Table of Contents:
It has been over 400 years since the first man stepped on the surface of Mars. Since then, the need for human expansion exceeded the costs. The first manned mission to Mars, though ruled a failure, brought about the drive for the terra forming and settlement of Mars.
To complete this project within an adequate timeframe, five massive terra-forming platforms were constructed around the equator, which made the toxic Martian air breathable.
Since then, the flow of immigrants has expanded exponentially as they sought work, shelter, and opportunity. The five terra-forming platforms became the center of the colonies: Nerva, Blake, Compton, Solace, and New Eden.
General Motors, Toshiba, Sony, and the international governments founded New Eden. The city was divided between employees of the company and the "outsiders”. Employees of the company were provided protection by the workers union, which provided services including employing a minor security force, advanced medical facilities, housing, food and shelter, and religious counseling for over 30 major religions.
The "outsiders" government was controlled by free trade economics, and only militia groups enforced security. Because of this segregation, the outside world became lawless and unorganized. As the outsiders’ population grew their level of anarchy threaten the Company’s stake. From this need for security grew the Colonial Security Force or more commonly called "the colonial marines". The original force was comprised of volunteers from the Earth Coalition’s armies. During the "peacekeeping" hundreds of colonists were killed. Twenty years later, the marines are still remembered for their slaughterers.
The city of a new Eden sits some 10 kilometers from its founding terra-forming tower on the edge of a 500 km wide crater. The heavy winds of Mars carry with them the sharp red sands in blinding proportions. Most of the housing and buildings are made from the red dirt, which happens to make an incredibly strong concrete. Few buildings exceed three stories in height. Goods and services come at a severe price. Most non-union workers dig in an archaic fashion in the mines 30 kilometers out-of-town. For the outsiders, food is grown within the hundreds of greenhouses throughout the settlement.
The huge terra-forming towers are designed to pump out tons of greenhouse gases per day in addition to chemically separating hydrogen and oxygen from the natural resources. These gasses are used to generate thermal power for the entire city and the resulting water vapor is collected for reuse.
During the centuries old project, the planet has warmed enough to partially liquefy the water frozen at the polar caps. Huge plants and pipelines siphon the water to the terra-forming towers to be purified and recycled.
As a result, the planet's atmosphere has thickened, allowing for clouds and rain. Unfortunately, the air in the upper atmosphere where the clouds form creates highly acidic water. Rain is terrifying as it is often a mixture of acidic hale and sleet. To be usable by the colonists, rainwater had to be purified by the thousands of liters. A man-made reservoir system collects the water and the corporations provided a water purification plant, but charges excessive fees for clean water. In addition the water purification center also produces enough electricity for most of the colony.
Relieve the security force stationed at the Mars, New Eden colony. Mission length: six months.
The following module can be run for a campaign or a single game. If run as a campaign the player characters should be stationed on Mars for a minimum of four months, following each heading as a single chapter supplementing other adventures to cloud the events. As a single session game the facts will reveal themselves quickly.
The narrator should avoid calling the creatures by their given names, instead choosing to describe their appearance. Zombies should be described as pale-faced battered people who smell like old meat or something as vague. The aliens appear to be lizards, snakes, or giant insects.
Ever since landing on Mars, you have been getting an uneasy feeling about this mission. The previous platoon originally landed with sixty-four members and is being passed off-planet with only 48. If those odds persist, you think, you have a one in four chance of biting it. As soldiers do, you follow the orders, move the gear, unload supplies, and finally settle in. In the mess Hall, you and a few fellows in your platoon grabbed the opportunity to talk to the outgoing Marines to find all the hot spots on this barren rock.
The outgoing veterans do not seem eager for conversation, but a persuasive one of your group gets a few talking.
"If you’re looking for trouble," one says with a smile, "head downtown after curfew."
This raises a few chuckles from the rest of the crew. Curious, the conversation continues.
"Look for the hungry kitten," says the Marine, but a few of the smiles disappear. "Oh, by the way, don’t go out during the sandstorms. Now shut up and leave me alone."
The marine returns to eating, and ignores your platoon members’ questions until someone makes a remark about Hassle and Grettle getting lost in the woods.
"Look ass-hole!" The Marines stands and yells at the offensive private. "When you’re in a storm, you can’t see two meters in front of you!"
Not wanting to look the weaker, the private retorted, "like I said, you lost 16 men," making bunny ears with his fingers when he said the word "lost".
Enraged the other marine leapt over the table, but was grabbed by his comrades. Not able to assault the man physically, he mustered a healthy wad and spit at the private, hitting him cleanly on the Marine symbol on his chest. "You’re going to be the first to die, I can see it."
The private rushed in, but was also restrained. After several tense moments, both parties returned to their tables.
