It is now time for The Zhodani Base 76 Patrons Writing Contest – 2014.
Since the Zhodani Base is celebrating 20 years on the Internets this year, we have added $20 to the prize pot from last year. The generous Jury, (Mike, Eric, Dylan and Anders) from the Amber Zone Opening Contest each add $10.
This years first prize is a $70 Gift Certificate at DriveThruRPG.
Second prize is a $40 Gift Certificate at DriveThruRPG.
Third prize is a $20 Gift Certificate at DriveThruRPG.
The contest starts now and ends 30 Nov 2014. Write as many entries as You like.
After the 30:st of November 2014, all entries will be posted on the Zhodani Base. The winner will be chosen by BeRKA.
By entering the contest You allow your entry to be posted at the Zhodani Base. All entries might also be posted in PDF format as a free down-loadable file at the Zhodani Base.
All entrants will be given credit for their work and will retain the copyright on their entries.
Some general guidelines:
1, Each entry should be less than 1000 words.
2, One image may be used in each entry. You must either own the rights to the image, or it must be used under some sort of free license. Wikimedia Commons is a good place to find an image that You can use. Please provide information about the image. (Is it Yours? If not, where have You found it? What license is used?) Note: You don’t need to use an image. You can also generate an image using the Pulp-o-Mizer or similar services.
3, Each patron should offer 6 options.
4, Each patron should be placed in the Foreven Sector. You may use the version of the Foreven Sector that can be found here at the Zhodani Base. (You don’t have to use this version.)
5, Please don’t force the PCs to sign up for (what they think are) illegal activities. It is better if they find that out later, or in some way are forced to take illegal action…
6, Please use a spell checker!
Send Your entries by e-mail. Please use plain text format and attach the image, if You select to use one. Word files will not be accepted!
Everyone that sends me an entry will get a reply. If you have sent me something and not got a reply within a few days, then contact me again.
Please include a preferred nickname (that may be your real name) to show on the Zhodani Base. If You expect to win, include an e-mail address to send the first prize to.
On Zdovesil (Anika 1212 A65588A-9) the characters are contacted by Eiliviatstlas, a high-ranking subsector Noble and Official. She has 1 ton of Government Dispatches to be delivered to Retlkasrnz (Mowbrey 1712 D8AA87A-7) which is administered from Anika subsector. She will pay the characters 10 kCr to personally see the cargo in the hands of the Consulate Governor. If the characters do not have access to a Jump-2 ship she will second a Scout and an Intendant pilot from the Consulate Navy. She will not state the nature of the documents, but will say they are routine but time sensitive communications.
Once at Retlkasrnz with a completed mission, Eiliviatstlas wonders if she could then request a small favour… and such favours from Zhodani nobility are not to be declined lightly. She displays a unique abstract stone sculpture to the characters. She obtained it from a trader who claimed it was sculpted by a primitive, non-human minor race living in on New Keento (Mowbrey 1813 C879758-9). Eiliviatstlas is a noted and shrewd art collector when not working hard as an administrator. She is convinced that the esthetic qualities of these pieces would fetch excellent value within the Consulate art markets. She requests the characters make a quick jump over to New Keento and investigate this and secure samples or possibly a trade agreement.
While she cannot use the public purse to finance this small mission, she will draw up a contract that will give the characters each a small piece of the action when and if the sculptures are obtained and marketed. She supplies the characters with 1500 Cr to buy trade goods to barter with the TL-1 sophonts.
The voyage to Retlkasrnz itself is routine. There is no difficulty in delivering the documentation. At New Keento the group is greeted by the young Zhodani Ambassador who will insist on accompanying the group, supplying a watercraft for the voyage. The New Keentonians are obsequious to the Zhodani, but insist on several permits be bought for travel to the reservation and allowing the players an effective Law Level of 5. Permits # 1D6, 500 Cr each. Admin skill allows a negative DM to a minimum of 1.
