Thursday, August 4, 2011

Adventure Conversion: Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone - Part 2 (of 2)

Here is the continuation/completion of my conversion of "Spacehunter"

Episode III: The Journey

The characters (likely with a 'native' guide), must brave the dangers of the wasteland and make their way into the Zone. Along the way, they encounter a rival would-be rescuer as well as dangerous mutant guardians.

Zoner airships fly over a blasted landscape to land inside a bunker-fortress-complex built into a cliffside. The survivors from the escape pod are ushered out of the vehicles and inside. There, they are studied by a deformed man in a ratty military uniform who comments on their beauty and 'purity'. Leeringly, he remarks that the Overdog will be quite pleased with them, quite pleased indeed.

The heroes set out into the wastes (most likely on the ground- and most likely with their native guide Nikki). The terrain is mostly rugged canyon country- a veritable maze, but one that Nikki (true to her word) seems to know. There are several dangers along the trail- in the form of rock slides and sudden wind-storms.

Due to the length of the journey (and dangers of the trail), the heroes are forced to camp for the night. They are ambushed that night by a rival group of would-be rescuers (of roughly the same size as the character's group). This group of spacers had responded to the distress call as well, only to be shot down while in space. They managed to escape, but their ship was destroyed. These spacers (led by a man named Hudson), aren't a completely rotten lot. They don't necessarily wish to KILL the heroes, just take them out of the hunt, steal their ship, strand them here and take the reward for themselves. Thus, they'll attempt to 'get the drop' on the characters and get them to surrender. Failing that, they will attack with weapons on stun. Hudson's band will resort to lethal force only in response to the same. Let the situation play out as it will.

If a fight breaks out, and the heroes win, any survivors among Hudson's group will attempt to negotiate for their lives. They'll first offer to help with the recovery of escape pod survivors in exchange for a ride off the planet. Failing that, they'll ask that the players leave them and at least send someone else back to pick them up. Failing THAT, they plead that the characters leave them with enough gear to defend themselves.

If the heroes surrender or are defeated, Hudson will graciously allow them to keep some of their weapons and gear (though none of their vehicles) and will promise to send help back for them once he's rescued the escape pod survivors. Depending on how the heroes handle the situation, Hudson may even offer to team up with the group for the final entrance into the zone. Heck, he may even promise to cut them in for a reward. A lot depends upon how the players react to all of this- especially since they hold a BIG card in the form of having the only known means to get off the planet. They also hold a card in the form of having Nikki as their guide.

If the players leave Hudson's group behind (or simply drives them off), they might still show up later...

If the groups decide to team up, play Hudson's people for a bit of comic relief and/or rivalry. They're money-grubbers and not particularly brave, but they are competent enough where they might be of use in the upcoming situations. They can also be used as 'fodder' for the monsters/dangers in the upcoming scenes.

The next day, the heroes (possibly with new 'partners') set off again, directed through another maze of canyons by their guide. Unless they take particularly extensive precautions (like abandoning their vehicles), the heroes approach will likely be sighted by Zoner airspeeders. This can lead to a firefight in the canyons, with airspeeders sweeping in and party vehicles racing over the canyon floors, avoiding and returning fire. This shouldn't be TOO big of an attack, as the Zoners are just patrolling.

Eventually, the heroes are forced to abandon their vehicles (assuming they have any) and head into a cave that Nikki assures them leads into the Zone. Unfortunately, the caves are inhabited by hideous, bloated mutant humanoids who suddenly emerge from pod-like growths in the walls. This would be a good spot for some dramatic deaths of some of Hudson's group (assuming they tagged along). The characters can either fight these hordes or run. Note that Nikki hadn't encountered these things in her previous trip

Either way (assuming they survive!), the heroes eventually reach the cave exit. From here, the party gets a look at the Zoner fortress, and see that it is actually the remains of a planetary military base, complete with anti orbital defenses as well as anti-fighter and other defensive weapons and shields. There are even a few airspeeder patrols roaming around the cliffs/canyons.

At this point, Nikki points out that she's never actually been INSIDE the base...

