An Introductory Corporate Repo Adventure
This article originally appeared in the November/December 2017 issue.
This is a Corporate Repo adventure, where the characters have been hired (or have a job) recovering starships from governments or companies who have seized them. This is very much an introductory adventure. The characters will not need a starship for this adventure, and this could be their introduction to the world of corporate repo. A general introduction to corporate repo has been published (Freelance Traveller, May/June 2017, page 32).
In the text below, planetary and corporate names were chosen as placeholders. Referees should feel free to replace them with planets or corporations that exist in their own campaign.
Pashwaray is a backwater, but with at least a medium sized population. The population has a high-freedom, low-law attitude, so the government is small, and most of what would normally be government functions are privatized and handled by corporations. Policing functions are handled by corporations called “secfirms”, which are half way between a police force and protection racket. For decades, Kezensay Corporation (your company) has paid one of these firms to protect its regular operations, which consist of one part-time broker and a large transport that imports gourmet foods.
Unfortunately, about 18 months ago, that firm got into debt, and allowed another secfirm to seize your company’s starship in return for debt forgiveness. It was cheaper to sell out the offworlders than pay off the debt. For practical reasons (the secfirm was the law, the government didn’t care and was impotent anyway, the place was lawless and awash with guns), the company decided to write off the ship’s loss.
However, the director for special projects the company has kept her eye on the situation, and recently realized that several pieces of good luck had come together, so that it now might be possible to repo the ship. First: a mercenary cruiser was going to be within a single jump of Pashwaray, on other business, and so could be hired for less than normal, as little transportation time would be required. Similarly, a team of repo operators (the player characters) would also be available at the same time and place. Furthermore, the starship was being used by the secfirm to transport bulk materials between Pashwaray and a neighboring system (Hilberandin), on a regularly scheduled run, so the director knew exactly when it would be in port. By planning ahead, the director was able to bring all this intel and luck together to repo the ship for a reasonable about of money.
The mercenary cruiser will jump in-system, and deploy shuttles with troops to the ship and the areas around the ship. The ship is scheduled to be offloading cargo when the cruiser is scheduled to arrive. There will be normal security, but the mercenaries are a military unit and should sweep those guys aside and clear the ship of whatever crew is onboard. The repo team will then be boarded onto the ship, and will fly it out.
It should be the easiest repo mission ever.
The referee should get the players to write down what is in each character’s “go bag” when they load onto the shuttle. Especially as the cargo ship’s locker is likely to be looted. Even cutting a mooring cable will be surprisingly difficult without any tools. And if the characters are so reliant on the mercenaries that they don’t bring weapons, that will surely be a problem if there are cargo handlers loose on the ship, as described in the Optional Complications.
The Repo Team
The repo team might expect to be landed on the ship after the fighting is over, but no. Instead, a shuttle is split, mercenaries at the front, repos at the back. The mercenaries will clear out the ship, the repos will stay (or cower) in the shuttle until the “all clear” is given, when they will board the ship, and the mercenaries will fly out on the shuttle.
If the repo team has some fighting skills, then the referee should get them involved in fighting: maybe a security robot tries to enter the shuttle after the mercenaries leave, but before the all clear is given.
But, the big surprise for the repo team will be when the mercenary cruiser leaves right after the team boards the starship. The repo team thought they were being escorted out, but the mercenaries think they have already fulfilled their contract.
The referee should create suitable problems for the repo team to face, based on their skills and general experience. For example, the ship might not really be completely clear. There might be armed guards or unarmed crew hiding somewhere. The mercenaries might have damaged the ship’s airlock when boarding, or damaged onboard equipment while fighting. The ship is likely to have partial cargo aboard, and that cargo might create complications. At a minimum the ship will need to be started up, seperated from the cargo facility, and freed from any tie-downs.
Once the ship is free from the loading dock, and heading into orbit, you can throw another nasty surprise at the repo team: the Pashwaray Navy! Of course Pashwaray doesn’t have a Navy, but it might have contracts with a couple of armed spaceships to act as a coast guard, and the characters might see those ships intercepting them. Even worse, the secfirm which “owns” the ship might have a vessel within intercept range. Or, there might be ships doing privatized customs enforcement which are in position to block the repo.
Once the characters get the ship to the 100 D line, they can jump out of system, and their problems should be over (especially if they can jump to the same place that the mercenary cruiser jumped to, or a place that has corporate assets available to help. Of course, even after the jump, depending on the ship’s original crew and cargo, trouble might still be on board for added fun in jumpspace.
Alternative Presentation for This Adventure
Mercenary Ticket: This adventure could also be used as a mercenary ticket adventure. In this case, the PCs would be the mercenaries, and the repo team would be NPCs who needed protection. If you go this route, then protection of the starship and starport area should be handled by a quasi-military secfirm, just so it’s a fair fight. It might even be possible to run it with two different groups of players at the same time, at two tables, although I’ve never tried to do that.
