From the Games I’ll Probably Never Get To Run file, here’s a little something I came up with for All Flesh Must Be Eaten a few years ago…
“In Space, no-one can hear you eat brains”
Time: The Future
Location: Deep Space, somewhere between Sol and Epsilon Eridani
Yeah baby, we’re talking the future, starships and all. When the Tembler Drive was discovered in 2105, everyone thought the stars would be ours. Turns out that even though the drive can get a ship up over the speed of light and into hyperspace, it still takes months to get to any planet worth visiting. What’s more, the damn drives are expensive, and the only economical way to use them is to build them into huge ships so you can shift as much material as possible in one go. For most folks, this means being stuffed into a hypersleep capsule, chilled down to just above abosolute zero, and stacked in the hold like kindling. Of course, some folks always want to travel first class.
Hence the TUS Titan, a starship over a mile long and quarter of a mile deep. Titan is currently carrying a “colony-in-a-bottle”, a self-assembling city and about a million people to willing populate it, desperate to escape Earth and the seething mass of war and disease it has become. Of course, that million are travelling low-berths, as human popsicles, but that’s okay. Nothing’s going to happen to them, right?
First class on this ship is a dream. The super rich (and the crew, when the rich aren’t around) have the run of a vast entertainment complex, full of parks, pools, ski-slopes, dance-halls and sundry other places. The place is so big that the crew and passengers use little buggies to tool around the corridors. The plants in the parks will become part of the new colony’s ecology at journey’s end, but the rest of the upper decks are pure pleasure, to keep the super-rich from making too much trouble during the trip. Could be almost pleasent, but for one tiny problem. Something went wrong with the computer running life support for the low berths, and one million people just died. What’s worse, they died in hyperspace, and that’s simply never happened to a human before. What the first-class passengers and crew of the Terran Union Ship Titan are about to find out is that hyperspace isn’t empty. It’s full of etherial energy beings, hungry for the world of matter, just waiting for a vessel into which they can pour their essence. And they’ve just found a rapidly warming source of them.
There are about 25 crew on board, 14 “flight attendants” (pretty but dumb sex toys), and 25 first class passengers. Players could either be the ultra-rich, ultra spoiled passengers, or the tired and cynical crew. Does the billionaire have a team of bodyguards? Has the corporate princess learned how to shoot a gun? Is the Rollerball champion up to the game of his life? Populate the NPC’s with the usual aray of disaster movie characters, including a fair spread of despicable backstabbers, cowards, corporate lackeys and airheads, and season to taste. The crew has some small arms, locked in a locker to which only the Captain and First Mate have keys (having these two stalwarts die early, and then forcing the cast to hunt down these two zombies and retrieve the keys would of course, be just plain mean…but fun). The amount of re-animated corpsicles that can get out is limited by their position in the hold and the number of doors they can open, (and possibly by the power of the creatures animating them) and the ship is so large that they’ll take a while to find the fresh meat (unless you want to equip them with “Life Sense”, in which case the running and screaming will start a whole lot faster).
The cast have a number of options. They’re still at least two months out when the turds hit the torus, and with a million hungry dead on board, sitting tight really isn’t a survival tactic. The ship has two shuttles below the engine decks, with room for 10 passengers each and life-support enough to get them to safety, though they’ll need to be fuelled and loaded with supplies. There are life pods aplenty, but they just happen to be close to the entrances to the low berths, so using them might be difficult (and of course, they might not be entirely empty – the broadcast shrieks of someone who ejects to find himself trapped in a very small space with a very hungry dead thing might well serve to discourage this line of escape). Sadly, either option is impossible without dropping the ship back into normal space, and with the Captain and First Mate dead, the ship is going to stay on auto-pilot unless the engines are destroyed. Smart cast members might want to eject the low berths into hyperspace, but there are still enough dead already in the passenger decks to cause problems, and the idea of space-walking zombies clinging to the hull and clawing their way back in somewhere else has a certain undeniable appeal.
Additional complications could include the possibility that the energy beings animating the dead are getting smarter. By consuming the brians of the living, they’re absorbing knowledge, and a small handful are becoming strategic thinkers. Also, the dead may well have gotten into the vent system, meaning they could be anywhere on board ship. The ships computer may also become a problem, as its programming won’t allow harm to come to the passengers or crew. Unfortunately, the glitch that killed the lower berths means that it can’t now tell the difference between live passengers and dead ones, so blowing airlocks and flushing the dead into space becomes a whole lot harder (it won’t allow corpses to be flushed or incinerated either). Should the cast eventually succeed, the trauma of breaking its programming might just drive the computer insane. Truly nasty GM’s might consider having the cast arrive at the shuttles to find that they need the palm print of a senior crewmember, like the Captain or First Mate, before they’ll power up. Very few GM’s worth their salt will be able to resist the urge to force the characters into hunting an undead senior officer so that they can us his or her hand to get them out of there.
Of course, if the colony finds out they’ve got a ship of the hungry dead coming their way, they might just blow it up, whether the cast are off or not.
The Zombies of Hyperspace
Hyperspace Zombies are “Slow and Steady” due to their recent emergence from hypersleep. As they warm up, they’ll get faster, becoming “Life-Like” and eventually the “Quick Dead” as the creatures possessing them get used to their new vessels. Strength wise, they start out “Strong like Bull”, but don’t get much stronger once they’ve warmed up. Due to the drying effect of being chilled without life-support, these withered creatures are damage resistant. Their sense are like the dead, but the creatures within them could have Life Sense, if the GM feels like losing some friends, or possibly infra-vision. The creatures need to feed daily, and while they’ll eat anything alive, they just love brains. Hyperzombies start out dumb as dead wood, but get smarter with every brain they eat (Wicked GM’s might want to use the option that the dead are all being animated by a single creature, so whenever they eat a brain, they all get smarter), and can rapidly become smarter than the crew. Anyone who dies on the ship while it’s in hyperspace, be it at the hands of a zombie or not, will re-animate in about an hour. For added fun and games, the hyperzombies could have a Chilling Touch attack, where their flesh is still so cold from hypersleep that it cause burns on those they touch. Weakness are up to the individual GM, but I’d make them able to animate severed limbs until the brain is destroyed.
GM’s should think “Event Horizon”, “Alien”, “Supernova” and “Titanic” for this one. A masterplan of the upper decks might help, but isn’t essential. They should have a few key locations planned out before hand however.
A final thought. With the slow rise in temperature in the low berths, several compartments have become clogged with liquified flesh from the rapidly decaying corpses of the first sleepers to die. Wouldn’t it be kind of neat to have the cast find out that that huge pool of stinking goop is animated too? 🙂