An adventure for the Star Wars roleplaying game
This adventure is designed for a squad of four to six SpecForces characters. The squad is sent on a mission to the inhospitable world of En Sira. The Empire has a small research station on the planet, conducting archaeological research. According to Tora Kel, a rebel spy, the Imperial researchers have discovered something important, something which could threaten the whole Alliance!
This adventure could be run with characters other than a SpecForces squad. The Alliance is spread very thin across the galaxy and they don’t have the manpower to investigate everything. Other player characters could be asked to go to En Sira, make contact with Tora and find out what the Empire has discovered there. Even bounty hunters or characters only loosely allied with the Alliance could be asked to do the job, although it is far more likely for the Alliance to send someone trustworthy to En Sira.
One of the player characters should know Tora Kel, either from time spent together in the Alliance or before either of them joined the Rebellion. Perhaps there was a romantic relationship, perhaps just friendship. This gives the player characters a reason to like and trust Tora right for the start, and makes her betrayal later in the adventure all the more surprising.
Since many elements of the adventure are unexpected, the gamemaster should take time to note down each character’s Perception, search and sneak values for making secret rolls the players shouldn’t know about. The gamemaster should be careful not to give away the twists in the plot before they happen; the players should start the adventure thinking it is a simple raid on an isolated Imperial outpost, nothing more.
“Raid on En Sira” Quick-start Outline
- Episode One. The squad is assigned to go to En Sira, the location of an Imperial science station. They land their ship a short distance from the station and travel the rest of the way on foot through the hostile terrain. Along the way, they encounter a hostile native life-from.
- Episode Two. The squad arrives at the science station and meets with their contact, a Rebel spy working on the inside. However, their contact leads them into a trap.
- Episode Three. The squad must figure out how to escape from an Imperial cell and discover what is going on inside the station. The Imperials are not acting normally and appear to be under some kind of outside control.
- Episode Four. The player characters discover the station is under the control of an alien artifact. They must overcome the artifact’s power in order to escape. They also have to prevent the powerful artifact from falling into Imperial hands.
- Episode Five. The characters must escape the En Sira system as Imperial reinforcement arrive.
The player characters are training or resting at their home base when they are all ordered to report for a mission briefing. They report to the briefing room where their superior, Colonel Harn, is waiting:
“We’ve just gotten word from one of our infiltration agents about an Imperial research station on En Sira,” Colonel Harn says as he passes a datapad to you. “She reports that the station, which is conducting archeological research, has found something important. They’ve sent word to the Empire and it’s only a matter of days before Imperial forces arrive to collect whatever they’ve discovered. Our agent was unable to provide much information about the exact nature of the discovery but, if the Empire is in such a hurry to collect it, you can be sure it’s something that isn’t good news for the Alliance.
“Your job is to go to En Sira and make contact with our agent, Tora Kel, at the research station. Find out what this discovery is that the Empire is so interested in. If you can, recover it for the Alliance. If it’s too dangerous or you can’t get it out before the Imperial forces arrive, you’re to destroy the find and as much of the station as possible. A ship is being prepped for you in docking bay three. Any questions?”
Any character who checks the datapad or makes an Easy planetary systems roll learns that En Sira is a dead world with an unbreathable atmosphere and very unpleasant weather. The SpecForces rarely send squads to the garden-spots of the galaxy. Some scientists and scholars speculate En Sira may have been home to an alien civilization that died out thousands of years ago.
The datapad contains a map of the research station and the area around it. (((see datapad illo))) The squad is provided with a BR-23 Courier transport to get them to En Sira. With the local atmospheric conditions, the squad should be able to land fairly close to the research station, perhaps a couple of kilometers, with virtually no change of being picked up by Imperial sensors. From the time they arrive on En Sira, the player characters have eight hours to complete their mission before Imperial reinforcements arrive. They will meet their contact at the east-side entrance of the station. She will give them access.
Each squad-member is provided with the following equipment for this mission (see Rules of Engagement for details):
- An oxidizer mask and thinsuit for protection from En Sira’ hostile atmosphere.
- A survival backpack (two weeks rations, three medpacs, two thermal flares, a single-person di-crome shelter, six meters of syntherope in a dispenser, a utility knife, a blaster power pack, and a small high-power generator)
- Light scout armor (Adds +1 to resist damage, +1D to sneak in natural terrain. Includes equipment harness and helmet with macrobinocular visor.)
- A heavy blaster carbine (5D+1 damage)
- Thermal detonator charges to destroy the research station, if necessary.
- Plus one character has an extra oxidizer mask and thinsuit for Tora Kel.
