All posts by Marcus Maximus

Prisoner Exchange

Patron: Noble
Required Skills: vacc suit skill
Required Equipment: Jump-capable starship with 10 tons of empty cargo space and one high or middle passenger compartment

Players’ Information:
The players are contacted by a middleman from one of the local nobles. He simply calls himself “Catfish.” Apparently, one of this noble’s family members has been captured by a pirate band and he is arranging a ransom. The middleman will not divulge the noble’s name as saving face is important to this aspiring unnamed noble. The PC’s will receive a shipment of ten tons to be delivered to their ship the next day and they are expected to go to a system eight parsecs away to rendezvous on an isolated rock where the exchange is to be made. The noble will pay for the empty cargo space the group has (1,000 credits per parsec = 16,000 credits per ton); 20% now and 80% upon a successful return.

The next day the cargo arrives along with “Catfish.” The cargo contains small, sealed containers labeled “vacc suits,” “medicines” but two containers are one-ton cryo-units (a portable low berth) that is occupied by one person in each unit. Catfish stays in his quarters most of the trip only to emerge when they are in the middle of their last hyper-jump. He then provides the crew with the co-ordinates to the barren, airless, small moon. Not long after the PC’s arrive they receive a signal to travel to another nearby airless moon for the actual rendezvous. Halfway to the new location they are intercepted by a corsair that flashes the agreed upon rescue signal and they ask to pull alongside for the exchange.

Prisoner Exchange

Referee’s Information:
Catfish is telling the truth in that he is performing an exchange for the noble. If he is psionically probed nothing other than what he has been told can be read. The noble in question is none other than the head of the system or subsector (as least a Marquis). The prisoners he is providing are captured corsairs and they are in exchange for one of the noble’s adult-aged children who was captured in a corsair raid some months ago.

The pirates are experienced, aggressive and they are not fools. When the exchange is made they will ask the crew to stand down while they offload the cargo by hand. This is non-negotiable and Catfish will insist they comply. When the cryo-units are moved out the pirates will bring a cryo-unit of their own with the noble’s kin sealed inside. They have an electronic lock on the unit attached to an explosive. They tell the PC’s they will be provided the unlock code when they are out of weapon’s range.

Outcomes:
1. All is as it seems to be. The exchange is made without a problem and the unlock code is sent as promised. After all, the pirates need to have a way to obtain badly needed goods. When the cryo-unit is unlocked, Catfish uses his medical skills to help wake the former hostage and bring them back to consciousness. The journey home is fairly routine and needless to say the name of the noble becomes known. The noble will personally greet them at the starport and he/she will be grateful and remember the PC’s for future “delicate” work.

2. All is as it seems to be. The exchange is made without a problem and the unlock code is sent as promised. Just on the verge of sensor range an explosion is detected. Apparently several of the medical cargo units were plastic explosives and they were triggered when they were opened. The corsair’s ship is damaged, but they will survive. The corsairs will not forget the PC’s or their ship – that can be counted on for certain. The noble will personally greet them at the starport and he/she will be grateful and remember the PC’s for future “delicate” work.

3. All is as it seems to be. The exchange is made without a problem and the unlock code is sent as promised. Catfish uses his medical skills to wake the former hostage and bring them back to consciousness. When the noble’s kin reaches normal body temperature, their chest cavity explodes, killing the victim instantly and wounding (2d6 damage) anyone within three meters (Catfish will be one of them). Upon return to the original starport the noble will have his attendants standing by to receive the remains of his kin.

4. When the cryo-unit of the hostage is brought on board the PC’s are robbed of their personal effects as the corsairs steal just about everything that is not nailed down. There are no other complications on the trip and the noble will compensate the crew for their lost belongings.

5. As the exchange begins three Type “T” Patrol Cruisers in formation burn towards the rendezvous site. Catfish is frantic to stop the cruisers but they burn in and start shooting at the corsair. The exchange ends before it begins as the corsair immediately flees. While burning out of the system the body of the noble’s kin is expelled out an airlock. Back home, Catfish will speak highly of the PC’s efforts and they will be paid as promised, albeit reluctantly.

6. At the exchange point not one but three corsairs intercept the PC’s ship. When their cargo is brought on board, the pirates loot the PC’s ship and they do not hand over their hostage. When Catfish yells at them for being liars and deceivers they shoot him in the face. As the corsairs depart, three Type “T” Patrol Cruisers burn into the sensor range and now the PC’s are in the middle of a firefight. If the cruisers get the upper hand the noble’s kin will be expelled out the nearest airlock as the corsairs flee. If the corsair win, they will claim the PC’s ship as their own and take them prisoners, demanding the noble send more ransom money due to his “treachery.”

