The Wetherall Towers Murders
By Nick Barnes
Colour Designation: Grey
Minimum SCL: 9
Training Package Recommended: Investigation
Consolidated Pay: 2000c per Squad
Contact: Commander Cradle, Shiver Department
Coverage: 3rd EyE News
Summary: Squads or individual operatives required to investigate unusually high murder rate at Wetherall Tower, Sector Alpha B709, Southeastern Mort Uptown. Standard Shiver investigations have so far proven ineffectual and as this is an Operative housing block, Internal Affairs has given authorisation to classify this as a Grey BPN.
This is a combination BPN and Setting - the action immerses your players in the Wetherall Tower setting, which will help them to grasp what life is like for an Operative when they aren't on the job (the periods your players know as Down-time). Once the BPN is complete, Wetherall Tower can become a permanent landmark or even a recurring feature of your WoP.
I'm not a fan of prescriptive BPN's, scenario's and settings - so I try my hardest not to write them! I leave as much as possible in the hands of you as the GM for your own WoP. Everything here is just my suggested background and my suggestions for running this game - you can and should change as much as you feel you need to in order to tailor the game to your WoP.
The majority of the information you will need to run this game is given in the attached case file. This is for your eyes and for the eyes of your players. It represents the Shiver Department's report on the case and can be given to the players (slipped in a brown manila folder for added authenticity) as a handout. In-game, Commander Cradle will give the file to the characters during his briefing with them.
What's going on? (Read the case file first)
The Shiver Department has drawn almost a complete blank with regard to the massacre that Wetherall Tower is rapidly becoming. A harassed and short-tempered Commander Cradle has taken over personal supervision of the case but has been pulled up short by the powers that be - something about which he is not happy. Internal Affairs have seen the rapidly mounting death toll and decided to take a hand in the investigation. Wetherall Tower is an Operative housing block, Operatives are dying on a regular basis and there is a strong possibility that one or more Operatives are involved in the murders. They have insisted that the case is handed over to Operative Investigators but to save face, Cradle is insisting it was his idea to take the bold step of handing Shiver work over to the Ops.
Cradle's meeting with your player characters will be short and sharp with a demand that something be done quickly because Internal Affairs are watching! Emphasise to your players that the clock is ticking all the time. Answers are needed NOW and many more deaths will not be tolerated - this is one of those occasions on which you should be tough - if the players faff around have their squad pulled from the case and their knuckles rapped as time is of the essence.
After their meeting with Cradle, the Op's are on their own and have pretty much carte blanche for their investigation. You should also use this as an opportunity to make the most of your imagination. Wetherall Tower is a rich tapestry from which to weave your story and you can populate it with thousands of different characters should you so wish.
Let the players work but work them hard and fast. Throw different clues and leads at them because you can be certain in the knowledge that in the end it will not matter! Make up as many red herrings, blind alleys, false accusations and erroneous witness statements as you can and throw them all in the laps of your investigators. Everything they can possibly think of investigating should yield another piece of evidence but it should be evidence that doesn't fit the recognised MO or that points to another perpetrator. This is meant to be a bewildering investigation so dredge your inspiration and every possible source for a host of ideas - there is only one real clue!
Whenever your Operatives enter a Wetherall Tower apartment, be sure to tell them that the TV is on in the background - but be subtle about it at least to start with! You can get more and more obvious as time goes on - I had to when I ran this for my players. The truth is that everyone in Wetherall Tower is a potential murderer and the reason that the evidence collected points to so many different perpetrators is because there are a whole host of murderers living in the tower -it's just that none of them know it. Wetherall Tower is being subjected to a new form of DarkNight Terrorism. DN Insurgents have tampered with the communications array (but the job's been done well - so you'd need to be a TV engineer and take the array apart to spot it) on the roof of the building. Every TV broadcast in Wetherall Tower reaches the screen via the rooftop array, by which time an insidious DarkNight message has been woven into the broadcast. A subliminal message spreading fear and paranoia to the inhabitants is eating away at the heart of Wetherall Tower like a cancer.
Subliminal Messages (Far greater minds have written about the subject if you are interested - what follows is a simplistic overview for the benefit of the game)
This message is interspersed between the normal programme broadcast by the modifications that have been made to the array. In every three seconds of normal broadcast, a DarkNight message such as "SLA Industries is using you" or "Everyone in the building is against you" flashes on to the screen for a tiny fraction of a second. This message is only visible to the subconscious mind and with the constant reinforcement of that message, slowly takes hold until the viewer unwittingly begins to believe it. It is then that they take action, striking out at those around them who they now believe either want them dead or are spying on them on behalf of SLA. The intense paranoia then makes these individuals cover their tracks to ensure they are not caught. Their murderous paranoid instincts are only brought to the fore under the barrage of subliminal messages and the messages are stopped after each murder. By the time the investigators come to call, the subliminal messages (and therefore the effects) have long since stopped but as soon as the investigators leave the building; the campaign of terror begins again. This is why the Shivers were given such a run-around and that's why you should do your damnedest to keep your players on their toes.
