Traversing the vase depths of interstellar space, a spaceship is many things co its passengers and crew: safety, transportation, convenience, home. Available in a myriad of shapes and sizes constrained only by style, technology, and budget, the spaceship might house the foes of the players’ characters or serves them as a base of operations from which to explore the w1known. When used as an adventure location instead of a vehicle, the spaceship provides many exciting adventure possibilities. It might be the object of a search – buried under arctic ice, crash-landed in the jungle, or hidden in the depths of the sea. Or, it can serve as a means of bringing the adventure to the characters, with its alien crew contacting or abducting them.
For adventure setting purposes, it is not the ship as a vehicle that is important. Rather, it’s the ship as a place, particularly one with numerous aspects to it that are only slightly familiar to Humans – or maybe so strange as to prove bothersome to Human senses. Perhaps a barely breathable or odious atmosphere is present, gloomily lit by eerie green or grey lighting. Perhaps the lighting is subject to an odd Doppler shift, giving everything a fuzzy, out-of-focus look (+20 to sight-based difficulties). The strange atmosphere (thick, thin, with a distinctive taste or odor, ere.) and quasi-metallic wall places may distort sounds, creating bizarre echoes or hair-raising subsonic noises.
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A flattened ovoid, the traditional flying saucer has long been a staple of science-fiction. The flattened ovoid design theoretically improves speed if an “etheric drive” is utilized to reduce drag from normal space or atmospheric entry. The shape can also serve to reduce sensor detection. Overall, the ovoid hull eats up some usable crew space, but fuel or equipment parts may be stored in the uninhabitable cubby spaces.
This example is operated by the mysterious Greys, who have appeared countless times in literature as foes, tourists, amoral scientists, refugees from distant alien wars, or bored biology students.
The Harvester-Scout (scale 14) boasts a modest faster-than-light drive (approximately three light years per day) and fairly slow sublight engine. Its alloyed hull provides moderate protection (Toughness 30) – even a low-tech missile can bring it down.
Thus, the mysterious Greys seek co avoid detection and combat at all costs: The ship boasts extremely refined stealth systems, including electromagnetic emissions control, direct sensor bafflers, and a holographic shield co prevent visual detection. The systems tend to be quire fragile, and a crash landing or battle damage can easily disrupt them. Rumors that ships such as chis have appeared with blazing search and navigation lights cause UFO hw1ters no end of confusion. Perhaps other races are visiting Earth use similar means of transportation and are not as concerned about stealth. Entry to the ship is via the lift-tube (1) located on the craft’s axis. The cube extends downward to the ground approximately nine meters. Once in the life, access to any deck is possible (unless the Greys have activated a security lock-out). Several maintenance hatches (at the Game Masters’ discretion) are placed on the upper and lower hull surfaces. Normally sealed, characters may find some have blown open during combat or cl1e subsequent crash landing.
The lower deck will be the first deck the life-tube provides access to. It houses the engineering core (11), which provides access to the large realspace drive (13) and its venting pores, the FTL drive (12), and the ship’s weapon mount (14). Note the weapon mount is fixed- the ship must be maneuvered in order co line up a shot on the horizontal axis. The weapon can traverse vertically approximately 20 degrees in either arc. All the equipment in chis section is very fragile – weapons fire or even low-tech explosives can wreak havoc with the engines (which may contain caustic chemicals and poisonous fuels for added excitement). In a “crash- landed” scenario, the engineering deck may be a very dangerous mess – and the ship’s computer or crew may have sealed the lift-tube doors to stop chemical fires and radiation leaks. There are several crawl spaces throughout the engineering deck, allowing the diminutive Grey engineers access to various components ( + 10 to movement difficulties for beings of scale 0).
The middle deck is the main section of the ship. Three doorways lead from the lift-tube room. One leads into general storage (9) where various odds and ends of alien technology are stored, including concentrated foodstuffs and miscellaneous baggage. (In some configurations of the ship, the auxiliary storage area along the main corridor serves as a lab, communication room, or other specialized area.) A door leads to an axial corridor providing access deeper into the deck. The final door leads to a disturbing place: the operating theatre wherein many a hapless person has awoken to strange creatures or machines looming over him, inserting probes into his bodily cavities or bringing whining saws or drills on-line. The theatre houses stationary operating tables, holding tanks and tubes, odd machines and sensors suspended from ceiling mounts, and large animal pens (most often holding a cow or two). A large hatch at the back of the room drops down allowing for quick loading of victims via a ramp or small (900-kilogram capacity) tractor beam.
When the Greys aren’t happily vivisecting some poor Terran creature, people are held in a series of prisoner cells (7) accessible by a door to the operating theatre. The cells are sparse, with a waste pit hole, water dispenser, and little else – prisoners are too drugged, psychically stunned, or shocked to complain much.
On the opposite side of the hull are the crew quarters (8). lhe bizarre living quarters of the crew may consist of bare floors and a zero-g floating mat resembling half of a glowing green coconut, pools of gelatin-like slime serving as sleeping and recreation areas, or a perfectly preserved room from Victorian England, replete with gold trim, marble floors, stone fireplace and heavy tapestries.
The final room on the deck is the armory (10) located on the axial corridor. Here, the Greys keep their stunners, drug-devices, psionic mind-wrenches, plasma guns, and the like.
