All posts by Jim Vassilakos

Creator of the Galactic mapping program.

The Sylan Extraction

Location: Syl/Reidain (Foreven/Reindain 0304) 2724 B510874-C
Patron: Johannis Arnaund, Journalist/Researcher
Required skills and equipment: Starship

Players’ Information:

Syl, the fourth moon of the Gas Giant Askew, has been a productive mining colony for several centuries and is currently the home of a number subterranean company towns, all of them locked in endless competition. Each corporate enclave tries to produce the best ore at the lowest price, but over the centuries, a sizable population of non-aligned Sylans has taken root in abandoned steam and aqueduct tunnels (known collectively as the Agrippa). These Agrippans are effectively Syl’s riff-raff, living by their wits, often doing the worst jobs for the lowest pay, and sometimes even serving as independent mercenaries whenever a corporate war breaks out, which is fairly often. Some Agrippans, unhappy with this arrangement, have joined together as the Sylan Liberation Front (SLF), a group that seeks to undermine corporate control of Syl and ultimately create a participating democracy among all of Syl’s people in order to effectively regulate and rein in the corporations. Needless to say, the SLF is considered an outlaw organization among all of Syl’s competing corporations, and anyone associated with the group may be considered a terrorist.

The PCs will likely be visiting Syl to pick up or drop off cargo. While in the Starport bar, they meet Johannis Arnaund, a rather inebriated fellow with a strange accent who seems to be somewhat disgruntled with Syl’s current state of affairs. He appears to be drowning his misery with alcohol, and while talking politics, he will wax eloquent about how the Sylans, Agrippans and Corpies alike, are all effectively prisoners to the corporate elite. The Corpies work in constant fear of being fired, because if they are fired they’ll become Agrippans, who are, in turn, essentially treated as human refuse. Sure, the consumers get a great price on the mined minerals, but what is the real cost in terms of human misery and broken lives?

If asked about himself, Johannis will say that he’s from the Spinward Marches and that he came to the Foreven Sector in order to study and write about governance, corporatism, and sophont rights along the Imperium’s spinward frontier. He has written extensively as an independent journalist and social commentator, but despite his work, he remains relatively obscure. Earlier this year, he came to Syl and met with certain members of the SLF, whose names he obscured in his notes by referring to them as A, B, C, D, etc…. However, as he returned to the starport, his notes were confiscated by Sternmetal Corporation’s security grunts, and he realized immediately that although they didn’t have the names of these people he met with, they’d be able to use security camera footage and data logs to figure out who they are. Hence, he sent a number of warning messages out via the public boards, but he’s very worried that these people will eventually by rounded up by Sternmetal or one of the other corporations.

“I will not be able to live with myself,” he states in one of his more lucid moments, “if my stupid lack of precautions causes these noble, brave, freedom fighters to suffer further.”

To this end, if the PCs will find these people and provide them with passage off-world, he will gladly pay three times the normal rate, and he can be talked up even higher.


Referee’s Information:

The passengers can be smuggled past security inside of large, hollowed out engine parts that can be obtained from a local scrap yard. These parts will need to be welded shut around them so that they can’t be easily opened by the guards.

The hard part will be in locating these people and communicating with them, but given Mr. Arnaund’s help, this is much more doable. The problem, he says, is that now that Sternmetal is on to him, they will be paying careful attention to anywhere he goes, and his life might even be in jeopardy if they think he constitutes a threat.

Possible variants are as follows:

1. All is as it seems, but Arnaund is secretly in love with one of the SLF leaders, a woman by the name of Este. He will be very eager to meet with her in person, possibly putting the whole operation at risk.

2. The operation is already at risk, as Mr. Arnaund’s table was bugged by Sternmetal security before the PCs even showed up.

3. Arnaund, having fallen on hard times, has effectively sold his soul to Sternmetal security and is helping them to entrap unsavory merchants in order to impound their starships, imprison their crews, and then employ them in hazardous duty in the lower mines.

