The Alien Atmosphere

Summary: A clan of mutants who can’t breathe normal air are holed up in an underground compound filled with air breathable to themselves, and very much not to anyone else. They’re reclusive and xenophobic, and will kill anyone who doesn’t have their same mutations.

Discovery: The underground facility pumps out a lot of the toxic atmosphere the mutants breathe, diluting the air in close proximity. Plants within thirty meters of the location have died, and animals won’t come within twenty. Upon walking close, everyone in the party must make a Challenging(+0) Toughness check or else immediately take a level of fatigue. At the same time, the party must a Difficult(-10) Awareness test to spot a camouflaged door nearby. If the characters get at least two degrees of success on the check, they also discover a nearby vent spewing out the atmosphere at fairly high temperatures (it’s an exhaust vent for dissipating the heat of the heavy machinery that manufactures the atmosphere). If the party attempts to ascertain the cause of the sudden shortness of breath, they can make a Challenging(+0) Scholastic Lore (Chymistry) check to ascertain that various non-toxic but also not-oxygen chemicals have been pumped into the local atmosphere in such volumes as to dilute the air. Not only that, but given their fairly stable levels, it appears that this continues to happen. Following the fumes back to their source will take the characters to the exhaust vent. A Routine(+20) Survival check will allow a character to find tracks leading to the door. The mutants aren’t very clever about hiding their tracks when they venture out into the wild.

Exploration: The front door has 16 armour points, and if chipped down to half its armour value enough damage has been done to allow a Medium(4) creature to squeeze through. Chipping it down to zero will allow the party to enter two-by-two. The lock can also be hotwired with an Ordinary(+10) Security check. Inside is an elevator that descends about ten meters and opens into an air lock. The airlock will fill the chamber with the alien atmosphere before opening up into the rest of the facility, which means that any characters who aren’t a very specific sort of mutant will begin suffocating in the air lock. Even ignoring the fact that the mutants are going to be aware that someone is entering their air lock, this is going to kill characters fairly quickly. Destroying the equipment requires only five points of damage past its four points of armour, but this isn’t going to help very much. Once the airlock opens, while some oxygen will flood the facility to a level that could be discomforting to any mutants immediately outside it, significantly more alien atmosphere will be flooding back, so this will barely delay suffocation. Characters could retreat to the elevator instead, and it will still function to take them up to the surface.

Characters might instead try to blow through the airlock doors. They, too, have only 16 armour points (the mutants would prefer proper AP 32 blast doors, but they’re building this facility from the scrap of a destroyed penal colony, so they can’t be too choosy about their materials), and reducing the AP of a door by even one point will make a minor breach. Getting it down to 8 AP will make a hole big enough not only for a Medium(4) creature to squeeze through, but to allow enough oxygen in for characters to breathe normally if they stand next to the door and aren’t engaged in any strenuous activity. Doing the same to the other end of the airlock will slowly dilute the atmosphere until it’s flooded with enough oxygen to give the mutants inside a fatigue level every ten minutes or so, but not enough to asphyxiate them completely (they will revive with reduced fatigue after a ten minute blackout like normal, and they won’t build up enough fatigue to die from it in the meantime). Additionally, the mutants have void suits. They are poor quality, but nevertheless have a six hour supply of their alien atmosphere.

An alternative route, and one which won’t be immediately detected by the mutants, is to come in through the exhaust vent. The vent is fairly regularly expelling lots of heat in addition to being filled with alien atmosphere. Anyone trying to crawl down it will begin suffocating, and crawling down the vent qualifies as strenuous activity, so they’ll suffocate in a hurry without a supply of oxygen. Crawling down the vent successfully requires a successful Ordinary(+20) Athletics test. If a character fails, they fall a number of meters equal to twice their degrees of failure to a maximum of ten, and take the standard falling damage, 1d10 plus the number of meters fallen. Use the Athletics test as though it were an attack roll to determine hit location. Due to heat, any character climbing down must also make a Challenging(+0) Toughness test. The character takes 1d10+4 Energy damage, but may reduce the damage by one for each degree of success on the Toughness check (in addition to reduction for Toughness bonus and etc.). This damage ignores armour. The exhaust vent leads into the atmosphere room, where the generator taps into natural gasses frequently found fairly close to the surface in this region and refines them into the atmosphere breathed by the mutants. There is one mutant guard here at all times, who will summon the rest of the pack as soon as anyone enters, shooting first and asking questions only if convinced that they’ll probably lose the fire fight.

Confrontation: There are a total of eleven full grown mutants in the facility, although three of them are asleep at any given time. If an intruder alert is sounded, they’ll be dragged out of bed and join the fight in three rounds. The other eight will arrive to repel any intruders after a single round. The mutants will not open any dialogue with any intruders and their starting Disposition is a mere 15 towards any outsiders, or 25 if they have some kind of mutation. If another mutant of the same type vouches for them, the characters get a +20 bonus to Disposition with all the other mutants. Their starting Disposition towards mutants of the same type who they don’t recognize, if a character is somehow in this very specific category, is 45. They have a random smattering of aggressive, confident, submissive, and cautious personalities. The table for a cautious personality is given below.

Skill Modifier Effect
Charm +0 +5 x DoS
Command +10 +10 x DoS
Deceive -20 -10 x DoF
Inquiry -10 -5 x DoF
Intimidate +10 -5 x DoF
Scrutiny +0 N/A

The mutants seek to live their lives in peace as far from the Imperium as possible, and could be plausibly convinced to join a coalition against the Imperium. They won’t send more than five of their eleven adult members to fight unless their facility is destroyed, in which case they will most likely all be dead within six hours. They will allow allies to use their facility to store equipment or as a hideout of last resort. They don’t have the materials or the engineering know-how to create a normal atmosphere chamber within their facility, but someone with a void suit could hole up with them for twelve hours, at least.

The mutants have a half-dozen children between the age of nine and thirteen, who will be assigned to keep the other half-dozen children (even younger) in the creche if an intruder alert is raised. They will also serve as guards of last resort if intruders enter the creche.

Reproducing the alien atmosphere refinery isn’t too difficult in principle, requiring only a Difficult(-10) Scholastic Lore (Chymistry) test to design. A +20 bonus is granted to anyone with access to the current refinery. Three or more degrees of success on the test will result in a more efficient and more effective refinery, which will remove the industrial tang the air the current mutants have, which will grant a +20 Disposition bonus for anyone who does so. Actually producing this refinery will subsequently require two weeks and an Ordinary(+10) Tech-Use check. Each degree of success reduces the time taken by one day, while each degree of failure requires an extra day. If the check is failed by five or more degrees, the existing refinery is damaged and ceases to function properly, requiring a Difficult(-10) Tech-Use check to prevent the asphyxiation of all mutants in the facility.

Rewards: As mentioned above, the mutants could plausibly be convinced to make alliance with any anti-Imperium faction, and will allow their facility to be used as equipment storage or hideout of last resort for any allies. The facility is also completely usable to humans if the mutants are cleaned out and their alien atmosphere refinery is disabled.

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