Excerpts Archive | 1/17/2011
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Welcome to Moon Zone 9
Legion of Gold Excerpts

For DMs, Gamma World’s Legion of Gold boxed set provides information you can use to run D&D Gamma World adventures on the Moon. You can also adapt Moon Zone 9 for Earth-based adventures by treating it as a military base or self-contained ecosystem built by scientists for some ennobling purpose.

Moon Zone 9 is an exotic locale for D&D Gamma World adventurers, and Tranquility, a town located in the region, can serve as a base for the characters when they’re not fighting star slime and gray invaders. In Tranquility, the characters can bunk for the night, barter with merchants, meet with contacts, pick up rumors in taverns, buy and sell equipment, and so on.

The Moon Zone 9 section details the area around Tranquility—a thinly settled frontier moonscape dotted with failed bases, alien ruins, and lost outposts. Game Masters can use the described locations as seeds for further adventures or as interesting backdrops for the adventure in Chapter 4.

Welcome to Moon Zone 9

The area known as Moon Zone 9 features a handful of safe bases and independent freeholds, as well as a large town named Tranquility. In addition, the zone harbors a scatter of abandoned outposts and habitats, a few remnants of Apollo lunar landers, scientific stations, failed colonies, and crystalline ruins attributed to ancient astronauts.

One common threat to the entire area is a thriving community of bandits who cross the rocky plains in sputtering transports that roll on large tires. These raiders target small bases, freeholds, and the traffic that moves between such locations.

For those who know how to avoid the bandits, the marked roads are reasonably safe, assuming a traveler is wearing a functioning moon suit or riding in a moon buggy with a sealed cockpit. Overland travel, whether on the relatively flat plain or up in the craters that border the Skyshear Mountains, is inevitably more dangerous. Even after taking roaming bandits, weird plants, and vicious creatures out of the equation, the tortured terrain has a way of surprising people, and not in a good way.

Moon Zone 9 Locations

Several locations of interest are marked on the map below. We’ve detailed a few (but not all) in this preview:

Armstrong Ruins

In one worldline, an Ancient named Armstrong stepped out of a lunar lander on this spot and made history. Due to the location’s significance, a science station and stopover were built around the landing site. Visitors were allowed into the central dome to gaze upon footprints, a flag, a lander base, and other preserved oddities.

A particularly nasty moonquake some years back shattered the dome and killed the research staff. A colony of space eels moved in, and everyone who’s tried to reclaim the site—now known as Armstrong Ruins—has been eaten.

Atlas Crater

Long ago, a research station was poised on the inner lip of this crater, and an enormous dome was being constructed to seal off the crater for terraforming. The project was abandoned before completion, and the ruins of the massive endeavor stood empty for decades. Bandits have taken over the old station, using it as a base for their attacks on travelers who use Hypathia Road to move between Moon Zone 9 and the Barrens. The bandit leaders are twin cyborg saurians named Clash and Splatter.

The saurians have a secret deal with Narton, the owner of the Heinlein House in Tranquility. Narton provides some of his guests with itineraries that lead them straight into the clutches of the bandits, who loot the victims and send kickback s to Heinlein House.

Eye of God Crater

Something struck the Moon’s surface during the Big Mistake, something that set Moon Zone 9 ringing like a gong and destroyed many protective domes. Whatever came down was highly radioactive, and a century and a half later, the radiation around the Eye of God crater remains so severe that no one has been able to get close enough to see what, if anything, survived the original impact. But when the sun shines just right, a golden capsule in the center of the crater is sometimes visible to observers who venture to the edge of the radiation ring.

Lake Darwin

The purple liquid that fills this irregular crater (and spills over to form the small river that runs through Tranquility) is nanofiber, which flows like water but is a poor substitute for the real thing. Nanofiber is corrosive, so most craft that attempt to navigate it sink, and anyone who drinks the stuff flails around a bit and shout s nonsense as his or her brain starts to die.

