols, but the darkened branch tunnels are winding, confusing, and boobytrapped, though talking with the miners will at least have given the players a route to follow.

Upon reaching the topmost portion of the site, the players will emerge into a large cavern just in time to witness a heavy construction Frame (stats for an Engineering Grizzly) unloading biohazard crates from an armored munition carrier, under the supervision of an Assault Frame, three CEF officers, and a squad of GRELs.

If the players eavesdrop on the officers (their helmets contain high-gain directional microphones for just such occasions), they will hear of how the CEF expects the Seravin dispersal system to be installed within the week, projected fatalities upon release of the weapon, and perhaps the basic outline of the effects of Seravin on test subjects. At the end of the conversation, the players should observe that one of the officers is handcuffed to a small armored briefcase, and (as one of the officers congratulates the other on the project) that a hardcopy of the results is in one of the APCs at the cliff-base facility.

The players may handle the situation as they see fit from there, but there are numerous CEF troops around, and several Tarantulas full of reinforcements are only seven minutes away if the alarm sounds. If appropriate, the players could discover that one of the APCs in the parking area below contains a large quantity of weapons and ammunition- not only valuable loot for the Liberatti cause, but possible trade goods if the players want further help from one of their local gangs.

Scaling Babel - Congratulations, the best of the combat and stealth trained team members get to figure out some way of getting inside the topmost levels of Gordicon tower! The three kilometer tall building should make the task seem imposing from the very start. Added problems include excellent security systems, well armed guards perfectly within their rights to kill tresspassers potentially commiting corporate espionage, the upper half of the building being completely off-limits to anyone but corporate employees, and finally the CEF Mordred and Morgana guards on the elevators to the uppermost levels and the doors of the individual officers' apartments. However, the airshafts are not likely so heavily guarded, and the heatsink lattices on the building facade are climbable, not as horribly difficult a task as it seems with the number of sunscoops and balconies projecting from the walls. It could be entirely possible to climb up externally- though the thin air would require breathing masks like those found in stealth helmets, and looking down would be advised against. A traumatic shock and resultant loss of concentration at that height could spell disaster, as could being caught on someones' balcony during the short hours of daylight...

The Dragons' Hoard - "Welcome to the Styger muesum, the largest and greatest collection of historical artifacts on Caprice!" Should greet the less-combat-oriented players as they enter the immense building. Atop a large mesa-shaped corporate tower, the Styger museum is an enourmous building, despite being dwarfed by nearby skyscrapers. A black marble cathedral surrounded by immense gardens and filled with ancient relics, drawing a comparison with the Cathedral of the Third Miracle in Sorrento would not be unfounded, and possibly reassure some of the more nervous members of the group. Upon visiting the museum proper the players will be charged a large sum of money for entry, between 200 and 400 pounds depending on how financially sucessful the players have managed to become. Not everyone need enter, but the players should want to go in and look around, as this is a once in a lifetime opportunity...

Once inside, a museum patron should discreetly make a drop to one of the players, the message passed being a crude horse head (a chess knight) drawn on a faded Peace River Dollar whose numeral 1 is outlined in pen, indicating they should meet near the Prime Knight armor exhibit.

The actual details of the conversation (once the players have noticed and removed the CID agent shadowing her) should include that Ikatsu has begun to question the CEF after Operation Slate. While she doesn't quite consider the GRELs people, she still finds the genocide immoral. The newer threats of using bioweapons against the colonies has pushed her over the edge, and rather than take a minute part in such mass slaughter, she has arranged the meeting with them and begun collecting sensitive data. She then leaves, promising to contact them again soon.

The Lair of the Dragon - Regardless of how they managed to get there, the players on the infiltration team must sneak through the upper executive suites to Ikatsus' suite and cat-burgal it for signs of duplicity and to download her data (just in case she changes her mind or is arrested by the CID). Unfortunately, after disarming a difficult independent security system (Dragon has already disabled the main floor security) they may be (if they fail a Notice roll) suddenly and silently attacked by a supressed pistol wielding CID agent*, already doing the same thing. Alternately, a player could notice signs of a search and scrub the mission, but only if serious roleplaying is or has been taking place. Another option would be to use the unseen CID searchers as a way to heighten the tension and pace of the scene, giving the players something to simultaneously avoid and outrace.