4. As #3, but the SLF was secretly created by Sternmetal in order to gather subversive elements and conduct terrorist operations against the other mining companies. These “leaders” who are to be extracted are members who were up-and-coming in the organization who advocated hitting Sternmetal itself rather than just hitting the smaller corporate enclaves, something the SLF’s senior leaders obviously couldn’t allow. Hence, this extraction is being conducted so that these people can be effectively neutralized off-world so as to not create a rift within the SLF itself. Arnaund’s plan, then, is that after the ship reaches orbit with its human cargo, it’ll be stopped by a Sternmetal SDB, thoroughly searched, and then Sternmetal will deal with the PCs however they wish.

5. These supposed SLF members are actually Zhodani agents/agitators whose covers were compromised after a recent terrorist operation, and Mr. Arnaund is, among other things, a Zhodani agent who is trying to get them out on short notice. The PCs, therefore, are effectively useful idiots in case the extraction should fail.

6. As #5, but the Zhodani agents are not satisfied to merely have escaped Syl. They also want a starship of their very own to get back to Consulate space, and the PC’s ship would do quite nicely.

The Aslan Mercenary Fleet

Patron: Aslan Clan
Required Skills: Trokh (the Aslan language)
Required Equipment: Starship (not entirely necessary)

Players’ Information:
It is 1110. In the Spinward Marches, the 5th Frontier War is in its closing days, but this epic conflict has spawned an offshoot, the Mnemosyne Civil War, which is being fought between the pro-Zhodani Prince-Regent Hautal Goinsprach and his challenger, Henrik Gruneweld. Gruneweld has promised a constitutional monarchy to replace the overly authoritarian rule of the Goinsprachs, and this has won many to his cause. In response, the Prince-Regent has put out an open call for mercenaries, promising land and riches to all who would defend the crown.

Since war cargos are highly lucrative, the PCs find themselves transporting ordnance from the Avalar Consulate to the Mnemosyne Pricipality in order to defeat the rebel forces (the Avalars, though technically neutral, would like to see the rebels crushed). On the way, the PCs come across an Aslan mercenary fleet run by the independent clan Arahyel, and they learn that the clan leader, Admiral Arahyel, hopes to join this fray for pay.

The Aslan in general, and Arahyel in particular, have an excellent reputation, priding themselves both on their ferocity in battle as well as their civility toward non-combatants. It is standard policy for the clan to hold off on planetary bombardments in order to offer their opponents the option of a bloodless surrender, or , if they prefer, to relocate or otherwise restrict the impending battle in such as way as to minimize or even remove the possibility of civilian casualties. Hence, it is important for the clan to enlist a cadre of solders who are able to facilitate communication, and so they are always on the prowl for solders who can speak both Trokh as well as Galanglic.

If the PCs also have their own starship, this will make them doubly useful, as Arahyel needs a group to escort his head wife, Wyaiiy, deep into Mnemosyne territory in search of Prince-Regent Goinsprach. They will act as the fleet’s eyes and ears, jumping a day or two ahead of the clan fleet in order recon each system’s defenses and loyalties before Arahyel’s arrival. If the system should contain friendly forces, they are to help Wyaiiy negotiate the terms of participation, but if it should contain hostile forces, then they are to put her as close to the enemy commander as possible so that when the clan fleet arrives in system, she can immediately begin to negotiate the terms of engagement. It’s a dangerous job to be sure, but Arahyel promises that if they serve with the same courage and honor that he expects and receives from his own soldiers, then they will all be handsomely rewarded.

The Fleet
The Fleet – image from wikimedia
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Referee’s Information:
Arahyel means everything that he says, but unfortunately he’s on the losing side of this fight. Goinsprach will be overthrown, and Henrik Gruneweld will become King. The reason is simply that the Mnemosyne people have had enough of the excesses and corruption of their government. Mercenaries like Arahyel are only getting in the way, making the conflict longer and bloodier than it needs to be. For each new system that the PC’s jump into, roll a d6.

