Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the August 2011 issue of Freelance Traveller.
A woman needs help in stealing an artifact containing secret information.
Equipment Requirements: none, although the Disguise Kit from Classic Traveller Book 3: Worlds and Adventures may be useful.
Setting: any world with atmosphere 5, 6 or 8.
This adventure is best suited for 1-2 players. If more players participate, the GM should adjust the number and power of the NPCs.
Katrin DeVries is gorgeous, intelligent, sophisticated and fashionable. She moves with a feline grace and devours the adventurer with eyes that seemingly miss nothing. Underneath the sleek exterior, however is a subtle trace of menace that raises the hackles and leaves the impression that this is not a woman to trifle with.
However, she is all business as she explains to the adventurer why she has made contact. Until recently, she was romantically linked with Iikesh Hendento, a local businessman with rumored ties to organized crime. The relationship ended badly, and resulted in Katrin’s ouster from Hendento’s secluded mansion amid veiled threats on her life.
Unfortunately, Katrin wasn’t able to retrieve all of her belongings; Hendento still has in his possession a small silver statuette she describes as a family heirloom. Obviously she cannot simply show up and demand its return, and Hendento not only has little fear of the police, he has highly-paid lawyers with fearsome reputations and efficiency ratings. That leaves only illicit means to retrieve her statue.
Katrin has a plan: rumor has it that Hendento is throwing a big party in several days. She wants to hire the PC to infiltrate the party, locate the statuette and get it out of the house and back to her. While she has the necessary skills to do it herself, the guards have been especially alerted to watch out for her (and employ enough technology to see through any disguises she may use) and she’s taking Hendento’s threats seriously. For his or her help, the PC will be paid Cr5000.
Katrin can supply the location of Hendento's residence and what details about it she can recall (which appear in the GM's Information below), and a forged party invitation. She suggests that the PC travel to the house beforehand, case the place and report back, so Katrin can advise on any changes to the security arrangements.
Hendento lives on a small mountain estate. The road to the general area is well-known and marked; a long private road leads off the main thoroughfare to the estate grounds. The road ends at a gate with an occupied gatehouse. The guard will inquire as to the visitor’s business and communicate with the main house for instructions before admitting entry. (If the world is high-tech enough, the gatekeeper may be a sophisticated computer or a robot.)
The road is not the only access to the estate, just the easiest. The adventurer could hike overland, but that would take hours and would at some point involve some climbing. He or she could fly over in an air/raft or grav belt, but this means being spotted and possibly confronted by Hendento’s guards. Orbital scans of the property are easy to obtain, but would lack in enough detail as to render any suggestions by Katrin useless. A good compromise between convenience and stealth would be to travel up the road by vehicle close enough without being seen, and then hike uphill far enough to get a good view with binoculars or other visual enhancements.
The main dwelling itself is impressive. Built facing planetary sunrise, it appears as a series of round buildings stacked one atop another, jutting out of the face of a sculpted cliff; the main floor is fully exposed on top of the cliff. (Think of film cans of descending size, stacked atop each other from largest to smallest, embedded in the cliff face.) Also on the grounds atop the cliff are a garage for ground vehicles, a small storage area/workshop and a generator sufficient to power the entire estate. It may be easier for the player to envision the generator as a groundside starship power plant. The entire affair is surrounded by a wall 10 feet (3 meters) high, built of whatever materials the GM cares to envision.
According to Katrin, the floors of the main house, from largest/top to smallest/bottom contain the following rooms:
Top floor: reception area, formal dining room, master (Hendento’s) bedroom, guest bedrooms, living room, kitchen.
Second Floor: Recreation room (takes up most of this floor and has a glassteel face with breathtaking views of the mountains), bar, kitchen.
Third Floor: servants’ quarters.
Fourth Floor: library/study.
Fifth Floor: Air/raft garage (holds three air/rafts).
Each floor is accessible both by staircase and an elevator/lift shaft. The GM may want to prepare a sketch map of the house, specifying exactly how the rooms are laid out on each floor. S/he may also place bathrooms/lavatories and storage space as needed.
