AMBER ZONE: One Second to Midnight

Players Information:

Whilst sat at a bar in between jobs, the players are contacted by a rich business man named Kalas Henderson, whose daughter Annalisa is currently resident on another world. Annalisa wanted to study the political situation there as it was very similar to a number of historical records dating from early Terran history and its proximity to her homeworld made this an easy option to better her studies. The world (named Thebis) has been classified as amber zone planet, due to the two powerful superpowers pitched against each other and a ‘cold war’ that has been running for a number of decades. It’s tech level is equivalent to the Terran late 1980’s (tech level 7). Microcomputer technology is just becoming affordable for the home, but a four-year stint of military service is mandatory for all citizens reaching the age of eighteen. Use and possession of all firearms are banned by civilians (law level 9).

Both of the two major nations on the planet, Shakorev in the north and Vaalnarn in the south have both rejected Imperial contact and the scout service advised intervention should be proceeded with caution. Therefore though there is a limited space to surface activity, the two ‘warring’ nations have become quite insular and all their efforts are directed at each other, rather than off-world.

It has been reported however through the Traveller News Service that after many years of posturing, both have started a conventional war by invading each other’s territories. The war has gone on for a few weeks until Vaalnarn has made a breakthrough assault and is driving its forces north direct to Shakorev’s capital, where Annalisa was studying.

With this worrying escalation, Kalas asks the players to find his daughter and get her off-world as soon as possible. Her will pay a substantial fee (Cr 500,000) for her rescue with an additional Cr 50,000 up-front to cover any expenses the players may have in preparing for the rescue.


It is advisable that the players covertly land on the planet, in case anyone tries to steal the ship or gain passage off-world. Weapons and high-technology (eg. guns, air-rafts) should be kept concealed or alternative means obtained as it will most certainly draw the attention of the authorities. Note that anything that stands out as being more advanced than TL7 will stand out and become noticeable. The environment for the search is a large city, based on the lines of a large east European or Soviet city from the Terran 1980’s era; think large imposing apartment blocks, statues of the Shakorev’s leadership and a country at war. Military vehicles are a common sight and posters spout victorious propaganda. Vehicles are petroleum-based, electronics are limited to microcomputers and a very limited form of continental electronic communication.

Stop War

Stop War – Image from wikimedia – Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

Referees Information:

The war situation is getting worse much more quickly than what the players (and Kalas Henderson) realise. The leaders of Shakorev are about to launch a retaliatory nuclear strike against Vaalnarn’s cities, in a vain hope of halting the invasion. This will inevitably lead to all-out nuclear war and the destruction of civilisation on this world.

The players literally have a matter of hours to complete the rescue and get off-world before the situation escalates. How quickly is going to be determined by the roll of a dice, every hour.

When the players arrive planet-side, the referee will need to keep track of time; it is entirely up to the referee to decide how long it will take to travel between rumours and destinations. However, the referee will need to roll once every hour (game time), a D6 and consult the table of events. The referee applies the event to occur as soon as possible to the players current position.

    1. A gang of thugs surround the players group and try to hijack their vehicle and any equipment they possess.
    2. Military snatch squad; the players are suspected of terrorism/insurgency and are carted off to a nearby military camp for interrogation.
    3. Anti-war protest march. The players are delayed by 15 minutes due to the numbers of people getting in the way.
    4. Road block. The players will have to circumvent a road block delaying their progress by 15 minutes.
    5. Minor riot – the players encounter a minor riot (for example looters attacking shops and buildings) taking place and one of their number is taken by anti-riot police to the cells for questioning.
    6. Martial law is declared and all citizens are confined to their homes. This will make travel and the search extremely difficult. Regular civilian and military police patrol the streets and will deal with anyone that they find breaking the curfew.
    7. The players encounter a major riot taking place and all of the group are forcibly taken to police cells to be held for questioning.
    8. Bomb explosion – a bomb goes off near to the players, risking minor injury. Roll for 2D6 damage. The players are pleaded with for help digging in the rubble to find the injured.
    9. 30 minute warning – the haunting howl of air attack sirens warn a nuclear strike is in progress and the players need to leave the planet – now.

DMs: +1 at the first three hours spent on the planet, +2 at the first six hours spent on the planet, +3 at the first nine hours and apply a +3 DM for every three hours thereafter.

This is a race against time; there is total chaos in the streets, people are panicking, police and the military are everywhere. Roads are clogged and there is a definite atmosphere that something catastrophic is about to happen. The referees aim is to make the players search as frustrating and as nervous as possible and to keep the clock ticking, to make the risk of a nuclear attack more likely whilst the players are still planet side.

