It was very difficult to pick the winners of the 76 patrons contest this year. Even more so than last year. There were 23 good entries to choose from.
However, I thought one of them was a bit better and more playable than the others. It also had some nice feel-good qualities. In this Patron you get to know the locals at a very British island. Maybe you will be sitting in a small pub, talking to the major of the village. There are so much more that can happen in the contest entry I am thinking about. Things that don’t fit the 1000 word limit. The winner is of course The Oncoming Storm by Library Bob. Well done and Congratulations!
Patron: Aslan Clan Required Skills: Trokh (the Aslan language) Required Equipment: Starship (not entirely necessary)
It is 1110. In the Spinward Marches, the 5th Frontier War is in its closing days, but this epic conflict has spawned an offshoot, the Mnemosyne Civil War, which is being fought between the pro-Zhodani Prince-Regent Hautal Goinsprach and his challenger, Henrik Gruneweld. Gruneweld has promised a constitutional monarchy to replace the overly authoritarian rule of the Goinsprachs, and this has won many to his cause. In response, the Prince-Regent has put out an open call for mercenaries, promising land and riches to all who would defend the crown.
Since war cargos are highly lucrative, the PCs find themselves transporting ordnance from the Avalar Consulate to the Mnemosyne Pricipality in order to defeat the rebel forces (the Avalars, though technically neutral, would like to see the rebels crushed). On the way, the PCs come across an Aslan mercenary fleet run by the independent clan Arahyel, and they learn that the clan leader, Admiral Arahyel, hopes to join this fray for pay.
The Aslan in general, and Arahyel in particular, have an excellent reputation, priding themselves both on their ferocity in battle as well as their civility toward non-combatants. It is standard policy for the clan to hold off on planetary bombardments in order to offer their opponents the option of a bloodless surrender, or , if they prefer, to relocate or otherwise restrict the impending battle in such as way as to minimize or even remove the possibility of civilian casualties. Hence, it is important for the clan to enlist a cadre of solders who are able to facilitate communication, and so they are always on the prowl for solders who can speak both Trokh as well as Galanglic.
If the PCs also have their own starship, this will make them doubly useful, as Arahyel needs a group to escort his head wife, Wyaiiy, deep into Mnemosyne territory in search of Prince-Regent Goinsprach. They will act as the fleet’s eyes and ears, jumping a day or two ahead of the clan fleet in order recon each system’s defenses and loyalties before Arahyel’s arrival. If the system should contain friendly forces, they are to help Wyaiiy negotiate the terms of participation, but if it should contain hostile forces, then they are to put her as close to the enemy commander as possible so that when the clan fleet arrives in system, she can immediately begin to negotiate the terms of engagement. It’s a dangerous job to be sure, but Arahyel promises that if they serve with the same courage and honor that he expects and receives from his own soldiers, then they will all be handsomely rewarded.
Arahyel means everything that he says, but unfortunately he’s on the losing side of this fight. Goinsprach will be overthrown, and Henrik Gruneweld will become King. The reason is simply that the Mnemosyne people have had enough of the excesses and corruption of their government. Mercenaries like Arahyel are only getting in the way, making the conflict longer and bloodier than it needs to be. For each new system that the PC’s jump into, roll a d6.
1. Modest rebel task force: Their commander is cognizant of their size and will flee if outmatched. Analysis of jump signatures may give the clan fleet some idea of where they went.
2. Modest royal task force: Their captain will welcome any allies, mercenary or otherwise, with open arms, happy to receive support from wherever it might come.
3. Respectable rebel fleet: Their commander has a fierce disdain of mercenaries and will fight, however, he/she respects the Aslan methodology of warfare and will entertain discussions on reducing collateral damage prior to the battle. Also, he/she has a good idea as to the whereabouts of Henrik Gruneweld and will warn Wyaiiy and the PCs that though Arahyel might win this battle, the clan fleet will ultimately be destroyed.
4. Respectable royal fleet: Their commodore knows that the war is not going well. Defections, even among the military staff, are now epidemic, so much so that he/she cannot even trust his/her own officers. Because of this, and also due to reasons pertaining to self-preservation, he/she will opt to use the Aslan as a frontline force, hoping that it will bear the brunt of battle. Arahyel will have no problem with this, although Wyaiiy will be hesitant to agree. She would prefer to meet Goinsprach to get some firm understanding of what exactly is being offered in return for clan lives. Fortunately, the commodore has a pretty good idea where the main royal fleet is operating.
