Here’s a quick rundown of what happened in the first playtest for Starship Commandos. For those not in the know, Starship Commandos has the PCs as specialized troops in the far future who utilize power armour. This is as much for my gaming group as for your entertainment, but I hope it sparks some curiosity and maybe some inspiration.
The PCs are attached to 121 MARSAT (Marine Special Armour and Tactics) with the 71st Fleet Special Purpose Force as part of the ground combat element of the 7th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the Command Support Vessel MARLOW. On anti-piracy patrol in the Tau Ceti system, the MARLOW is diverted to the Asterion system (Beta Canum Venaticorum) for a possible support to civilian authorities operation. LC-427 (also known as Logan’s Cross) has gone dark – no signals, no transmissions and they haven’t broadcast their no-fail signal for three days running.
On planetfall, the PCs learn that the MARLOW’s ARVs (autonomous reconnaissance vehicles) have all been neutralized by EMPs created through electro-static discharges (ESD). While it might be natural, it sure looks like a coordinated attack, and so MARSAT is sent down using landing pods (atmospheric entry person torpedoes) to secure a landing site. Further ESDs bar the use of landing craft, and so a follow-on security detachment is sent down also using landing pods. The site secure, MARSAT advances on the civic centre (city hall) to seek survivors.
On the way, MARSAT uncovers a collection of bones, lacking any tissue or garments, beneath a building that has a signals relay tower on it. Triangulating all known ESDs, the team traces the events to buildings with signals relay towers. Sending their own ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) assets, they discover more bone pits in the basements. Investigation uncovers biological residue very, very similar to native species similar in size to racoons and squirrels, however other information leads the team to believe the beasts that undertook the killing and eating ranged in size from a large tiger to a rhinoceros.
Further, short range sensors uncover a flow of energy beneath them. Scanning for further such flows, they plot them and expect they will intersect under the civic centre.
Reaching the civic centre, the team uncovers a mainframe and server centre beneath the building that is awash in glowing green goo. They also discover an area the size of an aircraft hanger beneath the building that is not identified on the blueprints. The lieutenant decides to lead MARSAT into the unknown area.
The unknown area turns out to be a laboratory with a bio-hazard containment area. Inside that area is a container of glowing green goo.
Sundown, and the xenomorphs come out to play. Sensors detect movement burrowing toward the building while the team’s ARVs witness an attack en masse on the landing site. The security detachment loses more than half its force before barricading in the terminus of the off-line orbital elevator and calling down an orbital bombardment, destroying the surrounding area.
MARSAT is trapped in a lab as the xenomorphs advance. A fight ensues during which a marine accidentally initiates an ESD which leads to an EMP shutting down the team’s power armour. At about the same time, a grenade is dropped. Blood, terror and lots of damage ensue for 30 seconds while the armour reboots, and then the team destroys the xenomorphs.
They are left out-of-breath, cut off, and more than a little nervous.
You can read more about Starship Commandos here.