Attacking an isolated habitat and getting away scott free

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Decimator Decimator's picture
Attacking an isolated habitat and getting away scott free

I'm writing an adventure for my group, and I've hit a bit of a snag. I need a plausible methodology for a team to attack an isolated habitat, kill everyone onboard, retrieve a fragile titan artifact, and then get away without anyone else in the system noticing an attack occurred(they mustn't be tracked). My players will be exploring this habitat later, so I can't just handwave it.

Any ideas?

Edit for additional information: The habitat is quite small and only contains 30 or so people. Currently, its only purpose is research of the artifact. It is located in the far outer system. The attacking team has intimate knowledge of the interior and exterior of the habitat due to an insider. The habitat has various robots for harvesting resources from a nearby iceteroid.

Note that all of this can be changed to make it easier for the team to attack. The game has not started, so everything is mutable.

Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: Attacking an isolated habitat and getting away scott free

How big is the habitat, and how isolated? Frankly, I'm not sure a small group of people could kill off an entire habitat without just trying to destroy it outright.




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Decimator Decimator's picture
Re: Attacking an isolated habitat and getting away scott free

The habitat is quite small and only contains 30 or so people. Currently, its only purpose is research of the artifact. It is located in the far outer system. The attacking team has intimate knowledge of the interior and exterior of the habitat due to an insider. The habitat has various robots for harvesting resources from a nearby iceteroid.

Note that all of this can be changed to make it easier for the team to attack. The game has not started, so everything is mutable.

I updated the OP with this information.

Yerameyahu Yerameyahu's picture
Re: Attacking an isolated habitat and getting away scott free

Just 'disable the communications' first, and walk around wrecking people. They're EP characters, so presumably they're beastly.

CodeBreaker CodeBreaker's picture
Re: Attacking an isolated habitat and getting away scott free

Hand waive some solar activity that makes standard inter station communication impossible for a few hours? I am not sure on the science, but that is how I did one of my adventures when I needed a station out of the loop for a few hours.

"And remember citizens, tonight marks the zenith of the most powerful solar storms this side of the Fall. Expect Mesh connectivity to be lacking between UST 2:00 and 9:00. Hardwired communication systems will be unaffected, and will remain in service throughout the expected downtime. Please report any disturbances to security immediately, using the newly AR-highlighted access points."

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CodeBreaker CodeBreaker's picture
Re: Attacking an isolated habitat and getting away scott free

iPad double post.

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Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Attacking an isolated habitat and getting away scott free

First, communications must be suborned - no raising the alarm, no calls for help. That suggests attacking the communications systems - farcasters, antenna arrays, or the systems controlling them. Also, people with emergency farcasters (if any) must be identified beforehand and neutralized.

I would use an infiltration team, looking like a completely legit group of visitors. Ideally they are a standard group, like the belters who usually visit whenever the habitat is near or that gang of extropian merchants selling slightly pirated blueprints. Except that the real group might have been replaced with your infiltrators - ideally even taking their bodies and software. They enter, behave apparently normally, but quietly inserts sabotage nano, gremlin bots, and malware in the station AI systems. A bit of clever misdirection to get security to focus on something else - a crewmember apparently going crazy, a sudden brawl in a remote part of the habitat, a nasty micrometeorite impact (actually a projectile launched by the infiltrators beforehand).

At the right moment they strike. Main AIs and emergency system taken offline and/or suborned by hackers, malware and sabotage devices. At the same time the infiltrators unveil a hidden arsenal of nasty tech. I would go for nanoswarms over bioweapons, since on a space habitat most people would have emergency spacesuits. Although if you have a long incubation bioweapon most could become infected before the attack starts, and then a trigger chemical could be spread to get the designer disease to launch into its fulminant mode. With the control of station system in infiltrator hands they could be turned against the inhabitants, locking them in, spacing them, or killing them using bots or life support cut-offs. For direct anti-personnel attacks against security and militias, splash them with suitable nanotoxins or nerve agents, then mop up remaining concentrations of force by those reapers you had stowed in the visiting spaceship.

If you do things right there is no real chance of sending the alarm, and you now have control over the AI systems and plenty of cortical stacks to work with. Make gamma forks of key people, use them to pretend everything is fine for as long as possible. Leave quietly.

If you are worried about investigators tracing the attack, leave some suitable suicide option to the suborned AI so that it will start erasing all traces once it thinks the game is up. Nuclear or antimatter warheads are a bit extrovert. Deliberate overheating using the reactor and a wrecked cooling system looks more accidental. Disassembler or protean nanoswarms are a neat option but might look odd. For the real "bizarre AI accident" look you instead reprogram gardener nanoswarms to prune and compost all biomass and have the AI release self-replicating worms in the local mesh, slowly breaking it down into a mess of parasites and hyperparasites.