What exactly is nanofiber? Each particle is microscopic and, according to the rants of a freeholder named Agon, possesses latent machine intelligence. Agon claims that the Big Mistake roused an ancient entity that had been petrified at the center of the Moon, and that the fluid bubbling to the surface is the waste produced as the machine grinds toward full operational competence. According to Agon, when that happens some years hence, the Moon and Gamma Terra will be in deep trouble.

Then again, Agon is an old drunk who lives by himself in a bubble shack. Word is that his “famous” s weetkane rum is actually distilled nanofiber. If that’s true, anyone who shares a drink with him is asking for brain damage. For the terrain effects of nanofiber, see page 92.

Void Temple

The Void Temple is an abandoned science station that was originally set up to study the crystalline alien ruins known as the Glass Ring. A few decades ago, an infection wiped out the scientists, leaving behind corpses covered in fungus that eventually gave rise to a colony of urds—fungal creatures that thrive in the atmosphere of Moon Zone 9. Today, the station is quiet, the roof is gone, and urds haunt the halls of the complex, silently wondering what’s missing in their lives. Everyone in Moon Zone 9 stays clear of the Void Temple, not wanting to risk infection.

Welcome to Tranquility

Tranquility is the best-known town on the Moon, although most people on Gamma Terra have no idea that it exists. Cut off from the planet’s ready resources, the town has learned to provide for itself. The Moon’s harsh environment has made Tranquility the largest local population center and a favorite destination of travelers, traders, and freeholders looking for a break from their meager single-family domes. Moon Zone 9, the area around Tranquility, is a patchwork of barren regolith, moon dust dunes, weird plants, and too many other strange things. Those on the Moon who lack useful skills find themselves at the short end of an oxygen hose, but in Tranquility, they can find odd jobs as physical laborers.

Tranquility has set aside a Garden Dome for growing foodstuffs, and it also enjoys the literal fruits of trade with freeholders who grow exotic plants such as apples and heirloom tomatoes. Each dome has its own oxyforge, which cracks life-sustaining air from the regolith in a process that only a few engineering types truly understand.

Tranquility’s Story

Originally, Tranquility was a military station that encompassed twelve connected domes. In the upheaval and war that was par t and parcel of the Big Mistake, a quarter of the domes ruptured. In the chaos that followed the catastrophe, another three domes shattered.

In 30 ABM (year 30 After the Big Mistake), a military engineer named Humboldt finally brought a semblance of order to the station, which he renamed Tranquility. In the decades since, Tranquility has been transformed from a shattered military base into a self-sufficient and prosperous town. A large portion of the population consist s of descendants of the original military staff, plus surviving scientists and astronauts from prior explorations of the Moon.

That said, not ever y thing is tranquil in Tranquility. Moonquakes are on the rise, as are reports of attacks by dangerous beasts. Stories about insane AIs and alien invaders marshaling an army out on the plains are making Humboldt paranoid. In addition, because the Lord Engineer ’s consciousness has been preserved a century past its sell-by date, Humboldt’s reputation for fairness is slowly giving way to a reputation for being erratic and arbitrary.

Tranquility Locations

Tranquility has six neighborhoods, each enclosed within a separate dome linked to the others by tunnels and airlocks. The domes and connections are composed of a crystalline substance called glassteel, which can be shattered only by a catastrophic discharge of energy. Patrolbots routinely monitor the city’s exterior, keeping an eye out for odd activity around the domes.

Going clockwise, starting with the dome filled with plants, the town has the Garden Dome, the Big Dome, Winter, Ashtown, Middleway, and the Bot Factory.

We’ve described a few (but not all) of Tranquility’s other locations in this preview:

1. Ashtown Lock

The difference in pressure between the interior of the domes and the exterior means that people must use airlocks to enter and leave Tranquility. The Ashtown Lock is the most heavily traveled airlock in the town, because it’s used daily by residents who work the nearby quarry. The airlock consists of inner and outer doors of titanium alloy that enclose a cavity large enough to hold a moon tractor or two. Cycling the pressure up or down in the central cavity, depending on whether a traveler is entering or leaving the city, takes a few minutes.

