Dark Century Campaign - Section I

By: Brendan O'Donovan (Brendan@odonovan.demon.co.uk)
Adventure Seed

Well, the TML seems to be working now, so I'll risk posting this. I hope everything's sorted out again because the second part of this which I'll post next week won't make so much sense without it.

The Reformation Coalition has moved on a fair way since I wrote this adventure. You may need to find some new frontier worlds to relocate the adventure to, but it fits fairly flexibly into any pre Regency contact time period.

This is a renovation and fleshing out of the first adventure seed I ever posted, which was really only the introduction to a campaign. The adventure centres around the Dark Century II which I posted a few weeks back, I'm afraid I'll have to rely on someone who gets digest mail to post the digest number that the design appeared in. Anyway, here goes with the first of six weekly (maybe, depends how much spare time I get) parts.

The adventure starts on Aubaine/Aubaine 0738. The exact date is not important but it should generally be early in the life of the Reformation Coalition, when they are still desperate for any ships they are offered. The adventure is suitable for any number of players, as the encounters can be scaled to match the size and talent of any party.

Referee's Background: Austin Farlos is an extremely wealthy and greedy man. For many years, he was a member of the crew of a far trader, drifting from system to system, trying to make ends meet. Then, one day, while his fellow crewmembers were running sensor checks at New Martham/Thoezennt 0221, prior to jumping out of the system, an anomalous densitometer reading from a planetoid in the asteroid belt was recorded. The ship's launch was dispatched to investigate and a heavily damaged naval facility was discovered. On closer inspection, large warehouses of starship components were discovered undamaged. Virus had been unable to infect these stores, as sensor an comms antennas had been destroyed in the attack which led to the base's abandonment. The ship returned to Coalition space to stake a finder's claim on the cache. Back on Aubaine, Austin arranged for the other crew members to meet with a tragic and fatal grav vehicle accident (he believed), leaving him the sole recipient of a claim worth hundreds of megacredits. Fuelled by an insatiable greed and sense of ambition, Austin decided to invest his money in a venture calculated to bring returns tens of times greater than any stock deal. His time in the wilds provided inspiration, he had seen how small numbers of high tech troops could allow a TED to rule, so he reasoned that others would pay well for the services of high tech mercenaries to preserve or disrupt the status quo. This left him with one further problem, his mercenaries would need a starship for support and transport, but the only ones available were battered relic ships, as the Coalition had control of the shipyards and all new ship construction.
He decided to trick the Coalition into building the ship he wanted. He wrote a clause into his will, stating that on his death, the Coalition would inherit his fortune, one the one condition that it was used to construct a ship as a memorial to him, from ship plans he commissioned himself. This was done to prevent the questions that would have been asked if he donated the money while still alive, and prevents him from being a suspect when the ship is stolen from the Coalition.
After his death was staged (lost at sea on Aubaine, no body recovered), the Coalition was only happy to add another ship to its fleet, and so the Dark Century class Stealth Destroyer was constructed. As the adventure begins, the Coalition is recruiting the finest crew it can for the Century's shakedown cruise. Austin too is doing some recruiting, both among mercenaries and the shipyard security..........

Getting involved

"During the past few weeks, there have been rumours surfacing that the Coalition is about to launch the first of a new class of Destroyers. The media is saying little, but people you know who work for the Coalition and trusted freelancers are spreading the word. The Destroyer is being constructed secretly, word has it that it is some kind of memorial, which is to be unveiled as a surprise. At one of the Transtown bars you overheard an argument between two young naval hotshots as to which would be picked for assignment on the new ship. There's a sense of expectation in the air, and many RCES personnel are working far harder than usual, trying to get noticed."

The players are approached by a Coalition admin officer who offers them a job at +50% wages for a few weeks on a special assignment. If pressed she will raise this offer to double wages (difficult:bargaining), but no further. If asked for details of the assignment, she will be able to provide nothing, other than a time and place for a complete briefing. Players can be offered jobs as naval personnel, ship's troops, or 'trouble-shooters' for the Century's first tour of duty, depending on skills available. If characters are interested, they are to report for briefing at the underwater shipyards at 1900 tomorrow. Characters who are already active RC personnel may be told simply to report to the shipyards for briefing.

The Shipyards

The underwater shipyards were constructed with major Schalli assistance in NE2, to serve the growing needs of the RC. The shipyards nestle in a giant atoll in the temperate waters of the northern hemisphere of Aubaine. Above the water a 500m diameter dome provides docks for passenger and freight ships and grav vehicles, and accommodations and some offices for the human component of the workforce, who largely prefer to live in the sunlight. From the surface facility, a large tower carries several freight and personnel elevators down to the under water facility. The hub underwater is very similar to the facility above water, although there is a much greater Schalli presence. From the hub six smaller tunnels fan out to the construction bays of various sizes located on the edge of the atoll. The shipyards were built for capacity instead of luxury, so all doors except emergency bulkheads are manual, and although clean, there are places where the seals around tunnel joints leak slightly, allowing water to run through the mesh floor into drainage tunnels. This is not due to any lack of structural integrity, but instead to Schalli architects who believe in sufficient instead of absolute waterproofing, who look on in amazement at how human workers try to block up every last leak, where there really is no danger.

