Portals: Journey into the unknown

Originally I was intended to write this campaign out in its full, but fate and other interests came in the way. So here I present this campaign idea to you. I have detailed some of the campaign to get you started. I have also given ideas for a few “episodes” as this adventure is formed more like a sitcom.

Each chapter is a stand alone adventure, but connected by a central theme. Much like many sitcoms of today. The party composition isn’t important, but the characters should be well-rounded with other skills that just combat and related to starships. Another matter is that the characters should not be too tied up in other businesses as they will find themselves isolated from all known features for a prolonged time, probably for years in-game terms. If they have a ship they need to down pay, they may find themselves without a ship when they finally find their way back home as it has been impounded by the bank for failing to make their down payment.

The players will come upon a mysterious book that will eventually lead them to a series of unknown ancient sites that are connected through a teleport network. The players will eventually be able to make the teleports work, but will find themselves stranded in an unknown planet several hundred parsecs away from home. To make matters worse the teleport process takes on the average one week (168 hours) as per normal jump rules. But for the teleportee the teleport process seems to be instantaneous. Another matter is that they will discover that any belongings they bring with themselves will be missing. Any non-living organic matter or inorganic matter will be converted to energy fuelling the teleport process. Carrying inorganic matter is not a requirement for the teleport system to function though.

A Portal – Image from wikimedia
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

For humans, Vargr and Aslan hair will at 5% of the time be converted to energy, and the teleportee may find themselves bald in addition to being naked. The teleport network consist of several hundred sites, but only twenty some is working today. Most others went offline during the final war. Others were not finalized when the final war started. Over the next few weeks the players will have to find a way home. Either by decoding the controls and signs on the machinery used to operate the network or by just taking the long way home by starship. Each world they visit will present them with different challenges. Like how to get food, how to explain to the locals why you suddenly appear on this planet naked and without any documentation. Most of the worlds will be more or less hostile or unsuitable for our intrepid travellers so settling down will most likely not be an option.

Getting started:
There is a few different ways that the adventures may find this book. A few of them are presented below. You’ll probably manage to come up with others

The auction:
In one of the hangars at the starport there is held an action over items left, lost or other ways has come into the possession of the starport authorities. As the players arrive it looks like the auction is coming to an end. Just a few trinkets and a strange looking chest are left of the items. The opening bid on the chest start at Cr 100. The auctioneer informs the small gathering of people that the chest has not been opened as it is securely locked. The chest has been scanned and no harmful substances have been found. However, it does hold some metals items and some semi organic matter.

It will be up to the referee how to conduct the auction. If the players aren’t interested or loose the auction, they may come onto the book in another way.

The angry patron:
Play this one out if the first suggestion didn’t go as planned. Modify as you see fit.

In one of the starport bars (if there is more of them if the starport is large enough) the players encounter the winner of the earlier action. The man isn’t in a particularly good mood. The patron recognises the players from the action as one of those who bidded on the chest. It seems like the man is in a bad mood because of the chest.

The patron will call the players over and ask if they still are interested in the chest. The chest itself is rather nice and sturdy. However, the patron had to force the lock open. He is willing to sell everything except for two items he will keep; a jewelled dagger and a furry looking book.

He is willing to part with the rest for 20% of what he paid in the action.

What’s left inside the chest are worthless; some mouldy rotten clothes, boots and a few coins of unknown origin. The coins are copper coins and hold very little value. A collector may pay Cr 20 for them. The chest itself would be worth Cr 500 if in good order, now that the lock is broken, they may get Cr 50 for it.

If the players want the book and/or the dagger, the patron is willing to gamble for them. The patron will first wager the book. If the players win they get the book, if the patron wins the players must buy him a bottle of expensive wine.

The players may try to get the dagger too, but it has no importance for the campaign. It is just something that the former owner of the chest collected on his travels.

The victim:
This is another you may play out if the action doesn’t work for you and your group.

Late at night in Startown the players hears the familiar sounds of a mugging going bad in a dark alley. If the investigate they see some persons run away. On the ground halfway behind a turned over trash can lie an elderly man. He is dressed in worn old clothes. The man is barely breathing and needs medical help. Nearby lays a sack which apparently belonged to this old man. Investigating the sack reveals just a few items like toothbrush, a few clothes an old low passage ticket and a furry book. It seems that the man was robbed, and the assailants got away with his wallet and identification papers.

When the medical personnel take the old man to the hospital, they take the names and addresses of the players in case police or medical staff may need to contact them.

A few days later a police officer appears with a small box under his arm. He informs the players that the old man died just recently, but before he died, the old man wanted the players to have to content of the sack as they were decent enough to help him.

Prison Planet:
This theme has a few alternatives. The players may be prisoners on a prison planet or attempting to rescue a prisoner for a wealthy patron. The book mentioned earlier is then optional as the players may end up in the Ancient site containing the portal to other known and unknown Ancient sites.

