AMBER ZONE: Foster Welbrook

Players’ Information:

The characters are on a TL 4 or 5 world that is currently in the throes of a protracted civil war. Both sides have brought in off-world mercenaries to bolster their forces, and the Imperium has enforced a ban on the importation of advanced weaponry and technology since the beginning of the conflict in an effort to keep it from escalating further.

While the characters are off the Starport extrality, they approached by a respectable-looking (though somewhat haggard) gentleman who introduces himself as Foster Welbrook. “My sincerest apologies for being so forward,” he says, “but time is of the essence now, so I must get straight to the point. When this war broke out, one of its first battles was fought near my house. My family and I were subjected to the horrors of warfare as front-row spectators. After the battle was over and the armies had moved on, I resolved to move to a place where the war would not find us again.

“As you can plainly see, I am a man of means. Since the winds of war can blow ill on one’s investments, I liquidated them and converted the currency into quantities of valuable commodities – gold, silver, gemstones – that I have kept hidden in my home. The war has raged for several years now and shows no signs of ending soon, but I have kept both my family and my legacy safe – until now.

“Two weeks ago, forces of the two great armies formed their lines against one another on the opposite sides of a river, with the small town in which I had made my family’s new home between them. I only barely managed to escape with my family in a small boat in the middle of the night, and even then, the pickets of both sides fired upon us! Word has reached me that there will be a new rebel offensive within the next three days. The legacy must be recovered before then, as the rebels have the unsavory reputation of looting anything of value that their soldiers may find.

“I would have brought my valuables into the Starport extrality, but the federal government has been known to confiscate or heavily tax such items. That is to prevent their being used to hire mercenaries or purchase arms and supplies for the rebels.

“In order to help protect my legacy, I have employed a holographic camouflage unit from off-world. I had to ‘bend’ some laws to bring it through Imperial customs, but soldiers have quartered in my house on several occasions during the war, and I prefer not to take any chances. It has worked well enough before, but only for a night at a time. I left it on when I fled my house and its power cells will only last another day or two at most.

“I beseech you to aid me by recovering my family’s legacy from the house! While I have nothing to pay you with now, I will give to you one-tenth of its total value, should you successfully recover it all.” Based on his inventory of that legacy, 10% would be somewhere between Cr70,000 and Cr120,000.

Welbrook

Mr Welbrook

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AMBER ZONE: Judge Me Worthy

Players’ Information:

An agent of the ruling noble of the subsector, Her Grace Duchess Estelle du Mere, contacts the characters. Sir Nolan Stannar is a member of the nobility who is well into middle age, recently retired from the Imperial Marines. He engages in small talk for a while, providing a round of refreshments while comparing military service histories, but soon comes to the point.

“Her Grace,” he says with a more formal tone, “is well into her second century of life and is preparing to retire from the Moot. In light of her exemplary service to the Imperium, the Duke of this sector has allowed her to select her replacement from among the nobility of the subsector. Her Grace has no relatives remaining to allow for a more… normal means of succession; so she has a short list of candidates.”

“The problem to Her Grace’s mind is that none of the most acceptable candidates has ever truly been tested by dire circumstances. Therefore, she has decided to stage such an event aboard her yacht – which has been specially fitted with extensive surveillance gear so Her Grace may make a full assessment of the candidates under such conditions.”

“Countess Yvette du Marisone, Marquis Kei Chang and Baron Lars von Helgard are currently bound for this world aboard Her Grace’s yacht. Her Grace intends for you to pose as members of a local group of pirates and stage an attack and boarding of the vessel. She will provide you a spacecraft and weapons loaded with non-lethal ammunition for this task.”

“The crew of the yacht is aware of this ploy, staging a slight delay on their last port of call to send word ahead. Their weapons will also be loaded with non-lethal ammunition, though they will endeavor to miss you so as to keep the façade going as long as possible. You will raid the ship, disarm the nobles without giving yourselves away, take valuables and pretend to kill the crew toward the end.”

“Before you can pretend to kill the nobles, you will depart indicating that the authorities are on their way. Once you are clear of the yacht, the crew will inform the nobles of the deception and upon your return to this world, you will each be paid Cr 50,000 and be provided a high passage for your trouble.”