Maps don't really travel well in email, so I'll give some descriptions of some stock locations in the starport which you can join together to taste:

Construction Hangar: The hangar space is about 100m x 400m, usually several ships are in construction at once in a single hangar. The hangar is filled with water, and the roof of the hanger is constructed of transparent plastic. This can be opened to allow ships to launch, but normally it remains closed to persuade the local wildlife to remain outside, while still aiding with the lighting of the space. On all sides of the hangar, 'walls' about 10m wide and 60m high contain offices and computer facilities for the projects underway in the hangar. These offices have large windows looking both out to the sea and into the hangar. Both the natural and artificial lights tend towards a green or blue colour which the Schalli find most comforting. This would make the place slightly depressing for the human workers, but the scale of the place makes it impressive and inspiring. The machinery constructing the ships gives a background sound of rhythmic thumping, very low and not so loud it can't be ignored, but there nonetheless if you listen. Although the offices and workspaces in the walls of the hangar are comparatively free of leaks, the air still has a slightly salty smell, and is cold and slightly damp.

Office The offices in the surface facilities are decorated in warm colours, browns, beiges etc. The floors are covered with tightly woven carpet, chosen more for durability than any comfort consideration. Most offices have a desk with a networked terminal, and two or three chairs. There is considerable variation in the state of the offices, some tidy with pot plants, others looking like a bomb just hit them, with papers stacked chaotically on desks, others give the impression that if a bomb was to hit them, it would probably tidy the place up a bit.

Briefing Room (surface facility) The briefing rooms are about 6m by 10m, with windows along one of the longer sides. Slatted blinds can be closed down over these windows as necessary, and projection equipment linked to the facility computers is embedded in the ceiling. Chairs are arranged in rows, to seat about 60.

The players arrive at the shipyards on one of the many commuter hydrofoils which carry workers to and from nearby islands. On arrival they are escorted a short way to a briefing room.

'The briefing room is already quite full when you enter, with several people standing at the back. You estimate that there must be about seventy people standing in on this briefing. Another small group enters the briefing room and stand next to you. The doors are closed and Sid Papagopolis takes the stand: "You are all here because you are the best available. Don't let that go to your heads, the cream of the service are almost without exception engaged off world at the moment. Nonetheless you represent one of the better crew we have gathered. This is as it should be for the first cruise of the RCS Dark Century." A video image is presented onto the wall behind him, showing an almost completed ship in a wet dock. There is a stunned murmur as the camera zooms out to show a scout courier undergoing a refit next to it, completely dwarfed by its neighbour. [Average:(EDU + INT) to estimate the size at about 1000 displacement tons]. The video image shimmers in shades of blue and green from the light filtering through from the surface of the water above, but the ship is still clearly distinct. Black and streamlined, it looks like some monstrous predator of the prehistoric oceans. Sid continues, "The Century was a gift to the Coalition. Some of you may remember report's of Austin Farlos' death in a storm about a year ago. He was an extremely wealthy man, possibly one of the richest in the coalition due to a massive finder's claim on a cache at an old naval base. His will asked that his fortune be given to the Coalition, on the condition it be used to build this ship as a memorial to him. We had been having trouble funding enough ships to use the dock capacity here, so this was not an opportunity to pass up. Her first mission will be a routine patrol through safe systems, we wouldn't want to risk losing her to an unexpected malfunction in the wilds. Now ladies and gentlemen, any questions?". Sid will answer any questions the players have. -If the players ask about pay, they will find that some people are being paid double, allowing them to get that pay if they haven't already. -Questions about the Century can be answered from the design. If the players aren't forthcoming with questions, then NPCs should ask questions so the players now some of the key facts about (eg. stealth design), but don't give everything away unless the characters specifically ask. -Questions about the planned route cannot be answered until the Century leaves, for security reasons, but it lies entirely within safe systems. -Questions about rank/position onboard ship should be answered as you wish. If characters merit it, there is no harm in allocating command positions.

Crew Breakdown for Dark Century:

After the briefing, the character are assigned clean, if spartan accommodation in the shipyard facility before departure tomorrow. The accommodation is not on the Century, as except for the Captain's stateroom, the quarters are somewhat uncomfortable.

Things that go bump in the night.... The characters are woken in the middle of the night by an announcement on the intercom to their room. "We appear to have a situation here in the Century's Hangar. Could any available personnel report to the hangar immediately. This is the head of security, I repeat all available personnel to hangar four." Characters should try to get involved now. Any who don't will get included again in a short while, but at least a couple need to head for the hangar (repeat the message with threats of action against those who don't respond if necessary). Heading to the hangar the characters will be surprised by how few people there are around. One or two maintenance and security personnel are up and about, but even they don't seem concerned by the warning you heard. (The head of security put the announcement through only to their rooms).

