Saturday, September 23, 2023

Play Report - Ghost Town

At this week's game session, a number of regulars were absent so we turned to a standalone adventure with new characters. 

At my encouragement, several of the players went for Psionic training for their new PCs. What we got was a selection of low-level Psi talent, which they put to good use right away. 

The group, troubleshooters on Stavanger prime, were hired by a businessman to investigate some unusual happenings on a subordinate world. A mining town there had closed down when a better operation began elsewhere on the world.

The original owners of the land & mine eventually sold the property rights to the patron. He had a team of assessors on site, to determine the value of the location and inform what the patron might do with the land and buildings. 

The assessors reported back that strange things were happening around the town, so the patron hired the PCs to go out and act as troubleshooters. Get to the bottom of the mystery and let the assessors finish their work. En route to the subordinate world, the PCs passed the assessors' shuttle going the opposite direction. They'd seen enough and were scared off. 

The planet (Stavanger Gamma) has a standard atmosphere, but is shrouded in clouds, which combined with its distance from the primary, results in perpetual gloom and twilight. I explained and enforced the darkness penalties. The town has exterior lights on many buildings, but this simply increased the darkness of the non-illuminated areas. 

Odd noises, things moving and strange footprints dogged the PCs as they began searching the near two dozen buildings in the town. Eventually a figure was spotted in two different locations - wearing an old battered vacc suit. When one PC shot at it, the figure ran, and then disappeared around the corner of a building.

The PCs have found scattered records from the old mining outfit, but nothing that indicates there were hauntings or suspicious events going on. They retreated to the ship's boat in which they arrived and spent the night. 

The two leading theories are that this is the work of ghosts; or the work of a psionic. Neither theory has much support yet. There is a small cemetery outside of town; even in the far future mining can be dangerous work. But nothing points to a coherent explanation. The other oddity was a large shipping crate left behind in the warehouse that was full of rocks. Not mining output, just rubble. If it was valuable, it would have been taken away. If it's not valuable, why fill a crate with worthless rocks?  They also have no clear leads as to motive - who/whatever is behind this, what is the goal?

As a side note, one of the players created a Barbarian PC. Which brings up the question what makes one a barbarian in the far future?

COTI explains barbarians as "Rugged individuals from primitive planets accustomed to hardship and well-trained in wilderness and survival situations."

The Cambridge dictionary defines a barbarian as "a member of a group of people from a  . . . culture that is considered to be less socially advanced and more violent than your own." 

Any advanced tech world might have these sorts. Frontier living types who are for many possible reasons separated from the dominant culture of the world. Their tech level would lag behind the main world's level as they don't have access to the markets and industries. But it is not reasonable to think that they would all be primitives.

Barbarians do not have to be Neolithic or medieval, just behind and separate from the main population. A barbarian on Stavanger (TL12) might be very much at home with TL 9-10. The presence of Mechanical skill on the barbarians' skill tables indicates familiarity with industrial technology. No computer, or electronics, or space skills but depending on context, a case could be made for those.

Maybe its time to do a Career post on the barbarians.

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image credit: Pixabay


  1. Have the words "zoinks" or "jenkies" bee used at the table yet?

  2. Not as such, but yes, the Scooby-Doo vibe is very clear. It has been pointed out how much easier of a time the Mysteries, Inc. gang would have had of it, if Fred had kept a shotgun in the back of the Mystery Machine. The PC who spotted the vacc suit figure immediately went for the laser rifle and shot at it.