If combat ensues the players have the added trouble of damage from the gunfight, a dead CID agent, possibly their own casualties, and still have to search the apartment. Depending on the difficulty of the fight and the stresses already placed on the team, they could either find the data on the dead agent, hack Ikatsus' computer for the files, or encounter another CID "investigator". Eventually, the team has their data, and must leave. Disposal of the bodies can range from pitching them over a balcony to hiding them in an air vent, but leaving them to be found will spell Ikatsus' death, so great care should be taken to hide the evidence, and a premium put on leaving no traces behind to arouse suspicion.

Getting out could range from simply rapelling down the climbing ropes and releasing the grapnels, to a trek back through the air vents, or even walking out, if Dragon has had enough time to hack the elevator security. Also, parafoiling from the top of the tower could work, if the team hasn't had enough excitement yet.

* Use SIU Agent from Paxton Gambit or comparable character archetype. For added difficulty, it could be an experimental SLEDGE, using Morgana GREL stats with an additional +1 to all rolls or rerolling all fumbles.

Chapter 5: The Ninth Circle

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Sure enough, several days after the first meet the players are contacted, and this time directed to meet with Ikatsu at the trendy Ark Asmodeus nightclub. The players should be able to simply travel by monorail or vehicle to the nightclub, unless they have somehow managed to be tagged by the CorpSerfs. Once inside, however, things should be anything but humdrum. The internal temperature is nearly forty degrees (hardly a problem for the players, so long as they shed their warmer clothing) but once they don the trademark VR glasses, they will be inside a computer-generated Hell. Nearly everyone there is at least partly inhuman, with a wide variety of permutations. Players should feel free to select appearances they find pleasing, though if they are vague as to the description, they could end up with a default form and become confusingly indistinguishable from similarly "dressed" patrons. There are only two plot-important events while inside the club, the first occuring immediately upon entry... A raver O.D.ing on something potent near the players' booth...

Suggested Milestones

Fallen Angel - The aforementioned girl is passed out cold and twitching, and bleeding from the nose. Other patrons nearby are mildly sympathetic, if they happen to notice her at all, but no one is interfering. She took the drugs voluntarily, and so Full Consent is being respected by the club management, and bystanders are largely ignoring her in favor of their own celebrations. Unfortunately, she is going into shock and having a seizure, which are noticeably growing weaker as her body shuts down. If the players decide to help and can succesfully ressucitate her, consider each of them involved worthy of an XP. Once at least partially revived the girl will inject herself with a counteractant chemical and then present herself as Jenine Tavs. She will act engaging and bubbly once the drug begins to work, and she will consider her saviors heroes of the highest order, if a little strange for their actions. If the players act either too closemouthed, (intentionally or accidentally) let slip anything uncaprician or about Terra Nova, or have visible injuries from recent adventures without a convincing excuse, she will pounce on it and very agressively, though quietly, pin the speaker through argument (if only to isolate their accents) and eventually discover that they are in fact Talons. Fortunately, she will be quiet in making this revelation and giddily offer to help them. Regardless of their reaction, she will quickly leave, and any efforts to stop her will result in violation of fullcon and a warning or even violent intervention from club security.

Dancing With the Devil - Once the first landmark is out of the way, the players should proceed down into the hellfire of the pit. It will appear to be a burning lake of lava in the center of the club, with damned souls and fire geysers appearing randomly among the dancers. Anyone with a WIL or PSY of -1 or worse (that is still cold sober) will be unable to descend to the meeting. The meet itself will occur near one such fire geyser, and one of the players will actually have to enter the illusory flamespout for the conversation. Another WIL/PSY check would not be out of order, but once inside the flame the illusion ends, revealing someone other than Ikatsu. If the players immediately react violently, strange looks from bystanders and security will result, and the person should disappear. If they act more calmly, the figure will identify itself as a hologramatic message and tell the players that Ikatsu is going to be inspecting one of the military checkpoints on Alpha Level in two days time. The players will have a perfect opportunity to either ambush her motorcade or even take out the checkpoint guards and take their place. Conversation ended, the hologram will disappear, after revealing a small datachip on the ground at its feet. The chip contains pertinent information on the checkpoint and security plans for the visit.

