Adventure: The Birth of Highbreed

One of my favorite story arches from my version of Star Frontiers is the Highbreed story.  It started as a revamped version of the Eleanor Moraes adventure.  Here is some of the notes I wrote to form this adventure.  I used the  Eleanor Moraes adventure as an outline for this adventure , borrowing the maps, etc.  This was heavily inspired by the movie, Nightbreed, and the book it was based on.  

I later used this as a basis for a Fading Suns campaign (changing the origin of The Master, linking it to Ancient Aliens).  Although the campaign did not end as I would have liked, the core of the plot was awesome.  The religious overtones of the setting made the core elements of this story arch stand out more.  I love that setting so much.  Later, I revisited a third time in my Star*Drive Frontiers campaign (Alternity/True20) that never got finished but got to a decent stopping point (again using the Ancient Alien origin of the Master).  

However, this is the original and what started it all.  I cobbled together as many of the notes I had and formulated it into the GDW standard BASICS/PUSH/PULL/GIMMICK/ENIGMA format, because I wrote this before I started using that standard. 


Planet of the Drell

BASICS

Year: 178 Fy

altransia

As part of a revived  Eleanor Moraes project, the PCs are hired by CDC  to help with a routine planetary survey.  The planet is called Altrensia (designation D-9-46) and initial satellite surveys indicate the planet is perfect for colonization and there is no intelligent life to “interfere” with (it being against Star Law statutes to interfere with develop civilizations [Star Trek’s Prime Directive]).   The PCs will be part of a crew onboard the Eleanor Moraes IV.

altrensia1
Altrensia Map, photoshopped from original sketch

Altrensia bright sun, thin atmosphere, and in the equatorial regions, rain every 3 days.

{See specs of the original Eleanor Moraes adventure, modified to fit this adventure.  Airship and Aircar included.  Robots modified. No masks needed to breath the air.}

Eleanor Moraes IV Security Equipment Available (additional)

Vehicles

  • Survey Car (x1), unarmed
  • Air Transport (x1), can be mounted with a heavy laser in place of utility mounts.
  • Airship (x2)

Tools

  • Geological Cutting Laser (x5)

Weapons

  • Auto-shotguns (x5)
  • Grenade Rifles (x5) – (doze, flash, irritant, nightfall, smoke, tangler)
  • Thrown Grenades (x50 each,  – doze, flash, irritant, nightfall, smoke, tangler)
  • Crossbows (x10)
  • Compound Bows (x10)

Defense

  • Skeinsuits (x10)
  • Albedo Suites (x5)
  • Slipsuits (x10)

Scanners 

  • Type C Motion (x1)
  • Type C Parabolic (x1)
  • Type C Radar (x1)
  • Type D Visual (x1)
  • Type B Infrared (x2)
  • Fauna CAS (x5)
  • Flora CAS (x5)
  • Geological CAS (x5)

Accessories 

  • Spy-Eye
  • Level 3 Maintenance Robots (x4) – capable of running the scanners.

Mines/Traps

  • Cricket Mines (x100)
  • Tripwire Flares (x200)
  • Robot-Sentries (x4) – Range 200 m, with Grenage Rifle (doze and tangler Grenades)

PULL

There is plenty that the CDC is leaving out that the PCs can find out with some investigation.

  • Although they did not see any signs of intelligent life (organized structures or agriculture, for example), CDC detected a pulsating source of energy that seems to be emanating for under the surface.
  • CDC suspects Streel activity in the region and want to beat them to the punch on developing this planet.

Brotherhood of Universal Salvation and Hope

There is also an anti-Expansionist terrorist group that is targeting the Eleanor Moraes project. This group – called the Brotherhood of Universal Salvation and Hope (BUSH) – has recently gained some support from a corporate source.

Sub-adventure – Investigating BUSH

The PCs can investigate BUSH further and learn somehow that there is a warehouse owned by a known anti-expansionist (suspected BUSH member).  Upon investigation, they find that the warehouse holds a large stash of weapons and equipment.  The warehouse is found in the middle of the water front on the edge of major city on the current planet.  The PCs can decide what to do about the stash, although they have no proof that it is going to support BUSH or any other terrorist group.  This can be found, however, in the warehouse office, on the computer, where they also find the source of the supplies – STREEL.

Encounter – BUSH attack – If the PCs somehow sabotage the weapons or report it, they will have avoided an attack by BUSH on the day of the Eleanor Moraes IV departure.  Otherwise, the attack will occur.

PUSH

Dropping out of the Void, they find themselves in the remote system of Altrear.  Navigating to the orbital plane of Altrensia proves to be a challenge but once past the several gravity well of the two proto-star like gas giants on the out edge of the system, the rest is smooth sailing.  Altrensia is a standard human normal planet with a very active atmosphere, 82% water, 28% landmass, and two very cold ice caps.  Sitting 1.1 AUs away from its primary star, Altrensias temperate zones are a little cool than human normal.

