Sanctuary City

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by Bill Logan

This adventure was actually used in a game played with my family. It lasted several sessions. I’ll leave off the main storyline and present this as a storyline utility a Referee can simply dump into any mission he chooses.


Plague World

The players are on an alien world (doesn’t matter where). The world was once higher in technology, post-industrial age but nowhere near achieving space flight. Their cities were strong and their problems seemed few... until the plagues struck.

The plagues spread rapidly and soon the cities were quarantined. A desperate attempt to find a cure was underway. It caused the natives who became infected to suddenly grow ravenously hungry to the point of aggression. If not kept constantly fed, they’d resort to cannibalism and worse. As time went on, the cure was nowhere to be found. The plague spread too rapidly. In the present time (the time when the characters arrive), the plague has mutated and subsided. The natives they meet are primitive because they’ve been unable to enter the dense cities. The planet is reduced to a post holocaust-like state (think Mad Max movies). Vehicles are plenty, though fuel is rare and carefully guarded. Weapons are unfortunately more common than one would like. Cities that have been reclaimed are decrepit husks of their former glory incapable of supporting the riffraff that try to eek out a meager existence there. That is, all cities except one.

Sanctuary City

Sanctuary City was a potent military city that dated back to before the times of the plagues. It looks to be in excellent condition from afar. Natives cluster around the city in shanties, but tend to never enter the city itself for fear of death. The city’s former robotic police force (“Sentries”) have somehow taken over the city and some flaw in their program seems to be detecting any living thing in the city as a military target.

In the story I ran with my family, the city was the probable only remaining location that might have a functional subspace radio, and they were crashed here and in need of rescue. For your adventure, you should find a reason that the characters need to get into the city. Perhaps that’s the entire reason they’re here. Or maybe they’re pursuing someone who has entered. Or maybe this is just a side-adventure and the players feel motivated to enter the city to get medicine for a sick villager. Whatever the reason, the characters need to enter the city and face the Sentries.

The city is simple to get around in. Roads are open and no cars drive around. Several cars exist but have been sitting there for a century, and dead natives that are over 100 years old can be found here and there in various states of decomposition. It seems the location was the site of some kind of war.

Sentry Trouble

As soon as the characters enter the city, the Sentries will be a problem. They are everywhere. If one spots the characters, it spends one turn standing there doing nothing while blinking lights indicate communication activity to the robot brain located in the old police station. (it’s calling for backup). All Sentry bots attack on site, indiscriminately.

The sentries are antiquated technology. Treat as "Gamma" Security Robots from Star Frontiersman, May 2007, Issue #1, with the following changes: May only fire once per turn with their laser weapons, chance to hit is only 60% because of antiquated sensor technology, and Stamina is only 80. This makes the robots able to be trapped by a Tangler grenade. Since they’re much less effective than a typical robot of that type, make them VERY plentiful. Two per character in some instances. Make the players afraid of the city, and hint to them about communication among them being moderated by a robot brain computer. Hopefully they’ll figure out that they need to get to the heart of the problem.

The Heart of the Problem

If the characters make their way to the old police station, they’ll find the answers to the riddle of Sanctuary City: This was where the plague began. The Sentry bots weren’t just police; they were protection against contamination. When the military lab located within the city discovered that its project escaped, spreading its plague fast and furious, they tried to contain it. When containment looked impossible, they did the unspeakable: initiated Project Omega... the extermination of everyone living within the city. This was the military lab’s ultimate final solution if their containment of the virus failed. The robots have been stuck in Project Omega mode ever since.

A clever player may wish to disable this “Omega” mode. If they try this, the robot computer system has defenses, as well as several Sentries nearby. The task won’t be easy – and all the characters will have to work together to pull it off.

Bastion of Hope

If the characters disable Project Omega, they’ll find that suddenly the Sentries are very polite and protective robots, very capable of keeping the peace. They can convince those living in the shanty suburbs to re-enter the city, and it will be a bastion of hope to a downtrodden people.

Author’s note: The City Tiles in the Locations article in this issue were used to generate the city. I had several of them printed off and available, and simply added one as needed to keep the city feeling large and sprawling. Ahead of time, I jotted some notes down to keep track of the character’s progress. Below is a sample of what a section of the city might look like. I used a felt-tip pen and wrote words on the six dead-end buildings: Fire Department, Police Department, Hospital, etc. If I would have also had the Motion Tracker and Sentry Guns from this issue, this adventure would have become even more interesting.