He pauses to crack his knuckles before continuing. “Let me be clear: none of the nobility aboard the yacht is to be harmed beyond a bruise, abrasion or minor cut. The crew is only to be attacked with the non-lethal weaponry provided to you and nothing else. Any permanent injury to anyone aboard the yacht will void the agreement and possibly result in legal action against the lot of you.”

If the characters agree to this unusual arrangement, Sir Nolan will escort them to the starport to a fast pinnace armed with a laser that has been purposefully set to be ineffective. The livery of the local pirate group is boldly emblazoned on its flanks and the characters are fitted with vacc-suits and the non-lethal weaponry – snub pistols loaded with tranq rounds and a spare magazine loaded with marking paint rounds colored the hue of fresh blood (to “finish off” the crew of the yacht).

Sir Nolan provides emergence coordinates for the yacht as the characters prepare to depart. “The yacht should emerge from hyperspace about twenty hours from now – plenty of time to get ready.” He smiles and winks. “Give them a good show,” he says as the spacecraft’s hatch closes.

Officer

Image from Pixabay – Public Domain

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Altheon

AMBER ZONE: The Spaces Between (Winner 2014)

EDIT: This Amber Zone is the Winner of the 2014 Amber Zone Contest

Requirements:

The characters should have some experience with using a Vacc Suit, preferably having one for each member of the party. Having a Belter and a Scientist in the party may also be of help, but the referee can easily add such characters, if needed.

Players’ Information:

The characters are on Altheon, a small, nearly airless low-gravity world that is home to several competing mining firms. One of the larger firms, Orbion, has brought the characters to a meeting room in its office facilities on short notice. The characters have been asked to bring their Vacc Suits, as time is a factor.

A tall, thin man dressed in what passes for business attire on Altheon greets the characters (introducing any NPCs necessary to the group). He introduces himself as Goren Valks, Chief of Operations Safety for Orbion. “We’re pressed for time, so forgive me for skipping the usual pleasantries,” he says without ceremony, gesturing for the group to take a seat at the holographic display table that dominates the room.

“As you may know, Altheon is an aggregate world, consisting of approximately one hundred accreted asteroids held together by gravity, for the most part.” The holoprojector in the table displays a three-dimensional map of the structure of Altheon as Valks continues. “Initial geological surveys indicated the presence of many industrial minerals and metals. However, as you may also know, forays into the planetoid found substantially more valuable ores, including lanthanum and incredibly pure mineral and metal crystals that are highly valuable to the scientific community.”

The display zooms into a portion of the planetoid, showing more detail of its internal structure in one particular volume. “Orbion employs a number of independent subcontractors to help us exploit the resources of Altheon,” says Valks. “This is necessary, since the skills to survey and extract the resources efficiently and safely are very specialized – typically only available from experienced asteroid miners. The miners are paid a handsome percentage of the finds of their surveys and the workers extracting those finds make some of the best money to be had on the planet.”

Valks pauses to look at the characters in turn. “The reason for this is that the work is incredibly dangerous. The internal structure of Altheon is constantly shifting as the asteroids continue the long process of accreting into a single mass. As this graphic indicates, there are numerous voids within the planetoid. Negotiating the interior is challenging, since gravity can vary considerably from one location to the next, and the entire operation is conducted in pitch darkness with few, if any reference points. The failure of sensing equipment combined with a sudden shift of the structure of the planetoid can leave a crew disoriented and trapped dozens of kilometers deep within the planetoid. Those working in tight spaces can easily be crushed by shifting masses and there is virtually no atmosphere inside the planetoid as well, adding to the dangers.”

The display changes to personnel files with body images of each person. “Three hours ago,” says Valks, “we received a distress call from Survey Team Bravo Four. They were doing mapping and survey work in a new claim volume, nearly 28 kilometers below the surface. They didn’t reveal the nature of the emergency before we lost communications.

“I need you to take one of the corporation’s G-Carriers to their location and attempt rescue of the team members, along with the recovery of their gear and whatever survey information they have acquired. The job pays one hundred thousand credits, and I don’t have time to engage in negotiations on that. I have the electronic contract awaiting your thumbprints right here. If you accept, you must begin right away. The four-person team went in with just 48 hours of oxygen. That was twenty hours ago and it will take you nearly six hours to reach their last known location.”

Altheon

Altheon – Image by NASA – Public Domain

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