In the post-game discussion following our D&D game on President's Day I told my pal 'D' how impressed I was with how he handled the opening. It was one of the best for a one shot I'd seen in a while. He told me (and I am extremely flattered by the idea) that it was actually inspired by a Sci-Fi game I ran many years ago that he was a part of. As he described the scenario, all the scenes started flooding into my mind in a series of images a la' the Intersect. It all came back to me. Well not all but certainly a good portion of it came back to me. He said it was his favorite single session of a game ever and when pressed to run something off the cuff he reached back, found that moment and it guided him forward (paraphrasing a bit).
Since I'm on a bit of a session report kick, here now is that adventure, told to you after it was told to me by my own memories and those of a good friend.
Star Frontiers: The Sky is Falling.
On a distant frontier planet far from the core of galactic society, a mercenary company fights a losing battle with the native species who are determined to drive the alien invaders off their land. The PCs are the mercenary alien invaders, hired to track down a renegade U.I.A.* scientist who has set himself up as a medicine man and healer among the locals. He is wanted by Star Law, several Megacorporations and a number of Underworld figures for a rather unique virus he developed, the specifics of which were beyond the team's security clearance to know.
As the team of PCs fought their way through crowds of nearly fanatically devoted local followers toward the rogue doctor's hidden refuge, more and more of the natives started to attack, crawling out of nowhere it seemed. Some were hiding in the trees, some in disguised foxholes, etc. Surrounded, outnumbered and running low on ammo, power and other supplies, the PCs called in their orbital support vehicle, The Dark Sky.
The Dark Sky was a long range, Hyperwarp** capable ship about the size of a Star Trek Runabout or maybe just a tad bigger. 'D' called it in. His PC requested an immediate air lift for his team out of the combat zone. When he received no response he initially got suspicious and headed for slightly higher ground and called again. While all he received over his communicator was static, he could see the blue-black ship approaching in the cloudy, early morning sky. He immediately called to the unit commander to let him know, only to find the commander dead from several spear wounds.
'D' took command of the unit and had them all reconvene at the rendezvous point they had already agreed upon. Looking up, the group of mercenaries could see their guardian angel in midnight armor heading toward them...smoking. Smoke billowed from the rear of the craft as sparks and licks of flame jetted out from panels in the aft and port sides. The natives had given chase and we're now firing a hail of arrows at the PCs. Several of the characters were hit, one wounded badly, as 'D' focused on The Dark Sky's descent. Its flight path was a bit erratic. A stabilizer blew. No landing lights were on.
"CLEAR THE RENDEZVOUS POINT! GET AWAY! GO! GO!" 'D' screamed at his men and into his communicator. "The Sky is Falling! I repeat, The Sky is Falling!"
The PCs scrambled to safety as the ship crash landed directly where they had been standing to wait for it to land. Not everyone made it. The craft landed right on top of one poor fellow and several others were injured by flames and flying debris.
Terrified the natives ran for the valley and the forest nearby. The PCs waited for some of the flames and smoke to fade and then attempted to pry open the airlock and see if anyone had survived. 'D' and another player tried to salvage any power batteries, food, shelter or similar equipment. They lucked out with an intact suit of powered armor***(low end with limited batteries) and an astromech like robot*** in additional to a few of the essentials they needed. There were only two survivors from The Dark Sky itself. The medical officer and a technician.
From that point on it was about survival. Until they could get a communication unit powerful enough to send an interstellar signal up and running, they were trapped in the enemies backyard.
According to 'D', the way I had originally described the ship and its approach actually made him feel like they were going to be pulled out, have time to rest and think up a new plan, etc. There was, for him, an 'Oh S*#T!' moment that completely changed his attitude and set up a sense of urgency, not just for him and his team but for the poor blokes on The Dark Sky.
My Star Frontiers universe diverged somewhat from that of the game's canon background.
*United Interplanetary Alliance or U.I.A.
I am too much of a Star Trek fan to let the main government of Star Frontiers call itself the 'United Planetary Federation'.
Borrowed from my Space Opera campaigns, the drive of my Star Frontiers universe is called Hyperwarp. Essentially a ship generates a force field bubble of subspace similar to Star Trek and this causes it shift into 'hyperspace' where it remains until reaching the coordinantes of its destination and turning off the bubble (which pops you back into real space).
Some of the technology of my campaign differed from the standard game because I wanted a bit of an anime feel. As a result their were more and more varied robots and some really cool powered armor.