Requirements: A ship and a decent reputation.
The characters are approached by an individual seeking passage to a world a few jumps away. He introduces himself as The Revered Smith-Juboru, and needs to bring along 2 displacement tons of personal cargo. In addition to his personal luggage, this turns out to be a large stone idol, about 3 meters tall and bulbous, ancient-looking but carved with outlandish stylized designs and letters in an unidentifiable script. Smith-Juboru claims to be an elder of a religion called the Childer of the New Earth.
The Childer believe that all biological life (not just human life) started on Earth and was transplanted by unknown divine agents to bring life to the universe. They are small in number, standoffish and isolationistic, but keep in touch through “circuit priests,” individuals like Smith-Juboru who travel with their religious trappings to perform yearly rites. A preliminary check at a library data terminal confirms the Childers’ existence, but the religion is too small and diverse to have a large online presence and no specific details of the passenger can be confirmed. The idol will require special handling.
1. Everything is as it seems. Smith-Juboru is a gregarious passenger and engages the crew in lively theological/philosophical debates, but takes no offense if people are irreligious or espouse differing views. When the trip is over, he invites the crew to services on-planet, which involves some rites, followed by several days of celebrations and feasting.
2. Everything is as it seems. Smith-Juboru is a first-class pest who expects the crew to bend to his beliefs. He regularly berates crew members for behavior at odds with the Childers’ strict rules. When the trip is over and assuming the crew actually made an effort to accommodate him and the idol was delivered with no issues, he pays each crew member a Cr 1000 bonus.
3. The set-up is a sham; the idol is a prop. Smith-Juboru is a con artist who travels from Childer community to Childer community defrauding them by masquerading as a religious prophet. During the trip, he will make remarks and perform actions which should make the crew suspect the deception. The Childer at the destination are unaware of Smith-Juboru’s true nature.
4. The set-up is a sham; the idol is real. Smith-Juboru is a smuggler. He has successfully stolen the idol from a Childer community at the last port of call, and masqueraded as a priest to escape; the deception was discovered after the ship took off, and a Childer group takes ship to pursue the PCs. Smith-Juboru has a buyer lined up at the next port of call, and will be in a hurry to disembark when the PCs arrive. The PCs will be asked for assistance offloading and delivering the idol to Smith-Juboru’s prearranged meeting point. There the PCs will see Smith-Juboru accept a briefcase from a man surrounded by heavily armed bodyguards, then the scammer will sneak off, using transportation he stashed nearby for just this purpose. The Childer vigilantes will arrive after Smith-Juboru has left but before the buyer can depart with his purchase. The referee must determine the flow of subsequent events.
5. The set-up is a sham; the idol is a trap. The destination is a sparsely inhabited system near the edge of the territory. The idol contains an EMP-generator which Smith-Juboru will set off as the characters arrive in-system; it will disable any ship system on a throw of 5+ (roll for each system — twice for communications and sensor systems). Smith-Juboru will have locked himself in his cabin and is a good combatant; there he will wait for his partners (in a shuttle nearby) to take over the disabled ship. The referee must determine the flow of subsequent events.
6. The set-up is a sham; the idol is an Ancient artifact. Smith-Juboru is a psionics researcher who has discovered the idol, which apparently functions as a psionically accessed computer. The idol-computer’s capabilities, the effect it has on Smith-Juboru and the crew in-flight, and its ultimate purpose are unknown to any – even Smith-Juboru doesn’t know what it can do. The referee must determine the flow of subsequent events.