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Oil and Trouble
This is a game module Biff! Bam! Pow!. It is intended for four (4) to six (6) characters level one (1) through three (3). It has been used frequently as an introductory module for new players, and suits this purpose quite well. The module may not be well suited for use with other super-heroic games, particularly those with slow combat systems, due to the time needed to properly explore the plot.
You may either draw your own maps or use the ones provided here. There are three main maps, with a possible fourth one. These are:
The oil tanker has four sections. They are the deck, crew's quarters, the bridge, and the engine room. The deck is simply a huge, long oval, pointed at one end. Draw in a small square near the bow to represent pumping equipment and loading winches. About 2/3 of the way back, draw a rectangle to represent the crew's quarters, with the bridge on top. At the back, draw another set of pumps, and a small rectangle representing the engine room, which is below decks. Draw three "X"s along each edge of the deck, spaced evenly along the length, to represent access points to the storage area of the ship.
The crew's quarters are divided lengthwise by a passageway. There is a door at the rear that lets into this passage. Near the front, there is a cross passage with doors at each end, opening out onto the deck. The forward section of the long passage is actually a ladder/stairs to the bridge. Forward of the cross passage are the captain's quarters (right) and a cabin shared by the first mate and the navigator (left). Along the left side, front to back, are: The galley (kitchen), the mess hall, and the infirmary. Front to back, on the right side are three bunk rooms for the crew. There are six bunks per room. The third room is larger, and includes access to a shower area and washroom.
The bridge is smaller than the crew's quarters, and sits directly above them. It is divided into two rooms: The pilot's station is in the front, and can be accessed by the stairs from below, or either of two doors (left and right) that open onto a walkway around the bridge, and ladders down to the deck. The front is all glass, and there is a ship's wheel and engine semaphore set, as well as a radar and sonar station. Behind the pilot's station is navigation and communication, which can only be accessed from the pilot's station. There is a large table in here for spreading charts.
The engine room contains two huge diesel engines, a semi-soundproof office, and racks of tools, as well as a small machine shop.
The oil storage facility is very simple. Large circular tanks, with pump and valve controls at a station centered between each set of four. That's the whole thing.
The oil field is equally simple. There is a great empty plain, with short pumping stations scattered across it. There are additional buildings that house steam heaters near each pump.
Also remember to review all the villain sheets before you run this. There are some tricks to the two main villains, Gemini and Speed Merchant, and they will be outnumbered at times, so read these and prepare.
Starting the Adventure
Referee: Read the following news items to the players, as if they were hearing about them over the radio or television. Some of these are leads to the main plot. Others were included to give the text a newspaper-like feel. Feel free to invent scenes for these as you see fit.
A college initiation prank went sour today, and a young man is in the hospital as a result. He was pulled out of a wrecked van that he had stolen, and is suffering from shock and multiple lacerations. He lost control of the van when he noticed the other passenger: A full grown male lion. The lion belongs to the van owner, who occasionally rents him out for commercials. The young joy-rider is quoted as saying "I'll never do anything like this again without checking the van first!"
Designer Genes, the recombinant DNA laboratory, was broken into last night. There was considerable damage, though there is little missing. Fundamentalist religious slogans were spray painted on the walls and doors inside. Police are treating this as a hate crime.
Also in the news tonight, the hijacking at sea of the Shill Oil super-tanker Starfish continues. The ship was seized a few hours ago by an un-named group of terrorists, who are threatening to blow it up and spill millions of gallons of crude oil onto the coastline. Shill representatives have been in contact with the terrorists, who are asking for $10 million, a reformation of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, and an end to the use of animals in laboratory experiments. The deadline for these demands is noon tomorrow. A scheduled meeting of the OPEC nations has been postponed for 10 days, due to the military tensions in the area, and fear of terrorism.
This weekend will be highlighted by a display of many rare and interesting coins, taking place at the Convention Center. The show will feature a television auction of gold and jewelry recovered from an ancient Spanish treasure ship. The proceeds will go to benefit charity.