The protagonists of this piece are everybody and nobody. For starters everyone in the tower is a potential threat to your player-characters but only if they are under the influences of the subliminal messages. The rest of the time they appear normal. The 'Great Evil' of the piece is of course DarkNight but this BPN emphasises how nebulous and phantasmal an effective terrorist organisation should be. Sure a DarkNight Operative was at the tower to modify the communications array but the modifications have been made and that Operative is long-gone - so with no one specific to fight, how do the players 'win'? That really is up to you - the only real way to finish the BPN is to destroy and then replace the communications array. If you prefer a fight, you can have one or more DarkNight Insurgents living in the tower, posing as Operatives and monitoring the effectiveness of the subliminal messaging. However, the modifications to the array can be fully automated and / or remote controlled either leaving no 'true' opposition or leaving it up to your squad to get a supplemental BPN to track the signals and eliminate what is obviously a nest of dangerous DarkNight scum. This BPN is designed to emphasise to players that not every evil in the world of progress is a 'real and tangible' horror that can be destroyed with melee weapons and firearms but you can add an element of guns and glory should you so wish. If on the other hand you prefer to go the other way and over-emphasise the personal horror aspect of SLA then why not have one of your player characters, a trusted friend or ally or even a lover live in Wetherall Tower. They can slowly come under the influence of the messages and you can heighten the paranoia to the point where even the squad members are accusing each other of murder if you so choose...
Oops I did it again...
Maybe you think I overlooked something. Maybe to you and your players the subliminal messaging angle is too obvious - hey, sorry. There are plenty of people out there who know about subliminal messaging and its advertising off-shoots and there are plenty of people who have read Dean Koontz's Night Chills or another work of fiction that centred around the subject. You may have one of those people in your group but even still, there's no reason to discard the setting out of hand. How about a poison being pumped into the water supply or a gas being dispersed by the ventilation shaft. Even then, as it says in the physical description, Wetherall Tower's roots are lost in the depth's beneath Mort's surface. In fact there are probably more levels to the tower below surface than there are above and these are all off-limits to your average Shiver. Maybe the inhabitants of the tower have come under the influence of something 'down there'...?
Tomorrow is another day
Stuck for campaign idea's - here's a bunch of them. Once the players have uncovered the DarkNight plot at Wetherall Tower, it's pretty obvious that they need to track down the group responsible for planting the subliminal messaging machinery and take them out of action. How many other sites around Mort have been compromised? In a society where TV is practically a religion this new campaign of terror has far-reaching implications and SLA will want to clamp down on it as quickly as possible. Even once the DarkNight ideas have panned out, you can still keep Wetherall Tower as a feature of your WoP and revisit it time and time again with a host of different stories. Hell, you could even make the tower your entire campaign setting with a bit more work; for example, nobody really knows what lies beneath...
Wetherall Tower - Mort Uptown
During the last six months, the death toll and fatality rate at Wetherall Tower has shown a sharp increase. Since September 901, the mortality level has increased from an entirely satisfactory 7.4 per calendar month to an unheard of 80.75 deaths in February. All the signs are there that this death toll will rise further still during March and it is clear to this Department that one or more psychopaths are on the prowl in Wetherall Tower.
The inability of investigators within this Department to isolate the criminals responsible for these murders is baffling. With every new murder, we find a different MO and clues that do not correlate with previous crimes. We believe that the perpetrator is exceedingly skilled at creating false trails. To date, I believe we have built up sufficient evidence to bring to trial or eliminate 97 different inhabitants for the crime of murder. We have so far chosen not to do so because we believe that such action might well constitute a miscarriage of justice. There is some doubt as to whether or not more than 97 people would independently decide to go on a killing spree within the same six-month period and it is my assertion that there must be some other explanation.
I have personally taken on responsibility for the successful conclusion of this case. Because of the Shiver Department's lack of success over the last six months, I have taken the unprecedented decision to contract the work of the Shivers out to SLA Operatives.
My departmental budget permits me to authorize a reward-payment of 2,000c to the successful squad. I also understand that because of the public interest in the case, Third Eye News are willing to negotiate an appropriate media bonus, dependant of course on the successful resolution of the case.
May the God's smile on your efforts.
Commander William Cradle
There have been 305 murders or unexplained deaths since September 1, 900sd. Until March 2, all 304 murders had taken place within the confines of the Wetherall Tower but during the most recent addition to the case, at 15.35pm on March 2, 901, the murder took place externally (details below).
- Of the 305 murders, 274 victims were male and 30 victims were female. One victim was asexual.
