The word “laboratory” often conjures up images of strange chemicals bubbling through mazes of glass and tubes, or tests conducted on machinery of such complexity that even its creators cannot fully understand what they have designed. Many labs actually possess few chemicals and do not contain any equipment more complicated than a personal computer. They can focus on a variety of fields, including avionics, biochemistry, chemicals, electronics, the environment, genetics, medicine, nuclear and alternate forms of energy, physics, sewage treatment, and others. Which field and whether it focuses on research or development dictates how the laboratory will be stocked. (Thus, the “Things to See” list may not be appropriate for many circumstances, as it focuses on chemical- or physics- related fields.
Game Masters can nonetheless use the stereotypical think-tanks as the scene of heroic and dangerous showdowns with the forces of evil. Winding corridors; rooms packed with tubes and chemicals or wires and electrical sensors; roaming security guards, and distracted scientists and engineers – while far from reality – make for exciting confrontations in the laboratories of mad scientists, paramilitary special weapon design houses, or clandestine corporate or government medical research facilities, where all manners of potential hazards exist to hinder or assist the players’ characters.
Don’t Miss …
This secret underground lab complex has only two entrances above ground, disguised as nondescript white sheds located in one corner of a military airfield. Nobody pays them any attention, and no one questions the occasional foot traffic near the structures. Elevators within the sheds drop well over 50 meters below the surface, opening into an ordinary-looking office, much like any other located in a typical urban area, attended by a friendly receptionist. Trespassers are politely but firmly asked to leave, and security guards can be summoned at the tap of a button located on the floor beneath the receptionist’s desk.
Beyond the reception area lies another, larger office accommodating several company executives involved in the facility’s projects. This office is further subdivided by partitions into cubicles for various white-collar officials and supervising scientists. Two doors lead out of this room: one to a nearby underground housing and recreation complex, the other to the facility’s three main laboratories.
The first lab is lined with lockers and refrigerators contain traditional lab supplies: stock chemicals and biological agents; spare glassware and parts, and emergency medical equipment. The center of the room is filled with rows of tables bearing complicated arrangements of beakers, Bunsen burners, rubber tubes, and test tube racks.
The second lab is marked by a single large device of unknown manufacture and purpose, which stands in the middle of the floor. Power conduits and probe cables lead to the device from a variety of panels and monitoring devices, some of which stand on a heavy table nearby. The device has no identifiable markings, and appears as if it were of unearthly manufacture, but closer inspection reveals that some integrated parts, at least, were indeed made here on Earth. This is still not enough evidence to definitively place the device’s point of origin, though, and says nothing about its purpose other than that it uses electricity. A short passage leads to a small side room with copper mesh and lead panels on the walls. A bulletproof window, overlooking the enigmatic device in the next room, is near a desk that has a network port and docking station for a personal computer. Pens, paper, and a scientific calculator are in the single drawer, and a telephone sits next to the computer.
The third lab is predominately filled with large animal cages holding dozens of animal specimens, mostly dogs and baboons. These cages are stacked three high and line every available square inch of wall space. Two rows of desks occupy the middle of the floor, each with its own computer docking port, telephone, and drawers full of office supplies. Scattered throughout the three main facilities are restrooms, clothing and equipment lockers, and storerooms filled with sundry supplies.
Things to See
+ Glass beakers, test tubes, petri dishes, pipettes, and stirrers
+ Rubber hoses to fit over test tubes or spouts in the beakers
+ Metal test tube racks that hold several tubes
+ Steelyard balance
+ Analytical balance
+ Electron microscope
+ Binocular microscope
+ Safety glasses
+ White lab coats
+ Handheld fire extinguisher
+ Timer (stopwatch or electronic)
+ Large rectangular and small cylindrical batteries
+ Connecting wires and clips
+ Bunsen burner
+ Asbestos cooling trivet
+ Assortment of chemicals
+ Cages of small animals
People to Meet
Many labs hire college students to take care of routine tasks, such as feeding animals or compiling notes; they have 2D in each attribute (possibly 3D or 4D in Knowledge or Perception and less in the physical attributes) and a pip or two in tech, repair, scholar, and possibly know-how. Labs performing high profile or sensitive experiments often hire security guards. For these individuals, use the attributes and skills of the security guard.
Lab Assistant: Reflexes 1D+1, Coordination 1D+2, sleight of hand 2D, Physique 2D, lifting 2D+1, Knowledge 3D, scholar 3D+1, tech 3D+1, Perception 3D, investigation 3D+1, repair: lab equipment 3D+1, search 3D+1, Presence 2D, animal handling 2D+1. Move: 10. Strength Damage: 1D. Body Points: 8. Wound levels: 2.
Things to Do
+ The military had just finished primary trials of a hybrid animal species intended for special ops, but the program proved too successful, and the creature broke out of its cage. It is now hiding somewhere in the underground facility, and it has so far injured seven security guards foolish enough to block its path. The creature is well equipped to kill, thanks to its altered physiology, and top execs fear that it might escape from the compound, since on-site security forces are not up to the task of capturing it. If the creature does escape, they fear it might interbreed with one of its “parent” races (such as, Canis familiaris – the common dog) and create super offspring that would pose a tremendous threat to local citizens. The players’ characters might find themselves embroiled in this event for any number of reasons: Perhaps one is related to a lab employee, thus giving the character a personal stake in the mission. Alternatively, maybe a character owes one of the project’s scientists a big favor. The creature’s exact skills and abilities depend on the nature of the campaign and the relative abilities of the players’ characters, but it should be dangerous. The creature’s motivations are equally mysterious – is the creature a bloodthirsty beast intent on killing everyone in its path, or is it a semi-intelligent and self-aware victim of cruel experiments, simply trying to escape torture at the hands of soul- less researchers?