For the third edition of The Artifact RPG a lot of the book is being re-written and I felt I could do a better job with the book introduction. This one doesn’t have the same kind of information density as the old one, but sometimes less is more.
We’ve got one chance at this. When things went bad on Earth, we came here. It’s getting worse every year, things are just unraveling back there. At first this planet was classified as any one of hundreds of high gravity exoplanets. Then new telescopes let us see there’s something going on here.
We’ve got the technology to go faster than light but it will kill a human because of mass dilation. So we send out hardened probes carrying teleporters. Then we can send in robots and eventually even humans. Most people don’t know that this planet wasn’t the first choice there were a few others that they tried first that wouldn’t support life. The government didn’t want to get people’s hopes up if none of them worked out.
This planet has a breathable atmosphere, liquid water, it’s warm enough, you’d almost think it was made for us. Well, for humans anyway, not necessarily for us. There’s already life here, very much like Earth, primitive green vegetation and animals.
Whenever we sent a rover out to bring back video of the planet, it would disappear. Finally they decided to sent people who also went missing. Then they tried a second time, to this day we don’t know what happened to them. Normally that would have been enough to raise a huge red flag but there weren’t any other options showing up so we tried again.
By the time the third expedition went in, it was armed with every precaution. They weren’t just the astronaut type going in this time, these were soldiers. They got there just in time. A few hours later and the probe lander with the teleporter pad would have been destroyed and we couldn’t try again for seventeen years.
That third expedition didn’t know who was attacking them but they managed to push back hard enough that the attackers ran. They left behind one of their wounded though and were we surprised to see who it was. The prisoner was, as far as we could figure, human.
They moved the teleporter pad to a safer spot and sent the prisoner back to earth. This caused a firestorm of debate. Some had thought another nation had hijacked the teleporter and was sending people in already but the facts didn’t fit. This prisoner didn’t speak a known language and when they brought him back he got so sick he almost died. Doctors pumped him full of antibiotics and antiretrovirals just to keep him from getting killed by things like the flu.
The third expedition also confirmed that the planet was artificial, that the planet was manufactured. This scared the politicians so badly that they almost had the teleporter destroyed. Any civilization that could build a planet and was so obviously hostile could easily wipe us out. The pressure kept mounting to scrap the whole idea.
If it wasn’t for a group of university student linguists that cracked the prisoners language we would still be on earth. They listened to recordings of the prisoner speaking and figured out what he was saying. Now we found out what was really going on.
The Prisoner was a Kelrath of the Geetin class. A slave for all intents and purposes. They weren’t the ones that built the planet but they had been there as long as their five thousand years of history recorded. He told us all about the planet from his perspective. He explained it’s basic structure. That there was a rocky core of the planet that served as a base for two structures that branch out in opposite directions. He explained that inside these structures is where his people lived.
Then he told us about the Chezbah, his people’s mortal enemy. All he knew about them was what he had seen in war. We almost didn’t know what to think when he described the inhuman monsters that they sent into battle. We quickly got the idea that the Chezbah were far more advanced technologically than the Kelrath.
Because the planet was built by someone, people on earth started calling it “the Artifact.” By 2079 the name was so often used, it was adopted as the planet’s official name. During all this, no one was really sure what to do. Most governments wanted to colonize the planet but no one was sure what would happen if we tired. In 2083 the Artifact Study Organization was formed by a coalition of governments. It’s goal was to investigate the planet, establish diplomatic contacts with the native people of the planet and pave the way for colonization.
The fourth expedition was sent out in August 31 2084. This group was far larger than the previous expeditions. They set out to make contact with the Kelrath who attacked them in force. This was when we first met the Scimrahn who rescued the ASO expedition. The matriarch of the tribe saw this as an opportunity to win an ally and offered an alliance. This was the opening the ASO was looking for but it came with consequences. Joining ourselves with the Scimrahn meant making ourselves enemies of the Chezbah nation.
At first the ASO only offered economic cooperation with the Scimrahn but a coalition of nations that felt they could not wait for more diplomatic efforts made a treaty to fight along side the Scimrahn as an ally. This coalition called the Indo-China Alliance made the ASO feel that they would be left behind unless they agreed to a treaty of defending the Scimrahn from attackers.
It’s now 2085 by our calendar, we’re sending as much men and equipment as possible through our teleporters.
Let us know what you think, does this explain enough to get started? Do any questions come up when you read it?
So far a about 50 pages of the 200+ page book has been re-worked. The major effort is to tie all the rules elements more tightly together, explain things a bit better and improve the writing where I can.