Sunday, February 4, 2018

Character's Introduction to Adventure 9 (March 2018) "The Smarargdian Crisis"

You are transporting almost 30 tones of superactinides (your cargo hull is full) mined by Mudville's  newly created mining firm: Moovenvid Metals.  RR (your professor friend from a previous adventure in the Mudville system) is a part owner, so it's not surprising that you got hired to carry a cargo.

Anyway, the cargo is going to a world called Smaragd.  It is not the most interesting world in the world, but they produce huge amounts of mid-level electronics for export, and so the superactinides can be put to good use.  And it is in a part of space you've never been to before.

The adventure starts soon after you come out of jump, when you make contact with system space control.

As (almost) always, the Russel Beckett has some ongoing maintenance issues as you come out of jump space.

Note that you are very low on money at the moment, and Smaragd does not have a good shipyard.  So the plan is to take the money you will make doing the transport, jump to a nearby system with a better shipyard, and get the repairs done:
  • Weapons or Armor: Can not turn on one weapons system.  (This popped up just before coming out of jump, so you might be able to fix it yourself, when you have some time.)
  • Problem on the bridge: Strange vibration can be felt.  Makes people nervous. If not fixed, something else might also break. (You've been looking at this for several weeks, and it looks like you'll need some shipyard sensors to find the problem.
  • Fuel system: Small fuel leak, but it is into the crew part of the ship.  (Can not be fixed in free space.  Needs a shipyard, or maybe work in a planetary atmosphere.)
  • A planetary sensor is also on the fritz, but you are not too worried about that.

Library Data on Smaragd and Morlaic


Smaragd, a medium-to-high-technology Imperial world with a tainted atmosphere.  It is breathable, but traces of chlorine are irritant to human lungs, eyes and soft tissue, and may cause damage with longer exposure. The inhabitants have filters and air locks on their buildings, and wear goggles and filter masks when out of doors. A parliamentary democracy is assumed to be governing the planet for the Imperium; the elected president (“Connat”) gains the Imperial honorary title of Baron for the duration of his term of office. The spectacular emerald sky and sheer mountain ranges shrouded in roiling clouds of all hues of green draw a few tourists from all over the subsector, but the main source of prosperity is the export of mid-tech industrial components to the neighboring planets.

Smaragd was settled by a huge colony ship from a neighboring system that had become gradually uninhabitable during the Long Night. Unfortunately, a stray meteor damaged the ship, forcing it to crash. Most of the colonists survived, but much of the specialized equipment was lost or damaged. The survivors had a hard time of it and would have died out if the native species (see "Morlaic" below) had not helped them out.

The plant-sophonts’ selfless assistance proved to be a boon for the early settlers. As soon as a communication device was developed, the plants helped build shelters and plant fields – one needed only say, “I need assistance”, and they would pitch in. The early settlers relied heavily on the Morlaic to survive.

On modern Smaragd, those Morlaic who live in government-protected reservations are still at TL 1 or 2 and are left in peace; their contemporaries in the human cities are employed in almost every job conceivable that is simple (communication is still limited to basic concepts) and does not require much moving around; they work the conveyor lines in factories, or as domestic servants. No chance of encountering one as a vendor or barista: they have no concept of money and would cheerfully give away the goods to anyone who said they required them.

Still, the current prosperity of Smaragd rests largely on the inexpensive labour of the Morlaic. The humans’ standard of living is fairly high, with little social difference; society is very stable due to everyone’s modest wealth, and the crime rate is so low that policemen go unarmed.


The Morlaic are a pentalateral species (having a five-sided body symmetry) and appear much like a two-metre-tall, somewhat pear-shaped cylinder of tightly furled leaves (much like a rotund palm tree trunk) with a sense-organ bulb on top and five tentacle-leaves branching out from the bulging lower half. They can extract their roots from the earth and move about, but their locomotion is painfully slow.

Morlaic communicate via heat spots on their central stalks.  A translator is an infrared emitter and sensor with interpretative software.

Usually, Morlaic gather in “copses” of between thirty and one hundred individuals, sharing work to overcome their relative lack of mobility. Materials or tools will be passed from hand to hand (or rather from leaf to leaf) until they reach the individual who requested them. This kind of assistance is an automatic instinct that cannot be countered or resisted; a Morlaic will always obey a request. Since all Morlaic work for the good of the copse, there obviously never was a need to develop a counter-instinct. In this rather cooperative way, the Morlaic technology has advanced to TL 2, with basic metallurgy and similar techniques. Their civilisation never developed weapons, but they have devised a series of defensive mechanisms to protect themselves from the more nimble herbivores on the planet, such as barbed fences.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Character's Introduction to Adventure 8 (Feb 2017) "Maria In The Forest Of Zhune"

You are dirtside on the planet Peliir, which is fun to visit, but there is nothing there.  It's mostly forest, lightly populated, and has a conservative religion that is fully integrated into the government, and hates change, newness, and technology.