Extropian

Decimator Decimator's picture
Re: Attacking an isolated habitat and getting away scott free

Areanamontanus, that is perfect. Now I can spend some time building the hab.

Covariant Covariant's picture
Re: Attacking an isolated habitat and getting away scott free

For a hab with 30 people, I would send a fork to lurk long enough to build a personality profile for each of them, and a contact profile for anyone who regularly communicates with other habitats. After that is reasonably complete, jam all outgoing communications, intercept any incoming communications, and spoof any interaction with outside parties according to predictions made from the profiles. After you are done murdering everyone, have a medvat spit out clones running the profiles as egos. With luck and skill, people may simply never notice the swap. If you replace the artifact with something else, they can even wind down their research in disappointment, and go back home. Families of the victims might realize the pod people switch and restore them from backup, but by then you and all traces of your mission are long gone.

KevinWI KevinWI's picture
Re: Attacking an isolated habitat and getting away scott free

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
Frankly, I'm not sure a small group of people could kill off an entire habitat without just trying to destroy it outright.

"Take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."

jackgraham jackgraham's picture
Re: Attacking an isolated habitat and getting away scott free

You could also let them conveniently discover that a fresh team of researchers is scheduled to rotate in by egocast. (Gumshoe the aforementioned; if you leave it up to skill tests, you potentially have no scenario). Research on sanity-bending TITAN technology is mentally stressful, so it's possible the org sponsoring the research is rotating researchers in and out so that they have fresh minds available (and maybe the previous crew gets sent straight to psychosurgery). Let your PCs replace the real researchers (possibly with some help from friendly hackers if they don't have the skills themselves) and egocast in.

Once there, you've got a very different scenario than an infiltration/assault, but potentially much more rewarding. The team has to impersonate the researchers they're supposed to be (with the help of skillsofts to fill in the knowledge they don't have), but on the side, they'll be using the 3D printers while no one is looking to make the arms & other gear they'll need to mount a mutiny. They'll have to balance the danger of discovery vs. their level of preparedness for when they make their move. And they'll have to figure out how to escape when they're done.

This has the potential to be incredibly tense and exciting. If you don't write it, I will. :)

This way of doing it is hard if you have one of those groups that's terrified of egocasting, though.

J A C K   G R A H A M :: Hooray for Earth!
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Decimator Decimator's picture
Re: Attacking an isolated habitat and getting away scott free

Jack, you've actually misinterpreted the scenario. The PCs will be exploring the aftermath of someone else's attack. They'll have to figure out what happened here, who the attackers were, why they attacked, and what they took. It's a starting event, rather than an ending event.

We'll see if I can make the rest of the scenario as interesting as my background apparently is.

As for your idea, new mission book? :D

Quincey Forder Quincey Forder's picture
Re: Attacking an isolated habitat and getting away scott free

Someone's been playing Deus Ex Human Revolution, already!

I just could see all that happen with the 3D engine of the game and the gold/black palette.
... it looked awesome!

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Kyorou Kyorou's picture
Re: Attacking an isolated habitat and getting away scott free

Insertion of flesh-eating nanobots with a timer switch ? Neutron wave inside the habitat's rad shielding ?

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Attacking an isolated habitat and getting away scott free

Kyorou wrote:
Neutron wave inside the habitat's rad shielding ?

Ah, that is a good one! Maybe a nuclear isomer bomb: certain isotopes have nuclei that can remain in different energy states. Were they to move to a lower one, they would release the energy as gamma rays. One can imagine a weapon producing a "laser" effect where the isomer change in one atom triggers the next one, producing a massive gamma pulse. So the attackers bring a biggish chunk of tantalum 180m linked to a triggering apparatus, and then irradiate the whole habitat. The tantalum chunk will likely vaporize in a small explosion, but that's it - not even any residual radiation.

On the upside, this is probably perfect for wiping out nanomachines, much electronics and it is instant. On the downside, this is not instant kill: biomorphs can still live for up to an hour despite lethal radiation poisoning (they get the cerebral syndrome with rapidly worsening seizures, ataxia and lethargy). So blocking communications is still necessary. If it is strong enough to destroy synthmorphs too, it might be hard for the attackers to survive.

As per the infiltration story, that sounds like a good adventure idea! In a really old thread we discussed something similar for infiltrating a Jovian research lab; some intriguing possibilities not just for having to impersonate people but to get the PCs to (re)consider the morality of what they and their opposition are doing.

