AMBER ZONE: A Shot (and a beer) In the Dark

Players’ Information

There’s any number of drinking establishments on “The Rock” as the planetesimal Alenzar Main is called by the colonists and prospectors who call it home. The asteroidal colony has grown over nearly a century and a half, thru boom and bust times, peace and war, to become a complex society with all the features, foibles, and “texture” of a terrestrial startown… and more.

But only one bar in Alenzar ’s low-gravity section, “The Lucky Star” is “home” to the singular individual known as “Gramps”; a legless old drunkard ex-prospector who is a living legend on The Rock and who makes his daily air tax ( he says) by telling his tall tales to newcomers and tourists, in exchange for a contribution to his bar tab and living expenses. Gramps has a one-room living compartment in the low-gee section of the station, but his waking moments are all spent at the Star.

The players meet Gramps while on a liberty from their docked ship, at said bar, and for the cost of a round of “the good stuff”, he spins them a tale of The Big Score: a haul of pure Zuchai and Cerulean crystals he found out in Alenzar’s belt one day.

Here, the tale diverges, depending on the day of the week , who’s telling the story, and the amount of his intoxication: Gramps either lost the big score in a divorce, hid it “FROM” the divorced wife, lost it in a gambling contest, or it was stolen by a prospector partner, or his ex-wife and the partner conspired to steal it, or it was lost when his prospecting ship blew up with the partner inside of it one day while he was on the hull… that’s where he lost his legs, records show.

Once, during the War, he says he hid his score and some papers proving what side of the conflict he really was on… and then he forgot where he’d hidden it. During the War, invading vacc-suited marines were breaching the inner corridors, and Gramps only had time to float his way down a few corridors to a disused bolt-hole, left over from early mining tunnel days, to hide his score and get away. Then he was arrested, beaten, and woke from a coma a week later with no memory of what had happened. Gramps searched for several years but never found it. He says he drinks to remember, for when he’s intoxicated, his memories seem sharper.

This sparks an idea in the party: get the old man just drunk enough, play old music from his youth, stage a fake emergency to convince him it’s 30 years ago and the soldiers are coming, put a loot bag in his hand, let him go, and see where he leads them. They won’t harm the man, only feed him booze and then try to re-create the illusion of the original scenario. They have agreed with Gramps to share the score with him if they can locate it, but don’t tell him the plan.

To make it work, they’ll have to disable the station power grid in one or more local sections, throwing the corridors into darkness and low gravity, so this will have to happen on the dead-watch when most people are asleep and security is in a lower state of readiness. Security will need to be distracted or delayed by some harmless diversionary tactic elsewhere on the station. There’s a museum on the colony with samples of the invading soldier’s old uniforms and armor. Some cosplay might help sell the illusion the players want to create.

Asteroid Mining

Referee’s information

This much is true: “Gramps” is an old prospector who did lose his legs in a ship disaster. It’s unclear if he was the instigator of the accident, or how much time passed between the accident and his big score, since the old records are corrupted from combat damage (or was it deliberate sabotage?) and no living witnesses remain to contradict or confirm his stories. He’s a genuinely charming old guy and a level-4 carouser and level-2 gambler, who just likes people and hates being alone. If attacked, he has better than average dexterity, zero-gee combat-3 and blade combat-3, Pilot-1, Comp-2, Nav-2 and Gunnery-1. Gramps has hidden blades in both sleeves and one in his belt buckle. He never leaves the low-grav section of the colony, and gets around like some kind of marsupial monkey using the various hand-holds and railings to propel himself with oldstyle Belter skill.

His one-room apartment is humble and has nothing of use or interest to the party. It is as it appears: a sleeping room with a closet. Gramps uses the fresher at the bar and takes his meals there. He has his own special seat; anybody that takes Gramps’ seat will be cautioned by bar staff or regulars to leave it alone. Gramps is loved as a “mascot” or “good luck charm” by the locals and authorities.

Gramps DID hide a bundle of valuable crystals somewhere on the station, along with his identity papers, …and a sheet with the coded orbital elements for the asteroid that bore his “mother lode”. That paper is worth much more than the actual crystals, since the source contains many times more of the same. If the party finds the crystals, Gramps will let them get away with all the loot, as long as he can get his papers, (“…for their sentimental value, ya know…”) – and the coded sheet with those vital coordinates.

The mother lode asteroid was a camouflaged military listening post; Gramps, a deserter. He got wounded during his desertion in a small EVA space skiff. The listening post sat on a huge deposit of crystals, which only Gramps had noticed. He wouldn’t have been allowed to make use of that information as it would have given away the military base. Did he blow up the base and kill everyone in it? Or did enemy forces do it? Is the base still there, lost to knowledge, full of sellable weapons, intel, and gear? Maybe. Up to the Ref.

If the players try their tunnel-run-in-the dark, Gramps will lead them a merry chase indeed, as they all will have to be somewhat impaired themselves, for Gramps won’t drink alone. The tunnels can be blacked-out by compromising three small power junctions along the corridors. The party will have about ten minutes before crews come to fix the damage, another three before they make the repairs and the lights come back on. Security will follow the repair teams by another five minutes… longer, if there’s a sufficient diversion staged on the far side of the colony. There’s a museum on the colony with examples of the armor used by both sides in the war… players could steal the armor to help their “simulation” look more authentic.

On the station: the big score is actually there, but three levels lower than Gramps remembers it. While he was in a coma, repair crews patched that tunnel section and walled it off. New construction occurred in front of the old hidey-hole, completely changing the looks of everything… to the (eye), that is. If Gramps is just drunk enough, and working without sight, feeling his way, there’s a chance he will end up near the right spot, but nothing there will look at all familiar, so he thinks he’s wrong. But the goods are there, as advertised, behind the back wall of a small shop or food stand, and a section of old hull plating, with an access port, that was used to block off the tunnel. Gramps will recognize the plating: it’s from his destroyed ship.

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