Last update: Fri. May 13 2005
This short-term horror campaign, or dangerous incident in the middle of a larger game, begins when count, hundreds, or thousands of automata appear more or less simultaneously. There could be many explanations for this: it could be the result of a "bug" or (computer) virus, or perhaps it is just that "sapient" robots find enough courage to organize and rebel. It probably reflects some routine of machines, or at least, one mad scientist's scheme.
This campaign's setting is very flexible. With little adjustment, automata could be substituted for rebellious troops, wild animals, or zombies. The PCs, involved by accident, simply fight for survival, or find the way to make peace with the enemy.
The game should describe machines as horribly dangerous and unrelentingly hostile foes, while drawing on modern horror movies for their tactics. They should erupt from the earth or from hiding places at the worst possible moments, and attack until they are hacked to pieces or a truce is made. Obviously, if the adventurers have the slightest chance of survival, each individual should be fairly weak.
The campaign can end with either the group reaching safety, or discovering the cause of the incident and a solution.
Plunder the Powder
In Shigan, the Gunpowder Guild governs anything about explosives and guns. Non-Guild members may buy, possess, and fire single-shot or semi-automatic guns, but cannot understand the mechanics and repair a simple jam. (In game terms, non-Guild members may not attempt default rolls against Armoury (Guns) and Explosives.) They have to put out troubled guns to members, wait for Weeks, and pay much (about 40% of the gun's cost). This campaign is for ones who need the exception.
In this setting, PCs are members of the Gunpowder Guild -knowledge is required to custom or to invent new guns- but have low status in the Guild. In game terms, all PCs have features written below: Duty (9 or less, non-hazardous), Status 1 and Wealth (Wealthy) (total 20 points). The members also have Armoury (Guns), Explosives and Guns skills and can make or repair guns which TL is 6 or lower. The mechanics of higher TLs are kept in secrecy by members at high status, and High Technology (Only for explosives or guns, -20%) [4 points/level] is needed. So they have to find how to make improved explosives or new guns to raise their status, but it is very difficult (-14 to appropriate roll). (To "buy" the status and the secret is almost impossible.) That is why the group cheats the knowledge.
In general, stealing from other members is the worst way -the Gunpowder Guild (a very powerful organization with special equipments) becomes an enemy-, but there is an exception. The Gunpowder Guild says nothing about in "hunting" the members in the enemy forces, because the Guild keeps neutrality in most wars. So the PCs (or rivals) become volunteers and fight for new gadgets. Even a single shot of new guns gives bonus (+2) to invention, and a gun in perfect condition may give enough knowledge to understand the great secret of the Guild.
When the PCs get enough knowledge about the explosives and guns, the campaign can end with either the members reaching the top of the Guild, or opening the very secret of the Guild and crumbling the hierarchy.
In this setting, ÷sish humans are dominant beings, and "farm" other nonhuman races (most of them are sapient) as slaves and even food! (Other humans are treated as the "second citizen" and governed by ÷sis Empire.) ÷sish hunting parties using advanced technology (late TL 6) and superior tactics culled the "aliens" that made their lairs in —ona. ÷sish society is highly stratified. Etiquette and status are complicated and important, and ÷sish rulers (the emperor and aristocrats) show an intensively vicious streak.
Once, civilizations flourished on —ona, and four kingdoms -AÁade, Kšles, ÷sis and TŤs- adorned the whole continent. But time changes everything. Immediately after the new king succeeded to the crown, he invaded the other three countries. (The Gunpowder Guild declared neutrality.) The kingdoms fought competently, but ÷sish forces overwhelmed them. (÷sis had used nuclear bombs and missiles.)
After the war on —ona, the ÷sish king enthroned himself to emperor, and truly human-centered laws enforced order. Now a couple of Ding Year has passed from the enthronement, and a tide of resentment rises, especially since the imperial government shows no signs of failing or retiring. Even the docile slave races, if secretly tutored, might find their courage to organize and rebel. People who wish to exploit this possibility do so in great secrecy, because punishments meted out by the empire for sedition are cruel and intensive.
In this campaign, PCs are rebels -either from among the oppressed, or within the crumbling hierarchy of the rulers. By only using GURPS Lite , PCs can only choose human beings, but a game master with full GURPS may allow PCs to be some exotic nonhumans.