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The Marrying Kind

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in Freelance Travellers May 2011 issue.


One of the PCs is offered a comely young woman’s hand in marriage; but is she a dream girl, or a horrible nightmare?

Equipment required: a starship.

Setting: a non-interdicted world with atmosphere 6 or 8, a Type D or less starport, and Tech Level 4 or less.

Although this adventure is designed for a male character, the gender roles can be easily switched around, if desired. If none of the players are willing to go along with the plot, an NPC can be substituted with no trouble.

Players’ Information

The people of this world, although simple, have learned that the large metal sky-urns that visit bring people eager to inspect and buy their wares. To that end, they have set up a huge bazaar on the edges of the starport. The bazaar has a carnival-like atmosphere, with brightly colored tents and banners and barkers and entertainers enticing these strange peoples into parting with some of their money.

One section of the bazaar features well-dressed young men and women on display accompanied by older people. Locals and offworlders alike are moving up and down the rows, inspecting the young adults, and occasionally stopping to speak with them and their companions.

As the team notes this development one of the older men, accompanied by a stunningly beautiful young woman, approaches one of the male team members. Reacting to the group’s apparent puzzlement, the old man informs them that his daughter is indeed for sale and he seems quite insistent that they purchase her. The price is reasonable, only Cr5000, and he is even willing to take part of it in trade goods. He assures them that she is of pure virtue and can cook, sew, and perform other domestic tasks to perfection—the perfect lifemate.

GM’s Information

The PCs may believe that they have come upon a prostitution or slave-trading operation. Nothing could be further from the truth—the only thing being sold is the girl’s hand in marriage. The practice of selling khambellem, or marriage contracts, while repugnant on its face, is common and accepted on this world, and considered a binding contract. Khambellem are recognized under Imperial law, as long as they constitute simple marital unions and not disguised chattel relationships. Male relatives, usually fathers, are responsible for conducting the sales and can provide paperwork having the effect of a marriage license. Such marriage sales are quite popular and wildly lucrative. The terms of the khambellem are few, but strict; divorces and refunds are not permitted except in cases of abuse, infidelity, or fraud.

The girl is very beautiful and demure (she will seem to be the character’s ideal mate) and seems quite willing to fulfill whatever contract her father can arrange for her. She is also very intelligent, able to hold her own in any conversation with the PC (within her experiences, of course.) The old man’s terms are actually quite reasonable. He can be haggled down to as low as 60% of his asking price, which still a substantial amount of money on this world, and is truthful about accepting part of the price in trade goods.

Of course, the prospect of purchased matrimonial bliss may be just an illusion. The GM may select a result from the choices below or roll for one randomly on 1D:

1. All is as represented. The PC’s new wife is an exceptional housekeeper, and can keep their shared quarters clean, the PC well fed, and their clothes and other possessions in top condition. Her intellect is as sharp as she demonstrated onplanet and she can learn some shipboard skills.

2. As 1, except the girl can cook, clean, and sew—and that’s all. And frankly, none of those very well. She grew up very sheltered and is illiterate and quite unsophisticated. The mental prowess she displayed on the planet was just a well-choreographed ruse, designed to get her married and gone before the truth could be discovered.

3. The sale was a bad deal: the new wife is probably the most spoiled, high-maintenance brat in the subsector. She has a jealous streak a parsec wide, and will not tolerate any other woman in her husband’s presence. In addition, she is extremely demanding, is a total spendthrift, and is prone to loud temper tantrums when brought up short. She may or may not have any domestic skills. Naturally, she will not display any of this behavior until the adventurers’ ship jumps.

4. As 3, except that in addition to being a spoiled brat, the girl is also a thief. She skipped planet with a valuable family heirloom that her father would be very angry to discover missing. The nature of the object is up to the GM, but its value should be substantial, perhaps worth thousands. The GM should base the chances on recovery attempts by the family on the item’s value.

5. The PC is an unwitting pawn in a covert operation. The girl is actually an undercover agent and the old man is her handler, posing as her father. She is carrying information vital to Imperial interests and must get to her staging base on a nearby world as soon as possible. She will play along with the group as long as they are going in her general direction or keeping to areas where she can easily disappear. Otherwise, she will cajole them into taking her where she wants to go using whatever persuasive methods she can. If the team is especially resistant to her suggestions, or is engaging in activity she deems treasonous, she will try to commandeer the ship.

6. The hero’s new bride is a homicidal maniac, responsible for several deaths on her homeworld. Her father has conspired to quietly marry her to an offworlder in order to keep her neck off the chopping block. Of course, as soon as the team has jumped, she will resume her previous activities...

As always, The GM should determine the flow of subsequent events.