The good news is that there is that Felton has a contact there.  This is a merchant-broker who Felton knew decades ago.  Actually, he was friends with both Dominic Vale and his wife, Abeni.  You just sold your cargo for a good profit, and have a couple of leads on a good outbound cargos, when Dominic calls you up unexpectedly, and asks you to meet him over at his office right now.  Felton can tell something has happened.

Here is some information from the "Adventurer's Guide To The Universe":

Adventurers visiting the planet will note the starport is located in a region of undeveloped wilderness far from the centers of civilization; there is only a small startown, connected by a railway link that carries goods back to civilized areas.  This reflects the wishes of the local regime, which considers most high technologies to be decadent and socially destabilizing. Although the world is CR 3 or Law Level 5 for weapons, it is CR 4 or Law Level 8 for drugs, computers, gravitics, robotics, and other "destabilizing" technology.

On this slowly rotating world, each day or night lasts for 97 hours. 

Aircraft, including air/rafts and grav belts are prohibited. All TL7+ drugs except basic medical drugs are also prohibited, as is armor heavier than jack or mesh.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Character's Introduction to Adventure 7 (Nov 2015) "Mudville Outer Orbit"

Months ago, you found the following message waiting for you at a spaceport you were passing through:

If you still have a ship, and are in the Mudville region, please drop by! Big scientific discovery awaits, and lucrative cargo, and maybe ongoing business. Come by anytime. Best.
– Prof. "RR" Rutt, Moovenvid Agricultural and Technical College

RR is an old friend of CheapLisa (one or two of the rest of you may know him also, if you want). None of you have seen him in decades, but now you realize that Mudville system (real name: Moovenvid) is just two Jump-2s from a place you were planning to visit anyway, so it seems like a good time to visit an old friend.

As you research the system (some details are below) you realize that RR might have fallen on hard times.  You don't quite understand what he would be doing in such an out of the way place.

There is not much on Mudville in the "Adventurer's Guide To The Galaxy":

Officially known as Moovenvid, but commonly called “Mudville”, this system is lower tech than it's neighbors, harder to get to, lower population, and generally more backward. 
  • 5 million population (including about 500,000 Chirpers).
  • About 70% swamp, with frozen wetland and permafrost near the poles.
  • Part time republic. (Light gun regulations, but social control on carrying weapons.)
  • Light on laws in general.
The inner Mudville system consists of 2 gas giants, 2 earth like planets, and a ring. The outer most earth like planet is squarely in the habitable zone, and is the only permanently inhabited planet in the system. This is Mudville Prime and is described last.

M-1 is a large "super Jupiter", who's atmosphere is heated by the sun
The material boiling off of M-1 forms a ring (actually more of a spiral) around the sun. The sun consumes this ring so it is not growing.
M-2 is a Neptune like small gas giant.
M-3 is a rock with a light, highly acidic atmosphere, and no life.
M-4 is Mudville Prime.
M-5 is an asteroid belt, with a small number of relatively large asteroids.

Finally, at the outer edge of the Mudville system is a large belt of stony and icy chunks: asteroids and small planet like bodies. The larger bodies tend to fall into three groups:

Mudville Outer Type 1: Rocky.
Mudville Outer Type 2: Rocky with Nitrogen based volatiles.
Mudville Outer Type 3: Rocky and icy.

There may be other types as well, but they are much more rare and have not been studied.

Mudville Prime

The most unusual feature about Mudville is that it's maximum hydrostatic variance is +/- 50 meters (meaning the max elevation above water level is 50 meters and the deepest water is 50 meters deep, as measured from a neutral tide).

A year is 58 weeks long, and a day is 25.25 hours long.

Mudville is all swamp, except near the poles, where there is permafrost. There is a slight solar tide, which makes the water level rise and fall in daily and yearly cycles. Higher elevations are drier, and used for building sites and agricultural fields. There is very little seasonal weather variation, but the seasons do have a large impact on the water table. High/low seasons alternate with stable seasons.

