An Adventure for Classic Traveller
The characters have a layover on Azimuth (D459313 4 S), the only inhabited planet in an unforgiving system. The planet is home to a rich coral reef that is ecologically vulnerable, and so the world is normally an amber zone, limiting all visitors. The characters awaken to discover they are unable to depart because the local scout base has declared the system a red zone, due to environmental hazard.
Azimuth, a low-tech, low-pop world, has a single volcanic landmass in the southern hemisphere. Two river systems (Gonville and Caius) flow from its glacial peak, Mount Killjoy. The Imperium has licensed the mangrove swamps at the mouth of Caius to Terragon Extraction LLC. The oceans are shallow and swimmable, and have abundant fish with long, streamer-like fins.
At the other river mouth, Gonville, the starport lies in a second, narrow volcanic crater, and is now not authorizing departures, since all staff are redeployed to Caius for emergency services. The system’s scout base is a 2000-ton hull that has been converted into an oceangoing vessel, currently 80km offshore following a pod of aquatic megafauna.
With only three occupied locations, none of which have runway space, and lacking the ability to maintain any spacefaring vessel, most onworld travel on Azimuth is accomplished by a single airship, Lester’s Hope
, owned by the scout base, and piloted by Dana Ferris, an independent contractor.
- Captain Dana Ferris. 34 years. 6B9765. Aircraft-2, Carousing-3, Snub Pistol-1, Demolitions-1.
The airship makes its daily journey to or from Caius, interrupted every fifth day with a supply trip to the scout base. Enquiries at the starport will yield one or two of the following rumours (1-4 are true):
- Terragon’s drilling has released a geyser of natural gas, now floating on the water surface, which has caught fire. It is a burning river.
- Exceptions to the interdiction are being made for ships rescuing endangered species.
- There’s a vargr scout who can get you anything you need, for a price.
- Bootleggers have hidden fan boats along the coastline, which can take you to the reef and back.
- The scouts want the system interdicted at the request of the Imperial legate, who is giving orders at the Terragon camp. (Truth: the scouts want to avoid further Imperial notice.)
- Retired scouts who identify themselves are forced to work for Terragon against their will. (Truth: Scouts are being asked to help, either as firefighters or rescuers, but are not compelled.)
Retired scouts will be told rumour 1 by the scout base, and can learn rumour 2 there.
Firefighting is dangerous, and protects Terragon’s investment. Any streamlined vessel can scoop ocean water into its tanks to drop on the fire. This can reduce the spread, but the river will continue to burn until the well is capped. Terragon is using two 50-ton cutters owned by Terragon to fight the fire, plus two cutters: one the surface-to-orbit shuttle from the port and another seconded from a far trader in orbit.
Rescuers will be told about an endangered species of crocodile native to the Caius river-mouth, whose jaws can crack hull plating. In addition to a departure permit, crews will be paid 25kcr for each female relocated to Carradoc, and 90kcr for each male.
Players will need to address two immediate issues, which can happen in either order.
1. Hunting and capturing a salt-water crocodile
. Because the estuary is on fire and the only other river is the starport, the scouts will give dispensation to any ship with full cargo capacity to transport crocodiles to Carradoc, which is J-2 away.
: For each hour of searching, the party rolls 11+ to find a bask of crocodiles, with DM + the highest of Hunting, Recon, and Survival. Basks consist of one male and 1d6 females. The party will be in the burning mangrove estuary, and will need to mitigate the effect of the flames.
: Crocodiles must be kept alive; they can be rendered unconscious through combat or through tranquillizers.
Males: 6 m (20’, 1200 kg).....
A3 F6 S2
Females: 3m (10’, 150 kg)))...............
A6 F6 S2
: Captured crocidiles can be brought back to the port by airship, or another means players devise. Males require 20 tons cargo space, females 7 tons. Their habitat must include salt water and a dry place to rest. Crocodiles can be kept in spaces up to 20% smaller than the desired cargo capacity, with a -1 to survival roll, cumulative per week (so females could be kept in an adapted stateroom, for example, if players want to try to make a scout ship work). Assuming their habitat is heated and cleaned and they are fed, creatures will survive a week in space on 6+.
There is a naturalist at the port, who will accompany any sincere rescue attempt, if invited, to ensure the wellbeing of animals.
- Quaver Solomon. 30 years. 5748B9. Blade-1, Computer-2, Air/Raft-1.
If Solomon is monitoring the animals, gain +4 DM on survival roll.
2. Captain Ferris is has stolen
, disrupting all rescue efforts and isolating the Terragon base. She is taking it to an (uncrewed) Animal Class Safari Ship parked on the coral reef approximately 300 km offshore, with the intention of escaping the quarantine. She will invite the PCs to come with her, or be willing to use theirs (if they have a better-armed vessel capable of J-2). If a crocodile has been captured and sedated, the offer comes during its transport, as it dangles from the airship. Getting past the blockade with Ferris will be unlawful, but will be permitted by the SDBs if animals are being rescued.
Dana is by nature fun and flirty, and will be continually delightful with the characters. She is also fleeing a disfunctional relationship with the System Manager for Terragon, Alice Tomoe-Laka, whose heart
she Dana stolen
, using the environmental disaster as a cover.
