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Grey Matters

This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue.

The team must rescue a doctor in time for him to save their gravely-injured friend.
Any Imperial world.
Equipment and Skills Needed:
None. Medical and Hunting skills may be useful.

Players’ Information

Prior to the adventure, one of the PCs or an important ally (the players may choose from among their number, or the referee can designate someone) suffers an explosion that results in grievous brain injury. Although the others managed to stabilize the victim, extraordinarily delicate surgery is required. Fortunately, the group has heard that a doctor capable of it is visiting a nearby town on business. Perhaps he could be persuaded to attend their stricken friend.

Urumssh, a highly skilled Virushi doctor, is happy to help. He has no transportation of his own, and will need for the team to provide transport to their friend. This is easier said than done; Virushi are large beings (3 meters long, nearly 2 meters at the shoulder, and weighing nearly a ton.) Transporting him will involve much more than simply piling him into an air/raft.

However they solve the problem of conducting the doctor, time is of the essence.

Referee’s Information

The doctor is in a town 100 kilometers away. The local police zealously enforce the speed limits. If the group has no vehicle large enough to accommodate a Virushi, they will have to rent one, at a charge of 1% of the price of a new vehicle per day (the renter must throw a good Reaction, +1 for SOC 9+).

The injury cannot be treated by a run-of-the-mill medic. A sliver of skull was driven into the hero’s brain tissue. While the damage was not immediately life-threatening, the bone shard has the potential to move deeper into the brain, causing increasing damage, personality change, and eventually an agonizing death. Rest is the only way to prevent increasing damage; unfortunately, this is not in the cards.

The first personality changes appear almost immediately; the symptoms are consistent with amnesia and paranoia. The victim does not recognize comrades and regards everyone and anyone as an enemy. The referee may impose additional mental disorders such as phantom voices and other hallucinations, multiple personalities, or uncontrolled rage. The paranoia compels the hero to escape. To that end, he or she does anything—even violence—to get away. If successful, the victim will hide in the wilderness. The referee should determine the chances of finding him or her; the searchers can apply any Hunting skill levels.

The referee should ensure that the stricken individual has undergone wounding and recovery from unconsciousness per Book 1: Characters and Combat. This will set the person’s STR, DEX, and END scores in a wounded state. Each hour he or she does anything other than rest quietly means 1D-3 (minimum 1) further damage from the migration of the bone spur deeper into the cerebrum. The referee should also throw vs. INT; failure means the immediate loss of one point. Subsequent hourly throws vs. INT occur against the new, lower total. If the character’s INT drops to 2, the damage becomes permanent. An INT of 0 means the individual lapses into a coma. At that point, the above physical damage occurs automatically until the character dies.

Meanwhile, the PCs delegated to pick up the physician are discovering a problem of their own: he is nowhere to be found. Unknown to them, several years ago the good doctor naively borrowed a large sum of money from Marome Raachald—a figure with ties to organized crime around the subsector—to fund research. Unfortunately, Raachald did not do her homework on the Virushi psychology; they do not respond to orders or threats. After Urumssh missed several payments (having thrown himself fully into his studies), Raachald began sending “bill collectors” to exact payment; all such attempts thus far have failed. Raachald has decided enough is enough and dispatched a gang of toughs to deliver Urumssh to her. Armed with powerful animal tranquilizers, the thugs subdued Urumssh, loaded him into a cargo vehicle, and fled.

The PCs may throw 9+ (DM: Streetwise skill) every thirty minutes to gather enough information to piece together the events of Urumssh’s abduction. Further inquiries (10+, DMs as above) turn up witnesses who can direct the group to a villa just outside of town.

Dr. Urumssh is kept chained in the villa’s basement. He is so far unharmed, but that will change if the PCs fail to arrive in time. Raachald leads ten thugs, all armed with pistols. They will fight until they lose half of their number, then the survivors will flee. Raachald will fight if cornered; otherwise, as soon as trouble starts, she heads for the nearest exit.

Assuming the adventurers are successful in rescuing Dr. Urumssh, he must still perform the surgery. This of course depends on whether the injured character has been found and returned safely. Urumssh will request assistance from an assistant surgeon (of Medical-2+) and an anesthetist. If either is unavailable, he will draw upon the PCs for help.

The surgery takes 1D+1 hours and is successful on a throw of 5+, which includes DMs for Urumssh’s skill level and dexterity, and the difficulty of the surgery. Additional DMs:

The referee may impose other DMs as befits the situation. Failing the surgery throw does 1D damage to the patient and forces a throw against his or her INT; failure removes another point of INT and makes the accumulated INT damage permanent. A throw of a natural 2 means death on the table.

If the surgery is successful, the patient’s full INT will be restored immediately. Given proper medical care, the physical damage will heal per the rules in Book 1: Characters and Combat. Dr. Urumssh will not charge for his services, considering his rescue to be more than sufficient payment.

The referee should determine the flow of subsequent events.


F8C895 (Virushi) Age 30 Cr20,000
3 terms Doctor

Urumssh is a typical Virushi, pacifistic and patient with those of lesser stature and intellect. He is also ethical to a fault and dedicated to his profession. His one flaw is not taking criminals seriously enough, such as the ones he failed to repay a loan they extended to him. He views his apparent peril with amusement rather than fear. His doctor’s instruments are specially built for Virushi hands.

The Virushi were detailed in the original Journal of the Travellers’ Aid Society #12 (1982).

Marome Raachald
45AA35 Age 34 Cr70,000
4 terms Other
Streetwise-2, Bribery-2, Revolver-1

Raachald grew up on the mean streets of a mining world’s Startown. She fell in with organized crime at an early age and now runs her own small operation. Despite being armed at all times, her first choice when trouble starts is to flee and always has at least one escape route planned.