Last Frontier

The Last Insecta Frontier

or, "Honey, I shrunk the marines!"

12 September 2176, Local Ship Time

You know all those video serials about some crack team of UNCMC Marines that swashbuckles its way across the galaxy, getting into one suspension-of-disbelief-straining adventure after another? Nine times out of ten the thing that drives the plot is the Schrodinger drive on the marine ship. The episode always starts out with some guy saying, "We were coming back from New Hope, when Something Went Horribly Wrong."

I'm an engineer, so I know all about the small but calculable risk you take every time you make an S jump. And I'll grant that the physics involved are dimly understood even by the handful of theoretical physicists who draw big salaries to understand this sort of thing. But some of those video serials seemed awfully far fetched. Until now.

We were coming back from New Hope, when something went horribly wrong.

I can't use the old plot device that "the drive must've taken a hit somewhere," because it didn't. Dammit, we were just coming back to Terra from a routine garrison tour. But I guess our number came up, because when the ship dropped out of S space and woke up the crew, things were very strange. A yellow star hundreds of times larger in diameter than it had any right to be. An earthlike planet on a similarly gigantic scale, orbiting more than 4 billion km from the primary. The whole thing made even less sense when Dr. Kim on the physics team started measuring basic physical constants.

The only possible way to read the numbers (she explained to the assembled crew in her precise, factual tone of voice) was to conclude that the entire rest of the universe--the stars, the planets, the very atoms themselves--had gotten a hundred times bigger. She even had a tentative theory to explain it, something about superstring resonances when the ship phased from a real object to an S wave equation and back, but the rest of us didn't care about that. We wanted to know the practical implications.

Captain Bresinski scowled. "If everything in the universe, even the fundamental particles, has grown bigger, then what has it grown bigger relative to?"

"I thought I'd made that part clear," Dr. Kim said levelly. "Relative to us. Or if you prefer a different frame of reference--"

The Captain finished the sentence. "--we're the ones that shrunk. Gotten a hundred times smaller."

Kim nodded. "It's clearly what the data show."

So that's the long and short of it. A teeny spacecraft piloted by a bunch of teeny Space Marines. Being a few centimeters tall doesn't feel any different--somehow we kept our own local physics--but who knows what we'll find dirtside. We've failed to make contact with anyone. Either this bizarre mishap threw us into the wrong part of space, or (as Dr. Kim has speculated) it tossed us forward in time, to a post-apocalyptic Earth.

Either way, I'm not hopeful about the welcoming party once we land.

The Last Insecta Frontier

The Last Insecta Frontier uses the Insecta rules except where stated.

Rules sections from Insecta are noted by prefixing "I" to the section number, rules sections from Last Frontier by "LF." (e.g., I2.0, LF3.1)

Terminology: "UN unit" means any unit on the marine player's side, including UNCMC Marines and friendly arthropods. "Marine" means a human marine.

Combat Round Sequence

Replace the Insecta combat round sequence with the following:

A. UN action phase. All UN units act (including friendly bugs). Marines take any of the actions listed in LF3.1, as applicable. Friendly bugs may move at any time in the phase, but attack at the end of the phase (in any order desired). Marines attack as part of their action (as per LF3.0).

B. Hive action phase. All Hive bugs may move, then attack. Projector and close-combat attacks are resolved in any order the Hive player wishes.

C. Automatic Effects Stage. Follow the Insecta rules.

Movement

Marines are considered to use crawling movement. They have no wing pairs. Marines use LF rules for movement, with the following movement allowances:

Humans Heavy humans
Walk 1 Walk 1
Jog 3 Jog 2
Run 4 Run 3

Roots are considered cluttered. Insects and marines use the stacking rules from their respective game systems. Insects and marines do not affect each other's stacking limits.

Marines may carry egg sacs (each egg sac counts as two items) but may not carry food markers.

