A couple of days by the sea

By Sue Wilson

Colour Designation: Green
Minimum SCL: 9
Training Package Recommended: Pilot nav, medical, mechanic and death squad preferred.
Consolidated Pay: 600c per Operative
Contact: Dr Angelic Skeat, Dept of archaeology
Coverage: 3rd Eye News
Summary: Competent squad required for support and protection duties for a archaeological expedition off Mort. Wraith operatives advised to bring well-maintained cool suits. Bonus of 50c (total) per find recovered. Duration 10 days.

Other personel.

The department team consists of 3 Doctors, 6 assistants, 3 research students and a secretary (13 in all). Note the complete lack of 'practical' people in that list-that is why the BPN asked for a pilot nav, a medic and a mechanic. [The death squad is in case things get ‘hot’]

Dr Angelic Skeat - describe Lara Croft, you know you want to-we are talking attractive and good figure at max, and we are also looking at arrogant at max. Dr Skeat falls into the category of 'academically intimidating'. If a character has a Diag and Conc of less than 10 then she will not be in any way interested in their approaches, regardless of how beautiful they are-Slaops are stupid, after all if they were any good they would be working direct for sla wouldn’t they? Be condescending, treat every suggestion with utter contempt unless it is truly inspired. Her main area of expertise is conflict wars society. She is capable of interpreting an amazing about of detail about a society based on its rubbish. How much is right is open to debate, however few are willing to argue with her forceful attitude, and there is no one around to prove her wrong. Her assistants are Jason Noddy and Michelle Wood and her research student is Lewis Spence.

Noddy is a wimpy greasy spot spot of a youth. Very bright but prone to talking in jagon way above the understanding of any one with out archaeology 4. Talk technobollox.

Michelle is a little more in touch with the real world and will translate what he is saying from the squad. She is an enthusiastic researcher who wants to educate every one about the wonders of 'archaeological refuse studies'. She can talk for ours about the significance of semi petrified shaktar turds found on Ursa minor.

Spence is utterly infatuated with Dr Skeat-well wouldn’t you be-and is essentially her lap dog. She uses him to make coffee, clean the toilets and other very non archeological tasks. He is learning NOTHING as her student as he never gets to do anything interesting. However he is blissfully unaware of the dead end his scientific life has now reached. However he does know everything about Dr Skeat and can relate her whole movements should any one want to ask; a fact that may become very important later.

Dr J. Chan -one of those old short oriental dudes which normally are really dangerous with a high level in martial arts-he isn’t, but feel free to keep the squad on their toes with ‘gossip’ from others in the team. In fact he is a language expert, capable of translating anything given time and sufficient resources. He speaks and reads every SLA language fluently but is prone to muttering to himself in orienta when he is thinking. His assistants are Jean-Paul Reno and Henri Hubert, both new parisian and more comfortable in the native tongue than Killian.

Reno has a photographic memory and spends most of his time replicating texts from artifacts so that the details can be studied with out handling the original. He is a skilled artist capable or recreating anything he has seen with remarkable accuracy.

Hubert is a conservation specialist, skilled in preserving and repairing fragile materials. He also makes models out of matchsticks and is very good with fine manipulation stills. Warning- playing cards for money with this pair will get you poor quick.

His research student it Okino Okanwa-a rather frumby orientan lass with glasses and greay dark hair. Isolated by her poor grasp of New Parisian, she is very withdraw and shy. As such she rarely offers any information or ideas unless directly asked unless she is comfortable with the people around here. However she majored in planetary geography at the University of Orienta where she came top of her year-as such if you need any ‘weather hints’ to the players, and they are friendly towards her, this is the person to use. Of course if they intimidate her then they will get nothing ?

Dr Ken Smith. The departments theoretical technology expert. He knows every thing there is to know about ancient technology, give him even a fraction of a devise and he can work out what it was used for and how it was powered and all sorts of ‘useful’ stuff. He is getting on a bit now, being in his late 50s with a thick bush of grey hair, and he feels somewhat pushed out by Dr Skeats forceful nature and the change in direction of research in the department it has caused. The last few years have seen less and less funds heading towards his projects. His assistants are Parragon and Kelly Hawkins

Parragon, an ebon who is dedicated to Dr Smith and has been his assistant for 15 years. Smith treats him more as a partner than as an assistant. Often discussing concepts with him at great length. Parragon does not wear a deathsuit and as such has no useful ebb abilities.

Kelly is a drop out from Meny. He was doing KMS but got disillusioned with the whole slaop thing. Of all the team he is the most combat competent, which any one with a good evaluate opponents skill will be able to tell. Kelly obviously hates Dr Skeat. He avoids being near her whenever possible.

His research student is Bluestone, a young ebon in a death suit. Her father is a wealth executive in the department of the environment. He got her a ‘cushy’ job in archaeology because it was too risky letting her go to meny. She is a Sla-op wanna be, hates all this old stuff and will hang on the words of any operative willing to regale her with accounts of their adventures.

