Adventure: Deep Water

This adventure places the player characters in a precarious position, within a prison at the bottom of the ocean. It isn’t just an alien monster in the vicinity which is a threat but so is the environment around them. Who they decide to help or fight has a huge impact on how things turn out.

The adventure also explores the theme of the pursuit of lost knowledge contained in alien ruins can awaken horrors from the past. In this case Goo, an alien life form that increases in size the more it feeds.

The adventure is suited for a space travelling group in the future, travelling to the prison for business or to engineer the creation of a new group. Whether they are guards or prisoners any survivors will have a bond and a reason to keep travelling together.

It also works for time travellers, finding themselves in a dangerous environment the discovery of an alien ruins nearby should help persuade them to stick around. When all hell breaks loose it will be up to the PCs to keep people alive.

DEEP WATER

The Setup

The high security prison, Davy Jones’ Locker, is situated on the ocean bed of the planet Aquarius 4, housing 650 guards and 1050 prisoners. Even if a prisoner was able to breach the locks, fight their way past the heavily armed guards and make it to the single submarine they would have nowhere to go.

There are no significant land masses, no other colonies or facilities and the only way off the planet is to be picked up from a ship from the orbiting space station. The Locker is a place where governments and colonies send people who they don’t want to ever return.

When not locked up prisoners can work to improve their living conditions. Aquarius 4 has rich veins of mineral deposits, situated in dangerous ocean canyons. It is a back breaking and often lethal task but many prisoners think it is worth it to eat something other than gruel and sleep on a bed.

While there is only a single large submarine that can take people to the surface there are shuttles, smaller submarines designed to travel short distances. They do not have the engine power to make the journey all the way back to the surface. It is part of their design that if they travel too close to the surface their engines shut down.

The Locker is overseen by Governor Cole, a cruel man hated by the prisoners and guards alike. He sees himself as the ruler of the planet, even if he does report to the Earth government that established the prison. He is biding his time until his retirement, living on the money he diverted from the prison’s funds.

Among the hordes of thieves, murders and other monsters the worst of the bunch is Daniel Cross aka The Dragon. Committing his sickening crimes across twenty different colonies he’d killed nearly a hundred people by the time he was caught and ruined countless others.

Although incarcerated the Dragon isn’t finished yet. He is planning a prison riot, something he has been planning for months. When he sees his opportunity the prisoners will become his army and he will hold the guards hostage. If his demands aren’t met the Dragon is quite happy to turn the Locker into a charnel house.

This adventure is written with the assumption that the prison population will be entirely human but you may wish to have some aliens to show the diversity of the time period. If there is a Galactic alliance other worlds might send their prisoners here as well.

Recently a mining operation exposed a submerged alien ruin. This exciting development has brought a team of scientists to study the area. Unfortunately for them it means they have to be stationed in the prison.

There are many ways to involve the player characters in this adventure. They could be prisoners, incarcerated in the Locker or they could be one of the guards. Either role would give them knowledge of the prison and how it works.

Prisoners will be aware that Dragon is planning a riot and may be in on it. During the course of the adventure not only can they strive to survive but also look for a way to escape.

Guards will face danger from both the prisoners, especially when the riot occurs, but also from the Governor who ignores problems and puts those who complain on the worst duties, such as supervising the mining operations.

Alternatively the player characters could be the scientists brought in study the alien ruins. Scientists should have some knowledge in archaeology, architecture or translation if they hope to get any information from the ruins.

If neither of these roles suit the characters then they could be traders bringing supplies, engineers carrying out repairs on the prison, someone visiting a prisoner for personnel or business reasons or simply stopping at the prison in the hope of refuelling or getting repairs, maybe unaware what the Locker is.

Alternatively the PCs TARDIS could materialise in the prison. The scientists were delayed and their message informing Governor Cole of this hasn’t yet reached the prison. Due to administrative confusion the PCs will be mistaken for the scientists and treated accordingly.

