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Trinity RPG - Starship Downs

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Starship Downs

A Nordamerican Frontier Town

by Chris Schmidt



Mitchell Steinberg sighed lazily to himself. Watchtower duty was so boring. Months of nothing interspersed with quick bursts of violence. It was currently one of those "nothing periods."

The militiaman adjusted the autorifle slung over his right shoulder, and continued staring blankly out over the countryside. Sure, it was beautiful. Endless vistas of hills and pine forests, mountains visible in the distance. The chill breezes swept through all the time. Mitchell shivered. Those breezes always felt colder up here in the towers. And the view had become so common to his eyes it held little interest for him anymore. Still, Sheriff Torelli would have his ass if he was caught slacking off, so he huddled into his leather jacket and kept at it.

His relief would be here in another hour. He wished the time to pass faster as he watched the sun creep down towards the horizon. He wanted to go home. What was Maddie fixing for dinner tonight? Chicken? That sounded good. He was tired of nothing but vegetables. Meat was always a welcome change.

Mitchell glanced behind him at the town below. The smell of various suppers being prepared drifted up to him from the collection of log cabins. His stomach rumbled. Further off, he could see the farmers rounding up the pigs and locking them up for the night. An uneventful day.

In the American Outback, any uneventful day was a good one.

His gaze went to omnipresent L-B Mercury space freighter that formed a good chunk of the town itself. The gargantuan craft was impossible not to notice, and added an odd contrast to the quaint rustic feel of the rest of the town. Indeed, if not for the ship, one could not tell just by looking at the village that it was the 22nd century.

A shout came up from below. Militiamen were running for their positions. Raiders were coming, the word passed along. Mitchell saw the two huge laser cannons atop the freighter power up and shift towards the east. He looked in that direction. Although he could see no movement in the thick forest, he could hear the faint roar of hovercycles swooping through the trees.

The Land Sharks were coming. Again.


History

When an L-B Mercury freighter named "The Long Haul" crashed-landed in northern Montana in 2112, few would have expected the starship to still be a viable entity eight years later. But it has indeed become just that.

Captain Jonas Unger, owner of the Long Haul, was one of the few survivors when a flight control error caused an orbital passenger shuttle to go off-course and slam into the engines of the nearby freighter. Hanging around the Chinese Fengming lunar orbital station, waiting for permission to dock and deliver supplies, the Long Haul was out of sight of the shuttle when the tiny craft came around the station and went right into the freighter's engine exhaust. The resulting explosion blew out the Long Haul's engines and the big ship lost control.

Screaming for assistance over the comm, Captain Unger could only watch as his ship went spiraling down into the Earth's atmosphere. Many have asked why the FSM didn't blow the freighter out of the sky when they saw the Long Haul was coming into NordAmerican airspace. The simple answer was that the projected trajectory took the ship nowhere near any major urban areas, and was therefore a waste of ammo. Thus, the ship made clear passage through FSA airspace and met its doom on the ground. People as far away as the Portland-Vancouver Arcology claimed to have seen the Long Haul's blaze of glory as it fell from the heavens in a bright stream of plasma and debris across the evening sky.

Miraculously, the freighter survived the crash mostly intact. Skidding through miles of forestland (and killing thousands of trees in the process), the ship came to a stop against a hill on the edge of a small lake in the Montana wilderness. When the smoke cleared, the surviving crew (numbering only seven) found themselves situated in an envious place for a town to be built. Beautiful scenery, a ready water supply, and very distant from the nearest FSA facility. Only Jonas Unger was not happy about it.

His ship was no longer spaceworthy, and making it so again would cost as much as buying a whole new L-B Mercury. Checking things over, he found only the ship's power core, heavy laser cannons, sensors, and partial life support still functioning. The engines were totally slagged. Communications, flight control, the missile bay. They were all non-functional. The hull was breached in too many places to count.

The first few nights after the crash, the survivors stayed inside the ship, the partial life-support still providing heat during the cold nights. They were stuck out here. They had no real idea where they were nor anyway to leave. Even if they had vehicles and knew their position on a map, there were no roads leading anywhere. The crewmen spent their time scrounging supplies out of the wreckage and tending to their wounds from the crash.

Then, like a pack of wolves discovering a moose with a broken leg, the first outback gang found the Long Haul's remains. Calling themselves the Land Sharks, the small gang descended on the downed ship and attacked, swooping around on hovercycles and shooting slugthrower pistols. In the initial chaos, two crewmen were killed. Thinking quickly Unger ordered his people to man the still functioning laser cannons.

What resulted was the slaughter of the Land Sharks. 70% of the gangers were caught off-guard and killed when the huge cannons powered up and opened fire. The remaining Sharks fled for their lives. Unger and his now four crewmen realized they had a very powerful defense against the threat of outback gangs. It also made them a target -- for both the gangs and more honest Outback residents.