Events and Rumours:

A useful starting point would be the university where Annalisa was studying. The referee will need to decide how long they want to delay the players until they find someone who knows the daughter. The place is in chaos, with residents trying to pack possessions and get out, there are terrified, scared people trying to cope with a hugely frightening situation.

The players eventually find one of her tutors and he lists a number of places that the daughter could be found, or links how to find her.

The first couple of leads are the addresses of two friends apartments (Kel Soolidan and Brey Wheens) who might know the whereabouts of the daughter.

The next lead is that she has been seeing a local lad named Tan Boorman, who is another student studying on the same politics course as Annalisa and directions are given where to find his place of residence. Upon arrival, Tan isn’t there but his flatmate Barz Illitun who directs the players to the next situation that the referee chooses.

The third lead is a close friend named Cindy Braz works at a local shelter helping the needy, who might be able to know of her whereabouts.

The final lead given by the tutor is that she may be found trying to help organise a political anti-war protest march located at their usual meeting place.

End Game Situation:

Whichever of the rumours the players decide to take, the last one will be the one that eventually leads them to the following situation. Whoever the players make contact with from the list of rumours above, they know Annalisa’s background and suspected that someone off-world will try to rescue her. They have enlisted the help of a criminal gang whose leader (Costello Nero) crashed on the planet a few years ago and is looking for a way to leave the planet, before the war gets out of control. He is also wanted by the Imperial Authorities, with a substantial bounty (Cr25,000) for bringing him to justice.

The players are led to Annalisa by the contact, who is being held against her will by Costello Nero in a basement complex and has taken Annalisa and her boyfriend Tan hostage. Nero and his gang use this complex as a hide out and a store for stuff they’ve stolen. The players are disarmed and Nero explains what he wants; Nero and his gang want the players ship (but intend to leave them here) before the war escalates into a nuclear exchange. The players should be mindful of the clock ticking and the urgency to get off-world as soon as possible. If necessary Nero will imprison the players in pairs, in cells in the basement. Individual players will be taken at random for ‘interrogation’ every 30 minutes to help ‘persuade’ them to comply with Nero’s demands. The players will have to work out the best way to free Annalisa and themselves from captivity, but she won’t leave without her boyfriend, whom is held in a separate cell and hence complicating the escape.

Statistics for the key NPCs are provided here for Classic Traveller, however they can be easily converted or equivalents found for other ATUs.

Annalisa Henderson
 UPP 466868 Age 23 Student
 Admin-1 Steetwise-1
Tan Boorman
 UPP 778676 Age 26 Student
 Admin-1 Medical-1
Costello Nero
 UPP 99A986 Age 32 Pirate Corporal 2 Terms
 Brawling-1 SMG-1 Auto Pistol-1 Forgery-1
 Armed with a Submachine Gun, Automatic Pistol, Mesh Armour
Del Nero Gang Members (9 in total)
 UPP 877766 Thug
 SMG-1 Revolver-1
 Four are armed with a Revolver each, the other five are armed with Sub Machine Guns
Police with Riot Gear
 UPP 677676
 Brawling-1 Streetwise-1
 Armed with a club and equipped with cloth armour and helmet
Thug / Rioter
 UPP 445544
 Armed with a club
Military Snatch Squad (soldier)
 UPP 576767
 Armed with a rifle and cloth armour


Basement Floor Plan Key:

  1. Guard house
  2. Store
  3. Dormitory. Nero’s gang shack up here when off duty.
  4. Office.
  5. Nero’s quarters. He keeps weapons and a safe that only knows the code for. The safe contains several thousand Kargs (the local currency) and approximately Cr 12,000.
  6. Interrogation room. The room is sparse, with the only furniture being a desk and a couple of chairs.
  7. Interrogation room. The room is sparse, with the only furniture being a desk and a couple of chairs.
  8. Cell. There is only a dirty mattress and a bucket in the room, with nothing else to sit on.
  9. Cell. There is only a dirty mattress and a bucket in the room, with nothing else to sit on.
  10. Cell. There is only a dirty mattress and a bucket in the room, with nothing else to sit on.
  11. Store room. There is one shelf containing a mixture or paint, DIY tools and wood.
  12. Store room containing rubbish.
  13. Store room containing clothing and general supplies.
  14. Store room containing food stuffs, water and a limited amount of medical supplies.
  15. Fresher and showers.
  16. Armoury. Shelves contain various weapons including SMG’s, shotguns, automatic pistols, blades and clubs. Several hundred rounds of ammunition. Various types of body armour are also stored here.
  17. Kitchen.
  18. Mess / dining room.
  19. Stairs leading up to the ground floor.

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