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Desslok

[GAME IDEA] Wreck of the CFS Republic

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Yet again I present another document from my archives deep on my hard-drive. While the real world source is pretty obvious, I think it's a cool enough setting to use anyway (well, if I hadn't already used it with my players already :) ). Share and enjoy!

 

THE HISTORY OF THE CFS REPUBLIC -

There has never been another like her.

Built over two hundred years ago at the height of the Old Republic's power, she has become a symbol of that bygone age, and all that was great and sad about it. She was luxury and waste, grandness and conceit, all embodied in one vessel. Her maiden voyage began in celebration and ended in mysterious tragedy.

14,000 workers labored for over the course of nearly a decade to complete construction of the mighty vessel. Six kilometers from stem to stern she was, larger than any starship ever built at that time. She was built to carry 30,000 passengers and 10,000 crew, in accommodations that were luxurious in an era that defined luxury. Her cost was enough to bankrupt a star system or two (and the insurance claims eventually did). She was the pride of her owners, and in their pride there was but one name they could give her: Republic.

The name still resonates. Was it mere coincidence that, soon after her disappearance, her namesake began its own long fall into darkness and corruption? What is certain is that no one since has dared to name a ship "Republic", lest they invite the same fate.

The Republic departed the Corellia system amid pomp and fanfare, with a passenger list that included Senators, heads of corporations, famous entertainers and artists, the media, nobility from a hundred worlds, even a Jedi Knight. Some less respectable types were aboard, too: the notorious ex-pirate captain Black Tam Yoric (insisting to any who'd listen that he'd gone "respectable") and the bounty hunter Pax Urden (traveling under an alias and believed to have been pursuing a target). After a quick jump to Alderaan to take on more passengers, Republic set out along the Corellian Run. Her scheduled destination was Courscant. Her final destination was a mystery.

Only two pieces of the puzzle were ever found. The first was a distress signal received by a handful of ships and planets along the Corellian Run. Weak and full of static, it gave the ship's name and a set of coordinates some distance off the main route. An armada of search and rescue ships raced to the site in response to the message, but there was no sign of the great vessel. The search was called off one week later.

The other turned up decades later, in the middle of the Clone Wars. A cruiser on maneuvers in the Denadora system came across a drifting escape pod with Silver Star markings. The pod's power was exhausted and its occupants, a woman and two children, long dead. The bodies were soon identified as Alia Marathon and her sons Del and Mason, all passengers on Republic. The discovery caused a brief spark of interest, but due to the chaos of the times, no further investigation was possible. Since then, the encounter has drifted into memory.

And now she floats all alone in the night, a dark specter, blotting out the stars with her majestic bulk.

 

THE FINAL FATE OF THE REPUBLIC -

The rest of the story:
Two days out of Alderaan, the Silver Star representative on board began pressuring the captain to trim some time off the voyage, to impress the passengers with Republic's speed (which was indeed remarkable for so large a vessel, given the hyperdrives of the time). Against his better instincts, Captain Zath eventually yielded. He instructed the ship's navigator to plot a tighter course, deviating from the main Corellian Run slightly, cutting some corners.

What happened next was, some would say, inevitable. In the middle of ship's night-watch, the Republic was suddenly forced out of hyperspace. Almost directly ahead was the cause: a rogue comet, too far out from any sun to show a tail or be charted, but quite real enough to have a mass shadow that would trip the hyperspace cut out systems . . . at a distance of a kilometer or so.

Before anyone on the bridge could react, the ship and the comet collided. The massive chunk of interstellar ice slid and skittered down Republic's starboard side, smashing into her hull, ripping her open along nearly half her length before glancing off and drifting away. The ship continued to shake as gale winds poured out of her fatal wound, carrying with them any loose objects - including startled passengers and crew. Pressure doors sealed automatically, but Republic still lost almost a quarter of its atmosphere in just under fifteen minutes.

Somewhere out there, back along the line of Republic's altered course, is a huge dirty snowball surrounded by a cloud of debris. Within this cloud is enough twisted metal to build a Corvette or two, assorted furnishings and souvenirs freeze-dried by vacuum, and a few thousand crushed and decompressed bodies. . . most of them still wearing the evening fashions or sleepwear of two centuries ago.

Captain Zath quickly took stock of the situation (which was dire) and sent out a distress call. However, between the non-standard course, the damaged instruments, and other variables, he had to guess at Republic's exact position. All told, he was only off by about half a light year - an impressive feat, considering what he and his team had to work with. A tiny distance by astronomical standards, yet quite enough for searchers to miss her entirely. Especially when the shredded main antenna quietly stopped working the next day, without anyone noticing.

