Monday, December 16, 2013

350: Charge Craters

ENTRY 350: Charge Craters

"Omar Patang was walking up the leeward edge of a crater near the Lunar north pole, scouting water ice. The spark came suddenly, and shorted out his suit. Unhurt, Omar managed to walk back to his landcraft before the oxygen in his tank gave out. Dozens of other transhumans haven't been so lucky."
- Charge Craters: The Hidden Menace, Lunar Chamber of Commerce

Even before Luna was permanently inhabited, scientists had theorized that under the right conditions certain crater rims - particularly near the poles - could become electrically charged from ions deposited by the solar wind. A given crater can build up a few hundred volts of static charge before eventually discharging naturally, either in an arc of incandescent dust or a spark to a transhuman's boot.

Static electricity is not a new or unexpected danger to Lunar exploration, and most transhumans who make a profession of moonwalks are aware of the possible dangers. Most vacsuits nowadays are designed as ESD garments, or with extra shielding on essential electrical equipment. Many charge craters have been identified and physically marked with signs and augmented reality tags to prevent random hikers and prospectors. Still, at least a few transhumans a year manage to fail to heed the warnings or take proper precautions, and ends up with a nasty shock or damaging their suit, and on average at least one will die, lending their name and likeness to the legendarium of charge crater ghost stories.


  • Lunar habitats have to deal with the build-up of static charge too, especially when the moon brushes the Earth's magnetosphere. The static can play hell with sensitive electronics, shorting out many sensors or causing them to give erroneous readings - and a clever yegg named Jowls thinks this is the perfect time to pull off the heist of a century. A remote secure server farm contains vast amounts of privileged financial data for companies in the Lunar-LaGrange Alliance - with most of the surrounding sensors disabled, all Jowls needs is for the PCs to get him to the front door so he can crack in and siphon off enough data to make them all millions of credits. Of course, that means an extended moonwalk and breaking in to a secure, static-sensitive complex...if they blow the doors or fail to take the proper precautions going in side, they'll fry the whole thing and be left with nothing for their troubles.
  • Authorities are tired of idiots getting killed by charge craters, and have decided from this point on anyone stupid enough to be killed by them will have their body left to rot their for all time as a warning to others. This "Darwin Warning Statute" has infuriated the families and friends of at least a few of the dumbasses that get themselves killed every year, but until the law goes into effect they have little case in the eyes of the media - so the would-be victim's rights group seek to hire the PCs to stage an accidental death at a charge crater so that they have a case to rally to.
  • Normally charge craters only build up a couple hundred of volts - more than enough for a shock, but only a danger to those with sensitive equipment and unshielded suits. However, lately scientists have been measuring a crater with a charge of 40,000 Volts...and rising. The local lunar scientists have set up a crowdfund reward for anybody that can go there and figure out what is causing the abnormality.

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