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Trinity RPG - Invasion of Absolute Zero - A Trinity Campaign

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Invasion of Absolute Zero - A Trinity Campaign, by Chris Hill

Summary: An epic adventure set on the A-Z space station in 'The Belt'

Status: Incomplete, but getting there slowly

How it came to be

This was the first A-Z campaign that I ran, and the second major campaign (the first being the Darkness Revealed Trilogy by White Wolf).

I'd wanted to further explore the possibilities of the 'Moss Eisley' style space port, the brief description of A-Z in the Trinity main book, and the Zeronet web pages caught my eye so I went for A-Z as the setting. I based the outline of the setting on the Zeronet pages, and kept some things the same - but I made large amounts of additions and modifications to this material.

The primary idea was to make the setting usable as a longer-term campaign setting, ideally getting a couple or three campaigns out of each group of characters. In order to do this, considering the wild cards my players normally throw at me, I decided to emphasize the diverse nature of the station as well as the criminal element - but in order to make the whole place workable in the longer term I played up the efforts of the station authorities (such as they are) to keep a semblance of order, if not necessarily law.

Building on the idea laid out in the Zeronet pages that money can buy you anything on the station, I 'institutionalized' things such as bribery and corruption via the local authority (the Fuyoushi Advisory Council) and heavily played up the idea of obtaining licenses and permit for things that might be considered illegal elsewhere (high power weapons, borderline 'dodgy' star ships etc).

I also built on the ISRA / Police Force relationship to show that when things were going very bad (i.e., the players running amok), then the authorities could and would act decisively.

To give the characters plenty to explore as well as the Promenade and the various space docks, I opened up the lower levels of the station, and kept them relatively lawless - organized into local gangs and the like. Here I fleshed out the habitat modules, although in my mind these areas were quite large, so I knew I had plenty of room for expansion in later games.

I also kept the top levels and the station and command and control almost completely off limits - this helped to add a level of mystique to the powers that be, and kept the players from getting a little bit to gung-ho in game. The idea that the 'real power' on the station was shrouded in mystery and couldn't be easily accessed helped to keep a balance on the activities of the characters.

Finally, as the players relied on the ST to obtain information from 3rd parties on the station, I used the opportunity to turn the Zeronet Avatar - Natty - into the 'comic gal' providing light relief when it was need - this became a very useful tool! Natty was a great idea by the creator of the Zeronet web pages, and I used her to great effect as a comic element, as well as an inexhaustible supply of local information. As the station ended up being very, very large, full of tens of thousands of inhabitants, this helped a great deal.

What I've detailed below is the various main elements of the stories that I ran that made up the first campaign, retrospectively called 'Invasion of A-Z' (I really was never one for game titles!).

The game ran for about 8 months, once a week, 4 hours a session - so as you can imagine there was a lot happening - the Story Segments below details the main plot areas of the campaign, but you will need to let the players fill out the times in between with their own activities. Just an example of some of the things my players (not necessarily in concert!) got up to during 'non-plot' time included:

  • Getting involved in transporting illegal bioapps
  • Trying to mix with the more 'respected' gangsters on the station
  • Doing a variety of crooked deals with 'A'
  • Set up their own nightclub on The Promenade - The Pulse
  • Some started working for the Aeon Trinity
  • Became local business leaders
  • Became local celebrities
  • Went head to head with the gangs in the lower levels (retrospectively called 'Sub-Zero') and established medical supplies, power and food/water trains to Sub-Zero
  • Set up a clinic (the Aesculapian of the party) in Sub-Zero
  • Bought up property
  • Spent a vast amount of time trying to figure out who the heads of the FAC really were (like I'm gonna tell!)
  • Made contacts with the Triads in Sub-zero

    Well, to be completely honest theme and mood is up to you. There are so many possibilities with Absolute Zero. I went for a survival of the fittest - becoming a fight for, quite literally, survival kind of game. The one thing I found with the setting is that there are so many possibilities. I suggest you decide on theme and mood, and see how it takes you from there.

    The only thing I'd advise is see if you can get the players to have characters that are no longer tied to an Order if possible, or if the players prefer Order affiliations, try to get them to be OK with criminal activities.

