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MasterZelgadis

Ideas needed - Abandoned Station

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Last session my group finished the jewel from yavin module, fleeing from bespin, with a raider corvette behind them. After an intense chase, they jumped to hyperspace, and bam.. came out in an unknown area of space. Classic jump calculation error.

But that area is not empty, right in front of them is an old, damaged, abandoned space station. That's the cliffhanger where I ended the session.

So much for the backstory. My intentions were that they dock, explore the base, investigate what happened and then maybe use it as a hidden homebase. The exploration part should get a little touch of horror, but no zombie stormtroopers, or sth like that.

But now I seem to lack ideas how to pull it off. First of all, what rooms should such a base have? Hangar, Control Room, Fuel / Cargo / Ammo Storage, Crew Quarters, Medbay are quite obvious, but what interesting rooms could be there?

Also, what could happen to the players while exploring? The station will be completely cold and dark, so sudden decompressions are very unlikely. Oxygen shortage is also unlikely, they could just get to their ship and refill the oxygen tanks. Oh, except.. their way back gets cut off.. Then they need an other route to the ship (will probably hard to pull off, 1 player quit the group, but her character is still on board, she could just maneuver the ship to a position they can get to..).

So what horror elements could they encounter? Mainly non combat encounters, I want the base to be really abandoned. So no mystical creatures (á la Alien) or pirate raiders or force ghosts.. Well maybe encpounters that let the players conclude there has to be some kind of creature hunting them, but in fact there isn't..

Any ideas? I feel kind of uncreative right now..

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So one question you'll need to address—at least in your notes, even if it never comes up in the game—is what the station was for. After that, you need to decide why it was abandoned. I've got a few ideas:

  • This was a refueling point for an old hyperlane, which also means there should be a gas giant, asteroid field, or star nearby to provide the raw fuel. (Raw, because there would need to be a refinery, too, which could be a separate operation.) The hyperlane deteriorated over time, so the occupants slowly packed up and left. The refueling facility itself should still be intact, even though the fuel was probably drained. There'd be space for services, such as a mechanic, a trading post, and a cafeteria. There would also be some options for staying a while, such as hotels. There'd be a central control room, and the computers would likely still have astronavigation data for the surrounding area, which you could use to seed future adventures.
  • It was an observation post for something nearby, like some manner of stellar phenomenon or a planetary body. This would likely be operated by a government or a corporation, meaning there would be amenities such as a kitchen, common dining area, dormitory, and recreation area. Plus whatever's needed to complete its mission: a powerful sensor array, massive computer storage for the data, somewhere for the occupants to receive and analyze the data. It could have been abandoned for any number of reasons, such as if the reason for observation ended, or if there was a budgetary issue necessitating it closing down, or a mechanical fault that was too expensive for the government/company to care to fix it. It could also be a signals intelligence outpost for some war that was abandoned when the war ended.
  • It could be some kind of research station, biological, astrological, or geological in nature. Maybe it was conducting research that's considered legally dubious, or else needed isolation in case of containment failure or corporate espionage. Aside from the usual amenities for the station staff, you'd also have research labs, observation rooms, analysis machines, posh conference rooms where the researchers could receive VIPs, a subject library, whatever special requirements they have for doing their particular brand of research. For fun, your PCs could discover an apocalyptic log detailing the outbreak of some disease or killer animal on the station, finding entries that string them along until they reach the station's command-and-control center where there's a final recording... explaining that everything was brought under control, but the company got spooked and decided to cancel the research.

Once you have those, you can insert the horror elements as needed. Like you said, random malfunctions to make them jumpy, a red herring like I describe above, some atmosphere from Dead Space—and at the end of it, a station that can be used for their purposes but needs some service to get back up to full strength.

And I'd say that's a key part of it. If you'll pardon the expression, no station like this exists in a vacuum. It had to be there for something, it needed resupply, the folks on board had to not go insane. Give that some thought, and you'll find tons of potential adventure hooks for later development.

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Yes, I wanted to leave this open for now and base the purpose of the station on the ideas that come, or I develop.