Scabs

Patron: Factory Manager/owners
Required Skills: air/raft or other driving skills, non-lethal weapons helps
Required Equipment: none
Location: agricultural world with oceans (Hydrographics >5)

Players’ Information:
The local fish canning facility is having labor troubles. The people who do the cleaning and canning are on strike due to the owners cutting their pay. The owners say that to stay competitive they must cut labor costs and the workers will have none of it. The government and nobility want nothing to do with this situation and the owners are convinced they can outlast the worker’s strike by bringing in cheap labor (a.k.a. “scabs”) up to and including basic industrial robots.

One of the owners’ agents, a Mr. Simon Bing is at the starport looking for off-world help. The owners will be willing to hire the PC’s to bring their temporary workers into the facility and to bring the finished product (canned fish) out of the facility to their waiting ships at the starport. They have three Grav Cargo Flyers (see Supplement #5, p54; 12.5 tons; TL-C; hauls about 7.3 tons of cargo) available to haul people and goods in and out of the facility some ten miles away. Each Grav Cargo Flyer can seat two people (Including the driver). The PC’s will make one run in and out of the factory a day at variable times to avoid confrontations with the locals. Each successful trip in and out of the factory will yield the PC’s 1,000 credits per flyer. They can expect work for the next thirty days.

If the PC’s are confronted by the local workers, it is asked they disengage and avoid all confrontation. They expect the workers to cave into their demands and they need a healthy workforce, not one that is busied and bleeding. The PC’s will be issued some company-owned body armor (as TL9 Diplo vest, see Supplement #4, p134) to wear underneath their company-issued coveralls. They will also have a crash helmet (treat as Light Infantry Helmet, Supplement #4, p139) with a camera mounted in the front. This camera will identify any troublemakers who confront the PC’s while they are working.

Picket Line
Picket Line – image from wikimedia
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Referee’s Information:
This strike has been running for about two months. The workers’ families are becoming desperate and there is talk of serious civil unrest. The workers they are transporting are coming from off world and they all seem to be in moderate to poor health. Every third “body” transported is actually a robot that stays deactivated until after they are delivered. 20-30 people are hauled in the back of each of the Cargo Flyers and needless to say, violent maneuvers could result in serious injury or death.

Outcomes:

1. The locals are very unhappy to see the Flyers driven in and out of the factory. By the end of the first week the PC’s will notice that their whereabouts are being asked about and the managers of the hotel will house them in a different room each night. The contract will terminate on the 30th day as the workers give in to the demands of the plant owners. Only half are hired back and the others are replaced by the new off-world help.

2. The locals are very unhappy to see the Flyers driven in and out of the factory. By the end of the first week the PC’s will notice they are being followed. By the end of the second week the manager asks them to find another place to say as his family is being threatened. The only place available to the PC’s is a luxury suite at double the normal cost. The contract is terminated at the end of the 30th day as no more workers are needed and the new help can drive the Flyers.

3. The locals are very unhappy to see the Flyers driven in and out of the factory. By the end of the first week one of the Flyer is sabotaged and a second flyer goes down by the end of the third week. Meanwhile if the PC’s go out in town they will be recognized as the drivers of the flyers and they will be assaulted by fists and clubs. The contract will terminate after 30 days and the strike will roll along.

4. The locals are outraged to see the PC’s driving the Flyers. After four days they riot at the gates of the factory and company security in riot gear suppress the crowd with fire hoses, batons and shields along with tear gas. The will be death threats to the PC’s by the end of the second week. The contract will be terminated by the end of 30 days as the strike continues.

5. The locals are outraged to see the PC’s driving the Flyers. At the end of the first week the PC’s receive death threats. At the end of the second week a contingent of workers on strike infiltrate the workers and some strikers stow away on one of the flyers in disguise. After the PC’s drop them off they begin a series of actions that end up shutting down the plant. The plant owners will blame the PC’s and terminate the contract immediately.

6. The locals are outraged to see the PC’s driving the Flyers. At the end of the first week the locals storm the gates of the factory, overwhelming the security forces there. The factory is put to the torch with loss of life on both sides. Needless to say the PC’s are now out of a job. There will be a government inquiry and the PC’s will be asked to stay on world for no less than 30 more days as a result of the investigation. Meanwhile the hostile workers will be looking for the “company scabs” who they blame for escalating tensions during the strike.