Day 1 – First Assignment & Things begin to get strange

Upon arrival on Altrensia , they discover a pleasant temperate world, heavily forested and mountainous, with excessive rain.  They are assigned to set up a security perimeter with the supplies at hand and schedule regular patrols while the scientists set up their survey equipment.

As part of their first assignment, the PCs attempt to patch into the survey satellite network only to discover several satellites are missing. A total of 9 were sent, but now a total 4 are missing now. (2 might have been noticed missing upon entry into orbit, but that is written off as a malfunction).

Upon observing initial robotic scout video recordings, the group spots something in the brush – something bipedal being wearing a robe.  No sign of the being is seen when the area is investigated.  Tracking reveals the trail of a bipedal creature ends abruptly deep in the forest (chance of getting lost?).

eleanor_moraes4_security1
Example of my player’s security layout

Day 2 – Comet

A satellite reports an incoming comet-like foreign body is inbound, with an estimated time of impact to be 1 hour.  The satellite estimates the object will not burn up in atmosphere, judging by its make up, and that it will hit in the vicinity of the Eleanor Moraes IV landing site.  Panic sets in as the crew scrambles to pack up everything and begin pre-flight.  But pre-flight takes too long. As they seen the comet trail bearing down on them, they watch as it suddenly shifts direction and impacts somewhere on the side of a nearby mountain. (see Hunters).

Day 3 – Balloon Ride (Airship)

Concerned about whatever that object was (the satellite network provided very little information), the PCs are assigned as security for the survey team as they take an airship ride to do standard surveys and fly over in the vicinity of the impact site, as well.  Six scientists are sent long with the PCs.

Streel Attack

Streel Aircars will attack the airship as it approaches the impact zone, causing it to crash in the middle of the jungle. The PCs and scientists will survive the crash but the airship is a total wreck.  They recover what they can and begin the trek back.  In their exploration, they discover odd veins of a strange crystalline structure in rock formations around the base of the mountain. [Any psionically gifted person will note slight psionic energy emanating from the veins.

First contact with the Highbreed

The PCs will encounter a lone creature that seems intelligent but quite strange (a lost Highbreed, perhaps a child).  It knows Standard Pan-Gal and speaks to them if approached.  The creature – named Angel – wishes to find its home.  They notice the young child-thing wears an amulet of that same crystal as they found in the rock formations.  If she is asked about it, she calls it her Drell.

Presumably, the PCs offer help and protection.  At some point after that (immediately, that night, the next day?), a Hunter (see Hunters).

The Keep.  

The young Highbreed child takes them to what she calls the Keep.  There they find a wide variety of strange creatures (the Highbreed), all wearing a crystal amulet.  They all call it their Drell. The Keep appears to be a refuge for all these strange beings.  They are not forthcoming about origins but they do say they owe everything to the Drell.

The Highbreed is lead by a council .  The spokesman for the council is a large roughly humanoid creature named Dorig.  The council is also made up of the following: Drink an aquatic and telepathic creature that moves around inside a hovering tank of water, pushed by several small creatures;  Emon, a three legged giant creature with one eye;  Ardyh, a single serpentine creature with 5 completely separate, independent and intelligent heads.

See The Highbreed

At some point, they may also learn that the Highbreed attempted to save the group from the “Comet.”  A Highbreed with strong telepathic ability used it to push the the ship away from their landing zone. (see The Hunters).

The Keep appears to be partially artificial.  As they explore, they discover it is an old Terran structure – perhaps a mine or manufacturing facility.  The facility is a multi-level structure embedded in the side of the mountain.  The Highbreed take up enough space in this structure to be a small city but there are other areas they have yet to explore.  [Random Encounters?] (This simple reveals the Terrans were here once.  Depending on the origin story, this could be significant.)

They also learn that the Drell taken directly from a special raw vein of the crystal found deep inside the Keep in a place called the Sancutary.  This Sanctuary is where the Highbreed commune with their “saviour”, the Drell.  If they ask to see this Sanctuary, they are met with some resistance. (See The Drell and the Master).   They will be brought before the council and judged.  Are they ‘Breed friend or fore?  After a grueling “trial,”  they are judged to be ‘Breed Friend.

The Sanctuary is deep within the Keep, where they find a huge vein of crystal protruding from the floor like the back of some subterranean beast.  This vein is the birthplace of all Drell that serve the Highbreed.  However, they learn that the vein is dying and the Drell keeping the Highbreed alive must reconnect with their Master (the central core of the world computer).  The Highbreed ask the PCs to help them find their Master and “…save them from their enemies…”

At some point, the PCs will need to conclude that the strange energy fluctuations found by the CDC orbital survey could be the Master.  If they don’t have the coordinates with them, they will have to retrieve them from the Eleanor Moraes IV.

STREEL ATTACK

Streel forces, lead by the Hunters, attack the Keep.  At the same time, they attack and seize the Eleanor Moraes IV landing site.  Hornflail and his forces hold them off while the PCs help the remainder of the Highbreed escape through the tunnels and out to the surface through a secret back way.  At some point, they will also discover that the remaining crew of the Eleanor Moraes IV is captured, currently being kept at the ship.