Outside the Ashtown Lock is an open-air fortification that houses a computer station for external control of the airlock. Three members of the town militia in form-fitting moon suits and a patrolbot named Quarrel staff the fortification. Frequent travelers have learned not to antagonize the bot—its programming is partly fried, so it has become argumentative and squabbles over minor details of airlock protocol.

7. Wrestler’s Pit

Quarry workers on the Moon are a burly lot, and they enjoy pounding blue juice—a general term for alcoholic spirits distilled from rutabagas. After a little too much of the stuff, the workers have been known to pick fights. The Wrestler’s Pit tries to channel this excess energy into spectacles that are less likely to call down the wrath of Humboldt ’s patrolbots. As a fun sideline, the matches also give people a chance to wager on their favorite brawlers.

The current champion of the pit is Darlin Stymes. Whoever c an defeat him and take his crown in one-on- one fisticuffs will earn a free day at the stylish Silver Dust Spa and Vitamin D Infusatory.

Darlin Stymes
Level 11 Brute
Medium natural humanoid, human
XP 600
HP 136; Bloodied 68 Initiative +7
AC 23, Fortitude 24, Reflex 22, Will 22 Perception +7
Speed 6
Traits
Aura Brawler’s Bravado (psychic)Aura 1
Any enemy within the aura gains vulnerable 5 to all damage.
Standard Actions
Melee Haymaker (physical)At-Will
Attack: Melee 1 (one creature); +16 vs. AC
Hit: 3d10 + 7 physical damage.
Melee Uppercut (physical)Recharge456
Attack: Melee 1 (one creature); +16 vs. AC
Hit: 2d10 + 7 physical damage, and the target falls prone and is dazed until the end of Darlin’s next turn.
Skills Athletics +14, Interaction +11
Str 18 (+9)
Dex 14 (+7)
Wis 15 (+7)
Con 16 (+8)
Int 10 (+5)
Cha 12 (+6)

9. Heinlein House

This inn stands out among Tranquility’s habitats thanks to its façade, which look s like Ancient-style brick and timber but is actually moonrock and dyed blue frond. Freeholders and traders from many zones know of Heinlein House and compete for the few rooms available. A side from its comfortable accommodations, the inn has a spacious tavern in which genuine Ancient books line one wall. (As historical curiosities, the books have been sealed behind a transparent sheet of Eternabond; only the spines are readable.)

Narton, a pure-strain human, runs Heinlein House. He seems like a gracious and lively host. One of the current guests, an android named Sir Scarborough, claims to hail from a dome town called Promontorium in Moon Zone 13. No one in Tranquility has ever heard of Promontorium; Sir Scarborough says that the dome was destroyed by the accidental detonation of a remnant suitcase nuke. The android hints that great wealth, in the form of Omega Tech artifacts, still lies amid the ruins. For the right price, he is willing to serve as a guide to Promontorium.

16. Toll Bridge

No one likes crossing Heartstop Bridge, so many citizens of Tranquility use this better-maintained bridge instead, although they must pay a small toll to do so. The fee is waived for visitors through a goodwill program instituted by Humboldt. The bridgekeeper, a man named Marc Fraber, doesn’t like the goodwill program and often substitutes one of his own. Anytime a visitor wants to cross the toll bridge, Fraber challenges the person (or challenges one member of a visiting group) to a test of chance or a test of arms—visitor’s choice.

For a test of chance, Fraber takes out a pair of dice and explains the rules for a game called Escape Velocit y. The visitor must choose a number between 2 and 12 and bet on whether that number will appear within three rolls of the dice (2d6). If Fraber loses, he allows the visitor to pass, although with ill grace. If he wins, he crows about his victory and prevents the visitor from using the bridge.