Some players may try to wake some more people. This is fine, but as they'll end up working with the players later in this scenario, limit it to only a couple of NPCs, the rest either don't want to know, or are sound asleep. Anyone trying to contact security about the message will be told that something must have gone wrong with the intercom. They will be told to continue directly to the hangar and not to bother waking anyone else. They will be told that some workmen have been attacked by a native creature which has somehow got into the hangar and then the line will fizz and go dead. When they arrive at the hangar, there is nobody around. The observation gallery the players enter looks into the hanger, but they can't see anybody working inside. Observation:Average to spot a pair of feet sticking out from behind some chairs in the observation gallery. The feet belong to a dead security guard, shot dead and crudely hidden, there is another similar body next to it. The body is still quite warm, especially considering the clammy cold of the air. There is no ID with the guard, but his weapon (a gauss pistol with full tranq clip) is still present. There is no sign of the killer, and the intercom is dead. Within seconds, the characters are distracted by further events:
'Looking through the window into the dark hangar, you can barely make out the shape of the Century, the spotlights shining through the water picking it out as a piece of more solid darkness. However, as you look, something seems wrong. External lights on the ship are flickering into life, and you can make out the rising whine of contra-grav powering up. As its weight is reduced, the Century begins to lift through the water like a rising bubble, smashing through the clear plastic roof of the hanger, leaving shards of plastic tumbling down in its wake, like rain in slow motion. Within seconds of its passing through the ceiling an alarm is triggered. Sirens split the silence asunder, and the blue and black of the hangar is lit by strobing red lights giving a hellish appearance.
(referee: The head of security, Trefin Galth is framing the players for helping with the theft of the Dark Century. As his word is widely trusted, and he has access to anywhere in the station, he makes a fairly good job of it. The evidence he will use against the players includes: He supplied the starship thieves with copies of the player's door passes. He has planted quantities of gold in the player's rooms. He has spliced together footage of the thieves entering the facility with security camera footage of the characters answering his announcement. Any incriminating evidence in the computers has been either deleted or tightly encrypted.
He has dispatched a unit of security guards to the observation lounge, where they will find the characters, and the dead guards)

A number of security guards, outnumbering the players by 6 people will enter the observation gallery. They will call for the players to drop any weapons and will take any who surrender to the security centre for questioning. Any resistance will cause security to open fire, and will look bad when protesting their innocence. If the party is subdued they will be taken to the security centre. If the party escapes, then go straight to the section on escaping. Of course, if the players resort to lethal force, but fudge it so security guards don't die unless the players specifically want to kill them. Charges of assault can be dropped once the conspiracy is uncovered, although some of the guards might hold a grudge.

Security guard. Veteran NPC. Combat Assets: Slug Rifle, Unarmed martial arts. Other Assets: Swimming 12, Small Craft 10, Electronics 7, Computer 7. Armed with 4mm gauss rifle, no armour.


If the players were captured above they are taken to the security centre (underwater facility) 'You have been sitting in this featureless room for half an hour now, the guard didn't seem interested in anything you said, so as the door opens and you are escorted out , you are glad that you can at last speak to someone who will listen. You are shown into an office, behind a desk sits a grey haired man, with a smile that irritates you greatly. The man straightens up a stack of paper, then looks up. The security guard remains in the room.
"I must regretfully inform you that you are all under arrest for aiding in the theft of the RCS Dark Century. The security video tapes show you moving through the base, apparently in a state or some agitation (and carrying weapons, if appropriate). An access card issued to (one of the characters) was used to open an airlock from the submarine bay. Anyway, let me play the tape, so you can see the evidence against you" He taps his finger on some controls set into the desktop. On a monitor on the wall a picture of a corridor is displayed. The characters are seen to run down it, followed seconds later by a group of about thirty armed men and women. More film follows, including pictures of the characters actually opening doors for the thieves. (Average:Sensors, Computer or EDU. The tape could have been altered by the operator, and the characters could have been added through computer effects. However the image processing power to generate the images would be considerable, and require significant attention from the facility mainframe. If the players later investigate this, they will find conclusive evidence that the mainframes were not used. How he managed to get the footage I'll leave a mystery for now......)
As the tape finishes, another security guard enters and places a large parcel on the desk "Found it in the suspect's quarters, sir." he says stiffly. Inside are several bars of gold, wilds currency. "Planning a little trip away from the coalition then, are you?" Trefin inquires sarcastically.'
The characters can argue their innocence, but talking to Trefin is like talking to a smirking brick wall.
The characters are lead back to the cells. By this point they should suspect that Trefin is framing them, but they will be helpless to prove their innocence while incarcerated. Average:Legal - The characters are in a very bad situation. The evidence already presented against them will possibly be sufficient, and as Head of Security, Trefin can continue adding evidence as necessary. It would be sensible to try to escape to find evidence to prove their innocence. A lawyer contacted for Cr100 will give the same opinion. Trefin now has the players in his hands, but he has begun to fear that their service records might lead to an investigation which could uncover him, or that the trial could take too little time, in which case it wouldn't disrupt the pursuit of the Century at all. He decides to let the players escape, in the hope that their flight will occupy the authorities.

Meanwhile, the Dark Century has escaped. It briefly engaged a gazelle CE, which was destroyed within minutes from a particle accelerator hit which triggered a chain of massive internal explosions, ripping the ship apart. As the Navy believes it can track it through the players, they are not pursuing it, as they cannot risk losing any more precious ships or crews.

