Cyber Vargr

The crew of It’s A Sex Thing continues their Traveller adventures in the Islands, following up on the last few threads whilst I prepare to move them onto the Deepnight Revelation campaign. I now have the next campaign book for it, so I’m starting to plot out how I’ll need to modify it so that they can get involved.

One of the aspects of Traveller that is quite unique in the games that I’ve run, is travel and communication times. It takes a week to travel X parsecs (normally 2 or 3), and communication travels at the speed of starships, so getting messages from one place to another takes real time.

Even in fantasy games like D&D or Ars Magica, things aren’t quite so strict. How fast someone can ride a horse or travel in a ship can be quite variable, and there’s always teleportation or other magic which can explain how news got from one place to another so quickly. In Traveller, a jump takes 7 days, give or take a few hours, and there’s no way away that.

So working out when things happen, and when people can respond to those things can be challenging. In order to kick off the Deepnight Revelations campaign, and get the players involved in it, I need to have an idea of when information gets back to HQ, provide some time for deliberations and then time for the message to get back. There’s also some big events coming up in the Traveller background (sometime within the following year), so I need to figure out when news of that will reach the crew.

Zuflucht to New Colchis
Zuflucht to New Colchis

The Travellers ended the previous session at Zuflucht, a law level 0 world on the edge of the Islands. They were naturally concerned about being safe here, though it’s probably safer than the high law level world of New Colchis that they’re heading to. Dr Laura Matthews, the representative of Deepnight Exploration they had been working with, tells them that they should hopefully be hearing from head office, since she’s passed on the information about the finding of the Deepnight Endeavour and spoken highly of the crew’s role in that. She also passed on some scientific papers about the Anundarluu as reading material.

Since they don’t want to spend too long at Zuflucht, and also want to try to get to the Xenoarchaeology conference at New Colchis, they sort out some cargo and passengers (or, get their NPC Madeleine to do it), and get ready to leave after a few days. It’s enough time for them to pick up some rumours and news from the world though:

  • A small expedition, led by the naval support vessel Varikuur and a couple of supply ships, is heading out towards the rimward end of the Great Rift. They passed through Tobia recently, and it is claimed that they are destined for Icognita Citerior, half a dozen sectors towards the near side of yonder as part of some long range expedition.
  • There is a hunt for a serial killer in the southern territory of Morgania. He has been declared an Outlaw, and several groups are televising their efforts to hunt him down and kill him.
  • The jump tender Saint Charles, owned by the Amondiage based Trans Rift Corporation, has suffered an engine malfunction and is currently stuck on the Spinward side at Cerebin. It isn’t known how long it will be before it will be able to make the journey into the Islands.

Two of these rumours were setups for later on – one to remind players that Jump Tenders were possibly an option for getting across the Rift quickly, the other a reference to the upcoming Deepnight campaign.

So they leave Zuflucht on 1106-200, with a cargo hold full of biochemicals and fuel since they need to make two jumps to Serendip Belt. There was some discussion about whether to go via Wellington, but there is bugger all at Wellington, so the more profitable route was going back via Serendip Belt. The passengers they take on board behave themselves, though they’re noisy for much of the trip, having loud conversations in the ship’s lounge. They arrive at Serendip Belt on 1106-215, where they hear the preliminary adverts for the documentary on the rescue of the Deepnight Endeavour and its crew, and also a holovid interview by the journalist Clara Lang called “Interview with a Terrorist”.

Coming up with unique rumours for each place on the fly is tricky, so I’ve written up a chart of them which players can just roll on.

  • A Solomani group is trying to perform a survey of the Islands, collecting the DNA of as many people as possible to get an idea of how ‘pure’ their ancestry is. They have been hitting regulatory hurdles which they claim are being put in place due to Imperium interference.
  • An ancient relic from old Terra, a Zweihänder said to have been owned by the hero Grote Pier, has been stolen from the Museum of Old Terra on Neubayern. A reward of Cr50,000 has been raised for anyone you can retrieve it, though it will probably sell for more on the black market.
  • A couple getting off a ship after being in cold sleep at Sturgeon’s Law when psychotic and started attacking random people. They killed someone and injured several more before they were shot and killed. It is believed that they picked up some cheap cybertech at New Colchis, and that it malfunctioned during low passage.

They don’t stay at Serendip for too long, and just stock up on freight and some passengers for the two jump trip to New Colchis. They arrive at New Colchis on 1106-232, coming out of jump outside the star systems jump mask and flying in to the star port. Shinzaro allows space traffic control to remote pilot their ship through the busy shipping lanes and convoluted habitats and industrial stations to their docking bay.

Zanobia manages to get a shuttle down to the planet to catch the last day of the conference, and presents a quick summary of what they found in the Aslan base, leaving out all the details about its link to New Colchis and the actual Aslan clan involved. She gets hit with a lot of advertising on the way down, and notices the high degree of surveillance (or sousveillance) present on the world.

In my head, New Colchis is a sort of cyberpunk world. It has a strong law level – but the law level in Traveller tends to be focused on what weapons are allowed more than anything else. So my version of the world has strong laws against use of weapons and criticism of the government, but otherwise has very lax regulations for commerce and industry along with a highly capitalist society with no social safety nets. It’s TL is high enough for most cybernetics equipment as well (though combat implants are outlawed – not that it means they aren’t available). I really do like to try and make the worlds unique, or at least have some memorable aspect to them which players will remember, rather than simply “it’s a class A starport with high tech”.

So for buying cybernetics over the counter for personal use, there’s a 10% discount on anything up to TL 12, and even TL 13 cyberware is available at full cost. A bigger discount is available if PCs are willing to find a back street vendor, but with an increasing chance of there being something wrong with it (the rumour that came up was random, but entirely appropriate for the circumstances). Shinzaro decided that she wanted some cyberware to boost her skills, so we took a look at what equipment was available. I really should have spent some time before hand reading up on the cyberware rules, but I think we got it mostly right, and Cr300,000 later she will have an enhanced body and some skill wafers in her brain, though it will probably take a week to have her physical implants done.

Since it’s Traveller, and not Cyberpunk or Eclipse Phase, I did tell the players that it was highly unlikely that any cyber implants would cause problems unless they went for the really cheap stuff. I don’t want to hit them later with a penalty of getting their brain hacked unless there’s a really good reason for it (I’m talking major plot point rather than it just happening with no warning).

On 1106-233, the It’s A Sex Thing receives a mail from Deepnight Exploration inviting them to their HQ at Egurgadi (Gushemege, 0126) to help with an exploration of the Anundarluu. I did give them a date of the end of the year, but it was pointed out that this would be really tricky to make, so I’m going to have to re-think that. I think I calculated things from the current date when I was planning this, rather than from the date it would be by the time they got the message. They also have the Aslan investigation to sort out, and I don’t want to force them to skip that.

I have looked at the economics of the Jump Tenders, and though it works out to be expensive if the Tender is to make any profit shuttling ships around, nothing stops the tendered vessels from also picking up trade themselves and making large profits for jump-4 trips. So this may also be an option for them if they want to get to Egurgadi quickly. It’s about 14 weeks assuming they don’t take any time to rest or even refuel.

But first, they need to do some exploration on New Colchis.

Samuel Penn

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