If the visitor chooses a test of arms (or if the dice game escalates into a fight), he or she must defeat Fraber in nonlethal combat. If the fight lasts longer than 3 rounds, five patrolbots arrive to investigate the disturbance at the bridge. Combatants who don’t flee will be hauled before Humboldt unless they can escape.

20. Temple of the Synthetic Sun

This old nuclear reactor has been claimed by a group of Radioactivists (members of the cryptic alliance known as the Children of the Atom) as a lodge and place of worship. Most of the complex is below ground. The surface structure includes a wide white dome that features a magnetically contained, free-floating, highly radioactive fusion reactor.

Anyone who lingers within the Temple of the Synthetic Sun for longer than an hour starts to feel nauseated, but the shielding around the fusion reactor protects visitors from deadly harm. Only people who press up against the shield feel the debilitating effects of the radiation, which begin with skin rashes and hair loss. Radioactivists embrace these effects as the holy blessings of the Atom; they know that rebirth through atomic fire requires some sacrifice, but they’re not complaining—they know that the Atom will soon return to guide his children to paradise.

The Radioactivists would love to increase the size of their congregation, but patrolbots take a dim view of forced conversion. Thus, for the most part, the temple remains a benign presence in Tranquility.

Seera Fusionheart is the ranking Radioactivist in the temple. She wears a full-body suit of iron with tiny glassteel portholes through which she can view the outside world. Seera claims that she wears the suit to enhance her already considerable strength; others say that she is so mutated that she’d tumble out as a pile of organic goo without the suit to hold her together. Regardless, everyone agrees that Seera can curse a blue streak that would strip the rust off metal. People quickly learn not to get on her bad side unless they want to receive the tongue-lashing of a lifetime.

Game Master’s Tip: If the characters require rare isotopes, element s high on the periodic table, or other esoteric substances, the Temple of the Synthetic Sun probably keeps a supply of the material in an underground bunker. The Radioactivists are willing to trade for it, too, but only if at least one of the characters takes the pledge to join the Children of the Atom, or at the very least, to expose themselves to high levels of radiation from the reactor.

23. Birdy’s Weapons

The white-haired woman known as Birdy is a renowned weaponsmith and reseller in Tranquility. She is a talkative older dame who has an anecdote for every occasion as she shows her wares (protected behind security glass) to customers who brave the crime-ridden streets of Winter. Birdy can acquire nearly any current weapon—if she can’t, she can probably have one made, for the right price—and she supposedly has a few relics of the Ancients tucked away in back rooms.

The weapon shop is well guarded by a computer-controlled laser mesh entr y system, not to mention a group of thugs who are sweet on Birdy’s fabulous apple-fish pies and funny stories. Those who try to steal from Birdy regret it.

24. Doomsday Ark

Before the Big Mistake, a Doomsday Ark was built in a secret location on the lunar plain. The ark contained DNA, embryos, and the essentials of life and civilization. The plan was that the ark and its controlling AI would come online if the Earth was devastated by nuclear annihilation or some other catastrophe. It was meant to be a way to rebuild the human race.

Unfortunately, when the Big Mistake occurred, something went wrong with the Ark’s AI central processing unit. Instead of beaming radio transmissions to dishes on the planet, the AI shut down completely, killed its on-site human proctor s, and sealed the ark below ground behind layers of titanium alloy valves.

The Doomsday Ark lies beneath what is now Tranquility. Recently, drunks looking for a place to flop discovered an entrance to the Ark in one of Winter’s ruined habitats. No one in the dome knows what lies at the end of the sloping steel tunnel; every person and bot that has ventured down it has failed to return. People presume that the tunnel leads to something valuable, since whatever it is seems extraordinarily well defended.

Of course, the Big Mistake happened 150 years ago, so the Ark could be nothing more than a rotted, useless ruin. On the other hand, it was built to sur vive and could contain priceless relics and secrets of the Ancients.