Squatters began arriving in numbers, having heard through the grapevine of the Land Sharks' humiliating defeat. Recognizing a safe haven when they saw one, people hiked through many kilometers of dangerous, gang-infested wilderness to reach the Long Haul. Upon arriving, they asked Captain Unger for permission to stay and live here.

Unger was undecided at first. He had no real plans for the future, but becoming a landlord to some-odd two dozen squatters was definitely not part of any ideas he had. Although a hard ship commander, he had enough of a heart not to turn these desperate people away and toss them to the badland predators. He allowed them to camp out in one of the ship's cargo bays.

Over the next few months, more and more refugees arrived. The cargo bays started to overflow with residents, so newcomers began camping outside the ship, setting up a shanty-town in the shadow of the freighter. The Land Sharks, having recruited major reinforcements, attacked again during this period. They were once again driven off when their sneak attack was detected by the ship's sensors, which Unger wisely had manned at all times.

The "townsfolk" had started to form a true community here, with Captain Unger as their reluctant "mayor." The squatters began to jokingly refer to their new settlement as "Starship Downs," in reference to the crashed freighter they all depended on for power and protection. Over time, the name would stick, and become a symbol of pride for the residents.

It didn't take long for the FSA government to take notice. A military patrol went out to investigate this new town in the summer of 2113. By now, the outdoor shanty-town included a few log cabins and a central "meeting place" around a large bonfire pit. The population had risen to 45-50 men, women and children, most from other outback towns, though a few had migrated from the arcologies. The coming of the FSA sent a shockwave through the townspeople.

They knew the paranoid FSM would never allow them to keep the heavy laser cannons the settlement depended so dearly on. When the ship's sensors detected and identified the small FSM convoy arriving for a "suprise inspection," Unger acted instantly. He tore out numerous controls and wires for the cannons, making them inoperable. Hoping that if the guns were non-functioning, the government agents wouldn't bother taking them, the townsfolk held their breath and waited.

It worked. Seeing nothing they considered illegal or threatening to the establishment, the FSM convoy left Starship Downs intact. Breathing a collective sigh of relief, the settlers set to work repairing the cannons before the gangs decided to strike again. In prediction of future FSA inspections, Unger jury-rigged a hidden "killswitch" for the lasers, enabling him to turn the cannons from active to inactive status with the press of a button. His foresight would indeed bear fruit in the years to come.

By now "Mayor" Unger had resigned himself to his new role in life. New settlers arrived in odd intervals every few months or so, adding to the growing population.

When Maria Torelli, a former FSM Colonel who had been court-martialed the prior year for severe insubordination, arrived in 2115, she offered her military experience to Unger as the town militia leader. Though suspicious of her FSM ties at first, Unger eventually came to trust Torelli and gave her the job. She began forming and training an effective militia immediately.

And thus, today, Starship Downs is a prosperous little town of roughly 300 residents. Mayor Jonas Unger and "Sheriff" Maria Torelli run the town almost jointly, with Torelli having taken over many of Unger's less liked responsibilities at his bequest. But Unger remains in control of the settlement. The Land Sharks are a constant threat. With their huge numbers, this gang has several times come close to overwhelming the town.


The Town

The Long Haul lies by a large lake, a small hill, some 200 feet high, between the port side and the lake. A wooden palisade was raised around the open starboard side in 2117, going from one end of the ship to the other, reaching some 600 meters in length. The town within the palisade consists of all log cabins now, with nary a tent in sight. Starship Downs is as much inside the freighter as without.

downsmap.jpg


The Ship

The bridge of the Long Haul is still in use, despite that the ship hasn't moved an inch in eight years. Here, the sensors are constantly monitored, giving the town an unparalleled early warning system. Life-forms and vehicle emissions can be detected up to five kilometers away at most. The countless pine trees and hills create far too many "sensor shadows" for the town to be comfortable with, as they provide too much cover for the gangers to use. At their five kilometer limit, readings are iffy at best. While tiny groups of gangers, alone or in pairs, could and have made it through the sensor net without notice, getting an attack force big enough to make an impact on the town is an impossible task. The sensors give Starship Downs a roughly two-minute warning of a massive group of raiders, which any settler will tell you is better than nothing.

The communications array has long since been repaired, but is rarely used. Making cell-transmissions costs too much for the dirt-poor townsfolk, and they never have anyone to call, anyway. They do try to keep in contact with other settlements, if only to keep track of what goes on "out there."

Crew quarters have become the town's "upper class quarter." Unger, Torelli, and the settlement's wealthiest residents reside here. While the grav-crystal grids and recylced air filters are offline, they are not needed, either. The life-support systems still regulate the ship's internal temperatures at a comfortable norm. The quarters' safe location within the armored hull of the craft makes the most envious residences in town.