One idea I had was, that the location is not the original location of the station, that it got pulled into hyperspace by something (maybe a research accident, which leads to a research station..) and left hyperspace at the location where it now is located. But I'm not entire sure that I like that idea. This works in Starfinder or maybe Star Trek, but in Star Wars you need an actual hyperdrive to accelerate..

Question is, when the players use it as a home base, what kind of station could be of any use for them? A research station would be not my favourite then, a refueling or trading post would fit better.

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Another option could be that it was a military/security outpost.  The amenities would be similar to those in a refueling/trading post;  i.e. barracks, mess hall, workshop, armory, docking bay, command center, exchange, medical plus it would probably have a gym, shooting range, and other things that the players might find more useful. 

A potential backstory is that it was a frontier outpost protecting from slavers, raiders or some other threat, and was abandoned once the conflict was over and it was no longer needed (maybe even a Clone War or older relic).  You could have the station's log say the unit stationed there was sent out on a mission and they never returned, or that they were ordered to abandon and demolish the system but something went wrong.  As far as the "horror" aspect, could be a fun spin to have the security system still active, although degraded, and trying to impede/taunt the players.  Think HAL in Space Odyssey.  That would allow them to eventually "hack" the system and take control, and provide an NPC caretaker to maintain their home base for them.

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If you don't want any NPC conflict then the go to for me is environmental conflict. An abandoned station like this should have lots of opportunity for mechanics and computers checks.

A few specific examples:

  • The station has no power (and therefore no gravity, life support, lifts, doors, etc). The first step needs to be traversing an unknown and dangerous environment to restore power. Restoring power should be more than just a simple check. The requirement of a specific part is a good way to go here as it gives the whole party a problem to solve as they try to find it.
  • Now that power is running, life support has kicked in, but there is a problem. The CO2 scrubbers aren't working right and need to be fixed.
  • Just because the station is now powered doesn't mean that the PCs are in control. They'll need to find some way to gain access to station control, likely through a combination of slicing and mechanics.
  • With an old station like this, it definitely will have deteriorated. Collapsed passages, broken catwalks, and hull breaches can all create environmental hazards and obstacles for the players to deal with. Having things collapse while the PCs are on board can create some exciting tension as they try to recover and find a new way back.

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Heres my go, the station is home to a experimental A.I. (halo style) dating back to pre ep 1. It became sentient and the cliche kill all humans happened with a few survivors making it out. Over time the station has broken down so the AI cant just depressurize the station however it will try and interact with the PCs and trick them into repairing the station so it can murder. It will say another AI is wrestling with it for control and that it needs the repairs to overcome the other guy. The AI will do environmental horror stuff to the PCs in order to push them towards fixing the station.

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8 minutes ago, Samuel Richard said:

Heres my go, the station is home to a experimental A.I. (halo style) dating back to pre ep 1. It became sentient and the cliche kill all humans happened with a few survivors making it out. Over time the station has broken down so the AI cant just depressurize the station however it will try and interact with the PCs and trick them into repairing the station so it can murder. It will say another AI is wrestling with it for control and that it needs the repairs to overcome the other guy. The AI will do environmental horror stuff to the PCs in order to push them towards fixing the station.

To fit this into existing Star Wars lore, all you have to do is have the AI be an integrated droid brain. It wasn't wiped, so it developed a personality and went crazy. The experimental part comes from the fact that it had more automatic control over the station, whereas most Star Wars stuff is very analog and manual.

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2 minutes ago, CaptainRaspberry said:

To fit this into existing Star Wars lore, all you have to do is have the AI be an integrated droid brain. It wasn't wiped, so it developed a personality and went crazy. The experimental part comes from the fact that it had more automatic control over the station, whereas most Star Wars stuff is very analog and manual.

thanks m8

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Another option for environmental horror could be that the stations inhabitants didn’t breath a standard atmosphere.  That way they get the stations life support back running only to find its pumping out an atmosphere poisonous to most or all the crew.  Ditto gravity, could have been a high G species and when they get artificial gravity up it smashes them flat the deck unless they are able to make athletics checks. 