1. The sophonts live in a far off archipelago. They indeed produce the sculptures, using their teeth and claws as carving tools. They are quite pleased to create more in exchange for foodstuffs, tools and fabrics. The players must work to earn the trust of the sophonts and construct a logistical chain. Upon delivery and the establishment of a trade agreement each character will receive 1000 Cr (+20%-120% fluctuation) each year as a share in the market. Throw 10+ each year for the market to dry up and payments cease.
2. As 1, however there is also a group of traders from the Avalar Consulate on world, investigating the same sculptures. While erstwhile clients of the Zhodani, the Avalari are competitive and are motivated to corner the market. They are not hostile, but will engage in questionable practices and are not above monkey-wrenching and other sharp practices. Remember, some Avalari are psionic.
3. As 1, however a very large amphibian predator has migrated into a prized quarry. Usually the sophonts would conduct the appropriate rituals and wait for it to leave. If the off-worlders wish more sculptures, they request the Zhodani deal with the monstrosity more directly. The Zhodani Ambassador will insist on being part of any action against the creature.
4. The sophonts are not popular on New Keento, being neither native or human. They are restricted to this archipelago as a reservation and treated harshly if found elsewhere. Furthermore they are often harassed by sea-born piracy raids. Such as raid will take place while the characters are meeting with them. Raiders will approach on Motor Boats (Book 3) and are equipped spottily with blades, cudgels and a few firearms. While there will be many (3D at least) they are not expecting a fight from their placid victims.
5.The sculptures are actually a psionic focus. Upon investigation by a talented clairvoyant, it will be found the sculpture reduces psionic range cost when conducting clairvoyance or clairaudience (-1 psionic cost). Does Eiliviatstlas know this? Are the sophonts psionic?
6. As 5, there is a team of Imperial Scouts in silent orbit (their ship matches the PC’s in tonnage) taking interest in the players actions on New Keento. They have a Covert Talent as a crew member. They may become convinced the Zhodani has uncovered a new ‘psionic super-weapon’ and will stage a raid to obtain or destroy the sculptures.
The PCs are hired based on their professional qualifications to do an extensive overhaul of a derelict starship. The ship was recovered by a salvage operation and sold at auction. There are no legal irregularities with the sale, the patron is legit. There is a great deal of repair work to be done; the hull is basically sound but many internal systems will have to be rebuilt or replaced. The patron offers Cr 10,000 to each member of the party (referee can offer bonuses of Cr 1000 per skill level above 3) plus a Cr 20,000 bonus to be paid if the ship can pass an Imperial safety inspection within one month. The patron issues the PC’s leader a line of credit with parts suppliers, but will be closely monitoring same for waste and fraud. The PCs can hire human or robotic labor assistants, but they must do the majority of the work themselves.
The referee will have a lot of time-keeping to do with this adventure. Projects have to be recorded for time taken and costs incurred. Assign as many projects as it will take to fill up 30 days.
Each project should have a repair difficulty, time and price, and a replacement difficulty, time and price. Replacement should be less difficult, but more costly. Repairs should be harder but cheaper. Failure on the repair/replacement roll means that the project has to be done again, with the same cost in time and money.
Evaluation of a project to determine whether to repair or replace should take at least six hours.
The clock is ticking, and the PCs will have to sleep sometime. Cutting sleep time to keep working will eventually introduce negative DMs for fatigue. Figure sleep time at [18-END hours per 24 hr cycle)
Each week (or each day) the referee should roll 10+ for a structural fault in the current work area that could collapse or otherwise cause an accident.
Referee must determine the flow of events, but accident damage should not be severe enough to cause fatalities.
The patron will come by for inspection visits from time to time, and will almost always have questions about how much it is all costing.
If the PCs are successful in their overall project, they will be approached by other patrons, seeking to hire them as ship crew, salvage operators or shipyard supervisors. The referee must determine the flow of subsequent events.
1. The Imperial inspector has a change in his availability, suddenly changing the PC’s deadline. It is now several days sooner than originally indicated.
2. A replacement component is unavailable, forcing the PCs to custom build that component to complete the project. Raise the difficulty number and make it take longer.
