Update #24 - The Wasteland

The desolation known as the Wasteland, a span of decks torn apart by the unfathomably destructive weapons of Old Earth, was called Mission Control in better times. This was the Ship Authority's domain, an impregnable stronghold and the seat of power.

The mutineers’ attack was months in the making, a decisive, disabling strike at the electronic heart of their world. It should have been over in less than an hour, but such things rarely go as planned. The Ship Authority was made of harder stuff than anticipated and the first assault was driven back.

In the following months of attack and counterattack, the mutineers’ failure to quickly secure the complex cost them much in lost lives and spent firepower. When forced to surrender ground, both sides adopted a policy of destroying anything not of immediate use, so as to deny it to the enemy.

Though the mutineers were able to ultimately capture and hold key positions across several decks, the complex had been gutted and irreplaceable resources lost. Too late they would discover that during the protracted struggle over Mission Control, Ship Authority loyalists in the Habitat had firmly entrenched their position, preparing to fight to the last man and woman. And child, should it prove necessary.

Weakened and shocked by the brutality of Mission Control’s demise, the mutineers weren’t eager to unleash the same horrors on the Habitat. A truce was offered under the pretext that the Ship Authority was finished anyway and there was no reason to waste lives trying to speed up the inevitable. Yet the same inferno that purged the old order also forged the new. The Protectors of the Mission were destined to reclaim everything their predecessors had lost. They would take it all in the end, whatever the cost.

***


Decades later, deteriorating conditions at home began to drive explorers and treasure seekers farther and farther afield, until a lucky group wandered into the fringes of that fabled battlefield. When the first news trickled back of decks littered with the technological marvels of Old Earth, the scavengers swarmed like maggots devouring a carcass.

Inside of a month, the first two decks were swept clean, but moving deeper into the seemingly bottomless ruins was a more daunting challenge. The entire zone was unpowered and bitterly cold; portable lamps provided the only light. Fused doors and warped bulkheads made a maze of the original corridors and descending to the lower levels, now accessible only through jagged holes in the decking, was a treacherous proposition. Add in the traps left by the long-dead defenders of Mission Control, or by ‘prospectors’ hoping to dissuade the competition, and more often than not it was a one-way trip.

Once the easy pickings had been gathered up and sold, the less principled scavs decided it was easier, and healthier, to let someone else take the risks. And so a new tradition was born: ambushing the suckers returning to the 'surface' with their relics.

Yet those who survived the dangers of both the Wasteland and their murderous colleagues returned with accounts of more than just mummified soldiers and half-melted energy rifles. They told tantalizing stories of security doors with still charged and fully operational turrets, of functioning retinal scanners blocking access to forbidden vaults, and of the Holy Grail itself: the Admin Center, the very brain of the Ship, sealed from within at the height of the Mutiny and never breached. They also spoke of cadavers seemingly unharmed but drained of blood, of mysterious floating lights more terrifying even than the darkness of the void, and of Beelzebub himself. Called Ol’ Bub for short, this terrifying beast was said to dwell deep within the ruined complex, and to feed on any weary prospector foolish enough to let his guard slip.

***


With the Wasteland our goal is to create a proper, thematically-fitting 'dungeon' with the following features:

1. The focus is on exploration not combat. Navigating the dungeon, finding a way past the obstacles and into the deeper levels is more important than killing monsters and clearing levels.

2. Non-linear with multiple directions and goals. While the Admin Center is the top prize, there are lesser 'prizes' located in different parts of the complex. None of these locations will be easy to get to, because the lore says that many prospectors tried to find these places for years, so you can’t just waltz in, but unlike AoD’s Abyss which had a single path to the central chamber and required a very specific build, there will be multiple ways supporting different stats and skillsets.

3. You’ll be frequently stopped by some obstacles (such as a retinal scanner, for example, or poisonous gas, or tough enemies, humans or otherwise) and would have to leave and return later when you acquire what you need. In other words, you won’t blast though the entire 'dungeon' in one go.

4. Every dungeon needs some enemies and they will come in two varieties:  humans (rival prospectors, thugs looking for easy money, the Regulators if you piss them off) and creatures. While every RPG and every dungeon need some 'monsters' we believe that in this setting less is more, so the entire game will have 5-6 mutated creatures and we won’t throw them at you the way we did in Dungeon Rats but handle it very differently and hopefully more memorably.

So, ol’ Beelzebub is a one such enemy. First, you’ll hear the tales, so it won’t be just some creature waiting for you in an empty hallway:

"Guess who got caught with his pants down last night? Big Jim Wilson! Him and his boys got themselves grabbed in flagrante at the whorehouse. They didn’t even get a chance to squeeze off a shot," chuckles the Magistrate. "Best get ready for trial. If half of what I’ve heard is halfway true, it’s going to be a wild ride.

"Story goes that Jim’s the only person alive to do a dance with old Beelzebub and come back mostly in one piece. I heard when he crawled into the prospectors’ camp –literally crawled, on his hands and knees– the left part of his face was missing. Flesh just hanging there like torn rags."
   "What do you mean Beelzebub? Like the devil from the Bible?"

"Well, here’s what the Good Book says:  the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

"Ol’ Bub is supposed to make his home in the Mission Control complex, which around here is about as close as you can get to a bottomless pit. He’s supposed to be a giant serpent, thick as a Factory transformer, and fast as he is huge. Likes to swallow folks whole, ‘cept for Jim. Guess there’s a reason they call him ‘Big’."



Then you’ll have your first encounter. Odds are, you’ll have two options:

- sacrifice a party member and run away (I know, I know, you’d never do that but this option will make a lot more sense in the, um, heat of the moment)
- fight it off

Then you’ll decide if you really want to go after it. Keep in mind that dead party members tend to stay dead instead of getting up after the fight is over, so if you really want to get that trophy, you’ll have to pay the blood price. Coincidentally, that’s why I dislike different difficulty levels. You want to take it easy? Then avoid tough fights. Problem solved. You want to be a mighty hero? Earn it.

5. If you do manage to find a way into the Admin Center, it will affect the endings (extra options, pre-req. for a different ending, etc.)

* * *


Some concept art:


^ The prospectors' camp near the entrance


^ an eye implant in mint condition, only one previous owner


^ the lower levels