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All nice ideas, thanks so far. 

The station is definitely powered down, no atmosphere, no gravity, no AI, no defenses.

I like the idea of making this a two part exploration, part one navigating through the dead station, trying to reactivate the power core, and part two getting control over the station, having a mad droid AI and defense systems against them. Especially if they have to take some ways, they already explored in part one, that are totally different now with power restored.

The thing I struggle with is finding more ideas for "environmental encounters" in a completely dead station.

Hm.. maybe it could be also an option to have some raiders appear halfway through the exploration, so they would have to fight off a rivaling group.. have to think about that

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6 hours ago, MasterZelgadis said:

The thing I struggle with is finding more ideas for "environmental encounters" in a completely dead station.

Mynoks love powered down stations! and they can make for a nice little "annoying" challenge to help with pacing. Booby Traps also make for a pretty good little surprise as well.

Deranged droids work well for a horror-esque atmosphere (or lack thereof!), though you can always go with the Republic Commando Scav Droids for the extra layer of "wait, why am I getting some interference on my visor?". Scared me silly when I played it the first time.

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16 hours ago, MasterZelgadis said:

The thing I struggle with is finding more ideas for "environmental encounters" in a completely dead station.

In addition to all the doors being locked/powered down, maybe they find a section of the station which is still pressurized, and blows them down a hall or into space when they force the door.  Possibly accompanied by ice shard blowing out with the atmosphere.

Rooms could be filled with noxious/poisonous/corrosive elements.  Unshielded radioactives could be exposed.  Possibly some battery power is still available, making for some live wires.

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Don't forget, Star Wars predates OH&S as well, add in a compactor and conveyor belt, a smelting plant, slicing blades, etc.

In all seriousness, you could add some kind of trash compactor encounter. Mynocks are a great option, but consider adding something else that thrives in a dead station. What about a creature that feeds on trash being used to process it, having been mildly to severely starved it would be hungry by now.

What about some kind of spores that have developed during the shut down period? Operating environmental systems would have kept them at bay, but once the system is back online it spreads them everywhere and overwhelms the filters for a period.

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4 hours ago, Roderz said:

Don't forget, Star Wars predates OH&S as well, add in a compactor and conveyor belt, a smelting plant, slicing blades, etc.

In all seriousness, you could add some kind of trash compactor encounter. Mynocks are a great option, but consider adding something else that thrives in a dead station. What about a creature that feeds on trash being used to process it, having been mildly to severely starved it would be hungry by now.

What about some kind of spores that have developed during the shut down period? Operating environmental systems would have kept them at bay, but once the system is back online it spreads them everywhere and overwhelms the filters for a period.

OH&S?

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24 minutes ago, 2P51 said:

That would be OSHA, and it's older than Star Wars, but I think that's a solid guess...

Yeah, same words different order around the world, seemingly.

Actually, health and safety faults might give a few ideas for environmental hazards in an abandoned station. There's no-one there to maintain the systems, so coolant/radiation leaks could be a factor (might even be why there's no-one there). Doors and lights not functioning properly, or are dangerous to use. Some areas too cold, some too hot.
Someone mentioned AI problems, think HAL from 2001, but the computer systems think that the sentient life forms are hazardous, so begins trying to purge them. 

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I think I have now fitted out my base. It was once a resupply post, that has been taken over by pirates but was then abandoned. Still have to come up with a reason for that. 

Regarding the rooms for the base, I start on hangar level, because this is where the PCs will enter:

- Hangar (big enough for a few SIL 4 ships + a few fighters), 2 badly damaged M3-A Scyk with light lasers
- Storage Rooms for supplies
- Space Traffic Control
- Main area for visitors

From the hangar level going up, we have at Hangar Level (HL) +1:
- Officers quarters
- Officers mess hall
- Library / Archive
- Observation Deck

further up at HL+2:
- Control Room
- Comms-Room
- Manager's office
- Office of the Security Chief

