Tag Archives: Asteroid Mining

The Bank Job

Patron: Megacorporation
Required Skills: nothing special
Required Equipment: starship with some cargo and middle passage space
Location: system with asteroid belt

Players’ Information:
The PC’s are contacted by an agent of a known major megacorporation. The agent, named Dimitri Kumikov, wishes to charter the PC’s cargo space and buy the available middle passenger space (up to twelve cabins if available) for a trip to that system’s asteroid belt within the next 48 hours. He will offer the normal rate to charter cargo and buy passage. The megacorporation has a newly built ore processing center for mining a new vein of precious metals discovered by private prospectors. The megacorporation is keeping this discovery quiet as long as it can so it has made an agreement with these private miners to supply goods and supplies in exchange for these raw materials. Dimitri will also assist the PC’s with any cargo they may wish to carry back. (-1 DM on cost on raw materials one would find in an asteroid belt).

Dimitri’s cargo is all contained in cargo containers that can be lifted and handed through airlocks. 20% of the cargo is labeled vacc suits. 20% of the cargo is listed as “PLSS” (Portable Life Support System) packs. 20% of the cargo is listed as foodstuffs. 20% of the cargo is listed as medical supplies and the last 20% is listed as “spare parts.” Dimitri’s fellow passengers are all obviously longshoreman-sized brutes who quickly and efficiently load the cargo. Each of these “hands” is sporting a sidearm openly strapped to a holster on their hip and if asked Dimitri tells them they all have system weapons permits that supersedes any system law level.

Asteroids
Asteroids – NASA – Public Domain

Referee’s Information:
This new mining strike is a relatively new area of precious metals and raw crystals. This megacorporation stands to make a heavy profit if the news is suppressed long enough for the market to stay strong. The story is true in that a private band of rogue prospectors found this area and they have been working in conjunction with this megacorporation to sell their findings on the spot. The catch in this plan? They want cash on the barrel for the work and they have established exclusive rights to their claim.

All the cargo the PC’s are bringing are indeed needed supplies that will be used in exchange for the newly mined ore. Dimitri will haggle a little over their contract, but nothing above 20% above the normal rate. The cargo labeled “spare parts” has one crate that is deliberately mislabeled. This crate contains cold hard cash worth no less than 50 million credits in currency no higher than 10,000 credit bills. There will be nothing special to call attention to this crate.

Outcomes:
1. Everything is as presented. These goods are delivered to the miners and when the last crate goes off the ship, so does Dimitri. There is plenty of unprocessed ores, raw precious metals and raw crystals available for purchase or charter. If they try to sell it in the same system they will incur a -1 DM to resale (so it is better if they jump to another location). As the cargo is being loaded on the ship a private prospector will suggest this to the PC’s.

2. Everything is as presented. The ship will be shadowed by another ship (it should be difficult to detect) all the way to their destination. As expected these goods are delivered to the miners and when the last crate goes off the ship, so does Dimitri. The same conditions in result #1 for resale apply here. The problem? A day or two after the delivery it is discovered that the cash crate and Dimitri are missing. They were picked up by the shadowing ship and they are on the run. The megacorporation will swear out a warrant for the PC’s to be brought in for questioning.

3. Everything is as presented. The ship will be shadowed by another ship (it should be difficult to detect) halfway to their way to their destination. The security team that has been helping Dimitri decides to mutiny and take over the ship. Meanwhile the shadowing ship is a privateer or corsair that decides to engage the ship. If the PC’s do not heave to and allow to be boarded they will be fired upon. When the PC’s are under control by the intruders they will be “relieved” of their cargo, personal effects and whatever can be carried through an airlock. Dimitri will be exceptionally upset and ask the PC’s to return to the starport so he can report this to the megacorporation immediately. The PC’s are asked to put in a claim with the corporation where they will be paid (d6x10% +40%) worth the original value of their personal effects after 72 hours.