Extropian

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Re: Attacking an isolated habitat and getting away scott free

When we run the Glory scenario, my players took down the Song Kai Flower by simply using extreme stealth, placing explosives in the connection points, communication system and energy generator, and ended placing the surplus explosives in weak points of each module to vent the atmosphere, and detonated it. Of course, onboard there were just mindless crazy people, and security was quite lax, and it's a brute force approach, but it worked quite well.
Of course, my players were asking me about the reason behind trying to capture anything in that station instead of nuke it, since they already had a copy of the Myrmydon program (thanks to one of Locus' hackers involved in the original mission), but I managed to convince them that there might be more data inside the station.

After the sectioning and vacuuming of the station, it was all about cleaning the rest...

jackgraham jackgraham's picture
Re: Attacking an isolated habitat and getting away scott free

Oops. Heh, sorry.

On the up side, now I have my spring con scenario seed. :)

J A C K   G R A H A M :: Hooray for Earth!
  http://eclipsephase.com :: twitter @jackgraham @faketsr :: Google+Jack Graham

Quincey Forder Quincey Forder's picture
Re: Attacking an isolated habitat and getting away scott free

Personally, I've upped Glory some, and plan to play it after continuity and Bump In The Night (that's how Firewall notices the player, in the first place)
If you're players, don't open the spoilers part. GMs, go ahead.

Spoiler: Highlight to view
In Continuity, I'm introducing them to Gray Xu, as contact, and hopefully, a friend (making her betrayal in Mind the WMD all the more deep and hurtful).
In Glory, beside making the infected smarter, i'm playing the infection, indoctrination and take over of small habitats attacked by the White Kahn's. Think New Progress at the beginning of Mass Effect 2, and replace the Collectors by the WK, and you'll get an idea of what I have in mind. It'll take them some research and investigation before they can find the position of the Sonkai Flower.

Also, I'm making Mason Wang a criminal who double cross the character and Tara. He's also making a return during weapon auctions in MtWMD

Q U I N C E Y ^_*_^ F O R D E R

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Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Re: Attacking an isolated habitat and getting away scott free

Quincey, be mindful that you might be focusing a little too much the players' future adventures in that direction. I was a little against making the Glory infectees smarter because, well, I was using the adventure as a second step before aiming my players to mars or venus... at least until rimward gets published ^^.
Of course, my poor and innocent players didn't thought about being sure that the had not been any more infection in the greenhouse habitat... XD

Quincey Forder Quincey Forder's picture
Re: Attacking an isolated habitat and getting away scott free

Well, in my campaign, the Glory is hidden in the Fringe edge of the Belt, sunward side, aiming for one of the gas giant for the gravitic slingshot. They'll have to figure which first to determine where on the orbit the shit is hidden, based on its vector.

My players are quite sharp used to complex adventures. I have to pimp up the official adventures to give them a challenge.

I'm starting my campaign with Continuity for good reason: I'm adding amnesia to the list of their problems. They have no idea of what they're doing there, when they wake up, where they are...nor who they are. At some point of the adventure, they'll find out their names...but who can say if what they found is the truth. one of my main adversaries in the campaign is a member of the IDcrew, and I've interwoven his influence through out the adventures
and it'll give them a start when they find out

Q U I N C E Y ^_*_^ F O R D E R

Remember The Cant!

Tyrnis Tyrnis's picture
Re: Attacking an isolated habitat and getting away scott free

One thing to consider is that far out into space, whatever offensive the attack team uses, one major way of covering their tracks is to make it look like the exhumans are responsible for the attack. It's plausible, and it's likely to send anyone who follows to investigate in the entirely wrong direction (and as a nice bonus, the exhumans are very likely to try and kill/assimilate any investigative teams that follow the fake lead.)

UnitOmega UnitOmega's picture
Re: Attacking an isolated habitat and getting away scott free

Well, most of the best ideas have already been posted, but here are some general observations and ideas, for your consideration.

Making a modified ship for stealth (Or at least, more stealthy than normal) isn't out of the question, and depending on the situation and configuration a group could conceivably take one out to whatever point is outside of good active sensor range, park it, and crunch some numbers and spacewalk the rest of the way.

I'd combine this with use of a piece of tech from Panopticon, the Gray Box. Gray Boxes add wireless connections to devices lacking them (Like Airlocks) so if you have an infiltrator, he could easily slip a couple into say, a main control module, or a communications module, or the emergency controls for all the airlocks (or all of the above), then a hacker can park on the hull and override and lockout all these systems. From there the most it takes is a plasma torch and some shooting. The use of a Gray Box could also counter a QE system, by using it to turn off or lock out whatever interface that has before anyone knows there's an attack.

You're not even entirely boned if they have Emergency Farcasters, since those take QE backups at regular intervals, and it might be a while before their backups are received via Neutrinos if their that far outsystem. But, to be safe, if you've subsumed the security system, you could probably use some nanotech to either crack their stacks, or maybe even rupture the containment on the antimatter, which would cook the person alive.

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