Chapter 6: The Road to Redemption

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This is meant to be a fast-paced chapter, rife with running and shooting and excitement. Even if done stealthily the tension and pace should be consistently high for at least the first four scenes, since stealing a Lt.Colonel from a CEF occupied planet, even if done stealthily, should recieve quite a bit of attention from unfriendly authorities. The chapter will also span a far greater range of locales than any other, as it encompasses Alpha Level, abandoned mining tunnels in the walls of the trench, the surface of Caprice and maybe even the spaceflight back to Terra Nova.

Suggested Milestones

Shadows by the wayside - First off on the Players' menu of destruction is Checkpoint 224-23 Alpha, a CEF traffic check on a wide abandoned highway near the surface of the trench. The layout is simple, two checkpoints straddling the road with an antitank rocket launcher and machine gun nest facing each way. Four Mordred and two Morgana GRELs guard the post, under the supervision of one to three human CEF officers. The abandoned lower levels of the buildings on both sides of the road are heavily boobytrapped, and surveillance cameras cover the post and all major approaches to it from many different angles, supported by regular patrols from small surveillance drones. Fortunately, the lack of new orders has made the GRELs lapse into routine, and the humans barely take their jobs seriously anymore. The surveillance drones are in a preset flight pattern and the general level of alertness ranges from "imminent nap" to utter disinterest in the goings on of the occasional automated cargo vehicle. Also, the boobytraps in the local buildings are mostly of the not-particularly-sophisticated variety, mostly being tripwired grenades and the like. The players should have as much time as they want (up to twelve hours, that is) to reconoiter their foes and prepare their attack, be it a straightforward assault, sniping, stealthy backstabbing, or even using a friendly gang from Friednam-Serby to make it look like a purely amateur raid by locals. In any case, if the players engage before the convoy arrives, they should obviously keep their prey from sounding an alarm, and avoid the excess noise of a prolonged firefight.

Spectres of Death - The convoy (consisting of two APCs, and two Medium Frames) should approach right on schedule, and the players can attack at any point. If they have already neutralized the CEF soldiers, they should withdraw completely or the APCs will open fire with heavy weapons on anything moving in the wreckage. If the players decide to impersonate the human CEF soldiers after the battle has ended, the CID agent with the entourage will immediately notice, shoot the imposter, and sound the alarm.

No matter what, two squads of GRELs (each 3x Mordred w/ AHG rifles and 2x Morganas with 15mm sniper rifles, all in heavy flak armor) should exit from one of the two APCs. Players can use anything they want to disable the GRELs, their APC, and the walkers, including the checkpoint emplacements (if still intact, and worthy of an XP for the roleplaying effort) and their Schattenjaeger (if present). Once the enemies are neutralized, Ikatsus' APC will try to get away. If the players do nothing, it will take a corner too fast, lose control, and crash into the rusted hulk of an abandoned cargo vehicle. If the players fire, they should be cautioned that they run the risk of wounding Ikatsu, but will sucessfully provoke the above crash. Regardless of method, when the players rush to investigate the aftermath, they will find her knocked unconscious (and quite possibly wounded) and the driver dead. Also within the APC, regardless of the health of the defector, the players should find several military-grade datadiscs and a computerpad, in addition to Ikatsus' wristcomp. After the players scavenge the earther and electronics, they should hear the sound of incoming Corp-Serf Mount-carriers and Peregrine gunships. The GM should not need mention that now would be a good time to leave, as three Frame-carrier Tarantula dropships have just appeared on the horizon as well...