The Noble’s Bobble Head Doll

Patron: Merchant / Broker
Required Skills: nothing special
Required Equipment: jump-capable starship with 5 tons of available cargo space

Players’ Information:
As the PC’s are seeking a cargo to purchase or move, a broker by the name of Barnard Green contacts the ship asking if they can carry a special cargo. It seems that the local noble in charge of this planet/subsector is upset with the fact that a bunch of bobble-head dolls in his likeness were manufactured. The broker asks if the PC’s can haul five tons of this cargo to a destination to a friend of his some dozen parsecs away. Instead of trashing all the dolls he is trying to make some minor profit – or at least break even. He will pay to have the dolls delivered to his friend at +10% above the normal delivery rate (he will go as high as 50%, but not a cent more). (Total lot price = 5,000 credits before the added percentage. Twelve parsecs distance adds 12,000 credits). He will pay half now and his partner will pay the other 50% upon delivery. If the group accepts he will help the group obtain other cargos to help fill their hold (-2 DM on the price modifier for these cargoes), but they must leave the starport within 48 hours.

If the characters pay attention to the local news media, the story seems to be true. Apparently a rival of this noble is seen telling the media that the local noble is a “yes man” and is as empty-headed as the doll. He flicks the head of the doll and says, “See! He agrees to just about anything!” The local noble’s reaction is predictable as he is shown in a half-rage on a local vidclip ripping the head off one of these dolls. The locals spray paint pictures of this doll with an oversized head the very next day as it appears the “offended” noble is the brunt of many a local’s joke.

The Bobblehead - image from wikimedia - Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license
The Bobblehead – image from wikimedia – Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Referee’s Information:
To say the offended noble is annoyed would be a great understatement. Barnard Green was the person who was the go-between from the manufacturer (who was actually the noble’s rival through a third-party) to the merchants and he is in a very awkward position. He wants to get this last batch out of sight and out of mind as soon as possible. When the PC’s leave the planet he will have a ticket in hand and he will personally leave the planet as quickly as possible.

Outcomes:

1. The offer is legitimate. The cargo is delivered quickly to the PC’s with the cargo identification as “Toys and Novelties” with no hazard attached to the cargo. Barnard’s friend Anton Gaskie will be waiting with the money in hand at the destination to receive the cargo.

2. The offer is legitimate. The noble’s personal guards are seen poking around the starport asking about the whereabouts of Barnard Green. After he helps the crew obtain their cargo he tells them he is outward bound for a “prolonged holiday” on a departing liner. Anton Gaskie will be waiting at the destination as told with the promised money.

3. The offer is legitimate. As the ship is heading outbound the offended noble dispatches a customs ship to board and check the papers of their ship. They ask for a passenger manifest first as they are specifically looking for Barnard Green. As they look through the manifest they may (50% chance) notice the entry of “Toys and Novelties” and they will ask to visually inspect the cargo. If they suspect the PC’s are carrying Barnard’s cargo and they find the dolls they will rip the ship apart looking for other contraband while the customs crew ejects the cargo out the nearest airlock. There will be no compensation. The PC’s will be asked to leave the system.

4. The offer is a front. The anger of the offended noble is true enough, but the bobblehead dolls have an inscription on the bottom that can only be seen when a UV light is shining on their base. Each base contains personal ID’s and bank account data. (There are 1000 dolls per ton). This breach of data may come to haunt the PC’s later on. Anton Gaskie will send a doxy to meet the PC’s at the starport and pay them what was promised.

5. The offer is false. There is no man named Anton Gaskie at the destination. So now the PC’s are stuck with 5 tons of bobble-head dolls that will not exactly endear them to an angry noble back some dozen parsecs. Barnard Green cannot be reached as he took an extended holiday.

6. The offer is a front. Again the offended noble is angry, but the dolls themselves are not what they seem. Inside one out of every ten dolls has a hidden microchip in their head. This chip is filled with valuable information on the local military, including base layouts, Tactical Order and Equipment (TO&E) of the local units, personality profiles of the military leadership, the schematics of the ships assigned to these bases and the ship security passcodes that will allow the manufacture of swipe cards allowing personal access. As in option #3 the crew will be boarded and IF the cargo is discovered (50%) they have a lot of explaining to do. Obviously the ship and cargo will be detained and held for evidence.

