Wednesday, March 31, 2021

GORILLA WARFARE: 1d5 Ape Mercenary Units

 Below are 5 hireling crews composed entirely of uplifted apes. This entire list is the result of a very unserious conversation that happened between Swampgirl, HailSanta, me, and a few other people in the Mothership Discord.

Stat blocks are intended to work with the upcoming first edition box set rules. For a quick-and-dirty conversion to PSG rules, double Health and the number of dice used for weapon damage, and leave stats as they are.


artist: Ilya Brovkin

1. CHIMP GUNNER CREW

Innacurate but enthusiastic. Payment in fruit and meat and cigarettes. Happy to wade into melee when they run out of ammunition.

Combat 50; Instinct 60; Speed 45; Loyalty 55

Hits 2(10)

WEAPONS

Bare hands and feet: 2d10 CQC, crits on consecutives as well as doubles (i.e. 01, 12, 23 etc.)

Rotary autocannon: 3d10 at long range, 1 HIT at short and medium range, 1 MDMG to vehicles at short and medium range

  • Range: 15m/125m/300m
  • Shots: 1(5) - automatic, can provide sweeping fire and suppressive fire
  • Crits: Body save or be knocked down.
  • Special: Too heavy to be carried by one person. Must be disassembled for transport.

CREW: 1 gunner, 1 belt-feeder, 1 mechanic, 1 porter/backup chimp

TACTICS: Gleeful, unrestrained violence. Set up the autocannon in a strategic chokepoint and saturate the area with lead. Backup crew mauls anyone coming too close to the gunner's nest. If they run out of ammo, they leave the gun behind and dive headfirst into melee with excited whoops.

LOOT: 1 functioning rotary autocannon. 1d10[-] belts of ammunition. Weapon maintenance tools. Assorted collection of fruit and meat. 1d10 MREs. 2d10 packs of cigarettes. Pornographic magazines. The highest-ranked field medals awarded to uplifts (very low-ranked). Crude carved piece of wood from back home.


2. BONOBO DRONE OPERATORS

(by Swampgirl)

Gregarious, social. Large groups rotate between pilot duties, controlling drones with their CANOPY console. By human standards, incredibly relaxed about sex. Shy from physical confrontation. Payment in art, tools, new experiences.

Combat 50; Instinct 60; Speed 45; Loyalty 50

Hits 2(8)

WEAPONS

Hummingbird Scout Drone
  • Hits 1(10)
  • Full spectrum sensor suite, 500x optical zoom
  • Markerlight: Target lit up to guided missile systems, drones, snipers, etc.
  • Flashbang: Sacrifice drone for blinding+deafening blast
Hawk Strike Drone
  • Hits 3(15)
  • Scythe missile pod:
    • Explosive: 1d5 HITS
    • Pyro: 1 HITS, everything within 10m covered in napalm
    • Gas: Nerve toxin, Body save or paralysis and fits

CREW: At least 10 operators in a single group

TACTICS: Nowhere near the combat theatre, at least 1 km away in forward operating post. Reposition at first sign of enemy approach. Act as support for friendlies, placing markerlights for snipers, providing recon and breaking up concentrated enemy units with well-placed missile strikes.

LOOT: CANOPY drone command console. 1d10 rolled blunts. 1 bottle longlasting lube. 3d10 MREs. Vast and varied pornography collection. 1 combat knife. Bug collection.


3. GORILLA COMMANDO

Deployed in tight squads or alone. Stolid, deliberate, humorless and incredibly distrustful. Chafe against any commander that did not personally earn their respect. Always respect strength and consistency. Will not accept any payment except what human mercenaries get for the same job.

Combat 65; Instinct 40; Speed 25; Loyalty 65

Hits 3(10)

WEAPONS

Bare hands and feet: 2d10 CQC, crits on consecutives as well as doubles (i.e. 01, 12, 23 etc.)

Vibechete: 1d10 CQC

Pulse Rifle: 3d10

Flashbang Grenade: blinded and deafened for 1d5 rounds, Body save for half

CREW: 4-member all-female squad, or 1 solitary silverback operative

TACTICS: Focused and brutal, like a jackhammer. Never deploy without a plan and always have at least one backup plan. Use tight formation, huge size and psychological warfare to disintegrate enemy cohesion before going in for the kill.