1. Modest rebel task force: Their commander is cognizant of their size and will flee if outmatched. Analysis of jump signatures may give the clan fleet some idea of where they went.

2. Modest royal task force: Their captain will welcome any allies, mercenary or otherwise, with open arms, happy to receive support from wherever it might come.

3. Respectable rebel fleet: Their commander has a fierce disdain of mercenaries and will fight, however, he/she respects the Aslan methodology of warfare and will entertain discussions on reducing collateral damage prior to the battle. Also, he/she has a good idea as to the whereabouts of Henrik Gruneweld and will warn Wyaiiy and the PCs that though Arahyel might win this battle, the clan fleet will ultimately be destroyed.

4. Respectable royal fleet: Their commodore knows that the war is not going well. Defections, even among the military staff, are now epidemic, so much so that he/she cannot even trust his/her own officers. Because of this, and also due to reasons pertaining to self-preservation, he/she will opt to use the Aslan as a frontline force, hoping that it will bear the brunt of battle. Arahyel will have no problem with this, although Wyaiiy will be hesitant to agree. She would prefer to meet Goinsprach to get some firm understanding of what exactly is being offered in return for clan lives. Fortunately, the commodore has a pretty good idea where the main royal fleet is operating.

5. Main rebel fleet: Henrik Gruneweld is in direct command. Of course, he’ll fight Arahyel if he has to, but he’d rather not waste military resources reducing the Aslan fleet to space flotsam. Instead, he’d rather fight his rival directly. As for reducing collateral damage, he’s all for it, partly because it’s politically smart, but also because he’s expecting to win this realm, and he wants it to be more than a cinder when he’s crowned king.

6. Main royal fleet: Prince-Regent Hautal Goinsprach and his admiral are not getting along. The admiral realizes that the tide of war is against them. He’s advised the prince to seek a truce, but the prince is living in the sort of fantasy world that all such dictators must construct in their own minds as their end draws near. Although the arrival of the Aslan as pro-royal mercenaries comes too late to change the eventual outcome, the prince seizes on it with crazed desperation. He wants Arahyel to attack Gruneweld’s main fleet directly, and so as to maximize their odds, he wants Wyaiiy to employ trickery. “Meet with Gruneweld to talk terms. Then kill him by whatever means possible. Without their leader, his forces will be in disarray, and at that moment we shall pounce upon our prey and rip them to shreds.” In return, he will promise anything.

This Old Drone

Patron: Noble, Agent
Required Equipment: Grav Vehicle or Small Craft
Location: (Foreven 1416) Ile Danse A56A756-B Ri Wa 404 Na

Players’ Information:
“It’s the mother of all heists,” Marco smiles, looking at the PCs with a mischievous grin. “Thirteen-and-a-half million and the thanks of the Countess of Jewell; don’t tell me you’re not interested.”

Back during the 5th Frontier War, Marco explains, Zhodani marines occupied Jewell and stole what is famously known as the Joconde artifact (named after the starship that found her). It is no less than the actual body of what some scholars believe was once a member of the race of beings known as the Ancients. The body itself appears to be a normal Droyne female, a member of the drone caste, who it is believed died during the “final war” after her ship was destroyed. Being hundreds of thousands of years old, she has been perfectly preserved by the vacuum of space and was maintained in a vacuum chamber prior to her unlawful appropriation from the Museum of Fine Arts and Antiquities at Jewell.

The Joconde artifact was on loan from the estate of Helena Stavelot, the Countess of Jewell, and as such was insured by Lloyds of Lunion. However, Lloyds refused to honor the insurance policy (worth MCr 13.5!), claiming that the theft was an act of war. In order to retain the museum’s business, Lloyds made a good faith effort to buy back the artifact from the Zhodani Consulate, but the Consulate refused to sell, explaining that such artifacts “belong to the ages” and thus cannot be possessed by any individual but rather must be held in trust by a collective body, such as the Zhodani Consulate, which represents the interests of civilization itself. Thus, not only did the Zhodani steal the artifact, but they, after the fact, stated that the Imperial system of government is illegitimate and fit only for barbarians. Needless to say, the Imperium was displeased.

