It had been a bad week for the crew of the Andrea Fionna. War was proving bad for trade. What cargoes that were available left little margin for profit. Money was getting tight. The navigator had put out the word on the dataNet that the ship was available for charter, anything considered. Now they waited. The Tetrachyal Inn was a spacer's bar, a good place to hang out and listen for information. As they sat in their booth a tall dark-haired man approached. "I hear you are looking for 'employment'. I have a job for you. I want you to capture a fish. A dying Zhoam. I will pay CR.25,000 for one in the right condition.."
The stranger wants the team to capture either a freshly dead Zhoam from Immortality Bay or one just about to die of natural causes so they can extract the growth hormone and try to artificially replicate it. The Zhoam is to be smuggled into orbit where it will be transferred to another ship for transport out of the system.
To deduce further information about the patron:
Difficult, Int, Edu, Streetwise (uncertain) Referee: Roll one task for each observation. If a Scanian character is being used this task becomes Routine. If the result of of the uncertain task is - untruth: then totally misdirect the observations. Some truth: point out the basic facts but misguide them. Total truth: supply the following information.
1> The patron is wearing a torc under his collar. Siian's wear torc's as a reminder of their ancestor's slavery at the hands of the Aakhrian Empire. Unlike the Argian torc, Siian torc's are made from plastisteel and are without decoration. 2> He is extremely nervious. He had already approached several other captain's today (including a couple in the inn) with his proposition and as a result it is only a matter of days before he is captured. Because of this he will be willing to pay up to Cr.50,000 if an appropriate fish can be delivered within 2 days.
To obtain covert information
Routine, streetwise, Int, 15 min (uncertain, unskilled OK) Referee: Some truth at this task either indicates the contacts reluctance to talk to a stranger, or the contact gives deliberately misleading information. On a mishap may indicate the person is either a Gatekeeper informant or will report the questions to the local police.
Roll 1d and read them the results of the following table;
1. A Vilani captain is being sentenced tomorrow for attempting to take a Zhoam from Immortality Bay. True; attending his court case will reveal that he used plastisteel drag nets but got caught by the Protectorate whereupon he tried to bribe them. He is charged with breaking the conservation laws and bribery.
2. Your patron is working for the Protectorate. False; He is currently being followed by the Protectorate because he has been indiscrete with his offers. Further probing will reveal that this rumour is based on the fact that known Protectorate official's have been seen tailing him on several occasions. Another official is now following the characters. At some point in the adventure the characters will need to confront this character or lose him. Should they disappear suspictiously he will issue a 'stop and detain' order. After two days if there has been no suspictious activity he will stop following them.
3. Only Zhoam yearlings are supposed to be caught but rumour has it that the Government is secretly culling Zhoam from Immortality Bay. True; but only a limited number are taken each year and each fish must be accounted for. Talking to the guards at Immortality Bay (this is a well-known secret) will reveal their method of using two fast hydrofoils with a plastisteel net dragged between them to capture Zhoam. The players could decide to try and steal a Zhoam from Protectorate laboritories at Vedo'kr. The security etc. is left up to the referee to detail.
4. Zhoam can be passified by spraying chlorine into the water. False; Chlorine irritates their eyes and induces a killing fury. Chlorine is used not to passify but to identify a naturally dying Zhoam. These excrete minor amounts of the enzyme into the water which reacts with the chlorine turning it purple.
5. Protectorate have been using disguised sub's to get in close to Zhoam schools without inciting them. True; The smooth shape of the sub's are disguised with modelling foam and the engine quietened by fitting a larger propeller and a de-regulator to the engine to randomise the engine pattern.
6. Due to the recent treaty only Dulinor's fleet are on system protection duty. They are bribable. True; Scanian law is limited to the surface of the planet and their moons. If the characters can take off with the Zhoam then even if they are intercepted it will be by Dulinor's men who are only interested in offences that affect fleet or system security.
Eater,usually found in school's of 13, swimmer, 800 kg, Hit Pts 2D/1D+3, Armour - Back; Battle -1, Underbelly; Jack, Teeth, horns (treat as spear) & fins (treat as club), a Zhoam can perform two attacks per combat turn - A8 F2 S3.
Eater, solitary, swimmer, 750 kg, 2D/1D-3, Battle +1, Jack -1, Teeth, horns & fins, A9 F0 S2.
Immortality Bay The bay is in reality the centre of an extinct volcano. The Northern cliff-face collapsed in several millenia ago. The surrounding sides protect the bay against the elements. The beach is composed of black volcanic ash and the decayed fragments of Zhoam bones. Tourists can visit the Bay but are restricted to the top of the volcanic walls where they can use coin-operated telescopes to observe the Zhoam. No-one (excecpt Protectorate) is allowed down to the beach itself. The site is only open to the public during the daytime hours and the bay is patrolled by two guards. During the day at least 6D of tourists will be present and any attempt to climb down will result in the Protectorate being informed. The bay is patrolled by 1D hydrofoils armed with lasers and radio-linked back to base. Each boat holds 4 Scanian official's each armed with laser pistol's. Aquan's avoid the area due to the danger of attack by dying Zhoam. At night the guard doubles.
Note: All guards and NPC's should be generated according to the quick NPC guide on P. 43 of the Referee's Manual.
There are two possibilities for capturing a fish, catching it at sea or steal a freshly dead specimen from the beach. In order to ensure a dying specimen from the water the PC's will need to head into the Bay where you risk an increased chance of being spotted. In addition, healthy Zhoam schools may attack. Its assumed that all attempts will be made at night. Any attempts made in daylight will be automatically spotted within 30 mins and Protectorate sent to investigate. On the beach the PC's must avoid dying Zhoam and find a newly dead fish.