The player characters take the BR-23 Courier to En Sira. When they come out of hyperspace, they must pilot the ship into the planet’s atmosphere and land safely a few kilometers from the station, requiring a Difficult starship piloting roll. A failed roll results in damage to the ship, which must be repaired before it can lift off again. The characters can set the ship’s maintenance droid to work, and hope the ship is repaired sufficiently by the time they return. A failure with a “1” on the Wild Die results in a crash for 3D damage to all of the members of the squad.
Once they’re on the ground, read aloud:
En Sira is definitely not the nicest spot in the galaxy you’ve ever seen. The world outside your ship is a vista of greenish-colored sand that stretches in rolling dunes and ridges against the pink-orange sky as far as the eye can see. That isn’t very far, since the sand is whipped up by powerful wind-storms, making it hard to see more than a few meters at a time. The roaring wind whistles outside, pelting the hull of the ship with sand. Covering the few kilometers to the Imperial research station is definitely not going to be fun.
The squad must make the trip to the research station on foot. En Sira is Moderate terrain. Since vision is very limited, characters must rely on instruments to guide them through the sandstorms and reach the station on time. Along the way, the squad encounters some of the hazards of desert-travel in a hostile atmosphere, along with an unexpected inhabitant of En Sira.
- Characters must make Moderate repair rolls to check their blasters and other electronic equipment and keep the blowing sand for damaging them. A one on the Wild Die may indicate the failure of a piece of equipment at an inopportune time.
- The characters must make an Easy stamina roll for the forced-march through the hazardous terrain.
- Characters may become lost or disoriented in the sandstorm, requiring a Difficult navigation or survival roll to find their way again.
Part-way to the research station, the squad encounters a dune squid, one of the few native lifeforms of En Sira. Dune squids lie in wait, buried beneath the sand, for prey to pass overhead. They burst out of the sand to crush prey with their tentacles. Unless the squad members can make a Very Difficult Perception roll, they are surprised by the dune squid’s initial attack.
Dune Squid. All stats 1D except: sneak 5D, Strength 6D, brawling 6D+2, Move: 1. Natural armor adds +1D to resist damage.
Fortunately, dune squids are virtually immobile, so the squad can run once they escape the grasp of the squid’s tentacles. During the struggle, the squid might grab one or more pieces of equipment and pull them under the sand (blasters, survival packs, and so on). They can only be recovered if the squid is killed or if the squad waits for the dune squid to spit them out once it discovers they’re inedible, which will take at least half an hour, time the squad can’t afford to waste. The squid’s attack might also damage the oxidizer mask or thinsuit of one of the player characters, forcing them to stop and make repairs before continuing on.
Once the squad reaches the outskirts of the research station, read aloud:
After what seems like an eternity of marching through an endless green sandstorm, you are in sight of the Imperial research station, a low, spidery structure of linked domes hugging the sandy ground. Drifts of sand pile around the edges of the domes, barely visible through the storm around you. Small lights vainly try to penetrate the gloom of the sand clouds. One nearest to you begins the blink as you watch, flashing in an on-and-off pattern, then repeating the pattern again. That’s the signal! Your contact is expecting you at the easternmost hatch, so it’s time to move.
Tora Kel sends the pre-arranged signal to let the squad know it is safe to approach, but she is under the control of the alien artifact discovered by the researchers and is actually baiting a trap for the player characters. Have the players make sneak rolls as the squad approaches the station, but do not tell them the results (they’re irrelevant, since they’re expected). There is a tense period of waiting by the hatch, almost totally exposed, read aloud:
The seconds tick by as the wind howls all around you. The station is silent and you wonder how many Imperial sensors could be sweeping the area right now. Suddenly, a dull “thunk” comes from the door and it slides open to reveal a black figure wearing an insect-like oxidizer mask. She waves you inside quickly and touches the controls on the wall to slide the door closed, cutting off the wind and leaving you standing in silence.
The woman activates the airlock, evacuating the hostile outer atmosphere and replacing it with breathable air. She removes her oxidizer mask, revealing a pleasant face surrounded by a tumble of shoulder-length, dark hair.
“Glad you could make it,” she says, all business. “This way.” She touches another panel and the inner door of the airlock slides open. You step out into a broad room that takes up a third of the dome. The airlock hisses closed behind you.
“You won’t believe what we found,” Tora says. She touches another control and most of the wall slides up with a hiss, revealing about a dozen people training blasters at you. Tora turns back towards you, a grim look on her face.
“And I’m afraid we can’t let you tell anyone about it, not until we’re ready.”
The player characters should be caught off-guard by Tora’s sudden betrayal. The appearance of the other station personnel training blasters on them should definitely give them pause. Since they are outnumbered at least two-to-one, the squad may surrender, or they may try to fight their way out. Remind them that only Tora and the other station personnel know the activation codes for the airlock and it will be difficult for them to blast their way out. Also, if they try to run now, they have little chance of completing their mission before the Imperial forces arrive.
