AMBER ZONE: Burn the Philadelphia!

The preferred setting is a pocket empire, or other smaller multi-system polity. The names can be easily changed to fit a 3I setting.

Part One: The Setup

Players Information: The PCs must have ship operation skills. They are approached by a Captain Sakamoto of the Star Kingdom Navy, with an offer of a dangerous but very valuable mission. The captain will not give any details until the PCs agree to take the job and sign the Star Kingdom Secrets Act. He explains only that the Kingdom needs a ship and crew not connected with the Navy. Once they are signed on, Captain Sakamoto explains the mission. If the PC group has a ship, they can use it, OR operate a second hand freighter, the Match (400 ton, 40+ years old) which the Navy acquired.

The Star Kingdom is engaged in a war against the Dominion. This war has tied up most of the SK navy forces, which has given non-state actors more ability to attack Kingdom shipping. The mission will not directly involve the war. Their destination is the Tabraz system.

Tabraz is a backwater system and near barbarism. They build no ships, but buy or steal them from the neighboring systems. The planet boasts a large population and a society that encourages piracy. Raids against them provoke yet more piracy and attacks on civilian shipping. The Tabrazians do not scruple against attacking anyone not a Tabrazian.

Tabrazian raiders have scored their first big victory against Star Kingdom forces in the region; they captured a Star Kingdom Sloop of War with its crew of 47 starmen. The sloop Philadelphia (known as “Big Phil”) is now in the Tabraz system, probably at the orbital starport. The Tabraz orbital port is known to have many, many armed satellites defending it.

The Navy does not want to admit that they lost the ship, as this would weaken the Kingdom’s morale – they are at war, after all. Nor do they want to risk the Tabrazians being able to put it into service. Up until now, the Raiders have only gotten older civilian ships, lower tech with normal civilian firepower. The Philly is a TL-15 warship with all kinds of modern weaponry and nuclear missiles. The PCs are hired under the Secrets Act so that no Navy ship will be risked, and the Navy might be able to keep this embarrassment a secret, if the mission should fail.

Before the Raiders have a chance to exploit this prize, the Navy is sending in a team to recover it. The PCs ship will insert the Navy team into Tabraz space, and get them close enough to the Philadelphia to board it, overwhelm the Tabrazian crew and make their escape. If escape is not possible, the Navy team has orders to spike the drive and destroy the Philadelphia to keep it out of Tabrazian hands. Either result is a success, and the Navy will pay the group Cr 200,000 for their part in the mission. Alternately, the PCs may take the secondhand freighter as payment. It will be handed over free and clear with official Star Kingdom documentation.

The strike team is 12 Marines, armed to TL-15 and wearing BD. Included with their gear is a short range radio jammer that should keep the locals aboard ship from sending or receiving any messages, including sounding an alarm. The team leader is Captain Sakamoto.

Spaceship Big Phil
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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

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AMBER ZONE: Suitcase of Trouble

Setting

The PCs arrive at a regional airport or train station on a balkanized world of roughly TL 6 through 8 famous for its tourist amenities, scenery, and flora and fauna. Crowds are dense; the people tense. War broke out this morning between the planet’s two largest states. If lesser states take sides, which appears increasingly likely, the war will spread, possibly involving the entire planet.

Players’ Information

At the airport (or train station), off-planet tourists are scrambling to get on a plane (or train) to the starport (several thousand kilometers away) before war spreads to this region and/or closes the starport. Local people, who also vacation here, just want to get home. The PC’s ship, if they have one, is at the planet’s orbital starport, requiring them first to get to the planet’s downport and then take a shuttle to orbit.

Opening Scene

In all the hubbub, the PC with the highest Streetwise skill notices something unusual. A middle-aged, slightly balding man in a local, rumpled business suit is seated at a bench. Beside him is a medium sized, hard-sided suitcase of off-planet manufacture. Passing people momentarily block the PC’s line of sight. After they move away, the PC sees a young, professional-looking woman wearing expensive off-world business attire walking away quickly with an identical suitcase. The seated man, though, still has his suitcase. Was there a switch? A theft?

The woman quickly disappears in the crowd. While the PC’s attention is focused on her, the man gets up, grabs his suitcase, and walks in the opposite direction, where he is also quickly engulfed by dense crowds of people, some of them angry about being stranded at an “out-of-the-way spot on a primitive planet.” Argument spreads through the crowd with lots of shouting, shoving, and perhaps fisticuffs, making pursuit of either suitcase carrier impossible.

Suitcase of trouble

© 2019 Carolyn Ivy Stein
Image created in DAZ 3D for Amber.Zone by Carolyn Ivy Stein who owns the copyright thereto. Used with permission.

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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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Wolfsbane

This adventure is coined at Vargr, but an all human party will do fine. The game can be played almost any time in the Traveller history. The players are put into a situation their very survival depends on finding a solution to a genetically modified virus set out in the population.

