Friday, February 15, 2013

Battle Beyond The Sun (1959) & (1962) For Your Old School Space Opera

  Here's what wiki had to say about Battle Beyond The Sun : 
Battle Beyond the Sun (RussianНебо зоветtranslit. Nebo zovet, lit. The Sky is Calling) is a 1959 Soviet science fiction film directed by Mikhail Karyukov and Aleksandr Kozyr. It tells of the "space race", with the USSR forced into competing with the USA to become the first nation to land a spacecraft on the planet Mars.
 The Russian film came out in 1959 and had a pretty interesting plot
Again here we've got Wiki : 
A reporter interviews Dr. Kornev about his work in space travel. While writing his story, the reporter daydreams about such a future. In the daydream, he and others board a rocket that takes them to an orbiting space station. There, he learns the large rocket, the Rodina docked at the station. A short while later, an American rocket, the Typhoon, arrives at the space station. The soviet scientists hold a dinner for the visitors. At the dinner, Kornev announces that the Rodina's will travel to the planet Mars in a few days, The Americans, Clark and Verst are taken aback. The Typhoon was secretly prepared to make the first Mars mission. The reckless American authorities order Clark to take the Typhoon to Mars immediately. In their haste to blast off, they inure Somov, the Rodina's pilot. Gordiienko steps in as the new pilot. He and Kornev take off in Rodina as planned. Not long after departure, things go wrong aboard Typhoon. Their course is off and they don't have enough fuel to correct it. Now they're headed for an asteroid belt and if they survive that, a collision course with the sun. Clark radios the bad news. Kornev decides they can help and fly Rodina to the rescue. Doing so, however, used too much fuel, so Rodina must land on the asteroid Icarus where they all get at least a fine view of Mars. A pilotless refueling rocket is sent to Icarus, but crashes. The men on Icarus despair. Verst awakens to see a fifth man on Icarus. It's Somov. He flew another pilotless refueling rocket to Icarus, but since it wasn't built for being manned, he suffered lethal cosmic radiation and dies. The four are able to blast off and return to a hero's greeting in the Soviet Union.
Then Roger Corman And Francis Ford Coppola came along and revamped the movie into something completely different.

From Wiki: Roger Corman acquired the film for US distribution and hired a young film-school student named Francis Ford Coppola to Westernize it. In addition to preparing a dubbing script free of anti-American propaganda and supervising the dubbing, Coppola filmed a few shots of two space monsters fighting and cut them into the Soviet material. According to Jack Hill, who worked on the new version (it was his first paid job for Roger Corman), Coppola's idea was that one monster would look like a penis and the other a vagina.[1] The new monster scenes were shot on a sound stage at Hollywood. Hill and Coppola also shot some footage of the Rose Bowl Parade at Pasadena.
 The Corman Plot is interesting and can be minded for some very interesting ideas
According to wiki : 
"The film opens with a non-sequitur prologue in which a hard-boiled narrator explains space flight concepts. Models of space craft "currently under development by the United States Government" are shown in succession. The narrator usefully explains that "the motion picture you are about to see, may be called 'a fantasy of the future.'"
The time: November the "fear ridden years following the great atomic war." The world has been divided by north-south hemispere. The two countries: North Hemis - South Hemis, are clearly analogues for the United States & Soviet Union. The camera zooms in toward the South Hemis banner.
Dr. Albert Gordon, and his wife, Dr. Ruth Gordon currently head the top secret project 'Red Planet' for South Hemis (the footage we see is dubbed from the original Russian-Soviet; names have been Anglicized.)
A space mission -more re-purposed footage- blasts off for an orbiting space station. The mission docks with the station, delivering the Gordons, as well as "Astronaut Craig Matthews."
South Hemis has been developing a spacecraft which SHOULD be able to complete a mission to Mars. Solar and orbital conditions are favorable. Suddenly, another spaceship is detected approaching the station. It is from North Hemis. It requests permission to land for emergency repairs. The request is granted.
The two North Hemis astronauts -Captain Torrance and his co-pilot- are treated to dinner by their South Hemis hosts. Dr. Gordon reveals that they themselves are about to commence a flight to Mars. The two North Hemis astronauts decide to end dinner, because "it's getting late.
Captain Torrance confers with his superiors in North Hemis. He wants to pre-empt the South Hemis flight to Mars with their own mission, Meanwhile Dr. ___ meets with Doctor Gordon to discuss both missions. The North Hemis astronaut refuses to divulge any information about the North Hemis plan. Captain Torrance says "I cannot accept defeat." He disconnects from his North Hemis superiors and barges in on the meeting between Dr.___ and Dr. Gordon. Outside in the corridor, Captain Torrace decides to commence with the flight to Mars anyway. "Our repairs my not hold up," says the other man.
They decide to commandeer their rocketship -the Typhoon- under cover of trying to repair it. They blast-off: full power. Craig Matthews -the South Hemis astronaut- is caught in the rocket back blast. He is injured. Meanwhile, the Typhoon sets course for Mars.
Craig Matthews has his injuries examined: concussion. He cannot go on a pursuit mission after the Typhoon. Dr. Gordon will go along with another South Hemis astronaut.
Ths mission launches. Meanwhile, the Typhoon encounters a meteor storm, and its course veers dangerously close to the sun. The ship is disabled. The South Hemis ship locates them and eventually intercepts. The other astronaut effects an EVA transfer of the two North Hemis astronauts. The South Hemis ship abandons the Typhoon to space.
Now, the South Hemis ship is low on fuel. There's no way they can make it to Mars. Dr. Gordon decides to land on the asteroid Angkor which orbits Mars (Mars, in reality is orbited by two planetoid moons Phobos and Deimos.) The ship successfully lands on the asteroid. A brief insert shows a vague form in the shadows behind a rock formation. It roars: a monster.
Meanwhile, back at the space station, the South Hemis superiors decided to send a fuel rocket to Angkor. This will allow the stranded rocket to re-fuel and return home. The fuel pod is successfully launched. Dr. Gordon and his team appear to gain remote control of it, but something (solar radiation?) interferes with its guidance system and it crashes into the asteroid - exploding.
South Hemis decides to send a second -manned- fuel rocket to the asteroid. Astronaut Craig Matthews will pilot the flight. The fuel pod successfully makes the journey and lands on Angkor. Matthews must leave the ship in order to rendezvous with Dr. Gordon and his stranded team. As he makes his way across the craggy asteroid surface, he encounters two monsters in combat. He continues toward Dr. Gordon's stranded rocket, but collapses and dies. It is understood that he conveyed the whereabouts of the landed fuel rocket. Dr. Gordon and his team can return to Earth.
The rocket launches. It passes the space station and returns to Earth, landing at an offshore platform. Adoring throngs of people -more re-purposed Soviet footage- greet them with exburant admiration. Boats are launched to pick up the team. They return to shore. Dr. Gordon reunites with his wife. They embrace. Children present them with flowers.
Dr. Gordon and his team did not make it to Mars, but they have set the stage for more heroic exploration of space...sometime in the near-future." 
Battle Beyond The Sun Movie 

