Locus: A Needle in Infinite Haystacks

Happy GURPSDay, GURPS aficionados!

This past weekend was the always fun Orccon convention, where I ran an adventure set in my multi-dimensional city of Locus. The players all seemed to have a great time, and their feedback on the setting was very positive. Completing Locus is a big part of my goals for the year, so this week I’m looking at that adventure and what new things it reveals about the setting as a whole.

rickyroots

You can download the adventure packet — it contains the following, discussed further below:

  • The Adventure (Introduction, Plot, Encounters/Scenes/Dimensions, PC Abilities, Bad Guy Stat Blocks)
  • Logo Sheet for Ricky Root’s Troubleshooters, Bodyguards, & Odd Jobbers (pictured above)
  • The PCs (six pre-gens, all non-human residents of Locus)
    • Iffri, Psionicist and healer
    • Kaldun, Soldier and bodyguard
    • Sanriss, Enforcer for hire
    • “Tex” (TX-472), Security and bodyguard
    • Vessa, Mage and healer
    • Zeenin, Guide and mount for hire
  • GM Control Sheet

In “A Needle in Infinite Haystacks,” two unfortunate Earth humans find themselves first transported to the chaos and craziness of Locus, only to then find themselves in the middle of a firefight between two local groups. The NWC, the Newcomers Welcoming Committee, rescue the man, but not before his fiancee is taken by so-called “bottom feeders,” denizens of Locus who prey on newcomers by herding them up and delivering them to massive automated food processing plants (as ingredients, not workers).

The NWC hires “Ricky Root’s Troubleshooters, Bodyguards, & Odd Jobbers” to rescue her, a task which falls to the PCs. Their investigation leads them to the giant insect mounds of the ant-like Nissifer, the “bottom feeders” who originally took her; to the jungle castle headquarters of the Dirty Hands mercenary crew who stole her from the Nissifer; and, finally, to a vid-prog shooting location in the home dimension of the bird-like Qell, a place of floating nest-cities and lethal glass shard plains.

Ultimately, the PCs learn that the NWC itself has less than selfless interests in play — they want the “rare mated pair of humans” so they can sell them at huge profit to the Locus Zoological Society, leaving the PCs to decide between honoring their original contract or saving the humans from a life of exploitation and slavery.

The adventure adds quite a few details to the setting:

  • Notes the size of Locus: “Inside of a Dyson Shell originally built by the Ventari. Radius 7.2 miles, diameter 14.4 miles, circumference 45 miles, and surface area roughly 644 square miles. Composed of 12 pentagons (each with an area of 1.7 square miles) and 240 hexagons (each with an area of 2.6 square miles).”
  • The Newcomers Welcoming Committee is a group dedicated to seeking out newcomers to the city and helping them get established safely. It may or may not be corrupt, either in its entirety or in various smaller chapters.
  • “Bottom feeders” also seek out newcomers to the city, but do so in order to sell them as food product. Eating sentient beings without their consent is technically illegal, but enforcement is, let’s say, less than aggressive. By extension, it being illegal implies at least some semblance of city-wide government/police.
  • The Dirty Hands mercenary crew is also noted, headquartered in a stone castle deep in an ancient low-G jungle.
  • Troubleshooting businesses like Ricky Root’s are fairly common, and give a solid structure to build a PC party around.
  • A couple of races and their home dimensions are mentioned: the ant-like Nissifer (giant mounds on barren fields, all Magic use at -2) and the bird-like Qell (floating nest-cities above plains of glass shards). The demonic-looking Steksis may also be encountered, as bodyguards for the NWC; they can combine their individual bodies into a single, giant beast of greater power.
  • The popular vid-prog “Shoot It In The Face” is named, alluding both to the fact that some kind of entertainment networks exists in at least some dimensions of the city, and the value put on sentient life is extremely low.
  • The lists of Encounters/Scenes/Dimensions outline a number of things the PCs might encounter as they navigate the city, some humorous, some awful, most bizarre, things like:
    • A terrified (non-human) newcomer running screaming through the city streets
    • A corpse on the street that eats a being that tries to steal its shoes
    • A lone Typpen, stranded just yards from a body of water
    • A crowd betting on two tiny “humans” fighting to the death in a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot ring
    • A human-sized cocoon spawning a moth-woman
    • Sirini slave barges, looking to shanghai
    • A dimension phasing out, everyone rushing to get to the city (and back into the new zone)
    • Robot target practice (they scream as they die and beg for their lives)
    • Armed pizza delivery
    • Rampaging dinosaur
    • PCs all become foreign cells in the same being’s body, attacked by its immune system
    • Spawns ‘mirror images’ of the party who attack
    • Traveling cities on behemoth’s backs
    • All PCs switch minds with the PC to their left
    • Underground warrens
    • Tiny settlements (beings are about a half-inch tall)
    • Swarms of flesh-eating bugs
  • The Ricky Root logo sheet is a clear example of the dichotomy of the setting that I love — Ricky Root, a weird, foul-smelling fungus man animating someone else’s bones who presents himself when advertising as a cutesy, brightly-colored cartoon character to ensure the widest possible audience.
  • The PCs themselves offer up six more races and their abilities: the floating, psionic Estalli (Iffri); the honorable, agile fighters of the Dirdin (Kaldun); the trilaterally symmetrical Trit (Sanriss); Robots of a wide variety and type (Tex); the magical and centipede-like Myzaleet (Vessa); and the wasp-like Plazmites (Zeenin).
  • Tex also gives us the existence of an ARG, an Artificial Reality Generator. (While this is great for one-shots, balanced against the fact that it could cause Tex to explode at any time, on-going campaigns would likely be better off not incorporating devices like these.)

Certainly, not all of these details will make it in their present form to the final setting, but I think together they start forming a good picture of the overall tone I’m going for.

At the table, the setting performed like a champ last week (as it has numerous times before). Everyone seemed on-board with the premise, they got the idea of being on the inside of a sphere quickly, and they frequently used the vast scope of the setting to seek out information and/or technology that could help them.

With a project that casts such a wide, wide net, I imagine there are things lurking on the edges that I’m missing entirely. I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether you think you’d enjoy adventures like this, aspects of the setting you really like/dislike, things you’d like to read more/less about, whatever. “Is Locus a place that sounds fun to adventure in?” is the most important question! The rest is all gravy.

See you next week!

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Also in Locus

The pan-dimensional city of Locus, nexus of all realities and adventure setting for GURPS 4th Edition.

  1. Locus: a Pan-Dimensional GURPS Setting
  2. Locus: Types of Zones
  3. Locus: Table of Contents
  4. Locus: A Needle in Infinite Haystacks

View the entire series

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