Trailer Tuesday: Pandorum (2009)

Many movies have slipped by over the years where I’ve said “hey, I should see that” and then never managed to get there. Pandorum (2009) has been one of those for a few years. I’ve seen it is on Netflix and even added it to my queue a couple of times, but somehow never managed to take the time to watch. But the trailer… that’s good stuff. 

IMDb has the summary as:

“Two crew members are stranded on a spacecraft and quickly – and horrifically – realize they are not alone. Two astronauts awaken in a hyper-sleep chamber aboard a seemingly abandoned spacecraft. It’s pitch black, they are disoriented, and the only sound is a low rumble and creak from the belly of the ship. They can’t remember anything: Who are they? What is their mission? With Lt. Payton staying behind to guide him via radio transmitter, Cpl. Bower ventures deep into the ship and begins to uncover a terrifying reality. Slowly the spacecraft’s shocking, deadly secrets are revealed…and the astronauts find their own survival is more important than they could ever have imagined.”

That description would work really well on the back of an adventure module, don’t you think? 

Horror in space…

While watching the trailer, I took a few notes:

  • Far future. Resources depleted on Earth. Sending ship to distant planet as last ditch effort.
  • Space sickness or madness. Perhaps disease?
  • Creatures on board, real or imagined. Goop. Evolution?
  • Generation ship?
  • Cryo sleep gone wrong? Waking up too soon? (Passengers) Some who wake up showing symptoms
  • Power surges
  • Blades and sticks

So what would I do with that?

A Ship in Trouble

The generation ship, Omega Six, left Earth in desperate times. The leadership of the Electi chose to take its people and flee to one of the worlds in the Great Survey, sight unseen. It would take a century to arrive, but with careful planning they believed it was the right thing to do for their people. 

In the deep black between star systems, it traveled for years, untouched… until it hit a cloud of radiation that fried key systems and introduced genetics anomalies to its sleeping denizens. The ship’s AI, in an attempt to keep it’s charges alive, allows those affected in stasis to change and applies the scientific method, releasing “normals” and “remodels” in wave after wave, attempting to improve the process. 

Deep in the bowels of the ship, tribes of surviving remodels have found a home, tagged with QR codes denoting them as Mk1, Mk2, Mk3… each a bit more refined as the computer plays with settings to adjust the growing genetic fluctuations. 

Regular cycles see the ship release trained, unaffected crew from more hardened sleeping areas untouched by the radiation. These crews are released with no knowledge of their situation and are set loose to clean up the messes the AI has left them.

The Remodels are collections of genetic traits providing value bumps to one or more ability scores. Each level of “Mk” provides a single stat bump or a creature trait making them more and more deadly with each new batch. 

Your crew has been released from cryo sleep and must now figure out the situation and deal accordingly. The AI remains silent until the PCs near the sleep quadrant it is quietly working to Remodel as the next batch, but it will do nothing more than redirect earlier batches to get in their way until then.

Unlike thinking machines affected by BANCE gate radiation, the AI is not sentient — simply operating with damaged systems and an overdeveloped sense of purpose to save its charges by any means necessary. 

Note: The ship could also find its way into a crowded trade lane somewhere on the outer edges of the Dominion (which spread more quickly after the BANCE gates were in place) — causing trouble for the locals who request a Space Marine detachment to check it out… This would please the AI, as it would gain new DNA to add to its miasma of research samples.

Looking for more creatures for your Aliens & Asteroids campaign? Check out the rest of the articles about the system! What other movie trailers would you like to see explored in this manner? Leave a comment below or drop me a message via e-mail or on social media!

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