by by W.G. Armintrout
The Space / Horror adventure Flight 13, as originally written, contained several encounters that didn't fit into the final book. They are presented here for GMs who might enjoy implementing them in either a GURPS Horror or GURPS Space campaign. If you are planning to adventure in Flight 13 as a player, read no further.
The Research Goal: Many sentient societies share myths and legends about their eventual destruction, whether by their own hands or by supernatural means. It is often enlightening to expose the subjects to this experience, created from a selection of species mythology. Team Four will undertake this research, being careful to compare the observations with the decay of our own civilization.
– Excerpt, Markann Research Log
Using as their primary text the Book of Armageddon, a best-selling 20th-century novel about a coming apocalypse, the Markann are causing the plagues and afflictions associated with the "end of the world."
Abducted humans have been brainwashed, then restored to the community believing that they have undergone visions. These "prophets" roam this sector of the city, telling what they've seen. As the adventure begins, the sector has already been through three plagues – locusts, flies and frogs. While frightened congregations huddle together and harried evangelists accept confessions and perform baptisms by the hundreds, an equal number of self-proclaimed "regenerates" collect in the bars and clubs. Both groups have the attention of the Markann.
Jim Beacon – the NPC from the "Drinking Prophet" encounter, p. 22 – is no longer just a nut. His vision was hypnotically induced by the Markann.
Any character with Occultism (Earth / human) or Theology (Earth / human) hearing the vision may make a skill roll. If successful, they realize the purported vision contains elements from a dozen pre-21st-century human mythologies: Judeo-Christian, Moslem, Confucian, Olmec, and so on.
Any character with Psychology skill will be suspicious of the vision. On a successful Psychology skill roll (defaults to IQ-6), the adventurer discovers that the vision is hypnotic in origin. Further skill rolls may be made for every half hour of counseling, at -2 penalty – on a successful roll, Jim recalls being hypnotized and can describe the appearance of the Markann.
The Angel of Death. The party meets an angel – actually a Markann automaton – and must pass its "tests" or be exterminated.
Repent – or Die! The adventurers cross path with an evangelical "army" intent on reaping repentance . . . or death.
The Redemption Campfire. PCs needing refuge might stumble on an outdoor bonfire in a cemetery, where the friendly faithful await the rising of the dead.
The Research Goal: The Collegium wishes to acknowledge its debt to Drs. KKitdx and Kkkkpv of Team Five for their unique contribution to this series of destruction studies. while the application of violence alone often produces the revealing data we seek, the questions of individual integrity are also important – how the individual integrates himself within a society, and with what ethical standards.
The doctors' proposition is elegant in its simplicity: a violence cycle. By applying a violence factor (based on the subjects' natural mating instincts) in phases, Team Five can study both the violence and the individual consequences when the impulse has passed.
– Excerpt, Markann Research Log
The situation here was easy to create. Researchers commandeered a variety of commercial vehicles, concealed pheromone-gas generators within, and programmed driver-androids to travel randomly through the sector.
As a vehicle passes, it lays down a cloud of invisible gas affecting everything in the street, as well as first-story structures with open doors or windows. The gas persists for 20 minutes.
The pheromone gas causes a temporary rewiring of certain critical synapses within the human brain. Events which would otherwise elicit a sexual response – seeing an attractive member of the opposite sex, for instance – instead trigger fits of blind rage.
While the gas persists for only a short time, characters affected by the gas suffer the effects for (1d × 10) minutes from the time the poison was inhaled.
This affects both "Mr. Nice Guy" (p. 22) and "Survivor!" (p. 23).
Jose Armenta lived in a sector where the Markann experimenters incited their "humans" into passion-aroused violence. While under the influence of the air-borne drug, Jose killed a waitress at a sidewalk café. When the fit wore off, Jose was appalled at what he had done – and what, from the evidence of his eyes, others had done (he has seen many murder victims, but does not understand the sexual/drug angle).
This is the source of his Paranoia, and his Delusion that the Soviets are invading. When the PCs meet him, the Markann drug has totally worn off.
Toni Packard was visiting her sister at a local hospital when the chaos erupted. Like Jose, she is from the region where the battle of the sexes became outright war. All that Toni knows is that a doctor went berserk and attacked a nurse, after which he was bludgeoned to death by the rest of the female staff in the ward. When male patients came to the aid of the doctor (as Toni saw things), they were also subdued by the staff. (Any character hearing this tale must make a Fright Check.
The staff – not only nurses, but dieticians, candystripers, clerks, phlebotomists and janitorial help, all women – are now barricaded within a wing of the hospital. Toni was sent to find help. After driving fruitlessly about the city, she came here to trade her torn clothing for a fresh uniform from her locker. She is ransacking the desks, looking for anything which might be of use.
The Hospital War. Though the gas has worn off, the hospital blockade continues, with women barricaded in the medical center and a mob of angry, homicidal men beyond. Though the gas has long since dispersed, the war continued. The adventurers can avert disaster with daring and some good diplomacy – if they try.
The Ice Cream Truck. The adventurers themselves get dosed with the sex madness drug.
The Research Goal: The dominant sentient species has grown accustomed to being masters of their environment. Team Six will reverse that, introducing a number of simulacra individually possessed of abilities superior to those of the experimental subjects.
The simulacra have been programmed to hunt and destroy. Special thanks to Dr. Kkxkzx, for discovering a suitable pattern for the simulacra based on a popular entertainment media of the subjects.
– Excerpt, Markann Research Log
To terrorize the community, the Markann researchers want a being that is remorseless, unstoppable and terrifying. They also want something familiarly horrible to the human subjects. They selected as their model the protagonist of a series of psychopath horror movies . . .