At the start of the game establish the setting, letting the characters encounter members of the other group. Tensions are high and everyone knows that it won’t be long before breaking point is reached. Things start to go wrong after the scientists make their first trip to the alien ruins.

The Nightmare Begins

Unbeknownst to everyone the alien ruin contained Goo, trapped centuries ago. It gains it’s name from it’s gelatinous body which varies in shade from neon green to electric blue to blood red.

It absorbs any organic matter it comes in contact with, eating through flesh and shell within seconds. It uses the absorbed nutrients to sustain itself, increase it’s mass and eventually bud, asexually producing a genetic clone of itself.

Lacking any intelligence Goo simply moves towards any source of heat or movement it detects. It can contract and expand its soft body, propelling itself at high speed through water. This method of movement also works in dry environment, oozing at a slow but steady pace.

 

Now freed the Goo is looking to feed and has followed the scientists at the ruins back to the Locker. Starting at the size of a cow it will uses it’s corrosive touch to enter the prison, damaging vital power systems as it does so and causing a breach.

Virtually immortal the Goo has waited for a long time to be freed. This will occur when the scientists (or the PCs) investigate the ruins.

Studying the Ruins:

This structure was left by the long dead alien lifeforms who once inhabited Aquarius 4. The purpose of the building is unclear as much of it has been damaged or destroyed by it’s long years under the water.

There are chambers with squat humanoid figures, their features worn away. Stone sculptures depicting geometric shapes encircle a depression in the ground, while murals cover the walls. The murals and alien language, inscribed into the walls, can provide some information about what occurred.

Gathering this information is time consuming, requiring on average 10 to 30 minutes. The only light the player characters is that which they bring with them and they must keep an eye on how much oxygen they have. They have limited room to move and any explosions or firearm use could lead to a further collapse, threatening to trap them.

Murals provide illustrations of Aquarius with several large land masses. Over the course of only a few decades these continents and islands sank without trace. The natives knew they were doomed.

One of the murals depicts a diagram for a primitive hyperspace engine, but instead of propelling a vessel through it opened a portal, several miles in the air. A technology, science or transport check will reveal that this is what the mural is indicating.

An awareness check locates a number of artefacts, metal containers of varying size. An science or technology check makes it clear that they were designed to launched from a rocket into hyperspace.

This is supported by alien text, if the PCs can read it. This requires a science or knowledge check. PCs with a TARDIS will find it helpfully translated for them. It reveals that the natives would receive gifts from the gods in the form of strange objects or living creatures which were viewed as the gods emissaries. Several of the containers were lost in the ocean and when they were recovered whatever was inside had escaped. These events occurred before the sinking of the land masses.

Although it does not say it the containers held Goo which escaped and eroded the land masses as they searched for food. The remaining Goo were either trapped in other parts of the planet or died off through lack of food.

What the natives didn’t know is that their planet was the unfortunate dumping ground for another species who had developed a hyperspace portal. Rather than gifts the objects sent through were toxic waste, things to dangerous to keep on their world. By sheer chance the other end of the portal was anchored on Aquarius 4.

It is up to the games master when to unleash the Goo. The presence of living lifeforms could awaken it from its slumber. There are no weapons that the PCs can use to stop it, they can only run. They’ll be able to escape in their submarine but it will slowly follow them back to the prison base.

You may wish to have an underwater earthquake dislodge rubble from the sealed chamber that the Goo is in. One moment the PCs will be trying to escape the ruins before it comes crashing down on their head, the next they see the Goo spilling forth.

Finally the PCs themselves may free the Goo. They could find a chamber which is blocked by rubble which they can either move by hand or use a demolition charge to clear. This will place a lot more responsibility on them for freeing the Goo.

Sea Life:

Anyone studying the diversity of the sea life can learn some interesting details about what has happened here. This is a science check, that takes several hours to complete.

By studying the breeds of fish found there are signs that several hundred years ago a predator entered the food chain that killed off many species with a decade. Those fish that remain were quick and agile, leaving only a few predators. Whatever the new element was it vanished and the ecosystem has slowly been recovering.