Note: at any one time there will be 2D dying Zhoam on the beach at Immortality Bay and a further 1D in the water.
Zhoam can take several hours to die out of water. They seem to enter a type of suspended animation and only waken out of it when its intruded upon. Beached Zhoam are just as dangerous as those in the water.
To identify death in a Zhoam Difficult, Medical,Biology, Hunting, Int, 1 min (uncertain, fateful) Referee: If the result of the uncertain task is - No Truth: The characters are in combat with the Zhoam. Some Truth: The players must roll their Dex or higher on 2D to escape or they will be in combat. Total Truth: The Zhoam is dead.
To determine enzyme level of the dead Zhoam Difficult, Biology, Chemistry, Edu, 5 min. Referee: The character must have access to the proper equipment to perform this task successfully. This task will determine whether the Zhoam has excreted its enzyme yet.
The characters must decide on a method for transporting the Zhoam away from the beach without being interrupted by the guards and Conservation Protectorate boats..
If the characters decide to try and intercept a Zhoam on the way to Immortality Bay.
To identify a dying Zhoam in open water (more than 25km from the Bay)
Impossible, Hunting, Int, 3 hours (uncertain, hazardous) Referee: If the result of the uncertain task is - No Truth: the characters boat will be actively attacked by a full school of adult Zhoam. Some Truth: the characters have found a solitary male but it will turn out to be scouting rather than dying and therefore useless. This will only be discovered after analysis of the carcass. Full Truth: The characters have discovered a Zhoam heading for Immortality Bay. Again this will only be revealed after analysis.
To identify a dying Zhoam within 25km of Immortality Bay
Difficult, Hunting, Int, 10 min (uncertain, hazardous) Referee: See task above.
Methods of catching
Weapons: Akiva has an extremely high law level and attempting to buy or smuggle heavy enough weaponry to perform the job will result in almost immediate arrest. Even if they escape they will be wanted characters. Explosives: While its possible to buy explosives the noise it makes will arouse Protectorate boats and the Zhoam will be totally destroyed. Speargun: The chances of penetrating a Zhoam's armour are extremely low, that coupled with the fact that they then have to try and land a furious Zhoam bent on revenge for the pain its just suffered should rule out this method. Net: Providing the net is made of a strong compound which has a minimum of 1000 kg breaking strain and is hard to cut then they should be able eventually to catch a Zhoam. Winches will be needed to lift the Zhoam onboard. How the characters passify such a creature is left up to them to decide.
To land it To land a Zhoam by net
Difficult, Hunting, Str, 1 min (uncertain, hazardous,unskilled OK) Referee: This task assumes that the characters are using a net that is strong enough and cannot be cut by the Zhoam's horn. If the net being used does not satisfy these criteria increase the task to impossible. This task must be rolled at least twice.. Once to snare the fish and again to land it. If the result of the uncertain task is - No Truth: The fish has escaped from the net. Some Truth: The fish is partially snared but can still trash out at the characters and boat causing full damage. Total Truth: The fish is snared and totally entrapped. If the fish manages to avoid capture for three successive attempts then it will be considered to have escaped.
To by-pass Scanian Protectorate boats
Difficulty, Off=Sensor Op's,Def=range, 3 min (confrontation) Referee: Use the most favourable sensor scan difficulty level from among the unit's UCP. Use the range from the sensing unit to the target unit as a negative DM. Optionally the character may use his Computer skill in place of sensor op's. Evaluate the results of this task as - Extreme failure: The scan failed and the characters are totally unaware of the Protectorate boat's location. Failure: An unknown target identified but unable to pinpoint location. Success: Target and direction identified but range not known. Extreme success: Target's identity and exact location pinpointed.
To evaluate a Scanian Official's susceptability to bribery
Simple, Bribery, Soc (Confrontation, uncertain, hazardous) Referee: Scanian's will always refuse bribes and will take any attempt to bribe them as an insult. If the characters fail this task let them attempt to bribe the official.
To successfully lie to a Scanian
Formidable, liaison, skill (confrontation, uncertain) Referee: The unnamed skill is some skill appropriate to to the lie (Admin, Trader, etc.) If the Scanian is an adept the task becomes impossible. Familiar aliens such as vargr or aslan treat at a lower difficulty level. Totally inhuman or lesser known aliens treat as a simple task. If the result of the uncertain task is - No Truth: The Scanian will confront the character with his lie. Some Truth: The Scanian is uncertain and will ask more questions (re-roll task) to confirm his suspictions. Total Truth: The Scanian is completely fooled as long as the players don't do anything suspictious.
Once the fish is captured it must be smuggled onboard their ship and hidden until they are out of the system.
Cargoes available to ship out of system include: Radio-actives Cubed fish paste in kilolitre containers Wood various chemicals in sealed containers live fish in a massive cold storage facility.
It is left to the characters and referee to decide on the method of getting the Zhoam onboard and passed customs. It should be noted that the customs are extremely efficient. Attempts to take- off and land outside of a port will be treated extremely suspictiously and a team of marines and customs officers (including an engineer) will be dispatched to any ship in minutes of landing. Once in space the charcters need only dial a local communet number for the Siian to arrange an interception within an hour for the cargo to be transported.
It should be noted that unless the Zhoam was dead when they found it or a minimum of 1d hours has elapsed since the characters caught it then the Zhoam will still be alive and trashing. It is up to the characters to detail how they will kill or restrain it.
Final note; The Sii will be unable to synthesise the enzyme and will ask the PC's to supply them with a regular supply of dying fish at 30,000 Cr. a carcass. Its up to the players whether they accept this offer... The crew of the Andrea Fionna didn't.