The four huge cargo bays still see use, too. One has been converted into a town marketplace, where all citizens do their shopping in relative comfort (though the selection of goods is admittedly limited to the essentials of outback survival). Pottery, rope, hand-made clothes, seeds and other basics are available for barter here. Keep your yink; money is worthless here. Another bay has been turned into an auditorium/town hall, the all the settlers gather to discuss major issues, such as town defense and the possibility of opening trade routes to other villages. The last two cargo bays remain just that. They are used for storage. While larger freighters have more cargo space, the L-B Mercury was built for speed, and thus was limited to four bays.

The centerpoint of Starship Downs' defenses are the two heavy laser cannons. The huge guns, located on the ship's topside in forward and aft positions (thus there is one at each "end" of the town), are really the only thing keeping the Land Sharks away. While the town militia is well-trained, they are still no match for the numerous gangers. The cannons are not manned at all times, and are usually kept in the non-operational mode. When the 'Sharks are detected in the area, the killswitch is thrown and the gunnery crews (part of the militia, technically) man their stations.

The Palisade

This twenty-five-foot wall surrounds the outside town. 600 meters long and 200 meters wide, running the length of the freighter, the palisade is made of logs, each with its top end sharpened. There are six guard towers, each forty feet high. Two are up against the hull of the ship, two stand at the outer palisade corners, and two form the gate at the center of the main wall. Each tower is occupied by one militiaman at all times, more during emergencies. The gate, made of wooden planks, is reinforced with metal struts salvaged from the freighter, making it highly resistant to ramming. A catwalk runs along the inside of the palisade, five feet below the topline of the wall. Ladders can be found by the gate and at each "hulltower" to reach the catwalk. (Access to the top of the freighter is only available from within the ship.)

Recently, Sheriff Torelli has proposed the idea of expanding the palisade to encompass the entire starship, reaching around both ends and out to the lakeshore. This would provide not only safer access to the lake, but room for more cabins, gardens, and animal pens, thus increasing living space and food production. Mayor Unger likes the idea, as does most of the township. Construction is expected to start within the next year.

Inside the Wall

The 12,000 square meter area within the palisade is well utilized. The "aft" end of town is filled with various vegetable gardens, pig and goat pens and chicken coops. The Downs' main food source is here. Supplemented with wild fruit and tubers from the forest, hunted game, and fish from the lake, the settlers enjoy a decent, if repetitive, diet. The pigs and chickens are only kept locked up at night. During the day, the animals roam freely through the town. Children do the job of keeping the pigs and goats away from the gardens, and usually have a lot of fun doing so.

The town well, dug in 2115, connects directly to the lake. It is located in the center of town, with easy access for both the farmers and the residential section. A metal grate made from a former engineroom deck plate was put in place at the well's inlet to the lake to prevent fish (and the stray swimming 'Shark) from coming up into the well.

The "forward" end of town is filled with log cabins. The majority of the Downs' population lives here. The cabins are each small and cozy, except for the few, larger, two-story cabins. Stone chimneys almost always have plumes of woodsmoke wafting up from them, the smells of old-fashioned cooking filling the streets as family's prepare their meals. The streets are all dirt paths, and none are named. In Starship Downs, everyone knows everybody, so complex directions are not necessary (except for visitors).

The cabins are not just used for dwellings. They are also places of business. A school for the children, a chapel for those who still believe in religion out here, a slaughterhouse for the pigs, goats and chickens -- these and more are run out of the peoples' homes. A tiny playground for when the kids weren't in school or chasing pigs has been erected among the cabins as well.

The Skid

The Skid is a 50-km long, 200-meter wide swath plowed out of the forest by the freighter's long slide to a stop. Trees, bushes, rocks, everything was flattened in the ship's path. Now, years later, grass and small saplings have grown over the scarred earth, so overall, its effect is of a pleasant (if narrow) meadow. It's very visible from the air, a long, bright green arrow against the darker forest, pointing right at the ship.

Though the ones close to the town have been removed (mostly used to build cabins and the palisade, not to mention firewood), farther out, the trees snapped off and tossed aside by the violent landing form tangled, nearly impenetrable barriers between The Skid and thesurrounding forest.

The long, flat, clear stretch of land makes a tempting approach for an attack run, but when the Land Sharks once found themselves trapped between those log barricades while the lasers cut them down from kilometers away, they quickly learned to never enter The Skid again.


The People

The residents of the fortress-village are a hardy bunch. Most are long-time outback folk, used to the rough and dangerous life that comes with the freedom of this land, and really know no other lifestyle. The rest are either newcomers who chose to leave the oppressive existence under the FSA's thumb for moral reasons or "criminals" who could not afford "justice" in the arcologies.

Starship Downs' community is warm, friendly and generous with each other. They tend to be cooler toward new arrivals, and downright ice-cold towards anyone with any connections to the FedBoards. Sheriff Torelli had to work long and hard to gain the town's trust when she first came here, due to her past in the FSM (and there are still those who don't trust her completely).

