This article originally appeared in Spanish in Vuelo Raso N. 4. It was translated into English by Google Translate and Jeff Zeitlin and the translation appeared in the September/October 2023 issue. Lea este artículo en español.
In this article, we present a group of passengers who can board the PCs’ ship at almost any starport, buying middle passages to the next intended destination. There is no limitation on the type of world of origin or destination of the trip, but it will work best in destinations where there is a remote place to refuel, such as a gas giant. It is possible to select some of the passengers separately, but they work better as a group, since the dynamics that they will generate are synergistic and allow almost to develop a small adventure during the week spent in the transit space.
The idea is to be able to use these passengers to show what happens during the transit week inside the spaceship and help groups of players new to the Traveller universe; or use it as an event that allows you to fill an impasse during a campaign. All of the non-player characters included will test the patience and nerves of the PCs over and over again, so the referee should try to present the most mundane and relatively normal situations that arise when the players must deal with the extravagances of his guests on board.
Lukasz Novak 6A6856 Age 31
Gambling 2, Carouse 1, Streetwise 1, Deception 0, Persuade 0
Lukasz is a gambler, a go-getter, a trickster, but he is not a con man or criminal. He survives with jobs here and there, but his real talent is gambling. Cards, dice, etc., they are his tools to fill his pocket and allow himself the lifestyle that he desires. However, sooner or later, he manages to fleece the wrong person, and this is already his fifth change of scenery. He has no family or roots, so traveling and getting to know the galaxy is not a problem for him. There is always a new place where his tricks and abilities will not be known, and he can use them to line his pockets.
In this case, Lukasz will be a bit eager to board and jump out of the system to escape a gambling debt that could get him into serious trouble, but he is not wanted by the authorities and as soon as the ship makes the jump, his mood will improve. and will calm down to the point of being jovial. He will quickly suggest playing a few games to pass the time, without betting or anything like that. He offers to explain the most rudimentary mechanics of the game to any passenger or crew member, and when they feel comfortable, he will propose to spice it up by betting a few credits. Of course it is not his intention to cause problems on the ship, but his desire does not allow him to play without betting for more than a couple of hours. If any traveler wants to enter his trap and decides to bet big against him, he will accept it without hesitation, but he will never bet more than his cash. He doesn’t want to create a debt on board that he can’t pay. If Morgan takes up with him, he’ll forget about the cards for a few days, trying to keep a low profile so as not to draw attention to himself.
Morgan Mertens 567787 Age 50
Administration 1, Broker 1, Deception 0, Diplomacy 0, Legal 0, Persuade 0
Morgan is a businessman. He is not a great negotiator or a brilliant mind, but he is hardworking and professional. The reason for his trip is to close a collaboration agreement with a provider (the good or service will depend on the worlds where the referee places the story). He is normally an introverted, kind and grateful man; but he has a serious case of jumpspace phobia; which causes him extreme stress and anxiety. He often relies on his trusty flask of liquor to calm himself, which he hides in his overnight bag.
During ticket purchase and boarding he will appear to be what he really is: a man incapable of making trouble; but once the ship has made the jump, things will change. Perhaps the earlier hours can show a more restless Morgan, but nothing serious. During the first day he will look for something to do to try to keep his mind occupied, and he will surely join Lukasz’s game, but the stress coupled with alcohol consumption will lead him to make a scene, accusing Lukasz of cheating and of stealing from him. In reality, the frustration of losing several hands in a row, the anxiety over his phobia and having drunk too much, cause a state in which he’s going “off the deep end” and Lukasz is just the scapegoat. If the travelers are participating in the game, they will witness Morgan’s outburst of rage and must stop him from attacking Lukasz. If there are no travelers in the common area, Andrii Melnik (one of the passengers) will hold Lukasz until the player characters arrive. Morgan should then be locked in his cabin where, after spending a long time crying, he will end up falling asleep. After a few hours of sleep, when he regains control, he will want to apologize to the captain or to any traveler who wants to listen to him, as well as, obviously, to Lukasz.
Skills like Steward or Persuade could lead a traveler to find out Morgan’s problem, and if they are able to help him, he will stay sober and completely cooperative for the rest of the trip, perhaps even have a feeling of debt that can lead him to do something stupid later. But that help should require constant support throughout the week.
