This adventure was originally posted to the pre-magazine Freelance Traveller website in 2006 and reprinted in the January/February 2016 issue.
The PCs need a starship, preferably equivalent in capability to a 200-ton Empress Marava-class Far Trader. Although the adventure as written takes place on Feri (2005 Spinward Marches) the GM can set it on any other world currently undergoing insurgency or open warfare.
The adventurers have been fortunate. Their last run, while not their most lucrative, allowed them to pay off a few outstanding bills. And a new client (and his much-needed money) was immediately available. The patrons is a high cleric of the Ferai, or “Chosen”, a minority religion based on the nearby world of Feri. The Ferai are not well liked, and suffer official discrimination in many of Feri’s countries.
Recently, a large group of Ferai became victims of Feri’s ongoing international conflict. They were massacred in an outlying province in Ivar, Feri’s smallest country, but the scene of some of the most intense fighting. The violent deaths shocked the Ferai worldwide; in their grief, they commissioned a huge cenotaph to be created by offworld Ferai and erected on what they now considered sacred ground. The cenotaph, a large stone cylinder 5 yards in diameter and 20 yards high, is carved in intricate detail with the history of the Ferai, and the names and genealogies of the victims. The stone is so large it has been sectioned into four pieces—each fitting to the others only in certain ways, to prevent mix-ups—to fit in a starship’s hold. Along with equipment necessary to hold the sections firmly in place, the cenotaph is expected to take up most of the ship's cargo bay and weighs well over 200 tons.
The Ferai cleric is authorized to pay the group for the entire value of their cargo hold (Cr179,400, assuming a full Far Trader hold at Cr650/ton) and high passage for himself. He can pay the group up front if they ask, but only after the cenotaph has been loaded onboard. There are also two conditions. One, the cenotaph is considered a sacred object; the cleric asks the group not to touch it (except for during loading and offloading) or try to read the inscriptions without his permission. Two, the PCs are to undergo a purification ritual in order to be considered fit to transport the column. This will involve prayers and other rites that will take an entire day.
Upon arriving at Feri, the party will run into a problem: the Ferai that were to take possession of the cenotaph are overdue. A check of the local newsfeeds will reveal that they were killed in an ambush en route to the starport. The cleric is desperate; without reliable alternate help to transport the cenotaph to its destination, he is forced to extend the adventurers’ contract. He will offer up to an additional Cr10,000 to help get the cenotaph to its new home, plus he will fund the hiring of whatever vehicles and equipment they need to complete the task.
World Data on Feri can be found in GURPS Traveller: Behind the Claw on p.81.
The cenotaph is massive. The PCs will find it necessary to get some heavy lifting equipment, with grav lifters being preferred. The GM should determine the availability and price of such equipment. Remember that Feri is a world at war, and it may take more than just a comm call or a stroll down the block to get hold of suitable machinery.
Ivar has seen an upsurge of insurgent activity recently. It has gotten so bad the legitimate government is in danger of being overthrown. Guerilla bands roam the countryside almost at will, attacking targets with impunity and setting up armed camps.
The guerillas are equipped to TL9. They have the capability to take on armor, including shooting down aircraft. Most of them are battle-hardened and are intimately familiar with the terrain. The group will be able to determine this basic information from local news reports. Stats for a typical insurgent appear below. The team is well-advised to travel overland using wheeled or tracked vehicles; aircraft, even civilian craft, are in great danger of being shot down if they fly over Ivar. Any team member will realize this with a successful Tactics roll.
The cenotaph’s final resting-place is in the countryside about 300 miles from the starport. The first hundred miles will be relatively uneventful, as the trip is through a country friendly to the Imperium—and helps protect offworlders—and is powerful enough to battle intruding troops. Once they reach the border of Ivar, however, they are in danger of attack from insurgents and Ivari soldiers alike.
Encounter tables for the trip appear below. The GM should roll the indicated chance for encounter every four hours. Reactions from all parties encountered are at -2 because the visitors are with a despised minority, and a further -1 for general suspicion, for a total of -3.
The target area is in a beautiful wooded valley. The Ferai have established a small community of about 100 people here, constructing log cabins for dwellings, digging wells, planting food crops, and setting up a temple. The cenotaph site is in the center of the village.
As the group approaches the community, they may sense that something is amiss; the cleric has +2 to determine this. Unknown to the group, the entire community has been taken over by a force of 30 armed guerillas, who have enslaved the Ferai while they use the hamlet as a base of operations. The Ferai have been docile, and the lack of trouble has caused the intruders to relax their guard (-1 on Tactics rolls). Half the guerillas are active at any time, but can summon the other half as backup in less than five minutes.