Davina King is the team secretary, It is very unusual for a secretary to go on an active dig, in fact this is the only time it has happened. Her skills are all bureaucracy and admin orientated, backed up by a very high Sla info. She knows all the financial and political machinations of the department.

Where are we going again?

The destination of the expedition is a small planet colloquially called Atolle, is virtually paradise. [Apart from the need for sun block to prevent sun burn in Morticians]. It has a 25hr day and circles the neighbouring sun one every 150 days (local). Its orbit is virtually circular and there is a negligible tilt of the planet so there are no significant seasons. The equator dotted with small archipelagos and islands, [perfect for quiet secluded vacations-see later], has a uniform temperature of around 23'C, a negligible rain fall and bright sun. (The sort of effect I am gong for here is Caribbean.)

The poles consist of two land masses, and it is here that the evaporated moisture from the sea falls back mostly as snow. [winter sports paradise for the future] Average temp is -5'C but in the sun it feels much warmer. The Planet has very little in the way of natural resources, other than the plentiful ocean life and idealic environment. There is no record of any indigenous sentient life form (or indeed anything more evolved than the plentiful fish)

The place is one fold easy from Mort. To navigators the planet 'smells' of salt and fish.. Anchovy(?) The fold ship and pilot will be staying in orbit and carrying out detailed mapping of the surface prior to department of recreation moving in to start building there holiday homes. Trip down the the surface is via an submersible capable dropship (pilot military) - this is why they asked for a pilot nav in the squad-if no one in the squad can fly it, give Kelly Hawkins pilot military at 2. The vehicle is the worst of all worlds trying to be a space ship and a submarine is not a good combination -1 penalty to any attempts to control it in difficult conditions.

The archaeologist have brought with them tents, survival gear, and lots of ‘stuff to the beach’ like scuba gear, inflatable boats, windsurfers and beach balls and such like [there usefulness in archaeology may not be immediately obvious ?. They have 'supplies' sufficient for every one (including the squad) for 2 weeks. Of course any guns, armour, ammo and stuff like that is the responsibility of the squad.

And why?

Dept of archaeology have been planning this trip for a couple of months, although there is potential for some interesting ‘finds’ on the planet, this is more of a skive. The department of recreation has ear marked this planet as a future 'entertainment' resource world for the rich. During an initial investigation a number of small items turned up which were labelled as 'conflict wars arifacts . Knowing full well they will never be able to afford a holiday on the planet when it goes ‘live’ the dept heads have decides to use these frankly dubious claims as an excuse to go and enjoy its delights whilst they can.

Davina King got her self added to the roster when she discovered the scam, and threatened to blow it wide open if they didn’t take them with her.

Obviously they need to make it look like your normal archaeological exploration so they need the standard squad as cover. If the squad have some good rep with dept of archaeology then it could be they could have got this BPN as a ‘ta, cos we know you can keep your mouth shut.’ If not they just got lucky'

Or Did they?

Ok you could just run a fun time on the beach, and if you have a squad that are happy to ‘down time’ that might be good in itself, however like my drama teacher used to say-all good stories need conflict' So lets give them some.

These people don’t exactly get on do they - Reading between the lines above it should be clear there is a certain amount of tension with in the department teams. In deed normally these teams would not work together. But they know they are not going to get to pull this trick again, so they are making do. Build upon this such that when the creatures start getting interested the first thought will be that the teams have started stealing stuff from each other as petty revenge.

They are not doing much work are they - If the squad are not in on the scam they may realise that there is not an amazing amount of archaeology going on here. Given their BPN made mention of ‘bonuses based on finds’ this may not go down so well. On the plus side there is nothing obviously dangerous to protect the team from (initially), and Michelle woods enthusiasm to ‘teach’ means that if the squad have any interest in archaeology this would be an excellent opportunity to learn. If they are going to earn any serious bonus they are going to have to ? The ‘lazyness’ of the team may irk to squad some what.

After a little initial exploration it will become clear that anything really interesting 'archeologically' is on or below the water line. Okino will quietly explain that this probably means that the water levels have shifted lots in the past, and vanish off to go diving and find more ‘evidence’. After a few days she will emerge form the water and start looking inland. A few days after that she will start looking worried. Basically she has spotted evidence of the planets storms. Unfortunately her supervisor Dr Chan, is not interested in such things as she does not feel able to approach any of the other Dr’s with her ideas. If the squad have been reasonable people to her she will bring her concerns to them.

As for actual archaeology if the squad start looking reward them with some rather strange carvings, all found on or below the water line. There is no sign of anything of ‘interest’ on land. If they don’t locate them Parragon will bring one back from a diving session, and pompt interest from Dr Skeet and Dr Chans teams as they argue over their significance.

