This adventure took place in the realm I and a friend are creating using a early version of the roleplaying system I'm designing. This was the second adventure for the crew of the exploration ship Endeavour. In this case, some of the crew, including the player characters, were making brief planetary surveys in unexplored systems in a runabout. During this exploration, they encountered an unknown ship. They were able to make contact since their communications officer had deciphered the local trade languages by monitoring communications in the area, and they discovered that the ship, manned by a humanoid people known as the Nyba, were searching nearby systems for the runabout containing their missing executive officer.
The player characters offered to help search. The offer was gratefully accepted, and the two ships left in different directions to find signs of the missing runabout. Shortly thereafter, the player characters approached an arboreal planet where four attack drones approached them from orbit and shot the runabout down. Everyone aboard the runabout woke with minor injuries, though the runabout itself was no longer salvageable. They found no signs of the other runabout, but they later found the missing officer. She was being forced to fight a primitive people here in repeated bouts of hand-to-hand combat until they rendered her unconscious. Despite the primitive clothing and surroundings, though, the natives appeared to be wearing advanced energy weapons in holsters on their sides.
Using a clever strategy of distraction by playing the roars of dangerous native predators, they were able to scare the natives into leaving. The now unconscious Nyba officer was being dragged away by two of the natives, and the Endeavour's security officer slipped in close to those two natives and managed to rescue the Nyba officer, who, as it turned out, was only faking unconsciousness. She told them she'd been kidnapped from her runabout by a ship she didn't recognize. She had quickly been rendered unconscious, though she didn't know how, and had awakened mysteriously on this planet and been forced to fight. When she realized they would fight her until she was unconscious, she started pretending to be knocked out early in order to hold out longer and reduce the injuries she was taking.
After learning what they could from her and treating her injuries, the party continued investigating the area. They later found a vast elevator leading into space with a strange, cybernetically advanced man leading a group of these natives. He revealed that the natives were being trained to become a part of their military forces, which is why they were being given experience fighting military personnel from nearby civilizations. Believing that fighting the party would be good practice for the natives, he used the elevator to leave. After a somewhat long battle, the party defeated the group of natives.
By this time, the Endeavour had encountered the Nyba ship. Teaming together, the two had discovered this planet and the crashed runabout. After engaging and destroying a hostile ship that met them in orbit, they tried to approach the position of the party below, but they discovered a space station above the planet armed with a powerful energy cannon with an extremely long effective range. This prevented them from sending help to the party below, but they were able to contact the party and let them know what the space elevator led to. The party was given a choice: they could wait for an attack fleet to arrive and try to disarm the station, or they could use the elevator and attempt to disarm the cannon from within. Knowing that an space battle against such an advanced station would likely lead to heavy losses for an uncertain outcome, the party agreed to infilitrate the station.
After the long ride up the space elevator, they found that there was no one in the area of the station they came to. Further investigation lead them to an archive room, where they found, to their surprise, that their translation device had the language on record, previously deciphered on an archaeological expedition. This allowed them to investigate the archive. Here, they discovered that the station was built by a race called the Moradon, which had a vast empire across that region of space until a great war critically weakened it 50,000 years ago, allowing their subject worlds and enemies to bring the empire its great fall. Since then, the very few survivors of the race had been trying to reclaim their past glory. With so few of them left, they had resorted to extreme cybernetic enhancement in order to allow them to fight against superior numbers and had reclaimed as much of their advanced technology as they could. They had also developed a new strategy of taking over primitive civilizations using their advanced technology and forcing them to train to become part of their military.
One of the party, who had left an more advanced civilization on a type of pilgrimage, found a story in the archive about his people fighting a Moradon station like this. They had attacked the Moradon with a full battle fleet and had boarded the station with hundreds of troops only to have the entire force defeated by the ten Moradon on board. On their second attack, they didn't bother with a boarding action, and thus managed to destroy it. That station had been unusual since it had contained their ruling council; a station like normally operated with only two personnel.
Note that I said ten of them had defeated hundreds of troops, and these troops had more advanced weapons, armor, and equipment than anyone in this party. Thus, you can imagine my surprise when the player roleplaying the security chief pronounced quite confidently, "Oh, there's only two of them!" The other players didn't seem too concerned, either.
Granted, this was only the second time this combat system had been used, and granted I'd made enemies far too easy in the last adventure. Indeed, the big, bad beast I'd had them fight in the last adventure had been defeated by a few lucky critical hits before it did much of anything, so there was some cause to be a little overconfident. That said, I'd warned them that I'd hadn't held back nearly as much this time. While their fights had been easy so far, I was pretty sure this fight would not be.
And I was quite right. The player would be eating those words.
The party left the archive room to end up finding one of the Moradon waiting for them in Engineering. The other Moradon stepped up behind them. After a brief conversation, the Moradon attacked. One of their cybernetic weapons allowed them to shoot three targets at once, and this proved quite effective. Though not a powerful weapon, I had the entire party hurting after only a few rounds. Indeed, had I kept the Moradon pursuing an aggressive strategy, they likely would have killed every member of the party. It appeared I'd overcompensated from the previous disappointing battle; however, by having them switch to a more defensive strategy, the party was able to start getting the necessary shots in. They managed to overcome, though they had definitely taken their licks as well.
And though they won, I was still left shaking my head at the comment about there only being two of them. I believe some arrogance and overconfidence was cured that day.