AMBER ZONE: The Spoils of War

This adventure is suitable for characters with access to a ship (owned or part-owned by party member(s), although leasing a ship for the mission is also possible).  It will work well for self-motivating parties, but should a character have a “fixer”-type NPC contact, this person may recommend or help arrange the mission.

Ship operation skills will be necessary.  At least one character should be a competent engineer or salvage expert; thereafter players’ preferred mix of combat/non-combat skills.  There are opportunities for shooters, talkers or doers to exercise their skillsets.  The characters will need to be on neutral or better terms with the government/military.

Referees may wish to tailor participants, locations and vessels to fit with an ongoing campaign; alternatively, it can be left wholly abstracted (i.e. ‘them’ and ‘us’).  Rules references are to Mongoose 2nd Edition but use with any edition is appropriate.

Asteroid Mining

Players’ information

The war still wages, and the front line has moved deeper into enemy-controlled space weeks ago.  The area behind the lines is scarred by war, on planetary surfaces and in system space, littered with wrecks of both sides.

The most valuable, sensitive or useful parts of the wrecks have been salvaged by the military, the rest – scraps and pickings – are left.  It’s not worth the time and money and resources of the military to recover everything, so that opportunity is given to wreckers, professional vultures.  They pay a fee to the right to turn up and salvage what’s left; that money goes into the war effort and maybe a bit to rebuild the devastation wrought by it.  The value of the salvage covers the fee and more, with a bit of luck.

Having arrived in-system a few hours ago and been verified as holding a legitimate salvage license, the defense boat on watch at the jump point transmitted the co-ordinates of several wrecks.

Referee’s information

System data:
Calliope C767566-A Ga A
Colonized world in the fourth orbit, slightly more than 1AU from the star.

Downport:
Asteroid belt in the sixth orbit.

Meriva:
Large gas giant in the seventh orbit, approximately 6AU from the star.

Most of the battle was centered on the gas giant; a vital resource for refueling, and the players will be guided to this vicinity by the supplied co-ordinates.

The gravitational field of the giant planet has devoured the wrecks which were not able to achieve stable orbits.   Other wrecks remain in orbit around the planet, its moons and around the Trojan asteroids (in areas that precede and follow the planet in its orbit by about 6AU), and those beyond orbital distance will be adrift in interplanetary space.

It is suggested that the players are given the opportunity to investigate and conduct some salvage operations on one or two vessels before proceeding to the main encounter.

Potential salvagePresence (2D6)
Common metals/construction materials2+
Precious metals4+
Heavy/radioactive metals9+
Fuel8+
Functioning components (computer, sensor, life support, drive or power-plant components)10+
Fully-functioning entire equipment (power-plant, M-drive or auxiliary drive)11+
Ship weapons or ammunition11+
Crew/personal weapons or ammunition8+
Small craft/vehicles10+
Extractable data11+
Body/bodies11+
Entire ship (damaged), missed by Navy salvage12+

The main encounter will begin when the players are investigating/salvaging a wreck in the asteroids clustered in the gas giant’s L5 Lagrangian point. A very slow, quiet approach by hard-to-detect ship may well take them by surprise.

The Belhamron
The Belhamron, an electronics warfare version of the Gazelle-class escort is in trouble; severely damaged in the battle, it landed on a dense metallic body amongst the L5 Trojans and has been laying low for weeks while the surviving crew have attempted to repair the vessel.  Supplies are low and fuel is critically low, a day or two remaining at best.  The player’s ship seems their only chance to escape before they must surrender.

Hostile encounter
The crew of the Belhamron will initially be hostile, assuming the player’s ship is of the opposing force (their damaged sensors will exacerbate this).  However, they are not intending to destroy it, instead seeking to board it as a means of escaping from their position behind enemy lines.

Whether the players detect the slow and stealthy approach of the Belhamron will need to be determined by their characters’ paranoia, the sensor technology within their ship and their level of vigilance in taking watches.  The Belhamron’s Emissions Absorption Grid will partly reduce their sensor profile (DM-2 on Electronics (Sensors) checks, MgT2 High Guard p12).  While the Belhamron’s ECM suite may be used to interfere with sensor operation, doing so will probably be noticed by experienced sensor operators.

