All posts by Library Bob

Librarian for 12 years, Traveller gamer since the early 1980’s.

The Oncoming Storm

Location: Highbury (Foreven/Titan 0106) 0926 B566879-9  Ri  (PBG)203
Patron: Colonel Sandovar Fasola, military intelligence officer of Caxburgh, one of the major states of Highbury
Required skills and equipment: none

Players’ Information:
Highbury’s two main land masses are separated by fairly wide oceans, except at one point, known as the Channel. In this narrow passage (32 km at nearest point) is found the chain of islands that make up the country of Glostonburgh, home to 2400 souls. Glostonburgh’s economy is based on fishing, and they export fish and aquaculture goods to nations on both continents.

Caxburgh (103 million) on one continent and Breedony (86 million) on the other are gearing up towards a war. Glostonburgh is officially neutral but both sides have a reason to desire control the islands; the largest island has an excellent harbor, and the islands can serve as staging grounds for invading the other country.

Colonel Fasola wants the PCs to investigate the island, looking for military activity by the other side, to use as a pretext and justification for their own occupation. He’s using off-worlders to minimize risk of being recognized as spies. They are given a special military comm channel which can be utilized by their own comms, and two weeks in which to discover any military ships, planes or vehicles, any uniformed soldiers, or other evidence that Breedony has already violated the neutrality. They will have to provide tangible evidence for the Colonel to take to the high command, preferably visual recordings.

The PCs will be given a cover identity as off-world journalists there to investigate the local aquaculture. They can use this guise or create one of their own. They can use their own contra-grav craft if they have one, or Fasola will arrange for one to be available. At the end of two weeks, the PCs should return, with whatever intelligence they’ve been able to gather. Pay can be negotiated based upon PC’s military background and social skills.

On the Islands
On the Islands – image from wikimedia
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Referee’s Information:
Glostonburgh consists of three main islands and seven smaller ones. The people live along the coasts, in small towns and villages. There are some contra-grav and ground cars, but most islanders walk to get where they’re going. The interior of the islands has some agriculture but the land rises steeply, and much of it is uninhabited, with light to dense forests. Two of the small islands officially have zero population. The referee will have to prepare a sketch map of the island group.

The islanders are, understandably, very nervous and suspicious of visitors. No one will initially want to talk to the PCs. The referee should apply at least a -1 DM to all reaction rolls. The PC’s skills and behavior may influence reactions.

Many islanders are nearly in a panic, looking for any way to escape being occupied. As war news dominates the headlines, there will be increased incidents of looting, public rioting and people trying to beg/borrow/bribe the PCs into transporting them or their children off the islands. Most of the fishing vessels have already left for ports on one of the continents, so transports off the islands will be hard to find. If the PCs do not secure their ride, someone will steal it. The local economy is circling the drain as a result, further stoking tension and hostility. The PCs should encounter sad stories of desperate people wherever they turn.

It is the widely held opinion that if Caxburgh and Breedony start fighting for control of the islands, most everything will get destroyed in the process. The local leadership has secretly rigged all the government buildings with demolition charges to deny their use to either invader. If the PCs discover this, will they try to prevent it?

Possible circumstances arising while the PCs are there are:

1. Breedony is not planning to invade. There are no spies on the island except for the PCs. There are lots of people acting suspiciously, though.

2. Both sides assume the island residents will not put up a fight, since they are greatly outnumbered and have no army, only a small police force. In fact, groups of locals have quietly amassed a lot of weapons, and have a guerrilla campaign planned if they are invaded.

3. Breedony has already covertly taken control of the islands, and everyone they meet who is an official is working for them. The PCs will be ‘made’ as soon as they arrive and start asking questions. The Breedonian intelligence officers have a plan to feed them false or misleading data from the start. All the fortifications etc. are bogus. Give the PCs a chance to figure this out.

4. The leaders are trying to convince everyone that they will not be invaded, so everything coming from official sources is all morale-building and positive. They ask the PCs, as journalists, to assist them. A local priest disagrees, and asks the PCs to help him convince people to prepare.