The players are unknowing participants in a secret Corporate experiment. The aliens are an attempt to use genetically altered DNA to create controllable soldiers for the corporations. The aliens have had their reproduction glands removed and have been genetically enhanced to give off the scent of a queen. This results in each alien thinking that it is a queen, prevents the aliens from working together unless directed by a "superior", and ensures that they seek shelter in order to nest. In addition, Rob Thomas, the criminal found in the wrecked ship, has acquired the mind control device that amplifies and converts his thoughts into signals that the aliens can interpret. To causal observers, the device looks like an old style CD player with headphones that reach deep into the ear canal. The signals that the device emits allows limited but effective commands to be given to the aliens. These command can only be simple tasks such as "get food" or "kill intruders".
Unfortunately, the attempts to prevent the aliens from reproducing are inadequate. Instead of completely preventing the aliens from creating eggs, the aliens can only produce other alien warriors and are limited to producing one egg per week. All subsequent aliens are also limited to these traits.
Rob Thomas has also gained an interesting occupation. In his travels, he has gained an integral knowledge of voodoo and how to bring people back from the dead. The zombies he controls are limited in that they can only follow limited instructions, lack the physical speed and agility, and overall, are easy to recognize as not human due to their smell and appearance. Rob's plans are to cause havoc to the corporation and the colony.
On any day, the characters may encounter the following:
1. 1-3 Drunken citizen
2. Gang of 1d6+1 thugs
3. Acid rain (characters are required to find shelter by orders)
4. Domestic violence (2 to 5 characters involved)
5. 1d6 arrogant union workers + 1d6 union security guards
6. Sandstorm (roll 1d20, which results in meters of visibility)
The hungry kitten: the hungry kitten is a small bar near the center of the outsiders’ town. In addition to selling alcohol and other illegal substances, it is also a house of prostitution. Any PCs that go to the hungry kitten in military clothing will be asked to leave. No one will make any hostile moves, but will be altogether rude.
Characters in civilian clothing will be served and acquainted with several prostitutes and offered any number of substances deemed illegal for Colonial Marines.
After the characters settle in, a pretty, young woman runs in the room screaming. One of the bouncers in the bar grabs her around the waist yelling in her face, "I told you not to come here anymore." The woman flails in his grip screaming repeatedly "they’re here, they’re here! God, we’re going to die!" Tired of her frantic screams the bouncer smacks her in the face several times, issues her to the door, and tosses her out on the street.
If the characters try to intervene, an equal number of hefty bouncers will rise up from the crowded bar. If a shot is fired, a security force of Marines and town officials will be on the scene in about five minutes.
Regardless of their actions, the characters will find the woman hiding in the shadows not far from the bar. Her name is Sandra Starr, and has been traumatized by what she has seen. She has gone completely mad. If questioned, she acts disoriented and lost, and babbles endlessly about "he’s already dead."
Sandra is a malnourished, 23-year-old prostitute with dark brown hair and sunken eyes. The trauma that she has endured haunts her so visibly that she cannot keep her food down. She will die within two weeks if not treated.
If the characters ask around, they find out that Sandra was one of four other girls that had gone out with three Marines the night they disappeared. They took one of the base’s ATVs out near the mine. In the midst of their frolicking, they were overwhelmed by the smell of rotting meat. Moments later, several figures entered the circle of light. Upon retelling her story, Sandra screams frantically "they’re already dead!" She slumps into a corner mumbling and staring blankly.
While on patrol on the side of town facing the mine, the characters discover the remains of a human. It is dressed and military fatigues and has a dog tag reading Charles Henderson. Examining the body reveals that his head has been crushed, and most of his torso has been devoured by some animal.
If the characters inquire, they find out that Henderson was one of several marines lost during patrols. If the characters acquire the autopsy report, they find that there was evidence of parasites living in the body, lesions on the neck and face, and burns, consistent with chemical exposure on the ribs.
While on patrol, another team reported seeing a giant lizard while near the mine sector. "It looked like it was standing upon its back legs, and Baker, the jackass, decided to shoot at it. I never seen a lizard move like that. It ran up the rock ledge like it was flat land. It looked weird, but kinda like a real big iguana, or something. It was, I don’t know, maybe one and a half meters tall." If questioned further, the soldier reports seeing the creature on the south side of town.
Miners around town have been complaining about the smell of rotten meat in the mines.
The body of a miner is found dead in the mines. His head has been crushed and most of his torso devoured.
After six more miner’s bodies are found in and around the mines, the Colonial Marines are ordered to escort the miners to and from the town. When the PC’s take this patrol, their local radio network picks up an encrypted signal emanating from the impact zone. If they request permission to investigate, the request will be denied.
Orders come in to inspect the crash site near the mining complex.
When the characters crest a hill overlooking the crash site, they see the wreckage. About one kilometer away, you see a small impact crater filled with what is left of a planetary lander. The massive ship has been reduced to twisted metal. All that is left is the central control deck.
After inspecting the wreckage, only one opening appears to access the main shaft. Amazingly the ship landed upright and almost level. The stench of rotting meat emanates from the ship.