The Fringe

Patron: Entertainer Manager
Required Skills: martial skills consistent with bodyguards/security
Required Equipment: non-lethal weapons

Players’ Information:
The group is contacted by Maran FitzSimmons, the manager of the up-and-coming group The Fringe. This group of five musicians has been signed to a year-long tour of this and a neighboring subsector. This tour includes public venues, private concerts for nobility and even open-air concerts on military installations to entertain the troops.

The manager has already hired the crew to the newly purchased Desiree Keah-type yacht (see FASA, Adventure Class Ships, Vol. 1) that will be used to take the group from concert to concert. Named the Cosmic Chorus, this yacht has had a few minor modifications. This includes converting the entertainment/recreational space up forward to a makeshift stage where the group practices their song sets and creates holovid productions used for public release. The cargo bay has been reduced from 24 to 20 tons to allow eight more low berths to be in use (for a total of ten berths). These berths contain the “roadies” that set up and break down the concerts. The computer space also has been modified to include sound mixing and recording of the holovids.

The offer from the manager is to guard the musicians while they are out an about planetside. The group is known for their chaotic public appearances and due to their popularity, the manager wants to make sure they don’t get kidnapped or lose their way to and from the concerts. What makes this so interesting is the group wears fancy psi helmets when they perform. These psi helmets also have a display screen on the front of their visor that either shows the lyrics as they are being sung or it displays messages from the group to their fans. At all performances the group’s faces are concealed. This has allowed the group to have free movement when in public.

The group of five consists of three male and two female entertainers. The manager is looking for one bodyguard per performer and one to act as a liaison between the concert security and the band’s security. If possible, the bodyguards need to try to keep the performers out of trouble and away from any negative headlines. The PC’s will be asked to sign a contract for six months (with the option of a full year) which includes a confidentiality clause. The rates will be double normal rate (4,000 credits per month) and if the contract is filled a bonus of 4,000 credits will be awarded. Food and accommodations on board the ship are covered, and they each will be allowed one ton of cargo space in the hold for personal gear. The PC’s will be advanced 1,000 credits to purchase non-lethal weapons (such as OC spray, stun batons, etc.).

While on duty the PC’s will be required to follow the law levels of the worlds they visit. If the law allows for heavier weapons they can be utilized, but the concerts are strictly non-lethal weapons only. All security measures and reports of trouble are to be sent back to the manager only. The PC’s will also be asked to wear a tee-shirt with the band’s logo with “Security” on the front and back.

The Band
The Band – Image from wikimedia
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

Referee’s Information:
The manager runs the show and owns the ship. The band itself are basically his employees and they are not thrilled about it. It is their hope to buy out the manager someday and they can run their own affairs. Most of the musicians have some substance abuse problems to cope with the pressure and with their situation. Because of this, the manager has robots made up to look like the performers on stage. Because they are always concealed nobody would be the wiser. These robots are maintained by the mechanical cyber-engineer who is a trusted friend of the manager. The sound engineer is also a talented software engineer who is also a trusted friend of the manager. Rounding this out is the ship’s doctor who makes sure the musicians have the substance of their choice on hand to keep them happy and stoned.

Between the tension on the boat between the band and the manager’s staff, between the chaotic nature of the band itself and the close nature of all these people on a yacht, this can keep the PC’s busy for a while.

Outcomes:
1. The offer is legitimate. The musicians party a lot and really have to be kept on a leash, especially when they are planetside. The manager stays focused on the bottom line as tensions between his and the band escalate. If the PC’s last a year the band will break up, but the money promised will be paid.

2. The offer is legitimate. The musicians are unaware that the manager is skimming the profits off the top until the end of the tour. At the end of the six months the manager will let the PC’s go to avoid paying any bonus. He will use any “incident” as an excuse to legitimize his actions. Meanwhile the “Sound engineer” will be hacking into the planetary networks on the worlds they visit, attacking financial assets whenever vulnerable systems can be found.

3. The band is a fraud. The “voices” of the band come from the sound engineer who generates sounds and loads them on to the robots. The manager will be willing to pay more to keep the secret from the public. The actual musicians are just a front.

4. The band is paranoid. The “Voices” are truly theirs, but they are loaded on to the robots when a live performance is required.

5. The band is a front. The manager is actually an intelligence officer who is using access to military installations and public places to gather information for a foreign group.

6. The band is a front. The roadies are trained commandos who have specific targets along the way in mind to compromise. The robots are also have martial skills.
Continue reading The Fringe