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View Full Version : What is in the abandoned subterranean city?



hymer
2013-10-14, 09:32 AM
Space opera setting. Subterranean race settles a new planet, builds some cities. Then they get kicked out. The winners clear them out and seal up the entrances to the cities. So what interesting things could there be down there, for a ragtag spacecrew to investigate?
My current ideas:

1: The bad guys getting through the seal making this whole thing an adventure site. They're looking for clues about a certain mad scientist and any abandoned tech worth salvaging.

2: The traps, hindrances and robots left behind by those who sealed the place - probably including some sort of alarm system so they may decide to come running.

3: A defector from the abovementioned mad scientist's team, who beamed down here to get some peace and quiet to work on his own stuff. He's the clue the bad guys are looking for.

4: Some of the original inhabitants in stasis managed to avoid detection. They may still be in stasis or may have begun resettling, not sure which yet.

Any ideas, thoughts and comments are welcome.

hamishspence
2013-10-14, 09:52 AM
Whatever it was kicked them out (their own slaves revolting?) might still be there.

At The Mountains of Madness has a similar plot.

ellindsey
2013-10-14, 09:54 AM
Water. Unmaintained underground spaces tend to flood.

Shred-Bot
2013-10-14, 01:20 PM
A citywide staff of robotic janitors/other cleaners, who have gotten so accustomed to perfect cleanliness over the years after the city was abandoned that any organic matter is now viewed as a mess to clean up. With extreme prejudice.

(Aka Roomba Skynet)

SethoMarkus
2013-10-14, 01:41 PM
Roomba Skynet

I know what I'm doing for my next dystopian setting... :smalltongue:

hymer
2013-10-14, 03:53 PM
@ hamishspence: It's a good idea, but doesn't really jive with established facts of the campaign. Not that you could know. Thanks regardless.

@ ellindsey: Good point, thanks.

@ Shred-Bot: I like that one, unfortunately they recently came across a group of malfunctioning repair bots who attempted to repair the PCs, forcing the heroes to fight them off. So I'll hold off on that one for now. Thanks, though.

RobD
2013-10-15, 09:31 PM
Mole men.
There are always mole men.

The Oni
2013-10-15, 09:54 PM
How about a race that does not believe in the surface world, but is poorly accustomed to living in caves. If you tell them you're from the surface their masters will try to have you killed, because if the subjects knew the truth they'd all leave and the masters would have no servants.

veti
2013-10-15, 09:59 PM
For now? Strange noises, anomalous sensor readings, and random bits of technology that for some reason are still powered up. I'd start off by running it as an outsized haunted house scenario - don't let the players actually know what's there until at least Act 3.

When they do find out? Hey, pretty much any of the above suggestions would work.

Icehawk
2013-10-15, 11:41 PM
Space opera setting eh? Are there beings from other dimensions? If so, you can do Lovecraftian horror, making the city like R'lyeh, except underground instead of underwater.

It could have some abandoned giant robots, with the PC's boarding a giant robot and then having a giant robot fight. Make the giant robots awesome enough and the players might beg to keep them.

Carbosylicate Amorphs. Just saying.

A race of sapient cars, who overthrew their masters and killed them, with one lone member of the organic race who created them still alive and fighting back through the medium of radio, like in the Zero Punctuation review of Burnout.

Mastikator
2013-10-16, 04:11 AM
Whatever it was kicked them out (their own slaves revolting?) might still be there.

At The Mountains of Madness has a similar plot.

Their own robot/genetically engineered/different species of alien slaves revolted! They have become xenophobic as a result of their enslavement.

CombatOwl
2013-10-16, 05:25 AM
Space opera setting. Subterranean race settles a new planet, builds some cities. Then they get kicked out. The winners clear them out and seal up the entrances to the cities. So what interesting things could there be down there, for a ragtag spacecrew to investigate?

A large black monolith, leading to... aliens!


1: The bad guys getting through the seal making this whole thing an adventure site. They're looking for clues about a certain mad scientist and any abandoned tech worth salvaging.

Falling back onto the narrative principle of concision... why would it need to be an underground city for that? You could just have a mad scientist's lab out in the boonies for that one. You put stuff underground and abandoned when you want to play with confined spaces and psychological horror stuff. What should be down there? Creepy descriptions, sounds you can't identify with a skill check, their own intense paranoia--the belief that something MUST be down there, even if it isn't. Don't just run something you could just as easily run in another setting--because you're just setting yourself up to require a lot of additional details for no additional narrative gain.

Long-abandoned cities would surely "move" a fair amount--at least enough to surprise people and hint that something might be down there with them.


2: The traps, hindrances and robots left behind by those who sealed the place - probably including some sort of alarm system so they may decide to come running.

Shouldn't the traps and robots have been dealt with by whomever evicted them in the first place? TBH, if I were doing it, they would only find the busted remains of traps and defenses. YMMV.


3: A defector from the abovementioned mad scientist's team, who beamed down here to get some peace and quiet to work on his own stuff. He's the clue the bad guys are looking for.

Seems kind of an off choice for peace and quiet. Why not a space lab out in the boonies? You're putting people underground, do underground stuff.


Any ideas, thoughts and comments are welcome.

Whatever they're doing obviously needs to tie into the original reason why the city got abandoned.

