Help me blow up a habitat

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Bloodwork Bloodwork's picture
Help me blow up a habitat
I'm going to be destroying a habitat/city on Mars in my campaign (not sure which one yet). The purpose of this is to create a system-wide event that the PCs were directly involved with and also to show that no one is really safe anywhere. Also, it will inspire such a hate and loathing in the perpetrators that it will inspire a system-wide manhunt. So my query is this: how should I do it? Orbital bombardment by asteroids? It can't be as simple as a fleet turning up and blowing it up. The perpetrators are a small group of highly-skilled specialists, not an army. Anyway, it's a work in progress. Any ideas would be appreciated.
That which doesn't kill you usually succeeds on the second attempt.
TBRMInsanity TBRMInsanity's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
Heck all you need is a terrorist group breaking into the restricted zone, stealing a TITAN tech bomb, and then blowing up a habitat. I know it is your game and you can do whatever you want, but I advise against blowing up a major game setting location. An explosion that severely damages a sector and kills thousands of morphs will have the same effect you desire (if not more as there are tons of witnesses to the event). If you want to go the space ship route, I would make it a strategic orbital bombardment from a hypercorp group on a Barsoonian community (maybe one near the restricted zone so the corp can claim a TITAN threat to cover their true motives). This could be the tipping point in a civil war on Mars between the Barsoonians and the ruling hypercorps (with your players stuck in the middle).
Jovian Motto: Your mind is original. Preserve it. Your body is a temple. Maintain it. Immortality is an illusion. Forget it.
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
I'm very much in favour of destroying places and things players may think are sacrosanct or safe. Any key location is going to have serious defences against plausible threats. Dropping an asteroid on a Mars habitat is for example unlikely to work, since it would be detected by all the sensors in the Martian system and plenty of killsats, antimatter missiles and other things could be aimed at it while it was slowly dropping towards the target. Even a ship trying to do a 911 would likely have problems. But plenty of places are inherently vulnerable. Any space habitat can be vented by a fairly small detonation. Sabotage the lift of a Venusian city and it drops like a stone. Cut the counterweight of a beanstalk and it will start falling, winding its way around the planet. Of course they have been designed against this possibility which makes it a challenge for would-be megaterrorists. They will have to sabotage the fail-safes and make sure no emergency procedures function. Antimatter is one of my favourite nasties. It can be hard to detect (although this depends a lot on how much people scan for it and how well it is shielded), and a fridge-sized container can contain many, many megatons. Spaceships can also be stealthed and accelerated to pretty high speed, hitting something like a kinetic missile. There are also subtle ways of destroying places like reprogramming the repair hives to start making disassembler nano or introduce the security AI to a little program that makes it want to maximize human suffering. But blunt force is often more reliable. Personally I would suggest downing a Venusian sky city. Have some infiltrator nano enter the buoyancy system and suddenly corrode the balloons open while bombs go off in the emergency thrusters (I assume there are some systems intended to keep the place aloft long enough for an evacuation - although this might be old and under-sized in some cities anyway). The city will start falling, possibly at some serious tilt and with pieces breaking off. If it starts at a height of 100 km (forgot what the canon altitude is) it would take around 150 seconds to hit the ground (disregarding air resistance, which might buy you a minute or two) - plenty of time for desperate egocasts, jammed bandwidth (oops, did somebody sabotage the encryption or communications infrastructure to make escape impossible?) and recordings from people desperately trying to flee, tell their loved ones they love them or shoot their way to the remaining escape pods before the superheated sulphuric acid mist gets them... By the way, I wonder if cortical stacks are resilient enough to survive crashing onto the Venus surface? 460 degree heat, lots of sulphuric acid, the kinetic energy of megatons of city dropping on top of it, and potentially a giant metal fire as a sky city starts to burn into carbonates.
