A Call To Arms

Another interesting book with interesting aliens that I have recently read is A Call To Arms by Alan Dean Foster.

Some of us may remember Alan Dean Foster’s terrible Star Wars book The Splinter of the Minds Eye. But it was a long time since I read that book. What I still remember about it was that it didn’t really fit into the Star Wars canon very well. So maybe it was just that problem and it may not have been that poorly written.

Anyway, I decided to give his “The Damned” series a chance. A Call To Arms is the first book. The cover looked cool, but it turned out that the aliens in this book was quite poor warriors. Most aliens was quite poor at most things. They were like 0-points aliens from GURPS Aliens. All aliens had disadvantages. No aliens was good at warfare.

The reason given for the aliens to be bad at warfare was that an advanced race would (normally) have to abandon all sorts of violence to become an advances race. This is something that would normally happen in the race’s prehistory. This is a quite interesting idea.

The problem was that there was a big interstellar war going on… A race called the Amplitur wanted all other galactic races to join what they call the Amplitur Purpose. A number of races think this is a bad idea and has formed what they call the Weave. Neither side has any good soldiers. Then the Weave find the Earth… This is just the start of the book.

A Call To Arms

The book is really good and the different races are well describes. The plot is interesting. I think there are lots of ideas that can be mined for your Traveller setting here. This may even inspire you to come up with a new Traveller setting.

This book is the first one in The Damned Trilogy. I will try to find and read the other two.

The Bronze Case

The short Mongoose Traveller adventure ‘The Bronze Case’ by Richard Hazlewood was published by Stellagama Publishing in May 2016. On the surface, the adventure concerns the transport of a Bronze Case through local areas on a backwater planet after the players respond to a struggle in their hotel in the middle of the night. But Hazlewood is also interested in involving the players in the politics of local gangs, industrial espionage, a climactic car chase, and the promise of a reward to intrigued player characters. Hazlewood and Stellagama Publishing aim to provide a Referee with everything he or she needs for a quick side adventure on a local world. It can easily fit into an on-going Traveller campaign.

The adventure is structured to clearly present each encounter or scene in the story in chronological order. No Traveller era is mandated, just a suggested world profile where the adventure might take place. The local gang politics and local history are generic enough to slot into many worlds. The Referee is provided with full character profiles for all important NPCs, and detailed references to the Mongoose rules for vehicles, equipment and other props needed for the story. The different encounters provide detailed advice to the Referee to deal with common player responses to the situation.

The Bronze Case takes place in a world where the law level has recently been raised to 9 as the result of local political developments which give rise to the complications with gangs in the adventure. Although the broad history is detailed, the local police force culture is not, but this leaves the Referee free to fill in details. At the beginning of the adventure we are introduced to an alluring woman who wants help dealing with a mysterious attack in the middle of the night. It is completely up to the players to respond – or the adventure ends at the beginning! Some good Refereeing may be needed to get this started without railroading the players; but this is an age old problem for all Referees. When the players respond they are drawn into her circumstance, and are made an offer of money to help. The apparently simple problem is to help “Amy” get a case to a particular facility. What is not revealed immediately is who is after it and why – but the Referee receives a full briefing on the background of gang territory and the local politics that produced the current situation. The climax is a vehicle chase and possible fire fight to overcome thugs who want the case for themselves. The ever-present threat of rival interest in the case keeps the story moving and provides motivation for the players to see the adventure through.

The layout is simple but effective. Castellani’s illustrations of “Amy” set a suitable action mood for the story. While there are only two graphics, the layout provides a Referee with easy access to all of the information needed. The short nature of the adventure means after one read-through, the Referee is ready for a session.

Image used with permission from Stellagama Publishing

Hazlewood and Stellagama Publishing have successfully presented here a quick-paced side adventure with everything a Referee needs to run it. For those Referees who play other versions of Traveller, the information provided is easily enough to quickly convert to other Traveller systems. If successfully navigated, players will be rewarded with interesting contacts, and a Referee is free to flesh out further details in store for players’ return to the planet.

And the winner is…

It was quite difficult to pick the winners of the 76 patrons contest this last year of the contest. There were 11 good entries to choose from.

But one Patron stood out from the rest. It was written in a very inspiring way. It may have missed the brief a bit since it may seem unethical (but the PCs should believe that they are stopping a crime, so it really isn’t unethical). It also may seem a bit copied from the Firefly episode “The Train Job” and using ideas from “Johnny Mnemonic” but it could also be played in many different ways. Anyway, I think it was the best one! The winner is Hypercognitive by Michael Brown. Well done and Congratulations!

Second place goes to Idol of the Space God by Roland Volz. It is a very fun idea that could be expanded into many related adventures using this church and/or the idols as a theme.

Third place goes to Hewitt’s Hog Rides Again by KJ Potter. Recovering that mortar and the military aspect of this and/or additional adventures using this makes this an interesting Patron.

  1. Hypercognitive (by Michael Brown) $100
  2. Idol of the Space God (by Roland Volz) $60
  3. Hewitt’s Hog Rides Again (by KJ Potter) $40

Trophy

Other winners are Marcus Maximus ($ 15) for being the most productive contestant.