The old convict:
The players are sentenced to life on a prison planet and over the next few weeks/months they get in touch with an old man also sentenced for life. By the other prisoners in general he is viewed as a crazy man. He has spent the last 40 years here, which is far longer than most of the other convicts.

The teleport network:
The common theme in this campaign is the teleport network that will give them access to some twenty odd worlds. The network has been dormant for several thousands of years. Or so it seems. Clues given in the book that the players find lead those to believe that this network has seen occasional use the last few thousand years.

Technology base:
The teleporters are built at TL 23 and is somewhat like the teleport system found in the mysterious ship in Secret of the Ancients. However, there are a few important differences. The teleporting is done over far longer distances and the teleporting is done through jump space.Another difference is that this network only permits teleportation of living organic matter. Everything else will be converted to energy. So if one character is teleported the rest will se the character and eventually other items disappear. Items are converted to energy and stored for later use by the system.

The controls are simple and made to conform to several races, mostly for humans and vargr.

As teleportation goes through jump space, the time it takes is one week like jump ships. However, for the teleportee, the times seems instant.

Fail Safes:
The teleport network has a few failsafes built in, which in many cases are very beneficial and lifesaving. The system converts any nonbiological matter to energy to later use, with a few exceptions. However, those exception materials and items are not in the players inventory normally.

However, one important failsafe is the genetic and biological markup of the teleportee. The system has stored an extensive database over possible users physiology based on race. This database is used to check the teleportee against race signature and expected teleport results. Any irregularities in the teleportee will be sought improved if it seems to affect the organisms functionality.

For instance if someone with a bionic heart teleports from one place to another, the heart will be turned into energy and stored. However, as the receiving end checks the teleportees buildup and finds the subject missing vital parts, the system then tries to correct it and may construct a new heart from stored energy through matter transformation.

Another benefit is that each teleport works as a anti aging process for anyone older than 40 years (humans) and reverses physical aging with one month per teleport. This may not be apparent for the user at start, but after a few teleports it should be obvious that something is changing them.

Third possible effect is that if a near dead character is teleported he or she may find themselves almost healed at the other end. For this to happen, the subject must not be brain-dead.

There may also be a few other side effects that are not so pleasant. Anyone with unusual skin color, hair color or other features that is outside the norm of the data in the database will be corrected. Thus the hair may be changed, as will the skin color. Effects like these I leave up to the referee.

In conclusion:
This end this article. I may do a follow-up in the near future if time permits to line out a few adventure ideas that can be used with this set up.

Everyone is a winner (2015)

Everyone is a winner. If you didn’t enter the Amber Zone Opening contest, you still got 19 new Amber Zones to enjoy. Those who did enter will also win prizes from the sponsors.

All contestants will also get a goody bag with a $5 gift certificate at DriveThruRPG and a PDF copy of Mongoose Traveller Character Sheet from Moon Toad Publishing and a PDF copy of 21 Plots III from Gypsy Knights Games and a PDF copy of Quick Decks 1: Starter Pack from DSL Ironworks.

The winner and the Top Three has already been presented. Below is a list of what the other entries will win.

WildernessLibrary Bob sent us three entries. The one we liked the best was the one called Aid and Comfort. For this he will get Prize Pack 1: The Career Bundle: Comprised of Career Books 1, 2 and 3 from Spica Publishing.

“This was the unholy offspring of Marc Miller’s dreams and Joss Whedon’s mind. And by unholy I of course mean great! Good stuff! Read the rules!” Dylan

“A nice little mercenary adventure that will end up not netting the players any money at all. I like it.” Mike

GGFor the entry A Call to Arms! Jason Weiser will get Deckplanners Prize: Quick Decks Full Bundle [BUNDLE] from DSL Ironworks.

“Possibility for all type of gaming in this scenario, ship to ship, armed conflict and diplomatic.” Eric

“Solid Amber Zone that folded in some starship combat well. Bonus point for sticking to the contest rules!” Dylan

Lord BrisbaneMarcus Maxiumus was the most productive contestant. Marcus sent in seven entries! Just for this productivity Amber Zone will give Marcus an extra $10 gift certificate at DriveThruRPG. From Spica Publishing Marcus will get Prize Pack 2: The Outer Veil Bundle. The entry the jury liked the most was the one called Peril of the Lord Brisbane.

“A well thought out rescue adventure.” Eric

“Lots of interesting BDH situations may be found in this Amber Zone.” BeRKA

Wardn_isodecahedron2Meteoric Assault sent in an entry called Wardn Gambits and also added maps for this Amber Zone. For this he will get the Type R Prize: Type R Subsidised Merchant Operators Manual from Moon Toad Publishing.

