The Saurian Cycle - A Roadmap to Adventure

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by Tom Verreault

Radio Free Sauria

In this issue we’ve prepared a menu of material around the themes of subspace radios and first contact with an alien species. Tom Stephens wrote an excellent article on subspace radios and it suggested avenues for adventure that we felt we should build on. One primary adventure hook was first contact via radio signal. Rather than invent a whole new species we decided to use an existing species to save time and effort on the creative process.

This lead us to the Saurians introduced in Dragon #103 (November 1985). The original article by Jeffrey Bouley, served its purpose of introducing a new race for play in the Star Frontiers setting but did not root that race in the setting beyond giving the name of its lost home planet. To provide an adventure seed for meeting the Saurians it became clear that we would need to develop and detail a sector of space for them to live in, rough out a planetary brief, and detail their spacecraft and technologies.

What you find in this issue as part of the “Saurian Cycle” is support material to help run an adventure or campaign. This includes a sector and system brief to establish the Saurians concretely in the setting. There is a write up on their spacecraft and a new weapon system they developed to combat the Sathar. A branch of Spacefleet and their primary communication ship are detailed. These would figure prominently in a first contact scenario. A set of Knight Hawk encounters are presented that tell the story of the first contact and show how the Saurian ark ships arrive in the Frontier.

Ventures in the Sauria Sector

In our first issue we introduced a “big ship campaign” centered on the crew of the CFMS Venture and promised to support that campaign in future issues.  It would be easy to work the Venture into a Saurian campaign. Her status as a reserve merchant marine vessel with the Flight means she can be activated as needed to support active military operations.  As an armed freighter she is ideal to deliver aid and supplies to the beleaguered Saurians or to support an ad hoc reconnaissance mission to track down the source of the Saurian subspace radio emissions.

Alternately the crew of the Venture could be the ones to intercept a strange subspace message. The fact that the Capellan Free Merchants are renowned as explorers would be enough to justify a little investigation of a strange signal that could lead to a new market.

Exploration in the Sauria Sector

The sector brief provides planetary footnotes on many worlds the Sathar devastated in the campaign to subjugate the Saurians. The Knight Hawk encounters provide a possible first contact scenario where the crew of a Talnor class communications ship comes to the aid of the Saurian warships fighting the Sathar. It's straightforward and simple but the first contact could go differently.

A campaign of exploration could logically begin in the Liberty system. Clues to who and where the Saurians are could be discovered there. No doubt the Sathar destroyed much and the Mhemne wiped out computer records to prevent them from falling into the Sathar’s tentacles, so any clues discovered here would be sketchy at best.

The planet Precipice could be a next step to discovering the Saurians. It was a prospering star port and linked the Mhemne and the Saurians. Wiped out by the Sathar, the starport lies in ruins begging for exploration. A clearer picture of who the Saurians are will develop here. It is possible the subspace radio signals that were detected in the Frontier originated here. Maybe one or a handful of Mhemne survivors managed to repair a subspace radio. Their alignment of it was off so their signal never reached Liberty system but fate had it that the crew of a Spacefleet ship intercepted it. Searching the ruins of the starport should eventually lead the players to discover the location of the Saurian home world. No doubt there are Sathar attack monsters about, a secret Sathar listening post, and sporadic patrols by Sathar ships, so the player characters should find plenty of action here.

The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend

First contact in the midst of a battle is classic in that a shared enemy facilitates alliances. In a campaign with more of a focus on Alpha Dawn level of play, a referee will want to role-play early encounters with the Saurians. The module “The War Machine” (SFKH4) used trust points for negotiating between the Belter Mhemne and the PCs. This could be adapted for negotiations with the Saurians. Psych-social skill and the Vrusk comprehension ability can aid the players with hints as to what the best negotiation strategy should be.