    A-Z runs on money and crime, its that simple. 'Whiter than white types' will not find the game enjoyable. A-Z is shades of gray and a large helping of murky black.

    I started the characters out with a bit of money and each had a good reason for being on the station - one was sent by his order (the ISRA'n) for reasons I never fully explained (hey its ISRA!), another was fleeing his Order (Ministry), another was so incompetent that his Order was glad to be rid of him, another was a neutral gun for hire etc. You get the idea that the PC's were not angels, OK?

    The main idea was to give the characters, who were on the run, or far away from back-up, the opportunity to set up a base camp of sorts on the station.

    Be aware that by the time we got playing the characters were all mercenary minded, and it took a bit of work to get the players to co-operate. This can be done quite easily though with a bit of imagination.

    The first three campaigns I ran (Ok, so I'm writing the third at the moment…) were based around the behind the scenes plot in the various Trinity supplements that indicate that Aberrants are getting more and more organized, perhaps with a view to trying to reclaim earth.

    It is important to remember that at the time of writing the first campaign, a good few of the Trinity books had not come out. So I made some assumptions that did not ultimately tie in with canon publications. This should have no great bearing on your game if you choose to run this campaign, but keep an eye our for little things that you might want to change.

    Here is the general back-plot.
    A powerful Nova calling himself TA0 is, for one reason or another, tasked with the taking of Absolute Zero to turn it into a stating platform and stronghold for the Aberrants.

    TA0 was chosen due to his relatively minor taint (he bears but a single point), and his powers center around magnetism. TA0 is also a Warper, and is able to move his followers around with ease. Finally, TA0 is incredibly charismatic, a facility that would find its uses on the station.

    Behind the scenes whilst the characters are getting to know each other and learn about the station, TA0 has several of his subjects (neutral followers) arrive at the station and take up residence in the lower levels (which were ultimately renamed 'Sub-zero' after the first campaign.

    TA0 arrives soon after, dormed down (why advertise!), and begins establishing his cult in the lower levels of the station.

    He quickly goes about gaining new followers, determining who are the major players on the station (he makes a point of learning about 'A') to ready for his ultimate 'invasion'.

    This is where things don't quite go to plan. Back in the center of humanity, TA0 starts to realize he can't quite go through with the plans his Aberrant masters have for him, and has actually come to like being at the center of a 'cult' of followers once again. He is also aware that he is about as out of reach of his master as he possibly could be. The station is well defended after all.

    During the course of the campaign, TA0's cultists start to make open displays of their worship for him, and TA0 allows himself to succumb to his own ego. He eventually makes a play to become the most prominent individual on the station during the Night of Murder.

    By this time he has decided that humanity at large will never fully accept him (especially those friendly with Psions, and those who listen to Aeon), and his masters will never forgive him for straying from their dictates.

    By the time the final showdown happens, TA0 is actually in a bit of a predicament. His followers have continued to bring dangerous attention, his actions during the Night of Murder have burnt more bridges than he realizes, and he cannot return to his masters.

    He needs to make a play for time.

    TA0 decides to take the characters into his confidence, attempting to turn their now (heightened) bloodlust into a wary respect. In his own way, TA0 almost comes to think of the characters as a way to change the situation he is in, by giving them information that Aeon itself would (and has) kill to protect.

    This then sets the scene for the next campaign, 'Return to A-Z' - like I said, I wasn't one for game titles.

    Like I mentioned above, the details below are from the main campaign 'Uberplot' - if there is anything you don't like, tear it out or come up with something of your own. If something will not work with your players / characters, then change it. Things went as below as I played on their characters motivations, backgrounds etc. The character 'Ben' started out as an innocent enough contact of one of the players, and ultimately became a major plot device!

    1 - Welcome to Absolute Zero
    • Arriving or meeting up at the station
    • Getting a feel for the layout
    • Meeting some local personalities (including the Zeronet Avatar - Natty)
    • Making some contacts (all legal-ish at this point)
    • Getting swindled at least once in the Marketplace
    • Sorting out places to stay / deciding upon what become regular haunts
    • Introduce characters to the laws regarding weapons permits and such via the FPF
    • Use this segment to introduce your version of A-Z, any relevant locals, organizations, businesses etc. I kept the players away from the rest of the station, focusing on the Promenade and the Space Docks. I started the characters out with about 5000 Yuan each, good reasons to be on the station (some hiding, some fleeing, some local etc).