Sun Quiyun 676CB6 Age 38
Science (Physics) 0, Electronics (computers) 2, Engineering (Power 2), Mechanics 0, Jack-of-all-Trades 1, Profession (construction) 1
Sun is an engineering genius, but she has some disorder that leads her to have some really strange and unpredictable social behavior. She tends to forget things as unimportant and to act in ways that are logical by his standards, which can lead to repeated misunderstandings. Sun has rarely traveled aboard a spaceship and her curiosity will lead her to move throughout the ship to see first-hand the operation and status of the most diverse systems on the ship: life support, power plant, computers, engine. of maneuver… It seems that no security system is capable of stopping it and the characters could find her in any place intended only for the crew, studying the machinery and making small adjustments to improve the performance of a specific system by 2%.
The referee might, for example, describe a character who sees the access hatch to the engineering section close as he goes to his cabin or any other part of the ship; and when he enters to find Sun manipulating some parts of the engine. If she is accused of sabotage, she will brush off the accusation and explain what improvements she was making to the main module’s valve control system control panel (or anything else that seems really complicated). In fact, any engineer who succeeds on a difficulty 6 roll will be able to see that Sun really is not lying and has corrected a small problem that would have needed to be corrected at the ship’s next Annual Maintenance. If Sun is instructed not to enter the restricted areas of the ship or locked in her cabin… it will be of no use unless she is handcuffed or tied up. The security systems of a conventional starship mean nothing to her, and she will soon forget the prohibition. The referee should use Sun to create confusion on board, but any successful attempt to gauge her intentions will reveal that she is really just driven by curiosity, and her lack of understanding of the rules of the board.
It is possible that she will initially participate in Lukasz’s games, but she will lose interest soon, and by the time the incident with Morgan occurs, she will stay away from him. She has a certain aversion to violence. If Morgan later apologizes to everyone and confesses her problem, from then on, she will show some sympathy towards Morgan.
Andrii Melnik 979656 Age 34
Firearms (Projectile) 2, Athletics (Dexterity) 1, Melee Combat (Unarmed) 1, Reconnaissance 1, Driving 0, Medicine 0, Orienteering 0, Survival 0
Andrii is a retired mercenary. A man of arms, tough and without too many scruples, but he knows how to maintain order and control. He will ship with a small security container where he keeps his equipment which includes cloth armor, an automatic pistol and a combat automatic rifle, as well as a couple of boxes of ammo. He doesn’t try to hide his profession and will confess to the contents of his container, but he won’t mind having said container isolated in the hold until he reaches he destination. He understands that he won’t be allowed to be armed inside the ship.
Andrii is clear, direct and doesn’t take too much trouble to be liked by anyone, since he goes about his business. However, he is aware that it is preferable to spend the week of the jump in a favorable environment, and he will not look for trouble. He’ll join Lukasz’s games, but as soon as he gets the hang of it, he’ll retire and spend his time trying to stay in shape (if there’s room for it), and devoting his attention to Amanda. It is possible that some traveler will ask him to be careful with that subject, but he will only shrug his shoulders saying that nothing will happen that the young woman does not want to happen. He’s not going to pick trouble with anyone, but he’s also not going to let anyone tell him what he can do.
Amanda and Sebastien
Amanda 697947 Age 22
Deception 2, Carouse 1, Firearms (projectile) 1, Athletics 0, Electronics 0, Steward 0, Streetwise 0
Equipment: Body pistol
Sebastien 878776 Age 24
Deception 1, Engineering (drives) 1, Firearms (projectile) 1, Astrogation 0, Piloting 0
Equipment: Diplo Vest, Body pistol
The last to buy their ticket and board will be a young couple: Amanda and Sebastien. They will arrive with little luggage and almost at the last moment, with a smile on their faces and apologizing for the delay. Amanda radiates an aura of vitality and energy, while Sebastien seems like a cheerful optimist, but what is striking is that it is evident that he is madly in love with his partner.
Once they have loaded their only suitcase and their two travel bags, they will lock themselves in the cabin for a couple of hours. When they both leave, they will introduce themselves to the rest of the passengers and the crew they have not yet met with an explosion of smiles and good vibes that will make everything seem to be going great in the common area. A traveler who is attentive during the first few hours will be able to realize that, although they appear to be a couple, Amanda hides a few glances and smiles at Andrii, although Sebastien does not seem to notice anything. Possibly both will join Lukasz’s game, and will be horrified when Morgan explodes. To try to bring the situation back to normal, Sebastien will stay with Lukasz to make sure that he is okay and that nothing has happened to him; but Amanda will move away from the card table and start spending more time with Andrii. During the trip, the situation will become increasingly clear: They’re a couple or act like one, but she seems to pay more attention to Andrii than usual, although any comment on the subject to her partner will only get a denial like “she’s like that”, “she loves to talk to people and make friends”, “She behaves the same with Lukasz or Sun”.