As with previous sections, a lot of this episode assumes that the players are using ground transportation. It is possible that particularly stubborn characters may try to fly their way into the Zone. As mentioned before, this should be akin to suicide due to the amount of firepower the zoners have at their disposal. Even if the characters take the 'low altitude' approach, they will have to wind their way through canyons to keep 'under the guns'- and will burn up even more power. And again, once they reach the final canyon barrier, they must decide whether to try and risk flying in or land and proceed through the cave passage. GMs may also wish to throw a wave (or two) of Zoner airspeeders at the heroes ship- which will be particularly vulnerable in the limited space of the canyons.

Ship-borne parties will avoid encountering Hudson's party altogether, though there is nothing to say that when the players land, their ship won't be found (and possibly captured) by the rival group of spacers.

It is also possible that the characters may have refused the assistance of Nikki. In this case, the characters are going to have to try and find their own way. Unless they are extremely lucky, it is doubtful they will find the secret 'cave entrance' into the Zone. This means they'll either have to try an aerial approach (suicide), drive/fly to and then try to climb over the cliffs surrounding the zone (dangerous) or try to storm one of the fortified guardposts blocking the ground entrances into the zone (also dangerous- and with the added possibility of raising the alarm in the main fortress). Characters who refuse Nikki's help and then get 'stuck' somehow might be given a second chance- the GM can rule that Nikki took it upon herself to follow the group (using another scav vehicle), and will show up once again with an offer of help.

Episode IV: The Overdog's Lair

The heroes finally reach the villains lair. They must figure out a way to get inside and then rescue their 'bounty' from the clutches of the evil cyborg known as the "Overdog". Of course, these kinds of plans are always fraught with peril, and things rarely go as expected...

The survivors from the escape pod, now dressed in 'suitable' slave attire, are ushered into a huge, machine-filled room. A large form descends from above, apparently supported on metallic 'tentacles'. This is revealed to be a hideous mutant-cyborg, covered with metallic armor and sporting four metal tentacles 'growing' from his back. He introduces himself menacingly as the "Overdog", explaining that it has been years since he enjoyed the company of ones as lovely as this- and that over the coming weeks, he will enjoy getting to know his new guests. Alas, he must first preside over the 'games' tonight. He goes on to say that he hopes the girls will enjoy the show- it will be one to remember.

The cave lets out at the base of the Overdog's fortress. Though Nikki has never been inside before, she had noticed that there was a possible way in- through an exhaust duct. Unfortunately, said duct is located high up in the cliff face. It would require a dangerous climb to reach and would also require some means of getting past the grate that blocks it. A quick survey of the area shows that the Fortress itself has guards patrolling its upper 'battlements'- and within the large airspeeder hangars built into the cliff-face. There is a ground level entrance, but its gate is thick and heavily guarded. There is, however, a fair amount of traffic passing through the gate. It appears that various groups of Zoners from around the valley are making their way into the Fortress. Seems as though there is some 'gathering' going on. The occasional airspeeder cruises overhead as well, some leaving on patrol, others returning. Every now and then, one of them will do a circuit of the fortress, shining their spotlights on its cliff walls to check for any infiltrators.

At this point, the heroes must decide how to get into the base. The methods of entry could include:

1) Taking Nikki's path. This would require some climbing skill rolls and perhaps some stealth checks along the way as guards from the battlements above patrol and look down. The grate itself is actually quite rusted, and could be wedged out the the way (with some strength). It could also be cut through by tools or lightsabers with relative ease. Once inside, the heroes have to make their way through some disgustingly slimy vent shafts that haven't seen real maintenance in years. There would be dangers along the way- perhaps a huge, stealthy snake-like beast that tries to pick off any stragglers in the party and drag them into a pipe. Perhaps there is a sudden incline on a particularly slippery shaft that threatens to drop players into one of the few still functioning vent fans. Once the heroes are finally out of the vents, the adventure can continue in the main fortress.