      You'll find that a good couple of sessions can be got out of introducing the characters to the station. I pretty much let them do what they wanted, within the boundaries of the setting - which worked well, the players got a chance to set their own roots on the station, which is very important later in the game - they ultimately have to feel like they have something to defend, or loose if the station 'went under'.

      2 - Going into Business
      • Finding a reason to stay, longer term, on the station
      • Discovering all the wonderful rules, regs and paperwork that surrounds the authorities
      • See if the players will into business for themselves, it's a great setting for it, and places the characters slightly in the 'open', with a least one group (public, FAC, FPF, Businesspeople, Criminals etc) - which comes in useful for providing side adventures
      • Meeting the various financial institutes on the station (my favorite was taking the basic description of Travis Finance in the A-Z Players Guide and turning it into a really nasty loan shark organization)
      • Getting the logistics of the business off the ground (my players went for a Promenade Nightspot, complete with maps, logo, advertising campaign etc - they kinda got into the game a bit! - they even had a grand opening!)

      Making a life for yourself on Absolute Zero requires brains as well as brawn. The characters will need both to a home for themselves on A-Z. This segment gives them an opportunity to try and make a go for it themselves, play on the character backgrounds here if you can as well as any connections they have already made. My players, being a showy bunch, went for a 'right in the open' business - a Night Club - on the top level of the Promenade, overlooking the marketplace on the lower level. This was perfect to be honest (if completely unexpected) as it game me a locale that all the characters had ties to (it was kind of a joint venture) and one that could be the center of much of the activity later on when the real trouble begins. No one said life on A-Z was easy.

      This segment of the campaign took several weeks, as the players made plans, met new people, (or didn't meet new people in the case of the FAC - although they tried) and generally set up home and shop for themselves.

      3 - A Meeting… with 'A'

        [*]First part of the Uberplot introduced

        [*]Characters are either introduced to the darker side of A-Z, or get more involved with it (if your players get into criminal activities of the bat)

        [*]Major campaign NPC introduced, who the characters should come to love to hate

        [*]This segment of the campaign introduces the characters to the enigmatic 'A', rumored to be a well-connected 'criminal free agent'.

        Play on the characters associations here if you can. The idea is that 'A' offers the characters something they can't refuse, something illegal - in the case of my players it was money in return for delivery of an item to people in the upper areas of the station. The players were interested as their characters not only needed money (setting up the business broke them a bit) and they desperately wanted to know more about the (to date) off limits upper sections of the station.

        Use whatever works best for you though. 'A' is a bad-ass, make no mistake. He is always involved in something highly illegal, his history is shrouded in mystery - a complete cipher. Play him as very menacing, there is thinly veiled anger or a threat underneath everything he says, every deal he makes - it is important that a relationship of sorts is established between the players and 'A' - as he is around until the end of the campaign (in fact, he made it through until the end of the second one I ran - although he met his end in the last session - big VARG!)

        'A' is also not at all stupid. He usually stays down in the space docks (public space docks, not the trader spacedocks), where his heavily jury-rigged ship is ready to go at a minutes notice. When not on his ship, 'A' is meeting with his various business and criminal contacts on the lower levels of the station, or very rarely, in the Belt itself (he has some pirate contacts).

        Storyteller's Only: 'A' is very, very powerful. What he doesn't want anyone to learn is that he's on the run - or more specifically, WHY he's on the run.

        'A' is on the run from non other than Orgotek's inner circle. 'A' is possibly one of the most powerful Tek's outside of this illustrious group. At some point in his long career, he angered someone very high up in Orgotek - high up enough to have warranted the attention of Orgotek's Option 8 from time to time.

        Why is 'A' on the station? Well, its far enough away from the big O to keep them from putting an end to his run for good (remember, this game is set before the return of the Upeo), and he can pretty much do what he wants here, provided he is careful - 'A' spends a lot of his time tying up loose ends on deals he is involved in.