5. One of the locals ‘makes’ the PCs but thinks they’re working for Breedony, and wants to expose them as such. The real Breedonian agents will subtly try to prevent this, without blowing their own cover.

6. Breedony, or even Caxburgh begins the invasion while the PCs are present – bombs start falling and they have to run for it.

Maybe the PCs can prevent the islands from being invaded, but maybe not. They should have the opportunity to rescue at least some people from harm’s way, and have the opportunity to be the islands’ advocates with Caxburgh. The referee must determine the flow of subsequent events. Continue reading The Oncoming Storm

The Thing in the Telescope

Patron: Jedric Chang-Xi
Location: Apinanto (Foreven/Fessor 0604)
Required: starship skills, Vacc Suit skill

Players’ Information:
Chang-Xi contacts the PC group, offering to hire them as ship crew for an in-system exploration mission. If the PCs have a ship, they can use it, but if not then Chang-Xi has chartered a Slow Pinnace. He is an amateur astronomer, and recently he detected something in the L4 cluster of the second planet in the Apinanto system. The cluster is a mass of small asteroid bodies and ice clouds, which are in motion, making identification of the Thing difficult. Apinanto Prime is the fourth planet, a low population poor world that gets little interstellar traffic. If the object is a ship, Chang-Xi can sell it to the government which would pay handsomely for it. He offers the PCs either one month standard salary by position, or a total of 15% of the salvage price of whatever he finds.

Travel to the L4 cluster will take several hours to around a day, the inner planet orbits the sun much faster than Apinanto.

In the Telescope

Referee’s information:
The Thing in the Telescope is resting on one of the asteroid bodies that make up the Trojan Point. Trojan Points are much denser concentrations of cosmic debris than asteroid belts; a safe passage to the target asteroid requires the Pilot to roll 9+, DM for Pilot skill. DM +1 if assisted by a navigator with Navigation-2 or better. Landing the ship on the asteroid requires a Pilot roll of 6+. Failure by more than 1 calls for one roll on the Starship Damage table.

PCs moving about in the microgravity of the asteroid cluster will have to make as many Vacc Suit skill rolls as the referee wants to keep things interesting. Tiny rocks are floating by all the time, some may be large or fast enough to cause an accident. PCs with prospecting skill may search for resources, finding something on 11+, with DM for skill. The CT Module Beltstrike can provide helpful rules & information on operating in microgravity, and dealing with asteroids.

The Thing is, in fact,
1. A ship, a type-Y yacht, but it has already been claimed by another salvage operation. The other salvage operator shows up while the PCs are investigating, and accuses them of claim-jumping. Use the reaction table with a DM of -2 to determine the salvager’s attitude.

2. An abandoned pinnace. It belonged to a prospector, which is obvious from even a cursory search. If the PCs search the asteroid it is parked on, they will discover the body of the prospector on 7+, DM for Prospecting skill. On an 11+, the prospector discovered something of value before he died.

3. An emergency shelter type construct, looking like part of a starship’s escape gear. It has been there at least fifty years. The people who used it were rescued, and left the shelter behind, with some clues as to what happened to them. The shelter is not worth much except perhaps to a museum.

4. A type-A Free Trader which crashed. It is holed in several places and the drives are non-functional, but its cargo is still intact. Crew and/or passengers will be found within. Referee can use the Trade & speculation table to determine the nature of the cargo.

5. A subsidized merchant ship kitted out as a naval auxiliary ship, with a model/4 computer, triple turret weapons and nuclear missiles. Ship’s computer records will show that it was grounded on the asteroid with a drive failure and the crew left in a sub-craft; but the conflict was ended before the owning navy was able to get back and recover it. If it is returned to Apinanto, the government will overrule the salvage claim and nationalize the vessel. If the PCs do not have a ship, they may be offered jobs as crew aboard the new system patroller.

6. A listening post and forward base from Saphi (Fessor 0804). Saphi plans to raid Apinanto for water and agricultural resources. The base is manned by a group of equal size to the PCs. They will attempt to capture, rather than kill the PCs. If the PCs are captured, they will be taken back to Saphi when the next Scout ship arrives (within four days).

