Location: Highbury (Foreven/Titan 0106) 0926 B566879-9 Ri (PBG)203
Patron: Colonel Sandovar Fasola, military intelligence officer of Caxburgh, one of the major states of Highbury
Required skills and equipment: none
Highbury’s two main land masses are separated by fairly wide oceans, except at one point, known as the Channel. In this narrow passage (32 km at nearest point) is found the chain of islands that make up the country of Glostonburgh, home to 2400 souls. Glostonburgh’s economy is based on fishing, and they export fish and aquaculture goods to nations on both continents.
Caxburgh (103 million) on one continent and Breedony (86 million) on the other are gearing up towards a war. Glostonburgh is officially neutral but both sides have a reason to desire control the islands; the largest island has an excellent harbor, and the islands can serve as staging grounds for invading the other country.
Colonel Fasola wants the PCs to investigate the island, looking for military activity by the other side, to use as a pretext and justification for their own occupation. He’s using off-worlders to minimize risk of being recognized as spies. They are given a special military comm channel which can be utilized by their own comms, and two weeks in which to discover any military ships, planes or vehicles, any uniformed soldiers, or other evidence that Breedony has already violated the neutrality. They will have to provide tangible evidence for the Colonel to take to the high command, preferably visual recordings.
The PCs will be given a cover identity as off-world journalists there to investigate the local aquaculture. They can use this guise or create one of their own. They can use their own contra-grav craft if they have one, or Fasola will arrange for one to be available. At the end of two weeks, the PCs should return, with whatever intelligence they’ve been able to gather. Pay can be negotiated based upon PC’s military background and social skills.
Glostonburgh consists of three main islands and seven smaller ones. The people live along the coasts, in small towns and villages. There are some contra-grav and ground cars, but most islanders walk to get where they’re going. The interior of the islands has some agriculture but the land rises steeply, and much of it is uninhabited, with light to dense forests. Two of the small islands officially have zero population. The referee will have to prepare a sketch map of the island group.
The islanders are, understandably, very nervous and suspicious of visitors. No one will initially want to talk to the PCs. The referee should apply at least a -1 DM to all reaction rolls. The PC’s skills and behavior may influence reactions.
Many islanders are nearly in a panic, looking for any way to escape being occupied. As war news dominates the headlines, there will be increased incidents of looting, public rioting and people trying to beg/borrow/bribe the PCs into transporting them or their children off the islands. Most of the fishing vessels have already left for ports on one of the continents, so transports off the islands will be hard to find. If the PCs do not secure their ride, someone will steal it. The local economy is circling the drain as a result, further stoking tension and hostility. The PCs should encounter sad stories of desperate people wherever they turn.
It is the widely held opinion that if Caxburgh and Breedony start fighting for control of the islands, most everything will get destroyed in the process. The local leadership has secretly rigged all the government buildings with demolition charges to deny their use to either invader. If the PCs discover this, will they try to prevent it?
Possible circumstances arising while the PCs are there are:
1. Breedony is not planning to invade. There are no spies on the island except for the PCs. There are lots of people acting suspiciously, though.
2. Both sides assume the island residents will not put up a fight, since they are greatly outnumbered and have no army, only a small police force. In fact, groups of locals have quietly amassed a lot of weapons, and have a guerrilla campaign planned if they are invaded.
3. Breedony has already covertly taken control of the islands, and everyone they meet who is an official is working for them. The PCs will be ‘made’ as soon as they arrive and start asking questions. The Breedonian intelligence officers have a plan to feed them false or misleading data from the start. All the fortifications etc. are bogus. Give the PCs a chance to figure this out.
4. The leaders are trying to convince everyone that they will not be invaded, so everything coming from official sources is all morale-building and positive. They ask the PCs, as journalists, to assist them. A local priest disagrees, and asks the PCs to help him convince people to prepare.
5. One of the locals ‘makes’ the PCs but thinks they’re working for Breedony, and wants to expose them as such. The real Breedonian agents will subtly try to prevent this, without blowing their own cover.
6. Breedony, or even Caxburgh begins the invasion while the PCs are present – bombs start falling and they have to run for it.
Maybe the PCs can prevent the islands from being invaded, but maybe not. They should have the opportunity to rescue at least some people from harm’s way, and have the opportunity to be the islands’ advocates with Caxburgh. The referee must determine the flow of subsequent events. Continue reading The Oncoming Storm