Republic drifted on. The engine room reported that critical sections of the hyperdrive were fused beyond repair by the overload from the unexpected exit. There was no backup drive; why go to the considerable expense, on a liner that would follow only well-traveled routes? Starting up the ion engines might finish tearing the damaged ship apart. At sublight speeds they were too slow anyway, barely enough to turn the ship - much less reach the nearest port.

Captain Zath addressed the passengers, assuring them that they would soon be rescued - weren't they on one of the most heavily-trafficked routes in the Galaxy? (He tactfully did not mention the slight detour.) In the meantime, he encouraged them to relax, not panic, and make the best of the wait in Republic's comfortable surroundings.

A day went by, then two. By the third day, the story was wearing thin. The Captain and his officers were especially concerned, for they knew what few of the passengers did: Republic was never meant for extended deep space operations. A passenger ship her size went through an astonishing amount of consumables each day. Normally these would have been replenished through regular stops at ports of call - but that was not an option. Also during the initial collision, the main life support systems had been damaged and were operating at a reduced capacity. This would be fine in the case of prompt rescue, but now a harsh reality was staring them in the face. In a week, the air would start to go bad and the supplies would be close to exhausted.

On the fifth day, the captain gave the order to abandon ship. Surprisingly, many of the passengers did not want to go. Some were too frightened by the whole situation to think clearly; others felt it was safer to remain on board than trust their lives to an escape pod. A few remained confident that they would be rescued any time now.

It was just as well, for they could not all have left even if they'd wanted to. The comet had sheared away or crushed most of the escape pods on the starboard side, leaving only enough for about half the passengers and crew. The crew began loading passengers into those that remained, women and children first by ancient tradition. After many tearful good-byes and promises made with false cheer, the pods cast off.

Most of the pods remained together in a loose cluster, to make it easier for rescuers to find them. But their beacons didn't reach far, and help never came. Others struck out on their own, hoping to reach an inhabited system or be found by a passing ship. It was one of these that eventually made it to Denadora. The rest still drift on, following their lonely courses.

With the load on Republic's life-support system and supplies reduced, the time for those that remained was extended to just over three months. But the end was the same: the luxury liner had become a gilded cage, with no escape - only slow, inevitable death.

There were a few suicides, as some decided to go on their own terms, but the majority simply waited it out. There were no mutinies or angry mobs, no plans to kill some so the rest might live long enough to be saved. Whether due to courage or hopeless resignation, the men of the Republic faced their end with quiet dignity. One by one they passed out or drifted off to sleep, never to wake up.

When the last of the oxygen was gone, and with it life, there was still activity aboard Republic. The many simple droids still went about their daily chores, catering to their departed masters: polishing fixtures, cooking meals, making beds around the dead occupants. But in time they too went on reserve power or shut down entirely, waiting for a recharge and new orders. Main power finally failed after a year. The lights went out, along with the gravity. With the failure of the heat systems, Republic's corpse began to cool.
 

THE CFS REPUBLIC TODAY -

As previously noted, Republic is cold and dark. Roughly half of the ship is in vacuum, either from the original hull breach, outgassing, micro-meteorite punctures and other minor incidents over the last two hundred years. The same slight impacts have caused the paint to fade slightly (though the characters will have to shine a spotlight on the hull to see anything in the first place, as starlight is all that's available). In the parts of the ship that still have air, it is stale and largely un-breathable - in addition to being freezing cold. Survival gear will be required to board her.

With the exception of vacuum-welding (where two close-fitting pieces of metal fuse into one) and other effects of long-term exposure to space, Republic is remarkably well-preserved. This state of preservation does not extend to the bodies of the passengers and crew. Most will be found in positions of repose, either in bed, sitting, or collapsed on the floor. All are skeletal - or nearly so (fortunately for the PCs' stomachs). Their clothing is mostly intact, though stained by decomposition of the body within.

Any character foolish enough to open their helmet and take a sniff despite the warnings of their suit gauges is in for a nasty surprise. Not only is the air full of carbon dioxide, but even after two centuries it still carries the stench of decay. Some of the smell is from the bodies, while the rest comes from food that went bad. Stamina checks to avoid nausea are called for.

Jedi/Force User characters will feel uneasy from the moment they see the Republic. If they actually set foot aboard her, they will begin having hallucinations. These can range from hearing noises (in the distance, behind them, etc) to full-sensory visions of the past. In these visions, the character will see their present location as it once was, complete with people. The visions tend to be no more than a minute or two of subjective time and may be from any part of the voyage, before, during or after the disaster. People in the visions will either ignore the character or call them by the name of whoever the character is "seeing through the eyes of."