If the PCs return to Apinanto with salvage, Chang-Xi will pay up as promised. The local government will not be able to offer more than 15-20% of the value of the ships. The Referee must determine the flow of subsequent events.

Downward

Location: Gotylu (Foreven/Urnian 3035) E-688699-2 Ag Ni Ri

Players’ Information:
Gotylu is a farming world of barely 2 million people. The world is classified as an Amber Zone because of the extremely xenophobic natives. While they are very low-tech, there’s a lot of them compared to the small human trade outposts. Because of this fact Gotylu has not been explored very much, with one exception.

Gotylu has one very interesting feature: the Gotylu Chasm, a kilometers-deep naturally occurring hole in the ground. The Chasm is not a canyon; it is a basically vertical shaft of uncertain depth, with nearly a quarter-kilometer diameter on the surface. Its volume and shape are less certain below the surface. Geologists have attempted to study this bizarre phenomenon but often run afoul of the locals and have to make a hasty departure. This has led to the site, while it remains an area of much interest, to be referred to simply as the Hole.

The Hole
The Hole – Image from wikimedia – Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

One recent geological team which rapidly evacuated informed Dr. Karl Barrow, the department head for Geography and Exo-geography at Ovdyo State University that in the process of their departure, the central data core that was correlating all of their measurements and sensor data fell into the hole. Dr. Barrow is offering, with the University’s approval, transport to and from Gotylu and Cr 50,000 finder’s fee for the team that can descend into the Chasm and retrieve the data core. As there will not be a geological survey site on the surface, the hope is that the locals will not notice a small team arriving and infiltrating the Chasm. The Geology department will provide the team with a reliable but used air/raft if the team does not have one of their own. The air/raft is to be returned, it is not part of the payment. Dr. Barrow’s department provides maps of Gotylu, and aerial imagery of the Chasm site. A junior geologist can accompany the PCs if they want his expertise.

Referee’s Information:
The data core is a metallic cylinder 1.3 meters tall, massing 75 kg. It has an internal power supply so it should be warm, and a radio transmitter so it can communicate with other systems. It should not difficult to identify if the PCs can get ‘close’ to it. On the other hand, the core could have come to a stop anywhere in the hole. The geologists are not sure how close is close enough.

The planet has a dense atmosphere, and the further down the hole it they go, the heavier the atmosphere gets until it’s almost too dense to breathe normally. There are trace elements in the air of Gotylu, not enough to qualify the atmosphere as tainted, but they get concentrated the further down the hole the PCs go. If they have no atmosphere tester then the taint elements may overcome them. The referee must determine what the taints are and their effects. Also it will get warmer the further they descend.

At any time, there could be rock slides & stuff falling off of the sides of the hole. The light ceases after half a km or so, and radio contact is lost after a while as well. Once the light goes, it is dark, and silent. There may be air currents from the lava flows, but even those will rapidly cool off and the air will settle. There may be animals which live in the hole, either flying creatures or swimmers living in the occasional pool or pond on a rock ledge.

The referee should help the players to picture the environ of the Hole as being like deep-sea diving without the water. The PCs should get the sense that they are isolated and far away from any kind of help, in a dark, dead silent, confined space. Remind them at every opportunity of the sensory data around them – darkness, stuffiness, damp heat and almost no echo or sound.

Six Situations:
The data core could be uncomfortably close to one of these phenomena.

1. There are radioactive ore veins exposed along the sides of the hole.

2. There are steam vents releasing very hot gas into the hole.

3. There are cavern formations that branch off from the hole, some have ledges where the core might have bounced.

4. If they explore these side caves, in one they find the remains of a prospector. There is no indication of how he died or who he is but he’s go a bag of uncut gems.

5. There are slow lava leaks flowing into the hole that leave frozen waterfalls in rock. The core is near or in one of these flows.

6. The core knocked loose a rock slide, and it is now buried beneath hundreds of kilograms of loose rock in an unstable pile.

At some points the central passage of the hole gets tighter requiring driving checks to get past. Failure mean they struck a rock which can set up mechanical faults later on. If the vehicle suffers a fault it has to be repaired on the spot or they’re stuck at the bottom of the hole.