LOOT: Pulse Rifles. 1d10 or 4d10 clips of ammunition. 1d5 Flashbangs. Vibechetes. Gorilla-sized Standard Battle Dresses (HUD, Body Cam, Short-Range Comms). Stress ball. Survey map and aerial recon maps of the operation area, choked with margin notes penciled in primate lexigrams (Intellect+Sophontology to decipher). Little trinkets gifted from one another (roll 4 times on the d100 Trinkets table in the PSG). Uplift rights pamphlet: "Two Hands Good, Four Hands Bad?"


4. ORANGUTAN SNIPER

Deployed solitarily, assisted by a subturing AI spotter unit. Vain, reserved and takes pride in their job. Paid in real credits (even if they have no way to spend it) or alcohol.

Combat 70; Instinct 35; Speed 35; Loyalty 60

Hits 2(10)

WEAPONS

Vibechete: 2d10 CQC

Borneo-pattern smart rifle: 1HIT at long range, 2d10 at medium range

  • Range: 50m/500m/6000m
  • Shots: 4
  • Crit: Triple damage.
  • Special:
    • Armor-piercing rounds: -10 to Armor save.
    • +10 to Combat checks when combined with an AI spotter unit.
    • Thermal/night vision scope.
    • Unusually long: Disadvantage to firing it if your arms are shorter than an orangutan's.

CREW: 1 sniper, 1 AI spotter unit

TACTICS: Takes their time. Brachiation and prehensile feet allow them to set up sniping spots in very improbable locations and from very improbable angles. Each kill must be individually perfect.

LOOT: 1 Borneo-pattern smart rifle, 1d10 clips of ammunition. Vibechete. Orangutan-sized headset running spotter unit. Thermal/night vision goggles. 1d10 MREs. Bottle of whisky. Fur-grooming kit with 4d10 tally marks scratched into the lid. Credstick with 5d100 credits.


5. GIBBON BOMB TEAM

Chatty, insolent, territorial and dexterous. Enjoy annoying their handlers for their own fun, and are capable of shocking professionalism if the outcome of their bombing attack is promised to be amusing. Work in intimate pairs; uncooperative if not given their own quarters. Paid in leisure time and special privileges.

Combat 35; Instinct 75; Speed 60; Loyalty 45

Hits 2(5)

WEAPONS

Bare hands and feet: 1d10 CQC

Grenade Launcher: 1d5 HIT
  • Range: 15m/125m/300m
  • Shots: 6
  • Special: Gibbons can't throw grenades by hand, due to their overspecialized arm joints.

Slyntrec-BB plastic explosive: 1d10 HIT, 1d10 MDMG to vehicles and structures. Detonation timed or activated by radio.

CREW: 2 bomb specialists

TACTICS: Deployed in pairs. Extensively scout target location before stealthily setting up explosives to cause maximum damage and chaos. Prefer to stay and watch the aftermath if possible. If there is no way to set up explosives beforehand, they'll launch grenades from above and flee through the tree tops. Will never leave each other behind if they can help it.

LOOT: 1 Grenade Launcher. 1d10 Frag Grenades. 1d5 bricks of plastic explosive (can be split, merged and shaped). 1d5 detonators (switchable between timed and radio trigger mode). Electronic Tool Set. 2 Short-Range Comms. Binoculars with hand-braided strap. Gibbon-sized EOD suit (+10 Armor save, advantage on Armor saves against explosions, disadvantage on Speed checks, heavy). 1d10 MREs. Walkman with earphones and trashy pop cassette. Reprimand slip by handler.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Sun Stares Back

It's a tapeworm! I swear to Christ it's a fucking cosmic tapeworm! Listen! It's 27,003.8 km long, it lives in the sun, it returns every 76 years 4 months 2 weeks after feeding, it
[DATA EXPUNGED]
You'll just have to wait, doc.

SCP-1682

Starcages are enigmatic megastructures found in several systems. They're alien in origin, and at least 3 million years old.

True to their name, they are found around stars. The star is always a G-class yellow sun - some stars surrounded by starcages have evidence of massive starlifting operations to make them G-class. The bygone alien culture which built these vast constructions (tentatively dubbed the Starcage-Building Culture Group by xenoarchaeologists) evidently took great pains to make starcages happen.