- Of the 305 murders, 249 victims were human, including 52 Frothers, 23 victims were Brain Wasters, eight victims were Ebons, three victims were Shaktarian, 21 victims were Wraith Raiders and one victim was a Stormer 313.
- Of the 305 murders, four victims were in the age range 0-10, 13 victims were in the age range 40+ and the remaining 288 victims were aged between 10 and 40. Of these 288 victims, 76 were in the age range 10-20, 101 were in the age range 20-30 and 111 were in the age range 30-40.
- Of the 249 human victims, 52 were Frothers, 81 were white Caucasian, 18 were Hispanic, five were oriental, 62 were black afro-Caribbean and 31 were of Asian descent.
To date, the Shiver Department has been unable to identify common links between the murders and the most recognizable MO has been used just 14 times. The individual, to whom all evidence points in those 14 cases, a Mr Sao Hoong Chion has been under surveillance for eight weeks. However, he has shown no sign of violence or guilt, lending further credence to the fact that the real murderer is skilled at deception and concealing the truth of his identity.
The most recent murder: March 2, 901 15:35pm. Location - Rooftop Aerodrome, Wetherall Tower, Mort Uptown. Victim - Dr Thierry Boothroyd, Visiting MD. White male Caucasian, age 53, 5' 6" tall, weight 180 lbs. Victim was shot at range through the frontal lobe with a small calibre, caseless bullet from a high powered rifle as he attempted to reach his personal helicopter. No other crime committed. Eyewitness: Pilot Judith Lantz, 31, reported to have not seen the perpetrator. Shiver Paramedics pronounced Dr Boothroyd dead at the scene and report Miss Lantz may be suffering from shock and psychological distress. Referral for psyche-analysis recommended. No forensic evidence found at the scene of the crime other than that specified above.
The standard methods of investigation employed by the Shiver Department have so far proven ineffectual in this case and radical methods must now be employed to find the links that have presumably so far been missed.
Where links do exist and have been proven by conventional methods, they link short sprees, of no more than 14 murders. This suggests a single, motivational force or perpetrator lies at the root of these crimes either orchestrating a band of numerous murderers or acting with sufficient guile to conceal his activities behind numerous facades.
Statistical analysis and forensic evidence have failed to provide concrete proof of a central perpetrator for these crimes. However, it is statistically and numerically improbable that so many different people would be driven to commit such gratuitous acts of murder in such a short space of time without external influence.
All possible courses of action must now be followed to prevent further escalation of crime and public panic.
Location: Wetherall Tower is situated in the heart of Southeastern Mort Uptown but within sight of the Downtown Wall. The area is largely residential with Habitat Towers forming the bulk of the environs. Gang activity, as ever, is rife in the Downtown area on the other side of the wall. Wetherall Tower falls within the boundaries of an infringement zone subject to regular penetration and looting during raids, over and past the wall, from the Kiestas turf on the other side.
Facilities: Built around 300 years ago, Wetherall Tower has continued to grow upward and outward along with the surface of the planet Mort. Its origins are lost beneath the planets artificial surface but the dimensions of the Wetherall Tower of today are as follows:
Wetherall Tower is divided into 700 (externally identical) residences of equal size. Each residence is essentially an 18x18x18 metre square cube designed to provide self-sufficient living quarters for four people. The maximum legal population of Wetherall Tower is therefore 2,800 souls. Current population stands at 2074 and has decreased by 305 in the last six months (Not all residences are currently habitable).
The 700 residences are built on 175 floors with four apartments accessible from each floor. The lobby level currently has a 100m2 floor-space and is 25m tall. It houses collective facilities such as shops and a clinic, as well as the offices of Integrated Maintenance Co-op (IMC - run by Jeff Hunter) and Wetherall Accommodation (Run by Sanjit Murahd).
Each individual floor has floor-space of 54m2 and a height of 18m. On top of Wetherall Tower, two aerodromes each offering facilities for two vtol craft and two cleaning cradle cranes are dwarfed by the central column's communications array. These external features add a further 75m to the height of Wetherall Tower.
Dimensions: Total height = 3,250mTotal floor-space = 9,604m2
Other information: Wetherall Tower is built around a central support column, which also carries the ventilation shafting, communications link-up and supplemental power (supplied by generators in the basement). Two elevators, one in the northwestern corner and one in the southeastern corner serve the tower from lobby to roof. The Northeastern and southwestern corners of the building contain support struts and maintenance shafts. Where the elevators rise to the roof, the main hydraulic and power mechanisms for both the elevators and the cleaning cradle cranes share the area. The cradles themselves each serve two sides of the building and tracks are laid for their freedom of movement. The other two corners of the roof each house a twin bay aerodrome served by two pads while the central column becomes an automated flight control tower and communications array supplying all satellite link-up to the whole building.