The Belhamron’s attack plans will need to be determined according to the circumstances. They will seek to secure an advantage in their approach/attack.  They will attempt to disguise the vulnerable condition and status of their ship and may bluff (a particle barbette aimed at the EVA characters would be a distinct cause for concern).

The Belhamron’s crew will attempt to block mayday signals or other transmission attempts by the PCs and are well equipped to do so.  Uncertainty over whether a signal actually got through would cause tension for either side.

Likely options (in descending order) would include:

  •  Attempt ship boarding while party are EVA.
  •  Arrive and threaten while party are EVA, then board.
  •  Attack EVA party, then board ship.
  •  Engage ship to ship.

Belhamron specifications
Gazelle-class escort (electronic warfare/counter-warfare variant)
As normal version (MgT2 High Guard page 130) with the following differences:
Emissions Absorption Grid
Computer/35, with Electronic Warfare/3 in addition to standard programs
Sensor stations x3
Advanced sensors (instead of military)
Military countermeasures suite
Shallow penetration suite
Crew as per standard variant, except instead of 8 gunners, the EW/ECW variant carries 4 gunners and 4 mission specialists with Electronics (Sensors).
Cargo space reduced to practically nil.
Construction cost approximately 30% more than standard variant.

Belhamron status
Hull: Shows significant signs of combat damage, and some ad hoc repairs.  (76 hull points remain.)
* Evaluate hull damage: Average (8+) Electronics (Sensors) or Difficult(10+) Engineer(any) (1D minutes, INT)
Manoeuvre drive. Crippled, leaving the Belhamron with Thrust-0.  (Enough to very slowly move and manoeuvre, but certainly not enough to successfully refuel at the gas giant.)
* Evaluate M-drive status: Difficult (10+) Electronics(Sensors) or Very Difficult(12+) Engineer(M-Drive) (1D minutes, INT)
Jump drive.  Inoperable.  Controls and calibration components have been damaged, rather than the drive’s core.  Attempts to repair it have failed; appropriate parts will be required to effect repairs.
* Evaluate J-drive status: Formidable (14+) Electronics(Sensors) (1D minutes, INT)
Sensors.  Irreparable; equivalent to Basic Sensors remain in their current state.
* Evaluate sensor status: Difficult (10+) Electronics(Sensors) (1D minutes, INT)
Fuel. Critically low.  All unnecessary systems powered down.
* Evaluate fuel level:  Formidable (14+) Electronics(Sensors) (1D minutes, INT)
* Evaluate power usage: Average (8+) Electronics(Sensors) (1D minutes, INT)
Weapons. Both particle barbettes disabled.   Laser turrets functional.
* Evaluate weapons status: Difficult (10+) Electronics(Sensors) or Very Difficult(12+) Gunner(Turret) (1D minutes, INT)
Crew casualties. The crew who were lost have been “committed to the deep”.
Equipment.  Decent (TL-appropriate) military equipment; vacc-suits with mag-boots, gyro/gauss rifles or SMG/ACR sidearms.   No “heavyweight” stuff; they are not marines.  Any breaching equipment will have to be improvised; they will not be equipped with dedicated breaching devices or charges but will have a decent variety of tools available.

(Bear in mind that the Belhamron’s Military Countermeasure Suite imposes a DM of 6, which the crew will use to hamper any attempts at sensor scans.)  (MgT2 High Guard, p42)

Morale/psychology
The Belhamron’s crew will be professional and cautious, aware of only what they have picked up on passive comm-channels, scared and/or angry.  They have been marooned for weeks, lost several of their crew members (and friends) and are behind enemy lines.  They want to escape, evade and get home.  However, they are professional military, and if they believe the PCs to be a civilian crew will treat them without animosity, unless events trigger some problem; flaring tempers or confrontations may a tense situation ugly.