Most are very old. The carvings all display 5-facet radial symmetry. [If the player doesn’t know what that means then neither does the character-and its just a pretty pattern]. They vary in size from as small as a little thump nail to as large as 6m diameter. The carving of them is integrally detailed and indicates some one with extremely good fine manipulation and sight and great skill of carving rock. Examination under the microscope reveals the rock has been broken off along fracture lines in the rocks crystal structure.

We are not alone here - The surveys didn’t find any ‘intelligent indigenous life-but lets face it, any intelligent life is unlikely to want to be found by SLA. Given the water based nature of the planet it is likely any intelligent life will be mostly aquatic, making it very easy for it to hide from SLA. The small size of the team, coupled with the approaching storm may redress the balance and bring them out of hiding. If the squad have been poking around those carvings and bringing them out of the water they will definitely show an interest.

After all how would we feel if Octopus started nicking stuff from the Tate Modern?

The creatures are as bright as humans, and thus capable of as much problem solving and devious behaviour you want. Remember they are also capable of extremely fine manipulation (lock picking mechanical is a synch). They do not last long out of water (30 min they show distress, an hour later they will be dead.) and are slow moving on land (move slither:1) Once in the water they move MUCH faster than any one can swim and can out manoeuvre people with ease. They have 5 long 'limbs' radiating from a central 'base'. The upper surface of the creatures have a chitinous armour (equivalent to Body Blocker) The lower surface is covered by numerous highly mobile tentacles ending suckers. They use this to move around, and also to direct any ‘food’ to a central ‘mouth’. Said ‘mouth’ also acts as a ‘pocket’ for carrying small items and ‘tools’. The suckers can attach and work in tandem to rip things apart. Pen 0 AD 5 Dam 5. (this is how they ‘carve’ the rock designs. Mouth is a sharp cerated structure and does Pen 4 AD2 Dam 5. They are light aware, but have no obvious eyes, and not effected by any 'dazzling' effects. [light just tells them how deep they are- they major sense is touch via those sensitive suckers] Think of something between Crab and Starfish between 1m and 2m in diameter.

They live in family groups of about a dozen in varying sizes (and thus assume ages). They have some complex method of communication which works if they are in the same body of water (pheromone based) and a more simplistic system for which they effectively need line of sight to use-but allows them to communicate whilst they are on land. [Basically what ever ‘disadvantage’ humans suffer in water these creature suffer on land.- whilst in the water they are supreme.] Initially they will ‘acquire’ items from the camp in ‘payment’ for the carvings taken form the sea. These items will be found in the location the carvings were removed from (hint 1) Should the squad catch any of the creatures, then the creatures will kidnap one of the archaeologist. In preference they will take some one from the water, where they have an advantage. Note-given how little these two species know about each other, drowning is more than possible, especially if they left the creature captured out of water for too long. [lets given any air tanks 90 mins to make it fair].

And if that is not bad enough' even the atmosphere fights back - Approximately every 10 years (+/-2years) , the planet is swept by violent storms that grown out of deep oceanic swells in the northern and southern oceans. In all cases the storms (which last about 4 days) destroyed almost every structure on the archipelagos, and often re write the map of the islands as bits are washed away. The only ‘safe’ areas at this time are the polar caps. However the rapid on set of the storms can make getting here very difficult. [chance to re do ‘perfect storm’ if you are feeling mean] The main puzzle is realising what the change in weather means. The storm should hit only after the team have been on planet long enough to get the idea that the place has climate rather than weather. Warning signs include increased wave activity, followed by building winds. Dark clouds on the horizon and rain. After this follow water spouts and tornadoes which will kill any one on the surface.

If the squad waits until it has started to rain before packing up and leaving they better have a very good pilot. The creatures know what the dark clouds mean, and will immediately retreat to the deep trenches, taking with them any prisoners or artefacts they have with them. Any rescue attempt is going to have to take place in very deep water-feel free to recall the bends-and with a storm that will destroy every thing on the surface. Also many of these creatures will gather together in these deep places to get away from the storm, and they will slowly rip way at the drop ship armour with those suckers. [assume the drop ship has an ID of 1000-so it will take a while.] Running away is probably a safer option.

The time line and events for this BPN are pretty free and easy. For the creatures to take an interest the archaeologists (or squad) have to have started removing the carvings. Given each carving is worth a bonus of about 50c to the squad and there are probably 10 per squad member down there that can be a sizeable addition to what ever they will see from this job. So its safe to assume they will 'collect.' Try to balance the value of the items the creatures take with this bonus, thus if they have pulled out loads of them feel free to have the creatures drag of a suit of power cell. They are not specifically after weaponry, but they do appreciate the tactile qualities of things (been a race that has a fine sense of touch) Bare this in mind when selecting items.

Most importantly. The creatures are INTELLIGENT, although they do have a sense of ‘family’ and will protect each other. Communication with them will be virtually impossible unless the player comes up with something REALLY inspired.