It is October, 1962 and the world is poised on the cusp of nuclear war. The Cuban Missile crisis brings both the US and Russia to the brink of conflict, each waiting to see who will blink first. We know that neither side launched nuclear strikes but the people of the time didn’t.
An Alternative Future has come into existence. There Survivors struggle for existence in a nuclear wasteland. One such Survivor has accidentally found its way back to October 1962, to a military airbase where it will put into motion the very events that will ensure its world becomes a reality.
The Survivor has arrived at the Eagles Plain airbase, one of several missile test sites for Titan 1 nuclear missiles. The base commander is Colonel Artemis, a man deeply worried that the Russians will launch their own nuclear weapons first.
It won’t take much for Colonel Artemis to ignore protocol and order a launch of nuclear weapons. This act would cause the Russians to launch their own missiles, costing millions of lives and plunging the world into a nuclear winter.
This will strengthen the bond with the alternative history. It will become part of a chain of events that the PCs will find difficult, if not impossible, to remove.
Awareness: 3 Co-Ordination: 2, Ingenuity: 3, Presence: 2, Resolve: 6, Strength: 5
Good Traits: Indomitable, Voice of Authority
Bad Traits: Obsession (Survive), Slow, Unattractive
Natural Weapon (Death Touch): 4/L/L
Skills: Convince: 2, Fighting: 2, Technology: 4, Subterfuge: 3, Survival: 4
Story Points: 2-5
The Survivor is from an alternative future, one in which the last of humanity barely survive in the aftermath of nuclear war. Yet they are not quite real. They are have formed and half realised. They don’t yet exist.
This particular Survivor has found itself in 1962. As the odds of its existence increase so is it shaped. Initially it is just a deformed man but as Colonel Artemis increasingly becomes the reason for the nuclear conflict so does the Survivor take on his characteristics.
Regardless the Survivor is irreversibly irradiated. The more anxious it becomes the bright it glows, with a green aura. Its touch is deadly, its victims suffering from radiation burns, sickness and death.
The Survivor is not aware of its nature as a living self-fulfilling paradox. On an unconscious level it is motivated to ensure that its reality becomes real, no matter the cost.
The player characters arrive and encounter The Green Death. Captured by air force personnel and brought before Colonel Artemis they find they are Accused. To clear their names they will have to Find The Herald which could lead to A Door To Tomorrow. Once found the Herald has a Warning of Doomsday.
Convinced Colonel Artemis begins a Countdown To Destruction. This leaves the player characters only a brief time to Save Tomorrow.
The Green Death
The PCs TARDIS arrives at night in the midst of an airbase. If they check the ships controls it is capable of telling them their location in the US (the exact location is up to you) and that it is October 1962. The same information can be gathered by anyone with a good grasp of military history or the 1960s.
Once they’ve got their bearings the group almost immediately hear the sound of gunfire, followed by screams. Investigating they will find two airbase personnel. One of them is clearly dead, his body glowing an unnatural green, while his companion is groaning in pain.
Medicine reveals that both men were exposed to a large dose of radiation. The surviving soldier has radiation poisoning and needs immediate treatment. An Awareness check reveals that both men have hand prints where the Survivor touched them.
The dying soldier can be treated with Medicine. Antibotics and blood transfusions are the best way to increase his chances of survival but he will become comatose, at least for the moment.
Before they can hunt for their attacker they are surrounded by soldiers, responding to the gunshots. They will demand that the PCs surrender.
If one of the player characters immediately suggested going for help let them run into one of the approaching group of soldiers. They’ll follow the player character to the fallen soldiers but will demand their surrender shortly afterwards.
PCs can use=Convince to persuade the soldiers that they aren’t a threat, which will cause the soldiers to lower their weapons but not release the group. A ‘Yes And’ can persuade the soldiers that the PCs have some authority to be there.
As long as at least some of the group are captured some PCs may use Subterfuge to slip away from the group. PCs can distract the soldiers can also be used allowing some of the other PCs to escape.
Those who take a violent approach might win one or two fighting checks but they are outnumbered and outgunned. At most they can go down fighting. This aggressive stance will hurt their claims of innocence later.
PCs who are captured or otherwise remain with the soldiers should be taken to Colonel Artemis, leading to Accused. Those who escaped can jump straight to Find The Herald.
The PCs are taken through the military base. This gives them a chance to spot some of the missile silos. If you wish to drive the point home one of missiles could be visible, its launch mechanism being tested under the cover of darkness.
If they saved the soldier the PCs can learn that his name is Airman Dean Wilts and that he will be taken to sick bay. If the other soldiers witnessed the PCs giving him medical treatment this will put them in good stead. PCs can give advice on how to keep him alive
After being searched to ensure they have no weapons they are brought before Colonel Artemis in the base command centre. He is a no-nonsense man, accusing the group of being Russians.