The hold is about 90% empty, but there are some self-contained animal crates in the back, which had not been off loaded when the characters seized (’recovered’) the ship. These crates clean themselves and provide food and water to the capybara-like animals within. However, they are only designed to work for 10-11 days, so a few days into jumpspace, the animals start running out of food and water.
Unfortunately, these animals are naturally psionic under extreme distress and after 1D÷2 days without food or water, and living in their own waste, the distress is extreme.
These animals have a “wild” (or uncontrollable) Telekinetic ability which manifests as pain or hunger becomes extreme. It is important to realize that the animals are not directing the movements they cause. The movements just happen. The referee can determine the details, but the following randomness works well:
Roll 1D the first day after the animals’ discomfort becomes severe, and an additional 1D each succeeding day (that is, 1D the first day, 2D the second, 3D the third, and so on). This roll indicates the number of random telekinetic events that occur.
For each event:
- Roll d6 for range:
- 1-3: close range
- 4-5: short range
- 6: medium range.
Roll d6 for the mass of the object moved, in grams. This is an exponent: 1 = 10g, 2 = 100g, 3 = 1kg, etc.
- Roll d6 for target:
- 1-2: physical object lying around
- 3-4: physical change to a ship system
- 5-6: electrical change to a ship system.
As a referee, if you are using this complication, I would have the first couple of telekinetic actions set up in advance, and possibly tailored so that the characters think they have a stowaway, or are being sabotaged by a previous crewman (or even by a fellow adventurer, if you run that kind of campaign).
The characters can fix the problem by feeding and watering the animals (they’re omnivores, and can eat anything that humans can), by killing them, or by using psionic dampening or shielding technology, if they have any. But in most cases, the hard part will be figuring out what is really going on. This is one of those troubleshooting situations, where the symptoms of trouble are pretty random, and it’s hard to link them back to their original cause.
The referee should also think about the end game if the characters end up in possession of the animals, and understanding their psionic powers. Depending on your Imperium, these animals could valuable or dangerous to own, or both. They could be of interest to scientists, the government, mystics, or no one. Whatever the situation, think about it ahead of time.
The cargo hold is set up as for the psionic animal complication; however, the animals are not psi and are not starving. However, one or two of the cages actually hold people. These are cargo handlers, who when they heard the firefight had the presence of mind to hop into an empty cage. The mercenaries scanned the cargo from one end of the hold, and it all looked like animals to them.
At the first opportunity, the cargo handlers will get out and try to hide somewhere else, probably a store room near or in the cargo bay. They were brought up on dirtside stories of blood thirsty pirates, and come from a generally violent society, so they are likely to “shoot first and ask questions never”, but they are not armed. Their basic plan is to hide out until the ship docks, and then rush out of the cargo hold before they can be killed. Once the ship is docked they will try to open non-standard hatches and cargo doors in order to get off the ship (and possibly also to create a diversion).
If discovered during jump, they will try to capture a crew member and negotiate to return him or her when they are freed at the other end of the jump. (Interestingly, the Repo team would probably accept those terms, if they were sure they would be honored.) Unless discovered on the first day, the cargo handlers will have “jerry-rigged” some weapons. For example:
- Bucket of caustic cleaning chemicals with a spray pump in it. The pump is battery powered, and the nozzle modified to give it a 10 or 20 foot range.
- They will certainly found some metal pry bars (for clubs) and knives.
Of course, it is possible to run both extensions at the same time, and have them interfere with each other to sow confusion among the characters, the cargo loaders, and maybe even the animals.
Why not grab the ship at the other end of its run?
This question might never come up, because the planning is being done by the subsector director, but if it does, here are some possible answers:
- The other end of the run is even more dangerous than Pashwaray, so the secfirm has armed guards (or at least armed thugs) aboard for the run, and you prefer to avoid those folks.
- The company does not know exactly where the other end of the cargo run is. The secfirm keeps that information secret.
- Because the mining operation on Hilberandin is very profitable, there are weapon emplacements protecting it, right near the port, and new and up-to-date. However, Pashwaray’s defenses are old, run down, and spread out over a large area.
Assembling This Adventure from Free Sources
One of the great things about Traveller is that there is so much Traveller-compatible material available on-line. With that in mind, here are some web sources for different parts of this adventure.
- The Starship Being Recovered:
(or you can use any of the available deckplans for smaller ships)
- The Mercenary Cruiser:
- The classic Broadsword Mercenary Cruiser:
http://www.ace-dog.com/Traveller/DeckPlans/DECKPLAN.HTM (search for “broadsword”)
- A type-R merchant conversion:
- http://www.ace-dog.com/Traveller/DeckPlans/DECKPLAN.HTM (search for “Gyrfalcon”)
- A Corsair is very similar to a Mercenary Cruiser:
- Assault Corvette, but no floorplans:
- A warbot to throw at the PCs: