A Grey BPN for SLA Industries by Brendan Sometimes
"What it is to be born a dead man."
To give the players the run-around. This is my attempt at a Blade-Runner-esque manhunt where the Ops are dragged into a deadly game of cat and mouse. It also forces those bloody Malice, Xeno, Chagrin & Vev' characters to role-play a bit, 'cause they never do in my games. It was also to give the players an out-of-BPN bit of a game as that's rarely touched upon in SLA for the most part.
The brief description is simple, the squad accidentally encounters a Karma escapee one night and Cloak force them to track down the rest. The morality of this twisted tale weights its clear deadliness. With a finale that demands attention as they are caught in a horrific bloodbath at Karma labs between Cloak and the Seraph, as these creatures are called. It also hints at a terrible foe to come in a later story.
Colour Designation: Grey (Internal)
Minimum SCL: 10
Training Package Recomended: Any
Consolidated Pay: 1600c per Squad
Contact: Cloak Division
Coverage: 3rd EyE News
Immediately apprehend or Exterminate Karma Subjects Seraph-600 E1 to E5. No Media contact is available; any none-sanctioned individual making contact with E1-E5 must also be exterminated. This BPN is considered failed after 48 hours of acceptance and failure will result in Operative retirement.
This adventure follows a different formula to most. It begins in a quiet night at the Pit, the player's Ops are off-duty and enjoying themselves for the night when one of them will stumble across a wounded Seraph. The creature will plead for its life before being annihilated by a Cloak team. Said Cloak team will drag the witness and squadmates to Cloak Division for interrogation.
Once the torment is over, they will be offered one chance to live; hunt down the other five Seraph and recover them alive or dead.
They will be given some basic information on their quarry and set loose with a 48-hour time limit.
Naturally, they have all been bugged and are being observed throughout the hunt. So the squad must follow the clues to the other 5 Seraph, this isn't going to be easy.
The Seraph are a new Karma creation, a new and very unique kind of Stormer. Dr. Willburgh Mulon conceived of the idea and got the go ahead for the project. Thus the 600-Seraph was born. Six initial test subjects were grown and were going through the examination process when they escaped. Karma immediately contacted Cloak and demanded action. Cloak picked up the trail and went after the six. Finally crippling one of them. The squad were unlucky enough to encounter this creature before it could be executed, but this gave Cloak an idea.
They had intended to take the remains back to Karma and have them re-animate the Sanguinary connection that telepathically connects the Seraph. Figuring the Seraph would return to save their wounded brethren. The operatives were a sudden inconvenience that had a use. If the Squad were tracking the other 5 Seraph around and trying to kill them, the creatures would think that they were still under Cloak assault. They would likely kill off the Ops and attempt their rescue thinking that the sixth had somehow survived and fled, Cloak would be waiting and finish the job.
No way never is, is it?
(By order of likely appearance)
The sixth of the 600-Seraph experiments. He'll have only a moment or two to speak but will seem like a scared and wounded child-like mind in his bioorganic body. Try to make him seem weak and prey on the players kindness (yeah, I know mine haven't got much either, but there's always one in the team whose kinda' nice.) Though he is a sympathy figure, don't make him utterly pathetic, the players just wont go for it. Up until the point of his death, he should seem strange and alien, quick thinking and determined to reach his comrades.
Grace is a Cloak employed Necanthrope who is part of a union sent to retake Uriel. His aggressive nature is what leads him to obliterate the Seraph with Ebb blast 13. This should also warn the players not to fuck with him. He really isn't one for conversation, seeing all other beings as pathetic inferiors and below his concern. Any attempt at conversation will lead to him terrorising the speaker away.
Use Necanthrope Operative Template from Karma, up the combat powers a bit if you like too.
The second Necanthrope Operative, Derraine is a more level-headed and realistic being than Grace but he his a very dim view of Karma, he requested this assignment just so that he could inflict pain on the pathetic worms that the Seraph are. He will be calm and courteous, if still threatening, to the Operatives.
Again use the Necanthrope Template, Derraine is more social and less combative however.
The last of the union is Vesati; a cold and silent figure who rarely acts at all. She is powerful and this shows through in her inactivity, when she does do something it is subtle and often missed by the inattentive, yet powerful or effective. She will not enter combat without careful planning and prefers non-violent solutions. This does not make her nice, when in battle, she's without mercy and utterly determined to destroy.
Karma stats again, perhaps upping all of them a point or two, up to you there.
Dr.Schmit is the Karma liaison, familiar with the Seraph project and with genuine concern for the creatures. Through him, the squad will learn what they are up against and grow to understand the way that the Seraph think (if they're smart enough to take the hints, anyway.)
The Hellers have no problem with the SLA Ops, it's just that they're a tad territorial, this gang is about a hundred strong, but only twenty two are about at the moment. Hellhound is the duke in charge of this current crew, he'll try to impress his boys and get 'em riled up into challenging the Ops. The Hellers are quick to retreat if they take losses though. They know nothing about the Seraph.
Considered by some to be the best contact that an Operative Shaktar could have, Grn'k L'kl'd is a dishonoured and once famed Shaktar Priest who is now paying penance for his sins. By uncovering subversive activity in Mort, SLA and Shaktar societies, he hopes that the Council of 8 will consider him worthy of honour once again. He has a very trustworthy appearance, in his 6'7" reptilian way. He is always seen begging in the same section of street in Lower Downtown sector 2. Shiver units pass him by, everyone nods to him and tosses him half a Uni or so, and he is always ready to discuss... anything that you may need to know, be it his thoughts on the outcome of the next race, through the way fashion is moving right up to where the best deals on music can be found.
For the Operative side of things, he takes little or no payment, only enough to keep him fed and clothed. Instead he will ask you for your trust, your friendship, your help and your belief. Every time, the Player must sign his little red book, full of the names of those who have pledged their assistance to him when it is needed. (Most Players will take this very lightly, and may even sign his book many times over. However, the time of need is coming soon, and then he will ask each of the names in his book to defend his honour in combat with one of the Council of 8's honour guard, as is the tradition. The more times the book has been signed, the more accomplished the honour guard they must fight.) In this adventure he will be able to point the players' squad to the right area of downtown to find the five.
Use Shaktar Operative traits from Karma, No weapons or armour though. (Yes, I have nicked this NPC from Sam Pay's ESP write up, but he is very cool, I hope Sam doesn't mind.)
Mikael & Other Seraph
The second of the Seraph is Mikael, given that the Seraph seem to share most of their higher mental abilities and personality when together, he should be used as a template for Lucifer, Rafael, Azrael & Useal. When encountered the first time, they fight well and are very protective of one another. They are not really open to dialogue as they assume the squad to be either Karma or Cloak agents sent to capture them.
Dr. Mulon is the creator of the Seraph and thus entirely aware of their capabilities, what he's told no one is that he could stop them with a thought if he so wanted. Each of them has a horrible de-constructive enzyme poison implant in their body, by radio transmission Mulon could kill them all. This should give you some idea of the man's personality. He's a cold and heartless man who wants to come out on top, ruthlessly using anyone to get there.
Independent of his brethren, Lucifer proves himself to be quite a lot more deadly. His enmity for the killers of his family is rivalled purely by his savagery in combat. He is not beyond compassion, however and this sets the tense and dramatic moments of the final scene in motion. He should be seen as highly intelligent, cunning and deeply hurt by his 'parents', nothing could be more dangerous.
Use the Seraph traits below, consider him to have the maximum in all statistics and skills.
The 600 Seraph is not a Stormer variant available to players, they are a limited experiment creation that is unlikely to be continued after the 'flaws' in their program come to light. Little is known of the creation process, only that they are an unusual variation on the Vevaphon, superior, supposedly and with the potential as incredible WarWorld soldiers.
Strength 5-12 (10) Dexterity 5-12 (10) Diagnosis 5-10 (8) Concentration 5-10 (8) Cool 5-12 (10) Physique 5-12 (10) Knowledge 5-10 (8) Hit Points 10-24 (20) Height 185cms. Weight 80kgs. Movement Capacity Walk 2 Full 30+Str/2 Run 4 Half x3 Sprint 6 None x5
The Seraph were designed to be as combat efficient as possible, to this end they are fully skilled by subliminal programming before birth. Additionally they share a close psionic link. This little understood factor is called the sanguinary effect; it allows all the Seraph in the group to know one another's whereabouts, emotional state and health. It also drives them to protect one another as they are all bound by it.
The greatest advancement involved in the Sanguinary is the fact that all of the Seraph share a hive-mind database of skill and programmed training from it. Thus they are all able to do everything the others know. This also has lead to a very unusual side effect; when one of the Seraph dies, the others all permanently gain his knowledges as the link is permanently severed. The skills of Seraph increase by 1 point per brother that dies.
Taking note from the Vevaphon, the Seraph are a reworking of its DNA and RNA structure. Though its complex cell-morphing ability was deemed inappropriate for the 600, they can temporarily disperse their molecules, allowing them to flow through walls that are not entirely airtight or avoid gunfire completely. This gives them a base moulding ability too, meaning they can briefly alter their outer body, and crafting weapons for a second or two before the limb reverts to normal.
Gain 1 point to all skills when each Seraph brother dies. This effect is permanent. The Seraph is aware of the activities of his brothers at all times.
May shift through material objects, even walls, provided they are not airtight. This makes the Seraph immune to all physical attacks, including most Ebb attacks, thermal effects and blast do no damage. Senses and Gore Cannon do full effect; no other Ebb ability can harm the Seraph. This ability requires a CON roll at a cumulative -1 per phase of continued use. The Seraph cannot Disperse for another 30 seconds as the molecular cohesion is under great stresses when this ability is used.
May generate a blade, whip or hammer weapon from body extremity. This weapon can have a maximum PV of 10, DAM 10 and AD of 5 each. For each point that all three traits have, the Seraph must use as a penalty to the CON roll required to keep the weapon for more than a phase. The Seraph may not create another weapon for a further two phases.
Additionally, all Seraph regenerate as Stormers.
Unarmed Combat 6(11) Club 1-H 6(11) Blade 1-H 6(11) Flexible Weapons 6(11) Gymnastics 6(11) Climbing 4(9) Sneaking 5(10) Hiding 4(9) Wrestling 6(11) Running 5(10) Tactics 4(9) Detect 5(10) *Numbers in brackets refer to Lucifer at the adventures end.
A night at the Pit:
"The clash of glasses amidst the haze of stale and sweaty air, the Pit is in full swing and as the music shakes the foundations hundreds of operatives kick back and enjoy themselves. The terror that is the world of progress seems far, far away from this relaxed and friendly heart of operative culture."
The players are all at the Pit on this Wednesday night. Even if they don't normally attend, they are here now. Perhaps they are celebrating a successful job well done, or making plans for the next one. Regardless, have them enjoy themselves a while. Keep it up till it starts to get dull, then have one of the Ops need the toilet.
Some suggested encounters in the Pit
- "Fancy a game?" A large collection of Ops are gambling on the outcome of tonight's GOREzone, and invite anyone with Uni's to join. The stakes are high, 1,000 Uni's minimum and the Ops have a few big names to choose from. Delia the Destroyer, Deity and Cemetery are all in DT-666 on the "Devil run 900." The bid is who first for 10 kills or who for the most in total. Odds are 2-1 for Delia, 3-2 for Deity and 3-1 on Cemetery. Surprisingly enough, Cemetery comes up top and anyone who bets on her is in for 500c for nothing.
- "Brawl." The Pit is usually calm enough, yet somehow a squad member has got himself into a scrape with a rival Op. Use any Minor Enemy (Operative) Disadvantage if you've got one. It'll get broken up pretty quickly, but could plant the seeds for vengeance in the mind of one or both characters.
- "Seduction." Operatives who drink too much lose common sense very quickly; they might even end up having a quickie in a dark corner. What becomes of this is up to you, but it will allow some out of BPN role-playing.
Regardless, when you're done here, move on. Emerging from the toilet, the Op in question is confronted by an emergency door wide open, pissing rain all over them and the naked corpse-like form of Uriel.
"The thundering storm blasts in past the rusty, swinging doors. A huddled and shivering form, bare-white and naked lies before you. He glances up weakly and you see his face is far from human, blood oozes from empty black eyes as he clutches weakly at your ankles."
Uriel has been separated from his brethren in a skirmish with Cloak and his wounds have all but crippled him. He will weakly ask for aid, trying to convince the caring, sharing Op that he's a good guy when Derraine will blow his back apart. Describe his last, painful moments as his body tries to knit his shattered form together again and the Cloak union descend the outside stairs to his form. They all but ignore the Operative until certain that Uriel has gone to the next life.
The Necanthropes will demand Operative ID; they will use excessive force if the Ops give them any shit at all. I don't think players can ever be scared enough of Necanthropes so play it up, I did. Once done they drag the whole squad together, then escort them to a Cloak facility and place them in a small grey room and tell them to wait.
What happens here depends very much on your time limit for the game and your cruelty as a GM. I personally show no mercy and have the squad interrogated and tortured for an hour or so, every moment of their past dredged up and every anti-SLA thought scrutinised. These are a pack of sick mothers and I like to let 'em rip. Besides, a player Op squad always needs taking down a peg or two.
While the Necanthropes hover menacingly in the background, a small and young doctor will enter and quickly rifle through a few notes on a pad. Nervously smile at the Ops and begin.
"Well, hi, I'm Dr. Schmit and you are?" (Let them respond)
"You have been given this BPN (hand it over) to assist us ok? (He glances to the Op. that saw Uriel alive.) You met Uriel already; he is part of the Seraph experimental batch that escaped earlier today. We have employed Cloak to recapture the remaining five and now we are bringing you in too."
"Er, the Seraph are a new creation by one of our best doctors, absolute miracles they are."
"They are designed to work in a group, sharing a hive-mind called the 'sanguinary effect'. They are adaptive and intelligent beyond that of other Stormers."
"Their physical traits comprise a highly destabilised molecular form. They can disperse and alter their bodies briefly for escape or attack."
Schmit will be helpful if a little vague as to the details of the Seraph, have him purposefully leave out a few points. Half through his concern for the creatures and half from forgetfulness. He should be amicable enough to the Ops unless threatened or insulted, at which point he just ups and leaves.
So, with 48 hours to find and destroy the Seraph, the Ops are let loose on the streets. They don't have a lot to go on. I'd have them rely on their own contacts and Shiver aid personally. But if you insist on throwing them a bone (or if they're just too dumb and you feel the need to help them) then; either use streetwise contacts of your own (Most GM's have at least one, I know) or utilise Grn'k L'kl'd.
The investigation is an open ended section of the BPN that will be easily expanded or contracted as you see fit. I leave the details to you. I'd recommend the facing off against the Hellers for some mid-way action, I know my crew get a bit antsy if they have to root for information for two hours of game without some arse kicking.
When the Ops finally locate the Seraph, create a battle environment that works against the squad. I recommend either a half-submerged warehouse (a personal favourite that my players have come to dread) or perhaps a high standing, half-constructed building block. Whatever you choose, play the Seraph as well-co-ordinated and efficient soldiers. Emphasise the uniqueness of their design and give the Ops a run for their money. Let no more than two Seraph die before escaping into the unknown depths of Downtown once more.
Settling the Score:
The Ops will have to inform the Cloak team of their failure, or at best, try to play up their success of taking out one or two Seraph. The Cloak agents won't care, of course. They well prepare for the Seraph to arrive at the Karma lab where Mulon has reactivated the Sanguinary on Uriels' corpse. They will order the Ops to return to the facility a.s.a.p.
"The Karma labs rest uneasily in ashen grey foundations, ghostly and empty without the hint of life. Within the barren confines of Suburban rain, it stands alone and foreboding, hinting at the tragedy to come..."
The Karma labs have been emptied from all but Mulon and the Cloak team. The union expects the team to draw the Seraph out, reckoning on a revenge-driven attack by the Stormers any time now. The Ops will find the small plant to be empty and will get no response from anyone they try to contact.
Set this up however you want. I suggest a rooftop battle or within the Genesis chambers with lots of dangerous chemicals and such, this is going to be a big ending and can't really be overplayed (remember your budget is infinite.)
So it happens. The Seraph leap in as a unit. Have their first assault a real shock and threat to the squad, cripple or even kill a few in a perfectly executed strike. (The Seraph are smarter and more skilled now, besides you want the Ops to see the battle between the Cloak team and Lucifer.)
Destroy shit, blow sections of buildings up, any explosive rounds are going to be trouble in this place. Gas canisters, Chemical containers, Fluid tubes, Power cables and acid can all be used to turn this battle around in a hundred twists and turns. The Cloak team will take on the Seraph and probably begin to lose very quickly.
Ace up the Sleeve:
Mulon, of course holds the winning card here though. He can activate the trigger releases within all the Seraph and kill them in one fell swoop. He wanted them alive but not at the risk of his own life. Have him stagger into the Ops during the confusion and do one of two things. Either ask the Op nearest to brave a particularly treacherous area of the labs to get the detonator (if you think the player won't do it) or be crushed by falling girders and have the detonator still in his cold dead hand for an Op to use...
This scene should be pre-considered by you as GM, use your knowledge of the players and characters involved. Killing the Seraph should be a moral point and have an effect on them. How you've played these creatures up until now will determine this. Amidst utter devastation, the Op will face the choice. Will he or won't he?
I would have it all come crashing down on the regardless. The building shakes and splinters crashing down on the squad and the remaining combatants. As the flames creep higher and the toxic fumes fill the air, one Operative should be lost within the depths of the complex, unreachable by his companions. I wouldn't make it the one who choose to detonate the Seraph, let someone else have the final scene, any Stormer variant will do fine.
Crushed under immovable debris, the character will surely die, make sure they cannot escape alone and cannot be reached by their companions.
Lucifer will be able to reach them. Lucifer alone has survived this all, charred and bloody, he stands above the trapped player and reaches to crush his skull... Then pulls the debris away, freeing the Operative without a word and runs into the smoky night.
This last moment will be tough to play out, and will depend ultimately upon you playing style. It should be a disorientating event, one that has the player involved think a little.