The Orpheus Path - While "withdrawing" through the streets, the players will suddenly be contacted by Jeni Tavs over their supposedly secure coms! Not bothering to explain herself, she orders them to follow a crooked path through several back alleys and into an abandoned vehicle service building, where they should find an entrance to an abandoned subway network. At this point Tavs should explain that she is one of Dragons' "associates" (if need be, he can call the team and vouch for her) and posesses a map of the tunnel networks, which she offers in exchange for their "help". At which point she suddenly steps out from behind a support pillar, right behind a player. While she should not (quite) get shot, there should be plenty of adrenaline for all at that moment. Somewhat nervously, she asks that the team take her with them to Terra Nova. In return, she will provide them with maps of the tunnels and data she has collected from forays into Earther corporate databases, though she hasn't been able to crack all of the encryptions... Regardless of whether they take her along with her data, they should now be forced to wind their way through the tunnels, possibly with both an inexperienced Jeni and an unconscious or wounded Earther in tow. Now would be a good time for them to encounter some less-than-friendly Gommoran fauna; be it swarms of semipoisonous cockroaches, Alpha Level rats or even something larger; probably an animal imported several generations ago from a colony world as a pet, until its eventual escape. Since then only the biggest and meanest have been surviving, and they call these abandoned tunnels home...

A Light At The End Of The Tunnel - After a long dose of vermin and darkness, the players emerge in an abandoned but still viable mining prefab carved out of the rock. The players can rest and recover for a few hours, giving them time to patch wounds, treat Ikatsu, and maybe even review Jenis' data. Also, any players who were not involved in the assault can rejoin their comrades, albeit via some safer route from the surface. The players should also recieve word that their extraction has Gated in and they can leave soon.

You can run, but you can't hide... - Just as they are about to leave, a player with the highest PER should hear something coming from the tunnels below, followed by a tear gas grenade being thrown into the room. Noncombat players and Jeni may panic, but the rest of the team have integrated gas masks in their helmets (if they're wearing them, or have them at hand...), and should be able to make a fighting retreat. Their attackers are five Corp-Serf SWAT officers, equipped with stealth armor, riot shields, and assault rifles or autoshotguns. While not obvious to the players, the enemy is trying to take them alive, and as such will try to use nonlethal rounds to stun unarmored team members. Due to the thick haze of gas filling the room, all combatants without helmets/masks should have their PER suffer. When the smoke clears, an examination of the bodies will reveal Moscow Heavy Industries insignia, and a tracer wristcomp with a flashing directional beacon that accurately shows Ikatsus' location to within a half meter in any direction. Obviously, Ikatsu has at least one tracer embedded somewhere on her person, and the players now not only have to figure out a way to disable it*, but also put enough distance between them and this place to avoid pursuit.

*If the players try it, a haywire grenade explosion or localized taser shock to her body will probably fry out the concealed microchip, but would be dangerous to their own electronics, particularly the data discs, Ikatsus' PDA and wristcomp, and Jenis' DataRig and wristcomp, which she will absolutely panic about potentially suffering damage if the players elect to try the second method. The portable ECM/Jammer will also stop the beacons' transmissions, but only for so long as the batteries hold out...

Chapter 7: Ascendance

Once the MHI Corp-Serfs are disposed of, the players must doubletime it to reach their escape route, but once they reach the first of the chain of Liberati contacts they are informed that the dropship was delayed avoiding CEF gunship patrols and is going to be a day late. The players must therefore spend the day waiting in a Liberati mining encampment. Fortunately, so long as the players have found or stopped the transmitter chip, no Corp-Serfs appear this time, and the black Fury dropship comes down smoothly. The players can meet and greet the incoming Gear pilots and espionage crews, and load their gear with a modicum of relief and pride. The first milestone is not required, but is included to add flavor and offer a change of pace from the previous chapters' running and shooting.