Trefin Galth. Veteran NPC. Combat Assets:Energy Pistol, Unarmed Martial Arts, Slug Pistol. Other Assets: Leadership 12, Computer 14, Electronics 12. Carries a TL13 2cmCC Laser
Trefin arrived on Aubaine from 'somewhere in the wilds' about ten years ago. Despite his shaded background, his technical skill made him a successful security guard.


Spade Queen: Trefin is ruthless and will go to any length to achieve his ends. He takes sadistic pleasure not in others physical suffering, but in their frustration and helplessness when he manipulates others against them. He engineered a scandal which removed his predecessor in the job. 3 Diamond: Trefin has a degree of greed, but his reasons for framing the players lie deeper than financial reward. Players may (Formidable:Admin) manage to track his arrival to the same battered far trader which brought some of the thieves which can be identified to the planet. Interestingly, the far trader has never been registered as trading around Aubaine since then...

A Chance of Freedom The players should be trying to escape. If not, the second part of the encounter could be used (or use it anyway if you like it)

The cell you are held in looks as if it was intended more as a cupboard. There is a panel to control the door on the inside, but it has been deactivated from outside. An access panel below it covers the door circuitry, but it is welded loosely in place. Opening the panel requires 4 points of damage to be done to it in a single attack. (Increase this if you find it amusing to get the players trying to shoulder barge it, flying kick it, etc.) Average: Electronics- The door could be hot-wired if the panel was removed Difficult: Electronics- To hot-wire the door (two attempts possible before the circuits burn out completely)

The Guard outside is 'Chip' Dawkins, a junior and completely inexperienced guard (novice NPC, combat assets: Knowing which end of the gun the bullet comes out of.) Chip is very gullible, and Difficult:Act Bluff could get him to open the cell up ("please, my friend feels ill"). He can be easily subdued when the players are free, and they can escape.

If the players feel unwilling to take action into their own hands: 'It's night time, the guard brought you a meal about an our ago. The food was good, probably straight from the staff mess, they can't have prisoners very often, otherwise they'd be better at cooking badly. Suddenly there is a dull thud from outside. A moment of heavy silence follows and you begin to wonder if it was just your imagination, but the door to your cell opens with a swish. Outside is a schalli in a power suit, it greets the characters "I'm a friend, know you not steal ship. Was making night maintenance rounds, when I saw Trefin at computer, working on camera feeds. He ran when I saw, and now he's framed you. The only way to prove innocence is outside." Beside her is the unconscious guard. "Hurry, he wake soon." she urges. The Schalli will return to her quarters after this, knowing she is more of a liability to the characters trying to escape stealthily.

If the players still don't try to escape (check their pulse and respiration): Trefin appears while the Schalli stands outside. He shoots her through the back, and as she dies she tells the players to escape. Trefin will shoot himself through the forearm, drop his gun and call for backup.

Escape! Moving through the shipyard:

Corridors - Carries the highest risk of encountering guards. Players will encounter D6 patrols of D3 guards each (use stats above). Difficult:Stealth to avoid a patrol (all characters roll, some may be caught, others can surprise the guards). The video cameras appear to be deactivated (Trefin is manning them, to help the players escape). Formidable:Act/Bluff to talk your way out of guard encounters.

Ventilation Shafts - These allow characters to avoid patrols. Most of them are 50cm x 50 cm square, but this increases to 1.5m x 1.5m in places. Despite their advantages they have their own hazards: D6 1-2 Faulty electrical wire hangs down into the duct. Average:Observation to spot (-1 difficulty level in the dark) Difficult:Ship's engineering to remove (2D6 damage to dominant arm on catastrophic failure, 5min) Average:Acrobatics to avoid (Unskilled OK, 2D6 damage on failure, but wire still passed) 3-4 Maintenance robot. Probably background colour unless it decides the characters are an obstruction to be cleared. 5 Shaft Easy:Observation to spot (+2 difficulty in the dark) Easy:Acrobatics to cross over (4m fall on fail. Could cause problems trying to get back up) 6 Shaft As above but with air conditioning fans which add D6 damage to falling damage on a fail.