5. Main rebel fleet: Henrik Gruneweld is in direct command. Of course, he’ll fight Arahyel if he has to, but he’d rather not waste military resources reducing the Aslan fleet to space flotsam. Instead, he’d rather fight his rival directly. As for reducing collateral damage, he’s all for it, partly because it’s politically smart, but also because he’s expecting to win this realm, and he wants it to be more than a cinder when he’s crowned king.
6. Main royal fleet: Prince-Regent Hautal Goinsprach and his admiral are not getting along. The admiral realizes that the tide of war is against them. He’s advised the prince to seek a truce, but the prince is living in the sort of fantasy world that all such dictators must construct in their own minds as their end draws near. Although the arrival of the Aslan as pro-royal mercenaries comes too late to change the eventual outcome, the prince seizes on it with crazed desperation. He wants Arahyel to attack Gruneweld’s main fleet directly, and so as to maximize their odds, he wants Wyaiiy to employ trickery. “Meet with Gruneweld to talk terms. Then kill him by whatever means possible. Without their leader, his forces will be in disarray, and at that moment we shall pounce upon our prey and rip them to shreds.” In return, he will promise anything.
While the characters are on Urnian (B9779AC-A) they are contacted by Filana Belsaris, an independent entrepreneur who primarily brokers interstellar shipping contracts for small, independent commercial starships. If the characters have been engaging in such business in the subsector for a while, they will know she has a good business reputation. She is a plain woman at the cusp of middle age who dresses in relaxed business attire. She asks the characters meet with her at her warehouse office.
“I’m originally from Pylkah (E463977-9),” she says over a round of refreshments in her comfortably cozy office. “About thirty years ago, my father was leading a popular uprising against the dictator of the nation of Bundor. Unfortunately, the uprising became a civil war, which the dictator’s forces eventually won after nearly ten standard years of fighting.
“My father was captured, tortured, put on display in a show trial and executed. People loyal to my father managed to smuggle my mother and I out of the country through the mountainous border with Pyllos. From there, we managed to find passage from the starport to here and start new lives.
“My mother passed away last year. Her dying wish was to be buried with my father. Since then, I have been trying to get permission to inter my mother’s cremains with my father’s on Pylkah, but I’ve been stonewalled with every attempt.”
She takes a moment to get a handle on her emotions before continuing. “On Pylkah, it is a deep-seated tradition in our religion to fulfill the dying wishes of family members within the passing of a number of days. The government of Bundor knows this. It is probably one more attempt to discredit my family’s name.”
Filana pulls out a small pouch of precious gemstones. “This is worth about eighty thousand credits. It is what’s left of my mother’s jewelry collection. I offer it in payment if you can transport my mother’s ashes to my father’s grave in the Bundor capital city on Pylkah before I run out of time.”
The referee should take some time to get familiar with the information on Pylkah presented on The Zhodani Base website.
If the characters wish to check up on Filana’s story, they will find she has been accurate in her description of events. They will also get the Bundor version of events – most notably the fact that the resistance had engaged in a series of terrorist bombings of government facilities and the people who supported it.
If the characters need a cover for their being on Pylkah, Filana can provide a cargo shipment contract to them from another exporter on Urnian. Her operation’s name might cause the Bundor authorities to look a little too closely at the characters’ activities.
The burial urn is a spun metal flask that has been sealed with a number of intricate symbols. Research will indicate that breaking these seals would amount to desecration of a corpse under Pylkah laws – a felony offense that carries a mandatory sentence of ten years in prison.
1. Filana is completely honest. All is as presented. The characters will be allowed to land at the main airport of Bundor to off-load their cargo, but they’ll have to smuggle the burial urn past local security and make their way through the city with it. The referee should create several encounters with the locals, plus generate local law enforcers (to TL 9 standards).
2. The authorities suspect something. The situation is similar to #1 above, except that Bundor’s government agents are on heightened awareness for the burial urn, due to Filana’s efforts over the past year and the upcoming deadline. Consider the capital of Bundor to be at Law Level 9 instead of 7.