2) Trying to ambush a Zoner patrol, using their clothing/armor as a disguise to get past the guards at the main gate. The guards aren't particularly observant- as long as the players look like Zoners and don't draw too much attention to themselves. One of the guards might try to engage the party in conversation, perhaps requiring some type of con or other fast-talking to get past. They may even ask for a 'password'- which, of course, there isn't. The Zoners seem to be talking amongst themselves about the 'games' that night- evidently some kind of big event the Overdog puts on to keep them entertained. Once the heroes are finally past the gates, the adventure can continue in the main fortress.

3) Climbing up to one of the airspeeder hangars located in the cliff-walls of the fortress- or up to the 'battlements' on top. This would be a dangerous climb in and of itself, with the added problem of having to make several stealth checks along the way as guards check occasionally down the cliff face. Once the party reaches its destination, they will have to overcome the guards- which could result in an alarm being tripped. Thankfully, the comm-system in the base is in disrepair, meaning that a response might take a while. This could give the heroes time to disappear into the main fortress itself and continue their search.

4) Anything else the players might hatch. This could include a frontal assault on the base, either from the ground or the air. Such an assault would face heavy opposition- and any party foolish enough to do this should be held accountable for their actions. Heroes are heroes, yes, but even heroes should have the judgment to know when they are overmatched in a 'stand up' fight.

For her part, Nikki will be apprehensive about entering the fortress- having heard stories of the depredations that go on within. It is up to the heroes to decide whether to take her along or leave her to wait. Either decisions could have consequences later.

Once the party is into the main fortress itself, they have quite a few options. Likely, they'll just want to find their targets and escape with them. Ambitious parties may well want to destroy the base by sabotaging its generators. They might also wish to try and steal airspeeders to aide their escape. At this point, the GM is on his own as far as 'contingencies' go. This can be a very free-form part of the mission. There are, however, a few events and locations within the Fortress that can affect how things play out. These include:

1) The games. In a huge, central chamber of the fortress, a deadly maze has been set up, filled with death traps- spikes, flamethrowers, spinning blades, pits, etc. Through this gauntlet, prisoners of the Overdog are forced to run- with the promise of freedom given if they make it all the way through. They are 'urged along' through the maze by a huge, buzz-saw wielding droid that follows behind them at an slow but inexorable pace. This is dubbed "the Persuader".

Most of the Zoners are here, watching from the multiple gallery levels overlooking the 'game pit'. The Overdog is here as well, hanging like a spider from an array of machinery in his 'private box'. Though it is difficult to notice, his box is actually protected by a shield generator that can absorb most weapon-fire directed at him. Near the cyborg-tyrant, in a hanging cage (displayed for his own pleasure and the delight of his servants) are the escape pod survivors, looking terrified, but otherwise whole.

The games will already be in progress as the heroes arrive, with a hapless 'Scav' meeting a grisly fate within the maze. The next victim depends on several things. If the characters left Nikki behind, then the GM can rule that she was subsequently captured by the Zoners and taken here to run the gauntlet. Likewise, if the characters left Hudson or any of his people behind, they could now show up here as captives. Depending on the heroes, they might feel compelled to rescue these victims. If neither Nikki nor any of Hudson's people are at risk, substitute another sympathetic scav. Of course, anyone trying to rescue a person from the maze will likely have to confront "the Persuader". Nikki will prove to be quite adept during these scene, navigating the maze rather well, despite her fear. Even so, the Persuader remains a danger. The whole thing should serve as a dramatic background for whatever the characters are planning- perhaps urging them to hurry as Nikki (or whoever else is stuck in the maze) just BARELY overcomes its dangers.

Any attack during the 'games' will cause mass confusion amongst the zoners- especially if the attacks seem to be coming from 'some of their own'. This will likely touch off violence between the various 'sub-tribes' of the Zoners, who will then turn on each other- essentially creating chaos. Likewise any remaining prisoners (scavs or hudson's men) will use this as a chance to turn against their attackers.

The Overdog will respond to any direct attack by trying to snatch a 'hostage' and then flee via machinery ducts back to his sanctum. His first choice of a hostage would be Nikki- whom he can swoop down to snatch up from the Maze. His second choice would be any one of his new 'slave girls'.

