All Contest Entries have now been posted – 2021

All Contest Entries of the Amber Zone Contest – 2021 have now been posted. There are the 11 entries. Which one is your favourite?

  1. Hold Your Horses by Will Post
  2. Milk Run by Will Post
  3. The Hunt by Craig Oliver
  4. The Kh-Djatsc by Neil Lucock
  5. The Gods of Yesterday by Patrick Kanouse
  6. The Githiaskio Mystery by PoetrySue
  7. Night of Terrors by Marcus Maxiumus
  8. The Breakout by Alegis Downport
  9. Spindrift by Timothy Collinson
  10. Don’t Stick Your Nose In by Ade Stewart and Julian Prietz
  11. 28 Centuries later by Ewan Quibell

AMBER ZONE: 28 Centuries later

Players’ Information:

It is the 11th day of the 285th year since the founding of the Third Imperium. Which translated into the Terran calendar is the 1st November 4802.

The Third Imperium is expanding to Spinward and is encountering the Vargr as they are expanding Rimward. The Imperial research station, in fact an underground bunker on the remote moon of Idmiston Up has gone dark. There have been no communications with them for the last 28 days.

The PCs are tasked with going to the station and finding out what happened.

Idmiston Up is a 5 day in-system trip away, and the PCs have access to a Pinnace to get them there if they need transport.

Imperial scientists were tasked with coming up with a solution to the “Vargr Problem” and the Idmiston Up research station were looking into ways of using Vargr physiology to provide a solution.

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AMBER ZONE: Don’t Stick Your Nose In

An investigative scenario useable in any sci-fi setting.

Players’ Information:

By chance, the characters are witnesses to an accident.

A man wearing smart clothing and sporting a braided beard runs across a busy traffic intersection and is hit by a big delivery truck. People rush to assist (the characters can too, if they want) but sadly there is nothing that can be done, the fellow is dead. Emergency services soon show up and take charge. Everyone agrees that he seemed distracted, and that he was looking over his shoulder when he was struck by the vehicle. He doesn’t have any ID.

A Lost Wallet:

Sometime later, a little distance from the intersection, one of the characters notices a metal-cased wallet lying close to a wall. It is hinged, seems new, and contains a few low denomination credit bills, a key card for a residential property, a folded sheet of paper with some hand-written notes, and an access pass with a photo ID showing a man with a distinctive braided beard. It is the wallet of the accident victim.

The access card carries the name Hugo Lang, and it is marked with the logo of Gen Labs, a big local pharmaceutical company. The folded paper has a printed header consisting of a Gen Labs logo and an address. The handwritten notes consist of a list of scientific-sounding names and long alphanumeric codes – two are crossed out and have the word “toxic” written beside them, while another is ringed and has the word “Cops!” next to it. At the bottom of the piece of paper is a communicator number.

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AMBER ZONE: Spindrift

Players’ Information:

SpindriftSpindrift is a watery world, (HYDRO = 9 or A), with a large population (9 or A) of Eroctopi, an intelligent race of eight-limbed water-dwelling sentients usually between 1.5 and 2 m long. (STR-1, DEX+2, END-1, INT+1). World ATMO could be 4-9 but is most likely 5, 6 or 8; SIZE is 6, 7 or 8. Contact with humans is recent and limited as the planet is off the beaten track. It is also difficult because Eroctopi communicate via touch and a well-known black ink defence. Almost unknown to passing merchants who are trying to develop trade links is an additional language of coloured inks. Human presence on Spindrift is almost entirely on an island 200 km south of the equator where a small D class starport has been established. Population: 25,000. Those not working for the ’port and its ineffectual Warden, assigned to Spindrift as a sinecure, are mainly engaged in resource exploitation (fishing and mineral extraction) in areas the Eroctopi have leased. Some small research groups are present. Law Level is low amongst the humans and high by custom rather than enforcement amongst the Eroctopi.

Eroctopi have fancifully coloured and patterned skins and live relatively solitary lives in ‘bulbs’ on the shallow seabeds. Bulbs have an opening at the base, are 5-7 m in diameter, and are usually grouped in ‘villages’ of some four to six dozen. Periodically a dozen or so Eroctopi gather in a mating ball – the coloured ink is important in gaining acceptance to these – and the females give birth to a clutch of live juveniles. The latter, left to fend for themselves, are easy prey for other marine creatures in the first weeks of life.