These hallucinations are not hauntings per se, but the result of a massive Force imprint left by the thousands of people who died aboard Republic. They are harmless unless someone does something bad as a result of a vision (shooting another character, removing their pressure suit and so on). A character that is removed from Republic will recover immediately. Characters using Sense Force will be overwhelmed at first by the strength of the imprint; the imprint as a whole is neither Light nor Dark, although individual components/visions may have those biases.
 

STAGING ADVICE -

The inspiration for this scenario is, of course, the RMS Titanic disaster. The GM should play up the similarities as much as they feel comfortable, without turning the adventure into a cheap copy with no emotional impact.

If the GM wants to run a "follow-the-clues" scenario, they may start the characters on the trail by having them stumble across the comet and debris field, or the lifepod cluster, during an otherwise routine voyage through hyperspace. Or perhaps a scholarly type engages them with an interest in Republic and what he thinks is a lead on what happened to her.

Probably the most dramatic option, however, is to have the PCs' ship kicked out of hyperspace by Republic herself. As the alarms go off, the black shape of the old liner suddenly looms ahead. Presumably the PCs will have better luck avoiding a collision than she did. If they have a backup hyperdrive, feel free to burn out the main one and force them to limp home.

If your players are good Star Wars players, they'll probably want to check out the legendary ship once things calm down. If they absolutely must cut and run for backup, try to get them along as part of the team that gets sent back to explore her later. If they refuse at that point, don't force them; go to another adventure.

Republic is almost as big as a Super Star Destroyer. Push the "Wow" Button of its vast size and over-the-top opulence at every opportunity.

The visions are provided as an exposition and storytelling tool, allowing glimpses of what happened on Republic's doomed maiden voyage to be given to force-sensitive characters. For best effect, the first few should be of the "Good Life"; then follow up with the terrifying crash. Remember that the strongest impressions left would be emotional ones.

Other than the ghosts of the past, there is nothing lurking aboard Republic waiting to jump out and bite your face off. Try to avoid the clichés of horror movies. You want the characters to be curious and maybe a little nervous, like archaeologists exploring an ancient tomb. Strange noises and maybe a few Mynocks are okay; a face-hugging Alien or homicidal droid is not.
 

SO WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A 200 YEAR OLD STARSHIP?

Republic would require a huge investment to be made spaceworthy again, after the disaster and two centuries adrift. The most heroic option is probably to sell or give it to some museum, so scholars can go over the ship with tweezers and perhaps slowly work on restoring her someday. If the players go this route, they should be given some kind of reward as well as lots of warm fuzzies.

Another option is to try and salvage the ship, the contents, or both. There's a lot of metal in that old hull. . . And the stuff on board isn't just antiques, it's A Piece of the Old Republic. The characters have just inherited a collectibles mine (if they can defend their claim against the great-grandchildren of Senator Froboz), but will probably have their share of headaches in removing, transporting and selling it all, to say nothing of the reactions they'll get from some people for auctioning off pieces of a legend.

One more artifact of note - there was indeed a Jedi Knight on board, named Ash Zarif. Unless the GM does not wish the players to find one (meaning that Ash evacuated the doomed vessel in an escape pod), There is a lightsaber on board, with the remains of the Knight. Players in the episode one era may benefit, the Jedi council would be very interested in the recovery of the weapon and of Zarif's remains. In the shadow of the Empire, however - this lightsaber would be of enormous value to a budding Jedi.

If the PCs are independents, and want to try a little grave-robbing on their own, remind them that Republic was quite famous in certain circles and people are going to start asking questions if (for example) the ship's china pattern starts turning up in metric-ton lots. Their best bet is probably to hook up with someone - Alliance/New Republic, Empire, or even just a good crime syndicate or fence - and let them take over the operation, with an appropriately large "finder's fee" of course.

One possibility is that the PCs will decide to leave Republic rest in peace and not tell anyone of the discovery. This is a noble decision in its own way, and deserves to be rewarded with some extra Experience Points. This and the knowledge that they did the Right Thing are probably all the PCs will ever get out of it.

Bottom line is, this scenario will probably give the characters a LOT of publicity unless they specifically ask for their names to be kept out of it. Likewise, it could also make them a lot of money - enough for some characters to retire on. Consider these factors before running this adventure.

Edited by Desslok

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Well done.