2) The generator room. Reaching this is going to be difficult. It is located in the bowels of the fortress and stands at the end of a featureless hall, behind a massive blast-security door, guarded by a pair of Zoner robots (similar to the "Persuader" in the game chamber above). Even after the guards are subdued, getting through the door is problematic. It can resist most weapon damage and the security locks are very difficult to bypass. All this security is not without reason, though- as the Generator room is actually the lair of the Overdog himself. It is possible that the heroes may reach this room via another passage- following the Overdog through the machinery conduit from the game chamber above. There is only ONE security door blocking their way in this case- this one is less durable and has only a moderate security lock. Apart from the generator machinery, there are 'comforts' here for the the Overdog and his 'guests'- including several plush couches and a bed. Any characters hoping to find the Overdog's fabled 'treasure' will likely be disappointed. The technology here is the true treasure on an otherwise devastated world. He would have access to some modern medicine (medpacs and the like) as well as the cyborg parts necessary to keep him going. There may also be some rare wines and the like, but they wouldn't be a particularly lucrative treasure.

3) Airspeeder hangars. There are a dozen or so airspeeders in here at any given time, half of them the smaller patrol types and half the larger passenger types. There are also several guards present (about a half-dozen) and a like number of Zoner mechanics. As with others in the base, they are likely a bit distracted and lamenting the fact that they can't be at the games.

4) Battlements. Various walkways, towers and watchposts line the top of the cliff-top fortress. These are manned by reasonably alert guards, perhaps a dozen spread in groups of two throughout the area. Each group has access to an intercom at their main patrol station- and are thus able to alert the base 'command center' if there is a problem. Also located on the roof are the various sensor dishes and the defensive batteries of the fortress itself- these include Turbolasers, Anti-fighter battiers, a massive shield generator tower and a scattering of long range anti-vehicle and anti-personnel cannons covering the ground approaches to the fortress.

5) Command center. This is a bunker housed just below the 'battlements'- within the rock of the fortress and accessible only through a single, guarded choke-point manned by a half-dozen Zoners. It is typically manned by the Overdog's trusted lieutenant- a deformed former military officer. He is assisted by another half-dozen other Zoners responsible for directing the fire of the base's defensive batteries. Destroying this room means that the weapons would have to be manned directly in order to fire (at reduced accuracy).

6) Dungeons. Again, located deep within the fortress, these dank cells and passages would be empty and unguarded- with the prisoners having been taken up to the 'games' above for execution. One of the cells has apparently been recently cleaned up- and was evidently used to house the survivors of the escape pod crash.

7) Other areas. There are barracks, mess halls, an armory and storage bays within the fortress. The details of these are left to the GM, though the armory should contain little more than the crude barely maintained weapons the Zoners use. Most of these would be lightly populated during the player's entrance into the fortress- with everyone attending the games.

Eventually, the heroes are likely to have a show-down with the Overdog. The tyrant will flee to his sanctum at the first opportunity. Once there, he will attempt to hide amongst the machinery itself, his own mostly-metal body 'blending in' with the various pipes and ducts. He will also use any hostages taken as bait to lure the heroes into an ambush- dangling them over some danger like a pit of spikes or perhaps a sparking power electrode or some other nastiness. Anyone who goes to rescue them is liable to trigger a trap or be attacked by the Overdog himself, who may be hiding nearby.

Though quite physically durable, the Overdog knows that a stand-up fight against a group of well-armed attackers is likely not to go in his favor, so try to play him as intelligent and have him retreat to hiding when hard pressed. His metal tentacles allow him great mobility. He's able to climb walls, dangle from the ceiling, etc. He will use this to his advantage.

Once the Overdog is defeated, it is up to the characters to make their escape. Since the final showdown is likely to take place within the generator room, they could easily set the fortress to explode- or it could happen by accident during the fight. A spiteful and mortally wounded Overdog may even trigger a 'self destruct' when he thinks all is lost.