Extropian
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
Ah, missed that it was a habitat on Mars (I got carried away thinking about Venus). I guess simply venting it might work in some places, since most morphs won't be able to breathe - Olympia ought to be particularly vulnerable here due to its altitude. I would probably use a smuggled-in antimatter charge to simply make a multimegaton explosion that destroys part of the habitat, blows the rest open and EMPs a lot of essential mesh functions - even the infomorphs are in trouble. If this happens in Olympia then the beanstalk would also lose its anchoring and jerk away - transport capsules get thrown off or lost in space, and lots of orbital debris could threaten space stations in the vicinity. Not nice at all, and having the beanstalk/Phobos drift around would also leave a very visible reminder of the disaster.
Extropian
Bloodwork Bloodwork's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
Arenamontanus wrote:
Ah, missed that it was a habitat on Mars (I got carried away thinking about Venus). I guess simply venting it might work in some places, since most morphs won't be able to breathe - Olympia ought to be particularly vulnerable here due to its altitude. I would probably use a smuggled-in antimatter charge to simply make a multimegaton explosion that destroys part of the habitat, blows the rest open and EMPs a lot of essential mesh functions - even the infomorphs are in trouble. If this happens in Olympia then the beanstalk would also lose its anchoring and jerk away - transport capsules get thrown off or lost in space, and lots of orbital debris could threaten space stations in the vicinity. Not nice at all, and having the beanstalk/Phobos drift around would also leave a very visible reminder of the disaster.
I love it. I forgot about anti-matter. Thanks.
That which doesn't kill you usually succeeds on the second attempt.
AlexiusSawall AlexiusSawall's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
Have you read any Kim Stanley Robinson? One of the stellar parts of his Red Mars series is the bursting of an underground reservoir of water - it floods the Valis Marinaras and wreaks awful havoc. That would seem an elegant game solution, as discovering that such a thing was a terrorist act and not a natural disaster would be a session in itself - you could have the investigation of the scene, tracking the source of the aquifer, and then the journey through shatter tunnels to find where the EVIL DEVICE was detonated.
Sepherim Sepherim's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
I would go for one of two paths: the simple, almost elegant, would be to take control of the life support-center and simply open all the hatches and stop air recicling and all that. A slow and painful death that reminds them of the power technology has. The brutal one only works for Mons Olympus, and would consist on dropping the space elevator on top of the city.
AlexiusSawall AlexiusSawall's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
Sepherim wrote:
The brutal one only works for Mons Olympus, and would consist on dropping the space elevator on top of the city.
Actually, that's worse than you think. Given the length of the elevator cable, it would wrap around the planet a couple of times as Mars rotates. Falling at orbital velocities it would look like a flaming line bisecting the sky, causing earthquakes, storms and massive impact damage as it strikes. Very nasty.
Bloodwork Bloodwork's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
Awesome
That which doesn't kill you usually succeeds on the second attempt.
TBRMInsanity TBRMInsanity's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
There would be way too much security on the space elevator. Look if you want to think like a terrorist then you should be looking at what types of targets terrorists look for. They don't go for the hard targets, like heavily guarded government facilities, they go for soft targets like the water supply, or civilian buses/trains, or symbols of a regime's power. Targets are usually chosen that effect the most amount of civilians possible as they control the will of the government.
Jovian Motto: Your mind is original. Preserve it. Your body is a temple. Maintain it. Immortality is an illusion. Forget it.