This is a town of Troomers. The ideals of the defunct USA are alive here. While Unger and Torelli run the town, they do listen to the peoples' needs. Everyone does what they are good at and want to do, not what the leaders tell them they should do. Those with combat training volunteer for the militia. Those with agricultural skills work the gardens and tend to the animals. Others in the town also go by their skills: Fishermen, potters, woodcutters, hunters, construction workers. There's even a schoolteacher and a midwife. Everyone has work to do. Even the children assist their parents or other adults as apprentices. Here, far from the FSA's cruel eye, these people have returned to the spirit their ancestors had when they first settled the American West.

A siege mentality is the norm. The townsfolk rarely venture outside the palisade. Those who do only go to hunt, fish, or to chop wood and gather seeds, fruit and tubers from the nearby forest. The local potter goes out to dig clay. No one goes out for fun, except the few bored teenagers who dare each other to sneak out at night. The threat of the gangs keeps the settlers within the protective walls almost always. Being captured by the gangers results in death or worse.


Supplies

Nothing is easily come by here. Gear and supplies are always scarce. Food is manageable. There's just enough to feed everyone, with what little is left over going to feed the farm animals. The expansion of the palisade will increase garden space and food production, but that's perhaps a year off. The gardens produce carrots, potatoes, beets, onions, and tomatoes. The farmers hope to start a small corn crop after the expansion. Fruit gathered from the woods comes mainly in the form of berries. Apples are occasionally found and harvested.

The pigs are used for pork, obviously. The small number prevents the regular slaughter of the hogs; lack of space and feed is the cause. They are usually saved for holidays. Chickens provide plenty of eggs, and new chicks are hatched regularly. Fed with seeds from the forests, the chickens are the largest in number of the farm animals. Chicken dinners are fairly common. The goats, like the pigs, are not many. They are used mainly for milk. The farmers hope to find or trade for some sheep one day, so the town would have a supply of wool.

Wood is plentiful, both for building and firewood. Pine is the abundant tree here, so almost all wood structures in the Downs are made of it. Woodsmoke, of course, smells of pine. It's a pleasant aroma, so no one minds. There is a small source of clay a half mile from the town. The potter regularly goes there with an assistant to dig fresh supplies. Stone for building materials is gathered only when needed from wherever they can find it. Wax is sometimes found from the occasional beehive (along with delicious honey), and is used to make candles.

More modern amenities are much harder to come by. Computers are only here if a resident already had one before arriving. There is no OpNet access here. While the Long Haul's reactor core gives plenty of power, light bulbs are a luxury. At night, torchlight is the staple. Candles are not that plentiful. While the ship's interior is kept warm by the life-support systems, the outdoor cabins depend on their fireplaces. The freighter was equipped with a holoprojector, but signals are not broadcast out here and when picked up are weak and filled with static. So watching a holovid is a rarity.

Weapons and ammo are by far the scarcest. What the militia has was either brought by the settlers or scrounged from the dead after a Shark attack. Mostly limited to slugthrower pistols, the odd autorifle, laser weapon or grenade is found and put to use. Once again, the ship's heavy laser cannons are the town's main defense.

Starship Downs has a small motor pool -- several hovercycles, plus a few antique automobiles. These were mostly salvaged and repaired from the battlefield after various gang attacks. While all the vehicles are ready for use, only the hovercycles can really be used in the thick pine forests. Since the settlers rarely go anywhere, the vehicles mostly just sit in one of the ship's storage bays and collect dust.

Alcohol is to be had only when taken from dead gangers. There are no goods for producing booze of any sort (though that doesn't stop some villagers from trying unusual recipes). Liquor from the 'Sharks come in the form of whiskey or beer in bottles. Don't expect any fine wines here.

Traveling merchants provide the rest of what may be needed. Tools like hammers and nails, clothes (or material for weaving clothes), footwear, hand weapons like knives, farming tools such as hoes and shovels, and cooking utensils. These and more are bartered for. Money is as rare as wine here and totally useless. Keep your yink.


The Land Sharks

The Land Sharks are a very large outback gang that control a vast piece of "turf." Thugs, murders, rapists, psychopaths. All the worst sort end up with the 'Sharks. Like ancient motorcycle gangs, these criminal outcasts roam about their territory on hovercycles and old wheeled jalopies.

Originally a small gang, their numbers were cut down to next to nothing after their first disastrous attack on Starship Downs. Driven by the need for revenge on the town, they replaced their losses by attacking and absorbing another tiny gang, then another, and another. Their anger and ferocity moved them through the "hostile takeovers" with relative ease. Today, the 'Sharks are a very big and very powerful group of badasses.

Currently numbering roughly 700, the 'Sharks have no basecamp to call home. They are constantly on the move. When they pitch camp somewhere, one could see their vehicles encircling a huge bonfire, the gangers dancing, singing, hooting and hollering all around it. Drinking heavily and shooting their slugthrowers in the air, they party every night. Those who would rather sleep (or have some privacy with their women) either go to their cars, if they have them) or erect tents among the parked convoy.