If the characters fight, the station personnel will fight back. Their blasters are set on “stun,” since they want to capture the squad alive. If the fight turns against them, the station personnel will retreat back into the station, sealing off the dome the player characters are in and shutting down the life-support systems, forcing the squad to rely on their oxidizers and other gear. They will have to figure their own way into the research station.
If the characters surrender, they stripped of their equipment and placed in an empty storage room with the door locked and two of the station personnel left outside on guard. The station has no real prison facilities, so the squad should be able to escape. Picking the lock is a Difficult security roll. The player characters can also use trickery to try and get the guards to open the door with a Moderate con roll.
The alien artifact uncovered by the research team looks like an eight-pointed star about a half-meter in diameter and eight centimeters thick in the center, tapering to less than a centimeter thick at the points. It is made of some unknown organic material similar to greenish-gray coral, but much, much stronger. The artifact has no recognizable energy signature, but does contain highly complex genetic patterns. Any Force-user in close proximity to the artifact can sense a malign presence from it with an Easy sense roll.
The artifact is intelligent and aware of its surroundings. It has the ability to control anyone who touches it and fails a Heroic Perception roll. All of the individuals controlled by the artifact become part of a group-consciousness directed by the artifact. Its purpose is to spread its control far enough to protect its existence, then begin the agenda of rebuilding the civilization that once existed on En Sira. The artifact’s “memory” contains all of the information needed to do this, although it will require the excavation of other artifacts and sites on the planet.
In addition to its controlled thralls, the artifact has one other powerful tool. It can project an unknown form of energy that causes great pain to living beings. The energy appears as greenish bolts of lightning that lash out of the artifact. It can also channel the energy through one of its thralls. The lightning bolts affect targets like the Force power inflict pain at 8D. The Force power control pain can be used to ignore the pain with a successful control roll against the total of the artifact’s roll.
The artifact’s “personality” is cold, emotionless, and alien. It has no understanding of or compassion for other beings. It’s only drives are to survive and carry out its programming.
Tora Kel is a scientist, driven by a search for knowledge and wisdom. Her own strong moral sense drove her to join the Rebel Alliance, and her scientific credentials allowed her access to the Empire’s highest scientific circles. She has worked as a spy for the Alliance for years, funneling tidbits of information to them through covert channels, but nothing spectacular, until now. Tora managed to get assigned to the research team on En Sira because of rumors of a lost alien civilization there. For months, the researchers excavated the sands and turned up only tantalizing hints of a lost civilization, but nothing useful to the Empire. Then an excavation droid uncovered the artifact.
Tora knew the artifact was a remnant of some incredibly advanced alien technology. She immediately sent word to her contact to warn the Alliance. Such powerful and unknown technology could not be allowed to fall into the Empire’s hands. Although she did her best to secretly sabotage their efforts, the other researchers sent a message to a nearby Imperial garrison, requesting additional forces to help explore the planet and search for other artifacts.
Normally brave, insightful and strong-willed, Tora fell under the control of the artifact like the other station personnel. Although she struggles against the alien control, she cannot break it on her own.
Tora Kel. Dexterity 2D+2, dodge 3D, Knowledge 3D+2, alien species 5D+1, cultures 4D, languages 4D+1, survival 4D, Mechanical 3D, communications 3D+1, Perception 3D+1, investigation 4D, persuasion 3D+2, search 4D, Strength 2D, Technical 3D, computer programming/repair 3D+2. Character Points: 6. Move: 8. Special Abilities: project green lightning (as inflict pain 8D) while under the control of the Artifact. Hold-out Blaster (3D).
If the player characters manage to escape, either during the initial confrontation or after being locked up, the Artifact will know about it and want them tracked down. If they wait to see what happens after being locked up, Tora eventually comes to see them, along with some other station personnel as guards. In either case, when Tora confronts the squad, read the following aloud:
Tora looks at you with hard eyes, then her face softens and she smiles a bit.
“There’s really no need for any of this,” she says. “You came here to find our discovery, and I can show you. We thought this world once held an ancient alien civilization, and we were right.”
She reaches into the shoulder bag she is carrying and withdraws something that she holds up with both hands. It’s an eight-pointed star cut from some kind of greenish-gray stone, about a half meter in diameter.
“See?” Tora says, “How beautiful it is. Do you want to touch it? No? Well, it wants to touch you.”
The Artifact uses its inflict pain power against all of the player characters to disable them. Green lightning seems to shoot out of the center of the star and pour over the squad. Since the Artifact is using its power against all the characters at once, reduce its die code by 1D per character after the first. This gives the player characters a shot at overcoming the pain and acting before Tora can touch any of them with the Artifact (which she attempts to do on her next action). Any player character touched by the Artifact must make a Heroic Perception roll to avoid being taken over by it.
