Monday, 15 November 2010

Adventure Hook: Men Of Power

This one comes complete with monster stats. Ooh!

Men Of Power

An experimental power plant in the Home Counties, run by a London-based company, Carter Logistics. When dark figures enter, one of Carter's guards spots them, opens fire and screams. His partner alerts head office...

Eight months later...

Following a meteor shower, UNIT are sent to look for anything left behind - and see Carter Logistics looking around the site. A little research finds that the company has taken an interest in crash sites recently - often reaching them before anyone else, and sometimes before the meteorites themselves. Obviously they're looking for something, and working with information from a suspiciously well-informed source.

That source turns out to be the Vathek, a group of alien thieves whose ship was disabled in high orbit, the source of the meteors. The gang broke into the power plant to steal a portable generator, Carter's men fought them to a standstill and then Carter offered them a deal - aid escaping from Earth in exchange for advanced technology and a cut in the proceeds of their thefts. Neither side trusts the other, but for the moment the arrangement works.

Things To Do: Investigate Carter Logistics, trace the meteor showers and predict the next fall, getting there at the same time as Carter and his men. Find the Vathek working in secret, and work out a way to fight them.

Antagonists: Carter and his men, the Vathek.

Action Scenes: Infiltrating Carter's lab, getting past the guards, confronting Carter, fighting the Vathek and the secret project they've been working on, a stealth-capable gunship.

Problems: Carter and the Vathek distrust each other, so an attack could unite them or could turn into a three-way fight. There's a lesson about cooperation here somewhere...

Things To Prepare For: What are the Vathek like? Perhaps humanoid and creepy, maybe fast and ratlike and prone to scuttling and hanging from ceilings, but they could be anything really... Tactically-minded teams might try and get plans for Carter's facility as well.

Continuing the Adventure: Was anything else unusual going on in the power plant? Has Carter sold any of his acquisitions to other interested parties, or has one of his scientists or guards walked off with something? And who attacked the Vathek ship in the first place?

The Vathek


Awareness 3
Coordination 4
Ingenuity 3
Presence 2
Resolve 2
Strength 3


Athletics 3
Craft 1
Fighting 3
Knowledge 1
Marksman 3
Science 1
Subterfuge 3
Technology 2
Transport 1


Alien Appearance
Alien Senses (Smell)
Climbing (Major)
Fear Factor 1
Natural Weapons (Minor: sharp teeth and claws - but they work on armour too)
Obsession (Minor: Greed)
Special: Dislocation (+4 move through enclosed spaces and to escape attempts as they can pop their bones out of joint to squeeze through)

Story Points



Partial armour, hand weapon, smoke bomb, primitive blaster (about equal to a World War II rifle).


Vathek are stooped, gangly rodent-like bipeds, standing over four feet on average. They have forward-facing eyes, elongated snouts, large ears, heavy teeth and clawed hands. They typically wear scavenged clothing and armour. Their teeth can chew through steel, their claws allow them to cling to walls and ceilings, and they are often armed with thrown weapons or repurposed firearms and blasters as well as cudgels, axes and daggers.

Omnivorous scavengers who reached the top of their planetary food chain, the Vathek have spread to other planets and systems in a flotilla of patchwork spaceships with technology taken from their victims. While intelligent, they aren't generally great thinkers, except when thinking about their next meal.

Typical Vathek are thieving, grasping, most interested in self-preservation but ferocious if cornered. However, a spacecraft will typically have a larger, stronger and/or more intelligent ruler. These might be brutal champions, more adept technologists or even psychic seers.

Individual Vathek might be found away from the pack as thieves or thugs. Their ability to clamber and gnaw their way into all but the most secure buildings, and to squeeze through small spaces by dislocating their bones, would make them great assassins, but most of them lack the patience required.

There are stories of superintelligent Vathek Rat-Kings ruling their home worlds, but they're just stories. Surely...

(Doctor Who Confidential bit:

The Vathek are a bit of a conglomeration. The idea started with The Shakespeare Code being on BBC Three, and the reminder that the Sycorax were named after a witch from Shakespeare's The Tempest. So I went looking for an obscure literary reference that would make a good skulking monster name, looked at ghouls via Byron, and Vathek is the book that introduced the word "ghoul" to the English language. Meanwhile, on RPGnet's Other Games section, there's a thread about making laser-wielding Skaven for Warhammer 40000, which fits the scruffy thieving steampunk-y vibe I was sort of considering. Add hanging from the ceiling, borrowed from one of the episodes never made in Russell T Davies's The Writer's Tale, and that's a monster.)

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