Outside - Airlocks to the outside will allow the players to swim around to exits from the facility. This could also help them get on board a ship as they wouldn't need to pass through facility exits. On entering an airlock: D6 1 2 Guards waiting in ambush, Vac suits present 2 Vacc Suits are present for extended aquatic work 3-6 Scuba equipment is available. Aquatic ACRs are present in all airlocks. There is a 50% chance of encountering a local predator outside, increasing to 100% if a character with an injury is wearing scuba gear. Combat tasks are +2 diff levels, Swimming enables to give only +1 diff mod. Characters without any swimming skill can be aided by others, but take no part in combat. Underwater Encounters D6;Type;Weight;Hits;Weaponry;To hit;Damage;Pen;Range;Initiative;Armour;To attack;To flee;Speed 1;1D6 killers;50;3;Poison stinger;13;1p2;Nil;Short;8;Nil;12;1;30 - Like very small sharks w. poison barb on forehead like a rhino's horn 2;Chaser;3200;49;Projectile;12;9;Nil;18;2;nil;5;Am;5;50 -Very big serpent/snake like creature 3;3D6 chasers;25;4;Poison teeth;14;3p1;Nil;Short;3;0.5;Am;9;65 - eel-like 4;Siren;100;9;Acid;14;1;Nil;Short;7;Nil;As;7;5 - like a Giant Scorpion Fish, but with more spines in bright multi-colours and patterns. It floats freely until a curious swimmer or fish gets close... 5;Siren;6000;100;Teeth;10;20;1;Short;3;Nil;As;10;2 - Pretends to be a crater on the floor of the sea until a reason able mouthful is contained, then large teeth are extended from the rim of the 'crater' causing severe injury to unwary swimmers. 6;Chaser;12;3;Claws;15;2;Nil;Short;4;Nil;Am;7;27 - 'Reefcat', aquatic mammal

The players can ultimately exit from the facility through one of three major means, ask them where they are headed.

- Utility launches. 'Making your way cautiously down a corridor you stop in surprise as you see a launch outside the window. Around the corner, an armoured guard sits next to the airlock, a rifle propped between his knees, and a can of drink in one hand.' The Shipyards have several launches used for utility purposes, ferrying simple replacement components to orbit etc. A security guard is present on the airlock for each launch, armed with dart ammunition in their rifle, and wearing TL12 combat armour. Although a single guard could be overcome easily, the launch is not fully prepped for takeoff, so the players might have trouble getting away that easily, though. Difficult:Ships Engineer - Bring power plant up to full (not a cold start), takes 1D6+1 minutes. Critical success reduces time to 1 min, critical failure doubles time needed. Every minute roll D6-4 for the number of armoured guards appearing. Difficult:Electronics - Burn out door servo control, barricading the entrance from the guards. Three guards together can open it manually - Wait until three guards have accumulated outside from the roll above. Formidable:Act/Bluff - Convince guard that characters are maintenance crew for the launch. Impossible:Forgery - Produce requisition order and passes to deceive the guard. This task is one level easier if the characters have access to a portable computer/printer or similar. A pre-emptive attack would surprise the guard, but an implant monitors his health and will alert security even if the players knock him unconscious immediately. Average:Interface/Grav to fly out safely through the plastic covering the hangar. If nobody has Interface/grav, then they will need to find another exit.

- The underwater docks

'The docks are dark, lit by the lights below the water in a shifting pattern of blue and shadows across the walls and ceilings. The walls reach a hundred meters away into the darkness, and the room is about forty meters wide, and almost as high. About a dozen submarines are tied up in the channels which run along the sides of the room. There is a pair of unarmoured security guards with tranq rifles sitting in a control room set into the centre of the ceiling, with glass windows all around.' Sneaking past the guards is Easy:Stealth due to the lighting in the submarine docks. Average:Electronics or Intrusion - open a submarine door. Average:Act/Bluff - to persuade security to let the submarine exit through the 'airlock' (waterlock?) which prevents the room from filling up with water, while keeping air pressure normal.

If they get suspicious of the bluffing above, characters will have to fight past 1D6+2 guards (the original two, and reinforcements) to get to the control room above, and then Average:Computer is necessary to open the gates. If the characters try this straight away, then only the original two will need to be overcome. Average:Small Watercraft to actually escape in the submarine, otherwise they'll need to find another exit.

- Passenger ships 'The loading platforms for the surface ships are unbelievably crowded. People and aliens in clothes fashionable on any of the worlds of the Coalition mill around, waiting for, and getting off the ships which arrive every few minutes. Some security personnel stand by, but they aren't checking for you very carefully, as they are far too few in number for the task of overseeing so many people. It would be very easy to just slip into the crowd and get on board a ship.' Average:Computer - Forge bookings on a passenger ship leaving the shipyard (needs access to a terminal in an office, which risks an administrator coming in and finding the characters) Average:Act/Bluff or Disguise or Stealth - Slip past security and board a passenger vessel.

The players can leave their escape vessel in one of the downtown docks on Aubaine, where few questions are asked, and most people would consider it a breach of honour to talk to the police. The smell of the docks is overpowering, and the concrete piers are crumbling with disrepair. Small fish jump from the water to catch insects, and larger, long insects buzz around the water, catching the tiny fish. The people here dress functionally. While some ships are hives of activity, with dockworkers scrambling over them to unload the cargo, others seem eerily deserted.

The characters are wanted by the police, and until the end of this section they are likely to be hassled at various points by the police. These first two encounters can be added into this section as appropriate.