Now the Joconde artifact is going on tour outside of Zhodani space for the first time. Among its first stops will be the Floating Gardens of Ile Danse (Foreven 1416). Somehow, Marco got word of where the artifact will be, when it will be there, and he even has a good idea of what the security arrangements will be thanks to the help of some clairvoyants who are in his employee. What he doesn’t have is a team of thugs who can (a) get in, (b) get out, and most importantly, get the Joconde artifact somewhere in between the aforementioned (a) and (b). That, of course, is where the PCs come in, if they choose to take on what may well be the most dangerous if patriotic job of their criminal careers.

Floating Gardens
Floating Gardens – Image from wikimedia
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

The Floating Gardens are a series of artificial islands that are made to look real, but which are outfitted with grav-modules so that they can literally rise out of the water and thus get out-of-the-way of tropical storms. Marco’s idea is that the PCs should book a room during a time when a hurricane is predicted, then destroy the grav-module during the hurricane, so while the island is descending into the storm, they can take advantage of the confusion and panic to re-appropriate the Joconde artifact and thus make their escape.

Referee’s Information:
1. Unless the PCs are wearing psi-shields, a Zhodani security agent catches a whiff of “something’s not right” as they’re doing their reconnaissance of the showroom and decides to put them under surveillance. After this, the PCs will notice that they’re being constantly shadowed by an assortment of swarthy-looking weirdos.

2. There’s another group that wants to get the artifact, and both they and the PCs sort of “bump into each other” during their initial reconnaissance. Neither one will initially know what to make of the other, until one of the PCs recognizes a member of the other group from a prison stint he or she did at point in the past.

3. Everything is going great until a wing of Zhodani fighters show up to blast the PCs’ getaway craft out of the sky.

4. All is as it seems, except for one minor detail: the artifact’s a fake. As for where the real Joconde artifact is, God only knows, but when Lloyds examines it, they will determine that it’s a clever imitation and will refuse payment. The museum will reluctantly concur.

5. All is as it seems, except that Marco is working with the Imperial Secret Service, and they don’t want any loose ends (it would be an embarrassment for them to be discovered contracting out jobs to lowly criminal types like the PCs). Hence, the PCs have to be flushed, but that’s a whole other adventure.

6. All of the above (and have a nice day).

Angry Tweeties

The ship’s broker is approached about transporting a consignment of newborn Iptetean Tweeties, a species of genetically-modified pets that are increasing in popularity throughout the Foreven sector.

Iptetean Tweety
Iptetean Tweety : Picture from wikimedia. GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later.

1. Unbeknownst to humaniti, the Iptetean Triapus, from which the Iptetean Tweety is modeled, is sentient. This sophont has a subsonic language and once had some measure of technological civilization before humaniti invaded its homeworld. Due to the species’ psychology, it went into hiding at the first sight of humans, abandoning their towns for the forests, their ancestral home. Explorers eventually captured them and made some into pets, and as these creatures were taken into space, they’ve seen that the humans have also created a technomagically-modified version of themselves, the Iptetean Tweeties, which if caught at a sufficiently young age can be taught the language and history of their unmodified kin.

One of the passengers (or crewmembers), who has a pet triapus, notices that their pet seems to be drawn to the tweeties, which are in a large pen in the ship’s hold. This is made noticeable due to the fact that whenever the triapus and the tweeties get into sufficiently close proximity, they begin what appears to be a massive “purr-session” that is actually a pleasure to witness. The loud, “tribble-like” purring, once it stops being funny, is innately soothing to the human ear. It is apparent that even without being able to see each other, both the Triapus and the Tweeties appear to be able to hear each other, and they appear to be very pleased or possibly excited with each others’ presence.