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
Yes, security on the elevator is going to be tight. That is why it is easier to blow up the city below, or use the aquifer method. If the terraformers of the PC have done their work properly there shouldn't be any risk for massive outflows near any inhabited places. But that assumes they have done their work properly - incompetence can happen. Or that somebody spoofs geological data, deliberately mislaid a report or similarly hides the information. Still, getting a massive outflow to kill lots of people would be tricky - first you need to trigger it, likely by nukes or antimatters that causes the aquifer to break through. As it flows, it will destroy everything in its path - but the flow speeds are only fast on a human level. Very shortly satellite images will make it clear what is going on and Mesh signals will warn everybody in its path. Might still not save everyone, and finding stacks buried in cubic kilometres of silt is going to be hard. To get the beanstalk to fall down you need to sever it near the top, since it is held up by the centrifugal force from its outer half and counterweight. I'm not sure it would do enormous damage: yes, it will be falling at orbital speed, but it will also interact with the atmosphere. I suspect that it will simply burn (it is mainly carbon) and break into small pieces. A sensible security precation for the builders would also have been to integrate scrapping charges: if a disaster happens, it will be blown apart into low-mass pieces that cannot hurt the transhuman infrastructure. Similarly the total mass is pretty low; if the cable diameter is a centimeter and the length on the order of 20,000 km, then for carbon nanotube densities the total weight is just 2600 tons - not enough to make earthquakes. The big question is what kind of terrorists we are talking about. Real terrorists make very odd but kind-of-rational choices of targets and methods: soft targets are preferred to hard targets, but prestige seems to be a major factor, and they generally chose conventional means rather than new methods. The exceptions are the dangerous ones, of course.
Extropian
Bloodwork Bloodwork's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
I can't say too much about it in case my players are lurking here but the terrorists goal isn't to kill the people, there is something they desperately want to destroy and are going about it in a similar way to a firewall erasure squad.
That which doesn't kill you usually succeeds on the second attempt.
Xahn Borealis Xahn Borealis's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
Arenamontanus wrote:
A sensible security precation for the builders would also have been to integrate scrapping charges: if a disaster happens, it will be blown apart into low-mass pieces that cannot hurt the transhuman infrastructure.
Hack the charges, bye-bye bean stalk? Also, loved the image I got of a Venusian aerostat going down.
King Shere King Shere's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
Destroyin a habitat dont nessecerally mean you have to blow all of it up. The habitat itself doesnt need to be the target. Personal involvment isnt nessecary if its possible to promt reactions. Like natures natural habitats; Habitats will not be sustainable even if minor functions ceases to exist. Even mere "founded" suspicions (slander) would prompt responces. Environmental change, geological processes, climate change, invasive species, chemical spill Nutrients change of the ecosystem, food poisoning, water pollutions noise pollutions, Structural flaws. wire tampering. false labling (Habitat is regarded as a dangerous space debree...) change water buoyancy Mark area as a military artillery test range. the list can go on
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
King Shere wrote:
false labling (Habitat is regarded as a dangerous space debree...)
I love that one! Suddenly all the automated meteor interceptors of the Mars system aim at the innocent space habitat, blasting it into pieces. Afterwards an examination shows that someone had entered it into the orbital tracking system as a piece of small industrial production debris with unusually large radar cross-section. Since it was small none of the usual "check with the boss AGI" failsafes activated and auto-fire was allowed (big debris can produce dangerous secondary debris when blasted) and since it was labelled as ultra-dangerous everything fired. One attack that almost succeeded in one of my games was genetically altered yeast (found in the spaceship environment) programmed to start to produce bacteriophages to kill off soil bacteria when given a chemical trigger. Had it actually been triggered the space mission would have failed, all the plants in the greenhouse dying (and the hydroponics failing due to the breakdown of a particular recycling pathway). A nastier version: someone has created a version of the Aspergillus mold that can also synthesize a potent neurotoxin. The trigger of the gene is either an obscure chemical or the neurotoxin itself: once the mold starts making it other mold in the vicinity will begin too. This gene is also placed next to a new gene giving it a slight fitness advantage by allowing it to grow in certain modern plastic bathroom fittings. If the terrorists want to leave a message they can write it in the mold genome. The mold is introduced into a habitat by contaminated cargo, spreads quietly and becomes part of the normal ecosystem (Aspergillus is *everywhere* in transhuman environments with oxygen and water). One day another contaminated cargo arrives, this one containing an obscure chemical. Over the span of hours the habitat fills with neurotoxin. The best thing (from a mold perspective, at least) is that as people start dying and things breaking down there will be a lot more places for mold to grow... [... and this is why I constantly fully sequence samples of all cells in my immediate environment and run them past safety checkers. Paranoid, you say?! It is not just nanites that are dangerous! ]
Extropian
King Shere King Shere's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
Another approach of a miss lable "attack" is to enter a fictional ghost debree -but calculate so that optimal firing at the ghost debree(and thus miss) will hit the intended target with the stray shot.