        He will use the characters (and anybody else for that mater) for his own ends, whilst masterfully convincing them that they are acting on their own accord. I'll never forget that my players (well, some of them) were totally convinced that 'A' was a good guy - right until he tried to kill the lot of them in the second campaign!

        From a game mechanics perspective, 'A' is packing an awful lot of psionic capability (he has had the time and the resources to come up with a few new abilities of his own and has already developed something akin to the light bending ability of the Chromatics) - he has a heavily customized star ship, a lot of contacts on A-Z (he's been here for about 4 years), and has his fingers in everything from legitimate business, criminal gangs in Sub-Zero, murder, fraud etc.

        4 - The Assassination Attempt

          [*]Characters learn more about 'A' - or more to the point, his enemies

          [*]Just how dangerous the station can be is illustrated

          [*]During the course of the characters' dealings with 'A', there is an assassination attempt on him.

          A good place for this to happen is down in the space docks, or at a private rendezvous the characters and 'A' are having. Ensure that the characters and 'A' are together for this.

          The assassination attempt is made by Option 8 of Orgotek. Set this one up how you like, but the players must be there as well. Use O8 to the best of their ability, I had a strike team of 8 of them go after 'A', using every trick they are capable of.

          The idea is to get the characters to defend 'A', or at least themselves from O8.

          5 - Regrouping

          After nearly loosing their lives, the characters take time to regroup, adjust t recent events, and throw their efforts back into their business venture - for a very short time.

          6 - Questions and…. more questions

          Useful information comes from the most bizarre of places sometimes, and shows the characters how dangerous some of their new friends really are and who some of their new friends really are!

          7 - Old Man Zhunghoa

          Unbeknown to the characters, they make contact with the most powerful crime boss on the station! And he's such a nice guy J

          8 - Some vitally needed cash!

          With business pressures mounting, the local authorities taking their cut a well-needed financial shot in the arm comes from a shady source

          9 - Erm, who's that guy?!?!?!

          Whilst meeting 'A' about business, the characters are attacked by an extremely powerful foe - but who just really is the target?

          10 - Portents

          A series of disturbing events demonstrate a new player is in town - and he's playing for keeps.

          11 - Double Agent!

          Sometimes the most needed help comes from the most unlikely sources.

          12 - Night of Destruction

          As the characters try to come to grips with the fast paced events, the stakes are raised during the night of destruction as both the Fuyoushi Police Force and the Aeon Trinity itself devastated by coordinated attacks.

          13 - The Aftermath

          The events of the Night of destruction take their toll.

          14 - A rallying call

          The characters are thrown into the limelight with a rallying call from local business owners.

          15 - Friends in very high places

          The FAC, Aeon and the local law place a grave responsibility in the hands of the characters, which may very well get them ALL killed.

          16 - You know, this guy is complex!

          A surprising turn of events give the characters some backup, and a friend finally reveals his true colors

          17 - This just isn't right DAMMIT!

          The characters come to grips with moral questions posed by their actions, and see just how bad life can get on Absolute Zero

          18 - Trouble with the locals

          After stepping on more toes than they can count, the characters have to survive a backlash on several fronts.

          19 - Enemies move in

          The enemy reveals itself - and its true face is terrifying. The characters escape from the lower levels of the station - just.

          20 - Home sweet home

          Back in the relative peace and quiet of their premises, the characters assess the truth of the threat to the station.

          21 - TA0-sar

          Before the characters can move further, the enemy makes its most daring move yet!

          22 - The Cult of TA0

          With a pitched battle behind them, the characters find out everything they need to know - and the jigsaw puzzle is completed - except for one last vital piece.

          23 - Okay - we've had enough!

          Motivated into action, under pressure from the FAC, Aeon, the FPF and other quarters, the characters get the opportunity to take the fight to the enemy.

          24 - Where no one wants to go

          In the deepest depths of the station, the characters step foot behind enemy lines.

          25 - Showdown

          The final showdown with TA0 takes place, with help arriving from a couple of old 'friends'.

          26 - Revelations

          After all is said and done, the most startling revelation comes from the enemy and the characters have to think about whether they are fighting the correct war; setting the stage for the second campaign - Return to A-Z.

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