William Daniels from "Taxi Driver" (p. 23) is now a psycho killer, following the Psycho Killer rules from GURPS Horror.
Chainsaw Killer. The adventurers are attacked by the archetypical Psycho Killer (see p. H52).
Horror Theatre. Attracted by the spotlights reflected from the clouds above, the PCs find a terrified mob of college students gathered near a sleazy movie theatre where showings of the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" have been in continuous progress for the last ten hours. This gathering is about to attract the assault of a dozen psycho automatons . . .
The Duel. The party are under attack by one psycho-killer robot, when a second one comes on the scene. Confused programming causes the two machines to begin a deadly duel to see who will get to exterminate the adventurers.
The basic idea is that the Pseudo-Humans from the adventure are not androids created by the Markann, but a subject race with unusual "plasmoid" biology.
This has two effects. First, it makes the Markann a little less powerful, if they don't have the technology to build human replicas from scratch. Secondly, it adds a potential plot element which can be useful in an extended campaign.
The Osmids live on the surface of K'ssg, concentrated mostly in the watered canyons. Each community is a tribe, made up of clans claiming descent from venerable ancestors – the ruler is the yulaf, or chief. They survive by raising crops in the thin soil, and by harvesting the cloud-borne spores in crevice-mounted nets.
The tribes are separate from, but totally at the mercy of, the Markann technocrats. Raiding Markann come twice yearly to most settlements, seizing specimens: sometimes the largest and young, for use in the forced-labor farms and mines; and other times a careful sampling, designed to match some need in the Markann experiments.
A few escape from the labor camps and return. Larger numbers of the experimental subjects return, but by Osmid custom do not speak of what they have been through except to their prophets – they are often scarred, physically and mentally.
These peaceful agrarians show no exterior hint of their unusual physiological abilities: they look like the humanoid bipeds found on half of the galaxy's known worlds. Their skin is thick-looking and the tan color of sanded wood. Their joints are thick, and their hands and feet are oversized – no one would ever mistake them for human. Osmids have hair only on the backs of their hands and feet, and on the tops of their heads. Hair color changes according to some internal rhythm, rippling through the hues from sandy-white to darkest brown; the change takes place only at the roots, so that the Osmid mane – usually braided and coiled around each ear – is striped.
However, all Osmids are plasmoid – that is, they have a limited ability to remold their bodies. If these physiological abilities were known to non-Markann scientists, they would speculate that the race is not natural, but was genetically engineered by one of the lost Precursor civilizations. (This alone could lead to an entire campaign.)
Unfortunately, the Osmids are known only to the Markann, who use them for their own amoral purposes.
Osmids are native to a 1.1-G Terrestrial world with an average temperature of 90 degrees – hot by human standards. On K'ssg, they wear heavy furs to protect against what they consider "cold" winds. They need oxygen to breathe, but have a wider tolerance than humans: the high-nitrogen, low-oxygen atmosphere on K'ssg is unpleasant but breathable to them.
Advantages and Disadvantages: Osmids have +2 to HT, + 1 to ST, and -1 to DX. They automatically have the advantages of Absolute Direction, Acceleration Tolerance, Ambidexterity, Common Sense, Double-Jointed, Empathy, Improved G-Tolerance (.3-G increment), Longevity, Plasmoid (special – see below), Rapid Healing, Regular Regeneration and Toughness (DR 2). They have the racial disadvantages of Enemy (Markann), Epilepsy, Pacifism (self-defense only), Phobia (machinery), Primi-tive (-6 TL), Stubbornness and Weak Will. In their natural state, they are 6" taller than humans of the same ST, and weigh 20 lbs. more than a human of the same height.
Osmid plasmoid physiology provides the following abilities:
Any Osmid can manipulate his skin, and the change will remain. Such molding is only skin deep (two inches maximum). An Osmid could sculpt a new face around his skull, for instance, but he couldn't mold a new hand from his chest. Takes 1 turn.
An Osmid can "pull" a limb or neck up to four feet in extra length. The limb or neck remains at a constant diameter – the new body material is "pulled" from the torso, which shrinks slightly. Similarly, limbs or neck can be folded all the way into the torso, leaving only appendages or a head jutting out. It takes 3 turns to fully extend or fold a limb.
The Markann have learned how to force the Osmid plasmoid physiology one step further: they can temporarily remold the entire anatomy of the beings, utilizing the Osmids' unique molecular structure against them.
The process requires special equipment and trained operators. It is very painful to the Osmid: if a Will roll is failed, the results are traumatic (a Fright Check at -10 penalty). However, in practice the Markann simultaneously "implant" a synthetic personality over the Osmid identity – the new creature believes himself to be normal, avoiding the immediate problems of trauma.
The rules in Flight 13 remain largely intact. The difference is that the Osmid "transformees" are not dissolving into goo, but transforming back to natural Osmid form.
On a critical success during the dissolution Fright Check, the character temporarily becomes a Split Personality (see p. B37). The Osmid personality surfaces. Both personalities in the body are aware of one another, and can use each other's memories.
Disregard the rules for "Resisting Dissolution" (p. 29).
Reunification begins when the transformee has totally dissolved, and lasts for 1d hours. During this time, the Osmid/implant personality is conscious, but the body will not perform any action – communication is possible only through telepathy (if a psionic PC is present).
At the end of reunification, the Osmid is again in its natural form. If hits were taken before or during regression, the new body is thinner than it was before – however, all parts are still there. (If a hand had been chopped off, it regrows during regression. The severed hand itself does not regress, though.)
During each hour of reunification, the implant personality – the PC's persona – must make a Will roll. If the roll fails, the personality "breaks up." The Osmid personality is left in sole charge of the body. This roll is modified by telepathic encouragement, as described under "Resisting Dissolution."
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