Back to the Hangar level, and one Level down:
- Fuel Storage
- Weapons storage (for ship weapons), maybe they can find a few old missiles or torpedoes here. They still have no launcher though.
- Tech Rooms / Workshops
- Brigg

further down at HL-2:
- Crew quarters
- Crew mess hall
- Med-Bay
- Training-Room
- Hydroponics (to be independent from food suppliers)
 

And one level down again at HL-3:
- Engineering Room / Power Core
- Computer Core
- Environmental Control (O2, Gravity)

On the surface:
- Shield generator
- Laser Turrets
- an Ion Cannon

 

I really liked the idea of having two phases, phase I with the station cold and dark, no atmosphere, no gravity, no lights. For that phase I have the following encounters, but could use some more ideas..
- A band of raiders set some Anti-Personnel Mines in one room, if the players fail to spot them, they explode. Possible consequences beside from the obvious direct damage could be a cut off corridor, damaged equipment or with a little help of despair getting blown out into space
- A nest of mynocks, obviously they would attack the PCs
- The frozen bodies of the last band of raiders floating in a room, maybe one still has a grenade grabbed, that could go off if it slides out of his dead frozen hand
- A still pressurized room, failure to spot this before forcing open the door will result in decompression of that room, hurling all kind of objects into the PCs general direction
- A small ship with raiders jumps into the system and docks with the station, PCs have to hide (what, if they find the ship in the hangar? ;) ) or prepare an ambush. If they fail to spot it, they get surprised by the raiders
- A meteor shower hits the station. Spotting this lets the PCs leave the endangered areas. Failure will result in damage, cut off corridors or maybe drifting out into space

Not really an encounter, but an overshadowing thing could be a limited amount of oxygen, especially if their way back to their ship was cut off. But I'm not entirely sure about that, apart from finding some O2 bottles, there would be nothing they could really do against that problem. Except from maybe trying to clear the way (which is hard labour and results in even more oxygen consumption) or finding another way. But what if they fail all of this? I don't want to let them die because they ran out of O2..

 

Part II will be when they managed to re-activate the power core, but did not get to the control room to get control over the station. Plan is, the station will be quite different then, so they can't just say "We go back through the corridors we came, we already cleared and explored them, nothing will happen". On their way back they have to manage their way through a powered up, but severely damaged station now. Basically all of the encounters from phase I can also happen here (with some slightly changed effects, for example the raiders will be warned, because the station they expected to be dead is now powered up). But some other encounters could be:
- Malfunctioning / Exploding consoles causing damage and further malfunctions
- Failing gravity (environmental control will only run on an emergency level and will have malfunctions)
- Rooms without atmosphere, basically the same as in phase I but vice versa
- Meteor shower, success spotting the meteors enagbles the PCs to man a turret to shoot the meteor down
- The obvious fire spitting pipes we saw in Jedi Outcast or Jedi Academy
- An activated defense system, with light turrets shooting at the PCs
- Activated security droids / mad maintenance droids

Here I need a few more.. any ideas? I don't really like the idea of a mad station AI...

 

In Phase III (when they gained control over the station), basically the showdown, the raider class corvette, that they escaped at Bespin, could jump in after calculating the vecors of the PCs mis-jump and start searching the system. If the PCs want to use this station as a hidden base of operations, they should destroy the corvette, or come up with an other plan to prevent that it can send the coordinates to the empire. The PCs could use the station turrets, ion cannon and support with teir YT-1300 or even jury rig the Scyk fighters in the station hangar to support in that final showdown.

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I think you figured out why this station was originally abandoned; frequent meteor strikes.

Orbital mechanics being what they are, the original designers could have set up shop and been working nicely until one day they realized that this system had a series of meteors sweep through the system every say . . . 78 years.  So the original occupants, facing 'certain death' evacuated and never looked back.

But only a tiny fraction of the meteors actually strike the station during each pass.

 

Also AI's are never "mad" but they do tend to kill sophonts that get in the way of their designated programming . . .

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I'd have the Brig lower and the Crew Quarters higher. Think of efficiencies that would be considered in a base. However, that's military thinking, so up to you if you want the design haphazard or planned for efficiency.