Alegis Downport for writing the Patron that attracts most SPAM comments ($ 5).

Flynn for including his own name ($ 5).

Ron Smith for an excellent campaign starting Patron ($ 5).

Aza, for almost cheating but still writing a cool adventure ($ 5).

Finally Jim Vassilakos for his very interesting Patron in the Foreven sector and for including the Zhodani in option 5 and 6 ($ 10).

All winners will be contacted. All prizes are Gift Certificates at DriveThruRPG.

I want to say a big Thank You to all contestants!

This was the last Zhodani Base 76 Patrons contest. Unfortunately we only have 73 Patrons now. I have to write 3 Patrons myself. I have some ideas… But if you have an idea and want to help, then please contact BeRKA.

11 new Patrons this year

In the final 76 Patrons contest we received 11 entries.

This years entries:

  1. Sir Robert Williams, Knight (by Flynn)
  2. Idol of the Space God (by Roland Volz)
  3. The Cousin (by Ron Smith)
  4. Madama Butterfly (by Aza)
  5. The Sylan Extraction (by Jim Vassilakos)
  6. Affluenza (by Marcus Maximus)
  7. Hearts and Minds (by Marcus Maximus)
  8. The Hidden Cache (by Marcus Maximus)
  9. Technical Support (by Alegis Downport)
  10. Hewitt’s Hog Rides Again (by KJ Potter)
  11. Hypercognitive (by Michael Brown)

GasGiant-11
Now I have a lot to think about. I will announce the winner in a few days. Until then, please comment, like and share. Tell us which entry you like the most and why! Both here and on other sites.

Hypercognitive

Patron: Merchant
Required Equipment: Vehicle

Players’ Information:

The way the guy — Ambrosius Kemp, the owner of an export business over in Startown — was waving his hands around and sweating, I’d have thought he was gonna keel over any moment. He had called us in to talk to us about a job, but the more he talked, the more agitated he got. He kept going on about how time was running out and how he’d be ruined if we couldn’t help him. I watched him; if he didn’t calm down soon, his time was gonna run out. A sneaked a glance over at Vajra, and she must’ve thought so, too; her fingers were inching closer to her sidearm.

The Colonel finally got Kemp to calm down long enough to explain what it was he wanted. Kemp sat down — actually, he more like collapsed — behind his desk, and took a deep breath before starting his spiel. Seems he has a partner, name of Aquino, who had one of those cybernetic drives installed in his brain so he could better keep up with the number-crunching and the day-to-day. That upgrade made Aquino a whiz-kid who doubled the company’s income in a matter of weeks. Trouble is, in those same weeks, Kemp noticed Aquino acting more and more strange. Finally, Kemp decided to do something, but Aquino beat him to it; he checked out of town. But not before helping himself to the company’s most sensitive data and a big slice of the company’s finances to the tune of Cr5,000,000. One of us let out a low whistle at the figure. I started imagining all kinds of things I could do with that kind of puli. Kemp wrecked my daydream by repeating that loss would ruin him.

He paused, and the Colonel had to prod him for more info. Kemp knew he had to locate Aquino fast. He made a lot of commcalls and called in most of his favors, but he finally found out where Aquino was: aboard the planetary hyper rail, headed for the world capital. Another low whistle, from myself this time. Hyper rails are the last word in maglevs, and this planet wasn’t that big; the train would get to the capital in a matter of hours. No wonder Kemp kept saying time was short. Worse, Kemp said that the capital was also the subsector headquarters for Periva Factors, a big brokerage firm that had been trying to get its hooks in Kemp’s firm for a long time. He was certain that’s where Aquino was headed. If he made it, Kemp could say bye-bye to everything he’d built over the years.

Kemp wanted us to intercept the hyper rail, locate Aquino, and get him back to Kemp, who’d have people waiting to deal with that pesky implant. For our trouble, he’d pay us one-tenth of the amount Aquino ran off with. Five hundred thousand for grabbing a guy off a train and bringing him home? Not too shabby.

The Train
The Train – Image from wikimedia – CC-BY-SA-2.0

Referee’s Information:

The hyper rail will reach its destination in six hours. It makes two scheduled stops, one two hours into its trip, the other two hours later. It spends 30 minutes at each stop before continuing. If the adventurers choose not to board the train at the stops, they will have to come up with another way to do so while it’s moving at hundreds of kilometers per hour.

Once aboard the hyper rail, it’s up to the players how they find Aquino and remove him from the train. The referee should determine what security arrangements are in place. At a minimum, it’ll have an Anti-Hijack program (similar to the program mentioned in Book 2: Starships) and an armed guard or two.

While the implant is active, Aquino has total recall and cognitive function that gives him an equivalent INT of F.

1. All is as represented.

2. Kemp is lying; he’s actually guilty of gross corporate malfeasance and has been embezzling funds from the company. Aquino finally had enough, downloaded the evidence, and headed for the World Court in the capital. If the group succeeds in returning Aquino, Kemp will kill him as soon as the adventurers leave.