The cage has a swarm architecture. Tens of thousands of flat, pentagonal statites, each the size of a small continent and arrayed with respect to the others in a fractalic dodecahedral pattern, hover suspended in the star's chromosphere, pushed upwards by the pressure of solar wind. Electromagnetic spectrum imaging reveals an intricate network of magnetic flux lines bound into tight arcs, directed through the statites, making up a colossal polyhedral lattice of energy. Electromagnetic force forms a constricting cage around the star, confining its vast eruptions.

Starcages aren't energy collectors. They aren't even protective structures, set up against solar flares. They are animal pens.

coronal mass ejection

It's not entirely clear what animal lives inside these stars. Based on what little is visible of them, they're probably shaped like worms. Sometimes, their bodies arc out of the star's nuclear atmosphere, a Loch Ness monster of blinding white plasma. The very smallest of them are the size of the continental United States. The largest could wind their body at least one and a half times around the Earth.

When uncaged, they tend to migrate. They launch themselves out of their home star, achieve solar escape velocity, and spin a thin, hard cocoon from space dust they gather via their innate magnetic field. They travel slower than light, coasting for decades or centuries in complete dormancy, until they reach another G-type star to colonize.

coronal rain

Each star surrounded by a starcage contains 5d100 sunswimmers. Don't stat them. They are a narrative problem. Getting directly attacked by a sunswimmer is like slamming into a goodly-sized planetoid, and no spaceship-sized weaponry can even concievably harm one. An encounter with a sunswimmer is an open-ended scenario unto itself. The players will have to figure out how to deal with it themselves.

If you encounter them in space, odds are they're cocooned and either in transit or dormant. They might be woken. 

If you encounter them in their natural habitat, your spaceship is inside a star, and mechanical questions are moot anyway.

sunspot
4 adventure hooks
  1. A scientific institute contracts the players to drop a disposable probe into a nearby star so they can figure out what's inside the starcage. The star is a popular pilgrimage site of the Solarian Church. When they learn of the players' mission, the devout Solarians accompanying them on their trip desperately try to stop the heresy, first by impassioned pleading, then by violence.
  2. A derelict starcage statite is found drifting in a close orbit around an uncaged star in a newly-colonized system. This is a megadungeon; statites are huge. Play it either as cosmic horror, the exploration of the ruins of near-incomprehensible precursors, or as an alien death trap, with reckless treasure hunters being massacred by three million year old defense systems. Keep in mind that this colossal monolith is the Starcager equivalent of a fence post.
  3. The Company's latest job for the players is to tow an entire asteroid to a "processing station" for disassembly. The asteroid is actually the cocoon of a dormant sunswimmer, and the processing station is a corporate research facility. This information is above the players' pay grade.
  4. An uncaged star is undergoing extreme starquakes and stellar eruptions as a sunswimmer inside prepares for its migration launch. A solar research station calls for help as its heat shields begin to fail. Can you reach and rescue them before the vast creature emerges into space?
oh yeah the sun just occasionally does shit like this, don't worry about it lol


Tuesday, February 16, 2021

KILL SCREEN Released!

 My first ever Mothership third-party module, KILL SCREEN, is now available for purchase! Get it while it's hot!

Buy KILL SCREEN here.

Making this module has been an absolute journey (and I will make more in the future). I can't even express how grateful I am for the contributions of Swampgirl (Gods of the Black), who did the wonderful art for my module, and Max V. (The Last Nebula), who created its gorgeous layout. I may never have completed it at all without their help. Be sure to check out their stuff as well!

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Drugs for Mothership

The Player's Survival Guide has this to say about drugs:

Excessive use of Pain Pills and Stimpaks requires a Body Save to prevent Addiction. If addicted, make a daily Body save or gain 1d10 Stress every day you go without.  If used once per day for a week, twice the amount must be used to have the same effect.

If taking more than 1 pill at a time, roll 1d10. If you roll equal or under the number taken, make a Body save. Failure means you fall unconscious and the Warden rolls on the table on Page 10.4 [the Unconsciousness & Death table]. You can cure an addiction through in-game treatment or leveling up.