3. The patron asks for a structural or location change within the ship, forcing the PCs to undo completed work and do it again elsewhere. The PCs can engage the patron in a contest of persuasion to get him to abandon the idea.
4. Specific tools are required in multiple places at once, forcing a negative DM on all parties, or the halting of some projects until others are completed, or the purchase of new tools.
5. Robotic or human labor assistants have reliability or competency issues. A human assistant lied about his technical education and is faking his work. Roll 9+ (DM for INT, skill) to detect the shoddy work or that project has to be restarted.
6. Much to the PC’s surprise, one of the projects needed only to be cleaned, oiled and one wire reattached. This project takes only one hour and costs nothing.
Marquesa Juliana St. James, is known for her beauty and charity work throughout Foreven. She has championed the rights for victims of incurable disease who are shunned by society, and campaigned for legislation addressing the rights of minority beings on predominantly human worlds. She has used her beauty and nobility as carte blanche to forward a number of industries to expand the family fortune, and pay for her personal endeavors. She is well-known, easily recognizable by virtue of the fact that her face is on many ads for many products, as well as public service announcements, political ads, and holo-vid shows (she has starred in a few holo-vid dramas, as well as successfully dabbled in popular music, again using her proceeds to further her causes). She is loved and revered by those she champions and her fan base, but is hated by those who object to her forward thinking and avid anti-crime stance. As of late, she has gone missing. The story of her disappearance pervades all news shows, and there are daily updates. Some of her fans have even organized search groups, from the serious who have pooled money to hire private detectives, to the not so serious who casually put out the word that she is missing when the media has already flooded the sector networks and channels with the story.
The adventurers have just come off of a long hard job on their current location of Dengvin (a lush agro world hacked up into estates of various sizes by wealthy families and nobles who reside as gentlemen farmers). The adventurers are loading their ship on a private Type-E landing pad with spare parts and food fresh from the private farms and ranches run by the locals. The last job the adventurers were on took them to the asteroid fields of Torinsk to track a smuggling cartel which had its origins here on Dengvin. The affair ended in a large fire fight and talking with local security forces as local Baron Gave Hadoc was taken into custody. Hadoc had purchased his nobility through ill-gotten funds by smuggling stolen goods. He is now in the local jail where he awaits trial and sentencing.
As the adventurers replenish the ship they hear shots fired. A young woman in rags and cloak comes staggering from behind some crates calling for help in a weak voice. She staggers towards the adventurers. She claims to be Marquesa Juliana Saint James, and states that she is running for her life, having recently escaped a lockup from Hadoc’s estate, the very man the adventurers helped jail.
She says that Hadoc’s men are pursuing her, and that she needs to get off world and back home to her private estates on Tepenke, or, anyway in the Avalar Consulate. She is bruised, dirty and has grease on her face from hiding in the freight and repair center, and her clothes barely cover her body. She promises a handsome reward if she is brought back to Avalar space.
In the meantime, there are a half-dozen lightly armed men coming in the players direction. The crates are blocking their view, and they do not see the young woman.
Roll 1d6 and consult the table.
1. She is not Marquesa Juliana St. James, but is the daughter of a wealthy CEO. If returned her father will be notified, and the adventurers will be compensated for food, fuel, and other expenses, along with a bonus of 50,000 Cr. But the path will not be easy as Ludoc’s men will pursue, occasionally firing shots, but will break off pursuit once inside Avalar space.
2. She is Marquesa Juliana St. James’ double, Mary Larson, and is being pursued by Hadoc’s men who think she is the real thing. Once the adventurers get to Avalar space the pursuit will heat up. If Mary is wounded she will make it a point of sacrificing herself. Once she dies the pursuers will then leave. The adventurers will then be approached by the real Marquesa Juliana St. James who will thank them and offer them a megacredit each for their troubles.
3. As per result 2, but the Marquesa’s personal huscarles, 30 heavily armed troopers will come in and kill or drive off the attackers. If the encounter is in space, then the Marquesa’s ship will outclass the pursuer’s, with a possible boarding action. The double will be saved, and the adventurer’s awarded a megacredit each, plus compensation for fuel and repairs.
