The Thing in the Telescope

Patron: Jedric Chang-Xi
Location: Apinanto (Foreven/Fessor 0604)
Required: starship skills, Vacc Suit skill

Players’ Information:
Chang-Xi contacts the PC group, offering to hire them as ship crew for an in-system exploration mission. If the PCs have a ship, they can use it, but if not then Chang-Xi has chartered a Slow Pinnace. He is an amateur astronomer, and recently he detected something in the L4 cluster of the second planet in the Apinanto system. The cluster is a mass of small asteroid bodies and ice clouds, which are in motion, making identification of the Thing difficult. Apinanto Prime is the fourth planet, a low population poor world that gets little interstellar traffic. If the object is a ship, Chang-Xi can sell it to the government which would pay handsomely for it. He offers the PCs either one month standard salary by position, or a total of 15% of the salvage price of whatever he finds.

Travel to the L4 cluster will take several hours to around a day, the inner planet orbits the sun much faster than Apinanto.

In the Telescope

Referee’s information:
The Thing in the Telescope is resting on one of the asteroid bodies that make up the Trojan Point. Trojan Points are much denser concentrations of cosmic debris than asteroid belts; a safe passage to the target asteroid requires the Pilot to roll 9+, DM for Pilot skill. DM +1 if assisted by a navigator with Navigation-2 or better. Landing the ship on the asteroid requires a Pilot roll of 6+. Failure by more than 1 calls for one roll on the Starship Damage table.

PCs moving about in the microgravity of the asteroid cluster will have to make as many Vacc Suit skill rolls as the referee wants to keep things interesting. Tiny rocks are floating by all the time, some may be large or fast enough to cause an accident. PCs with prospecting skill may search for resources, finding something on 11+, with DM for skill. The CT Module Beltstrike can provide helpful rules & information on operating in microgravity, and dealing with asteroids.

The Thing is, in fact,
1. A ship, a type-Y yacht, but it has already been claimed by another salvage operation. The other salvage operator shows up while the PCs are investigating, and accuses them of claim-jumping. Use the reaction table with a DM of -2 to determine the salvager’s attitude.

2. An abandoned pinnace. It belonged to a prospector, which is obvious from even a cursory search. If the PCs search the asteroid it is parked on, they will discover the body of the prospector on 7+, DM for Prospecting skill. On an 11+, the prospector discovered something of value before he died.

3. An emergency shelter type construct, looking like part of a starship’s escape gear. It has been there at least fifty years. The people who used it were rescued, and left the shelter behind, with some clues as to what happened to them. The shelter is not worth much except perhaps to a museum.

4. A type-A Free Trader which crashed. It is holed in several places and the drives are non-functional, but its cargo is still intact. Crew and/or passengers will be found within. Referee can use the Trade & speculation table to determine the nature of the cargo.

5. A subsidized merchant ship kitted out as a naval auxiliary ship, with a model/4 computer, triple turret weapons and nuclear missiles. Ship’s computer records will show that it was grounded on the asteroid with a drive failure and the crew left in a sub-craft; but the conflict was ended before the owning navy was able to get back and recover it. If it is returned to Apinanto, the government will overrule the salvage claim and nationalize the vessel. If the PCs do not have a ship, they may be offered jobs as crew aboard the new system patroller.

6. A listening post and forward base from Saphi (Fessor 0804). Saphi plans to raid Apinanto for water and agricultural resources. The base is manned by a group of equal size to the PCs. They will attempt to capture, rather than kill the PCs. If the PCs are captured, they will be taken back to Saphi when the next Scout ship arrives (within four days).

If the PCs return to Apinanto with salvage, Chang-Xi will pay up as promised. The local government will not be able to offer more than 15-20% of the value of the ships. The Referee must determine the flow of subsequent events.

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