Adventure conversion - TNE Vampire Fleets

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GJD GJD's picture
Adventure conversion - TNE Vampire Fleets

I've always had a liking for the old GDW adventure Vampire Fleets for Traveller the New Era.

For those unfamiliar, TNE has a background of a huge interstellar empire that fell into civil war and eventually collapsed after the release of a self-aware homicidal/suicidal computer virus superweapon called... Virus. 70 years after the collapse humanity is starting to renegage with the universe in a few isolated pockets. Virus infected stations, computers, vehicles and starships are still a threat, and many bands of these ships, so called Vampires as they prey on other ships and infect them with Virus, are still a threat.

The players are agents of one of these small pockets and are tasked with contacting a human resistance on a planet dominated by Virus infected robots and computer systems (think half a dozen Skynet style dictators with human slaves). They are dispatched in a starship to go to the planet, but have to pass through several systems known to contain Vampire fleets.

On the way to the planet they are jumped by a vampire fleet and captured and placed as crew on a large Virus infected warship. The ship is a former imperial cruiser that has been infected by a strain of virus that is reasonably begnin towards it's human crew - who are essential for it's ongoing survival as it still needs skilled technicians and maintenance personelle to keep it running. Several robots have also been infected by Virus and exhibit different personalities depending on the strain of Virus that infected them. Some show curiosity towards the humans either in a horrifyingly clinical way or in the same way a master regards a pet. Some are simply apathetic and some show hostility, hatred and agression towards the humans.

In addition to the robots there are also several factions of humans on board. The Children of the Ship are the hereditary descendants of the original crew and exhibit stockholm syndrome towards the Virus, having been brought up on board. There are also captured crew from other ships, including a group of "neutral" traders, an antagonistic group opposed to the PC's home government and a group of agressive scavengers hiding in disused portions of the ship.

The Virus itself has also been "brain damaged" by an earlier attempt at a hostile take over by another agressive strain of Virus. In the struggle the original strain purposley burnt out and overloaded several core systems to thwart the invading Virus and in doing so damaged it's core processing power. It is now "absent minded" and paranoid and is forgetting how to do things as the corruption gets worse. It constantly mumbles and mutters over the ships PA and makes confusing, contradictory and arbitrary decisions. It's also forgetting how systems work - the example is the ships main weapon, a spinal particle accelerator, works fine, but the ship just can't remember how to fire it.

The ship itself is a large, heavily armed military vessel that has fallen into disrepair. large portions of it are not in general use and are barricaded off, because the systems in them were damaged and shut down and then abandoned after the agressive Virus attack. These areas are now home to the Hoodla, the agrssive scavengers. Other areas are dirty and poorly kept, cooking fires and sparking circuits leave a constant smell of burning and a smoky atmosphere that threatens to go toxic at any moment. Cabins and compartments are damaged and burnt out and all computer access panels are welded over or smashed and inoperable - the only access to the computer cores is restricted to trusted robots or via the command consoles on the bridge, which is strictly out of bounds.

The PC's objectives are to firstly figure out the dynamics of the ship, then work out a way to take down the Virus infected main computer and it's robot henchmen. They can do this a variety of ways, but the key elements are:

1. The free traders captured cargo includes a MIB uninfected computer core.
2. The hoodla have weapons that can damage the robots, but are hostile and antagonistic.
3. The Children of the ship will likely oppose any inssurection, but several are concerned about the erratic behaviour of the Virus, who they see as a "mother"
4. The ships systems are so jury rigged and bypassed that they will need the help of the Children of the Ship to work out how everything works.
5. The ship's increasing paranoia and erratic behaviour will get worse and worse.
6. The robots, whilst loyal to the Virus to an extent, are more concerned with self preservation.
7. There are still a fleet of other Vampire ships out there that they will need to escape from somehow.

So, how do I convert this to Eclipse phase.

Some elements are easy. The ship can be a military vessel infected by a Titan during the fall. The "firewalling" that led to the brain damage can be explained as the original ships AGI fighting back against the Titan, but losing and leaving the crippled ship behind for the Titan to infect.

I see a few problems, though. Firstly, the original scenario had 70 years for the Children of the Ship to grow up in it's closeted environment. Eclipse Phase only has 10 years since the Fall. Even if we say the ship was infected prior to the fall, we reasonably only have another 10 years - not long enough IMHO.

Secondly, how could a major wraship stay hidden for so long, and could it accumulate it's own "Vampire Fleet"?

Thirdly, the original ship had lots of robots onboard, and they seem to be less prelavent in EP. I'm thinking that the TITAN may have placed forks of itself into both the robots on the ship and any Synthmorphs onboard as well. I have a nice image of a synthmorph character being ambushed by TITAN forks looking for spare parts.


Rhyx Rhyx's picture
Re: Adventure conversion - TNE Vampire Fleets

I think one of the most awesome things about EP is that since the TITAN virus is not united in it's form, goals and function. Actually I have a pet theory that says that's actually the real reason for the fall, as if the TITANS were all trying to get a piece of the pie and might have even made war on one another. Which means their motivations are up for grabs.

