From the Source
This article originally appeared in the November/December 2012 issue.
There is a world with human inhabitants. It is uncontacted, xenophobic, and heavily balkanized. It is also advanced enough that it can front up a few nuclear warheads for any threat that comes its way (which is why it is interdicted). Normally, not many threats do come its way; a regular Navy patrol is making sure of that, for the sake of both visitors and inhabitants of the planet. There were a few incidents in the past when merchants and scouts were killed by the inhabitants of this world. For the inhabitants these occasions seemed to be harbingers of alien invasions that were barely averted.
Though the interdiction patrol is handled by the Navy, the interdict was requested by the Scouts, and there is a senior Scout liaison who has oversight (but not operational command) of it.
However, the world is also the source of one of the most sought-after (if clandestinely) luxury goods in the sector. That information known only to the Scout liaison, and to a few ‘retired’ Scouts.
The Scouts, technically on detached duty, managed to get the loan of a ship with somewhat more cargo cubage than a Type S, and they use it (and the ship’s stealth capabilities) to land in a backwoods area of the planet to transact their business. The Scout liaison is getting a ‘cut’, in exchange for periodically telling the Navy to let them through, ostensibly to review whether the interdict is still needed. They bring out limited amounts of the goods, which command a very high price among those who know the sellers.
The PCs are approached by someone claiming to represent ‘interests’ that have learned where the goods come from, and who are backed by sizeable amounts of money. They are offering the PCs enough trade goods to fill their hold, all supposedly of value on the world, with the expectation that the PCs will acquire as much of the ‘stuff’ as they can for the goods. When they turn the ‘stuff’ over to the patron’s representatives, they will have all of their expenses paid, plus a healthy ‘finder’s fee’ amounting to 20% of the difference between the ‘retail’ price of the ‘stuff’ and the presumably lower price that the PCs will pay to acquire it.
It can’t be that hard, can it?
Well… it can. Naturally, neither the ‘interests’ nor the PCs are going to know everything they need to, and the lack of knowledge will inevitably complicate things. For example, they might not know about the xenophobia, or that the local detection capabilities are better than might be expected from the tech level, or how rare or common the luxury good is, or…
Possible directions to take this adventure
- The PCs are detected entering the atmosphere, causing major alarm. Fears of alien invasions, fueled by sightings of earlier spacecraft and some cold war paranoia make the characters an easy target on the bomb screens…
- The PCs are actually welcomed by one of the nations. They’ll sell as much of the luxury good as the PCs want, but only for advanced (to them) weapons or weapons technology. If the PCs don’t have or won’t sell what they want, they may have trouble leaving.
- As 2, but an opposing nation becomes aware of the PCs’ presence as well, and threatens global holocaust if the PCs don’t leave at once.
- The PCs are not noticed when entering the planet, but getting the local goods nevertheless proves difficult: they’ve landed far from where they come from, and cold war paranoia makes it nearly impossible to buy the goods locally.
- As 4, but the local government’s secret agencies are looking to kill or capture them as alien invaders
- As 5, but secret agencies from opposing countries are also after them, to get on their side for the coming invasion.
As always, further events are at the referee’s discretion.