3. The authorities are on high alert. Similar to #2 above, except that Filana has managed to contact former members of the uprising about the situation. They have staged a series of acts of protests that have put the local authorities on alert. Consider the capital of Bundor to be at Law Level B instead of 7. Also, there will be armed guards at the grave of Filana’s father as well.
4. Filana is being dishonest. Filana is attempting to smuggle computer hacking software and cybernetic virus programs to the uprising’s underground members, using her mother’s urn and ashes as a cover story. Members of the underground will attempt to either steal the urn from the characters (attempting to kill them in the process). The referee should generate the attackers as needed.
5. Filana is a Zhodani agent. The Zhodani have been supporting the uprising’s underground in Bundor as a way to monitor Imperial efforts in the neighboring country of Pyllos. The burial urn contains data chips imprinted with information Filana has obtained on Imperial agents active in Pyllos. The characters will be attacked by a group of Zhodani agents when they attempt to deliver the urn to the gravesite (who will attempt to kill them in the process). The referee should generate the attackers as needed.
6. Filana is a double agent. Similar to #5 above, except that Filana is actually working for the Imperium. The burial urn contains data chips with false information as well as a powered biological agent tailored to infect and kill the Zhodani agents who will attempt to intercept it (and attempt to kill the characters in the process).
Patron: Merchant Required Skills: None Required Equipment: None Location: Any world experiencing social turmoil
The world is undergoing societal problems. The native populace is bitterly torn over social, economic and racial issues to the point that rumors of civil war are flying about. For now, however, the bitterness is confined mostly to increasingly nasty public debates and policy changes, with sporadic mob violence triggered by seemingly minor incidents.
This is the case as the adventurers are conducting their business. Another situation has sparked rioting recently and is still in the news feeds enough to stoke angry confrontations between citizens and local law enforcement. As the heroes try to conclude their business before violence breaks out, they see groups of people gathering, chanting and stoking themselves up. The police, alert to the signs of impending trouble, have also begun gathering in riot gear, hoping their mere presence is enough to deter violence.
The crowds soon become physical. The police, feeling threatened, let fly with crowd-dispersal methods, and battle is soon joined. The street becomes a chaotic stew of looting, arson, and fights. The PCs, caught in the middle, are assumed to be trying to navigate to a safe area, but this is easier said than done. Each adventurer must throw DEX or less or take 1D-2 (minimum 1) hits from being in what currently amounts to a war zone.
While they are seeking shelter, they witness a battered and bruised woman bravely trying to defend a small storefront. While she is armed with a club, she is horribly outnumbered and on the verge of becoming another victim of an out-of-control mob. If the PCs decide to help her, they have a chance to disperse the group directly threatening her. They may choose whatever method they like, from intimidation to outright conflict, but the fight should not be long (seasoned adventurers, some of whom are no doubt ex-military, will have no trouble dealing with untrained citizens).
The heroes should drive the assailants off, but only for the moment. They don’t go far, and look like they’ll try to loot the store again as soon as they lick their wounds. The shopkeeper hires the group on the spot, promising to pay them Cr 10,000 after things calm down, to help her defend her store.
Three things don’t matter to the plot: what the store sells (as long as it’s not against local law); how many opponents the PCs are facing (as long as the numbers and odds are reasonable); and what method the referee uses to resolve the fight or assign damage.
What does matter is the reason the store owner is so adamant about defending the business. The heroes can use whatever method works best for them to discover why:
1. She is simply stubborn, and wants to protect her livelihood from being stolen and/or destroyed.
2. The merchandise is far more valuable than the surroundings and the owner indicate. She regularly has nobility as clientele and so has the best of everything. This also indicates she could pay the group more, if they insist. On a throw of 9+, several of her customers are trapped within and will be very grateful to be rescued.
3. There’s someone within that she’s protecting: (2+) children; (7+) an aged parent; (10+) an injured spouse.
4. As 3, except the one protected is either (2+) a criminal; (6+) an illicit romantic partner; (9+) someone who is forcing the woman to protect him or her.
5. She has contraband hidden in the store that will get her in trouble if it’s exposed, but is far too valuable to be destroyed. The shopkeeper will sneak inside and save the item(s) at the first opportunity. Along with her subsequent disappearance will go the PCs’ chances of being paid.