Eroctopi technology is barely recognizable to humans. Transport is via “muscle fish” (or “kvart”), 12 m long eel-like creatures which several Eroctopi may ride using harnesses attached to fleshy protrusions. Records are kept via quipu-like strands and knots of a particular seaweed. Lighting is provided by lengths of worms bred to excrete blue-tinged lumichrome compounds. Distant communication is via a pony-express like system of Eroctopi who dedicate themselves to the job and are honoured for their role in society. Weapons are blowdarts (2D damage, range underwater 5 m) made from the stiffened intestines of kvarts and loaded with barbed urchin spines, or shells modified for cutting (1D damage, range Melee). Little is known about creative outlets, but fine examples of coral art are known causing the right algae to release the right sugars to produce the stunning colouration.

The PCs, perhaps merchants delivering cargo, or a research team drawn by reports of interesting lifeforms, are contacted by a marine biologist, Sarine Pemvarston. Smelling rather fishy, her skin is lustrous and gleams as if it is well oiled. She has a mane of hair tied in eight thick waist length braids. She is barefoot and wears shorts and a vest. She has livid looking red welts on arms and legs but appears cheerful, if determined. Sarine explains she is one of the few humans who can communicate with Eroctopi. She asks the PCs to meet her down at a dock-like structure.

Sarine sits on the edge of a floating dock which is virtually at sea level; her legs in the water. She waits a short while. Suddenly the water boils and tentacles appear, wrapping themselves around Sarine’s arms and hands, stroking and tapping. She is not in the least concerned and can be seen making similar motions on the tentacles with her hands; it is almost sensuous. She turns to the PCs and introduces them to <sliding stroke, three taps and a tentacle tip squeeze>. “I call him Slider. He’s a sea gherkin farmer and a local, well, magistrate for want of a better word.” She gestures off to the south. “From the driftfields almost at the Bissal Plain.” The PCs may get the idea it is a way away.

The Bissal Plains, she explains, have much reduced flora and fauna and are deeper than the shallow, fertile seas surrounding the starport where large populations of Eroctopi make their homes. She will get lost in explaining some of the information given above about bulbs and mating balls.

“But I’m getting side-tracked.” Sarine’s enthusiasm for her subject is clear to all. “That’s not why I’ve asked you here.” She explains that the Bissal Plains are where Drifters, a subspecies of Eroctopi (STR+2, DEX+2, INT-2, EDU-2, SOC-2) are usually found. Drifters do not live in communities and have no permanent dwellings; they prefer somewhat deeper waters. Slider is concerned. His farm, or more accurately range, is close to the Plains and he has noticed Drifters are appearing discoloured and even seem to be going missing although formal records are non-existent. Employing around 200 of them as seasonal farmhands, if that is the right word (rangetentacles?), he is doubly concerned: for his business and because he knows several Drifters as friends.

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AMBER ZONE: The Breakout

Players’ Information:

Whilst taking it easy at a starport bar on Paniig, the players notice a slightly nervous looking gentleman walking in and approaching the bar. Eventually gaining enough confidence to strike up a conversation with the group, he introduces himself as Newton Alder who works for the Paniig Institute of Archeology. Following a recent expedition to the jungles, he discovered some ruins which appeared to be a several thousand years old. Unfortunately, poor weather precluded any further exploration, and the expedition was abandoned and due to political infighting at the institute, Alder can’t get any further funding. However, just before he had to leave the site, he managed to extract an object that looks like something that is not of this world, which he furtively shows the players. The box-like object is made of a metal that has so far, defied analysis. He believes that the ruins are of alien origin; therefore, it is imperative that he gets back to the site. It is so important to him he is willing to pay for the expedition himself out of his own money – if the players are interested in joining in. They would be expected to transport the archeologist and his assistant (named Galen Cantor) plus some equipment to the site in the jungle on the uninhabited side of the planet, along with escort duties in case of any animal or unexpected encounters. He can pay Cr. 50,000 and Cr. 2,000 towards any equipment expenses that the party may have ahead of the expedition.

The site is located on the other large continent on the other side of Paniig; around three-quarters of the land mass is covered by dense jungle or forests, creating a steamy, humid atmosphere. Due to this, opportunities to land the players ship are limited and they’ll have to park around 10 km from the ruins at a clearing and travel the rest on foot. The trees are massive and don’t let much light in to the ground, due to the high foliage. Once they have secured their ship, the players will have to carry their equipment necessary to establish a forward operating base at the ruins, on foot.

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