REFEREE: Give the players a few moments to think about these bits of news, then ask them to decide which, if any, of the news items they wish to follow up on. The hijacking is the major part of this adventure, but the break in at Designer Genes is included at the back (and actually involves the hijacking). The coin show and auction refers to a second scenario entitled "Change", which will be posted at a later date (or you could write your own). The theft of the van and the OPEC meeting are there just for fun, to give it a bit of flavor. Of course, if you want to make up an adventure to go with these stories, feel free.
The Hijacking - Preliminary
If the team gets in contact with the Coast Guard, they will be referred to Shill Petroleum security. The ship is out of US territorial waters, so the Coast Guard has no jurisdiction. When the team contacts Shill Petroleum, they will be put in touch with Mr. Watkins, who is head of security. Role play the encounter, and make the players ask questions, in character. Have Watkins negotiate a bit on rewards, but ultimately give them the full information that follows:
Play Mr. Watkins as a business man: A bit hard nosed, but the kind of man who knows when to call in the experts.
A bit of advance warning for the Referee: This first part is so simple that it is almost impossible for the players to fail. The biggest problem you will have with it is getting them to agree on a plan, and actually start executing it. Let them plan things or a bit, but don't be afraid to prompt them into motion, or even force them to begin action by telling them that the night is passing while they make plans.
Part One - Oil
REFEREE: Lay out Map 1, which shows the oil tanker.
If the players want to go to the engineering section, towards the rear of the boat, they can cut the electrical power to the bridge and crew areas, but this will cost them the element of surprise, and will gain them little. The catwalks to the bombs can be accessed from there, as well as through the hatches marked with "X"s on the deck.
There are a few special notes for the Referee: The ship is moving at about 20 MPH, so Teleporting or D-Dooring onto the ship from shore will require a DEX Save on 4 D6 to avoid stumbling and falling. Teleporting around on board is no problem; it's just when you first land. Also note that the ship's deck and running lights are on, making the ship easily visible for quite a distance. This will also make anyone on deck pretty easy to see. Note that if either of the drunk men (Area B) is shot with a knockout dart, they will die (alcohol and tranquilizers don't mix).
Interlude Referee: The player characters will want to know about Gemini. As always, his alibi is perfect. He was filming a segment for a morning talk show in which he is pushing his new book, "Justice vs. the Law". There are dozens of witnesses who can swear that he was not at the tanker during the battle.
Part II - Trouble
You have had a few days to recover from the hijacking, enjoy your fame, and spend the $10,000 reward you received. The press has been good to you, and all seems to be well with the world. Until you got the message that Mr. Watkins wants to talk to you. He said "There's a problem. Do you remember hearing about a break in at Designer Genes a few days ago? Well, they were working on a special project for us: A special algae that eats crude oil, leaving only biodegradable waste behind. It was supposed to be used to clean up oil spills. It was stolen, and all the notes were destroyed. Whoever took it infected the oil in the tanker with it, so when we pumped the oil you recovered into the storage facility, it contaminated the fuel supply for most of this part of the country. Even the reserve storage area is being infected, and we can't seem to find out how it is happening. Now, we understand that this isn't your fault. You couldn't have known that the entire hijacking was a setup, that they only wanted to give the algae time to spread inside the tanker. We know it isn't your fault. Nobody could consider it your fault . . . But, darn it, it's your fault. Do something!"
REFEREE: Again, the following information is available:
REFEREE: Lay out Map 2, the Single Hill Storage Facility. If you are using miniatures, empty soda cans work well as oil tanks, as do inverted paper cups. This helps players visualize them as more than just circles on paper. (Besides, they are probably cluttering up the table by now anyway). Map 2 is very simple, but you can expand it as much as you choose. If anyone asks why the map is so small, simply say that this is typical of the facility, and is enough for the game. The facility is actually quite a bit larger.
REFEREE: Ask the players what they are doing. Some will say they are flying around, some may be at the main office, some may disguise themselves as workers, whatever. It doesn't matter. After they have decided where they are, ask any who are flying or who have any superior senses to make an Intelligence Save on 4 D6, counting in any Detective Work skills they may have. Someone will make it. Tell them that they see a couple of men who don't seem to belong. One is climbing the stairs on an oil tank, while the other waits at the bottom. Both are dressed in company coveralls, but theirs are noticeably cleaner than most, and the one at the bottom of the stairs is smoking.
