Mass Effect Act 2

The next three acts I publish, starting with this one, can be played in any order. They comprise the bulk of the gameplay from Mass Effect and feature the scenes in which Shepard gathers information about Saren and begins to piece together the fragments that will allow him understand the message in the prothean beacon. As there is no official order, I’m going to be publishing them in the order that I tend to play them. Therum and the mission to recruit Liara comes first. Next will be Feros and gathering the “cipher” from the Thorian. I will follow that with Act 5, which covers the events at Noveria and Saren’s experiments to revive the rachni.

Step 1: Organize the flow of each act.

  • Act 2: Find Benezia’s Daughter
    • Matriarch Benezia, a powerful asari working with Saren, has a single daughter. Saren’s troops are making an effort to retrieve her. The squad’s goal is to make contact with Dr. T’Soni and determine if she is working with her mother or otherwise gather intelligence on Saren’s activities.
    • Travel to the planet Therum in the Knossos system where Liara is working on an archaeology dig.
    • When the squad arrives at Therum, they find that geth are already there and have attacked the dig site. Anti-aircraft batteries are in place, so the nearest the Normandy can drop off the ground squad is ten kilometers out from the objective.
    • The squad will need to travel to the dig site, fighting geth and disabling anti-air batteries as they go.
    • Once in the dig proper, they find the majority of scientists killed and Dr. T’Soni trapped within a powerful kinetic barrier. She cannot reach the controls and the barrier prevents the squad from reaching them, as well. A way around must be determined.
    • In the game, players must a powerful laser drill to create a tunnel under the kinetic barrier. Alternate solutions exist in the table top RPG.
    • Rescue Dr. T’Soni.
    • The dig site becomes unstable (either the drill went too deep or the geth trigger an explosive in the volcanic basin) and the squad must escape, though a krogan battlemaster stands in their way with a squad of geth assault troops.
    • In the climactic scene, the squad races out of the crumbling structure of the pre-fab dig site and are rescued by Joker’s impeccable timing as he pilots the Normandy in for a split second rescue.

Step 2: Each Act needs a Setting, Hook, and Buildup.

  • Act 2 Setting: Blasted Plains of Therum
    • Therum is a barren, rocky, volcanic planet. The path to the prothean dig site is across a plain of volcanic rock divided by lava flows and canyons.
    • Anti-aircraft camp: the geth have set up AA sites around the dig site to keep others away during the mission. They are towers of metal hidden within canyons. Geth troops swarm over them.
    • Dig site exterior: several powerful geth (1 geth armature, 2 geth prime, and a squad of troopers or rocket troopers) stand guard at the entrance to the dig site proper.
    • Dig site interior: catwalks crisscross through an ancient prothean building. The construction is vaguely hive-like. At the bottom of the structure they encounter Dr. T’Soni. Only a handful of geth remain inside the dig site. Removing them should be a priority before freeing Dr. T’Soni.
    • Dig site elevator: the central elevator is a tall, cylindrical shaft. A platform fills the entire shaft and raises and lowers as needed. This is the only way out as the volcanic activity in the area has sealed the other entrances.
  • Act 2 Hooks:
    • Information on Saren: Liara T’Soni, Matriach Benezia’s daughter, is an archaeologist on a dig on Therum. She may prove a useful asset in the fight against Saren or retrieving her may give some hold over the matriarch.
  • Act 2 Buildup: Landing on Therum
    • Approaching the planet is easy enough for the Normandy and her stealth system but landing near the dig site is impossible. Have Joker find a place where the Mako can be put down.
    • Paragon characters can put down further away, meaning they will have to fight over more terrain and through more geth.
    • Renegade characters may want to put down closer using a high speed drop of the Mako over unfriendly territory. They (probably) won’t have to fight as many geth but the Normandy may take some heat.

Step 3: Sketch Out a Few Action Scenes

  • Action Scene: Fight to the Dig Site
    • The dig site is nearly ten kilometers away. The squad will need to fight through enemy occupied territory to do so. Roaming bands of geth patrol the area. Geth primes and armatures pose the greatest threat, especially if they arrive in force. The Mako is a powerful asset in these fights but the characters may be at a disadvantage using it.
  • Action Scene: Clear the Anti-Aircraft Towers
    • The anti-air towers are heavily patrolled by geth troopers and rocket troopers. Several primes also are on guard duty.
    • To deactivate a turret, a squad member must succeed on a roll against the doom pool.
  • Action Scene: Navigating the Canyons
    • The Mako encounters a canyon too narrow to traverse and the squad must advance on foot. There is one more AA turret at the main entrance of the dig site.
    • The last AA turret is guarded by a geth armature, two primes, and a squad of rocket troopers. It’s going to be a tough fight!
  • Action Scene: Clearing the Dig Site and Rescuing Liara
    • The last few geth troopers in the dig site should be taken care of before dealing with the kinetic barrier Liara has trapped herself in.
    • The squad will need to bypass the barrier in order to proceed.
      • Succeed on an action against the doom pool to drill a hole under the barrier.
      • Succeed on an action against the doom pool to open a previously locked door.
      • Some other clever, inventive solution to the problem.
  • Action Scene: Getting Out
    • After rescuing Liara, the dig site becomes unstable and will soon collapse. The squad takes the central elevator up to escape.
    • At the top of the shaft they encounter a krogan and a small squad of geth. While the krogan seems to enjoy gloating, it’s obvious he won’t let you go and a fight is inevitable.
    • 1 krogan battlemaster, 1 geth sniper, 3D6 worth of geth troopers.

Step 4: Sketch Out a Few Transition Scenes

  • Scene: Get to know the squad
    • Have the squad members talk amongst themselves about their personal histories and goals.
  • Scene: Talk to Liara
    • At the first encounter with Liara, have the characters take some time to get to know her before making the site unstable and taking the elevator.

Step 5: Create Event Milestones and Unlockables

  • Unlockable: Prothean Scholar (5/10)
    • The squad is going to be spending a lot of time traveling the galaxy. They will have plenty of opportunity to see and explore prothean ruins. Characters may spend 5 or 10 xp during a transition scene during this act to begin collecting and analyzing data on prothean ruins. Doing so will give them the opportunity to create resources based on academic reputation.

Step 6: Conclusion

  • The conclusion to the act comes Liara is successfully rescued from the geth attack and brought to the Normandy.
  • Liara is unaware of her mother’s betrayal and has no knowledge of any plans Benezia or Saren may have. If Shepard has already received the cipher from Feros, she will help him decipher it. If the squad has already completed the mission to Noveria, this is the first word Liara has received of her mother’s death.
  • If this is the third act that has been completed in the Event, next is Act 4: Virmire. If this act comes after Virmire, the Normandy is recalled to the Citadel for Act 6: Escaping the Citadel and Ilos.

About PK

PK Sullivan is a game designer and writer living in Chicago.
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