AMBER ZONE: Sinking Ship

Players’ Information:

While on a stopover at Rech (Lanth 0502 D9957AA-6), the PCs receive a message on the local emergency frequency from Honus Burk, Administrator for the Starport Authority. He is seeking immediate assistance from all the starships in port, citing Imperial laws requiring assistance to vessels in distress.

An ocean-going vessel, the SS Laurentic, has foundered several hundred kilometers offshore, and no other water craft are in the immediate area to respond. The SPA is calling anyone with a flight-capable craft especially contra-gravity vehicles and small craft to render assistance; rescuing passenger from the ship or from the water, and transporting them back to land. Any crew that signs up and provides six hours of assistance will receive a 50% discount on refueling at the starport, and one week’s berthing fees will be waived.

Sinking Ship
Image from wikimedia – Public Domain

Referee’s Information:

The Laurentic is a passenger liner, with over 1000 people aboard. It struck something and was holed below the water line. The crew do not know what they hit, the sailing charts indicated no hazards in that area. The ship is listing steeply to starboard, and the rear quarter is already under water. Within the next six hours the ship will submerge and be on its way to the bottom. Local weather doesn’t look favorable either. The ship is equipped with lifeboats but many of them were shaken loose in the collision; more broke away when the ship lost trim.

Once the PCs register their craft, determine how long it will take to get to the crash site. The referee must keep track of time more carefully in this adventure as the Laurentic has only hours before it goes down. As each hour passes, the referee should throw 1D. If the throw is equal to or less than the number of hours passed, the ship has sunk. Once the PCs pick up passengers, they must be returned to the starport, then the PCs can return to the crash site to pick up more. The starport is on the nearest inhabited land mass on the planet. The referee should draw up a sketch map of the Laurentic’s location.

Whatever plans the PCs make, the referee can use the following tasks as a guideline.

To get people out of the water, the craft operator must throw 5+ to hold the vehicle stationary over the water, DMs for vehicle skill. There will be 3D passengers in the water wherever the PCs set down.

To extract victims from the water PCs may work singly or together. Throw 6+ to get one person safely aboard the craft. DMs for STR of 9+, for using ropes or other appropriate gear, DM +1 for a PC working in the water. 3 minutes for each person rescued. Failing the throw also costs 3 minutes, retries are allowed.

To land a craft on the ship’s deck, throw 6+, DM vehicle skill. Failure costs 5 minutes, retries allowed. Failing the throw by 3+ means the craft went into the water. Operator must throw 8+ to recover or the craft begins to sink. DMs for vehicle skill. There will be 5D passengers near where the PCs set down.

Panicked passengers may try to rush a vehicle. To control or direct a mob, PCs must throw on the Reaction Table. DM -5, +relevant social skills (i.e. leader). Any positive (8+) result means the crowd listens to directions. An uncontrolled mob attacks as 1D brawling attacks per PC outside the vehicle. No skill DMs apply to the attack. The referee will determine the size of the mob, and if the PCs can recover control of their vehicle.

Hypothermia will be a problem. Every minute in the water a PC or NPC will lose one point of END. PCs (not NPCs) can resist the loss by throwing current END or less on 2D+1. If END reaches zero, the character loses consciousness and begins to sink. Vacc suits double the time interval for losing END, and remain afloat in all cases. Once out of the water and able to get warm and dry, characters regain END at one point per ten minutes.

Most craft can accommodate twice the listed number of passengers for short trips, but at a cost of -¼ normal speed. The referee is encouraged to give the vehicle operator extra task throws when operating an overloaded craft. A failed throw should not kill the entire party, but it could put them back in the water and in more danger.

There will be (of course) carnivorous sea creatures attracted to the crash site. For each rescue attempt from the water, roll 7+ for 1D sea creatures to appear.

Swimming Carnivore Chaser “Sawbacks”
 200 kg         Hits: 5D/3D (18/12) Wpn: Teeth Dmg 3D (9) Jack armor
 A: yes F: 8 S: 3

PCs who use gunfire to drive off the sawbacks risk hitting characters still in the water. Use the group hits by automatic fire rule, even if the weapon is not full automatic.

The PCs may attempt to keep the ship from sinking. The hull is badly damaged, a meters-long jagged hole was torn in the hull across several frames/bulkheads when the ship collided with something. The lower decks are flooded with cold water. All of the compartments that could be sealed have been sealed, but crew members may be trapped inside. The stern end of the hole compromised a passageway that had no watertight doors. If the PCs have access to underwater welding gear it might be possible to patch that part of the hole and stem the flow of water into the ship’s interior.

Whether the PCs get the offered reward from the SPA, the referee should roll on the Patron and Rumor tables to generate new jobs for them, offered by the people they have rescued. The referee can introduce a contact or patron later in the campaign as someone the PCs rescued. Figuring out what the Laurentic struck could be another adventure, the cause is left up to the referee.

This adventure will work on any pre-spaceflight world with a hydrographic percentage above 4.

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