Just an option on the 'how do we deal with the corvette' question, you could have the station have some kind of cloaking/shielding that hides it from sensors. While abandoned, it was powered down, so the background activity showed up on sensors, until they powered up the station and the cloak kicks in. You could play it as a tense encounter where the PCs don't even realise they can't be 'seen'.

As for O2 running out of spacesuits, ultimately you're in control of this. You get to determine how quickly they're able to make it back to their ship. You can attempt to raise the tension, by having them fail a resilience check and/or start suffocating, and then having whatever plan they develop work out for them. Just remember if you distill something down to a single check, you get to tell them what failure looks like. I can't remember the exact rules for suffocation.

Nothing springs to mind in terms of additional encounters, but I was going to suggest altering the behaviour of Mynocks, either juiced up on new power, or hungrily chasing the sudden banquet available to them.

You could try something with the Brig, maybe it's sealed without power, while an inhabitant gets out once power returns. It'd have to be something with longevity, or maybe there was a supply of 'food' available to it. A Gen'Dai springs to mind, although it needs to be a surmountable challenge, and I don't have stats on a Gen'Dai either. https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Gen'Dai

Edited by Roderz
Added Gen'Dai idea

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Two thoughts.

1. Abandonment: organizations aren't static; especially ones that don't write charters. A pirate outfit would have 20 reasons to fall apart and it members split, especially with a facility to maintain.

2. Ideas: give more than a few of your hazards rewards/motivations. Like, stick treasures behind the proverbial swinging axes. Too much danger and players might get practical and stop exploring or even leave.

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The main reward / motivation was intended to be exploration of the station in order to power it up and then keep it as a base of operations. Most hazards are more intended as traps, so things happen, while they explore. The main problem for the SC should be spotting those in order to "disarm" the trap or find a way around it. Of course there will be some chances to find nice stuff :)

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  • Sudden Depressurization - old materials can't handle the strain of suddenly being repressurized / affected by gravity.
  • Bulkheads auto-closed when power returned and atmospheric pressure began rising at different rates.
  • Mold - assuming the base didn't get a planned shutdown, there was probably still atmosphere after the environmental systems went offline.  Molds can be pretty hardy, and are now "waking up" and getting spread by the newly-started environmental systems.
  • Partial atmosphere - the reserve tanks weren't full enough, and you've only got to make maneuvering difficult, but not enough to breathe.
  • Mynock damage - they tore up / ate data lines, and entire sections of the base are non-responsive.  Even if the machinery's working, you have no access to cameras or sensor readings, and no remote control.
    • Micro-leaks - air keeps getting pumped in, but with no sensors there's no way to tell the leak is in this area.  Hopefully they guess right enough to get the dead sector closed back off until repairs can be made.
  • Multi-environment capability - one or more sectors defaults to an ammonia atmosphere on re-start (hopefully not the sector they're in at the time).
    • Life-form sensor is malfunctioning, and believes the PCs need a different environment - starting an emergency purge & replace.
  • Fire suppression system spontaneously activates (depressurizes to starve the fire).

 

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Pyremius has some good comments, but I want to touch base on the microbial growth, including mold.

Most microbes need an environment that is hot and humid.  So if that's going to be a 'realistic' issue that's the type of environment that is needed.  Still possible though.

And that kind of environment is also ideal for plant growth.  So if the station has a hydroponics or greenhouse (for fresh fruits & vegetables) it SHOULD have sufficient water storage (which needs to leak) and that could result in out of control plant growth (including mold).

And if there is sufficient mold that could cause as much as 2 black dice to all skill checks while PC's are in that environment.  (1 or 2 black dice for all skill checks due to poison.  Symptoms will be irritation to the eyes and respiratory irritation [sneezing, coughing, burning in lungs & eyes], yeah? is there a talent to cancel THOSE black dice?  Didn't think so!).

And if you have a mold infestation that severe it's going to be visually obvious (mold will be present on the surface of bulkheads, ceilings, doors, and definitely the floor).  Airborne particles will still be invisible, but you'll definitely be able to smell it.

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