Starshade
2013-10-16, 06:17 AM
Is the subterranean race doing well other places in your setting? If not, and it is survivors down there, there could be an subplot out of saving the race. Depending on the specifics of the race, it could be quite a challenge the more unusual it is. (Hive mind, insectoid races with gigantic queens, or species with extremely complex caste and reproduction cycles, like Droyne or the strange Hivers from the rpg Traveller, is an example.

Other ideas:
- Unused weapons of last resort. Like, terminator 1000 robot, deactivated, who is programmed to kill all aliens.
- Random, bizarre equipment with no logical function. Research and science way outside of the character's understanding.
- Sealed off small ecospheres with still living native fauna and flora from the alien's homeworld. Could contain dangerous animals.

TheStranger
2013-10-16, 09:14 AM
How long has the city been abandoned? What was the tech level of the subterranean race? Does it support a centralized computer system?

Molemen are fun... what if... a vengeful supercomputer is running uplift protocols on the local vermin (now sapient and worshiping the computer as a god), for the purpose of scourging the invaders from the face of the planet? Also, Roomba Skynet concert posters should be all over the city.

hymer
2013-10-16, 12:26 PM
@ RobD: Thanks for the thought.

@ Lord Smeagle: Interesting idea, thanks.

@ veti: Good points, thanks.

@ Icehawk: Itís a tad early to be introducing the extradimensional beings, since they are the ultimate BBEGs in the setting. Theyíll be using a giant robot to clear the surface before going underground. Haha. And sentient cars duly noted. Thanks!

@ CombatOwl: Interplanetary and interstellar travel is already dealt with. 1: The subterranean city was not a premise, but a consequence of the campaign world. 2: Those are installed by the evictors, to delay the evictees if they ever try to resettle. 3: Hey, mad scientist. Seriously, though, it actually makes quite a bit of sense. Space stations are blatantly obvious to every passing spaceship, but if youíre sufficiently deep underground, youíre immune to sensors and can expect little to no traffic. But thereís no hiding from plot or the crew, of course. Thanks for the comments.

@ Starshade: The subterranean species are not only doing well, they are doing so well (and are so aggressive) they are the most obvious and gravest threat to a number of other major species. I love the other ideas, thanks!

@ TheStranger: Approximately five years since abandonment. Tech level was high, but leftovers are not; it was residential rather than military/experimental (in a species that doesnít treat commoners well at all), and there was some effort in cleaning the place out before sealing it up. Iím sure there was a central computer, but itís not something Iíve thought enough about yet, so good thing you pointed it out. Lovely, whacky idea, thanks!

Mordar
2013-10-16, 02:10 PM
I guess I'd like to add a consideration: Why did the builders build their subterranean city in this location? It must have been a point of significance - primarily I think the primary rationale would be:


Access to natural resources that they wanted/needed;
Travel pathing (access to transit routes);
Military or Scientific significance


So, each of these offers options that would be of both interest and value to the crew.

In the case of natural resources, it could be a cache of said resource (say the builders were mining Impossibilium...a nice load of raw or refined Impossibilium might fetch a nice price or be a useful trade element...or a byproduct of the mining might be of value), tools that were too large to take when fleeing, or proprietary information on the refining process all present useful rewards for the trip.

Travel pathing means people from far away might have frequently been through the area, and maybe one or more visitors dropped something of grave importance when the victors sealed the city. The identity and value of the thing dropped is up to you, but could range from a revolutionary Hyperdine Plasma Inverter schematic to a working Space Opera Enigma Machine capable of decoding encrypted messages.

Military or Scientific significance offers a ton of possibilities that a fringe-operation like the ragtag space crew could really use...weapons, ammunition, medical technology, deadly transformative virii (oh wait...that's not a reward), and the like. Maybe even the aforementioned mad scientist. Even given your comment about the area being residential...well, that can be modified (consider the Resident Evil setup...residential area covers the entrance to the horrible biogenetics facility). Additionally, as Starshade mentioned, there could be interesting "every day" tech for the race that was booted that is less "every day" for other races.

Best of all, each of these presents an opportunity to tie them into the larger universe...after all, they'll need a buyer, or someone will be looking for their Inverter, or people will wonder where that Biostim Suit came from...so it isn't just a loot dump but a stepping stone to greater stories.

All sound like fun to me :smallsmile:

BTW, what system are you using?

- M

hymer
2013-10-16, 03:51 PM
@ Mordar: Very nice analysis, thanks! The system is a homebrew cross between StarWwars Saga Edition and Cyberpunk 2020. The world is heavily based on the ol' computer games Master of Orion.

Astral Avenger
2013-10-17, 01:06 PM
The flooding suggestion along with the still powered devices idea got me thinking...

The groundwater is slowly seeping in, so the place is partially submerged, lower sectors are flooded, but the higher ground is still dry (or only damp). The city garbage dump was at the lower end of the city, and so it has become a toxic sludge. the water has recently gotten just high enough to reach the power lines near the dump, causing the dump to become a gigantic battery that is sending power into their grid, thus powering anything that was left with a switch in the on position. This may include traps, robots, kitchen appliances, an electrolysis station that could go boom (2 H2(g) + O2(g) → 2 H2O(l) + 572 kJ (286 kJ/mol)) with a spark, computers, an intercom system blaring warnings in some forgotten language and who knows what else?

hymer
2013-10-18, 03:27 AM
@ Astral Avenger: Funny and interesting idea! Thanks.