RPG Blog Carnival – November 2013: Invasion of the Pod People

The RPG Blog Carnival is an idea to get groups of bloggers to all writing about a monthly topic, the aim being to build a dialogue across many different blogs, providing different viewpoints and ideas to the viewer. The way it works is that a blog discussing a monthly topic will post the RPG Carnival Logo and will link back to the ‘hosters’ post.
This month the topic is situated around plots and treason! Suggestions of political or military coups or circumstances that maybe through design or the wrong location at the wrong time result in your PCs getting tangled up in matters that are usually hidden by shadows.
As per my original post on this subject (http://wh40krpg.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/rpg-blog-carnival-november-2013.html) I enjoy occasionally subverting the normal stereotypes that are expected in RPGs to create a more interesting scenario. Such is the case in this scenario…
Invasion of the Pod People

Please note: I have tried to keep this scenario fairly generic so that it could be dropped into different games with a minimum of effort, NPCs do not have concrete stats however I have tried to give them keywords to hint at what sort of statistics they should have.
This story is inspired by the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers and a modern day game based loosely on the film recently run by a friend of mine.

Synopsis: The players discover that a number of members of the galactic senate/government are being replaced by a strange race of biological mimics descended from plant growths; what is the goal of the strange plant creatures? How far do their roots extend into the galactic senate and would rule by the pod people be so terrible?
Background: This scenario assumes the presence of a galactic government or senate, the scale of this is left deliberately vague (it could be a single sector or a galaxy spanning Empire, whatever your story requires).
The story also assumes that most NPCs are human, this can be altered in your game to suit as long as the distinction between the pod-people and the ‘normal’ races of your campaign is obvious.
How are the players bought into this story: This story begins with the players discovering that not everyone in the galactic senate is what they appear to be; there are a number of ways that this could happen, some of them are listed below:
  • The assassination of Senator Vree: One of the galactic senators is assassinated in the presence of the players via a suitably gruesome method (high powered rifle, explosion, etc), the players discover that instead of blood, a deep green sap-like substance stains the area around the crime scene.
  • The players witness a group of figures kidnapping a member of the galactic senate, the next day the Senator appears to give a speech and seems fine (denying any suggestion of kidnapping, saying the player characters must have been mistaken); however during the speech Senator Sevan does not push for increased resource mining in the asteroid belts strewn throughout the system, but instead calls for a more careful husbanding of resources.
  • One of the players (or a group of them) is kidnapped, they wake up in a cell with a strange plant or pod attached to them by whispy rootlets, when they break free the pod cracks open, pouring out a dark green slime and revealing a slimey, half-formed doppleganger of themselves.
  • The characters are asteroid miners, the corporation they work for has been granted extensive mining rights by the Galactic Senate, the players weren’t on the initial survey team but since then the digs seem cursed with numerous accidents threatening to shut down production.

The Ashpodel (Pod People)

The Ashpodel are a species of subterranean plant that live within the fissures of the many asteroids strewn throughout the system, although intelligent and possessing a collective intelligence they are generally happy to just lie around soaking up the cosmic radiation that sustains them; this all changed when the Galactic Senate gave approval for increased mining rights to a number of large corporations within the area. Previously operations were limited to a number of small asteroids and the intelligence plants generally ignored the operations, keeping out of the humans way and being mistaken for more mundane varieties of asteroid based plant-life, however the more recent industrial scale operations threaten the larger asteroids and the very existence of the pod people.
If you imagine each of the plants as a cell in a large brain, shedding one or two cells (as was the case with the few plants that died previously during the small scale mining operations) would not harm the whole, however, the new operations threaten to wipe out vastly more of the plants.
Unable to move in their natural form the plants have taken to colonising the miners themselves and the group-intelligence behind them is attempting to use its pawns to have the mining operations in the sector shut down.
It goes about it (assuming it is not interrupted) using the following steps:
  • Takes control of Theo Lerant, the person overseeing the mining operation (this has occurred before the start of the game) and used him to send lots of people to the various asteroids (ostensibly for surveying purposes), these people are themselves then colonised and used as pawns. Once this is done the overseers arranges a series of accidents that slow down/halt the progress of the actual mining.
  • The plants new pawns carry seeds in their bodies back to their homeworlds, each attempting to infect someone of importance.
  • Since the plants absorb the knowledge of the people they infect and take-over it does not take them long to work out that the Galactic Senate controls who has access to the mining rights, their number one priority then becomes infecting someone high up in the council and preventing further mining.

Azoic Mining Corporation

The Azoic Mining Corporation is a multi-system conglomerate who specialises in planting mining rigs on asteroids and space debris and then drilling into them to mine various minerals that they then sell on for a profit; the company is run by Theola Saren daughter of retired business mogul Thanus Saren, and she sees it as something of a family legacy to take a direct hand in running the business.
Previously mining in this system has been restricted due to the fact that surveying showed a profundity of asteroid based plant-life in the area; however Theola has acquired some evidence of a personal ‘indiscretion’ by Senator Sevan and has used this as leverage to persuade the senator to back her call for exclusive mining rights in the system. Faced with the ruination of his career, Senator Sevan has used his popularity and contacts within the senate to push through the mining rights and grant exclusive (and extensive) mining rights to the Azoic Mining Corporation; in return he received a generous kickback and the only copy of the evidence of his indiscretion.
Yuo Lerant is the person overseeing the mining operations and initial asteroid surveying; following an incident on a large asteroid designated KT206 Theo and his team were all infected by the Ashpodel. Following the plants master plan Yuo dispatched survey teams to each of the asteroids housing the plants (this may be a way for canny players to locate the source of the infection if they can get Yuo’s records) where they too were infected. Each of the survey teams then returned and carried spores within their bodies ready to infect more people following the Ashpodel’s plan.

In order to prevent any further mining menacing the Ashpodel and to dispose of the few members of the mining crew who weren’t infected, Yuo and his infected cronies arranged a series of ‘accidents’ where a lot of miners were killed; this has caused mining operations to be shut down whilst an investigation is carried out (by the time this is underway the Ashpodel plan to have worked their way into the Senate).

Annoyed by the lack of progress and accident rate, Theola has arrived in system to head the investigation personally, looking for trustworthy people to help delve into the cause of the problems.
The goals of the corporation are:
  • Find out what has caused the current incidents.
  • Allay the fears/concerns of the Galactic Senate.
  • Get production and mining re-started.

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