The PCs are in hyperspace on a routine voyage when suddenly and violently, they exit hyperspace. This exit should be violent enough to cause moderate damage to their ship due to the unexpected drop from FTL travel. The cause of this jump failure is an unexpected gravity source that is intersecting their jump vector.
This gravity source is nothing more than a large rogue gas giant. Cast away from its originating solar system, this planet still spins quickly around its axis and has also managed to carry along some of its satellites. There are also three medium-sized moons (size 3-5) tidally locked in an elliptical orbit around this gas giant as well. Each possesses an exotic atmosphere, but they all still generate heat due to strong forces of gravity pulling on them creating geothermal energy and heat. This strong gravitic force makes sensor readings difficult, but not impossible.
As the players recover from their ordeal, a faint distress call is overheard coming from one of the moons. Upon close inspection, a starship is found crashed on the planet’s surface. It is hard to tell unless someone goes down on the moon’s surface, but the ship is still fairly intact. It is half-buried under a rocky mound of sand and gravel. There is a hazard to travelling on the surface of this moon, however. The geothermal activity causes frequent seismic tremors and quakes, making the sand and rocks treacherous. Also, radiation from the gas giant limits the amount of time on the surface, as the moon is tidally locked there is no relief from this exposure. No unprotected person should be allowed more than six hours of exposure before radiation damage occurs. Thirty-two hours of overall exposure without medical treatment could be fatal.
If the players decide to investigate further, they will find a 2,000 ton cryo-ship still operating on minimal power. This ship was going to be used to start a colony, but somehow it ended up here. The gravel and the ship’s hull protect these colonists from radiation exposure, but whoever survived the crash rigged up an ingenious way to harness the geothermal energy of the planet to the ship’s power plant. Many of the cryo-beds are damaged and the occupant has long since died, but thirty beds are still operational.
Upon exit from hyperspace, each crew member should roll to avoid sustaining an injury (2D6: 2 = 2d6 damage from blunt trauma, 3 = d6 damage from blunt trauma, 4 & 5 = 1 point of damage from blunt trauma, 6+ no damage). If they are carrying cargo, especially hazardous cargo, some rolls should be taken to check for damage).
The initial distress call should be mostly static and it will not be able to be pieced together. The only thing making it a distress call is the “Signal GK” at the beginning of the transmission. Upon first scan of the moon, the colony ship should be found, but several false readings should also be given to the players. These should later be found out to be metal deposits and/or pieces of the ship that broke off on impact. Life scans will be faint, if a scan is taken of the ship itself.
On the surface of the moon, there are several hazards other than just radiation. The moon will be without atmosphere, so there are the hazards of working in a vacuum. Then you have geysers of hot sulfur that issue out from cracks in the moon’s surface during a seismic event. There will be jagged edges of rock in many places, along with numerous splinters of metal around the crash site. These will take a toll even on the best vacc-suit.
Once the PC’s get to the ship itself, the entrance is a simple access port button flashing red. (The engineer that set up the power figured that he would need to make things as easy as possible for the rescuers.) Once inside the large cargo bay is back-lit by red emergency lighting and nothing else will work. Off in the edges of the cargo bay are the desiccated corpses of large draft and livestock animals, all butchered and left in place. Not far from the animal graveyard will be ten large cryo-beds.
All ten of these low berths are still operating on minimal power. Each berth contains three human-sized survivors in the spaces normally set aside for the large animals. Each berth is also portable and can be transported back to the ship on their grav-sleds (which are maintained at full power). When these cryo-beds get plugged in to the player’s ship, the thawing process can be initiated. To animate these people it will take a success roll of 8+ (2d6) with a DM of +1 if there is a Medic aboard and +2 if there is a doctor (Medic-3+) aboard.
These thirty survivors of the ISS HAVILAND have been in cold sleep for about 85 years. They will be a mix of colony farmers, scientists, colony leaders and their families. The rescuers can conduct wilderness refueling at the gas giant (Hydrogen is hydrogen after all) and bring these people back to civilization. The colonists did have survivors and the PC’s will be compensated handsomely for their rescue along with an additional stipend from the IISS for finding and mapping a navigational hazard.