If the players realize the danger in time, they can conceal their approach; roll a Quick Contest between the guerillas’ Perception and the players’ Stealth or Camouflage rolls. If the guerillas win, they will hide and prepare ambushes for the team. The GM may also allow a Quick Contest of Tactics rolls if the two groups have detected one another.
The Ferai are noncombatants and will not help in the final conflict unless the cleric specifically rallies them. Even then, they will confine their actions mostly to non-violent methods, such as creating distractions, sabotaging vehicles, etc.
If the team and the Ferai win the encounter, the intruders will permanently quit the community. The cleric will pay the adventurers as promised, and after erecting and blessing their cenotaph, the Ferai will fete the players for helping them.
|Encounter Table (War Zone, 10-)|
|10||Event (Roll on Event table)|
|16-18||10D Ivari Military|
These are noncombatants, going about the business of survival. They will try their level best to avoid strangers, especially armed ones.
The Ivari guerillas are composed of all manner of individuals: disaffected Ivari soldiers, activist civilians, and an assortment of adventurers and crazies. Their collective training and experience is similar enough that they can all be represented with one set of statistics (GURPS 3Ed). All skills are at TL 9.
ST 11 ; DX 11 ; IQ 10 ; HT 10 . Speed 5.25.
Fanaticism (Patriotic) [-15]; Fearlessness +1 ; Fit ; Sense of Duty (to comrades) [-5].
Armoury (Small Arms)-10 ; Brawling-12 ; Driving*-11 ; Electronics Operation (Comm Systems)-10 ; First Aid-10 ; Gunner (anti-tank weapon or surface-to-air missile launcher) -11 ; Guns (Assault Rifle)-12** ; Guns (Auto Pistol)-12** ; Hiking-10 ; Knife-11 ; Scrounging-10 ; Tactics-9 .
5.5mm Assault rifle (as described in GURPS Traveller:114), large knife (as described in GURPS Basic Set:206 [3rd Edition] or :272 [4th Edition]). 2 in 6 also have a sidearm, either revolvers or auto pistols. 1 in 6 have captured body armor vests equivalent to Cloth. Gunners will have portable anti-tank weapons or surface-to-air missile launchers.
For Fourth Edition GURPS, add 10 points to the DX stat, raise the level of Gunner skill to 12 and lower the level of the Guns skills to 11 each.
* Driving skill varies widely depending on the individual. Most can operate a light civilian vehicle (motorcycle, ground car, or equivalent). 2 in 6 can operate heavy vehicles (trucks, buses, or construction equipment). 1 in 6 can operate military vehicles.
** Gun skills all include +1 for IQ 10.
Elements of the regular Ivari Armed Forces. They are feeling besieged and thus jumpy and belligerent; they react to others at an additional -1. For quick-and-dirty stats, use the Insurgent NPC template. Or the GM can use the military character templates from GURPS Traveller and GURPS Traveller: Ground Forces.
An encounter with Feri’s environment occurs. The GM should roll 1d for the event type on the table below, and roll vs. the War Zone encounter chance above for possible additional encounters.
The band is caught in a pitched battle between Ivari soldiers and a force of guerillas. The PCs can avoid the fighting with a successful Tactics roll. The GM can game out the result, or each PC can simply roll vs. HT; failure indicates 2d injuries.
Adverse weather conditions move through the area. A roll of 1d+1 indicates the system’s severity; the resulting number is a general penalty to the group’s movement, combat actions, and vision. The GM should use appropriate imagination to describe the type of weather based on the roll. For instance, a 1d+1 roll of 2 could be a light but steady rain, while a 7 may have the group nervously scanning for funnel clouds. The storm will last 10d minutes. GMs may instead use the Weather generation tables in GURPS Traveller: First In (sidebars, p. 72-74).
The group’s vehicles contact a land mine or an unexploded bomb, perhaps a booby trap set by insurrectionists. The explosive will do 6d damage to the unfortunate vehicle, probably disabling it, with each person in the vehicle who fails a HT roll taking 1/4 of this damage (after subtracting the vehicle’s DR and any DR for personal armor). The GM must determine the chances of repairing the vehicle based on the total damage.
Armed conflict in the area has sent large numbers of either wildlife or civilian refugees on a panicked flight from the area. Roll a d6 and multiply by 2; the resulting number is the divisor for vehicle movement rates for the duration of the stampede and thus an indicator of the density of the crowds. Anyone outside the vehicles and thus in the path of the stampede must make a DX roll; failure indicates 1 point of damage per point the roll was missed by. The stampede will last for 3d+3 minutes.