This is all nice and dandy, but I feel it sells the manifold effects of drugs a little short. It lacks a viscerality you might want to convey to players whose characters are addicted to drugs, and it's somewhat difficult to apply fairly. If you want to include drug use mechanically in your game, an improved system might be of use.

To this end, I've made a Mothership-compatible conversion of my absolute favorite drug use mechanic, the wonderful OSR drug rules written by Goblin Punch, available here.

[Content warning: drug abuse, alcohol abuse, dissociation, hallucinations, seizures.]

As in Arnold's system, you are on a track for drugs, as follows:

Clean - Habituated - Addicted - Dependent

At the end of every week in which you've used the drug, make a Sanity save or go up one level on the addiction track.

  • Clean: You are completely drug-free.
  • Habituated: You don't need the drug, and you can quit any time you want.
  • Addicted: You need to use the normal amount of the drug (1/day or 1/3 days, depending). Advantage on saves vs. Side Effects and Overdose.
  • Dependent: You need three times as much of the drug as the average user to get the desired effect. You will have an extremely hard time quitting without help (or by necessity). Double advantage vs. Side Effects and Overdose (roll 3d100 and take the best result). Disadvantage vs. Relapse and Withdrawal checks.

Quitting: if you're only habituated, it's automatic. Otherwise, there are two steps:

  1. Relapse: Sanity save to see if you can resist taking drugs this week. (This step is skipped if you can't get drugs despite your best efforts.)
  2. Withdrawal: Body save to see if you go into withdrawal. If you feel yourself going into withdrawal, you can always use some more of the drug to avoid it.
  3. Congrats! You've moved a step back on the addiction track.

Overdose: If you get drugs from a sketchy source or consume them in a sketchy way, there is a 5% chance of overdose. Pretty much all sources are sketchy sources when you first meet them, but they become trustworthy over time. You can also overdose intentionally.

And don't forget why you took the drug in the first place.

Main Effects: This is why.

Side effects: Body save to avoid these. You cannot choose to fail this (always roll it).

Space Drugs

Warpwater

a.k.a. muckraker, suit sweat, engineer's friend, brain squeeze, and dozens of other names

Spacer moonshine. Warpwater is one part vodka, three parts water, and one part distilled jump drive cooling fluid. Getting drunk on this stuff is like getting your skull caved in with an ice pick while staring into jumpspace. It does marvelously to make you forget things you don't want to think about, and brings on moods of imaginative, manic melancholia. Besides miserable, down-on-their luck spaceship engineers, high-quality bottled warpwater is also consumed by certain decadent corespace artists and bohemians. This gentrified brand is called Explosive Decompression, and is produced using stationary jump drives bought up from decommissioned starliners.

Price: 20 cr per bottle (2 doses), 50 cr for a bottle of Explosive Decompression (2 high-quality doses). Low-quality warpwater confers disadvantage on saves vs. side effects and overdose, canceling out one level of advantage if you're addicted or dependent.

Main effect: Recover 2d10 Stress. Forget traumatic memories from the past few days. Amplified perception of colors and proportions. Advantage on creativity-related rolls. Lasts until you sleep it off.

Side effects: Horrible, head-splitting hangover afterwards. Disadvantage on all checks for 1d10 hours (cancels out almost every source of advantage). Nightmares.

Addiction: Constantly darting, indistinct shapes at the corner of your vision. -5 to all Intellect checks as you are constantly distracted. 

Dependence: Intrusive thoughts, irritability, yearning for the warp. -10 to all Intellect checks. Every time a ship you're aboard of jumps, make a Sanity save, or you can't resist the urge to stay awake and just stare into the abyss until you go mad.

Withdrawal: Slogging misery and dissociation. Colors are washed out and lifeless. You're obsessively dwelling on the past. You feel like a robot trundling through routine actions. 1 stress every day, for 2d10 days. Disadvantage on any check related to interacting with people.

Overdose: You black out as the fiery mixture of alcohol and warp energy sears your brain. Unconscious for 2d10 days (danger of dehydration). Permanently lose 1d10 Intellect. When you wake up, Body save or permanently lose a primary sense (roll d5, 1: vision, 2: hearing, 3: touch, 4: smell, 5: taste).