Back At the Prison:

Escaping with their lives the PCs should raise the alarm. Governor Cole is sceptical, having never encountered anything like the Goo. The idea of evacuating all the dangerous prisoners is simply too much effort.

This delay allows the Goo to catch up with the PCs. Having doubled its size by absorbing any fish it encountered on the way it is large enough to attack the base. The first thing to go wrong is that the prisoner cell doors unlock. The Dragon uses this as his cue to launch the prison riot. The guards are at a disadvantage, caught by surprise and hampered by the lights randomly plunging them into darkness and the communication system going down.

In all the chaos the flooding on the lower decks goes undetected until it is far too late to do anything about it. Drowning becomes a real possibility for those within the prison. The only way off is the submarine which can only carry 100 people. No matter what happens people are going to die.

The Goo doesn’t just cause problems. It is there to hunt and kill. Within the confines of the prison people can’t escape from it and as it eats it gets larger and larger. In less than a day it becomes large enough to fill entire decks.

Survive the Riot

Not long after the scientists (or the PCs) return to the prison the power goes off. Before the emergency generators kick in the prisoners have escaped from their cells and with Dragon urging them on they start taking the guards hostage.

Just surviving may be a challenge to the player characters. Those who are guards will be placed in a physical confrontation with a prisoner and even if they beat them there will still be hundreds more. The best they can do is to escape or ditch their uniform (and any protective armour) and hope they can pass as a prisoner.

Prisoners will be urged to join in with the riot and find themselves pushed to fight a guard. If they refuse the other prisoners will turn on them, looking to make an example of them. They will either have to play along or look for an opportunity to escape the confrontation.

The scientists are caught in the middle. The prisoners are targeting the guards first since they prove the biggest threat but the scientists are seen as vulnerable and would certainly make good hostages. The guards will ignore them but does mean that the scientists might be caught in the cross fire.

If they keep their heads down they might be able to slip away. They can also try to persuade a guard to escort them to safety. Within 30 minutes the prisoners have control of the cell areas. What happens next is up to the player characters.

Restoring Power

Technically minded player characters might head to lower decks to see if they can repair whatever damage has been caused. They will be the first to find out that there is a hull breach and these sections are flooding.

None the less they can attempt to make repairs to the power systems, something they will have to do if they hope to release the submarine from the dock. It will also prevent further black outs. These repairs take 20 minutes and require a science or technology check.

The breach in the hull can’t be repaired from within the prison.

Securing the submarine

On the top deck is the submarine which can travel to the surface. Everyone on the prison remembers their trip on the vessel and that if they want to escape they’ll need to be on board. Controlling the submarine puts player characters in a strong position.

Any one who wishes to use the submarine will need some level of thetransport skill. If they don’t they will need one of the guards who has received the proper training to take them back to the surface.

The submarine is held by docking clamps. When it leaves the dock doors open, flooding the chamber with water, the locks release and the submarine can move off. All of this requires power which can’t be provided by the emergency generator. Someone will need to travel to the lower decks to restore the power they need. This could leave the submarine unattended if they don’t leave someone to guard it.

Both the prisoners and the guards will make a play for the submarine. For the player characters to be considered to have secured the submarine they must be able to keep others away through persuasion or intimidation.

Dealing with Governor Cole

Cole is not prepared to fight to keep control of the prison. He is much more concerned with escaping alive, preferably with his stolen wealth. He doesn’t care who has to die in order for that to happen.

If the player characters successfully portray themselves as useful allies then he will ask for their help. He needs people to protect him, carry his case full of stolen credits and get him to the surface. Anyone who can fight or has good technical skills will fit that bill.

The question is whether the player characters can tolerate helping someone so despicable. He is extremely reluctant to take any action that might harm his chances to escape, including letting more than a handful of people on board the submarine and he especially doesn’t care if the prisoners die.

Allying with Cole ensures that the guards work with the player characters and they are given access to the resources they need.

The player characters might decide to eliminate Cole, especially if they are a prisoner. The guards are surprisingly unmoved by this, they never liked him. Prisoners will view people who kill Cole much more favourably.