4. The same as #3 with some notable exceptions. After the crew is robbed Dimitri will go into his quarters and commit suicide rather than face the wrath of his bosses. The PC’s will be detained by the system authorities for about a week until it is found they are not at fault. Compensation for their lost goods will be (d6x10%) of the original value.

5. Same as outcome #1 with a few exceptions. The hands are actually uniformed security guards. The ship is shadowed by a patrol cruiser from origin to destination. The rest is exactly as stated in outcome #1.

6. Halfway to the asteroid belt Dimitri will find his way to the cargo deck. He will try to find a way to secure the money crate and ensure he has a vacc suit on hand. He sets a timer on another piece of cargo and heads to his quarters. The crate in the cargo bay explodes enough to cause a breach in the hold where the cargo is expelled into space. The ship’s distress call is answered by another trader (who happened to be in the area thanks to Dimitri) who renders assistance to patch up the hull long enough for the PC’s to return to port. During the confusion, Dimitri and the cash crate will find their way to the “rescue ship.” The PC’s will return to port with the megacorporation asking questions about the whereabouts of the goods and Dimitri. There is a 50% chance they will pay to repair the PC’s ship.

Those Pesky Kids

Patron: Belter

Ellie Hurley is head of the Hurley Family Mining Company (HFMC). The HFMC owns a string of asteroids in the asteroid belt.

Ellie and Jake started the mining company 40 years ago eventually bringing the entire family to help (24 in all now). Ellie is looking for a ship to transport her family off the asteroid belt (might take a few trips). Ellie talks about the ghosts haunting her family’s mining facility.

Rumor has it that the asteroid belt was once home to ruthless pirates and that a merchant’s freetrader was destroyed somewhere near the HFMC’s mine site.

The Belt
The Belt – image from wikimedia
Public Domain – NASA

Referee’s Information:
Ellie can be met in several ways…

  1. She piloted the one-man ore hauler to the local trading post.
  2. Starport is discussing Ellie looking for transport but worried that the real issue is pirates.
  3. PCs get a distress signal and track Ellie to the HFMC facility.

Ellie’s son is obviously frightened but pushes the PCs to investigate.

At the end if any culprits are caught the obligatory “And we would have gotten away with it, if not for those pesky kids!”

1. Ellie and Jake loves their family but after 40 years of mining, they want to retire. Problem is that mining is the only life the family has ever known and the rest of the family is depending on HFMC for their livelihood. Any discussions in the past about selling their claim has met disagreement.

The HFMC does well but does not make enough to buy Ellie and Jake out of their shares, thus they don’t have much of a retirement fund to travel. They know that a rival mining company, Drake’s Mining is willing to pay a generous price to buy HFMC’s facilities and mining rights.

While Ellie is trying to find transport, Jake has reconfigured the security cameras to project the ghostly images. He has also programmed the environmental controls to create random, localized cold spots where people might see the ghostly apparitions. Using the micro gravity system, Jake can make things appear to float. Communication systems can be used to make noises to scare (or lead) PCs and NPC. The door controls can be used to separate the party if wanted.

Ellie and Jake are good people who feel trapped by their family and circumstance. They will never do anything to harm anyone

PCs can solve this mystery by gaining clues with skills like Computer, Investigate…etc.

2. Drake Mining has been trying to get their hands on the HFMC claim for years. They have discovered a rare mineral runs through the asteroid belt and indications point to a rich deposit in the HFMC zone of control.

Ronald Drake will do anything to get his hands on this claim. He and crew decided to “haunt” the Hurley family out of their family business. They have considered just killing the Hurleys but are concerned that will raise too many questions. They are willing to resort to violence.

Ronald Drake visits the Hurley’s facility often to try to convince them to sell, and seems scared of the “Hauntings.” Ronald is in love with Janine Hurley.

The haunting is carried out in a similar fashion to “1” except the team uses drones and their own devices.