Survivors’ objectives
If the Belhamron’s crew can obtain enough parts from the PC ship (either from spares or from cannibalization) and enough fuel to refuel (or at least enough to make a jump; 40 tons per parsec jump if referee uses the Gazelle) they would rather transfer the fuel and effect sufficient repairs to their own ship and escape.

If they cannot repair or refuel their own ship, then they will seek to commandeer the PC ship to escape in.  This leads to a few different strategies which will depend upon the circumstances:

* They would rather the Belhamron not fall into enemy hands, and thus will purge all sensitive data from their ship’s computer as a bare minimum or attempt to rig scuttling charges (or devise another way to destroy their ship once abandoned).

* If they have enough fuel to jump out-system in the PC ship, they will maroon the PCs in a small craft (from the PC ship if they have one, or in the Belhamron’s gig). This could be a very tight squeeze!  The craft’s communication will be disabled, and if necessary, drive hobbled to ensure it is too slow to pursue them or reach assistance in time to prevent Belhamron’s escape.  If the Belhamron’s gig is used, PCs will find that it very low on fuel, almost all having been syphoned from the gig’s tanks to extend the main ship’s endurance.

* If the escaping crew need to refuel at the gas giant, they may consider it necessary to take the PCs along as captives until they can be marooned as above.  They will consider the PCs prisoners rather than hostages.

Possible outcomes
Do the survivors manage to repair the Belhamron and escape, leaving the PCs to explain and perhaps in need of repairs themselves?  Do the PCs overcome them, or negotiate a truce or deal with them?

If the PCs manage to signal for help, is the message jammed, or does help arrive?  If a successful signal is sent and received, navy ship in local space (SDBs or Patrol Cruisers) will respond from 3D hours travel away.

Are there other salvaging ships sufficiently close who might be alerted by some ad hoc emergency transmission? If the PCs are lucky, there might be a civilian salvage ship sufficiently nearby to respond (2D hours away); will they just become another target?

Is the PCs ship commandeered by the Belhamron’s crew?  Do they escape successfully or get intercepted?  What extent will the PCs go to recover it?  Is it insured?

Crew

PositionStatusRankKey SkillsUPP
CaptainActiveCommanderLeadership 3, Tactics (naval) 3, Admin 1, Diplomat 1687989
PilotActiveLt.Leadership 1 , Pilot (spacecraft) 2696888
PilotCasualtySub-Lt.Leadership 1, Pilot (spacecraft) 2, Flyer (grav) 1967AA7
PilotCasualtySub-Lt.Leadership 1, Pilot (spacecraft) 1767786
EngineerActiveLt.Leadership 1, Tactics (naval) 1, Engineer (J-Drive) 368B987
EngineerActiveEnsignEngineer (Life support) 1, Mechanic 19B9888
EngineerKIASub-Lt.  
EngineerKIASub-Lt.  
AstrogatorActiveLt.Leadership 1, Astrogation 28667B6
MedicActiveLt.Medic 2, Leadership 1, Flyer (grav) 1, Electronics (Computerss) 167B886
GunnerActiveAbleGunner (turret) 1, Gun combat (slug) 157A555
GunnerCasualtyPO3Gunner (turret) 1, Gun combat (slug) 19A9567
GunnerCasualtyPO2Gunner (turret) 2, Gun combat (energy) 1966766
GunnerKIAPO3  
EW Mission SpecialistActivePO2Electronics (Sensors) 2, Electronics (Comms) 1849979
EW Mission SpecialistActivePO3Electronics (Sensors) 1, Electronics (Computers) 14886A5
EW Mission SpecialistCasualtyPO2Electronics (Sensors) 1, Recon 1, Gun combat (energy) 1A85766
EW Mission SpecialistKIAPO3  
AdministratorKIASub-Lt.  
MaintenanceKIAJr engineer, Able  
(First) OfficerActiveLt.Leadership 2, Tactics (naval) 2, Admin 1, Persuade 1899787

Consider all to possess Vacc-Suit 1, Melee (blade)-1. Injured UPP characteristics denoted by underline; apply 10 points of damage, Endurance first).

 

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