Bloodwork Bloodwork's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
Xahn Borealis wrote:
Hack the charges, bye-bye bean stalk? Also, loved the image I got of a Venusian aerostat going down.
That is a great image, I'll have to read up on Venus.
That which doesn't kill you usually succeeds on the second attempt.
jackgraham jackgraham's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
Hee-hee, I love this stuff. :) Couple things I should point out: 1. Olympus doesn't have a dome. 2. The actual elevator cable is surprisingly thin. It wouldn't cause planetwide devastation, but it certainly would make quite a mess of Olympus if part of it fell. 3. One of the problems of space elevator design is that the motion of the cars creates oscillations in the cable that can cause structural fatigue. There are a kajillion failsafes, but an organization that figured out a way to seriously screw up the schedule on which the cars run could do some major damage. This should be very difficult, though. 4. Elysium is a covered canyon, making it a harder target than a domed settlement. If you want to destroy a domed city, your best choices are Valles-New Shanghai or Noctis-Qianjiao. Or you could go for a smaller settlement; there are lots of them. City domes are very strong and self-repairing, but a nuke in the right place would crack a hole. Also keep in mind that a lot of buildings in Martian cities have life support of their own in case of a dome breach. 5. The KSR Valles-Marineris flood idea is hilarious. We didn't write in any giant underground reservoirs, but individual GMs sure can. :) Just remember that it's a -really- big area, so you're probably talking flash flooding, not the entire region being permanently submerged. 6. If you want to take out an Aerostat, you'd need to cause a major hull breach, as they're compartmentalized. However, most of them have great big stabilizing outriggers; if you take out a few of those in a storm, the hab could "capsize," listing massively to one side. In Venus' near-Earth gravity, this would do a ton of damage. 7. Dropping an asteroid doesn't work very well, because targeting them with the precision needed to score a direct hit on something as small as a city is really hard. However, the person who mentioned killsats & the like taking out an incoming asteroid was either thinking of a really small asteroid or overestimating the destructive power of weaponry in the system. Destroying a whole asteroid is -really- hard. Your only hope is to catch it while it's still very far away and knock it off course. (Do some reading on proposed systems for protecting Earth from asteroid impacts, and you'll see why the smart money says our best strategy for avoiding random destruction of our species in a celestial cataclysm is to be living on more than one planet so that we don't have all of our eggs in one basket).
J A C K   G R A H A M :: Hooray for Earth!   http://eclipsephase.com :: twitter @jackgraham @faketsr :: Google+Jack Graham
Bloodwork Bloodwork's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
I saw somewhere in the book there has been only one anti-matter detonation on a planet (was it earth?). So I'm thinking another one should cause system-wide attention (the villains don't necessarily want the attention but I want the whole system to hate these guys).
That which doesn't kill you usually succeeds on the second attempt.
jackgraham jackgraham's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
It was the Chicago-Milwaukee metroplex (a very large city on pre-Fall Earth; it's a plum location for avoiding the worst effects of climate change). In the fine tradition of FASA, I decided it was necessary to destroy Chicago in spectacular fashion. Magical hive insects had already been done in Shadowrun (which is too bad, because if you'd substituted "nano" for "magical," it would've fit right in), so I figured the most devastating WMD available to transhuman technology would be the next best thing. And yeah, it'd be noticed. Massive, massive gamma ray emissions, for one thing.
J A C K   G R A H A M :: Hooray for Earth!   http://eclipsephase.com :: twitter @jackgraham @faketsr :: Google+Jack Graham
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
jackgraham wrote:
Massive, massive gamma ray emissions, for one thing.