- Alice Tomoe-Laka. 42 years. 767AA8. Admin-4, Hunting-1, Electronic-1, Legal-2, Bribery-1.
Tomoe-Laka wants to prevent Dana’s disappearance. The safari ship is in fact hers, and Alice is not as controlling and abusive as Captain Ferris will imply.
Dana does not have a thought-through plan for escape. She hopes that if she can achieve orbit, she will be allowed through if she is carrying a crocodile, since Alice Tamoe-Laka will be stranded at Caius and otherwise distracted. Dana will latch onto any character who possess the ability to pilot the ship, and do her best to enlist their aid.
Complications on Azimuth
Once in orbit
- The several hundred occupants of the Caius work camp are restless, and when the airship doesn’t show up on schedule, unrest begins to foment. Terragon will pay them to maintain a perimeter (filling sandbags, digging firebreaks) but the absence of supplies will begin to be felt in five days.
- The comms officer at the scout base is a vargr who believes that moments of crisis provide opportunity for personal advancement. ............................................................................................................................................. .......Aez-ghah’ar. 26 years. 677657. Electronics-2, Pilot-1, Laser rifle-1. ............................................................. He is holding information, releasing it only when asked directly unless he feels it serves him personally. He is also looking to frame anyone of importance he can, so he can “help them escape their trouble.” Aez-ghah’ar is also the one who sends authorization codes for all ship departures, and he can be bribed for a permit. These foolish machinations are unnoticed by his superiors, who are, at heart, researchers who joined the scout exploration branch because they were more interested in exotic coral and giant squids.
- If the players have a small craft (a ship’s boat, pinnace, or cutter), it will be requisitioned to fight the fire. This risks stranding the players on the surface.
If the characters have a streamlined ship, or are travelling on the safari ship, they can access orbit legally if performing a rescue. If their ship is not streamlined, a ship’s boat would normally ferry them to orbit, but it is fighting the ongoing fire.
The system is patrolled by two 400-ton system defense boats, now in close orbit maintaining the red zone. A third SDB is at the Azimuth moon. They will attack and pursue anyone breaking quarantine, on- or off-world.
Time in jump can lead to a number of complications.
- A crocodile is having seizures since entering jump space. Medic-2 is required to treat effectively.
- The crocodile(s) are continually smashing against the walls of the habitat, thump thump thump, which is springing a leak.
- The air circulation system begins to smell of rotting fish.
- The crocodiles need a stronger heat source in their habitat, so they can bask in (artificial) sunlight.
- Quaver Solomon (if present) seems unable to keep his possessions in his stateroom, and personal effects, biological samples, etc., are to be found throughout the ship.
- The water in the habitat needs to be replaced. It can be manufactured out of shipboard fuel in the L-Hydrogen tanks.
Carradoc (B-764799 A NG) is J-2 away, and has an appropriate river-mouth system where the crocodiles can be relocated. Carradoc at one point had a moon, before Imperial occupation. What remains is a collapsing planetary ring system, which creates the dazzling streaks for which the skies of Carradoc are justly famous.
The Carradoc highport is commanded by Marchioness Louisa D’Alessio. Though a civilian, she holds a courtesy appointment with the subsector navy and runs the port with a cruel efficiency.
- Marchioness D’Alessio. 62 years. 535ACD. Admin-2, Leader-3, Interrogtion-3, Computer-1, Ship’s Boat-1, Vacc-1.
She is also an amateur archaeologist, and has discovered evidence of previous, non-human habitation on Carradoc. She believes it was a continent-wide hunter-gatherer society, which carved totems out of the ribs of a large ruminant, inscribed with rich linework and inked like scrimshaw. These depict a wide variety of mythic narratives. In her office she has a ruminant skull and an alarming totem
which depicts some kind of interspecies contact that shows humans attacking and killing the native species. The totem, taken from the proposed release site, also shows an explosion in the sky. She fears the crocodile would quickly become the apex predator, a threat not only to native species but also to her planned excavations. She is thus a reluctant overlord
, legally bound to honour the scout contract, but obstructive at every turn.
Complications at Carradoc
- Moon debris means there is always an impending asteroid which risks shutting down the high port: heat radiators are retracted and so the high port becomes significantly warmer, and all traffic stops. It is an ongoing hazard, and the Marchioness has worked out that the Imperium is responsible. That human destruction of the moon led to social collapse on the surface, and the destruction (genocide) of the previous inhabitants. If they work this out, what the characters do with this information is up to them.
- Two days’ after arrival, a heartbroken Alice Tamoe-Laka arrives in pursuit of Dana Ferris. She has left the system under the pretext of fabricating an effective cap for the geyser, but on arrival seeks to detain the ship on the grounds of kidnapping her lover.
- The totems themselves have immense value to collectors or museums, if the characters are willing to trade in illegally exported antiquities. Once the Marchioness’s claim is properly documented, she will control all archaeological activity on the surface by virtue of her position.
- News of the fire on Azimuth is feeding ever-exaggerated rumours on Carradoc. Some are raising funds to help; some are selling or shorting Terragon stock; others seek members for a volunteer help brigade, rescuing people or wildlife more systematically.
Whatever the players decide to do, on Azimuth the river will continue to burn for months to come, and the skies of Carradoc will always blaze with lunar debris.