 

Reading your story I couldn't help but think you were heading towards a campaign start rather then a scenario. On the roster were naval crewmen, the wealthy, an ex-pirate, and a Jedi. I thought when the escaped pods released, they were going to land on an undiscovered inhabitable moon or something similar. 200 years later, we would have a large colony using scavenged advanced tech mixed with archaic tech led by descendants of a Jedi, wealthy noble, ship captain and a pirate chief, etc. They would have tales of the day their ancestors fell from the skies and dreams of one day returning to the mystical worlds of their fore-fathers. An interesting campaign could start with a cruiser appearing in orbit and a shuttle landing. In any era, players could choose to play:

 

A refurbished 200-year old droid whose memory had been wiped several times through its service. The droid would be an interesting mixture of parts from Republic droids and hold an important role in the colony.

 

A militia man of the lost colony who still carries his forefather's pirate blaster pistol meticulously kept in working condition

 

A navy woman of the proud sailing ships of the colony. Sporting a CFS Republic symbol on her uniform, she dreams of "sailing" the skies.

 

A mystic of the Force trained at a temple founded by the Jedi passenger. The lightsaber of the founding Jedi is an artifact at the temple, even if it has long been drained of power.

 

A descendant of one of the fabulously wealthy noble passengers. He will cause quite a stir when it is discovered he actually is in control of his ancestor's corporation back on Coruscant.

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OK, I hadn't seen this one before.  Great writeup.

 

I have to admit, the title led me in a different direction. I'm from Wisconsin, and somewhat a fan of folk music, so my mind went immediately to the Gordon Lightfoot song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," about an ore freighter that sank in Lake Superior, November 10th, 1975.  

 

 

 

Coincidentally, I had been inspired to create an adventure based on the story. 

 

In my version (not yet fleshed out) the players are looking for a job at a remote mining colony.  They stop in a cantina for some R&R (perhaps recovering strain from a previous encounter).  If they pay attention to the Duros singer on stage, rather than just shouting "bring on the dancing girls" (a more likely response) they hear the story of a bulk freighter, "Superior" that left orbit with a cargo of ore and never reached its destination.  The last transmissions describe the ship encountering a rare convergence of meteor showers propelled by solar winds (yes, bunk science, I know), suffering hull breaches and loss of propulsion.  Search ships were sent out, but after a long period with no contact, the realization that life support would have run out led the locals to call off the search.  

 

Local custom considers it irreverent to go looking for the ship for salvaging purposes.  Of course, this can lead to several adventure twists.  The likely one being that the players disregard the local superstition and go looking for the ship and its cargo.  A possible twist, for a more noble group, would be that at the same time, another company shows up obviously looking for the ship, and the PCs are drawn in to prevent the exploitation of a sacred monument.  

 

I'll throw in clues as to where the story comes from. Obviously the ship won't be named Edmund Fitzgerald.  Superior sounds like something a shipping company would name a ship, and is a clear reference to the Fitzgerald's last port of call, Superior, Wisconsin, and its final resting place, Lake Superior.  There will be a story related XP bonus for the first player to figure out where the plot is coming from. 

 

Now that Labor Day weekend is on here in Milwaukee, I am also having thoughts of a storyline involving Mobquet Swoop riders making a homecoming to Tapani.  

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OK, I hadn't seen this one before.  Great writeup.

 

I have to admit, the title led me in a different direction. I'm from Wisconsin, and somewhat a fan of folk music, so my mind went immediately to the Gordon Lightfoot song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," about an ore freighter that sank in Lake Superior, November 10th, 1975.  

 

 

 

Coincidentally, I had been inspired to create an adventure based on the story. 

 

In my version (not yet fleshed out) the players are looking for a job at a remote mining colony.  They stop in a cantina for some R&R (perhaps recovering strain from a previous encounter).  If they pay attention to the Duros singer on stage, rather than just shouting "bring on the dancing girls" (a more likely response) they hear the story of a bulk freighter, "Superior" that left orbit with a cargo of ore and never reached its destination.  The last transmissions describe the ship encountering a rare convergence of meteor showers propelled by solar winds (yes, bunk science, I know), suffering hull breaches and loss of propulsion.  Search ships were sent out, but after a long period with no contact, the realization that life support would have run out led the locals to call off the search.  

 

Local custom considers it irreverent to go looking for the ship for salvaging purposes.  Of course, this can lead to several adventure twists.  The likely one being that the players disregard the local superstition and go looking for the ship and its cargo.  A possible twist, for a more noble group, would be that at the same time, another company shows up obviously looking for the ship, and the PCs are drawn in to prevent the exploitation of a sacred monument.  