Once the team recovers the data core, the mission is finished. All they have to do from this point is return to the Gotylu starport and present their return passes. Of course, the University will be interested in any other observations they may have made while down in the hole. Anything of value they find while down there they can legitimately claim as theirs, as no one on Gotylu has a legal claim to the contents of the Hole. The locals claim it in a general sense but not in an Imperial/legal sense.

Adventurers who want to return to the Hole for further exploration may do so. The referee must determine the flow of subsequent events.

Continue reading Downward

Repair Schedule

Patron: Ship Owner
Skills required: engineering, mechanical electronics, computer
Equipment required: tools. Lots of tools.
Location: Hollis (Reidain 0103) A370642-C

Situation:
The PCs are hired based on their professional qualifications to do an extensive overhaul of a derelict starship. The ship was recovered by a salvage operation and sold at auction. There are no legal irregularities with the sale, the patron is legit. There is a great deal of repair work to be done; the hull is basically sound but many internal systems will have to be rebuilt or replaced. The patron offers Cr 10,000 to each member of the party (referee can offer bonuses of Cr 1000 per skill level above 3) plus a Cr 20,000 bonus to be paid if the ship can pass an Imperial safety inspection within one month. The patron issues the PC’s leader a line of credit with parts suppliers, but will be closely monitoring same for waste and fraud. The PCs can hire human or robotic labor assistants, but they must do the majority of the work themselves.

2 days to go
2 days to go – image from wikimedia
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 license

Referee’s Information:
The referee will have a lot of time-keeping to do with this adventure. Projects have to be recorded for time taken and costs incurred. Assign as many projects as it will take to fill up 30 days.

Each project should have a repair difficulty, time and price, and a replacement difficulty, time and price. Replacement should be less difficult, but more costly. Repairs should be harder but cheaper. Failure on the repair/replacement roll means that the project has to be done again, with the same cost in time and money.

Evaluation of a project to determine whether to repair or replace should take at least six hours.

The clock is ticking, and the PCs will have to sleep sometime. Cutting sleep time to keep working will eventually introduce negative DMs for fatigue. Figure sleep time at [18-END hours per 24 hr cycle)

Each week (or each day) the referee should roll 10+ for a structural fault in the current work area that could collapse or otherwise cause an accident.

Referee must determine the flow of events, but accident damage should not be severe enough to cause fatalities.

The patron will come by for inspection visits from time to time, and will almost always have questions about how much it is all costing.

If the PCs are successful in their overall project, they will be approached by other patrons, seeking to hire them as ship crew, salvage operators or shipyard supervisors. The referee must determine the flow of subsequent events.

Possible complications:
1. The Imperial inspector has a change in his availability, suddenly changing the PC’s deadline. It is now several days sooner than originally indicated.

2. A replacement component is unavailable, forcing the PCs to custom build that component to complete the project. Raise the difficulty number and make it take longer.

3. The patron asks for a structural or location change within the ship, forcing the PCs to undo completed work and do it again elsewhere. The PCs can engage the patron in a contest of persuasion to get him to abandon the idea.

4. Specific tools are required in multiple places at once, forcing a negative DM on all parties, or the halting of some projects until others are completed, or the purchase of new tools.

5. Robotic or human labor assistants have reliability or competency issues. A human assistant lied about his technical education and is faking his work. Roll 9+ (DM for INT, skill) to detect the shoddy work or that project has to be restarted.

6. Much to the PC’s surprise, one of the projects needed only to be cleaned, oiled and one wire reattached. This project takes only one hour and costs nothing.

Continue reading Repair Schedule

Hunting Party

Patron: Lord Ruustvalt of Sagamore
Skills required: Hunting, Recon, Survival
Equipment required: hunting arms
Location: Gwydion (Foreven 3020) C-442535-9 Ni Po

Mission:
Lord Ruustvalt is hiring experienced hunters for a party to bring down a neosphinx, a very large aggressive carnivore. The hunt will be outside the normal boundaries of commsat coverage. Radio contact will be possible, but unreliable. Terrain is badlands – lots of ridges, crags, valleys, box canyons and very little vegetation.