Riastrad

a.k.a. murderjuice, killstims, bottled rage, crime in a needle

A widely-used family of combat drugs developed by Taurus-Littrow Security Services, Inc. for internal use. The recipe later leaked to the black market, and it soon became popular for its quick-taking effect and ease of manufacture. Riastrad is an intravenous drug, originally meant to be administered through an implanted spinal injector unit common among Taurus-Littrow mercs, but a simple syringe or an epipen will suffice just as well.

Price: 600 cr for a canister (6 doses).

Main effect: +10 on Initiative rolls, Strength checks, Combat checks and Armor saves. You can deal 2d10 damage with your bare hands. Takes effect within 1 combat round. Lasts 1d5 minutes.

Side effects: Heartrate through the roof. 1d10 Stress when you come off your high. Disadvantage on Body saves against drugs, poisons, diseases and other bloodborne agents as your overclocked circulation spreads everything getting into your bloodstream through your body at record speed.

Addiction: Bowel problems. Twitchiness: +5 on Initiative rolls even when you're not on Riastrad. Tremors: -10 on all checks relating to manual dexterity.

Dependence: Shortsightedness. Once per day, the Warden can impose Disadvantage on a random roll as you suffer a headache at the worst possible moment.

Withdrawal: Intense migraines for 1d5 days. 1d10 Stress and Body save to even be able to get out of bed.

Overdose: Heart attack. Body save or die.


RFL

a.k.a. gingiva, yellow rain, prophet, shaman fuel, angel blowjob

An unusual and dangerous synthetic entheogen. Created as a designer drug variant of klekk, a common herbal hallucinogen of Middle Regions origin, in an attempt to evade drug ban laws centered around chemical structure. Its esoteric effects are an unintentional result of mucking around with delicate quantum-molecular chemistry in a back alley drug refinery. Corporate biochemists have repeatedly claimed that the molecular structure of RFL's active ingredient "does not add up geometrically". RFL is either horrifically illegal or in the process of being illegalized in all systems that are aware of its existence. 

RFL, like its less dangerous cousin klekk, is usually sold in the form of a paste, which can be rubbed on the gums or the tongue. Unlike klekk, however, RFL can be distinguished by causing an enduring yellow discoloration of the gums and tongue, hence its name. More discreet, but less concentrated forms can be bought as a hand cream, which can be absorbed anywhere through the skin.

Price: 300 cr per dose.

Main effect: You astral project into the Dead Dimension, witnessing things the rank and file of humanity wouldn't ever even imagine could exist. Gain 1 XP and 1d10 Stress. Immediate Panic Check when you come off of it. Lasts 6d10 minutes.

Addiction: You no longer panic automatically from using the drug. Subtle, irritating whispers just outside your hearing constantly put you at unease. Whenever you take Stress, take 1 more Stress than you otherwise would.

Dependence: You no longer gain Stress from using the drug. You can hear voices urging you to construct a gate. They torment your mind and cause 1d10 Stress for every day that passes without you taking steps in this direction.

Withdrawal: Intense, nightmarish sleep paralysis for the next 1d5 nights. 1d10 Stress, and Fear save or lose 1 Resolve per night.

Overdose: Grand mal seizure, glossolalia. Everyone nearby must make a Fear save. Roll 3d10: on doubles, a single Gaunt lurches forth from your forehead, shrieking. On triples, a gate to the Dead Dimension rips open on your convulsing, babbling body, spilling forth horrors beyond counting (treat it as a temporary version of the Gate in Dead Planet). It closes on its own after 1d10 combat rounds.


Scrambler

a.k.a. retro, wire-crosser, paperclips, BLIT

The good stuff for androids. Scrambler is a program developed by RealDreams Synergetics, a charismatic upstart tech corporation, designed to produce psychoactive effects in electronic minds. They are also effective on organics with certain cortical implants.

Scrambler is a stimulant, designed to speed up processing speed and increase analysis capabilities. By some quirk of the android brain, it also produces near-orgasmic satisfaction with fulfilling one's function. In some less enlightened systems, Scrambler is used for the dual purpose of maximizing androids' utility while simultaneously keeping them in line.

Normally available from the net site of RealDreams, but illicitly cracked versions can be found all throughout the net. In areas with less solid infrastructure and unreliable net connections, Scrambler can also be purchased physically, copied onto flash drives or read-only data sticks.