While other gangs occasionally try to take more territory for themselves, the 'Sharks have the superior numbers to easily defend their turf from rivals, and quite often take new land from the other gangs. Most of the Land Sharks' attention and time, however, is centered around Starship Downs.

The "Sharks have never been able to take over the settlement that lies smack dab in the middle of their turf. The defenses of the starship have always been too much for the gang to overcome. Certainly, they have come very close to their goal, even getting inside the palisade wall a couple times. For the most part though, these crooks can only watch enviously at the freighter they want to claim.

Men of the settlement caught outside by the 'Sharks can expect to be killed on the spot. Women can expect worse treatment and a life doomed to being the "bitch" of whichever ganger manages to claim her (they usually fight over the better looking women). Children are used for simple slave labor until they grow into adulthood, at which point boys are given the choice of becoming a ganger (with all rights and privileges) or killed, and girls are put the same use as captured adult women.

The main reason the Land Sharks have done so poorly at overtaking Starship Downs was their leader. Hank "Scar" Phillips was in no way a tactician. His best strategy was to simply throw superior numbers at the town. Hundreds of gangers have died over the years due to his mindless tactic. Only his physical prowess and paranoia kept him alive and in charge for the last eight years.

That changed recently. The "Sharks have a new leader. Known only as Big Gimba, this bear of a man challenged Scar for leadership of the gang. He won their knife fight to the death and took over. Far more intelligent and cunning, Big Gimba has spent the first six months of his leadership planning new strategies for attacking Starship Downs. To put it simply, the little settlement is now in major trouble.


Current Happenings


Warning: Players should not read beyond this point! Storytellers' eyes only!

There is a power struggle brewing in Starship Downs. Word of the mysterious Big Gimba has reached the town and is stirring discontent. A new leader means trouble, in many of the residents' minds. And they are not wrong.

Sheriff Maria Torelli believes steps should be taken. Defenses stepped up. The militia improved. Perhaps even taking the offensive against the 'Sharks for the first time. During her days in the FSM, she heard of Big Gimba and knows he is very clever. The same old defense tactics are no longer enough. Many in the town (mostly the newer residents) agree with her.

Mayor Jonas Unger disagrees. He thinks very lowly of the gangers, and has a hard time believing they could present a greater threat than they have in the past. Stubborn and content with they way things are now, he refuses to change the town's operating procedure. A good number of the citizens (those that have been there the longest) are taking Unger's side.

Thus, Starship Downs' population is split over the issue of their future. Torelli's supporters believe it's time for a new mayor, namely Torelli. Maria, for her part, doesn't want to boot her friend Jonas out of his office, but is convinced measures must be taken for the good of the town. She continues to argue with him, but is making next to no headway. Unger refuses to listen. Bull-headed as always, Unger goes by the philosophy: "My ship, my rules." Unfortunately, his old naval thinking doesn't work when governing a town. His attitude irks many residents, who consider the Downs to be their town. He still has a lot of support, though.

There is a CSA spy in the village now. Suspicious of how the settlement has survived against the gangs for so long with "non-operational" laser cannons, the local FedBoard has recently planted an agent in the town. Posing as a schoolteacher, Robert Niles set up in Starship Downs three months ago. He has spent that time gaining the villagers' trust and keeping his cover. Since the last gang attack was four months ago, Niles has yet to see the cannons in operation, and is still under the impression they don't work. He hasn't become known enough to be let in on the town's secrets yet (though strangely, he's allowed to teach the village's kids). He has no knowledge of the hidden killswitch. While he has secretly checked the big guns, he has only found them powerless and dusty. Niles does not trust Torelli one bit. As she is an ex-FSM soldier who was court-martialed, he sees her as being a traitor to the establishment. He has decided to "punish" her by quietly sowing discontent against her and seeding more support for Unger, whom Niles thinks could be malleable by the CSA. Obviously, if Niles sees the laser cannons in operation (which they certainly will be during the next gang attack), he will report back to his superiors that Starship Downs has been lying to the government. The penalty for deceiving the FSA is, obviously, severe.

Big Gimba has come up with his first battle plan and is implementing it. He plans to launch a two-pronged attack. He plan includes sending a secret, heavily armed force, under cover of night, across the lake (in the sensor shadow of the hill the ship is embanked upon), cut through the grate with a simple laser pistol, and up through the well tunnel (He knows the town has a well, and once sent a scout to find the well's inlet). He has gotten a dozen rebreathers so his men can survive underwater long enough to get in. Once inside, these operatives will take over the laser cannons and hold them against all comers. Then the second force, consisting of the rest of the 'Sharks, will come screaming out of the woodwork in their traditional fashion. The townsfolk, will of course, suspect nothing is different, and react in the usual way. Big Gimba can barely wait to see the looks on the villagers' faces when their beloved cannons start firing on the village itself, rather than the invading gangers. It should be a massacre.

