Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mini Adventure -- Moon Hunter

I ran this sci-fi investigation scenario twice in the past year. Once with grown-ups and once with teens. The latter solved it in about three hours. The former are still in the dark. Alas, good role-playing often stands in the way of good police work.

PC Info

Earth 2184 is a feudal, space-faring society that has constructed scientific and mining colonies on numerous planets in the solar system, including on Saturn’s moon, Ganymede. Our story takes place on Mining Colony 5296c, a joint venture by Baron Freidrich von Siemens and industrialist Zheng Xiu Wong. Last week, the Baron received the below message from his vassal on the mining colony, knight-engineer Jonathan Ronalds:

your grace several ppl dead send help. jr

As you are the Baron’s nearest retainers, presently wrapping up a mission on Saturn, you’re sent to investigate the old knight’s cryptic message.

DM Info

Mining Colony 5296c is home to about 300 people including workers, administration, semi-legal service providers and licensed merchants. It transports ores to earth using an innovative magnetic rail that functions as an orbital slingshot. The rail is powered by a unique energy source patented by Golden Tiger ltd., a company controlled by Mr. Zheng. The rail works for 30 minutes every Monday. Because it's so effective, the Mining Colony is now the main transport hub of the region, firing tens of containers all over the Solar system.


  • Lin Bin, Mr. Wong’s son-in-law, the manager of the operation. Lin is also in charge of counter-espionage, a role he fulfills enthusiastically to the point of bullying.
  • Ser Manuel Gershwin and his six sworn guns are in charge of discipline and security. Manuel is chivalrous, gallant, ultra-conservative and dumb as a rock.
  • Doctor Nori Hakamada doubles as chief physician and science officer, a position maintained as a rubber stamp against EU regulations. She is intelligent, aloof and very competent.
  • Nelly Patel, a human rights activist from Earth. She was arrested because the first murder happened right after she arrived. She was released after two more murders happened while she was arrested. She is passionate about her job, but not very good at it.
  • Workers mostly include low-risk prisoners from Earth, Siemens serfs and a small number of Chinese and Europeans specialists, mostly engineers, technicians and scientists. In addition there are a few dozen merchants and "camp followers" providing semi-legal services to the workers. 


  • Jenny (last name unknown), drifter who worked as a thief and a prostitute (month ago)
  • Michael Philips, quality assurance (two weeks ago)
  • Ahmad Toshiba, cargo operator (week ago)
  • No one died three weeks ago due to slingshot malfunction that took a week to fix.

The Problem

Every time the mysterious energy source is tapped, it summons an alien hunter (I used gibbering mouther) somewhere within 100 meters of the rail. The thing kills humans and removes their tongues and eyes for some perverse inexplicable reason. All victims are partially sunken in hard rock and present signs of irrational behavior prior to death such as punching random objects, undressing or writing nonsense on the floor. While their eyes and tongues have been roughly removed, the cause of death is electrocution.
Both Lin and Nori suspect there’s something alien at work. Both agreed last week to keep their mouths shut and sabotage future investigations. Hun wants to impress his father-in-law to get a better job, and a string of murders is hardly a point in his favor. Nori has great scientific curiosity and little regard to the lives of criminals and drifters. 
Manuel blames revolutionary terrorists because so far no evidence has been uncovered to suggest anything else. It will take some very strong evidence to make him abandon his favorite conspiracy theories and scapegoats.


  • Videos from the attacks are missing and records of operations have been deleted as well. Only Lin, Nori and Manuel have access to videos.
  • Nori is researching a “new micro-organism” which is really a trace amount of alien bio matter. Questioned, she will claim it was recovered near the rails (which is essentially true).
  • Cargo operators all agree that odd gibbering sounds are heard when the railing is on, however, Lin suggested this is the result of drugs and threatened to fire them if they mentioned this again. Patel also knows this.
  • If pressed, Lin will confess that the energy source is a previously unknown substance uncovered by his father-in-law on the fringes of the solar system. He doesn't know where or what else was recovered there.


  • During the investigation, Hun will send some of his goons to fake an alien attack when the rail is off. While the eyes and tongue will be removed, the cause of death would be a blunt instrument blow to the back of the head.
  • If the ploy doesn’t work, Nori will try to poison the PCs by offering the cook narcotics in return for spiking the PCs’ food. The cook will then die of an "accidental" overdose.
  • If is doesn’t work as well, Hun will invite PCs to a meeting on the surface of the moon, where several of his trusted goons will attack them.


  • If faced with arrest, Wang will surrender and hope his connections will save him.
  • If faced with arrest, Nori will kill herself, leaving behind a haiku:
Research of cosmos
Demanded great sacrifice
I depart wiser

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