Cole isn’t a match for anyone in combat. He is very surprised if he dies, having lived his whole life believing he would come out on top.

Dealing with Dragon

Dragon wants a blood bath. There is nothing he’d like more than to kill as many guards as he can before this is brought to an end. He has just enough restraint to keep them has hostages until their demands are met but it doesn’t take much for him to kill one or two to show they mean business.

If the player characters want to work with Dragon they must show that they can be useful to him. He is particularly impressed for any one who has a vicious streak to them. Under no circumstances will Dragon work with a guard.

Having Dragon as an ally means that they will be safe from the prisoners. Dragon might even assign some of the prisoners to provide muscle for the player characters.

Killing Dragon is difficult but once he is dead the prisoners morale breaks and they will fall into chaos, allowing the guards to regain control. Dragon is a tough opponent, almost a Hostile in himself.

6ft tall, muscular with a dragon tattoo that covers his back and his bald scalp. He prefers to use his hands to kill but is more than capable of using other weapons. You may wish to have Dragon display cybernetic implants or be of alien origin (Ogron, Draconian or Sontaran work well). 

Accessing the Armoury

The armoury contains weapons and ammunition, including some heavier weapons for an emergency. Due to the speed of the riot no one has been able to open it up yet. Governor Cole and ten head guards have the key that will open the secure section.

If the characters are able to gain access they will be in a stronger position to defeat the Goo, as well as fend off anyone who is hostile to them. They can either use a key, try to unlock it with a subterfuge check or simply use mining equipment or explosives to destroy the door.

Gaining Mining Equipment

There is mining equipment waiting to be unloaded in the shuttle bay. It is unwieldy to carry but there are blow torches and drills that can be used as weapons. The fuel tanks can also act as makeshift explosives. The equipment could also be used to seal the hull breach, given enough time.

Medical Bay

There is a large medical bay to treat both prisoners and guards. There is plenty of medical supplies to patch up any wounds and so could prove a valuable area to control, if only in the short run.

There is also a supply of cryogenic fluid, used to put patients in suspended animation should their condition require them to be treated some where else. This cryogenic fluid is extremely cold and can be used to freeze the Goo.

Sealing the Hull Breach

This is a difficult task and requires the correct equipment, gathered from the shuttle bay, but if they can stop water flooding into the base then they can slow down the Goo (which moves slower in dry areas) and give them more time to engineer a rescue.

Sealing the hole requires a Technology+Strength check using the mining equipment. This takes 1 hour to complete, during which time they will be vulnerable to attack. If interrupted they can continue the repairs from the point they left off.

Aftermath

The player characters may decide that they don’t want to spend time fighting the Goo and instead just escape. If they do they will have to live with the guilt that those in the Locker were either eaten or drowned.

If they did manage to defeat the Goo but have failed to stop the flooding they will have to make a difficult decision about who goes in submarine, if they are in a position to make that decision. They may find that after killing the monster that another party has taken the submarine and they will shortly drown.

A lot of the consequences of this adventure depend on who the player characters were and the decisions they made. If they are prisoners they will have to figure out a way to call for rescue and still escape. If they were guards there will be questions about how Governor Cole acted and how complicit they were in the death of those on board the prison.

If they were scientists the alliances they made may come back to hunt them, especially if they let dangerous prisoners escape. If they helped Cole he will shift the blame to them unless they threaten to expose his double dealing.

The player characters might even stand to become rich if they steal the money that Cole was hoarding. If Cole died then there will be no one to expose them, although investigators might eventually find that there were funds missing and come to believe the player characters stole it.

Time travellers could conceivably fit a lot of people into their TARDIS but given the prison population would they want to? They may wish to follow up on who dumped the Goo on Aquarius 4 in the first place.

The TARDIS could pick up the faint hyperspace trail. Was the Goo a creature natural to the planet or a bio-weapon? Are the species still using hyperspace to dump their trash or are they long dead? What they find is up to the games master.

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