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