Free the Eleanor Moraes IV

The Eleanor Moraes IV landing site, 14 StREEL Agents holding the crew hostage while the Hunters do their job and clean up.  These men modified the security perimeter the PCs set up.  They will have to go through their own security measures to break out the crew.

Finding the Master

During this time, a torrential down pour should begin to add to the atmosphere.  The Coordinates of the strange pulsating power readings will lead them to the Master.  This leads to a Cave opening. A Hunter Attack will force the PCs and allies into the Cave and into the Maze of Relics.

After the Maze of Relics, the hallways lead to the final chamber where the Master’s Core is – a huge cavern lined with crystals (like the inside of a geode) .  Rejoining with the Core of the Master, the Drell are re-energized. A final battle with the STREEL strike team and the Hunters can occurs here. (See Finale Options)

GIMMICK

The Drell and the Master

The Drell are a complicated lifeform emanating from the crystalline structure found on Altransia.  They usually are found in group due to the fact that they can not survive alone.  They are also found in dark and damp places,usually warm, and are sensitive to light.  The Drell are grown from veins of crystal that are found all over Altrensia.  However, they are not natural.

There are two possible origins of the crystals veins [GM’s Discretion]

ANCIENT ALIENS:  An ancient alien race that had long ago colonized the world, integrating their own world-spanning computer into the planet’s crust.  This massive organic computer was implanted into the crust and grew as the colony grew.  It controlled every aspect of the lives of the colony, giving the citizen time for more higher pursuits [ascension to a higher existence?].  When the colony was abandoned (for whatever reason), the computer was left behind.  They expected it to simply die off.  However, it did not, and instead, tapped the planet core for energy and evolved into self-awareness. It’s crystalline rooms spread all across the planet, appearing like nature crystalline formations.  Later, the Terran Empire colonized the world and mined the crystals, tapping its power for its own world spanning computer.

TERRAN EMPIRE:  The Terran Empire colonized the world, integrating a world-spanning computer into the planet’s crust [perhaps experimenting with ancient alien tech].  This massive organic computer was implanted into the crust and grew as the colony grew.  It controlled every aspect of the lives of the colony.  When the colony was abandoned (for whatever reason), the computer was left behind.  They expected it to simply die off.  However, it did not, and instead, tapped the planet core for energy and evolved into self-awareness. It’s crystalline rooms spread all across the planet, appearing like nature crystalline formations.

Over time, tectonic activity caused these veins to be separated from their “Master.”  Those separated from the Master continued to exist as separate lesser entities, longing to be rejoined with the whole. The Drell grew out of these veins.  The longing to rejoin with the Master was embodied in the Drell.  The grow and fade over the seasons like tree leaves.  This cycle continued into the Highbreed came along.

Streel & The Dumping Ground

The Highbreed are genetically engineered experiments and cast offs, created by Streel and their allies.  Altrensia became their testing and dumping ground.  Streel built in a 4 year life span into each of the creatures, however.  They expected them all to die off eventually.  This all changed when the Highbreed stumbled across the Drell.

The Highbreed and the Drell

The Highbreed and the Drell established a mental and physical symbiosis that can not be explained.  The Drell, although not self-aware [they are virtually mindless], contains enough knowledge and mental energy to give any semi-intelligent being super intelligence and incredible mental powers, if the creatures neural systems could handle it.  With the merging of organic neural system, the Drell were able to not only give the Highbreed life beyond their 4 year lifespan, but also heal their genetic flaws and mistakes, give them a higher intelligence and understanding, and some even gained mental abilities.  Injecting nano-crystals within the bloodstream of the Highbreed, they became one with the genetic cast-offs of Streel.

See The Highbreed

The Drell are naturally peaceful and struggle with some of the savage natures of the Highbreed.  The Highbreed at times find their abilities granted to them by the Drell diminished during times of violence.  The Drell will allow the Highbreed to defend themselves but never for an overt act of aggression.  The Drell also can not live alone.  They must be sync’ed up with a crystalline vein or a symbiotic partner.

The Hunters

See the Hunters Stats here.

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On Day 2 – Comet, the comet was actually the Hunters Drop ship.  It was intended to drop near the Eleanor Moraes IV but something prevented it.  A very powerful Highbreed with strong telekinesis powers deflected the Dropship into the mountain side, in hopes of destroying it.  It did kill many of the support troops but the core Hunter team survived.

They are accompanied by a STREEL Strike team of elite soldiers.  [I created a team of genetically engineered soldiers that were like Saurons but never stat’ed them out].


FINALE OPTIONS

Battle it out:  Once the PCs have a chance fully explore the Master’s Core chamber and find safe places for the non-combatant Highbreed, the Hunters arrive to attack.  The GM can include as many Hunters as they feel would challenge the PCs as  well as STREEL regulars.

Use the Drell:  While the battle rages, someone may get the idea if they can get a Drell on the Hunter and his mount.  The Master is convinced that he can change the mission of the Hunter of he can make a connection through the Drell.

 

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