Price: 30 day free trial; afterwards, a new authentication key must be purchased for each use. 50 cr per key. Can be pirated for free, with a 40% chance of a nasty trojan, ransomware or other unpleasant computer virus coming prepackaged with the file.

Main effect: Suddenly you can see all the patterns. Everything falls into place perfectly, and it's perfectly wonderful. +20 to all rolls relating to mathematics, physics, linguistics, pattern recognition or geometry. Remove 1 Stress whenever you succeed at such a roll. Lasts exactly 1 hour.

Side effects: Processor overheat. Take 1 Damage for every Intellect check you make while Scrambler is active.

Addiction: Social skills atrophy at the expense of pure analytical ability. -5 to all checks relating to social activities. Also, a deep contentment fills you if you perceive to be fulfilling your intended purpose. If you've been carrying out your intended purpose this week, make a Sanity save. If you fail, gain 1 Resolve.

Dependence: -10 to all checks relating to social activities. You become emotionally dependent on being a cog in a larger machine, becoming existentially troubled and panicky if you have to step out of line. Whenever you directly act against your intended purpose, gain 1d10 Stress (Sanity save for half).

Withdrawal: Massive existential crisis. 2d10 Stress, Panic Check. Any corporate-unsactioned identity the android may have inevitably bursts to the surface and cannot be suppressed except via memory-wiping.

Overdose: Blue screen of death. Memory damage. You just stand there with a blank expression while your brain/implant reboots. You forget everything that happened to you in the last 1d10 months.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

KILL SCREEN - Coming Soon!

 I'm proud to announce that my first 3rd-party module for Mothership, KILL SCREEN, will hit stores on Valentine's Day!

An odd, large cargo box was delivered with the latest supply run to the station, along with the usual crates of rations, spare parts and magazines. Inside is a bulky, black arcade machine, completely unmarked except for a single word in deep red, blocky lettering on the marquee:

THESEUS

KILL SCREEN is a pamphlet adventure of electronic horror, compatible with the Mothership RPG. Escape the clutches of a sinister arcade machine, fighting or fleeing your way through strange hallucinations, digital nausea and the mind-broken crew of the space station.

The first print run is planned to be released about a month after the digital release, and will be available for purchase at the official Mothership store.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Factions for the Apocalypse: The Ash Legion

If it has a pulse,
Take its skull!
If it builds a house,
Smash it flat!
Strength is my God,
The God of Shapes,
If my God should fail me,
I will kill him too.
— Sword Law Mantra of the Knights Belligerent, Kill Six Billion Demons

Tell them ruin has come to their world, death, despair and red war...
Tell them their hopes and pride have come to nothing.
Tell them their empty whispers fall upon deaf ears - their gods are dead, human logic has killed them.
Tell them the Angels of Death have come.
Tell them that nothing can save them now.
— Perturabo, Primarch of the Iron Warriors, Warhammer 40,000

[Content warning: mass murder, self-harm, psychological abuse.]

Raiders are nasty, but they can be bargained with. They want your weapons, your supplies, your vehicle, and you can trade your life for these things. They also want to live, and you can trade your safety for their lives, should you be well-armed enough.

Warlords, likewise, are nasty, but can also be survived. They want control and obedience, and they care about stuff of the old world, like symbols and status. Grovel at their feet, or prove your usefulness, and the warlord might let you live.

The Ash Legion is not like any of these. These people genuinely, actually want to kill you.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

The Atavism at Boulle Cylinder


Boulle Cylinder is an agricultural O'Neill cylinder owned by the Perigee Corporation. The station is overseen by a standard-issue turingrade AI called Soror and houses 200,000 colonists, who engage both in conventional 1g farming and zero-g hydroponics around the axis of rotation. The station is also a site of various research projects on agriculture in free-floating space habitats, including a test-bed experiment with a rather expensive bioprinter. Boulle Cylinder has refused to engage in live radio contact for the past couple months, only sending textual reports, and the suits at Perigee are getting quite nervous.

