This adventure takes place on an Earth colony world. Here we have the natives being oppressed in the name of profit. This takes an event that has happened frequently in our history, and is still happening, and places it into a context where the player characters can make a difference.
It explores the idea that superstition might just be a primitive way to understand the unknowable. The colonists place themselves in create danger by disregarding the locals culture as nonsense.
The threat comes from an alien race who can possess others, driving them to commit terrible acts. This gives the adventure a horror theme, since anyone can be the enemy. Who can they trust? How can they fight what they can’t see?
Yet it is the humans reactions to each other that causes the most problems. The alien menace is simply exploiting the mistrust and simmering resentment that already exists. In the end we are own worst enemy.
300 years ago Earth colonised the planet of Karshar. The terrain was mostly desert but the temperature was low, ice flows drifting along rivers. Along these rivers the earth was fertile enough to grow Earth crops and the nearby mountains had seams of coal and other minerals that allowed the colony to survive.
A remote colony Earth didn’t have much influence, letting the people develop their own culture. Atmospheric differences led to the colonists developing a bluish tinge to their skin. It was discovered that an alien race had once lived there and the colonists adopted their religion, pieced together from the remains of their buildings.
50 years ago the Earth government carried out a review of their colonies and found a previously undiscovered rich source of coal, oil and gas. Government owned mining companies and factories moved in, nearly outnumbering the natives.
The Karshar are none to happy about this development, which is ruining their culture. The well paying jobs are all in the government owned businesses and to be an employee you need to re-nonce your religion, something the Karsha won’t do.
Trouble has flared up several times, the Karshar trying to declare their independence. The Earth government forces have suffered minimal losses while the Karshar have been killed in their hundreds by the superior technology of the occupying forces.
Internal sabotage has hampered production and the colony governor has called in Adjudicators to sniff out this terrorist organisation. What they don’t realise is that these problems don’t have a human source.
The original inhabitants of the planet were plagued by mental parasites called Adraili. They could possess a living host and make them do terrible things. The only ward against them was an ornate pattern worn on the head. There was something in the design that was too confusing for the Adraili to follow and so couldn’t penetrate the wearer.
The religion of warding off ‘demons’ actually refers to the Adraili. The Karshar shave their heads with this design, protecting them, but the government forces aren’t so lucky. The Adraili are using them to cause destruction from the inside.
New Planet, New Troubles
The player characters have only recently arrived and are enjoying a local festival. The player characters will see that everyone has the same intricate shaved into their hair. If questioned about this locals will explain it is to ward of demons.
Noodle based meals are cooked on small stoves, the locals sing traditional songs of well-being and complex games with only a passing resemblance to ‘skip rope’ are played nearby.
All of this takes place in narrow streets, over-shadowed by the nearby factories, belching smoke into the sky. It is obvious to the player characters that the locals are living in poverty, despite the apparent level of technology displayed by the factory and the flying crafts over head.
It is at this point that the authorities move in, claiming that this is an illegal gathering. Police officers in bullet proof armour and helmets use electric batons to round people up, loading them on to hover vans. Everyone, including the player characters are taken to be processed.
Once it is realised that they aren’t locals they are spoken to Adjudicator Jenkins. He explains the situation and advises them not to associate with the locals until he can find out who is sabotaging the mining efforts.
Possession is 9/1oth of the law
Jenkins is interrupted by another officer, who informs him there has been explosion at one of the gas processing factories. If the player characters offer their help he’ll grudgingly let them come along. He hasn’t made any head way on his investigation and hopefully these newcomers might offer a clue.
Emergency services are putting out the fire at the factory when they arrive and workers are receiving medical attention. Player characters quickly realise all the workers are off-worlders, with none displaying the bluish skin colour or shaved heads.
The manager explains to Jenkins that one of the valves was sabotaged, causing the pressure to build up and produce the resulting explosion. There should be surveillance footage in the factory that will show who did it.
If questioned about why there are no locals working at the factory the manager says its company policy to only employee those who re-nonce religion, especially ones alien in origin. The locals simply refuse to do so.
Once the fires are out the player characters can enter the factory to recover the surveillance footage. The challenges inside should fit the abilities of the player characters, whether it be using physical strength to move obstacles, their small size to slip past fallen girders or technical skills to fix broken sliding doors.
Studying the footage reveals that the manager is responsible, something he denies. If pressed he confesses he can’t remember the hour leading up to the explosion. Questioning other workers reveal that the manager was acting strangely during that time, acting in a hostile manner and pacing the factory like he was lost or new there.
To Be Continued…