6. As 5, except the cops were about to raid the place looking for the contraband in question. A patrol of 6 in riot gear will appear, arresting anyone who lingers in the area, especially anyone defending the store. The shopkeeper will disappear without her item(s) at the first chance, and so will the heroes’ pay.
Whilst sat at the local starport bar, the players are approached by a very well-dressed gentleman, looking quite out-of-place in such a grotty establishment. He introduces himself as Tristan Keeler-Maxwell and asks if he can buy the players a drink and discuss a proposition. He and a group of friends are due to leave for Urnian / Kutadis (E668214-2) on an organised hunt. Tristan and his compatriots (naming their group the Venatorian Club) are extremely wealthy and own an island on Kutadis, populating it with a number of animals and creatures which are hunted for sport. Tristan has heard good things about the players and asks them if they would like to accompany him on the next trip, as bodyguards. Unfortunately his regular group of bodyguards are not able to attend, so he needs a reliable group to protect the hunting party, in case of any ‘mishaps’. He is able to produce on demand any documentation that allows him to hunt on the world, should the players have any doubts about the legality of the situation. Transport will be provided as they have a Safari ship, the players may bring whatever equipment they think they will need.
If the job is accepted, Tristan will cover any starport berthing fees for the players ship whilst they are away, as he does not want them to be out-of-pocket. Each player will be paid 10,000 Cr up front and a further 75,000 Cr on completion of the hunt, in roughly three weeks time.
Whilst en-route to Kutadis the players get to know the rest of the hunting party; they are all aged between 25-35 years old, exceedingly wealthy and sit in significant positions of power within major corporations and companies. These excursions provide an exciting diversion in what are quite demanding daily roles for the patrons.
1. Despite all the bluster about the great hunt, it turns out that the animals the hunters are after are mechanised / quite advanced robots, which are set up to be fairly docile and not to threaten (all that much) the hunting party. The hunting party kill a few of the mechanised animals, the players help out and get their cash for being the ‘bodyguards’. The referee runs through some animal encounters of their choice where the players get to help out in some way.
2. As above, but one of the mechanical animals develops a fault, its safety overrides fail and turns truly nasty, going after the whole party intending to kill them all. The players will have to protect the group whilst fending off attacks and making a run for their ship. It is suggested that the players ATV / vehicle develops a fault and they have to run on foot.
3. The world is actually populated by a Neanderthal-like underling creature that has not come to the attention of the Imperial authorities. The Venatorians discovered them on a survey and kept the find to themselves, using them as prey in their hunting ‘expeditions’. The Venatorians take one of the underlings to use them for the next hunt; of course this is highly illegal, so the players must find a way to protect the underling or somehow stop the Venatorians. However, the players will have to be careful that they don’t maroon themselves on the planet by going against their employers.
4. As above, but when the players are looking to pick their moment to stop the Venatorians during a hunt for an underling, they are attacked by a far superior force of underlings. The players may be able to use the situation to their advantage.
5. The party is attacked by bandits who have also managed to capture the Venatorians starship. However, before they left on the hunt, Tristan has removed a vital part of the engine electronics (for security reasons) and the ship won’t start. The bandits are currently located between the players party and the parked ship; they need to avoid the bandits, return to the ship to escape (defeating the bandits as well) at the same time as not losing the vital part, otherwise they won’t be going anywhere…
6. The Venatorians turn on the players stating that they are very glad they have agreed to come on the hunt, but unfortunately for them the players have now become the prey. Mechanised or ‘real’ animals no longer provide the necessary ‘kick’ they want from a hunt and instead they trick groups to this world to become the hunted. They Venatorians strip the players of all their usual equipment and give them basic hand weapons such as knives and bows. The players will now become the ‘sport’ and are given a head start of one hour before the hunters will come after them with full intention to kill them all. Of course, the hunters have kept all the advanced weaponry such as laser weapons, rifles and locator equipment.
When calculating an appropriate number of opponents, the referee should ensure that there is at least two more Venatorians than the players to make things tough for them. It is suggested that there are roughly twice as many bandits / underlings than the combined party of Venatorians and players. Continue reading The Venatorian Club→