There is likely to be a good amount of chaos in the fortress following the Overdog's death- especially of the generator starts to overload and parts of the base begin to explode. This would be a perfect time to escape- and heroes shouldn't have too much trouble- as the Zoners will be more concerned with saving themselves than stopping anyone else.


It is possible that the characters may be captured by the Zoners at some point during the adventure. They may even try to gain entrance into the Fortress by allowing themselves to be taken. In either case, they would be searched, disarmed and taken directly to the 'game chamber' to await their chance to run the gauntlet. Their escape could take many forms- they could try and get through the gauntlet and earn their freedom (the Overdog won't grant it, however), or more likely, they could try to escape or overpower their guards. This would be difficult- but could be aided by NPCs. If Nikki or any of Hudson's men weren't with the group when they were captured, this would be a good time for them to swoop in with a diversion.

Some groups may adopt a 'wait and see' attitude about the games- allowing whoever is in the maze to either die or get through it on their own. They may then try to stealthily rescue the pod survivors at a later time. This plan has its own problems, though, as the girls are kept in a cage in full view of the entire arena. And when the games are over, the Overdog will take them back to his sanctum- thus providing him with SEVERAL hostages if the heroes seek him there. If left to her own devices, Nikki WILL make it through the maze, but she will subsequently be taken by the Overdog to join him in his chambers. Also, after the games, the other Zoners will return to their duties, and might very well begin to question any strangers within their midst...

Some heroes may try to formulate a plan to kill the Overdog while he watches the games- perhaps by sniping him from a distance. Due to the crowded nature of the area, this would be difficult to do- with the crowds of Zoners, odds are that the shot would be spoiled by jostling or someone might notice a hero lining up the shot. There is also the (previously mentioned) fact that the Overdog's private box has its own hidden shield generator- that should thwart most attacks. And as mentioned above, the Overdog will attempt to flee from any direct attack outside of his sanctum, preferring to lure heroes into a fight on his own terms.

Due to the open-nature of this last episode, there are quite a few different contingencies- too many to account for them all. GMs will have to be flexible to handle whatever plans the characters might come up with.

Episode V: Epilogue

Everyone escapes from the Overdog's Fortress and retreats to safe ground. Preparations are made to leave- though there may be a few wrinkles

Depending how the battle within the Fortress went, the characters could have a very easy or a difficult escape. If the Fortress was destroyed, then the Zoners will be scattered and fleeing- offering no fight to anyone. If the Fortress is somehow left intact, then there may be some semi-organizes zoner pursuit- either on foot or by vehicle.

Eventually, though, the heroes will make it back to their ship- hopefully with all of the pod survivors intact. It is possible at this point that if the characters left their ship in a vulnerable position that some of Hudson's people (assuming they didn't accompany the heroes and weren't encountered elsewhere) might have captured it. If so, there may be a bit of a stand-off with Hudson's folks trying to negotiate the most favorable (for them) deal possible.

The GM may also rule (again depending on how well hidden/defended) the ship was, that some Zoners or even some weird mutated beast may have found and boarded it- and may wait in ambush for the heroes return.

The pod survivors will be quite grateful and friendly to their rescuers, but are rather useless in any fight the characters might run into. Any particularly gallant rescuer might become the object of affection from one (or more?) of the girls.

There is also the matter of Nikki. Assuming the characters took her up on her deal, she will be expecting both a cut of the reward and a ride off planet. It is up to the characters whether or not they'll honor this bargain. There is also the question of what to do with Nikki once she is off world. She could join the party as an NPC 'sidekick' or simply be left to her own devices on some starport somewhere (though that's a rather harsh action). A 'nice' end to this might be that Nikki is taken in by the family of one of the pod survivors- and given the life of comfort and safety Nikki thinks she wants. Of course, someone as adventurous as that is bound to turn up somewhere else at some future time...

Once the women are safely returned 'home' (in this case to the nearest civilized star system), their manager will pay the reward and the players are free to do as they will. The manager may wish to 'hire' the characters for a while to do a publicity tour based on the daring rescue- its up to the heroes to determine what to do next...

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