Four alien warriors lay in waiting under the sands just in front of the doorway. They will wait until the last character has passed to attack. In addition, two zombies guard the front door. They will not attack, but may be spotted by a character with an awareness check of 20. The zombies will disappear within the darkness of the ship. The zombies are equipped with pulse rifles and standard light Marine armor.
Once past the front door, darkness embraces the characters.
The doorway is an emergency hatch that blew open from the impact of the landing. Debris fills the main corridor into the ship accompanied by the smell of decay and swarming flies, one of the few animals imported from Earth. Not more than five meters into the belly of the hull, the light dwindles to nothing. The entire ship is still running, but on minimal power, a dangerous fact as the Fusion reactor may be leaking. The characters can see glimpses of lights from touch panels and emergency light sensors. Throughout the ship, the party will be accosted by the smell of decay and death. Body parts lay throughout the ship though few whole bodies remain.
The main corridor leads almost directly to the bridge. As the first character reaches the bridge door, (non functional) the intercom screeches to life and an unknown voice breaks the silence "help me, help me, I’m in here." The voice trails off, but the characters can hear laughter coming from the bridge.
As the emergency door gets pried open, clouded red light fills the hall from the emergency bulbs fixed on the walls.
Behind the main control deck is a scraggly man with long black hair and greasy black beard. He laughs almost uncontrollably at seeing the characters. "I thought I’d never see another living soul again." He says, "Help me. I seem to have broken my legs in the accident, and it seems I’m the only one to have survived."
This man is Rob Thomas, a dangerous criminal that was being transported to Earth for prosecution. He claims to be Roger Spent, a security officer of the Lucent Planetary Lander. He tells the tail of the Lucent:
"We had picked up a cargo shipment from Borneo 5 with some contaminated food. One of the containers spilled in the cargo bay and apparently got everyone sick. When I woke from my freezer the place was in a panic and the ship was heading towards the atmosphere. There was some sort of creature running in here too. I was too disoriented to know for sure, but it appeared someone stowed an exotic animal in a cargo bin. In less than an hour, we were heading down."
Any character that questions can roll an Awareness Check against Rob’s Acting/Con Artistry skill. If they succeed, they will find that Rob is too unphased by his situation and that he may be lying. He has in fact, broken both of his legs, and needs the characters to take him back to town for treatment.
Each day since Rob Thomas was admitted to the military hospital, small animals and even a few people have been disappearing from farmers’ homes neighboring the base. The first to disappear was a neighborhood dog.
Several miners report smelling rotten meat in one wing of the mineshafts. After a couple hours, the supervisor approaches the Marines with a request to investigate.
If the characters investigate, they will encounter a zombie. The zombie will attempt to escape, but if cornered, will use two sticks of dynamite and try to collapse the shaft.
Three pigs were reported slaughtered from a farm just south of town.
The 12 year old son of a prominent trader was reported missing. He was last seen picking up supplies near the south plateau. His ATV and trailer are found six kilometers from town. Evidence of a struggle are present and prints of a clawed animal are found leaving the scene. Characters with tracking will be able to follow the tracks (easy) until they reach the plateau. Target number of 15 follows the tracks up the cliff face until disappearing over some rocks ten meters up.
If the characters manage to get up to 15 meters (climbing, T# 10 per three meters, failure greater than 3 results in 1d10 x 10 points of physical damage), they find a narrow cut in the cliff face. Tucked inside is the body of the boy. He does not appear to be dead, but is not conscious. The boy’s body is covered in a gelatin like slime which acts as a tripwire for the alien resting further down the grotto. The alien will attack any character at the cave entrance then escape up the cliff wall. All characters roll for surprise T# 15 vs. alertness. The alien will try to throw the characters off the cliff and grab the boy. Characters that fall as a result of the alien take 3d10x10 points of physical damage from falling.
If the characters succeed in getting the boy down safely, they notice that he has severe scratches on his face and lacerations around his neck. The characters will be ordered to return the boy to the military hospital immediately.
The characters are called to a domestic dispute near the hungry kitten. A crowd has gathered in the streets to witness what has been described as a dead man walking. From casual view and in darkness, the zombie could be confused with a living man. This zombie is one of the dead miners. If the characters do not opened fire, the zombie will simply wander through town, but if provoked, the zombie has been instructed to detonate the explosives hidden under its clothing. The zombie carries five sticks of dynamite, and a manual detonator.
If the characters follow the zombie, it will lead them through the town and reach the entrance to the Company equipment lift. Here, the company security force will attempt to stop the zombie and two security officers will be severely injured from the explosion.
If the zombie does not blow its self up, the characters will notice that its head was crushed, and chest torn open. There are several marks on the corpse’s body that appear ceremonial. Characters that test against general religion target number of 20 recognize the markings as Voodoo or sangria.
If the characters search the library they find that a Johnny Walker has been logged into the system and viewing several documents on ritual sacrifice and raising the dead. The company’s religious facilities are sworn to secrecy and cannot provide the characters with any information other than religious.