The safe house. The characters will require accommodation while they pursue their inquiries into the ship theft. Any character who has criminal contacts can arrange somewhere to stay. Alternatively, the characters can be approached by a stranger after a close escape from a police patrol. The characters will be offered 'safe' accommodation for Cr25 each per night. 'The place wasn't in a part of town you knew, come to that, it wasn't even in a part of town you knew existed. The building looked like it had been burnt out in the past, but plants grew in colourful swathes from the windows, and the doors and windows looked new. Still, rebuilding was nothing new to you, and the building blended in with those around it well enough'

After a day or two, the police will set a trap in the building, having either been tipped off by the owner in return for a reward, or after the police followed and arrested the character's contact. Formidable:Observation - 'As you return to the place you're renting nothing seems out of place, but in a street that has constantly surprised you, with impromptu performances by artists and violent arguments by neighbours, this in itself is strange. A man stands by one of the streetlights reading a newsheet, you can't be sure, but it seems like he's watching you.' If the players look around before going inside, they will find a police air raft at the rear of the house, with a single law enforcement officer. This gives the players an opportunity to steal a getaway vehicle and escape. If they try to leave on foot then they will encounter the police, just the same as if they go inside, but of course, they will have a better chance to escape. If the players go inside, they will be confronted by the police who are waiting inside their apartment. There are 4 more police than characters and allied NPCs, and they will attempt to subdue the characters, as the Coalition needs to question them.

Law Enforcer Template NPC Level: Experienced, Combat Assets:Armed Martial Arts (Small Blade), Slug Pistol, Other Assets:Pilot (IF/Grav) 9, Observation 10, Persuasion 10 Equipment:10mm AutoSnub (1D6 1-4Tranq 5-6HEAP), BW vest (AV1 Chest/Ab), Blade

Police Sweep Ten police officers are conducting a sweep of the area looking for the players. Each character must roll Average:Stealth to slip by. If anyone fails, they get past on Impossible:Act Bluff. If a successful Forgery (false ID) or Disguise roll has been made earlier, then they receive a -1 diff mod for each, or -2 for a critical success (and possibly -1 for superb roleplaying if they hadn't done either) This situation could be complicated by the appearance of a drunken acquaintance of one of the character's. If the players fail to slip past, they will have to defend themselves against the police long enough to escape into the crowd. This will be helped by the fact the police are on foot.

Research Some leads which were mentioned in the previous section might now be followed up.

Difficult:Streetwise or Research (-1 diff level if any character has media contacts) The death of Farlos was investigated for Coalition News Services by a Schalli journalist. He was unable to find any witnesses to the death, and schalli who were in the area of Farlos' disappearance remember the weather as stormy, but not unusually so. More significantly, none of them actually saw Farlos' boat in the area on the night he disappeared. Formidable:Research, (average:admin to enable, -1 diff level for a medical contact) There was a survivor from the air raft crash which killed the crew of Farlos' original ship. He was resuscitated at a local hospital, but then disappeared a few days later. Staff on duty report that he went to the bathroom and never came out. An open window from the room looked out over a side alley.

Formidable:Computer - Remotely access the shipyard computers. From here the following information can be obtained if the players ask for it: -Motion Video or stills of the video which incriminates the characters -Personnel files for the head of security, showing his arrival on planet on the same ship as some of the mercenaries. This is not in itself incriminating, other civilians from both Coalition worlds and the wilds arrived on the same ship, but it is interesting. -Work schedules for the construction of the RCS Dark Century. Average:Admin to notice that the chief technician in charge of the project actually left to go on holiday shortly before the Dark Century was completed. -Account numbers used for paying wages which will assist the players in obtaining information from bank computers.

This information is important, so if the characters are not skilled enough with computers they will need to locate someone who is. Average:Streetwise to locate a cybercafe where an infamous hacker hangs out. 'The bar is dark, illuminated principally by the rows of vid screens along the walls. A wide variety of people sit at the terminals, businessmen in suits, mothers with their children pointing to the screen and more. The lighting in the room is not unpleasant, the light from the screens being cast through sepia coloured filters, creating a warm atmosphere reinforced by the smell of steaming cups of sharp but sweet smelling Chakka and fresh baked doughnuts' If the players ask the owner of the shop they will be directed to a young woman in a business suit sitting in one corner. The lady is Jan Coley, an accomplished computer expert, with an amateur interest in computer intrusion which nonetheless leaves most full time hackers speechless. She will break into the shipyard computers for Cr1000, (Difficult:Bargaining to bring down to Cr600, or C300 on exceptional success) and may even suggest retrieving some of the above information if the players don't think about it. Unfortunately for the players, she is unknowingly under investigation by a group of bounty hunters, who heard of her reputation, and have been observing her through bugs in the cafe terminals to watch for shady dealings. When they realise that she may be acting on behalf of the characters, they decide to step in, encouraged on the kCr250 reward for the capture of the characters. Fortunately, the bounty hunters working on Aubaine are far less competent than their counterparts in the wilds. The bounty hunters will enter the cafe just as Jan finishes retrieving the information the players need. They enter through the front door and start firing immediately. The civilians present dive for cover and players would be quite justified in fighting back. There is one more bounty hunter present than the number of players in the group.

Bounty Hunter, Experienced, Combat assets:Energy pistol, Unarmed Martial Arts, Slug Pistol. Other assets:Observation 10, Tracking 10, Streetwise 10. Armed with 10mm AutoSnub-8 (HE), leader carries a TL9 laser pistol. They are wearing combat environment suits under casual clothes.