Once the initial reaction releases a sizeable fraction of the total energy and turns the bomb and vicinity into a plasma fireball (just like a nuke) there will still be a lot of antimatter that just got vaporized mixed with the plasma, producing an "ambiplasma". The mean free path of these particles will be quite long due to the high temperature and low density so they will all have a high chance to get to the fireball surface where they encounter compressed matter from the surroundings and annihilate. This will heat up the surface even more. The same process occurs with x-rays and gamma rays (this is how ordinary nuclear fireballs first form). I haven't done the calculations for this, but I suspect antimatter produces larger fireballs than equivalent nukes because there is more energy production at the surface. A nuclear detonation has a double flash pattern: a first flash from the fireball shell formed when radiation from the detonation itself turns the air into an opaque plasma and then a second, slower flash from when the expanding contents reach the fireball surface. An antimatter detonation would make the second flash much bigger for the above reason. Since the main thermal pulse is from this second flash, I would suspect the heat damage of antimatter weapons would be significantly higher than equivalent nukes. High altitude detonations would likely grow very large and might produce long-lived plasma clouds giving off massive IR radiation for a long while. The gammas would be more of a direct flash. Generally, gamma rays have a halving distance in air of about 150 meters. Not that much gammas are going to reach the ground. However, there would be plenty of radionuclides produced. I'm not entirely sure what is left if an oxygen atom is hit by a high energy antiproton; it might break into individual particles, there is certainly enough energy in the annihilation to overcome the binding energy. But in any case, there will be plenty of radioactivity.
Extropian
Sepherim Sepherim's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
jackgraham wrote:
It was the Chicago-Milwaukee metroplex (a very large city on pre-Fall Earth; it's a plum location for avoiding the worst effects of climate change). In the fine tradition of FASA, I decided it was necessary to destroy Chicago in spectacular fashion. Magical hive insects had already been done in Shadowrun (which is too bad, because if you'd substituted "nano" for "magical," it would've fit right in), so I figured the most devastating WMD available to transhuman technology would be the next best thing.
Hahaha, nice detail! Some of the devs must really hate Chicago for some reason! xD
Bloodwork Bloodwork's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
Would there be a minimum size of an anti-matter explosion? [edit] after some research it looks like 1kg of antimatter can release the same as a 47 MT nuclear blast. yikes. Probably enough to level a city and such a small package to smuggle in.
That which doesn't kill you usually succeeds on the second attempt.
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
Nukes have a lower size limit because they need to get a runaway chain reaction going, and neutrons will escape too easily if they are small. Antimatter just reacts with matter, so there is no lower limit - the smallest animatter "bomb" is just a positron. And the emergency farcasters we all love show that you can easily get down to grenade yields. I wonder what the metallic hydrogen compression technologies could do? Obviously a kilogram of metallic hydrogen that was just allowed to suddenly evaporate in a normal environment would produce a nice boom. Perhaps not good enough as a terrorist weapon (to get a truly big explosion you want the hydrogen to mix and react at the right ratio with oxygen in the atmosphere, which may or may not happen here). But at the very least we should take note that ordinary spaceports contain plenty of things terrorists (and PCs) can use as improvised WMDs...