3. As 1, except Aquino’s not responsible for his actions; the implant malfunctioned and caused temporary insanity. Aquino will be subject to periods of paranoia and rage until the implant is deactivated.

4. Kemp only thinks Aquino has betrayed him. In actuality, Aquino’s actually bent on committing an act of corporate sabotage. He downloaded only copies of the company’s files as bait, and included a computer virus designed to infect and destroy Periva’s system. If he succeeds in his mission, Periva Factors’ operations will be irreparably damaged and the company will be out of business in a month.

5. As 1, 3, or 4, except that a third party has found out about Aquino’s mission and wants to help itself to the secrets locked in his head. 1D+2 crack assassins (adjust for PC strength) will attempt to kidnap Aquino and head for parts unknown.

6. As 1, except that the train is also carrying a valuable cargo, which is guarded by a contingent of planetary troops. The soldiers will consider any disturbance as an attempt to steal the cargo and act accordingly.

Hewitt’s Hog Rides Again

Patron: Army Officer
Required Skills: engineering, electronics
Required Equipment:  Engineering tools
Location: Roia (Foreven 0919) C573873-7

Players’ Information:

Roia (Foreven Sector 0919 in Anika Subsector) is a small, arid world wi th a population of 400 million. Though nominally under the control of a central world government, the reality is that local governors and satraps wield the real power and pay little more than lip service to the capital. Constant infighting between them sometimes spills over into open warfare.

About ten years ago, the government brought in offworld mercenaries in an effort to bring some of the more independent regional governors to heel. Many of these governors hired mercenary units of their own, and several years of bitter fighting followed. The exhausted and cash-strapped factions recently concluded a ceasefire, which did little to change the local status quo. Though the mercenary companies are gone, local militia forces with improvised armored vehicles and cast-off weapons continue to eye each other over mine-strewn no-man’s lands.

The team is contacted by Captain Richtoph, an ambitious officer serving a minor provincial governor in the distant outback. He is seeking technical advisors to repair a damaged vehicle abandoned by one of the departed mercenary units.

Richtoph produces a series of photos of the wreck. The vehicle in question is a TL-10 armored mortar carrier. Its name, Hewitt’s Hog, is stenciled in faded letters on the hull glacis. Its air-cushion suspension and drive fans are wrecked beyond repair. The turret and 18cm RAM mortar are intact, however. Richtoph believes that they can be used if supplied with a functioning power plant, and he has already acquired a supply of ammunition on the black market. He intends to mount the hulk on a wheeled heavy-equipment transporter, strap it in place, and use it as a sort of improvised self-propelled artillery piece–with a weapon far more advanced than any possessed by his local rivals.

Richtoph will provide transport to the wreck site outside the provincial capital of Korsten, as well as a heavy wreck crane, a transporter, and a detachment of militia for security. He would like the team to recover the wreck and repair its powerplant and weapons. He will pay each team member Cr. 10,000 to load the hulk and deliver it to the militia base in Korsten, and an additional Cr. 10,000 if they can get its weapons working again.

Mortar
The Mortar – Image from wikimedia – CC-BY-SA 3.0
(Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-695-0424-15A / Leher / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Referee’s Information:

Recovering the wreck is not that easy.

1. All is as represented. The wreck is long-abandoned but despite the damage to the air-cushion skirts the hull is intact. With the proper skills and some parts sourced from the planetary starport, the powerplant can be repaired and the turret weapons made functional.

2. All is as represented, but the powerplant was badly damaged by the mine blast and must be completely replaced. A replacement is not available on-world. It will take weeks to order one from Ereidlier (Pieplow 0818), the nearest source.

3. Hewitt’s Hog is junk and cannot be repaired, but its mission computer contains mercenary data logs and encrypted communications codes, which may be valuable off-world. Captain Richtoph has only a superficial understanding of computers and will not stop the team from taking the storage banks if they do so discretely.

4. All seems to be as represented, but the work around Hewitt’s Hog has attracted the attention of a neighboring warlord, who recognizes the threat it poses to his own militia forces if repaired. A team of his agents, posing as laborers recruited for the task, seek to sabotage the recovery effort and destroy the Hog. They have access to small arms, grenades, and an explosive charge. Captain Richtoph’s militia will prove nearly useless in their security role, so it will be up to the team to detect and stop these agents.

5. As above, but the rival warlord launches a platoon-sized military raid to destroy the Hog, or even capture it for himself. This force will be mounted in wheeled heavy trucks with improvised armor, recoilless rifles, and machineguns. As above, the warlord also has one or two agents among the laborers working on the project, who will keep him advised by radio of the team’s progress.

6. The governor who Captain Richtoph represents is far more brutal than the team initially understood. Upon arrival it becomes obvious that he rules his province with an iron hand and a powerful secret police force. He intends to use Hewitt’s Hog to shatter the hill-forts of his regional rivals, consolidating power in his own hands and greatly increasing his holdings. Whether the team wants to help provide a powerful and destabilizing weapon to such a warlord is up to them.

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