Jan Coley, Experienced, Combat assets:Slug pistol. Other assets:Computer:16, Observation:10, Research:10. Carries a gauss pistol (dart)

Cafe owner, Veteran Combat assets:Slug rifle, Unarmed martial arts. Other assets: Service:14, Computer:12, Electronics:10. Has a pump action shotgun under the counter (slugs)

The police and emergency services will arrive in three minutes. Players gain much karma for attending to the wounded civilians until the ambulances arrive instead of fleeing straight away.

Difficult:Computer (-2 diff levels if the players have account number from payroll files at the shipyard) Obtain account information on people that the players suspect of involvement The head of security has no suspicious payments on file. The chief technician had a Cr1,500,000 deposit made about four months ago. A large withdrawal was made a few weeks ago to pay for a holiday on a well-known resort near the equator on Aubaine. In the past couple of weeks numerous small withdrawals have been made in shops on the resort island.

Formidable:Streetwise (-1 diff level if any character has criminal contacts, -1 diff if anyone has military contacts) - Players trace some of the mercenaries who appear in the security camera pictures to a mercenary unit which arrived onworld ten years ago. No record of them exists prior to this date. The members had obtained one or two minor contracts for various commercial concerns, but nine years ago the group split up, and the members obtained a variety of civilian jobs, principally in security and law enforcement, but some entered more mundane careers as accountants and administrators. No details of the mercenary missions they carried out have been released. Recently, the band began to reform, hired by a mysterious businessman, who paid in cash.

Impossible:Streetwise (-1 diff level if the Medical research above was done) The survivor of the air raft crash is now working as a technician for the Aubani communications company. He has changed his name, and is living under cover. He will not be happy about talking to the characters about the crash, and will only reluctantly agree to see them. He will explain that he is fearful for his safety, suspecting someone wants him dead, and telling the characters that the air raft crash was no accident. He offers to meet the characters in a local park to explain further. When the characters turn up for the rendezvous, they will find him sitting on a park bench, staring into space in from of him. When the players try to talk to him, they realise that he is dead. Any post mortem would reveal he died of poisoning delivered by a fragment of ceramic found in his neck, as if it had been shot there. Most likely the characters won't have the opportunity for any close investigation, and if they did, it would not provide any information as to the killer's identity.

Whatever else the players find out, the significant pieces of information are those relating to the chief technician. The players should decide to investigate him. Investigation will determine that he has let the rent lapse on his flat, and appears to have moved out to the resort permanently.

Reaching the island is not likely to be easy as the police are hounding the players. I'll outline four possibilities for reaching the island:

1/Passenger ship 2/Chartered ship 3/Stolen ship 4/Charter flight

Buying the tickets The tickets will need to be purchased for 1, 2 & 4 above. This could be done by a character, suitably disguised (opposing an observation asset of 7). Alternatively a trusted contact could do it, but this could cause some problems for players - How much do you trust your contact? Does he still blame you for the death of X? Can you trust your journalist friend to keep his mouth shut? The tickets cost:

Passenger ship Cr200 each Chartered ship Cr1500 total Chartered flight Cr2000 total

Security checks The characters will be checked as they enter the harbour or airport complex. Security has been tightened due to the increasing tensions in Coalition space. The security still seems friendly rather than intimidating, but there is an atmosphere of polite caution. Players attempting to get prohibited weapons (automatics and high-energy weapons) through security will be arrested if discovered. Players with criminal or merchant contacts can arrange for the weapons to be smuggled to the resort. This costs Cr100 to Cr 500 per weapon. The chance of it getting through safely is equal to 60% + 5% for each Cr50 over the original Cr100. Passengers will be asked to check weapons into secure lockers for the duration of their flight/cruise. It is Formidable:Stealth to avoid any concealed weapons being found (-1 difficulty level for pistols), or it is Difficult:Intrusion to obtain them once on board.

Passenger ship. 'The ship sits easily in harbour, a faint trail of steam reaching up from one end. The hydrofoil underneath the water has a modified HEPlaR drive mounted on it, which takes water in from in front of the ship, heating it to steam and then venting it behind the ship. The efficiency of the propulsion, combined with a fusion plant make it possible to achieve extremely high speeds with very little cost. The tourists around you all look excited, they jostle and crowd around the boarding gates, and the people who were originally checking people's papers give up and get out of the way.' The voyage takes about twelve hours, and while the characters will encounter no trouble getting off again, it's not all plain sailing.... ' "Hey! You!" the shout comes from behind you. Turning, you find yourself face to face with a short angry looking man. You recognise him from the briefing as one of the would-be officers from the briefing at the shipyard. His shouting is beginning to attract the attention of the other passengers around you' Lots of Act/Bluff, Persuasion, and clever ideas will be needed to shut him up. He will harangue the characters, although he won't get violent. If he is allowed to get away, then he will call the port authorities using the ships laser relay. The characters could try to disable the communicator, either by taking over the comms room, or by sabotaging the antenna. If they don't they will be ambushed by the police (see below) as they disembark.