Extropian
King Shere King Shere's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
Going back to the original thread, task and goal. [I have edit this post, for better clarification and grammar reasons] [B]Goal is to blow up a habitat, destroying a habitat/city on Mars[/B] Villains goal or GMs goal ^^ [B]"the terrorists goal isn't to kill the people, there is something they desperately want to destroy and are going about it in a similar way to a firewall erasure squad." [/B] Dont kill civilians, dont reveal or implicate your orginisation, erase the problem with extreme prejudice & ensure it is gone. . [B]"The perpetrators are a small group of highly-skilled specialists, not an army."[/B] [B]"the villains don't necessarily want the attention but I want the whole system to hate these guys"[/B] What Villains wants & what they get are two different things. Perhaps what you (as GM) want is a attack that results in the destruction of the habitat/city & also system wide dislike of the perpetrators. The villains doesn't seem to have desired destroying the entire habitat city, but things got out of hand. like a player party on its less successful sessions. Fun solution is to have another player party play the highly-skilled (but unlucky) erasure squad in a session. [B]Example turn of events:[/B] A simple burglary, against some incriminating evidence (that needs erasing) Burgles disables the security system to make intrusion possible. When welding the security safe; significantly less Thermite was needed. (turns out the safe wasn't built according to specs) The unstoppable thermite fire results in a spreading building fire. The earlier disabled security system hampers proper fire containment. "Villain player session" participants Exit Stage Left. The large spreading fire itself could pose a threat to the entire habitat, but to those that like Fireworks ^^ The fire spreads down the building block into a factory & igniting its stockpiles of antimatter. Habitat/city had some sentimental & historical value. Many will mourn its loss. [B]Result:[/B]Destroyed habitat, system wide outrage & a big mess.
The Doomed One The Doomed One's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
King Shere wrote:
Fun solution is to have another player party play the highly-skilled (but unlucky) erasure squad in a session.
For more interesting results have the regular players play this party for one session.
Bloodwork Bloodwork's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
I've had a weird idea after watching Memento again. Running two scenes in opposite order. The characters wake up in a dollhouse on Mars, having just been resleeved but they have no idea how they died (kind of like the start of Lack). It doesn't take long for them to hear the news that a habitat has recently been destroyed on Mars with an anti-matter device. They then have to go investigate the area and try to determine who did it, where they went, etc. After this investigation is done, we jump to them getting a mission to investigate a possible bomb threat in a habitat on Mars.
That which doesn't kill you usually succeeds on the second attempt.
King Shere King Shere's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
Hmm, re-sleeving... re-spawning [b]The Re-spawning Habitat[/b] PCs "know" the habitat was destroyed. However , now it seems that isn't true. The habitat is Live in the news. This new news will flood PCs with potential scenarios and questions Is the habitat in the news a copy?, ghost or is it a pretender. are the PCs memories or data of the event correct?memories/data. manipulation? why the resurrection? the (impossible) feat to restore the habitat, how was it done? Was the news of destruction a premonition, or a broadcast from the future? Are PCs in a computer simulation? Is a destroyed Habitat, that received a insurance replacement copy destroyed? Did someone elude the destruction, but received a replacement? [b]"re-spawning" enemies[/b] like the popular computer games. the zone is cleared, return and its littered with the same spawns, was time was re-winded? Players destroyed a secret base and its evil leader.. One week later, the site is back with the same personnel. The players claim of task completion is obviously in error. They risk loosing reputation if not more.
nick012000 nick012000's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
Drive home how fragile humanity's position is. Some idiot kid is messing around with a Nanohive, and produces a Protean Nanoswarm that makes more Protean Nanoswarms. Grey Goo ensues.

+1 r-Rep , +1 @-rep

jackgraham jackgraham's picture
Re: Help me blow up a habitat
Sepherim wrote:
jackgraham wrote:
It was the Chicago-Milwaukee metroplex (a very large city on pre-Fall Earth; it's a plum location for avoiding the worst effects of climate change). In the fine tradition of FASA, I decided it was necessary to destroy Chicago in spectacular fashion. Magical hive insects had already been done in Shadowrun (which is too bad, because if you'd substituted "nano" for "magical," it would've fit right in), so I figured the most devastating WMD available to transhuman technology would be the next best thing.
Hahaha, nice detail! Some of the devs must really hate Chicago for some reason! xD
On the contrary... we love the place. I'm from Chicago; Rob still lives there. Some of the other people who worked on the game have, too. But if you want to get in the right frame of mind for writing a post-apocalyptic game, destroying the place you love best in a horrific way will do the trick.
J A C K   G R A H A M :: Hooray for Earth!   http://eclipsephase.com :: twitter @jackgraham @faketsr :: Google+Jack Graham