He’ll commend them on them on their accents (assuming none have Russian accents) but will quickly point out flaws in their disguises, typically any anachronistic fashion or accessories. Any futuristic or alien gadgets will be highlighted as Russian technology.
They can complement Colonel Artemis, stroking his ego. While he’ll still think they’re spies he will allow them to speak, as he enjoys being told how smart he is. This can adjust his attitude. A ‘Yes and’ result convinces him that the PC is someone who supports his belief.
Attempts to confuse him or any talk about time travel or aliens will anger him, leading to threats of imprisonment and even execution.
The PCs can use Convince to persuade Colonel Artemis that they aren’t a Russian but they have still trespassed on military property and been captured near a dead soldier. Artemis will assume that the other members of the group are still Russians who are using the PC as a dupe.
The PCs could use Convince or Subterfuge to persuade Colonel Artemis that they have a legitimate reason to be there. A ‘Yes and’ result convinces him that they are there to help.
At the end of this scene Colonel Artemis will either demand they show him how the soldier was killed or ask them for help in tracking down the killer. In both cases they will be assigned some soldiers to either guard them or help them.
In any event Colonel Artemis boasts that the Russians better not test him as he has the nerves of steel needed to order the launch of the Titan rockets.
Find The Herald
In order to either clear their name or prevent more deaths the PCs should try to find the killer. Geiger counters can be used to track a radiation trail leading away from where the soldiers were found. The stronger trail is where it went, while the fainter trail is where it came from. A Science or Technology check should be required to follow this trail.
Awareness can be used to discover burnt footprints and melted metal hatches, revealing that the figure descended into the bunkers that house the launch controls and silos of the missiles.
Technical problems at the base allow the PC to use Science or Technology to identify where the Survivor is. It unwittingly causes damage to the bases communication ability, preventing them from communicating with command.
If they saved him Dean Wilts awakes, although he is delirious. They can use Convince to get him to talk about his attacker. He describes a glowing green figure in tattered clothes. He remembers seeing the Survivor heading towards an access hatch.
Eventually they should find the Survivor. It will attack any unarmed and vulnerable individual, groaning and moaning as it attempts to deliver its deadly touch. Once outnumbered or caught at a disadvantage it will surrender.
It’s green glow will diminish revealing its scarred face, twisted body and tattered military uniform. Anyone who has seen Colonel Artemis will immediately recognise that this is a radiation scarred version of him. Any soldiers with the player characters will comment on the resemblance.
The Survivor appears confused and in pain. Once it is certain it will not be attacked it will collapse, mumbling about a nuclear missile attack.
This can lead to Warning of Doomsday but you may wish to give the PCs time to discover A Door To Tomorrow.
A Door To Tomorrow
Not only can the PCs find the Survivor but they can also find where it came from. There is a invisible portal to this alternative future by a hole in the fence that surrounds the airbase. This can be found with Awareness+Science or Survival (noting the wilting plant life around the area) or with a Geiger counter.
The presence of radiation is easily detectable from the invisible portal. It would be wise for anyone going through to have some protective gear, which is easily obtainable from the airbases supplies. The TARDIS can also ensure that the PCs have the equipment they need so they can go through safely.
If the PCs don’t have access to anything to protect them reassure them that the radiation is low enough that short term exposure shouldn’t have any long term affects.
Stepping through they PCs find themselves in a nuclear wasteland. The ruins of the airbase stand behind them while the local terrain is deformed by craters, the wildlife dead or dying. The PCs should realise this is the result of a nuclear strike.
Exploring reveals that craters and silos are filled with glowing green rain water. It is impossible to estimate the time of day as there are thick clouds in the air, a dim light could be the moon or the sun. There is an ever present chill in the air.
Exploring the silos reveals that all the missiles on the base have been fired. You may wish to have a PC use Technology to repair some of the equipment to ascertain this fact.
Files, logs and computer read outs that indicate the devastation was caused by Russian missiles. A ‘Yes And’ result point reveals that the airbase fired first.
Let the PCs explore as much or as little as you want, depending on how you want to pace the adventure. Attacks from more Survivors (wearing airbase personnel uniforms) can force them to retreat but so can an environment change like acid rain.
Any pursuers will be unable to find the portal, at least for now. PCs might want to Persuade or Flatter soldiers into standing guard, just in case anything else comes through after them.
Warning of Doomsday
Once the Survivor is in custody Colonel Artemis insists on speaking with it. The PCs are on hand to provide advice or corroboration. If any of the PCs used to the dangers of time travel know that it is a bad idea for someone to speak with their future self (as this Survivor appears to be) but Artemis won’t be dissuaded.