 

I'll throw in clues as to where the story comes from. Obviously the ship won't be named Edmund Fitzgerald.  Superior sounds like something a shipping company would name a ship, and is a clear reference to the Fitzgerald's last port of call, Superior, Wisconsin, and its final resting place, Lake Superior.  There will be a story related XP bonus for the first player to figure out where the plot is coming from. 

 

Now that Labor Day weekend is on here in Milwaukee, I am also having thoughts of a storyline involving Mobquet Swoop riders making a homecoming to Tapani.  

 

When I was in grade school in Michigan, we studied the Edmond Fitzgerald! Great story to steal ideas from!

 

-EF

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When I was in grade school in Michigan, we studied the Edmond Fitzgerald! Great story to steal ideas from!

 

-EF

 

And you have the same initials as the ship!  How cool is that!

 

One of my part-time jobs is in the Northwestern Mutual building in Downtown Milwaukee.  Edmund Fitzgerald, after whom the ship was named, was one of the past CEOs of the company.  His portrait hangs on the 8th floor, and there's a model of the ship in one of the board rooms.  So, yeah, I've been pretty exposed to the story myself.  

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This is awesome. A bit worried what my group of munchkins will do with that much potential wealth in their hands, but as you point out there are several ways of dealing with greedy players ;)

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My players took a few things, then called it in to put in the paperwork for salvage rights. Little do they know who they reported it to. Hint: were currently in between act one and two of Enemy of my Enemy...

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Sheesh - I hadn't thought about the Gordon Lightfoot song in decades - but yeah, I can totally see a version about the Edmund Fitzgerald. When you get all the details fleshed out, post it - I'd love to see what you came up with.

 

Glad to see the story is working out for you guys, too.

 

****edit***

So reading the Wiki entry on the Edmund Fitzgerald - yeah, there's plenty to work with. You could have the players chase down the Star Wars equilivant of the captain of the Arthur M. Anderson (the ship that last had contact with the Fitzgerald) for clues on what happened and where the wreck might be, They could get caught in a similar storm and find themselves up to their necks in trouble - they could be hired by relatives of the captain looking to clear his name of being responsible for the wreck (and what happens if they find out the captain was indeed negligent?).

 

Yeah, this has some potential!

Edited by Desslok

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I've been a dice slinger for about 20yrs, and a SW GM since d20 started. I always ask my players for questions, commentqs, and concerns after each session. Our true gamer veteran in the group said this made for a perfect sidebar from our regularly scheduled story! So kudos to author.

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Really good story. Though I'll sadly enough have to wait for a more noble group before I throw this in. I can think of several players who would jump on the opportunity of thrashing such a ship...

Anywho, if you have a non force group, then you could show them the past of the ship through computer modules and old, dying astromech and protocol droids with holo messages in order to relay the story. I'd also throw in that the Jedi was a long living race (perhaps a Wookie or such), but still a padawan, and was able to escape without prosecution. Having survived, they ask the players to fix the mend in the force, as they can't rest until those countless lives that they could have saved but didn't are put to peace. The Jedi is now maddened by all of those deaths, and blames them self for it (I say they because the exact gender is up to the specific GM). The Jedi often rambles about the event of the collision and seeing multiple children separated from their fathers and leaving so many to die on their own. The reason the Jedi didn't even stop the collision in the first place is due to a certain amount of Jedi Code breaking (alcohol was consumed, clubs were rocked, and good times were had).

Still, that's just my creative thinking. I'd also make moral attacks on the players if they desecrate the shop, even without the crazy Jedi to worry about.

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I really like the setting! even though it reminds me a lot of the campaign mission for Beyond the Rim. In a way I like the fact that there are no survivors, but the prize and the ship are really enticing. I am wondering what kind of conflict you could generate on the Republic to make things interesting, since I think the sense of wonder, abandonment, and discovery can't really be conveyed in an RPG. Not without maps and descriptions of hidden treasures anyway.

 

Wonder what this grand beauty looks like. Any ideas?

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Wonder what this grand beauty looks like. Any ideas?

 

I have no specific ideas, beyond - of course - the real world inspiration. So very opulent, lots of wood and brass everywhere, ornate viewports, thick lush carpeting - that sort of thing. As for actual layout of the ship, I might steal (and heavily modify) the actual deck plans of the Titanic. Sure you cant use the open air decks (although perhaps a fore viewing dome wouldn't be amiss), but generally the layout would be useful. I might double it in size, two A decks, two B decks and so on - just make this sucker massive.

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