Place them at tank A, the full tank. Give the team the initiative, but keep the man at the bottom of the stairs alive and functional: This is Gemini, the super-villain, and he is setting up a death trap. His force field is on, because he fully expected to get caught here. After a shot or two has been fired, have him "panic" and run to tank B, the empty one, and dive through the access panel. The remaining man, Martin, will draw his pistol and start to run. He will shoot at any flying heroes he sees, but will otherwise hold his fire, not wanting a stray shot to hit a tank. He does not know that his partner was Gemini. If he is still conscious when taken, he will cooperate very little.
For those who follow Gemini into the tank, they will find it empty (he Teleported away). There is, however, a folded piece of note paper attached to the wall next to the door. If anyone takes it down and reads it, it says: "If you are reading this, then it means that you have foiled my plans a second time. Curses on you! It also means that you have broken a seven-second delay fuse. Curses on me. Bang! You're dead. Love, Gemini" As soon as you finish reading them the message, say (in a loud voice) "The door slams shut! The room is suddenly pitch black. Make a Save vs DEX on 3 D6, to see if you have time to do anything"
REFEREE: It doesn't matter whether they make the Save or not. Nothing else is going to happen in there unless the players do it. There is no bomb, or diabolical device of any sort. What is there is a hero, feeling more than a bit of panic (if you've played it right). If this character lets loose with just about any power that involves flames or explosions, including Flame Attack or Defense, Laser Attack, Lightning Attack, Pulse Bolts, Plasma Blast, or any other power that has similar special effects, the fumes inside the tank will explode, doing 5 D20 of flame damage, and another 5 D20 of physical concussion. Treat this as an explosion, for anyone standing nearby. If the character Teleports out, does his/her Teleport have the ever popular "Bam" sound, with the flash of fire. Is there a jet pack in use? Did someone outside try to cut or blast their way in? Keep an open mind, 'cause this stuff isn't just flammable, it's explosive! It is possible that someone will die in here, but feel free to save their life if you like. They should be in bad shape if they survive. This encounter's purpose in the game is not to kill anyone (though Gemini intended it to), but to get the players personally angry at Gemini, who is the one using and playing with them. Personal vendettas help get the players involved, and make the game more exciting.
Martin, the man they caught, knows that Gemini is heading for Drillhead 17, and plans to inject the bacteria directly into the underground oil pool on Alaska's north slope oil fields. He is being paid a fortune by a Middle Eastern group to make America dependent on Arab oil again. Destroying the Alaskan oil fields would do this. If Martin is dead, or unable to speak, then it is up to the players to figure out what is happening and where. Martin had in his pocket:
Referee: There are many ways the player characters can reach the Alaskan north slope oil fields. Someone may have a Dimension Door, or their own private plane or spaceship. Someone may have Teleport, with the Long Range Teleport skill that can get them there. If they decide to take the flight marked on the thug's ticket, you can add role-playing encounters. Will that suit of power armor, or the laser sword pass through a metal detector at the airport? My original run of this adventure included a bomb on the flight, since Gemini fully expected the thug to get caught at the Refinery.
Once they reach Alaska, they will need to get to the north slope fields (the commercial airline doesn't go there). If they get a map from Shill Petroleum, they should have no trouble getting there under their own power, or they can charter a small plane.
Break out the Oil Field map.
The field is spotted with pump clusters like the one shown. There is a steam unit, with a fuel tank and a water tank, set in each cluster. Steam lines run from this unit to each of the nearby pumps. The entire map covers an area of a little less than 100 yards.
Gemini is at the steam unit, with a mechanic, turning down the heat. Normally, the unit sends steam down each well to make the oil pumpable. At normal arctic temperatures its consistency is somewhere between tar and concrete. It has to be heated in order to flow.