4. The young woman is a synthetic duplicate of Marquesa Juliana St. James. She will pass all medical scans, but in reality she is an artificial construct. She can take damage and shrug it off. Once the adventurers are confronted with the pursuers, she will take a weapon to help fight them off.
5. She is in fact Marquesa Juliana St. James, and has been held by Baron Hadoc for discovering his operations. She managed to escape with the help of her double, and begs for assistance. She explains that she recently gave a tip that helped the Avalar government tip-off the independent worlds to crack down on Baron Hadoc’s smuggling ring, and needs to get back to her family in Avalar space.
6. She is too disheveled to properly identify, and has no identity chip, papers or other verification. If the players take her on they will need to hide her. Hadoc’s men will be relentless, and keep a tail on the players as they make their way to Avalar space.
Patron: Religious leader, Cleric Required Skills: None Required Equipment: Starship with low berth Number of Players: 2-6
Whilst taking a well-earned break at Ovdyo (Foreven 2935), the players are asked by a two men for transport to Udika (Foreven 2934). They are both dressed in long smocks but their clothes are clean and appear new. The taller of the two men introduces himself as Callidan and his colleague as Vernrean. Callidan asks the players that for religious reasons, Vernrean travels in a low berth until their arrival at their destination. Vernrean’s status within their religious order is such that for complex theological reasons, he must not pass through into ‘heaven’ (off world) and be awake until it is his time to die.
Callidan has been hired by Vernrean as a guardian to help with the practicalities of travelling between worlds so that he may spread his ‘message’. The players will be paid handsomely (Cr 15,000) for their trouble.
If the players accept the offer, Callidan will tell the players that Vernrean is a religious visionary and he is travelling to a number of worlds to spread his word of salvation.
1. The job is as described and though the players may not agree with Vernrean’s views, he is harmless enough. As the players arrive at their destination, Vernrean tries to get the players to join his religion. He will however, not be offended if the players refuse and pays them in full Cr 15,000 with his blessing.
2. During the journey to Udika, Vernrean is recognised from news reels as not just a religious leader, but a wanted terrorist. Before the players can act on their discovery, Vernrean and Callidan have armed themselves, hold the players at gunpoint and summon another ship to kidnap the players and take them to the terrorist’s base. The terrorist’s intend to steal the player’s ship for their own and simply ‘dispose’ of the players.
3. Before the players recognise the Vernrean from the news reels, the authorities track the players down and order the players ship to stand to, accusing them of aiding a known felon. Vernrean calls himself a freedom fighter and tells the players that he is fighting against a corporate regime who murdered his family. It’s up to the players to decide whether to hide Vernrean and Callidan, or turn them over to the authorities and convince them they have nothing to do with them. It should be noted that before they left the starport, Callidan hacked the local data ‘net and added the players to the list of known associates/felons.
4. Halfway through the journey, odd things start to happen aboard ship, such as equipment malfunctions and ghostly occurrences such as poltergeist activity, lights flashing and things moving of their own accord. If the players look hard enough, they appear to be the uncontrolled psi-emanations from Vernrean in the low berth. The players must decide if the risk is sufficient to drop them off before their destination or not. If asked, the Callidan will deny anything to do with the occurrences and will appear quite offended. If the players do nothing, the malfunctions and ghosts will become more threatening, risking lives and the ship. If the players try to open the low berth, Callidan will do everything he can to stop the players.
5. Vernrean is actually highly developed Zhodani intelligence gathering android and has acquired a large number of Imperial secrets. It is gradually making its way back to Zhodani space, under the guise of Vernrean. Whilst in the low berth, it will send bursts of data traffic to alert the Zhodani fast courier that has been arranged to pick it up, to let the courier know it is on its way. However during one of these transmissions, the players pick up unusual data traffic and after some analysis, determine that it was coming from Vernrean in the low berth. Just as the players move to confront Vernrean and Callidan, the Zhodani courier appears and will threaten the players to allow Vernrean and Callidan to transfer to the courier. It’s up to the players to stop them. Vernrean and Callidan will do all they can to disrupt the players response.