Mining "Battle Beyond The Sun" For Your OSR campaign 
 It may not look it but the film has a ton of stuff to offer. The original plot can serve as a jump off point for an Xplorers or SWN game with little problem. Should the DM decide to go with a pro Soviet view point for a different kind of game the Russian film offers an interesting retro future from an alternative history timeline.

The Roger Corman effort offers a much more entertaining and inviting retro future to play in.  
"The time: November the "fear ridden years following the great atomic war." The world has been divided by north-south hemispere. The two countries: North Hemis - South Hemis, are clearly analogues for the United States & Soviet Union. The camera zooms in toward the South Hemis banner." 
These pesudo imaginary countries are the perfect jump off point for an alternative history for a Mutant Future/Star Ships and Space Men 2nd edition game. Its all there to use. The Atomic War, the paranoid countries  and a seething boiling plot of nationalism with a helping of a space race on the side. Then there are the monsters.

Asteroid  Ripper

Number Appearing : 1d3 
Armor Class: 5(14)
Hit Dice : 4+4 
Attacks: Tendril Claw 1d6, Vertical Toothed Maw 1d4 
Special : Immunities 
Move :9 
HDE/XP : 6/400
These creatures are a type of parasite worm monster employed as ancient gene modified mining worker creatures. They have mutated far beyond their intended design. These creatures are a mix of worm, Lovecratian monster, and pseudo nightmare from beyond the pale. These creatures infest many asteroids within our solar system and they posses a  box chemistry capable of surviving out in the depths of the asteroid fields.
Because of their alien mental makeup they are immune to charm, sleep, and many other mind alternative psychic disciplines. The monsters monsters grab adventurers within their tendril claws for 1d6 and then attack them with the bio organic acid dripping teeth for an addiitional attack for 1d4 points per round.

 The monsters are always on the look out for the Asteroid Scavenger the natural predator and tied directly to the bizarre biological reproduction of these space going parasites. 

The Space Scavenger 

Number appearing 1d3 
Armor Class : 8(11)
Hit Dice : 4 
Attacks : 1d4 claw swipe and Circular Mouth Parts 1d4 
Specials : Immune to Mind Control, sleep, and other mental influences 
Move 9
HDE /ExpXp : 5/240 
These creatures are the remains of an ancient gene modification process using the genes of the Dhole species , and bits from several other alien worms as well. The monster uses a claw swipe  and a bio organic acidic mouth capable of chewing through a heavy duty space suit in one bite. The creature's eyes are able to see far  into the infrared and beyond. The creature's life cycle is dependent upon the Asteroid ripper. There alien minds of these creatures make them immune to any charm, domination, or other psychic abilities.
Little Giant Exploration Craft 

Crew : 6
Drive : Nuclear Fuel
Hit Dice : 30
Armor Class : 7 
Weaponry : Scatter Laser Asteroid Defense system 1d4 
A direct result of the late Atomic Wars these craft were employed during the Imperial period of Old Earth Exploration of the solar system. The design is cheap to produce, easy to manufacture, and reliable. The design is still in production today and can be found thought out the Talon Sector and beyond. 
The Little Spacer Class Star Explorer 
Crew 7 
Drive: Nuclear Fuel
Hit Die 20 
Armor Class :8
Weaponry : Asteroid/Mining Laser system 1d6 per shot.
The Little Spacer is a fast, reliable, ship that appeared during the Imperial age of Old Earth. The design was so successful that the ship is still under production today. There are 42 design variations of this ship in flight today.
Ronda Space Station 

Crew 130
Hit Dice 40 
Weaponry : Soft Spot Laser 1d4 per shot with +2 to hit.
These full service space stations are the back bone of the Old Earth Imperial Era. They are quick to set up and useful upon the ever changing colony and terraforming frontiers. They house 130 families in comfort and some style. A very useful model of space station. 

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