With political tensions and threats both within and without the palisade, Starship Downs is in serious trouble. This unusual outback town is certainly doomed unless someone does something. That someone may be the PCs.


Characters

Mayor Jonas Unger

Origin: Protector

Nature: Traditionalist

unger.jpg
Name:Jonas Unger
Origin:Protector
Nature:Traditionalist
Allegiance:Starship Downs


Strength: 3Brawl 2
Dexterity: 2Athletics 2
Firearms 3
Melee 2
Pilot 4 (Spec.: Freighters)
Stealth 3
Stamina: 4Endurance 1
Resistance 1
Perception: 2Awareness 3
Investigation 1
Intelligence: 2Bureaucracy 3
Engineering 2
Medicine 1
Science 1 (Spec.: Astrogation)
Survival 2
Wits: 3
Appearance: 2Intimidation 3
Manipulation: 3Command 3 (Spec.: Starships)
Subterfuge 1
Charisma: 2Savvy 1


Willpower: 8

Psi: 1

Backgrounds:
  • Allies (townsfolk) 4
  • Contacts (Outback town leaders) 2
  • Followers (Original ship crew) 3
  • Influence: 2
  • Resources: 2
  • Status (Starship Downs) 5


Equipment: Reinforced overalls, heavy boots, L-K Avenger 11mm autopistol, fighting knife, Wazukana DX-70 minicomp (Datawarp Friday agent), datapad, flashlight, binoculars, compass

History: Jonas Unger enjoyed his life as a starship captain. A prideful, stubborn man, he enjoyed his place of authority. Quiet and dignified, he ran his ship as by-the-book as one could get. Nothing out of place, everything planned out. His happy life was turned upside down by the crash of the Long Haul in 2112. At a loss for what to do, and too bull-headed to give up his ship to the roving gangs, he decided to stay at the crash site. His surviving crew, having no way to get back to civilization, stayed as well, finding safety in numbers.

When squatters started showing up and asking to pitch camp in the freighter's shadow, Unger was not happy, but felt guilty about turning them away. He said they could, but they must agree to live by his rules. Figuring this was better than life under any gang, the squatters complied.

As the community grew, Unger found himself being referred to as the mayor. Liking the title, he did nothing to dissuade the idea of his position. Over the years, he has grown very attached to his office. Although he had no knowledge of how to run a town, he managed well enough, working with the same traditional manner in which he ran his ship.

While he considers Maria Torelli one of his best friends, he fears she is after his position. He knows some in the town want her to replace him. Jonas is scared by this idea. Being the mayor of Starship Downs is all he has now. If he loses his mayorship, what will he do with his life? Jonas is a man who needs to be in charge. He needs to be sure everything is running smoothly, and only feels safe if he's managing things. While he trusts Torelli with some of his duties as well as the defense of the town, he supervises her every action "to be sure she's doing it right."

Unger is aware of the threat of the Land Sharks, and Torelli has constantly told him of the new danger that this Big Gimba represents. But he does nothing in response. He wants everything to runs like it always has. He fears change may cost him his office, as Torelli represents change, the younger generation of the town that will take over. Unger's compulsion to remain in control may doom the settlement.

Sheriff Maria Torelli

torelli.jpg
Name:Maria Torelli
Origin:Warrior
Nature:Leader
Allegiance:Starship Downs


Strength: 2Might 2
Dexterity: 4 (Spec.: Swift)Athletics 3
Drive 2
Firearms 4 (Spec.: Multi-fire)
Martial Arts 4
Melee 3 (Spec.: Knives)
Stealth 3
Stamina: 3Endurance 2
Resistance 2
Perception: 3Awareness 3
Investigation 2
Intelligence: 2Academics 1 (Spec.: Law)
Bureaucracy 2
Engineering 2
Intrusion 2
Linguistics 1 (Italian; English native)
Medicine 1
Survival 3
Wits: 3Rapport 1
Appearance: 3Intimidation 3
Style 1
Manipulation: 3Command 2 (Spec.: Tactics)
Interrogation 2
Subterfuge 1
Charisma: 3Savvy 3


Willpower: 7

Psi: 2

Backgrounds:
  • Allies (Townsfolk) 4
  • Cipher 1
  • Followers (Militiamen) 5
  • Influence 1
  • Resources 1
  • Status (Starship Downs) 5


Equipment: Reinforced jacket, gloves, Voss 33k Laser Pistol, L-K Protector AutoShotgun, spare clips for both, fighting knife, compass, flashlight, binoculars, fieldkit, vocoder (Spanish, French, Chinese), first aid kit, Shendai Lightrider Hovercycle

History: Maria Torelli was born in the New York Arcology to a big Italian-American family. She signed up with the Federated States Military at 18 to "see the world" as the holoads said. But she never went anywhere but the army base on the west coast she was assigned to. As the years passed, she excelled at her work and was promoted numerous times, but grew unhappy with her life. She chafed at the fascist authority of the higher-ups and was disgusted with the bullies that passed for soldiers. Maria started to express her feelings.