Mudville government is a representative democracy similar to the American colonial period. Politicians work part time, generally for two or three months per year. There are no serious political conflicts. Elected officials represent their districts, as opposed to representing a political party (there are no political parties). Chirpers are officially full citizens, but live segregated, marginalized lives.

Law levels are relatively low, but social controls are relatively high. For example, gun ownership is lightly regulated and guns can be carried anywhere, but the social stigma of walking around armed is such that no one does (and the adventurers will standout and be treated badly if they do). Driving and drinking ages are much lower than other planets, but barkeeps will cut off people of any age who are drinking too much, and teenagers rarely drive on public roads.

There are no large cities, and only two medium small cities (about 300,000 each). One is the capital (where the spaceport is), and the other is on a deepwater channel in the middle of a large, relatively elevated area, where crops are grown. Other towns are small trading centers of between 10,000 and 50,000. Total urban population is a million. Chirpers are almost all rural, although there is one chirper "city" of about 20,000.

Mudville is almost self sufficient (at it's lower tech level). The vast majority of the equipment used on the planet can be repaired locally. Much of it is manufactured on planet. Even those few technical items that must be imported, can be fully repaired and refurbished, locally. Transportation of heavy cargo and bulk foodstuffs is done on a small network of "deep water" rivers and a few canals or dredged channels. Most other transport is done via air raft or air boat. The economy is largely agricultural, together with the industry required to support farming and processing of food.

Mudville had no higher forms of life, but an abundance of plants that grow semi emerged and amphibious animals. Additionally, many swamp crops and edible amphibians have been imported for agricultural purposes. Plants and animals from three dozen different home worlds are raised here. The only common earth lifeforms farmed here are rice, tilapia, and crawfish.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

On the Mend, THE CARRIS LOG, Volume 4

We were doing a favor for Carrie O’Malley, and we encountered some tough pirates. I am now fairly sure that I won’t be joining the Space Marines any time soon! I don’t remember much of what occurred, but I really got banged up in this one. I am still recovering from the thrashing I took. I guess I’m pretty lucky to be alive, but I don’t feel so lucky.  
I’ve been studying my mechanics manuals with the intention of improving my repair skills, but those books are very dry. I found myself needing a little fun, so I met up with my pal, Hannah Devi, and we hit a few clubs. I can’t do “the Worm” yet,
but I managed to bust a few moves. It was great to see Hannah again. She likes my new hair color. She has been doing a lot of modeling and working hard, so she was also glad to be able to get out for the night. It was terrific seeing her again.  

What’s next for the Bucket? Will our captain ever return? Can Sally keep it together for another adventure? Tune in next time for the possible answers!   

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Character's Introduction to Adventure 6 (Feb 2014) "Homecoming"

A long term friend of one of the characters has passed away.  By pure chance the Rusty Buckett happened to be in-system when it happened.  But was in dry dock for repairs. So the characters are escorting the body to the friend's homeworld for burial, but on a commercial liner.  The homeworld is Alell, which is a nice place, although a little wild and rugged (see below).  However, Alell is located in a semi-dictatorship with delusions of grandeur.   (Putin's Russia is a good mental model for this.) Anyway, that's not likely to be a problem for you.  You just need to deliver the body, attend the funeral, and listen to the will (partly in the unlikely event that you got something, and partly just to be polite).

This adventure is set on Alell

On Alell, ferocity and beauty are inextricably entwined. The jungles shimmer a thousand shades
of red and gold, but touch the wrong delicate frond with bare skin and the poison stinger will lash
out faster than the eye can follow. The Alellian whisperhawk is beautiful even as it stoops on its
prey from the green clouds. Even the sky of Alell is perilous; the shimmering auroras that stream
across the heavens are caused by bursts of radiation from the primary star.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bucket write up from winter mini-con 2013

Felton is now the captain the Russel Bucket. He faces his first problem. The fuel scoops are broken at the moment. The Bucket's crew is fulfilling a week of R&R at Chance, a planetoid about the size of Earths moon, the only planet around a red dwarf star.

Some more background information. Chance is a jump-2 to the two nearby star systems, Roskilde and Fairfax. Chance is a way station with casinos, a consortium of casinos. The laws of Chance are basic: It is ran by syndicates and “don't mess with the tourists”.

Carrie O'Malley is captain Felton's good friend who runs the Razz casino. None of the games are automated, so it is really “old school” gambling. There is no gas giant in the Chance system, so fuel is piped into any star ships requiring it. Carrie sends a “security thug”, Mikail Ambrose to talk to Felton. “Carrie would like word with you.” Felton agrees. All of the crew get on an elevator with the exception of Carris who remains in the casino gambling. We know the exclusive area in the casino are the bottom floors. Mikail presses the bottom most sensor and enters a code. We are now in Carries office. There are hollow screens in all directions. It looks like a view of a city.

