ADVENTURE: Lethe

This adventure is suitable for any group of PCs with a TARDIS or who are based in the future.

LETHE

letheThis adventure is set on a world colonised by Earth. It is up to the games master to decide the exact period, with anything from the 30th to 52nd century being appropriate. The planet Lethe is isolated and so are unaffected by events in the rest of the universe.

Lethe serves as a refuge for the troubled souls within the Earth Empire. Named for one of the five rivers of Hades from Greek mythology it refers to the forgetfulness that would affect anyone who drank the water.

A medical procedure removes the subjects memories, while letting them retain their skills. If you are unable to live with your past you can come to Lethe and begin a new life, unburdened by who you were.

If your application is accepted, normally based on whether the subject is suitable for the procedure and if there is enough room on the colony, you are given a new identity and life on Lethe.

Things are simple of Lethe, the technology designed to emulate the 21st century. The only difference is that vehicles use anti-gravity for propulsion because it is better for the environment and entertainment technology is slightly more advanced, to keep the colonists entertained.

Colonists are forbidden from using space travel. By choosing to come to Lethe they are giving up their freedom to ever leave. The Earth Empire has an orbiting space station that enforces this law, as well as preventing unauthorised off-world visits.

It is from this space station that the memory removal procedure is performed. It is also the only place where records of the subjects previous life are kept. Authorised shuttle pilots transport the subjects to the surface of Lethe while they are recovering from their procedure. They awaken in their new homes, ready to begin their new life.

The majority of the colonists know why they are on Lethe, if not the reason. They understand that this was their decision and that something must have motivated them to make that choice. They are discouraged from trying to find out what that reason is.

While  most people volunteered there are a few who didn’t. Occasionally Earth Empire colonies will need to deal with political anarchists or trouble makers but don’t want to kill them. Rather than turning them into martyrs they are quietly abducted and sent to Lethe.

Very rarely criminals are sent to Lethe instead of prison. Only the most lenient colonies do this and only after it is established that the subjects crimes were due to factors in their life, rather than their personality. The hope is that once their memories are removed they can live a normal life on Lethe.

If you set this adventure during a time of war then former soldiers could be sent here to recover. Here the horrors of what they’ve seen or done won’t trouble them. This could be a way for the Earth Empire to fix these broken warriors.

You may wish to have characters that the PCs have previously encountered turn up on Lethe. The NPC won’t remember the PCs and this can lead to interesting interaction, especially if they had a strong connection, whether they were former friends or enemies.

The human mind is resilient and in truth the technology used only suppresses the memories, rather than actually removing them. To prevent them from returning colonists have regular visits to the hospital to maintain their treatment.

Recently Lethe has been suffering from a high suicide rate. This is troubling the authorities but they are yet to find the cause.

WHAT IS HAPPENING

Not everyone is happy that people can gain absolution on Lethe. Doctor Julian Cregg lost his wife and child in a hit and run accident. The killer was given a lenient sentence, exiled to Lethe.

Dr Cregg pulled some favours and was able to secure a position on the orbiting space station on Lethe, overseeing the mind wiping of subjects. He spent his time becoming familiar with the technology and studying the files of the colonists.

When he was ready Dr Cregg put his plan in motion. He under went the procedure himself, falsifying paperwork to have a newly arrived shuttle pilot transport himself down to Lethe. For his plan to work he had to make it appear that the procedure had gone wrong, as it occasionally did.

A medical examination would reveal that not only had his memories been removed, so had his skills. He had taken care to authorise the use of portable memory uploader. Fitted with this device he could upload the skills to perform simple tasks, just enough for him to be a janitor at one of the hospitals.

To most Julian would as a simple cleaner, shuffling through the hospital listening to instructions from the device. Without the device he’d have child-like intelligence. No one would suspect him.

What they didn’t know is that the memory uploader had a secret mission for Julian. It would upload a target every few days, giving him the necessary skills to complete his task. He was to capture his target and use modified technology to return their memories in one unbearable burst. Overwhelmed they’d kill themselves.