A succession of superiors passed her up the promotion ladder to get rid of her. After she made Colonel, where she could annoy influential officers, her insubordination finally got her a court martial.

Drummed out of the FSM, she wandered for a while, up and down the West Coast. Aimless in her life, she decided to do something very stupid. She decided to travel, by land, across the American Outback. Leaving from the Portland-Vancouver Arcology, she headed east.

She eventually made her way into what was once Montana, and, almost by accident, ran across Starship Downs during one of the Land Sharks' regular raids in 2115. Happily throwing herself into the fight, she killed several gangers and formed the pathetic excuse for a militia into a small fighting unit and led them against the raiders.

Seeing the usefulness of keeping her around, Unger offered Torelli the job of the town Sheriff. Liking the idea, she accepted. At first, things went well. She quickly got a real militia in working order and drew up defense plans for the settlement. When her past as an FSM trooper came out, a large portion of the town gave Maria the cold shoulder. She weathered the communal silent treatment for several months, until she had truly proven her skill and loyalty in another two Shark attacks.

Today, Maria Torelli is a valued and popular member of Starship Downs society. Thanks to her efforts, the town is a far safer place, and has prospered even more than it had when Unger ran things alone. A tough but charismatic woman, she takes her job as sheriff seriously. Although she is only 29, she is treated as a town elder.

Her love life is often the gossip of the town, with many mothers thinking their young sons would make "that lonely Torelli girl" happy. What no one knew was that Maria did once have a lover. A young militiaman named Douglas Eubanks, the two kept their affair a secret, as Torelli was afraid the knowledge she was sleeping with one of her own men would cause her to lose respect. Sadly, in 2119, Douglas was killed in a construction accident when a new cabin, in the process of being built, collapsed and crushed him. Maria has kept her grief quiet and hidden ever since. She has thrown herself into her work even more than before to push past the pain.

Maria is very concerned about Big Gimba. She heard his name before and checked up on him as best she could when she heard he was now in charge of the Land Sharks. What she heard scares her. She knows the town's current defenses are not enough. For months, she has tried convincing Unger to step things up, but he refuses to listen.

She has no interest in being mayor or asking Jonas" beloved job away from her friend. But if that's what it comes down to save Starship Downs, then so be it. She has nothing to lose. She'll do whatever is needed to protect this place she has come to consider home.

The Big Gimba

gimba.jpg
Real Name:Undisclosed
Origin:Outsider
Nature:Analyst
Allegiance:The Land Sharks


Strength: 4Brawl 4
Might 4
Dexterity: 2Athletics 3
Drive 3 (Spec.: Hover)
Firearms 4
Ledgerdemain 1
Melee 4 (Spec.: Knives)
Stamina: 5Endurance 4
Resistance 4
Perception: 2Awareness 3
Investigation 1
Intelligence: 3Academics 2
Engineering 3 (Spec.: Mechanics)
Intrusion 3 (Spec.: electronic infiltration)
Linguistics 2 (Spanish, French; English native)
Science 2
Survival 4 (Spec.: Forage, Track)
Wits: 4Arts 1 (Spec.: Poetry)
Rapport 2
Appearance: 2Intimidation 5
Style 2
Manipulation: 4Command 4 (Spec.: Tactics)
Subterfuge 3
Charisma: 3Etiquette 2
Perform 2
Savvy 3


Willpower: 9

Psi: 1

Backgrounds:
  • Allies (Gang lieutenants) 5
  • Cipher 4
  • Contacts (other gang leaders) 3
  • Followers (bodyguards) 5
  • Influence 3
  • Resources 4
  • Status (Land Sharks) 5


Equipment: L-K Avenger 11mm autopistol, Banji 7.62 Tornado autorifle, fighting knife, chain, reinforced biker outfit, armor vest, gloves, Wazukana 300E minicomp (Alpha Chris agent), binoculars, compass, fieldkit, flashlight, toolkit (hovervehicle repair), first aid kit, Reed Rosen Tsunami hovercycle

History: No one knows where Big Gimba came from, or even what his real name is. One day, he just showed up and took over the Land Sharks. While his lieutenants have tried to guess his motives, they are still only guesses. Gimba himself gives no clues.

There are two things one notices when first meeting Big Gimba. First is his great, intimidating size. Second is his fine manners and excellent education, neither of which anyone would expect out of a badlands gang leader. The most accurate guessers among the 'Sharks think Gimba was once a man of wealth and stature somewhere on the East Coast. Why he left a life of comfort for the harsh outback is the big money question in the gang.

His 6"7", 320 lb. body belies his sharp wits and mind for tactics. Big Gimba is totally ruthless and cold-hearted. Nothing seems to affect him, positively or negatively. Success or failure, win or lose, it doesn't matter. His ice-cold calm never breaks. His men wonder if he has any emotions at all.