Violence can be avoided by confronting Ronald with evidence of his involvement. Alternately, Janine Hurley can appeal to his romantic side. Ronald might call off the attack if Janine is injured/killed or he may get psychotic.

3. A gas pocket mercuric oxide from inside the asteroid has been breached and the gas is being pumped throughout the facility and environmental suits. Janine had been watching a ghost movie and she started “seeing” ghosts. When she told the rest of the family, Jason told the story about the pirates destroying the freetrader and then others started “seeing” ghosts too. No one can agree exactly on what the ghosts look like but the more they discuss the sightings are becoming similar.

If the PCs spend two+ hours they will “see” ghosts. This is a great time to RP ghosts in the PCs back story.

Gas can be detected by scientific means but is not obvious. Detailed medical tests might detect it in the system.

4. The minors are actually seeing an alternate universe. In this other universe there is a space station in this area that has had a ship explode in close proximity. The electromagnetic waves are causing the two universes to cross. This is a temporary phenomenon and will subside in a few weeks.

PC will notice the stations crew going about their normal work. The uniforms from the alternate universe is nothing the PCs have ever seen. PCs can detect these EM waves and note that they are lessening. It may be possible to jury-rig a communication signal to communicate between the universes. There can be some interesting discussions here with skilled makers possibly learning a new prototype for equipment.

5. The HFMC are really seeing ghosts. The freetrader “Bradley’s Hope” has been drifting in the asteroid field for 50 years with all hands lost. The “Hope’s” crew jury-rigged a bomb to drop from the cargo bay to deter the pirates that were chasing them. The bomb scared off the pirates but also damaged the Hope’s engines and life support systems.

The crew of the Hope will rest easy if their ship is found and their story is known. This would be a great way for the Referee to upgrade the PCs ship or to give them a large windfall of money from the cargo. Money should be divided with the HFMC in some fashion.

6. The HFMC has unknowingly found a new life form! The new asteroid the family has been mining was the home of an energy sophont that lives deep inside rock. They feed off iron and have been munching happily in the asteroid belt for a long time. At the Referee’s discretion, the sophonts can be sentient or simply animals working on instincts.

Asteroid Mining

Today it was announced that Planetary Resources will be mining asteroids in the near future. This is very interesting. Phil Plait agrees on his Bad Astronomy Blog.

At Wikipedia, there is an entry about asteroid mining. Planetary Resources will go after the Near-Earth objects, and take small steps and learn along the way. That seems like a nice business plan (as long as you can wait for any results and profits).

Asteroid mining
Asteroid mining, Image from wikimedia. Public Domain.

Planetary Resources are far from first to think about Asteroid mining. A snapshot from 1998 at the wayback-machine proves that the BeRKA corporation was in the asteroid mining business 14 years ago. 🙂

GDW has thought about asteroid mining even longer than the BeRKA corporation. In the “Consolidated Classic Traveller Reprint Errata” you can find the old “Asteroid Mining flowchart” from JTAS Issue 3.

In the TTA books, there was also some cool images of asteroid mining space ships. Have a look at the PC1 191 Gourmet or the AC3 Stag Beetle. The PC1 191 Gourmet has inspired asteroid mining in MTU. That ship is so much cooler than a Scout Ship with a mining laser.

Except for the flowchart in JTAS #3, a lot have been published about asteroid mining for traveller. To generate belter (asteroid miner) characters for your game, you’ll need Supplement 4. For some fun asteroid adventures, you’ll need Beltstrike! (You can also get Beltstrike for Mongoose Traveller.)

Asteroid Mining Vehicule
Asteroid Mining Vehicule – Image from wikimedia. Public Domain

There are also some games about Asteroid Mining. From GDW, there is Belter that is about asteroid mining in the solar system. A cheaper alternative is Asteroids from Radioactive Press, and a fun alternative is Asteroid Racers from Avalon Game company.

You can play the classic Asteroids arcade game at the Atari website. What is your High-Score?