So to come back to your idea:
1. Salvagers can come across all kinds of nasty TITAN stuff when they go reclaim things.
2. you could easily, in EP's case, replace the Hoodla with either a brinker station, scumborn or if you need more man power, the Ultimates faction.
3. A TITAN could easily have kept a few pet humans or downloaded egos it particularly liked from it's ego collection. Team that up with an ego bridge and psychosurgury and Voila! Loyal minons aplenty.
4. Hm that might work with a particularly damaged TITAN that has trouble with certain tasks since they were expunged from it's memory. It might actually keep humans especially for that purpose.
5. Sure! make it a recursive a memory leak, as time goes by it forgets more and more and so needs humans more and more but doesn't trust them fully so it Psychosurguries them more forcefully with each iteration. Even worst, it might use the humans as storage devices to make up for the fact that it's losing it's mind slowly (think TITAN Alzheimer's)
6. Again since the robots have been programmed while the TITAN was "healthier" they might understand it's eroding faculties and witnessing the TITAN's growing paranoia thus making the robot AI and AGI more worried about themselves.
7. Easily remedied, since EP doesn't have FTL (unless you count the gates) a ship that's gone MIA during the fall could easily have taken a really long ellipse and just now coming back to the monitorable system.

Robots can be just as prevalent in EP as you want them to be because there is very little written on the subject. In my game my techie has about 3 robots he owns. I think EP is a lot more automated than we give it credit for, especially if you count puppet socked pods and morph inthe list.

Well thank you just thinking about this gave me a great idea about a Flying Dutchman like Scum barge "ghost ship" wandering the lanes with a deteriorating TITAN inside that's losing a grip on it's robot and human inhabitants.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure conversion - TNE Vampire Fleets

It doesn't have to be a spaceship either - it could be a habitat. Imagine a belt habitat or a Mars cycler that has been declared dead in the Fall, but actually is now run by this frail TITAN. Occasionally scavengers arrive with new provisions and inhabitants; by now the habitat is starting to get a little collection of suborned spacecraft.


Dry Observer Dry Observer's picture
Re: Adventure conversion - TNE Vampire Fleets

Or the fleets could simply be the result of self-replicating machines out in the Oort Cloud and Kuiper Belt, assembling forces for various purposes including fighting each other and/or dealing with transhumans and assorted seed AI threats. I tend to assume that there's a lot of extremely dangerous stuff out there, making extraction operations potentially both highly profitable (given the extent of easily tapped resources) and highly dangerous (you just found a TITAN shipyard -- roll up new characters).

The original AI might have been a TITAN fork that simply extracted or ionized itself, leaving behind a set of AGI subroutines increasingly unable to cope without its direction -- a simple tactic if the TITAN in question was far more concerned about losing knowledge or even technology to an invader, rather than the ship itself.


GJD GJD's picture
Re: Adventure conversion - TNE Vampire Fleets

Good thoughts all. By "MIB computer core" I meant "Mint, In Box", i.e. unopened, brand new, fresh and, most importantly, uninfected computer core.

I love the idea of using humans as "external hard drives" to replace some of the damaged systems. I immediately see them being cornered by a scarred, grizzled old man, looking like he tore out his implants warning them not to reveal that they havetech that the ship could use for extra processing "...and whatever you do, don't let the docbot get a look at you. Fresh meat like you.... you'll be gone to the computing core in no time. People just don't come back from the computing core.". When they finally do make the move and head to the computing core they find a horror show of bodies on life support with the arms and legs amputated (just what HAVE you been eating?) to cut down on life support and data shunts hooked into the brainstem and optic nerves. Will rolls, please.

I also toyed with the idea that the ship keeps people in line with the threat of a bio plague. There is food about, in jury rigged fleshvats (ewww - a jury rigged fleshvat - that's gotta be gross) and protien tanks and even in fungus and vermin, but the ship can also provide processed foods. Work and you get fed. Eat the ship food and it staves off the plague. Eat from anywhere else and you die from the plague. One of the questions will be is the plague real or not... (the Hoodla steal food from the crew, so they must be scared of it)

The Hoodla I'm thinking will be a mix of all kinds, new arrivals who didn't get on - brinkers, triads, ultimates - anybody with a bad attitude and an aversion to being told what to do. I had a thought about the Children of the ship too, they could be a mix of the original crew and their teenage offspring. The original crew have all had forced psychosurgery over the years to make them compliant and subservient, and the children - all flats with no implants - don't know any different.

I also thought about the fleet being the AKV drones of the ship, infected by the agressive TITAN they couldn't fight it off with their limited processing power, but they can't leave the Ship since they don't have the resources to go anywhere, so now they exist in a kind of symbiotic relationship with the ship - it's scared of them as it knows that they still have the agressive TITAN code in there, but they can't just vape' it as it has the only fuel processor around, so they bring it nice ships and crews to eat and it gives them fuel and keeps them maintained.

I'm liking the habitat idea too.