Ruustvalt
Ruustvalt – image from wikimedia
Copyright Expired – Public Domain

Referee’s information:
The referee must set up an animal encounter table for the hunt. The table should include at least three kinds of herbivores of various sizes, and three carnivores. The largest of the three will be the hunt’s object, the neosphinx. See below. Payment: Cr 5000 each, bonus of Cr 2000 if they take a neosphinx.

The PCs will be limited in what sort of weaponry and equipment they can bring along – no heavy military gear will be permitted, nor armor heavier than Mesh. In all cases, accidents will happen during the trip. Minor to major injuries will occur especially if there is someone with medical skill among the PCs.

P.S. Ruustvalt is modeled on Theodore Roosevelt. During the hunt, a carnivore will be brought to bay by the hunters. Ruustvalt will insist on finishing it off personally, without assistance, with only a knife. He will win. Roosevelt did this on a hunt once, to a cougar.

Options:
1. After the proposed hunting party time has passed, without finding a neosphinx or much of anything, Ruustvalt insists that they stay longer. Food and other gear begins to run out. Hunting something becomes very important, as does management of resources.

2. During the hunt, they come upon signs of a neo’s territory. As they get closer, it may (hunting skill checks) become apparent that there are two of them; a mating pair, which is defending its brood and den. They will go on the attack against the party. The Neo’s are smart hunters, and can terrorize the party with attacks at night, by springing in and out of the camp.

3. The land upon which they are hunting is owned by someone of Ruustvalt’s acquaintance. But there are other hunters in the badlands who do not have permission. They will try to avoid Ruustvalt’s party as much as possible, but PCs with Hunting or Recon skill may come upon signs of their presence and if they report it, Ruustvalt will want them to take action. The poaching party will be equal in size to the PC’s party and similarly armed. The poachers will try to escape rather than stand and fight, but will fight hard if cornered. Penalties for poaching are severe, and Ruustvalt is known to have little tolerance for poachers.

4. Bad Storm. The hunt is going along well, but the weather begins to close in. In no case will the PCs convince Ruustvalt to abandon the hunt due to weather. Clouds make it darker and harder to see, wind blows up dust which obscures tracks and gets into everything that isn’t sealed up. Rain will start off light, just enough to be annoying but at some point during the trip the skies will without warning open up into a torrential downpour which will set off flash floods and landslides as well as soaking everyone and everything. Lightning may strike in an otherwise dry patch of scrub and start a fire. High winds make contragrav flight harder, and may knock vehicles down. Camp items that are not secured could be blown away or knocked down and damaged. At the height of the downpour (which could last for hours) visibility will be reduced to Medium or even Short range. Rain or thunder could provoke a stampede of grazers in the PC’s direction.

5. Vehicle Crash. One of the vehicles will suffer a disabling accident during the trip, with the PCs aboard. This should happen at a time and place where the PCs will have to improvise solutions, relying on their wits, skills and physical abilities instead of their tech to make it back to the base camp. NPC party members may be injured or killed in the accident, but Ruustvalt should not be killed. While moving overland, have several animal encounters occur. The vehicle may or may not be repairable, but even if repaired it should remain unreliable. Repair rolls will face negative DMs for lack of tools.

6. Assassins. Some member(s) of the hunting party, possibly including one of the PCs, are intending to kill Ruustvalt; having been suborned by one of his political or social enemies. If the killers are NPCs the PCs should be given some hints along the way that something is afoot. The killers will prefer to let one of the animals on the hunt kill Ruustvalt, so that it appears to be an accident. Only if they are in danger of exposure and capture, or almost at the end of the hunt will they try to directly attack Ruustvalt. Whether they succeed or fail, the killers will then try to escape in one of the vehicles, disabling the others (and the radio) if they have time to evade pursuit.