Charter Vessel and Flight. The characters will not be immediately apprehended if they fail to sneak past security while boarding, but the police will be waiting at the port/airport when the characters arrive, and will try to arrest them (see below). The characters may plan to use parachutes or scuba to get past these problems, and these are possible, depending on character skills. To pass through security Formidable:Stealth (the corridors are designed to prevent this) Formidable:Act/Bluff ('...no, you want my second cousin, he looks just like me') Difficult:Disguise Difficult:Forgery

Stealing a ship. In the port there is a small HEPlaR propelled water skimmer. A fat man in a loud shirt sits on deck, drinking and soaking up the sun. He is a novice NPC and has the keys for the yacht in his pocket. The characters can easily intimidate him into starting the engine, or piloting the ship. As the characters leave the port, they will be pursued by his bodyguard, who has borrowed a speedboat to chase them. The characters can outrun him easily if they choose to. If they do, they will be reported by the bodyguard, and tracked by the police. The police will be waiting for them when they arrive. If however, they allow the bodyguard to catch up and they subdue him, then nobody will raise the alarm, and the characters will be able to land uninterrupted by the police on the island. The bodyguard is an Experienced NPC, armed with a gauss pistol and unarmoured.

Police ambush If the characters get noticed from travel above, they will be ambushed by a group of police in a fitting location (customs, a small harbour, as they get out from their grav vehicle and walk across the grasphalt to the terminal building). There are twice as many police as there are characters. Use the law enforcer template above.

The holiday home. The Chief technician (Steffan Gray) 's house is set in considerable grounds. The grounds are surrounded by a wire fence, with surveillance cameras set every hundred meters along their length. A narrow road leads from the main road to the house. The grounds are patrolled by trios of security guards, all in combat environment suits and carrying TL10 ACRs with HE ammunition. At night they use light intensifier goggles, and they have headset radios for communication. Technician's security. Experienced NPC. Combat assets: Slug Rifle. Other assets:Observation 12, Stealth 10, Tactics 8. Most of the estate is covered in dense forest, but reaching in a circle about 50m in radius from the house are landscaped gardens these include four spectacular 'holographic' fountains, where projection onto a spray of opaque white liquid gives the impressions of a fountain of fire, of pebbles and rocks, of clouds and of water, all four fountains changing theme in rotation. There is a second road leading from the house to a private beach. Draw maps if you want, or alternatively handle it in a more descriptive fashion.

Some suggested complications for various approaches. Entry through the woods - Poisonous wildlife Dry leaves underfoot attracting guards

Entry through the private beach - Wildlife Toxin laced netting covering the cove. Intended to keep unfriendly wildlife outside the swimming area it is laced with a slime containing a contact poison. Although intended to discourage small fish only, the sting is uncomfortable, and one randomly selected member of the party could suffer an allergic reaction to it (fever, halved assets, needs medical attention within an hour). Rip currents

Entry over the fence (for all but beach approaches) The wire fence is made of superdense, and requires specialised cutting equipment. Digging under the fence could produce an entry, but there is a 30% chance of uncovering a small antipersonnel mine. This is primed when the unfortunate lays his hand on it, but won't go off until he reduces the pressure on it. The others can try to disarm it, while the unfortunate who discovered it rolls lots of willpower tests to not scratch his nose. Climbing over the fence is possible, but the razor wire on the top will do 2D6 damage each limb. Easy:Acrobatics to prevent damage to one limb, Average for two limbs, Difficult to save three limbs, and Impossible to vault over without damage (roll and see which if any task would be successful). Then there are those video cameras.....

Entry along paths through the woods/along a road Guard patrols are common, and the players are likely to encounter them. There are several automated weapons which are deactivated by radio transmissions from security tags which the people living in the house use. These can be obtained from defeated guards. Using a radio jammer doesn't deactivate the weapons, but it will cause them to fire indiscriminately.

In the house the players will find copies of the Dark Century's blueprints, annotated to highlight security weaknesses, ways door locks can be over ridden, means of defeating the anti hijack program. They will also find parameters for a planned jump to Lancer, with risk assessments for the untested jump drives. There is no RC authorisation stamp on any of these documents. There is also correspondence from the Head of security who framed the characters, assuring Steffan that the characters will be caught and convicted by the police on the evidence that he has created.

The characters hear a sudden roar and see a large flash out through the windows. A fusion small arms shot has ignited much of the top floor of the house. Steffan will die in the blaze unless a courageous character chooses to go up to save him. He will be found severely burnt from a grazing shot, unconscious and will have to be dragged from the building. He will remain in a coma for several weeks, but will eventually make a full recovery. Unfortunately he knows little else about the ship theft, as his involvement was entirely through Trefin (who will have disappeared off planet by the time the characters reach the authorities with the evidence. The characters can try to pursue the cloaked gunman responsible, but he will have gone by the time they get outside, and they will find him impossible to track. They will see a craft take off from the beach and climb up on an orbital trajectory. The government tracking agencies will deny having seen anything (they really didn't, but let the players get paranoid about government cover ups). The police will arrive within a few minutes, and with the evidence gathered, the players should be able to prove their innocence. The authorities are able to determine the planned path of the Century and a mission to return the ship to the Coalition is organised. Naturally, the players are offered command positions to chase after the people who framed them....