Carrie now starts. “There is an overdue ship. I want to hire you to find our missing ship. I will provide you with extra R&R time on Chance when you return. I will provide fuel vouchers for two ships to Roskilde and back. The ship that is overdue is a whale ship, in many ways similar to the Bucket, our older manta class star ship. Bruno Mageson is our lost customer. He comes here to gamble, but never under his real name. His home portal is in the Fairfax system. His ships real name is the “Royal Flush”, but for this run it is named “Harrahs Will” and is home-ported to the Megard system. On Roskilde, Brunos day job is working for the Enlightened One, but the most recent Enlightened One has passed away on Roskilde. The reason for this ruse, is that Bruno is addicted to gambling. And as a holy-man, he should not be. But Bruno Mageson is in the running to be the new Enlightened One. If his gambling habits were exposed, he would no longer be in the running. Carrie asks that Harrahs Will and crew be brought back. Bruno can go where he wants to, but find out what happened and report back to me. The Harrahs Will was headed to the Roskilde system. Now some of the crew members on the Bucket have friends in the Roskilde system. Lilly knows Frank Calder. Skins is friends with a coroner, Rick Styles. Lisa knows Pierre Kasimo, from college, who is now a cook for a restaurant, The Tree Of Life, at the Rioskilde Star-port. The restaurant is known for “true Rioskillian flavors”. The Bucket crew also is given as a contact, the medical examiner on Jensen, the largest city on the primary planet in the Roskilde system. We try to find out how many crew members are on Harrahs Will. We do know they are identified by eye-scan. And we know that Bruno has two armed guards.

[Game masters note: there is about a 1 in 1000 chance of a miss-jump using unrefined fuel, there is about a 1 in 10000 chance using refined fuel.] There is a Razz office on Roskilde. Carrie gives us an extra 10K credits for bribes, if we need it. Any left is to be returned. The government of Roskilde is a theocracy and ran by a religious organization with the belief system something like “New Age” but with a hierarchy like the Roman Catholic Church.

Before departing, Felton initiates a surprise jump drill. Lisa is greatly bothered by an empty cargo hold, (except for a some wine left over from last run).

BWOPs are loading the Bucket with necessary supplies (including a still for Nobb). (Game-masters note: BWOPs are a salamander like intelligent creatures that like wet climates. They are the perfect rules lawyers and excel at bureaucracy). The Bucket makes it through outbound traffic control and jumps.

We arrive at Roskilde. There are four gas giants and two asteroid fields with one close to the star. Roskilde itself has a thicker than earth atmosphere, with highlands supporting a sustainable atmosphere. The planet is on the cold side with the average temperature at the equator at 70F. Seventy nine percent of the planet is covered by water. Jensen is a huge, dense star-base orbiting Roskilde, supporting eight million people.

More notes on the government: The “enlightened one” can change it at will, so the political economy is not predictable, it changes as directions change. Lilly is able to contact the person she knows, Frank Calder before docking. Now on scanners we detect a 2000 ton revenue cutter. First comes the 300 CR fee for using a slip at the star port. “Be careful docking, pretend that you are at the dentist.” We are going to be inspected. Lisa to Felton: “Get everyone in line, do your thing.” Lisa makes a joke about telling them we have a cargo bay full of “invisible air” ... Carris: “Lisa, these guys really look like they can take a joke.” All goes well with inspection until they guards get to Skins medical area. They start going through all the drugs. There is one locked container. “We need to check this for health and safety.” (I was thinking, “these are not the drugs you are looking for, you can go about your business …). Skins speaks up, “its private.” “Not on this planet.” The locked container is eventually opened and it contains uppers and downers. Note: Skins often gives Sally stims, Sally even has a injector in her space suit. It turns out that in addition to the docking fee, we must pay 700 CR in fines for contraband. The landing bay we are in holds ships up to 2000 tons. Sallie scans ships and people near us and then tries to get records of inbound and outbound ships from the star ship computing system.

Lilly rendezvous with Frank Calder at a local watering hole called Brubecks. Lilly asks Frank about the candidates for election as the new “enlightened one”. He tells her, there are only three major candidates, Anden Whitney, Bruno Maggeson and Douglas Hodgeman. There are press conferences every day, but Maggeson hasn't been there for a while.” He continues “The candidates are supposed to present last words in two days. Whitney has the skeleton in the closet, his son committed murder and was executed.”