Mass     Hits/Wounds    Weapons     Armor        A F S
1600 kg 45-48/15-18 +4D teeth/claws as cloth +2  * # 2+ leap
* If Surprise
# If Surprised

The neosphinx is a quadruped of large size (from 3.5 m to nearly 5 m in length) and enormous strength. Even their tails, nearly a meter long, are muscled. Neosphinx coats are made of short, stiff fur in shades of slate and charcoal gray. Their paws can be up to 30 cm in diameter with 4-6 cm claws. Neosphinxes are territorial, aggressive carnivore pouncers, feeding on local herbivorous grazers. Their running speed is actually slower than the grazers they prey upon; the neosphinx attacks by leaping extraordinary distances. From a standing start, they can cover up to twelve meters, while a running neosphinx can launch itself over twenty-two meters.

Chapel Bells Chime

Patron: the Betrothed
Skills required: Carousing, Liaison, Streetwise
Equipment required: none

Location: Titan, (Foreven 1429) A-642ABA-D J Hi In Po Capital

A friend or relation of one of the PCs is getting married, and the PC and his/her associates have been invited to the big event, which promises to be a major event on the social calendar of Titan’s capital city. The PC with the connection may, at the referee’s discretion, be asked to take part in the planning of the reception, which will be a very large affair, with many hundreds of guests as well as media coverage. A week prior to the wedding, the bride-to-be comes running to the PCs for assistance. The wedding might not happen, because her betrothed has disappeared! The patron is in a state of panic, and turned to the PCs because they “have experience with this kind of thing”. Local custom on weddings is very specific, owing to property transfer laws on Titan; a wedding is also a real estate contract. Therefore, it is imperative that the wedding happen on the scheduled date; rescheduling a wedding is a contract violation, which requires someone way, way up in the government or religious hierarchy to approve in order to avoid messy litigation. The PCs must work quickly to get the happy couple reunited in time for the big day.

The Bride
The Bride – Image from wikimedia
Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license

Referee’s Information:
This scenario will work just as well with either the intended husband or the wife doing the disappearing. The referee can impose tasks on the PC group to help with wedding preparations before the main event occurs – setting up security at the reception would be good camouflage for the actual mission. The PCs may be motivated by affection for the patron & intended, but reluctant PCs will be encouraged by members of either family offering cash incentives to find the missing person. However, if the PCs ask for cash payment, this should have social consequences for them once the word gets out. In any event, part of the PCs assignment will be to keep a lid on the fact of the disappearance while they investigate. The referee will determine what impact there will be on the six variables below if the news of the disappearance gets out.

Reasons for the disappearance:
1. The intended spouse has had a change of heart, or wimped out, and is now in hiding, waiting for the date to expire in order to get out of the marriage. The PCs can attempt to reason with the intended, but the intended will try to convince the PCs to not expose him/her, including offering bribes.

2. The intended has been in an accident (vehicular or recreational) and suffered a loss of memory or is in a comatose condition. Persons at the scene of the accident got the intended to hospital, but other than a routine police report, the accident did not make the news. The intended did not have his/her identification on hand at the time of the accident, so the hospital does not know who the person is. There are several hospitals in the capital city.

3. As in number two, but the intended died in the accident. The referee will determine whether the intended’s remains have been located, and whether the accident was a natural disaster or a man-made accident. If the accident was caused by another person, that person may try to hide the body and disguise the accident scene to throw off suspicion of fault.

4. The intended has been kidnapped by a jealous rival who wants a shot at the patron him/herself. The intended is unharmed for the time being, and is held in a location far from the capital. Once the intended is found, getting him/her back to the city in time for the wedding will be difficult. The referee is encouraged to engineer the trip as a race against the clock on the day of the wedding.

5. The intended has a nasty secret (financial trouble, previous marriage never ended, he/she is actually a spy) that suddenly is in danger of being exposed, and the intended is trying at the last-minute to handle it. Once found the intended will ask the PC’s help in clearing up the matter before the wedding date.

6. The intended has been kidnapped by a jealous rival of the patron, who wants the intended for him/herself. The intended may be brainwashed by the rival. The rival may threaten violence against the intended or as leverage if confronted by the PCs. If the intended is rescued the kidnapper may attempt to break up the wedding.

In all cases, the referee must determine the flow of subsequent events.