Suggested Milestones

A bump in the road - While helping unload the Fury, one of the players discovers a stowaway Okavango Chameleon (the lizard, not Gear), the hard way. The player is bitten and gets a full dose of sedative injected via the bite. Unfortunately, rather than rapidly keeling over unconscious, the player is initially okay and only gradually becomes only severely intoxicated, and may accidentally cause trouble either by loosing some embarrasing personal secrets or stories about another teammate, or something more directly tangible, like tipping over a Gear or randomly falling prey to the sedative at the controls of a forkloader.

Homeward Bound - With the other Talon teams offloaded, and the players, Tavs, and Ikatsu now aboard, the Fury takes off and sucessfully escapes detection by orbital CEF forces. The trip is completely uneventful and they reach the extraction microgate with no problems. Ikatsu is obviously dispirited and almost suicidal over her betrayal of her world and her family, but Jenine should more than make up for it, living out the Caprician dream of spacetravel, and the time when she can visit another world is drawing ever closer. Depending on player interaction with them, their disparate views could result in a zero-g catfight. Neither should be more than superficially injured during the altercation, but explaining how they allowed the defector to be attacked by a Caprician (who technically wasn't even supposed to know about the team, let alone come back with them) would make for a very interesting debriefing.

A rude send-off - The Fury has sucessfully fired upon the Microgate with a particle beam, causing the Gate to open a tiny bit. The SRGS Illustrious, waiting back in Terranovan space, has detected the "doorknocker" and is charging the Gate. Due to the small size and high thrust of the Fury, the Gate is only being opened eighty meters wide, and in only a half hour. Unfortunately, just as the Gate reaches threshold and begins to open, something fires upon the players and knocks out one fusion tube. A quick scan of the vicinity reveals two Space Frames hiding among the asteroids and launching tracking minibombs at the dropship. The players can use any of the Fury's weapons except the particle cannons, and the Fury can move normally, however, the CEF Frames gain +1 concealment and have three antilaser aerosol grenades (AOE 2, blocks lasers and sensors) each, as well as ECM pods that will require any guided missiles to be remote piloted by someone aboard the Fury.

spaceframe Image

Last minute shopping - Once the first Frame is crippled or destroyed, the second will attempt to flee, and the next sucessful hit, so long as it is not an overkill, will cause the crew compartment to depressurize, and the Frame will go dead, drifting off at a slow speed. At this time the players have a difficult decision- they can try to salvage the drifting Frame and then try to cross the rapidly closing Gate, or consider the combined data from Jenine and Ikatsu to be enough and cross immediately, before the Gate shrinks too far to admit passage, and will require a week-long wait in the asteroid field before the Illustrious has recharged its' emitter and reopens the gate for the next Talon squad to transition.


The players have made it through the Gate (else the story is over, and why then are you still reading this?), but a campaign like this cannot simply fade to credits... issues have to be resolved, stories told, and medals pinned.

Suggested Milestones

All Hail the Conquering Heroes - The players are (at least, hopefully) alive, intact, and elated. After a short time aboard the Illustrious, the team should burn for Avalon Base for debrief and quarantine. Once there, they should have the opportunity to meet up with old friends, sell off any souvenirs, and soak up praise and adulation for whatever they brought back; be it Ikatsu, Jeni, Seravin samples and data, the SpaceFrame, any permutation of the four, or simply for getting home alive. They better enjoy it- they'll be spending three weeks in quarantine.

With trinkets such as these, I can lead armies - The players are victorious, but hardly out of the woods. Half the fun of doing something for your planet and nation is in blowing things up, yes, but the allocades and medals awarded in recongition of surviving your own bravery are no less entertaining. From pompous SRA pageantry to a private reception with Proconsul Lang and Chancellor Tanaka, the players should roleplay their awards ceremonies, funerals, and maybe even the half a Season of vacation they've earned, far from trouble.

Yeah. Right. If nothing else, they'll have to explain Jeni to their commanding officers, and figure out what to do with her afterwards. She claims she wants to go along with the players and do some sightseeing. And let's not forget her ongoing crush on the accidental "hero" from the bar...

Good luck.

They'll need it.

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APAGear II Archives Volume 5, Number 2 April, 2003