Combat and Damage Resolution

Marines firing at bugs use the LF rules (LF7.1) when rolling to hit. Count each hex of range as one square. Add one square for hovering bugs. Marines ignore facing.

Resolve damage using the Insecta damage rules. Marine weapons have the following damage values (do not add dice for instar):

RPP7 Plasma Gun D5
G71 Assault Rifle D3
Colt M135 Pistol D2

Marines use LF7.2 (Close combat) to resolve unarmed attacks. As with ranged attacks, use Insecta damage. Marines have an unarmed damage value of D1.

Insects attack marines using the Insecta combat rules. Marines are Instar 1 targets (only for purposes of resolving attacks). Because marines ignore facing, they cannot be rear attacked. Roll damage using the Insecta rules. Marines have 1 defense die. Then determine damage effects by translating Insecta damage into Last Frontier damage as follows:

1-3 NE
4-6 Light
7-9 Down
10+ Kill

Line of Sight. Determine LOS using the Insecta rules. Bugs block marine LOS. Other marines do not, but marines in LOS give penalties to hit as per chart LF7.1C.

(LF7.5) Panic. Marines resolve panic normally, but make only one panic roll per combat round. Further panic-inducing events in the same round have no effect.

(LF7.14) Explosive grenades. For reasons of play balance, marines may not use explosive grenades.

(I6.6) Venom. Venom affects marines normally.

(I6.7) Entanglement. Up to 2 entangle markers may be placed on a marine. Entangled marines may not act.

Special Rules

(I7.4) Nasutus Projector. Nasutus projector venom has no effect on a marine unless the marine has lost suit integrity.

(I7.5) Stinger. Marines may use their 1 defense die to defend against the stinger. This reflects the marines' combat armor.

(I12.1) Crinotoxic Labium. This weapon does not affect a marine unless the marine has lost suit integrity.

(I12.2) Pheromones. Marines ignore pheromones, lacking the correct chemical receptors. Note that the diapause pheromone has no effect on bugs in this variant, because of the modified combat sequence.

Hive Movement

When marines move to a new level, roll randomly to see which transfer area they enter:

1-2 Transfer area 1
3-4 Transfer area 2
5-6 Transfer area 3

When marines enter a new chamber, the Hive player sets up the Hive bugs, as per Insecta. The marines deploy from the transfer area using the Last Frontier deployment rules (LF4.3). All marines must deploy into the chamber; marines may not wait in the transfer area. Marine-friendly bugs set up on the ant hexes, as per the Insecta rules.

When the marines have deployed, they roll normally for surprise (LF5.3). For the first surprise roll of the game, the marines are unaware and add +2 to their roll. The Hive is dark, so marines take the +1 modifier for darkness. (Note that darkness does not also give a -1 penalty to hit, because the Hive bugs emit IR radiation.) If the marines are surprised, they lose their first action phase. Marine-friendly bugs are never surprised.

Ambuscade

If the UN team has arthropod units, follow the normal Insecta rules for the ant lion larva and black widow encounters, but always pick the fastest bug to fall into the trap, never a marine.

If the UN team has no arthropod units, the marines are fooled by the ant lion larva the first time they encounter it. Pick one marine to fall into the pit (as per I12.6). On subsequent encounters with the ant lion larva, the marines ignore the trap. Marines are never fooled by the black widow web.

Ecdysis Phase

The marines treat the ecdysis phase as an orbit turn, and may take orbit turn actions. Marines count as one food morsel.

Scenarios, Victory

These rules were designed with the idea that 12 marines would fight their way through the Hive. Naturally a squad of marines cannot achieve a sociobiological victory (parthenogenic reproduction).

It is also possible to devise scenarios in which marines are traded for mutant insects or even Hive insects. Victory conditions should be adjusted accordingly. Other strange mutations of the rules may also occur to the players. For example, UN researchers might develop pheromone grenades. Or perhaps the colony insects have captured a team of civilians and, horribly, will feed them to their larval offspring if not stopped.


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