Location: Any world under Vargr control, by occupation. Somewhere in Vland or Corridor might be best in the Rebellion era. In a TNE setting it would be better to place it in DoD.
Port: C+; Size: Med+; Atm: 4 – 8 (Untainted); Hyd: Any; Pop: 7+; Gov: Any; Law: Any; Tech: 12+

Equipment: Starship and weapons.

Skills: Combat and starship skills.

As the PC’s are about to leave the world, they are not given clearance to lift off. The reason becomes soon clear. The Vargr that occupies the world, has put it under quarantine. No one is given permission to take off or land. Above the starport is a cruiser hovering to prevent anyone to take off.

Any explanation is not given why the world has been put under quarantine. But the rumors start to fly. Both on the street and in the media.

Here is some rumors to feed the players, over several days:
1, The government is preventing anyone to take off and land to conceal the fact that a new thrust into the Imperium is being prepared. (False)

2, The purpose of the quarantine is to hold the human population as hostages. The Imperium will not be able to take this world back easily without preventing a holocaust. (False)

3, Infiltrators has been spotted among the population. The quarantine is to prevent them to report back to the Imperial Navy. (Partial true.)

4, A human spy was arrested a few weeks ago. In the arrest he broke a small bottle with some clear liquid, while shouting “DIE scum dogs, die, die”. The spy seemed hysterical. (True, see below for more.)

5, The city hospital has sealed off a wing. No one is allowed to enter without permission. (True.)

6, The activity at the navy section of the starport is heightened. Despite the quarantine. The quarantine must then be a sham, and the humans held as hostage. (True, but for some other reason than stated. The government expects that some sort of fleet will enter to check on things, and the government will make certain that it can prevent a fleet to approach.)

7, Private owned starships has been taken away from the port, to places unknown. The Vargr are surely refitting them for their own use. (True)

The real reason for the quarantine is that a highly advanced virus is free among the Vargr population. Some renegade genetic researchers has hidden away in a remote asteroid to fabricate this virus, called Wolfsbane. A lab assistant was apprehended on the street when he jay walked. Misunderstanding the situation the lab assistant panicked, and broke open his bottle of test virus. He later broke in interrogation. The constables that arrested the man was put in quarantine, but too late. Other Vargr was becoming sick over the days.

Virus

Vargr Scientists has been unable to do something with the Wolfsbane, but they have come upon one important fact. The Virus does also affect humans, but in a different way. They will start to act drunken. The Virus in itself isn’t lethal to Humans, but the lack of hand-eye coordination and unsteady walking might kill several humans. However humans is not easily infected by the Virus. How the virus infects is unclear, but it appears to spread in the same way as common cold. The virus kills a vargr after a few days, but the virus use about 15 days to incubate. The scientists have managed to make a drug that slows the virus down, but does not kill it. Either way, if they managed to make one, they would still be faced by the treat of the final version of the virus.

To prevent infection:
Average,Constitution
Roll once per day, increase difficulty for Vargr.

When the PC’s has been beating around the bush for several days to find some answer, let one of them get sick. At this point the PC’s will also get the first chance to know the full truth. The PC will get drugs to keep the disease in check.

As the players do own a starship, they are requested (read ordered) to give away their starship to system defence. The PC’s will also be offered to stay as crew. To ensure that they can’t escape from the system, and to not spreading the disease, the jumpdrive is dismantled. The ill PC will also be permitted to join his fellow shipmates. While in space the PC’s are not allowed to enter other ships, or other spaceports in the system. They will either have to refuel in the gas giant or at the naval base.

The PC’s are ordered to patrol the outer system for illegal activity. The intelligence believes that the research base is somewhere among the asteroids, when the lab assistant was traced back to an in-system shuttle flight. The lab assistant could not tell where the base was when he never has been there.

After some weeks of patrolling, the PC’s detect activity at a remote asteroid. After the schedules and available information, there should not be anyone out here. When the source of the activity is checked more closely it is clearly illegal, after the standing rules.

They have indeed found the secret base. But at this point there is complications. Firstly, when the base is raised on the radio no coherent answer is given, just a lot of gibberish. The poor fact is that the scientist has been infected with the new strain of the virus by accident which left them somewhat mentally retarded. Not only that, they have also become violent. They do not act rationally and they are no longer able to put two words together to form a sentence. The scientists will attack the PC’s on sight with whatever weapons they got.

The PC’s should have no difficulty to enter the base. The real difficulty is to prevent that the scientist damage valuable equipment that will hold important information how to make an antidote. The PC’s will be ordered to size control of the base, killing few as possible. Backup will be there soon as possible.

How you wrap this up is up to you. If the PC’s are successful at taking the base without too much loss of equipment, the scientist dirtside will be able to fabricate an antidote within a months time. The base personnel may or may not be healed. Either way they will be executed anyway. Mass production of the antidote will commence after a few months.