One Week Isolated
During the week, the referee can manage the different interactions between passengers and travelers. Ideally, they should focus on Sun’s frequent escapades, Morgan’s attempts to overcome his fear, and most of all, the love triangle that seems to be brewing around Amanda. It would even be possible to establish a reasonable doubt that there is something physical between Andrii and Amanda, such as seeing her leave her cabin or seeing her take her arm in some kind of privacy just as the traveler enters the common area. All of this should bring life to the journey and show that passengers are not just merchandise.
A few hours before the jump is about to end, Sebastien will approach the captain, or figure he considers to be in command, and ask him for a few minutes to present a request. With a somewhat shaky and nervous voice, he will tell her that his trip with Amanda should lead them to a new life, and that he wants to ask his girlfriend for something special. To add more excitement to the moment, he would like the passengers to be there, and as many crew members as possible. As he utters these words, he will have a small box in his hand. To make the surprise even bigger, he will ask her to be the captain who summons everyone to the common room (he will say this with a nervous smile and fidgeting with the box).
If the captain agrees, the referee will describe how Sebastien enters the common room last: all the passengers will be waiting intrigued; Amanda sitting next to Andrii. The referee must ask the travelers who is in the common area, witnessing the moment (the young man has insisted that all the crew members who are not performing necessary tasks are present). When silence falls upon seeing him enter, some will turn their gaze to the young woman and the mercenary, but Sebastien, oblivious to what everyone seems to think, will stand next to the captain and after taking a deep breath, he will sing in a clear and emotional voice:
“Amanda, my love, you are my life and my light, you give meaning to my days and my nights, you are the star around which I orbit because I cannot get away from you, and there is no life without your light. Therefore, there is nothing else to ask of you, would you do me the tremendous honor of… hijacking this ship with me?” (while drawing a body pistol and pointing it at the captain’s head)
Amanda will get up with a start, and drawing another body pistol with which she is pointing at Andrii, she will say with a voice full of emotion:
“Of course my love! I thought you were never going to ask me.”
Ok yes, I cheated… they have body pistols hidden in their carry-on luggage or wherever. But it is that the same surprise that you have now when reading this, is the one that the players should have. They should be so worried about Sun’s walks and the situation between Amanda and Andrii that this shouldn’t even cross their minds. After all, a body pistol is designed to go undetected, and Amanda’s travel bag could possibly have a hidden pocket that the pistol could be concealed in. From here, the situation can be very confusing. Amanda and Sebastien point their guns at those present and will try to force all the crew members to turn themselves in unarmed, threatening to kill their companions if they do not comply with their orders. The young people have no problem showing that they mean business and if they have to shoot someone they will. It is possible that if Morgan developed any debt to a crew member who helped him, he would step in the way and be the target of the first warning shot, leaving him lying on the ground, screaming in pain and bleeding profusely.
There should be no script from here on, as the situation can be extremely chaotic and changeable. Travelers should assess very well how to act to minimize the risk to their companions. Any attempt to measure the words of his kidnappers (using Deception, Streetwise or Persuasion, for example), can make it clear that Sebastien is the mastermind, but the love he feels for Amanda is real and she seems to really enjoy the whole situation. If the characters surrender, they will be handcuffed or tied up and locked in cabins, after demanding the systems security key from the captain. Their plan is to refuel and continue the journey with one or more jumps to reach a belt colony where they can meet with Amanda’s family. It’s just that if the case arises, the prisoners can’t expect much from their captors. In any case, for this, they will need the captain and the navigator and pilot at different times to carry out their tasks.
Another option is for the couple to work for a pirate and direct the ship to meet their companions, or their base. Or perhaps they could fit in as part of some pre-existing plot and work for some rival or enemy of the travelers.
Is That All?
Does it seem little to you? Well, if it seems that way to you, think that perhaps one more passenger works with Amanda and Sebastien, but he will not be held hostage to spy without the travelers knowing. When the right moment arrives, he will notify his companions of the travelers' plans. Or maybe if a shootout or fight breaks out, when the hijackers try to take control of the ship, he will side with them when no one expects him trying to get the most out of the surprise. Which passenger is in cahoots with the hijackers? You decide, but if he has no weapon skill, he includes a skill with firearms or close combat at level 0 at least.