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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Amber Zone: Night of Terrors

Setting:

  • Any starport tavern with a Scout Base.
  • An unsettled swampy backwater world with a breathable atmosphere about a jump or two away.

Players’ Information:

The PCs are approached by a Mid-level ranking Scout. She is on active duty from the IISS (Imperial Interstellar Scout Service) Survey Branch – yes, the Scouts. She is looking for a group to help solve a mystery. You see, the IISS sent a sub-contractor Pathfinder team to a remote, swampy world to perform dirtside surveys. These people were to build a rudimentary starport landing area to prepare for additional teams to follow and expand the facilities into a boa fide new colony. Initial orbital surveys showed a vibrant native eco-system in place; therefore, some dirtside experiments on interactions between imported flora and fauna and native life needed to be done.

All was going well for the first few months. The starport area had been finished and the team was turning their efforts into importing herd animals that thrive in a swamp-like environment. The reports from the surface spoke about frequent electrical storms with robust lightning which they were trying to harvest with lightning arrestors that shunt the electricity into storage batteries. The Geostationary Satellite System was up and fully operational, but the system was out intermittently due to the higher base Gauss level of this planet. The initial hypothesis of the silence is the colonist/contractors died from some form of incompatible viral or bacterial infection that kills all non-native life.

As stated about a month ago, all communications stopped. No distress call was made and IISS flyovers report no signs of life. The IISS is trying to keep the news of this event off the TAS Newsline so speed and discretion are exceptionally important. The offer for help cannot be in the atypical contract format. With that in mind the Scout is willing to upgrade the PC’s gear with top-level vacc suits, ship sensors or anything short of an armored vehicle that will get them to take this contract. Additionally, the PCs will be allowed to visit the base armory to “refresh and replenish” their own weaponry. (Slug-throwers and a few grenades at the most – NO energy weapons).

Additionally, the Scout will accompany the PCs for several reasons. The first reason is she is skilled in microbiology. The second reason is the IISS has placed a warning beacon in orbit to interdict any unauthorized entry. She has the correct passcode to access the planet. The third reason is her spouse was one of those unlucky pathfinders that disappeared. If he left a logbook behind, she would be able to access it. The Scout will also be transporting the PCs on an IISS-owned Type-L Standard Lab Ship, complete with an IISS team of eight to crew the vessel and also with a second Pathfinder team of eight members who all are trying to solve this mystery. These eight members are a mix of scientists, medics, and communications technicians.

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Githsiakio

AMBER ZONE: The Githiaskio Mystery

Players’ Information:

The Githiaskio have recently discovered a piece of the Ancient’s technology on their planet buried in the deepest part of their ocean. Their archaeologists called on the neighboring Imperium to send their Ancients experts. After years of cooperative research, it was determined that this is one of many beacons the ancients placed on planets that had emerging sophonts on them. It has been theorized that the Ancients would take groups of emerging sophonts from their home world and transplant them to similar worlds with the express intention of observing evolutionary patterns. After the recent discovery of theorized sophont cephalopods on Marduk and Chalchiutlicue the Githiaskio are curious if they might be the descendants of the prehistoric Githiaskio .

Larshon, a Githiaskio representative, has enlisted the aid of Nosi an uplifted dolphin to help recruit a crew to visit a set of planets to research the possibility of the aquatic cephalopod life being sophont and making contact with them. If they are sophont the crew is asked to leave a deep-sea capable communicator that can relay messages to and from Githiaski. Larshon would like a DNA sample from each discovered species for further study.

Tasks:

  • Visit the list of water worlds given by Larshon.
  • Make contact with any Sophont Cephalopods on those planets.
  • Convince the discovered sophonts to open communication with Githiaski.
  • Obtain a DNA sample for research by Githiaski Scientists.

Githsiakio

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Artifact

AMBER ZONE: The Gods of Yesterday

Players’ Information:

Count Alam Kertzov’s xenoarchaeology expedition to Tavisol (X686327-4) outside Imperial space failed to report in as scheduled. The count’s popularity in the Imperial court resulted in a general request for assistance in ascertaining the whereabouts of the count and either rescuing him or reporting back that he is safe with appropriate supporting evidence. The 150,000 credits is payable upon verification of the count’s safety or return.

Funded by the University of Collette and the Azeus Corporation, the primary mission of Kertzov’s expedition to Tavisol was to investigate rumored alien artifacts. Kertzov, in the past, published widely derided theories about a species co-existent with the Ancients. He believed this expedition would serve to bolster his claim. Specifically, he cited that he had come into possession of a mysterious artifact: a globe 30 cm in circumference and made of a strange material. Kertzov has yet to explain how he obtained the artifact or what studying it revealed about Tavisol. He has also refused to allow independent scholars and scientists access the artifact.

What is known of Tavisol is that it is a lightly populated planet, off the main trading routes. A jump-4 capable ship is necessary to reach there, though those who take the job to return Kertzov to safety are given the location of a deep-space refueling cache Kertzov himself set up. Players can find little in the way of information outside of this. No significant writings have ever circulated widely enough to find. The few small merchants who have visited Tavisol report that the population is too small to support much trading and though the locals were friendly, all sensed they were pleased when visitors left.

Kertzov, who has theories about a species either concurrent with the Ancients or shortly thereafter, suggested to his family that he had heard credible rumors that Tavisol possesses potential evidence bolstering his case and that the artifact provides the corroborating evidence. He spent a year preparing and planning for the journey, including refitting an Armstrong-class ship he named Illustrious. Because of Tavisol’s location outside the Imperium and Kertzov’s concerns about securing his finds from others, he also hired a sizable security detail, mostly of former Imperial Marines.

Artifact

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