The hit and run driver was Julian’s first victim but there are many others he feels deserving of his attention. They are not necessarily criminals either. Those people who hurt others, emotionally or physically, men and women who shattered other peoples lives. All will receive a visit from Julian.

WHAT THE PCS CAN DO

This is a mystery story that requires PCs to do some investigation. The easiest way for time travellers to get involved is for them to materialise on the colony and witness a suicide.

It won’t take them long to learn the nature of the planet and hopefully they’ll decide to find out what is causing the suicides. They’ll need to be careful as the authorities will turn against them if they’re not supposed to be on the planet.

Those PCs who are native to the time period could be asked to investigate or they could be following the trail of a NPC that now resides on Lethe. This has the advantage of allowing the PCs access to the space station and a valid reason to go down to the planet.

Each of the victims recently went to the same hospital to receive their scheduled treatment. Julian’s memory uploader would activate in their proximity, tasking him with obtaining their current address and allow him to stalk his victims to their home.

The PCs could suspect that the medical staff are responsible. Julian should just be in the background, washing corridors or pushing trolleys of medical supplies. He would appear to be mentally handicapped, a very unlikely suspect.

Finding out the history of the victims requires access to the records held on the space station. If the PCs aren’t authorised this could be difficult. They could either smuggle themselves on board when a shuttle arrives with new arrivals or they could use their TARDIS.

While they find that each victim has a dark past this is not uncommon and they all came from different planets. What they will learn is that Dr Julian Cregg is missing from the station. Anyone who sees his photo and was present at the hospital has the chance of making the connection between the two.

It will then be case of getting back to Lethe before Cregg claims another victim. Checking the hospital records reveals that he has been accessing patient records and looking at the last file accessed will tell them where to go.

By the time they arrive Cregg already has his next victim tied up and is in the process of setting up the equipment to restore their memories. Confronting him the PCs witness how his personality shifts between the vengeful Cregg and the simple Julian who is frightened of the voice telling him to do bad things.

PCs can try to rescue his hostage, defeat Cregg or destroy his memory uploader. This should give something for every player in an average group to do. To make this more personal the victim could be an NPC from the PCs past.

Even if the victim does have his memories restored the PCs have the chance to help them cope with their past. With their support the victim won’t necessarily be driven to suicide.

Violent PCs might end up killing Cregg. They could even turn his own equipment against him, bombarding him with the memory of what he has done. Julian would be unable to cope with this and try to commit suicide.

If they destroy the memory uploader Julian will be free from the influence of Dr Cregg. The question will be what they do with him? Julian will forget what he has done and could go on to live a normal life. Some PCs might still want to see him punished.

Games masters who don’t want to focus just on investigating can have some of the PCs also deal with suicide attempts. A bus driver might decide to drive his hover-bus full of passengers crashing off a bridge, someone could threaten to jump off a building or jump underneath the rockets of a shuttle.

Each incident would require both action and roleplaying to prevent more people from dying. Each victim can provide clues to who is behind it, although the process gives them hazy memories of who performed the operation they can remember he called himself a doctor and that he was going to punish them for what they had done.

At the resolution of the adventure the PCs will have a chance to reflect on the nature of Lethe. Is it right that people should be able to forget what they’ve done. Should they be made to take account for what they’ve done or do people have the right to a second chance of life.

You might also like to have them uncover the fact that a small percentage of the colonists are there against their will, perhaps when they are going through colonist records on the space station. Would they try to expose this practice, even if it means shutting down Lethe and preventing others from finding solace?

For an added twist time travellers could encounter themselves on Lethe. Are these past or future versions of themselves? It could be that their memories were altered in the past or that something will happen in the future that they’ll want to forget.

It could also indicate that one of the enemies has them sent to Lethe against their will. In which case the current version of the PCs can help themselves escape and possibly even restore their memories.

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1 Response to ADVENTURE: Lethe

  1. I ran this adventure, with a bit of tweaking to fit my campaign, in my own game a few months back. I just wanted to let you know it was exceptionally well received by my players and I had a great time GMing it. I love your blog, I am very glad I stumbled upon it. There is sadly far too little information about the system out there.

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