The second Gemini (Yes, there are two of him), is at one of the well head pumps. Pick one you like. He is planning to add the Algae to the injection system, thus infecting the entire field. He has to wait until the injector drops below the boiling point, or else it will kill the algae. This gives the team time to stop the villains. If the PCs fail, they may still be able to stop the plan by re-heating the steam unit, and killing the injected algae with heat. If all else fails, they can try blowing up the infected well. It wouldn't work in the real world, but big explosions solve everything in the comic books.
Gemini #2 has Speed Merchant with him, and several thugs. The exact number is up to you. Make it a fair fight, but one the PCs can win.
Thugs have normal human stats, are armed with rifles, and have 2 Marksmanship skills with their guns. They get three attacks a round, without penalties, but are Defense Class 10. Give them 60 or so Vitality, and make them a bit slow, due to snow gear.
Note that if one Gemini goes down, the other will IMMEDIATELY teleport over to him, and take him away. The party only needs to defeat one of them.
Have fun . . .
Characters: Gemini is a well known supervillain, who also happens to be a best-selling author. His chrome power armor and bright-red cape are often seen at book signings, and his lightning blasts have been known to totally incinerate opponents. He is considered the single biggest thorn in the side of law enforcement. These things are well known facts. And most of these "facts" are wrong. Read on . . .
Gemini is possibly the most frustrating criminal the police have had to deal with to date. It is a well-known fact that he is behind dozens of robberies, and is often seen committing them. The police have had no problem finding him, since he makes very little attempt to hide his whereabouts. The frustrating thing is that they have never been able to make a charge stick. He always has an alibi so tight it can't be broken. And what's worse, he writes about the crimes, detailing the mistakes that the police make in their investigations, and how he was "unjustly accused". He was seen directing a team of men at the hijacking of a gold shipment last year, and got away with nearly a million dollars in loot. Unfortunately, there is a judge who will testify that Gemini was in traffic court that day, fighting a traffic ticket (and winning) at the exact time the crime was going down. During a book signing last year, an unidentified man pulled a gun and fired at Gemini, at point blank range. Gemini's lightning bolt in response completely incinerated the man. The police wanted to arrest and prosecute, but it was obviously a case of self defense.
Now, the description of his powers given here doesn't match the character sheet, and that's OK. Gemini is a fraud. He wears a suit of chrome body armor, which he has claimed to be power armor. It isn't. He uses holographic illusions to make it appear that he is throwing lightning, when he is really using a laser. The man he " incinerated" never existed. He was also an illusion, and the whole scene was a publicity stunt to promote his book, and the idea that his attack was devastatingly powerful. It isn't. Gemini has another secret. The key to his success is that he has a twin brother, who has the same powers, and an identical costume. What is amazing is that players will hear his name, and his string of "perfect" alibis, and never connect these things to the idea that there might be two of him . . . Now you may note that the sheet doesn't list his level. This is intentional. You, the Referee, should adjust his level to be 3 or 4 levels higher than the group average. Calculate his Vitality score by taking 65, and adding 10 points per level.
Speed Merchant: Speed Merchant is a villainous take-off on a popular comic book here. I am not supposed to mention his name her, but he is as fast as a flash of lightning.
Speed Merchant's "Teleport" has the Special Effect that it looks like super-speed running. He can be attacked in mid-teleport, and he can attack in mid-teleport. He can use his "normal" Super Speed to move at up to 320 miles per hour. When he adds the teleport, he accelerates to any speed he likes, up to the speed of light. He can pass through solid objects, as a "blind teleport", can run on ice, or water, or can run up a wall. If he runs into something during such a teleport-aided sprint, treat it just as if another teleporter had materialized inside a solid object.
His Martial Arts is simply a talent for punching, very fast. He throws two punches, or kicks, or whatever, where anyone else would have thrown one. Thus the double damage. This is special effect only, of course. Anyone with Martial Arts power does double their normal hand to hand damage. This simply explains why.
Because of his speed-related skills, Speed Merchant can take up to 7 actions without any multiple action penalty. If he calls all 8 actions (which is a LOT), he does them all at a one point penalty. His Martial Arts and Super Speed combine to give him an Initiative bonus of +4 per level of his character, to a maximum of +12. Expect him to move first.