“Great amount of work went into the background and supporting information, ready to play ‘out of the box’!” Eric

“Good adventure but quite busy for an Amber Zone.” Dylan

PirateEric Bergmueller wrote the entry Welcome to the Grand Illusion! For this he will get The Hub Federation Prize Pack: A copy of Clement Sector, Hub Federation, Hub Federation Navy and Hub Federation Ground Forces from Gypsy Knights Games.

“A nice mix of natives and a ‘dungeon haul’.” Eric

“I could hear the Indiana Jones theme music playing in my head while reading through this Amber Zone. A beer and chips romp!” Dylan

SastrugiFor the entry Ice Cold on Alexandria Alegis Downport will get the Frontier Pilots Prize: Bastards of Foreven Fleet Book 3: Frontier Ships from DSL Ironworks.

Great idea to use a film title and then almost do the opposite… 😉

“A good, solid dungeon crawl, in the vein of Shadows. It works and should prove a decent challenge for the PCs.” Mike

“A horror/thriller movie in the making!” Eric

Warrior RaceJim Vassilakos sent us the entry Lanthanum Hunt. For this he will  get the Prize Pack 3: The Worlds & Adventures Bundle: Comprised of System Book 1: Katringa, System Book 2: Xibalba and Allies, Contacts, Enemies & Rivals from Spica Publishing.

“This is an interesting dilemma for the PCs to figure out how they are going to steal the lanthanum.” Mike

“A lot of fun for everyone with the right group of players.” Eric

The top three 2015

The top three in the Amber Zone 2015 Contest are:

  1. Judge Me Worthy by Friz
  2. Theatre of Operations by Michael Brown
  3. Cold Snap Happy by Ade Stewart

We have already presented the winner.

For the second place, Michael Brown will get The Starship Prize Pack from Gypsy Knights Games.

Some comments from the Jury:

“Solid Amber Zone, good for a mercenary group.” Dylan

“This Amber Zone works great. I like it a lot.” Mike

“An aspect of gaming lightly used, a possible game
changer for the players if they are totally successful.” Eric

“Not bad at all. Could be placed in an ATU where the Askala was the initial colonizers/explorers. The rescue operation is interesting with the war going on.” BeRKA

The Askala

The Askala await the migration caravan to take them offworld.
Image from Wikimedia – CC-BY-SA 3.0 license.

For the third place, Ade Stewart will get The Clement Sector Starter Prize Pack from Gypsy Knights Games.

Some comments from the Jury:

“The terrain, atmosphere and especially the Drek had a solid air of believability; Ade put some research and thought into this and it shows! An SF Farley Mowat style story – brilliant!” Dylan

“Good, solid adventure. Well structured, with reasonable hazards.” Mike

“Well thought out animals and use of them in the scenario is terrific.” Eric

“There are a few things I really like about this one. Abandoned cities, Strange animals, Poachers. I also liked that Ade made a picture of the Drek. ” BeRKA

The winner is (2015)

The Jury voted and the worthy winner is Friz (again) with his entry Judge Me Worthy. Friz has selected the Type A2L Prize, Ship Book: A2L Far Trader from our sponsor Moon Toad Publishing.

Some comments from the Jury:

“What a fantastic caper; this starts out as a comedic romp and ends up in a brilliant plot twist leading to some dire circumstances for the players. This Amber Zone could be a spring-board to an entire campaign. Bonus points for adhering to the contest rules! I do judge this worthy!” Dylan

“I think this is an interesting situation with some opportunities for heroics. I like that this start up as a non-threatening almost comic situation
that then turns quite serious.” BeRKA

“The scary ticket combined with the ending twist makes this a roller coaster of a adventure.” Eric

“I like it. Simple, direct, and to the point. No extraneous fluff. Just a direct setup and straight forward follow through.” Mike

Image from Pixabay – Public Domain

Meet the Jury – 2015

Now that all Contest Entries of the Amber Zone Contest – 2015 has now been posted the Jury has started their discussions about the Entries.

The Jury
The Jury – Image from wikimedia – Public Domain

The members of the 2015 Jury are BeRKA, Dylan, Mike and Eric.

Eric is a Traveller Player since the LBBs, owns all of them (he thinks). 53 yo ex-accountant going to nursing school working at a winery in East Long Island NY.

Mike has been hooked on Traveller since he bought The Traveller Book in 1983. His biggest contribution was his efforts toward 1248 during its short life.

Dylan is a 2 time Afghanistan vet, avionics technician in the RCAF. He has also been involved in developing a few versions of the Foreven Sector. He has been playing Traveller since about 1986 or so, and his favorite edition is MT.

BeRKA has been playing Traveller since the early 80’s. He has been playing all different versions of traveller, but he prefers Classic Traveller. His website (The Zhodani Base) was started in 1994.