The squad members may be able to defeat Tora and the station personnel with her, but the Artifact still controls everyone else in the station and will try to use them to escape on board the Imperial ship that is coming, where it can spread its control. The squad has little or no chance of destroying the research station while the Artifact still has people under its control. Their only hope is to break its hold over them somehow.
- A Heroic use of con or persuasion allows Tora to muster the will needed to break the Artifact’s hold on her. The resulting backlash knocks all of the other thralls unconscious. The players should be encouraged to use roleplaying to try and talk Tora out of what she’s doing and make her recognize her duty to them and to the Rebellion (decrease the difficulty of the con or persuasion roll if the characters make a good case).
- A well-placed blaster-bolt might be able to “stun” the Artifact long enough to shake the personnel out of its grip. Treat the Artifact as having a Strength of 6D for purposes of damage, but treat all damage results as “Stun.” The squad does not have weapons powerful enough to seriously damage or destroy the Artifact. A “Stun” result creates a backlash that knocks all of the thralls unconscious.
Once the Artifact’s thralls are dealt with, the squad can use their thermal detonators to destroy the research station. The Artifact will oppose them however it can, but since it cannot move on its own, its abilities are limited to striking the characters with bolts of green lightning to stun them and using any remaining thralls against them. The characters will have a difficult time doing anything more than leaving the Artifact where it is; none of them can touch it without risking being taken over, and the Artifact is capable of striking at them from a distance whenever it wishes. The characters may come up with a means to take the Artifact with them but, more likely, they’ll leave it behind and hope it’s destroyed in the explosion.
When the squad deals with the Artifact and completes its mission, read aloud:
You clear out of the research station just before the explosion. The station domes are outlined for a moment in crackling green lightning, then the whole place goes up in a massive fireball with a loud “WHOOM!”. Bits of flaming debris scatter everywhere before the fires are quickly snuffed by the winds and blowing sand.
You make it to your ship and prepare for take-off, when the instruments report a large object coming out of hyperspace very near to the planet. It’s an Imperial Star Destroyer! It looks like you’re about to have unwanted company real soon now.
The Star Destroyer’s sensors cannot penetrate En Sira’ atmosphere sufficiently to determine the status of the research station, but there is no answer to their hails, so they assume the worst. As the characters’ ship leaves the atmosphere, four TIE fighters are sent to intercept them. The fighters will try to disable their ship at first, but will shoot to kill if fired upon.
The player characters (or Tora Kel) might be able to bluff their way past the TIE fighters and keep them from firing long enough to make the calculations to jump to lightspeed (a Very Difficult con roll). Otherwise, they have to hold off the fighters long enough to make the jump and escape. The Star Destroyer will try to get into position to lock onto the escaping ship with a tractor beam, but it will not attack. The characters have three combat rounds to make their jump before the Destroyer attempts to lock onto them.
BR-23 Courier. Starfighter. Maneuverability 1D, space 5, atmosphere 295; 850 kmh, hull 3D+2, shields 1D+2. Weapons: 2 laser cannons (fire control 1D, damage 4D).
TIE Fighters. Starfighter. Maneuverability 2D, space 10, atmosphere 415; 1200 kmh, hull 2D, shields (none). Weapons: 2 laser cannons (fire control 2D, damage 5D)
Imperial Star Destroyer. Capitol ship. Maneuverability 1D, space 6, hull 7D, shields 3D. Weapons: 60 turbolaser batteries (fire control 4D, damage 5D), 60 ion cannon (fire control 2D+2, damage 3D), 10 tractor beam projectors (fire control 4D, damage 6D)
The Artifact could survive the destruction of the research lab. If it is discovered by Imperial troops it may take control of them, or simply allow them to take it to a research lab somewhere else with more suitable thralls. The gamemaster could have the Artifact surface again to trouble the player characters, or could run a different adventure with Imperial SpecForces trying to deal with the threat of the Artifact!
The Artifact could turn out to be just one sample of an alien technology the characters might encounter again. Gamemasters could link it to other adventures, such as the “Darkstryder technology” from the Darkstryder Campaign.
If the gamemaster wants a real bang-up ending, damage to the Artifact could cause it to explode with enough force to level the research station, forcing the squad to clear out before the blast goes off.
For an additional twist, Tora Kel could be a willing servant of the Artifact, not under its control. Or perhaps the Artifact is not intelligent at all, it is under Tora’s control! The power of the alien technology has corrupted her and she plans to use it to her own benefit.
Characters should receive one or two Character Points per episode (depending on roleplaying and how well they carried out their mission).