In truth, they are calling out to one another. The Triapus wants to obtain the release of these young Tweeties, but there’s nothing that it can realistically do to make this happen, so it finally resigns itself to teaching them what little it can and otherwise accepting the situation, as at least it is being well-fed by an affectionate albeit hideously ugly, alien master.

2. As #1, but the tweeties are adolescents, and they can understand the triapus quite well, as many of have already learned the triapi language. The essence of their conversation is yet another reiteration the typical lecture on how they must prepare for the day when a savior will be born who will lead them in a Great Strangling against humaniti, and that wherever they are taken in the universe, they must remember their sacred homeworld and the terrible indignity that has been perpetrated upon them by their evil overlords. In the meantime, however, they are reminded that they must play the part of pets, for the time to strike is not yet. Hence, for all practical purposes, nothing remarkable happens, at least from the perspective of the ship’s crew.

3. As #1, but the tweeties are mostly adults, and many of them want to bust out of captivity and are actively trying to recruit the triapus to help them. The triapus, however, has been treated exceedingly well by its master, who takes time to play with it on a daily basis and who also generously feeds it table scraps rather than forcing it to eat some sort of bland, homogenized, pet food. Hence, it has grown genuinely affection toward this human and towards humaniti in general, and therefore it won’t help the tweeties, forever making excuses. Rightly or wrongly, it claims that there’s a technomagical, hidden surveillance system in the cargo hold, and that if it were to help its brethren escape, suddenly all humans would know that all Triapi, and by extension all Iptetean Tweeties, are intelligent, and this would permanently sever any hope of eventual freedom. No matter what they do, the triapus argues, they must guard this secret, each and every one of them, until the prophesized Great Strangling.

4. As #3, but the triapus feels mistreated and so it will help the tweeties escape. Hilarity ensues as many of them pile into an airlock and manage to escape into a very, very large space.

5. As #4, but one or more of the tweeties thinks it knows how to destroy the ship by causing some major system to malfunction.

6. As #5, but the primary goal is to strangle the crew and passengers and somehow seize control of the ship.

Supplementary Library Data:

Piolin Enterprises. A subsidiary of BeastMasters, LIC, specializing in the genetic modification of various animal species for the exotic pets market.

Tweety. A registered trademark of Piolin Enterprises, the term is also informally synonymous for any of a variety of genetically-modified pets, particularly ones that incorporate the color yellow into their modifications. Etymologically, the word comes from one of Old Terra’s first genetically-modified, pet species, an African Grey parrot colored yellow and given oversized eyes as well as expanded cranial capacity. Prior to this, the word “Tweety” can be traced to the name of a once-popular, animated character.

Iptetean Triapus (pl. Triapi). An omniverious climber/trapper/strangler of the planet Iptete (Foreven 2334), this creature resembles a small, three-legged octopus, except that it is purple with red splotches, similar to the branches of the Kokimovno trees which it chiefly inhabits, and its “face” resembles a large, green, Kokimovno leaf, which numerous smaller creatures eat. Despite being hideously ugly, they emit a calming, subsonic purr that can be felt more than heard, and so have made popular pets, but not nearly as popular as their genetically-modified variant, the Iptetean Tweety.

Iptetean Tweety. A genetically-modified variant of the Iptetean Triapus that has two of its three eyes hugely expanded, whereas the third, remaining at its normal size, is perpetually hidden behind a large yellow face that is generally more appealing to customers. This Tweety also has what looks like two large, yellow ears, but these are non-functional. Legal note: Piolin Enterprises holds an Imperium-wide trademark for the term “Tweety” in relation to the marketing of pets and the statement “They’re ugly, but they’re cute” in relation to the marketing of genetically-modified animals.

Inspiration: Featherless chicken