The upper deck is the nerve center for the ship. It houses the bridge (2), with a huge built-in viewscreen and numerous acceleration couches or command chairs, instruments busily burbling and bleeping, and most likely a crew determined to self- destruct the ship before the Humans can claim it. Two large cylindrical tubes with glowing interiors housing things that look like brains of cows comprise the computer core (3) The computer system is extremely alien and attempting any task with it should be Very Difficult under the most generous circumstances. A cryo-tubes section (4) allows the crew to be safely ensconced for extremely long journeys. Crewmen injured beyond the capability of the Grey surgeons to heal are placed here. This can be an idea place to trap players’ character who want to try them out. Alternatively, the interstellar travel using Grey technology is too dangerous for living Humans – they must take some very risky chances and use the cryo-tubes during any space voyage. Lastly, a maintenance ring (5) runs the circumference of the ship on all three decks. This ring gives access the hull, sensors, other concealed machinery for repairs. The interior walls have a Toughness of 5D. Doors have a Toughness of 3D with Difficult to Very Difficult security electronic locks (security may be out of commission if the ship is crashed). The prison cells may use forcefields (possibly shorted out or intensified during a crash) or solid doors with 5D damage resistance and Heroic security electronic locks. Most interior equipment has damage resistance of 2D to 4D – and possibly containing odd chemicals or flammable lubricants.
Combat in the ship should be very difficult for characters – remember the Greys are bizarre.
They see in very dim, odd-colored light, breathe a strange atmosphere and hear at a much higher frequency. They may even be capable of crawling on walls or ceilings using sticky membranes on their limbs. To emphasize the alienness of the setting, combat and exploration modifiers range from + 5 to + 15 or more to difficulty numbers. It may be hard to dodge when you cannot correctly determine how the wall is shaped or even where it is! Shooting a Grey at short range while trying to see past nauseating green strobe lighting with luminous mists flowing around makes even an expert marksman flinch.
Things to See
+ Handheld electronic devices and weapons of unearthly origin
+ Strange food in simply marked plastic-like, vacuum-sealed containers or bags
+ Medical instruments only vaguely resembling anything seen on Earth
+ Narrow metal examination table, attached to the floor
+ Sheets of thin plastic-like material inscribed with strange characters – they could be instruction manuals or letters home
+ Shimmering fabric, draped over beds or cut into robes, with a thickness of cotton but the feel of silk and a toughness of woven metal
People to Meet
The stereotypical alien manning a saucer-shaped craft is generally not any more physically sturdy than a Human. Other people that characters might encounter include cultists, treasure seekers, scientists, soldiers, and members of secret government agencies. For cultists and treasure seekers, use the generic person described in the introduction.
Secret Government Agency Officer: Reflexes 2D, brawling 2D+2, dodge 2D+2, Coordination 2D, marksmanship 2D+2, piloting 2D+2, Physique 2D, running 3D, Knowledge 2D, medicine 2D+1, scholar 2D+1: aliens and extranormal phenomena +1D, tech 2D+1, Perception 2D, hide 2D+2, investigation 3D, search 3D, streetwise 2D+1, tracking 2D+1, Presence 2D, persuasion 2D+1, intimidation 2D+2, willpower 2D+1. Move: 10. Strength Damage: 1D. Body Points: 12. Wound levels: 2.
Things to Do
+ A group of wacky cultists, who call them- selves the Cultists of the Star-Born, hold regular services aboard a downed UFO, convinced the major religious and social figures of history were actually beneficent aliens in disguise. The players’ characters stumble across or are sent to investigate this small cult located in a rural area.
Upon arrival, the investigators muse cry to figure out who the cultists are, where they are meeting, and why. Eventually, the characters gain entry to the ship – which could be an oversized version of the one presented here – and overhear the cultists during their venerations.
But all is not well. During this particular service, the additional warm ch of the characters has activated the dormant self-defense artificial intelligence aboard the ship, which is now using its “bio-breeder” (replace the cryo-cubes in area 4) to create a very dangerous series of bioroids. At first, the creatures begin knocking off lone cultists exploring or praying in various sections of the ship. Eventually, enough bioroids appear for a concerted attack on the mass cult gathering. In the confusion and slaughter (highlighted by bewildered cultists praying to their alien gods in an attempt to appease them), the characters must rescue the doomed fools and themselves.
+ A sunken alien ship is found in the South Pacific dating from World War II (or during the war!). The players’ characters are assigned to investigate.
Little do they know, the intelligent ship seeks a new crew and picks up the hapless heroes in its quest to complete a mission co Alpha Centauri! There, it hopes to find the cryo-preserved remains of its race at a long-abandoned sci en ti fie outpost. The hideous- looking aliens are all that is left of a peaceful star-faring people. The characters, during the month-long trip to the outpost, learn co make friendly contact with the ship and begin co assimilate some skills, allowing a degree of control and interaction with the craft. Such skills may include stardrive repair, starship gunnery, and space navigation.
However, as they arrive at the outpost, the evil cybernetic insectoids who wiped out the ship’s creators are alerted. The characters must revive the last members of the shipbuilder’s race, escape the insectoid’s ground forces in a running gun battle (made survivable thanks only to the characters’ lower tech weapons), and evade the insectoid fleet.
Eventually, the characters must help the shipbuilders find a new home and a new beginning – perhaps on a small blue planet called … Earth.