The PC’s are approached by an old prospector. He tells them about an old claim of his that was overrun by a volcano some thirty years ago. He and his team of ten other prospectors had to then abandon their claims immediately and exit the area due to pyroclastic flows that threatened to bury them along with their claim. This eruption and the ones that followed were so severe that the planet went from a cooler temperate climate with a breathable atmosphere to a frozen tundra with a strong taint of sulfur and ash.
The prospector has heard through the grapevine that the eruptions have finally ceased after all these years. It is his hope that his old claim’s cache of semi-precious and precious gemstones will still be there and intact after all this time. He says they were secured in several strongboxes of reinforced ferroconcrete in a small hut and unless the lava flow struck his area directly (which he doubts) his claim should be right where he left it.
The miner does not know what has happened to his old team members. He knows some of them have passed away, but he still possesses the legal paperwork to give him rights to anything that may be left. He says the strongboxes have an electronic lock that will only open to his DNA and thumbprint. If the PC’s take him to his location he expects to have about ten tons worth of ores ready to haul which are worth about MCr 1.0 for each strongbox. He is willing to split the haul 50-50 with the crew if they will help him find the claim, find his ten strongboxes and haul them all back to this port. He says his wife thinks he is crazy to chase down his old claim, but he needs to get it out of his system or it will drive everyone in his house crazy.
He does not possess a starship, but he does own an industrial cargo robot (grav drive) that displaces two tons. It is in small wooden crates and it will need to be assembled on the planet. If there is any ash covering the cache area it will dig its way through to the designated area. The robot is of TL-12 design and is quite slow (15 kph maximum). It can dig through dirt, ash or rock fairly quickly. It also can grasp the strongboxes and bring them to the ship if they are located. It also is dependent on verbal commands as it is not capable of independent thought, reasoning or problem solving.
If the crew accepts his offer, he will produce a chip with the exact coordinates for his claim. Since the planet has gone through pronounced change several orbits around the planet will be necessary to map and grid the surface to be able to zero in on the location of the strongboxes. The miner recommends the crew bring extra dust/filer masks and rugged equipment and sensors on this trip. Due to the blinding snow and dust, lasers will be nearly useless.