6. Part way through the journey, Vernrean wakes and is released by Callidan from the low berth. He says that he has had a vision whilst asleep and gives the player’s co-ordinates to go to a supposedly dead region in space and wait. Unknown to the player’s, Vernrean has incredibly powerful psi-abilities and upon arrival at the co-ordinates, activates the ships jump drive, forcing it through a wormhole. The players ship arrives at an uncharted world with an orbiting spacecraft graveyard. Thousands of unidentified spacecraft orbit this stellar backwater, all apparently lifeless and in various states of condition. The players are asked to fly to a specific location and arrive at a starship containing more of the same race as Vernrean. They ask the players to help them repair their ship and assist with getting them back into the Foreven Sector.
The player’s dilemma is if they will help a group of powerful psi-beings back to their space, where they would be a powerful potential threat to the Foreven Sector, or attempt to escape and leave them in isolated space? However, the players are likely to need their help getting back to the Foreven Sector, due to their unknown location in the galaxy and the use of a wormhole to travel this far. In addition, what of the spacecraft graveyard and what secrets and surprises lie within?
Vernrean - as a religious leader/terrorist
Bribery-1 Computer-2 Electronics-2 Engineering-2
Leader-4 Submachine Gun-1 Auto Pistol-1
Callidan - as Vernrean's Associate
Computer-1 Submachine Gun-1 Auto Pistol-1 Jack-o-T-1
As a Zhodani android, Vernrean should be classed as a TL15 pseudo-biological humanoid robot with technology employed sufficient to disguise any mechanical and electronic emanations so that sensors ‘see’ a biological being.
As a psi-being, Vernrean can move objects and disrupt electronics such as controlling ship systems. Specifics are not given here; the guide for the referee is that Vernrean is a member of a sufficiently advanced humanoid race that can control electronics and inanimate objects, using their powers seemingly without any loss of strength. The referee should play Vernrean and other members of his race as powerful beings more powerful than any others that the players have encountered. However, they are still biological beings and hence can be killed.
It’s a sorry departure morning on the players’ starship as they wake to find they have had a program storage crash; they need a new copy of the Jump-2 program. The players can quickly purchase the software from local starport’s software store. The owner of the store and developer, Bruce Siakashvali, contacts the players via the starport or planetary network about 5 minutes after the purchase. Bruce is in a bind and could use the players’ help. He will provide a special update of the software provided they help him. The updated software is unique: it not only computes their own jumps, but can also predicts another ship’s jump destination based on the jumping ship’s exit vector.
Obviously this software is a major boon to the ship, fleet, organization, or government in possession of it.
Various interactions with Bruce and the software are possible:
1. Bruce has been shot and is being chased by pirates, who want to keep the software to themselves. Bruce wants to use his software to camouflage his escape. Cr 2,000 per crew member + fuel and ship expenses.
2. Bruce’s dependent / loved one (as appropriate) is being held by pirates. Bruce hires the players to solve the problem as pirates maneuver to jump out system. Cr 3,000 per crew member + fuel and ship expenses.
3. The players are hired to endorse the software. Bruce and the jump predictor are legitimate – the software works as well as it can. The players’ ship will chase a different ship around the subsector, proving to Bruce, the players, and the crew of the other ship that the jump predictor works. (Suggest the Reidain subsector for this journey.) All expenses paid and the players can make some money with light cargos.
4. As above, but Bruce is a charlatan; the other ship is going on a pre-arranged course or has some abnormal or “undetectable” signaling method. The endorsement has initial value but the players are forever shamed as being involved with “that Bruce Siakashvali’s product.”
5. The players got the wrong product from the online software store – it’s the completely unlocked jump predictor. Bruce wants it back and he is going to track down the players on his own.
6. Bruce’s ex-wife, understanding the value of the software, contacts the players to strongly suggest that they turn over the software to the Avalar government and bring Bruce in for a bounty (which may or may not exist, as appropriate).