Katrin remembers that Hendento has surveillance cameras placed at strategic locations around the grounds, but none in the house. Again, the GM may place these where needed, perhaps leaving a few blind spots. The cameras are supplemented by a security team of six guards, not counting the gatekeeper. The house itself is very well appointed; Hendento has very expensive tastes.
His bedroom is where Katrin last saw the statuette. Also in the bedroom, stereotypically set into the wall behind a hanging picture, is a wall safe with cash and jewels worth Cr10,000, Hendento’s personal papers (the contents of which would land him in jail if the authorities got hold of them), and various knickknacks of sentimental value only.
Some information on Hendento can be found in the local datanet. He is the somewhat shady owner of an import/export company based in Startown. He has made as many local news headlines for his dealings with alleged local crime figures as he has his willingness to donate to local charities. He has been indicted in the past for various minor crimes, but has so far evaded conviction.
If the adventurer meets with Katrin again to compare notes, s/he receives a blanket DM of +1 to any actions concerning securing the statuette for the rest of the adventure.
Unfortunately for the PC, Katrin is not completely forthcoming. She was indeed involved with Hendento for a time, but the statuette is not merely a family heirloom. The item — which does not actually belong to her — is about a foot high, made of precious metals, encrusted with jewels and worth perhaps Cr50,000 on the open market. But this is not the reason why she is after it. One of the jewels on the statuette is actually a sophisticated data crystal. When subjected to a laser of the proper frequency, the crystal projects a holographic representation of several bordering subsectors, complete with locations and information on numerous major criminal concerns. Using this data, law enforcement — particularly the Imperial Ministry of Justice — could deal a serious blow to organized crime in the sector. In criminal hands the data would spark wars between organized crime groups since the locations on the map represent tempting takeover targets for ambitious bosses. Doubtless other parties would love to have such an item as an expensive bartering chip.
Hendento does not know about the crystal, and has no regard for the statue’s monetary value; he only keeps it to annoy Katrin. Katrin knows of the crystal and would willingly part with the entire statue just to get the jewel. What she wants with it is anybody’s guess.
Several days after the PC’s first meeting with Katrin, the party begins and quickly gets into full swing. The PC must put into action whatever plan he or she has concocted to get the statue. The party may provide excellent cover, or be just another obstacle to overcome. Referees who enjoy acting out NPCs are encouraged to sketch out a number of colorful characters beforehand to interact with the hero.
Successfully getting the sculpture out of Hendento’s house and into Katrin’s hands concludes the adventure. The hero can keep anything else s/he has taken from Hendento, but in that case Katrin will advise a hasty exit offworld as his thirst for revenge is deep.
Of course, an adventurer’s life is never easy. If things seem to be going a little too easily for the hero, the referee can always use one or more of the following unexpected situations to make life more interesting:
- A rival thief has learned of the figurine and has made plans to steal it herself. Posing as another party guest, she makes her move at the same time as the PC.
- Organized crime figures have learned of the existence of the data crystal and have sent a team of assassins with orders to retrieve it and eliminate all witnesses.
- Planetary law enforcement has learned of the data crystal and is racing to get hold of it. 20 officers are on their way to the villa to take part in a major raid, armed with a search warrant to see what else Hendento might be hiding. If Katrin learns of the impending raid (throw 10+), she will try to get word to the PC.
- Hendento is cooperating with the local offices of the Imperial Ministry of Justice for reasons of his own, although he has no idea why they want the statuette so badly. He is awaiting a MoJ contact to pick it up and take it to the subsector headquarters.
- Katrin herself is a covert agent for the MoJ. She is using this method to get at the statuette because Hendento knows her on sight as a cop.
- Katrin need not be working for herself; she could have a patron of her own who has paid her to obtain the statue. Who this person is and why they want the item is for the GM to decide.
- Someone at the party — perhaps even Hendento himself — becomes infatuated with the traveler and follows him/her around like a lovesick gilunuu all evening, making it difficult to sneak away and nab the item.
As always, the GM must determine the flow of subsequent events.