The Survivor is largely in-coherent but is able to communicate that it comes from a near future in which the country was devastated by a nuclear strike from Russia. It makes it clear that this attack is imminent and insists they must attack first.
Colonel Artemis is clearly shaken by this, taking the words to heart. He will leave to consider his options, leaving orders that no one must harm the Survivor. Any soldier who harms or kills it will be tried for treason, as it would be the same as attacking a superior officer.
Once he is gone the Survivor becomes increasingly aggressive. With the soldiers unwilling to get close or harm it the Survivor may escape. If Dean Wilts is still alive he will attempt to kill the man before fleeing.
If the PCs are able to defeat the Survivor without killing it then it will fall unconscious. Colonel Artemis will be furious when this news reaches him, as it has denied them valuable information about the future.
If they kill the Survivor Artemis will order the PCs imprisonment and may even arrange to have them shot (once the current crisis is dealt with). From his perspective they’ve just killed him and any aggression the Survivor displayed was because he knew what was going to happen to him.
With the warning from the future Colonel Artemis will begin the Countdown To Destruction.
Countdown To Destruction
Without a way to communication with command and believing that he has a rare opportunity to prevent a nuclear strike he orders the airbase to full alert. He makes it clear that he plans to have the Titan rockets launched to save the future.
PCs should realise that this action will trigger a retaliatory strike from Russia. This will ensure that the future the Survivor comes from will come into being.
During this phase the PCs may find themselves under suspicion, dealing with an escaped Survivor or even imprisoned. To prevent disaster they must first resolve these situations.
The airbase personnel are loyal to Colonel Artemis but none take a nuclear missile launch lightly. Given the strange events and the unstable behaviour of their commanding officer the PCs can convince some that the Colonel must be stopped.
This tactic can be used on any airmen guarding one of the PCs. Alternatively they can be distracted. As a last resort PCs might use Fighting or Marksman to disable them.
If the Survivor is loose then it will do everything it can to ensure that the missiles are launched. It will eliminate anyone trying to sabotage the launch systems or those who oppose the Colonel. Its proximity to Artemis has allowed it to absorb his knowledge, allowing it to become familiar with the layout of the base and its systems.
It may also head back to the portal, to lead more Survivors through. It will attack any soldiers left guarding that portal.
The Survivor is a rogue element that can be used to sabotage the PCs plans or add complications as the countdown to the launch continues.
To prevent the reality shown in the alternative timeline becoming the future the PCs must prevent Colonel Artemis from launching the nuclear missiles.
Sabotaging equipment and launch systems can slow this process down but back-up systems and repairs ensure that eventually the missiles will be launched. Similarly turning members of the airbase against Artemis will divert the attention of loyal airbase members as they deal with the ‘traitors’.
If Artemis is overwhelmed and captured he may still escape, either with the help of a loyal sub-ordinate or the Survivor. He’ll immediately try to launch a missile himself, giving the PCs just enough time to find him before he does so.
Killing Artemis is a drastic step to take and is not a perfect plan. There are still members of staff who will follow out his dying orders and even if the PCs persuade them not to the Survivor could appear to carry out the final steps needed.
Technology checks can repair the airbases communications, allowing them to contact command. This can persuade Colonel Artemis to stand down, especially if he can verify that there are no signs that the Russians are about to fire their missiles.
Making Artemis doubt the word of the Survivor can go a long way. If they went to the alternative future and found out that they launched first Colonel Artemis will stay his hand.
Using Treatment or Science to bring Dean back to health allows him to recall that the Survivor didn’t initially look like Colonel Artemis. He’ll describe the figure as initially formless. Those medicine or science can persuade the Colonel that the Survivor took his form as it became increasingly likely that he would be the one to trigger the nuclear conflict.
The danger has not passed, even when Artemis calls off the launch. If you wish to bring a further element of predestination the Survivor (either the original or a reinforcement that came through the portal) can appear and attack the Colonel.
They can defeat the Survivor but the Colonel has become hideously scarred by the radiation he has been exposed to. He physically resembles the original Survivor. In a delirious state, if not stopped, he will run blindly into the portal outside, just as it closes.
Alternatively the PCs can save the Colonel, averting that future altogether. This will also close the portal and allow history to continue as it should.
The PCs may like to leave before any awkward questions are asked about their presence and what occurred there. At least they can leave with the satisfaction that the cold war won’t turn hot.
TO BE CONTINUED….?
You may wish to develop this adventure. Was the portal to the alternative future a natural phenomenon or a deliberate act. This could be the opening gambit of Fenric or the Meddling Monk.
It could be that the Eternals are playing with history, attempting to trick humanity into changing their own history. Maybe it isn’t a game but a way to lure a chronovore?
If it is natural the PCs could encounter other possible futures that are struggling to become real. What if the PCs discover a preferable alternative future to the one that can into existence?