A small balding man is carrying a suitcase of vials full of chemicals. He is anxious to keep the vials from breaking or opening. He identifies himself as a government courier, but dodges any questions about what he is carrying. Turn down his passage will make his government angry as he is on a mission to take samples to a government research lab.
He is carrying samples of natural scents to be studied for making a non-lethal crowd conrol agent. All the chemicals smell especially bad. That's why he doesn't want them to break. Once it becomes known what he is carrying, he speaks freely about it; it isn't classified. Too bad the vials break somehow...
- Enemy agents think it is chemical warfare samples and will try to steal the samples at any cost.
- An anti-government faction thinks they are for lethal crowd control advocated by big "evil" government and want to stop shipment of them. The government is actually benign and doesn't want to hurt its own citizens, but one of the anti-government agents (amateurs) dies of an asthma attack triggered by bad smelling stuff. This could give the anti-government group good propaganda 'proving' that it's right about lethal chemicals.
- Vials break by accident and stink up ship; when chemicals mix, there may
be odd side effects:
- One sample is from wild animal musk glands and contains super-power pheromones. Through an unfortunate biochemical coincidence, the pheromones are effective on humans, and the erotic tension aboard the ship is raised enormously, and inhibitions against acting on impulses are dulled. Anything goes; make it humorous and embarrassing once ship is clear of the stuff. Odd romances and love triangles for the whole jump. (when the lion lies down with the lamb?)
- Two samples, when mixed, form a mild airborne hallucinogen. Everybody is affected; the effects are similar to those of cannabinols... Food stores become depleted. (the referee can pull all kind of weird 'dream-sequences' on players to get a break from a campaign.)
- Samples when mixed becomes toxic and threatens to kill people over a period of exposure.
- Use your imagination for other humorous side-effects - don't make them immediately lethal (of course if the samples are in an isolated part of a ship, a NPC extra could die to show how gruesome the mix is.)
- Rival drug companies compete (violently) for info on mixture side-effects. Some want mood-altering mixes and other want lethal mixes, but won't divulge which one they're after and will try to stop other corporate agents.
- The small man lied. He is really a suicide 'bomber' and the chemical vials really hold a deadly biological weapon to kill everyone on the ship so others can take it over and crash it into the downport of the government. Too bad he has a change of heart and wants to live after all. (try to sell vials to corporate agents and 'retire' on big money payoff?)
- The small man lied. He is fleeing his government who wants vials to make lethal crowd control agents. He has a conscience and abhors what his government wants to do. Players who help get into trouble with the government - even if the help was accidental/unintended.
No matter what, the ship smells really bad until it gets decontaminated. Toilet humor about the ship attains urban legend status in sector starports...
...and no nobles mentioned! (maybe one could be embarrassed to be on ship when the s**t hits the deck) Give one player or npc a really bad head cold so he can't smell a thing! Toilet humor should be used freely.