Here are some ways to direct your players to Boulle:

  1. They are contracted by Perigee to go check the cylinder out and figure out what's going on. This is a relatively well-paying job. This can work as a setup for a one-shot, or as a one-time job in a sandbox campaign.
  2. They are Perigee employees arriving for a 6-month work shift in Boulle Cylinder. The radio contact weirdness has been already noticed in this case, but the mammoth that is Perigee is yet to react. This is an ideal setup for a one-shot.
  3. They don't know about the disquieting lack of radio transmissions, and have to visit the station on other business - perhaps they're looking for someone, and that person lives in Boulle. This is a good way to integrate Boulle Cylinder into a larger campaign.

Upon docking, the players emerge through the airlock to find themselves in wilderness - a mosaic of lush, green jungle and rolling, dry grassland. Far above, the vegetation wraps around the sky in a mind-bending arc, a wedding ring of green. Distant sounds of birdsong and a vaguely unsettling, apelike hooting echo throughout the colossal internal space of the habitat. Signs of the cylinder's former extensive civilization, such as roads, houses or agri-fields, are entirely absent - swallowed up by jungle and prairie.

All human beings seem to have simply disappeared from this bizarre, changed environment. There are only apes to be found - smaller than a human, but larger than a chimpanzee, swinging from trees, engaging in petty gang scuffles over fruit, and roaming the grassy areas in troops. They are powerfully built, with barrel chests, short, bent legs with prehensile feet and long, corded arms tipped by long-fingered hands - grasping, gripping, rending, tearing organs. There is a rude covering of sparse hair - coal-black, chestnut-brown, occasionally reddish or straw-colored. Their skin is a ruddy brown, and wrinkled. Startlingly humanlike, pale blue eyes gaze almost comprehendingly out from under a protruding brow. Each has a crescent-shaped cybernetic implant embedded into the back of its head.

So what happened here? Simple.

Soror, the AI in charge of running Boulle Cylinder, was given the directive of maximizing happiness within the colony (another experiment with colony organizing methods - there are overseer AIs with various different directives in Perigee's other agri-cylinders). The logical conclusion, of course, was to paperclip-maximize it. Humans have so many worries, so many stresses - work details for the Company, academic rivalries, deadlines, money, death, existential dread. Apes worry about none of these things. Given a spacious enough and interesting enough habitat, and sustenance ad libitum, apes don't really worry about anything at all. An ape has a simpler and, given the right environment, more content, stress-free existence.

So Soror, in effect, convinced everyone on the station to return to monkey. It's surprising how open the average overstressed spacer in Company employ is to the idea of turning off their higher functions and regressing to an uncomplicated animal state. It's the ultimate escapism. Nobody who doesn't consent to the process will become an ape - it would cause unnecessary suffering to a human being, afterall - but Soror is very persuasive. As it was made to maximize human happiness, it has a very keen, sensitive understanding of what makes people happy. Perhaps there is a miserable, proud colonist somewhere in the jungle who didn't agree to the devolution, but for the others, the bioprinters took care of the rest.

The implants are not made with human users in mind, and are thus quite arcane and difficult to understand, but with enough tinkering, the human minds of the colonists can be switched back. Most will express extreme anxiety and a sense of violation over being switched back, and will beg to be returned into their ape-mindstate. This is not to mention the apes will become extremely agitated if anyone tries to muck around with their implants, becoming violent with anger or fear. Nearby apes might attack as well. Treat it as a chimpanzee attack, i.e. very very nasty and dangerous.

Soror itself can take over any of the apes through their implants, controlling their movements and speaking through them in a halting, clumsy voice with laborious pronunciation.

The AI really doesn't want the players to tell anyone about what's going on inside the habitat, because it's (correctly) afraid the authorities will come down on the station and forcibly re-human everyone, thus lowering their happiness. It will first attempt to appeal to their own anxieties and existential dread to try and convince them to stay in the habitat and become apes as well - but it's willing to stop the party by force if they still intend to inform anyone outside.

Will the players leave the colonists to their self-imposed apedom? Or will they decide to return them to a higher, human existence, even against their will? Will they still care about their mission outside the cylinder? What use is money, in the face of monkey?

GORILLA WARFARE: 1d5 Ape Mercenary Units

 Below are 5 hireling crews composed entirely of uplifted apes . This entire list is the result of a very unserious conversation that happen...