Robert Niles

niles.jpg
Name:Robert Niles
Origin:Spy
Nature:Critic
Allegiance:CSA


Strength: 2
Dexterity: 3Athletics 2
Drive 1
Firearms 2 (Spec.: Aiming)
Ledgerdemain 3
Melee 1
Stealth 3
Stamina: 2 Resistance 2 (Spec.: Resist interrogation)
Perception: 3Awareness 3
Investigation 3
Intelligence: 3Academics 3
Bureaucracy 2
Engineering 2
Intrusion 3
Linguistics 2 (Spanish, French; English native)
Medicine 1
Survival 2
Wits: 4Rapport 3
Appearance: 3 Style 2
Manipulation: 4Interrogation 3
Subterfuge 4 (Spec.: Deception)
Charisma: 3Savvy 3


Willpower: 7

Psi: 1

Backgrounds:
  • Allies (FedBoard Member) 2
  • Cipher 3
  • Resources: 3
  • Status (CSA) 2


Equipment: Banji Cyclone autopistol, hunting knife, Steinhardt P-CC minicomp (Alpha Chris agent), cellular uplink, DSE Encryption Application (lvl 2), flashlight, various goods and supplies to keep his cover as a merchant.

History: Robert Niles is whole-heartedly dedicated to the FSA and it's ideals. His parents, pro-fascist, pounded FSA propaganda into his head since the day he was born. He had no real friends as a child, as his fascist attitudes irked the other children. It was not a suprise to anyone that he joined the Central Security Agency when he grew up.

When the local FedBoard wanted an man inside Starship Downs, Niles name was essentially pulled up at random. Never one to complain about any assignment, he threw himself into the new job. Posing as a former schoolteacher, Robert spent nearly a year wandering the outback, moving from town to town, building his cover. When he drove his Concurso MH-1 Hauler into the odd settlement, no one questioned his credentials (except Sheriff Torelli, who did a cursory OpNet check over a cell-link, and found his credentials (forged by the CSA, of course)). He settled in and started teaching out of his assigned cabin.

While he has been here three months, the villagers have yet to warm up to him. He has worked hard at integrating himself into the community, but it is slow going. The settlers, although not the type to turn anyone away outright, are very insular. His mission to discover any possible treachery among the populace is going to take longer than he thought.

It is not a matter of if Niles discovers the laser cannons are still functioning, it's when. The next Shark attack will come eventually, and the big guns will be used to fend them off. When he finds out, he will report it to the CSA. The likely response from the government would be one of military punishment. A quick airstrike and Starship Downs will be a smoking crater.

Plot Hooks

  • Sheriff Torelli, anticipating trouble from the Land Sharks' new leader, has put out a quiet call for help. The Æon Trinity has picked this up (they've been watching the town for a short time now) and arranged for the PC's to come to the town's rescue.
  • While meandering through the Outback on their own, the PC's meet a traveling merchant and decide to purchase supplies. In passing, the merchant mentions he's had an excellent week. Just a few days ago, a local ganger purchased twelve rebreathers, paying handsomely. What would a badland outlaw need with underwater gear? The PC's may be curious enough to check it out and discover Big Gimba's secret plan.
  • Passing through a few tiny towns, the locals mention to the PC's of an odd man who was wandering around these parts not too long ago. Claiming to be a former schoolteacher, he'd arrive, make offers of teaching anyone to read or write in exchange for food. Since no one out here is willing to trade grub for education, his offer was very rarely taken. Yet this man seemed well-fed and unworried about finding supplies. Last anyone heard, he headed off towards that "spaceship settlement."


Of course, no matter how the heroes arrive in Starship Downs or what there goal is, the Land Sharks strike not long after the PC's show up. Of course, all hell breaks loose then. The laser cannons, obviously unexpectedly, start firing on the town itself, blowing up one cabin after another. Fires spread quickly. The 'Sharks come swarming over the walls. Panic rips through the streets. The people, now in a true emergency, seem divided on who to follow. Unger or Torelli? Meanwhile, Niles has seen all he needs to and attempts to escape during the chaos (he doesn't care what happens to the town) and report to the CSA. If he succeeds, then Starship Downs will have an FSM attack to deal with, provided they survive this 'Shark attack. The PC's will have their hands full.

There are several great scenes to be played out in an adventure here:
  • A hovercycle chase through the pine forests. (Reminiscent of the speeder bike chase on Endor in Return of the Jedi. Be careful of the trees!)
  • An underwater fight with gangers in the well tunnel. How long can you hold your breath?
  • Attempts to retake the laser cannons after the gangers seize control of them (or protecting the cannons from such a takeover).
  • If Niles' transmission to his superiors (in the form of an encrypted cell-message) is detected, the McCarthy-esque paranoia of trying to sniff out the traitor can be tense.

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