We discover that Harrahs Will arrived nine days ago and left after only five hours. We now discover that the ship was involved in a mis-jump after reading a report sent the registered home port. Sally strolls up and Frank looks at Lily and asks “Is this guy OK?” Sally acts nonchalant. We also know that the Harrahs Will only jumped one parsec. We also know it had a flight plan to jump to the Chance system.

Now Felton is at the Captains Guild on the Roskilde star port. He talks to the data reference librarian and asks about “Harrahs Will”. “Oh yeah, there was a problem with that ship.” No search and rescue mission has been launched by the Roskilde Navy, since this is now a trans-system issue. The “Mad Dog Bell”, commanded by Captain Peal, was hired to search for the missing ship. Felton convinces the guild to allow two non-captains to visit the guild, as to examine the data. Sally and Lilly gain entrance and examine the data. The other crew members remain on the ship after the rendezvous at Brubecks. The data analysis shows power spike and a massive malfunction within in a twelve minute time-frame of when the Harrahs Will jumped.

The possibility of a fuel bladder is explored, but they are prohibitively expensive. Felton makes a donation to the Captains Guild. We make arrangements to get the fuel scooper repaired in three weeks at this star port.

The next morning, the Mad Dog jumps back into the Roskilde system. Felton makes a captain-to-captain inquiry of where they have already looked. We get a list of where they have already been. There is another group looking for the ship by a group called the Down and Dirty with a ship, a 300 ton dust runner, called the EasyMoney.

A much vaunted QandA session commences on Roskilde. Of the four leading candidates, all three appear except Bruno … “I'm sure Maggeson has a proper explanation.” Then next a local news-feed reports two off worlders found dead outside the Lightening Bolt Club.

At this point the crew of the Buckett decides to jump to the “0305” system. It is a system without a star or star-port. While in hyperspace we discover that the coolant and water system is compromised. Were we sabotaged? Careful investigation (and some dice rolling), we think its just the Bucket failing. The effect is no drinkable water (coolant and water mixed together). Sally modified the broken system successfully, but the entire system has to be flushed. We do have emergency water rations for the crew members if we find them and we have wine.

The Bucket makes it to the 0305 system and easily finds a cold ship. The beacon is not on, and the communication gear is not on, but it is the Harrahs Will. We come close and scan. There are eight life signs. The are no indications of ship-to-ship combat. Next there is a debate on whether to use a shuttle to board the ship or direct docking using a tube. The tube it is. And it is pressurized. (Also, at this point Ben Redden was also playing the computer in addition to Nobb Toller and each time the Bucket changes course, he would say “recalculating”).

The first airlock is opened and then the second door. Shots are fired and there is swearing at the other side of the cabin. 'Harrahs crew, we are your rescue crew. We are working for Carrie O'malley.” “Oh, why didn't you say so ...”

It's a trap. Carris is captured. A fire fight insues. I forgot how deadly combat can be in GURPs Traveller. You can only take one or two hits. It does go fast. It turns out that most of the crew has been killed by mercs, and that is why the Harrahs Will mis-jumped. The mercs are with the “Down and Dirty”. Bruno and Carris using a bottle of wine as a weapon, are seriously wounded battling a merc hand-to-hand with a gun. If it had not been for Nobb, I think this would have been a TPK. Lilly's camouflage technique was also a deciding factor. Only three of the Bucket crew members are left standing, the others in sick bay. Lisa is now the acting captain. That leaves Skins and Sally. One merc is taken prisoner, with the promise that he will be transported to the Fairfax system and is tranquilized by Skins. With only Bruno and two crew members left alive, we have enough water. The Easy Money jumps into the system, and Lisa makes a command decision not to fight. She with Sally, jump to Chance.

At Chance we are told the the merc will be executed for murdering the navigator
of the Harrahs Will. “We will keep our promise, send his ashes to the Fairfax system.” It turns out the Harrahs Will went hyperspace, right in the middle of a fire-fight. Bruno does return to the Roskilde system. We take him, but he doesn't know who set all this up. When returning to Roskilde, the coroner informs us that the two dead men match the Harrahs Will crew members. The mercs used the two dead mean to generate “skin jobs” and infiltrate the crew and start the fire-fight during jump. There is enough controversy associated with Anden, though Bruno doesn't win, Hodgeman becomes the next “enlightened one”.

Last quote from the games end: “We need to fix the scoop on this ship and find